Friday, February 28, 2014

Tonight's Dinner

Rich Beef Stew with Bacon and Plums

It came from Better Homes & Gardens. You can get it here. Which is good because my recipe, which I ripped out of the magazine, is now splattered with bacon grease, oil splatter, splashes of red wine, and drippings.

It's barely readable.

But it was worth every drip. It is amazing. The butternut squash gives it a delicious roasted flavor. The beef was juicy. The wine created a rich juice. The plums round out the flavor topping off the variety of textures created by everything together.

It was the perfect dinner for this cold, last night of February. And for that I am thankful.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Snowflakes worked too well

For the third year, I asked friends to cut out snowflakes with or without their kids. Check out last year, where we didn't get much snow until January, and the handmade snowflakes filled the kitchen.

This year… is a much different story.
Shannon and Greg have added snowflake making to their Advent socks. I am honored and I love their creativity. Their snowflakes are the the two in the center and the one to the bottom right. The top right snowflake is one of the window clings from my parents. 

The one on the upper left is very special. Chandra is a counselor for adopted kids and youth. She specializes in adoptions from other countries. One of her clients needs to keep their hands busy and during December they were quite busy cutting snowflakes. Chandra told this client about my snowflakes. The next session, this youth brought in a snowflake. They told Chandra that is was especially for me. I teared up when Chandra gave it to me and told me the story.

Isn't that beautiful? Today I want to recognize how thankful I am for that young person and for all of those who have sent me snowflakes this year and in the past. 

We have enough snow though (this is officially the 2nd snowiest season on record, 1951 holds the record with 132" and I hope we don't get that much more snow, we're at 107.8" currently). I typically wait until spring officially starts before I take down my snowflakes, but this year I may not wait until then. They may come down at the beginning of March.
On March 14, 2013 this photo was taken. I don't think we'll see crocus that early this year.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Because it told me to

Today I'm thankful for chocolate. But only because the chocolate wrapper told me to give thanks for chocolate. Since it fits my theme for my blog, I decided to say it.

Thanks Dove chocolate for fun little notes inside the wrappers and for a delightful little treat in the middle of the day, or evening, or whenever I need a piece of delectable chocolate.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Biscuits and sausage gravy, yum!

Dinner tonight was amazing, if I do say so myself. I made this. Here's the picture:

See, we've had some frozen Brussels sprouts in the freezer since Thanksgiving. Bill has been using them little by little (he likes to eat them with his egg white omelette for breakfast). I haven't had the nerve to try said Brussels sprouts (ever), so when I found this recipe, I thought why not?

Bill wasn't sure about the roasted vegetables with biscuits and sausage gravy.

But it worked.

Here are a few changes I made; first, I didn't use baby carrots. I used regular carrots and cut them up.

Now, the next change I made may shock you. You've been warned. I didn't make the biscuits from scratch.

See, I had planned to have this dinner tonight, knowing I would be coming home from work. Yes, all six hours. A few weeks ago I had a coupon for refrigerated biscuits and I bought them. I had initially planned on using them for homemade donuts. Then I planned this dinner and decided I would give myself a break and use the refrigerated biscuits.

It's all about knowing your limits.

Of course I'll try the homemade biscuit recipe next time. Now that I know how delicious this is with refrigerated biscuits.

I'm thankful for Ellen, back at the Hallmark store in Taylor, who taught me how to make homemade sausage gravy.

I thought I blogged about it before, but if I did, I can't find the post. I don't remember the first time I had biscuits and sausage gravy, but I know I liked it. We did not eat this in our house while I was growing up. It became a dish I ordered when we went out for breakfast. One day, at the Hallmark store where I worked after Bill and I were first married, the assistant manager and I were talking. She told me about how easy it was to make sausage gravy. Do tell, I begged. She obliged. I could not believe it was that simple! If you don't know; it's as easy as cooking some pork sausage until it's browned, add several forks full of flour, add milk as you stir until you get the gravy constancy that you desire. Season with a little bit of salt and black pepper. Ta-da! It changed my cooking life. No, seriously. I believe it was the first dish I made without using a recipe (I do not count grilled cheese or fried eggs in that category).

