Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. I know it can be a touchy subject, but I certainly appreciate all the extra insight you gave!
Moving right along... It has been a stellar year for fruit in beautiful Michigan. The wet spring and summer and warm sunny days have the fruit trees dripping with juicy beauty and oddly enough, our apple and peach trees are bearing fruit that is very nearly perfect in spite of the fat that we have not sprayed them at all!
We purchased a $10 peach tree from Big Lots about 10 years ago. It had so many peaches on it this year that, unfortunately, two of the main branches actually broke off before the fruit was ripe.
My son-in-law and I gathered the fruit and realized it was just beginning to blush. It was small, but we put it in a basket and I let it sit in the dining room for about a week and a half. It ripened! The skin slipped off easily and I froze it for pies and cobblers.
 The rest of the tree ripened last week and Earl and I picked every last peach. As part of his Dessert of the Month offering that he auctioned off at church this January, we decided peach pie made from our own organic, white peaches was just the ticket for this month's offering! I made one for us and one for the D.O.M. winner. You know, for quality control and all.
I'll be honest, I use Jiffy pie crust mix. I have been making pies since I was 7 years old. My grandmother taught me the finer points of crust making and turned me loose. In my honest opinion, Jiffy makes a great crust. There aren't that many ingredients in crust and it's a lot less mess and hassle.  The pie filling is always, home made.  I use the pie recipe from my 1969 Betty Crocker cookbook. If you ever run across some of the older cookbooks at garage sales for cheap grab them! They are great for the basic recipes that are the staple of cooking.
I l♥ve Fall baking:>)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Cup of Coffee and a Discussion on Keeping Marriage Strong

I've thought long and hard about this post. We share a lot on our blogs, mostly about decorating and sewing and projects and fun. There are some who say that the more negative aspects of life don't make for a "good read" and that most of you are looking for an uplifting post.
I can see that argument.
 But there are some things that are important enough to talk about once in a while.
Now don't get worried, this isn't about Earl and I. But as I see my daughters and their friends reaching marriage age, I want to tell them that in this age of 50%+ of marriages ending in divorce, that there is a way to keep a relationship alive and strong.
Last week after coming home from my mom's funeral I found out that two couples that I care deeply about were ending their relationships. One a marriage of 18 years, the other a live in relationship of 7 years. It was a bad week. My heart breaks for them. I didn't see it coming, they didn't see it coming. But in talking to both of them one thing stood out. The relationships had died from neglect.
My goal in writing this is to make everyone out there stop and think about where they are in their marriage.
Do you remember when you were dating? Conversations about your dreams for the future, looking into each others eyes, holding hands and hugging and kissing? That is the recipe for growing a relationship. It is often said that a good marriage takes work.  Well work is something you have to pay me to go to! Work is the wrong word. It takes effort. It's good effort, and it's rewarding effort, and it's very, very pleasant effort if done right.
You got married to spend more time together and you soon found out that with work and household chores and kids it felt like you had less time! All the to do lists and family responsibilities soon put your romantic lives at the bottom of the heap of things to do.
No more dates, less talking about dreams for the future, more stress.
I can only tell you what works for us.
Never stop dating. I don't care what your excuse is. If you value your marriage and your relationship, you need face to face time out of the house. alone. regularly.
We have coffee every week. We look forward to our coffee dates so much we usually turn to each other all giddy the night before and say "tomorrow is our coffee date!"
I know, it sounds corny. But we catch up on plans for the week, for the month. We catch up on all the latest stuff we have to tell each other but forgot. We hold hands, we gaze in each others eyes and we say "I love you."  We have occasional dinners out, or movie dates, or concerts, but our coffee date is sacred. Sometimes if we have a super stressful week, we sneak in an extra one!
We also get away on weekends. Even when Earl was laid off and money was really tight,  once I got enough mad money in my Etsy account we spent it on a weekend away.
We are a team and we never stop planning together, dreaming together,  holding hands, or kissing. (much to our children's feigned disgust).
So, are you still dating your husband? Don't you think you should?
What keeps your marriage strong?
A big thanks to Anita who commented below and sent me this link to an article titled
It is a must read. I am happy to say that Earl and I practice each and every one of the things listed.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thank you for the comments and emails in the passing of my mother. I appreciated each and every one of them.
 I am doing fine but it feels like I woke up, looked around and half the month has flown. I can't say I will be sorry to see August 2013 go.
I can tell you that it is the hard times that make a person realize that it pays to stop and savor the happy things.
Things like imperfect, busy work, scrappy table runners under brilliant farm market zinnias in a milk glass vase.
 $5 red geranium hanging baskets to replace the tired end of season baskets on the porch.
 Phlox like my grandmother grew on grandpa's farm. The scent brings back days of my childhood and the flowers glow in the August sunshine.
 And always the bright little flowers in the vegetable garden.  The veggies aren't much to look at quite yet, but the flowers never disappoint:>)
I hope you are savoring every last moment of these lovely summer days leading into Autumn. Here in Michigan the weather has been darn near perfect.  There have been blessings, My eldest daughter and her husband coming home for a week, time spent with family around the campfire, grilling with my new son and talking about the new home they are moving into this week:>)  Too many blessings to count really and always more to come.
The trees have been turning here for almost a month! Patches of brilliant color are appearing in the trees and sumac. I'm not quite ready to give up summer yet, but I look forward to everything the coming seasons will bring.
As my grandmother used to say, onward and upward:>)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

