Tuesday, November 30, 2010

'Tis The Season: Decking the Railing + COOKBOOK WINNER

There's nothing like fresh green roping and packages of vintage-style Christmas lights to motivate a person (me) to decorate the porch. The porch looked cold and naked, actually quite lonely-- after the fall stuff was put away.

I let it sit that way for a few days to get ready for the greening...then I took a broom and swept the last hardy hangers-on spider webs away.

Last year I stocked up on my favorite bulb: the C-7, when they were 50% off, making using a new string cheaper than buying replacement bulbs for an old string. (I then take the old strings and use the working ones of those bulbs for replacements.)

So...armed with scissors, something to step up on, and my trusty green twine, I went out in my sweatshirt and jeans and got some Christmas on.

Of all the smells in the live roping, I do think cedar is the very best smell, and with it brings back all sorts of memories of Christmases past: altogether pleasant, the smell of fresh, of winter.

It just can't be duplicated!

Neither can man make a roping that duplicates the way this live roping will hang from the railing. That's why I go the extra for this. It's worth it.

Are you Christmas-ing up your place yet?

We are going much simpler this year...but some things I will always do, and one is dress up the porch railing.

And now, on to the business of the day.

Winner of the COOKBOOK CONTEST IS...........

CAROL from the blog "Our Sears Kit Home"...you should go check it out sometime! They are restoring a beautiful home put together from a Sears kit so long ago. I love learning about these wonderfully crafted homes and Carol's home is a real beauty!

Congratulations, Carol! Now, just email me your address so I can mail you your new Amish Cookbook (oldcentennialfarmhouse@gmail.com) and you'll have it in time for Christmas baking!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Is It Monday Again? A Practical Use for A Thrifty Find...

Well, it is indeed Monday again. A brand, spankin' new week. We've turned the corner to Christmas; and at this house we've started, just barely-- with those preparations.

Today, I thought I'd show you a practical use for some thrifty finds...

Our find?

Old enamelware lids for vintage pots.

Now, what did I want with a pile of enamelware lids, with no pots to match? Only one dollar bought the bunch.

Why am I such a sucker for a bunch? Eh, it must be the hoarder in me.

Admit it, you've got it, too.

Well, they were nice colors, white with blue trim; some white with red. Both colors I have sprinkled liberally throughout the house. So they would be usable. For something. (All hoarders tell themselves this!)

Actually, there's more to this story. These were an on-going estate sale find...and when I bought these, I asked the nice lady "Where are the pots?" She said to check back, the sale would go on for several weekends.

The family was cleaning out mom's house and some of the stuff they had was amazing, but they were putting it out gradually, as they cleaned.

Since the sale was right off our road, and on the way to all points necessary in my life...I was hoping that the next weekend when I went back, that the pots would have been found and put out for sale. I went back twice more and the pots were never found.

( I really love old enamelware pots and use them all over the place. especially on the farmhouse porch to hold flowers and plants.)


My little pot lids never met their match again.

What to do?


Do you all use trash cans in the main living areas of your home?

Well, I do, I figure the more trash receptacles placed around, the more the people that live here will choose to use them. (Most of the time, it's true.)

But sometimes, trash cans are just plain ugliness. I can't see a modern-day plastic trash can sitting in the dining room, can you?


This old crock just works and looks better...

So, around here, I use old crocks wherever I can for trash cans, especially in the main living areas of the old farmhouse and areas where the trash can is impossible to hide.

They just look better and stay put nicer than anything a person can buy these days. I stick little felt rounds to the bottoms of them so the roughness of the pottery won't scratch the wood floors and we're set to go.

And since we have pets, the trash receptacles can be accessible to the little stinkers, and sometimes that can cause trouble and messes.

One day a light bulb came on in my head and I thought, why not use the larger-sized lids to block off my trash containers to the pets?

(Yes, there is a light bulb in my head, and no, it's NOT a CFL! Which reminds me, are you remembering to hoard your favorite kind of light bulbs? I am and am building up a good inventory. This is justifiable hoarding, in my view. Until the light bulb police show up and pat my house down for the contraband, I'm all into the Edison sort of light bulb.)

So, the crocks work, and I kind of like it, and am going to be on the lookout for more "trash can sized" little crocks for other rooms in our home, because this lid idea really looks kind of nice, in a farm-housey sort of way.

(Spell check does NOT like the word farm-housey...but that's another case of "what do they know, anyway...".)

