HOMEMADE

Everything is homemade this time of year, so let’s celebrate! 🎃 Because really, it’s one of the most amazing and wonderful things that make us human … our creativity! All hygge, all the time! MUSICA? 

So what’s been keeping me busy at home? I’ve been working on new embroidery kits. I want a large, old-fashioned HOME SWEET HOME cross-stitch, and thought the words should be stacked, and decided to wrap embroidered flowers around the first ‘H’ and the last ‘E’ … so first I drew them in pencil  . . .Here are the embroidered letters so far . . . I think its going to be cute. I’m going to make a pillow out of it to match my blue kitchen! I’ll let you know when it’s done.  In the meantime some of our 

. . . like this one, have arrived at the Studio! The Redwork Ornament Kit is here! The little house with the heart is already hanging in my kitchen! These ornaments take no time at all to make, so simple!

And “Tea Party,” a counted cross-stitch kit has also arrived!A nice way to spend the evening, light some candles, put on a good old movie or listen to some good old musica and sew something up for the holidays. Creativity is the best! There are no better words to say than “I made that!”
And what else? . . . Oh yes, Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams has gone in for a second printing . . . the printer just sent me all of this ~ to approve color, paper, and layouts ~ so that’s been keeping me busy too. The only difference in the new printing is that we fixed some spelling and punctuation mistakes 😜 (better late than never), and added a banner to the cover that says, “New York Times Best Seller” (my first and only on that august list, so I want everyone to know it)!

The new printing won’t be in until February (if all goes as planned), but we saved back a few signed copies for our Blog and Facebook Girlfriends, just in cases you need them for gifts. 💞

Joe and I are still in the throes of planning our trip to England and Ireland . . . we think and talk about it a LOT, every day ~ we’ve picked out some houses we like (to rent!). I keep thinking about the baby lambs we will see there in the spring and have begun to paint them . . . because I’m going to keep a diary while we are there, and paint a new book of this trip when we get home! That’s why we’re taking such care to plan interesting places we want to take YOU!  Before we know it, it will be time to GO!And don’t forget . . . May 11!

My shadow helps me paint … there’s always room on my art table for a kitty. My theory is that cat hairs in watercolor add to the homemade quality and make every page more valuable!

See this? This is an old painting of the village of Lower Slaughter in the Cotswolds where we will be staying for two wonderful weeks. This painting was done in 1903, but I’m pretty sure this town hasn’t changed a bit. The stone cottage we’ve rented is one house down the narrow little road on the left! You can almost see it! It’s across from the Old Mill, and walking distance to pretty much everywhere. When we get there, I’m going to stand right here, and take this exact same photo as it is today. Hopefully there will be descendants of these very ducks waiting for me.  I can’t wait!

And here’s what else I was doing one cold, late-fall, sunny morning when we got back from our walk ~ making crisp HEART-SHAPED WAFFLES.  

They’re so quick to make from scratch, and so delicious and festive and homey. I put a recipe for them in my LOVE Book (p.41) … but recently I found the most perfect waffle iron, not electric! and wanted to show you because there will be many times in the months to come where heart-shaped waffles will be the perfect thing. This time I used a girlfriend-approved gluten-free waffle recipe made with crunchy cornmeal . . . so here we go! First, into your mixing bowl goes 3/4 c. medium-grind cornmeal. (Don’t worry I’ll put the full recipe at the bottom of this post.)

. . . then add the same amount of gluten-free all-purpose flour. I got mine from King Arthur Flour ~ measure for measure, and completely interchangeable for “real” flour.

Whisk in baking soda and baking powder   . . .

add cinnamon and nutmeg . . .

And a tiny bit of sugar . . . and whisk all dry ingredients together well.

Mix a cup of buttermilk with two beaten eggs . . .

Melt two TB of butter over low heat . . .

Add the buttermilk-egg mixture to the dry ingredients along with the melted butter, and whisk until well blended. It’s supposed to be thick.

And here’s what makes it fun. You know whenever I get something I love I try to carry it in our web store? Well, this pan makes these waffles so easy ~ all you do is pour the batter into one side of the pre-warmed pan. (It’s coated so nothing sticks, although I also spray it lightly with vegetable oil~ the top separates from the bottom for easy cleaning). And something I didn’t do, because this was my first time using this pan, I didn’t take a spatula and spread the batter evenly. But you can and should. The first time you use this pan, it seems like you might have to hurry . . . but you don’t, you have all the time in the world, because you can regulate the heat under it. And the handle doesn’t get hot!

You just fill one side of the pan with batter, put the lid down, and wait a few minutes while it cooks over medium-high heat. And yes, you can peek! And if it’s going too fast, pull it off the heat, or lower it . . . and yes, it works with an electric stove too.

And while I was waiting the few minutes for it to cook, just outside my kitchen window  . . .

… a squirrel was having his breakfast too!

He saw me see him! Here’s where he tried to decide if I was real, and if I was, how actually close was I? He finally figured it all out, and went right back to stuffing his face, confident of the double-glass that separated us, oblivious to me and my camera!

I turned the waffle maker over, cooked a bit longer to brown the other side, and there they were! You can lift the lid and put it back down until they are the crispness you desire. You can see that if I had spread the batter better, the hearts would have been perfect! But perfect?

Joe thought they were perfect, buttered and syruped. And that’s all that mattered.

Here’s the pan … it’s very thin and can even go into the dishwasher. Way better than the old electric waffle irons!

When we sell them in our store, we include the recipe card above, with the original recipe. Hope you get a chance to try them! (By the way, the recipes work in any shape waffle iron!) Next time I’m going to add a little bit more milk, and put in 1/4 c. cocoa powder and make chocolate waffles!
And I’m  sure you are all fully aware, next Thursday is

A L R E A D Y ? ? ?  Yes!

And for me, first thing I have to do is get the bread for My Grandma’s Turkey Stuffing. It has to be the cheap kind, forget about any fancy “healthy” bread, these soft old-fashioned loaves I used to get my baloney sandwiches on are what makes the perfect Grandma-approved stuffing texture. 🍁

This recipe is on page 106 of the original Heart of the Home, on page 112 of the 30th Anniversary Edition, on page 64 of my Autumn book, and I think it might even be in my Christmas book ~ BUT if you don’t have those books, here’s the How-To . . .

My mom made this dressing every Thanksgiving of my growing-up life, and I’ve made it every year from the time I was able . . . my grandma learned the recipe from her mom . . .  it’s the way I’ve kept my mom and Grandma close every Thanksgiving.  The butter and sage fill our kitchen with fragrant memories of home. It taught me that you can do that for people, with foods and smells of their childhood, you can take your loved ones back in time. If you have someone new coming for Thanksgiving this year, and they want to bring something, ask them to bring the food of their childhood. 🍲

So onto the ironing board goes the bread tomorrow because it must air-dry for three days! Can’t dry it in the oven because, like everything that matters, this luv-lee recipe won’t be hurried. ⏰
And I’ve already made the first half of the gravy. This little trick for added abundance is such a huge help, because you can never have too much gravy! I’ll make my cranberry sauce on Wednesday so it will be icy cold . . .

The thing I love about this recipe, besides that it’s the most delicious I’ve ever tasted . . .

. . . is the color! Isn’t it pretty? Very gorgeous on a mostly brown Thanksgiving plate. Here’s the recipe . . .

Could not be easier!Another colorful thing for your table, especially if you are feeding children or even the young-at-heart, is my layered Jell-O … festive on the table, and absolutely delicious too … it’s not too sweet ~ it’s tempered with sour cream, adds a wonderful lightness to an otherwise heavy meal, and you can find it on page 62 of my first book, Heart of the Home.

I’m trying to decide my Thanksgiving table settings . . . which plates do you like? I have these two vintage designs from Vernon Kilns … that one ⬆️ is called “Chintz” ~

This one is called “Delores” ~ I mix and match both designs when I use these two.

OR, should I use these?  This is the Johnson Brothers “Windsor Ware” I used for our waffles ~ I like the purple with other fall colors . . . time for decisions! It’s all coming together, slowly but surely, for my favorite holiday! I love tradition ~ And this one, all about counting our blessings, is even older than our country.Touch hands, touch hands with those who stay . . . 🍂 Be sure and take you and yours on a walk in nature for a breath of fresh air on the otherwise soul-eating Black Friday (still trying to figure out who’s idea this was, and I think I know 🤑) and make it a tradition in keeping with the word “Thanksgiving.” Maybe then it will become Green Friday. 💞

Here’s my darling Jack. Who watched the entire waffle-making experiment from the kitchen table and never changed this expression!  But I read everything I need to know in those green eyes. We rub our foreheads together, and there’s information transfer. 💓

Jon, from England, who works for the manufacturer of our bone china cups, came to the Island to visit us yesterday. Joe asked him, “Would you like a cup of coffee, or tea?” And Jon said, “Yes, please, coffee.”  I sat in front of the fire talking to Jon ~ Joe went to make coffee and when he came back he brought this tray for us! So pretty! I jumped up and said, “Don’t touch that, let me get my camera!” Joe. What a guy. I’m reminded every day. Blessing counting!

