Sunday, December 18, 2016

Two December Garlands

I had the December garland planned weeks before December, but didn't get started on it until weeks into December. That's life. 

I found a reindeer template on line and cut it out of two shades of brown card stock. I also found a sleigh image and cut it out of red card stock. 


(Excuse please that unsightly door bell ringer.)

I strung the sleigh and reindeer using red and white bakers twine and added a red sequin for Rudolph's nose. 


I love how it turned out, but it was too long to hang on the fireplace, so I hung it in the kitchen above my sink. 

For the fireplace garland I cut out Christmas trees from two shades of green felt and glued sequins on all of the trees. I thought it was a bit much, so I turned most of the trees around to hide the sequins. 





The garland is hidden behind my reindeer stocking holder, but it still works. 


I already have January's garland planned, but no promises it'll be done on time. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Caramel Apple Poke Cake

I can't follow directions. Or rather I can't follow a recipe. Sigh. I needed a dish to take to a potluck following church. I had planned to make Cherry Junk Cake, which calls for an angel food cake, but I wasn't certain it sounded good. I googled angel food cake desserts to see what else I could make with an angel food cake and found the blog Patricia's Patchwork Quilt  Oh my I love this blog! I love too the place she volunteers; Hillcrest Thrift store down the street from the former Old Mill cross stitch shop. 

There are several recipes I am looking forward to trying of hers. I asked a friend to pick a recipe for me to make having given her the options of; Caramel Apple Poke Cake, Blueberries in the Snow, Pumpkin Honey Bun Cake (those 3 from Patricia's blog) or Cherry Junk Cake. Dede picked Caramel Apple Poke Cake.  This was the most labor intensive cake I've made and it's made from a mix! 

You begin like most cake recipes; prepare a spice cake mix and bake according to package directions.  Allow to cool 20 minutes. 


While the cake cools, cook 6 cups of peeled and diced apples on the stove in 2 Tbsp of butter. 


Things were going well up to this point. After the apples have cooked till soft, you're to add sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. I totally missed that step.  

Twenty minutes after the cake has cooled, poke holes in it using a wooden spoon handle and poor over caramel sauce that has been heated slightly in the microwave. Save a little of the sauce to drizzle on top. 


Top with slightly cooled cooked apples. 


Cool several hours and then frost with cream cheese frosting. 

So, how did it taste having skipped an entire step? Good! I thought it tasted great. With the sweet caramel sauce and cream cheese frosting, I don't think the apples needed to be sweetened. Still, I'm tempted to make it again. 

Caramel Apple Poke Cake

1 box spice cake mix and ingredients needed to make it. 
6 cups peeled and diced Granny Smith apples
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 c packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon 
1 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 c caramel sauce 
1 can whipped cream cheese frosting

Prepare cake mix according to package directions in a 9x13 pan.  Cool for 20 minutes

While cake cools, cook diced apples in 2 Tbsp butter until soft. 

Combine sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and cornstarch. Stir into apples and remove from heat.  (Step I skipped.)

After the cake has cooled for 20 minutes, poke holes using the handle of a wooden spoon. Heat caramel sauce in the microwave till thin and poor over cake. Allow cake to cool several hours and then frost with cream cheese frosting. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

The never ending project (part 2)

The project began in early October. 




At one time 3/4 of the back yard was covered in 2'-4' of brush. Cutting it down was probably the easiest part of this project. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The never ending project (part 1)

Honeysuckle. It might be pretty, provide privacy and smells good when in bloom, but it is a nasty, invasive plant that is taking over our prairies and timbers. I knew the honeysuckle had to go, the sooner the better. I hadn't known it was going to be the chore it was! 


