Monday, December 28, 2009

Good mornin' all....

Just a couple more Christmas pictures to share with you...Harley and Clyde (he's up on the fireplace) checkin' out the packages under the tree on Christmas Eve!  They just know there is something under there for them!!  And they were right....but I think once again, they were more impressed with the pretty packages, empty boxes and wrapping paper, than with their little pressies!
We had a wonderful Christmas!  We went to Christmas Eve candlelight service at church, then to my moms then back home to celebrate with Briar, Ely and Liz.
This was too cute....this bundle of switches was left at Grandma's from "Santa" (my brother) for my nephews.  I really think this was their favorite gift because I think they thought it was for them to use on others who misbehaved!  It was all in fun!  They couldn't wait for the bundle to be opened to divide them up!! LOL
Christmas Day we spent at home....the snow had started after a couple days of rain so that made for a nice mess on the roads!  I cooked supper for some family and friends then we all played a trivia game. 
Now here it is Monday....John is back to work with a slight chance of being home for NewYears.
Back to work for me today, too so I'd better get off this machine and get busy!!!

I hope you had an awesome Christmas spent with family and friends.
 I wish you many blessings for the coming new year!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Holidays!  Yes, I'm still here....I can't believe it's been over a week since my last post....just been busy or too tired to sit at this computer for very long!  Between the working, shopping, making goodies.....keeps a girl pretty busy and not much time for the fun stuff like forums, face book and blogs!! 
I got to be seamstress and waitress today!  HA! Never in my life did I ever think I'd be a waitress but I've been helpin' out from time to time up at a little restraunt in town!  So now back home, thought I'd take a little break before starting in on some goodie making!  One of my sisters shared a recipe for Cookie Dough Truffles so that's top of the list!  So far, I've made deer summer sausage, deer jerky, cashew brittle & peanut clusters...things that will be fine sitting for a few days...and sugar cookie dough is mixed and in the frig! 
Well, time to get busy...I hope to post tomorrow....I don't have to get out quite as early so maybe I'll get back to my morning routine of coffee/computer time!
Hope you are having a great week!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

From the kitchen...

Hello All!  I hope you had a GREAT weekend!!  I thought I'd share a few things from the kitchen today! 
This is my little Santa small german twig tree in one of my old crocks and its branches loaded  with lots of handmade Santa ornaments....

Homespun candlelight....wrapped red homespun and stained cheesecloth around a couple of old tin cups...

There are a few other things scattered here and there and I'll try to post more over these next few days!
If you are like me, when the holidays roll around, you do more making of sweets and treats than what you normally do.  I'm always looking for new recipes...especially cookies, candies or desserts!
Over the weekend, I spent some time with a stack of cookbooks, making notes of what recipes in which books I want to try and making a list of ingredients for the grocery store.
Something I've not ever tried making before but I do enjoy having just a couple of pieces each year, if/when I can find them on anyones holiday treat tray, is divinity.  There is a lady at church that used to bring it to the womens Christmas gathering and I remember my Grandpa Summers making it, however, I never got to see him make it, nor do I have his recipe, so now I'm on a quest to find it! Yes, I found a recipe in one of my books, and I may have to use it if I'm going to make it this year, but I still want his recipe!

A recipe I want to share with you today is for Caramel Corn....if I'm going to make it, it's usually at holiday time. I've made lots of it over the years but it wasn't until this recipe that I feel like I finally got it right!  It's a recipe from one of our church cookbooks so who knows where it originally came from.

Caramel Corn
5-6 quarts popped corn
1 cup butter or oleo
2 cups brown sugar firmly packed
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Combine sugar, butter, syrup and salt in heavy 2 quart pan, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Continue to boil to firm ball stage (248 degrees).  Remove from heat and add baking soda, syrup will form.  Stir to mix well.  Pour hot mixture over popped corn and mix well.  (Helps to have corn in large, long cake pan rather than deep pan.)  Put in 250 degree over, 45-50 minuets, up to 1 hour.  Stir now and then.  As it cools, continue to stir frequently.  Store in air tight container.

