Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. Henry David Thoreau

Monday, November 29, 2010

Don't Rush Me!

I think I am the only one on the planet
who is not ready to
move on...

into Christmas, that is.

I had such a lovely Thanksgiving weekend,
I am not ready to move on just yet.
What's the rush, everyone?

My Cinderella pumpkins
still look glorious!

My house is really dirty
There is a day's worth of laundry to do...

And so,
 I am just moving slowly through this
quiet fall day...

Enjoying my memories of these things...

Beautiful Anniversary roses from my
husband of 37 years...

A fun family photo shoot.
We had hoped to get some great pictures outdoors,
but it rained cats and dogs just as the photographers arrived,
so we shoved the furniture away
and they did the magic here in the great room.

It is hard work getting 11 people to smile and look forward
all at the same time!

My favorite son-in-law cleaning out the gas grill
whose insides have rotted out.
He and hubs rigged up a way to use it as a charcoal grill
for our anniversary dinner

Here they are building a new thing-a-ling
for the grill...
I have no idea what that was,
but they did a great job!

Here is the steak mister at work!
Man those were some honkin big steaks and
mmmmmmmm good!

Kellie and her assistants decorated the table
with black and silver,
pretty framed pictures of us and the family
from years gone by...
rose and candlelight,
so romantic!

in the kitchen,
these two hooligans
decided to wash their feet in the kitchen sink.

I have no idea why this became necessary,
but that's how we roll around here....

These two are Trouble, I tell you!

Kimberly and Olivia working together
on the ultimate surprise...

Tiramisu Cake!
This was Heaven on a plate folks!

There is none left.

This makes me very sad!

A moment of rest inside
Annalie and Olivia's fort.

I had no idea how tired I was
until I layed down in there!

Everyone loves to take a turn with this little bug...

And then there was the food.
Glorious thanksgiving food.
Favorite foods.
Pretty foods.
Rich foods.

My whole family
around the table
at once.


Yes, we did shop on Black Friday,
it's a girl thing with us...
it's more of a lark for some of us than others,
but some of us had lists and
did knock down some great buys.

 We did manage to stimulate the economy.
We like to do our part.

On Saturday we all went to our favorite breakfast haunt,


It's a ma and pa place downtown
where hubs and I eat together
almost every Saturday morning.

It's the best breakfast food in town.
Hands down.
They are celebrating their 65th anniversary in business.
That ought to tell ya something!

I got my first guitar lesson from Matt...
I have always wanted to learn,
and we have two guitars just sitting around here,
gathering dust.

It's on my bucket list.
And I am doing it.
So there.

He is not yelling at me to
get my hand in the right position.
He is a very patient man.

Look out Janis Joplin!

I am also working on the hair thing...
I am hoping he can teach me to strum and do the splits at the same time.

I'll get back with you on reports on that!

It was a very lovely weekend,
and I am in no hurry to move on....
just yet!

I am enjoying the Christmas decorating you all are doing,
all over blogland...

I promise I will get my rear in gear very soon.

but for now,

I am remembering.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why This Is Not A Food Blog...

Thanksgiving is right around the corner
and I am in the mood for Pie.
It's really when all the great pie recipes come forth
to tempt us .

Doesn't this look tempting???

I get together with a bunch of young moms twice a month
for fun, fellowship and food.
I am not a young mom any more,
but I cook breakfast for them now and then,
so the let me be in the group.
My friend Lezlie and I 
 got our heads together and decided
that it would be fun to practice making pie dough together.
Lezlie is a great cook and likes to make things from scratch,
so I figured that at least one of us would know what to do!

I have been curious about the shortening vs.lard vs.butter debate,
and decided to bring along some lard to see what would happen.
Time always seems to get away from us at these gatherings,
and I didn't get to actually bake the batch I made,

so when I got home I whipped up two more batches,
one using lard and the other using shortening.

I had no recipe that told me what temperature to bake the 
single, empty crusts,
so I just went with 375 and waited.
And waited, 
and waited.
I finally took them out after about 1/2 an hour
and was not a happy camper.

