Wednesday, April 1

Potluck Favorites: Coconut Quick Bread

My husband is a registered nurse in a city hospital, and has been for over 15 years. His co-workers love potlucks. They have more potlucks than a church auxiliary. If a resident or nursing student moves on they throw up a sign up sheet in the break room. 

Over the years I have sent many dishes, desserts and breads with my husband on Potluck Days. The quick breads I bake are by far the most popular, but I always feel the need to mix it up with new recipes. Last week I used a recipe for lemon bread but changed the ingredients and came up with a coconut bread. It was a big hit, which means it's a keeper. Enjoy...




Coconut Quick Bread

Ingredients:
1 box white cake mix (18.5 ounces)
4 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 box coconut cream instant pudding (3.4 ounces)
1 cup light or regular sour cream
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two 8 inch bread pans with cooking spray or butter.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well. The batter will be thick. Spoon the batter into the bread pans, splitting evenly. Place the pans in the center of the middle rack, spacing several inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees. F. for 45 minutes or until done. A toothpick gently pushed into the top center of the loaf will come out clean when the loaf is finished baking. Cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes.  Use a knife around all of the edges, and gently pat the loaf to remove it from the pan. 

I cut off the ends (perfect for taste testing), then slice the remainder of the bread and place the slices on a platter. Wrap well with plastic wrap until it's time for the potluck. I usually bake the night before the event.

Notes: I'm making this again on Sunday, along with lemon bread, but I'm going to add in mini chocolate chips. It will be a nice treat, along with our brunch menu.

~Brenda

Wednesday, March 25

The Patience of Grandmothers



One day I was sitting on the couch, coloring with my grandson. I was "in the moment" with him. My mind wasn't chanting at me about the work I wasn't doing, or throwing problems at me that I needed to fix RIGHT then. I was coloring. 

Why is it easier to be patient as a grandmother? I think it's because we have watched our children grow into adults, and we KNOW how fast the time flies. I now know that those moments of play when it's just the two of us won't last long. The morning snuggles are precious because before we know it, toddlers become big kids. Sure, there are new wonders to discover together, and no diapers to change as kids mature, which is cool. Still, those first years are gone in a flash.  I've been through it three times and still can't believe how fast the time seems to fly. 

As a grandmother,  I don't take things for granted. I MAKE time to color, even though the laundry isn't finished, and the dishes don't wash themselves. I can do those chores on the days Little Man is with his mom or dad. 

Will I still have patience when I have two, or three, or six grandchildren? 

Bring it on.

~Brenda

Tuesday, June 10

The Best Laid Plans

Sometimes we plan things and despite everyone's best effort they change. While this can be frustrating, it can often have surprising results. Take my Mother's Day for instance- the plan was for my kids and my husband to spend the day preparing my new garden bed, and they had breakfast and dinner planned out so I could garden all day and not have to cook. It was a wonderful plan.

Saturday we found out that my husband's Uncle John, who has a pacemaker and has been on dialysis three times a day, had decided that he was tired and ready to stop fighting. He was in the hospital and his heart could stop in hours or days. We called my son who attends college in the city, and once he was able to get home we all climbed in my husband's truck and headed to the hospital, which was about two hours away. It wasn't the Mother's Day we had planned, but we were able to visit with John while he was awake and chatting with all of us about our lives and our plans. He hugged each one of us and told us he loved us before we left, which was a hard thing to do. I wouldn't have traded that time with him for anything.

Uncle John was the youngest in his family and was only 58. The doctors warned his kids that he would only live another year, but that was four years ago. His body was tired, and I think his soul was as well. Uncle John loved to chat with our boys, and always had a good word for all of us, along with a hug and a smile. I can't count how many times he brightened my day by just smiling and giving me a big hug when I was a bit down in the dumps.



Uncle John, in the picture above from a few years ago, loved making tamales with the Hyde family- it's something they started doing long before I married my husband. They make the dough from scratch, and grind roasted pork to place in the middle of the dough, all wrapped in a corn husk. It's a "by feel" recipe, and there is always a bit of "discussion" over how much seasoning to add to the dough and meat. I'm so glad I took pictures of the times we all gathered at my in-laws house to make tamales.

Uncle John died a week later after we visited him in the hospital, and it was a tough time for his family, especially his grandson who is 9 years old. When the minister asked if anyone wanted to say a few words, he ran up to the podium and told us how much he loved his grandpa and how he had been there for him all of his life. It was heartbreaking, yet precious.

