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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Miscellaneous March

Hello dear friends!  Hope the sun is shining on your part of the world today!  First, before I get any further, I want to thank all of you that took the time to opine, comment and leave kind words about cutting my hair in the last post. I heard from so many of you that around my same age that have long hair, I guess it isn't as unpopular as I thought.  Comments left by Cate and Bless, who have lost their hair due to chemo, really touched my heart.  I guess I'll keep the long hair for a while as a symbol of the blessing of good health that our Creator has bestowed upon me.  So thank you all so much!  Now hopefully, the discussion about hair is a closed chapter. Ha!

Well, March didn't come in like a lion or a lamb, more like a lion cub, with spurts of snow squalls throughout the day.  We took a ride through the countryside and the sight of the fields of corn stubble peeking out of the snow with the crows silhouetted against the pale gray sky made my heart swell.   All the old barns and farmhouses made  the world look like  a  Billy Jacobs painting.  This land, this place, is where my heart belongs.  There's such a serenity that comes from knowing you are where you should be, it reminds me of the Shaker song, Simple Gifts.

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
  'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

Above is my little Easter vignette on my dining room table.  I love to create these little scenes, although I think Ran and Jamie get annoyed with them, just something to remove from the table before dinner.  What the menfolk have to put up with!   That bundt cake isn't real but is a scented salt dough one that I made just for looks.  I'm trying not to bake as much, it is not good for my health, but I  do love to see plates of cookies and cakes in the house.  It just makes a place look homey, in my opinion, so I had fun "baking"  this faux spice cake.  Here's the direction on how to make  one:

"Faux" Spice Cake (do not eat!)

2 C. flour
1 C. kosher salt
1 C. coffee (the stronger the better)
1/3 C. cinnamon
3 tbsp. cloves

Combine all the ingredients, spread into  your cake pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  You can "flour" the pan with more cinnamon or any spice, if desired.  Make sure to fill the pan all the way up, as these "cakes" don't rise and spread the batter in really well because the ingredients don't melt. Bake at a very low oven, 175 degrees, for 4-6 hours depending upon the size you are making.  They should be dry to the touch and the batter should be pulling away from the side.  Remove from the pan.  I like to sprinkle mine with some of that oil used in those diffuser reeds for added scent.  Smells great! And prettier than one of those scent diffusers, I think. You can use different spices too. It's a fun project and an easy craft. Only problem, it makes me hungry for real spice cake!

Another Craft

What a joy it was to get out my sewing machine!  I love to knit, but sometimes it's nice to have a project that can be finished in a matter of hours rather than week (or months, in my case). I sewed this butcher-style apron, using an old sheet. 

I cut the fabric to take advantage of the decorative border.  It's cute but next time I'd make it smaller, the top part gaps, and I'd make the straps longer, as the darts and waist do not hit me where they should.  Glad I didn't waste any money on it!  Here's the vintage pattern I used:
As you can see by the illustration, that this apron can be worn as a jumper.  I'd say that if I were to use it for that purpose, I'd make it out of  a cotton jersey or other drapey  fabric.  Where the ties criss-cross  in the back gets kind of bunchy and the stiffness of the cotton fabric is not the most flattering thing in the world.  It sort of looks like a glorified potato sack! But the pattern certainly lived up to it's claims of being quick and easy to sew!

The One Thing I Like About Lent

To me, Lent is not a season of happiness, it is a season of atonement, mourning and regrets, but there is one thing I do love about the season and that is that fish becomes very affordable.  Yesterday, I bought pollock for $1.69/ lb.! Here's my recipe for my very favorite way to prepare it:

Pecan Crusted  Orange Whitefish

1 lb. any whitefish (catfish, pollock, whitefish, cod)
1/3 C. orange marmalade
1 tbsp. prepared mustard
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1 C. cornflake crumbs or breadcrumbs
1/2 C. chopped pecans
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning

Place fish fillets on a broiler pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Broil until fish turns white and starts to flake (about 10 minutes). Remove from the heat and turn over the fillets.  Combine the marmalade, mustard and 1 tsp of Cajun seasoning in a small bowl.  Cover the fish fillets with the marmalade mixture.  Combine the remaining ingredients and top the marmalade covered fish with it.  Return to the broiler and broil until the fish is cooked through and the topping begins to brown and the marmalade begins to bubble.




 I know that this may seem like an unusual combination of flavors to some, but oh boy!, is it ever good!   Combine this with some oven-fried sweet potato fries and a nice green salad, and you've got yourself a meal!

