Monday, December 31, 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup

"Let our New Year's resolution be this: we will be there for

one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense

of the word."

Goran Persson 

Prime Minister of Sweden 1996-2006
According to the news, the success rate of New Year's Resolutions is not too encouraging. In fact, 88 % of all resolutions meet their demise before the end of the year.

Point taken at the Y. The first few weeks into January and even into February the place is packed inside, some long waits for machines and the parking lot is brimming with cars. But after a few weeks their business begins to taper off.
Here is a list of the top New Year's Resolutions according to the research from the Star Tribune, December 30, 2012
  • Lose weight
  • Get organized
  • Spend less,save more
  • Enjoy life to the fullest
  • Stay fit and healthy
  • Learn something exciting
  • Quit smoking
  • Help others in their dreams
  • Fall in love
  • Spend more time with one's family
December 29, 2012 The Huffington Post posted an article New Year Resolutions? by Sidney Anne Stove. I liked her take on the subject. At the end of the year she makes a list of the things which she is grateful for, proud she made it through another year thriving and takes time to reflect on her list of accomplishments throughout the past year. The author looks at starting a fresh new year by bringing in positive energy and being ready to take on new challenges and exciting adventures. For her this works better rather than being  discouraged when goals/resolutions are not met. 
So as I look over the list will begin with a healthy start to new year with a recipe of homemade chicken noodle soup. If winter has an icy grip on you perhaps this will warm you up.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Cook's notes: Egg noodles can be put into the soup mixture the last ten minutes of cooking time rather than being cooked separately. Buying a deli roasted chicken is a huge time saver. Turkey can be substituted for chicken. This recipe serves 4-5.  I choose not to add salt to this recipe. 
  • 4 cups cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1 cup celery
  • 1 cup carrots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 containers each 32 oz. chicken broth (used product Swansons low sodium and fat free) equals about 6 cups
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp. ground majoram
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic (from a jar)
  • 1-3/4 cup dried egg noodles-may want more but start small
  • In a large stock pot saute in 2 TB butter onions, garlic, and celery till tender
  • Add broth, chicken and spices
  • Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low and simmer for 45  minutes till carrots are tender
  • Add noodles the last 10 minutes
  • Remove bay leaf before serving 


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Game On

Today is the birthday of Rudyard Kipling, a short story writer, poet and novelist. 

He was born in Bombay, India December 30, 1865. He is known best for his books The Jungle Book (1894) "Gunga Din", Just So Stories and the poem "If "He once said "If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten." 
Truly his life reads like a book with lots of drama and/or movie script. Once I started reading his biography I was mesmerized by all of Kipling's experiences and series of unforeseen events. Kipling was sent away to England for 5 years by his parents to escape a series of typhoid and cholera outbreaks. After physical abuse by a foster mother he returned to his family in India at age 11. As he grew into manhood his love of literature continued and his writing career took off. He married American Caroline Balestier and they settled in Brattleboro, Vermont, his wife's hometown.
His illustrious writing career flourished in the States and at one time he was the highest paid writer in the world. Kipling was the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.  His successful literary works were characterized by his love for children and his native homeland,India.

His personal life was characterized by several tragedies. His daughter Josephine died of pneumonia. The Just So Stories  were the bedtime tales he once told to his daughter. Kipling then moved his family to England. In 1915, his son John went off to war. He was missing in action in France and his body was never found.  Rudyard's poem "If" was written to his son before he left home. 
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends ca.
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son! 

Kipling continued writing in the final two decades of his life. But he never did return to writing cheery children tales that he once so enjoyed crafting. Health issues plagued him and his wife as well as continuing grief over the loss of two children. 
He died in 1936. A little known fact is that his ashes are buried in Westminster Abbey Poets' Corner next to the graves of Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens. 

