Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Red Food

On Valentine's Day, I described how I would honor the day with red food. That was it. No flowers, a little candy, a few cards, and a kiss here and there. Nothing more special than that.

Since I had already lined up Monday's post, I didn't respond to Aunt Amelia's suggestion to provide a menu, until now. Soooo, as one who aims to please and as one who needed a Tuesday post...

How's that for product placement? Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Zinger tea is fast becoming a favorite around here. Since I am sipping on that very cup of tea writing this post, I can assure you that it is delicious.

And the sweet Valentine? Made by none-other than the very talented Miss Sandy of Quill Cottage!

The cookies? Oh, they're my "go-to" cookie anymore. You may have your chocolate chip, I'm taking Boggles. Boggles is a cookie recipe taken from a Hannah Swensen mystery written by Joanne Fluke called Fudge Cupcake Murder. Nan was reading it last fall and recognized an excellent recipe when she saw it. Well, as I say, it's incredibly delicious with just the right texture for me — crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside. (The recipe will be at the end of this post.)

Nan has lots of ideas about good recipes. Not long ago, she told John and me that we eat "funny." She wondered about all the chicken. She didn't have chicken only once or twice a year before she landed here. Ha! She carried on about some recipe for tomato scallop from her childhood that she loved and fervently wished to have again.

Serendipity struck when I mentioned this to my mother and she gave me my grandmother's own recipe. I've been saving it for Valentine's Day. It was also amazingly good and Nan was very pleased. There's none left so that's a good indication of how wonderful it was.


A *Hannah Swensen* recipe


* 2 cups melted butter
* 2 cups brown sugar
* 2 cups white sugar
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1 tsp salt
* 4 eggs (beaten)
* 2 tsp vanilla
* ½ tsp cinnamon
* ¼ tsp nutmeg
* 4 cups flour
* 3 cups Craisins or dried cranberries
* 3 cups rolled oats


* Preheat oven to 350°
* Melt butter
* Add sugars and allow to cool a bit
* Add salt, vanilla, and spices
* Add eggs
* dd flour and mix with electric mixer
* After the above ingredients are well incorporated
* Stir in cranberries and oats and mix all together
(Dough will be stiff)
* Drop onto parchment lined cookie sheet with a cookie scoop and bake for 12–15 minutes.
* Allow to cool on pan for two minutes
* Remove to cookie racks for further cooking.

This makes a nice large batch of cookies and good luck keeping them on hand!
Printable Recipe

Snappy Tomatoes

A Nana Recipe


* 2 cups canned tomatoes
* ½ cup cracker crumbs
* 2 TBS chopped onion
* 1 tsp salt
* 4 TBS melted butter
* ½ cup finely grated cheese of choice...I used cheddar
* dash of paprika
* dash of pepper
* 1 well-beaten egg


* Reserve some of the cracker crumbs for the topping
* Mix all together
* Place in a 6×9 inch pan
* Top with reserved cracker crumbs
* Bake in 350° oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Printable Recipe

Now, as I took a lot of pictures for this post and didn't use them, I'm tossing in a mosaic. I can't waste them!

Enjoy a great Tuesday!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Show and Tell

Do you remember Show and Tell day from kindergarten or first grade? I do. Very well, in fact. I even remember the one item that I most loved showing — my dolly. She was all dressed in a coral crocheted number that my mother made for her. It included the dress and a little sweater with pearl buttons and a hat, too. Plus booties. Oh she was a vision was that little doll baby of mine.

Anyway, perhaps it's because I know the quality of my mother's workmanship that I have a difficult time making things for her. I know that I can't do as well as she does. Case in point...tea cozy #2. The design is a bit off center and it stands a bit wonky, but I did double turn it so that the inside seams are not raw edges. That's an improvement over mine. As John likes to say, "By the time I get these projects perfected, I'll be on to the next thing."

