Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Birthday Party Fun

I know it has been a long dry spell from me.  I have been quite busy, but not particularly inspired.  

 We have recently been working on a "significant" birthday party for my mom.  She is a special lady who is adored by her family and who really doesn't like to celebrate her birthday that much....she even told me a couple weeks ago......."don't going planning a party for me, I don't want you to do that."   I told her it was too late and it would be fun and nice..... afterwards she would look back and think it was pretty special, that was the last I heard about that!

 Cupcakes were the theme of the day.  We have a wonderful bakery in our area called Scratch Bakery, that makes all these flavored cupcakes to die for.  Oh, they are temptations of biblical proportions.  I picked 8 varieties, so we had lots to choose from.

We have been cleaning the out-buildings on the farm this fall and have hauled away piles of junk, and have cut up a lot of scrap wood for the fireplace.  In all of this we have found some very old boards that are very wide and weathered and wonderful.  So I picked one that was a good length for my dining room table, which is very large.....it seats 14 handily.  I wanted it raised up a little bit,  so the Silver Fox, cut 2 pieces of wood to make little legs and he attached them with some brass hinges we had around here, so it is a little easier to store.  It looks very rustic and primitive, but very "glammed" up with the vintage linens and crystal.

I added layers of linens from my Grandma's, some silver Christmas decorations of various shapes and sizes, some silk poinsettias blossoms and included a bunch of tea lights from the dollar store, that run on some sort of battery.  Love these things...3 for a buck.  They were still going when the party was over.  I will keep these around in my supply drawer.  I may watch for some more fancy, clear votive holders, when I am out and about junking.

Just look at those cupcakes.....

These are machine embroidered cupcake pockets.....been doing 25 of these over the past 2-3 weeks.  They have a pocket on the back to put your napkin and silverware in.  I had bought plastic silverware and paper plates, but decided to use my china & silver for the meal, and then we used the paper and plastic for the cake and ice cream.  They turned out so darn cute and now I have them to use for other birthdays.  I got several designs for different holidays and special occasions.....check them out at emblibrary 

 In any entertaining inspiration photos, you seeing banners and lots of them.  I would have liked to do a 3rd one...I like 3 of anything....but I didn't have a simple way of hanging a third one and I really had only 2 ideas....so there you go.  I had found this wonderful classic lettering and saved the entire set to my computer for future use..... hung them with mini clothespins and backed them with black, so that I could use these letters and add to them to say other messages for another time. You might want to take a look at them....

The other banner is made with doilies and vintage hankies.  My mother taught school for several years and I have her collection of hankies.  She would get them from students as gifts.....makes for a nice look.

Here are some pictures of mom's parents, doll chair of my mom's....years ago I made counted cross stitch Christmas ornaments with family members names, so I included them by their pictures.

One of my favorite things to do for a special occasion of late, is to do a photo book from Shutterfly.  There are other places to get them, that is just the one I use.  Mom's book is on the far right in the stand.....I like the 8x8" size, but that is just my preference.....they are fun to do and look so professional.

I didn't have a plan to do a quilt for mom, but this little online class came into my email box a few weeks ago.  It was a perfect size project and I liked the idea of the wire frame to hang it in.  It has a lot of techniques and embellishments, which is just down my alley and I learned how to do a couple new things...it was a very fun project.  Fabric Fabrications is a free class, but you do need to make an account.  Check it out!

More pictures, under glass....another thing I like about my sideboard.  I change this stuff all the time and then you can place food or drink on there without ruining your things.  Sorry about the glare, I could not get a clear shot.

Mom and Dad looking everything over before everyone arrived.
Happy Birthday, Mom!
I love you always!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Iowa State Fair

 We so enjoy the Iowa State Fair....it doesn't always work for us to go every year.  But we always have a great time when we do go.  This year the weather was spectacular.....73....sunny.....balmy breeze.  If you have never been to the fair in Iowa...... you have missed a great experience.  I know it is rated one of the best in the USA, with good reason.

Looking down at some of the judged garden produce in the agriculture building.  

