My Spring Journal

My daily planning journal is looking decidedly springlike these days. My newest journal is wearing a spring cover and is sporting many beautiful spring magazine pictures on its inner pages.

I make my planning journals the same way I make my thankful journal – using a sketch book from Walmart and scrapbook paper. I cover the cover with scrapbook paper (directions here), usually based on the current season, or just whatever looks pretty to me at the moment. Then comes the really fun part. I cut lovely pictures out of magazines, again usually seasonal in nature, but really just anything that I love, and glue them in my journal to decorate the pages.

Next I label the pages. I put the day and date at the top, and then my planning categories scattered around the page with room to fill in a list under them. My personal categories are: Call, Do, Errands, Dinner, and Blog. These are just the categories that I have used for years to organize my To Do list for each day. They work best for me – you might have different categories that work best for you.

My Sunday pages differ from this by only including the date and a To Do This Week list. I usually write a little bit about how I spent the day at the top of the page and make my weekly planning list at the bottom.

I make about a week’s worth of pages at a time, usually on Sunday afternoons, and when I fill up one journal, I pick out a new paper for my next one, cover it and keep on going. I love making and using these journals. I don’t just use them for planning, although that is their main purpose, but I also use them to record thoughts, quotes, recipes, poetry, special memories, and really anything that I want to remember. I keep the old ones on a bookshelf to refer back to every now and then.

I really love using my magazines this way, rather than throwing them out with all of their pretty pictures. And I love having a beautiful personalized journal that works so well for me.

Blessings,
Nancy

Anna’s Ballet Recital

Anna’s first year of ballet lessons culminated a week or so ago in an end of the year ballet recital. It was quite a busy day for us. The day of the recital was also our oldest son, Robert’s 26th birthday, so we started the day by meeting him for pizza at lunchtime. After lunch, we hurried back home with just enough time to dress Anna in her recital dress, put her hair up in a braided bun, and run out the door to her dress rehearsal. Sarah went along with us. We arrived in time for dress rehearsal, and then spent the next few hours enjoying watching all of the different classes practice and admiring their beautiful costumes.

At the end of dress rehearsal, Anna changed back into street clothes and the two girls and I walked down the small town main street to a nearby restaurant. We had such a good time just spending “girl time” and enjoying a delicious and filling Mexican dinner. Soon enough it was time to head back down the street and get Anna dressed up again and ready for the performance. As we waited for curtain time, we were joined by the rest of the family, as well as Anna’s aunt and uncle, who also happen to live just down the street from where we were.

The recital went very well and Anna danced beautifully, as did all of the other dancers. Jeff presented Anna a lovely pink bouquet of flowers at the end and she was all smiles. All of the girls in Anna’s class danced with their baby dolls, so that is why she is holding “Ramona” in this picture.

Soon it was time to leave and we all went down the street again – this time to the old bank building – aka my brother-in-law and sister-in-law’s home – for cake and ice cream and a nice visit. Anna kept her costume on the rest of the evening and all the way home. I think she would have slept in it if I would have allowed it!

We arrived home late and tired, but it was a lovely day that I know Anna will always remember.

Blessings,
Nancy

Fried Apples

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I grew up eating fried apples every visit to my grandparent’s home. Grandmama would always cook up dishes and dishes of fresh vegetables from their garden and fried apples were always included, although I believe she bought her apples at the store ~ I don’t remember any apple trees on the property. They were my favorite part of every meal at their house.

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So, naturally when I grew up, I wanted to learn how to make them. I don’t know the recipe Grandmama used (if she used one), but when I was first married I found a recipe for Fried Apples in the local newspaper, and I have kept it and used it ever since. I haven’t really made them very often, usually opting for the ease of opening a jar of applesauce, but sometimes I just get a craving for them, and then I pull out this recipe and head to the store for some Granny Smiths. I double this recipe, but even then, they shrink down so much that I don’t get a huge bowl. I may triple it next time. Anyway, they’re pretty simple, if you follow the directions and don’t improvise too much ~ don’t ask me how I know this!

