There's no place like home.

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

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Simple Woman's Day Book 25 August 2014

Outside my window...there isn't much sun but oh how glorious the temperatures! It is in the 60's and dryer than it has been for many a morning.  Today looks like a good day to hang my laundry on the line and bring that wonderful outdoor scent inside.

I am thankful children and grandchildren.  Over the weekend I talked to all but one of my children and all of my grand babies!  Technology is the greatest thing next to sliced bread (though I rarely eat bread sliced or otherwise).

I am thinking...about all there is to do in the next two weeks before we fly out to Tacoma.  My granddaughter learned to count to 17 since that was the number of days until she got to be with grandma.  I feel the same anticipation about seeing her, Kaycie, and her parents.

From the kitchen...there will be salmon salad made with the leftovers from Friday on a bed of lettuce with steamed broccoli and tomato slices.  

I am reading...the Master and Commander series.  It is a challenge since I am not at all familiar with nautical language.  But the author writes a good tale and I have to say I am enjoying it far better than the movie...go figure!

I am hearing...insects chirping in the trees, the soft sound of the poplar leaves as they fall to the ground, and the skittering noise of a mockingbird as it runs back and forth in the lawn.

One of my favorite things...learning new things.  Yesterday we took a drive into Oconee County and visited the first presbyterian church built in Pickens Courthouse.  This church has been there since the 1790's and truly was built to stand the test of time.  But the most moving and touching part of the experience was the cemetery that was there. It was full of graves that were relocated when the Keowee dam project was built.  Most of the stones merely had a family name on them. Others simply said "15 graves of the"  I felt compelled to say many prayers for these people who possibly remain unremembered.

A few plans for the rest of the week...complete all my wedding sewing, ship a package to Tacoma so I don't have to pack those items, clean a much neglected house, and get ready for my sister to come visit.

Here is a picture thought that I am sharing with you...
This phone booth was in a museum that we visited on Saturday.  It is so indicative of a lot of memories and history that the younger generation will never experience.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Dressing the girls for a wedding.

Savannah's dress for the wedding.

Kaycie's dress for the wedding.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

                                                         There is a place that calls to me
                                                    white sand, dappled shade and solitude.

                                                               This place is new to me
                                                                 a weekend discovery;
                                                     stumbled upon and known in an instant.

                                                                   Grace led me here
                                                         in answer to the cry of my heart.
                                                       A cry made in silence and intensity
                                                                  both inward groan
                                                                and outward scream.

                                                                  Though alone here
                                                                      never lonely.
                                                                  The silence wraps me,
                                                                    cradling my aches
                                                         and the yearnings of my empty heart.

                                                       The answers both elusive and at hand
                                                                    dwell in this spot.

Monday, August 18, 2014


There is nothing wrong with escape.  Taking time away from the usual, mundane, ordinary, is often necessary to help the soul and mind reset.  

Sometimes the only way to assimilate and evaluate the happenings of daily life is to step back, walk away, and get a better perspective.

Perspective helps the mind to realize that angle is everything.  Incidents and insults, delivered close up grow to mountainous proportions.

But when the soul and mind can step back, view the larger vista.  That is when truth is revealed and peace can be found.

Escaping, stepping back and letting peace wash over aids in being able to see the little surprises and blessings that are bestowed "just because."

It is the little "just becauses" that inspire a stop to pause. These little gifts are more than what is seen.  They are gifts that are heard and felt as well.

The Simple Woman's Day Book 18 August 2014

Outside my window...the rain is coming down in buckets! Every time that I have ever heard or used that phrase all I can picture is buckets falling from the sky and piling up on the ground.  The rain is piling up if not the buckets.

I am thinking...about family and how relationships change as your children grow older.

I am thankful for...the visit that we had with Ryan this past weekend.  It may seem stupid but I could sit and look at any of my children for hours on end. They don't have to be talking or doing anything profound. It is the fact of their existence that makes me so very happy.

From the kitchen....something will come forth. Right now I have no plan and no real desire to make one. 

I am reading...Father Alfred Delp's prison writings. I thought it appropriate since I too am incarcerated. 

I am hearing...the rain falling.  Even that is so different than back home that I can't help but notice the difference.  I recall when they put the steel roof on the farm house.  The first few times that it rained at night it sounded like rapid gunfire.  Now that I am gone I would happily settle for the sound of machine guns while I am sleeping.  The comfort of familiar sounds, smells, and sights cannot be over rated.

One of my favorite things...being in the woods.

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

Here is a picture thought that I am sharing with you...
If it weren't for this man in my life this difficult situation would be unbearable.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

More zucchini goodness

I couldn't find my carrot zucchini muffin recipe but I did find this one which is just as good.

