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eggs 1

Years ago, back in my newspaper reporter days, I interviewed a very talented woman who made Pysanka (Ukrainian Easter Eggs). They were so cool!

Pysanka are blown-out eggs decorated with traditional Ukrainian folk designs using a wax-resist (batik) method. The word pysanka comes from the verb pysaty, “to write”, as the designs are not painted on, but written with beeswax. The art of the decorated pysanka is said to date back to ancient times. The colors used as well as the symbols selected for each egg have meaning.

egg black 1

I watched this woman teach a group of middle school students how to do the process. It involves adding layers of wax and dye as the design of the egg progress. When finished, the wax is removed with heat (like from a candle) and what is left is a brilliantly colored, intricately designed egg.

egg blue 1

As a thank you for doing the article, she gifted me with three eggs that I have carefully kept.

They are, eggshells, after all.

egg red 1

I found a website that was step by step instructions, if anyone is interested in trying this at home.

eggs 2

She Who is Still Utterly Fascinated by the Process

 

 

On a cold, blustery day back in February, I decided to force grass to grow in a container for an upcoming gathering I planned to host.

Unfortunately, the gathering was two weeks away and my grass was nowhere near ready by the time the party rolled around.

But it did provide a bright spot through the remainder of the dreary winter days and gave me the perfect centerpiece for some Easter ideas!

You could easily use wheat grass (available at most grocery stores) to recreate the same thing without spending weeks tending faithfully to growing grass!

Line a tray or container with garbage bags or plastic.

Line a tray or container with garbage bags or plastic.

 

grass tray full of dirt

Fill the tray almost to the top with potting soil.

 

I used a bag of grass seed we had left over from last summer and threw in a few flower seeds.

I used a bag of grass seed we had left over from last summer and threw in a few flower seeds.

 

And liberally sprinkled over the potting soil. Cover with a thin layer of soil then water thoroughly.

Liberally sprinkled over the potting soil. Cover with a thin layer of soil then water thoroughly.

 

It took almost two weeks for little shoots of green to begin appearing. The keys to making the grass grow are water, warmth and light. Keep the soil moist , and if you don't have a warm place to sit the grass in natural light, you can use an electric light or  heat lamp.

It took almost two weeks for little shoots of green to begin appearing. The keys to making the grass grow are water, warmth and light. Keep the soil moist , and if you don’t have a warm place to set the grass in natural light, you can use an electric light or heat lamp.

Once it started to grow, it really took off.

Once it started to grow, it really took off.

And become the perfect place to tuck a few eggs.

And became the perfect place to tuck a few eggs.

I love the contrast of the grass, the metal tray, and the soft colors of the eggs.

I love the contrast of the grass, the metal tray, and the soft colors of the eggs.

I think even the Easter Bunny would approve.

I think even the Easter Bunny would approve.

She Who Enjoyed Watching the Grass Grow

Meatloaf plated

Captain Cavedweller isn’t a meatloaf fan and I’m allergic to processed tomatoes, so we’ve avoided meatloaf at our house.

The other day I got inspired to see if I could either find or create a recipe that didn’t use ketchup or any kind of canned tomatoes. Boy, did that turn out to be a tasty decision. Finding a few recipes online, I combined elements of what I liked and came up with a meatloaf recipe that is nothing like the one Granny used to make, but delicious all the same!

Ingredients

Ingredients

Start by slicing and dicing your celery into small, thin pieces.

Start by slicing and dicing your celery into small, thin pieces.

Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat and add celery and onion flakes. If you want to use fresh onion and add garlic, you can certainly do that, too. Cook until celery is soft then let cool.

Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium heat and add celery and onion flakes. If you want to use fresh onion and add garlic, you can certainly do that, too. Cook until celery is soft then let cool.

Add celery mixture to remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Add celery mixture to remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.

 

Form mixture into a loaf on a rimmed baking sheet. I lined mine with foil because I'm lazy and don't like scraping goo off the pan. The loaf should be about twelve inches long, four to five inches wide and at least an inch and a half to two inches deep.

Form mixture into a loaf on a rimmed baking sheet. I lined mine with foil because I’m lazy and don’t like scraping goo off the pan. The loaf should be about twelve inches long, four to five inches wide and at least an inch and a half to two inches deep.

