Esther 4:14b

"...and who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this."

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Countdown Begins

100 days until hubby and I are on our way to here:

12 nights and 13 days in the beautiful Cook Islands

And thus, my diet and workout regime start this coming Wednesday!

My friend Melissa & her husband did Medifast (not that either of them needed to lose a lot of weight) and she is my size and used it to lose the last few stubborn pounds like I am doing so I'm hoping it works. My order arrived in the mail this morning and I enjoyed my last piece of cheesecake last night at the Cheesecake Factory. I'll keep you posted with how I do on it in case any of you may be interested in trying it for yourselves.

Happy Reformation Day!

Yesterday was another birthday at work so in keeping with the fall/harvest/Halloween/Reformation Day theme I decided to make a jack-o-lantern "cake". It's made out of cupcakes arranged in the shape of a jack-o-lantern. I found the idea on

Here's a picture of the finished project:

Now I'm just waiting to see the picture of my little nephew dressed up like a turtle for his first time Trick or Treating.

NOTE: We didn't celebrate Halloween as a kid. Instead our church always threw a big Reformation party where we dressed up like Bible characters, played carnival games, and all went home with a lunch sack full of candy. So, this whole deciding what to do with this holiday is all new to my siblings and I.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tagged Again

You can all thank Emily for the opportunity to learn 7 more facts about me. And without further ado:
  1. I change my hairstyle a lot. In the first year of marriage, I've had at least 4 different styles. It normally goes something like grow it out for a couple years, chop it short, and then have a few different styles while it's growing out.

  2. My husband and I haven't gone on our honeymoon yet, but we're getting ready to go to the Cook Islands for 12 glorious days this coming February. In case you don't know where the Cook Islands are, check your map near Fiji.

  3. I finally changed my name on my social security card two weeks ago. My husband was not too happy when it caused us a delay in filing some papers we needed for the house. Don't ask me why I never changed it in the past year! Men have it so easy after they get married!

  4. I actually am enjoying all this election stuff, and while I'm ready for it to be over so we know who our leader is for the next 4 years, I secretly find it all fascinating.

  5. I would love to go on What Not to Wear and joke all the time about dressing really badly for a couple months and having someone video tape me, and then hide all my decent clothes before they come to raid my closet.

  6. I have a really hard time waking up in the morning, especially when it's dark outside.

  7. I'm thinking I must be really boring because I had a difficult time coming up with 7 facts about me!

Now, per the rules (and I'm a rule follower...I guess that could have been #7), I tag: Alexis, Megan, Kimberlee, Janea, Ally, Kara, & Tarah.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I've started Tivoing (is that even a word??) this show so that I can watch it in the evenings to get some good food and craft ideas. One of the recipes they showcased last week was Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.

Growing up, my mom always made the traditional whoopie pies every summer. They were one of my favorite treats (even if they were filled with a Crisco based frosting!) so I was looking forward to trying this fall version when I was home in Colorado this past weekend. They were tasty, but not as good as the original version according to me and my family.

Photo credit: "Baked: New Frontiers in Baking" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, coauthored with Renato Poliafito, October 2008)

Makes 12 whoopie pies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cloves
2 cups firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter,softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Make the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil until well combined. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.

  3. Using a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cookie comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on pan.

  4. Make the filling: Sift confectioner' sugar into a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla, beat just until smooth. (Filling can be made up to a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate; let stand at room temperature to soften before using.)

  5. Assemble the whoopie pies: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer filling to a disposable pastry bag and snip the end. When cookies have cooled completely, pipe a large dollop of filling on the flat side of half of the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edge of the cookies. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate cookies at least 30 minutes before serving and up to 3 days.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Out of Town...Again

This weekend we're on our way to Colorado for a wedding of one of our lifelong friends. His family was one of the first we met when my parents moved from Michigan to Colorado when I was one and a half, and we've been friends ever since.

Here are a couple pictures of me and him from back in the days when I think our parents were still dreaming that maybe two of their kids would marry each other (they have boys where we have girls and vice versa), but alas never happened.

