Monday, August 31, 2009

Instead of Make It Yourself Monday

We'd like to introduce you to the newest measure of the family:

Meet Oliver! He's 4 months old and was left in a box outside the vet's office. He needed a loving home and we needed another cat!

A match made in heaven. He's spending a lot of time hiding under the brown chair.

Sam fell asleep while he waited for Oliver to come out.

Oliver finally came out (when Superman had me tip the brown chair on its front so he could nab him).

Then he went to hide under the couch in the next room. Sigh...

Maybe tomorrow will be a better day!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tough Life

Sam I Am misses his kitty friends, but, as you can see, he's just rolling with it all.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Photo Flashback

Okay, it is Friday Photo Flashback and I'm away on our last camping trip of the season, enjoying some unseasonable hot weather as I kick back at the river. That doesn't mean I'm not going to jump in and join the fun, however. When you're done walking down Memory Lane with me, head on over to Alicia's at More Than Words and see what everyone else dug up. (Sorry I can't put in a link, but I did this post ahead of time... will get you to More Than Words and I'm certain you can get to the Friday Photo Flashback posts from there!)

As for me, I bent the rules a bit and came up with a digital photo. This is from five years ago and I just couldn't believe how much my children have changed in the past five years. I went from having a little girl and two boys-who-were-still-kids to having a young adult, a teenager, and one who lets me know she's not little any more. Sigh...I miss those days...sometimes I think I blinked and missed a few years. When did this all happen?

Anyway, this picture was taken at Magic Mountain in Valencia, California. The kids had never been and Charming headed off with some bigger kids to do "real roller coasters" while Buttercup and Valiant were in the kiddie section with me. This shot was taken where we met up for a little bit. Can you tell they'd just been on a water ride?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

So, you think you have OCD?

I can' eat M & Ms unless I make a pattern out of them first. This is what I did when we were playing Five Crowns.

Not enough? Look at the truth of the picture. I made two patterns because I couldn't deal with leftovers!

Seriously...some kind of order must happen before I can eat them. How weird is that?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Work In Progress Wednesday

It is Work In Progress Wednesday, that not-quite-regular time where I share the things we've been working on in the Nagle household.

This week, I want to share with you the progress we made on Buttercup's under-deck club house. The swing is painted and back up and the cushion was covered before we headed off for our camping trip.

I still need to find my old white curtains to make it more cozy, as well as making a cushion for the other chair (which you can't see), but I think it is heading in the right direction. What do you think? Not bad for some scrap wood, oops paint and a clearance rack shower curtain!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why, Yes, That is a Hamster in My Trailer

or "Why the Nagles Camp With a Hamster"

At the beginning of the summer, on the eve of our first camping trip of the season, I mentioned to you all that we camp with our hamster, Biscuit. Yes, you read that correctly, we take our hamster camping with us every single time. Many of you inquired, when you were done laughing, why on earth we'd take our hamster camping and I promised I'd tell you the story. I've decided that this, our last camping trip of the season, is the perfect time to tell you why we camp with our hamster(s).

Two and a half years ago, we took the children to an indoor waterpark for a little winter vacation. We were going to be gone two nights and barely three days. Buttercup begged and begged, "Oh, please Mommy, can't we bring Nibbles and Winnie with us?" "No, Buttercup, they'll be fine while we're gone." "But, Mommy, what about the cats?" she wailed. I responded with a mini-lecture on how the cats have never bothered the hamsters and there was no reason for that to change during this trip. [You can see where this is going, can't you?] So, we headed off for our mini-vacation and left Nibbles and Winnie behind.

After a fun trip, we headed back home. Buttercup ran upstairs to her room, eager to see Nibbles. Instead of Nibbles, however, she saw a massacre of hamster bedding and hamster cage parts all over her room! It was horrible. Apparently, Jane, our shelter adoptee, didn't know the rules about leaving the hamsters alone, even when the people were gone. Fortunately, there were no blood spatters or hamster parts anywhere. We quickly searched for the missing hamster, wanting to be certain that the adults were the one to find it (assuming, of course, that it was deceased). We couldn't find it anywhere. She was inconsolable.

