Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What I learned this year

My life is strange and chaotic all the time but this has been a very strange and chaotic year for me. There has been so much happen to me that I can't even begin to list it here but each and every event, whether it was good or bad, has been a blessing and a learning experience. I thought I'd share some of the life lessons I got this year. some are serious, some aren't.
1. Let the people you love know everyday how important they are to you because you never know when you might not get that chance again, and you will forever regret all of the things you should have said. (I'm sorry, Mark)
2. When tragedy strikes, you really learn who your friends are and who really knows you, and who doesn't. (Thanks Nanc.)
3. Life sucks and it isn't fair. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst and hope it comes out even.
4. Never put your pjs on to drive home after a race at 1:30 am and say "no one's going to see me anyway" because it's no fun to stand along side the interstate wearing your striped pajamas waiting for the Highway Patrol to get there because you crashed headfirst into the guardrail at 2 in the morning on Memorial Day. **and the officer will not believe that you haven't been drinking BECAUSE you are wearing pajamas*** (Cris and Bill, you were right, I should have stayed)
5. I am stronger than I think. There were times when I was sure that I couldn't survive one more minute, and there were times that I actually prayed for death, but those times passed and I am all the better for it. (Thanks Sandy)
6. I am not as strong as I think I am. There were times when I thought I could handle anything and all it took was one small thing to topple the house of cards. (thanks again Sandy)
7. Never underestimate the cleverness and determination of your pets. They will always surprise you. (Buddy, why do you get the ramen noodles?)
8. When the internet tells you that a trip is going to take 12 hours to drive and you think it will really only take 10 because you drive like the devil is chasing you, it will really take 15 or 16 hours to get there because the universe conspires against you. (Branson, MO- nuff said)
9. Always read the alcohol content on a bottle of wine you've never had before, especially if you have to work the next day. Trust me on this one, it will save you a terrible hangover. (Thanks, bottle of Terra White and your 13% alcohol content)
10. You can't make sense out of everything. Some things don't have a set of instructions, or someone to tell you how to handle it. You just have to wing it and find your own way to get through it.(thanks Weesa)
11. The people who work at the house depot place don't belive a woman can purchase a riding lawn mower by herself. I showed them, didn't I?
12. Cigarettes, coffee and alcohol is a very BAD diet. (thanks Maxwell House, Camel lights and Cafe Zinfandel)
13. Don't assume that you know what is best for you. You aren't always right. (I admit, I'm not always right)
14. You don't always have to be strong and capable. Sometimes you need to be vulnerable and let someone take care of you. (thanks Shawn)
15. Something that seems like a very simple act is actually one of the kindest, most caring things that someone can do for you. (thanks for feeding me macaroni and cheese.)
16. When you wake up in the morning after consuming copious amounts of Ketel One & Grey Goose and you think you feel fine, you don't. Really, you don't Go back to bed and sleep for at least 6 more hours. AND, being near any kind of breakfast food the same morning is a VERY. BAD. IDEA. (thanks everyone at the hotel bar in Cleveland. I hope you felt as bad as I did the next day)


Always, undeniably, LOVE WINS (thanks Pastor Ryan and all my friends and family)

I hope you have a safe and happy new year and that life brings you many valuable lessons in 2009.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Gift of Re-Gifting

Are you a Seinfeld fan? If so, then you know what a regifter is. My sister L took regifting to its highest art form this year and it was freaking hilarious! Last year right after Christmas my family collectively decided that there would be no gifts this year and we were all fine with that. Right before Thanksgiving this year we discussed it again and we were all still fine with that. Cool. Less shopping, less $$$$ to spend, less wrapping. Its all good.
My sister L interpreted "no gifts" to mean something different. In her mind, no gifts meant it was OK as long as she didn't spend any money on the item. I know you might be imagining some sort of lovely hand made, heartfelt gift. Not a chance. No, my sister took all of the things that she had been given as gifts that she didn't want or need and re-gifted them to all of us. The cherry on top was when she said "this is all the junk I don't want". It was one of the funniest things I have ever witnessed. My other sister laughed unil she had tears in her eyes.
It was truly a lesson in one man's trash is another man's treasure because we swapped and traded and in the end everyone got something they wanted and L got rid of her junk. I asked "What is next year's theme - Yard Sale?" I meant it as a joke but the idea has taken off. So it looks like I'll be scouring all of the garage sales and flea markets looking for that one perfect item that screams "Merry Christmas!"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I love this game!

