May 29, 2008

A BIG Thank You to Bakerella

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Wednesday morning I opened my email to find one from Bakerella! She had posted on her blog the many different people who have blogged about her cupcake pops - and I was one of them! Wow, I must say, the traffic on my website was massive and it was mainly because of Bakerella! It also was posting day for the Daring Baker challenge but when I checked sitemeter - most of my referrals were from Bakerella. So, thank you Bakerella for making me more visible to others!

I also had an email from Carrie of Carrie's Kitchen Creations inviting me to sign up for her giveaway. You may also be interested in her giveaway, and if so, please visit her site. You can find out more about Carrie and her photos by visiting clicking here.

The photo to the right is her giveaway prize. If your interested in entering, please visit her site! But hurry, it will be over with May 30!

May 28, 2008

DB Challenge #3 = Opera Cake

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Our challenge this month was the Opera Cake. An Opera cake is an extremely elegant and polished French dessert that is believed to have been created around the beginning of the 1900s. Many people credit a gentleman by the name of Louis Clichy with inventing the cake and that's why it's sometimes referred to as Clichy Cake.

It is made up of 5 componets: Jaconde (the cake), a syrup, buttercream, mousse and a glaze.

I admit the part I was most afraid of was the buttercream because it was yet a different buttercream recipe from last month's. When it came right down to the time to make it, I decided to go with the original buttercream recipe and I am SO GLAD I DID! This buttercream was awesome. I flavored mine with peach schnapps and I could have eaten the whole bowl without the cake!I did not go with the mousse as I didn't have heavy cream and didn't want to make a trip to the store just to get it. Therefore, when I made the glaze, I used 2% milk instead of the heavy cream also. My only regret was that I did not make double the buttercream. I ended up with 4 layers because my cake pans were smaller than the recipe called for so I was sparing with the buttercream in order to get it on all layers.
When all was said and done, I didn't care for the Jaconde or the glaze. Grumpy on the other hand, seemed to like this cake (he ate all the sides that were cut!) The Jaconde was too "gritty" for me and I figure it was because of the almond meal and the glaze was way too sweet. My favorite part was the buttercream. I will be keeping that recipe around for future use in other cakes!
Thank you to Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice, and Liz of La Mia Cucina co-founders of the Daring Bakers and hosts of this month's challenge. You can view the recipe on Ivonne's website! Because the Daring Baker group has grown so much, they asked Fran of the blog Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie and Shea of the blog Whiskful to co-host! Click here for the rest of the DB's challenge for this month!

I would like to dedicate this post to Barbara of Barbara is the force behind the food blog event called A Taste of Yellow that supports the LiveSTRONG foundation started by Lance Armstrong.

May 27, 2008

Strawberry pie forever

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Yesterday Grumpy and I spent the day at home.....alone. I had a pretty blue day. It was my first full day at home since I lost Peabody and I had some computer time and came across all my photos of him. It just made me sad. I also was thinking of Nanny & Poppy who have both been gone from my life for quite some time now. We have special people in our lives we never forget!

It had been a while since Grumpy had pork chops, so I decided to grill him some chops with cob corn. We were supposed to have salt potatoes to go with dinner, but when I opened the bag, they were bad! So, instead, I took a few regular potatoes and fried them up with some butter. The best part of our meal was the dessert.

I haven't made a homemade pie crust in ages, but since I didn't have one of those handy Pillsbury pre-made crusts (yup, you just found out the one thing I don't like to make myself!), I had to make my own. Mom has made oil pie crust in the past, so I went on a search on all recipes for an oil pie crust recipe. The one I found was odd to me, but I tried it anyway. (It called for milk in the pie crust - I have never seen that!)

Oil Pie Crust:
2-1/3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk

Spoon flour into measuring cup and level off. Mix salt and flour together. In measuring cup, measure oil and milk. Stir into flour mixture with a fork just until you are able to form a ball. Do not over mix!

