Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton

London Calling

After a long phone call, where I was coerced lovingly invited to get up at 3 AM CDT to watch the pre-wedding, wedding, and post-wedding TV coverage of the royal wedding, I finally relented and told my friend that I will arrive bearing tea and scones.  I realize that full BBC coverage will be broadcast later in the day, but the BBC's idea of what's important to cover for a later broadcast may not be the same as ours.

I don't know how many people will be crowded around this spot in London, for if you were standing under this tube sign, you could look across the street to Westminster Abbey, where the wedding ceremony, uniting William Windsor and Catherine Middleton in holy matrimony, will take place.

Westminster Abbey North Door 

 Zooming in on the window above the door

 Just above the door

I found this floor plan online somewhere

I'm really a directionally oriented person (as in cardinal directions), so this morning when my husband and I were at a nursery to pick up some tomato plants, we had this debate about the floor plan of Westminster Abbey. I was using plant markers to try to demonstrate to my husband how I remembered the interior of Westminster Abbey. After we got home, I went online and found this helpful diagram (above).

The first time I saw the abbey, when I walked through the door I made an involuntary, audible gasp and tears filled my eyes. (I know, how very embarrassing.) But no kidding, it was  the most magnificent church I'd ever seen. I hope you all get to see it at some time. It would still be at the top of my 'must see in London' locations, and such a thrill to attend an Evensong service.

I'm wondering if the royal couple will later appear on this balcony at Buckingham Palace to wave to the crowd of onlookers. A Google Search took me to lots of photos of royals on that same balcony, including George V and Queen Mary, William's great-great grandparents. I think Queen Elizabeth looks so much like her Grandma Mary.

 Update 8:45 CDT:  Sure enough, they did wave from the balcony at Buckingham Palace, and here's the official kiss!

Photo: Huffington Post

And in case anyone missed this exclusive coverage of the royal wedding, my friend Beth reminded me where I could find it online:

Have a great weekend, everyone. I hope you can catch up on your sleep after the wedding!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham Recipe

Guess what we had left over from the weekend? Right! Ham. So the best thing I've found to do with leftover ham is...Scalloped potatoes! No salt is needed because the ham has enough salt to go around!


2 1/2 c. diced ham
1/2 onion, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, diced
1/2 large red pepper, chopped
1 c. pared and sliced carrots
4 med. red potatoes
3 T. butter
1 t. olive oil
1 c. cream or whole milk
1 T.+ flour
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
coarse-ground black pepper

Cut potatoes into halves (leave skin on) and boil in water until they are not quite tender. Add sliced carrots to the boiling water for the last 5 minutes.  Drain water from vegetables and let them stand until cool enough to handle.

In skillet, melt butter and add olive oil. When bubbly, add ham, onion, celery, jalapeno, and red pepper. Saute until onions are translucent.

Cut potatoes into chunks. Place potatoes and carrots into a large bowl to mix. Add the ingredients from the skillet.

In a small saucepan, whisk flour into cream. Slowly heat until it's slightly thickened, stirring constantly with the whisk. Then pour cream mixture over ham and vegetables and fold in gently.

Use cooking spray to coat inside of baking dish. Pour half of the ham, vegetables, and cream mixture into the baking dish. Sprinkle shredded cheddar over the layer. Add a second (last) layer and sprinkle a little shredded cheddar over the top. Sprinkle with coarse ground black pepper.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

P.S. This is most definitely 'comfort food.' If you overindulged on the weekend, this would not be the dinner for you (or me). Go make a chef salad with spinach, chicken, veggies, cheese, and onion - but without dressing or croutons. It's the price we pay for eating too many of those delicious little jellybellies.

