Fresh Baked Buttermilk Bread for Lunch

It smells as good as it looks!
Emily and Kate my Granddaughters are coming for lunch today and to help me with a couple of big projects.  I just put a different bed skirt on one of the guest beds and putting the mattress down will be a lot easier with additional hands on deck.  I also want to try to position some of the largest lighted village pieces atop the Hoosier Cabinet as they are too deep to fit on the mantle and there are way too many to fit there.  It will be easier to have help handing up rather than all of the up and down climbing!

They both love home made bread.  So this morning I dusted out the bread machine and set it on the dough cycle so I could continue my cleaning and straighten plans.

The dough is beautiful and I am confident the BL T's or PB J's or grilled cheese or hot dogs, which ever they choose will be all the better with fresh baked bread.

This recipe comes from the manufacturer of my original bread maker,  Toastmaster Corner Bakery Cook Book.  (Yes, I have done some adapting.) All of their bread recipes I have found to be especially good.  I haven't used the bread machine a lot so far this summer.  I love to use it in the dough cycle on busy days then bake a round or oval loaf on a baking stone after removing it from the mixing pan and letting it rise.  My new machine is a Zojirushi and does a great job too.  I just prefer not baking in the machine some days.

Ingredients for Buttermilk Bread,  2 pound loaf mixed in the bread machine:

1 1/2 C. buttermilk heated to 80 degrees F
1/4 C. olive oil
1/4 C. sugar
2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. baking soda
4 1/2 C. bread flour (I like King Arthur Organic.)
1 3/4 t. instant yeast

Place all of the ingredients into the pan of the bread machine in the order given but make a shallow trench atop the flour the length of the pan with a teaspoon for the yeast.  Then sprinkle the yeast into the trench.  Be mindful to keep the yeast dry at this point.

Set the bread machine on the dough cycle.  On my machine it runs about a hour and a half.  When it has completed the cycle remove to a floured board and shape into the desired loaf.

Place the loaf on a baking stone and cover.  Let rise until doubled.  Usually 1 1/2- 2 hours.  Bake in a hot oven, 400 degrees F. for 30-40 minutes until golden.  Coll before slicing.

It is hard to beat a BLT in the summer time.
The girls were a big help to me today and we made short work of what would have taken me all day to do.  The Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato sandwiches on freshly baked bread made a great lunch and of course I gave them the half of a loaf that was left from lunch to take home.  


Coordinating Denium Border Print Fabrics and Trims for the Next Gift Tote

This looks like a great border print to use for a little girl.
This "Saucy Lass" will be setting the pace for the next gift bag I am making.  I found this piece of dark blue denim border print amongst my treasure of fabrics.  Actually I was able to tear into 4 equal widths so there will be enough to repeat or make a pillow or something another day.

This light weight cotton in blue with white and red will make a perfect lining and after I tore an appropriate width it was deep enough to tear off about an inch and get both pieces for the inside of the bag.  My dilemma is the strapping material.  I love the "cute" effect of the woven hearts but thinking about the strength and longevity of it.

The hearts add a sweetness to this combination.
In the past I have sewn 2 pieces of trim, ribbon, or such exactly together to double the strength to use for strapping and I may need to do that here.

It is late in the day but I have started.  More tomorrow.

Hummingbirds, My Recipe for Their Nectar, My Quest To Snap a Great Hummingbird Photo

We plant red flowers back here to attract the hummingbirds in the deep shade.  We feed the fish in the pond too and sometimes we get a frog or tadpole.

My next door neighbor recently shared with me that she has a "bucket list".  I don't.  I have wondered why?  Am I so dull, so little imagination, so lackluster?  Maybe, or maybe not......But then I did think of something.  I really would like to snap a great photo of a hummingbird.

Last winter I was thrilled when I got a great picture of a Pileated  Woodpecker just outside my living room window.  But that is a much larger target!