As you can see, they are not pretty. 
They shrank.
They are pale
and unappealing.

Apparently, the planets were not even remotely
 lined up that day,


I even managed to scorch my favorite chocolate filling,
aka Betty Crocker red cookbook!

I asked my youngest son Kevin to do a taste test for me
and let me know which dough tasted better.

Note to self: ask somebody less honest!

The next day, 

Kevin: Yeah, about those crusts...what exactly happened?
Me: I baked them too long at too low a temp.
Kevin: Yeah, they both sucked.
Me: Right.

Note to self: make sure he knows never, never, never to say those words
to his wife, fiance, casual date, or even his sisters!

As you can see from this pathetic picture,
there are many many problems with these crusts
which tended to distract me from the original question,
which was "which is better, lard or shortening?"

I felt compelled to do some research and 
settle these other issues for my own peace of  mind.
And also world peace.

Note to self: Next time do online research BEFORE you try to demonstrate 
something you havn't done in years!

There is a lot of info about pie crusts on the internet.
Unfortunately there is a lot of disagreement about pie crusts too.
Some of the ladies swear by lard.
Some of the ladies swear by shortening.
Some of the ladies swear by BUTTER.
Some of the ladies say No No No do not use Butter!
Some of the ladies swear by Butter AND lard!

Also there are many blogs that failed to tell me what temperature to bake
the single crust (officially known as a "blind crust")
(Now don't you feel culinary?)
and for how long
I still don't feel real confident about that question!

after hours and hours of studying and searching various food blogs,
I feel ashamed that I went into this whole pie crust gig
with so little knowledge!
There is so much to know!

Let's look at my pathetic pies again, shall we?

Do not bother to comment about the lack of topping here,
I was so disappointed with the crust,
I didn't want to mess with it,
and really, my family knows where the Cool Whip is!

That whole shrinking down to half it's size really irked me!
Just look at them...so puny and small!
That's not a pie,
that's a tartlet!
That's a chocolate pizzalet!

I learned that the key to avoiding that is THIS:

once you have placed your dough in the pan and crimped it all up nice and pretty,

I also learned that it's a good idea to chill the dough in the fridge about an hour
before you even roll it out.
Almost everyone said to do this,
so it must be pretty important.

The experts also stressed the importance of 
chilling the shortening
chilling the butter,
chilling the lard...
one lady even said to chill the flour.

This must be all about the chilling!

They also said to work fast.
Keep plenty of flour on your work surface so the dough won't stick
Add the liquids a little at a time and if your dough
doesn't hang together when you roll it out, add more liquid a T at a time...
I just globbed mine back together and rolled it out a second time and it looked great...
maybe not a good idea,
but I wasn't about to pitch it at that point!

They also suggested using weights to keep a single crust from shrinking.
Lay some parchment paper in the crust,
fill with beans, or pie weights
(one lady uses pennies)
bake for 20 minutes, then take the paper and weights out
poke a bunch of holes in the crust
and bake for 10 minutes more.

Another thing that I didn't like was
the pale, pasty color of my crust.
I think when I try my experiment using butter,
it will have a better look.
The foodies also said that 
you can brush the crust with milk
or a beaten egg and water combo,
to give it that lovely golden glow 
that we have all seen in pictures.
Just not my pictures!
Even after I had baked my sorry  crusts for 1/2 hour,
they were still pale,
even though I almost scorched the bottom of one!

I have learned a lot about pie crusts
and the internet,
and woman's quest for perfection.
Just Google "flaky pie crust" 
and a whole new world of
opportunity lies at your fingertips.

I am eager to try the butter/lard option.
I'm pretty convinced it will actually taste good.
My daughter keeps sending me pictures of Pioneer Woman pie recipes
that she wants us to bake for Thanksgiving Dinner.
And I want to!
I want beautiful, golden, tasty, flaky, tall, proud pie crusts!
Pie crust that would make the Pilgrims proud!

