HAPPY NEW YEAR 2023 ~ The word is RESILIENT PROGRESS! ~ BLOG 365.1

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Last year I joined up with Jean over at Chit Chat with Jean to do a year long accomplishment list for 2022 and a word for the year. I wondered if I would be successful? I’m impressed that I did REALLY well and I’m looking forward to doing this all over again in 2023. I fell back FINALLY into my more organized ways. The minimalizing lifestyle helped tremendously!!
I recently took one of those silly Facebook games and it said my word was RESILIENCE, but I like PROGRESS better. Or better yet, both words for RESILIENT PROGRESS! Then I saw this meme and decided to add BALANCE! I truly believe all three words work hand in hand to make life easier and happier.

My list for 2023 is:

  • Do a Happy Homemaker Monday post each and every week and link up with Sandra over at Diary Of A Stay At Home Mom. This keeps me more on track and organized about my home life. Doing Happy Homemaker Monday so extensively helps keep me on track as it summarizes the past week and lays out a fairly concise plan for this week. I have also decided the join Sandra over at Diary Of A Stay At Home Mom for her Blog 365 challenge. A blog post every single day of 2023!  Sometimes the post might be a full one but other times it might simply be a picture.I may not always get the logo in, but I will get the post done!
  • Do a devotional every day.
  • Follow a nightly skincare regime.
  • Complete 4 quilts – at least 1 for each quarter. This year is starting off right with these 2 Christmas beauties being bound. I have several others that are 90% done, but need bindings and I’m hoping to get to them soon.
  • Make a better effort to reach out and connect with friends and family more regularly.
  • Learn YOGA or Pilates or both!
  • Take at least a 2 mile walk daily. While I USUALLY get this done in just my daily routine, it is something I need to be more conscious of accomplishing.
  • Continue to downsize and declutter EVERYTHING. This is a serious work in progress that has taken ALL 2022, BUT IS GOING REALLY WELL and will be done by March when we are planning a HUGE garage sale.
  • Clean out photo files that date back 13 years! I’m working on it, but it’s really hard. This is a serious work in progress that will ALWAYS take ALL year, EVERY YEAR, mainly because I keep taking pictures 😀
  • Create Shutterfly photo albums for 2022, 2021, 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016.
  • Do more drawing and painting – at least one per every other month.
  • Focus on rewriting more recipes to work for only 2 people with NO leftovers. This is a work in progress, but doing REALLY well so far. It has been seriously complicated by the increase in grocery prices 🙁
  • Volunteer at least once a month for a community project. Since I’ve gotten more involved in the Eagles this is a category I accomplish regularly.
  • Do a date weekend once a month – exploring a new place we’ve never been before.
  • Clean out old files and recycle or destroy old papers. This is still an ongoing work in progress, but I’ve made seriously good progress in 2022 and will finish through the winter and spring.
  • Eat at least 1 piece of fruit daily.
  • I’m all about leading a positive life and carrying the Christmas spirit year round. There is no better way to do that than to do at least 1 random act of kindness every time I leave the house.
  • Read 36 books. Hoping for double this year over last year! 36 was a realistic goal and I actually reached 59 which makes me REALLY happy!  Here’s a list of the books I have in queue – a baker’s dozen+ to get this year started. When I’ve actually read them I’ll change their number to red. 1) A Fire Sparkling by Juliane Maclean 2) The Honey Bus by Meredith May 3) When It Falls Apart by Catherine Bybee 4) The Brighter the Light by Mary Ellen Taylor 5) The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen Marie Wiseman 6) The Woman with Two Shadows by Sarah James 7) The Silent Woman by Minka Kent 8) Waking Kate by Sarah Addison Allen 9) Real Bad Things by Kelly J. Ford 10) The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff 11) The D’Angelos by Catherine Bybee 12) Brewed Book #1 in the Cozy Coffee Shop series by Heather Sage 13) Cauldrons Call by Kristen Proby 14) The Resistance Girl by Mandy Robotham 15) Someone to Hold Wild Widows #2 by Marie Force. 16) State of Shock, First Family #4 by Marie Force
  • I’ve added a “SEASONAL” list too. I started with fall that you can see here. And a simple winter list is here.

  • Finish indexing the recipes on my Food blog, Savory Kitchen Table. This is a serious work in progress and hold over from 2022 that WILL take ALL year.
  • Finish indexing the recipes on my Life blog, Chasing MY Life. When I merged my old blogspot blogs into this single blog it duplicated many things and added an “ALL” category that I am having to eliminate one by one so it’s taking a LONG time. This is a serious work in progress and roll over from 2022 that WILL take ALL year.

2022 IN REVIEW as 2023 LOOMS AHEAD

I joined up with Jean over at Chit Chat with Jean to do an accomplishment list for 2022 and a word for the year. This is my year in review. I wondered if I would be successful? I’m impressed that I did REALLY well. I’m also looking forward to doing this all again in 2023. I fell back FINALLY into my more organized ways. The minimalizing lifestyle has helped tremendously!!

My list for 2022 is:

