Aunt J’s Peanut Butter Cookies

This has to be one of the easiest cookie recipes I have ever found!  It only has 3 ingredients and is easy to remember, too.  My great-aunt used to make these, and when I need a quick dessert with items I have on hand, this is it!

This is the only recipe for peanut butter cookies I have used for the past 30 years.  Even as a young mother, just learning to bake and cook, this one was super easy with great results!

Because the recipe is so simple, it is easy to double.

Aunt J’s Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup sugar

1 cup peanut butter

1 egg

That’s it!

Stir together.  Roll into small balls and place on cookie sheet (lined with non-stick mat or spray).  Press down with a fork to make the design and even out the cookies. Dip the fork in flour if needed to prevent sticking.

Bake at 325 degrees for 5-8 minutes, depending on  your oven.

TIP:  If you want to make a double batch, it may be easier to stir one recipe batch at a time.  Then mix the next batch.  It seems to go quicker, and is a lot easier on the arm muscles!


Recycle and Upcycle Old Clothes

You love that old t-shirt or that old skirt. You don’t wear it anymore, or it is beyond patching.  So recycle it like we do boxes and jars!

Old T-shirts are a popular item to re-create!  We have lots of old t-shirts from concerts, from vacations, and even from restaurants, that don’t fit now or are past their prime.  They cost too much to waste, so my first project was turning 2 shirts into a pillowcase.  I simply cut out the center design from the front and back, and measured to make sure they fit the bed pillow or throw pillow.  2 t-shirts make a standard or large bed pillowcase, and 1 t-shirt is perfect for a standard throw pillow.

You can choose similar colors,  2 concerts, or 2 vacation spots to put together.  For my first pillowcase, I chose 2 concert shirts that had different shades of blue.  I used simple straight seams, keeping the seams as close to square as possible.  Tip:  T-shirt material is stretchy, so you need to stitch slowly through the machine, so it doesn’t get stretched too far out of the square shape. Guide the material gently, but don’t pull tightly.

Bed Pillowcase 

Approximate measures for a standard pillowcase – 20″ wide x 30-32″ long

  1. Cut 4 t-shirt squares (front and back of 2 shirts).  Leave plenty of usable space around the designs to allow  for seams.
  2. Lay out and measure pillow length, then pin seams and sew right sides together.  Front and back of one shirt will be side by side now.
  3. Do same for the other shirt and you should now have 2 rectangles.
  4. Re-measure to make sure you still have the length and width you need for the pillow.
  5. Pin one end (short side) of the rectangles together (right sides together), and stitch the closed end of your pillowcase.
  6. Pin each of the long sides together and stitch the sides of your pillowcase.
  7. Turn right side out and make sure all seams are complete.  Then turn wrong side out again to stitch a reinforcing seam 1/4″ away from original seam. Trim excess cloth.
  8. Complete your pillowcase by turning under 1/2″ hem and stitch.  Then turn under once more 1-2 inches depending on your pillow length to make a final top-stitch hem.  You can make this a narrow (1-2″) or wide (5-6″) hem depending on how much material is left and your preference.

Standard Throw Pillow

Approximate square size – 12-18″

  1. Directions are similar to the bed pillow, but you just need one t-shirt (front and back)
  2. There are 2 options – Cut 2 squares and simply stitch 3 side seams and stuff, finishing with a hand stitch or topstitching the open side.  Or, you can leave the t-shirt in one piece and stitch the desired square before cutting the cloth.
  3. For one of my pillows, I measured the length of the square sides, then turned the light blue shirt wrong side out and stitched down the 2 sides.  I then hand-stitched the top collar sides together, leaving the collar on.  I placed my pillow inside the shirt, measured to make sure I knew how much excess cloth to trim, and then stitched the bottom to fit the pillow. The remaining short sleeves were still in good shape, so I hand-stitched them and the collar to the outside, visible next to the design. I used a larger visible stitch with darker blue thread.
Front of t-shirt pillow

Front of t-shirt pillow

Top of pillow, handstitched collar

Top of pillow, hand stitched collar

Back view of top, with sleeves hand stitched

Back view of top, with sleeves hand stitched

4.  Reinforce the strength of the seams by stitching that extra seam 1/4″ from      the main seam.

These pillows and pillowcases are easy to wash and very soft and comfortable!  My next idea may take a lot longer to complete. If I ever have the time, I will be using a few more t-shirts to make a quilt.  Very ambitious for me, and I will probably do it in stages!

Nurture the Love of Reading in Children

Reading has always been a passion of mine, and my husband is blessed with the same interest.  We spend a lot of our time in bookstores!  I know my school years were more successful because I loved to read.

