I don't make New Year's resolutions, but I do like to set some goals at the start of a new year. When I thought about setting goals for this year, I decided to go back and look at last year’s goals. Guess what? Most of them are exactly the same for 2010. I’ve made progress on many of these, especially time management, but all of these areas still need work, and in some of them I’ve actually regressed. So...
Here are some of my goals for the coming year. They are in no particular order, and I'm sure I will think of more later, but for now:
1. To go to bed earlier than I do now.
2. To exercise and drink plenty of water every day.
3. To make my daily quiet time with God ever more meaningful.
4. To continue to grow in the areas of godly speech and diligence in work.
5. To continue to grow in the practical skills of homemaking, money management, and time management. One specific goal in this area is to spend less money on groceries in the coming year, remembering the principle that money not spent is money saved.
6. To get back to and then stick with the housekeeping routines that work for me.
7. To continue to grow spiritually and to use my talents and my spiritual gifts for God's glory. To spend more time in Bible study in the coming year, and to apply what I learn to my daily life.
8. To use my God-given interests and abilities to help bring in some household income.
9. To be more of a help to my husband; to make our home more of a refuge from the world for both of us.
10. To learn and profit from the lessons that God has for me so I that I won’t have to learn them more than once.
11. To do something creative, no matter how small, every day.
12. To stay in closer touch with my friends and to be a better friend.
Yesterday was a very blustery day; cold and windy with wind chills well below zero. It was a day to stay inside and work on housework and crafts. I vacuumed the entire house and washed the floor in the front hallway. I also washed the stairs, something I like to do a couple of times per year. I got quite a bit of sewing and embroidery done as well, and spent time working on the Sunday School lesson for the coming week. Supper was a hearty ground beef stew, served with rolls.
Here's a fun vintage card to enjoy. Stay warm, everyone!
Yes, it's been snowing most of the day here. I can't really tell how much accumulation we have, but everything is frosted with the white stuff and it looks very pretty. Sunday was a rainy day and had turned our driveway to ice. So I'm actually happy to see the snow clinging to the ice.
I wanted to share another vintage Christmas card with everyone, since it's still December. This firelit room looks like such a cozy place to be on a snowy day. Cup of tea, anyone?
Here's another vintage card from my collection. The poinsettia and candle design from the center oval is repeated in a background print. The red bow beneath the oval is a real red satin ribbon. How pretty!
Oh, how much I wanted to post in each of my blogs regularly throughout the Christmas season!! I love Christmas so dearly, and want to share my thoughts about it with others. But this season, for whatever reason, there just hasn't been the time to post the way I wanted to. For the next few days, I'm going to post some scans of my favorite vintage Christmas cards from my collection. I will post a different card on each blog, hoping that these will inspire and delight my readers as Christmas draws ever nearer.
This lovely old card is a special favorite of mine. I love the little village nestled in the moonlit snow, and the simple church in the foreground. The white holly wreath and bow surrounds the scene, and the words "Silent Night, Holy Night" say it all. I can take a deep breath and be flooded with calmness and tranquility as I look at the details of this card.
On Monday Mr. T had the day off unexpectedly. In addition to my usual laundry and other Monday tasks, I was able to take some time to work on Christmas preparations with him. In the morning we looked for some specific items at Walmart and Dollar Tree. One thing I was particularly looking for was some plastic holiday placemats. The only placemats I have that work with my Christmas tablecloths are green fabric ones I sewed a few years back. But I don't have enough of those to wash them every time there's a spill. Since it's much easier to just wipe down plastic ones after a meal, I was looking for plastic placemats in either red, green or gold. I didn't find any -- the only ones I found were fabric. But what I did find, in the clearance aisle at Walmart, was some red/white checked vinyl placemats for only 30¢ each! They look super with my Christmas tablecloths and other decorations too. I bought ten!
After we got back and had lunch, Mr. T put up the Christmas tree. We have an older, but very high-quality artificial tree given us a few years back by friends who were downsizing. It looks almost real... and it even sheds its needles! This will probably be its last year, and we'll look for a new one on clearance after Christmas. We have always had real trees, many from our own land, but the past couple years have used this artificial one. We like it because it doesn't need watering and can be safely left up as long as we like. Later, we headed out again. Mr. T had an errand to do in a nearby town, so I decided to go along and we could check out a favorite bookstore in a quaint shopping center for some Christmas gifts. Sadly, they had only one of the books I was looking for (I found the rest online later) but it was worth the trip. When we came out of the bookstore, snow was drifting down on the charming brick paths and it was just like a Christmas card come to life. It was a different Monday, but a pleasantly productive one for our Christmas preparations. It really put us in the Christmas spirit!