Cindy note:  I use 6 or 7 quarts popped corn and I use butter. I will also go ahead a salt it a little bit.
 I also add a can of mixed nuts. 
If you don't want mixed nuts, you can use peanuts or almonds...whatever you like.  I just mix them in with the popcorn right before adding the syrup mixture.

I like to put a generous amount in a cellophane bag and tie with holiday ribbon!   Or fill a bag then place in a tin, box or carton!  Makes for a nice little extra giftie!  Who doesn't like homemade caramel corn? And with nuts?!  YUM!

So what goodies are on your list for the holidays?  Even though my boys are 19 and 22 now, they still like the treats....decorated sugar cookies, special K treats and fudge...chocolate, peanut butter..... I'm going to try peanut butter fudge yet again....letting it boil just a little bit longer....seems it's always too soft!  I tried it once using the peanut butter chips as with the chocolate fudge recipe I use but it just didn't work for the peanut butter as it did the chocolate!  Anyone out there with a tip or two?  And speaking of fudge....I remember my Grandma Prewitt making a Boston Cream Fudge... searching the recipe files of aunts and cousins until I find her recipe for that!!  I tried a Maple fudge one year...same as peanut butter...needed to boil longer or something....Oh my!  I think I've gained 10 pounds just by writing about all this fudge and candy!
Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Living Room Tree...

Okay...I spent my yesterday afternoon, taking down the bigger tree in the living room. 
Thanks to the younger cats, there were flattened branches, broken ornaments and stray hooks, bead garland drooping in all the wrong places and gold ting scattering the floor!
So as I watched the movie, "Julie & Julia"...which, was great!, by the way....I took everything off the tree and started all over!  And here it is.....

This tree is filled with all kinds of ornaments...from handmade to store bought.  There are a few of my own handmade ones, but many others I received in swaps over the years.  There are regular Christmas bulbs and other store bought ones.  There are ornaments  made and/or bought and given to the boys when they were younger and there are also the priceless ones...those made by the boys, when they were much, MUCH younger, either at school or at our kitchen table when they wanted to work alongside me!
There are even a few pressies wrapped and under the tree!  I've taken Harley's nappin' spot....

This is where he'd usually spend his afternoon since putting the tree up.....but he's found another the old rocker next to the fireplace, which is where he is at right now!
I've found only a couple ornaments out of place this morning... I'm sure they will continue to slap at ornaments, as Salem still does from time to time....but let's hope they stay OUT of the tree so the branches will stay poofy!  Someone told me they spritzed their cat with water to stay out of their tree and it worked but then they found poo on the floor!  Hmm.... so did it really did work?!

 I'm contemplating a little trip over to our Amish community....can't's so nice and warm here in the house and the thought of going out in the cold for something that really can wait til a regular errand day...hmm...I don't know!  Maybe I'll stay in where it is nice and warm...get the chores done that need doing then settle down with some stitching and a cup of tea!  Yeah, I know, I'm such a coffee drinker...but every once in awhile, I like a nice cup of hot tea!

Hope you are having a great weekend!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Two Weeks 'til Christmas!!!

YIKES!  I'm SO not ready!  I've done a little bit of shopping but far from having it all done!  Not to mention the goodies that need to be made! I don't think I'm going to make as much as I did last year.  I think I will keep it simple this year!

Well, they are far from magazine worthy but I thought I'd still share with you a few photos of some of the things I put up around the house to bring in the holiday spirit!

And the stockings were hung.....I found these stockings last year at Arnett's Country Store in West Frankfort, IL....awesome little primitive shop!  If you like primitives and handmades and you are ever over that way, you MUST go visit!

The snowmen on the left are two that I wouldn't trade for anything.....

They were made by my boys...gosh, way back in kindergarten!  That's been a few years ago!

This is one of the trees in the living is filled with handmade ornaments that I've either, made, bought or received in swaps over the years!  I had to totally redo this tree last week...the day that I had our womens group from church over, I found it laid on it's side, compliments of the two younger cats, and looking pitiful, lights when I set it back up, I set it up on an old crate filled with lighted greenery....and for some strange reason, this has kinda kept the younger cats out of it.

