It’s summer time – go ahead and take the plunge!

Today Jared & Jacob graduated from their swim class at our local aquatic center.  After they passed their ‘tests’ they celebrated by playing on the slide for a while.

Jacob takes the plunge first!
Jacob takes the plunge first!
Jared just out of the tube slide.
Jared just out of the tube slide.
Jared & Jacob standing at the steps of the slide pool.
Jared & Jacob standing at the steps of the slide pool.

After the class finished playing on the slide, we all celebrated with potluck “goodies” party.

What does this have to do with sewing or quilting?  Well, not too much really.  Except the general principle that if you’ve been working really hard at something (whatever it is), it’s good to take some time to just have FUN and enjoy life.

Go ahead, make a big splash and take the plunge! It’s summer time.

How does our garden grow?

I have not put in a garden for several years, but decided to do one this year.

I really missed the taste of home grown veggies.  Caring for a garden in the high desert is a little more challenging than other locations, in my opinion.  The intense sun and often brutal wind can decimate plants before they even take hold if you don’t pay close attention. Watering is essential–sometimes twice a day–if you hope to have a healthy garden.

This year we decided to put in raised beds using landscaping rock/brick.  Working on a budget, we did all the work ourselves.  It wasn’t easy, but it has been very rewarding and the garden is doing pretty well so far.

Here are a few pics:

Left Corner Bed - Zucchini & Pole Beans
Left Corner Bed - Zucchini & Pole Beans

Main/Center Garden along the back wall.
Main/Center Garden along the back wall.

The main/center garden runs along our back wall.  It is approximately 30′ x 4′.  From left to about the center section of this bed, we have more zucchini, green bell peppers, a jungle of tomato plants (beefsteak, early girl, super sweet cherry and yellow taxi), and a few strawberry plants.

Center Garden bed, right end view.
Center Garden bed, right end view.

At this end of the main/center garden bed we have cucumbers (spilling over the sides), carrots, green onion and Chinese Sweet red peppers.  Zinnia and Multi-Color mini sunflowers form a backdrop across the length of the bed.

Right Corner Bed.
Right Corner Bed.

In the right corner bed we have Pablano Peppers.

I love shopping for veggies in the backyard and the boys are loving how fresh they taste–much better than the store!  Yes, I love gardening.  It is a fair amount of work, but the harvest and sharing the abundance with neighbors and friends is very rewarding.

SewThankful Tracy’s Brownie Addiction Recipe

©Tracy L. Chapman May 2009 all rights reserved. To receive notice of future complimentary projects, recipes & ideas be sure to sign up for the FREE eNews at

http://www.sewthankful.com/SewThankfuleNewsSignUp.html

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It seems unbelievable that the Memorial Holiday weekend is already upon us. We are so very thankful for all the men and women in our military who serve our country with honor, valor, dedication and much sacrifice.  Jeff and I will never forget that FREEDOM was not and is not free.

Do you want or need something soft, chocolaty and absolutely delicious to sweeten your Memorial Holiday weekend?

This is based on the recipe my mother used when I was a kid.  It was on a handwritten card in her recipe box which came from a handwritten card in my Gram’s recipe box…you get the picture. They were a favorite at almost every family gathering or group event we attended through my childhood.

I tweaked Mom’s/Gram’s recipe over the years–to the point that these brownies have become an addiction.  I can no longer permit myself to make them more than a couple times a year because once you take a bite you just don’t want to stop.  WARNING: These brownies are NOT low fat nor low sugar. Don’t even think about making them if you are on a diet–they will KILL your diet.  But every once in a while, for a special treat or a group event…they are HEAVEN!  They are pure, soft,  sweet,  melt-in-your-mouth smooth chocolate bliss.

My mother used to put chocolate icing and nuts on top–but I don’t need the extra calories and I like the brownie so much that I don’t think it needs anything added.

Here’s the recipe – or click here for a printable document (PDF) requires a RECENT version of Adobe Acrobat Reader available for FREE at adobe.com.

  • 1 cup REAL butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon REAL vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups All Purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees – oven temperature may vary depending upon your oven, altitude, etc. Adjust as necessary.

Prepare 9″ x 13″ pan by spraying with Pam or use your preferred method.  I like to use a glass baking dish and spray it with Pam cooking spray.

Cream butter & sugar.  Add eggs one at a time and beat well.  Add vanilla–beat until well combined.

Sift flour, baking powder & salt together into a separate medium bowl – make sure all ingredients are well mixed.  Making 3 separate additions pour and mix dry ingredients into butter/egg/sugar/vanilla mixture. Mix completely each addition.  Add cocoa powder and mix well—the color and texture should be even and consistent.

Spread into prepared pan.

Bake approximately 25 minutes.  Do NOT over bake.  Brownies should show signs of crackling across the top (including into the center of the pan) but should still appear moist.  These brownies will rise in the baking process.  In the cooling process, the center area may deflate considerably while the edges & corners remain fairly high — this is normal.

Allow to cool at least one hour before cutting/serving. It’s worth the wait. They will taste amazing.

Serving idea:

I love them plain, but you could make them really decadent by serving with fresh raspberries and a scoop of homemade vanilla icecream.

ENJOY!

©Tracy L. Chapman May 2009 all rights reserved.

To receive notice of future complimentary projects, recipes & ideas be sure to sign up for the FREE eNews at http://www.sewthankful.com/SewThankfuleNewsSignUp.html

Spider Invasion…

Yo-Yo Spiders invaded on Halloween! Click image to view larger picture in a new window.

SpiderInvasion1

SpiderInvasion2

Jeff hung a large web across our entry way and placed several spiders overhead. The web/nest and spiders were a delight to trick-or-treaters!

Click here to access the Spooky Spider project page blog entry to learn how to make your own spooky yo-yo spiders for next Halloween.

Peanut Butter Finger Day!

I’ve promised my boys that Saturday (5/3/08) is going to be Peanut Butter Finger Day. 

Jared & Jacob are somewhat ambivalent about this proclamation because they don’t know exactly what Peanut Butter Fingers are. They’ve never had the pleasure. Ohhhhh….but just you wait! 

Peanut Butter Fingers were one of my favorite “bar” cookies growing up.  Grams’ recipe was the absolute BEST and she almost always had a batch for the family 4th of July picnic or family reunions or camp outs.  I have lots of great memories of Grams, summer and her wonderful Peanut Butter Fingers.

I think it’s been a good 8 – 10 years since I last made them.  Jared & Jacob have never tasted them.

In case you want to try some and need a recipe, here’s mine…it’s adapted from watching Grams (she never wrote hers down).

Ingredients for the cookie base:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
1/4 cup white sugar
1 unbeaten egg
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 – 3/4 cup chocolate chips (set aside to sprinkle on hot cookie)

Preheat oven to 350.  Cream butter and brown sugar (hint: add brown sugar gradually and cream until smooth); add white sugar, beat well.  Add/beat in egg, peanut butter and vanilla, mix well.

In a separate bowl combine all dry ingredients and mix well until all ingredients are evenly distributed. 

Gradually add dry ingredients, mixing well in to creamed mixture. 

Press dough mixture firmly and evenly into a prepared (greased and lightly flowered) 9 x 13 pan.  Bake in preheated 350 oven for approx. 20 – 25 minutes.  Remove from oven, place pan on cooling rack .

Topping:

1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 – 4 Tablespoons Milk

In a small mixing bowl cream powdered sugar and peanut butter.  Add milk 1 Tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.

After sprinkling hot cookie with chocolate chips (allow chips to sit for 5 – 7 minutes on hot cookie base), drizzle the creamy peanut butter topping over top.  Gently use a frosting knife to swirl the peanut butter topping and melted chocolate chips across the cookie.  Do NOT over mix it…you want to see swirls of chocolate and swirls of peanut butter.  Allow to cool completely…they taste (and cut) better when cool.

Cut into 1″ x  2″ bar sections and enjoy.  Betcha can’t eat just one!

Store any leftovers in a tightly sealed container.