Checking in

Hi, y’all –

Sorry I haven’t posted yet this week. Have spent most of the last two days in doctor appointments for my big girl. Specialist appointments we’ve been waiting months for – follow ups to the illness she’s been battling since last fall. It’s been a hectic few days and we’re now processing and digesting all of the news and diagnoses we’ve been given.  Lots of follow up appointments to make and new things to adjust to.

Good news is it’s nothing dire or tragic. Not so good news is she’s got some medical issues she’ll most likely deal with for some time. However, she’s a tough girl and I know without a doubt that she will be able to, (in her Daddy’s words) “improvise, overcome and adapt”

So, I’ll be back to posting in a few days – thinking about sharing some of my favorite planner YouTube videos and I have a few more recipes in the works to share as well. Stay tuned. :)

Lois

Sorting Saturday 

  
I’m busy sorting recipes today. Getting my pile of printed recipes sorted and in binders. 

Just came across one and thought “That looks good!” (It was one of my own recipes! LOL)

If you’d be interested in seeing my recipe management system, let me know!

What are you up to today?

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

This recipe is one of my old standby recipes for whenever I’m having people over. It’s a sure-fire winner and everyone seems to love it (and most people request the recipe)  Add to that, it’s pretty simple to make and most of the ingredients I always have on hand and it’s a winner for me.

IMG_2237

It makes a 13×9 sized pan full of yummy, creamy goodness. Perfect with a cup of tea or coffee and some good friends and good conversation.

I made it just this week when I had some ladies over – and shared the leftovers with my neighbors.  Which is part of why I’m posting the recipe here – my sweet neighbor’s son requested the recipe.

It may look complicated when you first look at the recipe below, but trust me, it’s simple.  And you can have it in the oven in about 10 minutes if you have all the ingredients at room temperature when you’re ready to begin. It goes together a lot better when the cream cheese and butter are soft.

So, CB, this is for YOU!

IMG_2236

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Filling:

2 8 ounce packages of cream cheese (I use low-fat)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. of almond extract (optional)
1 egg

Cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter (softened)
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract (optional)
1 cup sour cream (you can use light or regular)

Streusel topping:

1/4 c sugar
1/4 c flour
3 Tbsp. butter (CHILLED AND CUBED)

Glaze:

1/2 c powdered sugar
3 tsp. milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Spray a 9×13 pan and set aside.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, combine the filling ingredients (use an electric mixer for the best mix possible). Set aside.
  4. In another mixing bowl, combine the cake ingredients, beginning with the butter and sugar.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time and the extracts.
  6. Finally, add the dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream.
  7. Spread half of the cake batter in the 9×13 pan.
  8. Add the cream cheese filling on top of the batter, spreading carefully with a spatula (offset spatulas work great for this)
  9. Top the cream cheese mixture with the remaining cake batter.
  10. Use a fork or spatula to “swirl” the batter/cream cheese once or twice.
  11. In another small bowl, use a pastry blender or fork (or your hand held mixer if you have a low setting) to combine the topping mixture.  Be careful not to over mix. It should look like “sandy gravel” when it’s properly combined.
  12. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the cake.
  13. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top is golden brown and the center is cooked. (You can tell by inserting a toothpick – if it comes out clean, it’s done.)
  14. Let cake cool for about an hour and make the glaze.
  15. Drizzle glaze over the cooled cake and let set before serving (if you can wait that long!)

TBT: The Best of Thoughts Along Life’s Highway

I’ve been writing this blog for a loooooong time.

I’ve got over 1500 posts out here. That’s a lot of memories! A lot of recipes! A lot of stories!

So, I thought for “throwback Thursday” I’d share with you some of the “best of” posts from the past issues of Thoughts Along Life’s Highway – things I found interesting or humorous or recipes worth revisiting.

Here’s this week’s suggested reading: If you have to ask… (Notes from the Landlord Chronicles)

Feel free to make suggestions if there’s a post you particularly like and think I should share.

IMG_2225_thumb.jpg

Planner Girl: August Update

As you may have already surmised from a few previous posts and hints, I’m a planner junkie. An unapologetic planner addict.  Have been for as long as I can remember.  When I was growing up my favorite part of back-to-school was the school supply shopping – all those pretty stationary supplies on the shelves! (be still my heart!)

When I started working full-time, I graduated to a “professional” planner – a Franklin Covey brand.  Loved writing down my daily schedule, my to-do list, tracking meetings and notes, etc.

In the past year or so I’ve been enjoying the plethora of planning supplies available on the market. I’ve tried several different planners – from ring bound, coil bound, even designing my own pages a couple of times.

I thought I’d share with you the latest iteration of what I’m using on a daily basis – a personal size ring bound planner.

IMG_0256

My binder is a DayTimer that I bought used from another planner junkie. I love the buttery softness of the leather. It’s just the perfect size for portability – fits into my tote when I’m on the go.

Here’s the inside – I made a cute cover page and laminated it to protect the other papers inside. The back of the page has some post-its stuck to it to have handy if I need them on the go.

IMG_2230

The little quote/photo is my motto. I love it – and it’s perfect for the work-from-home gal.  And the Abominable Snowman! LOVE!

IMG_2231

In the little zipper pouch I’ve got some of my favorite stickers (monsters!) and some extra post-its, paper clips, etc.  Handy to have when I’m on the go.

The inserts I’m currently using are from Cocoa Daisy – I love the colorful pages. I just started using them a few weeks ago so I’m still getting used to the layout, but so far they’re working pretty well.

There are weekly pages and daily to-do pages. I’m only using the weekly pages right now. I didn’t feel like I needed the daily ones. I’m using the back of the prior week for my weekly task list and I cross off completed items with my blue highlighter. I love that technique as it makes the remaining tasks really pop off the page.

IMG_2228

These inserts have a monthly theme. August’s theme was macaroons. Cute and colorful. Very perky for the dog days of summer.

IMG_2227

For the weekly overview page, I write down any big weekly events and also my menu plan. Since it rests alongside my task list it gives me a quick view of what’s coming and what I need to be aware of as I’m making plans.

Once you turn the page, you open up to the weekly spread:

IMG_2229

I’m using a combination of stickers, post-its and stamps.  The stamps are for recurring things like my vitamins/medicine, etc. and I’m using post-its to make the timed events stand out.

Here’s another week – this week – and I added my weekly menu plan and blog post planning to the To-Do page. (those To-Do flags I made)

IMG_2226

And this is this week’s spread:

IMG_2225

Some of the other items you see here (like my “Plan” clip and heart clip and the 3×4 card) are from the Planner Society monthly kit.  The August colors of the Cocoa Daisy kit matched almost perfectly with the August colors of the Planner Society kit.

Most of my stamps are from Studiol2e stamp sets.

The monthly view pages are a free download from the Cocoa Daisy website… Too cute.

IMG_2232

I’m not really big on decorating – which is part of why I like these pages. They’re inherently cute without me having to put a lot of stuff on the page. I can use my stamps and stickers to highlight important items – and not get distracted by a lot of other decoration on the page.

So, that’s what I’m using THIS month! (ha!) Who knows what next month will bring? I’ve got the Cocoa Daisy September pages as well, and right now I’m planning to use those. But we will see… we will see…

 

(If you decide to try out the Cocoa Daisy inserts, would you let them know I referred you? You can use my email: lois.houston1@gmail.com THANKS!)

Monday Morning Musings

Happy Monday,  y’all.

It’s a quiet Monday here – one girl is off to school and one girl is in bed recovering from a weekend “boot camp” church retreat. Came home sick with a cold and no voice. She’s going on 13 hours of sleep right now. But I think it was worth it, given the stories she shared yesterday before she crashed – stories she told with a hoarse whisper, her voice gone from congestion, late nights and lots of singing and shouting. Stories of faith, of friendship and of precious memories that were made.

 

One of the other moms we waited with yesterday – watching for the parade of buses to pull into the church parking lot – mentioned that she realized Saturday night that her son was making memories all of his own for the very first time. Memories that she couldn’t share with him. It resonated with me and I thought about that last night as my girl chose what to share with us – and as I heard the gaps in the stories that were most likely not intentionally kept from us, but just not part of what she chose to share.

