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PuMpKiNs

With a sure-to-kill hard freeze, it was time to cook up the pumpkins I’ve had setting outside for Autumn decor. Before I get into that, here’s a picture of the monogrammed pumpkins I grew for my grandsons.

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Back to cooking pumpkins…

After I have my pumpkin cooked and mashed it is ready to use in a multitude of recipes – pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, pumpkin soup, pumpkin custard, pumpkin pop tarts, pumpkin whoopie pies, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin french toast, and the list can go on and on. Today, I’m prepping for Thanksgiving. I am usually asked to bring dinner rolls to our family gathering, so I made pumpkin dinner rolls. Now before you turn up your nose, let me tell you that there is no pumpkin flavor. However, the rolls are a delightful golden color. The pumpkin also adds nutritional benefits to the rolls, and can replace half of the fat called for in your recipe. These rolls are moist, light, airy, and most delish when eaten warm with a bit of fresh butter. I admit; I could hardly wait for one to cool enough to sample!

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I also made pumpkin cinnamon rolls to serve for Thanksgiving Day breakfast.

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These freeze well, so I’ll thaw at room temperature Wednesday night. In the morning, I will warm them in the oven while I whip up some cream cheese frosting. It will be a quick and easy breakfast before we hit the road to join friends and family for Thanksgiving dinner.

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For your enjoyment, here is the Pumpkin Dinner Roll recipe.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups warm milk
2 Tablespoons softened butter
2 cups mashed cooked pumpkin
2 teaspoons salt
5 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons Instant yeast
5-7 cups all-purpose flour

In large mixing bowl combine salt, whole wheat flour, and yeast.
Heat honey, water, milk, butter until very warm.
Pour over dry ingredients and mix.
Add pumpkin and mix.
Add all purpose flour 1 cup at a time until dough can be handled.
Knead on floured board 10 minutes adding flour as needed.
Place dough in greased bowl and cover. Let rest 10 minutes.
Prepare/grease pans or baking sheets.
Form dough into balls and place in pans. Cover and let rise in warm place until double in size (about 30 minutes).
Bake 350 for 15-20 minutes.
Serve warm. Makes approximately 4 doz.

What is your favorite way to eat pumpkin?

 

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Easy French Bread

Oh. My. Deliciousness!!! The aroma is pretty intoxicating as well!

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However, there is a bread much better than this.

Jesus, the Bread of life.
John 6:25-59

Teaching a  crowd, Jesus said,

“The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

“Yes, I am the bread of life!”

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

I have always appreciated and enjoyed a good, crusty bread, but I am humbled and grateful for Jesus. He gave His life so I may have eternal life.

Friends, do you believe?

 

Easy French Bread 

Combine:
2 Pkgs. rapid rise yeast
2 Tbls. sugar
2 tsp. garlic salt with chives
4 c. all purpose flour

Add:
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 Tbls. shortening
2 1/2 c warm water

Stir in 3-4 additional cups of flour, one cup at a time.
Knead 10 minutes.
Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise 15 min.
Shape into 2 loaves, and place on greased baking sheet. Make 4-5 slashes across the top.
Cover with towel and let rise in warm place until double. (approx. 30 min.)

Bake:
Mix 1 egg and 2 Tlbs milk. Brush on loaves. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

A Trailer of Old Windows

A few years ago, a friend was replacing windows in a house. He called my husband and said, “I have all these windows that you should pick up so I don’t have to haul them to the landfill. Surely your wife has a project for them.”

Hubby brought that trailer load home, and the windows got sorted and stacked neatly in a shed. I immediately knew what OUR project would be. However, farm work and lack of confidence kept us from moving forward.

The windows had been stacked, sorted, measured, broken panes replaced, and re-stacked for a year. Finally, Hubby said, “Let’s get started.” So we started. We set all 4 corner support posts, and then it was time to drill wheat. Those 4 posts stood tall like pillars from August to May!

Very slowly, when farm work would allow, one window at a time would be attached to frame work. By end of July, we finally had all 4 sides put together.

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In August, the roof and door were finally in place.

 

 

I loved the old chipped patina on the reclaimed door, so I lightly sanded and sealed.

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Eventually, a “U” shaped potting bench was made with just a foot path through the middle of the house.

An old door makes a fun shelf for old tins and watering cans, and a hand-me-down chandelier adds a bit of glitz to this one-of-a-kinds greenhouse.

Jose’ the Hose Holder and hanging can with flowers great all who pass by.

Our trailer load of windows is now a greenhouse for starting garden seeds, and extending our growing season.

What would you do with a trailer of old windows?

 

March Show and Tell

It’s a show-and-tell kind of day. Warm weather has brought auctions, junkin’, and to-do projects. Read on for a glimpse of what I’ve been up to.

In years gone by, women carried a cotton handkerchief in their purse. To beautify these snot rags, colorful prints, lace, or embroidery embellished them. Why would anyone want to buy these old, faded, squares of cloth today? Because there are so many things one can make or do with them! I purchased a box full of hankies at an auction recently, and turned them into spring bunting valances for my kitchen.

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I simply folded them diagonal to make a triangle. Then tied the ends together, and hung above my patio doors and sink window. This was a quick and simple way to brighten my kitchen.

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My next project took me outside. My compost pile has just been in an open spot by the vegetable garden.  It was easy to dump and turn. On the other hand, it was an eye sore, and the dog liked to dig through it. I upgraded to a pallet compost center. My double composter is made of 5 pallets wired together.

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This is no longer the eye sore it once was.  By dividing it in half, I can keep two piles of compost cooking separately. I also found a scrap of woven wire fence the perfect size to use as a gate for the section I’m feeding. This will keep the dog out while still easily accessible for dumping, turning, and loading out the compost.

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These piles of compost, wood chips, and bamboo mulch are ready to distribute in the landscape.

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As you can see I have pile of bamboo plus a lot yet to cut.

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I might add another section to the compost center for the new bamboo mulch. After it is cut I run it through the chipper/shredder, then it is ready to use.  This mulch does not break down quickly, so I like to use it around trees and shrubs.

We don’t have to be a throw away society. Recycle and upcycle for good stewardship.

What projects have you been working on? Feel free to show and tell in the comments!

Projects

I love being outside. Sunshine and warm temps are like a magnet to me. I’d much rather work, create, play, and relax outside than cook and clean inside. This past month has been busy, busy, busy doing those outdoor things I so enjoy.

Today, I thought I’d share some of the projects I’ve recently completed between gardening and lawn mowing.

One morning, I turned some old wooden hangers into necklace holders.

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My mom requested a wall of planters to transform an eyesore well house into a focal point. Hubby and I teamed together on this project. We used salvaged lumber we had on hand so the hardware was our only expense. Mom purchased the planter boxes and plants.

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Our slatted park bench was not safe to sit on. The boards were sagging and rotting, and the iron ends were paint chipped and rusty. We took it apart, repainted the ends, and replaced the boards with some of the old wood floorboards we had left from a house project. With the boards stained and sealed, I practically have a new sturdy bench.

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The biggest project so far was completed with my daughter-in-love. I picked up this vintage swivel rocker for $10 at an auction. The frame was sound, but it needed the springs retied and a complete reupholstering. Although we are far from professionals, we had fun working on it, and DIL loves the finished chair.

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In our country of abundance and shopping ease, we have become a country of waste. However, junking, taking something old and giving it new or renewed purpose, is the rage right now. This is actually something I’ve enjoyed all my adult life. Recently, I scrounged around for treasures in an old dilapidated house on my dad’s property, and found this old chandelier light. Dad laughed when I picked it up and wondered what I’d do with it.

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My mind was immediately whirling with ideas of turning it into a solar light. With a bit of paint and some solar lights it is perfect hanging from my rose arbor.

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The Grands are coming to visit, so Hubby brought more sand to refill the sand box. To add a splash of color at the sandbox and a bit of musical play, we made a xylophone from some pipe off the scrap pile. I can hardly wait for the boys to get here!

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June is past and July has arrived. Garden harvest, canning and freezing will soon dominate my days, but I can think of a few more projects I’d like to complete.

As I typed this, I’ve been sipping coffee on the patio and enjoying the oriels flitting back and forth, but my cup is empty, and I really must go clean my house!

What projects are you working on?

 

 

A Taste of Spring

Earlier in the week, we had our 18th snow for winter 2013-14. This is very unusual for our corner of the world, but we are so very grateful for the moisture. The snowfall was quickly followed by a couple days of springlike weather with temps in the 60s. With melting snow, tulips pushing through the damp earth, and goldfish playing at water’s surface, I was tempted to get my hands in the dirt. However, I restrained because I know Mother Nature is a tease. Instead, I whipped up a taste of spring with a few new recipes.

