Monday, April 30, 2012

How To Make A Birdbath From Terra Cotta Pots

Oh what a beautiful day it has been, especially for a Monday.  You know how Mondays can go sometimes.  Here it is the last day of April already.  Where does time go?  Today the weather was simply spectacular and we spent the entire day outside enjoying the above average temperature.  It was supposed to be in the high 80's today and I am sure it was, because I got quite warm at times, but the steady breezes kept it bearable.

Dan and our son in love Todd finished tilling and readying the garden space and it is ready for planting all those vegetables we hope to harvest this summer.  That's if the bunnies don't get them first.  We have some really big rabbits that dart through the yard and I know how they love the new green shoots of vegetable plants.  We will have to figure a way to keep them out of the garden.  I may have to consult  Mr.  McGregor about a solution.   Note to self, reread Peter Rabbit.

While Dan and Todd were busy tilling the garden, I worked on a little project of my own - a new birdbath for my "secret" garden.  This is not an original idea as I had looked up birdbath images on Google and found many examples of ways to make them.  I have a big concrete birdbath that I have had for years and it is really, really heavy.  Instead of using it for a birdbath this year, I am using it to hold the giant asparagus fern I got at the farmer's market last week.  Sometimes, I make some crazy choices.  Do you ever do things like that?

The birdbath idea I really liked was one made of terra cotta flower pots and I knew we could get that in our car.  We don't have a truck or big car anymore and it makes it very difficult to bring home big pieces of anything.  Flower pots will definitely fit in our trunk, so that is what I went with and this is a very easy project to make.   

First, you need 3 different sized flower pots, a large saucer and a small saucer.  My pots are 14", 10" and 8" in size.
I got my pots at Old Tyme Pottery and the two saucers at Home Depot.  Total cost was about $30.00 compared to a LOT more money for a ready made birdbath.  I bought a can of colonial red spray paint at Big Lots for $3.00 and had bottles of acrylic paint that I used for the decorating.  I also sprayed it with some acrylic sealer that I had.  You can get clear acrylic sealer almost anywhere spray paint is sold and it is just a few dollars for a can.  

First, I turned the biggest pot upside down.  I ran a big bead of E6000 glue around what would normally be the bottom of the pot (but is now the top) before placing the next sized pot on it. 
When  you place the next pot on upside down, this will bond the two pots together.  If you are painting your pots all different colors, you will want to paint them before putting them together.  I knew mine would all be the same color, so I put them together first.  It's your decision.  Repeat with the glue before placing the third pot over the second.  Now you are ready to paint.

First, I lightly sprayed all the pots with a white primer to help the red paint stick better.  When the primer dried, I sprayed the stacked pots and the saucers with the colonial red paint and let it dry.  When the paint was dry, I ran a big bead of glue around the top of the last pot on the flat surface and placed the biggest saucer on the glue, making sure it was centered and let it dry.  For the small saucer, I found a flat piece of concrete that had broken off of something and sprayed it red and sat the small saucer on it because I wanted to be able to remove it from the big saucer.  Now, I was ready to decorate the birdbath.

My decoration choice was to paint dragonflies on the birdbath and some fern fronds to tie it in with the garden.  I used a stencil I had for the ferns, using different shades of green to paint them on the pots and in the saucer.  For the dragonflies, I used some light lavender and pink mixed together for the wings and a mixed green for the body highlighted with black.
When the paint was dry, I sprayed the entire birdbath with clear acrylic spray just to help protect the paint from weather.  It took Dan and I both to move it to the garden area - terra cotta pots stacked are not light.  I won't add any water until tomorrow after it has completely dried.  

Doesn't it look pretty behind the wrought iron fence?  I hope all the birds in the yard will enjoy a respite in the garden birdbath splashing in the water and quenching their thirst.  It's going to be so enjoyable watching them this summer.

There are so many more projects that need to be done in the yard and garden, but we are gradually making progress.  Today's project was lots of fun and it was most pleasant spending time out of doors.  I have already started on tomorrow's project.  Check back and see what tomorrow brings.  

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
-Lao Tzu

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Secret Garden - Seeing With New Eyes

Did you ever have a brainstorm?  An aha, "lightening bolt kind of this is what I can do" moment?  This is my latest brainstorm, my little secret garden space.  This is just the beginning, but I am so excited about it.  We lived in our previous home for 24 years and I worked all those years on my beautiful secret garden.  It is the one and only thing I miss about our previous home.  All of my beautiful japanese maples trees, my huge weeping cherry, my pond with the fountain and so many beautiful plants.  The entire back of our house was paved in brick and it was truly, truly a lovely place to spend some quality quiet time.

I brought my wrought iron fencing with us when we moved.  I know it sounds crazy, but I love it and didn't know if and when I could use it.   But, I have found the places to use it this year.  It leaned up against this yard barn all last summer looking so forlorn.  It made me sad to look at it.

A few days ago, we spent the entire day in the yard while Dan mowed and I trimmed hedges and planted pots of bedding plants to liven up the front porch and the deck.  Every time I walked by this space, I would stop and look at it.  It's not huge, maybe 10 x 10,  and it was kind of weedy with violets and other stuff.  It is very shady because of the huge tree that canopies over it and I suddenly went - shade garden, it is a perfect shade garden!

Dan cleaned off the weeds for me and we discovered there was a concrete pad next to the yard barn which is attached to the back of the garage.  Wow, was I excited.  There was now the perfect place for my huge bird bath and one of my concrete benches.  When you look with "new" eyes, you see "new" things.  Of course, this is where some of the wrought iron fence should go.  Perfect!

We put the fence around the space and then it was time for a trip to buy some shade plants.  The Farmer's Market has tons and tons of beautiful plants so we headed there.  The first thing I saw was a humongous Springeri (asparagus fern) and that was our first purchase.  Look at how beautiful it looks in the birdbath.  It is enormous!  I know, a birdbath with a fern in it - new eyes remember?
Then, we put the concrete bench on the other corner.  Nice.  It will be such a lovely place to sit and meditate when everything is done.  We also moved some stepping stones into the garden space.

I had bought a Foxglove, some Caladium,  a small Hydrangea, a Columbine and had some impatiens left from my planting the other day.  Getting them in the ground was another story.  Poor Dan earned his keep today digging around and through all the tree roots.  Bless you Dan, it is much appreciated!!

Then, I placed my garden angel in the garden.  First I put it on a terra cotta pot, but I didn't like it much.
I went and found a round black pot I had and placed him on there.  There was too much contrast to suit me and it looks "shadier" on the back pot.  Now, it's like being home seeing my angel in the garden.
Doesn't he look sweet next to the Fern and the Foxglove?  Beautiful.

The space will be a perfect little meditation type secret garden and it adds so much life and color to the backyard and an unused space.  It is so peaceful and makes me happy beyond measure.  It is not finished by any means, but it's a start.  I will give you updates as things progress, but we are on a roll!

I am the queen of impatience.  Now I can't wait for the plants to get bigger and fill in the garden area.  It will be really spectacular and peaceful and we all need more peace in our lives don't we?  I love mossy, green places with all kinds of leaves and color.  So lovely.

Don't overlook unused spaces.  Look at them with "new" eyes and see all the potential they possess.  Create a lovely meditation garden for yourself, a place where you can spend time in quiet enjoying nature.  Know that there will be candles or some kind of low lights and other items added, this is just what we accomplished today.  I am one happy gal.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

One is nearer God's heart in a garden than any place on earth.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Green Bean Bundles With Bacon

Love her or not, Paula Deen has done a lot for the world of food.   I am a huge fan of the Food Network and have learned so much about cooking and being more adventurous through the years by watching people like Bobby Flay, Tyler Florence, Paula Deen and Rachel Ray just to name a few.

We know now that everything does not have to be boiled to death to be edible, that fresh chopped garlic is a good, good  thing, and there are a myriad of ways to prepare just about anything.  I have learned about all kinds of spices and cooking techniques which has definitely changed the way I cook through the years.  Most of us learn how to cook from our mothers and that doesn't always mean there isn't a better or easier way to do things.  It also means that things can taste better than the way mom fixed them and I love trying new recipes!  My mom never owned a cookbook.  I have a shelf full and now we have the internet at our fingertips.  Hallelujah for progress and the genius who came up with the Food Network.  I mean seriously, did we ever think we would watch shows about cooking?  Thank you Julia Child for being a pioneer in the world of food and television.

I tend to wake up early (a lot) and on weekends I turn on the Food Network to see "what's cooking" or who's cooking.  I have my favorites - Giada, Bobby, and Paula.  I can hear you saying, but she uses butter - lots of butter.  Uh huh.  And?  Just kidding, but butter is better for us than margarine and olive oil is even better.  My mother never had a bottle of olive oil in her life.  Did yours?  In our house, it was bacon grease and lard until she finally switched to vegetable oil.  My grandmother never used anything but lard or bacon grease in her life and lived to 96.  Makes you wonder doesn't it?

Anyway, one Saturday morning Paula made these green bean bundles and they looked so good, I just had to try them.  I have been making them ever since.  They are super delicious.  Yes, they take a little time to make, but if you get an assembly line going, you are done in no time.  I made a huge pan of these for Dan's birthday dinner on Saturday and they really didn't take very long at all.  It all depends on how many bundles you are making, just adjust accordingly.  Here is what you need:

Fresh green beans (I used about 2 lbs)
Bacon (cut strips in half)
Olive Oil

First, blanch your green beans for about 3 minutes.  You do that by dropping them in a pot of boiling water.  When time is up, drain them in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.  This helps them be a beautiful bright green color and tender.

Put the green beans in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Using your hands, mix the beans around until they are all lightly coated with olive oil.  Now, the fun begins.

I put 5 green beans in each bundle.  First, line the ends up and trim the stems off.  Reverse and trim the other ends.  Using a half piece of bacon, wrap it around the bundle and put a toothpick through the bacon to hold the bundle together while it cooks.  Keep going until you have bundled all of your green beans.  You should figure at least 2 bundles per person.  This is my pan of bundles.  I think they are so pretty and its a different and yummy way to fix green beans.
Place your bundles on a baking sheet and place in the oven at 350 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes until bacon is brown and crispy.   Remember to remove the toothpicks before serving!!  Anyone remember the toothpick joke from childhood?  We don't want that to happen.

We like to cut the bundle through the middle of the bacon so that you get a yummy bite of bacon with every bite of green beans.  Oh, these are good and they can be served with many different entrees.  Deeee-lish!  They also reheat nicely in the microwave, so make extras.

If you are having guests for dinner, these look so pretty on a plate and they look like you took hours and hours of your time to prepare them.  What a wonderful way to make guests feel special.  Make the same effort for your family!  They are more than worth it.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Back in the day, hours of boiling green beans to make them "tender" was the only way to cook them.  Now, there are lots of options!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Precious Memories and Sugar Cookies

Yes, I know that Easter has come and gone, but the precious memories made baking these cookies with our two oldest grandsons will last a lifetime.  Since our first born daughter and her family moved to Nashville right before Christmas, our two oldest grandsons (8 and 5) spend Friday night with us whenever they can and we always have something fun planned whether it is a craft, or baking, or making pancakes for breakfast (their favorite).

Dan and I volunteer at Sophia's Heart, which is a transitional housing shelter for families who have lost their homes through unfortunate circumstances.  There are young children and adults living there.  This year, I wanted to make Easter baskets for the children and cookies for the adults, just so they would know that someone was thinking of them.  I asked the boys if they wanted to help bake cookies and told them who they were for and they were all for it!

They were so much help to me.  I made the dough and refrigerated it overnight.  They came the next day and rolled and cut all the cookies for me and placed them on the baking pans.  I put them in the oven and removed them since the oven is hot.  After the cookies cooled, I iced and packaged all of them for delivery.  The boys and I had a blast!  They learn cooking skills as part of their school curriculum and they were amazing help!  It also teaches about giving back to the world around us and give back they did.

                                                 Making cookies is hard work!
         Rolling dough takes concentration - notice there is flour everywhere - lol

This sugar cookie recipe has been in my "hand written" cook book since the first year we were married.  I don't even know where I got it, most likely from a magazine.  These are rolled sugar cookies and are sooooo good.  Our second born daughter loves sugar cookies so I have been making them for years and years.

I iced them with royal icing and then piped on the embellishments with butter cream icing.  They take a little time, but look so pretty and went so much faster with 4 extra helping hands.

Here is what you need for the cookie dough:

3/4 cup shortening (I use butter)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2.5 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Stir in sifted dry ingreients.  Chill at least 1 hour.

Roll dough out about 1/8 inch thick (I like mine just a tad thicker).  Cut into desired shapes.  Decorate with colored sugar before baking if you are decorating the cookies that way.  Otherwise, decorate after baking and cooling.

Use an UNGREASED baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees 6-8 minutes or until delicately brown.  Depending on the size cutters used, you will get approximately 4 dozen cookies.  I double this recipe when baking.

Royal Icing:

2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 TBSP meringue powder (I use Wilton's - don't like using raw egg whites)
3 TBSP water
1 tsp corn syrup

Mix all ingredients in a bowl with mixer.  I then separated into 4 small containers and tinted the color I wanted.

Flood the tops of the cookies with the royal icing using the back of a spoon to spread icing and let dry.

Buttercream Icing:

1 stick butter
4 cups confectioner's sugar
milk added 1 tbsp at a time until you have consistency you want - for these cookies, make it fairly stiff

Mix softened butter until light and fluffy, add confectioner's sugar one cup at a time.  Will be rather crumbly.  Add 1 TBSP milk and mix, continue a little at a time until you have consistency wanted.

Separate icing into smaller containers and tint with food coloring, making colors you want to use.  I  then use gallon sized storage bags and clip the corner at an angle (make a tiny clip), place a decorating tip in a different design in each clipped corner.  Fill the bag with icing and pipe onto the cookies as you desire.

Here are some of the finished cookies on paper plates ready to be packaged.
This is how I packaged them,  I just wrapped them in clear cellophane paper and tied with a ribbon.
The cookies were a BIG hit at Sophia's Heart.  Several of the residents have asked when I will make more, so that is a good sign they were enjoyed which is the most important part.

Try this recipe and use any shape cutters you like for any occasion.  The recipe is easy and delicious - fabulous with coffee.  Of course, I kept some for us and for the grandsons to enjoy which they did!  Our two year old grandson likes to lick the icing off first, and then eat the cookie!   He's a little cookie monster.

Making these memories with our grandsons is one of the most precious and wonderful times of my life and I hope there will be many many more.  Make some memories, you won't be sorry you did.

Everyday Donna

Things to remember:

Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.  Barbara Jourdan

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Best Banana Split Dessert Ever

Mmmm, banana splits.  What a treat.  Dan and I used to share one back in our dating days which was about the time the dinosaurs roamed the earth.  Yes, they had banana splits then too.  I never could eat a whole banana split, it was just too much ice cream for me.  I know, I know, I am one of the strange people of the world who doesn't like a lot of ice cream.  Dan on the other hand is a completely different story.  Sometimes I refer to him as Dan, Dan the ice cream man.  He literally could eat ice cream every day.  

But let's talk banana split desserts!  Now these are a totally different story because this is not made from ice cream, but is scrumptious for lack of a better word.  It is truly OH EM GEE good.  I made this dessert on Easter Sunday and it was a major hit - I mean M A J O R!  My daughter told me her husband wondered if we were still up at 10 pm that night because he was willing to drive all the way across town just to have some more of his new favorite dessert!  Made me laugh out loud for sure.  He has celiac and I made this gluten free for him so he could enjoy dessert too.  Will certainly be making it again, like this weekend for Dan's big Medicare birthday.  Now you know how old he is.  

Look at this dessert in the pan.  It's hard to see all the wonderful layers, but it is fabulous.  Just sayin'.  
There are nuts, chocolate, vanilla, bananas, strawberries, cream cheese and whipped cream with that fabulous crunchy chocolate crumbled on top.  The only thing it doesn't have is pineapple and a cherry.  Oh well, feel free to add that if you want.  Personally, I don't think you will miss it one bit.

The crunchy chocolate topping is this:
I buy these at World Market and they are less than $3.00 a container.  I think Target may have them too, I'm not positive.  They are thin chocolate wafers with a crunchy crisp in them made from rice flour so they are also gluten free!  Fantastic.  You don't have to save the for toppings, they make a wonderful little "taste of chocolate" when you need one.

Here is what you need for this dessert:


1 cup flour (I used Bisquick gluten free baking mix)
3 TBSP granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans

Melt butter, and mix with other ingredients.  Press into the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan.  Bake at 350 until light brown, about 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Cream cheese layer:

2 cups cream cheese ( 16 ounces)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup cool whip or whipped cream

Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar with mixer until smooth.  Fold in cool whip.

Banana layer.

Slice 4 - 5 medium bananas and cover bottom crust layer.  Cover with cream cheese layer.

Vanilla Pudding layer:

2 small boxes Vanilla instant pudding
3 cups milk

Mix vanilla pudding with milk and pour over cream cheese layer.

Strawberry layer:

Slice fresh strawberries and cover top of vanilla pudding layer.  I used about 20 strawberries.

Chocolate Pudding layer:

2 small boxes Chocolate instant pudding
3 cups milk

Mix chocolate pudding with milk and pour over strawberry layer.

Cover chocolate pudding layer with 2 cups of Cool Whip or whipped cream.   

Cover Cool Whip with shaved chocolate or break up pieces of Belgian Chocolate Wafers.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Now, cut the dessert into squares, put them on a plate and watch them disappear!  Holy cow, this one goes in a big hurry and it is  so easy to make.  Yum.  Yum.   Yum.  Can't wait till Dan's birthday Saturday to enjoy another piece of this fabulous Best Banana Split Dessert Ever!  I know Chris will be happy!!  Don't wait too long to try this one!  It will be a hit and will be requested again and again.  

Everyday Donna

Things to remember:

Life is short, don't buy green bananas!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Honey Lime Fruit Salad - Best Fruit Salad I've Ever Eaten

It is definitely spring and summer will not be far behind.  Do you find yourself looking for cooler, crunchier food that is quick to prepare and enjoy in warm weather? We certainly do, although I could eat soup every day no matter the temperature.  But, that's just me.

Salads are something that we seem to eat more of in warm weather and anything with fruit.  Fruit can be light and refreshing and there are so many wonderful fruits available in summer - peaches, cantaloupe, and watermelon just to name a few.  I can't wait until peaches start coming in!

