On the Last Day of This Year-


I thought it would be nice to offer several tasty recipes for parties. My first offering is a really tasty cheese ball which makes either one large ball or two smaller ones. I should add that the cheese spreads mentioned below come in small glass jars with metal pry-up lids.


Cheese Ball

16 oz. cream cheese (room temp)

1 jar Kraft Roka Blue cheese spread

2 jars Kraft Old English Sharp cheese spread

3 T. wine vinegar

garlic salt

1 C. ground walnuts

Cheeses should be at room temperature. Mix all ingredients (except nuts) together well-mixture will be stiff. Cover and refrigerate until firm. Form into ball (or 2 balls, if desired), roll in ground nuts and refrigerate, again, at least 3 hours before serving.


The next appetizer is a wonderful Greek ‘tasty’-it’s flaky, buttery and has a creamy texture…all the things you’d want in a good appetizer!

Tropita (Tiropitakia)


4 oz. Feta cheese, grated

8 oz. cream cheese (room temperature)

1 egg

1 pkg. Filo dough

melted butter (about 1/4 C.)

Mix together Feta cheese, cream cheese and egg; set aside. Open package of Filo dough and slice roll of dough into sections, each section about 1 1/2 inches wide. Cover any unused dough with a moist paper towel. Unroll one cut section of dough, peel off one layer and place 1 T. cheese mixture at one end. Fold dough “flag style” (forming a triangle with the one end and continuing to flip-flop the triangle end until you are about 1/2 inch from end of dough-SEE PHOTO). Spread end of dough with melted butter then seal triangle together, using the spread  butter as the ‘glue’. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

This recipe makes about 60 triangles and you can refrigerate these before baking, baking only those you need at the time. They can also be frozen, then baked. Add 5-10 extra minutes to the baking time if frozen.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.; bake sheet of triangles 15 minutes.


Wassail Bowl (punch)

2 quarts apple cider

3 sticks cinnamon

4 C. orange juice

2 C. pineapple juice

a little brown sugar

one (or more) orange sliced circularly (not wedges)


whole cloves


Place all liquid ingredients in a crock pot on LOW. Add brown sugar, to taste, after adding liquid ingredients.  Stud orange slices on rind side of slice with whole cloves and float studded orange slices in top of punch.

Serve warm.


May I, at this time, wish each and every one of you:

HAPPY NEW YEAR! May your New Year be blessed with health, happiness and contentment.



ps:  We got another 2 inches of snow last night but that wasn’t so bad; at least it came AFTER most of the other 10 inches had melted away! I guess there’s always a good side to everything…you just have to look a little harder to find it!

Published in: on December 31, 2008 at 9:15 am  Comments (1)  
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It’s What We Do-as Moms


I have spent the majority of this entire day in the company of our middle son (age 19 3/4, soon to be 20 next Sunday). What were we doing, you ask? Why CAR SHOPPING, of course! You see, this son has been driving a vehicle of his choice since last summer; this ‘chosen vehicle’ had belonged to a friend of his from school who gladly sold it to him for a whopping $500; this was a Dodge Neon with almost enough rust to make a new shade of paint. Son happily poured money into this vehicle and experienced the ‘fun’ of many, MANY things going wrong with it. To name just a few: a major hole (somewhere in the floor area of the back seats) which allowed water to wash in, creating a mini LAKE; the back passenger door no longer shutting which required having to bungee cord the door shut, a major oil leak which required replacing at least a quart of oil every 2 days, turn signals which stopped working, both front door windows which decided not to roll down any more…am I making my point here? The biggest constant problem was the accumlation of much dampness/dew INSIDE the car (we’re guessing, from the ‘LAKE’) which made the inside of the windows freeze up (Oh! forgot to mention, the heater/defroster no longer worked, either). Imagine being in good old frosty Michigan with temperatures in the 20’s and having to scrape the outside AND inside of your windows before driving…and during driving because your breath caused more ice-ups. Sigh.

