Thursday, December 20, 2012

I had one more vacation day to use this year (other than the 5 that I am allowed to roll over for next year -- to spend time with the baby).  I wanted to break up my last week (of the year) and avoid making a presentation this afternoon, so I took off today. 

I woke up this morning, collected the trash, took the trash out to the curb, stripped the bed of the sheets, and started a first load of laundry.  

Then I went to Walmart (I HATE THAT STORE, I haven't been in over 2 months, but I had to go to Sams Club and it was right there, plus, I needed things like bandaids, eye drops, and toothpaste, and you can't find those cheaper at other grocery stores).   It always takes forever to get through the lines in Walmart; I should learn to bring a book or something to do.  We have 4 smoke detectors in our house (yes, four) and one of them decided to start beeping two nights ago and interrupt our sleep. So, I was looking for square batteries at Walmart... I asked 3 people and no one could help me (one person was stocking batteries in a display and 2 in electronics).

Afterwards, I quickly ran in Kohls to see if they still had this maternity swimsuit on the clearance rack for $20 that I saw two weeks ago.  It was still there and it had been marked down even further to $10.20.  What?!? I also found a pair of maternity capris for $3.75.  My total savings were $104.05 (according to my recipe).  ha.


Next it was in to Sam's Club to pick up some baking supplies and chocolate to make chocolate covered pretzels. 

My next two stops were at Uptown Cheapskate, where I found two shirts (originally dresses -- yes, dresses... see the picture below) and Panera (for internet and lunch (smokehouse turkey with a side of onions - yum yum yum.  It is my FAVORITE!! )).  Thanks to everyone that gives us gift cards to food places.  I love coming to Panera or Chick-fil-A and not having to pay my money.  It is such a treat!!

The rest of my day will consist of stopping at Food Lion for milk and clementines (which are on a super sale), Sears (for nursing bras and weights), washing more clothes, putting the sheets back on the bed, cleaning the living room, making cinnamon buns for my employees and Jared's company Christmas breakfast tomorrow, possibly a nap, and maybe cleaning Michelle's room... If I have time I would like to sew some sheets for the baby, but I think that is going to have to wait until next week when I am off.

Are you doing anything exciting for Christmas?  We plan to relax and spent as much time with our families as possible. 

That baby squirms around all the time, expect when my family wants to feel him.  He was unusually still last night even thought Anna and I tried to poke him to get him to move, however, he has made up for it this morning.   I have found that I have heartburn in the afternoon if I don't eat an afternoon snack, but I am usually not hungry because my stomach is squished.   I have to remind myself to eat something small or else I will be popping 7 tums like I did yesterday to make the heartburn go away.  Otherwise, I haven't found too many other things to complain about.  I have to sit up straight now or the baby digs into my ribs, which is nice for my posture at work.  I am definitely getting more tired and can't do as much around work and home.  But what should I expect when I am lugging around an extra 30 pounds and feeding an active little baby.  We still have no names picked out.  It is way too stressful to think that our son will be stuck with whatever we pick for the rest of his life.  I don't find the idea of naming a girl as daunting. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

The longer I am away from the internet, the more I dislike it when I return to it.  Does anyone else experience this?  I love looking up recipes and craft ideas, but I enjoy looking those things up in a book just as much (or even more).  There is something solid and familiar about a book.  I like the quickness of finding a recipe through a search engine, but I love pouring over old favorite cookbooks and stumbling on recipes that I might want to try, while searching for another recipe. 

I do miss the chance to skype and chat with friends that live farther away, but I have a phone and it seems to work pretty well to stay in touch.  I guess what I am saying is that I don't feel like I am missing out on anything by not being connected and that I actually enjoy being unplugged from computers and the internet (I am perfectly aware that this might change once I have a baby and we spend hours of time together by ourselves).  But for now, I enjoy it and I am thankful for a husband that does not require internet or cable tv for any of his pursuits. 

Since it is almost thanksgiving, I suppose I should do a post about being thankful... but I would rather go home and clean my kitchen.  Maybe there will be time next Monday when I am in lab to through together some words about how thankful I am to be alive.  There is so much of life that I am thankful for (and I am even more thankful the more I meet ungrateful, miserable people).  That God for joy and peace. 

Happy Thanksgiving!! 
(It is my favorite holiday)

More posts will come about some new recipes that I have tried recently (including gingerbread cupcakes, gyros (bread and meat), and marshmallows and hot chocolate).

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Wise word of the day: When the Gap model looks bad in a shirt, you should not buy it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Random things

Just in case you were wondering...I was half joking when I suggested it because my list of boys name is so scarce (I think I might have half a dozen names that I might like, but nothing that really stands out to me), but Jared has said, "no" to the name Gilbert.  ha ha.

In other news, I was told at work the other day that I look like a Norman Rockwell picture (specifically the one of the girl with a slingshot and over sized baseball cap).  Since then I have nicknamed baby Shelton, "Rockwell".  It sounds a little more manly than Muffin (which my siblings have been calling him). 

It has been beautiful out lately, I walked around the SU campus Tuesday just for fun.  The leaves are changing and it is the perfect temperature.  I love fall!






Wednesday, October 17, 2012

 
 
 Baby at 12 weeks (2" long).


