30 December 2016

Top Five for 2016

Our Good Life had a good year in 2016.  As I reflected on the work I did and what you, the readers of this blog liked, it seems that you are as eclectic as me, and that makes me very happy.  In no particular order, I give to you the most popular posts of the year!

This recipe is on over 600 boards in Pinterest.  This is a solid recipe that hit at the perfect time, Easter, when people are planning their Easter breakfast meals.  Delicious, too.

This is my area of personal expertise and one of my life's passions.  School has always been a place where I could serve the children of my community and I will continue to do so, even though I am retired.  

The place where I live is so beautiful that I love to share it with the world.  I am glad you like it, too!

Such a retro dish!  My mom made this for my family many times while I was growing up.  So happy to share it with you again!

This is my top pin of the year as well.  This sweet, easy craft that helps serve our bee population sure got a lot of attention and I am glad.  Our bees deserve it!

I find it very fitting that the things I enjoy writing about are represented in your favorites.  Cooking, school, gardening and home decor.  You can certainly be assured that I will continue to write about these things in 2017 plus maybe a few new topics that I am starting to love:  organizing, hand lettering and being the best I can be.  I hope you come along for the ride!

19 December 2016

Christmas is for the Dogs

Truman is set for the holidays this year.  He loves the Christmas tree and sits by it every night.  He pushes over a pillow to make a comfy spot and can lay there for hours!

He never bothers the ornaments or pulls on the tree skirt. He is perfectly happy just laying there beside it.  Such a sweet boy.

Wilson loves the fireplace and the bed.  He likes the tree, but he always finds a spot on the bed to take his nap.  Often he drags up an article of clothing to snuggle with!

What the two do agree on is that they love the snacks from chewy.com!  This month they tried the Bone Marrow treats from Wellness.  These are small, round treats with a meaty marrow on the inside. They really loved getting this as a snack, if their dancing around the treat bowl was any indication!

They are only 5 calories per treat, gluten free, and evidently very tasty.  Wilson is always watching his weight and Truman has some tummy issues, so this was a treat that I was happy to give them!

Thanks to our friends at chewy.com who send us treats to try.  We rarely come across one we don't like.  That's because Chewy.com knows its pets!

Merry Christmas!

09 December 2016

Sugarfree Cranberry Juice

My daughter and I are a big fan of the Christmas cocktail called Poinsettia.  It is a simple cocktail of vodka, champagne, cranberry juice and some orange zest.  We made it for the first time a few years ago and it has been a semi tradition ever since.

I had a bag of leftover cranberries and rather than waste them, I made them into juice for our cocktails.  It was super simple and I know our cocktails will taste wonderful due to the fresh taste of our juice!

1 12 oz bag fresh cranberries
4 c water

Pour water into a large kettle.  Add cranberries.  Bring to a boil.  When cranberries begin to pop, continue to cook on the stovetop for 10 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes, then pour into a food processor or blender.  Blend until smooth.  Strain juice into a jar.  Store in the refrigerator.

The juice is very tart, since it is sugar free.  You will want to add 2 teaspoons of sugar per cup of juice when you are ready to use the juice.  I plan to use Stevia in mine.

For the cocktail:

1/4 c vodka
1/4 c Champagne
1/2 c cranberry juice
1 t sugar or 2 pkg Stevia
crushed ice
1 2" section of orange peel

You can do this two ways:  fill shaker with crushed ice, add ingredients, shake until cold, pour/strain into a red wine glass, top with orange peel.  Two:  add ingredients to red wine glass, add ice, stir until cold, top with orange peel.  It boils down to whether you want ice in your drink or not.

Delicious drink, not overly sweet, and very refreshing!

08 December 2016

Show Me Your Christmas Tree~St. Charles

This post is part of a series from the Missouri Women Bloggers called "Show Me Your Christmas Tree."  It is my privilege to host such wonderful bloggers from all around the state.  Enjoy your tour and Merry Christmas to all!

We come from all parts of the "Show Me State" and I am so excited to get to work with women as talented as these.  Be sure to check out their beautiful trees through the links below.

Each blog will be showing you their tree, some ornaments, and a decorating hint that might help you with your decorating.  The hint will be in italics and easy for you to find!

