Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Carob Cookies

Carob Cookies

My mother-in-law was famous for her Carob Cookies! Cake-like, delicious, and a handful, they were always welcome after any meal. Often they were carefully packed in a large, round Tupperware container for camping trips and vacations. They were loved by all, even those who had never eaten carob before. Here's her recipe ~ enjoy!

1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup carob powder
2 cups whole wheat pastry
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cookie sheets with parchment paper or a light layer of oil. Blend syrup, oil, vanilla, and carob powder until smooth. By hand, stir in remaining ingredients in small amounts. Do not over mix! Drop dough by the spoonful onto cookie sheets, about 1" apart. Bake until cookies are sightly browned and feel firm to the touch (about 8 - 9 minutes). Cool and enjoy!

Makes 3 dozen

*The child's apron in the photo was made by my friend, Terri. Isn't it beautiful? She has it for sale in her shop.

Monday, October 26, 2009



"How silently they tumble down
And come to rest upon the ground
To lay a carpet, rich and rare,
Beneath the trees without a care,
Content to sleep, their work well done,
Colors gleaming in the sun.
At other times, they wildly fly
Until they nearly reach the sky.
Twisting, turning through the air
Till all the trees stand stark and bare.
Exhausted, drop to earth below
To wait, like children, for the snow."

- Elsie N. Brady

Be Blessed

"O satisfy us in the morning with thy lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days."

Psalm 90:13

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Zesty Fruit-Nut Balls

Zesty Fruit-Nut Balls

3/4 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup pecans or walnuts
1 cup raisins, softened
1 cup dates, pitted
2 Tbsp. maple or agave syrup
2 tsp. grated orange rind

Grind sunflower seeds in dry coffee
grinder. Chop pecans, raisins, and
dates. Mix first four ingredients.
Add maple or agave syrup. Mix well.
Roll into 1" balls. Chill and serve.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

An Autumn Walk

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood! Autumn is the perfect time to visit the nearby wildlife refuge. The ticks of spring are gone, and so are the summer rattlesnakes! Instead, we enjoyed ducks, geese, and a plethora of wild seeds for the birds! The walk around the slough was interesting and the exercise felt good. Enjoy this little walk with me as you view my Photo Show of autumn.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Elm Street Teapot

The traveling teapot went to Oregon yesterday to serve tea to Paula and her sister, Jacque. The decor was perfection! Elm Street Antiques is a lovely, vintage shop filled with china, linens, antiques, and more. Paula and Terri really know how to create beautiful displays that draw the eye, and recently redecorated their entire shop. Every nook and cranny is filled with beautiful things! So much so, that we had to improvise our tea table. A recent shipment, still packed in a large brown box, created a table. A pretty tablecloth from a nearby display was draped over it, and the tea basket unpacked of the blue traveling teapot, pastel yellow teacups, a candle, tea, and cookies. It wasn't long before the tea kettle was simmering, and tea was brewed. Antique chairs covered in lovely patterned fabrics were drawn to the improv table and we sat to tea. It was a quiet day, but as soon as we sat down to tea, things got busy. It was alright; a friendly, cheerful twist ensued as cookies were shared with Paula's customers. Conversation, tea, and friendship shared together on a lovely autumn day in a beautiful impromptu tea room! Thanks, Paula, for welcoming the traveling teapot!

A Little Gift Box

I have been having fun with a template book of gift boxes and tags from K&Company. Although it is Christmas themed, I've discovered that if I use the back of the templates rather than the front, they work for general themes. This week I made this little box to contain a tiny gift for Paula. Like Clarice from Storybook Woods, I'm discovering the fun of prisma glitter! Additionally, both giant and little buttons, rick-rack, and satin ribbon add to the charm and fun! A holiday gift tag made a great hinge so the lid can open and close. There's something very relaxing about creating something 'just because'.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bucky Loves Catnip

Summer herbs have grown proficiently and any gathering and harvesting needs to be completed soon. I've brought some of my favorites into the house so I can have fresh basil, sage, thyme, rosemary, and stevia for a few of the winter months. And some I am gathering and cutting to dry and store. Bucky also loves herbs! He can be a pretty independent kitty until the catnip comes out! After I sprinkle some on a heart-shaped rug on the porch, he immediately looses focus, forgetting the world and becomes the most tranquil kitty ever. He becomes lost in its hypnotic effect. After ten minutes or so of pure enjoyment, Bucky wanders off to sleep. Catnip is a member of the mint family. To learn more, go to the Cat World website. Interesting stuff!

