Thursday, December 16, 2010

Under the Mistletoe

You can barely see the mistletoe -complete with berries
above my head- did not realize how much it blended in with the background foliage.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

End of Summer Fun

Tubing at the lake- Mr. Paul, Erin and Lauren. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Bella, the family dog, rode in the car to pick up Lauren from school.  Lauren is riding in her booster seat and Bella is sitting calmly beside her ( not the norm for Bella-as she is wild unless in the car).  Lauren smiled at Bella and said to me, "Look mom, Bella is riding so nicely, she thinks she has a pedigree."  She correctly told me what pedigree meant and agreed that the traditional meaning did not apply to Bella- part beagle/lab.  She meant she was acting fancy!!!

At the lake this past weekend, Lauren mentioned getting a tan- she and hubby both have the ability to tan well- me not so much.  Anyway- she said getting a tan is like roasting a marshmallow- you gotta keep moving around to get it even.

Little Tittles, the kitten is fond of eating locust. She said it's new name is John the Baptist- since the cat also likes locusts and wears animal skins.  Nice to know those Bible lessons are having an impact on her.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Visit to a Vineyard

We have made several trips to an elderly gentleman's farm to help him harvest his grapes.  He grows a few varieties of muscadines and two varieties of scuppernogs ( the green colored grapes). 

This venture is best undertaken in the cooler part of the day as it gets quite warm even under the canopy of the grape vines.

Our first trip yielded one gallon of huge muscadines that were squeezed and turned into grape juice which was then used to start a batch of wine- new experience for us.

Our second trip- we came home with 2 gallons of grapes.  One gallon of small, dark muscadines great for jelly and a gallon of scuppernog - also for jelly.  Our farmers informed us that we would get more juice from the grapes if we froze them first and then let them thaw before using them.  So..... now the grapes are resting in our freezer until I have the time to deal with them.

You can see in the photo the different colors of the grapes.  These are muscadines and we were searching for the darkest ones- they looked a lot like olives.  The grapes will ripen over a period of 30 days.  This style of grapes are picked individually-unlike the bunch style grapes we commonly see the in the supermarket.

A  prerequisite of making juice is watching the I love Lucy clip where she is stomping the grapes. Click here to view the video clip.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Menu Planning

Help for those last five pesky pounds I would like to lose. 
What do you do to drop those hard to lose last pounds???

Maybe I should just be fine with them??

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Summer Fruit Jams

Peach, Strawberry, Red Plum and Cherry Jams

All Good

SOMETIMES- the biscuit is just a vehicle for the butter and jelly

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Christmas in July part 2 and 3

Okay- the canvas is not quite finished- still a little more thinking on this one or just may wrap the artist canvas with the fabric and attach to the back- but you get the concept.

I first saw Gail Pan's design for the above when a talented sewing forum member, Carol, made a precious wall hanging.  Here blog is click here.  I knew I wanted to stitch this design for my kitchen but was not quite sure what to make with it.  Gail also has more designs on her website that I will most likely stitch to hang with this one.  click here for more of Gail's work.

Part 3 - you ask- underneath the canvas- six, crimson, toile tablemats that can be used for more than just Christmas.  Took me awhile to determine the appropriate dimensions as I wanted to use them at both my round kitchen table and my rectangular dining table and had to factor in the chargers  and elbow room that would be the best fit.   The finished size ended up 13 x 17 and the reversible (same print) mats have thin fleece ( retired baby blanket)  in between them to act both as a moisture/heat barrier and to add some body to them. Added bones-just toss in the washer and dryer. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

How Hot is It??

Short story- decided to walk to the mailbox (about 1/8 of a mile) to mail of few items.  Opened the front door and my lungs immediately filled with the humid air-shut door and make a cold drink for the long walk.  Arrive at mailbox- no mail to be placed inside.  Yes- it is that hot!!!!  100 plus degrees in our fair city- I took very little comfort in that it is generally 5 degrees cooler where we live than in the center of the city.  Note to self- next time - drive the golf cart to the mailbox or send the mail with hubby.

