Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Organizing Can Be Fun... Yes It Can!

Howdy Doo everyone! In yet another attempt at organizing an area of my home I found that I needed something. If you are at all like me then sometimes you find yourself searching online for recipes and new twists on old recipes. When I find what I need I'll print it out and take it home with me to try out. If it's a keeper it gets put into the stack of eight and a half by eleven sheets of paper all containing tried out recipes in my cookbook pantry.

I have known for quite a while that something needed to be done. So I found an old three ring binder at work that I knew was not likely to be used again mostly because I have worked here for over three years and haven't touched it because it had printing on it. So with permission I brought it home and decided to paste pictures of food, tips and recipes from a food magazine that I had lying around. On Sunday I had the ole migraine trying to set in so I got out my project, sat at the table and put it all together.

Modge Podge is a wonderful product that I have always had a lot of fun with. At my table I cut out beautiful pictures and using a paint brush, pasted them all over my new kitchen cookbook. I sprayed a slight layer of finishing glossy spray all over the notebook. This keeps anything from thinking about being sticky from the glue. Now all I have to do is punch holes in my papers containing fabulous recipes and presto... my cookbook pantry is organized! Needless to say it was already in order except for all the stray paper stacked and stuffed in there!

Did I mention a glass of wine goes well with this project?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Now That That's Over

Happy Monday-After-Christmas to you all! If you're like me, you are back at work... thankfully and happily. Saturday evening my thinking cap was seriously screwed on tight and I got to thinking about New Year's stuff. I get a little antsy when a new year is almost here. I like for things to be cleaned out, put away and freshly organized before a new year begins. I feel as if it's bad luck to drag unnecessary things like clutter , dust and dirt into a new year.

Yesterday I found myself cleaning out an re-organizing things like my pantry and spice rack and it all led me to come up with ten things to help you get organized and ready for a new year. Even if you get one of them done I promise you'll feel much better. Don't be afraid to throw away, recycle and/or donate un-needed items. Try and make your New Year as easy as possible.

10 Easy Things To Organize For The New Year

1. Your Tupperware cabinet. If you haven't stored anything in it at some point during the last year... recycle it. Arrange lids in a bin or basket from smallest to largest.

2. Clean out your medicine cabinet. Get rid of old prescriptions and expired cough syrup. Keeping things "just in case" you need them can hurt you if they are old and maybe not even serve their intended purpose anymore. Rubber band band-aids together and seriously.. do you need all those medicine measuring cups?

3. Clean out your area that houses half-used lotions and shampoos that you didn't like. Pour them out and recycle the bottles. No one truly wants to smell like leaves and peppermint. If you're going to use that self-tanner you bought two springs ago I want to see the results!

4. De-clutter your house. Find five items in your home that you really don't need that are just sitting around. Seriously.. do you need those figurines? Donate the items or box them up to sell.

5. Books - look over your already read books and get rid of the ones that you didn't like or are most likely to never read again. Donate the books or find a bookstore that will buy them or take them in on trade for books that you haven't read. Used book stores are wonderful! We have a new one here on the hill if you haven't already been there.

6. Plan now for a spring or summer yard sale. Dedicate an area or box in your storage space or attic and label it "garage sale" or "to donate". Add to this box or area as you de-clutter.

7. Re-arrange your linen closet. This can be as easy as refolding the items there. If not choose towels and sheets that you no longer use and take them out for more space. Place all like items folded neatly together. Donate unwanted towels, sheets and blankets to a local humane shelter. They will be happy to have them.

8. Invest in new bed pillows. I really don't want to get into what can collect in pillows but they can be replaced now a days pretty cheap.

9. Clean out from under the bed. Personally I believe that a good night's sleep comes when there's nothing stored under the bed. If you have to use this space you can get thin boxes to keep your items in.

10. Replace make-up brushes and applicators. You can get a decent new blush brush from Wal-Mart for around $5. Keep in mind that it is recommended (somewhere) that you need to change your mascara every six weeks to prevent eye irritation.

If you have more ideas please feel free to leave a comment. I have only lived in my new home since last March. It is amazing how fast clutter and just stuff can build up. You can outgrow a home pretty fast especially if you don't stay on top of things. Going in to a new year gives me inspiration to not take excess baggage with me. In my world there is no excuse for excessive clutter. Now... go organize! :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Don't Forget The Kippies

Howdy Doo Everybody! I truly hope that Christmas is all a'glow in every one's hearts and in the hearts of those around you. I sure could see it in my hubby this morning when he saw the gifts I stayed up wrapping last night tucked under the tree. His first words were "Dang.. somebody's been to the Wal-Mart!" I then proceeded to have the twelve days of Christmas by Jeff Foxworthy stuck in my head for the next hour. It beats "Walkin round in women's underwear" tho.. thanks Katety. That one is stuck a lot. My blog today is going to be a double whammy. One recipe and one Christmas craft. Let's do the recipe first.

It comes from my Grandmother's recipe book that my sister Mary Evelyn and I put together for our family members last Christmas. Boy that was a chore!

Butterscotch Haystacks

1 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup salted peanuts
2 cups chow mien noodles

Microwave butterscotch chips and peanut butter together on 50% power for 3-5 minutes - until stirs together nice and smooth. Add peanuts and chow mien noodles and blend to coat nicely. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper and allow to cool.
*Note: I make this recipe twice (not doubled). It takes a long time to harden - works best if you put it in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.

And please don't forget the Kippies.. meaning your pets! My pups usually get smoked pig ears and tennis balls for Christmas and for Tommy I make cat nip pillows and he might get a treaty too if he's been good :). Here's how I make the cat nip pillows.

Sew together 2 - 4 inch squares of material like a normal pillow, leaving an opening for stuffing. Insert regular stuffing and add a teaspoon of cat nip that can be homegrown and dried or bought at a pet store for around two bucks. Stitch the opening together and try to get them to the stocking without being followed. My Tommy knew what I was doing when I sat down!

Even if you don't have presents for your pups please remember them over the cold winter days and nights. Make sure to have hay or something warm for them to bed down on while the temperatures are low. If you don't have any straw call me.. I'll find you some and get it to you. Maybe you can even sneak a piece of Christmas ham out to them. Somehow I think my dogs have always known when Christmas was here. Maybe they actually remember me telling them about Jesus when they were little. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Feeding The Masses

WOW have I got a smirk on my face this morning! A smile that I just can't wipe off.. and don't want to! Good morning everybody! Welcome to a very short and exciting work week! Christmas is this week and I'm as happy as a kid on Christmas morning. Not so much for the presents, if I was good enough all year to get any, but more so for spending time with family, a warm home lit with tiny Christmas lights, full bellies and the downhill slide to Spring!!! I've got Spring on the brain all winter long!

I wanted to bring up a fantastic recipe that I have found this year and made Sunday evening. I initially made it for a present for a hard to buy for fella on my Christmas list, but it wound up making enough to put into 14 little bags for the boys here at work. I always like to bring a little something special for work peeps and this recipe is the perfect fit this year!

I have to add the link because I cannot and will not take credit for this recipe but I will pass it on for sure!

My Amish Friend's Caramel Corn


Matter of fact, I think I'll just let you go on and print her copy. The only things I have to add is the use of my sister, the expert popcorn popper! She stepped at just the right time. I cannot remember the last time I popped popcorn and she is an avid, almost daily popcorn popper and eater! This recipe was fun, tastes fantastic and goes a long way!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tis The Season For Giving

Morning All! Here's a thought.. if you are having trouble coming up with a good deed or maybe with something that you can do to help someone out this Christmas listen up. I'm listing a few ideas for you. Please feel free to leave a comment on how you have made someone else's hectic Christmas time a little bit easier or comment with more suggestions.

1. Offer to pick up last minute items for some one elderly that you know.

2. Take a box filled with apples, oranges, tangerines or candy to your office and write "stocking stuffers" on it. Just in case there's someone you work with that's having trouble and can't afford for themselves or their kids. Sit the box where you can't see who takes what.. like in a breakroom or lobby area.

3. Offer to wrap gifts. That's what I have done for the fellas here at work. I know that guys sometimes aren't the best or maybe hate to wrap presents. Last year I bought after Christmas, 75% off boxes and paper so it's truly not costing me much to help them.