Baked Cheese Ravioli with Sausage
Cook's notes: Great recipe to feed a crowd on game day (football, soccer etc. ). Just add a salad, bread and brownies and you will certainly be a half-time favorite. 
Serves 8-10 depends on how hungry the crowd is and how many sides/snacks there are also on the table
  • 1-24 oz. package of frozen cheese ravioli-do not thaw (I used a product called Rosetto)
  • 1-1/4 lbs. sweet mild Italian sausage
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic (comes in a jar)
  • 1-14.5 oz. can diced chunky tomatoes (garlic and basil)
  • ¾ of a jar Marinara sauce (24 oz.)
  • 1 tsp. dried basil and 1 tsp. dried oregano or 2 tsp. herbes de Provence
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1-1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese or Colby-Jack
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Cook sausage with onions and garlic, drain and set aside
  • In a bowl mix together marinara sauce and can of chunky tomatoes and add spices
  • Cook frozen ravioli in boiling water with ½ tsp. olive oil
  • Drain ravioli and pat dry with paper towels
  • In a 13x 9 pan lightly grease bottom, add drained ravioli and sprinkle sausage mixture over the top of ravioli
  • Grate Parmesan cheese over top of meat mixture
  • Pour tomato sauce mixture over top
  • Grate again with Parmesan cheese and sprinkle mozzarella cheese or Colby jack cheese on top
  • Bake uncovered 35 minutes-let sit 10 minutes before serving

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snowflakes for Sandy Hook Students

We are not living in eternity.
We only have this moment.
Sparkling like a star in our hand
And melting like a snowflake.
Marie Beynon Ray
Imagine my surprise today reading the newspaper and seeing pictured a former co-worker teacher I once worked with and her daughter in a news article from the Star Tribune, December 29, 2012. The preschoolers from Kindermusik of the Valley in Minnesota with their mothers gathered  Friday to create paper snowflakes for Sandy Hook Elementary students as part of their arts and crafts activity. The link below is to the article titled:Snowflakes to warm Connecticut school by Maria Elena Baca which gives more detailed information about this  campaign.

There is a national campaign to transform Chalk Hill School where the former students of Sandy Hook will attend in January into a winter wonderland. It is the hope this transformation will raise their spirits knowing so many people around the world care and share their grief. The movement has been spearheaded  by the National PTA and the Connecticut PTSA organizations and their PTA president Betsy Landers. The movement is a way for others to show their support to Sandy Hook students and their families. Cheryle Carter, from Minnesota, was determined that Minnesota could also do its part. She launched a blog and a YouTube tutorial on the Snowflakes for Sandy Hook Students .

There still is time for you to be a part of this campaign as snowflakes will be collected till January 12th.   If you GOOGLE search the project title you will be amazed how much information is out there.
This link offers 450 different snowflake designs as well as templates to help you create snowflake designs.

Carter has created a Facebook page for Snowflakes for Sandy Hook for more information.

Donors need to remember to put their names, hometowns and state on their snowflakes. They can be mailed directly to Newtown.
Connecticut PTSA 
60 Connolly Pkwy
Building 12, Suite 103
Hamden,CT 06514

Ladies, Gentlemen and Children start your...cutting

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Revisiting Frost

In the previous blog I wrote about Robert Frost and his recitation of the poem "The Gift Outright " from memory at John F. Kennedy's inauguration. This was a poem he had written in 1942 and winning a Pulitzer Prize for it. But what I did not know that he had actually written a poem titled "Dedication" for the ceremony but at the last minute chose not to read it.  See the following information which I found quite interesting.

For John F Kennedy's inauguration as President of the United States Robert Frost wrote a new poem entitled, "Dedication". Like many others he conceived the new president as young Lochinvar, the perfect combination of spirit and flesh, passion and toughness, poetry and reality:
"... The glory of a next Augustan age
Of a power leading from its strength and pride,
Of young ambition eager to be tried,
Firm in our free beliefs without dismay,
In any game the nations want to play.
A golden age of poetry and power
Of which this noonday's the beginning hour."
But the poet was old (87) and he couldn't see the words because of the sun's glare that bright, cold January day. The poem's newness to him and his unfamiliarity with and uncertainty about the way it went caused him to stumble uncertainly with his voice and tone and he gave up. Instead he fell back on an old one he knew perfectly, and in the most splendidly commanding of voices, recited it impeccably:

~ The Gift Outright ~

The land was ours before we were the land's.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia.
But we were England's, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak.
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.

Holiday Appetizers
Cook's notes: The following appetizer recipes are easy to prepare
Brie Kisses-will need a mini muffin pan and only 3 ingredients! Imagine that :)
  • 1 box puff pastry thawed
  • 1 package of brie cut in 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 jar red pepper jelly

  • Preheat oven 400
  • With a sharp knife shave off outer rind of Brie cheese
  • Cut in 1/2 inch cubes and refrigerate on a plate lined with waxed paper
  • Lightly grease muffin pan
  • On cutting board lay a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper and sprinkle a little flour on it
  • Roll very lightly one of the sheets just to take out the crease and keep other piece wrapped and refrigerated till needed
  • Cut the strip lengthwise and crosswise till there are 24 squares 
  • Place each square in muffin tin with corners pointed outwards and press lightly down
  • Bake 5 minutes and with end of a wooden spoon press down in middle of each square (indent)
  • Bake 3 minutes longer
  • Add Brie cube in each square and top with small tsp. of jelly and bake 6 minutes more-serve warm 

Cook's notes:In the cracker section or deli section there are several products like the one pictured that can be used to make this appetizer. 

  • Bruschetta toasts
  • Finely chopped grape tomatoes or prepared tomato relish that comes in a jar
  • Parmesan cheese

  • On crispy toasts spread tomato relish or chopped tomatoes
  • Grate Parmesan cheese over top
  • Bake 5 minutes at 400

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Worth The Wait

Climb the mountains and 
get their good tidings.
John Muir, Scottish American Naturalist
The World According to Bella
I just had to let you know my good news. I was not forgotten. Remember my stocking that was hung by the chimney with care? Well on Christmas morning it was filled with all sorts of good stuff. The best treat was a raw hide bone shaped like a wreath. It kept me busy gnawing for quite some time.
Love, Bella
Worth The Wait
One of the best things about the holiday season is receiving cards and letters from family, friends and acquaintances. I enjoy getting caught up with those whom I do not see or hear from too much over the past year. The challenge lies in getting out our cards/letters in a timely manner when we get busy during December. But for those who might be holiday procrastinators getting their cards mailed, I recently read that the legendary poet, Robert Frost, once waited till July to get his Christmas cards in the mail. But Frost's cards were well worth the wait. They were quite the coveted item no matter how long it took to reach one's mailbox. Each card was really a beautifully illustrated booklet with a poem. In 1934 Frost collaborated with Joseph Blumenthal on a greeting card/booklet based on his poem "Christmas Trees." It resulted in a series of cards that lasted until 1962 a year before his death. Many of Frost's cards featured woodcut illustrations evoking the New England landscape. Each card/booklet always featured one of his poems. 
In 1942 the card was a hand-colored illustration of a country village and the poem " The Gift Outright," which Frost won four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry and later recited it from memory at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy.
In one of his 1953 cards he explained why the poem "Does No One At All But Ever Feel This Way?" was postmarked July instead of December. He thought the sentiments were more fitting for Independence Day instead of Christmas.  
Some of the information in the above paragraph came from an article titled Christmas in July by Holly Ramer featured in the Star Tribune, December 25, 2012 
Christmas Trees by Robert Frost
(A Christmas Circular Letter 1920)

The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to.
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine, I said,
“There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
“I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.”

“You could look.
But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north. He said, “A thousand.”

“A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?”

