Archive for April, 2012


We are back to the not as good for you type of snack this weekend, which I know so many of you enjoy anyway.

The family could not come to an agreement as to which kind of whoopie pie they would like, so I made three different kinds. I’m a people pleaser. Yes I am. It took the better part of the morning and half of the afternoon to accomplish the task, but everyone was in agreement that it was worth the effort. My Italian background usually shines brighter than the noonday sun, but every once in a while the Pennsylvania Dutch peaks through too. I did manage to sneak that Italian in and you’ll see where.

Triple Chocolate Threat (Chocolate with Chocolate buttercream filling and rolled in mini chocolate chips)

Chocolate whoopies

1/2 cup butter, room temp

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 2/3 cups flour

2/3 cup cocoa

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. You may use nonstick whoopie pans or line cookie sheets with parchment. I tried the pans and I prefer the parchment lined sheets.

Cream the butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Combine flour, soda, salt and cocoa. Stir half into butter mixture. Stir in half of the milk. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture, then the milk.

Drop two Tbsp of mixture onto parchment lined baking sheets making sure batter is two inches apart. Make round and smooth. Bake individual sheets for 15 minutes. The little cakes will spring when touched, just like a regular cake. Cool for a minute. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

When cooled, fill with buttercream (recipe below) and roll in mini chocolate chips. Wrap individually in plastic wrap. Makes about ten to twelve whoopie pies.

Chocolate Buttercream

4 Tbsp butter, room temp

1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar

1/2 cup cocoa

3 Tbsp milk or cream

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

Cream the sugar, cocoa and butter. Add the milk vanilla and salt. Beat until smooth. You can use a mixer, but I do it by hand and it turns out fine. If your sugar is rather lumpy you could sift it first.

Pumpkin whoopies with cream cheese filling (Just like a pumpkin roll, except cuter)

1/2 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cup pumpkin, solid pack (not pie filling)

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/4 c flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 Tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

3/4 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream butter and sugar. Stir in pumpkin, egg and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Combine dry ingredients. Add to wet stirring until combined. Drop by 2 Tbsp onto parchment lined cookie sheet.  Make sure they are two inches apart. I did not spread these out so they came a little higher and appear to be smaller than the other whoopies. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool on sheet, and then transfer to rack to cool completely. Fill with cream cheese filling.

Cream cheese filling

4 oz cream cheese, at room temp

1/4 cup butter, at room temp

3 cups confectioners sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Beat cream cheese and butter. Add sugar and vanilla. Stir or beat until smooth.

Lemon Whoopies with Italian Lemon cream cheesy filling

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

zest of half of a lemon

2 Tbsp lemon juice, fresh

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment.

Cream the butter and sugars. Add the eggs, milk, vanilla, lemon juice and zest. Mix until smooth. Combine dry ingredients. Add the dry to the wet and mix until combined. Drop two Tbsp batter on parchment lined cookie sheets spacing at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool on sheet for a few minutes and then transfer to racks to cool completely. Fill and enjoy.

Italian Lemon cream cheesy filling

1/4 cup butter, room temp

1/2 cup mascarpone* cheese, room temp

2 Tbsp lemon juice, fresh

zest of half of a lemon

3 cups confectioners sugar

Beat butter and mascarpone cheese until smooth. Mix in sugar. Add lemon juice and zest. Mix or beat until smooth.

You may want to enjoy these one recipe at a time, or get the crew together and make a family project out of it. There are endless combinations. Notice the base recipe is mostly the same with flavorings added in. You may also want to double the filling recipes to make a more full whoopie instead of a filled cookie look. I tried to lean toward the more healthful approach. 😉

We chose to store the lemon and pumpkin whoopies in the frig because of the cream cheese. The flavor is better if you let them come to room temp.

Enjoy!

*Mascarpone cheese can be found in the specialty cheese section of most larger grocery stores. It comes in a container similar to spreadable cream cheese.