My hint:  Set the mood.  Even when you love it as much as I do, the tree decorating is hard work.  Find some good music, have a snack and your favorite beverage nearby.  Take a moment to dance to your favorite tune when it pops up and rest as needed.  

Nostalgia sets in as my husband and I set up our tree this year.  I miss having a little one underfoot while we try to set up the tree.  Tree decorating used to take hours, now it is just the better part of an hour to get the tree decorated from the top to the bottom.

In the past I have decorated as many as thirteen (13) trees in our home.  This year I made a special effort to concentrate the number of trees to four.  Our living tree has nearly 300 ornaments on it, but it is full of love and the memories I have made with special people in my life.  The other trees are a breast cancer tree, my daughters beach tree, and a Mizzou (Missouri) tree.  I have two ceramic trees in my house, one made by my mother in the 1970s and the other purchased at a farmer's market this summer.

I would love to share with you our Living Room Christmas tree.  I love this tree for a variety of reasons.  This is the tree that sums up our 41 years of courtship and marriage.  It tells of friends of present and past, vacations, handmade ornaments by friends and family, anniversary ornaments, ornaments that share memories with my PEO sisters, DAR daughters, my Bunco friends and a special group of ladies I met years ago, all online, through the Gooseberry Patch forums.  I love those ladies like sisters.  For years we have made ornaments for each other and I have them all!  I have ornaments that span the time I taught and all the buildings my husband and I were in as administrators.  This tree represents most of the good times we have shared together over the years.

Although this is just a small representation of the ornaments we have, it does show our span.  Take a look at these special ones on our tree.

1.  My 2016 ornament.  It looks like a marquee sign when it is lit.  So fun!
2.  This actually shows two ornaments, one from my fiesty friend Ashley and one I made my group who share ornaments every year.
3.  An ornament I made in 1977 from a kit I purchased.  I love this little Santa.  You can also see an ornament given to me from my husband when I joined P.E.O.
4.  Our Tenth Anniversary ornament purchased by my husband. You can't see it well, but there is an ornament made by one of the GLU girls.  It is a figgy pudding!
5.  One of the first ornaments we purchased together.
6.  We last went to Disney World in 2000.  We are going again in a week!
7.  This reindeer was made by my grandpa in the 80s.  I adore it.

If you love Christmas trees as much as I do, please go and check all of these wonderful trees our by our Missouri Women Bloggers!  Have a favorite?  Share with me in the comments.  Merry Christmas!

05 December 2016

Fireball Bites #TasteCreations

For our December food, we selected sugar since we all love our holiday sweets!  Our bloggers have some tasty treats for you using real sugar.  We know that sugar isn't as healthy as other options, so be sure you are consuming it in moderation.  Sugar is my weakness.  I always have room for a sweet!

I was inspired by Cathy at My Side of 50 for this recipe.  She tells a darling story about her grandmother on this post.  Go and check it out.

My grandmother story is slightly different.  My great grandmother, Lula Belle Wilson, liked booze and often added it to recipes, most often her delicious eggnog.  When my momma was a little girl, Lula often told her to stay out of the eggnog.  My mom decided then that HER eggnog would never have booze in it so that everyone could enjoy it.  And as far as I know, it never has had any, except what we might pour in our individual glasses!

For my recipe, I used my bourbon ball recipe and exchanged the bourbon for Fireball.  It's a simple switch out.  If you aren't into including alcohol, I can't help you with an exchange, because I haven't tried anything else!

Fireball Bites

by Our Good Life
  • 1 (12-oz.) package vanilla wafers, finely crushed
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup Fireball whiskey
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • Powdered sugar
Stir together first 4 ingredients in a large bowl until well blended.
2. Stir together Fireball and corn syrup until well blended. Stir together Fireball mixture and wafer mixture. Dough should be stiff and hold its shape.  Shape into 1-inch balls; roll in powdered sugar. Let set for 10 minutes and recover with powdered sugar. Cover and chill up to 2 weeks.
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Visit these other lovely blogs for their yummy recipes.  I am sure you will find the perfect dessert for your holiday gathering!

