July 1st: Happiness Is…

Hey everyone!

This month I want to get your input about what makes YOU happy! It’s easy, send me an email with what happiness is to you! 

For instance:

Happiness is…


…snuggling with my boy while watching a movie he has picked out. It’s not often that we get to do this anymore now that he is officially a teenager, so when he makes a suggestion you betcha I make a big deal about it(in a cool way of course). I grab some yummy snacks for us, a cozy blanket, and enjoy the time we have together. It brings back memories of when he was a little guy and would curl up on my lap to watch his favorite shows. Oh how I miss those days and cherish the ones like in the picture. ❤️

-Amanda Gayle(Alabama, USA)

Simple! Now, of course you can write as little or as much as I did. The point is, with all the ugly and bad things going on in this world it would do us some good to see some happy things for a change. Send me an email at nightowlkitchen@yahoo.com with the following: 

*Please include your name, State/Provence and country. 

*Include the heading: “Happiness Is…” in your email, along with a short blurb about why it makes you happy.

*You may include one photo. 

*Any recipes need to include a link back to the original site, if possible(unless the recipe has been passed down through your family, which is adored here at Night Owl Kitchen!) Kids are welcomed to get in on this, I know several like to get in the kitchen these days, don’t be shy. Share with us your favorite summer treats! 

*You can share anything that has inspired you: a quote, a song, a book, a movie…keeping it family friendly of course! 😉

Each week I will choose a selection to share. Let’s spread some happiness this month! 

Have a blessed 4th of July weekend!!!

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~5 Christmas Favorites~

Afternoon everyone, I haven’t done one of these in a while and thought well, why not?! 🙂 Christmas has come sooner than expected this year, or perhaps that’s my age hanging out. So today I’m going to share 5 of my Christmas favorites, these rarely change from year to year. Here goes….

1) Christmas Music

Give me some of those old classics from way back when….my personal favorite being Dean Martin! Listening to this music reminds me a lot of my Memaw. She would always have the record player going(and later on the CD player). The TV wasn’t allowed to be on at all Christmas Day. She wanted us to enjoy being together, making those memories and celebrating together the most wonderful time of the year! And the tv stays off here at our house on Christmas Day, we all sit around talking, making memories, sipping on egg nog and munching on holiday goodies. Remembering those who have already gone on ahead of us, the good times we shared with them while embracing the new ones. It’s amazing what a little song can do 🙂

2) Houses Decorated on the Outside

I’m not finicky, if your house is decorated for Christmas then I am in love! Pretty easy to please in that respect. Fewer and fewer people actually decorate the outside of their houses. We have never done it, mostly because of a lack of funds, but I do admire those who take the time to string up some lights on their house! Driving through neighborhoods to see the lights is a favorite of mine, it just brings back that feeling of “ahhhh, Christmastime is here”.

3) Ugly Sweaters

  

Yes, I am an ugly sweater fan! It brings back fun memories of my public school teachers who would wear these fun festive sweaters in December, with their little gold slip on shoes, poofy hair with frosted tips, and gaudy jingle bell jewelry! We’d have room mother’s bring in cupcakes, chips, and koolaid for homeroom parties, get a gift from our teacher and spend the rest of the time on a sugar high of epic proportions! Ugly sweaters get mocked frequently but to me I smile when I see one at its holiday cheer 🙂 If you’re tired of having an ugly Christmas sweater, I’ll give a good home!

4) Christmas Eve Finger Foods

Alright, what kind of blog would this be if I didn’t bring food into the mix?! Seriously I love our Christmas Eve snack food! It’s been something that my family has always done. We pull out a few cookies, the smoke summer sausage with cheese and crackers, boiled shrimp, a cheese ball, and a Claxton’s fruit cake(you know the kind that weighs a ton that no one wants to eat…my Granddad Jones would send one every year, a little something to let us know he was thinking of us and last year in memory of him I bought one for my Dad’s stocking. We all took a piece and ate it to commemorate Granddad Jones). Serve it all with my Mom’s hot apple cider, egg nog, and have some instrumental Christmas music playing in the background. 

