Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Happy Reading

I love homemaking, cookbooks and simple, old-fashioned living. So I've been really glad to acquire these two books recently - "Mennonite Girls Can Cook" and "The Amish Cook's Anniversary Book." Reading them will be ideal as I stay in from the heat and sit by the AC. I enjoy anything that's encouraging along the lines of being a mom-at-home and food preparation. Now to go get something icy to drink and sit a spell ...

Here are links that show these books:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cool Meals for Summer

When I was growing up, and the summer weather was hot and sizzling like it is now, Mom would make cool meals every so often, instead of having to heat up the kitchen.

One thing I remember is a "cold plate" she liked to put together for us. She'd open a can of salmon (just eat it cold) and divide that on our plates, then add helpings of various other things to the plates such as cottage cheese, sliced tomatoes, leftover salads, canned peaches, etc. And it was good and cool and refreshing.

Also sometimes she'd fix "chef's salads." A bowl with lettuce, meat, cheese, boiled eggs, tomatoes, etc., with dressing. Also cool and refreshing. Above is the version I eat now that I've been hooked on lately. It consists of lettuce (Romaine mix from the store), honey-roasted turkey lunchmeat, shredded cheese, little-bitty tomatoes from the store, seasoned croutons and dressing. If it wasn't hot and I wasn't so lazy, I'd have some eggs boiled up and add that too! Maybe I'll get in gear and do that anyway. Boiled eggs are nice to have on hand for tuna salad, filled eggs and such.

That's some more cool food for summer - Mom would make sandwich filling from leftover roast beef, or make tuna salad, and that made a good sandwich to enjoy.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Just a Pitcher

When I was growing up, we had the neatest pitcher that was in pretty much constant use in the summer. It was amber, round like a globe, and had a "crinkly" texture. You couldn't count the times a batch of iced tea (from instant, heh) was made in that pitcher for consumption during hot weather. Can't remember if we had glasses to match, maybe we did? But I sure remember that pitcher. It's etched permanently in my mind as a symbol of "home" and "summer."

I don't know what happened to that pitcher. Perhaps it broke (don't think so), perhaps it got mucked-up from sitting down under the cabinet, maybe it got lost in the dark recesses of said cabinet and I glossed over it when I was getting things out of the house.

Well. Here a few weeks back, we were visiting a store in a nearby town. A gentleman buys things at estate sales or surplus sales or wherever, then sells all kinds of things in his store. His wife helps, and they're really pleasant and friendly to visit with when we go there. The shelves hold everything, from tools to business supplies to knick-knacks to toys to old-fashioned antiques ... you never know. As I walked around this time, I saw a set of five glasses in this amber-colored "crinkle" pattern. That was close enough! They found a home with us, and I've particularly enjoyed drinking cool drinks from them to try to beat this over-100-degree heat.

I'll be the first to admit I have a bad addiction to the thrift store in the nearby bigger town. You just never know what you'll find! It's like a perpetual garage sale. Now I have been trying to "tone down" on going there so often, plus trying to take MORE things over than I BRING HOME. So far I've been fairly successful, and there's a little more order around our house. The other day I took some things over, and DID NOT GO IN THE STORE.

Today I had a few errands to run to prepare for the weekend, and I had 3 sacks of things to leave at this store. I didn't plan to go in. I really didn't. I really didn't!!! But then I thought, oh well, I'll just nose around a bit just to see what's what. So I delivered my donations, then went in. I went on my usual "tour path" ... books/magazines, blouses, bedding and misc. items, shoes, material, purses, skirts, household goods. I had snagged a few things and was clanking around on the lower plate-and-saucer shelf. But nothing there I needed ... so I stood up. And came FACE-TO-FACE (and I'm tall!) with an amber, "crinkly," round-like-a-globe, in-great-condition PITCHER!

Long story short - that pitcher left the shelf so fast I'm surprised it didn't catch on fire from the speed friction. "MINE!!!!" It came home with me, and is now happily providing a batch of tea, made from instant, in our refrigerator. To help battle this heat wave that just won't let go. I'm thankful for ice and drinks!

I think perhaps God knew what might help fix some of my deep homesickness. I know, it's "just a pitcher," but the memories it brings back are precious and happy. God knows I need good doses of that right now.

