Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy Birthday Shawna!

I have been blessed with wonderful friends, and I am happy to celebrate Shawna today. I only wish we could celebrate together, dear friend!

Shawna is loyal, steadfast and true, caring, and compassionate. She is funny and laughs a lot and makes me laugh a lot. She makes her friends feel special and loved. She is always sincere and thoughtful...a terrific listener and the one to go to when you need advice! She is a devoted wife to David and the sweetest mommy to little Kate. She is an adventurous Texas girl taking on New York City! But what I treasure about her more than anything else is her passionate, sincere devotion to Christ. Her love for the Lord is evident to everyone who is blessed to encounter her. She is salt and light. She encourages me in my walk with Christ every time we are together or get a chance to talk on the phone.

I am blessed by our friendship Shawna...and so very thankful to have you in my life!

So happy birthday Shawna...and to everyone else, have a terrific New Year's Eve!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

What is a blog?

That's on the first page of Blogger when you go to sign in: "What is a blog?" explanation for those who are new to the blogging world.
But I thought it was applicable to me too :) given the abandoned state my blog has been in.

So I guess it's time to get started again! (And what a perfect time, since it is Recipe Wednesday!) I actually have so many ideas for blog posts floating around in my brain...I just need to be better about getting them out on the computer. And I think it's time for a new design for this blog...but seriously, I'm barely making time to post, much less design. So I'll add that to my to-do list, which I humorously titled "My Overwhelming To-Do List"...I got a laugh out of Brent with that one!

One of the things that has been on my mind lately is Christmas traditions...This will be our first Christmas since we were married that we spend without any of our extended family. Just the five of us. In our own home. I am really excited about it. (Though I'd be lying if I didn't say that I am already a bit homesick for Christmas in Asheville...especially as I heard the sound of my pink china ballet slippers ornament--tied with the most beautiful pink satin ribbon--clink together as Mom hung them on the "kids" tree while we were talking on the phone. But that's another post...) As I was saying, I am excited about beginning our own traditions in our home and being together.

One of our Christmas traditions just arrived:
Every year since we moved to Texas, my Mom and Dad have sent us our Christmas wreath for our front door. It is such a special gift. The moment I open the box, it smells like my mountains. (You didn't know the Appalachian Mountains belong to me, did you?) I can close my eyes and almost imagine I am there, searching a mountainside for our own special tree. (An older family tradition from years ago.) And then I see the beautiful Christmas bow that Mom has tied for the wreath, and there is a bit of the home I grew up in here. A very special tradition. Thank you, Mom and Dad; it smells like home now.

In honor of Christmas traditions, here is a recipe tradition:

Mom's Chocolate Fudge Pie

1 9-inch pie shell, baked
2 cups milk
4 egg yolks, beaten
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2.5 squares semi-sweet chocolate

1. Combine egg yolks and milk in a saucepan. Mix sugar and cornstarch together and then stir into the egg yolk mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly.
2. When hot, add butter, vanilla, and chocolate.Continue to cook, stirring constantly until thick and smooth.
3. Pour into baked pie shell. Let pie sit until room temperature. Top with freshly sweetened whipped cream and serve.
(The pie is definitely worth all the stirring!)
And a question for you faithful readers :) Do you have the same meal at Christmas as you do at Thanksgiving? Or is it different? Share what you do for your Christmas meal with me!

Monday, November 12, 2007

One month old

I can hardly believe this little girl has been in our arms for a whole month. What a blessing she is!

She is growing so quickly (she's already 11 lbs. 13 oz.) that she's almost outgrown all of Hadleigh's "newborn" clothes. I'm going to have to go shopping for warm onesies and pajamas :) But I won't complain about that! She is already starting to smile...little moments that I just treasure!