  • Do a Happy Homemaker Monday post each and every week. This keeps me more on track and organized about my home life. Doing Happy Homemaker Monday so extensively helps keep me on track as it summarizes the past week and lays out a fairly concise plan for this week. DONE
  • Do 1-2 devotionals every day. DONE, but not as consistent as I’d like 🙁
  • Follow a nightly skincare regime – DONE
  • Complete 4 quilts – at least 1 for each quarter. 1 and 2 Christmas quilt wall hangings (tree and Santa) done, but need binding, 3 Snowman lap quilt, and 4 and 5 batik table runners in opposing colors are done and a batik table runner.
  • Learn YOGA or Pilates or both! These are going to continue to be a work in progress.
  • Make a better effort to reach out and connect with friends and family more regularly. This is AND ALWAYS WILL BE a work in progress.
  • Take at least a 2 mile walk daily. DONE most days
  • Continue to downsize and declutter EVERYTHING. This is a serious work in progress that has taken ALL year and isn’t done yet, BUT IS GOING REALLY WELL and will be done by next March when we are planning a HUGE garage sale.
  • Clean out photo files that date back 13 years! I’m working on it, but it’s really hard. This is a serious work in progress that will ALWAYS take ALL year, EVERY YEAR, mainly because I keep taking pictures 😀
  • Create Shutterfly photo albums for 2022, 2021, 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016. Yet to do 😀 but this WILL get done in January.
  • Go through scrap recipe tote and eliminate all the recipes I will never try – they’re just not worth saving. DONE
  • Do more drawing and painting – at least one per month. I’m still working on a few of these, but did complete several, one of which was for a Ukranian fund raiser. And hubby and I did one for a date night outing where we went to the afternoon class then dinner out 😀 Neither one of us liked it though so I’m not even posting it 🙁
  • Focus on rewriting more recipes to work for only 2 people with NO leftovers. This is a work in progress, but doing REALLY well so far. It has been seriously complicated by the increase in grocery prices 🙁
  • Volunteer at least once a month for a community project. DONE TO DATE I have gotten quite involved at the Eagles post doing various projects. I cooked dinner several times in 2022, helped with the Christmas parade float, food and presents for needy families, cleaned up a WAY OVERGROWN yard of an elderly friend in AUGUST as well as some grocery runs and various other projects.
  • Do a date weekend once a month – exploring a new place we’ve never been before. I’d like to say we’ve been really good about this, but it’s only happened a few times so far this past year, but three of those were 3 day trips so that counts extra right 😀 1) RICOTTA class at a local winery 2) BURGERS & BEER at a local brewery that opened a new BURGER BOMB food truck 3) Romantic dinner at a favorite Italian restaurant 4) We spent 2 days at a resort near Lassen National Park hiking and exploring 5) We spent 2 more days at Mt. Shasta also hiking and exploring 6) Afternoon paint class then dinner out at a favorite little rooftop bistro we like 😀 7) Trip to Silver Falls to go hiking and exploring and RELAXING 😀 8) Trip to Coos Bay for Shore Acres Light Show where we stayed at a cute little house on Oyster Cove
  • Clean out old files and recycle or destroy old papers. This is still an ongoing work in progress, but I’ve made seriously good progress and will finish through the winter and spring.
  • Clean out craft cabinets and donate craft parts no longer needed. DONE
  • Eat at least 1 piece of fruit daily. DONE
  • Do at least 1 random act of kindness every time I leave the house. DONE
  • Finish indexing the recipes on my Food blog, Savory Kitchen Table. This is a serious work in progress that WILL take ALL year into next year.
  • Finish indexing the recipes on my Life blog, Chasing MY Life. When I merged my old blogspot blogs into this single blog it duplicated many things and added an “ALL” category that I am having to eliminate one by one so it’s taking a LONG time. This is a serious work in progress that WILL take ALL year into next year.
  • Read 36 books. Was hoping for double, but this was a realistic goal and now looks like I actually reached 59 which makes me REALLY happy! The books in blue are works in progress and will be moved to the 2023 list to begin the year. 1) State of Grace by Marie Force, 2) Swamp Sweets by Jana DeLeon, 3) Beside Golden Irish Fields by Ava Miles, 4) What Child Is This by Rhys Bowen, 5) Women and Children First by Gill Paul, 6) Return to Sender by Jennifer Peel, 7) The Cape May Garden by Claudia Vance, 8) South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber, 9) A Home for Unloved Orphans by Rachel Wesson and 10) All My Loving by Marie Force 11) Wild Widows by Marie Force 12) Return to Sender by Jennifer Peel 13) In Name Only by Jennifer Peel 14) Flame & Fortune by Jana DeLeon 15) The Restaurant by Pamela Kelley 16) Here, There & Everywhere by Marie Force 17) Someone Like You by Marie Force 18) Beach House Romance by Cora Seton 19) Return to Sender by Jennifer Peel 20) In Name Only by Jennifer Peel 21) Silent Partner by Jennifer Peel 22) The Wedding Charm by Susan Hatler 23) The Girl From the Channel Islands 24) Breakfast at the Honey Creek Cafe by Jodi Thomas 25) The Book of Sorrel by Jennifer Peel 26) Written in the Stars by Noelle Fox 27) The Restaurant by Pamela Kelley 28) Secrets Hidden in the Glass by Cate Beauman 29) Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger 30) The Woman with the Blue Star by Pan Jenoff 31) The Lost Girls by Pam Jenoff 32) The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin 33) The Resistance Girl by Mandy Robotham 34) The Stationmaster’s Cottage, #1 Rivers End by Phillipa Nefri Clark 35) Accidentally Matched An Alaska Matchmaker Series by Cathryn Brown #1 36) Finally Matched An Alaska Matchmaker Series by Cathryn Brown #2 37) Hopefully Matched An Alaska Matchmaker Series by Cathryn Brown #3 38) A Fire Sparkling by Juliane Maclean 39) The Resistance Girl by Mandy Robotham 40) Jasmine Sea, #2 in the Rivers End series by Phillipa Nefri Clark 41) Palmerston House, #3 in the Rivers End series by Phillipa Nefri Clark 42) Last Known Contact by Phillipa Nefri Clark 43) The Honey Bus by Meredith May 44) Deadly Falls #1 Charlotte Dean Mysteries by Phillipa Nefri Clark 45) #2 Charlotte Dean Mysteries by Phillipa Nefri Clark 46) #3 Charlotte Dean Mysteries by Phillipa Nefri Clark 47) #4 Charlotte Dean Mysteries by Phillipa Nefri Clark 48) Hickory Lane by Heather Webber 49) Swamp Spirits #23 Miss Fortune series by Jana DeLeon 50) UNMISSING by Minka Kent 51) The Stillwater Girls by Minka Kent 52) When It Falls Apart by Catherine Bybee 53) The Brighter the Light by Mary Ellen Taylor 54) Snowflakes and Coffee Cakes, Winter Series #1 by Joanne Demaio 55) Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens 56) The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen Marie Wiseman 57) The Woman with Two Shadows by Sarah James 58) The Lost Girls of Paris by Pan Jenoff 59) Beyond the Moonlit Sea by Julianne MacLean 60) State of the Union – First Family #3 by Marie Force 61) The Silent Woman by Minka Kent 62) Waking Kate by Sarah Addison Allen 63) Real Bad Things by Kelly J. Ford 64) The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff 65) Beyond the Moonlit Sea by Julianne Maclean 66) Someone to Hold – Wild Widows #2 by Marie Force 67) The D’Angelos by Catherine Bybee 68) Brewed Book #1 in the Cozy Coffee Shop series by Heather Sage 69) Adrift Book #2 in Tempest Island by Jana DeLeon 70) Hallows End by Kristen Proby 71) Cauldrons Call by Kristen Proby 72) Eight Maids a Missing by Jana DeLeon
  • I’ve added a “SEASONAL” list too. I started with fall that you can see here. And a simple winter list is here.

FALL UPDATE and WINTER 2022 TO DO LIST

I’d been doing a quarterly update of the MAIN list I made last January to participate with Jean and I’d never thought about making one that was seasonally specific to holiday menus and events, but I really like the idea that Jean got from her friend, Rebecca at Rebecca’s Hearth and Home. So I started with a Fall 2022 list. Here’s that update with a follow up of a Winter 2022 list. I’ll still do a BIG MAIN list again for 2023, but also include the seasonal ones as we move through the year.

FALL LIST

  • Plant the mums that my friend gave me for my birthday and clean out whiskey barrel planters in prep for winter. DONE and the mums are looking really colorful. They LOVE their new home.
  • Prep outside patio furniture and BBQ for winter months. DONE and no maintenance until the spring power washing is a real plus!
  • Deep clean oven and refrigerators. DONE but of course this is an EVERY season thing! I’ve been using the indoor NINJA grill so that has helped tremendously.
  • Fall trip to coast with hubby for my birthday. We had a WONDERFUL time! We went to the Oregon coast for 4 days. Our room had a balcony and was seaside with a great view for sunsets. Lounging around was perfect on a rainy day and when the weather was good we combed the beach and antiqued looking for winter projects is what I wanted to say, but REALITY was an early October trip to a small town that hosts a Christmas light/German market to plan a Christmas trip… but, that was also canceled and we’ve been looking for a new option.
  • Go to the Harvest Festival at the fairgrounds. DONE and I had a GREAT time. Most of my Christmas shopping was accomplished here.
  • Go to the Christmas Craft Fair at the fairgrounds. DONE and I had a GREAT time.
  • Deep clean bird bath and hummingbird feeders. DONE! Hummingbirds are year round here so this is also an EVERY season thing around here.
  • Sort through ALL clothes and donate EVERYTHING that doesn’t fit or I just don’t care for anymore.WHEW this was larger category than I thought, but I am almost done.
  • Finish cleaning out pantry, freezer and seasonings to start fresh in the new year. DONE
  • Clean out and cover garden beds as soon as zucchini and tomato plants are done – probably in about 2 weeks. DONE
  • Bake something once a week from my new cookbook. MOSTLY DONE I did miss a couple weeks, but have been working my way through the tagged and starred recipes.
  • Try a new and challenging cooking or baking technique every week. EVERY week might be too much as there really are very few things I haven’t tried to do, so I’ll change this to once a month 😀
  • Start indoor herb garden so I have them for the winter. DONE
  • Learn YOGA. I’m just not sure I have the patience for this as my list is always so long to get done, but I’m trying.
  • Take ALL Sundays completely off to watch football, NASCAR, snuggle up and read or WHATEVER I want for that 1 day a week.

Did you accomplish what you wanted to for the FALL? Now it’s time to move onto winter. 😀

WINTER 2022/2023 TO DO LIST – a much shorter list than the other seasons because of the holidays 😀

  • Prep the “neighbor plates” for Christmas. This year I’m making candied Jalapenos, Snickers Brownies, the normal sugar cookies and candies. Many of my neighbors are elderly and two different ones that we’re fairly close to have both had COVID recently and one had shingles at the same time! I also made them each BIG pots of soup and bread so they didn’t need to cook.
  • Continue to bake something once a week from my new cookbook.
  • Finish sorting, condensing and prepping for the spring garage sale. This category is going REALLY well and I can’t wait to finish.
  • Take ALL Sundays completely off per hubby’s rul snuggle up and read or WHATEVER I want for that 1 day a week.

BLOGMAS 2022 ~ DAY 7 ~ CHRISTMAS COOKIES & TREATS

This is a FUN category! Do you do a lot of baking for the holiday season? Do you have special recipes that you use only for Christmas time? Are they hand me down recipes from your mom or grandma? Do you participate in cookie exchanges? Do you bake for your neighbors?

This year I am trying 2 new recipes (Peanut Butter Balls and Carmelitas), neither of which is exactly a cookie, but will be in addition to the traditional recipes that I make for the “GIVING PLATES” I use for the neighbors each year. I LOVE these plates. They are my way of hopefully spreading some positive random acts of kindness.

Remembering back to being a kid always seems like going home to me.  Dad would buy all sorts of nuts by the pound during the holidays and of course bring out the nutcrackers. There was always a box (or 2 OR 3) of See’s candies (I just loved the milk chocolate Bordeauxs and since there was only 1 or 2 in each box I always tried to be the first to find them) and there would be tins and tins of butter cookies, snickerdoodles, peanut butter fudge, chocolate fudge as well as the sugar cookies that us kids iced and decorated.

Here are some of my favorite recipes and a few links to recipes for even more favorites!

One of our newer favorites though for Christmas are GOOEY CARAMEL TOPPED GINGERSNAPS.

Whether you use homemade or store bought, these cookies turn out swoon worthy of ANY holiday goodie platter. They are sooooo simple, but look and taste sooooo decadent.

GOOEY CARAMEL TOPPED GINGERSNAPS
42 gingersnap cookies, (homemade or store bought)
14 ounces KRAFT caramels
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup + 1/4 cup finely chopped honey roasted peanuts
12 ounces combination of white and dark chocolate
Sprinkles of choice (I like chocolate for the holidays)

  • Arrange cookies on cooling rack line baking sheet.**
  • In a microwave melt the caramels with the heavy cream, stirring until smooth.
  • Stir in peanuts.
  • Spoon about a teaspoon over each cookie.
  • Refrigerate until set.
  • Alternately melt white and dark chocolates.
  • Coat each cookie halfway with one of the chocolates, return to the rack allowing the excess to drip off.
  • Sprinkle with sprinkles and/or crushed peanuts.
  • Refrigerate until set.

NOTE** Wax paper or parchment paper works well also.

GINGERSNAPS
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup CRISCO
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup molasses
4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoons ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
sugar for rolling

  • Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg and ground cloves. Set aside.
  • Cream butter and crisco together until smooth.
  • Add sugar and molasses, blending until smooth.
  • Add flour mixture gradually until well blended.
  • Chill dough for at least 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Roll dough into small balls
  • Roll balls in sugar and place on cookie sheet.
  • Bake 8 minutes for soft chewy cookies and 12 minutes for crisp cookies.

Then there are the tried and true favorites of the past!

PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE DROPS
2/3 cup HOT water
10 ounces Land of Lakes cocoa mix
2 cups JIF creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 cups C&H powdered sugar, divided 2cups + 1 cup
2 cups crushed vanilla wafers
2 cups crushed ginger snaps
72 Hershey Kisses (I like the cherry cordials)

  • Whisk together the hot water and cocoa mix until smooth.
  • Add peanut butter and corn syrup. Blend until smooth.
  • Add 2 cups powdered sugar and stir until well blended.
  • Stir in cookie crumbs until well blended.
  • Spray wax paper with PURE (these will be sticky so don’t forget this step).
  • Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of dough onto the wax paper.
  • Place the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar in a shallow bowl.
  • Roll each piece of dough into a ball and dredge in powdered sugar.
  • Press your thumb into the center and fill with a Hershey’s kiss.

The category is cookies, but cookies come in many forms as far as I’m concerned 😀 These are some of my favorite Christmas “non-cookie” recipes.

My great aunt Louise’s corn flake wreaths are not technically cookies, but they are a treat that I try to make at Christmas time. My great aunt who I only got to see a couple times a year used to make these every year for us kids, but especially just for me because I ALWAYS asked for them.  My cousins and I would wait out on the front steps for her arrive just to see them, the wreaths that is.

She always made them soooooooooo pretty and perfect!  Aunt Louise was just plain crazy it seemed to me.  I can’t pinpoint any one thing that made me think that, but as the years wore on she continually proved it.  Let’s just say if the made a movie of her life, Shirley MacLaine would play her part.  Aunt Louise reminds me of Shirley’s character Ouiser Boudreaux in Steel Magnolias.

CRAZY AUNT LOUISE’S HOLIDAY WREATHS  (these are better when they are made a few days ahead)
30 LARGE marshmallows (or 1 jar marshmallow cream)
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoon green food color
3 1/2 cups cornflakes
Red Hots

  • Combine marshmallows, butter, vanilla and food color in top of double boiler. Heat and stir frequently until well blended.
  • Gradually stir in cornflakes until well blended.
  • Drop onto wax paper and arrange into wreath shapes. I plop them onto the wax paper and then push out from the center to form the wreaths.
  • Decorate with red hots.
  • Let cool.
  • If your house is warm – chill in refrigerator until set.

Another fun recipe that can be dressed up with colored sanding sugar are SEA SALT & CARAMEL RICE KRISPY TREATS.

SEA SALT & CARAMEL RICE KRISPY TREATS
8 cups Rice Krispies
50 Kraft caramels
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup + 1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 bag mini marshmallows
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 teaspoons sea salt flakes
  • In a medium sauce pan over  a low-medium heat stir together the sweetened condensed milk, the caramels and 1/4 cup unsalted butter until smooth.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Line a 9×13 baking dish with foil, extending over the edge.
  • Spray with non-stick PURE or PAM.
  • Melt butter in large sauce pan.
  • Add marshmallows and stir  until just melted.
  • Add vanilla, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 cup of caramel sauce and stir until smooth.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Stir in rice krispies until evenly coated.
  • Press into pan**.
  • Cool completely.
  • Pour remaining caramel over rice kripy treats and spread even with a spatula.
  • Sprinkle remaining sea salt over top.
  • Enjoy!
  • Store in an airtight container.

NOTES:  **I use a stainless steel spatula that has been sprayed with PURE to keep it from sticking.  It helps to press down firmly to get an even level.

This recipe is just PURE decadence, but has become a SERIOUS CHRISTMAS ADDICTION 😀

CINNAMON BUN CUPCAKES
CUPCAKES
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 LARGE eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream

  • Pre-heat oven to 350°.
  • Line cupcake tins with papers.
  • Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Set aside.
  • Whisk eggs for about 1 minute. They will become frothy and lightened in color.
  • Add oil and whisk again until combined.
  • Add sugar and whisk for about 1 minute.
  • Add vanilla extract.
  • Add sour cream to the batter, whisking until combined
  • Now add the sifted dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk gently. Whisk batter until JUST until combined. DO NOT OVERMIX!

CINNAMON SWIRL
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar

  • Make the Cinnamon Swirl: mix 1 1/2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of white sugar. Set aside.

ASSEMBLY

  • Now start by pouring about 1 heaping tablespoon of the batter on the bottom of each cupcake tin.
  • Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the Cinnamon Swirl mixture.
  • Top with another heaping tablespoon of batter.
  • Now, sprinkle another 1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon Swirl mixture over batter.
  • Top with another heaping tablespoon of batter.
  • Using a toothpick, swirl the batter a few times to create a swirl effect.
  • Top already swirled cupcakes with one final 1/2 teaspoon of the Cinnamon Swirl mixture.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, checking halfway to rotate pans.
  • Remove from the oven once cupcakes are lightly golden brown and puffed.
  • Cool 10 minutes.

GLAZE
+/- 1 cup powdered sugar sifted
+/- 2 tablespoons milk

  • Mix powdered sugar and milk together.

NOTES:  There are many factors that will affect your glaze consistency.  The brand of sugar you use, whether you use a scale or a measuring cup…  If your glaze is too thin and runny, add more sifted powdered sugar and test for consistency again.  If the glaze is too thick and not spreading, add a very, very small amount (1 teaspoon) of milk at a time, until you achieve your desired consistency.

And these brownies are an ABSOLUTE MUST! The mint is perfect (not like toothpaste) coupled with the fudge brownie and rich ganache.

GRASSHOPPER BROWNIES
11 ounce package dark chocolate pieces
1/2 cup butter
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
Creme-de-Menthe Filling (BELOW)
Dark Chocolate Ganache (BELOW)

  • In a medium saucepan, melt and stir 4 ounces (3/4 cup) of the dark chocolate pieces, butter, and the unsweetened chocolate over low heat.
  • Remove from heat; cool.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending the foil over the edges of the pan. Grease foil; set aside.
  • Stir sugar into the cooled chocolate mixture in saucepan.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating with a wooden spoon JUST until combined.
  • Stir in vanilla.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring just until combined.
  • Stir in the remaining 7 ounces (1-1/2 cups) dark chocolate pieces. Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
  • Spread Creme-de-Menthe Filling over cooled brownies.
  • Place uncut brownies in the refrigerator while preparing the Dark Chocolate Ganache.
  • Spread slightly cooled Dark Chocolate Ganache over Creme de Menthe Filling, spreading to the edges with a spatula.
  • Cover and chill about 1 hour or until set. Using the edges of the foil, lift the uncut brownies out of the pan. Cut into bars.
  • Place brownies in a single layer in an airtight container; cover. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

CREME-DE-MENTHE FILLING
3 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons GREEN creme de menthe
Milk (optional)

  • In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and butter.
  • Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer for 30 seconds.
  • Gradually beat in 1 cup of the powdered sugar.
  • Beat in creme-de-menthe.
  • Gradually beat in remaining powdered sugar. If necessary beat in 1 tablespoon of additional milk to make the filling slightly thicker than a frosting

CHOCOLATE GANACHE
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 11 ounce package dark chocolate pieces

  • In a medium saucepan, bring whipping cream JUST to boiling over medium-high heat.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add dark chocolate pieces (do not stir).
  • Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth.
  • Cool for 15 minutes.
  • Pour over brownies and QUICKLY spread evenly.

NOTE: You can substitute 2 tablespoons milk, 1/2 teaspoon mint extract, and several drops of green food coloring for the GREEN Creme-de-menthe.

CHAT TIME & Holiday Menus

I’ve gotten away from the chatty daily posts except for recipes and I miss it. Today I sat down to make out menus for upcoming holidays and the rest of the year which left me a little down and frustrated.

I talked to hubby and we made some decisions about the holidays in particular that take us out of our traditional norm. Thanksgiving we usually make a turkey with my dad’s homemade dressing, homemade cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and giblet gravy and let’s not forget the green bean casserole. And for Christmas we usually do a prime rib and all the trimmings. I then use the bones and leftover meat for a couple more meals and our New Year’s Eve chili.

Thanksgiving will be just the two of us so we decided to “GO OUT” for the first time ever. Just the thought of all that shopping (not to mention the expense), food preparation and then the clean up was just overwhelming. We priced everything and believe it our not we will save money by going out! There won’t be as many leftovers, but at least I won’t break my back preparing before hand and cleaning up after! I will still make us a special dessert for later that evening. I’m thinking a Key Lime Cranberry Pie or an Apple Rhubarb Slab Pie.

Christmas will also be just the two of us this year, but I don’t want to go out, so will be cooking. BUT, after pricing prime rib and almost having a heart attack (about $150 for just the prime rib) we decided to do an Italian themed Christmas dinner. Hubby is Italian, but his family usually did a traditional American style meal. I had just watched the Hallmark movie, Italian Christmas Memories so that helped me feel inspired, but not inspired enough to do the feast of the 7 fishes. So Christmas dinner will be a small Porchetta with Anchovy Vinegar and Pan Sauce, Sicilian Spaghetti with homemade Sugo and a homemade Panettone.

Now with decisions made, I will go back to making the rest of 2022’s menus and feeling a bit relieved to have the holiday menus off my back. This will also give me the freedom to feel like baking for the neighbor plates I do each year.

The postal staff is already asking what I’ll be making them this year which may sound a bit pushy, but we’re a small town and it makes me feel good that they look forward to my goodies. I still keep a box of goodies and drinks at my front door for delivery drivers and they all know that they are welcome to partake if they need a pick me up during the day even if they are not delivering to my house.

2022 LIST UPDATE ~ 3RD QUARTER

I joined up with Jean over at Chit Chat with Jean to do an accomplishment list for 2022 and a word for the year. This is my 3rd quarterly update. I wondered if I would be successful? I’m impressed that I’m doing really well. I’m also looking forward to doing this all again in 2023. I seem to FINALLY be falling back into my more organized ways. The minimalizing lifestyle has helped tremendously!!

My list for 2022 is:

  • Do a Happy Homemaker Monday post each and every week. This keeps me more on track and organized about my home life. Doing Happy Homemaker Monday so extensively helps keep me on track as it summarizes the past week and lays out a fairly concise plan for this week. DONE
  • Do 1-2 devotionals every day. DONE, but not as consistent as I’d like 🙁
  • Follow a nightly skincare regime – DONE
  • Complete 4 quilts – at least 1 for each quarter. 1 Christmas quilt wall hanging done almost done, 2 batik table runners in opposing colors are done and but I’m still working on one more quilt, a batik table runner.
  • Finish indexing the recipes on my Food blog, Savory Kitchen Table. This is a serious work in progress that will probably take ALL year into next year also.
  • Finish indexing the recipes on my Life blog, Chasing MY Life. When I merged my old blogspot blogs into this single blog it duplicated many things and added an “ALL” category that I am having to eliminate one by one so it’s taking a LONG time. This is a serious work in progress that will probably take ALL year into next year also.
  • Make a better effort to reach out and connect with friends and family more regularly. This is a work in progress.
  • Learn YOGA or Pilates or both! These are a work in progress.
  • Take at least a 2 mile walk daily. DONE most days
  • Continue to downsize and declutter EVERYTHING. This is a serious work in progress that will probably take ALL year, but be done by next March when we are planning a HUGE garage sale.
  • Clean out photo files that date back 13 years! I’m working on it, but it’s really hard. This is a serious work in progress that will always take ALL year, mainly because I keep taking pictures 😀
  • Create Shutterfly photo albums for 2021, 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016. Yet to do 😀
  • Go through scrap recipe tote and eliminate all the recipes I will never try – they’re just not worth saving. DONE
  • Do more drawing and painting – at least one per month. I’m still working on a few of these, but did complete several, one of which was for a Ukranian fund raiser. And hubby and I did one for a date night outing where we went to the afternoon class then dinner out 😀 Neither one of us liked it though so I’m not even posting it 🙁 I’m scheduled for one more “Santa Gnome” this year the first week in November. Isn’t he adorable?
  • Focus on rewriting more recipes to work for only 2 people with NO leftovers. This is a work in progress, but doing REALLY well so far. It has been seriously complicated by the increase in grocery prices 🙁
  • Volunteer at least once a month for a community project. DONE TO DATE
  • Do a date weekend once a month – exploring a new place we’ve never been before. I’d like to say we’ve been really good about this, but it’s only happened 3 times so far this year 🙁 1) RICOTTA class at a local winery 2) BURGERS & BEER at a local brewery that opened a new BURGER BOMB food truck 3) Romantic dinner at a favorite Italian restaurant. 4) We spent 2 days at a resort near Lassen National Park hiking and exploring 5) We spent 2 more days at Mt. Shasta also hiking and exploring 6) hubby and I are doing one tomorrow. We’ll go to an afternoon paint class then dinner out 😀 7) We were putting together a trip not to far from home for our anniversary in August, but changed it to one after school started for my birthday and then changed it yet again – we leave on Tuesday! 😀
  • Clean out old files and recycle or destroy old papers. This is still an ongoing work in progress, but I’ve made seriously good progress and will finish through the winter and spring.
  • Clean out craft cabinets and donate craft parts no longer needed. DONE
  • Eat at least 1 piece of fruit daily. DONE
  • Do at least 1 random act of kindness every time I leave the house. DONE
  • Read 36 books. Was hoping for double, but this was a realistic goal and now looks like I’ll actually reach that original hope of double. Since I’m now 3/4 of the way through the year I have high hopes of making that double number. 60 so far1) State of Grace by Marie Force, 2) Swamp Sweets by Jana DeLeon, 3) Beside Golden Irish Fields by Ava Miles, 4) What Child Is This by Rhys Bowen, 5) Women and Children First by Gill Paul, 6) Return to Sender by Jennifer Peel, 7) The Cape May Garden by Claudia Vance, 8) South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber, 9) A Home for Unloved Orphans by Rachel Wesson and 10) All My Loving by Marie Force 11) Wild Widows by Marie Force 12) Return to Sender by Jennifer Peel 13) In Name Only by Jennifer Peel 14) Flame & Fortune by Jana DeLeon 15) The Restaurant by Pamela Kelley 16) Here, There & Everywhere by Marie Force 17) Someone Like You by Marie Force 18) Beach House Romance by Cora Seton 19) Return to Sender by Jennifer Peel 20) In Name Only by Jennifer Peel 21) Silent Partner by Jennifer Peel 22) The Wedding Charm by Susan Hatler 23) The Girl From the Channel Islands 24) Breakfast at the Honey Creek Cafe by Jodi Thomas 25) The Book of Sorrel by Jennifer Peel 26) Written in the Stars by Noelle Fox 27) The Restaurant by Pamela Kelley 28) Secrets Hidden in the Glass by Cate Beauman 29) Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger 30) The Woman with the Blue Star by Pan Jenoff 31) The Lost Girls by Pam Jenoff 32) The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin 33) The Resistance Girl by Mandy Robotham 34) The Stationmaster’s Cottage, #1 Rivers End by Phillipa Nefri Clark 35) Accidentally Matched An Alaska Matchmaker Series by Cathryn Brown #1 36) Finally Matched An Alaska Matchmaker Series by Cathryn Brown #2 37) Hopefully Matched An Alaska Matchmaker Series by Cathryn Brown #3 38) A Fire Sparkling by Juliane Maclean 39) The Resistance Girl by Mandy Robotham 40) Jasmine Sea, #2 in the Rivers End series by Phillipa Nefri Clark 41) Palmerston House, #3 in the Rivers End series by Phillipa Nefri Clark 42) Last Known Contact by Phillipa Nefri Clark 43) The Honey Bus by Meredith May 44) Deadly Falls #1 Charlotte Dean Mysteries by Phillipa Nefri Clark 45) #2 Charlotte Dean Mysteries by Phillipa Nefri Clark 46) #3 Charlotte Dean Mysteries by Phillipa Nefri Clark 47) #4 Charlotte Dean Mysteries by Phillipa Nefri Clark 48) Hickory Lane by Heather Webber 49) Swamp Spirits #23 Miss Fortune series by Jana DeLeon 50) UNMISSING by Minka Kent 51) The Stillwater Girls by Minka Kent 52) When It Falls Apart by Catherine Bybee 53) The Brighter the Light by Mary Ellen Taylor 54) Snowflakes and Coffee Cakes, Winter Series #1 by Joanne Demaio 55) Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens 56) The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen Marie Wiseman 57) The Woman with Two Shadows by Sarah James 58) The Lost Girls of Paris by Pan Jenoff 59) Beyond the Moonlit Sea by Julianne MacLean 60) State of the Union – First Family #3 by Marie Force 61) The Silent Woman by Minka Kent 62) Waking Kate by Sarah Addison Allen 63) Real Bad Things by Kelly J. Ford
  • I’ve added a “SEASONAL” list too. I started with fall that you can see here.

AUTUMN SEASONAL LIST OF TO DO ITEMS

I’ve been doing a quarterly update of the MAIN list I made last January to participate with Jean and I’d never thought about making one that was seasonally specific to holiday menus and events, but I really like the idea that Jean got from her friend, Rebecca at Rebecca’s Hearth and Home. So here’s my Fall 2022 list.

FALL 2022 TO DO LIST

  • Plant the mums that my friend gave me for my birthday and clean out whiskey barrel planters in prep for winter.
  • Prep outside patio furniture and BBQ for winter months.
  • Deep clean oven and refrigerators.
  • Fall trip to coast with hubby for my birthday.
  • Go to the Harvest Festival at the fairgrounds.
  • Go to the Christmas Craft Fair at the fairgrounds
  • Deep clean bird bath and hummingbird feeders.
  • Sort through ALL clothes and donate EVERYTHING that doesn’t fit or I just don’t care for anymore.
  • Finish cleaning out pantry, freezer and seasonings to start fresh in the new year.
  • Clean out and cover garden beds as soon as zucchini and tomato plants are done – probably in about 2 weeks.
  • Bake something once a week from my new cookbook.
  • Try a new and challenging cooking or baking technique every week.
  • Start indoor herb garden so I have them for the winter.
  • Learn YOGA.
  • Take ALL Sundays completely off to watch football, NASCAR, snuggle up and read or WHATEVER I want for that 1 day a week.

Do you have any specific plans for the FALL?

2022 LIST update

I’ve been participating with Jean over at Chit Chat with Jean to do an accomplishment list for 2022 and a word for the year. This is my 2nd quarterly update – mid year. I wondered if I would be successful? I’d say I’m doing pretty good so far.

My list for 2022 is:

  • Do a Happy Homemaker Monday post each and every week. This keeps me more on track and organized about my home life. Doing Happy Homemaker Monday so extensively helps keep me on track as it summarizes the past week and lays out a fairly concise plan for this week. DONE
  • Do 1-2 devotionals every day. DONE, but slacking as I’m working my way through 100 Days of Grace & Gratitude – A Devotional Journal
  • Follow a nightly skincare regime – DONE
  • Complete 4 quilts – at least 1 for each quarter. 1 Christmas quilt wall hanging done almost done, 2 batik table runners in opposing colors are done and but I’m still working on one more quilt.
  • Finish indexing the recipes on my Food blog, Savory Kitchen Table. This is a serious work in progress that will probably take ALL year.
  • Finish indexing the recipes on my Life blog, Chasing MY Life. When I merged my old blogspot blogs into this single blog it duplicated many things and added an “ALL” category that I am having to eliminate one by one so it’s taking a LONG time. This is a serious work in progress that will probably take ALL year.
  • Make a better effort to reach out and connect with friends and family more regularly. This is a work in progress.
  • Learn YOGA or Pilates or both! This is a work in progress.
  • Take at least a 2 mile walk daily. DONE most days
  • Continue to downsize and declutter EVERYTHING. This is a serious work in progress that will probably take ALL year.
  • Clean out photo files that date back 13 years! I’m working on it, but it’s really hard. This is a serious work in progress that will probably take ALL year.
  • Create Shutterfly photo albums for 2021, 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016. Yet to do 😀
  • Go through scrap recipe tote and eliminate all the recipes I will never try – they’re just not worth saving. DONE
  • Do more drawing and painting – at least one per month. I’m still working on most of these, but did complete these first 5, one of which was for a Ukranian fund raiser. And hubby and I are doing one tomorrow for a date night outing. We’ll go to the afternoon class then dinner out 😀
  • Focus on rewriting more recipes to work for only 2 with no leftovers. This is a work in progress, but doing REALLY well so far. It has been seriously complicated by the increase in grocery prices 🙁
  • Volunteer at least once a month for a community project. DONE TO DATE
  • Do a date weekend once a month – exploring a new place we’ve never been before. I’d like to say we’ve been really good about this, but it’s only happened 3 times so far this year 🙁 1) RICOTTA class at a local winery 2) BURGERS & BEER at a local brewery that opened a new BURGER BOMB food truck 3) Romantic dinner at a favorite Italian restaurant. 4) We spent 2 days at a resort near Lassen National Park hiking and exploring 5) We spent 2 more days at Mt. Shasta also hiking and exploring 6) hubby and I are doing one tomorrow. We’ll go to an afternoon paint class then dinner out 😀 7) We are also putting together a trip not to far from home for our anniversary in August.
  • Clean out old files and recycle or destroy old papers. This is still an ongoing work in progress, but I’ve made seriously good progress.
  • Clean out craft cabinets and donate craft parts no longer needed. DONE
  • Eat at least 1 piece of fruit daily. DONE
  • Do at least 1 random act of kindness every time I leave the house. DONE
  • Read 36 books. Was hoping for double, but this was a realistic goal. Since I’m already there and only halfway through the year so have high hopes of making that double number. 44 so far 1) State of Grace by Marie Force, 2) Swamp Sweets by Jana DeLeon, 3) Beside Golden Irish Fields by Ava Miles, 4) What Child Is This by Rhys Bowen, 5) Women and Children First by Gill Paul, 6) Return to Sender by Jennifer Peel, 7) The Cape May Garden by Claudia Vance, 8) South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber, 9) A Home for Unloved Orphans by Rachel Wesson and 10) All My Loving by Marie Force 11) Wild Widows by Marie Force 12) Return to Sender by Jennifer Peel 13) In Name Only by Jennifer Peel 14) Flame & Fortune by Jana DeLeon 15) The Restaurant by Pamela Kelley 16) Here, There & Everywhere by Marie Force 17) Someone Like You by Marie Force 18) Beach House Romance by Cora Seton 19) Return to Sender by Jennifer Peel 20) In Name Only by Jennifer Peel 21) Silent Partner by Jennifer Peel 22) The Wedding Charm by Susan Hatler 23) The Girl From the Channel Islands 24) Breakfast at the Honey Creek Cafe by Jodi Thomas 25) The Book of Sorrel by Jennifer Peel 26) Written in the Stars by Noelle Fox 27) The Restaurant by Pamela Kelley 28) Secrets Hidden in the Glass by Cate Beauman 29) Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger 30) The Woman with the Blue Star by Pan Jenoff 31) The Lost Girls by Pam Jenoff 32) The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin 33) The Resistance Girl by Mandy Robotham 34) The Stationmaster’s Cottage, #1 Rivers End by Phillipa Nefri Clark 35) Accidentally Matched An Alaska Matchmaker Series by Cathryn Brown #1 36) Finally Matched An Alaska Matchmaker Series by Cathryn Brown #2 37) Hopefully Matched An Alaska Matchmaker Series by Cathryn Brown #3 38) A Fire Sparkling by Juliane Maclean 39) The Resistance Girl by Mandy Robotham 40) Jasmine Sea, #2 in the Rivers End series by Phillipa Nefri Clark 41) Palmerston House, #3 in the Rivers End series by Phillipa Nefri Clark 42) Last Known Contact by Phillipa Nefri Clark 43) The Honey Bus by Meredith May 44) Deadly Falls #1 Charlotte Dean Mysteries by Phillipa Nefri Clark

WORDS & LISTS for 2022

Jean over at Chit Chat with Jean is doing a word for the year and also a list of “22” things to accomplish in 2022. I like the way she thinks and realize that 2022 items would be unreasonable and using the last 2 numbers to do 22 items is completely acceptable, reasonable and even doable. Since this is my first time I don’t have any ‘leftovers” from last year and that makes me smile and approach this as even more possible.

After giving this serious thought I decided to join in. Will I be as successful? I’m not sure, but I’m seriously willing to give it a try. I’ll do quarterly updates until the end of the year and then decide about 2023 😀

I took a DaySpring quiz to help me determine my word for the year. A couple of words I considered were Renewal and Restoration before finally deciding.
My word for the year is – DEVOTION – love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause. I intend to find devotion in ALL people and ALL things in my life. If I can’t find devotion for someone or something, then it shouldn’t be in my life to begin with.

My list for 2022 is:

  • Do a Happy Homemaker Monday post each and every week. This keeps me more on track and organized about my home life. Doing Happy Homemaker Monday so extensively helps keep me on track as it summarizes the past week and lays out a fairly concise plan for this week.
  • Do 1-2 devotionals every day.
  • Follow a nightly skincare regime – I borrowed this from Jean, but because it lined up with the new Clinique regime hubby bought me for Christmas. I have used this in the past, but have been choosing not to spend the money on myself. Fortunately for me hubby didn’t agree. 😀
  • Complete 4 quilts – at least 1 for each quarter.
  • Finish indexing the recipes on my food blog, Savory Kitchen Table.
  • Finish indexing the recipes on my Life blog, Chasing MY Life. When I merged my old blogspot blogs into this single blog it duplicated many things and added an “ALL” category that I am having to eliminate one by one so it’s taking a LONG time.
  • Make a better effort to reach out and connect with friends and family more regularly.
  • Learn YOGA or Pilates or both!
  • Take at least a 2 mile walk daily.
  • Continue to downsize and declutter EVERYTHING.
  • Clean out photo files that date back 13 years!
  • Create shutterfly photo albums for 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016.
  • Go through scrap recipe tote and eliminate all the recipes I will never try – they’re just not worth saving.
  • Do more drawing and painting – at least one per month.
  • Focus on rewriting more recipes to work for only 2 with no leftovers.
  • Volunteer at least once a month for a community project.
  • Do a date weekend once a month – exploring a new place we’ve never been before.
  • Clean out old files and recycle or destroy old papers.
  • Clean out craft cabinets and donate craft parts no longer needed.
  • Eat at least 1 piece of fruit daily.
  • Do at least 1 random act of kindness every time I leave the house.
  • Read 36 books. Hopefully it will be more, but I think this is a realistic goal.

What you think? Do you want to join in also?

CHAT TIME


There has been so much going on for so long that I haven’t taken the time to JUST BREATHE. The trip we just finished made me realize how much I need to TAKE the time to catch up with myself instead of the world. 😀

I have finally finished all the laundry and gotten everything put away as well as cleared off my desk. I have a bit more paperwork to get through and some appointments to set up, but that aspect is under control.

As soon as all the Halloween candy was handed out I was ready to move on! And move on to Christmas even though we haven’t had Thanksgiving yet!

I’m not actually decorating yet, BUT I do have MOST of the Christmas presents not only bought, but wrapped too. I will finish up at the local craft fair this weekend and I have a couple shipments coming from Amazon for oddly specific items. I also have the Christmas card envelopes started with the return addresses and stamps.

I did pick up the turkeys yesterday at the grocery store since I had some awesome coupons as well as the necessary staples for the munchkin baking day.

WAY BACK MACHINE

My friend Sandra recently told us about a WONDERFUL site called the WAY BACK MACHINE.

Many years ago I “LOST” my original blog, 3 Sides of Crazy to hijackers and GOOGLE said I couldn’t provide enough “PROOF” that it was mine to get it back. LOL I purchased the domain from them directly, but that didn’t matter to them so I moved my whole platform to WordPress and moved on with my life. That was how I became “CHASING MY LIFE”.