Thank you Ellen!

Monday, February 24, 2014

from scratch

I made this today.

I am in trouble.

It looks delicious.

It smells delicious.

I managed to wait until after dinner to cut a small piece and try it.

It is unbelievable.

It tastes just like cinnamon rolls.

And now I want to make cinnamon rolls. I don't know why. For now, I have the entire cake to eat.

Just kidding. I'm going to take it in to work tomorrow and share it. I hope to have a few pieces to bring home though.

I'm very thankful for cinnamon roll cake today.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

If the shoe fits...

I am thankful for fried chicken, it was so yummy, but I'm going to write about what we did yesterday.

Our town may not be big enough for The Body Shop, but it's just the right size for me. We have hockey, we have baseball, we have a symphony, ballet and an opera house. We have multiple theaters (as in the theatre, not cinema but we have those too), musical stages, free art events throughout the year, ArtPrize, and an amazing sculpture garden. We have an art museum, public museum, a children's museum and a presidential museum.

We may not ever be able to host the Olympics, but we get to see professionals play sports (Bill almost got hit by a foul ball thanks to Omar Infante when he was back from an injury playing for the Whitecaps) and we don't have to take out a loan to pay for tickets.

Rush hour traffic means you'll be stuck an extra ten minutes. Trust me, after driving in Memorial weekend traffic on the Jersey shore, rush hour anywhere is laughable.

Okay, depending on where you're going in Grand Rapids, and what happened it could take an extra twenty minutes. But that only happened once. And it was a double whammy, road construction and an accident.

What I'm trying to say is, this is a great place to live. There's a reason we've made so many different top ten lists.

Last night we went out for our annual hockey game with friends, Amy and Adam. We had great seats and at $16/ticket, it's a cheap date.

But don't count dinner. We always go to our favorite restaurant, San Chez. They specialize in Mediterranean tapas. We always get carried away and order way more food than we really need. It's easy to do since we're all sharing the plates of food.

I'm thankful that we can have a fun night out with good friends watching hockey for fairly cheap. And, remember that rush hour drive time, everything is close enough that we were home by 10:15pm. In other cities it would have taken an hour or longer to get home from a venue like a hockey arena.

Grand Rapids is just the right size.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sunny, snowy Saturday

Alliterations are always amusing.

One of the young women from Jersey, Taryn, traveled to England for a year. She blogged about it and each post was titled with alliteration.

Our young friend Molly, who went with us on our trip to Butler, once sent us a thank you card that was full of alliteration.

I don't know how many words need to be involved for alliteration, I think two count but three is probably better, so I like to use it when I can.

Today I'm thankful for subtle alliteration. Of which there was none in that sentence. And now I can't come up with any alliterations.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Forgetful Fridays, and Fried Chicken

Yes, I forgot to blog again on Friday. But you'll still get your Saturday post too.

I had a forgetful Friday.

First, I was off a day all week. As Bill pointed out, that happens when one only works six hours a week. To which I replied by sticking out my tongue.

It does happen to me a lot. I think mostly because I used to do my grocery shopping on Tuesdays. Now that I work in the office on Tuesdays, I go shopping on Wednesdays. For whatever reason, it sets me off a day.

I had one thing on my to-do list for Friday. That was to call in our lunch order for Sunday. We're having fried chicken. No not Bill, Greg and I. The Jr. High Confirmation class. We'll be visiting the First Community A.M.E. church and, after the service, are going back to our church for lunch and a lesson.

This is for Precious; of course I had to get fried chicken.

I almost forgot to call in the order though! I was on the phone with Heather O. when I realized I hadn't called yet. It was 4pm. I had already missed the lunch rush and was hoping to avoid the dinner rush. I quickly got off the phone with her (I feel bad about that, but her birthday is coming up, so I'm planning on calling her again soon) and called to order our chicken.

Then I forgot to blog.

That's all.

I'm sure I'll be thankful for fried chicken on Sunday, but maybe I'll find something else to be thankful for, so I'm thankful for fried chicken today. I can't wait to chow down on it.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

there are other channels?

For me, no other tv matters right now except the Olympics.

I have had the tv on non-stop since the opening ceremonies.

Not really, but I do have the games on when I'm home.

Today was a big day. First, I caught up on the ladies short program. (I'm trying not to be too descriptive because I did not get express written consent from anyone to write my opinion about this.) Our cable provider teamed up with the national broadcast company and they have all the sports On Demand.

That means, that last night when I mentioned the ladies short program was on and Bill nixed the viewing, I was able to watch it this morning.

I was all prepared to stay up tonight to watch the free-skate program. I was also prepared to leave my Quota meeting early, if necessary, to be home in time to watch it from the start.

Turns out, I didn't have to do either. I watched it live on NBCSports. I already know what happens and I don't have to stay up until 11:30pm.

Then I watched the gold medal women's hockey match.

Overall, I watched a total of five hours of Olympics today. That may be a record for me.

It's funny because I feel like there are no other channels. And then, suddenly after Sunday, everything will go back to normal. We'll catch up on our shows that are on the dvr. I'll finally watch "Pride and Prejudice". Maybe I'll even watch "Les Miserables" again.

But for now, it's all about the peacock and the Olympics.

Thank you Greece, for bringing athletes together to showcase their amazing talent, while I sit, crying on the couch, cheering them on, no matter their country. I learn about new sports and enjoy old favorites (snowboard cross isn't new this year, but I love that, and curling is a big draw for us). It motivates me for the spring and getting back out to run.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

nutty buttery goodness

I have expressed my fondness for peanut butter in more than one post. I like dipping apple slices in it. I like spreading it on graham crackers with chocolate bars. I like it with chocolate rice cakes. There's a certain peanut butter pie that is pretty tasty. I also like a slice of bread spread with peanut butter and drizzled with honey.

There's one more delicious treat.

There is a company that makes pretzels stuffed with peanut butter. The pretzels are miniature pockets, think pizza pocket shape, they are not your typical pretzel shape. Then, stuffed in the middle, is a chunk of the creamy stuff.

I introduced the youth to them.

I warned the students that these pretzels are addicting.

Of course they had to try them. Then they couldn't stop eating them. It is really difficult to have a few.

You can buy them at Sam's Club. But since I don't have a membership, I found them at Staples. I think Meijer has them too.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Thirty-three days and one hundred inches

The weather people predicted another 3-6 inches of snow last night.

I went out before dinner and shoveled out a path just so I could bring the trash & recycle bins back up to the house. I shoveled a good 4-6 inches of snow.

This morning I donned my winter garb and headed out.

There was easily ten inches of snow and that was on the part of the driveway that I shoveled yesterday.

We have hit the one hundred mark, that is 100" of snowfall for the season (officially 101.1"). I should be quick to point out: so far, winter isn't over.

From our local weatherman's blog, "The snow depth of 24" this Tues. AM in G.R. is an all-time February record and just 3" shy of the all-time snow depth record of 27" after the Blizzard of '78. We have now gone a record 14 days with more than 20" of snow on the ground."

I was cursing it this morning. Twenty inches of snow on the ground is doubled when you have to move it off the driveway. It quickly piles up. Bill has done a nice job, as he's used the snow blower, and thrown more snow out into the yard. Since I insist on shoveling, I can only throw it so far. Especially when I'm throwing it up over the snow banks.

Here are a couple of pictures from Feb. 2nd to give you an idea...
You can sort of see (since it's all white) the blanket of snow in our yard. A fairly even blanket. The piles at the edges are almost equal to the snow in the yard.
I tried to get a better perspective as Bill walked down the driveway.
I'm posing next to the pile so you can see the height. I'm standing on snow, and my hand isn't on the top of the pile because the peak is over another twelve inches and up another several. 
This is easily up to my shoulders.

