Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Christmas is Coming!

Christmas is just under 3 months away! The cold weather we have been having the last few days make this seem even more true. I went to some garage sales last weekend and someone was selling only Christmas decorations. Most stores have their Christmas items out also. It is time to start thinking and planning this year's Christmas.

I wanted to really enjoy Christmas last year. I didn't enjoy it very much. I had to have a root canal a few days before and it went bad so I was in a lot of pain. My husband was working 16 hour days that month due to the mortgage refinance craze and was not in a good mood or particularly very helpful. My mother-in-law came to visist from Iowa and she was sick with a cold and very cranky. The only thing that saved us was all the planning and pre shopping I did the months before. It just proves that you never know what will happen and it is a very good idea to plan ahead. You can always make new plans.

I started a few lists this morning. I have a gift list and a "to do" list. My Halloween decorations are up and my Thanksgiving ones are in the garage and ready to go up next. I am going to get my Christmas outdoor decorations and wrapping paper down from the attic this afternoon and see if I need to replace anything. I bought a little black dress to wear to all my parties for the season. Christmas preparation is in progress!!!

I have been making Christmas potholders the last two weeks. I have been working on Santa Claus Potholders this week. I am crocheting bunches of little Santa heads from peach, white, and red yarn. Then I add 2 French knot blue eyes and sew a white pom pom to the top of his hat. I sew the appliqué to a black crocheted potholder with red and white ruffly border. They look like Old World Santas. They are very cute. You can see more pictures of them at

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Football Sunday

The Chicago Bears are playing this afternoon at Seattle. I am expecting the Bears to win. The Bears are looking really good today and the starting quarterback of the Seahawks is out. I’ve invited a few friends over to watch the game. We have Miller Lite and Diet Pepsi on ice. We have chips and salsa, peanuts, homemade chili in the crock pot, and brownies for dessert. I’ll make some cornbread just before halftime. We are keeping it simple so we can enjoy a laid back, relaxing, Sunday afternoon. Go Bears!

Here is the cornbread recipe I have used for years:


1 egg
1 cup milk
¼ cup melted margarine or butter
1 cup flour
¾ cup corn meal
1 tsp. salt
2 ½ tsp. baking soda
¼ cup sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease an 8X8 inch baking pan. Blend flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a medium sized mixing bowl and set aside. Beat egg, milk, and melted butter in a smaller bowl until well mixed and add to dry ingredients in other bowl. Stir until just blended. Batter should be lumpy. Pour into pan and let sit for a few minutes. You can sprinkle a little sugar on top for a sweeter cornbread. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Spread a little margarine or butter on top and let it melt before cutting into slices.

This is an old 4-H recipe and is easy to prepare and delicious.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Getting Old With Bruce

Bruce Springsteen is turning 60 today!!! OMG!!!! He looks good!!!! My husband, daughter and her friends, and I are going to see him in St. Louis on October 25th. It will be our first time to see him in concert and we are so excited. Isn’t it marvelous that our 27 year old daughter loves him too? I think we love him because he is just a regular working guy! He sympathizes with the working class and pushes for hope in times of turmoil. His music is awesome! His concerts are amazing!

I hope I look as good as Bruce when I turn 60. I’m a few years away from the senior citizen discount but I still feel about 29 although I probably look my age. Darn!

Most of our favorite bands are in their fifties, sixties, seventies…. Mick Jagger is 66. Marshall Tucker’s Doug Gray is 61. Jimmy Buffett is 63. Paul McCartney is 67. Jerry Lee Lewis is 74. Recently, we were talking with our friends about how we can still go to concerts and see the performers we listened to in our teens and twenties. This year we saw Jimmy Buffet, Styx, REO Speedwagon, and 38 Special and they gave wonderful concerts. These concerts are especially precious because each one might be the last time we will ever see them. “We will never pass this way again” is a song by Seals and Crofts about how quickly life passes. Think about the loss of Michael Jackson, Jerry Garcia, John Lennon, etc.

