That “Slap Yo Mama” Good Cookies and Cream Popcorn I’ve been raving about…

Today I am going to share my new favorite snack recipe with you.  I found it on Pinterest, and it is a definite do (unless you’re on a diet, then it’s a definite don’t because you will not be able to say no to it. You’ve been warned.)

It is so easy and pretty too.  I think I might give some away for Christmas.  Act surprised if you get it, okay?

This is the official recipe from the blog, Chef In Training. Nikki has loads of great recipes that you should check out, but this one was the one I was thankful for a couple of days back in my FB status.  Sorry, Nikki,  I was mostly joking when I also mentioned I wanted to slap you for inventing this snack crack.  It has ruined all my efforts to lose weight, but let’s be honest, who tries to lose weight over Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas anyway.  Masochists, that’s who.

Back on task…

THE Cookies and Cream Popcorn

2 bags of Healthy Pop White popcorn by Jiffy, popped

20-ish Oreos, finely crushed

24 oz White Almond Bark, melted in the microwave according to the directions on the back of the package

  • Line 2 cookie sheets with Parchment or wax paper.
  • Pour the popcorn into a bowl.  Transfer it to another huge bowl leaving the unpopped kernels behind while you’re melting the almond bark.
  • Pour 1/2 of melted bark onto the popcorn and toss.  Pour on the rest and toss.
  • Pour on 1/2 of the crushed Oreos; toss.  Pour on the rest and toss.
  • Spread the popcorn out on the 2 baking sheets while the almond bark sets up.

That’s it.

This is a photo of it from “the party that wasn’t” last weekend.

I wish I had a better photo of just it by itself, but I didn’t know this was going to be my next post

and now this is all that’s left..  There were 2 gallon bags full 3 days ago.

I don’t dare make anymore right now just for a photo because I might abandon all reason and eat it for breakfast with my coffee in front of the computer instead of eating my good girl greek yogurt and “training” for my first 5K next week.

Which brings me to my last thought on this matter.  If you do manage to get some of this from me as a gift next month, consider it a real Christmas miracle because I promise the entire way from my house to yours I will be dreaming of ripping open the packaging and double fisting it into my mouth.  Sharing it may ultimately be too much for me.

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Survival weekend

I have been so busy with company, John’s R & R, Halloween and the basement project that I haven’t had any time to sit down and write anything. I miss it, and can’t wait to put together some cooking posts, but today I’m just going to share a funny story.

John and I asked Joe what he learned on his first Boy Scout “survival” camp out when he got home Sunday. He said he learned a lot, but one thing stood out. He learned how to purify water.

Trying to reinforce what he learned, we asked lots of questions. When I asked why he’d ever need to do this, he said, “So you don’t get E D.”

My eyes about bugged out of my head thinking he’d seen too many Viagra commercials.

John, seeing my alarm, asked Joe what E D meant.

Joe: “Explosive diarrhea, duh!”

Duh, indeed.

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The shoe is on the other foot…

I just have to share one of my favorite Pins on Pinterest.  It has changed my life, and I have used its advice 5 times in the last 2 weeks alone.

It’s the shoe stretching one.

Yep.  It works!

I’ve had tons of trouble with getting shoes that fit right for years, and if I had only known this little trick, my closet would still be full of the darling shoes I loved, but was soon convinced were created by Satan himself to make my life a limping misery as a payment for being such a horrible teenager to my parents.

I had  a foot injury for, like, forever that I had operated on a couple of years ago.  Long story short, it didn’t really correct that problem, and actually caused more, meaning any kind of pressure on top of my foot was a no-no.  I mean a “Sweet Jesus, get this shoe off my foot before I have to be put into a straight jacket” kind of no-no.  Pretty much all shoes that are in any way stylish fit into that category.  Heels are over  for good since my foot barely bends now which is super fun in Yogalates but that’s another story…

Yellow Box Flip Flops Love

{via}

Anyway, I have always been a flip flop kind of girl.  Anyone whose been in a shoe store dedicated solely to Yellow Box shoes will completely understand.  They aren’t just comfy, they are ADORABLE!!  But I love my flip flops for another huge reason.  They don’t hurt my feet.  They will probably kill my back and feet later, but right now they mercifully don’t squeeze that spot on my foot that can make me see stars and think I’m going to pass out if it’s bumped just right.

