Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dad in the Navy

My sister, Pam, is nine years younger than me.  Her daughter (my sweet niece), Sarah, is in the fourth grade. They celebrate Veteran's Day by inviting relatives who serve/served in the military.  Sarah invited my dad.  

Sarah also needs photos of him in the service, which will be on display on Veteran's Day.  We scanned a number of photos and then found out, she only needs ONE 5 x 7.  It didn't matter.  We had fun going through all the photos.

This is one of my favorite Navy days photos.  He looks so happy and carefree.
Of course, this was in the day before helmets had their due respect.
Somewhere in Japan
I love looking at photos of my dad.  He's so handsome.  Everyone always said he looked like Paul Newman. His eyes are a wonderful blue, just like Paul's.  Not only is he handsome, but he's very sweet, with never a bad thing to say about anyone.  Plus, he's very smart.  He's always enjoyed learning new things.  As if that isn't enough, he has a great sense of humor.  Not everybody gets to see that side of him since he's pretty reserved til he gets to know you.  Can you tell I'm an unapologetic Daddy's Girl?

He served in the navy from 1950 to 1954.  Most of that time ('51 to '54)  he was going around the world on the USS Valley Forge, an Essex class aircraft carrier.

This is NOT a favorite photo.   He's far more handsome, especially when he smiles.


His home port was San Diego for most of that time.  That's where he trained and went to electrician's school.  He cruised the Pacific for several years going to Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Hawaii, and more.

During the last year on the Valley Forge, his home port was changed to Norfolk, VA.  During that time he saw the Panama Canal, and places around the Carribean, like Cuba (before Castro), and Haiti.

One of his favorite stops was in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Valley Forge was the first man-of-war ship to ever pull in there.  People were lined up for miles to tour the ship. The guys could choose people to bring on board, so naturally, most of them were looking for pretty girls.  Dad says the whole town was real friendly.


Somewhere in Japan, near Mt Fuji.



Again, somewhere in Japan.

April '53 - Not sure where.  Probably Japan.  But may be somewhere in Mexico.
Taken on board the ship - USS Valley Forge



 Party Time - Party Time - Party Time - Party Time - Party Time - Party Time - Party Time - Party Time - Party Time - Party Time 

There are a few more days left for the OCTOBER Porch and Garden Party
It's the last one for 2010!

 My new party starts Monday, November 1st.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

Certain recipes seem perfect for fall.  Pumpkin bread is one of my favorites.  The cinnamon and nutmeg in the recipe make the house smell wonderful. The bread is easy to make and delicious!  Here's the recipe:

Pumpkin Bread


1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2.  Mix all dry ingredients together.
  • 3 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp salt
Note - I avoid gluten, so i substitute
3 1/3 cups Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix
for the first 3 dry ingredients.
It turns out great.  
  • 2 cups sugar (The original recipe called for 3 cups, which I found to be too sweet. In fact, I use less than 2.)
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp nutmeg


3.  Add wet ingredients and mix.
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 small can pumpkin

4.  Optional - Stir in nuts and raisins.
  • 1 cup nuts - walnuts or pecans are good choices
  • 1½ cup raisins

5.  Pour into greased and floured pans.

6.  Bake.   The dough will fit into two loaf pans, but the middle will be too gooey.  I find spreading it out into three pans is perfect.
  • three 9x5 loaf pans – 50 minutes 
  • 24 muffins – 30 minutes
Here are two of my loaves.  The third was bagged up, to be put in the freezer.


Since I made three loaves, 
I had one to eat, 
one to freeze (it freezes beautifully)
and one to give away!



I've joined in with the following parties:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rain and Fog

Finally... some rain!

And then,  a fog settled over the meadow.
Actually, it's just an open area or field, but meadow sounds so much prettier.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cindy Lou Gets Cozy

This is why I have a hard time making the bed some days.

How could I possibly disturb this little princess?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

PERFECT Mini Meringues

I've been thinking about making meringues ever since my friend, Martie, introduced me to some that are available at the grocery store.  They are very, very good, but cost close to five dollars. 

Meringues are gluten free. They are fat free.  They have much fewer calories than standard cookies.  I read that 6 of them equals 1 weight watchers point.  I like that one or two satisfies my sweet tooth.  Plus, it turns out they are easy and inexpensive to make and call for very few ingredients.

