Let's Make Pizza!

First you make the easy dough (recipe follows). Then you pat it out in a circle.

This is a pretty good circle.Everyone pats it out in their own way.

If you are brave you try to twirl it into a circle.
Every age thinks this is fun.
Good job!Then you add your toppings--these are bacon and cheese.
Last you bake in a very hot oven, and voile--Pizza. Yum!

These are Margarita, Roasted Tomato with Olives, and Cheese

Pizza Dough (from the Cuisinart food processor book)

This makes 1 3/4 pound dough, three 12-inch or six 6-7 inch crusts / 6 servings
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1-1/4 cup warm water (105-115F)
3-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp extra virgin olive oil

In a 2-cup liquid measure, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until foamy about 3-5 minutes. Insert dough blade in work bowl of food processor and add flour, salt and 2 tsp of olive oil.

With machine running on dough speed, pour liquid through small feed tube as fast as flour will absorb it. Process until dough cleans sides ow work bowl and forms a ball. Then process for 30 seconds to knead dough. Dough may be slightly sticky. Coat dough evenly with 2 tsp. olive oil; transfer to a plastic food storage bag and seal the top. Let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes. While dough is rising, prepare any pizza toppings.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and punch down. Roll into desired crust sizes. Add toppings. Bake in hot oven 450 for about 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Have a great day!


Be Mine

Here are two quick Valentine ideas:

1. Save your Valentines this year to make a quick Valentine banner. These are cards from last year's valentines-making party that are just clothespinned onto a ribbon. Last year, and I intent to do it this year, I invited a dozen friends over, bought blank cards and scrapbook paper from the craft store, cut out some paper hearts, made some heart-shaped sugar cookies and cupcakes and had a fun party. Everyone used their creativity and left with valentines that they could then send or give to others. Here are a few examples from the banner. 2. The BE MINE picture is an old window that was painted on the reverse side with acrylic paint. You can find old windows (and a lot of other cool stuff) at salvage or junk stores inexpensively. Just remember to reverse the lettering on it so it is readable from the right side.

As Martha would say, "It's a good thing!" Have a happy day.


HGTV Dream Home

Just want everyone to know about the biggest Give-Away--the HGTV dream home. It was built in Sonoma, CA a nice little town about 45 minutes north of San Francisco. My daughter's and I went there in November for a Girl's Weekend. There are many wonderful Spa's there. Of course Sonoma is in the Napa Valley so there are lots of vineyards but also it is a quaint little town with a cute town square surrounded with unique shops. At any rate, you can register to win this 2 million dollar home every day until Feb. 19. It will be showcased on HGTV on Feb 6. It looks fantastic. I would love winning it and put in my vote everyday! I have put their link here for you. (But then I shouldn't have told you; my chances won't be that good!)


Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today, January 26, 2009

Outside my window...it is dark . It snowed last night so when it does get light it will be a wonderland of winter white. On days like this my mom would always recite to us:

"Fenceposts wear marshmallow hats on a snowy day,
Bushes in their nightgowns are kneeling down to pray,
And all the trees have silver wings and want to fly away".

I am thankful for...my eight cute, funny, adorable grandchildren. They are so diverse in their personality that it makes for a good mix--no two alike. I enjoy seeing them, being with them and learning more about what is important to them.

From the kitchen...Today I think little 4-year-old Ella and I will make cupcakes. We can frost them and decorate them with the conversations hearts and red hots for Valentines. Because she thinks cupcakes are just a vehicle for the frosting, I will have to make the frosting very delectable so she will have a happy, delicious memory of the event.
I am wearing...my workout clothes, with no make-up and my puffy jacket while I wait for my neighbor/workout friend. I am ready to expend some energy and hopefully some calories this morning.

I am creating...I bought fabric for a baby quilt for grandson # 9 due in April that I want to get started on. It is going to be so cute in shade of periwinkle blue, chartreuse, and turquoise patchwork on the front and backed with ivory minke on the back. I am also working on some adorable totes from sweaters that I will post when I get them done.

I am going...to a class this morning (after I workout) to learn what I've been doing wrong. I am trying to crochet a little hat for my grandson who is due in April. So far it would be a nice doily for my table as it is turning out very flat! I have not crocheted in many years and thought I knew how to read a pattern, but left on my own, it is apparent that I need some help in this department. I am excited to go and begin this little hat again (after I undo all my work).

I am reading...I don't have a current book right now, although, of course, I always have my magazines, if they count.

I am hoping...to go to the library today. All my books about blogging, and my Madonnas of Leningrad are due back. I hope to have time to go in and check out a book to read. Anyone ave a good suggestion for an interesting, not-too-many pages book to read?

