Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Another fabulous giveaway at Faithfulness Farm!

Gail, over at Faithfulness Farm, is offering a wonderful giveaway you might like to get in on.  She's giving away a copy of Gooseberry Patch's Meals in Minutes, the special 10th anniversary edition.  The recipes she has shared in the giveaway posts sound absolutely delicious, and she recommends the entire cookbook.

But Gail is not just giving away a book -- oh no, she is also giving away a vintage-inspired apron she has made, and a vintage-inspired tea towel set.  A very generous giveaway!  You can enter here: Faithfulness Farm Giveaway and, for a bonus entry, you can post about the giveaway on your blog or on Facebook.  If you do this, be sure to leave a second comment telling Gail you have done so.  Now I'm off to do just that!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Weekly Goals 2/26/2012

(Photo from NH Troubadour, 1950s)
I'm a bit late posting these goals, but Sunday and Monday were exceedingly busy days.  So, for this week, here are my goals:

1.  Review Psalm 19:7-11.
2.  Read the next chapter in Essential Virtues.
3. Exercise 3 to 5 times.
4.  Plan/cook healthy meals.
5.  Do Kelly's Missions (from FlyLady) for each day.
6.  Keep up with crafting goals.
7.  Finish lesson 6 for Sunday School; work ahead on Lesson 7.

And here's how I did last week:

1.  Still need to review the Scripture memory passage; still don't quite have it perfectly.
2.  I read one chapter in Essential Virtues, so DONE!
3.  Only managed to exercise twice.
4.  Planned and cooked healthy meals, so DONE!
5.  Did Kelly's Missions each day and then some.  DONE!
6.  Didn't keep up very well with my crafting goals, though I did get quite a bit done on Friday. 
7.  Work ahead in Sunday School study.  DONE!

Four out of seven isn't too bad, I guess, but I can always aim for more.  I hope to post in my Christmas blog later today about the crafting I accomplished on Friday.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quote of the day

(Photo from Free Public Domain Photos)

Here's one especially for parents and grandparents of younger children.  Some years ago I had one of those page-a-day calendars -- a variation that was written especially for parents, with an encouraging quote and Scripture verse on each page.  I liked some of the quotes well enough to save the little pages.  Now I'm decluttering, and thought I would share the quote and toss the page at last.  Here it is:

"Many children discover their life's work through creative, playful activities.  As parents of future Thomas Edisons, this means we need to give up our dreams of winning the House Beautiful award.  Inventive pursuits often produce creative messes."  -- Kathy Peel and Joy Mahaffey

This is so true.  When my kids were young, I'm afraid our house was not always the neatest.  I kept art and craft supplies and all sorts of interesting bits and pieces around for them to create with.  It wasn't always neat, but they learned valuable lessons about creativity and had a lot of fun.  My house is usually a bit more orderly these days, but my grandkids know just where to find the art supplies!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Weekly Goals 2/19/2012

Time for new weekly goals and an update on the old ones.  Last week was not a very productive one as far as my goals are concerned, but hopefully this week will be better.  Here are this week's goals:

1.  Continue to work at memorizing Psalm 19:7-11.
2.  Read 1 chapter in Essential Virtues.
3.  Exercise 3-5 times.
4.  Plan and cook healthy meals.
5.  Keep up with FlyLady's "Kelly's Missions" for each day.
6.  Keep current with my crafting goals to make items for gifts/possible sale.
7.  Work ahead in Sunday School study.

And here's how last week went:
1.  I have Psalm 19:7-11 mostly memorized.  Verse 8 is still eluding me.
2.  Only got partway through a chapter in Essential Virtues.
3.  Exercised only once.
4.  I did plan and cook healthy meals.  DONE!
5.  I didn't quite keep up with Kelly's Missions for every day, but did accomplish a lot of cleaning in the bathroom and decluttering in the computer room.
6.  Didn't keep up at all with crafting goals.  There were several days when I did no crafting at all.
7.  I did work ahead on my next Sunday School study and plan to continue doing so this week.  DONE!

