Wednesday, September 30, 2015


To think that I'm in my 50's now, and my kids are practically grown up!!!  Here's what they've been up to lately:

My married daughter is now officially an Arizonan (I guess that's what they call themselves)!  She is living with her Hubs in a very remote area just minutes from the Grand Canyon.  She has some job prospects right now and is enjoying being reunited with him and the dog.  They are still working on their Tiny House Bus - not really living in it yet.

My oldest son is still working on building his videography business, and on the side, has started a mobile coffee service with his cousin!  Good thing his girl likes coffee!

Our youngest is multi-tasking too, as he attempts to go to college and work on his various projects like the snow-cone business and odd jobs. He is constantly moving!  His latest effort is revamping the Mystery Machine for the business.  He just took these "before" pictures.

Friday, September 25, 2015


Have you seen Butternut squash vases?  Pinterest gets me busy again!  :)

I found this recently when looking for ideas for a fall bridal shower.  In the meantime, since I was hosting a luncheon after Bible study this week and I saw Butternut squash on sale for $.59 lb., I thought it was time to give this a try!

You just cut off the top and hollow out a little, like a pumpkin.

I picked some flowers from my garden.  I'm sure if I paid for some fancy flowers they'd be even cuter.  But I was pretty happy with them.

If you want them to last longer, you can insert a test tube (Hobby Lobby) as a little vase inside the squash.  I decided for my purposes not to do that.  But the flowers did wilt quickly.  I think it's because the flowers are delicate, but maybe because the water I put in the squash absorbed into it.  

Anyway, it was a fun touch to our luncheon!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


We had our first college dinner of the school year the other night!  It's always an effort to find a date when my husband's schedule coordinates well with our college son's schedule!  But worth it - you never know if you just made a kid's day or will be there at just the right time for them.  AND it makes a pretty good excuse for me to make some desserts that I am just not making a lot anymore.  YUM!

This year is pretty special because we have not only our son but two nieces and a nephew all at the same school!  So they all came for dinner along with some friends, even if it was at different times.

On the menu:

Smoked chicken
Artichoke chicken casserole
Green salad
Veggie tray with spicy Ranch dip
Green beans
Roasted sweet potato slices
Roasted potato slices
Hot rolls
Oreo Ice cream dessert
Peanut butter sheet cake

Saturday, September 19, 2015


This is a sculpture I saw on our recent trip to Santa Fe, NM.  I loved the name, "Not Afraid To Look."  It's something that causes you to ponder.  What is he looking at?  What is the fearsome thing that he is not afraid to see?  In my mind it might be the future.  I like the way the artist didn't put him with his head looking down, like in a depressed way.  He's not looking into himself.  He's looking out and slightly up toward heaven.  He's facing whatever it is with calm and confidence.

It reminds me of the Proverbs 31 woman:

She is clothed with strength and dignity, 
    and she laughs without fear of the future.

I guess that's what good art does.  It causes you to wonder what the artist was thinking and causes you to interpret what it means to you, too.  Which way are you looking?  Up and out?  Or with your head down between your knees?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Well it was my turn to bring breakfast goodies to my class Sunday and lo and behold all my frozen loaves of banana/pumpkin bread were gone!  So I needed to make something and didn't feel like going to the store, but I did have a can of cranberry sauce in the pantry.  I found this recipe for bread made with cranberry sauce and tried it's delicious!  I adapted it slightly.  It's a great blend of tart with sweet.  The brown sugar and cinnamon in it really makes it taste like fall!  Give it a try.
Cranberry Sauce Bread
Makes 1 9" loaf 
1 1/2 cups whole berry cranberry sauce, divided
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5” loaf pan, and set aside.

In a large bowl or the base of a mixer, beat together 1 cup of the cranberry sauce, oil, sugar, egg, and vanilla. In another bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and ground cinnamon. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until evenly combined.

Spread into the prepared pan. Dollop the remaining cranberry sauce on top, then bake about 50 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Saturday, September 12, 2015


Our little visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico...
We shared a ride to Santa Fe with our good friends - and they had never seen the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo - so of course we had to stop!

In Tucumcari we stopped for a snack and we found a cool coffee shop with an old airplane theme! It was connected to this retro motel.  It was a nice stop and we enjoyed visiting with the owner.  We even stopped back by here on the way home!

Santa Fe has a LOT of art galleries and wonderful sculptures all around town.  We also went to a farmer's market on Saturday morning there.

We took a trolley tour that gave us some of the history of Santa Fe.  This is one of the few remaining true adobe houses.  The same family has lived in it over 100 years.  Adobe is high maintenance our tour guide explained - it has to have another coat of mud put on the house every 5 years!  Very cool that the family that lives here is dedicated to maintaining that.  

The beautiful doors of one of the old churches there.  We walked into several missions (old churches) there - kinda reminded me of Europe!

This was the strangest thing ever.  ZOZOBRA.  It's actually something we caught on TV at night in our room.  But it was happening locally.  We didn't care to pay $10 to get caught up in this with 27,000 others.  Zozobra is the oldest community festival (supposedly) in the US.  A huge puppet (about 30 feet high) is set on fire after everyone writes their woes down on a piece of paper at it's feet.  A woman in a red costume was dancing around it as well.  The puppet's arms moved and it roared a lot before catching on fire.  It was really strange and reminded me of the golden calf or some old ancient sacrifice.  

