Saturday, April 28, 2012

Glimpses Week 17 | It's the Weekend



It's the weekend. Can I just go ahead and shout out a Woo-Hoo?  It's not that I'm celebrating the passing of time, it's that I'm celebrating the survival of time!

Here's how my week panned out.

Monday.  Before the dawn had barely broken, I was forced to face two of my irrational fears:  Running out of gas, and getting stuck in a car wash.  From the first fear, I was delivered.  My prayers to heaven were answered as I coasted into a gas station after realizing that, at some point during my shuttling of four kids to a seemingly endless number of places, my empty light had turned on.  Whoever designed a car who's only reaction to an empty tank is the illumination of a teeny tiny pinpoint of light was obviously not a mother of school aged children who rarely has time to squeeze in a pedicure, let along keep the gas tank full.  I might not have been so worried except that, guiltily, I have run out of gas before - exactly 200 yards before reaching the filling station.

My second irrational fear I was forced to face:  Getting stuck in a car wash. Don't ask me how it happened.  My only explanation is one similar to the time I turned 12.  After months of begging for a cool job that paid more than a dollar a day, my dad let me mow the lawn for the first time. He warned me, however, to always wear shoes. "You don't want your toes to get cut off by the mower!"  After hearing those words, I could never help but to feel my toes being sucked under the mower by some strange self-fulfilling force.  Long story short, my tire was on the car wash conveyer belt enough to pull me in, but not enough to pull me through the car wash.  After the cycle had finished, I was able to carefully back my soapy care out of the wash and get a new code.  Fear faced and conquered.  Enough said.

Tuesday.  I began teaching a series of five 1/2 day photography classes:  one to a Mom's group at our church, and four to a lucky handful of middle schoolers for their spring Interim class.  The week turned out to be hectic, but fun, and I was impressed with the interest and sincerity of the kids.  One of my assignments was a self-portrait, so here's mine!  It's in the mirror of Mr. Leetch, the science teachers' motorcycle.  When I downloaded all the kids' photos, I noticed lots of pictures of Mr. Leetch's bike:  self portraits, students sitting on the seat pretending to drive, students sitting on the bike giving attitude..... I swear, I did not endorse that, Mr. Leetch!   I plea ignorance!

Friday.  After a month of various ailments including a sinus infection and strep throat, I finally gave in to my downward spiral and went to the doctor yet again!  (Do you have an opening after 3:45 PM?  It's the only break in my schedule!) Apparently, after 13 years of living in Atlanta, my body finally gave in to the extreme crazy pollen counts and I walked out with a breathing treatments and two inhalers!  I guess the week of outdoor photography classes didn't help much, either. 

Saturday.  On the bright side, I'm happy to report that I am feeling much better today!

Hope you are all having a great weekend, too!  I'm linking up this slice of life to Chic Critique's Glimpses Project.





Friday, April 20, 2012

Top 10 Things Guys Don't Say Often Enough


Yesterday was my birthday and my husband, who always seems to have a way of surprising me, managed to stop at the Hallmark store with his co-worker on the way to meet me for lunch.  Before I had even made much of a dent in the guacamole which I had ordered for myself, two big guys walked through the door with cards AND gifts in hand. Now, for the record, I am not complaining that one of the gift bags happened to resemble the kind of bag that one receives for free when one purchases a gift at a Hallmark store.  I was sincerely touched by the gesture.

My husband's card was quite funny and, since many of you have husbands, I thought I would share it with you here!

From my Husband:

The TOP 10 Things I Don't Say Often Enough:

  1. I hate to miss the game, but this floor could use a good scrubbing.
  2. Why don't you buy a nice new pair of shoes to go with that outfit?
  3. Let's rent a romantic movie.  If I see one more car chase, I'm gonna hurl!
  4. Yeah, I'm pretty tired, too, so let's just cuddle.
  5. Why can't they show real-looking women in those lingerie catalogs?
  6. My thumb's getting tired.  Would you mind holding the remote for a while?
  7. I'm not sure we've seen enough of your family lately.
  8. You got enough pillows over there?
  9. Sure, I'll be glad to hold your purse while we're standing next to this construction site.
  10. And the number one thing I don't say often enough.....I'll love you forever!

