And Happy 2010

January 3, 2010

Goodness, I stink at blogging! I don’t know how angry chicken or crazy mom quilts put so much on their blogs, much LESS do all that they do AND be moms, wives, daughters, etc……….

So on with the new year! We are home after church, wearing jammies on this cold COLD day, enjoying the last hours of vacation before the school routine starts again.  I enjoyed Christmas but I’ll be glad to NOT go anywhere any time soon.  We traveled to the D.C. area right after the big snowfall, visited the Smithsonian for the day (first time for my kids), and picked up the kids later in the break in Gastonia, NC (at Mary Jo’s of course!!).

But back to Christmas- I’ll start with my cooking/baking.

This is what I made for teacher gifts- in fact I was good and made them in September and froze them! I packaged them in a cute bag with some fancy cocktail napkins (bought after Xmas last year, of course!).

Cream Cheese Pound Cake   (Martha recipe- Everyday Food Dec ‘03)

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp.
8 ounces (1 bar) cream cheese, at room temp.  
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract  
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons rum (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Generously coat two 8.5-by-4.5-by-2.5-inch loaf pans with cooking spray. (Or, alternately, use a 4-quart bundt pan.)
In a large electric mixer, cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time to creamed mixture, beating until well combined. Mix in vanilla.
Combine the flour and salt in a separate bowl. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture in two additions, mixing until just combined. Immediately spoon the batter into the prepared pans. Smooth the top of the batter so that that is evenly fills the pans.
Bake at 350° until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean with just a few moist crumbs attached. This will take about 60 to 75 minutes for the loaf pans, maybe 5 minutes more for the single bundt pan. Be careful that the cake tops do not brown too quickly. If this starts to happen, tent with aluminum foil.
Let the cakes cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, and then turn out the cakes to cool completely. With the loaf pans, the cakes should cool on a wire rack with the top sides up. (If using a bundt pan, just invert the cake onto a serving platter to cool there.) Sprinkle rum evenly over the tops of the two loaves (or the bundt cake). Let cool completely before serving.  (Best let sit at least a day before serving)

Store wrapped in plastic 3 days at room temp., or freeze for up to 3 months

Other yummies I made were gingerbread cookies, eggnog cookies (following the suggestions in the reviews), espresso chocolate icebox cookies (using espresso powder instead of coffee granules and extract), and Christmas sandies (tip- dip only the tops in sprinkles, not the bottoms).

I made  regular thumbprint cookies with the kids, but look at this recipe I didn’t get to- pepper jelly cornmeal cups– WOW!

Next year (yes, I’m already planning for Christmas 2010!) I’m going to make hot fudge for one of my gifts.  I tried this at a friend’s house- delish!  Here is the recipe if you want to start before me:

Hot Fudge

12 oz. choc. chips (bittersweet)
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
14 oz. corn syrup
½ lb. butter (2 sticks)
optional  ½ c. flavored liquor

Melt chips and corn syrup.  Add and melt butter.  Add canned milk.  Mixture simmered- do not boil- to thicken (about 5 minutes).  Cool. Keep refrigerated.

Makes approximately 3 pints.

There’s my cooking wrap-up, albeit just a partial listing.

Next, I’ll post about the gifts I made for Christmas!

Bye till next time!



Now it’s November

November 4, 2009

I mean, DUH, you know that it’s November. But time is getting away from me as always!

I’m not subbing today and I’m glad- my to-do list is LOOONG.  So I can’t stay here long- just a quick note.

Handmade Holidays is back!!! EEEEKKKK!!!

– I recommend these Pumpkin Cheesecake muffins.  And no, I don’t think these can legally be called muffins- they are cupcakes in disguise!!

 I know there is more I want to show you, but I can’t think now.



And it’s October

October 16, 2009

I’m doing a horrendous job keeping up with this thing!  Well, school did start and all that goes with it, so I’ll use it as my excuse.

I didn’t get a booth at my church’s bazaar this Fall- just too much going on to make myself even MORE crazy.  I did put some things in the Gallery show in Richmond though.

Mom's camera 2236 I made these Buttercup Bags for the show- aren’t they cute?!?  If they don’t sell (which would be a travesty!!) I’ll probably put them on etsy – OH! I registered for an etsy account!  I’ll give you more info once I actually have something for sale….

Mom's camera 2223And some wooden disk pendants on handmade organza ribbon necklaces…..

Mom's camera 2227

And some of my scrappy flower pins.

This week I also sent some handmade notebooks to GA to benefit a doll club.  I think they turned out SO cute- especially since I used my own original photography.

Front of notebooks

Front of notebooks

Backs of notebooks

Backs of notebooks

I used the Photojojo tutorial.

Happy World Bread Day!  Yup, October 16th. You are probably saying to yourself- “sugar smacks! I forgot to make bread today!”  Well you are in luck- here is a quick and SUPER delicious bread recipe you can make right now.

