Sunday, September 29, 2013

"Hashtag" {Sunday Fun Day}

This video has been all over my Facebook newsfeed this week, and I just can't help but share it here.  This cracks me up!  I don't have a Twitter, so I didn't even understand what a hashtag was until we had a discussion on it in my classes last year.  But, now that I know what they are, they do seem a little ridiculous sometimes.

The funny part is that Thomas and I have started saying stupid things like this in our conversations now, just for a laugh.  Oh, we're ridiculous!

Here you go!

"lolololololololol"  Ha!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Apple Pie Cookies

 Alright!  Here's what I decided to make with a few of the apples I've got.  (I still have plenty more, though, so I'm sure there'll be another apple recipe in the near future.)  These cookies are amazing!  They literally taste like apple pie and they're so moist and gooey and full of spices!  Yum!
Apple Pie Cookies
Slightly adapted from The Naptime Chef
Makes about 4 dozen

1/2 cup shortening
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon (I always use a heaping teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped apple
*Original recipe also called for 1 cup walnuts, but I don't like nuts in my cookies, so I omit them.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Using a mixer, combine the shortening and brown sugar.  Add in the milk and egg, and mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt.
  4. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients using the mixer.
  5. Stir in the chopped apple by hand.
  6. Drop tablespoon-sized cookies onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart.  *Optional: Flatten cookies slightly using your fingers or a spoon.  This creates a flatter cookie, obviously.  The cookies in my pictures were flattened like this.
  7.  Bake about 12 minutes or until cookies are slightly browning.  They will soften up immensely when cooled, so don't worry if they look a little too brown right out of the oven.
  8. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
  9. I would suggest storing these in the fridge unless you're going to eat them within a day or two.

On a different note, I have an insanely large to-do list going.  I won't bother with reciting the entire thing because it would take too long, but I will say that I am determined to get my newest scarf finished this weekend!  There!  Now it's published, so it must become so!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cake without a box... You can do that?! {Wednesday Wins}

So, let me preface this post with the fact that my mother is extremely talented in the kitchen!  She is amazing, and any talent I have in that area comes straight from her!  But, when I was a kid, being naive and not paying a lot of attention, I didn't really know that you could make cake or brownies without a box.  When I reached teenage years, Mom started branching out a little more.  Probably because we were old enough that she could usually get us to try something new before we were set on the fact that we hated it.  Not that I could ever hate dessert!  But, she makes so many things from scratch that I think cake just wasn't usually one of them.  I mean, why bother when cakes from mixes are delicious?!

However, I really wanted to make some cupcakes last week and didn't want to drive all the way to the store to buy a cake mix (Geez, it's like TEN WHOLE minutes!).  So, I hopped on trusty Pinterest for like hours and found a recipe for yellow cake from scratch.  I actually found quite a few recipes, but I narrowed them down by things I had in my kitchen (What was the point of going to the store to get something weird when I could just buy a cake mix while I'm there!) and by the reviews the recipes had received.

I finally found one that looked promising and headed to the kitchen!  I also kept in mind that these particular cupcakes were destined to be Boston Cream cupcakes, so even if the actual cake part wasn't stellar, they would still be stuffed with pudding and topped with chocolate icing.  So it wouldn't be a complete waste!

Man-oh-man!  I had no idea that the cupcakes were going to turn out that well!  Thomas and I honestly couldn't tell that they weren't from a box.  They were so light and fluffy and moist and tasty!  Yum!  And then I still added the pudding and icing, and woo-wee those things were good!  So, here's the recipe for the yellow cake!
Yellow Cake or Cupcakes
From: Scratchy Mama
Makes 24 cupcakes or two 9 inch round cakes

1 cup margarine or butter
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans or line two cupcake pans (about 24 cupcakes) with paper liners.  
  2. In a mixing bowl cream butter and sugar together using a mixer. Beat until fluffy, several minutes. 
  3. Add eggs, beating after each addition.  
  4. In a separate bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder and salt. 
  5. In a measuring cup, mix the milk and vanilla. 
  6. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix well. 
  7. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes for 9" cakes and about 18-20 minutes for cupcakes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 8-10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool completely on a rack.
And now you have some delicious dessert!  But if you want to continue on to make Boston Cream Cupcakes, here's how.  Special note: I made the pudding and cupcakes the day before putting them all together so that the cupcakes would be fully cooled and the pudding would be set, but you could definitely do it all in one day.

