happy birthday

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Today is my amazing hubby's birthday.  He's 32.

I did what any good wife would...allowed him to plan his day and went along with it.  So we headed to the club to hit golf balls in the golf simulator, went to lunch, picked up all sorts of sugary candy at the store and headed home for some movie time.

I feel so lucky to be married so such a great man. Not only does he encourage me daily and boost my self esteem, but he often tells me I'm gorgeous, he still loves to hold my hand and be goofy with me, and most of all he makes me a better person, daily.  Minute by minute, I'm being sanctified through my marriage and he makes sanctification not so difficult, most of the time!

So here's to my amazing, gorgeous, fun loving, tender hearted, strong and solid, jesus loving, faithful, selfless, leader of a husband.

Happy Birthday Baby!

you're the best blessing I have.

For Sale

Monday, January 17, 2011

Here's the long awaited list of things for sale:

Nathan Waist pack

Kelty Bag

wool jute rug, pottery barn

pottery barn matine toile in sprout green headboard slipcover and bedskirt twin
view of twin bed with slipcover

wicker chest
queen pottery barn plaid comforter cover and 2 shams

chocolate brown Target Home queen quilt and 2 shams

Hurricanes from Target

TV mount

Huge cooler

wicker chest
pic of the jute rug and selling the entertainment center

bedding on king bed (dust ruffle, blanket, gray quilted blanket/shams)

sailing pics

green subway tile

pictures above the couch

drill set


vhs player

wet suit

also a target dresser in the same coloring as the entertainment center above (in really good condition)

if anything catches your eye just let me know:)

Happy Birthday to this guy...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

He turned 9 yesterday...wish I were there.
happy birthday to a sweet, funny and stellar young kid.
Liam, you're my favorite 9 year old.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

You may remember that I christened my 30th year with a list of 30 things I wanted to accomplish.  I've been making a bit of progress on the list (head here to see) and I'm very excited to announce that #14 has been crossed off the list.

What's #14?  Well, it was to start a new blog.  Many reasons behind this.  Although I advertise my blog via facebook (amongst "friends") I've never really felt comfortable commenting on many of the blogs out there, though I *REALLY* want too. Something about keeping some of our private life well a little more private. 

So I've been dreaming of a new blog.  A place to not only share parts of our life, but things on biblical womanhood, DIY projects, food, and my favorite things.  I've tried food blogging and I've tried the personal route.  The food blog (Blissful Bounty) I will not be posting on anymore.  I'm not sure I will delete it until I can archive it somehow, but as far as this blog.  This one I will continue to update, although maybe just 1x/week or even less than that.  My goal is 2x/month and it will mainly be life things, pictures of family, etc.  So please continue to follow along, I love having you here:)

But because I would love to expand my blog to be comfortable with many more people reading it, I chose to start a new one!

Here she is.  Please visit:)

Caps for Sale

Monday, January 10, 2011

Eerrgh.  I *WISH* we had caps for sale.  That seems easier!  Instead we have half of a storage unit up for grabs.

Others may think we are a little hasty or spontaneous about purging our goods, but we happen to think we are just less attached and by the way, purging feels really good.  No not that kind of purging, the *getting rid of excess stuff kind of purging!

We’ve been thinking over our future lately, how long we will rent, when we will purchase our next home, and the absurd amount of money we pay to keep our things locked up across the highway.  It’s actually not that absurd, but still if we can save a little by downsizing our unit, then it’s cash in hand.

So this past weekend we put our thoughts into action.  Only problem we didn’t have a plan in place.  We just sauntered over to our unit, gasped in horror as to how much was actually in there, took almost everything out and then stared at each other.  Um…we need a plan.

We had furniture and goods for Goodwill, we had boxes to sort through, and plenty of tools to open a small hardware store.  So we rented a truck right there on the spot and got to moving.  Oh, and it felt so good to rid ourselves of so much stuff.

