Monday, December 28, 2009

Just What I Wanted.

Last Wednesday the coversation in my house went something like this-

Me: Um, Mr. Smith, do we have any electrical tape?
Mr. Smith: I think so. Why?
Me: Well, because every time I use the iron, it tries to electrocute me.
Mr. Smith: Oh.
Children in my craft room: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!



That's because they had already bought me this for Christmas.
How sweet was that?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas.


It's been a perfect day at the Smith house as we reflected on the birth of the Savior and shared gifts of the heart. Breakfast has been consumed and we are all ready for a little nap.
I hope your Chrstmas has been just as wonderful!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

One Star.

This song is performed and written by my friend, David Edge. I am so happy to be able to share it with you on this Christmas Eve.





Merry Christmas to you, my sweet friends. I wish each of you peace and joy this Christmas season and always.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wish.

Earlier this week I received a little brown box from my friend Robin. She shares the loveliest photos on her blog and, on one particular day, she posted one that made me catch my breath.
I e-mailed Robin with a little request- would she send me one of the things that she had photographed. With a reply of Yes! Yes! Yes!, she gathered the bits of stuff and packaged them up and sent them to me. Can you guess what they are?



Look how sweetly she wrapped them. You would think it was the most treasured thing on earth.



For me it was, because this tiny bag made from the tattered remnant of an old quilt held memories of my childhood - milkweed pods, fairies and wishes.

The memory is clear. Hundreds of opportunities dancing on breezes waiting to be caught. My small self chasing them through the field asking them to slow just a little so I could catch one. One was all that was needed to wish upon.



Inside these seeds are the beginnings of wistful childhood dreams.
I will plant some and hope that they grow. If not, I now have a jarful that can be released on a whim.



My children are now adults and have missed the magic and charm of milkweed fairies. I've never seen them here in Georgia. But, one day, they will have children of their own and this grandmother will be ready to give her grandchildren a memory of chasing shimmering strands of floss across a golden field hoping to cradle one in their hand and whisper a wish.



All because a friend heeded the request of a woman sitting at her computer reminiscing about her childhood.
Thank you, Robin, for your kindness and recognizing the need for me to be that small one chasing fairies through a field. Perhaps that is the thing that has been missing all along.
Tell me, if a fairy landed in your hand, what would you wish for?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ho Ho Holly Brooch

Yesterday afternoon my friends Cilla and Tara and I gathered for craft day. We wanted to make something easy, but cute, that would not take a lot of time. (Mostly because Cilla had prepared an English tea for us with egg salad and cucumber sandwiches, tea cakes, tiny mincemeat pies, sausage rolls, a beautiful Victoria sponge and wassail which made our tummies rumble.)
We chose to make Heather Bailey's super cute holly brooches. We took some liberties with ours but they have that same holly-jolly feel to them.



A few yo-yos, fabric scraps, some red wool felt (actually from an old winter coat), some buttons and winter white wool felt for the leaves and voila! Cutey-cute-cuteness. We each wore ours to church today. I'm sure everyone wished they had a Ho Ho Holly brooch to wear. ha ha
I have more in the works to give as gifts and to use as package decorations.
Thank you, Heather, for having such a clever brain. Making your pin made our icy cold, rainy Saturday much more palatable. Well, that and a slice of Victoria sponge.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Happy.

It really takes so little.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Moultin' Chicken

It sounds a bit like a spicy Latin dish, doesn't it? Although, I don't think that Pearl would appreciate that I said that. The poor baby is moulting and she looks horrible.

I am so glad that we don't look like this when we moult!
Thank goodness the hair on our heads is much more forgiving.


