Friday, April 29, 2011

A Royal Morning

I awoke just before 5 am (Brent had to be up) and settled onto the couch to take in the wedding. Perfect timing; Kate had just arrived.

I was thinking of how I watched Princess Diana's wedding with my mom (though I was only two) so many people remember that early morning...that those are special memories....and decided to get my girls. (Hadleigh fell out of her bed when I opened the door...and then quickly ran to the living room when I told her the Prince was getting married.)

It was dark.  We were cozy.  Kate was breathtaking. Stunning gown.  The girls were completely satisfied she was indeed a princess (to-be).  Though blurry, I love that Brent thought to take a picture of "his girls" before leaving for work.

Nathanael joined us shortly afterwards.  The three were spellbound, taking in every moment.

We had a picnic tea of lemon scones and muffins for breakfast...with English Breakfast tea...while we waited for the balcony kiss.

My favorite quotes from the morning:

Madeleine: "Is there a witch in this one?" (We just watched Tangled recently...and I had to explain again that this was a REAL prince...not a movie.)

Hadleigh: "Do you think she's wearing real shoes or glass slippers?"

Nathanael: "I have to go to the bathroom. Can you pause it?"

(We don't watch much TV (and don't have a DVR) so the idea of real time was a bit lost on him!)

But I think the moment they realized they might be viewing a fairytale, was this one:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

For shrimp lovers

I would highly recommend this recipe to those of you who enjoy a good shrimp dish.

It's an easy recipe and the results are worth scouring your grocery store twice for fish sauce. (Though I'd avoid taking a whiff of the actual stuff.)

With summer right around the corner, seafood and salads and fresh produce are calling my name. (I just made a Creole Shrimp Risotto last week. A-mazing. Also from the cookbook I recommended last week. Have you ordered it yet???)  

Curry & Coconut Shrimp over Rice

Curry & Coconut Shrimp over Rice

1/4 cup coconut milk
3 Tbsp. red bell pepper (finely chopped)
1 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
1.5 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. curry powder
1.5 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 cups water
3 cups hot, cooked basmati rice
lemon wedges, to garnish

1.  Combine first 7 ingredients in a ziploc bag. Add the shrimp and seal. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, turning halfway through.  Place shrimp in a 10" pie plate.
2.  Open a small metal vegetable steamer; place steamer upside-down in a large saucepan.  Add water and bring to a simmer.  Wearing oven mits, carefully place the pie plate with shrimp on top of the steamer. (Make sure the plate is balanced.) Cover and cook for 4 minutes, until shrimp are done.  Remove the pie plate.
3.  Serve shrimp over rice and garnish with lemon wedges.

Please tell me what recipes you're looking forward to trying this season!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fresh and New

I'm so excited about this new look for the blog! Clean and fresh and bright!

I still have quite a bit of "tidying up" and organizing planned as far as the content goes, so bear with me over the next week or so...there will be a few more minor changes!

It was a pleasure to work with Marina of Penny Lane Designs...she exceeded my expectations!

We have a full Easter weekend it's also a birthday weekend around here for my sweet Brent!

I hope you have a blessed Easter!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I've been devouring a new cookbook.



My Mom recently gave me a copy of this:

And I love it.

Southern My Way is full of flavor and makes dinnertime come together quickly. Southern flavor...with new flair. My only complaint is that I've almost exhausted the main least the ones that all my family can eat. (She has several amazing-looking shrimp recipes, but the younger members of our family are wary of eating shrimp again.)

Being a native Texan, the only thing I had a hard time adopting in North Carolina (which was and always will seem like "home") was their version of BBQ. Pork. Chicken. Vinegar-based BBQ sauce. I didn't buy it. Give me beef brisket and thick, sweetly spicy sauce.

Then Brent and I lived in eastern NC after we got married. And sometimes we ate at Wilber's. I'm sure I always brought up brisket. And Vitek's of Waco, TX.

But I didn't realize how much it had grown on me there in eastern North Carolina until last week.

With this recipe, I think I've learned that there's a tiny bit of room on my palate for that vinegar-sauce, made this time, thanks to Gena Knox, with turkey.

Marinated Turkey

I tweaked her recipe a allow for my crock-pot and for a few ingredients that were missing from my pantry.

5-6 lb turkey breast (I used frozen and boneless)

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar plus white wine vinegar to equal one cup
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/8 cup vegetable oil
1/8 cup freshly ground black pepper (I used about half of this amount)
1/8 cup kosher salt

whole grain sandwich buns

1. Place turkey breast in a crockpot. (I removed any turkey skin first.)

(When opening, be careful not to puncture the enclosed gravy bag. Trust me.)

2. Combine all marinade ingredients together in a small bowl. Pour the marinade over the turkey. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.

3. When cooked through, turkey should be fork-tender. Remove turkey breast to a large bowl. Ladle all marinade into a large measuring cup and refrigerate. Meanwhile, using two forks, shred the turkey. Cover and keep warm in a serving bowl.

4. When marinade has cooled, drizzle over the turkey in bowl. Serve on sandwich buns...although it is delicious on it's own as well.

And if you don't already have the cookbook, you should definitely put it on your list! I'll be making a risotto and a pie from it later this week...I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Within 3 days...

our view from our kitchen window went from this:

(She's such a great big sister.)

to this:
(last Friday...when we had the hardest winds I've ever seen here. I actually witnessed the wind pick up the edge and then just push it over, as if it were made of popsicle sticks.)

to this:
(surveying the damage Saturday morning...and "SuperDad" coming up with a gameplan.)

to this:
Saturday evening, reinforced with a new stronger center beam.
It was such a calm day.

The damage here was nothing compared to what others experienced.
My heart aches for those who lost homes and loved ones.

Thursday, April 07, 2011


It's a funny thing, isn't it?

Perspective. Vantage point. Angle. Mindset. Attitude.

Take this shot, for example. A picture that my Mom took of my little Madeleine. Sweet. Rosy cheeks from playing at the playground.

Wonder what she's smiling at...what has her attention...

Ah, that would be me.

With my camera. (She was all smiles for us at the park. A regular little model.)

And I love the picture that I see. That I captured. But I think I like the other perspective even better...the way someone else captured her looking at me.

So, I'm trying to keep perspective fresh on my mind. About how a slightly different perspective on my part can change my attitude.

For instance, in situations like this one that I stumbled upon this morning:

Hmmm. My first perspective labels this a mess. Disaster zone. Frustration-in-cleaning to come. (And that unmade bed? Not unmade from the night before. Unmade from this Mommy making it within the past hour of said picture.)

My first instinct is to have them clean immediately. Because we have items to check off my list and school to do and I do not like mess and I need to run some errands too.

And then I enter the room. And see this face:

Beaming. Delighted in his creation.

(And a three-year old not quite sure yet if Mom likes it or not.)

And this face:
Mischievious. Excited at their play.

And so I choose to change perspective.

From mess to creation.
From frustrated to content.
From rigid to flexible.
From weary to welcome.

Isn't this what I want? My children playing together? Involved in imaginative play? They were fixing "leaks" with extra blankets. Working together. Problem solving.

And their delight? It grew exponentially when they saw my delight in them. So we played together. And yes, a few things that were important to me didn't get done today.

But in the bigger picture (the perspective that I'll have one day) this morning was time well spent.

Because those most important to me (and their interests) came first.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Oreos and Brownies? Yes, please.

Oreos are one of my two store-bought cookie weaknesses. (The other is Vienna Fingers. I inherited that from my mom. You have to chill them in the fridge, just so you know. )

I saw this recipe on Pinterest...and I just had to try it.

I decided to make these while my parents were visiting last week...because, well, just because. I don't really ever need an excuse to bake, but company definitely qualifies as a reason to bake. And bake well. And my Dad likes Oreos. He's in good company. ;)

Why have I never thought of putting Oreos in brownies? I've put them in sugar cookies...yum. And brownies, trust me--delicious as well.

Oreos and Cream Brownies
1 box Brownie Mix (I went for the most decadent, chocolatey Ghirardelli box I could find...Chocolate Supreme)
vegetable oil
6 oz. vanilla ice cream (I used Edy's Double Vanilla)
1 package Oreo cookies
1/4 cup hot fudge, room temperature

1. Preheat oven according to your brownie mix directions. Spray an 8x8 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2.In a large bowl, combine the brownie mix, eggs and oil. (Follow your brownie's directions for the egg and oil amounts.)

3. In a small bowl, make your own cookies and cream ice cream: combine vanilla ice cream with 4-6 Oreo cookies, breaking the cookies as you stir into smaller pieces. Feel free to use more or less Oreos to suit your taste. (I will use more next time, but I wanted to make sure I had enough cookies to use in the brownies.) Pour ice cream and hot fudge into the brownie mix:

Continue to stir until all brownie mix is moistened. (I was concerned at first that there wasn't enough liquid, but the fudge and ice cream solve the problem!)

4. Place half of the brownie mix in pan, spreading to cover the bottom evenly. Place one layer of Oreo cookies over the mix. I used between 16-20, cutting some in half to fill in gaps along the edge of the pan. Then spoon remaining batter evenly over Oreo layer, spreading carefully to cover.

5. Bake according to package directions, about 40-50 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving. These are delicious warm...but even better the next day!

I think it would be fun to crumble Oreos over the top before baking as well! And don't forget to eat an Oreo or two while baking...we did!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Sounds of spring...

One of my favorite sounds of spring is the return of songbirds to our trees.

The other day, as I was walking through the house, I could hear the sweetest songs of birds chirping in our backyard. Madeleine had just watched Cinderella, and it almost sounded like that opening scene, with the birds helping to ready Cinderella for her day.

The sound of their song surprised me, for I had missed that song without even realizing its absence.

I loved catching these two silhouettes unaware outside my kitchen window. Lovely, aren't they?

And I was delighted to see this one fly off, feathering her nest with some treasure from our planter.

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