Thursday, September 30, 2010

Oatmeal Cookies

I'll warn you that this makes lots of cookies, but you can refrigerate the dough and make them as needed.

Oatmeal Cookies
recipe adapted from a Ronald McDonald House cookie recipe

2 cups butter (4 sticks!), softened or partially melted
2 cups brown sugar, packed
2 cups white sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
2 tsp salt
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
6 cups quick-cooking rolled oats

Cream together butter, eggs, sugars, and vanilla until fluffy.

Sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Stir into butter mixture (I use the lightest setting on my mixer).

At this point everything has to be moved into a larger bowl.

Add oats and mix well. This is where I adapted the recipe. I don't like food in my food, so I left out the stuff, like raisins and nuts. But if you like that, you can put some in. Go ahead and ruin your cookies if you want.

The dough can be refrigerated at this point and cookies baked as needed.

Drop by teaspoonful 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. It takes about 12 minutes on my stone and 10 minutes on my regular uninsulated cookie sheet. I add 2 minutes when I bake them out of the refrigerator.

This is what they look like when I take them out. We like our cookies chewy and without other food in them.

This is what they look like after they've cooled. Yum!

I use my Pampered Chef (I think medium) scoop for these, and I get about 9-10 dozen cookies. Yes, I give some away.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Buddy's Birthday


Buddy turned 14 last Friday, September 24th.

I changed out the window gels, also known as the sticky things hanging on the door to keep the birds from flying into it.

Hubby took Buddy to a Tigers' baseball game.

We had Dairy Queen ice cream cake per Buddy's request. His favorite is the Oreo Blizzard cake.

When I went to pick it up, the lady wasn't happy with how it was done. She wanted to redo it and asked if I could come back in a few hours to pick it up. We weren't in a hurry since it was still before noon, so I said sure.

When we went back to pick it up, the replacement cake wasn't the Blizzard cake. She realized that, and she wasn't going to sell the first one because she was unhappy with the decorating, so she gave us both of them for the price of the one.

My family who thinks ice cream is a food group was extremely excited!

Buddy has seen all six Star Wars' movies in the last couple of months. His friends at our church here have gone on and on (incessantly) about Star Wars and how they couldn't believe he hadn't seen them. I saw the original three many years ago. Hubby fell asleep during the original movie when I tried to get him to watch it just so he knew what Star Wars was all about. That's been since we had kids, but before they were old enough to watch. He's not a sci-fi guy.

So our kids had never seen Star Wars. They know a lot about sports though.

Buddy and Caboose are hooked on Star Wars now. So I picked this DQ cake. I picked up the little rings at the local cake decorating store.

We teased him that we got a Caillou cake. He was glad we were kidding. Hubby and I are just goofy enough to do it.

Trivia time!

On September 24, 1996, Buddy's actual birth day, according to the Chicago Tribune "t
he average price for a gallon of gasoline at the nation's pumps rose in the last two weeks to $1.2918, up 0.17 cents since Sept. 6, according to a Lundberg Survey of 10,000 gas stations nationwide. Consumers are now paying just over 9 cents a gallon more than this time last year."

What we wouldn't give to be paying that again!

The Chicago Tribune also published an article on this date regarding the Internet, the rapid increase in the number of users, and dial-up networks/internet service providers. It stated, "the country's largest commercial dialup computer service, America Online, has won one battle but lost ground in another over recent days in the ever-running battle to keep growing as Americans continue to flock onto the Internet.

The victory came late Friday afternoon in Philadelphia, when the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals canceled an order by a lower court that barred America Online executives from blocking junk e-mail in the face of widespread customer complaints."

I'm wondering what happened there?

Later in the article, this is what it said about internet service providers: "The service was winning in the courts, but a reversal came when a major industry survey was released Monday, showing that Americans appear to be moving away from using big commercial services like America Online, CompuServe, Prodigy and the Microsoft Network in favor of smaller, often local, companies called Internet service providers.

