Saturday, August 31, 2013

Make a treasure out of someone else's junk!

One of my favorite projects is to find old chair someone has dumped because the seat is broken or a leg needs glue. I have found three different old rush and caned chairs left for trash. First I sanded the chair, glued loose joints and put a new finishing stain and varnish on it. Replacing rush seats is fairly easy but most available rush these days is plastic and not so nice to sit on.  Now I have just finished the alternative way to redo seat. I had scraps of quilting cottons that I made 1" wide strips that I stitched together in long pieces. I used to do this to braid rag rugs. I used the rag balls to redo seat. Not only does it look great and colorful but it is more comfortable and stronger.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Back in the kitchen for motivation on my cookbook!

So another year has slipped by on me but now I am really taking my cookbook seriously! I have started retesting some old recipes to make sure they turn out as good as I remember and tweaking them a bit. I am starting out with breakfast recipes that I really like and I am hoping to get feedback on each recipe as to how clear the instructions are and how well they turn out. My past experience taught me that a recipe should be tested by at least 3 people before it goes into a book. I hope that by publishing some of the recipes on this blog will get me some helpful feedback!

First on my list is "Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Muffins with Streusel Topping"
 I have tried several different recipes and I think this one comes out the best.

Banana Nut Muffins with Chocolate Chips


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 overripe bananas
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1 package mini chocolate chips

Streusel Topping is optional if you like sweeter muffins

1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly butter 2 muffin tins. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Mash 3 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together like you mean it, for a good 3 minutes. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla and beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas and chocolate chips with a rubber spatula. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins to fill them about halfway. Give them a rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out. Sprinkle a little streusel on top of each muffin. Bake until a toothpick stuck in the muffins comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before turning the muffins out. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Time to start writing my first cookbook!

It has been a wild couple of years for me but I am ready to start writing my first cookbook. I have been going over all of my recipes and have decided to get them tested and evaluated by my friends and anyone willing to try them. I worked on 3 different cookbooks published by The Junior League in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, CA and Milwaukee, WI and the most valuable rule I learned was to have every recipe tested by 3 people. This helps to determine if the recipe is easy to follow and Comes out tasting the same each time. I also want to know which ones are the favorites. I am trying to start with kid friendly ideas that change kids views on vegetables and that help families to eat healthier. I want to encourage everyone to bring kids into to kitchen and families back to the table to break bread together. When kids help prepare meals they are more likely to enjoy them. I often try things out alone and start with getting my kids to like dishes with those awful green things slipped in. Once they acquire the taste for it I try to get them to help prepare those dishes. I have cooked for school hot lunches and lots of kids parties or family gatherings and so many things are easy to make from scratch and taste so much better than packaged foods. The best example I can give is macaroni and cheese. Just think about how you can vary the favors by using different cheeses or adding things like bacon bits, vegetables in tiny bits or topping it with sliced tomatoes and bread crumbs to spruce it up for a party. I have found that kids will eat lots of things they said they hated if a bunch of their friends are eating it and like it. Good old fashioned peer pressure works. They also might try something new if they can dissect what they don't like from it and give their own evaluation to you. I am hopping to get my kids to test these recipes for me. After all my youngest and pickiest eater is 17 now and started requesting recipes he missed. When I was about 10 I had a favorite meal my mom made and suddenly stopped making it. My mom was not the best of cooks but she made these great individual crock dinners with pork chops and gravy over egg noodles. When I asked her why she stopped making them she told me my older brother didn't like them. My answer to my kids was to try to reinvent things they didn't like and offer choices to go with those things or serve them tiny portions of that item along with something I knew they liked a lot. The older they get the less picky they become. Look for my recipes when I post them and let me know how they were. I will most likely post one or two recipes from each book section. I also would love to know what types of recipes people are looking for.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Tale of Three Trees

