Monday, August 26, 2013

Chocolate Lasagna

from the kitchen of JeanieBeanHandKnits

Prep: 20mnTotal: 1hr 20mn
Cook: N/A

1 package regular Oreo cookies (Not Double Stuff) – about 36 cookies
6 Tablespoon butter, melted
1- 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons cold milk
1- 12 ounce tub Cool Whip, divided
2 – 3.9 ounce packages Chocolate Instant Pudding.
3 1/4 cups cold milk
1 and 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips

Begin by crushing 36 Oreo cookies. I used my food processor for this, but you could also place them in a large ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin. When the Oreos have turned into fine crumbs, you are done.

Transfer the Oreo crumbs to a large bowl. Stir in 6 tablespoons melted butter and use a fork to incorporate the butter into the cookie crumbs. When the butter is distributed, transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator while you work on the additional layers.

Mix the cream cheese with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add in 2 Tablespoons of milk, and sugar, and mix well. Stir in 1 and 1/4 cups Cool Whip. Spread this mixture over the crust.

In a bowl, combine chocolate instant pudding with 3 and 1/4 cups cold milk. Whisk for several minutes until the pudding starts to thicken. Use a spatula to spread the mixture over the previous cream cheese layer. Allow the dessert to rest for about 5 minutes so that the pudding can firm up further.

Spread the remaining Cool Whip over the top. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips evenly over the top. Place in the freezer for 1 hour, or the refrigerator for 4 hours before serving.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Happiness is Asheville

by our return guest blogger, KPTography

Anyone who knows me, or knows of me, knows that Asheville, North Carolina is my happy place. Even my students can tell you that I live and breathe the Biltmore Estate. I make no bones about it. I love the Biltmore. I love how it looks, I love what it was and what it is. I love the family history. I love the estate!

This summer I got to go on a daddy/daughter trip to Asheville. This trip I actually spent more time off the estate then I have in all of my time visiting Asheville. I now have proof (besides my own opinion) that Asheville is a very happy place to be.

I love animals. I can even love a snake as long as its behind glass with a very secure lid. This trip I visited the Western North Carolina Nature Center. I was totally excited because I was going to see my very first bear and wolves (yes the non-Twilight type). Dad and I went through the reptile house (a bit quickly I might add). We wandered over to the River Otters. They turned out to be camera hogs. That’s when I heard the snuffing. I followed my ears until I reached a very large fenced in area and there he was. A big black bear that was not playing so nicely with his enclosure mate (I think the bear was an only child and I could relate to that!)

This ranked right up there with finding Pez world with my mom. I followed this bear that didn’t want his picture taken attempting to get the perfect shot. I had just about given up when it happened. He plopped himself down against a tree, started scratching his butt and then grinned like nobodies business. I wasn’t sure if I had seen this correctly but he did it several times. I decided the bear was happy because he was in Asheville. I know I got so excited about the grinning bear I completely forgot about the wolves!
Dad and I also spent one morning in downtown. I love the stores in downtown but this was the first time I had experienced downtown without a crowd. As I walked around I noticed that all of the merchants had water bowls for the dogs outside their stores. Even if they weren’t a pet store there was a fresh bowl of water for a pooch in need. Its no wonder all the pups in Asheville are friendly and happy. They know that they are welcome to come in for a visit.

The other day I was reading the news online and came across the article called The Happiest States In America In One Map ( in the Huffington Post. The only town listed on the eastern seaboard was Asheville! Something I already knew but was very happy to see that I had been correct.

I will always love Asheville because of the Biltmore Estate but it’s so nice to know that the animals are happy there too!

Monday, August 12, 2013


     During my travels, New Zealand was one of the countries I was fortunate enough to visit.  I knew little about New Zealand, other than the fact that it is comprised of two main islands, the North Island and the South Island.  Unfortunately, I was only able to visit the North, but was impressed by the beauty of the landscape, the friendly people, and the delicious seafood.  The aspect that surprised and intrigued me the most was my discovery of Maori designs and carvings.

