Archive for the ‘Maggie AAR’ Category

The Story Behind the Carol: Silent Night

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013
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On Christmas Eve of 1818 the young priest of St. Nicholas parish church in Obendorf faced disaster. The organ had been incapacitated by mice. The chance of fixing the instrument before the evening service was nil. Father Joseph Mohr was not a man to just give up however. He pulled out a poem he had written several years before called “Stille Nacht”. Mohr took his poem to the schoolmaster and organist of a nearby town, Franz Xaver Gruber. He asked that Gruber write a melody to accompany the poem on guitar. In several hours, Gruber had the music done and the carol was played for the first time that night at the Christmas Eve service.

The song was not translated into English for another 50 years. Episcopalian bishop John Freeman Young published the English translation that is most frequently sung today in 1859. The writing of the song is unique enough but one other interesting factoid makes this carol special. In 1914, during the Christmas truce, the song was sung in French, English and German simultaneously. It was apparently the one song that all the soldiers on both sides knew.

What are your favorite Christmas Carols? Do you know the story behind them?

- Maggie AAR

Fill Your Heart With Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013


The following poem captures beautifully the meaning of the coming holiday. The sentiment is such that it should be remembered all year long.


I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

Monday, November 11th, 2013
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Katy Perry’s latest, Roar, has been something of an anthem for me the last few weeks. Love the music but especially love the message. We all need to go from zero to our own hero every once in awhile.

- Maggie AAR


Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013


I wear crocs from the moment the last of the snow and ice clears in the spring until the first snow flies again in the fall. These comfy, open air shoes are easy to put on and take off, come in a variety of colors and can be worn with practically anything. That is what I love about them – they are just so darn convenient.

I started with one modest pair of taupe crops. They could be worn with most things and were perfect for “hasty” days when I just didn’t have the time to put an outfit together. That lasted three years. Visiting the crocs store this summer was my downfall. I got a pink pair. Then purple. Black. Now my “need” includes a pair of blue crocs. Since it has started to show signs of winter where I am I will hold off on that purchase till summer. Still, I look in my closet and cringe when I realize I have outfits that simply can’t be worn without those blue crocs :-)

Do you wear crocs or do you have another favorite style of easy wear shoe?

- Maggie AAR

New Tricks

Monday, October 14th, 2013
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British TV has become something of an obsession with me. First it was Downton Abbey quickly followed by Sherlock and Inspector Lewis. Then Call the Midwife, followed by Foyle’s War. Now I am cheerfully glomming my way through New Tricks. This comedy-drama follows the work of UCOS, a fictional part of the Metropolitan Police Service that concentrates on what we in America call “cold cases”. It is made up of retired police detectives who re-examine old cases when new information comes to light.


Favorite Movie of the Summer or Mother Nature is a Serial Killer

Monday, October 7th, 2013
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Now that summer is officially over I am ready to call my favorite movie of the season, which would be (drum roll please) World War Z. Terrific pacing, strong acting and an interesting story line make this a must see of 2013.


Bye-bye Breaking Bad

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
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This past Sunday the last episode of this iconic show aired on AMC. I wasn’t much of a fan but the minute I saw the first episode I knew my husband would like it. I was right. The adventures of Walt and Jessie as they begin a crystal meth business and then slowly but surely built an empire proved thoroughly entertaining to my significant other. For my part I could take it or leave it but I did enjoy the spoofs on You Tube dealing with it.


Winter Warmers: Crock of Savory Vegetable Stew

Thursday, September 26th, 2013


The AAR staff will be doing another series of recipes for this blog, this time concentrating on dishes that help warm up the cold days of winter. Hopefully these recipes will work for you as well as they have worked for us. For my recipe, I’ve chosen a soup that has been a familiar winter meal for over a decade. I love soups and stews anytime of year but winter is when I really look forward to baking biscuits and putting bowls full of piping hot goodness on the table. This particular stew is one I first ate at a friend’s home in Minnesota. My husband and I so enjoyed the dish I asked for the recipe. She told me it came from a Land of Lakes cookbook titled Treasury of Country Recipes. That was eighteen years ago and I still have the book and still make this soup at least once a year (typically quite a bit more than that.)

Crock of Savory Vegetable Stew

1/4 cup Land O LakesĀ® Butter
4 medium (2 cups) carrots, sliced
2 ribs (1 cup) celery, sliced
1 large (1 cup) onion, chopped
4 cups shredded coleslaw mix
1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 (15-ounce) can condensed tomato sauce
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can tomato soup
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (16-ounce) package cooked kielbasa, sliced 1/2 inch

Melt butter in 4-quart saucepan until sizzling; add carrots, celery and onions. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 5-7 minutes or until vegetables are crisply tender.

Add all remaining ingredients except kielbasa. Reduce heat to low. Cover; cook, stirring occasionally, 12-15 minutes or until heated through.

Stir in kielbasa. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, 10-15 minutes or until heated through. Remove bay leaf.

- Maggie AAR

Welcome to Battleschool

Thursday, September 19th, 2013
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Long before The Hunger Games there was Ender’s Game which oddly enough also featured children going to war. But they went to war younger, worked longer, worked harder.


Dinner’s In the Crock: Beer Braised Stew

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

crock pot

I love my crock pot. There, I’ve said it. It might seem strange but next to the microwave this is my favorite kitchen appliance. It means I can run around all day and still do a decent job of feeding the family. Bellow is one of my favorite recipes from Taste of Home’s Crock Pot recipe section. My tip? Don’t skimp on the bacon. I normally use about 6-8 pieces to pump up the flavor.