Friday, December 23, 2011

Irish Cream and Pistachio Fudge

Found this recipe on pinterest (have I mentioned I LOVE Pinterest? oh, I have? ok) and omgosh is it good. (Original recipe here at the blog Eat Good 4 Life, some really great recipes) I had official taste testers and it was an all around hit. I think the thing that caught my attention was the different combination of ingredients. I'm not sure exactly about the cost of making this but let's just say it wasn't cheap, so make it for people you really, really like. :)


36 oz white chocolate chips (3 bags)
1 14 oz can condensed milk
1/2 cup Irish cream liquor plus 3-4 tablespoons (I sometimes use 3/4 cups)
1/2 cup raw pistachios, roughly chopped- I used canned slightly salty and they were fine

Lined a small cookie sheet with foil and lightly grease it.

In a sauce pan, at low heat, pour all of the ingredients except pistachios. Stir constantly until chocolate has almost melted.

Turn off heat and continue stirring until chocolate is completely melted. Add pistachios and pour evenly onto prepared pan. Let cool and chill until set. Remove fudge from pan and peal off the foil paper. Cut fudge into small squares.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"S" is for Street Sweeper Suspiciously Stolen on Saturday from Super Market

Today's post is brought to you by the letter "S," not for Super Spectacular Sunday, it's stands for Stupid Stealer of other people's Stuff. Let me start at the beginning.

Last night hubs was already asleep and I just crawled into bed and closed my eyes when Greg says, "Did you hear that?" I answer that indeed I did not hear a thing. Now how someone that can't hear me ask him to take the clothes out of the dryer when I am standing in front of him and he looking directly at me, but can hear the doorbell that has decibel strength of a newborn kitten, I don't know, it is truly one of life's mysteries, but he can and did. We had that awake but not coherent conversation that went something like this:
Him: Did you hear that?
Me: Hear what? I didn't hear anything.
Him: The doorbell
Me: Well, if you heard the doorbell, you should go check.
Him: No, it will be alright.
Me: No, Brett is home from school and out, we should check.
Him: No, I'm not getting up.
Me: Well, I will go check.

I go look out the front window and there is a police car out front.
Me: Greg, there is a police car out front.
Him: You are kidding, right?
Me: NO, I am not kidding
Him: What should I do? (yes, he seriously said that)
Me: You should be the man and get up and see what is going on.
Him: Oh, yes, right, ok.

He gets up and no joke when he finally gets to the door, the police car is gone. I look out the window and swear it was there a few minutes ago. He calls the dispatcher and indeed there had been a police car out at our residence. Then he notices a missed call from the guy working for him that the truck had been stolen. (11:00 PM)  Seems that while the worker, whom I will not name but his name rhymes with Berry, was blowing out the gutters at the very prominent 30th street grocery store in preparation to sweep the parking lot with a 8500 lb zamboni-like machine, the truck, trailer and sweeper was parked out front but now is missing.

The truck has OnStar but there is privacy protocol and a report has to be filed and OnStar won't tell you anything, just to the officer. Sooooo, Greg goes to the place of said crime and he and, have a reportapalooza and the process starts. OnStar is able to track the truck waaaay the heck to the west of town and it is on the move. (thanks OnStar) The Reno County Sheriff's department gets in on the action and enlists the help of the Kansas Highway Patrol and find the perp and chase ensues. He takes the truck in the ditch and bails making the officers work on their Christmas dinner a little early. And just like that we got us a man hunt. But the slippery little snake manages to get away. So we have the truck, (air bags never deployed) so all is good, right? Au contraire, mon frere, there is something missing.......the trailer. Somewhere during the little escapade the nimrod unhooked and left the trailer. Gauging from the amount of mud on the truck, the trailer and hopefully the sweeper with it, is in a field somewhere up to it's axels in prairie goo. After HPD processed the vehicle, Greg gets his truck back and spends the next 2 hours driving back and forth on country roads looking for his lost equipment. He finally gives up about 3:30 AM and returns home.

(7:00 AM) Greg calls his Uncle Ron and they along with Brett go up in the airplane to scour the countryside. As of 9:15 AM they are still looking but have not found anything. Nothing found from the air, but Greg drove around some more this morning and did find some discarded items from the truck in a muddy field but the tracks indicated the trailer was not hooked on at that point.

