Monday, November 30, 2009

I have a dream...

 And my dream is this:

A Le Creuset Dutch Oven

Isn't she a beauty? 


A more exciting post to come later. We've had the best time this past week! Spokane is amazing and I have a new love for a city named Seattle. Seriously. I would take this kind of vacation over a tropical-ish vacation *any day.  My next dream is to go to the Maine-ish area, rent a car, drive along the coast, and eat good seafood. With my husband. For our 10th anniversary. 

*On any given non-snowy kind of day. On a snowy day, yes, I would probably choose a tropical-ish vacation. 

Friday, November 20, 2009


I'll be taking a bloggy break for the next week and a half, but promise to return with a ton o' pictures. We're about to partake in our biggest family adventure as a family of four. I'm nervous and excited and anxious and excited all at the same time.

I'm just wasting some time while putting off the load of things I need to get done before tomorrow. Let's see, what can I write about?....

We started doing "Acts 2:42" groups with our church last spring and this past fall we started doing them weekly. Our group is a great group of families with small children. Now, that sounds inviting, huh? We meet on Tuesday nights at our friends house a few blocks away while all the "small children" are babysat at our house. It's a pretty slick set up. I've had so much fun and we have all learned a lot. Plus, our leader is really hot.(don't worry, it's my husband) I have to admit, I have not always been the best pay-attention-er to an entire sermon. Really, I can't pay attention to much anything for too long. But with the start of our Acts groups, I get excited to get to church, listen, take notes, and learn so I can participate and learn more at our groups. God is really working in our church right now and it's exciting to see a lot of people grow closer to Him. It's pretty awesome!

I've been doing a little thing call Weight Watchers since July 1st and am happy to say I reached my goal weight a couple of weeks ago and will (hopefully) become a lifetime member next month...aka FREE. It feels so good to be a much healthier eater and it feels really good to feed my family much healthier foods as well. Obviously *ahem, chocolate cake incident* I still enjoy baking those naughty sweets, but overall the meals that hit my table are SO much better for us. Lots more fruits and veggies and lean meats and no more thickly-rich sauces that I used to be so addicted to. I've only gone through one pack of shredded cheese since July. That's pretty huge for me! Not that cheese is bad...we still eat it...but it does not need to be in everything I make. Who knew?? And Henry is pretty much cheese-free since I finally realized that was causing his digestive problems. Sorry Henry, for all the many blocks of cheese I let you consume.

I got to get out of the house last night for a MOPS moms night out. We ate at the Cheesecake Factory and then headed down to Valley Junction's open house. It was a ton of fun and I was giddy with excitement to get out after a week of staying home. I love my Willow Ladies!

Now, off to place Space Shuttle with my little boy. Never heard of it? It's where you repeatedly say "321-Blastoff!" and run around the house like an airplane. I bought him a mini airplane replica, but he can't open it until tomorrow. It's amazing how much enjoyment he is getting out of it while it's still in the package.

Hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving! See you in December!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Makings of a Birthday Cake

RJ's birthday ended up being pretty low-key. We went to Chick-Fil-A for a free meal, gave him a tiny present, and that was pretty much it. (we're going to celebrate more next week....)

But my husband's birthday is never complete without an attempt at the *perfect* chocolate cake. We fell in love with the chocolate cake years ago at Bucca Di Beppo. Bucca is no longer in town, and from what I hear the chocolate cake has changed and is no longer as amazing as it was. It's been so long since we've eaten it and we've built it up so much in our minds that there is no way I will ever be able to duplicate it. Yet I must still try.  However, I gave up on trying the chocolate frosting this year and went with peanut butter.

I didn't want to make an entire cake just for us...aka...we would end up eating the whole I made it for our Tuesday night church Acts group (which I love! A post on that later). I was trying to keep it a surprise so I started first thing in the morning.

Tip #1.
Start with encouraging pans. Mine say "good cook".
Gee, thanks!

This trusty Kitchen Aid is 30-some years old (mom, exactly how old?) I, thankfully, inherited it and absolutely love it. I wouldn't be surprised if it lasted 30 more. They just don't make things the way they used to, huh?


I put the cakes in the oven and *crossed my fingers, crossed my fingers, crossed my fingers*


Then I made the peanut butter frosting. For some reason I threw in 2 sticks of butter instead of the one the recipe called for. The only logical solution in my head was to just double the recipe. So it's an enormous batch of frosting.

