Monday, December 19, 2011

A Cozy Day

Since it's like THIS outside ...

... I've got a hot mug of spiced cocoa at MY side.

And a nice, apple-cinnamon candle making things smell good!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fixed It!

Ah, a nice, sunny day to put laundry out. Here awhile back, Younger Son cleaned his room, and just DUMPED all his T-shirts, clean and otherwise, in the laundry. So I'm just washing them all, and starting afresh. So here on the line is most of that, plus current laundry of long pants, sweatshirts and Hubby's work things. But wait ... what's wrong with this picture?

There are only two lines, not three!

Awhile back, the clothesline broke.

The line we first put up is a wire-enclosed-in-plastic type. The ends are held together with a U-bolt and nuts. If you have to tighten the lines, you have to loosen the screws, adjust the line, and tighten the screws back up. TEDIOUS. You can tell those other two lines need tightened again.

Well, one day I had a bunch of stuff on that third line, and >>SNAP!!!<< the end broke and down it came. It broke in the end loop, snapped completely through, so no putting it back up - too short to do anything with.

So FINALLY at Wallyworld yesterday, I got a package of clothesline. It's woven nylon, and I'll just tie it on.

Tied on to the west end - I'll clip that old line off when I find some wire snips. OR, maybe those scissors will do?

And, the east end tied. Let me tell you, I like those combo gloves. They can be mittens, as well as fingerless gloves, which are good for keeping my hands warm while having to do something tedious, like tie on clothesline.

Levtover line, will have to find a use for!

Ahhhh ... three lines again! Which is good, because I have a load of towels and socks yet.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Snack for a Cold Day

Winter has hit. Bitter cold overnight, cold during the days, heaters going. So a yummy snack to have with a hot drink is good to have on hand. Today, pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins. I'm not going to say how many I ate since I got them out of the oven!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Knitting Fun With Knotty Yarn

For something to do to be creative and not have to "think too much," I like to crochet and knit. Simple, less-expensive yarn is OK, and has a lot of varieties of color and weight. But here lately I've enjoyed trying to work with some "homespun"-style yarns. They have a wavy, "knotty" texture, and it gives the finished product a nice, soft texture.

But so far, I haven't crocheted with it, because it seems nearly impossible to see where the stitches are! So, when working with this yarn, I've stuck with knitting. This first project, I started quite awhile back ... over a year ago? So I worked on it a good while, then it's been just sitting ever since. So lately, for a break from quilting, I dug this knitting back out. It's pretty close to done, so I should be able to wear it soon, just in time for it turning cold for winter. In this yarn, the colors are mixed anyway, but it seems to be variegated in "chunks."

You can see here the "wavy" texture of the yarn.

Then just the other day, I was wandering through wallyworld, and ended up just WALKING BY the yarn section. NO INTENTION to buy any. But there was this lone skein of pretty, pink-colored yarn. This one skein seemed to say, "I need a home." So I gave it one. I started this scarf, but just since I took the picture a bit ago, I decided not to make it quite so wide. So it got unraveled and restarted with not quite so many stitches on the needle. I might say, too, that on this project and the next one, I REALLY LIKE the shorter knitting needles. For smaller projects, they're not quite so awkward.

A closeup of the pink yarn, also wavy, and a nice mix of pink and white.

Then, I've had this yarn sitting around for awhile. I found the skein at the thrift store for pretty cheap, so I gave it a home as well. But it's been sitting. So tonight I decided I might as well work on 3 different scarves and have a variety to keep from getting bored! Besides, the brown-gold one is almost done. But this yarn is a little different, where instead of being wavy, it has "knot-like" things in the yarn at intervals, and it's a little tricky to pull the yarn through the stitches. But keeping it a little loose, it works. So we'll see how this one goes!

Here you can see the "knots," just little loops that stick out from the main part of the yarn. But it's kind of rough! The little bit of knitting I've got on the needle so far looks like a blurry mess! But it'll still keep me warm this winter. :)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Keep It Simple

Lately, I've been trying to make some progress on simplifying and organizing. Too often I have what's used a lot, clear back behind stuff, and stuff I don't even want to see, out within reach. So I'm trying to switch that around! Related to that, I got tired of digging out the jars from the cupboard all the time to make instant coffe or instant tea.

I do enjoy making brewed coffee and brewed tea as well, but I grew up with instant tea most of the time, and don't mind it at all.

Here awhile back, I got some plastic storage lids that are made for canning jars. Let me just say, I'm going to get some more! I LOVE them. So I got an idea, to keep instant coffee and tea, and sugar, within easy reach. I just filled half-pint jars with each one, put on the easy plastic lid, added a label, and they sit on my kitchen table, ready to grab at a moment's notice for an easy coffee or tea break.