     The Maoris are the original Polynesian settlers of New Zealand.  They brought with them styles of artifacts current on their home islands, but the need for canoes and houses, together with the abundance of soft timber and hardstone for tools, facilitated an art tradition that developed for hundreds of years.  This artistic development can be clearly seen in what the Maori refer to as te toi whakairo, or the art of Maori carving.

     Carving was a sacred, honored and cherished profession.  The master carvers were men of distinction and fame.  The Maori people shared the Polynesian belief that the artist was a vehicle through whom the gods created and communicated.  The carvers were seen as carrying on a much respected and highly valued art form.  This view is still prevalent in Maori society.

     Wood was not the only material the Maori carved.  On the South Island, they found large deposits of jade, which they call pounamu, or green stone.  The predominant color of New Zealand jade is green, but there are tints that are nearly white, and shades appearing almost black.  The stone also ranges from translucent to semi-opaque.  The Maori made the jade into weapons, tools, and ornaments.  Jade was also a valued trade item.

     Maori designs were based on spiritual beliefs, combined with nature and necessity.  The fish-hook design became prevalent because fish was their main source of protein, as well as an important item of trade, and a factor in calculating the standing and wealth of a tribe.  Another shape that is almost an essential part of any carving is the koru, or spiral.  The koru was inspired by the fern plant, which sends up a narrow shoot with a curled-over tip.  Fern root was also a food source.  It was beaten with stone or wood to separate out stringy internal fibers, flavored with flax honey or berries, and made into cakes.  Depending upon the way the koru shape is used, it can represent growth, life or movement.  The three pendants pictured are variations of this spiral shape.

     Carved on the lid of the box pictured is a stylized version of the New Zealand night bird, or Ruru.  The human figure was also a widely used subject.

     I've covered only a small sampling of the many beautiful Maori designs.  The Maori of today continue to carve, using traditional as well as new interpretations of established designs.  It is my hope that te toi whakairo will live on in future generations.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Advertising – even about something else – Works

by FabricGreetings

The small town we live in is bordered by the Rte 40 corridor. That is a four lane road which is peppered with strip malls, fast food places and liquor stores. It essentially is the place to shop. And since our county seems to have lower liquor prices than neighboring Delaware, those stores get a lot of traffic.

About 18 months ago, some construction began on a culvert along the side of one liquor store. Traffic was shifted and jersey barriers were installed to protect he workers. Unfortunately these barriers also blocked a good portion of the entrance to the liquor store. So people just sailed on by to the next one down the road.

I would imagine that the construction took a toll on said business. Big OPEN signs were on the marquee and flags flew. The thing was that there was NEVER any work being done. The equipment was there and those dang jersey barriers.

Early this year, the marquee had a different message. I really wish I had thought to photograph this. But the camera was never with me and I have no idea how to use the camera on the old cell phone I have – if it even has a camera. So I am driving down the road and the marquee has this on it.

Invisible Men Working!

I must say, it sure caught a lot of people's attention. You could see people in their cars smiling. But still no work being done. Fast forward a few weeks and another sign appeared.

Looking for Good Home
Abandoned Equipment
Barely Used

Now this is beginning to make driving that stretch of road a pleasure. Wonder what will come next? How about....

Lowest Bid Is Not
Always the Answer

This is getting funnier each time I drive by. Then I noticed that there was a bit of activity on the sideline. Guess the marquee is prodding someone to get working. Wrong – a day or two and no activity. New sign.

By the Time This Job Is Done
We Will All Be Pushing Up Daisies

Oh look, a little more activity. Is there hope? Evidently the liquor store had its doubts.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel
Is a Train

Have been away for a bit of time and haven't traveled Rte 40 until today. Wow! No jersey barriers, no lane shift, no construction equipment. And the marquee today reads....

Fairy Tales Can Come True
It Can Happen to You.

Never in all these weeks has the liquor store said anything about sales, specials or anything else. But I am sure this advertising has reached every person who has traveled this road. I don't buy much liquor, but if I ever need to, you know where I will head.

You can see the signs on the store's facebook page: