May your Christmas be filled with Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy.
Last night I finished up several teacher baskets filled with homemade goodies like fudge, minty almond bark, and cookies-and-cream truffles. They are all wrapped and sitting on my counter waiting to be delivered. (You know, cellophane wrapped baskets are really hard to photograph!) But they will keep until tomorrow while we enjoy (?!?) a snow day today, and try and scoop out from beneath the 12 inches plus of snow we received yesterday! We had some of the lower totals, too! Thanks goodness the storm hit before we left and not during our drive!!!
Beyond the snow, today is filled with packing and cleaning and list-checking. Blog-wise, I will be off until after the first of the year.
With Many Merry, Merry Christmas Wishes to you and yours,
A sweet and salty treat!
2 sticks butter (no margarine)
1 cup brown sugar
12 oz. chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with heavy duty foil. Cover with a single layer of saltine crackers (about 4 across by 6 down). Melt the butter and brown sugar together over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Pour over saltines. Place in oven for approximately 3 – 5 minutes. Watch closely! When brown sugar mixture begins to bubble around edges, remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Place back in oven for one minute. Remove and spread softened chocolate chips over top.
Sweet weekend wishes,
There are a lot of great blogs throwing all sorts of holiday parties right now -The Nester and Thrifty Decor Chick just to name a few. It’s been fun to pop in here and there to check things out. But mostly around here, I just keep on truckin’ – sewing and baking, attending parent/teacher conferences, school band concerts and field trips, wrapping and hiding presents, and probably the biggest: getting ready for our six state drive-through next week to get to our family in Illinois! Life is full…and blessed.
I’m getting close to having all my sewing done. My self-imposed deadline is Friday night. Finishing the binding on my sister’s quilt is on tap for tonight, and tomorrow I will finish some ornaments I am making for my grandmother, parents, and aunt.
I am stitching some hexagon flowers onto various wool scraps, and then simply making a stuffed circle with a ribbon hangar. The hexagons are made from my grandfather’s ties. He passed away almost two years ago, and I’ve been meaning to make a memento from them for some time now. The biggest trick was stabilizing the slippery polyester tie fabric!
Saturday and Sunday will be spent baking up a storm for some more family and teacher gifts (in between loads of laundry!), and Monday is packing day. And then…we head out Tuesday after school…whew!
With Christmas merriment and “busyness,” and the embracing of it all,
Peanut Butter Kisses
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 package of chocolate kisses
extra sugar to coat cookies
In large mixing bowl, mix peanut butter and butter. Add half of the flour, both sugars, egg, baking soda, baking powder, and vanilla. Mix in remaining flour. If dough is too soft, chill for one hour or more. Shape dough into balls and roll in white sugar to coat. Bake at 375 degrees until lightly browned. Immediately press chocolate kiss in middle of hot cookie.
1 cup sugar
1 cup eggnog
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Beat eggs in large mixing bowl, add sugar, eggnog, butter, and vanilla – mix well. Add flour, baking powder, and spices. Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50 minutes. Test for doneness with knife or toothpick. Let rest in pan for 10-15 minutes, remove, cool, and wrap.
I had just a small piece of this vintage chicken print, and I had been saving it for something for my mom. (She collects chickens and her kitchen is red.) I found some “mystery” cotton fabric at my local fabric store, and thought it might work up well into the dish towels that were popping up everywhere last Christmas. It is similar to waffle-weave, but has a much softer hand. Whatever it is, I’m glad I prewashed, as it shrunk up considerably, but it also came out super soft. So, with a little olive green binding and some scraps of batting for the potholder, I’ve got a nice little set for my mom. I’m working on a Christmas-y set for my mother-in-law.
We escaped much of the snow that barreled across the nation, but the wind is howling and the temps are the coldest we’ve seen this year. I think the coffee pot and the kettle will be going for most of the weekend!
