Frosty’s Follies

Today Frosty suggested that we go out shopping like we use to while we lived in Dallas. To just go out all day to get among the Christmas crowds and hit the local Starbucks for a gingerbread latte and see what Santa has out this year on display. It was then that I suggested that we go looking for a new suitcase for us to take to Mexico and Italy. So off we go to look for the perfect traveling companion which would hold all our clothes that hopefully make us look like we “belong” and not like a tourist.

Getting out in this most beautiful day made me hungry. When he ask me if I was ready for the Starbucks stop, I informed him that maybe we should start off with something a little more filling, so off to Chick Fila we go, all the while me listening to him talk under his breath about “we have just left the house where there was plenty to eat but now she wants to go to Chick Fila” Maybe Frosty isn’t quite in his Christmas spirit yet. When I ask him to repeat what he had just said, he told me that he was glad we were having lunch out because then we could save the food at home for dinner. When I told him that was not what it sounded like when he was muttering, but I let this one go. After all, I didn’t want to start off our fun Christmas shopping day not speaking. So after we downed some chicken nuggets and a peppermint chocolate chip shake, we headed off to look at luggage. We stopped at a store that has a little bit of everything, (no it wasn’t Walmart) ok, it was almost Walmart, it was Ross. So after looking over the luggage and deciding that we needed to go other places before deciding, I informed Frosty that after much discussion with several friends who have traveled extensively, I wanted to go look at the backpacks. Thinking that would be a great way to carry all my necessities, leaving my arms free to hold the gelato or pizza in Italy or hail cabs in Mexico, my mind was made up to buy a backpack. I found the perfect size, beautiful, quilted olive green backpack which had some outside pockets. Asking him to hold my purse so I could try it on for size, I proudly, turn around showing him what I look like with a back pack. No I didn’t ask him if it made my rear end look big, but I did ask him what he thought. This was his reply, “well, if you really must know, you look like a Ninja Turtle”
The backpack went back on the shelf and we left the store in not so much of a holly jolly mood.

We had already decided that today we would visit the Apple Store to look at the Smart Watches. I had told our kids that instead of buying me those cute little signs that sometimes read, “what happens at Nana’s stays at Nanas or a shirt that might read, TGIF This Granny is Fantastic, I would rather them just donate to my Smart Watch Fund. So in anticipation to being gifted with one, we decided to just go look at the watches. We walked out with the cutest little Smart watch EVER. It is now synced with my phone and everything is out there in the cloud. So any money that comes in now from the kids can just go to cover a cute new color band for the watch or a new phone cover that matches the cute little watch. The first 3 hours it was the smartest watch I could imagine. But after coming home and sitting down to watch a Christmas Hallmark movie, I glance over to look at my new watch and there is an alert that is telling me to “get up and move around, you have been sitting too long.” WHAT? I now have a watch that makes me feel guilty for sitting and watching a movie? What have I done? After a little longer I get another alert telling me to breathe deeply for a minute as it is good for my brain. Are you kidding me? It knows what shape my brain is in?
If I cannot train this so called “Smart watch” a little better than it is now, it is going back to Apple. If I designed a smart watch it would go something like this:
You Go Girl….it has been over an hour since you ate a cookie, why don’t you have another one.

Ding Dong, Ding Dong, it’s time for your favorite Christmas movie, grab yourself a cup of hot cocoa and sit down and relax.

Oh Bless Your Heart, you have worked hard enough today, drive up to Donut Worry and buy that apple strudel donut you love.

Dolly Parton singing Working 9 to 5 and “just warm up the leftovers, you don’t need to cook a meal tonight.

Now that’s truly a Smart Watch that I would make. But until then, I guess I had better close and start walking around before it alerts me that I have been on this computer long enough or reminds me that I have only burned 23 calories today. And to think I paid money for all this guilt. Merry Christmas to me!

