Thursday, February 28, 2013


Today Tyler, our youngest grandchild, is one.  As everyone always says, "It's hard to believe it was a whole year ago that he was born."  I remember Lori, my dil, was concerned that he would be born on the 29th -- 2012 was a leap year.  She wanted him to have a "birthday" each year.  He must have also wanted to make sure he had a birthday each year, because he made his appearance on February 28th.

Family and friends gathered last Saturday to celebrate -- a few days early -- his birthday since the 28th was during the week -- and who can wait to celebrate his birthday AFTER the fact.  

I think he had a good time -- as good a time as any one year old can have. I know his sister Madison enjoyed herself.  She is 2-1/2.  She kept going around telling everyone, "It's Tyler's birthday."  It was so cute.

Here are just a few pictures I took at the party:

Oops, he saw all the presents.

"Is it okay?"  (Since it wasn't so long ago that he was opening Christmas presents, he knew what to do.)

"You said it was okay for me to start opening them."

"Won't be long now."

Madison stayed away as long as she could.

"Here, Tyler, I'll help you with this one, " so says big sister Maddy.

Don't worry, Madison, Tyler knows what to do.

A quick picture with Grandad before time to 





Tyler's personal cake.

It took a while, but he finally got a bite of it.

"Hmmmm, not too bad."

Madison got to enjoy some cake too.

And she did enjoy the cake -- I should say she really enjoyed the icing. She ate some of the cake, but the icing.....

Tyler likes his, too.

"I think this icing over here taste better."  I tried to show her the icing on the sides of her piece of cake was just as good, but she continued to eat the icing on the rest of the cake...

By this time, Tyler has 'done a job' on his cake.

Looks like it's time for the 'birthday - party - kitchen - sink bath' (I was busy with Madison and didn't get a picture of it.  Too bad.)

All cleaned up and ready to play.  It was a fun party and everyone had a fun time.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013


This morning when I got up I saw a piece of paper on the floor.  I noticed it had writing on it when I reached down to pick it up.  

It was a post-it with a recipe for 5 - Minute French Toast in a Mug that I had copied down  months ago while watching Live with Kelly.  I don't know where it had been or how it came to be on the floor in my bedroom, but it was just what I needed to see this morning.

Over the last week Kansas City has received about 19 inches of snow -- depending on where you live and which weatherman you are listening to.  I was ready for a change and why not start with breakfast, I thought.

I have been eating Total cereal for probably a month now for breakfast because it has 100% of the daily recommended calcium in it.  I do add raisins which helps, but this morning I felt like eating something different.

And there it was -- right in front of me -- French toast in a mug. I love French toast and often order it if we eat out for breakfast.  

So I thought -- Why not give it a try?! 

Eating it I decided changes I would make next time -- I have reflected those changes in my recipe below. I also use light margarine and skim milk. Feel free to use whatever you usually use.

I was surprised how good it was. I think I will treat myself at least once a week now with it -- I  bet my grandchildren would love this. Will have to tell them about it.


1     large mug
1     tablespoon light margarine
1     egg
4     tablespoons skim milk
1/2  teaspoon cinnamon
1/4  teaspoon sugar
1/8  teaspoon vanilla extract
2     slices of bread (with or without the crust)

Place the margarine in the mug and place in the microwave for 30 seconds on High.

With a spoon coat the sides of the mug with the melted margarine.

In a small mixing bowl, place egg, milk, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla 

Whisk until well blended.

Break up the two slices of bread into pieces.  (The next time I make it, I am going to remove the crust and try it that way.)

Put bread pieces into mug and press down, otherwise, the bread will be over the top (or at least mine was)

Then pour the egg mixture over the bread evenly to try to coat it all.

Place in microwave and cook for 5 minutes. Be careful when removing the mug from the microwave. Mine wasn't hot, but yours might. Let it cool a minute or two. ( Last week I burned the roof of my mouth eating chili that was too hot and I still have one small place that still hasn't I am watching that my food isn't too hot until my mouth completely heals.)

Pass the syrup and enjoy.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Update:I wrote this post several days ago to publish later.Today we got at least 7 more inches on top of what we got last week.(trying to make up for the little snow we got last winter and so far this winter.)  

It looks like a winter wonderland.(A lot of the snow in this tree has fallen off since I took this picture early this am. Fortunately we didn't have any damage to any of our trees.

We got smart this time though. We parked our two cars out in the drive way close to the street so there wouldn't be as much to shovel. My husband got to visit with neighbors as he shoveled this afternoon. I made some blueberry cranberry muffins that I will be sharing later. Hope you will try my reduced calorie brownies that I made last week. They really are good. Patricia

Last Thursday Kansas City received 10 inches of snow. It was a record for a one-day snow storm for the city.

Thursday morning while it was near blizzard conditions, we called and scheduled to have the snow removed from the drive-way when it quit snowing. First thing Friday morning we called again to make sure he was coming out that day. He gave us the bad news -- his snow blower wasn't working, but he was going to try to find another one. He said he would call us back in thirty minutes.

When we didn't hear from him, I called Janice to see if her grandson Trey was out working in her neighborhood clearing driveways. She said yes and gave me his phone number. Trey said he could come. Yea!! We would be able to get out of our driveway.

I immediately decided I would make Trey a batch of brownies to give him (in addition to the $ we would be paying him for the job). I found a recipe in the Eat What You Love! cookbook for low-fat fudge brownies and decided to try it. Stacey, the author, had written under the title, "This was the first recipe I ever prepared on television--back in 1993!  It was a hit then, and continues to be a hit today."

That convinced me I should give it a try. She used a regular box of fudge brownie mix. I didn't have one, but I did have a sugar-free one. So I have changed the title of the recipe to include "Sugar-Free." You can chose to use a regular or sugar free fudge brownie mix.


1    box sugar-free fudge brownie mix
2    egg whites
1/3  cup plain yogurt or unsweetened applesauce(I used the applesauce)
1    teaspoon vanilla extract
1    teaspoon butter extract
3    tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray bottom of an 8 - inch pan with cooking spray.

Empty brownie mix into large bowl; stir in remaining ingredients.  

Stir with (wooden) spoon until well blended, about 50 strokes.

Spread batter into pan.

Bake in center of oven about 25 minutes.  Do not overbake.

Cool completely before cutting.

I decided to cut away the outer edge -- it looked like it was going to be hard, but it wasn't and tasted very good.Since I planned to give the brownies to Trey as a treat, I decided to eat the crusty edge.That's why I know it tasted good even though it looked like it was overdone.

The brownies had cooled and I had cut them, when Trey called and said he wasn't going to get to come over afterall as his snow blower had quit and he didn't know what was wrong with it. Too bad.(I think so many people had trouble with their snow blowers because the snow was so deep, it was too hard on the motors.)

My husband ended up going out and shoveling the driveway so we could get the Jeep out and I took the brownies to my son Patrick when we went to Tyler's first birthday party. Brownies just happen to be Patrick's favorite.

Monday, February 25, 2013


This is another recipe from the Eat What You Love! cookbook I got from my "Auntie", written by dietitian, Stacey Pardue.  

At the time Stacey was testing the recipes she includes in the cookbook, she used "reduced fat" cake mixes and Butter Buds for oil. Now you can buy sugar-free cake mixes, at least yellow and devil's food which is what I do. So in her recipes that call for a reduced fat yellow cake mix, I substitute the sugar free one.  

I'm not familiar with Butter Buds, but in the front of the book, she has a chapter called Change a Little...Save a Lot. She lists substitutions and how many calories you can save. In this list is 1/2 cup oil. She says substitute 1/2 cup liquid Butter Buds, or 1/2 cup applesauce, or 1/2 cup plain yogurt. That can save 900 calories. I have chosen to use the 1/2 cup (unsweetened) applesauce instead of the Butter Buds. (Can you still buy this in the grocery stores?)

The calories have been reduced probably as much as they can be. Obviously, you can make the recipe by using a regular yellow cake mix, oil, eggs (1 egg = 1/4 cup Egg Beaters or Egg Whites) etc. Either way the great taste is still there.


1     box Pillsbury Sugar Free Classic Yellow Cake Mix
1     small box sugar free butterscotch instant pudding mix
1/2  cup fat free Egg Beaters
1/2  cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4  cup brown sugar
1     teaspoon butter extract
1/3  cup skim milk
3/4  cup reduced fat semisweet chocolate chips (I used chunks because I was out of chips)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (350 degrees F if using glass pan)

Spray 9 x 13-inch pan with cooking spray. (My glass pan was 8 x 11-inch)

Combine all ingredients except for the chips in a large mixing bowl with (wooden) spoon until well blended.

Add the chocolate chips and stir.

Spread in pan. (Batter is thick.)

Bake 20 - 25 minutes. Do not over bake. (I checked mine after 20 minutes by pressing lightly the center. Since my pan was slightly smaller than what the recipe called for, I cooked mine the extra 5 minutes. It was perfect.)

Cut into bars before serving.

