Monday, February 28, 2011

Haven: Day 1

This week I'm joining my friend Monica in her Make Your Home A Haven challenge.

My focus this week is to get back into a routine that works better for me. Every time I get into a schedule of sorts, my schedule changes. I am not complaining... many times these changes mean that prayers are being answered or that I have more work which means more income! However, change always causes me a bit of frustration as I struggle to be productive and manage my time effectively.

Today's haven assignments focused on my quiet time with God, doing something special for breakfast and completing a task that I've wanted to do.

Quiet Time
I'm reading in the book of Romans this week. Today I read Romans 2.  What jumped out at me was the phrase in verse 4: "...Not realizing that God's kindness leads you towards repentance? "

I want God's mercy, kindness and compassion to flow freely through me to point those I come in contact with to a relationship with Jesus that is based on repentance and a desire to obey every command of Christ.

Special Breakfast

So when I read this part of the challenge, I was trying to come up with something special based on time and availability.  I decided on making eggs-in-a-nest since that's a favorite of ours and one I don't make nearly often enough! Then Baby Girl arrived making it known that she was having an ECR (Extra Cuddles Required) sort of morning. So I changed my plans to oatmeal which could be cooked with one hand while holding the baby. A handful of chopped pecans and frozen blueberries were added for fun. 

We love grapefruit and my husband especially likes them chilled so before I headed out for exercise this morning, I tossed one in the fridge so it would be cold by breakfast time.

I also put a fresh tablecloth and place mats on the table. 

Special Task 
Since this is the last day of February, I took down all my Valentine decorations and put them away. Also included in this were a few Christmas decorations that were missed before.

Otherwise, I focused on following my routine and not getting sidetracked!

So today has been a  good day. Looking forward to the rest of the week!

What's Cooking At My House

This week, I'm stretching a roast beef over at least 3 meals, maybe more if we can eat some of it for lunches! The price of meat can take a huge chunk out of the grocery budget so using a large piece of meat such as a roast or a whole chicken in several meals stretches the meat and the money!

Here's what's cooking this week:

yogurt and peanut butter granola
eggs and toast

carrot sticks and white bean dip
tuna and/or peanut butter sandwiches

1) split pea and veggie soup, cheese melts
2) roast beef, gravy, brown rice, steamed carrots
3) beef and noodles, mixed veggies
4) beef gravy over toast or rice, mixed veggies, fruit
5) homemade pizza, chips, dessert

What's cooking at your house this week?

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Winter Adventures Of Cherished Dog

The Cherished Dog has really enjoyed the winter so far. The cooler weather always seems to have an invigorating effect on him. This is sometimes good and sometimes, not so good, depending on what he is doing and on our plans for that particular moment. 

Recorded for posterity, here are a few of his latest adventures. 

Yes, I Want A Cookie! 

Since Baby Girl is now eating some solid foods, occasionally I will give her a teething biscuit to gnaw on. The first time I gave her one, I asked her if she wanted a cookie and didn't realize what I'd said until I wondered why Rock was hovering so near. A cookie! Of course. He loves cookies. And now he not only likes his doggie treats but also Baby Girl's teething biscuits. Since he stalks her if she has a biscuit in her hand and also because she has a tendency to wave said biscuit in front of Rock's nose, I now only give them to her when she's sitting in the high chair. This does not deter Rock who knows that Baby Girl will eventually drop the cookie. So he lays behind the high chair and as soon as it hits the floor, he is there. 

It is wonderful to have such diligent household help. Not only does he sweep up crumbs, he also mops the floor while he's at it. 

I Love Treats! 

It is amazing what dogs will hear and understand.  One afternoon about a month ago, I was getting ready to make some Rice Krispy Treats. As usual, Rock was hanging out in the kitchen intently watching what I was doing. I naturally talk to whatever or whoever is around ( a habit formed from being around little ones so much, I'm sure!) and so I began to talk to him about what I was doing.  I began with a cheerful and chirpy "Do you want to help me make Rice Krispy treats?" while zipping around the kitchen gathering ingredients. Before long I noticed that he was eagerly zipping around behind me. So I repeated my question, not once thinking about what I was saying and each time wondering why he was so excited. Finally, my husband took notice and reminded me to think about what I was saying! Oh. Treat. No wonder he was so happy! 

