Mostly to write this very personal and meaningful letter for the whole world to see.  Thanks Al Gore for taking time out of your busy schedule to invent the internet so I have this medium to push all my deepest thoughts and feelings onto the general public.

Dear Inventor of the Spray Tan,
    Thanks for taking the time to invent such a wonderful product.  I so appreciate how it releases me from any responsibilty to tan myself and run the risk of more freckles or weirdly shaped mole type spots.  I love how in only 20 minutes of nakedness in front of a near stranger, I can walk around Walmart in shorts feeling confident that the cellulite on the back of my legs looks less disgusting because it is covered up with your strange skin discoloring formula.  And I also enjoy the novelty of turning my armpits green if I did not properly remove the deoderant before application.  It's like a fun little game of "how hard can you scrub those pits in the shower?".  Moreover, I would like to thank you for making my middle look less jiggly.  It is not actually less jiggly and is, in fact, more jiggly than it has ever been before in my life.  But thanks to you it looks brown and almost decent-ish.  So here's to you Mr. (or Mrs.) Spray Tan Inventor Person for being awsome and making my legs look like they contain melanin.  You're the greatest.

                                                                                                           Forever Yours,
                                                                                                           C. Foster
 
   Then bless your heart.  Seriously, I am like the most computer and technologically idiotic person alive.  For reals people.  Your grandmother knows how to do more on the computer than I do.  I can facebook stalk, check my email, type a basic paragraph with nothin' fancy on Word, play solitaire, and online shop.  That's all I've got in my bag of tricks.  Your 4th grader knows 900 times more stuff than I do about computers.  Sad, I know.  Somehow I fell into a crack in time known as...................."a microbiology degree doesn't exactly require much computer knowledge and considering I was married and knocked up by the time I graduated and went straight to be a domestic goddess and since I am too lazy to teach myself anything.......I am a techno lamebrain."  The end.  
    
    Anyways, I tell you all that just to warn you, because I am so behind, because I just figured out how to hold down the "control" key to select more than one thing at a time, what I am about to tell you may be old news.  I am about to tell you all something that I think is great and new and wonderful, and to you it will be like me being excited over tiVo, or the internet on your phone, or precooked bacon.  You've already been there - done that.  But I don't care.  If I know my audience at all then I am sure there are at least 3 of you that need to know what I am about to impart on you.  So you 3 - listen up.

    Picnik.  That's it.  Well, picnik.com actually.  It is a web site for photo editing that makes it so, so simple for doe-does like me.  I have an SLR camera (the digital kind that clicks really fast) and it can do so many different things with so many different settings and lenses, and I don't know how to work any of it.  In fact, it is a very rare occurance that I ever change that sucker off of auto.  I owned the thing over a year before I ever put the bigger better zooming lense on it. (see I don't even know what that lense is called, sad)  But with picnik I can download my photos and edit them up right nice.  I know there are tons of photo editing sites and software out there in the world, but I've got to be honest.  I have owned photoshop for several years now, and I've opened it up once.  It looked like something I was going to have to spend time learning and actually work at, so I said "forget it".  It was way too intimidating for me. (see, now this is where most of you are thinking "what a lazy dumbo.  photoshop isn't hard."  well I'm sure ironing your clothes and washing your hair on a regular basis isn't hard for you people either.  we live in different worlds my friends.)  I actually discovered the site because I accidentally happened upon someone else's blog (I can't even remember what it was called), but now I'm a believer.  It's simple, fast, and there are a lot of features on there to use for free.  They also have a $25 per year membership that offers more options which I have and still don't know how to use most of, but it's not necessary if you aren't doing any hardcore editing.  

    So just to show you the difference a little editing can make even when done by a person with no eye for anything artistic or lovely, here are a few before and after pics.