In humans, catnip (which is safe to ingest) acts as a mild sedative and is usually taken as herbal tea. It's used in cooking and to treat symptoms like headaches, coughs, and insomnia. Catnip is also a powerful defense against mosquitoes, being ten times more potent than popular commercial mosquito repellents. Just some trivia for the day!

Be blessed and enjoy life today!

The Colors of Autumn

The colors of autumn are bright and happy. They are crisp, but warm. Vibrant, yet relaxing. With trees of blazing glory, mood is lifted and cheer results. Golden brown, canary yellow, barn red, scarlet, brown, and gray --- these colors meld to create a glorious whole! Glorious! Glorious!

What color is your world?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Cozy Kitchen

You are invited to visit my other blog, My Cozy Kitchen. It's a quiet place where I share healthy, whole-food recipes. The recipes are posted from my collection as I prepare them or as they come into focus when I am browsing through my recipe files. They are filled with antioxidants and phytochemicals, are full of fiber, and help maintain wellness and promote good health. If you stop by, please leave me a comment so I know you've been by. I'd love to share a cup of tea with you, but in blogland a few words will have to do. Happy eating and stay healthy!

Sisterhood of Herbs

Herbs, seeds, and flowers all reach their peak at summer's end. Gathered and dried, they make lovely teas or flavoring for foods prepared during the winter months. Those not gathered are left in the garden to feed the birds. With cooler days, the craft box attracts attention, and pretty papers, ribbons, buttons, and glitter all work together to make something fun! Recently I created little paper boxes and filled them with harvested and dried chamomile and calendula blossoms. Inside each box, a shiny surprise was placed, just like in a Cracker Jack box! Ribbons, glittered tags, fancy buttons, and a message tag were glued to each one. Bundled together, they were mailed off to a group of friends participating in an herb swap. In a week or two, a package will be arriving in my mailbox, filled with sixteen different herbal gifts made by my herbal friends. What a fun way to celebrate harvest, to hone creative skills, and to nurture friendships!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Books from Scratch

Sometimes its enjoyable and relaxing to break from routine to create! So, with glue, string, and papers I sat down to see if I could make a book from scratch. I've always admired the handmade books found in places like Etsy. Although my book was small and simple, it surprised me how much time it took. Embroidery floss and a buttonhole stitch trimmed an edge while strong thread on a needle bound the book at its fold. Giant rick-rack was glued on the edge, creating a scalloped look on the back. Another book was bound in the Japanese style and its pages were individually crafted with the help of a Dremel (power tool) after being dipped into tea and dried with a blow-drier. A plastic bracelet expressing 'gentleness' worked as a fastener for one, while another was bound by brad and a crocheted string of floss. Relaxing and fun, these little journals are a special place to keep notes, express feelings, or write goals. Creativity really is fun!

Covers the Sky with Clouds

He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills.

Psalm 147:8

Friday, October 16, 2009

Perfected When Shared

Happiness is a sunbeam. . .
When it strikes a kindred heart,
like the converged lights upon a mirror,
it reflects itself with redoubled brightness.
It is not perfected until
it is shared.

Jane Porter

Green Tomato Mincemeat

The weatherman forecast our first hard frost, so I made a point of picking several boxes of unripened tomatoes from my garden. They are ripening up nicely in the warm kitchen, but there were more than we could use at one time. I decided to make green tomato mincemeat, a dish I remember making with my grandma and mother when I was a child. I don't know why I didn't try it again until recently. It's delicious! Here's the recipe:

Green Tomato Mincemeat

12 cups chopped green tomatoes*
6 cups peeled, chopped tart apples
2 cups raisins
1 cup dates, chopped (may use currants)
1/2 cup diced candied pineapple (or citron)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
3 cups brown sugar, firmly packed**
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Chop all ingredients and place in a kettle. Cook slowly over low heat until tender and thick (2 or more hours). Stir frequently to prevent sticking.

Can or freeze as desired (if canning, use water-bath method with 20 minutes of processing; omit cloves if freezing).

Delicious on toast! Layer with peanut butter if desired! Also great served as a fruit sauce, as a pie filling, or for tarts for tea.

Makes about 8 pints.

*If you don't have green tomatoes, tomatillos from the supermarket will work.

