"I do not claim that I can tell a story as it ought to be told. I only claim to know how a story ought to be told." -Mark Twain


Apple Butterscotch Bars---And So It Begins

When I say, "And so it begins...," I mean my effort to supply you with (what I think are) tasty recipes to use during the upcoming holiday season. 
Then I think to myself, "Really, Self?  It's not like people can't just go to Pinterest and look up any kind of recipe they want in the entire world." 

But Self will not listen and so it begins that over the next several weeks I will share recipes with you. My promise is that every recipe I share will be tried and true and tasty! Like the Apple Butterscotch Bars for instance. Oh. My. Word.  These even got two (very large) thumbs-up from my two youngest sons. 

I started with this recipe because I had some apples I needed to use up. I can't even remember what kind of apples they were. I know they were not baking apples and they still worked very well. I am one of those kind of girls that makes-do with what she has on hand. I peeled the apples then chopped them up before mixing them in. 

I put the mixture in a casserole dish/cake pan and sprinkled butterscotch chips over the top of the batter right before I put it in the oven. Deliciousness. 

The recipe did not call for this, but I added it and it was wonderful.....I added caramel to the top of the cake bars right when they came out of the oven. The caramel melted down into the cake bars. It was SO good. 

I have added it to the recipe I am including. It is a step you do not want to leave out! 

Apple Butterscotch Bars with Caramel Topping
2 c. sugar
1 c. oil
3 eggs, beaten
1 t. vanilla extract
2-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
3 c. apples, cored, peeled and chopped
1 c. chopped nuts
1 c. butterscotch chips

Combine sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; mix well. Stir in apples and nuts. Spread in a lightly greased 13"x9" baking pan; sprinkle with butterscotch chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes. (Optional)...When the bars come out of the oven, spread melted caramel over the top. (You can use the kind that is used on ice cream). Also I used a mixture of walnuts and pecans (because that is what I had), but I liked the walnuts best. It gives it some crunch! Makes about 3 dozen.....if my sons are not at your house! 

Just so you know, my recipe did not make 3 dozen. My sons cut their first (generous) piece to taste-test. Then after that the next piece(s!!) were even more generous....as you can imagine. 

Enjoy this delicious recipe. 

Linking this to:
Foodie Friday


The 80's Called and they Want Their Furniture Back...

Way back when I showed these two pieces we acquired...for free. 

I had finished painting them, but had not put the new handles on the doors, nor had I put the new backing on the two units. I finished them shortly after the post, but I never got around to featuring them again. 

Not only did the two units get new paint (Coco and Duck Egg Annie Sloan), new oil rubbed bronze handles and a new bead
board back, but they got moved to the other side of the room. 

I swear there is a big entertainment/storage unit in Ballards catalog that is almost the exact same color as the Coco sans the Ducks Egg. I love the Ducks Egg showing through. Ballard's should take note! Ha! 

I especially love how my globe collection that sits atop the entertainment unit brings out the colors of the furniture exactly. 

Let me remind you how the two pieces looked the day we got them. They had been my sister-in-law's and she wanted something new. When she came to my house this past summer she did not even recognize the pieces. She wanted them back! 
I used our saws-all and cut off the dated piece of trim that was on top of each of them. There was also some brass trim that went around the bottom doors but I could not get it out. So I just left it and used my chalk paint to paint right over....and it worked perfectly! 
The backs that came with them were just that flimsy press board. I replaced it with bead board. 
The room where we put this unit is behind the den (which is behind the living room). We don't really have a name for the room, but I guess it would be considered a study. It is the room where I hang out the most. You can probably tell by all the vintage classroom material. This is the room where we have the big computer which I still use frequently. I keep all my photographs on an external hard drive on the big computer. I use my laptop to peruse everyone's blogs. 

I also have vintage Oklahoma memorabilia in the room as well. I thought the long side of the piece was the perfect place to hang the old Oklahoma banners. It breaks up the long side and has great muted colors. (Those are vintage Oklahoma postcards framed beside it.)

