Chocolate Chip Cheese Bars

Chocolate Chip Cheese Bar

January is typically the month that many resolutions are being made. Resolving to lose weight, to exercise more, read through the Bible in a year, stay in touch with loved ones….and the list goes on.

Heading the list always seems to be the weight thing. For some reason when I decide I should work on the weight issue every amazing tasting food seems to end up in front of me. I am not sure how that happens or why. Is it kind of the Murphy’s law of dieting?

I had planned to bake less this season to help with the getting healthy idea. I really did plan to do that….and then the phone rang. A neighbor gal called to ask if I would take her turn bringing lunch to Coffee Break Bible Study on Wednesday. (She was busy moving cattle with her family). Of course I said sure…..I love to bake. (I love to eat too!)

I figured it was a great time to make those bars that are really addictive. If I am baking bars like these particular bars, it is always a good idea to bake them when you need to bring most of them away. It is never a good idea to have a whole pan of these in the house with just two people.

Chocolate Chip Cheese Bars
2 cups +4 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

1 Cup butter or oleo, softened
12 Tablespoons sugar
12 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Filling:
2 8-ounce pkg. Cream Cheese

1 Cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375º
Mix flour, baking soda, and salt….Set aside
Combine butter, sugars, and vanilla
Beat in eggs; add flour mixture, and mix well
Stir in chocolate chips
Blend until creamy
Put half in bottom of 9 x 13″ pan
Then spread filling mixture over this and top with rest of cookie dough
Bake 20-30 minutes
Cool and cut
Store in refrigerator (if there are any left!)

 

These bars are from a recipe book that the employees made when I worked at a lab that produced swine vaccines. I have always told people to look for the recipes in that book that are from a woman named Ethel. If you make any of her recipes you are in for a real treat!

I have a feeling that till the bars are gone those New Year resolutions are just going to have to wait….fortunately or unfortunately it won’t be long and they will be gone. I dallied with the idea of using this post and linking it to the Daily Post photo challenge “Growth”……for the very reason that consuming too many of these bars will definitely promote growth…of the wider, not taller variety! Aaaahhhh well…..tomorrow is another day…..I guess.

If you give these bars a try let me know what you think of them…..also please feel free to share some of your favorite recipes….I am always on the lookout for a new favorite.

“Take a bite of food,
if it tastes good…..spit it out
……you can’t have it!”
An Uncle

My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people.
Orson Welles

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/orson_welles_104829?src=t_diet

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Morning Anticipation

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Today was a beautiful day! We seem to have finally turned the corner with warmer weather. We made it into the thirties today for temperatures and with the sun shining it felt downright balmy. (When thirties feel balmy…you know it has been cold!)

I went outside this morning, as the sun was coming up, to let the girls out of the coop. I wanted them to enjoy the beautiful weather as long as they could. When I stepped out of the door and actually took a look around me, I realized that I needed to go back in the house for my camera.

By the time I made it to the coop the girls were eager to get out and were all waiting for me to open the door to their run. They were not patient waiters but protested loudly that I was taking too long. I don’t think they understood just how much I was enjoying being outside, watching the sun turn the world into a twinkling shimmery place.

They had no concept of what a pleasure it was to stand there and take it all in….the haze over the river, the sparkle of the frost on the trees, the quiet of the morning waiting in expectation for the day to come.

Mornings like this one give the illusion of all things being possible. There is hushed anticipation as the world warms up and slowly awakens. Even the starlings, perched at the top of the tree in the front yard were expressing appreciation for the new day.

Days that start like this are a gift. They make me slow down and really see what a picture God has painted on the landscape.  The peace it brings is almost a tangible, touchable thing.

I never tire of the view I have been gifted with. No matter where you look there is beauty. It would seem the view is the same but there are so many subtle changes as the sun rises and sets.  The different seasons all hold a magic that turns the same landscape into such a variety of pictures.

Nature is such a reflection of life. We look like the same person but there are so many facets to each of us. Circumstances mold us much as the seasons change the landscape.  Some days we sparkle and twinkle in the sunlight and some days we seem cloaked in shadows. The wonderful thing is that no matter where we are at……it will change!

The quiet of the morning seems to grant permission to stop, be still and just absorb the moment. It gives that space of time to clear our heads, ponder thoughts and open our hearts for the blessing of a new day.

May your week be blessed with anticipation for what each day will bring. May you experience the joy of the possibilities this life holds and may this season of life find you sparkling in the sunlight.

 He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart;
yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

New Year….New Choices

New Years Eve 2017

Sometimes I wonder about that saying that goes something like this: The older you get….the wiser you get. I am not really sure that is total truth or just wishful thinking.

