Sunday, September 15, 2013

My family should totally thank Ree Drummond

I love me some Pioneer Woman! I have been a follower on her blog for a while now, but now that I have my own ranch--it pales in comparison to hers, but one can dream--I have been watching every episode. My DVR is full.  Don't anyone touch the delete button, either.  I'll have your hide.

I have implemented many of her ideas in my own homemaking. I store my staples in mason jars, (actually, I did that before I came to love her.) I love cowboy boots, horses and basset hounds. 

I don't have a basset hound yet, but I'm working on it.  I just have to reconcile the fact that the hound might actually sleep on my couch.  I'm not ok with that yet.

I use handkerchiefs for napkins now just like she does.
I homeschool, just like she does.  I'm a blogger, just like she is, I could go on and on!
We are practically twins!

But since I have begun watching The Pioneer Woman on Food Network, my cooking has really improved.  I have made the most amazing biscuits.
Her four layer chocolate cake has nearly put me in a sugar coma, and put me in good standing with friends and family.

Her brisket is to die for! I even nearly killed myself after making her mashed potatoes. Ok, not really.  But the knife did get me pretty good. I blame it on the knife, not the recipe or the cook.

All I got say is, my family should all be writing thank-you letters to Ree.  I obsess about her a lot, but she is the reason my family is eating so well.

Thank you, Pioneer Woman!

Monday, July 29, 2013

My name may be Mary, but I'm a Martha

We never outgrow the need for lessons. And we should constantly be learning. But sometimes we have to learn and relearn a particular concept over and over again.

A week ago I had out of town company.  The first visit from these dear friends in my new home.  I wanted everything to be perfect.  I had cleaned the guest room, changed the sheets, set out a soft stack of towels for my guests, written out a menu and purchased all the food. 

Our visit was going splendidly!!

Sunday morning though, in a rush to get the meal in the crock pot I was cutting potatoes--"distracted with much serving" and cut off the end of my finger.  I don't want to be graphic but this was bad. I gave new meaning to the term "meat and potatoes." I grabbed a handful of paper towels and, (calmly? Can't remember) asked my friend to come see if she thought I needed to go see the Doc. Um, yes. We did.

Even while walking out the door to the Emergency room I was flinging instructions to my teenage girls, "Finish the potatoes, add carrots, add some water to the crock, do this, do that, hold down the fort." Oh, so distracted!

Luke 10:38-42 "Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Oh, Lord! This lesson? That must mean that my inner Martha is rearing her ugly head again.

You see, Martha is a do-er.  Mary is a thinker.  I have always been a do-er. Now, this is not to say that doing things is bad, not at all.  The world needs Marthas. Otherwise, pot luck dinners would never happen, meals on wheels wouldn't get delivered, and quilt donations wouldn't get made. The world and the church need hospitable Marthas. 

But Martha has a problem.  She is very good at juggling. She isn't good at balancing. When you juggle, you have to keep moving, you toss this bowling pin up and while it's on its way up you toss another, then throw a spinning plate into the mix, then how about you take on a Sunday School project, or maybe a charity quilt, then surely you can take a meal to the homebound in your spare time.  While they are all in the air above our heads everything is peachy! And maybe you can get off a few classy hand tricks and get them sailing again, but sooner or later it all comes crashing down.

Mary on the other hand is very good at balance.  She knows her limits, she only has two hands.  She knows that she can only do so much and she doesn't over commit.  Balancing acts require quiet concentration.  A balance artist doesn't move around very much.  They stand still while they achieve the perfect harmony between movement and stillness.

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

After I cut my finger, I was forced to be still.  It took the nurses and the Doc quite a while to get the bleeding stopped and I was told in no uncertain terms to go home and sit. No running around the kitchen, no weeding the garden, no feeding or grooming animals especially! There was danger in doing any of these things.  Bleeding could continue, infection could be introduced. The answer was to BE STILL!

Ok, God.  I get it.  Sit and visit with my friends. Stop all the busy-ness of trying to make everything perfect and just be. Being is hard for Martha. She gets so worked up watching Mary just SIT there.  Lord, don't you know that there are disciples to feed, the kitchen is a mess and, these servant girls just don't do things the way I would, and, and, and...Make her help me!!

"Martha, Martha. (Can't you just HEAR His tender voice?) You are anxious and troubled about many things. Only one thing is necessary."

