Penny's Passion: September 2014

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Weekending -- Last in September

My, my, my -- what a weekend this has been!  We have had a great weather weekend and made the most of it.

Friday night Eric and I decided to catch a movie.  We went to a great theater -- The Edge.  We chose seats in the Bistro - big, comfy leather recliners with food service.  Unfortunately, the movie we chose was B.A.D. bad - A Walk Among the Tombstones.  It had Liam Neeson.  My recommendation is don't waste your money.  It is definitely one you can rent when nothing else is available and you feel you must watch a movie.  Even though the movie was a flop, it was still fun to spend some time with Eric.

Saturday morning I gathered with some friends to go to the Strange Folk Festival.  This was the 9th annual Strange Folk Festival in O'fallon, Illinois and it featured 150 indie makers, illustrators, and vintage curators.  Fun time.  We started the day with scones and mimosas and moved on to the festival.  We missed our friend, Tracy; however, we all found a Christmas gift for her so she might be the real winner for not being able to come with us.  :)

We drove to mid-Missouri on Sunday to celebrate my dad being 76 years young.  What do you get a 76-year-old man to has everything and needs nothing -- a fishing pole lighter, of course.  We also got him a garden weasel, but the lighter was a real hit with my nephews.

River's Edge Fishing Pole BBQ Lighter

Later in the day after everyone had left my parents house but me and Eric, we took my parents to Stone Hill Winery in Hermann, Missouri to enjoy the fabulous weather and share a bottle of wine.  It was an absolutely beautiful day to be outside.  And we may or may not have had a big laugh at the gentleman sitting at the table next to us who fell over backwards off his seat.  Happy birthday, Dad!!

Our Story - Stone Hill Winery
View from the winery -- beautiful!
The cherry on top of the great day was the fact that the Cardinals won the Central Division and we're on to the playoffs.  October baseball here we come!  LET'S GO CARDS!!!!

Headed into Monday, I am refreshed and ready to put in a hard week at work.  Hope you had a great weekend and are ready for the week ahead.  I can't wait to share with you the fabulous Halloween wreath my friend Carol made for me.  You'll have a chance to see it on my Five for Friday this week.   Also, don't forget about entering the September giveaway here.

Check out the below blogs to see what they were up to this weekend.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Five on Friday -- September 26, 2014

Hello, Friday!  I'm so glad you're here!  This is going to be an action-packed weekend full of lots of fun.  Tomorrow I'm headed to the Strange Folk Art Show with my friends and on Sunday trekking off to my home town to celebrate my dad's birthday.  So let's start by checking out my Five on Friday.

1.  Scarves
It's the time of year to bring on the scarves.  Here's some cool ways to tie them.  This chick looks like she might strangle herself so be careful if you're following the video at home.

2.  Boots
We want these.  I NEED these.  Of course, these exact boots are way out of my price range so I'm going on a search for some that are similar.  I saw a pair at Marshalls that could have been a twin.  I really hope they are still there.

3.  The Hunger Games:  Mockingjay - Part 1

Tickets go on sale October 29.  Can. Not. Wait.

4.  Acure Brightening Facial Scrub
A sample of this cream arrived in my Birchbox and after one use I immediately ordered a full size one.  I don't know what's in this magic stuff, but my face has never looked better (well, except for when I was younger and didn't have wrinkles).  Highly recommend it.  Here's what Birchbox says about it, "It gently exfoliates and removes dirt and oil, plus stimulates new cell growth for fresh, radiant-looking skin. Pretty soon, we’re looking just as sunny as we feel."  You can get yours here.
                             Acure Organics Brightening Facial Scrub Sea Kelp + CGF

5.  Quote of the Week:


Make it a great weekend!  If you haven't entered the September monthly giveaway, can you do it here.  See you back next week.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bid Day Thoughts

My thoughts for this Thursday are on Fall, and when I think of Fall my thoughts linger to the fresh start of the school year.  It's been a l-o-n-g time since I started a year of school!  When the summer interns from work start leaving to return to their universities, it makes me reminisce of my college days and how much fun it was to see everyone after the summer break.  It also makes to think about sorority rush and bid days.

