Quilty Fun

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Here’s a little peek at some of the quilt projects I’ve been working on lately. I always have a number of them going at the same time, and work on the one I have time for or are in the mood to work on.

This is my Tree of Life quilt ~

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I participated in a half square triangle exchange at a local quilt shop a few years ago and this is what I decided to make from all of the half square triangles I received. The pattern is in this book by Edyta Sitar ~

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While all of the half square triangles were sewn on a machine, I am hand piecing it all together. I still need to applique some vines and leaves along the two sides, and then it will be ready to quilt and bind.

Another quilt I have been working on is this Jelly Roll Race Farm quilt ~

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I saw this quilt finished at the quilt shop and loved the farm fabrics in it, called “Coming Home” by Deb Strain.

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The Jelly Roll Race quilt is very simple to make and would have been done by now if I had the time to sit and work at my sewing machine for longer periods of time. I’ll keep you posted on this one as I hope to finish it soon.

I am also working on this wall hanging, usually while I’m waiting for Anna at cheerleading practice ~

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The pattern is called “Live Simply” by buttermilk basin. I am at the point of sewing around all of the applique pieces, and it is small, so it’s easy to take along with me.

And finally, I mentioned in my Daybook this week that I have just joined a new Block of the Month program that will result in a “primitive houses” quilt when finished. I sewed the first block yesterday. Here it is ~

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This quilt is called “My Neighborhood” by Beverly Ingram, and it has the cutest rail fence border around it. I’ll keep you posted each month on my progress, but at one block a month, it won’t be finished until next year.

I hope your evening has gone well. Only three more nights to enjoy the Winter Olympics – it sure has gone by fast!

See you soon!

Blessings,
Nancy

Say Hello to the Little Ladies!

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Well, we finally did it! After dreaming about it for 8 years since moving to the country, we finally have our own chickens! We purchased these sweet baby girls at a local feed store last Friday. We have 8 chicks – 2 each of 4 different breeds – Ameraucanas, Barred Rock, Rhode Island Reds, and Wyandottes.

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Right now the chicks are living in our master bathroom in a large plastic tub (the only place we can keep them safe from our 3 curious cats). They have to stay warm, so we have a heat lamp on them constantly at one end of the box. Their food and water is at the other end. They spend all of their time eating, drinking, sleeping a little, and making a mess.

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Some of them have a new form of entertainment – trying to fly out of the box! Last night we added a piece of mesh screening to the top of the box and so their fun has been thwarted a little bit. Soon we will be transitioning the girls to our old rabbit hutch, outside in the chicken pen. I am so looking forward to the days when I can sit on the front porch and watch the little ladies pecking around the yard – not to mention the lovely fresh eggs we will enjoy each day!

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P.S. I’m sorry for the tiny pictures! I’m experimenting with posting from my iPad, and still figuring out how everything works! I think I know what to do now with the pics, so they should be back to normal in the next post.

Have a wonderful evening!

Blessings,
Nancy

Sarah’s Cooking Night

Sarah decided last week that she wanted to cook one of the meals for dinner this week. She had seen a recipe for chicken fingers on a Bisquick box and this inspired her to want to cook a whole meal, something that she had never done before. She has made a number of desserts for the family over the past few years, but never anything as ambitious as a complete meal. So, on Tuesday, I made sure we had all of the ingredients she needed and joined her in the kitchen to supervise, teach a bit, and help her out. The menu she planned consisted of ~

    Ultimate Chicken Fingers
    Homemade Mashed Potatoes
    Green Beans
    Chocolate Chip Bar Cookies

Here are some pictures of her time in the kitchen ~

She started by making dessert – Chocolate Chip Bar Cookies. She has made these before, so she didn’t really need my help with this part. She gave the younger kids a spoonful of dough before she baked them.

Next she began work on her mashed potatoes. She used this recipe and learned how to wash, peel, cut and cook the potatoes. Her arms were a bit tired after scrubbing and peeling 5 lbs. of potatoes by herself!

While the potatoes cooked, she started her chicken fingers. As I mentioned before, this recipe was on the back of the Bisquick box. She had to triple the recipe for our family, so she got a little practical Math practice along the way. It was her first time to handle raw chicken, but she decided that it wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be. I gave her lessons on why it’s important to wash it well, and then she trimmed it up and sliced it for fingers.

Her potatoes were ready to mash before she got her chicken breaded, so she put the chicken on hold and finished up the potatoes – I told her that timing was one of the hardest parts of cooking.

With the potatoes all mashed and covered to keep warm, she went back to the chicken, which she found to be messy job!

While the chicken cooked, Sarah heated up the green beans (canned) on the stove. Finally, everything was ready, and we sat down to a delicious meal!

This chicken was so wonderful – it had parmesan cheese and garlic salt in the coating, which gave it a scrumptious flavor. I will post the recipe as soon as possible (if you can’t wait, go out and buy a box of Bisquick – it should be right there on the back of the box) –

Homemade Mashed Potatoes – she did an excellent job on these – they were smooth and creamy –

A great dinner –

and a delicious dessert to finish it up –

See you again soon!

