Sunday, June 24, 2018

Week 131, 6-24-2018

Still playing catch up - bear with me. I'm still working in my very neglected yard, with a lot still to do, but I'm getting there. We'll get back to fun stuff later. I don't want to get run out of the neighborhood.

I can't even give you an update on the kitties. BJ had only two kittens with her this morning, but we were having thunderstorms with lots of thunder and heavy downpours. 

This evening she brought only one to dinner. I have no idea where they are. Maybe they'll all come in the morning when things dry out a bit. 

Tomorrow I take Pepper and Stormy for their rabies shots. I'm so lucky that they're both due at the same time. One trip, but two carriers. They're not THAT fond of each other.

I did take time to go to dinner with Martha and Nancy this week, and if you have an Applebee's, try the fish and chips. Way yummy! Plenty of food. I'd already eaten most of one piece of fish (nice mild cod) when I took the photo. Even you Brits would like it.

And I'm stocked up on Indian and Thai simmering sauces my daughter told me to look for at Aldi. Beyond me, so I'll have fun experimenting. I didn't know where to start, so I just put them in alphabetical order, and I'll start at the beginning. If you're interested and have an Aldi nearby, check it out because most are "special buys" which means they don't have them all the time. Recipes and cooking instructions on the labels.

Other special buys right now. The White Balsamic Peach is great. I know the Poppyseed is wonderful because I've had it before.

Aldi stores are here


(and for your patience while I regroup)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Week 130, 6-17-2018

I'm in the library!

Other Resources
Everyday afternoon teas : twelve everyday afternoon teas with photos, recipes, and plans / by Patsy Bennitt.
[United States] : Patsy Bennitt, [2018]
book jacket
 Clever Adult Nonfiction
 Nixa Adult Nonfiction

126 pages : color illustrations ; 28 cm
Includes index.
Local author Patsy Bennitt provides recipes and tablescape designs for twelve afternoon teas.
Record:   Prev Next

 If your library is part of the Mobius consortium, you can order it sent to your library to check out after it's through processing.

Sorry, no blog this week. Afterall, it's the lazy days of summer -

Pepper's new pals.  My patio has been invaded by a miniature rebel army.

Only one has white markings like mama

Some have slight tiger stripes on their legs and tails.

Maybe this intruder is the father? I took this photo on March 5. 

No other news. I'm finally catching up on yardwork, and I have the blisters to prove it. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Week 129, 6-10-2018

I've heard that anything you do 28 times in a row becomes a habit. So though I intended to take a break from blogging, I just had to do an informal mini-post.

Stormy won't use the chair on the left with the blanket. She uses the one on the right without a blanket. I washed her blanket and put it on the one on the right and - you guessed it - she moved to the one on the left. Maybe she feels she's more color coordinated that way.

Good cookie recipe. Make dough and then refrigerate 3 hours to 2 days. Slice and bake.


1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp coconut flavoring or vanilla
1-3/4 cups flour
1 cup flaked coconut

Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.

Beat in vanilla.

Gradually add flour to creamed mixture.

Stir in coconut.

Pull out a sheet of waxed paper, at least 18” long.

Dump cookie dough on waxed paper and form into a rectangle which is 12” by 3” and 1” high. 

Wrap dough and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 300°.

Unwrap dough and slice crosswise in 1/4” slices. Place 1” apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake 18-20 minutes or until nicely golden around the edges.

Makes 48 cookies.

If you're old enough, you remember the Jello cake. One of my favorites. Nice and moist.


1 box cake mix, any flavor
1 small box Jello, any flavor
4 eggs
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup oil

Heat oven to 350°.

Grease and flour a tube or Bundt pan.

Mix all ingredients and beat for 4 minutes.

Bake 45-50 minutes.

When cool, frost, drizzle with glaze, or dust with powdered sugar.

