Monday, June 27, 2011

Chocolate Coffee

Here's a delicious tip. Do you know what these are?

They're cocoa nibs.  I got these from AskinosieAskinosie is a fascinating and responsible chocolate company that I like to support.  They have some really intense and exotic chocolate bars, cocoa powder, and their own chocolate hazelnut spread that I am dying to try.

I actually got a big bag of these nibs for Christmas.  You know you have issues when your Christmas list includes obscure foods rather than jewelry, perfume, or purses. 

I wasn't really sure what to do with the nibs but a few weeks ago when my parents were visiting, we added them into a gluten-free scone mix and they were wonderful.  Then my mom, ever-creative, suggested we grind them with our coffee beans to make a sort of homemade flavored coffee.  It totally worked!

For my French press I usually grind 2 scoops of beans, so I just added in 2 scoops of cocoa nibs.  That makes it pretty chocolatey but you could do whatever you want.  It doesn't taste like a chocolate bar or anything, but the true essence of chocolate is definitely present. 

Definitely check out the Askinosie website!  Order some treats for you or someone you care about.  Life is too short to use anything less than the best [and responsible] chocolate.

Friday, June 24, 2011

We knew it

When people first found out we were pregnant [we spilled the beans at 12 weeks] they would often ask, "What do you think it is?"  To which I would respond, "A baby, of course."  I didn't have an inkling as to whether this child was a boy or a girl; I just knew it didn't like anything I ate.  For so long I was just trying to make it through the day and not really enjoying pregnancy.  Once I started to feel a bit better [although I didn't stop throwing up until week 20] my husband and I really started to feel like this baby was a girl.

And guess what?


I would love to put one of her ultrasound photos on here, but I don't have a scanner and let's be honest, who really knows what they're looking at in those pictures anyway?  Every time people show those pictures off I just smile and say "Oh yeah, so cute!", when I really have no idea what I'm seeing.  Admit it, you're the same way.  :)

We got a great shot of her little profile and a definite view of her lady parts.  Justin and I were so amazed at the gift of techonology that allowed us to see her bladder, kidneys, heart chambers, lips, etc.  Moreover, we were in awe of how God has created her.  I mean HOW...?  I've always been amazed at the science of human development but when it actually happened inside me, well, I'm just speechless...stunned...moved to tears. 

And Justin is a puddle.  He is so excited.  We've always joked that he'd be a daddy to daughter[s] due to his athleticism and love of superhero movies.  The Lord knows I can't handle any more of that that just yet.  And maybe that means our next baby [through adoption] is a boy.  We already bought him a frame for his desk to hold one of her pictures.  He's in love!

I've already gotten a million questions about her name.  I posted here an initial list of names we were considering.  However, we won't announce anything official until her birth day.  Mostly because we probably won't decide until we see her little face.  It's not as if she's going to have this awesome name that we want to unveil like a piece of artwork.  It's just that in this day in age there aren't many things left up to surprise with pregnancy, and we think it will be fun for everyone to find out on her birth day.  Even if that's when we find out, too. 

Thanks for your prayers as we continue down this journey!  Only 17 more weeks--yikes!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wonderfully Made

"For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:13-16

My life changed forever on February 21 when I saw those two pink lines on that pregnancy test.  More so than that moment, our life will really change tomorrow when we finally find out the gender of this little person growing inside me.  After all of the waiting and wondering, now I'm thinking that I don't want to find out.  Suddenly he/she will take on an identity.  It's exciting but, admittedly, a little scary.  I've imagined the baby being a specific gender, but I might be wrong.  For the next 4 months will we daydream of ballerinas and tea parties or tonka trucks and mudpies? 

God already knows.  He knew before we found out we were pregnant.  He even knew before I was born.  We are excited for this gift.  This baby is not ours, but His. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Do you ever wish things could go back to the way they "used to be"? neither.

They say the best is yet to come, but sometimes it's much easier to reflect upon the past than to take those brave steps into the future.  Sometimes we make choices that aren't necessarily bad, but they aren't good either.  We don't get alternate endings in this life.  Fortunately, we weren't really in control anyway.

For today, I'd like to indulge in the past and post some photos of favorite memories from a different time and place.

This is where we lived when we first got married.  Correction: we lived on the left side [our front door is visible].  It was on the corner of "Watch Out St." and "La Hacienda Ave"...just kidding.  This is where you might get to live if you ever attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.  All 325 square feet of it.  We always said we'd look back and laugh...wonder when that will happen.

This is me, young and stupid naive.  I was 24.  I had a lot to learn [still do!]

Here's Justin with Brendle.  She's a big sister now and a first grader!

Here's me and Brendle's mom, Corrie.  This was taken in our seminary house when they were moving away.  If you look on the walls behind us, you can see the giant horizontal crack from the foundation issues.

This is from a vacation we took in 2009 [the only one we've ever been on, come to think of it].  When you live away from your family you have to spend your time off going to see them.  But we got crazy back in 2009...we went to Knoxville.  :)
Here we are saying goodbye to some friends when we were moving from Atlanta.  The girl on the left, Shannon, and I are both having babies this year!

