Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat!

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Can you tell which candy is our favorite candy around here? 

Why Yes!  That would be What are Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups for $500 Alex!

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I mixed in a few others types of candy so that hopefully we’ll have some Peanut Butter Cups leftover at the end of the night.

I added some Tootsie Pops for the little ones. 

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And if the teenagers aren’t polite tonight, I might just have to give them the Almond Joys! :)

What’s your favorite Halloween Candy?

Saturday, October 30, 2010


I am in a baking mood lately!  Here is what I whipped up this morning. :)

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I am pretty sure that most people have a favorite way to use up their over-ripe bananas and our favorite around here is my Banana Chocolate Chip Cake which I posted  on my blog as one of my earliest posts.  I was so new to blogging that I did not even know how to post a photo.  I have learned a lot since then!  But that is an awesome recipe and I will probably re-blog about it sometime in the future with a photo because it really is one of our favorites. Banana, Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, Muffins 032

Today, I decided to try a new recipe for Chocolate Chip, Banana, Peanut Butter Muffins.  They are delicious.  Especially hot out of the oven.  I couldn’t really taste the peanut butter but my husband said he could.  I am sure you could easily leave the peanut butter out of these and they would still be delicious. 

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2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup bananas, mashed (3 bananas makes for nice and moist muffins.  2 bananas was a little bit dryer)

1/3 cup milk

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

3 Tbsp. oil

1 egg

1 cup chocolate chips

Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in mixing bow.  Set aside.  In another bowl, mix the mashed bananas, milk, peanut butter, oil and egg.   Make sure these are well mixed.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until combined.  Be careful not to over mix.  Over mixing makes for tough not tender muffins!  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Spoon the batter into a muffin pan that has been sprayed with Pam or use muffin/cupcake liners.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until  the centers test done with a cake tester.  Makes one dozen.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Here is the Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe  that I made yesterday and promised to post here today.  I took a batch with me last night to the Ronald MacDonald House in Winston-Salem.  I made them giant sized and put each one individually in a zip-loc bag to make them easy to “Grab and Go” for the families staying there right now.  Can I just say how much I admire what the Ronald MacDonald House provides for the families that stay there?! 

This recipe makes the best cookies.  I have been using this recipe since since the 1980’s (how’s that for old?!), when I first tasted them at the home of my friend Cindy who is one of my CMU buddies.  She gets all the credit.   We were all marveling on how delicious her cookies were and she said “I know!”  and told us that the recipe came out of the Kitchen Aid Mixer cookbook that you get when you buy one of their mixers.  Like I said yesterday, many of you might already have this gem of a recipe and not know it!

In my very humble opinion :), the secrets to success with these cookies is to ALWAYS use real butter.   Always use cold butter.  Always use cold eggs.  Lots of baking recipes tell you to use room temperature butter but for this recipe I don’t.  I think warm butter makes the cookies spread too much on the cookie sheet and you end up with flat cookies.  My cookies come out thicker and more chunky looking…more like a bakery cookie and I think they are much more attractive.   These cookies bake at a higher temperature too.  Bake them at 375 and not at 350 like a lot of other recipes.  If you want to make a “giant” cookie, I use a large cookie scoop…I got mine at a Pampered Chef party years ago.  So, anyway, those are my tips.  Good luck with these.  They are super good!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 Cup of Sugar

1 Cup of Brown Sugar

1 Cup Butter (2 sticks, cold)

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

3 cups flour

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with foil. 

Cream the butter in the mixer bowl.  Add the sugar and brown sugar till well mixed.  Add the eggs and the vanilla.  Mix on low for about 30 seconds.  Scrape the bowl and mix again on medium for about 30 seconds more. 

Add the flour, baking soda, and salt to the mixture.  Mix on low for about 30 seconds till well combined and then add the chocolate chips.  Mix for another 15 to 20 seconds.  Do not over mix.

I like to use a cookie scoop and drop the cookies on the foil lined cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. 

For “regular” size cookies, bake at 375 for 10 to 12 minutes.  (Makes about 54 cookies)

For “giant” size cookies, bake at 375 for 15 to 17 minutes.  (Makes about 20 jumbo size cookies)

Nutritional information: 

Per Serving per regular size cookie:  About 117 calories, 1 g. protein, 17 g. carb, 5 g. fat, 8 mg. cholesterol, 106 mg. sodium.