Hard boiled eggs on a stick........Egg Council booth were handing these out by the hundreds!!!!
Little Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts.....a fair favorite......these little suckers are  yummy!

The very famous butter cow, an Iowa State Fair tradition....people wait in line to see this up close.

We shared the day with a couple hundred thousand of our closest friends!!!

A chocolate moose was new this year....he is huge!!!!
The Silver Fox enjoying his ice cream cone.

The award winning pumpkin....933 pounds.  The farmers had to work harder to grow these this year with the lack of rain.

A bald eagle nest ......I always forget how big these things really are....not something you can see usually up close.
The Silver Fox always enjoys checking out the new John Deere's.  He is showing the part he used to machine when he worked at the Waterloo Tractor Works many years ago.

This model was priced about $230,000.  Unbelievable!!!  The bigger ones shown were $320,000.
They were judging horses that evening...... so amazing all decked out.
The tack, horses, wagons and riders are ALL gleaming!!!!

Lined up in the barns getting them ready to show.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cousin's Camp

Writer's Note:  I seem to have highlighted text where I have copied and pasted and moved some things....don't know why that is and I can't seem to get rid of it.  This kind of stuff drives me nuts!!!  Sorry for the look of that, I would it prefer it NOT be there.    SRL

The Silver Fox and I just survived another year of Cousin's Camp with the grateful help of several of our girls.  I would love to be able to do this ourselves, but it really does make a difference to have extra hands and eyes when we have the "Lesh Mob" to patrol......all 14 of them this year (14 of 15).  It is 48 hours over 3 days of CRAZY!!!

One of the biggest parts of Cousin's Camp around here is the camp gear I do for them each year.  It varies some, but usually includes a personalized bag, a name badge, hat, and cup or glass with a LID.

This year I also included machine embroidered t-shirts....I really didn't do that good of job with a theme...the girl's shirts were hot pink and the boys were gray.  Most of the time I am looking for bargains, as I have to have 14 of everything....at least this year....next year will be 15.  Here is the badge I did for them using digital scrapbooking supplies and photoshop.....they turned out well except I should have made the "sunkissed" brush a little smaller...it got lost on the edge of the button.

These buttons are easy to make and because my mother loves such tools (and I am my mother's daughter), as she taught school, Sunday School, and VBS for years.....she had a whole box of supplies and the press to pass on to me....wonderful!!!  You can get your own at badgeaminit    I don't believe it is that costly for the supplies.

I found some crazy star sunglasses and some leather bracelets kits.....which I ended up doing for them because they were too difficult.  I left a couple of them undone....just to let the older three kids give it a whirl.  Gabe our oldest and a puzzle wizard was able to figure it out.  It took me quite a while to do the first one, but after that one, it went much better.  The kids thought they were very cool.
I ended up buying a better canvas bag, so I didn't let them decorate them.  But instead did a nice machine embroidered name on each one...BTW....no stabilizer to do this and I did hoop the bags in my Do It All Hoop and they stitched out beautifully.  I encourage the kids to keep their "special things" and crafts in their bags....so as not to lose them and ask Mommo.... "Where is my ?????  This is a great idea in theory, but practically speaking with 14 of them, they can't seem to be bothered to put their stuff away.  But the orderly Mommo in me keeps on trying.

My meals are very basic and easy....one was grilled hot dogs, individual bags of chips (I get a huge variety of them in a tray at Sam's Club), mini carrots and grapes clusters, with Corn Flake Cookies for dessert.  My mom made these while I was growing up and I have always loved them.  My girls wanted this recipe after Cousin's Camp....they thought they were so good.

 Corn Flake Cookie

1 c. shortening
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 t. soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1 c. coconut
2 c. oatmeal
2 c. cornflakes
1/2 c. chopped nuts

opt. 1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate bits
Cream shortening and add sugars, then eggs and vanilla.  Then add all the dry ingredients and mix.
Stir in coconut, oatmeal, cornflakes and chocolate chips.

I always add chocolate chips and never add the nuts, because I have kids that don't like nuts.  They never comment on the coconut,  so I don't think they know it is in there.

