Monthly Archives: February 2009

My Quiddler Obsession


I have found a new obsession.

I was first introduced at my parents house over Christmas.  (Ah yes- the  infamous “truffle weekend“!) My sister brought this gift they had received for Christmas – this small, rather inconspicuous card game named Quiddler.

None of us had ever heard of it before, so we had no expectations.

After a nice snack of truffles we opened the game to check it out and were soon hooked!

It’s like Scrabble in a card game, but moves much faster.

Each card in the deck has a letter (a, b, c) or letter combination (like qu).

For the first round each player receives 3 cards.  When it’s your turn you can either draw a card from the draw pile or the top card of the discard pile. Then you need to discard one card.

If you can make a word with the letters in your hand, you can lay them down and receive the points on the cards. If you can’t make a word, the play passes to the next player.

The tension rises when one player can lay down a word – that forces everyone else to lay down whatever they can come up on their turn.

Each round of play you receive another card until you have 10 cards in your hand to make into word or words.

There’s bonus points for whoever makes the longest word and bonus points for whoever makes the most words in each round.

There are challenges if you don’t think an opponent’s word is real, and you can use a dictionary only when it is not your turn.  (We recommend The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.)

All ages played together, from grandpa to the eight year old cousins.

Vocabularies were stretched and spelling was learned – all in the name of fun!

We played it all week end! I found myself forming words in my sleep. (Although, that could have been caused by the excessive number of truffles I ate while playing!)

This is a must-have game for all home schoolers! We now have our own set and have even learned Quiddler solitaire for one person playing.

Quash, Quatrain, Qat, Qi, Qoph….

Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes

I will admit that these cupcakes where an experiment.

It was Satuchocolate chunk cupcakesrday afternoon and my daughter and I were looking for something new and different.

We had a fellowship dinner at church the next day and were both in the mood for a change.

We discovered this recipe in a cook book and decided to try them out.

They are quite chocolatey , but not overly sweet, which made them a favorite for certain people around here!

Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes

Mix together in a large mixing bowl:

2 cups flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt


1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg

Stir in

1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Pour into 18 regular- sized muffin cups that are either greased or lined with papers, filling each 3/4 full.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Be careful not to over bake! Cool 3 minutes in the muffin cups before removing.

No frosting is necessary, but you can always add some if you wish – chocolate of course!


Are Wii Fit or are Wii Not?

Wii Fit

I have my 2 Chicago nephews here for the week. Along with their play clothes, boots and school books, they packed their Wii.

At first I wasn’t all that interested, I just figured it would keep everybody entertained for a few minutes and then would cause more than a few fights over whose turn it was.

(I was right about the fighting part.)

But the Wii took on a whole new dimension when I discovered that they had brought Wii Fit.

I watched with interest as the kids set up my 12 year old son. The Wii figured his height, age and even weighed him – then figured his BMI. The next part scared me spitless – they showed a chart on the screen starting with normal at the bottom and heading upwards to overweight and right into obese. It had a line indicating where he was (thankfully it was normal!)

I gulped and slid down on the couch trying to figure out a way to use the Wii without having it tell the room my BMI and show my chart!

I could just imagine the smoke billowing out as the Wii screams in pain “Get that fat lady off- she’s too heavy – overweight – tilt- tilt!’

No, my experimenting had to done alone, and with a secret identity.

I let my son play with it for a few minutes and then sent him (and the rest of the crew) off to do school. When I was sure I was alone, I climbed up on the Wii balance board and pressed the button, thinking I would pretend to be my 12 y/o son.

Ha! You can’t fool a Wii! It immediately said, “You weigh considerably more than before, are you sure you want to continue?”

Of course I want to continue!

Well, then again, maybe I don’t. By the time I had been hit in the head multiple times by flying soccer cleats and pandas, drowned in the river, and fallen to my death from the high wire, I began to rethink this entire Wii experience.

Maybe I needed to move beyond the children’s favorites and discover the other side of the Wii. The kinder, gentler side. Yoga.

How hard can be it be – really? You just stand in these positions.

Or not.

Trust me, it’s a whole lot harder than it looks. It actually hurts. My “tree” position looked like a tornado had come through.

But my one saving grace was the basic step. Up down, up down, step left, step, step. Hey- this is easy! I started to get into it and jazz up my steps with a few claps.

The children gathered around me in awe… wow- the old gal can really move! She dominates on the steps!

Finally! I had discovered something that I could do better than the children. Thanks to years of cheerleading, this mom can still keep beat and move her feet!

Maybe this Wii thing ain’t so bad after all…

Chocolate Oatmeal Cake

chocolate oatmeal cakeThere’s something about the chill of winter that makes me hungry for oatmeal. I love it in the morning made with milk and filled with apple chunks and almonds.

But at my house oatmeal isn’t just for breakfast! I love to add it to many baked goods, including meatballs, muffins, pancakes and chocolate cake.

I discovered this dense, moist cake some years ago and it has become my father-in-law’s favorite! And since it has oatmeal in it- I can at least pretend it’s good for us!

Chocolate Oatmeal Cake

In a large bowl pour 1 – 3/4 cup boiling water over 1 cup of quick oatmeal and 1/2 cup butter. Let stand for 10 minutes.


1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs

Mix well. Add:

1 – 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 heaping tablespoons baking cocoa

Mix well.

Stir in 6 oz. of chocolate chips. Sprinkle with another 6 oz. of chocolate chips  and 3/4 cup nuts.

Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes.

My favorite variation is to put all the nuts and chips right in the batter and spread this classic coconut topping on instead.


Mix together:

1 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup nuts
1 cup coconut

Spread on the hot cake and put under the broiler for just a few minutes until brown and bubbly.

Either way – you have a delicious warm winter comfort food!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Pizza

chocolate peanut butter pizzaWith our weekly “Family Night” also comes the need for a weekly yummy treat. This week’s treat was an experiment that worked really well according to our very own peanut butter aficionado.

Although it was a little too peanut buttery for some in the audience., I’m  not worried! Those of us who loved it will be enjoying it for several days!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pizza


Cream together:

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/3 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In separate bowl combine:

2 cups four
1/3 cup cocoa
2 teaspoon baking powder

Combine alternatively dry mixture alternately with 1/3 cup milk.

Press the dough out into a greased inch pizza pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until the center is set. Cool Completely.

Beat together:

8 ounces of softened cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Fold in 1 cup of Cool Whip

Spread over cooled crust. Sprinkle with M & M’s and honey roasted peanuts. Cut into wedges or squares and enjoy!

This will serve a crowd, but store any left-overs the fridge.