One Word Photo Challenge: Chocolate (Salted Caramel Brownie Bites!)

salted caramel chocolate brownie bites

Since we are on the subject of Salted Caramel and Chocolate….

We were – weren’t we?!??

I came across a new One Word Photo Challenge (by photographer Jennifer Nichole Wells) via my friend, Colleen, at Silver Threading (who shared some glorious chocolate-colored rocks from Glacier National Park) where the theme this week is “Chocolate.”

Well – – I took it quite literally 🙂 and had to share this glorious recipe for these super simple yet amazingly scrumptious little gems I made last year at Christmas time.

And we were talking about Christmas too – right?!??  🙂

I originally found this recipe on InsideBruCrewLife’s blog.

Salted Caramel Brownie Bites

You will need:

Prepare 1 box brownies according to package directions for fudge-like brownies – let cool.
Unwrap 35 Rolo Candies (or a few extra if you are going to pop a few in your mouth – which is extremely hard to resist!)
12 ounces milk chocolate (Nestle Chocolate chips or any kind you prefer)
Coarse Sea Salt
  • Cut the brownies into 35 small squares.
  • Place a Rolo on each square.
  • Wrap the brownie around the Rolo forming a ball.
  • Place on waxed paper covered baking sheet, and refrigerate for about an hour.
  • Melt chocolate (in microwave is easiest).
  • Dip the brownie bites into the melted chocolate.
  • Place on waxed paper and sprinkle with sea salt.

People are going to go GaGa over them, so watch out!


And though it’s not an award-winning photo, I’ll bet your mouth is watering – and you are definitely thinking CHOCOLATE!  🙂

Cheers & Hugs,


Pomegranate Love


Besides the fact that I love the taste of sweet, juicy, ruby red pomegranates that have just started showing up these past few weeks in our grocery stores for their seasonal debut, I had a little fun photographing this beautiful, unique fruit.

My Walk with My Camera didn’t take me far today on this rainy fall day.

So I ask – to eat or not eat the entire seed?

A Very Special Officer & Gentleman

I had the great privilege of attending a ceremony yesterday afternoon in honor and memory of a very special officer and gentleman – my cousin, Frank Miller, Jr.


Frankie (as he is fondly remembered by our family) was only 25 years old when he was shot and killed in the line of duty as a police officer.


I sadly never had the opportunity to know Frankie.

For reasons beyond my control and better saved for another time, this family was not a part of my life for far too many years.

But we are making up for it, and I am so glad I was able to attend the ceremony to dedicate the ramp off of the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge in Pittsburgh, PA  for Officer Frank Miller, Jr. (Frankie) with my Aunt Gwen and Uncle Frank, Cousins Dawn and Jen, and other family and friends.


It was a beautiful ceremony.

Thanks to Senator Jim Brewster for his efforts in getting legislation signed into law to name the exit from the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge to State Route 148 as the “Officer Frank Miller Jr. Memorial Ramp.”


It was so touching to watch Uncle Frank and Aunt Gwen removed the drape from the sign that will forever memorialize Frankie.


Even Farkle, the McKeesport Police K9 Officer, donated and named in memory of Frankie was in attendance with his partner, Officer Nick Matthews.  It was so heartwarming to meet them and experience their love and dedication to our Frankie.

Officer Nick and Farkle

I was so proud of how beautiful Aunt Gwen looked and how eloquently she spoke to the crowd of family, friends, police officers, and community members thanking them for this recognition of their beloved son.  I can’t even imagine how difficult it is, even many years later, to carry on after losing a child – especially at such a young age and in such a tragic way.


Frankie – you were an officer and a gentleman – and I hope you know that I love you dearly even though we never had the chance to get to know each other.  I promise you I will love and honor your mom and dad and sisters as much as you did, for we are family.

Hugs from your,


Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Who can resist Sea Salt Caramels mixed with Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks??!!??

And baked into a warm, crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside homemade cookie!

Sea Salt Caramel Royal Chocolate Chip Cookies Close

I saw these new yummy Brach’s Sea Salt Caramel Royals at the store recently and thought they might make a nice addition to my basic “almost famous” chocolate chip cookies for a little change up.

Sea Salt Caramel Royal Chocolate Chip Cookies Caramels

So I chopped up a bag of these amazing little bites of heaven and substituted them for half of the chocolate chunks in my cookies.  The only tricky thing about these is that the melted caramel makes the cookies a bit tricky to remove from you baking sheets (stones), so I recommend letting them cool almost completely on the sheet before removing.

salted caramel chocolate chunk cookies mix

Two thumbs up from the guys in the McKinney house (and if Mikey had an opposable thumb, he’d give one too).