P.P.S. Yes, I did have about 1 t. of the scalloped potatoes and ham, just to 'test.' After all, someone's got to do it. YUM. :-)

Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such

This post is linked to: Making the World Cuter Mondays
and Something I Whipped Up Monday
and Motivate Me Monday
and Making Monday Marvelous
and Made from Scratch Tuesday
and Tasty Tuesday
and Tempt My Tummy Tueadays
and Wandering Wednesday
and What's Cookin' Wednesday
and We Did it Wednesday
and Thrilling Thursday
and Favorite Things Friday
and I'm Lovin' it Friday
and It's a Hodgepodge Friday
and Fat Camp Friday
and Fun With Food Friday

Monday, April 25, 2011

Clover Blossom Handcrafted Soap

Mother's Day is May 8. Are you ready? My handcrafted soaps make great gifts for Mother's Day, Father's Day, birthdays, or anydays. 

Clover Blossom smells so amazing that it was gaining a following before it was even cured! I think it's that fresh and summertime fragrance that makes Clover Blossom really stand out. And believe me, with the long winter we've had here in NW Wisconsin, we could use some summertime fragrance!

Clover Blossom is handcrafted, smells wonderful, and has a soft, silky, and gentle lather. No harsh chemicals in my soaps! Great in the shower or bath for even sensitive skin.

Ingredients: Coconut oil, Olive oil, Soybean Oil, Palm oil, Distilled water, Sodium hydroxide, Fragrance Oil

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter. Spring has finally arrived in Wisconsin! We have sunshine!!

Raspberry Cheesecake!  (soap)

See all my soaps at

Now would be a good time to order, to make sure your soaps arrive in time for Mother's Day! :-)

Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He is Risen!!

Hallelujah! What a Savior!!

'My hope lives not because I am not a sinner, but because I am a sinner for whom Christ died; my trust is not that I am holy, but that being unholy, he is my righteousness. My faith rests not upon what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ is, in what he has done, and in what he is now doing for me.' - Charles Spurgeon

Okay, so Christians believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Ever wondered, 'What's the significance of the empty tomb? Alistair Begg takes a look at the Resurrection and why it's an issue we can't ignore.

If you've never pondered this question before, I suggest you do it now. So take your laptop to a comfortable chair, put your feet up, and click on the above link to listen to this important discussion with one of today's great theologians.

You're gonna love the Scottish accent!! :-)

'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.'  - I Peter 1:3

'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'  - Jeremiah 29:11

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Baby's Back

The Indiana contingent arrived yesterday afternoon to be with us to celebrate Kevin's birthday. Henry is one happy little boy! I hope to have more pics of the rest of the family after the weekend's over. In case you missed it, here's the post from January that shows John making his famous bagels!

The Birthday Boy
a few years ago

Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such

Friday, April 22, 2011

In My Place Condemned He Stood

Man of Sorrows! what a name
For the Son of God, Who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
Full atonement can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

'He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.' I Peter 2:24

'God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.'  II Corinthians 5:21
"And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and blessing."  Revelation 5:11-12

Good Friday, Fountains Abbey

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kilburn White Horse and Byland Abbey, North Yorkshire

Kilburn White Horse
and sheep - those fuzzy white dots in the pasture below

Both the Kilburn White Horse and Byland Abbey lie in the SW corner of the North York Moors National Park.

Blue dot represents the approximate location of the Kilburn White Horse

I want you to know that I was making every effort to embed a Google Earth image here, so that you would be able to move around the Kilburn White Horse, zooming in and out. Every attempt I made ended with too long a load time. But if you're interested in seeing this on Google Earth,  you can type in the location. It really is pretty cool!

Latitude: 54°13'29.13"N
Longitude:   1°12'45.56"W

The Kilburn White Horse was made by some industrious souls who, in the mid-nineteenth century, scraped off the top soil to expose a huge limestone horse, just dying to get some fresh air.

Approaching the White Horse

Leaving Thirsk, we headed east on the A170.

Directions from 
"Enter next roundabout and take the 1st exit onto SUTTON ROAD/A170.
MOOR LANE becomes unnamed road." (Those always seem to be interesting)
I had thought that there were M-roads, A-roads, and B-roads. I guess there are all of the above plus lanes and unnamed roads. 