Warm weekend wishes,
Feeding four ever-hungry kids and a husband during busy times isn’t always easy. I’ve said before that the crock pot reigns queen around Morning Glory Lane, and during Christmas time, I sometimes have two of them going at once. Prep time also has to be minimal for me as I usually don’t have a lot of extra time in the morning before heading out the door. This gumbo is a favorite, it will be on our table soon…
Chicken and Ham Gumbo
1 1/2 1bs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped
1 Tbsp. oil
10 oz. package of frozen okra
1 cup chopped ham (use leftovers, deli meat, even canned)
2 medium-sized green peppers, chopped
3 (10 oz.) cans cannellini beans, drained
6 cups chicken broth
2 (10 oz) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies (or just use reg. tomatoes and add a small can of chopped green chilies)
Salt and pepper to taste, if desired
1/2 cup rice, uncooked (you can omit this if you don’t have any or don’t like rice)
1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
Cook chicken in oil until done (you can do this the night before and store in refrigerator). Rinse the okra in hot water so that it does not stick together. Combine all but cilantro in the crock pot. Cook on low 6 – 8 hours, or high for 3-4. Add cilantro just before serving.
Come on in and sit a spell – the tree is lit and the soup’s a bubblin’,
Every year along about early October, I start praying that the month of December will be a month of peace for my family. That the enormous, never-ending list of to-do’s will somehow be accomplished before the turn of the November calendar page. Every year I harbor deep-rooted fantasies of simply floating through the month of December, slowly savoring Christmas activities with my family and friends, free from the pressing demands of the the hard work of the holidays. Some years I feel closer to this than others.
This year has been no different in my wishes for a stress-free December. I have organized, pre-planned, and multi-tasked my way through November, but my list is still there – and I’m not sure it’s getting any shorter! However, what has been different, is my conscience effort to really think about each task as I’m doing it - trying to find the peace in the “doing.” I know this isn’t a new concept, but it has given me a new way of thinking about peace. I easily get overwhelmed, and I have to truly work to center myself in the moment. But the gift that I experience when I truly do let go and allow myself to be fully engrossed in the task at hand, has taken me a little bit by surprise. It’s such a common sense type of conclusion, yet it’s one of those things that just doesn’t quite “click” until it happens to you.
I have found one of the easier activities for me to find my center, has been sewing or knitting/crocheting. So…instead of trying to reduce my number of handmade items this year, I have actually raised it! And incredibly, this is working for me! Maybe this won’t always be the case, but for the here and now, I am thankful. This quilt has been in my ufo pile for a few months, and as I looked at it with new eyes, I decided it would be perfect for my sister’s Christmas present. The top had been finished, so now I’m quilting it up and hope to put the binding on this weekend.
I’ve also knit up a good-sized pile of washcloths for various gifts - I am going to bundle two of them together. I’ve used various patterns found mostly on-line, but the most popular one has been the easy, diagonal knit pattern of the cast on 4 and increase each row until you have 45 stitches, then decrease each row until you have 4 stitches left, and then finish with a bind off. Super, super easy and fast. I may be making more, but I am still keeping it simple! (btw, the red and green afghan in the background is a favorite thrift store find from a few years ago)
More to share soon.
Sending wishes of peace,
I love Friday’s, don’t you? I love gathering everyone back in at the end of the week and the freedom of the weekend stretching ahead. (Although at our house our weekends are nearly as busy as our weekdays!) Walking over to the school this afternoon to pick up the youngest son, I enjoyed this…and this…
and lots of these…
crunching underfoot, and blowing and swirling around.
After work and before school let out , I had just enough time to eat a little lunch and start ironing several feet of this…
a good Friday afternoon, indeed.
Happy Friday to you and yours,
We took a quick jaunt “down south” to Hartford, CT for a tour of Mark Twain’s home and museum. We couldn’t take any pictures in the house, but it was beautiful. Go see this house if you can. It is well worth it. They divide the tour into two parts – the main house and the servant’s wing – both were great. The servant’s wing gives you an inside view of the kitchen and how such a large house was managed. The main house is a longer tour, covering more territory, but both tours are filled with wonderful stories of the family. The tour guides did an excellent job of making the house come to life.
