Monday, September 27, 2010

Good Morning! I trust you all had a wonderful weekend. Mine was uneventfully spent spiffing up the house and then spending Sunday doing absolutely nothing. Something I have a very hard time doing. I know you know what I mean because I have seen many of you say the same thing. We all need a little down time once in a while though, so the cat and I cuddled on the sofa and alternately dozed and read. Well, I read, she just dozed:>)
I wanted to share some lovely gifts I have received in the mail. I don't know who came up with the "give-away" in blogging, but my hats off to them! It is so much fun to find a pretty package on your doorstep full of sweet surprises! I won this package from Mimi Sue's Cottage while Earl and I were away on our anniversary get-away. Victoria opened the package for me so she could tell me what was in it:>) No, I couldn't wait. It was chock full of lovely things as you can see! Beautiful tags, gift cards to movies and DQ, a pretty plate and exquisite etched vase. A fizzy bath bombe, some red fabrics which I will be adding to my quilt so I'll have something to remind me of sweet Sue! Just so many pretty surprises! Thank you Sue!
Then just last week Miss Hattie the pig arrived from Sweet Nothings dear BJ. How cute is that!  BJ made sure to add a littel sweetness with candies, candles and a sweet card and some amazing potpourri, but just look at that cute pig! Once again. it just made my day! Thank you BJ! I will put Hattie where I can see her and think of you:>)  I hope you have a wonderful autumn week. It's going to start getting pretty chilly around here and we don't have much color around here yet! Anyone else wondering where all the color is this year?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My sis is having a giveaway to celebrate 300 posts! A gorgeous gingham pillow decorated with  crochet flowers, made by hand by my adorable niece.
And a jar of black forest jam made with cherries and chocolate. Be still my heart. I hope she saved me a jar! And look at that adorable cozy! My niece is a genius with yarn.
You have until Saturday, hurry!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Blog Monster

I think taking inventory is a good thing.  Every aspect of our lives needs to be evaluated occasionally, given the proper perspective, the proper priority, just so we can understand where we came from and where we are going.   If we never think about how things fit on our lives, well, pretty soon they don't fit at all.
Take blogging.  For many of us, we blog because it is our own little piece of the world where we can express ourselves really freely.  It isn't that I can't do that with my family, I can.  What I mean is, I don't take a lot of input from anyone but myself in this little corner of Kathyland. It began as a way to keep family and friends updated when my mother  in law was going through cancer. She beat it (yay!) and somewhere along the way, people found this little corner of my world. To say I was amazed would be an understatement. To say I could have forseen where it would lead me creatively, well, I never had a clue. Blogging rocks my world, no two ways about it.
I could never stop blogging, at least I'm not there yet, but life has a way of getting in the way of the fun stuff. I think most of you know that my husband and I are both back on school and holding down part time jobs. You do what you have to. As crazy as my schedule is, his is worse. He is taking four classes and working about 20 hours a week and looking for work. On top of that he has done everything he can to do things around the house so I can blog. He has always supported me fully and he knows a lot of you by your first name, and he reads over my shoulder. I can see the schedule taking it's toll on him though. I need to take back the house and give him a little more free time and a little less to do.  Am I quitting my blog? NO! I will still try to keep posting at least once a week and hopefully more. Here is the hard part though, I am going to cut back on commenting. I know. I know how people feel about that, I have heard the complaints of some who feel that every visit deserves a return visit and comment and that some people are too big for their britches. If you feel you can't comment here because if it, I understand. But I will leave you with the admonition that we all need to quit putting so much pressure on ourselves about this. Some people have left blogging because of it. I adore hearing from you, but I know from first hand experience that we don't know what others are going through or what other things must take precedence over their time. So here is the question. Why do you blog and how do you set your priorities so it doesnt take over your life?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Honey Whole Wheat French Bread

Ahhh Saturday. Can anyone really appreciate it fully without work to take up so many hours the rest of the week?  This morning dawned with a cool autumn snap in the air. After our weekly Saturday morning coffee date, I came home with a hankering to bake. I haven't done much baking all summer. Who wants to bake in the sweltering 90's?
So I got a couple loaves of my favorite Honey Wheat French bread rising and then my glance fell on the over-ripe bananas on the fruit plate. Well, what could I do but turn on the oven and make some sweet banana bread? No special recipe for that, just good ol' Betty Crocker.  The Wheat Bread recipe came from a cookbook put out by Victoria Magazine, (the old one), called At Home with Friends and Family. I have never made a recipe from that magazine that wasn't wonderful. I've tweaked it a bit over the years,  here is my recipe:

Whole Wheat French Bread
4 to 41/2 cups flour   
2 Tbsp. active dry yeast
2 Tbsp. Sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/8 cup honey
2 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/3 cup hot water (110-115 degrees)

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, combine 2 cups of the flour, the yeast, sugar and salt. Mix well and add the water and honey. Beat at med. speed until its well mixed.  At this point I usually switch the paddle on my Kitchenaid to a dough hook attachment.
Add the rest of the flour one cup at a time at low speed until you have a moderately stiff dough that is smooth. I can usually tell that it is ready when it cleans the flour off the sides of the bowl and is firm enough to pull out of the bowl with a minimum of sticking. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead just a bit until smooth.  Butter the mixing bowl and put the dough back inside, turn it to coat with the butter, cover and let it rise until it is double. (45 minutes to an hour)
Turn it out on a floured surface, punch it down, knead it just a little bit more to get the air bubbles out, cut it in half and form it into the shape of a loaf.  Place on a greased baking sheet or in greased bread pans (place the seam on the bottom), cover and let rise again for about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400. Bake the bread for 10 minutes, reduce the oven temp to 350 and bake for another 20 minutes. Try to let them cool before you cut into them. Fight over who gets the end pieces. Or share if that's your style:>)
The scent of this bread baking is pure heaven! Just a couple notes before you try this recipe. First of all, if you haven't ever tried it, bread baking is easy. Secondly. I switch the recipe up all the time. Today I threw in 2/3 cup of oatmeal (uncooked) before I added the wheat flour, sometimes I add chopped nuts, or 1/3 cup 9 grain mix (try Bob's Red Mill brand from the grocery store) or sunflower seeds.  I have also topped this with egg wash and an equal mix of coarse salt, dill, chopped garlic, and poppy seeds before I bake it for a yummy herbed french bread. You can even mix the herbs inside. It's all good and it all works and once you get the hang of it, you may even think of some variations of your own. Bread is very forgiving.  It warms the house, and if you have never had melting real butter on warm bread fresh from the oven, well, I'm sorry but you really must. 
Let me know if you try this, I think you'll like it.
Have a great weekend, and please share, what do you love to bake on a cool day?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lets have dinner together shall we? Nothing fancy. I just made myself this stellar grilled cheese sandwich (meunster!) and a big mug of decaf. It's a chilly 62 degrees here, just cool enough to throw on a sweater and enjoy the warm, gooey cheese sandwich and something hot to drink.
Tonight Earl is in one of his classes and I have had a chance to clean the house after the whirlwind of  vacation last week and then the weekend spent at my mothers house and dropping Victoria off at school Monday. The house needed the attention, and while I am not usually someone who lives to clean, (understatement of the year!) it sure feels good to get things in their place.  Thinking about changing things up for fall, taking things to Salvation Army for donation, putting my feet up and wishing Victoria was here to rub them for me. That girl rocks a mean foot rub:>)
So there you have it, my life tonight. Visiting with you and wishing I could share a cuppa and a sandwich while we chatted about nothing. I appreciate your visits you know. Your cheer and encouragement, your ideas and laughter, your awesome projects and just a hello. So thanks. Just so you know, I'm thinking about you:>)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

On your mark, get set....

We're back.  It was great to get away, but now the great race begins. Taking youngest daughter back to college on Labor day, tonight Earl and I begin a new semester and tomorrow I begin kitchen prep for my job as a school lunch lady. This weekend I will be at my mom's for a quick visit.  I suddenly have so much to share with you that I should have no trouble posting for a few weeks.
 First of all, I got my grades for my last semester, don't ask me how, but I ended up with a B+ and an A.  I seriously thought I had done so poorly on my finals that C would be a miracle. I laughed out loud when I saw the grades. Still on the Deans list:>)
We are still working on the buffet we found by the side of the road. That sounds good doesn't it?
Earl  stripped the top, sanded and filled a few very small holes and is in the process of putting on layers of shellac, then we will paint the bottom. I can't wait to show you because I think it's going to be gorgeous.
Today is back to school shopping with the daughters, maybe lunch out and a garage sale or two.  I've hit the ground running it would seem, but the time away was just what we needed.
A HUGE thank you to all who gave suggestions for things to do while we were away! Did you know that a lot of things are closed on Mondays there? Hmmm, we didn't either but we managed.
The images above are from our stay. We had a wonderful time at The Country Victorian B&B. A beautiful room, thick towels, fantastic breakfasts (one of which I will share in a seperate post!) and a warm and friendly hostess. I ♥ B&B's.
We also spent time at the Shipshewana Flea Market, just a note, it seemed to be mostly aisles and aisles of dollar store junk from China.  (Don't waste your time.) We also took in the art museum at Notre Dame University, (worthy of a couple hours), some antique stores and, of course the fabric shops, where I indulged myself with a few little goodies:>)
I won't bore you with more details, but we had a good time and came away refreshed. 
We don't have a lot planned for Labor Day weekend, but I bet you have fun plans for celebrating the last week of summer.  So, what are you doing on your long weekend? I would love to hear!