Make vanilla pudding according to the package directions.  I used a small box (one that makes 2 cups) and used almost all of it.  Then, put it in the fridge to firm up.

Using a knife, cut a cone out of each cupcake.  I found that a serrated knife worked really well.  Once you have the separated cone, cut the tip of it off.  This gives you room for the filling while still being able to put the top back on.  So, you will have all of these little cones of cake that you don't need.  Oh, darn!  I guess you'll just have to eat them!
The cupcakes at the top have had the cones cut out and then the tip of the cone cut off.  The bottom ones are already filled with the tops put back on.
Now it's time to fill the cupcakes with the pudding.  I spooned the pudding into a baggie and then cut a big hole in one corner to "pipe" the pudding in.  I thought this might be a little less messy than trying to spoon it in.  The difficult part here is to make sure that you don't fill the cupcake too much.  You don't want pudding oozing out when you try to put the top back on. 
Here are the cupcakes after the pudding was piped in.
Once you've got them filled with pudding, put the tops back on and ice with your choice of icing!  I used a ganache-like icing that I thickened up because I didn't want to icing pouring all over and making a mess.  In hindsight, I probably should have just gone with the thinner version because, since you should really store these in the fridge because of the pudding, the icing firmed up too much when it was cold.

Here's the recipe I used without the extra powdered sugar I used for thickness.  I really like the flavor of it!

Chocolate (Ganache-Like) Icing
 From Hidden Ponies

2 ounces chocolate or 1/3 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons HOT water

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave.  Heat for 15 second intervals, stirring in between.
  2. Stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla.  The mixture will be very thick, like a dough.
  3. Stir in the hot water, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.  Remember that it will thicken up a bit as it cools.
And there you have some yummy, yummy cupcakes made (almost) from scratch!

Now, I'm off to spend the afternoon in the kitchen baking some homemade bread and some apple pie cookies!  Yum yum!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It's becoming fall: time for Apple Pie!

Those of you who know me probably know that I hate all things pumpkin.  So, even though I love Pinterest, it is not my best friend lately.  With fall comes the inundation of everything pumpkin flavored and scented.  YUCK!

I know.  Pumpkin and fall go together for so many people.  But definitely not me.  I tend towards the apple side when fall comes around.  For Thanksgiving, my mom always made pumpkin pie for everyone and apple pie for me.  (Thanks Mom!)

So since fall is approaching (though not in weather terms here in hot, humid Florida), I picked up a large bag of apples for dirt cheap the other day.  I keep having ideas of what to do with them.  I think, "Ooh... I should make apple pie.  Yum!  But wait, if I make apple pie that will use most of the apples and then I won't have them to make that apple fritter bread I've been wanting to try.  But then, if I bake with them, I won't have them to eat fresh everyday..."  Yes.  This is seriously what goes on in my mind.  I'm insane.  I mean, it's not like this is the last bag of apples on earth!  If I use them all, I could just but more!  What logic!
Well, anyway.  I love apple pie and all related things, so for breakfast on Sunday, I popped into the kitchen to make a new recipe, fresh off of Pinterest:  Apple Pie Muffins!  So you can eat apple pie for breakfast without actually feeling guilty about eating pie for breakfast!  These were absolutely delicious!  Thomas loved them, though he didn't say so in so many words.  It was more like, "Mmmm.  Mmmm.  Mmhmmm!"  Lol.  All I have to say is: YUM!
Apple Pie Muffins
Very slightly adapted from: Recipe by Photos
Makes 9 overflowing, regular sized muffins

Crumble Topping:
2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup buttermilk (*See below for substitute)
1/3 cup liquid oil
1/2 egg, slightly beaten
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
sprinkle of nutmeg
1 cup peeled and diced apple (I used Gala)

Prepare topping: In a small bowl, mix the butter, flour, sugar, and cinnamon together with a fork until crumbly.  Set aside.