Congrats Justin & Vale! Looking forward to celebrating with you guys!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mexican Food for my Colorado Soul

Being a Colorado girl, it almost goes without saying that I LOVE Mexican food. To be more specific, I love TEX-MEX.

It's been very hard for me to find a good Mexican joint where I live. It sounds silly, but I love the chain restaurants like On the Border. You'd think those are everywhere, right? Well, the closest one to us is about 45 minutes away. There are a few other "mom & pop" type joints close by, but I wasn't too crazy about them.

My husband teases me because I say they aren't "authentic". Afterall, have you ever had broccoli or carrots in your burrito at On the Border?

Well, a few months ago we found a new "mom & pop" restaurant right near us and they have AMAZING food! Plus, I've gotten to eat at On the Border twice in the past month while we were at our new house. There is hope for this Colorado girl's taste buds!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wedding Card

One of my favorite crafts to do is make handmade cards. They're just simple, but look just as nice as the ones you can buy in the store for $4. I made two like this for weddings we had this month. I used different trim on one of them, though, but like this trim better. This card only cost a dollar to make because I already had the card, envelope, paper, rub-ons, and trim. The only thing I had to buy was the "cake" and "wedding day" embellishments.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Let the Crafting Begin

It's been a long process (I think I started painting back in February), but last week I finally finished converting my husband's old bedroom into my craft room/dressing room.

The floors were supposed to be converted to hardwood, so I wasn't careful about painting, and hubby's sister's dog peed on them about 6 times, but the in-laws put the plan on laying hardwood on hold, so thus the carpet to cover up a lot of mess!

Behold the before and after shots:

These photos show the main difference between me and hubby. I'm a neat and organized (most of the time) and he wants to be neat and organized, but he's not. Guess that's why he married me! The mess is part of the reason why it took so long to convert the room because I wanted to throw out a lot of the "junk" and he wanted to keep it, but didn't want to sort through it and pack it up.

Hubby used both of these closets to hold his clothes plus the drawers in the desk/dresser thing. He has way more clothes than he ever wears, but I'm not allowed to get rid of any of them. During the process, I moved all his clothes to our bedroom which is to the left of the photo so that hopefully I won't be picking up after him in both rooms. I then moved all my clothes (minus the few in my dresser in our room) to the ONE closet on the right. Yes, you read that correctly, my husband has more clothes than me!

We packed away all the bears for safekeeping. My husband has been in this room since he was 3 years old, so there was a lot of memorabilia to pack away and sort through. I was able to narrow it all down to three boxes. Whew! I took down the shelves and put up new drapes. The collage of photos of me in the background was a Valentine's gift for him and now hangs by his closet in our bedroom. The blue paint definitely had to go!

Hubby's brother drew this baseball player on the wall when they shared a room. I was only allowed to paint over him after I took a photo for prosperity. I reused this dresser to store stuff along a different wall in this room.

I love my craft table! I found it at the Christmas Tree Shops. It was on sale for $10! It's a solid wood table and has HUGE service area. I wasn't looking for a table last year, but I knew this was too good of a deal to pass up. The bulletin board in the back I made from a scrap bulletin board we had at work and then I just put fabric over it to make it pretty and hot glued on some ribbons. The magazine holders will get painted white someday. The black boxes store the four current projects I'm working on and were one of my finds from my first visit to Ikea. I wanted white but the white ones weren't on sale. I just looked at the photo again and think I might paint this table white too. What do you think?

Yes, my hubby's mom put a flowery bedspread on his bed. It used to have a nice blue and tan stripe one when I first met him. Don't know what happened to that. The photo of the stock exchange has been put into safe keeping until it can get hung in hubby's office at the new house.

There's the dresser I repurposed. It's filled with gift wrapping supplies and gifts I collect throughout the year for people. Now, let the crafting begin!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Peanut Butter & Chocolate (or Dessert Overload)

This is one of my favorite flavor combinations and I made two recipes this past weekend that used these flavors.

