Babs Just A Babblin' Blog

A bit of Gardening, baking, blogging, knitting, sewing, family, friends and discovering hidden treasures along the way.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Let The Holiday Begin!

Wow, I can't believe I did this so early.  I spent some time over the weekend beginning the annual task of decorating.  I'm keeping it simple again this year.  Here is what I accomplished so far:

and this little number is gracing the kitchen counter:
I'll post more as time goes on.  Today is suppose to be 47 degrees so I think I will get outside and do my containers next to the garage - Richie cut some greens for me yesterday. 

Have a good week
TTFN - Babs

Monday, November 29, 2010

Allen T. Stewart III - aka Lenny

Lenny is Maggie's oldest son.

Lenny is 24.  Lenny currently lives in Eugene Oregon.  He is attending college and is in his final year - urban planning is his major.  He's thinking about going on and getting a degree in law as well.

This is Haylee to the right here.  She has been an important woman in his life for quite a few years. I hope she continues to be - she is a very interesting young woman.

Lenny is a biking enthusiast.  He has competed in many races out in Oregon.  He has put it on the back burner a bit due to his studies.  But he has trained hard and thinks nothing about going for a 70 mile bike ride.

Lenny is very much an outdoors person.  He enjoys hiking and camping - especially when his skee-town buddies come to visit.  He is adventurous.  He is a beer snob as well as a coffee snob.   I guess you can be when you live in a city where every street corner has both.

Lenny is a good man. He likes to have fun, he is quiet  yet can be very talkative (does that make sense).  He is very intelligent and is very loyal.  He's protective of his little sister and loves his family.  I love it when he is around.

Up next - Tucker!
TTFN - Babs

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What's Up With This?

Randomly scattered throughout our downtown, painted bikes have been appearing.

No one knows how they appear or what the symbolism is behind them.  For now, our city is allowing them to stay.  It's a mystery.....kind of a fun one.....just what is the reason or who is doing it.  No suspects yet.
Any ideas anyone?
TTFN - Babs

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I Think I Need To Check This Out

Maybe on our way to Orlando, we can check this out.  It's at the Elizabeth Pointe Inn. Amelia Island is just north of Jacksonville FL.

TTFN - Babs

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday!

I'm not leaving the house today!

How about you?

TTFN - Babs

Thursday, November 25, 2010

There's a Bun in the Oven

Mom and Dad to be!

We couldn't be more excited.  June 13th is the muffinette's arrival date.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Not all the family will be around our Thanksgiving table.  Our family is spread out across the country.  Some have other commitments.  The holidays begin and we find ourselves having to spread ourselves to thin.  Attempts to make everyone happy.  Why does it have to be such a frenzy?

For all my family and friends, I wish you all a quiet, peaceful thanksgiving.  I will find a few moments to be silent, in my own little corner of the world, to be calm and in the moment.  I have so much richness in my life.  For that I am grateful.  I've been blessed with a close, loving family; a committed, kind , and loving husband; a mother who turned 90 this year and is still with us; many friends and a new-found life filled with new things each day.  I have my health and the comfort of our home.  I am so content.  We don't struggle and are able to enjoy each new day.  What more could one ask for?

Please, in the quietness of a moment today, reflect on what you are grateful for.

For those of you that are afar, know that you are in my thoughts and that you are loved.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Sister Maggie

Margaret Mary:  my younger sister.
Maggie is the youngest of us all.  She is the most free-spirited of us all.  She's a good person, has a good heart and is a good mother to her four children...Lenny, Tucker, Leah, and Jacob.  She is very ambitious, she likes to have fun and isn't afraid to try things.  She has a ton of energy.  Maggie lives right behind me so over the past 11 years we have grown close to each other.  I really enjoy just poppin' over there for a cup of coffee or Maggie coming my way with her fresh baked banana bread or fresh cookies right out of the oven.
Maggie likes to laugh, doesn't like to be too serious about things, and has a mind of her own!
She let's her hair down:
and loves her Don Sullivan:

You'll meet the kids next.
TTFN - Babs

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I Can't believe I'm starting already!

