Wednesday, October 24, 2012

River Road Drives

Fall is absolutely my favorite season. I don’t celebrate fall by decorating my house. You won’t see Halloween decorations or my house festooned with mums. But I do love the look of the season and the changing colors all around. One of our favorite activities in the fall is to take drives to see the foliage around our area. This past weekend we took Highway 79 beginning in St. Charles County, Missouri north. Over the years, we have traveled this route for short trips just a few towns up the road and even driven all the way to Iowa for an overnight trip. More often than not, we typically will end our trip in Louisiana or Hannibal. This trip takes us through small towns. This trip we noticed that many of these towns are losing out to the troubled economy with empty storefronts and closed signs. However, the small town of Clarksville is still vibrant with a variety of artists and furniture makers offering up their wares in quaint shops. There is also a lovely little riverfront park that overlooks the Mississippi River.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

You Want My Vote?

I don’t know what is more annoying – and they both have been happening since September – political calls since August asking who I’m going to vote for in November or Christmas decorations before October 1st. At my house we still have a regular land line. I know, I know, we must be old geezers. The phone line comes included with our cable/internet package and we get free long distance so I can call my brother who doesn’t own a personal cell phone. Wait, who is the old geezer here? Good, my brother is worse than me. Okay – so now on with my main complaint. My phone rings at least twice a day with someone wanting to know, “if the presidential election were held today, yada, yada. And I feel bad, but I tell every one of them the same thing, “I will not talk politics with you.” Then I politely say goodbye and hang-up. My stance is that I do not even tell my husband who I am voting for so I sure as heck will not be talking to some yahoo at some call center. Most of these callers are very pleasant and accept my refusal easily, but the other day someone hung up on me before I even finished my calm response. Here is the thing – I will find out what I want about the candidates, bond issues, propositions, etc., and I will make my decision and place it on election day – but your phone call is not going to change my decision and, in fact, your call might tick me off enough that I will abstain from voting if you were my choice. Don’t hang up on me, yahoo. So Political Action Committees take my number off your list unless you simply don’t care about getting a vote from me, especially three months before the actual election.  At least wait until the leaves start to change, thank you very much.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Vanilla No Bake Cookies

Warning: These cookies are full of sugary goodness and very addictive. 
When I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it. This recipe calls for Chocolate Pudding but it said you could change the flavor with different flavored pudding mix, so I decided to try Vanilla.  I already have a different recipe that my family has used forever for Chocolate No Bake cookies with cocoa and peanut butter that has been a favorite of my family while I was growing up and now that I have a family of my own, they enjoy them as well. 
The only problem with both of these cookies, the one listed below and the original chocolate recipe I use, is that they are so rich that you cannot eat more than a couple without getting a kind of sick feeling in your stomach – however – it doesn’t seem to matter because they are so good you just keep going back for more despite the discomfort - the enjoyment to your taste buds is worth it.
  Vanilla No Bake   Easy No Bake Cookies from
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 (3.9 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 3 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Mix together the sugar, butter or margarine and the milk in a large pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes.
  2. Turn off heat and add in the dry pudding mix, oats and vanilla. Mix well and let stand for 5 minutes.
  3. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Unreal™ Product Review

