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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sewing with Em!! Brownie Mix!!

Grandpa snaps a few of Baby Ariana while helping me out of a computer difficulty!!!What's This??? A chocolate lover's answer for fairly fast Brownies!Yes,I know you can buy a mix,but why bother when this is so good & fast??!
Brownie Mix
Combine in large bowl:
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4 c. sugar
1 1/4 c. baking cocoa
Mix in 1 c. shortening with mixer or pastry blender till mixture resembles crumbs.
You can either put the whole mix in a large container or pre-measure into 2 c. portions. You'll have a small amt. leftover that I just divvy up amongst the containers. To label you can do it individually or just label Brownie Mix & have the Mix recipe in your recipe file.
To make Brownies:
Combine 2 c. mix with 2 eggs & 1 tsp. vanilla.Bake in a greased 8 x 8 pan at 350* for 20-25 minutes. Cool. Eat with friends!
The variations can be many-try adding peanut butter or raspberry or chocolate chips or any other that strikes your fancy.Make them with some instant coffee powder for a mocha brownie. Change the extract to mint or orange or almond.Add any kind of nut.Try with some cinnamon added. Frost with chocolate fudge or cream cheese frosting or none at all. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.Or make them straight.
Any way you make them they're good!! I've used this recipe for years-it's a keeper!!

This girl's got it in the bag!!! Isn't this cute?!! We worked on this together Thursday.Summer got a nap in while Em held Ariana & entertained me with playing all kinds of music. I worked on finishing the lining & handle.
Again, I need someone to show me how to rotate the photo's!! This is the other side,featuring a different pocket style.
A fun lining!
Cute Emily is modeling the bag & holding up the cute buttons she'll sew on, while also holding the really cute,cute baby!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dr. Day for Baby

This is Mama & baby feeling happy thinking about Coolatta's at Dunkin' Donuts!
Ariana loves girl days!!!
Coffee break was wonderful,we each had a free personal pizza!!Three cheers for the arrival of D & D in our area-I can't hardly bear to think of our sad life before D & D got here!!!! Our life quality has improved tremendously!!!

Okay.You want to hear about the baby.Yes. I know you do.The Coolatta was really good,but really,the baby is what it's all about right now,isn't it? So, let's get right to it. In 2 weeks, Baby gained 1 lb. & grew 1 inch!! Baby is right on target!! Baby cannot fit in some of her clothes already!! Grandma has experienced this also. Baby thinks Dunkin' Donuts must be helping her to grow. Grandma is wondering if Dunkin'Donuts is helping her to grow also.The next appt. will be in 2 weeks.We're thinking D & D will also be part of the itinerary......there is a distinct possibility Ariana won't be the only one shopping for new clothes... Blessings & smiles on your day!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


And After.Yesterday was spent at Brenda's.She lives in a log home her husband built & we are, surprise,surprise organizing & updating it. I'm having a blast!! Hee,hee, you know how when you tackle a project you go through "it gets worse before it gets better"??!! Well, they let me leave at any point in the process-like when Dan & Summer call me home for dinner!! Really,Brenda, my mind can just spin with all the possibilities!! One little thing we did that had big impact was to change what's on the soffits.

Mom & Dad went back home yesterday,another great visit! Wish we all lived closer!

Another bag I finished-this one for my neice Mandy.
Beautiful Mom & baby-Ariana is wearing her very trendy brown & pink body suit ( a.k.a. "onesie's"in Babyland !) & her coordinating pink "yoga pants". Okay,they ARE just little knit baby pants, but she DOES stretch & pose alot while wearing them!!
She's got big, beautiful eyes,like her Mama's & an even bigger "soothie" !! Dr.'s appt for today-we'll find out how much she's grown!!

This is my latest Thimbleberries block I finished-I love it! Next,is September's block,which is the schoolhouse.

What's in the box???? Any guesses? It's a box of Sewer's Sanity!! Remember the 5-1o yr. quilt I'm working on, the nearly eternal Thimbleberries quilt?? Well,when you take that long to get something done,if you don't plan how to organize it,you can just about plan to lose your place,your pieces or your peace of mind... Thus sanity in a box!!! Everything in one place makes it easy. So, One box=One project= One sane woman

How to do it: First you need a box.I know mine is really,really cute but it would work with plain or ugly boxes as well or those see -through plastic zippered bags that sheets & towels come in (that I still use, also). My box has a window,so theroretically,I can glance inside & know just what's there.Labels would do the same job.See-through bags,welll....they ARE called "See-Through"because you uh,um,SEE through them-get it?!

What to put in your sanity box:

Everything pertaining to your project

1.) The directions/pattern are of critical importance!!

2.)As well as all the fabric,notions,special threads,templates,etc.
3.) My finished blocks are stored in the box also & because I just showed my Mom what I had done,they are also stacked in order!!!(Yes,she did that,& yes,we all know she is a A Royal Member of the Women of Order!!!)
4.) This might not show it but I also "bag & tag" my cut pieces of a project-Saves time & headaches when you go to pick it up later.

5.) Label,label, label!!!!-You don't want to have to go through your fabric going "Was THIS supposed to be the blue/beige print #2 ?? Where's the fabric I was going to use for binding?"

You'll STILL enjoy working on a long term project because it's all there,ready,waiting & organized for you... & all due to a little box of sanity !!!!


Monday, August 25, 2008

Ariana & Grandpa-I think her "nap hair" looks naturally better don't you?!!!

I just finished the top for this Christmas Wall hanging/table topper-isn't it so colorful & cheery? This was one of the things I purchased on my quilt shop hop. The other blocks belong to another project I've been working on for years,from a Thimbleberries Club I was in. I, obviously, didn't finish it the year I was in the, to make myself feel better, I tell myself it is a 5 year quilt project...Now, I'm thinking of up-ing it to 10 years!! I like to work on it,just not all the time!! I have sewing projects the same way some people read alot of books all at the same time. Right now, I have at least 5-6 things I'm working on simultaneously!! I'll post, soon, about some finished things & some works-in-progress!!

Isn't this precious? Erin was over & showing me some things my camera can do....this doesn't make me take better pictures...... nor remember some of the things my camera can do...but it's nice to know that were I talented I could do utterly fabulous things!!!!

It was Summer's 27th birthday on Saturday & guess who's pictures I've got? That's right, a few here & there of the life I pretend to still have since baby's arrival,but mostly of this little package of adorable!!!

On Sunday,for Sum's birthday,we
made a trip up to my in law's. This is Bette my m-i-l,Kelly,my niece,Gwen,my s-i-l & Alison,my s-i-l. I love girl-time!!! Especially when it includes chocolate cake,moist,yummy chocolate cake with white frosting!!! Mmh,thanks Bette,not just for the cake,but for always being the sweet hostess you naturally are,we all love to come to "Grandma's house"!!!

(Poor Ariana,I've got her standing on her head & have no idea how to turn her around!)

A better picture of Gwen & Kelly. Kelly was recently married & will soon be heading back to school-she's a teacher,working on her Master's!
Great Grandpa Ray holding Ariana-Precious!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Whew!! I feel like I'm living in the fast lane lately.I need to catch my breath,slow down.You ever feel that way?? You short change yourself by not making a space of quiet in your day....So...sit out on the porch while you still a good book...... & recharge your spirit.
Dan says "catching your breath was something you did after, you need to catch it just going upstairs" !!!! Which reminds me of....have you taken your keyless entry for your car & pointed & clicked it at your house door?? How about stepping out of the shower,drying off & realizing you never soaped up??! Spritzing your hair with eyeglass cleaner??!! C'mon. Fess up.I can't be the only one!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Scroll down for pic's of Ashley,Summer & Ariana.... And speaking of cake.....

Looky,looky below! Ashley has some new pictures up of her, Miles & growing tummy! And, if you've missed them, Summer &Ariana have some beautiful photo's up also!
Just a quick thought about making cakes,inspired by my blog friend at Freda's Hive.Sometimes people buy a cake mix because "it's quicker"....well,my friends, I'm going to show you that homemade can be made fast!!!
It's the simplest thing in the world-make your own mixes with pre-measured dry ingredients! Label with the page # the recipe can be found on, to add the liquid ingredients; bake temp. & time.Voila'!!There you have it-Fast & Good!!!Dan's fave pick-
Starlight Cake-
2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Mix dry ingredients & store in airtight ziplock bag or container.And LABEL it !!!
When you're ready to make the cake,add this:
1/2 c. shortening (Can be 1/2 butter)
1 c. milk
1tsp. vanilla
3 eggs

Mix on low speed for 30 seconds,then,beat on high speed for 3 minutes.Pour into greased,floured pans.
Bake at 350* . 40-45 min.'s for 9 x 13 pan. 30 -35 min.'s for layers.Cool. I use a toothpick to check if they're done.Frost. Celebrate!!
There's another thing I notice about my baking,I have some sort of sense that smells when things are done!! I still rely on my timer because I can get easily distracted but my nose has become pretty accurate through the years!!!

"LESS IS MORE" The LESS"stuff" you have to push out of the way,clean,move,sort,store, the MORE space & time you have to enjoy life.It's true!! Shoving things aside,searching in cupboards,drawers &closets takes time.The old adage of a place for everything & everything in it's place(Thank-you,Mrs. Beeton!) is still excellent advice!
Let's take a look at organizing your baking center- Are all the things you need & use in one area? Or is the flour half way across the kitchen,the 3 opened bottles of vanilla in different places, spatula on the counter & beaters in a drawer?? When task related items are stored together it makes your work efficient & pleasurable. No hunt &search.No stale ingredients, because you know what you have with a glance.Maintenance becomes super easy.
Take a look at what you have-how many mixing bowls do you actually use at one time? 1? 2-3? Then why store & move out of your way 5 ? Know what you use & use what you have.Put your most frequently used items in the most convenient places.
I've been blessed with a "Home Comfort" baking cabinet that was my Great Grandmother's,then, my Grandmother's,who gave it to me, when Dan was building our house next door,& my Mom refinished it for me. It is one of the most treasured things I've been given! Most all of my baking things are stored in that one area,from ingredients to utensils, to baking dishes-it's all there. I do have space elsewhere designated to replacement ingredients.You know,like when sugar is on sale & you buy 2-3 because it's a great price,you have room to store it & you'll use it up before it can go bad. When you buy new,put it behind what's already in the cupboard & you'll never face the lurking bag of 3 yrs.old stuff that was opened & then,displaced to the back of a dark cupboard & now is only fit to be tossed out.
Being organized saves time,money & nerves!! It's a peaceful way of doing & living!! So, go through those cupboards-get rid of or pass on the things you don't use that are still usable .Toss out the things you don't & would never use,the broken mixer,the utensil that still"works"if you hold it a certain way.... You're wasting valuable space for something you never use,so toss it!! Don't pass on items that are no longer useful to someone else.Deep breath
Enjoy your day!! & I hope you'll make a little more space in your life with these organizing tips!!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

This is what I get when I make Dan his birthday cake,even a few (!!!) days late.Starlight Cake recipe from the Bette Crocker Cookbook I entered marriage with. I couldn't even guess how many times I've made this over the years. Homemade cakes taste different,there's no weird coconut oil/preservative taste.Real tastes good.It's worth the effort,even tho' late this year ( we did have a grandbaby arrive in the midst!). And real chocolate frosting made with melted butter & unsweetened baking chocolate can't be beat! It's a winning combination! It's passed the test of time! It is ALWAYS Dan's choice!!! It's a good one,hon!

Ariana had her first visit to Grandma's house this evening to share in the festivities!
She also enjoyed another buggy ride to the neighbors!!

5o CANDLES???!!! I don't think so!!!!! How 'bout 1 BIG one instead?! I got those candy crunchy things you put on cakes-not bad.What I remember from childhood is a paper backed combination of glue & stale sugar that was really hard to eat...they've either improved things tremendously or my memory is really bad!!!

Sunday- a trip to "Beyond the Needle"-those are her shop samples-I wish I took more. I 've been getting some sewing & cutting out done in snatches of time here & there. Dan & I had a nice lunch out & a great relaxing drive.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ariana- two weeks of preciousness

I get by with a little help from my friends!

Our Sleeping Beauty
Yesterday was a 2 bushel day,enough corn for Summer & us & to spare!! Thanks to help from Leslie,Kathleen,Dan,& Brenda, a big job became a fun & friends time-You're the best of friends-THANK-YOU!!!