 

While the meatloaf is baking, pour two cups of chicken broth into a pan with butter. You can add a spoon of crushed garlic if you want, which we didn't. This is going to cook for about twenty minutes, until it starts to thicken (although it will still be thin, not like gravy).

While the meatloaf is baking, pour two cups of chicken broth into a pan with butter. You can add a spoon of crushed garlic if you want, which we didn’t. This is going to cook for about twenty minutes, until it starts to thicken (although it will still be thin, not like gravy).

 

Bake the meatloaf until nice and brown - about an hour.

Bake the meatloaf until nice and brown – about an hour.

 

Slice and serve with the "gravy" drizzled over the top.

Slice and serve with the “gravy” drizzled over the top.

 

Not Your Granny’s Meatloaf

2 pounds of ground beef

3 eggs

2/3 cup milk

1 tbsp. parsley

1 1/2 cups Panko crumbs

1 tsp. seasoning

dash of salt

1 tbsp. olive oil

1/3 cup of thinly sliced and diced celery

1 tsp. onion flakes (or you can add fresh onion)

2 cups chicken broth

3 tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Thinly slice and dice celery. Heat olive oil in a small skillet on medium heat and add celery and onion (you can also add a little garlic if you want). Cook until celery is softened. Remove from heat and let cool.

Mix celery with remaining ingredients until thoroughly blended.

Line a rimmed baking pan with foil (if you’re lazy like me) and give it a shot of non-stick spray. Form a loaf in the pan that is about 12 inches long by 4-5 inches wide by 1 1/2-2 inches deep.

Bake for an hour, until outside is a nice, deep brown.

About twenty-five minutes before the meatloaf is finished baking, pour 2 cups of chicken broth into a heavy skillet with the butter. You can add a spoon of crushed garlic if you want or a spoon of seasoning.

Bring to a boil then simmer for about twenty minutes, until it starts to thicken. It will not get thick like gravy, but will be thicker than broth.

When the meatloaf is finished, slice and drizzle with the gravy and enjoy the delicious, yummy treat!

She Who Will Be Making This Again

Aundy is FREE!

One more day of shameless self-promotion, then I promise I’ll post a recipe tomorrow!

 

Aundy Free Promo

If you’d like to find out what all the Pendleton Petticoats buzz is about, hop on over to Amazon and download the first book in the series, Aundy, for free!

That’s right, FREE!

You can get Aundy’s story through Sunday as a free Kindle download.

It’s a fun read set in 1899 in the city of Pendleton, Oregon. Here’s what others have said about Aundy…

“Shanna Hatfield writes a story that is reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian, complete with the conflict between cattleman and those daring to raise sheep.” 

InD’Tale Magazine

“The author makes the land, weather, and seasons an essential part of this fascinating story! The characters, including Aundy, are people I genuinely came to care for and want to know more about…This book also provides an accurate picture of many aspects of life in the West at the turn of the century.”

Amazon Reviewer

  “What sets this story apart is humor, as it adds a bit of clean spice to a wonderfully written love story…”

Amazon Reviewer

 “I just love stories with strong female leads and when it combines with historical…WOW! Read this book in just hours.”

Amazon Reviewer

 “It isn’t your usual historic romance novel! The author brought each and every character to life.”

Amazon Reviewer

The official book blurb says:

Desperate to better her situation, Aundy Thorsen agrees to leave behind her life in Chicago to fulfill a farmer’s request for a mail-order bride in Pendleton, Oregon. When a tragic accident leaves her a widow soon after becoming a wife, Aundy takes on the challenge of learning how to manage a farm, even if it means her stubborn determination to succeed upsets a few of the neighbors.
Born and raised at Nash’s Folly, the family ranch, Garrett Nash loves life in the bustling community of Pendleton as the 20th century approaches.
When his neighbor passes away and leaves behind a plucky widow, Garrett takes on the role of her protector and guardian. His admiration for her tenacious spirit soon turns to something more. He just needs to convince the strong-willed woman to give love another chance.

And just for fun, here’s an excerpt:
***
Before he let sense overrule desire, he yanked off his gloves and tossed them on the nearest chair then took her face in his hands, brushing his thumbs over her cheekbones, gazing into her eyes and getting lost in the warm blue depths.