NO MORE! After much searching, and taking in mind son’s very small money reserves, we finally went on-line (www.cars.com) and located Volunteers of America. This place is ‘low cash’ Nirvana! (We had visited several used car lots in the area earlier only to be sniffed at when I stated: “We’re looking for a vehicle in the $2,000 range.” ) We test drove several cars, viewed a good 20+ in our price range (and that’s not counting countless trucks and vans!), and ended up with a:

1997 Pontiac Grand Am GT!

Features: Driver-Side Airbag, Passenger-Side AirBag, Power Locks, Power Windows, Air Conditioning, Rear Window Defroster, Cruise Control, AM/FM Radio, CD Player, Cloth Interior, Bucket Seating, Rear Bench Seat, Alloy Wheels, Tilt Wheel

Standard Equipment: Air Conditioning, 16 inch Rim Size, Power Brakes, Power Steering, Dual front air bags/active belts, AM/FM Radio, 191 Cubic Inch Displacement, Daytime Running Lights, Front Wheel Drive, 4 wheel standard Anti-lock Brakes, 6 Cylinders
Son is thrilled, car is in good condition (only fault we’ve found is passenger electric window doesn’t work…that can be fixed). Statements such as: “I have HEAT!”, “The windows actually WORK!”, “I can signal with a real, working TURN SIGNAL!” were heard to resonate throughout the house. I’m very glad that he has a WARM, DRY car! My Mom-job is done, for now (until the next time…).
total time for said ‘adventure’: from somewhere around 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.  Oh…and I did hint LOUDLY: “You OWE me!” so I was treated to one of my favorites: Burger King Whopper w/ cheese! (I’m easy to please).
That’s what’s happening around here this day;
ps: Forgot to mention-with all the above mentioned, they even took his old car as a trade-in! We were able to take the Grand Am OUT THE DOOR for $2,000  (they were originally asking $2, 295, so junky as it was, the old car served a purpose).  I’m still happy old car is gone!
Published in: on December 29, 2008 at 9:21 pm  Comments (2)  

Trying to Count Them All

Fifty-one afghans bound for Durban, South Africa!

Fifty-one afghans bound for Durban, South Africa!

Now that Christmas and all it’s preparations is past my next big project is getting all of the completed afghans COUNTED and PHOTOGRAPHED before being sent  on their way to the Key of Hope ministry in Durban, S. Africa. If you are a regular follower of this blog, you’re already aware of my afghan ministry; if not-you can check it all out here:


There are completed afghans piled all over my upstairs, some in bags- some in piles and they all need to be accounted for (just for the readers of the blog site…people seem to really want numbers.) For me, I’m just glad for each and every completed afghan as they all represent lots of hours and work from many, many dedicated people. Each afghan consists of 30 individually knit or crocheted squares; most of which have been contributed from people I will never know or meet. (I also knit squares regularly). I spend time arranging them into (what I hope will be artful) patterns: variegated square, solid square, variegated square-you get the idea; then I sew them all together. At this point either my dear friend “Momma” or I crochet a border on them, I knit a small pocket for one of the squares and place a “Teeny Beanie” toy in the pocket, fold the afghan and then it’s done! I’m not exactly sure at this time just how many afghans are residing in my upstairs, which is why I have to drag them all down today, arrange them and take a few photos before calling Dan Smither, who is the missionary in charge of “Key of Hope” ministry in Durban, South Africa. He and his family are home in the States  for the holidays and we will arrange to meet up for the afghan delivery (the good thing here is: he’s about 1/2 hour’s drive away from where I live). When I get them all counted and ‘photo’d’ I’ll post here.

