There's no place like home.

There's no place like home.
Home is where my husband and I reside; wherever that may be.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Creme de Menthe Cake

I have had a request for the recipe for the cake that I made for Sunday's party. This is a picture of all that is left (I don't think there is any trifle left at all).  Both desserts were gluten free so MK and I could enjoy our choice of sweet goodness.  (Yes, Jason, that's right they were GF and you couldn't even tell!)

This recipe is not mine originally but I sure know a good one when I steal it.

Preheat the oven to 350
Ingredients:  1 yellow cake mix (a GF mix if you wish it to be so)
1 sm. box pistachio pudding mix (this is already gluten free)
8 oz. sour cream
5 eggs
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. Creme de Menthe Liquor
1 bag mini chocolate chips

Put all the wet ingredients into a mixer bowl.  Pour the cake mix and the pudding mix in on top and mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes.  While that is mixing thoroughly grease a bundt pan.  I use a spray lubricant like Pam without the flour.  After 2 min. add the mini chocolate chips and beat only long enough to mix them in but avoid pulverizing them.

Spoon batter into the pan and bake for 55 minutes.

While the cake is baking you make the glaze for the top.  In the top of a double boiler put one bag Ghiradeli bittersweet morsels, 2 tbl. corn syrup, 2/3 stick of butter.  Heat the water but do not boil.  Heat until the chips melt completely and the butter is fully incorporated.

When the cake is done turn immediately out onto a cake plate and top with glaze.  This cake is great served warm but is also delicious after it has cooled.

Branching out in the kitchen

     Last week I got a text from my daughter-in-law that she and my son would be home on Sunday.  Being the kind of mother that I am my next text was not simply a "Yippee, I can't wait" kind of answer but rather it went something like this, "What would you like me to fix for supper?"
     After a few minutes of back and forth this is the menu that we came up with:
Steak and Chicken Fajitas
Raspberry Trifle
Creme de Menthe Cake

     It didn't matter that I had no clue how to make Fajitas, if that is what they wanted that is what I was going to fix.  Off to the computer I went and what follows is the recipe that I settled on.  The marinade is out of this world!  I used it for both the chicken and the steak.  I actually prepared it the day before and marinated them both over night.  Since we grow our own beef I was not confined to skirt steak but rather I got out a couple of top round steaks which also made for some superior eating.

     Fajitas and desserts weren't all that were served, not in this place.  We also had white and brown rice, chopped fresh tomatoes and lettuce, steamed summer squash and fresh cucumbers with basil.  There is nothing as satisfying as preparing a meal for family and friends and seeing little in the way of leftovers when all is said and done.

Steak Fajitas Recipe

  • Prep time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes


  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lb of flank steak, skirt steak or carne asada
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced with the grain, not against the grain as one would normally slice an onion. Slice first in half, and then slice off sections a half inch wide at widest point.
  • 2-3 bell peppers of various colors, stemmed, seeded, de-ribbed, sliced lengthwise into strips
  • Salt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 fresh Jalapeño pepper, seeded, ribs removed, finely chopped (be careful not to touch your eyes or anywhere near your eyes after handling a Jalapeño pepper!)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, including stems


1 Mix all marinade ingredients. Coat the steak with the marinade and let it sit at room temperature for an hour, or longer in the fridge. Before you cook the meat, wipe off most of the marinade and sprinkle the steak with salt.
2 Set a large cast iron pan or griddle over high heat and let this heat up for 1-2 minutes. Add the tablespoon of oil to the pan and let this heat up for 1 minute. Add the steak, frying on each side for 3 minutes, or to desired doneness. 3 minutes per side will yield approximately medium rare doneness for an average cut of flank steak. Carne asada and skirt steak will need less time. If the pan starts to smoke too much, reduce the heat to medium-high. You want the steak browned, not burned. Remove from pan and let sit, tented with foil, for 5 minutes.
3 Cook the vegetables while the meat is resting. Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary, then add the onions and bell peppers. Let these sear for 1 minute before stirring, then stir every 90 seconds or so as the veggies sear. Cook for 5-6 minutes total.
4 Slice the meat against the grain into thin slices. If you slice the meat at an angle, you will be able to get your slices pretty thin. These cuts of steak are flavorful but can be a little tough, so thin slices will really help make it easier to eat.
5 Serve immediately with shredded cheese, salsa, shredded iceberg lettuce, sour cream, guacamole and warm flour tortillas. (Hint for warming tortillas - put in microwave over a paper towel for 20 seconds on high heat.)
Yield: Serves 4.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Simple Woman's Daybook 26 August 2013