Still, I was terribly impressed with myself for creating this pot holder for my sister. It's partly made from a vintage tablecloth that used to be on our childhood home's table. It's a lot of fun to make, too. *Here's* the link for figuring it out for yourselves or you can watch it below. This gal does a great job of explaining! I think she used 8-inch squares, but I used 10-inch squares for a nice big one.

Did you think that I was going to make you look at tea cozies every few days for nothing? Noooo, it's time for a giveaway! (The drawing will be March 1, 2010 at 7 pm EST.) I'm offering a tea cozy like one of these wonky ones pictured. Nothing special and only for those who find this post and read this far shhhhhhhh. All you have to do is tell me what your kitchen/dining room colors are and what your favorite tea is. (Yes, and don't you know it, this is really a test to see if people actually read my posts. I've had the sneaking suspicion...)

So that's my Monday story, I'm eager to hear yours!

Edited to Add: March 1, 2010 @ 7: 08 pm Comments have closed, which feels ridiculous to say since no one has commented in days and days. Guess tea cozies don't make the best giveaways. ;>

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Create yourselves the day that you'd most like to have! (I'm making red food. That's it. Red food.) And, to set a romantic tone, especially if you're of a certain age because my playlist is definitely vintage, feel free to listen to it multiple times.

God bless!


Saturday, February 13, 2010

I Believe in Love

I don't believe in superstars,
Organic food and foreign cars.
I don't believe the price of gold;
The certainty of growing old.
That right is right and left is wrong,
That north and south can't get along.
That east is east and west is west.
And being first is always best.

But I believe in love.
I believe in babies.
I believe in Mom and Dad.
And I believe in you.

Well, I don't believe that heaven waits,
For only those who congregate.
I like to think of God as love:
He's down below, He's up above.
He's watching people everywhere.
He knows who does and doesn't care.
And I'm an ordinary man,
Sometimes I wonder who I am.

But I believe in love.
I believe in music.
I believe in magic.
And I believe in you.

Well, I know with all my certainty,
What's going on with you and me,
Is a good thing.
It's true, I believe in you.

I don't believe virginity,
Is as common as it used to be.
In working days and sleeping nights,
That black is black and white is white.
That Superman and Robin Hood,
Are still alive in Hollywood.
That gasoline's in short supply,
The rising cost of getting by.

But I believe in love.
I believe in old folks.
I believe in children.
I believe in you.

But I believe in love.
I believe in babies.
I believe in Mom and Dad.
And I believe in you.

Yes, well, that pretty much sums up my philosophy with a few extras tucked in and a few left off. This is one of John's favorites and he's still likely to grab me by the hand and whirl me around in a little sway dance, to which this song easily lends itself. Perhaps you and your beloved will give it a whirl this weekend yourselves.

And that's why you hear it playing on my playlist this weekend (and only this weekend as I usually keep the playlist turned off). Scroll down to the bottom of the page and press the off button if you don't want to listen. ♫ music

Have a great Saturday and enjoy those Olympic games!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tea Cozy

Thank you all for your wonderful comments, which have buoyed me considerably. I know that behind those comments are a lot of prayers. I can sense them and am so grateful for them.

And, I am taking your advice to heart. It may not be possible to get out of the house for a getaway very often, but I can get away in the house. It had been weeks and weeks since playing in my craft room. Though I'm not a very good crafter, I do enjoy my puttering time. Nan had her silver bell to ring for me and that gave me a few hours upstairs. She read. I sewed. It worked. She only rang once. ;D

So now I am in the tea cozy business (do not take this too literally...no Etsy shop in my future). My hope is to make all the ladies in the family a nice tea cozy because I have been enjoying my tea times tremendously. Chamomile is wonderfully calming and I need all the calming I can get.

Using Insul-Bright, yesterday's project was a repurposing of a torn pillow sham. Since it was going to be the prototype and the pillow sham was a gift from my daughter and I was keeping it, there was little fretting and lots of fun. I mean, look at it! What could I possibly have done to harm it? Ha!