Another project also begged finishing in the next few days: the bi-monthly newsletter for my special needs group (I’m the Editor). At first I thought: “Oh no! They have to be mailed before Jan. 1st!”, but then remembered that we’re not actually meeting until Jan. 7th, so I do have a little extra time. Don’t get me wrong-I love doing this, the only thing is-it takes a lot of time! We print/send out about 50+ copies every 2 months, which requires all the typing, choosing clip art, writing the articles, updating the calendar items/birthdays, etc. then labeling the envelopes, stamping and sticking return addresses, printing the pages (2 pages each, both sides= 4  printed sides per copy), then folding them all and stuffing the envelopes and driving them to the Post Office. In case you might be wondering: occasionally I get help from my youngest son. I’ve learned many years ago that I’m a Type A personality-the kind of person who just HAS to do everything themselves! It’s not that I want to be picky/fussy/detail-oriented…it’s just that I AM! This type of person has great difficulty delegating responsibility to others (boy, do I know that!), hence…I tend to do it all myself. (not for the “Hey, look at ME! I did this ALL myself!”) No, I just always worry that if I have help, something will be left undone, forgotten, etc. ….sigh.

I DID manage to get another small task completed today: writing out Thank You cards for the various lovely Christmas presents bestowed on me by various friends. I have been enjoying chocolate truffles (Mmmmm-YUM!) from one of the special needs kids, Ghirardelli chocolates from another special needs family, a lovely evergreen Christmas table arrangement (you have seen parts of it in my Christmas cookie photos) from several of the special needs kids, and many other lovely presents. I’ve decided that TODAY is “THE” day to get things done! (we’ll see just how far that goes…knowing me). It does help that there’s plenty of leftovers from Christmas dinner so that I don’t have to worry about what to fix for dinner tonight (providing they all want ham and all the fixin’s again tonight…three nights in a row! Hey, they can always have ham sandwiches! That’s what I had for breakfast: ham & cheese on a hamburger bun with a little horseradish sauce for ‘tang’!).

As usual, I decided to give you a weather update for our area: got up today to non-stop FOG! We’re under a Fog advisary today and they weren’t kidding! The ground here is covered with a thick layer of snow and ice; the temperature outside right now (11:30 a.m.) is hovering around 48 degrees F. which makes all that lovely, dense white blanket filling the air. It’s certainly different from a few days ago when it was really cold and snowing/sleeting/ raining. I’d rather have the warmer temperatures (but not the fog…I’m fussy). Oh well…it’s Michigan in winter – why am I surprised?

Going to wrap this one up and get started on my afghan counting!



ps: In case you wondered: THIS shipment of afghans all go to Durban, S. Africa because my other ministry to Ghana/Ethiopia/Sierre Leone is not in need of more afghans at the moment. (I am holding approximately 9 small afghans for Ghana, for their “Club Foot Baby” project.) The next shipment will be split between the two ministries; at present I’m not sure when the next trip to Ghana will occur. GRAND TOTAL FOR DURBAN: 51   (just picked up today 1/02/09)


