Saturday, April 30, 2011

Honey Bunny

At the very last minute I decided that Baby Sister needed a bunny for Easter. So between Good Friday evening and Saturday morning, I had made this adorable pink bunny. So glad I did because she has loved it. And all grandmothers know that isn't always the case. Sometimes what we think will be perfect just gets tossed aside after two minutes. Or less. But I think this one is a keeper.

Make a bunny for your little honey. It's only a 6-inch square of knitting. Get the directions for sewing it up here. It was a quick and fun little project. A good way to use up leftover yarn.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Some Things Old, Some Things New

A cross stitch sampler I made while in college.

It was a hectic evening. We sat down for dinner and realized the television was still on -- which is a no-no here. The news coverage was about the royal wedding. Big Sister asked if I was going to get up at 4:00 AM to watch the wedding. I told her I might, that I had gotten up that early to watch Princess Diana and Prince Charles get married a long time ago. Big Sister asked why I hadn't just recorded it and watched later. I told her that in 1981 I didn't have a way to record TV shows. This started a whole conversation about all the things I didn't have years ago.

I am older than DVRs (but young enough not to remember life without television.) I am older than cell phones and computers, even older than calculators. (Remember those giant adding machines with about a million buttons and a crank?)  I am older than Post-Its and Ziploc bags. The list goes on and on. How did we live before all of these things?

Thankfully some things stay the same. I like that I can still play a song from old sheet music. I can knit with just two wooden sticks and some yarn. Or make something with a needle and thread. So simple. So enjoyable.

If you want to be simple this weekend, try this cake. The recipe came from an older cousin. I think about her every time I make it. It's as easy as cake mix but better. Just dump everything in one bowl. It's the cake my mother baked many times for birthday cakes. I used this for our strawberry shortcake on Easter.

Quick and Easy Cake

2 cups self-rising flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cooking oil
1 cup milk
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Beat until well mixed.
Pour into a greased and floured pan. This can be baked in layers, cupcakes or a 9x13-inch pan.
Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes. The time will vary according to the size of the pan. Watch and test for doneness when it's golden brown.

Top with fruit and whipped cream or your favorite frosting. It's a good basic cake that is very moist. I will share a couple of good, easy frosting recipes later.

I hope Mommy sets the DVR to record the wedding. I'm not sure that I'll make it up in time to see this prince and his bride. Thank goodness for new gadgets...just in case I snooze through the alarm in the morning.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Macaroni and Cheese

We called it macaroni pie when I was growing up. But somewhere along the way--about the same time paper sacks became paper bags and we started to call dinner "lunch" and supper became "dinner"--macaroni pie became macaroni and cheese.

I was grown before I realized that the rest of the world doesn't make macaroni and cheese like we do around here. This is not the cheese sauce version. Nor do we serve it as a main dish. It's a side dish here. Restaurants list it under "vegetables." This only makes sense here in the South probably.

When I was working as a home economist years ago, I did a program for a ladies club and they had a covered dish lunch after the program. It turned out that almost everyone had brought macaroni and cheese. I think there were twelve dishes of it on the table. All good.

After reading my Easter blog post, Robin asked that I share my recipe, so here it is. If you look through church cookbooks, you will find dozens of variations but this is the way my mother made it. And we think it's as good as any. (Actually we think it is the best.)

Macaroni & Cheese

16-oz. box elbow macaroni (we like the small elbows)
16-oz. sharp Cheddar cheese (NY sharp when I can find it)
4 cups milk (I use fat-free or 1%)
4 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
a sprinkle of black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook macaroni according to directions on the box. Drain. While macaroni cooks, grate the cheese. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with PAM. Put half the macaroni in the baking dish, layer half the cheese over it, add the rest of macaroni and then the remaining cheese.

Mix the milk, eggs, salt and pepper. Pour over the macaroni and cheese. Use just enough to cover the macaroni.  (Sometimes I don’t use quite all of the milk/egg mixture. And I have been known to add a little bit more milk if the 4-cups didn't cover it.)

Bake, uncovered, for 35-45 minutes, until lightly browned on top.  Let rest for about 15 minutes before serving so that it "sets."

If you keep the one egg/one cup of milk ratio, you can make any size dish you need. I've done everything from a tiny two-cup dish to a huge foil pan for a church dinner. You will need to adjust the baking time, though. I pretty much go by the "just beginning to brown" as my signal that it's done.

I also learned this Thanksgiving that you can layer the macaroni and cheese in the dish the day before baking. Store covered in the refrigerator. Mix the milk and egg the next day and pour over the macaroni and bake. Why did I not know this 30 years ago?

Thanks, Robin, for making me write out the recipe! I should have done that a long time ago.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Highlights from our family's Easter Sunday...

Morning worship that ended with the Hallelujah Chorus.

Photos in front of the flower cross.  We always make pictures in front of the cross.

