June 29, 2010


As I was doing some lazy Tuesday morning blog surfing, I came across a very sweet video made by Jeana Sohn. I love the music and...well, pretty much everything about it. Take a look and see for yourself. http://www.vimeo.com/12660781

June 27, 2010

Mm Mm! Corn Chowder

We tried a new recipe the other night...Corn Chowder. It was SO delicious! I had the kids help with making the whole thing. My niece is visiting for one month, and I got her involved as well.

We used all fresh ingredients, except for the chopped tomatoes which came from a can. If it was tomato season right now, I would have used fresh!! I don't always take the time to get the kids involved in making dinner, but when I do, I realize how much they really need this. It's great for them to know that real food comes from REAL food. No, it does not come from a box, or a drive thru window. It comes from the earth. One of many things I want to teach my children..how to cook, and how to cook well.

Healthy food is life. Fake food is...well, let's not get all depressing, you know where this is going.

Here's the recipe.
Please give it a try!
You will not regret it!
It tastes so fresh,
and completely summery!

Recipe from: Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove Cookbook

June 25, 2010

I know! It's JUST a spoon!

Can I just say how much I love this bamboo spoon I purchased at Starbucks.
It was on clearance for $3.00.
I just had to get it!

I keep it right on top of my coffee maker.

I don't ever have to wash it since it only ever touches coffee grounds.

It's plenty long enough to reach way down inside the bag of coffee.

and it's just feels good in my hand.

I have this thing for wooden spoons!
I love the craftsmanship.
maybe it's because I have fond memories
of my Mom spanking me with one as a kid.
(ha ha, just kidding!)
Well, actually that did happen once...
just once people...
but that was old school discipline!

I am glad I bought it!
It has worked out really great.

here come the chickens!
Miss Nebby Nose
Miss Busy Body

They show up for EVERY photo shoot!
If I am outside...
they are right there!!
They only like me cause I bring them food!

Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Peanut Cake

I realize I just did a post about about making a friend a birthday cake, but...this cake cannot be ignored! It is a peanut butter cup, chocolate peanut butter cake! I thought I was proud of my red velvet cake, but jeez...this thing is gorgeous! (Especially to a chocolate/peanut butter lover like myself) I won't take up a lot of time with words, as this cake needs no words to describe! Just look at it and drool!...and plan to make it very, very soon! I will tell you that the cake itself is chocolate, and the frosting is made of peanut butter, powdered sugar, heavy cream and vanilla. It is positively to die for!! I'll cut to the chase and show you these luscious photos! The recipe and link will follow.

I found this recipe on a wonderful food blog called Annie's Eats. Here is the link for the recipe. annies-eats.com

June 23, 2010

Red Velvet Cake From Scratch

A few months ago, I decided that I would be the "birthday cake baker" for everyone at work. Here's how I came to that decision.

Our boss T. has always bought us cakes for our birthdays. He is a VERY thoughtful person, and we have all appreciated him doing this. Everyone has always been delighted and so appreciative of their birthday cake. All of us have gobbled up these sweet treats with no problem!

Well, the very last cake that showed up in the break room got me thinking! Looking at the cake, I thought...oh boy, there is nothing to this thing, it's decorated with bright orange and royal blue roses, it measures about 8x8 square and stands about 1 to 2 inches tall. Last but not least, I know this cake probably cost about $10 bucks. The amount of ACTUAL CAKE in this cake, was not even a whole "box of cake mix" worth...which by the way costs anywhere between 88 cents to $1.20.

OK, so enough is enough! I LOVE to bake, I LIVE to bake, I am a GOOD baker...why am I not baking my friends a birthday cake? And, why should the responsibility of providing a cake for fellow employees rest solely on one man's shoulders? That was it! From then on, I vowed to make each and every person/friend/co-worker and or boss, at my work place, a homemade cake for their birthday. First of all, I would be honored to do it, and second of all, everyone deserves a homemade birthday cake...at the very least! Wow, maybe that should be my mission in life....making every man, woman and child a homemade cake for their birthday! OK...getting a little carried away here!!! but I would do it if I could!

