Company Is A Comin

Wives, pay attention! I have found the secret weapon to getting your husband to do all those little things done around the house without chasing him around with a rolling pin or withholding desserts for a week. You invite company which your husband knows that their house is always in tip top shape and seems to have everything in perfect working order.
For two years I have been yelling…opps, I mean graciously asking my sweet husband to either replace the bathroom faucets or have a whole new bathroom put in. Since yesterday, Mr. Honey Do has installed 3 new faucets, spot cleaned the carpet, patched holes in the sheetrock (and the holes were not made by me throwing things at him, but because I rearrange furniture so much, thus having to rehang pictures) cleaned ceiling fans, painted the front door and this is the best one yet….pulled out the stove and cleaned behind it. Yes, that’s right, my floor underneath the stove is, well, you could eat off of it if you really wanted to pull the stove out and do that. But I have a nice shiny clean table that you might rather eat from. Since grandkids won’t be here until Sunday night when we have a sleep over with the 8 yr old, the breakfast table will be fingerprint free. But after Sunday night, I can’t promise what the kitchen or bathroom will look like. Do all little boys take the opportunity to look around the bathroom when they are standing up peeing or is it just my little darlings? it is almost like, “why bother lifting the lid, hardly any of the pee goes into the toilet anyway!” But back to my story…

So after a few months when things are getting back to needing a little extra attention, I’m going to invite more company. He tells me that he will be cleaning the carpets on Monday, washing the car on Tuesday and then Wednesday, he will change the oil. All this because of a couple we haven’t seen in 2 years. Plus, the couple don’t even get on social media often, so probably won’t share what a beautiful clean house they arrived at. After all this, I would at least hope to get about 50 “likes” of all the cleaning and baking I have done for their arrival. There is now cream cheese pound cake and carrot cake and chocolate chip cookies in the freezer. (not so many cookies are left, as I had to reward Mr. HD for finishing the faucets in record time and not making me go in the backyard to use the hose to shower)

All I have left to do is clean the shutter’s, change the sheets in the guest room, find places for holiday decor that is hidden under the bed and in the guest closet and get a pedicure. I want to appear as if the house just stays like this and make them think that no matter when they would arrive, the house would look this clean and both Randy and I stay dressed in our best summer outfits. Which reminds me, I ironed this week. I do NOT like to iron. Actually that is putting it mildly. I HATE ironing. When Randy kept bringing me shirts to iron, I reminded him that there was a dry cleaners around the corner and that he didn’t marry me for my ironing skills. He spoke up and said as he was rounding the corner, “I’m still trying to find the skills I married you for” If I hadn’t been so tired from ironing his shirts, I would have thrown the iron at him, but then it might have made a hole in the wall and then we would have more chores of patching the hole and paint. We are running out of time before company arrives. He lucked out this time. So if you are needing some company to prod your husband into cleaning and doing house repairs, Randy and I are available to be hired as “company is a comin”. Oh my goodness, I think I just thought of a new career, Company For Hire, literally! Will bring our own baked goods!

Cooking With Ginger

We have a young chef who comes into our community once a month who is absolutely wonderful. Not only does she bring us amazing recipes, but she is funny and just livens up the people who show up. You come away laughing and in such great moods, it is just a great class to attend. Last week she made 4 really good recipes of which I have already made one. It will be one of our staples from now on. Open Faced Caprese Sandwiches. She also gave us the recipe for Butterscotch Peanut bars, Watermelon-Feta-Basil Salad and a summer mixed drink which I will post tomorrow. But today I am posting the Caprese Sandwiches and Butterscotch Bars.
I bet when you read the title you thought this post would be all about recipes which included ginger. Fooled YA!

Caprese Sandwiches
1 Roma Tomato, sliced into four slices
2 tables chopped fresh basil (or more depending on how many slices of bread you are using)
Fresh Mozzarella log, sliced thinly
4 slices of Italian Bread or baguette
Balsamic Reduction *Found it at some Walmarts and also Trader Joes
Butter and Olive Oil

Preheat oven broiler or toaster oven
Gently spread olive oil or softened butter on one side of the bread. Place in oven to lightly toast.
On opposite side of buttered or oiled bread, with a pastry brush, place olive oil on the dry side of the bread that has not been toasted. Place tomato slices on top of bread. (If you are making more than 4 slices of bread, use another tomato)
Top with slices of mozzarella. Again, use enough slices to make however many slices you need.
Place bread onto baking sheet and place under broiler for 1-2 minutes until cheese is melted and starting to bubble.
Top with chopped basil and sprinkle with the balsamic reduction. You may want to sprinkle each slice with sea salt.