Baby at 22 weeks (12' long). I am pretty much living in dresses and leggings (or stockings) these days.  They are so comfortable!!

We go to the ultrasound place to get updated pictures of Rockwell today (by today, I mean last Wednesday - for some reason this post did not post until now).  If they are good, I will post them someday (the only photo I like is of his long feet).  I think he looks like an orc (from LOTR) in his 20 week pictures because of the way the screen blurs the edges.  Please, ignore the pile of reusable grocery bags that are waiting to go back out to my car.  I was so proud of myself for remembering them on Saturday when I went grocery shopping. 

I made gumbo this weekend and I am eating it for lunch each day (with extra Tabasco sauce) and it doesn't seem to be killing me.  The only thing right now that is giving me heartburn is tomato sauce (oh spaghetti and lasagna and stuffed shells I miss you).

I have 6 labs down this semester and 6 more to go.  I can't believe the semester is half way finished already.  It is so much easier to teach a class that you have taught before (even better if you have taught it 3 times before).  This week's lab was on electricity and motors; it is my favorite lab. 

Verse of the day:
"...In love he predestined us for adoption ..."

I have been marvelling at that portion of the verse today.  I have never noticed the, "in love" part before or it just never stuck out to me. I love how deep the Bible is.  I look forward to reading it to our little baby.  He will probably point out things to me that I have never noticed and ask me questions that make me rethink things I thought I knew.   

Okay here is the rest:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,"

(Ephesians 1:3-5 ESV)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Clothes Shopping

To my non pregnant friends (and ones without kids): Maternity clothes are expensive.

Here are a few tips that I have assembled that will save you quite a bit of money.
  1. Shop the maternity racks for dresses and tops now (and pants and shorts if you are brave). I have at least 5 or 6 dresses that I bought on clearance racks for $5 of $6, that would have cost me $35 or $40 if I bought them full price. The Target clearance rack is a jackpot of beautiful clothing. Kohl’s can also have some sales; they are hit or miss.
  2. Buy dresses that are roomy in the waist and chest. I have 4 or 5 dresses that are non maternity that I still wear and will for a few more months.
  3. Buy shirts that are a little bit roomy, but also make sure they are long. Roomy short shirts will not work as your stomach expands; they also need to be long. Empire waist shirts are wonderful.
  4. Find pregnancy leggings on sale or else roll the tops down (or buy low rise) normal leggings. $24 for maternity leggings is not happening!!
  5. Motherhood Maternity has the best (super comfy) nursing bras (and they are cheap on sale). They have sales at department stores and at the outlets.
Think about it now or spend extra money later. Buy things now!! I have been saving shirts, dresses, and pants since I got married. I have only bought a pair of dress pants and one shirt so far (at full price).
  1. Lastly, borrow if you can. Jeanne lent me a pair of maternity jeans, which are so comfortable (I have worn them every Friday for casual Friday (the last 3 weeks) because the GAP jeans I bought are a bit too big still). Linnea sent me her maternity pea coat (in purple, my favorite color) and Jeanne lent me her pea coat (in black, so classy). So, I will be warm this winter. Bring on the snow.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Baby names

Here was my list before we found out the gender:

Girls
Evelyn Grace
Rose (middle name of second girl)
Louisa Anne
Virginia and Georgia (twins)
Emma
Elsie
Violet
Margaret
Ella
Lucy
Julianna
Eliza
Adeline
Amelia
Blaise Isabel (just because you can rearrange blaise to get isabel -- ha ha)
Olivia

Boys
...
...
...

So, I wasn't surprised to learn that we were having a boy because life is just funny like that.  I love so many girl names and have no strong feelings towards boys names at all.  Well, at least I have 19 weeks to prepare.

I just realized in typing that list that I really like vowel names for girls. Maybe if we have 5 girls someday I will name them A, E, I, O, and U. I just need a U name. I am just kidding. But if they are girls, it looks like they will be a nice mix of A and E names.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

So, I have a confession to make, when I cook a recipe for the first time I rarely follow it (unless I am baking, sometimes).  I throw most of the ingredients into a pan and mix it up for maybe the number of minutes that it calls for (or maybe shorter if I am not patient, which is usually how it goes).  This makes it extremely hard to write down what I cook to tell you about it. 

I made a recipe based on one I found online on a food blog that I read, realsweeteats. However, I didn't measure my squash, want to use browned butter, or have fontina cheese.  I also didn't measure my chicken broth or milk or pasta (which may have been the rest of a box of springs and elbows).

Here is what I did.  I will try to follow my own recipe next time and test to see if this comes out the same.  Maybe you are having the same reaction that I had when I first read cheese and squash together in a recipe, but believe me, it is delicious!!

Ingredients (my ingredients are in ( ):
(some - the rest of two boxes in cupboard) 3 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta shells
(1 - cooked whole in oven for half and hour to make cutting up easier) 4 cups 1/2-inch cubed uncooked butternut squash
(a dash, maybe 1 T) 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
(1/6) 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
(1/2 cup) 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
(3/4ish of a cup - I just poured it in) 1 1/2 cups skim milk (or unsweetened almond or coconut)
(I have no idea, I used the rest of a block, probably 4 or 5 oz) 6 ounces freshly grated fontina cheese (extra sharp cheddar)
2 ounces freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted brown butter2 tablespoons fine (panko) breadcrumbs

For those of you that have cut butternut squash before, I learned a trick today: put the whole squash in the oven for 20 -30 minutes, pull in out, and it will be nearly all the way cooked and so easy to slice through the skins.  I let it cool off a little, peeled off the skin, diced it up, and threw it in a pan with a little bit of olive oil.  I also added the seasonings. 

I let it cook for a while, because I was grating the cheese, before added in the chicken broth and some of the cheese.  Save some of the sharp cheese to put on the top with the bread crumbs (yum yum yum, the bread crumbs make this dish even more amazing). 

Dump everything, once the cheese is melted into a pan, top with rest of cheese and bread crumbs, put in oven to cook (or if you are hungry, broil it for a few minutes until the cheese and bread crumbs start to brown). 

Baby muffin (as my siblings call him) and I fully enjoyed this meal (no heartburn, unlike most other foods, I am looking at you pulled BBQ pork and beef stew sitting in my frig).

Does anyone else love butternut squash?  Everytime I eat it I think, why do I not eat this more often?  They sell butternut squash for $2 a piece at the farmers market downtown.   While I was quite envious of Boulder's expansive farmer's market, I am thankful for my cheap source of butternut squash here.  I hope they have more this Saturday!!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Favorite Oatmeal Cinnamon Whole Wheat Bread


This is one of Jared and my favorite recipes!!  I am sure it would be even better if I didn't substitute applesauce for the shortning.  :)

Ingredients:
4-1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 c. warm water
1-1/2 c. quick cooking oats
1-2/3 c. warm milk
1/2 c. applesauce (or shortning)
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp salt
5 - 5-1/2 c. flour (whole wheat or white - I use whole wheat)

Swirl ingredients:
2/3 c. sugar
4 tsp cinnamon
handfuls of raisins (optional)

1. Dissove yeast in water.  Add oats, milk, applesauce, 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, salt, and 2 cups flour.  Mix 3 minutes.  Add enough flour to make a soft dough.  Again, I do air on the side of softer doughs so that they rise properly.  Also, I don't knead my dough or use the bread hook.  I just use the paddle attachment on the kitchenaid and let it run a little longer.  I also do not put in a greased bowl.  I leave it in the kitchenaid bowl and cover with a wet dishcloth.

2. Rise 1 hour.

3. Punch down.  Divide in half.  Roll 16x8.  I use a cookie sheet with a lip for this part so that I do not get flour all over my counter.  Sprinkle with water.  Sprinkle half the swirl mixture.  I also add raisins at this point.  I just sprinkle a bunch on top of the sugar mixture.  

4.  Roll jelly roll style.  Pinch to seal (I sort of do this).  Make sure to place the seam at the bottom of the pan.   Place rolled up dough, seam down, in a greased bread pan. 

5. Cover and let rise for 30 - 45 minutes. 

6. Bake at 350 for 35 - 45 minutes. 

7. Leave in pan for a few minutes when it comes out of the oven.  

8.  Cool on wire rack. 

9. Slice and enjoy.  

I love the way a cut loaf looks. 

Jared and I love to toast this with butter.  Since this recipe makes two loaves, we usually slice both loaves and freeze most of the slices.  They are easy to pull out of the freezer and throw in the toaster to heat up.  Yum yum yum.

 

English Muffins

I originally found this recipe here:
The Frugal Girl (includes lots of pictures with each step)


These are so simple (and in the summer you don't have to even warm up the oven).  I try to keep a bag of them in my freezer to grab on my way to work.  I love them fork-split and toasted with honey and butter.  Yum!!  I keep meaning to make the cinnamon raisin version, but I stick with the whole wheat each time. Someday.

Ingredients:

1 c. warm water
2-1/2 tsp yeast
1 c. warm milk
2 T. sugar
1-1/2 tsp salt
3 T butter
5 cups flour (white or whole wheat, I use whole wheat)

I put everything in the kitchen aid mixer and stir it up. I am not a fan of multiple dirty bowls.

1. First, I add the yeast and water.

2. Then I mix in the milk, sugar, salt, and butter.  The water and milk are somewhere between 100 - 115 degrees.

3. I don't hand knead my dough, I just mix it in the mixer for a little bit longer. Add the flour until the dough is still a bit wet. Dry dough is the enemy of rising.  Thus, I usually air on the side of softer, stickier dough and add flour when I roll it out to prevent sticking.

4. Rise 1 hour.

5. Punch down let rest 10 min. on surface sprinkled with corn meal.

6. Roll out dough to 1/2" thichness

7. Cut out with 3" biscuit cutter and place on ungreased baking sheet.



8. Cover with dry towel. Let rise 30 min - 1 hour

9. Warm up griddle or pan to medium (I use 4 on my stove) heat.   I have also cooked these on a pizza stone in the oven so that I can cook more at one time.

10. Gently place each muffin in pan.

11. Cook 5 -10 minutes on each side, depending on heat (I find they cook faster and the second side takes a much shorter time).

12. Cool on wire rack.

13. Split with fork, enjoy with honey!! (my favorite)

Or homemade blueberry jam...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Projects

Now that I have some energy and I am not sleeping all the time, I have started looking at quilt patterns again. Here are some of my favorites.