Speaking of his dog treats, we recently opened a box of treats that he received from my sister's family  last Christmas. They are huge! At least 4 inches long. And The Cherished Dog thoroughly enjoys them!

Green Bean Machine

A friend who has a diabetic dog mentioned that his vet suggested frozen green beans as a good dog treat. Upon opening a bag of green beans recently, we thought we would try them out on Rock. He loves them. Who knew?!?

We do find it humorous that when eating a green bean, he usually holds it upright between his paws and licks it like a sucker.

Snow Dog 

We shot some video of Rock in the backyard during our January snow. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sights And Sounds Of Spring

 Pot of pansies in a neighbor's yard.

We've been enjoying lovely spring-like weather here this week. Not sure if it will stick around as it's not unusual to get snow in March, but we're liking the sun and high temperatures while it's here!


With windows open, I can hear: 

* soft breeze blowing
* birds chirping
* wind chimes on my porch 
* church bells ringing in the distance
* dogs barking

 We've been spending a lot of time at the park these days and discovering that Baby Girl loves the swing!

First daffodils seen in the neighborhood.

"Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves is heard in our land."
Song of Solomon 2:12

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pinecone Research Now Accepting Applications Again

If you're interested in earning a little extra money, you might want to consider signing up to be a part of the Pinecone Research Panel.

If accepted, you will earn $3 for each completed survey.

Click on this link to sign up:

Hurry, this will probably fill up quickly!

I've been doing surveys for Pinecone for almost a year and have enjoyed working with them. Payment is prompt and occasionally they will send me a full-size product to try.

One Organizing Project At A Time: Scrap Fabrics

 After a busy season of sewing, my scrap fabrics had taken over the sewing room. A bin here, a basket there.

It was time to rein them in!

I already had them separated by color. We organized each color or combinations of colors into large Ziploc bags.

Now they store easily in one box waiting for some fun scrap projects!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Reader Question: What Is Your Favorite Season?

Another reader question:

This is another question from Tea, who asks: 

"What is your favorite season of the year and why?"

Fall is most definitely my favorite season! It's not as hot as summer but the weather is still very pleasant and not as cold as winter. A good in between season without the pollen of spring!

The changing colors of leaves are so pretty. I enjoy cooking with pumpkins, apples and all kinds of squash. As the days turn a bit cooler, my attention turns to my home and I have this nesting instinct to make my home cozy and welcoming. In fall, I love having  the scents of cinnamon  and other spices wafting through my home.

Fall always makes me think of harvest and the many blessings that God has given us. Fall is when I finish up the year's canning and preserving, usually ending with applesauce and apple butter. It is the perfect time of year to begin cooking large pots of soup again.

There is something romantic about the fall season. Maybe it's the coziness of it all! We were married in October because I love fall so much and thought it to be ( and still do) the perfect time of year to honeymoon!

What is your favorite season and why?

Monday, February 21, 2011

What's Cooking At My House

Since this is the last full week of February, I've searched out the fridge and pantry to see what I have in stock and what needs to be used up instead of doing a lot of grocery shopping this week. I like to do this every so often as it cleans things out before I go grocery shopping again.

I've been keeping meals, especially breakfasts and lunches super simple lately, so these two meals will look pretty similar to past weeks. That's ok; it's working really well for us right now and nobody is going hungry!

oatmeal and fruit
cold cereal, milk and fruit
eggs and toast
yogurt, fruit and possibly granola, if I get some made this week. We love this peanut butter granola!

beef vegetable soup
peanut butter or egg salad sandwiches

1) baked potatoes with cheese and sour cream, steamed broccoli
2) salmon patties, brown rice, steamed carrots
3) spaghetti, mixed veggies, garlic bread
4) homemade pizza, carrot and celery sticks, fresh cookies
5) banana oat pancakes, scrambled eggs, fruit - Did not get to this meal last week!
6) Leftovers or soup and sandwiches

What are your favorite simple meals?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Creamy Icing

**Originally posted on my old cooking blog. This is the last of my cooking blog posts. They've now all been moved over --thanks for sticking with me! It's great to have everything on one blog now!

