It has been soooooo long since I have done a blog post. Let me catch you up and offer a few fun things
On May 27th, after 17 months of long distance planning, our youngest daughter got married in a perfect wedding. The entire week leading up to the event and even a few days after were full of fun family events including a golf tournament for the guys, bridal luncheon for the girls, a meat-a-poulouza cook-out on Memorial Day, a KC Royals game with 27 family members in attendance, an elegant rehearsal dinner at the Carriage Club, a no-rain outdoor ceremony at The National Golf Club of KC (amidst tornado watches in the area) followed by a wonderful party celebrating the newlyweds.
Back in February we found out our middle daughter was expecting a big surprise….TRIPLETS! We were all in shock for quite some time (especially Mom and Dad) but now are just so excited to welcome these three babies to the world.
On top of all the excitement in our household these last few months, I have also decided it is time to hang up my calculator! Today I am closing out the accounting manager/systems analyst/project manager part of my life after 37 years! I certainly am excited but also feel a little different than what I expected. I will miss my co-workers but pretty sure I will not miss having to plan my life around month end GL close and new system implementations. Woohoo!
My travel bucket list is long and I hope to start marking a few things off the list in this new chapter of my life. My vision of retirement includes traveling and staying in a location for several weeks to really get to know the area. Have you ever thought about selling everything you own and hitting the road for a long period of time? I personally know two families who have done this, one in retirement which does not seem too radical and one family with young kids who are just getting started on their 1000 day journey. You can follow them on instagram at #moldyadventures. I also came across a blog of another family who packed up their four kids and took the adventure of a lifetime. Their very interesting story can be found here.
You all know that I am a list maker extraordinaire! I wrote about my list making obsession a few years ago in this post so it will be no surprise to you that I have been making list of things I want to do in retirement. I am having a very hard time prioritizing those items though because I am excited to tackle each one. However, one of the first things will be doing is to organize/simplify/de-clutter this house of mine. And yes, that sounds exciting to me! I follow several amazing bloggers who write about organization but my favorite is Jen from IHeartOrganizing. Tons of inspiration and creative ideas can be found on her site.
Have you ever visited the blog Sally’s Baking Addiction? I have been a regular reader for a few years and love all her recipes and beautiful photography. I must admit that I have been much more of a reader than a baker but this year I decided to up my baking game by participating in Sally’s Monthly Baking Challenge. Each month Sally provides a recipe, step by step directions and even a video to increase the baking skills and confidence of her readers. This month’s recipe is Sky High Chocolate Mousse Pie.
It was a fun assignment and my only deviation from her recipe was to make 3 mini pies instead of just one pie. The intent is that I will share the pies and Dave and I will not have to eat the whole dang pie, because I know we could do it!! As Sally describes on her site, there are three steps to this pie:
An Oreo crust.
Everything is made from scratch except for the Ores of course! I even made a special trip to one of my favorite stores in the world, Cockrell’s Mercantile, to buy some individual fiesta ware pie plates. Any reason to buy more fiesta ware is a good reason to me!
Step one – the Oreo crust. I have made Oreo crust several times before and each time I do I tell myself that next time I am going to double the recipe because I never seem to have enough to take the crust up the full sides of the pie plate. Not sure if the fact I used three mini pie plates instead of one made a difference or not.
Step two – Chocolate Mousse. This step consisted of three parts, melting the chocolate, making and adding meringue, then making and adding whipped cream. This was definitely the richest mousse I have ever tasted, so, so good!
Once the mousse was complete, it was spread over the Oreo crust, topped with a layer of crushed Oreos, then another layer of mousse.
Step three – Making whipped cream. This was definitely the easiest step, just whipping heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into a beautiful, melt in your mouth whipped cream. Each mini pie was then topped with a generous amount and chocolate shavings were added for the final touch.
For the detailed recipe visit Sally’s Baking Addiction. Can’t wait to find out what is up for next month! Now, who wants one of these extra mini pies?
I thought that title might pull a few of you in…..to be honest, I visited NYC for work last week and Maroon 5 was the featured event at the conference I attended. I really did get to spend the evening with Adam it just happened to be along with about 5000 of the other conference attendees. Since I had never been to New York City before, I had my hubby tag along so we could take in a few of the sites together.
Our first stop was a visit to the 911 Memorial which was worth the entire trip in itself. We paid for a guided tour of the memorial and visited the museum on our own. It is a very humbling experience and meant to be a remembrance and place of quiet reflection. At one point I saw a guard stop a lady who was jogging through the park and told her she could only walk through the memorial.
