Wednesday, November 30, 2011

So many books. . .

So little time.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Best Turkey Pot Pie Ever

I know that recipes for leftover turkey abound this time of year, but I made a Turkey Pot Pie yesterday that was so good, I have to share.  I found the recipe on one of my favorite sites -- .

If you have any bits of turkey left, all you need is a cup and a half (I used a bit more, just to clean it all up).  I had everything else on hand, too, all left-over from Thanksgiving.  I'll be making this again during the non-holiday season with chicken.
Turkey Pot Pie*

Recipe for double crust pie (10 inch)  -- I used the kind that comes in the red box:)
4 Tbs. butter, divided
1 small onion, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, diced
3 Tbs. dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
2 cubes chicken bouillon
2 cups wtaer
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 cups cubed cooked turkey
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Roll out bottom pie crust, press into a 10 inch pie pan, set aside.

2.  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add the onion, celery, carrots, parsley, oregano, and salt and pepper.  Cook and stir until the vegetables are soft.  Stir in the bouillon and water.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Stir in the potatoes and cook until tender but still firm.

3.  In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in the turkey and flour.  Add the milk, and heat through.  Stir the turkey mixture into the vegetable mixture, and cook until thickened.  Cool slightly, then pour the mixture into the unbaked pie shell.  Roll out the top crust, and place on top of filling.  Flute edges and make 4 slits in the top crust to let out steam.

4.  Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 35 degrees F and continue baking for 30  minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
 *Recipe for Turkey Pot Pie I adapted from

Friday, November 25, 2011

Stocking stuffers

Christmas stockings are a favorite tradition in our family.  We always find our stockings filled a mix of old favorites and new surprises.  For example, every year my kids will find a chocolate Santa and candy cane in their stockings and a supply of movie tickets to use during the year (my husband's idea).

It's always easy for me to come up with new ideas for my daughter, but my boys, especially as they get older, are harder.  So, I decided to surf the net and see what ideas I could find, and share them here.

One idea I liked that was repeated in several places was to come up with a theme for a favorite sport or hobby.  For instance --

A movie theme would include a new DVD, movie-size boxed candy, some movie tickets, some gourmet popcorn.

For the athlete, some golf balls and tees, baseballs and bubble gum and cracker jacks, wrist bands, foot powder!, a decal for their favorite team.

For the outdoorsman, how about a Swiss army knife, some hand warmers, and beef jerky?

For the teen with a car -- a key chain, car air freshener, tire gauge, car wax.

Here are some general ideas:

small flashlight

nail clippers

mechanical pencils

money clip

ear buds

cologne (small sample sizes are fun)


quarters for laundry for college students

sunglasses or strap for sunglasses


a hacky sack or yo-yo (boys will be boys)

fun boxers!


playing cards

Leatherman tool

dog toy for his favorite 'fur buddy'

If you have some suggestions, include them in a comment!

Monday, November 21, 2011

This morning. . .

I woke up to this. . .

. . . .and started making a mental list of my plans for the day.

*  Shop for groceries for Thanksgiving.  (I hope there are  still some nice, big, fat turkeys left.)

*  Take the Girl Child to horseback riding lessons.

*  Plan menus for the week.

*  Get out china, silver, tablecloths and figure out a centerpiece.

*  Clean off my desk and clean out my purse.  Because when these two things are uncluttered, it helps my brain get uncluttered.

*  Clean a couple bathrooms.

*  Make a chore list for my kids so they can help me get the house company ready.

So, in the words of a wise woman. . . . "I'm off like a terd of hurtles."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Favorites

Time to look back over the week and find the gold nuggets.  I always jot down a list on paper and end up with more than five.  That's a good thing.  Thanks, Susanne, for hosting! 

1.  High School teachers.  I spent a couple of days at my daughter's school this week.  Whenever I'm there, I am struck by how dedicated the teachers and staff are to the kids.  They go so far above and beyond what they are called to do as educators.  God bless them.

