Friday, December 21, 2012

Aunt Emma's Chocolate Mint Cookies

This recipe has been a favorite in our home for years.  Mom always made them every Christmas. Mom and Dad also had them made by the hundreds for their 40th wedding anniversary in 1988.

They are printed in The Durrant Family Cookbook "A Home-Cooked Heritage" page VIII-1 (cookie section) Book published in 1991, reprinted December 2010.

 I don't know when they became a holiday staple in our house, but I have to make them every year too.  These cookies just seem to say Merry Christmas to me. 

This is a three-step cookie, but it really couldn't be easier.  It has a brownie base, a creamy frosting filling and a bitter-sweet dark chocolate topping.  Yum! I double this recipe to fit in a large, 12x14 sheet pan.

2 eggs, beaten
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp peppermint extract or 5-6 drops of peppermint oil
1/2 c. margarine melted (I use butter)
2 squares melted unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 c. sifted flour
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped small

Beat eggs, (but not like I did,) margarine and sugar together well. Add chocolate and flavoring. Then add flour and nuts.  Pour into a 9" square pan.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.  Cool and ice with:
1 c. Powdered sugar
1 T. cream
2 T. soft margarine (again, I used butter)
3-4 drops of peppermint oil
Put in the fridge for about 10 minutes until the icing is set, then cover with:
1 square of bitter/sweet chocolate melted together with 1 T. melted butter.

When set, cut into small squares.

Maybe one of my relatives can remind me who Aunt Emma is and why we love her cookie so much.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mending Jeans

My cousin asked me today if people still really do this, well, yes, I still do.
My hubby regularly rips holes in knees and so do my four boys.  Buying new jeans is just not an option for us. I have even been known to pick some up at the thrift store and repair them as well.  Boys size 10-12 jeans are hard to come by so I'll take what I can get.
Here's a little tutorial on how I accomplish this task without the use of those yucky iron-on patches.
First of all, I keep any lower pant legs that I cut off from making denim shorts out of the "too-bad-to-mend" pairs. 
This is my "patch" material.
Step one: Open up the leg seam about 8 inches past the seam on both sides.  Give yourself plenty of room to get into the leg area.
Step two: Cut your patch about 1-2 inches bigger than the size of the hole. Make it a nice square or rectangle in proportion with the hole.
Step three: Turn your pant leg inside out and stick a large ruler inside or a piece of heavy cardboard so you have a surface to pin against. Placing the right side of the patch to the wrong side of the pant leg, pin the patch in place.  Be careful, don't prick yourself, and now turn the pant leg right side out.
Step four: Using a wide zig-zag, stitch the patch down reaching underneath and removing pins as you come to them.  Stay about 1 inch away from the hole and feeling with your fingers to be sure you are still on the patch as you sew. You should have plenty of room with that leg seam opened.
Step five: Now, clip diagonally into the corners of the pant leg and carefully trim away just the frayed edges.  Turn this flap under and top stitch zig-zag over this edge holding it into place.
This shows me rounding the fourth edge and stitching all those edges down.
Step six: turn the pant leg wrong side out and carefully trim away the edges of the patch, being careful to only trim the patch and not the pant leg.
Finally, step seven: close the pant leg seam.  I zig-zag the edge mimicking the serged factory edge and then I use a straight stitch  on top of the former stitching line.
The finished patch!
These jeans have a lot of life in them still and I may be able to pass them on to the next two kids too!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Beginning Canning Class

Yesterday was my first beginning Canning class. I had three lovely ladies attend. We had such a good time learning and working together.
I heard this quote this morning and I think it really applies, "Give a woman a jar of food and you feed her for a day, but teach her how to can an you feed her and her family for a lifetime!"
What an amazing legacy. I'm honored to have the opportunity to impart some knowledge of the craft to these ladies.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Canning shelves

My kids and I built these shelves after only one day of planning and one day of building.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Thrift store find

I found this at the local thrift store and brought her home with me.
I'm not good with anything other than dating the machine. Can anyone tell me what model she is and how I can get parts.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Durrant Cookbook-Powerhouse Pudding

Here's another quick review from the Durrant Family Cookbook, A Home-Cooked Heritage.
I believe this recipe originally came from the back of the Cream of Wheat container, but I have done research on the web and I can't seem to find any evidence of that. Maybe it's just lost to everyone but we Durrants who have the cookbook.
So, here is our family-favorite breakfast.

It was originally published in the dessert section of the Durrant Cookbook because of the name pudding, but it's really hot cereal.

8 c. milk (I use 8 c. water and 2-3 c. powdered milk)
1 tsp salt.
1 c. Instant Cream of Wheat
4 eggs, beaten

Bring milk and salt to a boil. Slowly sprinkle in Cream of Wheat, stirring constantly. Keep stirring over medium heat for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Beat a little of the hot cream of wheat into the beaten eggs. Return egg mixture to pan, stir and cook 1 minute more.
Add your choice of flavoring and serve hot or chilled.
Stir in 1/3 c sugar, 2 tsp. vanilla, 1 tsp almond flavoring. Top with frozen strawberry jam.

Stir in 1/2 c. sugar, 3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate bits as Cream of Wheat cooks. Top with milk or cream.

When I make this, I beat the eggs into the sugar and the vanilla and almond extracts and then continue as directed. 


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Laundry soap revisited...

I'm frugal.
Some may call me down right cheap.
That's ok.  When you have a family as big as ours you have to find ways to be creative.  When Bear bought me a new washer and dryer set, we stocked up on Arm and Hammer liquid laundry detergent. I like it, it works and it's pretty cheap too.
But this month, our budget took a major hit.  Big Blue, my '98 Suburban blew the engine. She was very sick.  So, her new heart is costing us this month's grocery budget and then some.  I had to find ways of cutting corners.
We have been living off our food storage this month and doing without the "fun stuff" in order to pay for the "heart" transplant.
I thought that since my laundry detergent supply was getting low I would save my pennies and buy the ingredients to make my own.
I've done this before, and made the liquid kind but I really didn't care for the gloppy goop that I came up with. 
I have no place in my laundry room for a large 5 gallon bucket to sit, and I didn't like having to shake and shake the smaller jugs in order to get it to congeal. When I would melt the soap on the stove, it would bubble up and once it boiled over and created a gross, soapy Mt. Vesuvius, not unlike this mishap.

After a recent discussion on one of my quilt groups I decided to give the dry version of laundry soap a try. 

It couldn't be any easier!! Finding the ingredients was the difficult part.  I couldn't find washing soda at Walmart, though other bloggers say it is there--neither is the fels naptha bars.  I found them today at the Ace Hardware store, all three simple ingredients, right there on the same ailse.

I had quite an interesting convo with the lady at the checkout. The guy behind me called me Betty Crocker, though I prefer Holly Homemaker, or Becky Home Ecky, I'll take what I can get.
One bar Fels Naptha soap
2 c. Borax
2 c. Washing soda
1/4 Purex Color Safe Bleach (totally optional!)

 I came home and grabbed my empty ice cream bucket and lid. Inside I found the trimmings from our home schooler's Ivory carvings from our "trip to India" last fall. 

I threw them in the food processor and the new bar of Fels Naptha and set it to pulse, and pulse, and pulse--then I just turned it on and let it process for about a minute.
Next time I'll grate the Fels Naptha soap first and then pulverize it with the cutting blade.

I dumped the washing soda in and then the borax. I also added a couple of scoops of Purex Color safe bleach powder because I have boys. You mothers with boys will appreciate that.

This is what my mixture looks like.  You can see some little chunks of the fels naptha bar, but it is mostly a fine powder--sort of like cornmeal.

 I use an old medicine cup to measure, it's about 1 1/2 tablespoons of soap.  I have a top loading Whirlpool HE machine, and I poured it into the soap dispenser on the top of the machine.  It runs water through it as the machine fills.  I did notice the bigger chunks of the fels naptha bar stayed on top of the grate/screen portion of my washer. That might be a problem later.

I did read on a blog that if you leave your soap unwrapped in a warm dry place, (top of the water heater, on a sunny windowsill) it will help it to dry out and the soap will be more crumbly and less moist.

I'll update soon with a cost analysis.  That is the point here isn't it?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Something REALLY IMPORTANT to blog about...
The quilt was made by my sister Sylvia and me in memory of my brother Gordon who recently died of Leukemia.
The money goes to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. My neice Kristy and my brother Brian are training to run in the City of Trees Marathon on October 14th. The goal is $4500 for our team ($1500 X 3) and they are at almost $1500 right now.
The quilt my sister Sylvia and I created is now being auctioned. Contact my neice Kristy at the above link, if you are interested.  Tickets are $1. You don't need to be present to win, nor do you need to attend to purchase tickets.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Being satisfied

I find myself wishing a lot lately. 

Wishing I were thinner, wishing my foot didn't hurt, wishing it wouldn't rain so much, wishing the laundry was finished--and would stay that way. I wish that summer was here already, wishing the kids were better at doing their schoolwork.

The thing I most wish is that were moving. Not necessarily packing and driving to a new place, but that we knew the direction God has planned for us--that we were actually going places, heading in a new direction.

God isn't finished with us here yet and I think that is what irritates me.  I think in my own feeble mind that I have learned all I can here and it's time to move on.  I long to be settled. I long to be able to plant an apple tree and see it grow from a young sapling to a productive tree.  I long to plan and design a home that will be comfortable with my things in their places.

I'm ready, but God says wait.  God has said that for a while now and I get so impatient just waiting. 

In the movie "Fireproof" there is a John Waller song called "While I'm waiting" that really has made an impression on me. I think about it when I get impatient.  I think to myself, am I still worshipping the God who is in control? Am I serving those around me? Am I supporting my Chaplain/husband? Am I teaching and instructing those children/gifts that God has given me? Am I preparing them for what God has in store for us next?

So, while I am impatient to go, while I want to move on and I'm feeling so dissatisfied with where we are, I will wait. I will serve and I will worship and I will learn to be prepared for the next step. Whenever it may come and wherever it may lead.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I'll take her on...

Years ago, when I started this blog I made up this persona, Skinny Girl.  She lives inside of me and has even made herself public for a while after the birth of Robbie. I've managed to subdue her and keep her quiet with copious amounts of chocolate cake, pies and very little activity.

I'm surprised at how easy it was to shut her up.
She's been screaming for a few months and I can't ignore her any longer. She occasionally rears her skinny little head and crabs at me to take a hike--or a walk--whatever; the message is the same to me.

I don't like Fat Girl either. She's annoying.  She whines about aches and pains and bi-focals and tendonitis. I'm tired of hearing how her clothes don't fit right, how the bathroom scales show larger numbers during "that time of the month."

So, in order to shut them both up, and thereby create a bit more sanity inside my head, I have tried to take long walks along our bike path, but I've developed foot pain.  I'm heading out to the Doc today to see what it is.  It's annoying, that's for sure.

So because walking hurts, I bought a bike--nothing fancy or speedy.  A pretty little plum colored Shwinn. She has a wide seat, just like mine, goofy broad touristy handles and a basket.

I imagine myself looking like this,

But I'm sure I really look like Margaret Hamilton.

Now that Margaret's "theme music" is stuck in your head, I'm pulling out Penelope Shwinn and going to take a spin.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Busy with my new friend, Lucy

My new friend is my Tin Lizzie, whom I have affectionately named Lucy.  She and I have been getting to know one another as we work out our little idiosincrisies.
I've finished 7 quilt since I got her up and running just a month and a half.  My free motion quilting has improved, and I've learned a few things that have made my quilting better.  The biggest thing I have learned is to slow down and do things right the first time.  Planning the design is probably the hardest part.

I have completed some quilts using an all over meander, scrolls with hearts, flowers and stars intermingled. My greatest accomplishment is a sampler quilt for a friend. I can't unveil it yet because it hasn't been given yet. Soon, I promise.

Here are a few pictures of the latest finishes:

 This is a quilt top my Mom put together with a piece of vintage toy fabric. The toys are vintage and so is the fabric! I quilted it with an all over scroll design.  It was quilt number 1.
 Quilt number 2 is for my daughter Miss Busy.  She loves girly, daisies.  We bought this as a kit from a shop down in Ocean Shores, Washington.  It only took me about 3 years to put it together.  {smile}
 The next one is a wonky Log Cabin quilt for my son, Ace.  This is the third quilt in a series.  Each boy has a scrappy, wonky Log Cabin quit for their beds.  All three boys share a room so that I can have a sewing room for myself.  (Aren't they nice?)
 This is the Bricks of Healing quilt for my brother Gordon.  It started out as a project for him, but turned into a comfort quilt for his wife after his passing.
 This is my latest finish.  It's a Blue Ridge Beauty pattern from Bonnie Hunter's book Adventures with Leaders and Enders. This quilt is also for a gift, so I can't really give you any more information.  I wish I could mail along an automatic video camera with it.  I love to see the smiles when a gift is received.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tin Lizzie 18 DLS

My dear sweet hubby let me buy, in fact encouraged me to purchase, a floor model Tin Lizzie 18 DLS. 
I've been stitching lots of flimsies lately, and getting a lot done, yet I feel sort of numb to it all.

I put money down on layaway before Gordon died and brought the machine home just after the funeral.

I promise I will post pictures and add descriptions soon, my heart hurts, I'm in emotional pain and quilting gives me something to concentrate on and a brainless task to accomplish.  It has been my therapy, literally, to go in my sewing room and just work.

The house is sort of falling apart, my kids are bickering and their schooling is slacking considerably.

This post may not even be coherent, I'm feeling very foggy since Gordon's funeral.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

My dearly beloved brother.

This is my brother's obituary.  I'm reposting it here, but removing all last names as this blog is basically anonymous.  So if anyone thinks it is different, that is why.

Gordon, 48, of Lehi, Utah died Friday, March 16, 2012, after a short battle with leukemia. Gordon was born in1963 in Boise, Idaho, the fourth son and sixth child of Loren and Carolyn. He graduated from Kuna High School, attended Boise State University, and graduated from DeVry University with a B.S. in Computer Programming. He served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Anaheim, California. Gordon married his sweetheart Dixie and their blended family included one daughter and five sons. He worked for NuSkin as a software programmer and analyst.
One of Gordon’s greatest skills was his ability to serve others and make and develop lasting friendships. He was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and loved working with the youth. His fellow choir members and Primary class will miss him. He was so proud of his two sons, Tyler and Trenton, who are currently serving missions.
He is survived by his wife Dixie, and his children, Brianna, Brandon (Janie), Curtis, Tyler, Sean, and Trenton; his mother, Carolyn; and his siblings, Sylvia (Greg), Melinda (Dan), Brian (Pauline), Edwin (Julie), and Mary (Barry). He is also survived by his sister-in-law Sue (widow of Clarence). He will be missed by many nieces and nephews, cousins, and in-laws. He was preceded in death by his father Loren, his brother Clarence, and his mother-in-law Darlene, with whom he is having a wonderful reunion. His first granddaughter is expected in July and he will be the first to meet her.
Viewings will be from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, Monday, March 19 at Wing Morturary, 118 East Main, Lehi and from 10:00 to 10:45 am, Tuesday before the funeral service. Funeral services will be held at 11:00 am, Tuesday, March 20, 2012, in the Cedar Hollow Stake building, 2178 N 1200 E., Lehi, Utah.
The family wishes to thank the wonderful medical staff at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City and Intermountain Medical Center in Murray.

I'm too numb to write.  Too sad, mad and cranky to wax poetic.  My heart hurts.  I hate having to say goodbye to family members.  Could we just have a year with no funerals, please?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spools used in 2011!

I love seeing all those King Tut spools! Those mean completed quilts, because that's the quilting thread I use. Those are finished projects in that jar!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Seeing Orange

The first eight rows are finished for my brother's quilt. I'm still waiting for some stragglers to get here. I will be making an additional row to get them all in.
Can't wait to start quilting it!

Friday, March 2, 2012

1930s Hexies

A dear friend asked me to repair and then quilt this for her. It's about baby quilt sized and the Hexies are about 1.5 inches across.
I recognize some feed sacks and lovely cheddar solids. The ecru borders are batiste and organza. The organza is two layers in some places.
Where frugality abounds, there are no quilt police.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Thimbles and something extra...

Bonnie Hunter over at Quiltville asked her readers about thimbles, which ones we use, how we like them, etc. So here's my take on it.

I have several that I use, all the same kind actually. I have tried several that have ended up in the sewing basket graveyard.
I have a modified stretchy-band kind that I use for my "thumble" when I quilt using my floor frame. When I quilt in a hoop I just turn the hoop to the direction I need so that I can use my middle finger thimble.

I recently finished a quilt for a friend of mine that her grandmother had pieced and assembled. It was already basted, and the edges were folded over from the back. About 3 inches from the edge I hit a thick spot that really slowed me down, it turns out the lady had added a layer of flannel to the poly batting before it was basted. I bet it helps keep them warm during those Colorado winters, but boy, was it hard to quilt through.

My favorite thimble, and the ones that I keep in every little sewing basket in the house, is a nickel plated steel from the local quilt shop.  I find them all over my house, it's quite funny actually. If I gathered them all up I might have a dozen or so.

The large size fits my knobby knuckles and stays on.  It feels secure when I'm pushing the needle through the thickest seams.

This next one has a wonderful brass "coin" in the end and feels fairly secure, yet the leather has stretched and won't stay on my finger. 

This next one I keep around mostly for sentimental reasons, it was given to me by a friend when she traveled to Alaska.  It's made out of a skin of some kind, it is leather and has fur on the outside.  She said it is what the Eskimos would use to stitch through tough leather.  Frankly, I can't imagine that.  It slips off the end of my finger and the tiny little band that goes across the back of my finger seems to fragile for much hard usage.

I always keep my eye out for sewing related things at the yard sales I see, and one day I found a particularly wonderful sewing basket of goodies. Here are a few of the pretties I found. It is a beautiful piece of "jewelry." It has little flowers around the edges.
In this picture you can see the thread guide. Does anyone out there know what this might be for? Do you know its age?

I love these needle books I found.  This one came from Gambles Paint Headquarters. 

This one came from House of Fabrics.  From an era where customer service and "good customer gifts" were commonplace.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Quilt Block Tutorial

Many of my family members have asked for a tutorial for the quilt block for my brother's quilt.  He was recently diagnosed with leukemia. 
I decided to make a quilt for signatures.  This is what I came up with.

For this block you will need the following pieces:
beige center: cut one 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangle
Orange outer "bricks" cut two 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangles
and two 2 1/2" x 6 1/2" rectangles.
Lay them out as pictured below:
 Using a scant 1/4" sew one rectangle to the beige center and press toward the colored piece, away from the center beige rectangle.
 Then sew the next rectangle to the opposite side and press away from the center piece.
 Take one of the longer rectangles and place it face up on your table and allign the center section face down on top of the strip so you can make sure the seams stay where you have pressed them and sew one side of the rectangle on.
 Flip this piece out and press again toward the orange strip.
 Sew the remaining strip to the other side and press outward from the center. Your block should measure 6.5" x 8.5".  If it is too small, your 1/4" seam allowance is too big, try moving your needle over to the right, or making a line with a piece of masking tape on the sewing machine bed. 
Sign your block within the center rectangle and use a permanent ultra fine point pen.  Heat set the ink so it will not run.  I use Pigma pens, which can be found at JoAnn's, Michael's or Hobby Lobby.

Send your blocks to me quickly if you are making one, leave a comment if you need my address, I won't be posting it here on my blog.

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