This post has been waiting for me to finish it for a bit now. It was an emotional May with everything that was happening. We will all miss Uncle John, just as we still miss his wife, Aunt Marsha and his mom, Grandma Dorothy. I will always be thankful for their friendship, and the love they showed me during the last 25 years. All three of them took the time to learn that I was quiet when something was bothering me, and I knew when they asked me how I was doing they REALLY wanted to know. If I talked, they listened. If I needed a hug they gave me one.

I know they are at peace now, and while I'm grateful for that, I will never stop missing their hugs and smiles.


~Brenda

Monday, May 5

The Dandelion



You fight dandelions all weekend, and late Monday afternoon there they are, pert as all get out, in full and gorgeous bloom, pretty as can be, thriving as only dandelions can in the face of adversity. ~Hal Borland

Thursday, May 1

The Garden Projects Begin!

I had posted previously about moving landscaping blocks from the front yard to the back for a new herb bed. My husband moved the blocks just before a rain shower, with a little bit of "help" from our grandson.





Jace was convinced that grandpa was making him a new seating area:) He was also fascinated with grandpa's truck.  His Aunt Emily observed "He's such a boy!".



Now that the herb bed is in place we need to work up the soil, remove the sod and add more soil, then I'll transfer some plants and buy others. It's a start!

HOSES AND MORE HOSES...
My husband also took an hour or so out to make a holder for our hoses, which tend to lay tangled on the ground most of the garden season.  We have two faucets and a lot of property, so we have four hoses.  He used a scrap 4x4 (We have a lot of them leftover from things we took apart after moving out here.) and cut up another piece of scrap wood, then screwed it all together.  I will probably paint it at some point when he finishes building a small box that will set on top of the post to hold nozzles and sprinklers.


You can see our old post hole digger behind the post.  This is one tool we couldn't do without, and it was given to us years ago.  Remember, it's okay to be a moocher, especially when it comes to garden tools:)

~Brenda

Wednesday, April 30

Research on Altered Art

I've been researching supplies and techniques to creating altered art.  Now, it sounds like something that would be complicated, but it actually reminds me of collage fun for adults:)  Sure, it's a bit fancier and more involved but I realized one day that it's an art form made for me because I am creative, but cannot draw or paint to save my life.  I write.  I have a whimsical imagination.  I love taking inspiration from nature and my garden, which is why I love herbs so much.  When I look at altered art it reminds me of garden diaries I've seen with pen and ink or watercolor sketches, which I've always wished I could create. 

Many crafters use vintage photos, greeting cards or other paper combined with bit and pieces of cloth, buttons, ribbon and other textured items.  To say I collect all these things is a bit of an understatement.  I walked into my bedroom, opened the top drawer of my dresser, reached in and came out with these items:



Imagine that I've been collecting this type of thing for over 25 years and you get an idea of how much I love paper, cloth and ribbons.  

I've found over the years that the first step to starting new projects to research on how to do it as frugally as possible.  Since I'm on a tight budget I won't just walk into the nearest craft store and start buying supplies because that is a sure way to cut into money set aside for other things.  This is what I found out so far:

1. Gesso is the paint type medium that altered art crafters use to cover whatever object they are turning into art.  It's sort of like a chalky white paint that can be sanded.   So far I've found two recipes to make it at home.  Once I try them out I'll blog on the results.

2. Anything can be altered, and most of the items used are easy to find and free such as:  small boxes, old books, frames, notebooks, cardboard, etc.

3.  What about paint?  I did some looking around the last week and found some sources:  Goodwill, a local closeout store, dollar stores,  yard and church sales and my husband's garage:)  All of the projects I found online used different types of paint, markers, and sometimes words printed from a printer or cut out from books.

4.  As I've been researching I started thinking of things I know I have in the basement that would be perfect to use in projects:

-Old Dictionary that has lost it's spine.  The pages would be great as background for projects.
-A pile of old magazines from the 20's to the 40's
-A tub of lace, ribbon and other leftover crafting supplies
-Various old calenders, notebooks and journals
-Old greeting cards
-Fabric and clothing that can be rescued for buttons and/or the fabric itself
-Puzzle and game pieces

My goal is to start with projects that I can give as gifts and use for decorating.  Once I decide how much I like it, the cost of the pieces, and how much time is involved I'll consider making some to sell.  

I will also work on starting a blog list with tutorials, and a Pintrest board.

~Brenda