Jiffy Beer Bread

3 c.  self-rising flour*, 3 T. sugar, 1- 12 oz. can or bottle of beer

  • Mix flour and sugar in a bowl; make a well in the center.   Add beer, stir till blended.
  • Bake at 350 degrees in a greased bread pan for 60 minutes. Turn out immediately.
  • Try not to grab a stick of butter and eat it all yourself!!

* 1 c. self-rising flour= 1 c. all-purpose flour + 1 1/4 t. baking powder + a pinch of salt

 This recipe sounds good too- I haven’t tried it yet.


3-1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
3 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt

  • Stir together. Make a well in center and add, in order:

1 c. vegetable oil
4 whole eggs
1 1/2 c. canned pumpkin
2/3 c. apple cider
1/2 c. thick applesauce

  • Mix everything until smooth. Pour into greased and flour pan.
  • Makes two 8 1/2 x 1 1/2 x 2 1/2 loaves. Can also be baked in one-pound coffee cans. If baked in can, fill 2/3 full. Makes 3.
  • Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

 I’m off to figure out dinner………




Mysterious shroud

What do you hide? Lovely things…

Fruit flavors for me


That wonderful sound

Ping! Makes me smile with relief

The jam is complete


Yes, I like to write haiku…….

And on this rainy day I’m making- surprise surprise!  More jam!  I’m using the same fig recipe from the last post, except I subbed in some banana and strawberries.  And a little juice leftover from soaking raisins.  And a splash of orange juice.

Off to make another batch of peach almond jam!  The fruit won’t wait you know… at least not without turning into a slimy disgusting mess………



In and Out of Jams

September 6, 2009

school shirts

 Today I’m rallying the troops to clean up, get organized, get ready for school starting.  I keep telling them if you just do it quickly and get it over with, then you will have time after to do fun stuff……….but they never listen……..

I went to a yard sale yesterday and got some AMAZING buys.  I bought these cute kitty creamers (at least that’s how I’m going to use them!) for $2.00.  I got them for my church tea next year.

Mom's camera 2077

And these- THESE- cool vintage 1960s-ish chandeliers – $4.00 for the pair!!!! I thought the lady was going to say $40!!!  I was flabbergasted.  She obviously doesn’t know what she had.  I LOVE them.  Even if I have to put candles in the bulb sockets…..and hang them in the screened in porch…………


Well, besides buying scads of crazy stuff, I’ve been making jam too.  So far I made peach almond jam, blueberry cherry jam (because it reminds me of Michigan and Zehnder’s chicken dinner), strawberry fig jam , and I also made up my own concoction of watermelon fig jam.  

For watermelon jam I primarily followed this fig jam recipe but added elements of this one.  So,  I followed the fig recipe mostly, but instead I used 4 c. chopped figs (not overflowing, just 4 c.) and 1 cup watermelon slush (watermelon run through the blender) and didn’t add the extra water.  And I added a bit more pectin to make sure it all gelled. 

This site is great for canning recipes and canning instructions in general.  And of course finding great pick-your-own sites!

And now I’m working on making wild grape jam!!  We have wild grapes growing on our fence- a cheap and easy privacy fence.

wild grapes

They are tiny little things and more sour than you can imagine.  I’m not sure which recipe I’ll use- there is this one with powdered pectin and this one which requires less juice but liquid pectin.  We’ll see- they are in the freezer until I decide.

In the meantime, if you still have access to good peaches, here is the peach almond jam recipe:

Peach Almond Jam


 3 lb. Peaches                                     ¼ cup fresh lemon juice

½ c. almonds, chopped            7 cups sugar (3 lb.)

1 pouch liquid fruit pectin     ¼ t. almond extract

Peel and pit peaches and grind or chop until very fine. Measure 4 cups prepared fruit into a 6- to 8-quart saucepan. Stir in lemon juice and almonds. Thoroughly stir in sugar.
Place over high heat and bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and immediately stir in liquid fruit pectin and almond extract. Skim off foam with metal spoon.
Ladle into clean, hot (8-ounce) jelly jars, filling to within one-fourth inch of top. Clean rims of jars and adjust caps, according to manufacturer’s directions. Process 5 minutes in boiling water bath.
This recipe yields about 8 jars.


September is Here

September 1, 2009

Hello all!

I can’t believe August is gone….. school starts next week and Fall is just around the corner.  Today was quite chilly- maybe only in the 70*s.

I’m trying to figure out where to start. Ok- UFDC Doll Convention- amazing, hectic, took a while to figure out, aspects I didn’t like, but it was very good. I learned a lot.  I’d love to say I bought loads of dolls, but that is FAR from the case!  There were SERIOUS dolls and serious doll collectors there- I went to a Theriault’s auction and saw a doll go for $345,000. Plus tax and buyer’s premium….  Yeah……….

I did get a doll I wanted- Sew for Me Toni- a repro by Effanbee, but SO cute.  I have the brunette.

