Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cranberry Bliss Bars

For Natalie Kimball and Patrice Milless and anyone else who wants my recipe.

I modified this to my taste but you can make it how you like it. I made these for Easton's Baptism yesterday and everyone wanted the recipe. So, this is the easiest way I can do it. Just let me know if you have any questions. :)

Laura's Cranberry Bliss Bars


1 cup butter (2 sticks, very soft)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
¾ cup craisins (dried cranberries)
¾ cup white chocolate chips
½ tsp. orange extract
½ tsp. vanilla extract


1 pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 Tblsp. Butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
½ tsp. orange extract
½ tsp. vanilla extract


½ cup craisins
½ cup white chocolate chips
½ tsp canola oil
1/3 cup white chocolate chips


1.       Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 for a dark or glass pan). Grease & flour pan (I use a 9x13 inch cake pan). 

2.       BARS: with an electric mixer, beat softened butter and sugars, 3-5 mins until light. Gently blend in the eggs and extracts. Add the flour, baking powder, and ginger and beat briefly. Add the cranberries and chips, just until they are incorporated. 

3.       Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until light brown at the edges and a skewer or toothpick comes out clean. Don’t over bake or bars will be dry. Once done, cook on a baking rack. 

4.       FROSTING: Blend cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the extracts and confectioners sugar one cup at a time until smooth. If it is too thick to spread, add a tablespoon of milk. Make sure bars are completely cooled before frosting or the frosting will sink into the bars. 

5.       GARNISH: Chop up craisins and sprinkle over frosting with ½ cup of chips. You can add freshly grated orange zest, if you want. I find the orange flavor overrides the rest of the flavors. 

6.       DRIZZLE: Mix 1/3 cup chips with canola oil and microwave 1 minute, stirring every 15 seconds until completely melted. Use a spoon or fork to drizzle white chocolate on top of bars diagonally. Make sure bars set for 1 hour for white chocolate to set up before cutting into bars. 

7.       Enjoy! :)

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Tax Time

I just did my taxes. Now, I'm depressed.

For the first time, I actually owe money for my federal taxes. It's only about $200.00 but still, I can't believe I have to pay in.

I work two jobs. When I am working both of them, I put in 12 to 14 hour days. Right now, I have it set up so I have at least one day off (Sundays) from both jobs, so that means I work 6 days a week.

What do I have to show for it? Not much. I have some savings, but the money I make is to pay for the electricity, the phone, groceries, and any of the odds and ends of just living can bring. I need to save more, but it seems when I get some money saved up, something happens and I end up using my savings and starting from zero again.

I need more "passive income." That lovely way of making money at home without having to punch a clock. There are many ways I can do that, but I have to figure out how to work it in to my schedule.

Writing is the only thing I can do right now. I love to do it, I love having everyone read my articles. I just have to find a way to get paid for it.

Maybe I can make enough to pay my taxes. :)

Just a few thoughts on a lovely Sunday afternoon. 

Any ideas, please post in the comments below. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

For My Mother

Today is my mother's birthday. I stopped over to her house after work to give her a card and some of her favorite danish (yes, I cheated a bit on the diet, but it was her birthday, after all).

We had coffee, talked, got caught up on the recent stuff and then had a bit of fried steak with her and my Dad and then left.

I wanted to share this because I am learning to feel grateful about all the people I have in my life that I care about. One of them, is of course my mother.

There are times when I love her so much it hurts. There are times she drives me nuts, and I'm sure I drive her nuts, too. Tree to Apple, I am my mother's daughter, some ways I don't want to admit, but I am.

I am grateful I still have my mother in my life. Always, even on the days when she and push the buttons on each other and get so frustrated at each other we could pull out our own hair in utter exasperation. But I am able to visit my Mom at her home, she is still in great health. She beat breast cancer and so far so good, it has not dared to come back. She raised me, my sister and my brother. She is a fabulous grandmother and she has aged beautifully through all the good times, the bad times and the sad times.

My birthday wish for my mother is for her to be happy. I want her to laugh more, to do more things for her own good as well as the good of the family. She needs to start living HER life, not living her life for everyone else. I want her to not ever have any regrets about what could have been instead of what was.

Happy Birthday, Mavis. I love you to the moon and back.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Happy New Year 2013!

It's been a year since I last posted.

Hard to believe but I have been really busy. Too busy to do much of anything except work 2 jobs and sleep. Just ask my honey. He doesn't see much of me anymore. I feel a lot like a passing ship when it comes to him. I am hoping to change that in 2013 by getting a job that will allow me to have more time, more freedom and make more money to make all of those things possible.

I was happy to let 2012 go. It was a really tough year. I lost a lot of people I cared and loved in 2012.

My grandmother, Ellen Crawford, passed in the spring after being in hospital.

Then my cousin Bobby Alcorn was killed in a motorcycle accident at the age of 24 in June.

A few months later, my Uncle Keith Ashford died after being in the hospital for complications of a stroke. I miss them all.

Work consisted of me going from one job to the other with no time in between and barely any time off. I did take a week's vacation in September and went camping with my honey. Fishing wasn't the greatest but the weather was awesome and we both needed the time off.

We were blessed with another grandbaby in 2012. Easton Michael Milless was born on November 20, 2012. He is a handsome little boy and his sisters, Ava and Lilly are doing well. 

Right now, I am writing this on my first day off of 2013. My last full day off was the day after Christmas. My best present (other than the new tires I needed for my car I got from my honey) was my son, Alex, and his girlfriend, Ali, coming home to surprise us. Andy came home from Iowa and was able to spend Christmas with us, too, which was great.

