Thursday, January 31, 2008

Much Too Excited


Remember when stinkin' Brad Womack broke both of his bachelorette's hearts on The Bachelor last fall? Ugh...just thinking of it makes my temperature rise.


Well! DeAnna - the sweet little Greek, Southern belle - who I adore, is going to be the next Bachelorette!

DeAnna - so cute!



The Bachelorette starts this summer and I just can't wait!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Strange Happenings

The weather here has been completely off the wall today. We woke up to 65 degree temps this morning...that's ok with me! I tore open the drapes and opened every window I could find. Literally, a breath of fresh air.
And then things went weird. In a matter of a couple of hours we had lovely high temps, moved to eerie wind gusts that brought a more characteristic January chill, rain, hail and then huge, glorious snowflakes!
What a strange day...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

They Come In 3's...

I've been tagged by Lyndee at her blog, Storyweaver's Knapsack, to post three recipes from the most delightful dinners that I've had.

In turn, I am to tag three other unsuspecting bloggers. :) I'll tag Jordan, Sandy and Beth. But if you want to jump in on this one...consider yourself tagged! You must tell the story of why the recipe is so fond to you!


Chocolate Covered Tuxedo Strawberries


These cute little treats were served at my wedding reception. Over 100 of the decorated strawberries adorned a platter beneath the lighted tent that sat under the stars that night. Everyone "oohed" and "aahed" over them and sunk their teeth in with a juicy bite.



12 oz. dark chocolate pieces
12. oz. white chocolate pieces
1 dozen strawberries
Preparation:
Wash and dry strawberries, leaving stems on. Melt white chocolate over low heat. Remove from heat and stir until creamy, about 5 minutes. Melt dark chocolate in same manner as the white chocolate. Dip the cooled strawberries into the white chocolate about half the way up. Place on wax paper until the chocolate has cooled. Next, dip the strawberries on 2 sides, leaving a V-shaped white center. Place on wax paper to cool.
Using a piping bag with a small nozzle, pipe on bow and a few buttons.
Chef's Notes:
There are different chocolates. Chocolate liqueur is produced by grinding the cocoa bean nib (center) to a smooth, liquid state. It can then be cooled and molded into blocks also known as unsweetened baking chocolate. The liqueur and blocks contain roughly 53 percent cocoa butter. The semisweet (bittersweet) chocolate is a chocolate liqueur to which sweeteners and cocoa butter have been added. Also known as dark chocolate. According to government standards, it must contain at least 34 percent chocolate liqueur. Its fat content averages 27 percent. Sweet chocolate contains more sweeteners than semisweet chocolate and at least 15 percent chocolate liqueur. It is used mostly for decorating and garnishing. The fat content is similar to semisweet. Milk chocolate is cocoa butter, milk, sweeteners and flavorings which are added to chocolate liqueur. It lends itself to good use for garnishes and candy coatings. All milk chocolate made in the U.S. contains at least 10 percent chocolate liqueur and 12 percent whole milk. Finally, there is white chocolate and it contains cocoa butter but no nonfat cocoa solids. It is mostly used as a coating and contains sugar, cocoa butter, milk solids and flavorings.
A great way to use leftover chocolate is to melt it and dip pretzels, cookies, dried fruits, etc. into it for a great treat
You can take melted chocolate and cool it slightly and place in a piping bag and make chocolate swirls, etc. to decorate any dessert.



l

Broccoli Salad


I served this the second Christmas that Mr. B. and I were married. It was my first "real" holiday hosting experience. I made a roast along with roasted vegetables and served this delicious and festive salad on the side. Mr. B.'s family was in attendance (my wonderful in-laws) and I got quite a few appreciative comments.



5 cups fresh broccoli florets
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup hulled sunflower seeds
1/2 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
1/4 cup of red onion, chopped
.
Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 cup sugar


PREPARATION:
Combine broccoli florets, raisins, sunflower seeds, crumbled bacon, chopped onion, and peas in a large serving bowl. In a separate bowl or large cup, whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar and sugar. Add dressing to the salad and toss to mix well; chill thoroughly before serving.




l


Coconut Shrimp


Mr. B. - sweet man that he is - knew that coconut shrimp was my favorite meal at Red Lobster and Outback Steakhouse, so he ventured to make me some for our first Valentine's Day together. He did a surprisingly AMAZING job!
I came home from a long day at the Clinique counter to fresh flowers, a multi-course meal (including this recipe) and a husband ready to pamper me silly


