Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas' my favorite

This post is dedicated to favorites.  My favorites to be exact.
Favorite Christmas CD- 98 Degrees- This Christmas. I can't help it, I am still a 98 Degrees fan...ahhh Nick Lachey you are a cutie.

Favorite Christmas Song-Oh Holy Night-I love the dramatic "FALLLLLL on Your kneeeeeeeeeees"
Favorite Christmas Movie-Elf, nuff said.

Favorite Christmas Food- My Mom's Sticky Buns, made only on Christmas morning.

Favorite Christmas Smell- The above stated sticky buns, yum!
Favorite Christmas Sound- Bells
Favorite Christmas Quote-"Merry Christmas, Everyone", "Every time a bell rings and angel get's his wings"
What are some of your favorites?
Merry Christmas Eve!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My First Batch

I did it! I made the cookies. In fear of all my family hunting me down I will not share the coveted recipe.  However will show you the steps.









ps. these were one of my first and WAY too thick.
I ran home one day and made the dough then went to practice and along the way got some tips from one of the master bakers Dad.  His advice was don't use flour to roll out, good to know as I would have floured that rolling pin right up.  I'm not gonna lie, the first couple I rolled out were way too thick, but I slowly got the hang of it and got them as thin as I could.  They were so thin I could see the grain of the wood from our table through the dough.  My hands and shoulders are killing me,  AND STILL! They are not as thin as my Grammy's.
So I visited my Grammy tonight and got to the bottom of some important questions about her cookies.
Why did she decide on roll outs and not drop cookies to sell?  She started by having my Pappy bring them in to work, then slowly she started getting orders for them.  It evolved into a huge production, people would visit from the surrounding states to get her cookies, she said they would also ship cookies.  Plus she did roll outs because she likes rollouts 'best'.
How sore did she get when making them?  Grammy said her wrists would get so sore they would double in size.  She assured me that if I build up the muscles in my hands they wouldn't ache so much today.
Did she roll out all the cookies? No, she would pay the kids, a small amount she assured me for every task done. 
Where did she get the recipe?  She got the recipe from her mother.  One day she baked with her mother in the kitchen and measured every ingredient she would put in.  her mother would use a 'handful of flour' as a measurement, to get a more precise measurement she told her to 'holdon a minute' and would measure it out.  Don't you love when you hear a story like that?
Reviews on my rollouts?
Dad said-too dark, but good, Pappy would have liked them.  (too dark is lightly browned on the bottom fyi)
Grammy said- rolled them too much, don't fuss with them, "but 'good'" head nod and all.
So I guess I have some things to work on for next year.  Good news is I don't plan on selling 800 lbs of these, I'd be in trouble.

P.S. I'm loving the family history I'm getting out of some quality one on one time with my Grammy.  I'll be the first to admit that we were never super close.  I feel my connection with her is getting stronger, and while it is a sad to know that we have limited time with her, I feel blessed to be able to be with her now.

Monday, December 20, 2010


This weekend has been full of baking, shopping,cleaning and ending with my brothers graduation.  I'm pooped, but excited for a fun filled week.  I came across a recipe for granola in the December Issue of the Rachael Ray magazine for Berry Christmas Granola a few weeks ago and it peeked my interest.  I normally make my Mom's fabulous caramel corn recipe for folks at work but decided to try something new.  So off I went to my favorite Amish bulk food store to gather the yummy ingredients.  Only in Amish country will you hear the cashier ask to the man in front of you if he will be "butchering the hog today".  To her disappointment he will not, just making ring bologna.
After making a double batch of this and being pleased with it I had plenty of ingredients to make another double batch.  Here's the recipe;

Berry Christmas Granola
Rachael Ray
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
2 T sesame seeds
1/4t salt
6T unsalted butter
1/4 cup honey
1 cup salted, roasted pistachios shelled and coarsly chopped.
3/4 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup dried blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 275 F.  On a large baking sheet, toss together the oats, almonds, sesame seeds and salt.   In a glass measuring cup, combine the butter ad honey, pour over the oat mixture and stir with a rubber spatula to blend.  Spread evenly and bake for 30 minutes, stirring and spreading once with the spatula during cooking.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
2.  In a large bowl, combine the pistachios, cherries and blueberries with the cooled oat mixture and toss to combine.
Since I'm using this recipe as a gift I packaged it in mason jars with a lovely festive ribbon.  Tada!  If you are looking for an easy fast homemade gift, here ya go!

As I said I ended my weekend with my brothers graduation from LCCC.  Great Job Dave! We are all so proud!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gingersnap Cupcakes

As I searched to find something yummy to take to my work's holiday luncheon I came across these bad boys, Gingersnap Cupcakes.  It appealed to me in a number of ways #1 I had all ingredients on hand and didn't have to run to the store, #2 these are Gingersnap Cupcakes, and #3 well it's clear that I am a Ginger so I tend to gravitate to all things gingery.
Ginger kids!
I love Picky Palate's recipes, I have made several items from her lovely site.  She just posted a hot chocolate cupcake recipe that I'm tempted to give a whirl!
My Mom's theory on never making a single batch of anything, just in case, was instilled in me.  So I made a double batch, some for my work and some for the hubby's.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dollar Store Christmas Decor!!

I have some great Christmas decorating ideas for you :-)  Of course I did not take pictures of the process of all of these but they are so simple I have faith you will be able to do it without.
Josh laughed when I told him I wanted to hang snowflakes in the windows. Perhaps it was when I said "glittery sparkely" snowflakes?  I found them in packs of 5 at the dollar store, so this literally cost me $2 (I got two sizes).  Tied them all with white string, or you could use fishing wire if you have some and hang! So easy! And I like how they spin and glitter against our Christmas tree.
Next up, Joy!

I got these letters for under a $1 each, paint also under a $1 and you guessed it ribbon on clearance for under a $1.  Painted 2 coats of paint on the letters, once dry flipped them over and hot glued ribbon to the back and hung them up!  I'm almost tempted to do this to all the doors in the hallway.  Maybe do, Peace, Love, Noel?  The posibilities are endless!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dark Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

This past weekend we had a family Christmas party, and while the cheesey Bingo game and prizes were a definate hit, I have to say I made some bangin' coconut macaroons. 

Of course I had help from my friend Ina Garten.  By the way, does her name bother anyone else as much as it does me?  So this recipe is below, I kicked it up a notch and melted dark chocolate chips and dipped them half way.  As an afterthought I think it would have been better to drizzle these since the chocolate is almost too overpowering.  I guess I should have just listened to Ina in the first place.  Mad props Ina, these are awesome.

Coconut Macaroons
Ina Garten
14oz sweetened flaked coconut
1 can 14oz sweetened condensed milk
1t vanilla
2 xlarge egg whites at room temp.
1/4 t kosher salt
1. Preheat to 325F.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In large bowl, mix coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla till combined
3. In medium bowl, with mixer fitted to whisk attachment on high speed, whip egg whites andsalt until medium-firm peaks form.  Carefully fold egg whits into coconut mixture.
4. Drop two rounded teaspoonful portions onto prepared cookie sheets.  Bake 25-30 min. or until golden brown.
5. Jen's step- wait till cookies have cooled, in double boiler/make shift double boiler melt chocolate chips.  once melted dip your cookies and place onto wax paper til they have set.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Grey and black swirlies

Excuse me while I finish my frozen dark chocolate chip cookie...mmmm something about a cookie being frozen makes it so much better.  On that topic...if you are jumping on the frozen cookie bandwagon, fig newtons frozen are pretty darn good.
I was sitting here eating my cookie and tending to my pretend farm on facebook, yes I had a very eventful night, I'm reminded I've never given you all a full updated look of our grey and yellow office.  I made some finishing touches in the past week.  While it is not fully complete, I will share.  Pardon the random things on the floor and desk.

You get the idea :-)  What's that?  You want to know who did the lovely art on the wall?  Oh that was silly ol' me!  How did I do it you ask?  Well, simple really.  I took two same sized frames and took the glass out.  Then I went to my friendly Joann's Fabric Store and picked out a lovely swirly black and grey designed fabric that was just waiting for me in the discounted remnant pile, while there I also picked up a role of cork board.  It all came together by layering the fabric then the cork board then the backing to the frame and voila! You have your very own personalized cork boards!
We got the desk, chairs and middle drawer from Ikea, the nice yellow mini table perfect for our ginormous printer, on the right at Target on what? on clearance! what what! And the bookcase was from the upstairs bedroom which we are clearing out so we can fit a bed and dresser.
Woo hoo! Slowly but surely we will get this house in tip top shape! Just in time to start all over again :-)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lo Siento mis amigos.
I have been MIA for awhile now, I have missed you.  Some things have been keepin me busy, the volleyball season kicking into full swing and the ever continuous remodel of our home.  I hope you are doing well and excited for a turkey, shopping and family filled week.
While I have almost had to call in reinforcements to advertise my coaching abilities to some prospective players after 2 weeks my Dad and I ALMOST have a team.  I have found that tryouts are not only for the girls but for the coaches.  I almost feel as if it is a personal attack if they do not choose to be on my team. I mean, come on, am I not the best coach ever?  Seriously I'm kidding best coach ever thing, I try my best.  I Hate this time of the season, and I don't just toss that word around lightly, and every year it seems to get a little more ridiculous.  I do however love that first practice, you know the one that they actually all listen at.
Anyway, Our downstairs is slowly getting transformed and we will soon be able to use our entire house!  Our bathroom has gone from this...

To this in 2 weeks time.
To say that I love it, doesn't even cover my excitement.  It's amazing.  Even more amazing because we didn't have to do anything but pick out the appliances/paint/tile.  Of course we still need to find a mirror, but then it will be a full functionin bathroom, woo hoo!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Year old cake

Well I think you are about due for a UF update.  Things are going well.  I've  tried my hardest to stay within my daily caloric bank.  I have just recently increased my exercise to include going back to the gym and soon enough it will include 2-3 night/week volleyball practices.  I weigh in every Thursday, this week I am happy to report was a good day!  Down 2.5lbs from last week for a grand total of 13.5lbs lost to date.  Woo hoo!
Since my last UF update there was a little anniversary thrown in there.  We got what I hope to be a yearly photo by our trellis.
We then made the trek out to the American Club where we were married a year prior.  And what do you know? It was a lovely sunny day.  Not a rain cloud in sight.  I know I know 'it's good luck if it rains on your wedding day'. This phrase seems so easily said by those that had a lovely sun shining day.  ANNNYWAY we took a few pics there in the gazebo, walked around the property and reminisced about the day.  Our wedding day was truly was our most favorite day ever.

Leading up to our anniversary the big question was, where are we going to eat.  It was easily decided that we would just play it by ear with all the health issues my Grammy had been going through.  So after visiting our venue we had an early dinner/late lunch at Bravo, which in the midst I received a phone call that my Grammy wasn't doing well.  I was determined to enjoy our meal and then afterwards go to the hospital.  After ordering a glass of wine I think we both were feeling a little better.  Our meal was nice, unplanned and quiet.  oh and yummy.  After our meal we went straight home and from there I went straight to the hospital.
Things had settled and my Grammy was transported over to inpatient hospice.
I came home to flowers from my Huuuusssband, a bottle of champagne and year old cake.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


The past few weeks have been difficult, I'm sorry I've been neglecting you.  Along with the rest of my family, I have been spending a lot of time at the inpatient Hospice Unit in good ole' Atown keeping my Grammy company.  Lucky for me it's not out of the way at all, so I've been stopping nightly after work.  I've also been lucky to be able to spend so much time with her.
My Grammy raised 8 children, WOW.  And also helped to raise about 6 of my cousins, while my aunts worked.  She has 19 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren, if I'm counting correctly.  My Pappy died about 25 years ago from cancer.  My Grammy has stayed extremely active and loves to travel.  If I were to describe her in two words it would be STRONG and INDEPENDENT.
Last night I visited with my Mom, we passed around a word search and each took turns finding a word, Grammy ate some of her dinner and all of her lemon lime sherbet, and she talked about her cookie making business.
You see, raising 8 kids is expensive, even if your mortgage at the time was $17.  Yes, $17.00.  During the holidays my Grammy would make hundreds of pounds of cookies and sell them.  When I asked her how many, "oh about 500-800lbs", she said it like it was nothing.  That is a lot of cookies!  She had everyone enlisted of course in helping, and would make huge batches of dough for it to all be ready to bake when she had a free minute.  She informed me one person in particular was notorious for burning them, or leaving out the baking soda, which in a normal batch is no big deal but in 8lbs of cookie dough, that's a lot of dough wasted.  Well, never wasted because they would bake it off anyway and make the kids eat them. haha.
Now these cookies that she made where not drop cookies, they were the roll out super thin cut out cookies with a little sprinkle of colored sugar on top. 500-800lbs of super thin crisp butter cookies is a lot of cookies.  Yum, I can taste them now.
Many have tried to carry on her cookie making tradition.  My sister in high school, started her own business by making them.  She sold them around the neighborhood and at my Mom's work.  I have never tried to make them, but this seems like a good time to try.  I'll let you know how it goes.
My Grammy is giving one heck of a fight right now.  The past week there were many close calls before she was transported to hospice.  Many prayers, tears and hugs.  The Dr. met with the family a few days ago, and expressed his amazement that she is doing well considering her health status and the disease process.  Very few actually get better while at Hospice.
Next week the plan is for her to return to her home, with Hospice and 24/7 family and friend support.  Since I work in the field I know that a difficult road is ahead for everyone.  We will all transition from visitors to caregivers.  Although it will be difficult, I trust that the traits we have inherited from my Grammy will make us strong and determined to ensure she has the very best quality of life in her last days.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Teal and Black Wedding: We're Married!!!

As the boys took their spots up front
As I watched my girls walk down the aisle one by one
As my Dad and I got closer to the aisle
And as my brother started playing ‘somewhere over the rainbow’

I couldn’t help but get choked up. Thinking of all the time and energy spent in making this day a reality. And thinking of all the love that was in the room. The smiling faces looking back at me, just melted my heart.

Yes I told everyone I wasn’t going to cry on my wedding day. I thought I would be so stressed and almost numb to really feel the day. Who was I kidding? I balled down the aisle. The minute I saw my groom, my heart melted… again.

We stood in front of our family and friends and said our vows , exchanged rings, played in the sand and sealed our love with a kiss

Our ceremony ended with Dr. Suess “Oh the places WE will go” so nicely spoken by Josh’s sister.
I would not have changed a thing.

Happy Anniversary to my best friend and forever love.

*all pictures were taken by Jenae

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Life keeps giving me reminders to slow down.

Remember what is important

Cherish relationships

Love is powerful

And so is a hug

Or a gentle hand squeeze for reassurance

That everything will be okay

In a world of chaos and unjust.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Teal and Black Wedding : Getting Ready…opps I forgot to sleep.

**caution lots of pictures :-)

The night before I didn’t sleep. Okay I lie, I fell asleep right away for about 20 minutes, then I was up ALL NIGHT. I had some sort of stomach bug or it was nerves. Not sure, whatever it was kept me up. Good thing I had adrenaline to run on all day! All the girls got up and ate breakfast together that was so nicely displayed by my Mom.

wake up sleepy heads ;-)
  Jenae, our photographer got there just in the nick of time for us to start getting ready.
While the boys went to the club and did some finishing touches on setting up, all us girls had our hair done one by one by our awesome hairstylist!

a close up of my hair, I loved it

After we got our hair did it was time to get dressed!  The girls looked lovely, didn't they?

And my sweet parents are all ready for a fun night.

Next was my turn, piece by piece I slowly became the bride.  I was a little impatient ;-)

by Jenae
by Jenae

by Jenae

by Jenae

by Jenae

by Jenae

by Jenae

by Jenae

by Jenae

it wasn't until I had my veil on did I really feel like a bride. That's when it hit me, and the tears started.
by Jenae

by Jenae

by Jenae
by Jenae
Quickly my Dad went to the rescue and surprised everyone with his awesome wig. It was hilarious!

by Jenae
In the meantime, Jenae’s sister was able to capture the boys and get some pictures of them getting ready and also some of Josh’s family. I am so thankful she was able to do it, she got some great shots.

The time flew by and it was soon time to make our way to the Venue. When we called to get information on the limo, they told us we had to rent it for 3 hours. So we just rented one, since all we needed them to do was drive the boys to the venue and then drive the girls. Worked out great, and we saved a lot of $$ in the end. Since my parents live in the middle of nowhere down a long windy stone road, my Dad had to shuttle all the girls out to the end of the driveway to meet the limo. So not once but twice did I have to get into and out of the limo like a huge puff ball of tulle…in the rain.

Finally through the rain and traffic we made it to the venue and quietly hid in the kitchen waiting for the special moment to arrive.

Next up...Wedding!!!!