Organized Home Day 20

Today is the last day to follow along with Money Saving Mom and her 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home challenge!

Day 20 Assignments

  • Get dressed in something that makes you feel great.

It’s very chilly here today so I decided on jeans and layered a sweatshirt over a tee just in case it warms up later.

  • Sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and write down today’s goals.

What do you need to get done today? I’m going to be sure to do the following before the sun sets…

  1. Pay a few bills
  2. Walk/exercise 45 minutes
  3. Grocery shopping
  4. Errands
  5. Work on tomorrow’s blog post
  • Complete your morning routine.

My morning routine

  1. Rise
  2. Shower
  3. Make up and hair
  4. Tidy bathroom
  5. Dress
  6. Tend to cats and dogs
  7. Breakfast
  8. Dishes
  9. Any other household chore that immediately catches my attention or needs dealt with.
  • Set a timer for 15 minutes and do something you really enjoy and that relaxes and rejuvenates you.

Today I took some time to email an old friend. With the time I had left over I simply sat and counted the blessings in my life.

The bolded assignment above is the main task of the day and the one that Money Saving Mom recommends that you complete if you work away from home or have an unusually busy day.

My medicine cabinet in the bathroom and my medicine cupboard in the kitchen both got an overhaul within the past month. I actually cleaned my bathroom medicine cabinet the evening I had my wisdom tooth removed, after I was completely free of the effects of the anesthesia and pain medication, well almost. I had disappeared for too long and my husband came to “hunt me down”. He gently scolded me but my task was already complete. I had rearranged and wiped out the medicine cabinet. To this day I’m not sure what struck me to clean in that condition. I’m sure the subject will come up again in the future, if ever pain medication is involved. I guess there’s nothing wrong with a little ribbing now and again. 😉

I passed on the pictures today because of the personal aspect of those areas.

I don’t know about all of you, but I’ve had an incredible experience following this challenge. At times it inspired me to get some things done I had put off or had completely forgotten about. Other times it made feel “on track” because I already had the task completed. It has me thinking about which other areas of my life might benefit from such a challenge.

Organized Home Day 19

Excited to get going this morning with Money Saving Mom and her 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home challenge!

Day 19 Assignments

  • Get dressed in something that makes you feel great.
  • Sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and write down today’s goals.

The goals of the day are to walk/exercise for 45 minutes, wipe down my windowsills, do two loads of laundry, dust and reorganize our computer stand, and tackle my email that I have let slide this week.

  • Complete your morning routine.
  • Set the timer for 15 minutes and wipe down your windowsills and trim around your windows (if you didn’t wipe these when we wiped down the baseboards earlier this month).
  • Clean your windows and blinds and/or window treatments. If you want to get really ambitious, you can take the screens off (if you have screens) and clean the outside of your windows. Or, you can just use window cleaner and clean your windows on the inside. Dust or wash your blinds. Remove any washable window treatments and launder them.

Having close to 20 windows in my house I’m thinking this task may be too much to undertake and complete in only one day. I have mini blinds and would have to unscrew all of the little screws that hold them in place in order to take them down. I also have a few “complicated” widow treatments that would take more than a couple of hours to iron. I will share a tip though. If today were warm and sunny I could take all of my mini blinds down, fill up my outside tub with sudsy water, dunk the blinds, wipe them down, hang them on the fence and hose them off, let them hang there to dry, and then put them back up. That would be doable in a day, but it is cold, windy, and may shower here today. One bright sunny day here in the future we’ll make that a family project.

Instead of taking on a huge project today I’ll just wipe the sills.  I already tackled my dirtiest windows two weeks ago, which were in my stairwell and hallway.

See the gloom. It’s a dreary day for sure.

Note to self:  Opt for more simple curtains, or at least ones that aren’t lacy, on the next window treatment shopping trip. 😉

  • Find 7 items to get rid of today.

