Sunday, September 27, 2009


Several months ago, my friend Julia called and asked me to whip up a few pillowcase dresses for a couple of babies-on-the-way. Two were completed and delivered forward to last week and the third of four was eeked out.

I delivered it to her front door while she was at work:

yard 001

I never get to see Julia anymore. Last year at this time we were up to our ears in half-marathon training. The smartest thing that I did during that grueling training program was to find someone to run with who could make me laugh for hours at a time to keep my mind off of my legs and my lungs and my dripping sweat and my aches and my pains and my shin splints and the fact that I still had hours to go! That was Julia.

In addition to the Saturday morning run belly-laughs, she has also given me several of my best recipes. As a reward for all of the yardwork I did today, I made a version of her Cracker Crunch. Here is my interpretation:

Cracker Crunch (my way)

Saltine crackers
Thick caramel sauce (Not in a squeeze bottle, in a jar. MUST be thick)
Dipping Chocolate (I find it in the produce section next to the strawberries)
Sea Salt (It's always in my salt grinder)

Butter the bottom of a glass baking dish. Layer with saltines. Heat caramel sauce in the microwave until pourable. Spread enough caramel sauce to cover the layer of crackers. Add another layer of both crackers and caramel. Top with one more layer of crackers. Heat the chocolate in the microwave according to package directions. Pour over top layer of crackers and sprinkle with sea salt (Just do it. It's not that weird.)
Chill in the fridge until chocolate and caramel have hardened. Cut into pieces.

In Julia's recipe she makes her caramel on the stove with butter and sugar. Other similar recipes melt chocolate and butter (or lard) together instead of using the dipping chocolate. In case you don't know, it is a scientific fact that if you don't add the lard yourself, then it's not really in there. Really, it's a fact.

The dipping chocolate is also all I used to make these chocolate cups for ice cream (or pudding) sundaes.

I promised Anna Jane and Wilson that I would not eat all of the cracker crunch tonight, and that they could have some in the morning. Isn't it cute how gullible they are?

Dirty Work

If you have read my profile (to the right), you know that I live in a Boxwood Jungle. If you have visited my house, you really know that I live in a Boxwood Jungle. Not an exaggeration. We have hundreds (yes, hundreds) of large English Boxwoods in our yard. They are beautiful, but they are not for us. Our kids need grass to run in and I need to not be surrounded by spiders every time I walk down the sidewalk.

We have given away lots to family members. I sold 15 on craigslist. We tried living with them. In the end (which turned out to be today), they were piled next to the street to await yard-waste pick-up day. Dave and I are painfully aware how valuable and beautiful these plants are. But we desperately need a place to play tee-ball and run around and have a picnic. So the plants had to go. And if any of you leave a comment about how you wish you had known that we had so many boxwoods to share, because you would have loved to have some, I will hit you over the head with this blog.

Here is somewhat of a before photo of the sidewalk from the front door to the driveway:

yard 027

I say somewhat of a before photo because Dave and I did a lot of clearing out before today, so the actual before photo was even more dramatically filled with plants.

Everyone worked really hard today...

yard 034

yard 040

yard 033

Somehow the photos of the dirty, sweaty adults are not as charming. We'll leave those out.

Here is a breakdown of what the day consisted of:
  • 1 toad
  • 1 wooly worm
  • 1 snake (which became two after being accidentally chopped in half)
  • 1 sprained wrist
  • 2 buckets of KFC
  • 1 bazillion yellow jackets
  • 5 bazillion boxwoods
  • 3 filthy kids
  • 2 generous grandparents
  • 2 exhausted but eternally grateful parents

And finally, one yard with tee-ball potential...

yard 027 yard 043

yard 028 yard 041

We obviously have a lot to do to make the yard what we want it to be, but at least we're on our way!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Staying Here Food

Tomorrow, my mom and I are going to the beach.

Yes, that sentence is correct. No typos. No, the sentence was not supposed to be Tomorrow, my mom and my dad and Dave and Anna Jane and Wilson and Henry and I are going to the beach.

Just me and my mom. I've never done this. I've never been away from all three kids for the weekend. I've never been away from Henry at all.

