Monday, July 30, 2012

An Evening in Paris

My husband and I were recently discussing memorable events in our childhood.  His was when he broke his arm playing baseball and he continued to play first base through the remainder of the game...ughh!  He is tough like that!

Mine was more Norman Rockwellish (I know this is not a word, but I like it).  I remember holding hands with my dad...walking down Main Street in Rockland, Maine...with the snow gently falling around us. We were on a quest to find a Christmas gift for mom from her girls.  My sister was quite young then, so it was just me and Dad.  I liked it that way...I am a Daddy's girl!

There was one item that always caught my eye.  Do you remember Evening in Paris?
(Source: Another Perfume Blog)

I remember being in awe of the deep blue-purple color and thought the name sounded so exotic.  This ad proclaimed that you were "A thousand times more enchanting with Evening in Paris".  Who wouldn't want to be enchanting?

Each Christmas my poor mother would open her "deluxe" set of Evening in Paris.  Nothing but the best for mom!  It was enough to last her all year.  Mom would "ooh and awe" over our gift.  She wore it everywhere, even though many years later she told us that it "stunk to high heavens"!  My sister and I never knew she didn't like it!  Mom, if you are reading this I want you to know that Evening in Paris is making a comeback!  Really!!  I promise!!
(Source: Ruby Lane)
Spend some time today sharing  a favorite childhood memory with your family. I bet your story will bring a smile to the face of someone you love!  In the meantime, I am going shopping for some perfume!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

An Olympic Event!

I love the Olympics!  The opening ceremonies are tomorrow night.  Why not have your own Olympic event?  We have been having Olympic events at different get togethers for years.  It is easy and fun.  Here are a few ideas to make your Olympic event a night to remember.

Begin your event with the official Olympic music.  You can download it from the internet.  Give the adults tiki torches to carry and the youngsters pretend torches made with leftover paper towel rolls.  Line up the torch bearers and start the music!

Gather the troops around and give directions so that everything runs smoothly...not saying that it will, but give it a try!

Plan several backyard games that everyone can enjoy.  Many of these pictures were taken at what we jokingly call the "Deacon Decathlon", an event which has been hosted at our home for church deacons, church staff, and their families. Archery is always a favorite!

What about a shortened version of crouquet?

Horseshoe toss is another favorite!  Or maybe a ring toss which is easy for all ages.

Another game for all ages is "clothes pin in a bucket". We wanted to make it harder and used a Mason jar. Make sure to keep score (notice the score sheet?).

Frisbee toss is another great idea. 

Award ribbons! I purchased these from a party supply store, but have also found them at the "everything is a dollar" store as well.  One word of warning!  The less expensive ones do not have velcro openings and end up being headbands or in this case, eye patches, as opposed to necklaces!  Makes for a great picture!

As always, have lots of goodies to munch on.  Maybe All-American hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill or a homemade ice cream bar with loads of toppings. Yum!

However you do it, have lots of fun and make lasting memories!  Gymnastics competition will begin this Monday.  Time to practice my back handspring!  Well, maybe just a forward roll!

Blessings from Still Woods!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent is Terrific!

I adore homemade laundry detergent.  The first time I read about homemade detergent was in a book written by Jim and Michelle Duggar of 19 Kids and Counting.  In theory, it sounded good, but I never got around to making any.  Later, I came across a detergent recipe on the blog Sugar Pie Farmhouse.  After reading the many positive comments, I decided it was time to give it a try.  By the way, if you have never read Aunt Ruthie's blog, you must stop by.  WARNING:  Have lots of time on your hands, because you will be enthralled.

I was just in the beginning stages of developing this blog when I made my last batch of detergent, so didn't think to take a picture of all the necessary items; therefore, the borrowed picture of..

The Starting Lineup...

(Sugar Pie Farmhouse)

Best Ever Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe:

1 - 4 pound box of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
1-  4 pound box of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda
1-  4 pound box of Borax
3 bars of Kirk’s Castile soap–Shredded (other choices are Fels Naptha, Zote, or Ivory soaps)

Mix well in a large container.
Add two heaping tablespoons to each load of laundry.  That's it!