4. Offer to help an elderly person fill out their Christmas cards and even take them to the post office for them. Or help a child send Christmas cards to a few of their friends.

5. Donate $15.82 for seven meals or more or less to help feed the homeless in your area. In Nashville you go can right to http://www.nashvillerescuemission.org/page.asp?SID=1&Page=14 and donate online. They also have a wish list on the website of items you can donate.

A little goes a long way when it comes from your heart.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Handmade Christmas Cards

Hello All! Merry Christmas! It's not too late to get Christmas cards in the mail to your most favorite people! Why not save money this year by limiting the number of cards you send out and making the cards yourself? That is what I chose to do and plain as they may be they represent more to me than buying cards. Even your kiddos can help! Here's what I did:

Handmade Christmas Cards

20 pieces of card stock - whatever color you have
20 envelopes to fit whatever size your cards are
1 potato
craft paint - whatever color you have
a paring knife a paper plate
glitter - if you have it

Cut and fold each piece of card stock to fit the envelopes that you have on hand. Slice the potato in half and gently mark whatever shape you choose. Carve around the shape that you marked so that the shape is raised like a stamp. I chose an easy shape... a star. Squirt some craft paint onto a paper plate. Dip the potato shape into the craft paint and stamp it onto the front of your cards. Sprinkle glitter onto the shape while the paint is still wet. Allow the paint to dry and write your greeting on the inside. See there... handmade Christmas cards... ready to mail.

After I made my cards I thought of a meaning. The front of my cards have only one star. The wording "only one star.. that's all it took" has been stuck in my head ever since. It only took one star to lead rich men and poor men on a long journey through the night in search of the same thing...our Savior. Can you imagine doing that today? Hearing the word that the One that was sent to save us all had been born and following just one star all night to see Him for yourself. That this didn't exist before. That there was no hope for our souls. The word of Jesus' birth has been instilled in my life since I was born... the reason we celebrate the holidays every year... all these years. Only one star... that's all it took.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Brandy Cherries

Hiya! Now if you know me... well then you know me! But you will also know that I love to tweak recipes. While I was thumbing through recipes and cookbooks last week I came across a recipe for Chocolate Covered Cherries that looked delish on it's own. It got me to thinking about soaking the cherries in liquor, like some soak in moonshine or whiskey. The only problem in my mind was the clash of whiskey and chocolate. It didn't sound good to me. So I took a little trip to the liquor store and started looking around for something that wouldn't knock you down when you ate it. I wanted the punch to perfectly accent the sweetness.

So with the help of a friendly neighborhood liquor store worker I found what I was looking for... Cherry Brandy. I went home and immediately popped open two jars of cherries, poured out the liquid and filled them with the brandy. Let me tell you, they are lovely on their own because they still taste like cherries, they just have a tiny twang to them... perfect!

So here's the rest of the recipe using brandy soaked cherries or not they are still YUM!

Spiked Chocolate Covered Cherries

30 - cherries with stems, drained (which is 1 small jar)
1 Tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons butter, softened
1 Tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons corn syrup
1 cup powdered sugar
5 squares chocolate candy coating

Combine sugar, butter, corn syrup and powdered sugar in a bowl until it forms dough. I formed a dough ball, wrapped it in plastic wrap and refrigerated for about 30 minutes. Wrap each cherry with about a teaspoon of dough. I patted out the dough using powdered sugar so it wouldn't stick to my hands. Chill on wax paper until firm.

Melt candy coating in microwaveable bowl on low temp, stirring until melted. Dip each cherry into chocolate and place on wax paper to dry. Store in an airtight container.

There are really good! And if you're going to the Stidham's Christmas Party don't take these because I am :) Or maybe we could just have a competition! Have fun!

Good Guide, Good Gift

Hey there! To all you bird watchers out there, I know I'm not the only one, I've got a guide I'd like to recommend. If you're not a bird watcher, maybe you would like to get this as a gift for someone else that may enjoy feeding and/or bird watching.

It is a book by Stan Tekiela who has field guides to birds in different states as well as other books I'm sure. But this one is called "Birds of Tennessee". Since I have owned this guide I haven't ran across a species that I could not identify. The book is filled with accurate descriptions, what seasons to look for which birds, nesting and even special notes about each bird. It has great color pictures of each bird that are actual photos instead of drawings.

You can order one online or any bookstore should have it. Even if you aren't an avid bird watcher it's a nice book to have. I think you'll be surprised at the different kinds of birds that are all right in you own back yard.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Place To Hang Your Cards

Hey Y'all! I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. It sure was a cold one here in Tennessee! Miss Pepper and I took a walk in the woods bird watching yesterday and I got a tad chilled. I did get to see two birds that I haven't seen before. One of them is a winter resident in Tennessee which explains partially why I haven't seen them before. The other is a year-round resident that I just haven't seen. I wish I had brought the types that they were with me today... maybe tomorrow. I do want to share a new section of my blog on the right hand side that is a log of birds spotted at my feeders along with links to a website that will show you what they look like. Just a note, the link will direct you away from my blog.

Now for the topic and craft of the day. A place to hang your Christmas Cards. I made my version a couple of years ago and thought that I had lost it during my move this year. Luckily enough I found it! Here's what you need.

Christmas Card Wreath

45 clothespins
45 medium sized jingle bells
1 wire clothes hanger
1 can green spray paint
pretty ribbon

First lay the clothespins on a few pieces of newspaper in a well ventilated area (like outside). Spray paint one side of all of the clothespins and allow to dry (refer to paint can on drying time). When dry, flip the pins over and spray the opposite side. Be sure to spray the actual sides of the pins during this and allow them to dry. Next unhook the twisted part of the coat hanger and mold wire hanger into a circle. I cut the actual hook part off of mine but you can leave it on. Now alternately thread clothespins and jingle bells onto wire hanger. Twist the closure at the top back together once wreath is complete. Tie a nice bow at the top to hide the closure and hang it anywhere.

I have found this is better for me than taping my Christmas cards up or just laying them around. It makes a nice display. If you want to get a little fancier you could use a different color spray paint. Like maybe red paint with a silver ribbon or white paint with a blue ribbon. I hope you enjoy it if you make one and please let me know if you do or if you have any questions!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's Beginning To Smell A Lot Like Christmas!

Hiya All! Well we are now two days into December and I think some one told the weather to act like it's December! It's cold and rainy today. For the first day of December we had our first big, heavy frost up here on the hill. We have had a couple of light ones but this one put the quietus on some summer plants still trying to survive. I'm glad I remembered to bring my orchid in.

Today I have a continuation of homemade decorations for a kitchen Christmas tree. I should have said on Monday when I started this that one year I didn't have an actual tree in my kitchen so I made these ornaments and hung them on a wreath for my kitchen door. So the smells and cheer were still there although I didn't need many for the wreath.

This is a recipe for cinnamon ornaments. It's cheap, simple and smells deliciously of Christmas time. Although I am not a huge fan of cinnamon scented things like candles and brooms these ornaments aren't too strong once they are made but do put a hint of spice in the air. Here's what you need and what to do:

Cinnamon Ornaments

2 bottles cinnamon (fifty cents each at the dollar store)
1/2 cup applesauce (I worked up to about this amount, start small and get to what you can work with)
cookie cutters
a tad of flour

Mix cinnamon and applesauce together in a bowl. Spoon out onto a lightly floured surface. This can be a little messy on your hands so flour yourself. Roll dough out with a rolling pin to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. At this point you have two options. You can put your shapes onto wax paper and let them dry 24 hours or place them on a parchment paper* lined cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 200 for 20 minutes. Allow them to cool. However you choose to let them dry you need to make a hole for the hanger using a toothpick and going around in a circle before baking or drying. Make it far enough down into the shape so the ornament won't break. I made stars and had a couple of tips break off.

I hope you like them!

*Note: I wouldn't grease the pan. You can try baking them without parchment paper if you don't have it but only try a couple at first. I don't know if they will stick to the pan or not.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Bit Of Understanding

Sometimes, while at work and especially during the holiday seasons, when things are hectic, there are places that you would rather be, try to think of this.

