Friday, March 30, 2012

2012 Book 11: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Last year I saw The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot while I was at the airport. It looked interesting and I added it to my TBR list.

This was a fascinating, though occasionally boring, look into how one woman's cells reached immortality. It raises many questions regarding the ethics of scientific research and whether or not our cells are our own. It gives a look into how laws have changed since the 1950s and how difficult it would be to know you were being treated unfairly or unethically if you were poor and uneducated – even today.

It was truly fascinating how Rebecca Skloot was able to befriend the Lack's family and over the course of a decade dig into and document who Henrietta Lacks was and how her cells came to exist in research labs all over the planet.

Excerpts from the book:
"We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph." — ELIE WIESEL from The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code
“It sound strange,” he said, “but her cells done lived longer than her memory.”
...zeal for research must not be carried to the point where it violates the basic rights and immunities of a human person.
“John Hopkin didn’t give us no information about anything. That was the bad part. Not the sad part, but the bad part, cause I don’t know if they didn’t give us information because they was making money out of it, or if they was just wanting to keep us in the dark about it."
"It’s not fair! She’s the most important person in the world and her family living in poverty. If our mother so important to science, why can’t we get health insurance?”
Henrietta was a black woman born of slavery and sharecropping who fled north for prosperity, only to have her cells used as tools by white scientists without her consent. It was a story of white selling black, of black cultures “contaminating” white ones with a single cell in an era when a person with “one drop” of black blood had only recently gained the legal right to marry a white person. It was also the story of cells from an uncredited black woman becoming one of the most important tools in medicine. This was big news. 
“John Hopkin is a school for learning, and that’s important. But this is my mother. Nobody seem to get that.” 
Beyond simply knowing their tissues are being used in research, some tissue-rights activists believe donors should have the right to say, for example, that they don’t want their tissues used for research on nuclear weapons, abortion, racial differences, intelligence, or anything else that might run contrary to their beliefs. They also believe it’s important for donors to be able to control who has access to their tissues, because they worry that information gathered from tissue samples might be used against them. 

It’s illegal to sell human organs and tissues for transplants or medical treatments, but it’s perfectly legal to give them away while charging fees for collecting and processing them.
“Researchers have become entrepreneurs. That’s boomed our economy and created incentives to do research. But it’s also brought problems, like secrecy and arguments over who owns what.” 

“The fundamental problem here isn’t the money; it’s the notion that the people these tissues come from don’t matter.”

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thursday Things (Random, March 2012)

My house is magically cleaner when I am crazy busy. Chalk it up to a personality that thrives on procrastinating and the ensuing pressure that comes from having too much on my plate.


Speaking of which... my house is currently the cleanest it has been since Jack came home. I also am juggling several new freelance projects with tight deadlines. This is my sweet zone and I love being extra busy during Jack's nap times.

Granted I didn't go to bed until after midnight, four nights in a row, last week. That caught up with me on the weekend and I spent Saturday taking long naps when Jack napped. You know, instead of working like a mad woman.


I ordered gray and white striped curtains from West Elm for Jack's nursery {actually a cotton shower curtain I am converting into regular curtains}. So excited that they are here. Now to find the right curtains {or fabric} for our bonus room window.


I have been looking for a case for my Kindle. I was thrilled to find one at The Pleated Poppy's Etsy shop. It happens to be made with the Michael Miller Bicycle fabric that I used in Jack's nursery. Love.


I am finally joining the 21st century and getting a smart phone this weekend. Though we still won't have texting. So for the love, please don't text us unless it is an EMERGENCY. I can't wait to join the world of Instagram – like I don't take enough photos of Jack or the food I cook...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Horse Whisperer

Yesterday one of Daniel's co-workers told him that The Horse Whisperer was going to be in Scottsboro and he thought we might be interested in attending.

Well, we have been trying to make an effort to do local things, though we have been failing miserably, so this seemed like a good event to go to.