I am thinking of making her a little fleece coat so that she can stay warm, perhaps something in a nice mustard color to coordinate with her feathers.
Hmm, chicken covered in mustard...........
I'm sorry, Pearl. Please forgive me.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

PW

Yes, that PW! Last night I dragged my friend, Cilla, to the Border's book store on Peachtree Street in Atlanta to meet Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman and author of the much coveted The Pioneer Woman Cooks! cookbook.
I thought that we should leave early, about 5 o'clock, as the book signing was to begin at 7:30 pm. Our trip through Atlanta was remarkably uneventful with just a hint of heavy traffic.
After navigating our way around the Phipp's Plaza, Lenox Square area of Peachtree Street we finally arrived at Border's about 6:15. Finding a parking spot was a bit of a challenge as I drove the truck and the parking lot was a buzz with tiny little cars whipping about me like drones to daisies. At last I found our spot, rock star parking really, right in front of the store.
My thoughts of arriving early were clearly present in every other woman in Atlanta, because the store was jam-packed! And the book signing began at 6:00 because there were so many people. Good night above.
Cilla and I purchased our books, placed the green wristbands with the letter E written on them and went upstairs to where the event was being held. On the way up the escalator I noticed a sign for a similar event with Nigella Lawson coming this Friday. All I can say is, if you are planning on going, leave your house very early and arrive at 1:00 in the afternoon. You will thank me later.
We sat for a while and waited as a rather slight man with a very harried expression called out for orange wrist-banded people with the letters A, B and C to move towards the man in the Santa hat to check in. And so it went, all the way through the letters to I. Yes, I. Our prospects were appearing to be very slim of even getting to the point where we could line up to wait in line.
So, we meandered over to the Baby Birthing Book section and took a seat where we fell into conversation with two of the nicest women. One was reading a book on her Kindle and I quickly bombarded her with questions about it. I am now saving my pennies for one. Our conversation turned to a variety of topics- genealogy, the cook book, children and their quirky eating habits, small towns and the minutes quickly passed. At last the much-anticipated time arrived, the even-much-more-so harried man called out, "Green- E." and Cilla and I were on our way!
Not much later, we were the ones standing at the front of the line, watching as Ree gracefully met each of her fans, signing their books and engaging in conversation that was only for them.
I can tell you she is lovely, inside and out and very, very patient. I would be incredibly intimidated by the fact that there were literally hundreds of people coming to meet me and yet you could not see that in her face at all. She was calm, poised, genuine and, for the brief time I stood by her, engaging and attentive, as were her sister, Betsy and friend, Hyacinth, who tagged along. Bless them all.
If you have the chance to see Ree on the last leg of her book tour, go. It will be worth the wait as you make new friends, pester the harried little man in your city and meet someone who really cares that you came and waited just to meet her.


Cilla and Ree.


Cilla with Betsy and Hyacinth.



Me with Ree.



Me with Betsy and Hyacinth.
Thank you, ladies, for making this Monday night one I will not soon forget.


Monday, December 7, 2009

This Boy.

Is coming home in 12 days.

I cannot wait.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My. Head. Hurts.

I'm not feeling up to par today. My cheekbones feel like pins are being shot into them and I think I need a nap. I'm sure that tomorrow will be better. :)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Turkey-schmurkey and a Little Elf

I think that if I never see another bite of turkey again, it will be too soon. Although, my family is doing a splendid job of comsuming what appeared to be a mountain of it in the refrigerator. We've made turkey sandwiches, creamed it and put it on toast, cooked it up with eggs for breakfast and it will be going into soup tomorrow. Yikes! I know they are the little bird of thriftiness but, really, you can have too much. I think I'll freeze the soup.
To work off all that turkey, my sister, niece and I have been creating. This is what I've been working on:



Oh, dear. This is a terrible picture! But, it will have to do as this little elf is packed up and will be traveling home with my sister today. My niece's school has a silent auction on Friday and this little bit of impishness will be on the table. Gee, I hope she does well!
I will be making one more this week, for a gift. They are a little labor-intensive but I love making them. It's funny how all of my elves and fairies have that same wide smile. They all look like my grandmother!
I hope you all had a lovely weekend and have recovered from your Thanksgiving feasts! Please don't send me turkey recipes. I don' t think I could take it. :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Day After