Outside my window...the sun and clouds are battling it out for supremacy.  I fear the clouds may win.  After the past two nearly perfect days I know that we would eventually have to suffer a few less than perfect days weather-wise.  I like to think that the memory of the beauty of the days past will help the coming days pass.

I am thinking....about the pile of work that is needing my attention.  It seems that each time I turn my back it grows taller.  I tell everyone that if I wasn't busy I would be in trouble so thank God for a growing work load.

I am thankful for...dear friends and lots of family.

From the kitchen...there are heaps of leftovers from the party yesterday.

I am wearing...jeans and a purple tee shirt.

I am creating...a pile of finished work that will, hopefully, exceed the to do pile.

I am going...nowhere for the next couple of days.  MK needs the car tomorrow and I have nothing pressing until Thursday.

I am reading...Dean Koontz's Intensity

I am hoping...for sunshine and dry weather so that Ian can get the rest of his hay.

I am hearing...Layn coughing in the kitchen, Melissa fixing lunch for Ian and herself, and MK packing various parts of my sewing room away into boxes.

Around the house...there is disorder and chaos.

One of my favorite things...watching the children change and grow with every passing day.

A few plans for the rest of the week...making a large dent in the stack of to do's while maintaining the high level of quality that my customers have come to expect.

Here is a picture thought that I am sharing with you...

We had a party yesterday and a friend too this pic of Layn and I.  I love the smile on his face.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Some kind of yummy coming out of this kitchen today.

I have no idea what these are really called and I don't even remember where I found the recipe but my gratitude goes out to the originator!  The only tweaking that I did was to remove the cinnamon due to an allergy and substitute dried currents for the blueberries in the second batch.  Dried blue berries are too expensive to use all the time while I can get about six times the currents for the same amount of money.
I double the recipe and bake it in a rectangular cake pan.  After it is cool I cut it into squares and wrap each square in plastic wrap and freeze.  There is just enough sweetness to satisfy a craving for sugar along with a lot of fiber (for those of us oldsters who have fiber needs) and all those other good things like Omega3's.

1-1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup chopped raw almonds
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (I leave out the cinnamon due to allergy)
1-1/4 cups milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
1 egg, whisked
1 teaspoon vanilla

1.        Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together oats, almonds, blueberries, flax seeds, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add milk, egg, and vanilla then stir to combine. Pour mixture into a nonstick-sprayed 8×8 baking dish then bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes our clean. Cool completely then cut into bars/triangles and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, or individually wrap in saran wrap and freeze. Microwave to reheat.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Simple Woman's Daybook 19 August 2013

Outside my window...I am sitting and enjoying this perfect late summer weather.  These cool mornings and warm afternoons are typical for New York State at this time of year.  Days like this frustrate the farmers.  When the dew glistens heavily on the fields until nearly noon they all begin to wish that it had been possible to get all the hay in earlier in the season and that the grains were ripe and ready for the combine.  

I am thinking...about changes, comings and goings.  The mother of some dear friends died yesterday morning. Though this even has long been anticipated there really is no way to prepare adequately for it.  I am consoled by the deep faith of the family as they enter into their journey of grief and adjustment.

I am thankful for...loving and generous extended family who are doing their best to make the next change in my life easier and more pleasant.

From the kitchen...I was thinking of something like a veggie based pizza or quiche. Time will tell though.

I am wearing...shorts and a tee shirt with Eeyore on it. Layn and I are home alone today so I have declared it a good day to be sloppy and comfortable.

I am creating...a large box of necessaries for the new baby soon to be born.

I am stay home, to enjoy every second of my time here, to revel in the sights, smells and textures of this place that I call home.

