Monday, May 31, 2010

Early-May getaway

At the very beginning of May, Mr. T and I were fortunate enough to travel up to northern New Hampshire for a three-day getaway. Only one day was perfectly sunny, but we enjoyed every moment of our time away regardless of the weather. Here is just a glimpse of our trip.

We went for long walks every day, and took many shorter walks too. One of our favorite destinations was the beach -- only about a 15 minute walk. We sat at a picnic table and just took in the serenity of the scene. It was very relaxing.

At the cabin, our favorite place to be was on the dock down by the lake. Here's a dear little flower that was in the stone steps leading down to the water.

Mr. T enjoyed taking a kayak out one day. It was a good thing he chose this day, as all of the others were too windy to be out in a kayak with the water as cold as it was!

Forget-me-nots grow profusely this far north, though I have rarely seen any in our area. Last spring when we were up north we saw drifts of forget-me-nots in the woods. These were in a little flower bed near the cabin.

Our cabin was right on the lake shore. We saw loons several times a day, usually a pair of loons at a time. I only wish I could reproduce the beauty of their eerie call for you to hear. This is the best loon picture we got.

And that is just a very small glimpse of our refreshing early-May getaway!

Memorial Day

"O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!"
~Katharine Lee Bates

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Strawberry surprise

Those who know me well know that I love strawberry-themed items and I have quite a collection of them. People will often give me strawberry items they find, and my collection boasts no two items alike (so far!). This is a shelf in my hutch which I've decorated with strawberry things for the summer season.

To the far left is a display of yummy-looking faux strawberries. They are really Christmas ornaments, but I use them to decorate with instead. Yes, this is still the same little domed server I got for $5 at Marshalls this winter!

The oversized teacup was a gift from a daughter and son-in-law, and the two little dishes were gifts from a good friend. The sugar shaker is from Avon. And the large pitcher... well, there's a special story that goes with that. It deserves its own post and I will write one about it in time.

For now, though, I will tell another story about my most recent strawberry acquisition. A friend had been cleaning out a house and found a strawberry-trimmed teapot. She brought it to me for my collection, if I wanted it. Of course I did! I had never seen a teapot made just like this one and picked it up to look underneath, thinking it might even be handmade and I might find someone's initials. What a surprise to find that this was a McCoy teapot in the "Strawberry Country" pattern! That made it doubly delightful!

As my friend and I chatted, I mentioned that I was sure I had another item with this same strawberry pattern in my collection. I thought it might be a mug, but we looked at all my mugs and none were the same. My friend glanced around and then asked about some salt and pepper shakers in my corner cupboard. Eureka! They are the very same Strawberry Country pattern by McCoy.

Hope everyone is having a splendid Saturday!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thoughts on serving God

Recently I was looking back over a journal that I've kept since 2004. I found some thoughts and a quote that I wanted to share. Here's what I wrote on June 18, 2004:

I've begun reading through the gospels and today was in Mark 1. In the account of the healing of Peter's mother-in-law, it says that once she was healed, she "rose and ministered unto" Peter and his friends. I imagine she served them a meal. How often we suppose "Christian service" to be some grand and glorious work, when most often it is doing the everyday things as unto the Lord!

And here is the quote I included in that entry:

"A great many persons are always sighing for opportunities to minister to Christ, imagining some fine and splendid service which they would like to render. Meantime they let slip past their hands they very things in which Christ wants them to serve Him. True ministry to Christ is doing first of all and well one's daily duties." -- J.R. Miller, Come Ye Apart

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Salad Days

The weather has been extremely hot here this week. I really don't enjoy it, but am not complaining! One thing that helps is to serve main-dish salads for supper.
(Photo by Taste of Home)
Here's the one I served last night:


5 cups cubed cooked chicken
3 cups cooked rice
1 1/2 cups diced green or red pepper
1 1/2 cups sliced celery
1 20-ounce can sliced pineapple, drained and cut into tidbits
3/4 cup mayonnaise (light works fine)
4 tsp. orange juice
2 tsp. vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
Garlic powder to taste
1 15-ounce can mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted*

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, rice, diced peppers, celery, and pineapple. In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, orange juice, vinegar, salt, ginger and garlic powder for dressing. Just before serving, gently fold in the oranges and almonds.

