Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sweet Sophie

Miss Sophie Pekich
1-3-96 -

Our hearts are very heavy right now, but we know she is dancing in kitty heaven with Mr. and Mrs. Bat.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Baking Thanks!

Since my last post I've been doing a whole lot of holiday baking and giving.  It's one of my most favorite things to do this time of year!  A lot of the recipes I've made are from fellow bloggers and I'd like to give a shout out and huge thanks to them all!

Two of my all time favorites are:

Joyce at Octoberfarm

I've made and enjoyed more recipes than I can count from both of these delightful ladies!  Do visit their blogs and see what goodies await you.

Each year I find new "foodie" blogs and discover new delectables to try.  This year I found more wonderful recipes to try thanks to...

April at Dimples and Delights 

Aimee at Sugary Sweets

Leanne at Leanne Bakes

Monica at Lick the Bowl Good

Jenny at The Picky Palate

Thanks so much, Ladies!  I look forward to many more great recipes from all of you!

Of course there are my regular blogging friends who always have something good cooking and are willing to share - you know who you are!  Both Mr. Squash and I give you all a huge thanks for sharing!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday Baking Begins!

My annual holiday baking dance has begun!  Actually, it began with making a dessert for Mr. Squash.  I try to keep him in homemade desserts most of the time - it's the least I can do for a fellow who brings me so much happiness!  However, last week I was short on time and decided to buy some cookies from a nearby bakery.  They were called Divinity Cookies and were they ever good!  I had to see if I could find and/or replicate the recipe.  I Googled Divinity cookies and found a recipe that had the exact same ingredients that were on the box of cookies!
Here's how they look finished - nearly identical in taste and looks as the ones from the bakery!  The recipe is very simple:

2 1/2 cups Crisco (do not use butter)
1 1/2 lbs. powdered sugar
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 lb. chopped walnuts.

Mix all ingredients together in the order given and roll into logs.  Cut pieces and bake at 350 degrees until edges turn light color.

Now, I learned the hard way that it's easier to split the recipe in two unless you're really strong.  Not even my Viking stand mixer with the huge motor could have gotten through these.  I wound up dumping the whole thing on my sealed butcher block counter and pounding away at it by hand!
Look at the mess!
My counters don't normally look this disastrous when I'm baking!  For lack of any other instructions, I decided to refrigerate the rounds for about an hour, then using my Santoku knife, I cut them in about 1/2" thick slices.  Then I placed them on parchment lined cookie sheets (they don't spread so you can put them close together).  There were no baking times given, but I can say mine took about 25 minutes.  I'd check every 10 minutes or so and rotate the cookie sheets.

They turned every bit as good as the ones from the bakery!
Since I was on a roll (hah, pun not intended), I thought I would whip up a batch of Fantasy Fudge from the Jet-puff marshmallow creme jar!  My mom made these when we were young - the recipe has been around for a long time!  These are the ingredients that are added after you first.....
Bring butter, sugar and evaporated milk to the soft ball stage of 234 degrees.  In the picture above this is homemade Uganda Vanilla that I just received from a dear friend whose been making homemade vanilla for a while now!  It smells so yummy!
I had intended to show you all the steps to this, but I'd forgotten how much stirring and moving fast after the stirring there is!  There was no time for pictures until the end!  The fudge here is still warm with that wonderful, buttery sheen on top!  I'll cut it into squares after it cools.

I hope you're having as much fun with your holiday baking as I am!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My One and Only PIP Finish & Decorations

Stephanie over at Loft Creations has had a PIP challenge this year.  PIP stand for "Projects in Progress".  Being a finish what I start gal, I was reluctant to join in, but one of Stephanie's "non-rules" was: "No rules, no sign-ups, no
contract signed in blood."
Those were my kind of rules!  And you never know, I could very well have wound up with a Project In Progress for 2012.  So I signed up and as it turns out, I did have a PIP!  This Block of the Month was a thorn in my side from the get-go, and I never thought I would finish it this year, but I did!  
Thanks to Mr. Squash who acquired some clothesline rope for me, I was able to display the quilt between our Junipers and use my vintage clothespins!  I quilted it using Quilter's Dream Wool batting which I just love for showing off the quilting - plus it washes and dries well and is oh, so cozy!  I'm happy to finally put this one to bed and check off my PIP list!  Many thanks to Stephanie for hosting a fun challenge!
I am camera challenged around our house.  For some reason the lighting isn't all that great - we have a lot of competition with our picture windows and very wide eaves.  But I decided to show you some of our holiday decorations. We got a smallish tree this year and I decided to use my "nature theme" this Christmas.  I've been collecting nature-related decorations for a few years now and actually had enough for the entire tree this year!

Of course what would Christmas be without a holiday quilt in the living room?  This is one of my very early quilts. My friend Carrie over at A Passion for Applique made me that darling little Christmas pillow one year.
Here is my entry way quilt rack.  I made a backing for this table topper so it can be left up even after Christmas.  Who knows if we'll get any snow - it's been a very warm fall so far.
Here is the fireplace.  There is a stocking for both Mr. Squash and I and of course a little one for Miss Sophie!
Mr. Squash's sister got us this beautiful, hand carved and painted St. Nicolas on a trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, one year.
Very simple table decorations.  I'll add some fresh fir from the yard for dinner on Christmas Day!
Kaaren over at the Painted Quilt has made some gorgeous fresh arrangements for her house.  She gave me the inspiration to try some of my own.  I haven't got much talent for this, but I'll keep trying!
I put together this one for the front porch.  Both are made of clippings from around the yard and from our Christmas tree.

I hope everyone is enjoying the season so far, I know we are!