So I am definitely hoping for a more encouraging week this week!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Two more "breakfast for supper" recipes

(Hash Brown Casserole photo by Taste of Home)
Here are two more recipes I have made recently for supper.  The main course was Mushroom Oven Omelet.  I used Baby Bella mushrooms to make this, and used the kind that are pre-sliced as our local supermarket had them at a good price last week.  We enjoy this oven omelet a lot and it's a recipe I often go back to.

For a side dish, I made Hash Brown Casserole, which is another long-time favorite and I'm sure I have it posted elsewhere on the blog, but thought I would share the link anyway.  You can use either the southern-style (cubed) hash browns or the shredded type.  I think I prefer the shredded ones, but have used either kind.  For the two of us, I halved the recipe.  I usually use a homemade cream sauce (cream soup equivalent) instead of the condensed soup.  This hash brown recipe tastes quite a bit like the hash brown casserole served at Cracker Barrel restaurants.

I served an asparagus stir-fry medley alongside, just cooked in the microwave in a casserole dish, to add color and more nutrition to the meal.

Hope you enjoy these recipes if you try them!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Creamy Sausage Stew

(Photo by Taste of Home)
I found this recipe some years ago and we always enjoy it: Creamy Sausage Stew.  I usually use half the amount of sausage, cut in smaller pieces than specified, and I usually use light sausage.  I also use fat-free half and half instead of the heavy cream.  The dish still tastes very rich but it is a lot lower in fat.  Cornbread or any Italian or French bread would be a nice accompaniment.

This time I wanted to see if I could adapt the recipe to the slow cooker so I could take it to our church potluck lunch.  (We have lunch together every Sunday during the winter following Sunday School and morning service,  and then just have a 1:30 p.m. service after lunch.  It works out well and means we don't have to venture out again for an evening service in cold, sometimes inclement, weather.  And the fellowship is great!)  Anyway, I tried adapting the recipe and it worked out quite well.  I roasted the vegetables and sausage as directed, but I don't have a large roasting pan so used 2 13x9-inch pans and covered them with foil.  I roasted them for about an hour.  Then, I transferred them to the slow cooker and left them on Warm until I got to church.  They had cooled off quite a bit, so I turned the cooker to Low for the next  hour.  Then (after Sunday School) I stirred in the cream and cooked it on Low until we were ready to eat.  I then mixed in the cornstarch mixture, right in with the ingredients in the slow cooker.  There was plenty of heat to cook the cornstarch and slightly thicken the mixture.  It went over quite well, but I was not at all sorry to have some of the stew left to bring home.  We like this recipe a lot!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine surprises

Happy Valentine's Day to all!  I hope that each of you has had a lovely day so far.  Mine was made brighter by a couple of little surprises and three little grandchildren.

Having the kids here was not a surprise; I knew they were coming while their mom went to see her eye doctor.  We had a fun morning making a Valentine craft

and reading books together, not to mention snacking on red grapes.  It was a surprise, though, when, as they left, Julia (5) turned back and said so sweetly, "Have a happy Valentine's Day, Grammy!"

Last evening my hubby surprised me with a lovely bouquet of yellow roses (my favorite)!  They are brightening up the kitchen island in my favorite strawberry pitcher.  He took these photos for me:

A close-up of  one rose
I arranged the roses in my favorite strawberry pitcher as it is just the right height -- has some yellow in the design too.
  Yesterday I received a lovely valentine from a dear blog friend who is far away in California.  Patty, thank you so much!  What a special surprise!

But the most surprising surprise of all was waiting at my mailbox today.  I got a free book from Taste of Home for having a recipe published in Simple & Delicious this past year.
(Photo by Taste of Home)
 I am going to have fun cooking from this.  What a wonderful day full of nice surprises!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Weekly Goals 2/12/2012

Okay, a quick check-in to post my goals for this week and to report on how I did with last week's goals.  I did better than the previous week, so I'm encouraged.  First of all, the goals for this week:

1.  Memorize Psalm 19:7-11.
2.  Read another chapter in Essential Virtues.
3.  Exercise 3 to 5 times.
4.  Plan and cook healthy meals.
5.  Do the FlyLady "Kelly's Missions" for each day.
6.  Work ahead in Sunday School study.
7.  Work on my weekly crafting goals to accomplish a mix of old and new projects.

