new history.

the sugar cookie recipe I've been making since I was a girl (featured below) I'd had believed was my grandmother's. every year my grandma lorene bake these cookies. and we all look forward to snacking on them--as they are practically bite-size covered in colorful sprinkles.

I'd known that my cookies never quiet tasted like hers. but, I reasoned that I just didn't have her touch.

today, while at my mother's snowy farm kitchen, I was going through her folder of loose recipes. and I found Lorene's Sour Cream Christmas Cookies, written in grandma's hand, likely right after mom & dad were married. it is noted on the card, that this recipe came from her mother. it is not the same recipe which I'd been baking all this time.

I asked mom, so, where did this other recipe, that I've been using, come from? and she doesn't remember. but pointed out, it was probably someone's family recipe, maybe just not, ours.

Also, in the folder of recipes, is a picture of me at 11 years. with straight bangs and a few freckles.


annual bake-off

only once a year (mostly) do I take the time to make, roll, cut, bake & decorate cookies. mostly I prefer to make cookies that are easily dropped onto a sheet.

these are the sugar cookies which I've been making since I was little. my grandmother's recipe. (I should really remember to ask her where she got the recipe.) one that I thought, when little, had a bit of secret in them, since they call for a combination of milk & orange juice.

I love these cookies. Though they are now in the freezer, waiting for actual visitors, and holiday celebrations. Of course the temptation is too great, and I do pull one or two out, every day, for buttery-sugary-munching.

A batch of gingerbread cookies, (a recipe clipped out of my 12/95 issue of Sauveur--oh my, so long ago?) also now waits. For the buttery-gingery-sugary munching needs.


wintry week

our ice storm came rather ferociously. then melted away in one day.
as it melted, it sounded like rain on my roof. I stepped outside in the back, and watched in wonder, as the trees shed their ice, in pellets. and the trees simply crackled in relief. it was like watching a downpour of bits of glass. all the while, the sun was shining. glinting light everywhere.

and then, the next day. it snowed. all night long. in a hush.

and today, it will begin to melt away.


iced over

I have only a few days each year, in which I question why I love living in this big/small state.

ice storms. are definitely more pain than pretty.

here's hoping all those around me without power, get it back soon. b/c it is too cold not to have a furnace running, and a hot cup of tea in hand.


baking pumpkin

with the sub-zero temps over the weekend, it was important to warm up the kitchen with some baking. I made several loaves of pumpkin bread. a favorite of some visiting familia around christmas day. This recipe from Everyday Food I find I've relied on quite a bit, since it was first published. (Of course, I half the ginger and add cinnamon. Because I have a hard time imagining pumpkin bread w/o cinnamon.)

in other news. we are expecting a big ice storm to start tonight. here's hoping I keep my power over the next few days. as, it will be mighty cold (and no internet), if it goes.



went out to the christmas tree farm and cut my tree. the cute, young smiley guy in the Carhardt's overalls wasn't sure I'd be able to cut it on my own. but, I'd done it okay last year.

it was particularly windy. and of course, cold. but I walked around and found one just short & fat enough to fit my wants. and into my trunk for the drive home.

and now she's all dressed up in lights and stuff.

and when I walk into my house, I get a whiff of that christmas pine.

tis the season, in my house.


in my yard

Fall is Yellow.

though I do feel compelled to rake up all the leaves from the Elms, Walnut & Oak tree in my yard (compelled from an idea of "good homeownership"). I think I may skip it this year.

I raked leaves into the flowerbeds as extra winter protection. And that, was quite enough, for me.


old stars

another shot from the hometown photoproject.

am fairly sure the "stars" are functional/practical, maybe bolts of some kind? I don't fully know. But I love how they seem to be scattered about.


fall harvesting

milo waiting for harvest.

november is here.
my nephew turned two last weekend. and he had a fun & sunny Saturday, with a lot of love, attention and presents from his adoring fans.

this is a busy month for birthdays. my brother's. and many friend's--in Lawrence, KC, Portland, L.A. & Istanbul.

am collecting sewing projects for to-do over the winter months. am also trying to convince myself that more trips to the gym would be good for the mind, body & soul.

am considering adding these to the menu for the annual Feastival in December. (this ever-growing menu will definitely have to be pared down, by the time 12/26 rolls around.)

have also become recently obsessed with the idea of having these. and there are so many to choose from, I don't know if I'd ever actually decide on which to have.


all hallow's eve

it is windy & chilly today. and cloudy, so the night will be dark. seems perfect weather for a witchy, spirited day.

a friend helped carve the jack o'lantern last night. we think it is a happy pumpkin. but maybe also, just a drunk one.

so, Fall is really here.



all the plants have come inside. as the temps are going below 40 at night. they live crowded around the few south-facing windows in the house. I brought some basil in, though I know it won't last long. as well as rosemary, parsley, oregano & thyme.

the porches are bare. and the leaves are beginning to fall--which is good, as I'm planning to rake them over the beds for the winter.

my old house is cold. as they all are. and suddenly, it has become time to shuffle around in slippers and sweaters. (dreaming of a wood-burning stove.)

and fight the constant desire to bake warm (& sweet) things.


pumpkin c. chip muffins

as soon as a friend had mentioned she'd recently been baked some amazingly good pumpkin chocolate chip muffins...I put in a request that she get the recipe for me from the baker herself.

and as I had a wine-drinking get-together to attend last night, I made up a batch. and the few I'd left at home, were eaten up today by my nephew & brother during a visit.

so, they were a hit. and I've since passed the recipe on to another.
I love that about recipes. how they get handed from person-to-person, over time and over distance.

thanks C.-in-Chicago for the recipe. quite yummy.

space patrol

more flannel pants for the almost two-year old.

with a big space patrol pocket.

which, I may wait to give him as a part of his b-day present. since I still haven't decided what to really give him.


photo project

one of my new goals is to carry my little Elf digital camera with me where-ever I go. I'm constantly "seeing" pictures around me. Mostly, around my little town.

so a new project is to photograph this place. the nooks & crannies. the building details. places we don't always see. most of these will show up on my Flickr page.


making things for give-away

I was inspired by these little owls made by Moonstitches. And adapted her tutorial directions to create a more baby-friendly-soft owl. (no cardboard, no buttons, bigger, fatter and flannel instead of wool)
As, I have a baby shower to attend this weekend. The 2465115 th baby shower I've attended in my life. (I keep telling myself that Karma will bring me many cute, handmade gifts. when the day finally comes I have my own shower. It is how I sit through them, and keep smiling. Until I escape to the kitchen to have a glass of wine, while all the mothers move to the "joy", oh the joys, "you can't understand until you have your own" part of the conversation)

But I like this fat little owl so much, I sort of want to keep her on a shelf in my studio. To watch over things. She's wise. She's pretty. Maybe I can make another one soon.

Since I've also gotten these made, I wouldn't be going empty-handed. If, the little owl were to stay here with me. The bibs are the new, easy shower gift in my life. The pattern came from Angry Chicken's book, Bend the Rules Sewing.


fall buckeye

I have a Buckeye tree in front yard. I've been told by an aging neighbor (who wears dark blue suspenders and shuffles about) that the tree was planted in 1897, before the house was even built.

It was hurt by a late freeze in the Spring, and therefore, lost all of its leaves this summer while
producing the Buckeye nuts. (The Walnut & Oak trees didn't even bother to put out fruit)

It is skeletal now. And the squirrels sit atop branches. Cracking those nuts. Letting the shells fall to the ground. Scattering along the sidewalks and lawn. And the neighbor cats just perch in the grass. Watching the squirrels.

Sometimes, a shell or two, end up on my porch stoop. I think they must land there, after falling from the treetop & bouncing up from the sidewalk.


fall planting

planting daffodils, scilla siberica & muscari. oh, & crocus. but those bulbs were already planted when this pic was taken. some around the apricot tree in the back. others around the buckeye tree in the front. some along my fence.

I like the idea that these bulbs, hibernate away in the ground all winter. and then will pop out in spring.

also, Mums. these are planted in the back. where the "2007 Hosta Experiment" failed to thrive. (I'm so over hostas)

I just recieved note that my gardening place is having a sale this weekend. in which, I may buy even more of these things.


annual funtimes


every September, since I was 7, my father has packed up the car and taken my brother and I to the Walnut Valley Festival, in southeastern Kansas. My father and stepmother can still be described as giddy during this time of year.
and it is, for my brother and I, an annual no-miss event.

it involves bluegrass and flatpicking. campfires and walnut trees. coffee in the morning and beer all afternoon. indian tacos. baked potatoes & corn-on-the-cob from a stand. meals from a camp stove. fireside chats & long walks around the campgrounds. afternoons listening to the sleepy sounds of guitars, mandolins & banjos being played all around.

the oh-be-joyfulness of these times is hard to describe. but the friends that I've brought along from time-to-time, have become instant lifetime fans.

but I'm back now. after a week of funtimes. and I've caught up on my sleep. and I'm back in the real world. on to enjoying Fall.


driveway shot

the farm sits on what used to be an old country road. that over the years has become more of a county highway, linking smaller cities to a larger one.
so, the old mailbox, gets beat up a lot. every so often a large truck roars by, and slams the mailbox around. or, just knocks it right off into the ditch.

spent some time out a mom's place this weekend. had grand thoughts of digging up some daylilies for transplant in my yard. and possibly catching some pics of the rusty red milo in the fields. a color quite amazing, when up against Kansas blue.

but, laziness was queen. and instead just walked around a bit. ignoring shovels. and without energy to walk out to the back field.

this photo was taken at the end of the driveway. as I was leaving.


50cent watermelon & blackberry jam

it is true that I may have bought this little watermelon with the curly-q top, simply because of the cute factor. (similar to why I bought a little purple & white striped eggplant last weekend--even though, I don't even like eggplant)
but it is also far less overwhelming, the idea of eating this little thing vs. one of the huge ones.

I've been converted to the blackberry (or apricot) jams & jellies of a elderly woman (who always is under a wide-brimmed straw hat) at the farmer's market. she picks the blackberries. and turns them into delicious-ness.

mom mentioned once, how long the winter seemed at a point, when she realised how much longer she had to wait to taste this blackberry jam again.

so, I've stocked up. 3 in the fridge.


soon it will all smell like fall

the farmer's market is still full of tomatoes and obnoxiously-large zucchini. but the green beans are long gone, and the cucumbers harder to find.
and soon all the cantaloupe, with a perfume slightly rotten, which permeates the outdoor market, will be replaced by pumpkins.
right before the sun goes down, the cicada songs burst overhead. the insect hum so loud, you have to raise your voice to be heard, when talking with a neighbor on the sidewalk.

read this in Updike's "Marry Me" last night,
"She was still in the kitchen when he came in the back door; the cry of cicadas, the dry football smell of summer's end, followed him in."



as we have reached the hottest part of summer, it also begins to fade. all those vibrant colors from June have dimmed a shade.
my neighbor has sunflowers next door. in the backyard, they tower 10ft high in a cluster.

all now with heavy heads, they droop.
from over my fence, it looks like a band of tired giants. waiting out the sun.

one grows in the front, next to my driveway.



since this was the first time for a garden in this yard. I knew there was a chance that something would go awry.
and though I had added in some new soil/compost, there must still be something wrong here.

my once beautiful tomato plants are withering. (still producing fruit, though)

I'll have to investigate and come up with a prevention plan for next year.

for now, I still happily have far too many cherry toms to eat.



though I don't remember doing this. apparently I decided, back in those early days of hopeful spring-to-come, to only plant pink & green zinnias.

they are quite pretty. (I like this misfit, not quite blooming as the others do)

but, I now miss, all the usual oranges, reds & yellows. so, next year.



in july.



moments like this. will help me get out of bed in the dark, cold misery of February days.





best with salty butter

so, yesterday. was an oddly cool day. and a whiff of a comment from a passing friend, who mentioned it would be a good day to bake bread, stuck in my brain.

once again, I used the honey whole-wheat recipe from Martha's Baking Handbook (and basically here, on her site). forgetting to coat the tops with something for a moister crust.

I also lost my will power to keep kneading the dough, about halfway through the rec. time.

whenever I'm kneading bread, I feel like I should be in some old, 2-story, white farmhouse. plopped in between a grove of cottonwoods and a wheat field. with windows open, and kids running through the kitchen. a husband in the barn. and outside the window over the kitchen sink, a view of laundry on the line.

anyways. the bread was good. shortened knead time and all. I sliced a piece before it was cool. and layered on some butter.


purple but green, beans

it was raining yesterday at the farmer's market. big drops that actually hurt, if you look up for some reason, and they hit your eyes.

the only beans I found were these. they were labeled, "green beans $4.00/pound"

of course they are purple. I wonder if they will get darker after being bubbled around in boiling water for a bit. I'm curious. with a little trepidation. as I prefer vegetables to stay of the standard variety, and fit their name. call me old fashioned. or...boring.

Update: when you drop the purple beans into boiling water, the purple instantly disappears. and they become...dark green beans.


pesto pesto july

yes, again. with the pesto.
but the basil keeps growing. so I keep pesto-ing.
wish aroma could translate through a jpg.

and I learned that if you run out of parmesan cheese, a little salt does the trick.

and pine nuts go from lightly toasted, to burned, in super-lightning-speed.


the fourth

for the morning, spent at mom's picnic table. a sunny & bright morning. muggy too. we had fresh out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls, fruit and icy water.
nephew and I squealed over a crop of kittens in the barn.
Picked & ate my first fresh cherry tomato of the season.
the windmill was barely creaking, as the south wind was not in action for the morn. I finally felt the summer sweat on my skin. (wasn't as thrilled as I thought I'd be, these past weeks of cool, rainy days).

for the afternoon party, at another farm. few miles north of town.
a slip-and-slide had been set up for the hot kids. an 2-gallon jug of Mojitos had been made for the adults. we also had plenty of High Life keeping cool. then a storm rolled in. we watched it come for about an hour. the dark clouds just keeping getting more and more steely-blue. then the wind came, and leaves began swirling in the air. then, the rain. a slow, soaking, summer rain for the rest of the evening. we ate grilled chicken, baked beans and chips with a salsa straight out of the day's gardening. with umbrellas in hand. or standing under the old tractor shed next to rusty a rusty combine. and eventually, the fireworks came out. which the boys (and kids) set off, in the rain. indignant, or just accustomed, Kansans do what they must. even when the weather is uncooperative. especially, when it involves setting off expensive and noisy fireworks.

there was also an escapade involving someone's dog catching & killing a rooster. since somehow, the chickens got out of their coop.

came home buzzy from the minted rum, and ready for some dry clothes.



in the winter, especially that horrid bout of February. when all is dead, and has been dead too long, one of my escapes is to dream of the garden I will one day plant.

Recently read about this at yougrowgirl.com, and am excited at the prospect of what is found in the Kitazawa catalog of asian seeds. I quickly ordered one...it is always fun to look beyond the world of Burpee. (Though, I spend much time poring over it too). Will stash it away until those darks days are here....

for now, am just waiting for all the rain to stop. So my plants full of green tomatoes, can begin to turn that lovely shade of red.



damp and rainy day. sticky Kansas humidity. wet with rain. a day when the light never changes, and it is nap-inducing dark all-day-long.

so damn dreary today. my mood could use a little more sun. and my tomatoes.

but since I'm trying to be more "positive" in daily life. at least, it is cool outside. not Kansas-hot yet.


If I were an herb

I might be in love with my fellow basil.
It's name derived from the Greek word for "King".
It deserves such a title.
A bit fragrant, like cloves, and those shiny, bright green leaves. Thriving in the sunny heat of summer.

This Genovese Basil, which I planted from seed this year, has begun to reach it's abundance. I have close to 20 plants growing, in different stages. And I'm carefully plucking it each week, and making myself pesto.

Amazing what a little green, garlic, nuts, cheese and olive oil can create.


from yellow, to green, to wonderful

someday, I'll pluck a lovely, juicy red cherry tomato from where this flower grows.


lights & hums

though I have no photo. (though, ridiculously, I did try)
the fireflies are abundant now. they've been about for over a week.
as soon as the sun begins to fall.
I love how they glide through the air. lazily. flickering.

accompanied by the sound of the cicadas hum. a sound which falls from the trees and rather fills up the air.


tiger lily, that lovely creature

growing up, we called these tiger lilies. which I loved as a girl, because it is a name from Peter Pan. the name of the lovely and strong princess who didn't need much saving (like Wendy did).

though am not sure it really is a tiger, it very definitely is a sign of summer in Kansas. as they grow everywhere.

I had transplanted these from my mom's farm last spring. And now, they bloom along my fence. And I wish I'd planted more.


poppy haiku

the poppies.
on a rainy day.
after bloom.


baby green




sweet & spicy & crispy.

practically impossible not to just keep eating.
thankfully, I made them for a fundraiser. so I feel doubly guilty eating them.

from the new Martha baking handbook.


bunny for the 1-yr old

though I've made this bunny for a few babies, this was my first attempt at "dressing" the bunny. of course, I had to make up the pattern. it will need a few changes next time. but, I feel pretty good about this attempt.

the bunny is just 12-yr old McCall's pattern that has seen many, many days.

hope baby H. enjoys.