Esther 4:14b

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

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

(Sorry for this unappetizing photo. The guys at work got to the cake before I could take a picture. It tastes MUCH better than it looks. Promise!)

Yesterday was yet another birthday at work. In trying to stay in theme with fall I decided to go for something pumpkin flavored.

The recipe was really simple and the guys enjoyed it thoroughly.


1 box yellow cake mix
15 oz. canned pumpkin
2/3 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 cup chocolate chips
1 can cream cheese frosting
food dye
cocoa powder

Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips together for 2-3 minutes or until fluffy. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in pan and then invert onto serving plate.

For icing, I used 1 can cream cheese frosting and added cocoa powder to it to give it a brown hue and a little bit of a chocolate taste. If I had more chocolate chips, I would have prefered to melt those and drizzle those on top or use a jar of chocolate icing. I zap the frosting in the microwave for 30 seconds until it gets to a pourable consistency and then just drizzle over cake. I normally only use about a half a can. I then mixed up some powdered sugar, a little bit of milk and vanilla and some red and yellow food coloring to make an orange glaze to drizzle on top of the cocoa frosting. To decorate, I picked up some pumpkin spice candy corn from Walmart and sprinkled those around the cake. In hindsight, I should have just separated a bit of the cream cheese frosting and dyed that orange before I added in the cocoa to the rest, but my mind was a little distracted. Oh well! And, I'm not a fan of candy corn or Walmart, but this stuff was good! They also had chocolate caramel and caramel apple flavors.

Hope you all have a great Halloween today if you celebrate that or else Happy Reformation Day to the rest of us. Seeing how my hubs is out of town until tomorrow, I'm going to celebrate with a bowl of pumpkin soup, my tivo'd shows and some cross stitch.

Friday, October 30, 2009

News From a Dear Friend

Today I heard from my dear friend, Sonja.

We met in 2006 when she was looking for a place to live out east. She and her daughter had moved from Colorado to be closer to her fiancee who lived near Philadelphia. She was also a Christian. In fact, she was an answer to a prayer that I didn't even know I prayed. We roomed together for the year before I got married and in fact the four of us (adding my hubby in the mix) lived together for a couple of months after we got married until her wedding. Sonja became like an older sister to me. Us two Colorado girls had grand times out here on the east coast.

However, shortly after she got married, her hubby got transferred to Chicago and we were sad to part ways. A few months later, hubby and I bought the house we're remodeling in a city a few hours drive from Chicago. Well, a few weeks after that, she called to let me know that her hubby now got transferred to the same city where we bought the house! Does God work in awesome ways or what? Once again we would be able to have our "sister" times and raise our children together like we always wanted. We were super excited and anxious for hubby and I to move there full-time.

We took this picture the day before my wedding in October 2007. We were hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park and enjoying a fabulous day back in our home state.

This picture was taking in January 2008 at Sonja's wedding in Costa Rica. Her daughter, Jamie, and I were the bridesmaids. I was so happy to be there to witness Sonja marrying the man she had been waiting for for many years. She had Jamie at 19 from a prior marriage while she was in the Air Force and due to some personal reasons, ended up raising Jamie as a single mom for the next 14 years or so.

This past year Sonja and I lost touch for various reasons and a couple days ago, God laid it on both our hearts to contact the other. She sent me a text message, but I never received it because I don't have text messaging on my phone. I sent her an e-mail a couple days ago and when I didn't get a response, I figured I must have the wrong address.

Well, today as I was heating up my lunch, my cell rang and it was a number I didn't recognize. I answered it anyway (which I normally never do because I'm cheap and don't want to waste minutes!) and I'm sure glad I did because it was Sonja.

We settled things between us and then she broke the news. I thought she was going to say she was pregnant and I was going to be very happy for her but sad at the same time because we wanted to be pregnant together. At this point, I'd gladly take the news that she's pregnant because the news she shared with me is scary.

Sonja has Stage 4 CANCER.

Her chances are 3-5%.

It started in her breasts and metastasized to her lymph nodes and bones.

Barring a miracle from God, Sonja won't be on this earth much longer.


Her outlook is so positive right now as she is going through radiation and chemo. Next week she is shaving her hair and starting to wear a wig. She is trusting in our Lord to heal her and use her healing as a witness of His strength and power. She'll never be able to carry children again, but she and her hubby were undergoing fertility treatment and they do have one embryo waiting to be carried by a surrogate once Sonja wins this battle.