The Horse Whisperer is a Baptist Ministry that focuses on training a horse that has never been ridden. In the span of 90 minutes. During the training session, the Horse Whisperer, Sammy Gilbreath, shares his faith and speaks about how God is trying to tame each of us. Sammy wants the horse to choose to submit to him, he doesn't want to beat the horse into submission. Likewise, God doesn't want to force a relationship with us. Like the horse, we can run away, we can kick, we can fight God, but in the end God will guide us into submission. He will gently wait until we are ready to have a relationship.

It was a very interesting event. Sammy did a great job of adapting his message to the horse he was working with. And by the end of the evening Sammy was riding the horse around the ring with no problem.

On a separate note, I absolutely LOVE that children can communicate with each other through smiles and giggles, regardless of language barriers...

During the event {which was actually closer two hours than 90 minutes}, we were sitting beside several Hispanic families. Most of which didn't speak English – they had a translator. There were three little girls who were smitten with Jack. The little girls made lots of faces at Jack and would say "Hola." I started saying "Hola" back to them and they would giggle and laugh and run away. But they kept coming back because they couldn't resist Jack's smiles. Jack was fascinated by the little girls. By the end of the evening they were giving Jack hugs. It was precious.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Menu Monday

I just started to spell Monday as Munday... either I have too much on my plate or I am losing my mind just a little.

I actually have quite a few projects going on right now. Hopefully I won't completely forget how to spell in the course of meeting deadlines over the next couple of weeks!

Monday: Toasted Sesame Ginger Chicken served with a side of Rice and a Salad {the salmon was so good last week, that I thought I would try this recipe again, but with Chicken}.


Tuesday: Grilled Steak with Roasted Garlic Brussel Sprouts

Wednesday: Barbacoa Burritos using leftovers from last week's Burrito Bowls

Thursday: Grilled Garlic Dijon Herb Chicken with Rice and a side Salad {using Gina's Skinny Tastes recipe for salmon}.
Friday: Date Night

Saturday: Cheesy Spinach Artichoke Pizza {recipe from How Sweet It Is}

Sunday: We are getting together with our class from church. I will be taking a dessert, though I haven't decided what yet. A strong contender is this recipe for Girl Scout Cookie Tagalong Cake Bars from Kevin and Amanda.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Banana Baked French Toast

There are not a whole lot of recipes that I make more than once. But on occasion, I come across one that I keep in my back pocket as a "go to" for special occasions. One of my all-time favorites to make for breakfast when we have company is Pioneer Woman's Blueberry Baked French Toast. It is seriously amazing.

Since I don't like to repeat recipes, I got it in my head that I could experiment with the flavor of PWs recipe. I think it would be great with different kinds of fruit {like bananas, apples, peaches or blackberries}.

I had some very ripe bananas in my freezer, so I decided to branch out and make the PW recipe with a twist. It was delicious. Next time: peaches.

Banana Baked French Toast
1 Bag Stacy's Pita Chips {Simply Naked} 
7 large eggs
2 3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup Vanilla CoffeeMate
1/2 cup sugar
3 ripe bananas
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
Grease 9 x 13 inch baking pan with butter (or cooking spray). Pour in bag of pita chips and arrange evenly. 

In a bowl mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar and bananas.

Pour egg mixture over pita chips. Cover pan tightly with foil {or lid} and place in refrigerator overnight {minimum six hours}.

Preheat oven to 350º degrees. Remove pan from refrigerator.  

Mix together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Slice butter and add to bowl, then use pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture. 

Sprinkle flour mixture on top of the casserole, making sure that it is evenly distributed. 

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown. Serve plain or with syrup and/or whipped cream if you are want to be decadent.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thursday Things (Random, March 2012)

My parents just came for a quick visit. They wanted to know when I started my process of never {rarely} cooking the same recipe twice. Hmmm. I guess it was whenever I started reading blogs on a regular basis {back before Pinterest}. I realized that the world is full of lots of amazing recipes and I didn't want to spend my life eating the same few dishes when there was so much to try. I am a little like that with traveling too. There are so many places in the world, why keep returning to the same place over and over? That's what I told them anyways.


