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, July 19, 2015

New York, New York

"The essence of America-that which really unites us-is not ethnicity, or nationality or religion-it is an idea- and what an idea it is: That you can come from humble circumstances and do great things." ~Condoleezza Rice

     And here are yet more photos of our trip back east.  These photos are of New York; both the city and the state.  I have to admit that I love the beautiful things that God created in that state much more than the busy buildings and all the cement.  I did love seeing the statue of liberty from the Staten Island Ferry that we went on.  I loved Niagra Falls and a waterfall near Ithaca, called  Taughannock Falls, and I loved a quilt shop in Ithaca called Quilter's Corner.  This was my first visit to Time Square and my first time riding the subway.


     In Quilt Guild last month I just happened to be one of the lucky ones that was chosen to bring in a Round Tuit  for July.  This is a project that was started a while ago and was never finished.  So I finally got "around to it" and finished up a project.  My project is a stuffed kitty that can be used as a pin cushion to drape over a chair to use while you're doing hand work.  It comes from a pattern called Quilt Shoppe Kitty by Cotton Ginnys.  Since my kitty is red, white and blue I named her Liberty.  She's a wonderful pet that doesn't make any noise and I never have to clean up after her or feed her.  She's very cuddly and smells so nice since she has some lavender buds in her filling. 

     Oh, and remember the Mystery quilt that we're working on for Quilt Guild? I said I would keep everyone posted.   Here are the current pieces that will some day make up my quilt.  It's still a mystery as to what it will look like when it's all finished!

     Let's not forget our recipes this time.  Here are two wonderful recipes from our family reunion.  The first one comes from my daughter who found this recipe on Our Best Bites and declared it the best pot luck salad ever.

Southwest Pasta Salad
½ lb. bowtie pasta
1-14oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 roma tomatoes, diced or ¾ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large red, yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
½ cup sliced green onions
½ cup frozen corn
Zest from 2 limes
Optional: 8 oz. diced cooked chicken
½ cup cheddar cheese

6 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (about 3 juicy limes)
¼ cup white wine vinegar
4-5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 ½ tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. coriander
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
¾ cup canola oil
½ cup roughly chopped cilantro

Boil pasta in salted water until cooked.  While it’s cooking prepare dressing.
To prepare the dressing, place the lime juice, vinegar, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and sugar in a blender.  Process until smooth.  With the motor running slowly, add the oil in a steady stream until incorporated.  Add the cilantro and pulse so it gets broken up but some pieces still remain in tact.
When the pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse immediately with cold water to cool.  Place the pasta in the large salad bowl with the lime zest.  Add black beans, tomatoes, diced pepper, green onions, corn and chicken.  Toss with dressing.  Taste, and add additional salt and pepper to taste.  For best results, chill for 1 hour before serving.  Right before serving, sprinkle cheese on top.  Serve with extra lime wedges if desired.

     This next recipe comes from my cousin's daughter who made a huge pan of Chocolate Italian Love Cake to share with every one at the reunion.  It was sooooo good.

Chocolate Italian Love Cake
Author: Adapted from Paula Deen

Recipe type: Dessert

Serves: 15
  • 1 package chocolate cake mix (I recommend using Betty Crocker brand), and the ingredients needed to make the cake according to the package
  • 2 lbs. ricotta cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 (5.1 oz.) package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 8 oz. Cool Whip


1.    Preheat your oven to 350*F and spray a 9x13 inch pan with nonstick spray.
2.    In a large bowl, mix together your cake mix according to the directions on the box. Set aside.
3.    In another bowl, using a hand mixer, beat together the ricotta cheese, eggs, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
4.    *The following directions are correct. The layers switch during the baking time!
5.    Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking dish. Spread to fill the pan evenly. Once the cake batter is in place, carefully pour the cheese mixture evenly over the top of the cake batter. Spread to cover the cake batter as best as you can.
6.    Bake the cake at 350* for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.
7.    Once the cake is cool, stir the pudding mix and milk together with a whisk until combined. Carefully, fold the Cool Whip into the pudding until combined.
8.    Spread the pudding mixture over the top of the cooled cake. Cover the cake and refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving. It tastes even better the next day.


I just had to include a picture of the cute wooden liberty bell hanging on my porch!  Have a great rest of the month of July!!!



Sunday, July 5, 2015

Stars and Stripes Forever!

"The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness.  You have to catch it yourself."~Benjamin Franklin

     July 5th is a nice time to show some of the pictures we took in Philadelphia back in May when we were there.  That's a city that exudes patriotism.  We enjoyed our time at the Benjamin Franklin Museum and I got to visit the Betsy Ross Home.  We took a tour of Independence Hall and got to catch a glimpse of the Liberty Bell. And everyone needs to get a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich while they're there.

     Betsy Ross was probably the first famous American seamstress.  She is well known for making the first American flag.  She was responsible for coming up with the idea of putting the five-pointed stars on the flag.  Quilters today love to applique and sew five-pointed stars on nearly everything!

     This is a 15 minute kindle book by Caitlind Alexander about the life of Betsy Ross.  It's amazing what a person can learn in just 15 minutes.  I loved finding out more about her.