Friday, June 29, 2012

A frosty dessert for a hot day

(Photo by Taste of Home)
Last Friday evening we had friends over for a casual summer supper.  It had been a very hot few days up here and I didn't want to serve a warm meal or heat up the kitchen with the oven.  I made a chicken rice salad and took some focaccia bread and some quick breads out of the freezer to thaw and serve alongside the salad.  For dessert I tried this wonderful recipe:  Frosty Lemon Strawberry Dessert.  (Notice that this dessert does need to freeze overnight.)

I didn't use fresh strawberries in this dessert, but rather used whole unsweetened strawberries I had frozen last year.  I thawed them in the microwave and pureed them in the blender.

This turned out to be a very refreshing dessert.  I didn't have fresh strawberries to garnish it with, but I did have some whipping cream that needed to be used, so garnished it with real whipped cream.

The next day, I served the dessert again to other guests (there was still plenty of it in the freezer.)  Only by then, we had gone strawberry picking, so I added a few fresh strawberries to each serving in addition to the whipped cream.

The recipe says to take the dessert out of the freezer about 10 minutes before serving.  We noticed that taking it out about 15 minutes before serving was even better.

If it's hot where you are this week, perhaps your family would enjoy this frosty dessert too.  If you garnished this with a few fresh blueberries in addition to strawberries and whipped cream, it would take on a pretty patriotic look.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Weekly goals for week beginning 6/24/2012


Okay, here are my goals for the coming week -- they look strangely familiar.

*  Finish Sunday School lesson 10
*  Limit sugar
 *  Keep up with crafting goals for some small gifts and some felt food, plus UFOs
*  Exercise 5 to 6 times
 *  Keep up a good water intake
*  Get to bed by 9:30 or 10 pm each night
*  Post regularly in one or both of my blogs
*  Keep up with Kelly's Missions for Zone 5, the living room
*  Do better at staying in touch with friends
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do.


And here's how I did with last week's goals:


*  Work on study of Sunday School lesson 10 (and finish it if possible) -- worked on it but didn't finish it.
*  Limit sugar -- didn't do so well with this.
*  Keep up with crafting goals for some small gifts and some felt food -- DONE!
*  Exercise 5 to 6 times -- nope, only managed 3 times.
*  Keep up a good water intake -- DONE!
*  Get to bed by 9:30 pm each night -- didn't happen.  Think it was 10 pm or later most nights.
*  Post regularly in one or both of my blogs -- sort of; managed to post 4 times, I think.
*  Keep up with Kelly's Missions for Zone 4, the master bedroom -- nope.  I did a few extra things, like washing the rug, but not many.
*  Do better at staying in touch with friends -- didn't manage this.
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do -- DONE!


Needless to say, I am hoping for a better week this week.  Thankfully, God is faithful -- even when I am  not.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A berry sweet morning!


This morning Mr. T and I were discussing what we needed to accomplish with our Saturday.  We each had certain tasks we hoped to accomplish before day's end.  We also talked about doing something totally unnecessary, but fun -- going strawberry picking together.  We seldom do this sort of thing together, although at the start of summer we often say we would like to.  The season goes by without us having done the activities we talked about.

So today we decided to go for it!  We drove to a U-pick strawberry field in Vermont (a lovely drive in itself) and spent less than an hour picking berries.  We ended up with nearly twenty pounds of beautiful red jewels!
Mr. T said we must get at least 10 pounds; the price per pound was cheaper that way.  He guessed we might have 14; I thought more like 20.
A closer look

The biggest berry
My wonderful hubby began hulling and washing these right after lunch.
Half of the berries are now in the freezer becoming individually quick frozen.
Don't they look delicious?  Hope you've enjoyed this peek at the results of our berry sweet morning!  (We went out for ice cream, too!)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Another scorcher


Not complaining, you understand.  Just whining a little.  We are really spoiled up here in New England most of the time.  Winters are cold and snowy but beautiful.  Spring can sometimes be close to non-existent, with lots of mud, but at least we know nicer weather is on the way, along with lots of wildflowers.  Fall is beautiful, with nearly perfect weather and gorgeous colored foliage.  Summer is usually very nice, with flowers and greenery everywhere and plenty of breezy sunny days.  And then there are those days like we've experienced yesterday and today.  Just. Plain. Hot.  And humid!

