Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The greener grass theory

This was the Daily OM I received on Monday and thought I would post it today with the Healthy Reflections I received today from Spark People because the two messages are basically about the same thing.

January 29, 2007
The Impossible Dream

Right In Front Of You

When it comes to the things we want, there always seems to be an endless list. No matter how many times we get something off that list, we add new things to replace it. In life, this drama of wanting and getting and wanting is all part of the dance. The things we want motivate us to get up and get them.

And yet, at the same time, we can torment ourselves with our wanting, especially when we want something we can't have or can't find. It is in cases like these that it might be fruitful to entertain the idea that maybe what you really want is right in front of you. Maybe you are using this desire you can't fulfill to distract you from truly engaging the blessings you already have. It may seem like that doesn't make sense, yet we do it all the time. It may be easier to see in other people than to see it in ourselves. We have all heard our friends wishing they were more this or less that, and looking at them we see clearly that they are everything they are wishing they were. We know people who have wonderful partners and yet envy you yours. We wish we could give these people a look at their situations from our perspective so that they could see that what they want really is right in front of them.

It's not too far-fetched to consider that we might be victims of the same folly. It can be scary to have what we want. We get caught up in the chase and forget to enjoy the beauty right in front of us-like a child who never wants the toy she has in her hand but always the one just out of her reach. Take a moment today to consider the many things you are holding in the palm of your hand and how you might best play with them.

The following is the Healthy Reflections message from Spark People.

Instead of comparing our lot with that of those who are more fortunate than we are, we should compare it with the lot of the great majority of our fellow men. It then appears that we are among the privileged. - Helen Keller

Is the grass truly greener on the other side?

Do you ever feel that you're always getting the short end of the stick? Or do you constantly compare your life to others'? We are bombarded with daily images of the posh lifestyles of celebrities. Their pampering, expensive wardrobes, and status can entice even the happiest of people to drool over such luxury. But by thinking about the world as a whole, you'll find that your own life is wealthy beyond compare. Make a short list of some of your overlooked privileges. Owning a car (or two!), having access to television, computers, drinkable water, a respectable wage at your job, and all of the freedoms you enjoy that are a foreign idea to many people around the world. Be grateful for your life and over time maybe you will see that your plot in life is someone else's "greener grass".

I just love that quote from Helen Keller, don't you?  I mean, it is so true.  We see all these images on tv all the time about celebrities and the lifestyle that they have been blessed with.  Blessed?  We don't know all the headaches that come with that.

Really, think about it.  Are they all just trying to live up to the same standards as their peers?  Like all of us and the proverbial "Jones".  Perhaps they are living on the edge of bankruptcy just the same as the average joe.  The only difference being, the size of the house, the value of the jewelry, the type of car(s).

Yeah, it would be nice to live in a bigger and nicer house, but at least we have a roof over our heads.  That is more than many, many people can say.  How many Amercians are living on the streets?  How many children are constantly packing their few belongings into trash bags and being shipped from one foster home to the next?

Sure, it would be awesome to own a brand new, shiny, all decked out convertible.  (Or my dream '65 red Mustang convertible)  On the other hand, I have been living without a car for about 5 years.  I now have a used Pontiac Bonneville.  It is in pretty decent shape and most RUNS! 

I don't own a bunch of diamond jewelry, but where would I wear stuff like that?  I'd like to have a few nice pieces, but it really isn't me.  I LOVE silver & turquoise jewelry, and I own several nice pieces.  If I see something I really, really like and we can afford to, Ray will get it for me. 

Of course, I don't have millions, or even thousands...heck not even hundreds of admiring fans.  But I have kids who love me and a wonderful man by my side.  It may not be the same as millions of admiring fans, but I do have a beautiful little two year daughter that  will often hang on every word I say and follow me around, much like the papparazzi.  Not always, remember she is 2 and tempermental, but when she does it is really cool.

Heck the celebrities think they have it bad?  I haven't been able to pee by myself in 2 years!  LMBO!  Now that is a dedicated fan!  Let's see what would I rather have...a bunch of admiring fans?  Or a daughter that admires me?  Me?  I'd prefer the daughter.  But wait!  I'm doubly blessed because although it may not be the same level of adoration and awe that my 2 year has, but I think Samantha admires me and some of the things I've done or do. 

Even better than that, Sammi and I are great friends.  Oh, believe me, we went through some turbulent times in her teens.  But I was blessed with the fact that it was a short lived "angry" stage.  I think the fact that there was an "evil step-mom" helped me out on that one.  She was able to direct so much of her anger in that direction and I was her sounding board on that subject.  I think we grew a lot closer during our chats about her father and his new wife.  We still have great chat sessions, I hopethose never end.

Don't be too jealous though.  LMBO!  On the other hand, I was also the "evil step-mom" to Ray's two daughters.  So I also know what that feels like.  No matter what you do, it is wrong.  No matter what you say, it will be twisted this way or that.  I've learned that there is no winning position as the step-mom.  Unless you are willing to throw all you standards out the window. 

Just try to treat the two sets of kids (yours and his) the same.  It doesn't work.  His kids aren't used to your parenting style and there will be explosions of record size.  So then you try to "come down" a little in your expectations or standards, call it what you will.   Suddenly you find that in your effort not to play favorites with your own kids, you find that you are, in a way, playing favorites to his.  It's a delicate and dangerous balancing act. 

Me?  I never got it down just right.  I made mistakes.  I did and said things I regret.  But boy, oh boy, I'll tell you it is awfully hard when your standing in the middle of, what feels like a battle field, to make the "right" decision. 

Ahh, I've gotten off topic again.  Green grass Jill Marie!  LOL  But it is an important topic and I want other people with step-children to know that (almost) everyone goes through taht period of time where you feel like the proverbial "evil step-parent".  I say almost everyone, because I am sure there are families out there, somewhere, that are able to just "click" together.  But I don't think there are that many really.

I mean, you are taking these people, who up to this point have all grown in different environments, with different standards of life, different expectations and rules.  Now suddenly you throw them all into one house and expect them to live peacefully together.  Can that really be possible?  Perhaps in Utopia, or one of those know the one I'm talking about...where everything is "perfect".  As a matter of fact, I think that is what the town if called, Perfect. That's what I had hoped for, and wanted for all of us.  To live in Perfect.  But again, I digress. 

I think the age of the kids probably has a lot to do with it too.  At the time that Ray's girls came into our lives, I had been with Ray for 3 years.  Our family, Ray, me and my kids all interacted in a certain way.  Then when Stephanie was 15 and Aimee was 14, they suddenly came into our life.  David was 15, Sammi was 12 and Christopher was 9.  Can you just imagine throwing that many teenagers, who previously didn't know each other, together? 

Oh Lord, the things we would do differently if we had a chance.  But things are what they are.  We are all very different people and how boring would it be if we were all the same?  Peaceful perhaps, but awfully boring.  You certainly would not be able to refer to our house, over the past 6 years, as boring.  LOL

Now the kids are growing up.  They are each so different and going in so many directions.  Things have calmed down, thank the Lord, and I am able to appreciate the kids for who they are and what each one brings to my life. 

Frankly, after Stephanie lived here for a few years, and we butted heads again and again, I wondered if we would ever be able to get along.  I am thankful for the fact that we do now.  I appreciate our relationship and I am so proud of the progress she has made in her life.  It has been such a joy to be able to see her grow up and do so much.  She has a really good job which she has kept for a few years now, and most importantly she is proving to be a very loving and caring mother to little Miss Aubreigh.  I wish nothing but joy and happiness to Stephanie and her sister, Aimee.

