Friday, August 29, 2008

The Big 3-Oh

David's actual birthday isn't until Tuesday, but my family is coming in to town this weekend to celebrate my husband being just 20 years younger than my parents. Ha! I haven't told him that yet - I have to remember it so I can tease him later.

He doesn't care that he's turning 30. He said that since he's married and has a stable career he's pretty set. He does, however, agree that it's time to start a family. So, this could be the year! If you know me, you know how excited the prospect of popping out babies makes me. Not so much the "popping" part, but the "Mommy full-time" part makes my insides glow with maternal bliss.

I'm laughing right now because David's at home today (flex day Friday) and he's doing a really, really big favor for me. He just unwrapped the young whole chicken that was thawing in the fridge, dug out the innards (which actually turned out to be just a couple of what he described as "pads" to keep it fresh), and put in in the crockpot with a little Old Bay Seasoning and water. I guess it's still slightly frozen about 1/2" down ([is that okspike427]?). Anyway, he was grossed out and it made me laugh.

So tomorrow is his birthday dinner with my family. For it, he requested the following:

• Steak
• Baked Potatoes
• Caesar Salad
• Green peas
• Onion Strings
• Crescent Rolls

Dessert is homemade chocolate cake with chocolate ganache and vanilla ice cream (I bought vanilla bean and french vanilla so that David can finally decide which one he likes better).

Raise your hand if you think he will run out of room on his plate *raises hand*

I made the onion strings a couple of weeks ago when we had company over for dinner. They were AMAZING. I'll share with you the recipe or, if you're familiar with the Pioneer Woman, you may have already seen this recipe:

ONION STRINGS link will open in a new window
1 Large Onion
2 Cups Buttermilk
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
Slightly less than 1 Tbsp Salt
A LOT of Black Pepper
1/4 to 1/2 t Cayenne Pepper
1 to 2 quarts Canola Oil

1. Slice onion very thin. Place in a baking dish and cover with buttermilk for at least one hour.

2. Combine dry ingredients and set aside.

3. Heat oil to 375 degrees on Medium High heat (this will take a WHILE. Use a candy thermometer to watch the temp and remove when it reaches 375)

4. With tongs, remove about a handful of onions from the buttermilk and throw them into the flour mixture. Tap on side of bowl to remove excess.

5. Plunge into hot oil. Fry for a few minutes and remove when golden brown.

6. Repeat with another onion. Trust me, you'll probably want to devour all of them by yourself. They're that good.

Donuts for breakfast.
Women shop.
Men Xbox.

I love having family at my house! David's going to have a great birthday! :)

What's your ideal birthday meal?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Boston Cream Pie : The Saga

I made this for my mother-in-law's birthday last night.

It's a compilation of two recipes and it's EASY. I found complicated ones but I didn't have time for those.


Cake & Filling
1 18.25 oz Butter Recipe Yellow cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)
1 5.1 oz JELLO Vanilla Pudding mix

3 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup light cream (I used milk)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar


Prepare cake mix according to package instructions in two 9" rounds. Cool completely.

Prepare JELLO vanilla pudding mix according to package instructions and chill for at least a couple of hours.

Do not prepare this next step until you are ready to assemble the cake...the ganache needs to go on the cake immediately after prepared. In a heavy saucepan over low heat, stir the chocolate pieces and 2 tablespoons butter until they are completely melted. Remove from the heat and, stirring constantly, add the 1/4 cup light cream in a thin steady stream. When mixture is smooth, stir in the confectioners' sugar and beat vigorously. Stir in the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.


Turn one 9" round cake upsidedown on serving plate. Spread the chilled filling on the flat surface of that bottom layer and place the second cake on top. Pour the chocolate frosting evenly over the top allowing it to spill down the sides.


On our way to my husband's sister's house for my MIL's birthday, David took a sharp corner at mach 5 and the entire top layer slid off. The (ugly) cake you see below is the result of me trying to piece it back together. I cried...I'll admit to that. I couldn't stop crying, either. I bawled. And when we got to my sister-in-law's house and David explained what happened, they all tried to console me and the waterworks started afresh. Being a woman is hard work sometimes...these hormones are out of control.

The cake was a hit. My MIL had two pieces and my sister-in-law's husband had 3 pieces and asked to keep the cake at the end of the night.

The cake reminded me of a boston cream donut (duh), but the "bread" part was better because the caked was almost the density of a pound cake.