We do not add any food color to the nectar.
Upon deciding to undertake this quest I got busy.  Last week and refreshed 2 of the feeders with fresh nectar I had previously made up and refrigerated.  Today I plan to refresh the third feeder and move it from the front yard to the back as we are seeing so many more there.  One feeder is properly an Oriole feeder but the hummers don't seem to care and frequent it readily.

I think it might increase my odds of getting the great photo I aspire to.

I just finished making the nectar and as it cools I thought of sharing the recipe with you in the event some of you don't already have it.  It is very easy.  4 parts water to 1 part sugar, plain granulated sugar.

Ingredients for Hummingbird Nectar:

4 C. water
1 C. granulated sugar

Bring the water to a boil in a clean pan.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.  Turn off the heat.  Cover and let come to room temperature.

The big take away here is this should result in the same ratio found in nature so do not use anything else as a sweetener and so not cook longer or let evaporate as it will alter the simplicity and correctness of the formula.  The 2 minute boil of the water should remove any ammonia or other additive.

I like to keep red flowers in the back, tubular is always good to attract hummingbirds.  My dearest friend Diane and I planted red Azaleas all across the back years ago and they are beautiful in the early spring.  The hummingbirds start then and I hang their feeders when they bloom.

Sometimes I plant deep pink nicotine (a blooming tobacco with a tube type flower).  I always have red begonias and inpatients as they do so well in the deep shade we have.

We get but one variety normally, the Ruby Throated Hummingbird.   Generally it is the only hummingbird east of the Great Plains except the Rufous which is rare in the fall in some Gulf and South Atlantic states.

I have several bird books but treasure my Golden Guide to Birds of North America which is tattered and dog eared with age and use.  But I like it, 


The "Little Baby Bear Bag" is just too cute for words! And here is how to make, a TUTORIAL.

"Little Baby Bear Bag" is looking for a new home now that I have him finished.
I love this fabric!  I would go buy more if I could find it.  It is so sweet!  Gosh I am having such a good time!!  Me and my sewing machine are just having the time of our lives here!   And cute, cute, cute, is this fabric and this "Little Baby Bear Bag" as I have aptly named it!

I think he may be looking for a baby boy??
I have taken a remnant of a baby bear fleece and thought it just enough for an extra tote bag for baby.  You know you can never ever get everything into one bag!  At least I never could.  Or it is great for display or just to keep "stuff" in....

This is just plain good fun!
I did make a special trip last Friday for red strapping.  I thought the contrast would be perfect as was the red cotton with tiny white hearts I picked as the lining material.

First thing is always to wash all of the fabric you are planning to use and then dry and press.  (Of course don't wash if it is a "dry clean only" fabric.)   This takes care of shrinkage, and rids the fabric of any finishing chemicals.  I had done this last week in preparation.

I used all of a remnant I had but the dimensions are up to you they can be however large you like.  It is the rules to go by I an happy to share.  This piece was about 26" x 36" and the main thing is to determine how you want the pattern to run.

The other big thing in my book is to be able to make something that will hold up and last.  The first bag I ever made was 34 years ago for my sister when she was expecting her first child.  The key to their holding up I believe is how you apply the handles or straps.  Linda is still using her bag and it shows little wear or age.

Notice the only seam I have sewn is to join the bottom of the bag.
The first example I will use is the way I laid out the fabric and the straps.   Cut 2 pieces of the fabric you have chosen for the exterior of the bag.  Since I have bears and the pattern has an obvious top and bottom I place the right sides of the fabric together facing each other with both tops up and bottom of the pattern at what will be the bottom of the bag facing each other.   Sew a 5/8" seam across the bottom and press it open, clipping any excess threads.   Above you will note the seam is at the center of the fabric running left to right in the center and I have laid it right side up.  Next I pin the strapping 3" from the raw outside edge.  I USE ONE CONTINUOUS PIECE OF MATERIAL FOR THE STRAPPING.   I leave 24 " between where the strap comes up and then goes back down to from each handle.  Generally I start the end of the strap towards the bottom of the bag and I overlap 1 1/2"-2" when I come to the end.  Always backstitch and always trim the extra threads.

