Sharing and enjoying my small-town life with my darling husband, family, friends,
faith, two adorable Ragdoll cats and one very sassy Yorkie!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

30-Day Blog Challenge -- Starts Tomorrow!

"So what is a 30-day blog challenge?" you ask. Good question!

It's a strictly-for-fun "challenge" that I'm taking on to commit to making a post on my blog every day for 30 days.  These posts will provide specific information or answer certain questions. A quick Internet search will turn up lots of different "challenge" questions. I have chosen the following:

Day 01 — A favorite song
Day 02 — A favorite movie
Day 03 — A favorite TV show
Day 04 — A favorite book
Day 05 — A favorite quote
Day 06 — A fun fact about me
Day 07 — A favorite photo
Day 08 — Something I crave
Day 09 — Pet peeves
Day 10 — A photo of me taken over ten years ago
Day 11 — A photo of me taken recently
Day 12 — Something I bought recently
Day 13 — Something I want to buy
Day 14 — An old photo
Day 15 — My celebrity crush
Day 16 — A favorite food
Day 17 — A photo of my family
Day 18 — A baby photo
Day 19 — A fun memory
Day 20 — A hobby of mine
Day 21 — A favorite recipe
Day 22 — A favorite joke
Day 23 — A video
Day 24 — A travel story
Day 25 — A favorite photo
Day 26 — A funny (true) story
Day 27 — A child I love
Day 28 — A place I love
Day 29 — A person I love
Day 30 — Hopes, dreams and plans for the next 365 days

So, tomorrow is September 1st... a perfect time to start my "30-day Challenge".  By the end of the month, you will likely know me a LOT better... and hopefully we will have had some fun in the process!

Stay tuned, thanks for reading.... and enjoy!


(Question mark photo from here.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Simon's Cat

These videos make me LOL. They are just sooooooooo darn true to life!

Anyone who has ever known or loved a cat will certainly be able to relate. Be sure your sound is turned up, it adds to the fun!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Best. Blueberry. Muffins. EVER!

It's blueberry season here in PA, and oh, I am a'lovin' it! I love ALL berries, and my favorite way to enjoy them is as a snack -- fresh, right out of hand. Mmmmm, nature's candy!

But I also love to use berries in cobblers, crepes, pies, crisps, slumps, cakes, buckles, pancakes, smoothies... and muffins. *YUM*!

This season, I've been searching for a blueberry muffin that is just a little different than the "average" recipe. And I believe I have found it. Moist and flavorful, these muffins have a light sweet and tart lemon/sugar topping, and a delicious swirl of cooked blueberry. Named "The Best Blueberry Muffins" by Cook's Illustrated Magazine (May 2009 issue), I heartily agree. In fact, I'm calling them the Best. Blueberry. Muffins. EVER!

The recipe follows. Enjoy!


Lemon Sugar Topping:
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest from 1 lemon

2 cups (about 10 ounces) fresh (or frozen*) blueberries
1 1/8 cups plus 1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 c. vegetable (or canola) oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. For the topping:
Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined; set aside.

2. For the muffins:
Adust oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat oven to 425degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to 1/4 cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room remperature, 10-15 minutes.

3. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl.

Whisk remaining 1 1/8 c. sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds.

Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined.

Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining cup blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not overmix.)

4. Divide batter equally among 12 prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly).

Spoon a teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion.

Sprinkle lemon sugar evenly over muffins.

5. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17-19 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time.

Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

YIELD: 12 (delicious!) muffins

* To substitute frozen berries:
Cook 1 cup as directed in Step 2. Rinse remaining berries under cold water and dry well. In step 3, toss dried berries into flour mixture before adding egg mixture. Proceed with recipe as directed.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Memory Jar

It was an idea I'd had for a while... gathering some of my own "memories" and those from family members to put into a jar for my wonderful 87-year old mother. Reminiscing is always fun, and I thought this would be something that she would especially enjoy.

I sent out e-mails to my sisters and our kids, letting them know what I had planned, and asking them to please take a little time to think about special memories involving Mom ("Grandma" to the grandkids), jot them down and send them to me.

Once they all rolled in (and I had a few good belly laughs reading some of them!) I printed them out on different colors of paper, cut them apart, folded them and placed them inside a Mason jar. The project was a joy for me, and especially so as the memories started stacking up (I ended up with almost 150!) Each one was a heartfelt and unique testimony of family love, and I knew that within those memories, lay a very special gift for my mother.

I decorated the lid of the jar with pretty fabric, ribbon and beads... and presented it to my Mom yesterday. She received it (as she always receives gifts) -- with genuine delight and appreciation. We talked a little about what was in the jar, and she read one or two "memories" before I left... but honestly, I don't think she realized the significance yet of what was actually in the jar.

Well, a little later that evening I got a call from my mom, who tearfully told me how deeply she had been touched by the Memory Jar. She said she spent over an hour reading all the memories in the jar, and that it was one of the best hours of her life. She said she laughed... and she cried... and she remembered. Oh, how she remembered! She said it was a gift that she would forever cherish.

So thank you, my family, for helping to make this Memory Jar possible. But most of all, thank you, Mom, for being the wonderful, loving mother (and grandmother) that you have always, always been.

I love you, Mom, and I'm so glad you enjoyed your Memory jar. But believe me, the pleasure was all mine.