close-up of one of the afghans

And NOW I can rest…some


Today is the “day after” Christmas; that day when most people either have to go back to work (for one day) or finally get to relax a little. My relaxing was sort of short-lived, as I had to babysit, but that was OK, too. I received a HUGE blessing today which was totally unexpected. To preface this just a little, last Tuesday evening I went to my Knit Night with the group I started. We had a good time, leaving at the usual time of 9 p.m. The weather was nasty-lots of wet snow, slippery roads, low visibility. Upon approaching one green-going on yellow-going on red light I decided to proceed through because if I’d tried to stop I would have either locked up my brakes or slid through (or spun out). I made it OK. When arriving at my driveway entrance (remember I live on a MAJOR highway…45 MPH in front of my house) I did ‘the usual’, which is make a ‘run for it’, gunning the engine while hoping that you’ll make that small incline which is usually just enough to make you have to  make 2-3 tries before surmounting it. First try-no go; back up and try again. Back up means to wait until there’s no traffic, then place your car parallel to any oncoming traffic and gun it. On the second try I got almost to the hill’s crest when I heard something go BANG! Sort of the sound you’d get if your car hit a big rock. I got out, thinking: “WHAT did I hit?”  knowing there was nothing there TO hit! Upon seeing nothing there, I put it in reverse and the car slid down the hill and stopped about 1 foot inside my drive (off of the major highway)…and would not go any further…neither forward OR reverse. I was almost certain I’d somehow blown the transmission. I went inside, got my husband and we both ascertained that we were pretty sure that’s what it was. I don’t know about YOUR area, but here a new (or rebuilt) transmission would cost in the area of $2,000 or more. To quicken this story, we had it towed the next day. I got the call this morning that they’d fixed it-all totalled: $276.74! I had to ask him twice just exactly how much it cost…all totalled! He repeated the amount then told me that the axle snapped in half…not the transmission at all! He showed me the broken part and explained that it looked like it had been almost ready to break for quite awhile, as the broken axle ‘shaft’ was all dirty, not a sheared off clean break like you would see with a broken metal rod.  He also said that he thought I was very lucky it didn’t break somewhere and leave me stranded (no, it broke in MY driveway!) The Lord knew that and allowed me that extra blessing of being SAFE and VERY CLOSE TO HOME! WHAT A BLESSING! My car now runs just fine and I’m extremely thrilled!

Happy “Day After” and happy Boxing Day to those of you in Canada (my father’s home country!)

Stay warm and enjoy!



Merry Christmas!


“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

May the love of God bless you this Christmas; may you have peace in your heart, love surrounding you  and may the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ bring you to new life with the celebration of His birth.

Merry CHRISTmas!




Many, many years ago I saw Dale Evans (of Roy Rogers & Dale Evans fame) on tv; she had a family tradition which I thought was lovely and it’s become a family tradition in our family as well:  baking a birthday cake on Christmas.

Published in: on December 25, 2008 at 10:19 am  Comments (1)  

More Cookies!

100_1458(Gingersnaps on left/Peanut Butter on right)

As planned, today is the last of the cooking baking and we now have two batches of yummy goodness to show for it. If you like Gingersnap cookies, these are the recipe for you: slightly soft, gingery and not too sweet.

Ginger snaps

Cream together:

3/4 C. butter or margarine

2 C. sugar

Stir in:

2 beaten eggs

1/2 C. molasses (I use Blackstrap)

2 tsp. vinegar


3  3/4 C. flour

1  1/2 tsp. baking powder

2-3 tsp. ginger (I use 3+ tsp.)

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground cloves


extra granulated sugar to roll balls in


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Cream together butter & sugar, stir in eggs, molasses & vinegar. When adding the flour, soda, and spices, it works best to mix all these dry ingredients together in a separate bowl then gradually incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet. The batter will be stiff. Form batter into walnut-sized balls and roll in granulated sugar, then place on  greased cookie sheets.

NOTE: If dough begins to stick to your hands, refrigerate it 10-15 minutes, then begin again.

Bake 12-14 minutes then remove from oven and immediately remove from sheets (if you don’t they WILL stick badly). Cool on racks.

Makes 5 dozen cookies.


Peanut Butter Cookies

Cream together:

1 C. solid shortening

1 C. sugar

1 C. brown sugar


2 beaten eggs

1 C. peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)

Mix in:

3 C. flour

2 tsp. soda

dash of salt


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

When mixing dough, it works best to mix the flour, soda and salt in a separate bowl then gradually add that mixture to the wet. This is a very stiff dough.

Form dough into walnut-sized balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10 minutes. (You should leave them on the sheets until they cool; then they are easy to remove.)

Makes 5 dozen cookies




Published in: on December 24, 2008 at 6:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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Time for More Recipes!