5) Christmas Coloring Books

  

Don’t deny it, when you were a kid you would colors for hours and show everyone each page you did! My Memaw always had crayons and coloring books where us grandkids could find them. It was the first thing I’d pull out as soon as we’d arrive. Sit at the coffee table and color until my hand was ready to fall off! A bit exaggeration but you get the idea 😉 Every time I see a vintage Christmas coloring book I am thrown back to when I was little girl and simpler times!

Yes, those were the days folks. But they are not forgotten nor replaced. A smell, a sound, or seeing something from back then can bring it all back! Cherish your memories, your loved ones, and enjoy this holiday season! From my family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

It’s Been 10 Years…

I grew up not wanting to have any kids. In fact I prayed it wouldn’t happen, mostly because I wanted to pursue a career, have my freedom and not have to be responsible for anyone but myself. I had my life somewhat planned out from a fairly young age. I wanted to do the three F’s: Learn to play the flute(check), Learn French (partial check), and go to France(never happened). It’s amazing how thing work out, once our family moved to Brazil everything stopped making sense. I didn’t know what I wanted to study in college, so I didn’t go. After we came home I floundered for a couple of years unsure of what I wanted to do.

I finally got a job at Hobby Lobby as a cashier, it was a love/hate relationship. I loved working in my favorite store but I hated being stuck behind a register for 10–12 hours a day. After some headbutting with the manager I wound up leaving and spent a month looking for a new job to no avail. The following year I never dreamed I would have wanted something so much that I was willing to give my life for…I became a Mom. It wasn’t by choice to become a single Mom, but that’s how it worked out 🙂

G–Man has certainly kept life interesting for me! There have been days where I wonder what I ever did to deserve this little crazy mess I call “mini me”.

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Sure it was a rocky beginning, trying to figure out how to adjust. Sacrificing my wants for his needs, there were a lot of bumps and potholes along the way that I kept stumbling over and falling into. But the one thing I never regret is choosing to keep him. I had to learn how to be his Mom and do everything in my power to make sure he would never be in want.

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curls…curls…curls!!!

I miss these curls, they were soft and just melted my heart! He’s the closest thing to a green eyed redhead that I could get 🙂

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When he was 3 I was convinced that everything I was as a child was amplified by 100,000! Oh what a handful he was! Climbing on everything, coloring on the walls, painting the carpet, baseboard and part of the wall in the dining room with bright fuchsia fingernail polish(it’s still there by the way, just covered up by a lovely Brazilian cabinet). There was the shampoo incident on his bedroom, apparently he wanted to clean a dirty spot on the floor, and oh the joys of summer time in the pool, back when I could still go out. He stopped taking naps at this point and the adjustments were not in my favor 🙂

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Almost overnight he grew up…

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…he was becoming his own little person!

Of course I didn’t want to let go, I held on as tight as I possibly could! That sounds worse than I actually meant it 😉 But I definitely couldn’t wait to see what kind of a little person he would grow into. Would he take up art like me? Would he be interested in Legos? Would his love for bugs ever end?! The years passed, we started homeschooling when he was 3 yrs old, the very first thing he learned was how to spell his name. I wanted to make sure he could do it himself in case someone wasn’t sure how to spell it for him(and believe me the variations we got to see on his Sunday School papers over the years have made us giggle). However, we officially didn’t use actual curriculum till he was K5. Yes I boogered up his ABC’s at first, teaching the names of the letters instead of the sounds. We were learning together, trying to figure out what would work best for him and eventually finding out he would be a fairly average student (FTW=for the win)!

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Don’t ever let the smiles fool you, he and I are so much alike we butt heads constantly…but the one thing I have always strived to make sure he understood was that I love him with every part of my being! It may not always come out in the loving soft tones of Mrs. June Cleaver, but he’s become my world in ways I never thought someone ever could!

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His humor is what I love the most, we make each other laugh over the silliest things! He says that my laugh makes him laugh 🙂 But it’s the other way around, quite honestly!

