Bakin’ Up a Storm!

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Today is ‘Baking Day’ at my house; you see, tomorrow is my day to bring snacks to my Sunday School class. This time it seems I’ve struck on a Cinnamon Craze, of sorts. I didn’t plan it this way, but I guess it’s a nice theme (in case you’re wondering, No, we don’t have to have a theme for our snack donations!) I just finished reading a rather good murder mystery which takes place in a tea shop/cafe which also serves light lunches. At the back of the book was a recipe for Cinnamon Raisin Muffins, so I gave that one a try. Next came a recipe I’ve used many times before: Butter Cinnamon Coffee Cake. I love the taste of this cake, HOWEVER it drives me nuts because after baking it (in whatever pan I chose, be it 9 X 13 or a bundt pan) and no matter how much I spray or wipe with cooking oil…it sticks to the pan! (Yes, I’ve also tried lightly dusting with flour after the cooking spray…and even tried baking it in a dry pan once…that was a disaster!) The cake has a really nice buttery, cinnamony (is that a word?) taste, so I keep making it as people seem to really like it…it just doesn’t look that great when you serve it! (sigh)

My third offering was a bit different-Raspberry muffins. This time I cheated a bit and used the Jiffy Raspberry Muffin mix but after putting the batter in the muffin papers, I dotted the tops of each muffin with about a 1/4 tsp. of raspberry jelly; I just checked them in the oven and they’re lookin’ good! Our Sunday school class has about 40 ‘regulars’ (couples in their 50’s and some early 60’s) and we definitely love to have a nice snack with coffee before class.  In case you might want to try an easy and quick coffee cake recipe:

12111124263wpkbo2Butter Cinnamon Coffee Cake

1 box white or yellow cake mix

1/2 C. sugar

2 T. cinnamon (or more, if desired)

1/2 C. margarine

(about  1/2 – 3/4 C. chopped walnuts, optional)

Prepare cake mix according to box directions. Pour batter into 9 X 13 baking pan. Mix cinnamon and sugar in a bowl, then sprinkle cinnamon mixture over top of batter. Cut margarine into about 8 T. and dot top of cake with margarine: one T. in each corner, and 4 in middle of cake. While baking, the margarine will pull the cinnamon mixture down through the cake.

Bake 350 degrees, 35-40 min. until  a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean. Let cool before slicing/serving.

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Our weather has been really strange the past few days; yesterday it was in the 30’s a lightly snowing. Today it’s around 18 degrees and sunny! Yep, that’s Michigan for ya: Don’t like the weather? Hang around for about an hour and it will change!

Tonight is our church’s Wild Game Dinner and I’m trying to remember to REST as much as possible right now, as I’ll be scurrying around and on my feet all night (4 p.m.-around 9 p.m.). May I remind you, these feet aren’t as young as they used to be and DEFINITELY are not used to being stood on for many hours…(not gettin’ any younger here, sigh). I love the volunteering part of this project so that makes it all worth it. So far today I’ve had a nice, easy morning finishing up another afghan, so I workin’ on the rest part. (When I finish this post I have to jump in my car and dash to the grocery store-forgot to buy some little paper plates for the coffee cake…normally I wouldn’t care much and probably serve the snack on paper napkins, but this cake did what I told you earlier and is quite crumbly…paper plates are in order here.)

Take time to relax a little and enjoy your day…whatever the weather!

Hugs;

Pammie


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Published in: on February 28, 2009 at 1:01 pm  Comments (4)  
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Taking the Time!

1206551158otdo4b11208929732yr84q01 Today it’s a glorious 37 degrees out and very sunny! On my quick trip to the bank and drug store I was able to stop for a brief minute to listen…what’s that I hear? It sounds like a Cardinal! Oh, the glories of hearing harbingers of Spring! When I got home and got out of my car another sound tickled my ears…it’s a Robin! Now THERE’S a definite sign of Spring! It’s tradition, here in Michigan, to try to be the first person to spot a Robin; it makes the day better just looking outside and seeing either the bright crimson color of a male Cardinal or the flaming red chest of a male Robin! Spring’s coming…YAY!