Here's a cup of hot tea ready to enjoy, in one of Mom's Fiesta Ware cups. :) And the water was heated on the stove in the tea kettle that was hers. I loved my mom dearly, and still do in memory. I can't hardly do any kind of household or kitchen stuff, that I don't think of her and enjoy wonderful memories. And thankful for her example!

Friday, October 28, 2011


With fall moving right along and days getting shorter, and with winter not that far ahead, I got in gear today to clean and ready our oil lamps, JUST IN CASE. You never know when the power might be out.

Before we moved here, there was a bad ice storm that left many without electricity for weeks. We've only endured an overnight lack of electricity so far in the several years we've lived here.

We had oil lamps on hand when I was a kid at home, but the only time I remember using them was in the summer, when a thunderstorm would knock out the power. I like them because they're old-fashioned, and a nice backup for a light source.

Here's most of what we have for non-electric light sources around our house. Three oil lamps, a good flashlight (we have a few more around), an oil lantern, various scented candles (these are only a few!) and an LED mini-lantern.

I washed the dust and residue off the lamps, so they're nice and shiny, then made sure they were full of fuel.

These will add a little light, plus a good scent.

This is an antique lamp from home. I kick myself about the other one or two, not sure where they went. I think one might've broke at some point. But I still have this one, and it's nice and big and will burn quite awhile.

These are two newer ones, one from the thrift store (the one with the cool handle) and one from wallyworld.

Now if I can find my mini copper oil lamp, with a swivel base so you can either hang it on a wall or set it on a table. I know it's somewhere in a bin in this house --- probably upstairs in the "storage" room! If I get brave enough to enter that room, I'll have to try to look for it. But meanwhile I think we've got enough light sources to last us awhile!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Vintage Kitchen Utensil Fun

Don't know exactly what spurs this, but I have this obsession with vintage kitchen utensils and things. I like old aprons, table cloths, kitchen towels. I like the pyrex casseroles and bowls. And ... I like old kitchen utensils.

Perhaps part of the obsession is that it reminds me of home and all the kitchen doin's with Mom through the years. Perhaps it eases my homesickness for that "home" that I miss. Perhaps it's just fun and interesting. Probably all three!

I KICK MYSELF HARD that I didn't keep: Mom's potato masher, Mom's 2-cup aluminum measuring cup, Mom's biscuit cutter, and Mom's mixer. I blame my addled state of mind and pressure and desperation that I only kept what I did. Distance, no room, hurriedness and addled brains just kept me from hauling that whole kitchen full of stuff into my own home. Actually, I'd have kept the whole house full of stuff if I could've. But I couldn't. But the few kitchen things I do have, I'm thankful I kept and I do enjoy using.

Here are some measuring spoons, a mixing spoon and a spatula. Mom had a little rack inside one cabinet door that held some copper measuring spoons similar to these, there were six of them. These are some I found in the thrift store lately, and I grabbed them so fast I'm surprised my hands didn't blister. No, I didn't keep the originals of those, either. But these green-handled ones sure remind me of them, and they're handy to augment the measuring spoons I already have when I'm doing a lot of baking. Now the metal spoon in the middle, is a big, silver serving spoon from somewhere, and Mom used it from who-knows-when! It had been used so much the end of the spoon was worn off and slanted. COUNTLESS things made in Mom's kitchen with that spoon, both in her hands and mine! The spatula is one of two from home (just grabbed the one), a nice wooden-handled one. The red paint is mostly worn off the handle!

These are a few utensils from the thrift store recently - a heavy-duty fork, a "rounded" fork with a flowery handle (a "spork?" ha ha), and a heavy ice cream spade.

I have a few wooden utensils I like. I think the small spoon and the long spoon came from home. That long, sturdy spoon is AWESOME for mixing bread dough! The spatula/scraper on the far right came from the thrift store.

These all three came from the thrift store - a slotted multi-use utensil, another thin metal spatula, and a pie server. I need a good pie server! I have a plastic one that's a little flimsy. I might add in here, that most of the utensils at the thrift store sell for around 20 to 30 to 50 cents apiece. Cheap fun!

These all came from the thrift store as well. A very small aluminum pan (imagining melting a boatload of butter in it sometime for something), a metal funnel, a cheese slicer (I sure missed having one of those!) and an old-fashioned, wooden-handled mallet.

I kind of went loopy on old-fashioned graters, two box ones, and four flat ones. The flat one with the red handle, I use to grate a certain bar soap for homemade laundry soap.

These next three have come from Lehman's Hardware, a store in Kidron, Ohio.

I have never been disappointed in anything I have ordered from Lehman's! Always excellent quality. This shows a slotted multi-use utensil, an ice cream spade, and a slanted-edge spoon. Nice, sturdy stainless steel.