The Odyssey study found that even as all four of the big on-line services were losing potential customers to the small service providers, America Online did much better than the others.

Between January and July, America Online grew from a 14 percent share of all households with PCs to 18 percent, while CompuServe dropped from 6 percent to 5 percent and Prodigy dropped from 5 percent to 4 percent. Microsoft Network remained at 1 percent."

I haven't heard a couple of those names in a while.

Tomorrow, spacers. Next Monday, braces. He's growing up so fast. And he is so totally taller than me.

Love ya, Bud!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Becoming a Living Organ Donor

About 16 1/2 years ago, I took Chatty to Arkansas Children's Hospital. Hubby was still in Virginia. The girls had been born at 27 weeks gestation. They got out of the hospital the day they turned three months old, and about six weeks later after I'd nagged and nagged the pediatrician, we knew something was seriously wrong with Chatty's liver (it's a lengthy post, but includes links to the girls' birth stories and the explanation of Chatty's surgeries - just don't forget to come back and finish reading this one because you don't want to miss it either).

For the better part of a day we thought she had biliary atresia, a non-correctable liver disease where the bile ducts constrict and don't go back to normal. It would require a liver transplant. At the time she was 6 1/2 pounds, 4 1/2 months old, although they adjusted her age to 1 1/2 months due to prematurity.

After an ultrasound later in the day, everyone was doing the happy dance. They found a cyst in her bile duct. Surgery, although lengthy and some cutting and pasting would be required, would correct her problem.

We know that all the places we've been God has placed us. We can see His hand in it. So now to tie everything together...

Mari was one of my first blogging friends. I've since met her now that I live in Michigan too. Of course we met at Ikea! Goody for me that I live closer to it!

Well, last year around the holidays I realized that one of Mari's other blogging friends, Cathy, lived close to me. We exchanged a few casual emails. I told her where my church was located and she said she didn't live too far from it. I was in the car shooting the emails back and forth on my blackberry. I even mentioned it to Hubby casually while he was driving. I started following Cathy's blog.

In June of this year, just one day before our 25th anniversary, Cathy posted of the need for a liver transplant for her daughter, Heather. They were looking for someone with the same blood type, O+. That's what Hubby's is.

I asked him how he felt about being a live liver donor (I think I might have told him it was local and for an only child), he said to find out what he needed to do, and that's pretty much the beginning and end of it.

On November 15, my husband and Heather will both be having separate surgeries with separate doctors in the same hospital at the same time, which of course is local because we all live right here. Who had that all planned out?

Hubby's recovery will be 4-6 weeks. He'll be in the hospital about a week. They will be taking out the larger, front lobe of the liver (65 percent) and leaving 35 percent. It will regenerate to the normal size in six weeks.

My husband is a nice guy. He's pretty laid-back. He also has a great sense of humor. It's hard sometimes to show complete personalities on a forum like this. You can see his silly picture with Caboose and Mr. Excitement at a monster truck show on my sidebar. That's him. But sometimes it's a little more subtle. For example, I had him go pick up an ice cream cake at Dairy Queen on Father's Day for himself. Well, for all of us to share. This is what we ended up with:

I'm sure he had the lady at DQ laughing with that request!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Strawberry Swirl Cake

We had company for dinner last Friday night and this is the cake I made. It's something you would probably find yourself making more in the spring or summer, but I just got the recipe from my friend and I had to make it.

This is the same cake that was served at the baby shower in May. There's a better picture on that post of my friend's cake. She wasn't lazy and put the strawberries on top.

Strawberry Swirl Cake
from Food & Family, Spring 2007

1 pkg white cake mix
1 pkg (4-oz serving size) Jell-O Strawberry Flavor Gelatin
2/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 8-oz tub Cool Whip
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two round cake pans (mine stuck a little, so a dusting of flour might be helpful). Prepare cake batter as directed on package. Pour half of the batter into a medium bowl. Add dry gelatin mix; stir until well blended.

Spoon half of the white batter and half of the pink batter side by side into each prepared pan.

Swirl batters together lightly, using a teaspoon. Do not overswirl or the color of the cake will be all pink and not pink and white marbled.

Bake 30 minutes. Cool 30 minutes in pans. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Mix sour cream and powdered sugar in a medium bowl until well blended. Gently stir in whipped topping.

Place one of the cake layers on serving plate; spread top with 1 cup of the whipped topping mixture. Top with 1 cup of the strawberries (I just sliced them and placed them until I'd filled up the top, and I cut them a little thick since I thought I might be too lazy to put any on the top).

Top with remaining cake layer (When I stacked them, I made sure the pink side of one was opposite the pink side of the other just to get a good mix when it was cut). Spread top and side of cake with remaining whipped topping mixture. Top with remaining 1/2 cup strawberries just before serving. Store leftover cake in the refrigerator.

I totally wish I'd taken a picture of a slice so you could see it. Hubby was so impressed. He thought only bakeries could make marbled cakes by some special secret! But do you know that we ate the entire cake that night before I could even think about taking a picture. The ten of us that were here all had a piece and that took about 3/4 of the cake. When our company left, four of us finished it off with a second helping.

This is definitely one of my new favorites and one I'll make again and again.

Strange Names You Hear Around Our House

I've been a bird-brain lately, pun intended.

Just check here and here if you're not convinced.

So I thought I'd share the names my kids and I have for some birds, because we're weird that way.

  1. Chip - Chickadee
  2. Nutty - Nuthatch
  3. Tim - Tufted Titmouse
  4. Woody - Red-bellied Woodpecker
  5. Woodette - Female Red-bellied Woodpecker
  6. Mac - Cardinal
  7. Robby - Robin
  8. Donna - as in prima donna, for the juvenille female Oriole that would just as soon let others feed her from our oranges than to eat for herself
  9. Phil - for the Pileated Woodpecker in our backyard in Virginia
  10. Phyllis - for the female Pileated Woodpecker in our backyard in Virginia
  11. Gus - Male Goldfinch
  12. Goldilocks - Female Goldfinch

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


It's the year Hubby and I got married.

It's also the projected high temperature for today. That might not seem much for some of you, but considering I live in Michigan and I've only been seeing 60's and 70's and haven't had my air conditioning on for at least three weeks, it's hot for me. We have to keep our windows closed at night because it gets too cold.

Just for fun, 85 is a biprime number, meaning that it is the product of two prime numbers (specifically 5 and 17). It's the 24th biprime number not counting perfect squares, and combined with 86 and 87 forms the second cluster of three consecutive biprime numbers. I found all that information courtesy of Wikipedia.

Just for more fun, Wikipedia also says that another word for biprime is semiprime. As of September 2008, the largest known semiprime number has over 25 million digits, is calculated by taking the square of the largest known prime number, and is expressed (2ⁿ-1)² where n=43,112,609. I just couldn't find a shortcut to stick it up there.

When I was a kid, I used to like making up my own math problems and solving them. Yes, I'm a math geek, but this is a bit extreme.

Photo courtesy of Leo Reynolds on flickr.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies

One of my all-time favorite cookies.

I remember Grandma making them for me when I was growing up. They were an especially nice treat when I was in college and would receive a tin!

You can make them with crunchy peanut butter or smooth & creamy.

My mom wrote the recipe down for me when I left home as a newlywed in 1985 when we were college sophomores.

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Cream butter, peanut butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla. Sift together your dry ingredients and add into your creamed mixture.

Or you can be lazy like me and add in the baking soda and salt first to make sure it gets into the creamed mixture really good, then add your flour, without sifting any of it.

Shape into 1-inch balls, or something like that. Roll in more sugar. Place on your cookie sheet and criss-cross each cookie with a fork. I have to dip my fork in the sugar so it doesn't stick.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. You might need to adjust this, because when I use my dark cookie sheet they get really dark and crunchy at 10 minutes. But we like chewy cookies.

