If there is no rhyme or reason why something happens, there is no obvious explanation for it without any reasonable explanation or purpose.
Over at THE Motivation Station we are all striving to find the motivation to get our lives, families, jobs, clutter, homes, etc… under control. One of the things I have learned personally, is that despite our best intentions, life sometimes creeps up on us and hits over the head no matter how prepared and in control we think we are, just to show us that we are NOT in complete control!

While I’m still dealing with the BIG C, one of my inspirations is this qoute by Erma Bombeck.  Please remember to enjoy your life, your family and all you have – the power of positive thought can work.  By taking care of yourself first, you can be there for your family and friends when they need you. 

 IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER – by Erma Bombeck
(Written after she found out she was dying from cancer.)
I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, ‘Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.’ There would have been more ‘I love you’s’ – More ‘I’m sorry’s.’

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute. Look at it and really see it.  Live it and never give it back. STOP SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF!

Don’t worry about who doesn’t like you, who has more, or who’s doing what.  Instead, let’s cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us.

Come over and join us at THE Motivation Station to participate, be a new author and/or offer you thoughts and suggestions to living a motivated life.  See you there.


Last Monday Martha got us thinking about serious spring commitments over at THE MOTIVATION STATION and I wanted to expound on that theme with a little background of the season and the holidays within it and a great recipe to finish off the indulgences before our fast/lent begins.  You don’t have to be religious or Catholic to join us.
A king cake (sometimes rendered as kingcake, kings’ cake, king’s cake, or three kings cake) is a type of cake associated with the festival of Epiphany in the Christmas season in a number of countries, and in other places with Mardi Gras and Carnival.

The “king cake” takes its name from the biblical three kings. Catholic tradition states that their journey to Bethlehem took twelve days (the Twelve Days of Christmas), and that they arrived to honor the Christ Child on Epiphany. The season for king cake extends from the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Twelfth Night and Epiphany Day), through to Mardi Gras day. Some organizations or groups of friends may have “king cake parties” every week through the Carnival season.

Related culinary traditions are the tortell of Catalonia, the gâteau des Rois in Provence or the galette des Rois in the northern half of France, and the Greek and Cypriot vasilopita. The galette des Rois is made with puff pastry and frangipane (while the gâteau des Rois is made with brioche and candied fruits). A little bean was traditionally hidden in it, a custom taken from the Saturnalia in the Roman Empire: the one who stumbled upon the bean was called “king of the feast.” In the galette des Rois, since 1870 the beans have been replaced first by porcelain and, now by plastic figurines; while the gâteau des Rois Also known as “Rosca de Reyes” in Mexico.

In the southern United States, the tradition was brought to the area by colonists from France and Spain and it is associated with Carnival, which is celebrated in the Gulf Coast region, centered on New Orleans, but ranging from the Florida Panhandle to East Texas. King cake parties in New Orleans are documented back to the eighteenth century.

The king cake of the New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition comes in a number of styles. The most simple, said to be the most traditional, is a ring of twisted bread similar to that used in brioche topped with icing or sugar, usually colored purple, green, and gold (the traditional Carnival colors) with food coloring. Cajun king cakes are traditionally deep-fat-fried as a doughnut would be, and there are many variants, some with a filling, the most common being cream cheese and praline.

It has become customary in the New Orleans culture that whoever finds the trinket must provide the next king cake or host the next Mardi Gras party.

Some say that French settlers brought the custom to Louisiana in the 18th century where it remained associated with the Epiphany until the 19th century when it became a more elaborate Mardi Gras custom. In New Orleans, the first cake of the season is served on January 6. A small ceramic figurine of a baby is hidden inside the cake, by tradition. However now, the tradition is giving way to the baby being supplied and the customer placing the baby were ever they wish in the cake. Whoever finds the baby is allowed to choose a mock court and host the next King Cake party the following week (weekly cake parties were held until Mardi Gras).

The classic king cake is oval-shaped, like the pattern of a racetrack. The dough is basic coffee-cake dough, sometimes laced with cinnamon, sometimes just plain. The dough is rolled out into a long tubular shape (not unlike a thin po-boy), then shaped into an oval. The ends are twisted together to complete the shape  (HINT: if you want to find the piece with the baby, look for the twist in the oval where the two ends of the dough meet. That’s where the baby is usually inserted.) The baby hidden in the cake speaks to the fact that the three Kings had a difficult time finding the Christ Child and of the fine gifts they brought.

The cake is then baked, and decorated when it comes out. The classic decoration is simple granulated sugar, colored purple, green, and gold (the colors of Carnival). King cakes have gotten more and more fancy over the years, so now bakeries offer iced versions (where there’s classic white coffee cake glaze on the cake), and even king cakes filled with apple, cherry, cream cheese, or other kinds of coffee-cake fillings.

King Cake is traditionally served with chicory coffee’ as Coffee’ au lat’. It is best eaten warm and if you must break tradition, it can be eaten with ice cream, preferably chocolate.

King cakes are available at bakeries all over South Louisiana, but only after January 6 through Mardi Gras Day.

Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday” (in ethnic English tradition, Shrove Tuesday), referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which started on Ash Wednesday. Related popular practices were associated with celebrations before the fasting and religious obligations associated with the penitential season of Lent. Popular practices included wearing masks and costumes, overturning social conventions, dancing, sports competitions, parades, etc. Similar expressions to Mardi Gras appear in other European languages sharing the Christian tradition. In English, the day is called Shrove Tuesday, associated with the religious requirement for confession before Lent begins.

MARDI GRAS KING CAKE (makes 2 cakes)

1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon water

  • Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of the butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. 
  • In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  • When yeast mixture is bubbly, add the cooled milk mixture. 
  • Whisk in the eggs. 
  • Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. 
  • Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil.
  • Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. 
  • When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  • Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with SILPATS or parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins. 
  • Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.
  • Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10×16 inches). 
  • Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. 
  • Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. 
  • Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet. 
  • With sharp knife make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. 
  • Push the doll into the bottom of the cake. 
  • Decorate with beads.
  • Frost while warm with the glaze.


I originally wrote this post for a sister blog, THE Motivation Station, but thought it should be repeated to help make more people aware.  In the end it turns out that the virus was still transmitted via email via facebook from an unwitting family member (they don’t even know who they are).  There are some ugly computer viruses going on right now and they can cost you serious time and money.  I was without a computer and even a telephone since I use a VOIP for over 10 days total.  I lost data and peace of mind.  Knowing that I ran a top of the line internet security protection suite was of little solace in the end.  Knowing that large corporations are also being hit with the same virus only increased my sense of vulnerability.  Don’t take these things for granted and check your own system regularly.  Run daily scans and DO NOT OPEN anything remotely questionable whether you know who it came from or not – trust your gut.  I have yet to return to facebook on my computer and probably won’t, just not worth the risk.

So did you know there was a difference?  Yep, there is a difference.  Do you know what it is?  You’re not alone if you don’t, most people don’t.  I recently took my OLD computer into Best Buy for a check up and optimization.  After the diagnostic, they told me all I needed was an optimization to clean up old temporary internet files and “stuff” to help speed it up.  I run a top of the line anti-virus/internet security suite protection that the Geek Squad told me was working well.  They also told me the optimization would take an hour.  It took 7.  Then just a week later I was back.  My operating system had frozen up.  Now Best Buy and I have come to an agreement as of just this morning, but I was promised a computer on Wednesday mid-afternoon.  I picked it up Friday morning.  It was a comedy of errors that almost had a tragic ending and all because the particular members of this particular Best Buy’s Geek squad have the communication skills of a gnat and the integrity of the dirt on the gnat’s feet, but I digress.  My conversation after the initial diagnosis went something like this:

