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!