Friday, February 24, 2012

Gooey Goodness–Underwood Hills Elementary School Corn Flake Cookies Recipe

I was visiting with friends recently about how much we do and don’t remember from our elementary school days.  Some remembered specific teachers and programs, games at recess, star power metal lunch boxes, crushes on boys and the smell of the hallways.  We chatted about memories of inspiring teachers, weird teachers and how big the school building seemed to feel. We all had a laugh over our memories of our favorite meals from the cafeteria. 

Now, I don’t remember the entrees at all, but I will never forget two favorites…home rolls and corn flake cookies.  I hadn’t thought about them in a long time but do remember that they were deliciously chewy and had a peanut butter base.  They served them about twice a month at Underwood Hills Elementary School in Atlanta, GA…that would have been a good day for me! So, in my boredom of not letting myself go on Facebook during Lent, I thought I would look them up!  Here goes…they are worth a try!

Chewy PB Cornflake Balls  cornflakes


(Makes about 3 dozen cookies)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 jar (18 oz ounce) peanut butter, crunchy or smooth (I like creamy.)
  • 6 cups corn flakes

and if you want to fancy them up…drizzle melted chocolate on top…

  • 3 oz good quality chocolate of your choice


  1. Combine sugar and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and stir until the mixture comes to a full boil. Remove from heat and stir in the whole jar of peanut butter. Mix well.
  2. Add corn flakes to a large bowl. Pour peanut butter mixture over corn flakes and mix well, taking care to coat all of the corn flakes.
  3. With a tablespoon or cookie scoop, scoop out and form into 1-2 inch balls, depending on your preference, and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.  I kind of like them free form and not compressed into a ball.
  4. Put the chocolate in a small bowl and melt in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Stir until smooth.
  5. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cookies.
  6. When cooled, eat these cookies with reckless abandon…and reminisce about your days in elementary school!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Anatomy of a Grotto – The Building of an Eagle Scout

We couldn’t be more proud of the hard work and dedication our son Patrick has done to see his Eagle Scout project through completion.  He still has to get his paperwork turned in for final approval before his ceremony, but most of the work is complete.  He has been a Scout for 10 wonderful years. He started as a Cub Scout in the first grade in Den 3, Pack 3…and has been a member of Troop 380 for the last 5 years.  I just wanted to share his project with you…he chose to rebuild a pile of rocks on the campus of Immaculate Conception Church into a prayer grotto for his parish.

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The pile of rocks above are the remains of what was once a grotto, built around 1875 by the Sisters of Mercy and devoted families of St. Anne’s Academy and the growing Catholic community.  The grotto was built on the exterior wall of the chimney of the home that the nuns lived in (formerly inhabited by President Zachary Taylor in the 1840’s, ) and was a special gathering place for many Catholics in Fort Smith, Arkansas to honor the Blessed Mother.  The grotto became a Fort Smith landmark and appears in many local photographs--not only appearing in pictures of the Sisters, but also of photographs of school classes, weddings, and other events. The grotto fell to disrepair and was dismantled, though the year is not know.

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L-St. Anne’s Academy Kindergarten students in front of grotto around 1905. R-Students from St. Anne’s Academy pray the rosary in front of the grotto (1947)


So, this eyesore pile of rocks is what Patrick chose as his project…the restore the grotto


to this site slightly southwest of the original location.  The chimney is a replica of the original from the Zachary Taylor home archeological dig which began in 2004.


After many phone calls to gather information about how one goes about starting their Eagle Scout project, how one actually builds a grotto, raises the funds and clips through the layers and layers of red tape, the Eagle Scout candidate must get motivated to put all the info together to get permission from the BSA…all of it a delightful process!   He must spend many more hours meeting with the stone mason, volunteers, church officials, Scout advisors, etc.  He is now ready to choose a style of grotto to build and put his faith in his mason!  God certainly knew what he was doing here!  Mike Warren was an answer to his prayers.


Patrick and Mike Warren – the nicest and most talented stone mason


The first phone call Patrick made to start his project was in April, 2011.  The first day of actual construction was Dec. 2, 2011…yes, it takes a long, long time.  Patrick recruited volunteers to help sort through the rock pile and choose the right rocks for the rebuilt grotto.

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The next steps: dig out foundation hole, add rebar…

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pour cement, and cover with hay while it cures.

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Stake out your level lines, build a form from cinder blocks and begin choosing the exact rock to set with masonry.  Sounds so easy, huh?  It is if Mike Warren is calling the shots…he let Patrick help with some of these steps…not even Rembrandt  passed his paint brushes over to a novice to help out on a masterpiece!


The first day of building…


Patrick inspects the site

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and lends assistance to Mike Warren.  Every day brings more progress, more changes and more questions to be solved.


The structure is now ready for it’s form to be built by the carpenter, so off we go to ask for donated supplies!

The car is full of lumber and masonry supplies that we have to put the “bendy” plywood over Michael to get it all delivered to the site.

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Scaffolding is brought in to build the top and the gothic pointed support is installed.  Patrick receives more compliments every week from parishioners about the progress.

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The scaffolding is 2 sided and Mike adds a little grafitti to the support!

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It’s true!  He really does!

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Several more changes are made and Patrick and Mike discuss how to make them.


Patrick inspects the grotto at night to see how much the parking lot flood lights illuminate the area.  He will meet with an electrician to discuss this.


La Nina, El Nino, whatever…we were very lucky to have such a mild winter so that this project would not take forever to complete.  Mike would rather work in the cold than in the 110 degree temps!

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Mike works on the gothic point and it had to cure for many days before removing the support.


Wish you could see the grin on Patrick’s face as Mike tells him this is his final day of working on the grotto! 


Patrick measures the statue of the Blessed Mother to make sure she fits!


Now it’s time to clean up the area and get rid of the remaining rocks

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and then move the statue to her new home.

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Patrick and the professionals discuss the options of securing the statue to the stone structure

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Once she is in place, Patrick lets the pros take over!


We are so very blessed to be his parents and are deeply proud of our young man.  He has truly grown from this leadership experience in so many ways.  Bishop Anthony Taylor will bless the grotto the day after Patrick’s confirmation in April.  Thanks to all who helped with this project!