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A Gift of Love

As most of you know, if you have been a follower of my blog, I am a self-employed childcare provider. Over the years, as children I have cared for have grown up and gone on to preschool or kindergarten or moved away due to their parents having to relocate, I have received some lovely parting gifts as an expression of their appreciation. Today,I would like to share one of the most touching gifts I have ever been given by a child and his parents.

Little A J came to me when he was a little past one year old. He is now five and ready for kindergarten. A J is a very loving, lively, energetic and imaginative young man! Although I will miss seeing his sweet smile and hearing of his many childhood adventures, I am grateful for the opportunity to get to know him and watch him grow and develop. Oh, did I mention that he is extremely smart too? But then I could be just a little bit prejudiced in that area!!

  • Here is a picture of A J taken recently when he and his family were on vacation at the beach! Isn’t he quite the little man?


A J’s mom, Alisia, wrote this lovely poem, designed the background and put it in this lovely frame. I will always cherish this gift, not just for the beautiful words, but because it was a gift of love that came from the heart.


Thank you for the last 5 years
for always being there
Thru the joy and the tears.

Someone we could trust with our little bundles of joy
Without a worry
Someone who would care for our little girls and boys.

Early in the morning we would arrive
Day after day we would go to work
Knowing that you would love and protect our
precious prides.

Feeding them, cleaning them, teaching them too
Correcting them, loving them and kissing their booboos.
Getting them through those terrible twos.

Helping through the hard times
always supporting through the good
no matter what came up
you always understood.

Today we want to Thank You more than ever before
and let you know we really appreciate
all your hard work, love, support and oh so much more!

You have been there through the thick and the thin
Someone we could trust with our children
a part of our family until the end.

You will always have a special place in our hearts
Our children love you and will never forget
in their lives, you have played an important part.



Hungry Man’s Skillet Dinner

Hungry Man Skillet Dinner DSCN2318After a hard day on the job, my hubby really enjoys this hearty satisfying dinner!

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound bulk pork sausage
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 (26 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce (tomato, garlic & onion)
1 (14 ounce) jar pizza sauce
1 (2.25 ounce) can sliced ripe olives
1 (3.5 ounce) package sliced pepperoni
1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups cooked wide egg noodles

1. In a large skillet, cook ground beef, sausage, onion and bell pepper until the meat is no longer pink and the vegetables are tender; drain.

2. Stir in the spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce. Stir in the olives, pepperoni, cheese and noodles. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Makes 6 servings.



Bacon Mushroom Hash Brown Breakfast

Bacon Mushroom Hash Brown Breakfast

This wonderful all-in-one make-ahead breakfast recipe from Betty Crocker is so good you’ll be surprised at how quickly it disappears!

1 pound bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 (8 ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup milk
12 eggs
1 (2 pound) package frozen hash browns, thawed
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1. In a 12-inch skillet, cook bacon until crisp; transfer to a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate. Drain the drippings, reserving 1 tablespoon in the skillet. Add the onion, bell pepper and mushrooms; cook 4 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in the mustard, salt and pepper. In a large bowl, beat the milk and eggs with a wire whisk.

2. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 of the hash browns in baking dish. Spread the onion mixture evenly over the top. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the cheese. Spread the remaining hash browns over the top. Pour egg mixture over top. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

3. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Remove cover; bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until thermometer inserted in center reads 160 degrees F. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup cheese and the bacon. Bake 3 to 5 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes. Makes 12 servings.


Pork Barbecue Sandwiches

Pork Barbecue DSCN2314When the weather is hot and the AC is going full blast, I don’t like to heat up the kitchen by using my oven. This is the perfect hot weather recipe using my slow cooker! My family enjoys this delicious pork barbecue served on big toasted onion rolls purchased from our local Kroger store. Yummy!

1 (3 to 3-1/2 pound) pork tenderloin roast
2 (18 ounces each) bottles barbecue sauce (your choice)
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1. Place tenderloin roast in a 5-quart slow cooker; cover and cook on High for 4 to 5 hours or until tender.

2. Remove roast to a platter; discard juices in slow cooker. Using 2 forks, shred the tenderloin roast; return to the slow cooker.

3. Stir the barbecue sauce into the shredded pork; add the remaining ingredients and blend well. Cover and cook on Low 1 to 2 hours.

4. Serve on your favorite sandwich buns. Makes 10 to 12 servings.



Fresh Strawberry Dip

Fresh Strawberry DipThis is the perfect dip for warm weather enjoyment! Serve it at your next pool party or other summertime get together!

2 (8 ounce) packages strawberry flavored cream cheese, softened
2 (7 ounce) jars marshmallow cream
1 (8 ounce) container Cool Whip

In a large mixer bowl, cream the cream cheese; add marshmallow cream and blend well. Add the Cool Whip and mix until mixture is well blended and creamy. Serve with fresh strawberries.



Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies DSCN2312Yummy goodness in every bite of these big cookies chock-full of wholesome oats and luscious chocolate chips!

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 (12 ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips

1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.

2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the oats and chocolate chips.

3. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2-inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Makes 4 dozen.



Mexican Rice

Mexican RiceWe love the exciting flavor of Mexican foods and this delightful rice is one of our favorites!

1 cup long-grain white rice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1 fresh jalapeño pepper, chopped
1 medium tomato, seeded, chopped
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced

In a medium heavy saucepan, cook the rice in the oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook covered for 20 minutes or until the rice is fluffy and the liquid is absorbed. Makes 4 servings.



Banana Nut Muffins

Banana Nut MuffinsDelicious banana taste in every bite of these wonderfully easy-to-make muffins! Yum!

3 large ripe bananas, mashed (about 1-1/4 cups)
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1. In a large bowl, combine the bananas and butter; stir in the sugar, egg and vanilla extract.

2. In a small bowl, combine the baking soda, salt and flour; blend well. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture; blend well.

3. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 18 to 22 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 12 muffins.