Life will take you lots of different places.  Some good, and some not so good.  You have to make the best of it and remain thankful for the experiences that come along. 

"Give thanks always and for everything." Ephesians 5:20

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Happy Thoughts

Holy smokes, we sure are getting a frog strangler out there!  In other words, it's been storming since 7am.  It started out with lots of dark clouds, thunder, and lightning, and finally started to rain about an hour ago.  I had almost forgotten what rain was.  Hopefully my yard will turn green and the flowers will perk up after all of this.  I just thought I'd share some happy thoughts and photos today.  Not because I get down in the dumps when it rains, but because rainy days make me quite happy.

Red Velvet Cupcakes.  Need I say more?  T-minus 2 weeks til I get to eat one.  I'm doing my first wedding on June 30.  We'll be having these little beauties, mocha cupcakes, and vanilla.  All of the cupcakes will cascade down a cute tower with a small cake up on top.  I'm excited!
My pal Corrie.  I'm not sure why the picture is so small...but anyway, I really need to call her today.  She has 2 girlies and also a baby boy that she's taking care of for a little while.  She's a super foster mom who always has time for the fun stuff in life.  This picture was taken on Memorial Day weekend 2009, I think.  She and her hubby Brent drove all the way from Arkansas to Atlanta, and called us after they had already left to tell us they were coming.  See what I mean about fun stuff?  She's spontaneous, God-loving, cooky, and inspiring, and I'm glad we've been friends for all these years.

A snowy sunset...winter is awesome.  Summer, not so much.  The next time I see snow I'll have a little chunker to snuggle with!

Of course, my little husband.  He works very hard to provide for us and even though it isn't always easy, he never complains.  [It certainly isn't easy to live with me!]  I like to look at this picture and remind myself that I won't always have this huge belly [otherwise known as Baby Mac].  Someday I'll be my old self again...!

And here's a little something to make you smile.  Maybe.  I don't know.  It makes me smile.

"For what it's worth; it's never to late, or in my case, to early to be whoever you want to be.  There's no time limit, stop whenever you want.  You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing.  We can make the best or the worst of it.  I hope you make the best of it.  And I hope you see things that startle you.  I hope you feel things you never felt before.  I hope you meet people with a different point of view.  I hope you live a life you're proud of.  If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again." 
-Benjamin Button, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Isn't she cute?

We've had this little darlin' in our family for a year now.  We passed the one year mark of leaving Atlanta last week, which also means the celebration of when we got Bailey.  In the past year, we've conquered house-training, graduated from crate-sleeping to her own bed, and learned how to bark at strangers.  Quite loudly, I might add.  She's so house-broken that if she has to go outside, she has to go NOW!  She barks, uses her paws to bat at us, and will even nibble our clothes until we take her out.  She's still learning how to walk on a leash, but we hope to some day have a yard with a fence for her to run and get her energy out.  For now, she'll settle for running figure 8s around our living room.   She has learned to play catch with her small tennis balls, enjoys chewing on ropes, and especially loves her kong when we put peanut butter in it.  She's gotten a lot more cuddly in the past few weeks.  I'm not sure if it's because I'm pregnant or what, but she'll come up and lay her head in my lap.  She's not much of a lap dog and will only lick you if you have food on your hands [I really appreciate that].  She's great with kids!  Just last night I had her out at the park and kids kept running up and asking to pet her.  She just sits down and lets them pet her, and doesn't lick, bark, or bite.  We are excited to see how she reacts to her new brother or sister.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Chicken Parmesan

Do you like chicken parmesan?  I'm not sure if I do or not, but I definitely loved this made-up version.  I've never loved marinara sauce on chicken.  I haven't ordered this dish out because of the gazillion calories it is rumored to contain.  Please don't feel bad if you happen to love this.  There are plenty of things I love with gazillions of calories that don't phase me a bit.  Like this chocolate cake.    I prefer to get my calories from desserts rather than entrees.

The husband had requested this dish awhile back and I finally got around to making it.  I found a couple of recipes online but they were a little complicated for me.  If it ain't easy, I ain't doing it.  So, I decided to make up my own way to do it.  If you'll pardon my lack of precise measurements I'd love to tell you how I did it.

I had 2 boneless skinless breasts to work with.  I could have butterflied them and still had enough for the two of us, and also reduced cooking time.  But, I'm lazy so I left them thick and had to wait a long time to eat.  I melted a couple tablespoons of butter and added in 2 cloves of mixed garlic.  That's a clove per chicken breast, if you're measuring.  [We like our garlic in this house.]  After you've seasoned each side of the breasts with salt and pepper, roll them in the melted butter/garlic mixture.  Then coat them in bread crumbs.  I used about a cup of panko that was seasoned with salt, pepper, oregano, and basil.  Then I browned each side of the chicken in a hot skillet with olive oil.  The aforementioned steps took about 5 minutes.  Next I just popped the chicken into a casserole dish, covered in marinara, and topped with lots of parmesan cheese and mozzarella.  I always have homemade marinara on hand but you can use your favorite jarred sauce.  I baked it at 350 for about 45 minutes [again, because the breasts were quite thick]. 

I just paired these with big green salads rather than pasta.  This was a cinch to put together and my husband was very impressed.  It's definitely a "wow" meal you can serve to your guests.  Ciao!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What's in a name?

Ladies and gentlemen, I have made it through the first half of this pregnancy.  I can't see my shoes, my back hurts, and my stomach looks like a road map...but it will be worth it when we get to see our little one's chubby cheeks and count his/her toes in about 20 more weeks!  Thanks to all of our friends who have had babies this month [4 off the top of my!] because you've given us lots to look forward to.

I went to the doctor yesterday and all is well for the most part.  I'm having some tests run this week to check for some complications but we won't worry about them right now.  I wasn't as worried about the doctors concerns as I was the fact that he is going to make me wait 3 more weeks to find out the gender.  "Yes, I know it will still be a girl or a boy in 3 weeks, but you're a man and you don't know what it's like to want to know."  <---What I wanted to say.  :) 

In spite of that fact, I thought it might be fun to share some of the names we've considered.  Justin and I both have felt all along that this baby is a little girl, so we haven't thought of many boy names.  I can't explain why we think it's a girl, we just do.  I imagine that we won't pick a name for him/her until the last minute, but here are a few that we've mentioned.  Also, most of the ones I've chosen Justin doesn't necessarily love, and vice versa.  There are a couple that are definite contenders but I won't share which ones.  We want the name to be a surprise for all of our friends and family, and you'll just have to wait til delivery day to find out.  We don't want you to feel left out, so please feel free to put in your 2 cents!



I'm a rather non-committal person so this naming a child thing is kind of stressful.  It's hard when you find a name that you like but someone else you know just named their child the same thing, or you find out that it's a very popular name altogether.  Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in what a name means, but in our culture [as opposed to say, Asian cultures] the meaning behind a name really doesn't matter.  And then you have to worry about the name rhyming with something awful.  "Mulva, Gipple, Delores!"  Obscure Seinfeld reference, in case you wondered.  See what I mean about stressful?

I think once we know if this baby has a peepee or a wootie we'll be able to choose a name with more clarity.  :)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Coffee Punch

Ya'll, I just have to share this recipe with you.  I hosted a wedding shower today and we decided to do something different than the typical sherbet/lemon-lime punch.  You'll have to forgive me for not having pictures [I was a little busy!] but trust me, it's good.  I found the recipe in an old cookbook from my grandmother and kind of used it as a guideline.

Brew one pot of coffee.  Add in 1/2 cup sugar, stir, and chill.  I did this last night so it would be nice and cold for the shower this afternoon.  Just before serving, stir in 2 Tbsp of vanilla and 1 pint of half and half.  Put it in your punch bowl and top with a half gallon of scooped vanilla ice cream.  You can top with caramel, chocolate, or whatever you like!  You could even sub the vanilla extract for hazelnut or even almond.  Or add a liqueur, if you're in to that sort of thing.  I think you can get about 12 -15 servings of this, so double it if you need more.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

At my house you can always find...

1.  Softened butter on the counter
2.  Clean laundry to put away
3.  Too many dishes that aren't dishwasher safe
4.  Peanut butter
5.  Water in the tea kettle
6.  Cozy blankets to snuggle with
7.  Dust on the blinds
8.  Dog hair on the baseboards
9.  Books that have been half started
10. Something sweet to eat

It doesn't matter if your house is big or small, if you own it or rent it, or even if your house is full of hand-me-down furniture like mine.  We don't have a headboard and we use the two dressers that my husband had as a child.  We'll be clearing out a dresser drawer for the baby's bed...just kidding.
What makes a home is the people in it.  All it takes is love to make a house warm and inviting to all.  Well, love and a little dusting once in a while.
What can people always find at your house?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Zuke Chips

This is my 100th post.  Maybe we should have cake?  How about zucchini instead?  It's getting to be the time of year where produce is cheap and available on every corner between here and the grocery store.  I'd much rather buy it from my Amish neighbors than Kroger!  We made these over the weekend on a whim and they were amazing.
Zucchini [1 medium was plenty for 2 people]

Slice the zucchini in 1/4 inch slices.  Lay them out on a paper towell and sprinkle with salt.  This will draw out the moisture.  You need to do this or else you'll end up with a big greasy mess.  When it comes to frying, moisture is bad.  Not that you want to eat fried food all the time, but if you do it correctly it won't be greasy.  It takes about 10 minutes or so to dry up the zucchini.  Place a few slices at a time in a shallow bowl of buttermilk; then, toss it in some cornmeal.  I fried it in about 1/2 inch of canola oil for a minute or two, until it turned golden brown.  Drain it on paper towells and remember to salt them as they come out of the pot. 

Justin made some kind of spicy sauce that was similar to the sauce you get when you order fried pickles.  He used sour cream, buttermilk, salt, pepper, hot sauce, dill, and cayenne.  I think that's it.  I wasn't watching. ;)  But, you can make whatever you like.  They're even great without sauce!  Light, crispy, and a breeze to put together---try it some time.