food · through my camera lens

Grandma’s Shortbread Cookies– Fantastic Bake Along

I have seen AJ at A Petite Slice of Life participate int he Fantastic Bake Along, on It’s a T-Sweet Day. for so many months. This time I decided to join in the fun!

They post a recipe for everyone to follow. You bake the recipe during the week and then post your results on your own blog on Saturday. It’s that easy.

This month’s recipe was Grandma’s Shortbread Cookies. This recipe had 4 ingredients… seemed fool proof to me… yeah I should have know that wasn’t the case, but hey whatever.

So I started baking.

Grandma’s Shortbread Cookies

  • 1/2 c corn starch
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 c AP flour
  • 3/4 c. softened butter
  1. sift corn starch, flour and sugar
  2. mix in butter with a wooden spoon until blended into a soft dough
  3. form into the shape you want
  4. bake 300 for 15-20 min until the edges start to brown
  5. cool on a wire rack

I decided to add a tsp of cinnamon to give them a bit more flavor. I also rolled the cookies in cinnamon sugar

When I mixed my dough it didn’t form anything…. it was a flaky powder mess. I ended up adding another 1/4 cup of butter and then it finally came together. I don’t know what happened it seemed as if there was WAY too much dry to the butter ratio.

So I tossed the dough into the fridge for 15 min and then I was able to manipulate it enough to create cookies.

I made one batch as rolled cookies and a smaller batch of slice and bake style.

The first batch was not even close to browning at the 15 min mark. They also had spread out too much. I should have started by adding a tablespoon of butter at a time to see if I could bring the dough together instead of just jumping into adding the extra 1/4 cup.

 

The cookies spread sooo much. Then the strange thing was they were a crumbly mess and were falling apart when I tried to take them off the silpat. I guess this attempt was a flop for me… oh well I tried!

I hope everyone else had better luck than me. Please go check out the other bloggers who tried out this recipe!

 

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book · reviews

The Patchwork Bride- book review

This week when I was at the library I quickly picked up on book and then couldn’t decide what to get for my second book. I wanted a few different books, but they were not available.

I was looking through the “to be restocked” carts for a book that Colby wanted and happened upon The Patchwork Bride, by Sandra Dallas. I’m not sure what caught my attention, the cover is pretty plain and I had no clue what the story would be about from the title, but I picked it up anyway.

When we got home, I decided to dive into this book first. I just finished reading it.

Ellen is working hard on finishing up the bridal quilt she is making for her granddaughter June, when June shows up on her doorstep. June has run-away. She left her fiance. She left her family who was planning the wedding. She ran to the comfort of her grandparent’s farm. When June was a child she loved spending summers at this farm, and felt this was the place to go and seek comfort.

Ellen decides to tell June the story of a girl, Nell, who ran away from not one but three weddings.

Nell lived with her grandparents on their farm in Kansas. She did not see any ideal options for men to marry in the town she lived in, so she left Kansas and went to live with her aunt Lucy in the New Mexico Territory. She lived and worked on the Rockin’ A as a hired girl. She learned to live the life on the ranch and handler not only her chores but working side by side with the hired hands. There Nell meets “Buddy” who she plans to marry, but Buddy breaks her heart and she runs away home to Kansas.

She then decides to travel to again. Twice more she meets men who ask for her hand in marriage. Twice again she realizes that this isn’t meant to be.

Will Nell ever find the man of her dreams. Will she find a man to marry her so she doesn’t have to become an “old spinster” living in someone else’s house? Will this story help June with her crisis of heart?

I encourage you to read this realistic historical fiction book. It is set back in the 1890s when life was very different for women and the country. It was an easy read, and very romantic at time (not smut at all just good old fashion romance). I would not call this story a romance novel, but more of a real life story.

I didn’t want to put it down when I got to the end of the book. I was happy with the ending even if I had already picked up on the direction it was taking. It is a good read and I would encourage you to read it too!

food · family · life

Routines and changes

Life has settled back into  our summer routine. I’m starting to work on the boy’s sleep schedule. On Monday they start back into theater camp. That means they need to be up and moving to be out the door to be at camp at 9am. There have been days this summer where Colby didn’t get up until 10am. What is going to happen when he’s a teen if he does this at 10?

I got the boys up today at 8am and we did a workout. We did a 25 min cardio and then a 5 min abs. Richard and I are starting a new workout routine on Monday and the boys say they want to do it too… lets see if we can all get up and moving to do it.

The boys and I are also going to the grocery store today. We worked on the menu last night… fish tacos (I made homemade coleslaw for this), ribs with corn, homemade pizza (I am making pizza dough we will see what we have with it), grilled chicken and sweet potato, taco Tuesday!, grilled tuna steaks and fruit plate, meatballs. Friday is the boy’s play (Frozen again)

Hard to believe in about a month the boys will be going back to school. They start back on Aug 23rd. Blake will be a 6th grader and Colby a 5th grader. Time to get back into routines. Getting up in the morning. Eating breakfast (Colby doesn’t eat it on the days he sleeps in late), having simpler healthy dinners.

family · food · reviews · through my camera lens

Good and Plenty and Issac’s – restaraunts

Ok, I said I was done posting about the trip, but then I realized I took pictures at two restaurants to why not share that info too?

The days we were at Hersey we ate breakfast at the hotel and lunch and dinner inside Hershey. Monday and Thursday we ate dinner at the hotels. We stayed at Homewood Suites for both locations. They have a decent breakfast and Monday-Thursday most Homewood Suites have some type of “evening reception” which while it isn’t a full meal is enough to make do.

On Friday, we ate both lunch and dinner out at restaurants. For lunch, we walked over to Issac’s. It was in the same plaza at the ChooChoo Barn. Blake and Colby had build your own sandwiches. Blake had ham and provolone. Colby had turkey, bacon and cheese. Richard had the pterodactyl–  Smoked ham, Genoa salami, melted provolone and Swiss, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, vinaigrette, French bread. I had the magpie– Grilled chicken breast, melted provolone and Parmesan, bacon, spinach, pesto, ranch, flatbread.

For dinner we went to the Good and Plenty. Ok this is a true tourist trap, but a must do once in your life. This is said to be “authentic Dutch Cooking”.  The food is served family style, Each day they have fried chicken, 2 other proteins, corn, another vegetable, mashed potatoes and so much more. Appetizers were bread with fresh butter, cottage cheese, apple butter, apple sauce, chow chow (a pickled veggie combo) and pepper cabbage. Dinner was fried chicken, pot roast, ham loaf (think meat loaf with ham… it was strange I tried a bite), corn, peas, mashed potatoes, and noodles. Desert was cheesecakes, shoo fly pie, cracker pudding (graham cracker, coconut pudding… very strange taste and texture), cheery pie and ice cream (chocolate, vanilla and orange sherbet).

family · life · through my camera lens

Strasburg Trains

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When Blake was little he began watching Thomas the Train and liked Thomas a lot. Colby didn’t just like Thomas and trains, he LOVED them. When they were younger we went to a Day Out with Thomas two years in a row. Colby was beyond excited to ride the rails.

While they have outgrown Thomas, Colby still loves trains. He gets so excited every year when we put the train around our Christmas tree.

So when we were planning the trip to Hershey we knew we’d need to extend the trip and go to Strasburg PA. There we went to Strasburg Rail Road and the Rail Road Museum of Pennsylvania, they are across the street from each other. At the Strasburg Rail Road, we went to the Hostling Tour which meant we were up early to see them prep the steam engine for the day.  We got go inside the engine to see them working on stoking the fire. The boys even got to ride in the engine. Then we went on a train ride and rode in the lounge car.

Then we went across the street to see the Train Museum. This was an impressive collection of train items including engines, train cars, cabooses, as well as items that were used on the trains. The pictures below are panorama of the inside collection of trains taken from the overlook.