* I had no almonds on hand so left them out. It's wonderful either way.

Yield: 10-12 servings

This wonderful recipe is slightly adapted from Taste of Home magazine.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lemon Ambrosia Cake


1 (18.25 oz) lemon cake mix, plus the eggs and oil it calls for
1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 cup sugar
2 (3.5 oz.) packages cook-and-serve lemon pudding and pie filling
2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup flaked coconut

Bake the cake as directed in a 13x9x2” pan.

Combine the pineapple and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and boil 5 minutes.
Pour pineapple mixture over the hot cake.

Cool pineapple-topped cake completely in pan on rack.

Cook the lemon pudding mixes as directed, with the egg yolks* and water called for. Pour the cooked pudding over the cake and chill until firm.

Whip the cream until medium-stiff peaks form. Spread the whipped cream over the pudding.

Sprinkle the coconut over the whipped cream and refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.

Yield: 12 servings.

* The pudding mix will call for 2 egg yolks per box of pudding -- or 4 egg yolks for this recipe which uses 2 boxes of mix. I just use 1 whole egg per box of pudding -- that is, 2 whole eggs for this recipe. I just beat them very well before combining with the pudding mix, sugar and water.

As I mentioned, this cake has been a family favorite for years. Although it is easy to make, it is somewhat time-consuming because the cake needs to cool and then chill in between the different steps of the recipe.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A potpourri of crafts

Potpourri of Crafts....

This is a hodgepodge post of miscellaneous crafts I've done recently that I hadn't previously posted photos of for various reasons (lack of time being the main one!).

I did an entire post on chef's hats earlier. I know I had posted a picture of Emily's hat at that point, but here she is in it.

Her brother's chef hat was made by his other grandma, but both aprons were made by me.

And here is Julia's hat, with Julia not in it.

This is the 8-paneled skirt I made for Juiia using this pattern. So quick and easy.
Other side.

I had made one for Emily also and it turned out too short (also too big around, but that's another story!) so I added some wide eyelet lace to it and really liked the look. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of that one.

This is a place mat purse (really more of a little tote bag for a 4-year-old, but would be a purse for a teen or woman) that I made for Julia. The colorful place mat took my eye at the thrift shop (25¢!). It was not until I started making the purse that I realized the place mat was a really good brand. The yellow ribbon handle is vintage grosgrain from my grandmother's sewing things.

I lined the purse with an orange napkin, leaving the top edges unstitched to form inside pockets. I tacked each one in place with a cute button to form 2 pockets on each side.

I also made some cards for a couple of special birthday people. Very simple (make that very, very, very simple!) but I had fun making these.
And the second one:

And then lastly, a bluebird and rose dish towel which I made for my daughter's birthday.

The dish towel fabric was the by-the-yard type; I had found a length of it in my mother's fabric stash. Enough to make 3 dish towels; I will make one for myself and one for each daughter. My mother loved both bluebirds and roses, so it will make a lovely memory of her.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fun with felt food

It all started when my daughter mentioned that her kids would probably like some felt food for their birthdays. I had been intrigued by felt food for awhile and had even downloaded some patterns and instructions, but had not tried making any.

What I decided to do for the kids was to make "bag lunches" using the tutorial
I had seen for felt sandwiches and bags of chips. Here are the sandwich components (buns, lettuce, American cheese, bologna, tomato slices),

and the finished sandwiches.

(I decided to make buns for the sandwiches instead of bread for the sake of time.)

And here are the bags of ripple chips!

Another view of the chips.

The contents of the lunch bags.

