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Blueberry Pie and The Honor System

25 Jun

My Husband and I both had to work this past Saturday morning.  Luckily, we were both done by lunchtime and when I got home, he said he had a surprise for me!  Yay! I can usually figure out what his surprises are, but this one really had me stumped.  We got in the car and headed to wherever the surprise was.  We ended up in the next town over, Pilot Mountain.  He was taking me blueberry picking!  There was this cute little blueberry farm that he had driven by on his milk truck route and he thought I would like it.  Of course I would!  I love doing stuff like that!  So, we pull in and there are 2 people there, none of whom work there.  We just grab a little bucket and start picking.  It was hot, but we had a lot of fun eating berries and throwing them at each other!.  When our bucket is full, we head back, but there is still not anyone in sight that works there.  Well, there is a table set up with scales, plastic bags, a metal box, and a piece of paper.  The paper says “The Honor System:  You pick them, weigh them, put them in a bag, and leave your money in the box.”  So we did!  I thought that was pretty cool!

Apparently, I was tricked because, little did I know, Johnny had been wanting a blueberry pie, which I have never made before.  Of course, I wasn’t going to tell him that.  And it turned out freaking fabulous!  So, here is my recipe.  I apologize for the measurements.  I tend to not measure things.  I just guess and add and pour, but I will try to get as close as possible.

4 pounds of blueberries!

4 pounds of blueberries!

These were some big berries!

These were some big berries!

 

So to start, if you are using fresh berries, you need to wash them of course.  I assume everyone knows this, but I also forget that not everyone has blueberry farms 15 minutes from their house.  If you buy them from the store, I would recommend washing them anyway!  Now, I’m not going to get into the pie/sonker/cobbler thing (that’s a whole other blog) but, I had just bought a deep dish pie crust and I really wanted to use it, while I really felt like the blueberries would work best in a sonker/cobbler setting.  I filled the pie crust with blueberries.  I really don’t know how many it was, but if I had to guess, I would say 6 cups.  Next, you mix together 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 cup light brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.  I just poured that over the berries inside of the pie crust and kind of tossed it around until all the berries were coated.

 

Next step is the topping.  This is just a crust, you could use another pie crust if you wanted, I just didn’t want to go that route with this one.  I melted 6 tablespoons of butter a mixed in 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of sugar.  I also added some cinnamon and quick cooking oats to it, just to be fancy.  (Reminder:  I don’t measure, so what I am writing on here is just a guess of what I used.)  Mix everything together until it is pasty.  It shouldn’t be runny.  More like a cookie dough.  You kind of have to drop it onto the top of the blueberries in the pie crust as evenly as you can.

That's what it looked like before it was cooked.

That’s what it looked like before it was cooked.

 

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  You can’t cut it immediately, it needs time to set up.  This pie is so good!

Finished Product!

Finished Product!

 

 

 

Sometimes I let him do what he wants.

Sometimes I let him do what he wants.

 

That’s why you shouldn’t cut it immediately.  But, he was going to terrorize it anyways!  It was a great Saturday!  I also got a new planter from my Dad and got my chicks and hens planted (This is what I call that plant, although I have heard several other names.  I do know it is one of the only plants that I can successfully multiply!!!)

So cool looking!

So cool looking!

 

 

 

 

 

remodeling, remaking, reinventing

7 Jun

As I was driving to work today, my thoughts were on the disaster I was leaving at home. My newly refinished bedroom floor was dotted with puppy paws. There was already one long scratch in the floor, complements of Kitten moving the box springs. The painter had started moving his tools in, before the floor man moved his stuff out. Trying to live in a house while these two major things are being done is impossible.

A permanent reminder of our dogs.

A permanent reminder of our dogs.

This led me to think, “Are we always trying to improve? Are we ever satisfied with our life? Has this year been hard enough, just with the things that have been handed to us? Do I have to add to it by sanding my floors and painting my walls”?

My Aunt Betty is 87 years old. She is still trying to be better. Trying to lose weight, improve her health, exercise (or talk about it), clean her house, be closer to God. And, she wants to ride the train to NC to help me do all the same things! So many times I have wondered if I will be what God wants me to be. Will I ever be complete? Sometimes for just a moment, I will settle down and say, “I am okay just the way I am. My life is good.” The next breath, I am tearing something down, creating my own chaos.

I hope I’m still striving for perfection when I am 87. Here’s to the next 29 years!