When I painted the two pieces, I painted them completely in the Duck Egg chalk paint first. It did cover it pretty well, but since I knew I was going to put another color on top, I did not make sure it was painted precisely. The wood was that shiny 80's wood (?) and the chalk paint went right over it with no problem. I then painted the Coco on top of the Duck Egg and only painted one coat of that. There were places where I went back and did a second coat, but not very many. 
I then used Minwax in the "Natural" color and waxed both pieces liberally. Then I took a soft sand block and sanded off places I wanted to sand. Some I went just to the Duck Egg and some places I went down to the wood. I buffed the wax and it turned out exactly how I had hoped. 

I used the bead board from Lowe's that comes already cut into the half sheet. It was the exact size we needed for each of the two back pieces....IF we nailed it up going horizontally. I thought that worked out great and gave it a little different feel. I put a little of the Minwax Natural on the bead board just to take the "whiteness" down a notch. 

Since the room is full of muted colors, the piece blends in perfectly. 
It has loads of storage, display and even great space on top. 

I'm SO glad my sister in law decided to update her living room!! 
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The Write Stuff..........

Several weeks ago, my very good friend from school asked me if I would like to go to a private dinner with her.....to see James Patterson.
For real.
Like THE James Patterson.
THE James Patterson that has written about a hundredfiftymillion books!

 You can only imagine that it took me a nano-second to say "YES!!!"  The dinner was a fundraiser for the Oklahoma State University library. When we first walked in there was a big display where one could purchase books. It just so happened that the week of our dinner was also the week that his two latest books had come out. He also had some of his children's books there for sale, as well as some of his more "romantic books."  Awwww. It was wonderful!

 My friend that had invited me, is an alum of OSU. (I love the University of Oklahoma, but I am old enough to know if someone is gifting me with a great present, then to certainly use my manners and not mention my University---As they are huge rivals). Like my family is for OU, her family is for OSU.  Her brother is on the Board of Directors for OSU. He is also a prominent doctor in the state and he had purchased a table for the dinner. Our table was front and center, right below where James Patterson gave his speech. Not only was our table unbelievable, but my friend's brother had also gifted us with the latest novels that had just come out...AND they were autographed and waiting for us at our table. 

 We also got "private time" with Mr. Patterson, where we could "chat" with him, and have any books we purchased when we first came in signed as well. I was in author-heaven. 

 Mr. Patterson was extremely friendly and humorous as well. He told us his favorite book (as of right now) are the Junior High series he wrote for his young son. I bought those for my nephew, so when I heard those were Mr. Patterson's favorites, I knew I had scored! 

 He told us that at any time he could have up to seven (7!!!!!!) manuscripts going at one time. He lines them up on his desk and makes sure he writes every single day. Someone asked him how he could keep seven books straight and he acted like it was absolutely no big deal. WOW!!
He also said several times how utterly important it is to get kids to read. (Amen to that!!) 

 Believe it or not, I did not take my camera. I was not sure of the "rules", so I did not want to lug it around, if it was not allowed. The picture above and below were part of the "party pics" that were taken of our group. My friend is in the orange slacks next to me. Her sister-in-law is in the green next to Mr. Patterson. It was her husband that gave all of us this very generous gift. 

It was such a fun night. It was great to hear an accomplished, well-known writer give his story about how he became a writer.  What I loved best is that he said over and over again..."We all have a story to tell." 
Hmmmm.....Well we all know I have "a big story to tell!"  Mr. James Patterson and I have something in common!
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Wow Us Wednesday


CHECK This Out!

 There is an architectural salvage store in OKC that I have been trying to get to for months. I went there in January after seeing pictures of some of the merchandise online. One of the pictures I had seen was of a big checker board sign. The sign was behind a LOT of stuff, but I still picked it out in the photograph. 

 So my Hubs took me to the store in January, we get there and it is closed. Dang. The sign said they were going to have an auction to get rid of some of their stuff. So I left disappointed. (The auction was scheduled on a day I would be at work.) 

