Back in the Day…

I’ve been a little AWOL in posting on either Camping Capers or Thymeless Sage and Random Rants lately. We’ve been busy purchasing lake property but doing some camping and fishing along the way. This weekend we were privileged  to have Elle and her friend Kelsey for an overnight visit. I’m so very glad we did because it not only gave us a chance to craft a little, it also restored my hope for the younger generation. You’ll see what I mean.

DSC00267Here we are doing a water color relief painting. The girls water colored fall shades onto their dampened canvases. I love how they have their own styles of doing things and are encouraging to each other in the process. After the painted canvas dries a bit, they will take some leaf stamps, press them into the fabric, and it should…I say should remove some of the color. It did, but then the white space slowly disappeared as the color was still bleeding. Maybe we got our surfaces a bit too wet. At any rate, we decided to use some acrylics and paint over the topography of the stamp and press that into the color. That worked a bit better.

DSC00273 DSC00272Pretty, right?

So are the fun Halloweenish fingernails.

DSC00271 DSC00270But after it was too dark to do anymore outside projects, then the REAL creativity began. These two friends have always had a flair for the dramatic, and Saint and I have laughed at their Carol Burnett like character skits, especially the old man and old woman scenes. This time, they changed it up a bit. When they asked if I wanted to play doctor, I was taken aback, unsure if their parents would approve, and also wondering just what my role would be in all this. Turns out, this is what I was talking about…restoring my hope in the younger generation. As they went to the junk drawer and brought out a note pad, pens, peppermints, balloons, etc., one volunteered to be the doctor, the other the patient, and I was assigned the role of nurse. Pre admission forms were made and filled out, and the free play-comedy began. I can’t remember when I’ve laughed so much. Such talent! From inserting pins into a shoulder of an 81 year old man diagnosed with Politis (This after Saint taught them the ropes of playing pool) to massaging “moldy feet” of another patient, and restricting certain movement to a patient named Miley, the hospital staff was busy and entertained.

The next morning, we went back to the craft table to work with alcohol ink. We were going to make coaster sets for their parents, but I could only find 2×4 tiles instead of the 4×4 we needed. We decided to do paperweights instead. I got this idea from this site: http://www.collegegloss.com/2013/05/diy-alcohol-ink-dyed-coasters.htm

It was a fun and simple project involving covering a tile with alcohol, dropping the alcohol inks on, and watching the colors combine. Sometimes, we went back and dropped more on just to see what would happen. After it dried, we chose one to sign with a Sharpie, and I sprayed them all with a clear finish.

DSC00274

And then they asked if we had a tent. I replied that we had one but it went on back of the truck. Now, here’s some more of that hope restoration I was talking about. They said they wanted to play Indians. I strung up the clothesline on the covered deck, put a sheet over it, and they were ready to play as soon as we gathered up some bowls, sticks, and other primitive cooking utensils. They went to the garden on a hunting/gathering mission and returned with a variety of leaves, berries, nuts, and flowers for their “concoctions.”

DSC00278And here are the lovely Indian maidens playing just like my cousins and I used to play all summer long. Ah, the memories of mud pies and water fights! And the best part…

DSC00277They left these outside the tent and I never saw them check them even once!

I was able to convince them to dabble in the paint one last time before we went inside. I thought this project totally fitting for the Drama Queens of the Good Sort.

DSC00275DSC00276A few board games later, the girls went upstairs. I saw them gather their doctor equipment and they soon had their hospital set up. When it was time for them to leave, I asked if they wanted me to go up and get the sheets off the bed and look around to see if they had left anything out of their overnight bags. They informed me they had already made the bed and picked up all their stuff.

Sure enough, when I went up this morning to get the sheets, the bed was made, well, just like a hospital bed. Everything was picked up, and the only reminder of their visit was on the door of the next room.

DSC00280And Miley’s chart.

DSC00279Who says kids don’t play like we did back on the good old days?

 

Advertisements

What to Do With All Those Cucumbers!

Yesterday was National Zucchini Day…or National Hide Your Zucchini in Your Neighbor’s Car Day. I’m not sure of the correct title, but that’s just not my problem this year. Those nasty squash beetles have taken care of that. CUCUMBERS! That’s my problem. They’re everywhere! So, I’m trying to see just what I can do with those wonderfully prolific little fellows.

The obvious choice, other than slicing them and eating them with salt or dicing them in a salad, is pickles. But who wants to go to all that mess trouble. I did find a recipe for refrigerator pickles that was, well, not a piece of cake, but fairly easy.