Be sure to stop for a moment and enjoy your day…it’s such a blessing!

Hugs;

Pammie

Published in: on February 26, 2009 at 10:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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Another “Wild” Week

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Just when I think that it’s going to be a rather calm week, along comes the ‘calendar fillers’ and turns my days into BUSY ones! Let’s see…worked on the special needs group’s bi-monthly newsletter; got that mailed out this morning (45+ copies), babysat grandson for 8 1/2 hours yesterday (that was fun); visited the grocery store several times for forgotten items (I usually don’t do this-try to bundle trips together in same area to save on gas); visited the library and post office; tonight is special needs group, tomorrow is taking taxes in to be done then babysitting for a short while; Friday is getting my eyes dialated for an opthamological exam, then visiting with youngest son’s teacher, then the special needs group’s gym night. Saturday finds me baking special sunday school snacks (for Sunday), coloring my hair (it really needs it!) then working our church’s Wild Game Dinner from 4 p.m. until around 9 p.m.  I love doing that; my job is working the food serving line and also cutting pies. The pie part is great! I get to sample great pies and sometimes even get the recipe if it’s really great. Yes, this isn’t the place a diabetic should be, but since I’m ‘diet and exercise’ controlled (no medications), I figure it’s only once a year and I’m pretty good for the rest of it, so it’s a ‘Go’, in moderation. Last year there were wonderful raspberry pies (My all-time favorite), and also pecan (another fav) but I think the very best was a chocolate pie (I still have to get the recipe); she said that it’s like making a pecan pie only using chocolate. Sounded good, but I still don’t exactly ‘get’ what she meant…have to research that further (and maybe share the recipe here!). Sunday is church, as usual and, I’m guessing, a nice long afternoon nap before going to choir practice at 4:45.  That’s my crazy week THIS week. Sorry I haven’t ‘blogged’ more, but am just trying to keep ‘above water, paddling as fast as I can!

Also returned two more books to the library (read each one in a day…love the author!) I’m currently working my way through the author:  William Bernhardt and also another author: M.C. Beaton; both are murder/mystery writers. Just checked out Bernhardt’s “Capitol Conspiracy” and am trying a new (to me) author: Laura Childs (the book is: “The Silver Needle Murder” -I read the first 5 chapters on my mystery blog:

http://www.dearreader.com

I would highly recommend this blog; you choose the type of books you like to read and they will email you (Mon.-Friday) a portion of the book and then at the end of that week you can decide if you’d like to purchase the book (or, in my case, I just get them at the library). There’s no obligations, no cost to join-it’s all free and if you don’t want to read the book featured that week, you just hit the ‘delete’ key! Simple, easy and fun. I’ve read quite a few books after starting them through DearReader and learned about new authors I previously didn’t know existed! The lady who runs/owns the sight is Suzanne Beacher, a real dear-great sense of humor, very generous and caring person. Don’t remember the exact ‘product’ who’s slogan was: “Try it! You’ll LIKE it!” but it definitely fits here.

Now I’m off here as I still have to type up the business meeting notes from my special needs group (I’m on the board).

Have a great week and enjoy any rays of sunshine that might come your way!

Hugs;

Pammie

PS: Our weather’s been cold (in the 20’s) but clear and sunny-no new snow! YAY! Also started knitting another baby afghan (like the one I posted here before) to start a “Baby Shower” basket for the special needs group’s fund raising (posted earlier, also).

The Calm Before the Storm

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Today finds me enjoying the peace and quiet; youngest son is playing a video game, middle son left for work, husband’s at work. It’s just the cat and I and he’s ‘eyeing’ my huge ball of yarn while I attempt to make it into a hand-wound manageable ball or two. He pounced, once…just once, before I let out a yell. It seems his pounce was more than just a pounce…a little later on I discovered a wet ‘end’ where he not only pounced, but bit! Oh well…such is the excitement of a bored house kitty.

