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Friday, November 28, 2014

Пятница Ponderings: Gratitude

Ponder: to consider something deeply and thoroughly; meditate 
Пятница (PYAHT-nee-tsuh): Friday in Russian

As we finish our Thanksgiving week I, like many people, have been thinking about Gratitude. In fact, in my personal Instagram, I have done a Gratitude photo each day. It's been wonderful to reflect each day on something I am grateful for.

It is very easy sometimes to focus on the problems in life or the things we don't have. The every day tasks and responsibilities can get overwhelming. Going over the finances and paying bills is depressing. Frustrations and irritations are a part of life.

But, there is always something to be grateful for.

I'm not going to tell you to be a Pollyanna, because heaven knows I'm not. While I'd like to be a glass half-full person, it requires effort for me to do so. Some days, it's all I can do to get out of bed and get dressed, let alone be cheerful and happy about it. 

This month, as I have tried to find something each day to be grateful for, there have been the obvious things. Other days I've had to struggle to find something. But each day, I've found something I could take a picture of and post to Instagram with a reason to be grateful.

It's been a great lesson to me that even in the darkest times, there are lights and there is hope. And that light and hope come from expressing our gratitude and acknowledging our blessings.

Some of the things I am grateful for this month...a fireplace, a family who will play Scrabble with me, a washer and dryer, technology, two wonderful boys and an amazing husband...and the list goes on.

What are some of the things you're grateful for this year?


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!


1: the act of giving thanks 
2: a prayer expressing gratitude 
3: a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness 

 "To express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven." --Thomas S. Monson

Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Chocolate is a Salad

You're welcome


Monday, November 24, 2014

Chocolate Crinkles

Printable Recipe

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 T butter, softened
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix together sugar, butter, vanilla and chocolate.
  2. Stir in eggs, one at a time.
  3. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Mix well.
  5. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours. (I never let it go much more than an hour.)
  6. Roll dough into small balls.
  7. Roll those balls in powdered sugar.
  8. Place on a baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes at 350.
Holly's Notes:
I'm not sure where I found this original recipe. It might be Betty Crocker, but the recipe on their website is different, so I don't know. But, it's divine. The original recipe stated to bake 10 to 12 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched. I bake mine for 10 minutes. In my oven, that makes them chewy and gooey on the inside, but crisp on the outside. Just the way we like them. Almost like a truffle.

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Weekend Reflections 11/22

Looking outside....it's sunny, but not too cold. Currently it's  about 40 degrees, which seems downright balmy compared to the week we've had. The sun is shining. It rained last night, which has made everything slushy, but also has finally melted some of the hard-packed slippery ice still on the roads.

Listening...to the boys playing games.

Loving...that my boys have the next week off school for Thanksgiving break. 

Thinking...that the Doctor and I may just go for a drive this afternoon and spend some time together.

In my kitchen...a cup of hot chocolate and probably some kind of soup for dinner. It's just that kind of weather!

Wearing...red penguin pajamas and a red turtleneck with fuzzy black socks.

Needing...to write up a couple of book reviews.

Reading...At Bluebonnet Lake: A Novel (Texas Crossroads) by Amanda Cabot 

Today...some laundry and household chores.

Hoping...that the warmer weather continues long enough to melt all the snow and ice on the roads. 

Planning...for Thanksgiving. We're having a big family dinner at my mom's. I think I'm making Dutch Apple Pie and Broccoli Salad, and I will probably do the Stuffing as well.

Gratitude...for a warm home, food on my table and a wonderful family. I am blessed.

From my world...my cup of hot chocolate. This is bliss on a cold day!

What about you?  What are you reflecting on today?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

Printable Recipe

  • 2 jalapeno peppers, halved and seeded
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberry juice cocktail
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1 foil pouch, liquid fruit pectin
Cooking Directions
  1. In a medium saucepan combine jalapeno peppers, cranberry juice cocktail, and vinegar.
  2. Bring to boiling; reduce heat.
  3. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Strain mixture through a sieve, pressing with the back of a spoon to remove all of the liquid.
  5. Measure 2 cups liquid.
  6. Discard pulp.
  7. In a large pot, combine the 2 cups strained liquid and the sugar.
  8. Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly.
  9. Stir in the pectin.
  10. Return to a full rolling boil; boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  11. Remove from heat.
  12. Quickly skim off foam with a metal spoon.
  13. Immediately ladle jelly into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.
  14. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids.
  15. Process jars in a boiling-water canner for 5 minutes (start timing when water returns to boil). 
  16. Remove jars from canner, cool on wire racks. 
  17. Jelly may require 2 to 3 days to set. 
Makes about 5-6 half-pints.