Butterscotch Peanut Bars
This quick and easy bar to make taste similar to a Pay Day candy bar.

Bar
1/2 cup butterscotch flavored baking chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup salted Spanish peanuts or salted peanuts
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Glaze
1/4 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 teas shortening

Melt butterscotch chips, peanut butter and butter oven low heat in small saucepan, stirring constantly 3-5 minutes. Cool 5 minutes.
Stir in peanuts and marshmallows. Pour into a buttered 8″ square pan. Cover and place in fridge 30 min or until set.
Melt chocolate chips with shortening in a small saucepan or microwave until chips are melted. In 15 second intervals. Sir after each interval. Drizzle over the cooled bars and refrigerate until chocolate is set.
Cut into bars and keep covered in fridge.

Signs & Wonders

Today was the 3rd day I have been to water aerobics this week. Will wonders never cease? We have been in a celebratory mood all week, as we are so proud that we have joined the group of folks here that really do believe that exercise is good for you. Who knew? So to celebrate our good choices, of course what does it make me want to do but bake. I made chocolate chip cookies and ate 8 of them. We went for Baskin Robbins on Wednesday night to celebrate that I didn’t die from a heat stroke playing 7 holes of golf before collapsing in the golf cart and promising myself I would never get back on a golf course until after the first freeze of the season. We had company over for dinner and what is a girl suppose to do but be sure that your friends don’t go away hungry. So chicken fried steak, gravy, mashed potatoes, hot rolls and key lime pie with whipping cream was the dinner of choice.
We have been so proud of ourselves for actually going to this class in the mornings that we have been calling friends we haven’t talked to in a long time just so we can hear ourselves say, “oh us, oh not much, just got back from water aerobic class and resting up to head over to the bocce ball courts after we cool down a bit.” We sound so cool getting to say that. Our old conversation use to sound like this, “oh us, well, we just finished some eggs, bacon and toast and am trying to figure out what to have for lunch. But right now, I’m in the kitchen baking some brownies and a pie for dessert tonight.” Now at least we can say “well, after exercise class we were both famished and just had to have lots of protein to replenish what was lost exercising this morning, so we made bacon and eggs.” And….”Trudy is hoping to have time to get a pie made before heading up to the clubhouse to sign up for line dancing.” Am saving that for June I think.

Since I have talked Randy into going with me, telling him that this will surely help his balance, and is an activity other than eat, that we can do together,he has decided that it is fun and has joined me. I told him that he can go, but I like to be in the shady part of the pool. He loves the sun so we are on opposite sides which is fine with me. That way, he isn’t able to see me just standing still when the exercises get to hard for me. I tell him that I might look like I’m standing still, but I’m doing cross country skiing under the water. So this morning, I look across the pool at him and smile and he sends me a little hand signal. Some of the ladies around me saw him and ask me what he was trying to tell me. I just smiled and told them that he was trying to make a heart like you see people do on Ellen a lot. They said, “ah…that is just so sweet of him to do that.” After class as we are all getting out of the pool, a couple of the ladies told Randy how neat that was for him to be watching me and sending me a heart sign with his hands. He said, “what? oh no, that wasn’t a heart, I was trying to tell Trudy I wanted to go get a donut after class.” The ride home on the golf cart was pretty quiet. In the first place, I want the ladies to think that we go home and have a fruit shake, NOT donuts. But, anyone who really knows us, knows that we are much more likely to celebrate our “good choices to exercise” with ice cream, donuts and pizza than we are fruit shakes. That is something you will never have to wonder about. Am seriously thinking about signing up Randy for a sign language class.