Moda Quilt.  I am not to sold on the fabric choice, but I like the grey background.  I usually use light backgrounds and this makes me rethink some of my other patterns.  I doubt there are ways to go wrong with Moda fabric and quilts.  I love that they give away patterns on their website: Moda Bake Shop. 

More Moda Bake Shop goodness.  I love these fabrics and this pattern.  It looks super simple.  You will probably see this quilt in my near future.


Giant Star Throw.  I am thinking of using this pattern to make a few throw blankets for people to use up some of my fabric.  Of course, it will not be as lightly colored as this fabric, but I like the pattern.


Plus Plus Plus.  I have seen this quilt several places and it has been on my list for a while. It is probably the math person in me that LOVES the way this pattern turns out.


This is made with alternating hot and cold fabrics. I don't think I have enough blues and purples to pull this off. But I am keeping my eyes out for fabric scraps to make this.  If anyone wants to donate little fabric scraps to me, I am always willing to take them.  This is high up on my list of quilts to make.  I just need to fabric. :) But I am not buying any fabric until I use up some of my other fabric.  Thus, this is lower on my list than I would like.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Louvre!! My favorite place in Paris.

 All the ceilings look like this. Incredible.


 "I used to rule the world..."
 Mummys

 "Gleaming in the moonlight..."

The moat under the Louvre from when it used to be a castle. What?!? So cool.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Grilled Potatoes and cheese

So, my Dad grew yellow and red potatoes in his garden this year.  I am blessed enough to be his daughter, which means I am given free potatoes.  I never realized that potatoes could taste better fresh, but they really do!!  Last night I had to run back out, after work, to VBS decorating.  Thus, I needed a quick meal.  The following recipe is what I came up with; I will definitely make theses again.

Grilled Potatoes and Cheese (and broccoli and green onions)

1a. Poke holes in potatoes with a knife.  This is the fun part.  I probably poke way too many holes in my potatoes just because it is fun to stab them. Place on a plate or dish with a little bit of water.  Microwave on high 4 - 10 minutes depending on the size of potato.  You may want to rotate them.  I poke at them some more with the knife to see how done they are.

1b.  While they are cooking, turn on grill to medium.

2. Once they are close to being fully cooked, removed from microwave and smash.  I took a heavy bottomed glass and pounded on them a few times, just to break them up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Grease a piece of tin foil and place on a grill over medium heat.  Place on smashed potatoes. Leave on grill for 5 - 7 minutes.

4. Grate cheese (I used Cheddar and Parmesan), chopped up green onions, and cook broccoli.

5. Flip potatoes over.  Sprinkle with cheese and green onions.  Let cook 4 -6 more minutes. Sprinkle on broccoli loosely chopped up.  Cook another 3 -5 minutes.

6. Slide airbake cookie sheet under the tinfoil. Turn off grill.  Carry inside.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fresh food!!!

My parents have invited us over 3 times in the last week for yummy food out of their garden. :)  Do you know how happy this makes me?!?  I love food from the garden.  

The first night we went over for corn and green beans, but the corn was not quite ready (we each ate one tiny little ear). The second night we at green beans and made homemade peach and strawberry ice cream.  The third night, last night, we had all you could eat corn and green beans.  My mother also made cauliflower and cheese and ribs.  Cauliflower is one of my favorite foods; it is one of the only foods that Jared does not eat.  So, when I have it at other people's houses, I am happy.

I had half a rib last night. The rest of what I ate was green beans (cooked with bacon, of course), corn, and cauliflower and cheese. I have listed two (simple) recipes below for my benefit so that I can look them up whenever I need to. Green beans from the garden are in my top 5 foods of all times list.  I would pass by a bunch of other foods to have a bowl of green beans cooked with bacon.  Yum yum yum.

Green Beans with Bacon
Fry bacon in pan
Add green beans
Add water to cover
Cook until not quite limp
Drain water and serve

Cauliflower
Put a 1/2 - 1" water in a pan
Cut up cauliflower head
Sprinkle a bit of salt
Cook until finished

Thanks to my parents for WONDERFUL food and for cooking for us!  It was fun to spend the evening with my family. They are my favorite people (especially when they cook for me).  My Dad sent me home with potatoes, green beans, squash, and cucumbers from the garden.  And my mom packed up the leftovers so that I could eat green beans and corn for my lunch today!!!!!!  I was looking forward to my lunch ALL DAY TODAY!!

We also spent Monday night at the Shelton's with more good food and family time with our niece and nephews.  We played Tornado Rex and Blockus with the kids.  Bright and I won blockus and Krue and I came in second in Tornado Rex.  It is always fun to see my niece and nephews.  They are hilarious.  My parents-in-law loaded us down with fresh peaches and a new garden hose when we left the house. 

I love having family live so close by.  It is great fun to see them all so often.  I am so thankful that both sets of our parents live close by.  We really enjoy visiting them (and having them cook for us) often.  :)  Praise God for family!!

Saturday, July 07, 2012

BBQ Chicken Taquitos

I was hopping from food blog to food blog last night and I came accross this recipe.  It looked so good and I knew I had all the ingredients so this morning I made these.  They were delicious and super easy!!

