Thursday, October 28, 2010

Autumn Cookies with Chocolate Chips

It's recommended that we have a good source of Vitamin A every other day. It's best utilized by our bodies if the resource is cooked and served with some type of fat. Do you cook carrots or orange squash every other day? I don't, but resolve to do better. I'm quite sure my university sons aren't eating dark orange veggies every other day either. So, this evening I baked cookies to send to them. Vegan and filled with Vitamin A, I think they'll enjoy them. Here's the recipe if you'd like a sweet and tasty way to get your vitamins!
Autumn Cookies with Chocolate Chips

A delicious, moist cookie that freezes very well.

2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 (15 1/2 ounce) can solid pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
12 ounces vegan semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Cream the sugar, oil, pumpkin and vanilla together. Mix until well blended. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Stir the flour mixture into the creamed mixture. Stir gently until combined. Add the chocolate chips and walnuts. Mix together. Drop by teaspoonsful onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 12 - 15 minutes.

These cookies are delicious; cake-like and the type that melt in your mouth. I think their flavor would be enhanced by a pinch of salt in the recipe. Although this is not a gluten-free recipe, I think it would be very easily converted by the use of a gluten-free flour blend in place of the all-purpose flour. The walnuts in this recipe add Omega-3's to the diet, and of course we all know that the chocolate is very good for us and high in anti-oxidants!

*The gluten-free conversion works well. Sub your favorite gluten-free flour blend. Pamela's Ultimate Baking and Pancake (GF) Mix makes these into good cookies!

*If using fresh pumpkin, use the same amount but make sure it is quite 'dry'.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thinking Ahead to Trees for Spring

 Autumn is a good time of year to plant young trees because the weather is cool and crisp.  They have a chance to become established before the really cold weather arrives, and then they lay dormant during the frigid months of winter.  Many plant nurseries have their stock on sale this time of year as well, so those shopping for plants and trees can find some really great deals on some beautiful trees.  Here's a list of some ornamental trees that make a nice addition to a yard or garden.  Happy tree shopping!

~ Idaho Lucust in dark pink

~ Flowering Almond in pink or white

~ Dogwoods
~ Varigated Box Elder
~ Weeping Cherries

~ Weeping Crab Apples (the kind that doesn't drop fruit)

~ Weeping Larch (Tamarack)

And some flowering shrubs

~ Deutzia (soft and delicate in white or pinks)
~ Porcelain Vine (white and green leaves with berries that don't take over)
~ Mock Orange Vine

Sunday, October 24, 2010

An Autumn Pumpkin Smoothie

This is a favorite family recipe! For an 'on the go' breakfast, I serve these to my family in plastic, disposable cups with a straw. What a delicious way to get Vitamin A! This smoothie was garnished with pineapple mint and spearmint.

1 cup vanilla flavored soymilk
or other milk alternative
1 medium banana, frozen and broken into pieces
1/3 cup solid pack pumpkin

a dash of cinnamon

1/2 tsp. stevia (or to taste)

Place all the ingredients in a blender. Blend until very smooth. Delicious! 

Serves 2.

*if you don't have a frozen banana ready to to, use a fresh banana instead and add about 3/4 cup of ice cubes to the ingredient list.

Friday, October 22, 2010

To Take Charge of Happiness


"To invite a person into our house is to take charge of his happiness for as long as he is under your roof."  


*Thank you to a wonderful friend and neighbor for a delightful time under your roof!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Karleen's Little Cakes

Somehow during the pumpkin bouquet making process, Karleen became side-tracked with another project.   It is wonderful to spend time with a friend who is comfortable enough to follow her heart!  Not only did she have a great idea, but a yummy one as well!

Karleen made little, itty-bitty bite sized cupcakes!  They look complicated and difficult, but the process was actually quite simple.  Here's what she did:

1)  Bake a chocolate cake and let it cool.

2)  Crumble the cake into a mixing bowl and add one container of pre-made frosting.

