Monday, April 23, 2012

Lumberyard Memories

My dad and I went to the lumberyard this past Saturday.

The purpose of our trip was to buy more lumber to make replacement railing sections for my front porch.  The ones that are there are rotting away, so Dad is constructing the railing and I am helping and I am also in charge of painting them.

Wandering around the home improvement center and the lumberyard took me back to my childhood, when Dad would pack up the three of us girls and tote us off to Wolohan Lumber on Saturday mornings.  What a treat that was!  Wolohan Lumber always had free peanuts in the shell and a self-dispensing Coke fountain on Saturdays, so that was the first stop once we got inside the door.

Note to any self-respecting store: do NOT provide a self-dispensing Coke fountain on Saturday mornings when children are present :-)

I can remember sitting on top of the giant rolls of carpet, pretending I was on a horse riding across the prairie, my grub in tow.  I think every bathroom vanity, kitchen cabinet, and toilet seat was opened and closed when the Jones girls were in the store.  We would daydream and plan and pick out our future kitchens and front doors and paint colors. Of course, you can't daydream with your sisters without doing it out loud, so we probably provided the entertainment for the other customers.   And that great smell of fresh lumber.  It was everywhere. I truly think that all of those wonderful sights, sounds, and smells sparked my creative spirit even further and helped me hone in on the things I like to do.

Dad took us girls lots of places (no sons, so what's a guy to do?).  Not only the lumberyard, but the dump, the Farm Progress Show, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Such a wonderful education for us and girl time with Dad. 

So very thankful for the time with my Dad this weekend.  Hopefully, I'll get asked again :-)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Laurie's Book Review: "Being Dead Is No Excuse"


Posting the New Orleans born-and-bred recipe for Coconut Pound Cake (the post below this one) reminded me of this book so much.

"Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies' Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral" by Gayden Metcalfe, a Southern socialite, and Charlotte Hays, a "recovering gossip columnist", is a very, very tongue-in-cheek look at Southern life and culture, especially as it relates to religions and the funeral process and the way food is interwoven into every aspect of the Southern existence.

Episcopals and Methodists are the main "combatants" in every funeral--and funeral food--battle, and neither side is spared much love in this discussion of the proceedings.  Every chapter in the book, too, has recipes for the tried and true funeral food standards of the South--cheese straws, tomato aspic, pecan tassies, pimento and cheese sandwiches, "liketa died" potatoes, and many more.

I found myself smiling and LOLing while reading this book.  It truly is a light look at a dark subject and the way it's done in the Deep South--and the food that goes along with all of it.

Recipe: Coconut Pound Cake

Coconut Pound Cake
 
Good Lord in Heaven above, I think I have just discovered my Achilles' heel.  I found this recipe for Coconut Pound Cake and liketa died (one of my favorite Southern expressions).
 
I have this thing for pound cake lately.  I don't know if it is the density of the finished product, or the strong flavor that a pound cake can deliver, but I find myself looking for pound cake recipes to add to my collection more and more often.
 
This one is just decadent-sounding.  Full disclosure--I have not made it yet, but it is certainly on my list to try soon, and I am even considering it as a county fair open show exhibit.  I will keep you all up-to-date on how this project goes.

INGREDIENTS for the Cake:
2 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 C butter at room temperature
2 C sugar
5 eggs at room temperature
1 C whole or lowfat milk
1 t coconut extract
3.5 oz Angel Flake sweetened, shredded coconut

INGREDIENTS for the Glaze:
2 T unsweetened coconut milk (or regular milk)
1/2 t coconut extract
1/2 to 1 C confectioner's sugar