The Tale of Three Trees

      Once upon a mountaintop, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted. to become when they grew up. The first little tree looked up at the stars twinkling like diamonds above him. “I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I will be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!" The second little tree looked
out at the small stream trickling by on its way to the ocean.. "I want to be a strong,sailing ship,” he said. I want to travel mighty waters and carry 'powerful kings. I .will be the strongest ship in the world!” The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and busy women worked in a busy town. “I don't want to leave this mountaintop at all,”she said: "I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me they. will raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world!” .       Years passed. The rains came, the sun shone, and. the little trees grew tall.
      One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain.
The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, “This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me.” With a swoop 'of
his shining ax, the first tree fell. 
     ''Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest,” thought the first tree. I shall hold wonderful treasure.”
The second wood
cutter looked at the second tree and said, This tree is strong. It is perfect for me.” With a
swoop of his ax, the second tree fell. 
     ''Now I shall sail mighty waters,” thought the second. tree, “I shall be a strong ship fit for kings!" r '
The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed
bravely to heaven. But the woodcutter never even looked up, “Any kind of tree will do for me,” he muttered. With a swoop of his shining ax, the third. tree fell.'
.     The first tree rejoiced when 'the woodcutter brought him; to a carpenter's shop, but the busy carpenter was not thinking about treasure chests. .Instead his work worn hands fashioned the tree into a feed box for animals.
The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold or filled with treasure. Hi was coated with sawdust and filled with hay for hungry animals.
    The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took him to the shipyard, but no mighty sailing ships were being made that day. Instead the once-strong tree hammered and sawed into a simple fishing boat. Too small and too weak to sail an ocean or river, he was taken to a little lake. Every day he brought in loads of dead, smelly fish.
    The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong beams and left her in the lumberyard.
What happened?” the once-tall tree wondered. “All I ever wanted to do was stay on the mountaintop and
point to God.”
Many, many days and nights passed. The three trees Nearly forgot their dreams.
But one night golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feed
    I wish I could make a cradle for him,” her husband whispered. The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth sturdy wood. “This manger is beautiful,” she said.
    And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.
One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake.
Soon a thundering and thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. He knew he did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through the wind and rain.
The tired man awakened. He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, “Peace.” The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun. 
      And suddenly the second tree knew he was carrying the King of heaven and earth.
    One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry, jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man's hands to her.
She felt ugly and harsh and cruel.
But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that
God's love had changed everything.
It had made the fist tree beautiful.
It had made the second tree strong.
And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God.
That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Twas the week before Christmas

Twas the week before Christmas and all through my house
All the kitties are scrambling to undecorate the tree
The stockings are packed away in a sack
In hopes of surprising my kids on the road

We're taking the holiday to my daughter and friends
As Laura is working and cannot come home
So Will and I are driving to San Francisco or bust
In my Jeep sleigh packed tight with our holiday load

I'm leaving instructions for pet sitters to read
I'm hoping the kitties don't trash the whole house
If they can be good they'll get some new toys
For Minny, Penelope, Amy and Toad

So for all of the elves who are busy right now
Just remember it's Christmas and Joy's in the air
Enjoy every minute you spend with your kids
To all who are traveling may you have a safe flight! 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Life's View Somedays!

"Mom, mom, mommy, ma, mom, mom, ma, ma, mommy, mommy... WHAT!!... hi!
 This picture says a lot to me. It is how my kids persist when they want my attention! It's how I must look when I am chasing raccoons away from the food I leave out for a few feral cats I feed outside or scaring squirrels out of my tomato plants. It's even the ring tone I use for my Mom so I know when she calls. There are so many little things I do to keep my days brighter and laughing must be a part of every day. I truely believe that humor is an important part of life and good health.
I came across this cartoon on my daughter's Facebook page and all I could think about was what a wonderful scenes of humor she has developed. I also see that developing in my son. I just had a great call from him and we were talking about cute and funny things that both of my kids did or said when they were little. I loved looking back at so many happy things that came to us in our conversation. It was the way they expressed themselves when they were small and it all fit into who they are now. I suppose they wouldn't want the world to know all of those things but some of them were very precious like my daughter at 2 or 3 asking if she could have a hingabanger and trench tries from McDonald's or wanting to watch "Snow White and the 7 Dorfs" for the 20th time. It made my son laugh and brought a big smile to me and a warm feeling about our closeness at that moment. Finding new ways to improve our connections to our kids is so important as they become teens and then adults. It is so enlightening when you stumble onto new ways to understand them and I think they must feel good when they know you are listening to their thoughts and ideas.
It all comes back to finding common ground and parenting teens in new ways. 
I would like to recommend a great book on communicating with teens. Parenting Teens With Love; Logic by Foster Cline MD & Jim Fay. This is a must read book. It guides you how to ask the right questions to get your children thinking and working out things for themselves. After all we all need to let them grow up and be independent. I have put a link to this book from Amazon and it is so worth reading.