Monday, April 25, 2011

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Emily goes to the Zoo!

Before it gets too terribly hot and I get too terribly big and pregnant, we decided to take Emily to the zoo this weekend. We made a quick trip to Tyler to Caldwell Zoo Saturday afternoon for a few fun hours at the zoo. The weather was great. I enjoyed being outside for a little while. Emily liked the zoo. My mom asked me if she loved it to which I said that 'love would be a strong word, she liked it, hopefully loving it will come in a few years.' She liked the birds. I guess because of their noises and bright colors. As for the other animals, it was difficult for me to spot some of them in their zoo habitat, so I'm not even sure if she saw what we were looking at. She rode in her stroller most of the time that we were there because if we got her out, she just tried to run away. Sweet baby she is, trying to run from mommy and daddy! She loves to be outside though, so she was very content. It was a very fun first trip for Miss Emily...we hope to do it again soon and at a time when she will enjoy it even more!

Emily and Daddy time with the penguins. She liked watching them (well really just one, at that time) swim back and forth in front of the window. 

At the monkey exhibit...not sure what kind of monkey this was. You can barely even see it in the picture, but look closely over on the rocks there are two black and white monkeys. Maybe she saw them. Maybe. 

My sweet, happy girl. 

She stood there forever looking at the flamingos. They were our first exhibit and our last, since they are right at the entrance. She liked this part alot. Funny birds-those flamingos. Pretty interesting to watch, even for me. Some things never change I guess. 

Leaving the zoo, eating a snack of animal crackers. Coincidence? Perhaps.

We finished up our afternoon in Tyler with a trip to Target (gotta go to Target when available) and some good Mexican food at Mercados. Fun stuff. We are thankful for a fun day with our fun little girl!

A preview to all things Summer

Okay so maybe I should have said, "A preview to all things Summer, regarding FOOD" since this post will revolve around food. We love Summer food so to get us more ready for such wonderful things as fresh produce, fresh fruit, barbecues, cookouts, fresh lemonade, homemade ice cream, sno-cones...(the list could go on and on), we have made a few dishes in anticipation for how much better they will be when it is actually Summer.  Is it wrong that I (we) get so excited about this. Oh well if it is.

Hamburger done right. What is better than this during summer. This was Jeffery's of which he was quite proud. Cheddar cheese, avocado slices, red onion rings, and barbecue sauce. YUM.

We paired the burgers with these fried green beans. This was a recipe called 'Buttermilk Fried Green Beans' which was pretty good...but I prefer another that I used last year from the Neeley's-courtesy of Food Network. Before about half a year ago, I had never had fried green beans and definitely not cooked them myself. I guess a green bean isn't a veggie you think about frying on a daily basis. But, let me say, they are yum and maybe a little more nutritionally sound than their cousin, the fried potato...maybe...

So, the next few pictures are baked goods I have made over the last couple weeks...but they don't really have anything to do with summer. They are good anytime. Especially when family and friends are involved. 

Apple Pie with a Crumb Topping before...

And after...A la mode of course. How else?
This doesn't really relate to summer, its good any time. Italian cream cake. One of my favorites. My sister and Campbell were in town last week for a few days while my brother in law, Bryon, was out of town on business. We loved hanging out with them. I made this cake for family dinner dessert while they were here. 
This too doesn't actually relate to summer either, but it was a new recipe I wanted to try out so, while my sis was in town, we tried it. Chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. Delicious. The perfect balance of sweet and good. 

Summer will bring ALL sorts of good things. For me, the biggest thing will be the addition of baby girl # 2 (which, yes, at this time remains nameless as we haven't yet decided on 'the' name for her). But along with that, I am certain lots of good food will be mixed in...I will share more as I eat more. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord's great love we ate by consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "the Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for him." The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:21-26

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Weekend Highlights

What a beautiful weekend it has been. We enjoyed spending lots of 'outside' time in the sunshine. 
Emily loves riding her 4-Wheeler. She is not very good at steering...but she is trying to get that down. 

I am pleased that this Azalea bush came back into bloom this Spring. It adds a little color to the front yard for now...We are still in the process of getting some landscaping done. Hopefully soon!!