**He told me, “You have a virus.  Looks like it’s from a gaming site.”
I said, “I don’t visit gaming sites.”
He asked, “Do you use facebook?.”
I said, “Well sure, doesn’t everybody?”
He said, “Probably, but do you play their games, or watch you tubes?”
I said, “A few when I’m on hold or late at night watching TV.
He said, “That’ll do it.”
I said, “But isn’t facebook safe?”
He said, “For the most part, but the games and videos are separate entities, not always related to facebook,”
I said, “Why didn’t my virus scan catch it?”
He said, “You should also be running internet security.”
I said, “I thought I was.” “In fact I am.”
He said, “Yeah I see that now, top of the line too.  In that case I don’t know why it didn’t catch it.”
I asked, “How long will it take?”
He said, “Somewhere between 2-24 hours.  It’ll be ready tomorrow afternoon”

They promised to call and let me know when it would be ready on Wednesday morning.  Late Wednesday afternoon, I called them.  I was told the guy from the previous day didn’t understand the “scope” of the problem and it would be a few more hours, but she’d call me and let me know when I could pick it up.  Wednesday night came and went.  Thursday morning came and went.  I was trying to be patient!  But by Thursday evening my patience was worn thin and I showed up at their counter.  Now the guy I spoke with on Thursday evening was very sincere, nice and honest.  He also called me several hours later to keep me informed, but I still went home without my computer because it had several more hours to go.

My big problem is with the **guy who came out while we were talking, who listened to everything that I was saying and never once offered up that he was the guy I spoke with on the phone on Tuesday that set all the errors in motion, henceforth now known as the “problem child with no integrity”.  I also have a problem with the girl whose defense was that she emailed me the progress.  HELLO?? anyone home in there?  How did she expect me to check that email?  And why do they ask for a primary number to contact you at if they have no intention of using it?

When I picked up the computer, the Geek Squad supervisor happened to be on duty and we had a nice long chat.  Let’s just say he agreed with everything I had to say about their communication skills and integrity and he even took notes.  He then also split the difference on the very expensive repair and thanked me for giving him the necessary information he needed for better training and dealing with a “problem child” on his crew. He also told me that there are many new viruses that are piggy backing many otherwise reputable sites.  The biggest culprits are:

  • You Tube videos
  • Face Book, games especially! So be careful all you farmville fans!
  • Yahoo! search engines
  • and even Google search engines
The best way to understand it:
  • Antivirus software detects and cleans out virus infected files while Internet Security is a suite of applications that aims to protect users against threats from the internet while visitng internet sites.
  • Internet Security suites usually include an antivirus application among their other programs.
  • Internet security suites commonly includes a firewall, anti malware, anti spyware, and email protection programs.
  • Internet Security suites often cost more than stand-alone antivirus applications. So spend the money, it will be well spent!
  • Read more details here TREND MICRO.
Or for the simple analogy:  anti-virus is an antibiotic after you get the disease whereas Internet security is the multiple healthy steps to prevent the disease to begin with. 

And for those of you who are thinking what about using a MAC.  I also looked into MAC ‘cuz everyone keeps telling me they don’t get viruses which is a misnomer from what I read.  They should just add a big YET onto the end of that sentence.  The virus programmers just haven’t become proficient yet in writing for MAC.  There are MAC viruses out there.

Now for the good stuff:

2 Tablespoons butter + 1 Tablespoon butter
1 ounce Baker’s Bittersweet Chocolate
1 ounce Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate
1 1/4 ounce Baker’s sweet German chocolate
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon flour
1/8 scant teaspoon baking powder
1/8 scant teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in microwave safe ramekin for 30 seconds, add the bittersweet & semi-sweet chocolate and microwave in 30 second increments until you can stir it smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Mix together the egg and sugar and beat on high with a hand mixer until slightly thick and turns a dull yellow. Lower speed and add chocolate mixture to egg mixture. By hand stir in the flour mixture until consistent in color. Spoon into ramekins and bake on cookie sheet for 25 minutes or until centers are set. Just after you put these in, prepare the topping. Melt the other tablespoon of butter and then add the German sweet chocolate and melt until you can stir smooth. Just after the brownies come out of the oven, pour the topping over.

aprons 3