Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Seizing the Moment

Matthew and Ken at a Mets / Indians game this summer.

We have lots of what I call "forever memories" in our family. These are the moments in time that are so precious and so important that we can 'revisit' later and remember vividly. I have so many of these and I bet you do, too!

I have a picture frame that says, "Some moments we never forget because our lives have been changed by them forever." Yep, that pretty well sums it up! In this frame (see below) I have a photo of my husband and son that was taken on Mother's Day several years ago. Whenever I look at this photo, I remember that fun Mother's Day and sharing sweet moments with my boys on our patio. It was a wonderful afternoon and the memory of it and the laughs we shared that day is a "forever memory" for me and one that I revisit every time I see the photo. I love it!

The photo at the top of this posting was taken Father's Day week this year. Matthew surprised his Dad with tickets to the Mets vs. Indians game for Father's Day (a little early). I should note that we live near Cleveland and are also Indians fans, but my husband was born a New Yorker and has been a Mets fan since he was a little boy. His and Matthew's dedication to the Mets runs deep, much deeper than their dedication to the Indians. (Sorry dear friends who are HUGE Indians fans, but you already knew this!)

When Matthew surprised his Dad with tickets to 4th row seats for the game, they were both giddy with excitement. It was such a thoughtful gift and one Matthew was so exctied to present to his dad! The photo above was taken on that memorable night. Matthew invited me to go along, but it was a special night just for the two of them. So even though I wasn't even there, the evening is a memory FOR ME! I know how excited Matthew was to do something so special for his dad and how happy Ken was to share that time with Matthew. It became a "forever memory" for all of us.

Life is so short and can be full of disappointments. We need to have lots of special memories like these to carry us through the days when those moments seem so far away. We often reminisce about our fond memories in our family and it sometimes surprises me that some of our favorite ones are not big events or special occasions, but rather those every day experiences that we often take for granted.

We have been creating wonderful memories this summer with our son home from college. Our conversations around the dinner table, eating on the patio and Dairy Queen runs getting what we laughingly call "treats" are those which rank high on my list. I hope there are many more special memories to be made before the summer ends!

What "forever memories" will you create for your family and friends this summer?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Meet Rhonda (and try some of her awesome recipes!)

This beautiful lady is my friend, Rhonda Wolpert.

Have you ever had a friend who was such a wonderful cook or baker that you asked for the recipe for nearly every dish of theirs you tried? One such friend for me is my friend, Rhonda Wolpert.

I had the privilege of meeting Rhonda when we both lived in Noble County, Ohio and our kids were in preschool together. Rhonda and I both worked at Caldwell Nursery School where our children attended. It was a co-op where parents were required to participate (which was AWESOME!), and Rhonda and I held elected (volunteer) positions. ( By the way, the teacher there was LaShona DeVolld, a lady who was nothing short of amazing and the greatest gift pre-school students and their parents could ever receive! But, I digress…..)

I learned so much from the way Rhonda conducted herself – both as a person with beauty and grace – and as a professional at the nursery school and in the boardroom. The ultimate professional, Rhonda was (and is) a wonderful example for her friends, family and beautiful children, Chelsea and Robert (Chelsea was, by the way, my son’s first girlfriend!).

Rhonda and I worked together and became fast friends. I learned so much from her in the two years our family was involved in the nursery school there (1994 & 1995). Shortly after we left the area Rhonda moved also. I am sad to say that life intervened and we kept in touch very little, until our children graduated high school. Amazingly, Rhonda and Chelsea attended Matthew’s graduation party last year. We could not have been more pleased! It was so wonderful to see our old friends from what seems another lifetime ago!

So today, I share a couple of the wonderful recipes Rhonda shared with me so many years ago. They have become family favorites and some of my ‘go-to’ recipes in My Favorites Collection. I share both often – especially the Monster Cookie recipe.
On Rhonda’s Facebook page recently, I read the comment “When life gives you lemons, throw them back and demand chocolate.” You can see why Rhonda is my kind of person!

Rhonda served our family Stromboli as an appetizer when we were invited to their home for dinner. I have tweaked the recipe thru the years, but I first received this yummy recipe from Rhonda. By the way, this was a huge hit as a supper swap meal served with pizza sauce and a salad. Yummy!

Easy Stromboli

1 loaf of frozen bread dough (I prefer Rhodes)
1 pound ground sausage (we're not sausage fans, so we use pepperoni)
1 small can of mushrooms, drained (optional)
1/2 cup chopped onion
8 ozs. shredded mozzarella cheese

Spray non-stick cookie sheet with Pam or non-stick spray. Place frozen bread loaf on cookie shet and cover with plastic wrap that has been coated with non-stick spray. Allow bread to thaw and rise (6-8 hours). Remove plastic wrap and using greased fingers, spread dough over cookie sheet.

Spread with sausage that has been completely cooked and drained. (Again, we prefer pepperoni. Thinly sliced deli ham is wonderful, too!) Sprinkle remaining ingredients over dough, leaving about an inch on all sides. Roll up jelly-roll style, long-ways. Place seam side down on greased cookie sheet. Pinch ends together and tuck under roll. Bake in 350 degree preheated oven for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. Slice and serve warm with pizza or spaghetti sauce.

Monster Cookies

12 eggs
2 lbs. brown sugar
4 cups sugar
1 Tbls. vanilla
1 Tbls. corn syrup
8 tsp. baking soda
1 lbs. margarine
3 lbs. peanut butter
18 cups oatmeal (40-42 oz. size)
1 lb. chocolate chips
1 lb. M & M's plain
1 lb. butterscotch chips

Mix ingredients in order given in HUGE container (I use a stock pot). Mixture will be very difficult to mix as you get toward the end! Drop by teaspoon or tablespoon on cookie sheet, depending on the size desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Allow cookies to remain on cookie sheet if center is not completely set.

Makes 10-14 dozen, depending on the size made.

NOTE: These are a crowd favorite for all the little - and big - monsters in your life! I give out this recipe often. As you can see, it makes A LOT of cookies. If you haven't already, this is the perfect time to try out my freezer suggestion: simply put a cup or two of batter into a Ziploc freezer bag (I double-bag), label and freeze to enjoy later! Work now, enjoy later!!

I know you'll enjoy Rhonda's recipes as much as my family and friends have. Let me know the rave reviews you get and I'll pass them on to Rhonda!

You've been such a blessing to me through the years, Rhonda. I appreciate your friendship! Love you!