They're not showing up very well, but along with the snowman bowl, on each side of it are little pinecone trees made by the boys back in their kindergarten days...they've gotten a little rough around the edges over the years but little decorations that will stay in my collection forever!

And check this potpourri that I found last year at The Old Homestead...a neat primitive shop over in Mt. Vernon, IL.

And it sets on this little wool penny rug. I made this using a pattern from the book Pennyrugs & Pillow Thangs by Sew Unique Creations!

Well, I think that's all that I'll post for today.  I'll share more in a couple days! I haven't decided if I'm going to share photo's of my main living room tree.  For some reason, the younger cats won't stay out of it! It looks so pitiful right now that I should really just take it apart and start all over with it!  Since I get to stay home today, maybe I'll do just that while I watch the movie 'Julie & Julia'!

Have a great day!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

CNN's Bob Greene Article.....Back Pack Program

I received this in an email from my sister last week and thought I'd share it with you.  An awesome sounding program and I can't believe that I hadn't heard about it as it's right here in our own community!  I know it's rather lengthy, but it is SO worth reading!

106 backpacks for the children of Moberly

By Bob Greene, CNN Contributor

November 22, 2009 8:12 a.m. EST
Bob Greene tells a story of need -- and of sharing -- in Central Missouri.

Central Missouri town of Moberly has program to help children fight hunger

Backpacks of food are placed in school hallways for kids to take home

Last year, 34 backpacks were needed; this year, need tripled, school staffer says

He says in some places, parents are too proud to admit their kids are hungry

Editor's note: CNN Contributor Bob Greene is a best-selling author whose new book is "Late Edition: A Love Story."

(CNN) -- Every Friday afternoon, the backpacks are placed carefully on the floors of the hallways in the elementary schools of Moberly, Missouri.

There are 106 of them: 106 backpacks, each of them with no child's name and with no individual owner.

The backpacks tell a story that can both break your heart and make your heart swell with admiration.

And if you ever had any doubt about what the financial mess in the United States is doing to families across the country ...

Well, those 106 backpacks in Moberly will erase those doubts pretty quickly.

"We're a rural community," said Mark Penny, the superintendent of the Moberly Public Schools. "We're pretty much in the middle of the state."

The backpacks are there because Penny and his staff know that without them, the children for whom they are intended might go hungry between the last bell of the day Friday and the first bell Monday morning.

The backpacks -- property of the school -- are filled with food.

The idea is that, when those 106 children leave class on Friday afternoons, they will pick up the backpacks, sling them over their shoulders and casually walk out of the school with their classmates.

The idea is that the children who need the food -- they range in age from kindergartners to fifth-graders -- will blend in with the hundreds of other boys and girls who get enough to eat at home and that the 106 children will feel no stigma.

"We serve breakfast at school, and we serve lunch," said Francine Nichols, the school staff member in charge of the backpack project. "But we began to realize that some of these children go home to houses where they literally may not eat over the weekend. And we couldn't just sit back and not do anything to help them."

So, three years ago, the backpack program started. When the school senses that a child is chronically hungry -- "A lot of times, they just tell their teacher," superintendent Penny said -- the parents are contacted. If the parents are willing to accept the help, the children are told privately that a backpack will be waiting in the hallway Friday afternoon.

"We'll fill each backpack with soup, with ravioli in a can, with canned fruit, with cereal bars, with juice," Francine Nichols said. "We make sure that the food is the kind that a young child can prepare himself or herself, if need be. Because some of these children live in single-parent homes, and when that parent works, not only does it mean that there may not be enough food in the house, but there may not be anyone to fix the meal for the boy or girl."

Moberly is far from the only school district in the country to have a program like this. Quietly, they exist all over the nation. The first one that is often cited was organized in the 1990s by a hunger-relief group known as the Arkansas Rice Depot.

The weekend-food programs are not run by the federal government but by local communities that simply can't stand the idea of children going without enough food.

And in Moberly, the need has increased in the past year, with the national recession and high unemployment.

