24 July 2011

Mosaic Monday-The Garden

The heat is killing nearly everything in our garden.  A few hardy breeds are braving the heat well.  Here's a tribute to those plants who can shake a fist at the sun!

And, look who came to visit!


Go visit Little Red House for more mosaics!

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20 July 2011

The Gobbler's Roost

My PEO sisters and I visited Cottey College in Nevada (Missouri). PEO does a lot of charitable work with Cottey College and we wanted to see where our money goes! We loved our tour and was very impressed with what Cottey offers young women in our state. If you have a daughter who is nearing college age, it is well worth a trip.


Afterwards we treated ourselves to The Gobbler's Roost, a quaint restaurant in the countryside of Nevada. We had a private seating and was served beef tips, fingerling potatoes and asparagus. Dessert was a blueberry crepe. The food was well prepared and well plated. The dinner plate was garnished with lemon sage and the dessert plate was decorated with a marigold.


Not only is the food great, the place was decorated to take advantage of the country atmosphere.  Wild flowers decorated each table.   The main dining room was filled with antiques.  The stained concrete floor was stamped with....turkey prints!



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19 July 2011

Baked Oatmeal

I confessed last week that I was a fast food breakfast junkie. That is not something I am proud of so this summer one of my things-to-do-in-my-nightgown was to find breakfast recipes I could make in advance, then carry with me to school to eat. I found a recipe for Baked Oatmeal that seemed like it would be a great breakfast

I love oatmeal. I am not fond of the instant oatmeal packets, however, finding them too creamy or mushy or something. This recipe uses real oats which interested me right away. Plus, all the ingredients are just mixed together and baked in a pan... so simple!


Baked Oatmeal

1 1/2 c quick or old fashioned oatmeal
1/4 c Eggbeaters (or 1 real egg)
1 t vanilla
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3/4 c milk
3/4 c peanut butter (I used Chocolate Dream and Jeanne suggested Nutella)
1/4 packed brown sugar
3 T aguave nectar (or 1/4 c white sugar)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray 9 by 13 pan with Pam. Mix all ingredients together well. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until edges are brown and firm. The oatmeal has a cake like texture.

Here's the best part: Serve with hot or cold. You can add warmed milk or syrup or sprinkle mini chocolate chips on it. Sliced bananas would be great, too!

WW points: a 3/4 cup serving (without toppings or milk) is 4 points.

17 July 2011

Mosaic Monday-Kylene's Wedding!

This weekend was the celebration of  the wedding of Kylene and Matt.  Kylene is the daughter of my good friend Marsha.  It was everything one would wish for in a wedding, chic, modern, glamorous and FUN!

The wedding colors were a deep eggplant and silver.  The flowers were white and a part was that each of the six attendants carried a different bouquet of white flowers.  While each attendant wore matching gowns, they had individual crystal brooches on the scarf of the dress.

The reception was so fun!  It made me think of what wedding receptions in the 1920s might have looked like...with passed hors d' ouerves and cocktails.   The mosaic below shows our Girls Night Out group enjoying the reception (we had a lot of fun in the photo booth!) and some highlights of the wedding.

Kylene's wedding

Each of the cake's layers was a different cake and filling.  Yum.  There was a mashed-tini station with various different mashed potatoes and mac and cheese, a sliders station and a salad station.  Each had their food in adorable glassware.  The food presentation was lovely!

Joining Mary at Mosaic Monday!

16 July 2011

Ice Cream Social

I heard about this wonderful Ice Cream Social (blogger style) from my friends Vee and Pam that I really should have known about since I am a follower of the hostess, Suzy at Kitchen Bouquet. Thank goodness I have a few wonderful ice cream recipes ready to go! I was a participant last year, too, with this dessert I had in St. Louis.

Did you know tomorrow is National Ice Cream Day, too?  According to Wikipedia, in 1984 Ronald Reagan declared July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday in July to be celebrated as National Ice Cream Day!

I am sharing with you today a remarkably easy, tasty frozen concoction that is not only yummy but good for you!

Frozen Banana "Ice Cream"

1 banana, ripe, sliced


Yep, that's it.  Now freeze that sliced banana solid.  Maybe even overnight.  I didn't have to do anything to the slices.  Process the frozen slices until the mixture is creamy.  I scooped out the mixture with my Pampered Chef medium sized baller and placed the scoops on waxed paper and refroze them for a bit (just for the photo) but I would probably just serve it right away.