Yes, the guilt starts at my toes and fills me up to my shoulders. But there is just enough room left to squeeze in some high quality excitement.

There will be no rest, I'm sure...I'm taking my sewing machine. And a book. But it's supposed to rain. And the rain at the beach always means shopping. Not for me, for the kids. There will definitely be good food.

The aforementioned guilt has led to an evening of cooking for the stay-at-homers. I picked two recipes that the fam loves. I don't make them often because I'm not crazy about eggs or sausage, and though I love me some cream cheese, I try not to eat the calorific goo.

Here is the recipe for Fiesta Roll Ups, which is one of Dave's favorites. They are pretty good for appetizers or for a meal.

Fiesta Roll Ups
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
8oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives
10 inch flour tortillas

Combine the black beans, cream cheese, sour cream, seasoned salt and garlic salt in a bowl and mix with a hand held mixer at medium speed until blended. Stir in the Monterey Jack cheese, red onion and green olives. Spread the bean mixture over 1 side of each of the tortillas, roll to enclose the filling. Chill, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for 2 hours. If serving as appetizers, cut into 3/4 inch slices.

I rolled up a couple of 6 inch tortillas as well for tomorrow's lunch boxes.

The next recipe is for Carolyn's Egg Casserole. Even though I don't love sausage and eggs, this is really yummy. We usually eat it on Christmas morning.

Egg Casserole
1 lb sausage (I use Neese's)
2 slices bread
1 cup shredded cheese
6 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard

Crumble sausage in skillet and brown. Drain well. Tear bread into 1/2" cubes and spread in buttered pyrex dish. Top with sausage and cheese. Combine eggs, milk and seasoning. Beat well and pour over cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake the next morning at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

It's good for dinner as well.

I love love love cookbooks. A cookbook is my favorite thing to receive as a gift. Whenever I find a recipe that I love or the family loves, I copy it into my recipe book.

Carolyn gave me this book when I bought my first house. The inscription reads:

Your first house---and your first oven and stove. I hope this will remind you of us and all the meals we have shared.
We love you and wish you the best!
Gil, Carolyn, Nikki and Charlie
July 23, 2001

On the plane to Austria, Carolyn wrote by hand all of her favorite recipes in the book. I started out with a book full of great meals and appetizers and desserts and have been adding to it ever since. My favorite part about the book is where I write the source of the recipe. Most of the recipes that make it to the book are from friends that have shared the recipe of something that they made and I loved. When I use those recipes I think of the friend that shared them and the occasion that we got together.

I always share my recipes. I have come this close to printing them out and placing them by the serving dish at parties. I am often asked to write them down at the very moment someone decides that whatever they are eating is yummy enough to make at home.

Do you have a favorite recipe? Do you share? I would love to compile a potluck of readers' favorite recipes. You can email your recipe to me and I will post them all to share. Submit your best recipe by October 1st and we will have a great collection to fill our recipe books with. Email the recipe to me at I will compile and send recipes to everyone who participates, so make sure to send it through email instead of posting as a comment.

I know what my best recipe is....stay tuned!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sundae Pincushions

My children love to play with my straight pins. Henry tries to put them in his mouth since he watches me sew and I hold them between my lips for easy-access. I think I have had the classic tomato pin cushions before, but instead of appreciating their vintage/classic appeal, I just saw them as dated and tired. I don't feel that way anymore, but as far as pincushions go, I would prefer one with a little more character.

These work in the character department.

But what I really want for a pincushion is this:

I love this etsy seller, TheDailyPincushion. I have never bought anything from etsy (I know, I know, shame on me). If I could choose just one thing, a pincushion from their shop would be my choice. No brainer.

And while I think that the pincushions are totally worth their slightly high price tag, I don't think I could spend that much money on one for myself.

I've been browsing blogs, looking for cute pincushions to inspire me. I found a couple, but none that made me want to stop what I was doing and pick out fabric. Tonight we made ice cream sundaes and...problem solved!!

I know it doesn't make any will.