Home & Hope

We are in the middle of packing to leave Arizona. I must say it is harder than I expected. When we first began thinking about moving, we truly had thoughts of possibly coming back here as we have some of our kids here and have met some wonderful friends. But as the time grows closer, we feel drawn to possibly close this chapter of our lives and be open for what God has for us and where He leads. As I have looked back over my life, my security has been placed so much in my home and where I lived. This morning, in reading in Cheque Book of the Book of Faith, the scripture was “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust; his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Psa 91:4”
As I read on, this sentence really stuck out, “How can we distrust when Jehovah himself, becomes house and home, refuge and rest to us?”
It made me stop and think about where my security and trust lie. Yes, I have felt very secure in some of the places where we have lived. Several of our homes have been in a guarded and gated community, which allowed me to feel very safe. Other homes, we were blessed to be in places of quiet and “safe” communities, where we still lived in an Ozzie & Harriot” neighborhood. But as we leave this place, not really knowing where we are ending up after a few months of playing gypsies, it is easy to begin to feel a little apprehensive. Where will we live? What kind of home will we have? As we begin a new season of trying to “trust and obeying” where God leads, may my hope be in Him. Not in a different house, but truly in Him. The God who promises to be my shield and buckler.
Because our plans to stay for a 3 month period in Italy,is just around the corner, of course, stirrings of doubt and worry can lead me to take my eyes off Jesus. It is easy to place them on things that can arise. Did we book places that are safe? Can we (at our age) manipulate the trains or buses? Can we read the maps and get to where we are suppose to be?
A friend yesterday suggested on Face Book that there are 24 chapters in the gospel of Luke, which if we read one chapter a day in December, by Christmas Day we would have read about the life of Jesus. That by Dec 25th, we might see Him in a whole new way. So that is what I am doing. My prayer for December is that in reading the Book of Luke, may my heart see Him in a whole new light. That gained knowledge of Him, would be more than just head knowledge. May He become the Christ Child who covers me when I trust. ”
“That I would see Him as the Lord who cannot lie; he must be faithful to his people; his promise must stand. This sure truth is all the shield we need….Come my soul, hide under those great wings, lose thyself among those arms of hope and strength.”*

Lord,May this Christmas season, rekindle my trust and strength in You, who came to save that which was lost. For You are my hope and shield. No matter the place, no matter the house. May my home and hope forever be in You.

*Cheque Book of the Book of Faith

Lemon Cello Cake

Last evening we were invited to a dinner social where i had agreed to bring dessert. After seeing the menu the hostess was serving, this cake came into my mind as a great ending to nmmm

the lovely meal! Everyone said it was just delicious and since there was only 2 slices left, i think it was a hit. One man even ask for a piece to take home!

1 box of Duncan Hines Lemon cake mix

8 oz sour cream

1 1/3 cup water

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

3 whole eggs plus 1 egg white

1/2 teas salt

2 tables oil

Preheat oven to 325!

Mix all ingredients together and beat 4 min! Pour into 3 greased and floured 9″ round pans and bake until cake tests done. About 23-25 min! Be careful not to overbake!

Cool layers and then turn them out onto waxed paper! Using pastry brush, brush lemon cello over tops of each layer!


1 (8 oz) container mascarpone cheese

1 jar of lemon curd ( i used a 10.5 oz jar of lemon curd from Trader Joes)

4 oz of Cool whip

Beat mascarpone cheese and lemon curd until smooth. Add Cool Whip and mix in just until blended!

Place one layer of cake in cake plate. Top with 1/3 of the filling onto cake. Top with second layer. Using another 1/3 of filling on second cake layer. Place last cake layer on top of filling!


Whip 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream and 1/2 cup powdered sugar together until stiff peaks form. Stir in remaining filling with whipped cream. Frost sides and top with the mixture

Garnish with yellow sugar crystals and chocolate Christmas tress

Hallmark Movies & Memories

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one who reads or follows ChocolateCastles! After burning one iron skillet of cornbread this morning, paying more attention to a Hallmark movie than to the oven, I was reminded of so many Thanksgivings, waking up to the smell of onions & celery being cooked in a cube of butter, getting ready to be added to the cornbread that had been sitting out for 2 days, drying. Isn’t it amazing all the memories which come flooding back, thru familiar scents or sounds?