We allowed the kidlets to open up one present that was to both of them this weekend. We bought them the Pictureka! game. Its a game where you have to find certain objects in a picute, sort of like eye spy or Where's Waldo. Let me tell you, this game is F.U.N.! We played on teams, first girls against boys, then we switched, but basically it was always 1 adult paired with 1 child. I think the adults had more fun.

If you are looking for a fun game for the family, this is it. If you're looking for a good party game, this is it. I bet it could even be turned into a game to be played in the car with a little imagination.
What games do you like to play as a family?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Questions no one asks me.

You've read in my previous posts that I like to read the This is Reverb blog by Ryan. Today his blog is about questions that no one asks him and he tagged his readers to do the same and link it back to his blog. So I am. Here it is:

1. What do you do unwind?
First of all, no one asks this question because they know I don't have time to unwind.
If I had free time I would make a pot of coffee or some tea, or maybe even open a bottle of wine, get a good book, bake some cookies and get into a luxurious bubble bath with music playing and shut out the world.

2. Why do you have 5 jobs?
I had 3 jobs before my husband died and took on the 4th one as a result of his death. (I took over his position as township clerk) Then I quit one of the first three jobs. Then this spring I was asked to develop a set of training classes and the money was to good to turn down. It was so successful that I decided to teach another series of classes for the same company. Right now, I'm back at 3 jobs for the time being but 2 are full time plus. I like to keep busy and I like to help people learn and having so many jobs does that, and then some.

3. Why don't you like to eat shrimp?
It looks like intestines. I just can't get past the way it looks. Yuck!

4. How many colors has your hair been?
All of them. I can't even remember what the natural color is, ut I can tell you that I've got more grey than I used to.

5. If you were given $100 with the instructions to spend it frivolously on yourself, what would you spend it on?
A pedicure and a massage and if anything was left over, some tea or coffee.

6. How many tattoos do you have?
Currently, six. I'd like to have more.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Me. Want. COOKIES!

Cookies are a weakness of mine. The sprinkles and the frosting are too tempting. I can't pass them up. They call out to me, beckoning me. It's a curse, I tell ya, and you can see it plainly on my size 16 behind. It's that time of year and everyone is baking cookies or making candy or some other sinful fattenting thing that tastes so good it should be illegal.

I like to bake cookies for my kids and send them to them in the mail and this is the recipe I like to use. I don't frost them though, the icing gets too smoshed. Just sprinkles. sometimes I put in a can of store bought frosting so they can decorate them themselves.

What is your favorite cookie?


2 cups butter or margarine, softened

1 pkg. (8 ozs) cream cheese, softened

2 cups sugar

2 egg yolks

1 tsp. vanilla extract

4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add sugar, egg yolks and vanilla; mix well. Gradually add flour. Cover and chill 2 hours or until firm.Roll out on a floured surface to 1/4 in.thickness. Cut into 3-in. shapes; place 1 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until set (not browned). Cool 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool. YIELD: about 7 dozen.

(that graphic is a book cover for FOOD! illustrated by Mike Pantuso. You can find it on if you like)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hello, My name is Pip and I'm a caffeine addict.

I love coffee. I love everything about it.The way it smells, the way it tastes, the way it makes me feel. I can't function without it. There is just something about the whole coffee ritual that makes me feel good inside. It brings me great joy. I drink coffee to perk (pun intended) me up and to calm me down. I drink it when I feel great and when I feel lousy. I even like SONGS about coffee (Cigarettes and Coffee by Otis Redding) One of the things that made me fall helplessly in love with my sweetie was that he fixes my coffee in the morning and brings it to me in my favorite coffee cup. Yes, coffee and me, we're on good terms.
We had an interesting conversation about caffeine this morning at work and I was very surprised that caffeine is a psychotropic drug that can cause hallucinations. I was also very surprised that 90% of Americans consume more than the "recommended" amount of caffeine each day. I would have guessed that number to be higher. I can't think of one single person I know that doesn't drink coffee, tea, or pop (soda) or eat chocolate.
So, what is your guilty pleasure and how does it make you feel?
BTW-That is a caffeine molecule over on the right.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

In a mood, part one

In a mood

I am in a black mood today. I feel mean and wicked and my temper is short. I feel like the universe is conspiring against me. No one needs to thank me for my patience because it ran out a long time ago.
This mood started last night when I had to go pick up something I ordered for Christmas. I drove 40 miles one way and when I got there the stupid place was closed. So then I decided to do a little bit of shopping. That seems like a harmless enough thing to do, doesn't it? Well, apparently I was the only person in the place who thought so! It was rudeness the likes of which I have never seen. I didn't encounter one singe smiling person. NOT ONE! Everyone looked tired and rushed.
It continued this morning when I was so busy at work I didn't know if I was coming or going. And now it is being perpetuated by some business dealings I have with the bank. Grr!
I've heard it said that you become like the 5 people you are around the most. I sure hope that my foul attitude doesn't rub off on anyone else today.
So, I've issued myself a challenge or an ultimatum, what ever you want to call it. I am going to find a way to be in a better mood.
What do you do to put yourself in a better mood?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Burning Questions

2 inches of snow dropped this weekend and IT. IS. COLD. I hate the cold. Where is my blanket and fuzzy socks? Why is it that people who have lived all thier lives in Ohio, a state where is snows, forget how to drive when the very first snowflake drops? Is there some kind of mind altering chemical in those frozen little flakes? It's a government conspiracy designed to drive up the cost of road salt and car insurance. I just know it.

My gram's funeral was Friday and I'm longing to know the answer to this question: Why do people bring food when someone dies? I think this practice is akin to religion inthe south. They even have casseroles named for it! Who hasn't eaten Funeral Potatoes at least once in their life? (And if you haven't you are missing out on one of the most delicious calorie and fat laden foods on earth)

Why does the number of socks you put INTO the washer never match what you take OUT of thw washer, and where do all those socks go? I have a basket full of sock solos. You would think at some point there would be 2 that match. No dice.

Why does my dog insist on dragging 1 package of Ramen noodles out of the pantry every day? he doesn't eat them, he just gets the package out and takes it into the living room and puts it on the floor. And while we are on the subject of my dog, why does he keep gettting into the drawer where I keep recipes? I'm worried that he might be trying to teach himself how to cook. If that happens bar the door Katie, we are all in trouble!

Where does the tape disappear to every time I'm wrapping presents. I start out the gift wrapping process all organized and stuff, with my tape and my scissors and my ribbons and name tages, but before I'm even done with the first package, everything has disappeared and I have to stop mid wrap to find it all again. Gremlins, I swear it's gremlins.

Please, help me figure it all out before I lose my mind. And if I do lose my mind, it will probably be with the tape and the socks.

Got any burning questions you want to put out there to the internet?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wish in one know the rest

I was reading some older posts on one of my favorite blogs, "This is Reverb" and found one that I thought was very interesting. The blog writer is an associate pastor at a church in Cincinnatti and his name is Ryan. He has views on religion that I enjoy reading about. And he has the cutest little blonde haired child he calls Ava Beans.
Ryan asked his readers to finish this sentence: "I wish I had..." I found some of the responses to be quite profound and moving. SO, I am shamelessly blog lifting his post and asking you to finish the same question. (Sorry Ryan. Hope you don't mind. )

I wish I had more hours in a day or less to do so that I cold stop feeling like a hamster running on a wheel all the time.

What do you wish you had?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I've Got the Music IN me!