Now, what you might not know about me is that I am seriously in tune to the noises my home makes and, for whatever reason, I've managed to find every single hamster that has ever "escaped" its cage. Without a body, I was beginning to suspect that Nibbles had outwitted that bad Jane. I sent everyone out of the house and let the house settle down. Then I listened and listened some more. Finally, my listening led me to the back corner of MY closet, where that wily Nibbles had stashed so much food she would have been fine for weeks. Apparently, she'd been heading back and forth between our room and Buttercup's room the entire time we were gone, dodging cats the entire time. Needless to say, Buttercup was thrilled we found Nibbles intact and went on to live a long hamster life.

Unfortunately, my credibility was shot. The next time we headed out of town and I tried to say, "they'll be fine", she looked and me and told me that I'd said that the last time and look what happened. Nibbles wasn't fine. Even though we were tent camping, we had two hamster cages! "You can't leave Winnie behind! She'll be sad."

Now that we're down to one hamster, Biscuit comes with us. Buttercup is happy, Biscuit is happy, and Superman and I think it is just funny.

We leave the birds at home, though.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Make It Yourself Monday

Sorry for the late post today, but I'm getting us ready for our last camping trip of the season. (In fact, we're pulling out in about 15 minutes, so this one needs to be quick!) Also, don't forget to head over to Momstheword to see what she and everyone else is doing for Making Your Home Sing Monday. Even though I'm not participating, I love to be inspired by the ideas to make our homes better. Nan's post this week is about making your actions and stated priorities line up. (Oh, she says it is about time management, but really, to me her post is about consistency with our true priorities.)

Ready for another Make It Yourself Monday gift idea? This one is an idea I used for the first time last year and this year I'm going to do it again. Just remember to think of your recipient. As Sewducky pointed out, not everyone wants things for their unless you know the person well and know their taste, be cautious in giving gifts for the home. Of course, that isn't stopping me from sharing my gift idea and letting anyone who receives gifts from me know this might very well be part of my gift to you this year!

Last year I made these cool little bar towels (found on the clearance racks!) with seasonal fabric. I liked the idea that they helped add festivity but the recipient could use them, wash them, and put them away until the next year. I like holiday decor, but I like to put it all away, too!

They are super easy, you just cut out a piece of fabric in a band a bit wider than you need and longer than the towel is wide, iron in a fold on each edge, and use your zig zag stitch to sew them on the towels. These towels had weird white striped bands that I covered and the odd colors went beautifully with the holiday fabrics I had.

So, this year I'll be making more of these little bar towels if I can find inexpensive towels to embellish, but I'm also going to make matching oven mitts and hot pads! Confession: I made oven mitts last year, but they ended up being so small, I gave them away to the neighborhood children. Now I know you can use a tutorial or trace an oven mitt you like and add 2+ inches to the tracing! The layers of batting and heat shielding plus the two layers of fabric take up a lot of space when you turn that cute little oven mitt. Then again, if I'm sewing for children, now I know how to get it just right! Good lesson...seriously.

A few questions:

Anybody want or need tutorials?

Someone suggested making this more fun by adding a Mr. Linky on Mondays so we can trade ideas. Will you trade?

P.S. Not all my ideas are sewing...this is just where my head is right now because sewing projects need to be started well in advance of the holiday.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Food for Thought

It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

The First IT Professional Service Call

For those of you who don't know, Superman is a professional computer geek. As such, he has shared some funny stories about work over the years, such as the person who called him very frustrated because she couldn't find the "any" key. Along those lines, he sent this to me yesterday and I just had to laugh. So, what am I doing? Sharing it with you, of course, because laughter should definitely be shared. Happy Saturday to you all.

Friday, August 21, 2009

RIP One Lucky Baby

After an initial rally, One Lucky Baby continued to deteriorate after we brought her home from the animal hospital a few weeks ago. Tonight we made the difficult decision to put her down. We're sad...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Friday Photo Flashback

Happy Friday, everyone! It has been a terrific week of not much in particular at the Nagle5 household and I can't believe it is already Friday again. It is time to share pre-digital photos with you via Alicia's Friday Photo Flashback. Don't forget to head over to Alicia's to see what others dug out this is always fun.

