Sunday, September 29, 2013

Wedding Luncheon Photos - Part 2

Just a few more photos from the wedding luncheon. Such a beautiful day (despite the clouds and iffy weather)!

Originally we had planned to have all of the tables outside on the lawn. Since it had rained for the three days prior to the big day, the grass was a little mucky, and I feared the ladies' heels getting mired in the muck. So, we set up four of the tables outside, under the deck. where they were sheltered from any chance of rain. The other five tables were just inside, in the basement.

The centerpieces were made by my friend Val. She used old barn wood, fashioned it into boxes, and planted succulents and ivy in them.

Ooooo. Who is that cute little baby looking right at the camera? Our sweet, sweet grand-baby!

Some of the crowd in, some out. It worked beautifully as a "Plan B" arrangement.
How cute is my son (the groom) with his hand tenderly holding the arm of his new bride? He's a sweetie-pie!

And finally, my beautiful mother...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Recipe: Apple Cinnamon Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

On Tuesday nights, I have to come up with something that is easy and quick to get on the table. Bob has meetings that sometimes start at 6:00, but can also start as late as 7:00. And sometimes that changes at the very last minute, if someone needs to see him.

So, I'm always looking for good soup recipes that I can keep in the crock pot til needed, or even sandwiches, since they're usually pretty easy to make. And I'm not talking about pb&j sandwiches, though we do have our share of those when things get really hectic.

This past Tuesday was no different than any other. A little crazy. I decided to try the Apple Cinnamon Grilled Cheese Sandwiches from Yummo. I really, really loved them!

Apple Cinnamon Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

8 slices sandwich bread
8 slices cheddar cheese (or use grated)
1-2 apples (I also tried an apple-pear, which was also delicious!)
ground cinnamon
sea salt or kosher salt
3-4 tablespoons real butter
maple syrup

Butter each slice of bread and place butter-side down on a cutting board. Place cheese on each slice of bread. Core apples and slice (leave peels on) into 1/8 inch slices. Place apple slices on top of four of the cheese-covered bread slices. Sprinkle them with ground cinnamon and a shake of salt. Place the two halves together (one slice with cheese on it, and one slice with cheese and apples on it). Grill on a hot skillet and cook until each side is golden brown and cheese is melted. Drizzle with maple syrup, or serve syrup on the side for dipping. I drizzled mine, and then decided that for Bob's sandwich, I would serve some on the side for dipping. Both were equally delicious, but I may or may not have ended up feeling a bit sticky after handling my sandwich that had been drizzled with syrup. The dipping method is probably a cleaner way to enjoy these delicious sandwiches.
Makes 4 sandwiches.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September Week 4: Sugars and Sweeteners

This week's food storage items are:

September Week 4: Sugar (white, brown, powdered), honey, Karo corn syrup, molasses

It may be hard for you to know what your family consumes in sugar every year. One helpful thing is that sugar (granulated, powdered and brown) has an indefinite shelf life, and the same goes for honey, as indicated in this post from

Does Pure Honey Ever Go Bad?

Question:  I have a bottle of pure liquid honey that’s starting to get thick and sugary on the bottom. Does this mean it has gone bad and I need to replace it? 
Answer: No — your honey should be fine, provided you’ve been storing it properly.
From a safety standpoint, commercially produced pure honey has a practically indefinite shelf life,says the National Honey Board. It’s not unusual for honey to crystallize over time —  but that doesn’t make it unsafe to use, adds the Honey Board.
That said, prolonged storage can potentially take a toll on the taste and appearance of honey. Besides crystallizing, your honey may also start to darken, change aroma and lose flavor after a couple of years. So it’s a good idea to check your honey from time to time, to see if it’s still satisfactory for your tastes.
As for honey that’s already crystallized, you can revive it by placing the opened honey jar in warm water and stirring until the crystals dissolve. Another option is to transfer the honey into a microwave-safe container, with the lid off. Microwave on medium-high power, stirring every 30 seconds, until the crystals dissolve.
To help keep honey at its best, be sure to store it in a cool, dark area and keep it tightly capped after each use.

