Sunday, January 17, 2010


This is a picture of my dining room table.  My mom said it was one of her favorite centerpieces that I have done. 

These gold presents came from Pier One several years back and they are so versatile.  I simply lift the lid and can easily change out the color.  Many times I use napkins but I used pink tissue paper in these.  Not only are these a great centerpiece at Christmas, I have also used them for birthday parties. 

Now please notice that the center box no longer has the pink tissue paper in it and here is the reason why!!!

This guy did not stay on his tree.  Instead, he decided to take up residence in my gold box!  I was not very happy at all.  At first glance, I thought the shadows outside were casting a dark spot on my beautiful pink tissue paper.  However, when I passed by again, something did not look right.  On closer inspection and much to my horror, this monster head peered out at me.  Of course, I let out a blood curdling scream.  My dear husband was not home to rescue me, so I was on my own.  I shook the box, demanded he leave and even shook the table, but he never moved.  I decided he was dead so I poked at him with a knife, but he jumped, then scooted down into the tissue which caused me to scream again.  I left him alone for awhile but then decided to scare him with the vacuum cleaner.  I turned it on right beside the table but he only retreated further into the safety of the tissue. 

Several hours later, my dear husband arrived home and was not my Knight in Shining Armor.  Of course, he was tired and cold, but still.  He suggested that we leave him in the box as they eat bugs and went off to bed.  I didn't sleep well that night which means he did not sleep well.  I was worried that the visitor might decide our bed would be a safe haven from the vacuum cleaner.  The next morning, he was basking on top of the pink tissue paper - sunning himself in the morning light.  That was it.  I demanded he be taken outside and it better be immediately.  My husband didn't want to waste the pink tissue paper and thought that he should bring it back inside to be used again.  I made him put it in the outside garbage can, so rest easy all of my friends.  Should you receive a gift from me, it will not contain recycled lizard tissue paper! 

I got to thinking.  What if I had held a Ladies Christmas Lunch?  I shudder at the image of my visitor poking his head out of the delicate pink tissue paper inside my beautiful gold box.  He probably would have took one look at all of us and decided to run  across several of the ladies' plates.  I would have never lived that down!!!


Here is a recipe from 1875 called Mock Chicken Salad.  Obviously it does not contain chicken.  My question was, why not make Real Chicken Salad?  Well "mock" in cooking terms means to use a reliable substitute and upon further investigation, I discovered the reason a substitute was used for the chicken.  Mock chicken salads were made from cubes of roast pork, which were less expensive than chicken.  After all, chickens were a source of eggs for families.  In 1875, you just did not kill your chickens. 


4 cups coarsely chopped roast pork
1 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed green olives
1/2 cup mayo or boiled dressing
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

Combine pork, celery, bell pepper, olives, mayo, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours.  Store leftover salad in a covered container in the refrigerator.

OK, do you think that they had refrigerators in 1875? 

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Those of you who know me know that I am all about white and pastels. My husband claims that I will spray paint anything white and he is right. However, a strange occurrence happened this year. It started with this:

My new obsession with bronze!  You know how I am about those white pumpkins and yet, I fell in love with bronze this year and in a previous post, I told you all about how I made these pumpkins.  OK, so bronze is a "Fall Color" and I thought it would stop there.  I was wrong.  Look at this:

I found a large container of bronze Christmas ornaments for 50 % off at Hob Lob and poured them into my bronze square container.  The result was stunning. This is my kitchen table and since the top is made with hand painted sun flower tiles, it is hard to see that this does indeed match the kitchen area. The brown tones in the sunflowers, the wood trim around the tiles and  the kitchen chairs perfectly compliment this centerpiece.  The picture does not show it very well, but the bronze ornaments are different textures.  The glitter and jewel cut ornaments really catch the light and look so rich.  I got more compliments on this than I did on any of my other decorations.  Even my husband liked it, which is saying alot!

Pictures of my Snow Village.


Since we were away for Christmas, I decorated with a light hand this year.  Here are some highlights!

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Since it is the Christmas season, I thought I would post one of my fudge recipes.  This recipe was passed down from my Mom and probably came from the 1950 or 60's.  She got it off of the back of the Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels Bag.  With all of the fudge booths I see at Craft Fairs, I think old fashioned fudge is making a come back.