Separate dough into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 10 minutes (I did skip this part and if I hadn't, maybe my pie crust wouldn't have been tough!). I only used 1 crust so I formed the other into a pie pan and froze for baking later.

I baked my crust with my "natural pie weights" - uncooked navy beans! Hmmm, there is a good idea for one of my kids for Christmas - pie weights! However, the navy beans work just as well! I didn't time how long it took to bake, but I did bake at 350 degrees until the crust was a browned.

Strawberries have been on sale the last week in our local grocery store, so I decided I would try making a Fresh Strawberry Pie. I didn't have a recipe of my own, so I went searching on again and found a few different recipes that I ended up "mixing up" and came up with my own version.

HoneyB's Strawberry Pie (modified from various recipes)

Oil Piecrust
6 cups quartered strawberries (if they are small, just cut in half)
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup boiling water
1-3 oz package raspberry sugar free jello

Mix sugar and cornstarch together. Pour in boiling water. Stir until dissolved. Bring to boil and cook until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in jell0. Set aside to cool.

After jello mixture has cooled, place sliced berries in pre-baked piecrust. Pour jello over top and place in refrigerator to cool. If your like me, try a couple of the berries after the glaze has been poured on.....just to make sure they aren't musty! (I still think of Pastor Coe when I think of something being "musty!)

After you eat your dinner with your Grumpy and have sat on the couch surfing the web a bit and finding new items to make, you ask your Grumpy if he wants a piece of pie. If he say's no, don't listen to him because he doesn't mean it! All he will do is wait for you to sit down with your piece, THEN he will say, I'll take my pie now. If he does, make him get his own (yeah, even though I didn't. You can be tougher than me and I know you can be!)

May 26, 2008

A broken heart

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The most perfect trouble there ever was....

Peabody's first week with his new mom - napping

Peabody loving Chris (actually he's loving the strings on Chris' sweatshirt!)

Peabody & Chubby sharing the chair w/ Dad

Peabody getting a wipedown from Mom after being out in the rain

Snoozing in the laundry basket

Hogging Dad's chair

Its funny how we can become so attached to animals. I never was a person who fell so in love with an animal that I would actually kiss it ... until Grumpy brought Peabody home to me last September. That tiny little ball of fur. He was so loveable and so beautiful. He would follow me around the house and talk to me. I would pick him up and he would give a little umph while I was hugging him. AND he was so adorable, I just had to kiss him. He was my baby. And he was hit by a car this last Friday morning. My heart is so broke and it still is. Sure, my other kitties are trying to make me feel better, but I miss him so much. I miss him running behind me into the bathroom in the morning and wanting me to cradle him in my arms. I miss him swatting at my legs because I walked by him and didn't bend over to pay attention to him as I was walking by. I miss him running to the kitchen as soon as he heard the can opener and trying to reach the counter as I was squeezing the tuna water out of the can. I miss him running up my bed, across my pillow, putting his face down near mine when I wouldn't move, then plopping his little furry body right in my face - and grunting as he got comfortable. There will never be another Peabody. He was super special for the short little time he was in my life.

May 18, 2008

Kristina's Bridal Shower

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Today was the bridal shower for my future daughter-in-law Kristina. That is her to the left arriving at the party. Kristina & Justin have been dating for quite a while now. They started dating the summer of Justin's Senior year of High School. Kristina was a year ahead of Justin, but that summer, he decided to go to the Bridging Year at CU and therefore, did his senior year and his first year of college at the same time. They both graduated from college the same year - 2 years ago. Justin proposed to Kristina 2 years ago in July and the wedding is this July!

I can't believe my boy is old enough to be married. Truth be known, I was only 20 when I married his father, 21 when I had him and 22 when I had his brother! So, in all actuality, I was married with two kids at his age!

Krissy's mom did a lot of work for the party. That woman is amazing! I mean, just look at all the photos below...this is mainly her handiwork (ideas) and the assistance of bridesmaids and her sisters.

The gift table

The wishing well

The dessert table
In case your wondering, I made the creampuffs, the blueberry muffins and the chocolate chocolate chip muffins! All in the photo above!

Kristina's dad was the cook in the kitchen. They had a brunch shower and served circus shaped waffles, bagels, english muffins, toast, eggs, sausage, bacon, fruit bowl (see it above in the cutest little "pig" watermelon?), cream puffs, blueberry muffins, chocolate chocolate chip muffins, cupcakes, juice, coffee, and tea! Quite the smörgåsbord! I tried to get her dad to look at me so I could take his photo, but no luck. I told him if he let me get one picture I would leave him alone, but he told me he had heard that before and refused to look my way! Sigh. lol

They played a few games (one of which I won!) They had a list of items that if you had it in your purse, you circled it. I had 19 of the items! Who knew you could carry so much in a small purse!) As a winner, I won a purse filled with goodies. I also was one of the winners for the cupcake teapot that decorated the table. The party favor was a ceramic mug (she had multi colors) filled with goodies. You can see the cupcake teapot in the photo to the left. Also in that photo (front L-R) Aunt Marlene, my mother, Aunt Ann. In the back are Mackenzie, my cousin Andrea, and myself.

In the photo to the right here is Kristina and her mom. I told them I wanted to take their photo and they automatically "assumed" the pose! LOL. I told them they were quite "photo savy!". So was her grandmother and Aunt Liz (below). I didn't get a picture of Kristina's Aunt Jillian, but I need to mention her here also as she was a big part of the party planning and did a great deal to help out!

Kristina's Grandmother & Aunt Liz

This is a photo of Kristina and her sister Kaitlyn (to the left in the dark sweater). Kaitlyn is her Maid of Honor!

When it was time to open the gifts, Kristina's mom asked me if I would like to do the honor's of making the "bridal cap." Of course, I happily obliged! Little did Kristina know that she was going to have to wear the hat after the presents were open! She was a great sport and let me take a photo! Another step towards becoming my "daughter" is complete. Now, in another 6 weeks Kristina will be "officially" a member of our family. Welcome Kristina!

May 15, 2008

The Haagen Dazs is here!

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It's here! The ice cream I won from posting a comment on Familia Bencomo's blog! Thank you AGAIN Amy!

Yes, I had to "taste" test all of them. I suppose Grumpy will get all "your crazy" when he finds out. LOL. I received the Vanilla HoneyBee, Fleur de sel Caramel, Pomengrante Chip, Vanilla Honey & Granola yogurt and a box of snack sized vanilla almond bars.

Lets face it, Haagen Dazs, plain and simple, has awesome ice cream. One of my all time favorite flavors is Coffee and I really liked the Sticky Toffee Pudding! However, I now have some new favorites! I tried the yogurt first - wondering if the granola would be crunchy. It was, so if you like crunchies in your ice cream, GO FOR IT! (Grumpy claimed the Vanilla Honey Yogurt - said it reminded him of oatmeal cookies) I would say that it is on the bottom of my favorites though. The top would be a tie between the Vanilla HoneyBee and Fleur de sel Caramel. If these flavors are in your area, definitely give them a try!

May 14, 2008

Happy times all around but a little bitter comes with the sweet

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I have worked at a private university in northern NY for the last 11 years. I was fortunate enough to have one of my sons attend the university as did my cousin's husband during the time I was there. Once they left I thought, what am I going to do? People I love have left me all alone! Well, little did I know that I would develop relationships with students who came in as total strangers - so much so that I feel like with graduation upon us, I lost again. Its a fact of life. We live, we learn, we love, we lose. I'm speaking of lose in the sense that yesterday is never here again for us. People grow up and move on with their lives, when you seem to be sitting there the same as yesterday only different, because your now alone.

Over the last few years I have developed relationships with students that have been special, but nothing was ever as special as the one I had with the "3 Musketeers". Dan, Justin, & Darren. These 3 boys became like my own children. There wasn't a day that one (or all 3 of them) would come into the office just to say hi. They would do anything I needed, from working open house, to interviewing faculty candidates. They were my reliable students who I could always turn to...and now, in the blink of an eye...they are gone. But they will never be forgotten.