That's when I have to remind myself of Psalm 74:17 where the psalmist says of God, "Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: Thou hast made summer and winter."  And I have to further remind myself that "This is the day which the LORD hath made: we will rejoice and be glad in it."  (Psalm 118:24).

I have to further remind myself that I have a "no whining" rule at my house.  Apparently Grammy needs an attitude adjustment!

 Tomorrow is forecasted to be slightly cooler.  And I won't complain a bit if it is!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A summery salad from Faithfulness Farm!

Photo from Faithfulness Farm
 I just had to share the link to this wonderful salad from Gail at Faithfulness Farm!  It's a wonderful main dish salad with greens, pecans, cubed chicken, blue cheese, and the delicious surprise of strawberries!  Here's the link: Summery Layered Chicken Salad.

One thing I love about Gail's recipes (and you will love this, too) is that she offers a simple link to the printable version.  I then save this as a pdf and it's ready to print when I want to use it.

I made just a couple of changes in the recipe.  She uses Splenda® in the dressing (to keep the carbs low), but I prefer sugar so I used that.   I also switched things around a bit in the dressing, as I usually do; I used 1/4 cup vinegar (and I used cider vinegar because that's what I had); only 3 Tblsp. olive oil, and 1 Tblsp. water to make up for the missing oil.  The other thing I did differently was to toast the pecans.  I did this in the microwave to make it quick, easy, and not heat up the kitchen.



I made this salad for a Father's Day get-together where it went over very well!  If it's as hot where you are as it is here in northern New England, a main-dish salad  may be just the ticket for your supper tonight!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Weekly Goals for week beginning 6/17/2012

One of my peonies
 Here are my goals for the coming week:

*  Work on study of Sunday School lesson 10 (and finish it if possible)
*  Limit sugar (I'm off to a bad start with this one!)
*  Keep up with crafting goals for some small gifts and some felt food
*  Exercise 5 to 6 times (off to a bad start with this one too, but I hope to make up for it later)
*  Keep up a good water intake
*  Get to bed by 9:30 pm each night
*  Post regularly in one or both of my blogs
*  Keep up with Kelly's Missions for Zone 4, the master bedroom
*  Do better at staying in touch with friends
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do.


And here's how last week went:


*  Work on study of Sunday School lesson 10 -- did work on it, so I can say DONE! on this one
*  Limit sugar -- didn't do so well
*  Keep up with crafting goals for some small gifts and some felt food -- did pretty well; just 6 pieces of felt food to finish, so I'm saying DONE! on this one too
*  Exercise 5 to 6 times -- DONE!
*  Keep up a good water intake -- DONE!
*  Get to bed by 9:30 pm each night -- didn't quite manage this
*  Post regularly in one or both of my blogs --DONE!
*  Keep up with Kelly's Missions for Zone 3, the bathroom and one extra room -- in this case,  the dungeon -- I can say DONE! on the bathroom missions, but not on the extra room
*  Do better at staying in touch with friends -- didn't do so well at this
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do -- DONE!

The week went fairly well, all in all, but I can do better and I certainly am aiming for that!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Little needlework basket -- a great gift for kids!

I found this idea through Tip Junkie and had so much fun with it!  My two youngest granddaughters (who recently turned four and six) are enjoying the contents of their needlework baskets.  I found the idea for a toddler sewing basket here:  Toddler Sewing Basket and here:
Further Adventures with a Toddler Sewing Basket and adapted the idea to use for a slightly older child.
Some of the items in Emily's basket.  Scissors, yarn needles, hoops, a crocheted pin cushion.  I also got a spool knitter and some yarn for each girl.
 It was a bit difficult trying to think how I would send an actual large sewing basket to Nevada.  Postage is expensive and the best we do is to use flat rate priority mail boxes.  But none of them were the right size to hold a basket or other large container.  We ended up sending a collapsible fabric bin from the dollar store with instructions to her mom to maybe find an appropriate basket at a thrift store.  But they are using the bin for now.

Julia's pin cushion
I made pin cushions so they could have a safe place to store their yarn needles.  I found this flower shaped pin cushion pattern on line.
The original blog post suggested plastic shelf liner for cross stitching on.  I was uncertain as to how it would work, but it works wonderfully well!  I stitched a sample for each girl's basket and then added roll of shelf liner  for her to use.