Ingredients
4 Granny Smith apples (or any tart green apple)
3 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons brown sugar

Begin by coring the apples and cutting them into wedges (about 8 pieces to an apple) ~

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Bring a large saute pan to medium heat (I used my electric skillet).
Add butter, then apples. Saute until apples are beginning to caramelize (about 5 minutes) ~

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Add brown sugar and completely caramelize (do not burn), until apples have a shiny candy appearance (10 minutes) ~

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Here they are ready to eat, served in Grandmama’s old vegetable dish ~ sweet and delicious!

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Blessings,
Nancy

Antique Shopping

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I shared in my Daybook earlier this week that Jeff had taken me antique shopping for Valentine’s last weekend. He knows my love for primitive, especially pioneer-related, especially pioneer kitchen-related items, and we have often found just such items in the old downtown square close by.

This trip was no exception, but the most exciting find was this barn red primitive hutch. It is now sitting in my kitchen while I eagerly ponder exactly what all to fill it with. Here are a few pictures of it and some of the items I have chosen so far –

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These two bowls (one a small crock) were purchased last weekend as well. The little one has “Mama” written on the bottom of it – so sweet.
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The canning jars here were my grandmother’s. They had been living on top of my cabinets, where I couldn’t see them very well and where they were gathering dust (as you can see). I am glad to have them down where I can see them (especially after I give them a good washing!) The little glass nesting hen was being displayed in the hutch at the store, and I thought it added a nice touch. This rolling pin is my newest addition to my small, but ever-growing collection (see next picture) – I love the colors on it, the deep and worn red on the handles and the darker color to the wood.
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My rolling pin collection. Some of them have suffered as they used to be stored on a shelf on the wall, and periodically fell to the floor, but I still love them, and they’ll be much safer here. The potholder in the background is my very first quilt block that I made a few years ago. I made it into a potholder, but only use it for decoration.
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Another bowl that I found last weekend – I just love the history that is evident all over it.
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My sweet little strawberry picking basket, complete with wooden strawberries.
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This is an old egg basket given to me by my brother-in-law – it was left in the bank when they moved in. (That reminds me – I never did write that follow-up post on the bank renovations – guess I’ll search out the pictures and add that one to my list forthcoming!) The little silver pail is definitely not primitive or antique, but it reminds us all of the little lunch pail that Laura and Mary carry in Little House, so it is present for it’s pioneer inspiration!
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I love the little drawer in the hutch, which will soon be filled with cloth napkins that I use for wrapping up bread and rolls.
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The bottom two shelves will be holding baskets (what else?), but, so far, it only holds the girls’ little picnic set . . .
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. . .and sometimes Macey.
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I will be shifting all of these items around to make room for my Yankee candle storage, and possibly my grandmother’s old everyday dishes, which would look lovely here, as well. I want to add more berries to the top and possibly some little white lights. It’s a work in progress, which I will also probably be tweaking for each season, so expect more pictures as I work on it.

Just a couple more pictures, showing some of the old details that I love so much. First, the latch in the front – all nice and worn and rusty.
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One of the top corners showing the trim that runs along the two sides.
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The sides are made up of this wonderful paned pattern –
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Well, I hope I haven’t bored you too much with this tour of my new hutch! It took awhile to get it posted as I was having trouble with the camera – it kept making the red look pinkish -eww! I love pink, but the hutch is definitely not pink! Jeff taught me how to turn off my flash, so that the color is more true.

We have been busy all week with school projects that I will share soon. We have a packed weekend up ahead, so you may not hear from me until Monday, unless I get a few moments. Have a wonderful day and weekend yourself!

Blessings,
Nancy

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

On the 4th, we made our ever-popular homemade vanilla ice cream. This is a tradition in our family, going back as far as I can remember. I have fond memories of watching my grandfather hand-crank the ice cream freezer in his backyard, while my cousins, siblings, and I gathered around, taking a turn every so often and marveling at how hard it was to turn by the end. And then came the reward – enjoying that cold, creamy, sweet treat around my grandparent’s long picnic table, or maybe, sitting around on the screened-in porch, surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and my own family.