So, you can feel good about buying whatever you can, and knowing that if you buy too much, it will stay on the shelves until you need it. I like to pick up sugar at case lots sales once in a while, and keep extras on the shelves. As you go through this system for a couple of years, you'll be able to see how much of each product you use in a year, and then you will know how much you need on the shelves. I keep way, way more granulated sugar than I need, but that is all to be saved for a rainy day!
Decide how much sugar and sweeteners you'll need this year, and write them on your shopping list. In the next day or two, when you're out on errands, stop by the grocery store and pick up the items from your shopping list. Bring them home, get them on your shelves, and update your inventory sheets. And think how happy your family will be that you will have something sweet for them in the years to come!

I'm working on making links back to the original posts from the list under the tab "Week-By-Week Food Storage" above. Soon you'll be able to go to that list, click on whatever week you need more information on, and it will take you to the original posting date. Give me a few days to get 'er done...

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Wedding Luncheon Photos - Part 1

As I previously mentioned, we served box lunches at the wedding luncheon for my son and his new wife. I came up with the idea for two reasons: 1) I wanted a cold lunch (because of the long, hot summer); and 2) one of Robbie's favorite foods is a sandwich!

So, I enlisted the help of my friend Kristen, who catered my two daughters' receptions. We sat down and went through the possibilities, and I think the final product was both darling and yummy!

She started with a pasta salad. My only request was no onions, no peppers. It was perfect and delicious! She had measured the containers and box to make sure everything would fit in just right, and in the end, it fit in exactly, with no room to spare!

Next is the green salad. Simple, yummy, and refreshing. We didn't want the greens to wilt, so we had mason jars of dressing on each table.

And then came the fruit salad. She used seasonal fruits: watermelon, strawberries and blueberries. So delicious!

She also had a bag of chips (of course in a coordinating bag), and a croissant turkey sandwich (shown below in the closed bag... (forgot to get a photo of the croissant sandwich, but know that it was delicious)! She also had packets of mayo, mustard, salt and pepper in each of the box lunches.

And everything was neatly packaged in coordinating coral and navy packaging. The knife and fork were wrapped in a coral napkin with navy baker's twine tying it all up.

We didn't want to smoosh the "to-die-for" frosted sugar cookie, so we leaned those up against each box.

And do you think we could forget about embellishing the bottled water? We thought about labels, etc, but I didn't want to risk the chance of making a label and having the water get the paper soggy. So, instead, she tied each bottle with a little piece of navy tulle. Simple and darling!

And of course each box had to be tied up with navy and coral ribbons.

Bob cut out a bunch of chalkboard circles as a tag for each box. I had my other son's fiancee write R&R on all of them (the initials of the just married couple).

It was a perfect, easy, light, but filling lunch that everybody devoured! I loved them so much, I'm trying to think of another event to serve box lunches at!

(And thanks to Kristen, Kristi and Joanna for their photographing skills! Love you gals!)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fruit Fly Trap - Cheap, But Effective!

This is about the time of year that we get fruit flies invading our space. With 30+ fruit trees, that seems to be an ongoing issue, and one that we can't really avoid. Last year I started to experiment with fruit fly traps, and this is the one that seemed to work. I especially like it because it can be done with items that I already have at home, which means it doesn't cost me anything. Which is a good thing, because who wants to spend any money on those pesky fruit flies?

To make the fruit fly trap, you'll need an empty water bottle, apple cider vinegar, and a box cutter. Using the box cutter, cut the top of the water bottle off, just after the bottle's taper ends.

Pour about an inch of apple cider vinegar in the bottle. 

Invert the top of the bottle and place it into the opening you previously cut.

If the top slips down into the bottle, or has any small openings along the edge where it doesn't quite seal, then use clear packing tape along the top, cut edge to make sure there is a seal and to hold the inverted top into place.

Now, find a spot on your counter, and let the fruit flies come. It should attract the fruit flies no matter where you place it, though it needs to be in the open air and not in a cupboard or closet.

You could empty and reuse the same fruit fly trap, but it seems cleaner and easier to just toss that one when it needs freshening and start with another empty water bottle.

It's strangely fascinating to check the bottle every day and see how many more flies have been trapped. Fascinating and satisfying.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

September Week 3: Dry Beans and Legumes

This week's food storage items are:

September Week 3: Dry Beans and Legumes

Depending on what your family uses of these items, this week should be pretty easy and straight-forward. I have white beans, black beans, pinto beans, and dehydrated refried beans that are in cans and will all last for 20+ years. Those, I generally don't open and use during the year (though I could, if needed). I have bags of beans (lentils and split green peas) that I do use throughout the year, so I will decide what our yearly need is, and be sure that I have that on my shelves.