Here’s my version of Rae's Itty Bitty Baby Dress. This was a gift to my bother and his wife’s new baby daughter – my first niece! I hope it fits her and that she will get a little bit of wear out of it before the winter. I bought a pink onesie turtleneck and some pink tights to go with it (in lieu of the dotted pants) in case it gets cold sooner than later! I saw her shortly after she was born, but she lives in Chicago, so I’m relying on pictures and emails until we see her at Christmas! Babies are so sweet.
And just in case you feel the need for something sweet, I leave you with some Monster Cookies, mine are missing the M&M’s this time, but with four ever-hungry kids (and hubby), they still got eaten just the same.
2 cups white sugar
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon salt
3 cups oatmeal (you can use old-fashioned, or quick)
6 oz. chocolate chips
6 oz. M&M’s
In a large mixing bowl, combine sugars, shortening, peanut butter, eggs, and vanilla. In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into sugar/shortening mixture. Add oatmeal and chocolate chips and M&M’s. Batter will be very stiff. Drop onto cookie sheet. You can make these really large (i.e. Monster Cookies), or just regular size. Bake at 350 degrees. Time will vary with size. Regular size is usually around 10 minutes.
We’ve been taking advantage of the fall weather and taking a few weekend day trips. We started with a quick trip into New Hampshire and then just over the state line into Vermont. Along the way we saw Alpacas, pumpkins, and the beginnings of some fall colors.
Some from a distance…and…
…some up close.
According to the recent news reports, the New England pumpkin crop has suffered this year. So I was expecting to see a smaller number of pumpkins at the local farm stands, but when we stopped at an apple orchard, I wasn’t quite prepared for this! We were greeted with some pretty slim pumpkin pickings…
I snatched up a few for my front porch, but we will still need to get a “big one” for carving the traditional jack-o-lantern closer to Halloween. Have you seen some of the pumpkin carving patterns over at Martha Stewart? Have you tried any? I don’t know that my talent runs in that direction, but they are impressive.
As the leaves begin to fall, my sewing machine has been humming, too. I fell in love with Happy Zombie's Poochie Bags! They are very cute – and fun to make to boot! This one I made for a friend as a “thank you” for all her advice and encouragement. She is an unbelievable knitter, so I filled it with some great yarn I had thrifted. (She’s a great thrifter too, so she was doubly appreciative!)
I really, really like these bags. They are a great size, but in case you might want a smaller tote, Monica has also written up an additional pattern for a mini version. The Itty Bitty Poochies are very sweet, too. I am already planning several of these for teacher gifts at Christmas.
I only used two fabrics for mine (instead of three), but I really think you could get super creative with this pattern. I think it is an ideal pattern if you only have a little bit of a favorite fabric, as you could easily line the inside of the bag and pockets (and even make the straps) with a solid. I also was thinking that for the lining and the pockets, you could experiment with some repurposed shirts or pants – or even a blanket or coat. Lots of possibilities indeed!
Sewing and road trips – does it get any better than that? Just last weekend we were off on another adventure a little closer to home.
More on that next time…
Boy, it’s been a long time since I posted. Summer has slipped away. The kids have started school, vacations are over, family reunions have come and gone, and slowly, we are settling into the rhythm of fall.
I have been working on items for my etsy shop, just not as fast as I would like! And…I am still plugging away on my nine patch from Crazy Mom Quilts blog. I think many of the quilters are on their second (or maybe it’s their third?!!) quilt by now. I just keep on keepin’ on – making a few blocks here and there as I get the chance.
I’m up to 59 blocks, and I’m still aiming for 72. I’m getting closer! I spread them out on a white bedspread the other day to help me “try out” the white sashing, and I really like it. I think I’m simply going to follow Amanda Jean's suggestions, including the scrappy border.
