Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Welcoming the New Year

I love Christmas!
Santa found his way to our house again! Maybe it was the reindeer food scattered outside or the sound of kids laughter inside but by morning our tree had more presents underneath its branches to cover every bit of that new hard wood floor we had put down before the kids came to visit.

After a few hours in the kitchen, and a few cinnamon rolls for breakfast, turkey and dressing and the works for dinner, twice baked potatoes covered in melted cheese and pies and cakes coming out our ears to snack the day away no one went away hunger and in fact, most were finally repulsed by the smell of food cooking.
We were miserably happy!

I highly recommend...
  • smiling and laughing....
  • hugging the babies....
  • swinging outside....
  • hiking the countryside
  • singing silly Christmas songs...
  • playing games together that span the ages from young to old...
  • sharing covers....
  • being among those you love the most!

Here's to the new year!
We are so blessed! I can hardly wait to see what God has in store for us in the coming year.
Love to all....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Here Comes Santa Claus

I received an email from my dad the other day sending me a cake in a cup recipe. I quickly opened it and scanned it without much thought and sent back an email saying, "okay, we will have a chocolate cake in a cup when I come for coffee this evening." Then I quickly forgot it in the midst of all my busy work at school. I forgot about it that evening at coffee but I did remember it the next evening. When I mentioned making the cake in a cup he was happy to see I remembered it.

It was not the greatest cake I ever ate but it was good and it was chocolate and it was done in three minutes flat and gone in the next few minutes. It was fun. It filled the cup so much that it was a pretty big piece of cake for me so we divided it between us and shared it.

The following is the recipe:

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug
Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.
Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes.
I made it again today because I am alone for the afternoon and chocolate is a favorite. Indeed I had chocolate cake in three minutes and that is how long it took me to clean up my mess after I dropped the cocoa can, dribbled milk on the counter and spilled little bits of sugar and flour. But how fun was that. It was almost like I am sneaking cake for myself because once I clean it up no one will be the wiser. Except when the scales start squealing.

So now this got me to thinking. With Christmas coming I think the grandchildren would love to make their own cakes but knowing the mess I made with it I had to find something easier for them. Here is what I have found.
Everywhere I looked online they used them as teacher gifts. Great idea! One person put the mug together and then added truffles and coffee in a basket she shrink wrapped.
(To give credit where credit is due I found this on www.reallifeblog.net)

Cake in a Cup (makes 8)

18 ¼ oz. Chocolate Cake Mix (box, any brand)
3.9 oz. pkg. Instant chocolate pudding mix
3 c. powdered sugar, divided
4 ½ T. hot cocoa mix, divided
2 ¼ t. vanilla powder, divided (This is the only expensive ingredient, and can be left out if needed.)

Place dry cake mix and pudding mix in a large mixing bowl; mix together. Divide and place a ½ cup mix in 8 plastic sandwich bags; secure with twist ties and label as cake mix. Tuck one bag in a large mug that will hold at least 1 ½ cups of water. Because the cake is microwaved, be sure the cup doesn’t have any metal decorations on it. Place 1/3 cup powdered sugar, 1 ½ teaspoons hot cocoa mix and ¼ teaspoon vanilla powder in 8 plastic sandwich bags; secure with twist ties and label as glaze mix. Makes 8 individual mixes for coffee mugs.

Gift Tag (Tie onto the handle with raffia or ribbon)

Generously spray inside of coffee mug with nonstick vegetable spray. Empty contents of cake mix bag into mug and add one egg white, 1 Tablespoon oil and 1 Tablespoon water. Mix until well blended. Microwave on high for two minutes. While cake is baking place glaze mix in small mixing bowl and add 1 ½ teaspoons water, mix well. When cake is done, pour glaze over cake in cup and enjoy while warm

Fun idea!!!

Anyone else have any fun ideas for Christmas gifts or just fun things to do?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Geese Have Returned

The Geese have returned.
Sounds like a code between spies passing in the streets in a James Bond movie or something.
To me it is the announcement of the seasons turning to winter in my part of the world.

The sound of a gaggle of geese can be heard for a quite a little distance. In the distance black dots appear to be covering the field that had been a green expanse of peanut plants during the summer but now is just the bare ground with just a hint of the dried peanut hay that had escaped the claws of the baler. The geese gather in the open fields, thousands of noisy birds, returning year after year to the same location. They found our little community some years ago and began to grace us with the annual visit. I love to stand outside and hear them or find them in the field behind my own house. It is one of those sites and sounds that makes me appreciate living in the country, one of those things that make me think that one day I will look back on this time and miss them when the world around us has changed into whatever the future holds for us. Like Christmas carolers singing along the river walk, this is a nostalgic moment....remember it. These are Rockwell moments in our time like watching the dance recitals of my granddaughters and Kristen is inspecting the rafters over the stage while the other girls are going through their dance routine or Joel's expression at the Christmas program at church while they are lined up in a chorus of happy children singing angelically when he realizes that Eric has grabbed the microphone behind them and is singing into it with all of his heart.

Rockwell didn't just live in a perfect time in a perfect life therefore painting such fun times. No, actually living through a time of wars in the 20th century, once divorced, twice married,his art studio burned to the ground during his career, and given to moods he choose to paint a time that made us stop and cherish the moments in our lives. He wanted us to glean the good from the bad.

Slow down this season and enjoy the moment.
These times pass quickly and soon are forgotten unless we tag them in our memories.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Book Reviews

Dana sent me an invitation to join an online book club yesterday morning and I accepted. Now between my teaching, this blog, my facebook account, painting, cleaning, remodeling and of course being a wife, mother and grandmother I have one more thing to occupy my time. I did NOT list those in the order of importance.
If any of you are interested let me know. Dana and I will send you the link. It is called goodreads. I immediately began to find people I knew other than Dana.
If you like to read and want to know what others are reading this is a fun way to get the information.

Let me recommend a book now.
How Full is Your Bucket?
I wish I had read this when I was younger. This is a book about helping yourself be a happier person but while you are getting happier you are afffecting all those around you and helping them be happier. It is really simple. It is contagious.

While Lisa was here I gave her a copy of the book and it became the subject of most of our conversations. She would read a little and then come in and tell me all about it. It is based on those Gallop polls taken in the malls back in the 70's but the research was never used or published. The authors are a team, grandfather and grandson. The grandfather while dying of cancer talked his grandson into writing the book about his research. What a wonderful legacy to leave for the grandson and we all can benefit.

Fast read, interesting research and statistics. I rate it a must read by all.