Wednesday, September 28, 2011

With Heartfelt Sympathy

A really good friend of mine lost her husband suddenly yesterday afternoon.  While he had been ill for quite a while, things had been going along just fine ... until they weren't.  It is never easy hearing those words that someone you love has died ... or that someone you care about has lost a loved one.  It happens to all of us at some point. My friend is fortunate in that she has a wonderful and loving family and a multitude of close friends to help her through this tragic and vulnerable time.  My heart goes out to her and I hope she knows that I am here for her.

It can be tough to know what to say or do when someone you care about is grieving. It’s common to feel helpless, awkward, or unsure. You may be afraid of intruding, saying the wrong thing, or making the person feel even worse. Or maybe you feel there’s little you can do to make things better.  While you can’t take away the pain of the loss, you can provide much-needed comfort and support. There are many ways to help a grieving friend or family member, starting with letting the person know you care.   I found these helpful suggestions ...

Practical Help

There are many practical ways you can help a grieving person. You can offer to:

Shop for groceries or run errands

Drop off a casserole or other type of food

Help with funeral arrangements

Stay in their home to take phone calls and receive guests

Help with insurance forms or bills

Take care of housework, such as cleaning or laundry

Watch their children or pick them up from school

Drive them wherever they need to go

Look after their pets

Go with them to a support group meeting

Accompany them on a walk

Take them to lunch or a movie

Share an enjoyable activity (game, puzzle, art project)

The Grief Process
The better your understanding of grief and how it is healed, the better equipped you’ll be to help a bereaved friend or family member. 

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Grief does not always unfold in orderly, predictable stages. It can be an emotional rollercoaster, with unpredictable highs, lows, and setbacks. Everyone grieves differently, so avoid telling the bereaved what they “should” be feeling or doing.

Grief may involve extreme emotions and behaviors. Feelings of guilt, anger, despair, and fear are common. A grieving person may yell to the heavens, obsess about the death, lash out at loved ones, or cry for hours on end. The bereaved need reassurance that what they’re feeling is normal. Don’t judge them or take their grief reactions personally.

There is no set timetable for grieving. For many people, recovery after bereavement takes 18 to 24 months, but for others, the grieving process may be longer or shorter. Don’t pressure the bereaved to move on or make them feel like they’ve been grieving too long.

If anyone wants to share what has helped them through the loss of a love one, I would love to hear your kind words. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Oh How Pinteresting!

Just loving all the seasonal photos I'm finding on Pinterest. Each and every one is so unique and lovely.

And if you want to view my growing list of "pins" you can access my boards on Pinterest here:

Purple night sky.

autumn leaves

Cabin in Autumn

Great Smoky Mountains

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cardmaking Fun

I noticed that I haven't posted many card creations recently, so here's a few. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Spiked Apple Crisp Shooters

Shooters and tapas seem to be ALL the rage in dining and entertaining - smaller portions but ALL the flavor! Here's a fabulous recipe idea for entertaining this fall ... wouldn't your guests get a kick out of these yummy apple crisp shooters? And get the kids involved by replacing the butterscotch schnapps with butterscotch ice cream topping.

Spiked Apple Crisp Shooters

Apple Crisp

4 medium tart apples, chopped (about 4 cups)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup butterscotch schnapps

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker oatmeal cookie mix

Cream Layer and Topping

1 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon butterscotch schnapps

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Caramel topping, if desired

Heat oven to 375ºF. Spray bottom only of 8-inch square pan with cooking spray. In large bowl, toss apples, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and 1/2 cup schnapps. Spread in pan.

2 In medium bowl, mix melted butter and cookie mix. Spread on top of apples.

3 Bake 40 minutes.

4 Meanwhile, in chilled medium bowl, beat whipping cream, 1 tablespoon schnapps and the powdered sugar with electric mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.

5 To serve, alternately spoon warm apple crisp and cream mixture into small glasses. Top each with caramel topping. Serve immediately.
Makes 10 shooters!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Iowa Machine Shed Baked Potato Soup !!!

My husband and I love driving over to Des Moines for fun "day trips" since it is only a 2 hour drive away.  We have SO MANY "favorite" places to stop for breakfast/lunch/dinner that it's hard to choose each time we go!  But one that stands out above the rest is the Iowa Machine Shed.  Go and check them out here:

They are famous for their Chicken Fried Steak- just be aware that it's enough for two! And the cinnamon roll - it may be the largest you've ever seen! Dinners are served "family style", accompanied by fresh breads and rolls. The their Iowa Chop may be the best pork you've every tasted!

They have a simply fabulous baked potato soup ... VERY rich, but oh so worth the calories for a special treat.  Here's the recipe.