When I saw the slanted spoon in Lehman's catalog back when I ordered it, I immediately thought of Mom's mixing spoon! It does stir things really well on the bottom of the pan, and gets into the edges of the bottom.

I'm really mad that I don't have the biscuit cutter from home. An old-fashioned red-handled one that was just the right size. Quite awhile back, I got the set on the left, which is good, but I need a size between the medium and small. Of course, I can always use an old can or a glass, too. I found the cutter on the right at the thrift store, and it sure reminded me of the one from home ... except ...

... as you can see, it's a DOUGHNUT cutter! I think. I use it to make "egg in a hole" - only the middle toast part ends up in two pieces, but just as good.

I'm sure I'll have fun adding to this little collection as I go on. Of course I have a lot of other utensils in our kitchen, potato masher, whisk, pastry cutter, ladles, etc., etc. But I just wanted to share the vintage-y, fun ones for now. :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fall Baking

Got in the mood this evening to do a little "fall" baking. It's been in the 30's and 40's overnight lately, so it just puts me in the mood to have some good baked things on hand to enjoy with some hot coffee or hot tea.

Pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins.

Apple cream pie.

A piece of the pie ready to try, still warm. You can serve it warm or chilled. That's probably why it fell apart trying to take it out of the pan - still warm! So after it's chilled, it may slice and serve better, but I'm sure it will be JUST AS DELICIOUS. :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Taking a blogging break ... be back soon. :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cooking Mood

I kind of ... got in a cooking mood this afternoon. Needless to say, we had plenty to eat for supper!

Pizza Tot Casserole.

Cheesy Creamed Peas.


Hot Fudge Cake plain.

Hot Fudge Cake with whipped topping.

Now I'm going to play "tops" with Jonathan and let my supper settle before I tackle the dishes!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Nutritious" Iced Mocha Drink

I've enjoyed some store-bought coffee-mocha drinks recently, but wanted to have something easy to make at home from what I had on hand. I also thought a little "nutritive value" might help.

So this afternoon, I just made something up, because I wanted SOME KIND of icy, chocolate, mocha, creamy drink.

Pint jar
3-4 spoons of chocolate Instant Breakfast
1/2 to 1 tsp. instant coffee granules (I used decaf)
Milk (maybe a little half-and-half if you want it creamier?)

Spoon the dry chocolate breakfast mix and coffee granules into the jar. Add just enough milk so you can stir it and dissolve everything, then add more milk to fill the jar about 3/4 full. Stir. Add ice. Enjoy!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Simple Meals

Just because our family isn't a very big one, doesn't mean our meals are "easy." It's me plus 3 guys, so we're always hungry, and it's getting to be more and more, with a working man and soon-to-be two teenagers! (It's a wonder there isn't a trench worn in the floor leading to the kitchen!) The fact that we all have our individual likes and dislikes adds to the "challenge." If I stick with basic meat-and-potatoes things, or certain one-dish or skillet things, it works pretty good.

Last night, I was browsing through a cookbook, and saw a simple goulash recipe. I thought that might be a good, simple supper, so I went in and did the best I could with what I had on hand.

I knew Hubby and Younger Son wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole. Hubby doesn't care for goulash, and Younger Son doesn't like tomatoes, onions or green peppers. But I was pretty sure Older Son and I would enjoy it.

I enjoyed me a good bowl of it, it wasn't bad. I know what I would do different next time, but I was working with what I had on hand.

I had put the rest in a big bowl to cool down then set in the fridge. But before it got to the fridge, Older Son came down and took about half of what was left, which was fine! That's what I made it for. THEN I set the rest in the fridge.

This morning, the bowl was not in the fridge. I suspect he came downstairs in the night sometime and ate the rest! But I LIKE it when my guys eat the food I fix!

This morning, I saw on "Pioneer Woman's" blog about Frito Pie. It looked wonderful with her version, but I didn't have everything to make that exactly. Then I thought, well, I'll go in and open a can of Wolf Brand (chili) and put it over tortilla chips with cheese on top, I do that occasionally anyway.

No tortilla chips.

OK, I'll heat up the chili, then I'll eat it with crackers and a dab of relish. (We used to put a little relish in chili at home, it gives a little tang and sweetness to cut the hearty chili flavor.)

No Wolf Brand. I suspect in the last few days, Older Son ate what I had on hand. So I rooted around through the cupboard to see what was there on hand and sounded good for a quick lunch.

Butter beans!

So I heated up a can of those (I'm the only one around here who likes them), with a little salt and pepper and butter added, then spooned them over some buttered bread. Old-fashioned, cheap, filling, and (to me) tasty.