Our plan by the way was focused around the future.  We don’t know where we will end up but we are certain, in our frugal minds, that we will end up in a smaller starter home sometime in the next 5 years.  At the end of the day, we’d rather save and save until we can BUILD the house we really want.  That or renovate the perfect house.  Whichever one comes first.  To be honest, we're just really waiting until we can attain a mortgage for the same amount we are spending on rent and we spend peanuts on rent.  We'd also like to have money to run the company and invest in rental property.  We could be in a house now, but wouldn't as easily be able to BOTH of the other things.   Right now, we want the other things more, that and Alex has a view on when the housing market will hit bottom and his estimation is not for awhile.

So back to the caps or in our case stuff.  I’ll post a list later today with all the items and their cost before everything goes on craigslist in case anyone is interested.

One valuable lesson we learned, it doesn’t take a lot to make us happy and content and for that we are eternally grateful.

Ham & Cheese Pretzel Bites

Thursday, January 6, 2011


OH my!  These are so yummy.

This year for Christmas day we did something a little different.  We had an appetizer party, meaning everyone brought appetizers and then we just ate all afternoon.  My kind of party!

In the past I have made pretzel rolls, which are amazing as well, because Alex loves soft baked pretzels.  In fact, our freezer is rarely without Soft Pretzels…the ones in the freezer section of the grocery, Superpretzel brand.  So this year I decided to try these, not only because we had everything to make them but also because I was sure they would be a hit.  In the end I filled about 2/3 with ham and cheese and then left the other 1/3 filling free.

Again they were delicious and what’s even better it was probably one of the easiest bread dough’s to work with.  And the biggest bonus, all 3 kids gobbled them up!

Ham & Cheese Pretzel Bites                          
(yields at least 48)
For the dough:
1½ tsp. instant yeast
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
¼ cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
2½-3 cups all-purpose flour
For the filling:
½ cup small diced ham
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

To finish:
6 cups water
4 tsp. baking soda
Kosher salt (or pretzel salt), for topping

To make the dough, combine the yeast, brown sugar, water, milk, and 2½ cups of flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix until a dough has formed.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until a soft, elastic dough forms.  Add the remaining flour a 1-2 tablespoons at a time until the dough is tacky but not sticky.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, until the dough has doubled in size and bubbles on the surface, about 1½ to 2 hours.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide into 4 equal pieces.  Stretch or roll one piece of the dough into a 12 x 4-inch rectangle.  Sprinkle some of the diced ham and the shredded cheese over one third of the dough closest to an edge, lengthwise.  Roll up tightly, filling edge first, so that the filling is tightly sealed inside.  Slice the log into 12 pieces and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Repeat with the remaining 3 portions of dough, and the remaining filling.

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Bring the 6 cups of water to a boil in a large pot.  Add the baking soda and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.  Boil the pretzels in batches, cooking for about 20 seconds and turning once. They should be slightly puffed.  Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to transfer them back to the baking sheet.  Sprinkle with Kosher salt.

Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Source: adapted from Annies Eats, originally from Gourmet, October 2009

Afraid much?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How do you combat fear?

Homemade Bagels

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Sometimes we run out of things to eat. 

That’s what happened over the past week.  With the cereal gone and oatmeal growing all the more mundane, it was time for something new.

And I really didn’t want to go grocery shopping.  Sometimes I look in our pantry and I’m overwhelmed with all the food that is in there.  But there is a problem.  Alex would say all the food is not really food, but ingredients that must be made into some sort of edible goodness.

So I made bagels.  I’ve never made them before and yes, they can be a little time consuming.  But I had the time.  As well as loads of flour and dried cranberries, thanks to Costco.  So bagels became reality.

I know  many won’t want to take on this endeavor.  But if you do, I can tell you it is so worth it.  These are so delicious and made for a very yummy New Year’s eve breakfast.

Homemade Bagels
Yield: 14

For the sponge:
1 teaspoon (.11 ounce) instant yeast
4 cups (18 ounces) bread flour
2 ½ cups (20 ounces) water, at room temperature

For the dough:
½ teaspoon (.055 ounces) instant yeast
3 ¾ cups (17 ounces)bread flour
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
5 tbsp. sugar
2 ¾ teaspoons (.7 ounce) salt
1 tablespoon honey                                                                     
2 cups loosely packed dried cranberries

To finish:
1 tablespoon baking soda
cornmeal or semolina flour for dusting

1. To make the sponge, stir the yeast into the flour in a 4-quart mixing bowl.  Add the water, whisking or stirring only until it forms a smooth, sticky batter (like pancake batter). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the mixture becomes very foamy and bubbly.  It should swell to nearly double in size and collapse when the bowl is tapped on the countertop.

2. To make the dough, in the same mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), add the additional yeast to the sponge and stir. Then add 3 cups of the flour, cinnamon, sugar, salt and malt. Stir (or mix on low speed with the dough hook) until the ingredients form a ball, slowly working in the remaining ¾ cup flour to stiffen the dough.  In the last couple minutes of mixing, add the raisins.  You may need to add a bit more flour at this point, due to any extra moisture that was added with the raisins.

3. Transfer the dough to the counter and knead for at least 10 minutes (or for 6 minutes by machine).  The dough should be firm, stiffer than French bread dough, but still pliable and smooth. There should be no raw flour – all the ingredients should be hydrated.  The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 degrees F.  If the dough seems dry and rips, add a few drops of water and continue kneading.  If the dough seems tacky or sticky, add more flour to achiever the stiffness required.  The kneaded dough should feels satiny and pliable but not be tacky.

4. Immediately divide the dough into equal sized, 4 ½-ounce pieces for standard bagels, or smaller if desired. Form the pieces into rolls.

5. Cover the rolls with a damp towel and allow them to rest for approximately 20 minutes.

6. Line two sheet pans with baking parchment and mist lightly with spray oil.  Proceed with shaping the bagels by pushing a hole through the center and stretching out the hole to 2 ½ inches in diameter.

7. Place each of the shaped pieces 2 inches apart on the pan. Mist the bagels very lightly with the spray oil and slip each pan into a food-grade plastic bag, or cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the pans sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

8. Check to see if the bagels are ready to be retarded in the refrigerator by using the “float test”. Fill a small bowl with cool or room-temperature water.  The bagels are ready to be retarded when they float within 10 seconds of being dropped into the water. Take one bagel and test it.  If it floats, immediately return the tester bagel to the pan, pat it dry, cover the pan, and place it in the refrigerator overnight (it can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2 days).  If the bagel does not float, return it to the pan and continue to proof the dough at room temperature, checking back every 10 to 20 minutes or so until a tester floats. The time needed to accomplish the float will vary, depending on the ambient temperature and the stiffness of the dough.

9. The following day (or when you are ready to bake the bagels), preheat the oven to 500° F with the two racks set in the middle of the oven.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil (the wider the pot the better), and add the baking soda.  Have a slotted spoon or skimmer nearby.

10. Remove the bagels from the refrigerator and gently drop them into the water, boiling only as many comfortably fit (they should float within 10 seconds).  After 1 minute flip them over and boil another minute. If you like very chewy bagels, you can extend the boiling to 2 minutes per side. While the bagels are boiling, sprinkle the same parchment-line sheet pans with cornmeal or semolina flour.  (If you decided to replace the paper, be sure to spray the new paper lightly with spray oil to prevent the bagels from sticking to the surface.)

11. When all the bagels have been boiled, place the pans on the 2 middle shelves in the oven.  Bake for approximately 5 minutes, then rotate the pans, switching shelves and giving the pans a 180-degree rotation. (If you are baking only 1 pan, keep it on the center shelf but still rotate 180 degrees.)  After the rotation, lower the oven setting to 450° F and continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the bagels turn light golden brown.  You may bake them darker if you prefer.

12. Remove the pans from the oven and let the bagels cool on a rack for 15 minutes or longer before serving.

Source: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart, 10 Speed Press, 2001, as seen on Annie’s Eats

New look, New year

Saturday, January 1, 2011

I’ve been playing around with our blog lately and making some changes.  Here’s what the new header looks like in case you read our blog through google reader.
I’m happy with the change and being able to use our wedding pictures.  The tagline fits us:

a decidedly simple &  wonderful life

Looking forward to blogging more in 2011!

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