First, my apologies for no pictures. My Thanksgiving day started at 7:30, when I began to prepare the kitchen for the Smith Family Heap-Big Thanksgiving Breakfast Bash. Say that five times fast! This breakfast has been a tradition since I was a little girl, actually, since my mother was a little girl and the menu never varies- fried dough with butter and maple syrup or molasses, bacon, sausage and a fruit of some sort. This year it was orange wedges. I set out ten loaves of frozen bread dough to rise overnight into pillows of puffiness. Now, we cannot eat that much on our own! I had 19 people at my house for breakfast, including seven missionaries with hefty appetites!
The movement in my kitchen was like a strange bird dance- dip, swoop, flip, duck, as my husband and I each did our part. I have charge of the iron skillet frying dough and he has charge of the bacon and sausage. He cooks the bacon in the oven, it's so much easier and quick! Two hours later we had a houseful of fat and happy campers!
Immediately after cleaning up from breakfast, I started to make two banana cream pies for my daughter to take to her friend's house. I owed him a pie for his birthday and I sent one for his family, in case he was not in the mood to share. I whipped up the pie dough in the food processor, chilled it, and started on the filling. I don't use boxed pudding, I make my own using the Fannie Farmer Vanilla Cream Pie 1 recipe. Yum. Only I doubled it and, because I was distracted by my daughter asking me how to roll pie crust, I think I only put in enough corn starch for one batch. She's not awake yet to tell me if her friend's family had banana cream pie or banana cream soup in a crust! Oh, well. It probably tasted okay.
After the pie adventure, I started on dinner- scallop casserole; green bean casserole; carrots in maple-ginger cream sauce; mashed potatoes; mashed sweet potatoes; stuffing with dried cranberries, onions and celery; stuffing with nothing for my brother because, as he said, I didn't want to suffer the after-effects of him eating the other; turkey roasted with rosemary and lemon; a spiral-sliced ham and homemade cheddar biscuits. Plus another banana cream pie for us, with enough cornstarch! Phew!
After the feast, everyone helped pack up leftovers, clean the dishes and I broke out the crafts! It isn't Thanksgiving if the girls don't get to craft. This year we made simple boxes, covered in paper and topped with the trees that I had bleached and dyed, along with copious amounts of glitter. Glitter makes me happy.
I finally stopped at 9:00 PM after spending the day running like a fast-moving train. I am still tired, but, it was a wonderful day. I had my family around me- my husband, my children (minus one), my parents, my brother, my sister and her family and my dad's distant cousin, who lives only an hour and a half away. Not so distant after all. And for all of that, I am very, very grateful. I hope your day was full of good food, good fun and wonderful family memories.
I'm going to eat a piece of pumpkin pie now- for breakfast.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

From our house to yours-


On this day of celebration of the bounty that has been given to us, may you each enjoy it surrounded by your family and friends.

Don't eat too much turkey!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I Heart Thrive!

A few weeks ago I won a giveaway over at the Shelf Reliance blog. The prize was three cans of their Thrive fruit and they arrived yesterday! Oh, my! I was thrilled when I opened the box to find a can each of freeze-dried peaches, bananas and a can of dehydrated apple chips. I opened the bananas right away to munch on and they were delicious!



I can picture banana smoothies made with the banana chips rehydrated in orange juice, or peach cobbler or apple pie! The website has a wonderful recipe section where you can get all sorts of ideas to use your fruits or vegetables.
There are some very cool things on the website for eating and storing a food supply for your family. It makes food storage very, very simple. Go on over and take a gander. And then go to their blog and enter the amazingly huge giveaway they are holding for their 5th birthday! Really, go!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

Last week I drove out to Conyers to go to Hobby Lobby with my mom and a friend. After shopping, we decided that we needed a bit of lunch. We chose Roly Poly Sandwiches as our destination. The sandwiches looked delicious but when I saw mushroom soup on the menu, I knew that was what I would have. Oh, yum.