Things you can do differently:  add 1 T of vanilla flavored yogurt, 1 T vanilla or chocolate soy milk, 1 T fat free Half and Half, etc.  These would add creaminess to the banana but I don't think you need it.  Other recipes I have seen using this method do include some dairy.


You can add in some peaches, blueberries, mini chocolate chips... be as creative as you'd like!

Since you have broken down the fiber some, WW assigns this dessert 1 point. 

15 July 2011

Egg "McMuffin" Revisited

I love fast food breakfast.  I am sure it is because I leave the house around 5:45 and I am not really interested in food that early, but once I have been in the car for 30 minutes I am ready for breakfast.  My favorites are Sonic's breakfast burrito, Mc Donald's egg mcmuffin and Burger King's ham, egg,  and cheese croissandwich.  I know all of these are not the healthiest and spending a couple of dollars is not the way I want to have breakfast each day.  So I have been experimenting with fast food breakfast at home.

Why make one when you can make six in the same amount of time?  By baking the eggs in a muffin tin I get a nice round egg.  I spray my six cup muffin tin with butter flavored Pam.  I pour 1/4 c of Eggbeaters into each cup and bake them at 350 for about 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.  While the eggs are cooking, I split and toast my whole wheat English muffins, unwrap my no-fat American cheese,  and separate the canadian bacon (I buy the fully cooked version, at about 50 calories a slice).  When the eggs are done, I assemble them and place them on a cookie sheet and freeze them individually for about an hour.  I wrap them in aluminum foil sheets and then place into a freezer bag and freeze fully.


To reheat, Bob preheats the oven when he takes the dogs out and places two of the sandwiches (minus the freezer bags!) in the oven.  They heat for about 25 minutes, or about the time we are leaving.  I can save mine until I get to school (yep, still is warm) and eat!

Money wise:  $.89 for the canadian bacon, $1.99 for 6 whole wheat English muffins, $2.00 for the eggs (approximately) and $.60 for the cheese.  The foil is about $.10 for the six sheets.  I didn't count the bags because they are reusable.  So, about $4.60 for the six sandwiches, not counting the heating costs (which could be swapped for the fuel costs of going to McD's!).

Ashley and Eric gave Bob a toaster for his birthday than imprints the Packer's logo on your toast!  Isn't it cute?

Weight Watchers calculator says these are worth 5 points.  (the regular McMuffin is 8, but the sausage one is 12).  The best part is less saturated fat and salt with a higher fiber content.

Next experiment is the Sonic breakfast burrito!

14 July 2011

Mexican Cruise 2011

Sometimes things just work out.

I really wanted Bob to take a little vacation to celebrate his 32 years in public education.  He said that he'd be happy with the Ohio River Valley vacation.  I believe he would have, too, but I really wanted him to have this special opportunity.  It was looking really doubtful though, since we only had a few days between my summer school and Bob's first day at Columbia College.

I was reading Facebook and saw Marsha's post about her cruise on the QMII.  It got me thinking about going on a cruise with Bob, something we haven't done for ages.  I started looking on the internet for a cruise that would fit into this very small window and then, I found it.

A three day cruise to the wine country in Mexico.  How appropriate!  How perfect!  How timely!

I was able to secure our passage on the cruise and snag some great fares on the airlines.  Bob booked us a hotel to stay at before the cruise left and to stay at the QMI (Queen Mary I) for the fourth of July.  Kind of neat since Marsha and Ron were going to be on the QMII and it was her post that got me thinking!

We spent one night on Long Beach just walking around the beach and looking at the yachts.  We had a quick dinner of pasta and bay scallops (delish) and then did a bit of shopping.  We stayed at the most darling boutique hotel, the Varden.  I have never had such service in a hotel.  Fabulous.




The hotel staff suggested a breakfast place before we boarded on our cruise.  We had a fabulous omelet that had bay scallops, shrimp and crab in it.  Who knew you could have seafood for breakfast!  We went back to the beach, walked around and Bob stopped for some coffee.  That's when it all started to unravel.  Bob dropped his wallet (unaware) and we had walked all the way back to the hotel before he discovered it.  He immediately went downstairs to the hotel staff and they called the shop where Bob used his credit card last.  Yes, a woman had found it but was reluctant to leave it at the shop.  They knew what she looked like and would try to find her.  In the mean time, Bob called a taxi and went back to the shop.  The security at the shopping area could not find her.  Bob calls me and says, call home.  Maybe she called us.  So I did, and SHE did!  She left her cell phone number.  So I give the number to Bob.  She tells Bob she has given his wallet to the Long Beach police.  The hotel staff calls the police department and makes contact with the police officer who has the wallet.  Bob and the officer arrange to meet at a local bar (incidently, a bar that has the most drafts in one place in the world.  Coincidence?)  I pack us up, the hotel staff helps me get a taxi and everything put into it and I meet Bob at the bar.  The officer meets up with Bob and gives him the wallet.  Everything is there.