I think I learned this trick from Martha. Put wax or parchment paper under the cake and then when you take them off there will be no mess. What a clever lady!

Frost, Frost, Frost.


And then things got a little out of hand. I melted chocolate. And added stipes. And candy. Lots of candy.



And then...I ruined it. Oh, the horror! The chocolate got clumpy and the numbers were not going to do.


I melted new chocolate and tried again.
What in the world is wrong with me?


I am paying big bucks for my supposed "art" degree from Central (go Dutch!) and I can't even write a decent 3?

Thankfully, I was able to scrape it off and try again.


Fine. Not perfect, but much better. And that's when Harper woke up from her nap so it was the final attempt.

The verdict? RICH

Maybe it wouldn't have seemed so rich if we hadn't eaten pizza and other delicious desserts before we dug into this.

But most importantly:
RJ gave it a big thumbs up.

Recipe for Black Magic Cake: (from Hershey's website)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk*
  • 1 cup strong black coffee OR 2 teaspoons powdered instant coffee plus 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (Batter will be thin). Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost as desired. Yields 10 to 12 servings.

* To sour milk: Use 1 tablespoon white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup.

Peanut Butter Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tbl milk, or as needed
2 cups powdered sugar

Place the butter and peanut butter into a medium bowl, and beat with an electric mixer. Gradually mix in the sugar, and when it starts to get thick, incorporate milk one tablespoon at a time until all of the sugar is mixed in and the frosting is thick and spreadable. Beat for at least 3 minutes for it to get good and fluffy.

So Happy Birthday, my love.
I look forward to many more years of baking you a chocolate birthday cake. 
I love you.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I'm like a little kid when it comes to pop. I love it! I don't drink it a ton. We very rarely buy it to have in the house, and RJ hasn't drank pop since last spring so if I do buy it, it's just a bottle for me. I would say I drink a caffeinated beverage about 3 times a week.

Enter: last week

I went to the doctor for a (minor) issue I was having. She asked if I drank caffeine. I said yes. She suggested I not for a bit and see if my (minor) issue went away.

I had been drinking caffeine a little more lately because I had felt so yucky and exhausted. I needed the pick-me-up! Harper wasn't sleeping so well and I wasn't sleeping so well either. Well, duh. It finally dawned on me. Once I stopped having any caffeine I've been sleeping like a baby. I've never had a problem falling asleep, but my problem was staying asleep. Once I got up to feed Harper in the wee hours of the morning, I would just be awake. For hours. And I was exhausted.

Well, my (minor) issue went away...though who knows if it was because of the caffeine or not. But I do know that overall I feel so much better! No more sluggish feeling. I'm sleeping great. It's all good.

The downside: I was going to start my journey of enjoying coffee this winter. I love the smell. My husband is already a coffee drinker. I like coffee drinks, so knew the liking wouldn't be too hard to aquire.
And let's face drinkers are cool.

Well, I'll have to just keep admiring from the sidelines. And pass the water, please. Oh, and the chocolate. That would be crossing the line to give up chocolate.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree

It may be a little early....

 but it sure is a whole lot of fun.

It may be a little tacky....

but it was a whole lot of cheap at Target's after Christmas clearance last year.

It may be a little bit of a distraction when he need to go to sleep....


but it's a whole lot of worth it.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Shout Outs!

 There's a few shout outs I must give today.
  Shout Out #1:
 ....goes to Homemade baby food. It was fun and easy and I'm sure it saved money but it's way too much work for me to actually calculate it out. I did sweet potatoes, squash, peas, peas with potatoes, and broccoli with potatoes. I got a little crazy with the squashes and made an enormous amount, but then I remembered I can always pull a little Deceptively Delicious on my family and throw a few cubes in to my cooking.

Shout out #2:
.....goes to the incredible edible....egg salad sandwich. Sure I like to throw down a fancy meal every now and then, but nothing beats a simple cheap meal. At least once a month we have some sorta salad-y sandwich. Tuna, egg, chicken, this-that-and-the-other, etc. (Ah-ha! I've been trying to work that phrase in somewhere and I finally did it. That's a little shout out to my super cool friend, Julie!) I used a whole dozen eggs and wI just finished up the last bit for lunch. Henry's been asking for them for breakfast. So yeah, we all love an easy sandwich around here.

Shout Out #3
.....goes to my new hat I got on clearance at Target for $2.48. I'm not sure how I got around without it. I basically wear it every other day. Cuz I'm lazy like that.

