Friday, November 26, 2010

Sour Cream Cheesecake

My Mom made this cheesecake for every holiday.  You can use a traditional graham cracker crust or the cresents, as listed...we rarely use a crust, it works out just fine to pour filling directly into ungreased pan.  PLUS, sometimes, I add almond, lemon, or orange juice and zest in replace of the vanilla to give a slight flavoring!  Almond flavoring in the sour cream topping is awesome too!!

3 cream cheese
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
5 eggs
1 large container sour cream

Crust  (optional)
2 rolls cresents 

Topping  (optional)
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  for optional crust- unroll cresents, lay in 9x13 dish/pan, pinch seams to form crust.  Beat softened cream cheese until creamy.  Add sugar, beat well.  Add 1 egg at a time, beat 1 min between each egg.  Add sour cream, then vanilla, mix well.  Pour into pan and bake for 40-55 minutes.  If top splits, it's okay!   Meanwhile, mix topping ingredients and spread over top and bake additional 5 minutes.  Let cool completely before serving :)  Yum!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


My best blogging buddy, April Westerhold, listed out all the things that she is thankful for.  I thought it was the perfect way to reflect upon the many blessings in our lives. 

I am thankful that we have a loving God, who forgives.    I am thankful for my parent's, and although I miss them dearly, I am thankful for the time I had with them and that they had such strong values.   I am thankful for my brothers and sister, there is a love between us that is unexplainable.    I am thankful that my sister is my best friend.    I am thankful that my husband is the kindest man I know.   I am thankful for my children.     I am thankful for my entire family.   I am thankful to have wonderful friends in my life.    I am thankful to be part of an awesome church.    I am thankful for our health.     I am thankful to live in America.   I am thankful for the service men and women who protect our freedom.      I am thankful for the happy times.    I am thankful for the hardships that I've been shaped by.     I am thankful for many blessings that I sometimes take for granted like our jobs, food, and shelter.   

If there is one prayer to pray today, it is to simply say, "Thank You" to God and our loved one's.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sad Sophie

For those of you who have been to my house, you know that there is a HUGE dog crate in the corner of my front sitting room.  It has been home and refuge to my great dane, Sophie, for around a year and a half.  She is hardly ever "crated" anymore, she basically runs and hides in there when she has done something wrong (steals  food off counter/table)....which totally gives it away, b/c we go there and always find the wrapper or remains of what she stole!  LOL!  Silly dog!  BUT, she has really taken to automatically crating herself when we leave the house.  She "crates up" and then the kids run and give her treats as we go out the door.  We figured since she is almost 2 years old, she can just stay out and be a good watch dog for us!  (even though she would never hurt anyone, she would definately scare someone to pieces with her bark and hugeness!)

As I was polishing the wood floors, I looked into "that corner" and knew I needed to polish under the crate, plus I want to put a Christmas tree up in front of my window, so...good-bye puppy crate.  But not without some huge begging on Sophie's part!!  The dog, literally starts, howling, moaning, and groaning at me while nudging my leave her cage alone...poor dog...but not really, I mean, she does have a huge comfy dog bed in our bedroom right by our bed.  She has a blankie that she drags everywhere, she is totally spoiled!  She threw a total fit!  Some of my friends and family think I'm being mean to take away her "spot", but I want my room back!  Should I move it to the guest room upstairs, just to make sure she has a place to call her own?  It's the only spot left in the house that I'm willing to give up to her crate?!?!?  I'm going to try this over the holidays, and give her lots of extra treats when she lays down on her doggy bed instead of the crate and see how she does.  I talk tough, but if she is THAT miserable without it, I suppose we'll put it back :)

Just look how pretty it looks WITHOUT the crate...
Hugs will make it better!

No corn syrup Pecan Pie

This pie turned out great, because I don't like the "gel" part of the pecan pie.  Sometimes they can seem way too sweet and gooey!  This one formed a thin crusty top, like a brownie and was nutty all the way through without as much gel!
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2.In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy, and stir in melted butter. Stir in the brown sugar, white sugar and the flour; mix well. Last add the milk, vanilla and nuts.
3.Pour into an unbaked 9-in pie shell. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until done.