Don't Buy It, Make It

No need to buy those expensive bottles of Cajun seasoning, it's easy to make from spices every kitchen should have on hand. There's a ton of recipes on-line and they are all the same, just combine:

2 1/2 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. oregano
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. black pepper

Thrifty Things We Did This Week

We actually hung the laundry outside on the line one day.  Halfway through the drying, it began to snow and we had to rush to get them off the line before they froze, but they still got that nice outdoor fresh smell.  Ah! Springtime in Michigan!

Bought fish for $1.67/lb.

Sewed an apron from an old bedsheet.

Bought half a dozen old magazines at a thrift store 3/$1.  Best entertainment I could find for $2!

We didn't need to buy groceries this week (except for the fish), as I'm trying to work down my pantry and freezer. Some of the meals we had were beef stew, lasagna,  and pizza.

Renewed my Walgreen's prescription plan. This saves us a lot of money on my thyroid medication.

Got a good report from my doctor's appointment.  Those that don't think diet and exercise  matter, it matters!  

My computer crashed, again. Jamie managed to get it up and going, without having to buy a new one.  I thought for sure this time it was a goner.

Picked up all the bottles and cans we found along the road as we walked and returned them.  Made $4!  Maybe not enough to live on, but surely enough for a couple of bags of beans or rice.  PLus the roadsides look cleaner too!

So that's it for another week at the old Zempel boarding house.  I hope you all have a joy filled  and contented week!

Hugs
Jane










43 comments:

  1. You say you picked up bottles and cans and sold them, that brings back memories of many years ago, we had bought a section for a holiday bach, ( Years later we had a house built on it and lived there for 25 years!!), and hidden in the massive undergrowth were beer bottles, Hundreds!! Thrown from the next door property. We loaded them up, and sold them, from memory made about $200 !!! Laundry out in the snow, one way to get any stains off in an easy way. Or is it the frost that does that? Have another wonderful week up North.

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    1. Hi Jean! In Michigan you pay a 10 cent deposit on pop and beer bottles and cans when you purchase the pop and beer. It's supposed to cut down on the litter. When you empty the bottle/can you return it to the store and get your 10 cents back. I was happy with $4! Can't imagine making $200 on bottle returns. That was buried treasure!

      Well, when I hung the laundry out it was 40 degrees and sunny. Within a few hours the weather had turned and it was in the 20s and snowing. They never get the weather forecasts correct around here!

      HUgs
      Jane

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  2. Hi Jane,
    Glad your hair is staying, as it is so pretty. Thought the photo of you in the last post was very cute - spontaneous is so much better than posed. Liked your apron. The pattern reminded me of a time when I found a stack of them at a thrift store. I bought them, of course, and upon really looking at them, decided the previous owner bought a new pattern about every 10 years. Guess she wanted to update her attire once a decade.
    Take care.

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    1. Thanks Sheila! I think that would be a very thrifty way to live only updating your wardrobe every ten years, whether you need to or not. Ha! I've found that some patterns are timeless. I actually think this pattern would make a cute jumper if it was made into knit and maybe embellished Alabama Chanin style. I'm talking myself into it as I write this! Ha!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  3. Debbie in the U.P.March 5, 2017 at 11:44 AM

    Another productive week for you!
    I've started to walk more. We have a Tribal Center that is giving tokens for every mile you walk in their building. Each token is worth 1.00. I'm aiming for 60 tokens each for the next two months. (As long as this program runs.) These can only be spent on fruits and vegetables at the farmers market this Summer. Talk about incentive! I love a good challenge when it comes to moving my body; Free food, too!
    I pick up cans and bottles on my (outside) walks, too. I love to get paid for walking and getting some fresh air!
    If Jamie ever goes into business fixing old computers, sign me up. It makes me crazy how we always have to buy new technology when our systems become obsolete. Such a throw away society!
    Cute apron! I have to sew everything by hand; You know what that means; very little sewing gets done! Ha! I do love hand sewing once i get into the groove, though.
    Have a fabulous week! We may see high 40's this week! Woo-hoo! Be still my heart!

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    1. Man! I wish I had such a program, Debbie! I usually walk six miles every day and like to eat vegan, so I could eat for free!

      Jamie had to reset the computer back to the original manufacturer's setting, if that helps. I lost all everything I saved, including all my pictures and bookmarks, but I guess that was ok since my hard drive was getting pretty cluttered. It works a lot faster now. What is is about the younger generation that just knows how to fix computer problems?

      HUgs
      Jane

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  4. I'm glad you are keeping your hair long for now, at least. It looked very pretty in that braid.

    Very cute apron! I have one in red gingham that my mother made for me (she made a matching one for my daughter, too!). Every time I wear it, it is like a hug from her.

    Thank you for sharing your fish recipe. It sounds delicious. I shall try it the next time I buy some white fish.

    Glad your son was able to fix your computer for you. Nice to have someone who knows how to do that!

    Hope you have a lovely week ahead of you. Take care.

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    1. Thanks Bless! It is very nice to have someone that knows how to fix computers living with you. If it was left to my own devices, I would be completely living without any technology. Anything that has a plug or a wire never fairs well around me. I'm always amazed at what all you bloggers can do with the technology out there.

      Hugs
      Jane

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  5. I like your faux cake very much ❤ I've never heard of doing this but I really like the idea. I wonder what my grands would think of it, the oldest one is a real cake fan and he might think his grandma had really gone daft.
    Good for Jamie to fix your computer.
    Our Oklahoma winter weather has been so up and down too. One day short sleeves are comfortable and the next day we need heavy coats- it's sure not boring.

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    1. It might make a pretty good April Fools Day joke for him, Rhonda. They're hard as a rock.

      Well, with this weather you can't get bored with your wardrobe. Guess it's to be expected this time of year, but it sure would be nice to have it a little warmer and stay that way, at least for an entire day!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  6. Hi Jane! I bet your laundry brought in such a nice fresh smell! Simple wonderful pleasures of life! And your apron looks so nice and using the sheet gives it such a nice ironed-look. (I can't explain it...it looks crisp yet soft at the same time.)

    I love your recipes plus the non-caloric cake! That is neat! My son did that to my last computer. He was able to save everything on a scan disk so I have that. You ride sounds nice...we just did a Sunday walk and then a Sunday drive. Hugs, Andrea

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    1. Simple country pleasures, Andrea! Been too cold and windy here for walking, jogging on the rebounder isn't nearly as fun.

      I wish we could have saved my info, but the fool thing went completely blank. I'm amazed that Jamie could even get it started. Aren't we so blessed to have had such smart boys?

      HUgs
      Jane

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  7. Hello from Southwest Michigan - Recently found your blog and enjoying it as well. See you are from Michigan also. Winter has been strange here, back and forth temperatures; today in the 50's. Thank you for a great blog.

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    1. It has been very strange that's for sure. I've had to learn not to have Spring envy when I read blogs written by people that live further south. Ha! Hoping that we'll have a an early Spring this year. Glad you stopped by!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  8. What a great week! I love all your recipes -that bundt cake looks so real. I haven't really looked a the fish prices. I'll be sure to do that now. What a haul on finding bottles. There is a lady that lives by us that gets out very early and manages to collect all the bottles. I think she needs it more than I do so I can't be jealous. Have a great day.

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    1. Sometimes I like to bake just to have the smell in the house, Vickie, so this cake fills the bill and doesn't go to my waistline. Ha!

      I'm amazed that we collected so many bottles, there's only about two hundred residents up here this time of year. It helps that it's been windy, I think a lot of them blow out of the recycle bins. In the bigger cities I see a lot of homeless people collecting bottles. I always make sure to place mine in a prominent spot so they are easy for them to find when I'm out and about.

      Hugs
      Jane

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  9. My daughter and niece are collecting cans for an upcoming homeschool field trip (probably in 2018) that they'd like to take. My daughter said we should look for ones to pick up, but I told her that with the amount of homeless people we have around here, we most likely would not find many. When the time comes closer, we may actually let them go door to door asking for cans to return and explain to the people what their goal is. There are many people around here who would much rather help out a teenager who is going on a trip, then return the bottles themselves.

    It sounds like you had another great week with your menus and budget!

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    1. Pop can drives are popular around here too, Becky. They usually just set up a trailer in somebody's yard that lives on a main road with a big sign. People just drop them off there. Not much work to it that way. When I returned the bottle, I was the only one there, so I don't think very many people return them around here either. I don't know if I'll ever do this again, but I wanted to see how much could be made from it around here. Maybe I'll do it for an entire month, it isn't much work to pick up a can or bottle while out walking.

      HUgs
      Jane

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  10. Hello Jane! I love the table display. I've been enjoying the barn scenery on my drives too. There is just enough blue in the sky and the grass wants to look vibrant green, that with red barns is just so picturesque.
    I wanted to ask if you till your garden yearly, do nothing or maybe just pitch fork through? I've been offered many opinions, but they don't have a garden a plenty as yours.
    Glad the diet and exercise paid off, definity something I needed to read today as I wanted to put off both.
    Have a wonderful week! Hugs, Jen

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    1. Glad to hear you're enjoying your commute, Jen! Bet it's pretty in PA.

      We till our garden Spring and Fall. I know that it is not the "thing" to do, as of late, but it has worked for us and for my grandparents too. Funny how there's trends in gardening. Don't know who started the "no till" idea, but I don't see what problem there could be with it, people have been doing it for generations. I like a nice neat and orderly garden and I don't see how that could be accomplished by just turning the soil. We amend our soil with good compost before tilling. You can also plant a cover crop in the late Fall and till it under in the Spring. Our garden is just a plot of land, we don't have any raised beds. We tried them but didn't like 'em. They dried out too quickly. So, we just do things the old fashioned way and it seems to work. Never been disappointed with my garden yet, and we've been gardening since we bought our first house in 1981.

      Hugs
      Jane

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  11. Stopped in to see how your week went. Seriously that little cake is not real??--it sure looks real! LOL I do love the apron too---I have always loved aprons. Your long hair is pretty--so you decided to keep it as is or not? I keep mine short now since it is easier to care for plus we live in such a hot climate I just have to have it short in the summers here. Hope you had a good weekend---we spent ours outside digging and planting and getting flower pots ready and I got some of my seeds in. Got our lawn chairs and tables cleaned etc. I am so happy for spring!!

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    1. OK, rub it in Debbi! Ha! We had snow yesterday. No gardening for us for a couple more months. Nice to know that somewhere, someone is enjoying Spring.

      If I lived in a hot climate, I'd have short hair too. I do not do well under hot conditions. Ha! Have a great week!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  12. Joan of Crystalview CottageMarch 6, 2017 at 3:06 AM

    Good morning Jane! I so enjoyed your lovely post. The Shaker song "Simple Gifts" so aptly describes how my husband and I feel about living in our little cottage by the shores of Crystal Lake. We are surrounded by beautiful farms which thrill my heart. I really loved the paintings that you shared.
    I am stitching a new spring apron also of a cheery bright gingham. I am using an old pillow case that is a matching solid color for the pocket.
    Since I am relatively new to your blog I have been happily reading all your former posts. It is like reading a cozy novel. I am so glad that I found your blog through "Homeliving". I am struck by how many things we have in common.
    Just a couple that I discovered...My husband works in a chemical plant. We are literally counting the days until he retires. We were married in October of 1977 (40 years! this year) We lived in a MAJOR fixer upper as my husband was working and going to school. Sometimes we can't believe how he worked, went to school, and worked on the house while I was having babies, tending a large garden to help feed us, and canned and preserved what I could. Happy memories.
    I am grateful that my husband is home everynight and can only imagine how hard that was for you to live apart. My husband, Tim, does have a 100 mile round trip for work which makes for some very long days. (38 months, 13 days)
    Anyways it is fun to discover the little similarities. Thank you for sharing your life with us!

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    1. Must be the season of apron making, Joan! Gingham is such a cheerful fabric.

      We do indeed have a lot in common. Happy anniversary in advance! I'm sure you two will enjoy retirement, freedom! Your story of working on an old fixer-upper is so similar to ours. Wherever did we find the time or energy?

      Hugs
      Jane

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  13. Jane--I'm particularly interested in your apron, as I've been on an apron production binge this winter. I had to tweak my commercial pattern for the same reasons you describe: the waist ties didn't hit at the waist and made the whole thing feel awkward. I wonder if your pattern is the wrap-around type that English novels describe as an 'overall'--seems as though the homemakers in cozy English stories do their work in a 'flowered overall!'

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    1. I know exactly what type of apron you are writing about Sharon. We call it the Mrs. Hall apron after Mrs. Hall in All Creatures Great and Small. It's made by Simplicity pattern 5201, Daisy Kingdom apron. I have that pattern somewhere and when I looked it up on Ebay, yikes! they're asking a lot for it! I'm going to dig mine out as soon as it gets warm enough to putz around in the attic. The one I made is called a butcher apron. Happy sewing!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  14. Love the apron, and that faux cake is a great idea! The fish dish looks yummy! Hope this week will be as good as this one and that spring starts to bloom.

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    1. All my weeks are good, Sharon, I'm retired! Ha! Hope you are having a wonderful week, too!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  15. dear jane,
    love your table deco....i like to work with salt dough. Nice apron.
    your fish meal looks very good and makes me hungry.Thanks for the recipe.
    after a sunny and warm saturday,where i can go outside with a shirt it's today cooler and i need a warm coat.
    wish you a wonderful week,
    hugs regina

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    1. Thanks Regina! It's warmer here today, so maybe it will head your way. Did you make the pretzels?

      Hugs
      Jane

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  16. Love the border on the sheet you used for the apron. Shame it didn't work out perfectly.

    We had an insane week weather wise. 80 degrees one day and freezing a few nights later.

    Congratulations on the good report at the doctor's office!

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    1. Thanks! I think if I remove the neck straps and make them longer, the apron will fit better. At the end of the day, it's an apron, so I guess the fit doesn't matter that much. Ha!

      Hugs
      Jane

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    2. True, I suppose....but it always feels better when things fit. :-)

      I have fabric I have been saving and saving....I may just have to make an apron with it now that you've put them on my mind.

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    3. Yes, me too. So I took out the old seam ripper. Aprons are fun to make, you can go crazy with the fabric.

      Hugs
      Jane

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  17. The aprons I've been 'mass producing' could be described as a 'butcher's apron' or 'chef's apron'--I've adjusted the pattern so the ties are at waist level. I made an apron per request of a friend using her old apron as a guide--a sort of hybrid cobbler's apron with a bottom ruffle. I'm not totally pleased with my results. I had a few moments to look through the Simplicity pattern catalog at Wal Mart yesterday and was interested to note that they are offering a re-issue of several older patterns, among them Simplicity 4282--which I've ordered from ebay! The area Mennonite shops offer aprons made with a bib and full pleated or gathered 'skirt'--quite enveloping, but they use a poly/cotton 'calico' sold locally--rather flimsy and none of the seams neatly finished. Priced at $14.50.

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    1. I noticed that the pattern companies re-issue patterns a lot. Guess it's a matter of there's nothing new under the sun. I've made one of those bib style aprons before without using a pattern; they're just two rectangles, one for the skirt and one for the bib, and waist ties, and side of the bib ties.

      I've noticed that a lot of the Amish made things are on the flimsy side. I know they have a reputation for workmanship, but to be honest, I don't see it.There's one gal here that makes rag rugs and I so want to pull her aside and tell her if she made them in more pleasing colors and out of cotton instead of polyester, he'd have much more success. It must be hard when you are trying to make a living selling home decor and haven't any clue what the trends are.

      Hugs
      Jane

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  18. Love that apron, Jane!
    My friends all seem to have those faux cakes or pies..or yummy smelling candles that smell like sugar cookies or some other treat..I get too hungry for the sweets whenever I'm around them though, so I don't dare have any around my own home.
    It was in the low fifties today, but is supposed to get into the twenties by the weekend..Gotta love March in Michigan with all its variety! lol

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    1. I know, Lisa! Today I was out with just a sweater and by 6 in the evening I needed my down coat to go for a walk. Hope we get an actually Spring soon, but I won't expect it until May!

      HUgs
      Jane

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  19. Hi Jane! I liked your table vignette idea. It got "my wheels turning" of a few things I could do the same with.

    Completely off track here, but I have something I found humorous that I thought I'd share. I overheard a conversation between two women at work this morning. They weren't young, one was in her late 40's and the other in her middle 50's. They were talking about a grocery ad one of them had and were wondering why grocery stores still sold smaller potatoes. They felt the larger ones could be baked (in the microwave, no oven was mentioned) but the smaller ones were completely useless and would probably rot before they could be sold for anything which had to be the reason they were on sale. I immediately thought of all the different ways I use potatoes and the bag of smaller potatoes I currently have in my garage. I guess there are a lot of people who just don't cook anymore! Have a good rest of your week. -Sharon

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    1. I copied it from a catalog, Sharon. Of course by the time I was finished decorating, it didn't look anything like the picture, but I love getting ideas from catalogs.

      It's a sad state of affairs when the only purpose people can think of for a potato is to zap it in the microwave. Ran and I practically lived on potatoes the first year of our marriage. Remind me that I haven't had any potato pancakes in a good long while. Thanks for reminding me! Hope the remainder of your week is great too!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  20. Hi Jane!
    Now, that's an adorable spice cake. I may have to make one if I can locate a cute mold. Love the apron, too. I'm glad you got a good report of the doctor. And I agree, diet and exercise matter a lot. I wish I had more willpower to resist things not good for a body, but I do get a lot of exercise.
    Hope you have a great rest of the week!
    Toni

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    1. It was a good excuse to use the antique Turk's head mold I have, Toni. The only other time it gets use is for fruitcake. I think we all wish we had more willpower! Ha!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  21. As soon as I read about your decorative only Bundt Cake I had visions of all the males in my family, from the 57 year old down to the 3 year old, trying to eat it. Made me laugh! ;)

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