Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Win an Audio Book of "Dewey"

J. Kaye's Book Blog has another nice giveway, this time it's the audio book of Dewey by Vicki Myron and Brett Witter. Dewey is the story of Dewey Readmore Books, the beloved library cat of Spencer, Iowa. The author, Vicki Myron, is also the librarian who found him on a cold January morning when he was abandoned as a kitten in the book drop slot. Through Dewey's antics, you come to know and love many of the colorful and inspiring people of Spencer. I had heard of Dewey before the book was written and I would love to read it. Anything about cats touches my heart. To enter go here and leave a comment. Entra entry information on the site. The winner will NOT be notified by email. The winner will be posted on the blog on May 30, 2009. Don't want to miss notification? Subscribe to the blog.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Win James Patterson Audio Books

You could win the first six audio books of James Patterson's Women's Murder Club Series! J. Kaye's Book Blog is giving readers the chance to win audio books that include 1ST TO DIE, 2ND CHANCE, 3RD DEGREE, THE 4TH OF JULY, THE 5TH HORSEMAN, and THE 6TH TARGET. Enter here. Extra entry information on the site. Winners will NOT be notified by email. The winner will be posted on the blog on May 30, 2009.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Books I've read this week

One of the books I picked up at the sale on Saturday was There Was a Little Girl by Ed McBain, ©1994. The story takes place in Florida and concerns a small circus that wants to buy a piece of land where they can put on shows during the winter. The circus owner hires a lawyer, Matthew Hope, to make an offer for the land and while trying to make the deal, he upsets someone and ends up getting shot. During the rest of the story he's in the hospital in a semi-coma. His good friends, who are two private investigators and a local cop, follow his trail for the week before the shooting trying to figure out what he was doing in the bad part of town where the shooting occurred and who did it. The story unfolds through their dectective work and also flashbacks that Matthew has as he lays in the hospital, and includes circus performers, drugs, lies, sex, blackmail, burglary, and murder. The plot line was pretty good but I don't think the author needed to include quite so much circus information. I also thought the ending left the reader hanging somewhat but then decided that Matthew Hope wasn't really the story. The story was just about finding out who shot him and why.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Another Romano's Macaroni Grill Gift Basket Giveaway

These gift baskets would be really nice to win since they include a colander, serving spoon, cheese grater, box of the Creamy Basil Parmesan Chicken & Pasta, AND coupons to get 3 more free boxes of your choice. To win just stop by Coupon Mommie's blog and tell her how often you eat dinner together as a family or how you let the kids help you cook dinner. Enter here. Contest ends Thursday April 30th at midnight. Additional entry info on the site. Good luck!

Hot and Cold Running. . . . Weather

I take back the comment I made a couple of days ago about summer being here already. Yes, it was 85° Friday which was too warm for this time of year, but this is Iowa and Saturday it was only 45° and raining off and on all day. Right now (at about 2 a.m.) I'm listening to a thunderstorm as I type and we had small hail earlier tonight. Tomorrow's forecast is for about 70° and then the possibility of heavy rain and severe storms. I'm glad I don't have much in the garden yet as it would just get ruined.

We spent Saturday at Boone where our son Jay set up a booth at the flea market again this month. I took books and jigsaw puzzles along with some miscellaneous items to sell. He pays the set up fee and gets half the money from anything I sell so it works for us both. The sale is at the local county fairgrounds but today they were in a different building because the usual one was being used by another group. The building wasn't heated and it didn't take long to get chilly. Not the most comfortable way so spend a day. The other building was having a huge 'garage sale' fundraiser for the local animal shelter. This brought a lot more people to the fairgrounds than usual but most spent their money at the fundraiser instead of the flea market. I even spent my money there getting a great bargain of 8 books for a dollar. I have quite a few ahead now so I'd better spend some time reading and quit buying for a while.

(I hope you have no melcryptovestimentaphiliacs in your area. They compulsively steal ladies underwear!)

I bet you didn't know........

according to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, the 9 beans that cause the most gas are:
1. Soybeans
2. Pink beans
3. Black beans
4. Pinto beans
5. California small white beans
6. Great northern beans
7. Lima beans
8. Garbanzos
9. Blackeyed peas

This comes from Uncle John's Absolutely Absorbing Bathroom Reader, the 12th Edition by the Bathroom Readers' Institute. I'm loving this book. It's full of bits on trivia and so much fun to read (and not just in the bathroom. LOL)

Did you know the single most ordered item in American restaurants is French fries? Or that the first email was sent over the internet in 1972? It also tells the origin of such things as Kellogg's Corn Flakes, the shopping cart, and the first drive-in. It tells 3 celebrities who say they've seen UFOs (Mohammed Ali, Jimmy Carter, and William Shatner). Like I said, it's just a fun book. I have another edition of it and can't wait to read it, too.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Yea, another win!