She has so much to live for and yet at age 35 she's been given a death sentence from cancer. I definitely do not understand the ways of the Lord, but I know his ways are good. I know he can heal. I know he can work miracles. We need a miracle now.

If you feel so inclined, please be praying for Sonja. She's in a lot of pain right now since it's in her bones. Please be praying for her daughter, Jamie. She's a junior in high school. Please be praying for her husband of less than 2 years. Please be praying for her mom, who already lost her other child to cancer at age 19. Most of all, please be praying for a MIRACLE and that more people would come to know Christ as their Savior as a result of Sonja's cancer.

This photo is of Sonja and her husband and daughter. It too was taken in October 2007. We now know that they're pretty sure she had the cancer long before this photo was ever taken.

Oh, and remember, NOTHING is more important than friendship and love. Never go a day, let alone a whole year, without letting those who are important to you know you love them and care for them.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Why Can't I Have a Snow Day?

I'm so jealous right now of all my friends in Colorado. Seems they're now enjoying their 2nd snow day of the year. Crazy the amounts of snow they're received this early in the season. When I was in school we were lucky if we had maybe two snow days the whole entire year.

The skiing out there is going to be A-M-A-Z-I-N-G this year due to all the snow they've been getting! Maybe hubby and I will be able to actually take advantage of the week at a condo in Aspen someone gave us. March seems like a good time to shoot for so we'll have to see.

I really wish they'd send some of that snow my way because this Colorado girl is seriously missing it. What I wouldn't give to have a snow day right now!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

I'm enjoying all things pumpkin this fall so I wanted to try this recipe I found last year - pumpkin swirl brownies. I made these on Saturday and they turned out more like a cross between a cake and a brownie because the batter was REALLY thick. But oh my they are DELICIOUS!

(photo courtesy of Martha

(a modified version of a Martha Stewart recipe)

1 stick unsalted butter
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1¾ cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
1¼ cups solid-packed pumpkin
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9” square baking dish with non-stick spray.

2. Melt chocolate and butter in heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.

3. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Beat sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy and well combined, 3 to 5 minutes (over high speed in order to get fluffy). Beat in flour mixture.

4. Divide batter between two bowls. Stir chocolate mixture into one bowl. In other bowl, stir in pumpkin, oil, cinnamon and nutmeg. Transfer half of chocolate batter to pan and smooth out. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat with remaining batter.

5. Use a table knife to gently swirl the two batters together to create a marble effect.

6. Bake until set, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan before cutting into squares.

NOTE: The recipe says it makes 16 squares. I doubled everything so I could make it in a 9 x 13 because we eat much larger size brownies than is a "typical" serving. It was really thick and took a lot longer to cook so next time I’ll probably just 1½ it. The original recipe also calls for all bittersweet chocolate, nuts sprinkled on top before baking, and cayenne pepper.

Monday, October 26, 2009

His Love & Forgiveness are Extravagant

First off, thank you so much to all those who contacted me to let me know they're praying for me and that I'm not alone in what I was going through.

While I never enjoy the times of refining fire, they are completely necessary and I'm so glad that God places those times in my life.

I e-mailed my hubby a copy of the post after I wrote it just to let him know how sorry I was and that God is working in my heart.

Well, when I got home Friday night, my hubby wasted no time modeling the extravagant love and forgiveness of our Lord and Savior.

When I got home from work he was so happy to see me and we enjoyed a nice dinner out that night with his parents to celebrate the end of hay season. He postponed his trip until this Tuesday so he could stay home a few more days with me. Saturday morning he woke up shortly before me and when I came downstairs to get us breakfast, he told me he was making me breakfast and made me Danish pancakes. Later that day he gave me a belated 2nd anniversary gift - a beautiful strand of pearls. Yesterday we had an awesome day at church and then went and walked 94 acres of farm land that we're looking into purchasing. It was a glorious day and I was so blessed to be the recipient of extravagant forgiveness and love beyond anything I could have asked for.