Try to put yourself in to the customer's shoes. They've gotten out of bed with you on their mind, for whatever reason, in my case.. they are cold because their heat has gone out. Maybe it's the call they have been meaning to make and now have to make. Maybe even with the hesitation of financial issues in their minds with "can we afford this now?" or "We cannot afford this but we have to." They may dread making the call just as much as you, with your busy work day, dread answering another call.

Sometimes it can be hard to think of sounding pleasant to the person on the other end of the phone line. Good customer service comes when caring steps in front of repetitiveness. Just because you sound good on the phone doesn't mean that you truly care about their problem, even if it is only having to listen to them for a few minutes.

Think of the questions that have been rolling around in their head all morning or all weekend, just waiting to ask you. Provide a service of listening to their problem and knowing that they trust in you and your company to take care of the needs of themselves and their family. Without them there would be no need for you to work there.

This year, give a gift to each person that you talk to by lending them a listening ear and a caring heart.

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's Finally Here!!!

Let's talk Christmas tree ornaments... please, please, please! I have been waiting since July for Christmas time to arrive and FINALLY!!! IT'S HERE! (I'm capitalizing because I'm shouting) I have been so excited about decorating our new home for the first time although it's really just putting the same stuff up in a new place. But I want it to be special for me and my Mr.

I am the type that enjoys a touch of holiday in each room. This week I want to talk about my kitchen. I have a small, four foot Christmas tree in a corner of my kitchen. Usually I will put items on it such as cookie cutters and kitchen-y items. This year I wanted smells of Christmas and more natural items that would also make the room smell of holiday when you walk into it. Let me tell you, after this past weekend the poor little thing is just full!

The first thing that I thought of to decorate my kitchen tree was fruit. I knew there were a couple of oranges and at least one apple in the refrigerator. When I found those I also found a lemon that I had used some of the zest off of on some asparagus last week. Here's what I did:

I preheated the oven at it's lowest temperature which was 170 degrees. Next I sliced the oranges, apple and lemon cross-wise into pretty thin slices. I took whole cloves and gently pushed them into the fruit and sprinkled the apples with a little cinnamon. I placed them onto a cookie cooling rack and popped them into the oven. You can place them directly onto the oven rack but keep an eye on them because they could fall through. I let them cook for about 40 minutes.

When they cool you can easily poke a hole through the citrus with a toothpick and thread ribbon or twine through them for hanging. It adds a touch of Christmas into the air when you walk into the kitchen. If you try this I am sure you'll enjoy it too!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sweet Goodness and I mean the potatoes!

Hiya Turkeys! Not you of course... or is it? Let's see... I talked about baking, cooking, parades, pecan pie, cranberries, congealed tin can.. what's left? Oh I know. What am I most thankful for this year!

Last night while waiting for the finale of Dancing With the Stars to come on I thought about my blog post for today. I wanted to share one more recipe before Thanksgiving but also touch on what I am thankful for. I started making a list, it seemed to go on and on and on. This year I have been so incredibly blessed with my new husband and home, our fruitful garden this summer, my wonderful family, my time with Sipsey (sniff), my job, there's just so much. I feel like there are people out there that find it hard to think of something to be thankful for and I am thankful that I am not one of those people. That I can see and realize that life gives us so much to appreciate. Sweet, Sweet Life... let's enjoy it while we have it.

Sweet Potatoes

2 big cans of sweet potatoes (I buy the big ones this time of year)
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 good dashes cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain juice from sweet potatoes. Pour sweet potatoes into and bowl and mash. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the marshmallows. Pour into 2 quart casserole dish. Top with marshmallows. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until marshmallows are lightly browned.

You can make a variation to this my omitting marshmallows and adding chopped pecans, cinnamon and brown sugar on top.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What's For Dessert?

Real quick post today folks! Thanksgiving is now 2 days away. I simply can't wait to spend the morning in my kitchen cooking up a storm while listening to the parades on T.V. in the other room and occasionally running in there to check out a float. In all the kitchen fury it takes careful planning and timing to get everything ready to go when it's time to leave and head to my Sister's house.

One of my items to bake that is requested every year by my Father is good ole pecan pie. It is a simple recipe that I cut off of a Karo Syrup bottle years ago. It is probably still on the label printed today but I thought I would share it with you.

Pecan Pie

3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1 cup light or dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup pecans, whole or chopped
1 nine inch pie shell unbaked

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together first five ingredients then add pecans. Pour into pie crust. Place pie on a cookie sheet (in case the pie over flows) in oven. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes.

For a variation to this recipe you can add 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Not Your Ordinary Cranberry Dish

I know it is a holiday staple on most American holiday tables on Thanksgiving, when I think about it there is a certain twinge of a cringe in my shoulders. I think it is a scar from childhood of the infamous, canned-shaped, dark red congealed mound resting on a bed of lettuce that makes me make the face I am making now. The face of... "you can't possibly make me eat that and by the way what is it?!"

I didn't attempt to even eat cranberries until adulthood and to my surprise I loved them. Now I eat them dried and juiced and adore making breads and muffins with them. But the congealed version... still not a fave.

I now wish to pass on my Thanksgiving version that I'm almost certain has replaced the indented, rimmed version that used to grace our table. I have realized that there is a certain twang that a cranberry dish adds to a homemade turkey dinner and I personally enjoy the taste... even if not many others do. Huh.. that's probably what the canned eaters think too!

Cranberry Relish

1 orange
1 bag of cranberries
orange peel from orange
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Dice all up. That's all my recipe says!

I use a mini food processor to do the dicing for me. Chop up the cranberries and peeled orange. Using a lemon zester, scrape off the orange part of the orange peel if that makes sense and add it to the cranberries and oranges. Next add the sugar and pecans. Refrigerate and serve in a pretty bowl. No lettuce bed needed.

It's super easy and is truly better if made the night before. I love this medley so much I could just eat it with a spoon!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Feedin' The Birdies

Hi Y'all and a very good morning too you! Last weekend... not this past one.. the one before, I did a lot of fun stuff I was just too busy at work to blog about it so I'm passing it on this week. For one of my birthday presents this year my dear sweet Mama sent me a subscription to Birds & Blooms magazine. I had a subscription years ago and wound up cancelling for one reason or another but certainly not because I didn't like the magazine. Well I received my first of I think twelve issues and I am once again loving it! I have poured over this issue more than a dozen times.

Last Sunday I decided to try my hand at making my own suet to feed the birds with. I have a couple of bird food recipe books but haven't tried much in them. This issue had several recipes that I was more than willing to give a try. Now you know that I will never pass on a recipe that I haven't tried myself. This recipe is on page 37 of the October/November issue of Birds & Blooms magazine. I'm not one to really go looking for links but I'm sure there is one to the magazine and maybe even this recipe but you'll have to look it up yourself and I hope I don't get in trouble for passing it on. With that said... here is what I did.

Tried and True Suet

2 cups lard
1 cup peanut butter
2 cups cornmeal

Melt lard and peanut butter in a sauce pan and add cornmeal. Pour into a 9x13 inch cake pan and put into the freezer. I also added 1/4 cup birdseed and 1/4 cup crushed cereal that had been opened for a little too long in my opinion but the birds don't care. Add your extras such as raisins, crackers crumbs, crushed cereal, nuts or oatmeal before pouring into pan. Now if you finish reading this you will find out what to do next.

I have to tell on myself. After I made this suet and put it into the freezer I got to reading other recipes. Almost all of them had something to say about lining the pan which I did not do. I just rolled my eyes. Before this I had poured a small amount into a little bowl and put it into the refrigerator because I was just so excited. Well it stuck.. big time. Needless to say I waited four days, dreading the event of digging my suet out of my cake pan. Now I'm not certain to say that it was because I used a metal cake pan but this may just be the cause. I retrieved my suet on Thursday and to my delight if I had turned the pan over it would have fallen right out! What a relief! I cut the frozen suet into six squares, stored five of them in separate sandwich freezer bags and put one right outside into my suet feeder cage.

So far so good the birds seem to love it. It may just be the time of year, but it has lasted for about five days now. I estimate using one a week until winter gets here and then we'll see. There is another recipe that I intend on trying once I've gotten up enough leftover bacon fat so I'll report back when I try it. It will eliminate buying lard. And Hey if you want me to make you some I surely will let you buy some! Making it sure beats buying it especially when you can get rid of some of the older things in your pantry. The enjoyment of watching the birds slowly devour my product just tickles me too.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Indoor Plant Love

Good afternoon all! I would like to talk about indoor plant care for a minute and pass on a tip or two.
Please let me introduce Lola. Lola is my 16 year old Peace Lily or a more proper name is Spathiphyllum 'Lynise'. I don't usually name my house plants but she is pretty special. She has been repotted into bigger pots about 6 times. I have transplanted her sproutlings and watched her bloom and have enjoyed having her around.

I have several other indoor plants and some that I keep outside during the summer and inside during the winter. Every couple of months I will bring each one to the kitchen sink for grooming. I remove and clean the water catcher from underneath the pot, trim dead leaves and give them a really soaking bath. By bath I just mean that I will saturate the dirt until it pours out of the bottom. I sit the plant in the dish drainer to let all of the excess water drain out while I do all the necessary grooming. All in all the process for each plant only takes a few minutes.

Each time I groom my plants it includes a light dusting of their leaves. Dust, dust mites and allergens land and form on the leaves and stems of your plants just like on furniture but is often overlooked. When I soak my plants I simply take a moist paper towel and gently wipe each leaf off and down them stems.

Outside of my grooming ritual that I believe makes my plants very happy I water them about once a week. Now for the "tip or two" I mentioned.

1. I have found that my indoor plants tend to dry out quicker during the winter months when the air is dryer from indoor heating systems. Check your plants more often to made sure the soil isn't too dry.

2. Place mulch on top of the soil in the pot to help hold moisture in the soil.

3. Trim brown or discolored leaves from the plants. I mean they're dead anyway... get them out of there! Also don't be afraid to trim plants that tend to vine wildly. It won't hurt the rest of the plant to keep it well groomed.

4. If you own this particular type of plant then you know that after the white bloom opens and you can see the inside cone soon after it will polenate and a white dust will sprinkle the other leaves or whatever else the bloom is above. You can keep this sprinkling from occurring by cutting out the cone of the flower. I know this is part of the beauty of the plant but I dislike the dust.

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

A Child-Like Heart

Good morning viewers! This past weekend goes in the good book of weekends. I helped out at the turkey shoot, hung laundry on the line Saturday and Sunday, hung out with friends, baked and cooked but my favorite was what my Mr. did for me.

Yesterday I woke up talking about a rope swing. After breakfast Shaun headed out to his shop and I thought he was just going out to work. I walked out there and low and behold he was cutting a seat for my new swing. We walked around and finally picked out a good tree, which was not the one I had intended because the branch didn't go out far enough. After several attempts at throwing the rope over the branch the rope swing was tied up and secure enough for the maiden voyage. I took a turn and my Mr. took a turn (I took pictures of him but was told not to put them on ebay... or mypage). I swung for a little bit and then went back to my Sunday doings.
Later on I went back out by myself. The swinging was wonderful. The breeze felt perfectly cool and the sky in front of my feet felt touchable. I have always loved to swing but this time it made me feel like I was too old to be doing this. What is inside of me that made me want this swing in the first place? There aren't any children here to use it. I caught Shaun watching me and thought.. what is he thinking? Does he think I'm too old for this too? I got off the swing and went back inside.

After Shaun left to go hunting I went back out to the swing and as the sun went down my thoughts were settling down. It's OK to let your inner child out. If you keep it inside and never let your actions show that your youth is still in there it will get lost. It feels good to the soul to jump, run, swim, scream, laugh and even swing.

What is your inner child asking for?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Coconut Goodies

Enough already!!! Let's get to the sweet stuff!

If you stop by my house on a Sunday afternoon you are likely to smell something sweet coming from the kitchen. My "Sunday sweet tooth" kicks in about mid day. Sometimes it's just because I want to spend time in my kitchen creating something. Sometimes it is so we'll have something sweet for our lunches during the week. Regardless of the reason for making it, it's generally there.

This past weekend was no exception. Sunday afternoon rolled around and the cravings began. I looked around to see what I had, which was slim pickins in my opinion. I did manage to find three half used bags of coconut in the freezer so my recipe search began. I went to my old faithful, red and white checkered, Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and located an easy recipe for Coconut Macaroons. They turned out so good and tasty that I thought I'd share them with you.

Coconut Macaroons

2 egg whites (by the way you can freeze the yolks for use later)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. In a medium mixing bowl beat egg whites and vanilla with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, about one tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Fold in coconut. Drop mixture by rounded teaspoons onto baking sheets two inches apart. Bake for 20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer cookies onto wire rack to let cool. Makes about 30 cookies.

These cookies are so light and just a tad crunchy around the edges and taste so good. I snuck a sackful into my Mr.'s lunchbox today after he had made his lunch. I think he'll be pleasantly surprised come lunchtime.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fall Gardening

HHEEYY YYOOUU GGUUUUYYYS!!! Anyone remember that from The Electric Company? That was a kid show on public television when I was a child. Did you know that youtube.com has some of the clips from the show? Well they do and for a real flashback you can check it out. I didn't realize until a bit ago that Morgan Freeman, the actor, was on The Electric Company! I have loved his work as an adult but had no idea I watched him as a kid. Neato.

Today I was going through "my favorites" on my flickr page to pick my daily wallpaper and got a little inspiration for keeping my summer plants, well at least some of them. I have had two six-packs of pansies sitting by my planter here at work for a week just waiting for me to plant them. I had petunias and a geranium planted there all summer. Sometimes I just hate to throw out my old plants especially when they still have a bloom or two. I decided that the petunias would go but I would re-pot the geranium and bring it in for the winter. So that's what I did.

There are several plants that will survive inside during the winter months and can be re-potted or put back outside in the spring. Geraniums are one of those. They may not bloom inside but rest assured they will next year when they go back outside. Also they need to be kept watered so they don't dry out with the central heat and dryness of the great indoors.

One other gardening tip. I have a bulb planter (or two) that I bought several years ago... why I have two I have not a clue. They are very handy to use when planting more than just bulbs. It is very easy to separate store bought plants from their six packs and dig a quick hole. I changed out the plants here at work in about 10 minutes. It is a very handy and inexpensive way to plant.

P.S. Don't forget to bring in any plants that you still have outside, inside tonight. I heard on the weather forecast this morning that they are to expect a freeze tonight in Nashville so you know what that means for us on the hill. Even if your plants are covered by a porch it's the temperature that will get them. Plants like aloe vera and tropical varieties won't be the same if left out. Just when my orchid was trying to bloom!

Monday, November 2, 2009

What's For Lunch?

Hello All! I hope everyone had a wonderful, safe and spooky Halloween weekend. I sure have enjoyed the beautiful full moon that was still looming outside my bathroom window this morning. Aside from all the candy that was consumed this weekend... yes by you... I wanted to pass on a healthier lunch that you can try.. minus the candy. It can be prepared ahead of time for at least three lunches for yourself during the work week. This is one that I made up so bear with me while I explain.

Workday Lunch

White Rice
Broccoli (1 bunch, usually 3 heads, washed)
Lemon Pepper Seasoning
Wheat Crackers (or whatever your favorite healthy cracker is)
Half of an Apple Sliced

In 3 microwavable containers, pour in 3 Tablespoons of plain white rice into each container. Next add one head of broccoli to each bowl just using the tops and stems. Add a couple of dashes of lemon pepper seasoning (sometimes I use dill also). Add just a sliver or two of butter (this can be omitted.) Put the lids on the containers and store in the refrigerator.

At lunchtime, at home or work, add enough water to cover the rice and then just a tinch more. Heat on high for a minute and a half with the cover on but not sealed... just laying on top. Let sit for one minute to let the water absorb into the rice. If you have too much water you can drain it off. Have a half of an apple sliced, some wheat crackers, maybe even some sliced cheddar on the crackers and a bottle of water. It's a quick, easy and healthy lunch that I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's Your Tush... Tame It!

