Sunday, September 25, 2011

Soul Searching Sunday: Thankfulness

Raise Thankful Hearts

As the nights grow colder I become more thankful than ever that I have a warm, soft bed to crawl into at night.  I am thankful to have such great people in my life, that love me as much as I love them.  I am thankful that I am able to see with my own eyes, listen with my own ears, smell, taste, and feel.

My life has its fair share of stresses, sadness, and disappointment; but all in all I have much happiness and good in my life.  Many graces of our lives are overlooked everyday.  Sometimes we forget. We forget to look at the bright side of here and now, and instead focus on the past, or the ever changing future.

I am guilty of this, and I often find myself dreaming of when life will improve.  I am not saying that wishing for future betterment is a bad thing, but don't forget to appreciate all the wonders of today.

I'm sure most people focus on the past, or the future, to forget the pressures of their present.  I ask you to stop.  Think about right now.  Think of all the goodness and joy in your life today, not the bad.  Just think for a moment without an ounce of resentment about life, of how truly wondrous life itself is.  How lucky we are to be blessed with it, and all the things it brings.  Remember to be thankful for what you do have, not cross or upset about what you don't.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Breakfast Bran Muffins

     Starting your day off right is very important, and it is something too many of us neglect to do.  Here is a yummy breakfast muffin that will help you keep on the right track. This muffin is perfect slightly warm, with a little butter or cream cheese spread in the middle.  A ¼ cup nuts like pecans or walnuts can be added to this recipe too. ( My pantry unfortunately lacked nuts, so I couldn't put any in when I made these tonight.) Bon appetit!


Breakfast Bran Muffins

1 cup wheat bran
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 ripe bananas (mashed)
1 cup milk
½ cup finely shredded carrots
¼ cup dates (or raisins)
¾ cup spiced chunky apple sauce
¼ cup honey
¼ cup molasses
2 eggs
2 tablespoons oil


Mix together dry ingredients. Mix together wet ingredients. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Make sure not to over mix! Add more oats, bran or four to mixture if batter is too runny. Grease and flour muffin tin, and fill ¾ of the way with mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes approximately 24 muffins. About 100 calories per muffin. 

I have always loved the heartiness of whole wheat and whole grain products, even as a kid. So don't be afraid to give these to the little ones too!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Simple Games

Today video games, computer games, and  interactive websites have just about taken over in many households.  I miss the days of real games, that required physical activity.  Not a screen, not a controller, real life movement.

I cherish the memories I have of getting home after school, running across the street to where our dear friends lived, and playing until the sun went down.  We would climb trees, jump rope to rhymes, play spys, attempt to climb, and swing on the rope swing.  We would play tag, cops and robbers, and sometimes we would just walk around making up different scenarios to act on.  In the summers we would have water gun/balloon fights, and would get to play my favorite game of all: night hide and go seek.  We played in a very large fenced in backyard with many little nooks and crannies to hide in.  The trick in this game was to keep moving.  We would rotate hiding spots when the seeker had all ready looked there.

I find it rather disturbing that many children don't know, and don't want to get to know, the freedom of playing outside for extended periods of time.  Playing is not just for fun either.  It helps children develop muscle control and hand eye coordination.  It helps agility, balance, flexibility and strength.  Physically playing will not only help children further develop physically, but psychologically as well.  In a good environment, playing helps build self esteem and promotes a child's sense of self worth. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Down the Lazy River

Boating with loved ones is a simple, yet very memorable and lovely way to spend any lazy, late, summer day.  Boat rentals are always available if you don't own a boat of your own.  Pair your boating trip with a picnic lunch and you could really make an afternoon of it.  Get out enjoy the scenery before the cold weather sets in.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I Welcome Autumn With Cake

The season is changing as we know it, I mean it's already September for goodness sake. And of course the perfect way to greet any new season is with food.  So naturally you need a wonderful fall recipe. This is a Better Homes & Gardens recipe that I found in one of my mother's old magazines. It is one of my fiance's all-time-favorite cakes, I love it; and thus I shall share it with you.  


I love pumpkin desserts, and if you do too, you'll LOVE this one. This cake is lovely for drop in guests because it keeps rather well in the refrigerator.  Serve it chilled to keep its pristine shape, or if you don't mind a sloppier cake, warm it up a bit for a delicious, yummy, gooey treat.  For drinks with this dessert: I like it with tea, my fiance takes his with milk, and my mother prefers coffee.  Make sure to use the highest quality ingredients when making this cake, the chocolate for the ganache is the most important with this tip. I hope you enjoy this seasonal cake while it lasts! (And in my house it never lasts long... :) )



  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 to 1 cup canned pumpkin (I use about double that)
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 of an 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup good semisweet chocolate chips
  • Extra pumpkin pie spice for dusting


1.     Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease bottoms and sides of two 8x1-1/2-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with waxed paper; lightly flour pans. In bowl combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

2.     In a second bowl beat eggs and sugar with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in pumpkin. Add flour mixture; beat just until combined. Spread cake batter in prepared pans. Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near centers come out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack 10 minutes; remove and cool thoroughly.

3.     For filling, in a chilled mixing bowl beat whipping cream to soft peaks; set aside. In a second mixing bowl beat cream cheese until smooth; beat in powdered sugar. Fold in whipped cream. To assemble, place one cake layer on serving platter. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over bottom cake layer. Top with second cake layer. Refrigerate while preparing Chocolate Ganache.

 4.     In a small sauce pan heat just until boiling 1/2 cup of whipping cream. Remove from heat. Pour a cup of semisweet chocolate chips into the pan immediately, and let it sit for five minutes. Mix the cream and chocolate until smooth. Spread over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle lightly with pumpkin pie spice. Chill cake at least 1 hour before serving.

5.     Store cake, loosely covered, in refrigerator. Makes 8 servings.