Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I had to take a moment

to answer this question from Dianne:

I want to know-who took the photos of your feet? ; )
and Kathy:
I'm with Dianne: how did you get those pics of your feet? I can imagine some pretty funny contortions . . .

Well, ladies, I am able to do all sorts of things now that my arms are so limber from those morning exercises...LOL.

I just stood my camera on the floor and set it to automatically take the picture.
Very simple. :)

As long as I'm posting, I may as well show you the two blocks I made tonight.

Can you tell it's an angel?

I'm having a bit of difficulty remembering how to put on a mitered corner binding. I am fully frustrated and have given up for tonight. I tried to drown my frustration with some butter pecan ice cream. It did seem to help a little--especially the second bowl.
*big chubby grin*

I am planning to give these to people for little Christmas gifts IF I can get the binding to look good. I sure don't need a dozen more. Last year I made myself some dandy bluejean potholders that are still in excellent condition (I posted about them last spring). I use them all the time to set under hot dishes on the counter.

I have a SIL who likes cats, so my next one has a cat face in the center.

Hope you all enjoy what's left of your Wednesday evening.

Santa Clause Has Come to Town

Thousands of wide-eyed spectators lined our downtown streets last Friday evening as the jolly old guy himself made his official appearance to northeast Michigan.

Unfortunately I did not go.

From all news accounts, I missed a pretty decent parade. For years, our Christmas parade has always been held the Friday after Thanksgiving during the daytime. I’ve never been able to attend as I've always worked that day. Now the parade is at night and is receiving enthusiastic reviews, but I’ve grown accustomed to not attending. Though I mentioned going to DH, when the time came, we both decided to sit it out.

Maybe next year.

Did you attend a Christmas parade this year?

Piecing my Nights Away

I've been experimenting with the 101 Log Cabin Blocks book I bought a few weeks ago.

I really enjoy making log cabin blocks. You never really know what you will end up with.
This is the start of a block. I'm thinking, "Hmmmm...Am I doing this correctly?"
It turned out to be the one in the bottom of the photo above. The one that sort of looks like a large pinky-peachy flower.

This setting is just a courthouse steps log (for those familiar with quilting), but I think the bunny center is so cute.

I am going to turn these into potholders. I've pinned some binding on this little house block.
I like the really thin little roof line on this one. When I look at this block, I get the feeling that it should be hanging near an old wood stove in a log cabin in the woods.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Poinsettia Christmas Tree

Yesterday I did another tree at work (while mine still sit naked at home).
That is why I have always decorated at home first. This year I did not and am having a tough time trying to get in the mood to do it.
Oh well, it will get done eventually.
This tree is in the dining room at work. It is just red poinsettias, gold bows, some ribbon and some gold/red balls with glitter-covered ferns to stick out here and there.

I did not even realize that they are using red napkins in the restaurant. It's a perfect match even though I had no idea it would be. I basically grabbed whatever I could find and started sticking it on the tree.

It only took 45 minutes to do and I'm happy with it.

Even though it took less than one hour to do, I ended up with a sore foot.

I guess these are not the shoes to wear to decorate.

Ah, it felt good to get back to my desk and kick them off!

Before I left home yesterday morning, I laid out my new lounging p.j.'s that I bought this weekend. They are big and comfy and I was very happy to get home and jump right into them.

Ah, it felt good to get into comfy duds!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving Leftovers

I bet you will never guess what I made from the last of my TG leftovers of mashed potatoes and squash.

How about Lasagna?

Granted, it's not your typical tomato-based Italian lasagna, but we thought it was quite good.

I used a bechamel sauce (that's the white sauce in the pan, which is simply equal parts butter and flour (a roux) and milk. I used 1/4 cup butter & flour and probably 1.5 or 2 cups milk. I did not measure the milk. Just slowly add enough so that the sauce is the consistency of a thick spaghetti sauce. I seasoned it with just salt and black pepper.