DSC00244I found the recipe at smittenkitchen.com.blog and tried to link to it, but I personally hate going to one site thinking I’m going to get a recipe only to have to click and wait on three others. Here’s the recipe:

4 or 5 large cucumbers, sliced

1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Kosher salt

1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar (I used 1/2 and wish I’d used 3/4)
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon celery seed

In a medium bowl, combine the cucumbers, onion and salt. Mix well. Cover the mixture with ice. Let stand at room temperature for two hours. In a pot, bring sugar, vinegar and spices to a boil. Drain cucumbers and onions. Add to vinegar mixture and bring almost back to a boil. Remove from heat and pack into two pint-sized jars. You can store the pickles in an airtight container for up to three weeks in the fridge. They will begin tasting pickled in just a couple hours.

I just tasted mine. They are good, but I’d recommend reducing the salt to 1/8 cup and adding sugar to equal 3/4 cup. Just my personal taste.

DSC00261

 

SO, that got rid of a few, but what’s next? I made a cucumber salad. I found the recipe in several places so I don’t have an original source, but mostly used the Taste of Home recipe.

Ingredients

  • 4 cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) sour cream
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
It was okay. I would recommend more cucumbers because…well, that’s what you’re trying to get rid of, and because this made a little more “dressing” than I thought it needed. Unless you are taking this to a pot luck dinner, I’d suggest halving the recipe. It is not great left over. The dressing gets runny after sitting overnight in the fridge. It is kind of cute to serve in a little sherbet glass or a tea cup, though.
DSC00257
The last recipe I made is one I tried last year, and it is still my favorite. It is also extremely versatile; you can make it as plain or fancy as you like. I got this recipe here: kitchenjoyblog.com.

Ingredients:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

sliced white sandwich bread, about 16 slices

sprigs of dill for garnish

DSC00246

Directions:

  • In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese and mayonnaise until completely incorporated. Add garlic powder, salt, pepper, chopped dill, and diced cucumber. Spread on 8 slices of sandwich bread. Top with sprigs of dill, then close sandwiches with remaining bread slices.
 I tried to link you up, but couldn’t. Her pictures are so much prettier than mine. I adapted this in several ways. First of all, I used an extra cucumber and reduced the mayo a bit. If you are making the roll up that I’m going to show you, I suggest leaving out the mayo completely. It doesn’t hurt the flavor and makes the mixture more spreadable.
First, I rolled out my bread slices with a rolling pin, and don’t tell my grown up kids because we tried to convince them the crusts were the best part of the bread, but I removed them for these little sandwiches and rolled that bread out FLAT! I spread the filling between two slices and cut each sandwich into 4 squares and then halved the squares to make bite-sized tea sandwiches.
DSC00250
To make a gluten free appetizer, simply slice cucumbers and top with a dollop of the spread. I topped one slice with a sprig of fresh rosemary (I would have used dill, but I forgot to grow it this year) and another with paprika and yet another with curry powder. All were delicious.
 DSC00254
Finally, you can reduce or eliminate the mayo and make a low carb tortilla roll up. In the picture, I used the standard recipe, and you can see that it’s a bit runny for finger food and doesn’t hold together as well as I’d like. I did refrigerate the roll for an hour before cutting, but it was still a little messy. Tasted wonderful, though.
DSC00255DSC00258
I think the best option would be an assortment platter.
DSC00259
There you have it! Great ideas for using those cucumbers, but I’m telling you…we still have cucumbers.
DSC00262
So, if you live in my neighborhood, be sure you lock your car doors!

Cauliflower Cheddar Chowder…low carb and delicious!

If you enjoyed the low carb side dish we made over the campfire this summer,  recipe for that here, http://campingcapers.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/camping-side-dish-loaded-cauliflower/

you are going to LOVE this recipe!

I started playing around with the idea that, if cauliflower is a good substitute for potatoes in that recipe, perhaps it would be just as good in the loaded baked potato soup that I love to make in winter. I made a cauliflower soup using a soup starter, earlier, and though it was good, I can’t say that I loved it. Guess what! I loved this one! I only wish I had thought of it last week when the temps were below zero and the ground covered with snow and ice.

Today’s beautiful sunshine did not make this one bit less tasty, and the bacon and garlic made the house smell wonderful.

I started with 8 slices of bacon, which I chopped and put in the bottom of my soup pan to brown. Let me stop here and add that, next time, I will cook the bacon in my skillet and transfer it to the soup pan. It stuck to the bottom of my pan a bit and didn’t brown as thoroughly as I like. It was still fine. I added two cloves of garlic (chopped) and a stalk of diced celery, and about a fourth of a cup of chopped onion after the bacon had browned a bit.

DSC00005I stirred constantly until the garlic and celery were translucent and the bacon was nice and brown. I sat that aside while I steamed a head of cauliflower. I did it stove top, but you can easily use your veggie steamer or microwave. When the cauliflower was tender, I mashed it with a fork. I didn’t want to puree it because I wanted little chunks like potato chowder.

DSC00007Next, I moved the bacon back onto the burner and added the cauliflower. When it was all mixed together and heating, I poured in one and three fourths cups of chicken broth, a cup of milk, and a cup of heavy whipping cream. For potato soup, I use all milk, but replacing one cup of milk with the cream cut the few carbs in half! And it helps with thickening. When that was heated and smelling really good, I added 2 cups of shredded cheddar, salt and freshly ground pepper, stirring until the cheese melted.

I garnished with a  green onions and a few bacon bits I had reserved, and BAM! That’s all, folks. Easy, fast, and really, really good.

DSC00009Here’s the recipe in a nutshell:

Cauliflower Cheddar Chowder

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower-steamed and mashed

8 slices bacon-cooked and crumbled (reserve a Tbs. grease and a few bacon crumbles)

2 cloves garlic-chopped

1 or 2 stalks celery-diced

1/4 to 1/2 half chopped onion, depending upon taste

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup milk

1 cup heavy cream

2 cups shredded cheddar

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook bacon, remove from skillet, drain and crumble. In a large soup pan, saute garlic, celery and onion in a tablespoon of the grease from the bacon. Add the mashed cauliflower and most of the crumbled bacon to the garlic mixture and heat together. Add chicken broth, milk, and heavy cream. Cook until soup is hot but not boiling. Add Cheddar, salt and freshly ground pepper and continue to heat and stir until cheese has melted. Garnish with the reserved bacon bits and sliced green onion on top.

 

Christmas on Redbud Ridge 2013

DSC00214

The stockings are hung. Decorating is done.

DSC00185 DSC00183

Gifts are wrapped. Lights are on.

DSC00224 DSC00219

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tables are set.

DSC00210DSC00218

 

 

 

 

 

Someday I hope to have a table that will accommodate 12 people so we can all eat and laugh together. Until then, we make the best of it.

DSC00225DSC00228

 

 

 

 

 

The hot chocolate station is ready for later. The candles are lit.

DSC00222The Christmas Story is ready. We are ready for the two day Christmas celebration to begin. This will be our first Christmas with the new family members Kris added this year, and we are very excited that we can all celebrate together. Schedules are hectic and time together is precious.

DSC00229DSC00230

 

 

 

 

 

Such beauty at the young adult table. And the wisdom of the other adult table. 🙂

DSC00235DSC00001

 

 

 

 

 

unwrapping gifts is hard work!

What a fun night. Now we are ready for the Sunday celebration with the Huffman family.

DSC00007DSC00009

 

 

 

 

 

Our youngest family members…for now. Congratulations to Matt, Terri, and Owen. There will be a new addition next year. Owen and Olivia had fun with the Pinterest inspired photo backdrop, and Jackson loved the props!

DSC00012And one of my favorite red headed beauties…Miss Kylee.

 

 

 

 

 

DSC00022 DSC00024 DSC00023

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our White Elephant/homemade gift exchange is always fun.

 

And all were good sports as we played Holiday Family Feud.

 

 

 

 

WWe are so blessed to have all our family together over the past two days. No, it is not Christmas Day, but we have learned to celebrate Jesus and family everyday we can. Merry Christmas to all!

 

 

DIY Summer into Fall Wreath Update

I picked up this grapevine wreath for a couple of bucks at a garage sale this weekend. I thought it would be perfect for a summer to fall makeover that would add some curb appeal to our son’s house. He and his new bride have three houses right now…his, hers, and theirs. So, we have been busily getting two of them ready for market by Labor Day weekend.

DSC00172

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I planned to remove the greenery, but since I wanted a summer into fall wreath, I decided to leave the summer element and just add some autumn touches.

 

 

 

 

 

DSC00173

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the junk collection of materials I already had…burlap, of course, leaves, sunflowers, fabric strips, twine, and wired basket weave ribbon.

I made three twine flowers (the tutorial for that is in an earlier post from Christmas) and started tucking leaves here and there. I didn’t glue anything until I played with the placement of the leaves and sunflowers on one side of the wreath.

Next, I made a bow with the wired ribbon and a touch of burlap. I like the bow at the bottom. But that leaves one side practically naked bare. I love the look of the wreaths that have knotted fabric strips all around, so I decided to try adding a few strips of neutral fabrics to the blank spaces.

DSC00176

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nice…but I wanted it to be a bit more welcoming.

How about a WELCOME bunting? Out of burlap?

Of course!

DSC00178

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took it right over and hung it on the door. I think it will work with the other things I have in mind for the porch. For now.

DSC00181

Tricks and Treats

Elle was one tired little lady when she came to our house to play this week. She and her sister had friends over to spend the night, and they stayed up very late. She yawned all through the reading of the recipe. Did I mention that she is an excellent reader? Anyway, I thought a jaunt down to the raised bed garden to pick the lavender might wake her up.

DSC00111She continued to yawn through the mixing and measuring, but when I told her some of the things I had planned for us while the bread was baking, she perked up a bit. By the time this bread was out of the oven, she was going strong. Here is a picture of the finished product and a recipe just in case you are intrigued by cooking with flowers, as I am.

DSC00123

Lavender Tea Bread

Ingredients:

3/4 cup milk                                                                                                    2 eggs

3 T. finely chopped lavender                                                                    2 cups flour

6 T. softened butter                                                                                       1& 1/2 t. baking powder

1 cup sugar                                                                                                         dash of salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan.

Combine milk and lavender in a small saucepan. Heat to a simmer then remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, cream together sugar and butter until smooth. Add eggs and beat until mixture is smooth.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir dry ingredients alternately with the lavender/milk mixture into the creamed mixture. Stir until just blended. Do not over stir. Pour into prepared pan and bake 50 minutes or until wooden pick comes out clean. Cool slightly and remove to wire rack to glaze.

Glaze:

My original recipe did not include a glaze, but I always add one.  My preference is an anise glaze using 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, 3 star anise, and a vanilla pod cut in half. Boil all ingredients for 10 minutes, strain, and pour over bread. I wasn’t sure Elle would appreciate the anise flavor, so we made a simple almond glaze, instead, that consisted of a cup of powdered sugar, 3 T. milk, and 2 t. almond flavoring whisked until smooth and poured over the loaf of bread.

You’ll notice in the picture, Elle is snipping lavender leaves. Earlier, I had snipped the buds and dried them a bit for use in this recipe. I like using the flowering parts, but I will forewarn you. The buds look like bugs in the bread. We served this to company once with the buds in it and they swore it was a bug. Seriously, the little  shoots on the buds look like tiny insect legs. But, Elle didn’t seem to mind at all. And that leads me to our next project. Worm painting. What’s a little bug looking thing when you are going to handle long, slimy, night crawlers? The worms do the original art form, and the artist outlines the form with rainbow crayon lines. And, animal lovers united, don’t “squirm” at this project. Since it is done with food coloring, there is absolutely no harm done to the worms. In fact, these are the lucky worms. They are going to get to work in our garden rather than on the end of a fishhook. 🙂

DSC00113

I’m so sorry I didn’t get a picture of the finished piece. Elle’s excitement was building in anticipation of our next challenge; planning pranks. Our son, Elle’s stepfather, is such a joker. Saint has a repertoire of stories about Kris’ antics from his childhood to present day. So, you can imagine that Elle has been the recipient of a few of his tricks and was eager to reciprocate.  We had a series of things we practiced…some worked and some did not.DSC00114This untied balloon tucked inside the door went flying and surprised her mom as she walked through the door, but the bloody tooth, which I thought looked very realistic, did not phase either of them. Neither did the “fake” pillow Elle made by removing the real pillow from a pillowcase and replacing it with plastic bags so that the head would go directly to the floor. I should have told her how hard headed her step dad is. She will learn soon enough. 😉  And beware, Shannon and Kris, there are more tricks up her sleeve. You will never know when to expect them.

We mixed in a little more science. In addition to looking on the internet for facts about worms, we played with chemical reactions.DSC00119

Folding a paper towel around a few tablespoons of baking soda, dropping it into a ziplock bag containing a cup of vinegar and a fourth of a cup of warm water, quickly zipping the bag, and giving it a shake or two gave us a nice reaction by inflating both the bag and the balloon, but we had expected the bag to burst. No big bang fireworks, here. I think I used a sturdy zipper freezer bag and should have opted for the cheap dollar store kind. We’ll try again sometime.

