Category Archives: Homemaking

Emergency Chocolate Relief Act

Need some chocolate relief? Mix this cookie dough, form into cookies, freeze and then pop into the oven whenever you have a chocolate emergency.

Our annual book club Christmas party was on Monday night.  We exchange small, but wonderful gifts.  We bring a gift for each person, so we go home with a lot of loot. 

This year, Chris brought a recipe for “Emergency Chocolate Relief Act” plus the actual raw cookies in a plastic bag to put in our freezers.  The raw cookies were ready to pop in the oven whenever we were feeling faint and in need of chocolate. She even gave us a small cookie tray, which will fit into a toaster oven.  It was all wrapped in a festive tea towel.  Her mother, Judy, also a member of book club, gave us a small spatula to complete the ensemble. You can see it all above with the cookies hot from the oven. 

The recipe:

Take off all jewelry. Wash hands. Combine one roll of Nestle refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough with a roll of another brand (such as Pillsbury) in the same amount.  Add substantial amounts of pecans and chocolate chips or pieces of candy bars.  Squish all together into balls. Slightly flatten and put in freezer bags.  Freeze. When you need a cookie or two or three, break out of the bag.  Put on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.  Cool slightly.  Eat!  You’ll feel instant relief!


Filed under Food, Friendship, Homemaking, Howto, Humor, Life, Personal, Recipes

Make This No-Calorie Chex Mix


Here’s how to make no-calorie Chex Mix.  You won’t even get your hands dirty. 

Chex Mix Jigsaw Puzzle.


Filed under Diet, Entertainment, Food, Homemaking, Howto, Humor, Life, Personal, Random, Recipes


A bee works on a basil blossom.

A bee works on a basil blossom.

A hard freeze is forecast for tonight so I’ve been washing off my outdoor potted plants and rolling them indoors in my decrepit little red wagon.  I’ll worry later about finding them sunshine in the walkout basement. 

I just cut the last of the basil to make pesto.  Basil is the first to die when the temperature hits freezing, so I couldn’t dawdle any longer.  Making pesto is a pain in the posterior, but I’ll be sorry if a freeze kills my basil.   The bees love the basil flowers, so I hope they can find hardier flowers tomorrow. Eventually, they’ll tuck themselves in for the winter.  Where, I wonder?

My pesto recipe is to throw all of washed leaves (picking off the leaves is tedious) into a cuisinart with some olive oil and pine nuts and then whirl until it’s finely chopped into a paste.  Form into balls on a plate and freeze. (My fingernails turn green….)  Remove the frozen balls from the plate (sometimes I have to hack them off) and put into a bag to store in your freezer.  You can toss onto hot pasta or into a marinara sauce later when you want a taste of summer time.  You can add garlic and Parmesan cheese, if you want. Salt to taste.


Filed under Biology, Environment, Food, Gardening, Homemaking, Humor, Insects, Kansas, Life, Nature, Personal, Random, Recipes

Sew Stylish

I used a foot pedal-powered sewing machine like this one at my grandmother's house. One summer vacation at her farm in South Dakota I broke all of her hard-to-find needles while producing several outfits for school. I had to wait to get replacements until the next trip to town, a forty-mile round-trip, before I could start sewing again. This sewing machine is in the Smith House at the Agricultural Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas.

I grew up in a city full of designers  — they sketched airplanes, though, not haute couture.  Spotting a freshly minted B-52 was easy, but finding clothing as fabulous as the outfits in “Seventeen,” my favorite magazine, was harder to do.  I was determined to be stylish, so that meant designing and sewing my own clothes.  I learned sewing from my mother, who sewed beautiful outfits for us.  After I started hogging her machine, she bought one for my sister and me to share.

I produced dozens and dozens of outfits over the years.  One black and white checked dress had mutton leg sleeves, full skirt and a white pointed collar.  I was particularly proud of the cuffs, which reached nearly to my elbows and sported six buttons on each cuff.  The dress wasn’t very flattering, but my pattern-making skills were impressive.   I wasn’t destined to be on the best-dressed list, but that didn’t stop me from fantasizing I was Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly. 

In my quest for high fashion, I bought untold yards of fabric and scores of spools of thread and assorted notions. Notions is a great word for all of those odds and ends involved in producing garments. You have a notion about some great outfit (or project), which inspires you to purchase a lot of stuff, which ends up in drawers in a tangle.
Even the wives of presidents sewed. This sewing machine, dress form and notions were in Edith Wilson's bedroom in Washington, D.C.

Even the wives of presidents sewed. This sewing machine, dress form and notions were in Edith Wilson's bedroom in the house where she and Woodrow Wilson moved in Washington, D.C., after they left the White House.

My friend Jan used to work in fabric stores, so she had first crack at the good stuff.  She also put her rusty metric conversion skills to good use when European customers bought fabric at the store where she worked in Berkeley.  She wrote about some of her sewing adventures and misadventures in I’m Sewing Mayhem.

Jan once wrote to me rapturously of a massive fabric store in Los Angeles, where you could find sumptuous material at rock-bottom prices.  Bolts of fabric were stacked to the rafters on each floor.  She’d found Nirvana, El Dorado and Paradise all in one location.  She bought her wedding dress material there, which leads me to the story she likes to tell about my sewing skills. I was great on construction, but not so great on finishing.  I appeared in Omaha just before her wedding with my bridesmaid’s dress still unpressed.  Even the seams weren’t flat.  Hey, those were the days when you were more concerned about ironing your hair than your clothes.

Which leads me to the next sewing phase  — hippiedom in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Peasant blouses, halter tops, jeans and t-shirts, Army surplus.  Everything was baggy, sloppy, cut-offs, casual. (Hey, that sounds like now.)  I embroidered flowers on my jeans and blue chambray work shirts and made patchwork outfits.  Not much of the clothing required much skill.  In fact, the natural look seemed to encourage a loosey goosey style.  Some of the joy went out of dreaming up new outfits.

These dresses are survivors from my sewing frenzy when my daughter was about two.  The rest were handed down -- those that weren't stained or torn -- to nieces.

These dresses are survivors from my sewing frenzy when my daughter was about two. The rest were handed down -- those that weren't stained or torn -- to nieces.

It wasn’t until my daughter was born that I regained my fervor for sewing. I whipped out several gorgeous little dresses in an unusual burst of energy.  As soon as my daughter came into her own fashion sense (When was that?  Age three?) I stopped sewing so enthusiastically for her. You don’t want to pour your life into a dress with pleats, pin-tucking, ruffles and lace-trimmed collars when your daughter will only wear shorts and t-shirts.  

All children take sewing in school in our school district these days, and my son and daughter both also took extra sewing classes. So, I say “Let’em sew for themselves!” Now my daughter, a young adult, is dreaming up and sewing her own fashions.  Let the sewing circle be unbroken.


Filed under Family, Friendship, History, Homemaking, Humor, Kansas, Life, Personal, Presidents, Sewing