Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My "No Fuss" Way to Delicious Iced Tea

Many of you have served me refreshing, delicious, thirst quenching glasses of iced tea in the last few years. Actually, it goes back even further than that. Back to when I was a young girl and my mother and my aunts would grow their own tea and make pitchers of mint tea, or as they called it, "meadow tea". On hot days, there just was not anything better. Some of my dear friends still grow their own tea, and make "the best" glasses of tea. Me, I do not grow my own tea, but since I found this box of spearmint, herbal tea at Kauffman's Fruit Farm and Giant grocery store, it works for me. I make "sun tea".
I fill a gallon jar of water, add 7 tea bags, and set the jar out in the sun. I let it set for at least 5 hours, or an entire day.
When I bring it inside, I strain the water out of the bags of tea at the top of the jar. I put it in the refrigerator until I am ready for a glass of tea. I add a bit of sweetner. Whatever way you choose to do that is fine. My choice is one pack of Splenda, lots of ice, and a slice of lemon. So simple, so delicious and if you stop by, I give you one, also. ps. Any brand of tea bags, and any flavor will work with this method.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Long Time" Favorite" Recipe

I just mixed up another bowl of one of my all time favorite recipes and thought that maybe you would enjoy having the recipe. Many years ago, I was invited to a home for lunch. The hostess was a dear friend who just happened to also be a very good cook. She served us these muffins which she called "Six Week Raisin Bran Muffins". She gave us the recipe and I have been making them ever since that time. I have adjusted the recipe to make it healthier. It truly does keep in the refrigerator up to 6 weeks. If a friend stops in, or if I need a quick gift, it is so convenient to have the batter on hand.
This is a newer printed version of the same recipe although it says it keeps well for 2 weeks. I know from experience that this keeps longer than 2 weeks. I also bake the muffins at 350 degrees instead of 400 degrees. I do not care for dark muffins. I extend the time by 5 minutes or until they are firm to the touch.
I like this small muffin pan because I can make lots of muffins at once. I always sprinkle a cinnamon-sugar mixture on top of each muffin before baking. These muffins freeze well. They taste so good with a hot cup of coffee or tea.
Last night I received more wallpaper books, can you tell? I baked some bran muffin batter in a can. When it was cool, I wrapped this border print around it and glued it. I slipped it into a clear cellophane bag and it is ready to be used as a gift for a friend from church who will be "seventy something" this week. If you are ever looking for a moist, healthy raisin bran muffin recipe, you may want to try this one. Judy

Saturday, August 23, 2008


...for the introduction of the" newest sibling "that will be joining their clan.

Friday, August 22, 2008

"A Pin Cushion"...Why?

A few years ago I purchased two little white coffee cups and saucers from a clearance shelf. They were just too cute to pass up. Different times over the last few months I thought of getting rid of them, until last week when I picked up a Yankee Magazine book titled "Vinegar, Duct Tape, Milk Jugs and More" that I had been given a while ago. I was paging through and something caught my eye. It was a short piece on how to make pin cushions. Well, I never, ever thought that I needed a pin cushion. That was something that my grandma had on her vanity table. For some unknown to me reason, I thought about my two little white coffee cups and saucers. The rest is history, because the completed items are pictured above and below. I am only sharing this process with you because, you may find yourself in a situation like I was many times in my life. You, or one of your family, has an appointment, or an invitation, or whatever, and one of you pops a button as you are hurriedly getting dressed. Maybe you cannot relate to this, but believe me, it has happened one too many times to me and my family. I am here to help, and it is a very simple solution.
It tells you to fill a small sandwich bag with cornstarch(something I rarely use in my kitchen). It did not say it has to be fresh I was okay. You cut off the top of the bag and squeeze the bagged cornstarch into a ball. Then you take fabric or a white or flowered hankies from an antique store, or your mother's drawer, and form it around the plastic ball. Use a sturdy rubber band and tighten it into a ball. I made the size of this ball to fit perfectly into my little coffee cup. It works so well, the pins just slide in and are removed easily.
I thought I would try making one with this pretty dish from a flea market purchase a few months ago. It worked just as well. To make the jeweled border, I used wire and some tiny, clear beads that I strung on the wire. I bought this bag of beads at Walmart one time, and I find myself using them for so many things. They are clear, a bit irridescent and very inexpensive. I used a small amount of hot glue to attach this to the ball and the cup. I added a few touches to dress up my pin cushion, like a butterfly and a ribbon. This project is so simple and can be created so many different ways. It will be a fun gift to give to a bride. It will prevent her from many harried moments like I had over the years.
This pin cushion was created the same way as the others, except that I embellished it with the wired beads and an old clip earring from an antique mall. I know you did not wake up this morning thinking that you would love to know how to make a pin cushion, but, hopefully this may spark your interest in a new area of thinking. By the way, one of THE best inventions that I have found lately, are a pack of self threading needles by Singer. So if you are going to give this as a gift, it would be a great idea to thread some of these needles with white thread and stick them into the pin cushion before giving. Oh, the frustration you could save someone, especially if they are like me. Judy ps. Always make sure that your pin cushion is stored up high and out of the reach of small children. Now, I sound like a grandma.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Bonus of a Pastry Chef Student

