Penny's Passion: April 2015

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Thinking Out Loud Thursday - April 30, 2015

Welcome to another Thinking Out Loud Thursday with me and Vanessa at X-tremely Vanessa .  I'm so glad you stopped by!  The rules are simple.  Link back to me and Vanessa in your post and linkup your favorite post below.  Super easy!  #ThinkingOutLoudThursdays

X-tremely V

So today I'm thinking about the love/hate relationship I have with Facebook.  Anyone else with me on this?  I can't seem to go a day without checking it.  One minute I'm loving what I'm seeing then -- BAM -- I see something in my feed that totally derails me.

Before I start with my hate and love reasons, let me breakdown a couple cold hard facts I discovered about our friend Facebook.

     ~ 890 million people log onto Facebook daily.

     ~ Every 60 seconds, 510 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated and 136,000 photos are        uploaded.

     ~ Average time spent per Facebook visit is 20 minutes.

     ~ Five new profiles are created every second.

     ~ Highest traffic occurs midweek between 1 and 3 pm.

Now, my views on Facebook ~ let me start with my hate reasons.  Do you sometimes start scrolling through your feed and the next thing you know you're stalking someone you went to grade school with and haven't heard from in years?!?  (Please tell me I'm not the only one that does this.)  Before you know it, you look at the clock and literally an hour has gone by.  What!!!  Now, I don't like to believe it was a total waste of my time because if one of my other friends asks me if I know what happened to so-in-so, I'll have many of the answers.  But still, I probably could have used that hour in a much more productive way.

Second is the energy drain.  Saturday, for instance, I was checking my feed and realized I haven't been invited to a party I really wanted to go to.  I immediately felt myself moving towards that edge of no return.  What did I do -- I immediately called my friend Sherri to talk me off the ledge.  (Sorry Sherri -- it was your turn to take one of my frantic calls.)  After a significant amount of time trying to make heads or tails out of WHY they wouldn't want me at their party and a great amount of Sherri stroking my damaged ego, I felt somewhat much better.  Side note -- Sherri, being the great friend that she is, immediately called Eric to warn him of the situation he would be facing when he walked in the house from work.  Hence, Eric cautiously entered after working all day bearing flowers.  Smart man.  But checking Facebook had been a total energy drain on my day!!  Again, please tell me I'm not the only one who has lived through this scenario!

Of course, there's also the LOVE side of Facebook.  I absolutely ADORE watching my friend's kids as they grow.  Just look at my friend Dorothy's daughter below.  You're just not human if these pictures don't make you smile!  I love it when they post pictures of her and it definitely brightens my day.

Also on the "love" side of Facebook is the ability to share great news with everyone like -- when Kayla and Ian got engaged way back when.  Reading people's comments of congratulations was so fun!

And Facebook is always good for a laugh - like when people post amusing funnies like this:

Ahhhh Facebook -- how I love/hate you!!  What about you -- do you have any love/hate relationships?  Would love to hear about them!

Enjoy more Thoughts for Thursday at

Monday, April 27, 2015

Angel Food Cake with Strawberry Creme Icing

Happy Tuesday!  I want to share a super simple dessert idea with you today.  I love this recipe because it comes together so fast, takes very little ingredients and tastes amazing -- all good things in my book!

easy cake recipe

I belong to a women's group at my church and once a year we take a turn hosting the refreshment portion of the monthly meeting.  My month was April and I knew I wanted something that looked like Spring and I could whip up in the short time from when I got home from work and when the meeting started.  The size of the group is around 24, so that needed to be a factor also.  This angel food cake recipe immediately came to mind!

To make my life even easier, I decided to buy premade angel food cakes.  Honestly, the ones I purchase tastes every bit as good as the ones I make, so the decision to buy them was an easy one.

Here's the ingredients for the icing:

Frozen package of strawberries in juice
Container of Cool Whip
 (I used regular, but if you want to lighten up on the calories you could use fat free)
Package of sugar free jello

Let the strawberries thaw in the refrigerator over night.

Strain the berries, reserving the juice.

If your berries are cut in large pieces, chop them into smaller ones.

Mix the berries with the Cool Whip.  Dump in about 1/2 the package of sugar free jello.  Stir.

Add a small amount of the reserved juice to make the mixture more spreadable.

Slather the Cool Whip mixture over the cake.  

Cut and serve.

I love how this cake screams light and delicious with it's bright pink color!  The icing complements the angel food cake perfectly.  I made three cakes and it literally took me less than twenty minutes to do all three of them.  To sweeten the deal even more, the ladies RAVED about it.  Just can't beat that!

Don't forget about the Summer Must Have for Moms giveaway I have going on HERE.  
You have to enter to win!

Handmade Tuesday's with Kristen
Let's Be Friends Blog Hop with The Dwelling Tree
Green Fashionista and Martinis & Bikinis: Recipe Swap
Eat Drink & Be Mary: Delicious Dish Tuesday
Love From The Kitchen: Tuesday's Table
The Diary of a Real Housewife
Andrea at Momfessionals

Weekending - April 24, 2015

I seriously believe that Saturday and Sunday have fewer than 24 hours in them.  They always seems to go by SOOOOO much faster than Monday through Friday.  We had a wonderful weekend and here's the lowdown on what filled our days.

Friday night I joined Sherri and Tracy to be a roamer at Washington University's Spring WILD (walk in lay down) concert.  Botnek and Mac Miller performed and the students had a blast!  Funny thing being around college kids at an event like that -- you feel their energy and it makes you feel so young at the same time you feel so old.  We enjoyed the evening and the event!

Eric had to work on Saturday and I had high expectations for the day.  Carol was bringing by my new wreath and ferns for the porch and I was so excited to see the final outcome.  You might remember I bought THESE POTS and Carol was finishing the look.  Well, here it is (and I absolutely love it) ~

My day was brightened when Eric showed up after work with these beauty flowers.  Yes, I'm lucky he's my husband!

Saturday night we took Ian and Kayla out to dinner at a new place for us - Via Vino.  Great night!  I just treasure spending time with them and it's so good for the soul to sit and catch up.  With Mother's Day approaching, I've been thinking a lot about being a mom and how very much I treasure it.  Being a mom to an adult child is certainly different than when they are younger, but spending time with them is equally enjoyable.  I'm also so blessed to now have Kayla in addition to Ian.  Kayla has become the daughter I never had.  Love them!

On Sunday, Eric and I squeezed in as much as we could.  First thing we headed over to La Patisserie Chouquette.  If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know I've blogged about this fabulous bakery before.  They are typically not open on Sunday, but were this week to celebrate the release of Spring Baking Championship premiering Sunday night on Food Network.  Simone, the pastry chef, is a contestant on the show and I'm so excited to see how she does!!  Had to snap a picture with her!  Good luck, Simone!

Simone Faure

We were a bit hungry so stopped by Old Standard Fried Chicken.  Look at this chicken goodness!  We each picked a side -- I chose roasted Brussels sprouts and Eric picked mashed potatoes.  Both, along with the chicken, were mouth-watering fabulous.

After filling our bellies, we had a little shopping to take care of.  With some coupons, I landed a free pair of panties from Victoria Secret and some fragrance samples from Sephora.  Love free stuff!

Then we headed home to catch the Blues game.  Big, no -- HUGE disappointment.  Will we EVER get through the first round of the playoffs?!?  Oh my goodness, I'm still in shock that we lost this series.  I have no words.  The only thing enjoyable about the game was eating "The Darkness" pastry we picked up at Chouquette earlier in the day.

Did you catch my post last night?  Well, it's one you don't want to miss!  I'm lucky to be participating in the Summer Must Haves for Mom.  It's going to be epic!  Hope you join in the fun.  Please check it out!

Have a great Monday!  Showing you an angel food cake tomorrow.  Hope you come back to see it.

