Sunday, May 31, 2009

Nature's Beauty

"He leads beside quiet waters, He restores my soul" Psalms 23: 2 & 3. I am thankful today for needed times of quiet and restoration. Wishing you a relaxing day!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

My Memories Of Dinner On The Range

As some of you might know, my brother-in-law is a co-manager of a guest ranch in the Rocky Mountains. He and his family live high in the mountains, and he fulfills all of the many duties required to have a guest ranch run smoothly. Words cannot be found to adequately describe the beauty and the uniqueness of this place. Even though it has been over a year since our visit, the memories are still fresh in my mind. The pictures I am sharing with you today are of our memorable "dinner on the range." We left the ranch on horseback and road quite a distance up the mountain.

We left our horses tied on the fence rail at the top of the range. If you take notice, the outhouse is in the background. All of the comforts of home at the top of the mountain.

Hard at work, the ranch hands and cooking staff were preparing our dinner on the grill. The view at this spot was spectacular, and the aromas were so inviting.

My BIL giving dinner instructions to the guests. His warm personality and great sense of humor go together, making him a host that guests remember.

The picnic tables, with the blue and white checked tablecloths added the perfect western flair to this dinner on the range.

Warm homemade apple crisp and vanilla ice cream was the best finish for the meal. Coffee...lots of hot coffee in blue agateware just does not get any better than this.

The ranch hands and wranglers conversing after dinner. They come from many different areas of the United States to work on this ranch, and quickly become good friends.

My brother-in-law taking time out of his duties to listen to his daughter's words of concern. Father second, as it should be.

As darkness set in, we headed back to the lodge, carrying with us a very. special, outdoor summer memory.

Friday, May 29, 2009

More Simple, Quick Ideas From My Kitchen

She is one of my oldest daughter's good friends. She is already a busy mother of boys and two weeks ago, she gave birth to a precious little girl. My daughter was going to visit her today and I wanted to send along a small congratulations gift. I decided to go with this very practical gift, since she already has young children at home,and cooking is still required in her life. I found an old tin tray for 1.00 at a flea market which I used to hold this gift. I read recently in one of the many cooking magazines that I pick up, that in a recent taste test kitchen, this "Krusteaz' pancake mix, won hands down in the taste department. I purchased two boxes of the mix, a glass cannister from Walmart, a scoop(which came 3 in a pack) at Walmart, and a container of Log Cabin syrup. What do you need to whip up a batch of these pancakes? You only add water, blend and cook on lightly greased griddle(unless you feel like adding chocolate chips or blueberries). Now how easy is that for a busy mom! On the front of this tray, I added a small vase of roses from my garden.
Completed tray of breakfast food. Added small vase with pink roses and a homemade "congratulations" card. Hopefully, this gift will save a new mother some time in the kitchen.

Glass container filled with pancake mix and scoop.

And an extra box of mix. On the back of this box, I read that "it began in 1932 with the women of a Seattle bridge club and a great idea for an easy-to-make pie crust. Since then Krusteaz--a clever mix of "crust" and "ease"--has come to stand for homemade goodness. Krusteaz pancakes cook up light, fluffy and delicious. One bite and you will know why Krusteaz is such a cherished Northwest tradition." I am not pushing this brand, you can use the brand of your choice.

My oldest grandson is having a sleepover tonight, with some of the guys from his youth group. I did not have much time, so I whipped up one of my husband's favorite oatmeal and butterscotch bars to share with the guys. I set the pink roses beside the plate of bars, only for this picture as I as sure they would not impress a group of middle school guys.

These simple, quick bars are so convenient to make. Pictured above is all that is needed. I keep packs of these Betty Crocker Oatmeal cookies on hand in my pantry, for times like this. It seems like I am often in need of covered dish desserts, gifts, and treats to serve with coffee for friends that stop over.

In one bowl, I melt a stick of butter, beat in one egg, and 1 TBSP. of water. Blend thoroughly.

Add dry cookie mix(purchased in the cake isle at Walmart, or the local grocery store), stir until moistened. At this point I add 1 cup of butterscotch or chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts to the batter. This is optional. I pour the batter into a sprayed jelly roll pan or a 9 x 13 inch pan and bake in a 350 degree oven(on the middle shelf), for 25 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove from oven, cool, cut into squares, and watch the pieces disappear(especially when young guys are around). I am well aware that there are many great recipes out there for oatmeal bars...but just in case you are crunched for time these might work for you.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Dairy Queen" Fun

They are only now discovering the magical joy of a custard ice cream cone and it has opened up a whole new world to them. The afternoon at the playground was lots of fun. The swinging, the sliding, the climbing and the running wore them out. We stopped at the Dairy Queen for a quick lunch before nap time. Then of course there was time for the tiny ice cream cones after lunch. What a hit!! It is universal...the ice cream cone has been a hit with children for many years.

She could not believe that she had her very own cone, and no one seemed bothered that she made a mess eating it. This all seemed too good to be true in her mind.