I love the butterscotch taste and it is so moist.  Will use the chocolate chips next time as the chunks are a little bigger than chips would be.

Friday, February 22, 2013


I really like chili. I always bought a certain brand of canned chili, but several years ago, they ruined it (for me) when they changed their recipe. Now the chili has all sorts of peppers. I can't eat peppers. I don't like the taste but more importantly they don't like they punish me with bad indigestion.

When I was in college, Sunday night was always chili dogs. I love chili dogs with lots of mustard. I don't eat chili dogs much any more, but ever once in a while, I do get a craving.

My husband likes making chili, but I can't eat his chili as he puts peppers and onions (lots of peppers and onions) in it. You can check his recipe out HERE.

A while back when I was looking in Peg Bracken's I Hate to Cook Book for her recipe for Swiss Loaf (HERE), I saw a recipe for chili on the next page. Even though I didn't completely follow her recipe, I was inspired. 

This is the recipe I came up with. I was really pleased with the results. I ate one bowl and then froze individual serving sizes (1 cup in a ziplock bag)

2/3   lb ground beef
1/4    teaspoon minced garlic
1/4    teaspoon oregano
1/2    teaspoon salt
smidgen of cinnamon (I have a measuring spoon for a is less than a pinch and a is a little less than half of a 1/8 teaspoon measure)
3       cups cooked pinto beans (I cooked a pot of dried pinto beans -- you could used canned beans -- not the same great taste, but...)
1       can (15-ounces) tomato sauce

Brown meat in skillet til done.  

In a large saucepan, combine, all ingredients and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

That's it. That simple. But Oh So Good.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Last Friday Janice was sick so we didn't get to go to estate sales as we usually do on Fridays.  I had awaken earlier during the night and couldn't go back to sleep.  Laying in bed, I started thinking about the new t-shirt dresses I needed to make for my CO granddaughters.  When Janice sent me a text saying she felt like "yuk" and was going to stay home, I knew I would be sewing that day.

I managed to get Sadie's dress made Friday afternoon and then Hallie's on Saturday.  The t-shirts were alike and so was the material I planned to make for the skirts.  (I have had the shirts and material for the skirts since the fall when I was making their dresses they like them a little different.)  I decided to make Sadie's with a ruffled skirt and Hallie's just a solid one.

Here is what they looked like when I got them finished.

When I make a ruffled skirt, I take the hem out of the t-shirt so that I have 2 - 3 inches extra length for the shirt.  I sew the first ruffle at the regular measured place usually 3 - 4 inches below the waist.  Then I sew the second ruffle 2 inches below the first one.  (If you want more distance between the two ruffles so the skirt will be longer and you have the extra length from the t-shirt, you can sew the second ruffle more than 2 inches below the first one.) 

I cut both ruffles the same width - 6-1/2 inches (I have a 6-1/2 inch wide ruler), but the second ruffle ends up looking 2 inches longer. Allowing for a 1/2 inch seam at the "waist" and 1/2 inch for the shirt tail hem, the finished ruffle is 5-1/2 inches. I am sure that width will increase as they grow.  (To decide the width you need, put the t-shirt on the child to check where it comes to on the hips.  Then measure the distance to the knee or however long you want the skirt to be. They are cute with tights or leggings.)

Since the girls, especially Hallie, are growing, I had to cut the skirt for Hallie's 1-1/2 inches wider than earlier ones I have made....12 inches wide (11 inches finished).  Here is a hint when you need to cut the material wider than your "ruler" is.  
The longer ruler is 6-1/2 inches wide.  So I laid the smaller ruler 5-1/2 inches from the cut edge.  Then "butted" the longer ruler up to it, making sure it was straight with the fold.  Holding the longer ruler in place, I also carefully moved the smaller ruler up and down to make sure the "strip" would be evenly cut the 12 inches.  Then I cut along the right side of the longer ruler with my rotary cutter.

I cut two strips for Hallie's skirt the width of the material.  This made it two and a half times more than the total width of the t-shirt so the gathers are thicker.  I wasn't sure how it would look, but I think it was perfect.  I need to start doing that from now on. Sadie's ruffles are about one and a half times the total width of the shirt. 

If you are interested in seeing more detailed instructions for making t-shirt dresses, you can check HERE  and HERE.

I also really like making the ruffled jean skirts.  You can check them out HERE.  Another fun thing I made with jeans was a ruffled jean apron.  I used the back of the jeans only and of course chose jeans with cute pockets.  You can see how to make it HERE.  While the apron was made for a child, you could easily make one for an adult by using larger jeans.  Would be really cute at a cook-out.