Blue dots (regular width)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Jesus, bless this Candy Corn to our bodies!

              It’s Halloween today.  Today is my 6th year Trick or Treating.  I didn’t Trick or Treat growing up because my parents didn’t allow my brother and I to.  So my first year Trick or Treating was when my son was 3 years old. 
            I grew up in a conservative Christian home, where my parents were the same inside the home that they were in public. I mention this because I know that a lot of people criticize Christians for being hypocrites, and the truth is we all are, Christians or not. I wasn’t allowed to celebrate Halloween because it’s a Pagan holiday. I didn’t Trick or Treat. I didn’t get to participate in Halloween crafts at school that included witches, ghosts, or anything that was more than Fall-themed.
            I was asked recently by a friend if I felt left out as a kid.  My answer was a surprising “no”. My Mom is a professional artist so when Halloween came around she would volunteer to lead a craft in our classes, which meant it was going to be an alternative to what the teacher had planned, and it was always way cooler.  When it came to Trick or Treating we didn’t get to go, but we always attended our church’s “Harvest Party” and played games and won candy. I grew up being apart of an amazing community and didn’t think I was missing out on much.
            Then I met Randall. He didn’t grow up like me. His favorite holiday is Halloween-what?!?  That didn’t make sense to me. I’m a Christian so my favorite holiday is Christmas, of course. When we started comparing stories of how we grew up I quickly understood why Randall loves Halloween so much.  He explained to me that Halloween isn’t a holiday for rich or poor people, it’s doesn’t matter if your parents are married or divorced, what neighborhood you live in or who your friends are. Halloween is for everyone. Every kid can get a costume from what’s lying around their house, grab a bag to put candy in and run from house to house, in whatever neighborhood you wanted, and people were happy to see you and give you candy. Randall is a Christian too. He’s the kind of guy who says what he does and does what he says. He’s real. And he made a good point when he said “You make it what it is”.
            So, that’s what we’ve done. We’ve been married for 15 years now and our family loves Halloween. We love to dress up, go to a local Harvest party then Trick or Treat. We love to come home and hand out candy to others.  We love to compliment people on their cool costumes and Trick or Treat with lots and lots of friends (too many to be honest but it’s so fun!). We’ve made it about family and community. We have refused to be dark and scary. We refuse to stay home and shut the rest of the world out. We refuse to believe that we are better than anyone else. And I refuse to judge anyone else for the decisions they make about Halloween. Oh, also my son went as Harry Potter (the audience gasps)-that's a whole other subject for a whole other blog!

                        Happy Halloween everyone! 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Why is zucchini spelled with an "h"?

As much as I try to fight the end of summer and beginning of fall, I cannot.  I am internally trying to figure out how to end our summer and start our busy fall without a lot of tears.  Summertime is my absolute favorite time of the entire year!  Christmastime is a close second.  But in the past few years our schedules have changed, our kids have grown up, and now our summers are filled with lots of time together as a family traveling, paddle boarding, floating the river, rock climbing, BBQs with friends and family, bike rides, parks, library trips, camping, swimming at friend's pools (thanks Molly and Kim!) and fishing (oh, don't be fooled-this really means I go along and cheer the other three in my comfy camping chair while I read a book). I know that in a little over a week both my kids will go to school all day (a first for me as our "baby", Lily, will be in 1st grade). I'm not a very emotional person, or rather I don't cry a lot, but as I write this I can't seem to stop.  I absolutely adore my other jobs but these days spent with my kids and husband have been priceless and I actually feel like I'm mourning them soon being over.  Our days will soon be spent driving our kids all over, working at our jobs, volunteering in the kid's classrooms, etc.  So, days like today, are intentional and filled with lots of pictures and conversations with my kids.

My parents have a big garden and they invite us to come over and pick vegetables throughout the summer.  Last week they gave us bags full, including about a dozen large zucchinis.  When I say large, I'm not exaggerating.  This is the largest of the bunch (next to a muffin I made with it):
I have made zucchini bread many, many times but have never found a recipe I really loved.  I finally did today, after many alterations.  So, here it is for you!
"My Favorite Zucchini Bread" 
(yeah, that's the name after 24 muffins & 4 loaves)
2 1/2c white flour                                              3 eggs, beaten
1/2 c wheat flour                                               1 c vegie oil (or 1/2c. oil & 1/2c. applesauce)
1 teaspoon salt                                                  1 3/4 c white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda                                    3/4 c brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder                                3 teaspoon maple syrup (or vanilla)  
3 teaspoons cinnamon                                      2 c grated zucchini

Directions: Add all of the ingredients on the left into a bowl (sift flour) and set aside.  Beat eggs in separate bowl then add all the ingredients on the right in order, adding the shredded zucchini last.  You can also add 1c chopped walnuts if you choose.  I like it without. Grease 2 loaf pans or muffin pans to make 24 total.  Bake @ 325 for 40-60min. for the loaves and 20-30min. for the muffins.  Take out about 10 min. before they're done and sprinkle raw sugar on the top then finish baking.  
Now give some to your neighbor for letting you borrow the ingredients you thought you had but didn't. Count how many muffins there are throughout the day to make sure you kids aren't full at dinnertime because they ate them all day long. And enjoy! 

Now I feel a little more ready for Fall. :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Meet Chef Milli Vanilli

Remember when you found out Milli Vanilli was a fraud? Me neither, I was WAY too young. ;) I "heard" people were devastated.  Who wouldn't be when you thought your favorite singers weren't actually the ones even singing the songs?!? Well, I'm sorry to say that I'm Chef Milli Vanilli.  Most of my recipes aren't even my recipes.  I do not, however, take credit for other people's recipes unless I have changed quite a few of the actual ingredients, directions, etc.  I love looking up recipes online and trying them several times then making changes to them until they're exactly how I like them. This one, however, didn't need any changing.  It's perfect.  And don't judge.  All you anti veggie lovers need to give this one a try before you delete my blog from your daily readings (are there actually any of you out there that DO read it regularly?). 
Cauliflower (or as my daughter calls it "white broccoli") Pizza Crust

You can pretty much put any regular pizza toppings you'd like on this but my personal favorites are red sauce, chicken breast strips (precooked), yellow peppers, mushrooms and thick chunks of zucchini.  Enjoy!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Who doesn't love pancakes?

My husband, that's who.  I thought it was so weird when I first found out he didn't like pancakes.  Who doesn't love pancakes?  So, my goal for the past 13 years has been to find a pancake recipe he likes.  And I did! And it's actually healthy (for pancakes anyway).  And all you English fanatics are probably so annoyed I just started three sentences with "and" (sorry about that).  So here it is for all you pancake-makers (Moms, Dads, kids who are to be trusted in the kitchen, etc).  Enjoy!

1 1/2 cups milk
4 T. white vinegar                                                                          
1 1/2 cups white flour                                                                     
1/2 cup wheat flour (could substitute other flours or)            
4 T. white sugar (could substitute brown)
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 eggs
4 T. melted butter
1 T. flax seed
1/2 t. vanilla

Mix together the milk and vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes to sour (this is how you make buttermilk substitute).  Combine in a separate bowl the flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flax seeds. In a mixing bowl (I used my Kitchen Aid) mix the milk/vinegar, 2 eggs, vanilla and melted butter.  Add flour mixture while slowly mixing.  Add milk if needed to make to your preferred consistency.  Spray griddle/pan and pour pancakes on.  This recipe makes approx. 16 medium sized pancakes.

