Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Sunshine

sunflowerPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

This week I saw great progress in my garden.  I love seeing new growth and fruit and vegetables forming.  I had a great time at the Bainbridge market on Saturday and am looking forward to my summer craft fairs.

Our weather has been postcard perfect summer weather: cool mornings and warm afternoons. I found some extra money in one of our bank accounts which has gone to a couple of items we'd been saving.

Time with family is always invaluable and such a blessing.

Other highlights of the week: HandyMan made pie with fresh peaches topped with homemade ice cream.  GBaby smiles and giggles. Late night laughter.  Conversations on life. Cool evenings on the back porch. Fresh asparagus and broccoli.

I hope you can look back, and forward, to find the joy dotting your story!  Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sprouts, Crops and Berries

2010gardenThis has been a very busy week in the garden.  On Monday I planted most of my remaining seeds for my summer crops: green beans, cucumbers, butternut squash, acorn squash.  By today, I could see little sprouts of my green beans and my cucumbers:



My spinach, lettuce and asparagus continue to flourish and my broccoli is shooting off little florets:





Finally, my peas are finally blossoming and my strawberry blossoms are rapidly turning into berries:



We also took some additional measures to protect our crops from critters.  I'll post more on that next week!
Linked Up
This post is linked to:
-5DollarDinners: Square Foot Gardening- Lane's Garden
-An Oregon Cottage: Tuesday Garden Party

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Candle Shop: Craft Fair Warm-Up

candle logo quickenFor those of you who are relatively new to ThrivingMama, in addition to being the Mama, cooking, gardening and homemaking, I also have my own business: Charity's Candles & Crafts.  I make and sell soy candles through the internet, local craft consignments and craft fairs.  This week I have been getting ready for my "real" craft fair on June 12th and my "warm-up" craft fair this weekend.

The annual General Clinton Canoe Regatta is held every Memorial Day weekend in the nearby town of Bainbridge that draws hundreds of visitors to our little rural area.  While they do have a flea-market/craft area on the Regatta grounds, I've found in the past that the sales do not justify the time of prep and manning the booth.  But, Bainbridge also holds a Saturday morning market open to all to sell anything.  Given the combination of the crowds for the Regatta and the good weather forecast for the weekend - it promises to be a good morning for peddling my soy candles.  If you're in our area, you can find me there from 8:30 to Noon on Saturday!

And wherever you are -have a fun and safe Memorial Day Weekend!

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pear Teething Cookies/Snack Sticks

I’m working on cleaning out the freezer before our summer produce moves into it’s winter digs.  While sorting through stuff I came across some baby food that I had made for GBaby a while back and never used.  The veggies I’ve hidden neatly in things like the HV Blueberry Bread and the HV Zucchini Bread.  Applesauce is fair game at anytime for anyone so I'm  not so worried about that.  Then I came across some pears.

I have wanted to make the Banana Teething Cookies again.  Although GBaby has cut all her teeth, she really likes this type of cookie best, especially if they’re coming from the freezer.  So I took the same ideas as the banana cookies – lots of fruit, little sugar, whole grain flours and came up this these Pear Snack/Teething Sticks. I have to say, they’re pretty darn good!  I’m thinking about pureeing some frozen peach I have to make another batch and it would probably work very well with applesauce too!

Are they ready yet Mom?
Are they ready yet Mom?
pearcookiesPear Breadstick Snack/Teething Cookie

1 cups pureed Pear [or whatever type of fruit you want]

2 eggs [substitute 4 egg yolks instead of two eggs for children under 1 year old]

½ cup Brown Sugar

2 cups White Whole Wheat Flour

1 ½ cups Unbleached Flour

1 teaspoon Baking Soda


1.  Beat eggs and brown sugar until smooth.  Add pear and blend thoroughly.

2.  Add flours 1/2 cup at a time until you reach a thick dough – should be similar to a soft play dough.  You may need more or less depending on the type of flour you use

3. Divide dough into 6 pieces and roll out into long ropes about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut into pieces 3-4″ long and flatten slightly.

4. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown for a breadstick type snack.   Bake at 325 for 35-40 minutes for a hard teething cookie.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Artisan Bread x2

Today, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed having artisan bread dough in my fridge.  It was the base of sticky buns for breakfast and pizza for dinner.  Both turned out spectacular and I only spent about 10 minutes prepping each dish.   The day was so busy that I didn't get any pictures- next time.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Sunshine

Practicing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

This was a very full week.   I am thankful that GBaby cooperated while HandyMan was out of town.  Also, during said absence, I was able to get the lower portion of the walls of our bedroom painted.  I'm thankful for all the new signs that GBaby is using.

I'm thankful that HandyMan had safe travels and once he gets home this afternoon we get him for a day before he plunges into another crazy week.  I'm thankful for sales on meat, for productive days of running errands with a mostly compliant toddler.

I'm so happy that we have had lots of sun this past week.  Afternoons spent playing in the water and dirt with GBaby are quite fun!  We picked our first broccoli.  I'm happy for this afternoon's clouds that will hopefully make for a great nap!

How was your week?

I hope you can look back, and forward, to find the joy dotting your story!  Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Getting Antsy

This week the garden continues to cruise along but I’m getting antsy.  The first trickle of produce is making its way to the kitchen and I want to put the rest of my seeds and plants in! So, I’m starting to plan the rest of my plantings.  I’m hoping to put green bean, zucchini, acorn squash, pumpkin, yellow squash, cilantro and basil seeds in the ground this week.  I will also buy my tomato and green pepper plants from our local farm stand/nursery but those guys will have to hang out on the porch for a little while longer while we get their new home ready.  The starter plants will go in the first weekend in June if our warm weather holds.  If you're thinking about planting some veggies this year - it's not too late!  You can even just plant a few containers on your back porch to add to your dinner table.  Green beans, tomatoes and peppers can all thrive in a container garden.  Click here to read more on that!

The asparagus and rhubarb continues to flourish. (I did get a bunch of the rhubarb picked in the freezer last night after I had posted my Freezer Friday.)  My broccoli is ready to be picked.  Although the central crowns are really small, the side florets are starting to form already.  My first planting of spinach is doing well and will be the base of salad in another week or so.

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Linked Up
This post is linked up to
-An Oregon Cottage: Tuesday Garden Party Square Foot Gardening: Critter Edition
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Friday, May 21, 2010

Freezer Friday: Summer/Fall Meat Stock Up

freezerfridaysmI love to buy bulk meat when I can get a good deal.  This was one of those weeks.  Our local restaurant warehouse store had meat on sale this week.  I was able to stock up for the summer and some parties we have coming up.

Pork loin, boneless skinless chicken breast and ground beef were all on sale for less than $2 per pound.  The catch: they were all packaged in ten pound packages.  I was able to have the butcher slice up the pork loin in to grilling chops.  I’ll turn a good portion of the ground beef into hamburger patties and chicken breasts were separated and portioned out for the freezer.

I usually like to throw marinade in with my meat when I freeze it to save a step later but I didn’t have the time this go-round.

When all was done, I had a nice stack of meat in the freezer ready for all of my summer grill meals to come!

And I have rhubarb coming out of my ears that needs to be picked and packed for the freezer… add that to the list!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cheese Soufflé Variations

DSC03697HandyMan is out of town this week, which means my breaks to be online are limited to when the adorable girl pictured to the right, decides to take a nap.

Yesterday I made a batch of the Cheese Soufflé that I posted about a while back and they are still oh-so-yummy!  I modified this time around and browned up 1 pound of breakfast sausage with a bell pepper and a small onion and put that mixture in the bottom of the baking dishes and pouring the soufflé batter on top.  This is a great variation and I also look forward to adding chopped spinach and asparagus from the garden to this wonderful cheesy dish.  Once I have enough glass dishes to spare, I'm also hoping to experiment with freezing the dishes for future baking.

Posts will be sparse this week.  For now, off to finish up a few more things before my "helper" wakes up from her nap!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday Sunshine

sunflowerPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

Another full week in my life, filled with joy.

We celebrated another victory in my cancer fight: a clear PET scan with no signs of cancer.  I got a day of uninterrupted work time - so productive!  My garden veggies survived the deep frost this week.

We were able to spend the weekend with family. GBaby was a great traveler and slept well during our visit.  We were entertained watching family friends interact and dote on our daughter and our daughter entertain them as well!  Such fun!

GBaby is getting better and better at communicating, adding words and signs to her stash.  (We've been using sign language for key words with her since she was about six months old).  Although she is getting up earlier and earlier as the days get longer, she has been a true joy to be around as she continues to learn and explore her world around her.

I picked up another baby-gate this week which has expanded the area I can work in the house (namely my candle workroom) while keeping an eye on the ever busy GBaby.    I've only had it a week and it is already worth it's weight in gold!

It has been a full week.  I hope you can look back, and forward, to find the joy dotting your story!  Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Garden on Cruise Control

2010gardenWith cooler temperatures this week - ok, it was downright freezing for May - most of the vegetable garden went into hibernation.  The asparagus decided that it was warmer under ground.  The broccoli and spinach decided they were going to use all their energy to survive.  The strawberries and rhubarb continued to plot their domination of the yard - tons of blossoms on the strawberries and the rhubarb continues to take off.  We're HandyMan is in the process of creating a force field of chicken-wire protection around the larger of the strawberry beds.

Of note on the edible front this week: blueberry blossoms :).


In other parts of the yard, we have an extensive variety of flowering perennials and other perennials that the prior owner put in and a few I've added.  Every spring brings new surprises.  Before Jack Frost bit my yard this week, I had a beautiful pink and blue scape of bleeding hearts, rhododendron and forget-me-nots by our front door:


The forget-me-nots and bleeding-heart made it through the freeze alright, but the rhody looks really sad.

I also have Solomon's-slippers taking over a corner of a flower bed and lily of the valley so dense in one area that I have yet to find a tool to separate it!

5-14garden1 5-14garden2

In one of my front flower beds, more forget-me-nots are in bloom, along with primrose and violets (you can't see).  Columbines are close to blooming and lilies are coming up (along with dandelions and weeds!).


The garden grows and the weather-guys claim to be sending us some warmer temperatures.  I'll believe it when I see it!  Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Coconut Fudge Cookies

coconutcookieWhen I think of coconut cookies, the first thing that comes to mind is macaroons. They're good, but always a bit more work than I want to put into a batch of cookies. I like to make cookie dough that I can freeze and pull out and bake when I need a dozen.

Monday night I got home and needed to whip up a batch of cookies and my computer was still packed away from my day out of the house so I turned to a Taste of Home cookbook that's been collecting dust on my shelf. I found a recipe for coconut cookies that looked good and weren't macaroons. I tweaked the recipe a bit to accommodate what I had on hand and this is what I ended up with.

They were SO good! They were so good straight from the oven. And as as a morning snack with coffee while I was working. And so good as dessert with dinner. And so good that the stash I sent to HandyMan's meeting completely disappeared. They were THAT good! If you like coconut, you should make them. If you like coconut and dark chocolate (think Mounds Bar) you should definitely put the chocolate on top.

Coconut Fudge Cookies

1 cup softened Butter or Margarine

1 cup Sugar

1 Egg

2 cups All Purpose Flour

1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

2 cups Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

Fudge Topping

2 squares Semi-Sweet Chocolate

1 Tablespoon Butter or Margarine


1.  Cream together sugar and butter.  Beat eggs into the creamed mixture.

2.  Add flour, baking soda and coconut and blend thoroughly.

3.  Divide dough and roll into logs 2-3 inches thick.  Wrap in plastic and place in the freezer to chill for at least 4 hours.

4.  Slice dough into 1/4 inch discs and place on a baking sheet.  [mine didn't spread much]

5.  Bake at 325 degrees for 18-25 minutes or until edges turn golden.

6.  Melt chocolate squares and 1 tablespoon of butter/margarine.  Spread frosting-style on top of the warm cookies. [I also want to try to make the cookies super thin and sandwich the chocolate in the middle like a fancy Pepperidge Farm type cookie].

7.  Allow to cool [or not] and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why I Keep Fighting

Five years ago by body was attacked, and I waged war with everything my doctors could give me to rid my body of cancer.  After three months of chemo and 3 weeks of radiation treatments, I won that battle.  And I kept fighting.  I keep fighting because progress is being made every year with new treatments.  In my relatively short lifetime, the type of cancer I had has gone from a terminal disease to having one of the highest cure rates among cancers.  That's worth fighting for!

While I have won back my health, my fight against cancer continues for those who are fighting for their health.  For friends who have been diagnosed with cancer, and those unknown to me who have had a portion of their life shattered by cancer.  I continue so that my daughter, my nieces and my nephews may see more curable cancers in their lifetime.

I have walked a marathon to raise awareness and funds for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, I have participated in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life as a Survivor, as a Participant, as a Team Captain and as a Committee Member.  I have grown and cut my hair a number of times to donate towards wigs for women who have lost their hair in their fight against cancer.

showhopeThis past weekend involved a lot of fighting.  On Friday and Saturday was our local Relay for Life.  For those of you not familiar with the event, it is an all night walking event and teams come together to raise money and spend the night walking.  This year I was on the committee so I did a lot of walking, just not on the track.  I helped set-up, break down and everything in between.  While I worked behind the scenes (where I tend to work best) there were 30 teams who had raised money and were walking and having a great time.  We wanted to raise $85,000.  At the end of the event, our staff coordinator announced that our small town Relay had raised $98,500 and she expected the final to come in over $100,000.  While this is nothing to shake a stick at, in order to fully appreciate the magnitude of this accomplishment by our teams, you have to realize that in this area of New York, we reported a 10.6% unemployment rate in February of 2010.  In the perspective of the current economics in our area, I am amazed and so grateful for all the hard work of these teams, individuals and our committee to make this happen.

haircut'Following Relay, I headed for a Hair to Share event in memory of a local teacher who had lost her fight with cancer.  My hair had been living comfortably in a braid between washings for about four weeks.  It had grown too heavy to pony-tail and it was definitely time to cut it off.  So I did.  And so did my friend Margery.  About 9 inches of my hair was cut to send off to the Beautiful Lengths program.  I have seen the wigs that have come back to our community through this program and was so glad to help.

Most people don’t have to go outside their circle of friends or family to see lives that have been affected by cancer.  Take a stand.  Join with those who are fighting for their health and fight along side them.  Check out the links in this post to learn more about programs you can get involved with.

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sunday Sunshine

sunflower Practicing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

As I sit here remembering my week, I'm ignoring the fact that it is May 9th and I saw snow flakes flying around this morning.  Instead, I will remember that it was 80 and beautiful on Wednesday and that the warm weather will return!  I put my clothesline to good use this week as I let our natural resources do the work for me.

On Friday and Saturday I was part of our local American Cancer Society's Relay for Life where our small, rural communities raised over $100,000.00 to go towards patient support and research.  Our goal as a planning committee had been $85,000 and we were all pleasantly surprised when the final numbers came in!  Relay for Life has been a big part of my walk through cancer and it was great to be there with my daughter and husband and celebrating my health.

On Saturday I was also able to take a part in a Hair to Share program in a neighboring town that was collecting ponytails for the American Cancer Society/Panteen Great Lengths program.  I've done Locks of Love before and had been growing my hair to donate.  What I love about the Great Lengths program is that the wigs come back to the communities and are distributed through the local ACS chapters.

I'm thankful for my Mom and I'm so blessed to be a mom.  I'm thankful for HandyMan who helps juggle the house so that I can be in and out at all hours with Relay.  I'm thankful for today.

It has been a full week.  I hope you can look back, and forward, to find the joy dotting your story!  Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Roasted Potato Salad

I LOVE roasted potatoes. If you like roasted potatoes, you can quit and serve them as they come out of the oven. If you need a tasty summer side dish that is ready to serve from the fridge, take the next step and have a fantastic potato salad. My only regret is that I didn't have enough potatoes to double this and have it extras in the fridge this week (and that I forgot to take a picture)!

Roasted Potato Salad

8 cups chopped Red Potatoes (1/2 inch cubes work great)
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Rosemary
1/2 cup finely chopped Onion
1 cup grated Cheddar Cheese
1/3 cup Mayonnaise
1/3 cup Sour Cream

1. Toss potatoes, olive oil and spices together until all are evenly distributed.
2. Spread potatoes on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 40-60 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender. Turn potatoes every 15 minutes to keep.
3. Once potatoes have thoroughly cooled, add shredded cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise and stir.
4. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Garnish with green onion and/or crumbled bacon.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

See How the Garden Grows

2010gardenYesterday I was out watering the garden, twice since it was fairly wa5-6garden04rm.  I swear, I could watch the asparagus shoot up out of the ground.  Our asparagus bed came established with the house when we bought it 4 years ago and has always done really well.  This year, once I got all the grass off the top, is no exception!

My spinach is doing well.  Round 1 is getting it's third set of leaves in, Round 2 is on its first leaves and Round 3 is just starting to poke up out of the ground.  I need to get my last planting in this weekend.

I planted little gem lettuce - they're supposed to be cute little 5 inch heads of lettuce perfect for a single salad.  These little guys are just sprouting their leaves.

5-6garden02 5-6garden05

The rhubarb continues to flourish and the strawberries are beginning to blossom.  We are going to have to get in gear to get them protected!


My peas have finally decided to grow a little bit - they're starting to stretch for their trellis.

Last but not least, the broccoli.  I have tiny heads of broccoli forming already!  Some of the plants I had given up on after the Garden Beast attack are actually doing relatively well and may bring me produce after all!  Yesterday when I went out I saw beautiful little broccoli crowns forming:


Today I saw that some Beast had a snack last night!  Grrrr!  At least they limited their party to two of my plants!


The weather has been great this week: the perfect mix of rain and sunshine.  I'm antsy to plant my post-frost-date crops but will hold out.  Our nights have a tendency to stay cool for a little while longer.


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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

HV Blueberry Bread


I have to admit, while trying to use up the yellow squash in my freezer I've come up with some hidden veggie recipes that were tolerable but not worth sharing. However, I struck gold with this on on Saturday. It turned out delicious! You can make it in loaf pans as a bread or it would be just as yummy in square/rectangle pan as a coffee cake. Just adjust your baking times accordingly.

HV Blueberry Bread

3/4 cups Margarine
1 1/2 cups Sugar
3 Eggs
3/4 cups pureed Yellow Squash
3/4 cups Milk
2 teaspoons Vanilla
3 1/2 cups Flour (I substituted 1-1/2 cups White Whole Wheat and it was great!)
2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
2 cups Blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1. Cream margarine and sugar together. Add Eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.
2. Add squash and milk and blend thoroughly.
3. Add flour and baking soda and mix. Once batter is smooth, fold in blueberries.
4. Spoon batter into greased pans (2 loaf pans or 1-9x13) and bake at 350 until inserted toothpick comes out clean. 40-60 minutes for loaves, 35-45 for pans.


Linked up at $5Dinners Yellow Squash Grow Eat $ave post.

Monday, May 3, 2010

May Cooking Weekend

This was my weekend to cook after joining up with the Freezer Cooking day efforts over at  I generally do a big grocery run once a month and freezer cooking works in very well for my cooking habits.

I think I did pretty well this month. My plans to get marinated meat to the freezer didn't come to fruition, but we are ready for a lot of summer weather meals. See:


I prepped the ground beef to serve as burgers or to be added to other meals and I roasted two chickens.  We had some for dinner on Saturday and it was so good!  Made me wonder why I don't cook whole chickens more often.  Anyway, after dinner, the remaining chicken was separated out to go on salads  this week and to the freezer for meals later this month.  I also went the extra step to make the broth - well worth it!  Since I was cooking around the mood of a 15 month old, my cooking projects spanned the weekend.

The end of the weekend tally looks like this:
>20 & 1/2 hamburgers formed and frozen in meal packets
>2-1lb packets of hamburger to the freezer for later use
>2 HV Blueberry Bread Loaves: I took one to party on Saturday, one to the freezer. (recipe coming)
>3 Rhubarb coffee cakes (one for breakfast, 2 for the freezer)
>3  packs of Shredded Chicken for sandwiches or salads
>4-3cup containers of condensed chicken stock for later use.

Not pictured and prepped for the next week or so:

>2 quarts of homemade yogurt (smoothie season is in full swing here!)

>5 dinner sized salads for meals on the go this week

Added to meals that are already on ice, ready to be cooked or put on the grill, meal prep should be minimal this month.  I do plan to make one more round of the HV Blueberry Bread today for breakfast along with souffles.  It will be my one Monday Brunch I go all out for this month.

P.S.  I also made an amazing roasted potato salad to go with the chicken on Saturday. I'll be sharing that recipe this week too!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday Sunshine

sunflower Practicing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

In the fragmented nature of my morning and my mind, here are a few things that I found myself thankful for this week:

:: Warm breeze to dry my clothes

:: Rhubarb and asparagus ready to pick in the garden

:: That the local Relay for Life that I'm working with has more people involved this year than ever before - putting their time and energy into supporting those fighting cancer and researchers looking for cures!

:: The stomach bug that visited our house this week was only a 24 hour bug

::  I have had a productive cooking weekend

:: I have been able to jettison some unnecessary supplies from my candle shop through eBay.

:: The first meal of the summer on the porch

:: Smoothies

:: Dandelions (I know, most hate them in their yards, but they do look really cool against the fields of spring green.)

:: Rainy days when rest is needed most

:: Audiobooks

:: Loving support of family

It has been a good week.  I hope you can look back, and forward, to find the joy dotting your story!  Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!