Friday, February 26, 2010

My Kitchen Just Got Happier

This week I added a few little touches to my kitchen.  Just some small things that have gone a long way in making the kitchen a happier place to be during this last week of February.

Placing some pink tulips above the sink has made dishwashing a happier task.  They are such a pretty shade of pink.  Just looking at them is making me excited for Spring's arrival.  I know it won't be long at all until the bulbs start blooming around here.  Springtime in the south is a beautiful thing.

I replaced the remnants of my Christmas scented candle with the scent of Hydrangeas and Hyacinths.  Happy, sweet Spring scents are wafting through the air.

I have always found the kitchen a happy place to be.  When I was a kid I absolutely adored the times when I could sit on a kitchen stool in one of my aunt's kitchens and watch the ladies cook together.  I found it mesmerizing to watch as they chopped and mixed, basted and baked.  Once in a while they would step outside to pick a tomato for the salad or a few chives for the baked potato.  That part really thrilled me.  (I know, weird ~ but true).  What can I say, other than I think I was meant to be a homemaker.
But, I digress ...
Anyhow, this time when my homemaking desires were being formed, took place during the 60s.  That time in history when the aunts were cooking in dresses and pearls and they all had aprons on.  If it was Christmas, they sported Christmas themed aprons.  One year they all had the latest fad in aprons ~ a dish towel stitched to the front of their apron. If the gathering wasn't at your house that year, no need to worry about bringing your own apron.  Each lady had a drawer full and would supply one to everybody who helped out in the kitchen.
As you might be able to guess aprons make me happy.  The sight of an apron is enough to take me right back into those happy kitchens of my childhood.  Recently, I was the lucky winner of an apron giveaway.  The beautiful apron pictured above was made by Karen at Little Pieces of My Life.  She is a very talented seamstress and quilter.  I was so excited when I learned that I had won an apron that she made.  That made me and my kitchen very happy for sure :-).  Thank you Karen.

Thanks for joining me today as I reminisced about some of my happy kitcheny memories.  As I said, I think I was meant to be a homemaker and this reminds me of my favorite thing about blogging.
Prior to blogging, I never in a million years would have admitted to my love of homemaking.  The reason being that it seemed to me while I was a stay-at-home mom and loving every minute of it, it wasn't a view held by too many people I knew.  As far as I could tell the June Cleaver and Harriet Nelson's of the world had joined the workforce or decided that staying home to raise your family and (heaven forbid) enjoying it was something that would bore them to death.  The blog world opened a new door to me.  Once I stepped inside that door where homemaking is an art form and aprons are once again hip,  I had come home.  I can once again sit on my kitchen stool and watch women feather their nests and celebrate the making of home.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Smelling Like Spring

~ Scratch and Sniff ~

How I wish you really could. 
This was the scent that greeted me on my recent shopping trip to Salem Creek.
It brought to mind warm days ... outside ... sitting on the porch swing ... hearing a lawn mower off in the distance ... birds chirping ... gentle breezes... 

Can you guess the scent??

Was this your guess??

Not only does it smell scrumptious, but it is so pretty too.  The sugared lemon halves and beaded raspberries pair nicely with the little faux ice cubes.

The weather may be wintery, but inside I'm dreaming of spring.  We had a taste of it yesterday when our temperatures went into the 60s.  I got to play around in the garden for awhile and enjoyed pulling carrots and adding them to last night's salad.
Today, however, it is rainy and the temps are supposed to drop all week.  Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

~ Wishing you a Happy Week ~

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Healthier Nest and A Recipe

I'm making a real effort to keep my fridge stocked with plenty of these.  Now that we are empty nesters, my meal planning is seeing a lot of changes.

In some ways our empty nest has been a bit of an adjustment.  But as for healthy eating, it has become easier with just the two of us.  I no longer keep things like chips and cookies on hand.  I'm finding that if I have a sweet tooth I can usually satisfy it with a graham cracker or a small piece of dark chocolate.

In keeping a good supply of fresh fruits and vegetables on hand at all times, I am always able to come up with a quick and healthy meal.  For lunch today I cut up some veggies and paired it with a few pita chips and some hummus.  It filled me up, was healthy and pretty too.

In addition to incorporating more fruits and veggies into our diet, I am making a conscious effort to add more fiber.  Which is part of the reason I recently made a batch of bran muffins.  I was asked if I would share the recipe & I am happy to do so.

This is a recipe from Jane Brody's Good Food Cookbook.

Best of Bran Muffins

  • 3 cups shredded bran cereal (e.g. All-Bran or 100% Bran)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2-1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, if desired
  1. In a large bowl, combine the cereal, oil & raisins & pour the boiling water over them.  Set the mixture aside to cool slightly.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, buttermilk & molasses.  Add this to the partly cooled cereal mixture.
  3. In another small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Add the flour mixture to the cereal mixture, stirring just enough to moisten the dry ingredients.  Cover the batter with plastic wrap, wax paper or a damp towel, and let it stand for at least 15 minutes, preferably for 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease 24 muffin cups, and divide the batter among them, filling each cup about three-fourths full.  Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove the muffins from the oven, and, when they are slightly cooled, take them out of the tin and place on a rack to cool completely.
Makes 24 muffins.

