Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Chicken Tamale Casserole

Today I want to share one of our favorite family recipes, Chicken Tamale Casserole!  I've been making this now for a couple of years, and except for Kate everyone loves it!  I love that it is not only easy to make, but tastes great, too!

❈ Chicken Tamale Casserole
1 cup (4 ounces) preshredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
1 (8.5-ounce) box corn muffin mix (such as Martha White)
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
Cooking spray
1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce (such as Old El Paso)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Combine 1/4 cup cheese and next 7 ingredients (through chiles) in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

3. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream.

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Halloween Of My Childhood

I have loved Halloween since childhood. I have many fond memories of various costumes I wore, usually the old vintage store bought ones with those awful plastic masks with the elastic string that always seemed to break. I recall going as Tweety Bird one year in a costume similar to this. One year I was Raggedy Ann, but my mom made my costume that year.  But my favorite costume was one I wore probably near the end of my trick or treating years. Kids of all ages seem to trick or treat these days, but when I was growing up there was an age at which it became less socially acceptable. After that we began planning parties, and many churches in the area hosted parties that older children were invited to attend. But one of the last times I recall trick or treating I went dressed as Holly Hobbie.

Even as a child I never cared for the scarier elements of Halloween, and I never dressed as a ghost, or even a witch that I recall, although I do have a cute black hat and some purple and white striped socks I like to wear just for fun these days. But my mom did always have a tape recording of scary sounds, like this,  that we would place near the window and play on Halloween night, along side a carved pumpkin.

And while I don't recall there being as many Halloween specials when I was growing up , I do recall a few from when my children were little, including The Pumpkin That Couldn't Smile, and Halloween Is Grinch Night.  I did find a few vintage cartoons that you might enjoy watching with your littles for a bit of old time fun.  The Headless Horseman, The Cobweb Hotel, and Skeleton Frolic.  Most of these old cartoons are from the '30's and I just love their vintage feel.

One of my favorite cartoons that I used to watch with my children each year, is Disney's The Legend of Sleep Hollow, narrated by Bing Crosby. I found a copy on DVD last year and snatched it up, but you can watch it for free at the link above. We've also enjoyed similar videos over the years, though not Halloween related, we did tend to watch them in the autumn of the year. These are from the American Legends series, Johnny Appleseed, and Paul Bunyan.  You might enjoy them, too!

Recently I was perusing the Internet Archives, and came across some books with a vintage Halloween feel, and you might enjoy looking through, as well.

- The Pumpkin Book
by Susan Olson Higgins
Full of Halloween History, Poems, Songs, Art Projects, Games and Recipes

The Best Halloween Book
by Lenore K. Dolan
Recitations, Dialogues, Plays, Exercies, Drills, Dances Pantomines, Songs and Games

The Little Witches Halloween Book
by Linda Glovach
Halloween Decorating, Cooking and Handicrafts

- The Penny Whistle Halloween Book
I have always loved the Penny Whistle publications!

- Witches, Pumpkins and Groaning Ghosts
by Edna Barth
The Story of the Halloween Symbols

I hope you have enjoyed this little trip down memory lane, especially if you are part of my generation and share some of the same memories. And perhaps I've introduced you to a few vintage, but new to you resources that you can enjoy with the littles in your life this Halloween season.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Dad And The Canadian Geese

On the back of this photograph, written in my grandmother's undeniable script, it reads;

Robert Owen, 1947

That would have made him fourteen, and fourteen years later I would be born. It's funny how time (and age) changes your perspective. As a child fourteen years seemed like an eternity, but when I look at this picture it just amazes me how much his life changed over the next fourteen years.  From a young teenage boy in small town Texas, to a young man who was married, a father and living in a home he owned in the suburbs of the big city.

I didn't mention the geese in my header in my previous post, because there is a specific reason that I included them. They were not part of the original image I found online, but as a little tribute to my dad, I wanted to include them. So I found a silhouette image and added them in and I just love that every time I look at it, I am reminded of my dad.

