Brie in Bread: Pure Heaven

Happy New Year 2017!  Wishing you a year of health and happiness but first a little brie and French bread!  My friend, Carol, shared this recipe with me and Carol and I made it last night.  She told me folks inhale this gooey, cheesy appetizer the minute it comes out of the oven and we sure did!  What can be better than Brie, bread, butter, sugar and nuts!  I was in heaven and the diet starts tomorrow because there’s a little bit left to eat today!

Here’s the recipe with pictures to guide you.  Heck, make this today while watching football!

1 round of Brie (Costco size, don’t skimp on this)

1 Pillsbury French loaf (found in dairy case near crescent rolls)

1 stick of butter, melted (use the real kind, I used salted)

1 cup light brown sugar

1 handful of nuts (I used walnuts but pecans would be yummy too)

Surround the brie with the bread in a Pyrex pie plate.  Pinch ends of bread together.  No need to take the rind off the brie.  Combine the sugar and melted butter and pour over the brie.  Sprinkle nuts on top.  The picture above is ready to bake.

Place pie plate on a cookie sheet in case the goodness oozes over while baking.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  The picture above is the masterpiece out of the oven.


Ready for the first bite!  Yum!!!!

Christmas Music

This is a bittersweet Christmas and some Christmas songs bring it to the surface.  My Dad passed away 7 years ago and after that I missed him but Mom was still around even though her health continued to deteriorate over the years.  The Christmas years after Dad passed were happy ones but this one is so different since Mom passed in April.  I think about them often and how they established so many traditions during the holiday season for my sister and me.

When I hear certain Christmas songs, I immediately remember connections to Mom and Dad.  Mom loved to sing and I can still hear her harmonizing to Silver Bells and White Christmas with the car radio.  Dad thought the Chipmunk Song was the funniest thing he had ever heard.  As a child he had a reel-to-reel tape recorder and would let my sister and I talk and then he would play it back at a fast speed so that we sounded like the Chipmunks. Click on the song titles above to hear the original versions that my parents loved.

We lived in Pennsylvania so our tree went up Christmas Eve because trees dry out so quickly in a heated house.  Dad would buy it on his way home from work and we would decorate it that evening.  Often it was not the perfect tree but we were happy with the results.  It was usually a blue spruce, my Dad’s favorite.  Those were the days of glass ornaments, bubble lights and lots of tinsel.

The little cutie below is ME!  Notice the tinsel-laden tree in the background.

Today I made my Mom’s cheese ball and did it her way.  Mixed it with my hands, spread the walnuts on aluminum foil and folded it up to make the walnuts stick.  Getting my hands in the cheesy mess was an excellent idea, so much easier to mix than with a spoon.  You were right Mom.



Our family will miss both of you this year and I pray that you are together and happy with the angels.  Memories and traditions make Christmas special.  As I hear your favorite Christmas songs on my car radio I remember those long ago years that seem like yesterday. Thanks for the memories.



May your Christmas be white with silver bells ringing and the Chipmunks singing along!

Merry Christmas 2016


What are your favorite childhood memories?  What triggers those memories?  Send me a comment.

Cinnamon Rolls Deluxe

Baking is a skill that if you don’t use it, you lose it!  My Mom and Grandmother were excellent bakers and I could hold my own when I was younger and baking for my family.  Lately, not so much!  Yeast breads and I have never had a happy relationship and there have been many failures over the years.  But today I found success.  I saw a recipe for cinnamon rolls posted by The Pioneer Woman with many pictures to go with the process.  They turned out wonderful!  I cut the recipe in half and made the dough yesterday and put it in the refrigerator over night, like Ree recommended.  Give them a try but be forewarned, they are oozing with butter and I’m sure that’s the secret ingredient that makes them yummy.  There’s still time to make them for Christmas morning, so get started!


             Ready for the oven!                                     Baked, iced and ready to eat!

Here’s the link to the recipe.  Just click:  The Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls

Enjoy and don’t think about all of the calories!  Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Appetizer: Sausage Crescent Nuggets

This is my favorite holiday appetizer.  Granted, it would be delicious any time of year but given the calorie content, I don’t make them that often.  They travel well to a party and are usually gobbled up quickly.

Sausage Crescent Nuggets

1 lb.  Jimmy Dean highly seasoned sausage

1 (8oz.) package of cream cheese (Low fat version is just fine)

2 packages of Pillsbury crescent rolls (Original works best.  Reduced fat ones seem to be harder to handle)

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1 egg white slightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium size skillet, cook sausage until light brown.  Drain.  Wipe out pan with a paper towel and return drained sausage to it.  Turn stove to low. While sausage is still hot, add cream cheese and stir until cheese is melted and mixture is creamy.  Remove from heat and cool completely.

