Monday, December 30, 2013

Between Christmas and the New Year

Some Christmas Odds and Ends

Our tree this year.

It's hard to believe that Christmas was almost one week ago. The older I get, the more that it seems that time passes at warp speed. The harder I try to hang on to time, the faster it flies. 

Christmas was fun celebrating with family. Though the period of time I had with my kids was not long enough, we made the most of the time we had. We carried out the traditions we created over the years and as always, there was plenty of fun, food, gifts and late-night laughter to go around. 

Our dog Ellie--her constant movement makes for blurry photos! She loved Christmas, especially opening presents and having everyone home!


A few of my Christmas 2013 Projects

Microwaveable/Freezeable Rice Paks (Heating/Ice Packs) 
Made from Recycled Jeans

These rice packs are folded in half and tied for gift-giving. They are sewn in the middle to channel the rice from flowing to one side. One pant leg will yield two good-sized rice packs. I save tags from other recycled jeans (such as LEVI tags above). Recycle jean pockets for "gift pockets" as shown below.

Gift Pockets
The pockets of jeans can also be recycled! Stuff them with goodies and wrap up a gift card!

Janice Pope 2-Hr Tulip Bag

Another 2 hour Tulip Bag (Janice Pope Pattern) made from corduroy. This turned out so well! It took a bit longer than 2 hours as I added extra pockets and velcro.

This time all pockets have velcro closures. Inside are 2 pockets: one on the front side and the back side.

And don't forget the dogs! 

Purchase some healthy dog treats from the pet store and package them for all your doggie friends. Use cardstock folded in half (use a paper punch to make a festive edge on the cardstock), and make a tag. Tails will wag for sure!

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and that everyone has a blessed 2014. 

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Snow Day! Again!

So pretty outside....

Today it is snowing for the second time in just a few days. We got about twelve inches of snow in the first storm. Today's storm was only supposed to deliver about two inches of fluffy white stuff but since we already have a generous two inches, I am assuming we will be getting the higher end of the expected snowfall amount. That's OK. Here is the view out my kitchen window. A beautiful, fresh, white blanket of snow! It was near zero this morning too. Brrrrrrrrrrr!

After running a quick errand to pick up a small cupboard for my kitchen (before the snowstorm arrived) we decided that maybe baking would be the best thing to do today. My daughter who is recently home for the holidays from college, wanted to make gingerbread men.

....only 4 left to bake.


My daughter trying one of her gingerbread with a little eggnog!

My new kitchen cupboard.... fits perfectly!

Still searching for the perfect shelf, pot rack, window treatments (probably valance or swag).

My tree is almost fully decorated.

One of my angels ornaments that I made hanging on my tree.

I still have some handmade ornaments to hang on my tree but other than that my living room is decorated for Christmas. I love to relax by my lit tree at night, drinking a cup of hot tea with my dog Ellie curled up next to me, her head in my peaceful.
 Hope you are warm and cozy wherever you happen to be. I don't believe I will be warm until spring but I sure try! 

"Let it snow!"..........

Linking up to:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Compensating for Holiday Eating

Following several days of eating traditional Thanksgiving foods,(Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, butternut squash, peas, etc and an assortment of desserts) I found myself craving healthier meal choices, so it came as no surprise that while grocery shopping yesterday, I filled my grocery cart with plenty of spring greens, lettuce, fruits, veggies and various nuts.

I have had enough of this:

....and this:

and this:

and this....among other things.

Tonight while my husband is out of town,  I grilled some chicken tenders that were in the fridge for a much needed salad and topped my spring greens and lettuce salad with the grilled chicken seasoned with garlic, along with a sliced bosc pear, a little red onion, some dried cranberries and walnuts and of course a drizzling of blue cheese (yogurt) dressing. It was delicious! Just enough crunch!

I truly love all the foods on our typical Thanksgiving Day menu but all those carbs......and not exactly lowfat either. After two or three days of eating like that I feel like crawling into a cave and hibernating until spring. Please don't wake me....

Since hibernation is not a practical option for me, salads like these help me get back on track.

Time with my family over the Thanksgiving weekend was especially precious this year as we did not have an opportunity to spend time with my two older daughters over the summer or fall as we usually do. Thanksgiving  was the first time we were all together for any length of time. We stayed up late Friday night chatting, laughing and catching up.

We will all be together again on Christmas although my oldest daughter will be leaving during the Christmas Day festivities to spend time with her fiance's family. So, we will just have to make the most of Christmas Eve.

 My three daughters will carry out their traditional "Christmas Eve Sister's Gift Exchange" which is always fun to watch and then they will open their Christmas Eve pajama package which my daughter's fiance very graciously participated in for the first time last year! They will all open pajamas and wear them to bed on Christmas Eve! We have been doing this for years!! It's a family tradition!

Linking up at:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pumpkin Bread Recipe--Oldie but Goodie

Yum, still warm and lots of walnuts!

Pumpkin Bread is a fall favorite in this household. My kids grew used to and looked forward to me making it every fall and each year I made it earlier and earlier. They loved taking it to school for snack or lunch and it easily can be made into muffins or squares. It can also be frozen for use later on.

This recipe does not call for cloves as the spicy, pumpkin bread recipe in a former post of mine does but it can be added if you prefer. I actually had to call my mother to get the recipe because my copy has gone missing for a while and I have not been able to locate it. I have resorted to using the spicy pumpkin bread recipe that I posted earlier which is also delicious. Today, though I wanted the old, tried and true oldie but goodie recipe for the Thanksgiving holiday!

Now that all three of my children are off in different directions, two of them have already asked (with the approaching holiday) "are you making pumpkin bread?"

It's in the oven as I write this post and boy does it ever smell wonderful in here!

This recipe makes 3 loaves, but today I divided the batter into a loaf pan, a round tube cake pan and the small amount that was leftover I poured into an oval baking dish. It only took about 25 minutes or so to bake: (That one's for me!) The loaf and the round tube pan will take close to an hour.

As soon as I got off the phone with my mother, I jotted down the recipe in the book she gave me that contains some old, family recipes. (but honestly I just throw all the ingredients together in a bowl starting with the wet ones first--it's that easy!)



Directions: Pardon the sloppy handwriting. As I mentioned I skip the directions and dump everything in a bowl and mix well! Perfect every time!!!

The recipe yields 3 loaves or.....

Then cool......

I love to look at baked goods.....probably better for me than eating them!

Except after I look at them, I like to eat them.....

I love the plumpness of this round loaf. It will cut into nice wedges. A little more festive for Thanksgiving!

We love walnuts! Luckily there are no nut allergies in this family! 

If you are looking for a delicious, moist pumpkin bread recipe that is easy to whip up, this one will not let you down. Your friends and family will love it. Make a loaf for yourself, toss one in the freezer and give the third one to a friend or neighbor!

Now I am heading out to do some grocery shopping so I can do some more baking. I love holiday baking marathons! Till next time.....

Linking up with:

Coastal Charm's Nifty Thrifty Tuesday No. 189 Please click here to check it out!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Seeing Red and Loving It!

My husband ripped down the wallpaper a couple of weeks ago in my kitchen. The walls had been in a state of needing a makeover for a while. I just could not decide what I wanted to do. For years I have wanted some shade of red paint on the walls but was afraid of ending up with the wrong shade so I avoided it altogether. Red intimidates me and is a bold statement completely out of my color comfort zone.

I began looking at paint chips. I looked at paint chips until I was blue in the face. I went to the Benjamin Moore website and fiddled with their "paint a room" application and studied their colors some more. A friend of mine (who is more of an artist than she admits to be) helped me out and coincidentally was at the paint store when I arrived to buy the paint. I went in to the store with a color in mind and ended up buying a totally different shade. I settled on Parisian Red.

This is the closest photo I got to a "before" photo. Completely forgot to take one with the wallpaper still on the walls. As you can see, the ladder has been through many wall paintings (accidents to be exact) and now it sports Parisian Red as well......

This is the primer on the wall. The paint tech at the store accidentally tinted the primer. It looks more orangey red in this photo than it actually is.

This is the second coat. I am starting to warm up to this shade of paint and glad that I took one giant step out of my color comfort zone!

One wall done!

Loving the red!

The wall on the other side of the room is all painted too. My husband painted that wall today. 

We have ordered shades (which will hide the ugly window) My husband now wishes he had replaced the window before he painted but I say that's a project for warmer weather and it will wait for next spring or summer. I don't like beginning building projects too close to the holidays. As it stands, my kitchen is totally displaced and cooking was not easy tonight.  I threw together a Shepherd's Pie because it can be thrown together!

I am shopping for curtains and a new pot rack. I also need a small cupboard to replace the little rack I have next to the kitchen table.

Tomorrow my husband will touch up any weak spots in the paint (he noticed a couple tonight) and then I will put my kitchen back in order. Once my shades and curtains are up, I will put some updated photos on my blog.

For the record, red does not make my small kitchen seem smaller or too dark. I really thought it would. It's a very warm, cozy color and I love it!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Apple Cake Among Other Things

One can only flaunt an easy-to-bake apple cake recipe in front of me for so long before I bite...... and bite I did.

A one-bowl apple cake recipe has been making the rounds on Facebook being shared between my friends and friends of friends.... This morning I decided to bake one while my husband was teaching his early class.

(should have poured the batter into 2 round pans)

As promised, it went together easily, using only one bowl but then things went awry. I did not read the last few directions and I baked the cake in a tube pan. It should have been baked in a 9x13 pan or (2) 8X8's. When I sliced into the cake and saw cake batter oozing out, I realized I should have paid better attention to the directions and was instantly reminded of an experience I had in elementary school. I could almost hear my kindergarten teacher shriek at me, "YOU DID NOT FOLLOW DIRECTIONS!"

Yes, my kindergarten teacher hollered at me.  One day (many years ago) she told us to get out our crayons (HOW I LOVED THOSE CHUNKY CRAYONS!!!!)  while she passed out a mimeographed (remember that term???) paper to the class which had the outline of a chimpanzee on it. She clearly said to color the monkey brown. So I colored my monkey brown as directed, but then dressed him in a very nice, multi-colored plaid vest. Then I colored in some knickers. I was so proud of the coloring job I had done! He was one smartly dressed chimpanzee!

We handed them in and my teacher started to look through the pile of papers. When she got to my paper she pulled it out of the pile and tore into me in front of the entire class as though I had committed the crime of the century. She called my name and held up my paper and screamed at me that I did not follow her directions. I sobbed with my head on my desk, and several minutes later, still sobbing, the very sweet, little boy next to me whispered, "I really like your monkey." I think he felt really sorry for me. My kindergarten teacher could have used a lesson in compassion from this 5 year old boy. 

Anyways, I didn't follow directions yet again, and my apple cake was not baked through so I put it back in the oven to try and salvage it. It is edible but not terribly "photogenic" so I will spare you the photos!

Moving on, I recently ordered lots of Creative Twist to begin making some angels for Christmas. The holidays will be here before we know it and I have a lot of gifts and ornaments to make! 

You may recall these angels from a Christmas post last year:

I made these angels many years ago and they have held up very well. The hangers are made from craft wire that is curled. (I wrapped it around a pencil to get the curled effect.) This time around I will use a heavier craft wire. I also have some ideas to "freshen" their design up a bit and can't wait to get started. I need to make a trip to Joanne's to pick up a few more supplies. I will post as soon as I complete a few.

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."