Even the youngest one caught on quickly. When mommy would get preoccupied...she would be quick to remind her that she wanted more. Special memories created on a warm Spring afternoon. Thank you DQ for continuing your tradition of bringing happiness to children and adults alike.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Paula's Stoneware and Mom's Banana Bread

It has been months since I walked into an Ollie's Store and it may be months before it happens again, but in the back of the middle of the store was a huge display with a buyout of Paula Deen Cookware. Hundreds of her "Signature Collection" oven to table stoneware, ironware, muffin tins, cake pans and kitchen utensils. I could tell as I picked up different of the pieces, that this was good quality cookware. I purchased two 9" x 5" loaf pans, one for me and one for a friend with a birthday coming soon.

Since I spend considerable time in the kitchen baking and cooking, I am always in need of sturdy spatulas. I purchased two packs of her well made wooden silicone pack for me and one for my friend to go along with the loaf pan for her birthday. The stoneware looks and feels like hand-thrown pottery, and has a raised swirl pattern. But the best part was the price...$6.99.

On my kitchen counter were some very ripe bananas, which lead me to the recipe I found in the blog world, a few weeks ago. I tried this recipe once before and it became an instant hit with my family and friends. This recipe was shared by "cottagebythesea" blog. It was handed down to this friend by her mother and it called "Mom's Banana Bread". I am well aware that there are probably hundreds of banana bread recipes in cookbooks today, and I have tried many of them. Let me tell you , this is definitely one of our new favorites!! In fact, when I took the loaves from the oven last evening and shared some with my husband, he does what he always does when I try new recipes, at my request he rates them on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best. You are probably thinking by now, that we must be a wild and crazy couple at this house...with events like this taking place, and you are right!! Seriously, I will share this recipe with you, or you can visit "cottagebythe sea" blog and see her beautifully photographed version of the recipe. So, just in case you find yourself with overly ripe banana on your kitchen counter, or you happened upon a Paula Deen cookware display at your local Ollie's, this recipe may come in handy for you today.

1 1/2 cups of flour

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs, well beaten

1/4 tea. salt

4 TBS. sour cream

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup mashed banana

1 tsp. vanilla

3/4 cup of chopped toasted walnuts

In hot skillet brown walnuts for 2 - 3 minutes. Cool.

In large bowl cream the butter and sugar. Add beaten eggs. Dissolve baking soda in sour cream and add to the batter. Add mashed bananas, flour, salt, vanilla and nuts. Mix well. Bake at 325 degreess, in 9 x 13 inch pan for 45 minutes- 1 hour. If using loaf pans, bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes, or until firm to touch. You can also bake this in muffin tins for 25 - 30 minutes. Serve warm. It was stated on the cottage by the sea blog," that this recipe is moist and yummy because of the sour cream". I agree. What takes it up a few notches for me, are the toasted walnuts.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Head For The Country With Me

I headed for the country last week one day. I was invited to the home of one of my friends. It was the last of our yearly Bible Study meetings and one of our leaders invited us to her home for lunch. Now I do admit I live in an area of the world that would be considered mostly farmland, although I do not personally live on a farm. My friend's home is a thirty minute drive from where I live, although because the drive is mostly rural it feels like it is a day trip, with many winding back roads. Driving over this bridge is fascinating to me and the scenery below is beautiful!

When I finally arrive at her home I feel like I am stepping back into history. It is a lovely old farmhouse that her husband's family lived on when he was a boy. It is surrounded by acres of gorgeous farmland for as far as one can see.

This old "welcome" sign and bell were just one of the indications that our friend's warm and cordial personality. This friend is one that could write a book on creative, thrifty living. Her and her family have transformed this old farmhouse. Each room has been torn apart and redone to look like it should belong in a Country Living magazine page.
Our hostess greets each of us with a hot cup of coffee or tea all on a specially designed coffee station. It is the perfect place to have ready for whenever, and whoever stops for coffee.

I like how she lined the shelf below the mirror with any choice one could want for a hot beverage. Simply pick up a mug, add the hot water and grab a chair...

Speaking of chairs...our friend's husband is a "jack of all trades", although his official title is master wood worker. He creates, builds, buys, tears apart and rebuilds wood everything. He built this island for his wife out of old wooden shutters and old doors, then painted them a soft gray, added the laminate(which looks like one of those expensive counter tops) , added a few chairs and she has the island she dreamed of.

He enclosed her porch, creating a lovely eating area. She bought fabric and made the tablecoverings, added glass vases and flowers from her garden. This porch area looked like it was one of the old southern porches of yesterday. But, the best part of the porch is the view...the exquisitely gorgeous view!

If you look in one direction from the porch you will see acres and acres of pine trees...4,000 was the count quoted. Yes, this is the Christmas tree farm where our family has been choosing, cutting and bagging our tree for many years. I was told it takes seven years from the time a tree is planted until it is big enough to be cut for a Christmas tree. So you see this family knows the meaning of hard work.

If you look in another direction from the porch this is the scene you will see...acres and acres of farmland. It is a peaceful, quiet, beautiful privilege to take in this scenery.