I frosted a chocolate cake with this icing for Christmas this year. I added crushed candy canes for a seasonal look and taste.It was a hit! My mother-in-law gave me this recipe, which is also good plain or with candy bars or chocolate chips added in.

Creamy Icing

8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 (12 oz.) container Cool Whip
Chopped candy bars, chocolate chips or crushed peppermints

Beat cream cheese and sugars until creamy. Fold in Cool Whip and candy. Ice cake. This makes enough frosting for a 9x13 inch cake.

Hot Fudge Cake

Or Chocolate Pudding Cake, as we like to call it. :-)

We love this yummy, gooey, chocolate cake. I've made it several times lately! It's easy to make and great served warm!

Hot Fudge Cake

1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup nuts, optional

3 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup hot water

Mix all cake ingredients and pour into a greased 8 or 9 inch pan. Mix cocoa and sugar for topping and sprinkle on top of batter. Pour hot water over top and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

This cake has a delicious fudge sauce in the center when baked.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Freezing Cookie Dough

**Originally posted in 2006 on my old cooking blog. I still do this, but usually go ahead and scoop the dough into cookie balls so they're ready to bake!

Here is a great tip I learned from my mom:

When you mix up cookie dough, you can freeze it in ziplock bags to bake later.Be sure to label and date the bags.When you are ready to bake, simply bring the dough to room temperature and bake as usual.

I love doing this because it is so easy to quickly bake some cookies without the mixing mess. This also would make a great gift for a busy mom or anyone who loves fresh baked cookies!

Hand Towel Apron

Apparently, I am really into making aprons out of towels!

Andy's grandmother requested that I make her a towel apron for Christmas as hers are wearing out. I found this tutorial online and thought this was much cuter than some terrycloth towel aprons I've seen previously. I hope she likes it!

The fabric I used for the ruffle and ties is from a thrifted sheet.  Love the fabric! The "ruffle" turned out too thick to successfully gather it into a nice ruffle so after the second time of the thread breaking and my temper already being quite short (it was not a good day!), I made the decision to pleat it instead. I do like how it turned out this way, though. Using a bit lighter weight fabric would work better for the gathers.

The ties also turned out too short, but she is a lot skinnier than I am so it should work!

I liked modeling this apron so much that I might make myself one. The towel part would be really great for drying my hands while washing dishes.

And yes, this was a Christmas present and I just finished it. In February. We weren't planning to do gifts until January since we were planning to visit them in January but with my trip to Oregon and all, that never happened, so... Merry Valentine's Day to all!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fruit Slush

**Originally posted in 2006 on my old cooking blog.

We had company for dinner last night. To work around food allergies, I chose one of our favorites, Fruit Slush, to serve for a light dessert. It was a hit! This is obviously a wonderful summertime treat, but we enjoy it year round. This is a recipe that I have adapted from the What Would Jesus Eat?

Fruit Slush

6 ounces orange juice concentrate (half of a regular size can)
20 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
several bananas, sliced
a cup or two frozen or fresh strawberries
1 cup boiling water (can also use drained pineapple juice)
1 cup sugar (I use 1/2 cup instead)

Dissolve sugar in boiling water and let cool. In the meantime, mix other ingredients in large bowl except for frozen berries. When sugar water is cool, mix with fruit. Fold frozen berries into mixture right before freezing.(Berries tend to discolor the mixture if left set too long!) Either freeze in large bowl or individual cups.(I use clear disposable cups.) Freeze for several hours or until slushy or make ahead and freeze until ready to use, then remove form freezer and let set until right consistency.

Variations: Experiment with other fruits. I usually use a can of drained fruit cocktail instead of so many bananas. Blueberries and fresh kiwi are also very good! I haven't tried it yet, but think that using lemonade concentrate instead of orange juice would be good, especially with a mixed berry slush.

Have fun and enjoy!

Slow Day In The Baggage Department?

As I got settled in my seat, getting ready to fly out of Phoenix, I noticed this interesting sight outside the plane window.

This guy is propped up all comfy-like and reading a book!

My guess is that  he was on break or else since they charge to check baggage anymore, work is reallly slow.

The blogger in me couldn't resist digging in my backpack for the camera and shooting this picture. This is just not something you see everyday!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lemon-Thyme Tea Bread

**Originally posted in 2006 on my old cooking blog.

This is another recipe I have tried from the new issue(Feb/Mar'06) of Taste of Home. It definitely has a unique flavor but is very very good!

Lemon-Thyme Tea Bread

3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine milk and thyme. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 1-2 minutes or until bubbly; cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with reserved milk mixture. Stir in lemon juice and lemon peel.
Pour into a greased bread pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.
In a small bowl, combine glaze ingredients until smooth; drizzle over bread.
Yield:1 loaf

Kitchen Towel Apron

A friend brought me a couple tea towels that she thought would look better in my kitchen than hers.

My cupboard is stuffed full of kitchen towels, especially the woven cotton ones, but my aprons are starting to look as though they need replacing. I set the towels aside along with a couple of new ones I already had.

I remembered this tutorial and got started.

Here's the first one.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pantry Staples

**Originally posted in 2006. While my list of pantry basics has changed some over the years, I still enjoyed reading about how I did things back near the beginning of our marriage!

I am frequently asked how I can cook from scratch and still stay within my grocery budget. Apparently there are some people out there who truly believe that it is less expensive to buy pre-made foods than the ingredients to cook these things from scratch. Well, I agree that some foods are rather expensive once you buy all the ingredients, but for regular weekly dinners, I try to make dishes that call for cheaper ingredients for the most part. Keeping a well-stocked pantry is also essential to cooking and eating on a budget! Here's a few of the items that I try to always have handy:

Basic Baking Supplies-flour(white and wheat), sugars(white and brown), honey, olive and canola oils, baking soda and powder, salt, pepper, baking cocoa, shortening, powdered milk, cornstarch, cornmeal, raisins,chocolate chips, nuts...

Dairy: milk, eggs, butter, cream cheese, cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, sour cream

Frozen: orange juice concentrate, assorted frozen veggies and sometimes fruit

Fresh Produce: carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, apples and I always buy fresh salad veggies and fresh fruit(on sale) when I go to the store.

Meats: ground beef, whole chickens and parts, other meats bought on sale

Other foods I keep handy: oatmeal(for baking as well as breakfasts),a box or two of cheap cold cereal, assorted dry and canned beans, rice, lots of different pastas, spaghetti sauce, assorted canned tomato products, peanut butter, saltine and Ritz crackers, applesauce, assorted canned fruits, a few canned veggies(we like frozen or fresh better),canned mushrooms, canned tuna and salmon, tortillas, pita bread, mayo, mustard, ketchup, BBQ sauce

I also have a large selection of spices and herbs that help to add variety!

Care to share? What are some of your pantry basics?

Whatcha Eatin'?

Happy Valentine's Day!

This week we're having:


1) Valentine's Dinner at home: steaks, twice-baked potatoes (both compliments of an Omaha Steaks Christmas gift box), salad, chocolate pudding cake and ice cream.

2) White bean pasta, salad.

3) Israeli Spice Chicken, brown rice, green beans.

4) Breakfast for dinner: banana oat pancakes, eggs, canned peaches.

5) Crockpot beef veggie soup, homemade bread.

green smoothies


What are your Valentine's Day plans?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Homemade Valentines

I enjoy sending cards with little notes to family members for holidays throughout the year. Sometimes I make the cards and sometimes they are purchased from the store.

This does take some effort on my part and unfortunately, I usually wait until the last minute to mail them so they do not always arrive on or before the holiday.

Sure, it would be cheaper and less wasteful to send e-cards or email,  but there is something so personal and special about receiving a real card in the mailbox via snail-mail. Besides, at least half of the recipients of my cards do not have email. :-) Handwritten letters are always well-received and looked forward to so I do try to include a short note detailing our recent adventures, no matter how dull and routine they may seem to us.I know the simple words will brighten someone else's day.

This Valentines Day, I created cards from magazine pictures I'd collected. I find the cutting, arranging and pasting and picking out the right card for each person or family when I'm finished very relaxing and enjoyable. They are nothing fancy but created and sent with love!