There are so many things you can do with fruit.  It can be a dessert, a snack or a main course.  It is also good for you and provides a lot of necessary minerals and vitamins.  The best way to get a healthy range of antioxidants, which are so important in keeping us healthy,  is to eat fruits and vegetables representing all colors of the rainbowLook at how bright and colorful this fruit salad is!  That is an excellent indication of the health value of what you are eating.  Hot weather can also cause potassium loss from excessive perspiration and fruit can be a great potassium replacement.  You should also have 2 - 4 servings of fruit daily according to the most current food pyramid.

This fruit salad is now my most favorite way to eat fruit!  The recipe comes from Mel's Kitchen Cafe and I made it for Easter dinner.  We have 5 young grandsons living in town and they were coming for an Easter egg hunt and dinner.   Fruit is something they will all eat so I decided to put it on the menu sans poppy seeds.  They would have taken one look at all those little black seeds and announced they did not want any.  I, on the other hand, love poppy seeds, but we do what we can to get everyone to eat.  Let me tell you, this recipe is easy AND delicious which is a great combination.  Here is what you need:


1 20 oz can pineapple chunks, well drained (or you can use  2 cups of fresh pineapple cut into chunks)
1 11 oz can mandarin oranges, well drained
3 ripe kiwi, peeled and sliced into thick half moons (cut in half and then slice)
1 cup green grapes
1 cup strawberries, quartered (I added a few more)
zest from 1 lime
1 TBSP honey (I use local honey which is supposed to help with allergies)
1 tsp poppy seeds (optional)

Combine all fruit in a bowl.  Add lime zest and poppy seeds if you are using them.  Drizzle the honey over the fruit and stir to coat all the fruit.   Refrigerate and serve.

Oh my goodness, this is SOOOO good.  The combination of fruit is outstanding and that hint of lime and the honey is the best "dressing" I have ever had on fruit salad.  We will definitely be having a lot of this recipe this summer.  It would be awesome for a summer brunch, lunch or dinner.  It is so cool and refreshing and super tasty.  Maybe you could serve it with some yogurt or whipped topping and you have a super snack - great for everyone, especially kids!

Give this easy recipe a try.  You are going to be so glad you did.  It is nothing like that fruit cocktail from a can that we used to have as kids.  That stuff almost ruined me on fruit salad forever.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money.  Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine, something Brussels sprouts never do.  ~P.J. O'Rourke

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Little Inexpensive Organizational Idea For You

Do you spring clean?  Or fall clean?  Growing up, my mother was a fanatic about spring and fall cleaning.  That meant washing all the windows, cleaning and waxing the hardwood floors, washing walls, and cleaning out closets and cabinets.  Ugh.  I am not sure most people do spring/fall cleaning anymore, but we sure did and the thing I hated most was washing windows with her.

Mom would always do the inside windows and I would get stuck outside on the ladder.  She would tap on the window for any and every place that I missed or was streaked.  Tap, tap, tap in the upper right corner.  Tap, tap, tap in the middle of the bottom window, tap, tap, tap - you get the picture.  Window washing was an all day event.

Unfortunately, old habits are hard to break although I didn't keep the spring/fall schedule and I never made our kids wash windows with me.  Dan and I usually did them when he was out of school in the summer and I NEVER tapped on the windows.  I promise.  A few weeks ago, when the sun was shining I noticed how dirty our windows looked, so out came the window washing supplies.  Fortunately, we now have those lovely windows that you can flip to the inside and wash the inside and outside so I did them all by myself.  Nice.  Wow, where were those back in the day.  Flip windows may be one of the greatest inventions of all times!  It certainly makes the job of window washing a breeze compared to taking down storm windows, cleaning the windows and the storm windows, then putting the storm windows back up.  I don't miss that at all.

I have been doing some spring organizing - cleaning drawers and closets - and wanted to show you this fantastic little idea that I saw on Pinterest a while back from the blog Space Says.  Some people are geniuses and I so appreciate this idea.  All you need is a package of inexpensive shower curtain rings that snap closed and a clothes hanger.  I got a package of a dozen rings at the Dollar Tree for -  you guessed it - one dollar.  You simply put the rings around the hanger and snap them closed.  Don't they make you think of the "earrings" John Candy sold in Trains, Planes and Automobiles?  Please tell me you have seen that movie.  If not, be sure and rent it!  One of the funniest movies ever.  Makes me laugh to just think about it.  
Now, you can use them for hanging scarves, or neck ties, or whatever you can think of.  Would even work for jewelry and belts.  I'm thinking you could even hang tights this way.  Just pull a pair through the ring and you could see the colors and textures so easily.  Yes, I like that idea a LOT!  Note to self.

I can now take a scarf off a ring without them all falling in the floor which is fantastic!  No more chasing scarves all over the closet floor.  You no longer need an expensive organizational hanger system that costs a small fortune.  I have bought so many different kinds of things through the years and they just didn't work.  This really works AND I can see all the scarves and belts when I am getting dressed.  It hangs neatly at the end of my closet on a simple hook and I am thrilled that the entire cost was only one dollar plus tax.

Have you tried the round belt hangers?  Or the multi-layered hangers?  I even tried folding all the scarves and storing them in a drawer, but they would always get so messed up when you tried to find the one you wanted to wear.  I would have LOVED having this system to use in my costume shop.  It would have made organizing all the scarves and accessories so much easier.  Thank you Pinterest genius for this idea!  It's the little things that make life so much easier.  If you have suggestions for ways to use this awesome idea, please share with us!  We will all appreciate it.  It's the little things that can mean the most.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Sharing ideas makes the world a much better place.  Donna

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fresh Strawberry Short Cake Using A Spectacular Sponge Cake Recipe

Second verse, same as the first!  Yes, it's Monday again and we had one terrific weekend.  How about you?  The weather was gorgeous, our grandson played his first little league game and our trip to the farmer's market yielded one amazing surprise.  Fresh local strawberries are already in!  Made me want to do cartwheels.  They are way early this year because it has been so warm, but that is a-okay with us because we got to have fresh strawberries on a from scratch sponge cake with fresh whipped cream.  My oh my oh my, is it ever good!

Look how beautiful these strawberries are!  Fresh local berries are always better than the ones you get in the grocery because they don't have to pick them so early.  They are ripe and juicy and make a lovely syrup when you slice them and macerate them with a little sugar.  The ones you get year round at the grocery never seem to make any juice, although it is nice to have fresh berries all year round.  That is a luxury we did not have back in the "old" days.  There is just nothing like those first delicious, red ripe berries.  Mm Mm Mm

I bought a whole flat of strawberries because I just could not resist their beauty and fragrance and knew they would be delicious.  I shared some with our daughter's families and kept some for us to enjoy.  I wanted to make a fresh cake to "decorate" with all those lovely berries, so I decided on a sponge cake -which is better than angel food in my book.  In other words, sponge cake is just perfect for serving with berries.  It's light and airy and has a slight hint of lemon flavor and soaks up all that wonderful strawberry juice.  Yum!  Are you drooling yet?

The recipe I used is called American Sponge Cake from the Joy of  It is a really good cake.  And don't worry, as our grandson said, it doesn't taste like sponge at all.

Here is what you need:


6 large eggs separated
1 cup granulated sugar divided
1 tsp vanilla
1 TBSP water
zest of 1 medium lemon
1 cup sifted cake flour (I use Swans Down)
3/4 tsp cream of tartar

Separate the eggs while they are cold.  Cover with plastic wrap to keep a film from forming.  Bring to room temperature by letting them sit out about 30 minutes.

Sift the cake flour to which 1/4 cup of sugar has been added.  Measure another 1/4 cup sugar and set aside for beating with the egg whites.

Place final 1/2 cup of sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and use paddle attachment. (This is where a stand mixer like a Kitchen Aid comes in really handy).  Add the egg yolks and beat on high for about 5 minutes or until thick and fluffy.  Batter will fall back in like a slow ribbon.  Add vanilla, water, and lemon zest.  Mix.  Sift the flour/sugar mixture over batter but do not fold in!

In another clean bowl, using whisk attachment for your mixer, whip the eggs until foamy.  Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.  Gradually add 1/4 cup of reserved sugar and beat until shiny stiff peaks form.  Gently fold in some of the egg whites just to lighten up the batter, then fold in all the rest just until incorporated.  Do not over mix.  (To fold, use a spatula and lift batter and egg whites from bottom of bowl over top of batter.  Do this until all egg whites are incorporated).  Pour the batter into an UNGREASED tube pan.  (This allows more air into the batter so cake will be light and fluffy).  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.  Test center of cake with toothpick to make sure it is done.  Remove immediately from oven and invert cake pan onto little feet and let cool at least one hour.
When cake is cool, turn pan right side up.  Run a knife around the outside edge of cake and remove tube from pan.  Run a knife around bottom of cake and around center tube.  Remove cake by turning sideways and catching with your hand.  Place on tray or platter.
See how pretty it looks?  It tastes even better.
Now, the fun begins and it's all up to you.  Slice a piece of cake and place it on a plate.  Pile on the strawberries and lots of juice so it soaks in the cake.  Top with whipped topping.  I like fresh whipped cream so I used some I had just made.  Feel free to use Cool Whip or canned whipped cream if you prefer.  If you want to add ice cream, be my guest!  Dan likes it that way.  I like it without.  Just personal preference.  But, look at that beautiful dessert.  See how the juice begins to seep into the cake.  Yum. Yum. Yum.

I hope it's not long before fresh berries start to come in where you are so you can try this fabulous cake recipe and have your own strawberry shortcake.  This cake will also be great with peaches, or blueberries.  Wow, it's going to be a great summer!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Strawberries are the angels of the earth, innocent and sweet with green leafy wings reaching heavenward.  ~Terri Guillemets

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mexican Street Corn How To

Growing up in the midwest, corn was a year round staple food, mostly from a can.  Remember, I go way back.  Back in the day, corn on the cob was a picnic/cookout/summer time treat.  You always looked forward to those first fresh succulent ears of summer sweet corn.  Corn on the cob was not available year round like it is now.  You had to wait for summer. 

 How did we make corn on the cob?  Why we boiled it of course.  You filled a pan with water, shucked the corn, removed the silks, and then boiled it until tender.  Then you slathered it with butter and salt and ate it.  That was it.  Or, we scraped it off the cob and made creamed or fried corn.  That was pretty much the extent of corn recipe availability - at least at our house.  

Thanks to the plethora of cookbooks these days, the Food Network and the internet, there are more options for ways to prepare corn.   I found one website that listed 15 ways to make corn on the cob.  Would have been great to have that option when we were growing up.  But, the way I like it most is fixed like Mexican Street Corn that is sold by vendors on the streets of Mexico and now in many American cities.  It's roasted or grilled, not boiled, and fixed in a most wonderful and tasty way.

Our three oldest children were all musical theater majors and attended Webster University Conservatory in St. Louis.  There were a lot of theater students who came from extreme southern Texas in an area in and around a city named Pharr.  They had a fantastic arts program that produced a lot of students interested in acting and performance.  According to Wikipedia:

Pharr is connected by bridge to the Mexican city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas. It is part of the McAllen–Edinburg–Mission and Reynosa–McAllen metropolitan areas.

That lets you know how far south Pharr is. 

One of our oldest daughter's good friends was from there and he taught her how to make Mexican Street Corn the way they made it at home.  It became my favorite way to eat corn on the cob.  There are many different  recipes available on the web, but this is the way Michael taught her and it's the way I really love.  I will tell you some other options, but this is the way I fixed it for dinner Easter Sunday.  

First, I was able to get some amazing corn at the farmer's market from Florida.  The variety is Peaches and Cream which is a bi-color corn and it is wonderful.  My favorite summertime variety is Silver Queen - sweet white corn that is just the best I have ever eaten.  Silver Queen makes fantastic fried corn!

Anyway, back to Mexican Street Corn.  My understanding is that it is sold by vendors on the streets like we would have had ice cream vendors in the midwest, or hot dog vendors in New York.  Michael said they would eat this corn as an after school snack and it is sooooooooo good.  Wish we had had street corn vendors when we were growing up.  Here is how you make it.


Whole ears of corn
Sour cream, Mexican crema or mayonnaise (I use sour cream)
Fresh Cilantro,  ground cayenne, red chili powder or cumin
Grated Parmesan or cotija cheese
Lime wedges
Olive oil

Fire up your grill.  Shuck the corn and remove the silks.  Brush the corn with a little olive oil so it won't stick to the grill and cook until slightly charred on all sides.  Takes about 8-10 minutes.  Remove from grill.  It should look like this.
Roll in sour cream, crema or mayonnaise.  I used sour cream because it is readily available and it is what he taught her to use and what I like.  

Chop the cilantro really fine, sprinkle all over the corn and serve with a lime wedge.  Squeeze the lime juice over the ear of corn and eat.  

If you don't like cilantro (it's a love it or hate it kind of herb - I LOVE it), sprinkle with cayenne, cumin or chili powder, whichever you would prefer.  But don't forget the lime, it is the special touch that "makes" the corn.  You can also sprinkle on grated parmesan or cotija cheese.

Yes, I like butter on my corn (no salt), but this is the way I prefer to eat corn on the cob and have since the 90's.  Thanks Michael for showing Holly how to make this fantastic corn.  It's quick, easy and delicious!  That's a combination of three great words and gives you one great result.  Give this recipe a try, it's muy muy bueno!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

To make corn on the cob, boiling it is no longer the only option.  Try some new ways to fix and enjoy it!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fried Green Tomatoes With Horseradish Sauce - Divine!

Were you a picky eater as a child?  Are you still a picky eater?  Do you cook food the way your mother did or have you ventured out into other cuisines and methods?  Certain foods hold memories for us and we go to them when we need comfort, thus the term comfort foods.    Food holds such an important place in our daily lives - good, bad or indifferent.  Personally, I love food, certain foods more than others.   Some dishes can take me to a specific time and place in my life just like a song can.  How about you?  Are you emotionally affected by food?  I really think we all are in many ways, whether we realize it or not.

My parents were both children of the depression and both came from families who struggled a lot economically during that time.  My mother grew up in town and tells stories of her mother not eating many meals so there would be food for the children.  My dad grew up on a farm in Kentucky and they were lucky enough to be able to grow much of their food.  The things they could not produce, like flour and sugar, were gotten at the little general store in "town".  My grandmother made quilts and traded them for the flour and sugar.  How many of us would be willing to do that today?  We are very spoiled and take so much for granted.  Grandma told a story about a year during the depression when the only cash money they had during the entire year was 50 cents.  That is correct - 50 cents - period!  They were able to raise enough food and trade for necessities to feed their family of 6.  Personally, it terrifies me to think we would ever have to do this.  Don't get me wrong, they didn't have a lot but they did get to eat.

Growing up we had a lot of "country" food that my parents had eaten growing up.  Every week my mom would fix a pot of white beans, cook some cabbage, fry some potatoes and make a skillet of corn bread.  We would have several meals of just that, many times having no meat or maybe one piece of bacon for each of us.  In the summer we would have lots of fresh vegetables and again, no meat - or maybe a piece of fried baloney.  Ever had fried baloney?  It's not too bad really.  Sometimes there were pork chops or meat loaf.  On the weekend dad would grill burgers and on Sunday we may have roast.  My dad was a meat, beans and potatoes kind of guy.  It was his comfort food, what he had grown up on.  Dan's dad was the same way.  He never tasted pizza in his life, didn't want to.  He also would not eat Jello because he said he had no desire to eat anything that wiggled.  No casseroles, nothing mixed together.  He just wanted what we would call plain food - meat, potatoes and some kind of beans.  Now, how have our lives changed from this?  A LOT!

Our parents rarely ate out, it was too expensive and there weren't that many places when we were growing up.  I remember when the first McDonald's came to town.  My dad actually took us there.  You had to walk up to the window and order your food and eat it in the car.  We thought it was amazing!  Today, many of us eat out many nights during the week because it is easier.  Me, I still like to cook and eat at home most of the time.

Now, I have rambled about the good old days all to say this  - I love a lot of country food the way my grandma and mom prepared it.  Some of it I have improved on with additional flavors and techniques, but there is still comfort in a pan of fried potatoes with onions, or a big pot of white beans and some crusty cornbread.  Today's recipe is one I used to fix for my dad all the time in the summer.  He LOVED fried green tomatoes and I don't mean the kind with the big puffy batter on it like some restaurants serve now.  I am not a fan, let me tell you.  Green tomatoes rolled in yellow corn meal and fried crisp are the ticket.  Delicious!  Our daughter Annie is a lover of fried green tomatoes and I was lucky enough to find some really great ones at the farmer's market on Saturday so I made them for Easter Sunday.  YUM

The one thing I do borrow from the modern twist on fried green tomatoes is horseradish sauce.  It just takes the fried green tomatoes over the top!  Remember Fanny Flag's book Fried Green Tomatoes at The Whistle Stop Cafe?  They made it into a movie and it is still one of my most favorite books and movies to this day.  Okay, I digress again.  Here is how I make our fried green tomatoes.


Green tomatoes (I used 5 on Sunday, depends on how big they are - you will get 4 or 5 slices/tomato)
yellow corn meal
salt and pepper
cooking oil
sour cream
dijon mustard

I am going to start out with giving you a big secret to great fried green tomatoes - BUTTERMILK.  Yes, you read right.  Buttermilk.  Now don't gag, you don't have to drink it, you are going to soak the green tomatoes in it to help soften them up.  Did you know buttermilk is great for marinating meat to tenderize it?  Makes the best fried chicken ever!  Okay, rambling again.  Back to the tomatoes.

Cut the top off of each tomato and cut them into slices about 4 to 5 per tomato.  Put tomato slices in a bowl and cover with buttermilk for several hours.  The calcium and acid in buttermilk help break down the fibers in meat and tomatoes.  Green tomatoes can be rather hard and even frying won't always soften them up.

When you are ready to cook the tomatoes, remove them from the buttermilk and pat them dry with a paper towel.  They need to be dry for the cornmeal to stick.  Salt and pepper both sides of each tomato slice.  Put several cups of yellow cornmeal in a flat bowl or pan (I used a corning ware dish).  Dip one side of the tomato in the cornmeal and then the other, making sure the whole surface is covered.
You just want a nice even coating of the corn meal on each side of the tomato.  Now, you want your pan and cooking oil really hot before you add the tomatoes, otherwise the cornmeal coating will stick to the pan and not the tomato.  I used my electric skillet for two reasons:  1.  I have a glass top stove and you can't use cast iron on it which is the best for frying tomatoes in.  2.  I can control the heat and keep it at an even temperature in the electric skillet - 350 degrees.