Since Charming has been on my mind so much this summer, probably because he's turning into a man before my very eyes this year. So, yet again, I'm sharing a picture of him as a baby. This one was taken with a Polaroid and I think he was barely 6 months old. As you can see, he was in a hurry, even way back then! (He ended up walking on his own before he was 9 months old.) Hard to believe that little boy ended up being taller than his dad a short 18 years is humbling really, how briefly they're ours to cuddle.

Other things worth noting: the acid-washed denim shorts and the fact that I was wearing shoulder pads with a t-shirt. Okay, then!

Thanks for joining me on yet another trip down Memory Lane!

Generations Gone By Made Me Do It!

Seriously, my dear bloggy friend who writes Generations Gone By rekindled that genealogy bug in me after a four year hiatus when she told me of Footnotes free access to the 1930 census for the month of August. I just had to type in a few names, just for curiosity's sake. A few emails back and forth later, and I've been hooked again! Of course, Footnotes didn't give me all I wanted, but then I discovered that my local library subscribes to, another super cool genealogy site. So it was I found myself sitting at a computer library yesterday afternoon, talking to the monitor about a missing relative when a lovely woman named Nancy set down next to me and asked what I was doing. As fate would have it, Nancy has been involved in genealogy for 40 years because she's adopted. A few tips here and a few keystrokes there and my missing relative was found!

So, Generations, this post is for you!

Remember these kids? Well, their father (who would be my great grandfather on my maternal side) is Morton Smith, born about 1872 in New York. His father is Richard P. Smith, born in Pennsylvania in roughly 1837...this would be my great-great grandfather. His father, who was also named Richard P. Smith, was born in Pennsylvania on March 13 1799. Then my great-great-great grandfather was William Moore Smith, born in Pennsylvania on June 1, 1759 and, finally, my great-great-great-great grandfather was, in fact, William Penn Smith, born Sept 7, 1727 near Aberdeen, Scotland and died in Pennsylvania May 14, 1803. Gens, you know some of the other names (closer to our generation), so, how'd I do?

Movers and shakers in a brand new country, these are some fascinating people.

Things I have learned in the short time I've been doing this: Did you know they don't release census details until 72 years after the census was taken? That means we won't have 1940's census until 2012 and we won't have 1950's census until 2024! Did you know that the census from 1830 only counted male heads of household? Gee...weren't we forgetting a bunch of people? Finally, based on data I've found, Morton had to have been married twice. I wonder what happened to his first wife. She did give him a son, yet another Richard P. Smith, in 1893. I didn't spend much time on her, though, because she's not my great-grandmother. Wife number two is my great grandmother and I haven't found her family yet.

Having said all that, I can't believe Gens did this to me...I'm like an addict! Now, on to the women!

What about you all? Any missing relatives?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

WIP Wednesday

Superman is doing a fantastic project this week, but I can't show it to you because I don't want to spoil the surprise. In the meantime, I thought I'd show you another Work-In-Progress project that will be finished this week. This one, however, is being led by Buttercup! Yep, you read right, Buttercup is managing this project.

It all started with a hanging bench Superman made for Buttercup last year. It hangs under the deck and that area has become her clubhouse. (She desperately wanted a treehouse, but we only have mature pine trees in our yard...not going to cut it!) Then I saw a post by Tootsie (which I can't find for you) where she converted the underside of a playyard into a little den and wondered why I'd left her clubhouse so, well, not girly. I had this cool fabric (a fabric shower curtain from Target - $4) to make cushion covers for the bench and then I found $5 "oops" paint at Home Depot in a fabulous chocolate chip mint ice cream green color and it is all coming together.
So, that is your peek at Buttercup's clubhouse as it progresses...I'm really liking it. What do you think?

Game Night snuck up on me last week.

