menu plan monday ~ march 30, 2015

I am way behind on posting. Here it is Wednesday already! The day is so pretty out, that I am sitting in the swing in the backyard, doing some computer work.


I’ll do a quick menu for the week, then will spend some time doing another post. Spring is in our yard and I would love to share some pictures with you. But first the menu…

Scrambled Eggs

We were able to get five dozen of our niece’s lovely homegrown chicken eggs last weekend. We had them for supper on Sunday and Monday, and for breakfast every day. So good!

empty shells

Carry-Out Pizza

No one felt like cooking…

Grilled Pork Steaks
Grilled Veggies

DH is grilling enough to have three or four meals on hand.


Homemade Buns
Sauteed Mushrooms
Roasted Asparagus
Green Salad

Grilled Chicken with BBQ Sauce
Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Carrots
Garden Salad

Chicken Tortellini Soup
Rosemary Crackers

Chicken Tortellini Soup

Sunday / Happy Easter!
Marinated Pork Tenderloin
Steamed Broccoli/Cauliflower/Carrots
Garden Salad

Easter Egg Hunt
Birthday cake for grand-daughter
Ice Cream

important stuff

You’ll find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.


life with grands

The twins came to see us a week ago. Their older sister stayed home to have some one on one time with Mom. Our daughter-in-law brought the girls over Friday evening. We shared a pot of coffee before she left and caught up on what’s happening at their house. Our DIL’s department at work is undergoing a huge remodel right now and she is ready for that to be done! I can’t blame her.

After she left, it was close to bedtime. DH put the girls in their jams, distributed snacks, read stories and prayed with them. They were pretty good about settling down. Saturday morning, though, Rose Red woke up sick. Poor thing! She had a fever and threw up several times during the day. She spent most of the day asleep.


Snow White took a walk uptown with our Youngest Daughter to get sandwiches for lunch. It was a beautiful day to be outside. On the way home, they found coal by the railroad tracks. Snow White was SO excited!


We spent quite a bit of time online watching videos of coal mining and rock and crysal formations. Snow White is very interested in anything to do with science.

At 10:00 that night, Rose Red woke up and said she felt a lot better. And, of course, after sleeping all day she wasn’t tired. DH started a movie for her and he fell asleep while she watched. When he woke up at 1:00, she was asleep again.

Both girls seemed to feel fine Sunday morning. We kept them home from church just in case. After church, DH took them home. They had a school program at 2:00, so DH stayed for that before coming home.

The program was “Health and Fitness.” As you can see, Rose Red was not really into the topic at that particular time. Still not feeling 100%.

health and fitness

Snow White, on the other hand, was ready to go!

health and fitness

It’s always fun to watch how the girls react to life, to learning something new, to the way they find intense interest in what has become to us mundane. It helps me better appreciate the every day.


proof of spring

Yesterday DH went out into the yard armed with my camera and took some pictures of spring. It’s really here. Thank you, God, for springtime.

For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. Song of Solomon 2:11-12 ESV

Winter is past, though the rain may not be over, and I am happier than you can imagine.

The daffodils are getting taller every day. Some of the patches have buds showing already.



The ‘Von Sion’ daffodil is a very old variety, dating back to 1620. Ours came from DH’s family farm and are usually the first daffodil to bloom in our garden.


The tulip leaves are shooting up. No sign of buds yet, though.


Happy enjoyed walking the yard with DH as he took the pictures.


The maple tree buds are bursting.


The dogwood blossoms survived the winter and are just waiting for the right time to bloom. The trees are loaded with blossoms and should be beautiful this year.


I am always surprised how quickly the lilacs begin to bud and green. They seem like delicate flowers, but the buds will begin to show soon.


The robins are surely happy the snow is gone and the days are warming up.


Right now, the crocus are the show of the garden.






Even if we have more snow in the next month or so, winter has lost its power.


in our yard this morning

…with daffodils coming up behind them…

Yay, spring!

