Sunday, January 30, 2011

Happy Birthday, Ruthie

I accidently deleted this picture, so I'm adding it here. Hubby has promised to install Foxfire so I can once again "click and drag" my pictures. It sure has messed up more than one blog post for me!
This past Wednesday was Ruthie's 11th birthday. We gave her these three western dolls...a wonderful thrift shop find for $5 apiece. She loves them. Since Wednesday was busy, we decided to have her birthday dinner on Friday night when everyone would be home.

Mike took Lizzie to guitar lessons at 5:30 as it was snowing heavily, but after watching cars slip and slide all over the road, he made the smart decision to return home. I spent the afternoon cleaning out my pantry, including my box of spice mixes. I decided to try the Chicken Tikka Masala and McCormick's beef and broccoli sitfry mix (discontinued). I know it's a weird mixture but I wanted to use them up since I've had them for awhile.

We loved the chicken masala. Yes, it looks oily...and I had already used only half of the oil called for in the recipe. I will use only a fourth next time. This mix is from the same company that makes the delicious tandori chicken mix that I've tried. We definitely want to have this again.

This is the beef and broccoli. The only complaint from this recipe was that everyone wished there had been twice as much broccoli and less meat. I knew it wasn't gonna be enough broccoli...but that was the last of what I had. I served both dishes along with a lot of brown rice.
I know I mention what we eat often, but one of the most common questions I get asked is, What in the world do you all eat?! We feel blessed that we found out about our dairy and egg allergies gradually. It would've been hard to take those ingredients out cold turkey. But now that we are dairy and eggfree, I feel we are forced to eat much healthier. And it's become easy for us.

Maggie made these eggfree and dairyfree brownies for us this week. These are by far the most delicious brownies I have eaten. Maggie drew her inspiration from a recipe in Family Circle but she has changed so much of it that it really is her own version.

Maggie's Best Ever Dairyfree and Eggfree Brownies

2/3 cup cocoa
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp ground flax seed
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
4 eggs worth of egg replacer**
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (opt)

Heat oven to 350. Line an 8x8 dish with foil and spray with nonstick PAM.

In bowl, mix cocoa, flour, baking powder, salt, and flaxseed.

In large bowl, whisk together oil, sugars, egg replacer (and the water called for in the egg replacer), and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredient mixture. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Remove and cool completely. To slice, spray knife with cooking spray and cut into 25 squares. Re-spray knife as needed.

**We use many different ideas for replacing eggs. It all depends on the recipe. For this recipe, Maggie used this egg replacer from Ener-G, available at our local health food store.

FYI ~ The flaxseed acts as a glue to hold everything together so that this is not a crumbly brownie. We like that.
There's something wonderful about snowy, icy weather that gets us to enjoy putting puzzles together. We did two this week.

Anna bought a notebook so she could try her hand at making notebook covers. Beautiful!

Anna took a break from quilting a friend's wedding present to sew up this cute baby quilt. I feel like I'm living a "Quilt A Day" life! Love it!

Sarah has been busy crocheting the World's Ugliest Sweater...according to her. She is making this for baby Khy...whom you met last month. Evidently the yarn advertises that no matter what your stitches are, you will only end up with the design that you see on the two front sides. But look at the back design! Only Sarah could do that! She is disappointed...but still laughing.

Speaking of Sarah and laughing...this morning she went to the health food store for me. She took a back road (Macintosh for you locals) and was forced to a stop because two bucks were locked head to head in the middle of the road! Is this Alaska or what?! On either side of the road was a herd of does. Finally, a big pickup truck came along and honked them away so Sarah could continue on her way. What an event! Wish I'd been there.

Here's Ruthie's birthday dinner. She asked for pot roast...which I thought I had in the freezer...but it was gone when I went to defrost it. We ended up with roast chicken.

Ruthie and Maggie spent most of Friday in the kitchen baking together. It is so much fun as a Momma to see the closeness of my children. Anyhow, Ruthie made a cupcake cake using a pan that Grandma L gave us. It turned out beautifully! I'm not sure if they used a new recipe or not, but the vanilla/chocolate marbling was delicious. (This is where I accidently deleted the picture of Ruthie blowing out her candles. I added it to the top of this post.)
The next morning, my five daughters and their Daddy got up bright and early to go to the Father Daughter Breakfast at church. Ruthie had had a rough night and stayed up until 4:30 am. Our home has gotten too dusty and she was reacting. No fun. It is now vacuumed and dusted...but too late for her. She is really hurting today.
My daughters loved the breakfast. They said everything was just perfect. I'm not surprised. Our church has a wonderful ladies' fellowship and I've always been amazed at everything they do. This breakfast was a real blessing. They ended up with 80+ folks!
Mike had asked two other girls (Hannah and Brittany) if they'd like to be adopted for the day. They never said he was pleasantly surprised when they showed up to become family for the day! They even gave Mike the sweetest Thank You note. My hubby already considers himself the luckiest man alive to have not only one helpmeet...but five helpmeeters -in-training living with him.
The tables were beautiful.
Anna and Mike were part of the game that is based on the old Newlywed Game. They lost big time!
Here's Anna and Ruthie playing another game. There were four games total.
Here's the donut game. This is Pastor who adopted three daughters whose parents were at a Bible Study.
Mike didn't mind eating so many donuts.
Now it's the daughters' turn. Afterwards they had a devotional. What a wonderful memory.
We finished the two puzzles.
Here's the second one. Each puzzle has 750 pieces. If any local friends would like to have one or both, let me know and I will get it to you. Otherwise it's going back to the thrift shop. I am so glad our favorite thrift shop (Hooks and Hangers) is selling puzzles again for 25 cents each.

