Friday, August 29, 2008


Since I'm turning 29 on the 29th, it's my Golden Birthday today. That's what Brent told me. I'm looking forward to spending the day with our family and enjoying red velvet cake, compliments of my mom and her sous chefs, Hadleigh and Nathanael! This morning they made me scones for breakfast, which is one of my favorites!

It's hard to believe that next year I'll be thirty. I don't mind getting older...but I can't believe how quickly my twenties have gone by. So here are 29 things that I want to do/accomplish during this year that I am twenty-nine. (in no particular order)
  1. make at least one new recipe a week

  2. make a dent in my "to read" list

  3. spend more time each day reading the Bible and in prayer

  4. work on teaching Hadleigh to read

  5. take a mini-vacation with Brent--just the two of us

  6. complete Nathanael and Madeleine's first year scrapbooks

  7. establish a consistent morning devotion time with our children

  8. exercise more to be healthy

  9. journal more consistently

  10. plan a monthly "family day" to do something new and fun together

  11. play golf with Brent (or at least ride on the cart!)

  12. find a Bible Study to become involved with (I miss BSF)

  13. plan meals a month at a time

  14. write real letters to people I care about

  15. vote in November

  16. lose my "baby weight"

  17. be adventurous and try a new hairstyle (I am such a scaredy-cat when it comes to cutting my hair!)

  18. reconnect with old friends and be better at staying in touch

  19. plant bulbs for a pretty spring!

  20. work on organizing our office space

  21. pull out my sewing machine and work on perfecting the skill of sewing

  22. talk with my brothers more often

  23. find a great babysitter and have date nights with Brent more often

  24. hang pictures on the walls (does it take everyone at least a year to feel settled in a new home?)

  25. learn how to use Photoshop Elements (I've had it for almost 2 years)

  26. take a Photography course (I really want to take this one!)

  27. travel somewhere unexpected

  28. read and write poetry...I miss that from my college days

  29. discover all the neat places to go and things to do in Oklahoma

Hope you all have a wonderful day and weekend!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Let them eat cake.

I love cake. And don't you think that on special days (like your birthday), you should be allowed cake for breakfast? If so, here's a good sweet AND savory one to try. I must admit that the recipe intrigued me the moment I saw it. (It's from the Plano, Texas Junior League cookbook From Lone Star to Five Star.) So I made it the following morning. And we all loved it. It reheats well in the microwave too. Always a plus.

East Texas Breakfast Cake with Blueberry Sauce

1 pound pork sausage
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup pecans

1. Cook the sausage in a skillet, stirring until brown and crumbly; drain.
2. Mix the flour, baking powder, and soda together.
3. Cream the butter in a mixing bowl until light. Add the sugar and brown sugar to the butter and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. Add the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream, beating until moistened after each addition.
4. Fold the blueberries, sausage, and pecans into the batter. Spoon into an ungreased 9x13 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until cake is done.
5. Cut the cake into squares and serve with blueberry sauce. Refrigerate leftovers.

Serves 12.

Blueberry Sauce

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 cups blueberries
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

1. Combine the sugar, water and cornstarch in a saucepan and mix well. Stir in the blueberries. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubble, stirring constantly. Cook for two minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice.

Serve. Refrigerate leftovers.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Who doesn't love surprises?

I was supposed to pick up my mom this morning from the airport. I have really been looking forward to her birthday is next week, and it will be the first birthday in 12 years that I've gotten to be with her. (The last time I celebrated a birthday with my parents, I turned seventeen and was beginning my senior year of high school.) So I was really looking forward to picking her up and the fun week that lay ahead.

Last night, I heard Brent come up behind me while I was doing dishes from dinner, and the strangest thought crossed my mind--"It smells like Mom." (I have an acute sense of smell by the way...I'm one of those people who remembers moments because they're associated with a smell. Or a song. Or a place. Maybe I just have an acute memory...but I digress...)

