All Things Andrea

All Things Andrea

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ushering in the New Year

I've always wanted to host a formal New Year's Eve dinner party, but at this stage of life, most of my friends have family commitments or are just too tired to enjoy such an evening.  But, this year I was determined to round up some people who could celebrate with me.  I envisioned an evening of feasting with friends, much like what I look forward to when we arrive in heaven.  It ended up being only seven of us, but it was the perfect number for intimate dining.

The menu:

Flat bread with Parsley Pesto
Assorted wines

Main Course:
Rolls with Butter and Green Pepper Jam

Coffee & Tea

It was a fun evening - everyone was so relaxed and enjoyed each other's company   (Most likely the wine had something to do with that!).  I hope to do it again another year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Traditions

My mom used to bake Sand Tarts every Christmas - a fond memory for me and my siblings. After my mother passed away in 2003, the tradition was passed on to me since no one else in my family cares for tedious process of making cut-out cookies, even though they love eating them! I use the same cookie cutters that my mother used, so it always feels very nostalgic. These are usually the only Christmas cookies I get around to baking, but it's a tradition I enjoy. And, my family always looks forward to them, especially since that's the only time of year we get to eat Sand Tarts!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

2009 Christmas Memory Ornaments

My nephew and I had fun making felted wool scarves for Christmas gifts this year, and these two ornaments were made out of the scraps that were left over:

 Ricky made this one for me.

I love this little mitten ornament!  I had him trace around his hand to draw a mitten, then I shrunk the pattern down on the copier so that it was truly his.  :)

Ricky loves doing origami, so this dove became a perfect remembrance.

We also had fun making a variety of pipecleaner ornaments last February (during the Super Bowl!).  For directions, click on the Martha Stewart link below each picture.

My ornament collection keeps growing, so decorating the tree becomes more and more special each and every year!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Decorator Sewing

 Shirred Valance

Roman Shades on French Doors

Friday, October 30, 2009

I HATE Halloween....

I think it's the creepiest holiday ever....
I hate opening the door on a dark evening to who knows who....
And, I have to admit it annoys me that people who would never bother with me at any other time suddenly want to come see me just so they can get a handout.

I hate feeling like I have to pull the blinds and hide out in my OWN home.

I always feel like such a party pooper.
AND, there's nothing worse than a little kid ringing the doorbell even when my porch light is turned OFF, and me having to say, "Sorry, I'm not participating.  I don't have any candy for you...."

But, I was thrilled that my neighbor knows me well enough...

... to ring my doorbell anyway because...
... she knows I would love to see her daughter in her special costume.
And, her daughter was perfectly fine with the fact that "Miss Andrea" didn't have any candy for her.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Parsley Pesto

I was cleaning out my garden for the season and had a ton of Italian parsley left; I hated to see it go to waste, but what do I do with it?? So, I looked up parsley recipes on line and found one for parsley pesto. I made a bunch of different variations, before I came up with the perfect version. Yum, YUM, YUM! It’s fabulous and freezes well.

Here's the recipe!

Parsley Pesto

(Adapted from the following link:

4 cups flat Italian parsley leaves, washed and drained *
½ cup pine nuts **
½ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1/2 - 1 t. sea salt
pepper to taste

Process above ingredients in food processor until the pesto is smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Add more oil as needed to get a smooth consistency.

* Be sure to use Italian parsley – the flavor is much better.
**Walnuts are just as good – pine nuts aren’t worth the expense!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Quotes Worth Contemplating

"There's a difference between being on time and trying to be on time. "
Orlando, Massage Therapist at CTCA Philly

Sunday, October 4, 2009


"Be aware that it is possible for goodness to come out of this nightmare."
- Michael S. Barry, A Season for Hope

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Last Snips of Summer

Today my friend Rose snipped some of the final blooms of the summer and turned them into a sweet flower arrangement, intentionally bringing life and beauty into her day. So pretty!

The Serenity Prayer

The first part of this prayer is familiar to many, but few are probably aware that there is there's more:

"God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.

- Reinhold Niebuhr

Quotes Worth Contemplating

"What you eat is not as important as what's eating you."
- Mike Barry, CTCA Philly chaplain

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Undertow of Cancer

"Cancer is like being caught in an undertow.  Upon realizing that they are in danger, people usually panic and think, 'I'm going to die!'  Furiously they try to swim to shore.  However, according to the experts, they are the ones least likely to live.  Consider this advice:
When caught in a rip current [undertow], one should not fight it, but rather swim parallel to the shoreline in order to leave it.  If you see a person caught in one, yell at them to do so.  Floating until the current disperses into deeper waters is another method of surviving such a dangerous incident, but it may leave the swimmer farther out from shore.
Floating until the current disperses into deeper water?  Sounds crazy, doesn't it?  Allowing the wave to take you further away from the shore?  And yet, that is what survival requires of us.  How is that any different than faithfully trusting in God?  During the undertow times in our lives, our human nature is to panic and struggle, when actually just the opposite will help us overcome our problems.