These days we still enjoy this special treat – usually on the 4th of July. My brother, Boyd, usually gets the honor of cranking the ice cream, although a motor does it now and not his arm. This year his helper was Anna, who thought it quite fascinating that you could actually make your own ice cream.

My recipe for vanilla ice cream came out of the instruction book that came with our freezer – it is simple and always creamy and delicious.

Vanilla Ice Cream

3 Cups Milk (+ more to add to fill line – see below)
2 3/4 Cups Sugar
3/4 teaspoon Salt
3 Cups Half and Half
2 Tablespoons Vanilla
6 Cups Whipping Cream

Scald milk until bubbles form around edge.
Remove from heat.
Add sugar and salt.
Stir until dissolved.
Pour into ice cream freezer canister.
Stir in half and half, vanilla, and whipping cream.
Add more milk until it reaches the “fill line” inside the canister.
Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

The actual freezing of the ice cream is something that has always seemed mysterious to me, although my brother laughs at me for this. He says it’s not hard – just layer ice and rock salt around the freezer and turn it on. (Don’t forget to buy rock salt in advance – I did and my other brother, Mike, had to brave a torrential downpour the afternoon of the 4th in order to nab the very last box of rock salt on the shelf! Yay Mike!!!) Keep adding layers as the ice melts to keep the ice cream tin covered and cold. When the machine stops – let it set for a bit and then start dishing it up for everyone to enjoy.

Over the years, my family has added in peaches, strawberries, and even a touch of lemon to our recipe. And, by the way, July is National Ice Cream month, so if you haven’t done so yet, be sure and have a delicious bowlful, homemade or not, on a hot, summer day this month – you’ve got 13 days left!

Blessings,
Nancy

Thankful Thursday

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I Thessalonians 5:16-18

We’re on vacation this week, so my Thankful Thursday list revolves around family and special times together.

1. I am thankful for long car rides when we can talk to each other and get away from our everyday world for a time to focus on being a family together –

2. I am thankful for comfy hotels that become our “home away from home”, or “base camp” – a place to come home to and rest after a day of vacationing fun –

3. I am thankful for fun theme parks where we can see amazing sights like this –

and this –

and this –

(yes, that is a sea otter waterskiing.)

4. I am thankful for God’s beautiful creation which supplies us with many wonderful opportunities for observation and inspiration –

5. I am thankful for this, as much as anything else –

Laughter and family togetherness and wonderful life-long memories being made.

To find more Thankful Thursday participants, click on the button below.

Blessings,
Nancy

On Vacation!!

I am now coming to you live from our hotel room with glorious free wireless internet! (glorious, because it’s the first time I’ve been able to get online since Friday morning due to our internet going down at home.) Yes, it’s vacation time and we have headed south to sunny San Antonio, Texas for a week of fun and family bonding. The gang’s all here – all 11 of us – including our oldest son, Robert, who has come along for all the thrills.

We left home this afternoon, 3 hours later than we had planned (no surprise there), but were pleasantly surprised that it didn’t take as long as we thought to get here. We have now settled into our really neat hotel room and ordered 4 pizzas (which have just arrived!). Our room is really neat because it’s one big “family” room – with 1 king bed, 2 full beds, a fold out couch and a roll-away. It’s really going to be fun all staying in the same room together. We have brought along a new game to play in our spare time – Indiana Jones LIFE boardgame – maybe after the littles get to sleep.

This should be a fun trip for all. We used to come here many years back when our older children were small, so they are looking forward to revisiting the old spots. Our younger children have never been, so are looking forward to doing all of the fun things they’ve heard about.

While we are off on vacation, the little darlings at home (pets) are being cared for by my most capable brother, who is housesitting while we’re gone. Thanks Mike!!!

That’s all for now. It’s good to be back online, and it’s good to be on vacation! Until later . . .

Blessings,
Nancy