Back to lunch on the porch. These delicious hot from the oven, ham and cheese sandwiches were served to us. And yes, true to who she is she made the yeast rolls too. I can remember the taste as I am writing this.

One of our dear friends enjoying her lunch.

Our hostess grows and cans many foods. I thought it looked so nice how she had her canned goods lined so attractively on wooden shelves. Maybe I was so intriqued by this because I do not can food myself, although I have been the lucky recipient of some jars of her canning expertice.

The property of this farm was surrounded by numerous huge old trees creating lots of shade from the warm afternoon sun. And flowers were starting to grow everywhere I looked. Our friend's love of flowers, growing and arranging were evident in her many gardens. I found myself wondering how she does it all. For not growing up as a farm girl, she has certainly learned her trade well. No wonder she teaches classes to young women from all walks of life, on how to cook, bake, preserve food through canning and freezing, grow flowers, clean, sew clothing, shop garage sales and flea markets...basically how to live without spending much money. She has mastered it...I know that for a fact.

As I drove down the road from her house on my way home, I thought about how needed her wisdom will be now and in the future, with the economic conditions as we are seeing them and experiencing now. How helpful advice like hers will be to everyone learning to survive in a totally different economic climate, than the one we have been used to in this country. Her informative classes may have waiting lists.

On my return trip over the bridge and back home, I was thankful once again for the many lessons I continually learn from friends in all walks of life, and how a visit in the country was just the refreshing break I needed in my busy schedule.

Monday, May 25, 2009

My Memorial Day Blessings...

I walked to the mailbox, flipped through the pieces of mail, discovered an envelope with the most creatively painted tags in it. It was a giveaway that I won from Laurie at "". She is an exceptional artist producing many beautiful and unique creations. I enjoy each visit to her blog because of the many small, one- of- a -kind masterpieces that I find there. Visit it and I am sure you will agree with me. I am thrilled to have these delicately painted tags in my possession. Laurie, your gift is included in my blessing list for the weekend.

After an eventful visit to the local ice cream shop on Friday evening, we put the three little ones we were babysitting, into the bathtub before bedtime. The littliest one was thrilled to now be old enough to sit in the big tub with her siblings. This smile definitely is included in my list of holiday blessings.

My two pots of flowers that I picked up from the farm greenhouse a few miles away. The young lady who owns this small shop definitely has an eye for color and texture. These pots are so beautifully done and fit right into my blessing category for the weekend.

Last but not least, was the perfectly designed sunset that graced the sky on our Saturday evening motorcycle ride. A maginificent blessing from the Master Creator Himself, for our pleasure and enjoyment. Thank you God for this unexpected surprise. In the midst of daily life these blessings encouraged my heart, this Memorial Day weekend.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Winner Is...

We put all of your names in this bowl. My husband took his part seriously, stirring the pile of names many times. The winner is...

Stacey from "". Congratulations to you Stacey! If you have not visited her blog, please do so. She has a lovely blog filled with lots of beautiful colors, many interesting stories and fascinating photos. Her gardening skills are enviable. To all of the rest of you, thank you for your visits and all of your many kind comments. What joy you have all added to my world of blogging.

This photo depicts a peaceful, relaxing day in the park, and that is what I wish for each of you on this Memorial Day weekend. May we never forget those who fought to keep the freedom we so cherish. `photo from a past issue of Country Living magazine.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Blog Give-Away

When I first sat down to the computer beside my daughter a little over one year ago, with very little computer knowledge, I had no idea where this endeavor would take me. This weekend will be the 300th time I sat down to this computer and shared a post with all of you. I am totally amazed at what a blessing the blogging world has become to me. The friendships I've made, the places I have been privileged to visit(via the blogs), the recipes I have tried and kept, the decorating tips and dreams I have acquired, and the spiritual encouragement I has all been a very special gift to me. In light of one of the purposes of this blog, I have created a simple, homemade gift to give away to one of you.

I purchased this unfinished wooden tray from the clearance shelf at Michaels, for $ 4.00. I painted it with an antique tan paint, embellished it with faux flowers, tiny crystals, and a butterfly. On one of my visits to the HomeGood's Store I found a box with six glass mugs. They can be used for any hot or cold drinks. On a visit to an antique mall last summer, I found the crystal creamer and the glass sugar holder. This tray will be easy to carry to the table when serving your guests coffee or tea, after dinner.

I have the right packaging for mailing this tray and the contents. For the next two days, I will collect all comments made on this blog. You may comment more than once if you wish to. I will store them in a crock until Saturday morning. At that time my husband will choose one name for the winner.

It is a simple, inexpensive creation, but it includes a great big, heartfelt thankyou from me, to you. You...each one of you, the ones that commment and the ones that do not, have been the richest and most rewarding blessing to me. I cannot begin to tell you how much I have learned and continue to learn from each of you. "Some people make the world more special just by being in it." quote from Linda LaTourelle


Related Posts with Thumbnails