If my human husband acts this way, I can only imagine how much more my Heavenly Father is waiting to show his extravagant love, mercy and forgiveness.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I feel like I've written this post before and maybe I have, but I just need to use this space to process today. I may lose some readers, but I don't care. I have to be real and I need to put my thoughts down someplace where I can look back on them weeks, months, years from now and see (hopefully) how far I've come in this whole sanctification thing.

The statement of Paul's found in Romans 7:15 (NASB) sums up exactly what is running through my head right now:
"For what I am doing, I do not understand;
for I am not practicing what I would like to,
but I am doing the very thing I hate."

I don't know about you, but I am selfish. I say things I don't mean just because I'm so angry at the moment. I don't stop to consider what impact I'm having on the other person until long after the words have left my mouth or the glares have left my eyes. I'm a bear my soul, raise my voice and let it all fly type of person and then expect it all to be okay a few minutes later.

You know - "Whew! Got that off my chest. Now, let's move on." Only problem is most time the other person responds with something like - "Move on? Are you out of your mind? Do you have any idea how much what you just did/said hurt me? You want me just to get over it and move on?"

I'm not proud to say that this has been a life long struggle for me. When I used to watch my siblings during the summer, I'd make them call me drill Sargent and do push ups if they weren't doing their chores. Sure, we laugh about it now, but it definitely wasn't great for sibling bonding or one of the finest points of my childhood. In sixth grade I got sent to the Principal's office because I got in a fight on the playground over getting on/off the swings. Yeah, a great gal I was. The girl and I ended up becoming best friends for the rest of junior high, but still our relationship could have started in a much better way. And, I'm still too embarrassed to even come close to sharing about the numerous ways I have scarred my husband in the short five years we dated and two years we've been married. In fact, there are some days where I look back and think it's a miracle he married me at all.

Yeah, it been a daily dying to sin my whole life and it is a battle I'm seriously losing.

And, it seems that these last few months especially, the devil is trying everything he can to use this hideous sin I struggle with to drive a major wedge between me and the man I so desperately love - though my words and actions hardly reflect it at times.

Instead of being a wife last night who recognized that her man had been through an incredibly long day - up at the crack of dawn to unload 100s of bales of hay, offload our neighbors new staircase, and load up at least two more trailer loads of hay - and nicely giving him some time to unwind, watch the ballgame, take a phone call or two if he needed to, and maybe even give him a back rub to ease his aching muscles, I chose to pick a fight over one of his phone calls mainly because I felt it could have been shorter and he could have been spending more time with me. Yeah, I'm a real catch, huh?

The stupid thing is the whole time while he's on the phone I'm saying to myself in my head, "Let it go. You know if you react and get upset it's just going to end in a lot of hurt for both of you. Just let it go." As much as I wanted to do that, the very moment he got off the phone I turned into this person I despise. What could have been a great rest of the evening together instead ended up with two seriously hurting people and an empty spot in the bed next to me. First time that has ever happened (and hopefully the last) in our short two years of marriage.

Paul's words come back to haunt me, "For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to, but I am doing the very thing I hate."

Why? Why do I let myself act this way? Why do I do things that I know will cause sorrow and grief and pain? Am I just some sick, demented person who enjoys inflicting torture on others? Heck, I should just stick some nails into a 2x4 and start whacking that thing around. The end result would be the same...a child of God left feeling like chopped meat because of something I did or said.

In fact, I've actually physically done that to someone. You see, I did it to Christ on the cross. My sin left him with lashes across his back, nail scars in his hands and feet, a crown of thorns crushed into his scalp and a sword driven into his side. I've already made a human being, the Son of God, look like nothing but a piece of butchered flesh. Why do I insist on doing it to sons and daughters of God still?

I'm so frustrated and angry at myself right now. No, it's not just because I've already been promised that I will never receive flowers from my husband again (as a result of some stupid thing I did last time he sent them to me) or that my husband hasn't talked to me since the argument last night and most likely won't until he returns in a week from the business trip he leaves for tomorrow. These things bother me and hurt me deeply, but I'm frustrated and angry at myself because I still choose sin.

I've been redeemed by the Creator of the universe and I still choose to thumb my nose at his sacrifice when I treat others this way.

I'm sick and tired of it. And I'm scared. I'm scared that I'll lose my husband as a result of my anger. I'm scared that if the Lord ever blesses us with a child that I'll be a mother who beats her children. I'm scared that my actions cause my witness for Christ to be so dim that nobody even sees Him when they look at me.

