Apr 28, 2008

Here ye, here ye....

...announcing the latest in the saga of near impossible accomplishments...taking (and passing!) 2 tests at the 'ripe' old age of 51......I did it, they are officially over - the Series 7 (with a score of 77!) and the Series 63 (with a score of 81!). That makes me, again, officially (after the State imposed 30 day waiting period, of course) a 'Registered' Sales Assistant! YEE-HAA! I am happy and even more relieved that test taking is finally over. If I NEVER have to take another test that requires studying multiple hours each day, it'll be too soon. Thank you to all of you who sent well wishes and prayers my way and thank you Dad & God for watching over me from Heaven! Only 1 more task to complete - a trip to our home office in Memphis, TN for some one-on-one training and a tour of the MK offices.

Apr 26, 2008

Latte & Pink Daisy Cake

This weekend Ashley and I were able to redeem ourselves a little after the disastrous 'Tiffany Box' cake we attempted a few weeks ago. Because we are determined to improve upon our cake decorating skills, we decided we'd make another practice cake using fondant. And because we'd learned so much from the last one, we went after this one a little differently, in several aspects, and as a result, this one came out so much better. I was delighted to present it as a gift to the neighbors since the whole family is great (even the little boys rush to help me unload the truck when they see me come in with groceries and such). And they all gave a huge gasp and lots of smiles when I showed up with this one and once again, I totally ruled as the 'Cake Lady' next door!

Apr 20, 2008

Another cake, another grandbaby....

...and another weekend over way too soon! I didn't help with this particular cake because Ashley had my #1 grandchild, Alexis there to help. She didn't but it wasn't her fault. Ashley had taken Alexis to the orthodontist on Friday to get some dental/braces work done, and bless her heart, she was in such pain, she wasn't able to help. Ashley did well despite that though. She even experimented with more new recipes that came out very well. This cake (design, flavor and icing) was made by special request for #3 grandchild, Damion Jr. He wanted a yellow cake w/chocolate frosting and wanted it to be in the same exact style as his big brother's cake that we'd made in February.

We delivered it on Saturday and he was delighted. The cake itself must have been quite good because it was all but gone before we left.

While there, Ashley and I were able to play with the newest grandbaby. At 2 months old, he's grown a lot and has really huge beautiful eyes - not that you can see them in this picture because Ashley had just gotten through rocking the little guy to sleep.

Apr 12, 2008

A Special Invitation

Check out the comment on my 'It was fun and a good learning experience' post:

Greg Lane wrote, 'I am a New York Times bestselling author working on a new book about mother-daughter relationships and thought you might want to contribute. Please visit my page for details about submitting stories for Mom's Little Angel. Gregory E. Lang, Author of “Daddy’s Little Girl,” “Why a Daughter Needs a Dad,” “Why a Daughter Needs a Mom” and more.'

After pondering on it for a couple of days, I responded and who knows, maybe one of these days you'll be able to read about an 'inspirational story' featuring my daughter(s) and myself in a 'real' book rather than here on this crazy blog ;-)

See http://www.gregoryelang.com/ for details about him and his books.

Keno Night

This past Wednesday nite was Keno nite with the ladies and as always, we had a blast. What a great group of women to have as friends. We all get along so well and really enjoy our monthly get-togethers. This isn't the entire group, but it is the group that played this month. It was my turn to host (which for me means bring the food). It's a small group and we try to take turns having it at a different a member's house each month, but since I live so far away from the remainder of the group, it falls on one of the other girls to let me host it at their house. Lisa is always a very gracious hostess and I'm so grateful that she allows me to host at her house.
This time I made a chicken enchilada casserole, a layered salad and a banana cream pie. All recipes were healthy and low-calorie. I figure if I go for making the 'healthy' stuff, we don't have to feel so bad about eating so much and these days everybody seems to feel pretty much the same way. The food must have been a hit because I didn't bring any leftover home and recipes were requested. See recipes below (and notice I used Pampered Chef cookware in honor of my personal consultant and daughter, Ashley).