Last night was just the two of us...Brent took Hadleigh and Nathanael camping with some friends. It was nice to get to sleep in while Madeleine did...and spend time just cuddling her and focusing on her...time alone with Madeleine is definitely harder to come by than it was when Hadleigh and Nathanael were I actually don't mind when she wakes up at night to eat. That said, I will definitely enjoy a full night's sleep when she decides she's ready for it!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Three Days

I've been on my own during the day with three children for three days now. My Mom was here with us for two weeks, which was such a blessing to me. I am so thankful that she is so willing to spend her time here (and that my Dad is so willing to share her!) I got lots of extra morning sleep when she would get up with the older munchkins...and keep them quiet...I seriously never even knew they were awake! She tried to get us out of the house almost every day so that it wouldn't be as overwhelming when I was on my own (the onslaught of doctor visits made that easier...seriously, we have been to the doctor at least 7 times in the past 5 weeks.) We have a freezer full of meals to make my first few weeks a bit easier because she has such a giving and helpful spirit. She gave Brent and I an evening out by watching Hadleigh and nice to just be together! She truly has the heart of a servant.
And I just love the way she is loved by her grandchildren...I'm sure Madeleine will adore her Mimi just like her big sister and brother do! We are so thankful for you Mom!
It was so fun to spend time fun to have Dad in town for a few days at the special to be able to have family come to share these early moments together. (We're looking forward to Brent's parents visiting in a few weeks!) Thank you, Mom and Dad for your time with us...we really treasure every moment!

So, three days on my own. Thankfully, Brent has been able to be home early each day. The mornings are the toughest part...but on the whole, it has been easier than I anticipated. Except that it's a little tough venturing out of the house on my own with three in tow...but we're figuring it out. I'm sure there will be moments where it's all very overwhelming, but for now, we are taking things slowly, staying home as much as possible, enjoying some new and some forgotten toys to play with while Mommy feeds "Baby Madeleine", treasuring the fleeting moments of Madeleine's newborn stage, and trying to keep the house as clean as possible for the realtors who tend to only like to call 30 minutes before wanting to show our house. (Sorry for that last bit, just had to vent.)

The time does pass quickly...maybe that's due to needing to feed Madeleine every three hours...but I can hardly believe that she will be four weeks old on Friday. Speaking of feeding Madeleine, it's that time again!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Nathanael is Two!!!

Today was an exciting birthday for Nathanael! He started out with a pancake to go see all the big airplanes at the Air Show on base...had a yummy chocolate cake with strawberries (his request!)...and was delighted to open his presents and find a little bicycle just his size!
Here he is:
Turning two:
Turning one:
At birth! are such a blessing to our family! I sure do love my little buddy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Madeleine Elizabeth

Madeleine arrived October 12 at 7:52 am.
Here is her very first picture (can you tell that she demonstrated her healthy lungs quite a bit?):

She surprised us by weighing 9 pounds and 15 ounces...but was down to 9 pounds when we left the hospital. She is 21 inches long, has blue eyes and a bit of dark hair!We came home on Sunday and are doing well. Hadleigh and Nathanael love their new little sister, though they are still having to keep their distance a little longer to try to make sure Madeleine doesn't catch any lingering RSV far so good!

More to come...but I think I need to take advantage of this little girl's naptime right now!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

My baby boy

I'm treasuring my moments with this little guy today...feeling his chubby toddler hands holding mine...listening to his precious little voice say things I didn't know he knew yet (like this morning, while patting his head he said "bumped noggin' "...I have absolutely no idea where he picked up noggin' from!)...watching him love on his big sister (and then try to wrestle her)...watching the sweet way he sucks his thumb while holding his blanket "just right" aware that the next time I see him after tomorrow morning, he will definitely seem like such a big boy and not my littlest baby anymore.

I know, because it happened last time.

They warned me last time...Hadleigh will grow up overnight, and she did. Complete with her first set of pigtails, she was so grown up when she came to the hospital after Nathanael was born.
I know she will seem even more grown up now and that Nathanael will all of a sudden no longer be our baby. Will suddenly be a just-about-two-year old big brother. It makes me feel a little bit sentimental...with some pregnancy hormones thrown in too, I'm sure!

But how exciting to see them so excited about their new little sister! Hadleigh is almost beside herself...showing me all of the little clothes and blankets that are ready. I am so anxious to see how the three of them will all three October blessings!

Next time, expect to see pictures of our newest blessing! Off to the hospital in the morning!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Four years old

Today my sweet Hadleigh is four years old.
After a heart-sharped pancake breakfast, she opened her gifts, and we soon found her outside in her pajamas, butterfly wings on (a gift from her cousins) in her ladybug helmet and new bicycle! And here are pictures from each of her past birthdays...including her party last weekend
Turning four...
Turning three...
Turning two...
Turning one...
My sweet baby girl on the day she was hard to believe she was once so small.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Pies sound good right now

Even though the temperature doesn't welcome autumn yet, it is October (my favorite month!) and all sorts of pies (and soups) sound yummy to me. I made cinnamon apples last night to go with our dinner (ahem...sadly, I cooked them a tad bit too long) and when I came home from visiting with friends last night, the house smelled like apple pie. Which made me wish for this apple pie I shared last fall! I'm craving all the warm cozy comfort that pies offer--both sweet and savory.