I worked with a lady named Wendy who belonged to a Toastmasters group. Dinner was served when they met, so Wendy made frozen dinners of leftovers, and when she went to her meeting, her husband ate one of the frozen dinners. So now I call them Toastmaster Dinners. I found the perfect containers for Toastmaster Dinners at Sams. They come in a package of 25. (Don't be misled by the package which says 50, because it's 25 containers and 25 lids). They're dishwasher, freezer, and microwave safe plus they're reusable and just the right size.

I used them for leftovers from working on the Sunflowers and Strawhats dinner for the Everyday Theme Dining book. Here's the invitation.

The table

The menu

The food

The Party Favors were the sunflower refrigerator magnets by each plate.

Say farewell to my Christmas decorations.

They'll be in the church Christmas bazaar sale at Jean's church.

My sister-in-law Becky is a professor and counselor at Pitt State in Kansas. Brother Jim sent me a copy of the email Becky received from a former student, and in the subject he put, "This is why we're proud of her". 

As you have known for a while, I have wanted to be a school counselor for many years now. My desire began while I was in high school with tutoring and mentoring my peers that were struggling academically, as well with my psychology courses that intrigued me. My program through Pitt State was such a blessing because it allowed me to get the best of both world with majoring in psychology and minoring in my education fields. Allowing me to get many of my psychology courses out of the way while setting me up for teaching to gain the classroom experience has been so beneficial to me. And now that I have been teaching for a few years and have a year under my belt of school counseling I am even more sure that I've made the right decision with the path I've chosen. I hope that down the road I can make just as much of a difference in others lives as you have. I admire you on many levels, but a major achievement that you have is training so many successful school counselors. Your program has caused a ripple effect in the schools of good counselors, and students getting the help they need. Thank you for everything you have done for us!

And that's not the only reason we're proud of her - she's putting the final touches on a textbook she's written to be used by counseling students. It will be published and distributed in the fall. Becky has been named Teacher of the Year by the students many times. She's even won state awards. Her students keep in touch and come back to visit. She has pictures of their children in her office. Yes, we're very proud of her.

If you've been looking for the original Quaker Oats oatmeal cookie recipe, here it is.


1-1/4 cups (2-1/2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 cups uncooked oats, quick or old fashioned
1 cup nuts of choice (optional)

Heat oven to 375°.

Beat butter and sugars until creamy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.

Add combined flour, soda, salt, and spices.  Mix well.

Stir in nuts and then oats.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake 8-9 minutes for a chewy cookie or 10-11 minutes for a crispy cookie.

If you're wondering why all the baked goods this week, it's because niece Sarah stopped by and I hadn't a thing to serve. I've been avoiding sweets, so none in the house. How embarrassing

I'm ready for you now, Sarah, so come on by.

A friend sent this, and I'm sure some of you have seen it already, but watch it again - you can use another smile. Click HERE.

On Friday we celebrated the life of our brother Sonny on his birthday. It's been over two years now since we lost him in an auto accident, and I still miss him every day. I remembered a funny Sonny connection to Red Lobster, so that's the restaurant I chose. 

As you probably know, you're required to fast before a colonoscopy, so when I took Sonny for his and it was finally over, he was starved. He was also still a little weird from the anesthetic. He wanted to go to Red Lobster, so that's where we headed.

He got very indignant because he wanted the Admiral's Feast, and it came with only two sides. He told me, "I don't understand why I can't have three sides, because I want a baked potato and slaw AND broccoli." His feathers were really ruffled, and normally he's a sweet kind of guy. Oh, those anesthetics!

I explained that he could have three sides. The menu just meant that dinner came with two sides included in the price. They would just put an extra charge on my bill for the third side. That pacified him and he got his three sides and ate every bite. As we drove to his house, he continued to talk about the meal - how hungry he'd been, how good it tasted, how he loves broccoli, etc.

The next day, after all that, he didn't remember a thing about that meal.

