Monday, September 28, 2015

~ Monday Musings ~

I'm still waiting for fall to arrive here!  At least we're in the high 80's today rather than the 90's. I understand next weekend is supposed to be in the 80's also.  If you're having cool air in your area, please send it this way!  :)

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Please excuse me while I vent a bit ~ pop-ups on blogs just drive me crazy!  I realize that's not a popular statement to make but the blogs load very slowly, can't see a full photo without taking time to hide the pop-up and on and on. I know each blogger has their reasons but it causes some major frustrations for visitors.  Well, at least for me ~  :/

Another annoyance is a "no reply blogger".  I am so appreciative when someone takes the time to stop by and leave a comment!! I prefer communicating via email and not by leaving a response on the blog. I don't think anyone has time to go back to a blog and search for a response. Sometimes it's difficult to find an email addy 'cause clicking on the person's name leads to a Google +  profile, not the blog. Then one has to search that profile for a blog link.  I'm certainly not a techie person ~ I often wish for that talent and knowledge! ~ but I understand that many of these glitches are caused by Google + .  I have no way of knowing if that's true, nor do I have any idea how to fix it!  Oh well....

Just so you'll know, that's all my vetching for the day!!  I hope you'll read on...

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I found this devotional journal this weekend that is on sale ~ $6.79 vs $10. Stormie Omartian is a wonderful Christian author ~ just in case you're not familiar with her. If you click on the book title below the photo it will take you to the website.

9780718037819, CU Seven Prayers Devotional Journal, Stormie Omartian

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If you're not familiar with Alexandra Stoddard, you're missing out!  Take a look ~

A Place to Gather, Sustain & Revive: Our living room fireplace is very important to my husband, Peter, and me. We have a love seat and comfortable upholstered chairs on swivels where we come together, alone or with family and friends. In the winter months, a roaring fire creates a focal point of warmth, energy, and the spirit of the moment. We gather there to sustain ourselves. The purple handwoven throw makes us feel cozy. Here, love is generously shared.

Her notable career as an interior designer began in 1963, when Alexandra Stoddard joined the legendary firm McMillen, Inc., going on to design interiors all over the world. She is sought today as a lecturer, author, and philosopher on the art of living.

I discovered her years ago when I purchased this book:
She's written many more ~ just take your choice!  :)  She reminds me of Sarah ban Breathnach and her book, "Simple Abundance".  If you haven't read it, it's a must too! I can't tell you how many times I've read it through the years. She used to be on Oprah quite often in the early 90's and always promoted Gratitude Journals. I agree! I honestly think that if you take a few minutes daily to write down what you're grateful for, it will change your life!  She suggests starting with just 5 items and that's fine but I promise your list will grow!  :)  When I first started these journals, my mother was seriously ill, my job was extremely stressful and a few other things were going on. I remember the first night I wrote "I made it through the day!"  That was HUGE too.

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I recently had my well woman appointment with my Dr.  Most of my numbers via the blood work were not good so some changes have to be made re: diet and exercise. Wanna join me?   My thyroid level was good, however, I'm deficient in Vitamin D. That's happened in the past although it's difficult to grasp due to the hot sun we have here. A friend sent me this article so thought I'd share. 

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I received my catalogue from King Arthur Flour today and I'm starving!  I'd also love to have so many of the items and go in the kitchen and bake until I couldn't!!  :)  Lots of unusual baking ingredients, pans, and more. You can almost smell the apples and cinnamon just by looking at the photos.  :)

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read and I hope, comment. I certainly won't be offended if you happen to disagree with my "annoyances".  Have a wonder*filled week!   

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

~ A Different Apple Pie ~

FORWARD: This is a rerun! ;-)  I apologize in advance for the poor photography!

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 large 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!

Always add the Love ~ 

I am so NOT a photographer so some pics came out larger than others. You can tell those that are blurry didn't publish well. :-(  Just so you know, I don't use that camera anymore!

 I do hope that you will try this! I know you'll find it as delicious as we all did.

 Joining ~ 

Cookin and Craftin - My 2 Favorite Things!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

~ Living Your Life ~

This is a bit different than the usual "Silent Sunday" posts. A sweet friend that I used to work with passed away suddenly Friday evening. She and her family moved to Washington state several years ago so we kept up with each other and other friends on Facebook. Dayna had major surgery a few weeks ago and had been resting at home. She decided she had to return to work last week...much too soon!...and after the 2nd day she couldn't make it, too weak. I don't know the cause of death at this point, I'm still just stunned!  She adored her husband,  13 yr old daughter, the dogs and people. She did live her life full on which is wonderful!

I am reminded that we all need to "live like we're dying" (Tim McGraw) and not spend time "doing".  "Being" is so much more important! I've always loved this essay by Erma Bombeck ~ so much truth in it. My mother was one to save all the good stuff ~ the special towels and sheets, candles, beautiful dishes and crystal, table linens and more. These were only for special guests!  I told her she was special and should be using everything every day. :)

If I ever have that little twinge of her voice about "saving this or that" I eliminate it immediately!  IF I don't burn the wonderful candles or use the special linens, then someone else could tomorrow if I'm gone. I love drinking oj, water and anything else out of crystal! :)  So please slow down, relax about all the projects, spend precious time with your children, family and friends. Love stronger, live passionately and, by all means, hug often!

Erma Bombeck

If I had my life to live over...

Someone asked me the other day if I had my life to live over would I change anything.

My answer was no, but then I thought about it and changed my mind.

If I had my life to live over again I would have waxed less and listened more.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy and complaining about the shadow over my feet, I'd have cherished every minute of it and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was to be my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten popcorn in the "good" living room and worried less about the dirt when you lit the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have burnt the pink candle that was sculptured like a rose before it melted while being stored.

I would have sat cross-legged on the lawn with my children and never worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television ... and more while watching real life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband which I took for granted.

I would have eaten less cottage cheese and more ice cream.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the Earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for a day.

I would never have bought ANYTHING just because it was practical/wouldn't show soil/ guaranteed to last a lifetime.

When my child kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now, go get washed up for dinner."

There would have been more I love yous ... more I'm sorrys ... more I'm listenings ... but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it ... look at it and really see it ... try it on ... live it ... exhaust it ... and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it.”

Thursday, September 10, 2015

~ 14 Years and We Will Not Forget ~

Now...14 years ago ~

In memory of all that were lost that day as well as honoring all of the first responders.

 In memory of my fellow employees ~

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

~ Mexican Chicken Casserole ~

I'm thinking "Fall" even though it's still hot and humid here. We did have rain last night and today and a bit cooler.  Nothing is as good as Mexican food in cool weather or anytime in my case!  :)  This is easy and tasty ~ I hope you try it and enjoy if you do! 

Skinny Mexican Chicken Casserole

Mexican Chicken Casserole


1 bag (11 oz) Green Giant Steamers Frozen Corn & Black Beans with Brown Rice in
a Southwestern Style Sauce
2 c. cubed or shredded chicken
1 can (10 oz) Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce
1/4 c. chopped green onions (about 4 medium)
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
3/4 c. finely shredded Mexican style cheese blend
1 c. shredded lettuce
1 tomato, chopped

>>>  Feel free to add other ingredients of your choice...chopped jalapenos, chopped green chilies, more spices, etc.  Use the cheese of your choice ~ I love pepper jack!

  •  Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 9-inch glass pie plate or shallow small casserole with cooking spray. Cook rice mixture as directed on bag for minimum time. In large bowl, mix chicken, rice mixture and enchilada sauce. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the green onions, the cilantro and bell pepper. Spoon into pie plate.
  •  Bake uncovered 30 to 35 minutes or until bubbly and heated through. Sprinkle with cheese; bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Top with shredded lettuce, tomato and remaining green onions. Again, use toppings you like ~ sour cream, more cheese, avocado, etc.

  • Joining ~ 
  • Full Plate Thursday ~ Miz Helen's Country Cottage
  • Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm
  • The Inspiration Gallery ~ Craftberry Bush

Sunday, September 6, 2015

~ Silent Sunday from an 8 Year Old ~

It was written by an 8-year-old named Danny Dutton, who lives in Chula Vista , CA. He wrote it for his third grade homework assignment, to 'explain God.' I wonder if any of us could have done as well ?
[ .... And he had such an assignment, in California , and someone published it, I guess miracles do happen ! ... ]

'One of God's main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die, so there will be enough people to take care of things on earth. He doesn't make grownups, just babies. I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way he doesn't have to take up his valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to mothers and fathers.'

