Boston Cream Pie Trifle simplified Michigan Girl style

One of my husband's favorite deserts is Boston Cream Pie. I've taken that idea and turned it into a easy to make Trifle.

1 Yellow Box Cake Mix (and the ingredients required on the box)
1 Box Instant Vanilla Pudding (and the 3 cups of milk required on box)
1 Container Chocolate Frosting

Prepare cake mix as directed on box.

Prepare instant pudding as directed and refrigerate.

Once the cake as cooled. Cut into chunks or cubes. Layer the cake in the bottom of a Trifle Bowl. Layer pudding on top of cake and frosting on top of pudding. Repeat until you have three complete layers. 

Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Return leftovers to the refrigerator.

The layering of the pudding and frosting takes some practice to make it look nice. Even if you can see some of the pudding peeking out from the frosting or the two mix together a little, it still looks and tastes great.


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Dogs are a girl's best friend

I don't think that I've mentioned my love of dogs yet. For much of my life, I've had a dog. As I get older and watch shows like the Dog Whisperer and Pitbulls and Parolees, I appreciate dogs more and understand what the responsibility is for owning a dog. Being a good pet owner is so much like being a good parent. You are responsible for the pet's health and happiness. It's not only vet visits, providing food, and making sure the dog is legally registered. A good pet owner also provides daily exercise, leadership, much needed love and affection.

I have so much respect for Cesar Millan, from Dog Whisperer and Cesar 911. I whole-heartily believe in in the pack leader mentality that Ceaser teaches. When I adjust my energy and go into pack leader mode with dogs, I find nearly an instant reaction from dogs in most cases. I believe that dogs do react and feed off our energy. Cesar's approach not only works with dogs but it often works for other aspects in life. Being a calm leader with a positive energy works in so many situations.

Tia Torres from Pitbulls and Parolees is a dedicated, outstanding women that deserves so much respect. The work she does for dogs, parolees, and her community is unmatched. Along with her family, staff, and volunteers, she makes a difference everyday by rescuing, housing, nursing, loving, and adopting dogs into great homes. I am moved every time I watch the show.

We are a Boxer family for sure, but we are not total snobs to other breeds or sizes.  I've never liked small dogs as much as large dogs, but our Aunt has a Yorkie, and we love him. He's smart and very cute. I'm also a little obsessed with French Bulldogs and I'm pretty sure we'll add one to our family in the near future.

Currently, my husband and I share a Boxer with my dad. It's the second Boxer we've shared with him. Personally, I've loved sharing a dog for the most part. You can run into some issues, like who is really the dog owner and makes important decisions, but we usually work through it as a family. The advantage is that you do get a break from the responsibilities periodically and you aren't always tied down if you want to travel.

A friend of mine continues to ask when we are going to get a dog of our own and when I'll get that French Bulldog that I can be a bit obsessive about. I always tell her that I won't do it until my husband and I are both ready to commit to the serious responsibility of adding another dog to our family.

The boxers we've shared with my dad. Vinnie on the left, who passed a few years ago
and Mac on the right, who is now 6 years old.

If you live in the Lansing, Michigan area and are looking for a dog trainer. I recommend Hector Hernandez of First Class Dog Training. My father has taken several of his dogs to Hector and has been very happy with the classes and what he and his dogs learn.

Here is a link to Hector's website:

Recently, we watched a great story on 60 Minutes. The story was digging into how smart dogs really are. Although there have been many studies into chimpanzees and dolphins, it's amazing how little people really know about dogs. Dogs are in our homes everyday. The show said that we currently have 80 million dogs in the United States. There are more dogs than children. Dogs have been in our lives for 15,000 years.

The story starts with Chaser, a Border Collie that knows over 1,000 unique words and understands the difference between words that are nouns and words that are verbs. Chaser isn't unique, his owner is because he spends up to five hours a day working with the dog teaching him.

Additionally, Anderson Cooper speaks with scientists who are studying dogs. The studies include MRI's while the dogs are awake showing that when a dog smells it's owner rather than a stranger, the reward center of the dog's brain shows recognition of someone important to them. It's the same area of a human's brain that is activated when we anticipate being with someone we love.

One of the best parts is when they talk about what happens when a dog and it's owners or family make eye contact, play or touch. It releases oxytocin in both the dog and the human. The same hormone that bonds a mother and baby feel when making eye contact, playing or touching.

Here is a link to the YouTube Video of the story about the study of dogs:

I hope that people continue to see the value and privilege it is to be a pet owner and that people continue to take this responsibility seriously. These animals deserve it.

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Michigan Girl is back

I'm back from a wonderful two-week vacation with our family in Charlotte, North Carolina. I expected to post a bit more than I did while on vacation, but I'll get back on track now. Two weeks away from work and major responsibilities was so great. Now it's back to reality, hopefully a bit more refreshed.

I think I've reached about 20 blogs in a little over a month with a little over 600 views. I'm happy with the feedback on Twitter, Facebook, and through emails. Please feel free to post responses, comments, questions right on the site. I look forward to more interaction with my readers and more feedback.

I have many topics that cross my mind each day, unfortunately, I don't get the time to write them all down. Many come to me in the morning when I'm getting ready for work. I'm not sure about everyone else, but I do some of my best thinking in the shower. I never have the ability to get those thoughts or ideas documented though, so I have to rely on my memory most of the time.

My husband and I are pretty excited this week as we are TV junkies and it's fall premiere week. We are looking forward to the return of some of our favorite shows as well as the premieres of many new shows.

I was watching the Emmy's and I love the skit where the host is so overwhelmed with all the TV shows that he starts doing nothing but watching TV, even struggling to keep up with his hygiene in order to catch up on TV. I feel like that sometimes. Someday, we plan to watch Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, and catch up on shows that I've fell off track on and never got back to like Nip Tuck and Awkward. The list is so long but luckily we have options to catch up now through On Demand, Streaming, or Netflix DVD rentals when we are ready.

I think the surge of great TV shows expanding to all the cable channels has added significantly to the amount of shows out there. making it difficult to keep up. With so many successful shows, the networks are so quick to cut a show with sub-par or dropping ratings. So many great shows with potential have gotten the axe too quickly.

I'm not home for daytime TV, but I'm even starting to get hooked on a daytime show. The talk show The Real is one of my favorite shows. I love the ladies of The Real. I have 28 episodes saved on the DVR - ridiculous. I thought I'd have a chance to catch up on a little more of them over the summer while the show was on a break, but I didn't.

Good luck to those trying to keep up and kudos to those that rarely watch tv and spend their time doing much more productive activities!

More to come from the mind of ...

Easy Banana Pudding Cake, North Carolina Girl Style

This cake tastes like a cross between banana bread and banana pudding, it's delicious. My sister-in-law made it for us while visiting her and the rest of our family in North Carolina. She uses a boxed cake mix but you can always make the cake from scratch and add the bananas if you choose.

1.5 cups mashed bananas
1 boxed yellow or banana cake mix (and required ingredients listed on box)
Vanilla wafers
1 box banana pudding (prepped according to box directions)
1 8 oz. tub of cool whip

Make pudding according to box directions and refrigerate.

Mix cake mix as directed and add in mashed bananas.

Layer vanilla wafers on bottom of cake pan. Pour cake batter over pan. Bake as directed.

Let cake cool for 10-15 minutes. Poke holes in cake with a wooden spoon. Pour banana pudding over cake, making sure to get pudding in holes. Spread Cool Whip over the pudding. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

Before serving crush vanilla wafers (kind of chunky) over top of the individual pieces.

Store in refrigerator.

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Meandering Michigan Series: Tecumseh

I'm finally getting back to one of my favorite topics, Michigan travel. One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to travel around Michigan. My mom and I love to travel to towns and visit our lakes, craft shows, art festivals, artist's guilds, stores, and of course restaurants.

Tecumseh, Michigan
Our most recent trip was to Tecumseh, Michigan. On our first trip we planned to go on Saturday during a festival, but because of the weather, we ended up going on Sunday. Because it was Sunday, not everything was open, so we ended up making a second trip a few weekends later on a Saturday.

Art Trail
While walking around Tecumseh you'll see many interesting art sculptures. This is the Tecumseh Art Trail. There are several brochures around town that list all the sculptures so that you can be sure to catch them all.