She walked through the door this afternoon with a big tray of eclairs, creme puffs, and additional pastries that she and her class had just completed. Quite honestly, I had never seen such a big array of pastries in our home, especially on a Tuesday afternoon. This has become a weekly happening ever since her classes began. It is exciting to see all that she is being taught. For those of you who know me well, you know that I do not have a sweet tooth. That makes this whole experience a bit easier to tolerate. But, she insisted that I taste a bite of each pastry, and being a good mother, I honored her request. I was so impressed with the appearance and the taste. I am thrilled that she is being introduced to this aspect of cooking. The remainder of the tray of pastries will go with her dad to work tomorrow. By the way, last week it was scones, and the week before it was muffins. Which leads me to the next part of this posting. Because duty demands it, I am sharing with you one of the lunches that my husband and I eat frequently. Just in case you are ever bored with your lunch menu and need to try something else.
This is a quick, refreshing, low calorie, healthy and yet filling lunch that we have many times. I layer the yogurt, the light Cool Whip, the fresh(or canned) peaches, the blueberries and or strawberries, and the sliced almonds. This combination goes with him in a plastic container and I have mine in the parfait glass. Both of us thoroughly enjoy this lunch.
As you can see it can be pretty enough to use for a luncheon. Just add a muffin and it will be a complete light meal. With pastries arriving in our home on a daily basis, it is crucial that our lunches remain on the light side. This is only a fun suggestion, with many different variables when creating it. If you ever find yourself in our situation, with pastries coming in the door each week, you may want to try this lunch yourself. Judy

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Simple, Inexpensive Summer Gift

This was a fun Saturday morning project for me. It took only a short amount of time to put together, but I think it looks like a colorful summer gift that looks and tastes good. Seems like a perfect combination.
This tray of flower pots would be appropriate to give for many different occasions, whether it is a special birthday, a get well visit, a thinking of you gift, a welcome to the neighborhood, or however you are looking to share with someone in your life.
I took the little clay pots that I had previously purchased at the craft store for .50 each, washed them with hot water and detergent, and dried them thorougly. I sprayed them in the inside with "Pam", and then cut small squares of parchment paper and put it on the bottom of each pot to cover the holes. I then took the quick bread mix, using the highlighted recipe on the back of the box. It calls for 3/4 cup of mashed banana. Very ripe bananas works the best for mashing. I use this recipe often, because it is one my family enjoys. It is quick, easy and delicious. I filled each pot with a generous 1/2 full portion of batter, set the pots on a cookie sheet and put into the preheated 350 degree oven for 1/2 hour, or until firm to the touch. When finished baking, remove from oven and let cool.
The above recipe is the one that I used. The icing that I used was, 1/2 container of whipped creme frosting and 1 TB of chocolate syrup mixed together. Before putting the icing on each pot, I cut short pieces of a straw and put it down through the center of each pot, leaving some to stick out of the top. This is where I will put the flower stem, when I am finished with each pot. At this point, I smoothed the icing on each bread filled pot. I then sprinkled some finely ground Oreo cookie crumbs over the top of each pot. I collected some flowers from my garden, washed them, removed the leaves on the stems and stuck them in each straw.
I keep some of these trays that look similar to real silver trays, on hand in my pantry. They can be purchased at the "Dollar Tree" for a dollar. They seem like the perfect thing to use for certain kinds of baked goods. I used paper laced doilies and added a green fern from my garden to complete the garden theme. I will store this tray in my refrigerator, adding the flowers right before giving. This simple, quickly assembled gift costs less than $10.00, but the blessing it would bring to someone would be far more valuable. By the way, the loaves of bread do remove from the pots, easily. There will be extra batter left over. I put it in my muffin tin and baked it along with the tray of clay pots. That way we had some to eat also. Some for others and some to keep. Maybe you will want to try baking in clay pots and sharing with others. Judy

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Corn...From the Farm, To the Freezer