Baked BBQ Pork (or Chicken) Taquitos
Based on this recipe (with my own twist):
http://www.pink-parsley.com/2012/05/baked-bbq-pork-taquitos.html

3 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature (reduced-fat is fine)

1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder (or 1 garlic clove, minced)
1/2 tsp mustard powder (I never have mustard powder and used mustard instead)
1/2 tsp brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup diced onion
3 green onions, diced
2 cups shredded cooked pork or chicken (I already had BBQ shredded chicken in my frig, so I cut out the BBQ sauce the recipe called for and just added my already made chicken)
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
8-10 (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas
cooking spray

The original recipe also calls for:
2 Tbs minced fresh cilantro or parsley

hot sauce (optional)
liquid smoke
red pepper flakes
BBQ sauce
Ranch Dressing and/or BBQ Sauce, for serving


The original recipe called for these to be made in the oven, but it is over 100 degrees outside.  Turning on the oven is crazy.  I turned on my grill instead. I find that the grill ends of making things crispier and with a better flavor in the long run.  I grill my pizza all year long, even in the winter.


Chop the onion and green onions. 

In a bowl, combine everything but the chicken and shredded cheese.  Mix the cream cheese mixture until it softens up a bit.  Mix in the shredded cheese and chicken. Set aside.

Put 4 or 5 tortillas on a plate, cover with a damp dish towel, and microwave for 30 - 40 seconds.  The tortillas should be easy to roll after being microwaved.  I used corn tortillas.

Spoon mixture (2 - 4 TBS) onto the lower third of the tortilla and roll tightly.  Place seam side-down on a plate that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Spray the top of each tortilla with cooking spray and sprinkle with a bit of salt.  Repeat until all the mixture is gone.
Place seam side down on the grill (med - low heat) and cook for 5 or 6 minutes.  Rotate.  Cook for 5 or 6 more minutes.  It will really depend on your grill for how long you will cook them.  Also, watch for the cheese to drip down and cause flames to come up and burn the tortillas.  This happened to my last batch that I cooked, but it ended up being okay because I caught it in time. 
 
The recipe calls to serve these with BBQ sauce or ranch dressing as a dip, but I just ate them plain.  I will definitely make these again!!  Yum.  It is a great way to use up shredded pork or chicken that you have as leftovers.  :)

Friday, June 08, 2012

The tale of 3 ho(s)tels.


This was the smallest hotel room I have ever stayed in.  It didn't have a phone or alarm clock (so I slept with the window open so the light would wake me up). The shower was all by it self in a little closet, which leaked all over the floor when you used it. We decided that it was like staying at a nice hostel.  It was no where close to being a hotel.  And plus, they served us bread and nutella for breakfast.  No fruit, no meat. Just lots and lots of bread.  Oh, and no soap or shampoo or a trash can or closet.



Here is a picture of my hostel. There were 10 beds in this place. I went to bed at 10:30. The lights were finally turned off around midnight.  There were only 4 of us in the room at that time.  About 5 minutes later (12:05) until 2:30 the lights came back on and stayed on because the other 5 girls that were staying there decided it would be easier for them to get ready for bed.  Also, see those metal lockers under the bed... worst idea ever. They are so loud.  Anyhow, option one seemed really nice compared to this.  Breakfast stank.  It was only one choose of bread and nutella served on smudged plates and glasses. Bleh.

And this is the last place that I am staying.  I am on the inner ground floor on a garden (see picture at the bottom).   It is lovely.  It is quiet.  The temperature is perfect.  I have huge floor to ceiling windows.  The bed is super comfortable.  It is a bit of a ride to get into Paris, but I am going to Versailles tomorrow and then the airport the next day.  So, it is nice.  I am tempted to stay here all day tomorrow and rest, but you aren't in Paris everyday.  :)  Oh, and there is soap and shampoo and conditioner and tea in my room (and a nail file and laundry bag). This is more like what I am used to.

On that note, my feet have at least 4 blisters (you would have laughed at me trying to explain band-aid to the guy at the drugstore... he spoke no english... I don't have a clue what the word for band-aid is... I sort of drew the shape and then acted out the motions of pulling of the tabs and putting it on my finger).  And my legs and feet are so tired and hurt so much, but I refused to stop walking today.  There is so much to see.  But, boy am I tired.

More to come when I come home and upload REAL photos.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Pictures of pictures of Part 1 of my trip

Cheapest Lobster Roll in Maine!!! Delicious.

While we were in Vermont, it was sunny.  We went cameoing, rope swinging, explored an island, went antiquing, visited the cutest little cheese and maple sugar farm, and visited the Huntingtons. The night before we left for Maine, it poured (thank, God for our cabin).  Since, neither Jared nor I brought raincoats and I didn't bring any pants (just skirts and shorts), we stopped at the outlets to find ourselves some rainy weather gear. 
 It was a good thing because it rained for three straight days!!  Poured and poured buckets of water down on our heads as we dodged in and out of shops. I was very thankful for my new rain boats and rain coat.  And I will be even more grateful for my raincoat when I get to Paris and it rains the entire times I am there too. 
 I miss him.
 But he gave me his muffin (what a sweet Jared, I am married to). These are the most amazing muffins that our innkeeper's husband makes.  They are delicious. I am going to figure out their secret this time. :)  Maybe in the SIX hours that I have to sit in the airport I will figure it out.
I love you Jared.  You are the best person that I have ever met and my favorite person ever!!  Don't forget about me while I am gone; I wish you could have come with me.  Be the best Felix ever!!  I think you are wonderful.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cinnamon Buns & Cream Cheese Frosting

This is a recipe that is modified from Taste of Home's annual best recipe cookbook (that Hannah gave me at my wedding shower - and remains one of my favorite cookbooks). If you all have never read a TOH cookbook or magazine, you are missing out.  It is probably the greatest cooking magazine because all the recipes are sent in from the readers and they are all tested out.  Sure, there are some duds in the mix, but for the most part, I usually like the majority of the recipes.

cinnamon buns (makes a lot - I usually half or quarter this recipe - what do I mean by a lot? It can fill 4ish 13x9 pans, if you make the rolls big: 12 x 4 = 48, if you make them smaller, like me: 24 x 4 = 96)

11 to 12 c flour
3/4 c sugar
7 tsp yeast
3 tsp salt
3-1/2 c warm (105 - 115) water
1 cup oil or applesauce
3 eggs

Combine 8 cups of flour and the next 3 ingredients. Mix a few times in your mixer. Add the warm water while still mixing.  Most of the time I add the applesauce to the water before I add it because I heat the water too much and the applesauce will cool it down a bit. Lastly, add the egg. Mix well with paddle.  Add another 2 - 4 cups of flour.  Tend towards the side of caution with yeast dough, leave it a bit wet if you have any doubts. Cover with wet towel; let rise 1 hour (funny comment here: I had always let this rise for 45 minutes to an hour. Well, I just read the directions and it only tells you to let it rest for 15 min).

Punch the dough down.  Divide into 4 sections (or 1 or 2 if you are halfing or quartering this). Let rest a few minutes. Roll each section out (one at a time).  I have this big cookie sheet with edges that I like to use (it is about 24 x 16).  It contains the flour so that I don't have the scrap and bunch of flour off my counter after I am finished.

Filling:
1/2 c. melted butter
1 c sugar
2 T cinnamon
optional: 1 c pecans
optional: 1 c raisins

Spread 2T of melted butter on each of the rolled out sections. Mix 1/4 c sugar and 1.5 tsp cinnamon together.  Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the melted butter.  Sprinkle with raisins and nuts, if desired. 

Roll the dough up (make the roll shorter if you want fewer, but bigger rolls, roll it up the long side if you want more, smaller rolls). Slice the rolls. I think I make them about an inch thick... maybe more... maybe less depending on how I am feeling.  They all taste good.  You just have to watch how long you cook them depending on how you cut them.  Place in a pan with edges. Cover with damp towel.  Let rise 15 - 30 minutes or so.  Or you can place them in the frig and let them rise overnight... If you are planning on doing this I suggest decreasing the yeast by at least half.

Place in preheated oven at 425 for 10 - 18 minutes (depending on the size).  Cool slightly.  Frost.

Frosting:
I eat this icing by the spoonful with a nice tall glass of milk.  This is how much I make for a half batch.  I would double this recipe if you are going to make the whole batch.  I have never made the whole batch.
1 package cream cheese
1/4 c. butter
3 - 3-1/2 c powdered sugar
1.5 tsp vanilla
2 - 5 T cream, milk, half and half, water...etc.

Enjoy.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Favorite dip from my favorite 1st grade Sunday School teacher

This is a recipe from Mrs. Render, with a few of my additions and subtractions.

Bottom layer:
1 can refried beans
1 can pinto or black beans or (not a can) of ground hamburger
1 lime juiced
2 - 3 T of taco powder
1 can mexican lime and cilantro rotel (brand) tomatoes 
optional: 1 can corn

Middle layer:
grated cheese
optional: guac (I usually leave this out because I eat this over several days)

Top layer:
diced green onions
diced green, red, or yellow peppers
optional: diced tomatoes (I am indifferent)
optional: cilantro (jared doesn't like)
optional: diced olives (I don't like)

I eat this for lunch and dinner many days. It is very easy to throw together. Eat it with some good chips or on a pile of lettuce or spinach. Yum.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Random bits of life:
* I picked 18 quarts of strawberries last night.  It was lovely.  Picking strawberries is one of my favorite activities.

* I took my parents some strawberries. My Dad gave me almost 2 pounds of asparagus and a vase full of roses and I was able to see my parents and favorite two youngest siblings.  I definitely received the better end of the deal.

* I am very proud of my siblings, all of them. Whenever I have a chance to mention how awesome they are, I usually do.  It makes me sad that other people don't seem to enjoy spending time with their family. I am very thankful for mine.

* I am glad I have a talented, smart little brother and I am glad I have multiple, beautiful sisters.

* I am playing in a soccer tournament on Saturday.  Yikes.

* I reserved my spot in Paris for June!!  In the first two weeks of June, I am working only 1 and a half days, taking 2 vacation days, 1 holiday, and being paid for 5 days in Europe.  It is going to be sweet (catching up on the work on all my teams is NOT going to be sweet, but I am not going to think about that until I come back -  ha).

* Jared is really funny.  If you have a chance you should come and see him play Felix Unger in the Odd couple in the 3rd and 4th weekends in June.   