For the Muffins:
  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 9 cups in a muffin tin with paper liners.  (These muffins will overflow a bit, so you can always make more muffins if you want them to be smaller.)
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the oil, egg, vanilla, and sugar until blended.
  3. In a larger bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg).
  4. Stir about half of the oil mixture into the flour mixture.  Then pour in half of the buttermilk, and stir.  Continue alternating until everything is combined.  Don't over mix.
  5. Peel and chop your apple, then add to the batter.  Stir until just combined.
  6. Using a scoop or measuring cup, pour batter into prepared muffin tin.  Sprinkle crumble topping on each muffin.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Enjoy!!!  They are delicious when split open and spread with butter!
*Note: If you don't have buttermilk on hand, just mix together 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 tablespoon vinegar, and let it sit for a few minutes while you stir up the other parts of the batter.

Yummy!  I just love all things apple pie!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Oh Food, I Love You {Wednesday Wins}

So I've just spent the last hour on Pinterest and blogs looking up slow cooker recipes.  And now, my brain is starving!  Notice that I say "my brain" because my stomach is still perfectly satisfied with the lunch I ate a while ago.  But my brain, oh no, it wants to eat.  Bad.

Anyway, the reason I've been looking up slow cooker recipes is comprised of several parts:
  1. Several days a week, I have band practice from 4-6:30 in the afternoon.  So that means that I don't get home until after 7pm.  Which means that there is absolutely no time for me to cook dinner when I get home.  (I am generally a pretty early dinner-eater, thus even eating at 7 is pushing it for me.)  So, I need a meal to be mostly ready to eat when I get home.
  2. With Thomas' job, he usually doesn't take leftovers for lunch anymore because he's not in an office to be able to warm them up.  Which leaves me to eat all the leftovers... and we all know how much I *love* leftovers.  (Please catch the sarcasm!!!)  So, we can't have meals that make too many leftovers or I might as well go ahead and throw it right from the cooking pot into the trash.  Which brings me to:
  3. I just got a new slow cooker!!!!  The problem with cooking for two people in a slow cooker is that they are usually made for large meals.  3-5 pounds of meat, several pounds of potatoes, etc.  And if you cook less than that in a normal-sized crock pot, it will turn out miserably since they're made to be filled a certain way.  So, without further ado, here is my new baby!
It's a 3.5 quart Cuisinart slow cooker.  So, it's the perfect size for fixing meals for two with just a few leftovers.  And the feature that I am ecstatic about is the timer.  It allows me to set the amount of time I want the meal to cook for, and then when the time's up, it automatically switches over to the "Warm" setting until I turn it off!  Woohoo!  So, if I don't get home right on time to turn the heat down, it will do it for me!  (Hey, it's the little things in life, right?!)

I just used it for the first time last night, and it worked like a charm.  So now I can't wait to keep trying out all those easy slow cooker meals I've seen on Pinterest!

That's my wonderful little win for today!  Happy Hump Day!

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Well... it has been an interesting week around here.  I feel like I've been pretty busy, but then I think about the fact that I don't even have a job, so it can't have been that busy!

So now it's Saturday, and I'm hanging out all by my lonesome again.  I'm having an interesting morning though!  I'm finishing up my Sunday school lesson for tomorrow morning, and when reading through a specific part of the lesson, they talked about George Mueller and the orphanages he started and maintained through faith alone.  And the trip down memory lane begins...

When we were younger, vacations consisted of long car rides to our destination.  And one of my brother's and my ways to pass the time was with "Adventures in Odyssey".  An audio series made by Focus on the Family that chronicles the lives of several characters.  The 30ish minute episodes always have a Biblical lesson embedded in them.  We had multiple seasons of "Adventures in Odyssey" on tape (yes, I said tape) and on CD for the car.  I can remember so many times of driving through the countryside with my headphones on, listening to the episodes.