3) Mix well and then roll the mixture into little balls, like truffles.  Then set aside.

4)  Then, melt some dark almond bark (chocolate).  Pour into candy molds that are shaped like cupcake papers or Reese's Peanut Butter bars.

5)  After cooling and hardening, place a small cake ball on top of chocolate base.

6)  Melt some white almond bark and add food coloring in your favorite color.  Dip the cake portion of the base into the melted almond bark mixture.

7)  Decorate with sprinkles, eatable glitter, or other decorations of choice.  Allow to cool

8)  Present on a pretty tray and garnish as desired.  Enjoy to the MAX!

Thanks for sharing a great idea, Karleen!  

PS:  Winnie has a great idea!  She just left this comment ~

"You might also just buy peanut butter cups and put the cupcakes on top and decorate them. I think I might have to try this. Thanks for sharing."

Someone Had a Birthday!

A trip to the beauty salon is  always an adventure, especially since the stylists are so friendly and like to have a good time.  Last week was AJ's 40th birthday, and everyone pulled together to plan a day of celebration at the beauty shop.  The theme was "rest in peace, youthfulness", although AJ still looks just as young as ever!  Black was the color of the day in balloons, streamers, attire, and table decor.  Cake and punch was served to all!  And somewhere in all the festivities some haircuts and manicures still occurred, but at a jolly pace on such a high day!  Happy Birthday, AJ!  Great job, Terri, Heidi, Toni, Corinna, Atina, Nancy, Shelley, and Rita!  You planned a great party!

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Flower Lady Gourd

I thought you might enjoy looking at an "autumn bouquet" from last year.   Karleen made this cute bouquet for Mrs. Flower Lady's birthday last year.  She used the same technique that we used for the pumpkin bouquets, but with a few different materials.  Instead of a pumpkin, Karleen used a decorative gourd for the base.  She covered the base completely with mums, stalk, asters, and boxwood.  The small, handle portion of the gourd became the head.  She attached flowers to the head to create a hat.  A ribbon around the next created a scarf and she was set to go.  A little imagination and a bit of time can work together provide a very rewarding and creative time!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bouquets for Autumn

Karleen and I  spent a day together recently when we made pumpkin bouquets.  I've shared the arrangements we made in a previous year, but I thought you might enjoy seeing this year's bouquets.  As usual, we started by raiding our flower gardens of any flowers we could find.  It's getting late in the season, but we found asters, mums, baby roses, and lavender.  We also added amaranth seed stems and rose hips this year.  Instead of the tiny decorative pumpkins, we decided use the larger sugar pumpkins that are generally used for pumpkin pies.  

Clippers, a drill, and some florist picks were added to our supply table.  While we were creating, Karleen got side-tracked by another project (which I will share another day), but we had a wonderful time chatting, creating, and sharing together.  Doing a project with a friend makes it so much more fun!

Our first arrangement is the one shown at the top of this post.  It consisted mostly of mums, rose hips, and dried seeds from plants in the yard.  We added a sheer ribbon for accent.  Some of the stems were difficult to get into the pumpkin, even with drilling, so we added floral picks and then were able to apply greater pressure with a pair of pliers.  Tools are so practical for flower arranging!  This arrangement went to Mrs. Flower Lady.  She lives down the road from Karleen and it was her eighty-second birthday.   

We decided to try something different for the second bouquet.  This time we cut the top off the pumpkin and hollowed out all the seeds.  A small piece of Oasis (floral foam that soaks up water) was cut to fit inside.  After a good soaking we put it in the pumpkin and started arranging.  Stems from a boxwood shrub created a triangle-shaped framework.  Then we added large stems of rose hips and clusters of mums.  Accent was provided with asters and baby roses.  The crowning piece to this arrangement was the addition of swags of amaranth.  They took the arrangement from traditional to just a bit quirky!  How fun!  All in all, a good time was had by all --- and I am already looking forward to NEXT autumn so we can do it again!

