Penny's Passion: January 2016

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Weekending - Last One in January

How can it be Monday already?!?  I'm just not sure how in the world Saturday and Sunday can go by so fast!  Our weather was fantastic in the St. Louis area this weekend.  I had forgotten how great it is to leave the house without being bundled up in the winter gear.  I know we have some winter still ahead, but weekends like this make it a tad bit more bearable.

Last Friday was my friend Janet's last day at work.  After over 20 years at our company, she's joining the retirement community. It was fun doing a little working countdown last week.

There have been three of us having lunch together for two decades.  Friday Tammy and I took Janet for her last lunch with us as a working gal.  We headed to one of our favorite spots - Crown Candy Kitchen.

We celebrated again Friday after work with a happy hour at a local pub.  Janet, you are loved by many and will be missed!  Can't wait to hear about your adventures in retirement.

Eric was off work Saturday and I was grateful we got to spend the day together.  We headed to one of our favorite BBQ joints for lunch - Pappy's Smokehouse.  Owner Mike Emerson sure knows how to smoke meat!  Pappy's is one of those places that sells out fast and Saturday was no exception.  I was really hoping for the burnt ends, but we didn't get there early enough and I had to go with my second choice of pulled pork.  It didn't disappoint!

Pappy's is located not far from our new Ikea so after lunch we swung in there to look for ideas for our son Ian's old bedroom.  I'm hosting girls weekend at my house in April and I'm hoping to give that bedroom more of a guest room feel.  The new bedding is on its' way and I just need to pick out a few more items to finish the look.  Reveal coming as soon as there's something to reveal.

Saturday night we headed to the Peabody Opera House to see Million Dollar Quartet.  Great show!  The setting for this musical was Sun Studios in Memphis.  Eric and I just toured Sun Studios last summer so that made watching the play a bit more fun.

 Sun Studios

The weather on Sunday continued to be wonderful and I could feel my mood brighten as soon as I stepped out of the house.  It was a day for many of my favorite things -- first I was up early enough to do a facial mask before getting ready for church.  After a great service, I met five of my friends for book club (which I'm not sure "book club" is the appreciate name for this group since I don't believe we've talked about a book in a few months).  Then it was home to make dinner and dessert. 

Dinner was a new brown butter scallops with Parmesan risotto recipe I found over at Pinch of Yum.  And yum it was!  This recipe is devine.  Definitely adding it to my "recipes for a special occasion" list.

I'll be sharing the recipe for this scrumptious chocolate turtle poke cake on Tuesday.  You won't want to miss it!

What were you up to this weekend?  Are you ready to kick off the first week in February?  I guess we'll know our fate for winter on Groundhog's Day Tuesday.  Remember, if the groundhog sees his shadow we are supposed to have six more weeks of winter.  But if he doesn't, Spring will come early.  Here's hoping for a cloudy day on Tuesday!

Check out what others were up to this weekend.
Bella and the City
The Quinntessential Mommy
How To Get Organized At Home

Over the Moon
This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Five on Friday - January 29, 2016

Oh my goodness - Friday is here.  I face today with very mixed emotions.  First, I'm always happy to see a Friday roll around!  Love the weekends.  But this Friday is the last day of work for my friend Janet, who has sat next to me for the last 18 years.  It's hard to believe that when I arrive on Monday, she won't be at her desk and we won't be filling each other in on what we did this weekend.  Not only have I sat next to Janet, we also have lunch together every day.  Yes, Monday will be a bit different.  Luckily for me the lady who is replacing her is absolutely wonderful and it will be fun sharing office space with her.  

Now, on to the busy at hand -- this week's Five on Friday:

1.  Nine Track Mind
Charlie Puth's debut album is released today and I can't wait to listen to the whole thing.  I saw him on Ellen a while back and he just seems like the nicest guy and I love his voice!  If you're not sure who he is, he's the one with the hit single "Marvin Gaye".  I swear every time I hear that song I'm humming it all day long.

2.  It's Your World:  Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going!
Speaking of Ellen, I was catching up on some old Ellen's I had taped and saw Chelsea Clinton talking about the book she wrote for grade 5-8 readers.  This book is a basic primer on social issues like education, poverty, women's rights, public health and the environment.  She stresses the important of being proactive and involved when it comes to current events.  Could be just the book to get your child interested in our world!  From the looks of it on Amazon, it's getting great reviews.

