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, December 20, 2015

Home for the Holidays

"Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays
'Cause no matter how far away you roam
If you want to be happy in a million ways
For the holidays you can't beat home, sweet home."~Perry Como

Well, I didn't get half the things done that I had planned for the month of December but I've had time to be with my husband, my kids and my grandkids and that counts for a lot. 

We had our annual Christmas party for Quilt Guild and this year it was a brunch with yummy peach French toast, ham and an egg casserole that I loved.  The theme was Home for the Holidays.  We were challenged to make a quilt with a home on it somewhere and of course I couldn't fit that into my schedule.  Our famous visitor this year was Amber Johnson, the creator of Gigi's Thimble patterns.  She brought a nice trunk show with bright colored quilts.

     I am including two recipes this time that would be perfect to include in a nice family Christmas dinner and of course I always pick recipes that are relatively quick and easy to prepare because we always have better things to do during the holidays than spend a ton of time in the kitchen,

Easy Shrimp Linguine
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails removed
16 oz. linguine
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 green onions, chopped
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. salt
1 cup chicken broth
Parmesan cheese
1 tomato, chopped
Black pepper

Boil the pasta in salted water until done.  Drain well.

While pasta is cooking, zest and juice lemons.  Saute’ the onions, mushrooms, garlic and shrimp in a little olive oil. Add the lemon rind and pepper flakes and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add basil, salt, pepper and chicken broth and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Add lemon juice.  Adjust seasonings to your taste.  Add pasta to the sauce and garnish with parmesan cheese and chopped tomato.

This salad is so good but be warned, it doesn't do well as left overs. So eat it all up in one day.

Tossed Pear Salad
¼ cup plus 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
½ cup pecans
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
1 clove minced garlic
½ tsp. salt
Black pepper to taste
1 head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
3 pears, 1 red, 1 bartlett and 1 d’anjou, cored and thinly sliced
5 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
½ cup thinly sliced green onions

Combine sugar and pecans in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring gently, until sugar has melted and pecans caramelize, about 6-7 minutes.  Cool on wax paper.
Whisk together oil, vinegar remaining 1 ½ tsp. sugar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in small bowl or shake together in small jar with a lid.
Layer lettuce, pears, cheese, avocado, and green onions in a large serving bowl.  Just before serving, pour dressing over salad, sprinkle with pecans and toss.

This is the perfect book to read to your grandchildren on Christmas Eve.  It's a sweet little story by the famous author, Leo Tolstoy.

     I did find time to make some Christmas pillowcases for my grandkids to go with the books that I love to give.

Sunday, December 6, 2015


" What do you get when you swallow a Christmas ornament?  ---Tinselitis"  ~ joke told by a 10 year old at our Church Christmas party

     This quilt will be wrapped up today and sent on it's way to a wonderful family in Pennsylvania tomorrow.  The Cox family let us stay with them for a few days back in May when we were on vacation.  It has been on my bucket list to see a cardinal and I finally got to see one in their backyard.  So when I found this pattern, I knew it was the one I needed to make and send to the Cox family.  They were such wonderful hosts!  I also got a free pattern from Deonn Stott of Quiltscape Quilting for a bird pin cushion.  I turned it into a Christmas ornament and made four of them along with a fabric box that I found on Google.  I hope they will like them. 

Everyone is so busy this time of the year so when it comes to putting dinner on the table we want something quick, easy and delicious  This recipe for Salsa Chicken is just right.

Salsa Chicken
(recipe from
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp. taco seasoning mix
1 ½ cups salsa
1 ½ cups shredded cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Put chicken in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with taco seasoning mix on both sides of chicken breasts and pour salsa over all of it.  Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 35 minutes or until chicken is tender and juices run clear.  Sprinkle chicken evenly with cheese and continue baking for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Top with sour cream if desired and serve.

     Are you looking for that perfect Christmas cookie to take to your neighbors?  I found this recipe a few months ago and thought it looked just right for the holidays.

Pistachio Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies
2  cups flour
1 (3.4 oz.) package instant pistachio flavor pudding mix
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup butter
¼  cup brown sugar
¾  cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
½ cup shelled and chopped pistachios
1 cup white chocolate chips
½ cup dried cranberries

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix flour, dry pudding mix and baking soda until blended.  Beat butter, sugars and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy.  Blend in eggs.  Gradually add flour mixture, beating well after each addition.  Stir in remaining ingredients.
Drop by rounded tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheets.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes or just before edges are lightly browned.  Cool on baking sheet 1 minute.  Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

     Carla Kelly is such a gifted writer.  I just know you will love this collection of Christmas stories she has written.