INSTRUCTIONS:
  • Preheat over to 325 degrees F.
  • Grease and lightly flour a 9" or 10" tube pan.
  • In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In separate bowl, use electric mixer on medium speed to cream butter and sugar till fluffy (about 3 minutes).
  • Add in eggs, one at a time, and mix well.
  • Stir in milk, coconut extract, and shredded coconut.
  • Finally, add flour, baking powder and salt mixture, and stir to combine. 
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake till golden brown, about 1 hour.
  • Prepare glaze:  whisk together coconut milk, coconut extract, and confectioner's sugar will  smooth, adding more sugar as needed to thicken glaze or more milk to thin it out.
  • Cool cake in pan for 5-10 minutes before removing.
  • Drizzle with glaze while cake is still warm. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Recipe: Pillsbury Grands Monkey Bread



Courtesy of Traci Bratton at Walnut Street Traditions in Lafayette--here is an absolutely heavenly-sounding recipe for Pillsbury Grands Monkey Bread:

Pillsbury Grands Monkey Bread

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cans (16.3 oz each) Pillsbury® Grands!® Homestyle refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, if desired
1/2 cup raisins, if desired
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

DIRECTIONS
  • Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 12-cup fluted tube pan with shortening or cooking spray. In large -storage plastic food bag, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.
  • Separate dough into 16 biscuits; cut each into quarters. Shake in bag to coat. Arrange in pan, adding walnuts and raisins among the biscuit pieces.
  • In small bowl, mix brown sugar and butter; pour over biscuit pieces. 4 Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Turn upside down onto serving plate; pull apart to serve. Serve warm.
Just imagine this with a cup of coffee on a lazy weekend morning...yummmmmmm...

Friday, April 6, 2012

4/5/12--Cherokee Cross Market Basket


Here is last night's basket--I can't remember the exact name of the pattern, but if I had to guess, it would be a Cherokee cross market basket.  I love making the Cherokee cross because 1) it makes itself and 2) it looks so very cool. 

This is a HUGE basket; rough measurements are 18.5" long x 9" wide by 12" deep (to the top of the handle).  I love how it turned out after not being pleased with the last basket I made.  Sort of renewed my confidence in my abilities.

This is probably the last class I will take until Fall 2012.  Bev, the teacher, is not teaching any classes this summer because her first grandbaby (a girl) is due midsummer and her son and daughter in-law live in St. Louis, which is close enough for Grandma to make many trips to visit (and I don't blame her!).

I sat next to Betty last night.  I have written about Betty in this blog before.  Betty is a retired schoolteacher and is in her 80's.  She also has a condition that tires her easily and makes her shake, so she has trouble sometimes weaving.  I helped her the best I could with her weaving, but she helped me even more by keeping me entertained for the evening.  She is full of spunk; my nickname for her is "troublemaker".  She loves that name and keeps it up.  I hope like anything I am like her when I reach her age.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Remembering...

For some reason the past few weeks, memories of my nephews and the things they used to say when they were tiny have flooded my brain.  It's so warm and wonderful and wistful to reflect on those days.

  • Colin used to pronounce sausage "shawshage", tractor "shracsure", Troy Aikman "Shroy Aikman"--and my very favorite, dumptruck "dumruck".
  • When Connor was in the early grades, the teacher decorated her classroom for open house with answers the kids had written in response to the question "what do you want to do when you grow up?".  All the other students wrote down things like policeman, fireman, etc.  But Connor--he wanted to wear deodorant like his dad and brothers.
  • One afternoon, my sister Kris and I were folding clothes in my parent's basement and had Chris with us.  One of us girls threw (softly) a "ball" of athletic socks at Chris and it hit him in the forehead.  What we got in return was much more than we expected; a huge, rolling baby belly laugh.  We kept it up and so did he.
Many more memories than I can post here, but all very special to me.  Sometimes, I wish they were still little; Aunt Lolo misses those days greatly.  But, it is so much fun to watch them grow and develop into young men.  Life goes on and it holds many wonderful moments for these three boys.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

All My Raggedy Friends Are Here Tonight


"Raggedy Rachel" pattern by Raggedy Pants Designs

She was and is one of my very favorite dolls EVER.  Raggedy Ann and, of course, Raggedy Andy.  I am sure that the Raggedy Ann and Andy from my childhood are long gone; Mom isn't much for saving things.  And I am also sure that I want to have another one (or two or ten) to display in my house.  Maybe even to hold and talk to again when I need a friend; things don't change THAT much, even when you're 50 years old.

