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See Pictures of Tornado Shelter Installation


In spite of it being Fall, it feels more like summer around here.  According to our weatherman, we are to have our first ‘fall’ cool front next week – and it can’t get here too soon for me.


Regardless of the weather, we enjoy sitting on the deck but since we lost our oak tree last year – can’t believe it’s been a whole year – it is often a little too warm to sit out there as the deck faces west. To try and give us a little relief, I made a couple of large shades to hang on the deck blocking that afternoon sun.


While one might think of these as ‘homemade’ I rather like to think of them as a major craft project. I say major because it took me a lot longer than anticipated to make them. Working with a bulky 4 foot x 6 foot piece of fabric on a kitchen table using a not-intended-for-heavy-fabric sewing machine was quite the challenge.


To keep the costs down I used some left over weed barrier fabric we had stored in the garage. (Note: will add some solar screen to them next summer for more ‘heat relief’.)    I didn’t want to use just the solar screen because it is so thin wasn’t sure it would hold up to the stitching or the hanging by itself.





Anyway . . . the weed barrier is pretty much indestructible and the weave lets you see through it  . . . a little.    Once the edges were seamed, it was pretty easy to hammer in the grommets (for the shower curtain rings)  and hang the shades from a length of pipe held in place with curtain hardware.


Also used another  piece of pipe along the bottom to weight it and keep it from blowing too much. The pipe also keeps it open and doesn’t let it bunch up.   Added a couple of fabric loops on each side of the bottom so that we could roll the shades  up if we wanted to get them out of the way.  So far they are working really well – and I wasn’t out a lot of $$$$.














Some of my other ‘Fall’ favorite ‘homemade’ things are . . .

Rodeo Nuts

Pecan Pralines

Egg Nog Ice Cream from Vanilla

and for those that like Pig Candy aka Sugared Bacon – check out the recipes for making homemade pig candy at Perfect Jerky.



Saw a slide show the other day on healthiest human foods a dog can eat. Was familiar of most them – but there were a couple of surprises.




This is the list. If you’d like to read the entire article for an overview of the benefits of each food, visit this link.

  • Peanut Butter (Bear likes creamy)
  • Chicken (Bear’s favorite)
  • Cheese
  • Carrots
  • Yogurt (Plain, low-fat, no flavor)
  • Pumpkin
  • Eggs
  • Green Beans
  • Salmon
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Apples (No Seeds !!!)
  • Oatmeal




Chocolate Cake in the Pan with Fudge Frosting – 50% Less Sugar

Seems I’m always trying to find a way to make desserts with no – or at least less -sugar. The latest in my search was to make an old favorite, Cake in the Pan using Splenda® for half of the sugar called for in the recipe (cake and fudge frosting).


This treat is a chocolate cake made from scratch. Once baked you leave it in the pan and pour fudge frosting over the top.   It is delicious and for those that don’t have to watch their sugar intake, the real fudge frosting is wonderful.


As I’ve mentioned before, replacing sugar with Splenda® in recipes seems to change the texture of whatever I’m making – and while the cake turned out pretty much the same, the frosting took a hit.


The frosting made with sugar is just like a nice creamy, chocolate fudge. The frosting made with the sugar/Splenda® blend came out like a thick chocolate caramel.  Not that it was a bad thing.  Just did not firm up . . . and in its own way was just as good.  Great flavor.  So good, in fact, that I may just make a batch of the frosting to drizzle over ice cream.  To me, the Splenda® fudge frosting was very much like the ‘hot fudge’ they use at DQ on their sundaes.


Recipe for both cake and frosting follow.  Also, recommend using the ingredients called for, i.e., Crisco, buttermilk – as they are necessary for the right texture.    I have cut this recipe in-half and it turned out just as good.

50% Less Sugar Chocolate Cake in the Pan



  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 1-1/4 cups Splenda®
  • 1 cup Crisco OR 1/2 cup Crisco & 1/2 cup butter   (I just use Crisco)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2-1/2 cups all purpose flour (sifted)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk (Must use buttermilk)
  • 2 teaspoon soda
  • 1 cup boiling water


  1. Mix sugar and shortening  OR shortening/butter
  2. Add in eggs
  3. Put soda in buttermilk and stir
  4. Add in buttermilk, flour, salt and cocoa powder
  5. Add vanilla
  6. After all ingredients are well mixed (by hand), add in the boiling water and stir.
  7. Pour into greased cake pan (13″ x 9″)
  8. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for approximately 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
  9. Leave cake in pan and pour fudge frosting over top

Note: I usually let my cake cool a little before pouring the frosting over, but not necessary to do so.