I am hearing...my furnace going strongly trying to get my house warm for me. (I Love being warm--Got to love that furnace!!)

Around the house..It is quiet, not a creature is stirring.

One of my favorite things...Sunshine. It oftentimes is spectacularly beautiful with full sun on the snowy on a day like this. I'll wait and see what today brings. It won't really matter, if I have sunshine in my heart anyway.

A few plans for the rest of the week: are to workout each morning, to begin the quilt, have my hair cut and colored tonight, visit two women friends Tues morning, watch movies with two other friends on Tues evening, take my sweet 87-year-old aunt shopping for shoes on Wednesday and have lunch with her afterward, clean my house and guest quarters because a friend is coming to visit from out of town for the weekend. I hope I can get it all done!

Here is picture thought I am sharing..To learn more about the Simple
Woman's Daybook click here


Savoring Friendships

I received in the mail today a letter from a dear friend that I had made 28 years ago when she had 5 adorable blonde little girls and I had 3 adorable blonde, brunette and brown haired little girls. Her letter reminded me of what a wonderful thing friendships are. Even though we do not see each other often, just the sight of her handwriting made my heart happy and excitement filled my soul to open her letter, see her darling daughters with families of their own now and to be able to share in the tales of her busy life she is now experiencing.

Friendships begin in many different ways, some instantly, some unexpectedly, some after spending much time together and some with much effort. "That's how it is with people sometimes. When you least expect it, a common thread--golden, at that--begins to weave together the fabric of friendship" (Mary Kay Shanley)

I love that girlfriends can be of any age. When I was first married my "best" friend was 90 years old and helped me and give me such sage advice about raising children. I love to have friends that are younger than I am too. We help each other out. They help me stay young and I have experience that I can share with them. Each life that touches ours influences the way we see the world and handle our own situations. Even if we are separated by time and distance, and can no longer hear their voice or see their face, we never forget the impact that they have had on us. Friends stay with us in our memories and they are a part of our lives and continue to be.

I consider my friends to be my sisters--so close and extremely cherished in my heart. Maya Angelou has said, "In times of trouble, there are about seven women in the United States I can call at any hour and say "Now. Now, I need you now." And they will come. No questions. No objections..Nothing, nothing would keep them from me and me from them." I have special friends like this and feel blessed because of that fact and because of them.

Thank you to all my friends both old and new (and to those who will become my friends.) I never take our friendship lightly but feel eternally blessed because of it and you. You have given my life sunshine on a gloomy day!

By the way, if you'd like to feel balmy check out Jen's blog. She's in Hawaii and has a fun Hawaiian give away: http://tatertotsandjello.blogspot.com/


Pomp and Cupcakes

I was so taken with all the pomp and circumstance of yesterday's events that I did my own American thing: Made patriotic cupcakes with my granddaughters. Here are some of them.

My dear sweet schoolteacher mother always had a poem for every occasion and quite a few for everyday too. Here is one from her kindergarten class entitled Washington by Nancy Byrd Turner

He played by the river when he was young,
He raced with rabbits along the hills,
He fished for minnows, and climbed and swung,
And hooted back at the whippoorwills.
Strong and slender and tall he grew--
And then one morning, the bugles blew.

Over the hills the summons came,
Over the river's shining rim.
He said that the bugles called his name,
He knew that his country needed him,
And he answered, "Coming!" and marched away
For many a night and many a day.

Perhaps when the marches were hot and long
He'd think of the river flowing by
Or, camping under the winter sky,
Would hear the whippoorwill's far-off song.
At work, at play, and in peace or strife,
He loved America all his life.


I N A U G U R A T I O N D A Y 2009

This is an historic day for all. As we glue ourselves to our tv's to take in every moment let us recommitt ourselves to support our new President and government in their efforts to keep us safe, uphold the constitution, make decisions for the good of all the people and live lives that have meaning and purpose.

G O D B L E S S A M E R I C A !


The Simple Woman's Daybook

For today, January 19th, 2009...

Outside my window: The sun is shining brightly. The mountains are purple and white through a cloud of fog. I don't think we will be getting snow today so it must be fog not clouds of snow on the mountain.

I am thinking about:
How the inauguration tomorrow will affect the average american.

From the kitchen: Not much here unless I can count my conversation hearts (which are food!) that I have opened and am going to give them with some tulips to friends that have helped me last week.

I am wearing: My jeans, a brown long sleeved T-shirt and brown, 3/4 sleeved long sweater with big collar and 3 big buttons. It is nice and warm.

I am going:
I want to go to the movies this afternoon with my daughter and grandchildren. I have been staying inside to try to get rid of my congestion. It is a big decision. I am so sick of staying inside that I might just take that time to get out for awhile.

I am hoping:
to get back to my normal kind of boring life soon. Also, to learn more about blogging.

One of my favorite things:
to be with friends and family.

To learn more about The Simple Woman's Daybook and to read their entries, click here.

I was awarded my first blogging award this week. Jennifer at Tatertots and Jello has given me the Triple Award!

Here are the rules for the recipients:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.

I would like to pass this award along to these wonderfrul blogs:

1. Beth at Aunties with Advice
2. Wenderful
3. Sally at Bossy!
4. Vicki at The Crockett Chronicals

And anyone else who sees this award and wants it can have it. Just leave me a comment so I can meet you.

Thanks for coming by the cottage! Have a nice day!


I Love Magazines

I love magazines! When one comes in the mail I have to hold myself back from sitting down right there and reading it cover to cover. I try to spread out the reading so that I can enjoy it as many days as possible. But, it is hard what with its enticing front cover trailers, bright colors and tempting pictures of food. Don’t get me wrong, I read books too. Just last week I read Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean about the siege on Leningrad by the Germans and about Marina who works as a tour guide in the Hermitage Museum with all the masters paintings of the Madonnas. It is my book club’s selection for this month. It was interesting and quite historical. But not one picture! And very meager food mentioned as they are in a famine and all, unless you can call eating pine needles, food, which they did.

I have been trying to eliminate my stacks of magazines, what with it being the new year and articles on organization in every January issue and all. So, I’ve been giving each one a quick look- through before saying farewell to my comfy friends. But, have you seen the tantalizing recipes in them lately? I have to admit that next to magazines, I love cookbooks and recipes. So, I have been holding myself down trying not to tear out half the magazine that I am throwing out in a few minutes. But it is hard. Just listen to this recipe: Olive Medley Pinwheels that uses black, green and kalamata olives mixed with cream cheese, lemon peel and garlic, spread on warm tortillas, rolled up with sweet pepper strips. Refrigerate, then cut into ½” slices. Doesn’t that just sound like the best little hors d'oeuvres or mini side dish? I could take that to my next cocktail party or pot luck. Except that I never get invited to cocktail parties! and any pot luck dishes need to have more substance to them. But I’ve torn it out just in case.

(This is my cookbook shelves--overflowing and much used.)

But, listen to this one: Orange-cranberry cake (and the color picture looks delicious in its bundt cake shape with the exposed cranberries in perfect placement and the orange glaze sliding down the sides of it. I know that we’ve just gone through plenty of sweets during the holidays and I am now trying to lose the pounds from over-indulging myself on all manor of baked goods containing enough butter to deep-fry a turkey but, I can tell from the picture that it would taste soo good. And maybe I might need this recipe in March when I have given up all hope of losing the 3” around my waist and that particular day might just need a little snack of fresh cranberry with infused orange cake. I’ll save it just in case. But, I must keep going, I have only gotten through my December Better Homes and Garden magazine. And Martha, Oprah, Mary and my Country magazines are calling!


Breathing--In and Out

I have come to really appreciate the little things in life that I have been taking for granted. For the past three weeks I have felt like my body has been drug through the sludges of poor health and care beginning with a fall on the ice landing on my tailbone and then the back of my head. Then, through a virus I couldn't get rid of or get medication for. And while still coping with those two, having chest X-rays with the diagnosis of bacterial pneumonia!

But, the good news is that my perception of life’s daily miracles has heightened and awareness that had lain dormant, almost, for many years is now in place. Of course, I would rattle off these as some of life’s blessings but the happiness that they can bring to someone just wasn’t there for me until now.

Some of these daily happiness-inducing things are:
1. Breathing—in and out, deeply and without pain. When one thinks about the marvels of our bodies I think breathing is really taken for granted. Not any more, here at this house, though.
2. Warmth—a warm bed and house is wonderful. After spending hours, days on the couch under a warm blanket, they were my home, my nesting place. So nice.
3. Modern medicine—Antibiotics are a miracle. We are so lucky to live at this time in history to have so many medicines to cure so many ills-and so quickly.
4. Food—Simple nourishing Chicken Soup, milk/ muffins. Nothing tastes as good as the warm nourishing soup when one is sick.
5. Friends and family—Sympathetic and willing to bring anything and do what they can to comfort and relieve.
6. Laughter—Little children’s, even adult’s. The sound of happiness is affirming to the soul.
And last but not least,
7. Did I mention-Breathing deeply, in and out, without pain!

Oh, to be alive, what joy!