I got a surprise in today's mail. I won an giveway and the prize was a RED Avon Ostrich Embossed Clutch, ARV $19.99. It's so pretty and will be great to carry when I need something a little fancier. It also has a shoulder strap. I am a Bag Lady (love 'em, love 'em!!) so this is a great prize for me.

One project completed!

Gosh, I think summer has arrived! It's HOT! It's only mid-day and in the 70s with possible record-breaking temps forecast for today. Jim and I worked our butts off yesterday making the frame for the raised garden bed and then hauling dirt by the wheelbarrow load to fill it. It could still use some more dirt but for the most part, we're done. I added several buckets of potting soil mix, too, so the dirt will be more loose and productive. I think I'll buy a couple of bags of Miracle Grow soil to add to it, too, or just use the liquid when I water. It's 4 feet by just over 9 feet and about 1 foot deep. The important thing when making one is to make it narrow enough you can reach the middle comfortably from either side. We just used wood we had and it's not cedar so it won't last forever but it didn't cost us anything but time. I looked at Menard's ad yesterday and using cedar to make one 4x8x1 would have cost almost $50! (Edited to add I did get some top soil, compost, and manure and mixed it into the soil. I was also able to plant radishes, peas, onions, and lettuce before it got dark tonight. Let the growing begin!)

Here's a project I found on the internet and did 2 years ago. It's held up well even though it's been outside for 2 winters. You take an inexpensive tomato support and wire thin, straight green branches to it, leaving the support posts at the bottom bare so you can stick them into the ground. It's just to add interest to your garden. You could also trim them even at the top and sit a flower pot saucer on it to make a birdbath. What do you think? I like making things like this and I've also made a few trellises out of branches.

Win a "What's For Dinner" gift basket

Do you stuggle trying to fix quick, easy meals for your family? Well, Romano's Macaroni Grill has a new product to try and help you. They've developed a line of boxed dinners that come in four classic Italian varieties. All you have to add is a pound of chicken or some other protein like shrimp or Italian sausage. The meals include Garlic and Herb Chicken, Creamy Basil Parmesan Chicken and Pasta, Chicken Alfredo with Linguine and Chicken Marsala with Linguine. From start to finish the meal is ready to eat in about 20 minutes. You can try and win a sample of the Creamy Basil Parmesan Chicken Pasta dinner plus extra coupons, a colander, a serving spoon, and a cheese grater at Jersey Bites. Enter here. Contest ends Tuesday, April 28th at 11:59pm. Good luck!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Jim and I worked outside most of today cleaning brush out of the fence line, mowing, clearing flower beds, etc. The temperature wasn't too bad - in the low sixties - and I got by wearing a long-sleeved tee. (Supposed to be 80 later this week!) What made it feel chilly a lot of the time was the very gusty wind that blew all day long. I trimmed small mulberry trees, wild grape vines, and some bush with terrible thorns out of the fence on the far side of the garage. Only one tree was big enough Jim had to use the chain saw. I want the fence to come out, too, since the posts are rotting off and then we could mow easier but then what do we do with the old woven fencing? I already have some coiled up that just lays by the old shed. I know recycling and garbage pickup is the way to go but they don't take many things and you have to admit it was a lot easier when you could just dump junk in a ditch in the far pasture. We do have garbage pickup here in the country but not recycling. We could separate things and take them about 10 miles to the collection bins but we don't. That's a terrible thing to admit on Earth Day, huh? I do recycle household items and clothes all the time, either donating them, giving them away, or selling them and I would recycle the plastics, cans, and papers if Waste Management Recycling picked up in the country.

There are lots of other places where brush needs cleared but the next project I want to do is make a couple of raised garden beds. I mean the type with wood walls not just hilled-up dirt. Hardly any place on our acreage is flat and when it rains hard, the water has washed out my gardens in the past. I want to contain the dirt so it won't do that and I can also control the weeds better. I hate weeding as anyone can tell if they look at my flower beds. One of my favorite flowers is the iris but they're also one of the hardest to weed. My beds all need dug up and replanted, then Preen used on them. It's just such a labor-intensive job and Jim does not garden. He will sometimes run the tiller but that's about the extent of his gardening. He's happier just mowing things off. He prefers the jobs that use power tools not elbow grease.