I also had a couple little bitty ones from the pile, that I imagine were paired with small saucepans...and one went to work as a paper-weight in my desk area. It's kind of cute, and lifting a pot lid comes as naturally to me as...well, nearly anything, and now I'm putting a lid on my bills while they wait to get paid. Heh.

Now, I did not post this so that you would go on a frantic search for odd vintage enamelware pot lids...heavens no!

I only posted this so that you could or would begin to look at the odd vintage things laying about (usually I spend a dollar or less on these odd things...it's a fun rule I made for myself) in a new and different way...so many of you, I know, are already so good at that.

I do find that if I have the odd, seemingly useless item laying within reach for a couple days, I can usually find a place to use it. And, if I find myself not touching it for weeks, then it's usually tossed or given away.

I was just kidding about the hoarding (I think!).

Sunday, November 28, 2010


(Taken by Jamie out west last summer...)

And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him…And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. (Luke 2:40, 52)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Day After....!

Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful! (Leftovers are one of the best parts of cooking Thanksgiving dinner, right? Yum! Pie for breakfast on Friday is another one of the sweetest things about making all that good food!)

There is still time to enter the drawing for the AMISH COOKING cookbook. I will draw late Monday night so keep submitting your entries HERE!

Oh, and are you a "Black Friday Shopper"?

"Not I", said this little red hen. Been there, tried that, the only fun part was having lunch with friends. Some people just LOVE it and it's as much fun to them as opening day of deer season is for men. ;-)

The rest of the madness wasn't really worth the hassle and I didn't want to associate ladies getting into fights at Wal-Mart with Christmas....yuck.

I'm not so sure that internet shopping wasn't made just for me. I will be looking around for some goodies online today, that's more my style.

As for me, today I will take down all things fall on the outside and inside of the house and try to start getting Christmas decorating underway. I'm one of those holdouts that won't let Christmas decorating start until Thanksgiving is over.

There is the first snow of the season in the forecast for Friday, so that will help me set the mood with the Christmas decorating! The winds are howling and it's coming! Here's an easy and fast soup for that leftover turkey...it's a warm and filling one.

And just because I KNOW your mouth is watering, here is a link to these easy cinnamon rolls!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanks + Giving! A COOKBOOK Giveaway for You!

'Tis the Season! This is one of the best holidays, because thankful is all you really need to be.


Well, that and being able to cook! Heh.

Oh, wait...make that cook and eat.

Thankfulness, cooking and eating: the pilgrims knew what was important!

And you, like me, are probably insanely busy this week!

Which means, this is a perfect time for a GIVEAWAY ON MY BLOG!!

I have a plain and simple, shiny new hardcover AMISH COOKBOOK to give away to one of you, my blog readers, whom I am very thankful for!

The binding is made so that it lays open nicely...which I love.

I know it will come in handy for your Christmas baking, the Amish can bake and many of their recipes are for a crowd. I bought this at a tiny Amish store up north in a small town where a bunch of my extended family lives.

I love visiting the store (lit with gas lanterns and skylights!) and browsing through their choices of cookbooks, this one was the very best.

From "AMISH COOKING", you will enjoy new recipes for things like Angel Gingerbread and Burnt Sugar or SHOOFLY cake! All intriguing, right?

In addition to hundreds of just plain good recipes, (even a section on using leftovers!) there are sections on breads, drinks for a crowd (in case you have a barn raising!) ice cream, homemade candies, canning and preserving, the garden, child care, sewing, poems and inspiration!

They've packed a lot into this little hardcover book. I like that there are plenty of spaces in the margins for us to make notes in...which I tend to do!

And in my usual fashion, I don't have a lot of strings attached to my giveaways, I just ask that you make sure if you enter, that I have your email address to contact you if you win!

All I'm asking that you leave five things in your comment that you are thankful for.

Simple, right?

I will draw for the winner on Monday of next week, which is November 29!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

AND... here's to LEFTOVERS!
(One of the best parts of cooking for Thanksgiving!)


Pssst! DON'T FORGET to leave your email address! ;-)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

SCENIC SUNDAYS: Rays of Sunshine

There is Sunshine in My Soul
  1. There is sunshine in my soul today,
    More glorious and bright
    Than glows in any earthly sky,
    For Jesus is my light.
    • O there's sunshine, blessed sunshine,
      While the peaceful, happy moments roll;
      When Jesus shows His smiling face
      There is sunshine in my soul.
  2. There is music in my soul today,
    A carol to my King;
    And Jesus, listening, can hear
    The song I cannot sing.
  3. There is springtime in my soul today,
    For when the Lord is near
    The dove of peace sings in my heart,
    The flowers of grace appear.
  4. There is gladness in my soul today,
    And hope, and praise, and love,
    For blessings which He gives me now,
    For joys laid up above.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Clouds on the Horizon

I have kids that I want to see do better than we did.

Lately, the news seems to point in the direction opposite of where I came.

I see clouds all around me.

Sometimes, east seems west, and north seems south.

Right seems wrong, and evil is praised as good.

It is the result of walking too long in the darkness.

All perspective seems lost.

I reach out, grope, fight and feel for the way back.

In the back of my throat I swallow away, again, that huge lump of dread that our country has seen its best days, and the direction we are heading is away from the magnet that was carefully put on our compass by the men who first envisioned a free nation and then figured out our conception, and writhed through the birthing process and brought forth something miraculous, and only lived long enough to watch the first teeth cut...

As the ones put in charge of this precious offspring of the founding fathers, are we willing to waste their labor and their delivery --to us-- of the best country in the world, the best that has ever been known, or perhaps, ever will be again?

Are we hardy enough --still-- to take the hard road back to the one that our birth fathers and mothers have paved for us?

Because the really hard work is still yet to come.

We have to pray, persistently, on our knees, for this country.

There is a lack of leadership, and where there is a vacuum, it will be filled. We are waiting to be pounced upon by the wolves of the world, they are out there, with their teeth bared, patiently watching us, sensing the weakness.

All around me I see the beginnings of anarchy, and the lawlessness on behalf of the leaders is spilling over and multiplying in our home states and the cities that surround us. It's scary to contemplate where we are heading, and where we could be in two years...if that won't make us moms pray, I don't know what could.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Little Lessons from the Back Roads

It's Friday! Another week has flown by!

Christmas is in the back of my mind...more and more lately. The local station has begun its Christmas music and that always lights a fire under me, making me realize how close it's becoming.

I've been asking the kids for lists, and I've been thinking about what I'm giving this year. There are a few things that are can't miss: Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift cards; iTunes gift cards, Burt's Bees products (oh, yes!), and food and other goodies made from your own kitchen--they always seem to be a hit with friends and neighbors, co-workers and extended family. (I have bought red and white gingham jar lids this year just to make my apple pie filling look more festive when I give it.)

I usually like to get Thanksgiving done without preparing for Christmas...I think Thanksgiving deserves to stand on its own, so there it is--I just get lists made and plans in my head and wait until the turkey's put away.

Well, today my major goal is to dust the furniture throughout the house, and girls let me tell you, it's my most-loathed chore, I'd much rather clean toilets, wash windows, clean the oven, even. Can you believe it?

So how about you? Do you enjoy or loathe the dusting!?

What is your least favorite household chore?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sweet & Random

I walked this morning: it's COLD and I am thinking we'll have snow falling soon. I heard a Christmas song on the radio today so it's time to get the mood building for Christmas decorating. I need to get started soon but it's hard to get in the mood with sunshine and mild weather, for me anyway!

(The pictures in this post are just plain sweet and have nothing whatsoever to do with my writing. The picture of the long-gone coconut cream pie that I made, above, is actually quite gorgeous, if I do say so myself. The pictures that follow, are even MORE sweet, and even MORE gorgeous!)

I shot myself in the foot today. Oh, no, not literally. Figuratively!

Here's how: I walked for an hour, and then stopped at our little local bakery and bought a fresh raspberry scone the size of a bear paw. It was QUITE good.

I am also getting shorn today. Literally, not figuratively.

My hair is wild, curly and unruly. Now that it's grey and white underneath, even MORE so! When it gets too long, I feel like a sheep who needs to get all those curls lopped off.

When it goes over that line of needing to be cut and it has to wait a week or more for the appointment, it drives me insaaaaaane! So in a little while here, I'm leaving to go lose some of the wildness that tops my head. Hallelujah! There'll be no bleating here!

(I told you things would get sweeter! ;-)

I am needing to get things in order for Thanksgiving. It snuck up on me this year. First clean, decorate just a little for it, and then bake. The menu stays pretty much the same, so that's a no-brainer.

(This foot was made for eatin'!)

How boring am I? I am all excited to be going to a local craft show with two of my friends this weekend. I'm hoping they want to leave the craft show early and head to the antique mall, too. I am excited because I get to see to gals that I don't see that often and I miss them: the crafts don't excite me much at all, wandering around browsing with my friends--that does...

I hope your day goes well....I need to go so I'm not late to my appointment....baaa!

Birthday Breakfast @ The French Laundry

(All blog photos today brought to you by my little iPhone...not bad for no flash and no manual focus!)

Yesterday was my little sister's birthday...so off we went -- out to celebrate in the morning --it's as good a time as any, right?

We went to a tiny little gem of a restaurant called "The French Laundry" in a small town about an hour from here. (Here's a link to their blog.) Getting there is half the fun, I always take the back roads and enjoy the countryside.

The closer we get, the more lakes we see....and in town are many, many beautiful old homes and historic structures everywhere you look.

The little place started out as a sandwich/bagel shoppe, and the owner expanded and added on as his business grew and the new building is just as cute and quirky as the old!

Cute: mismatched tables and chairs, all vintage.
mismatched coffee cups and dishes
mismatched bar stools
fresh dahlias on all the tables in various odd bottles used for vases

Quirky: Delicious menu with the most odd dish titles such as:
"Chicks love pale, skinny guys"
"Leah's new job"
"The Downriver"
Sandwiches are called "Would-be Prom Queens"
my favorite sandwich titles?
"He Ain't Heavy..."
"The Floydian Slip"
"The Peeping Chicken"
"I Don't Need No Cell Phone"
"Stop Twittering"

Loved, loved, loved it all....lots of smiles, snickers, and chuckles.

(I ask you, isn't Katie the cutest?)

Katie passed on "Ron and Deb's Weekender" and instead ordered "Norma & Floyd's Corned Beef Hash" ....

(Smile, you're looking at a dahlia!)

And covering the freshly-made corned beef hash was a blanket of eggs to keep it all hot and was served with baguette.

I passed on the breakfast called Nancy's California Proposal. Instead, mine was breakfast pizza with a twist: scrambled eggs with green pepper, red onion, mushrooms, sausage, apple wood smoked bacon, Grafton Vermont cheddar, as well as tomatoes on a very flavorful pizza crust.

(Oh. My. All of this was just too yummy....we sounded like happy California cows as we ooooohmmed and aaaaahmmed over each bite. I swear the mushrooms and the rest of the veggies had been marinated in some sort of wine or infused vinegars before they were used in the eggs, each bite was so fresh and bursting with flavor!)

The birthday girl considered "Farewell Rudy, hello Rhodella" but had a quiche (of the day) that was purely out of this world....I cannot tell you how delicious this was! We shared our entrees with each other as we like to do when trying a new place.

The crust was melt in your mouth flaky, to die for...and the fresh tomatoes, basil, artichokes, goat cheese, it all was just a perfect symphony and each bite was bursting with fresh flavors all melded together with that cheeeeeese! The cheese! Oh. Sigh.

Go ahead...drool! We both enjoy going out for breakfast....for one thing, it's so nice to experience the variety of choices and for another, it's just a wonderful way to start the day. I would recommend this dining experience for breakfast or any other time of the day...

I ordered up a sweet treat as a sort of appetizer to go with our savory breakfast...after all, we were celebrating a birthday, so this would serve as our "cake"....

And this would be one of their famous pastries: a gigantic cinnamon roll that would feed four gals. It's grilled to perfection on the grill in back and served up hot with a carmelized bottom that is crunchy and sweet. Again, we were mooing when we took each bite!

Have you ever thought of grilling a cinnamon roll? WOW!

Mary and Katie shopping in the "fresh-baked" section of the French Laundry. One of their cookie bars would feed four people!

Then we walked to the old town section and did a little shopping in a store called "The Iron Grate" and it's a shoppe that I swear Joy, from "Savvy City Farmgirl" or Ang from "Parisienne Farmgirl" could have set up, it was full of their kind of goodies, two stories of it!

Mary bought a beautiful ornament by this gal, who once lived in our old farmhouse and now sells her ornaments and framed silhouettes around the country.

The shoppe had set up for Christmas and was it ever fun to look around and admire their beautiful trees and displays. We came home in the mood to decorate our own homes for Christmas.

The order of the day was cream, cream cream everywhere, and then accented with either dusty aqua or a dusty green, black or whites. It is a fun place to look around and shop!

However, I have to make note of this: the staff is less than helpful and very unfriendly, in spite of that, they do have a nice shop, if a little pricey.

We did get both applesauce and apple pie filling canned and Mary left with almost a dozen jars of each to put on her shelves. We also did some crafting after we got done canning, too!

I hope Mary had a happy, happy birthday...on the day she was born, my dad was gone hunting (he made it home 45 minutes before she was born) and for most of her birthdays growing up, and now....married to an avid hunter herself, most of her birthdays are spent sans a man, so we ladies work it all out!