I included some simple cross stitch charts, too.
I found printable sewing cards on line and printed them out on cardstock (some of which I printed out myself using free printable scrapbooking papers).  These were a big hit with Emily and her older brother too.

I was so pleased to find this container for Julia's basket at Ocean State Job Lot, of all places.

A view of the contents
I love the thought that these little girls are already developing a love of needlework and even a few beginner needlework skills.  Perhaps this would be a fun idea for a child in your life, too!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Garden Tuna Macaroni Salad

(Photo by Taste of Home)
 I tried another new salad recipe for Sunday's potluck lunch at church.  This one was for a main dish tuna macaroni salad;  Garden Tuna Macaroni Salad.  It is a little bit different with the yellow peppers and shredded carrots, and with ranch dressing in addition to the mayonnaise.  I did leave out the radishes.  They would have been pretty, but a lot of people don't like them so I left them out. The only other change I made was to use gluten free pasta, the kind made with brown rice.  I made a double batch of the salad and it went over very well.  This is an economical, delicious salad that would make a nice summer supper anytime!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Strawberry Spinach Salad

(Photo by Taste of Home)
I tried a new salad recipe on Sunday for our potluck lunch at church.  I found this in a Country Woman magazine, but the recipe is also here:  Strawberry Spinach Salad.

The only thing I changed was to tweak the dressing a little to use more vinegar and less sugar and oil.  I used 1/3 cup vinegar, only 1/4 cup sugar and oil and added a few tablespoons of water to make up for the missing oil.  It was just fine.  I routinely change dressing recipes in this way to make them lower in fat (and in sugar too when that is called for.

We liked this salad a lot, and it went over very well at the potluck.  Only a couple of fragments of spinach leaves were left in the bowl!   Maybe your family and friends would like to try this, too.  It's a great salad for strawberry season!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Flora & fauna

Just a few pictures of recent happenings in our woods.  I won't take time for a lot of commentary (because I don't have time) but wanted to show these pictures anyway.
Lady's Slipper

And another
 
Yet another -- you can see a couple more in the background

Some were in groups like this

Another group -- I think there are at least five here.
 
A bunch more; I think we counted at least thirty of them, all told.
 We have the lady's slippers in our woods each year and enjoy them so much.  They don't last long (and lasted even less time this year due to so much rain).  So much for the flora -- although I hope to share more varieties later this week -- now, on to the fauna.

Mr. T built a tree house for the grandkids earlier this spring.  I want to share photos of the building of that and the kids enjoying it, but that will have to wait for another day when I have more time.  The tree house has two screened windows, a glass picture window (recycled from our living room) and a screen door.  The house is not built IN a tree or trees, but AROUND two trees, which may account for what happened.

On Saturday my granddaughters went out to the tree house and reported that there were 10 luna moths out there!  TEN!  I have always thought it was a fortunate occurrence to be able to see one luna moth.  Mr. T went out and yes, there were seven of them inside the tree house and three on the outside of the picture window.  We are guessing that the moths hatched in one of the trees and found their way down into the tree house that way -- or maybe even were driven down there by heavy rain.  Mr. T decided that if they were still there on Sunday, he would move them, as he had a feeling they could not find their way out.  The three on the outside had gone, but seven were still inside.  He got some pictures while he was out there.
One luna moth

Another

Yet another -- it was not possible to get them all in one picture.

There are two of them here.  These were the weakest.  When he released them outside, the others flew away but these two went straight to the ground.  At last report, one of these had flown but the other evidently went back in the tree house somehow.

On the ground


Yet another

This one was on the screen.  You can see our house in the distance through the woods.

Last one
Hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into June in our woods!

Goals for the week beginning 6/10/2012

Backyard irises
 Late again posting my weekly goals -- it was a crazy-busy weekend and yesterday was the same.  So, a day or so late, here are my goals:

*  Work on study of Sunday School lesson 10
*  Limit sugar
*  Keep up with crafting goals for some small gifts and some felt food
*  Exercise 5 to 6 times
*  Keep up a good water intake
*  Get to bed by 9:30 pm each night
*  Post regularly in one or both of my blogs
*  Keep up with Kelly's Missions for Zone 3, the bathroom and one extra room -- in this case,  the dungeon
*  Do better at staying in touch with friends
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do.