Here you can see the seam that formed the bottom of the bag as well as the straps as I have pinned then to sew..
You can use gross grain ribbon or other decorative woven strapping for this.  Edge stitch all of the way around both sides of the strap material and stop 1" BELOW the top edge of the bag.

Do NOT sew it all of the way flush to the top edge of the bag.  You will just sew across the strap and start back down until each side has been done.

Next with the right sides of the bag facing each other and the straps pulled out of the line of stitching sew the sides of the bag together with a 1/2 " seam back stitching and trimming the threads.

Sew across the corner and back stitch to form a box bottom.
If you would like you may leave the bag flat as it is or if you prefer a box corner pinch the corner the opposite direction and stitch across the corner as pictured above.  If you box this corner you will need to also box the lining.  Set aside for now.

The little white hearts are facing each other with the pattern right side up.
Place the right sides together facing each other and the top of the pattern up top with the lining fabric and sew the bottom seam as you did for the bag's exterior.  Sew the side seams together and press the seams open and clip the threads.  Always back stitch your sewing.

Sew across the corner.
Clip off 1/4" above the line of stitching on both the lining and the bag.

Form the box corners and sew.  Next trim across 1/4" from your line of stitching on the lining and on the bag.

Press the raw top edge of the lining under 1/4" all of the way around and then edge stitch.  If you have cut the bag and the lining material exactly the same size and sewn the seams all the same size the next part will be perfect.

With the RIGHT side of the lining turned inside so you are looking down into it place the lining down inside of the bag.  You will have the two edges at the top.  Fold the outside edge of the bag under 1/4" and pin it against the finished edge of the lining you edge stitched under earlier.  Ease any fullness evenly and pin securely.

All done!
Top stitch the edges together 1/8" from the top edge to finish the bag.  Sit back and smile!

I think a couple of those cute reversible baby bibs tucked into this bag will make a lovely gift.  And it was made in Newburgh, Indiana, USA.


So Easy and Delicious Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

These are so good you will not want to stop with just one!  I tasted while still slightly warm and oh my gosh!  So so delicious.
This is a recipe I adapted from one given on TV by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman.  I have always loved oatmeal and these bars could certainly be made using any jam you like.  I am seriously considering orange marmalade in my next batch!  These strawberry bars were made after thawing a jar of my homemade Strawberry Freezer Jam and I assure you this will not be the last batch!  These are seriously easy and seriously delicious!

Seriously delicious just might be an understatement!
Ingredients for Strawberry Oatmeal Bars:

2 sticks cold butter, reserve 2 tablespoons for dotting the top and cut the other 1 3/4 sticks into dice size chunks
1 1/2 C. flour
1 1/2 C. oats plus 2 T. oats, reserved for final topping (I prefer old fashioned but quick will work as well.)
1 C. brown sugar packed
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
12 ounces strawberry jam (Or whatever flavor of jam you prefer.)

Butter and flour a 9" x 13" baking dish and set side.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine in the bowl of the food processor the flour, 1 1/2 C. oats, 1 3/4 sticks diced butter, packed brown sugar, baking powder, and salt.   Pulse several times until meal like.

Dump 1/2 of the oat and flour into the prepared pan and pat down with a rubber spatula or the bottom of a small measuring cup.  Spread the jam evenly all across the bottom crust.  Top with the remaining meal like oat and flour mixture and pat it evenly and lightly until you cover the jam.

Sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 T. of oats and dot with small pieces of the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.  Bake for 35-40 minutes until lightly browned.  Cool completely and cut into bars.

Yield 24 bar cookies.


Repairing Patchwork Coverlet with Vintage Doilies, Project Completed.

You can see the ribbon I used in earlier repairs and the two doilies I have pinned tonight for tomorrows stitching.
I am loving all these wonderful shapes!  It really does make covering the damage interesting.
Mother made several patchwork coverlets out of Dad's clothing and Grandma's "house dresses" as they were called back in the day.  After being used and laundered they have come loose in places and some of the fabric has just given way.  She machine pieced the squares and perhaps some of the seams have just plain pulled away.