With the Week-By-Week plan, you will decide on your family's needs for the year, and enter those numbers on the Inventory Sheet. Subtract what you already have, and then you'll be left with the amounts of each item that you need to purchase this week. Next time you're at the grocery store (within the next few days), pick up the beans and legumes you need, put them on your shelves, and update your Inventory Sheet. There. Done for the week. Smile at what you have done for you and your family, and then relax til next week's items come up!

I'm working on making links back to the original posts from the list under the tab "Week-By-Week Food Storage" above. Soon you'll be able to go to that list, click on whatever week you need more information on, and it will take you to the original posting date. Give me a few days to get 'er done...

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mary!

You may wonder why I would know when Mary See's birthday is. It's a long, long story... about 50 years long. I grew up on See's Chocolates (probably was teethed on them), and to this day, Bob and I depend on good old See's to get us through the day. This past week being the wedding of our son, you might say Mary was right by our side the whole time. Literally. In fact, on Thursday, the day before the big event, the item at the top of my "to do" list was stop by See's Chocolates.

How Sweet It Is... Have a great day!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Activity Days: Individual Worth & Talents

For Activity Days last week, we started with having each of the girls paint a wood cut-out letter of their first initial. We encouraged them to paint it however they wanted to, expressing the idea that since we're all different, we probably won't have any of the finished letters exactly the same. I loved what they came up with!

While the paint was drying on their letters, I had them come up (one at a time) and write as many things "about themselves" that they could on the dry-erase board.

After they were finished, we talked about the fact that we are all children of God, and inherent with that is the fact that we all have many gifts and abilities and interesting things about ourselves. And that we are all different. We couldn't have left the first list up and just erased the name so that each of the girls had the same list. Each and every one of them is different, and has beautiful things about themselves.

I loved the lists! After each one wrote their list, we took a picture of them next to their list, and then emailed it to their parents so that they each girl will have a copy of their own to remind them of their individual worth and their many-faceted talents and abilities. For their achievements, I used it as a "write-in" under Developing Talents.

It was a simple, fun day!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September Week 2: Veggies - canned, bottled, dehydrated and frozen

This week's food storage items are:

September Week 2: Veggies - canned, bottled, dehydrated and frozen

What canned or dehydrated vegetables do you consume in a year? We generally use fresh or frozen vegetables, but I do like to have some canned veggies on hand. I have recipes that call for cans of vegetables, and I definitely like to have some on hand for emergencies. I don't use my dehydrated vegetables regularly... those are kept for the long-term food storage. So far, I only have dehydrated carrots and chopped onions, but I think I'll add a few different dehydrated veggies to my shelves. If you bottle your own vegetables, obviously you will have to do this when the veggies are ripe and ready for bottling, but include the updates and information in this week's inventory. This is also a good time to stock up on frozen vegetables (whatever you can store in your freezer).

So, determine what your family's needs will be (for the coming year) as far as vegetables go, whether canned, dehydrated or frozen. Write them down on your grocery list, and next time you're at the market, pick up what your family needs. Get the items on your food storage shelves, and then sit back and feel really good about what you've just accomplished for you and your family. Update your inventory sheet with the information, and relax til next week! 

I'm working on making links back to the original posts from the list under the tab "Week-By-Week Food Storage" above. Soon you'll be able to go to that list, click on whatever week you need more information on, and it will take you to the original posting date. Give me a few days to get 'er done...

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Delayed Apple-Pear Picking Season

It is definitely that time of year again! Time for the apple-pears to be picked before the all fall to the ground. Its a pretty good crop, though there seem to be a few more worm holes than we usually get. They still make for great eating and drying, though!

I don't want to open up the gates and have people come picking until after our backyard wedding luncheon this Friday. It's easy to trample down the plants under the trees when it's picking time, and I can't afford to have any more plants looking like they've given their all. At this time of year, there aren't quite as many flowers blooming, and some plants are definitely looking like they're pretty much done with the growing season and are starting to get brown and go into dormancy for the winter. All of that would be great with me, were it not for the fact that people will be in my yard this next weekend. Time to look lively, plants... just one last time before winter! After this weekend, I am happy to indulge and let the plants be "done" with the year.

