Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Eve

Do you have big plans for New Years Eve? We don't. Which is more than fine.

We'll probably be in bed by 10pm. After seeing the blue moon, of course.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pioneer Woman's Beans and Cornbread

I had previously said I planned to cook every recipe in the Pioneer Woman's cookbook. Little did I know that I fixed one last weekend -- pinto beans!

Her recipe (page 101) is identical to how I learned to cook beans from my Mama when I was a young girl.

They sure tasted good with fried potatoes and cornbread last Sunday. A bowl of leftovers for lunch Wednesday was mighty tasty also!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The American Woman's Cookbook (1942) - Table Service - Order of Service

As I mentioned previously, from time to time I will share tidbits from "The American Woman's Cookbook" (1942 edition) with you.
From page 80:

ORDER OF SERVICE:
In many houses the hostess is served first. This is a relic of the old custom of taking it for granted that the giver of the feast prove the absence of poison by first tasting of the food or drinking of the beverage! Some hostesses too justify this custom by maintaining that, when complicated foods are served, the hostess indicates to her guests the methods by which they can most conveniently serve themselves.

However, the custom of serving the honor guest first is growing, and many hostesses now insist on giving the chief guest this additional compliment.

The former custom of serving all the ladies first and the gentlemen afterward is no longer in vogue, for this method consumed too much time and delayed the service. Now guests are served in the order in which they are seated, usually beginning with the honor guest or the hostess and proceeding to the right.

Hmmm, usually at our house we just tell everyone to dig in!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sunday After Christmas

Sunday was a repeat of Saturday for us, pretty much.

The Husband did get out and clean more of the snow and ice from our sloped driveway. He had enough snow melt to make it safe for us to get in the car.

We drove to the hardware store and bought MORE snow melt and then went to the grocery store.

Both of us were content to not venture any farther today. We must be getting old, if we are so nervous about the roads!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Saturday After Christmas

What did you do on the Saturday after Christmas?

Did you go shopping? Did you go to the movies? Or, did you do as we did and stay in your warm house?

The Husband and I enjoyed the day by sleeping late, reading the newspaper, reading our novels, napping, football on TV (of course) and a load or two of laundry.

It's been stress free and perfect! It is very possible that Sunday will be more of the same!

I hope your day was great...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas To All !!!

We had a fun Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.

We stayed overnight at The Sister and Brother-in-Law's house, which worked out well because 1) Tulsa had a blizzard and driving conditions were treacherous and 2) we were present for all the activities with the nieces. Such as:

Putting out reindeer food in the blizzard on Christmas Eve. Baby L enjoyed this.
Big Sister A enjoyed it too.
Tracking Santa via Uncle Steve's phone:
Uncle Steve found Santa's "Naughty or Nice List" on the internet! Reading your name on the "Nice List" = priceless!
Taking a photo with your "Elf on a Shelf" also = priceless. Billy and Wayne borrowed Barbie's car for this photo op!
Meeting Mommy and Daddy's elves, Harry and Jewel. Also, priceless.Christmas morning excitement began with the stockings!
And ended with Uncle Steve putting together the big Princess Castle.
Remember that blizzard I mentioned earlier? Christmas morn we slowly and cautiously made our way home on the snow covered streets. An unexpected gift on the drive home was seeing an eagle in flight near the river.

At home, The Husband had to get out the old shovel...
Because our car would not make it up our snow covered, sloped drive.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good afternoon nap!

I hope your Christmas was filled with fun and your families are all safe...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Elf On The Shelf

The Nieces are SO excited about Christmas.

Their "elves on the shelf" are named Billy and Wayne. (Their maternal grandfather's first and middle names.)

The girls asked their parents: "Do you have elves?"

The answer is: "Yes, we do."

The next question: "What are their names?"

The answers are: "Harry and Jewel." (Paternal great-grandfather's name and maternal Grandmother's name.)

The nieces ask: "Why have we never seen them?"

The answer is: "Because we are grown up."

The girls ask: "Even if you are grown up, can they come see you?"

The answer is: "Yes, they can."

And we know this to be true, because Harry and Jewel appeared with Billy and Wayne this week. OMG!

The next question from the nieces: "Do Uncle Steve and Aunt Cindy have elves?"

Who knows?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Party All Week (Seems Like!)

I am not sure we will be cooking at home this week:
  • We ate out Monday night, just the two of us.
  • We will be out with friends on Tuesday night.
  • Okay, I guess Wednesday is a possibility to cook at home.
  • Thursday is Christmas Eve and we will be at my sister's house.
  • Friday is Christmas and we will be at The Husband's brother's house.
I'm thinking this is working well for me!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The American Woman's Cookbook (1942) - Table Service - Styles of Service

I am drawn to old cookbooks at estate sales, flea markets and antique shops. I just can't help myself.

It's not recipes I enjoy so much, it's all the other informaton included in the books that fascinates me. Information on how to set-up and manage your household, table settings and service, daily menus, as well as party or holiday menus.

And my favorite bits of advice are how to be a good hostess in this new "servantless" era in which we find ourselves.