He felt some need of softening that to me:
“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”

Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you here with a Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Greetings

This is our wish for you…
Comfort on difficult days
Smiles when sadness intrudes
Rainbows to follow the clouds
Laughter to kiss your lips
Sunsets to warm your heart
Hugs when spirits sag
Beauty for your eyes to see
Friendship to brighten your being
Faith so that you believe
Confidence for when you doubt
Courage to know yourself
Patience to accept the truth
Love to complete your life
That is our wish for you!

Merry Christmas 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The World According to Bella

I had a hard time staying awake for one of my favorite poems: Twas the Night before Christmas. It is a bit long and I crashed before Mrs. S even finished reading. I went twice to the dog park today.
But I do like the part... the stockings were hung by the chimney with care. 
My stocking has been up for a few weeks. I've been doing good lately and think I am back on Santa's list. I haven't eaten any Christmas stuff, Mr.C says I play real nice at the park with the other dogs, I haven't woken up Mr. C and Mrs. S lately in the middle of the night for a wildlife check out back and I have been giving Mrs.S lots of tail wags to get on her good side.  
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house 
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"
It was on this day in 1823 that the holiday poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" was published anonymously in the Troy Sentinel in New York. According to tradition, it was written by the poet and professor Clement Clarke Moore. But I did hear Mrs. S say she read something about a debate who wrote it but I say who cares. It's a nice poem and makes me feel real good every time Mrs. S reads it. 
Christmas Salad  
Cook's notes:Sometimes the tried and true recipes we have had many times over are the best crowd pleasers. This is one of those recipes that guests always like and looks festive on the table. 
  • 1 bag (6oz. ) spinach & arugula or romaine
  • 1-1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 apple coarsely chopped  
  • 1 pear coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • prepared Vidalia Onion Poppy Seed Dressing or use dressing below
Combine all ingredients in a bowl
Salad Dressing:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 TB. red onion finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 2 TB. poppy seed
  • Combine all ingredients in blender except oil
  • While blender is running add oil in a steady stream until thick and smooth 

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Remember the Little Golden Book Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?  Perhaps you have read the book to your own children or had it read to you as a child and watched the TV special. The TV version of Rudolph was first broadcast in 1964 and has been on every December since. It has the distinction of being the longest running Christmas special ever. 
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is an enduring Christmas classic. It began as an advertising gimmick, but soon took on a life as its own with a holiday song and later a Christmas special. Rudolph teaches an important lesson about acceptance and loving yourself for who you are.
Rudolph was originally created as an advertising campaign for Montgomery Wards Department store.  Robert Mays was an advertising copy writer and created the story as a free pamphlet in 1939. It was given away at stores during the holiday season. Mays drew upon his own childhood experiences and the classic children's story "Ugly Duckling."  
After 10 years as a freebie May's brother-in-law Johnny Marks decided to turn the story into a holiday song. And today it is played over and over and over during the holiday season.
All this brings me to Magic Reindeer Mix.  Rudolph is sure to stop Santa'a sleigh at your house to snack on this magical mix. 
Magic Reindeer Mix 
Cook's notes: Cut a piece 10 x 7 of Christmas scrapbooking paper or cardstock. Fold in half. Fill a sandwich size plastic bag with equal parts of dry oatmeal and glitter. Staple sandwich bag to inside of the the paper near the fold. Type the following directions below and glue onto the front of the paper. Staple both sheets together with plastic bag in the inside and directions on the outside. 
On Christmas Eve sprinkle this 
magic reindeer mix on your lawn to guide
Santa's reindeer to your rooftop. While
Santa makes his delivery inside, Rudolph
and his friends can have a snack.
I taped on a small candy cane on front of package.
Spinach & Cranberry Salad 
And this is a salad  that certainly Santa will enjoy with his Christmas meal.
Cook's notes: Both recipes comes from  a book Christmas all through the house  by Gooseberry Patch
  • 2 TB. butter
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • salt and pepper  to taste
  • 2- 6 oz. packages fresh baby spinach
  • 6 slices cooked bacon crumbled
  • 1 -1/2 cups dried cranberries
  • 2 hard boiled eggs sliced
  • crumbled feta cheese
  • warm chutney dressing
  • Melt butter in non-stick pan over medium heat add pecans and stirring constantly till toasted, about 2 minutes
  • Remove from heat and drain on paper towels
  • Toss pecans, spinach, bacon, cranberries and eggs
  • Add crumbled feta cheese 
  • Drizzle with warm dressing
Warm Chutney Dressing
  • 6 Tb. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup bottled mango chutney
  • 1 TB. Dijon mustard
  • 2 TB. honey
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
Cook first five ingredients in saucepan over medium heat stirring occasionally about 3 minutes.  Stir in olive oil blending with a whisk and cook 1 minute. Pour into a blender blend till smooth and serve warm drizzled over salad.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Just That Kind of Day