Pina Colada Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup pina colada nonalcoholic drink mix
1/4 cup crushed pineapple (canned)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Shrimp
6-8 cups canola oil (as required by fryer)
12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 1/2 pound)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons captain morgan Parrot Bay coconut rum
1 cup panko Japanese-style bread crumbs
1/2 cup flaked coconut


Prepare pina colada dipping sauce first by combining all the ingredients.
Cover this and let it chill out in the fridge while you make the shrimp.
Heat oil to 350 degrees.
Measure 3/4 cup of flour into a medium bowl.
In another medium bowl mix together the remaining 3/4 cup flour, sugar, and salt.
Stir milk and rum into flour mixture.
Let this batter stand for five minutes.
While the batter rests, combine panko breadcrumbs and shredded coconut into a third medium bowl.
Butterfly cut each shrimp before you start the battering: Use a sharp knife to slice through the top of the shrimp (where the vein was) so that you can spread the shrimp open.
Leave the tail intact.
To batter the shrimp, dip each one in the flour, then the wet batter, then coat each shrimp with the panko/coconut mixture.
Arrange the shrimp on a plate until all of them are battered.
Fry the shrimp by dropping six at a time into the hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes or until the shrimp are golden brown.
Remove shrimp to a rack or paper towels to drain.
Serve shrimp with pina colada dipping sauce on the side, along with a small dish or your favorite salsa.






That's it! Now, do it...and don't forget the stories. They're the best part!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Chocolat

I adore this store.



Don't you?

I just found out that there is one blessedly close to my house (thanks for the heads-up, Ash!) so I bundled the kiddies up this morning and we ventured out.


I found some delightful sales in the chocolate department. Of course, I would find the chocolate department! I got a cute hot chocolate maker just like this white one. I can't wait to use it.
And some E. Guittard dark chocolate. Which, I am told, is the stuff The Barefoot Contessa and Emeril use. Ohhh La La!
And I also came home with a sweet little chocolate mill that I couldn't find a picture of. But think of a pepper mill with the work chocolate on the side. Too perfect! I can't wait to make the perfect cup of chocolat chaud for myself and my mom tonight.
And isn't this movie luscious? It's the one movie in which I can handle Johnny Depp...



Thursday, January 24, 2008

4 Things

FOUR JOBS I'VE HAD:

1.) Clinique Consultant. Probably one of my favorites except for the micro-managing boss breathing down my neck.

2.) Nurse's Assistant in Assisted Living. NOT one of my favorites.

3.) Bakery Attendant. Most fattening.

4.) Church Secretary.


FOUR PICTURES I LOVE:





FOUR MOVIES I'D WATCH OVER & OVER AGAIN:

1.) The Notebook.

2.) Gone With the Wind

3.) The Sound of Music

4.) Little Women




FOUR PLACES I HAVE LIVED:

1.) Minneapolis, MN

2.) DC suburbs, VA

3.) Chicago suburbs, IL

4.) Sunny California




FOUR BLOGS I READ DAILY:

1.) Chez Fifi

2.) Always On My Mind

3.) {a}

4.) Jezebel




FOUR FAVORITE THINGS TO EAT:

1.) Pure, Dark Chocolate

2.) Clementines (when they're in season)

3.) Lemoncello Cream Torte

4.) Coconut Shrimp




FOUR PLACES I WOULD RATHER BE:

1.) Italy

2.) Minneapolis visiting friends

3.) A beach...with a tan...with my husband...with a drink in hand...

4.) A spa




FOUR THINGS I LOOK FORWARD TO THIS YEAR:

1.) Vacation - where? I do not know...but I say this in faith.

2.) Watching my babies grow.

3.) Hitting my goal weight.

4.) Falling more in love with Mr. B.

Charming

I want one of these:





From here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Melt-A-Mommy

Beck and Mrs. B. last August.