So I thought I'd share this savory (and easy) pie recipe today. My children are not picky eaters, but it is rare when both of them can finish their meal more quickly than Brent and I--especially Brent! So this is a hit with my little ones...hopefully yours too!

Shepherd's Pie

1 22-oz. package frozen mashed potatoes (I've used from-scratch mashed potatoes too)
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup frozen sliced carrot, thawed
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
1 cup beef broth
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup shredded cheddar

1. Cook potatoes according to package and set aside.
2. Cook beef and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes, until beef is browned. Drain and return to skillet; add carrot. Stir in flour, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Add broth and cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes or until thickened slightly. Spoon into greased 11x7 inch baking dish. (I have also used a deep dish pie plate.)
3. Stir together potatoes, egg, 1 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper. Spoon over beef.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, bake 5 more minutes.

Yields 6 servings.

Friday, September 21, 2007

3 weeks from today

In three weeks, we will become a family of five. That's pretty unbelievable! (Unless of course, Madeleine decides to arrive before her scheduled c-section...not too likely but I suppose it's possible.)

Needless to say, life is pretty hectic. Aside from getting things ready for her arrival (including the lovely weekly appointments), we have been getting our house ready to sell (we show it for the first time on Saturday), househunting 3.5 hours away twice in the last week, starting Bible Study Fellowship again, and getting ready for Hadleigh and Nathanael's birthday party next Saturday.

We also have moved Nathanael into his "big boy toddler bed" that Brent made him. For days, he walked around saying "Daddy make bed." He loves it and has done an amazing job at staying in bed, falling right asleep, etc. (all the things that his big sister didn't do!) But I suppose it makes sense...Hadleigh likes to talk to herself about her day before going to bed...and it always takes the night-owl in me awhile to fall asleep. Whereas, Brent falls asleep almost the second he turns out his bedside lamp (you know the scene in You've Got Mail with Parker Posey and Tom Hanks going to bed? That's Brent) and Nathanael just follows suit. Often, he hasn't moved in two hours when we go to check on him.

That's what I've been up about you?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Only 24 hours

Sometimes I really wish I had a few extra hours in my day. Like today.
Bible Study Fellowship started back up and it felt really good to be there. Good to get back into a Bible study that really helps me to be accountable to studying God's Word. Good to see Hadleigh so excited about her class (one of her teachers from last year moved up with her which we were thrilled to discover this morning!)

We love going...but it uses our entire morning, and I failed to realize how much we/I can actually get done in a morning. So naptime has not lasted as long as I would like...and I have stuff to do, so this is just a quick post with a really yummy recipe.

One thing that helps me with the 24 hours in my day is my crockpot. I've been using it a lot more recently and right now, there is a delicious smell of chicken curry in our house. I'd share that recipe, but it's new and I'm picky about my chicken curry so I have to try it first. But if it's good, I promise you'll see it soon!

This one is really a good summer dish...but yummy any time of year!

Grilled Chicken and Mozzarella Pasta Shells

coarse salt and pepper
3-5 chicken breasts
8 oz. medium pasta shells
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
4 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut in 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup fresh parsley OR basil, chopped*
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. butter

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Grill chicken. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil for pasta.
2. Cook pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot. Add remaining ingredients (except pasta water)and toss to combine.
3. Add reserved pasta water a little at a time to create a light sauce. Serve with more Parmesan cheese.

* I have used both parsley and basil, and both recipes are delicious. Parsley, obviously is a little less expensive if you don't have your own basil plant; the flavor with the parsley is stronger than with the basil.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sweet Friends

That's what my Hadleigh and Nathanael are.

Sure, they have their moments like all siblings do, but...
  • Hadleigh likes to be the first one to open Nathanael's door in the morning and after naptime.
  • She brings him a spoon at breakfast for his yogurt and prefers to carry his bowl of bananas to him personally.
  • She loves to give him a goldfish pretzel "snack" while they wait on their lunch being made.
  • She shares her toys so sweetly with him. (His favorite is the garage and car of her little dollhouse...or her kitchen full of food. I have two little sous-chefs!)
  • She brings him his blanket whenever he cries because he has gotten hurt.