Fudge Frosting


  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup Splenda®
  • 2/3 cup regular milk (I use Half & Half – gives a more creamy texture)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (reserve for last step)


  1. In a medium sized saucepan bring first five (5) ingredients to a boil, stirring continuously
  2. Once to a boil, lower heat and continue to gently boil for approximately 3 minutes
  3. Remove from heat, add in the vanilla and beat until thick **
  4. Spread/pour over cake in the pan

** Once you’ve removed the frosting from the heat, placing the saucepan in a large bowl of iced water while beating.  This will help speed the thickening process along.


  1.  If you want a regular, full-sugar cake, just replace the Splenda® with equal amounts of sugar.   The rest of the recipe remains the same.
  2. The regular sugar version of this cake freezes well. Cut into serving size portions, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze.  Defrost and enjoy as wanted.

More Insurance Info

For those dealing with insurance claims, check out the FB page of Clay Morrison for new information . . . .

“Texas Department of Insurance published Bulletin #B-0033-17. They have officially extended the deadline to dispute your TWIA claim based on reasons that we have been trying to express loud and clear.”




Crunchy, Country Fried Chicken & Raining Pears


What a time it’s been. We were prepared to get around 11 inches of rain from Harvey – according to local weather – but ended up getting only about 5-1/2 inches . . . over 4 days!  You can see from the photo that Houston got inundated.  Having been born and raised in Houston I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw what looked like an ocean.  That area is very flat and for the water to get that deep is almost too much to believe.  The people/businesses must have been covered and  sadly, many we know in Houston and surrounding communities  got water in their homes as well.


If you are looking for some good information on how to deal with insurance claims, please follow Clay Morrison on Facebook. He is a professional and has shared excellent information about the process.  To see Clay’s FB page, visit this link. 




In spite of the slight winds and continuous rains, my pear tree is still loaded with pears. That’s why when David offered to shake them down the other evening, took him up on it.  Didn’t know he’d need a hard hat !  About 2 buckets of pears came raining down on him !!   OUCH !!    There are still about half as many still up there, but I’ll bet he’s not going to do that again.


You all know David loves anything fried . . . and when it comes to chicken he likes it extra crunchy.   I’ve tried a lot of recipes trying to get ‘crunchy’ chicken but think I can stop looking.  This one is so far the best.    Leftovers freeze well for snacks later on.

The seasoned flour I use is the HEB brand but any seasoned flour will work. Don’t have seasoned flour?  Try mixing your own by adding the following to 2 cups regular flour:

  • 1 TBSP black pepper
  • 1 TBSP white pepper (optional)
  • 1 TBSP regular salt
  • 1 TBSP seasoned salt
  • 1 TBSP onion powder
  • 1 TBSP garlic powder
  • 2 TBSP paprika

. . . like a little kick to your chicken? Try adding in 1 tsp of cayenne.








Crunchy, Country Fried Chicken Recipe


  • 1 cup seasoned flour
  • 1/3 cup crushed corn flakes
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • oil for frying
  • chicken pieces / tenders for frying

Note: This recipe was enough to prepare 1 large chicken breast tenders (about 6 – 7 pieces) .  Also, I pound my chicken breasts so that the thickness is fairly uniform, helps to cook more evenly.


  1. In one bowl place the seasoned flour and crushed corn flakes and combine
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk, egg and baking powder.
  3. Dip the chicken pieces/tenders into the buttermilk mixture then toss in the dry mix, shaking off any excess *
  4. Gently lower the chicken into the hot oil (You can pan fry or deep fry)
  5. Fry until golden in color and drain on a paper towel.

* If you find the buttermilk mixture doesn’t stick, try dipping the chicken pieces in regular flour (shake off excess) before dipping into the wet mix.   This works for anything you want to fry where the coating won’t stick.


Computer Tip

I often use the ‘chat’ feature to contact company representatives to  resolve problems or ask questions online, however, tried using it the other day and it would not work.  Knew something had to be wrong, since I’d used it several times before.  Might mention,  I was using Internet Explorer (IE) –  and since there are often issues with it, switched over to Mozilla Firefox.  Went to the ‘chat’ link and had no problem at all.  Conclusion:  any time I’m having problem with accessing anything via IE I just close it out and go to Firefox.  Would say that it solves the problem 9 times our of 10.

Notice:  Just read that CCleaner has been hacked. While this seems to only have effected the 32-bit version of the Cleaner you may want to discontinue use.  To read more, please visit this link. 


Check back next time when I’ll be posting a chocolate cake recipe that is 50% no sugar added – Yum !!!


PS – Don’t forget that the Fall Round Top Antique Fair in going on now.  For shows, visit this link.


Still More Insurance Info re Hurricane Claims