If you want a closer look at the collage or any of the other pictures, just click on them to enlarge. 

Grandma Kathrina's Pumpkin Pudding

October is a great month to share the recipe for Grandma's Pumpkin Pudding. It's an all-time family favorite. Yummy!

3/4 cup granulated sugar (Florida Crystals)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 - 15 oz. can pumpkin
12 oz. soy milk
2 - 3 Tbsp. cornstarch thinned with water

Mix all ingredients together in kettle and bring to a simmer. Add cornstarch, stirring constantly until well blended. Cook three minutes and remove from heat. Chill completely.

To serve, mix the pumpkin filling with equal amounts of non-dairy whipped topping. Spoon into parfait glasses and garnish as desired.

*This makes excellent pie filling as well.   Simply mix with non-dairy whipped topping (50/50) and spoon into a pre-baked pie shell.  Garnish as desired and serve.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Spicy Pumpkin Butter

It's that time of year again!  It's pumpkin season!  Here is a recipe for a deliciously spicy spread for toast on a chilly day!

Spicy Pumpkin Butter

In a crockpot, place:

3 large cans pumpkin, pureed
6 cups sugar (may substitute stevia and maple syrup)
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
4 - 6 cups water

Place all ingredients in large crockpot and whisk together until smooth. Place on low setting and cook until thick and creamy (about 24 hours). During the last hour or two, remove lid from crockpot to evaporate more of the liquid. Spoon into jars and lid until use.

Herbs in a Teacup

As autumn makes its presence known, the outside garden is changing its colors. Golds, reds, and oranges are starting to rim leaves on trees. A few brave roses, thankful for the cooler weather, are blooming with renewed energy. And the lawn is lush and green after hot summer days. Our first 'killing frost' usually arrives in mid-October. It's always a day of mourning for me, as I grieve the loss of roses, herbs, and green. This year I decided to extend the season as long as possible, and brought some of nature's herbs indoors!

A local plant nursery has all their plants on sale for half price. They are lush, full-grown, abundant, and fragrant! I bought a tray of fresh herbs and filled a giant teacup with sage, black pearl pepper, lemon thyme, stevia rebaudiana, and sweet basil. They grace my coffee table with beauty and energy. Their fragrance fills the air! When I want a bit more, a gentle rub between thumb and fore-finger enhances their smell and it's more delightful than any perfume. It is aromatherapy at its best! When dinner comes, a snip or two here and there add sweet or savory flavors to mealtime. Visual beauty, fragrant essence, and flavorful delight!

Better a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith. Proverbs 15:17

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fading Beauty

It looks like we avoided a hard frost last night, but just barely. Fog from the nearby rivers rolled in during the night, coating everything in a warm blanket in the early morning hours. The last of summer's beauty is fading slowly, with seeds, pods, and cones adorning plants. There are fewer and fewer flowers and buds in the garden. The roses that remain are looking leathery and worn. They are still beautiful, in their own way, of course. Preparations are being made for the cold winter months. Herbs are potted and have been put in a sheltered place so they can be clipped and trimmed for the last of fresh tisanes and spaghetti sauces! The squirrels are busy hiding seeds and nuts in interesting places in the yard. The schnauzers are going nuts themselves, as they can see them in the trees and will wait for hours at the tree base, just wishing they would come on down so they could chase! Can you see them waiting patiently in the picture? Saying good-bye to summer is always difficult, but winter creates an opportunity for spring to arrive with all things new. That is a precious gift to look forward to!

What are you doing to prepare for the winter months ahead?

