She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. Proverbs 31

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

From My Kitchen ~ Banana Bread

This recipe for Banana Bread was shared with me by my neighbor, Jeanne. It makes one loaf of moist bread and fills the entire house with the most wonderful fragrance. It never lasts more than a day around here.

In fact, I didn't tell a soul I was baking bread because I wanted to take a photo before the vultures began circling. But it is not easy to keep this fragrant bread a secret.

And sure enough after it got really baking there was someone marching through my kitchen every 5 minutes. I even got "volunteers" to help me loosen it from the pan and put it into the basket! Such generous men I live with ~ LOL! No one ever volunteers to help with the broccoli. Luke even convinced me that the photo would look better with one piece taken out. And I think it really does!

Funny, no one offered to wash the pan!

Banana Bread
1 c sugar
1/2 c butter, softened
2 eggs, unbeaten
1 1/2 c ripe bananas, mashed
1 T lemon juice
2 C plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 c nuts, chopped
1 t vanilla

Cream the sugar and butter together. Add eggs one at a time and beat well.
Then stir in bananas and lemon juice.

Sift flour with baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture mixing quickly.

Add vanilla and stir in chopped nuts.

Bake in greased 9x5x3 loaf pan at 350 degrees for about 1 hour. Cool on rack.

You can use whatever nuts you have on hand. Jeanne used walnuts which was really delicious, but I chose pecans because I have those in abundance. It did change the taste slightly but was really good nonetheless.

Mary at And Even If ... told me that you can freeze overripe bananas in their peeling until you're ready to make bread. I didn't know that. I can't tell you how many bananas have been tossed in the compost heap. It will be nice to have some on hand just when I want a fresh loaf of bread, and to be less wasteful as well.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bloggy wins & weekend chatter

I recently won two lovely giveaways and just wanted to share my gifts ~

From Patricia at Vintage Linen Treasures I received this beautiful hand-embroidered linen. I just love it and will use it in my bedroom redo in April. I am so drawn to vintage & farmhouse accents that I just know I'll be adding more of those pretty things to my home decorating. If you enjoy vintage treasures, you will certainly enjoy visiting Patricia's peaceful journal. Thank you so much, Patricia!

And on Friday, I receive these treasures in the mail from Dena at Crazy Lady Primitives. Each is in one of my favorite fragrances, Pumpkin Crunch Cake. Honestly, I wish you could smell this. Even my boys were impressed. They agree that it smells exactly like the real thing ... so much that I had to bake them some pumpkin bread that evening! LOL Thanks, Dena, for sharing!

Our weekend has been a quiet one.

On Friday, I did take Jase (19) to the doctor. He fainted on Thursday morning for no apparent reason and now the doctor wants to run some tests on his heart. So we'll go to the hospital on Monday for an EKG and then he'll wear a heart monitor for 24 hours to record his heart function. He will not be released to drive until they rule out any problems that might occur again since this happened last April as well. Yet another challenge before us it seems. But God has brought us through some pretty tremendous challenges, and I'm certain He'll carry us through this one as well.

So today we stayed quietly at home. Jase did go to work for a couple of hours but they sent him home early to rest. And while he rested, Jeff & the younger boys spent the day having a "Matchbox Car Challenge." They run this little plastic car track from a table in the living room to the slick floor of the kitchen. Then the cars are sent down the track and they race to see whose can go the farthest across the long kitchen floor. Oh the fun a little gravity can afford!

You would think they were actually racing at Nascar with the whooping and cheering going on. Colton loves it ~ he hums, rocks and flaps at the same time which is a sure sign that he is a happy kid! They have hundreds of cars and they have a name for each ~ names like Orange Peel, Yellow Lightening, The Monkey, Golden Sun, and The Lion. And what amazes me is that they know them all without fail! (And Colton tries to tell me that he can't possibly remember the 50 states???? I don't buy that for one minute.) DH still has cars from his childhood and has bought cars for the boys since Jase was born. It is quite a sight! Just watching them, I feel like I get a little peek at my husband when he was a boy.

Meanwhile, I sat at the end of the kitchen as "judge" and folded laundry, watched some videos on Square Foot Gardening while taking notes and did some baking. I think I've hardly left kitchen all day but it was pleasant nonetheless.

Tonight we're going to watch a family movie. Did you know you can watch movies on-line for free? We only have one channel at home and most all of it is indecent for viewing so I was thrilled when the boys discovered a way we can selectively choose a movie now & then ~ even the old family classics that most video shops don't even carry these days. And I am so hoping that I get to do a little hand sewing while we enjoy the movie!

Hope you're all enjoying your weekend as well!


Friday, January 23, 2009

My Favorite Things ~ Fresh Eggs

Fresh eggs directly from the hen are most definately one of my favorite things. I spent all my life dreaming about a simpler life, and now that I'm finally here, it really is everything I had hoped for. I don't think I'll ever get over the thrill of walking outside early in the morning to find breakfast freshly delivered, free of hormones and chemicals.

Not everyone shares my endless enthusiasm. I walked into the kitchen this morning cradling those 3 warm eggs in my hand and announced to Colton in my silly sing song voice, "Look what I have for breakfast!" He smiled very sweetly and then said, "Mom, you do this every morning!" LOL Guess he is just not as thrilled as I am. But let me tell you, he sure does enjoy his country breakfast.

I hope to post soon about some frugal and green homemade cleaning products that I've been using. I really enjoy spending less and feeling good about having eliminating chemicals in my home and environment. I've been using a soft scrub and a spray cleaner that are working marvelously and costs just pennies to make. I'm looking forward to sharing those soon.