You can check out all the great reviews at:  Pecan Pie V by Elaine Helms

Fall Decor

I was looking around the house, as my pies were baking, and thought...Friday I will take down all the fall decorations and redo with Christmas...which made me kinda sad because I LOVE fall colors.  My newest fun decor was:  candle holders from a yard sale ( $2.00)  with three real pumpkins from the fruit market. (I rub them with olive oil to preserve them and make them shine)  I will use them to bake pumpkin bread when Thanksgiving is over.

A happy scarecrow to greet at the door:

On my buffet, I took a "yard sale" vase, filled it with faux leaves and cornstalks.  At Halloween, I fill it with candycorn and spooky cornstalks!

The kids tape fake leaves on all the windows, I want to buy tissue paper and let them make their own next year so the sun can shine through the fall colors!
Sophie's favorite place to see out the window!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Scouting for Food

Boxes ready to be filled with lots of food!!!
 Over the weekend we participated in Blake's cub scout food drive.  We decided to make it a family event, since the more help the better.  Last week the pack delivered bags to people's homes, asking for a food donation to help those who are hungry. This week the pack met at the school parking lot, got designated maps of the local subdivisions, and them headed out to pick up the bags that people so graciously filled with food. 

I was the "driver" while Billy, Taylor, and Blake rode in the back of my suv with the gate up.  I put on my hazard lights and slowly proceeded to each house that had a bag of food on their porch.  I would yell "bag alert, bag alert" (which, I'm sure became annoying!)  as I came to a stop, Blake would jump out, run up and grab the bag and pack it in the truck.  They would yell, "ready!" when it was time for my to roll to the next house.  We had a system going!  It was a ton of fun and we collected alot of food!

Heavy sacks to carry
"I got another !!"
The guard dog just watches while the kid steals food off the porch...
Hard at work!

We met up with others from our den and met back at the school to drop off the food.  We had to mark out the UPC code (i guess people might actually try to take donated food back to the store for cash??) and then sort it into categories, box it and deliver it to the HOPE food bank.

Taylor helped too!!

With so many people helping and so much food donated, it looked like a HUGE success!!  I love these events that the entire family can join in to help with!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lonely Turkey Day

Growing up, holidays were always huge at my house.  My Mom kept the family together, she baked, made a wonderful buffet of foods, had decorations galore, and was absolutely beaming with the delight of getting the family together.  I take after my Mom, and have held most of the Holiday gatherings at my house for years now.  I love the planning, the menus, the shopping, the baking, getting guest bedrooms ready, the stress of it all! 

Autumn has always been my very favorite time of year but, this year feels different.  My Mom lost her battle to cancer November 25th of 2007.  I know it's been three years, but the season, the weather, the approaching Holidays bring back some of the sad memories.  I get upset at myself for letting bad memories creep in and steal the wonderfulness of the season.  I spent the last two years, being "strong" for my family, keeping  up traditions, but for some reason, I don't feel like it this year.  And to top it all off, my brother and his family called and said they can't make it to Thanksgiving.  I think I already knew this somehow.  I have decided to make the best of this Holiday and remember the real meaning of Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for many blessings in my life.

The family that "is" here with me still needs a happy place to gather, yummy food to eat, homemade desserts, and love to share.  While this Thanksgiving may only be celebrated with my sister, Billy, and the kids, we will keep all of our many loved ones in our thoughts.  Maybe start a new tradition...I volunteered us to go serve food to the less fortunate downtown, so I'm sure I'll come home with a completely new outlook.  Maybe the holiday won't seem so lonely.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


My posts are usually happy family memories.  This time I am just feeling overwhelmed, maybe this is "normal" family life, I'm not doing well at keeping it up.

This week has been hectic for me.  I only have two kids and I am a stay-at-home Mom, so maybe this is just me, but...I have been literally on the edge of tears as I head to these many activities, the thing about it is..most of the things I'm doing are things that "I" wanted to do, things that "I" scheduled, things I love to do.  What is wrong with me?

Monday I took Blake to school, ran back home for a parents-as-teachers appointment for Taylor (whick meant I had to clean house too!), worked out at the gym, ran errands, picked Blake up from school, fixed dinner for the kids and headed to church at 6pm.  We got home at 9pm.

Tuesday I took Blake to school, met a friend at my house for an hour, packed lunch, headed to a play date for Taylor (and me), picked Blake up, headed to st. Charles for the gym, went to dinner with my Sis, got home at 8pm

Wednesday I took Blake to school, met my sis at the gym, went to find shoes so my feet won't kill me at the gym, picked Blake up from school, headed straight to the doctor so he could get shots (which was a nightmare), ate pizza in the car for dinner, took Blake to meet my Sis so she could take him to the movies (which made him feel better after shots...thx Sis), visited a neighbor who popped in, Blake got home at 8:30 and then off to bed.