'God's second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, since some people, like preachers and things, pray at times beside bedtime. God doesn't have time to listen to the radio or TV because of this. Because he hears everything, there must be a terrible lot of noise in his ears, unless he has thought of a way to turn it off.'

'God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere which keeps Him pretty busy. So you shouldn't go wasting his time by going over your mom and dad's head asking for something they said you couldn't have.'

'Atheists are people who don't believe in God. I don't think there are any in Chula Vista ... At least there aren't any who come to our church.'

'Jesus is God's Son. He used to do all the hard work, like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach the people who didn't want to learn about God. They finally got tired of him preaching to them and they crucified him But he was good and kind, like his father, and he told his father that they didn't know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said O.K.'

'His dad (God) appreciated everything that he had done and all his hard work on earth so he told him he didn't have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven. So he did. And now he helps his dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of and which ones he can take care of himself without having to bother God. Like a secretary, only more important.'

'You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to help you because they got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the time.' 

'You should always go to church because it makes God happy, and if there's anybody you want to make happy, it's God!

Don't skip church to do something you think will be more fun like going to the beach. This is wrong. And besides the sun doesn't come out at the beach until later anyway.'

'If you don't believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely, because your parents can't go everywhere with you, like to camp, but God can. It is good to know He's around you when you're scared, in the dark or when you can't swim and you get thrown into real deep water by big kids.'

' shouldn't just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and he can take me back anytime he pleases. And that's why I believe in God!'

Friday, September 4, 2015

~ Acts of Kindness Challenge ~

For this holiday weekend, I challenge you to go out of your way to do at least one 
kind thing for a random stranger. Big or small, it doesn't matter what it is, and it 
doesn't have to cost you anything other than a few seconds of your time. Two things 
will happen. First, you will get the self satisfaction of making someone's day by 
giving a random gift or just doing an act of kindness. Second, even if they don't pass 
it on at least they know that someone noticed them and appreciated them.

With all that's going on in the world today, we should make an effort to remind 
that we are all in this together! Be willing to help people along the way,
directly or indirectly, anonymously, or face to face. heart emoticon

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

~ Banana Crunch Cake ~

 Banana Crunch Cake 

This recipe was shared with me in the early 90's by a very special and talented friend at work. She was a fabulous cook and usually brought treats to us every Friday. We talked her into doing a cookbook for us with all the favorites and we paid for the printing. Such a treasure!  I think I've finally been successful in organizing all my cookbooks ~ and that's no small feat. :)  Love them and can read them like a novel!

Crunch Topping:
5 T. butter
1 small can Coconut
1 c. chopped pecans (I always toast them)
1 c. brown sugar  (NOT firmly packed)
1 c. uncooked oatmeal  (I always use the regular, not the minute type)

1 yellow cake mix
1 c. sour cream
4 eggs
2 large bananas, slightly mash before adding to the mixture

Combine all the topping ingredients except the butter. Melt the butter and then pour over the other ingredients and mix well. Set aside.

Combine ingredients for cake and beat at high speed of electric mixer for 2 - 3 minutes.  Spray a tube or Bundt pan with Baker's Joy. 

Put 1/3 of the cake batter in the baking pan. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the topping mixture.
Repeat this procedure 2 more times, ending with the topping.

This is the first layer of both.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50 - 60 minutes. Of course, oven temps vary...mine was done at 45 min. Also, to avoid the topping burning, I tented a piece of foil over the cake for the entire baking period. You will see that the finished product is toasted but not burned. Cool upright in pan for 15 minutes, then turn it out. Turn the cake over so that the crumb mixture is on top.  When I first turned the cake, I placed a plate over the baking pan and once it was out, I then put another plate over the cake and turned it over. Does that make sense?  If not, by all means let me know!

You already know that I'm the worst at taking pictures while cooking or baking. I tried to do it right this time and still missed!  I honestly don't know why I didn't take a photo when sliced ~ I wanted you to see how pretty the layers are.  I get in a hurry and just forget!  My apologies ~

The cake is so nice and moist with the sour cream added and it makes a wonderful coffee cake to serve guests. I hope you try it and enjoy!

Joining ~