Here's my awesome, homesick-fixing pitcher and glass set. :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Terrycloth Aprons

I enjoy collecting aprons, and I also enjoy using them. I like that they represent an earlier generation, but they are also very, very useful. Generally, I like to wear a full apron, as I tend to get a little sloppy in the kitchen. (Surely not! I don't dribble batter, or send flour flying out of the bowl, or spatter things ... do I?) But with this HOT weather lately, I can't bear to wear a full apron - just too stifling. So this is a good time to wear half-aprons. It doesn't fully protect, but at least helps.

These terrycloth aprons are interesting to me. I don't remember where I picked them up - either an auction, or yard sale, or some such thing. They appear to have been commercially made, as one has a tag in the seam. But this terrycloth idea appeals to me - comfortable, soft, absorbent and easy to wash. Plus, they're plenty colorful! Who can't be cheerful looking at that bright checked-flowered pattern?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Thrift Store Find - Summer Coverlet

OK, I have this thing. I don't like to have my bed covers or bedspread touching the floor. I think it stems from a problem with crickets when I was a kid. I also worry about spiders. So I try to put "twin" or "full" size covers on our king-size mattress, just to cover it, but not go to the floor. The white chenille bedspread I had was nice, but it was a little long, and had fringe that was flirting with touching the floor. That made me nervous.

Of course, I just can't stay away from the thrift store. Though I did have a day awhile back that I actually took some things over, and DIDN'T GO IN THE STORE. Wowee! But just the other day, I looked at the bed-cover rack, and there was a blue-and-white cotton "quilted" coverlet. It's square, and though commercial-made, looks nice with diagonal criss-cross "quilting." And the batting isn't that thick, so it's not heavy. Just right for summer in case you need just a little something over you. I thought $6 was a good price!

A big view, it almost reminds me of "window panes."

There are four huge blocks in the middle, then the corners and edges (shown below) have smaller blocks and strips, though they're still pretty good-sized. It's a visually "chunky" quilt with the huge pieces of fabric.

The back and binding are solid blue. This will be a very enjoyable quilt for the rest of the summer. Now if it would just get below 100 degrees and rain on us a little.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Amish-style Treat for Hot Weather

For quite awhile now, and still to go for at least another day, we've had 100-plus-degree temperatures. I'm sapped, I tell you. I don't know how people did it before air conditioning. All I want to do is stay in, drink a lot, and eat only cold or easy stuff. And not much of that. I sat on the couch this afternoon, feeling completely sapped. I thought that only something cold ... something fruity ... even REMOTELY sounded good. Then I remembered something ...

For years and years now, I've enjoyed reading and learning about the Amish. One story I read a long time back mentioned a thing called "cold fruit soup," I think in the German dialect they use it was "kalte brockelsup," or something like that. All it is, is a serving bowl with bread broken into it, fruit put on top of that (strawberries, or peaches, or bananas, etc.), sugar sprinkled on to taste, then milk poured over. This sounded interesting to me at the time, but even as long ago as that's been, I haven't ever tried it - until now.

It was delicious, cool and refreshing.

I cleaned my bowl up.

I feel a LOT better now.

If you're so hot you can't stand it, and this sounds like something you'd try, I sure encourage you to give it a whirl!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Crochet Whimsy

Awhile back, I found some thick, chunky, colorful yarn at wallyworld, and got some just to see what I could do with it. Well, here are a couple of things that came off the crochet hook - a sort of small table "scarf" thing, and a crocheted "bowl" or "basket" (it even has handles!). So here are 3 colors together for a sort of modern-art effect. Better than the fall runner that was on there, even in June!

Closeup of "scarf," "basket," and a ball of yarn waiting its turn to be made into something ... unusual. :) Hey, it's fun, anyway!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

So What If It's Hot

So what if it's hot .... I still made chili and cornbread for supper! It just sounded good, and both recipes are super easy. (See recipes below.)