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This is when Super-G got the frog out of the pool for me. I ran inside to get my camera and of course because it came from a nice cool house to the surface of the sun outside, all the lenses fogged up. We didn't want to sit around and wait for the lenses to unfog, so I just clicked the photo and went on with my life.
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This is what picnik did for me. Literally, I took the above picture and edited it to look like I took a good one to start with. Cool, huh?
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This is my friend's little girl and I am now her aunt because that's what she decided to call me. Aunt Cassie. So because I am her "aunt" and because I love her, I took her pictuer watching fireworks on the Fourth of July. Since I have no idea how to really work my camera, this one gave me fits. If I left it on the Auto or Nighttime settings, the flash was so bright that I literally couldn't tell it was night outside. But if I turned the flash off, it was too dark to see her face at all. So I just improvised and left it on Auto and then held my hand in front of the flash so some of it would be blocked. Pretty smart for a doe-doe if I do say so myself. (even though I'm sure there was a much better solution for people who know what they are doing) Well this is what I got
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This one is not as drastic of a change as the one above, but it did help me to see the top of her face quite a bit more as if there was more light shining on her really.
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This is the original picture I took of Judd's soybeans. That's all I did is squat down, point the camera at the grain bins, and click.
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But here if you can tell (it's easier when the picture is bigger but I obviously don't know how to do that) I cropped the picture, sharpened the grain bins, intensified the color and sharpness, and then gave the picture a treatment that makes it focused in the center and get fuzzier as it goes out. I am really happy about this one and am probably going to print it out and hang it somewhere.
    Just so you know, this is not an add.  I would love to do an add for something because it would mean that I am getting paid, but no friends, this is not one.  I just thought there might be a few of you that don't know about Picnik.  Maybe some of you have a cute beach picture or some other something that could look really cute edited and hanging on your wall.  So there you have it.  And for all the rest of you that already knew about it, or have some other editing stuff, or are not afraid of photoshop, I warned you.  You were welcomed to have turned back at paragraph 2.  I'm just saying.

Love you like precooked bacon,
Cassie

P.S. - I know I am an awful speller, but the website is really spelled picnik - even if your sandwiches on a blanket under a tree is not.

P.P.S. - Before anyone tries to bolster my self-esteem, I am ok with being a techno lamebrain.  I have Aaron to do all that kind of stuff for me anyway.  I am good at other stuff.  Like putting icing on cupcakes really thick or tuning out my kids who are fistfighting on the cereal aisle at Walmart. 
 
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Dear Ants,
    I wish you would leave forever and die.  Thanksomuch.

                                                             Loathingly,
                                                             C.  Foster
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    Today I took a trip to the Hobby Lobby.  The mecca of all things, crafty, decorative and wonderful.  And it.is.now.covered with all my favorite things.  Fall decorations, pumpkins, christmas everywhere!!  So I am totally annoyed about this because it makes me pine deep within my holiday loving soul.  I pine for my favorite time of year with all the decorating and eating and football, even though it is currently 157 degrees outside and my eyeballs are sweating.  I pine for scarecrows and costumes and 10,736 trips to the attic knowing all the while I don't so much as want to step foot outside during anything quasi resembling a daylight hour right now.  So because I am sitting here wishing that I just bought mums and am going to the pumpkin patch tomorrow, I am giving you peeps a peek at a fun project I did for my yard last fall.  I let husband help me a little with the jig saw so he could feel needed and important, but this big guy was basically all mine.
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Obviously it is an adorable, giant, wooden pumpkin......even if my father-in-law did make fun of me for having a giant orange rear end in my yard. I'm just saying.
    Also today I visited Sam's Club.  It is another one of my favorite places on this earth beacause buying things in bulk makes my heart beat fast, my palms sweat, and my face flush a little.  Few things bring me more happiness than buying toilet paper 90 rolls at a time or shredded cheddar in five pound bags.  It's a problem I have.  But more than the bulk grocery items, I cannot control myself when I walk through all the middle isles.  You know the ones.  Where the seasonal stuff and book stuff and clothes stuff and house stuff all live.  I get all giddy inside with every new isle because I don't know what's going to tempt me next.  Take today for instance.  I do not garden.  I have 5 potted flowers outside currently and 3 of those appear to be on life support with their brown wrinkledy leaves. (pretty sure I just made the word wrinkledy up)  I do not like to do much of anything outside except swim when it feels like the surface of the sun or maybe the lower half of the hadean realm out.  But for some unknown, insane reason - I left Sam's today with a rotating composter barrel.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  A composter.  What it wrong with me? Why do I walk in this store and shop like a complete moron?  Is it because you can buy a half gallon of carbonated beverage for 86 cents when you first walk in the door so you feel like the whole place is a bargain waiting to be guzzled?  I don't know.  I believe it has something to do with a gaseous substance they pump into the ventilation system or the inside of that metal building is like entering a whole other dimension possibly.  Kinda like the movie Tron.  Have you seen it?  Yeah, don't.  Anyways, all I'm saying is, if you need any fertile compost to add to your garden, don't come to me.  Odds are high that my composter will be right next to the kids' airplane seesaw they got for Christmas last year.  Still in the garage in the box.  It's a problem we have.

    Before I finish up on here for the evening, I just need to take a quick second to brag on my stellar mothering skills.  For the third night in a row, I let my boys stay up until all hours of the night to watch a movie on the Disney Channel.  Tonight's flick, Ratatouille.  The room was dark and my little angles were sprawled out on the couch, sleep heavy in their eyes.  I knew it wouldn't be long before they were both out and I would just move them to their beds, so I went about my business for a good long time before coming back to check on them.  This is how I found them.  How or why they are like this I do not know.  Please note that they are both sound asleep in those positions, and don't miss the fact that Turnanator is sleeping sitting straight up, leaning on the coffee table/chest.  Yeah, I know.  I'm a really good mom.  You don't have to tell me...........................
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Adorable. Even when sleeping like a bunch of weirdos.
Love ya' like not having to sleep sitting straight up for an hour with my head on a coffee table,
Cassie
 
    Laundraically speaking, I was a beast today.  A beast I tell you.  I washed, folded, hung up, unpacked and put away a volume of clothing that can only serve to reflect four things:

1) I am totally and completely awful at keeping our clothes clean in any type of wearable manner.  Whenever I see poor husband wearing the shiny black and silver, covered-in-red-hearts boxers that he won as a gag gift at a church valentine party, I know we are in a world a' hurt.  

2)  We have too many clothes.  As in, clothe a small army, Chinese village, starving kids in Ethopia, too many.  And yet I just got off of eBay looking for smocked fall outfits for one tiny ball of adorable destruction.  I have something wrong with me - mentally speaking I'm afraid.  (p.s. - by "we" I mean my children.  I have 4 items of clothing I can fit on my large jiggly body currently and two of those are long stretchy dresses) 

3)  There is something fundamentally wrong with our society  

4)  One day I am going to take my family to Disney with the money I will make selling off my kids clothes (when the day finally comes that I can decide to be for-sure finished bearing children - another post for another day).  Either that or I will repair the ceiling whenever the attic finally caves in.  Whichever comes first. 
 
    My mother fusses at me.  My mother-in-law jokes about it.  My friend Angela makes fun of me.  I don't know exactly why we have so many, because I really don't feel like I spend that much on clothes, but they are here.  For one thing, we have been so, so, so fortunate with hand-me-downs.  We have had a lot of friends be wonderful and let us have or buy cheap a lot of their kids' stuff.  And then I went through a phase of going nuts with end-of-season clearance for the next year.  It's great except for that one year that Super G shot straight up and totally skipped a whole size of blue jeans.  Had five extra cute pairs of bootcut, darkwash ankle pants though.  But when you get down to it and I really investigate what we have, there are some fabulous little Gymboree sweater vests sprinkled among a whole bunch of hand-me-down Arkansas t-shirts, free VBS t-shirts, old t-ball and soccer jerseys, and t-shirts with the sleeves cut off.  How did we get so many t-shirts for pete's sake?

    Anyways, I'm not really trying to discuss the quantity of second and third hand childrens' apparel that stuffs my closets tonight.  I'm really trying to brag on myself for being a beast. 

Laundraically speaking of course......................