This looks good centered over the corners of 4 squares.
This whole square has become frayed and the tight stitches of this will reinforce greatly.
I must admit to liking the unintended creativity of this application.
Twice I have repaired and reworked this patchwork using gross grain ribbon once and lace another time to cover and repair.  I had been pondering the next step when first I saw in several instances on Pinterest doilies worked into quilt designs.  Now doilies have appeared in two deliveries for my further adventures in "stitching".

Some of these just look like snowflakes!
And some people think it coincidence?  Not I!  At any rate it is now almost 11:00 PM. and this is all laid out on my dinning room table and pinned together for me to sew tomorrow.  So we shall see then how this all works out.

SUNDAY NOON;  All done.....

I found another bad place just above the Dolie at the right and used a woven cotton lace to repair.
I like this piece too with the scallop at the right.
UPDATE NOON SUNDAY;  I have been anxious to finish this little project.  I am tickled about it because it is an unusual thing to do and I really like the idea of it all.  So here are a couple of the finished pictures.  Brian held it up for me to show it is completed.  Very easy sewing, they just went right on without a hitch!

Actually I have another pieced coverlet that is very similar to this one she made in reds and blues.  I mended if previously by using embroidery stitches to anchor the repairs.  I am excited about some small red doilies that may go nicely on that one some time in the future.  Always more projects swirling about in my head!


Vintage Textile Treasures, Doilies.

There are around 50 doilies on the table in assorted sizes, colors, and designs.  The stack at the lower right is 14 of the smallest, ideal for working into a quilt pattern or to mend with.
Inside the boxes from Grandma Powell that I brought in today and got unpacked there were what we called doilies.  (I don't know if younger people speak of them now or know the term.)  Many times these were made by had crocheting them yourself to adorn the tops of tables, arms and backs of chairs or sofas.  The tops of consoles and pianos as well as across the tops of vanities and dressers.  If you didn't crochet likely someone in your family or circle of friends and family did.

I especially admire the delicate color and design of this one.
Of course they could be purchased too.  Fancy work was done on many with additional colors, ruffles, or fruits like clusters of grapes or green leaves were worked into patterns.  I was always fascinated by these items.  I never learned to crochet although my own Mother is quite a master at it even having made little dresses for me as a child.

This deep purple edge is surely striking!
Some of these are also hand embroidered pieces with lace trims. Again in a variety of sizes.  I always wonder about the person who made all of these items.  What they had on their minds at the time they sat and did these, now many of these discolored with age?

I love the plain ones too!
This is folded in half but you get the idea!
At any rate I have seen them being worked into quilted items of late and have thought this a handy idea to keep to mend over damaged sections of a quilt or in the design of one being made.  So I am so very pleased and grateful to have been given these having known they belonged to Margaret,  Martha Jean's beloved sister.  (Grandma Powell is Martha Jean.)

I will treasure them and use them well.


First tomato of the season picked this morning! And, updated photos of transpalnted Dogwood tree.

It is a medium sized lovely red and ripe tomato, the first we have picked this season.
I always get excited about the first tomato of the season!   And today was the day!  Plus there is another one from the same bush ripening.  We probably will have 3 bell peppers big enough for stuffed peppers next week too.  Boy it just doesn't take much to make me happy does it?

Volunteer Dogwood transplanted on 3/15/13, today at noon facing to the south.
Volunteer dogwood transplanted 3/16/13, today at noon facing to the north.
I also took a snapshot or two of the dogwood tree we transplanted from a volunteer from another place in our wooded yard as a result of a comment from that posting.  The tree is doing just fine!

If you are interested in successfully transplanting dogwoods here is a link to how we do it

I am very happy because I had called our county agent about this little tree as it looked like deer had rubbed it to the point of damage.  He told me if it made it past June we were home free and here it is.  Perfection.  We have never lost one we have transplanted this way except when broken by a big wind storm.