As apple season begins, I’ll leave you with a common treat that I sometimes forget. It smells so good and takes the chill off the house while it’s baking. I know they make little baking pans for these, even some for the microwave, but I still like to do them in the oven!
Baked Stuffed Apples
4 large baking
about 1/4 – 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins, walnuts, or pecans (or a mix)
about 1/2 cup water
Core apples. Mix brown sugar, nuts and/or raisins and spices. Divide evenly between apples and pack into the hollowed-out center. Dot each with butter. Place in baking pan and pour the 1/2 cup water around the apples. Cover with foil and bake at 375 until tender and heated through. Time will vary with size and type of apples. 30 – 60 minutes. You can also slice the apples as if for pie and mix all ingredients together except for the water. Place in a greased dish, cover with foil or lid, and bake until tender. Tastes just like the inside of an apple pie, only better!
I shouldn’t have ever complained about the cool weather we have had this summer. This hot and humid stretch is still here and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. It’s the sticky, humidity I wish would go away! Although, I have to admit, it feels quite like the Illinois weather I grew up with. On the bright side, it has been excellent weather for the beach. My sister was visiting last week and we did a little beach-going and local sightseeing, while enjoying some fresh seafood. We didn’t partake of these beauties, they were a little too out of our price range, but it looks like someone got to savor one!
I have had an Etsy shop for quite a while now, but have yet to list anything. My goal for this month is to remedy that. I have been working on some baby quilts and other baby items – hats, bibs, burpcloths – all the usual suspects.
Some are made with vintage sheets and linens, some with repurposed fabric, and some with nice, soft quilting cottons. These are two quilt tops awaiting their backing, quilting, and binding. I know these pictures are soooo bad. I’m going to have to work on this before I list anything. I’ve seen several good articles on Etsy. I think I will start there.
I was inspired by Jodi's apron that she made for a recent contest (and for which she was a winner!). I had been wanting to make an apron for a gift, but couldn’t make up my mind on a pattern. Jodi used the Apron-in-an-Hour pattern - the pattern can be found here - and it really does make up in an hour! This is definitely on my list to make for future gifts.
It’s hard to tell with my limited photo skills and camera quality, but the main fabric of the apron has tiny, polka-dotted mushrooms on a muted green background. I used a multi-colored, zig-zag stripe I had in my stash for the lower band and the ties. Since it only uses a fat quarter for the apron panel, this is now going to give me an excuse to buy all those novelty fat quarter prints I’m always drooling over. I really, really love this pattern, and I am grateful to both Jodi for inspiring me to try it, and to Stop Staring and Start Sewing for her generosity in sharing it with all of blogland.
The apron became a birthday gift for my sister, and I think she loved it. Since we live far apart, I hope it brings her a smile when she wears it. There’s nothing like bein’ in the kitchen with family, even if it’s only in spirit!
I’ve saved one of my favorites for last. At our house we like to drizzle this with some hot fudge or chocolate sauce. You can also substitute a chocolate cookie crust for the graham cracker.
Peanut Butter Pie
8 oz. whipped topping
2 (8 0z. each) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 graham cracker crust (or chocolate)
In large bowl, combine whipped topping, cream cheese, sugar, and peanut butter using a wooden spoon. When mixed, spoon into pie shell. Refrigerate several hours.
I hope you have enjoyed the past weeks’ worth of “Cool Treats” as much as I have had sharing them with you.
You didn’t think I’d only post one chocolate recipe, did you?!!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Refrigerator Dessert
1 package chocolate chip cookies (example Chips Ahoy or similar, store brand is fine)
1/2 cup butter
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 large container Cool Whip
1 (3 oz.) package instant butterscotch pudding
1 (3 oz.) package chocolate pudding
Crush all cookies, reserving 1 cup crumbs for topping. Melt butter and mix with rest of crumbs. Press into a 9”x13” pan. Refrigerate. Meanwhile, combine cream cheese with approximately 3/4 of the whipped topping. Spread onto crust. Refrigerate. Meanwhile, mix butterscotch pudding as directed and spread on top of whipped topping mixture. Mix chocolate pudding as directed and spread on top of butterscotch pudding. Spread rest of whipped topping over all and sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs. Cover and refrigerate over night.