There is only one place I can go from here; only one place where I can turn for my marriage to be restored and for the hurt I caused to be repaired. That place is at the foot of the cross.

There are dear friends I know who would give everything they have for one more day with their husband, one more day with their dad. Meanwhile, I'm hurting the spouse God has blessed me with like there's no tomorrow.

What a wretched person I am. If it weren't for the saving grace of the Lord, there would be no hope that I can become a better person. A better wife. A better sister, daughter, friend and witness. But thankfully, God has promised that He will continue to refine me and mold me to become more like his Son. Because He is not content for me to stay the way I am. I just wish I wouldn't hurt people so badly as I go through His refining fire.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Corn Chowder & French Bread

Every Christmas Eve my mom would make this delicious corn chowder. We'd go to the Christmas Eve service at church and then drive around and look at all the lights. When we got home, we'd change into our jammies and then settle in for a delicious bowl of soup and some Christmas cookies by the fire.

I loved the soup exactly how it was and could not get enough of it. But, I guess a few years ago for some reason my mom changed her recipe slightly. Don't know why, but I discovered this change when I went to make it a few days ago and was sorely disappointed. I quickly called my sister and got the original recipe from her and thus my soup came out as a combination of the two recipes. But, after tasting it, I think I'm going to make it this way from now on. It was just as creamy and delicious as I remember and had just a little extra kick to it thanks to the few additions from the new recipe. Plus, this new version can be made in the crockpot instead of having to keep a constant eye on it at the stove.


½ lb. bacon, cut up
1 medium onion, chopped
4-5 medium potatoes, diced and peeled
1 c. water
15 ¼ oz. can whole kernel corn, drained
15 oz. can cream style corn
1 T. sugar
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. kosher salt
¼ t. pepper
½ block of Velveeta (large size block)
4 c. milk (I used skim and it still turned out really creamy)

Fry bacon until crisp; remove from pan. Add potatoes and onions to bacon drippings and sauté for 5 minutes. Drain. Combine all ingredients, but milk and cheese in crockpot; mix well. Cook on low about 5-6 hours or until potatoes are tender. Add milk and cheese; cook one more hour or until cheese is melted and soup is warmed through.

In my continuing quest into making yeast breads, I decided to make some French bread to go with the soup. I used the recipe found in my Southern Living cookbook and was very happy with the results. For little effort and few ingredients, I ended up with three beautiful loaves (that freeze well). The bread was so good and much more cost efficient than buying it (especially considering that my grocery store had 5lb bags of flour on sale for 99 cents a bag last week...I stocked up).


½ cup warm water (100° to 110°)
2½ tsp sugar
2 (¼-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
1 cup boiling water
2 Tbsp butter
2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup cold water
6½ to 7 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg, beaten
2 Tbsp milk

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a 1-cup liquid measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.

2. Combine boiling water, butter, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir until butter melts. Add cold water; cool mixture to warm (100° to 110°). Stir yeast mixture into liquid mixture. Add 2½ cups flour. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.

3. Let dough stand in bowl 10 minutes. Stir gently for a few seconds; cover. Repeat gentle stirring every 10 minutes for the next 40 minutes.

4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface; divide into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 13- x 8-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Roll up, jelly-roll fashion, starting with long side; pinch ends to seal.

5. Place each loaf, seam side down, on a separate greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, about 40 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

6. Make diagonal slits about ¼ inch deep down the length of loaves, using a sharp knife. Combine egg and milk in a small bowl, beating until blended. Brush gently over loaves after rising.

7. Bake at 400° for 20 to 25 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped. (Bread freezes well.)

Yield: 3 loaves, 12 servings each

P.S. If you look closely in the picture, you can see where I didn't get my egg wash all the way over the bread. The less golden parts got missed.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

DIY Day - Sock Monkey

Today is DIY day over at A Soft Place to Land. This week I'm linking up with one of my newest creations.

I just recently learned how to use my mother-in-law's sewing machine. If you've been here for any length of time, you know that I've wanted to learn how to use it for a long time but that it always freaked me out because it's one of those high speed commercial ones. This thing zips along with little room for error - unless you want to do a lot of seam ripping that is!

I finally learned how to use it because I've been assigned the job of sewing the velcro on the patches we have to make to stick on cows rears for one of the companies we run. Don't ask. It's part of life on a farm and all the different things associated with animal breeding.