Howdy Doo All! Several weeks ago while listening to the Martha Stewart channel on my satellite radio I came across a tip from a guest speaker. A caller asked the pro a question that I have often wondered myself so I piped in and listened good. The caller said that for exercise she walks and sometimes jogs but still cannot "tame her tush" which seems to be her problem area in her eyes. The speaker told her to get a set of five pound ankle weights and begin with simple leg lifts and knee lifts. I perked up and thought.. I can do that.. or at least try!

I'm not the type person to go to the gym or join an aerobics class. I like to do things on my own time and preferably where no one else can watch! I maintain a healthy weight by walking and running almost every day but like most bodies when you hit a certain age things just "move" when you don't want them to and you either watch it jiggle or do something about it. My daily walk while good for me physically was not "taming my tush" either.

For my birthday I asked my Mr. to check in on getting me a pair of ankle weights. When my birthday arrived on the 18th he delivered! I did get ankle weights. They are 2 1/2 pounds for each ankle which is really probably better to begin with. The Monday following my birthday and right after my walk I tried them out. I didn't have a routine to go by so I made up my own. To my surprise it was simple and took hardly no time and I was done. The next day I felt a mild soreness in muscles that I didn't know I had. I have been using the ankle weights for only 10 days now and I am shocked at the results that I have so far. Now I am sure that the combination of walking and using the weights help each other out but I highly recommend giving either or both of them a good try. Right way or wrong way, here's what I am doing each evening:

Standing at my kitchen counter (reading a magazine or cooking) I do a 10 count leg lift, with each leg, out to the side with my leg straight. Then 10 count knee lift, with each leg, just lifting my foot behind me. If I'm not finished reading then I'll do this twice.

Next, since I have hardwood floors, I grab a couch pillow, get down on all fours with my knees on the pillow and lift each knee to the side in an L shape. I call this a knee lift. This exercise burns a little so surely it's helping. After a 10 count for each leg, I add a 10 count of lifting my foot into the air behind me for each leg. Make sure no one is standing behind you on this one!

Lastly, I lay on my back with the pillow under my tush and perform the old faithful bicycle in the air trick for 20 count. The entire routine takes... well you can count.

You can get a decent set of ankle weights for under $20.00. Give it a try and after a couple of weeks let me know what you think! If nothing else... Jane Fonda would be proud!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Planting For Spring

Hello everyone! Thanks for visiting! I have to say that although the fall colors are beautiful and there is nothing like the quiet peacefulness of a winter's snow, I am a spring girl. Spring is what gets me through the cold winter months with nature in all it's nakedness. A thought of warm days and spring flowers just tickles me.

I always love the first signs of spring. My favorite being the perks of spring bulbs popping up. Yellow daffodils blooming and tulips galore... there's just not much that I like more. (how'd you like that rhyme?) This year I decided to try my hand at planting bulbs in containers. We haven't yet landscaped at Hulsey Manor and the Mr. does fancy using weed killer so I have to be careful of where to plant my lovelies.

Yesterday, while at the do it yourself store I decided to pick up the bulbs that should bloom the earliest which are crocus. Since you only have to plant them about two inches deep I had a better selection of containers at home that I could use. I also bought a package of tulips. They required a much deeper pot since they need six inches of growing room.

Planting bulbs in containers is easy. Just make sure the object you use has drain holes because the bulbs will rot if left too wet. I say "object" because I've been known to plant in some strange things. As long as it's got a drain hole... it's a flower pot in my eyes! Here's what I did:

I picked out what I wanted to plant in, put some rocks in the bottom for better drainage and filled the container with potting soil up to about three inches from the top of the bowl. Next I placed the crocus bulbs where I wanted them and filled almost the rest of the way with soil on top of the bulbs. I always put a layer of mini pine bark mulch (about $2.50 for the big bag at Wal-Mart). It helps to keep the soil moist and provides an extra layer of insulation for the tiny bulbs in this case. Finally I watered them using a little fertilizer mixed in and placed them outside on the porch. Be sure to water them at least once a week if they aren't exposed to natural rain. I truly hope this works and am looking forward to posting pictures of my results in February or March!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pecan Tea Cookies

Hello Friends! Sorry I've been so quiet this month. It is beginning to be a beautiful fall season in Tennessee. All of the colors on the trees are just gorgeous! I had the pleasure of staying home all day yesterday. I cleaned house, made a huge pot of soup and craved shortbread cookies all morning. While I did not make any shortbread cookies I did pull out a different, semi-similar cookie recipe that I thought I would share. Please don't shy away from making these because of the kind of lengthy directions. They really aren't a bother and they are well worth it.

Pecan Tea Cookies

2 sticks butter - softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar (and more for later)
1 3/4 cups pecans (finely chopped)
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Arrange two racks in oven to first (bottom) and third (middle) positions. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.

In a medium bowl combine flour and salt with a whisk.

Using a stand mixer (if you have one, if not a regular mixer will work) whip butter sticks on medium high for 3 minutes. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and whip for 2 minutes on medium high. Add half of the pecans and mix well. Gradually add flour mixing well. Stir in remaining pecans and chocolate chips. Roll by tablespoons full and place on baking sheet one inch apart. I like to give mine a little pat down so they're not so much a ball shape. You can get a lot on each sheet because they don't spread.

Place one baking sheet full of cookies on lower rack in preheated oven and the other on the middle rack. Bake for 25 minutes alternating baking sheets halfway through. I time mine for 12 minutes then switch the sheets and time for 13 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool on pans for 5 minutes. As you remove the cookies, drop into powdered sugar and coat well. Place cookies on cooling rack and let cool completely then drop in powdered sugar again.

Hope you enjoy them!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mmmm Chicken & Dumplings

Chello everyone! I would like to confess that I... peppysis... a.k.a. Laurie, am a lover of Chicken & Dumplings. Whew.. that feels better. Alas I've never felt as if I have mastered any recipe that I have come across for the dish that I love so much. Although my Mr. would beg to differ. He is so sweet to say "Mmm that's the best I've ever tasted!" after every meal or any special dish that I make. I just let the appreciation soak in. Back to the topic... my dumplings have never risen to satisfy my tastes... until yesterday. I finally succumbed to an easier version of the dumpling and I was very pleased with the result.

As much as I would love to claim this recipe as my creation I cannot. However from now on it will be found in my own personal cookbook, in my own personal writing so that my children someday will be able to make this dish and say it taste just like Mom's :) What they don't know won't hurt them.

Yesterday, I was able to compile a small addition of ingredients to my grocery list. I actually wound up only adding around eleven dollars of extras to make up the necessities of this dish. I was really proud. It includes one of those roasted chickens that comes precooked and piping hot from the deli and let me tell you I barely made it home without climbing into my backseat and breaking open the bag of chicken! Yum, it smelled sooo good! My grocery store had them on sale for $4.99. I couldn't believe it. From there it was on! Shaun helped me by tearing the chicken to shreds while I chopped, sauteed and prepared the base for this dish. The entire process actually took about 30 minutes and our supper was on the table.

I was extremely pleased with the taste and FINALLY pleased with the simple dumplings and will probably never try to make them on my own again. Well that's probably not true... I will try it again. But I will from now on have the old faithful just in case. Are you ready for the recipe?

Here's where you can find it. I hope you enjoy it just as much as we did.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Thrifty Ladies

My niece Lacey and I have always enjoyed what we call "Lacey Laurie Days". These are usually Saturdays where we spend the entire day together doing whatever we feel like doing. This past Saturday, since my niece and nephew were spending a few days with us, we decided to go out for the day and thrift our hearts out.

With the help of the internet I compiled a list of thrift stores in Nashville. I called to get hours, verify addresses and to make sure some of them still existed. I got pretty good vibes from a few of the stores just by the person that answered the phone so those were the stores I chose for us to visit.

On Saturday, we got up and got ourselves ready, stopped for a quick biscuit and sweet tea at Mrs. Winners and hit the road. I decided to make our first stop the furthest on the map so that we could work our way back home throughout the day. Luckily our first stop, ThriftSmart, was the best thrift store in both of our opinions. We spend about 2 hours in this store and left there with arms full of goodies.