My cute MIL acting like she's going to devour the cake whole.

At least it looked decent on the inside:

Here I am about to cut into the cake. See how awful it looks? It was SO pretty before we made the drive to Covington. Jake is the one in the green shirt who ate half the cake by himself.
Sorry about the picture quality - I think David had his finger on the flash or something.

Oh, and here are some Vegas pictures if you're interested...
Las Vegas Pictureswill open in a new window
I titled as many as I could...I didn't delete any except ones that were too blurry or that might have made my sister screaming mad at me ;)

By the way, I'm going to be an aunt again! My twin sis is expecting her second in mid April :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Vintage Thingies Thursday!

I can't believe it's Thursday again already! I'm so glad...I've been waiting for almost a week to share with you my great finds. I dragged D antiquing this weekend. I didn't realize that in downtown Renton we have some amazing antique stores! Some are stuffy and the second you walk in you want to walk out because it just smells expensive. The first place we went to, we hit the jackpot. I bought 8 books (some more than 100 years old!) for less than $50. I posted about books last week, so this week we'll steer in a different direction.

I do, however, want to introduce you to Harry. I found him in a bin marked "Free with purchase" at the first antique stop. Not only was he in a bin marked "Free", his forehead was also marked "Free". Guess they really wanted to get rid of him. I'm going to try to get the remnants of permanent marker off his forehead. Any ideas? I think he's terrific, if not a little freaky-looking.

**here I am at 11pm recreating this blog because Blogger decided to erase my entire post when I tried to edit the published version. excuse me while I bash my head against a wall.**

Okay, I'm back. Thanks for waiting.
We have an entertainment room that is decorated with copies of artwork by a Northwest artist named Paul Lanquist (you can read more about him and see his work if you follow the link. You'll be glad you did!). They look like scenes from 1950s postcards sent from tourists hitting all the "hot spots" along Hwy 101 and around the Pacific Northwest. I love them. We found the photos and based the room around them. I haven't done much with the room yet, but I found the following maps at a great antique store we went to this weekend and I'm going to frame the maps and hang them in the room down there. I love the idea of a vintage travel room. I hope to keep collecting vintage travel items! I'll leave you with pictures of the maps. The one that cracks me up the most is the one that says about the Las Vegas convention center "So far ahead it will always be new". I wonder if it's still standing... I'll be in Vegas next week, maybe I'll check! :)

MAP 1 : Western U.S.
MAP 2 : Oregon

MAP 3 : Vegas (circa 1960)

I hope you enjoyed my maps! Next week I'll post my new old finds - the books! I have an old copy of Bambi and an old copy of Little Women that I can't wait to show you!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Vacation - the countdown begins

I'm full. Really, really full. Let me tell you why.

Night before last I made some granola and probably put too much flax in it. This morning I had some low-fat vanilla yogurt with peaches and my granola in it. Yum. Well, then for lunch I had Wheat Thins (more fiber) dipped in a concoction of low fat cream cheese and cucumber...and Tabasco, because as my dad would say "It ain't worth a dern if it ain't got that burn". I can't really take spicy foods, but that's another post for another time...and boy do I have some good stories - including one that involves habenero and my husband's first time meeting my parents. Good times.

Anyway, after I finished my Wheat Thins and dip for lunch, I had a donut. They make too much food available at work and someone had set out donuts. I chose a chocolate (shock!) donut that I only ate because it was so tasty and not because I was hungry. I stopped being hungry 1 bite into the donut. But it was so good that I had to finish it. I'm regretting that decision now. I'm miserably full.

I'll tell you what I'm not full of (insert funny joke here) - I'm not full of too many thoughts of our vacation in Vegas next week. Only 3 more work days! Friday evening we're having another couple over for a barbecue then Saturday morning we'll drive up to Lynwood to buy a motorcycle helmet for me and peruse other items for David's new bike. It's funny how that a bike that is reasonably priced can turn into a major investment from all the "toys" that boys like to put on their vehicles. I think it's cute, honestly. I have the most fiscally responsible husband around so it's not that I worry about the money...I really like to see him so excited over something.

Back to Vegas.