And today, while reading the illustration about George Mueller, I remembered a specific episode that talked about him and his faith.  Of course, I had to get on the website and find the episode, etc.  And oh my, what a walk down memory lane, looking through the series and episodes that I've listened to many, many times.  I was literally laughing out loud with memories.  Oh, wow!

Sorry... this reminiscing is probably pretty boring for everyone except me.  Oh well.

One of my other tasks today is to figure out and bake a snack for Bible study tomorrow night.  So I guess that a portion of my day will be spent on Pinterest!  What's new?!  Lol.

One other thing that makes me laugh out loud and warms my heart... this girl right here!  I love my silly kitty cat!  Here, she is featured in one of her favorite napping spots: Thomas' sock drawer!  Lol.
 And here she is, cuddling with her momma a few days ago!  Aww!  She just melts my heart!
Happy weekend!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Cinnamon Sugar Puppy Chow

Ok... So I've been a little busy this week.  However, here is the manna-from-heaven puppy chow recipe that I promised you!  Now, I know that one of the things that makes puppy chow so good is chocolate.  And boy, do I love chocolate!  But, this recipe doesn't have any chocolate in it.  It's got something that's just as good... cinnamon!  Yum!

So if you like cinnamon at all, there's a really good chance you'll like this version of an old classic.  I've also adapted all of my recent puppy chow recipes to where they don't make ninety millions cups of puppy chow.  So here's the recipe for a smaller portion.
Cinnamon Sugar Puppy Chow
Very Slightly Adapted from Fabtastic Eats
Makes about 1 cup

1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup cinnamon chips (The ones I've bought are Hershey's brand.  You find them in the baking aisle with the chocolate chips.)
1 cup Chex cereal
2+ tablespoons powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Melt the cinnamon chips and butter in the microwave.  I recommend 15 second intervals, stirring in between.  The cinnamon chips take a little vigorous stirring to lose their form.  Allow mixture to cool for a few minutes.
  2. Combine your cinnamon, sugar, and powdered sugar in a quart sized bag.  Shake them up a bit to combine.
  3. Stir the Chex into the melted cinnamon chip mixture until they are pretty evenly coated.
  4. Add the Chex to the quart-sized bag and shake well.  You can always add more powdered sugar if you like your puppy chow really sweet, as I do.
  5. Enjoy!
Oh, yum!  I really want to go make some more, but I've got to eat dinner instead before heading off to the high school football game tonight.  There's nothing quite as weird as eating dinner at 3:30 in the afternoon!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Over-Active Imagination

{Cue Worriers Anonymous Meeting}

Hi.  I'm Rachel.  (Now you say, "Hi Rachel".)  And I'm a worrier.  I've been struggling with worry since I was born.  And even though, sometimes I have tried to deny it, I am facing my addiction. 

Ok.  So, apparently, in addition to being a worrier, I'm also crazy.  Let's jump right in!

Back-story:  I have always had a pretty active imagination.  Some might go as far as to say that it could be categorized as "over-active".  *cough* Thomas! *cough*  And I would not disagree with him.  Thomas knows more about this part of me than anyone else.  Oh that you could be a fly on the wall as I recount the previous night's extremely weird and vivid dreams to him over the breakfast table.  It's pretty weird.  And if he were sitting right next to me, he would be rolling his eyes and saying something to the effect of, "Pretty weird?!  Now that's an understatement!"

My "over-active" imagination can be hilarious and fun sometimes.  But it can also be a big, ginormous pain in the butt.  It doesn't just extend to silly, fun things.  Oh no!  My imagination has a dark side too.  It wonderfully allows me to imagine every single bad thing that could ever possibly happen in life.  And it even sometimes delves into the magical world of things that couldn't possibly occur.  And it never stops.

I am a compulsive worrier.  And a lot of times, I've told myself that that's just how I am.  I can't help it.  But that's not true.

"So do not worry, saying, 'what shall we eat?' or 'what shall we drink?' or 'what shall we wear?'  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father know that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Matthew 6:31-34 (New International Version)

Jesus tells us not to worry.  God did not make me a worrier.  Sin makes me a worrier.  God does not want my imagination to run completely free and wild so that it wastes precious time and causes unnecessary stress.  God wants to free me from the burden of worry.  I am the one who is holding me back.  

