Old School Chocolate Pudding

As a child I loved hot school lunches and especially the treats the lunch ladies made for us!  I went to school in a small town in upstate New York.  All of the grades from kindergarten to 12th were in the same school.  We had wooden desks and floors, big stone hallways, small classes and caring teachers.  Although I did pull a few pranks on my teachers,  I was the kid who put the tacks on the teacher's chair!  

Last summer my Aunt gave me a cookbook put together by the women in the town and in it was the  Avoca Central School 1950's Chocolate Pudding Recipe.  I remembered eating that rich, dense chocolaty treat as a first grader...so I had to make it for my family.  It is very different from the chocolate pudding they are used to now...it is more like a very moist lava cake.  It is a baked pudding with a thick chocolate sauce on the bottom.  Almost like magic the sauce you pour over the top sinks to the bottom and the pudding rises.  It will look like a moist cake on top until you spoon it out...oh my!  Then the chocolate sauce bubbles out.

It was fabulous!!!  I am sharing it with you in hopes you will enjoy the taste of nostalgia too. My family begged for more and agreed that is THE dessert for anyone who loves chocolate....

 Avoca Central School's 1950's Chocolate Pudding Recipe

1 Cup of Flour
2 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
2/3 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Cocoa
2/3 Cup Whole Milk
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla
2 Tablespoons of Melted Butter
1 Cup Chopped Nuts


1 Cup of Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoons Cocoa
1 1/2 Cup Hot Water

Mix flour, baking powder, sugar, cocoa, milk, vanilla, melted butter and nuts together and pour into a greased 9" x 9" baking dish.  Mix the brown sugar and cocoa together and add the hot water.  Stir and pour over the pudding mixture that is in the pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  As the pudding bakes the pudding rises and the sauces thickens to the bottom.  

I hope you enjoy this treat as much as we did!

Read more »


Fresh Living: DIY Memorial Day Barn Quilt

Happy Memorial Day!  I recently did a segment for Fresh Living and shared the how to's for the Star Spangled Barn Quilt.  To view the segment just click on the link... Fresh Living: D-I-Y Memorial Day barn quilt - KUTV -    Debbie Worthen and Casey Scott were so fun to paint with...I'm still waiting to see Casey's barn quilt!

I hope you have a wonderful Memorial holiday weekend!  

Read more »


How To Make A Barn Quilt

Quilters love their quilts...so much so that they will show them off anyway they can!  They look great over a couch or the foot of a bed....on a wall and even to decorate the outside of your home.  I'm not talking about hanging a fabric quilt outside...I'm talking about a barn quilt!

A barn quilt is basically a large piece of wood that is painted to look like a large quilt block. We have a long history in our country of hanging barn quilts outside our homes and barns. They were thought to bring good luck and prosperity. Some 200 years ago when there wasn't enough paint to paint an entire barn women would take a pattern of a quilt block that grandma had made and would paint barn quilt to hang on their barns.  It was a way to decorate their farms and also was a source of family pride.

Once paint was readily available and people began painting their entire barns, quilt block kind of disappeared.  In 2000 a woman in Ohio wanted to increase tourism in her state and started a barn quilt tour…much like our local Parade of Homes.  People would tour the farms in the state and view the barn quilts painted to represent the families who owned them. 

Last summer our family toured the east coast and mid-west and I fell in love with these barn quilts.  So much so that I had to come home and make one...and I haven't stopped!  They are super easy to make and are pretty addicting.  I find myself looking for new patterns to paint and ways to use them all.  

The first thing you need to find is a surface to paint on.  Some people paint of solid wood, but I love making my own boards because they look more like the wall of a barn.  So, here are the instructions for making a barn board.

How to make a Barn Board...


Fence boards 6' x 6"
Wood Glue
1" Sheetrock Screws
Eye Goggles
Pencil and Tape Measure

The first thing you need to find is a surface to paint on.  Some people paint of solid wood, but I love making my own boards because they look more like the wall of a barn.  So, here are the instructions for making a barn board.

1.  Decide the size of the barn board you want to make.  

2.  Purchase enough fence boards to make the size you want.
22" x 22"  - 2  Six Foot Boards
33" x 33" - 7 Six Foot Boards
44" x 44" - 9 Six Foot Boards

I purchase my boards at a big box store such as Home Depot or Lowes.  If you do not have a saw at home, they will make the cuts for you there.  Just look for a kind employee and have them cut the boards to the size you need.  