We're staying at Treasure Island and plan to see Mystere on Tuesday night. I have never seen a Cirque De Soliel show so I'm really excited. I might even blog while I'm in Vegas just because if I don't update as I go, I'm sure it'll take me weeks to sit down and write everything out. My twin sister and I have already made plans to get out and do things while our husbands are wasting the days away sleeping. D's theory is "I'm on vacation so I get to sleep in". I think he'd feel that way if we were in Europe, too, so I let him sleep. He doesn't sleep too late, but definitely later than I'd want to sleep when I'm on vacation! I like to see things! So Carrie and I will probably get some pool time in before it gets too hot. Carrie is new here, so go welcome her if you can...maybe she'll post again if enough people comment :)

I'll leave you with the story of how D & I met. If you're so inclined, I'd love to hear how you and your significant other met. I love hearing those stories.

This is D telling our story. He wrote it for our wedding website and he's best at describing it anyway.

After being single for a while without finding the right person through the standard ways of meeting women, I decided to try my luck online. I looked through online profiles for weeks and finally found someone that I wanted to write to. I emailed a beautiful and friendly sounding girl in the area. She was new to the area, religious, loved her family, and loved sports. I wrote to her, told her a little about myself, and offered to be her tour guide. To my disappointment, I never heard back from her.

Six months later, my sister Stephanie went to our mutual friend Mary's bridal shower. Stephanie took pictures of the event. After the bridal shower, Mary told Stephanie that a girl at the bridal shower and I should meet. Stephanie told me about this girl I should meet but I had tried being set-up before and it was never successful. After weeks of thinking it over, I finally decided that I would go to church in Renton to see Mary before she moved away and meet this girl too who also attended at Renton. I met her after church as we all went out to eat. We talked and I asked lots of questions while my sister practically interviewed her with the intention of giving me all of the information I needed. I really had a good time but felt it would be too corny to ask for her number. I knew I'd see her at Mary's wedding anyway so I could always ask for her number then. I did see her at Mary's wedding, got her number, and called her a few days later. We met up for coffee, talked on the phone, and went to church together. Each time we talked, it was for hours. I was so excited to meet her and happy that I found her. I knew she was special from the first time I talked to her and thought she was the one the first time that we went out together. After weeks of spending time together, we talked about how hard it was to meet people. We soon realized for the first time that I was the one that emailed her and she was the one that never responded to me all those months ago. After not being able to meet Jamie the first time that we came in contact, I'm so glad that I got a second chance!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary. How does your garden grow?


Head on over to Mercedes' World for a chance to win a vintage apron!

A blank entry box is daunting. I can't tell you the number of times I've clicked on "New Post", got skiddish about the empty white box, and fled.

Here are a couple of "Did you know?" facts to get your attention:

Did you know that the average American walks 4 miles during a lifetime just making the bed?

Did you know that the almond is a member of the peach family?

This "Did you know?" tidbit courtesy of my Snapple lids.

My husband bought a motorcycle. More on that later. It's a long story complete with pictures of my 6'2" husband riding a small 1970s scooter to riding a larger, newer (1980s!) "motorcycle" to now owning a slightly used BMW sport touring motorcycle. Stay tuned...

I thought I'd dedicate this post to my backyard. "The Jungle".


Here's the story... the man who lived in our house before us was the original owner and has been around longer than anyone in our neighborhood. He had our house built the way it was and lived there for 20-something years. He pored thousands of dollars into landscaping the property. That meant planting several types of fruits and herbs and who knows how many species of flowers. I'm sure that in its hey day it was a beautiful, serene place. Here's the problem: our house was initially overpriced. Way overpriced. No one wanted to touch it for that reason, so by the time we came along and fell in love with our home it had been sitting on the market for 4 months. Imagine a fully landscaped home sitting on the market for 4 months in the summertime with the sprinkler system running on its regular, timed schedule. Now do you understand why I call it "the jungle"? We couldn't see the ground when we first toured the backyard. Everything was overgrown, and I mean everything. Being the young, naiive home buyers that we were, we thought "This is beautiful, we can fix this up!" But, don't worry, we weren't naiive enough to pay what the seller was asking for it! I won't get into how we figured out that we were, in fact, extremely naiive, but we did and now David spends countless hours out there pulling weeds only to find the stupid things sprouting back up the next week. I realize it still looks like a jungle, but you'd be surprised to see how far it's come.

(left) D had just powerwashed the deck so he could paint it which is why it looks ghetto in this picture. That's our hot tub. The previous owner boasted that they once fit 23 high school students into it. It's 720 gallons of expensive water to fill so we haven't filled it this year. Last year we used it quite a bit.