As for how I did with last week's goals:

1.  I had planned to memorize 4 verses but only managed one.  Didn't get around to working on it until the end of the week, which didn't help!
2.  Read one chapter in Essential VirtuesDONE!
3.  Exercise 3 to 5 times.  I managed 3 times, so, DONE!
4.  Plan and cook healthy meals.  DONE!
5.  Declutter 1  hour in computer room; only managed a few minutes.
6.  Craft 8 small items for gifts and/or possible sale.  DONE!
7.  Work ahead on study for Sunday School lesson.  DONE!

Accomplishing 5 out of my 7 goals was a great encouragement.  With my Scripture memory goal (#1), I just need to get started earlier in the week.  And I decided to adjust my homemaking goal (#5) to something more specific which would also work toward my goal of decluttering the entire  house.  The missions for this week are for bathrooms as well as the home office, so I will be decluttering in the computer room as I go.  I've found in the past that just keeping up with Kelly's missions makes a huge difference in my house.  So there you have it.  We'll see how well I do!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A tasty fish recipe

(Photo by Taste of Home)
We got a wonderful buy on some frozen haddock fillets last week and I turned to one of my very favorite fish recipes, Fish Fillets with Spinach (or Broccoli).  I've been making this recipe for years and it is very quick and easy.  Basically, you cook frozen chopped spinach or broccoli, place in the bottom of a baking dish, sprinkle with lemon juice, then put uncooked fish fillets on top, sprinkle with salt, and cover with a cheese sauce, and bake 20 to 30 minutes until the fish is done.  You can sprinkle some grated parmesan on in the last 5 minutes if you like.  Here is the link to the recipe:  Cheesy Fish Fillets with Spinach.  I made this with broccoli one day when I was out of chopped spinach.  Some of our family members like the recipe even better with the broccoli than with the original spinach.

I usually serve this with mashed potatoes, which go so well with the cheesy sauce, and with a colorful vegetable like carrots or squash.  Hope your family enjoys this if you try it!

We have a lot of fish fillets to use.  Any tried and true recipes to share?

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Breakfast for supper

(Photo by Taste of Home)
We always enjoy having breakfast foods at supper time, and I often plan one meal like this per week.  On Tuesday night, we enjoyed a couple of old favorite recipes.  I actually would not be likely to make these omelets at breakfast time, as they involve too much fussing to do early in the morning.  They are easy enough, but they involve several dishes and several different steps.

Here is the omelet recipe:  Layered Omelets with Cheese Sauce.  These omelets are baked in the oven in pie pans.  To serve them, you cut them in wedges (2 per serving) and layer them on the plate with cheese sauce between the layers and on top. 

Any sort of potato dish would go well with these, but I chose an old favorite, Oven Potato Wedges.  I most often serve these with hot dogs and beans, burgers, etc.  but they are good with breakfast foods too.  I chose them this time because they bake for an hour in the oven unattended, so I could do other things while they cooked.  Always a plus in my book!  I enjoy cooking, but I almost always have something else I'd like to do with any extra time.

Any vegetable would go well with this menu.  I love frozen veggies, especially the asparagus stir-fry blend and other blends of unsauced vegetables.  But I had been given some baby bok choy, so I stir-fried that to go along with our omelets this time.  What a yummy meal!  Maybe your family would like to try these recipes, too.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

A healthy, delicious supper!

(Photo by Taste of Home)
Back in November, I took advantage of a $5 subscription offer from Healthy Cooking magazine.  I have received two issues so far and am very pleased with the magazine.  It has fantastic recipes and some interesting articles.  In the first issue, which was December/January, in the quick and easy section for suppers, I found these two recipes:  Chicken Sausage with Peppers and Cheese Smashed Potatoes.  They were suggested as main dish and accompanying side dish.  I made this meal for my dad (I cook for him several times a week) and also for Mr. T and myself, and we all enjoyed it. 