Love you like being able to see the floor of my bedroom,
The laundranator

 
    You know that feeling you get when you think about home?  I'm not talking about your house now necessarily, I love that one and all, but I'm talking about the house you grew up in.  With your mama.  That one.  Where you had all your best Santa Claus Christmases, and spankings, and you and you siblings made tents.  That's where I've been all this week.  My mama's house.  So sorry I haven't blogged any.  I really wanted to, and should have, but there were lots of reasons why I couldn't.  The fact that I hung out with my Grandparents and Aunt a lot.  The fact that my parents live way out in the country and their internet is questionable at best if the wind is not blowing and the skies are clear.  The fact that I watched the new True Grit with my brothers and sister-in-law.  And the fact that I had not seen my adorable, squeezie, smell-good, cutie nieces in like 7 months and I had a lot of kissin' to do.  So the kids and I have been there for the past 6 days and had a great time.  It took two whole days before anyone got on my nerves or I got on anyone else's.  And I'm a firm believer that if your family doesn't get on each other's nerves, then you aren't much of a family to start with.  
    Since it had been a while since I had been home, and since it was my first time home since I started blogging, and because it is right dead in the middle of farming season, I felt moved, compelled even, to give you a peek into life at the farm.  My home.  The place I grew up that makes me feel all good and warm and gooey inside. 
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So I went out with my camera and took some pics of the stuff that you can only really appreciate if you are from the Delta or somewhere that shares it's way of life.  The stuff that you can't really understand unless you know what it's like to work from sun-up until dark in 100 degree weather, worrying about too much rain or not enough rain or weeds or bugs or broken equipment or the rising cost of diesel.  Stewards of land that has been in families for generations with the hope that it will remain for gerations to come so long as the market, the weather, and the grace of God continue in their favor.  The place my daddy, and now my brothers like him, farm because they love it, or they have to, or it's all they've ever known.  And I wanted you to see it. 

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This is the only bumper sticker on the back of my 85 year-old grandparents' white lincoln towncar.  There is a lot of pride in a place like the Delta.  It is an area and a community solely built around farming, so the feeling of accomplishment among everyone at the end of a season is deep.  If you live there and are not a farm family then you are usually the farmer's banker, doctor, tractor repairman, chemical salesman, ag pilot, or accountant.  It takes a lot of work from a lot of people.

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Not only is there a lot of pride, but history runs deep because in today's day and time, no one just "starts" farming.  Land just doesn't become available like that.  People farm the land that their daddy, or granddaddy, or great-grandaddy farmed first.  You don't have to look far to find families who tell stories of their parents getting off the boat from Italy and moving there with a dream.  My own grandfather moved there from Arkansas when he was a very young man.

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Some things are just a given, ya' know.  But don't be confused.  There's plenty of red stuff around here too.

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Here are some of my family's soybeans.  They farm rice and beans, probably triple the amount of acreage they farmed when I was born, and it takes a lot of good help and equiment to get it done.  There are guys on our farm that have been there since long before I was a twinkle in my daddy's eye, but none of them really wanted to be on the internet I suspect.    So instead I put some soybeans on here.  See the grainbins in the background?  I just love this picture for some reason. 

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This is Judd, the older of my two brothers on the left, and Steven his "secretary" on the right standing in a waist high rice field.  They are really fun to be around and have somehow aquired the names Trigger and Nuttsy from everybody else.  First person to name which movie that's from is the winner of nothing but my love for ya' baby! 

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This is Milkshake the shop dog.  He is ferocious.  Ok, maybe not ferocious exactly, but he will lick you.

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Meet Uncle Bruce and cousin Jake.  They are working together now, and look absolutely nothing alike.  You can't even tell they are related.  Ok, maybe I'm kidding about that too.

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L to R - Judd, Daddy, and Austin
You know that feeling you get when you think about your daddy and brothers?  The one of love and occasional annoyance and deep appreciation and fond memories?  At least I hope you get that feeling when you look at your daddy and brothers because I sure do.  This is a wonderful tailgate load of men in this photo, men I am lucky to call my family.  They are funny and grouchy and kind and good.  And they are excellent farmers.  Thanks for letting me have an emotional moment today and brag on the people and places that I love. 

