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, January 30, 2013

More Frosty Days!

"One kind word can warm three winter months."--Japanese Proverb

     This month the family took a field trip to beautiful Cache Valley and proceeded on to Hardware Ranch. We took a picnic lunch and ate it there in the building provided near the visitor's center.  Then we took a sleigh ride to see the elk.  The Rocky Mountain elk is the state animal of Utah (just a little trivia to make it educational).  Our tour guide/ sleigh driver, who insisted his real name was Cheeseburger, filled us in on all the details of the ranch.  This was a great winter activity.

Bella and Nicki

     I read the best book this past month.  It's called The Rent Collector by Camron Wright.  It's about a family that lives in the garbage dump in Cambodia.  The mom has a chance to learn to read and the whole story is about how that changes her life.  I loved the examples of poetry and prose throughout the book.

          Here's an easy recipe to try out.  It was adapted from a recipe from Managing Your Meals Cookbook.

Sesame Baked Chicken

1/3 cup butter                                     1/8 tsp. pepper
1 egg, slightly beaten                         8 boneless chicken breast halves (tenders work nicely)
1 ½ Tbspn. water                                1/3 cup flour
1 ½ Tbspn. soy sauce                          ¼ cup sesame seeds
½ tsp. salt                                           

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place butter in 8x12 inch baking pan and let melt while oven preheats.  Meanwhile, blend egg, water, soy sauce, salt and pepper.  Dip chicken in flour, then into egg mixture.  Arrange chicken in pan, turning to coat with butter.  Sprinkle generously with sesame seeds.  Bake at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until tender and golden brown.  Serve with mushroom sauce if desired.

Mushroom sauce:  In medium saucepan melt ¼ cup butter.  Stir in 1/3 cup flour. Remove from heat and add 1 can chicken broth.  Stir until smooth.  Cook and stir until thick.  Add ½ cup cream (or milk), ¼ tsp. salt, few grains pepper and 1 can sliced mushrooms( drained).  You can also add some chopped fresh parsley.  I just use a little dried parsley.
     I found this recipe at  It has cranberries in it so it has to be good.

Cranberry Rice Pilaf
1 Tbspn. olive oil                                             1 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped onions                                     black pepper to taste
½ cup dried cranberries                                 2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups rice                                                   3 Tbspn. chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
3 cups chicken broth                                       ¼ cup sliced almonds
     Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook and stir until tender; about 5 minutes.  Stir in cranberries and rice and cook for another 5 minutes or so.  Pour chicken broth into the skillet with salt and pepper.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat.  Simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.  Remove skillet from heat and add green onions, cilantro and almonds.  Stir until mixed and warm throughout.

    It took me awhile, but I finally finished my Forget-Me-Not quilt.  It was a block of the month sponsored by Quilts, Etc. in Sandy. We learned how to make twelve blocks from Japan. Then we got to finish our quilts any way we wanted.  I finished mine with a little applique in each corner and some blue squares and a mock scalloped border.

     This is a kit I purchased at The Wood Connection in Midvale.  When I'm finished with it it will look like the snowman on the right.  I just need to find a wild shoelace for the scarf.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Winter Wonders

Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.
 --Henry David Thoreau
     We had a snowstorm last week that left us with 8 inches of snow.  Since then we have had more snow and the temperatures have been well below zero at night.  Variety is the spice of life.  I have always loved looking out the window and seeing a beautiful, pristine blanket of white snow covering the entire landscape.  Besides, it's perfect weather for quilting and reading.
     I read this book when I was a teenager and really enjoyed it.  It's about a girl from Boston who marries a Canadian Mountie. They go and live in the wilds of Canada.   It's a poignant story of their joys and sorrows and mostly their adventures. 
     It's still soup weather, more now than ever.  This soup recipe is hearty and satisfying.  I added a bay leaf for extra flavor.
Beef Barley Soup
1 cup chopped carrot                         1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
½ cup chopped celery                         1 cup quick-cooking barley
½ cup chopped onion                                      1 ½ tsp. salt
1 T butter                                                        ½ tsp. pepper
4 cups beef broth                                            ½ tsp. dried basil
4 cups water                                                    ½ tsp. dried oregano
2 cups chopped cooked roast beef                  ½ cup frozen peas
In a large soup-pan, sauté carrot, celery and onion in butter until tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the broth, water, beef, tomatoes, barley, salt, pepper, basil and oregano; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add peas.  Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.  Makes 8 servings.
     This is the perfect bread to go with any kind of soup. It's so moist and flavorful.  It rises a lot so split it in half and put it in two different loaf pans.  I also just put all ingredients in my bread machine to make the dough.
Dill Bread
1 Tbspn. yeast                                     1 unbeaten egg
¼ cup warm water                              1 Tbspn. minced onion
1 cup cottage cheese                           1 Tbspn. dill seed
2 Tbspn. sugar                                     ¼ tsp. soda
1 Tbspn. butter                                    3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
Soften yeast in warm water.  Heat cottage cheese to lukewarm.  Combine with sugar.  Combine balance of ingredients.  Add flour to form soft dough.  Beat well.  Cover and let rise in warm place for 1 hour.  Stir down and mold into well-greased bread pan.  Let rise 30 minutes.  Bake at 325° for 30-35 minutes.

     Here are more mini quilts made from Art to Heart patterns.  They are just too fun.  The little wool pillow was made by my friend, Sam.  She gave it to me for Christmas last year.   And here is yet another table topper that I made last year.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Snow Much Fun!

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true. 
~Alfred, Lord Tennyson
     Happy New Year to all of you!  The greatest snow on earth isn't always found at a ski resort.  Sometimes it's found in Pine Canyon.  The boys and their friends had so much fun there.



The countdown to the new year in our family is accompanied by a long-standing tradition of drinking Holiday Eggnog.  This recipe comes from my mother-in-law.  It is enjoyed by young and old.

Holiday Eggnog

6 eggs, well beaten                                          ¼ tsp. ginger                          

½ cup sugar                                                     ¼ tsp. cloves

¼ tsp. cinnamon                     

Beat sugar and spices with eggs.  Pour mixture into a punchbowl.  Add 1 64 oz. bottle of HiC orange drink and 1 quart (1 liter) ginger ale.  When ready to serve, spoon 1 quart of vanilla ice cream on top.

Another great recipe for the new year is my sister's famous pineapple cheeseball.
Pineapple Cheese Ball

2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple, well-drained
2 Tbspn. finely chopped green onion or grated onion
1 /4 cup finely chopped green pepper or combination of green and red pepper
2 tsp. seasoning salt
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Assorted crackers of choice

Combine first five ingredients and mix well.  Shape into a ball and chill for 30 minutes.  When ready to serve roll in chopped nuts.  Garnish with green pepper, grapes and/or pimento if desired.  Serve with crackers.



     I made this quilt last year for one of the girls in the neighborhood who was going through a rough time.  This pattern is from Kitchen Table Quilts and was designed by my friend, Marta.  It's called Chunky Log Cabin.

My husband and I actually saw a movie.  Les Miserables was a very moving movie.  Take a few tissues with you when you go see it.  Even more moving, is the book by Victor Hugo.  Don't let the size of the book discourage you from reading it.   There are many things to be learned within it's pages.   I learned that heros aren't those who have easy lives.  Heros aren't those who find pleasure in wickedness and taking advantage of others.  Heros are those who overcome hardship and make their lives a gift to help others around them.

      I made a candy jar from a glass jar with a lid, a round wooden ball with one flat side and a glass sundae dish and some spray paint.  Use some gorilla glue or epoxy glue to join the pieces together after you paint them.