Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cookbooks, Crochet and some great shows!

It's not even 6:30pm and I am ready for bed. Really!

I've been moving kinda slow today, so I'm thankful that I got all my major housework done yesterday, including all the laundry that needed to be washed and put away.

The only thing I really needed to work on today, was my menu planning, and I don't know what is going on, but I'm just not feeling it.

I seem to go through these phases where it seems to take me days to come up with a plan that I'm happy with. There's a lot of writing, erasing, and switching of meals, and that's usually when I step away and leave it be.

By the time I return to it in a few days, it finally seems to flow.


Finished my menu plan today with the help of some of my favorite cookbooks.

I also pulled out one of the newest I found at Goodwill, The Settlement Cookbook. Now usually I much prefer a book with pictures, because I like seeing what the end result should look like, but as time has gone by I've started enjoy these older ones with just the recipes.


This particular one is filled with little notes in pencil, and even sticker stars of different colors. I'm assuming one of it's previous owners used a color coded chart of some kind, maybe different colors for how much they enjoyed a recipe? Who knows.

The recipe for Pierogies caught my eye because my wonderful mother in law always told me the story of how she would make pierogies with her neighbor while their husbands worked swing shift. They were both marine wives :)

I'll have to make some soon, I do love Pierogies.


Been looking through my crochet projects for some inspiration, not sure exactly what I want to make next.

This one is so beautiful and I really need to finish it.


This morning I watched the first episode of a new 5 part drama series on ITV, called "Lightfields".  It premiered last night.

New Supernatural Drama spanning over 3 time periods, starting in 1944. A tragic death in 1944 sends ghostly ripples down the years ensuring that truth will eventually surface, whatever the cost.

Watch on ITVplayer
Or watch the first episode online, here

Really enjoyed the first episode and can't wait for the next one.  Also have some great shows coming up like Broadchurch on ITV, a murder mystery series starring David Tennant from Doctor Who. 

Shetland on BBC, another murder mystery set against the beautiful Scottish backdrop.

Dancing on the Edge on BBC, currently playing.  1930's drama about a jazz band in London.  You can catch up with the episodes on BBC iplayer, or online here.

The one I'm most excited about is premiering on Sunday, on the History Channel.  The Bible.  It looks phenomenal and we'll be watching as a family.  You can watch a preview for it here.

I have a grocery list to finish and some bills to set up for tomorrow, so I'll cut this one short.

Good night everyone :)

Cooking Thursday - Apple Dumplings

Good morning ladies :)

Can you believe it's already Thursday again?   Not that I'm going to complain too much because I do love my weekends, but goodness, we're one day away from March.

Anyway, here is today's recipe, one of my children's favorites and I had a craving for it yesterday, so quickly made it.  Enjoy :)

Apple Dumplings
Apple Dumplings

2 Granny Smith apples
1 lemon
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 canned buttermilk biscuits
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Peel, core and slice the apples vertically into 8 slices each. Squeeze the lemon into a bowl of water and add the apple slices to keep from turning brown.

In a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup water, 3/4 cup of the sugar, the butter and vanilla. Bring the sugar mixture to a boil over medium heat.

Separate each biscuit into 2 layers. Wrap a biscuit layer around a slice of apple, stretching the biscuit slightly to overlap, and seal on the bottom. Place the wrapped slices, sealed-side down, in a 9- by 12- by 2-inch casserole dish.

Pour the hot sugar mixture over the apple slices. Mix the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle the mixture over the tops of the wrapped apples. Bake until golden brown, 35 minutes.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oh to be a Pioneer!

I can't help it.

I'm totally fascinated with the Pioneer times and I want so badly to have been one.   Sure there are things about those days that are not exactly becoming, but I still would have loved to live in those times.

For one, I think people really did appreciate everything they had, they appreciated the hard work because they knew that it was contributing to their well being, they knew that any little extra thing they got was well earned.  Something which unfortunately is getting completely lost in this day and time.