Check out what others were up to this weekend.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Summer Must Haves for Mom Giveaways

Hello friends!  I'm teaming up with a couple fabulous bloggers to bring you a EPIC giveaway ~ the Summer Must Haves for Mom Event!  Let me present Jen and Rach to tell you all about it:

Welcome!! Can you believe we're back for a third #SummerMustHaves event?! I'll tell you...the first year we did this, it was small potatoes. But it was crazy fun to do a little something just for mamas. Since that inaugural giveaway (also our first giveaway ever...we do it big around here!), we've only grown, and this year's even promises to be EPIC. Not only have we increased our grand prize count to FOUR huge prize bundles, we've got some killer co-hosts, a link up for all things mama and summer-centric, and some really awesome sponsors. As if that's not enough, we are bringing you two weeks of fun across twelve blogs! You read that right folks...for the next two weeks, we're bringing you summer related product reviews, DIYs, how-tos, freebies, games, chats and more!


Ready to meet the bloggers bringing the party to your corner of the interwebs? You know us: Jen and Rach
And here are the lovely ladies that just couldn't wait to bring their readers a little bit of summer lovin' too:

  Co-Host Collage 

 From top left: Anita at One Sleepy Mommy/Elizabeth at Life at Home/Jules at One Ruud Mom Erin at From Cubicle to Home/Lory at The Robin's Nest Designs/Kristen at The Road to Domestication Brandyn from Life, Motherhood, and the Pursuit of Happiness/Stephanie from Sharing A to Z/Erin from My Monkeys and Me Ida from Second Chances Girl/Penny from Penny's Passion

 Down below, you'll find a link up, and we want to see all your hard work! Show us any and everything you think moms need to know to be ready for the upcoming summer season. Over the course of the two week event, we're going to be featuring tons of your work, so be sure to grab a Summer Must Haves button and link back if you want us to show off your work!

The rules: No linkups or giveaways. For this event only, we WILL allow roundups. We reserve the right to remove links that break the rules, and/or links that are not in keeping with The Evolution of Mom's values...keep it clean, no judging...just be nice, and we're happy!

And now, because you've been so patient, we're going to really give up the goods...keep reading to find out the deets on this year's prize bundles!

This year, instead of just tossing some of our faves into a tote, we decided to have a little fun with it. Each bundle is themed this year, based on the type of mama you are, or the type of mama you might want to be. We plan to keep the full details under wraps, because who couldn't use more happy surprises?-- But we'll share the pics so you have some idea!

For your viewing pleasure: 



Bombshell: IMG_8168

and Relaxed: IMG_8160

Enter using the giveaway app below. Remember to complete all mandatory steps in order to qualify. 

As a bonus: All of our co-hosts have agreed to offer new subscribers a bonus entry. What does that mean for you? Simply visit any or all of our co-hosts. Using the method they've outlined, subscribe to their blog. It's that simple. They will track all new subscribers for the duration of the event, and at the end, we will manually add all of the bonus entries. That means, on top of your basic entries, you could get up to TWELVE bonus entries! Twelve additional chances to win one of those four bundles, and a chance to keep tabs on your new favorite bloggers. What could be better?!

Oh gets better. Want to win additional prizes? Want to win them instantly? Then be sure to join us for one of our additional mini events during this two week party. On Thursday April 30th, at 8pm MST (10pm EST, 7pm Pacific) we're hosting a Twitter party called Summer Beauty, where we will guessed it...all facets of mom's summer beauty routine. We'll chat tips, budget, brands, and more! During that event, we will have two great prizes up for grabs.

And on Wednesday, May 6th at 8pn MST, we'll have a second chat, titled Just for Mom. We're going to discuss things like staying fit while your kids are home for the summer, making time for yourself, sanity savers, and more. Again, we'll be offering two prizes! To find either party, simply search for the hashtag #SummerMustHaves.

And if Twitter chatting isn't your thing, stay tuned on your co-hosts' Facebook pages for the duration of the event. We'll be offering 'blink and you'll miss them' flash giveaways of TONS of great product samples for the whole two weeks! We may even have a couple of full-sized goodies to go along with product reviews...because what fun are freebies if you can't share?!