The Crocuses

They heard the South wind sighing
A murmur of the rain;
And they knew that Earth was longing
To see them all again.

While the snow-drops still were sleeping
Beneath the silent sod;
They felt their new life pulsing
Within the dark, cold clod.

Not a daffodil nor daisy
Had dared to raise its head;
Not a fairhaired dandelion
Peeped timid from its bed;

Though a tremor of the winter
Did shivering through them run;
Yet they lifted up their foreheads
To greet the vernal sun.

And the sunbeams gave them welcome.
As did the morning air
And scattered o’er their simple robes
Rich tints of beauty rare.

Soon a host of lovely flowers
From vales and woodland burst;
But in all that fair procession
The crocuses were first.

First to weave for Earth a chaplet
To crown her dear old head;
And to beautify the pathway
Where winter still did tread.

And their loved and white haired mother
Smiled sweetly ‘neath the touch,
When she knew her faithful children
Were loving her so much.

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
African-American abolitionist, poet and author, 1825-1911

menu plan monday ~ march 9, 2015

Spring has finally decided to join the party. I know there may be a little snow hiding in the woods on north facing hills. But it won’t last much longer. We’re getting crocus reports from nearby friends and family. Eldest Daughter sent this picture yesterday.

Eliza's crocus

Ours are probably not out yet because today is cloudy and rainy. Crocus prefer a sunny day. Don’t we all? The maple buds are swelling and the birds are beginning tentative spring songs. I am one happy girl! January and February are the hardest months of the year for me.

Middle Daughter is home on spring break and we may tackle cleaning out some of the craft room drawers and cupboards. Other than that, no big plans. :)

Here’s the menu for the week.


Chicken and Dumpling Soup

Braised Short Ribs
Sautéed mushrooms
Garden Salad
Cheddar Bay Biscuits Scroll down the post for the recipe.

Cheesy Baked Shells and Broccoli
Garden Salad

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
I’ll use Gouda cheese instead of Velveeta!

Fridge Food

Crock Pot Pork Tenderloin
Crash Hot Potatoes
Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Green Salad

You’ll find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

Update: When DH came home, he found this in the back yard.


Spring has come to the garden!


40 year old Christmas party

I’ve been perusing some photos from the 1970′s this week. Oh, my. The years have flown by. In some ways, it seems like yesterday. I’m still that person, deep down inside. In other ways, it seems like an eternity ago. The end of that part of my life when I was carefree and had nothing more to worry about than paying the rent. Noone but myself to take care of. Though, let’s be honest…I was still under the care of my parents. If I found myself in a jam, Dad was always there to bail me out. Thankfully, he is still here and would still bail me out if I needed it. Thanks, Dad, for all the times over my lifetime you’ve been there for me and mine.

me and my dad

If you know much about me at all, you know I love everything about the celebration of Christmas. This has always been the case. The first year I was in college, I used Christmas wrapping paper to cover the ceiling of my dorm room (I wonder how many thumbtacks that took!) and I painted a nativity scene on the window.

In the summer of 1975, I worked in a factory by day and played with my college friends by night. I lived in an apartment over an office supply store, with my friends Marsha and Wilma. We had two bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, bath, and a small kitchen. I can’t remember what the rent was, but not much by the time we split it between three people.

As students began to trickle back to campus that fall for the next school year, my roommates and I hosted a “Farewell to Summer” party. Theme? Christmas. Of course.

We invited all our friends who had been around that summer and a few of those who had made it back to campus already.

Christmas party
Wilma, Bob H, Marsha

Christmas party
Don W, Chuck

Christmas party
Paul, Chuck, Don B, me

We decorated a small Christmas tree and sang Christmas carols. I think Marsha brought the little Christmas tree from her folks’ house for the party.

Christmas party
Chuck, Richard, Paul
This was the first time we met Richard. He had brought his girlfriend Lois back to college after the summer. I’m sure he never thought he’d be celebrating Christmas in August that year.

Christmas party

My sister, Margaret, sent Christmas cards for everyone.

Christmas party
Paul, Chuck, Don

We played some Christmas pencil games. This one was “Name that Christmas Carol,” with picture clues. Corny, huh? But we had a great time!

Christmas party
Bob, Richard, Lois, Don, Ed

Stockings were hung on a curtain rod with care.

Christmas party
Lois, me

Everyone got a present from Santa Claus. We tried to fit each gift to each person. Something to remind them of the summer fun we’d had. Bob H played the part of Santa. I believe he borrowed the suit from a professor.

Christmas party
Santa (Bob H), me

Christmas party
Kevin, Paul doing their shark smiles for the camera.
Kevin received a set of four glasses. (Sadly, Kevin passed away in 2010.)
Paul received a sugar bear. He is that sweet. Was then, still is.

Christmas party
Marsha, Deb, Bob B, Richard, Lois, Ed
Bob received a blue plastic mug with Disney characters on it.
Bob and Debbie married, as did Lois and Richard. Both couples are still married today.

We served eggnog and Christmas goodies.

Christmas party
Richard, me, Chuck, Bob B, Paul

Christmas party
Richard, Bob H, Ed

Christmas party
My dear friend, Marsha, and my kitty Obie.

Marsha Jane and I went to high school together, but were not in the same circle of friends there. Imagine my surprise when we found each other at the same college! We ended up being roommates and we’re still BFFs. We talk to each other via texting, Facebook, etc., almost every day. We also write letters back and forth. Her letters are the best! They can be eight pages or more of all kinds of news and tidbits. She and Paul (now married 38 years) come to visit as often as they can. Jane and I craft together, laugh together, and love one another dearly.

Looking at the photos brings back so many memories from the past. Dear friends and good times!


Ski is right at home

Most of you know my dear cat Zak passed away in October. In late November or early December, I began perusing looking for a new cat. I wanted a black and white tuxedo cat, though he didn’t have to be a long haired cat like Zak. I looked at dozens of potential pets. Finally, I found one that sounded just right. He was about an hour away in a local humane shelter. On Christmas Eve, DH and Middle Daughter went to the shelter to pick up Ski.

The first few days Ski spent a lot of time watching from safe places.


Ski under the tree

But it wasn’t long before he was exploring…

My  new kitty, Ski.

…and relaxing…

My kitty Ski


For the first week, we kept Ski in the downstairs bedroom where I was recuperating in the recliner. We wanted him to feel safe and also wanted to keep him from the other cats until he had some time to adjust. The other cats would sit outside the bedroom door and watch him. He was always very interested in them and completely passive in his approach to them. He is such a well mannered kitty.

Of all the cats, it was Amy who showed the most interest in this new house mate. She is still not happy about the addition to the household.

Amy, watching Ski.

Zilli spent some time watching Ski, too. She now tolerates him.


At the end of that week, we opened the bedroom door and let him come and go as he pleased. It didn’t take long for him to explore the rest of the house, including the upstairs. Anywhere in the twins’ room seems to be attractive to Ski.



Ski is one of those cats who becomes concerned when his food dish is empty. He waits patiently, but if anyone wanders by, he is eager to tell them about his predicament.

Where's my food?

He eats his food like no other cat I’ve ever seen. He takes one piece at a time out of the bowl, carries it away from the bowl, then drops it on the floor. Then he spends time batting it around like a soccer ball. Eventually, he will eat it. He goes through this same behavior every time he eats. I have a bowl for him in the craft room and we find bits of his cat food in our bedroom at the other end of the hall.

Another quirk…he is the only cat we’ve had who likes to sprawl out with his hind legs straight out behind him.


He also loves, loves, loves to have his belly rubbed.

He loves belly rubs.

Ski is very curious. He always wants to know what is going on.

