Daily Tidbits

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup G Hughes Smokehouse Sugar Free Hickory BBQ Sauce
  • 1 1/2 T Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 T vinegar
  • 2 T liquid smoke
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 T smoked paprika
  • 1 T cumin
  • 2 cups water
  • 5 slices bacon, cooked and diced
  • 1 - 1 1/2 T minced garlic
  • Pinch Roasted Red Pepper flakes to taste
Cooking Directions
  1. In a skillet, cook the bacon and onion until done.
  2. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a soup pot, brown the ground beef.
  4. Drain.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients, including the bacon and onion mixture and simmer for several hours.
  6. You can also cook it all together and then dump it in the crock pot so it simmers until you're ready to eat.
Serves 6.

Holly's Note:
The Doctor loves chili and as I was wanting to make it, but not sure how it would work with Keto, I read through the recipe and realized that it would take very little to make it Keto appropriate. 

First thing was to eliminate the brown sugar. I planned to replace it with Stevia, but the sugar wasn't missed at all. I also replaced the tomato sauce and ketchup with our favorite G Hughes Smokehouse Sugar Free Hickory BBQ Sauce. It's amazing. Here in Idaho, I can only get it at Albertsons, but it is also available at Amazon.

Other than those changes/additions, the recipe is unchanged from my original. Obviously I don't serve this over Rice Pilaf like I used to. The only time I do that is if we are having other people over for dinner. The Doctor usually has this with a salad.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Egg Scramble...Keto

One of the easiest meals we do for Keto is an Egg Scramble. Seriously, it takes 5 minutes.

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 t skim milk
  • 1/4 cup shredded colby jack cheese
  • 2 T real bacon pieces
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked
Cooking Directions
  1. Whisk together the eggs and milk.
  2. Pour into a hot skillet.
  3. Add cheese and bacon pieces.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and scramble until done.
  5. Serve with bacon or sausage or any kind of breakfast meat.
Serves 1

Holly's Note:
I cook the bacon in my George Foreman Grill at the same time I'm scrambling the eggs. 

Obviously this serving size is just for The Doctor and fits his daily macros. Adjust it however you want to fit yours. If you use sausage links instead of bacon, the nutrition info changes.

For me? I just add an extra egg and slice of bacon to his and take my portion out before he eats his.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Ketogenic Diet

My husband has been following a Ketogenic diet since May. He has lost 95 lbs and is on track to lose 100 lbs by New Years. In an effort to help him, we have been experimenting with Keto recipes and ways of cooking and I will be sharing some of those recipes and ideas here on the cooking blog.

Keto is, in a nutshell, simply avoiding a high carbohydrate (sugar) intake and provides the body with energy from fats and protein. It encourages the body to burn stored fat to make up for not eating as many calories.

May 1 to Dec 5, 2016
Progress Pics
To find out our more or follow The Doctor's journey check out Shrinking Dr. B. There, he shares his journey with Keto and weight loss and you can find helpful videos, progress pictures and inspiration there.

More to come. Stay tuned...

Monday, March 21, 2016

Mint Oreo Cookie Bark

Printed Recipe

  • ~15 Oreos
  • 24 oz White Vanilla Chips
  • 1/2 to 1 t. Mint Extract (to taste)
  • 2-3 drops Green Food Coloring
Cooking Directions
  1. Crush the Oreos. I just put them in a ziploc bag and use my rolling pin. You want a blend of crumbs and cookie chunks.
  2. Melt the chips. I just put them in a pan on the stove and melt them on low, stirring constantly. Once melted, add the food coloring and extract along with the crushed cookies. Mix well.
  3. Spread onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Your call as to how thick or how thin you want the bark.
  4. Stick the pan in the fridge for about an hour or until hard. Break the bark into pieces and enjoy.
Holly's Note:
We have a favorite chocolate store that is in Boise. We don't get over there as often as my boys would like, but when we do, they love the Mint Oreo Cookie Bark. The Boy got the bright idea to make our own. I looked around the Internets and found several recipes that were all similar. Most recipes called for 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of extract, I used 1 full teaspoon.