The recipe I used came from A Taste of Georgia cookbook and is attributed to Joe Ann Hanson.  My edition is old - a fifth printing from 1981. I don't know what printing they are on now, but the book is just as popular now as it was when I bought it.  It's still my favorite cookbook after all these years.  I think there's a law in Georgia that a copy of this book must be in every kitchen.  It's a law I highly approve of.

Here's the recipe from the book:

    * 2 egg whites
    * 1/2 cup sugar
    * 1 tsp almond extract
    * 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (or 1/2 cup coconut)

Beat egg whites until stiff.  Gradually add sugar.  When mixture stands in peaks, add extract.  Carefully fold in nuts or coconut.  Drop by tiny spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.  Bake at 250 degrees for 50 minutes.

I used pecans for mine.  The verdict:  They are delicious!  The DH has declared them even better than the store bought ones. He generally speaks his mind so you can take that opinion to the bank.  I agree, but let me say the store bought ones were quite good, too.

I served them on a simple white platter I had for sale in my booth and then brought back home to keep.
I was curious about the almond extract.  The store bought ones I had were vanilla and I loved those.  I thought about substituting, but since was my first time making meringues, I decided to follow the recipe.  I'll probably try vanilla next time, but I'll definitely make almond again, too.

Lots of things can be added to the meringue mixture for variation  - peppermint oil, lemon zest or flavoring, chocolate, cocoa powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, sprinkles, coffee, and cherry flavoring to name a few.

You can melt chocolate or make a creamy filling and put it between two meringues - a chocolate meringue sandwich.
As seen on Good Food Channel

Food coloring can be added if you like.  There are natural food colorings that are healthy if you really feel the need for color.
As seen on CookingRecipes

These are topped with whipped cream and berries.  - Delicious Magazine

Meringue Ingredients

RATIO: According to Joy of Baking, the standard ratio for meringues is 1/4 cup sugar to each egg white.  It's easy to adjust the recipe to make more or less.

SUGAR: I thought about using a little bit less sugar next time, but read that the sugar is what gives the meringues it's crispness.  I also read that you can play with the sugar a little bit to control how hard or soft the final meringue will be. Never use less than 2 TBSP per egg white. From what I read, if you want a meringue with a cute shape, you need the full amount.  If you want the meringue to sink down, cookie style, maybe less would be best.  Beating time is also a factor here - soft peaks vs firm peaks.

Speaking of sugar, I noticed lots of different sugars being used in other meringue recipes - powdered, confectioners, and caster.  I had never heard of caster sugar, but apparently, it's a super fine sugar. Fine sugars work great in meringues because they dissolve better.

CREAM OF TARTAR: Most meringue recipes call for cream of tartar or cider vinegar for stabilization.  My recipe didn't call for it.  I didn't use it.  My meringues appear stable and well adjusted.  :-)  However, I read that the cream of tartar allows the egg whites to reach their maximum volume when they are being whipped.  Maybe I should try it.

EGGS:  Here's a tip I knew, but it bears repeating: Separate each egg into a smaller bowl before adding to mixer. This way, if you mistakenly break the yolk, you can discard that egg without starting over.  The tiniest bit of yolk can wreck a meringue!   

The yolk has fat and fat of any kind will wreck the meringue.  For that same reason, make sure your bowls and utensils are very clean.  Don't use anything plastic - those tend to hold on to fats.

Eggs separate easiest if they are cold. But eggs right out of the refrigerator will not whip well.  Solution - Separate the egg whites, then let them sit and come to room temperature before whipping.

Meringue Shapes

I dolloped spoonfuls onto the baking pan.  They keep their shape as they cook.  My shapes were not all that attractive.  That didn't stop us from chowing down on them!


If you want a really pretty shape, you can follow the instructions given by Maddie Rudd on Hubpages. She fills ziploc baggie with meringue mixture and uses that to create meringues that look like Hershey Kisses.

If you add 2 mini chocolate chips to the meringues, as recommended on Susie The Foodie's site, you have Ghost Kisses!
Ghosts for Halloween!


These little critters were found at Yummy Tummy.

At Dessert First, they used a piping bag to create meringue baskets.  After cooking, the baskets were  filled with sorbets.  They sound good - a little something tart would go nicely with the sweet meringues.

Oven Time and Temperature

Cooking time and temperature seems to be a big factor in how the meringues turn out.  The main goal of cooking is for the meringues to dry out completely.  Low temperatures for longer cooking times seems to work best.

