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Glimpses of spring

We are seeing a number of signs of spring here this week and I thought I'd post a few recent pictures from around our house and yard today.

Don't you just love the smell of hyacinths? One flower can perfume an entire room for several days.

picture of Hyacinths 2011

Rob planted Hellebores on one side of our house which is very shaded. We have several varieties in shades of white, green, and purple. They are a bit tricky to photograph since the flower heads often hang downward.

picture of Hellebores 2011

Here are a few different varieties:

picture of Floating Hellebores

Our lot is pie shaped with the back of the lot the widest part. There is a drainage ditch that runs the entire width of the back of the lot. Rob and a couple of friends and neighbors have spent many hours hauling rocks and pouring cement. Rob also planted Liriope, Daffodils, and Daylilies in the back of the ditch closest to the fence to beautify the area. He has chronicled some of this project on his blog.

picture of Daffodils 2011

In our front yard we have a large flower box which has some pansies which have overwintered. There are also a few tulips and some hyacinths in there which haven't bloomed yet.

picture of Flower Box 2011

I know some of my readers live in areas which are still snow covered. My desire is that these pictures will give you hope that spring is on the way.

Another thing that is fast approaching is Nora's wedding. Here are a couple of glimpses of things to come:

Here's a little peek at her gown:

picture of Noras Gown

And, finally, here's a peek at the final bridesmaids dress. My sewing machine has been getting quite a workout for the last few weeks.

picture of Final Bridesmaid Dress

I hope you all either are or soon will be enjoying glimpses of spring in your neck of the woods too.


Nora’s bridal shower

We received some pictures from Nora's bridal shower this week so I thought I'd post a few today.

Here is Nora and her former boss, Theresa, who graciously hosted the shower. Don't you love her red door?

picture of Theresa Nora Shower

Here is Nora and some of the shower guests:

picture of Nora Shower Many Friends

Here is Nora and a couple of her close friends:

picture of Nora Shower Friends

Here is a shot of the beatiful refreshment table. The girl who made the cake is also making the Groom's cake for the wedding.

picture of Nora Shower Food

Here is Nora with some of the lovely gifts she received:

picture of Nora Shower Gifts

Here are Nora and I:

picture of Becka Nora Shower

And, finally, here are Nora and Topher. He came to help convey all the gifts to their new home.

picture of Nora Topher Shower

Six weeks from now they will be wed and on their honeymoon! We have a few details to iron out between now and then.


Happy Valentine’s Day!

picture of Valentine Table

We've had a very busy week here--lots of stuff going on at school and work and home. I've had a sinus infection which has slowed me down a bit and made it harder to keep up with all that's going on.

Rob was out of town all day on Saturday at a foreign language teacher's convention--he had to leave the house at 5 AM! Nora and I spent the morning and early afternoon at her bridal shower. It was lovely and her friends truly showered her with their love and many beautiful and thoughtful gifts. I will try to post a few pictures later if I can get some from her friends. I was so busy talking that I ended up taking only a couple. ๐Ÿ™

The wedding invitations have been mailed, three of the four bridesmaid's dresses are ready for their final fitting, the wedding gown is being altered, the honeymoon has been booked, and of course there are still lots of other tasks to be checked off of our lists.

So, with all that's going on we are having a very low-key Valentine's Day at our house. We had Mark and Katie over for lunch today. We are all eagerly awaiting the birth of their little boy in just a few weeks. He's actually due the same week as Nora and Topher are getting married! Here was today's menu:

picture of Moms Potatoes

Ham Loaf
Deviled Eggs
Mom's Potatoes
Frozen Cranberry Banana Salad
Valentine Cupcakes

I have posted all these recipes in the past except for the potatoes. I don't know the real name for potatoes cooked this way. There really isn't a "recipe" for them, so I'll just tell you how my mother used to make them. They are one of Rob's favorites and I really should make them more often.

Mom's Potatoes
small red potatoes, 1-2 per person
cooking oil
salt and pepper

Scrub the potatoes and then boil until tender. Let cool and then peel the potatoes. At this point you can refrigerate them until about 20-30 mins. before the meal. Heat a skillet until hot and then add enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet. Add the potatoes and cook until the potatoes are browned and warmed through. They should develop a nice crust on the part on the bottom of the skillet before you turn them to another side. Keep turning until they are warm and browned well. Salt and pepper to taste. We like these with ham but they would be good with just about any meat and they are quick and easy when you have some boiled potatoes on hand.

picture of Valentine Cupcakes

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!


Gluten-free cookies

We don't have anyone in our family who must avoid gluten or wheat, but there are quite a few students at school who have this dietary limitation. From time to time I like to make something sweet for them since they cannot eat most of the desserts which are offered.

Betty Crocker and King Arthur Flour have recently come out with some gluten-free mixes which are available at our local grocery stores and I have found quite a few recipes using those mixes as a base in recent months.

picture of Gluten Free Cookie Mix

I made these Monster Cookies this week and I thought they turned out nicely.

picture of Monster

Here's the recipe:

Monster Cookies

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 box Betty Crocker Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie mix
3/4 cup M&M's (I used mini Reece's pieces)
1/2 cup Rice Chex Cereal

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In mixing bowl blend together the butter, peanut butter and egg. Stir in the cookie mix and mix until well blended. Then stir in the candies and the Chex Cereal. (I was using the mixer and let it mix enough to break up the cereal.) Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets and bake for 11-13 mins. or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown. Let cool for a couple of minutes on the cookie sheets to set and then remove and let cool completely. I got four dozen small cookies from this recipe.

Do you know anyone with Celiac disease or a gluten allergy? Would you like to share any of your favorite recipes or menu ideas?


An ordinary week

We have had an ordinary week around here, which is nice from time to time. Classes are in full swing over at school and we have been plugging away at some projects here at home.

I'm making good progress on the wedding sewing. I have the flower girl dress and two of the bridesmaids dresses ready for their final fittings and have started in on another of the dresses. Three of the four bridesmaids are from out of town. One girl is local but has just had a new baby so I am doing her dress last.

Nora has been busy trying to tie up some loose ends. The biggest problem seems to be regarding the reception area. It's apparently not large enough for the expected number of guests so she is seeking a creative alternative--perhaps a tent? We would appreciate your prayers. I'm sure it will all work out, but these are busy days.

At work we are just starting to implement a new computer program, so that too is adding some stress. In the end it should be very helpful, but there's quite a distance to go in the meantime. ๐Ÿ™‚

We recently celebrated DS Mark's birthday. We had a small celebration at our house the day before his actual birthday. This should be a very exciting year for him and Katie as they anticipate the birth of a son in early April. The baby is due the same week as Nora's wedding. ๐Ÿ™‚

picture of Mark's 28th birthday

Last night I tried a new recipe that I saw in last Sunday's newspaper. It was really delicious, so I will post the link for you. I had a couple of sweet potatoes that I needed to use so that is the main reason I decided to try it. I did brine the chicken, but I don't really think that that step was necessary. When I make it again I plan to put the chicken in with the vegetables at the beginning of the cooking time and then add the cream and cheese halfway through. We like our chicken very tender and I didn't think 35 mins. was quite long enough. The vegetable mixture was extremely tasty--it would be a great side dish on its own.

Have a blessed weekend!