Chicken Enchilada Casserole
3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast
18 corn tortillas, medium
3 cups enchilada sauce
5 cups colby & monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 cup onions, diced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil the chicken in water until done. Drain & chop into small pieces. Chop onion. Spray a 13x9" pan with cooking spray.Dip tortillas in the enchilada sauce one at a time, making sure they are completely covered with sauce. Layer covered tortillas in the bottom of the pan, it should take six. Add a layer of chicken, onion & cheese. You don't want the tortillas to be completely covered with any one of the ingredients but you should put about half of the chicken & onion & about 1/3 of the cheese. Add a another layer of the tortillas dipped in sauce. Press down gently all over the pan. Add the remaining chicken, onion and cheese mixture. Add remaining layer of tortillas dipped in sauce & press down gently again all over the pan. Add the remaining cheese on the top. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until cheese is bubbly, starting to brown and the casserole is hot all the way through. # of Servings: 16. Note: recipe can be easily cut in half and lean hamburger or ground turkey can be substituted. Recipe courtesy of www.sparkpeople.com
Classic Layered Salad
Makes:8 servings, 1 cup each
8 cups chopped iceberg lettuce
Cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen peas, thawed
1 pkg. (6 oz.) OSCAR MAYER Smoked Ham, chopped
3/4 cup KRAFT Mayo Real (Lite) Mayonnaise
1/4 cup KRAFT 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup KRAFT Shredded 2% Cheddar Cheese
LAYER lettuce, onions, peas and ham in large straight-sided clear glass serving bowl.
MIX mayo, Parmesan cheese & sugar. Spread over salad to seal; cover. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.
TOP with cheese crumbles and tomatoes just before serving; toss gently.
Note: The variations are endless.
Recipe courtesy of www.Kraftfoods.com
Banana Cream Pie w/Caramel Drizzle
1 banana, sliced
1 reduced-fat graham cracker pie crust
2 cups fat-free milk (or 2%)
2 pkg JELL-O Banana Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
2 cups thawed COOL WHIP Free Topping, divided
1/4 cup fat-free SMUCKERS Caramel Ice Cream topping
Arrange banana slices on bottom of crust. Pour milk into large bowl. Add dry pudding mixes. Beat w/wire whisk 2 min or until well blended. Gently stir in 1 cup whipped topping. Pour into pie crust. Refrigerate 4 hours or until set. Top w/remaining whipped topping and drizzle with caramel topping before serving. # of Servings = 8. Recipe courtesy of http://www.kraftfoods.com/

Winnie the Pooh Baby Shower Cake

Ashley and I created another really awesome cake. This one was for a baby shower, the first request we've had for one of these. We were hired by the new grandmom-to-be and I think she was very pleased when we delivered it today. The cake was a two-tiered, hexagon shaped cake using the classic Pooh colors in the icing. The bottom tier was white cake and the top was chocolate, as requested by her and was covered in buttercream icing with a strawberry glaze filling in both tiers. It was a fun one to make and involved a couple more 'firsts' for us.

Apr 5, 2008

Another new restaurant experience

Russell and I checked out another new restaurant tonight called Momo's (http://momosrestaurant.com/). We both love Italian and when I saw that it was listed as the #2 Italian Restaurant on Yahoo's 'Top 10 Italian Restaurants in the country' list, we decided we'd check it out. Every once in a while, they feature a restaurant within driving distance from us and so when they do, we try to make it a point to check them out, especially when it's cuisine we're fond of. We mapped out the address that was listed (8300 Preston Avenue), drove the 45 min-1 hr to get there only to discover that the Preston Ave location no longer existed. Guess we should have called to check it out rather than relying on website information, especially given that we both do so much Internet research! Fortunately we'd brought along our very reliable and dependable Garmin toy, the Nuvi 650, and it located the 'replacement' location on Forest Ave, a mere 4.5 miles away. Lesson learned....check out the address before leaving, because if we'd driven all the way over there only to find out it'd been closed permanently...well, lets just say that would have really been depressing. However, it wasn't and the day/dinner was saved, as they say. The website did accurately describe the cuisine as 'authentic' Italian, which was different than the type of 'Italian' cuisine usually found. It was quite tasty and not really a disappointment, but next time I think I'll take them up on the BYOB thing and order a little more differently - not that what I ordered wasn't tasty, it just wasn't exactly what I'd expected. Russell on the other hand, ordered something that I couldn't even begin to pronounce (thank goodness for the American descriptions underneath the Italian dish names) that was quite tasty and came with a delicious side of spinach gnocchi. All in all, it was a fun evening because the food was good and the drive there and back took us thru territory that we'd not been to in many years and gave us the chance to do a lot of sightseeing and reminiscing.

It was fun and a good learning experience

Ashley and I decided to make a 'practice' cake last weekend with the idea that we'd try something we'd never tried before, have a fun learning experience, get some practice in and give the neighbors a sweet treat. Our plan was to make a 2-tier Tiffany gift box cake. Unfortunately, it didn't come out as perfectly as we'd hoped, but as anticipated, we did learn A LOT and the children next door loved it so much that they offered to wash my truck in return! Pretty good deal I'd say! We started out by making 2 3-layer cakes (6" & 8") and covering them w/fondant. Our trouble began with the fact that I used a different cake recipe than usual that was much too moist which made the cakes difficult to handle and even more difficult to ice. Our trouble continued when proceeded to roll our fondant too thin because we were afraid we wouldn't have enough and even though we've made bows before, this particular one didn't come out well at all and basically fell all apart when we tried to attach it to the top of the cake (hence the Christmas bow stuck on the top for the benefit of the little ones next door and picture taking, of course). All said, it was a good learning experience, the children next door think I'm the greatest neighbor they've ever had and the mother/daughter time together was, as always, fun.