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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tell me. . . .

Where does time go? It was just here a second ago.

What happens to plan you make? Seriously!

I have lots of ideas and projects in my mind that I want to do, but it seems they don't get done and I really have no excuse. I don't have a job, I don't go anywhere, I don't have family nearby. I really don't have any demands on my time at all. And maybe that is the problem. I often seem to get things done when under pressure. Now it is so easy to procrastinate, and as I have said before, I am a pro when it comes to that.

I need to take some pictures of all the things I want to show you, but I need a flat surface that is cleaned off to do that. Oops. Don't have one. . . yet.

I have a tall stack of things I want pictures of, and it seems to just get taller instead of smaller. Oops.

In years past I always wanted to start the new year with a clean house. It hasn't happened since my husband died, and it isn't going to happen this year, unless I get myself off this chair and get busy. And that isn't going to happen today. It is already almost 3 pm as I write this. I know probably most of you are thinking there is still plenty of time to get things done. I just don't work well after dark anymore, unless it is on the computer or in front of the TV as I watch my favorite shows. My computer time seems to be eaten up by genealogy for the last while, and checking email, Facebook, daily crossword/sudoku/cryptogram/numbrix. By the time I get that all done my eyes are burning and I am ready for a nap and/or coffee and a snack.

Right now there are 3 very thick, heavy, old photo albums at the bottom of that tall stack. Then another smaller album that my mother put together that has some info for genealogy, and a very old scrapbook of hers that is falling apart and paper deteriorating. I want to share some of that with you, including picture. And then there is my old cookbook that I have been getting old favorite recipes to give you. I could keep adding lists of things I want to show you but you will have to be patient.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Another easy Christmas goody - and it is gluten free

If you need some last minute treats for the holidays, give this one a try. I came across this recipe in a local newspaper's holiday recipe roundup section 3 years ago. I will warn you they are addictive! I made them when my daughter and family were coming last year as she has a wheat allergy.

The title of the recipe is simply --


1 large bag Frito Scoops
1 cup white sugar
1 cup white corn syrup
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons peanut butter (divided)
12 ounces chocolate chips

Lay Scoops in bottom of jellyroll pan.

Boil sugar and corn syrup for 1 minute. Take off stove and add 1 cup peanut butter. Mix well and spoon into scoops.

Melt chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons peanut butter. Pour on top of scoops.

Refrigerate until chocolate sets.

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Here is an alternate way to make these snacks.


1 family size bag Fritos corn chips
1 cup white syrup
1 cup white sugar
1 cup peanut butter

Spread Fritos in cookie sheet.

Combine syrup, sugar and peanut butter in a heavy saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Drizzle over corn chips, then melt 6 ounces chocolate chips, 1/2 cup peanut butter and 1/2 cup butterscotch chips. Drizzle over all.

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I started out like the first recipe and tried filling the scoops, but got tired of it and drizzled the rest. It all tastes the same. Yum! Yum!

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Here is another quick recipe I have not tried yet but it sounds like something I would like. If you need wheat free - be aware that most soy sauces do contain some wheat so be sure to check labels.


2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups toasted pecan halves

Preheat oven to 325 F. degrees.

In large glass bowl, microwave butter or margarine to melt. Stir in Tabasco sauce, soy sauce and salt. Stir in pecans. Toss to coat.

Pour onto large cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes, turning occasionally. Allow to cool completely.

Store in airtight container.

Look what I found

Today I have been scanning some old documents so that I have a record of them in case something happens to them. I also want to upload some of those to my family tree on Ancestry.com. I have my dad's baptism and confirmation certificate booklets, parent's marriage certificate booklet, and there are my baptism, confirmation and first marriage certificate booklets too.

As I was going through these, still in their original envelopes, I found another treasure. My mom had the foresight to insert a lovely letter from my grandmother - her mother - that she sent me for my confirmation! I did not remember it being there, or even receiving it. Isn't that sad? But that was way back in 1956.

I did not know my grandmother Ada very well. I had only seen her 3 times in my life since she lived in California and we lived here in Iowa. I went with my parents shortly after Christmas when I was 4 years old, driving of course. Flying was not done very much by the general public back then, probably because it was too expensive for the average person. And there were 3 of us. So we drove out there. I don't remember the actual trip, but I do remember Grandma and her house, and that she made me drink coconut water because I didn't feel very good. I had never seen a coconut before, other than shredded in a bag.

My second trip was with my mom and her sister from Illinois, and we rode the train. That was exciting and I loved the whole trip, and getting to eat in the dining car. I remember I ordered cold cereal for breakfast one morning and they brought rich cream to pour over it instead of milk! No, I did not like it. I grew up drinking whole milk but not straight cream. The next time we knew we had to order a glass of milk that we could pour over the cereal. It the cereal had been hot - like oatmeal or cream of wheat - the cream would have been okay. I think. I know it would be today but not sure if I would have liked it then.

And the last trip was with my parents and Mom's sister and her husband (from Illinois) in the summer of 1957. That was also a driving trip and I remember some of the towns where we spent the night in a motel along the way. I even found some pictures taken of those motels and I might share them in a later post. They looked a little different than the chain motels now.

