Aunties M & Em

Thoughts on Faith, Family, Food, & Fun!

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Spring has sprung! The weather is warmer! The races are roaring!

Don’t you just love alliteration?  I do!  I thought of this title last night and thought it was blog worthy.  :)

Let’s take the last one first…

The races… We were watching some shows we had on the DVR after having enjoyed some lovely evening fresh air, and what do we hear in the background?  Yes, the race track!  The roar!!  I don’t mind it though.  Really, I don’t.  The races are a fun sport for many, many people.  They also serve to bring people to our town…along with their spending dollars.  That’s a good thing.Lady n Cassie 4-12-14 cropped

The weather… It certainly is warmer and this is a very good thing after the long hard winter we had here in central Illinois.  Even the girls, our dogs Lady and Cassie, are happier when the weather is nice and they can spend more time outside.  For me, as long as it’s not too hot, I’m liking the warmer temps too.

Spring… What comes with Spring this year is a new and improved way of eating.  I believe it will be a very good thing.

Wait…  Again? Yes, again.  Read on…

I was at a visit with our primary care physician and we were talking about healthy eating and he said something profound. He held up his hand and said there are five kinds of carbohydrates I should avoid – Bread. Potatoes. Pasta. Rice. Fruit.

Really?  Yikes.  Well, let’s see…

Bread… I’ve already mostly eliminated wheat from my diet.  Don’t get me wrong…I love bread.  I love making it.  I love eating it.  I love to eat it in all its many forms and flavors.  I love it fresh out of the oven.  I love it rolled over with some peanut butter and jelly.  I love it cradling a fried egg.  I love it soaked in egg for French Toast.  I love it morphed into a waffle or tortilla or pancake or…cake!!!  But bread – or more accurately, wheat –  doesn’t like me in more ways than one. So, OK…. avoid bread.

Potatoes… potatoes?  Ok, I get it.  They’re a high glycemic food and wreck havoc with blood sugar levels. *sigh* Potatoes are a staple food in our home.   But, OK… avoid potatoes.

Rice… I usually just eat rice with Asian food which we only have occasionally so… avoid rice.

Pasta… refer back to wheat.  I know I’m weird, but I’ve never been a huge pasta lover so… avoid pasta.

Fruit… Now, I do eat a banana almost every day which I will miss but I’m going to give this a good effort so… avoid fruit.

Why am I telling you about this?  Well, I’ve decided not to keep it a secret.  If anyone has any encouragement as John and I start this journey, please do share.  We would appreciate it.  :)

We did try a new low-carb recipe this morning – Cream Cheese Pancakes (Low Carb and Gluten Free).  We forgot to take a photo so you’ll either have to use your imagination or, better yet, visit I Breathe… I’m Hungry for the recipe and much more!

The recipe takes very few ingredients – cream cheese, eggs, sweetener, and cinnamon.  That’s it!  Mix it all together and cook!  Yum!  Since I’ve mostly given up wheat since last summer, we’ve tried several gluten free pancake recipes.  This one, however, is the best!!  I thought they were a lot like crepes and very similar to our beloved Egg Pancakes (next time we’ll use almond extract instead of the cinnamon for that wonderful Egg Pancake flavor).

Well, that’s it for today.  Ooops!  I just remembered that I promised more photos of our backyard remodel project. They’ll keep for another day!

Always remember that home is where your heart is…and there’s no place like home!
Auntie M

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A Little Chilly, A Little Sweet, A Little Spicy


Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow…”six more weeks of winter it shall be”! (

Happy Groundhog Day, everyone! Perhaps by now you have heard that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, thus predicting six more weeks of winter. As if spring wasn’t already scheduled to start in about 6 weeks anyway. Now, I am of the opinion that it’s February in the Midwest, and therefore, it should be cold and snowy – though, Mother Nature could keep the ice. I realize this does not make me the most popular person in the region, let alone my own house…and I’m okay with that!

Today is also Superbowl Sunday, featuring the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos. I have no real rooting interest, since my beloved Green Bay Packers were eliminated by Steven’s San Francisco 49ers in Week One of the playoffs…the 49ers were later eliminated by Seattle in a close game that came down to the last seconds…bittersweet for me, because it meant Steven was bummed out. Today, we’re both hoping for a good game, and would be okay with the Seahawks winning…so I guess we’re essentially rooting for Seattle! And, what would a Superbowl be without good commercials!

But no Superbowl is complete without some snacks, right? In years past, we’ve had homemade onion dip (Guy Fieri’s recipe is uh-may-zing, and easy, too), dry-rub Italian herbed chicken wings from a local pizza joint, buffalo chicken dip, potato soup, just to name a few. This year, we’re keepin’ it classy with White Castle sliders and fries…they had a special online deal that was too good to pass up, and they just sounded good! I know you know how that is…

I wasn’t planning on making anything for this year’s game…until I saw yesterday’s “currently crushing on” post by Jess at How Sweet It Is, her weekly roundup of interesting things she’s found…and she finds some pretty great things! The first thing that caught my attention today was Sriracha Caramel Corn at I love caramel corn, and grew up making it with Mom most years at Christmas. I haven’t made any for a couple of years, for no other reason than just not getting around to it. I don’t find caramel corn terribly difficult to make, and I enjoy seeing how the molten caramel ends up coating the kernels of popped corn while in the oven…okay, I just made my mouth water…

Sriracha…it’s spicy, it’s flavorful, and a little dab’ll do ya. I wasn’t sure how the sweetness of the caramel would hold up against the intense spiciness of the sriracha, but surprisingly, it turned out really well. The sriracha caramel does obtain a fairly smoky flavor as it finishes up in the oven, and the heat is pretty subtle as I taste a couple of kernels at a time. To me, the heat sneaks up on you, albeit in a rather pleasant way. Steven, however, has been enjoying it handful after handful since it finished earlier this afternoon.  He even told me it’s the best popcorn I’ve ever made…a compliment I’m more than willing to accept.

