Monthly Archives: December 2021

Strawberry Trifle Recipe (Dessert for Kara)

Strawberry Trifle

This blog post is for my niece Kara. It is her very favorite dessert, except for possibly cassata cake. Come to think of it, the desserts have essentially the same ingredients. She always requests this dessert and even asked for us to make it together when she spent the day here. She can eat more trifle than should be able to fit into a 50 lb. body! Must run in the family. This recipe is an original concocted by me.


1 boxed white cake mix, prepared

1 lb. fresh strawberries, save a large one for garnish

1 1/2 tubs Cool Whip, regular or light, thawed

2 boxes instant vanilla pudding, 1.85 oz. each (4 serving size)

3 cups milk

chocolate for garnish (optional)


  • Make boxed cake mix as per package directions. Bake it in a 9″ x 13″ pan. Allow to cool. Cut the cake into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes.
  • Prepare the pudding. Empty both boxes of the pudding into mixer bowl. Add 3 cups of milk and mix. The pudding will be a little thicker than usual. Chill for a few minutes.
  • Wash and hull the strawberries. Cut them into bite size pieces.
  • The trifle should be assembled in a clear glass trifle bowl for visual effect. I use the plastic bowl from my salad spinner since my trifle bowl cracked. The bowl is clear so works fine. It is used in the pictures here.
  • Spread a thin layer of Cool Whip to cover the bottom of the bowl.
  • Place a layer of cake cubes over the Cool Whip spread in the bowl.
  • Add a layer of the strawberries.
  • Spoon a layer of pudding over the strawberries.
  • Add a layer of Cool Whip.
  • Repeat until all ingredients are used up, making sure your top layer is Cool Whip. I always do the layers in this order. This allows any strawberry juice to soak into the cake and the pudding to run in the strawberry crannies.
  • I take the large, reserved strawberry and make slices, leaving it attached to the hull. Push the attached sliced so they spiral and place in the middle of the top dessert layer for garnish. (See photo above.)
  • Optional: Take a fine grater and grate chocolate directly on to the top of the dessert. You can use a Hershey bar or other chocolate. I used a Malley’s chocolate Santa left over from Christmas on this one. Use good quality chocolate.
  • Refrigerate until serving. I would say this serves about 10-12 people. Unless one of them is a trifle-loving niece, then it serves about 4!

Feel free to make substitutions! You can use any flavor cake. I like strawberry as pictured below. I have also used chocolate or brownies. Use different fruits as well. It will work with raspberries, blueberries, or peaches. I would avoid bananas because they might turn brown. You can also use different flavors of pudding. Mix and match ingredients as per your taste.


The Christmas Gift

Baby Zekie

I received an unexpected Christmas present this week. I was contacted a few days ago by the woman who owned Zekie before I did. And a day later I was contacted by the woman who owned him before that. Now I know what Zekie’s former life was like. And I was sent this picture of him as a puppy. How special is that? We always wondered what he looked like as a pup. He was just as cute as we thought he would be.

Some people say it doesn’t matter what happened to a dog in his earlier life. That dogs live in the moment, and you can deal with their current behavior and move on. I don’t agree with this. If you don’t know what happened to them before, you have no choice but to proceed this way. If you are fortunate enough to know their history, then you know why they do certain behaviors and can better deal with them. Especially in the case of highly intelligent dogs like Zekie. He understands the English language to a frightening degree.

Zekie’s former owner found him, and me, by reading my blog! She recognized pictures of him and put it together from some of the stories, I’m sure. I checked my phone one morning and had a message from her! She was so glad to know what had happened to him and that he was ok. She had been his third home. She had a change in living circumstances and had only a few days to find accommodations for her two dogs. She was able to find a friend to keep her other dog for a bit. I can imagine how challenging it would be to locate someone who would be able to deal with Zeke and his shenanigans even if only for a few days. She did the best she could and found a shelter to take him.

I learned that in Zekie’s first home, he was kept in a crate nearly all the time. I’m sure this accounts for his dislike of the crate and his chewing out of wire and plastic crates here. His second owner took him to get him out of this situation. She was a little older and soon discovered that Zekie was more than she was up to. He got jealous and growled when she gave her other dog attention. She cared about him enough to get him to his third owner, the one who had him before me. This owner was younger, and Zeke did well with her. She took him on lots of hikes and they had lots of fun times.

These last two owners were still in contact and that’s how I heard from the lady who got him out of the crated situation. Zekie has traveled quite a journey in his life that brought him to us. We have had him for four years now which is half his life. He is home to stay.

I am thankful to now know his back story. I am also thankful that he encountered people who cared about him enough to get him to where he is today. After talking to his last owner, I have no doubt that he was deeply loved. Maybe one day he will get to see her again for a visit.