3.  Passport News

Guess what happened 10 years ago - 2006 and 2007 was when it became necessary to have a passport to travel to varies parts of the world where before you didn't need one.  It was 2007 when the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative went into effect which required a passport to travel from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Bermuda.   Sooooo, if you got your passport during that time for a trip you might want to check it now before vacation season is upon us and you have an expired passport in your hands.  The State Department is expecting to be overwhelmed with renewals and the turnaround times to be slower than normal.  Word to the wise:  Plan ahead.

4.  Peaky Blinders
Loving this show right now.  As a matter of fact, I'm hoping to make a pretty big dent in the series this weekend.  Anyone else watching it?  This Netflix series is set in 1919 Birmingham, England and is about a fictional gangster family.  Tommy Shelby is something to see!  Really, he's something to see.

5.  My kind of exercise...

Alright then ~ let's start the weekend!  I received a very happy mail package yesterday from my dear friend Jackie.  Check it out:

Yes, I'll be indulging in some Pearl vodka this weekend!  I'm headed to a happy hour tonight for my retiring friend Janet and I have book club on Sunday.  Other than that, I'm planning on soaking up some warmer temperatures here in St. Louis.  Pop back in on Monday to read all about it.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Thinking Out Loud Thursday - January 28, 2016

I'm so excited to share with you what I'm thinking out loud about today and let me apologize in advance for the enormous amount of pictures I'm about to pop on this post.  I have a great nephew on the way and he's due the first part of February.  In December (yes, it's been a while back), I helped host a baby shower to get ready for this little guy's arrival.

The mother-to-be, Kristian, had chosen an adorable woodland critters theme for the nursery so we used that as the platform for the shower.  I knew I wanted to pull in some wood things and thank goodness my dad, brother and nephew helped me accomplish that.  Love, love, love the way the centerpieces turned out!!  Take a look ~

We also used wood stumps to hold platters of treats on the dessert table.  Again, so glad my family had access and the talents to pull off getting me the wood!

With the shower being held in the middle of December, my mind was thinking it would be a perfect opportunity to have a hot chocolate bar.  Well, as luck would have it, December 12 turned out to be a balmy 70 degree day in mid Missouri.  Thankfully the guests played along and at least acted like they were loving the hot chocolate.  The signage for the hot chocolate bar came from The Pretty Paper Studio shop on Etsy.

World Market has the perfect cookie jars this year that played right into our theme.  How adorable is the owl, fox and raccoon?!?  If you want one of your own, you can purchase them by clicking on the critter of your choice:  OWL, FOX, RACCOON

Shower Food Table

The local bakery in Montgomery City, Sugar and Spice Laura's Delights, created the fox cookies.  They were as tasty as they were adorable!  Laura did a remarkable job on them.

No shower is complete without playing games.  The game sheets were placed at each place setting on the mini clipboards adorned with ribbon.  Mud Pie Soup had the perfect little printable fox game sheets.  These clipboards have been used at several showers and I absolutely love putting all the games on them.  Check out the twig pencils -- they added just the right touch!

We sent the guests home with a little token of our appreciation - bird feeder.  They were easy to make and were very cost effective.  

Now we're just waiting for the newest member of our family to arrive.  We all had our fingers crossed he would arrive on January 27 because he would be born on his grandpa's birthday.  Looks like he wants to have his own birthday so we'll try to be patient until he decides it's time to meet us.  

Now it's your turn -- what are you thinking out loud about today?  Vanessa from X-tremely V and I would love to hear from you.  Feel free to link your favorite post(s) and share what you're up to.


Enjoy more Thoughts for Thursday at
This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Super Easy Chocolate Croissants

Saturday Eric and I were out and about most of the day.  When we landed at home, we needed to pull dinner together somewhat quickly because Ian and Kayla were coming over to dine with us.  We knew we were going to keep it low key and decided on chili and grilled cheese for our entree.

With the main course decided, I started thinking about what we could have for dessert.  I peeked in the pantry and saw a Ghirardelli's chocolate bar staring back at me and I knew exactly what I would whip up ~ Chocolate Croissants.

I first saw this recipe from The Comfort of Cooking while perusing Pinterest for an easy chocolate dessert.  So glad I decided to give it a try because it is super easy and tastes scrumptious!

Here's What You Need
1 sheet puff pastry
1 4 oz chocolate bar (I used Ghirardelli's milk chocolate)
1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water
Powdered sugar for dusting

Here's What You Do
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, place puff pastry and roll out slightly with a floured rolling pin.  Cut into 9 (5 inch) squares.

Cut or break up chocolate bar into 9 (1 inch x 1/2 inch) pieces.

Whisk egg and water in a small bowl until will combined.  Set aside.