More and more people seem to think that they are entitled, that people owe them good things..... and hard work?  Pfffttt, too much effort.


I've been surrounding myself with Little House on the Prairie, in the form of the TV show and in the form of books, recipes and anything I can get my hands on.  And every single time, I'm still amazed how much these families did, how the whole unit worked together doing chores, hunting, fishing, preserving, using their own hands to make sure that the family survived.

If I were to wake up my children at 4:30am and tell them to go milk a cow, they would throw such a fit, I think Japan would hear them crying.

I often tell myself that I'm extremely lucky to have the things I do, and that I shouldn't complain about certain chores, because when I sit and think about how everything had to be done in those times, it puts it all in perspective.

A normal day for the housewife was no easy task.  Water had to be brought in from the well, to wash dishes and food.   Some of that water had to be heated for laundry, then everything hand washed and scrubbed, hung to dry and ironed by hand with pretty heavy irons warmed on the stove.

 Source:  Google

Slicing, dicing, curing meats, preserving food, cooking meals, milking, and a watchful eye kept on the fire.  They knew exactly which wood to use for what temperature and how much of it was needed.  Today, we sometimes find it annoying having to turn a knob on the stove to get it going

Of course times have changed, things have been invented to make work easier, but I still would have liked to have lived in those times. 

Sometimes I think was born too late. I should have been a pioneer lady. I would have enjoyed traveling in a wagon train. I love the old skillets and pots and pans, I love old wood stoves and butter churners and grungy candles and the old way of doing things....and I do try to live it everyday.

Honestly, unless I'm really not feeling well or extremely busy and out of time, I actually go out of my way to do things the old way, to make do without reaching for the microwave, to wash dishes by hand, to really get in there with some elbow grease and scrub some clothes.

Why? Because it makes me happy, it gives me pleasure, it makes me appreciate the finished product that much more. Knowing that I put my all into a chore is rewarding.

One other great book I've read is Life in Colonial America by Elizabeth George Speare, and boy does that one put things into perspective as well.

"Many of the housewife's day was consumed in preparing meals. Every step of the preparation had to be done the hard way, with heavy, awkward equipment. Someone has written that the great kettles seem more suitable for giants to handle than for women. Yet in the course of her day every woman filled and lifted and toted and scoured them in her struggle to provide food for her family."

"Washday was a burdensome affair of hauling and heating water. The snowy white napkins and tablecloths which were a housewife's pride were only earned by painful scrubbing, especially in the days before forks. In addition, there was the daily cleaning of the kettles, the scouring away of grease and black soot with sand or rushes. The hearth had to be kept immaculate, and the floor swept and covered with a fine layer of clean sand which served in place of a rug."

"The longing for lovely things showed in the pride women brought to their daily work, the scouring to keep the pewter gleaming, the endless bleachings when natural linen would have served their families just as well, the hot hours over sticky, vile smelling dye pots to produce a bit of color. And somewhere in their unimaginably busy days, women found the time to create pretty things".


And this is the reason I do what I do for my home, and why I realize that even on those days where I'm more tired than usual, my household chores are nothing compared to what those women had to do on a daily basis. I can choose to not cook and know that we can just jump in the car and go pick something up, my family won't starve.

 It's why even at the end of a unusually tough tiring day, it will still never compare to their day.  So, I don't complain, I accept it and smile through it :)

Oh to be a Pioneer!!!!


Grandma, on her start of day
Milked the cows and fed them hay
Slopped the pigs, saddled the mule
And got the children off to school.
Did the washing, mopped the floors
Shined the windows and did some chores
Cooked a dish of home dried fruit
Pressed her husband's Sunday suit.
Swept the parlour and made some beds
Baked a dozen loaves of bread
Split some firewood and lugged it in
Enough to fill the kitchen bin.
Cleaned the lamps and put in oil
Stewed some apples she thought would spoil
Cooked a supper that was delicious
And afterwards, washed all the dishes
Fed the animals and sprinkled some clothes
Mended a basket full of hose
Then opened the organ and began to play
'When you come to the end of a perfect day'

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

This and That!