Here's the finished cozy sitting on the jelly cupboard with a rooster button covering a patched hole...

Next up...

The thing that is really floating my boat is that there's enough old pillow sham to make a kind of matching cozy for my daughter. She doesn't drink tea, but who knows? One day, she may want to give the cozy a try.

Hope that if life should become stressful, you'll try a project and a cup of chamomile tea. A blessed day to you...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cheesy Corn Chowder and Dessert Too

What a beautiful day has dawned here in the Northeast. My corner missed all that snowy mess even though the storm clouds were gathered. It reminded me all day of a quote I like: For every ten problems you see coming down the road, nine roll harmlessly into the ditch before they arrive. ~ Calvin Coolidge

Yesterday morning was busy with taking my mother for treatments, but yesterday afternoon she surprised us by wanting to come here for the remainder of the day. After lunch, she sent John and me off with a good wish for enjoying the afternoon while she stayed with her mother.

John and I so enjoyed getting away. We ran some quick errands, took a drive through the back country and found the most wonderful new business sprung up...a maple syrup business...so I shall be sharing more about that once that season has arrived. We drove through Kentucky Fried Chicken and ordered some of their apple pies. Love those things! We ate them in front of the public garden closed for the season, but we enjoyed the winter view all the same. Then we went to the flea market.

Back home, I put on the potatoes for a delicious if.I.do.say.so.myself. cheesy corn chowder...recipe to follow. Then it was off for a walk with John. A walk! Oh joy unspeakable and I remembered to take my camera and so I experimented with some of Ree's techniques. You do all know that she gives great tips *here in the photography section*. Anywho, for seeing some truly beautiful photography submitted by her readers, take a look. It's enough to make one very humble.

Here are my pitiful offerings. (NOOOO! I did not submit these. ;> )

High Aperture (Background in focus, subject blurry)

Low Aperture (background blurry; subject in focus)

Then back home for the putting together of the chowder and the making of corn bread or Johnny cake. We enjoyed a tummy-warming meal together and then I quickly made my dear friend Mrs. G's Gourmet Pears for dessert. Since I have modified it, I don't think that Mrs. G would mind my sharing my version. (BTW, Mrs. G., should you be reading...hope that you and yours are well.)

Finally, it was back to the city with my mother so that she could catch her ride home. My sister was working until six, but her twelve-hour shift turned into a fourteen-hour one. (Nurses have brutal shifts!) It gave mom and me lots of time to chat.

So here are those recipes...

Cheesy Corn Chowder

(This makes a huge batch so don't hesitate to divide it for a family of four.)


* 4 lbs potatoes
* 1 onion chopped fine
* 2 cans evaporated milk
* 2 cans whole kernal corn
* 2 cans creamed corn
* 3 cans Campbell Cheddar Cheese Soup (1 can for a halved recipe will work fine)
* salt and pepper to taste


Cook potatoes and onion with enough water to cover potatoes. Cook until tender. Drain off the water and add remaining ingredients. Simmer over low heat until piping hot.

I also added some ground sausage to this pot for an extra taste sensation. Yummy!

Gourmet Pears


* 2 cans drained pears (14 ounce cans)
* ½ cup plain yogurt + 1 TBS sour cream
* 3 egg yolks
* 3 TBS brandy, rum or sherry. Yes, vanilla extract will work, too.
* 4 or 5 TBS brown sugar


In a small saucepan, combine yogurt, sour cream, sugar, and egg yolks. Cook stirring constantly until the sauce is thickened...you'll know...about three minutes. Stir in brandy or whatever you're using. Place drained pears in an ovenproof dish, pour sauce over the pears, and sprinkle with brown sugar. Broil for three or four minutes. (A toaster oven works well for this.) May be served hot or chilled. (We ate ours warm...so delicious!)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Setting a New Tone

As women, we set the tone for our homes. This I firmly believe.

And it's some tone that I am setting of late. I do not wonder why my beloved is stressed or why I am stressed or even why my grandmother is stressed. It's my fault. All my fault.