I am reading...nothing currently.  I have finished a whole stack of library books and need to check out another bunch.

I am hoping...along those very lines that the library website is up and running today so I can search for something to read.

I am hearing...MK's roosters crowing across the road, strains of Straight No Chaser singing in the house, and off in the distance I can hear a train passing through Oneida.

Around the house...everything is peaceful, neat and clean.  Layn and I got all the house work done early and then got out of there so it would stay that way.  He's playing here on the porch and very content to stay that way for the morning.  After I finish online I plan on moving the sewing machine out and finishing those diapers that I started Friday.

One of my favorite things...having the place to myself every once in awhile.

A few plans for the rest of the week...I have to get back to Christopher's baptismal finery, I have baptismal stoles to make, quilts to quilt, and my sanity to maintain.

Here is a picture thought that I am sharing with you...
                                                Layn was doing push-ups.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The depth and beauty of symbolism

Today I worked on the Christening bonnet for the grandson who will be born soon, little Christopher.  Being born into the Catholic Church and becoming a child of God is no small thing and must be done with all due pomp and circumstance.  Because of that his outfit for the day is being made with all the love, care and prayers that his grandmother can put into it.  
Those things will not be visible though.  Outwardly it will be adorned with symbols of a faith that is ever ancient and ever new.

The Chi-Rho is a Christogram that the Church has used since her early days.  It is comprised of the first two letters of the name of Christ written in the Greek alphabet.

This ancient symbol of Our Risen Lord and Savior rightfully takes pride of place on the back of Christopher's bonnet where all will be able to see.  Even at such a young age he is being proclaimed a servant of the Son of God.

Then there is the cross.  No matter what form it takes, whether it is simple or ornate, it is the sign of our solidarity with Christ.  Without taking up his cross and carrying it Christopher will not be able to follow the Son of God into the realm of glory.

These and many others are the signs of the faith into which my little grandson will be born through the waters of Baptism.  These signs and many others will be what educate him throughout his life in how he must walk so that he can follow the path to salvation.

Making memories of the best kind

Imported Irish linen, laces, ribbons, trims, and plenty of spray starch are the order of the day today.  My grandson is due in about 2 months and this grandmother had better get cracking on the finery that he will wear when he becomes a child of God.

Not that I haven't been thinking of nothing else since it was announced that there would be a new life in this family way back in January!   There is nothing to top the day that a child is welcomed into the family of God and an appropriate wardrobe is the order of the day.

So the embroidery machine has been humming (as I write this post).  
Pattern pieces have been pinned and cut and soon grandma will sit down and begin the task of lovingly assembling Christopher's finery for that all important day.  Not only will his clothing be held together with stitches, buttons and ribbons but also with prayers.  Every stitch will be accompanied by a fervent prayer that this little boy will grow to know, love and serve the God who made him and brought him into this world.

Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Grandpa is really slipping up

Over the past 30 years I can honestly say that I have encountered enough unusual things in my laundry that not much would surprise me.  Today's offering wasn't surprising in its content but rather in whose pocket they originated.  
I have washed and dried snakes, frogs, insects, nuts, bolts, wires, screws, nails, stones, pieces of glass, leaves, flowers, and other sundry findings that husbands and kids put into their pockets.  Apparently grandpa put Layn's wrench and plastic screw into his pocket and neglected to take it out of his pocket before his pants went into the laundry.  I really must remember to ask if they were playing of if he was using them for some reason.
Got to love a man who would do something like this.


I have a neighbor, but who doesn't.  This neighbor is unique though.  She is a woman who sees the good in everyone and everything. I have never heard anything but positive and encouraging words out of her.  She gives and gives without any thought about getting in return.
She recently expressed a desire to learn how to make a pie.  To me that was nothing special and so I told her I would be happy to teach her.  Little did I know that while I was supposed to be teaching her how to make a pie I would actually become the student.
While I recited the recipe S. measured and mixed the ingredients.  Then I demonstrated how to roll out the crust.  As I watched how she tentatively performed a task that I had done so many times it suddenly occurred to me that this everyday task wasn't so simple for everyone.
As S. asked her questions trying hard to cement the method in her mind I realized that not only was I helping her to make a pie but also to fulfill a need inside of herself.  Something that I so took for granted was not a nothing to this dear woman. This day at this time it was an everything.

