Life really can be a picnic!

Everyone loves a picnic! This blog is about some of the things I love the most, and the term "picnic" just about covers them all. First of all, a picnic has to include food; simple food that is easy to fix. Next, you need someplace fun or different to visit; a nice, peaceful location. And of course, you always need to take along a good book to read and a well-used quilt to spread everything out on. So, there you have it! Easy recipes, good books, fun quilts along with some interesting, down-to-earth places to visit. You can even take your family or a friend or two if you want.



Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lovely Lady

"To succeed in life you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone."~Reba McEntire



     This past week, my brother and sisters and I threw a big party to celebrate my Mom's 80th birthday.  It was a lot of work and we all helped.  Our spouses helped a lot also.   We invited cousins and relatives that she hadn't seen in many years.   I was barely able to finish the quilt that I made for her in time. The pattern is called Lovely in Lavender by Debbie Beaves.  Thanks to my friend, Marta, who machine quilted it for me and my friends, Sam, Marta, Marilyn and Mary Ann from quilt guild who helped me with the binding.  Like I've said before....There are no better people in the world than quilters.

     My mom loves reading and gardening.  She also loves to do word searches.  We had chicken salad sandwiches on croissants, salads and strawberry shortcake for dessert.  We served nearly a hundred people.  We enjoyed doing word searches and playing a few games of bingo.  We ended the evening watching a video that my nieces put together for the occasion.

 
 
 
 
 
 



Chicken Salad

4 cups chicken, cooked and cubed
1 cup celery, sliced thin
1 small can water chestnuts, diced
1 (20) oz. can pineapple tidbits, drained
2 cups grapes, red or green, cut in half
1 small can mandarin oranges, drained

Dressing:
1 ½ cups mayonnaise                         ½ tsp. curry powder
1 Tbsp. soy sauce                               1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. minced onion                         ½ cup cashews or almonds, chopped


Combine all salad ingredients, except mandarin oranges and mix together in large bowl.  Combine dressing ingredients except nuts and stir together.  Add dressing to salad mixture and stir.  Fold in mandarin oranges and nuts.  Serve on croissants or soft rolls.

 
     My mom likes to make these cookies for family get-togethers.  They are so yummy!


Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies


1 ¾ C. flour                                          ½ C. shortening

1 tsp. soda                                           ½ C. peanut butter

½ tsp. salt                                             1 egg

½ C. sugar                                           2 T. milk

½ C. brown sugar                                 1 tsp. vanilla

 
            Put all ingredients in mixing bowl and mix well.  Roll in walnut sized balls and bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 375° for 10-12 minutes.  Take from the oven and press chocolate kiss or star on top of each cookie while still hot.
 

 
     Like I said before, My mom loves to read and has inspired all of her children to love to read.  I do believe she was the one that introduced me to the Mrs. Pollifax books many years ago.  We all enjoy a good mystery and these books are great.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Historical July

"As we give, we find that sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven, and in the end, we learn it was no sacrifice at all."~ Spencer W. Kimball


"The first white men of your people who came to our country were named Lewis and Clark.  They brought many things that our people had never seen.  They talked straight.  These men were very kind."~ Chief Joseph.

 

     I'll be referring back to our family trip to Oregon once more.  We visited Fort Clatsop, a place where Lewis and Clark built a fort and named it after the Clatsop Indians who were friendly to them.  I have been intrigued with the Corp of Discovery, Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea lately.  We visited the Astoria Column, a structure that is 125 feet tall.  After climbing 164 steps, you have a beautiful view in every direction.  The column has a unique frieze cement artwork on the outer side which depicts the history of the area from Native American settlements to the coming of the railroad.  There is a beautiful statue of Lewis and Clark at the beach's edge near the condo where we stayed in Seaside.  This statue honors the traveling duo as they reached their goal in finding the Pacific Ocean.
 
Visitor's Center



Sacajawea


Fort Clatsop



Astoria Column
 



 
As I visited the Fort Clatsop Visitor's Center I had many questions about Lewis and Clark and the people they traveled with.  In order to answer some of those questions I purchased a book at about a fifth grade reading level.  The book was very informative and added to my curiosity about Sacajawea.  So when we got home I read this other book about her life and the great contributions she made to the success of the Corp of Discovery.  I loved learning about these brave people.
 
 

 
 
 
My neighbor and friend, Dana, gave me some cherries she picked from her relative's tree.  They were so good to eat by the handful.  We still had a few left so I put them in this recipe that my family enjoyed.  We also had homemade vanilla ice cream left over from our Fourth of July fun.  My motto is any dessert is better with ice cream on it.
 
