Thursday, November 24, 2011

I Am Thankful

This Thanksgiving hasn't turned out quite like originally planned. We were supposed to have a family gathering at our house but instead we're spending the morning together just the three of us, and this afternoon we'll be heading over to our neighbors' house for dinner. It's given me some time to ponder what things I am most thankful for this year:
  1. My salvation. Despite all circumstances, I know that my future is secure. And I am so very blessed that my family shares that same faith and future. It makes all things bearable.
  2. My husband. Adam is just right for me. There is no doubt in my mind that God specifically put him in my life at just the right time.
  3. My daughter. She brings so much joy to our life. {And as I type this, she is watching The Grinch, and quoting "Why? Why are you taking the Christmas tree? Why?" Too cute.}
  4. My dad. He's had a rough couple of weeks, and I'm selfishly thankful that God has given him more time on the earth.
  5. My mom. Such a strong, Godly woman.
  6. My sister. No one understands like she does.
  7. My in-laws. Yes, really. I hit the jackpot when I married into this family. They love deeply.
  8. My church. Such an amazing support system!
  9. My pastor. He challenges me each and every week. Even when I think the topic won't apply to me, I always leave knowing that I was filled with knowledge, wisdom and conviction.
  10. My job. I was a victim of the first round of economic layoffs, but I was blessed with an even better job where I am challenged and valued daily.
I could continue, but I think this is a good list to start with today. And besides, I want each of you to spend time being thankful with your own families and friends instead of reading about my thankfulness!

So blessed.

Knock-Off Cinnamon Rolls

Happy Thanksgiving!!! A couple of my friends are running the Turkey Trot this morning. Others are busy cooking up a storm. Some may be "fasting" to save room and calories for the indulgences to come later today. How did our family begin the day? Cinnamon rolls, of course!
I'll be making some pecan pie and green bean casserole later this morning, so I wanted something quick. But I also wanted something special for breakfast for my family. I had some crescent rolls in the fridge, and some cinnamon chips left over from the shower I threw a couple weeks ago, so I was all set.

First I unrolled the crescent dough, separated it into the two long strips, and rolled the seams together.

Then I melted up a little butter and brushed it over the rolled out dough. After sampling a few of the cinnamon chips {man, I love those things!} I sprinkled them generously on top.

Next I rolled the dough up, pressing the seam down so it would stay together when it was baked {which it didn't do very well, but oh well}.

 To cut the rolls, I used a little trick my mom always did when making {real} cinnamon rolls: cut a piece of sewing thread, slide it under the dough, and cinch it up until it cuts all the way through the dough.

Put the rolls on parchment paper on a baking sheet, and repeat with the other half of the crescent rolls.

Pop into the oven, following the time listed on the crescent roll package, and voila! Breakfast is served! Well... ok, so I added some pecan cream cheese frosting that I had left over... not necessary, but it definitely was a great addition! {I promise that the recipe for the Butter Pecan Cake that the frosting was from is coming soon!}

Happy Thanksgiving ~ enjoy family, friends, and food!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Woodland Baby Shower

Another baby shower this year! After the two baby showers earlier this year, I promised my husband that I wouldn't agree to host anything else this year until the holidays... but then I realized that my friend Lynee would absolutely need a baby shower, and so I had to break my promise - with his permission, of course. At least it wasn't at our house, right?!?! {justification...}

Lynee decorated her baby's nursery in a woodland theme, with deer and trees. So we ran with it. I began searching Pinterest and Google for ideas, and I was amazed at how popular the theme is. We started out with great invitations from Invitations by Ruth, which matched the nursery incredibly well.

The food table - isn't the acorn swag {made by Jen} great? Inspiration came from Lauren Makes.

Joanna found these adorable woodland creature cupcake picks on Etsy! The cupcake liners {from WalMart} were folded up in the cupcake tins before batter was added. Then we did a quick swirl of frosting with a big star decorating tip and stuck in the picks. So easy!

This was my contribution to the food table - my Hershey kiss/mini Nilla wafer/cinnamon chip acorns turned out so well {and tasted really good}! I've seen them a few places on Pinterest, but I think the original idea is from Lipstick & Laundry.

Add some fruit, chips and salsa, and crackers and cheeseball, and it was a fun afternoon spread!

There's just something about dainty cloth napkins wrapped with a simple ribbon, and clear glass hostess sets to eat off of... LOVE!

The stash of gifts... for my present to Lynee, I wanted something that wasn't necessarily practical, but something I knew she would still use. After much searching, I came across The Flies Blend where there was a DIY for monthly onesies. I think they turned out pretty well...
I downloaded the printables from the blog and opened each in a Word document, then formatted them so each one filled an entire page {6 were on a page}. Then I used Avery iron-on transfer paper for ink jet printers and printed them using the highest quality my printer would do. I cut them apart and then followed the directions on the Avery package to transfer them onto the onesies {in 4 different sizes}.

Then I rolled them each up and put them in a gift box from Target.

This is Lynee opening the gift - I think she liked them. :-)

The girls! Joanna, Lynee {mommy of honor!}, Jen, and me.
Can't wait to meet your baby, Lynee!!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chocolate-Oatmeal Cookies

I'm not much of a cookie-baker. Maybe that comes from me not being much of a cookie-eater. I've just never gotten consistent results, or even good results, when it comes to baking cookies. I guess I've never had much incentive to get good at it. I just always thought that cookies should be the easiest thing to make, and since I didn't do it well and I didn't really like them anyway, I never made the effort to try.

A couple nights ago, though, I got a craving for cookies. WHAT?!?! Maybe it was just a craving to bake something, and I knew I didn't have the time or the energy to bake something "serious." So I asked my daughter if she wanted to bake some cookies with me. "YES!!!" came the answer from the living room. But after she helped me get all the ingredients out, she left me alone in the kitchen so she could go "feed her babies." Apparently that's much more important these days than helping Mommy in the kitchen.

I didn't take many prep photos... and the ones I did take didn't turn out well because it was so late in the evening and the lighting just wasn't good. But I fortunately remembered a few little tricks on cookies that I had stored away over the years.

1. After the batter is mixed together, let it chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before spooning it onto the cookie sheet. For some reason this helps prevent the cookies from spreading out as they bake. {I normally end up with one big, thin cookie instead of several individual cookies.}

2. Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper. While this has no effect on the cookies themselves, it makes for much easier clean-up.

3. Use a cookie or ice cream scoop to put the batter onto the pan - the cookies bake much more evenly if they're all the same size.

4. After baking, let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack. The cookies firm up a bit and don't fall apart so easily after the slight cooling.

5. Cookies are best eaten right out of the oven --> and the rest should be given away!

Chocolate-Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate squares
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Melt unsweetened chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl; allow to cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in the melted chocolate, egg, and vanilla until combined. Beat in the flour, stirring by hand if necessary. Stir in the oats and chocolate chips.

Drop dough about 3 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet, lined in parchment paper. Bake in a 375° oven for 8-10 minutes or until edges are firm. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.