Blessings,
Nancy

Fall Decoration

We’re all decked out now in Fall decoration, so I thought I’d share some of them with you. The picture above was taken on the front porch. The white bench is one that I found this summer in an antique store. It is really special to me because it is just like one that my grandmother had on her screened porch. My cousins and siblings and I used to sit on it and play cards and visit. I was so excited when I found it! The pumpkins add a special touch of Fall to this special bench.

Next to the front door, I have placed my annual pumpkin in the ladder back chair. I just love the way it looks, and so I place a large pumpkin here every year ~

Around back I have placed two pumpkins by the white picket fence – another annual decoration ~

Coming in the back door ~ there is a new Fall rug just inside the door. I love the gingham and pumpkins on this rug ~

Here are a few pictures of the Autumn decorations scattered around the living room ~

Into the dining room and kitchen ~

And finally, you can even see a touch of Fall in my quilt basket – this fabric makes me happy!

How are you coming with your decorations?

Blessings,
Nancy

Hello There!

Well, it’s a new month in a new year! I am looking forward to seeing what God has in store for us in 2010, and pray that it will be a blessed year for you all. Whatever comes our way, it is all in the Lord’s sovereign hands and we can find such peace and rest when we trust Him to work out His plan in His time.

We have started back to school, which has had a few bumps, but seems to be going smoother now – it’s hard for all of us to get back in the routine, but also feels good to have more “regular” days at home, rather than being so busy outside the house all the time.

Yesterday we celebrated Matthew’s 19th birthday! How does the time fly? We will be celebrating with the whole family this weekend, as well as celebrating his graduation, even though he has basically been finished since last year. He begins taking courses at a local college in a week or two. He will be taking 4 classes – English, Speech, Sociology, and Humanities. He has been saving furiously for a car, and should be able to buy one when the right one appears any day now.

Along with starting back to school with the kids, I have been spending my days packing up the Christmas decorations, and redecorating the house. I usually just put everything back out in their normal spots, but this year I am finding myself wanting to change things up, not putting out so many knick knacks and moving things around a bit. I am trying to lighten the load around the house – less cluttered and more space than we have had previously.

Basketball and Cheerleading have started up for Michael and Anna – they have had two games already and are enjoying it. We do these through the Upwards program at an area church – this is our 4th year there – we are always pleased with the program – good teaching with a Christian focus, and not too much pressure or time involved. Tommy and Sarah have started back their ice skating lessons once a week and are learning some harder moves already this year.

Our ladies Bible study has begun a new study that will last throughout this year. We are studying Martha Peace’s book “The Excellent Wife”. We have a lot of ladies joining in, and are looking forward to a good year of study.

Well, enough updates for now ~ I’ll be posting my Daybook next, a little later than usual, but one of my favorite ways to start a new week. Have a wonderful day wherever you are, and stay warm!

Blessings,
Nancy

You know it’s time to dust when . . .

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the children start using the furniture to practice their handwriting. Guess I let it go a little too long!

Blessings,
Nancy

A Finished Project!

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I started this project many months ago. I did half of it and just never was able to get around to the other half. What is the project, you ask? Wallpapering my kitchen backsplash with this lovely gingham wallpaper. I had been thinking about doing it ever since we moved here 4 years ago, but wasn’t sure whether it would be too busy with my cabinets. I finally decided to go ahead and I am so pleased with the results – especially now that the job is finally completed. Here are a few more pictures –

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(sorry for the blur!)

And yes, I do realize that I have a snowman picture hanging over my cooktop. I originally hung it there at Christmastime (which gives you a clue how long ago I started this project) and I liked the size and frame, so I decided that I would stamp a new picture for the inside so that it could hang there all year – maybe even stamp a picture for each season that I could change out all year round. Well, obviously it hasn’t happened yet – but I have hope. If I can finish one project – I can finish another! And maybe even someday I’ll make some progress on that infinite list of projects that I have in my head to get done!

Blessings,
Nancy

Homemade Mashed Potatoes

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This one falls under that category of dishes that probably everyone in the world has made, but I never have – at least up until now. Monday night I made my first ever batch of homemade mashed potatoes.

I found my recipe here, in one of my very favorite scratch cookbooks ~

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I liked this recipe because it was simple, using only basic ingredients that I normally keep on hand. The recipe below makes 4 servings – I doubled it plus a little, using a 5 lb. bag of potatoes. Here is the original recipe with a few pictures to follow ~

Homemade Mashed Potatoes

2 pounds all-purpose potatoes (about 5 medium)
1 Tablespoon salt
1/3 cup milk
3 Tablespoons butter, softened
Salt and Pepper to taste

Pour 3 quarts of water into a large pot, add the salt, and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, scrub the potatoes well under running water with a vegetable brush. Remove the skins with a vegetable peeler. If potatoes are very large, cut them into uniform-sized pieces (halves or quarters) so they cook at the same pace. Drop them in the pot, lower heat to moderate, and, depending on size, boil for about 20-30 minutes, or until a potato feels tender when pierced with a fork or cake tester.