Keeping in touch by sending little cards and letters seem to shorten the distance between us all and is a special ritual that I don't do nearly often enough!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Bread Recipes

**Originally posted in 2006 on my old cooking blog.

 I make almost all of our bread and these are the two recipes I rely on the most. Both are courtesy of our Mom, who in my humble opinion, is one of the very best bread bakers out there!

I use a Bosch mixer to mix my bread dough, so I will give instructions using a mixer. My mixer is big, so it can handle large recipes. The white bread makes about 5 loaves, so check your mixers manual for how much flour it can handle. You can always cut the recipe in half if you need to.

I also add 4 teaspoon of Hodgson Mill Vital Wheat Gluten to each loaf of bread. I found mine fairly inexpensively at Harris Teeter and at the health food store. This helps the bread to rise better and to be softer and not quite so heavy.

Also a tip about bread baking from my mom- don't put milk into any bread, roll or cinnamon roll dough. Milk makes it dry. A lot of cookbooks will tell you otherwise, but this has worked for her.

Honey Wheat Bread
1 tablespoon salt
2 packages or 2 tablespoons yeast
3 cups warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons potato flakes, optional- but makes a softer dough
1/2 cup honey or molasses
2 tablespoons oil
4 cups whole wheat flour
4-4 1/2 cups white flour
12 teaspoons wheat gluten, optional

Combine first 5 ingredients in mixer bowl, starting with yeast and water and mix for a minute. Add 3 cups wheat flour and beat for several minutes. Add 1 cup wheat flour, 4-41/2 cups white four and gluten. Knead for 5-8 minutes in mixer. Dough should be soft and somewhat sticky but easy to handle. Add a little more flour if dough is too sticky. Put in greased bowl, greased side up. Put in warm place to rise. Let double and punch down. Let rise again. Punch down and set for a few minutes, divided into 2-3 loaves. Roll out and form into loaves always "spank" each loaf to get air out and also prick all over top with fork. Let rise to top of pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Brush tops with butter if desired. Makes 3 smaller loaves or 2 giant loaves. I usually make 2 large loaves and 1 or 2 very small loaves.

White Bread

4-4 1/2 cups warm water
3-4 tablespoons yeast
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons potato flakes, optional, but makes a better bread
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons oil
12-14 cups white flour
about 20 teaspoons wheat gluten

Mix all ingredients, except for flour and gluten, in mixer bowl, starting with yeast and water. Mix for a minute and then add 5-6 cups flour. Mix for several minutes. Add about 6 more cups flour and the gluten. Mix for about 10 minutes. Add more flour if dough is too sticky flour, I always start with the minimum and work my way up to the max amount. You can always add, but not take away!:-) Follow the rising and baking instructions for the wheat bread. This recipe makes about 5 regular loaves.

Enjoy! I just love baking bread! It is somewhat therapeutic and the house smells so yummy.

Grandma's Quilt

I saw this small quilt at my parents and knew I wanted to share it with you! It is made from my paternal grandmother's dresses.

After my Grandma passed away in 2003, one of her daughters (my aunt) cut up her clothes and made one of these lap quilts for each of Grandma's 7 living children. Because my Grandma was Amish, her clothing was all made out of darker colors. The light blue fabric you see would have been her nightgown.

Isn't this neat? I just love the resourcefulness and time my aunt took to create these.  After she made these quilts, she took the leftover strips of fabric and had them woven into rugs.

My Grandmother lived through the Depression, was always very frugal and saving, using up every little thing so nothing was wasted.

Evidently, the frugality and resourcefulness has been passed down!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hot Cross Buns

**Originally posted in 2006 on my old cooking blog. I like to make these for Easter morning breakfast!

My mother sang this little song to us... "Hot Cross Buns! Hot Cross Buns! One a penny, two a penny. Hot Cross Buns! Give them to your daughters, give them to your sons. One a penny, two a penny. Hot Cross Buns!"

This is a traditional Easter treat. I decided to make some today for our Easter morning breakfast tomorrow. They will be delicious with a hot drink.

Here is the recipe that I modified from Joy of Cooking:

Hot Cross Buns

Put in mixer bowl:
1 cup warm water
1-2 tablespoons yeast

Add and mix:
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup currants or raisins
2 tablespoons finely chopped citron(optional)
1 egg

Mix for a minute or two in mixer, then add:
3-4 cups flour
Mix in enough flour just until dough can be handled easily, and not too sticky.(You want it more sticky than dry, though.) Put dough in greased bowl. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled in size.

