Monday, December 31, 2012

What are we, Pilgrims?

My girls think that anytime I do things from scratch or make something out of the ordinary that I'm crazy.  Katie's question is always "what are we, Pilgrims?"...
Well, I may have answered that question in her mind this past week when I made butter.

It is really my friend Jennifer's fault. 
She sent me a link to a blog that she knew I would enjoy. 
The second post I ran across was about making butter and I was sold.
I'm not sure whats wrong with me that I see something like that and feel like I must try it.
I have discovered it is not cheaper at all to make your own butter so I don't even have that to lean on.

This blog linked to America's Test Kitchen for full instructions on making butter.  I also looked around a little in the bloggy web and found some other ideas.  I used this recipe for the first batch.  I wanted to try the cultured butter too so I did make a batch from the Test Kitchen recipe.  Both were really good in my opinion.

I have a lot of buttermilk if you need any
come on over for toast....
I made stuffed mushrooms tonight for snacking.  A family friend made them and I had them in Dallas when we were there.  They are very easy and very good...

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

1/2 lb hot breakfast sausage scrambled
1 8oz pk softened cream cheese
2 green onion chopped
2 pkg button mushrooms cleaned and stems removed

Wipe mushrooms with soft cloth and remove stems.  Mix cooked sausage, cream cheese and chopped green onions.  Place a spoonful in each mushroom cap and bake at 350 till bubbly.


a few days after

Christmas day came and went and the last few days have flown by. 

We've spent a lot of good girl time. 

We have snacked a lot! 

Good friends came to visit.  We have done more girl time, snacking and games with them....oh, except there was teenage boy in the mix.  But that's ok, we love him.
We drove around Tech because he is thinking about going to school there.  I needed to take some pictures if we were walking around tech.
We introduced everyone to the Pie Bar.  It was a big hit!!!

Today everyone is leaving me. 

I will be spending New Years eve with a bunch of 13 year olds.  Wish me luck.
I hope you New Year's is quite and wonderful!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


I love Christmas!  I love the whole time of year, cold weather, the decorations, the reminder to be thankful for God's gift and time with family and friends.

We made a very very quick trip to the Dallas area.  We did Christmas with my family.  Even if it was very brief it was great to be with them.

We moved on the Mike's family for a little cousin time. 

When I joined this sweet family there were only two kids.  We've produced a huge bunch of the next generation that seem to really enjoy spending time together even when they only see each other once or twice a year.
I walked into a bedroom where all the kids were lying around, talking, watching a movie and of course playing on their phones... you know, good quality cousin time...

On the way home we stopped by our favorite cheap Mexican place for lunch and my family was agreeable enough to join me in checking out Trader Joe's...
I quickly googled peoples favorites from there and we brought home most of those items.  We also brought home a lot of heavy cream with no additives so there is butter making in my future.
We got home and spend a quiet Christmas eve day, had a great church and good family time.

We woke up Christmas morning to a white Christmas
Not much could have made me happier!  The girls wanted to wait on Jennifer to get there before opening their presents.  It's like our little family isn't complete without her.  I really think the girls think she is their sister instead of their cousin.  Her flight made it in and there was much gift opening to follow.

New jackets seemed to be a theme. 

Kellie did ask for one toy and I was so glad.  I just hate we are about past that phase...
The hit gift  was "Catch Phrase" . 

It got pretty wild!
I hope your Christmas was wonderful and there is some rest in store this week for you.  I know I'm planning some.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Away from West Texas, to Grandma's house we go

Yesterday was a crazy crazy weather day in Lubbock.  There was a huge dust storm. 
Orange sky.  60 mph winds. 

I think all of New Mexico blew into town.
This was the view from above that was on line...

Today was back to normal, minus the dirt on my counters and the pile of sand right inside my door.

Tomorrow as soon as school is out we are leaving for a very quick weekend trip to Dallas to see all the family.
Friday night we are doing Christmas with my family and Sat. with Mike's.  I hate when our trip has to be that fast.  There isn't enough time to see friends and really enjoy anyone.

This whole month feels like a blur it has gone so fast.  I'm going to try to slow it down as soon as we get home.  Christmas eve it will just be the four of us.
I'm looking forward to a quiet evening of church and family.
Christmas day Jennifer is flying out.  I have big plans for us to lie around in our PJ's and watch movies for a few days.

I hope you Christmas is restful, wonderful and filled with love.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What about Santa's cookies? I suppose parents eat those too?

It's been a crazy crazy week.
We had a stomach virus in the house this week, a little accident where everything and everyone was fine but left me a little traumatized, lots of school work and various other routine things...
This weekend has made it all a little better.
Friday I picked up the littlest one from school and we enjoyed some needed time together.

There were manicures, dinner with a friend and her girls, dessert at a very cool new place called the "Pie Bar", and then some late evening shopping.  We had a great time.
Saturday I got up early and headed out for a day of shopping.  It was cool and crisp and there were geese everywhere.  There aren't too many things I love about this town, but I love the geese that winter here.

Today offered great church time and then I had a cookie party this afternoon.  That basically was a evening of good friends and food...

I love this time of year

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Food fun with a friend

One of my good friends came over so we could make some good gifts.
It was wonderful. 
A Sunday afternoon in PJ pants cooking with a friend, can you think of a better day?
We had a little supervision

We made a wonderful Caramel Sauce (plus we added 3 tbsp of Bourbon to the recipe). 

 I may pour a jar over dinner tonight.  I also made some Merlot Jelly. 

I also made a couple of jars of "Cookies for Santa" gifts

I'm having a Cookie party next weekend and I made some cookies that may not make it to the party.  I combined two recipes I found and they are soooo good.

Cranberry White Chocolate Oat Cookies

1/2 cup Butter, softened
3/4 cup White Sugar
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1 tsp Vanilla
1 1/2 cup Flour
1 tps Baking powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Oats
1 cup dried Cranberries
1 cup White Chocolate chips
1/2 cup sliced Almonds
zest of one Orange

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Cream butter and sugar.  Add both sugars and mix till fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.  Mix in flour, baking powder, salt and oats and mix till just combined.  Mix in cranberries, chocolate chips, almonds and orange zest.  Drop spoon sized scoops of dough onto the lined cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

December daily beginnings

Jennifer always does a great Dec. daily project.  I did one a few years ago and loved how it turned out but I've not kept it up each year.  Two years ago I did a digital one.  I was glad I did it but it wasn't near as cute as the real scrap booked kind. 
And because I was jealous of how Jennifer's is looking this year I started another digital one.


and, as usual it's not near as cute as a real scrapbook kind.  Maybe next year.
(Jennifer start putting together some stuff for me)

Speaking of Jennifer's and pretty things.  My sweet friend Jennifer sent me a link to a food blog she thought I would enjoy.

And enjoy I did.  I spent a good hour looking at all the beautiful food goodness.
But, I was hooked at the very first post I saw.  She made her own butter.  She said it's good butter.  Like butter in Europe. 
And you know what happened?  That's right, I now feel like I must make butter.
However, in some cites that would be possible but in West Texas there is no cream without additives and apparently the additives are a no no for making it into butter.
I haven't given up.  Surely there is a diary farm somewhere here?
I need that butter.

Enjoy the first week of Dec.(even if it is 90 degrees)!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

It's December

I can't believe it is December already.  I love this time of year and it is going way too fast!
And since we reached a record high on Dec. 1st it doesn't feel like a Dec.  Nothing says Christmas like shorts and and sweating.

I have the house decorated and the girls and I have watched Christmas movies all afternoon. 
I can't share that with you yet though because blogger says I have reached my picture limit.  I'm researching what to do about this.  It looks like they need some money to let me put up more pictures...

So, out for now.  Hopefully I'll be back soon with the millions of  pictures I know you've been missing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I love this time of year. 
I love that it's fall. 
I love that it's a time for family and good friends.
I love that we think a little more about everything we have to be thankful for.  I am so blessed and very aware of it this time of year.

Today I got to spend the day cooking.
You know that's my favorite kind of day.... home and cooking.
I was grateful for good girlfriends that dropped in today to visit for a few minutes.
I was grateful for a little package of Trader Joe's goodies that Jennifer sent me.
Among all the usual dishes I cooked for tomorrow I also made a new recipe.  I made it for a treat to take to my neighbor and I I saved a little for us. 
Spiced Apple Cider Bourbon Caramel

2 cups Apple Cider
1 whole Vanilla Bean, Seeds scrapped out and pod reserved
1 whole Cinnamon Stick
1/2 tsp grated Nutmeg
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 cup Brown sugar
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
6 Tbsp butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces
1/2 cup Heavy cream
3 Tbsp Bourbon

In a large sauce pan combine the apple cider, vanilla bean seeds, pod and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer and let reduce to approx 3/4 cup.  It should be syrupy.
Add in the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt.  Clip on a candy thermometer and cook without stirring until it reaches 240 degrees.  Add in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time and stir till melted .  Remove the vanilla bean and the cinnamon stick.
Remove from heat and add in the heavy cream and bourbon.  Heat on low again and stir until it starts to slightly thicken back up, about 5 min.
Let cool in pan 10 minutes and transfer to a glass jar.  It will firm up as it cools.  Keep refrigerated.  This sauce will last several weeks in the refrigerator.
(if I don't eat it all with a spoon)

I plan on serving it over pies or ice cream.  And I am thankful that I tried this recipe.  This was easy and will make great gifts.

I hope your Thanksgiving is full of great food and people you are thankful for.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A big birthday

Mike turned 50 today.  It doesn't seem to bother him.  I, on the other hand have a really hard time knowing I'm married to a 50 year old.
He has been anxiously awaiting his AARP card to come in mail thinking he might get half off at the movies and such...I told him I didn't think that was the case but we'll let him hope...

Friday night at about 10 I hear a lot of barking and talking going on in the kitchen.  Jennifer has walked in with her dog and surprised us for Mike's birthday!!!
We were all very excited!  The dog cousins were really excited!

Saturday was of course much more fun with Jennifer joining us for the couple of things we had to do.
We started the day out with Kellie doing a little volunteer work and me cheering on kids from my school.  We put Jennifer to work as the photographer!
we did a little birthday shopping for Mike, a little hanging out and then went to visit Katie at work for a burger for dinner.
She made a lovely face when she saw us!  She also told me we aren't allowed to come back when she's working since we were watching the A&M and Alabama game while eating and her dad might have yelled a couple of times...

We woke up the birthday boy this morning and reminded him he is really really old.

Jennifer got to go see Katie sing in the praise band
We all took a little Sunday drive
and stopped for a little ice cream.  Puppy cones were the hit of the day!

Kellie made Mike a birthday cake.  She had just pulled her last baby tooth...a sad day for the tooth fairy.

And the favorite part of his day, having his favorite dog sit in the chair and watch football with him all day!
I'm proud of Mike, he has been working hard at dieting and loosing weight and had a goal he wanted to meet by his birthday and met it!  He has lost 75 since January.
I'm very proud of him.
Happy 50th Mike, we love you!