The memorial itself consists of two square pools on the site where the twin towers stood. Names of the victims from that day and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing are inscribed in the border around the pools in what is described as “meaningful adjacencies.” Our tour guide told us that meant people with connections to each other had their names close together. As we walked around the pools our guide told us personal stories of victims and their families from that day. He also pointed out that on a victims birthday a white rose is placed in their name. It was an extremely overwhelming and emotional tour.
The museum is seventy feet underground and includes many, many artifacts from the day such as burned out firetrucks, pieces of papers found in the ruins, pictures of all the victims, 911 calls and many pieces of twisted metal from the buildings. The picture below is a piece of metal from the initial entry of the plane into the north tower.
Another favorite stop of mine in NYC was the Chelsea Market, taking up an entire block in the Manhattan Meat Packing District. It is an indoor food court and specialty shopping mall.
The shops were amazing and I could have spent an entire day there. There are artisanal cheese makers, multiple bakeries, a donutery and a chocolate shop selling a weakness of mine, peanut clusters for $38 per pound. I may or may not have bought just a couple.
In addition there was a spice vendor, a german sausage maker, craft beer vendors and way too many more to list. One in particular I could just not get my thoughts around, Takumi- Japenese Inspired Mexican, say what????
Our hotel, the Intercontinenal, was right in the middle of Times Square and all I can say to that is I have never seen so many people in my life. The sidewalks were packed at 7:00 a.m. and at midnight. It was sure fun to people-watch though and boy did we see some interesting things. There was a large police presence everywhere you looked with MANY carrying large rifles.
And of course I cannot forget to share a few pics of Adam…..
New York City is a must on your travel list, so many things to do. However, it made me really appreciate my little hometown of Lee’s Summit, Missouri!
Salads and I have a funny relationship. I love them when the weather is warm and the sun is shining, but not so much during cloudy, rainy or cold days. On those days I just want soup. A few weeks ago when we had several days in a row of great weather I challenged myself to make a different salad everyday for lunch. A couple of the recipes I made were from my own recipe book while a few others were new to me.
I have always loved caprese salad and make it often for dinner, but adding the diced avocado really put this concoction over the top. This was definitely my favorite of the week.
I sliced grape tomatoes in half and paired it with mozzarella pearls and diced avocado. For the dressing I drizzled with olive oil, basil, salt and pepper. Super easy!
The salad is romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, corn, black beans, avocado, fresh cilantro, toasted tortilla strips and grilled chicken. For the dressing, 1 cup cilantro leaves, 1/2 plain yogurt, 2 cloves minced garlic, juice of 1 lime, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 T apple cider vinegar and a pinch of salt combined in the food processor. Neither Dave or I were fans of this dressing, a little too tart for us, but there are many versions of Cilantro Lime Dressing on the web so next time I am going to try a different one.
I included sliced strawberries, green grapes, blackberries, bananas and kiwis for my salad and altered the sweet dressing a little since I am not a fan of mint leaves. My dressing included 1/4 cup of orange juice, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of honey. This was a great lunch!!
The salad was awesome with strawberries, spinach, blue cheese, thin sliced red onion, sliced almonds and bacon crumbles. The dressing consisted of 1/2 c chopped strawberries, 1/4 c lime juice, 1/4 c olive oil, 1 Tablespoon of honey and salt/pepper all pureed in the food processor. Yummy!
For the final day I made one of my own recipes I have been making for years, Broccoli and Cauliflower salad.
The salad is 2 cups each of raw broccoli and raw cauliflower cut into small bites, along with 1/2 cup celery, 1/2 cup red onion and 1 cup peas. I usually just toss those ingredients with 2 cups of ranch dressing and then top with parmesan cheese. I think this taste much better if it chills for a few hours in the fridge before eating.
This was a fun way to lighten up my lunches and try new recipes. I still have many other salad recipes I would like to try so I might need to do this again sometime.
Many of you followed our groups adventures in the ABC Dinner club where we ate our way through the alphabet at restaurants in Kansas City. That club came to a close a few months ago when we finally (after 5 years) made it to the letter Z. One of our club members had a friend who was part of a cookbook club and suggested we try that for our next adventure.
I have read about cookbook clubs in the past and there seem to be as many versions of these types of clubs as there are cookbooks themselves. Basically it is like any other book club, you get together with friends to eat, drink and discuss the book. The difference is that in a cookbook club each person cooks a recipe from the selected book and brings it to share with the other members.
Here are the guidelines for our version of the Cookbook Club:
Each member of the group will have a turn selecting a cookbook.
We will meet monthly to share and discuss prepared recipes.
