Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sock Drying, Fun for All Ages

I know.  Right now you're asking yourself, what kind of magic has been performed on these children.  LINING UP to help with chores.  Hanging socks, nonetheless.  Quite possibly the worst job in the "hanging-of-clothes" line of profession.

Enter Papa.  AKA, The Genius.  Yes folks, my dad is a genius.  After spotting one of these babies hanging from an Amish clothesline (we love our Amish around these parts) he took a snapshot in his brain and recreated it for my clothesline.  And my sister-in-law's clothesline.  And another for my sister-in-law's clothesline (those folks have A LOT of socks...possibly more than two feet per person, I don't know what's going on over there.)

And let me tell you, we kinda fight about who gets to hang the socks now because it's SO DARN FUN.   

The socks don't get folded over the clothesline, so they dry so nice and evenly and they flap around in the wind so they don't resemble cardboard when removed from the sock dryer.  It's revolutionized our feet. 

Kids, lining up to do chores.  Does life get better?

Then of course we need to take a break from the fun for some more fun.  Running through drying sheets has to be one of the all time best things about kid-dom.  If you never had the opportunity I strongly encourage giving it the college try now.  I grew up running through my grandmother's drying sheets and towels and there's nothing better.

Happy socks.  Happy Mama.

One last, kinda crummy photo, for those of you "recreators" who would like to see the top view for making your very own sock dryer.  Everyone needs more fun in their life...sock drying should be part of that. :-)

Be kind to each other,

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Bread

It's officially Fall in Iowa.  It's official because I say it's official.  In a hundred year old house, when the weather turns cool, you freeze.  I'm frozen.  The glitch here is that I have a rule for myself (and all the innocent victims who live with me.)  No furnace until November (if humanely possibly).  So, like a little cave woman I'm  huddled over the only heat source in the house (besides the lap dog)....the oven.  It's time to bake, get warm and put on my winter "layer". tehehehe.  

This bread is insanely delicious.  Bring over a crowd while baking because A) your house will smell divine.  B)  your winter layer will become extra thick unless you share.

Enjoy friends!

Lemon Blueberry Bread

1 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2  teaspoon vanilla
 1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Lemon Syrup
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
dissolve over medium heat, cook 3 minutes, stirring

Lemon Glaze
1/2 - 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted (or not, I forget sometimes when the wild beasts sweet children are begging for Lemon Bread NOW!!)
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
mix together
(if you start with the juice then gradually add the sugar you'll get to JUST the right consistency)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x5 loaf pan (or whatever size you have....I just wing it)
Sift the dry ingredients together, mix the wet ingredients together, combine.
Mix the blueberries with the tablespoon of flour.  Fold them into the batter. (GENTLY!  Don't beat the poor things to death or you'll have blue bread. Or on second whatever you want, blue bread is fun too.)
Bake 50 minutes (or 70...whatever it takes to get the toothpick to come out clean when you poke it), cool ten minutes then remove from pan.

Place bread on plate.  Poke with fork or toothpick about 13.5 times.  Brush with Lemon Syrup.  
Once, let dry a tad.  Twice, let dry a tad.

Pour Lemon Glaze over the bread.  As much or as little as you like. 


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Oatey Crunchy Coconut Cookies

I have a four year old who, everyday after preschool, asks what I did while he was gone.  He's not interested in how many signs I designed/painted/shipped, if I vacuumed or the seventy loads of laundry I did. He wants to know if I did anything "SPECIAL". SPECIAL = sweet treats.  And he wants to be surprised.  I trotted out a recipe I hadn't made in a while today....and half of them are gone as I type.  They are soft, crunchy, oatey, coconutey, delish!!   Enjoy!

Oatey Crunchy Coconut Cookies
1/c cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups quick oats
2 cups rice cereal
1 cup flaked coconut

In a large mixing bowl cream shortening and sugars.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.  Stir in oats, cereal and coconut.
Form 1" balls in hands, plop onto ungreased baking sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees for 7-9 minutes or til golden brown.  Cool on wire rack.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sweet Sticky Spicy Chicken

I think I've developed a pattern.  I eat....wait four months....then post the recipe.  Nothing else.  I stink as a blogger lately. ;-)  My sincerest apologies.  In my absence please enjoy the forty billion other blogs who actually make an effort.  Life has changed around here in the last year....I would never have guessed 365 days ago that I would own a business...and a business that is CRA-ZEEEEE busy.  Feel free to check that out if you's fun.  