We had a family work day to get ready for the festivities. Honestly, my family is the best!

Everyone came for the afternoon and knocked out the long list of "To Do's" that I had written up and our grandbaby gave us all a little something extra to smile about while we worked!. We're pretty close to having the yard ready, though I think I'll run to Home Depot tomorrow and get just a handful of plants (mums, pansies, kale) to brighten up a few spots for the big day. Other than that, we'll be literally surrounded by these beauties!

Hopefully we'll have a minute to get a few pictures this weekend... and then it will be time to call our friends and have them bring their buckets and pick to their heart's delight!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Backyard Firepit

This is the time of year when it becomes really fun to sit around the fire pit in the backyard. During the summer it's usually too hot to sit around a bonfire, but as the evenings get a little cooler, it's so much more enticing. We like to do foil packs once in a while, and we generally let everyone make whatever kind they want... steak and potatoes, chicken and vegetables, southwest, chili cheese dog, etc. The choices are pretty limitless, really.

Several years ago our fire pit was down below ground level, and the rim of it was flush with the ground. We thought that was a good design, but soon realized it made us really nervous to not have a little wall around it... just in case someone tripped around the fire. At least with a wall, there would be something to stop you from falling completely into the fire.

So, we decided to raise it up and have it above ground.

We filled in the hole and sat the iron ring (bought at our local IFA) on the ground. We knew the iron ring would get hot, not to mention the fact that it didn't look that great without some sort of covering. So, we purchased some stone bricks our of the same stone that we did our patio around the pit. We stacked the bricks around the iron ring and used a construction adhesive such as Tough as Nails between each brick. They have held up really well through the weather and use. We don't sit or stand on them -- they are merely for decoration, but they cover it really well. You could do the same with any type of brick.

It was an extremely quick project, and we have used it many, many times throughout the years. The grate that you see in the photos came with the iron ring, and can be used to set pans, popcorn, or anything else on that you want to cook.

Hmmmm. Makes me want to plan our next foil pack dinner!  There is nothing like sitting around the fire pit, enjoying the family. Love it!

I'll test some new recipes out and share them at a later date!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September Week 1: Back to School -- pencils, sharpener, rubber bands, Super Glue, important documents, emergency contact information

Admittedly, I have been thrown off by the holiday weekend. I woke up this morning not really sure what day of the week it was. So, better late than never, for today's post!

This week's food storage/emergency supply items are:

September Week 1: Back to School -- 12 pencils with erasers, pencil sharpener, rubber bands, Super Glue, copies of important documents, contact information for family, friends, doctors, etc.

This week is pretty basic, and inexpensive. Once you have it gathered, you shouldn't have to do too much when this same week comes around next year. You might need to update the contact information, or documents that you have gathered, but that is about it. Easy stuff.

Keep the pencils, sharpener, rubber bands, Super Glue, and documents in a bin on your emergency supply shelves.

There are many resources online on what to keep track of as far as important documents go. Since I haven't done a really stellar job of gathering important documents in the past, that's what I'll be doing this week to complete my "September Week 1" items.  As far as what to gather for important documents, I like the list I found on (the list is shown below). It is pretty comprehensive and may take a while to gather each of the items, but I think it will be a worthwhile project. One thing I would add to the list, is to make a note next to the information that may need to be updated from year to year so that I can run down the list in the years to come, and know exactly which things I need to update. The author of the original website says that they keep their documents in a fire-proof safe, which is an excellent idea, if you have one in your home. If not, keep it in a very safe place. With all of the information you have in the binder, it could be detrimental for it to get into the wrong hands!

You can go to their website and download or print off the pdf version.

Also, you may think it unnecessary to make a list of the contact information of family and friends. If your cell phone was incapacitated (maybe out of batteries, or ruined because of fire or water), would you have the phone numbers of family members, friends, doctors, police, fire, etc? Think of anyone you might need to call during an emergency, and write their names and numbers on the list. Keep the list with your emergency supply items and also keep a list posted inside a cabinet door in your kitchen for emergency reference.

I'm working on making links back to the original posts from the list under the tab "Week-By-Week Food Storage" above. Soon you'll be able to go to that list, click on whatever week you need more information on, and it will take you to the original posting date. Give me a few days to get 'er done...

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.