table talk

Maybe it’s because I have been blogging Christmas deals since mid-November, or maybe it’s because stores have been playing Christmas music and selling their holiday wares since October, but I feel like Christmas is coming up fast, and I’m so not ready! Our house is 70% decorated indoors, and only 25% outdoors. Shopping is 50% done. Baking, something I truly enjoy, was 0% until today when I made these absolutely delicious Brown Sugar Shortbread cookies.

Several times this year I have had the privilege to share some recipes, tips and fun facts as a Table Talk contributor for Indiana’s Family of Farmers. I enjoy cooking and baking not just for my own family, but to share with others. Whether it’s a for a friend with a new baby, someone who is ill, or just because (which is my favorite), it brings me great joy to share meals and treats with others.

Indiana’s Family of Farmers sent me an array of wonderful baking tools, and a couple of them came in handy for baking these cookies today:
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This week has been an “Aaah” kind of week. My two older kids are finishing their 2nd full week of school, and my youngest has started preschool. Need I say more?

This is my New Normal.

Four days a week, I now have about 3.5 hours completely to… myself? Hmm, let me think on that one:

What My Husband Thinks I Do

  • Blog. Play on Facebook. NOT clean the house.

What My Kids Want Me To Do

  • Go through toy catalogs searching for the price of whatever they’ve been asking for.
  • Research hamsters and bunnies, their ideas of the next family pets.
  • Coordinate playdates for every day that ends in “y”.

What I Do When The Kids Leave

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Fire up the barbie, it’s almost Memorial Day weekend! Here around Indy this weekend there’s a little thing going on where cars are being absolutely noisy going ’round and ’round in circles. It’s an exciting time kicking off summer, whether you follow the race or not. Families gather for grillin’ out, cornhole in the backyard, kids running around scraping their knees, cold lemonade, colder beer … it couldn’t be more perfect!

Indiana’s Family of Farmers provided me with a marvelous basket of goodies to help me kick off my Memorial Day weekend. The best part is the amazing recipes I was given from Indiana farmers, called the Food for Thought Recipe Trail.

But before I get to the ‘good stuff’, here are a few tips for food safety to keep in mind as the temperatures start to climb when you’re enjoying your meals outdoors:

  • Keep your food cold with an iced party tub, cooler, or I like to use an oversized galvanized tub. If your container would leak water from melted ice, be sure to keep it on the ground or with a folded towel underneath so you don’t have drips destroying paper napkins!  My mom turned me on to these ice sheet mats that you freeze and can keep containers on top of, or fold and keep in a cooler. Whatever your method, make sure you keep your cold food stored at 40 degrees or colder.
  • Use a picnic food umbrella to keep bugs away, and you can even spritz a solution of peroxide and water to ward off insects (fill a spray bottle 1/4 to 1/3 with peroxide, fill the rest with water).
  • Make sure to use a meat thermometer so no one gets a tummy ache from undercooked food! The internal cooked temperature should be at least 145 degrees for pork and beef, and 165 for poultry.

Here’s a recipe for  Dirt Cake, provided by Starkey Farm Parnership in Brownsburg, IN.

Dirt PuddingPhoto credit and alternate recipe: Designs by Vanessa

Prepare ahead of time:

  • 1 chocolate cake (from a box mix), baked and crumbled


  • 1 pkg of Oreo cookies, crushed
  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • 1 large box chocolate pudding
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese
  • 1 8oz container Cool Whip

To make it purty, you’ll need:

  • 8 1/2″ plastic flower pot
  • Garden trowel
  • Plastic flowers
  • Gummy worms

Spread one package of crushed cookies in the bottom of the flower pot, for the “dirt”. Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar and Cool Whip. Mix and spread over layer of “dirt”. “Plant” the flowers as you add the layers. Mix chocolate pudding with slightly less milk than in the package directions, making the pudding thicker. Spread over Cool Whip mixture. Sprinkle crumbled cake over pudding. Add gummy worms here and a few on top. Spread remaining crushed cookies on top of crumbled cake. Serve the dessert with a garden trowel!

Are you a Hoosier? You might like some recent Indiana deals & discounts. Also take a look at other recipes I’ve shared.

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