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.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Home for Christmas

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." -- Isaiah 9:6

     Christmas is sneaking up on us quickly.  As a mother, I get nervous that I am forgetting something or someone.  As carefully as I plan each year, something is always left undone.  I can only hope that it won't be something too pertinent.

     I love to collect nativities.  The smallest one I have was given to me by a scout leader friend and is carved from a golf ball. 

      My wonderful neighbor, Pam, made a nativity ornament for me this year that is so simple and beautiful.  It's made from three clothes pins.  She also crafted a larger nativity for me--so simplistic, yet so beautiful.

     After being in my closet for more than five years, I finally set a goal to finish my nativity quilt.  The pattern is from Art to Heart.  I'm so glad I finished it!

     I love the short story, The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry.  If you have time, read it to your family this year during the holiday season.  It's such a sweet story.

My family likes this recipe for Italian Pork Chops.  It looks fancy when you use the bow tie pasta.

Italian Pork Chops

6 pork chops                                                    1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. olive oil                                                ½ tsp. dried oregano

1 medium onion, chopped                                 ½ tsp. dried basil

2 garlic cloves, minced                                     ½ tsp. Italian seasoning

1-7 oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained            1/8 tsp. pepper

1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes                          ½ green pepper, diced

1-8 oz. can tomato sauce

            In a large nonstick skillet, brown pork chops on both sides in oil; remove from skillet.  Add the onion and the garlic; saute for 5 minutes or until tender.  Add the mushrooms, tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, oregano, basil, pepper and green pepper; mix well.  Return pork chops to skillet; spoon some sauce over pork chops.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until meat is tender.  Serve with bow tie pasta or pasta of choice.  Makes 6 servings.

     I make M&M Cookies at least once during the holidays.  They are very festive and are great neighbor gifts.  I got the recipe from one of my college roommates.

M&M Cookies

1 cup shortening                                                            2 1/2 cups sifted flour

1/2 cup sugar                                                                 1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup brown sugar                                                          1 tsp. salt

2 eggs                                                                          1 ½ cups plain M&Ms

2 tsp. vanilla

            Cream shortening, sugars, eggs, and vanilla thoroughly.  Sift together flour, soda, and salt.  Add dry ingredients gradually to creamed mixture; mix well.  Stir in ½ C. M&Ms; reserve remaining for top.  Put on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  (For higher elevations add a little more flour.)
                     I wish all of you and your families a very Merry Christmas!!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Tradition

"Without the assistance of that Divine Being ... I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well."--Abraham Lincoln

     Why is it that the Christmas traditions my family likes best are also the ones that are the most work?  Sometimes a compromise is needed.  That is why we make gingerbread houses every other year instead of every year.  We definitely don't need all that candy around every December.  This year was the year of the gingerbread houses.  For some reason it didn't seem like such a chore this year and I surely enjoyed watching my 4 year old grandson decorate his half of the house. 

The best part of gingerbread houses is the smell.  The whole house smells of gingerbread for the whole month of December.  My sister-in-law gave the recipe and the pattern for the house to me quite a few years ago.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?  I would love to hear them.
My friend Mary Anne invited me to be her guest at the Tooele County Quilt Guild Christmas party.  It was a fun event where gifts were exchanged, a nice lunch was served and a guest speaker came and did a trunk show.  The guest was Amy McClellan from American Quilting.  She has some beautiful patterns.  I discovered that I already own two of them.  I just need to get busy and sew them.  Here are a few of my favorites that were shown.

The Quilt Guild women were given a challenge to make a quilt that included a Santa, a Christmas tree or both.  Here are some of their creations.

You can see why it was such a great day.
If you have never read the book  The Best Christmas Pageant Ever  you will need to find a copy and have yourself an enjoyable read. 

December is the month for simple, easy meals that can go on the table in a jiffy.  French Bread Pizza is one of those meals.  We cut a loaf of french bread down the center, open it up, put it on a baking sheet lined with foil, add some canned spaghetti sauce and then add our favorite pizza toppings.  Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 375 degrees.  Yum!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy Cyber Monday!

"If you are too big to do little things, you are probably too little to be trusted with big things."--Amish Proverb

     If there is anything that I dislike, it is probably Black Friday.  I really hate it when it encroaches on Thanksgiving Day.  I think I would rather pay triple the normal price for an item than to go out in crowds of unruly, greedy people to get a "good deal".  However,I kind of enjoy looking online on the Monday after to search out the free shipping and other sweet deals there in the privacy and solitude of my own home.

     I just finished reading a good book.  It has the components of all the things I love in it.  It's about Amish people; it's a mystery and it involves a quilt shop and quilting.  Who could ask for more?  It's called Falling to Pieces by Vannetta Chapman.

This little table topper quilt was fun to make.  It's called "Nine-Patch Charm Table Topper".  The pattern is in the Art to Heart book called Cider Mill Road.  You make four normal nine patch blocks and then you slice them in half vertically and then horizontally and then rearrange all the blocks to your liking.

Have you ever heard of the children's book called Cranberry Thanksgiving?  It's a sweet little book that kids love to have read to them.  It also has a recipe for cranberry bread in it.
We love cranberries at our house and here are a few recipes that we like that highlight cranberries.  They can be used in any recipe-including main dishes, desserts, breads and salads.

Cranberry Chicken

Brown 6 to 7 chicken breasts.  Place in greased 13x9’’ pan.


                        1 can whole cranberries

                        1 package dry onion soup mix

                        1 cup French or Catalina dressing

Pour over chicken.  Bake at 350° for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, uncovered.

Cranberry Orange Bread

2 cups flour                                                      1 cup sugar

1 ½ tsp. baking powder                                    1 tsp. vanilla

½ tsp. baking soda                                           2 tsp. freshly grated orange zest

½ tsp. salt                                                         2 eggs

¼ tsp. ginger                                                     ½ cup orange juice

¼ tsp. nutmeg                                                   1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries

1/3 cup butter                                                   ½ cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In large bowl, combine first 6 ingredients.  Set aside.  In a bowl, cream butter, sugar and vanilla.  Add orange zest, eggs and orange juice until well combined.  Gradually add orange mixture to dry ingredients.  Mix until just moistened.  Fold in cranberries and almonds.

Pour batter into a well greased 9x5” loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, or for mini-loaves use three 5x1/2x3” mini-loaf pans and bake for 35 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan.  Cool at least 2 hours before cutting.


Cranberry Jello Salad

1 large 6 oz. pkg. cranberry or raspberry jello
2 C. boiling water
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce

One or more of the following ingredients

1 medium can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 to 2 unpeeled, cored and grated apples
1 C. chopped celery
½ C. chopped walnuts

Prepare jello following the directions on the package adding only ½ to 1 C. cold water to help the jello set.  Add the whole berry cranberry sauce and the other ingredients of your choice.  Refrigerate for several hours.

Apple Cranberry Pie

Pie:                                                                               Topping:

6 medium apples, peeled and sliced                               ¾ cup flour

1 ½ cups cranberries                                                    ½ cup brown sugar

½ cup brown sugar                                                       ½ cup butter    

1/4 cup corn starch                                                       ¼ tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. nutmeg                                                   1/3 cup sliced almonds (optional)

¼ tsp. salt

1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

pie pastry for a single

    crust pie

     Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line pie plate with pastry.  Combine all the pie ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.  Turn filling into the pastry lined pan.  In a small bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon using a pastry blender.  Stir in almonds and sprinkle topping over filling.  Bake for 45-60 minutes.

     Since I love quilting, when I found this spool ornament at Bennion Crafts in Ogden, I knew I had to make some.  In fact, I put together kits so each of my family members could make their own.  I passed them out at Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Feeling the Gratitude Attitude

“Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.” --Randy Pausch

     Thanksgiving is perhaps one of my very favorite holidays.  I love getting together with family members and giving thanks for all our blessings.  I love all the good food.  It seems that each year my house is the place that everyone gathers to.  I might complain but at the same time I am pleased that we are blessed with enough room to accomodate the crowd.  I have noticed that my daughter has been posting on facebook one thing that she is grateful for each day.  This is such a healthy practice that causes us to look beyond ourselves and realize where our blessings come from.

     This is one of the few Thanksgiving quilts that I have found.  This one is from the Art to Heart book by Nancy Halverson called Heartfelt Holidays Too.  It is just the right size to make a nice wall hanging.


     Here's another soup recipe that I love.  My mother would bring a version of this recipe to my family after the birth of a new child.  It's full of vegetables and loaded with flavor. 

Whole Meal Soup

1 lb. ground beef                                              1 cup. shredded cabbage (optional)

1 quart hot water                                              1 diced onion

1 cup diced potatoes                                          1/2 Tbsp. salt

1 cup  celery                                                       1/8 C. rice or ½ C. macaroni

1 cup diced tomatoes                                         4 bouillon cubes

½ cup corn                                                         seasoning salt

½ cup diced carrots

            Brown meat and drain.  Add water and bouillon cubes.  Bring to a full boil and add vegetables and salt.  Bring back to a boil and add rice or macaroni.  Simmer ½ hour or longer and season to taste.


     I love these rolls.  You can use whole wheat bread dough to make them a little healthier.  Any kind of jam can be used.  I used apricot pineapple this time.

Orange Marmalade Sweet Rolls

1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed                                1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup orange marmalade spreadable fruit                   ½ tsp. grated orange peel

2 T. raisins                                                                      2 tsp. orange juice

            On a floured surface, roll dough into a 12x8” rectangle; brush with orange marmalade.  Sprinkle with raisins.  Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with the long side; pinch dough to seal.  Cut into 12 slices.  Place cut side down in muffin cups coated with nonstick cooking spray.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

            Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Immediately remove to serving dish.  Combine the powdered sugar, orange peel and orange juice; drizzle over warm rolls.  Makes 1 dozen.



     Owls are so popular this year.  I found the wooden owl on the left at a holiday boutique in Farmington.  The owl on the right is one that my daughter and I came up with.  The head is removable and an electric tealight can be placed inside to give off filtered light.  Obviously a real flame should not be used.  At the bottom is an owl treat made from a moon pie and oreos.


  The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck is a book  I feel all women should read.  It's a story with lots of lessons we can learn from and learn quite a bit about China at the same time.


     Each placesetting at our Thanksgiving table will include a small bag of blessing mix.  I first started making this mix when my boys were in cub scouts and I was a leader.    This is a great way to help kids (and the rest of us)  be more grateful.  For a free download for the card, go to

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spooky Halloween Dream

"Those who dream by day are cognizant of things which escape those who dream only at night."--Edgar Allan Poe

     I'm wishing each of you at the last minute a very happy, spooky Halloween!    Monday night the kids and grandkids came and carved pumpkins.  This is the spooky group that ended up on our front porch.

A few weeks ago I had a group of friends over for a craft night.  We painted wooden 4x4 pumpkins.  We also mod podged scrapbook paper on the opposite side so the pumpkins could extend their usefulness into the month of November.  Everyone's turned out a little different and all were so cute.  We used black vinyl for the faces and some jute or rafia for the vine.

October 17-20 was the Beehive Shop Hop.  For one of the days I went with my niece, my neighbor and my daughter.  We had a great day and we all went home tired.  My daughter ended up winning one of the prizes which was a jelly roll of fabric and a $50 gift certificate.  Thank you, Sandy Cotton Shop.
Here are some quilts that we liked from the Shop Hop.
Here's a recipe that is inexpensive to make and pretty darn tasty.

Kielbasa Beans and Rice

1 Tbspn. olive oil                                                                     2 cups INSTANT brown rice
1 onion, diced                                                                         2 cups water
3 cloves garlic, minced                                                           2 tsp. beef bouillon
2-3  ribs celery, diced                                                               ½ tsp. salt
1-14 oz. turkey kielbasa, sliced                                              ¼ tsp. pepper
1-8 oz. can tomato sauce                                                        ½ tsp. chili powder
1-15 oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed            ¼ tsp. each of thyme, rosemary and basil  
                                                                                                          dash of cayenne pepper

Heat olive oil in large frying pan.  Add onion, garlic and celery and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add kielbasa and sauté for 3 more minutes.   Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Turn down heat to low and cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until rice is done.

 Serves 6-8

 Optional: This is really good with a dollop of sour cream and a slice of avocado on each serving.


   This recipe is dedicated to my Dad whose birthday is tomorrow.  I used to make this recipe A LOT as a teenager because it was one of my Dad's favorites.

Carrot Pineapple Cake

Cream together well:

1 ½ C. oil

1 C. sugar

Add 3 eggs one at a time and beat well.

Sift 2 ½ C. flour with 1 tsp. soda, ½ tsp. salt and 1 tsp. cinnamon.  Add to creamed mixture.  Add 2 grated carrots and 1 C. crushed pineapple that has been drained.  Mix well and add 1 C. chopped nuts.  Bake at 45 minutes at 350°.



4 cups powdered sugar                          1  3 oz. pkg. cream cheese

1 cube margarine                                  1 tsp. vanilla


     I picked up a free pattern during the Shop Hop for this Spiderweb Table topper.  It was so fun to make and super easy.  Just sew two sets of 6- 3" strips together.  Then cut 3 triangles from each set using your 60 degree ruler.  Most all of the spider web fabric was on sale during the shop hop.

     Along with a lot of people, one of my favorite books is To Kill a Mockingbird.  I never had the opportunity to read it in High School so I read it for the first time about 17 years ago.  I've loved it ever since.

Here in the country the houses are too far apart to trick or treat so we do the trunk or treat thing.  First we meet together as a neighborhood and have a sloppy joe dinner.  Then the trunk or treating begins.  Prizes are given for the best decorated trunks.  Here are some of the highlights of the night.

The End