Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Strawberry Coffee Cake

This is a family favorite that I created in high school.  Mom always had frozen strawberries in the freezer for winter fruit pies so occasionally I'd snag a bag and make this recipe.  

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup strawberries, cut in quarters, thawed if frozen, also works great with fresh 
Topping:
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix flour through butter with a mixer or fork until it is crumbly.  Mix milk, vanilla and egg in a separate bowl and then add to the mixer for 1-2 minutes until well blended.  Add strawberries and mix with a spoon, very gently so they do not break down.  I've tried using the mixer and it turns the entire dough pink and you don't get chunks of strawberry which I think are important to the taste.

Prepare coffee cake pan with shortening and add the mixture.

Put all topping ingredients into a food processor and pulse until crumbly, then spread evenly over the top of the coffee cake.

Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.



Thursday, September 12, 2019

Loan Refinance and when it's a bad idea

Earlier in the summer I started getting calls from our mortgage regarding loan refinance.  We hadn't even had our loan for a year yet!  I grew suspicious when they tried to increase the pressure, and they kept calling at weird hours, or when I was on a business call, so after 7 or 8 missed calls they finally stopped pestering me.  Curious though, I contacted the mortgage broker so set up our original loan, which differs from our actual loan company.  I trust this guy as he's always been straight forward with us.  We started by saying we want to sell in 2-3 years.  He immediately said have a nice day!  He said it was useless to continue because we'd spend more by adding 4K to the back end of our loan and the $100 or $150 savings per month on loan rate reduction would not pan out. 

I've learned this in business - ask questions, especially when you don't understand something and if someone won't answer the questions find someone who will.  The lady from my loan company wanted to make it sound like we needed this, when in the end, we didn't.  I'm glad I never returned her calls! 


Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Chocolate Chip Scones

Or I should say Chocolate Bit Scones, because I put the chips in a food process and blend them to tiny bits!

Recipe:
  • 3 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup non-salted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Use a food processor to chop the chocolate chips until they are tiny (or buy mini chocolate chips). Next, put one cup of flour into the same food processor with butter and pulse until combined.  I then move the mixture into a Kitchen Aid mixer and add remaining dry ingredients.  

Mix egg, vanilla, and buttermilk in a 1 cup container and add to the dry ingredients.

Add all ingredients together and mix on high until well blended.  It will be very thick, you may need to dig the mixture off the whip and then continue mixing to get everything blended.

On a floured surface, roll the dough 3/4" - 1" thick.  I used a 1.5" circle cutter for each scone.  I continue rolling until all dough is used up; there is no such thing as wasted dough in this house.  The last scone is usually hand balled and flattened into a scone patty, much like you would make a hamburger.

Place the cut scones onto a cookie sheet and bake for 14 minutes at 325.    Recipe makes around 18 scones.

Enjoy!


Monday, August 19, 2019

School Shopping

Every year I wait for Maryland Tax Free week to buy the kids school clothes and for some reason, I waited until the last day to buy everything!  I'd like to remind myself, if reading this in the future, to please go out on the first day because Target was out of all but 2 pairs of pants for Sam and one had to be stripped off the mannequin!  The sad thing is, I update the school's blog so I knew about the tax free week well in advance, blogged about it twice, and still managed to go on the last day!

Also, a note about Target Ads, just because something is advertised doesn't mean you will get it taken off at the check out counter.  You need to have the Cartwheel app on your phone, select the item, and scan the bar code when checking out.  I had to return the set of pants and re-buy them to get the discount.  On the website, the discount is automatically applied. Sigh, still love ya Target!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Downtown House - Garden One Month Update

It's been one month since we laid grass seed, the cheapest way to get a green lawn.  I couldn't see buying sod for a small back yard.  We had to dig out all the concrete, sand and rock that was in there from past walk ways that extended far beyond what we wanted.  We are trying to put as little money into the yard as possible because there are other more priority items needed inside the house and elsewhere so we've re-used found stone, brought over stumps and white fence from my mom's house, painted an old ladder and bought a few select plants that we wanted.  The prior owner left 6 bags of mulch that we've used throughout.  We've spent a little more than $100 on plants and seeds.

I know we've bought at least 10 bags of dirt for approximately $1.80 per bag for 40lbs:
$1.80 x 10 = $18

The plants were 3 for $10 and we bought these:
* 2 Jalapeno's
* 3 Bell Peppers
* 2 Tomatoes
* 1 Acorn Squash
* 2 purple flowers
10 total = $33.3

2 bags of grass seed at $8.88 each = $17.76

3 hanging plants for $2.00 each = $6.00 (they were originally $24.95!!  We brought them back to full flowering within a few weeks of watering every day.)

3 packets of seeds = $10

1 fancy plant that's missing from the photos below = $16.85

3 mums = $5.00

1 lavender = $3.33 (it died already)

1 hanging plant = $3.33

1 violet plant = $3.33

2 free plants for doing work on the church property!

Lettuce - free from mom's garden

Total spent = $116.90

I've been working since March to get seedlings to take off but I've had very little luck, which is surprising because last year I used the same grow light and had great success with butternut squash, but it was in the basement of my mom's house and more humid so maybe that helped.

Here is a link to how the garden looked on May 25th. 

And now for current photos!







We've had the flamingo's and aloe plant since Florida and rubber tree and amaryllis for many years as well.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

1st Adventure in Travel Trailer

Having no prior experience with a camper, and it's been years since we've done any sort of camping, my criteria was just find a place and park it.  I probably picked the most difficult state park possible for our first outing.  We had to back the travel trailer up a slight incline hill and angle it to fit into the assigned space, along with adding various objects to level the trailer.  It may or may have not taken an hour to set up!  Good thing I had supper made in a crock pot that was already finished and ready to eat!!  I also picked a site with no water hook ups, we learned later that more educated campers fill up before parking.  We were not going to re-park as it was a one night camping experience so we just made it work with repeated trips to the bathroom, which is what we'd have done if we were tent camping!  No big deal.  




Kids reading on the top bunk.  
They waged an endless campaign for top bunk privileges that went on all summer.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Downtown House - Garden

I needed something for my acorn squash to climb because I don't want it traveling all over the yard.  Pinterest suggested ladders, so I found an old rickety one that my dad used for years and repainted it!






This is how small the plant was when I finished the ladder end of May.

Now check out my acorn squash!  I've added a hanging plant for color until the acorn is ready to travel over the ladder.