The before picture take this summer. That's honeysuckle around the chimney, some sort of volunteer weed tree to the left of the chimney, honeysuckle overtaking the cedar tree right of the air conditioner and that is honey suckle and some lilac at the corner. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Magic Meatloaf

The theme for Novembers cookbook club was Crock Pot. I had originally planned on making beans as I worked Friday and needed something that could cook 10 hours. Early last week I changed my mind. Both recipes and a few others I'd like to try came from the Gooseberry Patch Cookbook; 101 Slow-Cooker Recipes. 


Magic Meatloaf

2 lbs ground beef
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c green pepper, chopped
1/2 c onion, chopped
1 c milk
1 c saltine crackers crushed
0.87 oz pkg brown gravy mix
1-1/2 tsp salt (I omitted)
6 to 8 new redskin potatoes

Mix all ingredients except potatoes in a large bowl. Mix well and form into a loaf; place in a lightly greased crockpot. (I used a crock pot liner and didn't grease. I could have sprayed the bag, but didn't think to.) Arrange potatoes around meatloaf. Cover and cook on low setting 8 to 10 hours, or on high setting for 3 to 5 hours. (Mine was done after 9 hours, maybe earlier.)

It was good. I love meatloaf and while the other members went back for seconds, I didn't think it measured up. 

(Jenna's plate, I was being good and ate a lot less.)


In addition to Magic Meatloaf there was Spanish Rice and Hot Fudge Cake. 

(This was my bowl. See how small the serving was!) 


It's always surprising that the meal turns out rather balanced as we don't know what each other is making. We'll see if that continues as I've already got my recipe picked out for next month and it isn't a main dish! 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

November Garland

The November garland has been hung. It's turkeys and pumpkins, hung by mini clothes pins on jute. I'm not entirely happy with the pattern, so might change it. 





I used scrap book paper and Google found turkey and pumpkin templates. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Halloween 2016

My first Halloween as a home owner is in the books! 


Note that the windows and front door are open. It was a warm upper 70's Halloween night! 
I'm also noting to myself how blah the front beds are. All in do time, I just wish that time had been this year! 


My parents came over to hand out candy. The lights were on, a lantern hung to light the way and plenty of Halloween candy available. 



So how many trick or treaters did we have? None! Zero!  Maybe next year...

Friday, October 28, 2016

Hot and Cheesy Chicken Casserole

I made the best dish for Cookbook Club. The recipe is from The Potluck Cookbook, which I picked up at God's Storehouse (thrift store) in Topeka for $1.50! I love this cookbook and have several recipes I'm wanting to try out of it soon. 


I worked Cookbook Club Friday, but this was a breeze to throw together and wash up the few dishes before everyone arrived.  I cheated a lot. First I used canned chicken. 


I could tell it was canned chicken while eating it, but I like canned chicken, so it wasn't a bother. 

I also used already cooked rice! 


This was so easy! 

Chicken. (Poor pic, I was working by afternoon light.)


Broccoli, rice and peas. 


Two soups, Rotel and some cheese. 


Crackers and more cheese. 


Finished! Recipe is below. Of note, I didn't add the crushed red pepper flakes and it still had a kick to it. If you or those you're serving this to don't care for a kick, I'd substitute diced tomatoes for the Rotel and cheddar cheese soup for the fiesta nacho cheese soup. 

We were missing one member of the group, but had a great dinner of my casserole, cornbread casserole and Boston creme pie, which is actually a cake!  The meal was great with all going back for seconds of both casseroles! 


Next months Cookbook Club has a theme! Slow Cookers! So we're all to make a new to us slow cooker recipe from a cookbook! 

Here's the recipe for this months contribution. 

Hot and Cheesy Chicken Casserole

3 cups chopped cooked chicken (I used canned chicken)

1 14oz pkg frozen broccoli florets

2 cups cooked rice (I used Ready Rice by Uncle Bens) 

1 1/2 cups frozen peas

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can fiesta nacho cheese soup

1 10oz can Rotel

1/2 cup milk

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional, I didn't use)

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup crushed rich round crackers (Ritz, I used one sleeve, didn't measure it) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken in a 3 quart rectangular casserole dish. In a large bowl combine broccoli, rice and peas. (My notes; Vegetables are frozen. Rice can be cold.) Spread mixture over chicken. 