And this was two weeks ago. It warmed up slightly on Saturday, and melted a little.

It has been getting close to ridiculous as we back out of our driveway. As indicated, the piles are high enough that in my car (a Ford Fusion for reference), I can just see over them to see if cars are coming down the street.

That was, until this morning.

The snow didn't melt enough and the new snow was enough that as I backed out I realized I couldn't see. No problem, it's been this high before, I'll just pull back up to the sidewalk where I can look out and see over the snow banks. Um, nope. Those are too high now too. Okay, pray to God that there are no cars coming.

I backed out very slowly until I could finally see, and then gunned it so I wouldn't get stuck. Since I had already helped two other people who got stuck this morning and it took me an hour and a half to shovel.

Did I mention it was thick, heavy, wet snow?


It was heavy.

And, because the aforementioned piles have only gotten higher, as I shoveled ten inches of heavy, wet snow onto a snow bank that is easily forty inches high, the shovel would hit the top of the bank and cause an avalanche. Or the weight of the snow would cause an avalanche. Or the removal of the snow on the bottom would cause an avalanche. Whichever of these it was, for every one shovel-full of snow I removed, I had to shovel three more times.

I love snow, but with thirty-three days until spring, I am over it for this season.

If it's going to keep snowing, it needs to melt first. I am hoping God or Mother Nature gets the memo.

I was not thankful for the snow this morning. I mean, it's still beautiful, but I feel like half of that 101.1" is still in my yard. It's certainly still at the edges of the driveway.

I didn't take any pictures this morning because I knew I wouldn't be able to get perspective.

Now the bushes close to the porch in the first picture are no longer visible.

I am thankful for the snow because it will end and spring is getting closer.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bringing home the bacon, and using it all up

If you read my blog yesterday, you saw what I made myself for breakfast. I didn't mention that we had a few slices of thick bacon leftover from our Valentine's dinner risotto.

Since I didn't have big breakfast yesterday, and my breakfast didn't include bacon, I decided to use the bacon tonight. It was either that or freeze it. I thought it might taste good sprinkled over a bowl of tomato soup. It's also one of my favorite pizza toppings. I happened to have a slice of bacon pizza leftover from last week. I figured it wouldn't hurt to throw a few more pieces of bacon on it.

I used the bacon on a small bowl of soup and the slice of pizza.

I was actually surprised that the bacon bits weren't as good as I thought they would be on the tomato soup. Fortunately the grilled cheese croutons (yes, grilled cheese croutons) are holding up just fine and they made the soup.

Okay, so grilled cheese croutons. They are exactly what they sound like. Make grilled cheese the way you normally do, let it cool, then slice it into crouton size pieces. Serve over hot tomato soup.

In the case that you made too many grilled cheese croutons, refrigerate them and when you're ready to use them reheat them in your toaster oven or regular oven. Enjoy.

I started out being thankful for the bacon, but I think I'll end it by being thankful for grilled cheese croutons. Because grilled cheese croutons are so obvious and make the tomato soup world complete.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

the chicken or the egg

Last week, I asked the youth which came first the chicken or the egg.

We had a very interesting discussion.

Without getting into a philosophical debate, and like to just say I'm thankful for both.

We haven't had a big Sunday breakfast for quite awhile. It will likely be a few more weeks before we have the chance to enjoy one again.

This morning, our Sr. High were in charge and led our worship services. They did an amazing job. As our missions director said to me afterward, there may not be the numbers but there sure is quality [in our youth].

Bill helped with the tech side of the services and I attended the 9:15am service. Since I would be dining by myself, I decided to make the best of it.

I have half a loaf of a crusty whole grain bread. I cut off a thick slice, used a biscuit cutter and made a hole in the center and set about to making a bull's eye or an egg in a basket. I had never heard of this until Bill and I lived in Savannah and I had one at an amazing restaurant which sadly no longer exists. They called it a bull's eye, but the other name makes more sense. I have a feeling it depends on what part of the country you're in, as to the preferred name.