I have seen God's hand move mightily in my life recently.  And my worrying did not cause one bit of it to come to pass.  All it does is waste time and energy.  And though worrying is a hard trench to climb out of, daily, I will remind myself that my God is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  HE has the final say in everything.  My worrying just shows my lack of faith in an ever-faithful God.

So, Hi.  My name is Rachel.  And I'm giving up my addiction to worry.

Now, I'm off to go make puppy chow.  And I absolutely must share the recipe with you tomorrow, because it is divine!  I literally think this recipe must have fallen straight from heaven!  Hehe!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Oh dear blog {Lundi Little Lovelies}

Well.... once again I quickly fell into the habit of not blogging.  Lately it seems that I haven't blogged because I think about what I would say and then think well no one would want to read about that.  But that's the kicker.  This blog is not 100% for your benefit.  Mostly, it's for me.  Uber girl confession coming up:  I just really love journals.  Seriously.  I've been writing non-stop since I learned how.  I love to write; it calms me, helps me see more clearly, gives me a safe vent for frustration, shows me my true self.  And quite literally, I have a box in the closet right behind me that has at least six fully-filled prayer journals that start the night I became a Christian 11 years ago.  (My husband can attest to this... they have made several moves with us through the years.  And they're not incredibly light either!)  Sometimes more than writing them, I enjoy looking back and re-reading them weeks, months, and years later.  They show me all of the things God has brought me through and the amazing blessings I've been given along the way.  

So really, this blog is just a more public forum for me to record my life in.  I still keep my personal journals for things that are just between me and God, but I do enjoy the fact that the blog can help me keep in touch with my family who are 1100 miles away.  But more than that, the blog is a way for me to document what's going on in my life so I can look back on it later and see how amazing my God is!

So, strap in (if you're still reading)...  you may not care about the Little Lovelies I'm sharing today, but I've newly reminded myself that I don't care about how many pageviews I get.  I want to document these things so I can remember them in the years to come!

  • Thomas and I had the opportunity to go to Universal Studios for the first time on Friday night with the youth group for Rock the Universe.  (I know, right?!  I've never been to any of the attractions in Orlando and I've lived here for over two years now...)  It was a fun time, even though it rained constantly.  Thomas and I absolutely LOVE amusement parks, so we were stoked to go!  I was a little underwhelmed with the amount of rides they had.  Literally 10.  Total.  And a regular 1-day, 1-park pass is $92!  Personally, I'm really glad we haven't gone for that price.  I mean, I'm used to Six Flags St. Louis where tickets are more like $40 and there are dozens of rides.  Overall, I had a really good time, and the concerts were great.  But I'm glad we haven't previously paid a bunch of money to go since I wouldn't have felt like it was worth that much.
  • Last week, I joined a women's Bible study at church, and I'm so glad I worked up the courage to go!  Since I'm such a scaredy cat about everything, I almost turned the car around about 8 times on the way there.  But I succeeded in driving to church, getting out of the car, walking into the building, and sitting down in the Bible study.  (That's really hard for me when I don't know anyone.  I'm really shy before I get to know people.)  I'm so glad I went though, and I know God has great things planned for me and this group of women through the course of the study!
  • Yesterday, Thomas had the honor of being ordained as a deacon at our church.  Wow!  This has been an interesting time for me, mainly because I've always thought of deacons as old men.  But I'm really excited and honored that Thomas (and I) get to serve in this way.  We really love our church, and it has been so amazing to finally find a place where we feel like we belong.  So, I am very interested to find out more personally what serving as a deacon's wife looks like!
  • On a less serious note: Tonight we're having round steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, and all the fixins for dinner (a wonderful recipe of my mom's), and I am excited!  I found the steak on sale last week, and I've been dying to have this meal ever since.  Ooh, it's soooo yummy!
  • Oh, and we have volleyball tonight!  Woohoo!
In other news, I have a cookie recipe I want to share, but I haven't gotten a chance to take any photos the last couple of times I've made them because I forget, and then they're all gone.  Oh well!