Some recommend turning the oven off at the end of cooking time and leaving the meringues in the oven for an hour or even overnight! I really think this is the most fail-proof way to go!


I didn't have the patience or willpower to try that.  Fifty minutes was long enough to wait.  But in the future, I'll make time for that.  Two of my larger meringues fell apart when I tried to pick them up.  They weren't done.  If the meringues are marsh-mallowy or chewy on the inside, they aren't dried out enough.

If the oven temperature is too high, the outside of the meringue will dry and set too quickly.  That causes the outside to separate from the inside.  They aren't as good when that happens.

It's best not to make meringues on a humid or rainy day.  But if you do, you may need to cook them longer.

Also of note - Parchment paper or aluminum foil is better to use than wax paper.  The meringues are less likely to stick.

Based on all I read, 
here's the recipe I'll keep in my collection:

Mini Meringues

    * 3 egg whites - with not even a tiny bit of yolk!
    * 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
    * 3/4 cup sugar - super fine sugars dissolve better
    * 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract (or almond)
    * Optional: 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (preferably lightly toasted - 8 to 10 min at 250 degrees)
  1. Preheat oven to 200 -or- 250 degrees.  See step 9.
  2. Line a cookie sheet/baking pan with parchment paper.
  3. Separate the egg whites, then let them sit for about 30 minutes to come to room temperature.
  4. Beat egg whites in a metal or glass bowl (no plastic) until foamy.  Add cream of tartar and continue beating until the egg whites are stiff and hold soft peaks.
  5. Add sugar very slowly while beating.  Continue beating. When the mixture stands in firm peaks, rug a little between your fingers.  If it still feels gritty, the sugar is not dissolved.  Beat it some more.
  6. Once the mixture stands in firm peaks and the sugar is completely dissolved, beat in the vanilla.  
  7. Carefully fold in nuts or coconut.  
  8. Drop by tiny spoonfuls onto lined cookie sheet lined with wax paper.  You can use a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch tip or a baggie with the corner cut out to make pretty and creative shapes.
  9.  Two Baking Options: Bake at 250 degrees for 50 minutes or 200 degrees for 90-105 minutes.  When done turn the oven off and open the oven door a crack. Leave the meringues in the oven overnight to finish drying out.  Note: Do not open the door at all during the first half of they cooking time - it could cause the meringues to crack.
  10. Store meringues at room temperature under glass or in an airtight container - NOT in the refrigerator!  They should keep for about a week in an airtight container.  
 Freezing:  Not sure - some say it's not recommended because cookies with no or low fat content don't freeze well.  Others say they freeze beautifully for up to 3 months. Some say they can be frozen, but they become rubbery when thawed.


Be sure to check out the OCTOBER Porch and Garden Party
It's the last one for 2010 and will be open all month!

I've linked up to the following parties:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fabric Organization

Heaven help me.  My fabric stash is a complete mess.  It's in my attic (which is like a big room, but without heating and air).  I have been hoping to find more shelving to finish up this area.  Last year, I came across plenty of wire shelves for next to nothing at yard sales that I used in other parts of the attic.  

I felt sure I'd come across plenty more.  But no.......  I guess no one out there is redoing their closets.  I may have to break down and purchase some at full price.  I can't make myself do it.  I know as soon as I did, I'd find a pile for nothing at the next yard sale.

And while I wait, my fabric stash seems to get messier and messier.  I rationalized that there was no sense spending a lot of time organizing it until the shelves were in.  No sense in doing it twice.  Forget that.  I cannot stand it.  I have got to tidy up.  

But first, as always, I need some inspiration.  After looking at some of the great examples below, I am really excited to get started!

Folded fabric can look quite neat. - as seen on Sew Mama Sew


It's easy to see what you have on open shelves. - as seen on Webshots
There's a great video on Tipnut showing a super easy way to fold fabric!

Fabric can be grouped by color - as seen on Happy Zombie


A shoe organizer is a great way to organize small bits of fabric - as seen on SweetJessie
Fabric can be rolled as seen on Craftzine - the cute label wrappers are available for download!

Fabric can be stored in see-through bins - great article on Sew4Home
Wire drawer systems work, too! - as seen on Sew Mama Sew


Folded around Foamboard - as seen on The Little Green Bean
Folded around cardboard - as seen on Fireflies and Jellybeans
Folded around Acid-free Comic Book Boards as seen on Feathered Fibers


It can be stored in a fabulous hutch (oh, I wish!) - as seen on Fabric Shopper Online

It can be placed in drawers - as seen on Badlands Quilts
How cute is this?  - as seen on vgkchick's Flickr page

I would need a lot of suitcases to do this! - as seen on Day to Day



Storing in Bins as seen on Tranquility Spot
Neat, easy to see, wrapped to same height... what's not to love?  as seen on Craftster
Last, but not least... 
Creative Daisy was brave enough to show how messy organizing can be.  I love this!
Click the link to see the transformation!



While thinking about RE-organizing my fabric, this is as good a time as any to announce my new party. The Porch and Garden party is ending at the end of the month.


The new party (starting November 1st) will be called the RE- party

It's to celebrate the RE-'s in our lives.  
RE-doing, RE-furbishing, RE-organizing.  
There's are tons of RE- things we do.  

Meanwhile, be sure to check out the OCTOBER Porch and Garden Party
It's the last one for 2010 and will be open all month!

I'm linking up with the following parties:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Keeping It For Awhile

I am keeping a spreadsheet list of things I buy at yard sales.  I'll need it at the end of the year for figuring taxes on the booth.  The last column in my file is for comments.  One of the comments that I seem to writing more and more is, keeping it for awhile.  

The problem with buying things I like, is that often, I like it so much that I want to keep it.    Every weekend after bringing in my new treasures, my house is getting rearranged a bit.    It's a good bit of fun.

On Friday, I found a very pretty art vase.  On Saturday, I found another.  I don't collect art vases. I had no intention of keeping these.   I usually use simple vases, like Mason jars or white pitchers.  But the more I looked at these vases, the more I loved them.  I put them on my kitchen sill just to admire them with light shining through.  Then I went to my bathroom and rearranged.  These vases are now in my 2x2 bathroom window, up high where the cats won't bother them.  They are pretty big and heavy, so they would probably be safe even lower, but I really like how they look in a window.
What am I doing?  These are not my style.  Or are they? When I retired from teaching, I decided that I would stop worrying about rules.  I never thought of that in terms of decorating until lately. Most people play by the rules in decorating.  They pick or develop a style and stick with it.  I have been having such a hard time settling into a style.  The problem is, I like lots of styles.  Vintage, shabby, all white, colorful kitsch, artsy, bohemian, minimalist, modern, industrial.  I appreciate them all and love looking at them on blogs and in magazines.  Choosing just one style isn't happening for me.

Maybe all this yard sale-ing is going to be a break-through for me.  I buy things I like, and try some of them out for awhile.  See if it's me and if it works in our home.  Forget the rules, forget the styles.  Just -  do I really like it?  

On the other hand, ECLECTIC is a style!  Maybe that term was invented just for people like me who like so many things and hate things being the same for too long...  for people who find cool things they want to keep for awhile.

ec·lec·tic
Adjective   /iˈklektik/
Deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.

Here's something else that passed the Do I Like It? test with flying colors - this unbelievably wonderful custom tablecloth.  It's super heavy.  The toile is thick and has a wonderful texture.  The top is soft and quilted.  It fits perfectly on my table.  It does not go with anything near the table.  I have black and cream toile curtains.   Why would I throw in a blue and linen toile?  Even my newly found eclectic style sense doesn't think that's a good look.
 But I'm still keeping it.  One of these days, I'll use it as a booth display.  I'm pretty certain of that.  And down the road, I'll bet I'll use it at home.  I don't need to rush this off to sell.  I'm keeping it... at least for awhile.


In some cases, I am eliminating one thing and replacing it with something I like better. 
I call that trading up.  It's incredibly satisfying!

This bird cage is an example of trading up!  I've never seen anything like this.  The bottom shelf is sized perfectly to hold a stack of letter sized papers.   The top shelf will hold legal size.  I set it up on my desk and it looks so much nicer than a run of the mill paper-stacker-thingie.  What are those called anyway?  It doesn't matter, I'm trading up!

Speaking of trading up, I am planning on trading up on my kitchen chairs.  I have had them for ages and intended on painting them.  I have procrastinated like crazy.  I couldn't decide on a color.  My DH wasn't all that crazy about them.  I knew they'd need a lot sanding to hold the paint.  It just seemed like a lot of trouble for too little reward.  Finally, I made up my mind.  I'm going to trade up.  I'll sell the chairs.  I'm sure I can find other chairs that work better for us.  I feel so much better for making that decision.  And after looking at these for so long, they no longer pass the Do I like it test.  They are good, heavy, solid, well made, sturdy chairs and I detest them.  :-)  That felt good to say write.