These were a hit. The boys said they were perfect and just like the ones at their favorite chocolate store. 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Weekend Reflections 3/12

Looking outside....the sun is shining, but there is a chance of rain this afternoon. However, we should hit high 50s, which will feel so warm!

Listening...to a music mix with headphones while I work on computer. That seems to be the MO these days. Current song is Kiss Beth. Next up is Jason Collett Rave on Sad Songs. (Discovered from watching the film Before We Go. Not something I would normally go for, but I really liked it.)

Loving...that Spring is on its way. There were fat Robins in our yard yesterday. I love every season except Summer. I don't do well with the heat.

Thinking...that we need to do some spring trimming in the yard.

In my kitchen...I am enjoying my morning cup of hot chocolate. We grilled steak last night for dinner, so I need to figure out something for tonight. These people I live with? They expect to be fed every day. Seriously! 

Wearing...red penguin pajama pants and a black t-shirt with gray fuzzy socks.

Needing...to work do the transcription tape from yesterday and put in a couple of ours for editing.

Reading...The Secret of Pembrooke Park. I finished The Mistress of Tall Acre and loved it. Review goes up Monday on the book blog.

Today...The Doctor is at work. The Boy is contemplating whether he can golf later because golf season has started for the High School Golf Team and he golfs every day, even when it's drizzling. The Brother is up in McCall for a scout camp out. I think they went tubing last night.

Hoping...“There is some good in this world, and it's worth fighting for.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

Planning...I don't know what I'm planning, actually. Some times it's nice to just go with the flow.

Gratitude...for so many things. The flowers that are starting to creep through the ground (my peonies are pushing their way up). Rain instead of snow. Amazing Young Men's leaders for my boys. 

From my world... 

I am giddy, absolutely giddy for this movie. It is probably going to break my heart in a thousand ways, but damn, I am absolutely excited to see it. I love Tony, but I am #TeamCap all the way.

What about you? What are you reflecting on this week? How has your week gone?

Monday, February 29, 2016

Andes Peppermint Crunch Cookies

Printable Recipe

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup grated, sweetened coconut
  • 1 1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1 package Andes Peppermint Chips
Cooking Directions
  1. Cream the butter and sugars until fluffy (about 3 minutes).
  2. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  3. Add baking soda, salt and flour. Mix completely.
  4. Stir in oats, coconut, nuts and baking chips.
  5. Drop by spoonful onto baking sheet. (2 T. size for large cookies, 1 T. size for small cookies.)
  6. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes for large cookies and 12-15 minutes for small cookies.
  7. Do not overbake. They're crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Holly's Note:
This is the recipe on the back of the Andes Peppermint Chip package. The Doctor loves these because most cookies that have mint in them, also have chocolate in them and since he can't eat chocolate, he's usually out of luck. I hate coconut and I love these cookies. The dough freezes well too. I can only find the Peppermint Chips around Christmas time, so I have to stock up then!

This post was shared at Flashback FridayHappy Holidays Link Party, Tasty Tuesdays, The Gathering Spot, You're Gonna Love It

Monday, February 22, 2016

Best Ever Lasagna

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 T basil
  • 1 can (14 oz) stewed tomatoes
  • 2 cans tomato past
  • 1 box lasagna noodles, cooked (~9)
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 2 cups 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 T dried parsley
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Cooking Directions
  1. Brown beef and sausage together. Drain.
  2. Add garlic and basil. Stir.
  3. Add tomatoes and tomato paste.
  4. Mix together and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  5. In a bowl, blend together cottage cheese, eggs, parsley, and parmesan cheese.
  6. Layer everything in a 9 x 13 pan. (Noodles, sauce, cottage cheese mixture, mozzarella, etc.)
  7. Bake at 350° for about 30-40 minutes or until bubbly.
Holly’s Note:
My sister got this recipe from Jr. High School Home Ec. Back in the day when we had Home Economic classes. I make the sauce alone, tripling the recipe, and then freeze it flat in bags and use it as Spaghetti Sauce. My family prefers it over any canned or jar sauce. When I prepare the lasagna, I prepare a 9x9 pan for our family and then freeze a 9x9 pan for later.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Beets BLU Bluetooth Scale... Review

About the product:
Wireless Scale measures people's muscle mass, body weight with body fat percentage, water (hydration level). Scale supports kg and lb weight mode.