But, back to that letter from Grandma. Here are the pictures of it. I am not sure you will be able to read it, but will try to make it large enough to read. She mentions sending some gifts. She loved to sew and would often send me some clothes she had made for me, and often sent doll clothes she made and a pieced doll quilt that my daughter now has. I gave it to her when she had her first daughter.

The letter means more to me now than I think it did at the time I got it. I was only 13 years old and barely knew 'this woman'. After I have learned more about her in doing the genealogy, I realize how awesome this woman was. I just wish I had the chance to know her much better.

I don't remember what gifts she sent me, and wish I did. Maybe I will run across a picture taken with them some day. Part of it must have been some clothing she made. I also think she sent me a hat - the kind that all proper ladies and young women wore to church on Sunday mornings - and wouldn't be seen dead in them today. LOL I don't know if there was one in the confirmation gift box though.

This has been a fun day of reminiscing for me. I hope you enjoyed it as well.

Friday, December 20, 2013

"Not All Empty"

You know about good intentions, don't you? I had the intention of writing this yesterday . . . . but here we are, a day later. And maybe there was a reason for it, since this is about a devotion I read, and I usually post things about faith of Faith Friday. So what is today? Friday.

I was reading a daily devotional for December 18 in the current "Our Daily Bread". It was meaningful to me, especially at this time of year when many of us might struggle with being alone for Christmas. My family all live a distance away and it rarely works out that they are able to be here for holidays. I am okay with that since I am a bit of a loner, but it is still always nice to have your family around at this time of year. We all dream of having the 'perfect' Christmas, but that rarely happens in real life, just in movies and pictures.

This devotion shows how profound children are. We need to listen (and really 'hear') to what they say. Here is the devotion based on Psalm 107:9:

Our granddaughter Julia spent the summer working in an orphanage in Busia, Uganda. On the final day of her internship, she went to the children to tell each one goodbye. One little girl named Sumaya was very sad and said to her, "Tomorrow you leave us, and next week the other aunties (interns) leave."
When Julia agreed that she was indeed leaving, Sumaya thought for a minute and exclaimed, "But we will be all empty. None of you will be left!" Again, Julia agreed. The little girl thought a few moments and replied: "But God will be with us, so we won't be all empty."

If we are honest with ourselves, we know that "all empty" feeling. It is an emptiness that friendship, love, sex, money, power, popularity, or success can never assuage -- a longing for something indefinable, something incalculably precious but lost. Every good thing can remind, beckon, and awaken in us a greater desire for that elusive "something more." The closest we get is a hint, an echo in a face, a painting, a scene . . . And then it is gone. "Our best havings are wantings," said C. S. Lewis.

We were made for God, and in the end, nothing less will satisfy us. Without Him, we are all empty. He alone fills the hungry with good things (Ps. 107:9)  -- by David Roper

"He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness." -- Psalm 107:9

Prayer -- Dear Lord, fill me with Your goodness and love. I desire nothing in heaven and earth but You. Without You, I have nothing. Thank You for the abiding satisfaction that we can find in You.
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God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself because it is not there.   --- C. S. Lewis

Christmas is more than Santa Claus and presents, Christmas trees, lights and tinsel, candy canes and sugar cookies. There would never have been a Christmas at all if it weren't for the greatest gift of all -- the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. If Christ isn't in Christmas, the holiday that bears His name, then there is no Christmas.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Candy Cane Hearts

Here is another simple idea that showed up on Facebook.

There are several ways these could be embellished. I think adding some crushed candy canes to the chocolate would be nice. Or sprinkle nuts on the chocolate before it sets up. Use sprinkles, write names with red icing, red and green mini M&Ms.

Tell me what you added!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Favorite Candy Bar Recipe

This was recently posted on Facebook by a friend because she wanted to be able to find it back. This recipe is quite similar to one that I have made for many years. My family has always loved Twin Bing candy bars. You can't buy them everywhere, as my kids have found out. They are made by Palmer Candy Co. in Sioux City, Iowa. My kids like to load up on them when they get back to this area, but I have found out they can be ordered by the boxful online now. You do have to be aware that they do not ship them in the summer for obvious reasons!

But if you don't want to go to that expense, we would often make these bars at home, especially during the holidays. The recipe connected to the picture above is found at this link:

They compare them to the Cherry Mash candy bar, which is a little bit like the Twin Bing - but we think the Twin Bings are much better. I have not used this recipe myself but the one I have used for years is quite similar.

Here is my recipe:


2 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
dash of salt
12 marshmallows (regular size)
1/2 cup margarine
1 package (6 ounces) cherry chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 package (12 ounces) chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 package (large) crushed salted peanuts

Combine sugar, milk, salt, marshmallows and margarine in saucepan over medium heat. Boil five minutes. Remove from heat. Add cherry chips and vanilla. Pour into 9x13 inch buttered pan. Melt chocolate chips in double boiler (today I use microwave). Add peanut butter and crushed peanuts. Spread over cherry mixture and chill.

This is candy and rich, so you will want to cut in small pieces, similar to how you would cut fudge.