View of car park from the top
The white that you see in the foreground is not snow; it is the Kilburn White Horse

Looking NW from the top

Zooming in on the village of Kilburn, south of the Kilburn White Horse

Near the White Horse
more of my favorites: sheep and fences

 Approaching Byland Abbey in the gloaming

Once a great Cistercian monastery, along with Rievaulx and Fountains, 12th century Byland Abbey was among the most impressive churches in England. Contrary to appearances, Byland Abbey was not 'open' when we were there, but we enjoyed walking the perimeter.

Imagine what that large west window must have looked like!

Across the street, the Abbey Inn
snagging the odd PG

Preserved in stone, the Abbey guard dog
 I have a thing about dogs on chains, but I guess I can tolerate this one.

It's always surprising, when driving around Yorkshire, that out in the middle of absolutely nowhere will appear the ruins of a once magnificent castle or abbey. After dark, I would almost expect to see hooded monks moving quietly about the abbey ruins. (See Season One, Episode 6 of All Creatures Great and Small)

Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April Fools Day??

April 20, 2010 vs April 20, 2011

April 20, 2010 vs. April 20, 2011

Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Beef Pepper Steak with Cashews Recipe


Okay, I know what you're thinking: That woman makes the same meals over and over. Well, just think of it as a Chinese restaurant. Know how everything on the menu has a lot of the same ingredients? It's like that. I use my old standby ingredients, but change it up just enough to make it a little different. If it works for a Chinese restaurant, I don't know why it can't work for me. Besides, those ingredients are what I have in the refrigerator most of the time.

I'll post the photos first, with the recipe following, so the instructions will be in one chunk of text.

Browned sirloin and garlic

Sliced vegetables saute-ing

Sauce stirred in and cashews sprinkled on top

Ready to eat

Beef Pepper Steak with Cashews - Recipe


Beef Sirloin, 1 1/2 - 2 pounds
Freshly minced garlic, 1 or 2 cloves
Paprika, a few T.
2 T. Extra-virgin olive oil
3 stalks of celery
2 Carrots
Peppers (Green or red or both)
Jalapeno pepper, minced
2 parsnips 
Cayenne and Sea Salt to taste

1/2 c. beef broth (Kitchen Basics)
1 t. honey
1/4 c. burgandy
1 T. corn starch

A few hours before you're going to make this dinner, slice up the sirloin and garlic, sprinkle generously with paprika, then cover it with plastic and place in the refrigerator. It's helpful to get the veggies all cut up now too and store in a baggie in the refrig until you need them. That way the mess can be cleaned up and makes it that much easier at suppertime (or dinnertime, whichever meal you eat at 6 PM)
20 minutes before serving, saute sirloin and garlic in olive oil. Remove from skillet.
In skillet, saute veggies, beginning with the parsnips and carrots, then adding celery and peppers, then onion. (The onion cooks up faster than the others)

Remove from heat and make the sauce:

In a small bowl, mix the sauce ingredients. Stir well and pour over veggies. Add beef back into skillet. Heat on low and stir until sauce is clear and bubbly.

Add cashews.
Stir to heat thoroughly and serve immediately. No one likes soggy cashews.  
(If you'd like to make enough to ensure that you have leftovers, I'd not put the cashews in, but serve them separately in a bowl at the table.)
I like mine with a little added cayenne and sea salt.

P.S. My husband wasn't fond of the parsnips being in this dish, but I really liked the addition.

P.S. You don't need rice or anything else with this dish. But as I've said before, it wouldn't hurt to have a little piece of Ritter Sport dark chocolate with hazelnut for dessert, although I'm trying to avoid chocolate and sugar this week. :-(

Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such

This post is linked to: Making the World Cuter Mondays
and Something I Whipped Up Monday
and Motivate Me Monday
and Making Monday Marvelous
and Made from Scratch Tuesday
and Tasty Tuesday
and Tempt My Tummy Tueadays
and Wandering Wednesday
and What's Cookin' Wednesday
and We Did it Wednesday
and Thrilling Thursday
and Favorite Things Friday
and I'm Lovin' it Friday
and It's a Hodgepodge Friday
and Fat Camp Friday
and Fun With Food Friday

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cupcake Tea Cozy

Okay, I've found a 60 oz. teapot because I wanted one that held enough tea for a group, not two people. I've knitted the tea cozy, (free pattern on Ravelry, search for 'Fairy Cake Tea Cozy')...