Zucchini Bread, Puzzles, and Cartoons

7 Jun

Since Tropical Depression Andrea (I think that’s her name) has come to visit us today, we are stuck inside all day.  While the kids and I love being outside, we also enjoy a rainy day in the house every once in a while.  Charlie is getting caught up on his DVR’d episodes of Max and Ruby and playing with his Batmobile while Maddie is taking a nap.  Great day for a nap, isn’t it?

This morning we decided to make some zucchini bread.  I still have several bags of shredded zucchini in the freezer from last summer that I need to use up before our zucchini starts coming in this year.  Maddie decided to take a break from her princess duties to help me:

Cinderella (before she became a princess).

Cinderella (before she became a princess).

Here’s my zucchini bread recipe, if anyone wants to try it:

Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:

6 eggs

3 cups white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup dark Karo Syrup

2 cups oil

2 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. cinammon

2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

6 cups flour

4 cups shredded zucchini (if frozen, include the juice)

*optional: 2 cups nuts

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease and flour bread pans.  (This recipe will make 3 large loaves of bread, or 6 mini-loaves, and also makes great muffins.) Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Add the sugars, karo syrup, and oil.  Mix well.  Add the vanilla, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and mix well.  Alternately add the flour and zucchini, mixing well between each addition.  Fold in nuts if desired.

Pour into bread pans and cook 40-50 mins depending on loaf size.

Turned out well!

Turned out well!

The kids and I ate zucchini bread with peanut butter for lunch and it was so good.  Hopefully the rain will stop this afternoon and we can get out to deliver our other loaves!

This is the stack of books we have been working on today:

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Sometimes rainy days are so good!

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting

20 Apr

We are having a wonderful, busy Saturday.  We have been doing stuff around the house today and are just waiting on it to warm up a bit more so we can head outside.

Jason is outside already cleaning up from the awful storms we had last night.  I can hear the chainsaw running-we had several limbs down this morning.  We had to drive to Greensboro last night for a birthday party and had one of the scariest experiences of our lives.  It was storming terribly and we suddenly hit a wall of wind and rain.  Jason slowed down to about 5 miles per hour, but could barely keep the truck on the road.  There were tree limbs hitting the windshield and Jason said, “I think we’re in a tornado.  I don’t know what to do.” I told him to just keep going and maybe we would just drive out of it, so that’s what we did.  When we finally did drive out of the worst part of the storm, Jason pulled over on the side of the road.  I said, “Don’t stop now!  We need to get away from whatever it is!”  The whole time I was praying, “God, just be with us right now.”  I looked back at the kids and their eyes were so big! By the time we returned home we didn’t have power, but it turned back on around 2 this morning.  I am so thankful for those men who work on our power lines on rainy, dark nights!

We are having a baby shower at my church tomorrow afternoon and I decided to make a wreath for a decoration and gift for Chloe, the mommy-to-be.  I think it turned out quite nicely.  Make sure you check out our facebook page if you would like to order one!

This will be so cute on the door of our fellowship hall!

This will be so cute on the door of our fellowship hall!

I also made these tasty chocolate buttermilk cupcakes with white chocolate frosting.  The recipe is from my Cake Mix Doctor book and I changed it a little. They are not too sweet so you can eat at least a dozen at a time!

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes.  You are also getting a sneak peek of our new paint colors!

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes. You are also getting a sneak peek of our new paint colors!

Here’s the recipe in case you want to try these for yourself:

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting

1 package chocolate cake mix

3 tbs. cocoa powder

1 1/3 c. buttermilk

1/2 c. vegetable oil (I used canola)

3 large eggs

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 tbs. all-purpose flour

Mix all of these ingredients together until well blended.  Pour into the pan of your choice (I used mini cupcake liners in a mini cupcake pan).  Bake at 350 degrees until done (the mini cupcakes take 16 mins).

White Chocolate Frosting

6 oz white chocoate, melted and cooled slightly

8 oz cream cheese at room temp.

4 tbs. (1/2 stick) butter at room temp.

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 1/2 c. confectioners sugar

Mix the butter and cream cheese until combined.  Add the melted white chocolate and blend on low for 30 secs.  Add the vanilla and confectioners sugar and blend until fluffy, about 1 min more.

These cupcakes are very rich and not too sweet, and would make really great muffins for breakfast if you added some chocolate chips and didn’t add the icing.  That’s my kind of breakfast!