Why does it seem as if every little thing she does is aimed at creating maximum annoyance...from the bathroom visits that last over an hour to the scraping of her breakfast bowl dozens of times? This morning, I asked her to please stop. "It's getting on my last nerve. It's unnecessary because it's not helping. You're not getting any more oatmeal that way. I'll make you another bowl if you want more." She was offended; I was irritated: Great combination.

So today I will call a support group. A social worker who visited last fall thought I'd be a candidate one day. I loved that social worker. She was the one who said, when Nan shared that she worries that her cat will smother itself, "You can't possibly believe that your cat would be that stupid!" Actually, she slipped and said something even more to the point, but that's my little secret.

And in other news, my mother is having a port placed today for nutrition and hydration purposes. She is in jeopardy just now in that regard and so we are praying that this will tide her over until she is able to have surgery next week. Lots of things going on all the time around here.

Anyway, back to Nan... One day, if we are blessed, we shall live to be old. Actually, my opinion of living to be old has changed drastically since caring for my grandmother. I'd rather not live to be old thank.you.very.much. (Well shoot! It's already too late for that.) And even saying that is putting my will first and that is the problem in the first place. It is not about what I want. It is about what the Lord has planned. Surely, I can rest in that.

For now, I need to realize that it is important to treat the aged with the respect that they deserve and with tenderness...great tenderness. I am standing in the need of providing both. Today.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Head for Margo's

Since I've got nothing, I'm sending you to Margo's for a laugh. It's probably only funny to those who weren't nailed with that big snowstorm last Friday and Saturday. This guy missed his calling...he might be better suited for a pulpit somewhere. :D Oh, and be grateful if he's not giving the warning to your corner.

(I'm still much too busy fluffing in here. How many changes does this make so far? At least 27. Aren't you glad that you didn't see all of them? No voting allowed. ;>)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What Does the Lord Require?

From time to time, I find myself pondering what it is that God wants of me, where He wants me to go, how I should have reacted in any given situation (yes, it's always after the fact), what words I should say, what I should do. Pondering isn't exactly the correct word, although I do think on these things. Usually, this could be better (and more honestly) described as fretting, stewing, churning.

It's part of the human condition. And just when I believe that nothing else could possibly happen to stir my world up any more, something always does. The enemy of our souls is like that.

This time it involves the youngest member of my family...questions and deep concerns. And so I've been pondering, fretting, stewing...praying. One day, prayer will top the list and remain there, I hope! Prayer does change things even when it is the calming of the churning. Of course, we yearn for more.

In the end, what will matter? What will stand alone as the single most important thing? Thankfully, I don't have to come up with that answer. It's already been provided in the Word of God. The Word has always proven true in my life and it can be proven true in all our lives and throughout our lifetimes as we yield our very selves to Him.

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

(P.S. No sooner had this post been finished [I am writing on Friday, February 5], than I found myself at Suzanne's. She's always good for a cup of coffee and food for thought. This is what I found: The Firestorm. It blessed me and I'm pretty sure that it will bless you, too.)

Peace, Dear Ones.

photo source

Friday, February 5, 2010

Slipping Zoom Settings

Zoom level: 100%

Got myself quite an education yesterday when my zoom settings slipped. I saw what some of you have been privately complaining to me about. Hmmm... Well, I still like my background and will keep it *through Valentine's Day, but I admit that it's busy when you see that much of it. Personally, I can't handle the zoom level at anything less than 160%. What do you keep your zoom setting on?

Zoom level: 160%

Have a great weekend and enjoy the Super Bowl, if you're planning to watch. Are you?

*Edited to Add: Oh my! I had no idea the can of worms this would open. I hasten to add that I decided to change it rather than risk losing readers. Not over some silly background. This still isn't what I want, but I'll have to check into it further. Tried doing my own background and nearly lost my blog. Yikes! Closing comments for now and DON'T email me either. ☺

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Kathy's Gift

What a nice surprise! Noooo, it really was more than that when I received an unexpected package earlier this week. It was more like a reminder...just a little something to say I'm thinking of you and wanting to encourage you. In fact, those were the kinds of words that Kathy used in her email later. It worked.

It's a vintage book of essays by Helen V. Taylor about growing up in Maine. Kathy suggests that my family may want to read the book aloud...true, but I've been doing some advance snooping and I've found a paragraph that could be written about my life here at Haven.

As an old lady she was like a little sparrow. She chattered and chattered and much of what she said was about herself. She was curious about everything and when a team went by the house she quickly went to the window and stood to one side and told us details about the passerby...her gentle voice flowed on and on, around us and beside us, and she didn't often expect a response.

Yes, this could have been written about my grandmother, perhaps about many grandmothers. Nan has, given her front room location, the job of town crier. She is quick to let us know when the mailman has delivered the mail or the plow is making another sweep. She doesn't think that I can hear these things without her announcement. Too cute! Her favorite announcement is that John is home. Mine, too.

Mostly, it reminds me of a Laura Ingalls Wilder book being from the same genre. And the illustrations are so sweet. The chapter called "Maine Winter" describes nearly every winter I've ever known...

Winters in Maine were long and severe. Snow usually fell in early November and the ground was not bare until late March.

But my favorite is a little recipe from the same chapter. Next time it snows I'll try this and report back...

When soft clean snow had just fallen on the kitchen windowsill, Mother would let me open the window quickly and fill a bowl with snow. Then I sprinkled it with sugar and the juice of an orange. It made snow ice cream which had to be eaten fast before it melted.

You will find Kathy at Shocking Pink Thread and you'll be glad that you did!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

In Search of Built-In Beds

How do ideas come to you for posts? They often come to me from other bloggers. (Ibloggers!) For example, I have always appreciated Swedish architecture and Swedish homes. I've told you about my love of Carl Larsson and all this before I married a Swede. So when I read Judy's post and found her little grandson cozily tucked down in Judy's closet, euphemistically described as "the other guest room," I thought about built-in Swedish beds and how much I've always wanted them and how perfect it would be for my grandsons. And I wondered if my Swede could be talked into creating some and on and on.

Let's begin with a photo of Carl Larsson's bed captured from my little book on Sundborn...

Although it appears to be a built-in as in up against a wall, it's really centered in the room. You can see another view of it here at Adventures in Daily Living. Though it's not up against a wall, it has those features that charm such as the curtains, which can be drawn and the curved lines.

Then, as it happened, I read Melissa's post about Winter Bliss(dom) and found the most perfect built-in situation, which sent me searching further.

Funny thing about this "searching further" as it often brings one right back home. And that's what I found in my search for built-in beds — a Maine architectural photographer and his amazing work — Brian Vanden Brink. You are in for a treat if you visit his web site. So much to see there...much more than beds! If the name sounds familiar, it's because his work has been featured in many books and magazines.

And I found what I think would be the perfect built-in for little boys, though mine would have to include a window. Those confined spaces get quite stuffy.

Or perhaps this...

maybe something like this, which is so charming again because of the curtains...


No, I think the first, which I learned was created in Norway for an American ambassador now living on the coast of Maine. How interesting! The wave flourishes are a nod to the sea, of course. You can read more about the design *here.*

If you require beds using very little space thereby saving room for work or play or if you just think being cocooned in such a cozy spot would be bliss, perhaps you'll be thinking about built-ins, too.

A happy day to you!

Monday, February 1, 2010



Such a great resource for vintage kids' Valentine cards. They take me back...way back and are, in my opinion, far more charming than the Valentines of today.

(Oh, and for those who may not know and wish to...Alt and 3 equal a heart symbol.)
(Edited to add: Mac users? & hearts ; is the formula minus the spaces. Oh, and would a Mac user please let me know if that works? One more thing, Mac users have an options key instead of an alt key???)