To keep up on all the latest action from the link party AND from our co-hosts, we invite you to follow our board Summer Must Haves for Mom on Pinterest!

Special thanks to our sponsors Michele and Russell Ford for some fabulous Miche and Seacret goodies to offer our readers. If you'd like to know more about either brand, you can find Russell and Michele here and here. If you're Colorado Springs local, stay tuned for some exciting news from them later this week!

Whew! You made it through! Now comes the fun part. Drop your links in the party below, hit up the giveaway app to enter to win one of those killer prizes, and then join us on Facebook or Twitter for tons of mom friendly summer fun! Thanks for joining us, we sure do love having you all around!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Five on Friday - April 24, 2015

Welcome Friday -- I was beginning to think you'd never get here!  I've had an eye thing going on this week (ulcerated cornea) and it's made the days go by a lot little slower than normal.  It's on the mend now and I'm so grateful to be seeing things once again.  Plus it didn't help that when I woke up on Thursday, I thought it was Friday.  Ever had one of those?!?

Well, now that it IS Friday, let me share my five with you today.

1.  Seatbelt Cutter Window Breaker Emergency Escape Tool
On my way home from work Monday evening, I saw the most horrible traffic accident.  An RV hauling a trailer with a van on it had a blowout and crashed into a pole, causing the entire rig to catch on fire.  The scene was one of total devastation and unfortunately both the driver and his passenger lost their lives.  It reminded me (again) that I had never purchased the Seatbelt Cutter Window Breaker Emergency Escape Tool.  This tool is under $10 and could potentially save your life.  Ordering one for myself this week!  Do you have one in your car?

2. National Pigs in a Blanket Day
On a MUCH lighter note, guess what day today is?!?  It's National Pigs in a Blanket Day!!  I love these things and haven't made them in, well -- so long I can't really remember.  So this weekend guess what I'm fixing -- good old pigs in a blanket.  If you need a refresher on how to do it, here you go.  
8 hot dogs
4 slices American cheese, each cut into 6 strips
1 8-ounce can Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

Heat oven to 375. Slit hot dogs to within 1/2 inch of ends; insert 3 strips of cheese into each slit.
Separate dough into triangles. Wrap dough triangle around each hot dog. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, cheese side up.
Bake at 375 for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Crescent Dogs offers a new twist on a classic favorite for National Pigs in a Blanket Day

3.  The Age of Adaline Movie
Another movie going on my list of ones I want to see -- The Age of Adaline.  The story line goes like this:  "After miraculously remaining 29 years old for almost eight decades, Adaline Bowman has lived a solitary existence, never allowing herself to get close to anyone who might reveal her secret. But a chance encounter with charismatic philanthropist Ellis Jones reignites her passion for life and romance. When a weekend with his parents threatens to uncover the truth, Adaline makes a decision that will change her life forever."  The beautiful Blake Lively plays Adaline.

4.  Nestle Delightfulls Filled Baking Morsels
One of my new blogging friends, Michelle, over at Grammie Time had a recipe for Sunflower Oatmeal Chocolate Morsel Cookies. They sound out-of-this-world delicious! One of the ingredients is Nestle Delightfulls Filled Baking Morsels with Caramel Filling.  Where have I been?!?  I'd not heard of these before.  I really need to get out more.  Nestle has other flavors too ~ Dark Chocolate Morsels with Cherry Flavored Filling, Dark Chocolate Morsels with Mint Filling, Milk Chocolate Morsels with Peanut Butter Filling.
5.  Words To Live By
Enjoy your weekend!  I'm off tonight to do a little volunteer thing with my friends Sherri and Tracy.  We're going to be "roamers" at Washington University's Spring WILD party.  Sounds interesting, doesn't it!  I'll try to get pictures to share on my blog Monday.  

