Friday, January 18, 2013

As Fresh As Fallen Snow

For those who may not know it...I am a transplant to the south. It's true. I am a northern girl by birth. I lived the first eight years of my childhood in Kenosha, Wisconsin. My memories of winter are filled with snow! We lived right off of Lake not just snow; lake effect snow, and lots of it. To this day winter always makes me wish for just a little bit of snow, but this week. It rained...and it rained, and rained...and it rained. For five days straight I wore rain boots and sloshed through cold wet puddles every time I went anywhere. It was miserable. All of my winter decor seemed to mock me...


But then, on Thursday, after a morning filled with more rain...something beautiful happened.

 It started snowing! I know my northern friends are laughing at me as they read this...but after years of snow days and sledding and hot just miss it every once in a while! It has been a few years since we had more than a dusting here where we live. I was thrilled when the flakes started pouring!


And they just kept falling! I bundled Savannah up when it was still coming down and took her out for her first time to play in the snow at her own house. She absolutely loved it. (Landon was not as excited.)

We caught snowflakes on our tongues, took a long walk making tracks in the fresh snow, and even got to do a little sledding later that night! I loved it. One of the things I love about snow is that it always reminds me of fresh starts. Some of you may be reading this and thinking that you haven't heard from me much at all this year and here I am blogging about snow... Sometimes life gets busy and we get buried beneath a list of things to do and that is kind of what happened to my blog this year. It got pushed to the bottom of a long list.  However, one of my favorite things about a new year is that it always feels like a clean slate, a fresh start... you know, like snow.

I know I won't be able to do it as frequently as I want, but I do hope to update my blog more in 2013. This snow fall was just a good motivator and reminder for me.

So here's to new projects, new memories, new dreams, and a new fresh as the fallen snow.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cookie Dough Cupcake Goodness


It has been far too long since I shared a cupcake recipe. After posting this baby on Instagram, it quickly became the most requested recipe I have ever had. It deserved its own blog post and - as you can see - I anticipated that. After all, who doesn't love cookie dough? I personally cannot make cookies without taking bites of the dough...raw eggs or not. (Yes, I know, I know...) But in this recipe the "faux dough" as we will call it, does not have any eggs in it! Hurray for edible cookie dough.

Here are the ingredients you will need:

Chocolate Cupcake Ingredients
  • 1 (18.25 oz.) box Devil’s Food (or other chocolate variety) cake mix
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 4 eggs
Peanut Butter Cookie Dough “Frosting” Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Savannah was my happy helper while we made these...which means that she was happy to eat the chocolate chips while I made cupcakes. Love this girl so much!

Make your cake mix as usual, fill your liners 2/3 of the way full for normal cupcake size...I always fill mine a little bit more to make them fluffier on the top, but you won't get 2 dozen doing it this way. Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes. While they are baking you can work on the best part...the frosting. Beat together butter and sugars until fluffy, then mix in peanut butter, vanilla, and milk. Stir in flour and salt by hand or on low speed. Extra milk can be added if the mixture seems to thick, but I did not have to do this. Stir in chocolate chips last and wha-la. Cookie dough that you can eat by the spoonful. Just don't forget to save some for your cupcakes!

To "frost" the cupcakes, I used an ice cream scoop and generously topped each cupcake. This recipe screams for a tall glass of milk, so make sure you grab some before you take a bite. Yum.

(*Credit for recipe goes to Great recipe source!)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Bags packed, passport in hand, butterflies in my stomach...I pushed back nerves and ignored fears. I had a mission, a job to do; Haiti needed me. I had so much to teach the Haitian people! Or so I thought... But as the days of my amazing journey unfolded last week I began to see glimpses of something that I had not anticipated. Glimpses of a people with deep faith in God. I first saw it on Day one in the church in the village of Coq Chante.

I saw it in the way that they walked for miles to worship with fellow believers on that Sunday. Despite heat and humidity and despite rocky roads that are steep and difficult, they wear their shirts, ties, pants, and dress shoes. They come carrying their tattered Bibles and wearing the best that they have. I saw it in the way that they knelt on concrete floors to pray.

And in the way they stood for long periods of time to sing praise to God with hands uplifted.

Not complaining about the temperature, the length of the service, the fact that they were hungry, or how uncomfortable their "pews" were. Just praising God.

I saw it on Day two and three as we helped create a home for this elderly widow whose health is failing and has hardly any possessions to speak of; who was so happy to have a new home closer to her church and the market that she slept on the concrete floor the first night instead of returning to her old house. The next day one of our team member bought her new mattresses. Her response at the house and the new place to sleep? Hands uplifted in praise to Jesus.