Sweets Or Swim

Well, after me saying I would never join an old ladies water aerobics swim class, I am now searching for a new swim suit. Over the last few months of driving by the pool in our community on the way to the donut shop in the mornings and me making fun of those sweet old ladies swishing their arms in the water as their hips swung side to side, I could not think of any excuse not to go with a friend of mine to the class. The only excuse I could think of was, “I don’t ever go anywhere without earrings or makeup” when Randy spoke up to remind me that it was just last Friday that I rode with him to the donut shop with no makeup and no earrings. He was quickly rebuked with, “yes, but I didn’t get out of the car, I let you go in for my donuts”. It was then that he also reminded me that some of the ladies he has seen in the pool were younger than me. Things began to get a little tense at this point so I gave in and went with Judy to swim class. It was better than sitting at home and listening to Mr. Smart Mouth.

Well, it has been 8 hours since surviving the first class and I can barely move. Lucky for me, my fingers don’t ache so I can search on-line for a new bathing suit. The positive outcome of this exercise stuff has given me new opportunities for getting new clothes. A few months ago, because I decided to try, after 15 years, to take another stab at golf, Randy finally gave in and took me shopping for some cute little golf outfits. It took me awhile to talk him into the idea of, “if I’m still not good at golf, I have to at least look cute while chasing the ball out of the rough” and another great line: “you wouldn’t want my rear to look big when I bend over to retrieve the ball would you?” That one worked. He agreed to take me shopping for some cute little golf shorts that have enough spandex in them to keep me standing tall and letting my golf partner be the ball retriever. So after this morning, I came home and told him that since I haven’t exercised in a little over 25-30 years, I needed to look like the other ladies in the class and have a cute little bathing suit, with matching hat and cover-up and a new beach towel. It was embarrassing using the hand me down Barbie beach towel that Jodi left here. Apparently she didn’t appreciate that Mother’s day gift from 5 years ago. When I get up 1 hour early this morning to prepare for the swim class, it was hard to decide which suit to wear; One that is 2 sizes smaller than I am now (I almost had to wear that one, as it took several attempts to get it off after seeing the fat that hung out of the top (when did all that back fat come from?) or one that has a skirt, which seems to hide more of me than I care to expose to the general public. The one with the skirt won. After 30 minutes in the pool, I discovered that those “cute little skirts” always float up to the surface and…well, ended up making me look like a fat floating little ballerina. Even a cute hat and earrings wouldn’t help that look. So here I am, headed out to the local store, Ok, I admit, I’m going to Walmart to look for a bathing suit to wear to class in the morning. That was the only place I felt might have larger women than me, trying to find the “perfect” suit.
This has given me a new lease on life. The exercise wasn’t what was fun, but all the socializing going on in the water. We laughed and talked about all the lazy ladies who were probably still in bed while we were out there, swishing our arms and hips to the movement of the water.
Tomorrow, my reward after class is going to the donut shop. I gave up wearing earrings in pubic for an hour, but I’m not giving up my donut run. I’ll just do some extra swishing at class on Thursday.