I am not sure at what age my dad became fascinated with geese. But my guess is that as a young boy growing up on a small farm, he probably saw his share flying high above in that big Texas sky. What I do know is that I swear he could hear them coming from miles away, because as soon as he heard the faintest hint, he was outside looking for them, calling out to me or anyone else to join him. Then he would stand, expectantly, until he caught first sight of them, which was always followed by,

"Boy, just look at them go!"

I can't even tell you the number of times that scene played out in my childhood, all I do know is that it seemed he never missed them, and he often remarked how beautiful they were.

As a young mother I recall a picnic we went on once at a local park, and how excited he was to find geese walking along the banks of the pond.  He hurriedly rallied the kids to show them. I don't recall him knowing a lot about them, all that mattered to him was that he found them beautiful and they fascinated him. My dad liked sharing the things he loved with the people he loved, geese and the stars!

It wasn't until after I lost my dad in 2008 that the geese took on special meaning for me. I read a quote recently that depicts it perfectly.

"You never know the value of a moment,
until it becomes a memory"

 - Theodore Seuss Geisel

After dad died, every time I would hear a goose honking it was as if somehow, he was nearby.  All those special moments I shared with him, watching a flock fly high over head . . . are now some of the sweetest memories I carry.

Last Autumn when Bill and I were camping in West Virginia, we heard a flock land near the lake pictured at the top of this post, and the next morning I stood in awe as they swept high into flight above me on to their next destination.  It was a moment I will never forget, sacred, really.

A few years ago Bill bought this beautiful wooden goose for me for my birthday. It may be my most treasured possession. For the time being it is safely tucked in a corner in our bedroom, though when I took this picture (from our previous apartment), I kept it in the middle of the dining room table.  But it topples a little and doesn't stand very steady, and I'm fearful it will fall over and break, so until I find a better solution, I'm keeping it in a safe place.

I'm hoping to see geese on our trip this week, and when I do I'll think of my dad. He never missed them, but oh how deeply I miss him!

We are out of town for a few days, camping, so I won't be replying to comments, 
but I do have several days worth of posts lined up, so be sure to check back!
I'll check back in this weekend!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

My Mom's Recipe Box

When I was creating the graphics for another post, I came across some clip art that reminded me so much of a recipe card my mom had when I was little, that I immediately retrieved her recipe box (a treasured keepsake), to see if she had filed any of them away.  But sadly, no.  However looking through the box (which is 90% cakes, pies and cookies), stirred up a lot of emotions.

It's no surprise to me that regardless of the fact that there were dividers for a number of different food groups, that it was overflowing with recipes for sweets. My mom LOVED to bake, and it was the one thing she did right up to the end of her life that still seemed to bring her a lot of joy.  Though glaucoma had robbed of her much of her sight, she could still see well enough to bake things, though admittedly at times the measurements were, shall we say, a tad off.  In her later years she stuck to recipes that she had made so many times she knew them by heart (mostly), and on a few occasions she had me take one of the cards from this very box and write it out in VERY large print on several sheets of paper so she could read it.

I knew this box was old, but it wasn't until today that I noticed her maiden name scratched in the top, so now I'm thinking she may have been collecting recipes even before she met and married my dad, and as you can see it is well worn.

Of course in the picture at the top she is not quite old enough to be doing much in the kitchen, I think she once told me that this was her first grade school picture. But in going through some old family pictures recently, I laughed at how many there are of my mom in the kitchen, like the one below. My dad raved about my mom's cooking, and she loved cooking for him, so I'm really not surprised.  Several of the recipes in this box I know she's had since the 70's because I remember her making them.  But I think some of them may be even older than that. Looking at her familiar script is comforting, in an odd sort of way.  A little piece of her that I still have with me.

And while this isn't the same Apple Cobbler recipe that is shown on the card in the picture, I thought it might be fun to include one here as well.  To be honest, the recipe on the card didn't sound very good to me, and I never once recall my mother making it.

 Apple Cobbler

7 to 8 large (9 cups) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored, sliced 1/4-inch
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter, melted
Ice cream, if desired

Heat oven to 350°F.  and place sliced apples in ungreased 13x9-inch baking dish.

Combine 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in bowl; sprinkle over apples.