I have adorable milk-glass-looking sundae dishes.

pincushion 014

I think they are adorable, but ice cream definitely tastes better out of the carton. And I don't have enough dishes for our family, let alone enough for company. The kids have eaten dessert out of them before, but they don't care a thing about presentation.

I have seen people stuffing little fabric-covered tufts of cotton into bottle tops lately...repurposing I guess. I took the same idea and turned my ice cream dishes into my new pincushions!

I traced a plate onto a piece of fabric and cut it out.

pincushion 016

Then I stitched around the outside of the circle with loose stitches for gathering.

pincushion 017

I stuffed with batting and pulled the thread to enclose it and form a ball.

pincushion 023

I put a little extra batting in the bottom of the ice cream dish and hot-glued the cushion in.

pincushion 026

If Henry wasn't confused enough about putting straight pins in his mouth, he will certainly be mixed up when he sees them in the ice cream dishes!

By the way, ice cream (or pudding) tastes pretty good when eaten out of these little chocolate cups as well.

pincushion 009

Happy Sundae!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Henry Says...

Follow us. Become a follower of classiccampbell. This will let you receive updates without having to check the blog every day. Not that I don't strongly encourage you to visit every day, but I'd also like a couple more followers!

Henry also says that black icing off of a ladybug birthday cake is delicious.

applique 015

Friday, September 11, 2009

My Favorite Dress

I have a favorite pattern that I would like to share. This makes a quick and easy girl's dress. It takes an afternoon, and most of the time is spent putting in elastic.

dress 004

For some reason, when I browse patterns I am always drawn to the toddler or baby patterns. Since Anna Jane is quite thin, all I have to do is add to the length and the dress always fits.

The first time I used this pattern, it was for this dress that Anna Jane wore to the party of the year...

wiz 079

This is one of my favorite fabrics. I found another great fabric to make a second dress. I liked it so much that after I cut it out and fell head-over-heels in love with it, I decided to put down my pins and drive to Knit One Smock Too to buy some for myself. Which was kind of a joke. I've never made clothes for myself. Except one Amy Butler dress. Which someone else finished for me.

I have a favorite tank that I bought to wear under cardigans. It is a little blousy, which I definitely like. I decided that the fabric would look great under a cardigan, or on it's own during the summer time. Well, it turned out that they didn't have the fabric. But they had this other Moda print that looked just as fabulous.

I traced the top and added a seam allowance. And looky here...

sew 001

I'm a little impressed with myself. Just a little.

I eventually picked the pins back up (about a week later) and finished Anna Jane's dress.

dress 003

I would make her one for every day of the week if I could. I might do it. It would be a super-comfy nightgown if made with a soft flannel...

I do want to point out the difference between the two little girl models wearing the same dress on the pattern. I can understand the appeal of a cute little 40's print or a soft muted patterned fabric. But I think the fabrics used on the cover of the pattern are pretty dismal. I'm so glad I used some quality fabrics to bring life to this dress. The right fabric for a project is so important. It can make the world a prettier place.

It can also make an ironing board a prettier place...

applique 005

It's no competition for the rockin' linoleum floors though!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I Heart April Barnum

It's not important that it's 10:30 at night. It's not important that I just got home for the day. Nor is it important that I haven't eaten dinner, packed the kids lunches for tomorrow or picked out their school clothes. The most important thing that I did today was check the mail. About 20 minutes ago. On top of the mailbox there was a small brown package, ready for the rain, a fast car, or a squirrel to knock it off.

gift 002

I had no idea what it was. I haven't ordered anything. And then I was from my gift-swap that I entered on My Mama Made It. So I got really excited and ran inside to rip it open.

gift 005

So here I am. Eating my apple cinnamon Bagel-fuls (yummy by the way), ridiculously snapping pictures of my package, typing furiously as if anyone needs this information tonight, and beaming at my good fortune for signing up for the gift exchange below April Barnum.

Look what I have to play with...

gift 006

All of this in that tee-tiny little box. Oh, the joy it brought!!

Thank you April Barnum! You are my newest favorite sewing friend. I will pray for you and your new adventures on your beautiful life.

