Monday, August 17, 2015

September Angel

My apologies--I know I started out with the owls by Debbie Mumm, but I decided I liked the angels better.  So, here is a back-to-school angel, and I hope she brings great things to all the students this school year.


"September Angel" by Debbie Mumm


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Very Good Exhibit Year



Once again, I entered the Tippecanoe County Home and Family Arts Open Show, which is held every year during the Tippecanoe County 4-H Fair.  Originally, I had entered six items on my form, but was only able to procrastinate enough to finish three of them.  And I did very well--three blue ribbons and a reserve sweepstakes on my basket, which was entered in the Hobbies and Crafts Division.

One of the exhibits I brought to the fair was a Pumpkin Pound Cake, which was entered in the Scratch Cakes class.  The other cakes exhibited were frosted layer cakes, so even though my cake had earned a blue star (considered for champion) rating, those beautiful cakes cleaned my clock, so to speak--and rightfully so.

I was very happy with my blue ribbon and with the way my product turned out, both appearance and taste-wise.  But the real reason I entered it warmed my heart most of all.  I wanted to enter a baked item as a way to honor my friend and fellow Open Show competitor Dave, who passed away this past spring at 62 years of age.  Dave, a florist by profession, was a tireless promoter and supporter of the 4-H program, both at the county and state levels, and was a very competitive entrant in the Foods Division of the Open show, always bringing in the area of ten items each fair. It was so obvious to everyone around him that baking for the Open Show was one of the great joys of his life.

Not only did he bring a lot of baked goods to the fair for exhibit, he also spent a lot of money each year at the baked goods auction after the judging was completed.  He won the Spirit of the Fair award, which is given to a person/business/organization that demonstrates support of and enthusiasm for the Open Show.

We honored Dave in a small and subtle but classy way at this year's Open Show.  I created "Baking For Dave" labels that were affixed to the entry tags of every Foods exhibitor if they wanted to have them.  I am very happy to say that the endeavor was successful as almost all of the exhibits have a "Dave" label on them.  

His family also wishes to honor Dave on a yearly basis with some kind of special recognition for an exhibitor, and we are currently working with them to make this idea reality.

As an aside, I was presented and honored to accept the Spirit of the Fair Award at this year's fair.  It was a reward for lots of stress and success, and I am happy that I was considered worthy.

Onward to 2016--planning my projects as we speak!


Monday, July 20, 2015

Recipe--Pumpkin Pound Cake

2015 brought me another blue ribbon for baked goods at the Tippecanoe County Home and Family Arts Open Show. My entry this year was a simple yet extremely delicious recipe for Pumpkin Pound Cake that I found in a cookbook titled Taste of Home Church Supper Desserts.  I hope that you will be able to try out the recipe yourself and enjoy the pumpkin-y goodness!



PUMPKIN POUND CAKE

2 1/2 C sugar
1 C canola oil
3 eggs
3 C all-purpose flour
2 t baking soda
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground nutmeg
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground cloves
1-15 oz can solid-pack pumpkin
Confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In bowl, combine sugar and oil until blended.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cloves; add to egg mixture alternately with pumpkin, beating well after each addition.

Transfer to a greased 10" fluted tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack.  Remove pan and cool completely.  Dust with confectioners' sugar.

YIELD: 12-16 servings (1 cake)

Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Hurray For the Red, White and Blue

Some possible patriotic cross stitching inspiration(s) for the summer months...

"Free and Brave" by The Drawn Thread
"George and Martha" by Plum Street Samplers

Friday, April 10, 2015

Crafting Inspirations...Spring

This is a stunner! It is a table mat (18" in diameter) done in a technique called needle felt applique.  The pattern name is "Geraniums".  I have GOT to start practicing so I can get to this level of skill!


Thursday, April 2, 2015

April Owls

"April Owls" by Debbie Mumm

One of the hottest trends in decorating and design right now is owls.  You can find the darned things on everything from notepads to cloth storage bins to wallpaper.  Here's an owl for April; hope he brings spring quickly to Indiana and everywhere else!

Springtime In the Country

What I wouldn't give to live here, in spring and in every season...


Recipe--Millionaire Pie

Spring--complete with all the weather ups and downs--might be making her return to the Hoosier state at last.  When the weather warms up, it's nice to find no-bake recipes that allow your kitchen (and house) to stay as cool as possible so that your people (and dog) can also stay as cool as possible.

Browsing through Pinterest last night, I came upon this recipe that made my mouth water instantly.  It couldn't be used as a competitive baking entry because of all that perishable whipped topping and the refrigeration requirement.  But it sure would win a blue ribbon in my book!

Millionaire Pie from www.spendwithpennies.com

MILLIONAIRE PIE

1 prepared graham cracker crust
1 C sweetened flaked coconut
1-15.25 oz can crushed pineapple, well drained
1 C maraschino cherries, drained and chopped
1/2 C chopped pecans
1 can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
5 T lemon juice
1 T maraschino cherry juice
1 1/2 C whipped topping, plus extra for garnish if desired

In a large bowl, combine coconut, crushed pineapple, maraschino cherries, pecans, sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, and maraschino cherry juice. Gently fold in whipped topping.  Pour into crust. Top with additional whipped topping and cherries if desired. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight.  Yields 1 pie.

As always--enjoy!

Monday, March 30, 2015

New Friend, New Chapter

Well, here she is...

This is the new experience I have brought into my life within the last two weeks.  Her name is Tink, or Tinky Winky, or Stinkerbell, or The Queen, or the Tinkster; all short for Tinkerbell, which I hate.  She is a three year-old Chihuahua who was rehomed with me through the PawSwap of Greater Lafayette organization.

Tink belonged to an elderly gentleman who fell and broke his hip.  He was transported to Indianapolis for surgery, did rehab in Indy, was brought back to Lafayette to continue rehab, and his family decided that he could no longer care for her.  They contacted PawSwap, I saw their Facebook post, and the rest--as "they" say--is history.

Tink
At three years of age, Tink had never been spayed, so we went through that ordeal a week and a half ago.  The microchipping at the Humane Society didn't go so well, so I had her microchipped while she was out for her spaying.  Her evil-looking little claws were trimmed, too (I will gladly pay someone to do that for me).  I also was told that I need to come by the vet and pick up a light sedative to give her so that she is somewhat mellow when she arrives for any treatment.  Good grief!

She is housebroken (thank God, what a blessing!) and she is also crate-trained, but I don't currently own a crate for her.  A bed is on its way to me that was ordered online, so hopefully she will take to the bed quickly--although it is nice to have her warm little body snuggled up to me at night.

We are to possibly have thunderstorms today and tonight, so I wish I was at home so I could observe her behavior.  I might be stocking up on doggie downers or something pretty soon if thunder or lightning are more than she can take.

Her rabies shots are up to date, but I was told a couple of days ago that she has not been vaccinated for bordatella or parvovirus for at least two years, so we will be doing that when I get my next paycheck.  I also received her contract; as soon as I complete that and return it to PawSwap with my $90 adoption fee, Tink will finally be mine.

We are going through quite an adjustment period, which I expected.  I believe that Tink probably ruled the roost at her previous home, so we are relearning the whole leader/follower concept.  My fingers are pretty chewed up from her nasty little bites (sometimes they hurt so bad I wind up crying), so I have put Tough Love Plan B into place when necessary--which is scolding and ignoring her when she does bad stuff and rewarding her appropriately when she does good stuff.  Slowly but surely, I think we are making progress.  I don't and never did plan to give up on her.

I noticed last winter--the winter that would never end--that I was lonely for company after my Jack Russell Terrier passed at age 15 from cancer.  I knew I wanted a small dog, but not necessarily a Chihuahua.  When I saw her photo in that Facebook post, something clicked; I just knew.  The very next day PawSwap contacted me, and our adventure began.

Wish me luck, because we have a lot of social behavior skills to work on.  But she can do it; I know she can.  Hopefully, our adventure together will be a long and happy one.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Winter Gardener

"Winter Gardener" by Debbie Mumm

There may still be snow on the ground and below freezing temperatures on the thermometer, but a gardener's heart is always digging in the soil, tending the plants, and harvesting the rewards. And don't forget about feeding the birds...


Friday, January 30, 2015

When Bread Bags Weren't Funny

"When Bread Bags Weren't Funny" by Megan McArdle

I can't even BEGIN to tell you how encouraging it was to me to find this column today by Megan McArdle.  Titled "When Bread Bags Weren't Funny", it appeared on January 29, 2015 on Bloomberg View.

Much ado has been made about Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) and her Republican response to the 2015 State of the Union address, in which she made mention of that fact that, having one good pair of shoes, her mother made her wear empty bread bags over those shoes to protect them from the rain and snow.  Once she boarded her school bus every morning, just about every other child on the bus was wearing bread bags over their shoes as well for the same purpose.

The insults and the ridicule have been fast and furious over this story (which, by the way, she also related in her victory speech last November 2014 upon winning a United States Senate seat from Iowa, the first woman in history to do so). People making fun of such a thing as if it never existed and the idea was preposterous.  Evidently, a Florida state officer of the National Organization for Women (NOW) (which does NOT represent the woman writing this blog post) even saw fit to give a speech recently wearing--you guessed it--bread bags over her shoes.

I BEG TO DIFFER.

Not very long ago in the United States of America, difficult lives were an everyday occurence.  The Great Depression forced Americans to make do or do without.  Money was scarce or not even available for things that we take for granted nowadays.  During WWII, people had to ration--gas, food, necessities.  Women gave up silk stockings in order for more parachutes to be made for soldiers fighting a world away.  Victory gardens in cities and in rural areas provided much needed food for families and neighbors alike.  Feed sacks were printed with designs and were turned into clothing items by resourceful women. Needs were the focus; wants were dreams.  That includes shoes.