Outside it’s cold (in the 20’s) but sunny; almost all of our snow has melted. I noticed that we’ve lost the huge mounds of snow/ice that seemed to be at the entrance/exits of all driveways, be they your own house driveway or somewhere at a store. The down side of that is: we’re under another “Winter Snow Warning” and they’re predicting 5-7 inches between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. tomorrow…oh, joy (sigh). You’d think I’d be more than used to this, having lived in glorious Michigan all my life. How I’m longing for my favorite time of year: Spring!

What’s new around here, you ask? I’m winding the yarn to begin another baby afghan. We’re in the planning stages of putting together a fund raiser for my special needs group. Our idea is a “Baked Potato Dinner & Silent Auction”. In years past we’ve done donated ‘baskets’ and raffled them off. This time we thought a silent auction might be fun, all items being donated. I’m thinking of doing a “Baby Shower” basket: knit afghan and several baby hats, teething ring, perhaps a beginning baby care book, baby wipes…you know – all the stuff you’d stick in a baby shower gift, except in a basket! In years past we’ve had some really cute ones: “Movie Night” with popcorn, candy, big bottles of pop, several movies; “Tea Time” with various teas, tea biscuits, a china cup (or 2), some nice candy (also “Coffee Time”, same idea); “Italian Dinner” with pastas, sauces, bread sticks, red checked dinner napkins, pasta ‘fork’, all sorts of things to go with that theme. You get the idea: baskets made on a theme. It’s fun trying to think up ideas; we’ve done a “Mexican Fiesta” basket, “Games”, “Gone Fishing”, “Bath Time”…the list goes on and on. I thought the idea of the Baked Potato Dinner was an interesting one; a friend in my knit group said her church had that along with a movie. In our case it would be the baked potatoes and all the things you could put on top, for instance: shredded cheese, chili, sour cream, shredded bacon bits, chopped onion, chopped green pepper, etc. I remember back in the early 70’s there were small places in malls around here that only featured baked potatoes and all the ‘works’ – it was a kitschy idea and worked, for awhile.

Last night was our Ladie’s Fellowship at church and the theme was “Frugality in the 21 st Century”. You asked if I would pass on any tips I learned: mostly it revolved around cutting coupons and doubling their worth by combining them with a ‘in store’ special, thus more than doubling the total savings. Also, making use of a particular drug store’s savings program (like CVS, Rite-Aid, or WalGreen’s) along with using coupons in conjunction with those deals. One area I hadn’t really investigated much was ON LINE coupon companies. There are several available which are FREE to join and will help you organize your savings:

http://www.moneysavingmom.com

http://www.afullcup.com

http://www.couponmom.com

http://www.refundcents.com

http://www.fatwallet.com

http://www.dealseakingmom.com

(I am not endorsing these, as I’ve really not checked them out, but they came recommended.)

The one site which was recommended which does have a cost for membership, was:

http://thegrocerygame.com

This site ‘is great for quickly matching up store sales and coupons in your area”. They have a 4 week trial package for $1, after that the cost is $10 for 8 weeks (per store you list) and $5 for each additional store.

I’m really into trying to save money, but sometimes all this ‘effort’ seems more of an EFFORT than it’s worth. I might check out a few of the sites, but in general, I’m probably just going to stay doing what I already do: match up coupons with stores and their featured savings for the week. I already shop 3 grocery stores in my local area, plus one drug store for cleaning & drug store products, so I don’t foresee me doing much more. Perhaps YOU will find a savings in the above sites that will help you!

That’s about all that’s going on around here at the moment. I’m just glad that my week is finally winding down; it was nice to be able to go and do all the events I mentioned in an earlier post, but today I’m just glad to stay home and knit, read and catch up. Dinner is leftovers (homemade beef pot pie) , so even THAT is easy! .