Me:  If at first you don't succeed.....
Kevin: Pie, Pie again!

Happy Thanksgiving friends!
I hope you get PIE!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Creating a Backyard Water-feature: Tutorial!

My husband is a visionary.

When he told people that we were planning to 
dig out and extend our pit so that it ran across the back yard,
they would give him "the look".

What I am about to show you
is the result
of his planning and scheming.

All of you doubters, take note.
When my husband gets a good idea in his head,
it's only a matter of time.
I must confess here and now
that I was one of the doubters...
but once I saw the machines start rolling,
I knew there was no going back.

Might as well pull up a chair (or boat) and
watch the magic!

First, you get yourself some really big machinery
maybe even two big ones, and a dump truck is also helpful...
Freddie Van kept a steady stream of these dumptrucks coming
to haul off the muck.

Note: Several days of dirt moving have taken place prior to this day's events,
many, many tons of dirt were moved from the bottom of the pit
to build the dam at the far end.

At this point, the main event is the final dig..
taking the dirt out of the middle so that the water can flow from the existing pit
into our new little cove.
Many people have asked us
 how in the heck were we going to get the dirt out of the middle to
 join the two areas.

A lot of digging and dumping is required.
They could have just dumped it out onto the side bank,
but hubs chose to have it hauled off rather than try to level it himself.
So thankful he made that decision, because you know who 
would have been out there mucking clods next spring?

Dig and Dump,
Dig and Dump,

Move over, 
Dig and Dump.
Dig and Dump.

Here's the dam,
all ready and waiting to hold water.
that hole -looking spot is a hole.
Somebody got stuck there the other day.

We're not anxious or anything...

Still more digging and dumping...

Working from the other side
more digging and dumping...

the water breaks through!
We even had little rapids for a while,
as the water spilled into the new pit!

Machines kept right on digging 
and dumping

Boat ride anyone?

Digging Digging Digging!

Jim put some big cedars that had to be taken out
into the water near the dam
for fish shelter...
They are almost covered up now.

In a couple of days they will dig out the right side a little more...

Then you smooth out the sides with a box blade,
plant a little more grass seed,
and wait for the rains to come and finish the job.

Stay tuned for 
our grandaughter's maiden voyage on

Cedar Cove!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

the great wall...

What's new with you my friends?

I've been away 
and eating
bon bons.

But have no fear,
the work goes on
and my man 
continues to amaze me with his
endless skills.

While the weather was lovely,
he started on the patio retaining wall.
Here are a few scenes from 
Side One of The Great Wall...

These pictures do not in any way capture
the endless thinking, planning, plotting
heaving, tamping, sitting
sweating,and swearing
that took place .

Isn't it looking fabulous dahling?

I really do not know how he knows how to do this kind of thing...
but he does.
He had it in his head the whole time.

And now there it is, ready to hold back the dirt
and I cannot wait til planting season when
I can get my hands down in that dirt!

A craftsman admires his progress.

Unfortunately, this man has a habit of 
working way too hard and long at a time,
and at the end of the day
managed to his loose his balance,
twist his bad knee, bang up his hip 
and knock a hole in his head.

It all worked out great in the end
because we had a whole passel of guests
 on the way,
and I needed him to rest up for that.

Since the stones are so heavy, 
I didn't get involved in the rock wall building.

I was just kidding about the whole bon bon thing,
I was really busy doing other things...


and here...

admiring Grandpa's new grass...

and here...

Documenting the comings and goings
of Herself 
is a big job...

Hard work, but 
somebody's got to do it!

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." Ralph Waldo Emerson

About Me

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Welcome to my happy place. A place where I can share ideas, projects, and dreams. I am a nester, a crafter, a creator and a dreamer I hope you will find inspiration and encouragement for the journey you are on. I am a Jesus follower, wife, mother and nana. Blessed beyond measure, just trying to live my life gracefully and make a difference in my small world. Join me!