Click on the photo for a larger view.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Only Count the Happy Hours

Little details make our home meaningful to us. Our space is where we create comfort, beauty, and a sense of place, not only for ourselves, but for our family and friends. These little details frequently extend to our outside environment: our yard and garden. Adding statues or sundials to our garden helps to create a point of interest, even during the cold months of winter. Imagine a sundial with snow gracing it's surfaces? Or a statue of a bunny hidden among a sleeping garden and covered with a coating of frost. Although the winter months have chased the garden into dormancy, the sundial still counts away the hours and adds center to the space. Have you ever given a sundial much thought? Although not very large, they are sturdy and enduring. Usually made of brass, they are a solid and timeless piece that counts the hours in the day. Generally sundials are enhanced by a verse that is added to it's face. Some are simple, like this one: "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be." Or this one: "I only count the happy hours." Sometimes the verse adds humor to the day of the reader. This verse is an example: "She doesn't say tick, she doesn't say tack, she has no bell, she has no beat, if the sun is shining she works, and if it's raining she stops." Isn't that the truth.

While we are speaking of happy hours, I would like to invite you to stop by a place where I am writing about children.  I'd enjoy your visit and if you'd leave a comment there, it would make me so happy!  

Be blessed today! 

PS:  Thanks for the head's up regarding the broken link.  It's fixed now.  Much appreciation to those who commented and let me know.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Happy Camper

Everyone has their own way of preparing for winter.  For my husband, a simple task like fabricating a new chimney for the cabin makes him a 'happy camper'.  As long as the wood stove can be cranked up to full heat and the cabin cozy, I'm happy too, especially if I have a fun needlework project nearby.  

With the arrival of autumn, hand-crafts and projects become more important, as gardening and summer chores wane.  My friends are pulling out their knitting, quilting, and sewing projects.  It's time for me to do the same.  A new idea, now and then, helps as well.  Look at these beautiful 'autumn leaf' wool felted pot holders!  They are simple, colorful, and easy to stitch.  While you are at the Design . Sponge blog be sure to take a look at their very creative project for a patterned tea lover's cup.  Cute, huh!  

If you have a second, I'd enjoy reading what types of projects you have planned as the weather gets chilly.  Please leave a comment so we can get the ideas flowing!

All of These

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong.  Because someday in your life you will have been all of these. 

~George Washington Carver ~

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Sip of Tea

"Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things."

Heather Marek

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Nature Hunt

Autumn is a great season for participating in nature activities with children.  The weather is cool, yet crisp and pleasant.  Foliage is turning shades of orange, red, and brown.  Flowers are going to seed, creating pods and seed packets that are interesting to touch and see.  It is a fantastic season to explore nature with children.  

Here’s a fun game to do outside with children.  Use a word, such as CREATION, and have the children find or see an object from nature that starts with each letter found in that word.  For example ~

C = cattail
R = rabbit
E = egg shell
A = apple
T = tree
I = insect
O = olive leaf
N = nectar

The children can document their findings in a nature journal where they can draw, gather, write about, or photograph the items they found.  When one word is completed, move on to another like NATURE, WILDLIFE, or FOREST.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stitched On! Blue!

 "In the last room a young woman in a gown of deepest garnet-red was seated upon a wooden stool with her back to the window. She was sewing. Spread out around her was a vast and magnificent piece of embroidery. Reflections of its rich hues danced upon the walls and ceiling. If she had held a molten stained-glass window in her lap the effect could not have been more wonderful."

Susanna Clarke

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pita Crisps and Canister Blue

Pita Crisps

4 - 6 mini-pita breads, split
6 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. garlic powder
Dash of cayenne
1 tsp. cumin
Stir together olive oil, garlic powder, cayenne and cumin. Split open pitas and brush with the oil and seasoning mixture; cut each into 4 wedges.  Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until crisp.  Can be stored in an air-tight container or canister.  Serve with dips, spreads, soups and salads.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Come, Rest Awhile

Come, rest awhile, and let us idly stray
In glimmering valleys, cool and far away.

Come from the greedy mart, the troubled street,
And listen to the music, faint and sweet,

That echoes ever to a listening ear,
Unheard by those who will not pause to hear­

The wayward chimes of memory's pensive bells,
Wind-blown o'er misty hills and curtained dells.