I'm sure you know of Stephen R. Covey and his Franklin Planner.  I do.  I have three of them! My husband has two of them.  We are a Franklin Family! To a Martha, there is something cathartic in having all your ducks in a row. We love lists and check-boxes.  Oh, it makes my heart sing!

Well, Mr. Covey has written a book called, "First Things First." In his book he talks about prioritizing.  He uses a visual lesson with a large jar, rocks, pebbles, sand and water.  I'm sure you have all seen a similar illustration, you must fit the rocks in first, then the pebbles, then the sand in order to get all of the items in the jar.

That is not to say that if you do the important things then you can do it all.  It just means that the important things DO get done and then more of the lower-list items can squeeze into the spaces.

Jesus is the most important thing in our life.  Our relationship with Him should come first.  The pebbles would be the next layer of responsibility--our family.  They will fit in pretty easily into those spaces because Jesus will wrap our family relationships with love. The next items on our list would be church/work/friendships.  As long as our relationship with Jesus Christ is in our life-jar first, many other things can fit in.

So, my lesson? It's ok to be a do-er. It's ok to be a thinker.  Jesus loves both Mary and Martha.  He just wants our full attention when he is sitting in our parlor. No distractions, pull out some sandwiches and glasses of water.  He'll transform the feast.

He is the Rock, all the rest will fit into the spaces.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Aunt Emma's Chocolate Mint Cookies

This recipe has been a favorite in our home for years.  Mom always made them every Christmas. Mom and Dad also had them made by the hundreds for their 40th wedding anniversary in 1988.

They are printed in The Durrant Family Cookbook "A Home-Cooked Heritage" page VIII-1 (cookie section) Book published in 1991, reprinted December 2010.

 I don't know when they became a holiday staple in our house, but I have to make them every year too.  These cookies just seem to say Merry Christmas to me. 

This is a three-step cookie, but it really couldn't be easier.  It has a brownie base, a creamy frosting filling and a bitter-sweet dark chocolate topping.  Yum! I double this recipe to fit in a large, 12x14 sheet pan.

2 eggs, beaten
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp peppermint extract or 5-6 drops of peppermint oil
1/2 c. margarine melted (I use butter)
2 squares melted unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 c. sifted flour
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped small

Beat eggs, (but not like I did,) margarine and sugar together well. Add chocolate and flavoring. Then add flour and nuts.  Pour into a 9" square pan.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.  Cool and ice with:
1 c. Powdered sugar
1 T. cream
2 T. soft margarine (again, I used butter)
3-4 drops of peppermint oil
Put in the fridge for about 10 minutes until the icing is set, then cover with:
1 square of bitter/sweet chocolate melted together with 1 T. melted butter.

When set, cut into small squares.

Maybe one of my relatives can remind me who Aunt Emma is and why we love her cookie so much.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mending Jeans

My cousin asked me today if people still really do this, well, yes, I still do.
My hubby regularly rips holes in knees and so do my four boys.  Buying new jeans is just not an option for us. I have even been known to pick some up at the thrift store and repair them as well.  Boys size 10-12 jeans are hard to come by so I'll take what I can get.
Here's a little tutorial on how I accomplish this task without the use of those yucky iron-on patches.
First of all, I keep any lower pant legs that I cut off from making denim shorts out of the "too-bad-to-mend" pairs. 
This is my "patch" material.
Step one: Open up the leg seam about 8 inches past the seam on both sides.  Give yourself plenty of room to get into the leg area.
Step two: Cut your patch about 1-2 inches bigger than the size of the hole. Make it a nice square or rectangle in proportion with the hole.
Step three: Turn your pant leg inside out and stick a large ruler inside or a piece of heavy cardboard so you have a surface to pin against. Placing the right side of the patch to the wrong side of the pant leg, pin the patch in place.  Be careful, don't prick yourself, and now turn the pant leg right side out.
Step four: Using a wide zig-zag, stitch the patch down reaching underneath and removing pins as you come to them.  Stay about 1 inch away from the hole and feeling with your fingers to be sure you are still on the patch as you sew. You should have plenty of room with that leg seam opened.
Step five: Now, clip diagonally into the corners of the pant leg and carefully trim away just the frayed edges.  Turn this flap under and top stitch zig-zag over this edge holding it into place.
This shows me rounding the fourth edge and stitching all those edges down.
Step six: turn the pant leg wrong side out and carefully trim away the edges of the patch, being careful to only trim the patch and not the pant leg.
Finally, step seven: close the pant leg seam.  I zig-zag the edge mimicking the serged factory edge and then I use a straight stitch  on top of the former stitching line.
The finished patch!
These jeans have a lot of life in them still and I may be able to pass them on to the next two kids too!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Beginning Canning Class

Yesterday was my first beginning Canning class. I had three lovely ladies attend. We had such a good time learning and working together.
I heard this quote this morning and I think it really applies, "Give a woman a jar of food and you feed her for a day, but teach her how to can an you feed her and her family for a lifetime!"
What an amazing legacy. I'm honored to have the opportunity to impart some knowledge of the craft to these ladies.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Canning shelves

My kids and I built these shelves after only one day of planning and one day of building.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Thrift store find

I found this at the local thrift store and brought her home with me.
I'm not good with anything other than dating the machine. Can anyone tell me what model she is and how I can get parts.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Durrant Cookbook-Powerhouse Pudding

Here's another quick review from the Durrant Family Cookbook, A Home-Cooked Heritage.
I believe this recipe originally came from the back of the Cream of Wheat container, but I have done research on the web and I can't seem to find any evidence of that. Maybe it's just lost to everyone but we Durrants who have the cookbook.
So, here is our family-favorite breakfast.

It was originally published in the dessert section of the Durrant Cookbook because of the name pudding, but it's really hot cereal.

8 c. milk (I use 8 c. water and 2-3 c. powdered milk)
1 tsp salt.
1 c. Instant Cream of Wheat
4 eggs, beaten

Bring milk and salt to a boil. Slowly sprinkle in Cream of Wheat, stirring constantly. Keep stirring over medium heat for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Beat a little of the hot cream of wheat into the beaten eggs. Return egg mixture to pan, stir and cook 1 minute more.
Add your choice of flavoring and serve hot or chilled.
Stir in 1/3 c sugar, 2 tsp. vanilla, 1 tsp almond flavoring. Top with frozen strawberry jam.

Stir in 1/2 c. sugar, 3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate bits as Cream of Wheat cooks. Top with milk or cream.

When I make this, I beat the eggs into the sugar and the vanilla and almond extracts and then continue as directed. 


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Laundry soap revisited...

I'm frugal.
Some may call me down right cheap.
That's ok.  When you have a family as big as ours you have to find ways to be creative.  When Bear bought me a new washer and dryer set, we stocked up on Arm and Hammer liquid laundry detergent. I like it, it works and it's pretty cheap too.
But this month, our budget took a major hit.  Big Blue, my '98 Suburban blew the engine. She was very sick.  So, her new heart is costing us this month's grocery budget and then some.  I had to find ways of cutting corners.
We have been living off our food storage this month and doing without the "fun stuff" in order to pay for the "heart" transplant.
I thought that since my laundry detergent supply was getting low I would save my pennies and buy the ingredients to make my own.
I've done this before, and made the liquid kind but I really didn't care for the gloppy goop that I came up with. 
I have no place in my laundry room for a large 5 gallon bucket to sit, and I didn't like having to shake and shake the smaller jugs in order to get it to congeal. When I would melt the soap on the stove, it would bubble up and once it boiled over and created a gross, soapy Mt. Vesuvius, not unlike this mishap.

After a recent discussion on one of my quilt groups I decided to give the dry version of laundry soap a try. 

It couldn't be any easier!! Finding the ingredients was the difficult part.  I couldn't find washing soda at Walmart, though other bloggers say it is there--neither is the fels naptha bars.  I found them today at the Ace Hardware store, all three simple ingredients, right there on the same ailse.

I had quite an interesting convo with the lady at the checkout. The guy behind me called me Betty Crocker, though I prefer Holly Homemaker, or Becky Home Ecky, I'll take what I can get.
One bar Fels Naptha soap
2 c. Borax
2 c. Washing soda
1/4 Purex Color Safe Bleach (totally optional!)

 I came home and grabbed my empty ice cream bucket and lid. Inside I found the trimmings from our home schooler's Ivory carvings from our "trip to India" last fall. 

