Yummy Cakes!

I had Sunday School snack duty today and made two recipes I’d found on the ‘net; they were both really great!

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Better Than Anything Cake

1 pkg. yellow cake mix (I used French Vanilla)
1/2 C. water
1/2 C. vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 small box instant vanilla pudding
1 C. sour cream
Chocolate chips, if desired(I used about 1 C.)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix all the ingredients together except for the chocolate chips; beat 2 minutes.  Add the chips if you want to and stir by hand.  Bake in greased 9 X 13 pan for 1 hour.

(Note: This cake SMELLS wonderful while baking! It’s a light, very flavorful cake that doesn’t need frosting.)

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Banana Crunch Cake

5 T. butter
1 tub coconut, pecan or coconut almond frosting mix
1 C. rolled oats
1 C. sour cream
4 eggs
2 large bananas, mashed
1 (18.25 ounce) box yellow cake mix
——
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
In saucepan, melt butter; stir in frosting and rolled oats until they’re liquid; set aside.
In large bowl, blend next three ingredients until smooth. Blend in cake mix; beat two minutes at medium speed. Pour 1/3 of batter (2 cups) into prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1/3 of frosting mixture (1 cup). Repeat twice with batter then frosting, ending with frosting mixture.
Bake 50 to 60 minutes until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool upright in pan for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and turn so that frosting mixture is on top.

(Note: This was a very moist, flavorful cake! I wasn’t sure if it would taste very ‘banana-y’, but it did! Not sure why they named it Banana crunch cake because it’s not really crunchy; the frosting mixture just adds a very nice nutty/cocoanuty taste.  It does not need frosting)

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These are two recipes I will definitely save and use again (especially the banana one!).

Enjoy your day;

Hugs;

Pammie

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Published in: on March 28, 2010 at 12:05 pm  Comments (1)  
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Teeny Blessings

This Wednesday found me out very early (7:30 a.m.) presenting “The Ghana Project/Key of Hope” program to the Huron-Valley Optimist’s Club. (sorry I didn’t think to get a photo) They also have a program for helping children and seniors, called “Magic Hugs Squares”. I read about their program in our local paper and contacted their president. Occasionally I am gifted with squares that are too large for my afghans, so I’ve been saving them. Their program requests knitted or crocheted squares approximately 12″ x 12″ which are wrapped around a regular-sized beanie baby (see photo below) with a note that says:

This magic square was made especially for you.  It is made out of hugs.  When you are sad or mad or scared or bored, hold this square close to you and it will give you the comfort of a million hugs.  It will love you no matter what!

The wrapped squares/Beanie are given to children in hospitals, homeless shelters, Ronald McDonald House and other places where children need comfort.

The president of the Club and I did a ‘barter’ – my 67 squares for 67 Teeny Beanies and we were both blessed! It was a lovely meeting (they are very precise on their ‘one hour’ meeting); they even bought me breakfast! I’ve decided that since I already have some very prolific knitters (and crocheters) gifting me with squares, that I would use some of my yarns to knit them some 12″ x 12″ squares; I love knitting – it settles my mind and relaxes me, so this will be a blessing for me as well as them. Theirs is a very large program; they go into the schools and teach the children knitting and crochet and have them become involved in helping others; those that don’t knit or crochet help wrap the squares and the program grows.

Yesterday was the ‘all day’ babysitting and we did OK – I managed to convince him that he needed a nap and he actually took a 2 1/2 hour one! Total babysitting time for the day: about 10 1/2 hours, so you know I was beat! Next week it’s a few hours, a few days then one more all day next Thurs.

Tonight is my special needs group’s Gym Night, so I’m taking it kind of ‘easy’ for the early part of my day – need to ‘rest up’ and recoop my strength for another busy night.

Our weather has been just great – sunny, mild temps; just what you’d want as a precursor for Spring.  My husband is still happy he made the second transfer; he says it’s no  more climbing telephone poles, now he’s mostly down in manholes! Oh well … to each his own, eh? I’m just very grateful he’s happy AND he has a good job; those are both HUGE blessings to me.

Hope you’re having a great day and remember to enjoy it (even just a little part)! Life’s short – eat dessert first!