I just noticed - I have over 100 followers!  Woo-hoo!  I have no special reason to want a bunch of followers.  This blog is not commercial and I have no plans for it to be.  I don't use it to promote anything.  I talk about my booth - mostly because it's what I'm into these days, but as far as I know, my followers don't live in the area, so that doesn't count as promoting. Just having people think enough of my blog to click that button and become a follower is really nice!  And when I look at the blog stats and see so many others dropping by, well, that's pretty nice, too. 


Be sure to check out the OCTOBER Porch and Garden Party
It's the last one for 2010 and will be open all month!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Yard Sales - Real McCoy and More

Yesterday was another amazing yard sale day.  I found a few collectibles, which always make me a little nervous.  I am a novice when it comes to what things are actually worth.  Up to now, I have based worth on how much I liked something.  That's pretty easy.  Now that I'm selling things, I have to think in terms of a different value system.  That means I have to do research.

Here's a collectible I found yesterday.  A McCoy souffle bowl.  I didn't know it was a souffle bowl til yesterday.  I also found out that some collectors use these as dog bowls.  I also found that the dishes with the pink and blue stripes are in the Stonecraft Pink and Blue Dinnerware line.  Lin's Antiques's and Collectibles has a good selection of these with photos - 6 pages worth. However, she didn't have my souffle dish.
After doing some research, I am still confused and uncertain.  I saw bowls that looked exactly like this, same measurements, but with a different number.  My bowl is number 7059.  I found it here marked with a number 0143 and listed at $68.  Hello!!!  I found it in a couple of other places with the number 0144.  So, have I got a fake?  A reproduction?  A recent McCoy made to look like a vintage one?  I DO NOT KNOW because I can't find a single thing online with a 7059I could really use some help!  

Another good find was this Dansk Fall Harvest Oval Vegetable dish.  I thought it was just a really pretty pasta dish.  I was debating over whether or not to keep it.  I like the colors.  It's pretty, but it doesn't go with my kitchen. Then I looked it up on Replacements.com.  Holy Mackerel! It sells for $99.95.  I wouldn't list it for that much in my booth.  I'd list it high enough for me to get a nice profit and low enough for the buyer to get a good deal. 
The other major collectible find was this set of 4 dishes.  They are made by The Haldon Group.  The line is Provencial Fruit.  These are salad plates. I have 4 different ones - two girls, two boys. The label says 1991. (Note: My spell check wants me to spell the name as Provincial - with an i - but it's spelled with an e on the back of the plate.)

The colors are very pretty - reminiscent of some from the 40's.  The color in my photos appear just a tad brighter that in person.  Again, I was thinking of keeping them.  It would be wonderful to actually use them.  Then I did some research.  I couldn't find anyone who had a set.  Not even a set of two.  What I did find was one dish for $24.95.  I have four.  I have a set.  On replacements.com the dinner plate in this line goes for $41.95... for one plate.  They are out of stock on the salad plates, but they do have photos of them on page 3 of their Provincial Fruit photo gallery.

Update:  Bargain Hunting With Laurie did a very pretty table-scape using the pitcher from this set.

I found a number of other items yesterday that are not collectibles... just nice.
I'm thinking of using these Waverly slipcovers over the office chairs in my loft.  They don't fit perfectly, but they work well enough.

These chenille pillow covers are fabulous.  I thought about keeping them until I saw Dry Clean Only.  I live in a major fur zone.  I need machine wash.  These are so pretty, I'm still tempted.  They'd be so cute on my porch.  I'm putting them aside til spring, so I have that long to debate.
I found two great rugs.  The 4x6 red one was a great find.  I'm keeping it.  No debate.  It looks fabulous with my other longer hall rug - the  colors are almost the same.  The 5x8 one should go, but it's staying for a little while til I make up my mind.  It's very nice.  Super thick and cushy.  It was very inexpensive.  I plan to put rugs in different zones in my attic.  This one would be great in the gift wrap area. 


And then, I also found these other cool things:

I'd say it was a good day.  I'll be heading out to the Saturday yard sales in just a few minutes.  Who knows what I'll come home with today.  Yard Sale-ing is such fun this time of year!


Be sure to check out the OCTOBER Porch and Garden Party
It's the last one for 2010 and will be open all month!

I've joined in with the following parties:

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