I got to experience a new parenting joy today.
Beck was happily munching his crackers and cheese and paused to glance my way and say, rather contentedly and confidently, "I love you, Mom."
I stopped. I looked at him. I melted. I ran over and covered his little cherub face in grateful kisses. He giggled...I think he even blushed. And then he topped it off with, "So much!"
Now, "I love you so much" is a phrase we say often in my house. But it's always myself or Mr. B. initiating the sentiment. Never before has my boy just sprung it on me out of the blue.
A sure fire way to melt your mommy into a blubbering puddle of goo!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Specialists in Living


"The return of good times is not wholly a matter of money. There is a prosperity of living which is quite as important as prosperity of the pocketbook. It is not enough to be willing to make the best of things as they are. Resignation will get us nowhere. We must build what amounts to a new country. We must revive the ideals of the founders. We must learn the new values of money. It is time for pioneering - to create a new security for the home and the family...Where we were specialists in spending, we are becoming specialists in living."
~October 1932 issue of Ladie's Home Journal
(During the Depression.)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Anne Taintor

Isn't she just funny?



Saturday, January 19, 2008

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Programming...

The FDA has declared children's cold medicine too risky for children under the age of 2. Read the CNN story here.

So, here it is cold season - and my family is being hit hard - and I can't give the little one any meds to soothe her.

There must be some really crazy side effects of this stuff that the FDA is putting out a warning against cold meds but saying nothing about the poison they're pumping into kids and calling "vaccinations."

Hmmm...





End of Public Service Announcement and Soap Box Promotion.

She.

She probably isn't born yet. She has not even been conceived.
But she's here. Way down inside. She's in the very deepest part of me.
She is where cold and dirt cannot penetrate. She is in a place that does not allow her to be touched by rejection.
She is thought of. She is nurtured. She is loved.
She is a tiny seed. A little light. A twinkle.
Way. Down. Deep.


l

I am reading this book. Forever Lily. It is a memoir of an adoption in China. It is re-awakening things in me.

Mr. B. and I talked about adopting from China before we were even engaged...almost before we started dating. It was one of his "deal breakers." If I wasn't willing to take in one of China's orphans, I couldn't take him.
I said I would, with all my heart.

I have never had to put down a book so that I could cry. I had to do that with Forever Lily last night. The account of these abandoned babies in their prison of an orphanage was too much.
When I said I would adopt all I saw was a bouncy, round-faced baby. I didn't see my heart breaking for her. I didn't see it as a rescue mission.

Now, I do.

I had Mr. B. read the few pages in the book about the orphanage. When I came into the room and asked what he thought he looked at me with blood-shot eyes.
He said, "We could take ten..."

Friday, January 18, 2008

5 Years and Counting...

Until we are eligible to begin our Chinese Adoption process.


Hey, Martha, You So Fine!

Well, maybe Martha Stewart isn't fine, but her decorating sure is!

I took these pictures of Skylands, her summer home on the coast of Maine, from her website.

Her style in this home is pretty rustic, but I guess if I had a few homes to decorate I'd choose rustic for one of my styles too!

The picture below is probably my favorite. Wanna guess why?

It's a book corner! :)

Tootles, I'm off to dream and pretend that I live in this house!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Maybe I'll Just Make A Trifle...

Mr. B. : January Work-A-Holic Syndrome
Mrs. B. : Desperate (Sick) Housewife
Beck: Double Ear-Infection & Sore Big Toe (don't ask...)
Evie: Rattle Chest, Faucet Nose, Whiney Little Bratitis

Instead of all this, I will post about a dearly delicious dessert that I adore. Maybe it will make the above go away...then again...probably not.



Cherry Trifle


1 box yellow cake mix
1 large box instant vanilla pudding
1 can crushed pineapple
1 can cherry pie filling
1 large tub cool whip (I like to whip my own heavy whipping cream instead of cool whip)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup coconut
Prepare cake mix as directed on the box. Let cake completely cool. Cut cake into small squares (or crumble).
Prepare pudding mix as indicated on box.
Layer in a punch bowl:
1/2 cake
1/2 pudding
1/2 pineapple
1/2 cherry filling
1/2 whipped cream
1/2 pecans
1/2 coconut
~Repeat layering~
Chill for a few hours or overnight. Serves 18-20 (or just you and your best girlfriend...ha!)
You kinda can't mess up a trifle. Just pile it all up and DIG IN!
(I've also made this with brownies, chocolate mousse, whipped cream, pecans, and Heath bars. Sooooo decadent!)
But really, posting this recipe didn't make the kids or myself feel much better, so please pray for us.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Sun'll Come Out!


I love Hard Knock Life from the musical Annie. The witty lyrics, the cute, mistreated orphans...it just makes for a great number.