I was an Alpha Xi Delta and being in a sorority was one of the best things about my college experience.   Bid Day was always such a cool day.  After the long process of selections, you finally got to see who would join your sisterhood.  There was a feeling of exuberance when you saw your favorite pledge walk through your door and also a bit of sadness when you realized one of your favorites decided to join another sorority (how could they!?!?).  
Bid Day pic my second year in the sorority
One thing that made being an Alpha Xi so special for me was my best friend from back home, Linda, decided to join the same sorority.  We had decided when we were going through rush that we would pick our sororities independently from each other.  When we found out we were both going to be Alpha Xi's, we were ELATED!

The above picture is of me and Linda with our pledge moms.  The below is a picture of us almost 30 years later.  Proof positive that you can form friends for lifetime in sororities.  Oh my, the memories of hanging out studying, partying networking, and being influenced by a fabulous group of women!  Definitely good times!

Side note -- My friend Tracy's niece is in a sorority and you might remember me blogging about making her these note cards a couple weeks ago.

I'm thinking of selling this type of note card on Etsy.  What do you think?  Would anyone be interested in purchasing them?

So that's my thoughts for this Thursday.  Hey -- another thought -- don't forget about the giveaway I'm participating in this month.  Here's the skinny on entering:

Southern Beauty Guide// Penny's Passion// Re•solve// Alexandra Nicole
The Dwelling Tree// Life with a side of Coffee// The Southern Thing// Life as Rachel

Terms & Conditions:
Open to US Residents only. Winner will be contacted within 3 days of the Giveaway ending. Winner will be verified. If the winner cannot be verified, a new one will be selected. The winner has 48 hours to claim their prize after the notifying email has been sent out. If they do not respond to the email within the 48 hours a new winner will be selected.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck! Don't forget to enter! 

Enjoy more Thoughts for Thursday at

Monday, September 22, 2014

Cherry Vanilla Scones

I love scones.  On special occasions when I get together with Carol, Tracy and Sherri, Carol will bake us scones.  Her scones are nothing short of AMAZING!!  We beg her to make them and feel oh so special when she does.

The weekend I was visiting in Kansas City (you can read about it here), Janet made scones for us for breakfast.  It was her sister Dorothy's recipe and we all LOVED them!  I wish I would have gotten a picture of her making them, but to be honest, I was busy veggie out on the couch and too lazy to get up to snap a pic.

As I watched her make them from my comfy spot, I started thinking this is a recipe I could actually pull off.  They are simpler to make than I ever imagined and if you're apprehensive, I'm confident you can pull them off too.  So here we go~

Cherry Vanilla Scones

3/4 cup cherries cut up (I used Tart Montmorency Cherries from Costco)
1-3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking power
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbls. butter (use the real stuff)
1 egg
1/4 cup half and half
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Cut cherries and set aside.

Mix dry ingredients, cut in butter until mix is like cornmeal.  Mix together wet ingredients.

Combine wet, dry and cherries and mix with hands (yes, mix with your hands).  Flatten into a log about 1/2 inch thick.  Cut into 4 pieces and cut each of these diagonally.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes.  When mostly cooled, I poured a glaze made of powdered sugar, milk and vanilla over the top.

You're going to love these and so will anyone you share them with.  :)

Handmade Tuesday's with Kristen

Weekending and a September Group Giveaway

Happy Monday!  I know, sometimes there's not a lot of "happy" in a Monday.  But, here we are so we might as well make the best of it.  To make this Monday a little more fun, I'm participating in a giveaway!  This month I'm teaming up with seven lovely ladies to give away one amazing eye shadow palette from Kat Von D and if you win, you get to pick which palette you would prefer. What's the difference? Well, if you are wanting a warm toned palette then you would love the Monarch palette, but if you love cool tones more then you will love the Chrysalis palette. Both of these are simple amazing!  Here's a post to see swatches. This is an amazing opportunity to get your hands on one of the most impressive palettes on the market! Make sure you enter below for your chance to win! 

Southern Beauty Guide// Penny's Passion// Re•solve// Alexandra Nicole
The Dwelling Tree// Life with a side of Coffee// The Southern Thing// Life as Rachel

Terms & Conditions:
Open to US Residents only. Winner will be contacted within 3 days of the Giveaway ending. Winner will be verified. If the winner cannot be verified, a new one will be selected. The winner has 48 hours to claim their prize after the notifying email has been sent out. If they do not respond to the email within the 48 hours a new winner will be selected.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck! Don't forget to enter! 