I especially enjoyed the comments about visiting my family more and handing over the pillows, as I've been known to yank a pillow out from under him while he was sleeping.  I just figure that excessive pillow usage is my prerogative having given birth to four children.

Wishing you all a Happy Friday!

xo,

Rachel

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Birthday Cake in a Jar


I'm not always good at remembering people's birthdays - unless they share a birthday with me!

My friend, Tina,  shares my birthDAY(today!), but not my birthYEAR. My friend, Tina, has probably never even heard of the song "Muskrat Love" and I'm pretty sure she never called into a radio station and won movie tickets to the original screening of "Grease". While I went to High school during the Big Hair era, my friend Tina was just getting the training wheels off of her first bike. It's amazing that we can still be friends.  But we are friends because Tina herself is amazing. One is instantly drawn to her charismatic personality and her sweet southern Alabamian drawl. Her self deprecating humor keeps us in stitches as she manages to reign in a slew of Type A moms during a PTF meeting or direct our focus to a higher calling during our weekly Bible Study.


To show my appreciation of this busy mom of three boys, I made her these portable "Birthday Cakes in a Jar". The concept isn't new, but they are so cute, I thought it was worth repeating! A standard sized cupcake fits perfectly into these 1/2 pint canning jars. And the best part? By layering the cake, you get double the yummy homemade cream cheese frosting!


Now my friend, Tina, can have her Birthday Cake and eat it, too!  
 (In her jumbo SUV between carpool and baseball!)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FRIEND!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

When Procrastination Pays Off.....



When procrastination pays off, it doesn't incite me to change.  Case in point - The Post Office.  On a normal day, our local busy suburban post office boasts a line of 7 or 8 people deep at any given time.  So on April 17th at 1PM,  when I was finally ready to mail my taxes, I allowed a good hour for the errand.  Everyone knows most people procrastinate when it comes to their taxes.  It's a job that no human being really enjoys doing.  I mean, who really wants to read through pages and pages of documents putting numbers into tiny squares?  And even if your accountant does it for you, who really enjoys giving their money to the government?  Things we enjoy, we do right away.  Things we don't enjoy, we procrastinate.

So imagine my surprise when I arrived at the Post Office on April 17th, camp chair in hand, only to find a mere ONE PERSON in line ahead of me!  Was I in the right place?  Had I somehow experienced time travel only to miss the deadline?  I asked the clerk behind the counter why he thought the Post Office was so empty and he explained to me that everyone had shown up the previous day.

I suddenly understood.  It was a rookie mistake.  I mean a common procrastinator might assume that taxes, which are normally due on the 15th, would be due on Monday the 16th when the 15th falls on a Sunday.  But thanks to Abraham Lincoln, Washington D.C. now celebrates Emancipation Day on April 16th.  It was April 16, 1862 that Abraham Lincoln, who was the president of the United States at the time, signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, which freed more than 3000 slaves in the District of Columbia.   This is the reason that if the 15th falls on a Sunday, we now have a generous TWO extra days to complete the task!  A professional procrastinator understands that.  And if it means shorter lines at the Post Office, it's a habit I probably won't be changing soon!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chocolate-Spice Cupcakes



These beautiful upside-down cakes were the latest baking assignment for the Martha Stewart Cupcakes Club!  What I've really come to love about this baking club is learning a variety of techniques in palatable, cupcake-sized bites!


No cupcake liners are used in this recipe, just a greasing of butter and a dusting of cocoa powder "flour".  Now when the directions say butter, do not try to take a shortcut and spray the tins with cooking spray.  Once you dust the tins with cocoa powder, you will end up with a gooey, chocolate-y mess.  Trust me on this one.  Properly prepared tins should look like the one above.


This chocolate spice cake calls for molasses.  After reading a couple of online reviews, I reduced the amount of molasses to 1/3 cup and increased the brown sugar to 1 cup.  I also added vanilla, because vanilla just makes everything taste better!  Before adding the molasses to the batter, I added combined it with the hot water/baking soda mixture.  It makes it easier to stir.


Here's the batter before baking....


..... and after.
It doesn't get much of a dome which makes it perfect for inverting on a platter.


I had a little bit of trouble with the ganache.  Apparently you can't substitute 2% milk for heavy cream.  Go figure.  