Our next favorite stop was close to Baptist Hospital called "Ladies of Charity". I was surprised to see the quantity of ladies volunteering at this place! They were everywhere and ever-so helpful to all of the shoppers. This particular place had more "name brand" clothing and was a bit higher priced but it was obviously worth what they were asking. We had no trouble finding items to try on and left there with huge smiles on our faces because we both had a new favorite pair of jeans in hand as we exited!

Our third favorite, I would have to say, was the Southern Thrift Store on Charlotte Pike. Lacey, who is in love with certain t-shirts, found quite a bit here with very good prices. I came away with only a couple of shirts and an enamel serving tray but I was very pleased with the store.

We had a wonderful day and managed to squeeze in lunch at our favorite spot... Baja Burrito! Which is always a good choice!

Here are our top three thrift stores in case you would like to visit them yourself:

ThriftSmart - 4930 Nolensville Rd, Nashville, TN 37211

Ladies of Charity - 2216 State Street, Nashville, TN 37203

Southern Thrift Store - 5010 Charlotte Pike, Nashville, TN 37209

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bell Buckle Craft Fair

Hey Y'all! Mark your calendars! The big Bell Buckle craft fair is coming up next month. Bell Buckle, as we call this craft fair for short, is scheduled for Saturday, October 17th and Sunday, 18th. It is a huge craft fair put on by the town of Bell Buckle in Tennessee which is about an hour and twenty minutes away from our area. It is made up of about 150 booths and vendors set up for The Webb School and around 500 additional vendors are always there set up in yards and throughout the town. There are also local shops and the antique stores.

Bell Buckle, TN is a very small and cozy town located south of Murfreesboro. We have made it tradition in our family and several of us are seen there every year. We generally spend Saturday there looking, buying and eating! It's always a good time as the weather is cool in the morning and nice in the afternoon for a wonderful October day craft fair.

So get those comfortable walking shoes out and your fanny pack! Hope to see you there!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Biscuit A Tasket

Last weekend I found pork tenderloin on sale at the grocery. I never buy tenderloin because I think it's a little pricey but this time I was all in. So yesterday during my daily jog I was thinking of what to make for supper and the tenderloin came to mind. I could have Shaun grill the meat while I made the sides.. inside. When I started hunting for canned biscuits in the refrigerator I came up short. So I pulled out a cookbook all about biscuits called "The Rise Of The Southern Biscuit" by Maryann Byrd that I had purchased after watching the wonderful documentary on an NPT telethon a couple of years ago. I searched through and found a quick and easy recipe. To my dismay the ingredients that I thought were staples in my kitchen were not there for me this time. I didn't have any all-purpose flour.. which I always have and I had no buttermilk... which I never have. I made my own buttermilk by using 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar to a measuring cup and filling the rest of the way to 1 cup with regular milk. You can also use lemon juice instead of vinegar. Alas, I still had my flour problem. I thumbed through and found another recipe using self-rising flour. I threw them together and turned out pretty pleased with my results. It's a quick recipe in a pinch.

Mother's Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cold buttermilk
3 tablespoons of butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix flour and salt together, cut butter into flour using a pastry cutter or fork, add buttermilk and stir in slowly until dough ball forms a soft ball. Kneed dough on lightly floured surface 10 to 15 times. Roll out to a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with a 2 inch cookie cutter and place on greased cookie pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

I brushed them with a little melted butter when they came out of the oven. They had a surprising lift to them and weren't dry and crumbly when we ate them.

The recipe made about 16 biscuits.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Recipe For "Me Time"

Now you tell me... who doesn't need a little me time?  Here's a recipe that I hope you will enjoy for a soothing body bath soak.  It makes enough to last a while but not recommended to use every day. 

Me Time Bath Soak

1/2 cup baking soda
1 cup epsom salt
1/2 cup dry milk
1 cup sea salt
1 envelope powdered drink mix (like Kool Aid) - your favorite flavor recommended

Mix ingredients together and store in a pretty glass container.  Use 2 tablespoons for a quick soak and 4 tablespoons if you actually have 15 minutes or more to soak.  The drink mix is optional but adds a little fun color to your bath and a nice aroma.  I have used lemonade and grape in the past.  Feel free to accompany this Me Time Bath Soak with a cold bottle of water or Kahlua and milk followed by a good book and a restful night's sleep.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Super Duper Summer

Happy Tuesday All! Last night I was scrolling back through a ton of pictures on my digital camera and realized.... "what a wonderful summer it has been!" Since fall is upon us I thought I could get your memory juices flowing and challenge you to think back and name just five wonderful things that happened to you over the summer. Maybe it was a family vacation, something you learned how to do, something you did for yourself or somebody else or maybe just time you spent doing your favorite things.

Here's what I came up with for myself:


  2. I learned how to make cantaloupe and watermelon popsicles.

  3. Got to spend my first summer with my pets and new husband in our new home.

  4. Won 1st place at the county fair.

  5. Started this fabulous blog just for me and you!

As I started my list I realized there are so many more wonderful things that occurred during summer 2009. I love having my flickr account and digital camera so that I can go back and see things that I did and things that caught my eye. We are all so blessed!

Now, if you want to, take a second and leave a comment letting me know what wonderful things you did this summer!

Monday, September 14, 2009

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Howdy doo all! Well it's Monday and after a tough weekend full of sadness at the loss of one of my beloved best friends, Sipsey Maye Alabama Brown, my 11 1/2 year old dog, I've sort of been at a loss for words today. Not wanting to cry I think I'll just post something sweet. So please enjoy this recipe.

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

1 stick butter or margarine
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup powdered cocoa

1/3 cup peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups oats

In a medium saucepan, bring the first four ingredients to a rapid boil and boil for three minutes stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter, vanilla and oats. Stir until combined. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper and allow to cool.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Have A Jog And A Smile

Yesterday while on my semi-daily walk/jog I call exercise I decided to try a breathing technique that I have used for a long time in other ways. I've not trained or been in marathons so I'm not sure if this is something that is taught but it worked for me and should for you too.

It's a simple four-count method. You breathe in deeply through your nose for four counts (which goes along with your steps), hold for four count, exhale through your mouth four count and wait four count. Then do the process over and over again.

This helped me to control my heart rate as well as gave me something to concentrate on besides how far I'd been. I didn't tire as quickly and truthfully was ready to make another lap when I'd gone as far as I normally do. I was even up for some stretch exercises when I got back to the house.

Last year for Christmas I asked for a pedometer which Shaun bought for me and I love! It tells me how many steps I've made, how far I've been, how many calories I've burned and even how long it took. Since I walk our abnormally long driveway plus some it's hard to just know how far I've gone without it. When I used to run at the park I never knew how far I'd been, I only knew how long it took which was still ok just to time myself. But for around eight dollars you can easily calculate your every step.

Exercise is important although I admit I do go through spurts of time without doing so myself. Fall is a good time of the year to get outside and walk with cooler evenings!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Vintage Bed Sheet Goodness

There's nothing like a hot summer day and cool summer sheets. The feel of old sheets that have been washed a trillion times and are so thin you can see daylight through them as you flap them over the bed... it's a comfort you can't get anywhere else but home.

There are some yard sales that I just can't pass up digging through that box of old sheets. Looking for bright colors, flowers from the seventies and stripes that they just don't make anymore. Sometimes they are in need of a new hem on the pillowcase, sometimes they are just perfect.

Mixing and matching different pillow cases to sheets depending on the season is becoming a favorite thing. The softness of vintage linens is like no other.

I usually keep them put away during the winter, cool months and pull out flannel sheets. Good flannel is a wonderful thing. If washed and cared for correctly they can be as soft as a kitten and every bit as warm.

Sleeping comfortably... it's in the sheets.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What To Do With Those Herbs?

Well... I think it's almost official... summer is over.. sniff, sniff. I am looking forward to the feeling of fall and all of the bright colors that will be presented to us. Yesterday I completed a two week long wait on drying some herbs. I had dried some mint and catnip from my friend Katety and some of the lemon herb that I had grown. Unfortunately I can't remember exactly what I bought that was lemon but it has gotten huge over the summer. Anyway, I dried these by attaching a twist tie to each stem and twisting it onto a coat hanger. I made sure they weren't touching each other and I hung the hangers in my laundry room. Yesterday I felt of the herbs and sure enough they were crispy so i got them down and just sort of crunched them up between my fingers, put them each into their own jars and labelled them.