Dying Easter Eggs

28 Mar

We have had a lot of fun this week beginning our Easter traditions.  This is the first year that Charlie really understands what is going on, and of course if Charlie likes it Maddie is totally into it!  We have been learning a lot with our resurrection eggs and some library books about the whole point of Easter-that Jesus died and was resurrected.  We have also been doing the other Easter stuff, like Easter egg hunts and dying eggs.  We dyed our eggs on Monday, and I am just now getting around to posting about it!

I had aspirations to do lots of great, creative things with our Easter eggs, but ended up just buying the good ol’ Paas Easter egg kit and going for it.  We didn’t even write on them with crayons before we dyed them!  Maybe next year…

Both Maddie and Charlie got a big kick out of watching the color tablets dissolve in the vinegar.

Both Maddie and Charlie got a big kick out of watching the color tablets dissolve in the vinegar.

Working...

Working…

They immediately wanted to take the eggs out of the dye!  I had to make them leave them a little longer so the colors would be a little brighter.

They immediately wanted to take the eggs out of the dye! I had to make them leave them a little longer so the colors would be a little brighter.

Green hands!

Green hands!

Our eggs had a slightly more "natural" color since our eggs were blue and brown instead of white!  I like how they turned out.

Our eggs had a slightly more “natural” color since our eggs were blue and brown instead of white! I like how they turned out.

...and displayed on the table.

…and displayed on the table.

Now the kids can’t wait to destroy the eggs on Easter day!  They want to crack them open so badly.

I have seen some other really cool things with Easter eggs.  One of my favorite blogs is Glitter ‘N Glue, and she had a great post today featuring DIY Glittered Easter eggs.  I wish I had seen this before we dyed our eggs!  Click on the link to see her idea: http://glitternglue.com/2013/03/28/diy-decorative-glittered-easter-eggs/.

This site also has some really cool ideas: http://www.thegirlcreative.com/2013/03/24/creative-ways-to-decorate-easter-eggs.html.

Next year, I am definitely getting more creative with our eggs!  Or I may just stay up late one night and do it myself…

 

 

 

 

 

The Innovative Easter Bunny

25 Mar

This is the end of another great weekend!  The kids and I traveled to Mt. Airy on Friday to spend some time with our family there.  We stopped on our way at the Children’s Museum in Greensboro and had the most fun time.  They basically have  a town set up for young children, complete with a grocery store, theater, a doctor’s and dentist’s office, a post office, a news studio, a firetruck, and tons more stuff.  I wish I had videoed Charlie’s reaction when we walked in.  He kind of doubled over with his arms out and just went “OOOOOOOOOOOOO.” It was the funniest thing I have ever seen.  I love being there for experiences like that with them.  We had a great time there and I could barely get them to leave.

We had a great visit in Mt. Airy as well.  I am always glad when we can go and spend the night rather than rushing back home in one day.  Even though I don’t get much sleep that night, it is worth it to get to spend some time with Daddy and Grandma and Julie.  Daddy spent time coloring with the kids and he and Maddie made pancakes on Saturday morning.

Today was a busy day at church for us.  Jason and I taught Sunday School, then after the service the youth sponsored a lunch to raise money for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.  It is always great to spend some extra time with my family from church!  After lunch the kids had an Easter egg hunt.  Because of the cold, rainy weather, we had to “hide” the eggs inside, but it was still fun!

Maddie getting a lift to reach one of the harder-to-find eggs.

Maddie getting a lift to reach one of the harder-to-find eggs.

Charlie going through his loot.

Charlie going through his loot.

The whole crowd! I love these kids.

The whole crowd! I love these kids.

Maddie with some of her friends from church.

Maddie with some of her friends from church.

After we got home, Charlie and Maddie dumped out their baskets and started going through their findings.  Of course it was mostly candy.  I have been thinking today (especially considering that Charlie has a dentist appointment tomorrow) that there have got to be some alternatives to candy in the eggs!  Here’s what I came up with:

1. stickers (you may have to cut a sheet of stickers into smaller pieces to fit in the eggs)

2. necklaces (I found some good ones here:  http://www.orientaltrading.com/bright-cross-necklaces-a2-36_1494-12-1.fltr?Ntt=crosses)

3. hair bows or clips for girls

4. quarters, nickels, and dimes

5. magnets

6. stamps and ink

7. small containers of play-doh

8. bracelets

9. stuffed animals (these baby chicks are too cute: http://www.orientaltrading.com/baby-chicks-a2-48_8752.fltr?prodCatId=550678&tabId=6)

10. packets of seeds

11. raisins

12. toy cars

13. Silly Bands

14. erasers

15. tattoos

16. bouncy balls

17. rolled up socks

18. Lego pieces (look at this cute bunny and chick set: http://www.amazon.com/LEGO-Seasonal-Bunny-Bagged-40031/dp/B007F824HW%3FSubscriptionId%3D14H876SFAKFS0EHBYQ02%26tag%3Dhubp06ac0-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3DB007F824HW)

19. Band-Aids (the kids love these)

20. little plastic animals

21. lip gloss or chap stick

22. nail polish

23. mini hand sanitizer

24. pencil sharpeners

25. fruit snacks

Any more ideas?  Comment below!  I am sure I’m not the only mother who would appreciate having the Easter bunny leave things other than candy behind in those baskets!

 

 

DIY Bookend

16 Mar

Good morning!  I hope everyone is enjoying this wonderful Saturday.  It is going to be a gorgeous day in NC today-the high is 74, so I am in the process of opening all of our windows and letting in some fresh air.  Hopefully we can spend the rest of the day outside!

Every spring Jason and I embark on a renovation project of some area of our yard, and this year we are focusing on the side of our house by the garage.  It is very rocky and shady, so we don’t have any grass or plants on this side of our house and it annoys me every time I walk outside and see it!  Jason uses it to place things that he doesn’t use but thinks he will some day, so it has become an eyesore in my opinion.  Hopefully we can change that this spring and summer.

One of the things that Jason has sitting in this area of our yard is a big stack of bricks.  They were leftover from when we built the foundation of our house, so they have been there for quite awhile!  Charlie and I painted some of the bricks a couple of weeks ago and used them to mark the beginning and end of our strawberry patch, and I have been on the lookout for some other things we could do with the bricks.

Since Jason and I both teach Sunday School, we have a couple of commentaries that are easier to just leave out on our dresser.  I don’t like how they look just standing alone, so I decided to make a bookend using a brick.  It was really simple to do and I love the finished product!

You will need:

1 brick

felt

a glue gun

a cardboard letter (very cheap at Hobby Lobby)

spray paint

I painted my "W" blue to match our bedroom walls.  I decided to leave the brick its natural color.  You could paint both the letter and the brick white and that would be really pretty.

I painted my “W” blue to match our bedroom walls. I decided to leave the brick its natural color. You could paint both the letter and the brick white and that would be really pretty.

This glue gun is one that I found when I moved into my first classroom 12 years ago!  Maybe I should ask for a new one for my birthday!

This glue gun is one that I found when I moved into my first classroom 12 years ago! Maybe I should ask for a new one for my birthday!

Glue some felt onto the bottom of the brick-otherwise it will scratch your furniture.

Glue some felt onto the bottom of the brick-otherwise it will scratch your furniture.

Glue your letter to the brick, and done!

Glue your letter to the brick, and done!

Pretty, isn't it?

Pretty, isn’t it?

I also love my peacock feathers!

I also love my peacock feathers!

I really liked how this turned out.  I have a couple of other places that need a cute bookend, so I think I’ll have to make a trip to Hobby Lobby to pick up some more letters!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Sure Sign that Spring is Near

12 Mar

One thing I love about my mother is that she always knows from a simple telephone call when I need a few minutes alone.  She is so good about taking the kids for a little while so I can have a breather and I so appreciate that.  That is one pro of living next door to your mom: It’s no big deal for her to say, “Can I stop by and take the kids for a little while?”

While she had the kids for a couple of hours this afternoon, I did one of my favorite things: Washed off the screened-in porch.  You may think that sounds crazy, but it is so therapeutic to me.  Jason got the water hose out of winter storage for me and I went to it.  I just love the sounds of the outdoors and the water dripping, and seeing the dirt being washed away…I don’t know why, exactly, but I love it. When I tell Jason, “I am going to wash off the porch now,” He takes the kids and leaves me to it!

We eat a lot of meals around this table!

We eat a lot of meals around this table!

For me, this is a definite sign that spring is coming.  We use the porch every day during the spring, summer, and fall.  We love to eat breakfast and dinner out there (most days it is too hot for lunch on the porch), and the kids spend a lot of time playing in their water table out there.  I love to sit in one of the comfy wicker chairs and read or look on my Kindle.

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So ready for winter to be over!

So ready for winter to be over!

I am so ready for a summer of long, hot days outside, playing in the water, grilling out with family, staying up late, and washing off the porch!

 

Symphony Brownies

10 Mar

We are having a potluck lunch at my church tomorrow to celebrate a member of our church turning 94 (wow!) and to welcome our new interim pastor and his wife.  I always enjoy spending time with the wonderful members of my church family so I am really looking forward to tomorrow.

I spent a little time cooking today so I would have less to do in the morning.  It is always a mad rush for us all to get ready and dressed up and out the door in time for Sunday School, so the less I have to do in the morning, the better.  Especially considering the fact that time changes tonight, so we’ll all probably be a bit sluggish in the morning.

I made Symphony Brownies this morning (with the help of my little assistant, Maddie).

She is going to be a genius in the kitchen!

She is going to be a genius in the kitchen!

Symphony Brownies have been one of my go-to desserts for years now.  My mom originally found the recipe from Paula Dean, and we both use it quite often. I have made a few changes over time and think I have finally perfected the recipe!

Symphony Brownies

2 boxes Duncan  Hines Brownie Mix (I prefer the triple chocolate chunk)

3 eggs (2 if you like a more cake-like brownie)

2/3 cup canola oil

2/3 cup of brewed coffee

2 Symphony Bars with Toffee (in the blue and white packaging)

Mix the brownie mix, eggs, oil, and coffee just until blended.  Spread half of the mix into a 9×13 inch pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Break up the candy bars into chunks and layer it on top of the brownie mix.  Top this with the other half of the mix.  Cook at 350 for about 45-50 mins.  This takes awhile to cook because it is so thick, so make sure that you check it by sticking a knife or toothpick into it to check for doneness.  I like mine rather gooey, so you may want to cook yours for longer if you would like your brownies more cake-like.

This is the real reason Maddie likes to help out in the kitchen so much!

This is the real reason Maddie likes to help out in the kitchen so much!

Charlie came in to get a little taste.

Charlie came in to get a little taste.

Mixing the Ingredients

Mixing the Ingredients

The 2nd layer-you may want to buy an extra candy bar to eat!

The 2nd layer-you may want to buy an extra candy bar to eat!

Yummy Goodness-so good when they're hot out of the oven

Yummy Goodness-so good when they’re hot out of the oven

I hope these make it to lunch tomorrow!

I hope these make it to lunch tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Day in Black and White

8 Mar

What a gorgeous day it has been here today!  We have had a great day and I thought I would share it with you through some pics I took today.

 

Maddie and Charlie have to have a cup of juice first thing in the morning.

Maddie and Charlie have to have a cup of juice first thing in the morning.

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Maddie’s new sunglasses.

 

 

Maddie playing Diva first thing in the morning.

Maddie playing Diva first thing in the morning.

 

Charlie loves to get in my and Jason's bed and play on the Kindle or watch cartoons in the morning.

Charlie loves to get in my and Jason’s bed and play on the Kindle or watch cartoons in the morning.

Are those eyes amazing or what?  Pancakes and bananas for breakfast.

Are those eyes amazing or what? Pancakes and bananas for breakfast.

Madster warming up in front of the fire.  I am so glad we can enjoy relaxing mornings around the house!

Madster warming up in front of the fire. I am so glad we can enjoy relaxing mornings around the house!

Ready for storytime!

Ready for storytime!

Charlie discovered Candy Sticks today.  When I was little, they were called Candy Cigarettes and had a red tip on the end. What were people thinking?

Charlie discovered Candy Sticks today. When I was little, they were called Candy Cigarettes and had a red tip on the end. What were people thinking?

Playing in a pile of blankets while I made the bed.

Playing in a pile of blankets while I made the bed.

After spending some time with Mama today, we came home and enjoyed some time outside.  Maddie and I planted some broccoli and carrots while Charlie and Noah played in the sandbox.

After spending some time with Mama today, we came home and enjoyed some time outside. Maddie and I planted some broccoli and carrots while Charlie and Noah played in the sandbox.

I am trying to grow carrots in pots this year.  I'll let you know how they turn out!

I am trying to grow carrots in pots this year. I’ll let you know how they turn out!

We picked some buttercups.  Paired with rosemary, they really brighten up my kitchen.

We picked some buttercups. Paired with rosemary, they really brighten up my kitchen.

Maddie was so happy to be outside!

Maddie was so happy to be outside!

Pillow fight with Noah!

Pillow fight with Noah!

Spaghetti face

Spaghetti face

 

Good day!  I am exhausted!