Thursday, April 29, 2010

I was experimenting in the kitchen today and stumbled upon an easy easy recipe for chocolate mousse pie.

One refrigerated pie crust from the refrigerator section of the supermarket
(bake & cool pie crust prior to starting)
One cup heavy whipping cream
One cup skim milk
One package instant chocolate pudding
2 Milk chocolate bars

In automatic mixer, start whipping 1 cup heavy cream on medium setting. After cream starts to thicken (but not peak) add one cup milk and package of instant pudding and continue mixing until medium peaks form. Transfer filling to pre-baked pie shell & refrigerate to set.
Garnish top with chocolate shavings prior to serving.
I haven't had a reason to make this yet, but I made the mousse filling today and it was awesome! Tastes like the easiest French silk pie ever!
I am considering adding a ganache glaze to the inside of the pie crust and letting it set before filling it with mousse...

This is what I'm doing instead of studying for my final. Making desserts for no reason.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cultivating Contentment

This picture is from about a year ago.

I have been thinking about Philippians 4 today, and the contentment that comes from the Father and provides peace.

Peace in knowing that whatever I do, or say, or don't do, or don't say--He is in control. The kind of contentment that sustains me through loss of those I so dearly love. He provides contentment through life's frustrations, disappointments, and setbacks--as well as through life's successes and joys.

I am blessed today to know that 'I can do everything through him who gives me strength'

Even when it doesn't always feel that way.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

For weeks I've been thinking Holden's diaper bag smelled like banana...but thought it was a lingering odor from one morning when I packed banana for breakfast.

I was rummaging in the bottom of the diaper bag today and felt something...slimy. So I pulled everything out and searched every pocket. And in one of the inside pockets that we never use I found...

A banana. Unlike any banana you've ever seen. Only the stem was recognizable and I couldn't even pull it out of the bag because all there was was mold/mush.

So the camo diaper bag is in the trash. I feel guilty since my dad gave it to me, and considered trying to salvage it, but can't stomach the idea of the level of mold that may be in that dark little pocket.

So I'm in the market for a new bag...but I'm considering holding out until my kid is potty trained. Can't be that long, can it?


I was discussing retirement with my DH the other day and told him,

"If we live just like this with a few new (used) cars and some newer clothes we will have X amount of money in our retirement when we are 40."

This time, he nodded in agreement. Last time I said this to him, he disagreed. He thought maybe a bigger house, some late model cars, some nice vacations, a new set of irons...

You get my point.

I pointed out to him that we were both raised by single parents and most likely have more now (at age 28) than they did. I reminded him how we both grew up--not getting most things we wanted, but things we needed. I reminded him of how happy we both were growing up in our small town. Without designer clothes, without I-phones (because they didn't exist), with a few hours of Super Mario Bros a week and no cable.

I reminded him that we have 1000 square feet on the main floor and barely use the basement. So why would we need more space? Except a home office or a child's bedroom just doesn't make sense to me.

I was thinking today as I was getting ready that rather than expand, we need to simplify. We need to consume less. It has nothing to do with a green movement for me (as anyone can tell you I'm not up on trends), but I do think we would all do well to consume less. Less food, less space, less emotional energy (facebook status abusers...I'm talking to you).

So you're thinking...she is making fun of facebook status oversharing and then coming here and writing all this in a blog. My excuse is that you have to actually seek out my blog in order to read it, my thoughts do not generally assault your facebook news feed.

Unless something funny happened. Which I think requires a status update.

So DH and I discussed retirement for awhile and slowly came to the realization that by the time we retire, we will have been generally frugal our whole lives.

And old habits die will we even spend the money we save?

I still think at retirement I'll sell my house, buy a ridiculously expensive motor home and drive to all the National Parks in the United States.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I've just been posting pictures lately because I've been too lazy/busy to do much else. This will continue until after finals week (which is next bear with me). It is a gorgeous day here today and to celebrate, I whipped up some cupcakes. Last week I bought Holden's birthday cake so I thought today I would put my new cake stand to good use and also feel like a good mother...baking cupcakes.