After the first rising, shape dough into 18 balls and place in rows on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled, again. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool almost completely and then decorate with the traditional cross, using:

Milk Glaze

1 cup confectioners sugar
4 teaspoons hot milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Mix together and add sugar or milk until consistency is not too runny and not too stiff. I put it in a small ziploc bag with a corner cut out and piped the frosting onto the buns that way.


Oregon Coast: Ainslee's Salt Water Taffy

 In my opinion, a trip to the Oregon Coast is not complete without a stop in Depoe Bay (the world's smallest natural harbor) at Ainslee's.

They make fresh salt water taffy daily, the machine in the window where tourists can watch the process.It is yummy, although my mom reports the milk chocolate fudge as being delicious as well!

This concludes my picture tour from the Oregon Coast from my recent visit. Hope you enjoyed them!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Vegetable Pizza

**Originally posted in 2006 on my old cooking blog. We like to eat this in the summertime.

We love this cold pizza in the spring and summer. Before we were married, I made this for picnic lunches often! All week I was thinking that we could go on a picnic today after church, so I made this to take along. Since it has been raining hard all day, we ate it at home in our dining room instead. It was still yummy!

The recipe says to put it on a rectangular cookie sheet, but I made it on a round pizza pan instead. I made only a half recipe of the filling for this size as well. Also I left off the lettuce as I think it gets soggy and I hate soggy lettuce. You can do as you like.:-)

Here is the recipe:
Vegetable Pizza
2- 8oz. tubes refrigerated crescent rolls
2- 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. dill weed
1 tsp. minced onion
1-1 1/2 cups chopped lettuce
1- 1 1/2 cups of chopped raw veggies- choose 2-4 kinds: carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, tomatoes, olives
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Unroll and fit crescent rolls on 15 1/2 x 10 1/2-inch cookie sheet, pinching seams together. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until browned. Cool. Beat next 4 ingredients together and spread on crust. Top with lettuce, veggies and end with grated cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time.

Oregon Coast: On The Beach

It was such a nice day at the coast. Sunny and the temperatures were in the 60's.  Most of these pictures were taken at Agate Beach and the Devil's Punchbowl.

I always love seeing the seagulls!

Yaquina Head Lighthouse.

Sunset at the ocean.

Coming tomorrow: One of my favorite stops at Depoe Bay!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Valentine Pretties

Last week, I added a few little red and pink touches to our home for Valentine's Day!

A red and pink rag wreath and a heart garland.

Last year's heart decorations now hang over the kitchen sink. 

It's fun to wear this festive apron-- a gift from my sister last year.

How are you celebrating Valentine's Day in your home?

A Cooking Quote

**Originally posted on my old cooking blog.

This quote is from Old Fashioned Living:

"Happy and successful cooking doesn't rely only on know-how; it comes from the heart, makes great demands on the palate and needs enthusiasm and a deep love of food to bring it to life." ~Georges Blanc

Oregon Coast: Down By The Bay

 The original Mo's.

Since I have many good memories of day trips to the coast when we were kids, I was very excited when my brother volunteered to take me to the Oregon coast for the day. My mom and dad accompanied us; Mom was quite excited about getting out of the house!

 We ate at Mo's Annex, just across the street from the original Mo's. Here we could sit by the window and look out over the bay while we ate.

Our first stop was at Mo's for their famous clam chowder. I had never had it, since we always packed a picnic lunch when we went as a family! But it was very tasty!

Mo's Clam Chowder.

This sea gull was perched on the ledge right outside the window.

As we ate, we watched the fishermen down at the dock. Some were cleaning fish and eating fresh seafood that had just been caught while they waited for tourists to come down to the boat to go out on the ocean.  I noticed they had a steamer down there where they were cooking their catches.

 My mom told us the story of when she was a young girl and went deep sea fishing with her dad in the Pacific Ocean, leaving from this same location. She remembers that there was a limit of two salmon per person and she was the only person on the boat that day that caught her limit. Even her dad who was an excellent fisherman. She says that because she was young, the skipper helped her reel them in. Her dad caught one salmon and she caught two. They took them home and they cleaned the fish and canned them.