 Then towards the end of summer I started noticing that the shop was advertising again and once again showing all kinds of great old things. I did not see the checkered sign, but I did see lots of things I would love.

 Then yesterday out of the blue, the Hubs decided we should go and check out the shop again. It is only about 30 minutes away, so it's not like it's a long jaunt. This time the place was open. Oh my gosh they have wonderful things. I could have spent thousands. Literally. The place, while wonderful, was also very pricey. Everything I loved was in the (high) hundreds. Or thousands. We were looking at old doors and even those were in the high hundreds. 

 Then I spotted it. There behind an old radiator and surveyor's pole was a big piece of checked tin. I could not believe it was still there from January! I "checked" the price and it was $60. It was affordable. I could not believe my good fortune. The tin was still there and about the only thing in the place I could afford. 

 It was fun looking at everything...and dreaming....but we "checked" out with only our big heavy piece of checked tin. My husband said (at least a dozen times), "I can't believe you are paying $60 for a piece of tin." 
On the other hand I was doing the happy dance that "the piece of tin" was ONLY  $60!!

When I "checked" out the man that owns the place told me he had a dozen of those tins and that was the last one. Oh my lucky day! I came home and put it immediately up on the blank wall behind the couch in the den. I know what I want there permanently, but have not found it yet. So in the meantime, the Purina feed store will be in my den. It will eventually end up in my kitchen. Probably. Maybe. Right now I'm just hoping my "$60 piece of (Purina feeds) tin does not make that giant cow get hungry!
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Simple Sundays

I love teaching Thoreau and Emerson. They are so full of knowledge. They were forward-thinking and practical. They were simple men that believed there was inherent goodness in both man and nature. I find it funny that they also believed that political parties could corrupt an individual (Ha! See what I mean about forward-thinking?) Of course they also believed that about organized religion. ( I personally think organized religion is good, it is some people in it that make some bad....Just so you know!)  I think this quote is about individuality. It is about being yourself, being unique, and not following the crowd. It is for those brave enough to want the simple things in live and not follow the crowd that just wants, wants, wants. That is my interpretation of it. But, as I tell my students each day, you are welcome to your own interpretation when it comes to literature (just so you can back it up!).  AND, even more importantly, guess who was sitting on a pumpkin at her Gi-Gi's house this week?  It would be none other than my sweet little Leightyn!  She is 7 months old and cannot stand on her own, but let her sit on a pumpkin and she is happy as can be. Of course the pumpkin cookie probably helped too. Have a great week! 


An Apple Two Ways....

The first time I saw these individual packets of caramel,
when my children were younger, I bought them right up.
I have continued to do so every Fall since. 
 Then I proceed to set out the caramel packets, big juicy apples and an easy apple-corer. I set them all out in a big bowl or a wire basket and also keep small paper plates close-by. 
 You would be surprised at how quickly the apples and caramel disappear when they are all grouped together and setting out just waiting for takers. The caramel is soft and delicious and perfect for dipping individual apple slices into. 
 Try it at your house. You will make people very happy. 

 Another way I use all those wonderful apples we get in the Fall is to make Crock Pot Apple Butter. It is fast. It is easy. It makes your house smell delicious. The end result...the apple butter... tastes as good as it smells. 
It is perfect bottled up in little jars and given out to neighbors or co-workers. My children and the Hubs like it best served on hot homemade biscuits. It is equally good on a peanut butter sandwich. 
Don't miss out on all the fun ways to use the delicious apples.
I have posted this recipe before, but it is worth repeating. 

Approximately 3 lb. apples
3 cups sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cloves
Dash of salt
3/4 cup water or fresh apple cider

Fill Crock-pot 3/4 full with peeled, cored and sliced apples. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until evenly mixed. Cover and cook on low setting overnight or until the butter is of a thick, spreadable consistency.

If apple butter has too much liquid, remove lid and cook on high until thickened. Stir often as butter thickens to prevent scorching.

I also adjust the sugar according to the sweetness of the apples I am using. You may need to add more sugar.

