About ten years ago I revamped my recipe collection in a big way. First I threw out my dilapidated recipe box and hauled out recipes that I never used. Second, I found a cute whimsical Susan Branch cookbook kit with scrap booking pages and stickers. The book was cheap enough but cheaply made too, as I found out this year.
Like many housewives who cook everyday, my recipe book started to show wear and tear. Then one day after making a delicious meal for my family, the books’ binding fell apart. I busily shoved it on my little shelf in the kitchen and soon forget it’s desecration. Every time I reached for my recipe collection, the broken book with pages falling out reminded me that I had been doing this awhile and my book couldn’t keep up.
Last week, on an energetic whim, I set my mind to repairing and giving new life to my book. I searched our file cabinet and found a 1 ½ inch binder that one of the boys had used for school. I recycled it at the end of that year and put it in my stash of “ maybe I’ll use that someday.” I’m grateful for that because sometimes I throw things out in an organization fit.
Next I found plastic page protectors to slip all the handwritten and computer copied recipes in. I highly recommend this step because we all know cooking can be messy and can stain and alter our nice cards.
What I especially love about the Susan Branch cookbook kit was that it supplied folders with heading for extra recipes. What I’ve always done is displayed my favorites, family favorites,my mom’s recipes, Tom’s mom and dad’s and meme’s staunch winners on the pages and others can rest in the folders.
I bought the cookbook scrapbooking kit on Amazon but you could do it yourself, if you have the supplies needed. You would need a 1 ½ inch binder, scrapbook pages, stickers, recipe cards, pouches for the miscellaneous recipes and page protectors. If you do buy the scrapbook kit, try to find one with a sturdy binder or buy the binder separately.
Now I can’t wait to cook and use my cookbook, that I gave new life to. It’s the little things that make me happy in the kitchen.
Halloween was always a holiday exclusively for our boys. They would pick their costumes out a month before and the waiting and expectations would bubble over within them, like a rapid boiling pot of stew. There were years of cowboys ( I tend to remember Dylan was one twice) and simple ghosts of worn bed sheets. One year Dylan was a Power Ranger and coincidently it turned out his cousin wore another Power Ranger costume. Another Halloween Branden was disguised as Batman, a far cry from the little pumpkin suit he wore when he was two.
I look back on all those fleeting memories, years of costume picking and driving them around to neighbor’s houses to trick or treat, and their pumpkin buckets filled with candy. Halloween nights ended with a special visit to Grammy and Papa’s house down the road.
Last year Branden and I carved the pumpkins.That was our Halloween activity, as the years of fashioning big costumes and going out are long gone. It was so much fun to do it but bittersweet for me, for I knew it may be the last time. So with the boys gone and living their new lives, that leaves Tom and I to do the pumpkin carving this year. I mentioned it last week and I didn’t get an eye roll but no comment. I remember Tom carving pumpkins with the boys when they were young but it’s been years since he’s dabbled in orange squash flesh….the desire to do it fades with the boys gone.
Yesterday being the day before Halloween and having Sunday free time, I brought it up again. I kind of expected an excuse but was surprised when my husband smiled in anticipation. Hauling the round orange pumpkin gems in the house, I plunked them on our bar counter which is a handy work space.Laying multiple newspapers on the bar, we placed them on top and got to work. We dried the surface of each pumpkin, gathered two sharp knives and found a few colored sharpies to draw the faces.
Of course I had to play the eerie and entertaining Monster Mash song while we started with cutting the top. This is tricky for me because I’m afraid my knife will slip so I go slow and careful. Next we scooped out all the stringy and gooey guts with the pumpkin seeds in tow. We were organized and neat about it and dumped unwanted guts in a tall bucket to later add to our compost pile. Last we drew our eyes, noses and mouths and started carving them out.
It’s always been fun and a good treat to roast pumpkin seeds. I start by putting them in a colander and rinse them good. Then I drain them and dry them with paper towels. Next I place them in a thin layer on a baking sheet, drizzle olive oil and salt the seeds. Set the oven at 350 F and toast about 35 minutes or until golden brown. They are a yummy healthy snack and our sons always loved them!
