Thursday, March 31, 2016

Easy Cake...



This post is a sort of 'throwback Thursday.'  This is one of my oldest recipes.  I've probably made it dozens of times.  I have been craving it for awhile, and had intended to make it for Sunday family dinner, but too many of our kids don't like pineapple.  Today I realized I had all the ingredients and decided I could make it just for Carey and I.

My handwritten recipe has the title as just 'Easy Cake.'  I submitted it to a church cookbook once with the name 'Easy Pineapple Cake,' because I thought it should give a hint of what was in it.

It truly is easy.  E.  Z.  You don't even need a mixer for the cake, just stir it together.  The texture after baking isn't light and cake-like, it is very dense and moist.  

You don't really need a mixer for the frosting either, but I used my hand mixer today.

Easy Pineapple Cake
Ingredients:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs (beaten)
1 20 ounce can crushed pineapple in juice (do not drain)

Preheat oven to 350° F.  

Stir together the dry ingredients, then add the eggs, vanilla, and pineapple with its juice.  Stir by hand till mixed well.  Pour into a greased 9" x 13" pan.  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, till golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool completely.

Frosting for Easy Pineapple Cake
Ingredients:
1 (8 ounce) brick of cream cheese (softened to room temperature)
1 stick butter (softened)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup pecans (chopped)

Stir (or mix) together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla.  Add the powdered sugar and stir (or mix) till well incorporated and smooth.  Stir in pecans.  Spread frosting evenly over cooled cake in the pan.

Yummmmmm...craving sated.

I also posted this over at What's Cookin' 4 Miles North of Nowhere.
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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto

This has been on my Kindle seemingly forever.  Must get it read.
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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter...

For the past few weeks, Sunday dinner at Kasey's has included an after-dinner game of some sort.  Caitlyn received Headbanz in her Easter basket, so of course we had to play it tonight.  

You wear a picture of an object on your head so everyone can see it except you.  Then you ask questions to try to identify what you 'are.'  Sort of a 20 questions game, though you get unlimited number of questions, and the only question not allowed is, 'What am I.'  

A kids game for ages 7+, though the adults had fun too.  I was really bad at it, because I couldn't remember what questions I had asked from one turn to the next.  The word 'moon' was exceptionally difficult.  Am I a place?  Yes.  Do people visit this place.  Yes, but very few people, and not for a very long time.  LOL

I didn't make a dessert today.  It wasn't missed since we all ate Easter candy.  :)
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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Saturday snail mail...

I made a couple of cards this weekend.  This one was for Caitlyn to send to her great grandmother for her birthday.  Normally, I have the girls make their own cards to send, but we were kind of in a time crunch, and 'writing a letter to ma' was something she specifically asked to do while she was here overnight. 

I wish I could share the letter she wrote inside.  Both of the girls write really lovely, long, newsy notes.  I am really, really happy to have been able to share with them how to write a nice letter to someone.  I had a good partner in that effort, because their great-grandmother is kind enough to answer each letter that she receives from them, which they greatly look forward to.  So they have learned how much the letters they write are appreciated, and they have learned how nice it is to receive one as well.

Recently I found this cursive workbook and purchased one for each of the girls.  In an effort to entice them, I told them that writing in cursive is something that few people would be able to do in the future, so those who could would have a special talent that not everyone would share.  My son reinforced the message  when he walked by later, and noticing Chloe working over her practice book, told her that he did not know how to write in cursive.  I had no idea!  Apparently he learned how in one year of school, but after passing the course it was never required in future grades, so he has never used it again. 

Both of the girls enjoyed spending time with the workbooks.  I hope that they can write their letters to their great-grandmother in cursive one day soon.  

The second card I made was also for my mother-in-law's birthday.  There's no photo of that one, however, as I was madly rushing this afternoon to get it made, written, and to the mailbox before pick-up time, so I forgot to take a photo of it.  I did get a letter written inside of it, though.  In cursive.  :)
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Friday, March 25, 2016

Frugal Friday File, week 12...


Successes:
1.  Attended auction...only bid on one thing...an 82-piece set of beautiful white Haviland Ranson china, but it went higher than I wanted to pay, so I let somebody else spend their money on it.  Later at home... Me: "Honey, you are not going to believe what I bought at the auction."  Him: "Oh, no.  What?"  Me: "Nothing!"  Him: "I don't believe it."  :)

2.  Booked another half day of work this week.

3.  Went to IKEA with a list of needed/wanted items that I have been compiling for the past year or so.  Didn't deviate from the list for impulse purchases.

4.  Used $140 worth of IKEA shelves and about $30 of trim from Home Depot to add "built-in" shelving to dining room.  Will be reusing foam from previous bench cushions to refashion a window seat.

5.  Postponed making hair appointment and buying new printer for another week.  I'm really missing the printer, though.

Keep Tryings:
Frugal food planning and prep needs a jump start.


Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  breakfast for dinner: pancakes, eggs, bacon
Sunday:  Family dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  leftovers
Tuesday:  15-bean soup, cornbread
Wednesday: (not frugal burgers out) 
Thursday:  (not frugal dinner out with other granddaughter)
Friday:  omelet
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Monday, March 21, 2016

One of us is crazy...


Remember the old Ingrid Bergman/Charles Boyer movie Gaslight, where the husband tries to convince his wife that she's imagining things and does things that she doesn't remember?  Welcome to our world.  The difference?  There is no clear villain, just two very confused people.

More and more frequently, Carey and I are diametrically opposed as to how we remember events.  It is absolutely maddening!  Who told whom what...and when...is getting to be a regular source of frustration.  I would think that it was just a communication problem, but even cut-and-dried memories of who did what come up often also.

This week he has vacation days scheduled that I could swear I knew nothing about.  He's going to the hunting lease with his brothers, which is completely fine with me, but I thought they were going next week on his regular days off.  He is equally sure that he told me.

Today we went to IKEA.  His first time, because I always go when he's out of town.  He said he would start assembling the shelves tomorrow.  I don't remember him ever putting IKEA furniture together.  He says he put "all" the shelves in the office/craft room together.  Ummm...I put those together!  I will admit that he helped me put them in place and anchor them to the wall, but put them together?  I really, really do not think so.  In fact, he's always offended that I don't trust him to do it right, and prefer to do it myself.  That's not exactly true...I don't trust him not to get totally frustrated with the pre-fabness of the product, which is why I go while he's out of town and try to get things assembled before he gets back.

These are just two recent instances.  It happens all the time.  It makes me wonder if anyone else has this issue in their relationships, and how they deal with it.  Anyone have a cure?
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Friday, March 18, 2016

Frugal Friday File, week 11...


Successes:
1.  Windows have been open all week = low electric bill

2.  Booked another day of work for next month

3.  Bought a couple of repair parts, and filled the gas tank, but that's it other than meal expenses.

4.  Put off haircut again.

5.  Cleaned with supplies on hand: 30+ year old cloth diapers, liquid soap, vinegar, and water.

Keep Tryings:
1.  Didn't take lunch to work.

2.  Bought an iced coffee.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  Texacalis from the freezer
Sunday:  grilled cheese sandwiches
Monday:  Beef Koftas with Yogurt Flatbread
Tuesday:  Chicken Noodle Casserole
Wednesday:  Leftover casserole
Thursday:  (not frugal takeout sandwiches)
Friday:  (dinner out with granddaughter)
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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day...

 Which means I'm thinking of my mother today, as it would have been her 100th birthday!
circa 1920
Date on photo is date taken, I assume.

circa 1923
I have no idea who the blonde child is, but it sure looks like my mother was enjoying herself.  I think they were climbing on a trellis.  Not many photographs of her with a big smile, but this one looks just like she always did when she laughed.

circa 1923
So studious in her glasses.  Doesn't she look like a kid you'd see in an Our Gang movie?

circa 1940
I know I've shared this one of her here before.  This was while she and my father lived in Washington DC right after they married.  So ahead of their time.  My father moved with her when she got a job with the government.

So Happy Birthday, Mom.  I'm wearing a shamrock for you.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What I'm reading Wednesday...

The Smell of Other People's Houses
by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

I finished this one last night.  I picked it up at the library solely based on the title.


The Widow's War by Sally Gunning

I'll be starting this one next.  I believe it shares characters from Bound by the same author, which I really liked.
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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

There's no such thing as extra...

When I put a new roll of toilet paper on the holder today, I realized our supply was very low.  Uncomfortably low.  Possibly the lowest it has been since I started keeping my own home.

Master bath
Two lonely little rolls on the tippy-top shelf corner.

One day my husband was carrying in groceries, and he started putting away some of the items.  He announced with exasperation, "You don't need to buy toilet paper for a long time, we have enough extra rolls."

Office bath
Zero rolls on the shelves!

His attitude points out just ONE of the differences between us.  I don't believe the term 'extra' pertains to staples that never spoil.  They are not extra, they are just...waiting.  You will ALWAYS need toilet paper.  It will NEVER go bad.  So I think it is not unreasonable to have it stored in any empty space available.

Guest bath
Zero rolls in the cupboard...

I think this comes from my mortification at being sent next door (repeatedly) to 'borrow' a roll of toilet paper from the sweetest neighbor in the world that we girls referred to as 'Old Faithful' as we could always count on her having, and generously sharing, whatever we were caught in need of.  My mother had a lot on her plate between work and home, and sometimes even the necessities weren't the first priority...which is why they became my first priority, I guess.


Guest bath
...and only two lonely rolls peeking between the bars!

My son-in-law says I have crappy toilet paper (pardon the pun), as he prefers only the most soft and cushy for his tushie.  (My septic system loves the one ply.)  I can picture a day coming where he and my daughter are cleaning out my house (after I have gone to my reward), and will be carting bags and bags of toilet paper to Goodwill.  :)

It's time to restock!
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Monday, March 14, 2016

A friend in need...

Joolz always has the yummiest looking things on her blog.  Yesterday she had Lamb Koftas and Yoghurt Flatbread from Julie Goodwin's book Homemade Takeaway that made my mouth water.  I commented on her post that I had to have one!  Bless her, Joolz emailed me the recipes.  :)  

I'm posting similar photos to the ones she posted, so she can see that I actually meant it that I needed them now...

...and that I had success!  The misshapen looking flatbread peeking out from the bottom of the stack was one that I ripped into to taste hot out of the pan.


 Oh, it was exactly what I hoped it would be!  Filling, but at the same time rather light with all the fresh veggies...a perfect transition into Spring.  A sort of Eastern Mediterranean Taco, if you will (we're all about the tacos in our part of Texas).

Now here's the funny thing:  I have a feeling mine ended up pretty differently from the book's recipe.  
1) I had to use beef instead of lamb.  
2) I unintentionally used Cumin instead of Coriander.  (Coriander is one of those things that I always confuse in my head.  I know it's also known by a different name, but I always think it's cumin when it's actually cilantro.)
3) I completely forgot to buy pine nuts, so they got left out.
4) I had no fresh mint for the yogurt dressing.
5) And lastly I forgot to serve with lemon wedges.

I was telling Jared this as he was stuffing his face enjoying his dinner, and he said I'd just have to make them again correctly for comparison research.  :)

I need to post the recipe as I made it so I won't forget it either, because it passed the make-it-again taste test.  

Thanks, Joolz!
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Friday, March 11, 2016

Frugal Friday File, week 10...


Successes:
1.  Carey's received annual bonus.  Fed the savings.

2.  Checked library web-catalog before buying Kindle special $1.99 book by an author I enjoy.  Library didn't have e-book, but I will pick up the hard copy I reserved, since I need to make a trip to the bank next door anyway.  Also reserved some DVDs I've been meaning to view.

3.  Last week's aching back is much better, but it was definitely time for a visit to chiropractor.  I waited till our CPA called to say taxes were ready to sign, so we could combine the 40-mile trip (their offices are next door to each other in the town we previously lived near).  And since we were going, Carey took some junk metal to the recycle center in same town...he only got $5 out of it, but it kept it out of a landfill, and didn't require a special trip.

4.  It has been raining all week.  Staying home out of the rain, and having no-spend days.

5.  While I was baking meatloaf and baked potatoes for one supper, I baked the rest of the bag of large baking potatoes at the same time.  After supper, I made all the extras into twice baked potatoes.  They are now individually wrapped and in the freezer for easy sides for future meals.  Frugal of time and money.

Keep Tryings:
1.  Buying butter from convenience store in a pinch = $$$


Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  (not frugal dinner out)
Sunday:  Sunday dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  Chicken Casserole
Tuesday:  leftovers
Wednesday:  Meatloaf, Baked Potatoes
Thursday:  Frito Pie
Friday:  Soup & Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

What I'm reading Wednesday...

While You Were Mine by Ann Howard Creel

The cover does not come close to hinting at the story.  I probably would have passed it by, except that I loved a previous book by the author.

This story is about a nurse in WWII New York.  She takes a roommate to help with expenses.  The roommate, newly married to a soldier fighting in Europe, is pregnant.  After giving birth, she becomes increasingly troubled, convinced that the lack of word from husband means that he has been killed in combat.  She takes less and less interest in baby, becomes more and more distant, until one evening the nurse comes home from work to find her packed and leaving...without the baby or a forwarding address.

Nurse cares for baby, waiting for mother or father to appear at any time to reclaim her, and becoming more attached to her every day.
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Monday, March 7, 2016

Seven random thoughts on the 7th...


