Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Best Ever Sugar Cookies

Its been a long time since I've shared a recipe and now that fall has arrived in all of its glory, I have found myself overcome with the urge to bake, so you my dear readers, get recipes.

Through the years, these leaf cookies have become a family tradition. When the first day of fall arrives, these cookies are baking. A basic sugar cookie underneath, and soon transformed by fall colored sprinkles, these are one of the ways we welcome fall in our family. I don't even remember how many years I have been making these, but I should warn you that between the cookie dough and the frosting, there is enough sugar to keep small children bouncing off the wall for a very long time.
I once made 200 of these in the shape of bears for the school carnival. We let the kids frost and decorate them and the booth was a huge hit. It was the top money maker that year, but they never had it again because no one wanted to volunteer to make that many cookies! I don't blame them - that was A LOT of cookies!

Sugar Cookies

3/4 C butter
1 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
2 3/4 C flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

*In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. At low speed, gradually beat flour mixture into butter and shortening. Beat well. I then roll out the dough between waxed paper and freeze it. Freezing the dough makes it very easy to cut out the cookies and transfer them to a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.

Wilton Frosting
1/2 C shortening
1/2 C butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
4 C powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk

*Cream butter and shortening. Add vanilla, Gradually add sugar one cup at a time. Add milk until desired consistancy is reached. This freezes well. Makes 3 cups.
So, if you happen to be stopping by on the first day of Autumn, you can be assured these will be waiting for you. The day after - not so much!

Monday, September 15, 2008

New Addiction!

I have finally come up for air and I have a confession.
No I did not abduct a kitten from the Humane Society -that was Cottonpicker.
No, I did not strip in the barn -that was Ranchwife.

hmmm...seems as if I have surrounded myself with mischief-makers!

My confession is quite blase in comparison.

I am addicted to...


Yesterday I completed the top for the quilt I am making my daughter.

In progress:

My assistant:

So I guess I may just be putting the cart in front of the horse since I haven't actually QUILTED it yet, but close enough.

I am so excited! We bought the horse material 3 years ago and I made curtains for the huge windows in her room. Then I bought more fabric. Let's make a quilt to match.

Forward 3 years later... no quilt.

Then, suddenly...

I felt a twinge.

A stirring.

A desire.

A longing to make a quilt.

So here is the completed top:

Oh my! Ranchwife, you have created a monster! My mother-in-law's quilts have crawled into my dreams and uncovered the quilter within.

It's a conspiracy!

How will I feed my family if I am sitting in front of the sewing machine?

Will they forever be destined to wear dirty clothes because I am unable to walk away from the cutting mat long enough to wash laundry?

Will I have to sell all of my belongings in order to afford the colorful bolts of fabric that line the quilting shop walls and loudly call out to me, "pick me...and me...and me...and!"


I only wish someone had warned me or just given me a hint of how I could be completely sucked into something as simple as a quilt.

My mother-in-law is a quilter and so I have been surrounded by her fabulous creations for over 21 years. I treasure the quilts she has given us. So many of my children's memories, and precious pieces of their childhood, are wrapped up in those quilts.

This one adorned our bed for years when we were married.

This one wrapped a newborn in warmth on a cold morning.

This one soothed away the toddler tears.

This one was dragged across the floor and brought to Mommy and Daddy's bed when a bad dream invaded the sweet slumber of the 4 yr old.

This one was made into a fort that protected its inhabitants from the indian tribes that roamed the living room.

This one was perfect to huddle beneath and dive into the adventures of "Summer of the Monkeys" by the light of a flashlight until Mommy was hoarse.

This one calmed an upset stomach when it was tucked around the 10 yr old.

This one warmed the cold noses on a snowy day after building the snowman.

Oh my! So much more than fabric and thread is woven into our treasured quilts. I have one quilt that was made by my husband's grandmother. It is tucked away in my cedar chest, but I often glance at it and wonder what lovely stories it holds. How I wish that I could sit at her feet and listen to the tales as she pieced that quilt.

Long after grandpa's shirt had been worn through at the elbows...it has found a new home.
Long after granny's apron has been tucked into a corner after baking hundreds of pies...it has a new place of honor.
Long after the baby has outgrown the hand me downs from her mother...it has been repurposed.

Seems to me that quilters are the pioneers of recycling. After the useful items were fixed, patched, repaired, and mended; they were united into these pieces of history and they continue to serve a new purpose that will bless and warm new generations to come.

How very lucky for us!

Alas, I have been sucked in by the myriad of beautiful bolts that stand in precision at the quilt shops. Just one more print...

Oh those quilt shops are dangerous lairs. I have already been threatened. Not so long ago I heard, "Step away from the browns!" I looked up and who did I see...none other than the very person who sucked me into this addiction in the first place! Oh, Ranchwife, how could you?

After all, this is all your fault!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Welcome Fall!

It seems as if fall is here to stay and I'm kicking it off with the season's first pot of Taco Soup! The cool, damp, breezy day just seems to call for this warm, hearty fare. The day would be pretty darn close to perfect if it did not include a trip into town, but I don't think the 'woe is me' attitude will get me out of it. However, all is well because I am ready to welcome the change in seasons. Unlike my dear friend, who has been celebrating fall since June and is now probably ready to herald in Christmas (just kidding L!), I am just now breaking out the candles and the fall wreath (which is my only fall decoration). Don't hyperventilate L - I'll make a quick trip to Hobby Lobby and scout out the clearance aisle. Did you leave me anything to choose from?

There is something very comforting about the arrival of fall. I love the crisp nip in the air first thing in the morning. I sigh deeply as I pull up the flannel quilt from the bottom of the bed and breath in the cool night air that drifts from the open windows before dawn. The smell of fresh baked apple oatmeal beckons to me from the warm kitchen, and convinces me to leave the comfort of my bed. I love pulling out the old, soft flannel shirt that was once DH's, but that I confiscated years ago. Yep, no doubt about it, I LOVE Autumn.

This morning I raced the gravel trucks back to the house - they beat me. We were having 3 loads delivered to spread here at headquarters plus 1 load of base. So in between working with the colts, the gravel was dumped and now DH is spending the remainder of his morning on the tractor, distributing the piles between the barn and the house. The recent rains have washed away what's left of the last gravel and now things get down right sloppy when we get a shower.

The rains have been a huge blessing. Even if we do get the wet, cold winter I've been hearing we're in for, we shouldn't have to spend all of our time feeding. The pastures are thick with waving grass and we're in excellent shape for winter. However, I hope we're in for a good, long fall before winter steps in.

I was all ready to expound on our newest home improvement this morning, but I got so excited about welcoming autumn that I lost my train of thought. Come to think of it, that happens on a regular basis. So home improvement, episode 1, will have to wait for another day.

As for now, my trip to town is on the front burner. My list is long - sigh, but the thought that I will have 7 days at home after today comforts me. The only reason I want to leave the dirt road this next week is if a possible trip to a quilt store might be in the works.

I always thought that the cooler temps of fall felt like quilting weather, but I never quilted. However, if I get the top of my first quilt finished in the next few days, I will be able to quilt during quilting weather! I've never even made a quilt and here I am with a long list of projects I want to quilt. M, I think you just may have created a monster.

Any takers on that quilting trip?!
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