Thursday I took Blake to school, came home to work on consignment sale stuff at the last minute, ran to Costco with a friend, took back the shoes that didn't work out, picked Blake up from school, fixed dinner, headed to dance class, then ran back to the house to pick up Taylor, get Blake into his cub scout uniform, then off to a pack meeting and got home at 9pm.

Friday Blake was out of school, I took him with me to drop off sale items in St. Charles for the kid's sale, had a short play date at McDonald's so we could see friends that we otherwise couldn't, then ran home, fixed lunches for on the go, snacks and drinks for the park, grabbed Taylor and headed to the play date that we've had planned for a month with all the friends, then home to make kids nap, then get them up and dressed to be dropped off at Aunt Susie's so that my friend and I could make it to the kid's sale to shop home at 8:30....

Saturday we tried to make it to the cub scout food drive and school grounds clean-up, but never made it.  I had double-booked because we had our first ladies ministry meeting to decide which charities to create or be part of and I decided to go there instead, all thanks to one of the wonderful ladies, Shirley.  She is truly a Godsend, she called and said that she had a weird feeling that I might not make it to the meeting and I broke down, telling her what I had going on and that I'd be there, but might be late.  She prayed over the phone for our stress to leave and for Blake to feel better ( I failed to mention that during all of this hectic stuff, Blake is constipated and can't GO!  He's sitting on the pot every second we're home and I'm constantly rushing him b/c we're late- poor kid)   I feel uncomfortable when someone prays for me because I don't feel that my problems are worthy.  There are people out there that "really" need prayers for "real" problems, anyways, I am soooo glad she did that for us. It's as if she had been living at my side the last week, she knew EXACTLY what to pray about. It worked...I'm so glad I made it to the meeting,  I absolutely love my church and all the people in it!  After this meeting things are better...I'm glad I waited to post this because, yesterday, when I wrote it, it was totally negative! 

I guess when you factor in all the little, repetitive household chores ON TOP of all this it can make things crazy like:  Fixing lunches, snacks, laundry, cleaning, homework, errands, bill paying, and dinner wears me out!  Next week I am going to schedule in some down-time and pray!  Thanks to my friend  April Westerhold  who reminded me that I need to be thankful for the hecticness in my life, my kids, my family, and my friends....i couldn't imagine life, crazy or not, without them.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Blake the Heavy Weight...

Blake had a follow-up doctor appointment right after school yesterday.  I picked him up from school and we headed straight there.  He looked a fright, what had he done at school to get so messy.  His jeans had glue spots here and there, his knees were dusty, and shirt spattered with "something".  I should have brought a change of clothes, but was busy running all day, so the doc would have to see us the way we were! 

Blake had to get new shoes and arch support inserts to help his feet grow properly, so that was one of the main things the Dr. wanted to see, so when Blake walked and I heard "noise" coming from his shoes, he said they were full of gravel from the playground.  I had him empty them into the trash can, so they wouldn't empty all over the floor when he took them off for the doctor.  He said that he had gravel EVERYWHERE because they were sliding in it a recess...GREAT!!

The first thing the nurse did was weigh him and the good news is....he's growing!  He had almost 3 pounds in 3 weeks... WOW!   The doc even commented how he is now within the normal range of the growing curve.  Then he found out that he had to get two shots.  It was bad...he started begging me to not let him get them.  He had taken his shirt off and was about to sit on my lap, when I noticed these huge bulges at his pockets.  I said, "What in the world is in your pockets?"...Blake says, " I told you that I had rocks everywhere!"...Oh my goodness, his pocket couldn't have fit one more rock.  Not just tiny gravel, 1" rock !!!  I said, " No wonder you gained's the rocks!"  Blake says, "Uh-oh, I didn't think of that...I wonder if the doctor wrote in pen?"  He's sooo silly!  I told him he had to tell her about it when she came back and the office was cracking up!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Finding God

Lately, I've been feeling compelled to write about my journey toward God. As our family becomes more involved with our church , I learn so many new wonderful things that I thought I should document them so I could always look back...

As a child I went to church with my Mom. I remember Sunday school and sitting next to her while singing hymns. I remember the perfume she wore and the way she sang outload. Although those are some of my most fond memories, I wish I remembered more about what church was really about.