2. Free internet radio.  There may be others, but I listen to Pandora.  I've created several stations -- Country, Classical and an electic station labeled "Dan Fogelberg."  I just created a holiday music station.  There's a limit on how many free hours you get each month, but I've never reached it and sometimes I play the music for hours.

3.  A new closet.  When our son moved out, I gained an entire closet in what is now a guest room.  Yesterday, I put away all the tablecloths that have been stuffed in a cupboard in my sewing room.  They're all on hangers -- Christmas, Thanksgiving, lace, spring -- freshly ironed and where I can easily get to them. 

4.  Dinner last night.  The Middle Child is home from college, the Firstborn came for supper and the Girl Child was physically and emotionally present.  I made lasagna, salad and garlic bread.  We forgot to put the leaf back in the table, but it was all the nicer, all squished together.

5.  Laundry.  As odd as it sounds.  As my kids get older and I struggle with what to do or say  to help them through certain situations, I find some satisfaction in being able to at least provide them with clean, freshly laundered clothes to wear.  Clean shirt, clean socks, a fresh armor to face their day.

Hope you find much to be thankful for this week:)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day

To Dad, Grandpa, Uncle Andy, Uncle Dick, Uncle Bill, Matt and RJ ~~  THANK YOU

Love, Karen

Friday Favorites

I don't know where the week went, but here it is Friday already!  Looking back on my week, I'm thankful for so many things.  For one, Susanne of Living to Tell the Story.  She keeps me on track, focusing on the good things and living in the moment, with Friday's Fave Five.

Here are some grace points from the week.

1.  This week was about feeling connected to so many special people in my life.  I wrote a letter to a friend, talked on the phone with my brother, visited my aunt for a long chat.  My sister-in-law from California was in town and I got to spend time with her.  Earlier in the week, we celebrated a family birthday and I got to meet some extended family from Australia.  And today, my dad came for lunch:)

2.   Fall soups and stews.  I made a lentil and tomato soup today, and made it heartier by adding some elk sausage that was in the freezer.  It was delicious!  Elk is very lean and the sausage is flavorful and not at all gamy. With some toasted garlic bread, it made a yummy supper.

3.  This morning, I made a pan of lasagna for a teachers' conference at our school, and while I was at it, made two more pans to put in the freezer.  Planning ahead for busy weeks before the holidays.  I am so thankful for my freezer:)

4.  I saw Sarah's Key yesterday.  Such a treat to see a movie in the middle of the week and a treat to pay only $6 for a matinee.  The book is a powerful and moving story.  The film was extremely well done with Kristin Scott Thomas in the lead role.

5.   Finally, finally backed up all the photos on the computer.  Actually,  Firstborn Child did it for me.  Big sigh of relief.  I really need to learn how to do these things for myself.  But, in the meantime, I am very thankful for computer savvy children.

How was your week?

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Daybook

FOR TODAY, November 7, 2011

Outside my's a sunny day, but snow is on the way!

I am thinking...that today is my aunt's birthday  She blesses my life in so many ways.  We're having a party at my brother's house later today.

I am thankful...for friends and family who stand by me through thick and thin.  They're the best.

In the menus are set for the week, I went grocery shopping yesterday.  I'm set for the week.  Feels good.

I am wearing...sweats -- cleaning house today.

I am creating...a quilt.

I am going...nowhere until 4:00 today!  Gotta love days like this.

I am much snow we'll get?  Supposedly just a couple inches.

I am reading... The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

I am hoping...for a calm week.

I am looking forward to...the holidays.  It's all I can do not to set up the Christmas village right now.

I am hearing...Matt Lauer in Namibia

Around the house... The usual shrapnel from a busy weekend.

I am in Namibia.  I would love the simpler lifestyle, but not sure I could handle all that sand.

One of my favorite things...fabric stores.

A few plans for the rest of the week. . .a quiet week ahead, so I'll have no excuses not to get some projects done.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...from Auntie Ann's birthday six years ago.  The kids have all grown up so much since then!  But Auntie Ann looks exactly the same.  So glad I have her genes:)

Thank you, Peggy, for hostessing A Simple Woman's Daybook.  To join in or read more Daybooks, go here.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cake

I made this for my husband's birthday.  His family is not into traditional birthday cakes.  As a matter of fact, until I married into his family, I didn't know you could put birthday candles on pie!