(I don’t even want to know what the numbers are for the jumbo size cookies!) :)


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Thursday, October 28, 2010

My 10 Authors in 10 Minutes

My friend Erin who writes so giftedly over at The Fierce Beagle sent me a meme on Facebook asking me to jot down my top 10 authors in 10 minutes. Don't spend too long thinking about it I was instructed and they need to be authors that have influenced you and whose books will always stick with you. Okay, I am up for it. But I have decided to post my list here on my blog mostly because navigating Facebook can sometimes be treacherous! I’ll stick to what I know and post it to my blog which is usually easier than Facebook in my world. (Although, my opinion on that might change since tonight I am meeting with some other local bloggers at the Ronald MacDonald house over in Winston Salem tonight. The plans are to talk about social networking and the worlds of Facebook and Twitter. I’ll let you know if I am able to expand my very basic knowledge of the two.)

Anyway, I thought I would do a good deed today and bake up some giant size Chocolate Chip Cookies and take them with me to the Ronald MacDonald House tonight as snacks for some of the families that might be staying there right now. Yesterday, Laura over at the Ronald MacDonald House in Winston-Salem posted a link on Facebook outlining what kinds of food and cooking help is welcomed there. Quick grab and go snack bags are appreciated and so I am going to make a batch of giant cookies and individually bag them and take them with me. You can look for my recipe here tomorrow. It makes the best cookies…I dare say better than Mrs. Fields and I cannot tell a lie…the recipe comes from the book that came with my Kitchen Aid Mixer. You might already have this recipe gem in your midst and not know it! I’ll post it here to my blog sometime tomorrow.

Okay, back to the task at hand and in no particular order here are my 10 Authors in 10 Minutes:

1. Jonathan Franzen ~ I just finished his new book Freedom. Excellent book.

2. Richard Russo ~ I read Empire Falls and loved it. And Bridge of Sighs was very good too.

3. Anne Tyler ~ I love her quirky characters and her beloved Baltimore.

4. John Irving ~ I picked up The World According to Garp to read for fun when I was in college.

5. Isabelle Allende ~ The House of the Spirits is still one of my favorites.

6. Jane Austen ~ I love every word that has ever dripped off of her pen. My favorite is Pride and Prejudice.

7. Pat Conroy ~ The Prince of Tides…just incredible. A great Southern writer. I even have his cookbook!

8. Joyce Maynard ~ I just finished her autobiography. She’s a gifted writer and writes candidly about her relationship with J.D. Salinger. I am reading her book Labor Day right now too.

9. David Sedaris ~ Hillarious! And my favorites are his stories set in North Carolina.

10. Khaled Hosseini ~ The Kite Runner. I won’t watch the movie. And I also loved his A Thousand Splendid Suns.

I love to read but I seem to do it in spurts. I will read book after book and then for a period of time I won’t pick one up at all. Right now, I am in a reading groove. Hope it sticks! How about you? Do you read all the time or does it come and go in spurts like with me? Also, I am supposed to tag 10 other people and ask them to post what their 10 Author’s in 10 Minutes are. I am not naming names but I would love to see what your list looks like right off the top of your head! Don’t be shy. Feel free to post your list here or do your own blog post!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Last Minute Halloween Decor


Have you seen this photo yet? Thanks Martha. This is so easy to do. You can go to Michaels and buy the pre-cut mice or you can go to Martha’s website and get the template to print out and cut out your own. That’s what I did.

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My display doesn’t have quite as many rodents as Martha’s does but next year I am planning on expanding the collection. Maybe I’ll toss in some vermin next year too. I’m not sure exactly what all is considered “vermin” but if it slithers…I’ll need a year to mentally prepare.

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Now the bats…I caved (pun intended) and I purchased them already cut out from Michaels. Martha makes these too.

These could easily be done on your own as well but with the 40% off coupon they were very cheap. I tried the bats in our front window but surprisingly you couldn’t really see them from the outside. So I moved them to the mantle. Nothing too special or complicated here but kind of fun. :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Books

Today, I went shopping for this:

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And I came home with this…

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And this…

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First, I am so surprised that he wrote a book and second, I am so curious to see what he actually remembers. :)   I mean the man is a force freak of nature! Have you ever seen him without a cigarette in his hand?  And does he still have his original liver?  I really want to know!  I can’t wait to dig in to this one.

And the Contessa’s new book does not disappoint.  Today is the first day of her newly released cookbook called Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?   I already took a peek and there are several new recipes that I can’t wait to give a try. 

I’ll be back soon…I have some reading to do.  I know, it’s only rock and roll, but I like it.  :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Candy Corn Brownie Bites

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Candy Corn Brownies Bites.

So easy.

Make brownies from a mix. Ice them with chocolate frosting. Cut them in squares. Cut each square into 4 mini squares. Place a piece of candy corn on each.


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These are especially great if you are having the “Ladies” over. Most women I know will not pick up and eat a whole brownie. But because these are so small and are bite-sized, they will disappear.

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And if for some crazy reason they do not all disappear…what’s so wrong with leftovers? Someone will eat them.

Guaranteed. :) I am joining Show and Share over at Just A Girl. And I have linked up to the party over at Sugar Bananas. Stop by for a visit at both!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Upcycled Scarflette

A few weeks ago when I was blogging around town, I came across a post with this photo that stopped me in my tracks.


Now how cute is that???!!  I loved it!  It was made by Cheri over at I Am Momma Hear Me Roar.

Click here for Cheri’s Upcycled Scarflette at I Am Momma, Hear Me Roar to see her great tutorial on how she made it.  I love the giant buttons she used and love that she called it an “upcycled scarflette”.  It’s made from an old sweater.  As soon as I saw it I knew I had to make one tooSo I did.  Actually, I made two!

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The first thing I did was head to Goodwill to find a sweater that I could cut up and I found one in orange made by Land’s End in the Men’s section. You need a rather long sweater and the one I bought was a size large.   It cost me $3.99 for the sweater.

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I absolutely love the gigantic buttons Cheri use on her scarflette but I was impatient and so I used these cute little crocheted flowers that I bought last weekend when I was in Pinehurst having a wonderful day with my blog friend Melanie from Southern Comfort in a Northern Life.  Melanie wrote an extremely nice post about our day together and you can read it if you go here.  And her pictures turned out much better than mine did. :)  It was so great to finally meet her and she is a lot of fun and I feel like we have been friends for ever.  She is just another reason why I like blogging so much. 

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Anyway, back to the scarflette.  I followed Cheri’s instructions and I am delighted with how cute mine turned out.   I thought the orange would be perfect for this time year.   I was so delighted with how my first one turned out that I made two.  The second one I made was light blue.  Tarheel blue to be exact and I made it for my daughter who is a student at UNC but she told me that although she thinks it is cute, she is not a big fan of having things on her neck.  I guess I can respect that. :)  So two for me!   

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And I still want to make one exactly like the one Cheri made with a red sweater and the giant buttons.  I am still on the hunt for the gigantic buttons and I am periodically stopping by Goodwill in search of the perfect red sweater to destroy…I mean “upcycle”. 

Now, if only some colder temperatures would come our way so that I could wear it.

I know I am going to regret saying that!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Barstool From Goodwill

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I found a black barstool at Goodwill for $10.00 the other day.  I have seen this type of barstool there before and usually they are a bit cheaper but they seemed kind of rickety to me and they were not painted.  This one was already painted black which saved me the step of having to spray paint it.  All I needed to do was wash it and then use some sandpaper to distress some of the edges.  Very easy.

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Whenever we have people over we always seem to hang out in the kitchen and usually its around the kitchen counter.  I only have 3 counter height barstools.  I thought 3 looked better when I bought them many years ago and now that I think I might want another I can’t find them anymore.  Besides,  I also didn’t want 4 barstools because I though it would look too crowded and the stools would always be bumping into each other.   But lately I have been thinking that it would be nice to have one or two extra stools to keep out in the garage and then pull them out when company comes over.  So when I saw the barstool at Goodwill for cheapness I grabbed it.

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After I cleaned it up and used some sandpaper on it to distress it a bit, I wiped on a poly-stain to age all of the distressed areas and to give the entire barstool a glossier finish.  After it was dry, I whipped out my number stencils. 

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It looks like I might need a finishing spray on the seat.  I’ts looking slightly dull in this photo.  I have a clear spray sealer that will take care of that.  So, yes I have another piece that is marked with a number.   I think I am starting to run out of ideas on what I can put a number on.  I said “starting”.  I still feel I have a few more numbering tricks up my sleeve.   :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Soup Bowls

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New soup bowls from TJ Maxx.  They were a deal at $2.99 each.  Go get yourself some!

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And then you will have cute bowls to serve the Southwest Chicken Soup in.  (Click for Recipe)

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That’s what I am making tonight.  :)  It’s kind of cold, gray, and dreary here today.  Soup is required.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Learning How To Draw

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I have always wanted to know how to draw.  I just wasn’t born with that as a talent although there are several people in my family who are very artistic.  My Dad is very talented and I remember him drawing and painting when I was growing up.  My brother also seemed to have the art gene that I was missing.  And then a couple of years ago for Christmas, my Mom sent me a framed drawing that she had done of our kids with dog.  It was taken from the photograph I had sent in our Christmas cards a year earlier.  It was incredible and is one of my favorite possessions.  My Mom told me she had met a woman who told her that she could teach her how to draw and she did!