Problem is that Mid- Missouri doesn’t really have flip flop weather between, say, October and April.  Although I am a Texan at the core, I have lived in enough cold and snowy places to know there is a time of year (I am not fibbing here, Texans) you actually pack them away.    This is the honest to goodness truth.

Ugg Boots Love

{via}

Enter my other favorite shoe.  Ugg boots.  House shoe boots.  Love them.  Love.  Them.

However, they just don’t go with everything.  Sometimes I  want a little more feminine, dressed up or professional image.  I’m not Kate Hudson so I just can’t pull off the “Uggs with everything short of a ballgown” look like she can.  Really, I don’t think even she could pull off being middle aged and wearing black work chinos tucked into house shoe boots.

Well, I’ve dated so many pairs of shoes thinking they were “The One”, that they would “complete me”, only to find they were like the rest, heart-breakers who left me crying… for Motrin.

So after years of searching, I found a brand of ballet flats I love from Garnet Hill, but for $100 a pop I need a little variety, and John would need a paper bag to breath into if I ordered all the colors I NEED.

Alas, I had resigned myself to 3 basic styles year round or ugly, elderly ladies’ footwear.  So when I saw this, I was S-K-E-P-T-I-C-A-L!!

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R & R doesn’t mean renovate and remodel…

One of the truths John and I have learned to live by is that if there is some free time (or money) we will probably spend it working on the ol’ money pit. This house has truly been a blessing and a curse. I’m sure it doesn’t help that I have big dreams for it, and John has proven himself up to the task of making my dreams, or at least a slightly modified version of them, come true little by little. Month by month. Year by year. Every time someone comes by they ask what new project we’re working on. So it should be no big surprise that we are now tackling another huge project, the basement. I’m sure I’ll be writing lots of posts about that over the next few months, but not today.

Today John took Avery to school, went to Lowe’s (of course) and then came home to wake me up. He’s staying home for a couple of weeks on his mandatory reintegration R & R from his deployment. He is supposed to be relaxing, resting, reintegrating, recuperating.

We knew he would start the basement project when he got back even before he left. It’s been on the “to-do” list for a while, and it’s # finally came up.  So it was kind of a surprise when the first words I heard from him this morning were, “Wake up. Let’s take a drive. It’s a beautiful morning, the leaves are gorgeous, and the winds are going to be up this afternoon so let’s catch them before they blow away. R and R doesn’t mean renovate and remodel.” Who could say no to that?

I’ve been meaning to get some photos anyway. I try to every year because we never know if this is our last fall in MO, and this Texas girl is overwhelmed by autumn’s beauty here. Even after the drought this last year, it’s far from disappointing. Just looking out my kitchen windows I can’t help but stop for just an extra sec to get a longer look to tuck into my memories.

View out the front kitchen window above my computer 10/12

View out the kitchen door 10/12

View out front door 10/12

We weren’t disappointed. We even had a quiet breakfast at a cafe north of town, just the two of us, talking about just about everything else but that basement.

Even pulling onto our street was a treat because we live on a tree lined avenue that is putting on quite a show. We drove slowly and caught a glimpse of a yard sale a couple of blocks from the house. John uttered the magic curse, “I’m sure we won’t find anything there.” Right.

Autumn 2012

We went home, took a couple of snaps of our own beautiful front trees, and then walked down to the sale just in case.

Home Sweet Home

BONANZA!!! I am so excited because I’ve been looking for Scrabble games for over a year to use the tiles for some of those cool crafts I’ve seen all over Pinterest. I found 2 for $1 each.

Vintage Scrabble

This one is my favorite though. This picture kills me. So funny. When is the last time you saw a man sitting on the floor playing a board game in a sport coat and slacks? Hilarious.