Holly's Note:
I found the original recipe at Better Homes and Gardens. The first year I made it, I used habaneros instead of jalapenos. I left most of the seeds in and it was hot. Damn hot. But, my uncle loves spicy, so he enjoyed it. This year, we used jalapenos and it wasn't quite as hot. The cranberry juice gives it a lovely pink color. 

This year I had so many extra jalapenos that I added a whole pepper to each jar of jelly.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Weekend Reflections 11/15

Looking outside....it's sunny, but cold. Currently it's 10 degrees and there is 8 inches of snow outside. My fireplace is going. We had our first major snow storm this week. Friday was a snow day from school.

Listening...to the boys playing Minecraft together.

Loving...the sunshine this morning.

Thinking...my mind never seems to stop sometimes.

In my kitchen...a cup of hot chocolate and I have no idea what to fix for dinner tonight.

Wearing...red penguin pajamas and a black turtleneck with fuzzy black socks.

Needing...to get the boys over to my mom's house to shovel her driveway.

Reading... The Garden Plot (Potting Shed Mystery Book 1) by Marty Wingate.

Today...we need to dig ourselves out. Between Thursday and Friday, we got 8 inches of snow.

Hoping...for some time to read. 

Planning...for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Gratitude...for traditions, both serious and silly. On the first snowfall, we always barbecue. This year The Boy barbequed burgers, standing in 4 inches of snow, with it falling around him. It's fun and something we look forward to doing.

From my world...

What about you?  What are you reflecting on today?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

More Pinterest Finds

I like Pinterest.  I have way too much fun pinning stuff.  Not often enough, I try things I've pinned. Sometimes it's a recipe, sometimes it might be a hint or craft.

One of my favorites?  Using a parmesan cheese lid on a mason jar.  Life changing, I tell you.  The first one is a favorite homemade season all, the second is onion soup mix, third is homemade zesty Italian dressing mix (still perfecting that one) and the last one is my awesome homemade Taco Seasoning.

Writing on the freezer door.  Seriously brilliant, I tell you. It's kind of messy, but my kids leave me notes there as well and they're fun to discover.

From Holly:  This worked amazingly well.  Our power was out for about 6 hours due to a storm a couple of weeks ago.  A headlamp around a gallon of water made a very bright, very useful lamp.  This idea is definitely a keeper!

Using a headlamp on a jug of water. This worked amazingly well.  Our power was out and voila, enough light to read by.

Folding plastic bags.  Again.  Brilliant!  So easy to do and so much easier to store than some stuffed bag full of wrinkly plastic bags. I can tuck these somewhere in the car, in camping backpacks, whatever.  So convenient.


Rubberband on a paint can.  Duh!  This worked so well, I can't believe it's something I never thought of myself.

How to clean your stove's exhaust fan filter. From Holly:  Brilliant.  Absolutely brilliant.  Works like a charm.

Clean the greasy stove hood filter.   This was awesome.  It worked just like Jillee said.  I loved it, I loved watching it get clean and not having to scrub it.

What about you?  What have you discovered from Pinterest?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day

"However horrible the incidents of war may be, the soldier who is called upon to offer and to give his life for his country is the noblest development of mankind."

~Douglas MacArthur, 1880 - 1964

Monday, November 10, 2014

Peppered Brown Sugar Salmon

Printable Recipe

  • ~ 1 to 1/2 lbs salmon fillets, bones removed
  • 1 T butter, melted
  • 3 T brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 t onion powder
  • 1/2 t lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/4 t black pepper
Cooking Directions
  1. Pat the fillets dry and place on a foil lined baking sheet.
  2. Mix together the brown sugar, onion powder, lemon pepper and black pepper together.
  3. Drizzle the salmon with melted butter and sprinkle the spice mixture over it.
  4. Place in a cold oven, turn the heat to 400 and cook for 25 min.
Serve with fried potatoes or Rice Pilaf.

Serves about 2.

Holly's Note:

A friend had been fishing in Alaska and brought some fresh salmon to my mother, who very generously shared it with me. My family aren't big seafood lovers, so it was all mine. I don't remember where I originally saw the base recipe for this, but it was really good. Not too sweet and just the right amount of spice.

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Weekend Reflections 11/8

Looking outside....it's sunny, but cold. Currently it's 34 degrees. My fireplace is going.