So far, I have had the opportunity to bake three different birthday cakes for friends at work. Today, I baked the fourth, and I think, maybe the most beautiful of all! I made a three-layer, red velvet cake, from scratch...and the butter cream frosting...from scratch too! I am very proud of this cake and I hope it is well received at work. I got to taste a bit of the cake that stuck to the bottom of the pans and it was DELICIOUS!! I could taste a hint of the cocoa powder that gives this cake it's unique flavor. Oh my gosh, I can't wait to actually get a WHOLE piece of this thing!

As I mentioned, I have made 3 other cakes before this one. I made a brownie cake for my Boss, T., a white cake with pink, strawberry frosting for my friend S., and a butter pecan cake with butter cream frosting for my friend G.

This red velvet cake is for my boss A. If she really likes it...maybe...just maybe, I'll get to be employee of the month! HA! HA! Just a little joke there!!!

Oh ya, one more thing, I need to make another birthday cake for Friday for my friend S. Oh...what to make???? I will look around some of my favorite baking blogs to find just the right cake for S. It may seem like there are a lot of birthday cakes coming and going from that break room, but it just so happens these last 2 birthdays were close to one another. That happened with the first 3 cakes too, but it's been about a month since I've made a cake for anyone. I think everyone is ready for something yummy!

P.S. Here is the recipe for the red velvet cake. I got it from the blog The Cook Book Chronicles. Here is the link. thecookbookchronicles Check it out! Oh ya, I forgot to mention that I decided to use a basic buttercream frosting on this cake instead of the cream cheese frosting that was in the recipe. I REALLY, REALLY wanted to make the cream cheese frosting for this cake! I know it would have been fantabulous to say the least! However, we have the world's smallest fridge in our breakroom...so whatever I make, it has to be something I can leave out on the counter.

Basic Buttercream Recipe: 1/2 C plus 3 Tbsp. softened butter, 1/2 cup shortening, 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, 2 Tbsp. milk, 4 cups powdered sugar. Mix well, add additional 1 tsp. of milk at a time if frosting is too thick.

June 20, 2010


I had a hankering for ice cream the other day! We went to a local favorite called Hank's. Hank's sells frozen custard and Mexican food. Yes! I know! What a strange combination! Who knows!?!?! Well, I looked up their website. Turns out the original owner used to sell hot dogs and hamburgers, as well as frozen custard, but some time in the 70's he switched over to Mexican food. The new owner has kept the tradition..and so the Mexican food lives on. This was only my second time at Hank's. I think I may have went there once about 20 years ago. I was really looking forward to trying their frozen custard, which really tastes just like ice cream to me! Anyhow, I was pleasantly surprised. It was delicious! The service was fast and friendly..the place was clean..and lots of customers! (a good sign). My oldest son got two scoops of "death by chocolate", my youngest son got two scoops of "cookie dough" and..

I got two scoops of "black raspberry cheesecake". It was sooo good..it even had chunks of cheesecake in it!

My husband and I both tried the soft tacos.

I thought they were pretty good. My husband thought they were "okay". At any rate, I would definitely eat the tacos again. They were very fresh! All of the Mexican food is homemade, which is a welcome surprise in this day and age where everything is usually processed and frozen. The photo I posted at the beginning of this post was altered on Picnik.com...I used the "posterize" effect. I love it. It could be an advertisement for Hank's. Maybe I should email the pic to the owner!

June 17, 2010

There's more to life than video games!

My husband and I have decided that as a family, we will all go without TV or video games for one month. Of course, the no video games is directed at the kids. My husband and I DO NOT play video games at all. We are allowing limited use of the computer...but NO games on the computer. The kids can look up "how to" stuff, or research whatever interests them. Of course, we need our email. My husband is a Den Leader for Cub Scouts and my older son is in Boy Scouts. And...we are still allowing Facebook and blogging. I am trying to keep most of my blogging to the hours when the kids are in bed.

Of course, the NO video game thing makes our two boys, ages 12 and 8, very sad! They have known for some time now, that it was going to happen. We decided our month would be during the summer running from June 15th through July 15th. I'm sure you can guess why we are doing this. We want our kids to stop depending on video games for their entertainment. They love video games and we have always restricted them on their use anyhow. But, when they are asked to turn off the video games, they act as if it's the end of the world, and there is nothing else to do! This is absolutely ridiculous! They will sulk around and complain of boredom until they are aloud to play video games again. Well, we have had it! Enough is enough. I keep telling them, there is more to life than video games! So now, we are showing them.