I saw it on Day three as we took a chicken to another elderly widow lady in the village of Coq Chante. She has battled pain and as was the story of so many others, has very little. When we gave her the chicken she raise one hand up and thanked Jesus repeatedly.

My heart was aching. How is it that these people who have so little are so grateful...and how is it, that these people who have so little are not at all bitter toward God for their hardships? How is it that they see every gift as a direct provision from God's hand? Tears fell from my eyes as we prayed over her that day.

Day Four was a hike into the village of Tiapo. The hike was tough to say the least. However, God kept placing people in our path who had needs to be met and I kept praying that I could stay focused on that rather than my own discomfort. Then, I caught a glimpse of it again...the faith of these people once again overwhelmed me as it had every day. It was at of the last houses we stopped at before completing our hike. We met this man.

He was blind. There were four or five children there at his home that were so dirty. We did everything we could for them with what we had. Every one of the five people in my group emptied our backpacks of food and clothes. One of my team members jumped in and started cleaning the children with baby wipes while another administered light medical treatment and tried to give the youngest baby a bottle.

I can honestly say it was the most heart breaking thing I saw during my entire trip. Tearfully one of my team members told our translator to ask the man "Who takes care of you?" His response hit me like a ton of bricks. He said, "Me...and God."

On Day Five we took a day to rest at the beach in Jacmel. It was there that I started truly reflecting on all of these things and asking God why. Why do these people trust you so much? Why is their faith so big when their life is so hard? And why is mine so small...when I am so blessed? I felt God reminding me of his power. I felt him directing my attention to the tiny pebbles that covered the beach and reminding me that he knew of each and every pebble, and every grain of sand beneath it. I felt him reminding me that He told the waves when to rise and fall and how far to come on the shore.

It was as if I heard Him whispering to me that He controls everything and it is He that meets our needs. An almighty God who is that powerful takes care of us and promises to provide for each and every one of these...

Day six and seven get a little blurry for me as God allowed me to be sick and spend most of my time in bed. Do you trust me now? Do you trust that I am going to provide what you need? Do you trust that I am in control even now when its hard? I spent the little time I was awake contemplating these questions. I wish that I could say "Always, Lord." I wish that I could say when something good comes my way that I raise my hands and thank Jesus, and when something bad comes my way I trust that He is going to come through for me. I can't always say that, but because of the faith of the Haitian people I know that I will strive to do this more. You see, in them I saw deep faith... I thought that I was going to teach the people of Haiti...but in the end it was the people of Haiti who taught me...with a faith that was deeper than my own. I am forever grateful.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 
- Luke 12:6-7

Monday, May 28, 2012

Red, White, & Blue

Happy Memorial Day! This holiday is wonderful because of what it represents. I am proud to say that both of my grandfathers and my Dad served in the armed forces but fortunately all were blessed because they were not asked to make the ultimate sacrifice that some have. I wanted to give my home a patriotic feel as we celebrated today so the kids and I planned a cookout that had lots of red, white, and blue!

We invited Papa and Ju-Ju (my parents,) and I enlisted Craig to grill. I copied my tablescape ideas from another blog and I loved how it turned out. Memorial Day is the perfect time to deck your house out in patriotic decor  which can stay put through the 4th of July to help teach your kids the history behind these holidays!

As always, I made some sweets. I found some super yummy red, white, and blue kettle corn. As we walked the grocery aisles today I also spotted cherries for the first time this season! They are one of my favorites. To me they says summer and Memorial Day kind of kicks off the summer season in my mind.

Homeade, sparkling stawberry lemonade (with blueberries to make it festive!) One of my favorites!

I ordered some paper straws off of Etsy. Aren't they cute? You can find them in almost any color.

And for dinner... When it comes to a burger, I say, if you're going to do it, do it right! I can't get enough toppings. Lettuce, tomato, pepper-jack cheese, banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, pickles, bacon, and all of the standard condiments. It should make a mess. 


Although it was a very hot day (!) we spent some time out on the deck enjoying the summer temperatures in this, the end of May.


Even Sadie was looking festive today. (And check out that summer haircut!)

As the sun went down I felt myself staring out at the deck, dreaming of many more summer days filled with sunshine and cookouts, holiday festivities, and fireworks. I love summer and I'm so glad it is just around the corner!

One last shot...I took that material that you saw on my table and made a festive table runner. Very simple no-sew project! I'll share how to do this soon. Happy Memorial Day to all!