The only thing I changed with the sausage recipe was to use all orange peppers instead of different colors.  I had been given some orange peppers, and I don't quibble with colors on free food!  In the potato recipe, I had only russet potatoes so used them, and I did peel them as the outsides weren't too appetizing-looking.  And, I was out of shredded cheddar, so I substituted 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese for the 2/3 cup cheddar, reasoning that as it is a sharper, more flavorful cheese I could get by with less.  Both substitutions worked out just fine -- and I must add that no one could taste the cauliflower in the potatoes.   Both of these recipes are "keepers" for me.  Hope your family enjoys these if you try them out!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Weekly Goals 2/5/2012

(Photo taken February 4!)
During the last few days of January, I finally identified some goals for 2012, and I also reached the conclusion that it would be a good idea to set a few weekly goals that would help me to reach the yearly ones.  My intent is to try and do a "Weekly Goals" post every week and also to recap how I did with the previous week's goals.  Obviously I can't post a list of everything I hope to accomplish in a given week; I will just post a few weekly goals that line up with the yearly ones.  So here is this week's list:

1.  Memorize Psalm 19:7-10.
2.  Read one chapter in Essential Virtues.
3.  Exercise 3 to 5 times.
4.  Plan healthy menus; cook healthy meals.
5.  Declutter for 1 hour in computer room.
6.  Make 8 small craft items for gifts or possible sale.
7.  Work ahead on study for next Sunday School lesson.

Now, as to how I did last week.  I only fully accomplished 2 of my seven goals -- planning healthy menus and writing to faraway family.  I partially accomplished 3 of the seven goals, involving Scripture memory, decluttering, and crafting.  I had planned to memorize 5 verses and only managed two, but went on to a different passage for this week to stay with the program I'm trying to use.  I only spent about 15 minutes decluttering and crafted 3 of the small items.  And 2 of my goals -- exercise and reading -- were not accomplished at all.  So I am definitely hoping for a better week this week!

Delightful giveaway at Prairie Flower Farm!

(Photo by Prairie Flower Farm)
Yes, Linda is having another sweet giveaway this week.  She is giving away this delightful set of salt & pepper shakers in the shape of a teapot and teacup.  Aren't they sweet?  The giveaway ends on the 11th, so head on over to Prairie Flower Farm salt & pepper giveaway and get in on the fun!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Teatime Table Runners

Some years ago, my mother gave me a bag of vintage handkerchiefs.  Some had been mine as a child, some had been hers, and I think some are even older than that.  She had kept them in a fabric bag in a dresser drawer all those years.  I just don't believe in doing that with heirlooms -- stashing them away so that no one, not even the person who stashed them there,  ever sees them or enjoys them.   I have always wanted to put these hankies to some good use, and had actually planned to make them into a quilt.  I was so determined to do this that I had found a free pattern I wanted to use and had even bought the fabric for the quilt.  I had even tried sewing several of the vintage hankies into the center of the quilt blocks.   But as much as I wanted to make the quilt, I just couldn't get enthused about the project or get off the ground with it.  I don't know if other people ever feel this way about projects, but sometimes I do.  It just wasn't looking as nice as I hoped, and, truth be told, was somewhat of a boring project.  (Hope my grandchildren never read this, as they are not allowed to use the "B" word.)

This year, I came up with the idea to use some of the hankies to make a table runner instead.  I wanted to make more of these for gifts, so I decided to use the kids' hankies that had been mine as a child in blocks for a sample table runner and see how it all worked out.  I decided to use the hankies as "doilies" or "napkins" under various tea-themed items such as teapots, teacups, etc. which I would applique out of coordinating fabric.  Well!  It took quite awhile, and some time on the part of several craft forum friends, to find enough motifs to use for the tea-themed items, but in the end, I ended up with more than enough ideas.

