Saturday, July 30, 2011

My View From the Tub - On Comparison

 I have a confession to make here at The Lavender Tub.  It takes a lot of courage to admit this, but.......sometimes I go to bad parties!  Reaally bad parties.

Who would have ever thought this, right?

Well, I do, and they're called pity parties.  I really hate going to them, but sometimes I find myself there.

And can I just say, "Almost every time I find myself at one of these parties, it is because I've gotten caught up in comparing something about my life with someone else's?"  I can be going along fine and happy, when out of nowhere it hits me like a bus.  Anyone else know what I'm talking about?

My friend has this little expression in a frame in her house:

Comparison is the Stealer of Joy

Six little words.  But, six very powerful, little words.

Since one of my goals at The Lavender Tub is Contentment Regardless of the Circumstances, I created this picture to frame. Like my friend, I want to be reminded of the damage caused by comparison.

The last few years have been pretty tough for my family, and I think most people would not blame me for going to these parties.  I lost my dad to cancer after having lost my mom to cancer 13 years ago.  My Edward was laid off from work, and we had very little income for almost two years on account of neither of us working.  We've all but lost a 5 year-old niece to an ugly divorce situation, and my daughter miscarried her first pregnancy.  OUCH!

But here is the thing:  Allowing comparisons to creep in does not change anything for the better.  They just leave me resentful, hurt, discouraged, discontented.......and without JOY!

So, I'm uninviting myself to those parties!  And when that comparison bus tries to hit me, I'm facing it head on and choosing to compare with those less fortunate than I am. Those I can reach out to and encourage, or help with their needs.  

How about you?  What are you comparing with that is stealing your joy?  Do you need this little reminder, too?  If so, I've created a few different designs for you to enjoy in your home.  Hopefully, you'll be able to "click" on the design you like and "print" whatever size best suits your needs.  I'm not very savvy at creating printables yet, but I'm not going to compare with those bloggers who are.

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for listening.  Be encouraged.


Meatloaf - For People Who Hate Meatloaf

Some people like meatloaf.  Based on my personal experience, however, I think many people do not.  Most meatloaf is just.......well, yucky.  Kind of, "Why would you do that to ground beef?"

At least those were my thoughts until I stumbled across this recipe about 10 years ago.  I was attending a "Bring Your Favorite Dish With the Recipe" potluck, and this meatloaf was one of the entries.  Wow, was I surprised!  It was delicious.

Several friends have now had this recipe at my house, and  I can't tell you how many have said, "I really don't like meatloaf, but this is really good!"  In fact, one of them is wanting me to hurry up and get this recipe posted! 

So, E, this is for you!  Happy Cooking!

Ingredients for 1 large loaf:

1 1/2 Pound Ground Meat  
     I usually mix 1 pound Turkey with 
     1/2 pound Beef.
1 Egg
1 Cup Italian Bread Crumbs  
     Sometimes I blenderize rolled oats 
     and use instead.
1/2 8 oz. Can Tomato Sauce
1/2 Small Onion, chopped  
     You can also use 1 Tbs. dry minced onion
1 Clove Garlic
1 Beef Bouillon Cube, dissolved in a small amount of water
1/8 tsp. pepper

Ingredients for the Sauce:

1 1/2 Tbs. Cornstarch
2 Tbs. Brown Sugar
3/4 Cup Hot Water
1 Beef Bouillon Cube
1/2 8 oz. Can Tomato Sauce
3/4 Cup Sherry Cooking Wine
1 Tbs. Vinegar
1 tsp. Mustard

Mix the meatloaf ingredients together and shape into a loaf. Bake at 350F degrees for 40 minutes.  Remove from the oven and carefully pour off any accumulated fats.  Top the meatloaf with the prepared sauce (see below) and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.  If your pan is shallow, baste often. 


While the loaf is baking, combine the sauce ingredients in a small sauce pan, mixing very well.  Stir frequently over a medium heat until the ingredients just start to boil or become thickened.  Set aside until time to pour over the meatloaf. 

Arrange slices on a platter and pour over the sauce for a beautiful presentation.

This also freezes very well.  I almost always make 4 batches at a time and freeze the 3 extra loaves.  Let thaw in the refrigerator, then bake as normal.  If you bake from frozen, turn your heat down to about 300F degrees and bake until it has an internal temperature of 170F degrees.

Thank you, Mrs. Norma Partridge, for such an amazing recipe. My family now enjoys meatloaf and the credit goes completely to you.