To the right of the mailbox you can see where we have begun removing some undergrowth and making some progress on our slat fence- we stopped due to aforementioned heat and humidity.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Here a Tomato, There a Tomato

A sampling of what we have harvested from our tomato plants left to right- Brandwine, Aunt Ruby's German Green, Lemon Boy, Jubilee and Cherokee Purple.  Not sure why this CP's coloration was quite a bit different from our previous ones- they were much duskier pinky purple color- no matter- the taste is pure concentrated tomato.  The cherokee purples will make next years list to plant and possible box car willie- scratch all the other aboves- not enough flavor and thick skins rule them out.  We will still plant the better boys and a few varieties of cherry and grape tomatoes.  Still waiting on the late to be planted sun golds. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Running Man or How my Dad celebrated his 63rd birthday

My father decided to run the Peachtree Marathon in Georgia this year and signed on for an extensive 12 week training course to prepare.  Had had a set program to follow on most days with runs scheduled with a group of other runners on Saturday.  The picture above is from the training run just before the race on July 4th- my dad turned 63 on July 5th.  We are so proud of him for finishing the race and in good time as well.  He has aspirations of repeating the race next year and shaving some time off of his run-way to go!!!!

photo provided by a friend named Vicki-thanks so much

Friday, July 23, 2010

Coconut Pineapple Layer Cake- aka Pineapple Tall Cake

Saturday the 17th- we celebrated a combination of birthday's- Lauren's 6.5 (yes- a half b-day) and my grandmother's 88th birthday.

Cliff made Lauren little bug cakes and I made the cake above for my grandmother's cake. Will admit I am not great at getting layer cakes to look good- took several knife attempts to get these three layers leveled before spreading the pineapple filling between the layers and then frosting them. The cake did require a trip to fridge to set the frosting well- since I tweaked the recipe by adding cocount cream-yummy stuff.

After cake the ladies played hearts- Lauren even caught all the "tricks" in one hand. The children's version was quite a bit different than we usually play- no face cards and different rules too.

My grandmother left one little bite of cake on her plate- I froze it and saved it for her next year to celebrate 89!!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Little Man's Wheelchair

Last Thursday, we were alarmed to see that Little Man had an injured right paw. He recuperated in our kitty cat hospital for a few days before returning to his family-yes we informed his mother and did allow visitation.

Lauren's caretaking extended to her making him is very own wheelchair you see pictured above-courtesty of her barbie car and leftover fabric scraps. Love her creativity. Sorry I did not catch a pic of him waving in the parade and tossing out treats- he rode proudly.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Snowman in July-Christmas in July part 1

We are coming up on our one year arrival into our new home. Moving last year at the end of July - in Arkansas- hot and sweaty work indeed. One of the guest rooms was used to store unpacked boxes for a few months. Funny- I am not embarrassed about that- we were also starting our first year homeschooling last year as well - just shortly after moving in..... so getting to those non-essential boxes was not high on my list to do. Also-not a priority was decorating for the holidays.... this year I promise to be much better decorating - plus - I have a very eager helper in getting ready - how much longer will that last !!???!!!

Okay- enough with my ranmbling commentary. First up for project Christmas in July- adding some seasonal color to Lauren's yellow, lime, orange, yellow and pink bathroom. Got the idea from another friend on a sewing forum- Bridget- when she made the cutest santa's out of of her precious colors handprints-we will do that later as well. Instead of a Santa- we made a snowman- by painting an artist canvas with the selected colors and adding buttons for details. We will be on the lookout for a little metal or feather tree to add to the bathroom as well as a few more of these canvas' for fall and Christmas along with some embroidered towels. Lauren's patience was tested as she had to wait for the paint colors to dry with each application-she was way to anxious to get this completed.

Our snowman is embracing somewhat of a minimalist style- sans hat and scarf -both for fashion sense and necessity-Lauren reminded me that we lose a great deal of body heat through our heads and if he was sporting a hat and scarf he was in danger of becoming a slushman and we just cannot have that.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Grandma Jean and Clint duet

My husband's family assembled together at his parent's farm in Northwest Arkansas. Over sixty of us attended. Some of the family brought their instruments to play- Grandma Jean played the accordion and Cliff's twin brother- Clint played the fiddle. Lots of fun and hand cranked ice cream rounded out the day and even the weather was very pleasant considering we are in Arkansas.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Easy Cherry Cake

I have a friend who does not cake much- she wanted to make a cake from scratch and was concerned about making a layered cake and did not wish to make a sheet cake either.

This is the recipe I sent her- a simple one layer cake with a cherry glaze on top- simple and rustic and soooo easy and good!!!

1 cup ap flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 TB butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 (14.5 oz) can tart cherries, drained and reserve juice


2 ½ TB cornstarch
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp almond extract

For the cake: place oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350. Spray 9 inch cake pan with Pam. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a med bowl; whisk eggs and vanilla in a small bowl.

With a mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy; about 2 minutes. Reduce speed and add flour and egg mixture alternately in two batches, beating on low until combined. Gently fold in drained cherries and pour into pan-bake 30-35 minutes- toothpick in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan.