  • Nathanael follows her around and wants to do whatever she is doing.
  • He loves to bring her juice to her if she has abandoned it somewhere.
  • He shares his toys so sweetly with her. (Except maybe his "supercar"...that takes persuasion and an exchange of many toys!)
  • He loves to talk about what "Ha-leigh" (just missing the d in his pronounciation) is doing, where "Ha-leigh" is, what belongs to "Ha-leigh".
  • When (on the rare occasion) she sleeps later during naptime, the glee in his voice saying "Ha-leigh" when he sees her just melts my heart.
  • I have yet to see him refuse to give her a kiss when prompted by us. And when he gives her a hug precious.

Yesterday following Nathanael's nap (because Hadleigh just played), Hadleigh told me, "It's so fun to play toys with Naniel." My heart overflows during moments like these. I'm so glad they are such friends...they remind me of Michael (my younger brother) and I when we were little.

I look forward to seeing how Madeleine fits into their lives...I'm sure she'll fit in seamlessly, as Hadleigh whispers to her in my tummy sometime each day "Come out soon." or "Come see us soon." Accompanied, of course, by a kiss. Another one of those moments.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


is upon us...and we've had slightly cooler weather since Monday! Yay!

Some other fun things about September that I just love:

--Pink Lady apples are again at the store! So delicious!

--I bought some of this today...Mom shared some with me last Christmas and it's just wonderful...but seasonal, so I'll be stocking up on it!!!

--My autumn wreath is hanging on the door and there is a lovely centerpiece on the table full of fall color!

--Today while driving, there were leaves blowing along the road. Of course, the leaves on the trees are still green and full...but these few leaves give me hope!

--Today, Hadleigh and I made a paper-chain with 38 links to count down the days until Madeleine arrives! (That's her name by the way! And we have a scheduled c-section, due to my previous two.) Hadleigh loved making it and it's hanging over her door, since the two girls will be sharing a room!

This past Sunday, in honor of September, I made a wonderful baked French Toast recipe that I'll share today! I really hope you enjoy is simply delicious.

French Toast with Apple Syrup (It's from the Lone Star to Five Star Cookbook, by the Junior League of Plano, TX...a great cookbook!)

French Toast ingredients:

1/2 cup (i stick) butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 Tbsp. corn syrup

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

1 loaf french bread, sliced 3/4-inch thick

5 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. nutmeg

Apple Syrup ingredients:

1 cup applesauce

1 (10-oz.) jar apple jelly

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

salt to taste

1. To prepare toast, combine butter, sugar, and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Cook over low hear until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Pour into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange apple slices in the dish and layer the bread over the apples.

2. Combine the eggs, milk, vanilla and nutmeg in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour over the bread. Chill, covered with plastic wrap, for 8-12 hours. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

3. To prepare the syrup, combine all syrup ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is heated through, stirring constantly until smooth. Serve over French toast.

Serves 8. (reheats well in microwave for leftovers :)

Friday, August 31, 2007


When Hadleigh was about 5 months old, my mom and I were shopping at Harolds. We had those great coupons Harold's sends out where you get a certain amount of "free" money, depending on what the barcode on your coupon rings up as. (Speaking of which, I used to get those coupons at least twice a year...and it's been a long time since I last got one. What's up with that?) Well, since clothes shopping was not my favorite thing to do 5 months after giving birth to Hadleigh, I found the perfect pair of sunglasses. Loved them.

I am picky about my sunglasses. They have to sit on my nose just right, the sides of the sunglasses can't go too far past my ears or they irritate me, etc. So I've had those sunglasses for an amazing 3.5 years...

And then, I did something really silly. While at the beach, Katy was taking pictures of me with Nathanael...and I thought the pictures might look better without my sunglasses covering my face. So I put them on my head (hindsight is 20-20), lifted Nathanael over my head and

Katy caught the loss of my glasses to the ocean on camera. Funny, huh? And how funny is my reaction? At this point, I'm reminding myself "Nathanael is more important than the glasses. Nathanael is more important than the glasses." Immediately, I started to look for them, but they were gone. Instantly.

Kind of made me start to think about everything the ocean has claimed...and I decided that a pair of sunglasses isn't that much of a loss. Far greater things could be (and have been) lost at sea.

(And I'm sure Hilary is just shocked that I would post this photo...not only pregnant but in a swimsuit! The only picture of her I've ever seen when she was pregnant, she covered her stomach with a pillow!)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


That's how old I am today. So I thought I would share one of my favorite cheesecake recipes (you can never have enough cheesecake recipes!) and one of the favorite birthday desserts that I have made for Brent. (It's time intensive but oh-so-delicious.)

Cappuccino-Fudge Cheesecake


1 9 oz. box chocolate wafer cookies
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
7 Tbsp. hot melted butter, unsalted

1. Finely grind cookies, chocolate, sugar, and nutmeg in processor or blender. Add butter and process until crumbs begin to stick together, about 1 minutes.
2. Transfer crumbs to 10-inch springform pan with 3-inch high sides. Wrap plastic wrap around fingers and press crumb mixture firmly up sides to within 1/2 inch of top edge, then over bottom of pan.


1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
20 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup Kahlua

1. Bring cream to a simmer in large saucepan. Remove from heat; add chocolate and Kahlua. Whisk until chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth.
2. Pour 2 cups of the ganache over bottom of crust. Freeze until ganache is firm, about 30 minutes. Reserve remaining ganache; cover and let stand at room temp. to uses later.

**I made the crust and ganache a day before the rest of the cheesecake, so the ganache needed to be warmed in microwave for about 15 seconds and then stirred. I also moved the crust to the fridge after 30 minutes.


4 8-oz. packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. dark rum (I used Kahlua instead)
2 Tbsp. instant espresso powder
2 Tbsp. ground espresso coffee beans
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. light molasses
4 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with the rack in the middle of oven.
2. Mix cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until blended. Beat in flour. Stir rum, instant espresso, coffee, vanilla, and molasses in a small bowl until the instant coffee dissolves; beat into cream cheese mixture. Beat in eggs one at a time.
3. Pour filling over cold ganache in crust. Place cheesecake on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake unti lthe top is brown, puffed, and cracked at edges, 1 hour and 5 minutes. (I added 10-15 minutes.) Transfer to rack. Cool 15 minutes, maintaining oven temperature.


1 1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
Reserved ganache to garnish

1. Whisk sour cream, sugar and vanilla to blend. Pour topping over hot cheesecake, spreading to cover filling completely.
2. Bake until topping is set, about 10 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to rack. Refrigerate hot cheesecake on rack until cool, about 3 hours.
3. Run sharp knife between crust and pan to loosen; release pan sides. Transfer cheesecake to a platter.
4. Spoon reserved ganache into a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip. Pip 6 diagonal lines atop cheesecake, spacing 1-inch apart. Repeat in opposite direction, making lattice design. Garnish with coffee beans if desired. Chill until lattice is firm, at least 6 hours.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

At the beach

Well, it certainly has taken me awhile to post pictures from our time in Kiawah! But here are some of my favorites! We spent lots of time at the beach, in the pool, on the golf course (for the guys), and eating yummy meals! The recipe for one of our favorite beach meals is at the end of the pictures...after all, it is Wednesday!!!

Mimi and the kiddos flying the kite...they loved it! Hadleigh and Uncle Matt swinging and jumping over the waves. It was so much fun to see both Hadleigh and Nathanael really warm up to Uncle Michael and Uncle Matt...Hadleigh always wanted to know exactly where they were at all times! We think Hadleigh is imitating Brent as he was lying on the lounge chair reading. At any rate, a cute first attempt at sunbathing! The nine (almost ten) of us near the dunes. Mimi and Nathanael playing in the waves...he had NO fear of them and didn't mind the salt water in his face at all! This is probably my favorite picture of Hadleigh...just enjoying being in the water...but a safe distance from the waves since she's by herself. Thankfully, she has a little more caution in the water than her brother! And a content Nathanael sitting in the kayak that Mimi and Hadleigh rode in the shallow water!

Lowcountry Boil

4 pounds small red potatoes
5 quarts water
1 (3-ounce) bag of crab boil seasoning
4 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning2 pounds kielbasa or hot smoked link sausage, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
6 ears of corn, halved
4 pounds large fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined optional
Cocktail sauce

1. Add potatoes to large pot, then add 5 quarts water and seasonings. Cover pot and heat to a rolling boil; cook 5 minutes. Add sausage and corn, and return to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
2. Add shrimp to stockpot; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Drain. Serve with cocktail sauce. Serves 12.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

So it goes (or why I really like plastic)

So after vacuuming today (including the kitchen floor), I was organizing my pantry (a part of my kitchen cabinetry design). Yesterday, I bought three small baskets for organizing three messy areas of my pantry: Brent's coffee and coffee accessories, my baking section (bags of nuts, chocolate chips, dried fruit, etc.), and snacks (granola bars, boxes of raisins, snack-size bags, etc.).

So I was reaching to the back of my "baking shelf" and I scooted the baking basket forward a little, which pushed one of those cute little trial-size glass jars of Dickinson's Maple Syrup that I had kept from a weekend away here a few months ago. And of course, it proceeded to fall to the floor with a crash and pool at the base of the cabinets.

Thankfully, Hadleigh and Nathanael were both finishing their lunch in their chairs. But of course, I was barefoot with syrup on the bottom of my feet, the stool I stood on, the floor, the cabinets, the cabinet across from the pantry.

Just so you know, it's one thing to clean up glass...but quite a different ordeal when the glass is in maple syrup. And it's one thing to clean up maple syrup, but quite another when there is glass in the syrup. I mean, glass was sticking to the wall and cabinets because it was coated in syrup. And it's hard to pick up and dispose of sticky pieces of glass. And you can't really wring out a syrupy dishrag when there are many pieces of glass embedded in it. So I just threw away the two dishrags I used. At least they came in a pack of about 15 for $3 from Target. Somewhat disposable, I guess.

So in the end, I managed to get it cleaned up and unstickied. I will go back in a bit to sweep again ... because broken glass on the floor always makes me paranoid. We are a barefoot at home kind of family.

I guess I should be thankful it was the Smuckers Maple Syrup and not the Smuckers Honey, huh?

So, with regard to the maple syrup fiasco, today's recipe is Maple Walnut Muffins, another recipe from my favorite breakfast cookbook, Stone Hill Inn's The Signature Recipe Collection.

Maple Walnut Muffins

1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
5 tablespoons butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup (Dark Amber or Grade B)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour, oats, walnuts, brown sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt in a large bowl.
2. Beat the sour cream, butter, eggs, and maple syrup in a bowl until smooth. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened.
3. Fill well-greased muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 25 minutes or until a pick inserted in center comes out clean.
4. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool completely.

Yields 12 muffins.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

My Favorite Kitchen Tools

A little while ago, my friend Hilary posted her favorite culinary/kitchen tools on her blog and challenged others to do the same. So instead of a recipe today, I'll share with you a few of my favorites (though not necessarily "must-haves"):

1. I love my KitchenAid Mixer...without a doubt, one of my very favorite things in my kitchen.
2. Creme Brulee and Oatmeal Creme Brulee would be tough to make without a culinary torch...Brent bought me mine one Christmas...a special treat to have in your kitchen!
3. A few years ago, I received a Le Creuset Dutch Oven for Christmas and have thoroughly enjoyed using it to cook SO many things. I love the substantial weight of it (it's really heavy!) Can you tell that I like blue???
4. Apple Pie is ever so much more enjoyable to make when you have an Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer. Lots of people I know have the one by Pampered Chef, but I prefer one that has a suction mount for your counter.
5. Another favorite gift from Brent was my copper whistling tea kettle. I use this every single day, because you know I love my cup of tea! (I have the flat bottomed one pictured from Williams-Sonoma...though I just noticed they
have one made by Le Creuset in Cobalt Blue too...hmmm...can you think of a reason for needing two teakettles???)
6. I received a garlic press as a gift at a wedding shower and WOW. If you've never used fresh garlic in your cooking, don't wait any longer. It transforms the flavor of foods and smells SO good cooking! Minced garlic in a jar just doesn't cut it. And with a garlic press, it's so easy!
7. Somehow, I convinced Brent in our first few weeks of marriage that this trash can (the Allton Stainless Steel Trash Can with liner) was worth $49.95. I've never been a fan of trash cans under the sink (too small and too stinky for such a small offense to those who feel otherwise) and I didn't want one in our pantry which we had at the time. This seemed like a perfect solution...and it was. And Brent admits it now! (Just don't tell him that now you can get them online at Target for $29.99, plus shipping of course.) I love being able to have my hands full of cooking messes and be able to open the trash can with my toe. And Hadleigh and Nathanael like to use the top as a drum...
8. The Joy of Cooking Cookbook was a gift from my mother-in-law, and it is a fabulous resource that I use all the time. I gave one to my sister Katy, and she loves it too! It's the source for my favorite (and almost-famous) scone recipe.