I made simple fabric "lunch bags" to hold the lunches and clipped them closed at the top with wooden clothespins. No pics of these! (I had my hubby taking pics of the food while I finished making the bags.)

I had also planned to make peanut butter & jelly sandwiches but knew the bread slices would take too long. So I gave the kids their lunches as is.

Last evening I managed to finish the bread slices, so here's one of the PB&J sandwiches.

Of course, the real test of any food (felt or otherwise) is how much it's enjoyed!

So there is my first foray into felt food. I've been warned that it's addictive, but I thought the bread slices would cure that. Then last night, someone on my favorite craft forum sent a link to more felt food. There are some cinnamon rolls that are just too cute .... so maybe felt food is addictive after all!

A finished project!

Many of my longtime readers know I have a project that keeps me busy every spring. It doesn't have to, of course -- I could work on this writing project throughout the year and not end up in such a crunch time each spring. But I always seem to do so anyway...

My project is a devotional book for the kids involved with our kids' ministry at church to use during the summer months. Our church uses the Patch the Pirate program (and what a great one it is!) but the Sailor's Logs they use only cover the months of the school year. Believing that the sailors needed to have devotions year round, the leaders of the club at our church asked me years ago to consider writing a summer devotional book for them to use.

I have written, I think, nine of these at this point. My husband has been encouraging me for years to "recycle" some of the earlier manuscripts rather than starting from scratch with a new one. (The problem with this has been that I keep coming up with new themes I want to try!) This year, however, I took his advice and went back to the book I'd written for 2002. I needed to completely retype it, and some pages needed updating, so it did take quite awhile, though not as long as a new book would have.

I finished organizing the pages on Monday and got it to the print shop the same day. By Wednesday -- voila! -- we had a box of books!

Here is what this year's cover looks like.

This book is an almanac type of book, with a page for each day of the summer months. The pages deal with fun or interesting things that happened on that day in history, or special themes that have been assigned to that day -- like National Banana Split Day, etc.

Here's a peek at the book's pages.

And another.

Some previous books

I'm thrilled to have this project completed for another year! Maybe now I can blog more often...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fun fabric-trimmed kitchen towels

It's hard to know where to start in catching up with all the posts I want to share! I think I will start with the fabric trimmed dish towels I've been having so much fun with. I found this pattern at Sew4Home , which is a new favorite site of mine. Sign up for their emails and see what's new each week. They have some fabulous projects with very clear instructions.

I made my first set of these for my daughter's birthday. She likes sunflowers and also blue and white (and if I'm not mistaken these sunflower fabric scraps were left over from something she sewed!) so this was a natural choice.

I was thrilled with how quick and easy these towels were to make. I used, for the towel part, Bistro Towels which have a sort of birds-eye weave on one side and terry on the other. I found these towels on clearance (a set of 3 for $3) at Wal Mart.

These next towels were for a dear friend's birthday. She likes the color green. I had bought, some time ago, these coordinating green and purple fat quarters from Wal Mart's fabric department. I had plans for some of the purple, but had enough left over to use for the trim on one towel.

I had some green checked fabric on hand to use to trim the other one.

And lastly, I just finished making these Coke®-themed towels for my hubby's sister who is a Coca~Cola® collector. I love to give her things for her collection, but when possible I like them to be useful things. These dishtowels surely are that! These fabrics were some I had had in my stash for a long time. Here we have a blue with red trim

And a red with blue trim.

The towels I used for these were microfiber towels with a waffle weave, also found on clearance at Wal Mart, 2 for $3. Not as inexpensive as the bistro towels, but the towels are larger.

I have plans to make more of these dishtowels. I stocked up on clearance towels, and the fact that these can use scraps or fat quarters makes the project especially practical and fun too!

My 1000th post!

Finally, I have the free time to write a blog post! But I can't seem to get started. What's holding me back? In a word, the dreaded perfectionism I try to avoid. You see, this post will be my 1000th. Exciting, but I sort of wanted my 1000th post to be something special. I have a number of things I want to write about and photos to share, but none of them special enough for such a momentous occasion.