Anyway, I decided to try my hand at making my oldest nephew a sock monkey for Christmas. Funds are a little tight this year so I'm trying to make as many things as possible. This project was CHEAP! All it cost me was the $3.24 for the pair of socks I found at Target. I already had the stuffing and buttons and thread. I orginally got the idea for the sock monkey from Monica at The Homespun Heart. She made them for her kids last Christmas. If you click over here, you'll find the link to the pattern/instructions we used.

So, what do you think? I'm pretty happy with the way he turned out and I think Braden will absolutely love him when he opens him on Christmas morning.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I won!!!

While letting my breakfast of honey wheat pancakes with apples settle, I decided to check my e-mail.

Remember how I entered Centsational Girl's faucet giveaway? Well, I did a little happy dance (ask my hubby he'll vouch for it) when I just saw her e-mail saying that I won!!!


I now am the proud (soon to be) owner of a brand spankin' new faucet for my kitchen. I may not have walls or cabinets, but I have a faucet people. Oh yeah...moving on up in the world!

Thanks, so much Kate! I love your blog and am hoping to use many of your ideas as we continue to move forward with your renovation.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Finally Updated my Shop

I know it seems like it's been F-O-R-E-V-E-R, but I finally posted some new items at Divine Creations. Head on over and check them out when you get a chance.

I'm headed home soon to watch our Yankees take on the Angels (providing the rain holds off). What a great start to a weekend that looks like it should be filled with more crafting time! Yeah!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Coconut Marble Cake

(photo courtesy of Woman's Day magazine online)

We had company over on Sunday night so I figured it was the perfect time to try this recipe I saw in a recent issue of Woman's Day magazine.

I was so excited when my cake turned out EXACTLY like the one in the photo! While not my favorite cake ever, it was definitely delicious and one I'll most likely make again.


1.5 sticks (3⁄4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1.5 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2.25 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp almond extract
1⁄2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, finely chopped

Chocolate Drizzle: 1⁄2 cup semisweet chocolate chips melted with 1.5 tsp oil
Garnish: toasted coconut

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10-in. (12-cup) bundt pan.

2. Beat butter, sugar, baking powder and vanilla in a large bowl with mixer on high 3 minutes or until fluffy.

3. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each. On low speed, beat in flour in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions, just until blended, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Stir in almond extract just to combine.

4. Melt chocolate chips in a medium glass bowl in microwave as pkg directs. Cool slightly, then stir in 1.5 cups batter until blended.

5. Stir coconut into remaining batter. Spoon 2 cups into prepared pan. Drop spoonfuls of chocolate batter into pan, leaving spaces between each dollop. Drop spoonfuls of coconut batter between chocolate batter. Repeat, alternating batters. Run a knife through batters to marbleize.

6. Bake 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes before inverting cake on rack to cool completely.

7. Drizzle: Scrape melted chocolate into a small ziptop bag. Cut a tip off 1 corner and pipe chocolate over cake; sprinkle with toasted coconut.

NOTE: I've never had a problem with my Bundt cakes not wanting to come out of the pan until this cake. I greased and floured the pan the same way, but it still split in the middle as it was coming out. Thankfully I could cover up the seams with the chocolate drizzle and coconut. Next time I'll try greasing it even more I guess.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Excited to be a Part

When I was in high school, my family got involved with a small church plant. Over the years, the church met in hotels, school gymnasiums, and other churches. I was well accustomed to all the behind the scene work that goes into having a full-time church in a temporary home. The church we originally attended (the one that was the "parent" church) was very large, but we felt connected because we were plugged in to Sunday school glasses, midweek activities, choir and the youth group. The plant church was obviously much smaller, but it enabled you to connect with people at an even deeper level. The plus sides where that you got to know everyone a lot better. The downside was that you got to know everyone a lot better. In other words, there were no secrets at times it seemed. But, there's something good about really being connected to a church body.

For the past few years, hubby and I have been attending a large size church. We love the worship and are even more blessed when we get to hear the assistant pastor speak because we just connect with his preaching. But, we haven't really ever felt truly connected to this church. Part of it may be that they really don't have Sunday school classes because they prefer to focus on small groups that met during the week in various homes. Due to our hectic schedules that vary from week to week, we never really got plugged into one of these.