Enjoy your day!

Hugs;

Pammie

Published in: on February 20, 2009 at 5:17 pm  Comments (1)  
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Basketball and Babies

100_15182/14/09 “Friends Group” Basketball game

This Saturday found me cheering my little voice out for my “kids”-the special needs group I volunteer with every Wednesday. Once a year, one of the dads arranges a game between our group and volunteers for what is known in our group as: “THE Game”. This year we had a great group of college kids from Rochester Christian College who played a great game; of course, our kids won…that’s sort of a ‘given’, but we all had a great time. In this game, extra tries are expected-if you’re in a wheelchair and can’t reach the basket, the other team hoists you up until you CAN make a basket! If it takes you 8-10 tries, that’s fine…sometimes a little extra ‘help’ at tipping the ball in the basket happens. Our kids just love the whole experience and the crowd loves watching it. I’m so proud of our kids and these wonderful volunteers.

Along with basketball, I’ve been doing a rush job at completing more baby hats for a friend’s new grandson. You see, she’s in the same ‘boat’ as I was two years ago-her son announced that his girlfriend was expecting (in her case, it was only a few days from delivery!). Just finished two little hats –  one blue, one green (am SO glad I learned how to loom knit…it’s soooo much faster for me!).  Along with the hats, I put together one of those flannel blankets (not sure what you call them). You buy a piece of flannel material and make cuts all around the edges, then tie the cut strips together (two at a time) and it makes a really cute sort of fringe edging. In this case, I had purchased about a yard of “Tigger” patterned flannel for my grandson two years ago…then never made the blanket. Being the frugal person I am, this came in just right for completing my present (along with a few other items). Didn’t take a photo…sorry.

This week is proving to be another busy one: did grocery shopping today (2 stores), tomorrow is a dentist’s appointment for youngest son (flouride coating) then Knit Night with my ladies. Weds. is my special needs group and a board meeting. Thurs. night is our church Ladie’s Fellowship dinner/meeting and the subject will be “Frugality”…I’m psyched! The ladies that organized this  sent out questionaires to each of us two weeks in advance, asking all sorts of questions about how each of us saves money. Most of the questions dealt with grocery shopping, but there were also areas to fill in asking where you find other great deals/sales, etc. I had fun filling out the form, so I’m sure the meeting will be very informative; in these trying times we can all use a little help in saving $$$.

Our weather has been clear and sunny, but cold. Today it got up in the 30’s; the roads are clear and there’s not very much snow left on the ground (from Friday night’s surprise dump of about 1 1/2 inches!). I’m very grateful we have clothes on our backs, a nice warm house, food for our tummies and we’re almost all healthy here…the Lord is good!

Hoping you’re safe, healthy, warm and enjoying your day;

Hugs;

Pammie

ps: Of my two sons who were sick, the youngest is doing just fine-middle son is slowly getting better now that he’s on antibiotics.

Fifty-Four Degrees!

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I know some of you are living in much warmer states, but today here in my little town, it’s a warm and wonderful 54 degrees Farenheit and sunny! That’s a wonderful change from the snow and cold we’ve been experiencing. Now, I’m no fool…I realize that, come tomorrow, it’s predicted we get rain and colder temperatures, but I’m basking in what’s ‘here and now’. I even opened the windows to ‘air out the place’, since I’m sure there’s still some flu germs lingering around here somewhere. Youngest is looking and sounding much healthier; is now in school. Middle son is ‘doing better’…could be doing MUCH better, but I’m keeping an eye on him. I ended up going out yesterday and purchasing a box of (as advertised on TV): Mucinex to see if that will break up the ‘gunk’ in his chest/lungs. He’s had 2 doses and says he feels much better (he’s acting a little more frisky!). It’s nice to sit here and feel the gentle (kind of chilly) breeze blowing in the window and seeing the bright sunshine reflected on the walls, making me a little “Spring-Anxious”, for sure (if you remember, Spring is my all-time favorite time of year).

