a view from the laundry pile…

…it's all about perspective.

On being thankful…

For the month of November, a few friends and I have been listing, daily on Facebook, what we’re thankful for. Occasionally, others have chimed in. It’s been interesting to see what people come up with. In addition to what I expected, “family, friends, roof over the head, etc.,” there’s also been “hot chocolate with peppermint Schnapps,” “migraine meds” (interestingly, by the same person who was thankful for the hot chocolate…), “dishwasher repairmen,” “perky boobs,” and “not being 19 again.”

Among the many things I’m thankful for (though the hot chocolate does sound pretty good on this chilly night) are my dogs. I’m one of those crazy dog ladies that treats their dogs as children…well, almost. I value them as four-footed, fuzzy members of the family and they’re such great company for me, especially when Fred isn’t home.  I know not everyone is a dog person (and I’ll never understand why) but we are. Perfect they are not — but I, absolutely, adore my crazy “kiddos!”

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Peanut Butter Crackle Freezer Cookies

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner…

I found a jar of peanut butter, stuffed way back in the cabinet that needed to either be used or tossed (check out www.stilltasty.com to see how long you can keep things past their expiration date – great website!). The obvious choice is peanut butter cookies but, in addition to not having the time to bake 200 cookies, there was just no way we’d eat them all, even if I did, before they’d go stale.  

The only logical solution was to make batches of cookie dough and, rather than bake them now, freeze them until I was ready to bake them — and, this way, I could have however many I wanted, making the perfect serving size, every time, of hot from the oven cookies.

Peanut Butter Crackle Freezer Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted Butter
  • 1-1/2 cups crunchy Peanut Butter (haven’t tried it with creamy)
  • 1 cup White Sugar
  • 1 cup packed Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  1. Cream together butter, peanut butter, white & brown sugars, and vanilla
  2. Beat in the eggs. 
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt then mix into the batter.
  4. Roll into 1″ balls (about the size of a walnut). Those that you’re freezing, put in a single layer onto a baking sheet and freeze, at least, 3 hours. When they’re very solid, transfer them to a freezer bag and use as you need them.

To bake:  Place about 2″ apart on a cookie sheet and bake appx. 12-15 minutes at 350F (oven temperatures will vary  – look for a nice even brown color on the bottom and light brown on top). 

I think I might try this with a few other cookies to make my holidays a little easier…

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Mini art

If you know me, at all, you know I’m always looking for new painting projects (ie: give me something to paint on and I’ll try it…at least once). When I saw these mini canvases (and easels!), while dragging Fred through a craft store, I just had to try them.

I’ve done three, so far and, aside from realizing how frustrating it is to have 50-year old eyes and big fingers working with little paint brushes, it’s been a lot of fun.

I was quite excited when I sold the poppies (and have another order for 2 more!).  I love when people appreciate my artwork – whether it be just telling me they like a piece or actually buying it, both are a huge compliment for me.

The poppies and lighthouse I did from my own photographs. The octopus was, I believe, either from a stock photo or a Nat Geo photo. I think I’ll dig through my photos to see what I’m going to paint next…

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Easy Slow Cooker Baby Potatoes

After getting the last of the potatoes pulled, I noticed we had a lot of very small ones, maybe grape to walnut-sized. Thankfully, the skins are very thin so peeling isn’t necessary on these (not that I would’ve even had the patience for that…).

Normally, I would’ve roasted them but wanted to try something different (and didn’t have a lot of time to mess with them) so I decided to slow cook some of them. I filled the slow cooker about 1/2 way with potatoes and then added 1 can of Vegetable Stock and 1 can of Water (use any liquid or combination of liquids you’d like — there just needs to be enough to cover the potatoes). I added about 1 tsp. minced Garlic and 1/4 small, chopped Onion and set it on high. I checked it after 3 hours and they were done (still firm but not mushy). 

I took them out of the liquid (I’ll reserve this for soup stock) and added Butter, Salt & Pepper, dried Rosemary, and grated Parmesan Cheese.  

The next morning, I diced some of the larger ones for a breakfast “hash” and the rest were roughly mashed, for dinner that night, and I added a dollop of sour cream on top. Gotta love the versatile potato!

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Falling back…

Fall is upon us.

I’m always a little sad to see the leaves wither and die and the grass turn brown for another year but it’s kind of pretty, in the mean time, watching them change. Living in New England, for many years, I got a bit spoiled by the colors — but Washington certainly makes a grand effort to keep up!

The temperature drops and the winds grow cold but the water, pretty much, never changes regardless of the season. This is kind of comforting for me.

And all the neighbors that “disappear” through the trees for the summer, come back every fall.

I don’t mind the weather changing but it’s kind of hard to see the sun go down so soon in the winter. On the bright side, I can get out and shoot the sunset before supper so I can’t complain too much!

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2013 Calendar

I’m pretty excited about this project. I took some of my favorite photos and had them made in to calendars. I believe I captured the true spirit of the town in the pictures I chose. I have no idea if they’ll sell well or not but I ordered extra, for Christmas presents, just in case!

Here are the photos (sans the water mark, of course). I’m really happy with the way the whole thing turned out. (You can click on each one to see larger versions of the pictures!)

January – April

May -August

October – December

Calendar sample page

I’m very happy that I chose the black background for each of these photos. I think it really makes the colors “pop” (plus, what doesn’t go with basic black, right?).

https://www.etsy.com/listing/112622357/2013-wall-calendar-of-port-townsend 

(here’s the shameless self-promotional  link if you’re interested ;))

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

I only had time to carve one pumpkin, this year, so I had two left over to cook with (I think my “inner chef” planned it this way because I had every intention of making three jack-o-lanterns this year). 

I cut the two remaining pumpkins in half, scooped out the seeds (yes, I roasted them, of course) and strings, and baked them, cut side down on a foil-lined cookie sheet for about 70-90 minutes (or until fork tender).  Once they were cool, I scooped out the innards and put them through the blender (you can use a food processor).  I only needed about 2 cups for this recipe so I will freeze the rest of the pumpkin to use for something else.

It’s not often I can find one recipe that I like, start to finish…and this was no exception. I didn’t like the crust on one, the topping on another, wanted to change up some of the spices…well, you get the idea.  So, this is what I came up with…

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Crust

  • 1 pouch (appx 15 oz). Sugar Cookie Mix
  • 1/2 cup Gingersnap Cookies, crushed
  • 1/2 cup Walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Butter, cold

In a large bowl, stir in the cookie mix, cookies, and walnuts. Cut in the butter (remember the trick I told you about using a grater with frozen butter?) until the mixture is crumbly.  Reserve 1 cup of the mixture for the topping. Press the rest of the mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 13-9″ pan. Bake 10 minutes. Cool 10 minutes (before adding filling).

Filling

  • 1 (8 oz) package Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2 cups Pumpkin (you don’t have to use fresh but don’t use pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground Nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground Cloves
  • 3 Eggs

In a large bowl, beat the filling ingredients until well blended. Pour over the warm crust, sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1 cup of crust mixture, and bake 20-25 minutes at 350F or until the center is set (and a knife or toothpick in the center comes out clean).

Topping

At this point you can add no topping OR you can add whipped cream, or 1/3 cup of chocolate and/or caramel sauce, ice cream, or a delicious combination of all of them (or whatever else you can come up with —  your choice!).

For this photo, I used a homemade caramel sauce ( http://www.food.com/recipe/caramel-sauce-69479), but I think I’ll add a little bit of whipped cream next time…

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