Once they are cut it is good to let them cure a little.  Fence boards typically come with some moisture in them.  So, it's good to lay them flat at room temperature before you go onto the next steps.  Otherwise, you will have gaps in your board surface.  (Some people like the larger gaps...but if you want tight seams, cure your boards!)

3.  Once the boards are cut, lightly sand the edges to smooth off any rough spots and to "age" the boards.

4.  Lay out your boards together, face down.  Make the seams as tight as you want them.  You need to cut two extra lengths to use as your back braces.  These amounts were included in the number of boards you needed to purchase ...so you should have enough ready to cut.

5.  Squirt a bead of wood glue across the back brace and lay down on the back of the boards flush with the top and the bottom edges.  

6. Using the 1" drywall screws, screw through the back brace into the the barn boards to attach it all together.  

7.  Now your board is ready to prep for paint.  If you want to paint on the raw wood...go for it!  I have made a few on natural and stained wood and they look great.  Although, the design is a little fainter on natural wood than on a painted surface.  So what you do depends on the design you want.

If you want your colors to show up bold, use a flat or a semi-gloss paint and coat the top of the barn board.  I like to use a dry brush for this and as little paint as possible repeating as many strokes as I need to get the desired coverage.  It is nice to have some raw wood coming through if you are looking for a more antique look.

How To Paint A Barn Quilt


Base Paint
Long Strait Edge or Ruler
Chip Brush
Foam Brush
Acrylic Paint
Frog Tape
Wood Stain
Two Dry Rags
Paint Thinner
Polyurethane Spray
Rubber Gloves

1.  The first step after you have your board made and prepped is to lay out your pattern.  Almost all quilt blocks are made up of smaller squares like in the Star Spangled Barn Quilt pattern pictured above.  This pattern has four small blocks across and four up and down.  The best way to get perfectly square blocks is to measure the size of your board and divide that measurement by the number of blocks to get how big to make your blocks.

Once you have your grid lines marked on your board, using a pencil and strait edge, draw in the lines of your pattern and in pencil, make a notation of what color goes in each section.  I have to do this for my sanity so I don't make a mistake and have to repaint something.

2.  Now that everything on the board is drawn out, tape off the sections you want to paint first with painters tape.  The absolute best tape for this is Frog Tape.  You can find it at most hardware store and paint sections.  I have tried every tape out there and the only one that sticks down to these uneven surfaces with the least amount of seepage is Frog Tape.  It is worth every cent!

If you are using a bold or dark color you will want to paint two or three coats. You can peel the tape off as soon as you are finished.  It doesn't need to dry completely.  That's one of the other benefits to using Frog Tape.

3.  After your barn quilt is painted and dry, use an eraser to remove any pencil lines that are still showing.  I love to finish off the boards with an antique look. To get a pretty finish, take one part stain to one part of paint thinner.  Wear rubber gloves and dip a soft rag into the mixture.  Wipe it on in a small area and then wipe off with the other dry rag.  Repeat until your board is covered and you have the darkness you like.  This technique deepens the colors of the paint and ages the base color.

4.  If you are going to hang your barn quilt outside, you will want to spray two coats of polyurethane spray.  This will protect the wood and the colors from sun, rain and other elements. If you are going to hang it inside you can skip this step.

So there you have it...this is how you make a barn quilt!  I hope you enjoy making these as much as I have.  Just be warned...they are addicting.  I have one hung over my garage, one on my front porch and one on my back patio.  I also like to use them for serving trays on my kitchen and dinning room tables.  They look great hung on any wall where you are wanting a big bold burst of color with major impact.  The only thing I need now is a big barn!!!  Maybe Santa will bring one this year....

If you have any questions, please shoot me an email and I will be happy to help you.  Have a great day!
Read more »


The Hum of Bees

It's been raining here in Utah for most of the past two weeks and everything is growing like crazy!  I planted a few flowers and my herb boxes last week and already have a couple of inches of growth.  If only Peter, the wild rabbit and his accomplices would stop eating the big blooms...we'd all get along!  I mean, there has to be something for the bees to sip on...

I have had this pattern drawn out and sitting in my travel bag for a couple of months just waiting for the perfect time to stitch....and I guess all of the rain did it for me because I finished it last week.  I love my wildflower garden and especially the hum of the bees.  They particularly love my husbands comfrey plant.  We can hear the hum of their tiny wings in when we sit out there in the evening and it is delightful. 

That delightful hum was the inspiration for this new pattern which is loaded in The Shop today!  If you are looking for a little project you can tuck away in your bag while you are out and about this summer...this one is super small, easy, and cute!  

