Showing posts with label Brite-Ideas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brite-Ideas. Show all posts

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Easy Homemade Coleslaw Dressing - A Family Fave

Easy Homemade Coleslaw Recipe
Quarantine has me thinking more about food. Fortunately, after 10 months of Keto, I still have willpower!

Keto warriors forewarned: This Coleslaw recipe is not Keto. However, if you replace the sugar with Monk Fruit Sweetener, it would be. Yet, I haven't personally tried that. If I did, I would use less Monk Fruit sweetener than 1/3 of a cup. I'd try a heaping tablespoon for my first attempt.

As mentioned in my previous recipe review posts (featured below), although I can cook, it's not my favorite thing to do. For that reason, I'm drawn to simple recipes.

While whipping through my stained recipe book, I came across this straightforward homemade recipe for Coleslaw dressing to share with you.

Homemade Coleslaw Dressing Ingredients:

. 1/2 Cup of Vinegar
. 2/3 Cup of Olive Oil
. 1/3 Cup of Sugar
. 1/2 Teaspoon of Pepper
. Miracle Whip Salad Dressing

If needed, you can double this.

Instructions:

Put all the ingredients in a small pot on the stove and bring it to a boil (EXCEPT the MIRACLE WHIP). Pour the boiled ingredients over the prepared Coleslaw while it's hot. Put it in the fridge until you're ready to serve.

Once you're ready to serve it, mix in two heaping tablespoons of Miracle Whip Salad Dressing. I've added the dressing when the Coleslaw dish is warm, and when it's been cooled in the fridge.

Preparing the Coleslaw:

You can buy the packages of ready-made Coleslaw at the store, or shred a cabbage head and
other vegetables..

The Extra Ingredients that Make Coleslaw Taste Great:

Other than a delicious Coleslaw dressing, there are two ingredients I always add:

. Chopped Apple
. Chopped Onion

Add the chopped apple just before serving. Cut the apple into small bite-sized pieces and stir it in. I usually cut up two medium-sized apples for a medium-sized bowl of Coleslaw.

Add 1/2 of a large onion, chopped or shredded.

The apple combined with the onion and the homemade dressing gives the Coleslaw a delicious taste.

Store-Bought Coleslaw Dressing Alternative:

If you don't have the time to fuss over making homemade dressing, Kraft's Coleslaw Dressing is excellent. Make the Coleslaw as described above with apple and onion, then put in nearly a full regular sized bottle of Kraft Dressing. Base the amount you want on how creamy you prefer your slaw. Pour it in quarters.

Previous Simple Recipes from My Kitchen:
If you're looking for a simple, comforting meat dish to serve with this Coleslaw, check out the Roast Pan Steak recipe featured above, it's so good!

Stay safe, happy cooking.



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Sunday, March 22, 2020

15 Additional Distracting and Calming Things to Do During Quarantine

15 Distracting Things to Do During Quarantine

Last week I wrote about ten calming and distracting things you can do during these crazy quarantine times.

This week I'll add another 15 suggestions for you.

1. 5000 Piece Puzzles

Ok, maybe just 1000 pieces will do. Family members of mine have tackled this one already.

2. Read the Hilarious Twitter Hashtag #QuarantineLife

The top tweets will crack you up. My mom and I were in stitches reading them!

3. Crossword Puzzles

Do you love to do crossword puzzles? If so, get out the book.

4. Redecorate a Room

That may involve trips to the store, so you may be restricted on what you can actually do. But hey, if you can even tackle one or two aspects of a redecorating project, good for you! Here's a brief helpful video on how to mix patterns in home decor:



5. Reorganize Your Cupboards and Closets

To some people, this is therapy, to others torture. Either way, get it done! If you've been putting off dealing with the disaster behind your closet door, now is a good time to get 'er done.

6. Learn a New Language

There are several common APPs you can use to learn a new language. Here are a few you can check out: Babbel, DuoLingo, and MemRise.

7. Learn to Play Piano Via an App

Yes, there's an APP for that. Here are two Apple Apps you can check out - Flowkey and Note Quest.

8. Assemble All Those Poems You've Written, And Self-Publish Your Book

Do you have a box of personally written poems that need a permanent place? How about writing that poetry book you've always wanted to write. I crossed that one off my bucket list last year and self-published my first book. I've since published five more and am working on my sixth. Here are some things I've learned along the way that may help you get started.

9. Crafts - DIY Crafting

I know, this is obvious. Knit, sew, or crochet those virus blobs. If you have friends who also enjoy crafts, turn it into a game. Tackle the same project and whoever finishes first gets a prize - maybe a book.

10. Learn Calligraphy

Family members of mine did this one the other day. You can get multiple tutorials on YouTube.



11. Coloring Books are Fun, Even for Adults

This is one I plan to do to relax. Coloring can be utterly satisfying. Color with the kids or you can always buy grown-up coloring books online.

12. Turn Your Life Into a Reality Show

If you're bold, go for it. Vlog your life and upload your daily routine to your social media audience. If you don't have an audience, you could end up with one fast lol - be careful!

13.  Take Cooking Lessons Online

Head over to Youtube and start watching all those addictive cooking videos! Have you always wanted to learn French Cooking? Now's your chance.



14. Assemble and Sort All Your Photos on Your Laptop & Phone

Sort all your photos and store them on a USB or in the cloud. Or create a family wall of photos - finally frame and display all those family favorites.