I have the McCalls pattern from YEARS ago that contains three sizes of Raggedys, and someday, I am going to the fabric store to find the pretty floral calico and the red/white striped fabric for the dress and stockings.  And I am also going to perfect a "I Love You" heart for their little chests, just like the originals.

I came upon this cute little gal today while browsing Pinterest.  She is a downloadable pattern, so no wait!  And she is just different and unique enough that she would fit in well with my plans to repopulate with Raggedys.  She is available from a website called youcanmakethis.com. 

Can't wait to welcome back some long-lost childhood friends!


Laurie's Book Review: "Scatter Joy"


I don't usually recommend a book to anyone without having read the whole darned thing first, but this is a first for me, too.

"Scatter Joy: Living, Giving and Creating a Life You Love" is by the artist Kathy Davis, of whom you know that I am a HUGE fan if you have read my blog at any point in the past.  It is a guide for the creative soul to following your dreams, basically.

I have just finished the first chapter, which is a kind of autobiographical sketch of Kathy's life and career to this point and the mantra which has helped her to accomplish so many of her personal and professional goals: "put yourself out there".  Seeing her many wonderful pieces of artwork and the empire that has sprung from it, it is hard to believe that she was afraid to do just that at one point in her life.

Skimming through the following chapters, I can see that many more real-life examples of accomplishments in Kathy's life and career are to follow.  I am looking forward to reading and studying them.  The book is also loaded with photos and prints, which is visually exciting and delightful.

Obtaining this book is not the easiest thing in the world, but it can be done; you can get an signed copy at kathydavisstudios.com (see link above).  I got my copy used from Amazon.com (no new copies in stock at either Amazon or Barnes and Noble).  If you need some guidance and/or renewal in your life and the creative spirit burns within your soul, I think this book would benefit you greatly.  Happy scattering!

Take a Peek!


Eastern Bluebird nest box view from 2011, Raleigh, NC


For a fascinating look at the world of birds and bird behavior, be sure to take some time sometime (that looks funny) and visit the nest box cams located on the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology website (click on link above to go directly there).

As of today 4/4/12, there are cameras active in four nesting areas; a Barn Owl in Texas; a Red-Tailed Hawk and Great Blue Heron in New York; and a Great Horned Owl in Minnesota.  Browse through the archives from past years' cams, which are also available.  That's where the Eastern bluebird box photo (above) came from.  There are so many species available to view that one could spend hours watching.

You can visit anytime you want and you don't have to call first!  The best kind of visiting there is!

The Comedian of the Bird World

Two days this week, I have been fortunate enough to find the back swimming pool parking lot at Armstrong Park open.  At lunch, unless I get an invite from very special (to me) people, I like to spend my hour alone and away.  This particular lot is semi-secluded (except in the summer!) and is wooded/natural on three sides, which allows me to also birdwatch while I relax and enjoy a bite to eat.

Both days, I have had lunchtime entertainment.  A northern mockingbird (see stock photo) has performed his song and sound routine for me at some point during the hour.  Mr. Mockingbird has lifted my spirits and put a smile on my face, and for that I am very grateful.

Mockingbirds can and do imitate other birds, other animals, and other sounds (yes, I have heard them do buzzers, pigs, dogs, cats, and sirens).  When I lived on the farm, I would be out working in the garden and one would land nearby and start his comedy routine.  The sound, accuracy and pace of the performance is almost manic; one after another after another after another.  And so darned real!  I would always stop and listen to the entire routine (never did get much hoeing or weeding done). Every once in awhile during this spiel, they will fly upward in a little spiral and land again on their perch, much like an exclamation point.   It was an absolute treat to listen to him sing and dance.

Sunshiny days alone at the park are one of my special treats to myself--but Mr. Mockingbird is welcome to join me any time he wants.

Listen To a Northern Mockingbird/Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology