Wednesday, December 24, 2014

~ A Mom's Letter to Santa ~




Dear Santa:
I've been a good Mom all year. I've fed, cleaned, and cuddled my children on demand, visited their doctor's office more than my doctor, sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground and figured out how to attach nine patches onto my daughter's girl scout sash with staples and a glue gun. I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to write this letter with my son's red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I'll find anymore free time in the next 18 years.
Here are my Christmas wishes:
I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache after a day of chasing kids (in any color, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don't flap in the breeze, but are strong enough to carry a screaming toddler out of the candy aisle in the grocery store.
I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy.
If you're hauling big ticket items this year I'd like a car with fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music; a television that doesn't broadcast any programs containing talking animals; and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.
On the practical side, I could use a talking daughter doll that says, "Yes, Mommy" to boost my parental confidence, along with one potty-trained toddler, two kids who don't fight, and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools. I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting, "Don't eat in the living room" and "Take your hands off your brother," because my voice seems to be just out of my children's hearing range and can only be heard by the dog. And please don't forget the Playdoh Travel Pack, the hottest stocking stuffer this year for mothers of preschoolers. It comes in three fluorescent colors and is guaranteed to crumble on any carpet making the In-laws' house seem just like mine.
If it's too late to find any of these products, I'd settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container.
If you don't mind I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely. It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family; or if my toddler didn't look so cute sneaking downstairs
to eat contraband ice cream in his pajamas at midnight.
Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is ringing and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back. Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the chimney and come in and dry off by the fire so you don't catch cold. Help yourself to cookies on the table, but don't eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.
Yours Always...Mom.
PS. One more thing...you can cancel all my requests if you can keep my children young enough to believe in you.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

~ Favorite Christmas Cake ~



White Cake with Cranberry Filling and Orange Buttercream Recipe

>>> Disclaimer:  I haven't made this cake although I have all the ingredients to do so. Found it on the Southern Living site and love the combination of flavors plus the beautiful appearance. I can't wait to taste it!


White Cake with Cranberry Filling and Orange Buttercream

You will need to bake your favorite white cake in 3 layers. This recipe is only for the filling and frosting.

 

filling
1 (12-oz.) jar cherry preserves
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 1/2 cups fresh cranberries*
BUTTERCREAM
1 cup butter, softened
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 (32-oz.) package powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 Tbsp. milk (optional)
 

Preparation

1. Prepare Filling: Bring first 3 ingredients and 3 cups cranberries to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Boil, stirring often, 5 to 6 minutes or until cranberries begin to pop. Transfer 1 cup cranberry mixture to a small bowl, and stir in remaining 1/2 cup whole cranberries.
(This will be the Cranberry Topping.) Transfer remaining hot Cranberry Filling mixture to another small bowl. Cool both mixtures completely (1 hour). Cover; chill 8 hours.
 

2. Prepare Buttercream: Beat butter and next 2 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer 1 to 2 minutes or until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar alternately with orange juice. Beat at low speed until blended and smooth after each addition. Stir in vanilla. If desired, add 1 to 2 Tbsp. milk, 1 tsp. at a time, beating until frosting reaches desired consistency.
 
3. Place 1 Basic White Cake layer on a serving platter. Spoon 1 1/2 cups buttercream into a zip-top plastic freezer bag. Snip 1 corner of bag to make a small hole. Pipe a ring of frosting around cake layer just inside the top edge. Spread cake layer with half of chilled Cranberry Filling (without whole berries), spreading to edge of piped frosting. Top with second cake layer. Repeat procedure with frosting and remaining Cranberry Filling (without whole berries). Top with third layer. Spread remaining buttercream over top and sides of cake. Pipe a ring of frosting around top cake layer just inside the top edge. Spread Cranberry Topping (with whole berries) over top cake layer, spreading to edge of piped frosting.
 
*Frozen cranberries, thawed, may be substituted.
 
 
Joining ~

 


 

Monday, December 15, 2014

~ Monday Musings ~

I haven't been around to visit as I'd like, nor have I posted. It's been a busy time plus my back has been such a problem.  I go for injections in the morning, however, that's just a temporary fix. Not sure what is next but I plan to see a Neurosurgeon after the first of the year. Surgery is a last resort as far as I'm concerned and my spine Dr said it would be hard for me. I do know that I can't continue with this pain and the limitations. There's so much I want to do but have to schedule special events with other activities and take pain meds. Not fun!

In the mean time, I've barely decorated for Christmas. I did put up a small tree and it looks pretty good!  :)   I'll post photos of it later...I still have to decide on a skirt for it. It's been so difficult to get into the holidays since Abby's been gone. She absolutely loved Christmas!  I know she would be very disappointed if I had not put up a tree. :) I chose a small white one this year and used gold and silver decorations. I have to say that I really love a green tree with white lights though...just seems more like Christmas!


I've really enjoyed celebrating my birthday!  I choose to celebrate from Thanksgiving to New Year's! This photo is from a brunch that my daughter and my "adopted" daughter gave at Patrizio's in Dallas on Saturday, the 6th. There are more photos to come ~ great friends, wonderful food and so much fun!


Bellini Birthday Cheers!  :)  They do serve the most incredible Bellini's ~ love them!


Last Thursday, my daughter treated me to an evening at the Fair Park Musicals in Dallas. We saw "A Christmas Story" and it was fantastic!  She and I arrived early and had a glass of champagne while we waited for friends to arrive. We all had dinner and it was delicious!  It was such a special evening and I'm so grateful we were able to do it.


I feel so blessed to be able to do these things and they are such treasured memories.

In the midst of my fun, a special friend passed away on the 4th. He was my "first love" and his birthday was Dec.3rd, same as my mother's. Unfortunately, his family was taken by surprise by a sudden illness and then losing him.  Another friend was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy last Friday. A dear friend that I used to work with lost her Dad last week. He was 97 and lived a full life. He had had some health issues recently but was doing better. He was in a retirement/assisted living facility, came down for lunch and just passed away while sitting there. Best way to go, IMHO!

Even though Christmas is not the same without Abby and my back has been driving me crazy, there are so many blessings overall. We have to be grateful every day, for everything!

I need to get to bed, not only because I'm tired but also because I have to fast now. :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

~ A Birthday and an Italian Cream Cake ~

This cake is my very favorite and my mother always made it for my birthday. My special day was Monday, the 1st. At this point in life, it seems better to look forward rather than think about all the years that have passed. :) I actually bought the ingredients to make the cake for "me" but my back has been such a problem that I haven't felt like it. My mother hadn't been able to cook or bake for several years prior to her passing away but one thing that hit me hard was missing this cake. It's the little things that add to our treasured memories when we lose someone. Her birthday was today, December 3rd. She would have been 100! Can you even imagine?  There are many out there though that are over a hundred and I'm always amazed to find out about those that are still active, mentally alert and enjoying life.

I've always said that my mother, her siblings and most of the people of that generation were made of different stock. :)  Of course they worked hard physically as so many were farmers or they had their own businesses, etc. They did have wonderful food from their gardens ~ not all the processed and fake foods that are out there today. They usually had cattle, hogs, chickens and perhaps goats. These sources provided milk and eggs as well as meat. No antibiotics in meats or milk, no chemicals used in their yards or gardens and certainly not all the preservatives that food items contain today. They had such a different life style with no stress job wise. I'm sure they worried about the weather, the crops and their animals but not the usual 9-5 hurry, run, climb the ladder, living at 35,000 feet every week, fast food, activity laden schedules of today. They didn't try to keep up with the Jones's with their homes, cars, vacations, etc. It was certainly a kinder, gentler lifestyle. I feel very fortunate that I grew up in the 50's and 60's.

Back to the cake! :)  I feel sure that most of you have had this incredible dessert at some point and you may have your favorite recipe for it already. I just felt compelled to share it as it's such a wonderful memory for me!





1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened 
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar 
large eggs, separated 
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour 
1/4  tsp salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup chopped pecans (toasted)
1 cup flaked coconut

Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add vanilla, beating until blended.

Combine flour and soda; add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in coconut.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, and fold into batter. Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

Frosting
2 packages Cream Cheese, softened  (one 8 oz and one 3 oz)
1/2 c. butter, softened
3-3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c. coarsely chopped pecans (toasted)
1/2 c. or more coconut (optional)
  • In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth. Fold in pecans and coconut. Spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake. Press pecans onto sides of cake. Store in the refrigerator. 
  • Yield: 12 servings.

I'll share a bit more about my birthday celebrations later ~ :)

Sharing with ~


Thursday, November 27, 2014

~ Be Thankful ~




Wishing each of you and your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2014

~ Pumpkin Trifle ~


I shared this recipe last year, however, I thought perhaps there might be new peeps that might like to try it. Great recipe for a crowd!


This is a dessert that everyone will love!  You must try it and see if you agree.


Ingredients: 
1 box / bag pumpkin bread mix (such as Pillsbury Pumpkin Bread Mix or Krusteaz Pumpkin Spice Quick Bread Mix)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 15 oz. can pure Pumpkin
½ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup Grand Marnier
¼ cup water
1 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Bake bread as directed in a bread loaf pan.
  2. Let cool completely before slicing into ½” slices.
  3. While bread is baking, beat whipping cream, vanilla and sugar on medium - high speed until it forms peaks.
  4. Add softened cream cheese and mix on low until well blended.
  5. Fold in pumpkin with a large spoon. Refrigerate mixture until ready to assemble trifle.
  6. In a saucepan, combine syrup, Grand Marnier and water over med - high heat and bring to low boil. Turn heat down to medium - low and simmer for 4 - 5 minutes.
  7. To assemble, form a few bread slices around bottom of trifle dish (filling in little holes with bread pieces).
  8. Lightly coat bread slices with sauce using a pastry brush.
  9. Spread pumpkin mixture evenly over bread.
  10. Repeat layers up to three or four times depending on size of trifle dish.
  11. Garnish top of pumpkin trifle with pecan pieces. 
  12. May serve immediately or refrigerate several hours before serving.
There are a few steps to making this but it's absolutely worth it! It feeds a large group, believe me. Just look at the ooey gooey goodness that's layered one on top of the other!  :)


I added pecans to the pumpkin bread mix also...of course, I love pecans!  The directions did not state where to add the cinnamon and my bread was already baking when I realized this. I just added the cinnamon to the Grand Marnier mix! This recipe was adapted from Amy @ My Texas Today. She's delightful and has lots of great recipes for you to try!

Joining ~ 


Saturday, November 22, 2014

~ Silent Sunday ~


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Philippians 4:6

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

Psalm 107

"Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his faithful love endures forever!"

1 Thessalonians 5:18

" ... give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."
I am so very grateful for each of you!  I appreciate your taking the time to stop by and especially for the lovely comments. You make my heart smile ~  :)  If I don't "see" you before, I hope that you and your loved ones have a safe, blessed and very Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

~ The Size of Texas ~



Texas is 790 miles long. The red on this map represents the area that is within 790 miles of Texas. That is to say, if you are within this red zone, you are closer to somewhere in Texas than other parts of Texas are…


Looking for a few more,
Beaumont is closer to Tampa than El Paso.
Brownsville is closer to Mexico City than DFW.
Texarkana is closer to Atlanta than El Paso.
Corpus is closer to Cuba than Denver.
Austin is closer to New Orleans than El Paso
Downtown Fort Worth to downtown Dallas is longer than the Gaza Strip is long, longer than the English channel.
Dallas to Houston is nearly the same distance as Paris to London.

Monday, November 17, 2014

~ Monday Musings ~



Seems everywhere I look, it's all about Christmas!  I heard today that it's 5 weeks away. The big blogs are planning another tour of homes, the stores are currently full of Christmas items and the trees are appearing. I just don't have the spirit. I picked up a few things at Michael's on Saturday and haven't even emptied the bags. :)  When I moved I gave a ton of decor away ~ just didn't care about it.  I used to be such a Christmas girl ~ all the decor, music, baking, parties, clothes, etc. A lot of the excitement went away with Abby. I do realize though that she would be on my case for this mood I'm in!  :)


Snow

It's very, very cold here!  We had a dusting of snow last night. Seems West Texas received a few inches and they have travel difficulties. The sun has been shining today so that does make a positive difference even though the wind is icy cold. Typical Texas, we went from 80 one day to low 30's/high 20's the next!

Bill Cosby Performs At The Treasure Island

What are your thoughts re: the allegations being made against Bill Cosby?  I am going to be extremely disappointed if they are proven to be true. I loved "The Cosby Show" and always thought it would be great to have him as a dad. Just a note...I do NOT agree that there is a statute of limitations regarding rape. Some girls/women are too frightened, embarrassed or intimidated to come forward immediately. 


I've probably mentioned once or twice that I'm a certified candleholic!  Haven't found a 12 Step Program for it so I just continue with my addiction which is total bliss. Do your tastes or fragrances change for scents each season?  I love, love fall and the spicy scent of cinnamon, apples, pumpkin, etc. The season is gone way too soon for me!  Yesterday I was thinking about favorite fragrances for the Christmas season. These are more difficult for me for some reason. My daughter recently purchased one called "Champagne" and I love it! What are your favorites?



These images are NOT me but could be!  My back has been horrible the past couple of weeks. I've had injections before but I really prefer not to do them ~ dislike having too many steroids. The cold and wet weather doesn't help. No one told me that getting older would bring these things! :)

I think I've rambled enough for one day. Hopefully, I'll get around to visiting more!  Have a wonder*filled week my friends!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

~ Laura Bush’s TEXAS Buttermilk Coconut Pie with Whipped Cream ~


I just want to say upfront that the recipe, photos and history are from 

Lea Berman's blog "America's Table"

Lea served as the White House Social Secretary during the George W. Bush presidency. This is NOT about politics but about a gracious First Lady and one of my favorite recipes. I had this recipe eons ago and somehow lost it. While trying to locate it, I ran across Lea's blog and she had posted this for Laura's birthday on November 4, 2014. 

I hope that you enjoy the pie as well as a bit of history. And I'm sure you realize "Texas" is a part of this too.  :)





Laura Bush's Buttermilk Coconut Pie
Serves: 6
Prep time: 50 minutes
1 unbaked nine-inch pie shell
½ stick melted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup sweetened, shredded coconut, plus ½ cup of toasted coconut for garnish
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 cups whipped cream 
Mix butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, coconut and buttermilk, and pour into pie shell. Laura Bush's Buttermilk Coconut Pie-batter

Laura Bush's Buttermilk Coconut Pie fillingBake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.
In a dry frying pan set at low heat, toast the coconut until it is golden brown.
Garnish pie with whipped cream, and sprinkle with toasted coconut.
Laura Bush's Buttermilk Coconut Pie topping

Laura Bush's Buttermilk Coconut Pie


I learned a lot about hospitality from Laura Bush.  She understood and exemplified the desire to give every White House guest a memory of a lifetime, and beyond, because each guest’s visit becomes a part of their personal family history.  She thought carefully about every event she hosted: how it could be exceptional, how the food and flowers could in some way reflect the occasion, how the calligraphy honored the attendees – it was a package of small but important details that led to a great party. With the exception of the Christmas party buffets (which had at least one dress rehearsal to make sure every dish was delicious, beautifully presented, and complemented the meal as a whole), we never served the same meal twice.  Every tablecloth, centerpiece, menu card, and meal was unique to that specific event.
Laura Bush knew how to please and impress her guests. She and the President once hosted a lecture for a large group of scholars and historians of Abraham Lincoln, to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday. As the event was about to begin, she called me aside and asked me to arrange for guests to be invited to visit the Lincoln Bedroom, which is upstairs in the private family quarters. The Secret Service quickly made the adjustment to escort guests upstairs, because it was not common for a big group to suddenly troop up to the family quarters. For those scholars who’d been studying Lincoln and the Civil War all of their adult lives, it was a singular moment. There were even a few tears at the sight of the Gettysburg Address on display in the Lincoln Bedroom, the only one of five copies signed, dated and titled by Lincoln. They wandered through into the Lincoln Sitting Room, and reluctantly, back down to the party. She gave those people the memory of a lifetime.
Laura Bush was very popular among the White House staff because she always remembered to thank people for the job they were doing. It made them even more loyal and willing to pitch in when things became hectic. She would invite her East Wing staff up to the family dining room on a regular basis for lunch, complete with menucards, lovely centerpieces and careful seating arrangements.  It made me realize how thoughtfulness can be a very potent leadership skill. And another thing about Laura Bush – she never misspoke. Can you think of one other public figure about whom that can be said? Plain-spoken, forthright, and always willing to give another person the benefit of the doubt – also important elements of leadership.  The best bosses are also teachers, who make us better at what we do and how we live.
Today is her birthday, and I want to thank Laura Bush for her service to the nation, and also for the education I received in her employ. And in her honor I’m happy to share her recipe for buttermilk coconut pie. Happy birthday!
Joining ~