 






 

Peach Cherry Dessert

3 (15 oz.) cans sliced peaches, drained                                 ½ cup butter, melted
½ tsp. almond extract                                                             1 cup flour
1 Tbsp. lemon juice                                                               ½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ cups fresh cherries, pitted                                               1 ½ cups quick oats
                                                                                                            Vanilla ice cream

Spray a 9x13” baking dish with cooking spray.  Place peaches in the dish.  Stir in almond extract and lemon juice.  Sprinkle the cherries on top of peaches.  Combine butter, flour, brown sugar and oats in a medium bowl.  Stir together using a fork.  Sprinkle this mixture over the top of the peaches.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.  Serves about eight.
 

     Here's a refreshing treat for a hot July evening.  Try a cherry chocolate milkshake.
 
Cherry Chocolate Milkshake
½ cup milk                                                       1 Tbsp. chocolate syrup
4 scoops vanilla ice cream                             5 pitted cherries
            Put ingredients in blender and process until smooth.  Makes two servings.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

June Fruit

"Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less."~C.S. Lewis


     While we visited Oregon this month, I found a cute quilt shop in Cannon Beach called Center Diamond.  They had some cute, beachy quilt patterns and fabric.

 





     I loved the lighthouse quilt patterns because we were able to hike to three different lighthouses.  The series of patterns that includes these lighthouses is called Sentries of Light.  Check out their website.  Here are pictures from some of the sights we saw.

Cape Mears Lighthouse

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse



Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Cannon Beach is also the home of the famous Haystack Rock where during low tide you can check out the amazing tide pools there.  I loved the colorful starfish.
 
Haystack Rock








     Summer is a time for strawberries and they just happen to be in season now.  Here are a couple of recipes that I tried out on my family this month and they gave them a thumbs up.




Strawberry and Yogurt Ice Pops
2 cups yogurt                                      1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 banana, sliced                                  ½ cup blueberries

     Put all ingredients in blender and blend until somewhat smooth.  Pour mixture into 10 to 12 small paper cups.  Put a popsicle stick in each cup.  Put in freezer and freeze for 5 hours.  To serve, peel off paper cup and enjoy.
 
 


     I got this recipe from Baking with Blondie.  This recipe also makes delicious cupcakes.

Strawberry and Yogurt Bundt Cake

1 cup butter, softened                                    ½ tsp. baking soda
2 cups sugar                                                     ½ tsp. salt
3 eggs                                                                1 cup yogurt
3 Tb, lemon juice, divided                             12 oz. fresh strawberries, diced
Zest of one lemon                                           1 cup powdered sugar
2 ½ cups flour, divided

     Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour 10” Bundt pan.  Sift together 2 ¼ cups of the flour, baking soda and salt.  Mix in the lemon zest and set aside.

     With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in 1 Tb. Lemon juice.  Alternate beating in the flour mixture and the yogurt.  Do not over mix.

     Toss strawberries with the remaining flour.  Gently fold them into the batter.  Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan.  Bake for 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean.

     Allow to cool at least 20 minutes.  Then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.  Whisk together the remaining 2 Tbs. of lemon juice and the powdered sugar.  Drizzle over the top of the cake.

 
 
     Along with all the strawberry recipes, here is a book called Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski.  It's another kid's book that I enjoyed reading.  It's about a family that moves to Florida in the early 1800's.  I enjoyed the accents of the different characters.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Summer Patches


“If you don't see the book you want on the shelves, write it.”
~
Beverly Cleary


“Problem solving, and I don't mean algebra, seems to be my life's work. Maybe it's everyone's life's work.” ~Beverly Cleary

 

“I had a very wise mother. She always kept books that were my grade level in our house.”~Beverly Cleary
 
 

 
     We just returned from vacation in Oregon.  We had a fantastic time there; spending time hiking in the woods and wandering on the beautiful beaches.  We drove through a quaint town, called Yamhill, that is near McMinnville.  The well-known children's author, Beverly Cleary was born in McMinnville and lived in Yamhill until she was six years old.  We found her childhood home in Yamhill.  We also came across this spectacular barn with 5 quilt blocks on it.





     We drove south to Tillamook and went to the cheese factory there.  A unique thing about the town of Tillamook is that many of the businesses there have a quilt block painted on them.  This is not only to promote tourism but to also remind the residents of Oregon of their great pioneering heritage and honor those who passed on their quilting skills to future generations.  I loved this!


 
 
 


















     In the car, I was able to finish binding this quilt, called Summer Patches by The Gingham Girls.





     A few years ago I read the autobiography of Beverly Cleary called A Girl From Yamhill.  I also enjoyed her second autobiography called On My Own Two Feet.  Her children's books are so fun to read to kids.  Those shown below are just a few of my favorites.