(right) Isn't this great? It's our fig tree! I'd never seen a real life fig tree before until we moved into our house. Even then, I didn't even know we had it until D told me. I plan to harvest the figs when they're ready and make fig preserves for my Dad. He remembers his grandma making fig preserves for him when he was a kid and I'd love to recreate that memory.

Just like any 1980s house, there are things about this home that I'd love to fix that are just out of our budget range. Every house in our neighborhood has vinyl windows. I never understood why people didn't just replace their windows! Then we got a quote. Yeah, it would be roughly the equivalent of taking on another car payment. Over $10,000. No, thanks. We'll keep our crusy old vinyl windows for now. And our crusty old kitchen. Someday we'll redo both of those things - I will bask in the day, I promise you. Let me show you why I went into that spiel. In this picture you can see our windows and, if you look in the garden window on the top deck, you will see a flourescent light fixture. Lovely. D is going to replace that with canister lighting but it seems that every home improvement project hinges on another project being completed which hinges on finding room in the budget.

See all of my daisies? I actually didn't just let most of them die this year. I picked several and gave them in bouquets or put them in a vase on our dining room table. They were beautiful and I can't wait until they come back again next year.

This is our kiwi vine(s). Yes, an arbor with a bad hair day. This thing just grows out of control for months and when it's dormant, D cuts it back til there's no tomorrow. I think it makes it ten times healthier and more robust in the spring. Maybe this winter he should just leave it alone and see what happens. I'm excited to harvest the kiwi this year, though. Last year we did nothing with it because we weren't sure what in the world to do with it and when to harvest. I've been reading up on it, though, and I think I will be able to get it at its best time this year. Anyone want kiwi? We're going to have so much of it. Another note: Our bbq and chairs aren't usually here. D moved them so he could pressure wash the deck. I'd love to get a fire pit and roast s'mores right there, though.

We have...

Japanese Pears

I'm not going to show you pictures of all of it for the sake of your sanity, but I'll show you the part of our backyard that drives me the most crazy. A couple of things about this photo. First, you can't really tell but our backyard has a super steep hill that just drops down to the fence in the back. Apparently, the previous owner didn't want to level it off because he didn't want to mow it. I think the mowing thing is another reason why that green stuff you see in the picture that looks like grass is not actually grass. It's a type of moss which, as you can probably guess, flourishes in Seattle. I love grass. I would love to rip up all of these plants, level out our backyard, plant grass, and then replant the vegetation around the perimeter. Ask me how much I think that would cost. Go ahead. THOUSANDS. It makes me sad to think that the previous owner said he paid over $20,000 to make it look the way it does now. There's really not useable space here. I can't imagine letting toddlers play around in the backyard. It's a huge hazard right now. Oh well! It is beautiful and even though I speak of its untameness (is that a word?) in negative tones, I just love it. I do. It's quiet and peaceful and I love that our home backs up to a green belt.

I have electric blue hydrangea next to our front porch right now. I love them. I have a short little vase that I have been putting them in to sit on our table. Flowers add so much to a space.

Does anyone want to come help me decorate the inside of my house? I never know what to do with it. I'd show you pictures (I have them because my aunt wanted to see them when we went to Lincoln City a couple of weekends ago - she's never been to our house), but it is the internet, you know. Maybe later, but I'm just not ready to show my lack of decorating abilities. Too embarassing. My mom is a decorating genius but she lives 3 hours away.

I'm done rambling. Wow, I really get away with myself.

I think I've talked D into taking me to an antiques mall tomorrow. Yipee! I'll report back next Thursday 8/14 (Vintage Thingies Thursday!) with my find(s).

"Cecilia" by Simon & Garfunkel keeps playing on my iPod. Such a happy, peppy tune for such sad lyrics! ("Happy & peppy" makes me want to watch That Thing You Do)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Vintage Books & Jamie Cooks


Head on over to Mercedes' World for a chance to win a vintage apron!

Nice title, eh? It rhymes and everything.

Lots of pictures today which means not a lot of talking. Good, I don't have much to say. If you know me, you know that's not true. See how much I had to say about not having anything to say? Moving on...

Let's start with...
Vintage Childrens Books! I love them. My fascination started when...ok, I know I said I wouldn't talk much but I might have lied. A little.