This one is a little more labor intensive, but very worth it!
Creamy Ladyfinger Cheesecake
1 (40z.) package cream cheese
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 pint whipping cream
2 packages lady fingers
1 can cherry pie filling or fresh strawberries
Cream the cheese, sugar and vanilla with wooden spoon. Whip cream in separate bowl until thick, fold into cheese mixture slowly. Line a spring form or angel food pan with lady fingers, covering sides as well as bottom. Pour cheese mixture into pan and refrigerate. When well chilled, top cake with cherry filling.
Here’s one that is a little fancier. I wish I had a picture to share of these - they are very pretty!
Lemon Slush Cups
3 large lemons
15 ice cubes
1 (6 oz.) can of frozen pink lemonade concentrate
1 Tablespoon sugar
Cut lemons in half. Twist on juicer to squeeze out juice. Measure and save 2 Tablespoons lemon juice. Scoop out insides of lemon skins (pulp) with spoon to make clean lemon “cups.” Cut thin slice off of each bottom so cups will sit flat. Crush ice cubes. Combine pink lemonade with 2 Tablespoons lemon juice and sugar in blender. Add ice and blend until smooth. Spoon into lemon cups and decorate with blueberries.
And now for something chocolate…..
Chocolate Mallow Malt Pie
1 short bread pie shell
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk (do not use skim)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup chocolate or vanilla flavored malted milk powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup chopped pecans
In top of double boiler, combine marshmallows, chocolate chips, milk, and salt. Cook over hot water, stirring occasionally, until marshmallows and chocolate chips are melted. Remove from heat and cool until slightly thickened. In small mixing bowl, combine whipping cream, malted milk powder, and vanilla. Beat until very thick. Fold in chocolate-marshmallow mixture. Spoon into baked pastry shell. Sprinkle chopped pecans around edge of pie. Chill several hours or overnight.
Since we are deep into the summer, and the temperatures seem to continue to climb, I thought I’d share a week’s worth of cool treats. I know my sweet tooth doesn’t go away with the heat, and a trip to the Dairy Queen isn’t always possible, so each day this week I will post a no-bake, cool treat.
Cranberry Parfait Pie
1 graham cracker or shortbread crust
3/4 cup cranberry juice cocktail
1 (3 0z.) package lemon jello
1 (16 oz.) can whole cranberry sauce
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel (optional)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 pint vanilla ice cream
In saucepan heat cranberry juice to boiling, remove from heat. Add jello and stir until dissolved. Pour mixture into large mixing bowl. Stir in cranberry sauce, lemon peel, and lemon juice. Add ice cream by large spoonfuls, and stir until melted. Chill mixture until mixture mounds when spooned. Spread into pie shell. Chill several hours or overnight. Dollop each serving with whipped cream.
Over the past winter and spring, I decided to try and teach myself how to crochet. Evidently I felt I needed yet one more iron in the fire! I at least had the sense enough to start small and stay small. After learning a few of the basic stitches, I came up with the idea to make cotton coasters from left over yarn. (I like to knit cotton washcloths, too!) With four kids, I am constantly on the go, getting them to and from school and other activities. I usually try to grab my yarn bag when we leave the house so that I have something to work on when I have to wait. These, like the washcloths, were small and very portable.
Once you get going, they are super easy to make and work great under your glass of summertime iced tea! Here’s how I did mine – I adapted this a little after I wasn’t always consistent in my finished size. Mine certainly aren’t perfect, but they were fun and fast to make! If you have never crocheted before, and think you might want to try, check out About.com's crochet site.
Crocheted Cotton Coasters
Using a cotton, worsted-weight yarn, Chain 4.
Round One: Make 11 Double Crochet (dc) into the fourth chain from hook. Slip stitch to join.
Round Two: Chain 3. Double Crochet into the slip stitch used to join the previous round. 2 Double Crochet into next dc, continue dc’ing in each dc around the circle, ending again with a slip stitch to join.
Round Three: Chain 3. Now this is the round I sometimes had to adjust as I would get “waves” and needed to use fewer dc’s. I think it all depended on the particular yarn and my tension – the yarn tension, that is! Adjust as you go along, knowing each one might be different. DC into slip stitch. *DC into next dc, 2 dc into each of the next two dc, dc into next dc, 2 dc into next dc. Repeat from * around entire circle, ending with slip stitch to join.
If you have really small cups/glasses, you might want to end after round three. I wanted mine on the larger size, so I went with one more round.
Round Four: Chain 3. DC into slip stitch. *DC into next dc, 2 dc into next dc. Repeat from * Join with slip stitch. Fasten yarn and weave in ends.
The colors make me happy,and they coordinate well with my small collection of Fiestaware, too! :)
With the arrival of the heat and humidity, and the absence of central air, the crock pot sees extra heavy rotation in our house. Tonight’s menu consisted of Scalloped Potatoes and Ham, sliced watermelon, and a green salad.
Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
6 – 8 slices of ham: I just use whatever I have on hand – sometimes it’s deli slices, sometimes I have a few leftover slices or chunks from a large ham, or sometimes I have even used a small can (tuna size) of chopped ham. You can even leave out the ham and make it a vegetarian meal.
10 – 14 medium sized potatoes, scrubbed and sliced thin (skin left on)
1 large onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
6 slices of American cheese or about 1 cup shredded cheese of your choice
2 cans of cream soup (celery, mushroom, chicken, etc.)
Put half of the ham, potatoes, onion, and cheese in the slow cooker. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add second layer of ham, potatoes, onion, and cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread undiluted soup on top. Replace cover and cook on High approximately 4 hours. Leftovers reheat well.
I finished a quilt top! In older pattern/quilting books, I’ve seen this rail fence pattern labeled as The Spirit of St. Louis. I assume that the “St. Louis” was an airplane and that the color placement resembles the propellers. But this is only a guess as I haven’t been able to find a lot of history on this particular block. I’ve also wondered if it had anything to do with the World’s Fair in St. Louis, MO.
While I’ve been “wondering” instead of sewing, my nine-patches for Amanda Jean's have been sitting. I am soooo behind on this project, and I was so enthused when I started. I still love the colors, and I have almost all of the squares cut, but I am moving at a snail’s pace!
I’ve also been working on a couple of bags. I am almost finished with the Romantic Patchwork Handbag from Fig Tree Quilts Easiest Handbags Ever.
I really like how the body turned out – it is just a basic quilted rectangle bag, but I’m not happy with the handles. I’ve finished them, but haven’t sewn them on. I am thinking of narrowing them a bit. I also need to make the covered cardboard insert for the bottom of the bag to make it sit flat. The pattern also suggested that you could bind the inside seams of the bag for a more “finished” look, and I definitely will do that next time.
I am headed to the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA this afternoon. I haven’t been there before and am anxious to take a tour. Next week they are having a huge festival which looks amazing!
I found some needles! I found some needles!! For over a month I have been bidding on numerous lots of knitting needles and crochet hooks on ebay, but I kept getting outbid at the last minute. Finally at a flea market, I hit the jackpot! Two lots of needles and hooks for less than what I had been leaving as my maximum bid!! It’s been fun to sort through them and match them up. Some were brand new and still in their original paper sleeve. Look at those huge yellow needles – what will I ever knit on those!?? I wonder if they all came from the same person?
Then, on another thrifting adventure, my luck continued, as I found this . .. 10 skeins of virgin wool from Scotland, along with a piece of wool fabric!!! The picture doesn’t do justice to the gorgeous indigo color of this wool. And look at the original price tag, $70.00!!
I got the whole bag for $6.00! I would love to make this into a shawl for the fall. I think there is enough fabric for a skirt, too.
I love it when I find great stuff like this!