One step aside and dewy buds unclose
The sweetness of the violet and the rose;

Song and romance still linger in the green,
Emblossomed ways by you so seldom seen,

And near at hand, would you but see them, lie
All lovely things beloved in days gone by.

You have forgotten what it is to smile
In your too busy life ­come, rest awhile. 

Lucy Maud Montgomery

A Thank You & Blog Hop!

If you are a blogger, you know that 'dry spells' occur occasionally, and works and ideas just don't seem to flow from keyboard to computer screen. After nearly six years of blogging and more than 3,500 posts, this writer hit a major creative roadblock!  Blog posts on Gracious Hospitality this summer have been few and far between.  Thankfully inspiration is returning and ideas are starting to flow again, so maybe, just maybe, posting will resume on a more scheduled basis . At least that is my intent.  It's pretty easy to think that after a period of silence, your blogging friends will forget you and move on to more interesting places to read and share their friendship.  But through it all there have been some faithful blogging friends who have encouraged me by their continued comments whenever I did develop a post.  Their messages of affirmation have meant so much to me, and I would like to say THANK YOU to them for their gracious words of encouragement to keep on writing!  

Let's go on a blog-hop so you can meet just a few of these encouraging  bloggy friends!

Susan from Writing Straight from the Heart has been a most faithful encourager.  She has stuck by from one sparse post to the next, always giving an encouraging word or thought.  Thank you, Susan, from the bottom of my heart.  I cannot adequately express how encouraging you have been to me.  Readers, please stop by Susan's beautiful blog.  Her blog is a place of beauty that flows with the seasons.  I think you'll enjoy her inspiring words and photos, as I have!

And there is Bernideen.  I love her name and like to say it several times so that the syllables roll through my tongue several times.  Bernideen is a 'tea lady' who writes from her lovely tea shop in Colorado.  She is a kindred spirit when it comes to porcelain china and creativity.  She always has a kind word and her gentle spirit is expressed sweetly through picture and word.   Her faithful comments are some that have kept me blogging along.  Thank you, Bernideen! You can visit her here at Bernideen's Tea Time Blog.  If you visit soon, you'll hear a gentle song by Willie Nelson to soothe your day.  Moonlight in Vermont. . .

Then there is Vee.  She is quintessentially northeastern, terrifically creative, and authentic to the core.  I love her ability to ask a simple question about a blog post that rocks me to the bottom of my socks!  She pays attention and I love that!  Her words are always encouraging and her faithfulness blesses me.  You can visit her at A Haven for Vee, and be sure to tell her I sent you!  

I have been fortunate enough to meet two bloggers from my own neck of the woods.  I've shared tea with both of them and we have bonded as bloggers and friends.  Marilyn writes at Delights of the Heart.  She is always a delight!  Marilyn is a woman who gets things done!  And whatever she sets out to do, she does with creative energy and focus!  I have learned a lot from her !  I am inspired by her vision as she sees the world through the eye of her camera.  I also admire her perspective as she shares about her outlook on life.  She chooses a 'word' each year to focus on.  This year the word is JOY --- and that's what she brings to my life!  I really appreciate you, Marilyn.  Thank you for helping to keep me focused!  The other encouraging blogging friend from my neck of the woods is Clarice.  If you have ever read Storybook Woods, you'll know already that Clarice epitomizes authenticity, uniqueness, and extreme creativity!  Her home in real life IS a storybook house in the woods!  Walking into her home is like stepping into the house of Louisa Mae Alcott's Little Women!  Clarice's daughter's complete the role, as they are like characters from the same.  But never fear, Clarice's husband has a wonderful "man den" that doubles as a library and retreat.  I am especially proud of Clarice because this year she published her first novel and she has done a lovely job of expressing who she is and what homemaking means to her through the life of Wren Bay.  Clarice especially inspires me because she has dyslexia, but she didn't let that stop her from reaching for the stars and achieving her dream of becoming the published author of a charming book! Congratulations, Clarice, and thank you for being the positive example you are!