As that pie sat there on the table, ready to be put into the oven, the thrilled look on her face and the wonder in her voice were not something simply to express her accomplishment at what she had done but also at a step toward what she would become.  I too have become more because of this woman.  I have learned the value of what I know and what I can do.  I am learning to slow down and appreciate the accomplishment a pie crust truly is.

Elementary Education

When we decided to home school I was of the typical mindset that education meant sitting at a desk and working at workbooks and worksheets.  After 20 some years of educating my children, reading about education, and going back to school myself my ideas have evolved a great deal.
I have come to believe that ever second of our lives is an opportunity for learning if we only make a conscious effort to realize what may be learned.  With that philosophy in mind Layn and I began formally engineering his seconds into learning opportunities.  

This little gem is something that I ordered from a former occupational therapist.  Like any little boy Layn immediately took to the two pegs that involved screwing the shapes on and off.  But after some coaching he soon got the hang of how to take the shapes off the pegs.  He even came up with a unique way to put them back on again.  For the time being I think our focus will be learning to stay on task, finishing one peg before moving onto the next one.

Later we took out the box with Mr. Potato head and his parts.  I discovered that just because Layn could identify the parts of his face didn't mean he could translate those parts onto another being.  We had fun putting Mr. Potato Head's face together in the right configuration.  This will be one that we will be coming back to over and over again because it was so much fun.

This activity doesn't seem to have any educational purpose on first sight but the fun that we all had is certainly good for both Layn and all the grown-ups around him.  I found it on Pinterest and boy will we be doing this over and over.  MK took all his little creatures out of his toy box and I froze them into a big hunk of ice.  

Grandpa turned it out of the container, his daddy gave him a screwdriver and a hammer and Layn went to town "excavating" for dinosaurs.

He spent the better part of two hours hammering and chipping away at that block of ice in order to free those plastic critters from their icy prison.  Plenty of cheering and encouragement went into his efforts and in the end Layn was one very proud boy when he gave "Marya" his container full of freed creatures.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Simple Woman's Daybook 12 August 2013

This week's daybook entry is going to be a pictorial entry since my words are all a bit slow today.

 Outside my window...

I am thinking...about Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin

I an thankful for...chickens and avocados

From the kitchen...

I am wearing...

I am creating...

I am going...

I am reading....

I am hoping...

I am hearing...

Around the house...

One of my favorite things...

A few plans for the rest of the week...

Here is a picture thought that I am sharing with you...

I love this man beyond everything and everyone in this world. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Simple Woman's Daybook 4 August 2013

Outside my is dark and a light rain is falling.  I can hear the sound of the raindrops tapping on the window in Layn's playroom and the wind chimes on the porch swaying gently in the breeze that blows across it.

I an thinking...about sleeping.  There are nights when no matter what I do or what I desire sleep is not going to happen.

I am thankful...for the man that I consented to marry so many years ago.

From the kitchen...there is not a thing out of place.  The air feels and smells like readiness and peace.  Thanks to my daughter and daughter in law today's supper was a success and tomorrow's is all ready for us to enjoy.

I am wearing...a dark blue nightshirt and blue boxers.  Sleep may be elusive but I am sure dressed for it if it should come.

I am spend Monday in a state of peace and thankfulness.  

I am thoroughly clean my bedroom since it is much cooler out now and the job calls out to me.

I am reading...a mystery novel just for a break from more serious reading.

I am hoping...that the pain I experienced today will add to my salvation and not to take away from it.

I am hearing...the clock on the wall ticking in time with the rain on the windows.

Around the house...the peace and silence of night has wrapped its arms around my family.  The sounds that the house makes in its sleep are a lullaby that soothes all of us into dreamland.

One of my favorite things...watching Layn and his little friend playing together and learning how to be friends.

A few plans for the rest of the week...God, family, and giving love to all that need it from me.

Here is a picture thought that I am sharing with you...
Mary-Kate on the trampoline with our neighbor's grandson.