Of course, you know I came home wanting to make that soup! Last night, I did. Oh, it is wonderful if I do say so myself. Smooth and silky with just the right balance of caramelized onion and mushrooms. Lots of mushrooms.
If you like mushroom soup, you may want to try my version. Warning- it is not low cal! But then, what decent mushroom soup would be?
Karin's Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 lb. pre-sliced crimini (baby portabello) mushrooms
1 lb. pre-sliced button mushrooms
1-2 medium onions, halved and sliced thin
1 quart beef stock or broth
1 pint cream or half & half
butter
flour
salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of fresh thyme (optional- but it is delicious!)
Dash of Kitchen Bouquet (optional)
In a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven add 1 T butter. Add thinly sliced onions and slowly caramelize them over medium heat. Add mushrooms about 10 minutes before onions are done and saute until just soft. Remove onions and mushrooms.
Add 2 T butter back to pan and melt. Add 2 T flour to make a roux and cook for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Slowly add beef stock to roux and blend well. Add back mushrooms and onions and season with salt and pepper. Add thyme, if using. Heat through.
Pour in cream and heat through until soup thickens slightly and mushrooms become soft, being careful not to allow it to boil. Add Kitchen Bouquet to bring up color if desired. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Serves 6.
I had some for breakfast this morning (so I could take the above photo) and I can tell you it is superb the second day! Yum, yum. There's nothing like a bowl of hot soup on a cold day.
I promise, you'll never eat canned again!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Small Gifts

While we were creating the other day, I mentioned that the newest quilt I was working on was made from reproduction feedsack fabric. I love feedsack more than anything. Imagine making something so utilitarian so cute- buy feed for your chickens, etc. and you get fabric to make things with. My mother and her four sisters had skirts, tops and dresses that my grandmother made from feedsacks. I wish they still had them. ;)
Well, Dawn did have one- with sweet blue flowers and red polka dots and she gave it to me as a gift. You could have knocked me over with a feather! I adore it and it will one day be included in a quilt with a place of honor in a special block. I could not thank her enough for such a treasured piece of the past.



She also gave me the other two pieces- one a floral with a mauve background and a mauve velvet. We both decided that the velvet was not very pretty and needed some help. Saturday morning I took out the bleach and filled my kitchen sink with water. Adding a cup of bleach to about 2 gallons of water, I added the velvet and voila! It changed! Only not how I expected it to, it turned bright pink! See?


A quick swish in a bucket of water with a little bit of cocoa brown dye took care of that. It knocked back the color quite a bit. It worked, Dawn! One piece of dirty pink velvet perfect for creating things that need that vintage look you love. :)


The other project I have been working on is a birthday gift for my sister. I started with a 12x12-inch canvas that I covered with a piece of embossed scrapbook paper. I tore and layered on another contrasting piece and then began playing. I had made Dawn a little nest on a branch and why I didn't think to attach it to something I'll never know. But, hindsight is a good thing and I dug through all the stuff in my craft room and made two little assemblages- one for me and one for my sis. The first one is Gayle's:



I found the wire thingy in the parking lot at the Wal Mart, which just goes to show you can find treasures anywhere! The branches are from my parent's front yard and the base is a few shredded dictionary pages. I love how they cushion the nest.



I just added and subtracted until I was happy. It did not take long.
This one is mine:


I think being with Dawn unlocked that place in me that had been ignored far too long.
It's nice to see it again. :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lovely Day

I had the pleasure of spending a few hours yesterday with this girl.



Going to Dawn's house is always a treat. You never know what changes she has made or what new treasure she has aquired. Her home is beautiful, just like she is, and a place where you feel all of your troubles melt away.