But I can't help but think about the other famous piece from Annie, Tomorrow! That's a good one too, and oh-so-inspiring.

The sun'll come out Tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There'll be sun!

Just thinkin' about
Tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
'Til there's none!

When I'm stuck with a day
That's gray, And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And Grin, And Say, Oh!

The sun'll come out Tomorrow
So ya gotta hang on 'Til tomorrow
Come what may


Tomorrow! Tomorrow!
I love ya Tomorrow!
You're always
A day
A way!


So...am I more of a "Hard Knock Life" girl or "Tomorrow!" type?


At this point, I'm probably the HKL type.


I see the cruddy parts of life instead of focusing on the positive. Instead of knowing that tomorrow (or even today) holds promises that I can't even fathom if I just "hang on til tomorrow."


In Bible study on Monday we talked about the opposite of complaints. It's thanksgiving! It's being grateful! It's gratitude!


So today, instead of complaining about Beck's ear infection and Evie's runny nose and rattling cough, my sore throat and Ira's requirement to be at work extra in the month of January, I will offer up thanks.


Thanks for my breakfast-in-bed this morning. (eggs and bacon really do taste better in bed!)
Thanks for the sunshine that warms when the wind bites.
Thanks for a good book to read.
Thanks for fellowship with uplifting new friends.
Thanks for a party to plan. (more on that later)
Thanks for the promise of tomorrow.


I am reading Simple Abundance: A daybook of comfort and joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach and she says the only way to begin to live a life of abundance is to keep a Gratitude Journal. Write 5 things a day that you are grateful for. Always. No matter how delightful or detestable your day has been.


I want to be a "Tomorrow" type.

"When I'm stuck with a day that's grey and lonely...I just stick out my chin and grin and say! OOOOOHHHH!..."

The Hard-Knock Life

It's the hard-knock life for us!
It's the hard-knock life for us
'Steada treated, We get tricked!
'Steada kisses, We get kicked!
It's the hard-knock life!
Got no folks to speak of, so,
It's the hard-knock row we hoe!
Cotton blankets, 'Steada of wool!
Empty Bellies 'Steada of full!
It's the hard-knock life!
Don't if feel like the wind is always howl'n?
Don't it seem like there's never any light!
Once a day, don't you wanna throw the towel in?
It's easier than puttin' up a fight.
No one's there when your dreams at night get creepy!
No one cares if you grow...of if you shrink!
No one dries when your eyes get wet an' weepy!
From all the cryin' you would think this place's a sink!
Ohhhh!!!!!!!
Empty belly life!
Rotten smelly life!
Full of sorrow life!
No tomorrow life!
Santa Claus we never see
Santa Claus, what's that? Who's he?
When you're in an orphanage!
You'll stay up till this dump shines like the top of the Chrysler Building!
Yank the whiskers from her chin
Jab her with a safety Pin
Make her drink a mickey finn
I love you, Miss Hannigan
Get to work!
Strip them beds!
I said get to work!
It's the hard-knock life for us
It's the hard-knock life for us
No one cares for you a smidge
When your in an orphanage
It's the hard-knock life
It's the hard-knock life
It's the hard-knock life!
Best song in Annie!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Twins!

My Kindermusik demo class went beautifully today. I think I had as much fun as all the little ones I was teaching! Now I just wait (and pray, and cross my fingers and toes) for the enrollments to pile up.

The little smiles. The chubby, clapping hands. The sparkling eyes. The inquisitive brows. The pumping legs. Ugh...there's just something about babies and music that gets me!



And...the best part? There were four, yes FOUR! sets of twins in my first class. Unbelievable - and way too cute for me to keep focused as "teacher."

Friday, January 11, 2008

Embark

A sweet little guy enjoying his kindermusik class.

Tomorrow I embark on my Kindermusik journey.

It's something I've been looking forward to for close to 3 years.
Do Re Me Fa So La Ti Dooooooo!
Just warming up.

I Love My Sister


There is no love quite like a sister's.
We share so many dreams and yet we are as different as can be. We dream of family life, Godly character, traveling. We laugh at the same jokes. We both suffer from the phobia of hotel comforters. We are embarrassed at our "too boisterous" laughs and "too large" noses.

Sister & Mrs. B. 20 years ago.







Sister & Mrs. B. today.