Not to worry.  I now have some really thick and creamy chocolate milk to add to my coffee in the morning!  My final ganache recipe looked something like this:  4 ounces of chocolate chips, 2 tablespoon of vegetable shortening and 1 tablespoon of corn syrup.  I had no heavy cream.  It was a little thicker than the glossy elixir pictured in the cookbook, but 5 out of 6 family members claimed it was divine.  


The sixth family member doesn't like cinnamon. Or raisins. Or peanut butter. Or pumpkin pie.  I would claim she was adopted, except that I was there and she made me VERY, VERY sick!  All that being said, it made holding her in my arms all the sweeter.

Here's my version of of Martha's Chocolate-Spice Cupcakes.  To bake with us, look for next month's cupcake selection HERE!  Thanks to Julie at Little Bit of Everything for this month's selection!  Check out her blog for some amazing ganache!


Chocolate-Spice Cupcakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

5 tablespoons butter, room temperature, plus more for tins
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, plus more for tins
1 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup boiling water
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Brush a standard muffin tin with butter; just with cocoa powder, tapping out excess.  
  2. Stir baking soda into the boiling water.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  4. With an electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.
  5. Add molasses to the water mixture and stir into the butter/sugar mixture, beating until combined.  
  6. Add the flour mixture and beat until well-combined.
  7. Divide batter evenly among prepared cupcake tins and bake for about 14 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean, rotating half-way.
  8. Cool for 15 minutes and invert onto a rack and let cool completely.
  9. To finish, place inverted cupcakes on a wire rack and spoon glaze over cupcakes.
  10. If you can find it, garnish with candied ginger before serving.

THIS POST MAY BE LINKED TO: MONDAYSMOUTHWATERING MONDAYSMADE BY YOU MONDAY,MINGLE MONDAY , HOME SAVVY A TO ZBEDAZZLE ME MONDAYFLOUR ME WITH LOVEMANIC MONDAY, OUR DELIGHTFUL HOME TUESDAYSTALENT SHOW TUESDAYSMUSHKI LOVES MY STUFF TUESDAYS AND THE TABLE, TEMPT MY TUMMY TUESDAY,TWO MAIDS A BAKING, TIP JUNKIE ,GET YOUR CRAFT ON, CRAZY SWEET TUESDAYS!  TEA PARTY TUESDAY  MANDY'S RECIPE BOX WEDNESDAYSSHOW AND TELLWORKS FOR ME WEDNESDAYTHIS CHICK COOKS, GINGER SNAP CRAFTS,  THURSDAYS IT’S A KEEPER THURSDAYSSTRUT YOUR STUFFFULL PLATE THURSDAYS , CHIC & CRAFTY PARTY, THRIFTY THURSDAYSSOMETHING SWANKY  FRIDAYS: I’M LOVING IT, FOODIE FRIDAYGROCERY CART CHALLENGEFOOD ON FRIDAYSFRIDAY POT LUCK, TATERTOTS AND JELLO,  SWEET TOOTH FRIDAY SHINE ON FRIDAYSFRIDAY FAVORITES,  FUSION FRIDAYS FRIDAY FOOD , BACON TIME , KITCHEN FUN WITH MY THREE SONS, AROUND MY FAMILY TABLE  SATURDAYS:SWEETS FOR A SATURDAY SIX SISTERS STUFFCRUMBS AND CHAOS SUNDAYS: NIFTY THRIFTY SUNDAYAWELL SEASONED LIFEA ROSIE SWEET HOME


Monday, April 9, 2012

Deviled Ham and Eggs



We never really ate deviled eggs when I was growing up.  This could have been in part because my one grandma passed down a freaky high cholesterol gene to almost everyone in her path.  Eggs were evil.  They were only used for the occasional baking project and the annual Easter egg dyeing.  My other grandma had a phobia of anything containing mayonnaise - especially if it involved a picnic or potluck.  Where mayonnaise resided, salmonella surely lurked.  I know.  It's a miracle I turned out at all.


Down South, deviled eggs are brought to every occasion - Birthdays .... Thanksgiving ..... Halloween ..... Bunco...... Seriously.  They're a staple.


I love this version because they're colorful and look fancy enough to serve to guests no matter where you live!  And new research shows that an occasional egg is not going to kill you.  It may actually be good for your heart!



