Saturday, December 22, 2007

I Just Had the Best Day

Life is so unpredictable.  I have learned to simply revel in a good day.  We are supposed to get snow, a few inches of it at least, and that always puts me in a festive mood. I had several things I wanted to accomplish today and realized in the late afternoon that I had reached my goal. not one care That was such a happy feeling.  I got my biscotti made yesterday, two batches of the chocolate almond.  Molly made cut-out cookies yesterday, and I made more today.  They are so good with coffee.  Coffee-cup  I got laundry and cleaning done and now everything is nice and cozy for our holiday.

Here's a peek outside my windows tonight.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Every Day Is Laundry Day

I love to do laundry. I don't like trying to get out stains and going through pockets and turning socks right side out, but I love when I have laundry to do. I especially love hanging my laundry on the clothes lines outside. That's just one of my all-time favorite things, but I also love winter-time laundry. We get very cold here and burn wood for our fuel supply 100% of the time. One advantage of perpetual remodeling of a very old house is that there are two heating ducts coming up into my pantry, one of which will eventually be a cold-air return. But for now it's like a blast of heat and things dry very nicely on the one line I have strung from one end of my pantry to the other. I am blessed to have a walk-in room-sized pantry which holds my washer and dryer, a ten-foot stretch of upper and lower cabinets and counter top, and a newly built closet just big enough to be useful as well as a spiffy new cabinet mounted above my washer and dryer. These two things came to our house over Thanksgiving time when Jack took a week off. I love helpful new things, and they are really making things much easier for me.

As I mentioned, we live in an old house and our water supply just comes up from a point in the ground, not a well. And we don't have soft water. All of this makes laundry more interesting. I enjoy the smell of April Fresh Downy and have been using that rather more than I had because I was needing the clothes to smell fresher. But, I've been doing some searching on the Internet while hunting for better homemaking ideas and skills, and ran across some horrible info on the evils of fabric softener and dryer sheets. Whether this is true or not, I am more inclined to believe it to be factual, so this is just one more way I can simplify things and have them be healthier at the same time. I read that vinegar is a wonderful fabric softener so I've been washing every load with vinegar in the rinse for days and days now. I'm quite satisfied! The clothes just smell nice and clean, and I like that. According to what I've read, just a 1/4 cup - 1/2 cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle will soften your laundry naturally and also rinses the detergent out more effectively. Here is an interesting link to a discussion on: Is there a way to make homemade fabric softener?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Cheddar Baked Potato Soup

I found this recipe on Ezine Articles.  I was really excited to try it because I'm on the lookout for some new favorite recipes.  This one is definitely a new favorite.  The whole family was crazy about it.  It was so tasty! and I loved it because it was so quick and easy to make.  I used my cast iron Dutch Oven because I love using it to make soups.  And something else that really saves time...baking the potatoes in the microwave instead of the oven.  I love it that they're cooking and ready for me by the time I have the rest of the soup ready to put together.  Just cut them in half after microwaving and scoop the potato out like you would for twice-baked potatoes and when you add it to the soup, by the time it's done most of the potato is broken up and what isn't is a delightful tasting nugget of flavored potato.  I used 5 tablespoons of flour and it made a nicely thickened soup.  I also learned that heavy cream is whipping cream.  I thought so, but I wasn't certain. Next time I want to involve some bacon in this recipe.  It doesn't list it in the ingredients but mentions it in the making of the soup.  Yum.  Here is the article written by Diane Watkins.

Cheese and Potato Soup - A Recipe for Cheddar Baked Potato Soup That Is Out Of This World by Diane Watkins.

This cheddar potato recipe makes a soup that is creamy and smooth with true baked potato flavor.  You can dress this up with a dollop of sour cream and chives or crumbled bacon, but I like it just as it is.

The flour serves to thicken the soup.  I don't like my soup real thick, so I usually use less. If you like a real thick soup, increase the amounts to 6 tablespoons or a little more.  The important thing when adding flour is to cook it in the butter before adding the liquid.  This will avoid that raw flour flavor that can result if the flour is not completely cooked.

It is important that the soup not boil once the cream is added.  Boiling will cause the cream to separate.  If this is a problem for you, wait to add the cream just before serving and only reheat.

Cheddar Baked Potato Soup Recipe

6 Tablespoons butter
1 cup yellow onions, diced
4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups hot chicken stock
4 cups baked potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse black pepper
1 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup diced green onions (white part only)
Additional grated cheese and chopped parsley for garnish

1. Cook onions in butter over medium-high heat until transparent, about 3 minutes.

2. Add flour, stirring to prevent lumps. Cook 3 - 5 minutes until just golden brown.

3. Add chicken stock gradually, whisking to prevent lumps, until liquid thickens.

4. Reduce heat to simmer and add potatoes, cream, chopped bacon, parsley, garlic, basil, salt, pepper sauce and black pepper.  Simmer 10 minutes.  Do not boil.

5. Add grated cheese.  Heat until cheese melts and soup is smooth.

Garnish each serving as desired with grated cheese and chopped parsley.  You can also use a dollop of sour cream and chives or crumbled bacon.

Do you need more easy soup recipe ideas?  Sign up for our newsletter at Easy Soup and Stew Recipes from Easy Southern Cooking and get quick and healthy recipes delivered to your email regularly.

Are you interested in traditional southern cooking?  Diane has just finished a free cookbook of her favorite southern recipes.  Download Easy Southern Favorites today.  These recipes are guaranteed to have them begging for more.  Best of all, its free!

Diane Watkins is a traditional southern style cook.  She enjoys cooking, teaching, and writing about good food and family.  For more information on southern cooking and recipes visit her website at Easy Southern Cooking

Article Source:

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Chicken & Doughies

Another yummy recipe from Kitchen Keepsakes.  This is one of my favorite recipes.   It's a wonderful pot of food on a cold day, on the order of chicken and dumplings, quick and very easy!

Chicken & Doughies
Cook 1 whole chicken in 1 quart water about 2 hours or until done which has been seasoned with salt, pepper, onion salt, and poultry seasoning.  Remove chicken from broth, saving broth. Debone and cut chicken into pieces.  Add chicken bouillon to broth and enough water to make 2 quarts liquid.  Return chicken to broth.  Beat 2 eggs, add 1 1/2 cups flour.  Work dough carefully, cutting through with a fork just until all flour is moistened.  Do not overwork dough.  Bring chicken and broth to a boil.  Drop marble-sized pieces of dough into chicken soup.  Let simmer for 15 minutes.  Season to your liking.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Reason To Run To the Window

We have a Mountain Ash tree near our back porch.  The white flowers in spring turn to clusters of bright orange-red berries in the fall which are a favorite food of birds.  A flock of Pine Grosbeaks flew in today for a little feast.  I always wonder what it would feel like to swallow something as proportionately large, which would also be quite cold, but they love it.  It was especially pretty today as three separate colors of Grosbeaks lit on the branches.  The rosy-red is a male, the upside down one is a female.  She is a soft gray and olive-yellow.  There was also an immature male whose head was rust-colored.  It was a feast for the eyes, an array of beautiful colors, always a reason to run to the window.

If you love and enjoy birds as I do, be sure to check out  It's a great site full of information, pictures, and even a bird call for the particular bird you're trying to identify.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Being Reminded It’s All About Attitude...

Cozy MemoriesBefore I write my next paragraph I wanted to say that the very hard and painful struggle that I have been going through in the last couple of months, while ongoing in more ways than I realized at first, has evened out to the point things feel almost normal again. I wanted you to know that I am so thankful for friends who rally round and for the prayers that were lifted up on our behalf....and because I appreciated this so much I wanted to let you know that things are improving. You encouraged me. So much, and I am so grateful for your thoughts and prayers. in love

I have been really busy in the last few days, in my head. Lots of thoughts and plans and planning. Here's the deal . . . I have a smile/ angry relationship with my computer . . . it's like a magnet, which I'm sure is no great revelation to many of you who feel the same. Because of extended computer use and all of the things I love to do with it:

fiction writing
making graphics
redoing my web site
surfing & shopping
reading news

I've lost my way over the years. It's come to the point I don't do any of the things I used to love to do. Sometimes I don't even feel like me, the me I used to be, the me I really loved being.

So, I am on a laid-back mission to recapture my love of homemaking. I really love to bake and cook and I have all these great Gooseberry Patch cookbooks that have all these great recipes I need to be trying.


Somewhere I misplaced my love of list-making.
I love to be organized, but I misplaced that too.
I used to cross-stitch and sew and make country wood crafts.
I love to read and write, but I misplaced my passion for both.
There's been a lot of misplacing . . .
so that's what I'm working on, regaining.

A long time ago I wanted to make one of the gazillions of home management binders you see all over the Internet. Something like this, the putting together of one, is so me, but I never quite got to the point of making one. It seems so late now, my kids are all on the back end of growing up, but my house isn't organized and neither am I, so there's still a need for a binder. LOL I'm on a hunt to gather all kinds of information for my own notebook. I love a project like this and it's been good for me.

One last thought. Even though I'm a huge advocate for homemaking and strive to be a woman after God's own heart, the winds of life can beat you up and leave you twisting and a little upended and needing improvement and some adjusting. In my search for binder ideas, I ran across many many blogs I will want to visit again. I enjoyed reading this post from Lizzie's Home. I just think this is so vitally important, and I needed the reminder.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Baked Potato Pizza

baked potato pizza

This is just a fabulous recipe. The sour cream, bacon, onions and cheese make every bite taste just like a delicious baked potato, only better.

Baked Potato Pizza

1 package (6oz.) pizza crust mix or homemade dough recipe below
3 medium unpeeled potatoes, baked and cooled
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning or dried oregano
1 cup (8oz.) sour cream
6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
3 to 5 green onions, chopped
1-1/2 cups (6oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Prepare crust according to package directions. (OR make your own. I'm concerned one packet of crust mix might not be enough as I've only used a homemade dough. I'll put a dough recipe below which is quick and easy and very good.) Press dough into a lightly greased 14-inch pizza pan; build up edges slightly. Bake at 400ยบ for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting.

Bread Machine Pizza Dough

1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
3-4 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 generous teaspoons yeast

Add ingredients to bread machine in this order.
Mix on dough setting and use as needed.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Cinnamon Sticks

In the book it says: "These remind me of baked pie dough sparkling with cinnamon & sugar. " When we make these, they do remind you very much of baked pie crust. They are true favorites.

Cinnamon Sticks

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar, divided
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine shortening, butter, 5 tablespoons of the sugar,
flour, salt, and extracts together; mix well.
Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/2-inch thickness.
Slice into long 1/2" strips. Cut strips into 2" lengths.
Arrange on ungreased baking sheets; bake at 375° until golden,
about 12-18 minutes. Toss remaining sugar and cinnamon together,
divided evenly into two cake pans. Divide hot sticks fresh from
the oven into the two cake pans and gently flip them around
with a pancake turner to coat them with sugar.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Cattlemen's Club Twice-Baked Potatoes

Twice-Baked Potatoes
5 large potatoes, scrubbed and baked 
1/3 cup half and half
1 cup sour cream
3 T. green onions or chives, minced
4 strips bacon, fried and crumbled
1/2 teaspoon parsley
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 - 2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced and sauteed in butter
Bake potatoes for one hour at 350° or until tender in center.
Cut in half lengthwise.  Scoop out potato carefully as to not tear skins.   Mash potatoes with mixer, add half and half and continue to beat until smooth.  Add all other ingredients and mix well. Mixture should be somewhat softer than regular mashed potatoes to prevent drying out when baking again.  Fill skin shells with mashed potato mixture and arrange on cookie sheet.  Top each with extra grated cheese.  Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sliced almonds

1. Heat oven to 350° F. Beat butter and sugar until blended.
Add eggs and almond extract; beat well. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt;
gradually add to butter mixture, beating until smooth. (Dough will be thick.)
Stir in almonds using wooden spoon.

2. Shape dough into two 11 inch long rolls.
Place rolls 3 to 4 inches apart on large ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake 30 minutes or until rolls are set.
Remove from oven; cool on cookie sheet 15 minutes.
Using serrated knife, cut rolls diagonally using sawing motion, into 1/2 inch thick slices.
Arrange slices, cut sides down, close together on cookie sheet.

4. Bake 8 to 9 minutes. Turn slices over; bake an additional 8 to 9 minutes.
Remove from oven; cool on cookie sheet on wire rack. Prepare Chocolate Glaze.
Dip end of each biscotti in glaze or drizzle over entire cookie. Prepare White Glaze;
drizzle over chocolate glaze. Garnish with additional almonds, if desired.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies

Chocolate Glaze

Place 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon shortening
(do not use butter, margarine or oil) into small microwave-safe bowl.
Microwave at HIGH (100%) 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until smooth when stirred.
Makes about 1 cup glaze.

White Glaze

Place 1/4 cup white chips (Hershey's Premier White Chips) and 1 teaspoon shortening
(do not use butter, margarine or oil) into small microwave-safe bowl.
Microwave at HIGH (100%) 30 to 45 seconds or until smooth when stirred.
Makes about 1/4 cup glaze.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

About Me



The Lord is my strength,
my shield from every danger.
I trust in him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart
is filled with joy. I burst out
in songs of thanksgiving.
Psalm 28:7



I just turned 48 
and am fussing with things like perimenopause. melodramatic

I have naturally curly hair.

But now I wear it straight, and I love it.

I'm short and I procrastinate.

I have glaucoma.

For over ten years now and probably longer.

Cozy Memories

(definitely be aware even your children should be tested for glaucoma)


I am currently writing a novel titled Sam Walker's Widow.
It is nearly finished.


I have always loved Mary Engelbreit.

(I keep this print handy when I need it, he he. LOL)


I love love Gooseberry Patch Cookbooks



Bliss: a big mug of this, a computer, and some uninterrupted time



We live in the country in Wisconsin near a beautiful river.
You can see many photos interspersed throughout this blog or by clicking on the nature related label categories.

Susie's Graphics

(even though our differences sometimes drive me crazy!) LOL

(newly married 22 years ago)


and a little more recent - I love this picture of us

sunburn and all Winking

We do crosswords together - even over the phone. LOL

Expat Palette


I love my three kids.

Molly, Jacob, and Sam.

They're the best parts of us.

Here they are, in front, getting a picture

at a recent Needtobreathe concert.

L. to R. Jake, Molly, and Sam with the Needtobreathe guys

 Desha's Blinkies

We have always home schooled.
(except for two long, awful months of all-day kindergarten)

Two have graduated, one to go.

My daughter, Molly, inherited my love for writing.
She has self-published the first two books in a four-book series.
A Pirate Daughter's Promise, (see sidebar)
Every Tear, the second book in the series.

I am currently editing A Captain’s Heart which will be published when that is accomplished. And Finding Faith will come after that.

My favorite things:
Saturday mornings and coffee with my husband
birdsong early in the morning
big, tall white pine trees
being at the lake
the sound of Canadian geese honking overhead
crisp, sunny fall days
burning candles
a fire in the wood stove
writing & reading
snow days
cottage style decorating
romantic movies
coffee mugs
Barnes and Noble

Joyful Mother Designs Simply Jill - no longer online


things that are always vying for my attention:

(but winning out in this order)

reading news online (LOL)

digital scrapbook design

fiction writing



and even MORE about me LOL


me in a nutshell:

coffee, coffee, coffee  crosswords

 fiction writing computers cups crackers

and more:

pinktulips  Gerbera Daisy

stayinguplate fiction candles


cottages lakes 

google bookstores  

watching movies

I love period dramas like BBCs Pride & Prejudice,
but BBCs North & South is my favorite.


Mr. Thornton: "Look back, look back at me."

(how romantic! Love Struck)

Anne of Green Gables . . . what more could I say?

Anne of Green Gables

I love watching Alan's cooking show
Cookin' in Brooklyn


Desha's Blinkies

I love hymns and the music of


My favorite rock music bands

Third Day

Leeland's Sound of Melodies is an AWESOME cd
and I rarely use the word awesome Winking



If I play a computer game, it's Mahjong


these are some favorite actors and actresses:
Gena Rowlands Helen Mirren Meg Ryan Bonnie Hunt

Robert Duvall Morgan Freeman Anthony Hopkins Denzel Washington
some favorite movies:
You've Got Mail French Kiss Dear Frankie

gladiator Last Samurai master bourne

favorite television:

 image  Pride & Prejudice the Gilmore girls

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

all blinkies are linked

most come from these three sources:

Expat Palette
Desha's Blinkies
Joyful Mother Designs