I also bought some vintage Toni patterns- well, 16″ doll patterns.  I’m hoping to make some clothes for a vintage Toni I have and for this new girl too.

doll Simplicity pattern

dollAdvance pattern

I love the Advance pattern- it’s a ‘Learn to Sew” pattern for children.  Anything to make it easier on me!

Here are some of my best photos from the doll show:

1920s boudoir doll

1920s boudoir doll

Beverly Walters doll- modern artist

Beverly Walters doll- modern artist

1950s/60s fashion doll

1950s/60s fashion doll

I need to get to bed- this uploading takes along time!  Angry Chicken and the other mega bloggers must have mega computers…..

I will say that I’m making scarfletts from this pattern by Fig Tree Quilts. Easy peasy gifts!!  I’ll try to take a pic of one of my finished scarfletts- I’m starting with the plain corduroy one, not the pieced and quilted one.

I’ve also been making loads of jam, but I’ll leave that- and the recipes- for the next post.

Here is a coleslaw dressing recipe that I devised MYSELF!!!  Well, I changed a recipe so much I can claim it as mine now, right?  Very simple and cheap compared to buying it pre-made.

Cole Slaw Dressing

  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • A couple big pinches of celery salt (which is about 1/8 t.)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Finely minced sweet onion- @ 1 t.
  • Finely shredded carrot- @ 1-2 t.
  • Pre-shredded cabbage slaw (in the salad section of the grocery store)

Whisk all together. Let rest in fridge until chilled. If you like it thicker, add more mayo (and possibly adjust other seasonings as needed).

Toss with slaw to coat and mix well. Refrigerate.


P.S.- Check out the Craft Talk link over on the right side- under “Lovely Places”- it’s a hoot!

Bye for now ~S

How can it be July?  I mean seriously, the kids have been out of school for like a week, right?  What?  It’s been more like four weeks? Really?!?

I don’t know why every year I kid myself by thinking that summer will be relaxing.  It’s been CRAZY busy- parties and funerals (not funeral parties- that’s weird!), trips here and there, worrying about relatives with cancer, orthodontist appts., speaking engagement, trip to the lake, etc.  And now I’m getting ready to leave on another trip for a few weeks.

I’d love to say I’ve been sewing and crafting, but I haven’t much.  Well, I have been in the past week though- I’m trying to get Christmas presents [did she really just say that?!?] done so I can take them on my trip, which is also where we will be for Xmas (14 hours away by car).  If I get them done NOW that one less thing to worry about LATER.

I’ve been making Xmas pillowcases for all the family members who will be there in December- aw!!!  I thought it was a cute idea.  I’m using the pattern from Connecting Threads.  And I’m making quilts for the kids- I’ll have to show you those and explain them later.  Nothing crazy complicated-

And for myself, I made and am in the process of making more of these adorable and simple buttercup bags.   The pattern is easy, it goes together quickly, and only take a fat quarter of fabric for each the outside and the lining!  What a great use for a gorgeous fat quarter. My only suggestion is to add interfacing to the lining fabric- it’s a bit floppy if you use fine fabric.

Buttercup Bag

I made my first because I wanted a bag to go with the dress I purchased to wear to the UFDC convention banquet. (Yes, I’m going to the doll convention next week!) I like how it’s similar but doesn’t match. ( I say that because I picked the bag fabric while trying to remember what the dress looked like, and it’s exact shades of blue!)

And if packing and all wasn’t enough, we were adopted a few weeks ago by a sweet, and pregnant, cat.  So we set up a nursery on our screened in porch, and late Sunday night she had the kittens.  We were excited- three kittens! I thought, I can probably find home for 3 kittens…… The next morning we got up to check on them- there were SEVEN kittens.  Whoa.  (she obviously wasn’t done)  Hubby will have to be their nurse while we are gone!  But Rose is a good mama, so we know they are in good hands.

one day old

And to close, I will leave you with a great recipe I’ve made three times in the past month.  It’s from a publication called “Let’s Do Lunch” In Southwest Virginia: A Memoir . (I think it’s out of print- it was a limited edition printed last year by a lovely lady at my mom’s church. ) This recipes is very economical too if you buy the peppers from Dollar Tree- seriously!! That place is a gold mine.

Roasted Red Pepper Spread

  • 1- 8 oz. pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 1- 8 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 t. garlic powder

– Gently beat cream cheese at low speed with hand mixer; set aside.  Drain the peppers, chop, and add to cream cherese with the thyme and garlic powder.  Transfer to fancy serving bowl and serve with crackers.

[Sam’s note- I just whiz it all in the food processor- quick and easy. And bec. the peppers I get at Dollar Tree are 12 0z., I just add more cream cheese and spices accordingly.]

I’ll be taking my laptop with me, so hopefully I can post some more while I’m gone.  And I’m going to try to work on my hexagons too!

Bye till later!