Tecumseh Train Station
The historic buildings are another great aspect of Tecumseh. One of the best buildings is the train station. I've include some pictures, but I'd suggest you stop by and see it yourself.

Antiques & Vintage on the Boulevard
For a small town, Tecumseh has a lot to offer the antique scene. My mom is more into antiques than I am, but I do enjoy strolling through some antique stores and Tecumseh has several. Antiques & Vintage on the Boulevard is a great shop that we visited both times. The store has lots of rooms filled with many antiques as well as offering locally made candles, soaps, lotions, and other goodies. The first time we went, I purchased homemade soap and a handmade bag from a local artist. The second time I purchased some candles, and a pair of earrings. This store doesn't have a website, but there is a Facebook page.

The Boulevard Market
Another favorite is the Boulevard Market. This is small, outstanding market where they not only have imported cheese but they also make their own at the Four Corners Creamery. Besides offering wonderful cheeses like Basil Aged Asiago and Piave, they also have meats, homemade truffles, beer, wine and their own chocolate bars, Peppalo Stone Ground Chocolate. I'm honestly not a fan of the the Peppalo Chocolate, it's by far the darkest I've ever had and it's a bit gritty.

British Tea Garden & Rooftop Cafe
The British Tea Garden is a great lunch spot. They offer lunch each day from 11a to 3p. The menu includes soups, salads, sandwiches, quiche, cottage pie and desserts. We didn't have lunch there, but we did have an outstanding berry cheesecake.

In the front of the building they have a gift shop with lots of jams, cookies, chocolates, and other snacks. They have a huge selection of tea and have afternoon tea time is from 3p to 5p. While strolling the gift shop you can purchase china tea pots, cups & saucers and children's tea sets, table linens, aprons, tea towels, night lights, and seasonal decor, They also have scarves, homemade cards, locally made jewelry, and other fun little items and gifts.

Other Stops
What a Find Consign is full of a great finds for the home.

There was also a little shop that two ladies owned and ran with handmade art and gifts. They had jewelry, melted down bottles turned into art pieces, and many other interesting pieces. I can't find the store name or website but they are just down from What a Find Consign.

If you are into quilting, there were at least two stores for quilters. There a couple of hobby and toy stores. There is also a jeweler, a little shop with wine and other specialty foods, and The Daily Grind which has many gifts.

Tecumseh has a wide selection of restaurants from fast food, ice cream, fine dinning, and even has it's own Brewery.

We didn't make it to The Dog House, but we will on our next trip. The Dog House has over 30 different dogs or you can make your own. The dogs are 100% Beef. They also have paninis, salads, wraps, beers, and specialty cupcakes.

We did checkout Basil Brothers. I had a gyro pocket sandwich and my mom had a greek salad. The main attraction is their pizza. We didn't taste any, but it looked great. We did have some homemade breadsticks and those hit the spot.

Even though Tecumseh is small town, it can take several trips to see everything. It's a great local Michigan stop!

Here is a little PDF that lists everything you'll want to see:

More to come from the mind of ...

Butterfinger Cake lightened up for a calorie counting girl

This Butterfinger cake is rich and sweet but not overly sweet. To cut out some fat and calories, I use sugar free caramel, lite cool whip, and low fat sweetened condensed milk. I found the original recipe on a food blogger's site, Chief In Training, she has some great, fairly easy recipes.

1 box yellow cake mix with all ingredients listed on the box
1 can (14 oz) low fat sweetened condensed milk
1 jar (16 oz) sugar free caramel ( I don't use all of it)
1 tub (8 oz) lite cool whip
3-4 Butterfinger Candy Bars (crushed into small pieces)

Bake the cake as directed and let it cool for 10-15 minutes.

After letting the cake cool, poke holes in the cake with the end of a small wooden spoon.

While the cake is warm, pour condensed milk over, making sure the milk goes into the holes. Next, drizzle the caramel over the cake, again getting the caramel over the holes. Sprinkle some of the Butterfinger pieces over the cake and get some into the holes.

Spread the cool whip over the cake evenly. Drizzle caramel over the cool whip and sprinkle the rest of the Butterfinger pieces over the cake.

Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve and keep any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Chief In Training's Site:

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