Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Stash busting challenge

Each month for the challenge, we are to show what part of our stash we want to "bust."    But this particular stash is too large to do in one month.   I got it last year and here is what it looked like...a pretty big box of yarn:

The yarn is pretty old and musty so I made several cat mats and donated them  in November of last year.  That brought my stash down to this....about 7 pounds worth of yarn.

For the month of February, I decided to see how many cat mats I could make and managed to make 15.  This made Leo happy....he declared himself King of the stack of cat mats!

The "pattern" is free on my sidebar so make some for the kitty in your life!
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated"

-Mohandas Gandhi

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Winner, winner! and a chicken dinner....

Look at this cute apron I won from Micki at Confessions of an ADD Housewife.  Kaela and Suki are modeling it for me.....

We had a cold rainy front come through this week so I put on this cute apron and made some soup!

I've posted this soup before years ago but it is one of my family's all time favorites so I decided to share again....along with a dessert that is so easy it is embarrassing!

Val's Chicken and Dumpling Soup:

1 small onion diced
4 stalks celery diced
4 carrots cubed
1 tsp minced garlic (from a jar) Or mince a fresh clove
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf (optional)

8-10 cups chicken stock
4 cups shredded or diced cooked chicken (about 4 breasts worth)

2 cups Bisquick and enough milk to make dumplings.

Saute onions, celery and seasonings for 5 minutes.  Then add carrots, garlic and chicken and stir for another 5 minutes. (Don't brown the garlic.) 

Then add the stock and bring to a boil momentarily. Turn down the heat, cover and simmer until carrots are barely tender. Before going to the next step, taste and adjust seasonings.

For the dumplings:

Take 2 cups Bisquik and enough milk to make a dough. (you can add a tablespoon of dried parsley to the dough if desired.)
Drop by large spoonfuls (I use a medium cookie dough scoop.) 

Make enough to completely cover the top of the stew.  It looks gooey at this stage...

Cover and let cook on medium low 10 minutes. DO NOT BOIL or the dumplings will break down. They will rise and get large and dense.   When cooked, they look dry on top but you can check by using a toothpick until you figure out what they look like when done.  These are almost done....

When you serve, dip down and get the soup and a dumpling or two...or three. We rarely have leftovers, but when we do, it is even better the next day. 

Peach Cobbler

1 stick butter or margarine
3/4 cup self rising flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup milk
1 large can sliced peaches ( drained)
mixture of cinnamon and sugar

First, melt the butter in the dish

Then in another bowl, make a batter out of the flour, cinnamon, sugar and milk.
Pour this on top of the can barely see it in the sinks and the butter floats on top.

Drain your peaches and pour directly ON TOP of the batter

Sprinkle the top liberally with cinnamon sugar mix.

Bake for 50-60 minutes at 350 and this is what it looks like...

Enjoy warm with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Nothing like good old fashioned comfort food on a cold night!

Friday, February 22, 2013 2.

Kaela had some girlfriends over during the break to watch movies....

They watched a bunch of old musicals....High Musical 1,2, and 3 and then Hairspray.  They sang along, made fun of things, defended things.....The laughing and giggling was such fun to listen to.   

There was a LOT of squealing too...all caused by THIS man...

Zac Efron....all grown up.

(okay, maybe they have a point but I'm much too refined to gawk...)

Then they got even gigglier and sillier...and I swear I heard some oo-ing and aah-ing.  Then silence. 
I swear I could hear their little hearts POUNDING!   
I didn't know WHAT they were watching so I had to check it out. 
One Direction.  I should have known...

hee hee giggle giggle......peals of laughter ensued.  
But when the boys sang their love songs, I heard a collective sigh.

And when Niall sang, 

Kaela's heart skipped a beat...or two....(Sorry Chris....)

"stop talking, I'm listening."   

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

lovely hearts.....

I didn't mean to forget...but busy days can intrude on life....and I just realized I never posted these lovelies I got in a little heart swap hosted by all4meggymoo!

I joined because I don't have many heart decorations and thought it would be fun.  Plus, I really don't care much for the commercialized things you buy.  

I much prefer handmade.  As luck would have it, my partner from September Violets was quite a wonderful creator of little hearts...  
Wendy made me an amazing assortment of hearts...all of which I've put to good use.  
That blue heart is totally hand embroidered.  The white heart is a potholder and the plaid backed hearts are coasters.  There is a teeny bear with a heart in his mouth too!

 BTW, Her blog has much better photos.  Go here to see them.

This sweet little bunting may stay up all spring....

Thank you Wendy!!!

The things I sent assortment of hearts & heartfelt goodies.  Cookie cutters, a bunny or two along with:


one of these...

 one of these...

and one of these

Overall, it was a lovely experience and was fun meeting someone new.

Valentine's catch up....

It isn't fun to be sick on Valentine's Day....or any holiday.    

Luckily, Matt had to run an errand so that got me moving.  His "errand" turned out to be taking a girl a Valentine teddy bear.....oh my gosh, he was so cute delivering it!  

On our way to the girl's house, I dropped this little heart garland at a local coffee shop...

I usually spend half the day baking and cooking a special meal and dessert.  
Since I didn't feel well, that didn't happen this year.  Instead, Dean picked up some of our favorite dishes from a Thai restaurant on his way home from work.   

I did manage to surprise him with some homemade cookies though...I couldn't let the day pass without a little something special.  These are huge, made with my favorite sugar cookie recipe I got from my mom when I was a kid.

Dean walked in the door with these lovely favorite flower.

You know a man loves you when he goes out of the way to find tulips when all the world is buying roses......
Matt asked me why I get tulips instead of roses and I told him....