As I got older, we moved away from the church that Mom loved and then tried a few new ones, but really, I was more into school stuff and friends, plus I got a weekend job so church became part of my past. I always knew to believe in God, I always knew who Jesus was and why to be grateful to him, but that was about it. Until...

Right out of high school I started working at a photography studio. The owner took me in, taught me so much and basically filled in as a father-figure to me. He never had any children and I had lost my Dad at fourteen years old, so we just fit together. He was the smartest man I knew. One day, as we stood by the printing machines, he casually asks, "Are you a Christian?", I reply, "Yes, of course."...that was the day everything changed. He immediately started making points of why Christianity was make-believe. The points he made were sound, and provable-according to him and made sense in ways that I had never even thought before. Working together for more than 7 years, I totally believed him. We worked in churches doing weddings and sometimes the pastors would leave in tears from his arguments. He amazed me at how much he knew. At age 24, we parted ways, and although I was no longer in contact with him, the impact of doubt that was left behind seems to never go away.

Thank God for my family. My Mom, Sister, and Husband have gotten me headed back in the right direction. For me, it seems like a really long road, but at least I'm on it!!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

There's a Tiger Cub in the house

Last night was Blake's first official den meeting! He is a Tiger Cub Scout!  He has wanted to be a cub scout since the day the elder scouts did their "recruiting" out on the playground the first week of school. He begged to go to the pack meeting and I agreed to see what it was all about...after an hour of little boys jumping up and down, screaming with excitement, I wrote the check. Yes, that is the most hurtful part of this. I thought I was going in to just check it all out and pay a $15.00 sign-up fee (if I decided to let him join) and ended up writing a $65.00 check instead. OUCH!!!

There is NO way I could have left the gym that night without letting him join. The leaders had the boys soooo pumped-up with aniticipation of badge-earing, camping, building, racing, hiking, and field trips that their arms were literally shaking as they lifted them screaming " Me, Me, Me !!!!"

For the next two weeks I had buyer's remorse. I wish I could have taken it back, because I started thinking about the additional costs that were to come AND the time that we needed to put into this. Blake offered to pay for his own shirt (which was ALL the money he had in his wallet), so I knew that he was serious about sticking to it! I have a soft spot in my heart for things that interest him...if he loves cub scouts then so should I!

Daddy took him to his first den meeting last night and they both came home happy :) Blake got his scout booklet and learned the cub scout promise:

" I Blake Sullivan promise to do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
To help other people, and
To obey the Law of the Pack."

Cub Scouts here we come !!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween 2010

October... time to decorate with spooky gourds, carve pumpkins, visit local farms, hayrides, pick apples, and get lost in corn mazes...what's NOT to love about Autumn?  The beautiful leaves, the approaching holidays, getting to dress up in costumes...oops, I mean getting to dress your "kids" up in their favorite costumes!!! 

Growing up, my parents would let me have Halloween parties, we'd invite everyone in the class, haunt up our house, bob for apples, and make bowls of mystery mush to let us kids feel around and try to guess if they were eyeballs or brains between our fingers.  Mom and Dad would dress up to scare us or make us laugh.  My parents dressed up for as long as I can recall...looking back, I guess just because they were the oldest parents of ANY of my friends didn't stop them from making sure we had a good time!

When we moved from the lake four years ago, I had never been "trick-or-treating" in a neighborhood before...just to the mall or at school.  I absolutely LOVE to take the kids around our subdivision.  The neighbors know them and make up personalized goody bags for them filled with candy and toys.  We start out pretty early since the kids are little and that lets them collect plenty of candy and still get back in time to sit on our front porch to give out candy to all the other little trick-or-treaters!  My kids bring home their candy, dump it all out on the table to admire, pick 10 pieces, then put all the rest back into the candy bowl to give away.  They love to give it out to the other kids and that works out perfect for us too! 

This year, they were so excited to give it out that I had to tell them to calm down!  Kids would come up toward the house and both, Blake and Taylor would run to meet them and then start shoveling all the candy they could with both hands into their bags.  Then as their "customers" leave they are saying "thanks, come again"...I had to tell them thank you for being such generous givers, BUT let's make sure to have some left for the next trick-or-treaters!  LOL!

Blake & Mom's                                 vs                            Taylor & Dad's

waiting for customers!