When humor goes, there goes civilization

Puttering around my world



These babies are safe from all the rain...

I check them to make sure I haven't killed them yet. 

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Comments (6)


The deck

It's finally warm enough and not raining...so we're moving plants up to the deck, slowly, to give them a chance yo get used to the sun. 

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Comments (5)



Mother's Day present from my daughter.
Phantom petunias and garden art
Lady's Mantle after rain showers
Salvia and irises
Garden photos. Playing around to learn what this looks like. Click on any photo you may want to enlarge. 

Comments (2)


Really Easy Clay Pot Lighthouse

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     These are so easy and adaptable that even I can make them, and I'm not creative. I went to Lowe's and experimented with the different sized clay pots until I'd found four pots and two saucers that worked well together.

     I spray painted the largest saucer with Stone spray paint. It could also have been painted black or red and turned upside down to sit the largest pot on top. I spray painted all the pots white. 
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     I used aluminum foil and painter's tape to cover everything but the rims of the pots. 
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     Painter's tape is so wonderfully forgiving. It can be positioned easily, and if a mistake is made, it can be repositioned with no trouble. 
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     And it's easy to fill in the gaps. 
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     I used Rustoleum paints, but any good outdoor paint will work. 
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     First, I sprayed the undersides of the rims, 
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then I turned the pots over and finished. [I also sprayed some extras for something else. ]
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     After 24 hours, I removed the tape and foil, used a stencil to draw the doors and windows [I said I'm challenged. I can't even draw a straight line.], and painted them with black gloss acrylic Patio Paint. An inexpensive lantern with a flickering LED candle inside finished it off. I plan to place the pebbles from that bag all around the base to give it the look of a lighthouse on a rocky cliff. 
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Comments (6)


Clay Pot Garden Doll

     These dolls are inexpensive and easy to make.  

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     The shoes are made for 18" Madame Alexander dolls. I found these on ebay.  

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     7/8ths inch dowel rods cut in 3" sections and painted pink.  

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     I made good use of the glue gun today. 

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     There are many ways to do this. I glued beads on the parachute cord to space the pots for the arms and legs. Working with the hot glue gun on Non-Stick aluminum foil helped. 

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    I also glued each bead in place as I worked. 

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     I measured an inch from the previous pot and marked the cord to glue the next bead. 

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     My plan to run the cords through the opening in the pot went awry when I discovered I had oh so efficiently glued the saucer to the bottom of the pot. Dave helped me drill holes in the side of the pot instead. 

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     I positioned the cords to have the arms and legs hang like I wanted...

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     Then I glued and positioned and glued everything within an inch of its life. 

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     Before I think about leaving her out in the weather, I'll seal her well with polyurethane spray...if I put her out in all sorts of weather. 

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Comments (2)


Baked Ziti

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Baked Ziti

2 lbs. ground chuck
1 lb. Italian sausage, mild or hot
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, diced
8 oz. can tomato paste [See note.*]
2 28-oz. cans tomato sauce
1 T. brown sugar 
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 t. Italian seasoning
2 Bay leaves
1 t. Sriracha or Tabasco sauce
1 t. prepared mustard
1 t. salt 
1/2 t. pepper
1 c. beef broth
1 lb. ziti or other pasta, cooked to al dente 
2 c. grated mozzarella cheese
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese 

Brown the meat and drain; add the onion and garlic. Cook until vegetables are soft. 

Add the tomato paste and stir for 5 minutes to bloom the paste. Add the tomato sauce, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, Bay leaves, Sriracha sauce, prepared mustard, salt, pepper, and beef broth. 

Cover, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and add more broth, if necessary. Remove Bay leaves.  [*Or use 2 quarts of your favorite commercial spaghetti sauce.]

Combine with cooked pasta and pour into a large greased casserole dish. Cover and bake at 350 degrees. Remove cover and sprinkle evenly with cheeses. Bake an additional 15 minutes, uncovered, until cheeses are melted and casserole is bubbling. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

This can be made up to two days ahead of time and refrigerated. Bake for 45-60 minutes the first time, until the casserole is heated through and bubbling.  

This is a great opportunity to get flavor into to the pasta. I add 2 packets Knorr Beef or Chicken Stock Concentrate to the water used to cook the pasta. Use a few bouillon cubes or flavor paste or whatever floats your boat. You won't be sorry. 

Comments (6)


Butterscotch Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

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Butterscotch Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

1 c. plus 2 T. Crisco Butter Shortening
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
3 eggs, slightly beaten
2 drops Butterscotch Flavor LorAnn Essence Oil, optional
1 t. vanilla extract
2 c. AP flour
1 T. ground cinnamon
1 t. salt
¼ t. baking soda
3 c. oats , quick or old fashioned
1 ½ c. pecans
11 oz. pkg. butterscotch chips
8 oz. pkg. Bit O’Brickle chips

 Whisk together flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

 Cream shortening and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl. Add eggs, butterscotch oil, and vanilla and mix well. Gradually add flour, salt and baking soda mixture. Add pecans and chips and mix just until combined.

Drop by heaping tablespoon, three inches apart, onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 11-13 minutes until light brown around the edges. Cool 2 minutes on the cookie sheet and then place on rack to continue cooling.

 For chewier cookies, store overnight in a sealed container with a fresh slice of bread. 

     These REALLY are good! Butterscotch and toffee chips with pecans in a cinnamon oatmeal cookie. 