We lived in Germany for 3 years when I was in elementary school and we visited so many places.  Each weekend (for the most part) we would go somewhere, to take advantage of being in a different country.   
One of those places was Holland so mom could see the tulip fields...but I think I enjoyed that particular trip more than anyone.  We stayed in a house with a family and they fed us and amazing breakfast before sending us on our way.  

When we first saw the fields, I was so overwhelmed by all the was hard to tell they were flowers at first.  The fields were immense and the colors were amazing.   I actually remember the excitement I felt.

During our walk, I remember telling everyone "I LOVE TULIPS!"
....and I have loved them ever since.  

Mojo had a good day too.  Special treats and toys made his birthday special.

  Hoping you all had a Happy Valentine's Day too!

Monday, February 18, 2013

under the weather...

I brought a guest back from Florida.....a bug...a virus.... 

So instead of doing all the things I had planned for the break, I stayed here....for 3 days:

A trusty electric blanket turned on high, some movies in the tv and something to crochet.  I had the kind of cold that made me sneeze...a lot....but I couldn't sleep....too stuffy.  I hate that.

My sweet lovin' man brought me one of these for a couple nights in a row....just cuz.

a salted caramel hot cocoa can cure almost anything that ails ya.  Well, maybe not, but it made me feel better.   
After almost 5 days of it, I'm now on the mend... but sadly, the guest hopped from me to Dean and now he is the one not feeling well....

Sunday, February 17, 2013


We went to visit my family for a few days over the Mardi Gras break.  

While there we went to a favorite haunt and enjoyed I didn't have QUITE that many...the waiter was a sweetie and gave us some extra cups.

As we left, I dropped a little heart hanger there for someone to pick up...

 something caught the kid's attention while I was placing the toy....don't know what this was all about!

We spent lots of time visiting my parent's at their new place in the assisted living center.  Mother has been there for several months but dad just joined her last month.  He is having a difficult time adjusting and was thrilled to see us.  We were a much needed diversion.

I brought a couple things home from Florida....I made this quilled grape picture for my grandmother in the 80's....

 and I made this afghan for my mom around the same time....I still have the pattern.

Leo claimed it the night we got home and has been snuggling down into it these last few cold nights...

 The big thing is that dad gave me his car... which is much appreciated.  The timing was perfect because Matt gets his license in a month!

I can't believe Matt will be driving he and Kaela to school next year, and that within 2 years, Kaela will be doing the same.  Scary for me, exciting for them!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's and Happy Birthday!

Today is Mojo's 12th birthday.  Since he was born on Valentine's Day, I wanted to name him Valentino or Romeo....but the kids were young and insisted on "Mojo" ... (from "Mojo Jojo" of the Powerpuff Girls cartoon.)   Why they chose to name him after an evil, world dominating monkey is beyond me....but the name stuck. 

Here is a photo of him when he was 3 months old.   He was one little black fur ball.
I always loved his little eyebrows.

with Matthew (awwwww)

Mojo's face is almost totally gray now but other than that, he still acts like a puppy.   
Full of energy, no real health issues....well....other than losing partial eyesight in one eye.  The years have been kind to him.  
  Happy Birthday Mojo!

And here is a photo of Leo from years ago showing me his belly while I was sorting tiny crocheted hearts.   Seems like the perfect way to say:

 Happy Valentine's Day from our house to yours!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

babies and the beanstalk

This past weekend, we dashed over to Florida for a visit.  We  took a couple King Cakes to share.  Once the babies were 'unpastried' (is that a word?) they scrambled away shrieking "the humand are gonna eat us!"  Since none of us are desperate enough to eat plastic, we just let the comment go.

But in the morning we couldn't find first.  Then we heard grumbles and found them climbing this succulent Page has started in her kitchen.  Teeny voices were talking about "climbing being hard work" and then one of them shushed the other and said "shut up! or you'll wake the giants."

The next morning, the little guy on the bottom was complaining about having a stem up "where the sun don't shine."  I offered to help but he told me to "keep my grubby fingers off him!"  Then I was offended, because I do NOT have "grubby fingers!"

By Monday morning, they were much higher up the plant and we overheard them talking quietly about "reaching the big star and making their escape..."

Sadly, we had to leave before they made good on their escape.  I wonder where that big "star" will take them...

Friday, February 8, 2013

cure for cold nights...

Nothing like warm soup and homemade bread on chilly nights.
This soup takes awhile but is easy...and so worth it.  When I make it during the week, I prep everything the night before.   Otherwise, I start it mid day.

White Bean soup:

Soak a 1 lb bag of navy beans over night.

In a stock pot, heat a couple drizzles of canola oil then saute over low until soft:
1 small onion, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup chopped celery
1 large bay leaf
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp thyme

Drain beans and add to the pot, then add enough stock or water to cover everything by about an inch or two.  (You'll need about 6-8 cups of liquid.)  I always have additional liquid on hand so beans don't get dry.

Bring to a boil, then turn down and cover with the lid.  Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Brown 1 lb of sliced spicy or smoky sausage.  We use a smoked venison sausage that is awesome but any smoked sausage will do.    
Pour off the grease but leave the drippings.
Add the sausage and the drippings to the soup and stir.  Add a little water to the pan and scrape up any bits and swirl around and add that water to the soup and stir.    
Bring to a simmer and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

If the sausage didn't make it salty enough, add some now....but start with 1 tsp.
Take a potato masher and smash about 1/4 of the beans
Add 1 cup chopped carrots

If needed, add more stock/water

Simmer 1 more hour.
At this point, taste to correct seasonings and serve with hot bread!

To make your family REALLY happy, follow this up with some homemade white chocolate/macadamia nut cookies!  These are easy to make.  I just use the Toll House cookie recipe on the bag but:
substitute 1 small bag of white chocolate chips for the semi-sweet chips (12 oz)
substitute 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts for the walnuts

 Not a bad way to start the weekend........
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