Heat the milk slowly on the stove in a saucepan over low heat, or heat it in the microwave in a glass measuring cup tightly covered, for 45 seconds on High.

Warm the mixing bowl by filling it with hot water, then drain and dry it.

Drain the potatoes through a colander in the sink. Cut them into quarters with a small knife and put them in the heated mixing bowl. Mash them with a potato masher, working out as many of the lumps as you can. With a wooden spoon, beat in the softened butter, a tablespoon at a time, then slowly pour in the hot milk, still beating with the spoon. If you want fluffier potatoes, whip them with a whisk or electic mixer.

Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Pile in a heated serving dish and serve at once.

I just love this cookbook because it tells me EVERYTHING, not assuming that I already know some things – which has been a great help to me in learning to cook from scratch. Here are a few pictures I took along the way ~

Freshly scrubbed potatoes ~

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Boiling in the pot ~

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Ready for mashing ~

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Mostly mashed ~

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Stirring in butter and milk ~

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Ready to eat – I added a few extra dollops of butter on top – just because ~

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I will definitely be making these again – they got rave reviews from the family!

Blessings,
Nancy

Grandma’s Apron

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The aprons in the picture above are from my collection – the fruit apron was actually my grandmother’s apron, while the other three are some that Jeff bought me – he likes to hunt for them on Ebay for me and usually buys those with hand stitchery or quilting, and, of course, gingham, because he knows how much I love it!

My Mom sent me this e-mail and I loved it so much I just had to share it here.


The History of Aprons


I don’t think our children know what an apron is.

The principal use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath, because she only had a few, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.

And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the Fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that ‘old-time apron’ that served so many purposes.

REMEMBER:

Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw.

They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron. I don’t think I ever caught anything from an apron . . . but Love!!

I don’t know who wrote this, but it brightened up my day! I hope it did your’s too! And I’ll certainly be thinking about all of these things the next time I pull out one of my aprons to wear!

Have a lovely day!

Blessings,
Nancy

Shopping Trip

I ran several errands yesterday. Staples were getting rather low and it was time to stock up. This meant a trip to the big “Stuff-Mart”, which is generally exhausting and expensive. A friend and I were commenting a week or so ago that we can’t seem to go into that store without spending hundreds of dollars! I don’t know if it’s because they sell everything you might need want, thus allowing you to make all your purchases at once, or if prices have really just gone up that much – probably both. Anyway, this trip was no exception, but I was, as I said, stocking up.

Since I have begun cooking more from scratch and baking bread on a daily basis (in the bread machine), I have been naturally going through more flour. So, on this day I bought 10 lbs. of all-purpose flour, 5 lbs. of bread flour, and 5 lbs. of whole wheat flour. I also bought 10 lbs. of sugar, 3 lbs. of butter, a huge container of cinnamon (in preparation for all of those lovely Fall breads and desserts that have started entering my mind), a large bag of chocolate chips, an extra large bottle of vanilla, and a dozen and a half eggs. Add in a number of other staple food items that we were out of (peanut butter, salad dressings, preserves, etc.), household paper products (including diapers), and various toiletries from the OTHER side of the store (boy, did my feet hurt last night!), and I finally pushed my brimming cart to the checkout – this should definitely count as exercise, shouldn’t it?

The total, not surprisingly, was high – but I consoled myself by hoping that this would be my only “stocking up” trip for the month. Now I will simply go to my neighborhood grocery store once a week and fill in for meals based on their sales and my menus.

Did you notice I said “hoping”? That’s because this is my first month to be baking so much from scratch and I really don’t know how long these staples will last. If they don’t make it a full month, I may decide to try Sam’s next time, so that I can buy larger quantities for hopefully better prices. I may decide to do so anyway. I think I will plan a trip to Sam’s soon to compare their prices and quantities with what I bought. What do you all do? I would love to hear!

Other errands of the day included dropping Matthew at work, a visit to Bath & Body Works for their hand soap sale – I love to use their foaming Warm Vanilla Sugar hand soap by the kitchen sink, and a run in to Kroger for sirloin steaks (on sale) and blueberries – also on sale, but completely sold out! I will try back this weekend after they restock.

In case you’re wondering if I did all this with children along – no. I didn’t. I usually do most of my “major’ grocery shopping alone (unless it’s just a quick run). I spent many years shopping with children, but now that I have teenagers old enough to care for the littles, I prefer to go alone (this does not hold true when I have a small baby – up to a certain age, my babies go everywhere with me.) – I can focus on the task at hand much better and be done much sooner and with less frazzling of my brain! I generally do my weekly shopping trip on Saturdays, when Jeff is home to watch children, too.

After returning home, we unloaded everything, put it away, and tossed some pizzas in the oven for dinner. Did I mention that I don’t scratch cook on shopping days?

Blessings,
Nancy