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, May 27, 2013

Memory Making Day in May

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. ~From a headstone in Ireland

For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity. ~William Penn

     We didn't plan on it but we visited five different cemeteries today.  In between we had a picnic, flew a kite, practiced shooting a blow dart gun at tin cans and went to the sporting goods store, Scheels to ride the ferris wheel and have an ice cream cone.




     My father died 27 years ago and my sister passed away almost seven years ago so it's good to go and visit their gravesites to not only remember them but to share those memories with our own loved ones who are too young to remember them on their own.

Here are a few recipes that are perfect for a nice Memorial Day picnic.  Each recipe includes a unique ingredient--root beer.  I made all three recipes with one 2 liter bottle of root beer.

Root Beer Baked Beans

Adapted from

6 bacon slices                                                              ½ cup hickory-smoked barbeque sauce

1 medium onion, diced                                               1 tsp. dry mustard

4-16 oz. cans pork and beans                                     ¼ tsp. hot sauce

1 cup root beer

Cook and bacon in skillet over medium heat until crisp; remove and drain on paper towels.  Reserve 2 Tbsp. drippings in skillet and sauté onion until tender.  Stir together all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on medium for about 4 hours.


Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Adapted from

1-2lb. pork tenderloin                                     1-18 oz. bottle barbeque sauce

1 ½ cups root beer                                          8 hamburger buns 

Salt and pepper the pork and put it in a slow cooker; pour the root beer over the meat.  Cover and cook on low until well cooked and the pork shreds easily; about 6-7 hours.  Drain well.  Stir in barbeque sauce.  Serve over hamburger buns.  Makes 8 servings. 

Root Beer Float Cake

Adapted from Taste of Home

1 package white cake mix                                          ¼ cup canola oil

1 ¼ cups root beer                                                      2 eggs

In a large bowl, combine cake mix, root beer, oil and eggs.  Beat on low speed for 2 minutes or stir by hand for 3 minutes.

Pour into a greased 9x13” baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.  Cool completely.

For the topping combine two envelopes of Dream Whip topping mix in a medium bowl with 1 cup root beer.  Beat until soft peaks form.  Frost cake.  Store in the refrigerator.  Yields 12-15 servings.  For a more intense root beer flavor, you may want to add about a tsp. of root beer concentrate to both the cake mix and the topping.

     The book I'm recommending this time is called All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor.  It's about a Jewish family of mostly cute little girls growing up in New York City in the 1920s.  I enjoyed learning about the Jewish Holidays and customs and foods they prepared to celebrate each one.  I learned that girls in families act the same no matter when and where they live and what religion they practice.

     Here is a wonderful quilt made by a woman in my quilt class for a friend who had lost her husband.  They made it using some of his favorite shirts.  What a wonderful keepsake for the wife to cherish and remind her daily of her loved one.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Medley

“I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails.
I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp.
I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children.
I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden.
I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder.
I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.”
Marjorie Pay Hinckley 

     This sweet little wall quilt has a little bit of everything-paper piecing, applique and regular piecing.  This pattern was designed by Vicki Bellino from Bloom Creek. It's called Remembering Annabelle.  I love birdhouses so naturally I love this quilt; perfect to display for May.

     Everyone gathered at our home again for Mother's Day today.  How very blessed I am to have wonderful women in my life; my mother, mother-in-law, sisters, daughters and a daughter-in-law.  We had a great visit together.  My husband made the main dish and everyone else helped with the meal in some way.  My youngest daughter made the dessert that I requested; Chocolate Drizzled Strawberry Cream Pie. Yummmmm!  This recipe comes from Our Best Bites.

Chocolate-Drizzled Strawberries and Cream Pie

Recipe by Our Best Bites

1 quart fresh strawberries
 1 8-oz. package cream cheese at room temperature (light is fine)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 9″ graham cracker crust (store-bought or homemade)
1-2 ounces chocolate

In a medium bowl, beat the softened cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. In a separate large bowl, beat the whipping cream and powdered sugar until medium peaks form. Add about 1 c. of the whipping cream mixture to the cream cheese mixture. Beat until smooth and well-combined. Add the remaining whipping cream mixture and mix until just combined. Spread in the graham cracker crust and refrigerate for a few minutes while you prepare the strawberries.

Wash the strawberries and cut off the stems. Blot dry with a paper towel and then gently press, cut side down, into the whipped cream mixture. Set aside.

If using a chocolate bar, break it into equal pieces and place in a small Ziploc bag. Microwave for 1-1 1/2 minutes, stopping the microwave every 20 seconds to mash the bag. You want the chocolate to be melted but not hot at all. When the chocolate is melted, snip a corner off the bag and drizzle it over the strawberries. Refrigerate for at least three hours before serving. Serves 8.


     A nice recipe for the Spring and Summer months is Chicken Pasta Salad.  I made this to serve last Thursday at our 70's Ladies Luncheon.

Chicken Pasta Salad

1 8 oz. faralle (bow tie pasta)                            1 small package raisins

1 8 oz. tri-colored spiral pasta                           2 chicken breasts

1 cup cashews                                                  3 green onions, chopped

2 cups red grapes, sliced in half                      1 can pineapple tidbits, drained

2 cups chopped celery

            Cook the pasta and drain well.  Cook the chicken and drain thoroughly; cut into small pieces.  Mix all ingredients together well.


1 16 oz. bottle Kraft coleslaw dressing

1 cup mayonnaise (Do not use salad dressing.)

            Pour dressing mix over salad.  Toss and refrigerate until ready to serve.


     Since today we are celebrating wonderful women, I chose the book Sister Chicks on the Loose by  Robin Jones Gunn.  This was a fun book about two friends who took off on a trip to Finland and ended up traveling  to a few other places on a whim.  Sometimes the funnest times we have are the times that are unplanned. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” - Bill Cosby

     This is one of my favorite treats that my brother makes for our family.  He's always so good to share with us.

Seven Layer Mexican Dip

1 16 oz. can refried beans                               2 small tomatoes

2 large avocados                                             ½ C. chopped green onions

1 8 oz. sour cream                                           ½ C. grated cheese

1 package taco seasoning mix (mix half with refried beans and half with sour cream)

olives to taste

Mash avocados and add 2 tsp. lemon juice to keep from turning brown.

Layer on serving platter:                                 refried beans


                                                                        sour cream mixture





     Chicken Enchiladas are one of our family favorites.  This recipe is pretty basic and will feed a crowd.  I usually cut the recipe in half to feed just those of us still at home.

Chicken Enchiladas

1 chicken (boiled)                                           2- 4 oz. cans diced green chilies

            or 6-8 chicken breasts                         24 small flour tortillas

1 lb. longhorn or cheddar cheese,


Filling: diced cooked chicken, green chilies, half grated cheese.

Fill tortillas.

Sauce: 2 cans cream of chicken soup, 1 pint half and half, 1 cup chicken broth.

Mix the sauce and pour over the filled tortillas.  Top with the other half of cheese.

Bake covered at 350° for 35-45 minutes.

     I just finished this shop hop with my husband and youngest daughter.  Last Saturday we drove over 700 miles through Idaho and Wyoming.  Yesterday we finished it off and hit the two shops in Logan, Utah and the last shop in Preston, Idaho.  We saw some beautiful scenery and both weekends were filled with sunny, nice days.  There were twelve quilt shops in all.  Here are pictures from some of the highlights.



     There are just three short weeks left of school around here.  In honor of that, here's a good motivational book called The Energy Bus.  We read it for Book Club in February.  It turned out to be a nice, little force for good in my life.