Hugs;

Pammie

(I borrowed a photo from their site to give you an idea of their project)



Slow Days – New Happenings

This week has started out nice and slow but I know that very soon it will speed up. Tonight is my ‘off’ Knit night (there’s the ‘official’ every-other Tuesday knit night complete with it’s own blog site, then there’s the ‘off’ night which is the opposite Tuesdays, same time, different location. This ‘off’ night was started simply because some of our members didn’t want to wait an extra week to get together with their friends and all the ‘yarny’ goodness.) There are less of us on the ‘off’ night, but it’s still lots of fun. Tomorrow morning, very early (7:30 a.m.)  is the breakfast & small presentation by me to the Optimist’s club, then in the evening is my special needs group. Thursday will be an all-day into evening babysitting of my grandson; this is due to the fact that his Mom is going on a week’s vacation to Florida. Next week will be a few of the ‘whole day’ babysittings as well (need to take my vitamins and eat my Wheaties, for sure, to keep up with him!). I’m told he no longer takes naps unless it’s for a special occasion (like getting up really early for church on Sundays); well, my dear little grandson is in for a rude awakening . . . THIS grandma is going to enforce at least a lying down for awhile, mid-day. (I NEED THIS!) Friday evening is my special needs group’s Gym Night; hope I have ‘some’ energy left!

I’m sitting here happily sipping my favorite beverage (large double-cream Tim Horton’s coffee, nice & hot). This one is especially nice because I won it during their “Roll Up the Rim to Win” campaign. Today is one of those “I can’t seem to wake up” days – ever have one of those? Got up early, ate breakfast, read the paper then promptly fell back asleep for 1/2 hour! Finally forced myself to get dressed and out the door to the library (and Tim’s), hoping that the inspiration from the newly checked out books and my favorite java jolt would get me moving for the day. Still have the dishwasher to load & run, some laundry to take care of and then it’s sewing squares for a short while.

OH! Almost forgot to mention – husband is working on Day # 2 of another NEW job! The last one lasted a whole 2 weeks; during that time they just didn’t seem to have any plans on when they would train him, so he spent most of that time doing odd jobs to fill time. On Thursday of last week he received a phone call offering him another job! This one is another ‘lateral’ move (no pay raise), and it’s almost as far as his original job was, but he tells me it’s a cleaner, nicer job. They offered it and wanted an answer in 15 minutes! We both prayed on it and he said Yes! I’ve got to say, this is the first time in quite awhile that I’ve seen him come home actually HAPPY! They had him out ‘in the field’ (that means he was outside) riding along with another man and learning ‘hands-on’ this new job. What is the new job, you ask?
He’s going to be a Fiber Optics Splicer! He’s already been trained in Fiber Optics, so he sort of has some idea of what he’s doing, just needs to learn the in’s & out’s of the splicing part. The good thing is he won’t be required to haul huge cables; fiber optics has small cables (not sure if they call those ‘cables’ or not, but I know it’s not those huge 2-3 inch across cables -if not larger).  He’s working the same ‘new’ hours, 7-3:30 and was even happy to find that our favorite pizza place (Shields) has an outlet right around the corner from his new garage! Life is good – he’s finally (at least for now) happy with his new job transfer, and I’m VERY glad to see him smiling again!

We went to get our taxes done last night, so that’s one more “Spring Thing” taken care of.  It’s 45 degrees and overcast today; it rained on & off yesterday but only lightly. There are green shoots popping up all around our yard, lots of robins and my favorite songbird around here:  Red Winged Blackbirds, trilling their little hearts out – Spring is very close at hand!!!

Hoping you are enjoying whatever signs of Spring are in your area. It’s a glorious time of year – a time of renewal and hope of things to come!

Hugs;

Pammie

Happy “Green” Day!

Since I’m neither Irish or Catholic, I figured “Green Day” worked for me…(wink). Today is another gorgeous day, up into the 60’s!!! WooHoo! The sun’s shining, I can see crocus (and other little green shoots) poking out of the ground, birds out in full force (love hearing the Red Winged Blackbirds doing their ‘trills’). Spring is truly on it’s way!!!

Youngest son got his braces off today and is celebrating. I thought it was ‘cute’ – the orthodontist’s office gave him a big silver mylar balloon with “I got my braces off today!” on it, plus a plastic popcorn holder, a bag of microwave popcorn, a toothbrush and several small bags of candy (all the stuff he couldn’t eat for 1  1/2 years while wearing the braces). Now he has top & bottom retainers for 6 months; I find it interesting observing the changes in ‘braces therapy’ – oldest and middle sons both had braces but didn’t have to wear the retainers full time like youngest does.