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I never believed that drawing could be learned.  I thought either you had the ability or you did not and I sadly fell into the “do not” category.  Well, not too long ago I was reading a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and she wrote about how a class that she took and a book called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain  by Betty Edwards helped her learn how to draw.  I was shocked at the improvement in such a short amount of time in her drawings.  I immediately went out and found myself a copy of the book and while my husband was away for several weeks on a business trip this past summer, I set about teaching myself how to draw with the help of this amazing book.

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There are all kinds of reasons why drawing is difficult for so many people.  The book explains that different parts of our brains affect the way we interpret the things we see and that the logical side our our brains which is also the left side is dominant.  The books teaches little tricks and gives different exercises to try to “fool” the left side of your brain into “letting” the more artistic  right side take over for the task of drawing.

One of the exercises in the book asked me to draw something upside down.  I know it sounds crazy but the assignment was to take a picture and turn it upside down and then draw it.  Your brain has difficulty interpreting what it is seeing when it looks at something upside down and so it turns the task over to the creative right side of the brain and you simply draw exactly what you see.  It was amazing!!  Here are some of my first drawings…all done upside down!

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Here is one of my first assignments.  Draw this upside down picture.  So I did and when I turned it right side up when I was done I couldn’t believe my eyes! I actually drew a picture of a man sitting in a chair!

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My next assignment was to draw this knight on his horse.  So, I turned the book upside down and got to work.  Darn if it doesn’t look just like a knight on his horse when I turned my finished drawing right side up!!

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Then a bit later I started getting a little bit cocky.  :)  I have loved this magazine photo of Rebecca Romijn holding her two twin baby girls in this “Got Milk” ad.  I said to myself…I can draw that! (upside down of course.)  Here is the result:

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Now I realize that my drawing of Rebecca looks nothing like her.  BUT, at least you can tell it’s a real woman holding two babies!

So my drawing efforts are clearly a work in process.  But I am inspired to keep working from the book to see what else I can learn and eventually I hope to be able to draw things right side up!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It’s a Miracle!

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This is our dog.  Her name is Oakley.  She is a Joy. And she smells.  Bad.  I mean really bad.

I think she rolled in something.  I really don’t want to know what it was but suffice it to say she was not allowed in the house until she had a bath.

Scrubbed twice.  Rinse and repeat. 

Much improved but there was still a lingering odor that needed to be dealt with.  The marathon dog bathing took place a few days ago. 

Then I was shopping in Earth Fare here in Greensboro.  It’s Greensboro’s version of a Whole Foods and while it’s okay… I would do a major dance in the rain if Whole Foods announced that it was coming to town. But until it does…Earth Fare is just fine with me.    Anyway, back to my stinky dog…

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I found this miracle in a spray bottle called Dander-Out.

It’s made by a company called Earth Friendly Products.  It’s an all natural dander remover and body deodorizer and it’s made from plants.  It says right on the label that it is guaranteed to instantly remove odors and dander caused by dogs and cat.  Well, IT WORKS!!!

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“You want to spray what?… on my neck?”

Oakley was especially “fragrant” around her neck area where she wears her collar.  Heck, I even gave her collar a good spray and let me tell you that collar was odiferous.  The obnoxious smell is gone .  Gone from her collar and gone from her neck area where I applied the spray.   I mean really gone.  Not just covered up but gone.  And I am so happy.  It’s so nice to find a product that really does what it says it’s going to do.  I love this stuff! 

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It’s hard to cuddle with a stinky dog. She is stinky no more!  And like I said before, It’s a miracle!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cheddar Cheese Truckle

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It’s a truckle.  A Cheddar Cheese Truckle.  I love that word….truckle!  It’s fun for me to come across a new word.  And if that new word has anything to do with cheese…well, so much the better.  It means “wheel” of cheese although sometimes a truckle can be barrel shaped.   I picked up this cute little truckle of Cheddar Cheese on my most recent trip to Trader Joe’s in Chapel Hill.  It cost me $4.99.  I have no idea how good it tastes but I am very confident that I will LOVE it because so far nothing I’ve tried at Trader Joe’s has disappointed me yet. 

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Besides, the package is just too cute.  I don’t want to spoil it by unwrapping it. It could be a while before I get back to you on this one.

I need some more time to admire how cute it is and to say the word “truckle” several more times.

:)  Truckle.