And here's how last week went:

*  Work on study of Sunday School lesson 10 -- worked on it, but not as much as I wanted to.
*  Limit sugar -- didn't do the best with this.
*  Keep up with crafting goals for some small gifts and some felt food -- got involved in a large baking project and didn't accomplish all the crafting I wanted to.
*  Exercise 5 to 6 times -- DONE!
*  Keep up a good water intake -- DONE!
*  Get to bed by 9:30 pm each night -- didn't quite accomplish this, but need to, since we are getting up at 4:30 a.m.
*  Post regularly in one or both of my blogs -- DONE!
*  Keep up with Kelly's Missions for Zone 2, the kitchen -- didn't get anywhere with these, so am trying to do some of them this week.
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do -- DONE! 
I am hoping for a more productive, yet less busy week this week!



Thursday, June 07, 2012

Fudgy Three-Chip Brownies

Vintage cookbooklet from my collection
 I'm still baking!  Today I made another pan of the Blond Brownies I shared yesterday, plus a batch of Chocolate Malted Cookies and a batch of Snickerdoodles.  And then I made these easy brownies, which start with a mix.  I clipped this recipe out of an old magazine many years ago.

FUDGY THREE-CHIP BROWNIES

1 egg, beaten
1 package (13 x 9-inch pan size) brownie mix
1/2 cup coffee or water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk chocolate morsels
3/4 cup vanilla or peanut butter morsels
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate morsels

        Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, using a wooden
spoon to stir until just combined.  Spread mixture in a greased 13 x 9 x
2-inch baking pan.  Bake at 350ยบ for 30 minutes.  Cool completely before cutting into bars.      

 Yield:  2 dozen brownies

         I have made these quick and easy brownies for many years, varying the amounts and types of chips used.  These have been a big hit with my family and friends, as well as my husband's co-workers.  Maybe your family would like to try them too!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Layered Tortellini Spinach Salad

(Photo by Taste of Home)
 I went looking for this recipe today as I wanted to share it in Gooseberry Patch's recipe round-up.  But apparently I had never posted it.  So I hunted it up in my word processing document where my favorite recipes are stored ... and here it is!

LAYERED  TORTELLINI  SPINACH  SALAD

1 9-ounce package frozen or refrigerated cheese tortellini
2 cups shredded red cabbage
6 cups torn fresh spinach (or use whole baby spinach)
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 8-ounce bottle ranch dressing
Cooked crumbled bacon if desired  (I just use purchased real bacon bits)

Cook tortellini according to package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water; set aside.  In a large glass bowl, layer cabbage, spinach, tortellini, tomatoes, and onions.  Pour dressing over top; sprinkle with bacon if desired.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Yield:  8-10 servings.

    This great recipe is from  Taste of Home magazine.  I have often made this for campground potlucks in the past.  It is so easy, but very delicious.



And now... back to housework.

Layered Fruit Salad in a Jar


This is another recipe I posted years ago that I unearthed in an old post full of other recipes.  That is one great thing about blogging -- once you post a recipe it's always there in the archives.  The key to finding it, though, is in proper labeling -- a task I still haven't completed for all my posts.  I've been thinking a lot lately about this recipe -- how pretty it was, how great it was to take to a family reunion or would be for any summer potluck.  The recipe showed up in the same old post as the blond brownies.  Sadly, I don't have a photo of it, but here is the recipe:

LAYERED FRUIT SALAD

Fruits of your choice, cut in bite-size pieces if necessary
Orange juice
Sugar
Vanilla

Layer the fruits of your choice in a jar, measuring the fruit as you go. I used blueberries, strawberries, canned pineapple chunks, frozen peach slices, cantaloupe balls, watermelon chunks, red grapes, and kiwi slices. For every 4 cups of fruit, make the following syrup: Shake together in a jar 1 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Pour this over the fruit. Chill the fruit salad overnight before serving. (Note: I had about 16 cups fruit, but I did not quadruple the syrup. A double batch of the syrup was plenty.) Tote the salad to your event in the jar -- it looks so classy -- but transfer it to a bowl before serving and serve with a slotted spoon. The number of servings will depend on the amount of fruit you use.