Middle son got his car back from the shop today (it’s been in for a week now). With his warranty, he only had to pay $98 for over $1,000 worth of work so we’re all happy with that.  Oh…I HAVE HEAT in my car! When I got it back Saturday it was blowing cold air constantly instead of heat. Took it in Monday and they flushed the system and checked a few things but said it’s probably a heater core going bad ($500+ . . . ouch!) I turned on the heater last night and today and I HAVE HEAT!!! Since they replaced the heater hose assembly, the engine heats up better and MUCH quicker! (It used to take 20-25 MINUTES to get actual heat before – now it’s maybe 3 minutes…YAY!!!)

Another ‘neat thing’ – our local paper featured an article about a local group who are engaging the area kids in schools to participate in a program of knitted/crocheted squares and stuffed animals for area hospitals and nursing homes. I read the article and contacted them. Occasionally I receive knitted/crocheted squares for my project that are too large for me to use; I’ve been saving them up and currently have 67.  The lady who runs the program was interested in me coming to do a small speech on my project. She mentioned that they get large numbers of donated yarn, squares and Beanie Babies.  I wrote her yesterday asking if she would be willing to ‘barter’ with me: knitted squares for Teeny Beanie Babies – she said they’ve set aside 67 Teeny Beanies for me in exchange! Cool!!! I find it a bit difficult to locate the Teeny Beanies (unless I buy them on EBay), so I thought this was a really good deal! She seemed eager for our two groups to be ‘affiliated’; not sure yet just how that would work, but I’m open for ideas. They are a much bigger project than mine, but then they are only dealing with one square wrapped around a beanie baby and tied with yarn, not a whole afghan of 30 squares.  They have the kids doing the knitting/crochet and the wrapping; it’s a great project because it involves the kids in thinking about their community and becoming an active participant in helping someone else.  I’ve agreed to meet with them next Wednesday morning (they go for breakfast every week at 7:30 a.m. – hope I’m wide awake then!)

That’s the happenings around here today; if you have sunshine – ENJOY IT! (If not – it’s on it’s way soon!)

Happy “Wearin’ O the Green’ Day!

Hugs;

Pammie

Published in: on March 17, 2010 at 1:01 pm  Comments (2)  

Ah, the Fun…

Over the weekend we celebrated oldest son’s 27th birthday; I made a chocolate (with chocolate chips added) Black Forest Cake (heart shaped, no less!). This was in memory of a cake we had made together many, many years ago. That cake was a memory only because he & I ‘experimented’ by putting Cool Whip in between the layers. Yes, it tasted great BUT as it got warmer the top layer slid off the bottom! (WARNING: DON’T do THAT again!) This cake did NOT have Cool Whip! As you can see my son and his son were happy with the results:

Happy 27th Birthday, son!

The weather has been lovely lately, all our snow is finally gone and small shoots of green are popping up where we will eventually have lilly of the valley, crocus, tulips, hyacinth and other spring flowers. It’s another sunny day today and our temperatures are expected to get in the 50’s until around Sunday when it’s supposed to get in the 30’s and possible snow flurries (NO!!!). Ah, Spring in Michigan – totally unexpected weather!

Just had a heart-stopping experience when reading my emails – apparently a rather large money transfer in my checking account didn’t happen when I thought it had. Transferred (I thought) a large amount of money to cover the check for car repairs last week. I spoke to our local banker and now I’m not sure if (a) their automatic phone banking didn’t work OR (b) I wrote it down and, in my haste of that day, didn’t actually DO the transfer I thought I did! The banker amended the problem but now I get to ‘eat’ the $10 overdraft fee (unless I can find the slip of paper I ‘supposidly’ wrote the confirmation number on, from the phone transfer). Why do I think it’s answer B above and not the bank’s fault? I have this ‘inkling’ that, in all the haste of that day, I thought I did it and didn’t actually make the transfer . . . sigh. I’ll tell ya, almost nothing can jump-start your heart quicker than realizing there’s a LARGE money  mistake in your accounts! I had also read on-line on my accounts a transfer from my credit card . . . (I never use my credit card!); THAT freaked me out, also! Turns out it was the automatic overdraft protection kicking in when it appeared there wasn’t enough funds to cover the car repair check (because the money transfer I thought I made wasn’t there). Getting older sure isn’t fun – those “Senior Moments” are getting more frequent day-to-day!  It’s all been corrected NOW, but it sure gave me a start, I’ll tell ya!