This morning, as I prepared for Eric, our son in law, to come over to brine the turkey for smoking, my mind began to just reminisce over so many past holidays.
What is the first thing each year that brings back certain memories to you? Is it music, food, special family members that you gather together during the holidays?

For some reason, maybe because I’m getting old and allow myself to sit and watch more movies than ever before, the memories have come so much more this year than before. As we sit each night (yes, even Frosty sits with me and watches this year) and turn on the Hallmark channel, the old fashioned ways they seem to gravitate towards in spending Christmas made me take notice. (Notice I didn’t say “sit up and take notice” as usually by the time we sit down to watch, I’m half laying down but still sitting up enough to hold a cookie and a glass or cup of tea) Why do these movies make us cry? Why does our hearts twinge every time they climb up on a trailer to go on a hay ride? Do they ever get enough Christmas cookies or sick of hot chocolate?
When they walk around the beautiful old fashioned little towns, laden with snow, singing Christmas carols, why do we tear up? It finally dawned on me today. That is the Christmases we truly dream of. That our Christmases have become so much about displaying the perfect designer Christmas tree or having the latest new set of Christmas dishes from Pier One. And yes, I’m as guilty as the next little elf that is standing in line at Hobby Lobby buying even more decorations because the 20 boxes that we already have are not enough. And I am really guilty of that. Is much of our time around this time of year spent standing in line to purchase what will be a perfect gift for a friend or loved one? Wonder if they might enjoy us treating them to a movie or lunch instead of a gift? What if our time to be with them was appreciated more than a new sweater or gadget?
As I sat there this morning watching yet another Hallmark movie, where they were putting popcorn on strands of string and making stars out of sticks and placing them on the tree before passing out cut out cookies (that were not store bought), it became clear to me that that is the kind of Christmas that touches the heart, at least it does mine. In striving for our “perfection Norman Rockwell Christmas, I have lost my sense of simple, yet meaningful holidays.
Maybe it’s my age, maybe it is just the Christmas music that is already on all over our house. This year, because so much of our “stuff” is already packed and ready to be moved 2 days after Christmas, we did not decorate, nor are we shopping like previous years. We are too busy packing for the move. But it does seem like we are enjoying the cooking and the movies a little more this year. Maybe its because I cannot be concerned about getting the house looking like the perfect Christmas backdrop.
All these thoughts got me to thinking of ways to bring back some of the old traditions. So Thursday, we are passing around a little bowl with each person’s name on slips of paper. Everyone will draw out a name. Then, they have one week to make a homemade ornament for the name which they drew out of the bowl. We will have dinner and present the homemade ornaments to the recipients. We are also playing games after dinner before sitting down to ginger cookies and hot chocolate to watch Christmas Vacation, which we use to watch every year.
The movies have inspired me. Our place cards this year are clear ornaments which are filled with hot chocolate mix, mini marshmallows and chocolate chips. They can take these home to hang on the tree to use when they sit one night to watch a movie.
It was so exciting for some of our kids to text us this week and tell us that they want their own Christmas names like Randy and I have. Years ago, we changed our names the week of Thanksgiving to Frosty and Noel. We changed our Voice Mail to “Hi you have reached Frosty and Noel, I’m baking cookies and Frosty’s Christmas shopping at the mall, when we get through, we will give you a call.” That began probably 10 years ago and we still have friends who call us Frosty and Noel all through Christmas. So when our kids began to want this, well….can I just say that this mom’s heart teared up as if Paula Deen had tasted one of my cakes and declared me her new best friend. That same day, I texted the rest of our kids to ask them if they wanted to participate and all but one couple agreed. And if you know our family at all, you know the ones who said, “mom, you are kidding, you know I just can’t do that” and then quickly changed the subject. So here are our new family Christmas names:

Christi and Tim are now Candy Cane and Buddy the Elf

Cam and Mandy are Jolly and Holly

Jodi and Eric are Snowflake and Sparky

Shannon and Jamin are Shanaclause and Jingle

So there you have it folks, we are on our way to making our own Hallmark Movie!