I hope you have a fabulous Monday and a great new week!  I drew out my next hoop-art pattern this morning and am running to Jo-Ann's to get the floss.  I can't wait to get stitching again.
Read more »


Coconut Cream Pie Disaster Redeemed

I had the best Mother's Day with my children near and far...we wish they were all home for the weekend...but it was fabulous to hear from them by phone and to talk to our missionary son in Michigan.  Of course my hubby makes Mother's Day extra special by cooking all day for us.

This year he wanted to make my favorite pie, which is Coconut Cream of course...duh!  He didn't want my help at all.  While my girls and I were visiting in the living room, we heard several screams of, "Oh shoot"!   Tina asked him what was wrong, and he said, "Oh just burning the kitchen down."!  We looked over just in time to see him carrying a tray of flames out the front door.

It was the coconut gone a flame and it was so funny to watch him remain perfectly composed and calm as flames continued to burn and the smoke alarms were sounding very loud!  Bless his heart.  He just said he was testing the smoke alarms for us and laughed along too.  Then it was back into the kitchen for another try.

He made the best coconut cream pie I've ever had and the house smelt of delicious smores..or something marshmallow-y burnt...but we loved him all the more for the fun and laughs we had at his expense.  So to redeem him...I'm passing his recipe along for Coconut Cream Pie.  

Coconut Cream Pie

Crust :  3/4 cup flour
                1/2 cup chopped almonds
                1/3 cup softened butter

Put butter and flour together in a food processor and quickly pulse.  Add the nuts and form into a ball.  Press into a 9" pie pan and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  Cool.

Filling :  2/3 cup Sugar
                  4 egg yolks, beaten
                  5 Tbsp. cornstarch
                  2 Tbsp. butter
                  1/2 tsp. salt
                  2 tsp. vanilla
                  1 1/2 cup milk
                  1 1/2 cup coconut milk
                  1 cup shredded coconut

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Beat egg yolks and add milks gradually.  Add mixture to dry ingredients slowly, stirring constantly.  Cook over medium heat while stirring, until mixture boils.  Boil for 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and add butter, vanilla, and coconut.  Let cool. Pour into pie crust and refrigerate.  

Top with whipped cream and garnish with LIGHTLY toasted coconut!

You will love this pie!  It was the best cream pie I've had in forever!!!  Just remember to toast the coconut on low heat in the oven and do not turn your back for a second...or you'll have a firing inferno too!  Enjoy!

Read more »


My Little Bit of Heaven - Thoughts on Mother's Day

Every year Mother's Day comes around and I must admit it is a challenging holiday for me.   I was raised in a very broken home, in fact almost all of my memories of my mother came from the years before I was six.  After my parents divorce I had only a few brief visits with her and throughout most of my adult years, she has come and gone from my life.  I was raised by many loving and kind women, including my grandmother, aunts, and cousins...and a few strangers too.  I truly appreciate the influence these women have had in my life.  

So, as Mother's Day comes I choose to reflect on the women who loved me and not the loss I feel from not having the kind of mom I had hoped for.  Out of the many women who influenced my life, the one who has shaped me the most is my dear grandmother.  So for me, Mother's Day isn't just for moms....it's for grandma's too. 

For me my darling grandma was beautiful, graceful, intelligent and so talented.  Much of the things I love to do came from her.  She taught me to sew, embroider, write, love family history, make jam, bake, take care of animals, love birds,how to be silent in conflict...and when to speak, how to play the piano, velvet, and long walks in the woods.

She passed away a couple of years ago and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank heaven for her influence in my life.  Now I am so grateful that my darling children have given me the gift of being a grandma.  I used to dread the day I would officially be called "grandma" because I thought it meant I was old, but I was so wrong! 

Being a mother and now grandmother has given me a chance to give to my children and grandchildren all the gifts that were given to me...and some that I missed.   We play, cook, draw, paint, sing, giggle, give horsey-rides, take walks, and watch lots of princess and ninja-turtle movies. They bring us so much joy!

My oldest daughter Camilla, is a photographer in Washington.  For Mother's Day she gave me the sweetest gift of these darling pictures she took out in our field with her three little darlings.  We just melted over these pictures!!!  It's a gift I will treasure forever.   

I am thankful for the chance I had to be a mother and now to be a grandmother.  I know there is no other "work" we do that is more important than what we do within our own families.  As imperfect as we are some days, it is true.  I cherish each day I get to love them...they are my little bit of heaven!!!

I wish each of you a wonderful Mother's Day!  
Read more »