The local grocery store has been getting in some beautiful, plump, sweet, juicy strawberries. We usually eat them fresh, whole, or sliced, dipped in chocolate or stirred into yogurt. This time I made Almond Cream Filled Strawberries. An easy snack, appetizer or dessert that looks a tad fancy for my farmer.

ImageSince I had whipping cream left over, I got brave and made some Grilled Pears with Honey Roquefort Whipped Cream. This was not as big of hit, and I will not be making them again.

ImageCold winds returned this morning. So while Hubby got a fire going in the wood stove, I made a batch of Bacon Grits for breakfast. What a delicious enhancement to plain grits! Of course, how can cheese and bacon not boost the flavor? We drizzled a bit of maple syrup to top it off.  This will definitely become part of our breakfast menu rotation.

ImageThe temperature is quickly dropping; wind is blowing tumble weeds south, and the fish are at pond’s bottom. Snow #19 is in tonight’s forecast, and a big mug of hot chocolate sounds very warming right now. A handful of lemons and limes are waiting for our next taste of spring. Monday is predicted to be in the 70s, and I’m already anticipating fresh squeezed lemonade or cherry limeade.

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Finished and Delivered

After three years, it is finished and hand delivered! That is two years ahead of schedule, or a year late depending what your view is. Oh goodness! I’m getting ahead of myself.

It all began as a dream when God blessed me with a daughter in the midst of three brothers. I wanted to piece and hand stitch a double wedding ring quilt for her wedding present. I purchased fabric 3 years ago, and let it sit untouched for several months. Finally, I found the courage to begin cutting all the beautiful fabrics. I was filled with doubt and reservation fearing I’d mess it up. I managed to get the pieces cut and sewn together forming the quilt top in time for my daughter’s last wedding shower. She was quite surprised as I was able to do most of the piecing while she was on the other side of the world, and I kept it out of site when she was home, (Read more here: Double Wedding Ring Quilt)

Last January, I began hand quilting the sandwiched top, batting, and back. Some women can sit and stitch day on end completing a quilt in a week or two. Not me! I stitch slow, and might get a day here or there that can be mostly spent quilting. However, most days I was only stitching a few minutes to an hour, and when summer rolled around, the quilt was all but forgotten. I basically took a four month vacation from quilting, while I gardened, farmed, mowed lawn, and remodeled the hall and bathroom. I simply threw a sheet over the quilt in quilt frames to keep it from getting dusty. It was there ready and waiting for stitching in the Fall.

While working on this quilt, I spent many hours reminiscing and praying for my daughter. I also recognized a few things about myself. I can have a great idea or plan, but I can delay beginning due to fear of messing it up or not being satisfied with the end product. I am so thankful for the coaching and encouragement I received along the way. I did have some mess ups, and a few connecting points don’t look the best. The quilt is far from stitching perfection, but I’d like to think those little mistakes give it character. (Sorry if that comment made some of you expert quilters gasp.) I also learned the benefit of breaking down a big goal into several benchmark achievements. The big picture can be so overwhelming, but when I set realistic goals for specific steps (cutting, stitching arcs, piecing to filler pieces, completing the top, quilting one row…) it was not as daunting. These were not new self-discoveries, but it had been awhile since I was this challenged to work through some of my weaknesses, doubts, and fears. The bottom line was that I wanted this quilt gift to be perfect for my only daughter, and I knew before I began that it would be far from perfect.

Quilts often tell a story. This one can be symbolic of relationships. God chose me to be the Perfect Imperfect mother of my dear daughter, and He chose her to be my Perfect Imperfect daughter. Those imperfections have been the tool to cause us to grow as individuals, and as mother and daughter. The double wedding ring pattern is symbolic of the love that binds a marriage. However, there is no marriage that does not encounter difficult times. In the Bible and first chapter of his book, James says, “when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”  James 1:2, 3 NLT  If my daughter notices the imperfections in her quilt, I hope she is reminded  to depend on God to help hold the stitches tight, rather than let her marriage unravel.

I put in the last binding stitches just a couple days before we celebrated Christmas with our family. It was such a delight to be able to hand deliver this quilt just a couple weeks after my daughter’s 1st wedding anniversary. Through determination and perseverance, this Double Wedding Ring quilt was finished and delivered!

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