Sunday, September 29, 2013

It's National Coffee Day

It’s seems every day is National Something or The Other Day. However, today is a celebration I can truly say I honor, love, adore, and haven’t gone a day without in forever. IT’S NATIONAL COFFEE DAY! Oh, an entire day set aside to appreciate the little bean that wakes us up, gets us moving, and kicks our brain into gear. As a child watching the coffee bubble up to the clear top of my mother’s percolator I remember thinking, someday I’m going to like how that tastes. If I'd only known how much I would grow to love it. The smell has always made my mouth water. A local grocery store used to have a big red grinder on the coffee aisle and I’d go down the aisle just to get a nose hit. Who would have guessed that in the decades since that silver gurgling pot, we’d stand in line for a $4.00 cup of the same brew? Just like Bubba in Forrest Gump, I love coffee however it’s presented, hot brewed, Caffè breve, Americano, Café au lait, Iced coffees, Frappé, Cappuccino, Instant, French pressed, lattes, espresso shots, Macchiato, flavored coffees, coffee pods, and of course, chocolate covered coffee beans. What is missing from my list? That would be decaffeinated coffee because I don’t consider it coffee but a waste of time. I am one of “those” people that grind their coffee beans at home. It tastes better and the smell is just this side of Heaven. I wanted to put some great coffee drinker quotes in my post but there are so many great ones. Here are some of my favorites. "Behind every successful woman is a substantial amount of coffee." "Drink coffee, do stupid things faster with more energy." "My blood type is coffee." "Sometimes I write drink coffee on my To Do list just so I'm sure to accomplish something!" "You can't buy happiness but you can buy coffee and that's kind of the same thing." There are hundreds more but you get the idea, people love their java! A few years ago, I ran across a paper my daughter wrote in first grade. The subject was, “My Favorite Place.” She wrote that her favorite place was home and the smells she smelled were coffee. Twenty plus years later when she walks in the house it still smells the same. In honor of this life-giving elixir grab a cup of your favorite brew and enjoy a Happy National Coffee Day!

Crumb Coffee Cake
Ingredients List
2 cups - sifted all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons - baking powder
3/4 cup – Sugar
3/4 teaspoon – salt
2 – eggs
1/2 cup - vegetable oil
1/2 cup – milk
Crumb Topping:
3 tablespoons - all-purpose flour
1/2 cup - chopped nuts (optional)
1 teaspoon – cinnamon
2 tablespoons - butter or margarine, softened
Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease 9-inch square cake pan. Prepare Crumb Topping: In a medium mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, nuts and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender or fingers, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside. Prepare Cake: In large mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Make a well in the center; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, combine eggs, oil, and milk. Add egg mixture all at once to dry mixture. Stir just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with crumb topping. Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

When Did The Golden Rule Become So Tarnished?

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I’m sure at some point you were taught or at least heard of The Golden Rule. I realize it’s a Bible verse but the sentiment should have little to do with religion. It should have everything to do with treating people a little kinder. It’s thinking about what you say before you speak or before you hit the “enter” button. Maybe “Empathy Rocks,” “Embrace Empathy” or “Get High on Empathy” would be more socially acceptable. What has me on a soapbox? It started running through my mind when another young person gave up on living after being taunted online with “You should kill yourself” and “Why don’t you just die?” Come on, seriously? What is going on in the mind of someone writing such horrible things? How do those kids feel now that the tween took their advice and ended her life? Maybe if they had just stopped to think how they’d feel if such posts were directed at them, they wouldn’t have pressed, “enter.” Then yesterday, I was in the grocery store parking lot and witnessed an older man honking, cussing, and making obscene gestures towards a woman in another car. She wasn’t talking on a cellphone nor did she cut him off, she simply pulled out before him. This man was livid. Either he spent the rest of his afternoon trying to calm down or letting his temper escalate. Why? What good did his anger or cussing do either of them? Maybe she just didn’t see him. When did getting mad and being mean to people become so acceptable? Do we blame television? No, we've been doing that since the 1950’s. Should we point the finger at video games, music, books, drugs, or alcohol? It’s possible drugs and alcohol are a contributing factor but not the entire reason. Let’s blame the real culprit, apathy. We seem to have quit caring about others’ feelings. What has happened to self-control? I’ve heard people scream at teachers, waiters, cashiers, other drivers, bike riders, and sometimes anyone in their path. Just because someone works with the public doesn’t make them fair game for bullying. Even more disturbing is hearing adults rage and belittle their children or spouses. I've seen things written about others that are brutal to say the least. Do people ever think how they’d feel if it were them on the receiving end of these tirades? The old saying of “sticks and stone may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is a bunch a malarkey. Remember, everyone is fighting his or her own personal battle. You don't have to go to war with them. Sure, there are some really evil people in the world but I have to believe that the majority are good-hearted. If we all try a little harder to see things from another’s perspective, the world will be a much nicer place. Take the time to listen to your words before they leave your mouth in anger. Read your words before you send them into the cyber world. Let’s get the Golden Rule back out and polish it up until it glistens from sea to shining sea.

Recipes You’ll Wish You Didn’t Know
Gotta Love Butter Cookies
1 box Duncan Hines butter recipe cake mix
1 stick butter
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 (8 oz.) pkg cream cheese @ room temperature
1 egg
Combine all ingredients with electric mixer until well blended. Chill dough for two hours. Roll into balls (about walnut size). Roll balls in powdered sugar. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet in 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar when completely cooled.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Five Great Reads for Romance Junkies

I’ll admit to being a romance-reading junkie. There are very few happily-ever-after books I can honestly say I don’t enjoy reading. The biggest problem I have is the fact that when I get on a reading jag, I will read a book in one day. This could be a very expensive addiction but fortunately, I have found some great authors who offer their work free through Amazon’s KDP program. I know there are authors who think it will lead to the demise of Indie authors’ survival but I disagree. I am a member of the program and frankly, I’m glad to gain the extra readers and exposure. Of course, that debate will rage on and I’m not going to try to convince anyone either way. As a reader, I appreciate the opportunity to discover books I would probably never have bought because the author was new or unfamiliar to me. Besides, who can seriously afford to buy a new book every day? Not this gal! Most but not all of the titles I am going to list today were downloaded from the Amazon Top 100 Free Books. If you take a few minutes each day and peruse the lists of your favorite genre, it’s possible to find some true gems. All of these books mentioned below are worth their list price to add to your library or if available, to borrow through Prime. You may even catch them on a KDP free day! I’ll put them in alphabetical order since it’s impossible to pick a favorite for me.
Off Limits by Sawyer Bennett
I loved this book and read it quickly because I simply could not put it down. It did a number on my heart. I felt Emily and Nix's pain, joy, regret, and love. I was totally invested in their outcome. Off Limits was an emotional roller coaster and I truly enjoyed the ride! Sawyer Bennett did a fantastic job of storytelling and I will be looking for more of her works. I will remember this one for a long time.
A Soft Place to Fall by Barbara Bretton
I found A Soft Place to Fall a delightful read. Barbara Bretton did a wonderful job in creating very believable characters. It was easy to relate to everyone in the small town of Shelter Rock Cove. The way she described Sam and Annie's feelings towards each other brought me into the story as if I were a fly on the wall. The storyline was great. It was a very hard book to put down and I found myself with a sappy grin quite often. I'm also a sucker for a great dog added into the mix. I will be looking for other books in this series. If you enjoy a sweet love story with secrets kept and revealed, you will love this book!
Significance by Shelly Crane
Let me start by saying I don't usually read paranormal books. I'm one of the few romance readers that hasn't read the Twilight series. (Yeah, I know) I admit to being more of a cheesy romance reader even though it is not what genre I write. The Amazon reviews of Significance were so intriguing that I took the plunge. It was very enjoyable and I was sucked into the plot right away. It is one I have no qualms about giving a 5 star review. The only problem now is I want to know what happens to Maggie and Caleb so I'm actually going to buy the second book in the series!!
Saving Justice by Tasman Gibb ebook/dp/B00D0HWI2S/
I really enjoyed Saving Justice from the very first page. It has a bit of everything I love...dogs, romance, action and mystery. It is one of those books where I tell myself I'll read one more chapter before I stop. Of course, in reality that means I will read as many as possible before I can bear to turn off my Kindle. There are some tough scenes in this book but they are necessary to explain the characters’ quirks. I hope there are more books coming in this series!
The Wreck by Marie Force
This was my first Marie Force book and I loved it! Actually, I found myself turning my Kindle light on so I could finish it before I even attempted to go to sleep. The Wreck is one of those books where you simply MUST know what happens as soon as possible. Of course, then you wish that you could stretch it out a little longer because you really don't want it to end! I don't want to give anything away but this book had me laughing, crying and on the edge of my seat with curiosity and hope for a "happily ever after.”
Promise Cove By Vickie McKeehan
Jordan Phillips is trying to fulfill her husband’s dream of opening a Bed and Breakfast in his hometown of Pelican Pointe. Following his death in Iraq, she struggles against snobbish townspeople, a dilapidated house, and a looming deadline to open her business. When a stranger with secrets of his own shows up and offers her help, she doesn’t know if it’s a blessing or not. This story will make you laugh, hope, cry, and cheer. Most of all it will make you beg for more. I highly recommend the Pelican Pointe series.
These are just five of the hundreds of books I have enjoyed over the past few years and I will be sharing more with you each week. I know everyone’s taste is different and I urge you to read the book’s blurb to see if they sound like books you’d enjoy. They were certainly ones that had me captivated.