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And if I could bottle up a single drop of his energy I would keep it for myself to use in my old age. He’s got a zaniness about him that’s questionable and endearing at the same time! Well, he is mine after all 😉 *looks up at the above picture*  Yep, he’s definitely mine…

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He calls his Grandpa “Dad”, since he’s the closest thing to a Dad he’s ever had.

It’s no lie, he’s shot up over these last few years. My little baby is no more 😦 Gone are those days of me carrying him around on my hip and rocking him to sleep. Now he’s this person with ideas, dreams, and becoming aware of the things around him. His world is expanding, as are his interests! From ninjas, to Legos, taking pictures, making videos, and showing me a thing or two on the computer!

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He’s hit the big 1–0! He has arrived!!!

I knew this year was going to be exceptional, I just never thought it would get here so quickly! His birthday was special, filled with lots of memories and reflection. We don’t do big parties,  we keep things simple and low key with just us here at home. His request every year is for a strawberry cake with Neapolitan ice cream. The cake recipe has been in our family for three generations. It was my favorite birthday cake year after year and now it’s his! 

(Ok, I know y’all are dying to see it lol)

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I opted out of candles this year, simply because they never seem to work right unless you get the extra long funky candles!

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It really is a beautiful cake once you get a pieces served up, but it tastes even better! So easy to make, yet without fail something always goes wrong with the cake. It’s been that way since his first birthday, and this year wasn’t any different. But as always it came out just fine on the second try (ugh) and if I’m not mistaken, there are only three pieces left! It’s that big of a hit!!

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And the night just wouldn’t be complete without Lego Ninjago toys and Halo Megablok sets. Followed by Despicable Me 2 with pizza and strawberry soda. Indeed, I have been blessed by one amazing little boy. One I’m beyond thankful that I have been given. He’s brought a lot of joy and intrigue to our lives 🙂

Happy Birthday to my little Irishman!

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Through the years…2004-2014

What a Fun(yun) Day

Evening all, not many of you knew it but yesterday was my birthday 🙂 Turned 32, yes can hardly believe it myself. I sat for a while in my bathroom just staring at myself remembering what it would be like to be in my 30’s…alright I didn’t really ponder on that in a deep way but I did think wow, you’re 32 years old today. Then I brushed my teeth and went off to school with my boy 🙂

It was a great birthday, a lot of wonderful friends and family remembered me and wished me the best on Facebook, even got a card from a sweet older woman from my church(it’s so nice to be thought of). I don’t make a big deal about my birthday anyway, don’t advertise it or expect anything special(ie big parties, a week long celebration, or outlandish gifts). I’m content with just being home with the family, thankful for another year, for my son, my salvation, and just being able to live to enjoy life. So, this year wasn’t any different. I woke up and made my own breakfast(no yeast cinnamon rolls…very yummy by the way), did some school work with G–Man, and came down from our bonus room to find my Mom making me the cake I said I would love to have. My oldest nephew had taken care of the dishes so all I had to do was sit and enjoy my day! It was nice not having to do anything for a little while, even got to enjoy a few rounds of bingo on my ipod 🙂 Yes, I’m a huge bingo addict, it’s all for points and not money. Just pure fun!

Usually for my birthday I choose some low carb, alkaline, gluten free options that everyone moans and groans about. “It’s one day a year”, “do something special”…so I did. Something I figured everyone would enjoy and not break the bank at the same time. Went to the Domino’s website, checked out their coupons, scored some deals and got a little something for everyone! Dad even spoiled us with sodas, which we rarely drink and I haven’t had in years, even got us our favorite chips…funyuns oh how I have missed you! But the best part of the entire evening was the cake that my Mom had wore herself out in making. It’s an absolute rich and moist cake, so delicious!

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Italian Cream Cheese Cake

(Recipe courtesy of Southern With A Twist)

1 stick Butter
½ cup Crisco
2 cups Sugar
5 Egg Yolks
2 cups Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 cup Buttermilk
1 tsp Vanilla
1 cup Coconut
1 cup chopped Pecans
5 Egg Whites, stiffly beaten

Cream butter and Crisco. Add sugar, beat well. Add egg yolks and beat. Add flour and soda. Alternate with buttermilk. Stir in vanilla. Add coconut & nuts. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites 2 Tablespoons at a time. Pour into greased and floured 9 in cake pans and bake at 350 for 20 – 25 min or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool and frost with cream cheese frosting.