Linking up with:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Thinking Out Loud Thursday - April 23, 2015

Welcome to another Thinking Out Loud Thursday with me and Vanessa at X-tremely Vanessa .  The rules are simple.  Link back to me and Vanessa in your post and linkup your favorite post below.  Super easy!  #ThinkingOutLoudThursdays

X-tremely V

Today I'm thinking about Mother's Day.  It's just a few short weeks away and I've been trying to think of gifts for my mom and mother-in-law.  It's sometimes hard to come up with that special token of your appreciation that expresses all you want it to convey.  Some years I'm spot on and others I know I miss the mark.  (When you miss, those are times that it's the thought that counts, right?!?)  But when I'm on, I LOVE seeing the excitement in the gift recipient's face when they open the box and see what's inside.  

Over the years, I've received some great gifts from my son Ian.  One of the best Mother's Day gifts I have received from him were my wind chimes.  I absolutely love listening to the musical sound as the wind blows.  I can sit on the porch and listen to them all day long.  I've even been known to reach up and move the weight myself on days when there isn't enough wind to move it.  With each note, I think of Ian and how much I love him.  Makes me smile every time.  

Front Porch

Sometime I'll have to tell you about the VERY BEST gift I got from him and Kayla for my birthday -- but that's a story for another day.  Back to Mother's Day~

When I was hunting around the internet for ideas, I came across a couple I thought could be great for the right mother.

This Popcornopolis 4-Cone Classic Gourmet Popcorn Gift Basket would be great to accompany a gift certificate to your mom's favorite movie theater.

popcorn gift basket

Or for the mom who loves to cook, how about Ina's cookbook Barefoot Contessa:  How Easy Is That:  Fabulous Recipes & Easy Tips. (You might even get to reap the benefit of some great new dishes!)

Barefoot Contessa cookbook

What about this hip Sakroots Artist Circle Yoga Sling Backpack that's lightweight and easy to carry.  How cool would your mom look carrying her yoga mat into class with this baby slung over her shoulder?!?

So do you have any ideas for my mom or mother-in-law?  I still have nothing.  Hoping something comes to me soon!

I'll leave you with this video.  Have you seen it?  I swear I cried like a baby every time I watched it.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase.  Your cost is the same no matter where you click from.
Enjoy more Thoughts for Thursday at

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Weekending - April 17, 2015

This has been one of the most laid back weekends I've had in years -- and it was much needed!  After several late nights of activity last week, I was looking forward to a relaxing weekend.  It ended up being a great mix of fun and tranquility.

Late Friday afternoon I got a text from my friend Sherri asking if I wanted to grab a drink after work.  Well, heck yes I did!  We swung by Houlihan's and had a chance to catch up with each other.  After that, we grabbed Eric and headed to Hemingway's Zen Garden - a local wine bar.  Brad Noe was entertaining the crowd with some great music from the Stones, Pearl Jam, Neil Young just to name a few.  Fun times!

Brad Noe

Saturday Eric and I decided to work on our garden.  Our garden space is nothing like the gardens we had when we were growing up.  Both our parents have had very large gardens with tons of different vegetables.  We have a postage-stamp size spot and only grow a few things.  Last year I decided I wanted to box our space in to make the edges more pronounced.  Eric did a great job getting this project started.  We have a ways to go before it's finished, but starting is the hardest part right?!?

We needed to take a break midday to watch the Blues play - thank goodness they won!  Congratulations to Vladimir Taraseno on your hat trick! As a matter of fact, it was a great sports day for St. Louis with wins in baseball and hockey.

St. Louis Blues Hockey

Sunday we woke to raindrops.  We managed to sneak in a walk between showers.  Upon getting home we decided to sit on the porch and do some reading.  Since that's the highlight of my day, let me share some facts I read about while enjoying my tea on the porch.

So, I'm a magazine addict.  I love all magazines and have the hardest time throwing them away.  Which leads to my magazine hoarding problem, but that's a post for another day.  Today I want to share what I read in my Every Day with Rachael Ray.  No, it's not a recipe.  It's information about how to save on air travel.  With people planning their summer vacations, I thought it might be interesting info for some of you.