Reading opens up a world of ideas, places and people.  My parents encouraged our reading and I hope we have passed on some of that love of reading to our children.  Our oldest was reading long chapter books by the 4th grade.  Our daughter loved reading until a 5th grade teacher tried to control what she read, instead of nurturing her interest in reading.

In our home, we have shelves and stacks of books!  My husband and I collect many types of books, from classics to series to poetry to religious to children’s books.  We encouraged reading with our kids, and hope to continue to nurture that love of reading in our grandchildren.

WHEN is the Best Time to Introduce Books?

Now!     Mommies and Daddies!!  Singing and reading to babies should begin at birth if not sooner.  THe sound of your voices is familiar and soothing at birth.  During pregnancy, that growing baby is getting used to the rhythm and flow of your voices.  Your baby is learning to love the sound of your voices and loves to hear you speak, even if you are just reading a magazine article.  This is a major step on the way to learning to read!

WHAT Books to Read to Children?

Young babies love to hear simple rhythmic books, stories and songs.  They love to hear them over and over because it gives them a chance to start learning and remembering sounds and words.

When babies hear those words, those stories, see those books, they learn to connect them with a very special time — one-on-one bonding time with the most important people in the world — YOU!  Mommy and Daddy are Baby’s first most important teachers!

Bonding time - Holding and touching textures in a book about Tractors!

Bonding time – Holding and touching textures in a book about Tractors!

When you hold and sing and read to Baby, you are getting him ready to learn to read!

A List of Favorite Books for Children

I don’t sort this list by ages, because I don’t believe in limiting when kids like a certain book.  Many books are now in Baby Board Book form, so babies can touch, hold and chew!  As a teacher, I have taken picture books apart, laminated the pages, and given little hands a chance to hold, touch and turn pages. Then I could clean the book for the next hands.

Helping Baby hold and learn about shapes!

Helping Baby hold and learn about shapes!

Just to get the list started, these are some books I love and have shared with my kids and my students.  I ask you to add to this list with comments so we can share more books that nurture reading!

FREE book will be given  —–   Send in a comment on this post sharing your suggestion for a great children’s book or way to nurture reading in children.  One person will be chosen to receive a free children’s book!

My Starter List!

Brown Bear, Brown Bear                                       by Bill Martin & Eric Carle

The Carrot Seed                                   by Ruth Krauss & Crockett Johnson

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom                      by Bill Martin & John Archambault

The Giving Tree                                                              by Shel Silverstein

Goodnight Moon                                                    by Margaret Wise Brown

Green Eggs and Ham                                                               by Dr. Seuss

Harold and the Purple Crayon                                      by Crockett Johnson

Love You Forever                                by Robert Munsch & Sheila McGraw

More More More, Said the Baby                                     by Vera B. Williams

On the Night You Were Born (recordable)                         by Nancy Tillman

Poky Little Puppy                                                               by Golden Books

Puff the Magic Dragon                                                         by Peter Yarrow

Rainbow Fish                                                        by Marcus Pfister Herbert

Runaway Bunny                                                     by Margaret Wise Brown

Tales of Peter Rabbit                                                          by Beatrix Potter

Time for Bed                                                          by Mem Fox & Jane Dyer

Very Hungry Caterpillar                                                            by Eric Carle

Winnie the Pooh                                                                      by A. A. Milne


WHERE to Find Books?

The Library!      Go to your local library and check them out for free!  The following links are to some of our local libraries, with links to their children’s activities and story times. Some have annual book sales. The last public libraries link provides many links to locations of libraries around the country!

  1. Madison County Libraries –   3 locations in Marshall, Hot Springs, and Mars Hill
  2. Haywood County Libraries –    4 locations in Canton, Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Fines Creek
  3. Buncombe County Libraries –   Main Branch in Asheville, 11 other locations throughout the county
  4. Henderson County Library –
  5. Transylvania County Library –
  6. Public Libraries websites –     links to public libraries in each state, with links to local branches and phone numbers

Books for Less:   Wipe and clean before use.

  1. Goodwill and other thrift stores
  2. Yard Sales
  3. Flea Markets
  4. Independent and Used bookstores

Bookstores and Online:

  1. Barnes & Noble –
  2. Books-a-Million –
  3. –

Places for Book Treasures:

Book treasures that are out of print, rare or hard to find can be found in used book shops and auctions.  A few places we’ve found…..

  1. Tuten Penland Auctions – Swannanoa, Buncombe County, NC –
  2. Bookends – North Myrtle Beach, SC –
  3. Beach Book Mart – Atlantic Beach, NC – located at Atlantic Station Shopping Center
  4. Wolf’s Head Books – St. Augustine, FL –
  5. Morehead City Book Shop – Morehead City, NC –