Mom Home Guide  Festive Strawberry Pie

An Italian in my Kitchen  Simple Chocolate Sugar Cookies

and Tikkido  Browned Butter Sugar Cookies

02 December 2016

A Sentence A Day~ November

When I learned about writing a sentence a day for journaling, I knew it was something I wanted to do.  I was right, because here I am today, still doing it! This is my seventh month and I don't think I will be slowing down anytime soon. It's just one sentence a day, although, trying to summarize the day's events and emotions into one sentence is challenging.

For past editions of the A Sentence A Day journaling, check out these links: MayJuneJuly,  AugustSeptember and October.

November 1.  The day after a wonderful Halloween, yet I felt driven to take down all the Halloween decorations inside and out and get my Thanksgiving items up, front and center.

November 2.  Working with teachers who are in it for the students, makes me feel like I am in it for them and that makes us all want to work harder!

November 3.  Going to see Shakespeare with my English major husband, makes me appreciate his knowledge about the subject, especially when it is McBeth.

November 4. Unusual date night for us started with dinner at a new restaurant with great cocktails, then headed over to the Lindenwood University women's volleyball game.

November 5. One of the best days I have had in my life, as an idea I had came to fruition and benefited many people in my community in a very positive way!

November 6.  A day of rest after a big day is a gift that I should have been giving myself LONG before this.

November 7. Rainy days and Mondays...don't always get me down but today was a rather lazy day.

November 8.  I voted today, and while the crowds were historical, I felt an unease about the event, like things were going to change, and maybe not for the better.

November 9.  The day after the election, and now I realize that I am living in an America I do not know. A man was elected President with a campaign filled with race bashing, immigrant hating, and gay bashing rhetoric that makes me frightened for family and friends.  I'll be praying more now than ever.

November 10.  I love birthdays, and they are even more special when you get to celebrate a milestone with a very special friend.

November 11.  I am in the thralls of making ornaments and am having a blast being creative around my favorite holiday, Christmas!

November 12.  Our date night was to see Anthony Bordain at the Fox and wow, he is a dynamic speaker!

November 13.  Lazy, easy, peaceful, restful day.

November 14.  When I am designing lessons for my college students, I have a high that is not unlike a runner's high.

November 15.  A perfectly poached egg will make my day!

November 16.  My momma is in the hospital and I am all messed up inside with worry.

November 17.  The day of my birth is celebrated by my mom being dismissed from the hospital with good reports and a lovely dinner in a romantic spot with my husband.

November 18. I enjoy reading a book while sitting outside, looking up now and again to see the ducks on the lake and the play of the wind across the water.

November 19.  Dinner with friends who understand how to be kind to waitstaff is such a blessing, especially when your server is brand new to the field.

November 20.  I love the symphony, sitting back and letting the music roll over my brain, seeping in the cracks and kissing my neurons.

November 21.  I had the best belly laugh today when the 80 year old woman who was driving me decided to go down the center lane because "this looks like fun!"

November 22.  Ashley and Eric are home and the house feels alive!

November 23.  Our Thanksgiving dinner as a family is special and sweet.

November 24.  I live for this Thanksgiving of traditional foods that mean comfort, family, and love, even if they are not gourmet and fancy.

November 25.  I love it when my husband joins in with enthusiasm for decorating for Christmas along with me.

November 26.  Ashley and Eric are back after visiting his folks in Jefferson City, so we shopped and hung around Frontenac Mall for awhile before going home and just enjoying each other's company!

November 27.  I had a Christmas Cookie Exchange and with my husband's help, even though he was up late with a band gig, was a huge success!

November 28.  This was such a lovely day, then I remembered I had a presentation to do for a school that was four hours away for the next day and that changed the whole dynamic of my day since traveling four hours and logistics were having to be made.

November 29.  Major snafu on my part caused the workshop I was giving to be cancelled and I really feel bad about how I let that district down.

November 30.  Still feeling bad about my snafu this week but my Classroom Management class was so eager to learn tonight that I felt myself relaxing and enjoying their conversation.

So while November ended on a weak note, I surely loved my birthday month.  Consider doing your own A Sentence A Day journal.  It is super easy and yet challenging to summarize your day into one sentence.  Let me know if you decide to do it in the comments.  What a wonderful New Year's thing to do!