Grab your favorite pair of earmuffs. Time to celebrate Chester Greenwood Day and the the first day of winter December 21. Chester Greenwood at the age of 18 received the first patent for Greenwood Champion Ear Protectors, known as earmuffs, in Farmington, Maine, which later became the earmuff capital of the world. 
 Lee Bennett Hopkins
winter winds
begin to 
begin to 
begin to 
winter winds
too gruff
it's time 
to wear 
a pair of 
I might also add... time to sit by the fire and warm up with a steaming cup of Apple Cran-Raspberry drink.
Apple Cran-Raspberry Drink
  • 64 oz. apple cider
  • 2 cups cran-raspberry drink (I used product Ocean Spray)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 5 small cinnamon sticks (3 inch)
  • orange slices
  • In a large pan on the stove add all ingredients except orange slices
  • Warm on low for an hour, stir occasionally
  • The last 10 minutes add orange slices
To serve:
Remove cinnamon sticks
Cook's note: If serving a large group double recipe and warm in a crock pot   
This photo was taken recently after a winter storm up north.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The World According To Bella

Check out my latest blog for WWN Community Newsletter

Tis The Season To...

Each week the local coffee shop has some eye catching chalk thoughts that make you just want to pick up that piece of colored chalk and write something. My personal favorite as I looked over the board was have an adventure.  What might you write to complete the thought... Tis The Season To...?
Today seemed just like the kind of day to try a Random Act of Kindness at the coffee shop. They were advertising buy a bag of coffee as a donation for military. Seemed easy enough to me. 
Holiday Gift Ideas
The following recipes can be put in glass jars with screw top lids or plastic containers with lids. Around the top tie a ribbon that has the recipe card hanging from it. (Hole punch the card) Be sure to include the recipe ingredients, directions and instructions 

Hot Cocoa Mix
3 cups dry hot cocoa mix
1/3 cup instant coffee
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup mini marshmallows
Mix and ingredients and store in an airtight container
Instructions for recipe card
Add 3 Tablespoons mix to 2/3 cup boiling water

Walnut Oatmeal Cookie Mix
  • 2-1/2 cup instant quick cooking oats  
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup  chocolate chips
  • 1-1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
Place mix in a large  airtight container or jar with screw top
Refer to photo on how to layer ingredients
Instructions for recipe card
  • Beat 1 stick of softened margarine and 1 stick of softened butter with the sugars and beat till fluffy
  • Beat in egg and 1 tsp.vanilla
  • Add in the dry ingredients  and stir to blend
  • Drop by tablespoonfuls on ungreased cookie sheet 
  • Bake @ 350 for 10-12 minutes
Sand Art Brownies
Adapted from
  • ½ cup plus 2 TB. flour
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup vanilla baking chips
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • Note in recipe ingredients there is a total of 1-cup flour plus 2 TB. 
Attach a recipe card to the outside of the jar with list of ingredients and cooking instructions 
  • Preheat oven @ 350
  • Grease bottom of a 9 inch square pan
  • Pour contents from the jar into a large bowl
  • And mix well
  • Stir in 1 tsp. vanilla, 2 TB. Kahlua, 2/3 cup vegetable oil, and 3 eggs
  • Beat just till combined
  • Bake 22-25 minutes-do not over bake
  • Dust with powdered sugar after brownies have cooled
Directions for layering ingredients for sand art brownies-press each layer down to keep packed screw top on tightly
  • Mix ½ cup plus 2 TB. flour
  • In a wide mouth 1 quart jar layer the ingredients in the order given
  • Start with flour/salt mixture
  • Cocoa powder
  • White sugar
  • Chips
  • Brown sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • Walnuts