Back home for lunch. I did get the table set last night, thankfully.

Jessica whipped up fresh guacamole to tide us over while dinner cooked. 
A new tradition maybe?  Easter guacamole.

 There is never a holiday dinner without macaroni and cheese. 
Not at our house anyway. This one was as pretty as any ever made.

Baby Sister in the high chair that was first used by her mommy.
 Her Easter dinner was green beans. Just green beans. But homemade by her mommy. Yummm...

A little quality time for Baby Sister and her Aunt Jessica.
The necklace Baby Sister is playing with belonged to her great-grandmother Kat.

A strawberry farm is just down the road from our house.  
We needed a little outdoor activity after a big lunch.

It didn't take long to pick two gallons of strawberries. 

And what did I not get done? I won't tell all but I do hate that I never got a photo of everyone together. It's a rare time when all of the family is in one place. And I forgot to make a picture. [sigh] 

As the week goes on, I'll share a recipe or two from my day spent in the kitchen yesterday. Promise it's all easy.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Puzzle Parts

Yesterday was one of those days with parts that had to fit together like a puzzle.  I played with the Yesterukes in the morning. That meant that Granddaddy had to take over the baby duties to let me go there. The ukulele gig included lunch, but I skipped lunch to be back in time for Granddaddy to make his early afternoon doctor's appointment. (Thanks to the lady who insisted she pack a lunch and send with me. It was delicious.) Good thing we believe in team work. It all got done on time. And good thing Baby Sister doesn't care which one of us is here. She's such a good baby.


Can't you tell she's a good baby just by looking at this sweet face?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Weekend Fun

I scooted out the door on Friday afternoon, leaving Baby Sister with her granddaddy, so that I could head to Atlanta for a visit with daughter Jessica. She and I had plans to visit Stitches South on Saturday. That is a huge yarn/knitting/fiber show. We wanted to see what yarns they had to offer. And see yarn we did.

You could buy camel yarn, musk ox yarn and buffalo yarn. Or stainless steel yarn. Or a soft yarn made from recycled blue jeans. There were knitting needles made of beautiful glass, square knitting needles and knitting needles the size of tree limbs!  (The yarn that went with those was the size of rope.) There were yarns whose price far exceeded my abilities. And bins of bargains. So much to see. I tried to be reasonable and only choose a few things. One of the skeins of yarn in the photo was free! Jessica won a door prize. That yarn was more expensive than any I bought. Can't beat that deal. And sweet daughter gave it to me.

While we were there, we got to meet an internet friend in person. I always had pen pals when I was growing up. This century's version of pen pals are the friends you "meet" online, usually through blogs. How much fun it was to meet Stringplay in person! It's so nice to have a face and a voice to go with the emails now.

Other than the visiting yarn show, we ate. And ate and ate. Jessica knows the best places for good food. We had dinner at JCT Kitchen, Cakes & Ale and Highland Bakery. She asked which was my favorite. But that's like the old apples and oranges thing--each one was wonderful but different from the others.  It needs to be salad and water for me the rest of the week.

I was only gone from Baby Sister for 2-1/2 days but when I got back this morning, her hair was noticeably thicker, her sitting up had gone from wobbly to steady and she is eating peas now! She looked at me really funny this morning. I wondered if she was thinking "who are you?" or "where have you been?" I'm betting on the latter.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Busy Day Dinner

A few months back I suggested baked (or roasted) chicken for dinner one night. And then realized that Mommy didn't know how to make it. She needed to learn how to do this because it is the easiest dinner you can make. Five minutes or less and it's ready to slide into the oven for an hour. An hour you can use to make the side dishes. Or take a shower. Or bathe the baby. Or just sit down and catch your breath.

You don't always see a recipe for such a basic dish but if you've never done it, you might need a starting place. Big Sister calls it "chicken with juice."  It took me a while to figure out what she was talking about. But it does leave a nice clear broth in the dish.  So here we go...


1 package chicken breasts, bone-in, with skin
House seasoning

Wipe chicken pieces off with damp paper towel. 
Place into a baking dish. (A pack typically has 3 breasts which fit into a 9x13-in dish.) 
Sprinkle generously with house seasoning*.
Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour or until done.

*House seasoning:  Mix 1/4 cup salt, 1 tbsp. black pepper & 1 tbsp. garlic powder. Store in an air-tight container, such as an empty spice bottle.

The skin keeps the chicken moist as it bakes. Do not substitute boneless, skinless chicken here! Oh, and the seasoning mix is great on lots of things. I keep it on hand all of the time and use it on most meats and vegetables. Can you get any easier than this? You could serve this on a platter with some parsley tucked in here and there, and maybe a lemon slice or two and it becomes a company dinner. 

When the chicken came out of the oven last night, I was ready to make this side dish. When my girls where little, they both liked this. I liked it because it was easy and it got another vegetable into their tummies. Big Sister tried it for the first time last night and she liked it, too.


1 head cauliflower
shredded cheddar cheese (we like sharp)
Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix

Cut cauliflower into flowerettes (that means smaller pieces) and place into a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle a little water over it (probably about a tablespoon if you need a measurement.) Cover and cook on HIGH for 4-5 minutes until tender-crisp.
Sprinkle generously with cheese and then sprinkle lightly with stuffing mix. Cook, uncovered, on HIGH for 30 seconds.

And you thought you couldn't get kids to eat cauliflower!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday Things

I am amazed at creative minds. Like the one who thought of putting faces on the feet of pants. Specifically the bunny faces on this "My first Easter" outfit. In addition to keep baby toes warm...

...they provided entertainment all day long!

And the blanket for new Baby Cousin (who is due to arrive very soon) is all done.  I left it drying on my kitchen after the blocking process on Sunday and just got a chance to go home and photograph it yesterday. I hope Baby Cousin enjoys this one as much as Baby Sister likes her blue one.

Pattern:  Crib-Blanket-Afghan I by Anne Norling (Big Blue Blocks)
Yarn:  Tahki Cotton Classic
Needles: size 6

Breakfast in the car is not unusual in America. Drive-thru windows are conveniently located everywhere for busy people on the way to work. But this week breakfast here at Mommy's house breakfast was "picked up" at "McMimi's!" Sausage biscuits yesterday morning and this morning, I used the leftover biscuits to make toasted cinnamon biscuits. Mommy and Big Sister usually leave here for school when it is still dark outside. Anyway they can manage to eat breakfast that early is a good way. That old "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" saying has much truth in it.

As I sat here writing this morning, I turned my head just in time to see a mama bird land on her nest on the front porch. (I started to write that a new arrival was expected at this house--but quickly realized that I surely didn't need to start the wrong kind of gossip!)

Figuring my climbing skills were not completely gone, I managed to get high enough to hold the camera over my head and get this photo. I think we are going to have a ring side seat for watching the bird family for the next few weeks.

Time for a second cup of coffee before Baby Sister wakes up. It's gonna be a good day!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What Do I Do?

When I was a stay-at-home mother with a baby and a toddler, people would often ask me, "What do you do all day?" The tone of their voice implying that I probably sat around watching TV or maybe I slept a lot.  Not much anyone could say would make me quite so mad as that question. I did all the child care things during the day--feeding, bathing, dressing, rocking, reading, singing, playing, wiping faces, wiping bottoms, etc. in addition to the house stuff that all moms must do. Plus when I went grocery shopping, it was with two little ones in tow, so it took about three times as long.

Now I'll be the first to admit I don't do quite as much all day as I did nearly 30 years ago. Thankfully, it's not all my responsibility now. But Baby Sister and I do manage to stay busy. Funny thing is that the comment I hear now is, "I don't know how you do it every day." Hey! I'm older but I'm not ancient. Yet. 

Here is just a little peek at yesterday...

Feeding her cereal in the morning often means a change of clothes is coming. Sometimes for me, too. This usually leads to a load or two of laundry.

Notice the John Deere label on the suit?  Why haven't the New Holland folks caught on to this marketing idea?

Playing with a new favorite toy. Sitting up is a fairly new skill and so it's hard work. A good nap might follow a hard afternoon of play.

Every time Baby Sister is in the floor, her Mimi is in the floor, too. I'm proud I can still get up!

And, yes, when the baby naps, I take a break now. Often a knitting break. What's on my needles?  The Rubik's Cube of knitting--at least in my mind. A pair of socks.  I'm still figuring this whole sock thing out. This is my second pair. I am so happy I remembered what I did the first time. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Baby Sister Says...

 "The best way to eat a giraffe?"

"Personally, I like to start with the legs."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Come To The Table

"Come to the table" is often how the invitation to come to the altar for communion is extended.  Communion is such a special part of our church life. And today Baby Sister went to the altar with her mommy. A baby, man who will be 100 years old in a few weeks, and every age in between--all coming together to share the bread and wine (except it's grape juice in our church.)

Baby Sister was born early and spent several weeks in the hospital. When it was time to go home, flu season had just started. So her doctors recommended staying away from crowds until all danger of flu had passed. And this year it seemed to last forever. So this week was Baby Sister's first Sunday morning service. It's not proper to take photos during the service, so you will have to picture the scene as the baby came into the sanctuary. She was positively a magnet! Everyone wanted to come look and oooh and aahhh. And Baby Sister wanted to see everyone who was looking at her, her little head turning quickly this way and that way. And she responded to all of the attention with smiles for everyone.

Our sanctuary was built in 1897. The history of this church is a long one, going back further than this building. This week Baby Sister starts a new chapter as she becomes part of the history in this church.