Toll House Famous Fudge

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup Carnation Evaporated Milk

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups miniature marshmallows

1 1/2 cups (9 oz.) Nestles Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

LINE 8-inch-square baking pan with foil.

COMBINE sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

STIR in marshmallows, morsels, nuts and vanilla extract. Stir vigorously for 1 minute or until marshmallows are melted. Pour into prepared baking pan; refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Lift from pan; remove foil. Cut into pieces.


SUBSTITUTE 1 3/4 cups (11.5-oz. pkg.) Nestles Milk Chocolate Morsels for Semi-Sweet Morsels.


It all started on a warm day.  My sweet husband went to Wally Mart and came back with this silver glitter Christmas Ornament.  He propped it in my kitchen window to remind me that we were going to have a white Christmas this year.  My first ever!  It was even more exciting because we would be spending it in Colorado with Jenny and Matt in their new home.  Each time I stood in front of my kitchen sink, this was my view.  I dreamed about all of the snow I would see in Colorado.  Well, guess what happened!

This did!  And this is not in Colorado.  No, this picture is my front yard and as you can see, the snow is really coming down.  It snowed for several hours.  Unbelievable!

I was standing on the road when I took this shot of our house.  Our roof is normally a medium brown, so note the amount of snow on that roof.

Who knew that this little sign would apply to our town this year.  I couldn't resist putting it in the snow and taking a picture.

Sonny arrived home just in time to take a picture with me holding my little LET IT SNOW sign.  As you can see, the snow is still falling!  I think I will put this out next year and see if it happens again.


In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought that I would pull one out from my childhood.  Any child of the 1950's should remember the good old green jello salad that was served by every school cafeteria for Thanksgiving and I think every other holiday also.  Remember the vegetables floating in it.  All together now - Eeeewwwwww!  So here it is, one of those recipes that needs to stay forgotten!

(or Icky Green Jello Salad)

1 (3 oz.) lime Jello

1 (3 oz.) lemon Jello

3 1/2 c. boiling water

1 tbsp. vinegar

4 tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

1/2 c. salad dressing

2 c. chopped cabbage

1/2 c. chopped celery

1/4 c. green pepper

1/2 c. grated carrot

2 tbsp. onion

Stir together Jello, boiling water, vinegar, sugar, and salt. When nearly congealed, add 1/2 cup salad dressing and beat until frothy. Add the vegetables, stir well, and mold.


I have had this plate for years and I decided that I would keep it out all of 2009 and change out the ribbon and sayings each month.  I am proud to say that I did it and really enjoyed it.  I attended the Nutcracker Market with my cousin Carol and there was a booth with all shapes and sizes of these plates.  However, they had added something new.  These cute ceramic shapes.  This pumpkin has a magnet glued on the back and you take another magnet and place it on the back of the large plate and presto - the pumpkin stays in place.  I also stole their idea of writing - We are Thankful for - on the pumpkin and then putting the names of family members that attended Thanksgiving Dinner.  OK, so Matt and Jenny were in Colorado having their first Thanksgiving away from the family, but I just couldn't leave them off.

Here's the Gang!

And here is too much food!  Hey, at least I got a picture of it.  However, I can't find my picture of the pies and they are my favorite part!


You know I can't help it.  I love to decorate my table. 

I normally decorate with white pumpkins, but this year, I fell in love with  bronze pumpkins.  You will note them scattered about on the table.  These pumpkins started their lives as ugly, bright orange pumpkins in a bag at Wally Mart.  They were very cheap but very ugly.  You know I love to spray paint so I bought a can of Metallic Bronze and sprayed away.  This was the result and I love them.  Of course, I have to have place cards.  These cute turkey ones were available from Martha Stewart's web site for free. 

The jeweled bronze candle holders with the diamond pendants are a new addition.  I got these at the Michael's half price sale and just love them.  An added bonus was that when I lit the candles, the light dancing against the bronze was beautiful and I wasn't expecting that.  A nice surprise!  I got lots of compliments and it made the tablescape feel  elegant.  That is quite a feat when you consider there were turkeys and pumpkins all over the table. 