This makes about 5 dozen cookies.

I won't even tell you how many I ate the first day, except that it was less than a dozen.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The feeder in this post just wasn't cutting it for the number of goldfinches we had wanting to eat all day.

I had spotted a new feeder at the local bird store last week. I was picking up a hummingbird feeder that attached with suction cups to the glass on our back door. It's in the pictures you see in this post, along with some gel stick-ons to help convince the birds not to fly into the door.

Of course the hummingbird tried to drink from the yellow bumblebee stick-on today in between drinks from the feeder.

I'd thought the mesh bird feeder would be a great birthday present for Hubby in the middle of October. It's a very nice one that includes a lifetime warranty.

The birds weren't going to wait, or something like that. Hubby received a birthday song when he arrived home yesterday and an early gift.

The birds have been happy ever since.

It's not even that much bigger than the other feeder. It just doesn't minimize how many birds can fit on it by only having a certain number of perches. Although by the looks of things, we may be minimizing how many birds can fit on the thing pretty soon.

Incoming from the left:

Incoming from the right:

And a glass door that needs a good cleaning...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chicken Spaghetti

Chicken Spaghetti
from my cousin, Jennifer

2 cups cooked & cubed chicken
1 box (16 oz) cooked spaghetti
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can diced Rotel
1 can chicken broth (I use Swanson's since it's a little bigger)
Shredded Cheddar (I use a finely shredded mix Kraft makes)
Shredded Parmesan

Mix soups, Rotel, and chicken broth. Combine with chicken and noodles. Pour into a 9 x 13 ungreased pan. Cover with shredded cheddar cheese (recipe calls for 8 oz but I use at least 2 cups) and sprinkle with shredded parmesan cheese (I leave this off if I don't have it).

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly around edges. (The recipe calls for 40-60 minutes, but mine only takes about 20-30 minutes, depending on whether I'm using freshly cooked and cut up chicken that's already warm or some I've thawed from the freezer that's cold. I think the 40-60 minutes might be when you've made it ahead and frozen it.)

The Rotel gives it a different flavor so it doesn't taste all "chicken-y."

The pictures came out dark and poorly focused. I have trouble indoors. Sorry!

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Menu Plan Monday — September 13

Other than today and tomorrow, and tomorrow is only forecast to be 70, our 10-day forecast does not have a temperature in the 70's until a week from Saturday. It's a whole slew of 60's for us. Fall is definitely in the air, and I'm loving it!

I always love this time of year, but I've actually gotten a little tired of not having what I thought was a decent menu plan in place. We had lots of grilling this summer, but at times it got a little old. The flip side was that I seemed to be in a rut and could never come up with something to cook other than grilling. I think I just needed the weather to cool off so I'd feel more motivated to be in the kitchen.

Monday — The last of the hamburgers on the grill. We were given a nice package of prepared patties, so we'll have them tonight.

TuesdayChicken Spaghetti. This was Hubby's request for the week.

WednesdayLeftover chicken spaghetti and some mac and cheese from the blue box for the kids.

Thursdaytbd. I'm trying to find something new to make.

FridayRoast in the crock pot. We're having company for dinner, and this is a quick and yummy meal.

SaturdaySpecial Sandwiches if there is enough roast left over. That just means I need to buy two of them big enough. My family might go bird in Ohio though, so this could change a little depending on what time they get home.

Sunday — Eat out since we ate in all week!

Visit the Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday. I'm going to be looking for something for Thursday!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cinderelly And The Goldfinches

It reminds us of the part in the Cinderella movie when the birds are all flitting around Cinderella.

The birds have even gotten used to seeing the cat watching them through the window.

The nyjer feeder on the left was full at the beginning of the day. This was the middle of the afternoon.