Vintage Scrabble 2

We found loads of other goodies including a hardhat that John could’ve used yesterday when he was demolishing the basement ceiling. Ahhh, timing, but there is certainly no reason to believe he won’t need one again for the next project or even the next or when we finally call uncle and build our own house.

The grand plan

Well, John is back in the basement getting our stuff ready because we are rewiring the main floor through that now open basement ceiling. When we rewired the second floor a couple of years ago though the attic I cried, and I don’t cry easily, but John promises this won’t be so infuriating this time. We shall see, but today started with the real R & R so at least I have that.

Where do you go when you sneak off for a little R & R?

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The bats on the house…

Halloween 2009

I have been asked so many times over the years, “How did you do that thing with the bats on the outside of your house?  It looks really complicated.”  I must admit they do make quite an impression which is why I redid this display 2 years in a row.

It’s not complicated at all.  In fact, I made them with Avery, my daughter,  in an evening while watching t.v., and anyone knows a kid glued to watching Wipeout or Dancing with the Stars has little attention left for anything else.

Putting them up can be tricky depending on the type of exterior your house has, but nothing a glue gun can’t handle, I promise.

By the way, my sister, Pam, just helped my step mom, Charlotte, make this cool eye ball wreath and found out just as they were starting Charlotte had never used a glue gun before.  What!?!  I know.  This was big news to her (and me shortly after) having been raised by a woman, my Mom, who I’m pretty sure keeps one in her purse  in case of emergency.  I kinda feel like we failed Charlotte by letting her go this long (like 31 years or so) as our step mom without introducing her the fulfillment  that can only come from gluing dried flowers or felt or ribbon to some shape of Styrofoam with scalding melted plastic that inevitably gets all over your fingers.

Anyway…I stumbled across these a few years ago in Country Living Magazine.  You can go here to download their bat template which also has the basic instructions on it.  I had to tweak it a little, but nothing too major.

bats on front door

Country Living Magazine October 2009 (photo Mikkel Vang)

First, gather your supplies.  You will need:

  • printed templates in various sizes (I usually print 5-7 sizes)
  • black stiffened felt
  • chalk
  • sharp scissors
  • hot glue
  • duct tape

Bat Supplies

 

Next, cut out your templates.

Fold your piece of stiffened felt so that when your bat half is laying with the body on the fold its wing is just to the end.  You could just fold it in 1/2 too, but you won’t get as many bats out of each piece of felt.

Draw around the bat template with chalk.  Don’t worry if it gets everywhere.  It comes right off with a good shake.  Repeat until you have all the bats you can fit on the felt.

       

 

Cut it out on the inside of the lines.  Voila!  You have bats.

Now if you want big bats, but you can’t fit it on a folded piece of felt, just draw 1/2 on on piece and then a second 1/2 on another but extending the body a little longer so you have room to overlap and hot glue it together.

CL suggests just putting it up with doubled over duct tape but I found you really need to hot glue the doubled over tape to the body to make it stay.

Also, tape it to one side or the other of the fold, but not in the middle to get a 3D effect instead of just flat or droopy bats.

Please note, we have painted concrete hardy board on our house that can peel off with the duct tape or leave adhesive so I was allowed to tape them on with minimal coaxing before, but we just got our house painted last year so I’ll have to find some other method to hold them up in the future.  When I have that figured out I’ll post the solution.  I have not tried attaching them to metal or vinyl  siding, brick, stone or any other exterior covering so I can’t promise they will come off clean.  The do seem to be a bit more durable though for this kind of thing.  Use your best judgement.

Also, if you do it for inside, double stick tape just isn’t strong enough, and who wants that stuck to your paint or wallpaper anyway.  Try hot gluing doubled over masking tape or even 3M command strips to the felt.

Lastly, if it rains a lot were you live and you want them outside unprotected, wait until a few days before Halloween to put them out.  They, like my hair when it’s flat ironed, don’t do well in humidity.  I put mine out like 10 – 14 days ahead under an 18″ overhang,  and that’s about all they can take here before losing all the stiffness.