Wow, I just can't believe I haven't posted here since Thanksgiving. I've done a bit better about posting at my Christmas blog, but I sure have been among the missing here.
I had ambitious plans to post here every day of December with a Christmas recipe, decorating idea, etc. Guess I am a few days behind schedule!
What has kept me so busy? Nothing out of the ordinary, just the busyness that goes with being part of the "sandwich generation". Cooking, cleaning, shopping, keeping track of medications, etc. for elderly parents. Trying to find time with grandchildren and to stay in touch with faraway loved ones. Then there's Sunday School lesson preparation, making angel wings for Christmas costumes, trying to keep a reasonably clean house and a reasonably well-fed family, baking Christmas goodies, making and shopping for gifts, trying to decorate the house and wrap gifts... I know that many of you are in similar situations.
I have lots to post about, so I'm going to try and do much better about blogging in the remaining days of December! In the meantime, may each of us keep our focus on the real, true meaning of this blessed season.
Roast Turkey Stuffing Mashed Potatoes, Gravy Sweet Potato Casserole Pearl Onions (brought by guests) Fruit & Nut Tossed Salad Cranberry Sauce Crumb-Topped Apple Pie Pumpkin Pie Key Lime Pie (brought by guests)
I suppose most of you already have your menu set and know exactly what recipes you'll be using. But just in case, I will share some of my tried-and-true recipes here. For the turkey, I have tried a number of roasting methods. But the foolproof, best way I have found is to buy a turkey-sized oven bag and follow the chart and directions for roast turkey. Moist and wonderful every time. I roast it unstuffed.
For the stuffing, I buy a bag of Pepperidge Farm herb-seasoned stuffing and follow the directions on the bag, sauteing plenty of chopped celery and onion in the butter before adding it. Usually, I cook the stuffing in a crockpot on low, adding a little chicken broth if necessary from time to time to keep it moist. One can bake the stuffing in the oven, of course, but I like the crockpot better. And the oven is usually pretty full of other things, anyway. For mashed potatoes, these are the best:
MAKE-AHEAD MASHED POTATOES
8 medium to large potatoes, peeled and cut up 8 ounces cream cheese, softened 1/2 cup sour cream 1/2 tsp. onion powder Salt to taste Paprika Parsley flakes
In large saucepan or dutch oven, combine potatoes and enough water to nearly cover them. Bring to boil; reduce heat, and cook, covered, 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain. Mash the potatoes, gradually adding cream cheese, sour cream, salt, and onion powder. Beat with electric mixer (or by hand if you prefer) until fluffy. Spoon into a greased 3-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley. Cover and refrigerate overnight. * One hour before serving, remove potatoes from refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350º. Bake potatoes uncovered for 45 to 60 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings * Potatoes can be baked immediately if you prefer to eat them the same day. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
This recipe is a must for Thanksgiving and other gatherings when large amounts of people will be eating mashed potatoes. For our Thanksgivings when we have 20+ people, I usually double this or make 1 1/2 times the recipe.
For years I struggled with making turkey gravy, often resorting to packets of mix or canned or jarred gravy. The following recipe, which I found online, is just perfect and so easy. And it makes a lot! EASY TURKEY GRAVY
5 cups turkey stock with pan drippings 1 can cream of chicken soup 1 tsp. poultry seasoning 1/2 tsp. black pepper 1 tsp. seasoned salt 1/4 tsp. garlic powder 1 cup milk 1/3 cup flour
Bring the turkey stock to boil in a large saucepan. Stir in soup, and season with poultry seasoning, pepper, seasoned salt, and garlic powder. Reduce heat to low, and let simmer.
Warm the milk in the microwave, and whisk in the flour with a fork until there are no lumps. (Or shake the milk and flour together in a plastic shaker.) Return the gravy to a boil, and gradually stir in the milk mixture. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Be careful not to let the mixture scorch on the bottom of the pan.
Sometimes I make a squash dish and a sweet potato one. This year I decided to make it easy on myself and have just one orange vegetable.
SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE
2 large cans cut yams, drained and mashed* 1/4 cup margarine, melted 1/2 cup sugar 2 eggs 1/3 cup evaporated milk** Pinch of nutmeg Topping: 1/2 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup flour (may use whole wheat) 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts 1/4 cup softened margarine (may use 3 Tablespoons oil instead) Mix the first six ingredients in a large bowl; beat with electric mixer until well combined. Pile into a 2-quart baking dish. In another bowl, stir together topping ingredients. Sprinkle over top of potatoes. Bake the casserole at 325º to 350º for 35 minutes. Makes 6 to 8 side-dish servings. May be made ahead and frozen for future use. Simply thaw overnight in refrigerator and bake as directed.
* Or substitute about 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked, and mashed.
** Or substitute evaporated skim milk or fat-free half & half.
This year, I think I am going to omit the topping and use mini marshmallows instead, just for a change of pace. I wanted something green to add to our feast, but didn't want it to be a heavy broccoli or green bean casserole. I decided instead to use a favorite salad recipe. FRUIT and NUT TOSSED SALAD
1 large or 2 medium bunches romaine, torn in bite-size pieces 1 can (11 oz.) mandarin oranges, drained 1 cup seedless red grapes, halved 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted (I toast nuts in the microwave -- quick & easy)
Dressing: 1/4 cup lemon juice 3 Tblsp. vegetable oil 3 Tblsp. sugar
In a large bowl combine all of the salad ingredients and gently toss together. Put all of the dressing ingredients in a small jar. Cover securely and shake to combine. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat ingredients with dressing. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
This is a delicious salad! It’s also very good served with a Mexican meal -- the light, fruity taste is a nice contrast to the spicy hot flavors. I think I will add a few dried cranberries for Thanksgiving, too.
For cranberry sauce, I am going to have a can of jellied sauce, but am also trying a baked cranberry sauce recipe from the new Susan Branch e-newsletter. We have to have pie. Even for just a few people, I think it's nice to offer a choice of pie flavors. I am making these two and a friend is bringing a key lime pie.
CRUMB TOP APPLE PIE
1/2 c. brown sugar 1/4 tsp. nutmeg 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. salt Unbaked 9” pie shell 6 apples, peeled, cored, sliced Lemon juice Crumb topping: 1/2 c. sugar 3/4 c. flour 1/2 tsp. cinnamon Dash of salt 1/2 cup butter
Begin by mixing together the brown sugar and spices in a small bowl. In the pie shell, alternate layers of apples with the spice mixture. Sprinkle each layer with lemon juice before adding another layer. When all apples and spices are in pie shell, make the topping by mixing the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and dash of salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until crumbs form. Top the pie with the crumb topping. Bake the pie at 450º for 15 minutes; then reduce the heat to 350º and bake 30 minutes more. Serve warm with cheddar cheese or ice cream on the side.
This excellent pie comes from Jane & Michael Stern’s wonderful cookbook, Square Meals. I have made this pie so many times that its page in my handwritten cookbook is freckled with apple juice and spices. EASY PUMPKIN PIE
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust 1 15-ounce can pumpkin 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk 2 eggs 1 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. nutmeg 1/4 tsp. ginger 1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 425º. Combine all ingredients except pie crust in a large bowl and beat with electric mixer until well combined. Pour into crust.
Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350º. Bake pie for 35 to 40 minutes longer or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool pie before cutting or serving. Refrigerate leftovers.
I have never really cared for pumpkin pie, I must confess. A couple of years ago I found the above recipe on line and I have never looked back. This one is truly delicious and so easy. I am going to top it with a baked pastry cutout in the form of a turkey.
Hope these recipes, even if a bit last-minute, may enhance your family's Thanksgiving tomorrow!
Are you intimidated by pie crust? I always used to be, but an easy oil recipe made the difference. With Thanksgiving coming up tomorrow, I thought maybe people could use some pie-making help. So I decided to re-post some pie-making tips I shared here a couple of years ago.
As I mentioned, my very best advice on pie crust is to use an oil pastry. Here’s my tried and true recipe:
MRS. T’S OIL PIE CRUST (for a 1-crust pie)
1 1/3 c. flour 1 t. salt 1/3 c. canola oil 3-5 T. milk
Stir together flour and salt in a small to medium. bowl. Measure oil into glass measuring cup, add milk to oil. Pour milk and oil into the flour/salt mixture. Combine with a fork till it forms a nice ball of dough. Take a wet dishcloth and wash off a section of your counter. Lay a large piece of wax paper on the wet area (so it’ll stick). Put the dough on the wax paper and lay another piece of wax paper on top. Roll out the dough to desired size and shape between the 2 pieces of wax paper. This works really well and saves you having to flour the counter!
For a double-crust pie, use the following:
2 cups flour 1 tsp. salt 1/2 cup canola oil 1/4 cup milk
Mix and roll out as above.
I have double or tripled this recipe with no problems. However, I do find that when doubling or tripling, I end up with an extra crust or two, so keep that in mind when figuring how much pastry you’ll need.
Many people think they wouldn’t like a pie crust made with oil. I always use an oil crust for my pies, and they always turn out well. I think an oil pastry is much less finicky than one made with shortening or butter; the dough is much easier to work with. And of course, a crust made with canola oil is healthier, too!
Other pie tips:
When making a double crust pie, after placing the filling in the bottom crust, moisten the rim of the bottom crust with a little cold water. Add your top crust and trim and seal as usual. The cold water helps the two crusts to hold together well.
When making a double-crust fruit pie, brush the top crust with a little cold water or milk, then sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar before baking. Don’t forget to cut some slits for steam to escape! This finish gives a pretty sparkly look to your pie.
A friend of mine always cuts a cookie-cutter shape, like a turkey, for example, out of leftover pastry and bakes it. Then she places it on top of her baked pumpkin pie. This makes a pumpkin pie look so special!
Later today, I hope to post my Thanksgiving menu and the recipes I'll be using. Stay tuned...
Here are more of my antique postcards, etc. This first one is quite interesting. I like the little "church in the wildwood" picture superimposed on the forest stream illustration. Unique! A mountain scene with spray of flowers. Two pastoral scenes framed in roses. Roses and a sunset. A pastoral scene with a scallop shell and pansies. Some of these combinations are so unlikely, but they are interesting. Lastly, this pretty lady, along with roses and a robin, is pictured framed by a tambourine, of all things! Hope you have enjoyed this look at my antique cards! To see what others have shared for Show & Tell Friday, head on over to My Romantic Home.
For Show & Tell today, I thought I would share one of my vintage cookbooklets. This is a Betty Crocker booklet from 1958 -- can that possibly be 51 years ago! -- titled Country Kitchen Cookies. I love the front cover and the little sampler on the stovetop encouraging the cook to "Bake a batch of happiness." The recipes in this book mostly use mixes like gingerbread, macaroons, brownies, and date bars to create new cookie variations. This page has suggestions for sharing a cookie gift. Lunch box treats and after-school treats are featured here. Those mint brownies sound good! "Coffee time is cookie time" and "Cookies make the party!" How inventive those Betty Crocker home economists were! Two pages of cookies for kids to make. And my favorite -- Trim-the-Tree Cookies! Love the artwork on this page. You may see this again on my Christmas blog!
And that's my simple Show & Tell for today. To see what others have shared for Show & Tell Friday, head on over to My Romantic Home.
For show & tell today, I thought I would share a sweet vintage Thanksgiving booklet for children. This was put out by Ambassador Cards and cost 50¢. My guess is that it is probably from the 1960s. I could not find a copyright date. The sweet drawings and the colors make me think it is from the 60s, or possibly the very early 70s.
Isn't the cover lovely? This is embossed so that the cornucopia, the children, and the fruit all stand out slightly and look real. There are touches of gold, too. Aren't the drawings just precious? Some of the pages are in black and white. I had to include this one because of the pilgrims. Sure wish this one was in color. Since the prayers are for all year round, other seasons are included. I loved this little scene. These are the last pages in the book. What beautiful childlike innocence and trust is portrayed here. If only all children in our world were allowed to enjoy childhood like the children in these pages... And that's my Show & Tell for today. To see what others have shared for Show & Tell Friday, head on over to My Romantic Home.
For show and tell today, I want to show a few of my antique cards. Most of these are not dated, but one that I looked at today has a date of June 1898 written on the back.
First, a few of the Scripture cards. I imagine these may have been given to the original owner by her Sunday School teacher, many years ago.
1 Peter 5:5 -- I love the autumn theme of this card.
Another with a fall-like look.
This late-fall or early winter scene is framed with pansies and a robin.
Lastly, this harbor scene framed within a teapot is an ad for Corticelli Spool Silk.
I have a shoebox full of these delightful cards, and have scanned more to show next week.
For now, that's my Show & Tell for today. To see what others have shared for Show & Tell Friday, head on over to My Romantic Home.
I live in scenic northern New England with my handsome husband. We're empty-nesters with a bunch of adorable grandchildren. We love (tent) camping and traveling, but don't get away as often as we'd like to.