I put a few spoonful of the white sauce on the bottom of the lasagna dish so the noodles would not stick. Then I put down 2 noodles. I put the mashed potatoes on top of the noodles with just a bit of bechamel. Then two more noodles.

I put some more bechamel on top of the noodles.

Then added the squash and half of the three medium onions I caramelized.

Add two more noodles (You will use a total of 6 noodles for a small pan like I made). If they are a little long for the pan, just fold them inside.

Pour the remainder of the onions on top of the two noodles. Top with the remaining bechamel and spread evenly. Cover with foil and bake for about 1/2 hour at 350 degrees. If you like cheese, pull it out now and throw some cheese on top. Bake just until the cheese is melted--about 20 minutes more.

Let it rest at least 10 minutes before cutting.

I can't fit any more pics on this post, so will add the finished product below.

It was very rich and sweet with the roasted squash and the caramelized onions giving it the sugary taste. A very small wedge is really all that would be needed as a side dish to the baked ham dinner I made.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

It's Hard to Believe a Dead Poultry Carcass

can make something so tasty!

On Thanksgiving day, I immediately threw the carcass in a pot of water and let it simmer for about 4 hours. I left the bones in the pot and refrigerated it for 36 hours, then strained it all Saturday to make this soup. I was quite surprised to find that I actually got a flavorful broth (previous attempts have not been so successful).

So far I have not been motivated to begin my Christmas decorating. Everything is sitting just as it was in yesterday's photos.

This morning I've been caught up in playing with these red, white, blue strips of fabric.

Sometimes I just feel like sitting at the machine and making blocks. I find it quite amazing that these 1.5 inch strips turn into something like these blocks!

I'm not even sure what I will do with them. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I Think I am Going to Fall in Love Next Week

I can't guarantee it, but I'm expecting that I will be falling head over heels just
as soon as I receive these Wusthof knives I just ordered for myself.

I'm feeling a bit of a thump in the old ticker just looking at these pictures

This is not a decision I've made lightly. At a cost of more than my first monthly mortage payment (in 1974), I have expended a considerable amount of thought before I hit the send button. Last year I bought one really good knife and now that I know what it's like to chop with quality, I've been wanting to buy more.

This morning I decided the time had come and I went to the only local store in town that sells Wusthof to buy a set. The price of Wusthof is pretty much the same everywhere, so I thought I would support the local economy. Sure enough the price was the same at my local store, but if I ordered on line, I would get these two free gifts:

A knife sharpener

and a cutting board.

I also would pay no tax and no shipping. My quick calculations indicated about $43 of added value. So I ordered online. I am, after all, a frugal shopper.

There comes a time in a woman's life when she says, "I deserve quality." Then she goes out and buys whatever it is that makes her feel like a million bucks.

I know I am going to relish the moment when I julienne that first carrot with my precision forged, hand honed, smooth, classically shaped full tang handled, triple riveted 8-inch chef's knife.

Out with the Autumn Decor

All the Thanksgiving dishes have been put away, the tablecloth is in the washing machine, and the sunflower bouquets have been taken to the garage.

Two old ugly Christmas trees have been hauled up from the basement and sit naked as anchors to each end of the long dining table.

This poor guy needs a little tender loving attention. :)

I have emptied the china cabinet . As soon as I figure out where to put all of these dishes, I will have an empty slate to begin my Christmas decorating.
At the moment I have no idea what I am going to do.

Right now I have to get dressed and run into work for just a short time. Maybe some idea will pop into my mind while I am counting money at work.

Inflatable Holiday Decor

What’s with the recent fad of inflatable holiday decorations?

I just don’t get the warm holiday fuzzies from these things.

Giant Santas, sleighs, elves and snow globes are staked and tethered to the ground. Some people actually like them so much they buy more than one. There were four of the monstrosities flapping in the wind in a yard I passed yesterday. There was no rhyme or reason to their placement. They were just plopped down wherever the owners could find a space big enough.

I mean, really, WHO could possibly want this in their yard?

Ugh! What a waste of electricity.

Bah Humbug!

That’s all I have to say.