I will tell you that these are not a real sweet muffin.  I'm sure you could add a bit more sugar if you prefer them sweeter.  I like them warm with one of the "healthy" spreads pictured above. 

The recipe makes 2 dozen.  I froze one dozen in a Ziploc bag.  When I want something to go with my afternoon coffee break, it's easy to pop one out of the freezer and into the microwave. 

A few of you asked questions in a recent post, so I thought I'd take a minute to answer those here.  Karen asked if the bran muffins were from the recipe where you kept the batter in the fridge and baked as many as you wanted.  I remember that recipe as my mom used to make it.  It is similar, but not the same one.
Stacey asked if my sister reads my blog.  Unfortunately, she isn't able to use the computer yet.  Hopefully she will be able to soon because I think it would allow her to be able to communicate more effectively.  Thanks for thinking of her, Stacey.
Osage Bluff Quilter asked whether my prayer plant had bloomed yet.  To be honest, I received it as a gift and didn't realize that it would bloom.  How exciting ~ I hope it does bloom eventually.
Lynn asked if I ship my muffins :-).  Well, so far I haven't, but there's always a first for everything.  Although they might taste fresher if you tried the recipe.

Thanks for your questions and taking the time to visit.  I hope I haven't missed any of your questions.  If so, please feel free to ask again.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shopping for Spring Inspiration

Recently I visited one of my favorite shops, Salem Creek.   Do you know how some shops just lift your spirits the moment you walk through the door?  The sight, sounds and smells are delightful.  Well, that is how Salem Creek was on my visit.  It was a bit like stepping out of winter into Spring. 

As I wandered from beautiful display to beautiful display, I envisioned coming home and re-creating this Spring haven in my own home.

Having a few hours of free time at home today, I wasn't feeling quite ambitious enough to tackle the whole house.

So, I did the next best thing . . .
Brought a touch of Spring to the kitchen table.  Sometimes that's good enough to send those winter blues packing.  At least until the next wave of ambition hits :-).

I will be back soon to answer a few questions from my last post including the bran muffin recipe.

Until then, stay warm & think Springy thoughts!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thanks ~ I Needed That

I needed that!!

Sometimes you just gotta ask the experts for their opinions.  When I was wavering a little ~ y'all knocked some sense into me.  And once again ...

I needed that ~ in a big way!!

You have helped me to put things into perspective in such a kind and gentle way.  Reading your comments has been like receiving a big re-assuring hug and I guess we all need one of those from time to time.

Why, if you were here I would hug you right back.  But since you're not, I could share a muffin with you.  It seems like it should be a cookie or a cupcake since Valentine's Day is almost here.  I'm afraid the best I can do today is a super healthy bran muffin.  They are made with whole wheat flour, molasses, sunflower seeds, raisins & buttermilk.  They may not be as sweet as a cupcake, but they are good for your and since you have shown me that your 's are so big and generous, I want to make sure you take good care of them. 

But, if bran muffins aren't your thing, I have a Dove dark chocolate bar hidden in the cupboard.  It's good for your too ;-)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Guilty Feelings

Try as I might, there has been no inspiration for blog posts to be found around here.  I have never been a daily blogger, but I marvel at those of you who are.  I marvel at your ability to come up with "fresh material" on a daily basis.  It occurred to me this morning that I probably should change my post as the snowstorm on my last post is long gone.

Sisters are the Brightest Blossoms in Life's Garden of Light

I considered posting that I was taking a blog break or possibly ending my blogging days. 
Not sure why, but the things I normally blog about suddenly seemed kind of silly to me.

To be honest, I sometimes even feel guilty about it.  I suppose that sounds strange, but this is why ...

The angel shown in my photos today is a gift I bought to send my sister.  It is one of the small things I can do to let her know I am thinking of her. If you are new here you can read about what happened to my sister here

Her year has not gotten off to a good start.  A fall, a hospital stay, a blood clot discovered, another hospital stay.

When I last called her she was trying so hard to tell me something.  Unfortunately her speech has not been recovered enough for me to understand what she was saying.  I sensed her frustration and felt soo bad. 

I continue to call, send cards & letters and pray for her. 

Yesterday as we watched the Super Bowl, I was flooded with memories of the many times she would host a family Super Bowl party.  Our husbands and sons are all huge sports fans.  She had a real gift for making it a fun time for all of us. 

Knowing what each day is like for my sister and her family ...
taking pictures of knick knacks, white bathrooms, cups of coffee, etc.  sometimes feels a bit insignificant in the scheme of things.

However, the main reason I got involved in blogging was to be given a reprieve from life's more difficult moments.  So in the end I guess that's a good thing, not something to feel guilty about.  What do you think?