Mistakes and regrets?  Yes, definately on my part.  Some mistakes on Ray's part too.  I guess I couldn't say mistakes on the part of the girls, they were teenage girls and just behaving like teen girls.  The fact of the matter is that Ray didn't want to have to be the disciplinarian when it came to the girls.  I understand that, I mean they were out of his life for so long and he just wanted to be the good guy.  But that put me in a very difficult position. 

He wanted me to make sure Stephanine went to school and got her homework done, and kept her room clean and followed the rules.  Yet, when it came down to it, he just couldn't back me up.  He was trying too hard to be the good guy, the cool dad.  He was afraid if he wasn't that to them, that they would get mad at him and not love him. Where did that leave me?  Ahhh, back to the "evil step-mom". 

Believe me, I would have loved to been the good guy too.  I wanted to be friends with the girls, to be the "cool" step-mom.  But how could I expect less of them than I expected of my own kids and still hold onto my principles.  I couldn't...and that made things so hard for all of us.  I was angry and frustrated, as I'm sure Stephanie was.  Not to mention, a bit resentful of Ray for putting me in that position and not even seeming to realize it. 

It was a very difficult time for me.  Not only was I dealing with the anger and frustration, but I think it began to make me a little depressed too.  There seemed to be no end to the tension.  I'm so sorry that things were that way for all of us.  They didn't have to be...if just I had done this or that differenty, if just Ray had stepped up to the plate a little bit, if just Stephanie could have understood things a little more.  If just, if many things!

Yes, I could sit here and go over all the things I did wrong, all the regrets, all the resentments, all the "what if's"...but that won't change anything.  Looking back and thinking about everything that went wrong won't make it any better.  I guess I just have to look at it as a lesson of life and be grateful that things turned out as well as they did.  I have to hope that one day the girls will understand the difficult position I was in and understand that we learn as we go.  I hope they know that I care about them and love them.

How off subject I got...yet once again.  Look how long this is, and I didn't even go into the mistakes and regrets about myown kids.  LOL  Believe me, there are plenty of those too.  In the end, I love all our kids.  I know that it looks as though I am biased with Rylie right now because I write about her all the time.  However, if I had had a journal when the kids were little, it would probably have been much the same.  The other kids are so much older, practically adults. 

LMBO!  What am I saying?  Four of them are 18 or older!  They are adults!  So basically, Rylie is almost growing up like an only child, only better...she has older siblings to give her what we won't or can't.  Lucky kid.  Better?  LOL  What could be worse than a spoiled only child?  Rylie...not an only child, 12 years younger or more, than all her siblings who spoil her when we won't.  You can't get anymore spoiled than that.  Except for Paris Hilton perhaps, well...that takes us back to rich people...LOL  See I connected it all!  In my own strange, blonde, going around the block to go next door, long way...I connected it all.

If you actually read this long winded, going here and there entry, Congratulations.  If you actually understood it and see how I connected the end to the beginning...are you blonde too?  Just kidding. 

Have a great day.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Bathroom odors

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A cleaning tip, or two, that you may find useful.  As I say on my Web page
, these are tips that have been emailed to me, or that I have found on the Internet.  I have not tried all of them and do NOT guarantee their effectiveness.  If you do try one and it works, or if you have another one that works for you, please let me know.
Bathroom Odors: Place an opened box of baking soda behind the toilet to absorb bathroom odors.
Did you know that these charcoal and vinegar (separately, NOT combined together) can also help to eliminate household odors?  I found this information as I was searching for more ways to eliminate odors.
CHARCOAL: Activated charcoal (such as that used in fish aquariums) is a great way to absorb and remove almost any offensive odor. Place a dish of it on the floor or hang it from a bag year round to help keep your lower level odor-free.
I think this is an idea worth trying.  You could easily make a little sachet bag, or buy one, and put some of the activated charcoal into it to absorb odors.  Be sure to sew it closed, and that the little ones don't get into it.
VINEGAR: Mix two cups vinegar to one half cup water and pour into a saucepan. Simmer until the liquid is almost gone. The vinegar will help to clean and deodorize the air in your home.
Although this will probably clear the kitchen and any nearby rooms of odor it probably won't do much good for your bathroom, which is probably located in another area of your home.  However, as I was reading about eliminating odors I also read that you could clean the walls and counters and cabinets of your bathroom with a vinegar and water solution. 
Once every few months, pour a mixture of 2 parts vinegar to one part baking soda down the drain. This keeps it clean and fresh-smelling. To keep hair and other particles from clogging the drain, invest in a “drain-catch,” a small piece of perforated metal or plastic that fits over the drain hole and catches particles while allowing water to run down freely.
Of course, if you are giving your bathroom a thorough cleaning and want to eliminate germs and bacteria, I still believe that good ol' bleach and water is the best way to clean.  Just be sure that the room is well ventilated and that small children stay out of the room while you are cleaning.  
It certainly isn't going to do much good to go in and try to eliminate odors from a dirty bathroom.  So start off with a good cleaning.  The following is a good way to get this nasty job done effectively.
First, gather the cleaners and items that you need to complete the job. You will want to get a two gallon bucket, a toilet brush, a scrub brush, an old toothbrush, sponges, bleach OR ammonia, water, a mildew remover such as TILEX or whatever bathtub cleaner you prefer, and rubber gloves to protect your hands. 

When it comes to sponges you will need 2, one for the sink and tub and another one for the toilet.  First, go to the kitchen and check the one you use there.  Getting old?  Down grade it to the one you will use for the bathroom sink and tub.  Now down grade the sink and and tub sponge for toilet cleaning. 

The first thing you want to do is to spray the bathtub and shower down with the mildew remover and let it sit for a few minutes. Make sure that the bathroom is well ventilated for the fumes that the cleaners will cause.

After you spray down the bathtub and shower, you want to move to the toilet. In the bucket, mix two parts water to one part of bleach OR ammonia. Never mix bleach and ammonia together, this is very harmful. Pick one as your preference and stick with it throughout the entire bathroom.

Put the rubber gloves on and pour a little of the mixture into the toilet. Take the sponge and dip it into the bucket of the mixture and wipe down the rim of the toilet and the seat. Also wipe the outside of the bowl and the base of the toilet. Make sure to also wipe the area behind the seat, especially if you have boys and men in the house. Take the toilet brush and begin to scrub the inside of the toilet. Rinse your sponge as needed and then rinse in fresh water and re-wipe the entire area to remove the chemicals. Flush the toilet and that, the hardest and most disgusting part of cleaning your bathroom, is done. THROW AWAY THE TOILET SPONGE. 

Then move to the sink and again take your other sponge and dip it into your bucket. Wipe down the entire counter, faucet, and sink. Rinse the sponge in the bucket as needed and then rinse in fresh water and re-wipe the entire area to once again remove any of the chemicals. Take the old toothbrush and dip it into your bucket. Scrub any areas around the faucet and sink to remove any mildew that may be hiding in any small places. Then rinse with fresh water. Wipe down with a clean dry rag.

Take your sponge and re-dip again in the mixture in the bucket. Ring out and wipe down the baseboards. Rinse in fresh water, ring out and re-wipe baseboards to remove any chemicals.

