Sunday, February 27, 2011

~ You've Got (More) Mail ~

Deborah at Fairfield House is hosting another postcard exchange.  I think this will be fun and a great way to learn more about other bloggers, where they live, information about their city/state/family...whatever one chooses to share.  Drop by her blog and check the details!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

~ A crazy week ~

I think the full moon was really over last week but it didn't feel that way to me. Not sure what was going on but not a lot of fun things here.  Allergies, migraines & vertigo reared their ugly heads and I felt lousy most of the week.  I didn't have the energy or the creativity to create, cook or bake anything exciting. Had some computer problems so unable to visit your wonderful blogs but I think that is resolved now.

Have you noticed the price of food?  Wow, it seems each time I go grocery shopping another $1.00 or so has been added to prices.  The price of gasoline is out of sight...and that is totally ridiculous, in my humble opinion. :-)  We have such a wealth of oil right here in the U.S., however, our gov't seems to love keeping us dependent on foreign oil.  Not sure if you are familiar with the Bakken Formation or not. Two friends of mine in my Bible Study group are from N.D. and have explained a lot about this. There are tons of jobs available in that area and not many are aware. The small towns are not equipped for the influx of people coming there to work so lots of new accomodations need to be built. That creates positions for carpenters, tile masons & all types of construction workers. Then there is a need for more restaurants, hotels/motels, homes, apts, etc.

Ok, enough of the negative!  :-)  It has been predominantly sunshine each day and temps in the 60's and 70's. I am sorting through lots of paper work and shredding. Do you ever procrastinate doing this and then you have a ton of it like I do?  I've also been reading and that is a joy!  I'm going through photos and negatives of same and deciding on which ones to have printed or perhaps enlarged for framing. I LOVE having photos scattered around!  It will soon be time to plant containers for my patio....can't wait!  Flowers and green plants make me so happy.

What have you been up to?  I've really missed connecting with all of you this past week.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

~ A Cup Of Joe For A Joe ~

If you had the opportunity, would you buy a cup of coffee for one of our military personnel?  Sure you would!  :-)  Here's your chance ~

We snapped this pic of your US Army JOE getting set to enjoy his very first sip of Green Beans coffee from our new cafe at Forward Operating Base Ramrod in Afghanistan. The Troops at Ramrod are signing up for Cup Of Joe; we'll make sure your letters from home and COJs get to them! To SEND YOUR COJ: 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

~ Texas Pecan and Chocolate Pie ~

My family loves anything chocolate and my daughter and grandson adore pecan pie. This meets everyone's expectations!  Recipe from Bon Appetit many years ago ~ marrying Texas pecans with chocolate from Mexico.

You will need an unbaked 9" pie crust.  As I said before, my easy go to crusts are the frozen ones made by Marie good friend!  :-)

4 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (firmly packed)
 3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces or halves, lightly toasted 
Stir chocolate and butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until melted. Cool slightly.
Whisk brown sugar, eggs and salt in large bowl to blend. Whisk in corn syrup and chocolate mixture. Sprinkle pecans over unbaked crust. Pour filling over pecans. Bake until crust is golden and filling is puffed, about 55 minutes.

Cool pie completely on rack. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream if you desire. It's fun to add chocolate shavings on top of the whipped cream too.

I am joining Miz Helen's and Michael Lee West for their weekly events.  You're missing out on some of the most fabulous recipes if you don't stop by their blogs!

I'm also joining Alli for her Sweet Tooth Friday.  Stop by and check out those yummy bars she made!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

~ Counting My Blessings ~

I've kept a Gratitude Journal for  y e a r s.  When Sarah ban Breathnach's book, "Simple Abundance" first came out  y e a r s  it quickly became one of my favorites!  She was on Oprah off & on and always recommended Gratitude Journals....listing 5 things each day that you were grateful for. At the time I was still working (extremely stressful job) and many nights I listed "Made it through today!" as one of my 5. :-)  Honestly, I sincerely believe if you do this, your life will change....for the better!  I promise ~

Anyway, this year I want to focus on gratitude and appreciation. I've felt that having a more visual place to quickly write down some of my blessings was appropriate for me. I've also seen something similar out in blogland, however, I don't remember where.  If you do, please let me know and I will share the credit.

Everything I've used here I had on hand. The only item I did not have was the package of Bistro Pens. Save your 40% coupons for Hobby Lobby as they are expensive.  They allow you to write on glass and then erase it...the only markers that I am aware of that do this.  AGAIN, I do not do photos well ~ I forget to take them and....I'm not a great photographer at all.  Here's the beginning!  Well, not really "THE" beginning....'cause I forgot to take pics of all the supplies, cleaning the glass, gluing the scrapbook paper ~ you know...all that good stuff!

I used scrapbook paper but you could use anything ~ your choice of fabric, burlap, etc.

I'm really loving lime green this year ~ bright and happy I think!

I used those sticky letters that I had to put my little title on!  It's horrible to try and photograph anything with glass.  At least, that's my humble opinion.

And here is where I started adding the numbers ~

I wanted something "spring like" as a bit of added decor and....I LOVE daisies!

Here's the finished product!  Well, maybe not really finished...I'm not that pleased with the ribbon so I'll be doing some more to the decor when I decide what to do.  :-)

 Here's the markers that I mentioned earlier ~ expensive but great to use on glass!  Save those HB coupons ~

Ok, that's my little 'creative endeavor' and I'm linking up with Kara  for her Wednesday happening!  :-)  Please stop by her blog if you are not familiar with it [ can't imagine that there's anyone in blogland that isn't! :-) ] and check out all the creative folks' contributions.


Monday, February 14, 2011

~ Happy Valentine's Day! ~

Wishing you a day filled with love, laughter and all that makes you happy!  Be your own Valentine and do something special just for YOU.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

~ A Different Apple Pie ~

FORWARD:  This is a rerun! If you read my previous post, you'll know the "why".  :-) 

This is one of the best apple pies ever!  It's made a little differently but that adds to the overall flavor.  I'm posting the original recipe and noted my changes along the way.

1 recipe pastry for a double crust  9" pie ~  I allowed the frozen crusts to thaw as I mixed the rest.
1/2  c. unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
8 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and sliced ~ I used 6 apples and you can see it was plenty.
I added cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice...more cinnamon than anything! Did not have Apple Pie Spice on hand.

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. (I used a whisk to ensure there were no lumps & continued using it after adding the water & both sugars. Once the mixture was smooth, I stirred with a wooden spoon.) Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.

2. Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.  (As you will see, I did not do the lattice work crust.)

3. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft. I covered the pie in foil after the first 15 min as it was already browning. I also baked it an hour at 350'...apples were still not tender. I then turned the oven off and left the pie inside, covered until the oven cooled. Perhaps I used too many apples??  ;-)

First, the peeling/coring/slicing of the apples ~

All peeled and tossed with a small amount of lemon juice to help prevent early browning.

Now, the bottom crust ~

I used Marie Callender's frozen pie crusts ~ 2 in a package. Let me tell you, they are the closest to homemade that you will find....and so much easier!  I really stuffed the apples in here ~ :-)

Be SURE and have your pan/cookie sheet lined with foil!  Hopefully will avoid spills & running over. Now, pour the liquid ingredients over the apples....and be very careful as it is hot and tends to run every which way. I moved some of the apples around a bit with a fork in this process. 

That part is done!  Now we add the top crust.  I cut 3 apple shapes out of the center of the 2nd pie crust to vent as well as placing the little apple shapes on top as decoration.

I used the tiny cutters I had from Williams-Sonoma.

I brushed milk over the entire top crust and sprinkled with sanding sugar...helps the browning and a prettier crust when baking is complete.

All done and your kitchen will smell like heaven! 

I am so NOT a photographer but I don't understand how some pics came out larger than others. You can tell those that are blurry didn't publish well.  :-(
I do hope that you will try this!  I know you'll find it as delicious as we all did.
I will be joining  ~


Monday, February 7, 2011

~ Happy Monday! ~

Super Bowl is over...and I am so glad!  Congrats to the Packers!!  They really played a good game. Honestly, it was an honor to have the event here, however, the weather played tricks on everyone and it was a miserable week.  Thank God, the sun came out Friday afternoon and all the ice/snow began to melt. Every TV channel was solid with weather & Super Bowl info ~ kinda like Groundhog Day for us every morning when we got up. :-)

Hoping each of you had a fabulous weekend and have great fun planned for this week. I am still trying to get this place decorated and organized.  I know, I know...slow going. It's very frustrating too as there are heavy items that need to be moved and I have to wait until someone is available. I think I'm probably my own worst enemy too as I keep moving things...from this closet to that...from this cabinet to that one and from one room to another.  Just have to get comfortable!
I would love for any of you fabulous decorators to come on down and help ~ :-)   I would be thrilled to see you plus I would treat you as an honored guest.  Any takers?  LOL


Sunday, February 6, 2011

~ Blogging Tips & Comment Settings ~

A few things that frustrate me...and perhaps they affect you too. "Word verification" and "no reply" available on some blogs. Now please know...I'm not an experienced blogger but I try!  I love to leave comments, however, the word verification thingy just drives me bonkers!  Sometimes I almost just move on 'cause it takes so much time and I could be leaving someone else a comment with the time it takes to verify.  I LOVE to respond to all the wonderful bloggers that take the time to come here and leave a comment...but there's no email addy to respond to them. Has this ever happened to you?  Well, Jodi over at Pleasant Home just posted some really helpful hints and I asked her if I might share them here.  Take a look and see what you think, and by all means, stop by and visit her at her wonderful blog! 

"I've been blogging for a long time. I've left hundreds of comments on other blogs.

Lately my time to visit and comment on blogs, is few and far between. So when I do get a chance to pop over to your blog and I want to leave a comment. I need to do it quick.

Sometimes, that's not so easy. It depends on how you have your comments set up.

There are a few different ways you can set up your comments on Blogger blogs.

I am going to share the way I set my comments up, and personally I think the best way if you're wanting to make commenting easy for your reader's.

Here are step by step instructions. I would highly encourage you to try it this way. Just give it a week. If you're not happy, you can go back in and change it.

1. Design
2. Settings

In this section you will want the following:

Comments - SHOW

Who can comment - ANYONE

Comment form placement - FULL PAGE

Comment Moderation - ONLY ON POSTS OLDER THAN 15 DAYS
you will need to check this circle and type in 15 in the empty box..
Show word verification on comments - NO

Show profile images on comments - YES

Comment Notification Email - Type YOUR email address in this box
(From me ~ create a new email addy just for your blog if you do not want to share your personal email.)

By using the ONLY ON POSTS OLDER THAN 15 DAYS option and with Bloggers new Spam filtering. You don't have to worry about unwanted / spam comments.

By typing your email into the Comment Notification Email box, all comments will be emailed to you. Which allows you to easily reply to your readers. Very cool.

Don't panic if you get a spam type comment in your email. It was probably filtered out by Blogger, but it gets emailed to you anyway. You can go to your blog and check just to make sure, but most likely it's in your Spam box in your dashboard. If it does happen to show up on your blog, just delete it. Easy Peasy.

Having your comments in pop up view and having word verification, SLOWS things down tremendously. There have been many times I have ended up not leaving a comment because it's taking so long. Just think of your readers that only have dial up. (there are still plenty that do) it would take forever!

Try It. I think you'll like it. ;o) "

Thanks a million, Jodi!  You saved me a lot of time by doing this post and allowing me to share it.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

~ Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake ~

I decided to try this recipe, adapted from Paula Deen, as a preview for Valentine's cupcakes. Hmmmmm, delish!  I did well to try a frosting tip for the icing and I used sprinkles as decor ~ not that fancy, right? I was going to use half the icing as white and use pink sprinkles but forgot and added the red food coloring to all of it. I will "enhance" the real thing for Valentine's Day, including some really cute cupcake cups and wrappers I found. I do recommend this recipe!  Make adjustments as you see fit.

1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix
1 (3-ounce) box strawberry-flavored instant jello
1 (15-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract
7 cups confectioners' sugar
Freshly sliced strawberries, for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add pureed strawberries, eggs, oil, and water; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

For the frosting:
In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in 1/4 cup of the strawberry puree and the vanilla extract. (The rest of the puree is leftover but can be used in smoothies or on ice cream or pound cake for a delicious treat.) Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating until smooth.

Spread frosting in between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish with sliced fresh strawberries, if desired.

I'm linking up with Michael Lee West for Foodie Friday.  Bear in mind....these cupcakes look nothing like hers!  :-) You will find some of the very best recipes in blogland so please stop by.

I'm also joining Allison forSweet Tooth Friday. This is her first week for this event so please stop by!

I'm having a blast participating with other great bloggers! Will also be joining Miz Helen for her Full Plate Thursday. You will miss out if you don't stop by her lovely blog.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

~ I don't buy me flowers anymore ~

So I decided to do so!  Sunday afternoon when I went grocery shopping in preparation for our ice/snow storm I decided that flowers were needed. I used to buy them quite often as I LOVE having them in my home.  Just haven't even stopped the past few months to look at them. These were just beautiful I thought and on sale ~ can't get much better, huh?  :-)

I'm not really a pink person but these were pretty and like I said, on sale! Notice the rock that is painted?  Little treats I'm doing for Valentine's Day gifts. So fun and very therapeutic to do. More on that later ~

I will be joining Beverly for Pink Saturday. She has a beautiful blog and tons of great bloggers join in the meme weekly. I hope you do too!  :-)


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

~ Are you ready for some football?

A dear friend of mine and I decided to get out and enjoy the gorgeous day we had here on Saturday ~ it was sunny, 75' and a beautiful tease for spring. We went down to Sundance Square ~ a delightful section of downtown Ft. Worth that we both dearly love!  A lot of money was put into this endeavor years ago to enhance Ft. Worth and allow folks to be downtown in a safe, well lit and delightful area. Lots of restaurants, shops, bars, hotels, theatres and Bass Hall. Police and security are on bikes and are all over the place ~ not that there's a need to but just because. Anyway, Ft. Worth is hosting the Steelers for the Super Bowl...Dallas is hosting the Packers. Here are a few snapshots we took ~

The greatest state....and my favorite city hosting Super Bowl XLV ~ Feb. 6, 2011

Omni Hotel where the Steelers are staying ~ a "Welcome" gift of a handmade saddle is in each player's room. Blew me away!  An awesome gift from the city but what will they do with them?  :-)

Another view of the Omni ~

Flags waving on a building ~

ESPN workers setting up the stages ~

"Hi, my name is Pat and I welcome you to Del Frisco's!"  A superb steak house ~

Two Ft. Worth Diva's ~ :-)

This is in a room adjacent to the Omni's Bar ~ was bright sunshine and we didn't think to use a flash so sorry for the poor quality on the next few pics.  A bit of Ft. Worth history to share with you though.

We had a fun time....walked about 3 miles which was really good for us, especially as we had lunch at Mi Cocina's.  OUTSTANDING restaurant for mexican food!  Again, apologies for the poor photo quality on some pics but hope you enjoyed!