I want them to know that they can entertain themselves like we did when we were kids. And...if they get bored, well....oh well...they get bored....go outside, lay in the grass and look up at the clouds. Before you know it, you'll actually find that looking at clouds is quite enjoyable!
We are on day 3 of this experiment and so far we have:
played in the creek behind our house
went to the park and played on the monkey bars and swings
played freeze dance with the radio..(radio on, dance..radio off, freeze)
the game Battleship
the game Sorry
painted a skull and cross bone flag for the tree house

played with the Rubik's cube
washed dishes with Daddy
played hangman
read science and experiment type of books

did word searches
designed a cruise ship
designed a vehicle

hit some golf balls around the yard
walked one mile through the neighborhood each day
target practice with a b. b. gun with their father supervising them
super glued a broken Rubik's cube into a complete non-moving Rubik's cube
listened to the radio lots
played the clarinet, just for fun, not just to practice like usual

Well, as you can see, they have found plenty to do. We've had to give them suggestions and ideas though. I won't lie to you, it hasn't been easy!! My oldest has been whining about wanting to play video games or to just watch TV for just an hour.

This afternoon, while dinner was cooking, I showed my boys how to play jacks.
These jacks are mine and my sisters from when we were kids...

So they are the GOOD old fashioned jacks...

not those giant plastic jacks with the over sized rubber balls.
You can't even PLAY jacks with those new jacks!
No wonder kids don't know how to play with them, it is impossible!
I just don't get it!
Who in the WORLD design the new jacks and WHY!?!

So...we have many more ideas in mind for the summer:
-go to the driving range
-miniature golf
-public library
-picnic in the tree house
-go to more parks
-go tubing on the Clarion River
-go to the pool
-some cool craft projects (making chess pieces out of things found in nature)
-build a jig saw puzzle
-go camping
-bake cookies
-lay in the grass and look up at the clouds
-read more
-go get an ice cream cone
-go to the drive-in theatre

By the way, we have that book THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS and we are getting some great ideas from that as well. Now...I want to check at the library for THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR GIRLS. I've seen it before, but never looked it over.

If you've got some great ideas, I'd love to hear from you!!

P.S. I also wanted to mention..this experiment has made me and my husband spend a lot more quality time with our boys. I mean, we are always here with them, but a lot of the time they would be doing their thing and we would be doing our thing. It is really true what they say about the TV and the video games being a baby sitter. More so than you realize, when it is gone. Now...pretty much everything that they do, we have to inspire them to do it...give them suggestions...show them how...supervise an activity...stuff like that. Which...is A GOOD THING!! Now, of course, they aren't relying on us to be with them at ALL times..they do play by themselves or together, but now we are spending at least 50% more time with them doing these activities, if not 75% more time. After all, what is the one thing that children want from you anyhow...your time and attention. In the end, we will all be better for it!

P.S.S. It may sound like my husband and I have all this time to do nothing but hang out with the kids..well, that is not true. My husband works 12 hour days on an alternating schedule of 3 days one week and then 4 days the next week. I also work part time 2 evenings a week. Not to mention the usual chores we sorta split: house work, laundry, cooking meals, cutting the grass, grocery shopping and what not.

June 15, 2010

Cherry Freezer Jam

Yesterday, I was feeling kinda blah, so I forced myself to get off my butt and do something! I knew I needed to get my fresh, sour cherries made into jam...and SOON, before they got all mushy and yucky.

The first thing I needed to do was learn how to pit the cherries. On the Internet, I learned a couple of different ways. One, of course, was to cut them open with a knife and pull out the pit with your fingers. OK, that will take forever! The other way, involved using an opened paper clip as a tool...insert it into the top of the cherry next to the stem, swoop in and pull out the pit, stem and all. I had my doubts...but holy cow!! It worked like a charm!!

I was able to pit the cherries in no time!

I don't ever remember tasting freshly made cherry jam before, so I am very excited to try it!

Here is the finished product.

And here is the finished product with some fancy, dancy vintage fabric on top!

I am a sucker for reproduction vintage fabric...
and I am a sucker for jelly jars gussied up with vintage fabric!

UPDATE: I tried the cherry jam on a piece of white bread with butter, and...it was fantastic! I am so glad I gave this recipe a try.