Along with the good weather comes an urge to bake something; relax – no new recipe today, I just made the banana cake again to get rid of 2 rather dark looking bananas. This time I didn’t make the (yummy) cream cheese frosting, as I didn’t have enough cream cheese, but did the ‘second best’ thing: used canned Betty Crocker cream cheese (flavored) frosting. Around here lately we’re trying to be cost conscience so I decided it was much more frugal to use up that which we had, as opposed to going to the store and buying (in this case, cookies- the cookie jar is empty). I live in a house with 3 guys, all who are A#1 Cookie FREAKS! They love chocolate chips and Oreos and managed to go through 2 packages in record time this past week. I decided that if I’m going to ‘pinch pennies’, baking at home would fit the bill. Yes, I could have baked chocolate chip cookies, but wasn’t really in the mood for the fuss of baking cookies. One 9 X 13 pan of cake is a lot quicker than a batch of cookies; hope they’re happy with my choice. If not…oh well!

It’s a rather slow week; had the baby (my grandson) yesterday for about 4 1/2 hours. It’s a continual amusement to hear him describe things in his life. Yesterday his Dad let him help make pancakes:  stirring the batter, slicing strawberries (with a butter knife) and putting the butter in the pan to watch it melt. He’s only 2 1/2 but it seems he’s picking up his Dad’s love of cooking (my oldest is an Executive Chef). It’s nice to see their bond; does a mother’s heart good!

Wednesday is my special needs group Bible study and this week we’re making a big Valentine’s card for the younger kids in the church. Last week the younger kids came into our room and brought little cardboard mailboxes for our kids to decorate with hearts and sparkles. The younger kids stayed (along with their leaders) and helped our kids glue on the decorations. Inside each mailbox the kids had each signed valentine cards for my group and included a few chocolate candies, as well. Our group was really pleased and surprised. The other leader in my group and I decided that it would be nice for our group to return the favor, so tomorrow night each one of our group gets a red heart and some valentine stickers; they’ll put the stickers on their heart, write their name and then glue it onto a large posterboard card. We, as a group, will then march down to the younger kids room and deliver our card (along with some chocolate candies for each child). The younger kids teachers are teaching their children to be more aware of others and look for ways to help other people. That’s what we are teaching our special needs students, as well,  so all of this combines together nicely and ‘completes’ the Lord’s directive: “Love One Another” John 13:34.

That’s what’s going on around here today.  Hoping you have a lovely day!

Hugs;

Pammie

Peace, Glorious Peace!

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At least for a little while longer, that is! Today all are either (a) at school or (b) at work; the cat and I have the house to ourselves! YAY! It’s peaceful; outside the sun is shining brightly (even though we’re having really low temperatures)…it’s a lovely day to just stay inside, drink something soothing and warm (cocoa? tea? coffee?), sit in your favorite chair and either read, or work on crafts.  Made pancakes for breakfast for middle son, as he’s finally getting back to feeling somewhat ‘normal’, then saw him off to college. Youngest son is at school and husband is at work.  Not sure, just yet, what mischief I’ll get myself into. Later I plan on concocting a dessert, of sorts. Have 2 bags of ‘donated’ fruits (from friends): a bag of black berries and a bag of raspberries. I’m planning on making up a large box of raspberry Jello, letting it set until almost firm, then using a mixer to whip in a large container of Cool Whip (into almost set Jello) and both fruits (probably adding a bit of sugar, as I’m sure the berries are not sweetened) and then letting the whole thing chill.  The berries have been keeping company in the back of my freezer for long enough and I decided to try to think up something to use them both up…hope it works.

