One Great Cheeseball

Have you ever stumbled upon a recipe, and you make it because at the moment the recipe fits the occasion you are making it for and it’s easy so it’s a win-win?

So the occasion for me was my daughter’s birthday party and instead of having a meal like my son picks (one year it was a Mexican feast, the past two years it’s been a chili supper) she chose just to have snack foods.  Not wanting just bowl after bowl of chips, I decided to look up some cheese balls.

I went with 2 different cheese balls – one was made with cream cheese and a funfetti cake mix (3 weeks later this is still sitting in my refrigerator – awaiting it’s trip to the curb on this weeks trash day).  The other was simply fabulous.  There was about 3 bites left when her party was over and my husband ate those last few.  It was a Bacon Ranch Cheese ball and not only did it taste heavenly – but it was super easy to make too.

I found the recipe on Pinterest and here is the link:  http://centslessdeals.com/bacon-ranch-cheese-ball/.

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The recipe has 4 ingredients.  You soften 2 boxes of cream cheese, mix them with a hand mixer, add a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dry seasoning mix, mix some more.  Add a 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese and a 1/2 cup of bacon bits (I used the Hormel bits you can buy in a bag already crumbled) and mix some more (the recipe states you can use green onion as well – but I’m not big on onions so I opted to leave it out – but if you love onions – go for it!).

Once the cream cheese, ranch dressing, cheese and bacon bits are all mixed together, I form into a ball and refrigerate for 2 hours.  Then I take the cheese ball and roll it in the remaining bacon bits in the bag (I purchase a 4+ ounce bag and ended up using the entire bag for 1 cheese ball).

Now for the next step – EATING IT!  I used Keebler Pita Crackers – plain with Sea Salt and loved them.  Keebler Toasted crackers – Sesame tastes really good too.

I made this tonight for a surprise birthday party my sister had for her significant other and once again it was a hit.  Best part is it’s easy to rattle off how to make the cheese ball when people ask because there are not a ton of ingredients to remember.

So if you are having a get together big or small – try making the Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball, it tastes great and it’s easy to make – and that’s always a plus!  If you have a quick and easy appetizer, feel free to share with us in the comments!

 

Becky’s Book Review: “My (Not So) Perfect Life”

I love to read, so as a monthly feature I’m going to attempt to write a book review.  If you have read the book – by all means please make a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

My first book is by an author whose books I love!  Her name is Sophie Kinsella and about a month ago I was lucky enough to put a hold on her latest book, “My (Not So) Perfect Life”, and get it fairly quickly.  At the time I hadn’t realized it had just come out.  But as is the case with all of Ms. Kinsella’s books, I couldn’t put it down.

The Plot

Her character’s are always those I can relate too.  In this book, Katie (aka “Cat”) reminded me a great deal of myself.  Though I am American and not British, her yearning to live in London reminded me so much of my own dream of living in New York City (though I can see the charm of London, I went on a trip there exactly 27 years ago this very day with my school – and it is one of my all time favorite places).  Katie, though broke, was trying to live the dream (I can honestly say I never achieved my goal of living in NYC, at least not yet.  I would have rather enjoyed experiencing the town I lived in rather than having to work 3 jobs just to pay for a studio apartment).

I am not going to go into all kinds of detail as I don’t want to spoil the story for someone who does want to read it – but life doesn’t go as planned for Katie, and though she isn’t exactly honest with those who love and think the world of her, she lands on her feet in a way only Katie can do.

My Thoughts

This book had moments when you were cheering Katie on, tsk-ing her as she did something that you weren’t really proud of her doing, and smiling as she found out there really is no place like home, even if you want home to be some place new.

It also made a great point that I have always found interesting when I am perusing my own social media accounts.  If I’m having a bad day and wish to moan and groan I find myself stopping and deleting the letters.  I can’t let the world know that I’m having a bad day.  What happens if people realize my life isn’t all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows?

This is what this book is about – realizing that people’s reality is nothing what you see posted on the internet.