Best Blond Brownies

(Photo by Taste of Home)
 My kitchen smells wonderful this morning as I just took a batch of these brownies out of the  oven.  I told a friend I would bring a cookie tray to a graduation party, and even though Wednesday is a crazy day for me I thought I had better get started baking.  What better way to start than with a pan of quick and easy bars which taste delicious?  I am planning to bake a second pan of these, but didn't have enough eggs to bake 2 pans this morning.  I looked back to see if I had posted the recipe here in the past, and guess I did once but it's buried in a post with other recipes.  So, here it is, for anyone who would like a quick, easy, and delicious blond brownie recipe!

BEST BLOND BROWNIES

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup vanilla chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped almonds, divided use

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add the eggs and vanilla; mix well. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the vanilla chips, chocolate chips and 1/2 cup chopped almonds. Spoon into a greased 13x9” baking pan; spread dough to evenly cover bottom of pan. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup almonds on top. Bake at 350ยบ for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack before cutting into squares. Yield: 2 dozen.

These blond brownies truly are the best. They are so easy, and I like the fact that they only call for 1/2 cup butter. The almonds add a very nice crunch. These are very quick to make and take along to a potluck or a friend’s house.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Weekly goals for week beginning 6/3/2012

Image from Photos Public Domain
 Another week -- and, as often happens,  I'm late putting up my goals for this week:

*  Work on study of Sunday School lesson 10
*  Limit sugar
*  Keep up with crafting goals for some small gifts and some felt food
*  Exercise 5 to 6 times
*  Keep up a good water intake
*  Get to bed by 9:30 pm each night
*  Post regularly in one or both of my blogs
*  Keep up with Kelly's Missions for Zone 2, the kitchen
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do.

And here's how I did with last week's goals:

*  Add to the last part of Sunday School lesson 8 to make it useable for this Sunday  -- DONE!
 *  Finish study of Sunday School lesson 9  --DONE!
*  Limit sugar -- didn't do as well with this as I would have liked to.
*  Keep up with crafting goals for some small gifts and some felt food -- did okay with this, but again not as much as I would have liked.
*  Exercise 5 to 6 times --DONE!
*  Keep up a good water intake  -- did fairly well with this.
*  Get to bed by 9:30 pm each night -- didn't quite get there every night.  It was more like 10 pm most nights.
*  Post regularly in one or both of my blogs -- not as regularly as I hoped.
*  Keep up with Kelly's Missions for Zone 5, the living room/Zone 1, the porch/entry/dining area -- DONE!
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do -- DONE!

Not too bad, really.  I'm definitely encouraged to see how weekly and daily scheduling is making a huge difference in how much I get done.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Small steps to spiritual growth


For some time now -- months, at least, but more likely years -- I have been wanting to do more toward daily spiritual growth.  Yes, I have a good quiet time with God each day.  I read through the Bible on a more or less yearly basis, journal about what I read, and memorize Scripture.  I spend quality time in prayer.  I spend hours each week preparing for the ladies' Sunday School class I teach.  Yet there is so much more I want to do and learn! 

I enjoy Bible study, whether with a study book or on my own, and I also like to read books on spiritual topics that will help me grow.  I want to add to my prayer journal on a regular basis, too.  And I do all of these things, but sporadically.  For example, all of the work I put into my Sunday School lesson often means I can't do much with any other Bible study in a given week.  So I might only pick up the study I'm working on now and then -- while on vacation, for example.  I have really been pondering how I might fit in more of these growth-promoting activities.

The answer came as I began once again to implement a daily and weekly time schedule.

I have my weekly schedule page divided into four categories -- spiritual; home/family; ministry; and health.  This week as I began to fill in my weekly schedule on Sunday evening, a thought struck me.  Why not incorporate some of these things I wanted to do into the various days of the week, according of course to how busy each day looked?  Some of these activities obviously take less time than others.

So my week looked like this:  Monday -- read chapter in Essential Virtues; Tuesday -- work on inductive Bible study; Wednesday -- make 1 new prayer journal page (this one was in the spiritual blessings category); Thursday -- make 1 new prayer journal page (this one was in the character flaws/sin issues category); Friday -- read 1 chapter in Essential Virtues; Saturday -- work on inductive Bible study.

And so each day as I make the daily schedule, I plug in the spiritual growth activity for that day.  And it is working!  I can't tell you how encouraged I am by this simple plan!