This is delicious served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
12-oz bag chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, 1 cup of the sugar, and the eggs.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Add the sour cream and vanilla; blend thoroughly on low.  In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda.  Add gradually to the beaten mixture.

Pour half of the batter into a greased 9x13 baking pan.  In a small bowl, combine the remaining sugar with the cinnamon.  Sprinkle half of the sugar-cinnamon mixture and half of the chocolate chips over the batter.  Pour the remaining batter into the pan and sprinkle with remaining sugar-cinnamon mixture and chocolate chips on top.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Cool in the pan on a rack.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Favorites

Here are some of the best parts of my week ~~

The sunrises have been gorgeous.  This morning the eastern sky was all streaky in shades of pink and orange, and the trees were jet black silhouettes.  I wished I had my camera when I took my daughter to school.

My friend, Pamela, was in town all week.  On Wednesday we spent the day together. We had coffee and scones at my house, then went shopping and out for lunch.  The stores are putting out all of their Christmas stuff and it was so much fun to do a little Christmas shopping when the displays are fresh and new.  It's been years since we've been able to do that.  We shared ideas for stocking stuffers and those hard-to-buy-for teenage boys.

Getting organized.  I organized my Christmas lists and found a great website that has cute forms and tons of ideas on how to do this.  Organized Home will even send you daily reminders to keep on track.  They think of everything and you could plan Christmas at the White House using their system.  We've simplified our holidays, so I'm using just a few ideas, but it's a fun way to get organized and plan ahead.

A cancelled softball tournament.  Isn't that awful to admit? but I know I'm not alone.  We now have the whole weekend without any commitments.  Dan was out of town this week, so it's even more delicious, having all that free time.

Text messages from the Middle Child.  We text or talk on the phone once or twice a week.  Sometimes it's about school, usually he'll just share something like, "it's snowing!" or "physical therapy went great today!"  His arm is getting stronger every day and I know he can't wait until spring when he can throw at full speed:) 

How was your week?  If you'd like to join Susanne's Friday Fave Five, go here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November 1

My blog has fallen by the wayside for the past couple weeks.  It happens now and then.  I wish I could say that I've just been so dang busy, enjoying the fall season, getting lots done and saving up all sorts of good ideas to write about.

While I've been baking lots of pumpkin bread, doing some fall cleaning, and piecing together a long-forgotten quilt, for the most part the past month or two hasn't been exactly hunky dory here, at Over the Backyard Fence.   Life served up a healthy dose of reality that has been both challenging and humbling to say the least.  For a time, I shut down my blog, feeling hypocritical writing about recipes and seemingly superfluous things, when "real life" has been far from perfect.  I didn't think anyone would notice until a few readers asked why they were having trouble getting into my blog.  So, I 'flipped the switch' and opened it up again.  And I found myself sitting at the computer, staring at a blank screen, wondering what on earth could I write about?

Claudia at Mockingbird Hill Cottage, hosts a meme called Reality Thursday.  It's a chance to let down your hair, so to speak, and post pictures of real life -- the messy desk, the disaster in the kitchen rather than the perfect recipe, the incomplete project -- instead of what we typically show on our blogs.  I like that.  Heaven knows, most bloggers don't blog to show that life can be lived perfectly. 

However, I do think that most of the time I want  my blog to celebrate the blessings in my life and to look for the roses among the thorns. Susanne, at Living to Tell the Story, hosts Friday Fave 5, a week-end meme that challenges us to find and name the good things that happened throughout our week.  As I've participated in this for the over a year now, I find that in the midst of my week I'm noticing more and more things to add to my list of five.

I've missed writing on my blog and the 'good energy' that flows from it, in the form of my blogging buddies.   The following quote sums it up better than I can.

Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviors. Keep your behaviors positive because your behaviors become your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.  ~~~Gandhi