Whew, sitting down for the first time today.  My poor feet are aching and I am so looking forward to bedtime.

How was your day, did you get a lot done?

I did the usual daily chores around here, but you know, it really is a non stop job keeping a home.  There's always dishes to do, laundry to wash, kids to tend to and homeschooling to teach.  Feels like it's a constant go go go from the moment you wake up, and well into the night.

So, now that I'm sitting down and relaxing, I'll share my day.  I do hope you all don't mind, I am sure there are some out there who could care less what I'm doing, but since it's my online journal I want to capture every single moment of our lives, I think it will be something my children will love looking through one day.

Working on this wreath, still have to cut a few more stars and glue them on.


This jar sits on my baker's rack and holds all my cookie cutters.


I find cooking more interesting when I have these jars sitting above the stove. I made these labels on my computer, then printed them on brown paper.


Dried Lavender hanging on my Baker's Rack, I have had this bunch for about 4 years now, brought it back from a Lavender Farm in Texas.


People throw out a lot of good things. I used to have a tiny baker's rack in the kitchen. Well this weekend while we were out on our walk, we noticed some neighbors putting out this big rack on the side of the road. I guess they broke the glass shelves and didn't want it anymore.

Thankfully I have a handy husband who quickly grabbed some wood and built me custom shelves, a little black paint, and Ta-Da.


Have had this black frame laying around forever, and I believe that things have multiple uses and don't only have to be used as it's initially described. I think it makes the perfect place for some of my vintage towels.


A very dear friend of mine sent me these a year or so ago, I love them.


Even though we've been in this house for a few years, I still find myself constantly adding things here and there, or changing things around. There's nothing like being surrounded by things that make you smile or bring you joy, or remind you of someone.


One of my favorite things in my kitchen is this vintage Bread Bag that used to belong to my greatgrandmother.


Afternoon bread baking for dinner


And now to show you how my flowers and herbs are doing, this is my orange tulip.


My little greenhouse, the seedlings are all doing so well


My lavender. Ok, listen, I have had this thing for years now where I'm trying to grow lavender and have never been able to succeed. It's an ongoing battle and I'm determined to keep trying until I get it.


My carrots


and finishing with more tulips, they smell so lovely right now


Olive Garden's Bread Sticks rising


Mid afternoon snack, some homemade summer sausage. A couple of you have asked for the recipe, I don't have one for you, I actually use a kit from Cabella's. You can find it here.


A quick snap of my finished spiral bobble. I used this pattern.


Have had this antique salt and pepper shaker set for many many years, found them in South Africa before I got married.


Busy busy time. Dinner is always a rush for me, my husband told me I was like a blur today in the kitchen Hahahah


Bread sticks straight out of the oven, they always bring everyone to the kitchen


Finally, the craziness pays off when we sit down to a delicious dinner. Homemade Olive Garden Chicken and Gnocchi soup and Homemade Olive Garden Bread Sticks. Yummy!


That is how my Tuesday went. Little of this and a little of that. My days are usually a little of the same but yet I try to find ways to make every day special.

You can't let the monotony of housework get you down.

One thing I do is to turn on either the Christian Radio Station, or my Portuguese TV Channel, or Netflix and watch something interesting while I work, you'll be amazed how quick time flies.

Some I've been enjoying lately are Fork to Fork, Monarchy, The Fabulous Baker Brothers and Supersizers.

Have you watched anything interesting lately?

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Comfort of Lies - TLC Book Tour

The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Beyers

Five years ago, Tia fell into obsessive love with a man she could never have. Married, and the father of two boys, Nathan was unavailable in every way. When she became pregnant, he disappeared, and she gave up her baby for adoption.