Place 1 chocolate piece on each square of pastry.  Fold pastry over the chocolate.  Lightly brush egg wash on the remaining dough and fold over again to seal.  Place seam side down on your lined baking sheet.

Lightly brush each pastry with egg wash.  Refrigerate tray for at 10 minutes (or up to 12 hours) to firm up.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown and puffed.  Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then dust with powdered sugar.

These little babies are delicious!  Hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Handmade Tuesday's with Kristen

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Weekending - January 22, 2016

On Friday when I envisioned my weekend, I saw some major binge watching and laying on the couch coming on.  The week had been emotionally draining with the passing of my friend Jane and I was coordinating a work program so I was gone from home all week.  I'm proud to report that I spent very little time horizontally on couch!  I actually ended up getting some things accomplished.

Friday night when I got home I was greeted by a dozen beautiful roses from Eric.  The man knows how to make me feel loved!

When I went to the mailbox, my friend Tracy had left me a little surprise.  I'm telling you what, I have the best friends!  It was such a sweet gesture  and she knew just what I needed this weekend.  A little spa action was in my immediate future.  Thanks Tracy!

Saturday Eric and I decided to head to a vintage market in the Soulard area.  We swung in Twisted Ranch beforehand for lunch first and the food was as good as it had been the first time I was there.  They have a bazillion variations of ranch dressing for dipping.  I'm in love with their grilled cheese!  We even sprang for the chicken nachos for an appetizer.

After lunch we walked to the vintage market and, unfortunately, we were both under impressed.  Alive Magazine had mentioned it as one of the seven things to do in St. Louis this weekend so we had high expectations.  Oh well, we had a great lunch and a nice walk.

We hit some shops then went home to make dinner.  Kayla and Ian came over and we enjoyed catching up with them.  I made the chili recipe I blogged about HERE.  It tasted great on a cold winter night.  We used one of my favorite Pampered Chef gadget ~ the Mix 'N Chop.  If you don't have one, you should give some serious thought to getting one.  It crumbles the hamburger so easily for things like chili.  The best part ~ it doesn't scratch your pan!  You need one!

Mix ′N Chop
Click HERE to order yours!
For dessert, I whipped up these little chocolates wrapped in puff pastry.  Recipe coming on Tuesday.  They are delicious!

Sunday was a day for errands.  After church I got the car washed, did a Target run and went through the mail from last week.  I also made this little sign I had found on Pinterest for my friend Janet's desk this week.  After 20 years with our company, of which 18 she sat by me, Friday will be her last day at work.  I'm hoping to make her last week there a special one.

Kayla and Ian invited us over to watch the Blues games Sunday night.  Ian made Loaded Baked Potato Soup.  Too bad the Blues didn't pull out a win!  It was still a fun time and we always enjoy spending time with them.

When we got home, we weren't overly tired so we wrapped up the weekend watching the Netflix documentary on the Eagles.  If you're a fan, add this to your queue.  It really is a fun look at this legendary group.

What were you up to this weekend?  If you were on the east coast, did you do a lot of snow shoveling?  So here we are headed into the last week of January.  Where did this month go?!?  Let's make this week a great one and I hope to see you back tomorrow for the chocolate recipe.

Check out what others were up to this weekend.
Bella and the City
A Cute Angle
The Quinntessential Mommy
How To Get Organized At Home

This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Five on Friday - January 22, 2016

First thing today, I'd like to thank all of you who sent me messages with kinds words on the passing of my friend Jane.  It was very therapeutic to write the post about her yesterday and your expressions of sympathy were so touching.  My friends here have been so supportive of me this last week.  I've felt wrapped in their love and it has made this incredibly hard time a little more bearable.  Jane was truly a wonderful person and I will greatly miss her.  

This week has been a blur and I'm ready to have the weekend to regroup, so with no further ado ~ here's my five for this week.

1. Snitch Bracelet
Do you have a Harry Potter fan in your life?  My daughter-in-law, Kayla, loves Harry Potter and I gifted her a snitch bracelet for Christmas.  This Ashley Bridget bangle is classy enough for your Harry Potter fan to wear it all the time.  It is packaged in their signature black box with a certificate of authenticity.  You should check out the Ashley Bridget Website -- there are all kinds of cool bracelets and it makes giving a personalized gift so easy (you should see the sorority ones!).  If you order, use THIS LINK to enjoy a 60% discount!


Speaking of Christmas gifts, Eric got me this Vera Bradley Rolling Duffel and I'm more than a little excited to use it on our Spring training trip in March.  Last year when I went on a weekend trip with my friend Debbie, I actually carried on my luggage (so I know I can do it!).  The problem was my bag was so darn heavy I thought I was going to break my back before I got to the gate.  Problem solved - the rolling duffel!  I'm in love with the pattern too!  I'll report back and let you know how fabulous it was to stroll through the airport pulling this baby.

concerto, Vera Bradley

Valentine's Day is right around the corner so let the planning begin!  If you're thinking of doing a romantic dinner at home (or just have some kids you would like to keep entertained while you and your significant other enjoy a glass of wine) and have a wood burning fireplace, check these out!  Throw a couple pouches on the fire and let the magic begin.  The flames will be a mesmerizing rainbow of colors.  How fun is that!  These are also great to have around for outdoor fire pits and bonfires.  Stock up!

Click HERE to purchase
4. Peaky Blinders
I can just tell this is going to be a lay on the couch and veg type of weekend.  My friend Sherri recommended a UK gangster drama series to me, Peaky Blinders.  Have you seen it?  There's two seasons just sitting out there waiting for me on Netflix.  I feel a binge watching session coming.

5.  I learned a valuable lesson this week...

Have a great weekend everyone!  If you're on the east coast, good luck with the weather coming your way.  If you're someplace warm, I'm green with envy.  I'll be back on Monday with a recap of my weekend happenings.

Linking up with:
High Five for Friday
5 on Friday 
The Jenny Evolution
The Evolution of Mom
Why Girls Are Weird
Ins and Outs
This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My Friend Jane

Sorry I've been a little MIA this week.  Something happened on Sunday that made time stop for me.  While sitting in church, I saw my friend Jane's sister, Julie, was calling.  Jane had been bravely battling cancer for months so I stepped out to take the call.  My spirits lifted when I first saw my phone light up because I thought the call was Julie telling me Jane was up for a visit, but instead she delivered the news that Jane had gone to heaven that morning.

Me and Jane
Our friendship was one that had developed over many years.  Jane and I worked at the same company and over time began doing things beyond our 9-5 togetherness.  We had some amazing girls weekend trips together and she was always up for a concert or sporting event.  Whatever we were doing or wherever we were going, you just knew it would be a good time.  Don't you just love friends like that!

My friend Jane had some very unique facets. For example, she knew all the US Presidents and could recite them IN ORDER.  She was a runner and had completed more than one half marathon.  Despite being a little bit germophobic, she loved dogs and would often let them lick her face and lay all over her.  The best part, Jane was FUN.  Her quick wit and humor always added levity to the situation.

Debbie, Jane and Me
Jane was an avid Cardinals baseball fan. There hasn't been an opening day with Jane not in the stadium for years.  Last year, Jane, our friend Debbie and I took a trip to Spring Training together to see our beloved Redbirds.  It was the first time we had been south to watch any preseason games and we all LOVED it!  We were delighted to be checking "Attend Spring Training" off our bucket lists.  I blogged all about our trip HERE.  Lesson learned:  Don't just talk about doing those bucket list items.  Actually DO them!

The three of us at Spring Training
We had tossed around several ideas about where we should stay in Florida for our trip.  After some debate, it was agreed that we would spurge and get a hotel on the beach.  BEST.DECISION.EVER!  One night after watching a game (and loosing our rental car in the parking lot, but that's a story for another day) we ran by the grocery store, picked up dinner and had a seaside picnic.  We drank wine and recounted funny stories while watching the evening sky put on a show over the waves.  It was inconceivable to any of us that it would be our last trip together.  We thought we had years to continue checking things off our bucket lists and laughing at the fun we had doing it.  The lesson learned here:  Spurge for the better hotel.

Jane loved the snow and skiing was a passion of hers.  It was so fitting that at the time her visitation was scheduled to begin, huge snow flakes began falling from the sky.  Just a little reminder that Jane was up above, smiling down on us.

At the visitation, funeral and luncheon that followed, I looked around and saw so many people there remembering her.  I know her parents were extremely proud of Jane and it meant the world to them to see so many of her friends gathered to reminisce about their daughter.  What a tribute to have so many friends shedding tears in your honor.

As I slowly begin to step out of the fog that has consumed me from the moment I heard the news that Jane had passed, I'm grateful to have an abundance of memories from our friendship.  Through her I've learned many lessons.  The biggest lesson learned:  Treasure your friends because none of us know just how long they are going to be here!

Join me and Vanessa from X-tremely V in our Thinking Out Loud link up.  Feel free to link your favorite post(s) and share what you're up to.  We'd love to hear from you!


Enjoy more Thoughts for Thursday at
This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!