I turned around to see these two:

I was NOT expecting my Dad at all. What a terrific surprise. And an extra day as well! I could not stop smiling! Brent kept a great secret (with lots more up his sleeve, he tells me) mostly by also keeping the secret from our sweet little monkeys.

Aren't they about the cutest couple you've ever seen?

I just LOVE birthday surprises.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Do you feel like chicken tonight?

When was the last time you thought about the seventh grade? For me personally, I think about it every time I make the recipe I'm going to share with you today.

When I was in the seventh grade, I was pretty shy...comfortable around friends but definitely not a "center-of-attention" type of person. So I have a hard time believing that the following story is about me. (But certain friends...Jayme--your brother-in-law, for one...teased me about this for a VERY long time.)

Apparently, when I was in seventh grade, during science class, our teacher had to leave the room for a moment. We had those big black science tables that seated four. Well, something possessed me to stand on a table and sing the "I feel like chicken tonight, like chicken tonight!" advertising jingle while flapping my arms like a chicken. I know. Can you imagine? No clue what made me do that. Sometimes I think it may have been a dream. But there you go. I suppose that could make it into a "most embarrassing moment" list.

So, for some reason I associate that little jingle with Kraft Shake and Bake chicken coating. The two have absolutely NOTHING to do with one another (well, aside from chicken) but when I see Shake and Bake, I think of that jingle and then that story.

More than you wanted to know about seventh-grade me? Okay, how about the recipe then?

Orange-Glazed Chicken

4 chicken breasts
1/4 cup orange marmalade, divided
1 envelope Shake and Bake crispy original coating mix
1/4 cup Italian dressing
6 cups baby spinach
1 medium orange, thinly sliced

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread chicken with 2 Tbsp. marmalade. Coat chicken with coating mix. (I prefer to do this in a dish or plate rather than the bags the coating comes with.)

2. Place chicken in a 13 x 9-inch dish. Bake for 25 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, mix dressing with 2 Tbsp. of marmalade. Add to spinach and toss to coat. Place evenly on four plates. Place chicken breast over spinach and add orange slices.

Serves 4.

When I make this for our family, my children eat almost all the spinach. It's yummy and light...perfect for the end of summer. Speaking of which, it's 73 degrees right now and kind of misty. My kind of August.

Friday, August 15, 2008

This little one

She's growing up so quickly. And as much as I am enjoying all the new things she's doing--

--the way we're seeing more and more of her unique and precious personality, the way she loves to eat cheerios, how she's learned to sign "more", how cute it is to watch the technique she uses to get from a lying position to a seated one, how she occasionally leans toward your lips when you ask for a kiss, how she waves (towards herself), how she loves to clap for herself, for her siblings, anytime she hears someone say yay or hooray, how she watches every movement of her brother and sister and desperately wants to do what they're doing, how she holds onto my arm while I'm carrying her on my hip, the way she reaches for Brent when he comes home from work, the way she and Hadleigh talk and play while in the car--

--I am holding onto to this. To her being a baby. My baby.

Ten months hasn't really gone by, has it? So quickly? There's no way she will be one soon. It has passed much. too. quickly. As time always does.

It's funny. When Hadleigh was born, we treasured the moments...but we really looked forward to each milestone...rolling over, teeth, sitting up, feeding her solids, crawling, walking... I remember first feeding Hadleigh rice cereal at 5 months. Hindsight, of course, is that the baby food stage of feeding is the most frustrating...because you really have to plan and think about eating away from home. So Nathanael started cereal at 6 months or so...and well, Madeleine was a bit closer to 7 :) (I was glad to have her pediatrician's approval though!)

I loved seeing Hadleigh's first teeth...I was SO excited...but I quickly realized that the toothless smile I had grown to treasure had been an equally (if not more so) cute toothy grin. But each change made me more and more aware of my baby growing up. It has made stop and take notice and treasure the moments that will change when I'm not aware of it. The ones that will catch me by surprise, because I didn't know that the "last time" would be the "last time". I think I'm especially feeling this because I know she's our last little one.

