Monday, January 18, 2010

Sweater Dress Heaven and Posing for Pictures

I found this lovely hand-knit sweater dress at an estate sale. The cashier told me that the lady's mother-in-law had made it for her but she never wore it because it wasn't her color. I wore it out for the first time today, and the first place I went I got complimented specifically on the color of the dress. I thought that was amusing. It was almost as amusing as the second place I went where the lady told me that I look like the winner of the biggest loser show in this dress. She said, "She was little like you at the end of the show!" I guess I need to wear this more often!

My Mom shared a lot of old photographs with me when I was home for the holidays, along with the stories about my grandmother that I cherish so much. She told me that my grandmother always posed like this in pictures. I think that is so cute and feminine, so i tried to copy her in my photo above.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My favorite colors

These are mostly kitchen, but they are ending up all over my house lately too.

This is a fun place to play with color, as was suggested by Amanda.

My Ancestors

I am the descendant of John Baxter, who died in a duel on the street and has a town in Kansas named after him. This info is from the Baxter Springs Heritage Center & Museum

Settlement within the Cherokee Neutral Lands was restricted to Cherokee settlement. Homesteading was not an option available to land-hungry settlers. However, there was little authority present that could prevent white settlers from entering the Neutral Lands. The law, however, was circumvented. And a few trespassers did venture into the lands intent on setting claim to choice lands.
John Baxter, a resident of neighboring Newton County, Missouri entered the Neutral Lands and lay claim to lands west of Spring River. The year was assumed to be 1849. The exact date is questionable. Baxter was an intriguing character. He had an extremely large, extended family. His eight children had a wide span in ages. Baxter was a self-proclaimed minister, a practitioner of a phenomena called Spiritualism. Largely unknown to the rural Newton County farm families, Baxter and his family were a subject of curiosity.
Wiley Britton, who, as a neighbor boy of the Baxter's, recalled the mysterious Baxter and his family. He described the family as being "enlivened, intelligent, and very liberal for this region. Baxter was an adherent of Universalism who conducted religious services from his home. Baxter was a man of considerable force of character living among us and was distinctly beneficial in bringing about broader religious and political toleration among the people of Newton County.
The Baxters were all extremely talented. They provided newspapers and books which were made available to the community. They possessed an organ. All could sing and would entertain local guests frequently. Great conversationalists, the Baxters were certainly a culturally advanced family compared to their farm neighbors." It is uncertain for what reason, the Baxters elected to depart their Newton County home to move to the Neutral Lands. Perhaps the lure of free lands encouraged their relocation west of the Missouri line.
John Baxter and his large family found land just west of Spring River that they deemed to be attractive and claimed this for themselves. Their claim was entirely illegal, but there was little reason for them to fear being removed from the Neutral Lands.
A small creek fed by numerous springs, one being highly mineral in content, dotted the hillside across from site chosen for the homestead. Abundant timber was found all along Spring River to their east. The homestead lay east of the Military Road which linked Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas to Ft. Gibson, Indian Territory or Cherokee Nation.
The Military Road had originally been surveyed to pass to the east near Spring River and Lowell but its course was altered to the west. John Baxter built his home strategically adjacent to the Road. The springs below his home provided a natural campsite for passers-by. The military convoys frequently traveled the length of the road.
Since no other business ventures were found nearby, Baxter established a mercantile of sorts to cater to the needs of those traveling by. His business came to be known as "Baxter's Place." The Baxter business became a popular wayside stop on the Ft. Leavenworth to Ft. Gibson road.
The Baxters were not the only white settlers to take up residence in the Neutral Lands. Another settler by the uncertain name of Rogers or Commons had claimed land on the east side of Spring River. Both families resided near one another, Spring River being a dividing line of sorts. A disagreement arose, however, between the above named individual and a daughter of Baxter over a disputed land claim. Baxter and his son ventured across Spring River to confront the adversary over the "ownership" of the disputed property.
Commons and his family were waiting in their cabin when the Baxters approached. Upon reaching the cabin, civil talk increased into rage, and ultimately shots were fired. The lifeless body of John Baxter lay on the ground. His son continued the volley and killed the son of Commons. The date was December 20, 1860.
The patriarch of the Baxter family was gone. The Baxter era was also over. The entire family departed their homestead in the Cherokee Neutral Lands. Their only vestige of the years spent in this location was the cabin and the grave of the head of the Baxter
The land which John Baxter claimed as his own and the springs that faced his cabin have given rise to the name of the town that we know today as Baxter Springs, Kansas.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Vintage Records