I love music of all kids. Rap, Hip Hop, Jazz, Country, Heavy Metal, Alternative, Gospel, Bluegrass, Classical...all of it. I even have song lyrics tattooed on my back. (Under the Bridge by RHCP) I suppose it started when I was in high school and dated a DJ. I was over the moon about Angus Young and was probably the only person in my tiny little high school who knew who Yngwie Malmsteen was. Other girls could have the athletic quarter backs or the preppy pretty boys but as for me and my house, my weakness was a guitar playing bad boy who drove a fast car with a big engine.
My taste in music has changed as I've gotten older, but only a little. Just a year and a half ago I attended a Styx/Def Leppard concert and I still like to listen to Skid Row. Country music never crossed my woofers and tweeters but now I like to watch CMT in the mornings before I go to work and can I even say enough about Roll With Me by Montgomery Gentry? I'll even admit that it was the words in a Sugarland song that made me change my mind about dating my Sweetie. (Never waste another day wondering what you threw away...Don't Want To)
I have an eclectic mix of CDs in my car right now. The ones I listen to the most are
Bob Marley's Legend and something from John "Cougar" Mellencamp and any one of the 3 Sugarland CDs I own. But right now, on this cold snowy day in Ohio, I am thoroughly enjoying my latest music purchase. It is James Taylor at Christmas. If you like your traditional Christmas Carols kicked up a notch, and blended with some smooth easy jazzy music, this is the CD for you. It even has River on it, which not a lot of holiday CDs have. Natalie Cole sings Baby Its Cold Outside with Sweet Baby james and I have to say, it's probably my all time favorite version of that song. It's stuck in my head this very minute.
But the whole reason I bought this CD is because it has The Christmas Song on it and that is my all time very favorite-ist Christmas song ever (even though I much prefer the Nat King Cole version better) My favorite lyric in the whole song is this:
And so I'm offering this simple phrase
To kids from 1 to 92
Although its been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you
What kind of music do you listen to?
What is your favorite Christmas (or winter time) song?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Black Friday + Cyber Monday = RUDE

I will joyfully admit that I am one of "those" people. Yes, I am a Black Friday shopper. For about the last 15 years I have gotten up at the butt crack of dawn just to go out and get the very best Christmas bargains possible. Ask my sister L. about the time she went with me. I had a very unfortunate incident trying to buy a bread maker. (I'll tell you the story another time.) I have seen it all. From people who obviously just rolled out of bed and came in their P- Jams and slippers, to the ones who stay up all night and camp by the front door of the store. I've seen fights and tears and people who fall down inthe aisle. I normally just go about my business and get what I'm there for and patiently wait in line and try to over look the rudenes and goofiness of the other shoppers.

This year I waited until later in the morning to go shopping because I craved sleep more than I craved a good deal. I was shocked at the level of rudeness displayed by the other shoppers. In all my yars of BF shopping, I've never seen people so blatantly rude. I ran into a friend at one store and she said that one place she had been the people were so rude that she left her cart full of "stuff" in the middle of the store and went home.

I told my Sweetie about this strange phenomena when I got home and he had an intersting take on it. He said "Of course they were rude. Everyone is p'd off because they're broke and can't afford to buy Christmas presents but they still have to be out shopping and spending money."

I'm not sure if that really is the reason or not but it sounded good. It made me think of a Christmas letter my parents received from friends in TX many years ago. It said "Christmas is a strange time of year. We decorate a dead tree, and stuff our socks full of candy and we spend money we don't have buying gifts for people we don't like"

So, did you go BF shopping and did you think the other shoppers were more rude than normal? Why do you think that is?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gilding the Lilly

"Gilding the lilly" is an expression that a lot of folks don't understand but I like to use it anyway. It basically means adding excess to indulgence. For example, if you poured double mocha fudge on top of the yummiest fudge trufles you've ever eaten, that would be gilding the lilly.
So today when I was reading my most guiltiest pleasure, the Cake Wrecks blog, that was the only phrase that seemed to fit when I clicked on an ad and saw this: A strawberry lollipop flecked with edible gold flakes. It is described as a "romantic gift." the only thing my warped mind could think of was "How do you get the gold flakes out of your teeth?" and "If it stuck there, would it look like a grille?"
So, if you have a hard to buy for person on your Christmas know the one who has EVERYTHING, get them one of these lollipops. I bet a dollar it's the only one they get this year!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Thanksgiving Recipes

There are just some foods that I MUST have in order for it to be a "holiday". Is your family like that? In my family, we MUST have my Dad's mashed potatoes. I've watched him make them a thousand times but I still can't do it like he does. We also have to have noodles and home made rolls and 7 layer salad. My sister makes a strawberry cake that is becoming a tradition, too. I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite recipes for Thanksgiving, or any other big holiday meal.