Five years ago, Caroline, a dedicated pathologist, reluctantly adopted a baby to please her husband. She prayed her misgivings would disappear; instead, she’s questioning whether she’s cut out for the role of wife and mother.

Five years ago, Juliette considered her life ideal: she had a solid marriage, two beautiful young sons, and a thriving business. Then she discovered Nathan’s affair. He promised he’d never stray again, and she trusted him.

But when Juliette intercepts a letter to her husband from Tia that contains pictures of a child with a deep resemblance to her husband, her world crumbles once more. How could Nathan deny his daughter? And if he’s kept this a secret from her, what else is he hiding? Desperate for the truth, Juliette goes in search of the little girl. And before long, the three women and Nathan are on a collision course with consequences that none of them could have predicted.


Three women, three versions, one story.

This book captivated me from the get go.  I think it deals with a very real scenario which happens very often in our day and age.

Tia falls in love with the man she can never have, Nathan.  He is a married father of two who is never going to be with her, and is never going to give her the happy ever after.  He thinks he has the best of two worlds, and Tia blinded by love enters into this affair.  When she tells him she is pregnant, he runs for the door, so she is left with the only choice she considers right, she gives the baby up for adoption.

We also have Caroline, who along with her husband adopt a beautiful baby girl, Tia's daughter.

Fast forward five years, and these people's lives are about to come to a screeching halt.

Tia has been receiving yearly letters from the adoptive parents with pictures of her little girl.  Not being able to completely put behind her what happened with Nathan, she decides to write him a letter and pass along the photos......but the person who opens that letter first is none other than his wife, Juliette, who Nathan has never told about the affair or the daughter he has.

This book is extremely well written, we are taken on this journey with 3 different women coming from very different frames of mind, different lives who are bound by one incident.

The writer brings forth points of view from each woman and that makes for very entertaining reading.  You start understanding where each are coming from and you never quite know what is going to happen from one page to the other, which is huge for me, because a predictable book tends to get boring.

Loved it.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a review copy.

Happy Homemaker Monday - 02/25/2013

Good Morning all :)  Hope you've had a good weekend, got lots of rest and spent time with your loves.  Here we are, another Monday, but instead of looking at it with dread, let's choose to look at it as a whole week to do fantastic things.

The Weather:::
Cold.  I'm just cold.  I usually don't like the Arizona heat but at this moment I'm actually hoping it's around the corner.  Last week we had some seriously weird weather, low temps, some rain, some snow/hail/rain mix, just crazy.  Hoping this week we start warming up.  It's currently 43 degrees. 

Right now I am:
Drinking coffee, talking to my husband as he gets ready for work.  I'm in my pj's, sitting on the couch and I have my granny lap blanket on my legs.

About everything I have to get done today, making mental lists, and planning my time accordingly.

On my reading pile:::
Cookbooks as I plan the new menu

On my tv::: 
Mr Selfridge Episode 8
Portuguese Soaps - Tempo de Viver, Doida por Ti, Destinos Cruzados, Louco Amor
Call the Midwife Episode 6
Ripper Street

Favorite Blog post this week (mine or other):::
Yesterday by Our Wee Farm.  (makes me long for summer)

Something fun to share:::
Labels, clipart and all sorts of cool stuff.  You can find them on Just Something I Made

On the menu for this week:::
Making up the new menu as I have to get groceries this coming weekend.  Still enjoying simple family favorites around here.

Monday - Chicken Fried Steak, Mash, Breaded Okra
Tuesday - Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup
Wednesday - Roast Chicken Drumsticks, Homemade Noodles, Veggies
Thursday -  Crockpot Beans and Ham
Friday -
Saturday -
Sunday -

On my to do list:::

Laundry - *SURPRISE*
Vacuum living room
Change bed linens
Paint my tray and small bookshelf

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Will be picking up my tablecloth today, already got the blanket stitch done around with the crochet thread, now it's just a matter of starting the edging.
Deciding on the next project.