Love ya' like hot tamales from Rosedale,
Cassie

p.s. - ladies, Austin is single and I am always looking for him a lovely churched lady.  So if you have any prospects in mind please contact me at your earliest convience so that I may put her through the initial, big-sister evaluation.  He will be so happy.  Ok, maybe not.  He will probably want to beat me up for putting that on here, but hey, can't blame a big sister for trying can you?

p.p.s. - also, Aaron has been fussing at me for not having a picture of my Mama on here because she is as integral a part of the farm as anyone, but I'm feeling sort of "homey" right now.  So there will probably be a whole post dedicated to her soon.  She totally rocks.

 
I had a situation.  An awful disgusting horrible situation.  Luckily someone came and saved me.  Luckily.
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The Situation
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My Savior
Thankful for my brave, frog scooping, 6 year-old kid,
Cassie
 
    Let me please just preface this story with a warning and apology.  Apology - I am a very critical person who is scared of everything.  I think all strangers are bad and scary until they prove otherwise, especially if they are acting weird in the middle of the night.  Warning - I may or may not allude to prostitution in this story.  If you or someone you love are a prostitue who would like the image of your profession to be held in high esteem, you should not read this story.

    I had a yard sale last Saturday.  

    Well technically two of my friends (follow me now on these names so you don't get confused) Johnny and Anna Reid had a giant, massive, door-buster, loads of crap-o-la yard sale at Anna Reid's house last Saturday.  She lives right on the main road through town.  I'm talking the one road in town that you have to take to get anywhere.  So we drew a lot of attention.  We started putting stuff out Friday night (amazingly it was all still there Saturday morning), and you would be shocked at the number of people that stopped by Friday night well after dark asking to look around.  One lady bought almost $30 worth at 10 p.m.  Crazy.  Just think what all she would have gotten if she could see!  Anyways (sorry this story is dragging already.  It's going to be a long one that I'm afraid is not going to be entertaining to you.  It's possibly a "you had to be there" type story) But I procede.
    
    At 11 p.m. Anna Reid and Katrina (my friend I roped into helping me) and I were sitting on the porch planning for the next day when out of nowhere a lady in all black (black pants, black halter top with the straps tucked in the front to convert it to a tube top - nice, and black socks shoved into hot pink flip-flops) walked up asking to shop.  We said the obvious, "Uhhhhh, well I guess so" and she proceded to tell us that she is from Cincinatti but just moved here and she lives around the corner but she has to walk because her friends are lost out in the country and they had dropped her off at the emergency room because she wanted them to take her off some of her medicine.  Percicet, Xanex, and muscle relaxers all at the same time were just too much for her.  Yowzer.  So then she tells us that she only has a $100 bill so she is going to come back first thing in the morning to buy garbage sacks full of clothes for her kids.  (I told you we had loads of stuff)  Great.

    The next thing I know, she is asking, "If I pay one of ya'll $10 will you give me a ride home?".  Immediately my mind is frantically and violently trying to come up with reasons why we can't because I'm a skeptic of anyone walking around lost in the middle of the night in sock and flip-flops.  But my dear friend Anna Reid, who is lovely and Godly and pregnant and kind to people from all walks of life, and who never thinks about the worst possible outcome first unlike me (and my one-too-many episodes of Criminal Minds) says, "sure, I'll take you".  Well there is no way Katrina and I are letting her go alone to get killed, so we all pile up in my gigantic diesel truck.  That whole "just around the corner" thing.  Yeah, not so much.  Try way out in the country on a one lane, broken up pavement, surrounded by woods, county road.  I am having some major digestive disturbances of nervousness at this point.  We are supposedly taking this lady to her grandfather's, but when we arive we are not allowed to pull into the driveway of the very suspect and dark looking um.... house for lack of a kinder term.  I'm steadily in my mind coming up with ways that I am going to drive the getaway truck while also subduing the weapon from the lady when she pulls it and tries to make us get out because I outweigh everyone in the car by at least 40 pounds and have to be the one to do it.  But there was none of that.  I mean, she obviously didn't want us to pull in the driveway, and I appreciate her trying to keep us out of any trouble or whatnot, but when she got out, we just turned around and left - as fast as we could!!  Technically we dead ended in a neighbors driveway and had to turn around my giant, loud truck 2 feet at a time but whatevs.  That's all that matters is that we were out of there.  It's funny, though, how after the fact I felt very Chuck Norris for having a weapon defense plan in the works.