In a bowl combine the soups, undrained Rotel, milk and if desired, crushed red pepper. Stir in half of the cheddar cheese and half of the mozzarella cheese. Pour mixture over broccoli mixture in baking dish. Sprinkle crushed crackers evenly over all. Top with the remaining cheese. 

Bake, uncovered, 35-40 minutes or until topping is golden. 

Makes 8-10 servings. 

Recipe from The Potluck Cookbook. Cookbook note reads; Here's what every mom is looking for - nearly every food group in one quick-fix dish. To complete the food pyramid, serve this colorful casserole with a spinach-orange salad. 



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How Not To Make Apple Bread!

I found a new recipe online using a yellow cake mix to make apple bread. I had a yellow cake mix and apples on hand, so decided to try it. 

First error was that I didn't have any ground ginger on hand. 


I used these little cake pans. They make the perfect size loaf to eat and to share and they make the best loaves. No overly done edges and raw middles. 


It smelled heavenly while mixing it up. 


Here's where I noticed my second error. I forgot the main ingredient! Apples! So, I quickly cored, sliced, peeled and diced some apples and stirred it in. 


Which was the third error. The apples were to be shredded, not diced.  Oh, well! I baked and then let them sit for 10 per the directions. They didn't turn out well. 



They're good. It was nice not lugging out the sugar and flour and I don't think you can tell they're made using a cake mix. At least, I couldn't, but I've had better apple bread. 

I sent a loaf home with the guy that built my fence. I asked that he not judge as it was a new recipe and they didn't turn out of the pan well. He replied he's from the farm and you don't judge food, you just eat it! 

Sunday, October 23, 2016



Bulbs planted and some replanted! I hope they come up, multiple and live till I die! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Green Stuff

I first had green stuff a year, maybe two ago. I had been to Effingham Union Church for Sunday School and church. Afterwards we went to Lancaster United Methodist for a youth group spaghetti dinner.  While waiting in line I was told to "try the green stuff". Green? Stuff? What was this green stuff I wondered and did I really want to try it? I'm so glad I did! This stuff is good! 

To make; mix one 3.4 oz box of instant pistachio pudding mix with one 20 oz can of crushed pineapple (juice and fruit, do not drain). 

Stir in 2 1/2 cups mini marshmellows. 


Fold in one 8 oz container cool whip. 


You may also add 1/2 cup chopped pecans, but  my family prefers neutered desserts (nut less!). 


Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. Delicious! Unless you're my picky nephew who doesn't eat cool whip! 

Sunday, October 16, 2016


My family came over today to help me clear some of the brush in the backyard and stayed through lunch. I hadn't wanted to buy lunch out, as we often do, or make the same things we often have. I wanted to try something new and Stromboli fit that bill! I made it two ways. The first recipe was for Ham and Swiss Stromboli from The Girl Who Ate Everything




I subbed mozzarella cheese for the Swiss as I already had mozzarella and I reduced the amount of bacon to 4 slices. 


I'm not a fan of onions and if I were making this for myself, I'd have left them out. Otherwise, I thought it tasted great. 

The second Stromboli I made was from 
Southern Bite and was a pizza type. I was talking to my mother as I prepared it and forgot to take pictures! 


It was a mess as I cut it fresh from the oven. I used turkey pepperoni in place of regular pepperoni. I think everyone preferred this one. Both recipes call for canned bread dough and were a breeze to prepare. I'll definitely make both again. 

I served it with a salad (lettuce not shown) and green stuff. 


We ate on the front porch off of paper plates in mid 80 degree heat! Hard to believe that it's October 16th! 


One load ready for the dump, one or more still to go. Stay tuned for the Green Stuff recipe!