I’ve had these tea bags hanging around for a while now. I even sat them in the middle of the table to get me to remember to use them and for some reason I haven’t. Does anyone know how long they will remain good enough to use? They are completely sealed and are herbal blends.

Organized Home Day 18

Excited to get going this morning with Money Saving Mom and her 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home challenge!

Day 18 Assignments

  • Get dressed in something that makes you feel great.

Putting this on in the morning makes me feel pretty good, and proud.

  • Sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and write down today’s goals.

The goals of the day are to walk for 45 minutes, clean closet floors, vacuum main area of the house, do one load of laundry, finish drafting my daughter’s graduation announcement, and still have time to make a nice dinner for my family including my bonus son and my lovely daughter-in-law.

  • Complete your morning routine.
  • Set the timer for 15 minutes and vacuum the main area of the house.
  • Vacuum your carpeted closets. Sweep or mop the floor in those closets without carpet. Remove all items from the closet floor and get rid of clutter, trash, and items that don’t belong in that closet.

My entryway closet is in need of some help. It’s where we store our emergency packs. You can read more about them here. I see lots of clutter to clear.

I ran out of hooks on which to hang the packs so I left mine on the floor. It’s the one we usually grab if we go on a road trip anyway, so I like it to be handy.

  • Find 7 items to get rid of today.

Where are you in your cleaning and organizing journey?

Organized Home Day 17

A clean, organized home is within reach if you follow along like I am with Money Saving Mom and her 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home challenge!

Day 17 Assignments

  • Get dressed in something that makes you feel great.

The weather has turned cold here again so it’s back to jeans and hoodies.

  • Sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and write down today’s goals.

What do you need to get done today? I’m going to be sure to do the following before the sun sets…

  1. Finish two loads of laundry
  2. Walk 45 minutes or use my gazelle for 30 minutes, depending on the weather.
  3. Clean cupboards and rearrange.
  4. Design graduation party invitations for my daughter.
  5. Finish working on a personal goal.
  • Complete your morning routine.

My morning routine

  1. Rise
  2. Shower
  3. Make up and hair
  4. Tidy bathroom
  5. Dress
  6. Tend to cats and dogs
  7. Breakfast
  8. Dishes
  9. Any other household chore that immediately catches my attention or needs dealt with.
  • Set a timer for 15 minutes and do a quick clean of your bathroom.

As you can see by my morning routine, I already include a quick bathroom clean up.

  • Clean out and reorganized your kitchen cupboards and pantry.

I concentrated on this particular cupboard first because since we moved in and I placed that set of bowls up there in that right hand top shelf, I’ve been asking myself why. Several times I even convinced myself that it was a good upper body strength workout hauling those bowls up and down most days.

  I’m so happy they are within easy reach now.

  • Find seven items to get rid of today.

Wow! I guess I had better start looking in things instead of just looking around while trying to find items I don’t need anymore. The cocoa was a gift and I think it’s time to open and consume it. 😉

Where are you in your journey of home organization and cleaning?

There was no internet access so assignment 15 was never posted for us to follow, in case you were wondering, but I’m excited to get going this morning with Money Saving Mom and her 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home challenge!

Day 16 Assignments

  • Get dressed in something that makes you feel great.
  • Sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and write down your list of weekly goals.

Goals for the week 

Exercise for 45 minutes each day

 (can’t walk today because it’s sleeting out)

Vacuum and mop

Clean heating vents

Work on a few personal goals

Write grocery list and plan menu for next week

  • Complete your morning routine.
  • Set the timer for 15 minutes and quickly pick up your house and put things back into order after the weekend.
  • Clean your vents. If you have floor vents that can be removed, remove them and wash them in warm soapy water. Vacuum/clean any dirt or grime around the floor vent area and replace the vent. Use a vacuum attachment and/or a wet rag to dust/clean your other vents.

I ran the vacuum and washed the vents with a damp cloth, but do you think I could pull the vents out of the floor to get down into them? It had to wait for husband to get home.

