Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Grandma’s Brown Sugar Drops

It's that time of year! Treasured memories flood my mind when December rolls around and this year, well, this year is a bit different. You see, it's my first year as an orphan. To be orphaned at 57 years of age is a blessing, but still, those wistful feelings can't be ignored. I remember it like yesterday, Mom would teach all day and come home to bake cookies, dozens and dozens of cookies and some peanut brittle, fudge and divinity. I remember laying in bed, watching the sparkle of the Christmas tree lights, listening to the Christmas albums playing on the record player and smelling Mom's creations. It just doesn't get any better than that.

As a child I was a picky eater, but I loved almost all of my mother's Christmas baking. The exception was a brown sugar drop cookie filled with pecans and fruit. I didn't keep the recipe. Thank goodness my 89 year old aunt still has it, because my tastes have changed. Aunt Lea can't bake anymore, so a dear friend and I went yesterday and did some baking for her. Now she has some of her favorite Christmas cookies to give out as in years past. It was a special day creating new memories for this old orphaned girl.

I'd like to share Mom's 'almost lost' cookie recipe. Hope you enjoy it as much as we have.

Grandma’s Brown Sugar Drops

Mix thoroughly:
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar 
2 eggs

Stir in:

½ cup sour milk, buttermilk
or water

Sift together:

3 1/2 to 4 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Chill at least one hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drop by teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheet  Bake until set -- 8-10 minutes.

Holiday Fruit

Add in:

1 ½ cups broken pecans
2 cups candied cherries (red and green)
2 cups dates

Place one pecan half on top of each. Make these smaller.

Jeweled Cookies

Add in:
4 cups cut up gum drops

One half gum drop on top of each.

Jeweled Cookies

Perfect Peanut Brittle

Peanut Blossoms

May your holiday season be filled with precious memories of time spent with loved ones. 

Merry Christmas to all!
Linda <><

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Soup Weather

Seattle Japanese Garden

It's full on fall here and I love it! We had an especially hot summer, so the cool, crisp days are a welcome change. Quite honestly I could eat soup all year, even on the hottest days, but there is something comforting about soup simmering on the stove filling the air with the bounty of the harvest. 

Beautiful Savoy Cabbage

In searching for a recipe with bok choy and sweet potatoes I found this Chinese Nine Vegetable Hot and Sour Soup. Not something I would normally make, but so, so tasty! I had never cooked with savoy cabbage before and I thought it was really lovely when I cut into it. 

Adding the bok choy
The recipe filled my Dutch oven. 

Making enough for several meals at home and some to give away. 

As you could imagine prepping nine vegetable is pretty time consuming, but well worth it for a giant pot of simmering, savory soup!

Just some of my over used prep gadgets
Do you have any favorite, overused kitchen gadgets?

A colorful soup to enjoy on these colorful autumn days. 

Sunset from my front yard

My hope it that you, too, are taking time to enjoy autumn and the harvest.

Linda <><

Monday, March 2, 2015

March On

The month of February slipped by in my house and, quite honestly, I'm glad it's gone! Don't get me wrong, here, in the Pacific Northwest it was a beautiful, unseasonably warm, dry month. But there was that painful Seahawk loss and then flu hit our home and hit it hard. Might have had something to do with sharing those sticky Skittles at our Superbowl party. In fact, the whole neighborhood has been sick.

On the bright side, we celebrated my better half's birthday(and Valentines day) between bouts of flu with our sweet children and a great home-cooked meal, including an incredible chocolate blood orange tart made by my daughter. I also got to make my Cabbage Burgers which I make every year for my aunt on her birthday. Since we can only buy traditional 'Nebraska' cabbage burgers in Nebraska they are a real treat for her. They are a labor intensive treat!

Cabbage Burgers or Runza

I am grateful to have accomplished anything when, for the most part, I just wanted to sit and sleep! The 'tidying up' continues and I've begun listing my de-stash.

Crobots: 20 Amigurumi Robots to Make  in Cage Free Fibers

Yesterday, feeling rested and refreshed, we took a walk through the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden in Federal Way, Washington and discovered more blooms than usual for this time of year! 

Pacific Bonsai Museum

I'm grateful God is with us through the tough seasons. Really, if we didn't have hard times, how would we truly understand the wonder and depth of simple, joyful times?

Philippians 4:11B by GodsWordandWorld on etsy

Here's to a productive, joy-filled March!
Linda <><

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Just Another Day in Paradise

Yesterday my daughter and I loaded the back of the pick-up truck with 7 boxes and 11 bags of discards to take to the thrift store. 

Now there is room in my moms old steamer trunk
for some of my daughters' treasured toys

And today the discarding continues, it feels good. But it also feels good to get out and enjoy this beautiful world. 

Paradise at Mount Rainier with Edith Creek and Tatoosh Range

After another powerful message at church on Saturday night we chose to head for the mountains Sunday morning. Needless to say we did not require long underwear! It was in the 60s and with the sun reflecting off the snow and the workout snowshoes provide we were just plain hot!

You can see the steam coming off the top

We packed a snack for lunch.

Our view for lunch

We've been promised rain for next Sunday, that's fine, we'll be glued to the TV.

A mountaintop 'twelfie'

I hope you, too, can take time out from your everyday activities to celebrate the beauty of God's creation!

Heading back down


Sing for joy, O heavens; shout, O earth. Break forth with song, O mountains, for the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion upon them in their sorrow. 
  --  Isaiah 49:13

The end!

Linda <><

Thursday, January 22, 2015

And So It Grows

The pastor's message  was a simple one. All we have and all we are is God's and not our own. This made it a bit easier to continue the process of discarding 'my' belongings as the weeks progress. Other commitments have slowed things down a bit, but I have faith and I'm appreciating what I've accomplished. So far I'm not missing anything. 

The donate pile grows

This has been my main focus for the past few weeks. I thank God for brightening these days in ways to numerous to list. Here are some of the images. Hope they brighten your day as well.

Someone found a patch of sunshine

A walk with my daughter along Ruston Way

Morning walk as the fog burns off

First camellia blossom in my back yard on a frosty morning

And then there was that Seahawk comeback!

Have a great week and count your blessings!
Linda <><

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Bring it on

It's week two of tidying up! My emotions have swung up and down this week, from so happy I'm getting this all accomplished to completely overwhelmed and I'll never get it done.

One day as I was seeing progress in my (and my husband's) bedroom I took something into my studio/daughter's old bedroom. I almost burst into tears seeing how bad it was. I asked God to help me to ignore the 'evil one's' voice and give me hope. I turned on the TV to do a little hand sewing and Shirley Temple's The Little Princess was on. I then understood how she brought hope to a whole generation. I can see this process will have it's ups and downs, but "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" -- Philippians 4:13. 

Let me back up to one year. My blog post, In 2014, mentions my plan to reduce and organize, and I have been trying a little bit at a time. It took us nearly two months to get through the office and, though it's better, it it far from organized. With the KonMari method you don't do it a little bit at a time. You do it all at once and you do it massively.

She suggests a particular order starting with clothes and finishing with mementos. By starting with the least sentimental stuff and ending with the most the hope is to become an expert at discarding by the time you get to the hard stuff. I strayed from this order and I can tell there is a reason for it.

I came across tiger, one of my favorite childhood toys, dating all the way back to my first years. I thought I could let him go. He was even in the donation bag. Then I took him out, took a picture and thought again. Yes, he does still 'spark joy'. That is the criteria, if something sparks joy you keep it. I've decided to take tiger on my hikes this year, take some more photos of him, and then decide. But with the possibility of grandchildren someday, I think he'll stay. 

One of my goals while 'tidying' is to use items on hand for organizing rather than buying new stuff. The changes in the pantry are not that obvious at first glance, but it is much, much better. The only thing we bought for the pantry was the cat food container, because that swing lid trash can wasn't working. By the time we were through I was able to store a few things that used to sit on the counter and I put my tea bags in the rectangular basket instead of a canister where I always had to dig to find what I wanted. We did purchase drawer dividers from The Container Store and Daiso and some small plastic organizers form Daiso.

pantry before and after

Before I close for this week let me take you back even further. As I was looking through old papers I found a list of strengths, weaknesses, goals and specific actions I had hand written in the early 90's. It was interesting to say the least. My first weakness was, can you guess? Disorganized! I was not taught organizational skills at home or even in home ec which was my college major. Let's hope reducing will help!

Today I went through books. I've pulled out over 100 to donate and sell! I can't believe I had that many. I have to say it's liberating to get rid of them!

some of the books that will stay

I'll leave you with a few photos of the kitchen drawers  my daughter did Christmas Eve and I have been enjoying.

former junk drawer

utensils with Daiso dividers

utensils with Container store dividers
(I like these better)

May you have a joy filled, productive week!
Linda <><

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Tidying Up

It was Christmas Eve day and we were preparing for an annual tradition; a nearby outdoor candlelight service under the tall cedars, then an intimate gathering of neighbors at our home. My daughter sweeps in having read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and decides this would be a good time to clean out and organize my kitchen drawers! We survived the ordeal and she has since given me my very own copy of the book. I understand her excitement and it has begun. I hope to share my progress and enthusiasm in the following weeks.

First, and just because it really needed to be dealt with, my husband and I cleaned out our too small pantry.

Top shelf didn't need much 

The rest of it, however, was in dire need


It's now 99% improved, but I'm not posting any pictures until it is 100%!

Here is before and after of one drawer I completed today.

T shirt drawer before

T shirt drawer after

Now it's a t shirt, tank top and cardigan drawer

I won't go into all of Marie's methods, the book is a great, short read. I have concluded that she has found a way to make a living out of her own personal OCD and that's not a bad thing. 

As I complete this process I will be putting my etsy shop on the back burner, leaving it open, but not restocking after the holiday busyness. I feel like I will complete this feeling refreshed and inspired.

Everyone isn't messy like me. However, if you are I suggest reading this book.  A lot of it just made me laugh, but it also got me pretty excited about getting my home in order.

I don't want to call this a New Year's resolution. I don't really like to make them, do you? I'm not saying I don't or have never made New Year's resolutions. In fact, last year on January 1st I began a schedule to read through the Bible in a year chronologically and I finished it December 30th (one day ahead of schedule.) But I think they can be defeating and limiting. One of my favorite verses is Lamentations 3:23 "Great is his faithfulness, his mercies begin afresh each day." Indeed, every day is a new day to our Heavenly Father. For that I am grateful!

Happy New Year!  
Linda <><