Some people say that sixty is the new forty. I like that. It gives me something to look forward to and more time to accomplish everything on my bucket list

Happy Birthday Bruce! Rock on!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy 29th Anniversary

My husband and I celebrated our 29th anniversary last Sunday. We had an absolutely perfect day! It was raining when we got up and we were worried because we were planning to go to a baseball game in St. Louis. We reminisced about the day we got married - it was a hot, sunny September afternoon. There were two funny incidents at our wedding. The time of our wedding was left off the invitations and there was not enough time to reprint them so we had
to put a small card into the invitations with the time. I don't remember anyone being late so it must have worked. The second thing was that the pastor forgot to tell everyone to sit down after I walked down the aisle and the whole group stood for the whole ceremony.

We had lunch with our son who is a freshman in college at SIUE. It was a different world there, full of young adults. We ate lunch at Red Robin. It was our first trip to Red Robin and it was fun. They have a lot of different stuff to eat and the portions are huge! We had a good talk with our son and were reassured that he is happy to be there and doing well.

We went on to St. Louis and checked into the hotel at Harrah’s casino. We had a complimentary hotel room for the night. It was a pretty good room. We went down to the casino and I played slots for awhile and he played poker and watched the Bear game. We lost a few dollars but the Bears won! Can you believe it?

Then we went to the Cubs/Cardinals baseball game with our daughter and her husband. We had the best time and the weather was perfect and the Cubs won!! Two victories in one day! Awesome!!!

We went back to the casino and played slots and blackjack and this time we won enough money to cover most of our expenses for the weekend. What an anniversary gift! We were so lucky!

It was one of our better anniversaries! There is no traditional gift for the 29th anniversary but the modern gift is furniture. We stopped giving each other gifts for our anniversary several years ago and like to go out for a nice dinner instead. I can’t believe 29 years have passed since our wedding. It went so fast. Next year is the big 30. We have huge plans for that. We are taking our 3 children and son-in-law to Jamaica!!!

Meanwhile I am back home, cleaning the house and getting out my Halloween decorations. I am surprised to find that I need to buy a new tablecloth and some candles and maybe some ghost figures. I am decorating with fall leaves, pumpkins, and ghosts this year and a scarecrow here and there.

Today is the first day of fall! Night and day hours with be the same today. Celebrate fall with a late afternoon walk and see if the leaves in your area are changing yet. Make an apple or pumpkin pie. Have a hot cup of apple cider or hot chocolate with marshmallows after dinner. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's a Busy, Busy, Week

It is a busy, busy week for me, filled with a dentist appointment, vet appointment, a haircut, shopping, cleaning, laundry, and cooking. The usual chores plus much more. There are not enough hours in the day! I am dieting too which is making me a little crabby. All in all it is a difficult week.
I did terrible on my football picks for last week. The Bears are letting me down. We lost our star player Brian Urlacher who sprained his wrist and Jay Cutler’s performance was very disappointing. This Sunday we are playing the Steelers so I’m a little worried.
I finished making some really cute Owl Potholders for fall and am working on some really cute Witch Potholders for Halloween. They are crocheted from Lily Cream and Sugar 100% cotton yarn. I am making the witch appliqué with a lime green face with a black hat with an orange bow. She has a 3-d green nose, purple crinkly hair, a black embroidered mouth, and black bead eyes. Very cute. I have several in my stores.
Here is an easy Fall Apple Pork Chop Recipe for those busy, busy days!!!
Brown Sugar Pork Chops
(from the Gooseberry Patch Taste of Autumn Cookbook)

4 pork chops, browned
4 potatoes, cubed
3 apples, cored and cubed
½ onion, chopped
1 t. cinnamon
2 tbsp. brown sugar, packed

Arrange pork chops in an 8X8 baking dish. Top with potatoes, apples, and onion; sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until tender. Serves 4. Yummy!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Celebration of Fall