While perusing through my recipe file I came across this wonderful recipe for Tart Pastry. Now, I’m not a fancy baker by any means, but this recipe will make you look like you are! It’s very easy (If I say it’s easy-it is!) I received this recipe for the first time along with an absolutely wonderful homemade apple pie; the pastry is light, flaky and buttery; you can use it for quiche, pies, or anywhere you need a bottom or top crust. I’ve used it when making homemade chicken or turkey pie (use leftovers-it’s really easy…and FRUGAL! My favorite word!)

Tart Pastry

1 C. flour

1/4 tsp. salt

6 T. margarine (or butter) cut up

(1 egg yolk/2 T. water)


Cut together margarine, salt and flour until the size of ‘small peas’ are formed, then add egg yolk that has been mixed with 2 T. water. Mix together lightly and form into a ball. Press dough into pie plate by pulling pieces of dough from the ball and using palms of hands to spread into pie plate to form crust. Bake 425 degrees F. for 6 minutes. Makes one crust; double if using 2 crust pie.


Another easy recipe which doesn’t require butter or margarine is my Sugar Cookies with Oil recipe. I love this recipe because it’s quick, easy and tastes really good.

Sugar Cookies with Oil

Mix together:

2 1/2 C. flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

Add in:

1 C. sugar

3/4 C. cooking oil (liquid kind)

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp. vanilla


granulated sugar for  rolling (can use colored sugars)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

After dough is thoroughly mixed, pull off small bits of dough a little at a time; form into balls the size of walnuts. Roll the balls in granulated sugar and place on lightly greased cookie sheets.  Bake 375 degrees for 10 minutes (they will not be brown in color). Let cool and remove from sheets. Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies.  (I usually double this one)


Here’s an absolutely decadent fudge recipe; be careful-it’s really good and tempting (it calls my name: Make ME! MAKE ME!!!! You KNOW you want me!!!).

Fudgie Scotch Ring

1 (6 oz.) pkg/or 1 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 (6 oz.) pkg. or/ 1 C. butterscotch chips

1 can Borden Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)

1 C. coarsely chopped walnuts

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 C. walnut halves


Melt together:

chocolate and butterscotch chips with condensed milk in top of double boiler; stir until melted and mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat; add chopped nuts and vanilla; blend well. Chill for 1 hour. Line bottom of a 9 inch pie pan with 12 inch squares of aluminum foil. (remember you are making the shape of a ring with the fudge) Place 3/4 cup walnut halves in bottom of pan, forming a 2 inch wide flat ring.

Spoon chocolate mixture in small amounts on top of the nuts to form the ring. Decorate top of ring with remaining nuts. Chill in refrigerator until firm enough to slice. Cut into 1/2 inch slices. Makes about 36 slices.



When cutting the fudge, it cuts a little easier using a knife that has been dipped in warm or hot water then wiped off, first.

(If you’re feeling a little rebellious, you might chose to not form a ring and just do this in a 9″ X 9″ baking pan, making squares instead. It IS a thick fudge, so remember it’s a bit hard to cut-making it in a ring helps make the cutting part easier. )




Published in: on December 23, 2008 at 9:40 am  Comments (1)  

It’s a Start!


Cookies; 72 frosted & sprinkled cookies now grace a large tin in our basement fridge (to keep the cookie thieves away, for a time). Even though I’m still struggling with the ‘lack of energy’ part of this cold/sinus illness, I knew that time was quickly ticking away and SOMETHING had to be done to make a dent in the lack of Christmas cookies in our house. Tomorrow is another day and I plan to start working my way through the various family recipes I bake each year.  I tend to like recipes that make a large batch, so I don’t have to make tons of different cookies, I can just make 3-4 large batches and be done with it. One of my all-time favorites is my fathers Scotch Shortbread. Being from a Scots family (Dad was from Canada and my maiden  name  being Stewart, one learned quickly to savor the none-sweet buttery goodness of a shortbread.) I’m sorry I came to the idea of posting a recipe a day for the holidays a little late, but will continue sharing some of my family recipes with you as we go through this Christmas/New Year season.