We played in her studio. The last time I was there the studio was housed in a small bedroom. Seeing her new, glorious space makes me wonder how she fit all of her supplies in the old one!
It has been far too long since I have sat at a craft table and made something from other than fabric. Quilting has been my focus lately and the paper arts that used to consume me have fallen by the wayside. It was nice to sit with paper and scissors and alter a composition book. We used Dawn's favorite gel medium to glue things down and I am hooked! So much smoother than the other popular decoupage medium and it doesn't smell bad. I know what my next 40% off coupon from Michael's is going towards!



The beginnings of our books. I'm not showing my almost finished top because it shows how rusty I really am. I'll be tweaking it a bit more here at home. Dawn's is much prettier and more thoughtful. Just look at this lovely lady:



Dawn's husband, Dennis, made the most delicious secret sauce for the chicken salad she served on croissants for lunch. She also made spinach dip served with crackers and a luscious cheesecake for dessert. A sweet, simple fare interspersed with happy conversation. Oh, and little Miss Ellie, who waited patiently for someone to drop a tiny morsel just for her. She is the cutest pup on earth.
I left with a lighter heart, a full tummy and a desire to make my home a place where friends can come and play. We don't do that nearly enough.
Thank you so very much, Dawn, for a sweet, peaceful afternoon. It was exactly what I needed.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I'm Off!

To visit Dawn for a day of conversation, munching, laughter and, oh yeah, crafting!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Carnage

Something tells me I had better get cleaning up this mess!



I mean really, how can you get anything done in a place like this?



Well, maybe you can.



Everything is done in chocolate brown, blood red, robin's egg blue and, um, peach. Peach was not our choice. It was the choice of the client and, since she had been stung by a bee the afternoon we met and was in pain, we did not argue. We just glittered the peach roses to bits with MS antique glitter and stuck them in here and there. Not my favorite, but she will like them.
We have everything done for the living room, dining room and hallway. Only the family room left and we can install it all next week! Maybe then I can get my house clean. :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What Is To Become Of All Of This?


My friend, Cilla, and I are getting ready to decorate someone's house for Christmas. This is the cleanest my craft tables are going to look for the next few days. Aaaaahhh!
Stay tuned.........

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Create

Sometimes I just need to be reminded.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Up.

It has been a beautiful day here in Ga.
Especially when you look up.















Sunday, November 1, 2009

Faded Forest and a Little Peek

A little while ago I was reading Karla's blog and swooned over her bleached and dyed Christmas trees. I had to try this myself so yesterday my daughter and I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a few packages of cheap-o bottle brush trees. I could not wait to get home!




I mixed up a batch of bleach and water (1 part bleach to 2 parts water) in an old milk jug. I cut the top off, leaving the handle for support, so I could dip the trees in. It was fascinating to watch as the very green trees turned color. Some of them I only left in a tiny little bit, just to fade the green and others I left in until all of their color had been stripped. A quick bath under the tap and they were done. I mixed up a batch of teal dye and dipped a few of the trees. The green trees were left as is and the others I dipped into a cocoa brown dye. They turned out beautifully, as you can see.



On Thanksgiving Day all of the women will gather in my craft room to create a something using these trees. They may be glittered, adorned or left plain but, whatever happens to them, the trees will be much prettier than they were originally. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures to show you the end result!
Now for the sneak peek! Tina from the Garden Goose and I are swap partners for the Small Town Living garland swap. I can't wait to see what she made for me! She is one very clever girl! Here is a portion of the garland that I made for Tina:



That's all you get because I don't want to totally spoil the surprise.

Friday, October 30, 2009

When I Was Very Young

While my mother was in Massachusetts visiting her sister, my dad took the opportunity to go through old family photos and random negatives. A few of those negatives were of my brother and me. I had them printed up and I got them today.
It looks as though I may have been about four years old, which would have made my brother two at the time. We are only sixteen months apart.



I can tell that these were taken in the summer, as my birthday is in June. I don't remember this party. I wish I did.



But I'm pretty sure that I was excited about it as you can see from this photo. My mother is inside the door probably telling my dad to hurry and take the picture.