Combine reserved juice, cornstarch, sugar and almond extract in small saucepan and stir over medium heat until just bubble- about 4 minutes. pour over cooled cake.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cliff requested a fresh cherry pie with lattice cream cheese pie crust. I am not proficient at rolling out the dough- much less weaving the strips. You can see that I cheated making the lattice- just laid them across each other and did not weave them-next time I will chill the dough strips before picking them up to weave. It's nice to know my husband has confidence in my abilities.

The cherries had to be pitted by hand- Williams Sonoma- my best chance at finding a pitter- was sold out of them. So I pitted 3 pounds of cherries by hand. Took quite a few hand washings to get all the stains from our my cuticles. Good thing I love my husband.

The pie was delicious and the cream cheese was a nice addition to the crust- good flavor and very flaky. And- Hubby was most thankful and commented several times on how much better this pie was instead of using canned filling and the addition of cream cheese to the crust.

I have to add- we do not often eat such decadent desserts- but my husband had a cherry pie craving and it was father's day.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Water Balloon Fight

The temperature was just a bit under 100 when the girls said they were sooooo hot. They spotted the helium tank and balloons in the garage and decided to have a balloon fight- I had to laugh when I realized how they interpreted an actual water balloon fight.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Olive bread from Marcy Goldman's Passion for baking.  Usually, I am not a big fan of olives, but baked inside this tender bread- I am a HUGE fan- the recipe made two large loaves- absolute perfection.  Will experiment next time with a variety of black olives - even if I have to pit them myself. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Katie's Dance Recital

This Sunday past, cousin Katie, performed in a dance recital.  She was dressed as a cute little mouse, complete with tail and ears.  They were super adorable and Katie knew her stuff- especially the little hip shake part- it was really cute to watch.  Lauren, my dad, Judy, Sam, Jennifer, Becky, McKenzie, Katie and myself watched the two plus hour recital at UALR- Lauren was tickled about being on a college campus for the first time. 

Here are a few pictures of the girls together- the darkend auditorium was hard to phototgraph- the photos were very blurry-sorry there are none to share from the actual dance.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Who Was President the Year you were Born??

Lauren picked out this laminated place mat at Wal-Mart this week and has been fascinated by the facts on the back and has sparked a number of questions from her.  Her favorite..... asking who was president when you were born- I told her -- Lyndon Johnson for myself and Eisenhower for dad when she asked for specifics.  She was quiet for a moment , then joyfully stated, "I know when Granny Elmo (my maternal grandmother in her late 80's) was born, when I aked which president , she confidently stated- Abraham Lincoln!!!  correct answer-Harding

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Crusty Rolls for Po Bo's and Muffeleta/Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman

The menu this week called for Oyster Po boys-reasoning- we had originally scheduled a beach trip, but between the oil spill threatening to wash ashore and my husband on sulfa drugs that cause sun sensitivities- we stayed home. I chose to make the bread using the recipe for crusty rolls from Marcy Goldman's Passion for Baking .  She even has a webiste click here that features free recipes and a newsletter with tips for baking.  This book has an abundance of really good and different recipes for a variety of baked goods- I am especially drawn to the yeasted bread ones.  She also a yummy dessert recipes as well.  Here are some pics of the crusty bread in different stages...quick sponge, the dough mixed all together, the risen dough (almost to the top of the mixer bowl), and shaped rolls and the baked rolls.  Will definitely use this recipe again- it makes 12 delicious rolls.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Garden Center Fun

Stopped at a nearby garden center to check out new plant varieties and look for a specific viburnum-chinese snowball.  Row after row of beautiful plant life and reading plant tags to determine bloom color kept Lauren busy for quite some time.  She really liked their playground , wooden swings, and koi pond.  I forgot to take a photo of the 1800 era headstones behind the center-they were underneath a magestic magnolia tree in a quiet shaded area.  I realized later that eveing those stones made a big impression upon her-she told her friends about them in first seconds she saw them- what is with kids and spooky things???