Of course I didn't let the center go to waste. Oh no. I spread some Nutella on the disc. Yum!

And, I don't know if it's kitchen cuisine "correct" but I added a slice of Fontina on top of my bull's eye.

It was delectable. I think I may have to make another one tomorrow!

Today, I am thankful for the egg.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

silence is golden

Today, Pastor Tish and I led our Jr. High Confirmation students in a prayer retreat.

Have you ever heard Jr. High students be quiet? Me neither.

By the time their parents came to pick them up, I was telling the parents, we contemplatively wore out the students. Which meant we were sending them home full of energy.

I could write many posts about these students. They are setting the bar super high for future Confirmation classes. They are intelligent and intuitive. They are compassionate and loving. They are also accepting and inclusive. They continue to amaze me.

After discussing a type of prayer structure to use, and then practicing it, the question was asked what did you like or not like about that? One of the students didn't like it because she thinks of praying as a conversation with a friend (God) and being forced to use structure made it more difficult for her.

Seriously? Seriously.

I explained that many adults don't even know how to pray. That they are a unique group of students who are amazing, and we have these structures in case there ever comes a time that something happens and prayers just don't come to them.

The rest of the day went very well. I made it a point to tell them that it was okay to be quiet. That it may make them uncomfortable, but they needed to respect that others might need the quiet.

They did okay.

We had a few timed, completely quiet, sessions and it was absolutely quiet. No one moved, rustled, or even sneezed. For two minutes at a time! Three times!!! I was impressed.

They also had a Silent Walk with several prayer stations. At the end of the day when I asked them what they liked best almost all of them said the Silent Walk.

I would call it a success.

I'm thankful for the silence that the students honored and for these students.

Friday, February 14, 2014

L, is for the way you look at me...

I think that today is an important day. It's a day that reminds us to love those we care about, and maybe those we don't. It's not just a "Hallmark holiday".

Honestly, I miss making Valentine's and having a shoebox to decorate for school. Maybe I should get crafty. Or would that be weird since we don't have kids?

Bill and I opted to stay at home this year given the day of the week. It's amateur hour out there. All those trying to impress their significant other booked reservations months ago. (No disrespect if you did go out, it's nice to not have to clean the kitchen or wash dishes.) We actually discussed this months ago.   We decided to have a nice dinner here at home. During our last phone conversation, Shannon told me about pork chops marinated in pickle juice. I ran that by Bill as a menu option. It sounded like something we would like. I couldn't figure out what to make as a side, then Bill suggested the Spiced Pear Risotto with Bacon & Pecans (I wrote about it here).

The risotto was better than I remember it. The pork chops were also delicious. They had more pickle flavor then I expected, but were still good.

But I have to say, I'm thankful for the risotto. It's just so good.

And, I'm thankful for being loved.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

not much really

I started shopping at The Body Shop shortly before we moved to GR. So it's been at least eight years. I have maintained my "Love Your Body" card. This is no small feat. One must purchase a certain amount of product, yearly. Then the card is automatically renewed.

The Body Ship has all the products I like. The peppermint foot spray (very important for mission trips and the summer months), the mineral powder make-up foundation, the chocolate body butter… I like shopping there because they use fair-trade products but also because they aren't constantly changing everything in their store like their competition.

I got Bill hooked on their hemp lotions and their men's line of shaving products.

All of these things are available online.

There were two stores in our area, one in each mall.

Note that I said "were".

I was in there a few weeks ago to stock up on the aforementioned chocolate body butter (it's seriously the best lotion in the winter, not to mention the delicious aroma). Now I'm in need of the mineral powder make-up and when I was at the mall on Saturday I noticed something very strange.

The store was completely closed. No signs, no lights, no products.

Maybe they just moved, I thought.

I came home and checked their store locator and sure enough, there are no stores listed within 25 miles. I broadened my search to 200 miles. The closest store is just east of Lansing and the next closest is South Bend.