15. Handwrite Letters to Your Family

Handwrite a letter. Don't type it. Handwrite it and mail it to mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, or the kids. Include the kid's drawings or photos as well. Yes, you can do this online, but there's something very special about getting something like this in the mail.


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Sunday, March 15, 2020

10 Calming and Distracting Things to Do

Calming and Distracting Things to Do
With all that's going on in the world, some distraction is in order.

When you've had your fill of news, and consumed as much info as you need for a day or so, here are some things you can do to take your mind off the world.

1. Listen to Music

Yes, I know, that's predictable! You've heard it a million times. The principle of Occams Razor applies right now (the simplest solution is often the best or right one - paraphrasing). With that in mind, turn off the TV for a while or forever, and pick a few songs that speak to you.

Here, let me recommend a fantastic song for country music fans; have you listened to Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani's song "Nobody But You?" If not, take a minute. It's a perfect song to cuddle up to or think about the one you love, and what's most important in life.

Lyrics
"Don't have to leave this town to see the world
'Cause it's something that I gotta do
I don't wanna look back in thirty years
And wonder who you're married to
Wanna say it now, wanna make it clear
For only you and God to hear
When you love someone, they say you set 'em free
But that ain't gonna work for me"




It's currently my favorite country music song - hope you enjoy it.

2. Watch Inspirational Videos

This is a little self-serving; here's one of my most recent video-poems. Written about a month ago, it's about finding clarity and calm in life.

This year I've vowed to work on body, mind, and spirit. The video speaks to the spirit side of life. I call it Living in Light. If you need a little calm, mixed with a teaspoon of hope and faith, this one is for you.


3. Cooking - Do You Love to Cook?

If you love to cook there are a ton of recipes from our writers here on ReviewThisReviews. Be sure to check out the recipe section. You can find it here.

4. Puzzles and Games

You've already thought of this right? Board games, riddle games, and puzzles. If you're not in the mood to play family games, distract yourself with riddles. Yep, I happen to write them. Here's one, can you solve it?
Find more at StumpedRiddles.com
5. Dance in Your Kitchen

Oh, that sounds really dumb, doesn't it? It's not. Turn up the radio and dance. The exercise is good for us physically and mentally. Who cares how silly we look. Blast your favorite music and go for it.

6. Exercise

If your health permits and you have exercise equipment, use it. If not, there are plenty of yoga and exercise videos on Youtube and TV you can follow. I like this basic exercise video for Arms. This lady features short easy-to-do videos.


7. Draw, Paint or Create

Now is a good time to tackle that book you've always wanted to write. If books aren't your thing, sketch or paint. Stepping back in time, it's said that the plague may have influenced Shakespeare to create his best works. You can read about it here.

If you've wanted to write a book, but aren't sure where to start, I've written several articles with tips from my own personal experience of writing my first books. You can find them here:


8. Binge Watch TV

Oh my, that's too much couch time, but if you can't help yourself, here are some comical tips on what not to do when you binge-watch.

9.  Read a Book

If you're looking for a book to read, check out the book reviews by the Contributors on this site. There are some serious book-readers here! You can scroll through the reviews by starting here.

10. Express Your Love to Family and Friends

Don't hold back. Say it out loud or by text or phone if you have to, but say it. Say it over and over, and even say it for others to hear. Spread love - let your voice be heard.

My own Mind, Body and Spirit tips for 2020 are reviewed here.


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Sunday, March 8, 2020

My Personal Keto Testimonial

My Personal Keto Experience

So, I'm going to do this ... drumroll ... I'm going to review my experience with the Keto Diet.

I've been reluctant to write about Keto because most people seem to have an opinion on it already. However, since I feel so much healthier than a year ago, I feel compelled to say something about my experience.

This review isn't going to include education on Keto, but I'll link to a few useful resources for those interested. This is more of a testimonial.

I Started Keto May 14th, 2019

Going on a Keto Diet wasn't planned. In fact, I knew very little about it. For several years previous, I kept seeing "Keto" recipes on Pinterest and wondered 'what the heck is Keto?'.

I was introduced to Keto by a family member. During our family gathering, we were all extremely impressed with her weight loss and wondered what she was doing. She's very gracious and only volunteered information because we were asking. Her position is that she doesn't talk about it to others because everyone has 'an opinion' and she'd rather not go down that road. We were all curious though, and since I'm an information junkie, I was all ears.

When I Was Young I Was Thin

Some people struggle with weight their entire life. My struggles only happened later in life: in my fifties. I wasn't 'thin-thin' in my 40's but, after dieting I would lose weight. In my fifties, things changed drastically, and even though I didn't eat much, I couldn't lose weight - or so I thought!

I Didn't Eat Much Prior to Keto - I Thought I Was Choosing Wisely, Was I Wrong!

When I was young, like many people, all I had to do was cut down food and the weight would fall off. After four children and entering mid-life, things changed.

Keto, it turns out, works for my body. When I reflect back, my young years didn't include a lot of carbs. During those young years, when I cut food down, more than likely I didn't have a lot of stored carbs. Plus, the obvious, I was young and active.

What food choices were so wrong for me?

Keto gave me an education on the number of carbs in food. What I thought I knew about food, was all wrong. I had no idea what sugar really is, what it's in, how it works in the body and what it can do to you.

Here's an example: Prior to Keto, I would start my morning with 2 small yogurts and a banana. Big mistake for me, huge. lol. The yogurts each had about 13 carbs, and the banana approximately 22 carbs. Add the teaspoon of honey in my tea, and my day started with over 50 carbs!