In loving memory of my mother, Ellen Semmelroth

May 29 , 1935 - August 4, 2013

Friday, August 2, 2013

Black Raspberry bread Pudding

 Remember those black raspberries that took up my whole day last week and gave me such fits in a tart recipe?  Well, this recipe finally came through for me.  This is the bomb. I don't think I have had bread pudding since my dear grandmother made it when I was little.  It's a recipe that has fallen off the radar and isn't made much anymore. Grandma's bread pudding always featured raisins and cinnamon. It was made mostly in the cold days of winter and eaten warm, and it was good!
I'm sorry grandma, this is better.
Fresh fruit sprinkled in between the layers of sweet, smooth, custardy bread. No spices but that means the vanilla custard and berries really shine. This is best eaten warm.
I have made it twice, once with the black raspberries and once with some fat, fresh blueberries. Delicious both times, and I am sure that whatever berry you prefer would be equally delicious.
I took this to church last week for our adult Sunday School class to sample and got raves and requests for the recipe:>)

Berry Bread Pudding


2 1/2 cups fresh berries (if using frozen, thaw and drain so they are as dry as possible)
12-14 slices white bread (don't use fresh, use bakery or home made, I used 2 loaves of Italian bread and sliced them myself)
6 eggs
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish. Trim crust from bread. If you are using Italian bread and have to slice it yourself, try to slice it as thinly as a regular bread slice or you will need more custard to cover the thick slices! Arrange half of the bread slices in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle berries on top of the first layer of bread, top with remaining bread slices making sure the berries are covered. In a large bowl with a beater attachment, beat eggs until light, beat in sugar and salt, add in milk and vanilla. Pour the mixture over the bread. The bread should be completely covered, if it isn't you can add a bit more milk to cover. Or do what I would do and make another 1/3 recipe of the custard to pour over (see below).  Bake for 50-55 minutes. The top of the pudding should be lightly brown and a knife inserted in the middle should come out clean. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream:>)
Since bread thicknesses vary, if you cut your slices very thick or for some reason the custard recipe doesn't cover the bread just whip up a little more custard.  1/3 of the recipe should be enough for any variances in bread. The following are the proportions I would use:
2 eggs
1/3 cup of sugar
a pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1/3 tsp vanilla
You probably wont need it, but just in case....:>)
We have a pretty fun weekend ahead, Our usual Saturday morning coffee date at Panera, a fun art fair to look at and then some work on the house. We will probably fit some grilling and relaxing in the garden in there somewhere too. What do you have planned?
Linking with From The Farm Blog Hop