Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Best Brownies Ever

I made brownies yesterday for Marshall (with Andes Mint chips inside, his favorite), but since I was down to one stick of butter I couldn't make my favorite recipe, the one below. Instead I used a recipe that calls for oil. They are ok. But they are nothing like THESE. These are stand over the pan with a fork good, don't stop eating until you're sick then come back for one more bite good. It's gotta be the butter, or the extra vanilla. These have a perfect crunchy crust on top, and a thick fudgey center which is positively criminal. I have made these for years to rave reviews. Don't be fooled by the mundane ingredient list, they're really, really special. and addictive.

Hershey's Deep Dish Brownies
(thanks to

1-1/2 sticks butter, melted
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract (use the real kind!)
3 eggs
1/2 cup Hershey's Cocoa
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350-deg. Grease 8" square pan. Combine butter, sugar and vanilla in a bowl. Add eggs, beat well with spoon. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to egg mixture, beating until well blended. Spread batter evenly into pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Often I add chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips, toffee bits, Andes Mint pieces, etc. Although plain is still my favorite, these additions are fun to play with.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Today is a good day. Partly because we all slept ALL night, which hasn't happened since last Saturday, but also because I have my girl back. Her virus is mainly gone and her spunk and giggles have returned. I was once again reminded how emotionally wearing it is when your little ones are sick. Not just with a cold, but really, really sick so they only want to sleep and cannot even smile. It must be the worst thing in the world to have a permanently sick child. I know every day that it continued I went deeper and deeper into depression, until by Wednesday I was just spent. My heart just goes out to all the parents dealing with that.

So, we are rested, Gilly is better, Sara and Larry are coming for the weekend (to stay with Jeff) and we'll have a nice Fathers Day weekend. and I am very grateful for the blessings of health and family.

I am also getting very excited about Mendy's upcoming wedding! My minor preparations are taken care of. Shoes - check. Dress - tomorrow. Tanning appointment - check. Mendy's dress is hanging in her guest room and it's beautiful. She will be a lovely, graceful bride. On a selfish note we are so excited to have an adult only getaway (Mom and Dad are keeping G&G), but also I am so excited that this wonderful friend has found someone who makes her happy! That was long overdue. Just goes to show that good things come to those who wait.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Gearing up for Gardening

Well, the weekend approaches, and the chore list is being developed as we speak. Of course, there won't be that many chores, because it's Father's Day Weekend! It's probably not that appropriate to make a giant honey-do list for this particular weekend. With that in mind, however, here's a little contraption that's helpful for both yourself and your Dad/Hubby. So if you left the gift buying to the last minute, and you have a gardener to buy for, you can go to Ace Hardware or Target or Sears and pick up one of these. I would suggest it NOT come with a chore list. Not at first, anyway.

This is a rolling tool box, which functions as a handy bench. It's available from Sears or Kmart . It's called the Step 2 Garden Hopper Work Seat, and it's $29.99.

This folding seat and tool bag can be purchased online at, sku #JETLTK104 for $27. Of course, if you need it by this weekend, we purchased one just like it at the local Ace Hardware for the same price, just last week.

This one is from Target. It's slightly more expensive, but also slightly fancier. I like how it looks a little taller and has more tools. It's only available online for $39.99, but if you don't need it as a gift for the weekend...
Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Luscious Lamps

So, let's face it. There's not that much you can do in designing a lamp. But these guys did surprise me a bit. Lately I've grown so bored seeing the same ole same ole everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE. It's like Target knocked off the high-end designers, but then the high-end designers didn't come out with anything new. So everything's the same! (Which is kinda great for us gals on a budget, but not that great for us designers trying to place stylish accessories in clients homes. They don't want Target!)

First, the Moon Glow Lamp by Barbara Barry. I love how you can light the base separately for soft lighting, and comes with a dimmer switch. It is the perfect scale for a bedside, 28.5" high.

The "U-Fill-It" Lamp. This one stands 33" high and is made to be a focal-point, as in living room or family room. I see all sorts of possiblities here, from sea shells in the summer to berries in the winter. A nice transitional style, this would fit in almost any decor.

The Kate Table Lamp, by Alexa Hampton. Love the simplicity. At 24-26" high, this is perfect for a console, piano, bookshelf, desk, etc.

These great looking lamps are from Circa Lighting. It's a great resource that I use all the time!

Don't forget to check their Web Specials area for some fabulous finds with deep discounts!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Clothespin Photos, Adult Style

Pottery Barn has made this idea famous, but I love this much more sophisticated way of doing it. Any good print or reprographics shop can put your photos onto watercolor paper or cardstock, so the paper will hang stiffly.

That's all for today. I've got a really sick kiddo who has cried ALL day. Poor little thing, she celebrated her 3rd birthday party by getting 102-deg fever and the hand-foot-mouth virus. Ick! It must be terribly painful because she keeps wailing, "I feel sooo bad!" Which, of course, just breaks your heart when it comes out of that tiny mouth. Must go mother now...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pink Party Pictures

Happy Gillian, with her Birthday Crown headband, princess shirt and pink cupcake with pink candles! Happy 3rd Birthday!

After about an hour of swimming we had burgers and hot dogs, chips and watermelon, with cokes and pink lemonade, of course. (well, that was mainly the kiddos.) Here's Gillian with Auntie Annette.

Gillian explaining why we didn't actually have fire on the pink candles. (because it was too windy was the official explanation, because Mommy forgot matches was the real reason.) We had two varieties of cupcake, strawberry with light pink buttercream frosting, and chocolate with a darker pink frosting. Gillian helped put the pink heart sprinkles on top. We also had little toothpick paper crowns to decorate with, and, of course, the pink princess muffin cups. Because we were at the pool I elected not to bring out my crystal cake stand. But that would have been precious!
On the tables, before lunch, I had Oreos with pink filling, the Princess Pops and Princess fruit snacks, and a giant bowl of cut-up watermelon. All pink, all the time! The kids took swimming breaks and snacked before we had lunch. You can barely see the pops in ziplocs on the table, as well as the Princess Fruit Snack package.

Treat bags for boys and girls... The Girl bags were a cinch. They contained more Princess fruit snacks, wands, irridescent bracelets and necklaces, soft peppermint candies in pink wrappers that said "Princess," and peppermint lollipops that I made in a Princess Crown mold. I found those at Cake Carousel, where I bought the pink chocolate melting chips and lollipop sticks. They were so cute. Unfortunately they were a little melty by the end of the party. Boy bags had a "Sorcerer Wand," aka baton, and sporty boy bracelets instead of the jewelry and princess wands. Annette brought these cute animal hats, which the kids loved. Not so princess-themed, but a big hit!

I think the best thing about this party was the kids felt free to come to the tables and grab a cookie, or piece of watermelon and a pink lemonade juice pouch during swimming time. So there was a very relaxed atmosphere (think pool!). After lunch, while the kids were still gathered around the tables, I brought the cupcakes out of the fridge and you would have thought I'd just presented them with the queen's own tiara, to hear the oohs and aahs and see the smiles. That made the 4 hours in the kitchen worth it. Of course, the time with Gillian "helping" in the kitchen was pretty fun too.