Win a copy of Mother's Day Murder

J. Kaye's Book Blog is giving away another good book. This time it's an ARC of Mother's Day Murder by Leslie Meier. This is a Lucy Stone mystery but you don't have to read the series to understand the story. Make sure you check out her site and enter the giveaway here. Winners will NOT be notified by email. The winner will be posted on her site on May 30, 2009. If you don’t want to miss the announcement post, subscribe to the blog.

Wins This Week

I got notice of a fun win today. I was the winner of the Monday Giveaway at J'Adore These Stores. The prize is a purple Snake Hardcase from The Limited . I have personal cards with my contact info on them and the case will be great for those.

I was also an alternate winner for a book which is nice. I won The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson from Rhapsody in Books. I'm looking forward to reading it.

I know it's only Tuesday so I'm hoping to post more wins later this week.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Win "Tender Graces"

Win a copy of Tender Graces by Kathryn Magendie from J. Kaye's Book Blog. Enter here.

Book info - Virgina Carey's mother sent her her grandmother's journal and asked Virginia to come home. She refuses and the next she hears, her mother is dead. Filled with regrets, she heads back home. The story continues following the journal and her mother's notes in the margins.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wins This Week

Thursday I got notice that I won The Ballad of West Tenth Street by Marjorie Kernan. The win came from Confessions of a Real Librarian . The book is about the family of the late rock star, Ree Hollander, his wife Sadie, and children Gretchen, Deen, and Hames, making their way through the life that their father left behind after a drug overdose. Sadie, a devoted mother, is also quite devoted to her vodka. Gretchen is fighting a battle with some inner demons and has been taken to an institution. Deen and Hames, who are both quite musically gifted are given reign of the house and are free to roam New York on their own. It sounds very interesting and I'm looking forward to reading it.

I also won a 3-month extension on my forum subscription to one of my favorite sites, Red Hot Sweeps. This giveaway was sponsored by one of the members and was for members only. It's a great site for sweepstakes information, a place to share your wins, get some tips and encouragement, or just have fun. I've met a lot of really nice people there. You should check it out. The forum part is for members only but you can sign up for a trial subscription for only $5.00.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Books I've read this week

Besides reading, I also like to do jigsaw puzzles and actually have quite a collection of older ones. So this week instead of reading during all my free time I put together 3, 500-piece puzzles that my sister had given me. I did, however, read one book and it was a perfect choice for someone like me who likes to read a lot. It was Lorna Landvik's Angry Housewifes Eating Bon Bons ©2003. Funny title, huh? It's about a group of 5 women who all live on the same cul-de-sac and how they become friends and form a book club as an excuse to get together. After one of their husbands makes a joke about them being a bunch of angry housewives who get together and eat bon bons, they decide to take that as the name of their club. The group inludes Faith, transplanted from Texas to cold Minnesota, who can't admit a past that includes an unknown father and drunken mother so she makes one up, even to her husband; Merit, the beautiful, shy pastor's daughter and doctor's wife who is secretly abused by her husband; Audrey, the sex queen who likes to dress like a teenager, who finds out sex isn't enough to hold a husband; Kari, a wonderful mother figure with no child of her own; and Slip, the social activist, who's never afraid to speak her own mind. The book follows the group from the sixties through the nineties, through marriages and divorce, births and deaths, new careers and shattered dreams, each chapter written from the viewpoint of one of the ladies. It was very easy to relate to the characters and I was sad when the story ended.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Win a copy of The Diary

Head over to Bookin' with Bingo for your chance to win a copy of The Diary by Eileen Goudge. For your first entry, tell Bingo if you've ever kept a diary. Extra entry info on her site. Enter from now until 6:00 PM, Friday, April 17th. If you enter using my link, please say that Kat Bryan sent you. Thanks!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Anya Bast Ginormous Contest!

Grand Prize: $100 GC to
Runner Up: $25 GC to B&N and a box of surprise paperbacks and other goodies (like chocolate, bath goodies, ect). This is going to be a NICE prize!
Runner Up: $25 GC to B&N and a box of surprise paperbacks and other goodies. (same as above)
Plus chances to win books (almost) every day for a month!

Go to for details on how to enter.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Job Situation

I've written about various family members but I've never posted much about me and my personal life. I guess it's about time. I apologize ahead of time for the length of the post.

A year ago I decided I'd had enough of my job and my boss and I walked out. I haven't worked for pay since. I worked for the same family for about 20 years. When I started I was hired to clean house and do laundry for an older couple. The couple owned 3 local drugstores and while he went to work every week day, she stayed at home and had always had 'help'. Their home is a 3-story Victorian full of antiques with full basement and large yard. They have 5 children but all of them lived out of state until the son moved back about 5 years ago. Theirs is the type of family where everyone came home for the Christmas and at times it was like working in a motel with up to 20 guests. If you can imagine, making up 6 double beds, 8 singles, 1 bunk bed, and cleaning 3 1/2 baths as well as the rest of the house.

Anytime I mentioned doing something, I ended up with more jobs at work. If I said I liked pets, I got to bathe the dog. If I mentioned my flowers at home, I got to take care of her numerous flower beds. I love my computer and she decided she should have one, too, because I could teach her. I actually thought that was a good idea so she could email and chat but I never dreamed that she'd never really learn how. She never really comprehended the difference between being on the computer and being on the internet. She never learned how to open email attachments or download things. Her kids would call her, tell her they'd sent an email, and she'd tell me to go see what they sent. She did learn how to play bridge on line but only because bridge is her passion. It takes a smart person to be a Life Master bridge player but she never put that effort into learning the computer.

I ended up cleaning which included polishing silver and furniture, waxing wood floors on my knees, vacuuming until I had blisters on my hand, ironing (including bedding), painting inside and out, gardening (both flowers and veggies and trimming hedges), weeding the brick patio, cleaning the 3 car garage, chauffeuring and cleaning the car, running errands, putting up and taking down all the Christmas decorations, teaching computer, writing letters, occasionally helping with cooking, and sometimes being nurse. The husband died about 10 years ago from cancer. He was home until about a week until he died and I helped with him. After that I had to teach her how to keep her checkbook, pay her bills, etc. She had never done any of that because he did it all. I did some of the cleaning in the many rental properties she had and even kept track of the rent payments. (For this I was given an extra $150 a month) I kept track of papers needed for taxes and talked to her accountant. I worked part time as a checker in her main store and did some cleaning there. I went with her to her lake property and cleaned and did yard work there. I helped pack it up when she sold the place. I hate to say it but she actually went a year without renewing her license plates. I never thought about her not knowing she had to do it. Her son moved back to our hometown and he lived with her for a while and added to the work load. He eventually took over all the rental properties so I lost that income. Even after he moved out I did his laundry at her house as part of my job.

She was generous in many ways and gave me money for my birthday and Christmas and she would bring me back small gifts like earrings from their many trips. She also bought me clothes that were usually not my style or my size but I guess it's the thought, right? After her husband died I guess she felt her own mortality and decided to do some things for people while whe was alive to see their enjoyment. She actually paid my way to visit my cousin in Juneau, Alaska! I have to admit that was the trip of a lifetime for me and one I'd never be able to afford on my own. But on the flip side, I had to fight to get paid a decent salary. The poop really hit the fan about 3 years ago when she hired a man to help me outside and he was getting paid more than me. I was to tell him and show him what to do, and he was earning more money than me! I had to threaten to quit and it took a week before she would agree to a raise - not more than him but equal to - only I got paid through her store with taxes taken out and he was getting cash so I still got less.

Along with the work I got contant 'lessons' in the best way to do things, how I should eat to lose weight, what books I should read, the best televisions shows, what I should do for cultural entertainment, and even how I should wear my hair. We had a few lively discussions. LOL Anyone else and I would have yelled, "Harrassment!" I always had to remember she was an old woman of a completely different generation and on a different income level. We disagreed about a lot of things of a personal nature, too. She would insult me and not even realize it. However, it got to the point where I felt guilty even thinking of leaving. Afterall, what would she do without me? I'm afraid my resentment just grew and grew.

Thirteen months ago my sister died. At the same time, my boss was having medical problems and needed more and more assistance just getting around. She was having extreme back pain and trouble walking. I had to accompany her to doctor's appointments out of town, cook for her, help her in and out of the bath, etc. I told her she needed to hire someone to give her more care than what I could do. I hated every minute of it and I never really had to time to grieve for my sister. The day she made me accompany her to the bathroom in the hospital and wait inside the room with her while she went, I decided I'd had enough. I just couldn't take it any longer and after agonizing over my decision for a couple of weeks, I told her I was quitting. Her response was, "You can't!" I had planned on giving her two week's notice but I realized as I worked that morning that she would be on me constantly if I continued to work and I ended up just walking out. I haven't talked to her since. I started out working 3 mornings a week from 8 - 12 and ended up working every morning and sometimes all day. The rest of the time I was more or less 'on call'. My last check I was paid $11.50 an hour and that one check had a 50 cent raise.

