Saturday, March 31

A Wonderful Smell

A house that smells of good things cooking is a happy home. It's just promotes good karma.

These berry-filled spice muffins not only fill your kitchen with the scent of cinnamon, they look and taste wonderful.

Blueberry Spice Muffins

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Combine egg and milk. Add egg mixture nd melted butter to dry ingredients; stir just until moistened. Fold in blueberries.
Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Combine the topping ingredients; sprinkle over batter. Bake at 400 for 16-20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Friday, March 30


Ben Franklin was on to something when he said, "Neither a borrower, nor a lender be."

I know I'm reaching the point in my life where middle age creeps into old age. My opinions are a bit more steadfast, but I am trying to remain objective and open-minded... but what happened to good old-fashioned common courtesy and accountability???

This lack is running rampant! I'm almost to the point where I will never loan anything again. Loan means I get it back. The borrower must return it--in the same condition--as when it was loaned. The main idea though, is that the item is returned.

Since I have moved back to Virginia, I have found that I must go pick up items that have been borrowed. Sometimes, there is even a question in the borrower's mind as to whether it was a gift or a loan! As I write this, I know what must be done.

I am developing a "do not loan to" list. No need in making the honest folks suffer.

Wednesday, March 28

PC Hell

The road to hell is paved with good intentions--at least that's what my other half says. I'm beginning to think he's got something there.

I am in PC Hell because--with good intentions--I decided to add RAM to our poor old, tired PC. We work it so hard that it's tongue has been hanging out for some time. Rather than accept the additional RAM though, it just said the hell with it and went belly up.

I have found a marvelous local fellow who builds to order. I have the new PC in place and have been in the process of reloading and re-installing EVERYTHING for the past 24 hours.

I am trying to keep the faith.

Sunday, March 25

The REAL Secret

Yesterday I had an absolutely marvelous day. It didn't start that way, but I was hell bent on having a good day so I rolled with the flow. I acted like all the worries and insecurities of the world just didn't exist AT ALL.

I thought I'd try this approach to life based on some surprising information shared by two members of my women's circle. These sixty-ish ladies plow through life with their own agenda, oblivious to daily upsets. They had no problem sharing their secret--I had to ask!

It appears you should have fun in life and do what makes you happy. And the key to a successful marriage is food and sex. Sounds so simple… why hadn't I thought of that?

I might occasionally get distracted by those three 20-something children we have whose lives I cannot make perfect. That individual up the road that is hell-bent on being the social coordinator and Queen of Unsolicited Advice might be crowding me a bit, too. Well, yesterday I let all that go.

I started planning dinner at about noon or so. I gave my other half the needed attention (he called it "spontaneous combustion") and went out to trim the hedges ignoring the fact that I have no hedgetrimers. Piss on it--I can do just fine with my clippers.

I cleared out the garden when my other half fired up the tiller and said he would run it, if I cleared the garden out. I played "gopher" and fetched the tools he asked for--enjoying the walk up the hill, back to the house--maybe 3 times. I dutifully sat on the hillside and watched my other half cut down a big ass dead tree. (I don't understand that one, but for some reason, a wife is needed to watch these things.)

I pulled off a apple bourbon pork roast and some Cajun roasted potatoes, despite the fact there were five or six young men in their 20s playing VERY LOUD MUSIC in the studio. I pulled it off so well, they didn't even realize we had had dinner! I have found that young men are like strays… if you feed them, they will never go home.

I did break that last rule when my stepson (soon to be 24!) mentioned he had not eaten anything all day and was looking a bit faint. I gave him the old analogy about gasoline and cars and how food is the fuel your body must have to keep going. I hope he listened and understood. Then I served up cheese and crackers and hot beef dip. After he and a friend inhaled ALL OF IT, along with a pitcher of lemonade, while standing over the island in the kitchen, they left. That's when I was struck with the reality of what those two wise women had told me….

Men really only need two things to be utterly, completely happy: food and sex.

Friday, March 23

Absolutely, Positively

The persistence of negativity is a constant in human life. Just when you think everything is fine--up it will pop again-- sprouting through some crack in the pavement of day to day living. Garden-variety lies and deceit are the most common and persistent, but should be rooted out just as diligently.

You must be resolved against negativity - whether in your social or professional life, or in your own soul. In either case, definite rules must be followed for the struggle to succeed.

The first rule: Do not attempt to compromise with evil. Negative actions must be identified openly for just what they are, and immediately discredited.

The second: You cannot resist negativity on its own terms. New, positive alternatives which lead away from the source of the problem are generally more successful and appropriate, than to counter negativity with raw power.

The third rule: The means used to counter negativity must be consistent with the end to be achieved. You can't stop the bad behavior with knee-jerk responses. Take a breath and think before you react.

I tend to think of negativity in terms of weeds in the garden... Weeds are inevitable. But with preparation and planning, you can keep them at bay, ensuring growth of the good things you had planned.

Wednesday, March 21

Happy Anniversary Momo & Pop

54 years today! How did you do it?
(Note to Momo or Pop: Click the "comment" area and (type) share your secret with the internet!)

Sweet N' Sour Ham Balls

I made these ham balls, week before last, when hunting for something different for my Friday night get-together. Wish I had had the good sense to photograph the finished product! I always try to find something quick and easy to make with existing ingredients. I managed to make good use of ham left from Christmas that I had cubed and frozen. I substituted Jimmy Dean Maple flavored breakfast sausage for the ground pork.

Pineapple, brown sugar and spicy brown mustard combine to create a tangy sauce for these savory ham and pork appetizers.

