March 29, 2014

My Fireplace

Last Saturday, I repainted my brick fireplace.  This is how it looked before painting it:

We had used our fireplace more this year than the previous seven years we have lived here.  Last spring, we had put in new ventless gas logs and the new glass doors.  As you can see from this picture, the front of the fireplace was stained from the heat.  My inspiration was from a picture in a Crate & Barrel ad book that I received in the mail.  The brick was painted white (just like mine was), but the mantel was blue!  I loved, loved it!  I had never had put wood in the area for storing wood.  I had always covered it up with a potted fern, an urn, or other things throughout the years.

So I painted the mantel blue, repainted the brick white, and used the opening in the fireplace for its original purpose by adding firewood into the opening in the front of the fireplace.   

I am far from crazy about the vent covers in this fireplace.  I have researched this on the internet, and this is a ventilator fireplace, and I'm sort of at a loss right now about what to do about them.  I am continuing to think through that, and I hope to come up with a solution soon.

I am mostly happy with the way it turned out.  The reason for my slight discontent are the vent covers.   I love the pop of blue, and I really like the firewood.  


March 23, 2014

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I decided to write this blog post during the Witchita State versus Kentucky basketball game.  I get very nervous and excited during basketball games.  Witchita State is in the Missouri Valley Conference the same as my alma mater, Southern Illinois University.  We have watched them play for years, and Cudjoe and I are so excited for them and are rooting for them.  It's half-time as of this writing, and it has been a great game so far.

I made this Pineapple Upside Down Cake the first Sunday in March and am sharing it with you this basketball Sunday.  We had ice, sleet, and snow on the first Sunday in March, one of many winter storms we had here in this part of the country.   In other words, a great day to bake!  I had never, ever  made a Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  It is, for me, a truly "old school" cake.  I remember my mother making them when I was a little girl, and it was one of my many aunts go-to cakes.

I made a basic white cake mix from scratch.  I melted butter and poured it into an iron skillet and sprinkled the brown sugar on top of the melted butter.  I arranged the pineapple rings on top of the sugar, and placed a maraschino cherry in the hole in each pineapple.  Then I poured the cake batter over the pineapples.  I baked it in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve to family and friends!


March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland.  Saint Patrick's Day is observed on March 17,  the date of Saint Patrick's death.   It is celebrated as a religious and cultural holiday.  

We celebrated with these brownies with cream cheese frosting and tinted with green food coloring.  I sprinkled some sanding sugar on top.  I like to eat the ones out of the middle of the pan.   How about you? 

I served them for dessert for a weekend birthday celebration.  

It was 70 degrees here on Saturday and snowed yesterday for a white St. Patrick's Day.  I am soooo over the snow and cold.  I'm looking forward to warm temperatures and spring flowers!


March 13, 2014

A Baby Blanket

This blanket was fun and so easy.  It also knitted up fast.  It's four knitted triangles that I joined with a single crochet and picked up and knit a border around the edge.  The pattern is in the book wearwithall - Knits For Your Life.  (The pattern says to join with a mattress stitch).

I used I Love this Cotton yarn from the Hobby Lobby.  I really like this yarn.  It is ultra soft and knits up very nicely.  It comes in a large variety of colors and is perfect for a baby.  I have knitted a couple of sleeveless sweaters out of this yarn, and they turned out great!  It also happened to be on sale the day I bought it for this baby blanket.  I feel like for young mothers, the blanket needs to be able to be machine washed and line dried.

Awesomeness!  There is also a pattern for an adult-sized blanket knit with 16 triangles with different layout variations.  I am so going to knit it, as well, but I have way too many projects in my head and on the needles already.  My mind just goes a  million miles an hour about new projects every day!  I hope to make some for Christmas presents this year.  I better get busy!!


March 9, 2014

Broccoli Salad

In February, Cudjoe and I went to Destin for a week.  We stayed at the beautiful Sandestin Golf Resort.  While we were in Destin, we played golf, shopped, and ate out.  One morning while we were exploring around, we found a restaurant called Chicken Salad Chick.  So we stopped in there later for lunch.  It was delicious.  I had the Cranberry Kelli chicken salad and broccoli cheese soup.  Cudjoe had the Dixie Chick chicken salad and the broccoli salad.  The Cranberry Kelli chicken salad, according to their menu, is a mixture of dried, sweetened cranberries & slivered almonds.  The Dixie Chick, again according to their menu, is our "most offensive salad" definitely for the onion lover.  The chicken salad was seriously the best I have ever eaten.  

I tried a bite of Cudjoe's broccoli salad, and I have tried to recreate it.  

Here's how I did it:

I cut up broccoli into flowerettes and put them in a serving bowl.  I then added bacon that I cooked in the microwave oven and cut into pieces.  I then added shredded yellow cheddar cheese and white cheddar cheese.

For the salad dressing: 

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegarette
1/3 cup sugar
1 envelope Wish Bone Italian Dressing & Seasoning Mix

Whisk together in a bowl and pour over salad.  

Now I am not precise when I cook and perhaps I need to become more so.  I poured the dressing over the salad and mixed it together to my taste.  I did not use it all but kept it on hand to use later.

Serve to family and friends!


March 3, 2014

A Red-bellied Woodpecker

This guy was in our backyard during yet another winter storm here in southern Illinois yesterday morning with single digit temps this morning.  No work today and such a relief because I am not thrilled about driving in icy and snowy conditions.

He would sit in the tree, and then he would come to the feeder.  As I was watching him with my camera in hand, he did this several times.

He was pretty territorial.  There were other birds that would light on the feeder, but he would run them off.

This guy was waiting his turn, but  he  eventually gave up.    

He is a Red-bellied Woodpecker, even though his head is red, and his belly doesn't appear to be red to me.  Cudjoe likes to feed the birds.  It is neat seeing what kind will show up.  If he comes back today,  I'm sure to get better pictures of him because the sun is shining.  

Madame Spring, we are waiting for you!


March 2, 2014

Cowgirl Cookies

I love, love the show Unique Sweets on the Cooking Channel.  I was watching it this past Sunday night, and there was a cookie called a Cowgirl Cookie which was showcased.  It is a lot like a Monster Cookie or Kitchen Sink Cookie.  My grandmother used to make Monster cookies years and years ago.  I can remember my aunt and her making them together.

I make alot of chocolate chip cookies, by far more than any other cookie, and next sugar cookies.  I have never made Monster Cookies and had never heard of Cowgirl Cookies until now.

If this has inspired you to make these cookies, here's how I did it:

Cowgirl Cookies:

1-1/3 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of salt
1 cup cooking oats
3/4 cups m&ms
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup butter (melted slightly in the microwave)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, oats, brown sugar, and white sugar.  Mix in egg, butter, and vanilla.  Stir in m&ms and chocolate chips.  Scoop onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet with an ice cream scoop and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 18 minutes (depending on whether you like yours chewy or crispy).

Serve to family and friends or to lucky co-workers or mail-carriers!