Gee, I'm long-winded - sorry. The reason I'm posting this today is my husband just got laid off from the company he's been with for 38 years. That's right, nobody's working in this house now. We've known things were bad since last November. A lot of the company's income depends on the homeowners and you all know how that is right now. People just aren't spending the money. We're hoping he's back to work in a couple of months at most but for now it's just wait and see.

Magazine Subscriptions

Twice in the past week, 'Tony' from OK magazine has called wanting me to renew my subscription. I have told him twice that I wasn't interested. This morning I told him I was an adult and if I wanted to renew, I would do it without any prompting from him, then I hung up. Today I got 2 magazines in the mail and both had renewal offers with them although neither expire until January 2010. Jeesh! Another thing I hate are the ones that look like bills even though you didn't subscribe in the first place and they have automatic renewals when you do subscribe. I got one today for Old House Journal which was 'only' $43 a year. In little bitty letters at the bottom it says, "This is not a bill." These end up in my round file.

I find all my magazine bargains on line and NEVER subscribe or renew through direct phone or mail offers, magazines inserts, etc. where I have to pay full price. At the present time my family is getting ReadyMade, Everyday with Rachael Ray, Woman's Day, Elle and Elle Decor, Country Living, AutoWeek, Motor Trend, Pink, More, and Shape. There may be one or two others that I can't think of right now. I didn't pay more than $8 a year for any of these because I watch for bargains on line. Rachael Ray's magazine I got for $1.98 and paid for it with Paypal that I got for doing surveys so it didn't cost me one penny out of pocket. The renewal offer in today's mail was for $30 for 2 years. Woman's Day was FREE through and others have been free through If you're looking for magazine subscriptions, remember to check the web first! Don't pay full price!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wins This Week

I got notice yesterday that I won the book Ready-Made Family by Cheryl Wyatt which she gave away on her blog, Squirrel's Treehouse. Cheryl writes Christian romance novels and has a book giveaway every Friday so be sure and check out her site. You can read about her books here.

Yesterday I also received the CDs I won from Urban Music Scene last week. I had to sign for them so I was glad I was home. That was the first time I had to sign for something that inexpensive.

Books I've read this week

I've read 2 books since my last post, Thrown-Away Child by Thomas Adcock ©1996 and Anne Rice's The Witching Hour ©1990.

Thrown-Away Child is the fifth of a series of books about Det. Neil Hockaday, also known as Hock. He's an Irish Catholic NYPD cop married to a black woman from New Orleans. In this story, Hock is trying to decide whether to stay on the force or join with a buddy in his PI business. He also has a drinking problem which has caused trouble both on the job and with his
wife. Taking a break, they go to visit her family for the first time since their marriage and he gets involved in a mix of crooked politicians, racist cops, murders, old voodoo beliefs, and a scoundrel of a minister. The red-headed cop is also a bit of an oddity in his wife's family as you can imagine. The book paints a vivid picture of a very poor area of New Orleans, the people who live there, and some of their customs like jazz funerals. It wasn't too hard to figure out who the bad guys were but it was interesting to see how Hock handled it.

The Witching Hour was over 1000 pages and took me parts of 4 days to read. That's very unusual for me and I was beginning to think I was never going to get done! The book tells the story of the Mayfair family through 13 generations beginning in the 1600s in Scotland and ending in the 1990s in New Orleans. A group that studies and documents psychic and unnatural occurances, the Talamasca, has been following the family and it finds that there is at least one female witch in every generation. She has powers such as being able to read minds, make people hallucinate, or telekenesis (the ability to move things with the mind). A 'man' who just appears and disappears has also been seen near the witches through the years. It's assumed by the Talamasca that he's some kind of demon or devil. There seems to be a lot of insanity in the family and several suicides. There is a legacy that is passed down through the family that includes the requirement that the women retain the name Mayfair even when they marry. The 'man' provides riches to the family but he has his reasons. It was an interesting book but very hard to keep the different family members straight at times. Almost everyone in the book had the last name of Mayfair and with all the different generations, there were a LOT of people. The main characters are Michael Curry and Rowan Mayfair. Michael is originally from New Orleans but living in California. Rowan is a neurosurgeon and the adopted daughter of one of the Mayfair cousins who also lives in California. She and Michael meet when he falls into the ocean and dies and she rescues him with her boat and revives him. They fall in love and end up back in New Orleans. The story follows them as she finds out her heritage and he tries to save her from it. The book was full of incest, murder, and a few pretty graphic sex scenes. I thought the ending left me hanging but there is a sequel, Lasher, which is the name of the spirit man.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Win "The Girl Who Stopped Swimming"