Sea Salt Caramel Royal Chocolate Chip Cookies Plated with milk

Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Mix together:

1 lb softened butter (YEPPERS – you heard me right – I did say O N E   P O U N D – 4 sticks – 2 cups – – – don’t get too shook up – recipe makes A LOT!)
1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1-1/2 cups white sugar
2-3 tsp vanilla (just pour some in)
4 eggs

Then add:

5 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Mix well, then fold in:

1 12-oz bag Nestle Semi Sweet Chocolate Chunks
1 10-oz bag Brach’s Sea Salt Caramel Royals, chopped

Chill for several hours.

Drop by heaping tablespoons on baking stone, and bake at 375 for 9-11 min.

Sea Salt Caramel Royal Chocolate Chip Cookies Plated


Cheers & Hugs,


Fall Christmas Shenanigans

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It was a girl’s field trip day on Saturday to Northeast Ohio for Christmas in the Woods!

Yep – more Christmas shenanigans!

What fun we had getting our Christmas crafting inspiration and shopping on.

Then, we topped our day off with a card-making / stamping class and dinner at Selah Restaurant in The Vault!

Check out the fun atmosphere that Shakerwoods turns into for Christmastime – 20 years strong now – – –  but my first time.

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It was a cool day with sprinkles off and on, but that made it all the more “Fall” like and got us in the Christmasy spirit.

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It was Colleen’s first trip to any kind of Arts & Crafts Festival like this.  She loved it, and I loved having her along!  We have such similar tastes and interests that make it so much fun to be mother and daughter “in-law!”

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We had a ton of fun with some of my old Middle School friends, Janet and Judi – and pretty much acted like we were back in Middle School.

Well – maybe just I did!

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The trip was organized by my friend, Stacey Ailes, who is a Stampin Up Artist Extraordinaire (check out her website/blog if you haven’t already).  Stacey did an amazing job corralling 11 women for a 14-hour day of adventure.

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Colleen immediately spotted The Burlap Factory and ran so fast over to it, I could hardly get her picture!  LOL!  🙂


The whole experience and scenery was just breathtaking.  From the little Chapel in the Woods…

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to the little Shaker School House….

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where Colleen found the outhouse, but alas someone was already in it.  (She is such a sport for posing and going along with my silly shenanigans!)  ❤

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Janet spotted this beauty for me to capture along our walk.

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The day was filled with beautiful scenery, tasty treats, and all kinds of fun and friendly people…

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Like this cute couple who were willing to stop and pose for a photo in their fun hats…

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or this lovely lady who I asked how she could eat ice cream on such a chilly day.   I came to find it was a Steamy BBQ Chicken and Mashed Potato “Sundae” with a cherry tomato on top, of course!

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One of the highlights of the trip for many of the ladies was a B.E. Taylor concert right smack in the middle of all the action where the beautiful Christmas music could be heard echoing throughout the woods.

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We bought some fun things and got a lot more great ideas.  We’ll see if the ideas come to fruition…

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The wonderful guys at the Great Harvest Bread Company had the cutest bench by their booth that said, “If you Knead to sit or just Loaf, please rest your Buns here.”  Since they were kind enough to let me take a photo, of course I had to buy some bread.  Italian Herb for me, and cinnamon swirl for Marty.  (and oh by the way – DELISH!)


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We passed on the fried pickles and fried snickers, but did enjoy an awesome reuben sandwich and sat with some folks who live right in our own hometown and are regulars on a different night at our hometown John’s Bar – so maybe we’ll see them again soon!


After getting inspired by the amazing crafters and talent, nourished body and soul with food and music, and spending enough money…

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We ventured out of the woods and drove to Selah Restaurant in Struthers, about 20 minutes away.

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What an awesome venue!  Graced with art, photography and design, Selah is located in a turn-of-the-century bank with a rich history that gives it a unique and charming character.

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Stacey had reserved “The Vault” for our special class and dinner.

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It was such a unique experience to sit in the charming setting of the old vault of the bank.

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Selah kept a lot of the original architecture of the bank, including the teller windows, adding such unforgettable charm.

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The Vault was softly lit with a dozen or more candles, which was wonderful for our dining experience, but a tad challenging for our crafting time.

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But it was way too cute and quaint for us to complain about that since we loved the atmosphere – and the company!

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Stacey does such a phenomenal job teaching newbie, beginning stampers (of which we had four) and challenging some of us more experienced with new ideas and techniques.  I sure admire Stacey’s talent, gift of teaching and sharing, and kind and generous heart.

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What made it EVEN MORE FUN was the fact that I got to see an “old” friend from a few years ago when the company I work for had an office in Northeast Ohio.  Charlotte and I have kept in touch through Facebook, and she has become a follower of my blog as well as a fan of Stacey’s talent.  When Stacey came up with this idea, her and Charlotte connected on this venue, and they created all this wonderful magic.

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Charlotte brought her forever BFF, and my new friend :), Carol.  They were adorable together.  They cannot remember a time when they weren’t friends.  You see, their parents were neighbors and they grew up together, went to school together, married high school sweethearts and still live only a couple blocks apart.