Oh yes and "S" also stands for super sleepy.
Thanks to the networking capabilities of Facebook, a friend of a friend saw the post, and called, the trailer and sweeper have been located. No word yet on the damage, seems the doofus head just pulled the pin in the receiver hitch and pulled forward letting the trailer with the heavy machine come crashing down, I'm surprised no neighbors called because I'm sure it made a racket.

- Story to be updated as the information comes in.
Be on the look out for trailer and a piece of machinery that looks something like this:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Upwardly mobile, 6 flights in fact.....

This past weekend the hubs and I went to help our oldest son move - AGAIN! Ground floor you ask, ahhhhh, heck no, of course not... but I take comfort in knowing we are certainly not the first parents to be called upon to assist with this roost changing phenomena going on amongst college age students. I know my friends with kids of the same age are dealing with the same issues. But while one of my many trips in the elevator (yes, thank goodness for the elevator) I found myself pondering the way my son's generation seems to adapt to change readily. And I came to the conclusion there is a direct correlation with the technical age we live in and that generation's ability, or maybe their desire to not settle until they achieve their goals.

It probably sounds like I think of that in a negative fashion but while I certainly  think there are negative connotations, overall it might be a very positive and healthy thing. Back in the day when I was in my early 20's the path was fairly clear. You graduated high school, went to college, got married, got a steady job and had a family. Pretty cut and dried, no drama, no risk, not much variance. Sometimes the pieces of the puzzle were altered but the goal was pretty much the same for everyone. Now, the puzzle doesn't even look the same. Some people might argue that we are just raising a society of selfish children only worrying about themselves. Trading in spouses, trading jobs, trading domiciles, trading — lives, in an effort to be happy is making them selfish and self-centered. I dare to ponder this differently, is it self-centered to do exactly what the fore fathers suggested when it was blatantly spelled out in the Declaration of Independence - "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?" Maybe it doesn't follow the norm or beaten path of our perception of the "proper" way to go about life but is that necessarily a bad thing?  Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating the further decline of marriage or family but I am just openly questioning if staying in a decaying relationship or a dead-end job is the best option to creating a happy family.

On the flip side of the coin I do wonder if this society where so many people work at home and live in neighborhoods that do not have the sense of community and safety of the Beaver Cleaver age, is causing a disconnect to relationships. For instance if you work at home and only know Mary from accounting by the talking head in Skype or the information laden emails, and have no real relationship, it becomes quite simple to move on to another job. Or, if you have never met your neighbors other than the half-hearted obligitory wave when you accidentally make eye contact as they pull into their garage, you don't have to think twice when moving to a new place.

I guess this really is nothing new under the sun, just a different paradigm in which people are struggling to not only do the right thing in the eyes of society but to create their version of a happy, healthy family unit. So, I guess I'll just take more Aleve and be happy my son is making a conscious effort to move and be happy and feel fortunate that this economy hasn't forced him into making this decision. And on a side note......why is it that a young man that manages to hold two jobs and has a college degree cannot see that if he is going to move he might need to plan a bit and gather some boxes and pack a few things ahead of time? I suppose it is because common sense 101 is not required for the degree.....

Here are some pictures from the move, he moved to the power and light district in Kansas City, it's a hotel renovated into apartments and I really like it, the whole area is reminiscent of New York City and his new roomie, Mike, a true sweetheart and good guy.

Vintage hotel renovated into apartments

Looking down the stairs from the 6th floor
Mike sizing up the daunting task before him
Boxes? evidently not a moving necessity
The beast of a sofa that had to be carried down the stairs and then up the stairs.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

This project makes me smile

I spend my day doing creative things-some of it is fancy pants stuff and some is just mundane but the best thing is that it seems no 2 days of work are ever the same. And at the end of each project the range of emotions tends to be from relief that it is finished to excitement that it is finished and usually a mixture of both.  I would be lying if I said I don't always just hold my breath when finishing a project hoping there isn't a glaring error that I (and the 40 other sets of eyes) have missed.

Many times my portion  is just a tiny part in a much bigger  project and I always anxiously await to see how it all fits. An example of that is our new web site which Chris Lock has been working feverishly on to complete. I can't reveal it yet as he is still putting the finishing touches on it but here is our new logo that has inspired the color scheme.

I completed a project and today when it came in I loved the way it looked. It's one thing to design something and see it small on a screen (even if you do have a 17-inch monitor) and it's completely another when it is on a 10-foot backdrop! As with every project a few little things I'd change but overall - LOVE IT!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Little R & R - Punta Cana Style

As I mentioned in my previous post it was time for me to take a little vacation. This year we went to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. It is the other half of the island with Haiti.
"The Dominican Republic occupies 48,482 square kilometers, making up the eastern two thirds of the island of Hispaniola , with the country of Haiti comprising the western third. The island of Hispaniola sits more or less in the center of the Caribbean Islands - with the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas to the North, Cuba and Jamaica to the west, Puerto Rico and the Leeward Islands to the east, and South America to the south. The north coast gives way to the Atlantic Ocean and the south coast gives way to the Caribbean Sea."-
After spending a week there I am still convinced it is one of the nicest places I've had the opportunity to visit. I base that feeling not only on the natural beauty but giving high points to the friendly nature of the people I encountered and ease of the trip in general. The accommodations were above average and I really don't have anything negative to say about my overall trip. (other than there were times in the airports I thought it might possibly be simpler and more pleasant to buy a rubber raft and just head south than to deal with the difficulties and general headaches of the airlines).

Our trip started at roughly 4:30AM to get to the airport so we could stand in line to get on a flight at 6AM. We were required to play a round of clothing russian roulette- leaving a cold climate going to a warm climate. And as far as the plane's temperature.......who knows.....could be fit for Satan or an eskimo, and sometimes both within the same wonder people get sick when they travel.

When we arrived in Punta Cana we were not disappointed, yes, between the airport and the hotel we did see examples to remind us of just how fortunate we are. We arrived to the beautiful lobby of the Majestic Elegance Resort and Spa.
View from our balcony
Carlos and Lori

We were greeted by our "butler" Carlos. He was a very sweet young man, whom we later found out has a degree from the University of Wisconsin as well as the university in his country. He took us on a short tour of the property and gave us little tips that would help our stay to be the most enjoyable. He said to call him if we needed anything and he truly meant it. He offered to take us into town by his personal vehicle if needed and he helped the guys arrange a fishing trip. He called to check on us throughout the week and always greeted us by name when we saw him around. We found out that the "butlers" generally have about 25 rooms they tend to at any given time (or at least I think that is what he said). You can even make arrangements for your butler to have your jacuzzi tub filled and ready for you at a certain time - truly they spoil you. I'm sure your stay can be made by the attention of your butler and I think we probably got the best one available.
Random picture of a HUGE snail

Speaking of jacuzzi tubs, each room has one and the rooms were huge. A big 4 poster bed, marble tile floors, balcony, a fully stocked bar (which they refilled with whatever you wanted) a full refrigerator always stocked with soft drinks, beer, and bottled water. There was a separate sitting area and huge closets. They had this nifty little closet that if you ordered room service they would put the trays in the closet and you opened it on your side and took them out. Then when you were done you put the trays back in there, you never had to see anyone.
Our room

We were in the portion of the resort with a private pool (never more than 20 or so people at one time) and NO kids, meaning no loudness, no splashing, no silliness (well except for an occasional drunk), so totally relaxing. We had our own bar and the drinks were all inclusive and actually you never had to leave your poolside or beach chair,  because a happy - and I do mean happy, always smiling, always pleasant attendant would bring you anything you needed. We also had a little lounge area right there, with computers, wifi, snacks, bottled soft drinks and water and fresh towels, anytime we wanted - ALL INCLUDED. The poolside also included what is called a Bali bed. These are outdoor double-sized beds so you can take a nap poolside when you are tired or if you just want out of the sun.
Private pool

Bali bed poolside
Greg using the Bali bed poolside
 I did manage to read 3 James Patterson (my FAVORITE author) books, I took 4 but the last one just did not capture my interest.

The books I read

 I think there were 6 restaurants on the property, a Japanese tepenyaki, an Italian, a french, a steakhouse, a seafood and a buffet. The menus were somewhat limited but usually something could be found to satisfy them  even if they were HYPOTHETICALLY a non-fruit, non-fish eating type person. We found ourselves eating in the buffet restaurant each morning and we had the nicest waiter, Juan, who, even though extremely busy, took time each day to teach me a new word in spanish. I truly looked forward to my omelette and spanish lesson each day.
Lori and Greg

The guys went deep sea fishing one day and "caught" between 6-10 Mahi Mahi. Kim and I walked down to the market (souvenier stands) and I practiced my lame spanish skills to barter for a few trinkets. We also had access to use a Hobie cat whenever, so the guys went sailing a few days.
Greg and Tony on the boat

I loved this trip and would definitely go there again. The resort was excellent, the time of year was great (very good weather and not many people) and the I cannot say enough good things  about any of the people we encountered. I even made friends with a little dog on my way to the market. One day was our anniversary so we had a banner placed on our door wishing us a Happy Anniversary and that night we had a little cake and a hand written note from Carlos wishing us the same. A very nice touch.
Happy Anniversary and it was between mine and Greg's birthday

Our anniversary cake from Carlos

If you have an option to visit here, by all means, do it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Beauty Abounds!

This post comes from the beautiful Dominican Republic. I am at the mercy of my iPad so forgive the typos and errors. *note to self - should have practiced more. I have been blessed to visit some beautiful places but this definely rivals any of those. It's only been one day and I've fallen in love - with the people, who are so friendly, sweet and helpful to the lush greenery to the most amazing blue green water.I not sure how brown a bean I will be when I get back but I'm loving athe sunshine. the only pics I can figure out how to post are from the iPad camera so I will try to take more. but until then, enjoy these.

Really should have gotten a pedicure!

Beautiful beach

View from poolside cabana

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Apple Toffee Blonde Brownies- OMGOSH Yummy!

Apple Toffee Blonde Brownies
First let me tell you about my chili experience. I think of myself as a pretty good chili maker, my kids have finally gotten old enough that I can actually put the good stuff such as tomatoes, onions and peppers in and they don't have to be disguised and pureed. But I found a challenge this week. At my place of employment we commonly have meals catered in for different events and Friday was one of them. We frequently use a local mexican restaurant by the name of the Anchor Inn. Well some things are easy to guesstimate like tacos or enchiladas, but one thing that they never get right is rice and beans. Especially the beans, seems people never eat alot of beans, maybe because when they are sitting in those two gallon metal pans, they just don't seem very appetizing, and also because, hey, right down the row there are SOPILLAS!!! OLE AMIGO! anyway, so needless to say there are always alot left over. I saw the nearly full pan and thought there has to be something I can make with these but the only thing I could come up with was chili. So I brought this 5 lb pan of refried bean home and set to work.

I started with about 2/3 thirds of the beans, based solely on what my crock pot could hold - which by the way, I dropped and cracked when cleaning it afterwards, grrrr). I filled my humongo crock pot up about 2/3 of the way with refried beans, added hamburger, some rotel tomatoes, big can of tomato sauce, some onions, a couple more cans of different beans with jalepenos, a package of seasoning and crossed my fingers. AND GUESS WHAT!? It was good, but I needed a couple more opinions so my son was home from college and we invited a couple of friends over and the consensus was all thumbs up. Who would've guessed it?

Well I couldn't exactly serve just chili so I tried another new recipe, (my friends really don't mind being guinea pigs), Apple Toffee Blonde Brownies. Like I've said before I am not a big fruit fan, but I really liked this. I think next time I will use the suggested 8x10 pan though as they seemed a little too thick to get completely done in the very middle of the pan. It reminded me of a gooey apple crisp. My friends brought Blue Bell Vanilla ice cream and we were all fat and happy.

I used a Granny Smith Apple and Heath Chips
Bake 30 minutes @ 350

Cool Completely
Add Frosting

*Original recipe here from Cookies and Cups

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Halloween Treat Bags - Individual S'more Kits

It's often been joked about how I should have been a kindergarten teacher. I would agree if I liked to be around little children or if I could color inside the lines but small children are like spiders - unpredictable - you just never know if they are going to run at you or jump or bite- almost creepy-like and then the coloring inside the lines......pffft, really? who does that?

I enjoy making the goofy little gifts for all my coworkers and friends. Every holiday I try to come up with some little gift for everyone in my office (around 35 people), my kids (ages 21 & 24) and my coffee friends. Sometimes they are something silly like a first grader would make in school and sometimes it is just something yummy but it's always fun for me.

For Halloween I found the cutest little project on Pinterest (OH? I've mentioned Pinterest before?)
It was so simple and so cute. It was a Individual S'more Kit.
Supplies needed:
       -Ghost shaped Peeps - what? you do not know what a Peep is? It is like those yellow marshmallow chickens at Easter. A marshmallow covered in sugar, need I say more?
       -Small Hershey bars
       -One graham cracker broken in half
       -Cellophane bags

I made a little tag for the top but you could easily use a ribbon or the twist tie that is included.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Apple Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

My goal for October is to post as often as I can. I would like to post all yummy fall-ish recipes but I simply do not have enough time to test and take pictures so I will just do what I can.
Today's recipe is for Apple Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies, I altered the recipe because I didn't have a specific ingredient or two and I had two apples instead of one. And I think if I were to make it again I would cut my apple bites smaller and use regular oatmeal.

Using my new muffin top/cookie pan

Original Recipe from: The Picky Palate

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Fall Baking, New Kitchen Utensil & Orange Slice Cookies

Orange Slice Cookies

It's finally fall, the leaves turn, the sun rises slower, and there is a slight chill in the air in the morning. But fall also means comfort foods, soups, and BAKING!!! I love to cook and bake and as I've said before I'm sure it has something to do with combining a bunch 'o stuff and then having something totally yummy (or at least most of the time it's yummy).  One of the challenges of cooking is making something you personally do not like. I would much prefer to make something I can taste along the way or at least smell that it's going well, but sometimes ya just gotta step out on faith, slap on the Nike slogan and JUST DO IT!

I had one of these adventures this weekend, it was actually a two-fold reason for using the recipe that I chose. I got this handy dandy new baking item for my birthday and couldn't wait to try it out. It is called a muffin top pan, (from Apron Strings- Hutchinson) used to bake a very shallow muffin so that you end up with the most scrumptious part - the top.
Muffin Top/Cookie Pan

I had seen these used also to bake cookies so that you have beautiful perfectly round cookies. Sometimes a nicely shaped cookie can be achieved by using a uniform measurement, such as a cookie scoop, but the type of cookies that seem to be a problem is one that has stuff that melts such as caramel or fillings. I decided to test it on Orange Slice Cookies. Now anyone that knows me at all knows that if I had to choke down a jellified, sticky, sugar-coated, fruit flavored piece of ick, I would do just that - choke. But the second part of the cookie adventure was that this particular cookie is one of hubs' favorites and he was feeling a little blue. He had decided earlier in the week that the Hutchinson Rod Run was the perfect weekend to sell his third child - a white, '91 corvette. He was suffering a bit from separation anxiety and I thought if these didn't cure the sorrow at least he could get a good sugar buzz going.
'91 'vette

Recipe for Orange Slice Cookies

I gathered my ingredients and chopped up the gooey orange slices and set to work. The pan only holds 6 at a time and I only have one pan at the moment, but that turned out ok since there seemed to be a bit of a learning curve on exactly how much dough to put into the pan and how much to smash it down.
Chopped Up Orange Slices

I was happy with the results and think I will be getting one or three more to cut down on baking time. I have several recipes I want to try (have I mentioned I'm addicted to Pinterest? There are days I'm so engrossed in looking at the random collection of things from wedding  dresses (yes, I'm already married, and yes I have two boys, so what's your point?) to cute sayings to DIY crafts (like I NEED one more thing to start) to a bazillion kinds of recipes that I'm sure if someone ventures into my pinterest viewing space, I snarl and bare my teeth.

Speaking of snarling....random thought - because it's my blog and I don't have to have fluid continuity, I can be Queen of Random, if I so choose, hear ye, hear ye, all bow to the Queen Mum of Random......ohhh, I like that.... anyhoooo... Murphy, our million dollar dog, has hurt her paw. That within itself is not some big news flash because she is always hurting something, but she is limping around holding it up when she is walking creating a hopping effect, so we are affectionately calling her Hoppy the wonder dog now. Poor thing, she sets her paw in your hand but the minute you act like you are going to inspect it, her lip curls up in the cutest little Elvis snarl you ever saw on a dog. Well, cute until she snaps and sends her aptly named canine teeth into the fleshy part of your hand.  I'll let her work on fixing it herself - dogs seem to be able to do that - and if it doesn't get better, we'll spend a few more dollars on that silly but loveable member of the family.
Murphy aka Hoppy the Wonder Dog!