And last, but not least, I would like to thank Paula for always encouraging me to keep on blogging.  Paula doesn't have a blog, but she has a lovely gift and antique shop that I love to visit!  She encourages me to keep on posting, shares ideas with me, and lets me take pictures of her lovely vignettes to my heart's content.  Without her constant encouragement, I think blogging would be a little duller for me.  So, thank you to Paula as well!

I hope you enjoy the blog-hop to a few of my friends who have left such encouraging comments to posts in the past few months.  On another day, I will take you on a trip to visit a few others who have encouraged as well.  Enjoy your day!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

It's Time for Pumpkin Bouquets!

  Yesterday I sent Karleen an email, saying that it was time for us to make pumpkin bouquets again.  In a previous autumn I received a phone call from her, saying that she was working on a birthday gift for her friend and wondering if I would like to come and make one too. It sounded so interesting because she said the process used pumpkins, an ice pick, and fresh flowers. I remember thinking that 'housework could wait'! I gathered my kitchen shears and a container and went out to my flower garden to see what I could contribute to the flower craft.

When I got there, Karleen had small pumpkins set out on her counter and some sharp tools so we could poke holes in the pumpkin to stick flower stems into.

Roses, lavender, mums, and amaranth, provided us with more than enough blossoms. Although we've had our first frost, there were enough nice flowers left for this fun project.

Karleen and I each used a different method of tackling our project. I started at the top, creating a cascading effect in an asymmetrical way. Karleen chose to select points at strategic places equal distance from one another all the way around her pumpkin. Her approach was quite symmetrical and balanced. Both methods created fun and pretty pumpkin bouquets. I couldn't help but think how each style reflected our personalities and the way we approach life. I have learned much over the years from my friend about balance and how to tackle a project. Karleen is the one who always finishes a project before she starts the next one; I tend to have a dozen projects going on at once and sometimes some get forgotten before I complete them. I am trying to be more like my friend in this regard!

At first it was difficult to know how to deal with flower buds that were taller than others on the pumpkin surface. I finally decided to embrace the difference in height, making it part of the balance and decor.

As time went on, I admit to becoming a little bit outlandish with the heights, but I was satisfied with the end result. Bunches of lavender poking out from the sides, and cascading amaranth gave a very eclectic feel to my bouquet.

It was hard to get enough leverage with the ice pick once we had flowers on the top. So, Karleen found her husband's drill and it worked perfectly in making holes at the base of the pumpkin so we could finish our project. Thanks, Richard! I hope we didn't leave any pumpkin pulp on the drill bit!

Drinking glasses provided as base and height as we neared the completion of our projects. It was easier to see and work with the pumpkin bouquet raised to near eye-level.

  This was my finished pumpkin bouquet; bright colors, sprigs of lavender, and dangling amaranth set in a base of miniature roses and mums.

Karleen's bouquet was soft and sweet with the addition of a strand of mini-pearls on top. Her arrangement is beautiful and is now gracing the home of "the flower lady" down the street. Happy Birthday, flower lady!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Cultivated Gardens of Autumn

Observing the color and beauty of cultivated gardens is beautiful in any season, but nature creates effective scenes when it contrasts bright flowers with dry terrain and the fading beauty of late summer plants.  No longer fresh and prolific, greenery is turning sparse and dry, but it only lends accent and focus to the flowers who bow their heads to all who pass by.  Take a moment today to enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds you.  Even a tiny flower poking its head up through a crack in the sidewalk can bring a smile to your face on a day like today!  Be blessed and go, take on the day! 