I know it is sometimes hard to find the cherry chips. They can also be found online although one place is already out of stock.  As the contributor of the recipe on Food.com states, she found them at her super Walmart, next to the chocolate chips. In other stores I have found them with the holiday baking supplies display. Some stores only order them for the holidays. If you can't find them this season, keep them in mind for next year, or find a relative or friend that lives in the Midwest who will send you some.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells

It is December. One whole week is already gone! Only 2 1/2 weeks until Christmas!! Oh my! Is it time to panic yet? For us procrastinators, it probably is. I admire the organized and disciplined women who start their holiday preparations very early and orderly. That is not me! I can't even think of things until the last minute. I have tried using holiday planners such as the Flylady has available. And I just found a holiday planner that Peter Walsh has put online, and signed up on that site, and there are Yahoo groups devoted to organized planning schedules to get ready for the holidays. But I either never seem to get started or I fizzle out long before I get done. Shame on me. I just can't seem to stay focused. I often read a blog called A Slob Comes Clean. Maybe I should call this blog - A Procrastinator Fesses Up ??

I am going to change things up a bit here for December, and not follow my daily theme schedule. Instead I will do as several other bloggers are doing and do some things dealing with Christmas.

As I was looking through a couple of my cookbooks, looking for a recipe for 7 layer bars, I saw a couple of cookie recipes I had cut out of newspapers, pasted in the cookbook, and wrote "good for Christmas" beside them. Actually one said "Excellent for Christmas". They are simple recipes and very good. I will start with the 'good for Christmas' cookies. I apologize for not having any pictures of cookies I made, and most likely won't have any, since I am not making anything for the holidays. I have no reason to. I have no family coming, that I know of, and I certainly don't need to eat them all. I might make something to add to a gift basket I am thinking about, but we will see if I get that far.


Cream 1/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Add 2/3 cup flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1 beaten egg, pinch salt and 1/2 cup sesame seeds. Drop by spoonfuls on greased and floured baking sheet. Bake 8 minutes at 375.

TIP: Did you know that you should keep sesame seeds in the fridge? They can get rancid otherwise. Poppy seeds should also be kept in the fridge. I never knew that several years ago.

Next is the "Excellent for Christmas" cookies -


Combine 1 cup butter, 3 tablespoons white sugar, 1 teaspoon almond flavoring, 2 cups flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Roll in balls and flatten with glass. Bake at 400 for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool. Frost with powdered sugar frosting, flavored with almond extract.

I just noticed as I typed that the original print says both almond flavoring and almond extract. I am sure they meant the same thing.

One more simple cookie for today -


Blend 1 egg and 1 cup sugar. Add 1 cup crunchy peanut butter. Drop by teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheet. Top each cookie with a chocolate star. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Yes - there is no flour in the recipe! That is not a mistake. This is good for those who have wheat allergies or must eat gluten free. This recipe has been around long before anyone heard of gluten free. You will have to make sure there is no gluten in the chocolate and peanut butter, however.

Sweet eating!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Plowing in Iowa in 1924

This is how it was done in 1924 - a pair of horses pulling a plow, with the man sitting on the plow seat, holding the horse reins. You can't get a very good idea what the plow looks like here, but I am guessing it is probably what was called a two-bottom plow. That means it had 2 blades that turned over the soil. You can get a little bit of an idea how deep they went.

What is interesting about this picture is that the plowing was taking place on December 22! That is really late in the year for this area of the country as the ground is usually covered in snow by this time, as it is this year. And there is a good possibility that the ground is frozen and impossible to plow, especially without the big machinery of today.

I found this picture of antique plows on the internet. I think the green one in the front row, right side is much like the one the man was using in the first picture. Also the next one to the left of the green one is close. Unfortunately, the seat is just out of the picture. They used the long lever to raise and lower the blades.

I don't think there is much plowing done today, unless they are breaking up new ground. Today most farmers do what is called minimum tillage which helps keep erosion from wind and water to a minimum. They use an implement called a disc. That is what it is made up with - big round, sharp discs that cut into the soil and cuts up the roots of the previous crop, preparing it for the next crop. This will often be done both after harvest in the fall and again in the spring to loosen the soil for planting the seeds. If the man in the picture were alive today, he would marvel at the huge farms and gigantic machinery that is being used today! You can see that the reason farms were small back then. The labor was intensive and slow, and there just wasn't the time or energy to work larger farms.

As farmers started buying more and more land to farm, the machinery had to get bigger and bigger. My dad picked corn with  a two or four-row picker. Today, corn is seldom picked in that way, even with a 10-row picker. Now it is done with a combine that has a corn head on it. I don't know how many rows that handles in one round. The combine not only 'picks' the corn but also shells it at the same time, which would also amaze the farmer in the picture.

I could go on and on about farming, even with my limited knowledge. These are just my observations over the years, of seeing what farmers are doing as I drive by. My basic knowledge comes from growing up on a small farm where my dad used both horses and a tractor for many of my younger years. He quit farming in 1959-60, if my memory serves right.

This is a small glimpse of the actual history of our land.