Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Past

Do any of you have one of these golden balls? or at least know what it is?

Christmas Past

Each Christmas, when I unpack it, I travel back in time….to the wonderful, magical Christmases at my grandparent’s house. It is a piece of my personal treasure. I have no idea what it is worth, if anything, monetarily. I, however, will not willingly part with it….until it is time to pass it to the next generation.

I hope your Christmas was filled with happy travels back in time! Have a wonderful and safe New Year!



Join me as I travel back in time at:

Hurry…we’re already late!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This Kind of a Morning

Christmas 2010 004Christmas 2010 005
….calls for some of this,
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with some real maple syrup and a splash of cream…or maybe some brown sugar, cinnamon, and freshly grated nutmeg …and a splash of cream!
And to keep it real…..
Christmas 2010 009
This is what happens when you are happily snapping photos for your blog and forget to turn down the heat once your oats are boiling! Oops! Oh well…the oats are simmering on another burner, while I wait for the above portion of the stovetop to cool enough to be cleaned.
Hope you all are staying warm…seems like the entire country (including my beloved NC) is in a deep freeze.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Looking for My Christmas Spirit…

First of all…I will be copying this to all three of my blogs. So to you few followers of all…no, you’re not crazy!

Now on with the story….

I can’t find my Christmas spirit this year. I forced myself to put up our tree, hoping that just doing it would help. I still haven’t made my topper yet…but the tree looks nice. I didn’t however find my Christmas spirit by decorating it. Actually it made me a little sadder.

Christmas 2010 016

A few nights ago, I went to our community’s Christmas party. The company and the food were wonderful, as usual; but no….I didn’t find my Christmas spirit there either. I came home feeling a little sadder.

Last night, we went out to a very nice dinner with friends. Prime rib, filets, and other yummy things were ordered. There was no tiramisu on the menu…so I skipped dessert. I had a lovely time. We traveled to and fro in a winter wonderland as snow softly fell. I came home with no more Christmas spirit than when I left.

In talking to a few friends…and even reading a few other blogs, I am finding that I am NOT alone with this lack of Christmas spirit this year. My friends and I are VERY fortunate. Our husbands have good jobs, and they work hard. We all have everything we need and much of what we want. And we are smart enough to know how blessed we truly are…and we know that it is all by God’s grace. Which makes my our lack of Christmas spirit even MORE frustrating. We know why we are celebrating this season. We know that the greatest gift we could EVER receive is one that we have already accepted…the gift of salvation through Christ. So why these feelings? I don’t know. My friends and I have discussed possibilities…we are at a stage where our on children are older and we are likely years away from grandbabies. So perhaps we are missing the magic of Christmas through a small child’s eyes. Christmas is over commercialized….But I don’t think that is it. I long ago threw away notions of giving just to keep up with Joneses…I give for the true JOY of giving, not because I feel obligated to do so. My husband said that I just needed some snow…for which,  evil looks were sent his way. (At the time there was no snow on the ground….and I have a real love/hate relationship with snow, but that is a story for another time). Perhaps I am just more than usual missing HOME! Maybe it is just a combination of all those things and more.

Whatever the reason, I have come to the conclusion that my Christmas spirit…or at least that feeling that USUALLY envelopes me…may not show up this year. I may not get the urge to fill my home with the aromas of cookies, cakes and pies baking. I may not unpack the rest of my Christmas decorations. I may not even have many gifts under the tree….or make lots of candy treats for my family and neighbors. And it will be OKAY! I WILL do some baking and I WILL make some Oreo Truffles because my son loves them! But unless something BIG happens soon, I don’t think I will be doing my usual CHRISTMAS CRAZY.

With all of that said….maybe my job this year is to help someone else find their Christmas spirit. While I am truly blessed, I do not live in a happy bubble. I know that many out there are suffering. So instead of just my USUAL Christmas donations, I have decided to actively look for those that “need a little Christmas”. (I know this is turning into a small book…but bear with me…PLEASE)

My first “find”:

I am from NC…so every few days I check out the Charlotte Observer online to see what is going on back home. Today there was an article telling how one of the shelters in Charlotte has a goal of collecting a ton of dry oatmeal by Jan. 31 to help serve the increased need this year. DRY OATMEAL! A relatively inexpensive, easy, nutritious meal. Something that MOST of us take for granted---or even COMPLAIN about---on a cold morning! Since it is NOT convenient for me to donate to that particular shelter AND there are hungry people EVERYWHERE, I have decided to donate some simple dry goods, including oatmeal, to my LOCAL food bank. I hope to make it a regular habit…not just a once-a-year, make myself feel good thing. I CHALLENGE you to do the same AND to ask those you know to do the same. (If you have a blog, please share the challenge there.) I imagine that many of those in need today may have sat down with friends in another Christmas season and ate prime rib or a perfectly cooked filet….and never imagined that they would one day need to ask for a bowl of oatmeal! One day it may be I or YOU or someone you love. It is not this day however. So this day (or this week), I give and thank God that I can!

* I did a quick Google search and found that my little, itsy-bitsy town has its own food bank. I have lived here for 2 1/2 years and had NO idea…so maybe I have allowed myself to live in a happy little bubble!



Monday, November 29, 2010

From Autumn Décor to the Menu


Don’t throw away those pumpkins that you used indoors for Autumn decorating. Roast them! Cooked pumpkin freezes well and can be used to make pies, quick breads and pumpkin soup (though that is one thing I’ve never tried!)….or any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin.

The hardest part of roasting a pumpkin is cutting it in half; but even that isn’t too bad if you use a really good, sharp knife!

So here goes:

Wash your pumpkin to remove any debris…perhaps a little dust? Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

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Now place the pumpkin on a cutting board and slice it in half. BE CAREFUL!!! Then take a spoon and start scraping out the seeds.

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(You can save the seeds for roasting.) Now your pumpkin is ready to roast. Put it face down in a shallow roasting pan. You can use two small pans, if your pumpkin won’t fit in one. Or you can cut your pumpkin in smaller pieces.

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Pour in just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover with aluminum foil. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, or until fork tender. The time will vary with the size of the pumpkin. Just start checking it at 45 minutes.

Once the pumpkin is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool in the pan.

Mine is in the oven…so no photo of it, but here are a couple of pie pumpkins that I roasted a few weeks ago.


Once it is cool, take a large spoon and scoop out the cooked pumpkin and throw away or compost the skin. You can mash the pumpkin with a potato masher or even give it a quick spin in the food processor.


You can store it in the refrigerator for about 5 days or freeze it for later use. I usually freeze it in “recipe sized” portions. Check your favorite recipe to see how much that is.

Have a blessed day!


Friday, November 26, 2010

The Day AFTER Thanksgiving…

First of all, I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. It was rather cold here. Other than that, it was a nice day. My husband always smokes the turkey, and this year, he really had a masterpiece. When it came in, I tented it with foil to rest and told myself that I would take a photo of it before it was carved….then I promptly forgot all about it. Just believe me when I tell you it was a beautiful bird!

But today is a new day and I want to share a couple of my day after Thanksgiving traditions. The first one causes my husband to gag. He dreads this day. He doesn’t understand how the kids and I could eat this:

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What is it? Well, the kids and I call it a GLOB (Gobbler Left-Over Bowl). In a bowl, you add a little cornbread dressing, some mashed potatoes, some peas (bought JUST for this dish), a little chopped turkey, and gravy. Cover and heat in the microwave. Then enjoy! While I like Thanksgiving dinner, I LOVE my next day GLOB! My hubby says really not nice things about it and absolutely refuses to try it. He doesn’t know what he is missing!

Tradition #2:

Now this one Man likes! A LOT!!! The carcass from our bird starts the process of becoming Turkey Noodle Soup.

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Just throw the carcass in a LARGE stock pot. Toss in some celery stalks, a medium onion that has been cut into large chunks, a bay leaf, and some thyme (dried or fresh). Pour 1 1/2 to 2 gallons of water into the pot. Turn the heat onto medium and wait a heavenly aroma to fill your kitchen. After a few hours, remove the carcass (it has usually fallen apart) and strain the broth into another, not quite as large, stockpot. Pick the meat from the bones and/or from the strainer and put it aside. Chop some celery stalks and carrots and add to the stock. Season the stock, as desired. Some suggestions: salt, pepper, more thyme, parsley…even a little leftover poultry seasoning. Bring the stock to a boil and throw in a couple of handfuls of egg noodles (or even rice….that sounds good…may do rice myself instead of noodles)…I “guesstimate” the amount of noodles based on how much stock I end up with; stir and reduce heat slightly. You want to keep it at a low boil. Once the noodles are almost done to your taste, put the turkey meat into the pot. Continue cooking until the noodles (or rice) are done and serve.

Even if you don’t want soup today or tomorrow…go ahead and make stock. It can be frozen for later use.

Well..I better go check on my own stock.

Have a great day!!!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks


1828 Definition (from Noah Webster’s dictionary)


THANKSGIV'ING, n. The act of rendering thanks or expressing gratitude for favors or mercies.

Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if received with thanksgiving. 1 Tim.4.
1. A public celebration of divine goodness; also, a day set apart for religious services, specially to acknowledge the goodness of God, either in any remarkable deliverance from calamities or danger, or in the ordinary dispensation of his bounties. The practice of appointing an annual thanksgiving originated in New England.


No, Thanksgiving isn’t about football, overstuffing OURSELVES (and sometimes the turkey), or even Charlie Brown….although there is nothing wrong with those things. Thanksgiving is about GRATITUDE to our Lord for his favors and mercies….thankfulness for the people in our lives that also show us favor and mercy….a time to reflect on how WE can show favor and mercy to others….EVERY day!

Have a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving!!!



P.S. Jump on over to Stormy Hen Holidays to see how I prep for a less busy….less stressful Thanksgiving Day!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving Recipes

I've posted some of my family's favorite Thanksgiving recipes. Just click on the Recipes tab at the top of this page. Then scroll down to find the links.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Atmosphere of Home…Aromas

What does your home smell like? Baking bread? Your favorite perfume? Lemony-fresh furniture polish? Trash? If it smells like trash, go empty the can and come back!!!
We live in a world full of scented candles, potpourri, and Febreze. Turn on the television and you will see numerous advertisements for them. Why are we willing to spend so much money on those items? Because scents can be powerful determiners of the atmosphere in your home….and the makers of memories! The aroma of apples cooking reminds me of my maternal grandfather. I couldn’t tell you how many times I walked into his kitchen to find it FULL of pies. Each time I bake an apple pie (I only bake one or two at a time…and marvel at how my grandfather could fill the kitchen with them!), I go back in time to my grandparents’ kitchen. I don’t think he went about TRYING to build a memory, but he did! And oh how glad I am that he did!!! My grandfather has been gone for over 27 years…but every time I bake an apple pie, a little piece of him is here with me.
What memories are being created by the aromas in your home? Candles and potpourri will do in a pinch, but don’t forget those scents that YOU create.
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Wish someone had created smell-a-blog….because my house smells WONDERFUL! Apples and cinnamon….


“Why should I buy expensive art when I can make my own.” ~Piero Milani

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Domestic Goddess Gene

Today my want-to-be a domestic goddess gene is dominant! It often kicks in fiercely as the holidays approach. There are a lot of WANT-to’s on my list and a few have-to’s.
First the have-to’s:
  • laminate a document for hubby
Now…the things I WANT to do….
  • Make pies!!! I have lots of apples and a couple of pie pumpkins that are begging to be made into something yummy.
  • Finish stripping wallpaper from bathroom so I can paint.
  • Work on some more Christmas Stockings.
  • Also working on some curtain panels for the living room.
  • Have an apron design in my head that has been pleading to become a reality.
  • Clean the floors.
  • Plan a Christmas party.
  • On a smaller scale…plan some menus for those crazy, busy days ahead!
  • Start making cones for another wreath….LOVED how this one turned out.
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(To see more of my recent projects, check out my other blog: Stormy Hen Creations)
So I am off to rotate the laundry, laminate that doc for hubby, and to finish doing a quick tidy throughout the house. Then to start on my want-to’s and hope that my energy level stays up today!
Also a quick update on my friend’s son and daughter-in-law: Her son went back to the ER for additional treatment AFTER he got his wife transferred to the other hospital. He had to have over 30 stitches in his face. His wife is still in critical condition. However, she is responding…gripping hands, wriggling toes, etc….AND she recognizes all those that have been able to visit her. This is good news; but, obviously, she is NOT out of the woods yet! So please continue to pray for her. The police have still not found the man responsible for this SENSELESS act. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers!!!

Have a wonderfully blessed day!

Monday, November 1, 2010


Please pray for a dear friend's son and daughter-in-law....They were shot earlier tonight in an armed robbery. Each was shot multiple times. Thank you!!!

UPDATE: November 2, 2010 (noon)
Friend's son was able to check himself out of the hospital very early this morning. He was hit at least twice that I know of...but fortunately, the wounds were mainly superficial. His wife is in serious condition. She has had to undergo surgery and is being kept sedated. She was also moved to another hospital. I know that hospital has a trauma center, but I am not sure if she was moved there for that reason or if it was just the family's preference. The details of her injuries have not been released.
Despite the fact that at least 3 police depts (city, county, and state) were called to the scene....with bloodhounds and helicopters, the shooter has not been found. Please also pray that this dangerous man is found soon.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Apple-Cinnamon Granola

Apple Cinnamon Granola
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup apple juice
¼ tsp. salt
8 cups rolled oats
2 tsp. apple pie spice
In a large sauce pan, melt the butter. Blog Stuff 003
Add the sugar, spice,salt and juice; stir well.Blog Stuff 005
Bring to a boil.
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Reduce heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add oats and stir well.
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Spread granola evenly over two baking sheets. (I line mine with parchment…I’m lazy that way.)
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Bake at 250˚ for 45- 60 minutes, rotating sheets from top to bottom and stirring oats every 10 – 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow granola to cool completely before removing from baking sheets. Store in an air-tight container.
* During the last 15 minutes of baking, add chopped pecans or walnuts.
* Once granola is cooled, add dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apple bits, etc.)
Obviously, you can serve this in a bowl with milk; but I like it mixed into vanilla Greek yogurt or just plain as a quick snack.
Need a quick dessert? For each serving: peel, core and cut 1 apple. Saute in 2 tbsp. butter. As it begins to soften add about 2 tbsp. sugar (or a couple packs of Truvia). Cook until apple is done to your preference. (I like mine to keep its shape…not too mushy.) Serve in a bowl, topped with 1/4 cup of granola and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Friday, October 22, 2010

‘Tis That Time of Year

The supplies needed:
  • Your hot beverage of choice. Mine vary…today it is hot cocoa.
  • A good book or a journal and pen.
  • Cardigan, shawl or warm throw.
  • Biscotti, optional. Who am I kidding? That is not optional!

Why do we need those supplies? Because it is this kind of a day:
 First Snow-October 2010 002 First Snow-October 2010 003
Yes, it is the first snow of the season for our area of Upstate NY.  Only a light dusting…and it is suppose to rain this afternoon. Either way, it is a kick back on the sofa and relax kind of day.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

One of These Things Just Doesn’t Belong…

I love my hubby; but for the life of me, I cannot figure out why he thinks it is okay to put his new heater (for ice fishing and hunting) in this location:
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Maybe it is just me….but wouldn’t this look better in his workshop? Obviously we have different priorities. I’m off to move it….and perhaps drop the leaf on the table. Then he won’t have a “drop-off” point. Nevermind…I just envisioned the heater sitting on my apples.
This is just one small example of why the journey toward a well-kept home is a never-ending one.
Have a wonderfully blessed day!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Changing Seasons…and Pantry

It was a bit chilly when I went out to do my errands today (although the hot flash that I was apparently experiencing caused me not to realize it when I first left the house). Anyway….when I walked into the produce section of the grocery store, I saw a pkg. of mango wedges. I really like mango, but when I picked them up to put in the cart I thought, “It’s not mango season. It is apple season.” So back on the shelf they went. Tomorrow I’m going to the store run by a local Amish family (yes, the Yoders) to pick up a 1/2 bushel of apples for $4.
Wow…I’m easily sidetracked…back to the grocery store…. As I walked through the produce department, I grabbed some cabbage, 15 lbs of russet potatoes, and LEEKS. All those items just scream “AUTUMN” to me. Cabbage for unrolled cabbage rolls. A huge bag of potatoes for baked potato soup and stews and chowder… me some homemade chowder. As I continued my shopping, I realized that I had been transitioning my pantry over the past few weeks. I have stocked up on boxed stocks (no pun intended), steel-cut oats, apple pie spice (throw a generous pinch in with you ground coffee when you brew it in the morning for a little something different), different flours for baking, dried beans for chili and soups, spiced teas, espresso….just to name a few items. Today I also bought biscotti. I love biscotti; but for some reason, I only buy it during autumn and winter. During the spring and summer, my cookie jar is filled with homemade cookies; but during autumn and winter the cookie jar is filled with biscotti (unless it is close to shopping day…then it’s a little more iffy).  I have recipes for biscotti. It would not be difficult to make them. I’m not sure why I’ve never tried doing so…..except maybe it would be a little too convenient…and therefore DANGEROUS to my already overly abundant waistline.
Does your pantry change with the season? What are your favorite autumn foods?

And now….a recipe:

Baked Potato Soup

First of all….I ALWAYS at least DOUBLE this recipe….It is even better the next day for a quick, filling lunch!
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 cups milk (I use 1%)
  • 2 cups peeled, cubed russet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup minced leeks—white part only (can also use a regular onion or shallot…your preference)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Garnish: chives, shredded cheddar cheese, REAL bacon bits (either store-bought or homemade), fresh ground black pepper
Melt butter in heavy-bottom stock pot over low heat. Add flour and stir until smooth. Cook, CONSTANTLY stirring for 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk (I use a whisk). Stir in potatoes, leeks, and salt. Cook over medium heat, STIRRING FREQUENTLY, 30 minutes or until thick and potato is done. Serve with choice of garnishes. Makes 5 cups.

***This recipe is SIMPLE, SIMPLE, SIMPLE. However, do not get distracted and forget to stir it. It burns easily, and burnt potato soup is not good. I once gave this recipe to one of my NON-cooking family members thinking that there was absolutely NO WAY that she could mess this up. Let’s just say that she REALLY needs one of those self-stirring gadgets that you’ve probably seen in some catalog or infomercial.
This is also a great recipe for potluck dinners. Just make as directed, doubling or tripling or even quadrupling the recipe. Then transfer to a crockpot and keep on the warm setting…just be sure to stir occasionally.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Evil…pure evil

I really should not spread this temptation. They are truly evil. They call your name morning, noon, and night…..from the cookie jar.
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Chocolate Chip-Coconut Teacakes

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • sifted confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream the butter until light and fluffy, using an electric mixer. Add sugar and mix well. Add vanilla and mix. Slowly add flour; mix well. Stir in the coconut and chocolate chips, mixing well. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place 1-inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets (I DO line mine with parchment paper). Press each cookie with your thumb to flatten slightly.
Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until edges just start to turn golden. Transfer to racks and dust with powdered sugar while still warm. Cool completely. They may be stored in an airtight container for about a week.*
*Good luck getting them to last that long….although they do taste better if you can make yourself wait a day for the flavors to develop.

These make WONDERFUL Christmas and Valentine’s Day gifts. They are simple to make and they store well.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kitchen Happenings

Today I made this:
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Which turned into this:
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and Blog 005
I also made this:
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Did I mention that autumn causes me to want to spend more time in the kitchen?
I also made a biga for making bread tomorrow. Yesterday I made chocolate chip-coconut teacakes. Once I get a moment I will post recipes. Sorry to tease and run, but I have to finish cleaning the kitchen and serve up those chicken-n-dumplings!


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