Don’t they look cool?  Maximum impact.  Minimum expense of time, effort and money.  Awesome.

Joe as Dracula and Avery as Hermione 2009

 

And here’s a picture of Charlotte and Pam triumphant with their wreaths.  My heart just swells with pride.

Charlotte and Pam after the maiden hot gluing experiment.

How are you decorating your entry this Halloween?

April Signature

 

 

 

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Sadness

This is not the way I wanted to go with the beginning of my blog, but writing is supposed to be cathartic so here goes…

Last weekend my husband and I attended the funeral of one of our closest friend’s father, Jack. This is noteworthy because we are military. It is rare that we are ever close enough to “home” for us to attend funerals for our own family, childhood friends or their families. It is even rarer still to be able to support another military family on that terrible occasion.

We have remained close with this friend, his wife and their kids for 13 years and are so blessed to be stationed with them again now for the 2nd time. They are the kind of friends we may not talk to for months, and then will pickup immediately where we left off the next time we see them after nice, tight squeezing hugs. We have also become friendly with their extended families because they are from a town fairly close to where we all live now.

So when I got a text at 7 a.m. from them about Jack being in emergency surgery, I got a lump in my throat. See, his dad had a major heart attack out of nowhere. In fact, he had been at a funeral himself earlier in the day, and he even mentioned, “You never know how much time you’ve got left.” Wise and prophetic. No one expected this. No one was prepared.

Then 2 days ago I got a message from another friend who I used to work with letting me know another of our co-workers, Chuck, had experienced a major heart attack. This man was one of the custodians at the elementary school where I worked and my son attended. He passed away last night. No one expected this. No one was prepared.

Both of these men leave behind families, friends and communities that are reeling. Both were kind and gentle men upon whom many depended. Both were gone in a flash due to heart attacks.

Some things that stick with my husband and I, causing us both to contemplate or own lives, are that at Jack’s funeral we heard over and over and over again how he never met a stranger (there was even a “stranger” at his funeral that he “met” on the day he died), how he loved unconditionally and NEVER missed a chance to say it or show it (usually through hugging) to the point of extreme embarrassment to his kids, how he always bragged on his sons and their families, and how he never said no even if it was at his own expense. The hardest thing for us to hear was how he always ended his conversations with those he loved by saying, “I love you, and I am so proud of you.” Don’t we all wish that’s how our dads ended their conversations with us? Don’t we all wish that is how we ended every conversation with our own kids?

My friend who passed last night was such a gentle soul. Anyone who has worked in an elementary school knows we would be lost without the custodians to save the day. Who else would come running when you call down to say someone just threw up in the classroom or that there was a rat in the storage closet? It may not be protecting us from Al Qaeda, but it is heroic none the less. This man was more than that to me, though. He was also my friend. He was one of the first people to welcome me into my job as the school librarian/computer teacher without reservations. He made a point to stick his head into my library every single day to say hello. He was always so quick to laugh or pat me on the back when I’d hit a rough spot or to show me he was proud of what I’d done. He got choked up this summer when I told him I’d quit. He asked me if I was sure, and then said, “Just so you know, I think you did a good job.”

What is it about me that finds external affirmation so powerful? I guess it’s really just part of the human condition no matter how many times we proclaim that having good self esteem renders it unnecessary. We all like to hear “good job” or “I’m proud of you”, and you cannot convince me otherwise. These men knew it’s power.

I also wonder at the fact that there is something different about a father expressing this rather than a mother. I don’t deny the importance of being validated by your mom, but when your dad says it just feels more profound. Is it because our moms say it all the time so we just become used to it, and our dads reserve it for special occasions like a fine champagne? Is it that dads are far more difficult to impress? Is it that they didn’t get much approval from their own fathers so they think this is how it’s done? I don’t know.

I have seen countless times in my own home how my kids are far more crushed when they disappoint my husband that me. I have also seen how much more important it was to my mother and her sisters to make their dad proud. They love their mother. They revered my grandpa.

