Thursday, July 28, 2011

Elevating the common things


It is evening and we have had our dinner hour and everyone is now relaxing for a while with their own pursuits. We had a lovely dinner, simple as it was. I baked a large pan full of hamburgers, served them with buns and all the accouterments and also had green beans and a salad. A fresh strawberry cake (I'll share the recipe next week during the Tuesday blog parties) rounded everything out quite nicely. It was a simple meal, yes but I wanted to make it nice for my family. So even though it was only hamburgers and sides, I set the table with my blue willow and a pretty embroidered tablecloth that has been in the family for ages.
It is so easy to let life get in the way. When we allow that to happen it is even easier for us to slip into what I and my husband call survival mode. To us, survival mode is when you are going through life at full tilt, doing just what you have to do to get by and letting small details fall through the cracks. Believe me, I have been guilty of it myself and it is no fun. The danger of survival mode is that some people do not ever make the realization that they are in it and that it is how they are living. In turn, it continues day after day and year after year - like a hamster on a wheel.
So that is why I like to elevate the common things in life. Perhaps the fare for supper was not anything special but it was served with care and beauty and taken together as a family. Taking the time to pay attention to details and make things pretty truly helps to keep oneself out of survival mode. Everything from how you fold your towels to taking time out to do special things will all help keep you and your family out of the dreaded survival mode.
I understand that sometimes it is a necessary thing to fall into that frame of mind. For example, when taking care of a sick loved one (perhaps for an extended period of time) or when arriving home after a long trip and you find yourself exceptionally tired with lots of unpacking to do. Sometimes life truly does happen to us and things get put on our plate that causes us to slip into a time of letting the sweet details of life pass us by. Sometimes (as in the examples above)it can be something we cannot avoid and a bridge we must cross. However, I personally feel that slipping into survival mode for no good reason ~ simply because we cannot be bothered with the effort required to do otherwise - is a shameful thing. So many people don't care about the niceties of life and manners and good sense simply because they do not want to and it has not served us well as a people.
So ~ you may be only serving hot dogs and a side but set your table with the good dishes anyway. You may be only running to the local store for milk but fix yourself up anyway. You may only have a front stoop consisting of two steps and nothing else but put some flowers on those steps anyway. The masses have stopped doing these types of things. Do you really want to be like them?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Peanut Butter & White Chocolate Biscotti

(Sorry for the picture quality, I had to use a cellphone. This is the finished biscotti on my Mikasa platter ready for ladies night.)
For Tuesday's homemaking/cooking blog parties, I offer you my newest recipe find. Peanut butter & white chocolate biscotti. I had the best excuse to make them today. It was our once monthly women's Bible study. It is hosted in someone's home each month and each lady in attendance brings a dish. I was so excited to try my biscotti out and take it to share with everyone tonight. I had a basic recipe to work with, then I changed it around to suit my taste.


Above is a picture of the biscotti in mid-process, after the initial baking. There are 3 bake times. You make two loaves and one loaf is cut and the other is how it will look after the first bake. These will spread while baking, so account for that when you place them on your baking sheet.


Here is the recipe:


1 package Duncan Hines moist deluxe classic yellow cake mix


1 C. all purpose flour


3 large eggs


1/2 C. butter, melted


1/2 C. peanut butter


1/2 tsp. vanilla


1/2 tsp. finely grated sea salt


1/2 C. dry roasted peanuts, chopped


Preheat the oven to 350*. Cut parchment paper to fit a cookie sheet. Using a mixer, combine cake mix, flour, 2 of the eggs, butter, peanut butter, vanilla and sea salt. I mixed it with my regular beaters until it started to come together then I switched to my dough hooks. Beat it just until it works together into a dough. Then mix in the peanuts by hand until they are fully incorporated. Divide the dough into equal halves. Work each half into a rectangle that is 8 inches long by 2 inches wide and 1 inch high. They truly need to be that exact measurement ~ I went so far as to measure mine with a ruler. Place on your lined cookie sheet, giving enough room between them so they can spread without touching.

Beat the remaining egg and brush over the top and sides of each dough loaf. Bake for 30-35 minutes and then let them cool for 10 minutes. After they have cooled, cut each loaf in half on a diagonal, with a serrated knife. Cut very slowly and carefully. After they are cut in half, start cutting them length wise into strips. Then place them back onto the cookie sheet, one of the cut sides down. Put back in the oven for 10 minutes. (Now, the recipe calls for 10 minutes here, but that was a tad too long in my oven. So be careful, this second baking is to brown the side that is on the bottom. Maybe start checking them at 5 minutes and each minute after that until they are browned to your liking.) Take them out of the oven and flip them over. Now bake them again for 5 minutes longer. Take them out and let them completely cool.

After they have cooled, it is time to bring some chocolate into the equation. You can decide if you want dark, milk, or white chocolate and if you want it drizzled or dipped. I decided to dip one side of each biscotti in white chocolate and serve on the platter with strawberries. I used this melting chocolate which now comes in a handy microwavable bowl.


So all I had to do was zap it in the microwave and then dip the biscotti. Very quick and easy with practically no mess! Once they were dipped I put them in the refrigerator so the chocolate would harden off. They did great. These were really good and would be perfect with a cup of coffee or tea. I know the recipe seems long, but it really wasn't difficult at all. I am sure I will make these again.

Blog parties I am joining:

Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays at Blessed with Grace

Tea Time Tuesday at Sweetology

A Titus 2sday Link Up at a Time-Warp Wife

A Return to Loveliness at A Delightsome Life



Domestically Divine Homemaking Link Up at Far Above Rubies

Saturday, July 23, 2011

We could all take a lesson from Aunt Bea

I don't watch a lot of tv, but one show I do like to see is The Andy Griffeth Show. I know, I know, terribly old fashioned but that is who I am. It simply cannot be helped. :)

I really admire the character of Aunt Bea. Truth be told, the "lifestyle" that is lived in Andy and Aunt Bea's home is very close to my own childhood. My parents were older when they had me in the 1970s. My mother even favored Aunt Bea a bit and our home was very much like that which was portrayed in the show. A set dinner hour, the table always set, the family always eating together, a calm and quiet atmosphere at most times. So I suppose it is no wonder that the show and especially Aunt Bea seem very comforting to me.


How is it that we have lost so much in just one or two generations time? I'll admit it's a challenge, even to me who was raised that way, to hold the standard. Life in general is so much...different now. Which makes me want to hold to that old standard all the harder. Also, when did it become this taboo thing for women to grow old gracefully and naturally? Aunt Bea would have laughed at the lengthes women go to to try and appear younger than they are. Shouldn't we be proud of the years we have lived and the wisdom we have gained?


I remember growing up how my mother and the other women of her generation held their weekly hair appointments as a sacred thing not to be dilly dallied with on the schedule! Their appearance and the impression they gave really meant a great deal to them. But their intention was not to hold on to the vanity of youth. It was simply a matter of self respect.
Even simple things like going to the local grocer was worthy of getting dressed up in a respectful manner. They would not have dreamed to leave the house looking like a ragamuffin. They took a lot of pride in the small details of their life - the simple things like going to the store - and treated them accordingly. But now it seems that those same small details of life mean...nothing really and most women are quite content to plop their hair atop their head in a scrunchie and prance around the store in their pajamas. Where has our pride and self respect gone?





Even when their entire day consisted of staying in the home and cooking and doing housework, these ladies always looked presentable, acted respectable, took pride in the appearance of their homes, and expected nothing less than that from those around them. ~~ Yes, we could all definitely take a lesson from Aunt Bea!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Whatsoever Things




This is just a little ramble of my own private thoughts. Take it for what you will. :)

I have a natural tendency (and I've shared this on my blog before) to want to hole up a bit in my own life and attempt to turn a deaf ear to all of the hurtful, evil and scary things this world has to offer. I don't want to look at the news to see who is killing who or who is sleeping with who or who is divorcing who. I don't want to see rubble from bombs or hear about debt ceilings. It is all just too much. When I was younger, it didn't bother me so much. But I think perhaps it's like a bucket you start filling with sand one grain at a time. At some point, your bucket will be full and about to overflow and then just one more grain of sand is all it takes for it to all start spilling out. My bucket got full and overflowed. And I am purposely trying to not let it refill.

But, on the other hand, I want to make sure that I do not give myself over to trying to stay out of the world's ills so much that I become self centered. I don't want to be blind to those around me that I can help with problems I can do something about. This life I am living is not all about me. At all. Our lives are to be about what we can do for others.

And so I try to hit a balance. A balance between staying away from and putting up walls against all the gratuitous drama of the world at large while staying open (through observance and prayer) to the opportunities the Father puts in front of me to step up and help or encourage others.

Sometimes I still give myself a bit of grief over the walls I put up to keep the world at bay because I fear that in doing so I will, at some point, become the self centered person I do not want to be. But this morning when I woke up, Philippians 4:8 came to my mind.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

I realized that there is nothing wrong with keeping out drama and violence that is there simply for the sake of drama and violence. There is no wrong doing there. As long as we are open to the opportunities placed before us to show God's love to those that need it, we are doing God's will while also filling our minds with the virtuous things He wants for us.

May God bless you as you attend to the quiet pleasures of your home! ~~**~~**~~**~~

Monday, July 18, 2011

Yogurt Bundt Cake



This cake was so simple to make and it came together very quickly. If a cake batter could ever be described as pretty, this one was. Very smooth and almost glossy ~ more so than other cake batters. The yogurt makes the cake bake up like a pudding cake ~ very moist. The top comes out with just a hint of crunch. I think it would be good to bake it with a crumb topping. Maybe I'll try that out in the future. I also think cinnamon would be a good addition. There is no need for any icing or even powdered sugar on this one. It stands alone on it's own just fine.


I did substitute white sugar for the brown sugar because I wanted it to be a light cake. And it was. Also, I didn't bake as long as recommended. In my oven it was ready at 37 minutes. And I know I had the temperature right because I had my oven thermometer inside the oven keeping track. :-)


This recipe is a keeper.


Yogurt Bundt Cake


*******************


1/2 C. butter, softened


1 C. brown sugar


1 tsp. vanilla


1 egg


2 C. all purpose flour


1 tsp. baking soda


1/2 tsp. baking powder


1 C. plain yogurt


Preheat oven to 375. Grease and flour a 9 inch bundt pan. Cream butter, brown sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in egg till smooth. Combine flour, baking soda and baking powder; stir in the batter alternately with the yogurt. Spread batter in the pan. Bake for 50 minutes until knife comes out clean.


I'm linking to the following blog parties:


Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays at Blessed with Grace


Tea Party Tuesday at Sweetology


Domestically Divine Tuesday Homemaking Link Up at Far Above Rubies


A Titus 2sday Link Up at Time Warp Wife

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Just popping in ~~

I'm just popping in for a brief moment. :) I was talking to my husband about the magazines that I wrote about in the post below and how I can no longer find them. So before I knew it, he had me look each one up online and I now have a subscription to each! No more trying to find them in a store only to be disappointed. I cannot wait until they arrive!

Today will be filled with puttering in the garden and kitchen, fixing new treats, and some time spent in the Word and with my stitching. I hope that everyone who reads here has a wonderful Saturday! May God bless you as you attend to the quiet pleasures of your home! ~~

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

*Why* are we doing this to ourselves?


I am a bit upset about something. I really enjoy picking up copies of Southern Lady magazine, Tea Time magazine, and Victoria magazine during the month, usually when doing the grocery shopping. These magazines are beautiful and wholesome. They give me ideas for decorating, new recipes to try, show me products for the home I would not otherwise know about and it is very relaxing to just sit with some tea and peruse their pages for a while.

