I Miss You and Who I Once Was With You

Maybe it is because I miss who I was when I was there

Or because of the innocence and carefree life it held for me

Maybe for what it stood for and for who was there

For all the good that happened; for all the memories it holds of my life as it stands for someone else

Maybe for what it has done to me to shape me into the woman I am today

But I feel…mostly for the fact that it is a capsule of time which I want to live in forever because I miss everything about you and who I once was with you

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{my first home}

Its been a long time

I must write this down.

Even if for no other reason than to document and preserve the memory and feelings I’ve had since last evening.

We attended a local spaghetti supper to benefit a community.  It is a yearly event and the food is outstanding with a large gathering of people who come and go throughout the day.  I often see people whom I have either worked with or know from my hometown/community.  There is all-you-can-eat spaghetti, salad bar (in a canoe!), homemade soups and desserts.

As I came to the end of the canoe and was reviewing the various salad dressings I felt someone touch my back.  I turned to find the smiling face of a former schoolmate of mine whom I haven’t seen for many years.  She game me a huge hug and we talked for approximately two minutes and ended with another hug.  It is hard to describe the feelings I’ve had since that moment.  It was wonderful to see “M” even though we weren’t close friends in school.  She was always part of the ‘in crowd,’ had many friends, boyfriends, the best clothes and involved in many school activities.  I often was jealous of her and her friends because it seemed like they had everything one could ever want.  My school years weren’t the happiest of my life due to being picked-on by so many in our small high school and having very few friends to support me (it seemed like they abandoned me too, at times).  I ended up getting an after-school job at age 16 at the local supermarket and worked a lot with no social life at all.  I am very happy that my life has turned out better than it appeared it would be when I was a teenager.

Seeing “M” was really nice, actually.  I have avoided all of the class reunions that have happened since my high school graduation and I currently have very-rare contact with a couple of girls from my class.  But seeing “M” was really good and that has surprised me.  Maybe it is because time has changed us both and we’ve learned many life lessons and have forgotten all of the childish things that occurred between us in those dark days of school.  I learned a long time ago that no matter how good someone else’s life may appear to us it may be that they are struggling with so much and  their life could be worse than our own.  Maybe “M’s” life wasn’t as good as it appeared to me; maybe she was struggling at home, too, with so much.  A few years ago “M’s” sister succumbed to her demons and took her own life.  She was a very popular, always-smiling girl in our school.  I was shocked when I learned that news and often think of her.  I remember she gave me a senior photo with the sweetest words written on the back.  I still have that and have often thought of that nice gesture to me.  When she gave me that photo I was over the moon after reading those words.  It made such a difference to me in those rough school days.

I am very happy that “M” made the decision to walk over to me when she saw me (I hadn’t seen her).  I’ve been thinking about her and our conversation and it wasn’t a bad experience to see her.  I always avoided classmates because I didn’t want to dig up all of those bad memories and feelings from yesteryear.

God does place people in front of us for a reason.  And there must be a reason that he placed “M” there for me last evening.  In His time I shall learn that, I’m sure.

A Chili Weekend (inside and out!)

This is the BIG weekend so many sports fans are waiting for.

The Super Bowl parties with lots of food!!!

My team didn’t make it (but oh so close!), so I’m rooting for the Falcons on Sunday.

I started my Super Bowl weekend party early today by making a crock pot full of yummy hearty chili!

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(Yes, that is steam rising off and not a photo trick!)

It is very, very good!  So yummy and just the right amount of flavor with not much kick (just the way we like it).

I will share this recipe with you so you have something to make for your weekend party or just for whenever the mood for chili strikes you.

Ingredients & Directions

1 1/2 pounds of ground meat (combination of whatever you enjoy; venison, pork, beef)

Cook the ground meat in a pan and place into your crock pot

To this add the following:

1 pepper, chopped

1/2 onion, diced

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 pint tomato sauce (or comparable size)

1 pint diced tomatoes, including the juices, (or comparable size)

1 small can tomato paste

1-2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Please note that you may tweak the spices to your liking and add/detract anything you enjoy in your version of chili.

And, as always….

Enjoy!

Android vs. Apple

I’ve been using cell phones since the late 1990’s when I purchased my first phone and entered into my first agreement with Cingular One.

Do you remember them?

My first cellular phone was a big clunky rectangular box with an antenna and certainly wouldn’t fit into my pants’ pockets.

I was with them as they became part of AT&T and stayed with them for several years.  Through each 2-year agreement I entered I would receive a free phone (nothing spectacular but it did the job!).  At one point I made the decision to switch to Tracfone which seemed like a good fit for me at the time but eventually I signed onto Verizon Wireless due to my needs changing and I’ve been with them since.