It's a slow burn...but worth it!

It’s a slow burn…but worth it!

Be sure to check out the recipe at!

So, now it’s nearly game time, and we’ll be picking up our sliders soon…I hope you all enjoy whatever festivities you have planned!


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Minion! Cake! Happy Birthday!

IMAG2026 croppedIf you’re like me and if someone texted you a photo of a Minion cake and asked you to make one for sweet little two year old Anley Jane’s birthday you would say, “Sure I can make that!” — and then you’d have to go online to see what in the world you signed up for!!!

Even though my cakes have that “home-made” look, I do enjoy making them.  But since our children and nieces and nephews have all grown up, I just haven’t had a reason to do it much anymore.

In the last few years though, daughter Emily and her hubby Steven have been there to help when we did have a cake to make.  Emily is an excellent baker and buttercream frosting maker and Steven can pretty much model anything out of fondant.  Between the three of us, we make quite a team!

Ok, back to the Minion cake!  Anley Jane loves chocolate so I used our favorite white wedding cake recipe and made it chocolate by substituting chocolate cake mix for the white and using all vanilla extract.  It turned out great!  In fact, my brother thought it was better than our all-time-family-favorite, Crazy Cake.  I don’t know what’s wrong with him…

IMAG2021 croppedEmily made batch after batch of buttercream frosting so we’d have plenty for the cake and both standard and mini cupcakes.  She makes the best buttercream…so smooth and creamy and easy to spread on a cake!

Now, for the decorations.  After researching different DIY decorating tips and techniques for making a Minion cake, I came up with some ideas I thought we could pull off.  I thought using chewy chocolate candies for the smile and hair would be cute.  I was told it looked like poo …. so much for that idea!  Then I ordered some black string candy that was cherry flavored thinking that would work better.  The problem was the strings were all squiggly and wouldn’t lay straight.

IMAG2027 b croppedIt’s really hard to make black frosting black, so we bought some in a can but the applicator was hard to control.  Then Emily said maybe we could squirt all the black frosting into a decorator bag with the size tip we want and apply it that way.  Tada!!  That worked beautifully!  Add an eye that Steven made from a chocolate covered peppermint patty and sculptable buttercream with a chocolate kiss in the middle… and you’re almost done!

IMAG2023 croppedTo bring in the blue that Minions wear, the cake and mini cupcakes were trimmed with blue stars and … we didn’t forget … bananas!!!  Of course, we had to work the bananas into the design!

We hope Anley Jane enjoyed her cake and had a wonderful birthday!  We sure had fun with our part.  :)

Next time I’ll continue with the Backyard Project photos!  Always remember that home is where your heart is, and there’s no place like home!  ♥
Auntie M

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Facebook and a nice photo

Lately, I’ve been pulling my hair out trying to get our blog posts to be publicized on Facebook.  I followed the directions step by step to no avail.  Arghhh!!!  So this is actually a test (of my patience) to see if it will work this time!

For anyone who may be reading this without seeing it on Facebook first because getting it to publicize was another fail…. here is a photo taken by my hubby, John.  Isn’t it beautiful?  :)

She has a happy sunflower face!

She has a happy sunflower face!

Always remember that home is where the heart is … and there’s no place like home!
Auntie M

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2013 Backyard Remodel

After adopting two rescue dogs, we knew that we needed to provide a safe place for them to run and explore freely without being leashed.  So in September, we started the 2013 Backyard Remodel project… fencing in a large portion of our yard.

John, with lots of help from our son Greg and son-in-law Steven, moved an existing shed, drilled 36 post holes and set 36 posts in concrete, strung 100+ feet of fencing, built three gates, and moved several loads of gravel.

It was a lot of work but finally, just before Thanksgiving, it was finished!  The girls are so happy!  And so are we!

I’m going to let the photos tell the story…. (click on a photo to see more detail and begin a slide show)

There are lots more photos so look for them in future posts.

Always remember that home is where the heart is … and there’s no place like home!
Auntie M

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The Girls

Oh my goodness!  Can it be December 28th already?  A belated Merry Christmas to you!

Well, let’s see… in my last post I told you about our new family member, Lady.  I also mentioned that we were praying about a companion dog for her.  Good news!  On August 3rd, we adopted Cassie, a 9 year old Yorkshire Terrier who needed a new home.

Cassie had been with her previous pet parents, an older couple, since she was 5 weeks old, so it was an adjustment when her pet mom died, her pet dad went to live in a nursing home and, for two months or so no one was able to keep her.  But when our niece Jenna introduced me to Cassie, it was love at first sight!

John and I had thought that we wanted to get another Cavalier King Charles Spaniel so it took a day or so for us to adjust to the thought of a Yorkie.  Jenna and I had arranged for me to meet Cassie at her check up at the veterinarian and by the time we were finished there, I knew she would come home with me right then!

When we got home John and Lady were outside to greet us and “the girls” (as we call them) got along right from the start!  It was all meant to be!

So now our lives revolve around being a two dog family and all that goes with it… house training, command training, food (dry, wet, or combination?), allergy problems (for Cassie), heart problems (for Lady), teeth cleaning, walking them, playing with them, going for rides in the car with them, and loving them with all our hearts.

If you’re thinking of getting a pet, please consider adopting a rescue animal.  Providing a loving forever home will be a huge blessing!

Always remember that home is where the heart is … and there’s no place like home!
Auntie M


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