Friday, November 24, 2006


who asked about a few recipes from Thanksgiving.
The dressing has no recipe. I just throw stuff in. I used unseasoned croutons. I did caramelize about 4 medium onions before tossing them in (about double what you see here, I did two batches), about 4 cups chopped celery, about 2 tsp poultry seasoning, salt pepper and quite a few of my very own sage leaves.
The plant on the deck is still producing sage. I've been growing it for two years and this is the first time I've used any of it.

I took those little sage leaves rolled them into a tube and produced a rather nice little "chiffonade" of fresh herbs (not to be confused with a "julienne", which is a less delicate cut. LOL, see I've learned a little something from all that Food TV I watch!

Lovely as the "chiffonade" was, I decided I wanted them smaller, so I sliced through them a few more times and ended up with more of a "dice".
I used chicken broth for the liquid (about 3 - 4 cups).

The cranberry sauce is one 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries, one apple peeled and chopped, 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Boil just until the cranberries pop. Remove from heat and put in a splash of strawberry extract (that's what I'm holding in the photo). Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

And last, but not least, those buttery flaky rolls..........Go to your local Walmart bakery. I've found that they do a better job than I, so why compete? :)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I Hope You All Had A Wonderful Thanksgiving

Cool Slideshows

In Michigan we can give thanks

for BEAUTIFUL weather today.
I have everything under control and thought I would go outside and trim my shrubs. If you remember, I was waiting to do it so I could use the foliage. I decided to redo the wreath I make a few weeks ago. I had to make it more Christmasy looking.

I left most of the dried weeds and the bow in place. Then I needed to figure out a quick easy method to secure the branches. I went down to basement and saw this hanger already twister for some other need. I grabed it and wrapped it around the floral foam.

It will work. I know, I know, that orange is not exactly in the color scheme. But don't worry, you won't even see it when I'm done.

I secured it by just twisting around the back. Then I took my branches and removed a few inches of greens so I could shove them into the dry foam. I grabbed a branch, used my gloved hand to pull off the bottom greenery and stuck it in the foam. It took about 15 minutes.

Then I added the few weeds I had removed and it was done.

I will be using some of the other branches for inside decorating this weekend. For now they will sit in the bucket of water and absorb as much moisture as they can before I bring them in the house.

Off now to get the bird in the oven!

Pumpkin roll with orange center & Pumpkin Bread Recipe

I made another Libby's pumpkin roll yesterday. I had about a 1/2 cup of leftover pumpkin and decided to toss it into the filling with just a pinch of orange zest.

I ended up with a nice orange color in the center and more pumpkin flavor which I liked quite well.

I also found my Starbuck's pumpkin bread recipe and made two more of those....sort of....I changed the recipe and ended up with this Pumpkin bread chocked full of walnuts and milk chocolate chips. I am eating a piece right now with a cup of coffee. It is delish!

I think I've changed the recipe enough that I can now post it without getting into trouble. I also added all the spices as the original had none. So for all of you googling for the pumpkin bread recipe, here is my spiced up version:

Zoey's Pumpkin ChocoNut Bread

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
4 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup vegetable oil
about 1/2 cup choc. chips
about 1/2 cup walnuts - I just threw in a couple handfuls.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

Beat the sugars, eggs, and vanilla until well combined. Add the pumpkin and oil and beat for about 6o seconds.

Gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet, using the stir feature of the electric mixer. Mix until just combined. Do not over mix. Toss in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Pour into a well greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes at 350 degrees F. Start checking at one hour by sticking a skewer into the center. The loaf is done when it comes out dry. I had to cook mine for 70 minutes.

I doubled the recipe and made two loaves because it's just as easy to do two and freeze them as it is one.

If you use the 29-ounce can of Libby's Pumpkin, you can make two pumpkin loaves and one pumpkin roll with the pumpkin filling.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Let's talk about.............Measuring cups

I've got a few different kinds.

See the plastic gold ones? I must have had those babies since the 1970's.

I don't know where I got the one single metal one. I always liked that one, but its desirability lessened the same day its handle fell off in my hand.