However, a few weeks ago we learned that the assistant pastor was going to be the senior pastor at a new plant church we're starting. At first we were bummed because we thought it was going to be further from where we live (we already have at least a 35 minute drive each way to the church we attend) and we were really going to miss his preaching. But, when we googled it, we were excited to see that it was actually only about a 25 minute drive each way instead.

Well, yesterday was the first "dry run" for the group of us who have volunteered to help with the weekly set up and tear down of our new church home. This time, we're having church in a movie theater. How awesome is that!? So, hubby and I were thoroughly introduced to the ins and outs of setting up the speakers and subwoofers and oh man is it going to be awesome at our first service next Sunday! We were even more excited because it's a great group of young people and young married couples (as well as a few in their early 40s) who are involved with this church plant. We had a great time connecting with the pastor (who is also our age) and met more people in the four hours we were there yesterday than we have in the entire three years we've been at the "parent" church. We're so excited to be a part of this new ministry and look forward to reaching out to the people and college students in this neck of the woods.

Wanna win a free faucet?

I'm only letting you all in on this so that I can get a second entry to win a gorgeous faucet for our kitchen renovation. I mean seriously...if one of you wins after I tell you about this, I think I'm just going to have to cry.

But, in all fairness....If you want to be entered to win a brand new faucet, hop on over to Kate at Centsational Girl and enter for your chance to win.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Visit to the New Yankee Stadium

Every year hubby and I try to make it to Yankee Stadium to watch his favorite team play for his birthday. We haven't been able to go the past couple years due to finances, but we were really eager to see the new stadium.

It was such a treat when my boss gave us two free tickets for the last regular season home game a couple weeks ago. The stadium is absolutely gorgeous and there isn't a bad seat in the house. Unfortunately the Bronx Bombers lost, but they almost pulled it out in the end.

I got a kick out of the evening because it was a brisk night but I was actually warmer than hubby was. Don't think that's ever happened before and probably never will again!

Hubby in front of the stadium (guy on left looking at camera)

The view from our seats. They were nosebleeds, but you could still see great. I was surprised hubby went down willingly when I asked him for a photo!

The plasma screen in center field was amazing!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Raising the Walls

Here are the latest pictures of the work on our house from a couple weeks ago. We have most of the framing done in the kitchen. Just need to finish laying the sub floor in the area seen below and then we can frame that out.

Hubby and I are heading back out for a quick trip this weekend to drop off a washer and dryer, winterize the house, and pick up his little plants so we can keep on eye on them over the winter. He'll go out again for a couple more weeks the end of the month to get a few more small projects done.

We just need to put in the fire stops and then the rough plumbing and electrical so we can insulate and put up dry wall. We're hoping to build all the cabinets ourselves over the winter because I work for a cabinet shop that can do all the machining for us. This way we can also do the painting and glazing exactly how we want it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Parmigiano Pumpkin Soup & Rosemary Onion Rolls with Blue Cheese Topping

Lately I've fallen in love with making yeast breads.

It all started with the craving for homemade, fresh from the oven pitas and has expanded to include pizza dough [for our weekly Sunday night pizza night], apple cider doughnuts [not technically a yeast bread, but still in the general category], and now fresh rosemary and caramelized onion rolls with a blue cheese topping.

This latest recipe I found while reading The Pioneer Woman. I just recently discovered her and oh my does her food look downright delicious. I mean, you gain 5 pounds just looking at some of her recipes! Plus, she's an incredible story teller and I love reading her story of how she and Marlboro Man fell in love. Forget Martha Stewart, I want to be Ree when I grow up!

When I found the roll recipe I knew it would go perfect with the pumpkin soup recipe I found while flipping through American Lifestyle magazine last time we were out working on the house. This magazine was sent to us courtesy of our realtor and most time I just throw it away after a quick flip through, but this time the section on crockpot recipes caught my eye. I sure am glad I stopped to look because this soup is perfect for a crisp fall evening.

In fact, both these recipes are so good that they'll result in marriage proposals. No joke. I know because it happened to me yesterday. And not from my husband. Shh! Don't tell him!

