Search This Blog

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Shark Pencil Holder for Kyle

Since there is only about a week before school starts I decided I'd better make the time to put together this shark pencil holder for my grandson, Kyle.  I got the idea from a facebook post my friend, Colleen, had forwarded to me..She is a fan of Kyle and thought he'd get a kick out of it for his pencils.  It's a free pattern at  The basic pattern is easy, but the zipper that fits in the mouth to shut it is NOT easy.  The directions given don't help much.  If you have a way to put it in without the directions version, I'd say GO FOR IT.  I had to rip it out and then put it in sort of like an invisible zipper method and that at least worked, but not easily.  He loves it though and thinks it's cool, so glad I made the ONE and only for him.  Another success story as far as he goes anyway which makes me a happy grandma!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Spaghetti Salad

My daughter, Kim, made this salad yesterday for a gigantic pig roast they were going to and, since I hadn't had it for months, starting craving it.  Needless to say, when I went to Walmart last night I bought the ingredients and made it this morning!  I have absolutely no will power when it comes to yummy food in case you haven't noticed..Here's how I make it..


8-12 ounces of angel hair pasta, broken in half, and cooked according to directions to el dente stage, drain, rinse with cold water.   Set aside.

In the meantime: Prepare veggies and Pepperoni:

Dice up:
About 1 cup of fresh broccoli (I only use the heads-more tender-and measure after you have cut up to make the 1 cup).

1 large or 2 small tomatoes that have been is how I seed them..just cut them in fourth and using a small spoon to scoop out the seeded area.  then dice up the flesh.

1/2 of a large cucumber that has also been de-seeded and diced

1 large carrot sliced thinly (I like to cut on the diagonal for appearance), or you can also use the baby carrots and just do the same with about 6 or so of them.

Pepperoni to your preference.  I used about 3/4 of a bag of slices and then chopped them smaller, but you can also use a whole back of the mini pepperoni.  They are more expensive though so I just did the chopping.

Toss it all together with 4 Tablespoons of McCormick Salad Supreme, or make you own recipe from this's cheaper and the spices in it will be around usually in your kitchen and if you have to purchase them they last a long time for other recipes or to make more batches.  One of these batches is perfect for the recipe.  

Then add 1 cup of Italian can add a little more if it soaks in too much when you serve it.  I like to use this type because it tastes good and is less calories/fat.  I really like the "house" Italian dressings in general..not as bitey to me.

Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving so it does soak into the ingredients.  Hope you like it as much as we do!



Saturday, August 16, 2014

"Girls" weekend, camping at Bunker Hills Activity Center

I'm finally done, after 3 hours, of cleaning the camper good for the first time since the trip from hell last winter down south! I somehow had managed to pull out all the bedding etc and wash that up after we came back, but the rest of it needed a good wash down and had to make the bed up again. brought in all the silverware etc to throw in the dishwasher and it will be ready to take for the "girls" camping weekend starting tomorrow. whew! now to clean myself up and go get the ...groceries to stock it up. While I was in there is took some pictures of two of the throws I made about 10 years ago for in there that I also had washed. When I made them I wasn't that impressed with them, just something to put in the camper for naps and extra covering (I have a big one on the bed too that I didn't photograph), but you know what? they have grown on me so thought I'd take a picture of them for you. the darker one is a yellow brick road pattern and the mauve and cream one is an Irish chain..Now to get cleaned up myself and hit the road for the groceries to stock it up with..more pictures of the trip to follow once they happen!

We're back from the Bunker HIlls camping trip with the girls. Thanks everyone who hoped for good weather for us! We were in a pocket where it only rained once the last day for about 10 minutes if that, so the girls got to put on 45 miles on... their bikes riding trails in the park and go for 4 hours to the water park there, have a campfire for s'mores, go to Minnesota's largest candy store in Jordan, shop for new school tennis shoes, eat out at pizza ranch-our yearly tradition, play board games, watch movies, and eat like queens in the camper (one night we had a crab leg and wild rice soup supper-two of their favorites)..I am sure Kim and I gained 5 lbs each, unfortunately! All in all another fun annual trip since 2007! Here are a few highlights from the mini vacation of 2014..


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Joe's camper dishtowels

Once a year I have been taking the grandkids on a small mini vacation with me.  I only have one grandson, Kyle, at this point anyway, and so since we split up the vacations as a "boy" vacay and a "girl" vacay with grandma, it's just him, my son, Joe, and myself.   Kyle likes fishing and the outdoors, so we have been going somewhere where we can do just that.  This year we went to Joe's "retreat" and were gone for 4 days last week up there.  Here is Kyle doing his fishing.

During that time I started some dishtowels for Joe's camper.  (Last year I crocheted him two potholders-it rained the whole time that year).  I like to have a project to do in the evenings or if it rains, so since he needs dishtowels in there that's what I brought with to do.  This year the weather was gorgeous, so I only got one done, but have 4 more stamped and ready to work on during my lunch hours at work or watching TV- whenever I get the chance.  I will add them to this post as I get them finished. Here is #1, both Joe and Kyle picked this one first and Joe hung it up to use immediately when it was finished on his stove handle.  Success! 

2nd dishtowel!

3rd dishtowel, 5/19/16
4th dishtowel 1/21/17

Variations of Banana Bread posted below:

I volunteered to make something to bring to work on Friday for the monthly Nurse Practitioner meeting because there weren't many people who signed up.  It's a morning meeting, so usually people bring food for a light "breakfast" to go with their coffee.  Kim, my daughter, has been bringing over tons of bananas that are getting ripe lately and I have been tossing them in the freezer whole to use for banana baking, so decided to make some more of the banana bread since I had those and some buttermilk still to use up.  I made 4 large loaves by tripling the batch in the recipe below.  Two of them are plain, one with chocolate chips and one with pecans chopped up in it.  I am sure they will enjoy these on Friday..I am bringing butter and cream cheese frosting with in case those also appeal to them on it!

ADDENDUM:  I tried the recipe today, but omitted the nutmeg, added a little coconut, white chocolate chips, about half a jar of cut up, drained maraschino cherries, and some sliced almonds and it is really yummy.  it would be great at Christmas time with both the unflavored green and red cherries in it for variation.

My Mom's Potato Salad (pretty much)

I actually haven't made potato salad much this summer at all.  I'm not sure why because Dave and Joe both like it a lot and usually? there is enough leftover for the next nights supper to add another meat or hotdogs to it for an easy 2nd day meal.  Today I decided I was going to make it before the winds of winter decided to blast in again (you never know in Minnesota, it could be next month) since it's my day off and I felt like cooking.  I usually don't use a recipe, just eyeball it according to the amount of potato salad I need, but this is close and you can adjust the seasonings/dressing to your taste..

5-6 large potatoes, peeled and cut in half, cover with cool to medium cool water in a kettle large enough to hold them well and room to spare to allow for boiling.  add about 2 tsps. salt, bring to a boil and let lightly boil until you can insert a fork into the potato not overcook to mush stage. (you can also bake potatoes, cool well, peel and dice into small cubes).  set aside and let completely cool. 

In the meantime, boil 3 eggs to hard boil stage (I boil lightly for 10 minutes), remove from heat, drain and cover with cold water.  set aside. 

In a medium large bowl or Tupperware, chop 4-5 green onions that have been cleaned (I use some of the tops too for nice color) or 1/2 of a small onion, red or yellow finely.  clean and chop 1 stalk of celery finely (this is optional)..I like to use the inner stalks, more tender and mild.  Add the potatoes which have cooled and been diced into small cubes, the eggs that have been peeled and washed and diced (nothing worse than pieces of egg shell in the potato salad) and the dressing below:

1-1/2 cups Miracle Whip salad dressing
1 heaping Tablespoon yellow mustard
about 1- 2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/4 tsp celery salt or celery seed

stir until smooth, add milk until it's a smooth pourable consistency..sort of like dressing for lettuce salads..taste..if you think it needs more mustard add it, if you think it needs more salt/pepper or sugar, add it here.  Pour over your mixture in the bowl and toss until completely coated.  sprinkle the top lightly with more paprika for color, refrigerate.  It tastes much better after it sits a few hours and even overnight. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Hop Scotch Quilt in Progress

I spent a whole day cutting out this quilt and 2-1/2 months to get the triangle blocks put together, and now I finally finished them today so I could lay them out and start sewing it together.  I love the colors and freshness of the look of it, but it has been a struggle to get the triangles to match up nicely and I can't handle it if they aren't perfect with this one..think it would just stick out like a sore thumb.  It's only a small throw size, so lots of work for a small quilt.  It will be pretty tossed on the end of the bed though or draped on a chair I think!  I am posting today's accomplishment because it took so long to get to this point and will also post the finished quilt when that finally gets done!  What do you think of it?
October 19, 2014, update on progress..this quilt is taking me forever, but I finally got the center done and just have to put the narrow gray border around it!  next photo will be it quilted and completed!

Sunday, August 3, 2014


I'm still in the make-ahead meal mode, and my son, Joe, had mentioned that I should make rice hotdish, so today I made two small pans of it.  It makes a 9 x 13 pan normally, but there are only 3 of us generally eating, so I made it in two small pans so we can eat one tomorrow night for dinner and I can freeze one for a quick supper some night in the future.  This is a recipe you can alter according to  your personal tastes on veggies also.  I have done it the way I am posting, and also have added a can of Chinese mixed vegetables if I want it more like chow could definitely sprinkle some chow mein noodles on it too for a mock chow mein this way.  We like it the best as below.  It's great to bring to pot lucks as many of you probably have experienced.  we like it with bread and butter pickles and toast with peanut butter and jam, don't ask me why, we just do!  Here is the recipe: (oh, and if you have a small family, just half the recipe and buy the Campbell's cream of mushroom/chicken's perfect to use in this, one can and you don't waste anything!)


Brown 1 lb of hamburger with a little finely chopped onion until well browned and thoroughly cooked.

Mix in a 9 x 13 cake pan or casserole dish:
1 cup raw white rice
2 stalks of celery chopped small
2 cleaned and diced carrots
a handful of small frozen peas
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups of water
add the hamburger and stir until mixed together pretty well.

Cover with aluminum foil, sealing edges well.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1-1/2 hours until rice is softened. 

Best Banana Bread

I had a couple of frozen bananas and in the next few weeks it will be the annual boys camping weekend with my son and grandson and then the annual girls weekend with one of my daughters and the two granddaughters, so I thought I'd make some banana bread to take with on both the trips for either an addition to breakfast or just to eat for a snack.  This recipe is very old, it was in my 4-H cookbook from the early 70's, but it is the best banana bread ever!  Very moist and bananay (my new word I invented).  I do variations on it a lot by adding mini chocolate chips or cherries and chips, nuts etc.  The only trick is you have to use buttermilk in it.  I many times use the powdered can of buttermilk and add the water to equal the 1/3 cup and that works fine, but it's the best with real buttermilk.  I am sure these loaves won't last long on our trips slathered with some butter or cream cheese frosting for a dessert type treat!


1/2 cup butter (1 stick) softened
1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 larger bananas)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup buttermilk

sift together:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
a pinch of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream sugar and butter together, add eggs, beat thoroughly until smooth.  add dry ingredients into creamed mixture, add buttermilk, mashed bananas and vanilla.  pour into 2 greased and floured bread pans, or 4 mini bread pans.  Baked at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  (Grand Champion recipe by original author and my grandson Kyle won a Blue ribbon on it also)

ADDENDUM:  I tried the recipe today, but omitted the nutmeg, added a little coconut, white chocolate chips, about half a jar of cut up, drained maraschino cherries, and some sliced almonds and it is really yummy.  it would be great at Christmas time with both the unflavored green and red cherries in it for variation.

Vern's Taco Meat

Got up this morning at 7 and it is a beautiful August day in Minnesota, so decided to do some cooking this morning and maybe have a chance to get outside and work on my landscaping later today.  (The volunteer cottonwoods are taking over everything again).  About a month ago, when my sister was here from Florida, she was talking to her husband and he was making his giant batch of taco meat to freeze for meals later on, so I asked for the recipe, which he emailed right I finally am getting around to making it.  I did a few adjustments to my taste, but it is awesome!  It will be so nice to have some in the freezer for nights I am feeling not in the mood to do much of anything, much less cook and do dishes.  Here is the recipe with my adjustments in parentheses..


4 pounds ground beef
3 Tablespoons chopped onion..(next time I will add more because I like onion)
1 can -8 oz- tomato sauce
1/4 cup chili powder
2 Tablespoons paprika
1 Tablespoon beef bouillon granules-I used 3 beef bouillon cubes because it's what I had
1 Tablespoon ground cumin (I used 1/2 Tablespoon-I like it, but that sounded like too much for me)
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules (I used 2 cubes of chicken bouillion)
1 tsp each of garlic powder, cayenne pepper (if you like these I would add a little more of each)
1/2 tsp each black pepper and lime juice.  (I used a whole lime and juiced it, like the lime kick)
1/4 tsp each salt and garlic salt
1/4 tsp each of onion powder and sugar..(I added a little more sugar and would leave out the onion powder if I added more onion)

and my extra ingredient was a little baking powdered unsweetened cocoa..maybe a tsp because I like dark cocoa in Mexican food, learned that from my nephew years ago.

In a large kettle, cook the beef and onion until meat is no longer pink, if needed drain.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients..bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  (He didn't say to add water, but it was very dry, so I added water, about 1-1/2 cups so it wouldn't be that dry and it was nice and moist then).  Use as desired..freeze any unused portions for later. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Cornflake Cookies

I am taking a weekend off from having grandkids over or getting into my vehicle and decided we needed some cookies around here.  Dave does love his "treats" before he goes to bed.  You would never know by looking at him versus overweight issues there, so I try to make sure I have something around to encourage him to get calories into him! LOL.  I was eating some cornflakes today and happened to notice a recipe on the box for these cookies.  There was only enough left in the box to make exactly 1 cup of crushed cornflakes like the recipe called for, so I thought it was fate.  The cookies are super good, a combination of peanut butter flavor with chocolate and butterscotch with the crunch of the cornflakes.  Yum.  Here is the recipe:

CORNFLAKE COOKIES:  Makes about 30 cookies with a mini ice cream scoop.

1/2 cup soft butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup crushed cornflakes
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips

1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2  Beat butter and sugars in medium bowl (can do by hand or with a mixer on medium speed) until creamy.  Add the peanut butter, egg and vanilla.  Beat until well blended and smooth. 
3: Add flour, baking soda, and salt.  Beat until well combined.
4: Stir in the cornflakes, and both chips.  Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto lightly greased baking sheets-about 12 per sheet so they have room to spread.  Bake 12-14 minutes until lightly browned.  (Mine were done in 12, but depends on your oven).  May have to let them sit on the baking sheet a few minutes until they cool a little so they lift off easily and don't break.  Then get out the milk and have a cookie party!