These days, having as many pairs of shoes as possible is considered a hobby.  Back in those days, one good pair of shoes was a blessing.  If you had to go out on an inclement day, it was common sense to wear something to protect that one good pair of shoes.  Bread bags, being available, were put to wise reuse for this purpose.

Even in my younger days, and I was born in the early 1960's, I can remember wearing bread bags on the insides of my snow boots to help further insulate my feet from the snow and cold.  It worked, too. As an adult living on a farm, I wore plastic grocery bags to help me easily slip my feet out of mud boots when I was finished feeding pigs.

Please--ridicule me.  BRING IT ON. I have a whole lot to say to you.

We (and I mean people of this time) are WAY too spoiled and coddled.  We are so far removed from any situation where we might have desperately needed even little things that we have become indifferent and callous to any kind of hardship that our ancestors may have endured.  Common sense, too, seems to be a thing of the past.  I would put money against some people if they had to figure out how to reuse something in the case of an emergency.

More power to you, Senator Ernst, for putting a picture in people's minds of what used to be.  Even though they riducule you and insult you, the picture is there.  Whether they choose to educate themselves to not look quite so foolish is up to them.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Recipe--Banana Beignet Bites

This sounds like a good recipe for blizzard-y conditions such as the ones East Coasters will be facing for the next few days--so long as the power stays on! Drink a mug or two of hot coffee with these little treats, and I can imagine nothing better for being stuck in a snowstorm. Well, a beach in sunny Florida does come to mind, but...

BANANA BEIGNET BITES

Sugar Mixture
3/4 C sugar
1/4 C packed brown sugar
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon

Beignet Mixture
2 C cake flour
3/4 C sugar
2 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 t salt
1 egg
1 C mashed bananas (about 3 medium)
1/2 C whole milk
2 T canola oil

Oil for deep frying

In small bowl, mix together sugars and cinnamon. In large bowl, whisk first five beignet ingredients. In a third bowl, whisk egg, bananas, milk, and 2 T oil until blended. Add to flour mixture; stir till just moistened.

In electric skillet or deep fryer, heat oil to 375 degrees. Drop tablespoonsfull of batter, a few at a time, into hot oil. Fry 45-60 seconds on each side until golden brown. Drain on paper towel. Roll in sugar mixture while warm.

Enjoy!

Yield: about 3 dozen beignets

The Big Storm's a' Comin'...

"Ski Country" by Debbie Mumm

To all my friends living on the East Coast of the United States, stay safe and hunker down. Break out the board games, sip some hot chocolate, snuggle under your warm blankets. Gee, I almost wish I was there. ALMOST. I think I'll stay in Indiana and take my chances for the rest of the winter...


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Too Darned Cute...

Oh, no, I'm afraid I'm going to have to add this one into my rotation pretty soon...

"Dear House" by Carriage House Samplings

Life Goes On, But...

My uncle, Dr. Hobart Jones, passed away on January 8, 2015 at the age of 93.

You know, when you are a young girl and you have three uncles on your Dad's side and seven uncles on your Mom's side, you don't ever think a time will come when you have one uncle left.

That time for me is now. My only surviving uncle is my Uncle John, who married my Mom's sister Mary.

Of course, no death is ever easy to deal with, especially the passing of someone you love. Age and the wisdom and experience that comes with it helps you deal constructively with the grief and pain. But it was very hard to say goodbye to my Uncle. The good memories flooded my mind during the memorial service, and the words spoken by the officiating pastors confirmed and reaffirmed my recollections and soothed my aching heart.

My late Uncle was an animal science professor for almost 40 years at Purdue University. He received his degrees at Purdue, Ohio State, and Kentucky. He was a nationally recognized expert in swine management, and worked with producers and industry professionals, young and old, across the nation in the swine industry. The affection and admiration that people had for him was demonstrated in the overwhelmingly large number of people that made their way to a northwestern Indiana church on a windy January day to pay their respects to someone that helped to formatively guide their lives.

A good thing that comes from the passing of a loved one is the fact that you get to see many of your relatives and people who played a role in shaping your life. It is an interesting experience to see how time has treated them.  Lots of gray hair now replaces the blonde, brown and red of younger years, and there are more than a few wrinkles on more than a few faces. But they are all to a person wonderful, and those people are yours, and it is a comforting feeling to catch up, to re-live, to begin where you had left off like no time had passed at all. It's a chance to revisit those no longer with us through their sons and daughters, nieces and nephews.

In a way, that was a wonderful last gift given to me by my Uncle--the chance to reconnect with the people who play roles in my history. The old adage that "nice guys finish last" was lovingly and firmly disproved on that day I said goodbye. There will be more passings, unfortunately, but that is the ultimate function of life and time. In the meantime, I fully intend to learn the lessons of maturity and share that knowledge at every opportunity I am given. I will grow my heart for the rest of my life.

You are home now, Uncle Hobart. Thank you.

If you are interested, you can view my Uncle's obituary here.