**I used agave syrup.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rhapsody in Blue

The traveling teapot stayed home today. But it was put into commission as a friend came to visit. Sharon stopped by on her way home from work, to spend an hour or more chatting as we relaxed on sofa and chair. It was truely an afternoon tea. Duchess Genevieve teacups and saucers blended beautifully with the traveling teapot and its beautiful rhapsody of blue. A lighted oil lamp and a votive candle provided a soft glow on the low sofa table. Star-sliced apples dipped in cinnamon and stevia were paired with dark chocolate-chili pieces and tiny strips of fruit leather. A full-bodied French blend tea filled the little blue teapot. Together, Sharon and I enjoyed our tea and sweets. Long-time friends, we shared joys, sorrows and tidbits of our lives. Quaint and cozy, our tea experience was a simple respite in a week with its own stress and worry.

Grapes in a Glass

With the first frost past, grape growers in our area are hurrying to get the last of their grapes harvested. The task is priority as they scramble to get them all picked before the really cold weather arrives. The sugar in grapes acts as an antifreeze, protecting them from the first deep frosts. But leaving them on the vines is unnecessary because the same 'first frost' froze the leaves on the vines. After they thawed out, they dried, wrinkled, and died. Thus, photosynthesis has stopped and the grapes won't ripen past where they were before the freeze. It's counterproductive to leave them on the vine any longer. A hasty harvest is in full swing!

Grapes contain wonderful antioxidant qualities and have been found to be especially beneficial for a healthy heart. Some choose to drink a juice glass of grape juice every morning as a healthy way to start the day! And what better way than with a glass of homemade grape juice! Sally's mom recently gave us some samples of her delicious homemade grape juice. They are so beautiful in the jar! Tempting! And I can confirm that they taste as good as they look!

Pictured from left to right, they are: Interlaken, Canadice, and Campbell's Early (Concord).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October's Color

I went in search for autumn, and found it in the beautiful color yellow. Cheerful and clear, this color is charming us this time of year from garden beds, colorful tree leaves, and from tabletop and cupboard shelf. Its the color that nature favors this season, abundant in harvest and in home.

Paula's amber glassware gleams on a shelf near an east-facing window. Sunlight filters onto the glass, creating a jeweled effect that is intensified by the repetition of pattern and its golden hue.

Alma's garden beams with sunshine's rays, illustrated so beautifully by the Black-Eyed Susan's she grows in her back yard.

Hen and rooster have accents in yellow, only intensified by a beautiful golden gravy boat at Elm Street Antiques.

When October dawns, school is well underway for children and young adults. Although hot lunches are now the norm, it doesn't take much to conjure up memories of days gone by. Do you remember your school lunch box? Was yours tin like mine was? If I recall, I had the same lunch box all the way through elementary school --- although in the upper grades sophistication took hold and the brown bag won out over the very practical tin lunchbox.

Gathering collections of items in yellow and placing them in a cozy corner of the house creates a cheerful appeal on days that are growing shorter and a little more dreary as coolness sets in.

Firewood is gathered by the truckload and is stacked and ready to split for winter's use. Brent, Grandpa, and Rylan have done a great job of doing this task which has become a family ritual over the years.

Pretty marigolds add not only cheer to the outside, but make a great addition to autumn meals. Have you tried adding marigold petals to hash browns or a leafy green salad? Yummy and so beautiful!

Salt and Pepper. . .in corn yellow. . .a beautiful addition to the table scape of autumn. And a reminder of the harvest season that is drawing to a close.

Bowls of golden pear tomatoes are being gathered at our house. Delicious in salad with sweet onions and fresh cilantro, they are in such abundance that they are also being dried and roasted for winter use.

October's color can be found in a campfire. It's golden glow signals just the right coals for roasting marshmallows or hot dogs --- and it's warmth keeps the toes of those whom you love nearby so nice and toasty!

Of course the color of autumn arrives in shifts and spells. Touches of summer still remain --- the red of Indian paintbrush and the vibrancy of green grass, revived by autumn's rain showers. Yet yellow peeks through, in flowers lifting their golden faces to the sunshine.