 

It’s bittersweet. This growing up thing.

I’m so proud of my girls and the young women they are becoming.

I love watching them realize they have thoughts and opinions of their own – and helping them to sort through those (and learn that it’s OK if they differ from ours)

I love seeing them stepping out into unknown things (like a weekend church retreat) and embracing the challenges and emerging successful.

While my young one was off on her adventures this weekend, the big one was hanging out with us.  She went to church with us on Saturday night to volunteer at an event – and the staff loved her and begged me to bring her back. They were so appreciative of her willingness to serve and to dive in and do whatever was needed.

 

And on Sunday morning I fought back tears of pride as I watched her dive into a mess – a borderline special needs little boy who was having a “moment” – and respond with kindness, compassion and grace.  She calmed him down, loved on him, and provided him a safe place to recover his dignity. And then she stayed close to make sure he was OK for the rest of the hour we were with him.  I started to intervene and as I saw that she had it under control I just stepped back and let her go.  That’s her gift – relating to kids with special needs – and she is really good at it.  She loves them, and they love her.  And I’m so proud of her for what she does with them.

So, this Monday morning, as I sit here and sip my tea and look out at the dewy front yard, I’m reflecting on my two girls – no longer my babies, but young women coming into their own.  And I’m thinking of how blessed we are and wondering how in the heck they turned out like this.  You know what I mean? Super Man and I were talking last night about how so much of parenting is an experiment – you do what you think is right at the time but you never really know.  The result is often years ahead of you. You just say a prayer and hope the choices YOU make in the moment help THEM to make the right choices themselves when the time comes.

It’s the hardest job I’ll ever have.

It wears you out and breaks your heart.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

On the Needles: UFO Edition

I’ve got several (!) works-in-progress going right now.

There are a few pairs of socks that are not only suffering from second-sock-syndrome but from finishing-first-sock-syndrome.  I ran out of knitting mojo when my big girl got so sick last winter and they linger unfinished in my knitting tote.  One day, hopefully soon, they’ll get pulled back out and finished.

Socks are great on-the-go projects because they take up so little room in your purse or tote and are relatively mindless, until you get to the heel, that is.

In addition to the socks, I’ve got a few other projects on the needles.  There’s the lavender tank I started over Spring Break and never got past that week of knitting.  And a cowl I started a few weeks ago (and am actively working on) – I’m not in love with the pattern, but I’m looking forward to the bright pop of pink in my wardrobe in the dreary days of winter next year.

IMG_2166

The finished object looks lovely. The pattern is just, well, not exciting. But it is good mindless knitting to do when you’re watching TV or hanging out with the family. (and frankly, mindless knitting is about all I’m capable of right now)

I’m also working on a vest. Rather ambitious, I know, as I’m not one for finishing big projects (see tank project above) but I’m really excited about the possibility of actually finishing and wearing this one. Vests are all the rage right now and this is one of those with the kimono-style lines that I think are flattering on anyone.  The kids have already been eyeing it… Uh, no. If Mama finishes it, Mama wears it!

IMG_2167

It’s another mindless project (so far) – just knit, knit, knit until what seems like forever.

It’s a two piece project you put together – I THINK I’m working on the back right now.  (checks pattern) Yes, I am.  I’m liking the color changes/striping that is happening.  The yarn is a silk/cotton blend. Not the slippiest yarn around and I’m thankful I have stainless needles as I wrastle with the yarn. I’m using this project to practice my continental knitting. Stretching those muscles and straining the brain cells.

Now, If I could just figure out how to knit and walk I could get my exercise in at the same time! Have you seen people that do that? I’m amazed. And the marathon runners who knit totally boggle my mind. I can barely walk and think at the same time. Adding knitting to the mix would probably cause my brain to seize up and reboot.

Well, that’s what I’ve got going right now – or at least what’s “active” in the knitting bag.  There’s a bunch of other projects I’ve been thinking about but I’m trying to exercise some self-control and limit my UFOs a bit.