As you can tell, it's been all about playing in here with color and what-not. My sincere apologies for not having a real post, but it's been great fun to goof around.

Enjoy this first February day of 2010...
(And it's true, you know: You do suit me to a tea!)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Don't Worry

(Imagine a black and white photograph of a country road where two roads have recently converged. Newly fallen snow shows sets of tire tracks. There are trees overhead creating a canopy. Although I thought it best to remove the photograph, not having had permission to use the photo, you can see it by following the former photo source.)

On this final day of January...

Don't worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow's going to come and take care of itself in its own time. Embrace this day even with its troubles; pay attention to this day. (my take on Matthew 6:34)

...Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ~Matthew 6:34 NIV

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. ~ Proverbs 3:5&6

Have a wonderful day!

Photo Source

Friday, January 29, 2010

Coldest Day of the Year

...so they tell us. That'd be good as another day like this wouldn't be much fun. The furnace has run all day long and still I can feel the chill about my feet.

It looked like this with the wind howling and blowing up puffs of snow. All pictures look as if patches of fog are drifting across the landscape, but it's really a fine snow powder.

We had company for lunch — my mother and sister. It was too bad that they chose this day to get out and about. My mother looked so small and cold when she came in that I wanted to gather her in like a child and wrap her in a cozy blanket. Instead, I served her tea right away and had her sit nearest the heat.

This afternoon while taking care of emails, the view beyond my window was this...

Inside it was this...

my nan's bed. I seriously considered asking her if I could climb in there and take a nap. She didn't need it...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Grandson and His Pirate Snowman

A Hat on Backwards works just as well, if you don't mind not being able to see

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Could It Be Any Easier?

No, I think not.

And it's delicious, too.

You can take my word for it.

What you ask?


We had it for supper last night. Three thumbs up.

And what's easier than a skillet cake? I've mentioned the recipe that I found at Cherry Hill Cottage. This time I substituted a cup of walnuts for the fruit and used chocolate cake mix. It's quite good. And easy. And easy is what I'm looking for these days.

This is one of those cakes that gets even better with time. A generous dollop of whipped cream or some ice cream doesn't hurt either. Hope that you'll give it a try.

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Being Present Through January's Final Week

It occurs to me that I should apologize for the quality of the photos here lately. It's either the camera, the photographer or the dreary days...

Dreary days require some warmth so I've been glad that I left some Christmas color around this January. I'm still celebrating winter though celebrating is much too strong a word; it's really more that I'm not anticipating spring yet. There's still this last week of January to live and I want to be like Teresa @ Plumwater Cottage who is working on being present.

The little snowman above is the direct result of visiting Dawn at The Feathered Nest and a blogger named Kerry whom she featured. *You must see Kerry's bottle,* if you've not already...such a good idea! I need to make a little quote for my snowman.

Last, I'm still playing with the centerpiece. This is where it is so far. Hope that it's done now, but I never know.

Oh good heavens! I now see that I am a total sham. Look at those roses! Nothing very January about those now is there?!

Have a great Tuesday, Dear Ones...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Up to Somethin'

Been thinking about this trouble spot since I visited Margo's Junkin' Journal a few days ago. The solution had been brewing and I knew that I had just the thing...just exactly "the thing," but where was it?

Not there...

Not there...

Not there...

Not there!

Bravely, I struck off after it...

twice! (This was a reenactment for blogging purposes don'tcha know.)

Much better! What's that? Yes, I was in my nightie. Doesn't every gal scamper about her backyard in January this way?

Yes! This will work...

if I don't get carried away with the cleaning

and leave just the right amount of dirt and mold. Gotta love those nice chippy cracks, too.

Determined to achieve my goal of creating a new centerpiece similar to Margo's, I decided not to even sneak a peek at the original.

Still no peeks, obviously... :-/

Had to peek

Calling it quits for today, though I'm going to try again soon. Stay tuned for further developments.

In the meantime, check out *Margo's Junkin' Journal Giveaway*