I generally fix one main thing a day - usually for supper after Hubby gets home from work. (The rest of the time it's just various stuff as we're hungry - grilled cheese, fried eggs, etc.) And after he switches back to night schedule, it'll be supper BEFORE he goes to work. Tonight, I plan the "easy" version of chicken-noodle-potato soup. Potato chunks, noodles and canned chicken in seasoned broth. And that's something we'll ALL eat! So I'd better make PLENTY.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Easy as Pie

I love to make pie and EAT pie, but some pies are "easier" for me to make than others. Double-crust fruit pies (though I love them, especially cherry and peach) are not my forte. I do pretty good with custard, pumpkin, and old-fashioned cream pies. I can even make a shoo-fly pie. (Amish dessert.)

I have good memories of Mom making pie crust for pies, and using leftover scraps to snack on. She'd lay them on a pan, spread with butter, sprinkle with sugar and then some cinnamon, and bake. Yum! Simple, and the scraps didn't go to waste.

One thing though, that has simplified my pie making projects, is a "pat-in-pan" crust recipe, which I also found among Amish recipes. Since I haven't had hardly any room to roll anything out such as pie crusts and biscuits in these last couple of places we've lived (including now), this is a keeper for me, especially since I usually stick with single-crust pies. You can bake it for a shell, or put filling in and bake as usual. To me it's very good and reasonably flaky. Here's one of several I have, they have various measurements of ingredients, some are better for bigger or smaller pie pans. This one seems a good, basic one.


1 c. flour
dash salt
1/3 c. vegetable oil
3 Tbsp. milk
(sometimes I may add a dab of sugar, too.)

Place flour and salt (and sugar if you care to) in pie pan, mix lightly with fork. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, measure oil and milk, stir well with fork. Pour all over the flour mixture. Start with fork and mix, then finish with fingers. The idea is not too dry so that it's crumbly, but not so wet it's TOO mushy. Just a nice piable dough. Even if it seems on the wetter side, that'll work. Use fingers, beginning at rim of pie pan, to "pat" the dough flat against the pie plate, finishing at the center. Shape edge as desired. Fill and bake as directed for pie, or prick with a fork and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes to have a baked shell.

You can also find refrigerated pie crust dough at the store.

But if you REALLY want an easy route, and there's NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT, just get a ready-made graham cracker crust at the store! Yes, you can make your own from crushed graham crackers, sugar and butter. But I'm talking EASY. Then, more easy ... a box of instant pudding and a small tub of whipped topping. Our favorite seems to be chocolate. Now, you could have homemade dough crust, homemade chocolate filling, and either baked meringue or REAL WHIPPED CREAM topping. But this is easy, and it barely lasts any time at all at our house! In fact, Older Son tries to get me to make TWO at a time. "One for me ... " ha ha. It's so simple, but so good. Graham cracker crust, instant chocolate pudding, half a carton or so of whipped topping.

Well, that brings up another food memory. In years gone by (man do I sound old), my folks and I/us used to visit The Dutch Kitchen restaurant up by Hutchinson, Kansas. Then we also got to going to the Carriage Crossing restaurant in Yoder, Kansas when that opened up. Both places are located in the vicinity of Amish settlements, and both have a pie list a mile long. If you ask the waitress what kind of pie they have that day, they're prepared to rattle them all off, and you'd better be listening! But anyway, Mom's favorite was always chocolate, a regular crust with homemade filling and some kind of whipped cream topping. So I think of her when I do anything with chocolate pie!

So back to the present. Recently, Older Son made an improvement. For some reason we had some Reese's Pieces on hand. I had made the chocolate pudding part in the crust that evening and put it in the refrigerator to chill overnight, then I intended to finish it the next morning. I got up the next morning. The pie was done. Older Son had beat me to finishing it ... with crushed Reese's Pieces sprinkled on top. Oh, yumm-o! And it doesn't take a whole lot, just some sprinkled over the whipped cream adds that extra bit to it. I made another pie later and crushed quite a few Reese's Pices, and have them in a jar in the fridge. I've used them on several pies so far, and still have quite a bit left.

Incidentally, that happens a lot, that my nocturnal teenager will come downstairs in the night and cook things! And when Hubby is on a night schedule, he cooks things in the night, too! I hardly know what I'll wake up to. (A mess. Ha ha.)

So today I got with it and tried a different version. Graham cracker crust, BANANAS sliced into the bottom, instant French vanilla pudding, whipped topping, and the Reese's Pieces. Also very yummy and not bad. But I think I prefer the chocolate. But I think this pie won't last long despite that!

After working on the living room and enjoying two (count 'em TWO) naps today, I needed a snack.

Anybody wanna study fractions?

Ready to enjoy!