Friday, May 21, 2010

Little Kitten and Lauren

Lauren is not really sleeping-just pretending that little kitten slept with her.  She is having so much fun feeding and playing with them.  Her favorite activity is putting them down for a nap- she is so proud of herself when they fall asleep- I am pleased that she is so gentle with them and likes to help with their feedings. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Aquatic Scientists

We joined some fellow homeschooler's for an aquatic program at a local state park to determine how healthy the education pond was.  The student's handled a d nets and seine nets to capture what type of animal life lived in the pond.  Would add that the kids had loads of fun dipping the nets in and scraping the bottom of the pond in their water boots.  The nets were brought onto land and carefully picked through for any signs of life and if found- they were placed in small plastic tubs for identification.  The most common animal found - mayflies- which tolerate very little pollution- giving us a pretty good indication that the pond was quite healthy.  Also found- dragonfly larvae, minnows and tadpoles. Lauren knew before going that she would be able to get wet and muddy and wore clothes to do so.  However, she declined to get in the water-unusual for her since she loves getting dirty at home-even had a towel and a change of clothes- still no going in for her- she spent her time helping to identify the specimens , looking for crayfish holes and watching different bees buzzing around. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Finally- Success with Gardenias

I cannot recall how many times I have failed when it comes to growing gardenias.  We moved to our current home last July- there was very little done in relation to landscaping -seriously, seriously lacking.  This March I decided to give gardenias another try- purchased two Southern Living Jubilation Gardenias and amended the soil.  By April they started developing many little buds and early May - I began my daily inspection to check on their progress- no whitefly, no burning or dropping off of buds- all good signs.  The buds swelled to a fairly good size and then stopped, I patiently waited their opening and was rewarded with their sweet smelling blooms yesterday for the very first time-kinda felt like I was their mother!!!  The plant is reported to bloom again later this fall- we will see if that happens.  Noticed at the nurseries this past weekend that they had sold out of all the jubilation varieties - but had plenty August Beauty, Dwarf, Radicans and Frost Proof types-just the fact that I can recall those varieties off of the type of my head should give you an idea about the number of times I have tried unsuccessfully to grow these beauties- hopefully I am not speaking too soon.  Would love to see them get established as well as those at the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Alabama-just love walking their grounds and seeing the beautiful landscapes they have cultivated.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kindergarten Graduation

Monday, April 26th, was Lauren's last day as a Kindergarten student  at her once a week homeschool group.  The above picture is of her classmates and teachers.  The lady on the left also teaches Lauren piano lessons.  Lauren was so happy to read that the 1st grade students are not required to lay down for naps- she is not a napper and has not been for quite some time now.  We will continue to homeschool for the 2010-2011 school year and will take one week off for the months of May, June and July.  I remember all too well spending the first 6-9 weeks with my students reviewing what they learned last year and was so disappointed to find that a lot of them forgot their addition and subtraction facts in the lower grades.  Hoping this helps Lauren retain what she has learned and it also allows us to have shorter time periods of instruction.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Harvesting Lettuce

Finally- the black seeded simpson lettuce we planted in March is ready to harvest.  The heading type lettuces we started earlier- Iceberg and Buttercrunch did not "make" nearly as well as this loose leaf variety- will plant more of this for a fall supply.  Such a shame that the tomatoes are not ready as well.   As you can see- I do have weeds in my garden-I tend to be a lazy gardener and pull out weeds on a daily basis just as I am checking the health of the plants instead of just getting in there and pulling weeds.  The lettuce above is planted with some roses, sweet william, rosemary, swiss chard and morning glories-their vibrant green color and form make a nice compliment to the other vegetation.  Thinking that next time I will start them in trays and transplant later to make it easier to mulch the entire bed and will add arugula as well.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Four Generations of Females

My Grandmother, Mother, Lauren and myself.  Took several photos and not one was exactly what I wanted- this was one of the better ones- difficulty getting everyone to have a pleasant expression at the same time.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Very Good Way to Smash Strawberries

Getting ready to make strawberry freezer jam, I realized that Lauren's little hands would be perfect for smashing the strawberries.  After washing her hands MYSELF- I instructed her the squish the berries- she had a great time.  Liked that the recipe called for considerably less sugar than others we had reviewed and it turned out to have a very pretty color. Cliff, however, commented that it could use more sugar.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Queen Elizabeth Rose

Love the clear pink hue of this grandiflora rose Queen Elizabeth.  Just had to snip the blooms to take camping with us this weekend.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Pickers Are Here!

Borrowed the above title from the classic Jimmy Stewart movie Shenadoah-Cliff, Lauren and I went to Scott, Arkansas this morning to pick strawberries-lots of fresh berries to be found in our area-but very few will let you pick them yourself.  Cliff picked 5 lbs, Lauren 4 lbs. and I picked 3 lbs for a total of 12 pounds of strawberries. Plans are to just enjoy them plain, with angel food cake, chocolate covered, strawberry butter, with yogurt , in salads  and strawberry jam.  Also included a picture of Lauren picking honeysuckle- the fragrance was amazing!!!  The temperature hit 93 today-predicted to be in the 70's on Saturday.

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