I made the runner for myself this summer, and it turned out quite well even using the cartoon-themed hankies and the brighter colors.  It was a fun summer project.
Half of the more colorful runner
The second half of the colorful runner

 I planned to make two more, one for each of my daughters, for Christmas.  The hankies for theirs are some of the prettier floral designs, plus others.   I managed to get one runner done in time for Christmas, and finished the second one in mid-January.  Now that it is safely in Carrie's hands, there's no more need for secrecy and I can share pictures.
Half of the pastel runner
A simple cup of tea

A cupcake

The other half of the runner

Stack of teacups

Teakettle ~ love the unusual design on this hanky

A simple teapot

Teapot with teacup ~ I got the inspiration for this design from a motif on a child's tin tea set!

Hope you have enjoyed this look at my tea-themed table runners!  I am so happy to have found a use for those vintage hankies so they can be seen and admired at last.

The oldest UFO

Yes, I think this was it ... the oldest unfinished object in my craft room.  I can't tell you what a great feeling of accomplishment it was to finally cross this off my list after 30+ years.

My husband used to love playing chess.  At the time I started this project, he was in the process of acquiring a set of collectible chessmen.  I had seen this nifty chessboard needlepoint rug in a magazine and decided that he needed to have one as a fitting backdrop for his chessmen.  I sent away for the pattern, yarn, and canvas needed.  There were no craft stores in our area then; just a department store or two that did sell craft supplies, but nothing like this.
A closer look at the medieval village border; you can see the color difference in the inner tan border to the upper right.

Partway through the project, I ran out of one color of yarn for the inner border.  I matched it locally as best I could (there were only a few inches to go) and continued on.  And, after a number of years (I can't even remember how many), I finally finished the stitching.  Meanwhile, my husband almost never played chess anymore and has never even used the collectible chessmen now residing in the attic.
This shows a corner motif.  Two are trees, and two are suns.

The rug, folded in a pile with other UFOs, grew old and tired looking as it waited for me to figure out how to finish it.  A couple of years ago I decided to finish it, but it was dusty and creased so I tried washing it.  I figured if it got totally destroyed, I could then throw it away with a clear conscience.  Well, it didn't get totally destroyed.  But the canvas disintegrated on two opposite sides of it into fringes several inches long.  I refolded the rug and returned it to the pile; it obviously couldn't be finished using any simple method.

This year I determined it would be finished.  If nothing else, the grandkids would enjoy playing checkers on it.  So I took it in hand.  The intact edges were sewed down on the back of the rug.  The fringed edges were taped down with yellow duct tape on the back.  Then I cut a piece of light green felt to fit the back and sewed it in place to protect the stitching.  Finally, to tie everything together, I crocheted a black edging around the entire rug. 
Finished at last!  Bring on the checkers!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Cinnamon Almonds ~ a healthy snack

The other day I was browsing through one of my favorite Jane Brody cookbooks,  Jane Brody's Good Food Gourmet, and came upon a recipe for cinnamon-toasted nuts.  I had bought a bag of wonderful whole almonds at a terrific price a couple of weeks ago, and had been wondering just how to use them other than snacking on them plain.  Jane's recipe calls for both almonds and hazelnuts, and uses double the quantity that I used.  I chose to only make half the recipe because I wanted to be able to use some of my almonds for something else.

I must emphasize that these almonds are not a sweet, glazed type of snack.  They are plain and simple, roasted almonds dusted with cinnamon.  The only sweetness comes from the nuts themselves and the cinnamon.  But you might find, as I did, that they make a satisfying, healthy snack (in moderation, of course) that will help you stick to a healthy eating plan.

Here's the recipe:
1 cup whole almonds
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400ยบ.  Spread out the almonds on a baking pan.  Sprinkle the cinnamon over the almonds and stir to combine.  Toast for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.  Cool before eating or storing.  I put mine in a little jar and they are retaining their cinnamon flavor nicely.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

February 1

... and, in the dormer window by my crafting desk, a somewhat confused Christmas cactus.
(Photo was taken on Monday so it is even prettier now.)

I noticed on Monday that a blossom was coming and turned it so that side of the plant was away from the cold window.  What am I  to think?  This cactus has bloomed at odd times before, including Halloween, Thanksgiving, Civil Rights Day and St. Patrick's Day.  Maybe it's a holiday cactus .. it will still be blooming tomorrow on Groundhog Day!  No matter, its cheery color and exuberant blossom brightens up this dreary winter day.