If you see us on the Hallmark Channel, you might want to have a Kleenix handy. I think when we all start to sing Frosty the Snowman gathered around our tree (with the strands of marshmallows because we ate all the popcorn, )that we just bought down at the Christmas tree lot, sipping hot chocolate from Starbucks, and nibbling on Little Debbie Gingerbread cookies, it might just bring a tear to your eye!!!

Spiced Applesauce Cake

Last Tuesday I took this to a Ladies Bible Study and there was not one bite left. In fact, several ladies ask me for the recipe. I made them into brownies and sprinkled walnuts on top (instead of in them like the recipe called for) and then sprinkled powdered sugar over the top. They were really good. So tonight, instead of letting the rest of the jar of applesauce go to waste, I decided to use the same recipe and make them into muffins. The actual recipe calls to make it in a 9×13 pan and frost it. Am posting the frosting recipe as well, in case you want extra yumminess to go along with your coffee. But sometimes, the simple flavors of spice, cinnamon and apples goes so well with a cup of hot tea or coffee. So tonight, muffins it is….taken from Land O Lakes web site You know, if it comes from LOL, it will be good.

1/2 cup of softened butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups applesauce (I had a jar of the cinnamon flavored so it added more flavor of cinnamon than if you use just the regular applesauce, but can you really ever have too much cinnamon?)
1 1/2 teas baking soda
1/2 teas baking powder
1 1/2 teas cinnamon
1/4 teas allspice
1/2 teas pie spice
1/2 teas salt
3/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans (I had walnuts, so used those)
1 teas vanilla

1/2 cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teas vanilla
2-3 tables milk
1/4 cup chopped nuts

Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 13×9″ baking pan. Set aside.

Combine all cake ingredients except raisins and nuts in a bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until ingredients are moistened. Beat a hight speed until smooth. Add the raisins and nuts and stir into batter.

Pour into greased pan and bake 30-35 minutes or until center is firm to the touch and edges begin to pull away from the sides of pan. Cool Completely.

For Frosting:
Melt the butter over medium heat. Continue cooking, stirring constantly and watching closely, 4-6 minutes or until butter just starts to turn golden. Butter will get foamy and bubble. Remove from heat and cool completely.

Combine the browns butter with the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and milk until frosting is smooth and spreadable. Frost cooled cake and sprinkle with 1/4 cup nuts, if desired.

Baked Apple Pie Cheesecake

Years ago when I lived in Corpus Christ, TX, one of my favorite dessert memories was from Luby’s Cafeteria. Sometimes, when we would go, they would have a cinnamon apple topped cheesecake. It was delicious and so different from other cheesecakes. Very creamy and the flavor combination of apple, cinnamon with the cream cheese was just awesome. On the back cover of Nov 2016 Taste of Home I found a recipe that resembled that wonderful memory.

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
2 teas cinnamon, divided
1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup old fashioned oats or quick cooking oats
2 tables butter, melted
4 packages (8 oz ea so total 32 oz) softened cream cheese
1 teas vanilla
4 eggs

Cook apples with 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teas cinnamon in saucepan until apple slices are tender. cool
Heat oven to 325. Combine graham cracker crumbs, oats, butter, remaining cinnamon and 2 tables of the sugar, press onto bottom of a 9″ springform pan.
Beat cream cheese, vanilla and remaining sugar in medium bowl with mixer until blended. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each, just until blended.
Spread half the apples over bottom crumb crust to within 1/2″ of edge. Cover the slices with the cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate remaining apples until ready to serve.
Bake cheesecake 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 min, or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim. Place in fridge for 4 hours.
Drain remaining apples that you had placed in the refrigerator, just before serving. Arrange apples on top of cake as shown in photo.

Thank you Taste of Home for another trip down memory lane and a great recipe.

