The Most Dreaded Place on Earth…

I’m off to my least favorite place this morning. A place so dreaded that I would rather visit the gynecologist.  That’s right, I am off to the dentist. Ugh.

Image by Grant Cochrane via http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Image by Grant Cochrane via freedigitalphotos.net

A bit over five years ago, I had an essay due for a creative writing class. I had been struggling with several ideas, but didn’t have anything I was happy with.  On the morning it was due, I found myself with a dentist appointment, and the topic just clicked.  Just for fun, I thought I would share it here: Continue reading

WANAFriday: Beach Volleyball and 90s Hair

I haven’t jumped in on the #WANAFriday fun yet, but this week’s post sounded like fun, so I decided to join in (even if it is Monday)! :-)

For anyone who doesn’t know what #WANAFriday is, a group of writing friends got together to pick a weekly blog topic to help everyone come up with new topics.  Whoever wants to join in writes a post, linking to all the other posts on the topic.  Here is this week’s topic:

Tell us about something you used to be into but aren’t anymore — a hobby, an activity, a band, a TV show, etc

Continue reading

Comfort Food: Fresh from the Garden Spaghetti

I love comfort foodmacaroni and cheese, shepherd’s pie, pot roast, and, or course, spaghetti.

Spaghetti is my go-to meal for a variety of occasions ranging from nights I just don’t want to cook to nights I am feeding a large crowd.  It is tasty, filling, inexpensive, and easy! Add a salad and maybe some garlic bread and dinner can be done in as little as 20 minutes! :-)

Yup, 20 minutes, even if I am making the sauce from scratch! Continue reading

It’s Pumpkin Season!

My mom didn’t cook very often when I was a kid, and she almost never baked.  It wasn’t that she wasn’t able–she is actually a very good cook.  But, she doesn’t really enjoy cooking, where my dad does, so he took the cooking duties.

The holiday meals were the one thing she did enjoy cooking, and this pie always topped off our Thanksgiving dinners.  This is one of my absolute favorites, although I have taking over the tradition of making it.

I have actually made it twice already this year, although Thanksgiving is still over a month away, and i am sure I will make it a few more before the holidays are done.  I get a lot of requests for the recipe, so I decided it is time to share.  :-) Continue reading

Go Buffalo!

Anyone that knows me knows that I love to cook and bake.  I prefer to cook from scratch, even figuring out how to recreate my husbands favorite Hamburger Helper varieties.

This past weekend, I went on a baking spree.  Apple coffee cake, banana bread, pumpkin bread, and chocolate chip cookies.  Yum!

I took a large tray of deserts to our picnic on Sunday, and they were a hit. Still, the most popular treat I made was a buffalo chicken appetizer. Continue reading

Happy Labor Day!

Officially, Labor Day is a holiday dedicated to America’s workers, and the impact they have on the success of our nation.  It was adopted at a time when major changes were being made in the workforce, allowing for higher wages, better benefits, and shorter hours.

A glimpse of fall colors near our home (taken September 2012)

A glimpse of fall colors near our home (taken September 2012)

Unofficially, Labor Day also marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall.  The air (usually) starts to feel a bit crisper, the leaves start to darken, and the kids head back to school.

For me, it marks the start of my favorite time of year.  I love summer, don’t get me wrong, but the thing I missed the most when I lived in warmer climates was autumn in the northeastern US. The air is still warm in the daytime, but the temperatures get a bit cooler after dark.  School sports gear back up.  We can hear marching bands practice from our home.  College and NFL football come back, and MLB gets ready for the playoffs. Continue reading

Lending a Helping Hand

One of my favorite thing about my community theatre group, CAST, is the family atmosphere.  My mom, dad, brother, and I all performed in my first show with this awesome group in 1996. Today, my husband and I perform together each year. We are joined by many other families, both on stage and behind the scenes.

Theatre

By spending so much time together (three to four days a week from January through late April, early May), the theatre group becomes a family. By this time of year, we are acting like a close family, with love, friendship, laughter, and yes, even an occasional disagreement.  ;-)

Despite the times when we don’t see eye-to-eye (and really, when can you get almost 100 people together and have them always agree on everything), one thing remains–we are there for one another.  If someone is in need, we are all there, ready to jump in and help in any way we can.

Hand Reaching

This year, we instituted a program that embodies that attitude of help others, both in our organization and in our community.  “Families Helping Families” helps our CAST family help families in the community that have a financial need.  This year, we are helping a local teacher, Heather Oaks, who is battling cancer; and a fellow CAST member, Karen DeLabar, who is recovering from toxic shock syndrome.

We are asking for donation for these two families at each of our shows. The organization will match the donations and split the money raised between the two families.  It is our hope that this program will help to relieve some of the financial stress these families are facing, allowing them to focus on their recovery.

The lovely Boylan Sisters, checking out the Orange Karen Anthology. (Karen is in the middle.)

The lovely Boylan Sisters, checking out the Orange Karen Anthology. (Karen is in the middle.)

In addition to being a fellow CAST member, Karen DeLabar is also a romance writer and a great friend. (Some of you may remember our first steps into blogging, when we teamed up for Have Coffee… Will Write). In addition “Families Helping Families”, a group of talented writers came together to write an anthology, Orange Karen: A Tribute to  Warrior, for Karen’s benefit.  The book, on sale now in both paperback and eBook, features almost forty short stories across a variety of genres. All proceeds from the sale of the anthology will go to Karen’s still-mounting medical bills.