Why I Love Books by Sophie

My favorite part of reading any Sophie Kinsella book is how entertaining they are.  Doesn’t matter which book you are reading – from my favorite “Can You Keep a Secret”? to my next favorite of “Twenties Girl” (have tissues ready) they are wonderful books you can read time and time again without the explicitness other chick lit books provide.  She writes about real life and though some of the funny moments I hope never happen to me, we all have these moments in life that we recall years later that make us chuckle.

I find that Ms. Kinsella writes about real life in a way that is fun and not so stuffy and negative.  Her characters are like real people, friends who come into your life for a few hundred pages and honestly don’t want them to leave.

Oh did I mention the downside of these books?  You want to find out what happens, but at the same time you don’t want them to end.

If you have a book you would like to recommend I read and review – please let me know in the comments.  If you have read “My (Not So) Perfect Life” let me know what you think!

The Best Ever Quote

Best Project Ever

While seeking out motivational quotes on Pinterest tonight, this quote stood out to me like lightning bolts from the sky.  How can you not like it?  It is just the best quote ever!

I mean EVER!

As with most of the world, I began 2017 with a goal of losing weight.  Yes, it’s a topic I’ve touched on (I think groaned on is a better way of describing it) from time to time.  I am overweight, and I really need to do something about it.  But I think one of my biggest issues is that I attempt to lose weight for all the wrong reasons.  I think it’s to be healthier, and I truly wish to feel better, but it’s also so I can look as good as one of my friends who lost like 60 pounds a couple of years ago and looks phenomenal.

But that carrot isn’t enough of an enticement to have me stick to exercising each day (could it be because I dislike carrots – and most everything else that is orange?). Another problem is I start off eating okay – but then I succumb to temptation with hardly any fight.  It’s like I am waving the white flag before the said temptation even makes any demands.

So I keep trying to find motivation.

One way was by re-installing my tracker that my mom bought me a couple of years ago from Sparkpeople.  I love my Sparkpeople tracker – but while in the midst of re-loading it onto my computer, it turned out that the company that created the sync-er was going out of business so their tracker wasn’t going to work anymore (okay – sidebar – I am still wrapping my head around this – for all the time I used my tracker – it synced fine – but why if the business decided to go under does it mean that my tracker is no longer going to work?  I just don’t get it.  Wouldn’t my sync-er still sync?).  What was worse was that even though the last day for my tracker to work was February 21 – it wouldn’t let me complete the re-installation of my tracker.  Nothing.

So I signed up to get the $10 gift card they offered to those with Sparkpeople trackers so they could purchase a new one.  I had to wait until February 13 – and when I got it I purchased a new tracker right away.  Cost me all the way to $8 additional dollars (including shipping) because I had seen this one when I was checking out the store on My Fitness Pal – and they had a Jawbone UP Move.  It is very simple to use.  It tracks my steps and my sleep.  No flights of steps like my mothers FitBit, just steps (which is what my Sparkpeople did – however it was waterproof too – which worked great for the Water Fitness classes I loved to take at our local Natatorium, but we aren’t members presently so I guess I’m not missing out on anything).

My goal is 6,500 steps a day.  I think I’ve done it twice in the almost month I’ve had the device.  Having an office job is a struggle at times as it’s difficult remembering to get up and walk around at least every hour on the hour (if not more frequently).  I do what I can – but I can honestly say that makes a huge difference.

I’m trying to exercise more regularly too.  I started doing Leslie Sansone’s Walk It Off In 30 Days DVD where you Walk 30 (30 minutes of cardio exercise of walking) and Firm 30 (30 minutes of strength training).  Last week the pain got me good.  But I slacked off by the weekend.  This week I’m determined to last – and so I began my 30 days this past Monday.  I will do it!

But it all starts with a beginning.  It is all a series of baby steps.  It’s all about making good choices.  And today my choice is simple:  The best project I’ll ever work on is me (well, and my kids too).

Let’s motivate each other one day at a time!

 

Getting My Geek On

One of the best parts of working on my family history has been trying to find out if any of my relatives fought in the Revolutionary War.  You see, I share my birthday with George Washington and he has become my big hero in life.  I love George.  He had his flaws but he had the hardest job of all presidents, trying to run the country without seeming like a king.  I always imagined that this had to be extremely difficult.