On several occasions, including once with ‘clunky phone’, I needed to call for assistance when my vehicle broke-down on the highway.  So it has been a necessary expense for me as I travel many miles (35 miles to the City) to get to work each day.  Cell phone towers have made their way into our smaller rural communities which makes it possible to cease owning a landline if you so desire.

Cell phones and the various plans have really evolved and now there’s a plan and phone to fit every one and every budget imaginable.  And now you don’t have to worry about looking for a payphone booth since they are almost non-existent in our towns.

I’ve been using an Android powered smart phone for a few years now but I’ve decided to really compare Apple’s iPhone against Samsung’s Galaxy to make a decision on my next acquisition.  I know how expensive Apple products are compared to others but there are many reasons which have led me to really research the iPhone.

The three main reasons are stability, security and privacy.

When Tim Cook and Apple took a bold stand against the U.S. Government’s demand to create a back door into the iPhone I really began looking at and respecting Apple.  The more I read, the more I love them!

From various articles which I’ve read (including Apple’s website) I’ve learned many things which I find very important in my next cell phone purchase.

They do not allow anyone to access their servers and they never will (read Tim Cook’s message here about privacy).

As soon as updates for the iOS are available they are downloadable to the iPhone and not to just the current model that has been created; they are currently supporting several (some older models). With Android, it may take several months after updates have been created before you are able to receive it on your device or you may not be able to get it at all.

 On Android devices there are many preloaded Apps which can’t be uninstalled and they take up so much space. The vendors/creators have paid to have them placed on your Android device.  With Apple it isn’t quite so bad.

I truly believe Apple wants to create and provide the best for their Apple family (stability in their devices) as well as keeping their security and privacy a high priority.

By keeping such great support for their devices for several years it makes sense to pay a little more for a device which will last for several years with such good security and updates available.

I feel I’m ready to tackle the iPhone world and will jump into that camp to see how much fun it can be!

If you have one please leave a comment below; especially if you’ve jumped over from the Android side of the river.  (Thank you in advance!)

Blue Jay Cowl of Winter

It seems like ‘Seed Stitch’ gets a lot of attention for knitting cowls and many other items.

It is a beautiful stitch but I wanted to create something a little different than all the other patterns I seem to find.

And I wanted to create another warm and cozy cowl for myself.

After looking through a Knit Stitch Book I found the Rice Stitch.  It is a simple yet beautiful stitch for knitting.

I chose Wool-Ease Thick & Quick yarn in the Blue Jay color for this project and the Blue Jay Cowl of Winter was born!

The Rice Stitch is simple to follow:

CO a multiple of 2 stitches plus one|(CO=cast on)

Row 1 (Right side): P1,*k1 tbl, p1; rep from * to end|(P=Purl); (k1 tbl=Knit 1 through the back loop); (rep=repeat)

Row 1 (Wrong side): Knit

Rep rows 1 and 2 for Rice Stitch

To work it for circular knitting you just switch row 2 to Purl Stitches rather than Knit Stitches.

In doing this I created the following pattern for my Blue Jay Cowl of Winter:

I cast on 120 stitches to a 10 mm (29″) circular needle.  The reason I cast on an even number is when I began knitting Row 1 I actually Purled the first two stitches together for a tighter join.  In doing this I reduced the stitches down to 119 which is the odd number needed for the Rice Stitch pattern.  If you don’t want to do this, just cast on 119 (or whatever amount you want as long as it is a multiple of 2 stitches plus one which to me says “odd number”) 🙂

Then I continued with Row 1 as follows: *k1 tbl, p1; rep * to end

Row 2: Purl all stitches

Continue with knitting as follows:

Row 1: P1,*k1 tbl, p1; rep from * to end

Row 2: Purl all stitches

As the rice stitch pattern continues you will see beautiful bumps on the front of your work like this:

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If you look at the back you will see beautiful rows of knit stitches like this:

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I continued until I had 8 bumps per vertical row and decided that the width was good for me.

I then did Row 1 again and followed that by binding off in a purl-2-together decrease bind off  which is done by purling 2 together and then taking the stitch on the right needle and placing it over on the left needle and continuing that same method to the end.

When completed my cowl measures approximately 5 1/2″ in width which includes the co and bo edges.  I used 1 1/2 skeins of my super bulky yarn.

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I am able to wrap it around my neck twice for a warm, cozy but not too-tight, fit.

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A Charlie Brown Christmas

My most favorite animated Christmas television special is A Charlie Brown Christmas.

