Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Andy & Helen's Picnic Basket

I have mentioned before that I am a big fan of the Andy Giffith show. I have seen every episode numerous times. I wish I was a 21st century Aunt Bee--a small town socialite with equisite homemaking skills--weekly entertaining, the garden club, the town hall meetings, best friend within walking distance, ladies teas, beauty shop socials--I would love it all.

Unfortunately the only thing I have in common with Aunt Bee is that I live in a small town. I do not get to spend my life honing my homemaking skills, gossiping in the beauty shop or having tea with Clara. But I do enjoy watching the old reruns.

Recently I was sitting right here in my computer chair and watching Andy and Helen take off on a romantic picnic. I did a double take when I saw their picnic basket.

Please forgive the poor quality of the TV screen pics. I just grabbed my camera which is sitting right beside my computer and snapped a couple of shots before the scene changed.

What excited me about that picnic basket, is that I own a very similar basket.
It looks to me like the only difference is the zig zag pattern on Helen's basket.

For some reason owning Helen's basket makes me feel good.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Now That's a Lovely Bunch of Fond

What is fond?
It's a French cooking term that is pronounced just like the baby deer, fawn.

from Wikopedia:
In cooking, fond (French "base") refers to the browned and caramelized bits of meat stuck to the bottom of a skillet after cooking a piece of meat. The fond is the base of many classic pan sauces.

Forgive me if I have shared this little tidbit with you before. After over four years of blogging, I can't remember everything I have posted about. I just find it interesting to learn that there are actually names for those things in life that we never considered had a name.
I have been overwhelmed with the visitors to my other blog. Since Friday I have had almost 20,000 visitors! Only about 200 have commented....did I say "only"? LOL. How do all of you who get tons of comments keep up with them all? I like to acknowledge those that take the time to leave a comment, but I barely have time to read all of them.
So if anyone here has not been acknowledged, please forgive me. I am just not used to all of this attention! Please know that I do appreciate each and every reader, whether you comment or not.

It's still very cold here (11 below when I got to work this morning). At least we didn't get any more snow today. Can you believe that it's the last week of January already? The tulips will be coming up before we know it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Was it the Sauerkraut?

I think Suzy is right about the luck that will be bestowed upon those eating kraut at the new year. Two lucky things happened to me yesterday.

I won a beautiful rooster bowl from Laurie at Bargain Hunting with Laurie. As you all know I am a chicken/rooster collector from way back so I was thrilled to win her giveaway. Click this sentence to see the rooster bowl. I just recently discovered Laurie's blog. We share a table setting/ dish collecting hobby. So a big thank you to Laurie and her husband, who was the one who drew my name. Laurie has a fun style of writing and sharing the bargains she has discovered. If you are out surfing, please pay her a visit. I think you will enjoy her blog.

Some of you have been to my tablescaping blog where I indulge in my passion for setting tables. There has been just a tiny little following for that blog. Lately I have had the urge to set tables so I have been putting a lot more time into posting there.

Yesterday I went to check its stats and holy cow, I had 3,080 visitors yesterday and already today 1,573! Whoaa, where are they all coming from!? I started to read some comments and people were congratulating me for being a "Blog of Note". I vaguely remembered seeing that phrase someplace. Finally I remembered where--at the Blogger dashboard. They had selected my lowly little blog as a blog of the day! I have no idea how they are selected (probably just a random thing), but I must admit I was pretty thrilled to see Tablescaping as the first selection for the day.

So go eat some sauerkraut. I am running out to buy lottery tickets before my kraut luck runs out!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Kraut & Pork Roast

Suzy, over at Suzy's Bloomers, recently posted a sauerkraut pork roast recipe that she found on another blog. It inspired me to try a cooking method I had never done before--use my Nesco as a sort of crockpot (I don't own a crockpot).

I did not follow the recipe exactly, but I did take the main idea from Suzy. It was incredibly easy. I just tossed the kraut on top of the roast, threw the spices, onions, etc. into my 4-quart Nesco. Since there was just the two of us, I only used a 3 lb. pork roast.

I Covered it and let it cook for about 7 hours. The first hour was high heat, then I turned it to about 250 degrees.

Every now and then I picked up the cover and gave it a stir.
That's about it.

The roast turned out nice and tender, falling apart as I sliced it.

Suzy says that it is lucky to eat sauerkraut at the beginning of the new year. I hope this is still considered the beginning. I could use some luck if I decide to go back and play those EBAY machines again.

If you want the recipe that Suzy made, just click the link to Suzy's blog. It will take you right to the recipe page.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Day Spent in the Kitchen

Have you ever seen these things?

(pic is from the Wilton site )

I was surfing a few weeks ago and came across a board where the bakers were extolling the virtues of these strips. They are supposed to make your cake bake evenly and have a nice flat top.

So I used my JoAnne 50% off coupon and bought a set.

Today I decided to see if they work.

I usually read directions and it's a good thing I did because it said they had to be soaked in water before using. So I filled a container and soaked them while I prepared the cake mix.

Getting them on was a bit of a chore. My pans were the maximum size they would fit - 9-inches and there was not much excess fabric to pin to. I didn't realize they had to be pinned on.
I guess I assumed they had something like Velcro to hold them. I finally got them on one pan. Then I decided to do a real test. I left the second pan without the strips and put them side by side in the oven.Here they are when they came out. Click to make it bigger so you can see better.

There is a difference. The one on the right without the strips has risen more toward the center, making a slight dome. The strip has helped to make the layer slightly flatter. To a home baker, like me, it's hardly worth the effort.

I am glad I only paid $4.50 instead of the regular price of $8.99.

I was baking most of the day today. I was trying to use up that nearly 5 lb. container of Maraschino cherries that I bought at Christmas. For the cake I used a mix,
but I used cherry juice instead of the water and I added about a cup of chopped cherries.
It made the prettiest color batter, don't you think? I can't tell you if it tasted good because I froze the cake to use for Valentine's Day.

I also made some cookies that are similar to the popular Santa's Whiskers cookies.
I used Maraschino instead of candied cherries. I omitted the coconut and nuts, but I rolled the edges in red/white sugar crystals.

They turned out pretty good. DH likes them so that's all that matters.

I did not mind spending the day in the kitchen. It was 100% better than this: You can't really see him unless you click to make the pic bigger, but my DH is out there in the middle of that white mist snow blowing the road! He did the driveway twice. There have been no snowplows done our road today, so he is blowing out the road near our driveway. I hope the plows come before I have to get to work tomorrow.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Cocooning Weekend

After spending most of the morning running errands, I returned home to spend the afternoon preparing a warm comfort meal.

My Mom & Dad came over early in the afternoon and we spent a few hours on this cold, snowy Saturday playing nickle/dime poker. I have played poker since I was, as they say, knee-high to a I kid my parents often had friends over on the weekends to play cards. I remember standing around the table just waiting for someone to need to use the bathroom so I could play their hand while they were gone. I can still remember a lot of the games, though I have not played very often in the last 30 years.

I had dinner all set to go into the oven before they came so I did not have to interrupt the games too much with cooking chores.

I made a pizza lasagna.

I layered pepperoni, ground beef, mushrooms, onions, pizza sauce, cottage cheese, Parmesan, mozzarella cheese and a 5-blend Italian cheese. These pics are before it went into the oven.
I also took a loaf of French Bread and spread melted garlic butter and caramelized Vidalia onions over each half.

Then I put Mozzarella cheese on one side and Parmesan cheese on the other,
folded it back together, wrapped it in foil and stuck in the oven for the last half an hour.
Dessert was easy. I took a chocolate shell and filled it with peanut butter ice cream that I had rolled in crushed pecans and topped with a tiny little chocolate cookie and some Reese's sauce. Then I put a maraschino cherry in the bottom of this glass and inserted the whole little filled shell into the glass.

So we had an enjoyable afternoon, good company and a nice meal.

Then I watched the news.

Peanut butter is probably NOT the kind of ice cream I should have bought.

I hope we don't all get sick!

Tomorrow I am planning to stay home all day, bake a little, sew a little and make a pork roast with sauerkraut from a recipe that I found recently on a blog.

I hope all of you in the cold weather states are keeping warm. We are in another snow storm...about 5 inches so far and probably more tomorrow. We have not had snow like this in many years.

I am actually enjoying it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Life is too Short to use a Plastic Food Bag for Makeup & Follower Musings

For years this is what I have been toting my makeup in--a zip lock bag. Why would I use a grungy old plastic bag when I have a perfectly wonderful Samsonite make up bag that came with my luggage two years ago?

What am I saving it for? (It looks very large but it gets folded in half once you put everything in it)

Well, I am done saving it. I shall now be toting my paltry little makeup necessities in grand style. Now I won't have to remember to slip the plastic bag back into my suitcase before the hotel cleaning lady comes into my room.

How many of you are into this follower blog thing?

I find it much easier just to visit from my side bar. I only followed one blog, but I never even looked at the bottom of the dashboard to find an update. It's easier to follow from my sidebar, (so please don't feel offended that I stopped following).

I find the whole thing much like high schools girls in a popularity contest. I have been appalled at the blatant attempts I've recently seen to get people to follow a blog. . . the worst was a giveaway that only included those who signed up to follow the blog! What a turn off. Is it just me or do others feel the same way? What's the difference between followers and blog rolls? Maybe I am missing the whole point.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Year, New Bargains

My goodness, I have been busier than a one-armed paper hanger lately (Please if you happen to have one arm and hang paper, don't send me negative comments--it's just a saying denoting a very busy person).

Yesterday after work I had one hour until my nail appointment, so I dashed off to JC Penney to return a pair of slippers that I bought for DH. You might think that after nearly 20 years of marriage, I would know his shoe size.

You would be wrong.

I was off by a full size.

Anyway, while walking to the aisle to find the proper size pair of slippers, I was distracted by a handbag display with a big 70% off sign.

Oh, my, should I slip an aspirin under my tongue because of the heart palpitations?

Handbags are now where shoes used to be in my hierarchy of life's accessories. In other words, I am pretty fond of handbags. At the moment I like black handbags because since I gave up dresses and skirts for my working attire I wear black pants almost every day.

Look at his bag...

It's larger than my usual, but I love the design.

Look at the price............ was $45, now $19.99.............AND I get another 40% off that price!!

I guess all the red tag items were an additional 40% off. I didn't have much time to look because I had to hurry to the checkout so I could get to the library to return all those books I got during the week of Christmas.

Nonetheless, I did manage to grab a few items: another black handbag and some purple polka-dot lounging jammies.

I got it all for just $37.oo AND the best part..........I had a $35.00 gift certificate! Where's that aspirin?

It was a good day.

Now I am going to sit down and see what Martha has to offer for February. Cute cover, don't you think?

Friday, January 9, 2009

All Work & No Play Makes for a Dull Life

So last weekend we went to a casino with my mom and dad.

My Mom and I had so much fun playing EBAY video slot machines. They are penny slots--though that's a misnomer. They actually take a minimum bet of fifty cents and a maximum of $2.50. That's a 50 cent/$1 machine to me.

Nonetheless, they are action packed with a bonus round that everyone playing is involved in. I think there were 5 people who could play at once.

Here is a picture of what they look like.

I got this picture at this Flicker account.

We spent hours playing this machine and even ended up coming ahead a few dollars.

This weekend I will be washing floors and cleaning toilets. I really would prefer to be playing this machine!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Get Those Little Piggies Ready for Market

I can't believe that I am about to endorse an infomercial product.

Have you seen this cute little egg-shaped foot file?
When you remove the top of the egg, you have a bunch of sharp microfiles that remove dead skin from your feet.
It's nearly identical to those micro planes you use to get fresh lemon peel.

It's also supposed to remove big ugly calluses. I can't say if that's true because I don't have any really major calluses. I suspect it's not that effective on anything major, but if you are looking for something to aid in your daily foot maintenance, I think you will love this gadget. Yes, I said daily...that's why I don't have those major problems like a lot of people have.

It fits nicely in the palm of your hand and takes very little effort. It's much easier to use than one of those long handled foot files. You will feel the results in less than five minutes.

On the backside there is a heavy duty emery board that works great for a quick buffing to smooth the skin even more. Slather on some foot lotion and sink all ten well-maintained digits into a pair of fluffy cotton socks to finish off your mini pedicure.

The infomercial makes a big deal about how all of the shavings (gross!) are held inside the egg so you have no mess. That's not exactly true. There are still particles that escape, but not enough to bother me.
The one negative is that it's nearly impossible to get the cover off to dump the shavings. At least I had difficulty, but I do have those long nails that tend to interfere with such things.
All in all, I think it's worth the $10 retail price.
If you have one, what do you think of it?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Where Have all the Days Gone?

It always amazes me how hard it is to get back to blogging once I miss three days in a row. Before I know it, I've missed two weeks. Normally it's just a part of my morning and I don't find it difficult at all. Dianne, thanks for your little note about missing me. It made my day! :)

I've been spending most of my free time the past week or so reading a diverse selection of books.

I enjoyed all three of these. You probably all know who the first two are. Book #3 is sort of a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a famous food critic.

I've also been perusing a few quilting books.

I've spent a little time working on the machine quilting of this quilt. I still have not found any loving feelings toward machine quilting. I must force myself to finish this one so I can move on to other projects.

See the book about tassel making? I am thinking of trying to make a few of those this winter.

I also spent a little time updating my Christmas Ornament spreadsheet. I started this in 1998 to keep track of all the Hallmark collectible Santa ornaments I was buying.

They are the most expensive ornies I have and I don't even use them any more! I got tired of using red because it clashed with my decor. When I replace my furniture, maybe I will use the red ornies again.

Having a spreadsheet like this is really nice. As you buy new items, you just add them to the bottom and it totals how much you have invested in Christmas decorations. It's also great for insurance purposes should the need ever arise. I would never be able to remember all of the ornaments I have.

Anyway this is a short synopsis of what I've done since my last post. Now I must jump in the shower and head to work.

Hopefully I will now be back to my almost-daily meanderings.

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