Chocolate Pumpkin Magic Cake

Last year when I posted this, it was after eating it at a gathering at church. It came across my FaceBook memory yesterday and am so glad it did. It is now in the oven and will be devoured within 24 hours. The kids are coming to dinner tomorrow evening so we will have to “test” it tonight just to be sure it is still as good as we remember. Would not want to serve them something that is not top notch. If you didn’t make this last year, do yourself a favor and make it this year. You will be so thankful you did. It is so so good. The combination of pumpkin and chocolate with French Vanilla pudding frosting is scrumptious.

Mix a Duncan Hines Devils Food chocolate cake mix according to directions and pour into a 9×13″ baking dish. Do not bake until pumpkin layer is on it.

Pumpking Layer
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 heaping teas pumpkin pie spice
1 cup packed light brown sugar

Mix and whisk until well combined. Pour slowly over chocolate cake mix. Bake in preheated 350 oven for about 50-55 min or until no longer jiggly in the middle and toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely at room temperature.


1 (4 oz) size box French Vanilla Instant pudding mix
1 cup cold milk
8 oz container Cool Whip
4-5 gingersnap cookies, crushed for sprinkling on top (opt)

Mix the milk and the pudding until thick. With mixer on low speed, mix in thawed Cool Whip. When thoroughly mixed, spread over top of the cooled cake and place, covered in fridge until ready to serve. Sprinkle the gingersnaps over the top, if desired.

*Recipe taken from Pinterest Wash You Dry

Heart Control vs Gun Control

This past week has been one of which America has watched 13 people die from being shot in a place where they never imagined anything but going and having fun. This hit close to us as we have friends whose daughter goes to that same place on college night for line dancing. Another one of our friends knew the guard who was shot and killed during that tragedy. Last night, as we watched the news, a lady whose son was one of the victims who died that night was shouting, “do not send me prayers, give me gun control…I do not want to know you are praying for me, just pass more gun control.” My heart went out to her as you could feel her anger, her frustration and hurt and as a mom of 3 son’s, I can’t imagine loosing any of them, especially through no fault of their own.
We are living in a day that is continually bringing to light more and more scenes just like the one mentioned above. Will more gun control eliminate the violence? Will more rules eradicate the problems which seem to be overtaking our world?
We have continually pushed God out of our lives. We have decided that we do not need Him in our homes, schools, work places and government. We have replaced the worship of the Creator with worshiping ourselves. We now live in a world which seems to think that everything has to be about “what makes me happy” without regard for others. Our kids are being raised to think that everything has to be about their rights and are entitled to what is “rightfully” theirs. We, (and I am so guilty of this) as parents have allowed our kids to take priority in our lives, even over God. We didn’t do it on purpose, we just wanted them to be happy and to give them things that we didn’t have. But in that process, we have taken away their ability to discern what life should really be….we were created in God’s image and were created for His glory, not our own.
In the past, when families were family and kids were taught right from wrong, we had the same laws regarding guns, but why the difference in then and now? We have more rules now, but more shootings and anger.
Are our hearts different now? We keep shouting for more gun control, but what if we were out there shouting for more heart control? What if we, as Christians were out there showing God’s love and power over evil. That maybe if our lives showed the kind of love that we are suppose to be living out to others, maybe that would draw others to God and what His love could do to our hearts. As a Christian, I sit there in worship service every week and listen to how we should be living lives that would make others want what I have. That I need to be living in a way that would show the world that being a Christian is indeed a blessing to have God in my life that helps me bear my burdens and can change my heart. A heart that loves others in spite of our differences. A heart that cares enough about others that I can go out of my way to help, when needed.
We have allowed children to sit for hours and play video games which kill others. I’m not saying that every child who plays these games will grow up to kill someone. But maybe some are losing discernment between reality and fantasy?

The scripture that comes to mind is: “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

Are we living our lives in such a way that it is hard to “think on things that are pure or noble or lovely”? Are we teaching our kids to not only respect themselves, but others as well?

Whether Democrat, Republican, Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, Muslin, Catholic, Baptist; what are we teaching the next generation? We lash out in hatred to others who do not believe as we do. We insist on our rights, at the cost of others. We try to handle all our own anger, burdens or issues ourselves when we have a God who understands our needs. Why not trust Him to handle our lives, and in so doing, surrender to the One who gave His all for us.