* The longer I work, the more thankful I am for all those HORRIBLE engineering projects and teams that I was on.  It has completely and fully prepared me for the real world of terrible projects and crazy people. It is amazing to me that many of these people are in positions of authority. Moreover, it is even more incredible to me that the world works.  God must really hold the whole thing together.  I don't think that verse in Colossians just means that he holds the universe (matter) together, which I believe he does too, but also the every working of people and their stupidity. 

* I really like the new slogan on Ikea's new catalogs.  This is one more reason I love Ikea! I could not more fully agree ("A home does not have to be big, just smart").  That is how my brain sees the world.  I see spaces and I think about the most efficient use of a space.  I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to work for them!!! That is my dream engineering job.  Yes, owning my own Bed and Breakfast is still top of my list. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Gumbo!

I finally did it; I finally made gumbo. I had made jambalaya before (what is the difference you ask because I did before I made them, simply (and this is really a simple explanation), one is a red based (tomatoes) and one is a brown base (roux).  They have many of the same ingredients and they are both served over rice. It was that roux that was scaring me away from making this. On a whim I decided to whip some up.  I still don't know why I tried this.  I had been in long, long meetings with a customer for the first two days of the week and then the CEO was coming the next day to visit with our state senator and I had plenty of work to do. However, somehow instead of being super tired, as I normally am, I had energy and thus, I made Gumbo.

So, to start this you can either brown chicken in oil or just boil it in a pot.  I choose to boil it in a pot because that way I make chicken broth at the same time. I have posted the recipe for chicken broth before. It is super easy to make your own (and I actually just scoped this out of the pan my chicken was boiling with and replaced the water that I took... because I needed chicken broth and didn't want to wait the full time that it was supposed to cook).

Ingredients:
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 c. flour
1 c. minced onions
1 c. minced green pepper
3/4 c. minced celery
1 tsp Tabasco (or more if you like it spicy - we usually sprinkle it over our bowls at the end)
3 T Worcestershire
2 bay leaves
1 tsp commercial Cajun seasoning (look up a recipe online: I used a bit of garlic and pepper and salt and paprika)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper (I used Cayenne)
2 quart chicken stock (stolen from pan with boiling chicken)
1/2 c. chopped green onions
1 tsp minced garlic
1 lb andoulle sausage thinly sliced
chicken

To make your roux: Heat up oil to medium heat, sprinkle in flour and stir.  Keep stirring on and off until the roux is a medium brown.  I was cutting up my onions, peppers, and celery while this was cooking.  I probably cooked it for 15 - 20 minutes.

Stir in the onions, pepper, and celery.  I found it was best to remove this from the heat or turn it way down (if you have gas). You want to cook these until they are a bit softened. 

Next, add the Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, Cajun seasoning, pepper, red pepper, and chicken stock. Mix well.  It is best to add the chicken stock in small amounts.

At this point, turn the heat down to low, add the chicken, thinly sliced sausage, minced garlic, and green onions.  Simmer 1 - 2 hours.  The longer you simmer, the better it tastes. 

Serve over rice.  Sprinkle with Tabasco, if desired.

Feel free to add shrimp, crab, or other kinds of seafood.

Monday, April 30, 2012

March and April Goal report

Read 2 books:
March - yes, I read 4
April - no, I read 1

Cook more meals:
March - yes
April - no

Lift Weights more:
March - yes
April - no, failed at going to gym at all due to long hours at work and travelling

Lose 5 pounds:
March - still on track
April - complete failed thanks to travelling to Philly and CUU, visiting VP and his consultant, and visiting CEO, VP, and state senator. Gained back all 5 pounds that I had lost this year. Boo.

Work fewer hours:
March - worked almost all 40 hour weeks
April - fail! I worked 50 - 60 hours almost every week. Sigh.  Hopefully, all famous people have made their rounds for a while and I am through with travelling for a while (less France in June).

Saturday, April 28, 2012

If I had children, I would buy one of these t-shirts.  I think the helicopter is my favorite design (it may be because I work on the design of them).  This is a neat shop; they are making these t-shirts from upcycled shirts to raise money to adopt a baby.  Because I sew and bake and a few other crafty things, I have come to realize the value of homemade items.  I try to support people that make home made goods as much as possible.  

Speaking of helicopters, in late March I was able to tour one of the plants that we supply parts to.  It was pretty sweet to walk up and down the production line and actually see things that I have worked on. They allowed us to walk right up to the birds and stick our heads inside and look how all the parts were assembled together.  It was an engineer's dream come true (or course it all came with a cost, getting out of bed at 4am to drive to Philly is not especially my favorite thing to do). Thankfully, it was only a two day trip and I could drive there (driving beats flying).   



How do you find outfits as cute as this in thrift stores? I especially love the plaid jumper (top 2nd from left) and the checkered dress (bottom, second from right)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

If you have a chance, please, vote for my sister:

http://design.greenbag.softcoin.com/vote-for-designs/bag.aspx?BagId=8655&ad=1

Click on Kroger.
Bag #8655
Sarah B.

She is entered to win an art contest to be displayed on a reusable Kroger bag!! She is currently in 7th place out of 19,000.  You can vote once each day!! Please, vote.