I’ve always enjoyed watching the various Charlie Brown holiday specials when I was a child and I continue the tradition of watching all of them each year.  There’s something nostalgic about Charlie and his friends and I deeply love it.

There is something about the soundtrack of A Charlie Brown Christmas that wraps me up and makes me want to transport back in time.  It is so cozy to me and I often listen to it throughout the year.  Those songs seem to transport me to a time of a peaceful childhood with no worries, of snow days and early school dismissals/closings, of baking Christmas cookies, of decorating the house for the Holiday and they give me a feeling of everything being right in this world.  There’s just something warm and fuzzy about all of that.

I love the ambiance of the season with all of the sounds, smells, yummy foods and lights.

But most importantly, the goodness of mankind which shines so brightly at this time of each year.

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“MERRY CHRISTMAS, CHARLIE BROWN!!”

Homemade Apple-Cranberry Crumb Pie

After finishing off the Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie I just had to bake another pie.

Because a House just isn’t a Home unless there are some homemade baked goods in its kitchen, especially during the Holiday Season! 🙂

I took a recipe for an Apple-Cranberry Crumb Pie and tweaked it up a bit.

It is very yummy!  Not too sweet and not too tart; just perfect.

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As always, I made my own homemade crust so the following instructions will be for the pie itself.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Ingredients for the Topping

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

5 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into smaller pieces

Ingredients for the Filling

3/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tbsp cinnamon (or whatever amount you prefer; add nutmeg if you like it too)

3 medium to large size baking apples (I used Winesap)

1 12-oz bag fresh cranberries

Directions

Prepare topping by combining all ingredients, except butter, in a small bowl.  Mix well.  Add butter and use a pastry blender to combine into the mixture until there are small pea-size pieces.  Hold aside until filling is in the crust.

Prepare filling by whisking/sifting together the sugars, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Cut up the apples into small chunks/slices and put into a large bowl with the cleaned fresh cranberries.  Add the sugar/flour/cinnamon mixture and mix together well.  Place this into the prepared pie crust and then sprinkle the topping over all.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees and then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees for approx 40-50 minutes or until apples are tender and everything is bubbly.

Enjoy!

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‘3 Ridges & 2 Valleys Over’ Knit Dishcloth

I’m truly in my element when I’m at home; away from other people and the chaos in the world.

I’m currently on my Thanksgiving Break from work and in the peace and quite which I am able to obtain in the solitude of my home I have created my first knit pattern.

It is a quick-knit item which is simplistic and yet it is unique and useful.

I have created the ‘3 Ridges & 2 Valleys Over’ Knit Dishcloth.

I used nearly one skein of Lily Sugar ‘n Cream 2 oz. 100% cotton yarn in the Red White & Blue color with 5 mm knitting needles.

It includes an I-cord edge and the Decrease Bind Off (which is a stretchy bind off).

As you knit this dishcloth you will notice that it will take several rows before the I-cord edge reveals itself and you will be pleasantly surprised as its beauty.

To begin, you may cast on any odd number of stitches (I cast on 53 stitches because I make my dishcloths larger than normal due to the shrinkage which will occur after the first time I wash and dry them in my dryer).  I use the Knit Cast On method, but you may use any method you enjoy.

Rows 1 through 6: Knit all stitches to the last 3 stitches; sl3 wyif (slip 3 with the yarn in front)

Row 7: Knit 3; Purl to last 3 stitches; sl3 wyif

Rows 8 through 14: Knit all stitches to the last 3 stitches; sl3 wyif

Continue Knitting Pattern by repeating Rows 7 through 14 until desired length is obtained.

To Bind Off in the Decrease Bind Off method you will do the following:

K2tog tbl (Knit 2 together through the back loop), slip that stitch back to the left needle and continue to the end of the row.   Cut your yarn and weave in the ends.

If you are crunched for time for a homemade gift, you will find that you can create several of these in a short time period.

Happy dish washing!

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My Favorite Filling (You call it Stuffing)

Here in PA Dutch Country, many people say ‘Filling’ rather then ‘Stuffing’ for that wonderful, tasty, scrumptious side next to the turkey.

Some people actually put it in the turkey but I don’t do that.  I prefer to make my Filling in a dish by itself.  My favorite is the Old-Fashioned type and recently we began adding mushrooms to it.  We absolutely love it!

You may desire to try something different this Thanksgiving so I will share my homemade recipe for Mushroom Filling.  It is not difficult to make and most people will have the simple ingredients in their kitchen at this moment.  It is definitely very tasty!

The ingredients listed will fill an 8″x 8″ dish (double or triple it to feed a crowd; I often do).

