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Archive for January, 2012

Welcome to another edition of Book Beginnings which is hosted over at A Few More Pages.  Today, I am going to give you the first couple of lines from the latest John Grisham book, “The Litigators”:

 

“The law firm of Finley & Figg referred to itself as a "boutique firm."  This misnomer was inserted as often as possible into routine conversations, and it even appeared in print in some of the various schemes hatched by the partners to solicit business.”

When I read these first two sentences, the thought popped in my mind that these attorneys were small time trying to make themselves appear upscale, and I was right.  I have read most of Mr. Grisham’s books and, while they probably not considered classic literature,  I enjoy them and they are always a fun read.

This one was a little different in that there really wasn’t a “bad guy” attorney like there usually is.  Just some small time lawyers trying to make a buck and the big wigs trying to defend a corporate client.  Pretty much normal fare for the legal world.

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Good morning, my wonderful readers!  Here it is…Monday again and time for this year’s Menu Plan Monday Week Two.  I hope you all had a great start to the new year, because mine has been really good so far.  C & I made it to church two Sundays in a row.  Woo hoo!  Now we just have to keep it up.  We also managed to move two pieces of furniture from my great-grandmother’s house to our on Saturday.

What furniture?  Well, as my regular readers know, I have been slowly finishing our upstairs in the last few months and I am now down to just needing a few pieces of furniture to fill in the rooms.  I mentioned to my Nanny and Aunt M that I was on the look-out for a couple of inexpensive wooden dressers and I didn’t care what shape they were in because I wanted to refinish them.  Unbeknownst to me, they started discussing some old family pieces that were being stored in what was my great-grandparents house.  Talk about serendipity!  I am now in possession of a three drawer dresser with the cutest scalloped top and shelves and also a chiffarobe with three drawers and a door that are just screaming for a little TLC. They both belonged to my great-great grandmother which makes them very special to me! I can’t wait to start on them, which I hope to do this coming long holiday weekend. 

Before I can get to the weekend, I have to decide what to fix this week.  Here goes:

Chili with Cheddar Bacon Ranch Pull Apart Bread (new)

Taco Ring with fruit (2 nights)

Grilled pork chops with oven baked fries

Basic meatloaf with oven baked fries

Pizza night

Dessert chosen by my father-in-law for his birthday.  Happy birthday, FIL!

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Do you wish that your kitchen could have that perfect cinnamon fragrance floating in the air?  You do?  Then make this cake right now!  I found this on Pinterest and this link to the blog Giving Up On Perfect will take you to the original recipe.  This writer may be giving up on perfect, but this cake is close to perfection to me.  The only teeny tiny thing I changed was that I made it as a sheet cake in two pans so I could take it to two different dinners.  Other than that, I left well enough alone because this cake doesn’t need any tweaking at all!

1 package yellow cake mix
1 cup milk + 3 tbsp. milk, divided
1/4 cup butter, melted + 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup applesauce
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cinnamon + 1 tsp. cinnamon
4 oz. cream cheese
3 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

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Preheat oven to 350. Prepare two 8” square baking pans. Mix the cake mix, 1 cup milk, melted 1/4 cup butter, applesauce, eggs, vanilla, and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon together and pour into the pans. Bake for 25 minutes (or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean). Let cool.

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After the cake is cool, beat the cream cheese with 1/2 cup room temperature butter until smooth.  Add the milk, powdered sugar, vanilla and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Beat until smooth again.  Pour the frosting on the cake and spread to cover.  Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour to let the frosting set. 

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Please join me over at Miz Helen’s Country Cottage where I linked up this recipe for Full Plate Thursday.

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It’s funny…when I started doing the Thoughtful Thursday posts a while ago, I was worried that when I sat down to write it nothing would come out.  It has never failed though that some idea or “thought” would cross my mind and I would write about it.  Sometimes it’s projects around our house or a trip somewhere that ends up here, but more often than not, this post is about MY thoughts.

Last Sunday morning, we attended church for the first time in a while.  Why, you ask?  Pure laziness, but that is changing right now.  C & I sat down with our kitchen calendar where I do my menu planning and wrote down the church’s name on every Sunday as a reminder that that is where we need to be that one morning per week.  The fact that we had slacked off majorly in our attendance had been eating at me for awhile.  I felt like that I wasn’t doing my part for God.  That I was asking Him to do things for me, sometimes little things but sometimes BIG things, and I couldn’t muster up enough time and energy to dedicate this time to worship He and Jesus.  Shame on me!!

Anyway, the subject of the sermon was “Taking Inventory” and it really made me think.  The pastor talked about how the new year is a great time to take inventory of our lives and see if we are where we want to be and also to take stock of the blessings in our lives that we sometimes look over or take for granted.  I have a wonderful life with a wonderful husband and family.  There are still things that I want to accomplish and, hopefully, I will, but by and large, my life is pretty darn good. 

There are a few things that I want to improve on this year.  Firstly is church attendance and tithing.  C & I got off to a good start and plan to continue with both. I always feel so much better after going so I don’t know why we slacked off so bad.  

Secondly, I want to improve my diet and exercise routine.  Overall it’s not too bad, but I eat way too many sweets so one of my goals is to cut back drastically on sweet stuff, especially the premade artificial junk food.  Starting this past Tuesday, when I went back to my regular work schedule, I stopped all soft drinks and candy bars.  Hard?  You betcha, but I know it will be best for me in the long run.  I will probably still make one or two desserts a month, but I am saving my “sugar” for those good homemade treats and not waste it on junk that’s not that tasty anyway.  Ellie makes sure I get plenty of walking in everyday, but I used to do yoga a few days a week and it made a huge difference in my flexibility and strength.  I hope to be able to do yoga or some kind of stretching exercises about three days a week.

Thirdly, I need to improve my attitude at work.  Sometimes when you work with the public day in and day out, it can really get under your skin and when you work in the court system, it can REALLY get under your skin when you see the same people over and over and over again.  I have a great job that has good hours and is close to home so I need to focus on the positive and not the negative.  I could be working night shift an hour or two away, but I don’t have to do that, thank the good Lord.

These are some of my goals for 2012.  I will update you all about them every once in a while to see if I am sticking with them.  I hope everyone has a blessed and prosperous new year!  Holler at me and let me know what your goals for this year are.  I would love to know!

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I’m BACK!  Did you miss me?  Well, I guess I wasn’t really gone exactly, just not posting my weekly menus, but I am back today with a vengeance.  Woo hoo!  C & I both took off from our jobs the week between Christmas and New Year’s and it was so needed for both of us.  C did do quite a bit of work from home, but the main thing was that he actually got to stay home.  A full week with no alarm clock blaring in the morning, just the sound of our four-legged, fuzzy alarm clock to “gently” wake us up.  Believe me, Ellie made sure that we weren’t too lazy in the mornings. 

Last Monday, I started cleaning house and I don’t think I actually finished until Saturday.  It was nice to be able to do a few jobs each day and not have to cram it all in to one or two days.  We had a wonderful Christmas with our families, but when that last dinner was over, I went to work.  The decorations came down and this house was scrubbed top to bottom.  Whew, I was tired but so satisfied with what I accomplished. 

Wow, this post is getting a little wordy, isn’t it?  Let’s save the rest of these thoughts for Thoughtful Thursday.  Here’s the food scoop for this week:

Grilled hamburgers and oven baked fries

Cheesy Steak Sandwiches with oven fries (Hopefully this will cover 2 nights.)

Pizza Pancakes with Dipping Sauce (new)

Baked Ziti with garlic bread (new)

Pizza night

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