Thanks for stopping by,


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Angel Biscuits - Heavenly

I'm excited to share this southern recipe with you today. Angel biscuits are a kind of biscuit made with baking powder and soda, but also a roll because they are made with yeast. The best part:  you can mix together the ingredients and bake them right away, or mix them when you have time and keep the batter in the refrigerator for weeks, baking what you need along the way.

I often make a doubled batch, but it never lasts more than just a few days.  They are just so.......well, heavenly.  Like eating baby angels!  Ha, Ha - OK, that was for you Tim Hawkins fans out there.  You can check out his video here. 


5 Cups Flour
3 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
2 1/2 Cups Buttermilk*
1 Pkg. Dry Yeast, dissolved in 2 Tbsp. warm water
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 tsp. Soda
1/2 Cup Light Olive or Vegetable Oil

This is the best yeast and it is also very economical.  I highly recommend it.  I purchase mine from a local bread supplies dealer.  Look for it on-line and in specialty kitchen stores.

 *If you're short on buttermilk, pour 2 1/2 Tbsp. of vinegar in a bowl, then stir in enough milk to make 2 1/2 Cups.  Let this sit and thicken while you're mixing together the other ingredients.  Buttermilk adds better flavor, but this works just fine.

Mix together the dry ingredients in an 8 Cup or larger bowl. Add the buttermilk, oil, and dissolved yeast.  Mix well.  Using a 1/4 cup scoop or large spoon, drop the biscuit dough on a baking sheet.  You might need to dip your scoop in flour to prevent sticking.

Bake at 450 F degrees  until lightly browned.  This takes only 9-10 minutes on my baking stone.

No rolling out, no cutting into shapes, no shaping, no rising and punching down.......O, the little angels!

The dough is also wonderfully versatile.  We've used it to make hamburger buns, cinnamon biscuits, garlic & cheese biscuits and great afternoon snack biscuits with frosting.  It is just so handy having the dough already in the refrigerator. Keep in mind that the dough does rise, so you will want to store in a large bowl at first.

This is how the dough looks after storing for one day.  Use your scoop to deflate it some, but don't "punch" it all down.

You know my theme around here:  Fast food at home may not be the absolute healthiest option, but it is almost always healthier than eating out.  I have tried to improve this recipe by making it with freshly ground whole wheat flour, but the whole wheat becomes unappetizing as the dough stores.  If I discover a healthier version, I'll let you know.  If you do, please come back and share with us. 

 Of course, they might not be the fluffy little angels they are now if they get too healthy.  Just enjoy.......they are delicious.  

The flavor and texture of the biscuit changes as they are stored.  When you bake immediately, they look and taste more like a biscuit.  When you store for several hours, they take on more of a roll flavor and appearance.  Both are very yummy.  This pan was baked from dough stored for about 24 hours.  The two biscuits at the back were baked when the dough was freshly made.

Thanks for stopping by,


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Edward

Twenty years ago today, I married my dear, sweet Edward in this little chapel.

It has been the best 20 years of my life.

Thank you, Edward, for giving me a wonderful loving husband and amazing, beautiful children.  Regardless of what tomorrow holds for us, it will be perfect as long as I am with you.  
All my love,


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Batchelder Fireplace & Summer Mantel

Some of the beautiful features of our 1929 home are the old fireplaces.  While our home mostly resembles the Prairie style, it does have a touch of Arts & Crafts, and this is seen particularly in the fireplaces.  

The fireplace I'm showing you today is in our Living Room and is a Batchelder Tile Fireplace #251.  To see an original drawing of this fireplace for catalog, go here.  To learn more about the Arts & Crafts designer, Ernest Batchelder, look here.

Earlier this month I shared with you that my mantel decor was overdue for changing, since it was all about spring.  I didn't really want to decorate for "summer" per se, but what resulted looks rather summer-ish.  My inspiration was this vase given to me by my stepmom.  It was a gift to my father from a Korean pastor friend.  While it does have some value because it is Celadon, I treasure it because it represents the love so many people had for my dad.  I'm really missing him right now and decided to decorate purely for sentiment. 

It shouldn't be a surprise, then, that I anchored the other end of the mantel with my great-grandmother's butter churn.  It doesn't really go with the vase, but I like the contrast and I love the churn.  Her name was Cordelia, but she was known to all as Cordie.