Scotch Shortbread

1 C. butter

3/4 C. confectioners sugar

2 C. flour

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter and confectioners until fully smooth, then sift flour and nutmeg together and mix well with butter mixture.  Stir in lemon juice and pat dough into an ungreased baking pan. (I’m sorry I don’t have the pan size-I’d guess 8″ X 8″ or 9″ X 9″…haven’t made this in years.) Bake 20-25 minutes, let cool and cut into squares. (optional: sprinkle top with cinnamon sugar).




ps: You might wonder a bit at why I put ‘Being Frugal’ as one of the categories for this post. If you look at the above photo of the cookies, their shape might be a bit ‘telling’. I needed sugar cookies, my son’s employment (a large food store) had these as mark-downs from just after St. Patrick’s day and I bought them and freezed the box of cut out dough. It’s the very same dough they use for their Valentine’s Day and Christmas cookies. Being hard pressed for time, and with very little physical energy, I thought: why couldn’t I use the SHAMROCK cookies? It’s only our family eating them, anyway! Yes, I guess I did get a little overboard by coloring the frosting GREEN, but it’s in the holiday spirit and I thought they looked festive! A cookie under any colored frosting still tastes yummy!

Published in: on December 23, 2008 at 9:09 am  Comments (1)  

Face Painting & Hats!


As was promised, here is the ‘selection’ of images you were able to chose from Sunday when I was painting 200 children, several teens and one adult (faces or hands). It was fun, a little tiring, but I’m glad I did it.


More hats! The one on the left is now my #2 son’s-he’s the ‘no hat’ person, but needed something for his head because his car’s heater doesn’t work very well (he calls his car the “Mystical Icicle”, if that gives you any idea).  The hat on the right is for his friend, Richard, who loves anything yellow (and also loves hats); he was thrilled and amazed that I cranked out that one in about 2 hours.

Weather? It’s a balmy 16 degrees F., the streets are slippery, most cars traveling at 30 MPH, no matter what the speed limits. We got another 2 inches of snow last night, so it will take awhile for that to melt, blow away or just be packed down from constant driving. Not sure the wind chill factor today; just glad I was able to get the last of the Christmas shopping out of the way! Even got the Mail Lady’s banana-nut bread put in the box on time-YAY!

Stay Warm!



Published in: on December 22, 2008 at 12:30 pm  Comments (1)  
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It’s a COLD One Out There!


You KNOW it gets cold in Michigan; that’s a given, but when you look at the weather predictions for the coming week, it just turns into something which almost produces tears!

  • Tonight: (Sunday 12/21) Windy with occasional snow showers. Significant blowing and drifting snow. Wind chills approaching -20F. Low 1F. Winds W at 25 to 35 mph. Chance of snow 60%. 1 to 3 inches of snow expected.
  • Tomorrow: Intermittent snow showers, especially early. High 22F. Winds W at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of snow 60%. Snow accumulations less than one inch.
  • Tomorrow night: Mainly cloudy. Flurries or snow showers possible late. Low 3F. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph.
  • Tuesday: Snow showers early, with a steadier snow developing late in the day. High near 25F. Winds S at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 80%. Some snow accumulation possible.
  • Wednesday: Snow. Highs in the mid 20s with temperatures nearly steady overnite.
  • Thursday: Freezing rain likely. Highs in the mid 30s and lows in the low 20s.

I knew it was cold and windy outside earlier (when I went to the grocery store) because the wind almost knocked me down! It’s not bad enough that we have all the snow from the past two days, but add to that really low temperatures AND a very strong wind and you have the makings of one NOT SO HAPPY PAMMIE! (Sure am grateful and counting my blessings that we have a warm house, clothes on our backs, HEAT!, food, etc. I can’t imagine being a street person in this weather!




ps: Will post more on the Face Painting tomorrow.

Published in: on December 21, 2008 at 9:43 pm  Leave a Comment