Shout Out #4
....goes to my little boy. He may wake up way too early most days, but he makes up for it in his napping skills. A 2 1/2-3 hour nap is his norm. When he's not sleeping he's pretty much non-stop, so he needs it!

Shout Out #5:
....goes to my baby girl. She may not sleep through the night a majority of the time, but she takes long naps right along with her brother so this mommy usually has a quiet afternoon.


Shout Out #6:
Goes to my husband. He'll be turning the big 30 on Monday.
He's just the greatest guy ever.
 Our first date was almost 9 years ago.
I knew I wanted to marry him, seriously, 9 years ago after getting back from our first date.
For reals.
We've got a crazy, fun-packed weekend and week to look forward to, and I hope you all do too!
Have a great Thursday!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Seattle Anyone?

Anyone been to Seattle?

Any must see places?

Any recomendations for a date night with my hubby and no kids while celebrating a big 3-0 birthday (a few days late) in Seattle???

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Along with an old house comes lots of old trees.
And along with that comes lots and lots of leaves.

 And with that comes lots and lots of raking and jumping.
 And jumping.
 And jumping.
 And throwing.
 And throwing.

What a beautiful day.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Food, Food, and Food

 I had/have total intentions of making Harper's baby food. I did not with Henry. It didn't even cross my mind-I think being a first time mom was enough for me at the time. But this time around, I thought I'd give it a try. I'm hoping to save some money, I like the challenge of it, and it sounds healthy and fun. So far I've just been buying the regular baby food using some good coupons but hope to make a bunch and freeze this weekend. I feel like I just need a day set aside to do it all at once and then be done with it for awhile. One thing I have successfully tried this week is avacados. I bought a pack of 6 at Sam's that were $.98 a piece, which is quite a bit cheaper than other stores. Since they don't have the longest shelf life, we'll be eating them non-stop for a while. Thankfully Henry throws them down like it's no one's business, and getting there. The first night I mushed it up by itself. She kept opening her mouth, but was making horrible faces the whole time. Tonight I mushed it up with a few slices of banana and she ate it very well. By the time we are done with the pack of avacados I think she will successfully be sick of eating avacados.

 I got this book at a garage sale when Henry was little. It has good ideas on what foods mix well together/freeze/etc.

 I'm looking forward to trying this out...hopefully it goes well!

We have an exciting trip coming up and in the meantime, I'm trying to not spend much money on food and am trying to clean out our cupboards. This will not be hard. We've got plenty of food. Tonight I made garbanzo bean tacos. Tasty! I used my taco seasoning, a diced red pepper, a can of diced tomatoes,and black olives. Now I've only got 6 more cans of diced tomatoes to use. Have I mentioned how much I love Sam's Club?

Last night I made tomato soup and grilled cheese. Did you know you can make tomato soup from pasta sauce? Just throw in your fav sauce, add 2 cups of water, some extra dried or fresh seasonings if you so choose, 1/2 cup skim milk (or cream if you have it) and that's all.

My children took very long naps this afternoon so I baked some cookies that I need to deliver to someone tomorrow. They are chocolate thumbprint cookies with pumpkin spiced hershey kisses on top. They are tasty, but I can not get over how funny/weird they look. Seriously, they just look weird.

 I've refound my love for Goodwill recently. I found this beauty of an afghan for $5. Does it match anything in my house? No. Is it a beauty? Yes!


I also "needed" a new pair of jeans and could not justify going to the mall and paying for them. Have I mentioned my $5 limit on pretty much everything? Well, I found an excellent pair for $5.89ish. So I guess you can say I splurged. ;)

This month is coming and going already. I've got lots of fun painting projects to work on. A big trip to get ready for. Baby proofing our house for a little girl who is crawling. And lots of fun to be had.

*Oh, and if you haven't already, please click on the "Praying for Malachi" button at the top of my blog. It will link you to a blog by a sweet couple who used to go to our church. They have a beautiful almost-2-year-old little girl and just had a baby boy who has CHARGE syndrome. Please pray for him and their family!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Turtle and a Pumpkin

 The best turtle I know.
Sweetest little pumpkin ever...except missing something....
 There. Now we're accessorized!
 Much better.
 Went to a party at my brother's church. Henry golfed.
And went down a big slide.
 All the Bloom cousins met up to celebrate Elise's 5th birthday.
 Sweet little Ellie.

My nephew Ben just loves Harper. It's so cute.

It was a great weekend. And I am loving this extra hour today.


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