I just got in the mood today...I guess I'm a little tired of the fall decorations.  After all, Thanksgiving is in two days and all the fall has to disappear.

So to get a jump start on things, I went out and purchased the supplies for this:

Isn't this wreath lovely.  Get this - it's made from a styrofoam base and coffee filters.  Honest.
Well I did mine but it needs some tweaking.  Here's a sneak peak.
It's almost there.  Needs a little trimming.

It was 60 degrees today and tomorrow it's suppose to be in the 30's.  Go figure!
TTFN - Babs

Monday, November 22, 2010

Upcycled Wool Mittens!

I'm so excited!  I have seen info various places about recycling wool sweaters into mittens.  Well, I went out for the hunt and scoured the internet for instructions on how to make them.  Viola!  Polar fleeced lined also.
What do you think?

Off to try another pair or two or three.
TTFN - Babs

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Not Quite Yet Legal Family

To conclude the Chmura family in Orlando, I will wrap it up with an introduction of the women in the Chmura boys life:
Please meet Marlene and her daughters Sarah and Staci.  All three are such sweethearts,  As you may have read previously, Marlene is Mike's girlfriend.  The boys and the gals all get along so well with one another.

Last but not least, we can't forget about Toby - the mut.  I love Toby.
Wow - that was a lot of babblin' about the Florida clan.  Hope you enjoyed it.  Up next will be Maggie's family.

TTFN - Babs

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Erik is my brother Mike's youngest son.  He is the brother to Drew and Adam which you read about previously.

Where do I begin with Erik.  I have so much fun with him!  He is in his junior year at Dr. Philips High School in Orlando.  He is a member of the marching band and LOVES his drums.  He plays with so much enthusiasm and excels at it.  In fact, last year he was a participant in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and was in the drum line of the All American marching band.  Erik travels quite a bit for drum competitions and is quite often sending off CD's of various auditions.

Erik is a young  man after my own heart.  From a very early age, he developed a taste for fine food and desserts.  He is the only child I know that would order a slice of pepperoni pizza and have tiramisu for dessert.  If asked where he would like to go to celebrate good grades on his report card, he would reply "Ruth Chris".  (I haven't even eaten at Ruth Chris but that's one of his favorite's in Orlando).  He also has given  five-star ratings to dessert menus all around Orlando.  He can tell you who has the best creme brulee', the best tiramisu or cheesecake.  A very superb palate for a high schooler!

He encourages me to move in with him.   When I come to visit, he loves my cooking and baking and doesn't want me to leave.  He replies to all  my desserts, "Aunt Barbie, it's a amazing!"  How can you not love that!

Erik and I love to kid each other, he adores his dog Toby, has lots of friends and is considerate of others.
He's getting so tall.  Each time I visit, we  measure our heights and mark them on the kitchen/hallway door casing in red.  He has really surpassed me.  Can't wait to see you again and make the "mark" this winter Erik!

TTFN - Babs

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pumpkin Gold

There are no words to describe how good this dessert is.  I can tell you this, I took two very large pieces over to Maggie's for their dessert.  Maggie's man called me about 45 minutes later and asked if I had more of the dessert as he and Maggie were fighting over the last bite.  They came over within minutes and walked home with three more big pieces!

Pumpkin Gold Recipe

One yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1/2 cup oleo, melted
1/4 cup oleo, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp.cinnamon
1 cup half and half
One large can Pumpkin Pie MIX
Toasted pecans, optional

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour 9 x 13 pan.

Remove one cup of dry cake mix from box and set aside.
Mix remaining cake mix with one egg and 1/2 cup melted oleo.  Pat into bottom of 9x13 pan.
Mix pumpkin pie mix with the brown sugar, two eggs, and half and half.  Pour over bottom layer in pan.
Make crumble for top:
one cup cake mix, cinnamon, sugar and softened oleo.  Mix until crumbly. Sprinkle over top.  Top with toasted pecans if so desired (better with pecans).
Bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes.  Let cool.  Serve with cool whip.  Ahhhh....heaven.

Another overcast day.
Have a great weekend.
TTFN - Babs

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I saw these on a lady recently.  I'm kind of really digging them.  They look so comfy.  What do you think?