So this has been my thing, searching on various sides of my family, I found I had relatives from the French & Indian War, but then seemed to be too old or too young to have fought during the Revolution.  And then I started on my Grandma’s side of the family and low and behold my Great Great Great Great Great Grandfather joined the Patriot cause and was stationed in Virginia.  He apparently saw no action outside of Virginia – but did partake in the Battle of Yorktown.  He was apparently there when Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington. (As a history geek – this had me on Cloud 9).

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http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/revolut/jb_revolut_yorktown_1_e.html

So that is what has been keeping my busy.  Trips to the library using Ancestry Library Edition and just trying to keep all the families and their members organized.

I’ve learned that not all finds have happy endings.  My Great Grandmother’s youngest brother had 13 children, and it appears that 4 of them died in a house fire back in 1939.  So sad.  Apparently, they were trying to build a fire in a stove and the coal oil exploded.  I found 2 of the death certificates online and it just breaks your heart.  One was 10, the other 2, and so far I’ve not found any information to figure out if the 2 that I have no information on were in the fire or not.  Hoping that I find their information elsewhere, and making the casualties be just two.

Here is to continued searches and a hope of finding more happy endings than sad ones.

 

Happy 2017!

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I am so looking forward to this new year.  I’m focusing on becoming a healthier me as I’ve gained a few more pounds and discovered with most foods I eat, I just feel plain lousy.  So this seems to be the day.  It’s a Sunday and the beginning of a new journey.

So as part of my journey of health – I’m going to be focusing on eating fruit and veggies every day and to try to eliminate processed foods from my diet.  As much as my taste buds love Cheez-It’s Classic Snack Mix – about an hour later I feel just icky.  I’m trying to follow the advice my body is giving me and maybe we’ll feel better.

I’m going to continue to focus on my family history.  My long lost family members I found here in the same town I grew up in I will be meeting with this new year to get stories about family.  So excited!

Contemplating a reading challenge. A few years back I read 60 books, contemplated 75, but sometimes that takes up so much time and energy.  We’ll see.  But I do want to read more.

And of course – trying to get myself (and by extension my husband) out of debt.  We can do this.  Our willpower just has to be so much better than it is.

Organization is another on-going goal for me.  But lately even I’ve been feeling claustrophobic from some of the stock piled junk.  January – look out!

My last goal is to blog once or twice a week.  I really do enjoy sharing my thoughts and finds with the world.

What are your goals for 2017 – share in the comments below!!!  Good luck!

Days 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8

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So I fell behind last week on Day 3 as my daughter was using my computer for her homework.  Day 4 had me up in the attic scrapbooking, my first time in over a year.  Day 5 had me hiking all day with the family – 3 hikes actually, 2 new for hubby and I, 1 repeat for the kids to catch up; followed by a surprise birthday for my husband’s grandfather.  Day 6 had us hiking another new hike while we then had dinner at my parents house for my sisters birthday. Day 7 I was in the midst of a migraine that began at 10:30am and didn’t leave until around noon today.

So I guess you could say I have some catching up to do.

So for Day 3 – I am grateful for technology which allowed my sweet girl the opportunity to do research and complete notes for her class by turning on a computer and heading to her teacher’s website.  This same technology is what gives me the opportunity to write this blog.  Technology changes the way we live each and every day – often for the better, sometimes not so much.

Day 4 – I’m grateful for friendship and the choices my children have made in finding a wonderful set of people to be friends with this year.  My son has always yearned to have good buddy and this year, starting a new school, changed his world.  My daughter, who just loves to be liked, seems to have overcome some obstacles and found good, solid girls who she can confide in.

Day 5 – the Summit County Metro Parks and the awesome trails we have here and their incredible hiking spree that is in it’s 52nd year.  This is my fifth year in completing the hiking spree.  I say 5th as I only have 1 hike left that I have to do and I know I will get it done before November 30.  Each year to get a shield for the hiking spree you have to hike 8 different trails.  I love to hike – it’s my favorite way to exercise and this past weekend you couldn’t have asked for better weather – sunny and 65 – perfect!