Lowering his head to hers, he only meant to give her a swift, chaste kiss. Heat exploded between them at the touch of their lips. Garrett lost his ability to think as he repeatedly pressed his mouth, hard and hungry, to hers. When her arms slid around his neck, he drew her even closer and deepened the kiss.

Garrett felt lost to everything except the woman in his arms, the woman who fit there so perfectly. He admired her spirit, appreciated her fine figure, enjoyed her laughter, and liked her caring heart. What he felt now, though, was so much more.

He felt passion and, if he cared to admit it, soul-deep love for the girl who kissed him with every bit as much yearning as he kissed her.

Aundy finally pulled back with a ragged breath, eyes wide in delightful wonder. She’d promised herself she would never get involved with another man, but her feelings for Garrett were more than just involved.

Involved meant there was care and concern, maybe friendship and fun.

The wild currents of longing swirling inside her were so strong they made her bones ache. The emotions Garrett stirred in her were much, much more than she ever imagined feeling for anyone and most definitely beyond being merely involved.

“Garrett, I… you…” she said, unable to think with the delightful tingle of his kisses still riding her lips. She couldn’t believe he’d kissed her. Or that she’d kissed him in return.

Never, not once, had any kiss ever made her feel like her heart would pound right out of her chest. Her stomach felt light and her knees weak while she scrambled to regain the ability to have a coherent thought. How could one kiss, one magnificent kiss, affect her so?

***

Get your free copy today! Just click here to go right to Aundy’s page on Amazon.

Forgive my shameless self-promotion today, but…

Ilsa-facebook-headerToday is the day!

Ilsa’s launch party  starts this morning at 10 a.m. and runs until 2 p.m. (Pacific Time).  Even if you can only pop in for a few minutes, come get in on the fun. All drawings will run until 2 p.m. so you have plenty of opportunity to try to win some exciting freebies.

Eight guest authors will join me throughout the party, sharing about their writing and there will be even more cool prizes!

I’m also super excited to announce that  Aundy is available FREE on Kindle today through April 13. If you already have a copy, make sure you give gift copies to your friends. What could be better than getting a free book that a friend recommends?

impossible banana pie plated

I remember my mom used to make Impossible Coconut Pie way back when I was full of youthful exuberance. It seemed amazing the way you could pour everything into one pan and there would magically appear a crust, filling and topping.

I decided to see what would happen if I took the same basic idea and tried it with bananas, since Captain Cavedweller loves banana desserts.

The result turned out quite tasty and it was so super easy!

Ingredients for Impossible Banana Pie

Ingredients for Impossible Banana Pie

Here's the super-hard part... dump everything in a blender and mix until smooth.

Here’s the super-hard part… dump everything in a blender and mix until smooth.

Pour into a 10-inch pie pan and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, until the center is set.

Pour into a 10-inch pie pan and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, until the center is set. That’s it!

 

Impossible Banana Pie

1 1/2 cups milk

3 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup baking mix

1/2 cup butter

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 medium-sized bananas (the riper the better)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a pie pan (I gave mine a quick shot of non-stick cooking spray).

Bake for 65 minutes (or so) or until the center is set (it will have a custardy texture). If you like the smell of banana bread, this will make your mouth water!

Remove from oven and let cool slightly (or completely).

I served  it with a swirl of caramel sauce and a bit of whipped cream. You could add slices of fresh banana or some chocolate. Whatever strikes your fancy!

She Who Will Be Making This Again

The other day I wandered around my yard with the camera. I thought I’d share what I found…

flower daffodil 2Daffodils. I think these have to be one of the cheeriest flowers. Absolutely love them!

flowers violets 2Violets always make me think of fairies.

flower jump upsJohnny-Jump-Ups bring fond memories of my grandpa to mind. He always had a bunch of them growing at his house.

Flower - hyacinth dark pinkHyacinths are so pretty. I’m quite taken with this bright pink hue.

flower hyacinth pink with beeBut I also like this pale pink one, too. So do the bees!

flower hyacinth bunchAnd you’ve got to have some lavender and purple ones as well.

flowers forsythiaThe forsythia actually belongs to our neighbor and creeps through our fence.

forsythia with lady bugBut I don’t think the ladybug cares.

Happy Spring!

She Who is So Everlasting Grateful Spring has Arrived

 

 

 

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