Connects to mobile via Bluetooth Smart (4.0), uploads all information to free native mobile application for Android and iOS, with saving history. Recommended weight limit is 150 kg/330 lbs.

Helps you to analyze the data and choose the most apt way to track your weight loss. Our scale is high precision.

iOS: Uploads all measurements to the Apple Health app (configurable).

Our biometric scale is suitable for men, women and children. It's a great device for slim, normal and overweight people.

If you're looking for something fancy and high tech, this is good. You download an app and when you step on the scale, your weight, BMI, fat percentage, hydration, etc. are all recorded. The app is not available for my Blackberry, but it was for Android and I downloaded it onto my Samsung tablet, my husband has it on his Galaxy phone. When you step on the scale, a voice will state your facts as they are recorded on the app. The voice is loud, even if you turn down your volume, so don't use it someplace you don't want to be overheard! You can turn off the vocal feature. I do like that the app shows progress in graph form, so it's very visual.

You must use the app for everything and you must open that app first. The scale claims to be able to track more than one person and it does, but if both people and their phones/tablets are in the room and both phones/tablets are turned on, the scale gets confused.

It's sleek and attractive and fairly lightweight. You can sync it to online health trackers such as Apple or Google.

I received the product free for review from Beets Blu. I wasn't even aware that such a scale existed. I don't know that I would have sought it out and purchased it on my own at this price.

Currently on Amazon, the price for this scale is $84.95. If you want a scale that simply measures your weight, this is an expensive way to do it. If you like high-tech fitness gadgets and track your progress, this will be something that you may find useful.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Chocolate is a Serious Thing

I'm a proud Trekkie. This is probably one of my favorite ST:TNG scenes. I love Deanna and she knows chocolate. Even if you don't know Star Trek, this scene is perfect. Any chocolate lover will understand.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Gingersnap Cookies

Printable Recipe
~4 to 5 dozen cookies

  • 2 1/4 cup shortening
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 t vanilla
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 6 cups flour
  • 6 t baking soda
  • 3 t cinnamon
  • 2 T ginger, ground
  • 1 1/2 t salt
Cooking Directions
  1. Cream together shortening and sugar.
  2. Add eggs, vanilla, molasses and mix well.
  3. Add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Roll into balls and roll in additional sugar.
  5. Bake at 350 for about 9-10 minutes.
This makes about 6 dozen cookies.

To make a smaller batch of about 2 dozen:

  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 T ginger, ground
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t cinnamon
Cooking Directions
  1. Cream together shortening and sugar.
  2. Add eggs, vanilla, molasses and mix well.
  3. Add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Roll into balls and roll in additional sugar.
  5. Bake at 350 for about 9-10 minutes.
Holly's Note:
These are delicious and is one of my family's favorite cookies, especially because they are not chocolate, so The Doctor can eat them. The dough freezes well.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Weekend Reflections 1/30

Looking outside....it's overcast with a slight chance of snow although it rained most of yesterday.

Listening...to silence. The Doctor is at work. The boys are still asleep.

Loving...meds that help eliminate headaches and prevent them from going migraine.

Thinking...that I finished my binge watching. Agent Carter is all caught up and I've loved the new season so far. I adore shows that feature strong women. Daredevil was amazing and I think I'm going to watch it again before the new season starts in March.

In my kitchen...I am enjoying my morning cup of hot chocolate. Still thinking about what to do for dinner. Last night it was Shepherd's Pie.

Wearing...Red penguin pajama pants and a black turtleneck with black fuzzy socks. My standard winter wear. It keeps me warm.

Needing...to finish putting together my Sunday School lesson. I'm teaching the 13-14 year olds at church. And they still love chocolate and playing games: hangman and bingo are always incorporated into our lessons.

Reading...I finished A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meisser. Review goes up on Monday. Loved it.

Today...finish scanning some photos. Found some old ones that brought some laughs and tears. 

Hoping...that The Brother is over his sickness from yesterday. He missed school and was pretty miserable.

Planning...to do some laundry. It's never ending.

Gratitude...for a warm home full of love and laughter.

From my world... 

I love it when my fandoms come together!!

What about you? What are you reflecting on this week? How has your week gone?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Пятница Ponderings: A Doctor Who Apron!

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

I have talked about my love of aprons before.

I am an apron girl. I put on an apron almost as soon as I am dressed. I wear it all day long and I often forget to take it off.  My boys often remind me to take off my apron before we get in the car to go someplace. I love a full-size apron with a pocket.

While I have collected aprons from different places, my mom has made many aprons for me. I have one for every holiday. Those are still in good shape because they are usually only worn during the holiday month.

I have a BSU apron and a daisy apron. The daisy apron is getting thin, because I wear it a lot. I have an apron of grapes that is one of my favorites, but it is getting worn and has been patched.

My mom loves me and knew some of my aprons were getting a bit worn out. She found this awesome Doctor Who fabric at the store and made an apron for me and one for my sister. I love it. It's brilliant and it's my new favorite.

I think aprons resonate with each of us. Even if you don't wear one, I think many of us remember a mom or a grandma who did. One of the most popular posts on this blog is, The Old Apron. For me? I remember my grandma wearing an apron. My mom did and had extras for my sisters and me to wear. It has carried over and I still wear aprons today. And now, I have a Doctor Who apron to add to my collection!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Stuffed Meat Shells

  • 1 box large pasta shells
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb bulk sausage
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup flavored dry bread crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3/4 t. oregano
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • 3 cups (28 oz jar) Pasta Sauce
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
Cooking Directions
  1. Cook pasta, drain.
  2. Cook sausage and beef together until no longer pink. Drain.
  3. Mix with eggs, bread crumbs, cheese, onion, and spices.
  4. Pour some sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.
  5. Fill each shell with the meat mixture.
  6. Put the filled shells in the pan.
  7. Cover with the rest of the pasta sauce.
  8. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake at 375 for about 35-40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Holly's Note:
These freeze well. (Thaw them and then add the sauce and bake as directed.) This is truly one of our absolutely favorite meals. I prepare it for guests and it's always a hit. Freezing these shells has saved me so many nights when I don't have dinner planned. I can just pull them out of the freezer, dump them in a pan, add sauce and bake.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Weekend Reflections 1/23

Looking outside....it's overcast with a chance of rain, but it's warmed up into the 40s. Almost balmy. Well except for the wind. The wind kind of takes away the balmy part...

Listening...to Sound of Silence by Disturbed. I literally cannot get enough of this song. 

Loving...that The Boy got accepted to his first and second choices for college. Weird to think I have a child old enough to do this. I'm not ready for him to leave home!

Thinking...that boys' rooms need cleaning.

In my kitchen...I have a new microwave and a new garbage disposal. I love having a husband and sons who are able to fix and repair and install.

Wearing...BSU pajama pants and a black turtleneck with black fuzzy socks. My standard winter wear.

Needing...to take down the outside Christmas lights. They're still up. They still turn on at night. HOA hasn't complained yet, but knowing how they are if the trash cans are left out 5 minutes after the truck has left, I'm sure they are writing a letter at this moment.

Reading...I'm still supposed to read A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meisser. I haven't really read anything of note this week.

Today...depends. There are things I should do and things I could do. Only time will show what actually happens.

Hoping...to finish my binge watching of Agent Carter because the new season premiered this week. I'm not even that much of a television person. I can't watch a season in two days. I can do maybe two episodes in a sitting. I did finish my binge watching of Daredevil. Wow. That is a brilliant show. Fantastic writing, acting, everything. Wow. Just wow!

Planning...to having some friends over for dinner. Always nice to get together.

Gratitude...for blog friends who are supportive and encouraging.

From my world... 

A darling little library The Doctor and I found in McCall last October. The next time I go back I want to take some of my books and donate them.

What about you? What are you reflecting on this week? How has your week gone?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Пятница Ponderings: What Have You Done?

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

I'm not sure where this originated, but I'd done it on my personal blog several years ago. It was fun to revisit.

The things I have done are highlighted in bold:

1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii (I was 3, does that still count?)
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/World (Both, although Disney World was so long ago that the Epcot Center wasn't even built yet...)
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo (It will never happen in this lifetime.)
11. Bungee jumped (No way in hell.)
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables (I managed some raspberries last year.)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (I went to the Orsay and saw Monet instead.)
20. Slept on an overnight train (From Venice to Paris.)
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (ok, so it wasn't a gondola, it was a vapparetto, but it was in Venice!)
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise (Does a dinner/dance cruise in the San Francisco Bay count?)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors (if Utah and Idaho counts)
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David (In all his glory, yes I have!! ;)
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt (It was snowing, we couldn't see it)
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant (No, but I've paid for the people behind me on toll bridges before)
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance (No, but my son was, as a newborn.)
47. Had my portrait painted (Do Caricatures count?)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia (I'd love to go!)
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching (tried, it got canceled because of the weather)
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (All three, thank you very much.)
65. Gone sky diving (No way. Not ever.)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check (A really long time ago.)
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades (Does the Okefenokee Swamp count?)
75. Been fired from a job (A really, really long time ago. It was the first real paying one I had.)
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London (Not yet.)
77. Broken a bone (Seeing how I fell down the stairs twice in one month, fortunately, no.)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (Just twice.)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car (We tend to stick with gently used.)
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (Only if fish is included in that.)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
(I had two!)
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

If you want to play along, go ahead!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Monkey Bread

Printable Recipe

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 T vegetable oil or melted butter
  • 1 t lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 T powdered milk
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 t yeast
Prep Directions
  1. In bread machine, place everything in the order recommended by manufacturer.
  2. Select dough setting (check after 5 minutes, add water or flour if necessary).
  3. When cycle is completed, turn dough onto floured surface.
  4. Pull it apart and form into 1” size balls.
Dip each ball into:
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
And then roll in the following mixture:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 t cinnamon
Cooking Directions
  1. Place in a greased casserole dish or bundt pan.
  2. Dump any remaining butter or sugar mixture over the top.
  3. Let it rise for 15 minutes or so.
  4. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes.
  5. Dump it onto a plate and enjoy.
Holly's Note:
This is the same recipe for
Good White Bread. I know that most Monkey Bread recipes call for refrigerator biscuits and they're good too. We prefer using homemade bread. I don't often have refrigerator biscuits on hand anyway!

You can also do these the night before. Just pop the pan in the fridge overnight for a slow, second rise. In the morning, pull it out, let it sit at room temp for about 1/2 an hour and bake.

This post has been shared at Weekend Potluck, Beautifully Creative,Pin Me Linky,No Rules,What to Do Weekends,Pinworthy Projectsimple & Sweet Friday, Inspire Me Monday, Mostly Homemade Monday, Art of Homemaking, Modest Monday, Monday's Musings, What'd You do This Weekend?, Creative Mondays, Tasty Tuesdays,You're Gonna Love It!. The Gathering Spot, Tasty Tuesdays, Wholehearted Home, Wicked Awesome Wednesday,Wednesday Showcase,  

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Weekend Reflections 1/16

Looking outside....it's cold and snowing. Has been for the past three days.

Listening...to silence. Slow Saturday mornings are the best. The Doctor isn't working this morning. It's nice.

Loving...good people. Family and friends who are loving and supportive whether it's just every day or in a time of need.

Thinking...that I'm still stunned about the death of Alan Rickman. Every death is sad, but it's not often that I shed tears over celebrities. But Alan Rickman? That one hurt my heart. Not only was he an incredibly talented actor, he was a good man. And his work touched generations. I will remember him for many fantastic roles, but mostly for being Colonel Brandon.

In my kitchen...a cup of hot chocolate that I heated on the stove top because our microwave has been dead for a week. It's made me think a lot about what I really can and can't live without in my kitchen. I wrote about it on Friday:  Пятница Ponderings  #firstworldproblems

Wearing...Red penguin pajama pants and a black turtleneck with rainbow fuzzy socks. (Don't knock the look, my feet are warm.)

Needing...to take down the outside Christmas lights. They're still up. But with the snow, they may stay up. I guess I could turn off the timer. But, The Boy says that they, "should stay up all year because Christmas lights make the world prettier and the world needs to be prettier". Who am I to argue with that logic? At least until the snow is gone for a day.

Reading...I was supposed to read A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meisser for Thursday's Book Club, but I didn't get it read and I didn't get to Book Club because this week has been emotionally draining.

Today...we have a work dinner. Hmmm. 

Hoping...that the microwave gets replaced. That's the plan anyway.

Planning...to watch The Martian this evening as a family. I saw it last week with my sister (it was at the dollar theater) and I loved it. I picked up the DVD on Tuesday and everyone wants to see it. The Doctor read the book this week and loved it.

Gratitude...for medical care and a pediatric cardiologist who has taken a personal interest in my son and his health situation. We are facing some unknowns and this man is absolutely amazing. 

From my world... 

My sister has a thing for Captain America and his alter ego Chris Evans. (Really, who doesn't?) I saw this poster while walking in Dillards with my Mom and sent it to her as a text with the words, "Found your boy at Dillards". We got a good laugh out of it when she replied, "I'd let him make me feel guilty".

What about you? What are you reflecting on this week? How has your week gone?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Пятница Ponderings: I can't live without my...

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

My microwave died last week. It's above our stove and it seems to work, but it doesn't heat anything any more. It's not the end of the world, I certainly know how to cook on a stove top. Sure, it's a little more inconvenient to heat my hot chocolate in a sauce pan, or heat leftovers in a sauce pan on the stove.  What I didn't realize, was how often I use my microwave while I cook until it wasn't available.

I made Chicken Broccoli Casserole for The Artist's birthday because it's one of his favorites. But, I couldn't cook the chicken in the microwave, I had to boil it on the stove. I had to melt the butter for the bread crumb topping on the stove.

We'd had Chili and Rice for dinner earlier in the week and I couldn't reheat it in the microwave, I had to heat it over the stove. The Doctor just ate his rice cold.

We have so many convenient gadgets and tools at our disposal in the kitchen that it got me thinking: what couldn't I live without?  And my answer? Pretty much a functioning stove/oven, a fridge/freezer and basic cooking utensils. Oh, I could use a spoon or fork if I didn't have a whisk, but it would be hard to cook without a couple of pots and pans and a baking dish or two. I wouldn't even need a peeler if I had a knife. A rubber spatula is a need, but I could simply use a spoon if it was all I had.

What can't you live without in your kitchen?

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

TBT: Random Cherished Memories

Before I went to my first youth dance as a teenager, my dad taught me how to dance in our living room. It would have been around 1979/1980 and I was about 13/14.

What kind of dancing would he have taught me, you ask? Well, the Jitterbug of course!

Now, I'm sure that there weren't many teenage boys at that dance who knew how to jitterbug. But, those lessons gave me the basic techniques for couples dancing and some years down the road when I discovered country swing dancing, it came naturally to me. But more than that, those lessons served to remind me of my dad's love.

This tender memory popped into my mind the other day and caused a teary smile as I thought back to that sweet experience and Daddy's excitement and enthusiasm to teach me something he enjoyed.

With my Dad on my wedding day.

My dad has been gone for 13 years. I miss him every day. I cherish my memories of him. I would love one more dance.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Double Chocolate Snack Cake

Printable Recipe

  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 vegetable oil
  • 1 t white vinegar
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. With a fork, mix flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in an ungreased 8-inch square baking pan.
  3. Make a well in the center and add water, vegetable oil, vinegar, and vanilla.
  4. Stir until mixture is thoroughly combined.
  5. Sprinkle chocolate chips over top of batter.
  6. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes.
  7. Cool completely.
  8. Dust with additional powdered sugar.
Holly's Note:
I found the original recipe at One Ordinary Day a couple of years ago and just let it sit in my draft folder. I wanted to try something new last week and this sounded like a great after school snack. It came together easily although I used my mixer and baked it in a greased 8 inch pan. And my boys loved it. I think it would be better with some frosting, rather than powdered sugar, but the boys really liked it. 

I was surprised to realize it didn't call for any eggs and only brown sugar.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Weekend Reflections 1/9

Looking outside....it's cold. It's been freezing, literally, all week. Currently about 20 degrees.

Listening...to silence. Slow Saturday mornings are the best.

Loving...the new soft, cuddly blanket that my Mom gave me for Christmas.

Thinking...that I'm tired.

In my kitchen...a cup of hot chocolate that I heated on the stove top because our microwave died. We have one to install, it just hasn't been done yet. #firstworldproblems

Wearing...BSU pajama pants and a gray turtleneck with black slippers.

Needing...to take down the outside Christmas lights. Inside Christmas is all put away.

Reading...I just finished The Martian. Review will be posted next week. Loved it!

Today...it is The Brother's birthday weekend. Family dinner at Nonna's tomorrow with more presents, cake and fun.

Hoping...that the sun will be out today. Winter sunshine is the best!

Planning...to see The Martian this evening with my sister.

Gratitude...for the fantastic family doctor and amazing pediatric cardiologist who care for my son.

From my world... 

I love seeing the tree branches outlined in frost. It's just gorgeous and so surreal on a quiet, cold morning.

What about you? What are you reflecting on this week? How has your week gone?

Friday, January 8, 2016

Пятница Ponderings: 5 Things

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

The Doctor posed this question to me (I believe he saw it on Reddit) and I found it compelling enough that I posted it on my personal Facebook page. The answers I received were an interesting insight into my friends and family and I thought I would post it here.

If someone was going to put 5 things in a magic circle to summon you, what would they be?

Mine would be: a book, a cup of hot chocolate, my tablet/phone, fuzzy slippers and blanket.

What would yours be?

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Monday, January 4, 2016

Lemon Bars

Printable Recipe

Photo used by permission of Melinda Hill

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • Dash salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 6 T lemon juice
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine butter, salt, powdered sugar and 2 cups flour.
  2. Mix well.
  3. Press into a greased 9 x 13 pan.
  4. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. It won't look quite done.
  5. Set aside.
  6. Combine flour and sugar.
  7. Mix in eggs and add lemon juice.
  8. Pour on top of crust.
  9. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until set.
  10. Cool and sprinkle with additional powdered sugar.
Holly's Note:
These are delicious and make a lovely presentation for a special occasion. I recently made several batches for a bridal shower.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 Round-up

So I got back into blogging on a more regular basis in 2014 and dropped off again in 2015. Well isn't that wizard?! I've had some vision issues that prevented me from reading as much and because of that, my blogging dropped off big time.

Still, I managed a few posts and new recipes. However, I find it interesting that some recipes just stay at the top of the favorites list from year to year when I look at my stats.

This years round-up in no particular order:

Chicken with Wild Rice Soup
Always a winner.

Taco Seasoning Mix
Still the best and the only one I use.

French Silk Pie
Haven't found one better. To. Die. For.

Cinnabon Clone Cinnamon Rolls
The best ever. And the worst part? I make cinnamon rolls like these and my kids ask for creepy cracky CANNED cinnamon rolls. It's shameful.

The Old Apron
I wish I could take credit for this. It's fantastic and resonates with so many of us.

Baked Beans
A family staple. A must have side for barbecue.

Apricot-Pineapple Jam
Ever so good.

Sour Cream Pound Cake
Best. Poundcake. Ever

Pasta Sauce
Simply our favorite pasta sauce, ever.

Raspberry Pretzel Jello Salad
Best recipe. Worst picture.

Lemon Pudding Dessert
Light and yummy.

Hot Fudge Sauce
I could drink this like it's hot chocolate.

Apple Streusel Cheesecake Bars
So rich. So sinful. So yummy.

Bruschetta Chicken

Beef Enchiladas
Still one of the best dishes I prepare.

Thank you for your support and comments and for visiting me this year! I wish you all the happiest of New Years and I am excited for what 2016 holds!

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