I’m glad our society is making it more acceptable for men to express their feelings to their loved ones, but I still rarely find someone gushing about how their dad was so frank with their feelings of approval.

I guess if I have any “solution” to this it would be not only hug and tell the people you care about you love them, write it down. I have written many letters to my children that I hope they will carry with them always. They usually come after something that has resulted in my grounding them, but some are purely a testament of my love for them. Either way, I want it written down so that after we are far away from each other they have somewhere to go to see my love for them expressed fully and truthfully. I am going to encourage my husband to do that more so that when they read those notes during times of trouble they can hear his voice coming through the pages and into their hearts reminding them that he loves them and is proud of them. They will have physical proof of it not just fleeting memories.

We are not promised tomorrow. We are not even promised the next breath. Even if death comes unexpectedly and without preparation we can start showing our love today by hugging someone’s neck or patting their back or leaving a note in their lunch box saying, “I love you and I’m proud of you”, and encouraging others to do the same.

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Finally…

Finally! I’ve decided to do something with this blog that doesn’t involve setting it up.

The problems with set up…too many choices. Too much tech info to handle with my main tech genius deployed. Too many ways to get distracted with the other tabs that are open (FB, Pinterest, newspaper,etc…) Tooooo picky of a site administrator (me, for those of you who aren’t keeping up).

But probably the biggest thing that has kept me from posting is lack of clarity. I’m not entirely sure what this is going to be about. I’m not very sure what the categories will be. I’m wavering back and forth on who I want to reach with it.

When I first heard of blogs I thought, “Boy, those people sure must think a lot of themselves to write about their opinion of stuff everyday!” I think you all can be safe in the knowledge I’m not so sold on myself that I think anyone is waiting with baited breath to read my musings on earthshaking events. In fact, I’m pretty confident that this will be a lot more about recipes, movie reviews, DIY and funny stories like when my son used my microdermabrasion stuff as bodywash in Hawaii. (Hello salt water stinging of the unmentionables!) I have been reading loads of blogs though that I’ve found informative and inspiring that managed to change my mind. I actually think they are referred to as lifestyle blogs by people in the know. Obviously, I haven’t been one of them.

I do know that I get asked questions about decorating or cooking all the time. Truth is I didn’t know much about cooking when I first got married. Can I hear an AMEN? I remember asking a friend one time what she meant by cooked chicken breast. “Just how is that done?” Wooo buddy, we’ve come a long way.

I came by the decorating knowledge two main ways. I’ve been blessed to be part of a family full of creative women, and moving 14 times. Thank you, USAF, for giving me those opportunities. (I’m being slightly, but not all together, sarcastic about that)

I also get asked loads of questions about parenting, but there isn’t much chance I’m going to write a lot about that as I’m a self admitted Pseudo Tiger Mom which is a pretty unpopular way to go, and I constantly feel like a failure at it like every other mom with any good sense. Just when I start bragging on my kids they go out and act normal and ruin it for me. {Lord, I wish there was a sarcasm font!}

Ohhh, and then there’s the travel questions, and flea market and auction questions, and the “moneypit” questions. We’ve packed and unpacked our suitcases (and in some cases our entire lives in general) over and over. We’ve seen a lot places and things we never knew we wanted to see, and plan to keep going and going and going. Think Energizer bunny. I’d like to think I’m motivated to see the world because I like history, places and things with a story. Enter the junking and “why did we buy this old house again?” portion of my life.

Anyway, my plan is to let this thing grow and develop over time. Kind of like a third child I don’t have to put through college or repeatedly ask to pick it’s dirty clothes up off the floor and put them in the laundry basket that’s one step further away. There is going to be plenty of hits and misses with it, but I promise to do my best to make you laugh, encourage you to want to try something new and, hopefully, it will give me the creative outlet I’ve been looking for so my family won’t have to be forced to ewww and ahhh over another treasure I picked up off the side of the road or way to wrap a present that looks like a chalkboard they couldn’t care less about. And maybe, just maybe, my FB statuses will get shorter.

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Trial and Error and Error and Error

What color is the caption font?

 

This is a test.

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