View more recipes in the Baked Potato Soup category


2.5 pounds red potatoes, skins on, cut in bite-size chunks
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced celery
1/4 cup Fleischmann's original corn oil margarine
1 quart milk
3 cups water
4 Tbsp. bacon bits
1 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup wondra flour
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup parsley
1 cup heavy whipping cream


Boil potatoes in water to cover (without salt) for 10 minutes.
Drain and set aside.
Saute' onion and celery in 1/4 cup margarine in 5-quart heavy pot over medium heat until celery is tender.
Add milk and 3 cups water.
Heat over medium-high heat until very hot, stirring frequently ~ do not let soup boil. (It's helpful to use an instant-read thermometer to keep track of temperature ~ aim to keep it under 212 degrees.)
Add 1/2 cup butter to soup. Mix chicken broth, Wondra flour, salt and pepper and add mixture gradually to the hot soup while stirring.

Stir constantly until soup bubbles gently and becomes thick and creamy. Constant stirring prevents the milk from scorching, an irreversible mistake. Stir in potatoes, parsley and whipping cream.

Garnishes: green onions, bacon bits, shredded cheese or croutons

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

FALLing in Love!

carved pumpkins
colorful gourds
hot cocoa with marshmallows
candy corn
apple picking
jumping into a pile of leaves
squirrels hiding nuts
knitted scarves
harvest moon
crisp mornings
spooky costumes
football games
comfy quilts
howling winds
scented candles
hay rides
warm sweaters
homemade soup
apple cider
popcorn balls
canning tomatoes
school carnivals
pumpkin patch
apple doughnuts
a bowl of chili
movie nights
county fairs and blue ribbons
turkey and dressing
pumpkin pie
cinnamon rolls
hunting season
crockpot meals
apple butter
bobbing for apples
tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches
"It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown"
roasted pumpkin seeds
flannel sheets
reading by the fire
cinnamon sticks

These are a few of my favorite things ... !!

I fought the law, and the law won!

I just had to share this adorable pic of my grandniece, Avlyn.  The expression on her face is just priceless!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fall Has Arrived!

For me, fall doesn't begin until we've gone to the apple orchards for the annual AppleJack Days in Nebraska City.  It's a fabulous family event with go-cart races through town, fresh kettle corn made in these HUGE iron kettles, and EVERY possible apple treat imaginable!  There are 3 different orchards in the Nebraska City area and we try to hit each one as they all offer something different in the way of apple goodies.  I think my favorite apple is a Jonathan apple, as it is both sweet and tart and WONDERFUL for making apple butter ... and here's my favorite fast and easy recipe for this annual treat.

Microwave Apple Butter


8 cups (about 9 medium) apples, cored, peeled and quartered
2 cups fresh apple cider
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice


In 3-quart microwave-safe casserole dish, combine apples and cider. Microwave on High for 12 to 15 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring twice during cook time. Transfer apple mixture to blender or food processor , and process until smooth. Return apple mixture to casserole dish. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, cloves and allspice; mix well. Microwave on High for 25 to 35 minutes or until thickened and dark brown, stirring once halfway through cooking. Cool (mixture will thicken as it cools). Pour into sterilized jars; store in refrigerator. Makes 4 cups.

And now is also the time when the family starts asking for my infamous apple crisp ... which is a Land 'o Lakes recipe that I've used for years.

Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp

6 medium (6 cups) apples, peeled, cored, sliced  (I like to use Jonathan apples)
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup quick uncooked old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter

Directions:  Heat oven to 375°F. Place apples into ungreased 9-inch square (2-quart) baking dish.  Combine brown sugar, oats, flour and cinnamon in medium bowl; cut in butter with pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle sugar mixture over apples. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until apples are tender and topping is golden brown. 

SPOILER ALERT!!  Okay, while this basic recipe is good, I ALWAYS kick it up a bit by DOUBLING the topping ingredients and adding THREE + teaspoons of cinnamon!  And be prepared to loosen your belt a notch or two because this treat is memory making goodness!  Serve it warm with a heaping scoop of ice cream (my kids like cinnamon ice cream with this!) and/or fresh whipped cream (and NOT the kind out of a tub or can - beat up some FRESH whipped cream - you'll be glad you did!)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Canvas and Cocktails

Last Saturday evening, my family and I were walking in the Cherry Creek district of Denver on our way to have dinner at The Cherry Cricket (here's their link:, where they make the most incredible burgers with toppings you can't even begin to imagine.  Peanut Butter??!!  I hear from those who have had this on a burger that it is REALLY incredible.  My combination was cream cheese and green chili ... YUM! 

On our way to dinner, we passed this place and my daughter-in-law said that one of her friends had been here and that she had a fantastic time.  It's one of those "why didn't I think of that" type of places!  Imagine yourself sitting with friends, sipping on your favorite cocktail and creating art ... it just doesn't get any better than that.  And they promise that even in you don't have a lick of talent for painting, that you will walk out with something you will be proud to put on your wall at home.  What fun this would be!!

And here's their website ... take a look at the gallery and see the fun projects that have been made.  I do so wish we had one of these here in town!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday to my Grandniece ... Hailey !!!

Don't Let Your Salmon Loaf

This is a very basic canned salmon recipe, which can be made into a LOAF or into patties.  You can serve it with a simple creamed peas and white sauce, or the cucumber dill recipe I've included below.  This is a VERY old recipe, but always a family favorite.


1 (15 1/2 oz.) can salmon

1 (8 oz.) container sour cream

1/2 cup melted butter

1 egg, beaten

2 - 1/2 c. corn flakes

Measure the corn flakes and then crush into crumbs. Drain off half of liquid of the salmon. Combine all ingredients; press into a loaf pan. Bake 40 minutes at 350 degrees. 

NOTE:  if firmer texture loaf is desired, use less butter and add 1 more egg.   You can also toss in some chopped celery, chopped onion, chopped pimento, chopped green olives ... whatever savory "extras" you have on hand.  But the original recipe doesn't call for more than the above five ingredients.


1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon 2% milk

2 teaspoons snipped fresh dill

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Mix together and chill.

Vacation in the Rockies!

We're leaving for Colorado in the morning and I'm SO excited.  First, I get to spend time with my son and his wife who live in Parker, Colorado.  It's SUCH a lovely community and has a really nice small town feel.

On Saturday we're heading up into the mountains to Georgetown to take a ride on this!

Then on Sunday we'll go to the new IKEA store!

Monday we're heading up to Estes Park to spend the day.

And then later that day we'll head down to Black Hawk for the night!


And before we know it we'll be heading back home on Tuesday!

I couldn't resist ... it's not really THAT bad ... but coming back after being in such beautiful vistas is gonna be a reality check for sure!! 

Here's a nicer photo of our town.  :0)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bountiful Harvest

I've had the pleasure of one of my recipes being published in a Taste of Home publication called Bountiful Harvest many years ago.

Here's the photo of my recipe from that publication.  The recipe was for a squash and potatoes dish that I created one summer many years ago.

And here's the link to the actual recipe:

And this coming January, I will be featured in TWO separate issues of Gooseberry Patch cookbooks.  I'll let you know when they hit the stands as well.


Soup Weather Is Almost Here! Time for Hamburger Soup!

I have SO many cookbooks, including two LARGE 3-ring binders of "favorite" recipes ... some that I'll never use again, some that I've never even tried, but all have been sitting in these binders for years. My fall project is to filter through these recipes, keeping only those that I think I will actually make in the next ten years and then saving them on my blog and/or pinterest boards, where I have instant access whenever I want that recipe again.  Of course, I have ONE cookbook at home that has my ABSOLUTE favorite recipes that I use over and over again, and that might become just a bit thicker when all this is said and done, but for the most part my main focus is to PURGE.

But here's a recipe that I make several times when fall weather hits.  It's my daughter's FAVORITE soup recipe, so it is a keeper for sure.


1 pound extra lean ground beef (or I actually use ground turkey)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 red potatoes, washed but unpeeled, cut into cubes (2 cups)
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained 
6 cans beef broth
2 TBSP beef bouillion
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 tsp. pepper
3/4 cup catsup
1 pkg. frozen mixed vegetables (any assortment you like)

Combine ground beef and onion in large stock pot cooking over medium heat until beef is browned and thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently.  Drain well.  Add all remaining ingredients to stock pot except frozen vegetables.  Mix well.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occassionally.  Add frozen vegetables.  Cover and simmer an additional 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.  Makes 8 servings.  Serve with large loaf of crusty warm bread.


Basket Case!

Grace over at Design Sponge has a fabulous tutorial for these ADORABLE little crochet baskets. What a neat idea and these little baskets can be used for ANYTHING ... buttons, dad's key collection, your grandson's marble collection, your daughter's ribbon collection, etc. And they are small enough that you can whip up several of these little baskets in an afternoon! 

Here's the link:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day!

I found this lovely fall photo on pinterest and thought it the perfect photo to announce that fall is JUST around the corner!  We had some lovely cool weather yesterday and today here in the heartland, and the air conditioning is OFF and the windows are OPEN!  Definitely my favorite time of year.  And soon we will have crisp mornings and evenings and the crockpot will have something yummy simmering just waiting for us to arrive home to enjoy!  Hope you all are having a fabulous holiday weekend!  We had 30+ relatives arrive at our home yesterday with potluck dishes in hand.  Hubby made his famous baked beans, and we had a large honey ham and red velvet cake as our contributions. But oh my goodness there was a bounty of yumminess to be had!  Deviled eggs, hamburger cheese dip, fresh salsa and chips, two different potato salads, coleslaw, hot milk sponge cake with broiled coconut icing (one of my personal favorites!), and so much more!  My immediate family is coming over today for a nice lunch of leftovers, as there is a plethera (love using that word) of goodies to be enjoyed!