It turns out that I have a difficult time multitasking when I am cooking. I get too distracted and do silly things like forget ingredients or leave something in the oven too long. I love to cook, but I think this is something best done alone {or with someone like my mom, who can keep me on track}.


My brother always complains that all we do is sit around and hold babies {or visit} whenever we get together as a family. Well, in honor of my brother {who is not here}, my parents and I went to the lake for a picnic on the first day of spring. Then yesterday we went to Unclaimed Baggage to do a little shopping. We were going to go to Russell Caves National Monument today, but the weather and Jack getting his immunizations yesterday didn't really cooperate with that plan. There is always next time.


I will never understand why UPS, FedEx or USPS will ring the doorbell and then run before you answer the door. I know it is to notify you that there is a package on your doorstep, but really it is like a child's prank that leaves my dog barking and my baby crying. Time to put up a sign.


I hate fruit flies. Apparently, tis the season. Any tips on getting rid of them? That work???

Monday, March 19, 2012

Menu Monday

I am a very laid-back, go with the flow, kind of gal. But I am also a notorious planner and list maker. Always have been, always will be. 92% of the time, I stick to my menu plan {we break the plan for impromptu social outings with friends or if I am not feeling up to cooking}. As for my grocery list, if it's not on the list, I'm not buying it. This drives my husband crazy when he happens to shop with me – he inevitably finds something not on the list and I will put my foot down {unless it is a need and not a want}. I try not to be too much of a dictator, but the meal planning and grocery list making has helped us to be consistent with our spending for nearly a decade now.

Monday: Toasted Sesame Ginger Salmon {recipe from How Sweet It Is} with Rice and Asparagus
Tuesday: Homemade Sausage, Bell Pepper and Olive Pizza {using the Garlic Bread Crust recipe from How Sweet It Is}

Wednesday: Barbacoa Burrito Bowls {recipe from Gina's Skinny Recipes}
Thursday: Date Night
Friday-Sunday: Hubby is on his own {probably leftovers} as me and the baby head to the city to hang out with my sister and her family {and to do a little consignment sale shopping}.

My parents will be in town for the next couple of days, so I am also planning on making Pioneer Woman's Blueberry Baked French Toast but with a twist... I think I am going to use bananas instead of blueberries. This one of my favorite recipes, so I hope the bananas don't ruin it.

I will also be making my favorite Peach Cobbler for dessert tonight {recipe from Pink Parsley}. Hopefully the leftovers will last us a couple of nights.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

2012 Book 10: Latitude 38

LATITUDE 38 by Ron Hutchison takes place in the future when America has been split into two countries, Pais Nuevo and United Secular States of America, which are divided by the 38th latitude. Pais Nuevo is corrupt and has eliminated essential American freedoms. Anyone caught trying to cross the border into the USSofA are subject to being shot on sight. 

The story follows a group of eight people attempting to cross the border. They are being led by Arnold Cutbirth, who is on his last smuggling trip across the border. Each person is from different background and has a different reason for wanting to cross. They must learn to work together to get across latitude 38.

I found this to be a very intriguing story, though there were some fairly graphic scenes I wish weren't included. Also I think the author could had gone into more detail about how the two countries had come to be formed. In some ways it reminded me of The Hunger Games. Unfortunately the ending is not a happy one.

Excerpt from the book:
What had once been the envy of the world was now two separate republics—neurotic, broken, and put-upon—and the border somehow seemed to symbolize their sense of loss.

2012 Book 9: The Long Run

The Long Run by Mishka Shubaly is a memoir about how Shubaly quit alcohol. Mostly it drones on and on and on and on about the author's drug and alcohol experience. And then it briefly talks about how he saved himself through running. Basically he just woke up one day and decided to quit drinking and he did. The book doesn't offer much hope, just a sad story of an alcoholic. I was disappointed that he didn't talk more about his running experiences, after all the title is The Long Run. The most powerful part of the book is the very end where Shubaly helps a friend complete a 100-mile race.

If you are just in the mood to read about the sad life of an alcoholic, then you might feel like picking this up. But I wouldn't recommend it.

Excerpts from the book:
“The tragedy is not that you’re gonna die this way,” my mother had said to me once, “it’s that you live this way.”

"At 27 years of age, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and even Jim Morrison had each created a body of work that guys like you are still ripping off today. At 32, you seem to have done nothing. Or at least I have no idea who you are. So my two questions to you are: What do you intend to do with your life? And just what exactly is your f---ing problem?”

It’s much easier to accede to the grim fact of an early death than it is to deal with the long, fumbling open question of what to do with your life. best attempts to the contrary, quitting drinking taught me a few things. One hard truth I stumbled upon is this: I drank because I wanted to drink. Every single drink, every single drug I took, I took because I made the decision to get f---ed up, and f--- the consequences. I was sad and angry and lonely and a little alcohol made me feel better. It took me a long time to figure out that a lot of alcohol made me feel worse. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thursday Things (Random, March 2012)

There are several 5K races that are currently on my radar. I am hoping to do at least one of them {hopefully April-ish}. 

Is it weird that I am more psyched about participating in a 5K than I am about shopping for clothes? I might like shopping more if I could just order outfits I liked off of Pinterest {but only if they were cheap}.


I haven't done any crafts in the last couple of weeks. Not because I don't have a long list of projects I want to start, more because my crafting partner is moving back to the city and I just haven't felt like crafting by myself. Next week, I will buck up and make the crib skirt for my sister and cover some boxes in fabric for Jack's toys.


My friend that is leaving is also the person that got me interested in running. We ran our first 5K together back in December of '10 and then we committed to running the Nashville Half Marathon last April. It was an amazing experience. I am thankful that she motivated me to run. I will miss her.


Speaking of friends, I am so glad that Daniel and I are good friends. There have been so many times I would be lost if it wasn't for our friendship. Being in a big city can be lonely. Being in the country can be lonely. Friends move. We move. But Daniel and I are each others constants and I am grateful for that.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Life, in Two-Hour Increments

The biggest thing that I have had to adapt to since become a mother is that my life is now dictated by two-hour increments. Once I came to accept this, I found it much easier to accomplish things.

Here is a sample of a typical day for me:

5:00am: Earlier morning feeding. Back to bed for both me and Jack. Daniel leaves for work about 5:45am.

7:00am: Another feeding. If I am lucky, we go back to sleep for another hour or two.

8:00-9:00am: Get up sometime during this hour. Feed and let Sophie out. Get Jack dressed for the day. Eat breakfast. Load the dishwasher. If Jack isn't too fussy, throw on a load of laundry.

9:00am: Play with Jack. This includes letting him have tummy time or lay on his playmat. We also read books and sing lots of songs. When he gets fussy, time for morning nap #1.

10:00am: While Jack naps, I get that load of laundry started (if I didn't have time earlier). I drink my coffee and check email, Facebook and my favorite blogs. If I have a freelance project, I get to work on it.

11:00am: Jack wakes up. He nurses. We play. I take a shower. We play some more. He gets fussy. And we are ready for...

1:00pm: Nap #2. While Jack takes this nap, I eat lunch. Do more freelance work. More laundry – it never ends. Maybe some light house cleaning. My floors are never really clean, but I do try to get the bathrooms clean every other week.

2:00pm: Jack wakes up. He nurses. We play. He gets fussy. And he is ready for his afternoon nap. Thankfully this one lasts closer to two hours. During this time I do more freelance work/internet surfing/reading or housework.

4:00pm: Jack wakes up. He nurses. We play. Daniel comes home about 4:45pm and I hand Jack off to him so they can have some quality time together. We catch up on Daniel's day. Sophie gets played with.