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This is just a fraction of the photos from this day. I had so much fun taking pictures of the trains.

book · reviews

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder– book review

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (Hannah Swensen series Book 1)I guess I’ve been in the food + mystery = good read thinking at the library lately. I posted about two food related mysteries here and here. I love reading book series and was looking for the book Peach Pies and Alibis which is the one after Pies and Prejudice, but they didn’t have it on the shelf in the library. Sooooo I picked up the first in a different food mystery series. Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, by Joanne Fluke.  This book became a Hallmark Mysteries movie, I guess I’ll have to find that although I doubt it will be as good as the book. Plus the main character in the story had curly red hair and they have Alison Sweeny on the cover with blonde hair… ummm something is a miss there people.

Hannah moved back to her home town after her father passed away. Her sister was struggling to help their mother while trying to raise her daughter. Hannah left a life of school and academia and ended up opening her own cookie store “The Cookie Jar”. One morning before she opened her store for business she stumbled upon a murder! The milkman was late delivering her shipment and Hannah went out back to see if he was there, only to find him dead in his milk truck. Hannah’s brother-in-law, Bill, just passed his detective test and is ready to solve his first murder. Can Hannah help Bill solve the mystery?

This wasn’t a really deep book, but still a good read. I picked up another book in this series at the library yesterday. I couldn’t get the second one… what’s up with the second book in the mysteries all being MIA?

family · food · life · through my camera lens

Transition Vacation Day

Have you been following along with my travel posts? I posted the last three days about our time in Hershey Park. You can read about it here, here and here.

Thursday found us traveling again. We had one more Hersey place to visit first. Before we left Hershey we decided to go visit the Hershey Story Museum.

The first thing we did there was attend a candy making session in their chocolate lab. Yep, we made our own chocolate bars.  They played Hershey Trivia to start with and apparently I know my Hershey trivia. My boys won quite a few kisses with my help.  Then they discussed the process of chocolate making from the fields to the factory. After, each person was given a candy mold which had a beach scene transfer on it. The tables were given bowls of melted chocolate and you got to work making our own bars. The session we attended was beach bars so we could add in salt or graham cracker crumbs (I found shakers of red pepper flakes and cinnamon there too so Richard and I used those).

We then went through the museum. Did you know that there was once a Hershey town in Cuba? They had a whole exhibit on Hershey in Cuba and how he created a Hershey village there for the people who worked in the sugar factory there. While we were in the museum we purchased booklets for the boys that they could use to go around the museum and fill out trivia information. There were stations along the way to get “rewards” for finding all the information. While the museum was interesting, and the chocolate making was fun, I’m not sure it was worth the price of admission. I don’t regret doing it, but if you aren’t into history and don’t want to go around reading a lot of information then this is not the location for you.

When we wrapped this up, we headed to our next stop on the trip. Strasburg PA. Our hotel was in Lancaster, but the places we were headed were in Strasburg. When we arrived in Strasburg we went to the Choo Choo Barn. This is a model railroad. The boys had fun going around and finding all the different little things there were to see. The layout of this was ok. There were a lot of things that were hard to see since they were in the middle and you felt like they got lost. They did have spots where you could activate the different animations. They dimmed the lights to make it night time. They also gave you a scavenger hunt list of items to find while looking at the scenes. We ended up walking around twice.

Tune in tomorrow to hear about our last day of the vacation… when we ride the rails, visit an Amish farmers market and eat at 2 different local restaurants.

family · life

14 years

Wow two days in a row you get two posts from me!

14 years ago today I was in the Florida Mall. How do I know this? 14 years ago today Richard and I got married in the lobby of the hotel in the Florida Mall. We have been through a LOT in our 14, well actually 15 years together. I can not imagine anyone else by my side during the good and bad, the happy and the sad, the calm and the chaos.

Richard and I are only only husband and wife, we are best friends. I love the fact that we balance each other out. We don’t complete each other since we are both complete people, but instead bring out the best in each other. We recognize each other’s strengths and aren’t looking to change each other.

food · life · through my camera lens

Hershey park -part 3– rides

I’ve been telling you about our trip to Hershey the last two days. You can check out our preview day here and our water park day here.

On Wednesday we got up and headed back to Hershey. We go there shortly after it opened. While Tuesday was a ton of fun, Wednesday was the day the boys were looking forward to… the day we ride the rides!

When you first enter the park you can see where you “measure up” each ride is labeled with a Hershey product to show who can ride the ride based on height. If you look at the picture of Colby with the Reese’s on the pole you can see the stripe that says Reese’s, that is the height of the Reese’s riders. Both of my boys were Twizzlers so they were tall enough to do all the rides.

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I found Hershey’s rides to be very balanced as far as parks go. They had a balance between the old and the newer rides. They had so many old school carnival rides that you just don’t see as often in amusement parks now. They have 3 wooden roller coasters as well as 6 other coasters. Hershey’s Super Dooper Looper was the first loop coaster on the east coast of the US. Richard rode all the roller coasters. Colby rode all but 7 and Blake rode 6. I only rode 1, and I’m ok with that! (if you look right above the light in that picture you can see Colby. Blake took the picture, while I took the video below). The bottom video is a coaster that only Richard went on, this is just like the coaster I rode when I had a panic attack and swore off coasters.

The thrill rides didn’t end there. Richard, Blake and Colby also went onto the Hershey Tower ride. P1000110

The boys enjoyed riding all the rides. They were game to try just about anything we came across.

We also went into Zoo America while we were there. This is a zoo that has animals that you will find in the various sections of the US. It was a nice change of pace during the middle of the day. Since it was included in the price of the Hershey tickets why not take advantage??

We ended the day back at Chocolate World to pick up t-shirts!

book · reviews

Palisades Park- Book review

Palisades ParkI began reading Palisades Park by Alan Brennert before we left for Hershey and finished it up on the trip. It worked out to be the perfect story to read right before traveling to a theme park. While I am way too young to have ever experienced Palisades Park, and I didn’t grow up in NJ, I at least had heard of Palisades Park before reading this story.

Palisades Park begins by telling you the back story of how Eddie and Adele met and fell in love at Palisades Park in the 1930s. Eddie had left home as a teenager and started off by jumping from carnival to carnival. He would take any carnival job he could get and then hop on the nearest train and find another carnival to join and make a bit of money.  He then decided to get off the train back in NJ and go to Palisades Park, the place he remembers from his youth with a smile. Adele began her life working for her father as an actor, but when the movie industry moved to CA, her father stayed in NJ. Adele got a job working at a root beer stand at Palisades Park.

Eddie and Adele get married when she gets pregnant.  They decide to purchase a French Fry stand in Palisades Park and work it together. They have a beautiful daughter which they named Antoinette. Antoinette, who decides to refer to herself as Toni, much to her mother’s chagrin. She enjoys playing with her brother Jack and the rest of the boys in the neighborhood. She spends her days at Palisades where she meets Bunty Hill who teaches her to swim and later dive right in the pool at Palisades.

Toni’s family has to learn to deal with the Great Depression, Eddie enlisting in World War II, the Palisades Park fires, discrimination and so much more. Can the family survive the changes and growing up and growing apart that takes place in life? Will Toni figure out how to reach her own goals in a world that sees her as just a girl? Can Jack find his place in the world? Will Eddie find a way to keep his head above water after the war? Will Adele ever find a way to accomplish her dream of being a movie star?

This was a great historical fiction. I enjoyed this story and felt it was an easy read. There were things that were predictable, but it didn’t make the story feel predictable. You will find yourself wanting to read what happens next. The story begins with Eddie as a boy himself and ends after Palisades Park closes in 1971. I enjoyed the fact that Toni was given a backbone and stood up for what she believed in during a time when it was frowned upon. I also enjoyed reading more about the life of the people who worked in Palisades. It gives you enjoy of a glimpse into the backstage life of the workers and their relationships. Being at Hershey while reading this I noticed many of the rides mentioned in this book as well it gave me an appreciation for the people who choose to work in the parks.

I encourage you to pick up Palisades Park by Alan Brennert, I know I will be looking at other books written by him.