Sunday, September 30, 2007

Tea Towel Craft

A long time ago, I had prepared a tea towel craft for a group of friends to work on at a tea. I had purchased a nice waffle-weave toweling fabric, and cut and hemmed all of the edges. I had a pretty pink lace trim for us to handstitch to each end. The event never materialized as planned, and the craft lay abandoned in a storage box in my basement.

I began thinking about it when I saw that my current kitchen towels were becoming worn and stained. These were inexpensive towels I found at my mother's house after she passed. I sewed little plastic rings to the middle of one edge of each towel, to hang on other side of the sink - one towel for hands, one for dishes:

I decided to go ahead and stitch the lace trim and plastic rings on two of the craft towels and see how they worked in the kitchen. Although they are very pretty, I do believe they are a little to fancy for kitchen work:

So I took the other towels and just sewed the rings on, leaving off any trim:

Finally, I removed the rings from the fancy towels and gave them a new home in my downstairs bathroom. I do believe they look lovely!

Donnie By Candlelight

During a candlelit dinner, our cat, Donnie, decided to take an impromtu nap on the table:

Although we weren't pleased with his choice of locale, he looked very elegant!

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Weekend to be Grateful For

We just had a very lovely weekend. We celebrated Paul's 50th birthday in an extended fashion; his actual birthday fell on the Thursday, so we waited until Friday, when he took a day off from work, to begin. We went to the Chicago Botanical Gardens, one of our favorite places in the world, for several hours on Friday. We saw hummingbirds up close in the "Circle Garden", the model train landscape garden, the fruit and vegetable garden, a heron standing near the water's edge, and the enabling garden (which has all sorts of plants and fountains that are meant to be touched - excellent for Tyler!). We had a picnic too of our usual picnic fare - cheeses, crackers, fruit, and chocolate. I had brought some 100% whole wheat bread and stuck to that, cheese, and fruit, since I am trying to avoid refined white sugar and flour.

On Saturday we had pancakes in the morning (recipe is in my last blog entry). I took care of Tyler while the kids were at their various activities and Paul was doing wood-working in the back yard. It was a very quiet day for me. I was taking it easy because I was in the midst of my monthly migraine headache. The difference this time (and last month) is that I finally have a medication that gets rid of the pain. It's called Imitrex. It makes me somewhat sluggish and tired, but I am so grateful to be rid of that ghastly pain, that used to last for just about 60 hours, that I will gladly take tired and sluggish! In the evening we watched a comedy and ate Italian food (pizza for the family, whole wheat pasta and sauce for me!).

On Sunday we had my cheddar-chive muffin recipe in the skillet. I made it with whole wheat bread and honey this time. It was different, but still good. I had to add extra ww flour, because the honey adds liquid, whereas the sugar I previously would use does not. Then we went to church. After church we finally had Paul's birthday cake (okay, I did cheat and have a piece!). After that, Paul continued on his wood-working project while Tyler napped and the girls and I went for some new clothes for them. We stopped at the brand-new Whole Foods on our way home. It's huge! The girls went about, trying all the free samples they had available. We had dinner, and then Paul and I took Tyler for a stroll and a brief visit to the park, which he just loves. It was such a beautiful evening, and I just felt so glad for the nice time we had.

Because I did not lose the whole weekend suffering in tremendous pain, and accomplishing nothing, I was able to keep up with housework and cooking, so that I was ready to start the week right. And my improved eating habits have given me so much more energy. I went to Bible study this morning. Later, Julie and I were able to take care of her voter registration, details at the office for Tyler's medical insurance, buy him his first pair of shoes, and clean his room this morning. I have started cleaning my room; just took a break to write here for a bit. I feel very blessed that God has given me relief from my pain, and the motivation to eat properly so that I can function as I wish to function as a mom and grandma!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Wake up! It's Time for Pancakes!

Now that Robert is attending Catholic high school, I have become an early riser. This is not my ideal - I am more of a night-owl by nature. But between him and baby grandson Tyler, there is no chance to sleep in. I have been waking at the unheard-of (for me) hour of 6:00 am. I have 20 minutes to get in and out of the shower before Robert needs to get in the bathroom. While he gets ready I make breakfast.

An online friend had once mentioned making pecan pancakes using freshly-ground, whole wheat flour. This sounded delightful, since Paul loves pecan pancakes. And now that I have a grain mill, I love the idea of grinding fresh flour for my recipes. I find that with whole wheat pancakes, my blood sugar does not plummet the way it normally does an hour or so after I eat pancakes or waffles made with refined white flour. I found a nice recipe online. This recipe works with any filling: chocolate chips, blueberries, etc. Or just plain. I have adapted it a bit from the original, but I will post the link to the original recipe below.

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 to 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted if desired, or other filling (optional)
cooking spray for the pan
pecan halves or fruit for garnish, optional

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, soda, and chopped pecans (optional).
In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk and milk, egg yolks, and melted butter. Blend wet and dry ingredients just until all ingredients are moistened.
Fold beaten egg whites into the batter until well incorporated.

Original recipe

The good news is that Tyler just LOVES pancakes. He eats them like they were going out of style. The rest of us like them too! What a lovely way to feed the family.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A New Tea Cozy

I've been wanting a second tea cozy for a long time now. I like to have two pots of tea brewed when my lady friends come over, so we all have a choice, but I only had one cozy to keep the pots warm with.
A fellow blogger, Anna, had made a darling cozy and offered it for sale. So I bought it! I opened the package today and tried it out. It fits perfectly over my grandmother's tea pot. So I had a nice little afternoon tea (Irish Breakfast tea with buttered toast), and my new cozy kept my tea hot. (P.S. I put it on straight out of the mailing envelope, which is why there is a little crease. I just couldn't wait to try it!)

Here it is:


I have some photos to share of some of our garden successes. By far the tomatoes, radishes, carrots, and eggplant did the best. Also our acorn squash and watermelon. I must caution though - watermelon and cantaloupe take up so much space with their sprawling leaves. I don't think we'll plant them next year. Plus the cantaloupe did not produce fruit yet, except for tiny ones that did not mature. Maybe there is still hope that something will happen before the cold arrives.

Cherry tomatoes - I love to go into the garden and just graze on these, right off the vine!

Our watermelon, just about ready to eat. (This one set fruit in the row in between the garden boxes - as I said, it just sprawled everywhere, and except for some occasional pruning, we left it alone.)

Acorn squash, with Nasturtiums.

Our prize eggplant, harvested, and ready to be turned into Eggplant Parmesan!

Critter Control in the Square Foot Garden

At the start of our harvest season in our garden, the animals were beginning to chomp on some of our tender vegetables. I was particularly dismayed one day to find our first, almost-ripe tomato that had been chewed. How disappointing! I love animals, but I was a little put off by them that day.

So, Paul and I consulted the SQFT garden book and learned how to make some critter-control structures. These are simply 1/2" PVC piping (found in the plumbing section of your local home improvement store) cut to size, curved into an arc, and stuck into the edges of the SQFT box. A cross piece is then added to the top with cable ties, and netting is then draped over the entire thing. We have to find a better way to hold down the netting for next year. The blocks we have here are too large and we trip over them.

Eggplant and tomatoes, with geraniums.

Another view, with the southwest garden box and its critter control.

A special little "critter" I found in my garden!