Waiting for a treat

Is it spring yet?

His curiosity makes this toy irresistable. We put cat toys and a treat or several pieces of his cat food inside and he works at it until he has them all out.

Fun new toy.

He has an extreme interest in people food, though we never give it to our cats. Youngest Daughter turned her back for a few seconds and Ski was checking out the fridge. Hopefully, the first AND the last time he manages that. He also loves to check out the dishwasher if the door is down. We have to keep an eye on him while loading dirty dishes.


He has made tentative friends with all the cats but Amy. She is not amused. Ski is eager to be friends and to play with her, but she will have none of it. If he approaches her, she still hisses at him. He is amazingly laid back. He doesn’t advance, but sits down or lies down and waits for Amy to chill a bit.

Vantage point

Ski is very friendly and sweet natured. I think he’s perfect and we all love him. Sometimes, for a split second, if I’m sleepy and he jumps up on my lap, or I catch him with the corner of my eye, I think he’s Zak. That makes me miss Zak a lot. But Ski is his own kitty, with his own unique personality. It’s a comfort to have another tuxedo cat in the house. I am glad he came to live with us.



menu plan monday ~ february 16, 2015

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day. DH gave me chocolate dipped strawberries and raspberries. Dipped the berries himself.

Chocolate covered strawberries and raspberries


For supper he made Linguine with Shrimp and Asparagus. Delicious!

Linguine with Shrimp and Asparagus

We got a bit of snow. Just enough to make it pretty. I love the view from my craft room.

View from craft room

View from craft room

Here’s the menu for the week.

Heat Free Chili
Crackers / Peanut Butter
Toasted Homemade Bread

Smoked Pork Shank and Beans

Chicken Tortellini Soup

Pan Seared Tilapia
Oven Roasted Carrots and Brussels Sprouts
Steamed Baby Red Potatoes with Butter and Fresh Parsley

Carry Out

Homemade Buns
Oven Fried Potato Wedges
Steamed Broccoli

Quick and Easy Spaghetti Sauce
Garden Salad

You’ll find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.


menu plan monday ~ february 9, 2015

I am coming through a period of not feeling well. I thank those who thought about me and those who asked how I was doing. I am slowly, slowly getting better. I’ll start posting again with the menu for the week. But a few pictures first.

A few weeks ago, we had a light dusting of snow. Just a spritz. Nothing like the eastern seaboard is seeing. I’m fine with that. For us, at least. My heart goes out to the areas like Boston who have seen so, so much snow this winter. Stay safe out there!

But this is winter in my backyard.

Just a spritz of snow.

This is a more usual scene from the backyard. Gray and brown. No snow. I opened the window and took this one of the days when the weather was nice.

Winter garden

When I opened the window, I could hear Pa out in the backyard playing with the twins in the tiny little woods behind our house. Snow White and Rose Red think the woods is huge and a great adventure. They love to head out with Pa to explore the paths. He gives them trimmers and they cut their way through the overgrown areas. Too much fun!

A little climbing is a part of adventuring, too.

two little birdies

Rose Red stopped long enough to trim up a walking stick for herself.

making a walking stick

We’ve had the grands a couple of times over the past few weeks. They always lift my spirits. They are happy to come into my room where I spend my time in the recliner, trying to keep my leg up as it recovers. They chat away about everything that comes to mind, read books with me, work a puzzle or draw pictures, bounce on the bed, and generally bounce off the walls. All fun! There are quiet moments, too.