Need or want?  Want.....of course.

It's overcast here and just a little while ago they were some white things in the air!!!!! We won't talk about it though.
TTFN - Babs

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Adam is my brother Mike's second child - the middle child.   Adam is 23 I believe - the ages get away from me.  He graduated last December from Florida State University.  He has a degree in business.  He is currently living in Orlando.

Adam has the greatest smile and is so very personable.  He has a good heart!  Where there's a party - Adam is there!  He is one of those that people gravitate towards....!  He is working at Office Max in Orlando - recently broke off a long-term relationship and adjusting to the "real life" of working and everyday life.

I love Adam.  He likes to "get my goat" - example - his last day of high school - I was at his house in Orlando and he walked in the door from school - opened the refrigerator and popped a beer!  What!??!  He loved my reaction.  Also he will never forget the day I slapped his hand when he was eating the chocolate chip cookie dough right out of the bowl.  He thought I was being mean.

If you met Adam - you would instantly like him!  He thinks my mother (Grandma) is the coolest Gramma ever because she threw a real hand grenade when she was in the service.  His grandma rocks! 

It's overcast and raining here.  Just one of those "stay in the house all day" days.
TTFN - Babs

Monday, November 15, 2010

Do You Have A Spare ShoeBox?

My niece Jessie just started a new blog.  It's an interesting concept.  She is featuring non-profit organizations that do good things for others.  Her first entry is Operation Christmas Child.  Click on the link  to learn more about it.

I know that in my area, Forest Park Covenant Church is a collection site.  I am going out tomorrow to fill a shoebox for a little one for the holiday.  How about you?  You need to hurry though, the collection ends Nov.21st.

Thanks for making a difference.

TTFN.  Babs

Thought for the Day

Have a good week!
TTFN - Babs

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Back Home

I'm back from a great weekend spent in Chicago with my sister Maggie.  We stayed in Bedford Park with my niece and her husband.  I refer to their street as Wisteria Lane - it's such a cute neighborhood.

Ate lots of good food.  We had El Pollo Loco on Friday for lunch.  My first time there.  It's pretty tasty.
El Pollo Loco, pronounced “L Po-yo Lo-co” and Spanish for “The Crazy Chicken,” is the nation’s leading quick-service restaurant chain specializing in flame-grilled chicken. Founded in Guasave, Mexico in 1975, El Pollo Loco’s long-term success stems from the unique preparation of its award-winning “pollo”-- fresh chicken marinated in a special recipe of herbs, spices and citrus juices passed down from the founding family. The marinated chicken is then flame-grilled, hand cut and served hot off the grill with warm tortillas and a wide assortment of side dishes.

Rounding out the menu are fresh flavorful entrées inspired by the kitchens of Mexico, including Signature Grilled Burritos, Pollo Bowls, Pollo Salads, Tacos al Carbon and Quesadillas. And of course, there is the fresh salsa bar featuring our famous House Salsa, alongside our Avocado, Chipotle and Pico de Gallo salsas. All are made fresh daily.

Friday evening we went to Zacataco's.  Authentic mexican food - fabulous.

Saturday - Geppetto's - the baked Italian Sphaghetti is so good.

To round it all out, we went to the Shop and Save and got polish goods to bring home - fresh polish sausage, and potato/cheese homemade perogi's.  Oh, I got some Dill Pickle soup too - yum.

It was cold and windy in Chicago yesterday.  Very "bite-y" cold.

Back to the routine at home and just chain restaurants around here - so un-fun.
Have a good week.
TTFN - Babs

Friday, November 12, 2010

See Ya'

Off to Chicago.  Be back in a few days!

TTFN - Babs

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I'd like to introduce to you my nephew, Drew.  He is my brother Mike's oldest son.
Drew is twenty something - five maybe!!  He lives in Orlando also.  He is a graduate of the University of Florida and is an aeronautical engineer.  We like to refer to him as a rocket scientist.  He loves his Gators!
Drew works for a company that designs and makes missile defense stuff.  He enjoys his work and is moving up the ranks at a pretty good clip.  