Now go back to your bathtub and shower that you have already sprayed down with mildew remover. Most of the work should be all done for you. There may be some soap scum build up left and for that you will need your bucket of cleaner and your scrub brush. Take the scrub brush and begin to gently scrub the entire tub and walls. Re-dip when needed. Once all the tub and walls and curtain and/or doors are scrubbed clean, take the old toothbrush out again and dip into the mixture. Scrub the faucet and drain areas. Pour out mixture in the bucket and fill with fresh water. Begin to rinse the tub and shower down to remove the chemicals. Then take another dry clean rag and wipe any water off the walls and floor of the tub and shower. You're done!

It sounds like a lot of work, but once you've done it a couple of times, you will get into a routine and cleaning your bathroom will no longer feel like that huge, dreaded chore. If you follow this routine to disinfect and sanitize your bathroom, you will only need to do this about once every other week. Be sure to always rinse the sink after you're done using it and wipe down the shower or tub after every use, this to will help prolong your initial cleaning.

You can make cleaning the toilet easier by prepping it.  Pouring ½ cup bleach into the bowl and allowing it to sit for several hours or overnight will “magically” clean the bowl of mildew and rust spots. Once the bleach has worked it’s magic, simply use the scrub brush to clean under the rim and around the bowl. Another “old-time” suggestion is to pour half a can of Coca-Cola in the bowl and let it sit for several hours. The citric acid in the cola reportedly breaks down mold enzymes and allows you to easily wash the stains away.
Hmm, I started off with a simple tip about bathroom odors and ended up with a whole entry about cleaning the one room that we all hate to clean.  I say "we", lol, ME!  ME!  ME!  I hate cleaning the bathroom.  Yuk!  Gross!  Ew!  Just Ewwwwww!  LMBO!
Although, at the moment I am thinking about going and giving the nasty little space a thorough going over.  OH!  I almost forgot, since I was doing this tip today, I wanted to "pimp" a product that I recently bought over the holidays.
I bought one of those Air Wick automatic room freshners and I think it is the neatest little thing.  If you click on the Air Wick link you can go check out what I am talking about and you can even find a link there to print out a coupon for one.  I set mine to spray every 36 minutes, except when wehave people over.  Then I set it to spray every 9 minutes.  I absolutely love this little gadget.  It seemed a little expensive when first buying the kit, but it was definitely worth the investment.  Even Ray commented on it.
Well, that just about covers it, I think.  As usual, if you have any easy cleaning tips or little tricks that you use, please share them with us.  Me?  I'm off to clean my bathroom. 
Have a great day.

Monday, January 29, 2007

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I got this recipe for making an Apple cherry cobble from Better Homes and Gardens.  So I started looking around and found a whole bunch of dessert recipes that you can make in your crock pot.  Am I the only one who thought that a crock pot was for things like stews, spaghetti sauce and roasts?  LMBO!  Silly me, I never even imagined making a cake, much less cheese cake, in my crock pot!  Sometimes my true blond nature really shows through, huh?

Apple-Cherry Cobbler
Source: Better Homes and Gardens


1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 teaspoons quick-cooking tapioca
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
1-1/2 pounds cooking apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch slices (4-1/2 cups)
1 16-ounce can pitted tart cherries
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 recipe Spiced Triangles
Ice cream, such as butter pecan or cinnamon; or half-and-half; or light cream (optional)  

In a 3-1/2- or 4-quart crockery cooker stir together sugar, tapioca, and apple pie spice. Stir in the apple slices, un-drained canned cherries, and dried cherries until combined.
Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 7 hours or on high-setting for 3 to 3-1/2 hours. To serve, divide cherry-apple mixture among 6 to 8 shallow dessert dishes. Top with Spiced Triangles and ice cream or half-and-half, if desired. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Spiced Triangles:
In a bowl combine 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice. Unroll 1 package (8) refrigerated crescent rolls. Separate triangles. Brush tops with 1 tablespoon melted butter and sprinkle with sugar-cinnamon mixture. Cut each triangle into 3 triangles. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Apple Betty

6 cups thinly sliced apples
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup melted butter
3 cups soft bread crumbs

In a large bowl combine apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon and lemon zest. In another bowl, combine butter and bread crumbs. In prepared slow cooker, layer one third of bread crumb mixture, then one half of apple mixture. Repeat layers of bread crumbs and fruit, then finish with a final layer of bread crumbs on top. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours until bubbly and brown.

Apple Streusel

4 to 6 cups apples, peel & slice
1-1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup Bisquick Topping:
1 cup Bisquick
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp cold butter or margarine

Toss apples in large bowl with cinnamon, allspice & nutmeg. Place in Crockpot.
Combine milk, softened butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla & 1/2 cup Bisquick. Spoon over apples.
Combine 1 cup Bisquick and brown sugar. Cut cold butter into mixture until crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over top of apple mix.
Cover, cook on Low 6-7 hours or until the apples are soft.

Crockpot Banana Bread

1 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups well mashed, over ripe banana (2 or 3 bananas depending on size)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

With the electric beater on low, fluff the shortening in a small bowl, until soft and creamy. Add the sugar gradually. Beat in the eggs in a slow stream. With a fork, beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture, 1/2 the bananas another 1/3 of the flour mixture, the rest of the bananas then the last of the flour mixture. Fold in the walnuts.

Turn into a greased and floured baking unit or a 2 1/2 qt. mold and cover. Place on a rack in the slowcooker. Cover the cooker, but prop the lid open with a toothpick or a twist of foil to let the excess steam escape.

Cook on HIGH for 4 to 6 hours.
Cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm.
Makes 4 to 6 servings. 

Caramel Apple Euphoria

2 medium cooking apples
1/2 cup apple juice
7 ounces caramel candy squares, unwrapped
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
7 slices angel food cake or
1 quart vanilla ice cream

Peel, core, and cut each apple into 18 wedges; set aside.
Combine apple juice, unwrapped caramel candies, vanilla, cardamom and cinnamon.
Drop peanut butter 1 teaspoon at a time, over ingredients in crock pot. Stir.
Add apple wedges; cover and cook on LOW for 5 hours.
Stir thoroughly; cover and cook on LOW 1 additional hour.
Serve approximately 1/3 cup of warm mixture over a slice of angel food cake or ice cream.

Crock pot Cake

1 cake mix, any brand any flavor
1 small box instant pudding; use the same flavor as the cake
12 ounces sour cream
4 eggs
3/4 cups oil
1 cup water

Spray inside of crackpot with non stick cooking spray. Mix all ingredients together and pour in crock pot. Cook on low for about 6 hours. Turn crock pot off and let sit for about 1 to 2 hours. Then you can flip it out onto a plate. If you do not let it cool long enough before taking it out of the crock pot half of it stays in the crock.

Decadent Chocolate Delight

1 package chocolate cake mix
8 oz. sour cream
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup water
4 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 (4 serving) pkg. chocolate flavor instant pudding & pie filling mix.

Lightly grease inside of slow cooker.
Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Pour into slow cooker.
Cover & cook on Low 6 to 8 hours or on High 3 to 4 hours.
Serve hot or warm with ice cream.
12 servings

Dreamsicle Cheesecake

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 TBS sugar
3 TBS melted butter

16 oz. cream cheese
2/3 cup sugar
2 whole eggs + 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup orangejuice concentrate, thawed
1 tsp orange zest
1 TBS flour
1/2 tsp vanilla

Crust: Combine crumbs with sugar; mix in melted butter. Pat into a 7" springform pan. Set aside.

Filling: Cream together cream cheese and sugar. Add eggs. Beat 3 minutes at medium speed with electric mixer. Add orange juice, zest, flour, and
vanilla. Beat 2 minutes.

Pour batter into crust. Place on a rack or aluminum foil ring in the crock pot so pan doesn't rest directly on the bottom of crock pot.
Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 1/2-3 hours. Turn off heat and let stand 1-2 hours until cool enough to remove. Cool completely and remove the sides of the pan.

Note: Chill before serving.

Fabulous Peach Dump Cake

1 bag frozen peaches (2 cups sliced peaches)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Jiffy white cake mix (or 1/2 package of a 2-layer size cake mix)
4 tablespoons melted butter

Lightly grease the crock pot; place peaches in the bottom. Sprinkle with cornstarch; toss.
Drizzle with vanilla and sprinkle brown sugar over all.
Sprinkle with cinnamon then cake mix. Drizzle melted butter evenly over cake mix.
Cover and cook on high for 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

New York Style Cheesecake

2 packages (8 ounces each) plus 1 package (3 ounce) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange peel
3 eggs

With electric mixer, beat softened cream cheese, sugar, flour and grated peels until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until fluffy. Pour into baked crust in Bread 'n Cake Bake pan; cover. Set inside slow cooker. Cover and cook on High setting for 2 l/2 to 3 hours. Remove pan and uncover. Allow to cool, then unmold on serving plate. Serve well chilled; if desired, top with strawberries.
8 to 10 servings (for 3-1/2 or 5-quart slow cooker).

Crock Pot Pound Cake

16 oz Pound cake mix, packaged
2/3 c Water
2 Eggs

Blend cake mix with water and eggs in mixing bowl at low speed until moistened. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, scraping bowl frequently.
Pour into greased andfloured 8-cup mold or spring form pan. Place in slow-cooker.
Cover mold with 4-5 paper towels and cook on high 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours.
When cake is done, top will be slightly moist and pass the toothpick test. Serve plain, frosted or with fruit.

Crockpot Strawberry Dessert

1 can Strawberry pie filling (21 oz)
1 pkg Strawberry cake mix (18 1/4 oz)
1/2 c melted butter or margarine
1/3 c chopped Black walnuts
Cool Whip

Place pie filling in your crockpot.
Combine dry cake mix and butter (mixture will be crumbly); sprinkle over filling.
Sprinkle with walnuts.
Cover and cook on low for 2 to 3 hours.
Serve in bowls.
Top with Cool Whip.

Crockpot Turtle Cake
INGREDIENTS:21 oz. pkg. brownie mix
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
14 unwrapped caramels
PREPARATION:Place a vegetable steamer or other low rack on the bottom of a 5-quart electric slow cooker. Pour in 4 cups hot tap water and turn to high heat.

In a large bowl, combine the brownie mix, 1/2 cup water, oil, and egg and beat with a wooden spoon to mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.
Butter a 2 1/2-quart souffle dish that fits in the 5-quart slow cooker and dust with sugar. Pour brownie mixture into the dish. Push the caramels partially into the batter, but do not push all the way into the brownie mixture. Wrap the dish in a double thickness of foil. Tie with kitchen string, making a handle to make the dish easier to remove. Place on the rack in the slow cooker.

Cover and cook on the high heat setting 4 1/2 hours. Remove the dish from the slow cooker, remove string and foil, and let cool 30 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream. 8 servings.

Crock Pot Caramel Dip

1 (14-oz.) pkg. caramels

1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 C. shredded coconut
1/2 C. pecan pieces
1 lb. cake, cut into cubes
2 apples, (1 green, 1 red) cut into slices

Place unwrapped caramels into slow cooker and add condensed milk, coconut and pecan pieces.

Cook on Low for 1 1/2 hours, stirring at the end of the first 30 minutes and again near the end of cooking time. When caramels are melted, the dip is ready to serve. You can keep it on Low for another couple of hours if it's stirred frequently. The recipe can easily be doubled if you need to make a larger amount; however, it will take slightly longer to melt the caramels to the proper consistency.

Cut apples into slices and pound cake into large cubes just before serving. Squeeze a little lemon juice on the apples to prevent them from turning brown. Place melted caramel in a serving bowl, surrounded by the apples and pound cake. 
Serves 6.

Boy!  Now I sure feel silly after finding so many dessert recipes that you can make in your crock pot.  If you know of any good ones, send them my way!  I am making this little recipe book, I am trying to find as many crock pot recipes as I can.  Our girls all are moving out on their own and I want to make this cookbook for them.  I figure I'll put as many crock pot recipes as I can into for them. 


Saturday night we went over to Red and Div's house (Ray's brother and his wife) for a chicken barbecue dinner and to shoot a few games of pool.  We had a really good time.  David was there, and Samantha and Matt came up, and Stephaine, Joe and baby Aubreigh came with Steph's friend Jessica and her 3 yr old Mariah.  Yeah, someone for Rylie to play with.

Stephanie, Joe and Jessica left after dinner to go and hang out with some friends.  YEA!  Our first over nighter with the baby!  LOL  Yep, Grandpa said that he was gonna stay up all night with the baby.  He was gonna sit and just rock her in the lazy boy and cuddle her on his chest.  Well, Miss Aubreigh is a night owl.  Do I even need to tell you who got a full nights sleep and who got 3 and a half hours of sleep?  LOL

Not a problem.  It's not like its been that many years since I've had sleepless nights.  Although next time, it is definitely his turn.  LOL  This is a picture that I took of Aubreigh Sunday morning.  She is wearing the little hat that I bought for her. 

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Isn't she just a little doll baby?  Of course, her grandpa and I may be a wee bit prejudiced, lol.  It is just too funny.  I couldn't wait for Rylie to be born, and now I can't wait for my kids to get married and start having kids.  Well, I can...but I can't, LOL. 

So let me tell you how Rylie reacted to having Mariah stay the night.  When Mariah first got to Red and Div's house the girls had a blast playing together.  It was really good to see Rylie having so much fun with someone her own age.  I think Mariah is a few months older than Rylie, although Rylie is a few inches taller that Mariah.

They were having so much fun just playing together, singing, dancing, playing chase and hide & seek.  They got a little loud, ya'll know how little girls can get that high pitched screeching thing going.  LOL  They were real cute.  Ray and I kept joking that this would be what it was like to have twins.

Well, we left Red and Div's and brought them home to play.  They had so much fun in Rylies room with her little kitchen and all.  There were toys absolutely every where.  We finally settled them down to watch "The Beauty and The Beast" on the sleeper sofa.  Rylie fell asleep after a few minutes. 

Ray was sitting in the lazy boy when he heard the "Hey!  Hey!"  He turned and looked at Mariah and she said "she's asleep" at which point Mariah tried to wake up Rylie.  LOL  Ray said "shhh, it's okay" and then told Mariah to go to sleep too and turned off the DVD.  She was asleep in a few minutes too.

The next morning the girls ate some cereal and mini donuts.  Then they were off to play again.  After about an hour or two I think they were starting to get on each others nerves, lol.  Whatever one was playing with, the other automatically wanted.  At this point, Ray and I were beginning to feel pretty thankful that we didn't have twins, lol.

Mariah kept wanting to play with all of Rylies toys, especially the ones that Rylie was playing with at the time.  At one point, the girls went into her room to play.  Suddenly Rylie walked out of the bedroom and closed the door and just stood there.  Ma started to cry because Rylie had left her in there.  I went to open the door and Rylie tried to block me and was saying "No Mom, no!" 