Buttery Corn Casserole
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted, divided
2 cans (15-1/4 ounces each) whole kernel corn, drained
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup crushed butter-flavored crackers (about 24 crackers), divided
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, 2 tablespoons butter, corn, cheese and 1/2 cup cracker crumbs. Spoon into a greased 11-in. x 7-in. baking dish. Toss the remaining crumbs and butter; sprinkle over corn mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until edges are bubbly. Yield: 6 servings. (This recipe is from Taste of Home Magazine)

Cranberry Sauce
1 bag fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
zest from one orange
1 jar red currant jelly
1 Tbs. cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbs. cold water

Cook the cranberries with the water and sugar until the berries burst. Add in the orange zest and jelly and cook untilt he jelly melts. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook until thickened. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature. If you like it sweeter, add more sugar. I've even stirred in some packets of artificial sweetener at the end.

What are your favorite holday recipes?

Monday, November 24, 2008


Since it is so close to Thanksgiving, I've found myself really reflecting on what I'm thankful for. It is quite a bit different that what I was thankful for just one short year ago. It makes me sad to realize how screwed up my priorities were and I'm sad that I didn't know what was to come and that I missed out on some really important things.
Last year at this time I was being busy going to tax school and dreading the holiday season. I am not a "holiday" person. I just wanted a day off and time to wind down. To be honest, I can't even remeber spending time with my family or my husband's family, even though I know we went to both places for dinner. What I DO remember is how irritated I was with all the running around and all the chaos.
This year, just 9 1/2 months after my husband died, I am truly thankful for my friends and family, and for all they have done to support me this year. I'm thankful that I have things to be thankful for because 9 1/2 months ago I couldn't begin to wrap my head around what was going on. I'm thankful that the experience has changed me.
So, as a personal "shout out" to my friends and family, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for all you have done. Maybe you stayed up late to talk on the phone with me, or delivered firewood or stopped and cleaned my house, or invited me to dinner, or just held my hand and let me cry, or helped me sort through stuff. Maybe you offered advice, or maybe you stood back and let me figure it out on my own. Please know that I am truly thankful for all of it, and I appreciate every single kind gesture.

What are you most thankful for?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Remembering Gram

My dad did something today that he has never done before and it scared me and made me upset. At 7:30 this morning he called me and was crying. The man who has held me and loved me through every terrible thing in my life was crying. He informed me that his mother, my Grammy, had died about 30 minutes before.
She had been in a nursing home for a while because she had severe dementia, but it wasn’t Alzheimers. She couldn’t remember who any of her own children were and she didn’t understand where she was. She lives 3 h?rs away so I didn’t get to see her much. The last time I saw her was in April, right after her 92 birthday. She didn’t recognize me but when I was leaving, I sat on her bed and hugged her and she didn’t want to let go of me. It felt good and in my own mind, I believe that she had a brief flash of light in her confused mind and knew that I was her grandchild.
My Grammy was a knitter and she used to make the most beautiful baby clothes. She even knitted clothes for my dolls. When her house had to be sold, I asked for her knitting needles. They are in a box in my craft room. There is even a swatch left on one of the needles where she was trying to gauge the knit, or whatever you call it. I can’t knit but every time I see them or hold them in my hand I think of her with fondness.
I will miss my Gram terribly but I know that she was tired and ready to go. Go hug your grandma today, and while you’re at it, tell your Dad he’s great.
What memory do you have of your Gram ?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy Random Friday