I used Fels Naptha for my first batch.  It is yellow in color and when shredded looks like shredded cheese!   For the last batch, I ordered Zote soap from Amazon.  It has a pretty pink color! It came in a set of three huge bars, so I only shredded two bars in my last recipe.  

For shredding, I have a couple of recommendations.  First, I recommend purchasing an extra Parmesan cheese grater to have on hand just for shredding soap.  For my first batch, I shredded the soap on a regular hand was a workout!  Second, shred the soap so that you end up with  finely shredded soap.  This is the way I like the soap to look...finely shredded.

I also began using plain ole vinegar as a softener.  Commercial softener tends to build up on towels and bath cloths and also causes build up in your washer and dryer.  That build up prevents detergent from getting into the fibers of your laundry, thus preventing it from getting perfectly clean.  The vinegar is fabulous and cuts the build up leaving you with clean smelling laundry!  Also economical!

Give homemade detergent a try.  I think you will love it!  Happy Wash Day!  Remember to Whistle While You Work!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Morning Walk

I woke to a beautiful morning.  The skies were clear and the temperature was slightly cooler than usual.  Breakfast on the porch sounded like a great way to start the day.  My dad made a terrific coffee cake, which he graciously shared with us.  Along with my favorite coffee, my breakfast is complete.  Thanks Dad!

It is such a nice day, I think I will go for a walk.  Why don't you join me as we walk the trails?  Put on your comfy walking shoes.  Uhh, hmmm??  What is this? 
I would like to say that I had a little spill while skiing at Chamonix in France (reported to have the best vertical lift), but instead must admit that I did it while on a day trip to Oak Alley in LA.  I didn't see a minuscule piece of concrete, tripped on it and fell. That little tumble resulted in nerve and ligament damage, but no breaks!  Woo, hoo!  We call  it my Lego boot.  I must share with you how that name came to be.  I am a psychometrist and counselor for a local school district.  As I was chatting with a student recently, he informed me that I had on  a Lego boot!  So from that time on, my right shoe has been referred to as my "Lego" boot.

If you ever get a chance to travel down River Road in southern Louisiana, you must stop by Oak Alley.  The oaks are a quarter of a mile in length and reported to be 300  years old.  Do you think the planter of the oaks ever envisioned this?  Just beautiful!

My dogs Lucky and Lucy will join us.  Sorry for the backside picture, but they were eager to see if any small animals were about.  I just hope they are scouting for snakes! Speaking of snakes, what is that on the left of the picture?

 Which trail shall we take? Looks like Lucy wants to head to the left and Lucky wants to head to the right.

Lucky took off on his own.  He is independent like that.  My sweet Lucy stopped and waited for me.  We think she is a distant relative of Gene Simmons from the band KISS!

We have tons of huckleberries now.  A huckleberry is a relative of the blueberry.  Not quite as sweet, but definitely edible. 
I think this would be a great place for a hen house!  I hope Santa is reading this.  I also want a few Road Island Reds.  I am going to name them Henny, Penny, and Chicken Little!

In case Santa is reading, here is one of my favorite hen houses!  I really like it!  Henny, Penny, and Chicken Little would think they were Rulers of the Roost in this home.
(Country Living Magazine)

Hooray, we finally made it to our destination!  Even though it has rained off and on for the past week, we had a dry June, so the creek is down.  I wish you could feel the water.  It is so cold!  The dogs come here for a daily romp in the water. The creek twists and turns as it meanders along.
Katrina toppled a few trees into the creek.  In case you are not  a resident of the south, you must know that Hurricane Katrina is simply known as Katrina.  We became intimate with her, spending long, hot hours cleaning up the mess she left behind.  She was not friendly, but in this case, she gave the creek character. The fallen tree makes a great hiding place for all sorts of critters. Let's turn around and head back a different way.
Wait, look who I see...Mr. Independent (alias Lucky)! He must have wanted a little cooling off.

As I head back out of the woods, I find myself humming my mom's favorite hymn.  It is an old gospel favorite, I  Come to the Garden Alone.  I love the chorus of this hymn..."And He walks with me, And He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known".  What lovely and comforting words. 

My humming has stopped Lucy dead in her tracks! So much for my singing ability!  Sorry for the dark picture, but some areas of the woods are dark this early in the morning.
Here is a little spot I like to visit.  Ahead of you is a tall Magnolia tree.  It is beautiful during blooming season. We have them scattered throughout the property. 
Moss has such a velvety look.  Here it grows on the base of a large oak deep in the woods.
This is one of my favorite trees.  It can't be seen from the house, but I do pass it daily as I drive around the bend to our home.  It looks like I need to make another "Still Woods" sign.   When I was a little girl, I judged all trees by their "climb-ability" and would tell my mom, "this looks like a really good tree to climb".  Maybe that's why I like this looks like a really good tree to climb!  The outer limbs stretch to the gravel road.
I made this signs years ago and it is showing it's age.  On my "to do" list is to make another one and enlarge the scripture verse. I routed the edges of the wood prior to painting and stenciling.  I wonder if I can write out the entire verse?  What do you think?

Well, it's is time to head inside and get ready for the day.  I hope you enjoyed our little walk.  Come back soon now!

Many blessings from Still Woods and watch out for poison ivy (lower right hand corner above)!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cowboy Cookies AKA Deacon Delights!

My husband has the honor of serving as the Deacon Chairman for our church.  This is his 2nd time to serve in this capacity.  During his first year of service, I began making homemade cookies for the monthly deacon meetings.  My boys love Cowboy Cookies, so I pulled out my recipe and hoped that the deacons would like them too!  There are several recipes out there for Cowboy Cookies, but I bet you have never seen a recipe for Deacon Delights!  Here it is...

In honor of baseball season...may I present...

The Starting Line-Up!

In case a certain physician is reading this, please note the LARGE container of oatmeal in the background which I do consume on a somewhat regular basis!

Deacon Delights
1 cup of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup  of white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 cups of rolled oats (quick cooking or regular, either is fine)
1 small package of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cups chopped pecans

Start by creaming the butter with the sugars.  Add the eggs and vanilla, beating until fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed.  

Sift the flour, salt, and baking soda together.  Gradually add to the creamed mixture.  By the way, do you know how hard it is to take a picture with one hand while using your other hand to drop in ingredients?

Slowly add oatmeal...

And now the chocolate chips ( you may want to sample a few to make sure they taste okay)...

And finally the nuts.  For an extra treat, roast the nuts before adding them to the mixture!

Find your weapon of choice for attacking the bowl full of yumminess!  Today I selected a small cookie scoop that makes a 2 and 1/2 inch round cookie.  Use a cookie scoop or spoon and drop onto cookie sheets lined with either parchment paper or a Silpat sheet (my favorite!).

Two trays ready for the oven!

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.  For this size cookie, I always set my timer for 10 minutes and they come out perfectly. Don't look too closely at my oven.  It has seen a lot of service over the last week and deserves a nice cleaning.

While the cookies are baking, get your cooling trays ready for the cookies.  These are my favorite wire trays.  They stack one on top of each other and are great space savers when you are making lots of cookies.  Wilton bakeware packages these in a set of three.  I purchased several sets at Michael's Craft Store. 

Ding, ding, ding!  Time to get the first batch out of the oven! Transfer cookies to wire trays to cool.

 Keep attacking the cookie dough until you end of with a mountain or two of goodies. 

Stand guard with your spatula! Cookie Monsters are always about!

This recipe made 86 cookies that were 2 and 1/2 inches in diameter. I have attached a link to Silpat Sheets on Amazon.  Left click on the link and away you go to Amazon!  Silpat Baking Sheets    Silpat sheets allow for even baking and your cookies will never stick to the sheet.  Promise!

When the boys were little, the first batch out of the oven was for them.  Now that the boys are older, the first batch out of the oven is for them!  Some things never change!

Here is my first born, wearing his great-grandmother Mercer's apron, and eating a Cowboy Cookie!  This picture was taken in December of 1988.  He was quite the baker!.  Notice the chocolate around his mouth and the spatula in his hand.  Always cook with your children.  It is a wonderful way to spend quality time together and make lasting memories!

Happy baking!