The heavy plastic one on the lower left was always nice, too. But as you can see, that handle is also broken.

These batch of measuring cups is semi-retired. They served me well over the years, but now I bring them out only when I need duplicates (which is actually quite often).

But the real workers in my kitchen now are these long handled dry measuring cups.

I've had them for quite a few years.

They are great for dipping into my big jars of flour and sugar (yes, Sissy, they are old olive/pickle jars from the restaurant).
See how they fit in so nicely and go way down to the bottom? No more dipping the big spoon in trying to load the cup as its held over top the jar.

They are also very easily leveled off
Yes, the are a good thing.

The only problem is my set only came with 1/2, 1/3, and 1/4 cup measures. I sure would like to find a one cup and 1/8 cup.

Maybe Santa's elf will read this and I will find them in my Christmas stocking. Last year I mentioned a few things in my blog and they were all under the tree on Christmas day.

Imagine that!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Enjoying the Small Moments of Life

I love it when I take the time to enjoy the small things in everyday life.
They don't come much smaller than this....

These are my vitamins.

(one multi, C, B, & calcium)
I put them in one of those little pill containers so that I know if I've forgotten to take them. While filling the container last night, I noticed how colorful they looked under these flowers. I thought they were pretty enough for a picture.

It's just a simple thing I do daily.
Today I took a moment to appreciate the experience.

I like that.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Just Waiting for the Turkey.....

I don't often set the table in just one china pattern, but today I used all Vernon Kilns dishes, called Fruitdale, a pattern that dates from the late 1940's. I think this china is just beautiful. It may be my favorite pattern to look at with no food on it. (It's not so beautiful filled with food.)

Here's my take on the pumpkin turkey. My orange pumpkin was just too bold with these dishes so I had to come up with something more in tune with the table.

I used one of my newly-purchased fake gourds secured (with earthquake putty) to a glass canister turned on it's side with purple daisies and yellow statice as the tail.

So the table is already set for Thanksgiving. .. 5 days early.... but, hey, who's counting? LOL.

I have to do a working woman's holiday... you learn to do these things when you have the the time. My squash is already cooked and in the freezer, too. I bought premade apple dumplings with cinnamon sauce that I just have to put in the oven for one hour, so dessert is all planned. I may sprinkle some of those pumpkin bread crumbs around & atop the apple.

So everything is going smoothly so far.

Judging by what people are searching for, it looks like lots of people have Thanksgiving on their minds. I've had TONS of searches for pumpkin roll, pumpkin roll breaking, and how to make turkeys out of gourds. If you are one of the people who found me with those searches, I hope you find some helpful info here!

Sunday Morning Cooking

This has not been a very successful Sunday morning cooking session.

I decided to make some more pumpkin bread and could not find my Starbuck's recipe that DH & I enjoyed so much. I did find somebody's grandma's favorite pumpkin bread recipe. So I made that.

Well, all I can say is if that's the best that grandma ever had, I feel sorry for the poor dear.

I really did not want to throw it in the garbage. It had a nice spicey pumpkin flavor, but the texture was the pits. So I decided to crumble it all up and toast it.
After it is toasted, I will turn it into crumbs in the food processor.

I am thinking it may make a nice little graham cracker-type crust for a pumkin cheesecake. It could also be sprinkled between layers for a pumpkin trifle. I will just stick it in the freezer until I get the urge to experiment.

I made some pumpkin spiral cookies that spread too much. They tasted OK, but were way too much work.

They had to be rolled just like the pumpkin roll cake.

I took lots of detailed pictures thinking they would be wonderful and I would post the directions for everyone.The appearance/taste payoff was not worth the effort so I won't bother giving you the recipe.

I also made two meatloaves. One is for dinner tonight and the second is in the freezer. I think they turned out fine.

The oven is now set on clean and I am off to tidy up the big mess I made of the kitchen.

The pumpkin bread crumbs turned out great.
I now have a full Folgers can of them in the freezer.
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