Ingredients

1 cup finely chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)

1 tsp of parsley (crushed) (or other herb you enjoy)

8 cups bread cubes (dried if you prefer)-Please note: I always take 16 slices of white bread and cube it up.  If I let it on the counter for a little while, uncovered, it will dry out a bit but I don’t worry about it if the bread isn’t dried and I never buy bread cubes to make this.

1/2 cup to 1 cup chicken broth, turkey broth or water (your preference)-I always use broth

Roughly 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (or use more if you really love them!)

Directions

In a saucepan cook celery and onion in butter til tender but not brown.

Saute your sliced mushrooms in a separate pan to remove the excess water in them and brown them a bit.

Add the mushrooms to the cooked celery and onion.

Stir in your parsley (or other herb) and add salt and pepper to your preference if you want to add it now.  I often just add fresh ground pepper and leave the salt out.  Your guests/family can add salt, at the table, if they want it and if you use gravy you probably won’t need any additional salt.

Add the celery, onion, mushroom mixture to the bread cubes in a large bowl and then begin gradually adding your broth and tossing everything together in the bowl.  You want everything to be moist but not extremely moist or it will need to bake longer in the oven.  If you use fresh bread, you won’t need to add as much broth to your Filling.

Place into a buttered 8″x 8″ pan and bake it uncovered in the oven with your other food.

A rough estimation on times and temps are as follows:

325 degree oven for 40-45 minutes

375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes

I just add it to the oven and keep an eye on it until it is as browned as I like it.  My turkey is typically done, out of the oven and “resting” before my Filling and that’s okay too.

If you have any questions, just ask.  This is a basic Old-Fashioned Filling recipe and you can tweak it as you like.  Add in anything you enjoy and see what you create!

Your Family will Thank You!!

(I recently baked a roaster-chicken for supper with this Filling, sweet potatoes, gravy and jellied cranberries on the side.  It was a mini-Thanksgiving meal and I often make this recipe throughout the year and definitely at the holidays.)

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Squshy Blanket update

In July I posted about a Garter Stitch Blanket which I had begun; in this post.

I’ve been knitting feverishly away at this since that time and I’m nearly finished with it.

It is so warm and squshy and I absolutely love this blanket!  It is rather wide (approx. 4 feet) and nearly 5 feet in length.  I’m aiming for around 6 feet so that I can completely immerse myself in it on the sofa!! 😉

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Eating our way through Autumn; One Pumpkin Pie at a time.

I have always enjoyed Autumn here in Pennsylvania.

It is a beautiful time of year with colorful leaves, crisp cool air, sweatshirts to wear and festivals all around.

I also love getting back to making comfort foods and baking more in my kitchen.

For the last few years I’ve been baking through many different Pumpkin Pie recipes in my search to find the perfect one:

The first Pumpkin Pie I fell in love with.

My Grandmother’s.

I do have many of her recipes including the few cookbooks which she owned but like many of her generation, The Greatest Generation, the recipes to daily eating were kept hidden well in their memory and not written down.  I have tried many of the Pumpkin Pie recipes among her collection but I can’t seem to find the exact one which she made.  She may have used one of the written recipes which I’ve found but tweaked it a bit by adding or omitting something which I can’t seem to figure out.  I even asked my Aunt (my Grandmother’s daughter-in-law) if she had my Grandmother’s recipe.  She doesn’t but she did share the one which she has always made and it is very good as well.

One thing is certain.

My husband isn’t debating with me over all of the taste-testing which he’s been enduring through my many attempts at finding the ‘one!’ 😉

I recently purchased a blue used cookbook titled The Victory Binding of the American Woman’s Cookbook Wartime Edition.

It is a book full of recipes which use common household items found during the War time.  Nothing fancy is needed and there is a lot to be found within the covers among the nearly 1000 pages.

I have found a Pumpkin Pie recipe in there which has gotten me to the closest I think I can get to my Grandmother’s pie.  It seemed to have the appearance, taste and consistency of her Pumpkin Pie; from what I can remember anyway.

To usher in the Season and to share with you, here is the one from that book and I hope you will enjoy it this Holiday Season.

Happy Autumn!!

Ingredients

1/8 tsp salt

2/3 cup sugar

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 2/3 cups milk

1 1/2 cups mashed cooked pumpkin

1 Pie Crust

Directions

Sift dry ingredients together and stir into eggs.  Add milk and pumpkin.  Line pie pan with crust and pour in filling.  Bake in preheated oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes; reduce to 325 degrees and bake 35 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.   Cool.

Variation

Use 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/2 tsp ginger instead of pumpkin pie spice