I recently went into our local Wal-Mart to pick up my treasured periodicals. Usually, they are on a shelf surrounded by other magazines about cozy cottages, romantically styled homes and Victorian gardens. But this time, instead of all of these lovelies, my eyes were accosted by Cosmopolitan and others of it's ilk. Row after row of gaudy covers with scantily clad women and headlines blaring about things that a few generations ago would not have even been whispered about in closed company. At first I was hoping they had simply moved my choices to another spot. But no. They are gone. Completely.

Why have we become a people that would rather have...or even worse expect to see/have/purchase/partake of the baser things this world has to offer instead of things that are more refined and dignified? Now I realize that many would laugh at me for taking on the world's ills over the magazine selection at my local Wal-Mart, but is it not a result of the public's feelings, expectations, and preferences? Yes - it is, and quite frankly, the public at large is making some very grave errors for which we and the future generations will pay for dearly.

When your average woman (it is the women these magazines are geared towards after all) who is a wife or mother or teacher or whatever - would rather pick up a magazine with a sensuous woman on the front and one that is filled with articles talking about spending $200 on one dress and what a good deal that is and how to make their intimate relations more wild....well, when did we become that??? Because we can look back in history - not too far mind you - and see that we absolutely, positively were not that. How did we become this and why are we continuing to let it happen? Who looked at us and said that this was ok and please continue in this vein?

As women shouldn't we be concerned about being a dignified example for the next generation to follow? Are the women who feel the way that I do really that sorely out numbered? Because if we are, then may God help us. We are surely going to need it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Attention given to the small things





Do you know who Anthea Turner is? I discovered her quite by accident. She is from the other side of the pond and seems to be their version of Martha Stewart. There are a precious few videos of her on Youtube and I wanted to share this one with you. I love the method of folding towels that she shares in it and I have been folding my towels this way since I first saw this video. Granted, it takes a bit more time but the end result looks so nice. Making a house a home is a whole that is made up of many very small details. Everything right down to how you fold the towels.




I'm linking to the Domestically Divine Tuesday Link Up party at Far Above Rubies.

I'm also linking to A Titus 2sday Link Up at a Time Warp Wife. May God bless you as you attend to the quiet pleasures of your home! ~~~

Monday, July 11, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

It's time for Menu Plan Monday again ~ so here we go!

Monday ~ meatloaf fixed low carb style


Tuesday ~ shredded pork roast


Wednesday ~ teen meal at church, I'll be bringing a dessert & some turkey


Thursday ~ fresh roasted chicken (from chickens that we raised ourselves)


Friday ~ leftover night


Saturday ~ apple & sage pork chops


Sunday Dinner ~ garlic baked chicken


I'm linking to Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie. ~~

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Favorites Blog Party



I am participating in Happy to Design's "Sunday Favorites" blog party. It is a blog party where you share one of your favorite posts from the past. I have been enjoying the blog parties I have been in recently. They are such a good way to meet other bloggers. So ~~ I hope you enjoy my "Sunday Favorite!"


Maturity


I believe there is a decided lack of maturity in out culture. Where once a certain level of maturity was a thing to be admired and cultivated, it is now something that so many look at with scorn. Has anyone else noticed that a teenager who exhibits a proper level of maturity will more often than not be met with insults and degradation by most of their peers? This is so sad.

I am not necessarily speaking of age either. I have met very young men and women who were remarkably mature. By the same token, I have met older men and women who were so immature they really should have been ashamed of themselves, but were not.

So many details of our lives would run so much smoother if people would take seriously the matter of maturity. If they would strive to behave themselves in a civilized, mature manner. The reason this seems so far out of the grasp of most adults is truly beyond me.

Your level of maturity is evident in so many of our every day tasks. Let me give you some examples.

1. Being on time. When you have somewhere to go or someone to meet, are you perhaps 15 minutes early or are you the woman rushing through the door 15 minutes late in such a harried state that no one would dare take you seriously?