  • Find 7 items to get rid of today.

Still having trouble finding more items to part with…

To keep going today after a late night last night, or early into the morning, I decided on a complex carbohydrate treat. Most race cars need a special type of fuel and so do I after being up well past my bed time. My favorite brother-in-law races at a local dirt track. We always try to make it to several races to show our support. Here’s to you “Leroy”!

If you are into the racing scene it can make for an interesting and inexpensive family outing. Here are a few tips to possibly make it more enjoyable and affordable for you and yours.

  • Look at the schedule for deal nights such as a free night or a special price per carload night to name a couple.
  • Bring something to sit on such as a blanket, as you would for any other sporting event with bleacher seating.
  • Dress for the weather. At the track we visit races start at 7 p.m. and run almost to midnight. It starts out hot and ends up somewhat chilly as you get into the late night hours.
  • Bring your own refreshments. Check with your track to see if they allow you to carry in your own food and beverages.
  • If you are not against gambling, it might be a good idea to purchase a 50/50 ticket “as part of your evening entertainment budget.” Someone in the crowd left with over $900 last night.
  • Wear easy to clean older clothing. It usually depends on where you sit, but it can get really dusty at a dirt track. You could end up with a coating of dust on you. One year you could see a cloud of dirt coming toward you with every lap of the race. This isn’t the norm at all but it’s possible and we were caught off guard that year, so beware. I always slip my purse into one of those nylon drawstring backpacks to protect it.
  • Bring sunglasses to protect your eyes from the early evening setting sun of course, but also to protect them into the night from any possible flying debris. Again, not the norm but always a possibility where there are loose stones and dirt clumps.
  • Don’t forget the sunblock. As we get into the summer months that sun will set later and later.
  • It’s a small world. Odds are that you’ll either know one of the drivers or his pit crew members, a driver’s friend or relative, or a sponsor. What a wonderful way to show community spirit.

The Recipe

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

2/3 cup  all-purpose flour

2/3 cup oat flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

3 cups old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats

1/3 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In large bowl mix together the sugar, butter, egg, yogurt and vanilla. Stir in remaining ingredients. Drop dough by rounded Tbsp about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until firm when touched. Makes 4 dozen.

What a nice way to sneak healthful yogurt into your loved ones. While stirring the cookie dough you catch the sweet tang of the yogurt mixed with the cocoa. It reminds of a chocolate cream cheese icing that I adore so much.

These remind me of a no-bake cookie in appearance, but not in taste. Enjoy this mostly whole grain treat!

Organized Home Day 14

Excited to get going this morning with Money Saving Mom and her 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home challenge!

Day 14 Assignments

  • Get dressed in something that makes you feel great.
  • Sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and write down today’s goals.

The goals of the day are to walk for 45 minutes, clean out my utensil drawers, clean all of the glass doors and mirrors in the house, do one load of laundry, and draft my daughter’s graduation announcement.

  • Complete your morning routine.
  • Set the timer for 15 minutes and clean the mirrors and glass doors in your house.
  • Clean out your utensil drawer(s) (those with serving spoons, ladles, spatulas, etc.) in the kitchen and your junk drawer(s). Take everything out, throw out the trash, get rid of extra clutter, wipe out the drawers, and re-organize the contents as you put them back in.

Having had just accomplished this task a few weeks ago, I only have after pictures. Unfortunately my impromtu clean out at that time was due to a little visitor. Notice most everything is in containers or bags now for easier cleaning in the future. We hope it won’t be necessary but are prepared in any case.

  • Find 7 items to get rid of today.

Tomorrow is another day. I’m really running out of things to get rid of. I guess that’s a good thing.

Organized Home Day 13

It’s Day 13 and I’m still cleaning away with Money Saving Mom and her 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home challenge!

Day 13 Assignments

  • Get dressed in something that makes you feel great.

It seemed pretty chilly out today so back to jeans, tee and a hoodie.

  • Sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and write down today’s goals.

Today I have a few personal goals I want to accomplish along with cleaning off the top of my refrigerator and wiping down my cupboards. There is also the 45 minute walk that I need to fit in, probably after supper.

  • Complete your morning routine.

My morning routine

  1. Rise
  2. Shower
  3. Make up and hair
  4. Tidy bathroom vanity and commode
  5. Dress
  6. Tend to cats and dogs
  7. Breakfast
  8. Dishes
  9. Any other household chore that immediately catches my attention or needs dealt with.
  • Set a timer for 15 minutes and do a quick clean of your bathroom.

A quick clean of my bathroom is done every day as part of my morning routine. We only have one bathroom and if we should get unexpected company I like to be able to offer them clean facilities if the need arises. 😉

  • Clean the top of your kitchen cupboards (if there is space between them and the ceiling) and the top of your refrigerator. If you have clutter on the top of your refrigerator, go through it and see if you can get rid of it or find a new home for it. Wipe down the outside of your kitchen cupboard doors.

The bolded item is the main chore of the day, and the one Money Saving Mom suggests you accomplish if you work outside the home or have an exceptionally busy day ahead of you.

There’s no space between my cupboards and ceiling. I’ve often thought it would be a great space for conversational pieces or some sort of interesting knickknacks. After looking at the top of my neglected refrigerator I’m glad I don’t have that space after all.

I’m thinking that snack was placed there by my husband who is much taller than the rest of us here. It would seem that he’s lost his “snacky” hiding place.

  • Find 7 items to get rid of today.

I found a pile of books today…

Where are you in your journey of home organization and cleaning?

Organized Home Day 12

A clean, organized home is within reach if you follow along like I am with Money Saving Mom and her 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home challenge!

Day 12 Assignments

  • Get dressed in something that makes you feel great.

Yesterday I put on a pair of shorts and they were almost falling off all day because of weight loss. I haven’t been on the scale for a while but loose fitting clothing is a sure indication. Going through my closet this morning I found a pair that fit and a few more that were snug but that I’m holding onto because this is a trend that will continue.

  • Sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and write down today’s goals.

What do you need to get done today? I’m going to be sure to do the following before the sun sets…

  1. Finish two loads of laundry
  2. Walk 45 minutes
  3. Clean microwave, stove top and oven
  4. Vacuum and mop downstairs area
  5. Remember to apply flea and tick preparation to dogs and cats
  • Complete your morning routine.

My morning routine

  1. Rise
  2. Shower
  3. Make up and hair
  4. Tidy bathroom vanity and commode
  5. Dress
  6. Tend to cats and dogs
  7. Breakfast
  8. Dishes
  9. Any other household chore that immediately catches my attention or needs dealt with.
  • Set a timer for 15 minutes and vacuum the main living areas of your home.

This was actually done before I read today’s assignments. I’ll vacuum the furniture instead.

  • Clean your microwave, stove top, and/or oven.

My mom and dad recently remodled their kitchen and graciously gave us their stove. Our old oven element had just burned out so it was perfect timing. I find it easier to clean than the old pan under the burner stove that I had before. You have to be more careful when using the smooth glass cooktops though so you do not scratch the them.

It’s probably tough to see because of the glare, but there is something on the left front burner. I’m not the only one who cooks. It is very light and difficult to see, but probably a good idea to educate my teenager that such residue would get more difficult to remove in the future if that particular burner is used before it is cleaned properly.

The oven wasn’t too bad…

After much scrubbing of the oven glass, I came to the conclusion that some of the baked on spatter might be better dealt with when I run the oven cleaning cycle. Not having done that yet I will be sure to ask my mom for a tutorial tomorrow night. Anyway, the glass is as clean as it can get at this time and the oven was wiped clean of any lingering particles.

  • Find 7 items to get rid of today.

Where are you in your journey of home organization and cleaning?

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