I threw them in the food processor and the new bar of Fels Naptha and set it to pulse, and pulse, and pulse--then I just turned it on and let it process for about a minute.
Next time I'll grate the Fels Naptha soap first and then pulverize it with the cutting blade.

I dumped the washing soda in and then the borax. I also added a couple of scoops of Purex Color safe bleach powder because I have boys. You mothers with boys will appreciate that.

This is what my mixture looks like.  You can see some little chunks of the fels naptha bar, but it is mostly a fine powder--sort of like cornmeal.

 I use an old medicine cup to measure, it's about 1 1/2 tablespoons of soap.  I have a top loading Whirlpool HE machine, and I poured it into the soap dispenser on the top of the machine.  It runs water through it as the machine fills.  I did notice the bigger chunks of the fels naptha bar stayed on top of the grate/screen portion of my washer. That might be a problem later.

I did read on a blog that if you leave your soap unwrapped in a warm dry place, (top of the water heater, on a sunny windowsill) it will help it to dry out and the soap will be more crumbly and less moist.

I'll update soon with a cost analysis.  That is the point here isn't it?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Something REALLY IMPORTANT to blog about...
The quilt was made by my sister Sylvia and me in memory of my brother Gordon who recently died of Leukemia.
The money goes to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. My neice Kristy and my brother Brian are training to run in the City of Trees Marathon on October 14th. The goal is $4500 for our team ($1500 X 3) and they are at almost $1500 right now.
The quilt my sister Sylvia and I created is now being auctioned. Contact my neice Kristy at the above link, if you are interested.  Tickets are $1. You don't need to be present to win, nor do you need to attend to purchase tickets.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Being satisfied

I find myself wishing a lot lately. 

Wishing I were thinner, wishing my foot didn't hurt, wishing it wouldn't rain so much, wishing the laundry was finished--and would stay that way. I wish that summer was here already, wishing the kids were better at doing their schoolwork.

The thing I most wish is that were moving. Not necessarily packing and driving to a new place, but that we knew the direction God has planned for us--that we were actually going places, heading in a new direction.

God isn't finished with us here yet and I think that is what irritates me.  I think in my own feeble mind that I have learned all I can here and it's time to move on.  I long to be settled. I long to be able to plant an apple tree and see it grow from a young sapling to a productive tree.  I long to plan and design a home that will be comfortable with my things in their places.

I'm ready, but God says wait.  God has said that for a while now and I get so impatient just waiting. 

In the movie "Fireproof" there is a John Waller song called "While I'm waiting" that really has made an impression on me. I think about it when I get impatient.  I think to myself, am I still worshipping the God who is in control? Am I serving those around me? Am I supporting my Chaplain/husband? Am I teaching and instructing those children/gifts that God has given me? Am I preparing them for what God has in store for us next?

So, while I am impatient to go, while I want to move on and I'm feeling so dissatisfied with where we are, I will wait. I will serve and I will worship and I will learn to be prepared for the next step. Whenever it may come and wherever it may lead.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I'll take her on...

Years ago, when I started this blog I made up this persona, Skinny Girl.  She lives inside of me and has even made herself public for a while after the birth of Robbie. I've managed to subdue her and keep her quiet with copious amounts of chocolate cake, pies and very little activity.

I'm surprised at how easy it was to shut her up.
She's been screaming for a few months and I can't ignore her any longer. She occasionally rears her skinny little head and crabs at me to take a hike--or a walk--whatever; the message is the same to me.

I don't like Fat Girl either. She's annoying.  She whines about aches and pains and bi-focals and tendonitis. I'm tired of hearing how her clothes don't fit right, how the bathroom scales show larger numbers during "that time of the month."

So, in order to shut them both up, and thereby create a bit more sanity inside my head, I have tried to take long walks along our bike path, but I've developed foot pain.  I'm heading out to the Doc today to see what it is.  It's annoying, that's for sure.

So because walking hurts, I bought a bike--nothing fancy or speedy.  A pretty little plum colored Shwinn. She has a wide seat, just like mine, goofy broad touristy handles and a basket.

I imagine myself looking like this,

But I'm sure I really look like Margaret Hamilton.

Now that Margaret's "theme music" is stuck in your head, I'm pulling out Penelope Shwinn and going to take a spin.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Busy with my new friend, Lucy

My new friend is my Tin Lizzie, whom I have affectionately named Lucy.  She and I have been getting to know one another as we work out our little idiosincrisies.
I've finished 7 quilt since I got her up and running just a month and a half.  My free motion quilting has improved, and I've learned a few things that have made my quilting better.  The biggest thing I have learned is to slow down and do things right the first time.  Planning the design is probably the hardest part.

I have completed some quilts using an all over meander, scrolls with hearts, flowers and stars intermingled. My greatest accomplishment is a sampler quilt for a friend. I can't unveil it yet because it hasn't been given yet. Soon, I promise.

Here are a few pictures of the latest finishes:

 This is a quilt top my Mom put together with a piece of vintage toy fabric. The toys are vintage and so is the fabric! I quilted it with an all over scroll design.  It was quilt number 1.
 Quilt number 2 is for my daughter Miss Busy.  She loves girly, daisies.  We bought this as a kit from a shop down in Ocean Shores, Washington.  It only took me about 3 years to put it together.  {smile}
 The next one is a wonky Log Cabin quilt for my son, Ace.  This is the third quilt in a series.  Each boy has a scrappy, wonky Log Cabin quit for their beds.  All three boys share a room so that I can have a sewing room for myself.  (Aren't they nice?)
 This is the Bricks of Healing quilt for my brother Gordon.  It started out as a project for him, but turned into a comfort quilt for his wife after his passing.
 This is my latest finish.  It's a Blue Ridge Beauty pattern from Bonnie Hunter's book Adventures with Leaders and Enders. This quilt is also for a gift, so I can't really give you any more information.  I wish I could mail along an automatic video camera with it.  I love to see the smiles when a gift is received.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tin Lizzie 18 DLS

My dear sweet hubby let me buy, in fact encouraged me to purchase, a floor model Tin Lizzie 18 DLS. 
I've been stitching lots of flimsies lately, and getting a lot done, yet I feel sort of numb to it all.

I put money down on layaway before Gordon died and brought the machine home just after the funeral.

I promise I will post pictures and add descriptions soon, my heart hurts, I'm in emotional pain and quilting gives me something to concentrate on and a brainless task to accomplish.  It has been my therapy, literally, to go in my sewing room and just work.

The house is sort of falling apart, my kids are bickering and their schooling is slacking considerably.

This post may not even be coherent, I'm feeling very foggy since Gordon's funeral.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

My dearly beloved brother.

This is my brother's obituary.  I'm reposting it here, but removing all last names as this blog is basically anonymous.  So if anyone thinks it is different, that is why.

Gordon, 48, of Lehi, Utah died Friday, March 16, 2012, after a short battle with leukemia. Gordon was born in1963 in Boise, Idaho, the fourth son and sixth child of Loren and Carolyn. He graduated from Kuna High School, attended Boise State University, and graduated from DeVry University with a B.S. in Computer Programming. He served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Anaheim, California. Gordon married his sweetheart Dixie and their blended family included one daughter and five sons. He worked for NuSkin as a software programmer and analyst.
One of Gordon’s greatest skills was his ability to serve others and make and develop lasting friendships. He was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and loved working with the youth. His fellow choir members and Primary class will miss him. He was so proud of his two sons, Tyler and Trenton, who are currently serving missions.
He is survived by his wife Dixie, and his children, Brianna, Brandon (Janie), Curtis, Tyler, Sean, and Trenton; his mother, Carolyn; and his siblings, Sylvia (Greg), Melinda (Dan), Brian (Pauline), Edwin (Julie), and Mary (Barry). He is also survived by his sister-in-law Sue (widow of Clarence). He will be missed by many nieces and nephews, cousins, and in-laws. He was preceded in death by his father Loren, his brother Clarence, and his mother-in-law Darlene, with whom he is having a wonderful reunion. His first granddaughter is expected in July and he will be the first to meet her.
Viewings will be from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, Monday, March 19 at Wing Morturary, 118 East Main, Lehi and from 10:00 to 10:45 am, Tuesday before the funeral service. Funeral services will be held at 11:00 am, Tuesday, March 20, 2012, in the Cedar Hollow Stake building, 2178 N 1200 E., Lehi, Utah.
The family wishes to thank the wonderful medical staff at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City and Intermountain Medical Center in Murray.

I'm too numb to write.  Too sad, mad and cranky to wax poetic.  My heart hurts.  I hate having to say goodbye to family members.  Could we just have a year with no funerals, please?

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