Here in Oklahoma, which is considered "South," they like their tea SWEET and their cornbread NOT SWEET. The tea should put you in a sugar coma, and the cornbread should immediately suck all moisture out of your mouth and make you pucker from dryness. Heh! So I'm used to making a more "cakey" cornbread with a little sugar in it. Well, Hubby, being Southern, doesn't care for sweet cake cornbread, and I can't stand the bland, no-sugar cornbread, so I compromise, and put in only half the sugar it calls for in the recipe.

So here's how supper turned out:

Chili in the big cast iron skillet. I usually use a Dutch oven for chili, and make a good amount that has some broth to it. I used a Dutch oven last time with this smaller recipe, but it really didn't make a whole lot and it's kind of thick. So this time I treated it more like a one-dish-meal in a skillet. It worked great.

Cornbread from the oven, just a small pan.

First, you split a piece of cornbread.

Spoon a generous portion of chili over it.

Add cheese if you'd like.

OK, so it's nearly 100 degrees out, the chili is hot, the cornbread is hot, and I'm adding .... "Arizona Gunslinger" jalapeno hot sauce! Hey, no matter the season, I like spice! And this "Gunslinger" stuff is goo-oo-ood.

Ready to eat!

(Courtesy of our friend Kim.)

1 lb. hamburger
2 cans Ranch Style beans with sweet onion
1 can Rotel with jalapenos.

Fry hamburger, drain off grease. Add beans and Rotel, heat through. Serve.

*I had trouble finding Rotel with jalapenos, but they had nearly every other kind! So who knows why no jalapeno Rotel. I'll keep looking. So .... I used 1 can Ranch Style beans with sweet onion, and 1 can Ranch Style beans with jalapeno, and 1 can regular Rotel.


1 c. flour
1 c. cornmeal
1/4 c. sugar (I use 1/8 cup so Hubby will eat it and not complain!)
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 c. milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease an 8" X 8" pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients, stir to mix thoroughly. In a smaller mixing bowl, beat egg, then add oil and milk, stirring thoroughly. Add to dry mixture in big bowl. Stir just until all is moistened, a few lumps are ok. Pour into pan, bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. *Can double and use a 9" X 13" pan.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dealing With the Wind

OOOOOOOOOO - klahoma, where the wind comes sweeping ..... through our yard!

So, what do you do when you've got to hang laundry out, and the wind is blasting at hurricane gale force?

1. Hang stuff on the end of the line that's between the house and the shed, to hopefully cut down on some of the blast.

2. Use LOTS AND LOTS of clothespins.

What's strange is, the wind is blasting out of the south, but it comes around in a circle and blows the laundry from the north. Well, I guess we could have a scientific study of air currents. :)

It's gonna be a BAD HAIR DAY.

Poor corn, almost sideways.

All the trees are rustling to beat the band. *WHOO-OO-OOSH!!!!*

Between the house and shed, the wind tends to "swirl," thus the stuff on the line gets a little twisted. BUT ... at least this clothesline isn't running north-and-south like the one at the apartment did - Not only did everything twist, it twisted lengthwise all around the lines! It was like a laundry rope! So actually, this is a little better. But the wind still exerts its power.

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Mom the Homemaker

Mom as a young homemaker, on my Grandma's (Dad's Mom) east doorstep. They only lived a block apart.

Mom in later years, in "her corner" in the kitchen, as Dad used to call it.

And the salt and pepper shakers you see on the stove? Though they're not in the greatest shape, I still have them. They were my other Grandma's (Mom's Mom).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Summer Sweetness

One of my favorite summer treats: fresh peaches that are actually GOOD. :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Compliments to the Chef

Last night, older Son was due to get home from a week at camp, so I thought I'd fix something to have in the fridge for after he got in, you know ... in case he might be hungry. :)

So I threw together a small, quick mess of "tater tot casserole" (with a pound of hamburger), only I split it between two small pans, so I could put some kind of VEGETABLES in mine. I tried some once at a ladies' supper that had peas in it, so that's what I tried in my portion. I tried corn in the last big version I made here at home, and Hubby deemed it "O.K.," but wasn't that thrilled with it. So this time, I tried the peas. It was GOOD. I put the veggie-style in a round 8-inch pan for me, and the non-veggie-style in a small 8 X 8 square pan, then baked them both.

