Monday, February 28, 2011

1+1=2 sometimes

What do you get when you add a baby
And a dog water dish?

A swimming party!

I think every grandma should let their grandbabies play in the dogs water dish.
That is just what thoughtful grandmas do.
Grandmas are busy making cookies in the kitchen and the babies get to entertain themselves.

Then the grandma calls for the mother of the child to get her camera and come quickly.

They shoot candid photos and video, and crack up laughing every second!

Then the soaking wet baby gets to have a bath and dry clothes.

The cookies are baked and grandma rocks the clean baby.......

Life Doesn't Get Much Better Than This!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Nails, or Poor Nails, or No Nails? That Is The Question.

Last July I started growing out or rather "off" my acrylic nails.  It wasn't all that hard.  But it wasn't all the pretty either. 

That was when I was boxing my belongings and making a trek up north.  I certainly didn't have time to mess with such ferilious things at that time.  I had so much more on my "Where are my car keys?" Or things like  "Has anyone seen my shoes?"  You know what I mean.

I knew where the Christmas boxes were, I knew where my Kitchenaid was.  I knew I had discovered I have two identical wheat grinders, and I knew I didn't know why!

I had realized I was a pack rat, but everything was labled and organized.  Especially my 6 totes of old fabric and wool suit coats.

I am digressing....this is about my nails.

So, my goal was to have my own fingernails, painted and pretty by Christmas.  And they were!  I did it!

Today, however, I looked at my hands for the first time in weeks.  I am shocked, and wonder what happened. 

I have a vague memory of breaking a nail last week.  I remember my daughter saying, "when one breaks they all will."  I think she is psychic.  How did she know?  She predicted it, and it happened.  I think I will call Oprah and tell her about this magic power my daughter has and demand that she be flown to  Chicago and booked to be on The Oprah Show as soon as possible.

My endless nervous picking at them may have something to do with it.  But that would mean taking credibility away from my daughter if I said that, so I know that isn't the reason.

The lack of lotion on my hands, especially the past few days, could be some influence on the state of my nails, but NO, that would mean taking credibility away from my daughters prediction, so that isn't it.

The fact I have lived on fritos and bean dip, with a little cheese and a bottle of water the last few days, would indicate a poor diet.  Diet may have something to do with the breaking and picking of nails on 8 fingers and 2 thumbs.  I will allow that to be a credible possibility, but I am not putting all that reasoning to be a conclusion to this recent condition.

I know you are waiting for a photo of the condition of my incredibly sad fingernails.  Well, it aint gonn'a happen.  I don't have a camera.

Can you imagine...I left home without my camera!  I hope I will have it with me in a day or two.  So, in the meantime, please keep a visual of how incredibly disappointed I am since I broke that first nail last week.

That is all for now.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Jack Frost Came To Visit!

On early mornings, when the sun is shinning, and the air is crisp, we see some spectacular sights!

Last fall I planted some Aspen on the south side of my house.  I want to look out the window and see them year round.....this is what they look like in winter.  The night air creates the most beautiful artwork.  This is a small branch on one of the trees.

On cold winter days like this I think of the quote from Christopher Robbins, when he talked to Winnie the Pooh.  It goes like this:

“If ever there is a tomorrow when we're not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart -- I'll always be with you.”

I sometimes think of the people who settled in this area many years ago.   They must have been very brave to live here in the winter without a home as warm as mine.  They surely said things like this to each other.  They must have been so cold.  They would have had trees to cut down and logs to prepare to make their homes.  They built barns and sheds and took care of their animals in subzero temperatures.

The water in the creeks and canals would have been frozen and they would need to break the ice to get water for their homes and animals.  Those early settlers would not have had indoor plumbing and would be going outside and getting water for nearly every thing.  For cooking and doing dishes.  To do the laundry.  And they would have out houses for their bathrooms.

So, as I find great beauty in Jack Frost and his handiwork I never forget what it must have been at one time for someone else. No matter how many times the talented Jack Frost shows me his handiwork, I marvel at it.  Each snow flake, each ice crystal, each winter morning brings me such delight in seeing the art work.

A couple of days ago, my DH made the comment "I sure am glad I don't have 16 cows to milk tonight".