5:30-6:30pm: I start cooking dinner.

7:00pm: We try to eat before 7:00pm, it is highly dependent on Jack. He goes down for the evening around 7:00pm or 7:30pm. If it is bath night, we do that first, then we read to him, sing some songs and it is back to bed. Daniel and I watch TV or read or just hang out together for the evening. I also use this time period to wrap up freelance projects and Daniel often does research on upcoming home improvement projects.

10:00pm: Around 10:00pm, we try to go to bed. Jack sometimes will wake up and have a late night feeding, sometimes he doesn't.

3:00-4:00am: Jack might wake up hungry, it really depends on whether or not he got the 10pm feeding.

And that is my day. There are variations of course. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I go to kickboxing, we just adapt our schedule as much as possible. On Mondays I try to go grocery shopping before his afternoon nap. Some Mon/Wed/Fri we go to the high school when Daniel gets home from work to go running. Jack will nap in the stroller part of the time. And on Wednesdays, I try to devote the afternoon nap time to doing crafts.

Flexibility is a big part of our lives. We have structure, but we try to adapt to each new day. This is working for us right now. In those snippets of time while my boy sleeps, thankfully I can get quite a bit done. I don't know how things will work once he starts sleeping less...

It's 10:48am and my boy just woke up... gotta run!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Jack is Four Months

At the start of this month we started sleep training. Initially Jack was not a fan. He would cry for up to 60 minutes before we intervened. Sophie found this very worrisome and would go to check on Jack when the crying got really intense. Night time was still a breeze... it was just nap time that seemed to be problematic :(

After two days Jack finally seemed to get the hang of sleeping in his crib for naps. Even better is that we have basically cut out the middle of the night feedings – Jack can go between 6 and 8 hours without eating. Yay for more sleep time for me :)

Our little guy is talking up a storm these days. He especially seems to like babbling along to music. Sometimes he just shouts out sounds. It is so sweet. However it seems that the days when I could nurse him and put him back {quietly} in his bed {after his 7 a.m. feeding} are gone. He babbles away, getting louder and louder until I finally make myself get up and start my day. I am going to miss those extra 1-2 hours in the morning.

Jack is using his hands more to grasp things. He really likes the rings that we have hanging down for him to grasp when he is in his car seat or bouncer. He also likes holding onto my hair.

He is starting to splash with his feet during bath time. It won't be long before we have to move his baby tub from the counter top to the bathtub. Otherwise the floor {and Daniel} will be soaked.

Jack has really been growing this month. He seems to be getting longer by the minute. He has totally outgrown his footed pajamas that are 3 months {even the 3-6 months are snug}. So I had to buy a few 6 month jammies {I am hoping to make it to some big consignment sales in Nashville and Huntsville soon}. It will be interesting to see how long he is when we go to his 4-month PED appointment on Tuesday.

When Jack was first born, Daniel asked his dad how often we should cut his fingernails. His dad replied, "Every six hours." We all laughed, but sometimes it really does seem like those suckers grow with abandon. At least we discovered that clipping fingernails while Jack is asleep is much easier than when he is awake.

Jack went to the park for the first time this month. We are looking forward to more park days.

We introduced Jack to his high chair this month. He loves being able to "sit" and watch us eat. This means we will have to start eating at the table regularly instead of at the coffee table in front of the TV {a bad habit we have developed over the years}.

Daniel recently showed Jack how to use a screwdriver. He also tells him how to fix things like HVAC units. Jack soaks up everything we say. Sometimes I wonder what is going on in his little mind. Especially when I sing him silly songs or talk in different voices or when Daniel uses big words to describe the world to him.

We were able to see a lot of both of our families this month. My family got together for a visit in Nashville so that my parents could meet their newest grandbaby, Levi. In the last four months we jumped from one grandbaby to three {and in the last ten years we have gone from a family of five to a family of ten}. I see lots of fun in the future.