My brother Donald and I on the swing set in our back yard. Can you see the fence behind us? I fell over that little fence when I was six and broke my arm. I was trying to catch a ball. When I stood up and straightened my arm out, the bone came shooting out. I spent a week in the hospital. Now that I remember. I don't eat minestrone soup because of that stay. Who feeds minestrone soup to a child who is ill? Mean nurses, that's who!
My brother turned fifty last month and I will be framing up a few shots of him when he was small and sending them to him. He knows something is coming, just not what.
I think he is going to be very surprised! There is nothing like looking back at your childhood when you have reached the half-way point of your life. It keeps you young.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pumpkin Patch Pins

I made these for the women from church that I visit teach.


They were oh, sew easy to make!



Aren't they cute?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sloppy Joes and Bitty Biscuits


I made Sloppy Joes for dinner last night and, because I forgot to buy hamburger buns, I served them on tiny baking powder biscuits. They were delicious, if I do say so myself. Hmm, I think I will. What is it about tiny food that makes me happy? I don't know.
Anyway, I'm sharing the recipe with you just in case you want to make tiny food for your family. I'm sure they will appreciate it!
Sloppy Joes
1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, or 1/4 of a large one, diced small
1 green pepper, diced small
2 cloves minced garlic
Sauce-
2- 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup plus 1 T brown sugar
1 tsp. chili powder
1 T Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all sauce ingredients in a pan and heat through to blend flavors.
In a large skillet, brown ground beef with onions and peppers. Want more flavor to your meat? Allow it to caramelize a bit. Go on, I'll wait.............................................................
Done? Okay. Now add the garlic and saute gently until the garlic permeates the meat, maybe three minutes. Don't burn the garlic. There is nothing that can rescue burnt garlic. Trust me.
Pour 1/2 of the sauce over the meat and heat through. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Why only 1/2? Because you are going to allow the other half to cool and put it in the freezer for the next time you want sloppy joes! Smart, huh?
Bitty Biscuits-
You could make your biscuits from a baking mix but, really, it isn't all that hard to make your own. This is my favorite recipe for baking powder biscuits, from The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook by Christopher Kimball. They are yummy!
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
4 T chilled butter, not margarine, cut into 1 T increments
3 T chilled shortening
2/3- 3/4 cup buttermilk
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Combine flour, salt, baking powder and soda in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse twice to mix.
Add butter, one piece at a time, and pulse once after each addition. Add shortening and pulse 6 more times, or until mixture looks like coarse meal.
Place mixture in a mixing bowl and slowly fold in the buttermilk with a spatula or wooden spoon. When dough begins to hold together, turn out onto a floured surface. You might need a little more or a little less of the buttermilk.
Roll or pat (my preference) dough to 1/2 inch thick. Cut with a 2-inch biscuit cutter, being careful not to twist the cutter. You want those puppies to rise!
Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, turning the baking sheet around once halfway through.
This recipe will make 16 2-inch biscuits, perfect for a family dinner! Want to pump them up? Add 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese. You will probably have to add a little more buttermilk if you do.
So, there you have it- Sloppy Joes with Bitty Biscuits. Nothing tastes better on a chilly Autumn night.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Sweet Giveaway at Fiona and Twig!

Anne from Fiona and Twig (fab name!) is giving away -a $25 Anthropologie gift certificate and an autographed copy of the most amazing book- The Find by Stan Williams. Oh, be still my heart!
Head on over and follow Anne's blog for a chance to win. Or not. I don't mind if you want to let me have all the chances. ;)

All Around The House

Cozy quilts coming out of hiding to take the chill away.

The colors of autumn tucked in a corner.


With all of this string and many extra fingers, I should never forget anything again!


The last bloom of oxalis in my garden.


Moss at my steps creating a spiky miniature forest.


Aw, sweet brother and sister, Tobias and Wednesday.



You know what they say about curiosity and cats don't you, Tobias?



Never fear, you're much too cute!