I always use parchment paper and two cookie sheets when I bake cookies.  Then I never have to wash the pans and I slide the cookies off the pan when they are done baking.

 While one pan in baking, I prepare the next pan.  I also use a small ice cream scoop to spoon out the dough onto the pan, they are all the same size and just flatten them slightly with my hand.

Bake 350 for 11 minutes.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day 2012

The other day we took a day tour with my parents, so dad could show us all the places where his family lived. We spent all of our time in Tama County, around Traer, Clutier, Vining and Dysart.

We stopped in to see his Uncle Ernie in Traer.....we knew he could tell us all the places Grandma Weaver had lived in Traer.  And she lived in a lot of houses and moved often.  If she could make some money by selling and moving, she would do it.  Ernie is the last remaining sibling of the Weaver family and he is a wealth of information and remembers it all, in his 97th year.  He is a treasure to talk to and reminds me so of his sister, my Grandma K.....Dad's mom.  We had lots of questions and he had ready answers for most of them.

We spent quite a bit of time in various country cemeteries....places I had never been.  This stone is written in Czech.  My dad's Grandma Weaver came to the US when she was 3 years old from Czechoslovakia.......her parents are buried in this cemetery.  Dad remembers staying with Grandpa Peter and Grandma Rose Weaver one time and they were talking and soon the tone of the conversation changed and they started scrabbling in Czech....and he knew something was not right......there was a problem.  :)  But he never knew what it was.  

 This cemetery is outside of Vining.....which is a spot in the road....Dad and Mom looking for the right markers. 

Happy Father's Day, Dad.  Thanks for the great day the other day.  I learned several things I did not know.  Thank you for your love and support over the years and your willingness to always help when I need it.  You are dear to me!!!

I love you always,

Your Daughter

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Party Time Chapter III

Chips and Salsa......

It's a staple around here.

I don't make this for every gathering around here, just almost everytime.  :)

My son-in-law's LOVE this stuff.

I've seen them practically drink it.

 I make this version during most of the year when I don't have my own fresh tomatoes.

1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 can Rotel tomatoes, drained
3 green onions
1 clove garlic
1/2 lime
hand full of cilantro
salt & pepper
food processor

Rough chop the green onions

This if how I peel my garlic......great little gadget....it is a rubber type mat and you wrap it around the clove and roll it back and forth on the counter a couple times and whaala......

rough chop 

Add everything to the bowl of the food processor.....it looks and smells yummy already.

Essential kitchen tool in my book.....I bought this probably 30+ years ago at Donaldson's.....that ought to take you back.  This is one of those tools spend the money and get the best quality and it will last you for years.

 I pulse it 5-6 times maybe till it is evenly chopped and looks like this.  Oh I wish you could smell it.....heavenly.

Isn't this a fun little dish, you can't buy one of these, because I made it several years ago at a ceramic shop.  The place where you paint your piece and then they fire it for you.  I know a family that used to go to a place like that for birthday partys, even for the adults and they would make fun unique pieces to use in their homes, or make tiles for their kitchens.....very fun.

Take the 1/2 of lime and juice it .....then add it to the rest of the ingredients in your bowl.

Add salt and pepper to taste and stir.

I usually make it a couple hours before we eat it, just to let the flavors blend.  But you can eat it right away too.  I serve them with any scoop type chip that you like.

I bet you can't eat just one bite!!!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Party Time Chapter II

I have made a lot of these dinner rolls in the past 6 months.  And the last two weekends were no exception.  
They really do taste even better than they look......yum, yum.

For the last several parties I have thrown, I make these tasty little suckers and have several kinds of sliced meats and cheeses and butter to tuck in.  To make them even better, my guests can heat it up in the micro for about 10 seconds.....just like out of the oven.  I am not suppose to eat these darn things, but face it, these things make me weak and I usually have one just to make sure they are OK for guests.  :0

This pic was from the Silver Fox's graduation party after completing his RN degree.  Can you tell I used to sell Longaberger products and I still enjoy using them?  The large tray with the meat and cheese has a really nice plastic liner and I like to decorate under the liner as the food disappears....it still looks nice.  Also for a "tablecloth"  I had saved a poster that Jeff had done for one of his classes and it was huge, so made a nice backdrop on the table.

It you already have the Better Homes & Garden Cookbook, you don't need to write this down, you already have it.....under Bread....Yeast Rolls...Basic Roll Dough...although I have changed the original slightly because I mix it in the bread machine....my secret weapon.  

Basic Roll Dough

1 pkg. dry yeast
1 1/4 cup milk, scalded
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 butter
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cup flour

In a perfect world, your egg and butter should not be cold, but frankly I never do that.  And you will also need to pay attention to your bread machines preferences and adjust accordingly.

My bread machine requires you put in the yeast in the bottom and then the rest of the dry ingredients, liquid last.

Over the dry ingredients in the bread machine, I add the egg right from the shell  (I don't stir it ahead) and take a knife and cut up the butter into small pieces to add.   I heat up the milk in the microwave using a glass measuring cup.... heat for 1 minute, then stir and then 30 seconds more.  Then pour the hot milk over the top.

I set my machine to mix a sweet dough and a manual setting, so it is just mixing the dough and not going into a baking cycle.....that would not be good.  :(

I do watch it when I first turn it on, to scrap down the sides one time on the bowl and also to see if I need to add more liquid or flour.  I have found I like the dough to look soft, so it pretty much makes into a ball, but not quite in the bottom of the bowl near the paddle.  Then I let it do it's thing, which for my machine takes about an hour.

Then I remove the dough and divide in half and with each half I make 12 rolls, but you can make many different shapes if you choose to.  I place the dough in my hand and roll them into a ball.  I don't even grease my hands....the dough is just beautiful....then place the shaped rolls into a greased pie pans....I like heavy glass or stoneware pie plates.

I cover them with a clean dish cloth and let them rise...probably about an hour..until double.

I bake them at 350 for about 15 minutes until they are golden brown.  Then I take a cut stick of butter and rub the tops of them with butter right out of the oven.

Now obviously they are best right out of the oven to eat, but when doing a party or holiday....I make them ahead and after they are cooled....put them in a ziplock bag and stack them in the freezer.  I thaw them on the counter and you can warm them in the micro or if you are lucky enough to have a warming drawer oven, that would be perfect.

I use this same recipe to make pecan rolls or cinnamon rolls.  After taking the dough out of the bread machine....divide the dough in half.

Throw down some bench flour on your counter and with a rolling pin roll out the dough into a rectangular shape.  Spread the dough with generous amount of softened butter, then sprinkle with cinnamon and white sugar.  I don't measure.....just not skimpy with amounts, can include crushed pecans if you like.  Then starting along one of the long edges roll up the dough along the long side.

Prepare your pans....again I use glass or stoneware pie plates.....grease the pan with butter, then chunk up bits of butter and scatter over the bottom of the pan, sprinkle brown sugar next....maybe 1/4 to 1/3 cup.  Again I don't measure, then if you like pecans add pecan half's next.

Divide your roll up dough into approximately 12-1" pieces and arrange in prepared pans....You will repeat this process for both pans or if you are doing this for just your family.  You can make a pan of each, one plain buns and one pan of pecan rolls.  This is what my family did.  I had both of these probably most every Sunday of my life when I was a kid.  My Grandma Thedens made these and pie every Saturday and Sunday AM for Sunday dinner.

Set aside and cover with a cloth and allow to rise until double and bake the same as listed above.

When you remove these from the oven find a plate that is larger around than your pie plate and lay the plate on top of your baked cinnamon rolls and with potholders invert the rolls onto the plate and scrap any remaining caramelized syrup onto your rolls and let cool....if you can stay out of them that long.

My oldest grandson, who will be 16.....I can hardly wrap my brain around that this fall.....  came up to me after one of these shingdigs and said... "Mommo, do you have any of these rolls left over that I could take home and I did have extra.... so sent him home with a dozen of them......don't know if any of the rest of the family ever saw them.....I doubt it.

The grandkids run by the basket of rolls and grab one and don't even butter them sometimes....they eat and run....cause they have so much playing to do here while the cousins are together.  :)