Just finished photographing and posting on the Ghana Project site more donated knit squares. I managed to put together two more afghans yesterday (now on #237) and will have to set my mind to getting more sewn together in the near future. Between the lovely ladies at Grace United Methodist church of Indiana, PA (117 squares) and my “knitting machine” friend, Gwen, (210 squares) I’ve definitely got my work cut out for me!!! (Just so you have an idea, it takes 30 squares to make up ONE afghan).

Youngest son came home yesterday beaming – he made the Track team! He’s been ‘training’ for weeks by walking about 2 miles a day and doing weight lifting, running, and stretching exercises after school. He’s super-excited about this new venture, so I’m proud of him for that. (Read the paper he brought home with the sentence: “there will be no bus service for any meets on Saturdays”; that wouldn’t be bad except there are something like 6 Saturday ‘meets’ in towns not exactly close to here! We’ll see how that goes . . . )

That’s life around here these days; ran into this recipe from Krogers (I haven’t tried it, but it sounds tasty!)

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Three-Cheese Chicken Penne Pasta Bake

1 C. shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided

2 T. grated Parmesan cheese

2 oz. (1/4 th of 8 oz. pkg.) cream cheese, cubed

1  1/2 C. penne pasta, uncooked

1 (9 oz) pkg. fresh spinach leaves

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts,

cut into bite-sized pieces

1 tsp. dried basil leaves

1 (14.5 oz. ) jar spaghetti sauce

1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cook pasta according to pkg. directions, adding spinach

to boiling water for last minute. Cook and stir

chicken and basil in large nonstick

skillet sprayed with nonstick cooking

spray on medium-high heat for 3 minutes.

Stir in spaghetti sauce and tomatoes; bring

to a boil. Simmer on low heat 3 minutes or until

chicken is done; stir in cream cheese.

Drain pasta mixture; return to pan. Stir in

chicken mixture and 1/2 C. Mozzarella.

Spoon into 2 Quart casserole dish or 8-inch

square baking dish. Bake 20 minutes;

top with remaining cheeses. Bake 3 minutes

or until mozzarella is melted.

Serves 4.

(recipe courtesy: Kroger Foods)

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Hope you have a great day!

Hugs;

Pammie

Friday’s Findings

(Love this!)

Here we are at Friday, another ‘stuck in the house’ day but that’s OK. Yesterday was a glorious, sunny and warm (64 degrees!) day which found me inside . . . again. Early in the day I took delivery of more knitted squares from a lady whom I’ve entitled  “The Knitting Machine”; she can produce about 100 squares in a month (or more).  On this particular delivery she brought her cousin who she said is also an avid knitter: “I hope we’re not overwhelming you with squares” was her gentle comment. (No, just gets me more fired up to sew them together a little quicker!) Afternoon into evening found me amused while babysitting my grandson. He is quite an amazing little guy for 3 1/2 – I’ve said it before – Look out, Preschool! His dad said the other day he came out of Dad’s office after playing kiddie games on Dad’s computer and announced: “I just downloaded and printed off this picture, now I’m going to go color it!” Dad was totally flabergasted, as he’s never shown him how to either download OR print anything! Dad went into his office to find that my grandson had properly shut off the computer AND monitor when he was done! Upon checking into this further via several phone calls, Dad discovered that no one else that watches my grandson had done any teaching in this area either! He’s a very quick study! That’s almost scary! While I had him yesterday I came into the living room to find him inspecting a movie CD case and saying to himself: “I think I know how to work this.” (OH NO! Grandma quickly told him she’d fix it for him! We’re talking using middle son’s PS3 player to watch this CD and even Grandma doesn’t completely understand the working of said machine!) After much fiddling around (find controller, find connecting cable to plug into back of said controller, figure out how to get correct screen up on PS3 player, then getting the hang of using a game-playing controller to make a movie run) I actually was able to run Spongebob Squarepants videos . . . ad infinitum (Let’s just say that by the end of the evening I was threatening to permanently LOSE all three of our Spongebob videos! Can’t stand his VOICE!!!)