I asked Snow White if she she would like to read the new books I got for her. She said, “Maybe I’ll just read one chapter now and then I’ll read another chapter tomorrow.” After the first chapter she said, “I guess I will read one more chapter now.” Then, “I guess I will read the whole book.” Snow White loves to read. She is seven and can read just about anything an average adult can read. Tell her a big word one time and the next time she reads it, she remembers how to pronounce it. The problem is finding books on her level that are age appropriate. Her Daddy was the same way. A week before his fifth birthday, I found him on the couch reading the newspaper. I had to tell him there were things in there he shouldn’t be reading! But we are a book loving family, so it wasn’t a stretch of any kind to acquire more books! Snow White has her Pa’s wonderful retentive memory. She can read something once, or watch a video, and days later she can repeat it word for word. So funny to watch such a tiny little girl talking about a particular animal or the solar system with such an authoritative amount of information to pass on.

I'll just read one chapter...I'll just read one more chapter...I think I'll read the whole book...

We celebrated our youngest daughter’s seventeenth birthday last week. I can’t believe it has been that long since she was born. I remember we spent part of the day on our twentieth wedding anniversary getting a sonagram to confirm pregnancy. Surprise! She has brought a lot of fun and laughter to our family. The house will seem too empty when she goes to college in a year or so, after 35 years of having kids on hand. My last baby is grown. Time flies! Savor the moments!

Happy Birthday to my baby.

Here’s the menu for the week. A little shuffling usually takes place, depending how I am feeling and how busy DH is. But the plan is as follows.

Thankfully, DH is happy to step up to the plate (ha!) and make supper when I am not up to it. He did a delicous job of making this meal.
Pan Seared Tilapia
Seared Mashed Potato Patties
Steamed Brussels Sprouts

We have the chicken in the fridge, ready to use, so this one will be easy.
Chicken Tortillini Soup

DH is home this day and will take care of putting the meat in the crock pot and soaking the beans the night before.
Smoked Pork Shank with
White Beans
Apple Crisp

Ham Sandwiches on
Homemade Buns
Celery and Carrot Sticks
Fruit Salad

Quick and Easy Spaghetti Sauce
Garlic Bread
Green Salad

Haven’t decided what we are doing for Valentine’s Day. Maybe shrimp? And something wonderfully chocolate…

Maple Dijon Chicken
Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Carrots – I use maple bacon instead of prosciutto.

You’ll find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.


ham, bean, cheese soup

The menu said “Fridge Food,” which usually means “open the fridge and see what you can find.” But the weather is cold and I wanted something nourishing and warm. After perusing the fridge, I decided to use the food I found to make soup. That was ham and leftover deer sausage. I had chicken stock, celery and carrots on hand, too, so it was easy to put something together. I’m putting the recipe down as I made it so I’ll be able to make it again.

Ham, beans, deer sausage, cheesy soup.

Here’s how it panned out…

Ham and Bean and Cheese Soup

  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 4 c. chicken stock (homemade is way superior to store bought)
  • 1 cup ham, diced
  • 1 c. deer sausage (or other spicy sausage), diced
  • 1 T. dry onion
  • dash of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. crushed dry basil
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • dash of ground cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 15-oz cans white beans, undrained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 T. butter
  • 3 T. flour
  • 2 c. milk
  • 8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley

Cook the celery and carrots in the microwave or in a little water on the stovetop until tender. No need to drain the water.

Pour the chicken stock into a large soup pot. Add the celery/carrot and the diced meats.

Add the spices and the beans. Stir and let it simmer while white sauce is prepared.

In a separate pot, make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes. Add the milk and whisk until sauce thickens. Remove from the heat. Add the grated cheese and stir until melted.

Turn the heat off from under the soup pot. Add the cheese sauce and stir well. Add the parsley and stir. Enjoy!

Like many soups, exact measurements aren’t necessary. If you love carrots, add more. If you don’t like celery, leave it out. If you want to cook a diced onion with the veggies, do that instead of using dry onion. Or use diced green onions.

Diced cooked potatoes would be a good substitute for the beans.

If you’re not comfortable making a cheese sauce, use a jar of cheese spread or cheese dip, if you’re good with that.

I had deer sausage so used that with the ham. You could use just ham or you could use all sausage. Kielbasa would work fine.

What’s in your fridge?