1.  So tired of the political bull$*!+.  Zero good choices.

2.  I have been waiting for an ebay purchase for 2 weeks.  No problem with seller; my dissatisfaction is with the postal service.  According to tracking number it was mailed two weeks ago in Massachusetts, then traveled to New Jersey, then to Washington State, where it sat for several days.  Then to Dallas, then to San Antonio for a few days.  It now indicates that it is at my local post office, which supposedly attempted to deliver today, and supposedly left a notice that my "receptacle [was] full/item oversized."  There was no notice left in my receptacle or on either door.  In fact there was no mail at all left in my empty receptacle.  Granted the item I am awaiting is too large for said receptacle, but no more so than has been delivered many other times, when they drive right through the open gate, up the driveway, and ring my doorbell.  Irritation has set in, because I have to be gone tomorrow, and rain is predicted.  Do NOT want package to be rained on!

3.  CPA has finished our tax preparation.  Getting a refund.  Yippee!

4.  Got annual blood-work results back; good numbers.  Yippee!

5.  Today was quilting day at the library.  We were working on a quilt to donate to the library for a raffle fundraiser (in appreciation for the use of their facilities).  Fabrics are all from the Downton Abbey collection.  We got most of the top pieced today.  Borders will be added later, making it a nice large quilt.  The series finale aired here last night.  We are all fans, but we couldn't discuss it, because one of our group hadn't seen it yet.  I kept accidentally letting facts slip about finale events...all of them false.  I know...I'm a pill.

6.  My head is so congested tonight; I'm a mouth breather.  The humidity today was high.  Great.  My favorite part of warm weather.  Not.

7.  Still enjoying banana cake.  Mmmmmm.  :)
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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Just desserts...Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting...

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

The more my aversion for the grocery store grows, the more adventurous I get with my recipe substitutions.  

Today Carey came in to tell me that he was going to run some errands.  After he had been gone for awhile, I phoned him asking that he pick up some butter at the grocery store while he was out.  Unfortunately he had already been to the grocery store and was on his way home.  I had the nerve to ask him to go back.  He refused, but he did stop at a convenience store on the way home and paid an exorbitant price for some.  (I later found butter which I had stored in the freezer.  ugh)

So there was NO way I was going to do anything other than 'make do' when I found that I was also short of powdered sugar for my cake icing.  Really short.  Like about a cup and a half short of the three cups called for in the recipe.  

I considered putting regular sugar in my food processor and grinding it to powdered consistency.  I have done that in the past, and it worked somewhat, but it took forever and still had a slight crunch of granulated sugar.

Since I was already planning on leaving the cake in the pan and just frosting the top, I didn't have to worry about needing the frosting to be fluffy or hold peaks.

I made the frosting with what I had...tasted it...definitely needed more sugar.  So what the hell, I added about a quarter cup of corn syrup to it and whipped it some more.

It's tasted fine, and no one even noticed.
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Friday, March 4, 2016

Frugal Friday File, week 9...


Successes:
1.  Paying bills on time means no late fees.

2.  Cooking when you don't feel like it means not letting good food go bad.

3.  Working locally this week means being close enough to run home for a frugal PB&J for lunch.

4.  Reviewing wardrobe means realizing I can make it through spring and summer with no purchases.

5.  Political overload means hiding at home with tv, radio, and internet off, and escaping into books.

Keep Tryings:
1.  fabric (aaaaagggghhhhh!)

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  leftovers
Sunday:  cereal and milk
Monday:  Pork chops, baked sweet potatoes, cabbage
Tuesday:  leftovers
Wednesday:  (not frugal, burgers out)
Thursday:  Shrimp Gumbo
Friday:  homemade Broccoli Cheese Soup using up leftover broccoli
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Thursday, March 3, 2016

I concede...

 I've been late to the party of welcoming Spring.  Winter was so mild here this year, that I kept hoping that we would get just one more really cold snap.  It never really got cold enough to kill off pests, so it will probably be a banner insect year...as if we don't normally have more than enough.

But today I gave in.  I opened the windows.  I enjoyed the breezes that freshened the house and set the curtains dancing.

I fully expect to see a bluebonnet any day now.
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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

What I'm reading Wednesday...

My Secret Sister
by Helen Edwards and Jenny Lee Smith

This one came recommended by Linda at Stitch Lines.  I couldn't find it at the library, so I ordered a used copy from Amazon for 1¢ plus $3.99 shipping.  It's a true story about twins separated shortly after birth; one suffered abuse and neglect, and one adopted into a loving and supportive family.  When she decided to search for her birth family, she found a twin sister she never knew she had.

I finished my previous book (short critique here) this morning, so I will be starting My Secret Sister tonight.
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