Listening...to silence. The Doctor is working and the boys are asleep. They're up at 5:45 every school day, so I love letting them sleep on Saturdays. The Brother is doing Scouting for Food later this morning.

Loving...that because it's darker earlier in the evenings, everyone seems to come home sooner and we have been enjoying some great family time together.

Thinking...my mind never seems to stop sometimes.

In my kitchen...a cup of hot chocolate and Armadillo Pie for dinner.

Wearing...red penguin pajamas and a black turtleneck with fuzzy pink socks.

Needing...to write a review.

Reading... Just finished Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death by Mark Reutlinger. Review will be posted next week on the book blog.

Today...a fairly quiet day, which is nice. Not many chores to do. Laundry and work is fairly well caught up.

Hoping...for some time to read. 

Planning...I need to find some new recipes to try out.

Gratitude...I've been doing a daily gratitude picture on my personal Instagram this month. It's so nice to find something in each day to be grateful for.

From my world...I love my fireplace!

What about you?  What are you reflecting on today?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Пятница Ponderings: Tasks Completed

Ponder: to consider something deeply and thoroughly; meditate 
Пятница (PYAHT-nee-tsuh): Friday in Russian

Do you sometimes get overwhelmed by your To-Do list? I do.

Back in my working outside the home days, I would get so frustrated when all the tasks on my To-Do list never got accomplished. Really? How hard is it to complete a list of tasks?

Nearly impossible some days. A workday is filled with phone calls and decisions, interruptions, meetings, people in need of help and assistance, broken equipment, and it goes on.

That workday is the same, whether you're outside your home or inside it. Whatever your "job", be it an executive secretary, a teacher or a stay at home mom, your task list is never ending and interruptions and emergencies abound.

Because I wanted to see what I was getting done, rather than what I wasn't, I started writing down my tasks completed. If one of my summer students came into my office with a need or question, I wrote that fact on my To-Do list and then I crossed it off. When one of the people I supported as an executive secretary needed something, I wrote it on my To-Do list and I crossed it off.

It was amazing at how much more productive I felt when I could see all of those tasks crossed off. It didn't matter when those items were added to my list. What mattered, was that they were crossed off and I could see that I had, in fact, accomplished a great deal during my work day.

That same idea translated very well when I transitioned into my new role as stay at home mom after having been in the professional work force for over 15 years.

I still had a To-Do list. Of course, it had different things on it. I wasn't scheduling and attending meetings, writing reports and preparing presentations. I was running errands, wiping noses, reading stories, preparing meals and doing laundry. I still started the day with a list of tasks I wanted to accomplish and I found all sorts of interruptions and emergencies at home, just like I did at work.

So, I started doing the same thing. Writing down all the things I was doing and crossing them off. Again, it was amazing to see that validation of my busy day. I was productive because I was accomplishing a great deal.

My To-Do lists are different these days and more often than not they're on my tablet, not a piece of paper. But, I still write down all that I've accomplished and I cross it off. It's still nice to see the tangible proof of my days and the feeling of satisfaction is important to me.

What about you? Do you have a To-Do list? Is it important that you complete it?

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What it's Like to be Out of Shape at the Gym

It's not often that I find something that can echo my thoughts completely. This? This is perfect! Worth the watch and you'll get a good laugh!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Conversation at Our House

Mom: (frustrated with antics at the dinner table):
"Eat. Your. Dinner."

The Brother: (pointing his fork at his mother):
"Drop. Your. Sword."

Dissolve into laughter and continue with Princess Bride quotes until dinner is finally finished.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Weekend Reflections 11/1

Looking outside....it's cloudy and chilly. There's a chance of rain. The fireplace is going.

Listening...to silence. The Doctor is working and the boys are asleep. They're up at 5:45 every school day, so I love letting them sleep on Saturdays.

Loving...that I finally have a working dryer again.

Thinking...that I can't believe November is here already. But, its arrival signals the beginning of the holiday season and I love the holidays.

In my kitchen...a cup of hot chocolate and I think I'll try something new for dinner. Any suggestions

Wearing...red penguin pajamas and a black turtleneck with fuzzy black socks.

Needing...to tidy the garage, hang some blinds and do some chores around the house.

Reading...The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag. I didn't do much reading this last week so this isn't finished.

Today...chores around the house and some family time this afternoon.

Hoping...for some time to read. 

Planning...for the week and I'm doing some holiday planning as well.

Gratitude...for a husband who is able and willing to do repairs and fix things around the house.

From my world...the fire bushes in my Mom's backyard. I love the gorgeous fall colors.

What about you?  What are you reflecting on today?