And here are a few things I don't have, but think might be handy in the kitchen!
9. I got an email from Sur La Table a week ago with this new gadget, the SmartShopper Grocery List Organizer. It records, organizes, and prints your grocery list using voice recognition technology. How nice to read your recipe ingredients and have them automatically generated into an organized list.Don't think it's worth the price tag but sounds so nice and convenient! Check it out!
10. Love the idea of this pretty Pie and Cake Basket for carting sweet treats to picnics and get-togethers! Also featured at Sur La Table.
11. How do you store/transport cupcakes? My mom has this old orange rectangular tupperware container that has held millions of cupcakes, brownies, etc....but I have yet to find something for me. I saw this one by Wilton at Linen's and Things in the spring and am still thinking about can also order it online.

And that's it for me...sorry there aren't more links to the products (this post has
already taken me forever to write...silly blogger), but if you're interested in something let me know and I'll let you know where I found it!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Back from the beach

We just got back last night from Kiawah Island (off the coast of Charleston) where we spent a wonderful week with my family. (Pictures will follow soon...just have to find time to put them on the computer. Katy took a TON of gorgeous pictures!)

The last time Brent and I were in Kiawah, I was pregnant with Hadleigh. I only go to the beach during summers when I'm pregnant...we were in Barbados with Nathanael in my tummy. Funny, huh?

But Kiawah was wonderful...a lot cooler than expected most of the time, thanks to a bit of rain...but we still managed to get lots of beach time and the boys had lots of golf time. Hadleigh and Nathanael soaked up the beach and the pool...they both just LOVED it! So glad...

This morning, Hadleigh walked around the house with her little suitcase and told me (when asked) that she was going to see Mimi and Grampa at the beach house. I think they are going to miss their grandparents, aunt and uncles a lot...Nathanael has been saying everyone's names constantly today...and trust me, it is the cutest thing to watch him think and then say the name he's thinking of. Especially Aunt Katy or Kay-lee, as he pronounces it!

Busy getting stuff unpacked, uncluttered, refilled (as in the refrigerator), etc. Will be back soon. I promise.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Be prepared

Every Sunday morning, we have our "Family Breakfast". And it is nice to not have to do too much preparation in order to eat and still have time to get ready and be on time to church. So I LOVE breakfasts that can be prepared the night before. (After all, I was a Girl Scout for several years when I was little!) Like this far the best recipe for breakfast casserole that I have tried. (It's from the May 2007 issue of Cooking Light.)

I used a delicious asiago cheese bread from the bakery of my wonderful grocery store...and it definitely offered a unique flavor to the dish. I also used regular sausage instead of turkey and normal eggs instead of egg substitute and regular cheese, so I suppose my version is no longer "light" but still really tasty. But I'll give you the light version and you can choose to substitute (or not). And, it tastes great reheated in the microwave...not all breakfast casseroles can claim that.

Breakfast Casserole

8 oz. ciabatta bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 lb. turkey breakfast sausage
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 1/4 cup fat-free milk
1 cup (4 oz.) reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
2 large eggs
1 (8 oz.) carton egg substitute
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes or until toasted.
2. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sausage to pan; cook 6 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Combine sausage, bread, and onions in a large bowl. Combine milk, cheese, eggs, and egg substitute in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to bread mixture, tossing to coat bread. Spoon mixture into a greased 2-quart baking dish. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4. Uncover casserole. Bake for 50 minutess or until set and lightly browned. Sprinkle with parsley; serve immediately.