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These were their very first cards they made.  They did an awesome job, kept us smiling, and really enjoyed stamping.

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Judi also made her first card Saturday.  Here and Janet buddied up working on their projects.  Judi loved it so much, she wants to join our regular monthly classes at Stacey’s studio, so we are excited to welcome her.

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Here’s Charlotte doing her first embossing, and these three chickadees were our seasoned pros!  Cindy has a great website and blog if you want to check out here amazing talent here.  I always appreciate Stephanie’s kind encouragement and comments.  Nancy is a new friend I made that is married to a long-time friend and work acquaintance of Marty (such a small world!)

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We laughed our way through the evening.  (I was even hoarse by the time I got home!)

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And of course we had to finish off the evening with some pumpkin cheesecake and carrot cakes to tide us over for the hour-long trip home!

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Fun times with great ladies…

at life in between.

Cheers & Hugs,




Weekly Photo Challenge: Refraction

night lake water

This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge is Refraction.

The instructions said:  For this photo challenge, show us what “refraction” means to you. It could be an image taken in a reflective surface, it could be light bent from behind an object, or it could mean remedial math homework.

So can you tell what this is?

Some of you might recognize it from this post.

I thought this photo pretty much embodied refraction of light in reflection and the way it is ‘bent’ in the ripples of water behind our boat from the sunset on the lake.

And even if it doesn’t, I kinda like this photo, and it brings back memories of this lovely evening.  🙂

Cheers & Hugs,


Through the years – Making Christmas Cards

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I made my first Christmas card one evening this week.

Don’t go all hater on me.

I love Christmas.

Our little family has had a long-standing tradition of making homemade Christmas cards.

It is one of the many wonderful things I learned from my friend, Jill, who carried on the tradition from her Mom.

Every year around the middle to end of October, we would come up with a Christmas card idea.  Through the years either I drew it or, most often, one of the boys would draw it for the year.  We would have them printed, in black only, and then spend countless hours together in the evenings coloring them with markers.

When the boys went off to college, the homemade Christmas card tradition ended.  For a couple of years I sent boxed Christmas cards.  Then I just quit sending them all together.  Seems the tradition is dying.

Then last year I began my stamping hobby, and I was excited to be creative and make Christmas cards again.

I don’t send as many as we used to, and now every card is it’s own unique creation.  I don’t like to make a bunch of the same card.  In fact, I’ve barely ever made two of the same.  The joy to me is in making each unique and individual and the process of creative creation.  So if you get a Christmas card from me these days, it was made just for you and it’s the only one like it.

But as a special memory of all the sweet cards we’ve made through the years as a young family, I now have a collage hanging in my office.  I bought an old window sash at Construction Junction and modge podged the cards and the photos that went with them on it.  It is a sweet memory as I work from my home office during the day or craft in the evenings or on weekends there.

Christmas Card collage

Here are a few of my favorites through the years.

I adore this one Nick made when he was six years old of the family in the living room – Dad in his chair, the lights on the mantle of the fireplace (if you were wondering what that is across the top 🙂 ), the coffee table on the bottom, and how he labeled everyone.  I love that we all have big smiles.  It took us countless hours to hand color this one as we sent at least 100 cards out every year.

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Another fave is this one Jake drew when he was six years old of Santa and his reindeer flying through the starry night over the houses below.  I love these plump smiling reindeer and Rudolph’s red nose.  (anyone that knows me knows how much I LOVE Rudolph!)

Christmas santa reindeer

And there is this one Nick made at 9 – we laugh now looking at this interesting Santa face.  But look how Santa is waiting to give you a hug!

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And this more simplistic, primitive angel he drew at 12.  (they were growing tired of coloring by now…)

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Another favorite is this one Jake drew at seven years old.  This one makes me smile seeing the blue marker line “blooper,” and the hearts colored in on the people.

christmas peace

And each year I would put a photo in the card – often times corresponding with the card “theme,” like this one that went with Peace on Earth.

christmas peace on earth

or when I made homemade nutcracker tin soldier outfits for them to pose in…

christmas nutcrakers

And then they became a bit more sophisticated, like this one Jake drew at 16 years old.

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Such sweet memories and reflections.

So you may be seeing some Christmas cards I make this year here.  Each will be made with love and with fond memories of Christmases past and the anticipation of the joy in Christmases to come.

Cheers & Hugs,


People let me tell you ’bout my best friend… wwMc10

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My handsome walking buddy/best friend, Mikey – wwMc – Walk with my Camera

This photo I took yesterday coming home from our walk reminded me of this song and this show.

I used to love watching “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.”

I forgot how profound it was!

“Sumthin’ always keeps sneakin’ in there,” says Eddie.

Boy – can I relate!  🙂

Cheers & Hugs,