And that is the gift I was blessed with this Christmas. To each of you, my readers, I wish blessings of your own this Christmas that extend throughout the coming year. Merry Christmas.

Zekie as he looks today.

Not a Boy Scout

Today’s hike route.

What an afternoon! We did our hike with the dogs as mapped above. Three miles. It seemed farther with the rugged terrain. Rocks, tree roots, mud, standing water, and slippery, wet leaves. Still, a fun outing. Until we got back to the car and I couldn’t find my keys. My husband had his so we went home to look for mine. No luck.

I was almost certain that I felt them in my coat pocket when I locked the back door. But that could have been yesterday I was remembering. I couldn’t be certain. Did I mention that I have had a small hole in that pocket for the past two months? It has never been a problem. A good Boy Scout probably knows that a small hole can become a larger hole. I was not a good Boy Scout. I wasn’t even a Girl Scout.

So, we put the dogs away in the house, and hubby and I went back to re-hike the trail and search for the missing keys. We found them in the middle of the trail about a mile into the woods. Once we found the keys, we took a shortcut and shaved about half a mile off the second hike, making for a total of 5 1/2 miles for the afternoon. Taking a shortcut brought us out to a muddy ditch to cross before getting back on the main trail. Of course it was steep and I fell down crossing the muddy ditch. At least mud is soft.

All’s well that ends well. We were very glad to have the keys back because electronic car keys are expensive. This is an opportunity to learn from my mistake. No hole is too small!

December Birthdays

Morty hanging out under the Christmas tree.

People with December birthdays feel like they belong to a different club. Some may get shortchanged because everybody is focused on Christmas. I even had one Aunt tell me that she couldn’t get me much for my birthday because it was almost Christmas and she had to buy me something for that too. I was nine. I understand the financial pinch, I really do. What would I have preferred? To be given whatever gift was affordable with happiness and sincere wishes for a happy birthday.

So, you can imagine that I wasn’t a big fan of having a December birthday as a child. Also, my mom always made me take candy canes to school to pass out to the class for my birthday treat. She said it was festive. I have nothing against candy canes. I just wanted to take cupcakes like all the other kids. On the bright side, I was always allowed to put up the Christmas tree on my birthday which made me exceedingly happy!

My little brother was born the day after my sixteenth birthday. My birthday is December 9th and his is the 10th. Thereafter, we always shared a birthday cake. For my eighteenth birthday we had a Cookie Monster cake. I was not delighted.

But then you grow up and things change. You can make your birthday into whatever you want it to be. These days I enjoy the fact that my brother and I have such close birthdays. In fact, now I refer to it as our birthday and I think it’s awesome. Having a celebration for two people seems almost like a holiday! And it ensures that I see my brother which is always a wonderful thing. It will be especially appreciated this year. Last year we met outdoors at a park and maintained social distance because of Covid. It was better than nothing. This year we are gathering at my brother’s place, and you better believe there will be hugging!

I also think it is pretty cool that so many people put up lights and decorations for our birthdays! You can see them all over town as you drive around. Just kidding. But it is a blessing to be able to see so many pretty displays as you are celebrating your birthday. Over the years I have grown to think that maybe the children of December have the best birthdays of all.

Jasper Is Growing!


Jasper has been with us nearly three months now. And how he has grown! When he arrived, he weighed just three pounds and now he weighs 9 lbs. No wonder kitten chow is 40% protein. It takes a lot of nutrients to grow that fast. Apparently, how much they eat is related more to how much they grow rather than just what size they are. The first two weeks Jasper ate an entire bag of kitten chow each week. Now the same size bag lasts for two weeks. Thank goodness. That was a lot of kitten food. Although I noticed long ago that I spend more money on cat litter than on cat food.

Orange Kitty and Jasper

Jasper is still sweet and affectionate. He loves to snuggle. He especially likes to sleep on us when we are wearing bathrobes. Apparently, all that fuzziness is nap inducing. He is sleeping in my husband’s lap right now. We hope he maintains his nice disposition as he grows older. Jasper is scheduled for neutering next week. This is one way to keep a cat from growing into a more distant and aggressive tom cat. It also prevents unwanted kittens, as well as spraying and marking in the house. Spaying and neutering is the way to go for many reasons. Most cats (and dogs) that are spayed and neutered enjoy better health. They don’t develop infections or cancers of the reproductive organs. If your cat is an outdoor cat, he will also fight less with other cats which prevents battle wounds. Our cats all live indoors because we live on a road that has lots of traffic.

Jasper continues to amuse us with his antics. He plays all day (when he’s not sleeping) and can have more fun with a stray piece of stuffing from the dog bed or a wadded up piece of paper than you can imagine. We are very glad we kept him!