The expert advice is, 'If you see a person caught in one, yell at them to do so.'  OK, so I'm now 'yelling' at you.  Calm down.  Lie on your back, so to speak.  Allow God to care for you.  Trust Him.  Don't panic, even though it makes sense to do so.  The ocean's pull might seem to take you away from safety, but it creates your best chance for survival.  Trust God."

- Michael S. Barry, The Art of Caregiving

Friday, August 28, 2009

God With Us

"God with us.  Don't we love the word 'with'?  'Will you go with me?' we ask.  'To the store, to the hospital, through my life?'  God says He will."
- Max Lucado, Cure for the Common Life

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Blue Ribbon!

I entered this quilt in the Etown fair this week. It represents a significant milestone for me – I had pieced this particular quilt when I was in the middle of surgery and treatment in 2007. Quilting soothed my soul during that season and probably did more good for my health than any supplement or pill I could have swallowed. I had so much trouble sleeping a lot of the time, so sometimes if I was wide awake in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep, I would get up and sew until I was tired enough to go back to bed. I had finished piecing the quilt and prepared it for the quilting process, but then folded it away and never had the chance to finish it once I was working full time again and trying to keep up with life. Then, 2 weeks ago I spent the day at the beach with my friend Brenda. I hadn’t been there in 2 years because of not feeling well – a crime for me because I love the beach! That day was so restorative and made me realize that I needed to make life-giving activities a higher priority in my schedule; finishing that quilt got bumped to the top of the priority list. I was happy to get it machine quilted in time to enter it in the fair (even though I had to stay up Sunday evening to get it finished)!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Banana Candy

My 6-year-old nephew LOVES dehydrated bananas - could it be because we call them "Banana Candy"??
I stumbled across a case of organic bananas at Root's this week for a steal and couldn't pass up the bargain. Needless to say, I have all the dehydrated bananas I'll need for quite a while! Just a tip - if you decide to try drying some bananas, be sure to use organic ones - the flavor is so much better!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

25th Spiritual Anniversary

My friend Rose hosted a very meaningful anniversary celebration this evening to mark the 25th anniversary of her decision to become a Christian.  She invited persons that had played a significant role in her spiritual growth over the past years.  The sunflowers are one of Rose's favorite flowers and suggest a reminder to put our hope in the Son.  What a special evening!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Book Excerpt

"God doesn't throw away His handiwork and start from scratch - instead, He uses the same canvas to repair and make more beautiful the painting marred by the vandal.  The vandal doesn't get the satisfaction of destroying his rival's masterpiece.  On the contrary, God makes an ever greater masterpiece out of what His enemy sought to destroy.
Satan wants us to give up on God, on our purpose and calling, and on our planet.  God reminds us, 'The One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.'  (I John 4:4)  Satan seeks to destroy....  God seeks to restore....  God will win the battle for us."
- Randy Alcorn in Heaven

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Entering the Digital World!

I finally caught up with the rest of the world and bought a digital camera today (after mooching off the research of a friend). This was my first attempt at a picture - oh my goodness, there's lots to learn!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The End of the Fruit Flies

Embarrassingly enough, I ended up with a nasty infestation of fruit flies this week.  I think I must have left some debris in the garbage disposal unknowingly.  Anyway, it was it was a pain!!  I was at my wits end - they got into some candied nuts I had made for one of my favorite salad recipes as well as my broccoli sprouts.  OK, it was time to put an end to the little stinkers!  I tried all kinds of supposedly tried-and-true methods to get rid of them, including trying to drown them in a solution of soapy water and vinegar, and creating a bottle trap with rotten a banana in the bottom, but to no avail.  But, I did find a successful solution - the vacuum cleaner!  Fruit flies can't survive the trip into the vacuum cleaner bag, so that's the end.  Period.  It's quick and easy.  It did take a few days to catch all of them, but once I sucked them all up, that was it!  I've been much more careful about emptying the compost bucket and keeping the garbage disposal clean, but at least I know what to do if I have a problem again!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Decorator Sewing

Swags and jabots mounted on a board are such a classic window treatment - they never fail to please a customer!

Roman  Shade for the adjacent bath in matching fabric.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Book Excerpt

"God wants to do more in your life than you can ask or imagine."
- Lynn Eib in He Cares New Testament

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Book Excerpt

"When my body is buried in the ground, I want all the angels to say, 'She shouldered her burdens with great strength, maximized her opportunities to bring glory to God, and squeezed every blessing out of life that her Creator intended her to have.'"
- Shannon Ethridge in Completely His

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pasta Fagioli

I came across this hearty soup recipe on the AICR (American Institute of Cancer Research) website, then tweaked it a bit.  They have a wonderful collection of healthy yet delicious, colorful recipes, and have recently published The New American Plate Cookbook
My friend Glo tasted this soup, and said, "Oh my goodness!  YUM-O!!!! Delish! Amazing!"  My friend Amy made it and said it was fabulous; her husband loved it as well.  So, you may want to consider joining the fan club for the recipe, the website and the cookbook.  :)

"Pasta Fagioli" simply means pasta and beans.  This recipe doubles nicely.