The boys came to see us the Sunday before graduation and touched my heart by bringing me a mantle clock from Things Remembered with an plaque engraved with my name, beneath it, thanking me for all my help, and their names beneath. This of course, put me to tears. Then a few days later, more students came in with the flowers at the top of this post, thanking me for my help over the last 4 years. And, to top it all off, I was able to attend graduation and sat with the parent's of the 3 Musketeers. After graduation was over, I went with the families for a bbq at the boys apartment and before I left, Dan came out with 3 red roses for me in honor of mother's day. I can't tell you how much these students have touched my life and have made me feel so special. It has been a few days now and I still can't do this without getting teary eyed. So, Dan, Justin & Darren, if you happen to read this, know you are always in my heart and will always be my "boys" just as much as my own 2 sons are! You are special!

May 12, 2008

A new way to eat a cheeseburger!

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While browing for different types of pizzas one day, I came across one that I thought might really appeal to my Grumpy. Grumpy loves to get the meat lover's pizza whenever we go out for pizza. Tastespotting led me to "For the Love of Food" blog. The Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza looked so good that I had to click!

I admit, I did not entirely read the recipe before I decided to make it. Then, last night, when I prepared to make the recipe, I found that the sauce was not a traditional pizza sauce, but one made with ketchup, mustard, tomato paste, and sugar. This kind of scared me because I thought, how can I put that on a pizza crust?? Well, DO IT! I told myself to follow the recipe and not let the uneasy feeling in my stomach take over. While I was preparing the recipe, Grumpy came out into the kitchen and saw the sauce mix on the counter. Of course, his first question was "what is that". I decided to be totally honest (I'm not a good liar anyway!) and told him it was a ketchup/mustard mixture. He didn't tell me I was nuts or anything (how suprising! lol). I voiced my concern, but said I was going to try it and if we didn't like it I just wouldn't do it again!

I want to mention also that the idea of the soy sauce soaking into the hamburger is an excellent idea! This really gave the meat some flavor. I didn't have garlic powder (bad me, I keep forgetting to buy more!) so I used minced garlic. I also didn't use gouda or american cheese. I didn't think Grumpy would appreciate the gouda and I don't care for american. I used a mixture of montery jack and colby cheese.

Let's say the pizza was a hit! I ate one piece and the Grumpster ate 5 slices! There are two slices in the fridge waiting for Chris! I will most definitely make this again in the future. Thanks to For the Love of Food for this creation!

May 10, 2008

Look what I made

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Amy, of Familia Bencomo has tagged me with the "Look What I Made" tag. Fortunately, I have made some things from other people's blogs and I can actually participate! I used to be an fanatic, but since I found the world of food blogging, well, I just don't visit that site as much as I used to. Now, because I am using GRUMPY's computer, and not mine, I can't post the photos that go with these. but if you browse thru my blog you will find all but the Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza one. I will hopefully have a post up about that by tomorrow!


1. List the names of 2-5 recipes you tried from other blogs. Provide a direct link to the recipe. If not available, give the blog link and let the reader search for the recipe by name.

2. Shortly describe your experience with the recipe.

3. Tag 3-5 other bloggers or the authors of the recipes you listed to post the links to the recipes they have tried from other bloggers. Note: If you are new to the blogging world and haven’t had a chance to try any recipes from your fellow foodies, just pass the tag on to someone else.

4. Notify the tagged bloggers about the tag either by leaving a comment on their blogs or by emailing them.

Now on to recipes I have made from other people's blogs!

1. Foster's Homemade Granola. I found this on Pittsburgh needs Eated blog. I love this granola recipe and today I bought more whole oats and almonds so I can make more! I have been eating this on my yogurt every morning since I made it!