From time to time I will share tidbits from "The American Woman's Cookbook" (1942 edition) with you. The purpose of this is:
  1. to provide a peek into a style of life that is now long gone (at our house anyway)
  2. give us an opportunity to learn something new (old, I should say) about dining customs
  3. perhaps inspire us to do things differently in our own home on occasion
Following text found on page 79:

TABLE SERVICE
Styles of Service

There are three styles of service:
RUSSIAN: In this style of service all the food is served from the kitchen, by attendants. The host and hostess take no part in the service. No food is put on the table except the decorating dishes of nuts, candy and fruits. The food may be placed in individual portions before the guest, or may be separated into portions and arranged on serving dishes for each guest to help himself.
ENGLISH OR FAMILY TYPE: In this service all the food is served at the table by the host, hostess, or both.
COMBINATION OR MIXED SERVICE: In this service the main course is usually served at the table, while the soup, salad and dessert are served from the kitchen. Sometimes, the salad is served from a large salad bowl, and the hostess serves the dessert at table.

I vote for the Russian style tonight at my house!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

How Do You Bring Your Groceries Home?

For the past few years, The Husband and I have endeavored to be more green by recycling.

We have also trained ourselves to keep cloth bags in our vehicles. When we go to the grocery store, we take the bags in to be used for sacking our groceries.

We don't always take the cloth bags into stores like Target or the drug store, but we often walk out of those stores carrying our purchases sans disposable bag.

It's amazing how this change in behavior has reduced the number of paper and plastic sacks that come into our home!

How do you bring your groceries (or other purchases) home? In a plastic or paper sack? If yes, can you make a small change in your routine and keep cloth bags in your vehicle to use when shopping?

You'd be amazed at how quickly you will become accustomed to taking in your own bags to a store. I promise!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Buy Where You Shop

This article really struck a chord with me.

No one disputes that on-line shopping is frequently less expensive and much less stressful than patronizing local shops. But the point of the article is, it is not fair to shop owners for consumers to use their services, only to order the product on-line to save a few bucks. In these situations, a lot of times the small local shops close due to lack of business. The author encouraged consumers to think of the long term implications of losing the small, local shops.

Another very important point is the loss of local sales tax revenue. Just look at the cutbacks the City of Tulsa has experienced in 2009 due to diminished sales tax revenue. Friday's Tulsa World article discussing the lay off up to 120 firemen and possibly closing existing fire stations in early 2010 was disturbing. Think about public safety. Who will fight our fires? Who will be first responders to accidents and illnesses?

The Fire Department will not be the only department experiencing an impact. The Police Department will suffer cutbacks also, due to diminished local sales tax revenue. Think about public safety. Who will chase the bad guys? Who will patrol our streets?

I'm an on-line shopper, make no mistake about it. But, I intend to think twice about shopping on-line until Tulsa's budget crisis is resolved.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Bleah

I spent Thursday in bed.

A stomach bug during the holidays is always fun.

Bleah...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

First Grade "Winter Party"

I helped my sister (the homeroom mom) with the "Winter Party" Wednesday for the 6 year old niece's first grade class.

Oh. My.

A room full of first graders certainly has a lot of energy.

The kids all had fun. They started off by painting salt dough ornaments to take home and ended up frosting their own sugar cookie for consumption in the classroom, along with grapes and apples

Stockings and gift bags were also bestowed and the kids were happy to get purple glue sticks, crayons, pencils, etc.

Good memories for the kids were made today!

P.S. More fun for me on Thursday...I think I'm going to the 4 year old niece's "Winter Luncheon."

P.S.S. I realize this blog has been focused on recipes, parties and kids in the last few weeks. Not that there's anything wrong with that! However, I will try to provide some different topics in the next few days...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Monday, Monday...

I had a great Monday.

I took my Mom to lunch at Nelson's Ranch House. We both had chicken fried steak, with great side dishes. Mmmmm good! And, of course, we both ordered a piece of pie. She took home coconut cream pie and I took home chocolate pie. Again, mmmmm good!

This evening, Mom and I went to Miller Swim School to help my sister with her daughters before and after their lessons. Those girls have learned so much and are going to be great swimmers. Good for them!

I hope to finish the Christmas cards on Tuesday. Fingers crossed, people!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Love is...

Love is going to Chuck E. Cheese at 10am on Saturday morning for the baby niece's 4th birthday party.

When my sister told me she had scheduled the party at CEC, I moaned. Approximately 20 years ago we went there with friends and their young children one Friday evening and I had a mini nervous breakdown. At least, I have always sworn it was a mini nervous breakdown!

My sister told me to "buck up" and get myself to CEC Saturday morning like a big girl. I did. It wasn't bad at 10am. It was fairly calm.

Here's how I found Baby L when I arrived.
Baby L and Big Sister A even sat quietly in this thing-a-majig for a few minutes.
Here's Baby L and one of her little friends in a car ride.
Baby L with her Princess cake.
Look at that face. I couldn't have missed the party. Even Uncle Steve made a brief appearance!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Betty Crocker Does More Than Bake!

She irons!