Be truly glad. There is wonderous joy ahead! I Peter 1:6

Monday, September 7, 2009

Marshmallow Surprise Cookies

I received a message from a friend the other day that said that she and her daughter have enjoyed the recipes that she finds that was all the motivation I needed to pull out the cocoa, the stools, and the kids.

I was clearing out some magazines, which is a major undertaking for me. I have always wanted to save every magazine I have ever bought or received in the mail. I'm always afraid that I will through away some great idea or beautiful picture or inspiring article and regret it for the rest of my life. The most valuable of my magazines are my Cottage Livings (no longer in print. poo.). The second most valuable are my Martha Stewarts (I can't believe I just put Martha in second place. What is the world coming to?). Years ago they published a Martha Stewart Baby and a Martha Stewart Kids publication. At that time I had no kids, but I still bought each magazine. She could put her name on encyclopedias and I would buy them all.

dress 002

I thumbed through a couple of the Kids magazines this afternoon and tore out the pages that I wanted to save. The rest went into the recycle bin. Poo again. I found a cute project for the afternoon with a couple of modifications.

The recipe calls for made-from-scratch chocolate cookies with a marshmallow squished in the middle, hidden by a chocolate frosting. I scratched the made-from-scratch part. My kids aren't picky. I picked up a box of cake mix and made the cookies while the kids cut large marshmallows in half.

cookies 005

Ignore the table behind Anna Jane. It's an optical illusion. In real life it is spotless.

cookies 001

There hasn't been a lot of scissor practice around here since the drama.

To make cookies from a cake mix, use one box of cake mix (I used fudge chocolate), one stick of softened butter, two eggs and 2 Tbs of water. Mix thoroughly and drop onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 8 minutes.

Remove from the oven and have the kids smoosh 1/2 of a large marshmallow into the middle of each cookie.

cookies 010

Stick the marshmallow-topped cookies back in the oven for 2-3 minutes. The instructions said they would melt a little. We didn't see that happen, but I stuck each batch back in there anyway. Maybe you'll have better luck.

Let the cookies cool completely while you mix up the frosting.

3 cups confectioners' sugar
6 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
4 1/2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
6 Tbs milk
3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Place sugar in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter with the cocoa, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Pour mixture into the bowl of sugar. Add milk and vanilla, and whisk.

Spoon (or spread if thickened) the frosting over the cookie, hiding the marshmallow. Before the frosting sets, sprinkle with decorations.

cookies 018

cookies 019

The marshmallows were no surprise to us, but they were yummy anyway!

cookies 021

cookies 023

(If you talk to Martha, don't tell her about the mess on the table!)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Papa's Birthday Weekend

My dad's birthday is September 3rd, which means that we get the whole Labor Day weekend to celebrate! This year we drove to the lake and so did Emily and Todd and the soon-to-be-baby Duncan. We took a morning boat ride and did a little swimming, a little fishing, and a lot of eating!

dadbday 002

On Thursday, before the big weekend started, my mom and dad went to the Panther's game. Not a great showing by the home team, but the birthday boy did get his face on the big screen! Dad answered a trivia question correctly and won a prize!

Nothing makes my dad happier than being with his family, so the get-together was the perfect present for him. He did request a coconut cake, which my mom happily made. This cake is so yummy, even those of us who don't like coconut think it's worth picking through the flakes to get to the cake! I'm not a fan of packaged coconut, but I have tasted real coconut when I taught my preschool students about Hawaii. We hammered it open and cut slices for everyone to try. It's very good and the consistency is more appealing to me than frozen coconut. So here is the recipe, and if you have the energy, try picking up a fresh coconut. It would be worth the effort...

Coconut Cake

1 package yellow cake mix
1 package frozen fresh coconut
2 tsp coconut flavoring (so yum)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 large carton cool whip

Use 1 tsp coconut flavoring in cake batter. Bake in greased and floured pans according to package directions. Mix evaporated milk, powdered sugar, coconut flavoring and wather to make 2 cups. While cake is hot, punch holes in top with a skewer and pour mixture over. Cool and cover with cool whip. Pat cocout into cool whip.

Amazing every time!

dadbday 005