The corn came with a high recommendation, claiming it was some of the sweetest corn they had ever grown. It was yellow and white combined. Four of us worked on this project. Two of us were adults and the other two were babies. Actually, there were almost "five" of us. All of this proved to be quite a day.
In normal conditions, freezing sweet corn is a tiring situation involving long hours to complete the job. My dear, very pregnant daughter should have had here feet propped up on the sofa during the afternoon. But, she insisted on helping, as did her two year old son. Together, we tackled the job, and together we finished it, with lots of interesting events in between.
We loved the tasting part! Yes, it was every bit as delicious as they had claimed it to be! To me, it was better than candy. Not everyone who tasted it would agree with me. How could corn ever be said to be better than candy...especially if you are two years old.
Fortunately for us, one of our group took a long afternoon nap. Oh, the joy of an afternoon nap. This winter when she sits up on her highchair, she will eagerly eat her bowl of corn with her meal, since her mother said it is one of her favorites. She will be totally oblivious to all that went into her having a bowl of corn in front of her. That is how it is with so many things in our lives. We have them available to us, but we rarely think about what all was involved before we received them. Until next summer when just maybe,we will tackle this job again, we will certainly savor every opportunity to taste some of this "sweet" corn. Judy

Friday, August 15, 2008

Homegrown Peaches are Here

We are so blessed in our county to have many peach orchards. My family has always enjoyed recipes made with fresh peaches. One of our favorites over the years, is "raspberry peach jam". I found it a few years ago, in a wonderful cookbook called, "In My Kitchen". The recipes and the art are done by Lorraine Rohrer. This book contains some of our favorite recipes.
This recipe calls for fresh peaches, sugar, crushed pineapple and raspberry jello. I accidently purchased chunk pineapple, which means I had to put it in my food processor.
As you can see, it is a very simple recipe. I always choose that kind. Even though it does not say, I always freeze the jars of jam, after they are cooled down.
This method of making jam does not require a lot of time, and it is fun to have "red" peach jam. If you never tried this recipe, you might want to.
It is a good feeling to put it in the freezer, to use for my family, and for gifts. Judy

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My New Pink Stars

A few weeks ago, I visited a very special, quaint gift shop on Rt. 30, near Paradise. The name of the gift shop is "Grandma's Attic". If you ever have an opportunity to stop in and browse, you will find yourself stepping back in time. It has beautiful gardens and antiques, inside and out. I was at the checkout, and saw a basket of many little, colored stars. I discovered by looking up, that they had taken the stars and slipped them onto the tiny white string lights that were strung above the checkout desk. I liked how it looked, so I picked out some pink ones for me. Because of time limits, they remained in the bag until late last evening. I found a strand of white lights from Christmas. I added a pink star, every 4th light, and took them out to my porch. I had fun placing them on my old table, along with the old globes that I had recently found at a flea market. I am not sure I will keep them at this location, but for now, I like how it lit up my dark porch. The pink stars added an extra glow.
I sat on the porch thoroughly enjoying the peace and quiet, with only the night sounds in the air.
I have always had a fascination with "stars". I read recently, that the universe contains untold trillions of stars, not the mere thousands that can be seen from earth by the naked eye. Then, I read in my very favorite book, that "He determines the number of stars and calls them by name." Psalms 147:4. Amazing!! As for my new pink stars, I wil enjoy the light they bring to my porch on the remaining summer and fall evenings.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"Just a Little Something Sweet"

I do enjoy Erma Bombeck. She seemed to have a grasp on life as I see it. I loved her sense of humor...a necessary ingredient in getting through daily life. I do not like diets. I like healthy, disciplined eating and exercise. My mother was, and continues to be a disciplined eater. I learned many lessons from her. But, one thing everyone who eats meals with her, whether at home or in restaurants knows, is that at the end of her main course, she always wants, just "a little something sweet" for her dessert. I have heard her say hundreds of times..."why do they only serve big desserts?" "Why doesn't the restaurant serve just "a little something sweet?" All of this to say, this week I discovered "Entenmann's" has honored my mother's wishes. They have made "100 calorie, carrot creme snack cakes, and called them "Little Bites".
I bought a box of them, put them on a pedestal plate, added a few chopped walnuts and a tiny icing carrot(from Weaver Nuts). Both mom and I think these new little treats are delicious! We were pleasantly surprised! A cup of coffee and a snack cake, will be a good ending of a meal. Try them, you might like them...only if you wish for "a little something sweet".If you prefer "BIG" desserts, you might want to visit "Jenny's Diner".
Another discovery that I made, are these individual packets of "100 calorie Cappuccino Mix, in French Vanilla". I will carry these in my purse, and request a cup of hot water at the restaurants, or at home. This is another one of my "just a little something sweet"ways to complete my dinner. If you need to go the "decaf" route, this may not work for you.
In light of all that is taking place in our world, this is only a bit of trivia that you may, or may not care to know. What I do know though, is that I will never hear the words "just a little something sweet", without thinking of my dear mother. Judy

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Breath-taking Sunrise

It was very early. My daughter and I ventured out to the beach with our hot cups of coffee in one hand and a camera in the other. Oh, the beauty that was before us!! Quietly, without fanfare, the sun rose over the ocean to greet the day before us. Words just cannot describe the exquisite handiwork of God, that we viewed that morning!

