Feb 29, 2012

February was fun...

Oh Febuary, I was so in love with you this year! I never knew you could have so many endearing qualities.  In the past, it seems I've only known the desolation of your cold, gloomy days and blustery, assulting snow and ice.  But this time you came to me gently and your mild, sunny ways melted my heart.  I celebrated you like never before.

It's time to leave you now, February.  We even had one extra, glorious day together...Thanks for this beautiful sun-kissed day ~ I will not soon forget the warmth of your embrace. What a sweet surprise you have been! I needed you so!

Feb 12, 2012

Decadent Peanut Butter Pie*

‎"Pie is meant for sharing. Pie connects people. Pie knows no cultural or political boundaries. Pie makes people happy. And happy people make the world a better place. That’s why the world needs more pie." ~ Beth M. Howard

I stumbled into Beth Howard's blog as I was leafing through my Country Living magazine, where she was featured.  The title is what caught my eye:  The World Needs More Pie.  She also has a memoir that is due out in print shortly: Give Piece a Chance.  I'd never heard of her or her blog until this morning, but I did feel an immediate bond of sorts with her.  I am a pie baker, albeit on a much much smaller scale!  And she is right! Pie DOES make people smile.  Why IS that?

I think some people are just intimidated by pie making.  They think it is something mysterious and best left to the professionals.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  I think the thing I like most about making pies is not only is it a creative outlet, (a beautiful and delicious home made pie IS a work of art, is it not?) but results are fairly immediate and as Beth says, pies make people smile!  Rarely does anyone say, "sorry, I don't do pie", so the chances of having your masterpiece rejected are fairly slim.

So I thought I would put this recipe up today in case anyone wanted to make it for Valentine's Day this week.  My friend Jennifer brought a couple of these to our Thanksgiving dinner last year and it was LOVE at first bite!  I put one together this afternoon...it's chilling in the fridge right now!  Very easy to make and only takes a couple of ingredients.

Makes one pie, 6-8 servings/ prep time:  15 mins. / Ready in 2 hrs.
1 cup JIF Creamy Peanut Butter plus 2 Tbsp (divided)
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 12-oz. container (4 1/2 cups) frozen whipped topping, thawed (divided)
1 prepared chocolate pie crust
1 11.75 oz. Smucker’s Hot Fudge Topping (divided)
1. Beat together 1 cup peanut butter, cream cheese, and sugar in large bowl with an electric mixer on medium until well combined.  Gently mix in 3 cups whipped topping until thoroughly combined.  Spoon mixture into pie crust.  Using a spatula, smooth mixture to edges of pie.
 2. Reserve two Tbsp. of hot fudge topping in the corner of a resealable food storage bag; set aside.  Microwave remaining topping on high for one minute.  Stir.  Spread topping over pie, covering entire peanut butter layer.  Refrigerate until set.  Spread remaining whipped topping (1 1/2 cups) over hot fudge layer, being careful not to mix the two layers.  
 3. Cut a small corner of bag containing topping.  Squeeze bag to drizzle topping over pie.  Place remaining 2 Tbsp. peanut butter in a resealable food storage bag.  Cut bag corner and squeeze to drizzle in opposite direction from topping.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

So if you want something quick, yummy, and mysterious to serve on Valentine's Day, this would be it. And don't forget to smile!

* Decadent Peanut Butter Pie ©/® The J. M. Smucker Company

Feb 8, 2012

"Personality is what you are to others..."

Today is my mom's 83rd birthday!  And I want her to know I've not forgotten what she wrote in my autograph book more than 50 years ago:

"Personality is what you are to others, character is what you are."

So often we are judged by our outward appearances...our looks, our style of dress, how much we weigh, how we present ourselves publicly, and so forth.  As a teenager,  one of my close friends told me, "if it wasn't for your hair...you would be...nothing! Really?  I laugh at that memory now.  I know she was trying to compliment me and in an awkward way was saying that I did a pretty good job with my hair style and it was one of my best outward features.  

Sometimes even now friends make comments to me like "you need to get a life" or "you need to get out more often".  When I hear that sort of thing, I just accept that they are making a judgment about an aspect of my personality that they can see outwardly.

My brother Don, who happens to be fighting a very serious form of cancer, updated his blog recently and talks about risking intimacy in relationships. We don't always let the barriers down and allow others to see us up close and personal. Sometimes I hesitate to "show myself" because I don't want to seem like I am trying to draw attention to myself or make it look like I am asking for a pat on the back.  It's often more comfortable just to keep things between me and God.

I also don't like rejection (who DOES?!) and I've lived enough years now to fully know that not everyone will accept me for who I really am, what I have to say, or love me in spite of my best (and often flawed) attempts at communicating.  Still, being misunderstood is painful.

Having said all of the above, I want to share a couple things that gave me a lot of personal joy yesterday.  My hubby and I took a couple of hours to pick up donated casseroles, soups, and cookies from our church and deliver them to an inner city ministry.  We had opportunity to chat with the house mom and a young girl doing some community service as part of her legal obligation.  After that, we stopped at a local restaurant and picked up some food which we delivered to a friend who is staying day and night at the children's hospital with her special needs son who was admitted with breathing problems, and her 2 month old nursing daughter.  Her other two children are with their grandmother.  My friend isn't married and can't work, so finances are very limited and she simply could not afford to buy meals at the hospital.  

I haven't stopped to analyze why yesterday was so meaningful to me personally or why I felt such joy in serving others.  But if I had to guess, I would say it is probably because in spite of our own job uncertainty and my brother's health crisis, and a few other things going on that keep me on my knees, I realized again how very blessed I have been in so many ways.  There's just something about getting close enough to the real life situations of others that makes you realize you don't have it so bad, in spite of frustrating or even agonizing circumstances.  

So I want to say "thank you Mom!" for instilling in me very early on that character development is far more important than any of the things that people see about my personality.  

"...for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." I Samuel 16:7