We took a trip to New England last fall and found a huge antiques shop in Quechee, VT. I'm not usually an antiques kind of girl but I found out that it was for lack of knowing how fabulous antiques actually were. You have to dig. Dig past someone's grandma's porcelin salt and pepper shakers. Past musty smelling 1970s romance novels. Past gaudy dinnerware (who would serve people food on that!?) get the idea. I gravitated toward books. Childrens books. Let me share with you my finds...

They sit on a shelf in my living room. For frame of reference, I posted a picture of my living room. Yes, I know the TV is ginormous. Yes, I know I need curtains and crown molding. Okay, now can we move on? I just love to look at them. Have I read them? What? They're books, old books. They're for decoration (I'm kidding, of course).

East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon is my favorite. The book is mentioned in the Anne of Green Gables books and I didn't even know that when I bought it. Isn't it a gem? I love that the illustrations are watercolored. I can't be sure if the book was made that way or if a past owner did it. I have a hard time believing that it was a past owner because they are so intricately done. There is also an inscription on the inside cover that says "Wishing you a Merry Christmas. From Alice 12/25/23". I love that, I just love it.

Next, we have The Aeroplane Boys Series: The Aeroplane Express. I admit I got this one for its looks.

And finally, we have Tom Swift and his Electric Locomotive. This one has an inscription on it, too, and it says: "Charles Ackley from Mother, Christmas 1921 (could also be a "7", not sure)".

Aren't they lovely? I just bought another one online yesterday and will post pictures when I get it.


Here's my hand-me-down helpful hint for today... Freezing Juicy Fruits. Not the gum.
I took the advice of some gals in the recipe_exchange group and spread the massive amount of blackberries given to us by David's grandma onto 3 cookie sheets. Then I stuck them in the freezer and when they were sufficiently frozen, I pulled out the cookie sheets and scraped the contents into freezer bags. The picture to the right is what the blackberries looked like after they had been frozen and poured into the Ziploc bag. Aren't they gorgeous? I think I'm going to have to use this freezer/cookie sheet method with all juicy fruits that I want to freeze and store. It worked like a charm!

Here's Tess while I was scraping the blackberries into the bag:

"Please, Ma, can't I have just one?"

For dinner, David grilled pork chops that I had rubbed in Rudy's Rub. Mercy me, that stuff is spicy. I made some rice (more on that in a minute), salad with salsa ranch dressing, and also used a recipe I found for Cheesy Garlic Bread. It was only "ok" for me. I used Texas Toast instead of french bread which might have been my first mistake. I wasn't a fan of the mayo taste. I think I'll stick to butter and garlic salt to make my garlic bread next time! The mozzarella on top was fantastic, though. The rice was Rice-A-Roni Whole Grain Blends Chicken & Herb Classico. I know, what a mouthful! If you haven't tried their Whole Grain Blends or their Nature's Way line, you really should. They're fantastic and it's nice to know they're better for you.

So, last night after (or was it before? I have a horrible memory) our 30 minute, 2 mile walk around the park, I made Crumb Topped Choco-Peanut Butter Bars. Peanut butter theme lately, I know. Not sure why. Anyway, they were very yummy, but like all yummy things, they must leave my house. I stacked them on a paper plate and sent them to work with David this morning so he could share the love with his coworkers. I'd be lying if I said I sent them ALL to work with David. I confess I have a few safely sealed in a Tupperware container on the counter. Report from David is that a couple of coworkers have tried them and said they were good. He had them still covered with the foil I put on them this morning so I told him they would be fine if he took the foil off. Too much information right there, wasn't it?

Tonight is Mexican food with a friend while David plays softball.

I have this fear. I'm afraid that if I act excited about the Mariners winning the last 2 games their winning streak will end. Who am I kidding? Their winning streak will end whether I mention it or not. I love my team, but I'm realistic about this season.

Oh Raul.
Why does your bat start heating up only after the Mariners become the worst team in Major League Baseball?
It's supposed to be in the 90s here in Seattle today. Pretty unusual for us, but I don't mind it. I'm glad David and I put A/C in our home last year. Most homes in the Pacific Northwest don't have A/C - builders definitely don't automatically include it. I love that I can still bake and cook in my A/C house even when it's 90° outside.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Picnic, Musical, and Dessert

Too many things to post about. I have to pretend I have profound thoughts and then scurry to collect them and put them in writing before they disappear. They always disappear.

I won't pretend to know what kind of ship I took a picture of last week out my office window. But, there it is and it's big and amazing and there were at least 200 people on board. If I could have zoomed in to show you, I would have. But, as it was I was attempting to shoot a photo of the boat through a window and I wasn't sure how it would turn out.