It's Friday and boy am I glad. It seems like this week has lasted a lifetime. I'm full of random stuff today.
Do you have any fun and exciting plans for the weekend? Sweetie's children are coming to my house this weekend. I love them so much! Son has a basketball game on Sunday so that will be fun for us. I'm going on a super secret squirrel Christmas mission this weekend and I'm hoping I can pull it off.
Went to the grocery store yesterday. What chaos! I swear there was nearly a fight over the frozen turkeys. Husbands and wives were forming tag team pairs to dive into the freezer cases. I think I even saw one woman with a map and a battle plan. It was like they were saying MUST. HAVE. TURKEY. Don't even get me started about the cranberry sauce aisle. I was frightened.
Dr. appointment for my finger yesterday. Have to wear this awesome splint for another week. I got to keep my X-rays. I think I might frame them and hang them in my living room. They would make awesome Halloween decorations.
I went Chrsitmas shopping after my Dr. appointment. I saw a woman who although she was quite pretty and dressed very stylishly, she had the sourest look on her face. All that pretty was lost on her because of the scowl she wore. It looked like she swallowed a bug. Her eyebrows were all scrunched up and she was frowning. I felt bad for her. I wanted to tell her "If it's that bad just go home and put your PJs on" but I didn't.
My addiction needs fed. MUST. HAVE. COFFEE.
Happy Friday Y'all!
What are your random thoughts today?

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I always say that I'm not named Grace for a reason. I tend to be quite accident prone, hence the broken finger. I trip over things all the time. I'm really good at burns and cuts, too. Then there was the time I fell on the steps while cooking Easter dinner for my whole family, and burned my arm later the same day, but that is another story. Today, that isn't the kind of grace I'm talking about.
The Merriam Webster lists this as the definition of grace: a: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification b: a virtue coming from God c: a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace2 a d: disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency.
I try not to discuss my own personal views on religion and I don't want anyone to be offended by today's post.
My sister L. is a person who prays and many times I have asked her to pray for me. What I find intersting is that she always asks God to give me the grace that I need to deal with whatever problem it is at the time. And somehow, it always works.
The first thing this morning I found myself asking God for grace. Before I had even finished my coffee my patience was tried and tested to it's limit. I was irritated, I was mad and I felt used. I bitched and complained about it for a minute (OK, more like 15) and then I realized it wasn't doing a darn bit of good. So, I asked God for grace. Ask me later how it's going.
The words to this hymn are posted on my wall and I keep reading them:
Let me be a little kinder, let me be a little blinder
To the faults of those around me. Let me praise a little more.
Let me be when I am weary, just a little more cheery.
Think a little more of others, and a little less of me.
Let me be alittle braver, when temptation bids me waver
Let me strive alittle harder to be all that I should be.
Let me be a little meeker with a brother who is weaker
Let me thik more of my neighbor and a little less of me.
Maybe between the praying and the reading I'll be able to let it go and be a graceful person. Either that or I won't have any accidents today.
How do you handle trying situations?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Baby, it's COLD outside!

BRRR shitzky! It is frigid outside! When I got up this morning the local news said it was 17 deg. That is just 2 deg. away from the all time low record set in 1951. It isn't even December yet and it's cccccooolllllddddd! I hate it! Bring back the lovely balmy sping like weather. Bring back the sunshine. Bring back the green grass and leafy trees. Please? Anyone? Please?
When it gets this cold outside all I want to do is curl up with a snuggly blanket and one of my dogs and hibernate. Since that really isn't an option, my second choice is to have some kind of fat laden-stick to your ribs-fill your belly- warm your soul kind of soup. The kind that you'd be farther ahead to rub on your behind than to eat because that's where its going to end up anyway. Although this isn't really a "recipe" so to speak, but more of a suggestion of ingredients, this is one of my favorite winter time soups.

What is your favorite soup?

Broccoli Ham and Cheese Soup
You will need:
2 boxes of chopped frozen broccoli. Nuke 'em in the microwave for about 3 minutes to thaw them out.
Some diced ham chunks, how ever much you think your soup needs
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 can of chicken broth
Velveeta- the amount is up to you- I use the 2% kind because I think it will make me skinny (ha!)
Some butter (about a tablespoon)
Some milk (a few cups worth) Again I use 1% for the same reason listed with the Velveeta
Maybe some corn starch

Start by melting your butter in a big old pot. Throw in the ham and and cook it until it just starts to brown a little. Add the broccoli and the chicken broth and cook on a medium -ish heat until the broccoli is almost done. Add the milk. I start with about 2 cups and add more if I think I need it. Next, add in the velveeta. I use about 3 to 4 inches off the end of the big loaf. Like I said, the amount is up to you. Cook until the cheese is all melted then add in the cream of chicken soup. If you want it thicker, and I always do, make a slurry with a couple of teaspoons of cornstarch and some cold water and stir it in the soup and cook it until it thickens up. Season with salt and pepper or what ever spices you enjoy.