Now our jack-o- lantern creations sit on the stoop awaiting for little luminescent candles tonight. Probably trick or treaters won’t come, as we live in a small rural community. Most families take their kids to other towns nearby where they can park their cars and walk along the streets. Most years I’m prepared but no trick or treaters show up. Who knows, maybe we will be surprised this year! The candy bars will be ready!
With that I hope no one gets scared, for it’s all in fun.
Listen to a true story of a few men from my family. I proudly tell it, fortunate to have witnessed it.
When people say ,” like father, like son”, what do you vision? A father and son who are mirrored images of each other in every way? Do you think of the son fitting the mold that the dad was made of? Let’s think about this…many sons are their own person ( as they should be, following their path) and go about their life somewhat separate and independent of dear ole dad and that’s okay. However, there are dad and sons who amazingly enough resemble each other in many ways and become best friends.Sometimes you will encounter or personally know of a magnificent father son duo, a twosome who do everything together in complete joy. I know such a team, a special father son relationship. These men I grew to know and love, my husband Tom and his dad Robert, but everyone called him Bob.
Tom and Bob were best buddies and did everything together. Dad and son worked hard at whatever project they were immersed in. They mowed lawns together as a fast acting team and prudently labored on car or building projects. This team” ran the roads chasing parts” for mowers and machines, and various other projects( our house project coming in a few paragraphs). Of course while traveling for parts, a frequent stop to Dunkin’ Donuts was called for!
Not only did Bob and Tom work hard, they had a passion for play as well. There were May fishing trips to Moosehead Lake, Maine with Tom’s brown van. The van served as a camper, where they cooked and slept. Years later they took our son, Dylan on a special fishing excursion when he was five. It was amazing for them to see Dylan magically catching fish left and right, as if he had a special power! It was such a spectacle that neighboring fishermen crowded in around this special boy, who could lure fish in better than a grown man. They wanted to know his secret.
Most of the time if one was nestled in the bowels of the garage, the other wasn’t far off. It was always important that they stay connected and if too many days passed, Bob would call his son or Tom would stop in at his folks’ home.This strong connection impressed me, for I had never witnessed anything like it. They were like two peas in a pod, not only in interests and talents, but also in their appearance. Picture them sauntering down a hill towards the family pond, each sporting a cap, their broad shoulders in flannel shirts and jeans. Two men, walking in the same shoes in complete cadence, father and son in sync. I wonder if they were aware of this, their distinct similarities.(Thanks for this idea, Bev.)
In the tradition of farmers of long ago,Bob had the magic ingenuity to rebuild broken items instead of throwing them away.He wasn’t one to spend all his money but saved it. He taught his son and his daughters this principle and it stands true today.Tom, his only son, learned this from his dad and continues to fashion parts together to fix household items and lawn machinery today.
My father-in-law made do with what they had in the garage or cleverly took parts off of random machines at the landfill. When equipment, appliances or mowers broke down in exhaustion, Bob and Tom used their fast thinking and solved the problem every time. They cleverly invented and built side mowers ,so that they could cut an extra five feet of growing grass, therefore completing mowing jobs faster.When Bob’s girls were little he even built a go-cart for them by himself!
One time Bob fastidiously fashioned a part on his friend Marilyn’s furnace so it could temporary work until the serviceman arrived. Another time my father-in-law created an ingenious cab for his mower in the summer to beat the sun, made of spare metal parts. In winter the same handy contraption supported Bob’s warmth , providing comfort in the frigid New Hampshire elements. One snowy day he carried his grandson Dylan in the cab to plow his neighbor’s driveway.
My husband and I acquired our house 22 years ago, a fixer upper which we bought cheap( with the help of family). The renovation project handed Tom and Bob not only a new challenge, but a pet project to complete for father and son. These two guys didn’t let the unforgiving New England winter hold them back! Instead of waiting for spring, they wrapped the 1899 cape up in plastic, resembling a gigantic Christmas present.While everyone in town passed by with amazement, inside the plastic cover they had heat and worked at tearing boards off. These ambitious guys worked on the house cedar shingles in the cold of winter just to get it done. Laughing, talking and their companionship saw them through. They made lasting memories and accomplished much.
It’s been thirteen years since Tom’s dad has passed away. There have been tears and painful moments. Yet through all this, we all hold these lasting memories close to us, shaping the way we live today, as we live with strength. Bob’s legacy lives in his son and three daughters, his beloved wife, grandchildren, great grandchildren, in the walls of our home he renovated, and in his daughter’s homes that he helped in various projects.We persevere in our lives and live to the fullest because he would’ve wanted it that way!
I tell this story with a happiness and not sadness, that my husband was fortunate enough to have this father and son relationship and that his daughters and grandchildren had such a special role model. I feel blessed that I could witness it and continue to see Tom and his dad in him and our son. The next installment will involve our oldest son and how Tom has taught him as his dad did. Be looking for it in a week or two.
As you reflect on this post, do certain people come to mind? Do you know a father and son duo like I do?
While living life as a good Christian, I feel the need to write down my prayers as well as voice them. During the school year I hear of stories of suffering from Cancer and tragedies, to the point that I felt overwhelmed! Yet the answer to being overwhelmed by strife and pain is to simply pray. Prayers heal our soul and send a message of love and faith in God.
Being overloaded with prayer requests throughout the year led me to problem solving. Why not write down my prayers in a small notebook,but continue to voice them as well. Better yet, why not create a prayer jar? I found this brilliant idea on Pinterest! Acquire a jug or jar with a wide mouth and lid. Decorate it as you wish. Voice your prayers with resolve, then jot them down on paper and deposit in the prayer jar.
On New Year’s Eve read the prayer requests from all year and be amazed how God worked wonders, in many ways. He works for our favor, in small and huge circumstances and you must be looking for signs or you may miss it! Sometimes God doesn’t answer prayers right away or in the way you expect, but it’s for good reasons.
However you pray or what time of day doesn’t matter, just that you do. Writing prayers down helps me sort all them out. I especially like the prayer jar idea, a chance to see all the prayers for the year and how they were answered in different ways. I’m still looking for the right jar to start this. In the meantime I’ll continue to jot prayers in my book and say them day and night.
As I write this, I will keep you and your families in my prayers. Please comment with prayer requests if needed.
Lately my crafty side has surfaced….I think it all started when I made graduation centerpieces. During the process I shopped for materials, twine, craft paper, and raffia. Isn’t it so much fun to shop for materials and then bring them to life in a special piece of art? What I want to share with you is all the art around me in my family, art from my son’s girlfriend Alexis, my mom’s paintings, my dad’s wood projects, and mine.
The materials needed for the ruler cork board project are wine corks, an old ruler, little wooden signs are optional, a glue gun and glue sticks. When you approach the ruler picture holder, it may take a half hour to an hour. The real time is gluing the corks on the ruler. First, I added little signs that said welcome…I took these off a decrepit decoration I had, recycling it and giving it new life. I glued the signs on how I wanted them. You don’t need these but if you like them, buy little wood decorations at a craft to store to paint. Next I laid my ruler on my kitchen bar to operate with the corks. It can be tricky to adhere the corks, especially plastic ones. I was determined to do it and it took a few times for them to really stay! Let glued corks set for a day with heavy weights on them. After that, I was ready to hang up favorite photos with decorative push pins on it.
My husband drove a small nail on the top to the wall I chose. A word of advice, don’t display it in a heavy traffic area because it jostle the corks off….this happened to mine. In the end I decided to hang it in a quiet corner of the kitchen. It’s the perfect spot and no one has upset it yet.
Crafting is fun and a chance to practice your creative side! Check out the site Pinterest for thousands of crafts. Choose your project. Write down a list of needed materials and go shopping for them. Allow yourself enough time to work and if you concentrate with soft music playing, do this. Lastly have fun and enjoy yourself!
As many of you know, I just posted my window box project. Lately a craft tendency runs in my veins! I truly relish dabbling with different projects, such as transforming a vintage ruler to a cork board display for pictures. ( I will post that soon!) My newest plan is crafting centerpieces. While browsing Pinterest a few months ago, a certain centerpiece came into my view and I knew adamantly that I was going to make them for my son’s graduation party. The last graduation party we had for D, my mother in law, Theo made the centerpieces. They were bottles covered in foil with decorative sparkly tinsel in them. They were cool and unique.
Years ago I possessed different sizes of canning jars in my lost pursuit of canning and gave them away shortly after. The search for mason jars was on. If I didn’t find any locally, my sister in law Bev had some I could have, but we live a distance from each other. While pondering over how I was going to acquire jars, a bright idea visited me to check at home first. In my intensive search I found some unique jars ( not necessarily mason jars) in different cabinets. There was a cobalt blue jar with handles, which held a small candle. A matching glass jar, but clear color, would serve as a centerpiece. The only problem was the Christmas motif on one side, forcing me to problem solve and decide to create class of 2016 and Congratulations labels. A label would cover that perfectly! An old mason jar was on my kitchen counter holding wooden spoons and metal utensils. Lastly Under my kitchen sink I discovered a cool tall embellished jar that would be a fantastic addition.
The next step is getting small rocks to fill the jars. Then choose favorite photographs and cut to size, frame or adhere to cardboard or heavy card stock. Attach to dowels ( these can be found at craft stores or at Wal-mart). Place the mounted pictures in jars….I chose two to a jar. Next I fixed my computer generated labels to the jars. The last step is tying the raffia bows around the jars to give them the rustic look.
The finished product
This project was so much fun to do! It took me a few hours on different days to work on them. I spread it all out on my wooden bar in my kitchen, a great workspace. While peaceful music rang in the air, I created. Okay, I know they are just centerpieces, they are works of love to me!
If you desire to make similar centerpieces, you will need:
Mason jars or unique jars of varying sizes
Rocks gathered from outside or bought at crafts store
favorite pictures cut into large or small sizes
cardboard or heavy card stock
tissue paper to cover back of pictures
tape to adhere pictures to dowels ( I used masking because it’s heavy duty)
Raffia to tie ribbon
Computer generated labels, made to fit occasion
Until next time, craft away with your heart and soul.
Last year I had a budding idea to build wooden window boxes for our house. When driving by neighborhood homes, the flowing flowers embedded in troughs just below windows appealed to me. I decided on doing this and actually asked my husband to teach me how to build them.
We ambitiously started planning our new project, which had to be done for spring. The questions raised, how many boxes? What material will they be made of? Where do we start? In the beginning I wanted six boxes for our front windows, five for flowers and the sixth one would be outside the kitchen window for herbs.
My husband had the sturdy wood from a discard pile in the shed and transported it here. He cut the right boards into three long pieces( two for the sides, one for the bottom) and two end pieces. I don’t work the electric saw he used so I just handed him the pieces and threw the scraps aside as he worked. Next we screwed the pieces together with an electric screwdriver. I tried this and did a couple. For someone who has never used power tools, I managed. You have to push hard on the tool for it work best.
When the boxes were complete, we had four nice boxes for my flower mix. I decided four would be enough and my herbs can go in my garden as always. Tom’s former employer, Mrs. Geneen, had a tradition of planting this mix in her planters. ( Someday I will enlighten you all on our story with this special woman and our storybook life at her estate!) Of course Tom planted them every year so he has memorized the mix. I placed a spike in the middle, two red geraniums on each side, two purple ( blue) petunias on each side and white bicopa which will drape over the edges.
I painted the boxes with a deep brown stain to match our rustic house, while sunshine warmed my face and demeanor. I thought of how thankful I was to have my husband teach me the ropes. Although I never will make products like this alone, now I have an understanding of the steps it takes. I’m happy that he let me help and when the electric saws came into play, he took over. Tom is a good teacher and I will never forget this experience!
As I joyfully planted the posies and sifted through the soil, my cat Katie sat inside as a committed spectator. She sniffed, tried to bite the spike through the screen, and got her claws stuck in the screen. I actually had to drop the window down so she wouldn’t wreck our screen. Now that it’s been a day, the cats are used to the flowers and their inability to reach them. They jump up on the window sill and enjoy the picture show of the newly planted flowers with fluttering birds on the lawn.
The lovely presentation dresses up our front yard with two neighboring lilac bushes. Even from inside the flowers create a peaceful beautiful space. There is a rich harmony to both spaces as I thank God for this small gift of life, life that will certainly enhance mine the next few months!