So I was interested enough to see if I could see something from my original blog and I put in a random date. I was rewarded with this sweet memory.

January 26, 2013 from the WAY BACK MACHINE

“Happy times!  This is my aunt who recently passed with me and her daughter Jenn at one of our favorite places, Galveston Island.  All our lives Jenn and I would go down there and collect shells off the beach.  It isn’t that easy these days with the weird growth along the shore line, but back then we walk on the sea wall, collect shells from the water’s edge and just basque in the winter water. You can’t see it in this pictures, but we’re barefoot LOL I’m holding my socks. I also still have every shell that I keep in a crystal bowl. Sharon had Parkinsons disease. Her mobility continued to go downhill from here so this is the last picture I have of us “having fun” like this. Thank goodness for tripods and timers so we could all be in the picture together.”

STILL LUCKY

10 YEARS ago I wrote the following post. The weeks leading up to it were some of the most difficult of my life. I struggled with whether to go public or not. In the end, I’m glad I did. Now 10 years later as I prepared during a pandemic to have my momentous follow-up exam I worried. I realized I was actually scared. You see I hadn’t told even my husband about the potential of the cancer in the beginning and I had faced that testing and visit alone. But, when I got home and told him, things changed. There was not one visit to the doctor or test that I did alone. He accompanied to EVERY single one. Now here we are and he isn’t allowed to accompany me. I have to admit it concerned me to face it alone. But, he drove me there and stayed in the car, I wasn’t actually alone, it just felt like it because of the pandemic protocols. Fortunately, my fear was just that FEAR, but unfounded or not it seemed like a good time to re-run this post and the beautiful story of Lucky the dog. 😀

I’ve been struggling with a way to get back into the swing of things here in blogland. You see just 2 months ago today I was struck with those words that we all fear hearing from our doctor. You know,  any phrase that includes the words cancer, chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. For me it was the worst Christmas present imaginable so I persevered and didn’t really let on to most of the family in the beginning – no sense ruining anyone else’s holidays since no further testing could be scheduled until after Christmas. 

You truly do go through the 5 stages of grief augmented with periods of disbelief and a lack of comprehension.  It doesn’t matter how well schooled you are or how intelligent you are, those words hit you like a ton of bricks.

Last year when I began my food blog, Always Eat On The Good China (now morphed into Savory Kitchen Table), I developed the name after reading a letter that Erma Bombeck wrote when she knew she was dying from cancer.  I even put a quote from her on my side bar that I found extremely poignant.

It was around that same time that I had an appendicitis attack – I still had my appendix and it had been chronic since I was 9 years old.  Or at least I thought I was having an appendicitis attack.  We now know that I was having pain from my ovary that was growing into what was being described as a cantalouped size mass.

Fortunately for me at my well woman exam the nurse practitioner noticed what she thought was an enlarged uterus and she ordered an ultrasound because she feared uterine cancer.

The ultrasound was on the Tuesday after Christmas. The words changed, but stayed the same, cancer was still in the phrase, but now it was ovarian cancer.  To it they added terms like tumor and oncologist.

My brand new doctor (I’d never met him prior to the ultrasound tech calling him into the exam) in a brand new town thought I was in shock because I didn’t cry and react hysterically. He just didn’t know  me well enough to know I was really okay.  But, I’m a fixer, so my next phrase is always, what next?  What next turned out to be a referral to MD Anderson Cancer Center and an oncologist, whom I adore by the way!.  She and her team made it possible for me to stay both positive and see the light at the end of the tunnel. Their Motto is “making cancer history” which struck me as the right positive note for me.

The next 2 weeks and 5 days were a whirlwind of blood draws, X-rays, CT scans, MRI’s, chemical stress tests, consultations, clearances and…I underwent surgery on the 1st knowing full well all the fine print, legal jargon and potential pitfalls of this diagnosis.  I also knew that because of the size, I would awake to only a possible pathology.  I awoke to hear things like “self-contained”, “non-invasive cancer” and “surveillance” as well as that the cantaloupe was actually a volleyball with a balloon twist.  While we are still awaiting final pathology I am now at home after a week in the hospital and catering to the whims of a 10 inch zipper through multiple layers of muscle and the needs to get my energy back and regenerate the tissue.

With that, for now, I’ll leave you with this email story that crossed my desk.  True or not, it’s heart warming and endearing and worth the read.  I choose to believe in the bright and positive.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Mary and her husband Jim had a dog named ‘Lucky.’ 

Lucky was a real character. Whenever Mary and Jim had company come for a weekend visit they would warn their friends to not leave their luggage open because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy. Inevitably, someone would forget and something would come up missing.

Mary or Jim would go to Lucky’s toy box in the basement and there the treasure would be, amid all of Lucky’s other favorite toys Lucky always stashed his finds in his toy box and he was very particular that his toys stay in the box.

It happened that Mary found out she had breast cancer. Something told her she was going to die of this disease….in fact; she was just sure it was fatal.

She scheduled the double mastectomy, fear riding her shoulders. The night before she was to go to the hospital she cuddled with Lucky. A thought struck her…what would happen to Lucky? Although the three-year-old dog liked Jim, he was Mary’s dog through and through. If I die, Lucky will be abandoned, Mary thought. He won’t understand that I didn’t want to leave him! The thought made her sadder than thinking of her own death.

The double mastectomy was harder on Mary than her doctors had anticipated and Mary was hospitalized for over two weeks. Jim took Lucky for his evening walk faithfully, but the little dog just drooped, whining and miserable.

Finally the day came for Mary to leave the hospital. When she arrived home, Mary was so exhausted she couldn’t even make it up the steps to her bedroom. Jim made his wife comfortable on the couch and left her to nap.

Lucky stood watching Mary but he didn’t come to her when she called. It made Mary sad, but sleep soon overcame her and she dozed.

When Mary woke for a second she couldn’t understand what was wrong. She couldn’t move her head and her body  felt heavy and hot. But panic soon gave way to laughter when Mary realized the problem. She was covered, literally blanketed, with every treasure Lucky owned! While she had slept, the sorrowing dog had made trip after trip to the basement bringing his beloved mistress all his favorite things in life.

He had covered her with his love.

Mary forgot about dying. Instead she and Lucky began living again, walking further and further together every day. It’s been 12 years now and Mary is still cancer-free.

Lucky… He still steals treasures and stashes them in his toy box but Mary remains his greatest treasure.

Remember….live every day to the fullest. Each minute is a blessing from God. And never forget….the people who make a difference in our lives are not the ones with the most Credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care for us.

If you see someone without a smile today give them one of yours! 
Live simply. 
Love seriously. 
Care deeply. 
Speak kindly. 
Leave the rest to God.