You'll notice, if you find the pattern, that my tea cozy actually bears little resemblance to the one on Ravelry. I am very pleased with how it turned out, in fact, I like it better, but any time something I knit turns out like the pattern I consider it a kind of 'happy accident.'

...and a dear soul from England has even given me the tea!

Now, can anyone out there tell me exactly how to go about making the perfect English pot of tea?
Remember, I'm dealing with a teapot that holds 10   6oz teacupsful. teacupfuls?

Eager to make my pot of tea,

Author, Second Chance - A Tale of Two Puppies
Check out my handcrafted soaps at Soap'n'Such

Friday, April 15, 2011

Leavin' on a Jet Plane? Packing List

You may be surprised to learn that when you're trying to avoid long luggage-retrieval lines at the airport, the best way is to take only a carry on. Yes, you can survive with what can be stuffed into a carry on. The standard size carry-on is 9 x 14 x 22 inches. Most airports will allow you to also take another bag with you on the plane.

This is my standard packing list, for a 4 day, a 14 day, or even a long trip:

Keep in mind that this is for winter, springtime, or fall travel - and men probably wouldn't be packing Cudl Duds. :-) Obviously, the list would be adjusted for summertime travel.

To wear on the plane:
Wear comfortable black plants (Columbia makes Columbia Falls jersey pants that are really comfortable and double for pants to wear on the street, so that it's not essential that you change once you get to your destination), short-sleeved t-shirt, polar fleece jacket and lined rain coat, sturdy walking shoes.

In Purse, to have easily accessible:
Toothbrush, gum mints, pen, dental floss, book, crossword book, Sharpie, extra pen, vitamins, Carmex, hairbrush, soap box with baby washcloth (takes up very little room), small mirror, lipstick, journal, color pencils, map

In Carry-on bag (suitcase - the 9 x 14 x 22):

In Quart Ziploc Bag (Keep this in the front pocket of your carry on and be ready to hand it over at the airport for inspection):

Small amounts of shampoo, gel, creme rinse,
toothpaste, deodorant, makeup, glue stick (what?? Yes, the glue stick that I use for my journal would scan as a liquid), Bar soap (Yes, it also scans as a liquid), 6 small packets of Tide, lotion

Camera and batteries, camera SD card, mobile phone, hair dryer and converter, clothesline, sink plug, extra Ziploc baggies, opera glasses, small flashlight, guidebooks and maps, all tickets and labels and important phone numbers; alarm clock, extra glasses or sunglasses.

My Carry-on has a strap under which I can stash a small pillow and fleece blanket which don't take up much space, but which are useful on an 8 hour flight.

Clothes in Carry-on:
2 pr. black dress pants, gloves, hat, earmuffs (okay, they look dorky, but in March on the Yorkshire moors, you may be sorry you didn't have them. Okay, fine. I would be sorry I didn't have them), 3 short-sleeved shirts, 3 long-sleeved shirts, 2 Cudl Duds shirts, 1 Cudl Duds long johns, 1 sweater, black polar fleece vest, 4 pr comfy wool sox, undies, 1 pr. dress shoes, 1 pr. slippers (something to wear down the hall to the bathroom, lightweight and sandal-like)

As far as shirts, pants, and skirts, make sure that everything goes with everything else, so you can mix and match. Black is good for just about everything, and looks dressier for going into Westminster Abbey and other churches.

In waist pouch:
Airline e-tickets receipts, boarding passes, drivers license, passport, credit cards or debit cards, British cash (if going to Britain)

If you plan to stay in a B&B for at least 3 nights, you'll have the opportunity to hand wash any clothes you need to in the sink, with time to hang them up and allow them to dry. Plus, you usually get a price break on a three-night stay.

Everyone ready to travel?  Hm. Airfare has about doubled since we last went to England in '08. :-( And until the TSA gets over this annoying obsession with patting down paying guests, I may not fly even if I had the time and the money.

The Littlest Traveler

Have a great weekend, everyone!



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