Also got word yesterday that the new engine is in my car – when can I pick it up? That was fun . . . trying to figure out just when we could work that. At first I said “This evening when my husband gets home!” and then realized that the child car seat is in MY car  – that eliminated us going last night. Early today? Out of the question – no transportation TO the car place, so we settled on this evening. I’m just grateful that I will have a car again! We’re getting a bit thin on the grocery end of things (no bread, a little milk). That’s OK, I’m resourceful when it comes to making meals. The reason we’re out of bread is because I chose to make French Toast for the boys yesterday, one of their favorite breakfasts. This whole week has been  strange schedule-wise: youngest son had testing for part of the week and half days of school (he’s off school a whole day today!); middle son has no car (his is in the shop, too) so he’s been ‘hanging around’ quite a bit except when getting a ride to work. Yep, creative meals – that’s what’s called for this time! Dinner last night was what I call Potatoes O’Brien: very easy, filling meal.  (I think I might have written the recipe in another post, but I’ll just list it)In a large skillet:  about 1  1/2 lb. hamburger, cooked & drained;  about 1/2 C. chopped onion. Add chopped onion to browned hamburger and simmer until onion is opaque.  2 bags Ore-Ida hash browns, about 4 T. (or more) margarine. Add frozen hash browns to skillet along with margarine cut into about 4 chunks. Basically you’re going to cook down the potatoes, stirring & flipping them as the bottom ones get brown (I usually cover the skillet and let them cook about 5 min. between flipping and adding more margarine if I think they’re sticking). You can add chopped green pepper (about 1/2 C.) and/or a small can of sliced mushrooms, salt & pepper, Worchestershire sauce (to your taste) garlic powder when it’s pretty close to being totally cooked (when the hashbrowns are cooked but not soggy). At the end:  sprinkle top of skillet mixture with about 1/2 -1 C. shredded Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese and put skillet under broiler until cheese melts. Serve with ketchup (if you’re family likes it!). Makes about 4-5 servings.

Dinner tonight is Pierogies & Polish Sausages, another family favorite. (This doesn’t even need a recipe – cook pierogies according to pkg. directions …we boil them until they float then fry them in a skillet with butter. Cut Polish sausages into chunks and broil) Serve with apple sauce and sour cream on the side. I well remember many years ago going to a Weight Watchers meeting and weighing in. The instructor said I’d gained 2 lbs. and I was trying to figure out where – until I remembered that the night before I sort of ‘went off the Weight Watchers wagon’ and had Pierogies & Sausages for dinner! We love them but the certainly aren’t your light, diet-conscience meal! Good old HEAVY, FATTENING and FILLING Polish food!!! (It’s fine as long as you don’t eat it every day!)

Well, since my car is still not available, looks like I’ll be happily settled into my favorite recliner and doing what I did for a good part of yesterday – sewing together another afghan. (finished another one yesterday, just need to crochet the border and #234 will be done!).

Enjoy your day WHATEVER it brings! Even if the sun isn’t shining where you are, remember to SMILE a little!!!

Hugs;

Pammie

ps: Got a follow up call from my doctor last night – seems my mammogram numbers were GREAT! Also, for the first time, my cholesterol numbers were all good – THAT was a shock! Of all the tests I’ve been through it seems the only one that still needs to be done is a Bone Density test. Had one years ago and I guess, now, they want them done every 2 years (maybe just because I’m over 60? I didn’t think to ask.) That’s not a biggie – a little time and a little lying on a flat table while a (VERY SLOW) machine slowly travels over you while  NOT MOVING A MUSCLE isn’t such a bad thing; gotta remember to schedule one of those soon . . . sigh. But HEY! That phone call could have been not so good news, so I’m very happy right now!

Stuck at Home but . . .

that’s OK, too.