This past holiday weekend, I think we have been living in the deep freezer in our area of the country. When you have a high of -9º for the day, it certainly feels like a deep freezer….and when it gets to -24º, it is a certainty.

My husband and I always wonder aloud why we stay living here. I think the answer is somewhere between the fact that this is where we raised our family and this is where we are surrounded by familiar people and things.

Even with the terribly cold temperature there is the comforting thought of knowing that this weather cannot last because it never has. There is the wonderful knowing that if we survive this arctic blast…..spring and summer really are just around the corner.

I think that is what is so great about the New Year holiday. You know the weather more than likely will be extremely cold in an ugly way….but there is also the knowledge that it is the New Year and it will change. You also know that this is the start of another year to possibly do things in life better….so the weather is just an inconvenience.

New Years is kind of like a do over. It is a season of hope that if things have been bad last year….they will get better…..it is a season of realizing that you have made it through the past year and it’s challenges so there is really no reason you cannot make it through the coming year.

New Years is a promise of wonderful things to come, time to remember all the great things of the year that has just passed and choices to be made and the fact you will get to make those choices. You can choose joy in the little things over stress about things you cannot change. You get to choose to live instead of just survive. It is really an amazing gift to be able to make those choices.

Our New Years Eve party, this past year, had a theme of the Rainbow and the promises Bible coloring cardthat come with that rainbow. We did have to grin that our rainbow theme was the old-school rainbow idea that speaks of God’s love and His covenant with us…..not the new version the world has turned it into. We were asked to wear bright colors for the event.

Even though it was cold we did go to the party, and thoroughly enjoyed playing board games with colorful pieces, coloring with pencil colors, eating rainbow colored food, and spending time in great conversation with friends. We wondered about how wise we really were, heading off into the night when temperatures dropped to 20+ below! Sometimes you just have to make the choice to leave your cozy fire, brave the cold and enjoy the gift of gathering.

May this New Year bring hope, love and friends to spend time with. May you be blessed by the living of life and the days to do so. I pray your hearts are warm on the coldest of days and during the bleakest of times.   And may you choose joy in those times and life….every day of the coming year. Blessings to you in the New Year.

 

Today I choose life.
Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain…
To feel the freedom that comes from
being able to continue to make mistakes and choices
– today I choose to feel life,
not to deny my humanity but embrace it.
Kevyn Aucoin

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/kevyn_aucoin_358534?src=t_joy

 

Cousins

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My husband and I were commenting the other day and wondering why it seems to take a funeral; to get together with cousins that you have not seen in a long time. Another observation we made was how much laughter there could be at funerals.

It doesn’t seem like laughter and funerals go together but I must confess, around here they do seem to end up that way. This past week an aunt on my mom’s side passed away. She “went home” on Christmas day and her family knew she had the best Christmas ever.

We will be gathering to lay her to rest….and we will be gathering to remember the life she lived. I have a feeling there will be a lot of reminiscing with all the cousins that will be there. I also have a feeling that there will be lots of grins and laughter.

I think that at some points it will resemble a celebration of sorts. A celebration of life lived, a celebration of family gathering, a celebration of what makes family…family.

We will realize that family isn’t perfect and that is okay. We will remember the childhood nights spent at cousins’ homes and games played in those home. For those of us who grew up in our small town….we loved to go to the farm homes of our cousins.

There was always something exciting to do there. You could ride the pigs (when your uncles were not looking), you could stand on top of the cab of an old pickup in the grove and launch yourself onto a gunny sack swing and soar high into the air. There were board games to be played, games of Kick The Can and Moonlight Starlight Hope To See The Ghost Tonight.

You just knew it was a successful time when you went home in the back seat of your parents’ car feeling tired, having a cut on your shin from running into the cistern in the dark and feeling slightly sick from to much running in the heat and too much really sweet Kool-aid.

It was a carefree time to be a kid. There didn’t seem to be any big worries that we had. Some of our biggest concerns were, if we would be able to talk our folks into letting us stay overnight so we could have more time together. We also did our best to talk our folks into letting us each take a chicken home. (Even then I wanted chickens! …. and yes…we were successful on that one.)

There are so many wonderful memories of times spent with cousins on both sides of the family. I was fortunate to have a girl cousin my age on both sides. I went to school with them and spent my childhood years surrounded by cousins of all ages.

I can only hope that in the future my grandchildren will have those same close ties and connections with their cousins. I know they will be miles apart, instead of town blocks apart, but my prayer is that family ties stretch across those many miles.

I hope that someday when those future cousins meet to celebrate my “home-going” there is lots of laughter, lots of love and so many good stories to be told of time spent together at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. Time where they played games, got into a little (only a little) mischief, and made memories that will bond them together for a lifetime.

 

 

A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.
Marion C. Garretty

Cousins are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.
Ed Cunningham

Sticking Close

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I have spent the day finding my house back. By that I mean….clearing off the counters, putting away dishes used for Christmas, storing away bedding till the next time the family comes and picking up small Lego pieces from some of the oddest places.

When I got to the crate that held the nativity set I had to grin. This year we chose to let the grand-kids help set up the nativity set…..not because it was in the original plan, but because I had run out of time to get all my Christmas decorations put up this year.

As I read Luke 2, my husband handed out the pieces as they were mentioned. The virgin Mary was placed gently, by small hands, on the crate, followed by the donkey and Joseph. As the story unfolded the pieces found their way to their places. (We did realize that the wise men were not mentioned in that chapter but we gave them a spot anyway.)

For me, reading that chapter was a time I will always cherish. I got to see the events of that miraculous night, through the eyes of a child in all its’ wonder and joy. They did wonder why my set did not have the angels and the heavenly host or camels for the wise men……and I had no answer for that one. (I later headed over to Amazon and E bay to see if I could find some, but obviously my set has been long discontinued.)

The thing I noticed about the placement of those involved in the Christmas story was how very close my grandchildren had placed them together. They were all huddled as close as they could get to the baby Jesus.

Their closeness made me grin but it also made me stop and think. What if we all huddled and stuck that close to Jesus? What if we lived life with the wonder of a child and the simple faith they display? I have a feeling this world would be a much more peaceful place if that were the case.

I love all the little reminders, in my home, that my family has been here…..candy canes have disappeared off the tree.  I love the fact we had a few hours to spend all together….all at the same time. I am humbled by the grace displayed by my children and by their willingness to make this day special when we gather.

May we all “stick close” this coming year. May we all be blessed with grace and all the little reminders of those we love. Blessings to you all!

 

“While we try to teach our children all about life,
our children teach us what life is all about.” 
― Angela Schwindt

 

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you,
but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind,
your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.” 

― Frederick Buechner

 

Winter Has Arrived on Time

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This year winter seems to have actually taken a look at the calendar and agreed to abide by what it says. We had unseasonably warm weather right up until December 21. On that day, the first day of winter, the temperature dropped, the wind picked up and it started to snow.

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I really like my seasons to work out in such a tidy fashion…..usually they do not. I will have to confess that I really did hope for a white Christmas. A gentle white Christmas snow….not the horizontal type that sometimes seems to visit our part of the country….and this snow totally fit my idea of a Christmas season snowfall.

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There is beauty in the still, whiteness that snow seems to bring. There is an odd excitement in the “bite” that is in the air as I go outside to take care of the girls. Maybe it is just a primitive reaction to the elements…I am not totally sure what it is, but at this point in the year I am okay with it. I have a feeling that come the middle of February that excitement is going to be long gone!

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I enjoy looking out my patio door and seeing the smoke rise from the chimney on the old milk house. My husband hangs out there in the winter and gets it cozy warm by stoking up a wood stove. I think that milk house is his version of a man cave.

A few years ago my husband took our grandson out to the milk house with him. At that time our grandson was 3. My husband offered him peanuts in the shell. James politely refused. My husband shelled the peanuts for him thinking that might be the issue. Again….a polite refusal. My husband tried one more time and finally James told him that he did not like peanuts…..monkeys ate peanuts.

Later that year our son was out for a walk with James and they were finding acorns. My son asked him where they came from and was told from trees.  Then our son asked him where peanuts came from…..he received a very enthusiastic answer on that one. He was told, “Peanuts come from Grandpa!”

I begin to wonder if I love those first snowfalls because they bring back those fun memories of holidays with the family. Time spent with loved ones can be some of the best times. Family is truly a gift.

Those first snowfalls bring a quietness and stillness to the end of a busy day. Standing outside after locking the girls in for the night, feeling the sting of the cold on my face, and smelling the fresh winter air brings a calm to my soul.

There is a hush in that space of time in between day and night…..a silence broken only by the call of a screech owl in the grove, the lonely sounding cry of geese, the rustle of my chickens settling in for the night,  and the distant sound of a train whistle.

It is a wonderful time for reflection. It is a time to realize that there is an order to this life and to the seasons. They arrive at the perfect time every year. There is comfort in that fact and it brings a contentment to the soul to know that someone bigger than me orchestrates this life.

May you be blessed this Christmas season and may you be a blessing to those around you. May your soul find stillness and contentment in the busyness and may you have time to stand outside and let the beauty seep deep into your bones.

Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments,
embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour.
John Boswell