Yields about 6 one-cup servings

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bits of Happiness

  • There is Banana Bread (with pecans) baking in the oven right now. Yummy. I love to eat it toasted with a tiny bit of butter. And tea.
  • This little girl pictured above shares my "cheesy grin for pictures" that I had when I was her age. That makes me smile. And how cute is she with all her "jewels" on?
  • Yesterday in the late afternoon, we had a very quick but heavy thunderstorm.
  • I'm trying to figure out a recipe for Banana Nutella Crepes from one of our favorite restaurants in town (I'll share when I figure it out) yummy...we ate there Saturday night (date night!) in order to celebrate:
  • Brent's new job! We are so excited and thankful and glad to be moving further north. Okay, it's only to Oklahoma, but every little degree of latitude helps, right?
  • We've been looking at houseplans...and hoping that the one we really like will fit on the lot we really like! It's fun to get to daydream about a new home!
  • Mmmmm...I can smell the banana bread now!
  • In our backyard, there is a summer phlox blooming. This is a big deal because we planted them our first spring, thinking that they would do well...not so much. Too dry here. Lo and behold, a couple weeks ago, I noticed a plant had decided to say hello...thanks to our immense amount of rain this early summer! Such a fun surprise!
  • The ironing is all done!
  • A new Pottery Barn Kids catalog came today...filled with lots of fun ideas!
  • I think both kiddos are asleep AT THE SAME TIME. Maybe I'll get some crafty stuff done today! Yesterday, Miss H. fell asleep right as Mr. N was waking up. Nice.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Be Inspired

This was the theme of a "swap" I participated in over at fabulous website if you haven't checked it out yet!
This was the second time Lisa and I have been matched together for a swap, and I have to say that opening my box of goodies from Lisa was most definitely inspiring! Lots of goodies tempting me to start working on Nathanael's scrapbook (I know, I know, I really need to get it done before the baby arrives!)

By far, my favorite thing in the package was what Lisa put so much time and heart into...a flip book of inspiration, with tons of color, texture, techniques, and ideas. Here is a little peek of it that Lisa posted on her blog...
Thank you SO much Lisa!!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Hadleigh and I had a great time baking in the kitchen on Monday...I found this yummy cupcake recipe that had just enough need of an almost-four-year-old helper.
Hadleigh loves being in the kitchen with me...she's even started to stand on her stool at the sink, rinsing whatever dishes might be around. It's fun to have her helping...although baking seems to take a little bit longer :) Her favorite responsibility is lining muffin tins with the paper cups; this time I had bought some bright pink striped cups just for her, but she informed me I needed to buy more of the heart covered ones that we had for Valentines Day! She also loves to have the oven light on to keep tabs on whatever is cooking!

So this recipe is definitely good if you have a miniature baker in your home...I'll put in bold the steps that Hadleigh helped me with.

(And by the way, we didn't get around to frosting them...which was fine with me on account of the messiness and extra sugar for my children...but by all means, frost yours, even though they're still yummy without!)
Surprise Cookie Cupcakes

1 package plain chocolate cake mix
1 1/3 cups water
3 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 package Nestle TollHouse Refrigerated Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar Dough (the break-apart kind)
1 container prepared frosting (or homemade)
Miniature Chocolate Morsels for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin-cups with paper liners.

2. Combine cake mix, water, eggs, and oil in large mixer bowl and beat on low speed for 30 seconds; beat at medium speed for 2 minutes or until smooth. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter into each cup, filling about 2/3 full.

3. Cut cookie dough into 24 pieces; roll each piece into a ball. Place one ball of dough in the center of each muffin cup, pressing it to the bottom.

4. Bake for 19 to 22 minutes or until top springs back when gently pressed. Let stand for 15 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely. Spread with frosting and sprinkle with chocolate morsels.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

blog no longer abandoned

We just took Mimi to the airport after a wonderful week together! Dad, Mom wants and needs a new camera for Christmas, hint hint! For some reason all the pictures we took with her camera came out blurry with a kind of "glow" but I still wanted to share this one above! So sweet! We had one nicer cool morning that was perfect for the park! It was lots of fun to watch Mimi slide with BOTH kiddos!

And what a blessing to me...I am definitely feeling ready (i.e. big) for this little girl to arrive and we still have three more months to having Mom here to hold and carry and just help with the little details of life was such a blessing! (If you can tell in that picture, Nathanael is just about as big...if not heavier...than Hadleigh...and he still wants and needs to be carried much of the time because, his sweet little pace is just not fast enough in the hot Texas sun.) So thank you Mom, for coming in the middle of a very busy summer! We all enjoyed the visit so much!

And while at the park, Hadleigh began to show her interest in photography by taking these pictures with Mimi's camera...some of them came out pretty well, considering :) Take a look:


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