Right now a golden cup of tea and a nugget of brown sugar cube sound like the perfect way to welcome an autumn evening and the close of a lovely day. Life is full and busy right now. Autumn is the season of transition --- of season and of life. It's a time to enjoy the day that God has blessed us with, for abundance and blessings. And a day to look from to the future, seeking out the hope that's around the corner --- and the joy that newness brings.
I hope your A U T U M N is beautiful and abundant!
Thank you to Dad and Alma, Grandpa, Paula from Elm Street for sharing your golden autumn scenes with me and my camera!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Praying Mantis

In our cold climate, it is nearly the end of the season for the mantid. This unusual creature is a member of the Mantidae family and is a welcome guest, outside of course. Commonly called the 'praying mantis' because of its prayer-like stance, it is an interesting and unique garden friend. Last week this pretty mantis blended with an old green window frame. She stayed for several days, somewhat lethargic as she prepared to lay her eggs and then faded away into oblivion; her purpose was past. This insect is a predatory cannibal and feasts on garden pests. Although the mantis is brutal when going for the kill, observing is interesting. Nature has its own ways. Even more interesting to me is observing how the praying mantis uses camouflage for protection. From light-colored sand to shades of dark or vibrant green, this creature is a study in contrasts. Although the mantids in my garden will be gone very soon, their egg packets are to be found on branch or door jam. They are protected in their cozy bundle until spring, and then the cycle will begin again.

Good-bye little mantis! Thank you for the tasks you've accomplished in my garden!

Enjoying Autumn

Brisk breezes, bright skies, and beautiful colors are all indicators of autumn. What better way to enjoy autumn but to spend time outdoors where it's crisp coolness can be experienced. It is even better when shared with friends. We enjoyed hiking, visiting, and enjoying nature on a glorious autumn day --- all spiked with laughter and joy. This verse seems to express quite well the musings of our hearts. . .

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them —
The summer flowers depart —
Sit still — as all transform'd to stone,
Except your musing heart.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Traveling Teapot on a Picnic

Our family was invited to a picnic along the Columbia Gorge, and the traveling teapot went along. We met our friends at a beautiful park on the shores of the Columbia River and because it was somewhat breezy, had our picnic inside a restored and historic "Lock Tender" house. Cozy, warm, and comfortably appointed, we enjoyed a lunch of stacked taco salad with toppings, clusters of Interlaken grapes, hot tea, and cookies. Because it was a picnic, porcelain tea mugs accompanied the traveling teapot rather than teacups and saucers. Peppermint and chamomile teas were the choice of the day, and the story of the traveling teapot was told. After a leisurely lunch, the traveling teapot was packed back into a wicker hamper and packed away for its next adventure. While our family and friends hiked on a beautiful autumn day, the traveling teapot rested in the hamper, waiting for it's next teatime experience. How fun it must be to be a traveling teapot!

[Click on photo for close-up view]

Friday, October 09, 2009

Vintage Sewing

Yesterday Kim and I discovered an intriguing booth at an antique mall nearby. Stepping inside it's space was like stepping back in time. It took me back to my childhood when I would go to an old-fashioned department store downtown called "The Beehive". Wooden bins, open trays of thread, buttons, thimbles, and trims invited the observer to explore each space. Patterns from an era past reminded me of the fashions of my youth. Such displays simply inspire the observer to learn to sew! Trims and threads in a variety of colors and styles make one dream of creations! Buttons of interesting shapes and colors become central in selecting fabrics and styles to go with them. Backwards, maybe. Usually the pattern would come first, but for a budding seamstress, sometimes the little details inspire and the rest of a project is built around it. How fun it was to step back in time, even if just for a moment. And it made me pause to think. What inspires new seamstresses these days? Only they can tell, but I think it would be so interesting to know!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Teapot Hostess and Kim

The traveling teapot went on a wonderful adventure today, but the teapot hostess forgot to take a picture to prove it. Instead, the beautiful October teacup at the table became the star and the little blue teapot took second place. Aren't the golden and yellow chrysanthemums on this porcelain cup beautiful?

The little blue teapot was gently packed into a tote today and rode along to a hotel in town to meet a guest from far-away Australia. The teapot hostess has been online friends with Australian Kim for several years, and it just so happened that Kim is on a world tour of agriculture with her husband. Amazingly, the town of the teapot hostess was on their itinerary. Kim, who just arrived from visiting castles, museums, and other points of interest in Holland, Germany, France, and England, was ready for a girls-day-out in America. The little blue teapot was carried in its tote to many interesting places around town: quilting shops, an antique mall, a gourmet kitchen shop, health food stores, and more. Eventually it arrived at a local tea room and was used to serve some delightful spearmint tea! It patiently brewed its gentle tea while teapot hostess and Kim shared in interesting conversation.