Thank you!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I sort of want this book just for projects like this.  I know I could figure our how to make these peeps, however, I think this book would give me some fun inspiration.  If I ever see if cheap somewhere I will pick it up.  I am old fashion.  I enjoying flipping through books for inspiration so much more than searching online.  It is more comforting.


Speaking of inpiration... I love this blog.

What a great idea!  I have been really wanting to buy some dye and play around with it.  This has sealed the deal.  I am going to buy some onsies and some dye and start giving them out as showers.  I love this idea.  And I love the bold colors you can get with dye. 


PJ pants for kids tutorial.  I have made similar things with Cindy before.  PJ bottoms are some of the easiest things to sew.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dad, I think we should make one or two of these for the garden.  You can pick your food in this basket, rinse it off, and let it dry. 


Okay, so you know I love Mason jars... if I had a front porch (or even maybe a back porch), I would make these.  So pretty.  These are solar lamps made out of mason jars.  Love love love.  


I really enjoy playing checkers. My Dad taught me when I was pretty young (5 or 6).  Sarah and I used to play on Sundays.  I would like to have one of these for my kids to play in doctor's offices or in other places where we have to wait and need something to do.

I like when stuff is off the floor in its own place.  Baskets for toys are going to be a must when I have kids.  Right now I have two baskets that I store under our table in the living room, one has my library books in it and the other has my sewing supplies.


That last tutorial came from this website that I found recently.  They have a few fun sewing ideas.

These little sandels might be a cute baby shower gift.  I wonder if they would stay on?

Neat paper lamp (Ikea hack with some cupcake holders).  

Monday, April 09, 2012

Strawberry Cake

Doesn't this look amazing?  I made this for my old boss's birthday.  He is one of my favorite people to work with at my plant; he gets things done that I need to be finished and he does it correctly more often than most people I work with.  For that, he gets a cake.  ha. We also talk about food often.  He said he asked his whole family to bring some sort of dish that included fruit for his birthday, but they all refused.  Personally, I thought it was a great idea.  I can think of a lot of dishes that I make that have fruit in it. I make a really awesome stuffing that has pork and apples in it.  I love cranberries and chicken.  Anyhow, that is beside the point.  I wanted to make this cake and I was glad to have a reason to make it.  The end.  

This is how my cake turned out:

This is how it was supposed to look, but I changed the frosting:


REVIEW:  The icing is INCREDIBLE!!! The batter tasted amazing too.  I had to keep reminding myself that there was raw egg in the batter... someday I am going to have a bad case of food poisening and I will stop eating raw egg ... for a few months.  :)   Ha.  I found the recipe to be TOO sweet and strawberryish.  So I added the extra drizzle of chocolate icing to give it just a hint of something else.  I think chocolate chips baked in the cake next time would be delicious.  I will definitely make this cake again.


Strawberry Layer Cake with Whipped Strawberry Frosting



Strawberry Layer Cake
Yield: 3 x 8" round layers
Ingredients:
1 cup whole milk, room temperature

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup strawberry puree made from frozen strawberries (puree itself should be closer to room temp, not frozen or icy)

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 package strawberry flavored gelatin (such as Jell-O)
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs (room temperature)

3 cups sifted cake & pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt


Method:
1.  To make your own strawberry puree, place in blender and puree until smooth. Measure out 1/4 cup for cake and 3 tablespoons for frosting, and make a strawberry smoothie with the rest (add a banana and some yogurt if you need a bigger smoothie).
2.Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour three round 9-inch pans (the recipe calls for 8", but I only have 9").
3. Combine milk, strawberry puree, and the vanilla.
4. Sift dry ingredients together.
5. Cream the sugar, gelatin, and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy--about 5 minutes.
6. Add the eggs. Scrap sides of bowl with spatula.
7. Add the wet & dry ingredients. Do not overmix.
8. Divide the batter in three.
9. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean when inserted into the center. Be so careful to not overbake. Check cakes at 20 minutes, but not before, and once you feel it's almost ready, set the timer for 2 minute intervals. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.


Whipped Strawberry Frosting
Ingredients:
2 cups heavy whipping cream + 1 package vanilla pudding (recipe calls for 3 sticks + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes + 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract + 1 T milk)
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar 
pinch of salt
5 - 7 tablespoons strawberry puree

Method
1. Whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (I use "4" on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy or whip heavy whipping cream for 4 to 7 minutes.
2. Add remaining ingredients, except strawberry puree, and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy.
3. Add strawberry puree (can be cool, but not frozen or icy) and mix until incorporated.
4. Best used right away, but can be covered in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or so.

Chocolate Icing
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup boiling water
pinch salt
1 T flour
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix (whisk) everything, but the vanilla, on top of the stove until it thickens.  Remove from heat. Add vanilla.  Drizzle on top of cake. Strawberry Layer Cake Assembly
1. Place a cake layer face-up on cake plate or 8" round thin cake board.
2. Place 1 cup of frosting on top, and spread evenly with a small offset palette knife.
3. Repeat step 1-2.
4. Place final layer, frost, and chill. With the whipped topping you will not be able to frost the sides. 
5. Drizzle with chocloate icing.

adapted from source

Friday, April 06, 2012

Jesus paid it all.

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

And now complete in Him
My robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.

When from my dying bed
My ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
Shall rend the vaulted skies.

And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down
All down at Jesus’ feet.