You may be thinking, so what, 50 carbs should be fine - ahem, on Keto my daily net carb intake is 15 to 20 carbs - that's for the whole day!

Add my additional daily mistakes prior to Keto - bread, pasta, a sweet treat, and my daily carb intake was a lot! My body couldn't lose weight because I was storing carbs like a squirrel stores nuts for the winter! So when my body needed energy, it would access all my stored carbs - it never got a chance to get to my fat!

Keto is NOT for everyone. Some people (like my husband) can eat carbs 'til the cows come home and not gain weight. He eats breads, pastas, sweets, and omg doesn't gain weight..ever. I'm not like that. My body doesn't do well with a higher carb intake.

That's what keto taught me about me. Carbs are not my friend; good fats, proteins, and limited healthy carbs are. That's what works for me. Keto foods are my fave anyway; salmon, chicken, cheese, pickles, dark chocolate, steak and on and on.

What is Keto?

The Ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein and low carbohydrate diet. Since you're running on low carbs, the diet forces your body into a state of Ketosis. Normally we fuel our body with carbs for energy - on Keto you fuel your body with fats (choose healthy fats).

Wiki Definition of Ketosis:
"Ketosis is a metabolic state characterized by elevated levels of ketone bodies in the blood or urine. Ketosis is a normal response to low glucose availability, such as low-carb diets or fasting"

Some people do 'dirty keto' where they allow themselves unhealthy fats. I haven't done that. I've been responsible with my fat choices; avocado, almonds, coconut oil, 85% dark chocolate for a treat, and so on. Once in a while, I have bacon, but not that often.

I Could Have Never Succeeded Without This App

The App is Carb Manager. That link takes you to the iTunes version of the App. You can also read more about the benefits of Carb Manager at CarbManager.com.

Follow the directions on the App, input your data, and it will allow you to track everything you eat daily as well as auto-populate the fields of portions for protein, carbs, fats, and calories for you.

I've never missed a day of entering my food in Carb Manager. Every single thing I eat is entered. I'm brutally honest as well. No point in cheating, because that's just cheating myself.

My Results on Keto to Date

My Weight:
Today is March 8th, 2020. I started Keto on May 4th, 2019. I've lost approximately 55 pounds to date. I want to lose another 20lbs. However, if my body says it's done, I'll stop, but so far, so good.

My Health
I was diagnosed in 2016 with Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is a serious auto-immune disease. (Most people confuse it with Arthritis). I was so sick in the early stages. Just horribly unwell. Since I've lost all this weight, I'm the healthiest I've been in my fifties. Cutting out all that sugar and gluten has changed my life. It's noticeable.

I'm not promoting or suggesting this way of eating is for other people. Everybody has to find what works best for them. I wanted to let others know who are on Keto or maybe considering Keto that this lady has had a very positive experience.

Keto is not a diet for me now, it's a lifestyle - it's a way of eating that my body and health are grateful for.

So here I am today - I'm 59 years old in this photo taken about a month ago - I turn 60 in August and am planning to be at my goal weight for that big birthday number.

50 Pounds Down after 9 months on Keto - February 2020
Life isn't perfect. It never will be. My motto is that I can't control other people, but I can control myself. I've been working hard to live that way in every aspect of my life over the past year. I feel as though I've just woken up and that life is only beginning - self-control, hope, bravery, love, kindness, patience, woman-power, and prayer - that's me at 59.

Note: This is not meant as medical advice - it's always prudent to check with your doctor before starting a diet.


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Sunday, March 1, 2020

Roast Pan Steak - Another Family Favorite - It's So Good!

Roast Pan Steak - A Family Fave
I'm anxious to share this favorite family recipe with you. Since I've spent approximately the last four Sunday's posting our family faves, why not add another one?

Roast Pan Steak is a recipe passed along to me from my mom. I'm sure it came from her mother, my grandmother, and her mother before that.

This recipe is simple, just the way I like them.
Your house will smell amazing with this cooking in the oven!
I remember one particular time when we had visitors, I had this dish cooking in the oven. Our visitors kept repeating over and over how amazing the food smelled.

Roast Pan Steak Ingredients and Cooking Instructions:
  • Steak (cut into bite-sized cubes) - 1 large steak  If you add another steak, double the sauce; 3 steaks, triple it and so on.
Sauce for the One Large Steak:
  • 1 Cup of Ketchup or BBQ Sauce (I prefer Ketchup)
  • 1/3 Cup of Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup of Water
  • 1/2 of a Large Onion Chopped - Use more if you like
  • 1 Tablespoon of Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon of Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce
Brown the cut-up steak in a frying pan. Once browned, remove it from the steak pan and put it in an oven roast pan.

Put the water in the steak pan with the steak drippings and steak juice. Mix it up nicely to get all that flavor into the water. Then mix all the other ingredients listed above (water already used) in a bowl and pour it into the frying pan.

Next, take that finished sauce that's in your frying pan, and pour it over the steak that's in the oven roast pan. Cook it in the oven for about 3 hours at 300 degrees (low and slow). It should fall apart. Each bite should be tender.

You can cook it with or without the lid, just watch if it's drying out. It should remain relatively saucy. Generally, I cook halfway through the time without the lid and just eyeball it from there.

If it seems a bit dry (which has never happened to me), add a bit of watered-down Ketchup (1/2 cup), pour it over, stir and put it back in the oven with the lid on.