Recently while shopping at Walgreens on my lunch hour in the candy section – who doesn’t look in the candy section for an afternoon treat? – I came across an unusual packaged candy. I didn’t pick it up, I just noticed it. Then a couple of weeks later I saw the same candy advertised in the ads in my Sunday newspaper with that same unusual packaging that made me take notice. The candy was called Unreal™. I went to my computer and looked them up on the Internet. This is where I became educated about the brand and more interested in it. Click here to see more about them: The brand became an idea for a father and son when they saw all the artificial ingredients in chocolate candy and decided to develop a candy with no artificial ingredients, no hydrogenated oils, no corn syrups, no preservatives and no GMOs (had to look that up, folks), it means genetically modified organisms. The result is Unreal™, the Unjunked™ candy. For this review, I was provided with the product to test, however there was no compensation involved and I am giving you my honest opinion on these items. Again, I was intrigued as I am a diabetic, but I love a bit of chocolate every so often and with the make-up of the Unreal™ chocolate there are less sugars and carbs in their bars than a nationally known name – see an example from their website below: I was sent a sample of the UNREAL41 Candy Coated Chocolates and the UNREAL54 Candy Coated Chocolates with Peanut as well as UNREAL8 Chocolate Caramel 2012-10-05_11-51-40_71Peanut Nougat bar and the UNREAL5 Chocolate Caramel Nougat bar. Both my husband and I tried the chocolate. I am a milk chocolate fan while my husband prefers dark chocolate.  At first glance, when I opened the candy coated chocolates that were similar to M&Ms, I immediately noticed the candy coating was much more subdued and earthy than your typical candy whether it be name brand or generic. The texture of the chocolates was much the same, although I think the candy coating was a little thicker. I did not do side by side comparison, so my thoughts are based on memory. The flavor was good and I would consider buying either of these. My husband said he actually preferred these chocolate pieces to M&Ms. Next we tried the bars. The two bars I tried are compared on the Unreal™ website to Milky Way and Snickers. These, while they tasted good, were not my 2012-10-05_11-59-32_947favorite. I like a Snickers bar and have had Milky Way bars even though they aren’t my favorite, but I found that the Unreal™ bars were a little dense in the nougat area. In fact, I would say these chocolates were much more like chocolates you would find in bite size pieces in a cardboard packaged box at holidays. Again, the flavor was good, but the nougat may need a little more work with perhaps a little more air in the product to 2012-10-05_12-02-29_629be compared to the name brand bars. However, when comparing the sugar and carb content, the Unreal™ bars would be the healthier choice for my diabetic self. The company does offer a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup as well, but I was not provided this for review. And my only suggestion to the company, other than my suggestions about lightening up the nougat, would be to come out with a match for my favorite bar of choice – the Baby Ruth. Currently Unreal™ chocolates are available at many of your local retailers including those mentioned above. I would recommend you try these out if you are looking for a chocolate that doesn’t have ingredients that you cannot pronounce or have to look up on the internet. Check your local candy aisle if you would like to try the Unjunked™ candy – Unreal™. Product for this review was provided to me free of charge and the opinions herein are my own.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Happy Wedding Day!

Today my big sister gets married.  I wish her and her groom all the best as they start their life together. 

My advice after being married for 26 years, remember marriage is just like a job – you both have to work at it – but the rewards for the time and effort you put in are truly worth it.

Monday, October 1, 2012

“Amazing” Reality Show

There have been 20 seasons of The Amazing Race and Sunday night started Season 21.  Even if you aren’t a huge reality television fan, this show is fun and different.  My husband and I have not missed a season since it started.  We love watching the travel and the tasks.  We will watch the show and play along.  We make our choice of tasks and then as we watch them we decide if it was something we would be able to do or if we made a bad decision that would likely cost us the game.
We will typically resist choosing a favorite team because the few times we’ve done that from the first episode we’ve typically been disappointed with the behavior of the couple after a few episodes.  So we won’t tell you our favorites right now, but they may come up in discussion at a later time.
With the road trips that we have taken over the years, we have experienced many of the stresses with one person navigating for the other.  We’ve just never done it for $1 million.  Or as they’ve bumped the prize money this year, $2 million.THE AMAZING RACE
I think the reason we enjoy this show so much is that if you fail and end up off the show it is basically your own fault.  It’s not a popularity contest, there is very little game play, and the only outside forces that could cause you issues is with transportation.  There is no situation where the other teams decide to vote you out. If you hit the mat last, it is totally your fault. 
So for the next several weeks we will plan our Sunday nights around “The Amazing Race” and enjoy travels to interesting places around the globe that we will likely never see in person, but we can experience them through the culture and interaction of the contestants with the locals.
This morning I read an interesting interview in the Los Angeles Times with the married couple who developed and produce the show, Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri.  You can read it here:,0,5018694.story.  And Bertram and Elise - let me know if you have any job openings for location scouting as I'd be up to the task.