Yet, we are so different. Her sense of adventure and unwillingness to stop or back down defines her character. I am content to "be." We have admitted to having nothing in common with one anothers friends. We dress differently and read different books.

But the differences endear us to each other. I laugh more when I'm with her than with anyone else. I seek her creative advice. I admire her work (and play) ethics. I learn from her Godly insights.

She is going back north to school this weekend and I won't see her for another few months.

I wish you a safe trip and delightfully scruffy eye-candy, sis! Love you!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Ready, Set, Redecorate!

We are making the basement - currently a scary combination of guest quarters and storage space (poor guests!!) - a play/music room for the kids. How exciting is this?!

Hopefully this weekend will be when most of the work gets done. But, I'm not getting my hopes up too high. If you know my husband, you know why...

Here are some of my inspiration pictures:

From Land of Nod website.
Now, I don't have all of the designer furniture and the perfect rug combos. But...this is what I'm going for in the general feel of the room. And how cute is the idea of hanging the kid's art with string and clothes-pins?

I realize this picture is a bit...nutty. I will not be creating a forest in my basement. (Much to the disapointment of my husband and son, I'm sure.) But I like the combo of green (although this green is a little too vivid for my taste) and deep blue. My basement has a chair rail dividing the wall and I'd love to use that chalkboard paint for the lower half on one wall.

My hands are itching to get ahold of the insane amount of toys with "small pieces," pack them all snug in their Rubbermaid bins, snap on the lids and stack them (oh-so-satisfactorily) on the shelves in neat little rows.

I will not post "before" pictures. It's too ugly. Just let your imagination run wild. (and then multiply that by 10.) But you can bet your boots I'll be posting the glorious results. It maybe be next year before we're all finished. Again, if you knew my husband...

Monday, January 7, 2008

Anthropologie



Is there a store that just makes you quiver with delight when you step in? You just want absolutely everything you lay your eyes on?

Anthropologie is that store for me.

The clothes are classic but eccentric. Timelessly trendy. (I love a good oxymoron.)

Constant Dripping?

"A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife [or woman] are alike." Proverbs 27:15




If there's one thing that can make me lose it, it's an incessantly dripping faucet. Plink, plink, plink...and just when you think you've fixed it and turn to walk away...PLINK!


This was the topic at my women's Bible study this morning. I don't really consider myself a "nag" but I decided to ask Mr. B. what he thought (he's the expert, right?).

Me: "Complete and utter honesty is needed here. This is not a trick question. Answer me straight."

Him: "Ok..." A little scared.

Me: "Am I a nag?"

Him: Looking at me warily. "Umm..." Trying to decide if I'm serious about the 'honesty' part of my request. I guess he decided I was serious because his answer was this, "You have those tendencies."

Me: Nodding...taking it like a man. Er...woman.


I think most women have this tendency though. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself. I mean, why else would there be verses about it in the Bible?

But, since my word for '08 is B E A U T Y, I was impacted by this study. Nagging? Doesn't 'add to the beauty' much, huh?

One of the ladies (most are mothers and wives) said something that really hit home with me. She said that God has put us (as mothers/wives) in a place of ultimate influence in our families. You know that saying, "If mama ain't happy ain't nobody happy!" It's soooo true! My attitude, more than anyone else in our house, dictates how everyone else feels. Not sure why, but it's a fact.
Another of the verses we looked at was Proverbs 21:19. "It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman."
Wow. A waste-land is preferable to a fretful woman? That's tough.

I do not want to drive my husband and children to a desert land with my niggling requests and frets. I want to be a joy, a refuge, and woman that Adds to the Beauty of our home.

Here are a couple of quotes that spoke to me from our study book, Cultivating Contentment by Women of Faith:

"Whiners neither enjoy nor give joy. But grace-filled people are reputable, sought after, and deeply loved."

"A calmer faith - that's the quiet place within us where we don't get whiplash every time life tosses us a curve. When we don't revolt when His plan and ours conflict. Where we relax (verses stew, sweat, and swear) in the midst of an answerless season. Where we accept (and expect) deserts in our spiritual journey as surely as we do joy." -Pasty Clairmont

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Tickle the Ivories

Tonight I remembered what it was like to play and sing just for the joy of it. Mr. B. made requests and I obliged him. I was a bit rusty but it came back to me slowly. I want to play again tomorrow...

Me - playing at Grandma's.