Combine remaining cinnamon, flour, sugar, eggs, baking powder and salt in bowl; mix until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over apples. Pour melted butter over topping. Bake 45-55 minutes or until lightly browned and apples are tender.  Serve warm with ice cream, if desired.

Do you have a collection of recipe cards written out in your grandmother or mother's familiar hand?  And isn't it lovely to have such treasures?   What is one recipe from your childhood that you remember someone in your family making and do you still make it today?  For me it my mom's chocolate pie, which I make every Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I'll be sharing that recipe here with you soon!  Until then, leave your memories (and recipes), in the comments!

We are out of town for a few days, camping, so I won't be replying to comments, 
but I do have several days worth of posts lined up, so be sure to check back!
I'll check back in this weekend!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Inspiration Behind My New Header

This is my paternal grandmother, Irene Hooper Hutsell, taken on her birthday, October 4, 1921. She was 19 years old. I never recall my grandmother looking this young, obviously. I wouldn't show up until November of '61 and by then she was 59 years old. My father was several years younger than his two sisters, so that by the time I came around all of the other grandchildren were grown and married themselves. But at some time in her early twenties she came down with scarlet fever and lost all of her hair and when it came back it was silvery white. So in my memory she always looked older than she really was. I shared a little bit about her in this post, and while we didn't exactly see eye to eye in my late teen and early adult years, I have many fond memories of her from my childhood, and the older I get the more I feel I am becoming like her, in many ways.

The house (pictured here), that she and my grandfather lived in, and in which my father was raised, was old. So old that when she passed away I honestly thought that once they removed the furniture the walls would collapse. When my father was little it was a working farm, complete with a horse for tilling and cows for milking. But by the time I was born the area around them had developed into a neighborhood, and their "farm" consisted of a small flock of chickens, a couple of geese and a rather large vegetable garden.

My grandmother once told me that she used to walk right by this house on her way home from school when she was little, and that it was old, even then. And yet the memories I have of the time I spent here inspires me even today. I credit my grandmother with a large portion of my domestic tendencies, with the exception of growing plants. She had a green thumb like no other and kept meticulous and beautiful flower gardens, and while I can keep things alive (kind of), I did not inherit the gardening gene. But as for home keeping, those traits do seem to have passed on.

Even though she never had much, and the house was old, it had a charm and beauty about it that made you feel right at home. Within these wall was instilled in me, a love for all things cozy, and like me, my grandmother LOVED fall and winter best, and often remarked that we were both so lucky to have birthdays in the fall of the year. She was also a magnificent cook, and almost every time we visited she had a loaf of my favorite gingerbread with lemon sauce ready and waiting. She also crocheted and made tatted lace, and I feel fortunate that I have a small piece of lace that she made. I think tatting has fallen out of fashion, and I'm certain that as meticulous as it appears, I could never do it! I'm still trying to master knitting!

I chose the graphic in my new header because the minute I saw it, I was reminded of my grandmother's house and the lot their house sat on. For many years they had a neighbor on one side of the house, but on the other side was a large open field, and just beyond that was a school and football field and when we visited on Friday nights you could see the lights and hear the commentator over the loud speakers. I used to run and play in that field, and wander through the gardens. There was an old shed in the back where they kept garden equipment where I liked to play house. But inside the house holds many fond memories, as well,

My grandmother's couch, which she always kept draped with a chenille bedspread, probably to hide the fact that it was worn, was the most comfortable couch in the world, at least in my memories.  Now that I'm grown, I'm pretty certain that all the support beneath had about given way, because when you sat down you sank pretty low into the cushion, which as a child suited me just fine. I have loved, soft and cushy from childhood and I thought that old well worn couch was the best thing ever. I recall many winter nights making up a little spot to read, covered up in blankets. I would just sink into the warmth of the cushions and most likely many nights feel fast asleep while the adults played forty-two.

I also inherited my love of magazines from my grandmother, and McCalls was her favorite. She would save all of the old issues for me after she was done with them and I would always cut out the latest Betsy McCall paperdoll.  The picture to the left are the ones I remember best, from the 70's.

Another memory I have is a set of tin tumblers (I guess they were tin), they were kind of like these, and when you filled them with ice they made the coldest glass of ice water! They made my hands cold just holding them. I recall that one of them was yellow and I thought it was the cheeriest color, and I always asked for it. My bedroom as a child was yellow for many years, mixed with orange, and even for awhile with Raggedy Ann and Andy, which sounds like an odd combination but somehow it worked. In fact, I even found the very sheets I had, and I had a comforter and sham as well.  It was also decorated in Holly Hobbie for awhile, which I adored!

Anyway, I could go on, but perhaps I'll share more memories in another post.  But I did want to add that the floral you see in my new header (it was in my old one, too), reminds me of the wallpaper in my grandmother's front room,  It was the most beautiful golden yellow, or perhaps at one time it had been white and by the time I was old enough to remember it had aged, but I loved it!  It gave the room a lovely golden hue in the late evening, which is perhaps why the slant of light just before sunset and in early morning is my favorite.  I searched the internet to find something like it, and this is as close as I could come. It's not exactly like it, but very close.

And in closing, I wanted to share this recipe for gingerbread with lemon sauce.  Sadly, I don't have my grandmother's exact recipe, but this one tastes just like it!


1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
2 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup hot water

Lemon Sauce
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Dash salt
Dash nutmeg
1 cup half-and-half cream
2 large egg yolks, beaten
2 tablespoons butter
3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350°.

Beat shortening, sugar, molasses and eggs until well blended. Combine next five ingredients; add to molasses mixture alternately with hot water.

Pour into a greased 13x9-in. baking pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, for lemon sauce, combine first five ingredients in a small saucepan until smooth. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat.

Stir a small amount of hot filling into egg yolks; return all to pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat. Gently stir in butter, lemon juice and zest, increasing juice if needed to thin sauce. Serve with warm cake. Refrigerate leftover sauce.

We are out of town for a few days, camping, so I won't be replying to comments, 
but I do have several days worth of posts lined up, so be sure to check back!
I'll check back in this weekend!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Ordinary Days of Small Things Playlist

Just for fun, I've compiled a playlist of my top 12 favorite songs of all time! But before you scroll through and click, let me say this. I am fully aware that as far as singing goes, well let's just say Jimmy Durante and Louis Armstrong were not, shall we say, highly gifted?  Gifted yes, but as for singing, they would have never made it in today's world.

But these songs are from another time, when the world was, perhaps not simpler, but with a stronger moral conscience, in the the 30's and 40's, at least. Perhaps in the 60's at the height of the Vietnam war, we were struggling to regain a little of that morality.  

What I love most about these songs are the simple sentiments they communicate. What A Wonderful World is hands down my all time favorite song, it's even my ring tone on my phone. These songs encourage one to take time to notice "skies of blue, red roses, too", that "it's so important to make someone happy" and "when you smile, the whole world smiles with you!",which is at the very heart of the reason why I write. 

So I hope you will enjoy listening to this playlist.  Perhaps they are songs you are familiar with, and hopefully you'll be introduced to one or two.  Appreciate them for the sweet simplicity they convey! We are busy preparing for a short four day vacation in the mountains at the end of the week, but when I have time I'll compile them all in a playlist on Spotify and put a link in my sidebar. That way, if you enjoy them, you can just hit play and listen to them back to back.  But for now I've just linked to YouTube videos.

Louis Armstrong
January 1, 1968

Jimmy Durante

Steve Tyrell
Original release - 1945
Tyrell - 1999

Steve Tyrell
Original release - 1930
Tyrell - 1999
Also recorded by Louis Armstrong 
(another favorite!)

Louis Armstrong

Jimmy Durante

I've Got The World On A String
Frank Sinatra
Original release - 1933
Sinatra - 1953

Ella Fitzgerald
Original release - 1927
Fitzgerald - 1964

The Glory of Love
Jimmy Durante
Original release - 1936
Duranted - 1964
Also recorded by Bette Midler for the move Beaches

On The Street Where You Live
Nat King Cole
Originally written in 1956 for the Broadway musical My Fair Lady
Nat King Cole released an album in 1963 in which he 
recorded all of the song from the musical.

I'm Old Fashioned
Ella Fitzgerald
October 21, 1964

The Way You Look Tonight
Steve Tyrell
Original release 1936 by Fred Astaire from the movie Swing Time
Tyrell - 1999 for the movie Father of the Bride


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Favorite Poems - All Of Life And Love

Pumpkin patch in Delaware, Autumn 2018

I have loved poetry most of my life, and with each changing season there have been poems and poets that have resonated with me for various reasons.  But poems of hearth and home are the ones I love best, and the poem I am sharing below is one of my favorites.  

I first came across it some years back in a little book I picked up at a used book store, Poems That Touch The Heart. (It's available to borrow from Internet Archives, just click the link.). She also has a collection of poems she wrote herself, The First To Kneel, though I haven't been able to find it online. But this little poem so beautifully captures my own thoughts of home, and I wanted to share it here with you today.  I hope you will enjoy it.

Let there be within these phantom walls
Beauty where the hearth fire's shadow falls . . .
Quiet pictures, books, and welcoming chairs . . .
Music that the very silence shares. . .
Kitchen windows curtained blue and white . . .
Shelves and cupboards built for my delight . . .
Little things that lure and beckon me
With their tranquil joy, and let there be
Lilt of laughter-swift forgotten tears
Woven through the fabric of the years. . .
Strength to guard me, eyes to answer mine
Mutely clear. And though without may shine
Stars of dawn or sunset's wistful glow,
All of life and love my house shall show.

~ Catherine Parmenter Newell

Thursday, October 17, 2019

I'm Old Fashioned

An antique muffin tin, tea lights and silk autumn leaves adds a homey touch.

One of my favorite apps on our Roku is Crooner Radio.  We have Sirius XM in our car, and when I'm in the car I listen to 40's Junction or Siriusly Sinatra, but at home I have Crooner Radio on almost all day, either that or an old movie!  When it comes to music and movies, I'm pretty old fashioned.

Even my decorating style might be considered antique.  Primitive decorating is popular now, as well as Farmhouse style, but I've been decorating with old things all of my adult life.  Back in the 80's when I first got married and set up my first home it was called, "Country", and it was all things rosy pink and country blue. Now days I lean more towards black and white and earth tones.

Yesterday as I was cleaning house and preparing for company, I heard a song on Crooner that so resonated with me, I immediately stopped and looked up the lyrics.

I am not such a clever one
About the latest fads
I admit I was never one
Adored by local lads
Not that I ever try to be a saint
I'm the type that they classify as quaint
I'm old fashioned
I love the moonlight
I love the old fashioned things
The sound of rain
Upon a window pane
The starry song that April sings
This year's fancies
Are passing fancies
But sighing sighs holding hands
These my heart understands
I know I'm old fashioned
But I don't mind it
That's how I want to be
As long as you agree
To be old fashioned with me.

You can listen to Ella Fitzgerald singing it here.

I have to say, if there was a song that perfectly described me, this would be it. Since I've been .
decorating with old things for so many years, I've acquired quite a collection of treasured pieces.  Nothing of real value or worth, really, but to me, they are priceless, and at this point I don't plan on changing my style anytime soon. I could care less about the current style or trends. Just call me old fashioned!
Old furniture.
Old music.
Old movies.
Old sitcoms.

I'm even on a bit of a 70's earth tones bent right now, as we prepare to gut a van and turn it into an RV, our home on wheels.  We are planning to travel the country for a few years, and that is one of the reasons that I changed the graphics and color scheme. I'm actually going to be writing two blogs, continuing here, and also documenting our journey as we transition from home (apartment) living to van life for a few years (or more), who knows?  Obviously I can't take all of my pretty decorations with me, but thankfully our daughter is going to be living here in the apartment with a few friends, and she will be using most of it herself.  She likes farmhouse style, and many of the pieces I have will fit right in. I'll share  more about van life as things progress, and I'll link our other  blog as soon as I have it all tweaked and ready!

So what's your decorating style?  Are you a country/primitive girl like me from way back? If so, share what your favorite piece is in the comments.  And, if you like old music like I do, Crooner Radio is FREE, just follow the link above.
And if you have Sirius radio, check our 40's Junction (Ch. 73) and Siriusly Sinatra (Ch. 71).                                                                            

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