I wanted to share these scenes with you this Monday morning. I would much rather be sitting and watching the sunrise at the beach now, but there are many things that need to be done. Actually, I am not even sure where to start. So, the sunrise at the beach will only be a special memory as I go about my day. Hope that your Monday is a good one! Judy

Saturday, August 9, 2008

"Ways to Express Your Heart"

A family left to deal with the roller coaster of grief and emotions that no one can understand. Four young children and a husband had to say good bye to their mother and his wife, a few weeks ago. I was left searching for ways to say "I'm sorry" to this family that had personally meant so much to me. Since I was going to be in their hometown today, I filled my empty mandarin orange can with flowers from my garden. I hot glued wide ribbon around the can, poked two small holes on the top of each side, tied a bow tightly on one side, left extra ribbon and tied a bow on the other side. This way I could hang it on their front door. Hopefully, they will know how my heart is hurting for them, even though I feel like a huge bouquet of 2 dozen long stemmed roses would not even be able to adequately do that.
It is their 25th anniversary. What a milestone, especially in today's world. A card would express my congratulations, but I want it to be a bit more visual. A bottle of sparkling cider, and a decorated "do not disturb" sign hung on the bottle. I purchased a pack of white, blank "do not disturb" signs at the Walmart craft department. The picture I glued on the front of it, was from a past "Victoria" magazine. A ribbon and a piece of ivy finished the gift. On the back of the blank card I printed "Do Not Disturb" in black marker. I smiled as I thought of dropping off this gift.
A beautiful , square crystal plate that I had purchased at a flea market last summer for $ 2.00 and chocolate chip cookies from my freezer...perfect way to say "Happy Birthday" to my newly met friend. Since returning plates, pans and containers happen to be one of my pet peeves, I was thrilled when I discovered this written saying in a book. I typed it and ran off copies which I include on the gifts that I give. Flea markets, clearance shelves have produced many exquisite looking plates, for this purpose. Plastic plates from the grocery store would be fine also.It seems to me, that many people that I know, are going through a time of life right now, where it feels like they have been dealt a basket of lemons. That is why I have used my lemon stamp in this way. God gives us the supernatural ability at times,to make lemonade with the lemons that we have been given. In the past, I have purchased crystal pitchers from the same source as my plates, filled them with lemons and tied a ribbon and this stamped saying onto the glass handle. I like giving this gift because I really enjoy iced cold lemonade, and it helps to remind me how very important it is, to take the difficult situations that we find ourselves in so often, and make the best of them. That ability, is a gift from God to us. The gifts that I have described above are only a few ways that I use to somehow reach out to those around me. I need to be reminded in the midst of my busy life, to take time to say " I care ". How thankful I am for the times that others took,to express that to me. Judy

Thursday, August 7, 2008

"My Fun, Busy Thursday"

They arrived last evening to stay for a few days. So, just in case you might be wondering what she is doing today...hopefully, these pictures will give you a clue. Thank goodness their mother is getting a needed break. I am is a happy time here! Oh, did I tell you? It is nap time now. The house is quiet. Judy

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

"All Done With a Needle, Thread and Hours of Time"

YMany years ago, my great-grandmother created this masterpiece. It must have taken her so long to do, with all of the other jobs that were required of her at the time.. I have never attempted anything with a needle and thread, but I cannot imagine how much time would be involved in completing a job like this. This framed treasure has a prominent place on our living room wall. Whenever, I pause to look at it, I am reminded of the love and the skill involved as she made it for her grandma.
This masterpiece was made for me by my grandma for our wedding gift. I treasure this piece, because I remember how long it took my grandma to make it. She wanted it to be just right. It is so beautifully done. I marvel at the neatness of the stitches. Unfortunately, arthritis has prohibited her from creating any more of these special framed pieces. I am reminded of her love and kindness to me whenever I stop and reflect on this piece. Thank you dear grandma!!
Located in the foyer of our home is another beautiful, framed counted cross-stitched "Welcome" sign. The extremely talented lady that spent hours and hours of time doing this for me, is my dear aunt and friend. It graces the wall of our home and I cannot walk past it, without stopping and surveying all of the tiny pearls that were stitched on. I truly am humbled to think that anyone would take the amount of time that she did, for me. She truly is an artist with a needle and thread. The above photo does not do justice to it. Each and every letter is tiny pearls, sown on by hand.On our living room wall is another one of my aunt's creations. Another detailed, perfectly done, tiny pearls, and a gold bow masterpiece! Once again, this photo does not clearly show the FINE features of this counted cross-stitched piece. I wanted to share these few pieces with you. In this busy world, it is important to take time to observe artwork done by special people in your world. Judy


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