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, May 25, 2014

Golden Days of Spring

"It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.~Albus Dumbledore

     This quilt has been in the making for about 5 years.  It started out as a neighborhood block of the month which fizzled out after a few months.  It was put away for a little while and retrieved again this past year to be finished up as part of my goal to use up fabric that I already had and finish up uncompleted projects.  I am so glad to have this one done.  I thought it turned out nice.

     On Saturday, May 10th, we celebrated the 145th anniversary of the joining of the Central Pacific Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad to form the Transcontinental Railroad.  We took a picnic lunch, some family members, including two grandsons to the Golden Spike National Historic Site at Promontory Point in Box Elder County in our beautiful state of Utah.  There was a nice program with speakers; the band from Bear River High School favored us with some musical numbers, and there was a re-enactment of the original ceremony featuring time period dress.  The weather was cool but we enjoyed ourselves anyway.  We loved seeing the Jupiter engine and the No. 119 engine.

     A couple of recipes that we like in the Spring and Summer months is Chicken with Quinoa and Veggies and Blueberry Muffins.  I was pleasantly surprised at how good quinoa is, especially when cooked in chicken broth.  This recipe comes from  The muffin recipe comes from  This recipe is my favorite for blueberry muffins.

Chicken with Quinoa and Veggies

1 cup quinoa                                                   1 zucchini, diced
2 cups chicken broth                                       1 tomato, diced
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided                                 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
2 cloves minced garlic                                     8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 small onion, chopped                                   1 Tbsp. lime juice
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips

Bring the quinoa and chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan; reduce heat to a simmer and cover the pan.  Simmer until the broth is absorbed, the quinoa fluffy, and the white line is visible in the grain, about 12 minutes.
Heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a skillet; cook and stir the garlic and onion until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chicken breast strips and cook until the chicken is nearly done, about 5 more minutes.  Remove the chicken meat and set aside.  Pour 2 more Tbsp. of olive oil in the skillet and cook and stir the zucchini and tomato until the zucchini is tender, 5 to 6 minutes.  Return chicken to the skillet and sprinkle with feta cheese, basil leaves, and lime juice.  Cook until the chicken is fully cooked and hot, about 10 more minutes.  Serve over hot quinoa.

Blueberry Muffins

             1 ¾ cups flour                                                 1 large egg
             2 ¾ tsp. baking powder                                   ¾ cup buttermilk
             ¼ tsp. salt                                                        1/3 cup canola oil
             ½ cup sugar                                                     1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
              2 tsp. lemon or orange zest

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line muffin tin with paper liners.
Combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and citrus zest in a large bowl.  Whisk together the egg, buttermilk and oil in separate bowl.  Add to dry ingredients and stir until just moistened.
Combine 1 Tbsp. flour and 1 Tbsp. sugar in a small bowl and toss blueberries until well coated.  Gently fold blueberry mixture into the batter.  Spoon batter into lined muffin tin, filling 2/3 full.
Streusel topping:  Combine ¼ cup sugar, 2 ½ Tbsp. flour and ½ tsp. cinnamon in small bowl.  Cut in 1 ½ Tbsp. butter with a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly.  Sprinkle over batter in muffin tins and bake 18 minutes or until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes.

     I really enjoyed this sweet story by Kimberly Willis Holt about a girl and her mentally challenged parents.  My Louisana Sky is a wonderful book about family love, support and loyalty.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Quilter's Choice......Mom

There is no limit to what a mother can accomplish.  Righteous women have changed the course of history and will continue to do so. ~ Julie B. Beck

     My friend , Dana and I went to the HMQS quilt show held in Salt Lake City at the South Towne Expo Center.  The theme this year was "Quilter's Symphony".  We saw rows and rows of beautiful quilts.  It will be very difficult to choose just a few to show here; but I'll give it a try. 

     I hope you have all enjoyed a wonderful Mother's Day.  I can't even begin to say what an amazing person my mother is.  I am eternally indebted to her for her love and patience and diligence and many prayers in raising me and my brother and sisters.  There is no more noble calling in life than that of mother.  No career or degree will be more important than being a mother in the eternal scheme of things.  I'm so glad that I had a mother that knew this and sacrificed her time and talents for my behalf.  Thanks, Mom!

     Following tradition, our loved ones met at our house for dinner today and each family group brought a dish to share.  It was a nice, laid-back day.  We had Baked Salmon, Mango Cashew Rice, Strawberry Spinach Salad, and Caesar Salad.  For dessert we had one of my favorites, Chocolate Éclair Dessert.  It's easy enough for the kids to make and tastes soooo good.


Mango Cashew Rice

2 Tbsp. butter                                                  ½ tsp. salt
1 cup celery, diced                                          1 tsp. dried parsley
1 cup onion, diced                                           ½ tsp. turmeric
2 cloves garlic, diced                                      ¼ tsp. cumin or curry
1 cup jasmine rice                                           ¼ cup dried mango, diced
2 cups chicken both                             ½ cup cashews, coarsely chopped
                                                                                                      Pepper to taste

     Melt butter in medium saucepan.  Saute’ celery, onion and garlic until soft.  Add rice and cook 2 more minutes.  Add chicken broth and seasonings.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Add dried mangos and cashews.  Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.  Fluff with a fork before serving.  Makes about 6 servings.

Chocolate Eclair Dessert

2 individual packages graham crackers

2 (3 oz.) packages instant vanilla pudding ( I used one white chocolate and one vanilla)

3 cups milk

1 (8 oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed (I use 1 cup whipping cream, whipped)

1 (16 oz.) package prepared chocolate frosting (I use the fudge chocolate kind)

Line the bottom of a 9x13” pan with graham crackers.  In a bowl, combine pudding mix and milk.  Stir well with a whisk.  Stir whipped topping into pudding mixture.  Spread the mixture over the graham cracker layer.  Top with another layer of graham crackers.  Microwave frosting for 15 to 20 seconds (Make sure you remove all of the foil lid first) and stir to make easier to spread.  Frost with the chocolate frosting and chill for 3 hours or until serving.

     This time I have chosen two books that are typically children's books but are also books that I love.  They are books that have mothers that play an important role in the plots.  One is called Shiloh, about a boy and his dog.  The other is called Sarah, Plain and Tall, about a mail-order bride who grows to love the children she cares for.  Both books would be stories that children would love to have their mothers read to them during the summer months.