I am so sad. How can I try new scents? How is this possible? Why was there no warning? I feel bad for the employees. Did they have any warning?

I liked this store because it seemed less corporate America, but now it reeks of that stench. Why do I want to pay for shipping when I could just run down to the mall?

I emailed them to express my disdain. I hope enough of my friends and fellow shoppers do the same to perhaps persuade them bring back at least one store. Grand Rapids is the second largest city in the state.  They had a very nice reply. But that's not enough.

So I'm not really thankful that the store is closed. Nor am I really that thankful that I have to use the internet to continue shopping with them. Nor am I thankful that I ever got hooked on their products. And I'm not thankful that now I'm in need of make-up that I can't just run out and buy.

This is a huge stretch, but I guess I'm thankful that I live in a country that allows stores to be open, or closed, wherever they want.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

now all I need is a warm blanket and a bowl of popcorn

Target has dvd's at the checkouts. Most of the time they are regularly priced. Occasionally the dvd's will be $10 and on the very lucky occasion they are $5.

I have found a few good movies for $5. I always look to see what they have to offer. That's where I bought "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", for $5. That's also how much I paid for "Amelie" after it won the Oscar in 2001. I'm fairly certain that "Strange Brew" is in the same category.

Yesterday, while I was at Target, the end cap caught my eye. The dvd's weren't $5. They were on special for $4.75! Quickly I scanned the selection to see if there were any movies I couldn't live without.

"Pride & Prejudice" was among them.

Valentine's Day is coming. I decided (and rightly so; if I were to ever list our dvd collection you would understand why) to purchase the love story. It's one of my favorite versions of Jane Austin's "classic masterpiece".

Plus at a whopping $4.75 how could I turn it down? Thanks bargain bin!

Now all I need is that bowl of popcorn and a warm blanket.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

You got chocolate in my peanut butter

You got peanut butter in my chocolate.

Do you remember that tagline? It was for Reese's Peanut Butter cups in case you don't remember. (No one is paying me to say their name, however I would accept payment in peanut butter cup form.)

Bill is a huge fan of peanut butter cups. I am a huge fan of chocolate.

Back in the fall we had several chocolate bars in the house. One night, he had the brilliant idea to spread peanut butter onto the chocolate bar. We didn't have any peanut butter cups. This was the next best thing.

I couldn't believe that I had never thought to do that.

Then one day I took it a step further. I like peanut butter on graham crackers. And chocolate bars with roasted marshmallows on graham crackers are also good. Since it's winter and we don't have a usable fireplace, I skipped the marshmallow and put peanut butter and chocolate on the graham cracker.

Did I blog about that?

It was delicious.

I'm always searching for new things to eat for lunch when fresh, local fruit is out of season. Last week, it occurred to me that I like rice cakes. I thought I should buy some plain rice cakes and spread peanut butter on them and then I could have something new for lunch.

Did you know they make chocolate rice cakes? Guess what tastes delicious on chocolate rice cakes?

You guessed it. Peanut butter.

Today I am happy that someone decided to grind up peanuts and give us the spreadable treat we call peanut butter.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

maybe not warmer, but more sunny

The south. Which to Michigan folks is everything south of the state line.

I was born in Michigan, but we moved to Indiana when I was seven. When I met Bill he accused me, and everyone in our small Indiana town, of having a "southern" accent. Since I was going to school in Savannah, Georgia aka the real south, I didn't think too much of it.

Flash forward eight or so years and Bill and I move back to Michigan. One of the first visits back to Indiana to see my parents and I realize how much of a southern accent everyone here has. Huh.