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Comments (3)


Broccoli Chicken Stuffing Casserole

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Easy Broccoli Chicken Stuffing Casserole 

1 head broccoli cut into florets
2 pkgs. Chicken flavored stuffing mix 
3 c. cooked chicken, chopped
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
½ t. Sriracha sauce [or Tabasco] 

Steam broccoli until crisp tender. Prepare stuffing according to box directions. Combine chicken, soup, and Sriracha sauce  in a large bowl. Gentle combine with stuffing and broccoli. Pour into a greased 9” x 13” pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Casserole can be prepared a day or so ahead of time when covered and refrigerated. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes; remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until edges are browned. 

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     We had a funeral luncheon Friday for a church member, and boy, did we have a lot of food!  
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Cheesy Smoked sausage, Cabbage & Noodles

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Cheesy Smoked Sausage, Cabbage and Noodles

2 14-oz. packages Smoked Sausage, sliced  
1 small head cabbage, sliced thinly [About8 c.]
1 ½ c. sliced onion 
Butter or oil of choice [I used turkey fat.]
2 t. Sriracha or Tabasco Sauce 
1 t. salt
¼ t. Pepper 
16 oz. Kluski style noodles  
3 c. grated cheese of choice [I used Kraft Five-cheese Italian blend.] 

Cook smoked sausage in large skillet over medium heat until slices begin to brown. Drain fat and place in a large bowl.

Cook cabbage and onions in oil in the same skillet, covered, until soft. Add Sriracha sauce, salt and pepper, and add to bowl with smoked sausage. Cook noodles in chicken broth, drain, reserving about 2 c. of the broth. Add to the bowl with the other ingredients and toss everything with the cheese. Add reserved broth as needed to desired moistness; err slightly on the side of wet.

Pour into large, greased baking pan and cover. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes and remove cover. Bake 15 minutes longer, or until edges begin to brown.  

     This casserole was a big hit at a small luncheon today. Two people asked for the recipe. I put it together yesterday, and baked it at the church today.  

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Comments (1)


Gingerbread Bundt Cake

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     The spicy smell and taste of this cake just screams Christmas. The recipe came from Cuisine at home magazine, which I recommend for its great cooking tips, delicious recipes and total lack of ANY ads. 

Gingerbread Bundt Cake

For the syrup, heat:
½ c. each granulated sugar, water and minced fresh ginger.

For the cake, whisk:
1 ½ c. packed light brown sugar
1 c. 2% milk
2/3 c. vegetable oil
½ c. molasses
½ c. sour cream 
3 eggs 

2 ¼ c. AP flour
2 t. each baking powder and ground ginger
1 t. ground cinnamon
¾ t. freshly grated nutmeg
½ t. each ground allspice and salt
¼ t. baking soda
1/8 t. ground cloves
Pinch of ground cardamom 

For the whipped topping, whisk:
2 c. heavy cream 
2 T. granulated sugar
2 t. vanilla extract
Chopped crystallized ginger 

Bring syrup ingredients to a boil over medium high heat; reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain syrup, reserving the ginger.

Preheat the oven to 350 F and liberally spray a 10-15 c. Bundt pan with PAM and coat with turbinado sugar.

Whisk brown sugar, milk, oil, molasses, and reserved ginger. Whisk together eggs and sour cream; whisk into the other wet ingredients.

Sift together dry ingredients.; whisk into wet mixture in 3 to 4 increments. Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan. Bake 1 hour  or until cake pulls away from the edges of the pan and tests done with a toothpick. Cool 45 minutes in pan. Poke cake all over with skewer or meat fork; drizzle ginger syrup all over the top. Invert cake onto a plate [tap pan to release, if necessary]; let cool completely.

Whip the cream to soft peaks; add sugar and vanilla. Whip to medium firm peaks. Top slices of cake with whipped cream and garnish with crystallized ginger.

 Chopped fresh ginger smells amazing. 

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Turbinado sugar is raw sugar, but if you don't have it in the cupboard, granulated sugar will work great. 

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Crystallized ginger is sometimes labeled candied ginger. It's supposed to be useful for settling stomachs. Most grocery stores carry it, and it is a nice garnish for this cake. But it isn't absolutely necessary. 

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The kitchen, heck, the whole house, smelled like Christmas. 

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I used Reddi-Wip for Dave's tasting piece. He gave it two thumbs up. 

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Comments (2)

About the Author
Linda (LRuthers)



     I'm convinced that there are many more bad recipes than there are bad cooks. The problem is that sometimes decent cooks use bad recipes and then believe that the poor results are their fault.

     When people print recipes in cookbooks, magazines, etc. or when they post them online, they seldom tell the pitfalls or the little tips needed to make the recipe turn out well. And, too, quite a few printed recipes contain typos!

     I search for recipes that are good. Dependable. I'm not a chef. I'm a mother and grandmother who's been cooking for >45 years.

     I believe that any recipe posted for the general public should be one that I can master. If not, there's something wrong with the recipe.

     I post my successes and my failures, and tell what I learned when following each new recipe. I learn more from my mistakes. I don't know what that says about me.

     The very best recipes are the ones that are inexpensive, delicious AND easy. And there are a lot of those.

     Sometimes, I spend a little more and work a little harder for a recipe that seems to be one that will make people really happy.

Thanks, Linda

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