Store in refrigerator for up to 6 weeks. Freeze for longer storage.

Variation: For a less sweet apple butter, substitute 1 cup honey for the sugar.

Linking with:
Foodie Friday
 On The Menu Monday
Metamorphosis Monday


On The Road Again--Tell All Tuesday

Ten years. Ten years and counting.
Ten years and two and a half months to be exact.
It's not like I'm keeping track or anything....
But for ten years (and counting) I have been commuting to work.
And when I say "commute" I truly mean "commute"...not a spin or a jog or a whirl, but a full-fledged commute.

 When I lived in Kansas I commuted for six years. Six years of commuting in northeast Kansas can add years to your life.  NOT life to your years.  Oh my word the weather. 
My commute was 114 miles per day. 
That is 600 miles per week. 
That is 2400 miles per month. 
That equals 21,600 miles per year 
(I'm a teacher and everyone knows we only work half the time!). 
Over the six years I commuted on that long jaunt, that would add up to 129,600 miles of commuting. 
I drove through it all and saw it all.
Sometimes when I was driving home through the 
ice or snow
I would cry.
And vow never to do it again.
Till the next day......ha!
Not only did I commute all the time, but I still had children in high school myself and I went to every extra-curricular event they were in. Many times I would get home in time to pick up my husband and go from the driver's seat to the passenger seat. It was brutal.
On the upside, because I still had children at home, who were always bringing more children to my home, and because I went to 
14 million ballgames, sometimes the peace and tranquility of that long commute each way was the only quiet time I enjoyed the entire day.
I came up with a LOT of great teaching ideas on those long commutes.
My employer was remarkable about my drive. They always understood if I had to go slower than anticipated because of the weather ...which would therefore make me late to school. They always let me go home if horrible storms were rolling in.
At times I thought every highway patrolman in two counties knew me by name......
Let me just say, if you Google up my commute it says it should take  1 hour and 3 minutes. It usually took me 50 minutes. I have been known to get there under 45 minutes....if I wasn't visiting with my friends the patrolmen! 
The star is my home and the sunburst is the school where I worked.
 When we lived in Kansas, my husband worked at a community college that was about 20 minutes from our home. Our move to Oklahoma took us both to the same school district. So for the past 4 years ( and 2 1/2 months, but who's counting?) the Hubs and I have ridden to work together. In that 4 (plus) years I have probably driven the commute 10 times. The Hubs said I whined so much in Kansas that he will never let me drive! I always remind him I did not whine about the commute, only the weather I had to commute in! (For real.)

The star is our home, the sunburst is our school. 

Our commute in Oklahoma is shorter than the Kansas commute....by 10 miles. 
We commute 100 miles per day in Oklahoma. 
Which brings that up to 500 miles per week.
 And 2000 miles per month.
 And 18000 per year....
Which brings us to 72,000 miles in four years. 
I won't even bring up that extra 2 1/2 months (and counting) that I keep bringing up. 
My husband tends to follow the speed limit, therefore we have not made friends with the local highway patrol 
like I did in Kansas. 
Commuting with the Hubs is totally different than 
commuting on my own. 
He has total control of the radio.
He decides what time we leave...and come home.
Sometimes I get tired (as in sleepy) because I don't have to 
have my mind alert since I am not driving.
I still think of great teaching ideas...and I share them with the Hubs. He is thrilled.
We talk about our day at school.
We don't have to go as many places at night now since the 
children are grown.
The Hubs thinks I am bossy. (What?  Me???)
But come mid-May, I get to stay home till the first of August,
while the Hubs has to commute the entire year. He does not get summers off. I have not even dared to ask him how the commute is without me! (I probably don't want to know the answer!)

I can definitely tell a difference in myself as a commuter from 10 (plus) years ago till now.
It is hard to admit the getting older part!
But as I get older, it does wear me out sometimes....all that driving.
Then I thought I would use my (unbelievably fantastic) math skills. (That's a joke.)
If I've commuted for 10 hours per week (and 10 hours is the least amount possible)...
that makes it 40 hours per month. Times that by 9 months per year...Times the 360 hours by 10 years  (I'm not counting the extra 2 1/2 months) ....that means I have spent over 
3, 600 hours of my life commuting.
Good golly Miss Molly. 
That means I have spent more than half a year (hour wise) commuting....
No wonder I come home exhausted!
I'm wearing myself out!
Hey...I didn't even bring up how many tires I've gone through!
(I do often wonder if the state of Kansas misses the extra revenue they were getting from me!)
That was actually a tell-a lot- Tuesday!
Now 'ya know!


We've Got Game........

When we moved into this house, there was a small sun porch upstairs in the back. The room had long ago been walled-and-windowed-in, and was considered a bedroom, but really
it is too small to be a bedroom. The closet is right outside the door to the room in the hallway, so in reality it could serve as a bedroom. We had other plans for it.
We call it the "Game Room".  It's not that we play a lot of games there, but we watch a lot of games there. 
That and the room represents a lot of games. 

 I took pictures of it on Gameday Saturday. It was probably not the best time to photograph the room. I had all three sons home on Saturday and the room was not in picture-perfect shape. I thought that was okay though, since very seldom is that room (or any in my house for that matter) in picture-perfect shape. I did at least boot the boys out for the pictures. Don't worry...they just went to refill their plates. 

 The room might be small, but it is packed full of vintage sports memorabilia.  I might add that the only things purchased for this room since we've moved in are the shades and the valances. Everything else we already had. 
This was the room the day we moved in.  A cute little room with LOTS of sunshine. We did not even change the paint color. We just started putting all our fun stuff in. When I say "we" by the way, the whole room was done in a day by me and my son Luke. 

 This is the same door and window as the "before" picture. You can see that the addition of the wooden shades made a world of difference. My oldest two children were "Hiawatha Redskins" in high school. My youngest three (there is only 7 years difference between the oldest graduating and the youngest) were Hiawatha Red Hawks. Their school changed mascots in order to be more politically correct. The banner is a left-over reminder of the original mascot. 
 Right outside the door is a small balcony. We have a little furniture out there. The balcony is mainly used for sun-bathing (hmmm...who would that be?) The balcony is blocked (but not shaded) by a huge magnolia, so it is perfect for sun-bathing! 
 This is why the boys enjoy this room for watching ballgames so much. They have a projection TV in the room. The room is small to begin with, and the screen is huge. It makes it look like the game is coming right at you. And yes, there is yelling at the (huge projection) TV.  The baby gate by-the-way is not to keep a baby in (or out). We put it in front of the door to keep the dogs out during the day, when no body is home. They (the dogs) tend to find too many "interesting" things in there to "play" with. 
 Every single nook and corner was used in this room for display. The pictures range from my own grandfather's college football days, to my children as they participated in sports while growing up. It is great fun to just simply look at all the pictures. (Notice the old ice-skate hanging up on the window above? That was Hubby's grandfather's when he was a boy.)

 We have central air in the house, but because this little room has so many windows, it still gets hot during the Oklahoma summers. We put this little window air-conditioner in this summer and it made a huge difference in the room. We only turn it on, if someone is going in there to watch a movie or TV, but it was definitely worth it.

 This was the other end (opposite the TV screen) of the sunroom the day we moved in. As you can see, there are more big windows (same door!). 

 You can get a glimpse of the couch everyone loves to lay on to watch TV. Remember, I did not do any arranging for the photo's. This is how I found it. You can also see more nooks and corners filled with pictures. 

 On the only other solid wall (besides the TV screen wall) I put a collection of old team photos I have. I really don't even know how I acquired them all, but slowly over the years, I ended up with a huge collection of black and white team photographs from three different sports. The best part is, that every single photo has a picture of one of my children's grandfathers in it, or a picture of the Hubs himself when he played as a boy. In fact, I recently acquired three more photos that still need to be framed. You are only seeing part of the wall. One day I should do a post just on the pictures. 
 I have had these in the last two houses we have lived in as well. I frame them all in simple black frames for unity and it seems to work well. When Restoration Hardware had a big wall of old team photos for sale I was so glad to see that I was vogue. (I say that tongue-in-cheek you know....) 
I have thought about blowing them all up to be the same size, but I tend to like having the originals more than uniformity.