2. Speed limits. This one goes hand in hand with number one. When you have somewhere to be, do you plan your time such that you have plenty of driving time? Do you obey the speed limits? Or do you see them as mere guidelines? They are not guidelines. They are the law of the land. They should be treated as such.

3. Tone of voice. Yes. One's tone of voice is a very good indicator as to their level of maturity. Do small annoyances get under your skin so much that your volume starts going up? This is something that everyone should try very hard to overcome. The person that can go through a stressful situation with a normal tone of voice intact is showing a good level of maturity.

4. Details. Are the details of your life attended to? Things like bills filed into folders, junk mail disposed of (as opposed to piling up), all the behind the scenes work that needs to be done for your family in order for their needs to be met? Or are these things that get pushed to the back of your mind. Please, make no mistake that small daily details are very important! They make up the whole of our experience and without them nothing is accomplished. It takes a mature person to consistently attend to all the details that need attention. It is not something that can be done one day and then not thought about again for weeks on end. As a matter of fact, it is not something that should be put to the wayside even for one day! Chaos can truly take over in a days time.

These are just some examples, but I'm sure you could think of more that would be applicable to your own life. Please, feel free to share them in the comments section. We can all use inspiring ideas from others who are like minded!

Remember ladies, we are building the foundation for our children and their children as well. If we are not mature enough to do a quality job of it, how sad for them! Children deserve mature parents. They deserve to be raised in a home where a mature mother and father are consistently taking care of the day's details. So much of who your children will be depends on your maturity level. Please, don't ever forget that.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Time for a spot of tea

I wish I could share a picture with you (my camera reader is misplaced for the time being.) If I could share a picture, I would show you the pretty black and toile teapot that I currently have filled with Cinnamon Hibiscus tea. If you have never tried a hibiscus flavored beverage, you really should. I was skeptical the first time I tried it, but was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Now when I find something with that flavor in it, like my tea, I snatch it up!



So since I can't share my own pictures with you, I'm going to share a link and some lovelies from that link. Today I came across the Annie's Tea Time website. If you love teapots or teacups and everything that go along with them, you will love this store.

One thing I found that I really liked was this little pouch to carry teabags and sweeteners in. If you are a tea drinker, there will usually be times that you want to take a tea bag or two with you and this little pouch is perfect for that. It even has individual pockets inside for tea bags and sweeteners.
And then there were their tea cozy selection. They have almost five pages to choose from. I'm rather partial to this one myself.
Well, I'm off for now to finish my tea. May God bless you as you attend to the quiet pleasures of your home. ~~~~~

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sacred Work in our Holy Home ~ a repost



For today's post I would like to send you to my very first post here at The Quiet Pleasures of Home. It is a good reminder for us all ~ most definitely myself included. Please click on the link.

May God bless you as you attend to the quiet pleasures of your home! ~~~

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tea Party Tuesday









I have a secret. A very sweet secret. You know the Little Debbie's Oatmeal Cream Pie cookies? I know how to make them. They are oh - so - good.


I don't even remember now where I found this recipe. But they taste just like the Little Debbie's but better because they will be fresher. They can be wrapped individually for a bake sale, taken on a picnic or tailgate and are equally at home set upon a pretty platter for a tea party.

Oatmeal Cream Pie Cookies
1 C butter
3/4 C light brown sugar
1/2 C sugar
1 Tbls molasses
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 C flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 C quick oatmeal
14 oz. marshmallow cream
1 C shortening
2/3 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Cream the first six ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Add to your creamed ingredients and stir in the oatmeal. Place tablespoon size drops of dough on an ungreased cookie sheet, leaving lot of room for spreading. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350*. You want them just brown along the edges and still soft. Do not over bake.

For filling:
(I always double this amount.) Mix marshmallow cream, shortening, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Spread on the underside of one cookie and top with another.