DSC00122 DSC00121

I had pinned a recipe for “unbreakable bubbles” that I had serious doubts about but wanted to try. I do love bubbles. Elle didn’t think she loved bubbles all that much, but she sure had fun. These were NOT unbreakable, but they were much stronger, larger, and more colorful than the kind you buy at the store. You can find the recipe here: http://media-cache-ak3.pinimg.com/originals/ed/cd/d1/edcdd10ef29fd2a061686cd7edadfcd7.jpg 

I have another bubble recipe using gelatin that we will try one day soon.

DSC00115

Hope you can use some of these ideas with your grands or bonuses. I sure had fun, and when the grown-ups came to pick her up, Elle was not yawning one bit. In fact, she entertained us with her gymnastic and dance moves until I might have seen a few yawns from the adults. Not me, of course.

Keep it Simple; Keep it fun! A Collection of Ideas for Your 4th of July Celebration.

Don’t panic. You can throw together a great holiday celebration for friends and family on short notice with these easy ideas for decor, recipes, and fun activities.

Anything red, white, or blue that you have around the house is fair game for decorating. Look through your rag bag and cut colorful strips to tie to rope to make a garland. This one is made from ribbon, but you can adapt with fabric strips, tissue paper, or streamers. http://createandbabble.com/red-white-blue-ribbon-garland/  

ribbon garland_createandbabble.com

     http://catscraftroom.blogspot.com/

Got paint and clothespins? This wreath would welcome your guests in style. Consider attaching the clothespins to a photo frame or matte and add some graphics. Dreamsicle Sisters off this free graphic download here:

Pin image

http://dreamsiclesisters.com/posts/free-fourth-of-july-fonts#_a5y_p=600682

Outdoor tablescapes get no less fanfare even though paper and plastic are often the order of Independence Day. Try covering a table with a white plastic cloth and weaving red and blue ribbon. I had this one on my Pinterest board and the colors could be easily adapted with patriotic co

I love the green and white. And the ribbon is soo cool.

Or, get the kids involved. A roll of white or brown Kraft paper, some stars cut out of sponges, a little paint…well, you know the drill. Kids could help with the centerpieces, as well. Here are a few suggestions and links to the DIY directions.

 

These are actually bicycle handlebar parade decor but could easily be adapted to table decor.

Patriotic Parade Streamers

http://alphamom.com/family-fun/holidays/4th-of-july-craft-parade-streamers-for-bicycles-and-scooters/

This is an easy and inexpensive centerpiece idea. And what’s more American than baseball…

Table Setting: Flag Centerpiece From BHG

 

hot dogs…how about these rocket dogs? They would do double duty as a centerpiece and menu item.

            Fourth of July...Red, white and blue lanterns From Martha Stewart

There are other cute ideas at this blog, so please pay Karen a visit.

Food or fireworks? Which takes center stage at your celebration? I vote food, but again, I say keep it simple. This berry, angel food cake trifle has been my go-to Fourth of July dessert for at least 25 years.

 

Berry Trifle with store bought angel food cake. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/sunny-anderson/patriotic-berry-trifle-recipe/index.html

This image is from my Pinterest board, and I use a slightly different recipe:

1 Angel Food Cake torn into bite sized pieces (I like pound cake better, but often use a sugar free angel food)

1 medium can crushed pineapple-drained well

3 bananas-sliced

2 cups strawberries-halved

2 cups blueberries

1 large instant vanilla pudding (prepared according to directions)

1 8oz tub Cool Whip.

Pecan halves (optional)

Begin with cake bits and layer other ingredients in any order you wish, ending with cool whip or berries.

This makes a huge dessert!

Here are other fun and interesting food ideas I found:

starpop

http://thedomesticrebel.com/2013/06/24/star-sparkler-cookie-pops/

Stars_and_Stripes_Cookies

http://stlcooks.com/2013/06/stars-and-stripes-cookies/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://grinandbakeit.com/firecracker-rice-krispies-snap-crackle-pop-this-fourth-of-july

 

Simply shred red and blue tissue paper and duct tape to sparklers, wad into glass votives…you can’t go wrong with good ole red, white, and blue. Hope some of these suggestions have been helpful, and that you have a flag-waving Independence Day. God Bless America!