I just can't wait to use the lemon herb on fish. The mint I will use in cooking but also in my herb pouches. The catnip I have already made into a little pillow for Tommy of which he kicked around the house all afternoon yesterday!

I still have sweet basil, chives and dill to do. I am wondering if you dried tomato leaves would they smell as good as they do in the garden? I think it's worth a try! Have a wonderful Tuesday!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Fair Lady

Mama always said I was a winner! Check this out... http://www.robertsoncountyfair.com/2009%20winners/DCC01.htm

I am under Lot 08 for Kosher Dill Pickles and Lot 22 for my plum preserves! I entered a lot more than just two things but I am ever-so tickled to have any kind of ribbon!

P.S. This is the recipe that I blogged about in July called "Well Pickle Me Spears".

Mexican Cornbread

Howdy All! I've been a busy gal the last few days and haven't had an inch of time to blog! I helped at the annual Dove Shoot yesterday and, for the third year in a row, made my Mexican Cornbread. It wasn't near as spicy this year because I forgot to pick up one of the ingredients at the grocery. It is super easy and really good so I thought I would share it with you.

My Mexican Cornbread

2 Jiffy cornbread mixes
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1 can chopped green chiles
1/2 jar chopped jalapenos
1 can corn with red and green peppers (Mexican mix)
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven as directed on cornbread box. Combine all ingredients and pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Cook for 20-25 minutes. This is a spicy and colorful cornbread that is just terrific.

(As I was typing the ingredients I realized I left out 2 ingredients yesterday! Oh well... that's what I get for trying to do too many things at once!)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Therapy Pouch

I have a little bean bag that has been bringing me comfort since I had TMJ surgery when I was 19. (I actually have two of them) They are simple rectangle pouches stuffed with beans that can be heated in the microwave for warm therapy or kept in the freezer for an instant cold pack which is where I store mine. When I had TMJ surgery they brought much comfort to my aching jaw joint by heating them for just a minute and resting it against my jaw line. My maxillofacial doctor recommended placing heat instead of cool for comfort. Nowadays I use them more as cold patches fresh from the freezer to reduce puffy eyes and ease headaches. But after all this time they still provide comfort.

I have thought of making some for friends or just to have a new one. They seemed simple enough and turns out they are! I recently cut one of mine open and found the secret ingredient, which I always suspected, was plain ole Great Northern white beans! When I first purchased the pouches they had an herbal scent which has long since worn off. But I decided as I made new ones to add a bit of dried lavender to mine as it aids in relaxing in aromatherapy circles. They are super simple to make as long as you have the right stuff. Here's what I did...

For the inside bean pouch I used scraps of fabric cut into 9"x 9" squares. Take one square and fold it in half. Sew along the bottom and up one side leaving the top open. Turn inside out and pour in about 1 1/2 cups dried Great Northern white beans and 1 teaspoon dried lavender if you wish. Sew along the open end carefully so the beans don't come tumbling out... I pinned mine shut just above the beans. Sew back and forth a couple of times to seal good. Your nice bean pouch is complete! Next I took a scrap of prettier fabric and cut it into a 10"x 10" square. I hemmed the top end and sewed up the bottom and side to form a cover for my pouch. The cover is removable and washable. Place your bean pouch inside and your therapy pouch is totally complete!

I was told when I bought mine to remove the sleeve when you heat it in the microwave. So I always did. Also only heat it for a minute.. any longer and you will burn the contents! I hope you enjoy them! If you can't or don't want to make one yourself please let me know as I may have some for sale on my Etsy sight soon.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Crafty Pringles Cans

Yeah... Pringles! Who doesn't love a good handful of Pringles every now and then. They are decently priced and taste great and in many varieties but don't you just hate to throw that can away? With the thought of Recycle, Reduce, Reuse, can't we find something else to do with them? I say Mod Podge it!!

Tear pictures from your favorite magazines, brush on either watered down white glue or good ole Mod Podge and paste your pictures right to the outside of the can. Be sure and wash it out first and save the lid!
You can use the Pringles can to house pens and pencils, straws, paint brushes, utensils, etc.

You can even use the shorter cans for smaller items like crayons, q-tips, or even organize your junk drawer!

Please comment with more ideas for uses of this easy craft project!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Stuffed Peppers

Happy Tuesday to you!! I have made this recipe for Stuffed Peppers a couple of times recently as we have had an out-pouring of bell peppers in our garden! This recipe also calls for canned tomatoes of which I used fresh since we have a bit of those also from the garden. Hope you enjoy them!

Stuffed Peppers

About 9 Small to Medium Green Bell Peppers or Red (4 to 5 large)

1 lb ground venison, beef or sausage (seasoned to taste)
1 small onion, chopped

1 - 7 oz can diced tomatoes or 5 fresh (peeled and chopped in food processor)
1/3 cup white rice (or whatever kind you have)
1/2 cup water
several leaves fresh basil chopped or 1 tsp dried basil
1 Tbsp Worcestershire
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In large sauce pan, brown meat and onion and drain off fat. Return meat to saucepan and add tomato, rice, water, basil and Worcestershire sauce. Over medium high heat bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Add 1/4 cup cheese and stir.

While mixture cooks, cut tops off of pepper and de-seed. Chop the rest of tops (except stems) and freeze for later use. Blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes.

Fill peppers with meat mixture. (At this point some of the stuffed peppers can be frozen for later use.) Place stuffed peppers in Pam sprayed casserole dish and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Add remaining cheese to tops of peppers and serve.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Soda Cracker Fudge

Howdy Doo!! I haven't tried this recipe yet but I thought I would share it anyways. It came from this fall's issue of Tennessee Home & Farm magazine put out by Farm Bureau Insurance. It has a nice article with it on page 24 so if you receive this publishing don't miss it because it's a cute story to back up this fudge recipe. Here tis:

Soda Cracker Fudge... aka Mystery Crunch

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
5 Tbsp peanut butter
1 - 7 oz jar marshmallow creme
24 saltine crackers, broken into pieces

Mix sugar and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes. Place remaining ingredients in a bowl. Pour ho mixture over them. Place in a buttered pan. Let cool. Cut and enjoy!

Simple and sweet.. just like I like! Let me know how you like it if you try it. I will report back when I make it also.

Have a nice evening!

** UPDATE **
Well I made Soda Cracker Fudge this past weekend. It has so far received rave reviews by all who have tried it. Especially me :) I just ate a small.. OK not so small piece. It's almost addictive but it was so easy to make. I already had all the ingredients except for the marshmallow cream. It literally took about 7 minutes total to make. This one will be made this Christmas for sure!

Operation Nice

Ok, Ok I have a confession to make... I am not always NICE!!! It's not that I have a terrible attitude towards life in general but more often than I like I quickly jump to criticise others and myself for that matter. I have realized this about myself and have really noticed just how "not nice" I can be. I have a habit of saying what's on my mind wether it's good or bad and I know this can hurt people. I don't want to be some grumpy old woman one day that has been in a terrible mood for the last 30 years. I don't necessarily let this behavior show in front of others. Sometimes it's just negative thoughts. I'm tired of it. I know I am the only one who can change this behavior in my mind. I also feel as if I am not the only one guilty of this behavior. It shows almost everywhere you go.. the beauty shop, newspapers, the news, social circles... negativity can find you anywhere you go and eventually corrupt minds.

I like to go back to what my Mother always said, "If you don't have something nice to say then don't say anything at all". I had a very quite evening of getting my hair done this past Tuesday. I usually gossip in there. I told Kimberly why I was so quiet and she laughed and we found something nice to talk about.

Here's a tip I found: If you find yourself thinking poorly about someone, don't worry; you're not a terrible person because we all do this from time to time. However, try to catch yourself doing it, and think of something nice about that person instead. It'll help you look at people more positively, and you'll quickly break the habit of seeing the worst in someone.

I think that's a good place to start.

Random acts of kindness... that's my next goal. http://www.operationnice.com/ has an area where you can download "nice notes", I have printed some and so can you. They can be left anywhere and be used to say Thank You or just to tell someone how nice they look today, maybe without letting them know who told them that.