Wow it turned out good! Don't know if it was because I almost burned the hamburger, or the healthy dose of garlic powder, plus some paprika. But it had that "old-fashioned comfort food" flavor. YUM!

My leftovers this morning, that I had for breakfast, still good!

Hubby works at night, and if he doesn't eat breakfast with his co-workers, he might have a bite to eat here once he gets home, before he goes to bed for the ... day. Well, I got up this morning, and THIS NOTE was written on the fridge board:

I thought I'd bust a gut over that smiley face! But the "homemaker" inside of me was happy and pleased that something I'd made was such a HIT!

The nearly empty pan!

I told older Son when he got up that if he wanted any tater tot stuff, he'd better hurry. He said, "Ah, I've had that before." I said, "But this turned out especially good, and there may be none left!"


1 lb. hamburger
1 can cream-of-mushroom soup
bit of milk
garlic powder
tater tots
Shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray pan(s) you want to use. For just a pound of hamburger, a smaller casserole will work, unless you don't mind the meat layer being thin.

Put hamburger in skillet to fry. Get on the computer and start playing "Marble Lines," and forget hamburger is frying. RUN to the kitchen, and barely catch the hamburger before it's burned! But it has a nice, brown, "roasted" texture. (Which I personally love.) Remove grease. Add can of mushroom soup, and a good splash of milk to make it a smooth, creamy (but not soupy) consistency. Add in spices, such as salt, pepper, garlic powder, (couldn't find my onion powder), and this time, I added some paprika. Can add vegetables at this point if you wish.

Put in baking pan(s), top with tater tots, sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake around 30 minutes to heat everything up and get tater tots done. DEVOUR.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Blueberry Oat Cake


2 eggs
2 c. buttermilk (or "soured" sweet milk - dab of vinegar added)
1 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. quick-cooking oats
2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
(do not thaw frozen ones)
1 c. chopped walnuts, optional
confectioner's sugar

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, buttermilk, brown sugar and oil. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; add to batter. Beat on low speed for 2 minutes. Fold in oats, blueberries and walnuts if desired. Transfer to a greased and floured 10-inch fluted tube pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioner's sugar. Yield: 12-16 servings.

From one of the Reiman's Publications magazines, submitted by Linda Police, Dover, New Jersey.

This makes a very runny batter, but it bakes up nice. I used "Baker's Joy" spray instead of the usual Crisco-flour method of preparing the pan.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


And now we have ....

.... our first Zinnia! (Little lavender flower on the left.) Now it's the Cosmo's turn. :)

Caramel Coffee Cake

There are a lot of variations on recipes for sweet, pull-apart rolls baked in a tube pan. I've often enjoyed one from one of my hometown-area cookbooks called "Butterscotch Bubble Bread." It uses frozen bread dough rolls, brown sugar, pudding mix, butter, cinnamon. You arrange it in the pan, then let it sit overnight to thaw and rise, and bake it in the morning.

I've also seen recipes for "Monkey Bread," but haven't tried those particular recipes yet.

The other day I got a current issue of "Simple & Tasty" magazine at the thrift store for a whopping 40 cents. As I read in it, I came across a recipe for "Pull-Apart Caramel Coffee Cake." It looked similar to these other recipes, but used refrigerated biscuits and some simple ingredients. I was going to make it this morning, but last night, younger Son and I decided it would make a good bedtime snack. And yes, it did! (Seen in photo above before we attacked it.) PLUS some left this morning for breakfast! Very easy to make and very yummy.

This is from Jaime Keeling of Keizer, Oregon, and it was on p. 42 of April/May 2011 issue of "Simple and Tasty." (I've paraphrased it into a recipe format.)


2 tubes flaky buttermilk biscuits (12 oz. ea.)
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10-inch fluted tube pan with cooking spray. Quarter biscuits; arrange evenly in pan. Combine brown sugar, cream and cinnamon. Pour over biscuits. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes before inverting onto a serving platter. Yield: 12 servings. Cost: 33 cents per serving.

Now I have some cream left over, and I think younger Son and I are going to make "butter in a jar" for a project today. (We're homeschooling through the summer.) I've got some blueberries that need used, might just have to make some blueberry muffins to put the butter on!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Blooms In the Garden

This non-green-thumb person is enjoying things actually growing and BLOOMING in the garden! I've really enjoyed this yellow flower that has taken off after getting over transplant shock. "Osteo-something," or African Daisy, I think.

