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.

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