He would have been about 8 years old at the time he did that.  They didn't have the modern milkers that the farmers use today.  Back then, he had his "two little hands" and I shutter to think of him doing that.  I know that he wouldn't have had a warm coat, or good gloves.  Probably not even good shoes, let alone warm boots.  How did that little boy do it?  He was braver than he thought he believed he was, he was smarter than he thought he was, and he was stronger than he seemed.  How I love that little boy, who grew to the man I know today.

But, because of the doing of it, it made him into the man he is today.  He is a hard worker.  He doesn't shun work.  He doesn't procrastinate when he has work to do, even if it means going outside and being in the cold.  He has grown into a dedicated, wonderful, hard worker.

On days like today, when it is -11 degrees outside, but with the windchill factor it feels like -22 I am thankful we don't have even 1 cow to milk.  I am thankful I have 3 indoor bathrooms to chose from.  I am thankful I can turn on a water faucet and have hot water immediately.  I am so grateful for all the luxuries I enjoy and I don't take them for granted.

So, as soon as I finish here, I am going to get a drink of water from the faucet, make me some lunch, and eat it by the fire....the fire that I only have to flip a switch to start.....and sit down and relax and feast my eyes on the handiwork of Jack Frost,  all the while holding hands with the man I love with all my heart, my DH!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

English Muffins; Homemade

My friend Carol, who lives in Oregon, requested the recipe for my homemade English Muffins.  So, I thought today was as good a time as any to give you the how to's.  Enjoy it Carol! And thanks for reading my blog.  Leave me a comment once in a while so I will know you were here.  :)

Let me state, they are so so so sOOOOO good!  You will be hard pressed to only eat one.  Especially if you have fresh Honey from my niece, Ashley.  Or home made jam....or butter......

The recipe made 16 the first time I made them, but sometimes I get 18.  I guess it is because I roll the dough a little thinner.  I have to admit, I like the thick ones.  They are sOOOO good.  Did I tell you that?

Ok, without further delay:

The cast of characters are flour, honey, corn meal, salt, milk, butter and yeast. 
For yeast I like the Saf-Instant, because you don't need to  "proof" it, but you can use whatever you have on the fast acting yeast, because the recipe also calls for 1 cup of warm water to dissolve the yeast in but I don't use that kind, but just use what you have.  It will work.

Pour the milk into a sauce pan................

Add 3 Tbs. butter to the milk in the sauce pan..............

Add the honey and the salt to the milk mixture.
I don't know how I did it, but I deleted the honey picture, so you are just going to have to trust me that I added it.  Look closely, I have proof.

Just heat this milk mixture until the butter melts. 
Stir to keep the milk from will, you have to trust me on that one, too.

I prefer wooden spoons to do most everything.  I don't like the sound of a metal spoon in my pans, yuck!
The wooden spoon just does it better.  That is my opinion...and I am sticking to it.  But do what you want.

When the butter has melted and the milk is scalded, I like to get it cooled down quickly, so I put it in my sink of cold water.  Stir it just a minute or two, not longer, and it is ready to use.

In a bowl measure 3 cups of flour and add the yeast.  If you want to play in the flour and make a face you can do that, but it not necessary.

At this point if you have plain active yeast, dissolve it in 1 cup warm water.  This step should have been done sooner as it will have to dissolve and do it's "proofing" thing.

Add the 1 cup hot water to the flour and yeast.

Add the cooled milk mixture.

Stir until the dough is smooth and not lumpy. 
Again, my tool of choice is the wooden spoon.  It has longer handles and is easy to use.
Stir until it is mixed well.

Add the remaining flour....I usually use about 1 1/2 cups more flour. 
The recipe calls for a total of more, but just see how your flour acts.
A total of 4 1/2 is enough sometimes.

Mix the dough until it is well mixed.

Pour it out onto a floured surface.

Knead the dough by hand for 3 to 4 minutes.  Just long enough to get the dough smooth.

Now, let the dough "rest" for 5 minutes.

The dough needs this time so let it have it.  Let the dough "rest".

While the dough is "resting" you still have work to do, so don't go and sit down.

