Sunday, March 28, 2010

Missing England

I honestly have a hard time believing that we have been back from England for 4 years now. We left on 12 February 2006. Sometimes it seems like so long ago, but most of the time, the memories are still fresh and vivid.

The first six months after we returned were extremely hard. I was as excited as anyone to return to the states, but once we arrived, I ached for England everyday...wishing that Donald's company would send us right back. Obviously, as time went by, the acute sadness passed.

But I've never stopped missing England.

I miss all the things it's known for...

But most of all, I miss the places and times that were special to us...

We are soooo blessed with a wonderful life here. We are always making new memories and I feel like our lives are full. I am very happy and content.

But I know that there will always be a little hole left in my heart that only England can fill. I am so grateful for the chance we had to be there...not just for a visit, but to live there and be a part of it for three and a half years!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pie to die for!!

I am not kidding!!
This stuff is crazy good!
I mean, we like pie around here, but even the best pies last for three days or so.

Not this baby - no way! It was eaten after dinner on Sunday night, then completely wiped out Monday evening.

The recipe came from this wonderful blog I read called Pleasantview Schoolhouse. Follow the directions exactly and you will soon be in heaven!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Roasting mini marshmallows


Doesn't everyone do this on a warm sunny spring day? favorite kind...burnt!

Donald was burning up some stumps in the back yard and the kids asked him if they could roast marshmallows. All we had were the mini size, but do you think that matters to kids?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

How to tell when it's really spring!

So the calender might say First Day of Spring, but to be sure, you need to go outside and find emperical evidence - such as:

Barefeet and blue jeans

Cats in the sunshine

Yellow flowers and clear blue skies

Okay! Hypothesis proven...spring is here!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Cool Pyrex

I've looked at this cute blog a few times lately called In Color Order. I like to check out blogs that have to do with sewing or homemaking...just a peek into the lives of others. It's more polite than looking in their windows!

Anyway, she collects Pyrex dishes and I love them! It's funny - these particular style of dishes, that I remember so well from growing up, are considered "vintage". Am I seriously that old now? There's even a website called for people with serious pyrex issues needs!

Now, I'm not much of a collector because: I don't want to spend a lot of money collecting. I don't have extra room for collecting. I don't have a husband who wants me to collect. So, for those reasons, I won't be a "collector" of pyrex. But, I did decide to hit a thrift store this week and just see if there were any to be had. And there were!

Aren't they sweet?

These pieces were only $2.49 each and in pristine condition. There were three bowls in different sizes and one small pie plate. I took them home, cleaned them up very well as to clear away all evidence of previous ownership, and made them ours.

And lest you think that I just bought them to sit there, well, here's a piece in action!

Maybe I'll try out the pie plate this weekend!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Little Jerry Seinfeld...and Naked Snickerdoodles!

When Donald and were first married, and even before that really, we were faithful watchers of Seinfeld. Who wasn't? To this day I think it's probably the funniest show that's ever been on tv!

We bought a rooster cookie jar one year and named it Little Jerry Seinfeld, specifically after this episode. Take a minute (or 3 minutes and 45 seconds to be exact) to me...we all need a little Seinfeld in our day! to stop laughing and finish the post!!

Anyway, time (and kids...and husband) have taken their toll on Little Jerry. Once a proud and majestic creature,

he's starting to show the signs of age and tough love.

But that's what cookie jars are about right? You see them everyday...they're a fixture of the kitchen and when you open it, it always provides happiness. We can probably all remember the cookie jars from our childhood and we didn't care that there were a few chips and dings in long as they were full!

Want to know what's in Jerry today?

It's this snickerdoodle recipe that I changed ever so slightly. I added about 1/4 to 1/2 cup more flour and instead of 2 tsp of vanilla, I added 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp almond extract. I'm also calling them naked because I was lazy and decided I didn't want to roll them in the cinnamon and sugar! No complaints...they went down just as easy!

Monday, March 15, 2010

First Planting

We need something on our front porch this year and I happened to find a pretty green glazed flower pot at TJMaxx last week. I started to buy purple pansies for it, but then ran across a sweet little candytuft at Walmart for only $5.50. I love candytuft! Simple white flowers that, if I don't kill the plant first, will increase greatly over the spring. They like to spread so it may end up hanging over the side of the planter. Even better!

It was sunny and nice out today, so I went ahead and planted it. Pounce helped - if you call that helping.

Friday, March 12, 2010

How about these colors?

They POP!

I went looking for new colors for my sachets and these called out to me...screamed out actually! I think they're different, gorgeous and fun! I'll play mix and match with them and see how they do!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lavender Sachet Project

My friend will be hosting a bridal shower in April and has asked me to make 15 sets of my lavender sachets for her to give as gifts to the guests. We went to the fabric store together this week and she chose these gorgeous colors and patterns. The lavender has been ordered and the fabric has been it's sewin' time!