Amazing.  Good people are left in this world Everyone!

We board our cruise, happy that our vacation wasn't ruined.  We find our cabin and then go and eat lunch and lounge around for three days!  The wine tour was beautiful.  We had not seen such rugged country growing such delicate fruit.  We are really psyched to see the wine field in France now!







We met some wonderful people at our dinner table.  Michelle and Warren Smith were from Rodondo Beach and were delightful.  Michelle is a professor of Chinese Linguistics at Berkeley.  Warren works for Boeing.  Both were so interested in public education.  We were interested in their knowledge of the Chinese culture.  Fabulous dinner couple!

After a day at sea, we were ready to celebrate the Fourth of July in Long Beach!  I was ready to explore our hotel, which is a National Landmark.  We loved all the old stuff!  We went to a fair at the ship, ate some fair food (Thai tacos, funnel cakes and ribbon potatoes) and then secured our place to watch the fireworks.  On Facebook the QMI said there were over 4,000 people on the ship watching them!


We got home just in time to do laundry and pack for Ohio.  Now we are both at home, ready to enjoy the rest of July!

Linking up to   http://decortoadore.blogspot.com/

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13 July 2011

The Ohio River Valley Vacation

Our family vacation to the Ohio River Valley was so incredibly relaxing and peaceful.  I don't know when the last time I had such a vacation, unless it was the Mexican cruise the day before!  (more about that one later!)


We heard about these cabins from our good friends Pat and Emily who visit annually over New Year's Eve.  The Colucci Cabins are located in a tiny village in Indiana called Magnet.  It is situated right on the Ohio River with the Hoosier National Forest surrounding it.  Our cabin looked right across the river into Kentucky!  We stayed in Moondance.  Ash sang It's a Wonderful Night for a Moondance many times!

We spent our days looking at the river, reading, looking at the river, taking pictures of wildlife, and eating.  There was a hot tub to enjoy as well, which we did.

How did that picture of Huxley get into this wildlife mosaic?  Snicker.  He was an active participant in the vacation but you can see he likes his relaxation time as well!  I love my bird shots.  I spent a lot of time photographing birds!  I spotted the deer but Ashley got the shot!

The river itself is so beautiful.  From sun up to sun down the river gave us such beauty.  Bob and I captured these photos during different times...






As gorgeous as it was, it was all about the relaxation.  Enjoying each other's company.  Talking and answering Probing Questions.  Discussing books.  Discussing what to eat.  Working on a possible book.  It was so nice to see everyone so relaxed!




After our time on the river, Bob headed to JC to get ready to start his new job at Columbia College and I stayed behind to help Ashley get her office at IU organized and decorated.  More on that later!

Check out Ashley's take on the same vacation on her blog at A Hasty Life!

Joining Wayfaring Wednesday this week!

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12 July 2011

Bloomington Blooming cinnamon rolls


Ash and I made this easy and delicious cinnamon pull apart bread this morning. I think you will really enjoy it if you give it a try!

1 unsliced round loaf sourdough bread

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make Vanilla Honey Butter: Whip butter and 1/4 cup powdered sugar together until smooth; stir in honey and vanilla. Set aside. (You can use regular butter if desired)

Cut the bread lengthwise into 1/2" slices, without cutting through the bottom crust. Spread vanilla honey butter in between slices. Rotate the bread 90 degrees and slice the bread again into 1/2" pieces, without cutting through the bottom crust. Spread more vanilla honey butter in between new cuts. This doesn't need to be perfect - just make sure there is lots of butter in between all the cuts. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Generously sprinkle in between all cuts. (You may have extra butter and cinnamon sugar. It will just depend on how large your bread loaf is.)

Wrap in foil; place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until bread is warm. Unwrap cinnamon bread and place on serving platter. Combine powdered sugar and milk - adding milk until you get the consistency desired. Drizzle icing over bread and serve immediately.