I love this picture of my parents at the bay. You would never know that my mom just suffered a stroke in December, would you? God has been so good to her!

More Oregon Coast pictures coming tomorrow!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Oatmeal Add-ins

**Originally posted in 2006 on my old cooking blog.

These ideas help to spruce up a plain old dish of oatmeal. I found this list in one of my favorite cookbooks. My own favorite is peanut butter and chocolate chips!

Stir any of the following into oatmeal:

cinnamon and sugar
brown sugar
maple syrup
jam or jelly
plain or fruit yogurt
dark brown sugar and one drop of maple extract
chopped apples
dried apples
chopped peaches
wheat germ

From the cookbook Not Just Beans by Tawra Kellam.

I highly recommend this cookbook which is now renamed Dining On A Dime. (Her website is worth checking out, too!)

Menu Plan Monday

On the menu this week:

Breakfasts: oatmeal, eggs, toast, banana muffins, cold cereal, clementines, bananas

Lunches: leftovers, peanut butter sandwiches,egg salad sandwiches, salads


This week I'm roasting a turkey purchased on sale last Thanksgiving and eating on it most of the week.

Monday: Taco soup, chips, cheese and sour cream

Tuesday: Roast turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, sauteed green beans

Wednesday: Turkey and dumplings, applesauce

Thursday: Turkey, bacon and guacamole sandwiches, carrot and celery sticks, canned peaches

Friday: Turkey fajita pizza, salad, cookies or brownies

Saturday: leftovers

What's your favorite recipe to make with leftover turkey?

Friday, February 04, 2011

Salsa Rolls

**Originally posted in 2006 on my old cooking blog. These are always a hit whenever we take them to a party.

This is my husband's traditional Super Bowl specialty. It is very easy to make, yummy and always a big hit!

To make, mix about a 16 oz. jar of salsa with about 3- 8 oz. blocks of softened cream cheese. (Alter amount of salsa and cream cheese for taste and consistency. This amount worked for us the other day!) Spread mixture on 10 flour tortillas. Roll each one up and wrap in plastic wrap or throw them into a large ziploc bag. Let chill at least a couple of hours if possible, but they are still good if only chilled an hour or so. Slice each roll diagonally. Place on platter and serve!

This made enough filling for a package of 10 burrito-size tortillas as well as plenty of snacking with tortilla chips for the cooks.:-)

Chickpea, Spinach and Garlic Dip

**Originally posted in 2006 on my old cooking blog. Oh, how I love this dip! I did have to laugh though, bags of spinach are now closer to $2.00 each at Aldi's. We usually get organic spinach at Costco or Sam's Club at just under $4.00 for a one pound box.

Instead of making hummus for dinner last night, I mixed up this yummy dip instead. I got this recipe from my sister-in-law. It is easy and healthy and not very expensive to make. (I get bags of Fresh Express spinach for just over a dollar at Aldi's.)

Chickpea, Spinach and Garlic Dip

1 bag washed baby spinach
1 can chickpeas
1-2 cloves minced garlic
olive oil

Drain chickpeas but save a couple tablespoons of liquid. Cook the garlic in the liquid for a minute or two.(low to medium heat) Add the chickpeas and spinach and cook until spinach has cooked down( a few minutes). Mix in food processor and add a little olive oil while it is mixing along with salt and pepper. (Add oil a little at a time until it reaches desired consistency.)You can also add a little plain yogurt if you want it a little creamier.

Serve dip hot or cold with pita chips.
To make pita chips: Spit and cut whole wheat pita bread. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with garlic, salt or paprika. Bake for a few minutes at 400 degrees and let cool.

Oregon Countryside

During my recent trip to visit my family in Oregon, I just couldn't get over how green the countryside was during the winter months. I didn't notice this when I lived there but now that I live in a place that has mostly brown grass during the winter, all the green was so pretty to me!

I took these pictures while riding in the car. I told asked my brother to pull over so I could capture the simple country beauty of the Willamette Valley.

This picture was taken closer to the Oregon coast. I thought the combination of the trees with the blue, blue sky was breathtaking!