My sachets have been selling fairly well on Etsy lately, so I may have to go out and splurge on some more pretty fabrics! I usually sell them in sets of three with the fabric matching, but I like the idea of having three different, but coordinating patterns.

What do you think?

And you know who you faithful blog readers you.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What we had for dinner tonight

Oh mama. There was none of this thrown back up on anyone's plate tonight. I'm just sayin'.

P.S. I used the puff pastry.
P.P.S. When you click on the link, it takes you to a search bar. Type in cheeseburger pie and you should head right to the recipe.

Happy Tasks?

Well, we really don't call them that anymore, but when I first got serious about the kids pulling their weight around the house, we all decided to call the jobs "happy tasks" instead of chores. A word that, if said like a true kid can say it, is sort of a onomatopoeia (of course I knew that word off the top of my head!)

They've been pretty consistent with their jobs...rotating each month so that it stays fair. That part has been an interesting learning experience. I get to see who likes what job better...or not at all. Now, keep in mind that they wish they didn't have to do anything. ever. again. But, since that's not going to happen, they do seem to have their preferences. Neither of the girls mind laundry sorting too much...and they do a pretty good job. Ivan, on the other hand, despises it. And, oh mercy, its reflected in the quality of the job. The girls don't care for the dishwasher unloading, but Ivan treats it as sort of a Lego building challenge with dishes stacked in unusual (nerve wracking) towers.

We thought we'd share some pictures of happy tasks in progress.

See how happy they are!?

See...she's really happy...

...and she's so happy!

I'd call this INSANELY happy!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I'm not a Mexican grandmother in real life...

...I just play one in the kitchen!

I've never attempted to make tamales before. For some reason, I always had this feeling that I couldn't do it. I thought it was supposed to take about twenty ladies in a kitchen for 2 or 3 days with pots of mysterious corn husks, meat mixtures and steam everywhere!

I kept seeing the pages in my Texas Highways cookbook staring back at me with yummy tamales on it and I finally decided to give it a try. I bought all the ingredients and let them sit on my counter a few days while I got my courage up.

Today was the day. I improvised a bit on the masa mixture. I thought the recipe seemed a bit bland, so I added a couple of extra ingredients.

Here's a photo essay of my adventure...

First I mixed up the masa - very easy process!

After I spread the masa on the corn husks, I added some homemade refried beans.

I prepared each tamale and set them aside until they were all ready to be steamed.

I didn't have a "proper" steamer, so I improvised and used a colander over a dutch oven and steamed them for about 1.5 hours. I'm not entirely comfortable heating our food up in plastic that way, so in the future, I'd consider it a worthwhile investment to get a steamer or stainless steel colander

Once I tested them (ate them) and the masa pulled away from the husks easily, and was nice and firm, I called it good!

Of course the real test was dinner that night. I made a fab tex-mex chili gravy for the tamales, plain rice with butter and a salad. The results were two thumbs up from Donald and me. An "I didn't think these tamales were going to taste this good" from Ivan, an "I like it a little" from Hannah, and a plate of thrown up tamale from Jenelle.

At least she's honest.

So, overall, things turned out good. For obvious reasons, I wouldn't make this a manditory family dinner very often, but they would be awesome to freeze and heat up occasionally. All in all, it took me about 3 hours of actual labor...that includes making the beans the night before, making the tamales and keeping track of them while they steamed. A worthwhile investment.

Buen provecho!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Being Published!

I got this

for making these

for them!

Holiday Crafts is a Better Homes & Garden publication that comes out once a year. It's a holiday crafting magazine that asks individuals to submit particular designs and "how to" instructions for its readers. They contacted me around Christmas sometime and requested this particular project they found while searching sites on Etsy. I sent samples, patterns, step by step instructions, a photo and a bio! They professionally photographed my tags and I can't wait to see how its presented!

Go me!

Apple Jack Update

Update on the cookies!!

They are really really tasty, so they are definitely worth making, but I think they are the type of cookie that you need to plan on eating sooner rather than later. If left to sit around too long, the apples make them a bit too moist. Do NOT put them in a cookie jar...leave them out on a plate instead. The other possible fix is to dice the apples smaller. I cut them pretty big and that might have had an effect. But don't let this keep you from making them. The taste is worth the try!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

"A" is for apple..."J" is for jack!

These little gems are called Apple Jack cookies! Last year in 2nd grade, Ivan had a cooking lesson as part of his math program...measuring, temperature, etc. He brought this recipe home and OH MAN are they good! The apple chunks make them light and melt in your mouth delicious! Try them today!

Apple Jacks

1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. shortening
1 egg
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup peeled and chopped apple

Cream together sugar and shortening. Beat in egg. Stir together dry ingredients and add to mixture. Beat until well blended. Stir in apples. Drop in small mounds on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375F for 12-15 minutes. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.