Every Day with Rachael Ray

Here's some of my favorite facts straight out of the May edition:

~  Time your searches right.  "Domestic fares are updated at 10 am, 1 pm, 4 pm and 8 pm," says Matthew Ma, co-founder of  So if you've been searching for a flight and the prices have been steeper than you'd like, check back a few minutes after the update hours and you may find a rate drop.

~  Exploit a loophole.  Tickets sold in the U.S. must have a 24-hour cancellation window (if the reservation is made more than seven day out), and this magical sliver of time is when you can alter your ticket sans ugly fees.  So if your flight suddenly becomes available for less, contact the airline to be credited for the difference in price.  Or use the "airline refunds" function on the flight-tracking site

~  Lock in your price.  Commitment-phobe?  Use to hold a great fare for you to three weeks.  Holding fees vary by flight and the number of holds on it, but most are between $6 and $24.

Those are my favorite.  For more, check out the full article in the magazine.  Click HERE if you're interested in a subscription.  A one-year subscription is $5.24 (10 issues).  Can't really beat that!

Speaking of favorite things, Saturday I was so excited to see my lilacs blooming!  This bush was started off of a huge lilac bush from my parents yard.  I love the fact it's part of the lilac bush I grew up smelling.  Hopefully it will continue to grow and produce more and more blooms each year.



Remember the poem my friend Linda wrote and I blogged about HERE?  Well, guess what -- she won third place in the contest it was entered into.  CONGRATULATIONS, Linda!!  So proud of your dedication to your students and your career.

We're wrapping up the weekend by watching the Cardinals on Sunday Night Baseball.  Have a great Monday!!  We're expected some cooler weather this week -- hope Spring returns soon.

Check out what others were up to this weekend.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Five on Friday - April 17, 2015

Happy Friday!!  This week has been packed with sporting events (two Cardinal games and a Blues game) and I'm looking forward to a peaceful evening of resting tonight.  It's been one of those weeks that flew by and I really need to step back for a minute and breath.  So glad the weekend is here so I can do a little catching up!  Here's my five for today ~

1.  The Rolling Stones
Have you heard -- they are touring this summer!!  And guess who has tickets?!?  I do, I do, I do!!  They are not coming to St. Louis, but they ARE coming to Kansas City and that's close enough for me to get there.  This will be my first Stones concert and to say I am excited is an understatement.  Are they coming to a city near you?

2.  Nomad Flower Mugs
Just look at these Nomad Flower Mugs from World Market -- aren't they so adorable!!  Now that the weather is getting warmer, I've had this vision of sitting on my front porch with a cup of tea some weekend morning reading my Kindle.  When I saw these, I could actually picture them in my hand.  It would be even better if I had some weekend guests to use the other three.

3.  Sargento Balanced Breaks
Check out these little snack packs.  I spied a pack in one of our refrigerators at work and tracked down the owner to see where she found them.  (She got hers at Walmart.)  Sargento has 4 selections of cheese/nut/fruit combos:
Cheddar Cheese with Cashews and Cranberries
Pepper Jack Cheese with Peanuts and Raisins
White Cheddar Cheese with Almonds and Cranberries
White Cheddar Cheese with Cashews and Raisins
They come in packs of 3 and have less than 200 calories per pack.  I'm thinking they will make excellent snacks to go.  I'm going to grab some for work too.  Definitely getting some of these this weekend.

4.  Walkmeter App
I'm participating in our Spring walking program at work where we have 12 weeks to walk 100 miles.  I'm not one of the many who have a FitBit or some other device you wear to record your exercise activities, so I resorted to downloading a free app to track my miles.  After a little research, I picked the free Walkmeter app.  So far I'm loving it!  By GPS, it tracks your walk and lets you know your walk time, distance, pace and calories burned.  Not bad for free.  Now I just need to figure out how to get more walking done.

5.  Now that's a bad day.....

Hope you have a fantastic weekend!  

Linking up with: