Friday, January 31, 2014

Food Friday - Cupcakes!

Cup Cakes for the Robotics Team Saturday Lunch.  Next batch was done with bright orange Frosting to brighten up the gray days. Apparently they went very fast and my kids did not get any, thus it was requested to make more please.  Still working on the frosting part, I would like to be able to make it sit up on the cupcake, these are fairly flat. Another Saturday to try it. 
Feeling downright balmy out at 28 degrees after days of below zero and zero. Hoping you are warm wherever you are!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Working on it Wednesday . . .

So here we are working on 2 things . . . . the half square triangles are for a dresser top small quilt to keep the dust off.  Then I am also making a twin bed quilt-for my youngest son.   We recently redid an upstairs room, this was a major undertaking. we painted a few walls in the colors of Syracuse University.  Roasted Squash and midnight blue were the Valspar colors. It is a small room  that was made out of crawl space in this old farmhouse.  ( c.1822)  The family that lived here in the 60/ 70's had 5 boys and at one point they were all in one room but then 2 wanting room alone started to clean out this area to make it into living space.  The next family put dry wall up etc.. and made an upper bunk in this room and lower bunk in the room next to it.  It is hard to explain. Right now both my boys are back there.  They share a toilet between the rooms and each have their own sink. Generally works out good.  
For the dresser top I have not quite decided what arrangement the half-square triangles will take on.  The twin bed quilt will be a mix of 4-patch squares and large blocks.  IT goes together fast and is easy to quilt.  Right now Syracuse Basket Ball is 20-0 so they are having a good year.  Tonight is is SU vs Wakeforest.  Go Cuse!!! 
We'll share progress on this project as it starts to pull together.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Book Chatterings - The Snow Child

                This book was recommended this fall by multiple friends to read.  I started and finished this in January.  Otherwise I have been finishing a bunch of books started in December . . .  

                     I liked this book. It has a very fresh setting.  The book is  set in the 1920's Alaskan Wilderness. It is a realistic story of life and sorrow and life in the wilderness intermixed with an old Russian Fairytale. One of the first winters they are there, during the first snowfall the couple build a snowchild who somehow comes to life and is a master of the wilderness. There is great love and great loss and coming of age and beauty in all aspects of this book. There is the aspect of living off the land and living from the land/ wilderness that is often forgotten in today's world of cash and carry goods.  There is tragedy, loss and joy.  I will recommend this book to friends and family.  

             This book happens to be the " What if everyone read the same book for 2014"  for our community.  Therefore the Author will be here in March speaking at a bunch of local sites and I may go to hear her talk.   What have you read recently? 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Food . . .Eclair Cake

This is a yummy dessert that my family likes and it is pretty easy to make.  It is not terribly heavy either as desserts can go. Basically a (9-13 pan) cream puff base then filled with a cream filling that is easy to make and some cool whip on top with chocolate syrup.  It is good the next day as well.We took this to one of our after Christmas, Family Christmas celebrations with out of town family.

 Chocolate Eclair Cake
1cup water
1/2 cup butter ( I used margerine)
1 cup all purpose Flour
4 large eggs  ( room temp for more rise)
1 8 ounce package cream cheese ( I used 1/3 fat)
1 large box vanilla instant pudding (5 .1 ounce) 
3 cups milk  ( FF Lactaid used and was just fine)
1- 8 oz. container lite cool whip - enough for a thin layer- you will  not use it all
Hersheys chocolate syrup- in the squirt bottle
  1. .Preheat oven to 400. 
  2.  Lightly grease a 9x13 glass pan.  
  3. For the crust: In  medium pan melt butter in water and bring to boil, stir in flour - this will get very thick.  Mix in one egg at a time, mixing completely before adding another egg,  When fully mixed spread into pan. Use a spatula to bring the dough up the sides of the dish. This will make for nice edges when you fill it. If pan is to well greased it will be hard for batter to stick up the sides.  
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.  You may want to check now and then . Remove from the oven and let cool.  You do not need to worry about large bubble areas. 
  5. For the Filling- using softened cream cheese whip it in an electric mixer.  In a separate bowl make the vanilla pudding and place it in the refrigerator.  When the  pudding is thick slowly add it to the cream cheese mixing very well. The pudding will be clear but as soon as it is mixed with the cream cheese it will turn pale yellow and yummy looking. There should be no lumps in it.  When crust is completely cool - you may spread the filling on it. Keep  the filling refrigerated until the crust is completely cooled.  Then you can spread the filling on the crust, followed by the thin layer of coolwhip.
  6. I would wait until you are ready to serve it to put the chocolate syrup on it. when put on to early it spreads and can make a pool like topping.
My oldest son participates in FIRST  Robotics and during build season Saturday lunch is provided. Another parent that is a friend of mine brought this  last year and it has fast become a family favorite for us.  She said in her house when ever she takes it somewhere she has to make 2 so her house has one as well. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday

Among the things that you can give away 
and still keep are your
 word, a smile, and a grateful Heart.
Zig Ziglar

I can't think of a more grateful heart , than the one our 8 year old Yellow lab has. She is kind and mellow and always right there when you need a little love.   She greets you when you walk in the house and tailwagging is such an immediate feedback.  She is grateful for the scratches, dog walks, snacks and of course meals.  Peanut butter jars are a favorite of hers. 

Smiles - it is such an easy thing to use but we often over look it or forget it.  A simple smile can brighten  oh so many peoples days. I watch this happen at work with those that cross my path and also at the grocery store and such. Smiling at those that are leaving when I am entering. Now  don;t think - that I think about it all the time- I don't but I do try.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

One Little Word 2014


***** I have for several years now been inspired by Ali Edwards  and chosen "One Word" something to focus on for a year and to grow with, explore and live.  Past years have included Joy, Focus, Organize . . .
This year I choose Breathe.
I am not sure where it will take me but it is the word that speaks to me. There is a lot of change happening over the next year and I am sure I will need to stop and Just breathe on more than one occasion.


verb (used without object), breathed [breethd] Show IPA , breath·ing.
to take air, oxygen, etc., into the lungs and expel it; inhale and exhale; respire.
(in speech) to control the outgoing breath in producing voice and speech sounds.
to pause, as for breath; take rest: How about giving me a chance to breathe?
to move gently or blow lightly, as air.
to live; exist: Hardly a man breathes who has not known great sorrow.
 “Sometimes it's the same moments that take your breath away that breathe purpose and love back into your life.”
Steve Maraboli

Friday, January 10, 2014

Food for thought Friday - Almond Bars

                   I am going to try and share some food item or other thoughts from the kitchen on Fridays. I am not going to have stylized food photos. I will share recipes sometimes. I like to cook , bake and I like to share the bounty from the kitchen in many ways with others. I have come to recognize that time around the table with family friends and strangers is important, but it does not need to be all homemade- it is the time that is important. Since I have had multiple requests for this recipe, simple as it is, I decided to just share it here.
  Almond Bars

Beat eggs and sugar until Lemon color

Add 2 1/2 -3 tsp. Pure Almond Extract

Into the oven - add sliced almonds and any decorating sugars that you want.

Out of the oven -don't overcook

Ready for Tea

Almond Bars:     325 degrees for 30-35 minutes
Just 5 ingredients makes these yummy special bars.

4 eggs
2cups sugar
1 cup melted butter
2 cups flour
2 1/2 -3 cups pure almond extract

Beat eggs and sugar together until a nice Lemon color
Beat in Melted butter and almond extract
Gradually mix in flour, mix well, it will become thickened at this point.
Grease ( spray Pam) a 9x13 pan and spread batter in the pan.
Add toppings as desired, sliced Almonds, sugars, Decor elements

Bake 325 degrees for 30-35 min - you want them on the moister side for more flavor I think .  I also think that they are almost better the next day- there is more flavor.  They seem to keep very  very well.

This is excerpt from where I found this recipe
"This is one of my favorite recipes for last-minute school bake sales," writes Sandy Kerrison from her home in Lockport, New York. "

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday . .

“The thing I remember best about successful people I've met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they're doing and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success. They just love what they're doing, and they love it in front of others.”
Fred Rogers, The World According to Mister Rogers

 I would agree with this quote. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2014 Book List - proposed

2014 Book List - proposed

So after a lot of thought I have settled on  about 18 books to read in 2014 I am not sure if this is to high or to low right now. . . . we shall see.

I have given some thought to what I want to read- there are just so many possibilities . . . . I am trying to mix it up a little, I like non-fiction, I like memoirs, I like good fiction, and not on the list right now but sure there will be a bit of Brain candy or Fufu - easy peasy reads that don't involve a lot of thought.  I get many book recommendations from patients that I work with.  Books are not as neutral conversation topic as gardening or weather but if they have one in hand, that they are reading while waiting, it can be a good jumping off point.

The tenative list is as follows:

1.  The Snow Child: A Novel by Eowyn Ivey
2. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingslover
3. Carve Stamp ,Play by Julie Fei Fan Balzer
4. The  Signature of All Things: A Novel by Elizabeth Gilbert
5. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't stop Talking by Susan Cain
6. Kingbird Highway: The biggest year in the Life of an Extreme Birder by  Kenn Kaufman
7. Murder and Mayheim in Mendon by Diane Ham
8. Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace and Learning the Hard way by Shauna Neiquist
9. Caring for the Painful Thumb by  Jan Albrecht
10. Dinner a Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach
11. Memoir of the Sunday Brunch by Julia Pandl
12. Forest Unseen by David George Haskell
13. The  Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
14. Ready for Air: A Journey through Premature Motherhood by Kate Hopper
15. Quotes Illustrated by Lesley Riley
16. The Art of Whimsical Lettering by Joanne Sharpe
 Many magazines, newspapers and Professional Journals or articles.
Mary Englebreit

Friday, January 3, 2014

Cookies 2013

Put into a Church Auction

For a Bridal Shower

Chocolate Crackle Cookie on my Husbands Birthday!

Part of a Tray for Robotics Saturday Lunch

      Well I have to say that I have always liked to bake cookies.  I am not sure if it is the taste or the size or the pretty factor but something really intrigues me.  To get such flavor out of something so small?  May be that is it. Some Christmas Seasons I bake more than others. Since I had several events to take cookies to , I baked quite a bit  this season but I still did not get made all the kinds that the family wanted.  Some of what I did make are as follows:
  • Anise sugar cookie cutouts - family German recipe
  • Gingerbread cutouts with lemon icing - recipe from my friends Grandma in Minnesota
  • Jan Hagels - Dutch cookie from Jr. League of Holland Michigan
  • Pecan Butter Balls- new this year from a book I read
  • Oatmeal Chocolate Chip - Chestnut Hill Original
  • Spritz
  • Jammy Dodgers - Tea Cookbook
  • Almond Bars- new this year- the yummiest from a woman in Lockport NY
  • Peanut Butter Blossoms
  • Snicker-doodles - award winning from my friend Missy
  • Plain Sugar cookie cutouts
  • Buttermilk cutouts- new from friends MIL
  • Chocolate Crackle Cookie- Martha Stewart cookbook
  •  Easy Fudge -
  • Peanut Clusters
  • Cris Cross Jelly Squares - from Sophie-  one of my mom's best Friends
Do you have a favorite Cookie that you like to make?  Does it have a story?
 I make the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies the most often in a year and I really wonder just how many batches I make.  I bet in a year I make 50-75 batches - that would be 100-150 dozen  or 1200 - 1800 cookies - just of that kind.   I am not sure if my Math is quite right or not.  The next most popular is a Ginger cookie. So bake on . . .

PS- I know . . . that's a lot of cookies . . . please realize they go to church, to scouts, to school, to PTA, to Robotics, to neighbors, to stampers, to Quilt Guild,  to worksites, they do not all stay or are consumed in our house by any means.