Today, I'm thankful for the south. Whether it's the state line or not, it's less snowy and there was even sun shining bright. For our friends who live south who want to know why I didn't call, it's because this is a super quick business trip for Bill. I came along to save postage on a gift/blanket I made for Cyndi and to get a super huge tub of fundraiser laundry detergent from my parents. We'll be gone just over twenty four hours. There wasn't enough time for me to call and let you know that we would be here. Next time, I'll let you know. We'll be here longer.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Two things

The Olympics are in full swing. Bill and I are anxiously awaiting Feb. 10th which will be the beginning of the curling events. We really got into curling four years ago. With all the different ways to view the Olympics, it was pretty easy to find a curling match. Before we knew it, we were hooked. It's fascinating to watch.

The other date that I am anxiously awaiting is March 1st. Skylar will know why. Molly Mo knows why. Bill, who will roll his eyes, knows why.

Jersey Junction opens for the season.

I don't care how cold it is. I will be there, and I will buy an ice cream cone even if I'm wearing my two layers of socks, two layers of tops, long underwear, a scarf, hat and mittens.

Except this year we are supposed to leave for the college/young adult spring break trip. Since we're only going to Chicago, I wonder if I can talk Sami into waiting until after I get my ice cream…?

If I can get her to do that, I know what I'll be thankful for on March 1st. For today I'm thankful that it's only twenty days until then.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Baked Oatmeal

I was all set to blog last night. We had run a few errands and when we came home, I finally had time to compose a post.

That's when Bill informed me that our internet was down.

I watched the Olympic Opening Ceremony instead.

I will post this to Friday's date, since I was all set to write it yesterday. Then, I will write another post for today that will post later tonight.

I have been searching for a baked oatmeal recipe. There's this little coffee ship in the town where I grew up that served a baked oatmeal for breakfast. For a few years my family went there to have breakfast (I think) with their Sunday school class. My mom always ordered the baked oatmeal. It always looked good, but I chose the cheese omelet instead.

The coffee shop stopped serving the baked oatmeal.

Recently, for whatever reason, I remembered that baked oatmeal and wanted to find a suitable substitute. I enjoy the homemade granola recipe and my oatmeal cookie recipe is delicious. Why not baked oatmeal?

I searched online and found several recipes. I tried one, it was nothing like I had hoped for.

I sort of gave up the search.

Then, on Thursday morning you'll recall I walked down to a friend's house for our book club, Trina had made a baked oatmeal. I had already had breakfast, but since I had walked through the snow I decided the extra calories wouldn't hurt.

Her baked oatmeal was exactly what I've been looking for! I begged her for the recipe, which she gladly shared. She has modified the original and this is her recipe:

Baked Oatmeal
from Trina Rookus
3 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl whisk eggs, milk, and butter. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Pour into a greased 8x8 dish. Bake 40 minutes or until set.

She had yogurt, blueberries and maple syrup for toppings. Really, you can top it with anything. It was so good. I'm excited to make some. Thanks again Trina!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

socks, sidewalks and snow

Did you know it hasn't stopped snowing here? I get that it can be difficult to shovel. If you're out-of-town or elderly, it may not get done to the same degree that an able-bodied person would do.

I walked down to a friend's house this morning. The sidewalks were passable. Until I got to the house that is owned by the bank. Those sidewalks haven't been cleared off for weeks. (Or days, it's snowed so much here.)

I didn't realize that though until I stepped off the hill on the corner down into the two feet of snow. At that point it was too late to turn back. I forged ahead, climbing through the deep snow until the next property where the sidewalk was back to mostly clear.

Fortunately, it was so cold and the snow was so light, that it didn't really stick to me. Once I got to Trina's, I dried off pretty quickly.

I'm thankful for cleared off sidewalks. I'm also thankful for my long underwear and three layers of socks.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

doing good

I watch "Ellen" every day. If I'm not home to watch her, I record the show.

Today, she welcomed back a young woman who opened a charter school in the poorest neighborhood in Detroit. The last time this woman was on the show, Ellen (and Shutterfly -who don't know me) gave the school $50,000. Then, because of this story, viewers have sent the school art supplies and more money. It's an amazing story.

Ellen has given so much to deserving people. Individuals, families, schools, rescuers, the list goes on and on.