Optional toppings/additions:
Chocolate chips (this is my children's favorite-a smiley face is mandatory)
Coconut (this is my favorite!)
Chocolate chips AND coconut (this is how I got my man to like pancakes! They taste like Mounds!)
Peanut butter
Peanut butter AND chocolate chips (Can you say Reece's?)
Strawberry sauce (see recipe below)
Vanilla yogurt AND strawberry sauce
2 T. ground nuts (almonds would be my favorite in this...but would have to be with coconut and chocolate chips to mimic an Almond Joy)

Strawberry sauce recipe:
I realize this isn't really a recipe when something has two ingredients, but this is seriously the easiest thing EVER to make so I had to share.  Put 2 cups of frozen strawberries into a large/microwavable bowl. Microwave until softened then mash with potato masher.  Add 1T. sugar/splenda/stevia/agave nectar or whatever you desire to sweeten it up a bit.  Pour over ANYTHING!  Frozen strawberries are a staple in our home.  Mmmm

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Seriously.  I have a problem.  I love bunting.  I love it in every color and for every occasion.  I love it in all white, different colors and sizes.  But I don't love it when people tell me they don't like bunting or don't think it'll be a good fit for a party.  Bunting is awesome for any kind of party!  And it's called BUNTING, not pendants (just to clarify).  It's an inexpensive way to decorate or brighten up a room.  If you personalize it your kids will think you're the best Mom ever (kids love anything with their names on it...which was a real bummer for me as a kid).  Here are some pictures of bunting I've made (I apologize for my ridiculous placement of these photos.  I'm still trying to figure out this whole blogging thing)...
Invitations made for a friend's baby shower
Burlap and lace (some of my favorite combinations)

My boutique collection sign
Baby shower bunting

And these are pictures of bunting I just love...
                                                        Okay, that's it.  Again, I apologize for the spacing.  ;)

Lace Bunting-so cute!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mmmmashed potatoes you can't stop eating!

I apologize ahead of time for the amount of mashed potatoes you may consume after making this recipe.  I've made many, many mashed potatoes but have never loved them like I do this recipe. I found a great recipe online then my friend, Susan, told me about how she makes them.  I put the two together and now I have to put a padlock on my mashed potatoes until I'm ready to take them to my parent's house for Thanksgiving tomorrow.  You won't be disappointed...

Mashed Potato Recipe:
10 pound bag russet potatoes
3 sticks butter
2 packages (8oz. each) cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 t. seasoning salt (or to taste)
1/2 t. pepper (or to taste)
1/2 t. garlic salt (or to taste, or fresh minced garlic if preferred)

Peel all potatoes then cut into about 1" pieces. Boil mashed potatoes (5lbs at at time). Mash in large bowl then add 1/2 the amount of butter, 1/2 the amount of sour cream, 1/2 the amount of cream cheese and 1/2 the seasonings.  Mash until all mixed.  Scoop into large casserole dish.  Repeat with the other 1/2 of ingredients.  Scoop rest into casserole dish and mix around.  Refrigerate up to 2 days.  Take out of fridge 2-3hrs. before baking.  Top with pats of butter.  Bake @ 350 for 20-30min. Enjoy!  And only eat celery for the next two days.

Note: this recipe can be halved for a normal gathering.  We happen to have a lot of people getting together for Thanksgiving tomorrow. Also, if you want to add some 1/2 & 1/2 to change the consistency of the mashed potatoes you can.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Firefighter's Chili-that good!

Everyone knows firefighters make their own food and they learn how to cook some great of their most popular things being chili! We have a friend who leaked a recipe similar to this one (I had to tweak it, of course) and everyone who has it raves about it.

Chili is one of those meals that varies so much between households and family recipes.  Feel free to add, subtract, do whatever you need to do to make it how you like it...

1 can kidney beans (you can also soak & season your own...but who has time for that?)
1lb. ground turkey (ground beef is fine too but ground turkey has much less fat & cholesterol)
1 yellow onion (diced)
1 lg. can (or 2 reg. cans) chili beans
1 can red enchilada sauce (you choose mild, med or hot)
1 can water
1/2 cup corn starch (mixed in with the water before added)
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can tomatoe sauce
1 t. oregano
1 t. basil
garlic salt (to taste)
onion powder (to taste)
s & p (to taste)
chili powder (to taste-start out with 1/2 t. and add until it's spicy enough for you)

Brown meat with onions then add to crock pot.  Add the rest of the items to the crock pot and cook for at least 4-6hrs. or on low all day.  I serve it with homemade cornbread, sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.  We have some good friends that introduced the idea of eating it with Fritos and that's great too.  Enjoy!