Maybe we should allow Him to have more heart control over our lives, and in so doing, maybe gun control would never be an issue……

Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Cake

It was so much fun to make up a recipe today for our friends coming over tonight from church. I have always wanted to try this and I figured before my first heart attack or before all the butter and cream cheese went to my head and caused dementia, I needed to do this. Just finished putting the final touches on it and I can’t wait until we cut it tonight. Randy and I have set a new world record this week for us. Do not ask me why, but we have not had dessert in 4 nights. I do not count the Hershey with Almonds bar I ate last night as dessert. and..he doesn’t count scraping out the last of the Blue Bell Pumpkin Spice Ice cream out of the container as dessert. Those are just things that we eat to clean up the freezer and cabinets.
So tonight, we have real dessert. If we like it as much as i think we will, it will certainly go on our dessert buffet table for Christmas. Hum…after I just wrote that last sentence I started to remember all the desserts I have said that about over the years. It might be time to buy a larger buffet table. But here is the recipe for the cake which we will unveil tonight to our study group of 12…if there is any left over, Randy and I will finish it off tomorrow night until we make a real dessert….remember, leftovers do not count as real dessert….yes, I live in an fantasy world!

Duncan Hines Devils Food Chocolate cake mix, made according to directions on box for 2- 9″ round cake layers. (I added 1 teas almond extract to batter)
Bake as directed and cool.

For the cream cheese layer:
1 (9′) round cake pan sprayed with Pam

1 8 oz softened cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teas vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream

Mix all ingredients until well combined. Pour cream cheese mixture into the prepared 9″ pan and bake at 350 until cheesecake is done…about 20-25 minutes or until knife comes out clean in the middle. Cool and then remove from pan onto a piece of waxed paper.


2 sticks (1 cup) softened unsalted butter
3/4 cup cocoa
2 teas vanilla
enough whipping cream or milk to make mixture spreadable (about 1/3 cup, but add by tablespoons until it is of right consistency after doing the 1/3 cup)
5 cups powdered sugar

Melt butter with cocoa. Stir to combine and add powdered sugar and beat until smooth with the milk or whipping cream. Add the vanilla and mix until all is smooth and fluffy.

Place one layer of the chocolate cake on serving platter. Using 2/3 cup of the frosting, frost the top of this layer. Place cream cheese layer on top and frost it with another 1/3 of the frosting. Place 2ned layer of the chocolate cake on top of cheesecake layer. Frost sides and top of cake with remaining frosting.

Decorate with Chocolate Covered Cherries and chocolate chips.

Pumpkin Spice Scones

Today was the last Wednesday that some precious lady’s met in our home for Bible Study. The study was a 6 week study and since it was Fall, I tried to bake something pumpkin each Wednesday. Today I knew that these pumpkin scones would make the perfect treat for our last study. Served with butter and apricot jam, they were a hit. My sweet Shannon, who had sent me packets of flavored sugar a few weeks back, had sent multiple flavors of sugar. So today, before baking I sprinkled on the Salted Caramel and that added to the already delicious flavor.

2 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tables baking powder
1 heaping teas ground cinnamon
1 teas pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teas salt
1/4 lb (1 stick) cold butter, cut into chunks
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup whipping cream

Stir together the dry ingredients. Then, using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until mixture resembles pea size crumbs.

In a small mixing bowl, combine 3/4 cup canned pumpkin and 1/2 cup whipping cream. Whisk until combined and then pour over the dry ingredients. Stir just until flour mixture and pumpkin mixture are just combined. Turn out onto a floured piece of waxed paper or counter. Using rolling pin, roll out to about 1″ thickness. Remember the less you handle the dough, the more flaky it will be. The more you handle it, the tougher it will be. Using a biscuit cutter, (I used a juice glass because it gave me the size I wanted) cut dough into equal portions and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle sugar over the top.

Bake in preheated 375 oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until they test done.