The little blue teapot is now packed back into the tote, washed and dried, awaiting its next adventure. It had a wonderful day!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Sweet Basil Jelly

The basil is mature and abundant, but frost is on its way. It's time to harvest and make it into something great for winter. How about. . .

Sweet Basil Jelly

1 1/2 cups basil leaves, lightly packed
2 cups water
2 Tbsp. vinegar
pinch of salt
3 1/2 cups sugar
6 ounces liquid pectin

Rinse basil, then chop coarsely in a food processor. Place in a large saucepan. Crush basil with the bottom of a glass. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and cover. Allow to stand for 15 minutes.

Strain half of the basil liquid through a sieve into a saucepan. Add vinegar, salt, and sugar. Bring to a hard boil, stirring constantly. Add pectin. Return to a hard boil and boil for one minute exactly. Remove from heat. Skim off the foam, then pour the jelly into sterilized jelly jars. Leave 1/2" of head-space. Add sterilized jar lids and process according to standard hot water bath method.

Makes 5 - 6 ounce jars.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Diana, Princess of Wales Rose

Autumn brings cooler weather, and the roses perk up, blooming like spring again for a few short weeks. Since the weatherman is predicting freezing nighttime temperatures, I decided to take some last pictures of my roses for this season. The Diana, Princess of Wales rose by my back porch is my all-time favorite. Its soft colors blend together beautifully and represent the "People's Princess" so well. Enjoy the last of the season as we look forward to the one ahead.

Click on the picture for a larger view.

Monday, October 05, 2009

October Snow

Experiencing snow during the first weeks of October is so unusual, I just had to take pictures to share! Otherwise, I'm afraid that some might just not believe me! Cold and white, it was a pleasant surprise! A week ago summer was here. After one week of autumn, wallah! Winter! Fortunately autumn has returned for awhile and we are experiencing sunny skies again. There's nothing like the beauty of a pristine, white world though. Everything is beautiful with SNOW!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Snowy Teapot

The traveling teapot had quite a surprise on its latest journey! It traveled up the mountain so it could serve tea on an autumn day, but as the elevation increased, it started to rain. Before long the rain turned to snow -- white, fluffy, sticky snow! The trees were soon coated with a layer so heavy it made them bow and drape. The dirt road turned white as it wound its way through the woods. The green gate at Cabin-Woods Road was coated with piles of white snow. Instead of serving up cups of spicy autumal tea, the traveling teapot was filled with a full-bodied, plain wintery tea instead. And --- before the traveling teapot left for the valley below --- five inches of snow adorned the table that was to be set for autumn tea. Snow!

Friday, October 02, 2009

The Traveling Teapot

Sweet friends --- blessings from above!

The traveling teapot arrived at my house, thanks to the generosity of Marilyn from Delights of the Heart. I'm excited to be its hostess for the month of October. There are seven traveling teapots, networking from tea-lover to tea-lover throughout the United States this year. The project was started by Bonnie in January. She sent seven women a 6-cup Friendship Teapot and 12 journals. During the month, each of these seven women are assigned the task of tea experiences, sharing tea from the teapot with friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Each participant is to record their tea experiences in the tea journal given. At the end of the month, the journals are mailed to Bonnie and the teapot is sent to a tea friend of the participants choice. Bonnie says she is doing this because she is curious about where the seven Friendship Teapots will travel and end up in December of 2009. At year's end, 84 women will have experienced tea with those around them (for numerous times, perhaps) and will have journaled about their experience. Doesn't this sound like fun? "My" teapot has already been to Marilyn, Nancy, Linda, Denise, Steph, and Phyllis --- all "tea friends" for many years. I'm still deciding where it will go next, but I have a few great ideas!

So what did my teapot experience yesterday? A dear friend, Hazel, and her daughter Kara, met me for lunch at the Olive Garden. I packed a tote bag with my teapot and a tin of peppermint tea and sweet leaf stevia. Over tea and lunch, we spent hours talking and planning and sharing together as we discussed Kara's upcoming wedding and all that needs done to make it a perfect day! What better way to break in a teapot than by wedding planning!

Stay tuned! My teapot will be going many more places with me this month, and I will be sure to share it's adventures here!