Recipes You’ll Wish You Didn’t Know **Warning: Highly Addictive
Cajun Crackers
1 box Premium Crackers
1 ¼ cup Canola Oil
1 pkg. Ranch Dressing (Dry Mix)
2 Tblsp. Red Pepper Flakes
1 ½ tsp. Tony Chacere’s or Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
2 tsp. Paprika
1 (2gallon) Ziploc Bag
Mix all dry ingredients together. Add crackers then oil. Tumble and shake gently for 15 minutes. They are ready to enjoy but they taste better IF you can wait until the next day! I tumble the crackers a few more times throughout the day.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Television Dramas' Drama

   Ok, here's the deal...nobody tell me how "Breaking Bad" ended for let’s say, the next four months. The problem is I never watched the first episode. It was one of many shows I wanted to follow. Television dramas are such a major life commitment and I’ve been burned so many times before. I faithfully tuned into “Lost” every week for six long years only to find out they were all dead the whole time. What?!? I enjoyed the run but dang, they were all dead? I’m sure I watched some of them die on the show, have babies, and fall in love. I felt the same as viewers who were in a long-term relationship with the “Sopranos” must have felt. Just kind of empty.  “Grey’s Anatomy” also sucked me in for a few a while until it became so depressing I couldn’t shoulder their pain any longer. My brother bought me the collection of “Six Feet Under” for Christmas a few years ago. I watched the entire five seasons over Christmas break. It was wonderful, addictive, and I didn’t have to wait months to find out what would happen next. The producers of that show knew how to end a series with class and style, leaving the viewers content and fulfilled. That is when I decided it was the only way to enjoy long running series. I plan to get “Breaking Bad” on DVD so I can watch the entire five seasons in one marathon viewing. I just have to avoid all media, tweets, and conversations on the subject until then. “Dexter” is another show I am anxious watch and will have to catch up on its previous years. Since I have declared my abstinence from these life-consuming shows, I must reluctantly admit to accidentally watching the first episode of “Nashville” last year. That’s right, now I’m addicted, and the new season premiere is waiting patiently on my DVR at this moment. I really thought I could quit and walk away. It is like crack television, one hour, and I’m begging for more. There are shows I watch but if I miss an episode, it doesn’t throw the storyline into chaos. I’m a huge fan of “The Middle,” “Modern Family,” “Ellen,” “Duck Dynasty,” and “DWTS.” I love to laugh and each of these tickle my funny bone. I discovered another show that has been around forever but I’d never watched. “CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood” is remarkably entertaining. I’d always thought it was one of those boring Sunday morning news programs. It is anything but boring. If you’ve never watched it, I highly recommend tuning in or DVRing it this Sunday. It is time well spent with great interviews from interesting celebrities, fun tidbits of information, and always ends with a peaceful scene from nature. Well, that’s it for today. Since I can’t talk to anyone that watched last night’s series finale, this was the best I could do for television talk today. Have a great week!

*Recipes You'll Wish You Didn't Know*
Santa Fe Soup
2 (15 oz. cans) Pinto beans
2 (15 oz. cans) Whole Kernel Corn
1 Pkg. Taco Seasoning
! Lb. Ground Beef
1 Can Ro-Tel
1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
½ lb. Velveeta Cheese
Brown and drain meat. Dice Velveeta. Mix all ingredients (Do not drain beans or corn) together in a large pot. Add meat and stir. Cook over low heat until Velveeta melts. Serve over crushed tortilla chips.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Modern Technology

   In my first blog, I mentioned the need for more knowledge of the computer. What I really believe is the geniuses who write the instructions for computer programs need to speak plain old English. I don’t use the name geniuses facetiously; I know they have superior intelligence. It’s just not necessary they rub it in my face every time I try to install a program on my laptop. They all start out so nice and friendly. “Hi, welcome to our site. Let me walk you through the installation and in just minutes you’ll be exploring your new download.” I feel so confident, this person is going to take me step-by-step, and it’s going to be a breeze. All of my initial fear subsides as I click on the “get started” icon. Once he has suckered me in to the point of no return, suddenly I’m dealing with Hermes, the god of knowledge and invention. “You’ll need to reconfigure your encrypted code in…” Huh?    My eyes glaze over and my stomach knots up because I have absolutely no idea what to do now. I immediately call one of my kids who were raised in the age of computers. This is the usual response, “Mom, you know to wait until one of us can be there before you try to download anything.” My mother’s intuition tells me they are rolling their eyes but I know it’s well deserved so I don’t call them on it. “Just close the program and wait for us to come over to show you how to do the installation.” I sigh, turn off the computer hoping I haven’t killed it, and wait for them to rescue me…again. When one shows up to help, they take my laptop, with me trying to follow their actions, install, and are cruising through the program in minutes. I couldn’t tell you the first key they hit and they are already through. I certainly don’t begrudge the younger generation for their tech savvy. In fact, I admire them. All I’m asking is, why can’t someone make a site user friendly for those of us whose first calculator was an abacus?