"The economy has not exactly been a blessing to families lately," Nichols said. "Last November, we had 34 children for whom we prepared the backpacks every Friday. This November it is 106. So that tells you something."

There are some weeks, she said, when she goes to the school storeroom to fill the backpacks, "and I don't know how there will be enough food."

Much of it is provided by the Central Missouri Food Bank in Columbia, 30 miles away. That agency's executive director, Peggy Kirkpatrick, said that one year in one town -- not Moberly -- a 9-year-old boy took a backpack of food home each Friday but admitted to his teacher that he wasn't eating it all. When the teacher asked him why, the boy said:

"Because Christmas vacation is coming."

He was saving the food. He was hoarding it, because he wanted to make it last over the two weeks away from school.

Kirkpatrick said that in some cities, there have been cases where "the pride factor among some parents is so great that they would rather let the child go hungry than accept the backpack." She said, with a mixture of sadness and anger in her voice, that she is also aware, in some cities, of parents taking the food from their children and eating it themselves -- or selling it for drugs.

But in Moberly, Francine Nichols said, some parents whose children have been helped by the backpack program contact the school when they have found work again and say that because they are back on their feet, they no longer need the assistance. "And then they begin to provide food for the program; they bring food to school to help other children," Nichols said.

It's not difficult for a teacher to know when a child comes to school hungry, she said: "Sometimes a girl in kindergarten will take another child's lunchbox. Sometimes a child will go through the trash looking for food."

Superintendent Penny: "A third-grader can be bluntly honest and tell the teacher what is in the cupboard or icebox at home. And, more to the point, what's not there."

Central Missouri is in the breadbasket of the nation, part of a region that produces corn, wheat and soybeans -- seemingly a place of plenty. But there's a lesson in that, Penny said; he said that for anyone around the U.S. who is reading these words and is tempted to assume that this kind of hunger only happens somewhere else:

"Don't assume."

Nichols said: "If people think that children aren't hungry in their community, they're fooling themselves. You just want so badly for these children to go home for the weekend not worrying about whether there will be enough to eat, and to come to school on Monday morning ready to learn."

Meanwhile, with Thanksgiving coming up, next weekend will be a long one.

And so those 106 backpacks will be a little heavier this week.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Bob Greene.

Monitor your heart daily to avoid wandering from God's wisdom!

The Moberly School District Back Pack Program is looking for back packs that can be used when providing kid friendly food to its students who may need food over weekends or holidays. If you have any back packs, duffle bags, etc... that you are not using and would like to donate, please let me know. They do not have to be new, they will be washed.

See this link for more info on the program.

Here is some more information about this program from the Central Mo Food Bank which supplies the food used in this program.
I just about lost it when I came to the Christmas vacation part of the article!  To think of all the food that goes in the trash or down the garbage disposal just here in my own home!  I won't even tell you what I had to throw out when I cleaned out my refrigerator just yesterday!  I think we all want to believe that this happens elsewhere....never in our own cities, communities, schools.

Even though our church collects for the local food bank, I don't always get things taken in.  After reading this article, I will make a better effort in remembering to do that and I know that I will be putting a few extras in my grocery cart over these coming weeks and plan to continue to do so even after the holidays and thru the coming year for this  back pack program.

Blessings to you and yours this holiday season!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Winner of the Snowman Head is.....

.....DEBRA!...of Pilgrims & Pioneers! me your shipping info and I will get this guy right out to you!!
Thanks to everyone who posted comments and left little holiday tidbits!!  I will probably use some of them in my blogging over the couple weeks!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I didn't realize it had been so many days since my last post!  We spent the day with John's family as his Mom and Dad leave the day after to winter in Texas so Thanksgiving has become our holiday gathering time.  Oh...the best part?  John got to be home afterall...won't go into all the boring details...just the life of an over-the-road driver!

We finally lit the fireplace...the Christmas trees are up...and I rented the movie 'My Sister's Keeper' the other night and have yet to watch it so I think I'm gonna go curl up in my chair next to the fire, get some needlework and watch the movie!

Hope you are having a nice relaxing evening!!