In his honor, I ordered the Admiral's Feast with TWO sides; salad and rice pilaf. Bill helped with some of it, and the kitties feasted on the balance.



Sunday, June 3, 2018

Week 128, 6-3-2018

As I mentioned last week, I've been thinking of taking a blog break. I got only one email saying I'd be missed, so I believe I can go dark for awhile.

I'll probably take off for the summer so I can play catch up with household chores, do some maintenance on my blog site,  and work on my books. 

See you later.



Sunday, May 27, 2018

Week 127, 5-27-2018

Thoughts and Quotes: Freedom is not free. Ronald Reagan

Memorial Day is a time to remember those who paid the ultimate price so that we can enjoy the freedom which we are inclined at times to take for granted. It's also a time to pray that our freedom will continue forever, and that by our example the rest of the world will see the value of freedom and make it their goal.

Nothing stirs my patriotic soul like music. Click HERE. Don't log out at the end of the song. There's more.

You can check out the history of Memorial day HERE. Sorry about the ads.

Memorial Day has become a time to remember not only our servicemen, but all who have gone before us by decorating their graves. I did my circle and clocked it at 92 miles. I live south of Springfield, and my relatives are in three cemeteries which are east, north, and west of Springfield.

My mother died from cancer in 1972, and for a long time she was all alone at the back of a small rural cemetery. She'd be happy to know that she's now in the high rent district. That's her little headstone in the turquoise circle.

All my grandparents are in the cemetery north of Springfield. The paternal set (Grandma and Grandpa) in one place and the maternal set (Granny and Pow) in a totally different area. It's a really big cemetery. Hang with me - this is rather long. 

When I moved back to Missouri, I discovered that my father didn't buy headstones for his parents. I don't know if they know what's going on down here, but I knew that if they do, my grandmother would want a headstone. So I ordered stones for both of them. How else would I know where to put the flowers?

When my grandparents lived down on Bull Creek, there was a flagstone walk leading from the driveway to the front door. It was bordered on both sides by lots and lots of daffodils. My grandmother loved those daffodils.

When I was preparing the vases, I was trying to decide what my Grandma would like. I settled on yellow flowers, remembering how she loved the daffodils. And I was thinking that I should have purchased the flowers in the spring when daffodils were available.

I finished the paternals and drove over to do the maternals. As I was walking back to my car, I was wondering to myself whether they knew that I had decorated their graves, and if they knew about the headstones, and if so, did they really care? I looked down and saw this. Yes, it's a daffodil. Not real, of course, but a silk one which blew there from someone's grave. A sign? I like to think so.

And another interesting tidbit. Granny's name is Margaret Russell and her husband (my step grandfather) is James Russell, but for some reason, everyone called him Bert. I never remembered his real name because we called him Pow (my older cousin's name for him when she was trying to say Grandpa). I did remember that he died in 1950, because it was the first death in our family that I experienced.

As I was searching for the grave (always difficult because of the size of this cemetery and also because in those days, most headstones were small and flush with the ground), I found this.

My first thought was that I didn't remember that Granny's death date had never been engraved, and I would see to that immediately. I saw that Wilbur (could have been called Burt) died in 1950. Then I thought, "Wait a minute - Margaret was born in 1924? How could that be? My mother was born in 1914 - ten years before her mother". Then I realized that Margaret is possibly still alive - wrong Margaret.

A little further, but in the SAME row in this huge cemetery, I found their grave. James (Bert), who died in 1950, and Margaret Russell. What are the chances?

My third cemetery is in rural Halltown, west of Springfield. Six headstones here and cars blocking the drive where I usually park. Because I approached from a different direction, I was totally confused. I swore someone moved their graves closer to the drive.

And I even physically buried the ashes in two of these graves. In some of our rural cemeteries, it's legal to bury ashes of loved ones yourself if you follow the guidelines. Missouri is more rocks than dirt, and I didn't want to dig a hole two feet deep. I obtained the name of someone who would do it for a fee. He'd get there early, remove a piece of sod, put the rocks and dirt on a piece of plywood, and wait discreetly in his pickup until I finished and left. Then he'd replace the dirt and piece of sod. Well - good thing he was the one digging the hole. I'd have dug on the wrong side if the headstone into someone's grave. Why do they call them headstones when they're at the foot of the grave? Or are they really at the head, but placed so that you read them upside down? 

I told myself that this would be the last year I'd do the graves, as I have lots of things to finish before I'm in my grave, and time is marching on. Now that daffodil has me thinking, so who knows about next year? We'll see.

Talented Friends: I'm surrounded by talented people, and I love it. I thought you might like to share.

Joey's Cherry and Lemon Pies she took to a fish fry.

Linda's cake creations (this one with husband Burt's log cakestand)

A bridal shower

Graduation - sorry I had to blur your faces, Guys.

Birthday cake for a guy whose last name is King; hence, the crown.

Handmade cards from Jean

And Jeanne

And Linda (from her photograph)

Cards by Katie (she's like a little Hallmark factory)

Bev's creative food

Martha's decorating

Mim's blog for widows

Click HERE

Carrie's jewelry creations

Becky's gardens

Lorraine's crafts

Peter's photography
Sarah's skill with wood

If I stick around long enough, maybe some will rub off on me.

Thank you: To Linda for these adorable ceramic placecards. They were handed down in her family, so an extra special and touching gift.

Tasting: In our family, we celebrate birthdays to honor those who have passed in a way which reminds us of the person - usually with food. My mother's birthday was this week, and I usually go out to eat ham, pinto beans, fried potatoes, and cornbread at Rosie Jo's. My mother usually made this on laundry day, and I loved it.

This year I was super busy, but I remembered Jeanne's soup which had pinto beans in it. I had some leftover tri-tip I needed to use, so I substituted it for the hamburger and no taco seasoning, so I used chili seasoning instead. No time to make cornbread, so I used corn tortilla chips. The substitutions in no way diminished my thoughts of my mother on her special day, and they also made a good soup. I prefer the original version, but if you have leftover roast, this is a good way to use it.

Jeanne Nixon

1 lb. ground beef
2 15 oz cans pinto beans
1 15 oz can kidney beans
1 15 oz can corn
1 can Rotel
1 pkg taco seasoning
1 pkg original Ranch Dressing mix
1 cup chopped onion
1-1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp salt

Brown ground beef with onion and drain grease.

Stir in water, salt, taco seasoning, and Ranch Dressing seasoning.

Add all canned goods and do NOT drain them.

Simmer 30 minutes.

Better the second day.

Top with shredded Monterey Jack cheese and serve with tortilla chips.

Note: Substitute leftover cooked beef for ground beef, chili seasoning for taco seasoning, and Cheddar cheese for Monterey Jack.

Things that Grow: My Red Storm Lilies are blooming beautifully out among my weeds.

The Pepper and Pals Report: No news is good news. No trips to the vet this week. I've washed and put away all the rugs and blankets from the screened in patio and cleaned the carriers. I'm sure the cold has passed by now. I still leave the screen ajar when it rains so the kitties can eat in the patio out of the wet, I really believe that BJ had a litter, because she's so hungry all the time and looks skinnier than two weeks ago, but so far we haven't found babies.

Stormy and Pepper said to tell you that they're being good while I'm working on my blog. Just hanging out in the guestroom.

Trying to Decide: The platform provider for my blog is called Blogger. They keep track of my audience and I can see how many people are looking at my blog at the time, for the day, or for the week. I can also tell from which country they originate. These are my pageviews for last week (they show the top ten). 

I've been so busy with my book and my classes, I fear I've neglected the things viewers really want to see, and my numbers are suffering. I'm considering taking a break from blogging until I get caught up and can make things interesting again. I'll let you know.

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