Well I'm off to town now. Jase needs to see the doctor today and while we're there, I hope to treat the boys to an ice cream. It's a sunshiney, warm day and I'm looking forward to the country drive. It won't be long before the daffodils will begin making their appearance. I can hardly wait!

Be blessed,

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Anniversary Quilt

Long, long ago in a time almost forgotten, I began a sampler quilt! LOL In fact, it was 12 years ago. I can't believe I actually admitted that ~ so embarrassing.

I had carried Colton for 3 months when premature labor began. The doctor ordered complete flat bed rest for the remaining 6 months. During that time, Mom came over every day and stayed until Jeff returned from work. She cared for me and Jase (8) and Luke (3), cooked our meals, kept house and kept me company. (Such an angel!) It was during that trying time that I began to piece these sampler blocks.

I've averaged about .75 blocks per year (don't laugh)! But this year, I have decided that this project needs to be finished, and it will be a gift for Mom and Dad's wedding anniversary. I WILL hand-piece the remaining 3 blocks before spring.

Here are the ones that are completed:

Sunshine & Shadows
my favorite block with 115 pieces.

The School House
another favorite

The Flower Basket

Card Tricks

In the center of this block I'll stitch the date and a message to Mom & Dad

The Monkey Wrench

Flying Geese

the Log Cabin

Grandmother's Fan

The remaining 3 blocks of this sampler quilt are The Bear Paw, Sunbonnet Sue and Grandmother's Flower Garden which I'm still not certain how to accomplish yet. But I am determined to have it done this year! You girls hold me to that, okay! LOL

Wishing you a day filled with joy,

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Stars in the Snow Little Quilt ~
Whatcha Working on Wednesday?

I have envisioned the hallway of our small home lined with little quilts ever since I picked up my first Little Quilts book ~ "Living with Little Quilts". It is a delightful book showing how to make and use little quilts to warm and decorate your home. (Psst ... you'd really like this one, Nancy Jo!)

When we lived in Georgia, I was so fortunate to live very close the Little Quilts Shoppe and was always inspired. The ladies there were so kind and helpful, but somehow I never did get around to making one.

This year, however, my goal is to create at least four little quilts for my hallway ~ possibly one to represent each of the four seasons. And "Stars in the Snow" is my very first to represent Winter. The book I'm using now, "Little Quilts All Through the House", shows this particular pattern with the stars in red against a white background. It is really pretty, but when I saw this blue fabric sprinkled with snowflakes, I thought it a better choice for me.

Here are my six little 5 inch blocks:

Here it is assembled with a border:

Measures 15" x 19"

While I did hand-piece the entire little quilt, I'm an amateur quilter so they are quite imperfect. I realize now that I pressed some of the seams the wrong way on them so the white shows through a bit. But even in their imperfection, I am quite happy with them ~ especially the way the white contrasts with the blue.

For now I have to put it aside for a few days while I complete 2 quilts blocks of a UFO sampler quilt that I began some years ago. It is an anniversary gift for my mom & dad, and I am so excited about it!

Be sure to stop by Leslie of My Country Home to see what other gals are working on this Wednesday.

Blessings & joy,

Friday, January 9, 2009

My Favorite Things ~ Old Books

Old books are one of my favorites things. I enjoy finding them in treasures hunts at the Goodwill, Second Hand bookstores and tag sales. I even love their smell! LOL

One of my favorites is "Grandma's Cooking" by Allan Keller ~ a combination fictional story and cookbook. It's dated 1955 and is an old library withdrawal from a local high school. Throughout are little handwritten comments and additions to the recipes. On page 165, some dreamy high school girl wrote "Babies" in flowery print. Wish I knew who she was ~ things like that just fascinate me.

Chapter 8 is entitled Maybaskets and Old Lace. It begins:

"Maytime in Windham Couty was a wondrous thing to behold. Grandma's great French lilac bush burst into blossom, filling the air for hundres of years around with its heady, overpowering scent. The johnny-jump-ups bloomed under the strawberry shrub and forsythia, and the bare spots in the front and side yards disappeared into a thick carpet of green."

On page 109 begins "Pages from Grandma's Recipe Book" and is filled with all sorts of wonderful chapters including a chapter for wild game with recipes using venison, rabbit and partridge. Other recipes have names like Autumn Spice Cake, Aunt Rachel's Stew, and Farmer's Delight.

Though I haven't yet tried it, I wanted to share one delightful recipe from the pages of this book. I enjoy the comments the author adds afterward.

Windham County Applesauce Cake
1/2 cup butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 C sugar
3 eggs, beaten
2 C plus 2 T flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp mace
1/4 tsp allspice
2 1/2 T cocoa
1 3/4 C unsweetened applesauce
3/4 C black walnut meats
1 C chopped raisins

Cream together butter, salt and sugar. Add eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Sift together twice flour, soda, baking powder and spices to mix them well. Add dry ingredients alternately with applesauce to creamed mixture. Beat well after each addition until smooth. Mix in raisins. Add the chopped walnuts, if desired.

Pour into greased and floured pan. Bake in moderate oven at 350 degrees for 60 minutes, or until done. A 10-inch square pan will give about the right thickness to the cake.

Grandma served this applesauce cake, both hold and cold, with big wedges of sage cheese. With a glass of milk, it was almost a meal in itself. Many's the time the cake, cheese and milk stayed a small boy's hunger between the close of school and supper at the end of the day.