I can't wait to see what a nice person I turn out to be :)

"Don't give up! Bad habits don't change without much perseverance." I'll keep that in mind!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Secret Weapon

Happy Tuesday all! I'm gonna let you in on a little secret... The Secret Weapon in fact. That's just what I call it. It's a recipe for easy crock pot beef roast and vegetables. It turns into a wonderful supper when simply served with white bread or rolls and macaroni and cheese.

The Secret Weapon

1 good size roast (about six to eight dollars depending on how many you are feeding and what style roast you like)
1 envelope Onion Soup Mix
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
Potatoes, Carrots, Green Beans, Mushrooms, Corn, Onion... whatever vegetables you prefer.

Place the roast in your crock pot. In a small bowl mix together soup mixes. I like to add a half can of water (can being the cream of mushroom soup can). Pour mixture over the roast and let cook on low all day. If you choose to use fresh veggies I would suggest to put them in from the beginning. If you are using canned you can add them an hour before the roast is finished. This roast usually takes at least 7 hours on low for a good sized roast.

Personally I like to use the crock pot when I am at home all day where I can stir whatever I am cooking. If you know your crock pot well enough to leave it while you are gone to work all day I would suggest canned vegetables and add them when you get home and let them cook for an hour in the crock pot to absorb the flavor.

Hope you like it!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Grocery Shopping on a Budget

After being a single gal for - - - ever and having only myself to depend on monetarily I had to come up with a way to grocery shop on a budget. Keeping in mind that I love to cook and make things I really had to gain control of my spending. I allotted myself a certain amount each week. Some weeks it might have only been a little. I had to learn to only buy the necessities or what I called my necessities. However, I still allowed myself to have fun with my list such as buying a small bunch of flowers for my table or a certain loaf of brie. In that respect I simply shopped where I could spoil myself cheaply :).

My tip today for grocery shopping on a budget goes like this...
First figure out exactly how much money you have to spend. Let's say you have $45.00. Create your list of what you need and want at the store this week. Try and shop for "a week's worth" of living. When you have your list together, next to each item write in it's average estimated cost. Such as a half gallon of milk $2.50. Then add up the estimated total. If it is more than your allotted grocery amount either take something off or adjust the price to buying the generic of what you may normally buy. Example instead of buying your normal favorite white bread at $2.60 buy the grocery store brand that costs $1.00.

I have shopped using this method for years. Most of the time it works. The key is sticking to your list. When you get into trouble with your budget money is when your eyes are bigger than your wallet and things go into your cart that aren't on your list. Don't give in! If it's not on your list then you can't have it this week. Or you need to sacrifice something else at the same price. It takes some discipline but only you can control your spending. I still get excited to see exactly how close I've gotten at the register with my estimated prices. And I must say I've gotten pretty good at it!

*Don't forget to allow for taxes when adding up your list. One good way to do this is to round up your estimated prices.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Talapia with Lemon Sauce ala yum!

Good Monday morning all! I thought I would hand out a quick supper main dish to start off the week.

Talapia with Lemon Sauce

3 pieces talapia
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp butter
salt & pepper

juice of 2 lemons or 1/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 Tbsp butter

In a large skillet heat butter and oil on medium heat. Lightly salt and pepper bother sides of fish and coat fish in flour. Place in skillet, cooking each side 4-6 minutes flipping only once. Fish will flake and turn white inside when checked with a fork. Remove fish and place on a plate and set aside.

In still warm skillet pour lemon juice, chicken broth and spices. I like to use caraway seeds, thyme and a little old bay seasoning. Let simmer on med-high for 6 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and whisk in until melted. Pour sauce over fish on plate. Enjoy.

Friday, August 14, 2009

To Consign or Not Consign

Last spring, upon moving my household to the country, I thought it best to say goodbye to some of my shoes. I was an avid "shoe collector" for some time. I didn't want to just give them away. They were still in their original boxes and most of them were only worn once or twice and in fantastic shape and most definitely still in style. I sold a few pair on ebay and decided to take the rest to a local consignment shop to see how they would do there. It has turned out to be a pretty decent deal. I sold almost all of them and have relisted the remaining four out of twelve pair that I took. Even though I only got a cut of the profit it was still way more than putting them in my next yard sale!

Most of the time when I think of consignment sales or shops I think of kid's clothes or at least I did in the past. I just wanted to put the bug in your heads to think about with fall and winter just around the corner. My next (and second single girl obsession) thing to gather and take to consign will be coats. I have several that I truly do not need and don't really have the space for.

It's a thrifty and good idea for a little extra space and cash in your pockets!

For you local girls, here's the website to Second Chances Consignment if you are interested.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Give~Away Reminder

Good afternoon everyone! Just a reminder about my give~away! A winner will be picked next Monday, August 17th! So if your name is not in the hat yet please send me an email with your name. www.peppysis1973@yahoo.com

This red burlap bag is very big and perfect for your recycling or whatever else you would like to use it for.

Sign up now before it's too late!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

That's Amore

Last night for supper I made Talapia with lemon sauce, asparagus, italian tomatoes and lemon poppy seed muffins... all in under 30 minutes. Sometimes timing is everything. Of these recipes I want to share the Italian Tomato side dish that I made because tis the season for homegrown tomatoes which are the best and it's simple. So for you tomato lovers... here it is.

Italian Tomatoes (for 2... cause that's all there is at our house :)

2 large tomatoes
4 Tbsp italian breadcrumbs
3 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice tomatoes in half. Squeeze ever-so gently to get some of the seeds out. You can cut a few out. Place tomatoes in a casserole dish flat side up. In a small bowl combine breadcrumbs and olive oil. I also had fresh basil on hand from my herb garden so I cut about a tablespoon of that up and added it. You can also use just breadcrumbs and add whatever spices you like. Spoon the mixture on top of the tomatoes. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes.

I am a tomato lover especially this time of year when they are fresh from our garden. I'll try just about any recipe that includes them!!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fruit Fun Popsicles

Good morning all! It's finally stifling hot here in Tennessee. After a wonderfully mild summer (in my opinion) it's getting steamy out there. When you walk outside at 6:30 a.m. and the air is thick with humidity you know it's August. Well I have something to help cool you down and delight your taste buds... and your little ones may like it too!

Cantaloupe Popsicles

1/2 of a cantaloupe, sliced in half, de-seeded, sliced and crusts cut off
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar

Sweet and dreamy... I know! Anyway, after you prepare the cantaloupes you must puree it in a blender or food processor. Mine is one of those handy small ones and it does the trick nicely. Puree cantaloupe and set aside in a bowl. In the microwave, boil water (about 2 minutes) and add sugar stirring to dissolve. Let this cool to room temperature or put it in the refrigerator to cool faster. Mix in with cantaloupe and pour into popsicle molds or ice cube trays. Let freeze for an hour then insert popsicle sticks. Allow several hours to freeze or overnight.

These are fantastically good. I've gotten rave reviews so far!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Night Fajitas! (for 2)

OooWee it's Friday!!! Let's make fajitas! I have put this recipe together in a bowl before and taken it camping but I've made it at home more often than that. It can be very convenient.
Here you go:

1 package chicken breast strips (the cheap package... like $2.45)
1/2 bag frozen (or fresh if you've got it) pepper and onion in strips (green, red & yellow)
2 - 3 tsp Caribbean Jerk seasoning (as long as it sounds tropical!)
Vegetable oil
1 can pineapple chunk
1 Tbsp butter
Flour Tortillas

Now follow these steps.... place 3 tortillas in aluminum foil and fold packet. Repeat for as many as you need. Place in oven on top rack at 350 degrees just to heat them up.. you're not trying to cook these! In a mixing bowl place chicken, veggies and seasoning. Put the lid on it and give it a good shake to mix spices up. In a large skillet brown pineapple in butter.. maybe about 6 minutes or so. Transfer pineapple to a bowl and cover with paper towel. Try not to snack too much on the pineapple. Pour oil into pan and let warm up on med-high. Pour chicken and veggies in, stir and cook until chicken is done. Mix pineapple with chicken and veggies. Get your tortillas out of the oven and serve your mixture on them.

You can use whatever else you want from here like sour cream, cheese, black beans, rice. They are YYUUMM!