NOTES
  •  As mentioned above, you can double or triple the sauce
  • You can use stewing beef, but it's way better with steak!
  • The amount of steak versus sauce is up to you - If you like it saucier, use less steak and more sauce. Or use lots of steak and lots of sauce. 
  • If you're serving a lot of people, I would use more sauce and more steak.

From Our Kitchen - A Collection of Sunday Shares


Don't hesitate to give Roast Pan Steak a try, it tastes and smells incredible. Serve it with a salad, veggies, and oven-baked or mashed potatoes.



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Sunday, February 23, 2020

Family Favorite Pancake Recipe

A Family Favorite Pancake Recipe - Easy and Delicious
Here I go again. Another weekly review post about a recipe.

If you've seen my last few Sunday posts you've already heard me express how I'm shocking myself with all these recipe shares. Like I already said, it's not because I can't cook, it's just not my favorite thing to do.

I may be possessed by a Chef or something? Yah, like I'm a chef; not.

Today I'm sharing our family recipe for Pancakes. It's another easy recipe.

But wait, one of my fellow writers, Lou16, just wrote about her best pancake recipes! Oh no. I don't want to step on toes so be sure to check out her article. She provides several fantastic and unique recipe ideas. I'll have to try them.

How Many Ingredients Are in This Family Pancake Recipe?

There are 8 ingredients. This recipe, like most pancake recipes, is made by mixing everything together in one bowl.

What Makes this Pancake Recipe the Best One in the Entire World According to My Family - Tongue in Cheek :)

It's not just my family who love these pancakes; it's friends and visitors as well.

My mother passed this recipe along to me decades ago, and I can pretty much make it with my eyes closed. However, I did tweak the recipe and added one more ingredient.

That one ingredient addition is "Vanilla Extract".

For this basic pancake recipe, this small addition gives it that extra punch. Top your pancakes with strawberries and whip cream and it pretty much tastes like 'pancake cake'.

How to Make This Simple Recipe
  • 1 Cup of Flour
  • 3 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 2 Tablespoons of Sugar (Optional)
  • 3/4 Teaspoon of Salt (Optional)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Cup of Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons of Melted Butter
  • 1 Teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract
You can double or triple this recipe as well.

Mix everything together in one bowl. Don't over mix. Once all the ingredients are blended together, let the batter sit for 10 minutes. 

Cook it on a greased grill. I use butter, but normally only need the butter for the first batch.

Most of you who make pancakes already know this basic tip: When you put a pancake on the grill, you only flip it once and flip it over when you see the batter bubbling through the top.

Additional Family Recipes Previously Shared:
So there it is again, another peek into our kitchen.




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Sunday, February 16, 2020

White Cake with Coconut Topping - Another Family Favorite

White Cake with Baked Coconut Topping - A Family Fave

I don't know what's with me lately, but here I am again this week talking about another recipe my family loves.

As I mentioned in the other recipe articles, of course, I can cook, it's just not my favorite thing to do. What the heck, I'll keep the recipe sharing going until this phase wears off.

Here's this Sunday's recipe for y'all: It's the most amazing simple white cake evah!

Much like the simplicity of my previously shared recipes, this one only has six ingredients, and it's so good! It has a topping as well, so the total ingredients are actually nine. You've done the math, so I guess you've figured out that the topping has three.

We actually don't have a name for this recipe, we just call it 'White Cake with Coconut Topping.'

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Cup of White Sugar
  • 1 Cup of Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Cup of Milk
  • 1/4 Cup of crushed Walnuts (optional)
(Did you notice these ingredients are similar to making pancakes?)

Mix all the ingredients together, but don't put the walnuts in, they go on top. Don't over mix. Just get everything nicely blended. Pour the ingredients into an ungreased 8.1" square baking dish (2 quart). Sprinkle the top of the batter with the crushed walnuts. Bake the cake for approximately 25 minutes at 350 degrees. However, check it at 20 minutes.

The Topping

  •  6 Tablespoons of Butter
  • 10 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons of Cream or Canned Milk
Melt all ingredients in a pot on low heat. Once melted, add 1 Cup of baking coconut (the coconut you buy in the baking section of a grocery store).

Finishing the Cake


I usually poke about ten or so tiny holes into the cake using a toothpick. Pour the topping over the cake. Put the cake back in the oven under the broiler until the coconut on top turns into a nice golden color. It doesn't take long, watch it the whole time, don't walk away!

This is one of my favorite cakes. When my mother makes this cake, I cannot resist it. Although, yes I have resisted it for 10 months since I've been on Keto. Before my commitment to the Keto way of eating, I was all over this cake! I'll have to find a way to make this one Keto friendly.

Previous Family Recipes


Here are those other recipes I was speaking about:



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Sunday, February 9, 2020

Man's Birthday Cake - A Family Favorite Recipe

Man's Birthday Cake - An Easy Family Recipe
Passed Down from Generation to Generation

For the past several reviews I've shared family favorite recipes and today I'd like to share another.

Some people love to cook or bake, however, I'm not one of them. Don't get me wrong, I can cook; it's just that it's not my favorite thing to do. Because of that, I tend to stick with recipes I'm used to and that have been proven from generation to generation.

Most of us have favorite go-to recipes that we whip up when we need something quick. Here are my previous family baking favorites:
  1.  One-Bowl Chocolate Cake
  2.  Homemade Chocolate Icing
  3.  Easy Banana Loaf
In the chocolate cake recipe, you'll notice that the ingredients are very basic, but I point out which ingredient I believe makes the cake taste so good. Be sure to check it out.

A Man's Birthday Cake - What Is It?


Man's Birthday Cake is a raisin spice cake. I suspect the name of the cake was given generations ago because that's what we've always called it. The men in our family do like it, but so do the kids and women!

This recipe comes from my maternal grandmother's family, is a family favorite, and is simple to make.

What's Different About This Cake?


Like the banana loaf featured above, this recipe doesn't use milk. This raisin spice cake is made with raisin water instead.

Man's Birthday Cake Ingredients & Instructions


1 Cup of Raisins
2 Cups of Water, Keep the Water
1/2 Cup of Butter
1 Cup of Sugar
1 Egg
1 and 3/4 Cups of Flour
1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
1 Teaspoon of Cloves
1 Teaspoon of Allspice
1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon

Boil the raisins in two cups of water. Keep the water. (Note: Bring it to a boil and let it boil for five or six minutes).

Mix the butter, sugar, and egg in a medium-sized bowl. Once mixed, add the raisins and water. Give it a stir to blend it all together. It's ok if the water and raisins are hot.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, allspice, and cinnamon. 

Then combine the two bowls of ingredients together. Stir until blended.

Place the cake mix into an ungreased baking dish (9 by 13). It will be a thin-looking batter and may seem like there's not much for such a large pan. However, when you use a pan this size, you can cut it into nice bite-sized squares for individual serving if you prefer.

You can use other sized pans of course.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 40 minutes depending upon your oven. Check it after 20 minutes, if it's still not done, leave it for another 10 minutes. Keep doing that until it's fully baked. In my oven, it cooks in 20(ish) minutes.

When it cools I cut it up into squares and stack the squares in a covered cake dish for the family to grab and go. 

I rarely ice this cake, however, my grandmother used to top it with a cream cheese icing. Yum. If you decide to ice the cake, of course, you know you need to let the cake completely cool first.

By the way, without icing this is a delicious cake, when hot, with a bit of butter melting on it. Yum.

If you're making it as a birthday cake, you'll want to put the icing on it.




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Sunday, February 2, 2020

The Best One Bowl Chocolate Cake According to My Family

Easy One-Bowl-Chocolate Cake - a Family Recipe

My grandmother used this recipe, then mom, and now me. It has been handed down from generation to generation, and I suspect that trend to continue in our family.

My family always requests this chocolate cake. In fact, for birthday celebrations, store-bought cakes are not an option; this home-made cake is always preferred.

What Makes this Cake So Good?


It's not difficult to make a cake, and I'll bet the ingredients for this recipe are standard to most cakes. However, if I had to pull out one ingredient that makes this cake taste amazing, I'd say it's the Cocoa. 

I've always used Fry's Cocoa. I use it for our home-made chocolate icing as well. See below for a link to that recipe.

I've tried other baking Cocoa, but my family always says that 'the cake doesn't taste the same.' So I stick to Fry's Cocoa. Maybe they're just used to it? However, their friends also comment on how good the chocolate cake is - so yah, maybe it's the Cocoa?

You can get Fry's Cocoa in the USA; it's imported from Canada and is available here via Amazon. Canadians can visit Amazon's Canada site to order it, or head to the grocery store; it's easy to find.

Chocolate Cake Recipe Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 Cups of White Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of Cocoa (Fry's Cocoa if you have it - I pack it a bit to get a little more)
  • 1 and 3/4 Cups of White Flour
  • 1 and 1/2 Teaspoons of Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 Cup of Softened Butter (not melted)
  • 1 and 1/2 Cups of Milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract
Put everything in one bowl and lightly beat the ingredients until they're mixed together. Never over beat a cake. Once the ingredients are mixed and blended, that's good enough.

I bake this cake in a three-quart oblong glass baking dish or cake pan (9inches by 13inches).
How to Make the Best Home-Made Icing

You can use a non-stick spray if you like; however, I never use that. I'll rub the bottom and sides of the dish with butter, then lightly coat it with flour. To coat it with flour, put about a teaspoon of flour in the middle, then pick-up the cake dish and tilt it in all directions until the flour spreads very thinly over the bottom and sides. If there's too much flour, dump out the excess.

You can use different shaped cake pans as well. I've used two round ones before, then stacked them to make a round cake.

Bake the cake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 1/2 hour to 45 minutes depending upon your oven. Check it at the half-hour mark, then judge the length of time left at that point. With my oven, it's usually 40 minutes or so.

Let your cake cool, and then ice it with delicious home-made chocolate icing; here's the recipe. I've also linked the above photo to the Icing recipe. My grandmother taught me how to make it, so be sure to check it out; it also uses Fry's Cocoa. 




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Sunday, January 26, 2020

Craig Morgan's Incredible Song, The Father, My Son and The Holy Ghost

A gorgeous and moving song about losing someone you love
It's been about three years since singer-songwriter Craig Morgan released new music. Unfortunately, this incredibly emotional song was written to help others who have also experienced gut-wrenching loss. It honors the passing of his 19-year-old son.

These Truthful Lyrics are Extremely Personal, They'll Grab Your Soul - Tissues Needed

I'm listening to "The Father, My Son, and The Holy Ghost" as I'm typing this review, and my eyes are pouring tears. Like any mother, trying to fathom this kind of loss is more than I can wrap my head around.

The lyrics are excruciatingly painful, truthful, and still - filled with healing hope.

"I cried, and cried, and cried until I passed out on the floor
Then I prayed, and prayed, and prayed til I thought I couldn't pray anymore,
And minute by minute, day by day, my God, he gave me hope,
I know my boy ain't here but he ain't gone"

The lyrics tell a personal story of heartache that not one of us wants to feel, yet many have. Man, it breaks me in half even trying to understand how parents can survive the loss of a child.

I've been tested in multiple ways in this life, and I often mention to the good Lord that he no longer needs to keep testing, because I'll pass every exam. However, please dear Lord, this is a test that I'm sure I couldn't pass. 

As Craig Morgan sings this song, I want to reach through the computer screen and give him a compassionate hug, and honestly wish I could erase this horrendous pain. I'm blessed with four sons and beautiful stepchildren and I can't, I just can't imagine this kind of pain. 

"I Won't Completely Heal Til I Go Home"

This part of the song describes the absolute truth about this kind of loss; We won't completely heal until we go home. We learn to live with our new version of life after a soul-crushing loss and know the previous way we lived will never, or never can be experienced again.

I'm almost feeling guilty even thinking about the pain of losing my father because Craig Morgan's loss of his son is pain beyond my comprehension.

Text, Call or Email the Ones You Love Right Now

That's what this song did for me. I just sent a quick "I love you" text to each of my children. I did it for me, for them, and to honor Craig Morgan's beautiful son.

I imagine by now you're wanting to listen to this song? Get out the tissues, because yes, you're going to need them.

Blessings to you, Craig Morgan, and to your family. Thank you for writing this moving song and helping others through their own pain.

You can listen to Craig Morgan speak directly about his loss here on The Kelly Clarkson Show.

This live performance by Craig Morgan at the Opry is spectacular. Listen with high-quality headphones if you're able.




I've been a Craig Morgan fan for a while now and reviewed a few of his other songs that feature story-telling lyrics and inspirational messages. You can find them here.

Virtual hugs.


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Sunday, January 19, 2020

6 Ingredient Banana Loaf - Mix and Bake

6 Ingredient Banana Loaf
There are so many banana loaf recipes online that I'm hesitant to add another to the mix.

However, some people may appreciate this simple 6 ingredient recipe. It's easy to remember, and the items are what most people have in their cupboard.

This recipe has been my quick go-to solution for using up ripe bananas for over thirty years.

"This is a no egg, no milk recipe"

The Basic Ingredients:
  •  3 mashed ripe bananas
  •  1.5 (one and a half) cups of flour (I use white flour)
  •  1 cup of sugar
  •  2 tablespoons of butter (on the softer side but not melted)
  •  1 teaspoon of baking soda
  •  1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
For Chocolate Chip Banana Loaf, add a 1/2 to 3/4 cup (your choice) of chocolate chips.
For Banana Nut Loaf, add a 1/2 to 3/4 cup of your favorite chopped nuts.
For Cherry Banana Loaf, add a 1/2 to 3/4 cup of jarred cherries (only the cherries, not the liquid)

Directions:

Everything goes into one bowl. 

Mash the bananas, then add the other five ingredients. Mix it together. It's ok if the butter isn't completely dissolved. You can bake it as is, or go ahead and add any of the suggested items above, chocolate chips or nuts or cherries. 

Put the mixture in a non-stick loaf pan. Personally, I've never used a pan that's not non-stick, so if you plan to use one, spray it with non-stick cooking spray or rub a layer of butter on it.

Bake at 325 for approximately 1 hour or until it's fully cooked. With my oven, it will cook faster. I check it at about the half-hour point by giving it the touch test on top. When I think it's fully cooked, I'll put a knife down the middle, and if it pulls out clean, it's done.

Adjustments:

Over the years I've altered the recipe from time to time. I've used more bananas (four) and sometimes fewer bananas (two). Also, the size of the bananas can call for small adjustments. If the bananas are small, then I'll use four without adjusting the flour content.

When I use four large bananas, I tend to add a bit more flour. Generally, I go by the feel of the batter. 

When I feel the batter needs additional moisture, I'll add a bit more butter - a third heaping tablespoon.

Slicing Your Banana Loaf

I always cut-up my banana loaf, then display it in a cake dish. It's a visual thing and entices the gang to eat it. 

I've cut the loaf in two ways: 

1. Once it cools, you can cut it in horizontal one inch wide pieces like you see in a bakery, then display it in a pretty cake dish.

or,

2. Cut it in two-inch wide horizontal pieces, then cut it vertically down the middle giving the pieces a larger square look.

My family prefers the chocolate chip banana loaf - Here it is, cut in larger squares as described in point number two above.




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Sunday, January 12, 2020

Life's Changing Perspectives - A Twenty Year Review Through Poems


How have you changed in twenty years?

I've declared 2020 the year of Body, Mind, and Spirit, with the main focus being on feeding my spirit to bring all aspects of my life into balance.

Remember Who I Am - Life Reflections Then and Now

Nearly twenty years ago, I wrote a poem called, "Remember Who I Am." The poem isn't about begging to be remembered, but rather about acknowledging the mistakes I made in life, and how ultimately I learned from those mistakes.

Looking back twenty years ago, when the video poem featured below was written, I clearly see my personal growth since that point in time.

I'm a different person at 59 years old than I was in my 30s. I suspect that's quite normal. God willing, if I get to 80 years old, I imagine my outlook will further change.

The most significant change inside of me is a grander understanding of inner peace, and what inner peace truly is.

There's so much I want to type about inner peace right now, but honestly, I don't think I can explain it? Let me say it this way, with these powerful words:


 "In the end, everything WILL be O.K."  - I get this now.


We're still dealing with some of the same life struggles we faced when I was in my thirties. Even though those struggles are still quite significant, I now see how mundane they are, and rarely pray on those. In the grand scheme of life, they don't rate.

When I was in church last week, I started thinking about my prayers from those times, and how I've grown to understand that the secret to solutions is within us - and that prayers for souls, the human condition, our community, those we love, and visualizing the good, is where ultimate peace rests.

I feel I'm awake now. 

As though I've been handed a book with some of life's secrets in them. I'm looking forward to the next book in twenty more years if I'm so blessed.

I've mastered forgiveness.

Without giving away anything overtly personal, I can unequivocally state, I've got this one down. What I understand most about forgiveness is that it's not up to me to 'forgive' others. It's lessons learned, from all sides.

I approach the mistakes others make that hurt me, family, friends, or strangers, as people who are either lost, dark, or learning at their pace. Life is school, and some of us are in pre-school while others have PhDs. No judging. Letting go.

Also, I don't agree with the saying, "I forgive, but I'll never forget."  For me, if I have to hold any grudge, including 'never forgetting,' it's not forgiveness. You can read a bit more about this in an article I wrote, many years ago called, "The Secret to Life."

Despite life's changes over the past twenty years, the words to this poem I wrote so long ago, still stand.



Angels on Duty - Starting Our Day with a Helping Hand

Again, I wrote this one about twenty years ago. Of all the poems I've written over the past fifty years, this is one of my favorites.

The poem was written to create a visual of how Angels begin their daily work, helping us, as soon as we wake up.

It's about waking up in the morning, swinging your legs over the edge of the bed, bending over with your hands over your face, as you pause thinking about the challenges you face today, and wondering if you have the strength to do it. Without knowing, there's an Angel present, whispering affirmations, and confirmations that 'everything will be ok' and that you're not alone, and yes, you can do it.


Towards the end of last year, I achieved a bucket list item: I published a book featuring 50 years of my poems. Change, perspective, growth - it's all good. #bethechange #spreadthewordofgood





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Sunday, January 5, 2020

How NOT to Binge Watch a Series - The Three Rules of Survival

How NOT to Binge Watch a Series!
Save Yourself Before It's too Late
Tongue in cheek. Well, sort of. I kind-of mean every single word.

In the scope of life problems, this doesn't even rate. But that's why I'm writing about it. Since there's too much going on in the world, mindless drivel is temporarily appealing, almost necessary.

So, you probably guessed by now that I'm the recent victim of binge-watching a series. I can feel the professional binge-watchers rolling their eyes. Still, the pros need to remember, they were newbie-bingers once.

Let's Review the Three Rules:

1. Don't Pick a Series With Only One Season

For gawd-sakes, before you even scroll through Amazon Prime or Netflix, decide that any series with only one season is off-limits.

Want to know why?

Because when you're finished watching Season 1, you'll be googling to find out when Season 2 is coming out.

Then you'll toss your perrier in the fireplace when you find out it hasn't been renewed for a second season. Or if it has been renewed, that filming doesn't start until March of 2020, which means the fall of 2020 before you get to watch it again - one darn episode at a time!

Yes, I binge-watched 'Another Life' on Netflix last night and yep, one season only, and season two doesn't start filming until March 2020. I have this uncontrollable urge to see if they'll hire me on the crew so I can get a heads-up on the story. I need help.

Since I mentioned the series 'Another Life,' are you wondering if I recommend it? Well, if you like Sci-Fi with a connection to Earth as we currently know it, then I hate to say this, but you're going to love it.

Warning, resist it because you'll only want more. Or go ahead and keep me company for a year until season two starts. I'm already looking forward to Fall 2020, how sick is that?

2. Don't Start Binge-Watching at Midnight

Yah. I did that too.

So there I was, scrolling Netflix for a movie. You know, one that's maybe ... like ... 2 hours at the most. I had noticed 'Another Life' before, and that it was a 'series,' and avoided it for that reason.

Last night, I was powerless. I gave in to my 'no series' rule and couldn't fight the urge to not click 'watch next episode' all.night.long.

I figure if you start watching around 7pm and decide to binge, then there's a good chance you'll be heading to bed before 4am. Plus, there's also the chance that life intrusions will prevent you from watching every episode at once! At midnight, there's no one awake to rag on you.

Ok. I did have some discipline, I only watched eight episodes and viewed the final two this afternoon. I can't get this show out of my head, can you tell? I'm so curious about the next season. Grrrr.

3. Don't Be Afraid to Use the Pause Button

It seems logical, right? When you need to take a break, hit the Pause button, and go do your thing. I mean, we're not Gremlins that can't be fed after midnight, are we? But come to think of it, I was more like Stripe last night.

Apparently, that's too much common sense for me, and I held it way too long. Sheesh, I wasn't even stuck in a vehicle.

So, pause your series for snack and pee breaks. When you're really into your show, you'll resist stepping away, and all I can say is resist the resistance -  'taint good for the bladder.

Here's the trailer for Another Life, to lead you into temptation :)



Is There a Series with More Than One Season that I Recommend?

Omg, that's a screaming YES!!

My all-time favorite program in the history of programs is the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon! I know I'm screaming again. It's based on the books, and it.is.absolutely.fantastic. The fans, me included, are chomping at the bit to watch Season 5, which starts in February of 2020!

So guess what, if you binge-watch all 4 seasons of Outlander, you'll be able to start watching Season 5 right away with the rest of us crazies.

I'm so obsessed with this show that I follow it on Twitter and Instagram? I need an intervention.

Oh, here's a heads-up warning:

When you get to the episode called 'The Wedding,' umm, watch it without kids in the room. The wedding night is very, very very and very physical with a lot of nudity. If that's not your thing you can skip it, but I must say, it's pertinent to fully appreciate Jamie and Claire's connection.

I'm leading you into temptation one more time with the Trailer for Outlander Season 1, but this show has 4 seasons to consume your life - a much better way to get lost in space.




I'll close by saying that I don't watch a lot of TV. Don't laugh, it's true. However, when I do watch, I apparently go all in?

So let's summarize the three rules:

1. A show with more than one season
2. Don't start binge-watching at midnight
3. Take breaks

Or ignore them, and watch what you want, when you want :)


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Sunday, December 29, 2019

2020 is Body, Mind, and Spirit - Complete Life Balance, A Personal Commitment

2020 - Body, Mind, Spirit

Have you decided upon a new year's resolution for 2020? Do you prefer to avoid making one? When you review 2019 for you or your family, how does it rate?

2019 has been a challenging year for our family, and I know for many others. I'm looking forward to putting this year behind me.

I've made a resolution that I'd like to share here. It's about balance, but it's not about work-play balance. The balance I'm seeking is to nurse all three of these aspects in my life carefully.

Body, Mind, Spirit
Sounds corny right?

Not to me, not at this stage in my life. I've neglected my spirit. Even though it seems like I'm in a state of constant prayer, I still feel I haven't been feeding my soul properly.

The section on Spirit isn't meant to be about religion; I'm simply sharing what I do to expand my soul. However, whether you believe in God, a higher power, regardless of faith, or are a non-believer, we can all connect with our inner self, and free our minds with a little spiritual exercise.

I'm not an overtly religious person, but I do feel connected to a world beyond this one. It doesn't matter whether we feel that or not, what matters is that we make an effort to deepen our connection with humanity.

How I Personally Exercise Mind, Body & Spirit

The Mind

This one is pretty easy for most of us.

Chances are if you're reading this, you spend time online and probably have a blog, website, work for a company, or go to school. Just the amount of reading and learning we do to stay up-to-date with the above can give our mind a workout.

Most of my mind exercise comes from online reading. It seems I'm in a constant state of learning. If you're not online enough to be learning that way, then, of course, there are the usual, crosswords,  puzzle books, reading actual books and best of all, stimulating, productive and positive conversations with friends.

The Body

We all know that respecting our bodies can be pretty tough at times.

Eating healthy, exercise, and keeping ourselves free of substances not prescribed by a doctor are the common areas to focus on.

Personally, for health reasons, I made significant changes with my body in 2019. I decided to try the Keto Diet. I hate calling it a diet because, for me, it's not - it's a way of eating. I started May 4, 2019, and to date have lost 50 pounds; another 25, and I'm at my goal.  Anyway, I won't get into all the details of Keto; that isn't my point, taking control of my health is.

Sometimes caring for our body means relaxing more, enjoying ourselves more, and if we're healthy, merely being happy with the body we have.

The Spirit

In 2019 I did focus fairly successfully on Mind and Body, but I neglected spirit.

I started around December 12th, 2019, to do the soul work I should have been doing all year. The work I do is more than prayer. You can use the general concepts I use and convert them to fit your belief system. It's never my intention to push religion on anyone. I'm merely sharing the way I personally enhance inner-peace.

At night, a lot of people listen to meditation tapes, music, and audiobooks to fall asleep. If what you're doing is feeding your soul, keep doing that.

What I Do to Personally Feed My Soul

I was seeking a greater connection.

Six years ago, I came across a YouTube video Channel called Off The Left Eye. I had listened and followed them for several years, then life got in the way, and I drifted.

Off The Left Eye examines life through spirituality and faith, through the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg's (1668-1772 - Theologian, Scientist, Philosopher) personal experience with the afterlife.

Swedenborg was a famous scientist. After his otherworldly experience, he wrote ten thousand pages on his journey through the veil. Consequently, he was shunned by the scientific community of his day.

When I'm tucked in for bed, I listen to the videos featured by Off the Left Eye. Despite all of life's challenges, I do consider myself a peace-filled person. However, watching these videos expands my horizon and brings me to an even deeper level of understanding. Also, when I'm having a bad day, they're a must for rejuvenation.

These videos are erasing that persistent horrible feeling that another shoe is about to drop. I hate that feeling! I'm mastering its eradication with the help of these videos.

I love the metaphors that the Host, Curtis Childs uses; he has such a fun way of getting you to understand a concept that may seem too complex to grasp through Swedenborg's writing alone.

At any rate, for me, understanding the bigger picture is grounding. Letting God in, blocking out dark energy, and constantly praying (lol) makes for a happier me.

Whether you use music, quotes, other religious teachings, yoga, or meditation, it doesn't matter as all of it will feed the inner you.

Here's the very first video, from six years ago I tripped on by Off The Left Eye (It's a short inspirational summary of humanity):



Here's to a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2020. Happy New Year!





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