It is the weekend after Labor Day and although the temperatures here have been in the eighties, it is starting to feel and look a little like fall. I have started taking walks in the late afternoon or early evening and have noticed that the leaves are turning colors already. Also, it is cooler and darker in the morning and early evening. The busy Christmas season and winter are not too far away!
Last night my husband made a nice fire in our outdoor fire it. We sat outside around it and read until dark. He was reading a biography of David Carradine and I was reading this month’s Glamour magazine. Our dog Arthur sat nearby on guard duty. It was very relaxing. We could be companionable yet do our own thing. I brought a basket of hotdogs and buns, condiments, a pot of baked beans, chips, drinks, and the makings for s’mores. We talked and laughed and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, and ate. It was so much fun and so simple and inexpensive! It was a celebration of the beginning of the fall season.
Celebrating the holidays and seasons makes me happy. I love to decorate for the holidays and cook and bake seasonal foods. I also think it is very important to have something to look forward to. I try to have one thing to look forward to everyday. For instance, today I am looking forward to going to the movies with my husband this afternoon. I should be working outside because I have a lot to do and it is a beautiful Sunday afternoon. But work can wait. I love sitting in a dark theatre, eating a huge bucket of buttery popcorn, and watching the latest movie with my husband. When we finish the popcorn we will hold hands. It is truly the little things that make you happy. It could be a good book to read before bed, a good meal, a good dessert, a phone call with a friend or family member, a crossword puzzle, a warm, soothing bath, a cup of tea, a glass of wine - there are many things you can look forward to that will give you a little happiness.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Easy Pot Roast Dinner

This Easy Pot Roast Dinner is a great meal to make on a busy day when you don't have a lot of time and you want a home cooked meal for dinner. It can be cooked all day in a crockpot or simmered on the stove or in the oven as long as you are available to check on it every couple of hours to make sure that it doesn't run out of liquid.

3-5 lb. beef roast
onion powder
garlic powder
4 cups beef broth or 4 cups water and 4 tsp instant beef bouillon
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
Optional ingredients:
assorted vegetables
dried noodles

Brown a fat trimmed roast in a heavy dutch oven sprayed with Pam. Sprinkle liberally with onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add 4 cups beef broth and 1 tbsp. vinegar. (It is the vinegar that makes this dish so tender!) Simmer for about 4-6 hours on low heat on your stovetop or at 350 degrees in your oven. You may have to add water so don’t leave roast unattended for more than a couple of hours. You can also simmer it in a Crockpot for about 8 hours. An hour before serving you can add potatoes, carrots, onions, etc. to round out your meal. Remove roast and vegetables before serving and you will have a rich broth to cook a batch of noodles or make gravy. The longer you cook the roast the better it will taste.

Here is an easy dessert that goes well with this meal:

Chocolate Mousse

Jell-O Chocolate Instant Pudding
2 cups cold milk
1 cup cool whip

Beat pudding mix and milk in a medium bowl for about 2 minutes. Mix in 1 cup cool whip and blend. Spoon into 6 individual dessert cups. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Top each dessert with leftover cool and add some sprinkles or min chocolate chips if desired. Work well with sugar-free or fat-free pudding and cool whip.

I made this yesterday for dinner. It is a meal that can be started in the morning or even the night before and will cook all day without much attention. It is also a very attractive meal to serve to guests if you arrange the meat and vegetables on a pretty platter and serve the dessert in pretty glasses.

If you like chocolate be sure to check out this website before the end of September 2009: Mars is giving away free candy bars! Hurry! September 25th is the last day!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Clean House

A clean house is a sign of a misspent life. Nevertheless, after a 3 day rainy holiday weekend, I am spending most of the day cleaning my house. My husband, 2 boys, and cat have made a shambles of the place. It takes me about 3 hours. I have a system that I go through each time I clean. I go through and put everything away. Then I clean the kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry room first because they all have tile floors and I can mop them all with the same bucket of water. Then I clean the bedrooms, living room, and family room. This is a pretty thorough cleaning. Sometimes I just wipe off the surfaces of the baths and kitchen, dust, shake out the rugs, plug my vacuum into an extension cord and vacuum the whole house, and swifter mop the floors. I just read about a 10 minute clean up in a Good Housekeeping magazine and I may try it next week. Some people have a system where they do a little cleaning everyday for 10 minutes but I like to have all of my house clean at once.

Countdown for the finale of True Blood: 6 days!!!! Season 2 has been really good! HBO has the best series. True Blood is loosely based on the Southern Vampire Mysteries written by Charlaine Harris. The show is based upon the premise that vampires and humans can live together based upon the invention and manufacture of a substance called True Blood. The show is full of vampires, shape shifters, and all kinds of stuff! Sometimes I think this is so silly, but I love it anyway!!! What is it with vampires now?

I am almost done with my candy corn items. I’m going to make a few hats for gifts. Here is a link to the pattern I use to make candy corn baby hats

Monday, September 7, 2009

Illinois/Missouri Football Game

We went to the University of Illinois football game against the Missouri Tigers Saturday with my daughter Emily and her husband Mike. It was awesome!

We attended a tailgate party on top of the Missouri Club parking ramp first. It was so much fun. We had drinks, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hotdogs, chips, chocolate chip cookies, and snacks. We talked and laughed and watched the variety of people celebrating the first football game of the season. It was a perfect day. It had started out rainy but the sun came out and it was the perfect temperature.
At about 2 PM, we headed over to the Edward Jones Stadium to get seated for the game. The stadium was so crowded we could barely move through it. It was a mass of orange and yellow. Everyone was so excited! There was a lot of good natured teasing between rivals. Finally we found our seats. We were right in front of the 40 yard line about 12 rows up from the field line. They were the best seats I have ever had for a sporting event.
It was a fun game but our Illinois team lost 37 to 9.

We consoled ourselves with a trip to the Lumiere Casino and a dinner at Applebees.

I can’t wait to go again!!!

NFL football offically starts this week. My favorite team is the Bears and they're looking good this year! Join a pool or fantasy league and get your picks in soon. I joined a fantasy football league called Yahoo Pro Pick'em at Yahoo Fantasy Sprots. It is sponsered by Southwest Airlines and they give a way 2 free tickets a week. I also have pro football bracelets for sale in my store: the Crafty Cupboard.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Best Friends Forever

I just finished reading Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner. I liked it. I have liked all of her books. My favorite is In Her shoes. Most of her books center around the transformation of the central character from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. This always gives me hope.

Best Friends Forever is the story of two oddball best friends. Addie Downs is a shy insecure nine year old girl with an unusual but very loving family. Her father is a slightly damaged Vietnam War vet who cannot hold down a job. Her mother is an enormously fat woman who writes greeting cards from home. Her brother is the only normal one in the family. He is handsome, athletic, and popular but very embarrassed to be a member of the family.

Addie is friendless until Valerie Adler moves into the neighborhood. Valerie is homely and lives with her unconventional, irresponsible, divorced mother. They become the best of friends until high school. Valerie blooms into a pretty teenager and is swept into popularity while Addie becomes a fat, sullen teenager who is the joke of the school.

Fifteen years later, both women have become successful, pretty women. Valerie shows up at Addie's house after attending their high school reunion and she is in serious trouble and needs Addie's help. Hoping to escape the police, they are off on a funny, intense, breathtaking adventure!!!!

This is aheart warming story about loyalty and betrayal, small town secrets, dysfunctional families, and the value of friendship.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Summer's End

The End of A Great Summer

Just four more days until Labor Day. It has been a cool, wet summer which passed quickly. I spent my summer getting my last child ready for college and making projects for our local fair and trying to keep up with the weeds in my yard. We did a lot of fun things. We went to Pella, Iowa for an old fashioned 4th of July celebration and to a Styx, REO Speedwagon, and 38 Special Concert in St. Louis. We saw Jimmy Buffett in Chicago. We went to a lot of baseball games here in town and in St. Louis. We went to the county and state fairs. All in all it was a good summer!

My son and I took our dog to the vet yesterday. He had a very painful ingrown toenail. The nail technician clipped all his nails and luckily the ingrown one fell right out. Arthur is 13 years old and suffers from arthritis in his back legs. He also has a terrible rash under his armpits and chest. He is going back to the vet in a couple of weeks to have these things looked at again. I have been treating his rash with benadryl tablets and Sulfadene lotion and the arthritis with Glucosamine tablets and buffered aspirin. There is a little improvement but maybe the vet can help him feel a little better.

I am busy making candy corn appliques for potholders and bags in my store for Halloween. They are very cute. Last fall I published a free pattern for my Candy Corn Coasters in this blog and I believe it is still available. I will be making more coasters and selling them as well as potholders and bags and other holiday items in my store.

My other son is coming home from college to visit and do his laundry today. I can't wait to see him. I will probably see a lot of changes.