2. Cupcake Pops. This was from Bakerella's blog. I thought these were the cutest things when I saw them and immediately I thought of making them for the women who would be attending CFY. These went over really well! (Oh my goodness, when you click on her blogspot, you will be amazed at the newest post she has as well! She has such a great blog!)

3. Nutella Banana Muffins. I found this on Delicious Days blog. I am in love with Nutella and was really craving something with it. I happened to have bananas that needed to be used so I made this recipe. It was delish!

4. Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza. This was found on For the Love of Food's blog. I actually made this for dinner this evening and will be posting about it later.

5. I want to give special mention to Medena of Cafe Chocolada. I do read her blog and one day in particular she had made cream puffs. I did make cream puff's as a result of reading her blog, but I went with my recipe (which if you actually compare her's to mine, its not much different!

Now, I'm supposed to tag 3-5 other bloggers. I am going to be a rule breaker here and not tag anyone at this time. I haven't had a lot of communication with fellow bloggers over the last week and I really want to make sure that the person doesn't mind if I tag them first. If your reading this however and you want to go ahead with the "tag" please feel welcome to!

One more thing before I go tonight...(Grumpy is anxiously waiting my presence downstairs - I think he misses my laptop more than I do! lol). Amy also tagged me with the "I love you this much" award.

If you look at the side panel of my blog, you will see all the bloggers whose pages I frequent. In all fairness, I am going to encourage you to check out those sites as I love them so much I visit them every chance I get! They are all recipients of this award :D.

May 06, 2008

Mayonnaise Cake, Memories of Nanny, and New Memories made

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One question that my grandmother would always ask me would be "What kind of cake would you like for your birthday?" I don't know why she would ask that question when she had to know exactly what my response would be....Mayonnaise! Gram made the best mayonnaise cake there was.

We had a special day on Sunday. Three of the students from my department where I work at the university wanted to come for a BBQ of venison burgers before they graduated. So, the Grumpster and I told them to choose the day and we would be ready for them.

Each of these students got a birthday cake on their birthday while they were I figured I would also bake them a cake (my mayo cake!) and give them the royal treatment! We made the Easy Bacon, Cheese, and Onion Stuffed Burgers along with a potato salad (Grumpy said this was funky and to go back to my "normal" potato salad). Offered them up some Croghan Bologna (made with ...tada...Venison!) with cheese, crackers and mustard as appys and the finale was my favorite mayonnaise cake.
Below is the recipe for the cake:

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour, stirred before measuring
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 cup Hellman's Mayonnaise
1 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla


Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 7 by 11 or 9 by 9 inch pan, at least 1-1/2 inches deep, with vegetable shortening. Dust the greased pan lightly with flour, knocking out any excess. Set aside.Into large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Set aside.

Place mayonnaise in medium bowl; gradually beat in water with fork or small whisk. Mayonnaise will thin considerably. Stir in vanilla. All at once, add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients. Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat at low speed until ingredients are combined; scrape bowl and beater(s) well. Beat at medium speed for 1-1/2 minutes. Batter should be smooth.Turn batter into prepared pan and spread level, then push batter slightly higher in corners and along sides of pan. Bake in preheated oven for 28 to 35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center emerges with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Do not overbake.

Remove to cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting or storing. If unfrosted, store airtight at room temperature for up to 3 days; freeze for longer storage.

I also had a suprise on that day as the three (Dan, Justin, and Darren) of them came with a gift in tow. They had bought me a mantle clock and had a plate engraved that had my name, thanks for all your help, and their names below. Those boys knew how to get me to cry! They are such special kids and I'm happy I was able to know them. Hopefully they will always remember the secretary who treated them like she would treat their own kids with fondness in their hearts - because they will always be in mine!

Donna's Cookbook Giveaway!

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Hey everyone! I just want to make all my readers aware of the new cookbook giveaway by Donna of Spatulas, Corkscrews & Suitcases. Check out her blog for the details and join in on the chance to win!

May 05, 2008

Another Award and Foster's Homemade Granola!