Day 6 – Thankful for my kids not being too big to give me tons of cuddles!

Day 7 – Thankful that there was only one day left to watch really awful election commercials and that hopefully the mudslinging will all disappear within 2 days.

Day 8 – Grateful for the right to vote.  So many countries do not have this freedom, and though this year didn’t give me a candidate that I felt very passionate about – I went out and exercised my right to vote in this all-important year.

What are you grateful for?  Hopefully I’ll have another update tomorrow!

 

Day 2 – 30 Days of Gratitude

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For Day 2 of my 30 Days of Gratitude I’m thankful for all my ancestors before me.  As a person who has begun seriously working on my Family Tree in August while I was on vacation, I have found it interesting finding the interesting tidbits of information I didn’t know.  Like having relatives right where I live that I never knew existed (I really need to contact them too).

But in learning about people – such as how my Great Grandmother was married 3 times in 6 years (just so you know, she was married to her third husband until he passed in the 1970’s), but while searching for the information on where my Great Grandmother lived while married and single, I saw that she lived with her own mother most of the time.  While doing this I am assigning demeanors to my ancestors, finding that my Great Great Grandmother Mazie must have been compassionate, because she took in her daughter and her daughter (my grandmother) despite the failed marriages, and my Great Grandmother and her final husband lived with Mazie and her 2nd Husband, Samuel, the first year of their marriage.

On the flip side, I hear stories of my Grandfather, from snippets I remember my Grandmother told me, and now stories that my dad has told me, and I realize how what some have described as “stubborn” now has me realizing that I just don’t think he was a very nice man.  I hear that he loved me to pieces and whenever he came over it wasn’t long before he found a way to sneak into my room and wake me up as he couldn’t wait to see me, but there’s a line between being stubborn and being kind – and I just think he wasn’t kind.  Getting into a snit with your sister and never even seeing her before she passed away from cancer in my world is a horrible thing.

So I’m grateful for my ancestors – and if I’m right, I want to be a little more like Mazie and a little less Leroy (sadly, my own temperament has been compared to his in the past – where this once made me proud, now I’m not so sure).

I’m also grateful to the libraries and the many ways available to allow a girl from Northeast Ohio to be able to dig into her Family Tree as years ago information I find in a matter of minutes could have taken me weeks to obtain back in the day.  How others did it I have no idea – as I know I’m not always the most patient of people.

So today I’m happy for the past – as I wouldn’t be here otherwise – what are you grateful for?

 

 

Day 1 – 30 Days of Gratitude

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So today is November 1st.  Where has the year gone?  It seems like it just flew by and before we know it 2017 will be underway.

I am going to attempt to do 30 Days of Gratitude again this year.  Last year I started and then quickly faded.  But not this year.  This year I am going to aim for all 30 days, or at least until Thanksgiving – I guess it all depends on how badly I am struggling for things to be thankful for by the big holiday.

So today is day 1 – and I’m going to start off with one that I hardly ever do – I am thankful for me. I often forget that I can be grateful for myself.  Without me I’d have no kids, I’d have no home.  Without me I’d have nothing to be grateful for – so I’m starting with myself first.

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I’m grateful I can be a little on the paranoid side from time to time making all those around me feel a little crazy too.  I’m grateful that I have the ability to be a good cook (thanks to Miss Neal, my mother, my grandmother, and the knack of picking interesting recipes on Pinterest).  I’m grateful for my constant battle of trying to live a happier, more complete life – where I am trying to see the glass as half full as opposed to half empty. And I’m grateful for my constant attempt at trying to lose weight – despite my constant failure.

I guess I’m grateful that despite not being a perfect individual I know I’m a work in progress.  Constantly trying to improve in areas that need it and knowing that if I don’t I’ll be okay.

So day 1 is in the books – let’s see what I’ll be grateful for tomorrow.  What are you grateful for?

A New Floor

This weekend my husband decided to install the dining room floor that we purchased easily 6-8 years ago.

If you haven’t guessed, hubby is a bit of a procrastinator.  10-1/2 years into our kitchen remodel – he is almost done.  I joke that I’ll be wanting to change the décor by the time it’s actually completed.  I laugh.  He doesn’t.

But this weekend he and his friend worked diligently and got the dining room floor finished.  It looks beautiful!

Here’s a shot from his iPad – a new floor and a new beginning!  Woo Hoo!

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Getting Crafty

Evening Peeps!

The temperatures here in Northeast Ohio are finally getting cooler and it has given me the opportunity to start picking up in my attic a bit so I can once again scrapbook.  I began this hobby a handful of years ago when I went to a crop at my Aunt Barb’s house.  I had never done any sort of scrapbooking before but I went to her house with a kit my mother had purchased for me a few years before, and there my creativity sprung to life and I was hooked.

Until about 2 years ago when life seemed to take over and I just stopped.  Sadly it also coincided with when my mother purchased herself a spiffier Silhouette cutting tool and gave me her old one.  This was bad.  My mother has been unhappy that I haven’t jumped at the chance to use the machine.  The few times I have tried it’s been a disaster. But as with everything else in life, I have a Pinterest board I’ve started that will hopefully teach me the basics and allow me to use the Silhouette along with my other scrapbooking tools.

I’m still quite interested in working on my Family Tree.  Here I discovered I had relatives living right here in town that I had never ever met.  When I discovered this last week I couldn’t wait to get to my parents house the next morning (I take the kids over there in the morning and hang out until it’s time to take my son to school) and tell my dad that I had found his cousin.  I was like bursting.

And then he shocked me.  “Yes, I knew Viola lived here.  I bumped into her when I was doing an inspection in the mid-90’s, she was an executive secretary.”

Really?  The only relatives I knew of on my dad’s side of the family were in Johnstown, PA and Flagstaff, AZ.  He went on to clear up some of the mystery surrounding his Aunt.  Like my Great-Great Grandmother Mazie on my mother’s side of the family, my dad’s Aunt Genevieve seemed to elude me on his side.  I saw where she got married just day’s before my Great-Grandfather passed away (he worked in the mines and he was crushed), moved to Akron, had 2 girls, her first husband passed, I knew from her mother’s obituary she had re-married, and that she lived in Akron until her death in 1964 at the age of 54.  But I couldn’t find why she died so young.

When I discovered her daughter living so near, I was ecstatic thinking they could supply these answers.  And maybe they will supply photos so I can find out what Genevieve looked like (so curious as my Grandmother always spoke so fondly of her).  But here she passed from cancer. I am fairly certain my dad didn’t know what type of cancer, just that she had gotten sick a few months after she fell out of favor with my Grandfather, and he was very stubborn and he refused to speak to her.  They were close in age (she was born in 1910, he in 1911) and he apparently never went and saw her while she was sick.  My dad, who was in the Navy, took my Grandma to see her when he was on leave, and that was the last time my Grandma had the opportunity to see Genevieve.

As excited as I get learning about my distant family, it’s amazing how happy I am one minute about a find and how sad I can be the next when I find out more background information.

Tomorrow I’m taking a class at the library about the basics of working on a Family Tree, just in case there is some major thing I should be doing that I’m not.  Then my husband is planning on spending the afternoon at his Aunt’s and I may take my time and utilize some of the software that the library offers free of charge.  One is Ancestry Library Edition – as long as you are in the library it’s free to use.  I love it as it gets me what I need without having to spend a monthly fee!  And it’s nice for me as our local library is just about 9 blocks away so I drive down after dinner and try to find the information I need as Ancestry has access to some of the information that it’s a little vaguer when using the free FamilySearch.org.  I like using it though, as my cousin who does live in Flagstaff is a member of the Latter Day Saints so I hope that eventually I’ll find more information because she has worked on the family tree in the past herself!

So I will try to be a better blogger.  I often have thought about what I wanted to write – but then my children get on my computer and by the time they go to bed, I head their myself shortly afterwards because I’m so exhausted from waking up every day at 5:30 in the morning.

Wishing everyone a wonderful evening!