And I have proof!
I am now the proud owner of "The Betty Crocker Guide to Easy Ironing", which is a 33 page booklet that answers all of our ironing questions.

Two pages are devoted to dampening. Remember when your mother or grandmother dampened clothes before ironing them? My mom used an oversize glass Pepsi bottle with a nozzle. Once the clothes were dampened, she would roll them tightly and place them in a plastic bag until she ironed them later in the day.

I wish I had that old Pepsi bottle...

I don't know when this booklet was published, but there are instructions on how to hang laundry on an outside clothes line to dry and minimize wrinkles. Which would then minimize ironing. I'm guessing clothes dryers were not common when this booklet was published.

Instructions are included on how best to iron blankets, brassieres, foundation garments, nightgowns, pajamas, sheets, underwear, towels, veils, plus many, many other items. (As a matter of note, I do not believe I have EVER ironed any of the aforementioned items in my lifetime.)

So far, my favorite piece of advice from the booklet is this:

"Choose a cheerful spot for your weekly ironing--but don't feel you must stick to it. It's where you want to iron, not where you think you should iron, that counts." (italics theirs)

So, good readers, I have the answers to your ironing questions. Not only about how to iron a variety of items, but the ironing accessories you require to do a great job.

Send me your burning questions on ironing and I will be happy to provide Betty Crocker's answers to you!

P.S. There does not seem to be a section devoted to dry cleaners? What???

P.S.S. Do you think Martha Stewart collects these types of old booklets?

Friday, December 11, 2009

One Last Post About our Christmas Open House

I just finished the official "after action review" of our Christmas open house.

For those of you who haven't spent recent time in Corporate America, an "after action review" is the analysis of an event to determine what went well and what did not go well. The goal is to document the review findings so the next time the event occurs, any problems are not repeated and all successes are repeated or improved upon.

Obviously, Corporate America still influences me.

So, my party book now contains all the notes on the guest list, food, beverages, glass rentals, household preparation/help and party set-up.
For the 2010 party, all I have to do is open the book!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

As The World Stops

I can't believe the World is going to stop in September, 2010.

I grew up with my grandmother and mother watching As The World Turns. I must confess, I have watched it off and on for all of my 50 years.

This is a tragedy* for ATWT fans, just like it was for Guiding Light fans when that show ended this year.

Whatever will we do without ATWT? Where I could occasionally be tempted into watching the show, I certainly will not be tempted to watch any game shows, reality shows or talk shows that may be scheduled to replace it.

*Tragedy might be too strong a word to describe this situation. However, it will be like losing really good neighbors when the show is gone.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree

I promised a few pictures of our porch Christmas tree that was decorated by family, friends and neighbors during our party.

The full tree:
Close up #1
Close up #2The tree looks spectacular both during the day and at night, when the lights are on.

Thanks to everyone who participated!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Second Annual Powell Porch Party

In 2008, The Husband and I began hosting a Christmas open house for family, friends and neighbors. Our second party was held this past Sunday.

The purpose of the party is to come together, have fun and paint salt dough ornaments to decorate the Christmas tree on our front porch.

Below, the art table awaits the artists.
The Eddins family creating several masterpieces.
Family and friends working hard.
Friends and neighbors continue the efforts.
We had about 40 people at the party, resulting in a great variety of ornaments.

Our Christmas tree looks great! I'll post photos soon.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Sheet Cake

I cooked a number of things on Saturday in preparation for our annual Christmas open house on Sunday.

I used the Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Sheet Cake recipe to make cupcakes. The recipe is found on pages 218-220 in The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

May I just say, "Oh my goodness. Such rich, rich, rich, sinful, chocolate taste. May I have another, please?"

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made Chocolate Chip Cookies on Friday.

The recipe is one I copied from an old cookbook of my mother's when I was a young teen.

My older brother loved these cookies. He used to pay me $10 to make a triple batch of them for him. It was a great way for me to earn money before I got my first job!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon soda
1 package chocolate chips

Mix all ingrediants together except for flour and baking soda. Sift flour and baking soda together, then mix with other ingredients. Add chocolate chips.

Bake at 325 until light brown.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Grocery Store...

I avoided the grocery store on Wednesday afternoon.

Why, you ask?

I have no idea, I answer.

I had a very detailed list of what I needed. I planned to go to my local grocery store. The weather was good. Why could I not get motivated and out of the house?

Hopefully, I am not developing agoraphobia.

I left the house tonight with The Husband to shop at Sam's, Hobby Lobby and the liquor store.

Maybe I just didn't want to go to the grocery store by myself?

I'm going tomorrow, promise.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Excitement Before Noon

Two exciting things happened Wednesday morning:
  1. The plumber completed installation of our new tankless hot water heater. It will be more energy efficient and we will qualify for a tax credit this year, plus we will never run out of hot water!
  2. The plumber helped The Husband remove the old, dead refrigerator from the basement that has been taking up space for over a year. YIPPEEEEEEEE!!! The Husband just made arrangements for the City of Tulsa to pick it up next week and take it away.
Two items off our "to do" list! Go us!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009