Carrot and Zucchini Bars

2 eggs slightly beaten
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c canola oil
1/4 c honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c shredded carrot
1 c shredded zucchini
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, oil, honey, and vanilla.  Don't worry about clumps of the brown sugar, those will dissolve.  Then fold in the carrot, zucchini, and walnuts.

In another bowl combine the flour, powder, ginger, and soda. Whisk to blend together.

Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture. Stir just until combined. Spread batter into an ungreased, 13x9x2inch baking pan.

Bake about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.  It is suggested that these be frosted but my guys like them bare and they are certainly moist enough without.

Monday, August 11, 2014

My one and only recipe

I am not a great cook nor am I a consistent one.  My way of cooking things is to throw a little of this and a little of that and see what comes of it.  That is not to say that I don't use recipes. I just don't ordinarily follow recipes.  I have two whole shelves of cookbooks (what was left over when I weeded out before moving here).  Most of them I use as a framework for doing my own thing.  There is however a recipe that I follow, to the letter, and never have I varied from it.  The first time that I made this sauce I knew that it was made in heaven and there was really nothing I could do to improve it.

Mario Batali's Sausage, basil and Sun-dried tomatoes

Makes 4 servings
1/4 c etra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6 ounces sweet italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled
6 sun-dried tomato halves, thinly sliced
5 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 c dry white wine (I use Pinot Grigio)
12 fresh basil leaves

In a 10-12 inch saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add the garlic and cook until light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the sausage and sun-dried tomatoes and cook, stirring, until the sausage is cooked through, 7 to 8 minutes. Drain the fat from the pan, then stir in the tomato paste and wine and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Cook your pasta (tastes best over homemade) and drain. Add to the pan with the tomatoes. return to the heat, toss in the basil and stir gently for about 30 seconds.  Serve immediately.

The bright fresh taste of the basil with the intense flavor of the tomatoes is truly a match made in heaven.

The Simple Woman's Day Book 11 August 2014

Outside my is dark, gloomy and very misty. According to the weather people it isn't likely to improve any time soon.  While I am thrilled with the automatic watering of my gardens, the rain and damp shrink my world to the confines of this little house and that is not good. I was born to live in the great outdoors.

I am thinking...about the fact of my shrinking world.  How to remedy this situation. 

I am thankful for...a brother with a hot tub, nieces and nephews that are full of life, and a sister-in-law who is funny, lovely, and interesting.

From the kitchen...there will be some Mario Batali cooking going on today. This kind of weather always prompts the need for some good, hearty, and tasty Italian cooking.

I am reading...poetry. My mind and soul need some serious food.  Shakespeare's sonnets, a little bit of Shelley, and a lot of Donne are just the kind of diet that I have been craving.

I am hearing...the ice maker dumping its latest load of refreshing coldness, the whoosh and splash of rain falling against the window, and the general hum of a house becoming fully awake for another day.

One of my favorite spaces, stately trees, and the sight of mountains rising up from the horizon.

A few plans for the rest of the week...carry on with the life that I am currently leading.  Friday is a holy day of obligation so I must find a way to attend mass.  That hour will be an oasis in the midst of the rest of my week.

Here is a picture thought that I am sharing with you...
A happy moment on our abortive attempt to take a walk in the woods on Saturday.  My mother may not be able to remember her name but she still remembers that she hates the outdoors! So much for that trip.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Lazy is as lazy does.

I really like to cook. I like to eat and since I don't appear as if I have ever missed a meal I think my affinity toward food shows.  But I enjoy sewing even more and since there aren't a lot of people to cook for in my current situation too much cooking can be a bad I sew.

That being said my husband and mother still have to eat and my conscience won't let me be too neglectful of that duty so there is a lot of lazy cooking going on around here some days.  One day a week I will plan and prep as much as I can for the week's meals.  A new favorite here is what I call egg cups.

I don't remember where I got this idea or even what the original is supposed to be like because I have made so many modifications.

1 doz. eggs
ham (this can be leftover from another meal or deli slices) or it can be cooked bacon, pepperoni, or shredded up cooked chicken.
cooked potatoes leftover (again this can be leftover mashed, boiled or baked)
cheese of your choice

Either grease or line with silicone baking cups 2-12 count muffin tins. Preheat the oven to 350. In the bottom of the muffin cups place your meat, followed by the potatoes.  Beat the eggs and milk together until it is all uniform in color.  Pour egg and milk mixture over the meat and potatoes being careful not to over fill the cups.  Top with cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the egg is set and the cheese is melted. These are good both hot and cold.  I find I have a hard time keeping them around even now that my husband is the only one eating them.

This same idea can be done using crescent roll dough, tomato sauce, and cheese.  I line the cups with the dough, put sauce and the topping of choice in on top, and top with grated cheese.  Bake the same as for the egg cups.