Frosting:
1 – 8oz Cream Cheese, softened
½ stick Butter, softened
1 box 10x Sugar (1 pound of powdered sugar)
1 tsp Vanilla
Chopped Nuts, optional

Mix cheese and butter, add sugar and vanilla. Frost Cake and sprinkle nuts on cake.

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Like I said, it’s a rich cake and that was unexpected. Mom did a superb job making this for me 🙂 Her helper, JJ, did an awesome job lending a hand and doing the dishes as well! As I told my folks tonight, they are excellent cooks and made this owl’s b–day a really good one! Give this cake a try, it pairs wonderfully with a caramel turtle tracks ice cream!

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The loading of the greased and floured pans…watching her do this brought back so many fond memories.

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Frosted Italian Cream Cheese Cake topped with flaked sweetened coconut.

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Very decadent! Eat slowly and enjoy!!

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Or…you could just eat it whole…just a thought 😉

Happy Eating!

Psst…anyone there?

Test…1…2…3…check, check…Well, I’m still alive 🙂 I haven’t forgotten about you all. Things have certainly been crazy around here since we got home. And the exhaustion, I can’t get over how tired I still am. Last night I went to bed before 11pm, I know major shock! Traveling 11 hours will do that I guess. Plus I had to spend Monday doing a bulk of my Christmas shopping online. Love Cyber Mondays but apparently others do too! Will have to get the rest locally and make a few things to make up the difference. Just amazed at how slow certain sites were running.

Short notice, we decided to go down to FL to visit Dad’s folks and kept it a secret that my son and I would be traveling down with him. It sure was a surprise to everyone seeing how we haven’t seen them since G–Man was 8 months old. A lot has changed and grown up in these 9 years 🙂 We enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving meal with everyone and G–Man discovered toys in one of the guests bedrooms!

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He found three or four View Masters and several reels, but that was just the tip of the toy–berg. Once he found the wooden train set boy was he in heaven! He made some nice configurations that I know my Dad got a picture or two of. Will update this post when I can find them 🙂

Of course you can’t have a trip with family and not play a board game 😉

Playing Sorry with Nana Marty

Nana was sweet enough to show G–Man how to play Sorry and patient to endure a game with his toy ladybug Mr. Greg. It was a confusing game, even I got mixed up with whose turn it was and constantly reminding G–Man that he couldn’t slide on his own color or keep sending Nana back to Start instead of Mr. Greg. Can we say cheater?! 😉

But it wasn’t all just fun any games, we did have some tasty treats along the way. Since my Grandpa is a diabetic and on kidney dialysis I offered to make some sugar free desserts but he was content to enjoy the real deal. So we made his favorite, Cherry Pudding. It was lower in sugar than the more traditional recipe, so I didn’t feel as guilty serving it to him. 

I can remember my Grandma Jones (my maternal grandmother) making this and my Mom making it as well. Granted this picture doesn’t do it justice, but thankfully the link under the picture will give you a better idea, though the recipe isn’t anything like what we make. Don’t worry, that recipe is going in another cookbook 😉 Just not the one that’s coming out next May. If you’re not a fan of the tart cherries you can certainly use cherry pie filling, which is what we did. Fortunately it was a light pie filling, not very sweet which I made just a tad sweeter with 1/4 cup Stevia in the Raw. This was a nice treat for us Nole fans and would have been one heck of a victory dessert for those Auburn fans who celebrated an insane win Saturday Night! It’s great warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. 

All in all it was a good trip, one I’m glad I finally took and G–Man is hoping to go back down next year. We’ll have to wait and see 🙂

Four Gen Photo

Four Generation Picture

Thankfully Grandpa’s health is improving and will continue to do so. (And no we didn’t all plan on wearing navy blue in the picture, but it’s funny how that worked out!)

Night!