Monday, September 29, 2008

Falling Short

Well, obviously I will not be reaching my goal of 20 posts for this month. It appears I will only get halfway there. I have a good list of excuses ranging from too busy cleaning to sick with a yucky cold (current excuse). I will be setting the same goal for October and hopefully will do better.

One of my excuses was that I have been busy cooking. The above picture is a slice of pecan caramel cheesecake. It was from a Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cooking cookbook. It was okay but not something I would make again. Currently I have cinnamon roll dough in the bread machine. I will be saving a few to freeze. I want to see how they thaw and bake after being frozen for a few weeks.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Busy Day

I cannot get any pictures uploaded today, and I am too tired to try to troubleshoot the problem. I have washed three loads of clothes, made four spaghetti pies for the freezer, cleaned off the porch (again), fixed a neighbor's computer, cleaned up the general messiness of the house, and a few other random things. I got the tomato cages out of the garden and loaned them to my parents. They planted blackberry bushes, and the cages will keep the dogs and chickens out of them. Cleaning up the garden is another thing that remains on my to-do list. I have been putting it off and continue to do so. I expect that will be true for another week or longer. I love planting the garden but hate cleaning it up. Hmmm...the same thing goes with cooking.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Reading Chair

One of the chores I had been putting off for weeks was touching up the stain and water sealing the Adirondack chairs on the deck. I should have water sealed them last year but never got around to it. These chairs were an anniversary gift from dh. He does still owe me another chair and two footrests.

This is the chair I usually sit in each evening to read. It is peaceful and quiet there. The cats like sitting on the deck with me. It is a great way to end the day. I also love the bright stains. I am not a boring color person as noted by the red front door in an earlier post. The other two chairs are green. I am grateful my dh is good at builder. He was able to build the chairs for much less than much less than we could have bought them. The only requirement was patience.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Kitty, Kitty

Here are my two furry children out in the yard. Paris is hanging out on the new porch that dh built last week. She was under the weather earlier and spent a day and a half just lying around. That is extremely unusual for her. She has gotten her energy back today though. Paris loves visiting Grandma and Grandpa. She is a people cat and thinks everyone who comes to the house is there to see her. She lives up to her name.

Lucy is sharpening her claws on the large pecan tree in our yard. She loves the tree simply for that purpose. She is not a big outside person and never ventures beyond the invisible boundaries that make up her territory. This tree and deck are her favorite spots aside from the herb garden. She loves the catnip. She prefers to stay to herself. She does adore one of my cousins. I think that is because my cousin and I look alike.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Prize

Raesha at My Love blog had a giveaway recently, and I was thrilled to be one of the winners. She gave away patches, and I won the great London patch shown below.

I love all things England. I just have to decide on the best way to use the patch. I am thinking it would look great on one of my reusable shopping bags. I have a couple that are plain and dull. I think this patch along with a few extras would make one of the bags more fun. Be on the lookout for this patch in a completed project in the future. In the meantime check out My Love. Raesha has lots of great ideas and fun posts.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cake Decorating

I am continuing to practice with the cake decorating. I talked my church into being guinea pigs and letting me do the birthday party cake. I decided to try out a few of the decorating stencils I had gotten. I did a start border of green and yellow around the bottom although you cannot see it in the picture. The cake tasted very good. I think it was due to the fact I used real butter and fresh farm eggs. I am going to keep working on this new hobby. I know it would be easier if I could take some classes but none are offered around here. I will make do with teaching myself!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's Almost Fall Y'all

I am falling behind on my goal of 20 posts for this month. I am determined to meet it. That means posting everyday for the remainder of the month with a couple days of multiple posts. Get ready for a bunch of random stuff from my life.

One of the reasons for my lack of posting is that I have started fall cleaning. The first week I worked on the front yard and porch. Both were a huge mess with tons of weeds in the flower beds and general disarray. I cleaned out the majority of the hanging baskets on the porch. Many of the flowers were still good and simple root-bound in the pots. I planted most of the plants around the porch. Without the hanging baskets though, the porch looked a bit blah. I went ahead and put up some fall decorations.
The first was this straw broom decoration for the front door. I liked the way it turned out - simple but cute. I have to say my favorite part of my house is the red front door. I got a few weird looks from the neighbors when I painted it red, but it looks wonderful. I am not exactly a cream and grey/neutral colors type of person.