(recipe and photo courtesy of Art of the Slow Cooker via American Lifestyle magazine)

2 T olive oil (I used 1 T of butter because I was out of oil)
2 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into thin strips (I used 4 strips of crumbled bacon)
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (about 28 oz.) Libby's 100% pure pumpkin
2 quarts chicken broth
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper (I used black because I was out of white)
1/2 cup cream (I used light, but a full 8 oz. to make it creamier)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 T chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I forgot to put it on, but it tasted fine without it)

1. Heat the oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the prosciutto, and saute until crisp and frizzled. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. If using bacon, I do mine on paper towels in the microwave. Cover with another paper towel and microwave on high approx. 1 minute per slice. Cool and crumble.

2. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and saute until tender (do not brown). Add the garlic, and cook for a few seconds, until aromatic. Stir in the pumpkin, broth, nutmeg, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Transfer to a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, cover, and cook for 3 to 4 hours on high, or 6 to 8 hours on low.

3. Stir in the cream and Parmesan and heat through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley and serve with crumbled bacon or prosciutto on top.


1 tablespoon butter
1 large yellow onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups bread flour (I used regular because that's all I had)
2 teaspoons kosher salt (more to taste)
Freshly chopped rosemary to taste (be generous!)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Saute sliced onions and minced garlic in 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Cook them until brown and caramelized, about 8 to 10 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes.

Pour warm water into a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast on top. Add sugar and olive oil, then stir gently with a fork until combined. Set aside.

Combine flour and salt in a separate bowl. To the yeast mixture, add flour mixture, onions, and rosemary in alternating ingredients, stirring gently until dough is combined. (It’ll be sticky!)

Generously flour a flat surface. Knead dough 15 to 20 times, adding flour generously to make it easier to handle. (Keep it sticky, though!)

Drizzle olive oil in a separate bowl, then add ball of dough, turning to coat. Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm spot for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.Divide dough into eight portions, and form a rough round from each piece. Place on a baking mat or parchment paper, then cover with a towel and allow to rise for 15 to 20 minutes.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until brown. Brush with butter halfway through baking time.To top with blue cheese, either place crumbled blue cheese on completely baked rolls and allow it to soften naturally, OR remove the rolls with five minutes baking time left, top with cheese, and return to the oven to bake/allow cheese to melt.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

To round out the soup and rolls, I added a salad with crumbled blue cheese, apple slices, craisins and walnuts. It was a delicious and light fall dinner!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Apple Cider Doughnuts

I was blog stalkin' the other day and came across a recipe for apple cider doughnuts. They sounded and looked downright heavenly, and my hubby loves special treats for weekend breakfasts, so I decided to make them this past weekend. What could be better for a crisp fall morning?

My dough was a little too sticky to work with the biscuit cutter, so I just used two spoons and dropped in dough balls to make tiny fritters. Next time I'll try adding more flour to my dough. I also didn't take the time to make the glaze the recipe calls for, but they need just a little something extra so I'll make it next time as well. Here are the steps in photos:

1. Chop two McIntosh apples.

2. Add cider and cook over medium heat.

3. Cook until apples are softened and most of the cider is absorbed.

4. Puree apples and cider in a food processer (or blender) until smooth.

5. If necessary, return sauce mix to stovetop to reduce further. Set aside to cool.

6. Combine all dry ingredients except sugar. Set aside.

7. Combine some of the sugar and the shortening with mixer until it resembles coarse sand.

8. Add eggs and blend.

9. Add cooled apple sauce.

10. Mix in 1/2 the flour mixture, the buttermilk, vanilla and the rest of the flour mixture.

11. Combine to a sticky not overmix.

12. Place dough on lightly floured piece of parchment (I didn't have any as you can see) and shape into 7 x 11 square 1/2" thick. Chill for 2 hours or overnight.

13. Heat 2" of oil until a deep fry thermometer reads 350. Drop doughnuts in a few at a time and turn frequently until browned.

14. Remove to a paper towel to drain. If wanted, drizzle with glaze and cinnamon sugar.

Here is the recipe I used (according to the blog I took it from, it's courtesy of the Food Network):


1/4 t. baking soda
3 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg
1 2/3 c. granulated sugar
3 T. vegetable shortening
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 c. buttermilk
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 c. confectioners' sugar
Vegetable oil, {for frying}
2 red apples {such as Cortland or McIntosh}
2 1/2 c. apple cider
3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour {more for dusting}
4 t. baking powder

Core and coarseley chop the apples {do not peel}. Combine with 1 1/2 cups of cider in a medium saucepan over medium heat; cover and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the apples are tender and the cider is almost completely reduced, about 5 minutes. Pureee with an immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth. Measure the sauce; you should have 1 cup. {Boil to reduce further, if necessary}. Let cool slightly.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.