This is awesome with some biscuits or home made rolls and like all soup, its better the next day. It's also very versatile. If broccoli isn't your thing, leave it out and used diced potatoes and saute some chopped onions with the ham. If you're out of ham that day, use sliced kielbasa or smoked sausage. If you're a vegetarian, leave out the ham and substitute vegetable broth and cream of celery or cream of broccoli soup.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


If my typing is full of typographical errors today, I apologize in advance. You see, I broke the ring finger on my right hand Saturday night while stacking firewood. It's swelled up and is the lovliest shade of "brusie" that I've ever seen. I went to the local "doc in a box" place on Sunday morning. The doctor was very nice and he offered to write me off work. The nurse came in with a giant set of tin snips and a long piece of aluminum to make a splint. So, I left the place with a ginormous splint, a set of instructions telling me to eleveate my hand and an Rx for vicodin, or black out in a bottle as I like to call it.
Now I'm totally learning how much I use that finger. I also think I'm trying to set a world record for bumping it as many times in a day as humanly possible. If you think something sticks out like a sore thumb, try having it stick out like a broken ring finger.
I just hope it heals quickly and I get the splint off in time to make pies for Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Go Read a Book!

"Go Read a Book!" is what my mother used to tell me when I said there was nothing to do. That is what started my lifelong love of books and reading. I read EVERYTHING...from newspapers to cereal boxes to trashy romance books to non fiction historical books. I even read books I don't like because I have a wierd compulsion to finish a book to the very end. I read because I need something to distract me from the every day minutae of life. I read for entertainment. I read to gain knowledge. I read just to read.
When people ask what my favorite book is, I can't answer. I've read too many books to have a favorite. However, there are books that I will read over and over and over. Anything by Julie Garwood, The Bridges of Madison County, The Second Coming of Lucy Hatch, Bad Girl Creek and Dancing at the Harvest moon are just a few that fit into that category. Oh! The Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss is another one. I read it every 4 or 5 months.
When my husband died, I learned that you really learn who your friends are and who really knows you. My dear friend N. really knows me. I love her! She brought a goody bag to the calling hours and in it was Twizzlers and a book. (I'm allergic to chocolate so Twizzlers is one of my favorite candies) The book was called Sisters. Its about the experiences of a family of 4 sisters after their mother is killed and one sister is blinded in a car wreck. It was a perfect gift and I really appreciated the thought she put into it. Recently, my own sister C. told me she had just read the best book. Guess what it was? Yep, Sisters.
Right now I am reading The Carrot Cake Murder. It's a Hanna Swenson mystery by Joanne Fluke. I like her books because they are full of yummy recipes.
Do you read?
Do you have a favorite book?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I love it when a plan comes together!

I teach classes about wastewater. I know, sounds glamorous, doesn't it? Anyway, 4 people I work with take the class. They have studied and put in extra time and made flash cards and really gone the extra mile. I'm proud of them. Last night was the final exam. We had review sessions a week ago. They all got As! In fact everyone in the class got an A on the final. Woo Hoo!
Sometimes I wonder if what I'm trying to convey actually makes sense. (Sometimes I wonder if I'm really speaking Chinese and I'm the only person who understands me.) I guess this time it made sense.
Do you ever think that what you say doesn't make sense?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Day Off

I had yesterday off work for Veteran's Day. To prolong my weekend I took Monday off, too, giving me a 4 day weekend. It was GREAT! My sweetie let me sleep in on Monday, which is something I never get to do. I got my hair cut and colored. (Yes, I have to hide the grey) Then on Tuesday I got to sleep in AGAIN <>and I went shopping. I picked up a few things for Christmas and even wrapped a few presents. I so enjoyed not being at work!
What do you do when you get a day off to yourself?