Tonight, on cable tv, is the movie: “The Queen” starring Helen Miren; it’s about the time period just after Princess Diana was killed and how the royal family reacted.  Being a kind of ‘closet’ royalty watcher, thought this one sounded interesting. When I was younger I used to enjoy reading all sorts of books on royalty;  Ferdinand and Isabella (Italy), Nikolas and Alexandra (Russia), the various Elizabeth’s, King Henry and his various wives (and ladies) (England); that sort of reading.

Since it’s such a strange winter and right now (here, anyway) very cold outside (it was  -4 degrees F when youngest son went to school at 7 a.m.), thought I’d feature another ‘keep your tummy warm’ recipe:

Bread Pudding with Cinnamon Sauce

2 C. milk

1/2 C. packed brown sugar

1/4 C. butter

4 C. firm bread, cubed into 1/4 inch cubes

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp. vanilla

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Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Butter   1  1/2 quart casserole dish.  In a 3 quart saucepan over low heat, mix milk, brown sugar and butter; stir until brown sugar melts. Stir 1/3 rd of the mixture into the beaten eggs. Add this mixture into the sauce pan; stir in vanilla and add bread cubes. Toss until bread is completely moistened. Pour mixture into casserole dish and smooth the surface. Bake 1 hour; serve hot with cinnamon sauce.

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Cinnamon Sauce

1/3 C. sugar

4 tsp. corn starch

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 C. milk

2 T. butter

1/4 tsp. vanilla

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Combine sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon in saucepan; add milk and stir until sugar is melted. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat, stir in butter and vanilla. Serve with bread pudding.

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Enjoy your day however you like; hopefully taking time to look at some of the wonders the Lord has created that surround us each day! Today the sunshine on the snow looks like tiny diamonds sparkling all around-what a sight to behold!

Hugs;

Pammie

Published in: on February 5, 2009 at 2:35 pm  Comments (2)  
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All Clean on the Home Front!

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I’m exhausted! Have just spent the majority of my day running up and down three flights of stairs, either going to or from the laundry room.  My two sons are still carrying on with their sickness, but are slowly getting better; youngest finally went to school after missing 5 days/middle son went to college class and then to work.  Got the tons of sheets, pillow cases, blankets, towels, etc. finally done (OK…there’s maybe one more load due to go in the dryer when the current load finishes drying). Loaded & unloaded the dishwasher (tons of bowls from tons of soups being consumed)…yep, that’s my job as Mom/Housekeeper/Cook/ and General Physician for the family (oh, also made another run to the drug store for more cough syrup, cough drops and Kleenex…we’ve gone through 2 boxes of the large Kleenex in 2 days). I’m bushed!

Was thinking…”What can I post on my blog?”  and then ran into an oldie-but-goodie (I might even have posted this last year but it’s worth repeating): this is ‘THE’ recipe you keep on hand when faced with one overly ripe banana:

banana

“Banana Bars”

(soft, bar cookies)

1 large, ripe banana

1/2 C. margarine, softened (or butter)

1/2 C. packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 egg, beaten

1 C. flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 to 1/2 C. chopped nuts

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In large mixer bowl combine beaten banana, margarine, sugars and flavorings until well blended.  Mix flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl.  Beat egg into banana mixture, then gradually add flour mixture; mix until well-blended. Pour batter into greased 8 x 8 baking pan. Sprinkle top with nuts (or, you could just add them to the batter before pouring into pan).

Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of pan comes out clean.  Cool and cut into bars.

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It’s another lovely, sunny day today (I guess the Groundhog saw his shadow yesterday and we’re in for more winter) …hey, I live in Michigan-what’s the big deal? Here, it’s WINTER until it’s SPRING! We don’t usually get a mild, gentle winter without snow, anyway!  Right now it’s about 23 degrees out and the roads are clear…I’m happy. Even went out without hat or gloves, it was that mild!

Enjoy your day!

Hugs;

Pammie

Published in: on February 3, 2009 at 3:33 pm  Comments (3)  
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