Beat 2/3 cup granulated sugar and shortening in another bowl with a mixer on medium speed until sandy. Beat in the egg and yolk, then gradually mix in the applesauce, scraping the bowl. Beat in half the flour mixture, then the buttermilk and vanilla, and then the remaining flour mixture. Mix to make a sticky dough; do not overmix.

Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper and pat into a 7-by-11 inch rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: Simmer the remaining 1 cup cider in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to 1/4 cup. Whisk in the confectioners' sugar until smooth and glossy, then set aside. Mix the remaining 1 cup granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a shallow bowl; set aside for the topping.

Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until a deep fry thermometer registers 350°. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Cut the chilled dough into 12 rounds, using a floured 2 1/2 or 3 inch biscuit cutter, then cut out the middles with a 1 inch cutter {or use a doughnut cutter}. Slip 2 or 3 doughnuts at a time into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side, adjusting the heat as needed. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Dip one side of each doughnut in the cider glaze, letting the excess drip off; dip just the glazed side in the cinnamon-sugar or roll all over in cinnamon-sugar, if desired. Serve warm.

Now, here's the photo of what they're supposed to look like (photo courtesy of Food Network magazine):

As you can tell, mine didn't turn out like this, but they were still very delicious!

Happy 2nd Anniversary, My Love!

Two years ago today I married the man of my dreams. We had a wonderful weekend of celebration at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch in Loveland, CO. About 150 of our friends and family came in on Thursday night to enjoy a couple days of food, fun, laughs, hiking, shopping, fishing and horseback riding before the big day. Hands down it was the best weekend of our lives!

The fall weather and color of the aspen trees was glorious. Here my dad is giving me away at the altar.

Reciting our vows that we wrote ourselves by combining different bits and pieces of others we found in books.

Hubby said the parts in blue; I said the parts in pink and we said the parts in black together:

I, [hubby's name], choose you, [my name], and I, [my name], choose you, [hubby's name] in the presence of our friends and families, to be my wife, to be my husband, from this time forward.

To love you and to be a comfort and safe haven in your life, to hold you close and listen deeply when you speak, to nourish you with my gentleness, to uphold you with my strength, to weigh the effects of the words I speak and the things I do, to never take you for granted, and to always give thanks for your presence in my life, loving you now and as you grow and develop into all that God intends. I will love you when we are together and when we are apart; when our lives are at peace and when they are in turmoil; when I am proud of you and when I am disappointed in you; in times of rest and in times of work. I will be at your side through all of life’s challenges and joys as we become one in spirit before God. I promise to give of myself to you in every way I can, and to care for you and protect you as I would my own self. I promise to be faithful to you in this life, and to be honest and true to our union until God, in his perfect wisdom and timing, calls one of us Home.

Lighting the unity candle. It was so windy that it never actually lit, but we sure loved laughing about it and joking that we hoped it didn't symbolize our marriage!

Leaving in a gorgeous horse drawn carriage. Our guests had the opportunity to go for rides while we were having our photos taken during cocktail hour.

One of my favorite photos from the day. The weather was absolutely perfect...just started to snow as we drove to where we were staying that night and the next day all the leaves started to fall from the trees. Thank you, Jesus!

We used this photo (below) in black and white for our thank you card. We had glossy postcards made and in the bottom left corner I put "Thanks from the Mr. & Mrs." I still see a lot of them framed as photos in friends and families houses.

A kiss during our first dance. The reception was in a covered pavilion and we strung white lights through all the rafters and then draped the posts with cream muslin. It was dreamy!

Thanks for indulging me in my wedding flashback. I dreamed about that day since I was a little girl and it turned out even better than I could have imagined.

Hubby, thank you for a great first two years of marriage! The highlights from this year include: our honeymoon trip to the Cook Islands in February, a trip to Italy in April, the birth of our second nephew, many road trips for work, and a lot of fun times working on renovating our house. Looking forward to what this next year holds for us!