Deviled Ham and Eggs
By Rachel @ Simple Girl

6 large eggs, hard boiled and peeled
3 Tablespoons Light Miracle Whip (or Mayonnaise, if you prefer!)
1 Tablespoon sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/4 cup finely diced ham (1/8 inch cubed)
Green onion for garnish
Barbeque sauce for drizzling

DIRECTIONS:  
Halve 6 eggs lengthwise.  Remove yolks and place in a small bowl.  Mash yolks with a fork and stir in mayonnaise, pick relish and mustard.  Add in 3 tablespoons of the diced ham.  Put mixture into a quart sized bag and snip the corner 1/2 inch.  Squeeze about 1 tablespoon of mixture into each of the egg white halves.  Garnish with remaining 1 tablespoon of diced ham and snippets of green onion.  Pour 2 Tablespoons of barbeque sauce into a a quart bag.  Make a tiny snip in the corner (about 1/8 inch) and drizzle the barbeque sauce on top of the eggs.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

THIS POST MAY BE LINKED TO: MONDAYSMOUTHWATERING MONDAYSMADE BY YOU MONDAY,MINGLE MONDAY , HOME SAVVY A TO ZBEDAZZLE ME MONDAYFLOUR ME WITH LOVEMANIC MONDAY TUESDAYSTALENT SHOW TUESDAYSMUSHKI LOVES MY STUFF TUESDAYS AND THE TABLE, TEMPT MY TUMMY TUESDAY,TWO MAIDS A BAKING, TIP JUNKIE ,GET YOUR CRAFT ON, CRAZY SWEET TUESDAYS!  TEA PARTY TUESDAY  MANDY'S RECIPE BOX WEDNESDAYSSHOW AND TELLWORKS FOR ME WEDNESDAYTHIS CHICK COOKS, GINGER SNAP CRAFTS,  THURSDAYS IT’S A KEEPER THURSDAYSSTRUT YOUR STUFFFULL PLATE THURSDAYS , CHIC & CRAFTY PARTY, THRIFTY THURSDAYSSOMETHING SWANKY  FRIDAYS: I’M LOVING IT, FOODIE FRIDAYGROCERY CART CHALLENGEFOOD ON FRIDAYSFRIDAY POT LUCK, TATERTOTS AND JELLO,  SWEET TOOTH FRIDAY SHINE ON FRIDAYSFRIDAY FAVORITES,  FUSION FRIDAYS FRIDAY FOOD , BACON TIME , KITCHEN FUN WITH MY THREE SONS, AROUND MY FAMILY TABLE  SATURDAYS:SWEETS FOR A SATURDAY SIX SISTERS STUFFCRUMBS AND CHAOS SUNDAYS: NIFTY THRIFTY SUNDAYAWELL SEASONED LIFE, A ROSIE SWEET HOME


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Glimpses Week 14 | Our Week at the Beach


10 Significant or Insignificant Things that Happened 
While We Were at the Beach this Week:


  1. Caught up in the river of cars that flows out of Atlanta on I-75 during spring break, it took us three hours to drive our first 55 miles.
  2. When we pulled into the parking lot of grandma and grandpa's beachfront condo and smelled the salty surf, we immediately forgot about our 12 hour commute.
  3. Melancholy set in when I realized that this was the first year I hadn't packed matching outfits for the three girls.  They packed their own suitcases!
  4. Catching geckos and chameleons occupied all the trips to and from the pool and beach.
  5. I said no to my baby riding a WaveRunner in the ocean.
  6. My husband took her anyway. She liked it.  The dolphins followed in their wake!
  7. Samuel passed his boating license this year and got to rent his own WaveRunner.  He smiled liked the Cheshire cat and I was sure I would never see him again.
  8. We waited in line for 45 minutes at The Royal Scoop for ice cream and nobody complained.  Nobody, that is, except my husband.  It cost $28.
  9. On the trip home, we stopped at Pizza Hut in Valdosta.  They were out of large pizzas.  And pepperoni.
  10. Our friend Mary, who has been in hospice for the past two weeks, decided she is not going to die right now and is back to negotiating real estate transactions.  We think it's an answer to prayers.
Check out more Glimpses of life this week at Chic Critique!