If you are interested in finding out more about Karen or her illness, check out her website. More about the anthology can be found on the Orange Karen site.  The book can be purchased online at Amazon or Createspace.

If you are local to the Lehigh Valley and would like more information about CAST or our shows, please visit our website.  Of course, our production of Annie continues this weekend (April 26-28, 2013), and tickets are still available–feel free to come check it out! :-)

Are you part of an organization that is always ready to step up and help those in need? Do you have any groups or teams you are a part of that feel like they are a part of your family? We would love to hear about them in the comments! :-)

Chocolaty Goodness

I had a different planned for today, but I just had to share this recipe I tried yesterday! :-) It was my grandmother’s 81st birthday (Happy Birthday Grandma!), and I was on dessert duty.

I am not a chocolate cake person–I much prefer a yellow or white cake.  But, it wasn’t my birthday, and chocolate cake is my grandmother’s favorite.

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Since I don’t usually make chocolate cake I didn’t have a go-to recipe.  So, I just used the one on the container of Hershey’s Cocoa. After all, I love their brownie recipe, so I figured the cake was worth a try, too.

Let me tell you, I was impressed! I decided on cupcakes, since my grandmother lives in an apartment building.  I figured it would make it easier for her to share the leftovers with her friends (plus, I have always preferred cupcakes).IMG_0014.JPG (2)

They were moist, fluffy, and delicious! I even used their icing recipe, which was great as well.  The cupcakes were a big hit at dinner, and my grandmother said they reminded her of the ones she used to make.  I asked if she still had the recipe, and she said she just used the one on the Hershey’s Cocoa container. Great minds think alike! ;-)

Want the recipe? Check it out on their website.

What is your favorite birthday or special occasion treat? Do you have a great chocolate cake or cupcake recipe? Which do you prefer, cakes or cupcakes? Feel free to share! :-)

I’m off to steal a leftover cupcake! ;-)

Moving Up and Out!

Preparation is well under way for our community theatre‘s annual production.  This year, we will be presenting Annie the final two weekends in April.

Rehearsals started in early January, and the show is coming together nicely.  But, the biggest differences will come in the next week. This week is one of the most exciting of the year for us–Move week.

We start each year with rehearsals on the floor of a local elementary school gym.  This is a great practice area, because it is roughly the same size as our stage, and it is available for rehearsals well before the stage is ready for us.

Theatre

As rehearsals go on, we get more and more of our set pieces, but it is still difficult to envision the final product–it still looks like a gym floor!

Then comes move week.  On Tuesday night, we moved all of the set pieces, props, backdrops, costume racks, and more to the high school where we perform.  Between Wednesday and Saturday, we have people working on putting the final touches on the set every day from 9am – 9pm.

And then come the fun part… our first rehearsal.  I absolutely love to watch the faces of everyone (especially the kids) as they come in and see the sets for the first time.  The look on everyone’s face as they walk onto the stage for the first time.  Suddenly, the director’s vision come to life before our eyes.

I’ll be honest, the first few rehearsals on the stage are rough–there are a lot of changes that need to be made once all of the set pieces are there.  Before long, everything falls into place.

I find I go through a similar process with my writing.  I am about 3/4 of the way to my target word count on the first book in a new series.  I was working my way through, but felt like something was missing.

The other night, I woke up at 3:18 am, and it was suddenly all clear.  I knew what was missing! I could see it!

Out of the roughest storms...

Out of the roughest storms…

In the days since, I have been hard at work adjusting the current story to this new twist.  Much like those first few rough rehearsals on the stage, the tweaks will pay off in the long run. I look forward to having a story I can be proud of, and know that each rough patch will just making it stronger in the long run.

...come the prettiest pictures.

…come the prettiest pictures.

Do you find that something beautiful usually comes from the roughest times? What are some examples in your life?

For more information on our production of Annie (or to order tickets), check out our website! :-)

Pure Pecan Heaven

Over the past few months, I have become quite the Pinterest addict.  I have found recipes galore, fun household tips, clothing ideas, inspirational quotes, and the list goes on and on!

I wrote a post a few months ago about some of the pins I had tried at home. Today, I want to share a recipe that I tried a few weeks ago for a large group that everyone loved. (I have been baking since I was a teenager, and my mom said it was the best thing I have ever made.  And she is a big fan of my baking.)  ;-)

I will warn you that this is not, by any means, a calorie conscious recipe! Here is what you will need:

For crust:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

For topping:

1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup honey

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 cups chopped pecans

 

The crust, fresh out of the oven. To be honest, I think that alone may be heavenly!

The amazing pecan topping, ready to be poured over the crust. I can attest to the fact that this part is yummy alone! ;-)

In the oven, almost done!! :-) (Yes, there are two of them there.  I told you it was a big crowd!)

OK, I have to admit, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product–but it looked almost as good as it tasted! For the full recipe and more pics, head over to Just a Taste, an awesome food blog! While you are there, be sure to check out some more of Kelly Senyei’s awesome recipes.

 Do you have a favorite website or blog for recipes? Have you tried Pinterest yet? Have you found any irresistible tips? Or do you have any of your own you would like to share? I’d love to know!

You can follow me on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/smnonnemacher/. :-)