With all my L O V E …. XOXO 

H E A R T  –  S H A P E D ,   G L U T E N  –  F R E E ,   C O R N    W A F F L E S 

  • 3/4 c. gluten-free all purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. med. grind cornmeal
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 c. milk or buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter

Lightly spray your waffle iron with vegetable oil, and preheat it. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter. Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk eggs well, whisk in buttermilk. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients along with melted butter and whisk until well mixed.  Use a measuring cup to pour batter into the waffle maker, filling each heart, spreading the batter to get into all the holes. Close waffle maker, cook for a few minutes, turn the pan over, cook for a bit longer. Check for color, and cook until browned and crisp. They pop right out of the pan when you are ready. Keep warm in the oven while you make more, or serve immediately, hot with butter and heated maple syrup, powdered sugar, or fresh fruit. If you’d like chocolate waffles, add 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder to dry ingredients, and 1 TB additional milk. ❣️

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ADORABLE CHILDREN, EXCELLENT TEACHER

I just got the most wonderful thing in the mail from some very adorable children and their very excellent teacher! I couldn’t wait to show you!  MUSICA . It’s all about Remembrance Day, which I wrote about last week …. my mail is proof that you just never know who might be checking in!  ❤️❤️❤️ Look at this! ⬇️

I knew it would be special when I saw the envelope! Look at the return address! “Mrs. O’Brien’s 4th Grade Class,” all the way on the other side of the country, from Wolf Creek Oregon, and I couldn’t wait to open it. But I knew I should be careful!

I turned it over, and saw this. Poppies! Someone made me something wonderful. It wasn’t even light yet when I was opening this, I was still in my jammies, and it was like Christmas!

The note from Mrs. O’Brien was wonderful and explained everything … it’s from Kari, one of our Girlfriends!

She and her students had read the Remembrance post, and then they all wrote me illustrated letters and put them in a book! Kari said most of the kids live in “deep canyons and forests of Southern Oregon” (doesn’t it sound magical?) and they go to Sunny Wolf School where Mrs. O’Brien teaches. I thought I would just photograph the whole book to share with you. 💞

I have to tell you, I cried all the way through this book, it is so beautiful.💞

The children are so talented!!!

That book was like a bouquet of letters!

I wonder if they know how creative they are? Oh yes!

I hope they are always brave and paint and color and draw and write about the things they love.

Because when they share their hearts through their hard work, they make a big difference in the world.

And they tell stories . . . their own stories, and other people’s stories . . .

And they keep important memories alive for everyone!

They are lucky to have a teacher like Mrs. O’Brien… I remember my 4th grade teacher, he had a funny name, Mr. Fishbacher, but I loved him.  He taught me a lot. He liked my handwriting too! More MUSICA? (This song was written in 1917! About WWI, the war that brought us Armistice Day.)

This was my handwriting when I was in Mr. Fishbacher’s class!  Looks a lot like Mrs. O’Brien’s kids!

And I loved to draw flowers in my class too!

Wonderful teachers are never forgotten, especially ones that talk about poppies and Armistice day and make books and teach about our beautiful world . . . the kids are reading a book called A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck ~ Mrs. O’Brien says it’s “fun, funny, true-to-history and set in 1937!” Lucky Kids! So good to read interesting books in a group and talk about it and hear what everyone thinks!

Students are no good without a teacher, and a teacher is no good without her students! 

I think they all have beautiful handwriting . . . see how it’s different for everyone? As many different noses as there are in the world, that’s how many different kinds of handwriting there are. Forming letters is just like drawing a flower. 🌺 You can make them all different ways! You can look at the way someone else makes their letters, and copy them! It’s fun!

And no one draws the poppy flowers quite the same. Which makes each of these kids a 100% original person who can hear the very same story, then tell what they learned, each in a very different 100% original way. 🌺

I bet they went home and told their families about Armistice Day!

As the poppies in this picture got further away, they got smaller, and lighter and some became hearts. Good job!

They learned that “people fight for freedom in the war” . . . and that’s why we remember them and are grateful to them forever . . . and one way we show our gratitude and honor the people who died is working hard to make sure war never happens again.💖

B  L E  S  S  I  N  G  S

They learned that they like “peace instead of war “. . . because then everyone stays alive and at home, painting pictures, planting gardens, making cookies, and planning secret presents for the people they love . . .

for their moms or dads or brothers or sisters or grandmas, for their best friends . . . or even for their teachers!

Learning about Armistice Day (which we call Veteran’s Day now) is important, because if we know about our history, then we know better about what to do in the future to make a better world.

And tomorrow is the day . . . The 11th month, the 11th day, the 11th hour, and 2017 is the 100 year anniversary of when America went to war in Europe.🇺🇸 We will be quiet and say a prayer for the souls that gave so much, in America, England, and Canada, and all over the world. And in my prayer, I will add blessings for the good kids at Sunny Wolf School. 💖

You made my day!And look, one more thing so I will never forget . . .

They made me a great big poppy!!!  I ‘m wearing it right now! I love it! And when anyone asks me where I got it, I will say, from the 4th grade class at Sunny Wolf School!

If you kids are reading this, I just want to tell you what a nice thing you did!  I think you are very special, creative, smart little people. Don’t grow up too fast! You’re in charge of that! Go nice and slow . . .

And thank you for helping me and everyone on my blog “Remember.”

Blessings on you all, Thank you Mrs. O’Brien and all your lovely students, be good to each other. XOXO

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