We're going to have to get a bigger feeder (see the bird in flight on the way to the right feeder above?).

We're also going to have to get a better camera.

And maybe quit taking them through the back door.

One last bird in flight.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


"What brought you to Michigan?"

We always felt a little funny saying a job, considering there were so many people in the auto industry losing theirs and unemployment was so high in this area.

But backtrack to 1999. Hubby was in the military. A promotion that should have happened by all human standards didn't. We were expecting our fourth child and had three children five years old and under. We would soon have four children six years old and under.

We were expecting to no longer have the job security we'd had for the past 11 years. We had to decide whether or not to have Hubby go ahead and look for another job and get out of the military before he was told he had to get out, because at that stage promotion was such a minimal possibility it wasn't even something you could expect to happen.

Hubby decided to wait and see what the next year brought and base his decisions on that. Technically we probably had less than a year. We chose to live out Psalm 46:10. This was October, 1999.

The following July Hubby gets a call literally out of the blue. His promotion is going to happen, and he's being offered a position in the one place that both of us would chose as our top location to go — Scott AFB, which was located in Illinois just across the river from St. Louis, Missouri. This job was a three-year rotation and only came open every three years. (God had this all figured out. No wonder he didn't get promoted the year before!)

Fast forward another four years, Hubby returns from Kuwait and works in St. Louis at a job based here in the Detroit area. He's up here two out of four weeks every month. At the end of this two years, we move to Virginia, not because we want to move, but because we have to move.

God didn't plan for us to stay in the St. Louis area. He knew we would never leave willingly. Once we were in Virginia and Hubby retired (which is a whole drama in and of itself), we looked at other locations for settling down permanently. Namely employment.

Within two days of dropping his retirement paperwork, the men from the Detroit area that he worked with for those last two years we lived in the St. Louis area called him. One of them was retiring. There would be a job opening...

Now we live in the Detroit area. Almost a year ago we met Mrs. Missionary and things fell into place for Sparky to go to Africa. She's felt called to be a missionary since she was seven or eight years old. That's all she's ever wanted to be when she grows up.

Now in October she'll be going to Bolivia with Mrs. Missionary as her chaperone again. All because of God working out a promotion not happening when human beings couldn't explain why it didn't when it shouldn't.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Peach Pie

I live where they have an annual Peach Festival, peaches are in season and abundant right now, and my friend Mari just posted a peach pie recipe. I'm thrilled!

I used my homemade pie crust recipe I've had for almost 25 years. It was for an apple pie with crumb topping, but I used it for the bottom and top crust both.

Pie Crust
from my friend Marsha

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
5-7 T cold water

Mix dry ingredients. Cut in the shortening with two knives or a pastry cutter. Add water until dough is the right consistency. Roll out into two pie crusts.

Peach Pie
from my friend Mari

5 cups sliced fresh peaches
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 add'l T sugar

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare pastry for your pie and place one crust into your 9-inch pie plate.

Peel and slice peaches. Mix peaches with lemon juice.

Mix 1 cup sugar, flour, and cinnamon; stir peaches into the mix.

Pour into your pie crust.

Cover with top crust and place slits in crust (I forgot). Seal crusts and flute edges. Brush water over the top crust and sprinkle the additional 2 T sugar over the top.

Cover edge of pie with 2 inches of aluminum foil to prevent excess browning. Bake for 30 minutes; remove foil and bake for about 15 more minutes or until crust is brown.

It tastes great warm with vanilla ice cream!

I know what's for breakfast tomorrow morning!

When Daddy's Away

His spot is safe.

Caboose doesn't even walk to his own bed anymore.

When Sparky was this age and Hubby went out of town, she'd wait until she woke up in the middle of the night before she crawled into my bed.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

And I Thought My Hair Was Big

I've got nothing on Troy Polamalu, whose hair was recently insured for $1 million by Head and Shoulders.

If you've never seen the commercials (they're usually shown during sports), they are pretty funny.

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