But I think she knows that she's my baby.This picture is one of my favorite parts of the day. Before each nap and bedtime, I snuggle her in her blankie, she holds part of the blanket in her hand and sucks her thumb. She leans her head against my shoulder and breathes easily. Sometimes she talks in her sweet little cooing voice and I talk back to her. Sometimes we look at each other in the mirror which makes us both smile and giggle. But mostly, we just stand there (swaying, of course) and I treasure those moments in my heart.

I think she knows that I still need her to be my baby.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Two for one

I stumbled upon these recipes in Everyday Food, I believe (that little Martha Stewart cooking magazine). We tried it a few weeks ago and we ALL loved it. The best thing is that it makes a you can freeze it in 2 cup portions for another meal later on...recipe included. The combination of flavors is really calls for raisins. Now, I am not a huge raisin fan, but I loved them in this recipe. So give them a chance, even if they're not your favorite.

Pork Picadillo with Rice

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 minced garlic cloves
coarse salt and pepper
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 chipotle in adobo, chopped*
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
3 lbs. ground pork
1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes in puree, cut up
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1/2 cup raisins

1. In a dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until soft, 3-5 minutes.
2. Add tomato paste, chipotles, chile powder, cinnamon and cloves; cook until fragrant, about one minute. Add pork; cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink, 7-8 minutes.
3. Add tomatoes with puree and vinegar; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, partially covered until thick, 35-40 minutes. Add raisins. Serve with white rice.

You can also use this with pasta, burritos, quesadillas, stuffed peppers, baked potatoes, etc.

*I opted not to use the chipotle since my kiddos love to claim "spicy" as a reason not to eat something. The flavor was still delicious.

To freeze, divide among container (2 cups each) and freeze for up to 3 months. To defrost, place container upside down under warm tap water. Place in small pot with 1-2 Tbsp. water; cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until hot, 25 min.

Now, the real reason I saved this recipe was for the recipe below: Picadillo Nachos. These are delicious and SO filling. The four of us couldn't finish a baking sheet full for dinner. SO good.

Picadillo Nachos

5 oz. tortilla chips
4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups Pork Picadillo recipe
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 avocado, cubed
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered

1. Heat broiler with rack set 4 inches from heat. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place chips, slightly overlapping on sheet. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese, then picadillo, then the remainder of the cheese. Broil until the cheese has melted, about 2-5 minutes. (Keep your eye on them constantly.)
2. Top with cilantro, avocado, and tomatoes.

Monday, August 11, 2008


It's a cloudy, misty day. Following an overcast, sporadically rainy weekend. You know I'm happy about that!

Do you love to make lists? I do. I have a list of projects we need to work on; a list of things I want Brent to build; a list of long-term items (read, dream list) for the house; grocery lists; a list of books I want to read; a list of places I want to go....

Here is my weekly to do list for this week:
  • do the laundry (in process, one load to go)
  • make doctor appointment for Madeleine (waiting to hear back from doctor)
  • make dentist appointments for Hadleigh, Nathanael, and I (check)
  • plan daily homeschool schedule; get stuff organized
  • make list of items still needed for homeschool
  • watch Olympics
  • order pictures online
  • begin exercise program (day one: check)
  • invite friend's for dinner
  • clothes to goodwill
  • list items on ebay and craig's list
  • order God's World News for Hadleigh
  • grocery shop (which will require yet another list)
  • playdate at our house
  • buy some fabric
  • take books to used book store
  • plan garage sale???

I think that should do it for now, don't you?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Best Ever!

These pancakes make an appearance quite often in our family. Sunday mornings served with scrambled eggs, especially, but also for special occasions, snowy days (or rainy days), and as "breakfast for dinner".

Maybe you already have a favorite recipe for pancakes. Try this one too. Because you might have just found another. I can't claim this recipe as my's from Cottage Living. It's fabulous.