Seriously, I have no idea what I was doing or how it happened, but I found myself with that "oops, it is 5:30 p.m. on Saturday night and I have no idea what Game Night treat will be" feeling. Fortunately, when I'd made these cookies, I'd wondered about combining the peanut butter chips the recipe called for the with these Simple Chocolate Drop cookies, so that is what I did. I think they definitely turned out better than the original Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip recipe, but you should try it yourself and let me know.

Simple Chocolate Drop Cookies
(with chocolate and peanut butter chips)

1/2 cup butter - softened
1/2 cup brown sugar - packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla (okay, I never measure, I just pour)

1 egg

1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup Special Dark cocoa powder (I used regular Hershey's Cocoa)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 cup semi-sweet
chocolate chips and 1/2 cup peanut butter chips (I always double or triple this recipe, so I'm guessing on the chip measurements...just a couple of handfuls of each.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugar together at medium speed until fluffy (roughly two minutes). Add egg and vanilla and stir until just combined.

In separate bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Add to batter mixture and mix gently until just combined. Fold in chocolate and peanut butter chips.

Spoon by rounded tablespoon (I used my Pampered Chef scoop) onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-11 minutes.

I know it is probably obvious to others, but make little changes (that actually work) to recipes makes me feel so excited. I guess it is just like anything else, the more cooking you do, the more comfortable you feel making modifications on your own.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Vegetable Garden Has Had a Difficult Time This Summer

Seriously, my vegetable garden has struggled. Between the great aphid infestation that killed my seedlings, to differences in ideologies between myself (as head gardener) and my assistant (Charming) leading to conflicting styles of nurturing, to the weird weather we're having (a little consistent sun would be nice!), it seems more like The Little Engine that Could (I think I can bloom! I think I can bloom!) rather than a garden. We've dealt with Blossom End Rot (calcium deficient soil), failure to thrive (pollination issues?), and generally nutrient poor soil in one area of the garden. Having said all that, Charming and I have gotten on the same page, the vitamins have been administered and Mr. Sun is finally showing his beautiful face this week, so maybe, just maybe, I'll get a few more of these!

The zucchini is that rich dark green I love to see and those tomatoes are gorgeous! This, people, is why we do this year after year...eating the fruits of your labors is so cool! (I have to admit that I've been pretty envious of LoveAphid's bounty thus far...feeling like a total slacker as she enjoys salads and such from her own garden, while I hoped and prayed for a zucchini to make it to maturation.)

These, combined with the generous donation of a bunch of ripe tomatoes from a neighbor who hasn't struggled quite the way I have, meant fresh Capellini Pomodoro last night! (And this time, we had a lot of tomatoes and plenty of zucchini!)

Valiant Did It! - UPDATED

After two years of lawn-mowing, snow shoveling and other odd jobs, Valiant has managed to hit the magic $500 mark in his personal savings account. This is all money he's earned. How cool is that?

So, here's to you, Valiant!

We're proud of you!

UPDATED: Did I mention he's just 13?

Monday, August 17, 2009

"Make It Yourself" Monday

Last month, I told you I was already thinking about Christmas presents. Yes, it was July, but if I'm going to have any chance of having a hand-made Christmas, I've got to start working now. Truthfully, I'll probably be doing a lot of thinking, planning, and plotting this month. I don't see myself having a lot of time for sewing or crafting before September, but I really want to have a plan.

To that end, I'm designating Mondays as "Make It Yourself" Monday. Every Monday I'll share with you the ideas I have for something I'll be making for Christmas. Yes, it seems early, as Back to School hasn't even happened yet, but last year I started just too darned late and didn't want to sacrifice participating in the holidays to keep sewing. This year, I'm determined. Hopefully, you'll find a few ideas from my ideas (even if they're ideas for things you can buy for people on your list) and maybe you'll even have suggestions as to how I might make an idea even better. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

So, without further ado, here is my first frugal, hand-made Christmas idea:

See these tablecloths? I got them on clearance at Target last year for $6.00 each. Each tablecloth measures 60 x 120 inches. So, what am I going to do with these tablecloths, you ask? I'm making holiday napkins! Have you ever priced cloth napkins? Seriously. $2 a napkin? Oh, come on! I knew I could do better than that and when I saw these tablecloths it all clicked together. At 20" square (a nice size for a napkin), each tablecloth will yield 18 napkins. You can't beat that price for the fabric alone! Some clever seasonal napkin rings (make them yourself ideas to follow as I find them!) and you have a few nice gifts or a terrific addition to your own holiday place settings.