Now, as for as my weekend -- not much to report.  I was FAR behind in a lot of house chores so I chose Saturday as my catch-up day.  Eric had to work so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to bust my bottom and get some stuff done.

Well, at 1:48 pm I still had not showered and only had a few things crossed off my list.  Time for some quick action!  I kicked it in gear and by 7:00 pm I still didn't have that much accomplished.  This is going to be a long week!  Ever have one of those days when you just can't seem to move forward?!?

Sunday we went to the Rams game.  Yes -- we lost, BUT they did make it an interesting game so I'll give them that.  Still put me in a bad mood because we couldn't pull out a W.

Have a great Monday! 

Check out the below blogs to see what they were up to this weekend.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Five on Friday - September 19, 2014

Here we are -- another Friday is upon us.  Don't freak out, but we only have 13 more Fridays until Christmas!  But for now, let's enjoy Fall and this week's Five on Friday.

1.  Nestle Girl Scout Milk Flavors
Has anyone tried the Girl Scouts flavored Nestle milks?  Apparently they have been on the shelves since June and are expected to run through the end of September.  They are sold in single-serving bottles and can be found in the refrigerated beverage section at many convenience and grocery stores.
I heard a review from an eight-year-old on the caramel coconut flavor and he said the milk tastes like his shampoo smells.  Maybe I'll look for the thin mint one.

2.  Barbra Streisand Partners
Can not wait to get my hands on this baby!!  The new album (do we still call them that?!?) is out this week and definitely on my list of things to buy.  Barbra teams up with a huge cast of characters like Elvis Presley (maybe he is still alive), Michael Buble, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Lionel Richie, Andrea Bocelli and others.  Did you see her on Jimmy Fallon Monday night?  Quite the star.


3.  My Prairie Cookbook
Speaking of stars - the star of Little House on the Prairie, Melissa Gilbert, released a cookbook this week.  She's 50 now and living in a 1890's restored historic home in Howell, Michigan.  Her new cookbook is called My Prairie Cookbook:  Memories and Frontier Food from My Little House to Yours. Who knew she could cook!


4.  TOMS at Target
Have you heard -- The Toms are coming!  The Toms are coming!  That's right, folks -- Toms will be available at Target starting November 16.  Just in time for Christmas shopping.  Joseph Altuzarra's line for Target will feature shoes, hats, gloves, hoodies, stationery, mugs, candles and jewelry for women, men and children.  Each item is retailing for less than $50.  Target will be staying with the One for One giving model by donating a blanket, meal or shoes to a North America-based charity such as American Red Cross Disaster Relief, Canadian Red Cross Disaster Relief, Feeding America and Food Banks Canada.  Target officials are projecting they could provide more than 11 million meals, blankets and shoes to those in need.  


5.  Action Item for Today


Have a great weekend everyone!  I've got some things in the works for next week's blog that I'll be pulling together this weekend.  Stop back by and check them out.

Linking up with:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Recipe Sharing - Loaded Potato Soup

Last week we had a little cold snap here in the St. Louis area and that made me start thinking about Fall.  And when I think of Fall, I always think about the return of comfort food.  I'm pretty much a seasonal cook -- I never have chili and such in the summer.  But as soon as the weather starts to cool down, I'm busting out the comfort food recipes.

This recipe happens to be my son's favorite.  It's probably the one recipe he makes so frequently he has the recipe memorized.  It's quick and easy and OH.SO.GOOD!

1 - 16 oz. package of frozen shredded hash browns
2 cups milk
2 cups half-n-half
1 can condensed cream of celery soup
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup green onions
1/2 cup bacon bits
1/2 teaspoon pepper
salt to taste
6 tablespoons butter

Put the milk, half-n-half, and butter in a large stockpot and heat on medium until the butter is melted.  I usually cut the butter into tablespoons to help it melt a little faster.  DO NOT BOIL.  When butter is melted, add in the remaining ingredients and heat for approximately 30 minutes. Everything can be dumped in the pot at the same time and heated, I just like to make sure the butter is melted first before adding everything else.  Garnish with cheese, bacon and/or green onions.  That's it.  It's just that easy. 


We usually serve this soup with some great bread from Panera or a loaf from the grocery that needs to be heated/baked.  

This soup is also great to deliver to someone who might be recuperating or just had a baby.  You can literally put all these ingredients together in a gallon size freezer bag (before cooking) and delivery it with a note to heat on the stove for 30 minutes.  It can also be frozen before cooking and stored in the freezer to be used at a future date.  If frozen, it should be thawed before heating.  Enjoy!