Jack also got to see his Great Grandmother {on Daniel's side}. She is smitten with our little guy – as is everyone. 

We truly grow to love our little boy more and more with each passing day. It is amazing how your capacity to love grows and changes. We are so blessed.

*I will be writing monthly updates of Jack with pictures of Jack and the Tonka truck on the 11th of each month. One Month Old. Two Months Old. Three Months Old.


Saturday, March 10, 2012


Hair cuts are the very last thing I get around to doing for myself. The reason for this is twofold. One: I have been the recipient of a couple of bad hair cuts, which really shake a girl's confidence. Two: committing to a hair stylist means accepting that we are officially a part of a community.

In Cookeville, it took me two years to find a hair stylist I liked. Then we moved.

In Charlotte, I haphazardly went to various places. I just couldn't commit. I liked most of the places I tried, but at the time, I felt like I was terrible at making small talk, so I just avoided putting myself in that kind of situation. We lived in Charlotte for six years and I would find myself waiting to visit my sister in Memphis or taking a trip home to Searcy, to get my hair cut. Kind of ridiculous.

Well we have been in Hollywood for 1.5 years and I decided that it was time.

Actually my hair was shouting at me that it needed to be cut. Post-pregnancy hair is the worst. Mine was super long {for me} and it was falling out like crazy. I had read that this is normal, but it was getting out of hand. It would take me an extra 10 minutes in the shower just to get all of the loose hair off my hands {this was doubling my shower time which is not good when you have an infant}. Further more I was finding my hair in all sorts of ridiculous places – like Jack's diapers. I would check carefully whenever I changed his diaper but it never failed, on the next change I always seemed to find more hair.

Also there is the problem of dust bunnies on my wood floors. Daniel kept telling me to brush Sophie to help with the dust bunnies, but the sad truth was that over half of the problem has been my hair.

So I finally decided to commit. I asked my kickboxing instructor who she recommended {she grew up here, so I figured she would have a good idea} and she pointed me in the direction of Andrea, who I called right away to set up a Friday appointment. 

Granted it was not like going to a salon like I might visit in Charlotte or Nashville, but I really liked Andrea. And the whole experience felt more like a scene from Steel Magnolias – where you sit around and learn about everything that is going on in town. We talked for over an hour and not once did I feel uncomfortable. Maybe I am just more secure now that I am older, but I felt like Andrea was genuinely interested in me and it wasn't just petty small talk. At the end of our session, she even gave me a hug. I left feeling like I had made a new friend.

The best part is that my hair was long enough to donate to Locks of Love.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Thursday Things (Random, March 2012)

After reading several different posts on various blogs, it has come to my attention that when nursing, women often spend money on nursing shirts... who knew? Since I spent a very minimal amount on maternity clothes, it seems odd to spend money on a nursing-specific shirt. Am I alone in this?


Jack finding his voice.

Over the last week, Jack has really seemed to find his voice. He likes to talk {loudly} to us. If music is playing it sometimes seems like he is trying to sing along. It is truly funny. Daniel thinks he sounds like the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Toons.


Jack and Daniel engrossed in Top Gear (UK). 
They were watching a car (a Touareg) race two snow mobiles 
down a ski slope and across a lake. The Touareg won.

We asked Daniel's dad {a doctor} if he thought Jack might develop ADD or ADHD later in life because we occasionally let him watch television. To which Daniel's dad replied, "Jack is not going to develop ADD. His personality is way too laid back for that." Hopefully he is right. We are enjoying our very chilled out boy.


You know how Media Mail is super cheap {for shipping books and the like}... Well, way back when I was in college, I tried to mail books and the post mistress asked me if I was ONLY sending books. Since I cannot tell a lie, I said there was also a card enclosed. Then she refused to give me the media rate!!! I should have lied! 

In all seriousness, I think she should have given me the cheaper rate... it cost me a fortune {to a poor college student anyway} to send my package :(


I am in desperate need of a haircut... more on that soon.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

Last Thursday I mentioned that Daniel had requested a two-week moratorium on desserts at our house {we are both attempting to lost about 7% of our current body weight}. Anyways, I agreed and our house has been basically dessert free.