Never thought about making your own cloth napkins? Skip To My Lou has an easy mitered-corner napkin tutorial if you need a little guidance. Otherwise, napkins are a pretty easy sewing project. Another idea for inexpensive yardage would be to get a flat sheet in a fabric you liked (clearance priced, of course).

So, there you have it, my first Make It Yourself project suggestion. What do you think? If someone who knew you and and knew your tastes gave you some table dressing for the holidays, would you like it?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Food for Thought

When someone does something good, applaud! You will make two people happy.
Samuel Goldwyn
US (Polish-born) movie producer (1882 - 1974)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Quick and Easy Rolls for Soup or Chili or Stew!

Yesterday was a cold and blustery day...perfect soup weather. So I pulled out the chicken carcasses I've frozen over the last few months, and set them to boil in a pot of water. (What? You don't save your chicken carcasses for soup stock when you have a roast chicken? Seriously? That's okay, I didn't start doing it until two years ago, so I know it is never too late to learn new things!) Anyway, while the bones were simmering to give me stock for my chicken soup, I wondered what I'd serve with it. JennyMac at Jenny Mac's Lip Smack came to my rescue by posting this recipe she'd found from Chow Times. How perfect was that? This roll recipe was super easy and super fast (no rise time needed because there is no yeast!). I modified it a little by substituting garlic for the green onions, but other than that, I followed the recipe exactly. The kids viewed the rolls suspiciously, but one bite won them over.

Butter Dips
from JennyMac who found it at Chow Times

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
3 green onions, finely chopped (I couldn't do it...we used 1 teaspoon garlic powder instead) 1 cup 2% milk (I used non-fat because that is what we have)
1/2 cup butter

1. Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Stir in cheese and green onions. Add milk and stir slowly with a fork until dough clings together.

2. Turn the dough onto a floured board, coat the dough with flour and knead lightly about 10 times. Roll the dough out to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 1-inch squares. (I think I over kneaded a little and I definitely cut my squares too big!)

3. Melt butter in a 450°F degree oven in a 8×8 square baking pan. Coat all the sides of the squares in the melted butter. Bake in same pan for 25 to 30 minutes. After baking, flip the little buns over in the pan to coat the top with any remaining butter.

Pull apart and serve warm.

Have you ever thought about barter?

It occurred to me again (not a new thought here), while the kids and I were watching Frontier House (an amazing PBS miniseries that I encourage you all to watch), that we all have far more things that we need to have happy and fulfilled lives. Three modern families live in the Montana Territory in 1883 (as close to 1883 as they could make it!) with only the things that would have been available to settlers in 1883. From making their own homes to fetching their own water to slaughtering their own animals, it all must come from them. As I watched the effort that went into making homes (and sometimes, the effort that didn't get expended), it occurred to me that we've gotten too disconnected from how our labors connect to our possessions. You have all this stuff and you get a paycheck every few weeks and you somehow pay for all this stuff, but do you really get it?

Thing about this scenario: You need a new refrigerator. There is an $800 refrigerator (no bells and whistles) and there is a $1600 refrigerator (some bells and whistles). Now, when you go buy the refrigerator, you think about the money, right? But what if you thought about it the way it really is: Do you want to work 40 hours (bartering $20 for each hour of your labor) for the plain-Jane refrigerator? or do you want to work 80 hours for the refrigerator with the bells and whistles? Remember, the hours you're trading will go exclusively to the other needs will be met while your bartering your time. It is really interesting to think about it in these terms, isn't it? I don't know what your answer would be...I like to think I know what my answer would be.

But let's keep going. What if every single thing in your home was a something you traded hours for? The television, the car, the clothes that go unworn in your closet? The rooms in your house that are filled with junk and aren't being used? What if you thought about them in terms of hours you trade for them? Would you still have everything you have now?