Recipes You'll Wish You Didn't Know Peanut Butter Butterfinger Pie Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Yield: 9 inch pie 
A no bake peanut butter cheesecake topped with Butterfinger bars in a baked Pillsbury pie crust Ingredients
1 refrigerated Pillsbury pie crust
1 package cream cheese, softened (8 oz.)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup peanut butter
2 1/2 cups Cool Whip, divided 1 1/2 crushed Butterfinger bars
Instructions 1.Remove the pie crust from the refrigerator and let sit for 15 minutes on the counter. Gently unroll the pie crust and place in a 9 inch pie plate. Press firmly into the bottom. Crimp the edges. Use a fork to prick the bottom of the crust very well. Bake at 450* for 10 minutes. Cool completely.
2.In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese. Add the sweetened condensed milk and sour cream and beat until creamy. Remove 2 cups of batter and set aside. Add the peanut butter and beat again. Spoon into the bottom of the cool pie crust.
3.Fold 2 cups of Cool Whip into the saved cream cheese mixture. Spoon on top of the peanut butter layer. Refrigerate at least 2 hours to set.
4.Cover the top of the pie with the crushed Butterfinger bars.
Decorate the edges of the pie with the remaining Cool Whip. Makes 1 - 9 inch pie. Keep refrigerated or freeze for firmer pie.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Welcome to my blog

Hi and welcome to my first blog, I hope you enjoy reading it and tell your friends to stop by. The best way to get started is to tell you a little about myself then what I hope to incorporate into this blog. Here are the basics, without revealing my age; I’ve been married to my husband for over 31 years. The first time we met, I was only 4 years old but it was quite a few years after that before we were married! Now you know I’m not 35 years old! I have had several jobs in the past including being a Directory Assistant operator. This was pre-computer age so we used giant phone books to look up numbers. Ok, so I’m not even close to 35 years old! I can still look up a phone number with amazing speed. I know with everyone having a phone that can do it in seconds, it’s a pretty useless talent but whenever your phone dies, I can come in handy. When our daughter was born, I became a stay-at-home mom. Our son was born three years later. After they were both in school, I spent so much time doing P.T.A. activities (I claim being the first female President Clinton, just in case) along with room mother things; the principal offered me a job. He said since I was there all the time, I’d might as well be getting paid. There wasn’t much that didn’t make sense with his logic so I became a child specific aide. In other words, I helped a child with cerebral palsy adjust in a classroom setting. It was a very rewarding experience. I also coached cheerleaders from the time my daughter was in kindergarten until four years after she graduated high school. I transferred to the high school level when she was a freshman and worked again with special students before transferring to office work and finally to the school library as a clerk. I resigned from the job a couple of years ago to pursue a new career in writing. I published my first book, The Returns, through Amazon last November. I have been shamelessly self-promoting myself since then. This brings me to today and the creation of a blogging website. The saying “What a difference a year makes,” has never been more true than the last year of my life. In the past year, I’ve had both of my children get married, my husband retired, my first book published and now I have my own website. It has been quite a wonderful year. I am thrilled with the marriages, I love having my husband at home, and I am really proud of my book. Having said all of that, I have also learned more these past twelve months than I had ever thought possible. I know now I should have become more proficient with the computer, done more investigating into the world of Indie authors and self-publishing before jumping in over my head, and I definitely should have paid more attention in high school English classes. At this point, I’m hoping not to regret never grasping algebra. It could cause my head to explode! My hope is you will become a regular visitor here so we can share a smile and a few laughs. The plans are to feature interesting stories, interviews with a variety of people, some recipes you’ll love to try, along with some animal stories. I will be reviewing some of my favorite books but don’t expect to read any bad reviews here. If I don’t enjoy a book, I simply won’t review it. Everyone’s taste in reading is different and while I may not care for some books, you might enjoy them. I wouldn’t want to be the reason you miss falling in love with a book. I will leave those reviews to others who are no doubt better qualified than I am. That’s about it for my first official blog experience. I hope you enjoyed it and come back soon. Until then, laugh, love and enjoy life! M. K. Clinton