Put about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in the pan.  Grandma used lard, but it's that cholesterol thing (even though she lived to be 96).  Yeah, makes you wonder doesn't it?  Anyway, when the oil is good and hot, start adding the tomatoes.  Let them cook on one side without disturbing them until you can see that the cornmeal is getting brown around the bottom edges of the tomatoes.
This is the top side of the tomatoes before they are cooked.  When you see the brown crispy edges on the bottom, time to flip the tomatoes.  I use a fork and not a spatula.  Just poke it in the edge of the tomato and turn it over.  This is how they should look at this point.
See how nice and brown they are?  This is what you want.  (The middle one was just added to the pan when I took the picture, that's why it's still green).  Cook the second side until nice and brown and crispy.  Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel.

Now, it's time to make the horseradish sauce.  Put 1/2 cup sour cream in a bowl.  Add 2 to 3 heaping tablespoons of prepared horseradish from a jar.  Taste.   If you want the horseradish taste stronger, add more.  Put one squeeze of dijon mustard in the bowl and mix well.  Serve with your green tomatoes.  Oh my goodness good!

Frying these tomatoes on Easter Sunday made me think of my dad and how many times I made these for him.  He really loved fried green tomatoes and he liked mine better than mom's - or so he always said.  (Mom worked and I started doing the family cooking when I was 12).  Always made me feel so proud.  He passed away 15 years ago on April 3 and it was a good memory thinking of him and how much he loved my fried green tomatoes.  Sometimes it's the little things that can bring a smile.

I hope you give this recipe a try.  Not everyone loves fried green tomatoes, but if you do, this is the only way to eat them as far as I'm concerned.  Crispy, crunchy tangy green tomatoes with horse radish sauce are divine.  And, if you have time, watch the movie or read the book.  It's so good.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Ninny Threadgoode: Oh, what I wouldn't give for a plate of fried green tomatoes like we used to have at the cafe. Ooh!    Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Farfalle (Bow Tie Pasta) With Asparagus, Hard Boiled Eggs and Parmesan Cheese

When I was discussing what to have for dinner on Easter Sunday with my daughter, she mentioned a dish that her friend and former boss used to make.  She said it was absolutely wonderful with ham, so of course, I insisted that she make it for us (and it was one less thing I had to make).    She did and I have to share the recipe with you because it is wonderful.  It could even be a stand alone dish for a meatless meal.

Holly went to New York City right after graduating from Webster Conservatory in St. Louis.  She was a musical theater major and wanted to experience the Big Apple.  We put her on a plane, one of the hardest things I have ever done, and watched her fly into the sunset.  Don't get me wrong, we wanted her to live her dreams as we wished for all of our children - she was just the first one to go.  Her friend had rented an apartment for them to share.  She had never been there, didn't know how to get there and there were no cell phones then.  The cab driver, who was also new to NYC, couldn't find the address and they drove around for hours trying to find her new abode.  She arrived at 2 am, somewhat hysterical.  I on the other hand, was approaching a nervous breakdown because we had not heard from her.  When she finally called in tears, I was so relieved that I cannot even begin to tell you how relieved!  And so, her adventures began.  Her sister and brother joined her there eventually.  It was not quite as traumatic the second and third time around because she was there to greet and guide them.  It did get a little easier for us as each one of them went to live their dreams.  Since then, they have been all over the place.  We just go with the flow.

During her time in the city, she worked for a woman by the name of Faye Hess who owned the Long Island City Brick Co. Cafe in Long Island City.  Faye taught her to cook wonderful meals as the Lucy and Ethel pair greeted and served the surrounding neighbors on a daily basis.  The cafe was a quaint little place with a plethora of regular daily customers.  It was like watching a tv show as the regulars came and went, as they shared triumphs and tragedies.  We visited there on several occasions, even sang Christmas carols one year for all the neighbors at the cafe.   Dan played his guitar and the rest of us joined in - sort of like the Partridge family folk style.   It is quite a memory.

Faye was so good to Holly and taught her a lot.  Faye has a blog called and a website called if you are interested in some amazing recipes and insights into food.  She was recently a participant on Chopped on the Food Network also.  Holly and Faye have remained friends through the years, even though they have traveled many different paths since the days at The Long Island Brick Co. Cafe.  Faye also teaches cooking in Italy in the Tuscany region and in France.  You really might want to check her out!

Anyway, back to this wonderful dish we had on Sunday.  Talk about a good side dish for ham, especially when you want something other than potatoes.  YUMMMMO as Rachel Ray likes to say.  It is an easy dish to fix.  Here is what you need:


1 lb. farfalle pasta (bow tie pasta)
1 bunch asparagus
3 cloves garlic
6-12 hard boiled eggs
fresh or grated parmesan cheese
olive oil

Cook the pasta according to directions.  Drain and drizzle with olive oil to keep it from sticking together.
In a large saute pan, add enough olive oil to saute the asparagus.  Remove the pithy ends from the asparagus spears.  Cook the 3 whole cloves of garlic just enough to perfume the olive oil and remove from pan.  Add the asparagus and cook just enough to still be crisp and bright green.  Remove from the pan.  Place the pasta in a large casserole dish, scatter the asparagus over the pasta.  Peel the hard boiled eggs and crumble with your hands, scattering them over the pasta and asparagus.   Use as many eggs as you like.   If you are using fresh parmesan cheese, make long ribbons of cheese with a vegetable peeler all over the top of the hardboiled eggs.  If using grated, use several hands full and scatter over the hard boiled eggs.   That's it!  Serve and enjoy.  OH SOOOO GOOD.  I certainly could eat it just by itself for a meal.

This is a wonderful recipe that I am so happy to have discovered.  With fresh and tender spring asparagus starting to come it, we will certainly be enjoying this again and again.  If you wanted to add some chopped ham to the dish, you certainly could and then you would have a one dish dinner that would be so easy to prepare.  It's also a great way to use some of those left over Easter eggs you may have in your refrigerator.

Thanks Holly for sharing this recipe from Faye.  I certainly appreciated getting to enjoy this delicious dish on Sunday, and am thankful to be able to share the recipe with all of you.  Give it a try, you are going to like it a lot!  Maybe some day I will get to go to Tuscany and take a class with Faye.  Who knows?  Anything is possible.  I certainly never thought I'd make it to New York City as many times as I did.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

You know, when you get your first asparagus, or your first acorn squash, or your first really good tomato of the season, those are the moments that define the cook's year. I get more excited by that than anything else.
Mario Batali

Monday, April 9, 2012

This Beautiful Tomato Salad Is Fantastic!

Well hello, it's Monday again.  Again!  Where is the week going?  How does Monday roll around so fast?  Is it because our lives are so busy or because it's my age?  Everyone always said the older you get the faster time seems to go.  I don't think I really want to know the answer to this question.  When and how did we have time to go to work and raise a family?  Retirement may be the busiest season of our lives.  It really is a conundrum.

I didn't even have time to post much last week because of all the preparations for the Easter weekend.  I hope yours was fabulous!  Ours certainly was.  We had a big Easter egg hunt for the grandsons on Sunday and dinner afterwards.  We had an absolute ball watching all the little guys running around our big yard looking for all the things hidden there for them.  Our two year old grandson was breaking open the plastic eggs as fast as he found them spilling contents all over the ground.  He bit into a chocolate rabbit foil wrapper and all.  It was hilarious.  The weather was absolutely perfect and it was one of the most splendid days I can remember.

After several hours of outdoor fun, we were finally able to wrangle all the boys inside for lunch.  I have to say, lunch was also memorable.  There were some golden oldies on the menu and several new recipes which will all be keepers!

On Saturday, we made a trip to the Farmer's Market to see what delectable fare they had to offer and they did not disappoint!  There was so much great produce that had just arrived from Florida and it was hard to resist buying some of everything.  What I did purchase were fresh green beans,  potatoes, green tomatoes for frying, grape tomatoes, and fresh corn that was absolutely divine.  The variety was called peaches and cream and oh my, it was so good.  I will post about that later in the week.

Today, I want to tell you about this awesome rustic tomato salad that is a Jamie Oliver recipe and my new favorite way to eat tomatoes.  Wow, it's good and oh so easy.  The grape tomatoes were sweet and juicy and fantastic.  If you grow little tomatoes in the summer, this will be a perfect way to eat them!

Here is what you need:

2 pints of grape tomatoes (original recipe calls for cherry tomatoes, but these were perfect)
your favorite olives (I used kalamata olives - yum)
some red wine vinegar
olive oil
fresh basil

This is how you make the salad.

Put the tomatoes in a bowl and kind of squish them with your hand to rupture some of them.  If your olives have pits, press them with your thumb on a cutting board and remove the pits.  If they are pitted, squeeze them with your hand to rupture them.  No chopping, very rustic.  You need about 1/2 a cup of olives, more if you want.  Sprinkle the tomatoes and olives with some red wine vinegar.  Sprinkle some olive oil over the tomatoes and olives, enough to lightly coat.   Tear about a hand full of basil leaves and add to tomatoes and olives.  Mix lightly until everything is coated with olive oil.  The original recipe calls for arugula also.  I didn't have any, so I skipped it and I don't think it made one bit of difference.  This salad was fantastic!  This is now my new favorite way to eat grape tomatoes and we will be having this salad again and again.  You could also add some chunks of fresh mozzarella if you wanted.

This salad is also visually appealing.  The colors are beautiful and makes you want to dive right in.  Writing about it makes me want to run to the kitchen and eat a bowl full right now - yeah, it's that good.

I hope you will try this salad because I think you will like it as much as we did.  It is easy, beautiful and delicious.  There is sweetness from the tomatoes and basil, and a little tanginess and saltiness from the red wine vinegar and olives with the finish of that lovely olive oil.  It is a perfect side for just about any meal.   What more could you ask for?

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

When everyone was leaving after all the fun, our 5 year old grandson said thanks Grandma and Pawpaw, it was the best Easter of my life!  Now, how sweet is that?  Makes all the work well worth the effort.   We sure love those little guys.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Egg Shaped Chickadees Made From Felt

Last week I saw these adorable little felt "egg chickadees" as I like to call them on Pinterest.  They were designed by Kata Golda and were featured on Petite Purls.  They captured my heart and with Easter right around the corner, I wanted to make them for our grandson's easter baskets.  They are so adorable!  They take a bit of time since they are hand stitched, but I am making them in all different colors.  Our 5 year old grandson LOVES little toys to carry around with him and he's going to egg-specially love these!   These chickadees will make a really cute keepsake and colorful addition to their baskets for the egg hunt!

I freehanded my own pattern and it looks like this.  The body looks like an egg shaped boat propeller.  Each "egg" is 3 inches long from the center point to the end point and 1 5/8 inches wide.  You could use an egg to trace your basic shape if you can't draw something freehand.    I drew the wing so it would fit on the body and the tail looks like a little pennant.
Sorry, I'm not very computer savvy or I would make it so you could download  and print it.

Here is what you need:

felt in any color
embroidery thread to match the color felt you are using
sewing needles

I used this thread which I had on hand and it is a bit heavy, but worked okay.  Three strands of embroidery thread is what  you need to use if you have it.

Cut the pattern pieces out and pin them on a piece of felt.  Cut out one body, two wings and a tail for each chickadee.  Cut a tiny triangle for the beak.

Begin by sewing the face on.  Starting about 1/3 of the way down on one side, sew the beak on with tiny stitches in each corner of the triangle.  Be sure to knot your thread to begin and knot it off when finished stitching, making sure the knots are on the under side.

Next, make a french knot on either side of the beak for the eyes.

With the "face" side facing you, pull the seams together on one back piece and the matching front seam. Using a blanket stitch, stitch from bottom to top, making sure knots are on the inside.  When you reach the top, knot your thread on the back side of the piece.  Repeat with opposite seam.

Place a wing piece on each side panel so that it would look like a bird's wing and stitch with a running stitch.  (I used an over/under stitch which actually takes longer.  Don't ask me why.)

Now for the final seam.  Pull back seams together and stitch all 3 seams together at the bottom and continue to stitch up back seam about 1/2 inch using blanket stitch.  Fold the tail piece in half and insert in the back seam, attaching with a few tiny stitches.  Continue blanket stitch for another 1/2 inch.  Stuff your bird until it has an egg shape.  Finish stitching the seam closed.  Knot at the top and run the thread back down the seam  and clip it.

You now have one cute hand made felt egg shaped chickadee!  THEY ARE SO CUTE!  It's not that hard and so worth the effort.  These will make perfect little hand held toys, something to carry in their pocket or a thoughtful little gift.  Have fun with these!  Now, I have to get back to work.  Lots more chickadees to finish before Sunday.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:
Jan 31, 1997 – Medical studies have proved that doing needlework actually lowers your blood pressure as it calms and focuses you.