The truth is that we do trade hours for every single thing we own, even if we never think of it that way. I know for me, we've not looked at it that way before and stopping to think about it in those terms really makes you think about the buying decisions you make...the little ones and the big ones.

P.S. Seriously, you really, really should watch Frontier House (you can get it from Netflix or your public library)

Friday, August 14, 2009

To Make You Chuckle...

I just want to thank all of you for your educational e-mails over the past year.. I am totally screwed up now and have little chance of recovery.

I no longer open a public bathroom door
without using a paper towel or have them put lemon slices in my ice water without worrying about the bacteria on the lemon peel.

I can't use the remote in a hotel room
because I don't know what the last person was doing while flipping through the movie channels.

I can't sit down on the hotel bedspread
because I can only imagine what has happened on it since it was last washed.

I have trouble shaking hands
with someone who has been driving because the number one pastime while driving alone is picking ones nose (although cell phone usage may be taking the number one spot).

Eating a little snack sends me on a guilt trip
because I can only imagine how many gallons of Trans fats I have consumed over the years.

I can't touch any woman's purse
for fear she has placed it on the floor of a public bathroom.

to whoever sent me the one about poop in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet sponge with every envelope that needs sealing.

now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.

I no longer have any savings
because I gave it to a sick girl (Penny Brown) who is about to die in the hospital for the 1,387,258th time.

I no longer have any money at all,
but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Bill Gates/Microsoft and AOLare sending me for participating in their special e-mail program..

I no longer worry about my soul
because I have 363,214 angels looking out for me, and St. Theresa's Novena has granted my every wish.

I no longer eat KFC
because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.

I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants
even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day..

I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an e-mail to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.

I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.

I no longer can buy gasoline
without taking someone along to watch the car so a serial killer won't crawl in my back seat when I'm pumping gas.

I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr. Pepper
since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put 'Under God' on their cans.

I no longer use Saran Wrap
in the microwave because it causes cancer.

I can't boil a cup of water in the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face.... Disfiguring me for life.

I no longer check the coin return on pay phones
because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS.

I no longer go to shopping malls
because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.

I no longer receive packages from UPS or Fed Ex
since they are actually Al Qaeda in disguise.

I no longer shop at Target
since they are French and don't support our American troops or the Salvation Army.

I no longer answer the phone
because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a phone bill with calls to Jamaica , Uganda , Singapore , and Uzbekistan .

I no longer buy expensive cookies from Neiman Marcus
since I now have their recipe.

I can't use anyone's toilet but mine because a big brown African spider is lurking under the seat to cause me instant death when it bites my butt.

I can't ever pick up $5.00 dropped in the parking lot because it probably was placed there by a
Molester waiting underneath my car to grab my leg.

I can no longer drive my car
because I can't buy gas from certain gas companies!

I can't do any gardening
because I'm afraid I'll get bitten by the brown recluse and my hand will fall off.

If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 70 minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 p.m. Tomorrow afternoon and the fleas from 12 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician . ..


Oh, by the way.....

A German scientist from Argentina , after a lengthy study, has discovered that people with insufficient brain activity read their e-mail with their hand on the mouse..

Don't bother taking it off now, it's too late.

Magic Cookie Bars

After making the Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars for Superman to take to work Friday, the family had no dessert of our own for Thursday night, so what was a mother to do? Make dessert, of course! I decided to put together some Magic Cookie Bars and maintain my popularity in the polls. Magic Cookie Bars is one of those recipes that everyone seems to have in their recipe file and no one knows where it came from. I do know the recipe is on the can of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk, so maybe that is where my mom got it all those years ago. Wherever it came from, it is definitely a family favorite in the Nagle5 household.

Magic Cookie Bars

1/2 cup of butter (melted)
1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs (I used the food processor to grind my graham crackers)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chocolate chips (I used 1/2 cup chocolate and 1/2 cup butterscotch this time)
3 1/2 ounces sweetened flake coconut (I use about 2 cups)
1 cup chopped nuts (we use peanuts, but I didn't have any this time)

Assembly instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1. Pour melted butter in 9 x13 pan.

2. Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs evenly on the layer of melted butter.

3. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over graham cracker crumb layer.

4. Sprinkle chips evenly over sweetened condensed milk.

5. Sprinkle coconut over chips.

6. Sprinkle topped nuts over coconut.

7. Press down gently to combine the layers.

8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until coconut is lightly browned...not dark. (The edges get dark, but you want the main portion to just be golden.)

9. Cool and serve!

There you have it...yet another quick and easy sweet treat to make when you just have to have something sweet.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Friday Photo Flashback

Can you believe it is Friday already? Well, it is! That means it is time for me to dazzle you with yet another photo from the stone age (or the predigital age, if you prefer to think about it that way!). It is Friday Photo Flashback time...I'm again joining Alicia at More Than Words to walk down memory lane with you all.

This picture is from May 1991. Charming was not even 3 months old and a friend had asked me to be in her wedding (trust me, I tried to get out of it...she wouldn't budge). I remember being so overwhelmed by being in this wedding. She lived an hour away, I was already back at work full time and I was trying to learn how to be a wife and mother. It was a challenging time. Throw in a bridesmaid dress and you have stress overload. Anyway, she was getting married in this beautiful glass church at the beach and Superman and Charming were with me for the rehearsal. Superman had Charming on his shoulders waving to me! Isn't that so cute?

Notice the huge sweater I'm wearing to hide my stomach. Oh, yeah, I was so not ready for my close-up (I don't know how starlets to it, seriously!). Look how young Superman was (and cute!).

Oh, I'm glad I stumbled across this picture. It made me smile when I looked at it.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

I can't believe it, but I'm finally back on track with making Superman's Friday Delight snack before 9 p.m. Thursday night! This morning (did you read that? this MORNING!) I tried a new recipe for a Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar that really delivered. Seriously, it turned out really well. Fast, easy, and good! Unlike some cookie bars I've tried, this one stayed moist...not a dry bite in the bunch. It would be perfect to take on a picnic or a pot luck barbecue or any place that you want to take a snack but you don't want to worry about refrigeration.

So, where did I find this super simple recipe? I'm glad you asked...this little gem was featured on Worth Her Salt, a cooking blog hosted by Lacey. (You've got to love anyone who shares a rant that Michael Pollan did about the Food Network being about personalities rather than cooking these days. As my BIL pointed out, saying the Food Network is about the food is like saying MTV is about music. Enough said.) Anyway, back to the recipe and the blog. Loving Lacey's blog and I think you'll really like this recipe. So, go bake!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
from Lacey at Worth Her Salt

2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour (I don't have a 1/8 cup measuring cup! Do you?)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoon vanilla (Of course, I measure my vanilla very carefully!)
2 cups chocolate chips (about one 12 oz bag)


1. Preheat oven to 325. Grease 9x13 pan and set aside. Melt butter in a large microwave safe mixing bowl.

2. Add sugars to butter and mix until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.

3. In separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt then add to the sugar mixture and fold together with a spatula or wooden spoon, just until combined. Don’t overmix or the gluten will develop and make the cookies tough. (Who knew that is why cookies got tough?) Fold in the chocolate chips.

4. Spread in greased 9×13 pan (the dough will be a little greasy, but don’t worry). Bake until just set in the middle, 27-30 minutes. (Mine took 27 minutes...they are light golden blonde, not chocolate chip cookie-colored.)

There you have it! Can you believe I got them done by 1:00 p.m.? I am so jazzed!

(Now I can go look through boxes of photos for Friday Photo Flashback and figure out what aspect of my garden I'll be sharing for Fertilizer Friday. And I get to do it all ahead of time...yay!)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I Wish Our Wedding Had Been This Much Fun!

You know, as I look back on our wedding day, it was fraught with stress from many sources. As I think of how I will advise my children, I want them to have fun with getting married. The wedding is just one day and the marriage is the important part. To that end, I think I'll make them each watch this video.