We had our company picnic last Friday and I would call it a success. I was one of 8 members of the "picnic planning committee", which I only did for the free ice cream at the meetings. I made the posters to promote the picnic (at right) and made a few other miscellaneous signs they needed for the day of. I also got there early to help set up, which was a perk for me because I could work from home that morning (I got up at 8am instead of 5:30am!) then headed over to the park around 10:30. I love that David has Flex days. He works enough hours over 2 weeks to allow him to take every other Friday off, which the City of Bellevue supports fully. Why aren't all companies that way? He was able to attend with me what is usually just a very socially awkward situation. I've always been the kind of girl who liked leaving work (and the people from work) at work. Forcing us to engage socially outside of work can be a little daunting. I am thankful to have David as my buffer. We stood in the buffet line together, talking quietly about what food we were unceremonioulsy piling onto our plates. Boy, did those plates get heavy. David loaded up on enough Caesar salad to sink a small ship - the man loves him some Caesar salad. I really should make that more...actually making it once would be a first for me. Poor underfed husband.

There are times I'm thankful to be in the "support staff" category. Just a measly Executive Assistant in a sea of people who are fully educated and know much more than I do about telecommunications. Support staff don't "talk shop" when they are forced to get together outside of work. We talk about real things. The receptionist's wedding, the other EA's pregnancy and the impending birth of her baby boy, etc. Talking about expense reports and ISO maps would send me running for the hills, and running for my car. So, thankfully those who joined us at our lunchtable were my fellow support staff who enjoy talking about things that matter.

After lunch, despite our bellies dragging on the ground, David and I played a rousing game of one-on-one badminton where I pretended not to know how my raquet missed hitting the birdie.

Why is the birdie on the ground? I know I hit the dumb thing! David, why?

The weather was beautiful. It was maybe 75° and alternated between being a little overcast and then really sunny. I'm sure you're tired of hearing about our company picnic now, so I'll move on.

Friday evening we decided to head over to Kentridge High School (even though very few of the performers were young enough to be in high school) to watch a performance of "The Music Man". A couple from church were in it so we thought it would be nice to support them. I don't know who I'm kidding - I LOVE musicals. David is not a "musical" type of guy. Don't get me wrong - he can sing in the shower with the best of them (not with, you understand) and he likes to make up his own words to songs he hears on the radio or, ugh, on commercials. But as far as watching other people sing and dance onstage, I'm fairly certain he'd rather have his eyes dug out with spoons. I'm fortunate in that he hides his displeasure very well. On Sunday, when we approached the couple to tell them how wonderful their performances were, David said, "I don't know how you memorize all the lines! I kept looking for the teleprompter." Sweet David. I had to laugh inside a little. Or a lot.

Saturday morning we woke up later than usual and I fried some eggs and popped some of my homemade frozen waffles into the toaster for brunch. Then we headed for Lacey, which is a little over an hour south of us. Some of David's dad's side of the family live down there and there were also family members visiting from Chicago (David and I saw them when we went to Chicago in May) so we wanted to drop in and say hello to them. We only stayed a couple of hours and, although I was not asked to bring anything, I didn't want to arrive empty handed so I tried my hand at a new dessert I found. I'll leave you with the recipe.

I should return tomorrow. I do want to leave you with this... I Grocery Game'd again last night and saved 59%. I saved over $70 and only spent $58! It was wonderful. My freezer is now full to the brim and I don't think I'll need to go shopping for a while.

Chocolate Peanut Bars

1 (18.25 oz) white or vanilla cake mix
2/3 cup quick or rolled oats
1 cup peanut butter, divided
1 egg
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanuts (optional - I omitted)

In a mixing bowl, beat the cake mix, oats, 2/3 cup peanut butter and egg until crumbly. Press into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan. In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and remaining peanut butter. Gradually beat in milk and sugar. Carefully spread over crust. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and peanuts.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and center is set. Cool completely before cutting. Store in the refrigerator.

Lesson #1: Make bars way ahead of time before attending the event in which you plan to take said bars. If you cut them too soon before they are cooled, they will look like mush (as is evident in the above picture). If you do not chill these bars for at least long enough for them to solidify a bit, they won't taste as good. These tips courtesy of the girl who makes enough mistakes to start numbering them and hoping they are useful to you in this recipe. You're welcome.