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I have Val, from More than Burnt Toast to send a thank you to today! She has awarded me with the Arte y Pico Award.

As a recipient of this award we are asked to carry on the tradition and give it to 5 deserving bloggers. It is hard to choose only 5 people we feel this award should go to!

1)You pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award with their creativity, design, interesting material, and also contribute to the blogger community, no matter what language.

2) Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.

3) Each award-winning, has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the ward itself.

4) Award-winning and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of "Arte y pico"blog , so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5) To show these rules.

I am granting this award to the following:

1. Tony Tahhan of Olive Juice. This is one creative blogger! My favorite post so far is the one where he did the "Brady Bunch" squares. I loved it! Not to mention, he has some creative recipe ideas and his food looks excellent!

2. Vicky LeBlanc of Frenchy Addict. She has great photos and I love reading of her adventures! Oh! and today is her anniversary! You should pop into her blog and wish her a happy one! :)

3. Ally of Culinary Infatuation. I love her blog and her recipes and photos look so good all the time! She is on my list of favorite blogs to check out on a regular basis!

4. SaraLynn of the Happy Baker. Sara hasn't been able to post for a while and I really miss her! She has 3 different blogs she keeps up! I am anxious for her to come back to blogland!

5. Donna at Spatulas, Corkscrews & Suitcases. She recently put up a very creative blog on what to get her for mother's day! I wish I had thought of it first!

Now - on to my granola posting!

During one of my Tastespotting browsing days I came across the blog of Lisa over at Pittsburgh needs Eated. She had made Madhur Jaffrey's Granola and the photo of her granola caught my eye. I read on about how she feels there are 3 categories of granola. They would be: Cereal, Candy, and not granola! Well, I am one of the people who falls into liking the category of candy granola! No suprise? LOL. I like crunchy, sweet, and chewy foods. Naturally, the candy granola falls into that line!

I went to a little private school in the fingerlake region of New York state. At this school, we had a cafeteria lady, Mrs. C., who was a wonderful woman who took all the young ones who worked for her under her wing and made you feel really special! She used to make a granola that I just loved and I have been on the search for a granola just like hers. So, when I saw this recipe for the candy type of granola, I bit! :-p Lisa had a link to an earlier post she had with a recipe for Foster's Homemade Granola. I decided I had to try it so I could have some crunchy sweet yummy granola to top off my morning Stonyfield vanilla yogurt with! The recipe is awesome and I am keeping this around! It calls for maple syrup and honey as the sweetener and I had just gotten some light amber syrup from my cousin so I couldn't wait to try it! I want to thank Lisa for posting the recipe and her photos! I would post the recipe, but I think you should hop on over to Lisa's blog to check it out instead!

May 02, 2008

Who made my day?

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Barbara of Barbara Bakes, recently awarded me with the You make my day award. I am glad I was able to make her day - but she in turn made my day when she gave me this award! It feels so good to have appreciation shown to you - especially when you weren't expecting it! We take advantage of a lot in this world today and one of the nice things I have found in blogland is that everyone is friendly and everyone has something wonderful to share! This takes me to passing on the award:

The award rules are: give the award to people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel happy about blogland. Let them know by posting a comment on their blog so they can pass it on. So I am passing the award on to:

Amy of Familia Bencomo. I had been reading Amy's blog, enjoying her recipies, and had even read her "about" section where she tells of her love at first sight story and how her blog is the story of "after". I posted a comment on her giveaway and was one of the winners! Yes, this made my day, but what made my day the most was that Amy actually had thought of me prior to my even commenting to win as Haagen Dazs has a "Save the honey bee" campaign going on! It was nice to hear that I have made enough of an impression on someone to actually remember me in this big ole blogworld! Thanks Amy for making my day!

May 01, 2008

Happy Birthday Little Brother!!!!

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Today is my youngest brother's birthday and I'm dedicating my page to him.....
I love ya Steve....hope you have a great one! The big 4-0 isn't all that bad.....
I oughta know!

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