There you have it. If you try these, I promise you will not be disappointed.

~~~ Blog Parties ~~ I'm linking to Tea Party Tuesday at Sweetology and Domestically Divine Tuesday Homemaking Link up at Far Above Rubies~~~

Monday, July 4, 2011

Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups



I have a recipe for homemade chocolate peanut butter cups that taste very close to Reese's. My daughter is a Reese's connoisseur and these make the grade with her, so I know they are good!

I made a large platter of them yesterday for a church function. They got rave reviews and I came home with an empty platter. (I'm proud to say I didn't eat any of them ~ yay me!) I may have to make these a staple in my arsenal of recipes for our many church dinners.



So without further ado, here is the wonderful recipe. ~~~


Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups




1 Cup butter, melted



2 Cups graham crackers, crushed



2 Cups confectioner's sugar



1 Cup peanut butter



1 1/2 Cups semi-sweet chocolate chips



4 Tbls. peanut butter



Line muffin tins with paper liners and spray with cooking spray. Mix together butter, graham crackers, confectioner's sugar, and 1 Cup of peanut butter. Press about 1 1/2 Tbls. of the mixture into the bottom of the paper liners. Melt the chocolate chips and 4 Tbls. of peanut butter in a double boiler. Spoon over the filling and smooth with the back of a spoon. Put in the refrigerator to set and keep cool during storage.




Menu Plan Monday



For my menus this week I'm simply going to post the main dish as I usually figure out the sides each day. I'm also currently on a high protein/low carb way of eating, so I'm rather focused on the meats right now. :)


Monday ~ Grilled brats


Tuesday ~ Meatloaf


Wednesday ~ Baked chicken




Friday ~ Pizza for the family, pizza fillings for me


Saturday ~ Leftover night


Sunday ~ Pot roast


Mistakes made & lessons learned




Well, I suppose it is time to update my little blog here. We have been so busy around here. I knew when summer started that it would be busy, but I greatly underestimated just how much! I must admit, I have gotten myself in over my head. Small livestock is a wonderful thing to have but I think I got a bit over eager and crossed a line. I discovered that I was spending so much time outside tending to things that my time inside to tend to things was suffering. I thought about it over the course of a few weeks to decide what I wanted to do. I wanted to make sure whatever decision I made would be the right one. Finally, I felt like I had it all straightened out in my mind so I asked my husband to sit down to talk to me for a while. I admitted to him that I felt like I had made some mistakes and that I wanted to pull back a bit and refocus myself. He asked me how I wanted to do that and I told him that the first thing I felt that needed to be done was to get rid of the majority of our chickens. Not all of them ~ I would still like a few so we could have fresh eggs ~ but the largest majority of them needed to go.




In truth, the largest majority of them are meat birds anyway, so it's obvious where they are going. So we went ahead and made an appointment at a facility here in our town that will dispatch and prepare your chickens for your freezer. That will be done next Monday. Then I turned to our large flock of Rhode Island Reds. They are good, established layers so I did not want to send them with the others. I thought of a friend of mine who has a farm so I called her and asked if she would be interested in them. As luck would have it, the number of her flock recently went down due to losing some and she was tickled pink at the offer. They went to live with her last night. They will get to free range the rest of their days and will be as happy as can be.




That leaves me with what we decided to keep. We have one Rhode Island Red who lives in her own little hutch. She's much smaller than other chickens and has some health issues so they pick on her which is why we keep her separated. She is very tame and sweet and has actually turned herself into somewhat of a pet, lol. Then there is one Dominique. We kept this one because it is more of a rare breed and it belongs to our son and he is very partial to it. There is also one Easter Egger and one White Rock. So four total and only three living together in the coop/run area. We put them in there is morning and they looked quite pleased with their surroundings.




I must say, I am quite pleased as well. It wasn't easy to admit I had made such a big mistake that ended up being quite an issue in regards to where my time and energy was spent. But now that everything has been figured out and I can see how I can now refocus on more important things ~ I am so happy! Live and learn as they say...and I certainly have!