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.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Shop Hop Fever

"A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society." -- Billy Graham, Christian Evangelist

"A man never stands as tall as when he kneels to help a child." --Knights of Pythagoras  

  What a week this has been!  It's that time of year when the shop hop along the Wasatch front happens.  My friend, my daughter and I were able to attend all 12 of the stores and complete our passports.  Now we just need to wait and see if we win a prize.  It was slightly different this year because each store had patterns for small quilts or table runners instead of full sized quilts.  The theme this year was "Let's Play" and each shop centered their festivities around a game.  Here are a few of our favorites from some of the shops.




This is the pattern that we received for completing the shop hop.  I can't wait to make my own checker mat.  I think I will try constructing mine using Halloween fabrics.
     Celebrating Father's Day today with my family was nice.  We had a houseful of kids, grandkids and parents.  I'm very blessed to have a husband who is a great father.  He has that rare and exceptional quality of loving unconditionally. 
     We served Mushroom Porkchops to the crowd today.  My mother-in-law also brought one of my husbands favorites--Tossed green salad with homemade Blue Cheese Dressing.


Mushroom Pork Chops

6 pork chops                                        ½ lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced or

1 tsp. salt                                                 1 ( 4 oz.) can mushrooms

¼ tsp. pepper                                       1 (10.75 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup

garlic powder to taste                         1 ¼ cups milk

2 T. butter                                           4 cups thinly sliced potatoes

1 large onion, finely chopped

            Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9x13” baking dish.  Melt butter in a large frying pan over medium high heat, add chops and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Brown on both sides.  Remove from skillet.  Place onions in skillet and cook until browned.  Pour in mushrooms, soup and milk.  Stir until blended.  Remove from heat and set aside.

                Arrange sliced potatoes evenly on bottom of prepared baking dish.  Arrange pork chops on top of potatoes.  Pour soup mixture over chops.

                Bake, covered, for 45 minutes in oven.  Uncover, and bake 15 minutes more, or until potatoes are tender.

Blue Cheese Dressing

Combine thoroughly:

1 clove garlic (optional)

6 T finely minced onion

2 T lemon juice

2 cups mayonnaise

1 cup Roquefort or blue cheese

1 cup sour cream


Chill thoroughly.  It mellows and thickens on standing.

     Another good recipe that will feed a crowd is Chocolate Texas Sheetcake.  My friend, Debbie gave this recipe to me.  We like to serve it with chopped nuts sprinkled on half of the cake.  That way if someone doesn't like nuts they don't have to have any.

Chocolate Sheet Cake

2 cubes margarine

1 cup water                                           Put in bowl and melt in microwave.

2 ½ T. cocoa


2 cups sugar

2 cups flour                                           Put in large mixing bowl and set aside.

1 tsp. soda


2 eggs

½ cup buttermilk or sour milk                           Mix in small bowl.

1 tsp. vanilla


Pour first bowl of ingredients over bowl containing the dry ingredients and mix well.  Then add egg mixture and mix well.  Pour onto large greased and floured jelly roll pan and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.  Make frosting 10 minutes before the cake is done.


Frosting:  Mix 1 cube of melted butter with 1/3 cup milk and 4 T. cocoa.   Add 1 tsp. vanilla and enough powdered sugar to make frosting the right consistency.  Can also add 1 cup chopped nuts.

     Here is a cute little gift that my friend, Pam, made for some of the fathers that she knows.  It's made from a regular envelope with the end cut open.  She used some scrapbook paper for the ties and  slid in a Hershey's candy bar. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Spinning into Summer

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.  ~James Dent

     Every June, the company that my husband works for pays for each of their employees and their families to go to Lagoon and have dinner there.  Lagoon is an amusement park in Farmington, Utah.  We had a full day and our heads were still spinning the next day.  My favorite ride is probably the tilt-a-whirl.  I have fond memories of riding on that one with my Dad when I was a child.  I was thrilled to find a quilt in the latest issue of McCall's Quilting magazine with that same title.  I will have to make this one some day soon.  I love the colors!

     These pictures demonstrate some of the sights we enjoyed at Lagoon.


     The garden is doing well.  The weeds are doing better.  We harvested a nice crop of spinach so I've included a couple of recipes to help use up our abundance of spinach.

This recipe is from my friend, Patti.  She is not only a great friend but a great cook as well.

Strawberry Pecan Salad

1 pkg. mixed baby greens  (this is where I used the spinach)

¾ cup sliced fresh strawberries

¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese

¼ cup sliced red onions

¼ cup coarsely chopped pecans, candied

¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Put first 5 ingredients together and toss with the dressing.  Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Candied Pecans

Combine nuts and 2 Tbsp. sugar in skillet; cook and stir on medium heat for 5 minutes or until sugar is melted and pecans are evenly coated.

Kielbasa Pasta and Green Veggies

(Adapted from recipe in Better Homes and Gardens magazine)

3 cups medium shell pasta
1 bunch broccoli, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1-14 oz. package kielbasa sausage, cut into ½ inch slices
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
 ½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
1 tsp. dill weed
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
Crushed red pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Add broccoli to the pasta for the last 4 minutes of cooking time.  Drain and rinse with cold water.

Meanwhile, brown sausage in a 12 inch skillet.  Add onion and garlic and cook until softened.  Add pasta mixture, chicken broth, salt and pepper to the sausage skillet.  Heat through.  Add spinach and dill.  Turn off heat.  Toss to wilt the spinach.  Add ¼- ½ tsp. crushed red pepper and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Serve hot.  Makes 4-6 servings.

     I had to throw in a recipe for a treat.  My daughter made these cookies for us on a Sunday night.  This recipe comes from a college roommate.  I've yet to find a recipe for Snickerdoodles that I like better.  They turn out soft and delicious every time.  I usually use half butter and half shortening.

1 cup shortening                                               ½ tsp. salt

1 ½ cup sugar                                                  1 tsp. soda

2 eggs                                                              2 tsp. cinnamon

2 ¾ cup flour                                                    2 Tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. cream of tartar

Cream shortening, sugar and eggs. Sift dry ingredients and stir into creamed mixture.  Roll into balls the size of a walnut.  Combine sugar and cinnamon.  Roll cookie balls in this mixture Place on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. 

I enjoy reading books that are geared towards children and young adults, mostly because the author doesn't throw in a lot of swearing and inappropriate material just to get their book published.  One such book that I like is Holes by Louis Sachar.  The movie is good as well.

A few years ago I made this cute table runner.  It can be found on my entry bench during the hot months.  The pattern is called June Garden.  It's designed by Kathy Schmitz of Four Corner Designs. I bought it as a kit.