   Needless to say our poor friend showed up at the yard sale midmorning of the next day and had a much different story of an angry boyfriend that took all her money after she hit him in the head with a skillet.    All I can tell you is this, do not be sitting outside with your yardsale junk at 11 p.m. You never know who will walk up needing a ride to their pimp's.......I mean grandfather's house when you are pretty certain you do not want to take her.
 
    I love Paula Deen.  I can't help it.  She's a little rough around the edges - supposedly she was the first person that Food Network ever had to "bleep" out, but everything she makes is divine.  It's fattening and awful for you, but divine.  So any time I'm looking for a recipe, if PD has a version of it, I'm going with her's.  I tell everyone, I cook just like Paula.  Start with a stick of butter, a block of cream cheese, and a cup of sour cream.  If it's dinner, add cream of chicken and cheddar.  If it's dessert, add powdered sugar. That may or may not contribute to my lack of pants that fit - I'm just saying.  But one time, one of Aaron's Japanese co-workers was moving home to Japan and was selling off all of his stuff from his house here.  We offered to buy his tv, but he told us he would just give it to us if I would make him some mashed potatoes.  So sometimes being a fatty works out.
    Today I was trying to decide what to blog about since I've been such a blog slacker here lately (is that a southern thing?  are we the only people who say "here lately"?), and I decided that I haven't added a recipe or project in a long time.  So because I love you so much, I thought I would sacrifice and make some Mini Reeces Cheesecakes.  You're welcome.  Keep two things in mind please - 1. I am not a photogapher so my shots are not pretty or moving or artsy.  They are just of my cupcake pan. Plus there are several steps not pictured because I was too lazy to wash my hands that many times.  2. I had nothing to do with this recipe except following it and passing it on.  I did not invent it, tweak it, or think it up.  It's all Paula (even though she probably got it from somebody else).
    
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Mix 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs with 4 tablespoons of sugar and 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of melted butter until moistened.  Do not eat this with a spoon.

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Spoon the crumb mixture into 12 cupcake liners in a muffin pan.  Press them down flat using a spoon, your fingers, or this cool tart making tool that you bought 9 years ago and forgot you had and accidentally just found. 

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Place an unwrapped (duh) mini Reeses peanut butter cup into each liner.  Then watch your boys devour 59 left over peanut butter cups in less than 42 seconds.

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Beat 2 packages of room temperature cream cheese until fluffy.  Then add 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or almond extract (whichever floats your boat I guess - I'm just telling you how Paula told me).  Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Spoon mixture over crust and mini candy.

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Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until just set, about 20 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before serving.  Try not to eat them all before your husband returns home from work.  But if you do eat most of them, then go ahead and eat them all so he won't ever know they existed and then judge you for eating so many.  It's better if he never knows.

    I have to say, these are really good but I rarely make them for just our family.  (rarely - like never)  I don't know why that is.  But I do pull this recipe out when I want to impress people, say like the teacher appreciation luncheon or something.  So never is 12 enough in situations like that.  I have been know to double, triple and even quadrouple this recipe before.  Just be careful with your math.  Math is hard for me.  Hope you enjoy them and actually make them for your family.  I will put the measurements for everything below so you can write it down and put it in your recipe box.  Happy gorging.

Crust
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
12 bite-size peanut butter cups

Filling
2 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or almond extract
2 eggs
 
The 4th of July parade around town full of everything from dirt bikes, to tractors, to horses, to 4-wheelers, to trailers full of little leaguers............................... 
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to people piled on golf carts
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to boys in transformer costumes
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to twins in wagons
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and pretty girls on bicycles
And the end of the parade in the big open field so we could all...............................
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get free lemonade and hear from local political hopefulls
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and see Uncle Sam
There were..........................
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moms and daughters
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daddies and little girls
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and sweet, goofy friends
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pretty ladies and piles of food
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and very full bellies all around
And at the end of the day everyone gathered for..................................
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fireworks
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and squeals of delight
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and memories
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and a few reassuring hugs from Daddy