I'm considering making some New York Strip and twice baked potatoes for dinner. Yum.

I feel like I missed all of last spring and last summer so this weather and sun feels unbelievably good this year.

I'm looking forward to the next few months.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Finally done decorating the living room! Except the accessories which will have to wait until Holden is old enough that he won't break or hide them, and the new curtains I want to buy. But you get the general idea. It only took me 4 years.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What would a tailgate second birthday party be without:
Nothing to flip the hamburgers with,

nothing to cut the cake (purchased from HyVee) with,

imaginary blowing-out of candles and husband mucking around the sewer for a lost Bocce ball?

We had a blast!

Yet more evidence that not everyone has good taste and a sense of humor...

I'll leave you with the same stupid joke I ask my husband every time he comes home from the Red/White spring game:

Who won?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The neurologist told me what is wrong with me today:

Hemianoptic migraines.

Not pleasant, but treatable. Strangely it's a migraine that doesn't necessarily have a headache associated with it (but it can), but it can cause strokes if left untreated.

I'm just glad to have some sort of diagnosis.

I was starting to wonder if I was losing it.

I do have to stop eating most of my favorite foods--but without cheddar cheese, chocolate, marinated meats, sour cream, yogurt, nuts, peanut butter, hot fresh breads, coffeecakes and doughnuts, foods with MSG, onions, citrus fruits, bananas, pizza, avocado, pepperoni, and alcohol

I will probably lose weight. The only things left in my diet after I take all those "trigger" foods out are Diet Dr. Pepper & water. Mercifully, migraines are not caused by caffeine and caffeine can actually be used to treat them.

Happy tax day everyone. Today I'm glad I'm not a procrastinator.

You requested pictures so here you should know I'm breaking my no bad pictures rule by posting this! See the orange?!

Looks like rain is rolling in. Probably should have mowed the yard yesterday.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Looking Back

This picture is from about a year ago.
"The highest function of the teacher consists not so much in imparting knowledge as in stimulating the pupil in its love and pursuit."
I don't know if you know this about me yet, but I used to work at a state park. For around 7 years (seasonally) I did all sorts of work outside. When the spring comes I miss it.
The one thing that really makes me wish I lived in a different state (aside from the lack of an ocean view) is that there is really only one National Park that is staffed around here.

Because then I could do that for a living.
Some days when my DH and I take a Sunday drive
(I know, we're elderly...with the Sunday drive in our Cadillac), I still drive to the lake.

Something about the water calms me. Which also explains my love of the West coast.
My husband often tells me I should just work there again, just work part-time/seasonal and have that be my job. Even though it pays very little, and is only for 7 months a year.

But I have this nagging urge to do more, be more. I have to finish this degree, get the bachelor's degree, get the master's degree. People keep asking me when I'm going to be done--and I don't know how to answer.

I am starting to understand why my father was still in school at age 53.
He learned things and worked simply for the pleasure of doing so...not necessarily a means to an end (that end being power, prestige, or pay).

I appreciate what he taught me not about money but motivation--and enjoyment of work.

The longer he is gone, the more I realize that all his years of school weren't wasted because he died at age 53. All those years brought him the sheer enjoyment of learning and the challenge of solving difficult problems, which is what he wanted.
Over the course of 5 years he went from attorney-at-law to a 4 year stint as a history teacher (he loved history more than anyone I've ever met and had to have the teaching experience) and then to high school administrator--which he told me before he died was one of the jobs he had enjoyed most.

Above all he wanted to teach me to think for myself, to solve problems for myself, and to never, ever quit learning.

I don't think you meet many people like that in a lifetime, and I am so thankful he was my dad.

That ex history teacher died on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day.
Maybe as his final lesson to me.

Monday, April 12, 2010

You know what look I was not going for? Playboy bunny/real housewives of Orange county.

I think I've got a good mix of those two going on with my hair.

I guess it's festive for spring/summer.



Which (coincidentally) is the color of my hair.
I think this lesson should have been learned a long, long time ago.

I was bored last night so I decided to dye my hair. I haven't dyed my hair at home for years and years--I always go to the salon for highlights.

Do I even need to finish this post?
Because it's so predictable it really doesn't even need to be told.

It ended up a sort of light yellow orangey color. And guess what? Most salons aren't open on Mondays. And the ones that are, are booked.

So I am processing my hair again with the same color hoping that it was just my long hair and I didn't have enough colorant. Praying. Because I have to act like a professional tomorrow and it's not going to look so professional if my hair is orange.

Also, this is the nicest day of the year so far and I am thrilled about spending some time outside! Hope you all enjoy the day.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I know I do this a lot, but I have to tell someone other than my husband who just says

"Sell it!"

But today I wandered into an antique shop/used goods shop and found this cake stand. I have been looking for an antique cake stand exactly like this & my photography doesn't really do it justice. My wedding cake was actually even inspired by the look of this style cake stand (sorry, it's a picture of a picture).

I don't have a collection (housewares or anything) like many women do, but I do have a natural affinity for cake stands for some reason.

I paid $8 for it at the shop and knew I was getting a steal. I came home and searched it on ebay and most of these are listed around $60-$90.

I'm thrilled with my find, but my DH thinks my knack for finding cool things like this should mean that I sell them and make a profit.

There is no way I am selling this thing, I have been looking for one exactly like this for years.

I may even have to bake a cake today in celebration.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"To devote ourselves properly to one another, we must brave love's
terrifying undertow, which is grief."

-Catherine Newman

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

How could I not be happy with perfect weather and a child this sweet?
He was soooo sick this weekend, which may explain the glassy look in his eyes...but he still had plenty of fun on his hunt for goodies this afternoon.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

He is not here; He has risen!

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20

What a blessed few days for our family and our church, when we stop to meditate on the profound grace we are offered through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The month of April carries with it a lot of joy and sadness for me, especially this year. This is the month my son turns two, growing so quickly he delights me with his thoughts and all the things he is learning, his smile and his laugh; the way he looks like me and acts like his father.

April is the month I lost my daughter, Ally, and the month I knew I would lose my father sooner rather than later. The grief remains a deep channel in my heart, sometimes flowing peacefully, bubbling softly in the background—and other times threatening to spill over the banks and sweep me away.

I know that despite my pain and my grief this year—despite anything that has happened, or could happen in the future—God has been so faithful to me. Years after the fact, I can see how God was working in my life at certain times, even when I was walking away from Him.

We all have days/months/years/decades when our faith is weak or wavering. We all have days we want to throw up our hands and sit on the couch and check out.

And sometimes we do.

I think the real danger for me at this point in my life is that I spend a lot of time planning the future and not enough time in the present.

This Easter my goal is to spend more time enjoying the gifts God has blessed me with.

Thankfully, I have a sweet, insistent two year old boy here to remind me that the present is:


Friday, April 2, 2010


My turtle brownies didn't turn out great. They aren't terrible, but not great either.

It was only my first try, and I've never really worked with ganache before except once when I tried to make truffles and that was also a colossal failure. It sounds so easy on the recipes...

I had almost forgotten what 70 degrees felt like.

I kind of wonder sometimes why I live in this climate and not in Southern California, but DH reminds me often that family lives close and family trumps weather. I guess he should know, he's been all over the world with the military and has a very soft spot for home (a.k.a. Nebraska, or as he likes to refer to it The Good Life).
I'm in the process of baking some modified turtle brownies. I'm planning on layering brownies, caramel, and milk chocolate ganache to take to dinner with the in-laws on Saturday night. And Tony is taking brisket.

He cooks, I bake. Yet another reason why we are a perfect match.

This is Holden and my dog Titus watching Clifford the Big Red Dog.