He recently purchased a home in a nice little 'burb in Orlando.  He is learning all about home ownership and decorating.  He's slowly learning the art of cooking.  He has a desire to master BBQ'ing.  He likes his Weber Grill - just like his Grampa Bruno -  he prefers to cook with charcoal.

Drew is very independent, he likes to think things through, he doesn't make quick decisions at all.  He weighs out all options.  He's very sensible.  Drew likes to travel.  He went to Japan last year and really enjoyed it. He took some really great pictures of parks and gardens.  He was brave and stayed in a Capsule Hotel.   He's doing some undergrad work in photography - he's an understudy of my niece Jessie.  You can find them on  Drew enjoys music also.  He has a great sense of humor.  He doesn't think he could trust a woman with his credit card, not even me, Aunt Barb!  Imagine that!

Drew's a great guy.  I feel honored when he calls me and asks me for advice - be it cooking, decorating or whatever.

TTFN - Babs

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I figured I'd hear something

If you read the comments on my posts, you will see that Marlene "had to complain" about the Mike post.  She didn't like the picture of her!  So, to make her happy, let's try again.
Is that better, honey?  I think you're adorable.
TTFN - Babs

Ahh! Perfection!

Pumpkin Muffins!  Perfect for fall.
I just love my little european cupcake papers too!
It's another gorgeous day today.  Out thermometer is reading 60.3 degrees!
TTFN - Babs

Monday, November 8, 2010


This is my younger brother Mike and his girlfriend Marlene.  He will probably yell at me for not showcasing him alone but, you know, Marlene is his everything so why not put her in the picture.  I promise I won't talk about her.

Mike lives in Orlando with his three boys, Drew, Adam and Erik.  He is an accountant - our numbers man.  Mike and I are a lot alike (I think).  He is very calm, level headed, thinks things through, weighs pro and cons before making decisions.  He is always fair and doesn't hesitate to confront situations.  If any major family concerns arise, we usually consult Mike because he makes good, rational decisions.

He is a good father and a great provider and mentor for the boys.  He likes fine things - has great taste in clothing, food, wine and cigars (oh I guess in women too - like that Marlene!).  He always makes guests feel welcomed in his home, always opening his door to anyone who wants to visit.  He knows how to show people a good time.  He likes to do fun things.  One of his favorite hobbies is fly fishing.  He comes up to Muskegon several times a year to do just that.  There's nothing better for him then spending time on the river! And he makes a conscious effort to visit "Granny" several times a year.

I turn to Mike for his opinions on things often.  Though far away, I feel very close to him.  He's a great guy with great boys.  We visit him in Orlando at least once a year and really look forward to it.  Can't wait to get there this winter.  He gives me free rein of his house - organizing the pantry and kitchen cupboards, cooking, cleaning, re-arranging things.....I guess he trusts my taste.  He has great suggestions for good restuarants too.

Next, we'll talk about the boys. You'll meet Toby the dog, as well as learn a little bit about Marlene and her darling daughters.

It's absolutely gorgeous here for Nov. 8th.  At one time, the outside temp was 64 degrees.  The hubby is on his Harley as I write.  Can't ask for better weather.

TTFN - Babs

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mandarin Orange Cake

We celebrated Mr. Richard's birthday with one of his favorite cakes - Mandarin Orange Cake.  This is truly an easy cake and oh so moist.  It's surely to become a favorite in your household.
Mandarin Orange Cake
One yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1 can mandarin oranges (11 oz)
1 cup oil

Mix all the ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.  Pour into two greased and floured round pans.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.  Cool.

1-16 oz container cool whip
1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding
1 24-oz can crushed pineapple (drained)
Mix all together.  Cut the two layers in half to create four layers.  Frost.  Eat.
Leftovers (if any) in refrigerator due to cool whip frosting.  Enjoy!