Now is the time to line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or wax paper. Sprinkle it with the cornmeal. The cornmeal is what gives the English Muffin the crumble on the finished product. Don't skip this part. It is what makes it authentic.  Just use your hand and sprinkle until you think that is enough.  I think this is enough.

If you still have a few minutes start cleaning up your kitchen.
Wash the pan that heated the milk.  It wants to be clean and back in the cupboard with it's friends.
Put away some of the stuff you are done with.

Get out a mason jar with a wide mouth.
This is what I use to cut my muffins.  I don't have a glass large enough on the top and the jar works!
Get out your rolling pin.

Roll the dough out in a round.
Make it about 1/2 inch thick.
The thickness is something you may want to adjust depending on you like of a thick or thin muffin.

Cut the dough with the mason jar, or cookie cutter, or whatever...

Place the muffins on the cornmeal laden cookie sheet, and gather up the extra dough, roll it out and repeat the process until all the dough is on a cookie sheet.

Let the muffins raise for about 30 to 40 minutes.

We are having winter here in Idaho, still, so I heated the oven slightly and placed the cookie sheet inside to help them raise.  Be sure to cover the muffins with a clean dish towel so they won't dry out.

If it is warm where you live, let them raise on the counter top.

When they look like you want them to look, it is time to fry them, in a clean, dry skillet.
Don't add oil or Pam or anything.  Just a dry skillet.

Cook them on low about 7 minutes and check them.  They might need 10 minutes before turning to brown the other side.  About 7 minutes on each side. Just depends on your stove and how much heat.
7 minutes if they are thin, 10 minutes if they are thick.

While the second side is browning get out the jam, butter, honey or whatever. 
Call you kids to come and see what you have done.

To cut open a fresh, warm Homemade English Muffin I suggest using a fork and piercing the edges towards the middle and then pull the muffin apart.  To cut it isn't very squishes the muffin too much.

They are great toasted, buttered and doctored up, and shovel 'em in 'yer mouth.

I didn't take a picture of the muffins plated.  Are you kidding, you expected that!  Really!
I wanted to eat one and then the family joined me, and , well, you know.... I forgot to.

But trust me.  These are easy.  They are not difficult.  You don't have to use a mixer or Bosch or anything.  The clean up is easy....and they are a crowd pleaser.

These freeze very well.  Then, when you want a treat just get them out and enjoy.

I like to toast the muffin, put a fried egg on it, some cheese and a slice of Canadian Bacon.  Wha-La!  A special breakfast.  A breakfast that company would enjoy, or your husband, or kids...or yourself.

Happy eating!!!

Here's the recipe:

English Muffins, homemade

• 1 cup Milk
• 3 Tablespoons Butter
• 2 Tablespoons Honey
• 1 cup Warm Water (used to dissolve yeast if needed, or just add to flour if saf-instant is used)
• ¼ ounces, weight Yeast (about 1 teaspoon)  saf-instant or active dry yeast
• ¼ cups Cornmeal
• 5-½ cups Flour
• 1 teaspoon Salt

Preparation Instructions

Combine milk, butter,salt and honey in a saucepan over medium heat. Warm until butter starts to melt, then whisk briefly. Remove pan from heat and allow liquid to cool to lukewarm.

Pour water into a mixing bowl and sprinkle with yeast. Stir gently with a fork. Set bowl aside for 10 minutes, or until yeast has dissolved.

Line baking sheets with waxed paper or parchment paper and sprinkle with a generous amount of cornmeal.

Pour cooled milk mixture into yeast mixture and gently stir until well blended. Add 3 cups flour and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth. Beat in remaining flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Scrape the dough onto a floured surface and dust with flour. Flour hands and knead dough for 3-4 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes.

Roll out dough with rolling pin to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut the dough into circles (a tumbler or mason jar does well). Transfer muffins to prepared baking sheets and sprinkle with cornmeal. Cover with a dry, lightweight towel and let rise until doubled in height, 35-45 minutes.

When muffins have risen, heat a skillet over medium heat. Carefully lift muffins from the cookie sheet and place in the ungreased skillet. Cook about 10 minutes on each side, using a spatula to flip them. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before splitting (with a fork) and toasting them.

That is all there is!  I hope you enjoy them.
They are easy and soOOOO good!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Magazine Inspiration from Local Bookstore

I recently spent a little time in a local book store.  Barnes and Noble.  It is nationwide I am sure.

It is one of my favorite places on earth.
You can get a hot drink, find a magazine, and get lost, even though you are surrounded by people.

I like to look at the magazines I can't afford to buy.
I like to look at the magazines that have craft ideas of fun things to make.
I like to wish I had a place to put all the fun craft ideas I see.

Here are a few I found in a Stampington Magazine.
I can't remember which one it was, though.
I hope the artists who made this stuff will forgive me for sharing their ideas.

These are so whimsical and fun.
I can see them as Halloween decorations. "Black Crows and Ravens".
Change the colors and you have wedding decorations.  "Love Birds".
Change the rusty wings to lace.....

The ideas are endless.

Then I saw these.....and I cracked up!

If the noses/beaks were shorter, and you alter the shape of the top of the head they could be an Owl.

They could be a bright colored and theme paper and be darling place cards for parties and gatherings.
They Could be seasonal, as well.
How about Valentines?  "Owl always love you!"

My disclaimer for stealing these pictures out of the magazines is:  Go to Barnes and Noble.  Buy a hot drink.  Look for any magazine that is published by Stampington and Co.  Browse until your butt is tired and it is time to go home and fix dinner.  Buying the magazine is highly suggested by this author, but the choice is yours.

Follow your conscience.

Friday, February 4, 2011

My Crazy Quilt

I truly love the feel of pulling thread through fabric.  Hand stitching just does it for me.  It always has.

As a young girl I embroidered pillow cases for my "hope chest".  A lady who lived in our little town of Ucon, Idaho, crocheted borders around all the edges.  She matched the crochet thread to the embroidery I had done.  I loved working on those pillow cases.  I still have them....some day I will show you those.

When I got married my Great Grandmother gave me a set of dish towels.  The are embroidered.  The best part of the story is that my Grandmother Walters was the one who embroidered them.  She gave them to her mother for a gift.  Then, Great Grandmother Johnson gave them to me as a wedding present.  She included a short note on a scrap of paper and pinned it to the dish towels with a straight pin.  I still have that note and the dish towels.  I won't use them.  They are flour sack fabric, and make the best dish towels.  But, I just can't make myself use them.  I appreciate the work that my Grandmother did when she made them.  I love that they were given twice, and someday will be given again to one of my daughters.  They are priceless!

Anyway....All my girls do hand stitching as well.  I am so glad they enjoy it.  We all have tea towels that we have made.  Some have girls with big bonnets, some have French Chefs, some have words or flowers.  But each one is a work of art.

So, now you have the back ground of my love of hand stitching.  I showed you the crazy quilt from Tennessee....well................

Drum Roll, Please..........................

Get is mine,

Some stitches are plain and easy, some are a bit more labor intensive.  But, when the thread is changed up they all look pretty dang good (if I do say so myself).

The fabrics are a variety of many sources.  Goodwill is my favorite store.  Men's suit coats are great!  I have a "stash" of fabrics to turn to when I need a little more color and texture.

You see that little piece of lace in the bottom left?  Well, a few years ago my "Craft Club" made tiny white purses out of men's ties.  We used white ties and embellished them with fancy lace.  This little piece of lace is from those projects  (I rarely throw anything away, if it has a good memory attached, and this lace does).

I don't know if I will ever use this "Crazy Quilt" for anything, except display it!

I might have it framed in an archival safe shadow box that will be 4 feet by 5 feet......What a wall hanging and conversation piece that would make!

In the meantime, I will be sewing during the Super Bowl and many hours after that.......
I will have many needles threaded and ready to go, and some needles that will be threaded as needed.

I will continue to nurse my tender finger tips, which have a very thin layer of epidermis these days.

And all the while I will smile!

I am enjoying the creative side of this project and the challenge to learn many new stitches.

So, if you come to my house, be careful where you sit down......Don't sit in "my" chair.  I need to be next to the window for the daylight and the lamp in the evening.  Otherwise, come and join me because I need some conversation other than the Television!  See you soon.

Crazy Quilt

A few years ago DH and I visited  Knoxville, Tennessee.  I fell in love with all the antique buildings and trees...and ...this list could be very long.