Separate crescent rolls into 2 rectangles.  Form a log of the sausage mixture lengthwise down the center of each rectangle.  Fold lover the long sides of the pastry to cover sausage log.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet, seam side down.  Brush with egg white.  Sprinkle with poppy seeds.

           Ready for the oven!   Love my silicone mats.  Set of 3 at Costco.

Bake 20 minutes or until the crust turns golden.  Slice into 1-1 ½ inch slices.  Makes about 4 dozen.

Ready for the party!

Behind on my book list!

Hello, friends.  I am way behind on my book list posts.  Here are some books I have read since my last post.  I liked them all!  If you are from Pennsylvania, you might enjoy The Woman in the Photo, since the setting is the Johnstown flood.

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Bright Cellars

I love wine!  It has been my drink of choice for many years.  However, I am not a wine connoisseur and can get over-whelmed in places like ABC Liquor and Total Wine.  The employees are very helpful and I always leave with some good choices but I am really cheap when it comes to purchasing those bottles.  Geeze, I could buy a pair of shoes for the cost of some wines!  Funny thing is, when dining out and ordering wine I don’t flinch at the price of a glass which often is equal to my going price for a whole bottle.  I think it’s the social aspect.

I like wine tastings and have found some really nice wines at them but my new favorite way to get different wines that suit my tastes and pocketbook is Bright Cellars.  You begin by filling out an online questionnaire that discerns your taste preferences.  After you place your order, the wine concierge sends an e-mail telling you when your bottles will be shipped, a list of the wines included in your box and a description of each. Usually they send 2 whites and 2 reds but I’m strictly a white girl and noted that to the company. Below is an example of one of my shipments.



I have been very impressed with the customer service, each bottle arrives wrapped in tissue and the company includes a flyer related to wine information.  My boxes usually cost $68.00.  There is no minimum number of boxes to order and you can suspend your deliveries as I did during Lent when I gave up wine!

If you’d like to give Bright Cellars a try, click on the link below and you will receive $30 off your first box.  Let me know what you think of the service if you give it a go.

Summer Reads

After YouAfter You by JoJo Moyes is the sequel to Me Before You and follows the characters from Me Before You. After Will’s passing, Louisa Clark struggles to find a purpose and path in life. She returns home after a freak accident and feels like she’s right back where she was before she met Will. She joins a “Moving On” group once her body heals and finds a place of friendship where survivors share their journeys. While in this group Lou meets Sam Fielding but before their relationship blooms, people from her past and part of Will’s life throw her curve balls that may take her down a different path. I will say that Lou does figure out how to move on and being the romantic I am, I was happy for her. If you liked Me Before You, you will enjoy reading about where the characters are following Will’s death.

Broken WheelThe Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald. Sara is a young woman from Sweden who really has no life beyond her books and job in a bookstore. For about a year she has been corresponding with Amy, an elderly woman from Broken Wheel, Iowa who also loves books. Amy invites Sara to come visit and Sara does just that only to find out Amy has passed away before she arrives. Sara befriends several young people in town and opens a book store with Amy’s collection of books. Most people thought the book store would never survive given the town’s down trodden existence but the book store brought the town back to life. The story includes bits of the letters between Amy and Sara that fill in the background information about the events. There’s lots of talk about books and authors, some humor thrown in and a little romance!

AliceWhat Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty is a gem! Moriarty never disappoints with a bit of Australian color and twists. Alice takes a fall during a spinning class and wakes up forgetting the last 10 years of her life! During that time she became driven, over-extended, the mother of three children and in the midst of a divorce. She struggles to make sense of the new Alice while behaving like she did 10 years earlier confusing her children, almost ex-husband, family and current boyfriend. As the story of her current life starts to mix with her old self, relationships change and she finds balance and ultimately happiness. Loved this book!

Back in the Saddle Again

Too much has happened since my last post and I have been afflicted with writer’s block big time!  I couldn’t seem to force myself to write a post for the life of me.  I decided that today was the day to push through so here we go.  There are four reasons why my mind was locked up!

I officially retired as director of the Lucas Center for Faculty Development at Florida Gulf Coast University on April 30, 2016.  Although I was looking forward to the freedom of retirement, the final days at the university were very bittersweet for me.  I had been with FGCU for over 20 years and was a founding faculty member.  It’s hard to leave something that has identified you for so much of your professional career.

Navigating the paperwork of retirement has been a challenge!  There is Medicare, Supplemental, Drug Plan, Social Security, Pension, etc.  Some of these challenges have required hours on the phone, trips to offices, more paperwork, etc.  Then there are the issues of budgeting when the money comes in once a month instead of every two weeks plus figuring out how much to withhold for tax purposes.  The whole process took weeks!

A few weeks before my retirement, my mother passed away.  It was not unexpected since she was a month shy of 95 and was in a nursing home.  I had gone to see her at Easter, just a few weeks before she passed but when my brother-in-law called to say she was gone, I was taken for a loop.  I still have bouts of sadness even though I know she is in a better place and with my Dad and the rest of her family.  I miss both of my parents deeply.

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I had to spend the past 3 weeks with my foot in a boot!  No long walks, no exercise classes, just couch potato land!  You would think sitting on the couch reading, watching Hallmark movies and wanting so bad to move would have motivated me to WRITE a post; but, no, gridlock continued!  The boot came off a few days ago and it is a joy to wear a normal shoe again rather than drag a cement block around but it wasn’t until today that I wrote one word!

A few things have shaken me out of the doldrums and gotten my fingers moving on the keyboard again.  The motivation to get going is based on a big dose of guilt!  I’ve received e-mails and texts from readers asking if they have missed any posts!  A dear friend from the past found my blog and wrote to me last week and I felt bad that the darn thing was so out-of-date.  Another friend e-mailed me and said that if I couldn’t exercise the body, I should exercise the mind!  Thank you all!

I’ve learned that any block to moving forward can be hard to break through.  Possibly laziness comes into play but similar to when I had writer’s block at work, the best antidote is to just do it!  My life changes muddled my mind but now I feel content and accomplished that I have typed this post.  There are more to come, my friends.

How do you work through a road block in your life?  Leave a comment above.

Aging and Angst

On Friday I was chatting with some of my female neighbors who have become dear friends and confidants. One of the many topics we discussed included actual age and inner age. We all agreed that age is just a number and the 90’s seem like yesterday so children born in those years must still be in kindergarten. Wait, they are in their 20’s? How could that be! Sorry I digress on how time flies, but it is relevant to how quickly the years pass but our inner identity moves much slower.

We agreed that we work at keeping gravity and expansion at bay; however, there is one time when the truth about aging hits you in the face! There you are at the salon getting your hair cut, trimmed, highlighted, colored…any of the above…and you look in the mirror! Yikes, who is that person staring back it you? She has wet stringy hair, little make-up, wrinkles in places you have never seen them before and maybe the beginning of a double chin! Ok, sit up straighter and lift your head, that’s a bit better! My friends and I attribute that mirror image to poor lights and that unflattering black cape, not our chronological age. It’s a known fact that black may not be our best color that close to our face and that what we see is not our true self. I tell you, it’s a sobering moment and I only torture myself with that vision every 8 weeks.

The funny thing is, we honestly don’t recognize that woman in the mirror and we swear we feel at least 20 years younger. To top it all off, we are really starting to look like our mothers! OK, enough about our female vanity and more about how to feel our inner age. Even though aging is emotionally hard and physically challenging, these 60-something bodies have many good miles on them and really not the worst for the wear and tear. An article in AARP states that “41% of age 50-plus Americans say they are ‘optimistic’ about getting older.” That’s encouraging. They go on to say that “staying mentally and physically active can help keep you, well, younger.” Aside from things we all know like exercise, eating healthy and sleeping more; the article says that as we age we get happier! Who knew! According to research, one reason for this happiness may be that as we get older, we know most bad times are behind us. Not sure I agree with that one given the world situation but on some level I see their point since we no longer are up with cranky babies all hours of the night or must help with homework or worry about paying for college, etc. AARP says having a strong social network adds to the happiness quotient and I’m all about that. Read more about aging in this AARP Article on What to Expect in Your 60s.


Personally, I’m fighting aging at every turn by happily entering retirement, cutting back on the wine, watching what I eat and really exercising more. I surround myself with happy people and their upbeat attitude is contagious. I’m open to new adventures like riding a Harley (on the back only) with the Colonel. I feel free and youthful as we travel back roads to fun lunchtime destinations most weekends. Don’t you love my helmet?

Age is a matter of mindset. Do you agree? How do you keep that youthful feeling? Leave me a comment above.

Living the Life of Reinvention