You will be happy you stopped by today, however, because this recipe is the shanizzle.  Oh...and it's stupidly easy...and you moms know what I'm throwin' down...week in four million places at need easy.  You'll dig this.

I'm a fan of chicken.  Not much else in the meat world....but chicken, I can get behind.  Now throw the words, sweet, sticky, and spicy in front of it and I am a very happy chicken eater.  The level of spicy can be adjusted for your family's needs....we breathe fire around here...FYI.

Sweet Sticky Spicy Chicken


  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger root
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes 
  • ***(please back off on this if you don't like "heat"...I don't want you to injure yourself)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1/2 inch strips  (I use only meat from Wallace Farms...check them out...Nick rocks!)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  1. Mix together brown sugar, honey, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and pepper flakes in a small bowl.
  2. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken strips.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken strips and brown on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Simmer uncovered until the sauce thickens, 8 to 10 minutes.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Garage to Studio Remodel....The Beginning

Hello friends!  After a year of home improvement projects (kitchen and bath and an assortment of various other things) I didn't think my husband would breathe a word of projects for...well....into infinity.  WRONG-O. It's so unlike him. ;-)  Or maybe he's tired of paint cans on the kitchen table.  That's probably it.  hehehe

Out of the blue this weekend he said "I think next year's big project should be converting the garage into your studio."  Um....WHAT????  I'd been dreaming/planning/hoping for this project....but wasn't sure he'd ever be on board.  I think he wants a new garage....that might be part of the motivation.  

This last year I have been blessed with finding a path that I never really intended, but just happened to find me.  My sign painting business, Onion Grove Mercantile, has kept me busier than I ever imagined....and I love every minute of it!!  Well most minutes of it.  When I had one or two signs to paint it wasn't a big deal to work on them at the kitchen table....but when I have 40 signs to work on it becomes *a bit* of an issue.  A space of my own would be amazing....a space that can stay messy and I can dribble paint without panic.

So here she is friends.  Oh, and there are actually DOORS on this little barn....they're just all open right at this particular moment.  I'm thinking we'll enclose one side, install a window, then have a swinging barn door on the right side.  The little door up top there needs some work too....that would be neato with a window in the big space, and the window reinstalled above that. (Stained glass??  I really am getting crazy now!)

I sorta totally love this....I'm not insane though....there shall be no tiled floor in my studio, or curtains...but I'm really digging the barn light and details.

Here is all the interior beauty.  Can you see it?   Windows installed on the left wall there to let in some light, work tables, a big sign easel, paint storage......maybe a new floor?  This one is pretty bad.  You would think we've had a crazy earthquake or something...heaves like you wouldn't believe.  The space is really big though....would work perfectly for working on some of those giganto signs you folks come up with! :-)

Then there's this dilemma.  My husband seems to think...*rolling eyes and being sarcastic*....that this piece of junk needs to be INSIDE the garage.  Just kidding, just kidding.  I luvs this car....super fun to drive and I just look cool doing the baby needs a home.  A new-garage-type-home me thinks.  Sitting in the middle of my studio is just not going to work for either of us.

Currently this is the access to the long as I stay thin and sprightly this works...otherwise, uh...not so much.  I'm thinking something more like this would be nice.....along the back wall.

(source?...who knows...broken link on Pinterest...shocker, right?  I'm becoming a total Pinterest snob...I know, shame on me)

This is the attic space....nice and tall.  Swimming anyone?  The whole thing needs to be shored up, and the floor relayed...right now it's a bit like walking on marshmallows....and not in a good way.  A big hearty prayer before each step comes in handy.

ANNNDDD....the electrical.  Houston we have a problem.   Not so much problem in terms of *do the lights turn on or not*...more like *I'm afraid the whole joint might burn down if I plug in a radio*.

Call me crazy....but I'm thinking duct tape might not be an approved electrical component.