To make a long story short, we went to a place that was a recreation of "an earlier time".  It was amazing.  I saw so many beautiful things....but one thing I saw that has stayed with me is the "crazy quilt" that was draped over the end of a bed.  I wanted to jump the rope that was meant to keep people like me from fondling the items in the room.  That quilt SPOKE to me.  It actually screamed to me!

Since then, how I wished I would have taken more pictures of it.  The stitches, the fabrics, the size. 

No, those feet you see are not on the fabric.  That is my feet.  I am taking this picture through glass and that is my reflection.  (Sad isn't it?)  But that is the signature of the lady who made the quilt.  I had terrible lighting and a poor point and shoot camera.  I sure wish I would have had the camera I have now.  Things would look so different, but I am rambling........ Look at the stitching.  Can you sew your name like that?  Me either!

The little tiny pieces of fabric that was used amazes me.  I throw those away.   The tiny stitches...the time!!  Oh, the TIME something like this takes.  And it was made in a day that the dishes weren't being washed by a machine plumbed into the kitchen.  The laundry wasn't scrubbing itself on the scrub board.  The bread didn't come from a grocery store.....  These ladies found time to sit and sew, inspite of all the manual labor they did just to survive. They didn't have hair dressers, or skin cream for wrinkles, or dentists...

..... no wonder they looked like this.  But, boy could they sew and cook.  They were a different stock of people back then.

These ladies didn't have Walmart to shop at, or a Walgreen's for medicine to make them comfortable. 

Back then the food was raised in their gardens and barns.  There was no waste on their land.  No pretty trees, only trees that produced shade for a purpose or food.  The fences were constructed with wood they pretty vinyl or block.  I wonder how they got it all done!

............but the ladies and young girls learned how to sew.  They must have been so proud when they finished something like this. 

I have taught my girls to sew.  I think it is important that those skills aren't lost.  To learn to embroidery, sew, knit, crochet, bottle food, grow gardens, and even weave rugs.  The people who went before me taught me how, and I have passed it on.

So, after visiting Knoxville, Tennessee and seeing the handiwork of the ladies, I vowed to make a Crazy Quilt.  I started collecting wool and textured fabric.  I shopped at the Goodwill and bought men's suit coats made from wool.  I would watch the colors of the tags and buy those that were $1.00.  After getting 6 or 7 varieties of fabric I tore the suit coats apart.  I removed the silk lining (saved for another project someday) and the buttons.  I bought a black velvet dress for $1.00 and have cut it apart.  I have stocked up on embroidery thread in many colors.  I have searched the Internet for stitches that could be used on a crazy quilt.

It took me a few months to collect enough fabric to get a variety of designs and textures to get started.  I don't have any secrets about an easy way to do a crazy quilt.  I have looked at patterns and they didn't appeal to me, they were too "predictable".  I want the random look, not the pattern and squared look.  So, I started to sew.  I learned to pay attention to the bias of the fabric, the fraying of the fabric, and many other little lessons along the way.

I started the quilt when I lived in Arizona.  But with packing and moving and surgeries and working I didn't get much done.  So, when we moved I made sure to pack all the "crazy quilt stuff" in one clearly marked box so when I was ready to work on the crazy quilt I could find it.  The "crazy quilt" has been a labor of love.  It has been therapy of a different kind for me.  While my DH was still in Arizona, I was stitching away in the evenings in Idaho.  Little by little it is growing.  Slowly, but growing.

In the coming few days I will share with you some of the work I have finished....knowing I have much much more to do until it is completed.   This is what I do when I recover from knee surgery, and on cold days, and snowy days, and while we watch movies in the evening, and when I can't sleep, and ................... be continued............................

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Some Nights Cherries, Others Pits

Erma Bombeck was a wonderfully positive person, who made me laugh.  She took ordinary things and made them apply to every woman in America.  She had a sense of humor and shared it with the world.  She was just an ordinary person who did extra-ordinary thinking.

Tonight/this morning I need Erma Bombeck to whisper in my ear and tell me how to look at some things with her humor.  I wonder if she ever wrote about headaches.  I wish I knew, because tonight/this morning I would love to hear her take on a bad headache.