Since my last post was about the Mission Trip to Romania, this week's Forgotten Recipe Friday will be my sweet husband's favorite Romanian dish, Sarmale in foi de varza dulce, or Sarmales (in a thick Texas drawl) as he calls them.  I have not had the privilege to try these, but he adores them. 

There is not much to buy in Romania, but I love books and Sonny has provided me and the grandkids with several books on Romanian culture complete with beautiful landscape photography.  We are not sure where they took the photographs in these books, as we have never seen these beautiful areas, but they are suppose to be in Romania somewhere!  This trip I requested a Romanian cookbook since cookbooks are one of my favorite books.  He actually managed to find one so the following recipe is from "100 Romanian Recipes, A tasty souvenir from Romania!"  Now you have to love the title of this cookbook.  Below is the recipe for Sarmales.  Anyone interested in helping me make these?

The English translation: Fresh Cabbage Meat Rolls

300 gr. pork
200 gr. beef
100 gr. rice
150 gr. fat
150 gr. onions
50 gr. tomato sauce
300 gr. tomatoes
ground pepper

Use blender to mince the meat together with part of the diced onions, previously half fried.  Add the rice (soaked in hot water), pepper and salt.  Mix well and roll small meat balls into fresh cabbage leaves that have been taken apart and soaked in hot water, borsch or preserved sauerkraut juice.  For a bitter taste, add tomato slices among the meat rolls layers.

Half fry the onions in fat, add tomato sauce and water.  Stir well.  Place some of it in the sauce on the bottom of a pot and then layers of meat rolls.  The first and last layer should always be sauce.  Cover with tomato slices, pepper grains and cinnabar, then boil for 3-4 hours at low heat.  Occasionally, rattle the pot to prevent from sticking and add hot water when necessary. 

Cover the pot and cook for another while in the heated oven, at low heat, when nearly ready take the lid off to get a nice crust.  Make sure that there is always enough water. 

Serve with sour cream and corn mush. 

OK, again, I have not had these but Sonny loves them so they must be good.  I really love the way that recipe is written.  I'm not sure how much was lost in translation, but how many American cook books tell you to rattle the pot?  Julia Child would have loved it!  


For many years, my husband has traveled to Romania  with several from our Church.  The US teachers teach classes, preach, and have one on one Bible studies at the seven Churches that have been established in Romania.  I know you are thinking, "Wow, he can speak Romanian!"  The answer is ""NO".  While my husband has a pretty good command of the English language and can speak a little Spanish, he and the other American teachers do not even attempt to teach or  preach in Romanian.  He as well as the other Americans are provided a translator and while it is a little tricky at first, trying to learn to pace your words so that the translator doesn't get too far behind or even ahead of you (which is scary), one adapts very quickly.  I have had the privilege to go on one trip with him and it is such a blessing to get to know these sweet people. 

The ladies at the Church in Pitesti meet each week to sew together.  They make quilts for the many in Romanians who face harsh winters with very little income.  Most of these ladies also have very limited incomes and are facing soaring prices on all goods available in Romania, but they have a true servant's heart.  I am very humbled by them.

Pitesti is a large city, but many of the other seven Churches are in the countryside.  It can be quite startling to adjust to having to use outdoor facilities instead of the nice Ladies' Rooms that we have in our Churches here in the US.  My mind goes back to one that had 4 walls, but no roof!  I guess if something had to be missing, I would rather it be the roof.  While the cities in Romania are not picturesque, the countryside can be quite beautiful and quaint. (Except for the above mentioned outdoor facilities!) 

Also, when you go to the Churches located in the villages, you get to meet sweet people like these.  This building use to be a bar.  From what I hear, the owner made a very good living selling the favorite Romanian wine.  When he became a Christian, he closed the bar and now Church services are held here each Sunday.  We are continually awed by his commitment to God.  I bet the devil didn't like that one bit!  All of these people walk to Worship Services.  Cars are definitely a luxury item.  As you can see by the way everyone is bundled up, it was a cold day and many walk long distances.  Yes, we continue to be humbled and learn so much from our brothers and sisters in Romania.