So'll have to listen to me blabber on about this project for the next year....til  next summer when we hope to get to work....and recruit the greatest contractor ever.  After the door incident though, I'm not sure he'll ever talk to me again. ;-)  hehehe 
I've got a year to work on him though.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Lonely Orphaned Sign

Hey folks!  Look, I'm still here!  Not much, but once in a while. ;-)   Onion Grove Mercantile is going a little crazy now....crazytown crazy.  A few pins by my magical  friend named Michael and I've been catapulted into the sign stratosphere....and let me tell you, it's a darn fun place to orbit!  Busy place, thus the lack of attention to poor ole Notes From the Heartland.  I've been learning lots about to stay to keep books (sorta) to NOT dip my hair in the paint EVERY.TIME.I.PAINT...I mean, not like that happens EVERY time....okay, it happens EVERY time.

This past week brought a new lesson.  Custom work is risky....unless you demand funds up front.  This poor girl pictured above is an orphan.  Painted, ready to go, never paid for.  Lesson learned...the hard way.  

But she's so lovely, I just keep moving her around my own house.  If you're interested in seeing the rest of the non-orphaned signs I've been up to you can check them out on FACEBOOK and the O-FFIC-IAL Onion Grove Mercantile website.  Talk to you soon friends!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Crock Pot Mongolian Beef

I don't ordinarily blog about food this often...but it's winter....and I live in Iowa...and I'm cold....and hungry.  So there.  Today is your lucky day though friends because I have discovered what may be one of my FAVE crockpot concoctions ever.  Crockpot Mongolian Beef....who woulda thunk it? Not I.  

Go forth...make Crockpot Mongolian Beef.  You can thank me later...oh and I like tulips and chocolates.  

Crockpot Mongolian Beef
1 1/2 lb. ball tip steak or flank steak (from Wallace Farms if you're nearby...Nick rocks)
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 sliced green onions
1 tsp. dried onion
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. white wine
1/4 c. cooking sherry
1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. molasses
1 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. red chili flakes
1/2 tablespoon peanut butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 c. cornstarch

1) Slice meat thin, put in baggie with cornstarch.
2) Put all liquid and dry spices into crockpot, add PB, mix well.
3) Add garlic and 3 green onions.  Put meat on top, toss gingerly.
4) Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours (mine took around 4).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Holiday Tour 2011...just a teensy late

Did you hear? Our home was included in the Clarence Friends of the Library 2011 Holiday Home Tour.  The preparation is nothing short of a type of torture that I'm SURE has been outlawed by the Geneva Convention.  HOWEVER, the benefit is that all those nagging little (and big) projects that had been hanging out there in la la land got DONE.  Go grab a snack, a drink, and some toothpicks to keep your eyes open as you peruse the next 30 something photos of the all its CLEANESS.  Did I mention I have an eight year old boy, a four year old boy and a 35 year old boy?  They all live the same the same time I had to keep the ENTIRE house clean.  I deserve a trophy for that.  Or a tiara.

Have I mentioned how much I love my kitchen now?  I'm going to share that love AGAIN soon in a Before and After post.   

The dining room.  I managed to hide my oakey oak dining room table...the hubster put the kabosh on painting or staining it.   Little does he know the plans afoot when he leaves on his next business travel overseas.  BWAHAHAHA.

Hedge apples....just because they're cool. 

God bless my husband and friend for lugging the cabinet out of the basement.  I love this thing.  Love.  The weight...well....just shy of elephant.

The $1 chair.  More on that to come too....I'm such a tease. 

So here's the deal.  When a person hides their oakey oak dining have to do something about those oakey oak dining CHAIRS.  Solution?  Hide them in the basement and scrounge the house.  I kinda love the bench there.  That might least until I find permanent "new" chairs.  Actually what I would sorta totally love is to have mismatched...just all in the same wood tone....or painted....

The den....because my dad is a genius bookcase builder.  Love that guy.

Master bedroom. Makes me want a nap.

Guest room.  Uh yes, I'm a ding dong and this is the only shot I took.

Back to being a tease.  This is the new downstairs bath....that deserves its own post.  Its own blog really.  Its own country to run to be honest.

Back stairs.  Do I have a photo of the beautiful front stair case and foyer tree you ask?  Uh no.  Woops.

Upstairs bath.  Artwork by a very famous artiste named Marshall V.  He was two.  Genius. Pure genius.

Boys' room

If you're still awake I thank you for taking the time to go through my virtual Holiday Home Tour. Oh, it's January you say?  Just pretend it's Dec. 25 and you're delighted to look at Christmas photos. ;-)
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