I have often wondered why things seem worse at night.  Babies seem sicker at night. Aches and pains seem worse at night.  Loneliness is worse at night.  Little problems seem bigger at night.  You get the idea. 

I went to bed earlier than usual last night.  I was tired, for no real reason, and I was bored with the movie we were watching, so I went to bed.  My DH had flipped my mattress earlier in the day, and put clean sheets on the bed, and I suppose I just wanted to try it out.  So I did.  I fell asleep fast, which for me is unusual.  I slept soundly until 3:00 am.  That is when my headache woke me up.

I tiptoed to the kitchen and got a few Pita Chips to eat witha big glass of water and 3 Ibuprofen.  Then I tiptoed back to bed.  I tossed and turned for awhile and then dozed off.  Only 30 minutes passed and I was awake again.  That is when I thought about Erma Bombeck.  What would she do at a time like this.........?  I decided it was time to get out of the "bowl of pits" and get into "the bowl of cherries". 

So here I am.  And I am wondering what the heck am I doing?  There aren't any cherries in Idaho in February.  Besides, it is -6 degrees right now so why would there be cherries?  We do have beautiful designs on our storm doors that Jack Frost painted recently...maybe, about the time I went to bed.  I wish I could take a picture of them, but I am not going to as my head hurts and I can't walk. But I have memorized them in my little pea brain.  And trust me, they are beautiful designs.  If you haven't had a relationship with Jack Frost lately, you are missing out on some spectacular designs.  Hollywood designers should try and re-create these designs on a long gown for the Oscars.  The dress would win!  However, Hollywood designers would forget to make the fabric opaque......they have a problem doing sensible things like that.  I bet Erma Bombeck has an opinion like mine.  Opaque is good in clothing, don't you think?

Yesterday I had physical therapy (again).  I was on the treadmill....and I just didn't have any energy.  I hadn't had much all day, but I think someone tied weights on me when I wasn't looking so when I got to the treadmill I wondered how I was going to do it!!

I have a friend who runs.  She is amazing.  She runs early every day..and I read her blog about running.  Some days she doesn't feel "inspired" but she does it anyway.  So, when I was on the treadmill I thought about her.  I visualized her thick long brown hair in a pony tail.  I thought about her iPod and the music she listens to.  I thought about her running past cactus and under street lights.  I imagined running next to her, and how easy the treadmill would seem to her.  Then I made the mistake of looking down at the treadmill panel and saw that I had gone .05 miles.  What?  How?  I had passed cactus and street lights!! 

I wonder now how I had thought all those thoughts, and I thought a huge amount of time had passed and I had only barely begun!  I really thought I had "day dreamed" for about 5 minutes!  It was only about 5 seconds.  How was that possible?  I must confess that I only lasted 10 minutes on the treadmill.  I only went .40 of a mile.  I just didn't have the energy to do it.  I needed my friend with me, talking me through it and helping me lift my feet and put one in front of the other one, and repeat, over and over. 

With a poor showing at physical therapy and a headache, I am going to blame it on the barometric pressure and the clear sky.  Also, the fact that 2/3rds of the country got fresh snow and we didn't.  Yeah, that is the reason.  Some people who want it to snow don't get what they want.  So, instead, they spend hours watching the weather channel and trying to project themselves through space so they can feel the wind and the snow on their face.  When it doesn't work, they go to bed early.  They dream about Erma Bombeck and a skinny girl who runs....and loves her life "in the bowl of cherries" she has.  She is grateful to be loved and warm.  She is so happy to have her 7 month old grandson and his mom visiting her.  (She wants her other 2 kids and their loved ones to be here too, but she has to wait until it warms up outside) 

Waking up in the wee hours of the morning is good for the soul.  It is quiet, and a great time to reflect on all the blessings we have.  Today, I am grateful I went to bed early, so I feel rested.  I am grateful for a headache so I could spend this quiet time counting my blessings.....cherries, below zero temperatures, skinny running friends, good books who influence our lives, and a fire in the fire place.  Yep.  Life is good!  I think I will make a cherry pie today.  Want to come and eat it with me?  You are welcome anytime!

About Me

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happy, in love, getting closer to retirement, love my family, love my Savior.