A Warm and Filling Recipe

I had planned on a tutorial of making Homemade Noodles today but sickness (children of another woman who was also going to learn with me) got in the way. So, I will give you an easy Tortilla Casserole that I made for the first time Monday. Because it got all eaten, I don't have pictures of it. But, it is very similar to regular Chicken Tortillas baked in a 9X12 pan except this is all layers in the casserole dish instead of each tortilla wrapped up with filling.

Chicken Tortilla Casserole
4 Chicken breast halves (split, with bones gives more flavor)

Let a pan of water come to a boil, then add chicken and cover. Turn off the stove and let them cook for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes take them out of the water and when they cool enough to handle, skin, bone and shred them.

Make a sauce with about 1/2-1 cup of the chicken juice, 1 can of cream of chicken soup, 1 cup of sour cream and 1 cup of milk.

Spray casserole dish with cooking spray like Pam. Then layer enough corn tortillas that you tear up into about 2" squares to cover the bottom of the dish. Next layer 1/3 of the chicken. Next layer 1/3 of a green pepper cubed. Then a layer of sauce. Make 2 more layers with the tortillas, chicken, green pepper and sauce. On the top sprinkle shredded monterey jack cheese (about 8 oz or to your liking). Bake 15 minutes in oven at 350 degrees. At that point open oven door and add whole, pitted black olives in rows on top. Put back into oven for another 15 minutes or until it is all bubbly and smells great. Serve it with a little salsa drizzled over it.

This is not a gourmet recipe. Just a really yummy one. I use fat-free sour cream and healthier soup to make myself think it is good for me! I hope you enjoy it too.


May I Take Your Order?

I volunteered several months ago to host a group that gets together for a potluck sit-down dinner and speaker once a month. That was last night and although I still do not feel well, I had to go through with it. So, I transformed my totally Christmas-free house into what looked like a restaurant. Last year when I hosted it 59 people showed up! so this year I borrowed tables and chairs and used my family room, office, kitchen and was prepared to add table settings in the livingroom if necessary. But it was snowing and I'm sure many felt like I did, that I'd rather stay home. Except I was home and there were just 30 people attending which was much more manageable.

This is what the "restaurant" looked like.

There were tables everywhere!

I bought white tablecloths from WalMart ($5.98 what a deal!) and used see-through fabric table toppers that I had made before.

Here is a list of some of the food people brought: 7 Layer Dip, Veggie tray, Chili with chips and cheese, Tortilla Casserole that I made (will have to post that recipe it was good), Puff pastry with shredded beef and spinach, croissants with yummy filling from Costco, Carmelized Onions and Potatoes, Tossed Salad. For dessert: Carrot Cake, homemade Cookies, Pecan Pie, Sampler with yogurt and chocolate-covered cinnamon bears, homemade brownies, nuts, dried apples. I did not take pictures as I was busy finding serving utensils and taking snowy coats from people.

As soon as the last guest departed, I took more Advil and my wonderful cough medicine with codine (my new friend!), and left all the garbages, untensils soaking, all the tables up etc and went straight to bed. I was exhausted. This morning I was able to tackle it much easier.


Chicken Soup and Quilts

There has been a lot of this in my family so far this year-hanging around with coughs, colds and strep throat.

We have been using a lot of these products as a result.

So today I decided to make Chicken Soup to help. This is the best Chicken Soup that I have tasted. It is fast and simple to make and just what the doctor ordered (well, at least I think he should have.)

Quick Chicken Noodle Soup

4 Chicken Breasts

Boil water, put in chicken breasts. Bring water to boil again then turn off stove and leave for 20 mins. Take out breast and cool enough to handle then cut up or shred.

5 carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 qt. water
4 chicken bouillon cubes (or use 2 qts chicken broth instead of water and bouillon.)

Boil veggies, bouillon and water together for 15-20 minutes. Add cup up chicken.

1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
1 tsp basil
pepper to taste
1 c. frozen peas
1/2 (ll oz.) pkg Grandma's homemade noodles, thawed

Add cream of chicken soup,basil, and pepper and bring to boil again before adding defrosted noodles and peas. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Enjoy! Yumm!


New Year of Happiness and Love

It seems that January is the time we plan for the new year. Some people list resolutions, some set goals for themselves. I would like to suggest we live our life ready for Happiness and Love as set forth by Miguel Ruiz in his book The Four Agreements. The pictures accompanying his four steps below are from another book entitled Sisters by Judy Katschke that my own sister sent to me for Christmas.

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using your words to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don't Take Anything Personally

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't Make Assumptions

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.

4. Always Do Your Best

Your best will not always be the same; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

Here's to a wonderful and happy new year filled with love and happiness!