First I made peanut butter pie for the company we had over on Friday night. Here's the recipe (courtesy of my mom):


1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat)
½ c. milk (I used skim)
1 c. powder sugar
½ c. smooth peanut butter
8 oz. Cool Whip (I used light)
Chocolate pie shell

Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Blend in sugar and peanut butter. Slowly add milk. Fold in Cool Whip. Put in prepared crust. Chill in freezer. Remove from freezer about 10-15 minutes before serving.

For mine, I chopped up peanut butter cups and sprinkled them all across the top and then I melted semi-sweet chocolate chips and drizzled that across the top in a crisscross pattern. Everybody said it looked store bought and loved how it tasted, even my hubby who hates cool whip.

The next recipe I made was chocolate cookies with reeses pieces. Hubby was in a wedding a couple weekends ago and at the rehearsal dinner they gave everybody these mini glass jars that held 1 cup of reeses pieces each. I knew if I didn't put them into something that I could share with people, I'd end up eating 2 cups of them (hubby's and mine) myself. I used the chocolate cookie recipe my mom uses at Christmas time, but I had some trouble with the batter. I chilled it in the fridge for about three hours, but they still had a hard time sticking together and the batter was to sticky to roll into balls.! They taste yummy, though.

CHOCOLATE COOKIES (with whatever "chip" you want)

½ c. butter
½ c. margarine
1 ½ c sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
2 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. cocoa (I used Hershey's special dark)
¾ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
2 cups of peanut butter chips or reeses pieces

Cream butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture. Stir in peanut butter chips. Chill until firm enough to handle. Shape dough into small balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet; flatten slightly with fork. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.

The same wedding also gave out Hershey kisses as favors at the actual reception so I gathered up all the extra favor boxes that people at our table didn't use and put them into this recipe:

1 box dark chocolate brownie mix & ingredients to make brownies for 9 x 13
12 oz. cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat)
powdered sugar (to taste)
vanilla (about 1 tsp)
milk (just a smidge)
chopped hershey kisses

Make brownies according to directions on box. Pour batter in pan and set aside. Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla until it's the desired sweetness. Add a little milk if it's too thick. Stir in chopped hershey kisses. Drop by spoonfuls over brownie batter. Use a knife to swirl the cream cheese mixture and brownie batter together. Bake according to directions on box. I had to add 10 - 15 minutes more to the baking time for mine, but just keep an eye on it. These also were met with rave reviews.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

At the house...again

We're at the house again this weekend. I know I've not kept my promise of posting photos of our progress, but really it's hard to tell that much has been done so far.

We've basically spent our time stripping spindles (all 215), tearing out the moldy wall board in the basement, installing automatic garage doors, putting iron bars on the garage windows, trimming the hedges and cleaning up the lawn, installing the security system, taking down a sample of the fascia and shipping it to have a mold made for a new one, meeting with the mason, meeting with the architect and the list could go on and on.

Once there are some more obvious before and after photos I'll try my best to get them up on this thing.

I'm really excited about the trip this weekend, though, because we're meeting with the architect to review the plans he came up with for our kitchen and master suite! Hopefully we can finally start to work on getting the hay off my kitchen walls and a stove and stuff put in so that we don't have to go out to eat every night we're there. After all, one can only take so many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Great Anniversary

Last Wednesday hubby and I finally had the opportunity to go and celebrate our anniversary. We had both seen Facing the Giants when it was on tv and were excited to see the new movie this group put out called Fireproof. It's all about fireproofing your perfect for an anniversary celebration, right?

It's only in a few theaters, so we had to make an hour trip north, but were happy to find our favorite burger joint right near the theater so we could grab a bite to eat first. Red Robin makes the best burgers and strawberry lemonade, so if you haven't eaten at one go now!

The movie was awesome! Highly recommend it to every engaged or married couple out there regardless of the state of your marriage.

Thanks hubby for such a wonderful anniversary!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Crank Called by a 1 year old

While I was at work yesterday, my cell phone rang. The caller ID said it was my sister, so picked it up only to hear a bunch of laughter from a certain one year old on the other end of the line followed by *click*.

I tried calling her back thinking that Braden accidentally pushed end, but while I was calling her back, she was calling me again.

I answered only to hear more laughter and then *click*. This happened once more and then I finally figured out that while mommy and daddy were still sleeping, my nephew was entertaining himself by crank calling his aunt.

He's lucky he's a cute little one and I love him! Can't wait to see you in a couple weeks, Braden!

Fall Weekend

I love fall.

The trees are bursting with color. The air is crisp. You get to wear all your cozy clothes. The smells of cider and pumpkin are amazing.

This past weekend we had perfect fall weather. Hubby and I took advantage of it by enjoying an hour walk through one of the local revolutionary war battlefields. It was so fun to walk through corn fields and peach and apple orchards and just imagine the soldiers fighting there. It was more a treat, though, because we went with the intention of hubby running while I walked which meant we weren't going to be together. What a treat when hubby grabbed my hand and decided to just spend the hour walking with me and enjoying the perfect fall day.

Fall and walks with my husband...just two of the things I'm thankful for.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Check your cards

If there's one lesson I've learned over the past week or so, it's check your cards before you throw them out. I've been working on the long process of going through all my old papers from before we got married, all our wedding cards, and my birthday cards (which was in February) and boy did I come across some nice surprises!

In the first set of wedding cards I went through a couple weeks ago, I found a $50 gift card to Macy's. Tonight as I was sorting through another box of wedding stuff, I came across a card that had a $100 check in it. I'm going to try to deposit it tomorrow, but I'm afraid it probably won't work seeing how it was written over a year ago! Then, to top it all off, I came across the birthday card my in-laws gave me this year only to open it and have $25 cash fall out.

I think the $175 has been worth all my cleaning effort! Hopefully the $100 part of that will be a success tomorrow.

My New Addiction

I've always been a sucker for poppy seed bagels, despite the fact that the seeds inevitably get stuck in my teeth.

Lately, though, my new addiction has been poppy seed bagels with light veggie cream cheese. Yum!

I don't let myself have them too often because I'm trying to cut down on carbs (at least that's what my head says, my mouth and stomach beg to differ), but on the rare occassion that I do, my mouth rejoices with every bite of the savory goodness.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Has it really been a year already?

One year ago today, I married the man of my dreams. We had a wonderful time spending three days with all our guests at the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch in Loveland, Colorado.

The aspens were at their peak, the weather was in the upper 70s - lower 80s and just as we left to head to Estes Park for a few days after the ceremony, it started to snow. We couldn't have asked for a better weekend to get married!

This year has flown by so quickly. It really does seem like just yesterday we got married. But, as I look back, I reflect on a few of the highlights from our first year of marriage:
  1. Survived living with his parents for a whole year and all four of us still enjoy each other's company
  2. Traveled to Costa Rica, Vancouver, Florida, Washington, Colorado & Michigan.
  3. Bought a house.
  4. Witnessed hubby winning re-election.
  5. And the list could go on & on.

Hubby was in a wedding this past Saturday for one of his buddies who was in our wedding. At the ceremony, the priest said that if you ask most couples a year after they're married how it's going, they'll say, "oh, it's okay, but..." Hubby and I strongly disagree. We love each other more today than we did last October 6th. Every day brings new adventures and opportunties to grow in our love and appreciate the other more.

I really wish I could post some of my favorite photos from our wedding day, but I'm still under orders to keep hubby's face off this blog, so for now, some photos without my groom will have to suffice. (I'm having trouble with the photo thing for now...I'll try to make a slide show this afternoon and post it later.)

I love you sweetheart. Make it home safely from Colorado so we can celebrate together tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mischief Times Two

Yesterday was the day when my sister went to find out if she's having a boy or a girl. The little one was very cooperative by lying spread eagle. And, it looks like we'll be getting one of these in a few months:

Isn't he such a cute big brother? He stole the spoon, though, from a restaurant so don't let that smile fool you! Can't wait to see him in a few weeks!