A Few of My Favorite Things {kitchen edition}

It's no secret that if I had a limitless shopping spree to any store it would likely be to Crate and Barrel or Williams Sonoma. Kitchen stuff makes me happy. It inspires me to be a better cook and to try new things. I've listed a few of my favorite kitchen items below.

1. All Clad Pans. I don't own many of these, but the ones I do have are noticeably different than my other pans. Don't let anyone EVER tell you that there is no difference in the quality of pans based on price. You get what you pay for.. plain and simple. And for someone like me who cooks every day, quality pans are the only way to go.

2. Shun Knife. Again, a good quality knife is not negotiable in the kitchen and there is a real difference in quality usually based on priced. This knife might look intimidating (Jeremy is too scared to touch it... much less clean it... most of the time), but it has become one of my most valuable cooking assets!
3. Kitchen Aid Mixer. I'm always amazed when I go in department stores that there are actually other mixer brands... because to me, Kitchen Aid is the only way to go when it comes to a mixer! I chose the color below for my kitchen... and resisted every urge to get the lime green or turquoise... telling myself that I would be happy 20 years from now with the silver one. I rationalized this by saying that I could change my kitchen decor 100 times and the silver would never be outdated or stick out like a "sore thumb".

4. Glass Cake Dome. I bake a lot and it isn't always easy work. For this reason, I like to display my finished products in this beautiful cake dome. If you are going to go through the effort of making something, why not show it off a little? Besides, it makes anything look prettier and more appetizing (especially compared to tupperware)!

5. Anything Emile Henry. I adore this line of bake ware. There's really nothing more to say.

6. Capresso Coffee Maker. Jeremy and I are coffee addicts. When we got married, we decided to bite the bullet and invest in a really nice coffee maker. Not a day has gone by that we've regretted that decision.

7. Kitchen Aid Food Processor. This is an item that you don't know how much you'll use it until you actually have it. I often think to myself, "How did I ever do without this thing?!" I use it to chop vegetables, make salad dressing, pie crust, pesto, hummus, and I even used it to make Carter's baby food when he was younger. Love it. Love. Love. Love.



If you haven't seen this video, please watch it. I saw it for the first time at church this week, but had heard of Zac's story through people on twitter/facebook.

What the video doesn't tell you is that Zac passed away last month. He is now with Jesus, but it breaks my heart to think of what his wife and three kids must be going through. They have been heavy on my heart for the last few days and I encourage you to join me in prayer for this family.

Another family that I can't stop thinking about is Ellie Potvin's. Have you heard her story? Ellie is an 8 year old girl with Stage 4 rhabdomyosarcoma {cancer}. Yesterday, she went to be with Jesus while in her mom's arms. This is an image I can't shake. I seriously cannot even comprehend the thought of watching your child enter this world, only to watch her leave it 8 years later. Please, PLEASE pray for her family... (she has a twin sister) and I can't even begin to imagine the pain they are experiencing. After hearing of Ellie's death, Jeremy and I cried together for this family and began to thank God for our healthy little boy. You can read more about Ellie's story here.

I heard someone at church this week describe the idea of "leaning into your pain". Our instinct is to run from pain- to try and avoid it at all costs. But what if we leaned into it... faced it head on and pushed deeper? Have you ever thought that at the center of our pain is where we find the very heart of God? This concept is new to me, but makes so much sense. Lean into your pain. Lean on God. Thinking about the future sometimes paralyzes me with fear... especially when I hear of stories like Zac and Ellie's. So much can go wrong so quickly. I have this false sense of control that I hold onto... and it is so hard to let go. As if I can really control whether or not my child gets cancer or whether or not my husband is safe at all times. Thankfully, the Lord continuously reminds me that HE is in control and HIS ways are perfect... even though we might not understand.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and LEAN NOT our your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5



Have I mentioned how much I love SouthernSavers.com? Here's one reason why...
This week at Publix I spent $26.38 {before tax} and saved $65! That's a savings of 71%!

And this wasn't for junk either. I know some of the big criticisms of couponing are 1. "I buy stuff I'll never use or would never buy otherwise." OR "The stuff you can save on is junk." As an avid couponer, I am committed to buying healthy food for my little family, while also being conscience of whether or not a deal is something we will actually use. This week, for example, my grocery cart included items such as: organic milk, 2 pints of blueberries, 100% whole wheat bread, fresh corn, all natural chicken sausage... and even a few indulgences like Starbucks ice cream! You CAN make healthy food on a budget, so please don't let anyone tell you that you can't. Sometimes it just takes a little effort and creativity!


Restless, Muffins, and a Sicky Boy

"Almighty God,
You have made us for Yourself,
so that our hearts are restless until
they rest in You."
St. Augustine
I love the quote above because it reminds me to be thankful for the times that my heart is restless. It is during these times that I need to search for God and not be satisfied until my soul rests in Him. HE is the only one who brings true peace... and rest. Why do I so easily forget this?
On a different note, I've been physically restless that past few days because this is the 5th day that Carter has been sick. He's been running a fever, but no other symptoms other than being extremely irritable. I finally took him to the doctor today and it turns out that his throat is really red, so the doctor did a strep test. The first swab came back negative, but they went ahead and sent it to a lab for the 2nd test... so we'll have those results in 24-48 hours. I'm hoping he feels better soon because a cranky boy = a cranky mommy. We have been watching lots of Sesame Street since it is about the only thing he wants to do when he's sick. I'm not sure how much more of Elmo and Big Bird I can take ;)
I have, surprisingly, been able to do some cooking over the past few days. I made these muffins today and they are delicious! I'm a huge fan of banana and chocolate together.. but most recipes I've tried are too dry or bland. This one is just about perfect. I used 3 medium bananas (instead of 2) and white flour instead of wheat (mainly because I didn't have any wheat on hand). Give them a try!


18 Months

My little man turned 18 months old on Friday. Cliche as it may sound, I seriously don't know how it is possible that he is already one and a half! The newborn/infancy days seemed to never end and now these days won't slow down. Here are a few updates about our little nugget:

-He weighs 22lbs, which puts him in the 10th percentile for weight.

-He is 31.5 inches tall, which puts him in the 50th percentile for height.

-His favorite fruit is currently strawberries.

-He is obsessed with books. Literally, obsessed. There are some days when I feel like I've read all 500 books on his shelf (ok, small exaggeration.. but still..) .. I'm honestly really thankful for this and hope it is working to build his vocabulary. His favorite books are Goodnight Moon, I Love My Mommy/Daddy Because, Moo Ba La La La, Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, some Dr. Seuss, and more...

-He still loves music and starts dancing (bouncing up and down and moving his arms from side to side) anytime he hears ANY music. He was the star of the show for awhile at my sister's reception! He is a very "serious" dancer though and doesn't really want to dance with anyone else yet. That would just take away from his attention ;)

-We are desperately trying to get him to say more words. He can identify anything you ask him to, but his vocabulary is a little behind. The doctor spent a good amount of time working with him during this last visit and is confident that he's just fine.

-His favorite activity is going outside and taking walks or helping daddy in the yard.

-He loves any and all balls. Even things that look like balls, but aren't ... like plastic Easter eggs, for example... get thrown all over the house. He is 100% boy.

-He reminds us immediately if we forget to pray before a meal or at bedtime.

-And finally, he just might be the most active little boy on the planet who loves being sweaty and outside {i.e. the COMPLETE opposite of his mama}, but I love him with every ounce of my being. My world truly begins and ends with him and I couldn't think of a better way to exhaust myself everyday ;)


As Promised...

Some of my favorites from Ashley and Taylor's wedding day (in no particular order):


A Few More Good Ones...

While I was making our dinner tonight {pasta salad with chicken, green peppers, onions, cucumbers, and tomatoes... mmm}, I realized that I left out two delicious recipes that I meant to include in my last post. I served these two together and they complimented each other really well! Both were from the May 2010 issue of Southern Living.

Black Beans and Coconut-Lime Rice: get the recipe here

Coconut Chicken: this recipe was originally for Coconut Shrimp, but it is amazingly delicious with chicken! Also, I did not make the sauce that went with it because I already had honey-mustard dipping sauce on hand. Get the recipe here


Easy, No Fail, Crowd Pleasing Recipes!

It has felt really good to be back in the kitchen after 10 days of eating out. On Wednesday night, we had a cookout with our small group from church. I was responsible for bringing the baked beans... so I used this recipe from my mom:

Baked Beans

4 slices bacon
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
1 can (28oz) baked beans
1 small can lima beans
1 can kidney beans
2 T. wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 T. mustard

Fry bacon, ground beef, and chopped onion until brown. Add all other ingredients. Mix well! Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

This recipe is so easy and got rave reviews from everyone who tried it! It would be great for any cookout or just served with a side salad and cornbread. Mmmmm.

On Friday night, we grilled out with our dear friends, the Crawfords. I brought a cobb salad and Magnolia Bakery's Banana Pudding. This recipe takes a little while to prepare, but is pretty much impossible to mess up. Every single morsel will be devoured. That's a promise.

*I have found that it is easiest to start the recipe before you go to bed, then finish the rest the next morning...

Magnolia Bakery's Banana Pudding

One 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups ice cold water
One 3.4 oz package instant vanilla pudding mix (preferably Jell-O brand)
3 cups heavy cream
One 12 oz box Nabisco Nilla Wafers
4 cups sliced ripe bananas

In a small bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together the sweetened condensed milk and water until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the pudding mix and beat well, about 2 minutes more. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight, before continuing. It is very important to allow the proper amount of time for the pudding mixture to set.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the pudding mixture into the whipped cream until well blended and no streaks of the pudding remain.

To assemble the dessert, select a large, wide bowl (preferably glass) with a 4-5 quart capacity. Arrange one-third of the wafers to cover the bottom of the bowl, overlapping if necessary, then one-third of the bananas, then one-third of the pudding mixture. Repeat the layering twice more, garnishing with additional wafers or wafer crumbs on the top layer of the pudding. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours- or up to 8 hours, but no longer!- before serving.

I'm sorry I don't have any pictures to go with these recipes.. you'll just have to take my word that they are delicious! Let me know if you try them and how they turn out :)

Happy Cooking!