The candlesticks I picked up while thrifting with my stepmom in Phoenix.  Someday, perhaps,  I'll be brave enough to tell you the tale of how I actually got these on the plane and made it home with them.  Let's just say it involves an overweight suitcase - thanks to iron candlesticks - and my underwear being strewn about in front of a long line of irritated fellow travelers.  Oh, yes!  This really happened!

The last sentimental treasure to go on the mantel is this bouquet of oak-leaf hydrangeas.  Edward bought this hydrangea for me for Mother's Day last year.  I had wanted one for a very long time and was absolutely thrilled.  It truly does make me happy every time I look at it.  The blossoms look a bit too green to go well with everything else, but they will continue to dry to a parchment color.

It's a very eclectic mix of sentimental treasures, garage sale finds, and some vinyl stickers I picked up at the Dollar Store for $2, but it's comfortable and pleasing to me.  Do you think Mr. Batchelder would like it?

Thanks for stopping by,

linking to Not Just a Housewife, here

Linking to Savvy Southern Style, here

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Best Baked Beans Ever

Have you noticed that people are “mama” biased about certain foods?  I mean -  I don’t care if Paula Deen made it, if she didn’t make it like mama’s, it’s just not as good!  My kids are starting to be like that and it makes me smile. 

Baked beans are one of those foods in our family.  When we were kids, if we went to a cookout or potluck and mama’s baked beans were not on the table, we passed.  No one’s beans were like my mama’s, and we loooved hers.
With that said, if you don’t already have a yummy baked bean recipe, this one is a winner!  For everyone else, I’m sure your mama’s are the best so you won’t need to be wasting your time here, right?  Besides, I’m really posting this recipe for my sister, so she can stop calling me to get the recipe.   I figure if it is published on my blog, she can reference it here and I won’t have to explain it to her husband for the 11th time while she is off nursing the baby because my sister asked me to.
There is really nothing special about the ingredients in this recipe.  I don’t know what makes them so good, but they are.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Ingredients for 8x8 pan:
3 15 oz. Cans Van Kamp’s Pork and Beans, remove fat
4-6 strips of Bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 small to medium Onion, chopped
1/4 Cup Ketchup
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp. mustard
Cook the bacon, reserving the bacon fat.  

By the way, did you know you can cook a pound or more of bacon at once, by layering it?  This allows you to have cooked bacon for other recipes with little or no extra effort.  Just keep a close eye on it and don’t cook at too high of temperature.  Turn the slices frequently and reposition them in the pan as they cook down smaller.

When the bacon is crispy, remove and set aside. Saute the onion in the hot bacon fat until it turns yellow and is tender.  Don’t let it brown.  This will probably take 13-15 minutes.

While the bacon and onions are cooking, empty 3 can of beans into an oven safe dish.  For a 9x13 pan, double the above ingredients.  Add the brown sugar, ketchup, and mustard.  When the onions are tender, add them as well.  Stir  gently. I DO NOT ADD THE BACON AT THIS TIME.  My mother did.  I prefer to have the bacon a little crispier, so I add it right before serving.

Bake at 350 F degrees for 45 minutes.  Stir in about 1/2 of the crumbled bacon, and then top with the remaining 1/2.  If you doubled the recipe, you might want to bake for an additional 10 minutes.  Serve hot or cooled.  Yum!  Yum!  Yum!

We just had a meal of baked beans, turkey burgers, sweet corn from Illinois, and homegrown tomatoes from Missouri.  It was heavenly!
Thanks for stopping by, but next time come for dinner!  We'd love to have you.

2 Good 2 B Forgotten - Salsa

We used to have a Mexican restaurant in our town that was a D-I-V-E, but very delicious.  Their salsa was different from most Mexican restaurants, and I really couldn't get enough of it.  So much so, in fact, that I tried to create my own version at home.  Thank goodness I did, because they are no longer in business.  I really have no idea if this is how they made it, but the taste comes close enough to satisfy my cravings.  It is so simple and especially wonderful in winter when tomatoes are out of season.


15 oz. Can Tomato Sauce
15 oz. Water
1/3-1/2 Medium Onion, diced - 1/2 inch
1-2 Garlic Cloves, peeled
1-1 1/2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes, or to taste
1-2 tsp. Salt, or to taste

Dice the onion, then cover with cool water mixed with 1 Tbs. salt.  Set aside for 10 minutes.

Add all other ingredients to a blender, and blend on high for a full minute.  Start the blender on low, and work up to high to prevent the liquid from spilling out of your blender.

Rinse the onions and add to the other blended ingredients. Serve with chips and as a condiment on white rice, enchiladas, etc.