LMBO!  She had closed the door on her on purpose and Mariah couldn't open it.  It was as if she was telling her "You wanna play with my toys, go ahead.  I'll just leave you in there where you can't bother me." 

Another time, Mariah was playing with this little thing that has beads on it that you push along the wires from one end to the other.  You've probably seen them in the doctors waiting rooms.  Well, Rylie decided she wanted it then.  I told them that it was big enought they could share.  They didn't think so, they kept pulling it away from each other. 

So I told Rylie that Mariah had it first and to let her play with it.  Then Rylie went and took Mariah's Little Mermaid doll and decided that she would play with that.  Except that she didn't play with it.  She kind of waved it around in front of Mariah, teasing her with it.  At which point, Mariah decided she wanted to play with that.  So Rylie ran off with it.  Ohmahgosh!  Thank you Lord for NOT blessing us with twins, LOL!

Around noon, I made a ham sandwich and cut it in half, putting one half on each girls plate with a few chips and a glass of milk for lunch.  I sat them both down at the table and told them to eat their sandwich and they would get a popsicle.  Well, let me tell you, Rylie really tore up her sandwich, Mariah on the other hand was only eating her chips.  The more we told Mariah to eat her sandwich too, the more Rylie ate of her own, lol. 

Rylie got done with her sandwich and wanted her popsicle.  Okay.  But there sat Mariah with a plate clean of chips and not one bite out of her sandwich.  So I took the meat off the bread and told her to at least eat that.  Well, she whined but finally ate half of it.  She got a popsicle too, but most of it just melted because she was too busy following Rylie around. 

Don't get me wrong, Mariah is a good little girl.  But boy, oh boy...2 three year olds is a whole heck of a lotta work!  Eventually their personalties just really started to clash.  Mariah is potty trained and I thought that when Rylie saw that she would be interested in going potty too.  NOT!  She came in and clapped and cheered for Mariah, but when I asked her if she wanted to go potty too..."nope" and that was that.  Oh well.  We'll just keep working on it.


Well, I hope you found the crock pot recipes interesting.  If you have any that you would like to share, please send them to me.  I'd really appreciate it.  As a matter of fact, if you have any recipes that you would like to share, please send them to me.  I'd really appreciate it.  Especially, any easy, tasty ones that I can pass along to the girls.   Thanks!

Have a great Monday!

P.S.~No one has said anything, how do ya'll like the new "look" of the journal?  I'm not sure about it.  Green isn't really one of my favorite colors.  I don't know why I went with it.  I'm also working on a Blue colored theme.  I may just leave this new look on for a bit and then try on the blue on.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Rylie JoLee

I hate those mornings when I wake up with a headache.  Today is one of those days, ugh.  Yesterday was much better, even though I still seem to have this nagging cough and sore throat.  I woke up feeling pretty good.  Even Miss Rylie Jo woke up in a good mood.  Which is why, after her bath I grabbed the camera and started taking some pictures of the baby.
I know, I know...she is almost three and not much of a baby anymore.  However, considering that she is three and the oldest is 21, well she will always be referred to as the baby.  Poor thing, lol.  I can see her at 30 and her older siblings introducing her as the baby. 
So yesterday I pulled out this cute little plaid dress that I got for her around Christmas and asked if she wanted to wear it.  I figured it would be easy since we are trying to get her to wear big girl panties and go to the potty.  She got all excited and started clapping and saying "yeah, yeah".  (she still hasn't gotten her S's down)  So this is how cute she looked yesterday.

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She even left the little side pony tail in her hair for longer than 1/2 an hour.  Usually she yanks it out after about 15 minutes.  The ear infections really did a number on her system.  She still looks so pale and has those dark circles under her eyes.  But I still think she is cute as a button.

About half and hour after I had taken these pictures she came out of her room, where she had been playing with a wee bit of a problem.  Here's a picture of that.

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I guess she watched me curling my hair this morning and thought she could do the same thing with her little comb.  Ohmahgosh!  I thought I was going to have to cut that out of there for a minute.  But after about 10 minutes of gently pulling wee bits of hair this way and that, I finally got it out of there.

She also had a few other "wee" problems.  At one point she decided to put her cute little black Mary Jane's on.  Ahh, not such a great idea as the "wee" ran right down into her shoes.  I kept asking her "do you have to go potty?"  Or saying "Mommy's going potty, do you have to go?"  Sometimes she would come in and sit on her little chair, for a few seconds, usually she didn't want to. 

Not once has she pottied in her little toilet.  I'm not getting stressed about it though.  I mean why would she want to?  She has all these cool toys in her room to play with, important shows on the Disney channel to watch.  I understand that, in her mind, she can't be bothered with this potty business.  She likes the diapers, their convenient. 

This weekend I need to go and buy a new timer.  That is how I trained my others.  If they got to a certain age and still weren't potty trained, I used the timer.  I would set it for every 15 minutes the first day.  When it went off, it was time to try to potty.  The next day it was 20 minutes.  By the third day, usually, they were beginning to come and tell me they had to potty.  By the end of the week they were potty trained. 

Of course, there are the treats that I sometimes used.  But Ray is such a sugar hound and shares that stuff with Rylie that it really wouldn't be anything that special.  However, I do know that Rylie really, really loves money (pennies as she calls any coins).  So maybe I will go to the bank and get a few rolls of nickels and pennies.  Every time she sits on the potty she will get a penny, if she tinkles she will get a nickel. 

Hmm, that just might work.  Appeal to her greedy nature.  LOL  Ya'll think I am kidding.  But when it comes to money this child is really greedy.  This is a child that will walk over to her daddy when he gets home from work and try to get her hand in his pocket and take his change.  Then when he takes all the money is out of one pocket, she wants to check the other one to make sure he isn't holding out on her.  Seriously!

Speaking of "penny grubbing", lol...I kept a piggy bank and filled it with any spare change we had.  This past year I took Rylie and her piggy to the bank and we deposited it.  Let me tell you, she was none too happy with those folks when they brought her bank back to her empty.  So just from change and what not, she now has about $65 dollars in the bank. 

We've started refilling the little bank and after her birthday we'll probably go and make another deposit.  I figure when we get over $100 in there, I'll take out $100 and leave the rest to re-accumulate.  The $100 I'll transfer into Bonds so she can make more interest on her money.

Well, that is all for this morning.  Have a great day and a wonderful weekend.

I'll see ya on Monday for sure, maybe before that.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Make the commitment

I wanted to post this earlier this month and I kept forgetting to do it.  Did you know that January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month?  Go here to Make the Commitment now to talk to your doctor about ways to prevent cervical cancer.
Have a good night!

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These are home health remedies that have been emailed to me or that I found on the Internet.  I have not tried them all and do NOT guarantee the effectiveness of them.  If you try one and it works, or if you have one that works for you, please email me.  Thanks!
Bad Breath
  • Boil some cinnamon bark in a cup of water. Store it in a clean bottle in your bathroom. Use it as a mouthwash frequently.
  • Parsley leaves are rich in chlorophyll, nature's own deodorizer. Chew some leaves regularly and your breath will remain fresh.
  • You can chew some cardamom seeds to sweeten your breath.
  • Try a salt water rinse.  Add about a spoonful of salt to a glass of warm water and keep gargling with it until it is all gone.
  • Hydrogen peroxide rinse.  Swish, rinse and gargle with a small amount of hydrogen peroxide.  Caution: Be sure NOT to swallow the peroxide.
Here is today's Healthy Reflection from Spark People.
"If you have one true friend you have more than your share." 
- Thomas Fuller, English clergyman & historian

The value of friendship

We all have a handful of acquaintances--those people with whom we work or see at the store and casually say hello to and move on. But a friend is someone you confide in, bring over for an afternoon cup of coffee, invite to your wedding, or cry with when a loved one passes away. You just feel a sense of safety with a friend. Don't wait until a rainy day to express how much a good friend means to you. Often we are unaware of how much we mean to others until they speak up, and likewise we never know how much another person might truly need to hear such affirmations. An approving, cheerful word of encouragement can thrill a heart. Be sure to always say kind words before you part, show sympathy during hard times and affection during wonderful ones. Life would not be the same without positive friendships. Express your gratitude to someone today who has made a difference in your world!

I consider myself very lucky to be blessed with the wonderful and loving friends that I have in my life.  I love and value them all very much, and thank God for them every day.

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Have a beautiful day!


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Discussing happiness

Yes, my mood today does say "flirtatious".  Ray got home from work early today, and I am feeling a bit...uh, well flirty is the best way to describe it I guess, LOL.  Have I told ya'll lately that I LOVE my ol' man?  Yep, I do, I do! 
Oh we have had our trials and tribulations, but when I stand back and look at the relationship, overall it has been worth it all.  Not to say there weren't days that I really wanted to just throw the towel in and call it a day.  I'm so happy that I didn't.  When I think about those times, most of them were "outside" influences that were causing the difficulties.  I thank God we were able to work through those difficult times. 
Which makes the following email I received from Spark People today seem so relevant.  I hope you find something worthwhile when reading it too.

A great obstacle to happiness is expecting too much happiness.
- Bernard de Fontanelle, French writer

Understanding happiness

Happiness is a state of mind, not a way of life or a destination that you'll reach one day. Bumps in the road of life are to be expected, and we cannot let them ruin our days. We often think that if a combination of factors would just fall into place THEN we would finally be happy. Satisfaction can only come from within, through truly accepting yourself, your life, and your circumstances. During this life you'll have many hard days--long work days, sleepless nights, worrying about the future, etc. This week, think about the joys of your life. Find creative ways to enjoy the little bumps in the road.

My list of some of some of the JOYS in my life, the things that make it worthwhile for me to wake up every morning.

1.  God's love
2.  Rylie Jo-my baby
3.  Christopher-my baby boy (can I call him that when he will be 15 in 2 1/2 weeks?)
4.  Samantha-myoldest daughter 
5.  David-my eldest child
6.  Ray-my love
7.  My mom and the gift of her life and survival of cancer
8.  Rays girls-Stephanie & Aimee (it's been a journey, but I've grown from the experience and I'm thankful they have been a part of my life)

9.  Little Miss Aubreigh-our first grand baby and a real beauty 
10.  My friends and the happiness and sanity they often bring to me
11.  My creativity and the fun that I have doing special little things 
12.  My quirky need for order and organization (it makes me who I am and I love that)
13.  Photography
14.  Driving with the window open and the wind blowing across my face
15.  Gardening
16.  Cooking and baking
17.  Making homemade jam (I feel so old-fashioned and fulfilled when I finish a batch of homemade jellies)
18.  Is it really possible that I was going to write "laundry" here?  LMAO!  Okay, that is stretching it, but I am thankful for the fact that we actually have those clothes that need to be washed.  Some people don't.

Ahh, did I get off track again?  I was supposed to be writing about my joys and I think it went off onto what I am thankful for.  Well, they're two pretty closely related issues and many, if not all, of them would be on both lists.

I hope ya'll had a pleasant day. 
 Jill Marie


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Some miscellaneous cleaning tips

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A cleaning tip, or two, that you may find useful.  As I say on my Web page
, these are tips that have been emailed to me, or that I have found on the Internet.  I have not tried all of them and do NOT guarantee their effectiveness.  If you do try one and it works, or if you have another one that works for you, please let me know.
Today I am sharing a few Miscellaneous Cleaning Tips

Grease stains on the driveway can be cleaned with dry concrete. Scatter some dry concrete on the stain, swish it around with a stiff broom and sweep up.

For those of you with a chimney, throw a few handfuls of salt on the fire periodically to help stretch out the chimney sweep visits. The salt will keep the soot from depositing. Also, use a foamy bathroom cleaner on the bricks or stone in front of the chimney to get rid of fireplace stains. Be sure to wash with a mild sudsy cleaner after.

Chrome can be cleaned with aluminum foil dipped in Coke ™. Be sure to wad up the aluminum foil, hold over the sink and wipe the chrome. The chemical reaction will get rid of the rust.

For crayon on the walls, try using WD 40 ™. The oil will cut right through the wax in the crayon. If color remains, try bleach. Kitty litter and baby powder mixed in the toe of old pantyhose makes a wonderful odor remover for those smelly kids shoes.It absorbs, dries and freshens as the same time.

To keep ants from entering the house, sprinkle cinnamon or any other pepper along entranceways to prevent the ants from entering the house. If you live near a wooded area and have a problem with snakes, you can sprinkle mothball powder along decks, garage doors and other entranceways to prevent all sorts of creepy crawlies from coming in.

Baking soda in the bottom of trash cans will help absorb any stray odors as well.


This was a little message from the folks over at Spark People, that I agree with completely. 

I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.  - Bill Cosby, comedian

The dangers of people pleasing

No matter how hard you try, no matter how many hours you spend pondering and planning, and regardless of making your hardest efforts, you absolutely cannot please everyone. It is impossible. So do yourself a favor and stop now before you drive yourself further towards insanity. There are many drawbacks to being a people-pleaser. A big one is that you often put yourself in a position of subservience. Sometimes you even put yourself last, which helps no one. Remember that helping yourself and doing what you feel is important should be valued. Find worth in your own opinions and viewpoint, and don't let your desire to please others compel you to keep yourself in the background. Falling short of perfection only proves that you are a normal human being.

The only thing you accomplish by being a "people pleaser" is making yourself everyone's door mat.  There is nothing wrong with helping people out, IF it is something that you really want to do or believe in.  However, if your only doing it to placate someone, or to make a friend, or to "keep the waters calm" then I believe you are doing a big disservice to yourself. 

Being a door mat or "servant" for other people will only eat away at you.  It is harmful to you emotionally and, eventually physically.  The more you stress out about doing all this stuff for other people, that you really don't want to do to begin with, the more damage you are doing to you body and soul day by day.

You don't have to be mean or aggressive in your refusal to help, or your disagreeing with someone.  But remember that your opinions and choices are just as important as anyone else's.  Stand up for yourself, if you don't who else will?  LOL, well maybe me.  But I can't always be there.  I have to learn to start standing up for myself more often too. 

LMAO!  It's easier to encourage others to stand up for themselves than it is to do it for yourself.  But I'm going to make more of an effort and I hope you will too.  Do we really want to wait 20 or 30 years to do the things we want to do?  To value ourselves as much as we value others?

For example, my mother was married to my father for about 40 years.  What he wanted always came first.  So for the first 20 years of her life she lived under her fathers roof and his decisions, for the next 40 it was my fathers roof and primarily his decisions.  I know that she loved my father and us kids, however I can't even begin to comprehend the sacrifices she made for us. 

It sounds awful for me to say it this way, but since my father died she has lived her life with joy and happiness.  She does the things she wants, goes where she wants, when she wants...and personally I couldn't be more proud (of the way she has handled the things life has thrown at her) or happier for her.  At the same time, it saddens me that she spent so many years taking care of others (us, her family and friends) rather than spending a little more time on herself.

I see her...when I look into the mirror.  I honor her and love her, but that is one trait that I do not want to pass on to my children.  I've tried to impart to them how important it is to plan for their future, to put themselves first (in an unselfish manner, is that possible?).  But those are things that I have expressed to them.  I don't know if I have shown them through example.  I wonder if I've done a good enough job?  That is a hard question to ask yourself.  Have I done enough for them?  Will they be able to stand up for themselves?  Lord, I hope so.  I pray so. 

Well, surprise, surprise...I'm rambling again, LOL.


Have a wonderful day!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Some salad and dip recipes, and the dictionary game

I came across this salad recipe that sounded absolutely yummy.  My mom used to make warm spinach salad that I really loved.
Warm Chicken Salad with Oranges and Almonds
Source: Better Homes and Gardens
Makes 4 servings
2 medium oranges
6 cups torn romaine
1 medium red sweet pepper, cut into bite-size strips
1/2 of a small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/3 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast strips for stir-frying or 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into thin bite-size strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
Coarsely ground black pepper  
Peel oranges. Cut into 1/4-inch slices; quarter each orange slice. In a large salad bowl toss together orange slices, romaine, sweet pepper, onion, and almonds. Set aside.

Season chicken with salt and black pepper. In a large skillet heat oil. Cook and stir chicken in hot oil for 4 to 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Remove skillet from heat. Toss chicken with mixture in salad bowl. Divide salad among 4 dinner plates.
Stir orange juice and vinegar into the hot skillet, scraping up any brown bits in the skillet. Whisk in 1 tablespoon olive oil and the Dijon-style mustard. Serve salad with warm dressing. Season to taste with coarsely ground black pepper. Makes 4 servings.
So that got me to thinking about the salad that Mom made and I went and looked up some Spinach salad recipes.  The first one seems the easiest, the second one sounds the most like Mom's recipe (except sugar not splenda) and the last one just sounds really, really good.
Spinach salad

8 oz fresh spinach
small head romaine lettuce
2 tsp sugar
crumbled bacon
1/4 cup vinegar
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp bacon grease
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp dry mustard
dash pepper
Wash greens and dry. Heat remaining ingredients to boiling, and pour over greens. serve immediately.

Warm Spinach Salad

1 7 oz bag baby spinach greens
1/2 c nonfat salad croutons
1/4 c white vinegar
1/4 c water
1/4 c Dijon mustard
5 slices turkey bacon
1/4 c chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic peeled and minced.
Place spinach greens in colander. Wash and remove stems, drain well. Place in serving bowl. Add croutons.
Blend vinegar, water, mustard and SPLENDA granular. Set aside.

Slice bacon into small, thin strips. Place in med saucepan and fry over med hi heat until crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Add onion and garlic and cook over med-hi heat 1 to 2 minutes, stirring often.

Add vinegar mixture and simmer 1 to 2 minutes., Pour over spinach and croutons, Toss well. Serve immediately.

Spinach Salad with Chicken and Fruit

6 cups fresh spinach (8 ounces)
1/4 cup salad oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
1 11-ounce can mandarin oranges, chilled and drained
1-1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken or turkey or two 5-ounce cans chunk-style chicken, drained and flaked
2 cups strawberry halves or cantaloupe cubes  
Rinse and tear spinach. Cover and store in refrigerator. For dressing, in a screw top jar combine oil, red wine vinegar, orange juice, mustard, and poppy seeds. Cover and shake well. Chill up to 24 hours.

When ready to serve, in a large salad bowl combine spinach, orange sections, chicken, and strawberries or cantaloupe. Shake dressing and drizzle over salad; toss to coat. Makes 4 to 6 main-dish servings.
I also thought I'd throw a few dip recipes out there for those of you who have a Super Bowl party coming up.
Fresh Onion Dip
Source: Better Homes and Gardens
1-1/2 cups chopped sweet onion (such as Vidalia or Walla Walla)
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
4 teaspoons snipped fresh chives
Milk (optional)
In a medium skillet cook onion in margarine or butter about 5 minutes or until tender. Cool.

In a blender container or food processor bowl combine cooked onion, sour cream, salt, black pepper, and red pepper. Cover and blend or process until nearly smooth.
Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in chives. Cover and chill 1 to 24 hours.
Before serving, stir in additional milk, a teaspoon at a time, if necessary, to make of dipping consistency. Serve with a variety of dippers, such as chips and sliced raw vegetables. Makes 1-1/2 cups.
Spinach Salad Dip
Source: Better Homes and Gardens
5 slices bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 small onion, finely chopped (1/3 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups chopped spinach leaves
1 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup dairy sour cream
2 tablespoons milk
Bagel chips or pita crisps  
Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels; crumble four of the bacon slices and set aside. Crumble the remaining slice of bacon; cover and chill for garnish.

Remove drippings from pan. Add the olive oil to the pan. Add mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Cook over medium heat until mushrooms are tender. Stir in vinegar, mustard, and pepper. Stir in spinach; cook and stir for 30 seconds or until spinach is wilted. Add cream cheese, stirring until melted. Remove from heat. Stir in sour cream, the 2 tablespoons milk, and the four slices of crumbled bacon. Transfer to a serving bowl. Cover and chill for 4 to 36 hours.
To serve, stir dip. If necessary, stir in additional milk until mixture is of dipping consistency. Top with chilled bacon. Serve with bagel chips or pita crisps. Makes 32 1-tablespoon servings.
Hot Artichoke and Asiago Cheese Dip
Source: Better Homes and Gardens
Baked Pita Chips
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
4 ounces Asiago or Parmesan cheese, finely shredded (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained
1 cup bottled roasted red sweet peppers, drained
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced green onion
Bottled roasted red sweet pepper strips (optional)
Fresh parsley leaves (optional)  
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare and bake the Baked Pita Chips. Set aside.

In a food processor*, combine cream cheese, Asiago cheese, and garlic. Cover and process until mixture is combined. Add artichoke hearts, 1 cup roasted red peppers, mushrooms, and green onion. Cover and process with on/off turns until finely chopped. Transfer mixture to a 1-1/2-quart shallow baking dish or 9-inch glass pie plate, spreading mixture evenly in dish.
Cover and bake dip about 25 minutes or until heated through. (Or microwave, uncovered, on 70% power [medium-high] for 6 to8 minutes or until heated through, stirring the dip and turning the dish halfway through cooking time.)
Serve the warm dip with Baked Pita Chips. If desired, garnish with roasted red pepper strips and parsley leaves. Makes 12 servings.
Make-Ahead Tip: Prepare and bake the Baked Pita Chips as directed; transfer chips to wire racks to cool. Place in an airtight container. Store at room temperature for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw the chips, covered, at room temperature.
Mixer Directions: In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and Asiago cheese with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until combined. Finely chop garlic, artichoke hearts, 1 cup roasted red peppers, mushrooms, and green onion. Stir into cheese mixture. Transfer to baking dish and bake as directed.

Mexican Seven-Layer Dip
Source: Better Homes and Gardens
1 9-ounce can bean dip
1/4 cup picante or taco sauce
1 8-ounce container refrigerated guacamole
1 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar or taco cheese (4 ounces)
1/4 cup sliced green onion (2)
2 tablespoons sliced pitted ripe olives
2/3 cup chopped, seeded tomato (1 medium)
8 cups tortilla chips or crackers  
Combine bean dip and picante sauce; spread into a rectangle about 9-by 5-inches on a serving platter making a layer about 1?4 inch thick. Next carefully layer avocado dip and sour cream. Top with cheese, green onion, and olives. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours.

Before serving, sprinkle with chopped tomato. Serve with tortilla chips.
Makes 16 appetizer servings (1/4 cup dip and 1/2 cup chips)
It's been awhile since we've done this, so let's have a dictionary day.  Today's word is MAN
Main Entry: 1man
Function: noun
Pronunciation: 'man, in compounds "man or m&n
Inflected Form(s): plural
- one's own man : free from interference or control : INDEPENDENT
- to a man : without exception men/'men, in compounds "men or m&n/
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English man, mon human being, male human; akin to Old High German man human being, Sanskrit manu
1 a (1) : an individual human ; especially : an adult male human (2) : a man belonging to a particular category (as by birth, residence, membership, or occupation) -- usually used in combination <councilman> (3) : HUSBAND (4) : LOVER b : the human race : MANKIND c : a bipedal primate mammal (Homo sapiens) that is anatomically related to the great apes but distinguished especially by notable development of the brain with a resultant capacity for articulate speech and abstract reasoning, is usually considered to form a variable number of freely interbreeding races, and is the sole representative of a natural family (Hominidae) ; broadly : any living or extinct member of this family d (1) : one possessing in high degree the qualities considered distinctive of manhood (2) obsolete : the quality or state of being manly : MANLINESS e : FELLOW , CHAP f -- used interjectionally to express intensity of feeling <man, what a game>
2 a : INDIVIDUAL , PERSON <a man could get killed there> b : the individual who can fulfill or who has been chosen to fulfill one's requirements <she's your man>
3 a : a feudal tenant : VASSAL b : an adult male servant c plural : the working force as distinguished from the employer and usually the management
4 a : one of the distinctive objects moved by each player in various board games b : one of the players on a team
5 : an alumnus of or student at a college or university <a Bowdoin man>
6 Christian Science : the compound idea of infinite Spirit : the spiritual image and likeness of God : the full representation of Mind
7 often capitalized : POLICE <when I heard the siren, I knew it was the Man -- Amer. Speech>
8 often capitalized : the white establishment : white society <surprise that any black... should take on so about The Man -- Peter Goldman>
9 : one extremely fond of or devoted to something specified <strictly a vanilla ice cream man>
- man·less/'man-l&s/ adjective
- man·like/-"līk/ adjective
- as one man : with the agreement and consent of all : UNANIMOUSLY
- one's own man : free from interference or control : INDEPENDENT
- to a man : without exception
Personally, I think it takes much more to BE a Man than what they have time for in a dictionary.  To be a REAL man, you must have respect for others.  Before you can have respect for anyone else, I guess you have to have a certain degree of self-respect.  If you don't have any self-respect, it makes it awfully hard for anyone else to hold you with any respect, and if others can't respect you , you certainly don't respect anyone else.  Yep, I think it all revolves around respect.
For example, a REAL man doesn't have to hit or threaten his wife and children.  There would be no need to if he were truly a man who deserved their respect in the first place.  He wouldn't need to be in control of their every waking movement and feel the need to know their every thought.
A REAL man, wouldn't invade another families home, and begin yelling at someone else's wife when her husband isn't even home.  A REAL man would wait for her husband to come home and THEN try pulling that stunt!  Can ya'll even imagine what kind of a wee, little man would be to do something like that?!
He ESPECIALLY wouldn't do that in front of small children, especially ones that have already endured more than any child should, perhaps traumatizing them even more with such outrageous behavior.  If a REAL man had done something that idiotic, he would be man enough to call up and apologize for his behavior and lack of respect to ALL the people in the home at the time.  Especially, especially, especially if the mother of those precious children were standing there asking him not to yell like that in front of her kids.
A REAL man doesn't go around and spread lies and rumors about a man and his family behind their back.  A REAL man would have the cojones to go and say something directly to the other mans face.
I could go on and on, but I'm pretty sure you get the idea.  There is a distinctive difference between being a man (homo sapien or perhaps little more than an ape) and being a Man (one who respects and deserves respect). 
You'll notice the difference in the size of font that I used for man and Man, it is symbolic of the difference in the size of men.  I'm not referring to the physical size, any ape can be big, but the essence, quality or value of the individual is what makes a REAL Man bigger than the average, disrespectful, intelligence impaired, volatile, hairy ape. 
If some of you men happen to recognize yourself in today's Dictionary game, don't blame me.  The choice to be the kind of man you are lies within you, I don't have any control over your abilities as a man, or lack thereof.  Today's word of the day is in no way a reference to any "known" male.  It is just a general observation of some of the male species and life.
Have a pleasant day.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Introducing Aubreigh!

 How terrible.  With everyone being sick and all I forgot to upload my pictures and introduce ya'll to the grandbaby.  Rylie is still sleeping, so I've had some time to work on these and make a graphic to show her off to ya'll.  Here she is...

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 The answer to Rylies question..."can we have one?" is absolutely not.  LOL  Your just going to have enjoy playing with your niece.  OMG, it sounds to funny, Rylie is an Auntie!  LOL

Aubreigh is just a perfect little doll baby, isn't she?  I was so excited when I found out we were pregnant for Rylie, but I think that grandbabies are just as wonderful.  I can't wait for David, Sammi and Christopher...well, maybe I can, LOL. 

Have a good Saturday!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Tarnish question

 Hi Patty!  Thanks for the question.  

Comment from: littlelady1699
"Do you have a simple way to clean {polish} silver goblets with out the use of chemichals???
This is one way to remove tarnish, and I would guess that if you put it in a pan deep enough for your goblets it would work for them too.
Tarnished Silverware

For tarnished silverware, heat 2 cups of water and add 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Put silverware on a sheet of aluminum foil in a pan with the silverware making contact on the foil. The combination of metal and baking soda will cause the tarnish to disappear.
I wear a lot of silver jewelry and I use toothpaste to clean it.  It is really, really easy.
Instructions to clean silver with Toothpaste
Place a clean cotton sock on your polishing hand.

Dampen the sock slightly under cool running water.
Squeeze a pearl-size drop of toothpaste on your fingertip area.
Apply the toothpaste to the silver using up-and-down rather than circular strokes until the tarnish is gone.
Use a twisted bit of rag to get between silverware tines and other tight spaces.
Rinse the silver well.
Polish it dry with the clean side of the sock.
Store silver in an airtight plastic bag or in a chest lined with tarnish-resistant flannel.
At Home Made Simple they make this recommendation to help prevent tarnish. 

Clean any tarnish off your silverware with silver polish and a cotton flannel cloth before storing it in an airtight flatware storage case lined with soft-napped cotton cloth that is specially treated to prevent tarnishing. Store the case in your china cabinet or a box away from moisture. Despite your best efforts, tarnishing may occur over time so inspect your silverware periodically and remove any tarnish to keep it in top shape.
Also, a quick NOT put rubber bands around your silverware as it will cause them to tarnish.  Also make sure that the silver is completely dry before storing it as moisture will cause it to tarnish.
Thanks for the question and I hope this helps!