ps- christmas is 42 days away

Friday, November 7, 2008

Make a Child Smile

If you read my profile you know that I'm into reading blogs and rubber stamping. Today's post marries the two. (And since I drink coffeee while I'm reading blogs, I guess that makes it a three way of my addictions!)
In spite of the fact that I have no biological children, I strongly believe that you should do everything that you can do to make children feel like they are important, special and loved. So, when I read about Make a Child Smile on a card making blog, my heart sang. is a website dedicated to children who are hospitalized with terminal illnesses. It invites people to mail cards to these kids to brighten their day. I love to get mail that isn't a bill so I can only imagine how they light up at receiving a card or a note of encouragement.
I'm asking you to please check out this website and pickup an extra card when you're out shopping, or go the extra step (if you're crafty) and make a card and drop it in the mail. Get your kids involved, invite your Sunday School class or girl scout troop to help. I can promise you, your effort will be appreciated.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The things we do for the people we love

I have been dating someone I've known since I was 9 years old. His name is Shawn. Shawn is incredibly understanding about my situation and is very sensitive to the fact that I carry a lot of baggage associated with becoming a widow. He's awesome and I appreciate what he does, even though I don't know why he does it. So, when he asks me to cook or bake something for him I usually say yes, even if it's something I've never made before. Such was the case yesterday.
We were having a conversation about pumpkin pie and I said I like pumpkin cheesecake in a gingersnap crust. He asked me to make one and I told him that I've never made a baked cheesecake and didn't know how, to which he replied "Google it!" So I did.
This is the recipe I found at I baked it last night and it was awesome! He was impressed. I tweaked it slightly and put the changes at the end. If you have never made a baked cheesecake give this one a whirl. It's fairly simple.

Philadelphia 3 Step Pumpkin cheesecake
2-8 oz. pkg. PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Dash ground cloves
Dash ground nutmeg
2 eggs
1 HONEY MAID Graham Pie Crust (6 oz.) ( I made my own- see note)
1 cup thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping
PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Beat cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar, vanilla and spices in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs; beat just until blended.
POUR into crust.
BAKE 40 min. or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Top with whipped topping just before serving

I made my own graham cracker crust using cinnamon graham crackers, butter, sugar and ground (dried) ginger to make it taste more like a ginger snap. I put it in the bottom only of a springform pan.

I left out the nutmeg just because I didn't have any.

I used slightly more pumpkin because I didn't get out a measuring cup. It was probably closer to 1 cup but it didn't hurt the final product.

I sprinkled cinnamon on top of the cheeseckae before baking it becuase it jsut looked pretty.

I placed a pan of water on the bottom shelf of the oven to help keep the top of the cheesecake from cracking. It worked well.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


A few years ago I began taking thyroid medications and I wasn't supposed to eat anything for 2 hrs after I took it. Since I was supposed to take it first thing in the morning, that meant breakfast had to wait. I got into the habit of bringing something with me to work and eating it at my desk. It used to be instant grits or packets of instant oatmeal bt I have moved on from that. My new favorite thing portable thing for breakfast right now is Bagelfuls. Now, I'm not getting paid to advertise or anything. I'm just a fan. They are like a cream cheese filled bagel stick that you heat up in the microwave. I like cinnamon but the strawberry ones are pretty good too. They also make a plain version but who wants that when cinnamon and strawberry are waiting for you?
So, what is your favorite breakfast thing?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


November 4, 2008. Election Day. Ohio is an early voting state so I voted last week. My polling place was moved to a complete other town and I couldn't make it there today so I went to the board of election office and voted there.
Regardless of wether you are a republican or a democrat, this is a historic election. Get out and vote. Be a part of it. Besides, you get a cool "I voted" sticker that you can rock the rest of the day.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The First Step is Admitting That You Have a Problem.

I admit. I'm shamelessly addicted to reading blogs. It's like reality tv for the internet. So, I decided to start my own blog. I don't know if I really have anything brilliant or life changing to say to the cyber world, but I'm giving it a shot.