Pasta Fagioli

1 T. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium stalks celery, chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 1/2 t. dried Italian seasoning
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 t. sea salt
1 (15 oz.) can chicken broth
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (8 oz.) can tomatoes, chopped
1 c. uncooked whole-wheat rotini pasta
2 c. fresh spinach or Swiss chard, chopped
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans
2 t. dried parsley
2 T. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in large saucepan.  Cook onion, garlic, celery, Italian seasoning, red pepper and salt until onions are tender.  Stir in broth, tomato sauce and tomatoes.  Reduce heat to low and simmer approximately 20 minutes.

Add pasta and cook until tender according to package directions.  Add spinach, beans and parsley.  Stir gently for a few minutes until spinach wilts and mixture is heated through.  Serve with grated cheese on top.

Makes 6 servings.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Scottish Crackers

I was so excited to find this recipe!  I've been trying to avoid refined flours and unhealthful fats, so that means I've been cracker deprived for quite a while now.  These crackers satisfy that craving!  Plus, they're easy to make. 

Scottish Crackers

1 1/3 c. quick-cooking rolled oats
2/3 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 t. sea salt
3 1/2 T. olive oil
3/8 c. water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a food processor, pulse oats until they resemble very coarse flour.  Add flour, salt and olive oil.  Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Transfer mixture to a medium bowl.  Stir in just enough water to make the mixture cohere like pie crust dough.  Form the dough into a ball.

Using parchment paper, roll out dough to a thickness of about 1/8".  Place parchment paper on cookie sheet, and bake about 12 minutes, or until lightly colored.  Remove from oven and cut into 1 1/2" squares with a pizza cutter. Turn over the crackers and bake about 12 minutes more or until lightly colored on the second side.  (Do not allow them to brown.)

Transfer crackers to a wire rack and cool completely.  Store at room temperature in a metal container with a tight-fitting lid for 3-5 days, or freeze.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


"Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says, 'Oh no, she’s awake!'"
–unknown (from Rose C.)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Raw Milk Yogurt

It took me a while to figure out just how to go about it, but after researching on line, reading my Nourishing Traditions cookbook and consulting my friend Julia, a veteran yogurt maker, I finally attempted making yogurt.  So much simpler than I anticipated!  I had been wanting to make it for a while since I'm more and more convinced of the health benefits of raw milk, especially the probiotic benefits of raw milk yogurt.  For those of you who are squeamish about raw milk, the good bacteria in yogurt keeps any bad bacteria at bay, so yogurt is an good introduction into the world of raw milk products.  The probiotics in yogurt peak at day 7 and need to be consumed by day 14 to get the most mileage, so it's almost impossible to get much probiotic benefit from consuming commercial yogurt, thus making homemade raw milk yogurt worth the minimal effort that it takes to make it. 

On the big day, I heated the milk, put the yogurt in the dehydrator, then went to bed.
In the morning, I couldn't wait to jump out of bed and come down to the kitchen and find out if it worked.  It did!  It was like Christmas!  Only my friend Julia could understand my elation over such things.  :)

Here's my method:
Gently heat milk (whole or with cream skimmed off for butter or another use) to 110 degrees.
Whisk in 2-3 T. yogurt from a previous batch of yogurt or commercial yogurt.*
Place in a wide mouth jar or bowl with lid, allowing 3/4" head space.
Place in dehydrator; set temp to 100 degrees and allow to incubate overnight or for 8-10 hours.
Refrigerate until thickened.

Yogurt is so versatile!  If you drain the whey off the yogurt anywhere from a few hours to several days, you can create a thicker yogurt product with less tartness which works nicely in place of sour cream or cream cheese in recipes.  Simply line a strainer with a coffee filter, suspend it over a bowl and place it in the refrigerator until the desired consistency is reached.

*I like to keep a small container of freeze-dried yogurt culture in my freezer so I can make yogurt even if I don't have any yogurt on hand from a previous batch.  You can purchase the culture at Miller's Natural Foods in Bird-in-Hand or online.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Living Room Curtains

I finally have vacation time to use for something other than medical appointments, so today I took the day off (the first possible day in 2009!) to sew some more curtains for myself.
I was so pleased with how the silk panels turned out for my office that I decided to do the same window treatment in the living room, only with another color of silk.  This gives a nice uniform look to the front of the house.  Again, I allowed them to puddle on the floor to avoid the tedious process of making sure the length is precise.  I hand tacked a strip of floral fabric along the side hems to give the appearance of another layer of curtain underneath.  I'm not completely satisfied with the sheer Roman Shades - I couldn't find sheer fabric in 100% cotton, so I settled for a polyester; it just doesn't drape well.  But for now they'll do, especially since the fabric was only $3.00 per yard.  :)