4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 medium onion, chopped
1-1/2 cup Pepperidge Farms bread crumbs
2 pounds ground ham
1 pound ground pork (or sausage)
2 cans (8 ounces each) crushed pineapple
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup French's Spicy Brown Mustard
2 tablespoons cider vinegar

In a bowl, combine the eggs, onions and bread crumbs. Crumble the meat over this mixture and mix well. Shape into 1/2 inch balls. Place in two greased 13X9X2 inch baking dishes.

In a blender or food processor, combine the pineapple, brown sugar, mustard and vinegar; cover and process until smooth. Pour over ham balls. (May freeze for up to 2 months! Or) Bake, uncovered at 350 for 45-50 minutes, basting occasionally with sauce.

To bake frozen ham balls: Completely thaw in frig. Bake as directed.

Yield: 2 batches of about 30 ham balls each.

Tuesday, March 20

So, Sew

I took on this project without even knowing! When you sew, and folks know you sew, you get all sorts of projects--without even asking or being asked.

Normally, this project wouldn't have been so tiring. My hands don't work like they did 20 years ago (computers!) and the fabric was a bit too slippery for my patience.

But it's done!

The upside, other than the obvious, is that I have an urge to do something else. Any hobby's greatest benefit is the mental stimulation that comes from being focused completely on the task at hand and letting all other thoughts go completely.

Here's some "little britches" I made for my great nephew, Albert
The material is leftover fabric and remnants from Christmas pajamas.

You Got What You Got

All my life, I have plotted my course and planned ahead. Some things worked out, while other ideas fell flat. My other half spent his life soaking in the moments.

I guess both plans would have worked out so much better had we spent more than the past five years together. Part of me is very frustrated that we didn't somehow make it work rather than split back in 1978. I imagine had we stayed together, all the hard work would be done by now--the planning, the fixing, the blending of families.

But as he pointed out a couple of years ago--to my great dismay--you got what you got.

We're still working out the fine points. I have two daughters from an 18 year marriage and he has a son from a 20 year divorce. There are sharp contrasts in our children, (aged 21, 22 & 23) which is to be expected given the differences in parenting styles and family experiences.

I'm reminded of something my mother repeated often during my youth. "Experience is hard teacher, but it sticks with you."

Saturday, March 17

Forever Young

Recent research has determined that dogs have the mentality of an average 2-year-old, according to a report released on the Today show yesterday. I can see that.

In fact, this information has given me an entire new appreciation of my dog, Blue.

His understanding of the English language is limited to a few words that create instantaneous physical reactions... and he does seem to think "it's all about him" and what he wants, when he wants it. Sounds like a small child to me!

Sad thing is, he'll never progress beyond that point. Do you thing that's one of the reasons people have dogs? I mean, our children grow up and move on--but the dog, he might grow bigger, but he never moves out. Perhaps this is our way on holding on to that childhood innocence and adoration we got hooked on when our kids were preschoolers.

I know, I know. I have a tendency to over-analyze.

Tuesday, March 13

Life is All About Choices

This is just too good NOT to share it.

The Blue Thong Society is the alter-ego of the Red Hat Society. Do yourself a favor and take a look.

I have toyed with the idea of a hat, but I think part of me still believes that wearing a hat has something to do with baldness and I'm not sure I want to deal with all that.

I don't do thongs--can't deal with it (unless its a shoe!) I do like the idea of "no visible panty lines" and have spent a large portion of my life fighting that dilemma.

I just LOVE choices!!

Feta Bruschetta

Here's my latest find for my Friday evening get-togethers. Quick, easy and very few ingredients.

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup olive oil
10 slices French bread ( 1 inch thick)
1 pkg (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon basil
1 large tomato, diced

In a bowl, combine butter and oil. Brush onto both sides of bread. Place on baking sheet and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Combine feta cheese, garlic and basil. Sprinkle over toast. Top with tomato. Bake 8-10 minutes or longer, until heated thoroughly. Serve warm.

Wednesday, March 7

How about some Shrooms?

My other half and I spend every Friday evenings with friends. We all bring appetizers so no one has to go to any real trouble and we can all just enjoy each other. This keeps it fun and trouble free.

This recipe I'm sharing is meant to be an appetizer, but everytime I make these, we end making a meal of them.

Marvelous alone or serve with other appetizers to wow friends at get-togethers... best of all, only 4 ingredients!

Stuffed Mushrooms

1 lb large mushrooms
1 lb hot Italian sausage
1 bunch green onions
1 8-0z pkg cream cheese

Pull stems from mushrooms; may reserve for another use. Cook sausage in skillet until done; drain and crumble. Return to pan. Add chopped green onions and cream cheese. Cook over low heat until cheese melts.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stuff mushroom caps with mixture. Place on cookie sheet or baking pan. Cook for 20 minutes.

Looks Can Be Deceiving

Trust your gut instincts and you'll never go wrong. If something just doesn't feel right, it generally isn't right.

Always pay attention to those red flags your mind throws at you.

Sunday, March 4

Apple Sour Cream Coffee Cake

I'm always on the lookout for quick recipes that look and taste like you have slaved away. Here's one that takes just 3 apples and makes two coffee cakes. Delicious!

Apple Coffee Cake

1/2 cup butter flavored Crisco
1-cup sugar
2 eggs
1-teaspoon vanilla
2-cups flour
1-cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1-3/4 to 2 cups chopped peeled apples

3/4 cup brown sugar
1-teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a mix bowl, cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add flour to the creamed mixture, alternately with sour cream. Stir in apples. Transfer to two greased 8-inch square baking dishes. For topping, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in nuts; sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

May be frozen up to six months: thaw in refrigerator overnight.

Makes 2 coffee cakes. 6-9 servings each.