 I put my subway OU Sooners sign I made in here as well. 

 Then there is this. I should have taken a better picture. (Actually towards the end of this post, you can see a full-length picture of the case.) My Husband's dad died tragically when we were first married. None of my children ever really knew him. We have a few things of his, and one of them was his gun cabinet. Only my Hubs never wanted to keep the his hunting guns in the cabinet (just because we have always had a zillion children going in and out of our home.) Even now that they are all grown, he still didn't put the guns in the cabinet. The gun cabinet sat in the garage and I was determined to get it into the house. 
 The day Luke and I were decorating and arranging the room, I got Luke to move the gun cabinet into the house. We cleaned it up (and yes, I did think about painting it!!) and I decided to make it a faux locker. We used the grooves where the guns would stand as 'hangers' for the football jerseys. We have the Hubs father's football jersey, the Hub's jersey, and all three of my sons. We also have an old baseball uniform and my Dad's basketball jersey. (Not all of that is in here tho!) On the little ledge where the guns would lean I put the pictures of the Hubs and his dad and an old magazine with Oklahoma boy Mickey Mantle. I even had an old locker number that we super-glued towards the top of the door, like a real locker. I love how it turned out! 

 Then we continued our theme of "more is more" and just kept packing the room full. More pictures were hung and we put up shelves above the windows and doors. 
I got the valances on clearance at K-Mart and had never used them. Some how I had exactly enough ...and the perfect color...for the game room. That was meant to be, because there was no planning involved. 
 The trophies, like the photographs and jerseys span three generations as well. 

 Almost everything in the room is family sports memorabilia. There are a couple of exceptions and the golf balls on the shelf pictured above are one of the exceptions. They are either Hiawatha brand or Colt brand. We bought them at an auction (all together). We knew it was another thing that was "meant to be" as my children grew up in Hiawatha, and we frequently call our son Coulter, Coult (Colt). 

 This view is looking from the balcony door into the room. You can see the full view of the gun-cabinet-turned-locker as well as more team pictures. The curtain on the left of the "locker" is the door to the hallway. We hung a curtain (and hung it by a golf club) over the door in the summer to keep that cool air in and have just never taken it down now that it does not need to be up. 

 Remember this little table I painted and filled with letter-jacket chenilles? It is in this room too. Obviously! 

 I have two of these old wooden ladders that I saved from the dumpster. (And yes, my Hubs still wonders every time he sees it why I would ever save it. And yes, it was him doing the dumping of the ladder!) I have it filled with lots of old catching gear from when the Hubs played ball (from 5 years old through college).  There are a few other items on the ladder, but it is mainly filled with baseball gear. 
 The OU bear was one of my daughters. The 34 sign was a piece of "artwork" my Hubs made in high school. Believe me, he is no artist. That was his high school football number and I thought it would be cute to frame it and keep it for posterity. It, like the team photos has hung in every single house. I know, I know, it is   SO weird the things I hang onto! 

 There is one more chair I never did photograph in the room. I'm telling you, it is a small room, but filled with fun. I bought the "Heisman" lamp for my Hubs one year for our anniversary. The Hubs father was best friends with a gentleman from our hometown that won the Heisman (Billy Vessels/1952/Cleveland, OK). That is such a special connection, I knew the Hubs would love the lamp. And he did. There are pictures on the table of my sons and even one of me holding a football at the age of 2. The marbles in the little wicker basket were the Hubs father as well. The giant baseball on the floor in the corner was off of one of the younger boys beds from their youth. 

The baseballs are a three-generation deal, the croquet set was my family set growing up, the bucket of chenilles  are part of my collection. Honestly, the dollar value of our packed little room is probably squat, but the fun and the memories the room provides is....to use a good cliche....priceless. We've got game! 
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