The book we published in my last post sold a few copies, but we didn't make a fortune off of it. I did learn a lot from the experience of publishing it and plan to have a few other books added to the list to sell this year. I did get a new Kindle from my son for Christmas, which is awesome. I love being able to just read and have all those books on one little device. It's like holding a library in your hands.

I do love old fashioned books because I don't have to recharge them and can take them anywhere.

I know a lot of people are making resolutions. I have decided to embrace the idea of making commitments for 2013. I have listed them here:

Commitments for 2013

1. Give more time, love, energy, and prosperity to my honey in 2013. (Spoil him rotten!)

2. Be grateful and appreciative of each and every day I'm above ground.

3. Take my honey to Alaska to go fishing.

4. Publish my writing.

5. Lose 50 pounds or more.

6.  Make $25 an hour or more at one job.

7. Spend more quality time with my family, especially the kids and the grandkids.

I hope everyone has a fabulous 2013. I will be posting again very soon, well before 2014. :)

Monday, January 09, 2012

Skippy and the Blueberry Pacakes

Happy New Year!

This year we started the new year off with completing a project we have been working on for close to a year. Last year we found a small black dog in the coldest part of the winter. We took him in and he stayed with us for three days as we tried to find his family. We thought he was from our neighborhood, but he was actually from the other side of town. We talked about writing a children's book about this little dog's adventures and publishing it.

I am happy to announce we have made that dream a reality. On January 2, 2012, we published the Kindle version of "Skippy and the Blueberry Pancakes." It is available on Just click here to find it: Skippy and the Blueberry Pancakes. 

It's for sale for $0.99 for the Kindle version and we hope to have a print edition in the near future. We may not make Stephen King money, but the fact we have realized our dream is priceless.

If I can impart any advice for the coming year, whether the world ends (again), or not, is to just do what you can do to move forward toward your dream. I am amazed at how kind and supportive people are when they realize that you are doing what you love and while it make not make you rich financially, it will enrich you personally with the experience.

Until next time, keep moving forward and please be kind.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Last Call

Tonight at work, job number 2, I got a very interesting call.

The gentleman who called was looking for an article that had been published in the paper earlier in the week. I said I would try to help him find it and I did. The conversation then turned to articles and writing and he asked me if I was a writer then what was I doing answering phones for the paper when I should be writing for them, or basically something to that effect.

As Jason DeRusha would say, "Good Question."

Then he asked if I really liked what I was doing and I said, "I love this job. I get to talk to really cool people and yes, there are those who complain, but they usually have a right to complain and I don't take it personally." He asked where I was a writer at and my stock answer was I wrote for my local paper.

He asked if I was making any money off of it and I said, "No, I don't get paid to do it, it's more of a nice way to feed my ego." Then the conversation took a turn.

"When you start believing you are good enough to make money at what you really love doing and are brave enough to take the risk, the money will follow."

I forwarded him the link, thanked him for the conversation and I logged off and went home.

On the way home, I couldn't help thinking about what this random stranger told me over the phone. I have been debating, like I always do, of whether I should just give up this writing dream and just make as much money as I can doing "real work" and just save up and do the writing when I retire, if I ever make it to retirement. I have been thinking of this quite a bit over the last few weeks, looking for some answer to my dilemma and hoping something would speak to me and clarify what I need to do.

I got the answer I wanted.

Through the last call of the night from a random stranger.

Thank you. I know what I have to do. And more importantly, I have to do now, not when I retire and not one day later. I have to take the risk and see what happens.

When I got home, the conversation I had with the love of my life, doubly clarified it for me. Ok. I got the messages, loud and clear.

Thanks again. And I'll keep you all updated with what happens next. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Gift of A Day Off

I know it's been a long time since I last posted.

Since my last post, I have been laid off from my job as a customer service representative for a lawn care company because the season ended. I will be going back in the spring and have taken on working two part-time jobs.

One job is at Target and I work from 4:30 am or 5:30 am to 9:00 am or 10 am or longer, doing logistics, which is unloading freight from the truck and stocking the shelves. My second job is as a customer service representative at a call center for the StarTribune. I love both jobs and love the fact I am not sitting around the house. Since working at Target, I've lost over 20 pounds. My clothes fit better, my sleeping is better (since I have to go to bed earlier), and I get paid to have a very intense workout lifting and walking and bending. I also am home by 6:00 pm which gives me more time to see my honey everyday, even if I have to work at both places on the same day.

I've been working almost everyday at one job or the other since late October, and today was my first day off from both jobs in weeks. I am very grateful for this time and spent it the way I wanted to, with no errands or driving around all over town, or working on a lot of stuff around the house. I was tempted to go nuts and clean and work on stuff around the house, but on the other hand, I wanted to just relax, to rest, to take stock and breathe a little bit. It's been such a crazy time, I haven't allowed myself any time off to just do that.

Today, I slept in as late as I wanted, did some laundry, the dishes and watched my favorite shows in the afternoon: Rachel Ray, The Doctors, The Dr. Oz Show, and Jeopardy. I also caught up on Facebook and on my emails. I even made out my To Do List for the next couple of weeks and also my grocery list for the next week. I will be finishing my NaNoWriMo novel for this year, and posting my word count once I have it verified, and will probably start working on a few ideas for some articles. I haven't allowed myself much time for my writing either. I realized how much I missed it until today. And how much I missed the time to just do what you want to do. It's very precious. Don't waste it.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and I will post again soon. Take care.