TTFN - Babs

Family - Two Nieces

Ginny's daughters, Jackie and Jessie, are my little sweethearts!  I adore these girls.  They have grown up with me.  When they were little, they came and stayed overnight with me often.  I have such good memories of those days.
Jackie is the older of the two.  She is married to Joffrey.  They have been married a little over two years.  They live in Chicago.  Jackie works at World's Finest Chocolates. (yum).  Jackie is probably the most like me of all the kids.  She likes to cook and bake, she's pretty direct (when she wants to be), she likes crafting and she likes fussing around the house.  She likes to try new things and enjoys decorating their new home.  She is a very caring person - she's very considerate of others, and has a great sense of humor.   She can talk to any one, any where, any time!  Chat, chat, chat.  My hubby thinks she eats too slow.  Everyone else is done and she's still making her way through her food - that's because she talks.  This is her hubby Joffrey: a great husband and a really good man.

  Jessica Ruth:
These two sisters are amazing.  They are really close to one another.  They have helped each other through some trying times.  Jessie is a recent graduate from Grand Valley State University.  She is a professional photographer.  She currently lives in Holland which is about 40 minutes from me. Jessie is a leasing agent for an apartment complex and does some nanny work in my hometown.  She enjoys wedding photography and private photo sessions which she does in her sparetime.

 Jessie lived with us for a while this summer and I loved it.  Jessie is a gentle spirit and sweet young lady.  She has a very kind heart and doesn't want to hurt anyone.  She is much quieter than her chatty sister and a bit more introspective.  She loves her family and it is important for her to be within close range of them.

She is currently dating a good guy by the name of Cory.  He is a teacher and is living about five hours away.  This isn't the most ideal situation for them but they will figure it out.

Jessie did a lot of volunteer mission work in her college days and spent summers at her church camp in Arcadia as well.  She values doing good works for others.  I've seen more of Jessie over this past year since she lives so close and I have come to really enjoy her and the company we keep.  She feels comfortable just bopping over for dinner after work or just hanging out with me.  I love it and her.

I feel blessed to have these two delightful girls in my life.

That's it for now.  TTFN - Babs

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Next up for my family introductions is my older sister Ginny (Virginia, Ginny Ann, Ginka (polish for Ginny).

Ginny is two years older than me.  She lives in Portage, Michigan.  She has lived there every since her college days.  Ginny is a respiratory therapist.  She currently works in a physician's office for a Pulmonologist.  She previously has worked in home care and in the inpatient hospital setting.  Ginny has two daughters, Jackie and Jessie - they will be featured in a separate post.  She is a good mom to her girls.

Ginny likes to antique, she loves to travel - her recent trip being Italy.  She really enjoys photography, reading, and she loves to shop.   She does a lot of fun things with her good friend Deb.    Though she lives a few hours away, Ginny visits us often and keeps a watchful eye on our mother, as well all do.

Ginny has a vicious cat named Coco.  Coco loves Ginny but hates everyone else.  What can I say. 

Next up will be here two daughters - Jackie and Jessica.

Today is a sunny day though it was 25 degrees earlier!  I think it has creeped up to 41.
TTFN - Babs

Friday, November 5, 2010


I recently came across this premier issue of a great Ezine (e-magazine) Gifted.   

There are some wonderful holidays gifting ideas.  Grab a cup of coffee,  hot cocoa or whatever (wine!) and treat yourself to some real eye candy.  There are a few things I found that I gathered supplies to make.  Can't wait.

Click on the Gifted link above to check it out - love, love it!
Have a great weekend.  TTFN - Babs

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I have a very close knit family.  People find that I speak a lot about my family.  I guess I do.  It seems like I am always sharing with others the latest and greatest happenings in the kids and siblings lives.  I talk about my Mom a lot also.

A friend shared with me today that she was surprised when she recently saw a picture of one of the nieces and said, "That's not at all how I pictured so and so!"  I was taken by surprise.  I didn't realize that all my friends didn't "know" all the family - seems like I show pictures often but I guess not to everyone.  Not everyone has had opportunities to meet all of them.

Thus, over the next few weeks, I am going to introduce you to all of my family, particularly the nieces and nephews and offer a glimpse of their lives.  These kids mean the world to me.  They are "my kids" as I know kids.  Each one is precious to me.