Husbands are welcome (and encouraged) to assist with the recipe selection and cooking.
Each member will select a recipe from the cookbook for that month’s meeting. The monthly meeting does not need to be a meal with complimentary dishes selected. It can just be a tasting of random recipes.
We will continue making recipes out of the book until we have a good feel for it and decide we are ready to move to the next cookbook.
We can change these guideline whenever the heck we want to…
Corn Casserole with Peppers– easy to make, would be great in summer when corn is cheap. Discussed buying corn during the summer in bulk, cutting off the cob and freezing. Tasted great!
Buttered Rosemary Rolls – these rolls are excellent and easy to prepare since you start with frozen unbaked dinner rolls. The coarse salt and fresh rosemary make all the difference in taste, the butter probably does not hurt either.
Spicy Caesar Salad with Homemade Cornbread Croutons– the addition of chipotle peppers kicks this salad up a notch from a normal Caesar. For those of you that care (like me) there are raw eggs in the dressing which is also normal for Caesar dressing. The croutons were good but if made in the future would probably just buy croutons instead of going to the trouble of making from scratch.
BBQ Chicken and Pineapple Quesadillas – easy to make and tasted great. Serve with sour cream, salsa and a pineapple wedge on top.
Tangy Tomato Brisket– if you have six or seven hours to let this cook on a low temperature there is nothing better. Easy to prepare and boy does it make your house smell good all day. Turned out moist and tender which I can say is not always the case with brisket.
Knock You Naked Brownies– delicious but very rich. The recipe is a little more complex than simple brownies but good for a special occasion. Wish I would have taken a picture of the gooey caramel and chocolate on the inside which is the star in this dish.
Let me know if you are or have ever been in a cookbook club. I would love to hear how other’s operate.
A couple of months ago I shared with you a set of sheets I found that inspired me to make a star quilt for the room where my grandkids stay when they come to visit. You can read that post here. Those sheets and that quilt were the focal point for decorating the rest of the room that I finally finished this past weekend. Here is the overall look.
Here is another view that shows the 11″x14″ prints of the kiddos I printed on my new Canon Pro-100 series printer. I am having so much fun with that printer…but that is a story for another post!
Now before you start yelling at me about the 34 year old Basset crib I am using let me state for the record that my husband thoroughly researched the problems with old cribs and ensured they were not an issue with ours. The problems typically relate to how close the spindles are together and how well the mattress fits in the crib.
Our spindles are close enough so a little head can not get through and the new mattress fits tightly up against the sides. I also checked with both sets of parents to make sure they were ok with me using this bed. I am so happy that the crib we used for all three of our girls now holds their little ones.
I also added some new curtains and made a window seat cushion.
Check out this adorable little retro table and chairs that we pulled from the basement of my mother-in-law’s home. When I saw the gray top and the red chairs I knew it needed to be in this room!
My favorite part of the room is the new gallery wall.
It took me a lot longer to pull that together than I thought it would. I really wanted to include items that the grandkids would enjoy, like pictures of all the granddogs and our kitty cleo. Pinterest was a great source for inspiration.
I made the ABC and Twinkle Little Star posters using Photoshop Elements but I have seen both for sale on Etsy. I bought the map for $4.00 when I was at the Magnolia Market in Waco last month and I specifically wanted to mount it on something where I could use push pins for the cities where our family lives. I had not originally planned on putting up a board for holding artwork but when I walked through the garage a week or so ago I noticed some old baseboard trim Dave had stacked in the corner. I picked up a piece of it was the perfect size for the space. All we did was fill a couple of nail holes, give it a few coats of paint and add twine for hanging the pictures.
Overall, I am pretty happy with how the room turned out and I did not finish too soon because my youngest granddaughter and her mom and dad are moving in with us on memorial day weekend for a few weeks while their new house is being finished! I hope she likes it!
If you follow me on facebook then you know that on our last trip to Houston we stopped in Waco, Texas to visit the Magnolia Market, the retail establishment of Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper fame.
I had heard that on the weekends the area was very crowded and that you need to stand in line to get into the store. We planned our visit for a Thursday afternoon and although I was surprised at how many people were actually visiting during the week in the middle of the afternoon, we did not have to stand in any lines.
The store was awesome and pretty much as I expected, you could almost envision Joanna walking around with her creative eye adjusting each display until it was perfect.
Next to the actual store is a large play area complete with yard toys for children and adults to enjoy. There are several picnic tables around and even a row of permanent food trucks.
On one corner of the property is the little cottage that will soon be the Magnolia Garden Store. The raised bed plantings are very structured and vibrant causing a little green thumb envy on my part. There are even fairy gardens scattered throughout.
There are also goats to pet and a wooden teepee sitting area for children complete with children’s books. In another corner of the property is an under-construction bakery shop. Overall it is a very family friendly area.
Had the hubby not been with me I probably would have spent much more time in the store and subsequently much more money, however I did manage to pick up a few treasures. My daughter had requested a specific metal wall sign and a tee shirt for her husband.
The #shiplap shirt was especially appropriate for my son-in-law since they live in a 100 year old renovated Texas house and on their backporch is a stack of authentic shiplap waiting for a project.
For myself, I bought a candle, a US Map that you will see later in the grandkids room I am working on, plus this gorgeous bud vase. I had to go right out and pick up some flowers from our new Sprouts Market to complete the look.
This will be a good excuse to have fresh flowers all spring and summer. In case you can not make it down to Waco, Magnolia Market has an on-line store with many of the same items that were in the physical store.
The Magnolia Market was a really nice stop on our drive to Houston. We did not have much time to spare in order to check out other parts of town, but I do know that the Gaines also recently opened a bed and breakfast in Waco. What a great girl’s trip that would be!!!
I already know what the hubby and mine’s next side trip will be on our next drive to Houston, Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile Store in Oklahoma scheduled to open this fall. Good thing I have an accommodating husband!
Six weeks ago I sent a quilt top I had made to The Missouri Star Quilting Company for machine quilting services. You can read the story behind this particular quilt here. Today it came back to me and I am soooooo excited. I love how it turned out…..here is a sneak peak.
This weekend I will be making my binding and completing the quilt. It is funny but binding a quilt is one of the task of making a quilt that I really enjoy. I am not sure why, maybe because it signifies that the quilt is complete. The original vision and all the detail work are finally coming together.
Now that the quilt will soon be done I need to get into high gear and finish up the grandkids room that I have been working on including making some window treatments. There never seems to be enough hours in the day to work on all these fun projects!
I had been thinking about updating one of the bedrooms in our home where the grandkids usually stay when they come to visit. It was still decorated in high-school-girl turquoise and lavender from several years ago when I still had a high school girl living here. I had seen a set of sheets at Target that I liked and had considered buying them but just was not ready to commit to a color scheme. Then one day I walked by and saw this…..
A 40% clearance sticker! Decision made. I picked out a soft grey paint ( Essential Grey by Sherwin Williams) and had the Mr. start painting the room. I also knew I wanted to make a quilt for the room and since I had never made a star quilt before thought this might be something to try. As usual, I started with my graph paper and dimensions and came up with a design. Someday I will wise up and just use a pattern but I actually like doing it myself.
Then, just to be sure my design and dimensions would transfer appropriately to fabric, I made one of the quilt squares.
Satisfied that the design would work, I determined the size of all the pieces I would need and started cutting out the fabric. Cutting fabric is my least favorite part of making a quilt, but I love having it all done at one time.
Dave was getting ready to go out of town for a few days so I set up my sewing machine in front of the tv and each night after work I sat down to sew and literally watched 14 back episodes of Fixer Upper. My kind of fun! In this picture I had sewn all the squares and attached the inner borders to make rows.
I then sewed the rows together and attached the outer borders. I knew when I started this quilt that I was going to have it machine-quilted but at the time I was not sure where I would take it. The last time I asked the person who had machine-quilted three other quilts for me, she had a six month long waiting list. Then I remembered that the Missouri Star Quilting Company, a place I visited last year (see that post here), will do machine quilting for a very reasonable price. On their website all you do is enter the dimensions of the quilt, pick out a quilting pattern, batting and a backing fabric if needed. You can also have them bind the quilt although in this case I want to bind the quilt myself. Then you just pack the quilt up and send it to them.
I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive about sending the quilt top through the mail, however within just a couple of days I received the nicest email from Sarah at the Missouri Star Quilting Company;
Your quilt top arrived safe and sound. We have delicately hung it up and it will soon be mingling with the other wonderful quilts. The final step in the journey to becoming a masterpiece is getting closer every day! Your quilt displays wonderful craftsmanship and precision. You should be proud! Thank you for letting us be a part of this beautiful quilt! We will handle it with great care and treasure it as if it were our own!
I am sure this is probably a canned response they send to all their customers but just knowing they had received it and would be handling it with care set my mind at ease. Now I cannot wait to get it back…..they say it will take 4-6 weeks but I am sure hoping it will be sooner. In the meantime I need to make about 24 feet of binding so I will be ready when it is returned! Pictures coming soon of both the room and the finished quilt.