Click on the picture for a closer look!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A Simple Rag Rug

 Are you one who appreciates things of the past?  Or have you noticed how some things that were common and practical are now obsolete, but appreciated by those 'in the know'?  I think that rag rugs fall into this category.  Authentic rag rugs are hard to come by these days.  Replicas can be bought in country-themed shops, but they are usually fastened by monofilament threads that stitch the knotted strips together rather than hooking and looping for one-piece fabrication.  Monofilament threads break apart over time and the rug falls apart.  In comparision, crocheted rag rugs will withstand hard use and many washings.  The art of rag rugs making made a come-back in the 1970's and I remember my mother skillfully creating one that she used on her stoop for years to come.  But hers were nothing in comparison to Grandmother's magnificent rag rugs made from wool scraps.  They were large enough to visually anchor a dining room table and chairs, or to fill the space in front of a hearth in the family room.  Mother's were a recreation.  Grandmother's were authentic to the core.  Such beauty, warmth, and grace they added to her home.  The art is not to be lost!  Simple projects, like chair pads or small rugs for the front door can still be made.  Scraps of cotton or wool can be saved from other projects and successfully used for rag rugs over time.  Old garments, recycled for a project like this, cut costs and save resources.  Essentially any type of fabric will work, but natural fibers, like cotton and wool, will provide the most enduring value and effectiveness when it comes to the helping the rug achieve its duty as welcome mat and cozy covering.

If you would like to try your hand at this art, instructions can be found here.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Autumn Campfire

It's a happy autumn day when a journey takes you to the mountaintop. It's even happier when friends meet you there. Autumn colors, cloudy skies, and a warm campfire invite conversation and friendship. Having frisky canines visit as well adds a bit of spice to the day! Getting them to slow down for a photo op was neigh impossible! Soup, salad, and fresh bread around the table after darkness fell provided nourishment as we shared stories and experiences around the supper table. Late in the night our friends drove down the mountain to their home in the valley. We slept and awoke to the sound of bugling elk from one ridge to the next. A cozy campfire to ward off the morning chill provided cheer and warmth. Days spent in nature provide respite and reprieve from the daily home routine. Of course all cannot be calm and peaceful! In the morning, not far from the fire pit, a large cougar claw was found sitting right on top of the ground! Fresh, broken, sharp, and large --- it reminds us that vigilance is always key when surrounding yourself with the elements of the natural world! Would you like to read more about cougars? They are abundant on our mountaintop, so such reminders are something to heed.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Cashew Stuffing in Winter Squash

Cashew Stuffing in Winter Squash

1 cup diced sweet onions
1 cup finely diced celery
1/3 cup parsley
1/2 cup sliced black olives
3 quarts cubed bread, toasted (gluten free if necessary)
2 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup chicken style broth*
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped raw cashews (oven roasted)

1. Mix all ingredients together.

2. Stuff into a whole, half-baked pumpkin or winter squash that has 
been cleaned out inside.

3. Bake 45 minutes at 350 F. Continue baking until pumpkin is tender 
when poked with a fork.

4. Makes a beautiful, edible center-piece for your autumn dinner table.

*For chicken style broth, add 1 tsp chicken style seasoning to 1 cup water.  
May use water or vegetable broth.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

A Journey

It's a beautiful day for a drive.  What's on your agenda for the day?  
Enjoy autumn while it's here!

“People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars – and they pass by themselves without wondering.”
~ St. Augustine ~

Proverbs 7:19 says "for the goodman is not at home, he is gone on a journey."

Friday, October 01, 2010


Paula always creates beautiful vignettes in her shop and I always enjoy observing the creative scenes she puts together whenever I stop by. On a recent visit, all things blue seemed to call my name. Blue plates, blue tea towels, blue vanity sets, blue picture frames, blue boxes, and more blue, blue, blue. Blue beauty all around.

All this reminds me of a song.  Do you know it?

Blue, blue, my world is blue
Blue is my world now I'm without you
Gray, gray, my life is gray
Cold is my heart since you went away

When we met how the bright sun shone
Then love died, now the rainbow is gone

Black, black, the nights I've known
Longing for you so lost and alone
Gone, gone, the love we knew
Blue is my world now I'm without you.

I hope your day is blue in all the happy ways!  Happy week-end!