Linking up with:
Pint Sized Baker
Mandy's Recipe Box
Handmade Tuesday's with Kristen

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Weekending -- Girls Weekend Style

It's been a fabulous weekend and I hate to say goodbye to it!  This was girls weekend in Kansas City and was packed with good times.

Now -- doesn't this look like a fun group!!
We kicked off the weekend Friday night at Gaslight Grill in Leawood, Kansas.  We had a wonderful private room in the back that was intimate, yet we were still able to enjoy the live jazz band.  Most of us ordered fish and appreciated the flavor of our meal.  If you're fond of jazz, the band plays there on Wednesday through Sunday from 6:30 pm to close.  We thought it was a very nice touch when the owner, Dick Hawk, stopped by to say hello and make sure we were enjoying our evening.

                                     Gaslight Grill

Saturday morning we gathered for crepes at Chez Elle Creperie and Coffeehouse, located in West Side.  ADORABLE!!  Crepes - YUM!  You could sip on French press coffee while eating their tantalizing crepes.  The menu consists of savory, sweet and breakfast crepes -- all sounded wonderful.  I chose the Tour Eiffel which was smoked salmon, capers, caramelized onion, artichokes, herbed cream cheese, crème fraiche. 

After a bit of shopping around in the area (The West Side Storey), we headed to Somerset Ridge winery.  It was time for a cocktail.  Fun side note -- Linda and I ran into a sorority sister we hadn't seen in 30 years.  Small world.  This ever happen to you?  It's so cool!


This family-owned vineyard and winery is located approximately 20 miles south of the greater Kansas City area among the rolling hills of Miami County, Kansas.  We were lucky to be there on a day the Jayson Kayne Band was playing.  

                                                 Photo: Beautiful day at the winery

As we sang along, sipped on wine and basked in the sunshine, I looked around and realized for the thousandth time how truly lucky I am to have such great friends.  


On Sunday, we wrapped up the weekend by having lunch and then heading to the newly-opened Ikea.  Who doesn't love Ikea?!?  It was a bit very crowded but we made the best of it.

Linda and I stopped to see a movie on the way back to her house.  We chose a movie that had a convenient start time (Magic in the Moonlight) and knew we were in trouble when we saw it was written and directed by Woody Allen. Neither of us are big fans of his work and sure enough, we weren't overly impressed with this one either.  None the less, we laughed with each other and had a fun time.

Girls weekends are great for so many reasons.  I love talking about makeup each of us love, recipes we've tried and tricks on various life situations.  This weekend gave me blogging post subjects for months to come.  Please consider following the blog so you won't miss out on many tips I'll be sharing.  :)

I'll be driving back home on Monday morning.  Thanks girls for a great weekend and I can't wait to do it again.

Linking Up To

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Five on Friday - September 12, 2014

Friday's here and I'm headed to Kansas City to meet some friends for Girls Weekend!!!  I've been anxiously awaiting this weekend and I'm so excited it's finally here.  I'm grabbing my Scooby Snacks ingredients and Limoncello and heading out, so on to my Five on Friday so I can hit the road.

1.  ipsy
With my Birchbox subscription coming to an end, I decided to give ipsy a try.  What is ipsy you might be asking -- well their website sums it up quite nicely by saying, "Each month, subscribers will receive a beautiful Glam Bag with deluxe samples and full-sized beauty products. Members can watch and play along with the stylists with the same products that they are using. All for only $10 a month."  If you're interested, click HERE and check it out.

2.  NFL
I'm a Rams fan -- there, I said it.  Not an easy thing to admit these days.  Our season looks pretty dismal since we've lost our quarterback and been plagued with other injuries.  We are season ticket holders so I'll need to find something to entertain myself with during the games.  This video is going to be my inspiration.

3.  Gus and Me
Keith Richards (yes, THE Keith Richards.  Rolling Stones.  Legendary guitarist.) has written a children's book.  Did anyone else see him on Jimmy Fallon this week?  The book is an adorable story of how Keith's grandfather introduced him to music.  Even more adorable, in my opinion, is the fact that Keith's daughter, Theodora, was named after Keith's grandfather and illustrated this book.  As an added bonus, a CD of Keith reading the story comes with the book.