Rock paper scissors sculpture!
You see a few donkey sculptures around because many years ago they would load them with wood and send them down to a certain place near the plaza so people could buy it.
This is me and one of my friends in one of my favorite sculpture gardens.  These are all for sale.  I could really drop some dollars here if I had them to burn!

We also ate a lot of good food but nothing to rave about.  Really the BEST thing about the trip was meeting up with our longtime friends and just spending some quality time with them.  Which is how it should be...

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


What's a splurge for you???  Funny thing about it, it's different for everybody, based on your lifestyle and past experiences.  With my husband's job, we've grown used to having hotel points because of the travel with his job.  So most of our vacation spots involve some branch of Marriott hotel.  We are used to a standard service that is very good.  But we are frugal with our points and it's not often we use them on the fancy resorts.

This past weekend we vacationed with our friends from Tennessee, Tulsa, and Edmond that we spend time with every other year since we were all married the same summer back in 1983.  The Tennessee folks planned this weekend getaway in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  We had been there once before, skiing with our kids, but it was long ago, so I was happy to go again and do some different things!  The hotel picked out was a SPLURGE - right in the heart of town, a historic place just oozing with character.  It was LaFonda on the Plaza.  I have to say, it was gorgeous and even though I wasn't thrilled at the price, after one step inside, I loved it and being in that setting with our dear friends was worth every penny.  Take a look:

 Our room - beautiful with original artwork and every room with a different handprinted headboard, gorgeous light fixtures, etc.

A wonderful remodeled bathroom with the sliding door - so pretty but not the greatest functionality-wise.  But who really needs that on a vacation?

 Even the halls had the theme going on...
 The fireplace

Another hallway - and there were lots of shops and restaurants on the perimeter of the building.

There was a restaurant/atrium in the middle and it had a lot of painted glass panels all around it.  Just gorgeous! I loved seeing this every day!  

View of a 300 year old church out our window

Splurging is fun once in a while but I think I'm going to need to remember to keep everything in perspective and not expect it or need it as I get older!  I have heard a sermon before about splurging for God.  It's a good thing, a convicting thing, to think about...

Thursday, September 3, 2015


I don't need much of an excuse to bake...and when a bride told me her wedding colors were plum and red, I started thinking about food for her shower. Thank goodness for Pinterest, I found Red Velvet Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel Filling and of course, had to test the recipe!  I adapted it a little, but here's the link as well.  Beautiful and delicious!

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel filling

Salted Caramel Filling - step 1

2 T. Water
1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar

1/2 Cup Heavy Cream, at room temperature
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1/4 Cup Butter, at room temperature

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

To make the caramel:  In a small thick-bottomed saucepan mix together the water and the granulated sugar until well blended. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat and continue boiling until the mixture turns a light caramel color, only stirring once every four minutes. This took me about eight minutes, but the speed will depend upon the heat of your stovetop. Remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the heavy cream, butter, and brown sugar until incorporated. Be careful as the mixture will spit and hiss a bit. If the sugar begins to clump up when you're stirring do not fret, just stir as best as you can for about 30 seconds and then put the pot back on the heat and bring it back to a boil again over medium-low heat. Once it is boiling again stir until the sugar chunk dissolves and the mixture is smooth. Once it smoothes out, stir it every two minutes and allow the mixture to simmer for 10-12 minutes or until it has thickened. Remove from the stovetop and stir in the salt. Allow to cool to room temperature before placing it in the refrigerator to continue cooling. Once cooled, you want the caramel to be thick enough where it can be used as a filling without oozing everywhere, but still soft enough to mold with your hands into a soft ball. If yours is still liquidy after a stint in the refrigerator, bring it to a simmer and cook again for a few minutes until it thickens a bit, then cool it down again.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies - step 2
2 Cups Flour
2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ Cup Butter, softened
1 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
½ Cup buttermilk
1-3 teaspoons red food coloring

Sea Salt crystals

To make the Red Velvet Whoopie Pies:   Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt until well blended. Set aside. Beat the butter in a stand mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds, then add the brown sugar and beat for 1 minute more or until creamed together.

Add the egg and the vanilla extract and continue mixing until they're fully combined. Now alternate between adding a bit of the flour mixture and a bit of the buttermilk until they have been completely incorporated. Turn the speed to a low setting and add the red food coloring, starting with 1 teaspoon.  Add until you get the color you like. 

Use a tablespoon to scoop a bit of the batter and place it on the parchment paper in rows with about 2 inches between each whoopie pie... Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the tops of the whoopie pies are set. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the pan to cool for 5 minutes before removing the whoopie pies and allowing them to cool completely on a wire rack.

When the whoopie pies are completely cooled, take a teaspoon to a tablespoon (depending on the width of your whoopie pies) of the salted caramel and roll it into a ball in your hand, then press it between your palms to flatten it. Place the little caramel disc on an upside down whoopie pie.  Sprinkle a few sea salt crystals on top of the caramel and then place a right-side up whoopie pie on top to make a little sandwich. Repeat until you use up all the whoopie pies or all of the caramel. The assembled whoopie pies can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days.