So here's what I finally decided to do: Share some links to some of the blogs and sites that have blessed me since I entered into this blogging adventure. That's what's really special about blogging, I think: meeting new friends, learning from them, being inspired by their creativity, etc. etc. So, without further ado, here are just a few links. I should add that because we still have dial-up and because I am very busy with other responsibilities, I just don't have time to visit blogs the way I'd like to. I know there are a whole bunch of other wonderful ones out there. If I happen to leave you out, I'm very sorry. Please know that it wasn't anything personal. Here goes:

Life on a Back Road

Carrie has to go at the top of my list because, not only is she my daughter, and not only is her blog fun and inspiring to read, but she is the one who introduced me to blogging and encouraged me to start my own blogs. She amazes me with what a great homemaker and mommy she is!

The following links are in no particular order.

By Grace

I always enjoy reading Susan's blog. She's a godly wife and mom, a Southern gal transplanted to Canada where her husband pastors a church. It's interesting reading about her family and their adventures. Susan also writes some thought-provoking posts that will really make you think.

Coffee Tea Books and Me

What a blessing this site is! Brenda is a true Titus 2 woman who shares so much that God has taught her over the years. Right now she is doing a wonderful series on dealing with stress.

Coffee Tea Books and Recipes

This is Brenda's recipe blog. I have gotten some wonderful recipes from this site.

Beside Still Waters

Patty is a dear Christian lady in California. She has become a special friend. Her blog is among the most encouraging I have read. If you visit, God is sure to bless your heart!

Patty's Pantry

This is Patty's recipe blog. It is another one that I've found many good recipes on.

At Home with the Grimms

Arlene and her family live in Alabama. I always enjoy reading about Arlene's adventures in crafting, decorating, and grandparenting.

One Pretty Thing

Not a blog, but an incredibly inspiring site for anyone who enjoys crafting.

Gooseberry Patch blog

I love Gooseberry Patch and so I was thrilled when they started a blog. Lots of fun stuff here. One of my favorite things is that every Friday they feature a different blogger.

Green Twig

This is my friend Ruth's blog. It's fun to read her adventures in homesteading and gardening, in addition to her spiritual insights.


I love Tipnut! It's one of the most practical, yet fun sites I have found. Subscribe to their daily emails and I guarantee you will find wonderful ideas you can use.

Home Joys

A newer one for me, Gina's blog is an inspiration! She is another of these wonderfully capable young moms who have so much to share. Recipes and gardening tips are among the ideas you will find there.

There is No Place Like Home

I have gotten so much inspiration from Kelli's blog. She takes the most gorgeous photos. Kelli is another amazing young mom who homeschools, gardens, decorates and cooks -- and inspires others (even a grandma like me!) to do the same.

Our Home for the Holidays

If you enjoy planning and preparing for Christmas all year round, you will find these forums very helpful. I check in at the crafting forum almost every day!

Well, I'm sure there are many more links I could share, but I want to get this posted. Have a wonderful day, everyone!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Kids and quilts

Out of the blue a month or so ago, my 7-year-old granddaughter declared, "I want to make a quilt." Although she loves crafts and is quite handy at them, I hadn't attempted to do any sewing with her. I waited a week and she brought the subject up again. Her 9-year-old sister was interested too. I warned them the project would take several weeks (we are talking small quilts here) but they wanted to pursue it.

The first weekend I had them select fabrics from my scrap stash and we cut them in squares.

The next weekend we began stitching the squares together into rows.

They learned that pressing is important, too.

The following weekend we finished stitching the quilt tops together.

Then we added a layer of batting (cut from an old mattress pad) and a backing (cut from an old flowered sheet).

The last weekend, we tied the quilts.

They are not perfect, but two little girls had a wonderful time seeing this project to completion.