This salsa tastes even better the next day.  Keep in mind, however, that it does get hotter with each passing day. Season to taste, but if you are making to eat in a few hours or the next day, go light on the  red pepper. Also, you will have terrible garlic breath after eating this salsa, but that doesn't seem to stop us.  This was true with the original, too.

Does anyone local know how El Burrito made their salsa?  I'd love for you to share, if you know.  If not, I hope you enjoy my version.

Thanks for stopping by,


Friday, July 22, 2011

Classy Fireplace Screen

My Edward and I have differing views on what to do with old shutters.  To me, they add so much texture and homeyness to whatever room they are in.  To Edward, they are objects of utility.

A few years ago, we took some adorable little shutters off a couple of windows upstairs.  As I was imagining what to do with them, I realized that Edward had thrown them in the trash!  In the trash!!!  This is actually a very common occurrence at our house.  I keep everything; Edward throws it all away.

With hands on hips, my head shaking and lots of muttering under my breath that this man should surely know me by now Shrugging it off because everyone makes mistakes, I promptly removed the shutters from the trash and hid them deep in my stash of goodies on my side of the garage.  I was so excited to have rescued the little darlings.

You have to be really secure to put a picture of yourself like
this on the web!  I'm just sayin'

A few weeks later, an idea finally came to me of what to remake the little shutters into.  Excitedly, I went to retrieve them from the garage, but couldn't find them anywhere.  I asked, "Edward, have you seen those little shutters?", to which he replied, "Yes, I threw them in the trash."

"I know", said I, "but I rescued them and hid them in the garage."

You know where this story is going, don't you?  Yep, Edward came across them again and thought he'd missed setting them out in the trash.  Sigh.......the little shutters are gone.

Thankfully, I still have some shutters to work with.  They were exactly what I needed when creating this fireplace screen. I simply attached the shutters to an old cabinet door, gave everything a fresh coat of paint, and screwed a decorative wall plaque to the top.

I also thought it would be great to change the design on the front of the screen now and then.  Like the magnetic memo board I made here, I painted the front of the cabinet door with five coats of magnetic paint.   This created a surface to magnet fabric or decorative papers to.  Fun! Fun! Fun!

I'm really liking how the old sheet music looks.  I  can't decide, though, whether to distress it some, or not.  Edward is not crazy about that look, and too much of it doesn't look right in my classy boned old house.  Would distressing look too busy with the old sheet music, or might it blend better?  What would you do?

Thanks for stopping by,

Linking to Sunday Showcase Party here,  Savvy Southern Style, here,  and Between Naps on the Porch, here.

Thinking Outside the Box - #2

Something I really enjoy is finding alternative uses for things I pick up at yard sales.  Sometimes they are too cute to pass on, and so I purchase them not really knowing where they will end up.  Here are a few ideas for you:

A ceramic shelf.....

becomes a canopy crown.

A teacup display.....

is a great place to organize
earrings.  I love this!

A plate rack hung on a closet

is a wonderful place to hang
purses.  (It usually holds
many more than this.)

Turn an old telephone niche into
a gorgeous book rack.

Hang a towel from a
door knocker for a unique
decorative statement.

Hope you find some awesome deals out there.  Have an amazing weekend!

Thanks for stopping by,


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dollar Store Tiles

I found these tiles in the garden section of the Dollar Store. That sounds kind of funny, the garden section.  They are a little wonky and the paint color is hideous, but I thought they could be upcycled into something nice enough.

Considering the pits and cracks in the design of the tiles, I decided to use three colors of paint to try for an authentic stone look. 

Using leftover latex paint from our home office, I dipped one corner of my brush in brown and the other corner in a rusty color.  I tapped the brush on a paper plate to get some of the paint off and then applied the paint diagonally, but rather randomly, in a pouncing and brushing manner.  I didn't want too much paint to collect down in the cracks and letters, so my brush was not very wet. 

When this coat was dry, I took very dark brown paint, thinned it with a little water and brushed the entire piece with the thinned paint.  The ratio was about .25 to 1 with the water being the .25.  Then with an old rag, I dabbed and wiped the dark brown paint off.  I like to do this gently at first, checking the design as I go. 

What do you think?  Pretty simple, yet pretty dramatic.  The tiles look kind of fall-ish to me.  Perhaps I'll do an antique white or grey, or maybe green for summer.  Got any ideas?  I'd love for you to share.  

Thanks for stopping by,