Last night this backfired on Daniel as he was craving something sweet – even if it was just a handful of chocolate chips. No dice. When I ran out of goodies, I didn't add them to the grocery list because of the moratorium. We even ran out of our frozen yogurt.

So after dinner, Daniel tried to make a bargain with me: Change a diaper or go to Walmart to pick up frozen yogurt {or even better drive the 20 minutes across town for DQ}. If we were going to do a family outing, I was fine with getting out, but I didn't really want to go out by myself. And since Daniel didn't want to get out, we were at a bit of an impasse.

Instead I went downstairs to see what was in our pantry and what recipe might work with the ingredients I happened to have on hand. We ended up with Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies for dessert. The perfect thing to satisfy our sweet tooth.

 Nutrition Information from CalorieCount

These cookies were a great excuse to use my new KitchenAid Stand Mixer {I have had it for a couple of months, but haven't had a chance to blog about it}. Daniel insisted I get the heavy duty one because the motor was a better quality {i.e. no plastic parts} and the bowl was much bigger {I guess he thinks I might need to be able to whip up batter for 48 cupcakes in one setting}. I do like it. My only complaint is that the crank to lift the bowl up to the mixer cranks opposite of what I would expect. But with time, I am sure that I will get used to it.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies
Recipe Adapted from Smells Like Home

3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbsp butter
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter {I used natural}
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup quick-cooking oats

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir together with a fork to blend.  

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, peanut butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  

Blend in the egg and vanilla extract.  

Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until incorporated.  

Stir in the oats until evenly blended.

Use a tablespoon to drop the dough on the cookie sheets, a couple inches apart.  

Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through.  

The cookies should be light golden brown and slightly puffed.  

Let cool on the baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cook completely. 

You should get about 2 dozen cookies from this recipe.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Pancakes with Grammy

My niece is something else. She is almost three and pure joy to be around. When we were in Nashville for a family visit last week, I had the opportunity to help Izzy and my mom {Grammy} make pancakes.

Miss Izzy has reached the "I can do it" stage and insists on being in the middle of everything. She wanted to scoop out the flour and pour the flour into the bowl and stir.

We managed to compromise with Grammy scooping out the flour, Izzy dumping it in the bowl and me helping her to stir.

She actually did really well.

For some reason, while we were stirring together, I started making a sound like electric beaters {or a toy car} "Brrrrrrrrrrrr." I guess I am gearing up for making lots of noises when Jack gets bigger.

Of course Izzy is a little mimic so she made the "Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr" sound and thought it was hilarious. 

The pancakes were delicious – and there was minimal mess to clean up. So glad to get to spend some quality time with family. I can't wait until the boys {Jack and his cousin, Levi} are big enough to join in on the fun.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Spaghetti Sauce, Used Three Ways

This past week I experimented with being creative with meals. I started out by making a homemade spaghetti sauce that we ate with whole wheat spaghetti and a side salad {original recipe was from A Recipe A Day}.

The next day I used the sauce to make sloppy joes.

Finally I used the sauce to make stuffed shells.

We also managed to get a couple of days worth of leftovers for lunches {I made a half recipe of the sauce and it provided us with 10 different servings}. This worked out beautifully as we didn't have to have true repeat meals and we saved money by not making completely new dishes each night.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Pin It: Completed Projects

Over the last couple of weeks I wrapped up two projects. One was a Crayon Monogram "J" for Jack's nursery {if you remember, I made an "L" a few weeks ago for my nephew}.

The other thing is that I finally finished knitting Jack's baby blanket. My sister informed me that it is actually a "throw" as baby blankets are 2'x3' and my blanket is a bit bigger. On second thought, it is perfect for me to snuggle under... maybe I should just keep it for myself!

I have several new ideas for projects to start on this week.

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...