Then, today .... our first Marigold bloom!!! Such a seemingly tiny thing, but wow, what success! Looking forward to more. Have more things planted that will hopefully bloom.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Summer Chenille

I've been able to find inexpensive bed covers at a nearby thrift store. Since I like vintage things, I keep an eye out for cool stuff along that line. One of my favorites is old-fashioned chenille bedspreads. I've been able to find a few, and like to switch them out with the seasons. Since it's now June, I'm in summer mode. So here's a nice, cheerful, summer-y chenille bedspread that I just love.

Here's a closeup of the texture, and the pretty pink flowers among the design.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Sneaky Afghan and the Leftover Yarn

After the previous post about the afghans, here's the original "Navajo" pattern, followed by the "Ripple" pattern that used the leftovers, plus the bright blue wool. Both were made my my mother. It's interesting how adding another color and using a different pattern has a whole new effect.

"Navajo" pattern:

"Ripple" pattern, with added blue wool:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Me and My Mama

Funny thing, as I get older, I seem to remind myself a lot of my mother! But you know, that's a compliment to her. Even with all of life's ups and downs, I thought she did a GREAT job of being a wife, mom, worker, homemaker, and anything else. She's been gone eleven years now, but I still think so very, very often on how she did things in life and around our home. Like I said, I see more and more "familiarity" in the way I do things as a wife, mom, worker, homemaker, and everything else.

This picture above shows an afghan and a baby blanket, both in the same general pattern (Ripple), but very different looks. The baby blanket I'm working on is just for something to do to keep busy sometimes when I just want to relax awhile. I don't have a reason, I just liked the yarn, and wanted to make one. The crochet hook is one that used to belong to Mom.

Mom did a lot of crocheting. She also could quilt, embroider, sew, cook etc., but for something to keep busy with handwork, I think she mostly crocheted. And not just regular yarn, but she also did that lacey, doily-type crocheting, with the tiny, tiny hooks and the tiny, tiny string-thread! My eyes would go out just watching her do that, but she was good at it.

This afghan in the above photo sort of has a story. She made two afghans one time, but was being sneaky. She was making the "Navajo" pattern, supposedly for my cousin, for her graduation or something. Well! She fooled me. She was working on two at the same time, keeping them at about the same place, and one was for me as well. What a nice surprise! I still have it, too. Anyway it used the black, red, gray and white yarns you see in the afghan above. The blue is WOOL, and it used to be a sweater. I remember that sweater when I was just a little, little girl. So who knows how long it's actually been around. But Mom unravelled it at some point, then used it with the leftovers of these other projects, and made this ripple afghan. I wouldn't trade it for the world!

So to see these two projects together here on the couch, using the same pattern, is sort of a sample of how my dear mother still influences my life.

Then, you see that amber glass of icy Dr. Pepper? Well, that's another thing similar! Mom used to drink coffee in earlier years. But after a gall bladder sickness at one point, she couldn't stand the stuff anymore. So in later years, she drank iced tea. We had a pitcher with this same knobby pattern and amber color when I was growing up. I found a set of these particular glasses at a second-hand store and gave them a home. So, having such a glass, with an icy drink in it, also makes me think of her. And back then when I was still at home, if we'd go for a ride in the evenings, she'd take a glass of iced tea with her. What do I do now? If we go for a ride, I take a glass of iced Dr. Pepper or Pepsi with me! I have become my mother. But to me, that's a rich blessing and I hope it continues.

Another Beginning

I have my original blog. Then I had two others, and ran out of steam with them, so deleted them. Then I started another one with a specific subject, now I'm starting this one with a specific but broad-scoped subject. Did that make sense? Oh well, it's only 4:30 a.m., and I need to go back to bed and tackle this in the morning ... errr, LATER this morning. :) I'm trying to get a background going, and the feedjit thing, and I forgot what to do! *Yawn* ... will start in earnest after a little more shut-eye. :) Meanwhile, "WELCOME" to what I hope will be a fun blog "simply about home."