4.  Guardians of the Galaxy:  Awesome Mix Vol. 1 
This soundtrack is already in the car ready to be played on my road trip to KC this weekend.  It has great tunes like Hooked on a Feeling, Spirit in the Sky, Escape (The Pina Colada Song), and Ain't No Mountain High Enough.  I'll be singing along and dancing in my seat

5.  White Chocolate Cinnamon Pretzels
Every good get together needs snacks so I'm mixing up a batch of these white chocolate cinnamon pretzels to take to Kansas City.  They are easy and delicious -- a winning combination.  Here's the recipe.

2/3 cups oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
Pretzels (pretzel snaps work best because it catches the chocolate better)
1 bag Nestle white chocolate chips
1/3 – 1/2 cup Cinnamon sugar

Whisk together oil, sugar & cinnamon. Place pretzels in microwave safe bowl. Pour oil, sugar, cinnamon mixture on pretzels, stirring to coat. Microwave on high 1 minute, stir and microwave on high 45 seconds longer. Place on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. While still hot, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Let cool and drizzle with melted white chocolate.

Have a marvelous weekend everyone!  I'll be back on Monday to sum up my fun weekend, Kansas City style.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Tuesday Recipe Sharing - Gooey Butter Cake

I'm from the St. Louis area, and here we have gooey butter cake.  A gooey what you might be asking?  Well, this cake (which is served like a coffee cake) is a dense, rich piece of sweet delight.  I've been making this recipe for years and have shared it with so many people.  Now I want to share it with you.

1 box of yellow or buttered flavored cake mix (dry)
1 stick butter (melted)
4 eggs
1 can favorite canned fruit (I used blueberry, but cherry is delicious also)
1 package 8 oz softened cream cheese
1 box (16 oz) powered sugar (reserve couple tablespoons to go on top)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pan does NOT need to be greased or floured.  In a 9x13 pan, pour in the melted butter.  Add dry cake mix and 2 eggs.  Mix together enough to wet and incorporate all ingredients.  Dough does not need to be smooth.

Drain fruit and spread on top of dough mixture.

In separate bowl, mix 2 eggs, cream cheese and box of powdered sugar (minus the reserve).  Mix with electric mixer until blended - may still be lumpy.  Do not over mix.  Pour over fruit and dough.

Bake for 45 minutes until light golden brown on top.  Cool completely and sprinkle with remaining powdered sugar.


This recipe can easily be made the night before serving.

Linking up with:
Handmade Tuesday's with Kristen

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Weekending - First Weekend in September

Good weekends always go by in a flash of an eye.  Heck, what am I saying -- ALL weekends go by in a flash of an eye!!

The weekend kicked off Friday night with the girls. With rain in the forecast, we changed up our plan to attend an outdoor art fair for doing dinner at one of our favorite tapas restaurants, Modesto.  We watched the storm blow through and little did I know I would find this when I got home.

Photo: Thanks Mark McClain and Kayla Reynolds for helping us cut up our tree!
Photo taken Saturday morning in the daylight.
I'm so bummed to loose the only tree in our front yard!   Thank goodness for my daughter-in-law and her dad.  They came over Saturday while Eric was at work and cleaned up the entire mess.  Now the tree is neatly cut and stacked in the backyard ready to be a fire in the fire pit while the limbs are in yard waste bags ready for yard waste pick up on Tuesday.

Saturday afternoon I whipped up a few note cards for my friend's niece who is an Alpha Delta Pi at University of Illinois.   Have I told you lately how much I love my Silhouette Cameo?!?!  It makes projects like this so easy.

Sunday was opening day for the St. Louis Rams.  Unfortunately, they forgot to show up and the score at the end of the game reflected it (34-6).   All wasn't lost -- we did have a great time tailgating with friends before the game.  They loved the Tailgate Emergency Kit I made for them.  

Check out with Dome and Arch in the background
Very cute photo bomber behind us!
Check out the paper towel holder we rigged up.  So simple and so efficient!  This would work so well for camping also.  

Simply thread a bungee cord through the paper towel role and hook each end from the tent supports.  

And just like that, we're at Sunday evening trying to get ready for the week.  I have some fun posts coming this week.  I'll be sharing a recipe on Tuesday that you won't want to miss -- Blueberry Gooey Butter Cake. YUM!!

Have a great Monday everyone.
Linking Up To