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Monday, December 31, 2007

Untouched photos of the bread which I baked using the no-knead recipe from a day or so back....the 12 hours of "rising" seems to have is a rustic, "Tuscan" type bread. It almost made itself while I worked on the art journal pages! I used a generous dusting of cornmeal to keep the dough from sticking to the Dutch/(French?) oven.

Now, results from many hours with printer, scissors, glue stick......(or what to do with all those digital camera photos...)

This is the page about Christmas Eve....a candlelight church service, a lovely meal in a fine restaurant with the new grandson along too!...and finally being home for Lilia to open one gift before bedtime! The antique angel card tells about the candlelight service, as we have no photos...

This is the scanned page of a collage made in 1999, when Lilia was a baby....the photo of my exotic granddaughter from the rainforest is floating on a butterfly(which is loose and tied to the binding wire) above a comfortable raft toward which a tiger is swimming....a visual expression of a grandmother's prayers for her safety in a beautiful but sometimes dangerous world.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The diplomatic French have a lovely solution to our "problem" of what to call your "in-laws"!

beau-père = father-in-law

belle-mère = mother-in-law

These terms of endearment are much easier on the ears and easier to say (fewer syllables!) than our terms. I would not mind being addressed as "Belle Mere"
rather than by my name or something I'm not to them (like "Mom" or "Grandma")!

I have found a delightful new treat!!!!

Honey Crisp apples! They are perfect right now and make me feel so much better than I do when I eat all those holiday goodies!

I have found these apples to have a juicy, almost "explosive" crispness!

Honey Crisp is the new sensation in the apple world, a large, sweet apple with crisp "to-die-for" texture! Believed to be an offspring of Macoun and Honey Gold, Honey Crisp was introduced in 1991 by the University of Minnesota breeders at Excelsior, MN. Both its parents were noted for having excellent flavor, moderate sized fruit, and "ok" texture. Honey Crisp's flavor is perhaps not as dramatic as Macoun at its peak, but is first rate. The Kicker in Honey Crisp is its crisp texture -- no other apple matches its crispness. (taken from

A fellow blogger raves about these apples here!
They have been around awhile, but have just now become available in some of our grocery stores.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Baking Bread is comforting!!!!

I found recipes for baking no-knead bread and using the new cast iron Le Creuset oven which many of us have or have just received for Christmas! (This photo is by fellow blogger Karen Kaminski of the blog, "Better Living Through Literature". Karen mentioned finding the recipe and article about no-knead breads in the May issue of I searched on-line and found these recipes, links and videos!)

Apparently, it is the long rising time 12-18 hours which takes the place of kneading!

Basic No-Kead Bread

3 cups bread flour

2 tsp. fine salt

1 tsp. instant yeast

1 1/2 cups water, at room temperature

Coarse wheat bran (for preventing sticking to towel during rise). In a large bowl combine flour and salt. Mix. Add yeast. Add water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes (you'll probably only need another 10-15 minutes...keep an eye on it), until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

For more details on the technique try this same recipe! It really is easy enough to do with one of your children during the holidays! Now if you really want to learn this technique, just watch this video! [He may not use the Le Creuset pan, but it would work!]

Why? It's too much......I can't sleep tonight!

Maybe posting a few images of the things tumbling through my brain will clear the slate and sleep will come....?

An American president from my world, and a very brave woman who has now been slain. It is too much!

For most of the fall, I have been trying to help and "fix" make life better for those I love. I know it is impossible to do it all and make things just fine. (I do get frustrated when a meal I make is not savored, most are and I keep trying!). I need to get back to my own world...and do my art! I'm frustrated about the little stresses and now the world of terrorism and insanity comes to the forefront again! (Testosterone poisoning?)

Holding this baby I have had many moments of wonder and "being" not "doing". Doing exhausts me!
This beautiful suburban world in north Georgia ,of endless shops and material possessions for these beautiful homes exhausts me too. It is too much. ( But, I am excited about my new green paella pan. )

I know that peace and sleep will come....."It is as it is". No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should!
(Thanks for listening!)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

He came late last night! Santa stopped here and we had a busy time this morning, seeing the granddaughter delight in what he left by the fireside and in the stockings!
We have had brunch and are off to some friends' home for Christmas dinner! It is indeed a feast this year!
Peace and blessings to all of you!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wishing all of you a very merry Christmas....

see you next year!!!!!

(unless I decide to post earlier!)

Oh, one more is an easy brunch/dessert recipe, very tasty!.... and since it uses refrigerated crescent rolls, maybe it is just a bit "white trash" cooking....(not as bad a fried Twinkies, though!) Try this Sopapilla Cheesecake!

Monday, December 17, 2007

I now know how I broke my Bernina!

See the hank of loose white thread? This is what the repairman found behind my flywheel!!!!!!
I now remember one day when I was winding several bobbins....and had changed from light to dark thread. As I wind them, I tend to just look around while pushing on the foot pedal and let the bobbins spin! It took me a while to notice that there was a light thread caught in the fly I stopped, broke the thread and wondered if I had gotten it the machine still sewed fine, I did nothing to investigate further and soon forgot all about this!
You can see in the photo how I rig up the thread to use these large quilter's spools (I really like the 100% cotton thread, a bit finer than most) for use on my home machine. I set the spool in a small jar so that it doesn't roll around, and I tape a safety pin to use the "eye" to guide the thread to the machine! Unfortunately the downfall was this is all out of sight behind the machine and I was not paying attention anyway!!!!!
If I had gone to the service with the question about the fly wheel, immediately, it could have saved the machine! Hindsight!
At least I don't have to feel bad about stitching on my paper quilts...they were not the cause of the problem!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

We did get the tree decorated!

You can see all the things still calling for "broken" sewing machine, a framed painting, packages to ship....

Instead, Mr. Pear is down with a to make our world more cozy and comforting, I am making some chocolate chip oatmeal cookies!

To stir the dough, I love to use this slotted spatula. It is now one of my favorite kitchen tools ( and I am giving some for gifts!). I think it was created to lift fish from being poached...but it works so well for stirring, mixing (almost like a whisk) not to mention, flipping pancakes and removing cookies from the baking sheet once they are done!

Now for that oatmeal cookie recipe!

Oatmeal Chocolate-Chip Cookies

Yields 18 large cookies

1 1/2 cups FLOUR
1/2 teaspoon SALT
1/2 teaspoon BAKING POWDER
8 ounces (2 sticks) UNSALTED BUTTER, softened
1 cup LIGHT BROWN SUGAR, packed
2 large EGGS
3 cups OATS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Whisk flour, salt and baking powder together in a medium bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, by hand or by mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add sugars and beat the mixture until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time.
4. Stir dry ingredients into butter-sugar mixture with a wooden spoon or a large rubber spatula. Stir in oats and chocolate chips.
5. Place dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets by large spoonfuls (about 2 tablespoons each), leaving at least 2 inches between.
6. Bake until cookie edges turn golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Slide cookies (on parchment) onto cooling rack. Let cool, and store in airtight container.

Lila's variation:

Add grated zest of one orange and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon to the dough!


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Outside the weather was cold and gray....but we made things warmer!......

A busy day hanging the holiday quilt show in the parish hall!

The quilts made by me (in the first photo) and by my friend Tracie, really add warmth to the large multi-use room! Here Tracie and Katherine are making final adjustments on a quilt of mine! The other colorful quilts on that wall are by Tracie.

Here are my four paper quilts, representing the 4 seasons....they were lots of fun to do, using magazine pages and tissue paper along with gesso and acrylic paints. [ I do wonder if making these and quilting them after painting had something to do with the major repair now needed by my Bernina? Hmmmm. I was following directions in "Cloth, Paper, Scissors" , magazine and the machine did not seem to mind stitching thru all that paper and paint at the time. However, when I tried to use it to machine quilt my latest fabric quilt, it made horrible clanging noises and now needs to go the experts at a major Bernina repair center...for a $400.00 repair. ]

The show will hang until mid January. After that, I may sell those paper quilts on ETSY.


My other big project for this weekend is to get our Christmas decorations up (Hey, I've been out of town!)

Last year we had lots of extended family coming to be with us for Christmas. This year is just not the same!!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Madly sewing, and it isn't even Santa's workshop!!!!!!

My first morning back home, it is a cold, cloudy day and I am not moving very fast!
I will be working on the quilts and art for the show we are hanging this weekend.
It is not really a show to sell things, more of helping decorate the parish hall for the holiday season. Here, my trusty antique featherweight is warming up (doesn't like a cold room) to help me sew on a binding!

The quilts in this pile are holiday related and should look fabulous in the parish hall after I add some hanging sleeves!

P.S. Friday

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I am delighted to report that I had a wonderful night's sleep in the 'bed and breakfast' on the town square in Holly Springs, Mississippi last night! There was a soft rain falling, and the few Christmas decorations around the square were of holly and of snowflakes! Very understated and our Christmases used to be!
This was the most comfortable bed in the world, and the town was totally quiet all night (it is a very small town!!!). I have never slept in such a "high" bed....I almost needed stairs to get into it!LOL!
Now I'm happy to back in Arkansas, and home to my life!!!! I will visit your blogs as soon as I catch up on visiting my other friends!!! [Can't believe it is almost Christmas!]

Friday, December 07, 2007

We are having a quiet "Advent" evening here tonight! This photo shows me holding the little one while looking at the Williams Sonoma catalog....he is fast asleep after a real "screaming" and "fussy" half hour of "colic". (He may "tune-up" again at any time in the evening....last night he hardly went to sleep at all, fussy and restless. My bleary-eyed daughter brought him to me at 6:00 this morning....I rocked him off to sleep, then he slept all morning....)

Laura (my daughter) is feeling well enough to clean and vacuum while I hold the baby. I'm smiling because she is feeling better, and I know that I can head home!!!! The baby's daddy had been working out of town all week (no doubt catching up on some sleep too!) and is due home tonight. So I'll be leaving them in good hands! Daddy can help with the wee hours crying and fussing....and the baby will soon grow out of that too!


This is an Advent Calendar which now hangs in my daughter's kitchen and is used by my granddaughter to count down the days until Christmas.

It is almost 30 years old....and is one of the first quilts I ever made....I think it was featured in a magazine from the late 1970's. Laura was just a toddler when I first hung it in our Little Rock home. There are 24 pockets with minature ornaments which are hung on the tree. (I noticed that my granddaughter is hanging them in an orderly, row-by-row fashion. I think I was always more random....

One other funny, new, or odd thing is going on the neighborhood, the elemetary school or something....the children are writing notes to Santa to please send an "elf". Then they set out soda crakcers and water.....and the next morning, the elf is supposed to be somewhere in the house! The parents next door, dutifully ate the crackers and water but had no "elf" to they told their daughter that he must be invisible at first....or maybe in the basement...she had no time to look there as she had to go to school this morning. So today they are out rushing madly around trying to find an "elf". they generously offered to get one for us too, as Lilia has a post-it note on the fire place here asking Santa for an elf and is planning to put out the crakcers and water tonight!!!!!
Meanwhile, the mother across the street had bought the book "Elf on a Shelf" and used the little elf doll last year. Now this Thanksgiving, she was beside herself trying to remember where she had put the it was time to have it moniter the child's behavior again!!! (She did eventually find it!) Do any of you have mysterious "elves" appearing in your homes????


Finally, a photo of the tea party I had with my granddaughter last week. We are sharing a cheese scone and a chocolate truffle along with our tea! We have used her little tea sets and had parties since she was 3.

This makes another wonderful memory for us!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Here are some recent photos of our baby and his family. He was 2 weeks old last Saturday...



These are my favorites of about 80 that the photographer took that afternoon. It is so wonderful to see the family as a unit and Lilia as a big sister!

I've reached the point of being homesick for my own life and world now. I think they will make it for a while without me.
I have a quilt/art show to hang next weekend. So I will have to leave soon. It is a long drive, and for some reason, I am a bit more tired than when I first maybe I'll take 2 days to drive to Little Rock. Maybe spend the night in Holly Springs, MS....?

Monday, December 03, 2007

It will soon be St. Nicholas of the first "Christmas" events we celebrated with our children. On Dec. 5th, the eve of St. Nicholas Day, we would let them set out their shoes, to be filled with small treats by St. Nicholas.

This tradition comes from Holland, I think. We enjoy many ideas from other lands even if they aren't part of our family ethnic background.

The following cookie recipe is also from Holland. (And is very easy to make!!!)

Jan Hagels

Deliciously Dutch

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg white
1 teaspoon water
8 ounces sliced almonds

Pre-heat oven to 325 F.
Beat together butter, sugar and egg yolk with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Stir in flour and cinnamon. Separate dough into 3 portions and spead thinly over 3 small baking sheets (or 2 larger ones).
Beat egg white and water in a small bowl until frothy. Spread over dough. Arrange the almonds in a mosaic pattern on top.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and slice into diamond shapes while hot.

Find more wonderful cookie recipes here.


I am also delighted that I have won a book from Mary Timme's Christmas book giveaway. The book is Debbie Macomber's "Where Angels Go". Thank-you, Mary!!!

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