The decision was made to replace the engine, so husband and I took it to the car place Monday. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that between the phone call and our arrival, the mechanic had already started the ‘search’ for a new engine for us. He said it usually takes about 2 days from start to finish, so I’m hoping today is the ‘pick up your car’ day. (If not, I can drive my husband’s car to my special needs group tonight). Being ‘home’ for 1 1/2 days has been a little different; I thought I would spend it ‘alone’ (me, my thoughts and my cat), but situations changed and I was surrounded by my whole family (minus older son who lives at his house). Middle son didn’t have work, so he stayed home to play a new video game he had recently purchased, youngest son had no school yesterday due to testing of juniors & seniors (his testing is today and tomorrow, 1/2 days of school) so he was home playing video games. Add to this mix a phone call from my husband who said that his new job hadn’t quite found the training for him yet and sent him home with a 1/2 day off, paid. Oh well . . . still managed to get another afghan done (#233) and read some in the latest book . Last night was our ‘un-official’ knit night and I opted not to go. I failed to  mention that husband’s old ‘beater’ van is not the most pleasant vehicle to drive – yes, it works in a pinch, but if I were given a choice, I’d choose not driving it. I did get some great news, however, – the  Mommy for whom I knit that last baby blanket, hats, & booties had her baby Sunday evening. She had planned a home birth with midwife but complications had set in and she ended up having a cesarean delivery, so you can see why I was elated to hear Mommy & baby are doing very well now.

On the ‘Food & Recipes’ horizon, these recipes seemed to be calling me to give them a try:

Chicken Enchilada Skillet Casserole

3 C. frozen vegetable mixture (broccoli, corn, red peppers)

3 C. shredded, cooked chicken

1 (16 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 pkg. taco seasoning mix

2 C. shredded Mexican-style cheese

salt & pepper to taste

8 oz. tortilla chips

———

In a large skillet, combine vegetables,

chicken, tomatoes & seasoning mix.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat;

cover & cook 4 minutes or until

vegetables are cooked and mixture

is heated through. Sprinkle with

cheese, salt & pepper; cover and

cook 2 more minutes until cheese

is melted. Serve with chips.

Makes 4 servings.

(recipe: “Mexican Cooking” Publications

International (2005) as featured in

The Oakland Press, Oct. 2007

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Fudge-Nut Oatmeal Bars

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups quick-cooking oats
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Fudge Filling:
1 can (14 ozs.) sweetened condensed milk
2 cups (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 tsp vanilla

In a bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Mix well.  Combine the oats, flour, baking soda, and salt.  Add to the creamed mixture.  Spread two-thirds into an ungreased 15 x 10 inch baking pan.  Set aside.

For the Filling:  Heat the milk, chocolate chips, butter, and salt in a microwave-safe bowl until the chips are melted.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in the walnuts and vanilla.  Spread over the top.  Drop the remaining oat mixture by tablespoonfuls over the chocolate.  Bake at 350 F.  for 20-25 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.
Makes 2 1/2 dozen bars

Recipe Source:  Taste Of Home – Kim Stoller

====================

Now those should get your taste buds watering! I’ll be working on (and possibly finishing) afghan #234 today and then laying out 4 or 5 more afghans-worth of squares. Received a rather large box of squares yesterday from a group of ladies at Grace United Methodist Church of Indiana, Penn. who have been continuing donors of squares for several years now; have to count and photograph them for the Ghana Project site sometime soon. (Yes, I know – I don’t HAVE to count and photograph all the squares I receive; it’s my way of thanking them and letting others see their work, as well.)

We’re supposed to be getting rain today and for the rest of the week; right now it looks clear (but not sunny) and around 48 degrees! Enjoy your day (whether ‘wet’ or ‘dry’!). I read a quote in our local newspaper today which I felt was very poignant:

“How far you go in life

depends on your being

tender with the young,

compassionate with the aged

sympathetic with the striving,

and tolerant of the weak and the strong –

because someday you

will have been all of those.”

George Washington Carver

Hugs;

Pammie

Thinking Healthy

Today is a bright and sunny (Spring-like) day; the temperatures are ‘up there’ (for a change) 54 lovely, warm degrees! There are birds chirping outside and a feeling of Spring in the air. Now, being a native-born Michigan person (don’t like using the ‘standard terms’: Michigander/Michiganian) I realize we could still be looking at snow (usually around Easter) so I’m not deluding myself into putting away all the winter clothes & coats just yet. I did venture outside earlier and looked like Nanook of the North with my big, bulky winter coat on; just didn’t want to go dig for my Spring/Fall jacket.