They are wonderful with just butter and syrup. (My husbands favorite.) Blueberries. Bananas and Pecans. (My recent favorite.) Fresh fruit syrups are equally good. My children like me to make pancakes in the shape of their initials. Or hearts.

The recipe doubles and triples easily, to serve a crowd. I can't believe I haven't shared this one before. (I feel like I have...I feel like I can remember what I wrote...but then again, sometimes I blog in my head.)

Tomorrow night might just be breakfast for dinner. (Only because we're grilling tonight!)

The Best Buttermilk Pancakes Ever!

1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg

1. Melt butter and allow to cool. Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
2. In another bowl, combine liquid ingredients. Add liquids to flour mixture and whisk until just blended. Let stand 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat griddle. Pour batter onto griddle and cook until pancakes are bubbly and the edges are slightly browned. Flip and cook approximately 2 minutes on other side. Keep pancakes warm until ready to serve.

Yields: about 12 medium-sized pancakes.

And you will enjoy. Trust me.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Little Things

Sometimes I think I focus too much on the big picture. The end result. The forest. Where I want to one day be. Where I want my family to be in the future.

I forget to remember that it's the simple, little, (seemingly) meaningless things that build up to that end.

And if I keep looking only to that point on the horizon, I will miss the journey and reach that point and wonder how I (we) got there.

So this week, I've been trying to slow down. Take little moments and savor them with my children at the ages (and stages) where they are. This isn't hard with Madeleine...I am clinging to her baby moments...they are disappearing much too fast for me. (That's another post, another day.)

But it's a bit harder for me with Hadleigh; she's in that in between stage of wanting to be helpful and being helpful. Wanting independence and then not wanting it. I'm trying to remember that a slowly cooked meal with lots of messy, helping hands will be remembered years from now far more that the meal I cooked alone, quick and perfect though it might have been.

And Nathanael...dear precious full speed ahead all day long. He has run into the wall with his head in the same place twice now. About a week ago, I told him when he's running that he needs to look ahead so he can start to slow down. Know what he replied? "I can't slow down Mom. I just can't." How do I let him love on his little sister while still protecting her from his fierce affection? (Not fierce in attitude but in motion.) But I have to remember that he's learning and growing way too quickly too. For just this morning, he told me "I'm learning to slow down Mommy. See?" as he was charging into his big sister :)

So this week, I have made heart-shaped sandwiches when they've been requested, because, pulling out one cookie cutter and cutting four pieces of bread and washing that cookie cutter really isn't that big of a deal when I remember the smiles I see when I agree to the plan. And serving them on our special red plates just so that I can tell my kiddos they are special to me today...well, that's worth it too.

It means that I've left the makeshift tent (Daddy's are way better constructed) of blankets and chairs up for a few days in Hadleigh's room, because the girl's room doesn't have to look perfect all the time.

It's reading an extra few books at naptime (even though I have phone calls to make, and dishes to wash, and pages to scrap, and blogs to check) because I remember how much I was looking forward to "being here at this place on the horizon" when I dreamed about Hadleigh being born.

It's figuring out what ingredients I could make cookies from when Hadleigh requested them last night for a spur-of-the-moment tea party since Nathanael and Daddy went golfing. And we made them. And drank cold milk from Mommy's special tea cups, just like I've dreamed of doing with her. (Thank goodness for cocoa, sugar, butter, milk, vanilla, peanut butter, and oatmeal.)

And this morning at breakfast, she gave me a big hug and said "I had fun with you Mommy. With making cookies and drinking a milk tea party."

It's why I am not just preserving holidays and birthdays in our scrapbooks...but everyday moments...because these little small steps along the way are ones I want to remember and ones I hope my children love to look at and read about, when they've arrived on the horizon and want to look back.
I still think goals are important. Planning is important. I'm still looking forward to the future...but enjoying this moment too.

© 2011. All Rights Reserved. | Prefab Blog Design By Penny Lane Designs