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No-Bake Cookies

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,

stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons.

It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.

And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.

What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.

What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.
 Dr. Seuss

The following recipe was previously posted Dec. 19th, 2011. I loved making these easy cookies for the holidays and thought it was worth posting again. Kids really like them.

Reindeer No-Bake Cookies 
Follow the above link to these very cute no bake and easy cookies to make for the holiday season from Southern Living.
 The great thing about this recipe is that all the ingredients can be found at the grocery store.
  • 1 package of Nutter Butter cookies. I placed one cookie (on left side package) so you can tell what cookie size looks like
  • 1 small can of white frosting
  • 1 package large regular holiday M&M's (so there is enough for the cook/cooks to nibble on )
  • 1 bag of pretzels
  • Take one cookie apart
  • Break a pretzel with a large sharp knife to make 2 antlers-cut in one quick stroke 
  • Place a dollop of frosting at top of one of the opened cookie half on either edge and place a pretzel piece for the antler on either side and press down
  • Place other cookie half on top to secure the cookie
  • Use a dollop frosting each for the M &M eyes and nose. Be sure to use a red M &M for nose

Tip: Take a quart size plastic bag (heavy duty) put in 5 large tablespoons of frosting in the bag
Cut a corner off with scissors and use this as a easy piping bag

    Monday, December 17, 2012

    Exciting News

    Follow this link to an article I recently submitted to Lake Region Writers Network on Postcard Poems 
    Guest blogger Sue Ready writes about "Postcard Poems" and links writers to several websites who provide additional information about poetry. To read this blog and her postcard poem "A Postcard from Paris - Luxembourgh Gardens," go to

    getting published is a worthy purpose...spreading the written word-start collecting postcards

    Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. 
    Helen Keller, American writer, activist 
    Make this a Pay It Forward Day or A Random Act of Kindness Day
    Strawberry-Rhubarb Slush was advertised as a cool refreshing summer drink but I found it perfect for holiday entertaining. At first when it was served recently at a party I was thinking a cranberry drink. Remember those slurppy, sweet slushy drinks popular in the 70's and 80's. This recipe is great to have on hand for unexpected company. It has a wonderful flavor.
    This is a Betty Crocker recipe
    • 1 bag (16 oz) frozen rhubarb or 3 cups chopped fresh rhubarb
    • 1 cup of sugar
    • 2 packages (10 oz. each) frozen sweetened strawberries slightly thawed
    • 1-1/2 cup vodka
    • 1- 12 oz can lemon lime carbonated beverage
    • 1 bottle Diet Sprite or Diet 7-UP
    • sliced strawberries
    • Heat rhubarb and sugar to boiling over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally until rhubarb is tender. Stir in strawberries.
    • Pour half of the mixture into blender and blend till smooth.
    • Pour into a large nonmetal container. Blend rest of the mixture and add to container.
    • Stir in vodka and 12- oz. can of carbonated beverage into large container. 
    • Cover and freeze at least 8 hours until frozen and slushy
    To serve add frozen mixture to glass and 1/2 cup Sprite or 7 UP
    Garnish with strawberries
    Makes about 16 servings-depends on type of glass used 


    Cinnamon Apple Muffins

    GET TO KNOW YOUR APPLES Pink Lady , great balance of sweet and tart. Granny Smith , maybe the most popular baking apple. A little more tart ...