Getting hungry for lunch brought me around to a rather healthy alternative to the standard sandwich. Since I’m considered a diabetic, although some of my doctors have said that my blood sugar levels are low enough to say I’m not actually ‘diabetic’, I tend to try to keep the carbohydrates down. Lunch was a medium flour tortilla with a slice of ham, shredded Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese, a little Miracle Whip (for the zip) and fresh spinach for crunch. Add a nice, cold glass of ice water and you’ve got a great meal!  Dinner tonight will be a turkey breast “cooked in the crockpot with a can of cranberry sauce” (adds a really nice sweet/tart flavor to the turkey), wild rice and a lettuce/spinach/carrot salad.

Along with the good sometimes comes the bad: Let’s see – how do I put this? Car Troubles? AGAIN? Yep, you guessed it. My husband drove my car Saturday and came home asking me if I’d had any trouble with the Cruise light staying on or it idling kind of rough – No. We drove it to church yesterday and now the “Service Engine Soon” light was on, as well. On the drive home it began to have a sound which progressively got louder; as I described it to my husband, it was almost like the sound you get when you put a playing card in a bicycle spoke and then ride the bike: Ratt-a-taata-ratta-a-taata. By the time we got home it was REALLY loud! Opening the hood, we decided it was coming from the left side of the actual engine – not good. Today found me asking middle son to follow me over to the car place. They just called with their decision (and it ain’t good)…seems it’s an internal problem, the connecting rod which connects the piston to the crank shaft is going bad and if left to continue will fail, probably soon.  The solution? Replace the engine. A used engine with high miles will run about $900; one with lower milage, $1,200-1,300. Labor & costs altogether: around $2,400-2,500. OUCH! I had just discussed our car situation yesterday with my husband; now that we have about 1 1/2 years before he retires I suggested we get rid of his car (93 Plymouth Voyager), have him drive MY car (the above mentioned one) and us getting a newer used car. When he retires, we sell my old car and go down to just the new car; he agreed.  Now it looks like we have to decide whether to put the money into my car or use that money as a down payment on a newer vehicle. I’m going to await my husband’s decision on that for now, as he’s still at work.  Just before we went to bed last night he said: “What’s it with us and all the car problems lately?” Who knows. Sigh . . .

Since I always try to find some good even in bad situations, I guess for this one it would be: at least it happened while he’s still working full time and not right after he retired and our income would be drastically cut. I thank the Lord He got us to the car repair shop before the whole engine failed.

Look for the ‘silver lining’ – in all situations.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”   I Thessalonians 5:18

Hugs;

Pammie

Turning a Corner

There are times in one’s life where a change is much needed, and this is one of those times. My husband has worked for the same company, in the same garage, for 30 years. Recently there has been a change in management which has caused a great deal of stress and grief – so much so that he was actually considering retiring early, just to get away from it all. We’ve prayed on this since before Christmas and he asked for the early retirement paperwork. Still praying to make sure that this is the Lord’s will, a new development arose about a month ago. The company was asking if there were any volunteers to transfer to several locations, one of which is about 7 minutes from our house. My husband and two others from his garage all put in transfers to those locations they wished for. The other two men got their approvals and transfer details within two days of applying – my husband has been waiting for almost a month now. He called several people in upper management (Union included) to see what was holding this up – no one knew. FINALLY, last Wednesday he received his confirmation – he IS transferring and starts this coming Monday. THANK YOU, LORD!!! This is a lateral move (no pay increase) BUT it’s 7 minutes from our house (not the 30-45 minute drive from the old garage – depending on the traffic), a bit earlier hours (7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., as opposed to the old 8 a.m.- 4:30+++ hours) and MUCH LESS STRESS! It was getting so bad that our family doctor was concerned about my husband’s general health because he was seeing signs of the stress in his office visits.  My husband is SO much happier right now, and he deserves to be.  He’s a very conscientious worker, a stickler for details (which drives his boss nuts because he takes a little more time to make SURE the job is done right the FIRST time) and deserves to be working these last years somewhere where he can do a good job and actually not totally stress over the pressures from his boss.

There will be training for several weeks, then he’ll start the actual job. It’s in a field he’s familiar with, but not actually trained in. He knows several of the people in this garage and is EAGER to try something new. I’m so happy for him; as he’s said: “I’m working until the next union contract (which is about 1  1/2 years down the road) then I’m retiring.” We have a 15 1/2 yr. old and it’s a relief to know that we will have a steady income until he (almost) graduates. We’re still looking to set up a retirement program and I’m grateful that it’s not being done ‘in a hurry’, we can take our time preparing for the future.

To celebrate, he stopped at our favorite pizza place (Shield’s in Southfield, MI) and picked up a Veggie Lovers’ (for me) and a Meat Lovers (for the guys) plus a huge Greek salad and breadsticks – YUM! He mentioned, yesterday, that he finally is beginning to feel relaxed and I’m so glad – he deserves it!

We’re turning a corner and hoping that this move will be all that he needs and wants. (With company policy, once you make a transfer you can’t reverse it for 2 years or apply for another transfer). We’re all excited for what’s ahead for our family!

Hugs;

Pammie

Taking Some “Down Time”

As you’ve read, it’s been a very busy past 5+ days for me and now, after slowly recovering from all the hustle & bustle, I’ve decided that today is my “Down Time” day. (It was supposed to be yesterday but then 5+ loads of laundry and many dishes to put in and take out of the dishwasher sort of got in the way.) My plans for this day include beginning a new book (“Act of Treason” by Vince Flynn-a political thriller), working on sewing another afghan together, making a big meatloaf for dinner and going to Knit Night with my ‘Knit Gals’… that’s it. I really knew that I’d ‘over-done’ it on the physical exertion levels yesterday when I just sort of felt totally exhausted and fatigued. Today I’m improving and beginning to feel more like the ‘old me’.  I don’t know about you, but I find myself almost resenting this ‘feeling like I’m getting old’ thing. Yes, I know that I’m 61, but there are many ladies I know older than myself who seem to be running at a much ‘younger’ pace than I am. Ah well . . . to each his/her own, eh?

Our weather has been really nice these past few days; it’s bright & sunny and MELTING the snow! YAY!!! I noticed yesterday that the huge ‘traveling mound’ of snow that graced the top of my van has finally departed. I looked like a Taxi for Snow Mountains when driving down the street! Looking at the calendar, I see that the Time Change is coming up soon! March 14th is Daylight Savings Time which usually reminds me that Spring is just around the corner! (Now, that doesn’t mean that, here in Michigan, we won’t get at least one more HUGE snowstorm – those usually come close to Easter). Just looking forward to seeing buds on bushes, little green bits popping up through the snow, tiny signs that Spring is on it’s way – my FAVORITE time of year!

Just for you, more recipes that sounded good to me:

——————-

15 – Minute Italian Chicken & Rice

1 T. oil

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips

3 C. cut up fresh vegetables (broccoli, carrots & red pepper)

1 (14 1/2 oz.) can chicken broth

2 C. instant white rice, uncooked (or brown)

1/4 C. zesty Italian dressing

—–

Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat.

Add chicken; cook & stir until

lightly browned, stirring

occasionally. Add vegetables; cook

& stir 3-5 minutes or until crisp-

tender; add broth & bring to boil.

Stir in rice and dressing; cover. Reduce

heat to Low, cook 5 min. or until

liquid is absorbed and chicken is

cooked through.

———————-

Cheddar Mushroom Caps

1 lb. large fresh mushrooms

1 lb. cheddar cheese (cubed)

paprika or garlic powder (or both)

salt

Rinse mushrooms and remove stems. Sprinkle

cavities with salt. Place a cheese cube in each

mushroom cavity, then sprinkle with

paprika or garlic. Put mushrooms on

baking sheet and broil 2-3 minutes

or until cheese bubbles.

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Chocolate Cobbler

6 T. butter

1 C. self-rising flour (*see below for recipe)

3/4 C. white sugar

1 1/2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 C. milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 C. white sugar

1/4 C. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 C. boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt butter in 8 X 8 baking dish while oven

preheats. In medium bowl, stir together

flour, 3/4 C. sugar and 1 1/2 T. cocoa. Stir

in milk and vanilla until smooth. Spoon this

batter over the melted butter in baking dish.

Stir together remaining cup of sugar and 1/4 C.

cocoa powder. Sprinkle over batter. Slowly

pour boiling water over top of mixture.

Bake 30 minutes until set. Serve slightly

warm with ice cream.

———–

*Recipe for making self-rising flour:

Using a dry measure, measure the desired amount

of flour into a separate container.

For each cup of all-purpose flour,

add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Mix to combine.

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(If you’re like me, you don’t buy self-rising flour – I used to but found that I didn’t use it enough to warrant the extra cost.)

Hope that you have a great day and remember to smile (at least once!).

Hugs;

Pammie