Today we will begin with my oldest brother - Phil.  (Hi Philbert!)
Phil - what can I say.  He is a great guy.  Phil lives in Muskegon and lives alone in a cute little neighborhood.  He is close to all of us and we can depend on Phil to help us with anything.  He keeps a watchful eye on our Mother and is always there for her and us.  Phil lives with his mut, Shadow.  We kid him about the dog but they are the closest of bud's.  Phil is a bit of a loner, spends a lot of time reading, listening to NPR, walking the dog, and dabbles a bit in baking and breadmaking.  He is very bright.  We turn to him for all of our intellectual  needs.  He generally knows the answer.  We all think he should go on Jeopardy!  Phil has one daughter, Lindsey.

Lindsey is my oldest niece, the first born!   I want to say she is 31 years old.  She lives in Holland,Michigan which is only about 45 minutes from me.  She is a dog groomer and works for a grooming business in Holland.  She has a boyfriend Luke.  Lindsey is a sweet gal and loves being close to her family.  Surprisingly she loves our old fashion family Christmas Eve dinner, going to Mass on Christmas, blessing of the food at Easter.  She enjoys things like I do, fancy little desserts, nice presentations at dinner tables, all the little extras that I like to go through.  She pays attention to details and is a great organizer.  She and I have had a close relationship in her growing up years.  We were mother/daughter-ish for many years.  I cherish those days and hope that we rekindle that closeness someday.  Life takes each of us in different directions at times however, the heart remains true.  I love Lindsey dearly.

Next time, I will introduce you to my older sister, Ginny and her family.

I heard on the weather today the "s" word tonight.  I'm not happy!  It's cold and a little drizzley here today - the sun will peak out every once in a while.

TTFN - Babs 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Need vs. Want

I spent some time this morning reading some of my blogs.  (One of my favorite things to do these days).  I came across a blog that referenced a wall print for sale by a friend of hers.  It caught my eye.  I thought,  "hmmmm...that would look really good in our bedroom."  First reaction, get the credit card out and order it up.  Here it is:  what do you think?  Nice, huh?
 So, my point is I need to take time and.....pause.  Is this a need or a want?  Well, of course, it's not a need - it's definitely a want.  I have had the bad habit of buying so many things on impulse.  In the past few weeks, I have taken on the challenge of emptying shelves in the basement, laundry room, kitchen cupboards.  There are so many things I purchased, well just because I could and just because I thought I "needed" them.  Like the pasta machine, the FoodSaver, the endless decorating items.  First it was the geese phase, then the cow phase, then the red kitchen, on and on and on.  What determines a "want" worthy of purchase?

Now that we are on somewhat of a "fixed" income, it is time for me to re-evaluate my spending patterns and really stop and think about things first.  Does it really make sense to make a purchase.  Is it impractical or necessary?  I thought I was getting pretty good at it then, WHAM, there I go again.  I look back this past month or two and I bought several things that now, I'm saying.....what the hell you were thinking..,,,,it was simply impulse.

What about you?  Do you buy on impulse or do you really think things through?  How do you go about discipling yourself?  Any tips?

It's a gloomy day here - looks like rain.  I have been thankful for the abundance of sunshine we have had and the great temperatures.  Our yard is in tip top shape - the leaves are raked, the lawn cut down, the flowers all cut back, yard furniture put away.  All that's left is wrap the bushes with burlap and clean out the gutters (I should say that's all that's left for the hubby to do).

Enjoy your day - TTFN - Babs

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

VOTE 2010

Good God - I am sure glad today is here!  No more slamming, trash  mail, annoying phone calls, and endless, meaningless commercials.

Now we can be bombarded with Christmas!

TTFN - Babs

Monday, November 1, 2010


I must admit I love scones.  I have tried to make them time and time again.  Failure!  They always turn out like hard rocks...oh so dry.

I saw, on one of my blogs that I follow, that the savvycityfarmer was making scones and she stated they were wonderful.  So I boldly emailed her and asked if she would share the recipe.  Surprise - she did.  I have a new friend!  It was taken from The Joy of Baking.  I tried them out and yes,,,,,they are darn good.

Stop by for a cup of coffee and a scone - I'd love to chat!
Ready to go in the oven

 Cranberry Orange Scones

TTFN - Babs