I can tell you without a doubt Jill and Kevin had more fun than we did. (Superman agrees with me!) So, what about you? Was your wedding this much fun?

Blueberry Muffins for a Museum Day Date with Superman...

It is Museum Day and Buttercup is really excited because we've missed the last two. Even better, Superman can meet us for lunch before the homeschool group meets up! Unfortunately, the weather isn't cooperating with my picnic-in-the-park plans, so instead we'll be doing at picnic-at-the-MAC. In addition to baking some fresh bread, I tried a new blueberry muffin recipe this morning. It turned out really well and was very easy. The recipe comes from the Muffins and Quick Breads from the Williams Sonoma Kitchen Library recipe book. I haven't made a lot of the recipes from this book because the flavors and combinations seem, well, weird. I guess I don't have a sophisticated palate because things like "Holiday Fruit Bread" (isn't that a crime?), "Chili-Corn Muffins", and "Pistachio-Olive Bread" just don't sound appealing.
Anyway, back to the recipe I did try. As I said, it was a traditional blueberry muffin recipe and I used frozen blueberries. It doesn't have the crumb topping that my other recipe has, but it seems like a more true blueberry muffin (if that makes sense). I think Superman will love them, as he's a blueberry muffin purist.

Blueberry Muffins
from Muffins and Quick Breads

2 cups all-purpose flour (315 g)
2/3 cup granulated sugar (155 g)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup milk (250 ml)
1/2 cup butter (melted) (125 g)
2 eggs

1 cup blueberries (125 g) (I used frozen)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter standard muffin tin (I lined mine to make clean-up easier) and set aside.

In medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and set aside.

In large bowl, whisk together milk butter, and eggs.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir just until blended. Add blueberries, stirring just until evenly incorporated.

Spoon into prepared muffin tin, filling cup about 3/4 full (I used my handy scooper and I think they were a bit bigger). Bake until toothpick inserted comes out clean, roughly 15-20 minutes. My slightly bigger muffins took 20 minutes.

Cool in tin 5 minutes and then remove.

This recipe says it makes 16, but filling my muffin tins a little more than they said gave me 12 muffins, which I really like because then the whole thing is done in one batch!

UPDATE: Superman did like them better and so did the children. I guess this will be my go-to recipe for blueberry muffins, but I still might try them with the crumb topping.

What do you do with the space that used to hold...

...a 20' round above ground pool? You turn it into a fire pit area so you can have wienie roasts and make s'mores with some of your friends! Superman has already made us a few chairs (aren't they cute?) that we supplemented with our camping chairs. A clearance firepit from Lowe's from last year and, viola!, fun in the round! (There were 3 more kids and 6 more adults for our pre-game night frolic.)

So, what do you think? Do you see our vision? Obviously a few more fence panels are needed, but I think it works pretty well.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bar

Okay, so what do you do when you really want dessert but it is already 9:00 p.m.? You search for a quick recipe! I found a recipe I had in my files from Baking Blonde posted one year ago today (how weird is that?) No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars...chocolate, peanut butter, and no bake - check! Again, it is one of those recipes that I love because it uses only stuff we normally have on hand. It takes about ten minutes to put it all together and then you're supposed to chill it in your refrigerator for 2-3 hours. (You can cut that time by a lot if you just put it in the freezer--look, I wasn't going to let the kids stay up all night waiting for dessert...). This turned out to be a nice quick snack that took care of our sweet tooth with minimal effort. Really, what else do we want in a dessert?

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars
found at Baking Blonde's blog and originally adapted from

1 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used 3/4 cup)

1) Grease a 9×9 inch square pan.

2) Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Mix in the oats. Cook over low heat 2 to 3 minutes, or until ingredients are well blended.

3) Press half of mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. (I pressed 2/3 mixture in bottom of pan.) Reserve the remainder for topping.

4) Then melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in a small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture over the crust in the pan, and spread evenly with a knife or the back of a spoon.

5) Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the chocolate layer, pressing in gently.

6) Cover, and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or overnight. (Or you can just put them in the freezer for 60 minutes like we did!) Bring to room temperature before cutting into bars.