Homemaking Tips:::
Laundry can be a daunting task, but with a little help from the family, it's not that bad.   I usually wash all the clothes, fold into piles according to who they belong to, then have everyone put their own laundry away.
Sometimes I have the kids do their own laundry, they are learning how to do laundry AND helping mom out.
When they put away their clothes, my initial reaction is to want to go in there and fix it all, but I've stopped doing that, or they'll never learn.  I let them put it away how they want it, unless something is really wrong, I don't touch it.
It's never too early to start teaching your children how to do laundry :)

Looking around the house:::
It's super quiet.  I have the scent of musk permeating the air as my candle burns in the kitchen.  There is the faint glow from my oil lamp coming through.
Kids are still fast asleep, hubby is off to work and it's just me and my Portuguese TV in the background.

There are dishes in the sink that didn't fit in the washer last night, so I have to get that done.  There are a few Wii remotes and game boxes on my Ottoman that need putting away.
Other than that, the house is not too bad today.

From the camera:::
Love them :)


On my prayer list:::
My father who is struggling to find a job back in South Africa.  Please pray for him to find a good job, it's so hard at his age.
My stepmom, for help with everything she needs.  She helps out her mother (my grandmother), my own mother and my uncle, as well as my dad's mother (grandmother).  She sometimes stretches herself too thin.
My brothers, two of which haven't spoken in a few years.  I pray that they will eventually set aside their differences and go back to being brothers.
My husband as he prepares for his promotion test for Master Sergeant.

Bible verse, Devotional:::
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Homemaking on a Sunday!

It's not like homemaking during the week.  At least not for me.  Because you see, homemaking during the week entails lots of laundry and dishes and schooling and bills, grocery shopping and phone calls and busy schedules.

Homemaking on a Sunday, is a different kind.  It's the quiet, restful, relaxed kind.

You putter around, you rearrange things, you decorate here and there, you cook up or bake special treats for the family, you sew, you crochet, you paint.  The fun stuff.

So, here's how I spent my fun Sunday, doing those things which I find relaxing.


Setting up to make something special for my boys. My husband and son LOVE summer sausage and sometimes they will buy one to share, but they do prefer my homemade one.


Two HUGE summer sausages. I made them this morning and now they'll sit in the refrigerator until tomorrow morning, then I'll bake them in the oven for 2 hours. Yum!


Some more tulips blooming, my kitchen is filled with beautiful yellows and oranges.


My boys spent the day outside playing, they played basketball, then headed to the gym for racketball. On the way home they decided to drive around the base and pick some fruit. They brought home oranges, grapefruit and some lemons :)


I decided they look prettier in this colander.


Yes, much better.

While they were gone, Jasmine and I stayed home. We just talked, relaxed, watched some TV and I pulled out my sewing machine to make this cute little drawstring bag.


It's not exactly finished. I have a little tag with the word Seeds on it, that I'm going to stitch on the front. I made it in about 10 minutes, just cut out some 2 inch squares, 10 of the blue fabric and 10 of the white, sewed them in rows and then together, cut out some white fabric for the back. Sewed it all together, made a quick hem at the top. Then I soaked it in coffee to stain it slightly and give it an antiqued look.


When it was the right color for me, I wrung it out, threw it in the dryer for a few minutes until dry....then I made two slits on the top of the bag using my seam ripper and then threaded some twine through. That's it :)


Did a little dusting here and there and redecorated this shelf that sits above my TV. Used to have some other things on there, but I wanted to stick with the Americana look that is in my living room. I like it better this way.


When that was done, I put together a pork roast, braised it nicely on the stove top and then popped it in the oven for 2 hours. While that cooked away, I started another project, this is going to be an American Flag wreath for my door.


And just because I hadn't yet shared many pictures of my finished Granny Stripe Blanket, here it is....


Jasmine has claimed it for herself, she loves it and says it's the perfect size for her when she's sitting on the couch.


Now it's time for Walking Dead with the family, so I better skidaddle on out of here.

Have a great night :)