1-2-3 Crock Pot Beef

1 pkg. Italian dressing mix, 1 pkg. Ranch mix, and 1 pkg. brown gravy mix plus 1 cup of water atop a beef roast and into your slow cooker for about 8 hours on low, then dinner is ready.
After a trip to visit my son, grandsons, and family in Fishers, Indiana, north of Indianapolis.  About a 4 hour drive north from here I am back playing catch up.  We celebrated Sheree's birthday and visited with her family and many more family members on Saturday afternoon.  Mother, Linda's family and Gary's family were there and it was a great day. This trip Brian stayed home so there is lots of catching up to do as I was gone 5 days.  I also stopped and saw my brother Gary and Grandma Powell on my way home so there is a SUV to be unloaded from Grandma with more unknown and unanticipated treasures!

This morning I got a load of uncut fabric into the washer as I hope to get some sewing going and as I am a bit down in the back I put on a crock pot dinner to simmer just now.  This recipe has a bit of traction in our family.  I think our son Chris first fixed it than my sis Linda.  I liked it a lot and today after such rave reviews I have put it into my pot and turned it on low to lazily simmer the day away.  I am told it can be served either of 2 ways.  The first is pulled apart and served as a sandwich on toasted rolls, with or with out cheese and condiments.  The second is to add carrots and potatoes about 1 1/2 hours before serving and serve as a meal with the veggies on the side.  I am fixing a cauliflower gratin on the side with mine either way it winds up being done.  I will decide that part later.  Here is the recipe.

It sort of just sits there when you start it but gets succulent as the hours click by.  That is the beauty of forgetting about it and slow cooker meals!
Ingredients for 1-2-3 Crock Pot Beef:

1 beef roast  (I use chuck, choice grade, 3-4 pounds)
1 pkg, Italian salad dressing mix, any kind will do here
1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix, any variety will due
1 pkg. brown gravy mix, any brand
1 Cup water

Place the roast in the bottom of the slow cooker and sprinkle the 3 packages atop.  Pour the cup of water over all and turn onto low for 8 hours or so.  We cook it and shred to serve on toasted rolls as sandwiches but you can also add vegetables 1-2 hours before serving and serve as a roast with sides.

This is great dish and just gets better the next day you serve, a lot like chili or vegetable soup does!

Yield 6-8 servings.

I am posting this early as I am confident in the recipe and will follow up this evening or in the morning with finished pictures and comments.  Who knows I may get the car unloaded too!

Would you believe Brian surprised me by coming home last night from an out of town trip with a PIZZA in hand??  Easy and fun surprise.  Just turned off the pot and will save for Thursday!  Also had put together a Cauliflower Gratin so I covered it with plastic wrap and stashed it in the refrigerator also done and ready for Thursday.

Ingredients for Cauliflower Gratin:

The big dome lid has an open and closed setting to release steam if needed be.
Nice big rack holds the cauliflower and it steamed perfectly.

I used the steamer from Grandma Powell and it worked beautifully for the cauliflower.  Here is how I made this dish, yet to be served.

1 head cauliflower steamed or blanched and drained well, broken into portions
3 T. butter
4 T. flour
2 C. milk
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1/4 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/8 t. ground cayenne pepper
1- 1 1/2  C. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1-1 1/2 C. breadcrumbs and additional butter, optional

Butter a suitable size baking dish well and place the cauliflower into the dish.  Set aside.  If baking now preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan melt the butter and add the flour over medium high heat stirring constantly to cook the flour for a better tasting sauce.  After a few minutes add the milk all at once and keep stirring the entire time until it comes to a full boil and thickens.  Reduce the heat to simmer and stir in the seasoning and cheese stirring as it melts.

Cheesy cauliflower add crumbs or heat and serve just like this!
Pour across the top of the cauliflower and if you want to also top with crumbs do so at this time.  If topping with crumbs dot with additional small nibs of soft butter.

Bake about 30-40 minutes until brown and bubbling.  The longer baking time is suggested if you have refrigerated the casserole from having made it ahead of time.  Yield 6-8 servings.