Alec and I love to listen to vintage records while relaxing at home. I was telling my Mother today about some awesome records I found at an estate sale and how I got two 101 strings records to add to our collection of those and she remembered the coolest thing! She said her parents walked into a hardware store in 60's and there was a 101 strings record playing on one of the old console stereos there and my grandfather loved the records so much he bought the player and the record. I never got to know him, and my grandmother passed away when I was 12 so it made me so happy to have this connection! Here are a few of the 101 strings that we own:

The best thing about these, other than how great they sound, is that you can usually find them for 99 cents at used books stores all of the time. Here's a sample of one of the tracks:

Pesto Lasagna with Spinach and Mushrooms

I have been a little crock pot obsessed this week. I made this lasagna recipe from cooking light that has been my favorite for years. It is a little complicated but so worth it if you have the time. Both the photo and recipe are from Cooking Light. You can click through to their site from the title of this blog post.

No-boil lasagna noodles are perfect for this recipe, as they absorb all the juices that accumulate in the crockpot. Use 2 (10-ounce) packages of frozen chopped spinach in place of fresh, if you prefer. Also, any mushroom will work.

Yield: 8 servings

* 4 cups torn spinach
* 2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
* 1/2 cup commercial pesto
* 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
* 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded provolone cheese
* 1 (15-ounce) carton fat-free ricotta cheese
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten
* 3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
* 1 (25.5-ounce) bottle fat-free tomato-basil pasta sauce
* 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
* Cooking spray
* 1 (8-ounce) package precooked lasagna noodles (12 noodles)


Arrange the spinach in a vegetable steamer; steam, covered, 3 minutes or until spinach wilts. Drain, squeeze dry, and coarsely chop. Combine spinach, mushrooms, and pesto in a medium bowl, stirring to combine; set aside.

Combine mozzarella, provolone, ricotta, and beaten egg in a medium bowl, stirring well to combine. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan, and set aside. Combine the pasta sauce and the tomato sauce in a medium bowl.

Spread 1 cup pasta sauce mixture in the bottom of a 6-quart oval electric slow cooker coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over pasta sauce mixture; top with 1 cup cheese mixture and 1 cup spinach mixture. Repeat the layers, ending with spinach mixture. Arrange 3 noodles over spinach mixture; top with remaining 1 cup cheese mixture and 1 cup pasta sauce mixture. Place remaining 3 noodles over sauce mixture; spread remaining sauce mixture over noodles. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan. Cover with lid; cook on LOW 5 hours or until done.
Nutritional Information

Calories: 398 (41% from fat)
Fat: 18.2g (sat 7.8g,mono 6.6g,poly 2.3g)
Protein: 22.2g
Carbohydrate: 38.5g
Fiber: 2g
Cholesterol: 56mg
Iron: 2.8mg
Sodium: 1036mg
Calcium: 407mg

Smitten Kitchen's Yummy Brisket

Since this is my last week of freedom before returning to the grind that will be my life for the next year, I've been celebrating by cooking really decadent meals at home. This brisket turned out so good we ate it for 3 solid days without one complaint about leftovers. Alec and I made this southwestern pulled brisket in the crock pot and it cooked while we slept. I wanted to cook it the whole 10 hours because our grocery store didn't have a 3 lb brisket. The smallest they had was 5lb! I cooked it for 10 hours and kept it on keep warm another hour. I modified the slaw recipe to just be cabbage, cilantro, and red wine vinegar since we don't like raw onions or mayo around here. We served ours on warmed up corn tortillas with a half a grapefruit from the valley on the side and it was a delicious brunch! Not to mention how wonderful the house smelled.

Find the original recipe and more lovely photos here:

(image borrowed from Smitten Kitchen blog)

Monday, January 4, 2010

South Texas

Alec and I took a trip to South Texas for New Years. We watched a beautiful sunset on the way down.

My hiking goal was to "see" Mexico. The river behind us is the Rio Grande and Mexico is just beyond. The khaki pants are supposed to help the mosquitoes leave you alone. I'm told they are attracted to darker colors. They were definitely attacking Alec's arms more than mine so maybe there is something to that.

Border Patrol!

Isn't this an amazing storm front?

Crafty with Eric!

My awesome friend Eric came to visit after Christmas and we had some time to be crafty together. It was a craft explosion in my dining room and so much fun! I wish he could live nearby.

He made me this beautiful card. The scan really doesn't do the colors justice. I keeep it on my desk so Eric can make me smile every day. :)