Win one of 5 copies of "The Girl Who Stopped Swimming" by Joshilyn Jackson. Entertainment Weekly calls this book “”A ghost story, family psychodrama, and murder mystery all in one. If it sounds like something you'd like to read, post a comment at Rhapsody in Books . Winners will be selected at midnight on April 17th, and announced on April 18th.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tootsie Roll Giveaway

Win an Easter assortment of Tootsie Roll goodies including Tootsie Rolls (traditional and flavored), Tootsie Pops, Charms Blow Pops, Bubble Gum, Junior Mints and Junior Caramels, Fluffy Stuff Cotton Candy and more. Each gift pack is valued around $30. Just leave a comment at Pajama Mommy's. Contest ends April 4.

Win an Electric Car!

Tanger Outlets is giving away a Noble Lc Electric Car to 2 lucky winners. The eco-cool Noble Lc seats four, can go up to 74 mph, travels 161 miles on a single charge and best of all, uses zero gas. ARV - $28,700. Enter HERE.

One entry per person, must be 18 or over. Winner must be a licensed driver and will be required to provide proof of insurance at time of delivery. Prize does not include title, license, registration, auto insurance and other third party fees associated with acceptance and use of the prize. Winner must take delivery of prize from the automobile dealership designated by Sponsor. Vehicle will be available for delivery on or about August 31, 2009. Contest ends May 17, 2009.

Win a Year of All You Magazine

Win a 1 year subscription to All You Magazine! It is an easy read, has a lot of recipes and the best part is there are a lot of coupons!! The contest ends at midnight April 3. Just go to Mama Nordy's blog and tell her why you want to win and how you'll spread word about the contest. Good luck!

Recipe - Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownie Babies

This recipe was in Kraft's Food and Family magazine. It's easy to make and was a big hit with Jim since he's really the chocoholic in the family.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownie Babies

1 pkg. (19-21 oz.) brownie mix - makes a 9x13 pan size
1 8 oz. pkg. Philly cream cheese, room temp
1/3 C. sugar
1 egg
1/4 C. peanut butter
12 t. vanilla
Optional - Cool Whip, Maraschino cherries

Preheat oven at 350°. Prepare brownies as directed on package. (My box had cake-style using 3 eggs or chewy using 2 and I made the chewy) Spoon batter into 20 paper-lined muffin cups.
Beat cream cheese, sugar, egg, peanut butter, and vanilla with mixer until blended. Spoon rounded tablespoon onto center of batter in each cup, pressing down lightly into the batter. Bake 30 minutes or until centers are set. (Check them a few minutes early. Mine were slightly overcooked) Cool.
Optional - top with Cool Whip and cherries.

I did not top these and they were very good without it. However, I did not taste the peanut butter at all. I was hoping for more of a Reese's flavor. I like the idea of doing them in the muffin cups since it was very easy for Jim to pop one in a baggie for his lunch and I may try this when I do my next regular brownies.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wins This Week

I received a book win unannounced in Monday's mail along with a red baseball cap embroidered with the book's title. I did a google search but haven't been able to figure out what contest it's from. The book is The Mighty Queens of Freeville (A Mother, a Daughter, and the Town That Raised Them) by Amy Dickinson ©2009. It's the true story of Amy, a syndicated advice columnist who took Ann Landers' place in many newspapers. I personally had never heard of her before this book. Amy's family has lived in the town of Freeville, N.Y. (pop. 458) for the past 200 years. Along with her mother, she has aunts, a sister, and many other relatives there and when her own marriage falls apart, that's where she goes to pick up the pieces and raise her own daughter. Even when jobs take her to Washington, D.C. and Chicago, she always finds her way back home. The story is about her family of mostly women and how strong and supportive they are of each other. The book is only 225 pages and was a quick read. It skipped around a lot in the telling but it was easy to follow.

I had two other wins so far this week. I was one of the winners of 2 CDs from the Urban Music Scene. They are Brian Courtney Wilson's "Just Love" and "Best of Gospel Superfest". And I won Charles Grodin's memoir, How I Got to Be Whoever It Is I Am from Drey's Library.