She ends her show with the phrase, "Be kind to one another". It's contagious. Whether you pay it forward, or share something as small as a smile with a stranger we can make this a better place.

Maybe that's a small part of what I'm trying to do by being thankful every day.

Laugh, have fun, and be thankful.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I could have been...

Today was a rough day at work. The internet wasn't playing nice which meant I couldn't connect to the printer. Eventually, through a convoluted solution, I was able to print.

Then I called and whined to our IT guy (ha! I just realized he's our "it" guy), who came in on his day off and the minute he walked into the building everything worked like normal. He went home and approximately thirty seconds after he left, my internet went out again.

There's not a lot I can do without internet or printing capability.

Then I came home and read a post on Facebook. It's about having a bad day at work, purchasing a rectal thermometer (made by Johnson & Johnson), taking it home, reading the instructions which (apparently) state that every thermometer is tested before being sanitized and packaged. The gist is that at least I don't work for J&J. Har har. It made me laugh and whether true or not, at least I don't test rectal thermometers.

For that, I am thankful!

Monday, February 3, 2014

share the wealth

My mom and I were talking yesterday and she had (we think) a brilliant idea.

Michigan, at least around here, has a lot of snow. So much snow that our city is removing it from parking lots and dumping the snow into unused parking lots (and probably other places). We also have a snow "dragon"(check out the news story here) to help with snow removal. Our streets are narrower. The city has spent it's budget for snow removal.

The good news is that the lake is freezing over so our lake effect snow is diminishing (I swear our weatherman was exclaiming that with glee).

At the other end of the spectrum, our nation's sunny California is in a severe drought. So much that Hoda and Kathy Lee have started drinking less wine to help protect the reserves! I know, shocking.

How can our two states get together to get the snow that we don't want, and don't have room for, out to their state that is in desperate need of the melted stuff? Sure it wouldn't be safe for human consumption, but if it's gray water, wouldn't that at least help their crops?

If someone in California wants to send me the money, I will find a way to ship them snow. We have plenty of it. As in, I could scrape off a two foot layer from our entire yard (why not go all the way down the street) and we would all still have a foot of snow left. Look toward the street where the plow has stuffed our snow, there's a good four feet that we could scrape down.

I took pictures yesterday while Bill was out clearing the snow from the plow. They're still on my camera, and my camera is over there (I'm pointing across the room). I also happen to have a sleeping kitty on my lap. I don't want to disturb her. I'll get the pictures off the camera another time and post them. I don't want you to miss out. Unless you live here, then you understand and don't want anyone else to miss out seeing them.

Oh, so I'm thankful for my mom's great idea. We just need to figure out how to get it to work.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Where in the blogosphere?

I didn't write the last two days. Which isn't to say that I'm not thankful for anything. I have my reminder set to go off in the evening, and both nights I was not home.

Friday night I was with our Confirmation students at a Funeral home. No, no one we know passed away. Instead, as part of the year-long class, we take field trips to different houses of worship. We've been to Temple Emanuel and St. Nicholas (Antiochian Orthodox). Somewhere, from someone (I think Greg M.) I got the idea to also visit a funeral home. Why not? If we're going to churches to learn about them, why not go to a funeral home. At some point in our lives, we'll all go to one.

I asked our parish nurse for a recommendation and she gave me the name of one in particular that had been very kind and helpful when her mother passed away.

Lee (the funeral director) was great! He isn't much older than me and he had tons of great stories. Our students asked great questions. We were there for an hour and a half and we probably could have spent another hour. We didn't get much of a tour, but that's okay.

Last night, we went to Glenn and Nancy's for some euchre. Bill declared it would be guys against girls. Usually we have played Bill and Nancy against Glenn and me. Bill and Nancy have won. Last night, the guys beat the girls. Bill is the one to beat apparently.

Today I'm thankful for gray skies (with no snow, seriously our streets can't handle anymore snow). I'm thankful for fun games and dinner with friends. And I'm very thankful for those who are called to be funeral directors because that is definitely a gift.