So this Sunday morning has me home with Maggie and Ruthie. Maggie accidently ate some dairy out in town this week, so she is all congested. Sarah is at the health food store buying mullein and then to Walmart to buy sudafed. I try to keep these things on hand but somehow I got caught emptyhanded. We make it a rule not to shop on Sunday, but Ruthie is hurting badly and the mullein works best.

I am going to fix lunch and then take a nap. I really feel my age when Ruthie has these all-nighters that keep me awake. I miss not being able to stay up all night without feeling it!

Enjoy your Sunday. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

One of our dearest friends from church, Mr. Owen (...of our infamous Bonnie and Owen), made this adorable artwork gift and gave it to us this past Sunday. We love it! On the bottom is says, "to the beekeepers, keep 'em hummin'!" What a thoughtful gift...and what talent! Mr. Owen is always using his gifts to bless other folks. Anytime we need props for our plays and VBS, Mr. Owen is right there painting away. Mrs. Bonnie also gave us a gift...a bag of fabric. What a fun gift for our family! Thanks so much, Bonnie and Owen. (And I hope I don't get in trouble for bragging on them!)

Another friend from church, another Mrs. Bonnie, gave us a bolt of orange fabric. She told us, "Now I expect to see all five girls in matching orange dresses this fall." She is sooo funny!

Our latest dish using nondairy daiya cheese shreds is this Macaroni and Cheese. It was sooo delicious!

Allen sewed this tote bag for me for Christmas. I love it! He knows I love western fabrics, so all three prints are western themed. He did such a good job matching all the points and corners.
I like the way he sewed the handles. (They are sewn straight...I just had the handles all wadded up right before I took this picture.)
And I like the way he topstitched the sides and bottom. The size is perfect for my Bible and/or music. Thanks, Allen.

Maggie sewed three hat/scarves for Anna for Christmas. These are called scoodie scarves. (I just learned this term.) The fabrics are soft flannel. I think Maggie did a perfect job especially considering she didn't have a pattern.
On one of the scarves, Maggie used buttons so the hat and scarf can be used alone.
I love her choice of fabrics.

Sarah made this hat and scarf set for Ruthie for her birthday tomorrow. She will love it!
Sarah had fun making this flower thing out of zippers.
Last week Sarah made this handy carry for her yoga mat. Very nice!

This past month, Maggie has been giving one of her oldest bunnies some penicillin shots to try to kill off an abscess on her face. It didn't work, and Maggie had to make the tough decision to put Bailey down. It was so sad. I was surprised to get this lovely card from the vet offering her sincere sympathy. What a touching thing to do.

I bought this large book at the thrift shop yesterday and I have been enjoying it. There are many, many favorite kind of coffee table book! State fairs used to be serious business a hundred years ago. I noticed there is also a Maryland state fair book for $4 that I hope to find in the thrift shop some day.

Well, the week is going well. The pianos are all tuned and we had a very good appointment with the Occupational Health folks. Anna got the first two of her shots today. Thursday she gets another two. Today's shots were supposed to make her feel "off", but I haven't heard any complaints. And I'm happy to report that the Navy does not give any shots with thimerosal (mercury). PTL! And the doctor decided not to give Anna the dreaded rabies vaccination...another big praise.

Today I spent my only free hour snuggling Ruthie, so I didn't get any sewing done. Ruthie said snuggling was more important than gifts, so I obeyed. I love snuggling my babies!

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Monday, January 24, 2011

I haven't been baking in a while in an effort to cut down on carbs, so when I went to look for my favorite sourdough recipe, I was surprised at how awful my recipes look! I wonder if my recipes will be around in 100 years. I think of the measurements of a century ago and how we can't use a lot of those recipes because of the vague measurements.
I want to clean out my folder of miscellaneous pictures, so I'll post some here. I bought a box of these tortilla bowls to try. They worked really well.

I kept the boxes so next time I can use a healthier whole grain tortilla. It makes a wonderful taco salad.
Lizzie and Anna made these two aprons. No ruffles for my tomboys.
I forgot about Martin Luther King holiday for the federal workers so at the last minute we invited some other "feds" to come over for games after church on Sunday evening. I had such a good time.
Here they are playing Rumikub, a family favorite, but we also played a lot of Blokus...our latest family favorite. I love strategy games!
On Monday night, we headed over to Monterey Restaurant to hear the mariachi band. They were great!
Evidently they will be coming regularly, every other Monday evening. Sarah says the Monterey restaurant in Calvert County has a mariachi band every week.
I see that I accidently deleted a picture. The band had a trumpeter, a fiddler, and two guitar-type instruments that are common in the mariachi bands. The band came around to each table and took requests. We had several requests...but they didn't know them. I was surprised since our requests were typical mariachi songs. Most of the songs they sang sounded like typical pop songs. I still enjoyed it.
Remember the huge piles of mulch and wood chips we've been getting for free? Allen is on a mission to try to use the heat generated from the piles. He would like to get an early start on his chickens, so he is trying to figure out how to heat his chicken coop. First we tried digging a hole in the middle of the pile to stuff a black pipe into.
You could see the smoke rising...and you could definitely feel the heat!
Ollie ran up and plopped himself down on the heat! We looked online and found many different ideas for using compost heat. I think we're going to try putting a tarp over the coop, then covering it with the mulch. I'll let you know how that turns out.
My 5# bag of daiya nondairy cheddar shreds came in this week. I love it. It came prepackaged in 1# bags. I put 4# in the freezer. I love that it freezes well! We are having fun trying the cheese in all our old favorite recipes like quesadillas and grilled cheese. Yummy!
Every time I go out on the porch to get firewood, our cat tries to jump up on me for attention. He caught me off guard on this day. I don't hold him often since I have to change my dress and wash up afterwards because of Ruthie's allergy. I sure enjoy it though.
We always enjoy when grandad comes over to sit in front of the fire. Now that he knows we have all 6 seasons of Hogan's Heroes on dvds, he enjoys the fireplace even more! Today Grandad sent home a pot of corned beef, cabbage and potatoes that we enjoyed for dinner. Thanks, Dad!
Sarah is still crocheting something new almost everyday. She made this dish cloth and is proud of her straight stitches. We're both not sure if we like a round cloth.

It has a handy loop to hang for drying.
She also made this soap scrubbie.
Lizzie finally has her etsy store open and has listed two totes so far. It's a family store...and the rest of us will be listing items as well.
For Christmas, Maggie gave me this vanilla kit. She knew I had been researching how to make my own vanilla extract, so this was the perfect gift! You write the date on the bottle, split the 3 long vanilla beans in half lengthwise, pour in the vodka, then store in a dark, cool place for 6 months.
Here's a side view.

Mike bought the vodka at the navy exchange for less than $4. I was afraid that was going to be a lot pricier. My bottle is down in my cool cellar. I have to shake it once a month. I'll take a picture of the progress.
I found this nice bottle at Ross' for $1.99. It is perfect for my homemade salad dressing. I like that I can make 6x my recipe.

Last week was so busy...and this one is just as bad. Last Monday the piano tuner came and tuned my grand piano...but he recently hurt his arm/shoulder, so he can only tune one piano a day. He came again this morning and will return tomorrow for the third piano. I liked getting it all over in one day. Our tuner comes first thing in the morning...and it's hard for me to get going that early!

Anna has her appointment with Occupational Health tomorrow morning to discuss her many immunizations for her upcoming trip. My children only got the basic immunizations (d-tap, polio and mmr) so that is working against us now. Maggie is making an herbal tonic that I hope Anna can stomach to build up her strenth against this onslaught. The tonic calls for ginger, garlic, horseradish--all fresh--and apple cider vinegar. First we have to find fresh horseradish. (Click here for more natural remedies.)

Mike is busy with lots of paperwork to get Maggie's naval health benefits extended since she turns 21 in March. We are praying diligently for this extension.

We woke up to 8 degrees this morning. Our inside temp was 61 degrees. Fortunately it doesn't take long to warm up once we get the woodstove, fireplace and pellet stove all cranking. But we are sure burning up a lot of wood and pellets this week!

Ruthie's birthday is on Wednesday, so I am anxious to get back down in the basement and return to my sewing. I have 3 jumpers and 2 slips cut out. Hopefully I will get them finished.

Hope you are enjoying your winter and keeping warm. Many blessings ~ Kathie

"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.

Neither do men light a candle and set it under a bushel, but on a candlestick. And it giveth light to all that are in the house.

Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." ~ Matthew 5:14-16