Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hens and Chicks

To celebrate the launch of my blog, I decided to bake some cookies. At my house, iced sugar cookies are not just a Christmas treat; we make them all year round. I have drawers in my kitchen that are filled with nothing but cookie cutters, and a cookie recipe I've used for 20 years or so.
But this time, in the spirit of all things new, I tried a recipe I found in my Cookie Craft book. The taste was very similar to my recipe, but the cookie dough didn't spread as much when it baked. As a result, the cookies maintained their shape, and you could actually tell what they were!  

I love the professional look of cookies that are decorated with royal icing, but I use a much simpler icing recipe that doesn't take long to whip up, and in my humble opinion, tastes better! Mix together the following ingredients:

3 cups confectioner's sugar
3 tbsp. milk
3 tbsp. corn syrup
3/4 tsp. almond extract

Stir together until smooth and glossy.  If too thick, add more corn syrup. Add food coloring as desired.

The one problem I have is that the cookies look great the first day, but after that the color starts to dull.  Do any of you have a simple confectioner's sugar icing recipe that remains shiny for longer? 

Here are the results of my afternoon of baking and decorating:

And here is a whole brood of aproned red hens and their chicks:


I had so much fun baking these Little Red Hen cookies and just had to share them with you!

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Yesterday, my family and I attended the Feast of the Hunters' Moon, which is a historic reenactment of 18th century life at Fort Ouiatenon, the first French outpost in Indiana. In spite of some early rain, it was a perfect day for the Feast--partly cloudy and cool.

The Feast is a treat for the senses. The smell of the campfires hits you first, followed by the sounds of cannonfire, fife and drum corps, dulcimer and fiddle players, and blacksmiths pounding out tools on their anvils. There are tents as far as the eye can see, and the hardest part is deciding where to start.

I thought I'd just share the day with you in pictures:

The 42nd Royal Highlanders

Love the red and white checked socks!
Music to my ears

 Signs of fall

...and a little taste of fall

Hand-dyed ribbon--I had to buy some of this!

Colorful hand-dyed linen


Bird whistles--add water and they sing!

 Ribboned hoops and sticks

 Jacob's Ladders

So many colorful things to see! As you might have guessed, I love anything with polka-dots on it, and there were plenty of them on display at the Feast.

It was a fun-filled day of eating, browsing in traders' tents, listening to music, and enjoying the beautiful fall weather. Can't wait until next year!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Vintage Cookbooks

There's a chill in the air tonight and it makes me want to turn on the oven and bake something. I have a variety of cookbooks I can turn to for recipes, but sometimes it's fun to go back in time and look through my little vintage paperback cookbooks for recipes that my grandma might have used.

These little booklets were put out by various companies; this one by the American Can Company and it features recipes using canned items.

This one highlights the Hotpoint Automatic Range and must have come with the stove.

I love the cover on this one, put out by General Foods in 1945. It would look so cute framed and hanging on my kitchen wall, but I can't bear to separate the cover from the booklet. 

This one is most special to me. It was published by Crisco in 1949. If you look closely, you can see the words "Mother's Book" in the top right hand corner. This actually was my Grandma's and the handwriting is my then 11-year old mom's, who gave this to me recently, and I treasure it. As I look through it, I can tell which recipes were most used by the aged brown splotches on the pages. Apparently the Crisp Sugar Cookies, Rich Brownies, and Walnut Slices were baked often! 
Have you ever made a recipe from one of these old gems? There's a recipe for Spice Cake and Creamy Caramel Icing in my Grandma's book that sounds perfect for this crisp, cool weather. I think I'll get to work adding some more brown splotches to the little cookbook that's been passed down from mother to daughter twice now. Time to get out that can of Crisco!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Farm Dreams

One of my dreams, and one that I hope will come true in the near future, is to move to the country. I’ve lived in a college town for most of my life, and I love my hometown, but my heart has always been drawn to the wide-open spaces beyond the city limits. For now, when I feel the need to sit on a big front porch and look out to the horizon, I visit the nearby Historic Prophetstown Farmstead, which is a working 1920s-era farm complete with a large farmhouse built from plans for a Sears catalog home. 

While I'm there, I check to see what's new in the garden,

visit "my chickens,"

and rest on the front porch of the farmhouse for awhile.

Somewhere out there is a little farmhouse just waiting for me and my family. And there I'll have my own garden, my own chickens, and my own front porch. I already have the porch swing that will hang there, and look forward to days spent reading, thinking and just enjoying my peaceful surroundings.

For now I'll be content where I am. But one of these days, my farm girl dreams will come true! And I plan to share the journey with you.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Late Bloomers

Here we are in the middle of September, and I'm just now starting to get ripe tomatoes! It's been many years since I've tried to grow tomatoes, but this spring, my daughter encouraged me to try again. My husband built a raised bed, and off to the greenhouse we went.

Unfortunately, we planted them a little later than recommended (there's that getting started thing again!), and our yard is a little shady, so August came and went with just one Early Girl to show for our efforts.

Now the growing season is winding down, cooler days are here, and I need to find ways to use the tomatoes that are coming on all at once.  Late bloomers...just like me.

Monday, September 12, 2011


"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it." Goethe

Welcome to my blog!

I don't know about you, but I struggle with beginning things. I think about something, dream about it, read everything I can about it, but have a hard time sitting down and just getting started. I've followed many inspiring blogs over the last few months, but have been nervous about starting my own. I've read everything I can get my hands on, and even had my blog designed by Michelle at Shabby Creations (I highly recommend her!). But I kept putting off writing my first post.

I think what it came down to was that I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted my blog to be as much fun to visit as those that I follow. What I've realized is that everyone has to start someplace. Blogs are a work in process and I have a lot to learn. But I also have a lot to say and share, so here I am.

One of my favorite childhood books is The Little Red Hen, and I would describe myself as a "do-it-yourselfer," just like her. She was a very homey sort and took good care of her chicks. Now if only I could bake a loaf of bread like she did! I have a collection of Little Red Hen books, and they were the inspiration for my blog name. It just seemed to fit me and my life. Some of my favorites are shown below and I'm always on the hunt for more!

Recently I made my first apron (after years of collecting vintage ones) and submitted it to Amy Karol's Tie One On blog. This apron was the springboard that launched my blog dreams and it hangs in a place of honor in my writing/creating room.

My goal down the road is to have aprons for sale in my Etsy shop. I also plan to have embroidered items for sale and hope that you'll check back later.

Thank you for stopping by! I do hope you'll come back to visit again soon.