Next dh helped me with the fall display. We put three bales of hay together (thanks Dad!). Next we added the potted mums. The pots were on clearance and the mums on sale. The pumpkins came from the compost pile. The pumpkins we dumped there last year left behind seeds, and we ended up with a bunch of pumpkins from the plants that sprouted. I used some fake flowers and leaves and ribbon off of last year's fall wreath. The final additions were a scarecrow and crow. I thought the bird was very Alfred Hitchcock.

One part-time addition is a cute kitty cat. I am just glad she has not tried to eat the crow.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

It's Not THAT kind of Church

I am going to preface this by saying I am not downing anyone's beliefs. I simply do not share them. This is meant to be an entertaining blog entry.

A couple of weeks ago I get a call from my uncle who cleans our church. He said, "One of the throws (blankets) from church is on your porch. Wash it 'cause I used it to catch a snake." My first thought was SNAKE!!! I have a major phobia of snakes. I was okay-ish when there was a mouse in the piano. A snake is an entirely different matter. Then I thought 'okay the snake is out of the church'. Whew! Next I wondered if the snake had friends that he invited over. I spent a good portion of the following Sunday staring at the pedals of the piano and picturing the snake from "Anaconda" curled up in there.
Fast forward a week and I get a call from the pastor. He had a snake skin and wanted me to bring my camera. The pastor knows I love taking pictures of everything -- even the odd stuff.

Ewww! Luckily it was found in the choir section and not near the piano. Sorry to any church choir members. Dh announced that from looking at the picture it was only (ha! ha!) a rat snake. Thank goodness we got rid of that rat in the piano. Living in the country can be quite an adventure with all of God's creatures. I sincerely hope they stay outside from this point forward.

Monday, September 1, 2008

August Daring Bakers Challenge

I typed this up when I finished the challenge and forgot to post it. Things have been busy here. At least I am only about a day behind. I need to add "post challenge" to my to-do list. Honest if I do not write things down they never get done. Sorry!

First of all anyone following my blog knows that I have been doing a pantry challenge for the month of August. I had a maximum of $10/week for any grocery purchases. I was waiting anxiously to see what the August challenge would be and how it would fit into my plan. It turns out that the challenge was Chocolate Eclairs with a Chocolate Glaze. I had some chocolate left from last month's challenge so I did not even need to purchase anything for the August challenge. It is amazing that my pantry challenge remained intact.

I used the choux pastry recipe and the chocolate pastry cream recipe as written. I did just melt some chocolate to put on the two that I photographed. I did not want chocolate on all of them so I only needed glazing for a couple.

I had done a cream puff long ago and could not even tell you if the recipes were similar. I ended up with 20 mini-eclairs, which were actually a nice size for eating in the end. I thought the choux pastry came together well. I even mixed the eggs in by hand since I was not sure if my mixer would have held up to it.

The pastry cream was the part that worried me the most. I could see myself ending up with a nice pot of milky scrambled eggs. I actually had no trouble tempering the yolks. It also came together nicely. I have to be honest that it seems more like pudding than pastry cream though. Still it was good. My mom declared it nothing like chocolate pudding because she liked this and hates chocolate pudding. Here is my finished product:

This was one of the simpler Daring Baker's Challenges I have completed. I did get smart this time and spread it out over two days, which I am sure made a difference. In the future I would make something similar again. I would probably test a different choux pastry recipe and make puffs instead of eclairs. I am looking forward to seeing what September holds for the Daring Bakers!

I'm Still Here

I have been very lax in posting to my blog recently, which is obvious since my last post was a week ago. I am setting a goal of 20 posts for this month. I think that will be an easy goal to reach. I thought I would start off the month with the picture below. It was taken the day before Tropical Storm Fay came through here. I want to pass it on to everyone in the path of Gustav with good wishes for safety.