Babysitting Blues

This weekend found us keeping our just turned 6 and 8 yr old grandsons. We cannot say that we babysat the 16 year old, because he would never speak to us again, but we did manage to have him here with us Saturday night and a few hours Sunday morning before he ran off to “go study his music”. At least he didn’t tell us he was going back home to clean up his room as we knew that would have been a total fib. But because we were so busy trying to entertain the little ones and at the same time try to look like the “cool and hip” grandparents that doesn’t get worn out keeping kids for 36 hours, we were almost glad when Jaden told us that he needed to go home to practice his music. Yea, one kid down and 2 more to go. It all started Saturday morning when our kids left town for their anniversary. We figured that we would take them to a movie to kill a few hours, but the only movie on was the Avengers. Jaden told us that he had gone to the midnight showing and that Caleb and Noah would love it and he would even go again with us. So after getting Chick Fila for the gang, we headed over to the movies. Jodi had told us that if Noah got bored because it was a long show, that we could put him in the child care there at the movie house. She said you just go show your movie ticket and they let them stay and play there in the play room. Randy suggests that I take the kids to the Dollar Store to let them buy candy for the movie. So off we go when the kids tell me that they prefer to buy their candy at Walgreens. Why is candy at Walgreens better than candy at Dollar Tree? But being the great Nana that I am I find a Walgreens where they select their candy and of course see the red noses for sale for $1. Each of them got one. On the way home to pick up Randy to head to the movie, Caleb’s nose broke and now there is one red nose that they begin to fight over. I take the one nose away to avoid further arguing. We meet Jaden at the movie and find a seat 4th row from the front. It is packed. Movie begins and I know within the first 5 minutes that I am going to hate this movie. Noah’s eyes get as large as saucers and he leans over to tell me that he wants to go. Well, no problem, I will take him to the child care center. So Noah and I leave the movie and proceed to the child care center where they inform me that if I didn’t have a rsvp, they are sorry but the child care is full and they cannot take him. Noah tells me that if I give him money, (after already spending over $40 to get us all in) he will just play games in the game center until the 2 1/2 hour movie is over. I tell him I don’t think so. So we go back into movie and tell Randy for he and Caleb to ride home with Jaden. We are out of there. So Noah and I head to the Dollar Store where he proceeds to find a hula hoop and several other little toys. Because we are having Jodi and Eric over for dinner when they come back to town on Sunday night, Noah and I head to the grocery store. I went in for 5 items, came out with about 15-20. I had forgot what it is like going grocery shopping with a 6 year old. So we come home with 2 packages of cookies, a carton of ice cream and sodas that I had no intention of buying Saturday.
The boys come home from the movies, but with my energy level quickly disappearing, Geno’s pizza sounds like a winner. But Noah informs me that he just had pizza Thurs night. But that he would take a Sonic corn dog. So Jaden, Noah and I head out to sonic, get the corn dog and then drive to Geno’s to pick up the pizza. We have a nice dinner and bedtime cannot come quick enough. But…the boys tell me that they had been promised that we would all play 5 Crown. Jaden is a trooper for doing all this with us; and we play cards until 9:30. Sleeping arrangements are a little weird. Jaden claims the guest bedroom and Randy agrees to sleep on the couch. Caleb and Noah end up in bed with me. Noah and Caleb refuse to sleep by each other because they claim that each of them kick. They didn’t lie. I end up sleeping between them and have feet in my face and back along with grinding teeth sounds. It is amazing how one can survive with only 3-4 hours sleep, but I just kept saying that if I could get through until Sunday night, I could sleep then. Because they all wanted different foods for breakfast, I made 4 different ones. Caleb and Randy wanted pancakes and bacon.Noah wanted cinnamon-sugar toast and apple juice. Jaden wanted Sister Schubert Rolls. Because I was so busy trying to get the kids fed and dressed for church, I forgot to eat until we were almost ready to leave so I made me a peanut/jelly fold over. Didn’t want my stomach growling during church. During the “down times” when the kids were not watching PJ Mask on cartoon network, they made paper airplane. Lots of paper air planes. about 25 or them. Our house had white paper airplane every where. The paper cuts on the bottom of my feet will hopefully heal quickly.
It is now Sunday afternoon and the kids are running all over the house with the planes, with cartoons blaring in the background. Knowing that their parents will be back around 5 to come to their anniversary dinner here at the house, I suggest that we run to get some balloons and anniversary cards. Of course this means back to the Dollar Store where we achieve our goal, plus find a few other items they can’t live without. As soon as we open the back door to come back in the house, the balloons escape and we run trying to catch them. We couldn’t catch them, so back to the Dollar store for more balloons. They got so upset seeing the balloons fly away, I just didn’t have the heart to not go get more. By this time, we have had conversations about them calling me something other than Nana. Telling them that I think it makes me sound old, Noah suggest that I be Corn and Randy be Dog as Corndogs are his favorite food right now. Caleb thinks I need to be called Lolli and Randy is Pops, but I tell him that we already have those names for some in-laws in our family. So Caleb decides that make I should be called TT because I drink tea all day but then they start cracking up saying that it makes me sound like I’m going potty all day. (They dont know how right they are) So we are back to square one on what my name should be.
Jodi and Eric make it in town and we had a great dinner, celebrating their anniversary, but really, Randy and I were celebrating that our babysitting weekend was drawing to a close. We survived. No emergencies, no melt downs, (us or the kids) and the kids actually looked a little sad when they got in the car to go home.
We have decided that in spite of being exhausted, it was great knowing that the kids had a great time and that hopefully the memories that were made, will be remembered for a long time. Maybe in about 6 months when we are rested up, they can come spend the night with us again.

Blue Ribbon Carrot Cake

I have made this cake twice in one week. The first time I made it was for a friends birthday and used some of the batter to make about 6 cupcakes so Randy and I could have some. Having a new neighbor next to us, 3 of the cupcakes went to her and so I got one and Randy had two. Well, I can tell you that just having one simply was enough to leave me with a craving for more carrot cake. This recipe was handed to me back in 2002 when, at a company picnic, Randy was talked into being in a dunking booth and all the employees bought tickets trying to dunk him. If you know Randy, you will know that the Penny loafer-Polo shirt wearing, brief case carrying man was not in “hog heaven” that day. But I walked away with this great recipe of a cake that one of the ladies from the office brought to the all day picnic.
Today there were 8 ladies at the house for a salad luncheon and since I had not yet satisfied the carrot cake craving, I decided to make it again. All I can tell you is that it always gets rave reviews and as several of the ladies and a couple of the husbands who were taken a piece said, “this is the best carrot cake” It is simple and wonderful.

2 1/2 cups flour
2 teas baking soda
1/2 teas salt
2 teas cinnamon (I added an extra one to make 3 teas total)
3 eggs, well beaten
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups sugar
2 teas vanilla
1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups grated carrots
1 (3 1/2 oz) can flaked coconut
1 cup finely chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1/3 cup orange juice

Combine flour, soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
Combine eggs, oil, buttermilk,sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
Stir in flour mixture, pineapple, carrots, coconut and nuts.
Pour into well greased and floured 3 (9″) pans.
Bake at 350 for about 23-28 minutes or until cake tests done. If you use one 9×13 pan, remove enough batter to make about 4 cupcakes and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until cake tests done. Cupcakes will only need about 15 minutes to bake.

When cake is done, remove from oven and using a pastry brush, brush each layer with the orange juice allowing it to spread over each layer. Let cool for about 10 min and remove layers onto sheets of waxed paper or cooling rack.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (1 lb) box of powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (8 oz) softened cream cheese
1-2 tables orange juice concentrate (I bought orange juice concentrate and allowed to thaw so that it gave the frosting a stronger “orange” taste.

Combine the powdered sugar, butter and cream cheese and mix until well blended. Add the orange juice concentrate to make frosting a spreading consistency.

Divide the frosting between the 3 layers, saving enough to frost the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle more very finely chopped pecans or walnuts over top of cake.

German Chocolate Sheet Cake

We are having friends over for dinner tonight and I know they are chocoholics so was wanting to make them something that I haven’t made them before. Looking through my old recipes, I came across this and since I had everything needed, it became the cake for dessert tonight. Whipped up some whipping cream to spoon over the top because, well, it has been several days since I have had whipped cream and a girl can only go so long without it. Taken from a Southern Living Magazine several years ago…

1 box of Duncan Hines German Chocolate Cake mix
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
1 3/4 cup water (I used milk)

Beat all above ingredients for 3 minutes and pour into a greased 15×10 jelly roll pan. Bake get 350 for about 15 min or until cake is done in center.

While cake is baking, combine the following:
1 (14 oz) can of Sweetened Condensed milk (eagle brand)
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
1/3 cup coconut
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (the recipe didn’t call for these but I added them and am so glad I did)

Stir eagle brand, coconut, pecans and chocolate chips and spread over cake when it comes out of oven and still hot. Spread evenly and broil on lowest rack in oven for about 2 minutes or until bubbly. You can add a frosting if desired but I just sprinkled over a homemade hot fudge topping over the top after cooling the cake for about 15 minutes.
Serve with ice cream or whipped cream or both.

Two Blondes In New York

I didn’t say real blondes, but nonetheless, we came, we saw and we left…FAT!

By the pictures we posted, everyone kept asking us if our main intent of being in New York City was to eat our way through. Why else do people come here?

We would get a text from a family member asking us if we were going to The Met. our response was…we were headed there but we got sidetracked when we walked by Angelos Pizza. A friend of my daughter’s texted her and ask her if we were going to go see a Broadway musical. We were so excited to hopefully be a part of the crowd at Times square where everyone gathers to get last minute available seats to the shows. But as we walked by this great Middle Eastern restaurant that we had heard had the best hummus and spanakopita, we didn’t make it in time to get tickets.
We can proudly say that we ate in Little Italy, Hells Kitchen (which by the way is totally different from what I use to know as Hells Kitchen, which was my moms, because she got in such a bad mood when she had to cook), Manhattan and the Theatre District. My husband has promised to take me back in 2 years so we can experience restaurants in Soho, the Bronx and Juniors’ cheesecake in Brooklyn. Because Jaden was hungry after he finished with the concert, we even got food from a street vendor. We dined at a Japanese restaurant, my first. Loved it. Had the most awesome experience of dining one evening at Del Frisco’s across the street from Radio City Hall. Do not get me started on all the food we had at The Plaza.
Not only was our waist growing by the day, but our feet were so swollen our shoes were tight. I guess when you walk as much as we did, all the food goes to your feet.
The laughter and the memories that we bought back were priceless. I remember seeing a credit card commercial of two people taking a trip and the memories which were made. That is how we felt. Each day gave us so many new memories and so much laughter.
Our reason for going was that Jaden, our 16 year old grandson plays in an orchestra which was invited to play at Carnegie Hall last Friday evening, March 30th. Jodi and I were the ones who were so blessed to be given this trip by our husbands. So we packed our suitcases and off we flew to New York. This was Jodi’s first trip, so I wanted her to be able to see as much as possible.
They say (whoever they are) that your kids don’t see us for who we are and that they don’t want to see their parents aging. This saying became very real to me when we would come to a intersection and the light would say that we had 3 seconds to get across 5th Ave. Jodi would grab my hand and say, “come on mom, we can make it” and then run across while 35 yellow taxi’s were headed straight for us. Then there was the night when, after crying, seeing Jaden up on the stage at Carnegie and all the emotions that went along with the pride and excitement, Jodi tells me, “Mom, we only have 15,000 steps on my Fitbit, it’s only 11 p.m., let’s take Jaden to the Empire state Building” Thank God the Empire State building stays open until 2:00a.m. Why what if it didn’t and we would have been forced to go back to our room by 11 and get more than 5 hours sleep? She was always so sweet to remind me that we can always sleep on the way home and that she would even let me fall asleep on her shoulder, unless she fell asleep before me, using my shoulder as her pillow.
The last morning before leaving New York, we were so excited to wake up to a snow storm that had blanketed Central Park. Of course, we had to walk to see this amazing sight. As we walked the 2 blocks to CP, guess who stepped into a slush puddle of melted snow? Of course I didn’t have boots on so the rest of the morning as we took pictures, in the 34 degree weather, my socks had frozen to my feet. Don’t feel sorry for me, with them frozen, it helped me not feel the pain of the blisters that had formed on my feet from walking 17,000 steps the day before. On a normal week, I don’t reach 17,000 steps, much less a day.
But because taxi drivers had told us that we looked more like sisters than mother/daughter (yes, I know they were just going for a good tip, but at my age you take any compliment you get) and one taxi driver told us that the ride back to our hotel was on him, (we did finally find our credit card so we could pay him) We actually never took the wrong subway anywhere, with lots of help from the locals.
We were two blondes in New York, trying to see as much of New York as possible, via the subway. Scary thought. Learning the subway at the age of 67 was a little intimating. How do they even make those subway maps so small? We did learn that train Q doesn’t run on the weekends from Brooklyn. Thank goodness, train N & R do. But our cute little subway map didn’t tell us that or if it did, it was in such small print we couldn’t see it. Next trip I will remember to take a magnifying glass with me. The laughter, the experiences, and the memories gave us so much to be thankful. It was wonderful knowing that we could spend 5 days together and still leave laughing and already planning another trip.
Yes, the bond between mother and daughter is absolutely one of the richest blessings of life….the joy and laughter, the memories, the love…are all real, even if the hair color isn’t!