And perhaps, one of the highlights of the weekend was this wonderful 'Praline Cheesecake' (recipe courtesy of Mrs. Paula Deen via Food Network!) Again, while doing laundry on Friday, I flipped across 'Paula's Best Dishes' on Food Network and this recipe caught my eye. At the encouraging and prompting of my sister, I have decided to begin to share some recipes on the blog. Some will be my own, others shared from my friends like Paula, but I will always give credit where credit is due. For those of you that might not know, I love to cook. I love to try new recipes and make up new recipes from time to time. I guess its my hobby. The only bummer to my hobby is the clean up process, but most of the time, it is worth it. With this cheesecake, it definitely was.  

    'Cheesecake with Praline Topping'
Crust Ingredients:
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
 Cheesecake Ingredients:
  • 2- 8 ounce packages softened cream cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 Praline Topping Ingredients:
  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix the melted butter with the graham cracker crumbs until well combined. Using the back of a wooden spoon, press the mixture into the bottom and up about one inch of the sides of a nine inch spring-form pan. Set aside. And go ahead and set the oven temp at 350 degrees. 

Cream the cream cheese, eggs, sugar, and vanilla together until well combined to a creamy consistency.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl for all the goodness. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes, watching closely checking for need of turning during baking. Make sure the middle is set firm before removing from the oven. 

Removed the baked cheesecake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. After a few minutes (10ish), pop the springform part of the pan off. While cooling, work on the praline topping-the BEST part. 

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, cornstarch, and corn syrup. Stir constantly until thickened, being careful not to burn. 

Remove mixture from heat and stir in the chopped pecans (I used more like a cup rather than 1/2 cup...) and vanilla.

Ladle this mixture generously over the cheesecake letting it run over the sides. Spread pecans if necessary for an even consistency. 

Although it looks great to eat right now, probably best to allow to cool at least to room temperature before cutting. Serve and store any remaining in the refrigerator. 

On Friday evening, my parents watched Emily for us so that Jeffery and I could go on a date and do a little shopping. It was a great night out in Texarkana. We ate at Olive Garden, yum, and did some maternity clothes shopping afterwards. Thats always fun too, I guess! I did find some good buys-including an Easter dress. That was my main goal. Emily even spent the night out! Since we got home late, my mom volunteered to just keep her overnight. She had a fun time, slept great there too, and I retrieved her Saturday morning. It was kind of weird waking up Saturday morn without her here, but all is well! Thanks to my mom and dad for being so kind. They got the other half of the cheesecake as payment! Ha!

Another highlight of the weekend was receiving this in the mail on Friday afternoon! We love coffee, and we really love coffee from 'Cafe Brazil'. Wish we had one closer than Dallas. But thank goodness for the WWW because we can order when we need coffee! This is a TWO pound bag. Lots of goodness. Jeffery took this picture because he was proud of it's arrival. He opened it this morning before church and we both thoroughly enjoyed our cup of morning coffee. 

I'll close this post with a few thoughts of what our Sunday school class has been studying recently. 'Lies about God'. The 'lie' or 'myth' discussed today is that, 'God is who I want him to be.' The truth to this lie is that, "I am who I am." Exodus 3:14. In discussing this today, the question in my mind was, 'Who is God to you'? 'Who is God to me'? 
Society does tell us that He is whatever we want him to be, whatever we need at a specific time or a specific day or situation. Is he the God of all areas of our lives, or just the God of certain ones like our health, our friendships, our wealth, our future...Just something to ponder. It is my prayer that I will be conscience of who God is to me, not just today since we studied this, but all the time. God is constantly seeking us, a deeper relationship with us, an intimate, growing relationship with us. Will we allow him to be God over all aspects of our lives. Our idols (mental or physical) could never compare to the GREATNESS of our God. 

Thank you for your Greatness Oh God. Thank you for your unchanging, everlasting nature. Thank you for seeking me. May I seek you and find you when I seek you with ALL of my heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)

Have a wonderful day wrapping up this wonderful weekend. Peace. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

The things pregnancy does...

Crying comes more frequently to a pregnant woman. Others would agree, I think! So today, while doing laundry, I was flipping channels and came across a classic episode of 'Full House' on ABC Family. Let it be said that I bawled like a baby as it aired. Silly silly pregnancy hormones. I will say that it was a touching episode, the one where Stephanie is faced with the decision of telling or not telling when her friend confides in her that his father abuses him, but still, did I really need to cry?? I have probably seen that episode 10 plus times since it's original air date in 1993!!

Anyhow, I pulled my emotional self together, finished folding the laundry, and carried on with my day.

That's all. Have a beautiful weekend. Don't cry during 'Full House'.