Two easy make ahead meals or snacks that take only a few minutes but yield a great reward.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A change of pace.

I have gotten boring here and inside my head as well.  This morning I came to the conclusion that too much sewing makes Ann not only boring but stupid.  So my way of doing something about that is to spread the food love around.  Food is a drug that I often use incorrectly to soothe myself. (anyone who has seen me in person can tell that!) However used correctly food, or more accurately cooking, can be a means of self-expression.

Because I am here taking care of my mother, which is a full time job some days, and I spend a huge amount of time at my sewing machine, I tend to do a lot of prepping meals ahead and using the small appliances that my wonderful man has provided for me.  Not a week goes by that the slow cooker, rice steamer, griddle, and freezer come into play in my food prep. (yes folks the freezer!)  My husband like meals to be fuss free, filling, and easy for him to choose from and re-heat for himself.

Since I never know when Doug will be here after work, a sit down meal for all of us is out of the question.  Things like egg cups, pizza cups, pancakes, barbecue, quiche, and pasta dishes are options that he enjoys because they can be re-heated quickly whenever he gets home from work.

Hopefully I will try to chronicle some of my recipes for anyone who is in a similar situation.  I am now way an expert at anything, nor am I all that great a cook, but after 31 years of cooking for a farmer and a large family I have a few tricks up my sleeve that others might like to learn.

First and probably one his favorites is my crock pot corned beef.  Once it is ready it is great hot over biscuits or rice and makes some really good cold sandwiches the next day.

In a slow cooker mix together 2 cups katsup, 2 tbl. yellow mustard, 3 tbl. vinegar, and a generous handful of brown sugar.  Put 1/2 a beef brisket in and roll it around in the sauce ending up with it fat side up.  Turn on the cooker to low, cover and let cook for 4-6 hours.  30 minutes before serving drain and add a small can of sour kraut.  To serve take out the meat and shred it up.. Serve over biscuits or hot rice with slices of Swiss cheese.  A nice salad on the side makes for a fast and easy meal.

The next day the cold meat, cheese, and the sauce can be put over rye bread for a very messy and delicious open faced sandwich.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Loving family visit!

Saturday my brother, Tom, his wife, ReNee', and their daughters, Erin and Rachel came to visit.  I love these members of my family.  
Erin brought me this drawing she did of one of my favorite singing groups from the 70's.  She is quite a talent.

They brought these screens for the garage so I can leave the door open when I work and not have to swat at flies.

And most considerate of all, they brought me a gift from Bath&Body Works.

Beyond the gifts the day was spent in great conversation, lots of hugs, and plenty of laughs. Unfortunately, as it has been said before, all good things (this side of heaven) must come to an end.  We didn't say good-byes though, only till we meet again.

The Simple Woman's Day Book 4 August 2014

Outside my window...the sun is shining brightly, the birds are singing, and it is a cool 58 degrees. I am really thankful that God is sending this nice cool weather.  I feel quite at home here when the temps cool down and the humidity abates. 

I am colors, bright, vibrant hues of tangerine, gold, russet, and emerald.  Inside my head there is a kaleidoscope whirling around.  Everything that I look at is no longer its real color but rather the color that my mind assigns to it.  It is going to be difficult to stick to the chores at hand this week.  My brain is in creating mode which makes it hard to resist.

I am thankful for...the love of family.  We had a great visit from my brother, his wife and their two girls on Saturday.  It is heartening and humbling when you are loved enough to merit a 5 hour drive one way.  I love all of you guys.

From the kitchen...there had better be some cooking going on today.  The larder is bare!  

I am reading...nothing currently but hopefully my brother is going to lend me some books to read.  He recommends Master and Commander.  I am not a fan of the movie but I trust my brother's judgment when it comes to reading material.

I am hearing...morning sounds.  The sound of waking up from the birds that live around here.  The neighbors are beginning to emerge from their homes to head off to work and the amount of traffic on the highway has increased a great deal in the last half hour.

One of my favorite things...porches!  I love long, deep, welcoming porches.  I am of the opinion that every home, in order to be a home, should have a porch.  If that porch has a rocking chair on it all the better.  

A few plans for the rest of the week....I need to wrap up as many projects as I can this week.  Saturday I managed to get a bunch of commissions which will need my attention soon.  So this week is designated finish things up week.

Here is a picture thought that I am sharing with you...
A view of Ashtabula Plantation home.  We have taken to visiting historic places on a Sunday afternoon.  These gracious, old southern homes are my favorites.  We couldn't afford to tour the inside of the house but the grounds were beautiful, albeit not as extensive or as grand as they once were but still gave the feel of the vastness of of their size when they were in their heyday.