December 29, 2013

Cranberry Orange Muffins

Our house has become a battlefield. The tides have turned, and we are winning! A week ago we discovered a squirrel in here, behind our computer! Well, technically Bracken discovered it, we just noticed how excited she was about the computer... We let her chase him out the back door. Another one appeared in our living room, downstairs, a few days ago, and we decided they must be getting in through the chimney, which is NOT covered! We chased him back out through the fireplace. Today, Bracken discovered a squirrel downstairs again!! Was it the same squirrel? I'm not sure, but the Geologist is convinced it was. We tried to chase it up the stairs and out this time, but after two unsuccessful encounters with her nemesis, Bracken was ready for it... and promptly dispatched the intruder. That was unexpected. She was very professional though, and is now very proud of herself. And I have fully closed the fireplace doors and sealed them, until we can get our chimney covered. I like squirrels in trees, not in my house or on my birdfeeders. But we apparently have a secret weapon: Bracken the Squirrel Terminator!

December 27, 2013

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Color schemes are so intimidating!!! I'm trying to plan out my sitting room, it's the trickiest. The couch pillows have green and blue in them, and I've decided on super pale blue for the walls. 
I don't want to go green, because the couch is a very in-between color (grey-green-light taupe) and I don't want to bring out more green in it, I'd rather bring out the grey-taupe. But then what do I do for the carpet/rug? More blue? Or is that too matchy-matchy? Grey? Brown, or is that too much brown?? I don't want it all one color, or even two, but I have no idea what colors work together! 

This, to me, is too matchy. Not what I'm going for.

I love this, but is there too much going on? It would let me add touches of red, which are my favorite... What do you think?? I'm starting from scratch here, any advice would be welcome!!
What do you think?? I'm starting from scratch here, any advice would be welcome!! Help me decorate my house! My next step is a rug, so I need to decide what colors are good options. Help!!

December 26, 2013

Rosemary Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

Sometimes the day after Christmas feels like a bit of a vacuum, especially if you've spent two months building up to the big day! If you have family in town, it's still quite a holiday atmosphere, and you can stretch the celebrations out a few more days. When your husband goes back to work and life resumes it's normal pattern (although with kids still home from school) it can feel like a bit of a let-down. Luckily, my boys were in sparkling adorable form this morning, AND they're spending the whole afternoon at a friend's house! I get a big long relaxing break, I'm going to make a batch of my favorite cookies and take a bubble bath. Somehow, still feels like a holiday! Besides, tonight I get to catch up on the Doctor Who Christmas special!! Eeek!! I hope you're still having fun, that most of you haven't had to rush back to work quite yet! If you're in need of a quicker, lighter meal after all the Christmas delicacies, try this one out!

December 25, 2013


Source: northwudzgirl

Merry Christmas!! I hope your Christmas has been marvelous! Mine sure has been. Possibly the best of my married life. Not that any of the others were bad, this is just the first one that I haven't been stressed, dirt-poor, sick, or pregnant. We didn't spend nearly as much as last year (got a little overexcited with that first real-paycheck-Christmas) but I was twice as excited about the presents I got the boys. It was the first time that the Christmas season steadily built up in excitement and anticipation, instead of sneaking up on me two weeks before. Yesterday may not have been snowy, but it was a gorgeous day and we spent over two hours at our favorite park, not to mention taking the boys to see Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Hilarious. I need a pet marshmallow.) and planning my parent's approaching move to Colorado!!! This morning I woke up at 5:30, before anyone else, too excited to go back to sleep! What am I, six?? When everyone else finally woke up we had the PERFECT Christmas morning. The first one with lots of thank-yous and no fights. We'll spend the rest of the day soaking up the rest of the Christmas spirit before getting back to real life tomorrow. (And I'll take a nap...)

I wish you Christmas Days full of joy and fun and love and relaxation, and a New Year full of hope, excitement, and blessings. Merry Christmas, friends!

December 23, 2013

Weekly Menu Dec 23 & House Pictures!

Source: sutton15445

This week we have:
Cranberry Orange Muffins
Rosemary Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

For today, Dec 2 ...

December 22, 2013

Easy 1-Hour Cinnamon Rolls

 Ah, cinnamon rolls. You are so delicious, so decadently sweet and fluffy and creamy and cinnamony... And you take so darn long to make! How many of you have never bothered to make cinnamon rolls, or only made them once and then given up because they just take forever?? Hands up! Yep, I'm with you. Who wants to start them the night before, or wake up hours before everyone else? Especially on a holiday?? Not me! When I first read this recipe, I was skeptical. Could they really be that good? What are we sacrificing to get them done so fast? But finally I tried it, and let me tell you:

I'm never going back. And neither will you. This is The One.

December 21, 2013

Small & Wonderful Things 38

Wall o' Egg Nog

Sunny winter days... Even though I wish there was snow, this sun is pretty glorious, I will admit!

December 20, 2013

Eggnog Pecan Cookies

I'm generally a pretty darn positive person. Sunny little optimist, that's me! But sometimes even I take a hit from the Doubt Monster. Especially when it comes to the things I love most: my life as wife and mother, and this blog! It may seem silly that my blog is that high on the list, but it really represents all the things that make me the happiest. Food, sharing food, and "the little things". The problem is, food blogs are a dime a dozen these days! Heck, they're a dime a hundred! They're all over the place! And crazily enough, people are getting famous off these things. Really, no kidding famous! So many of these fabulous food blogs are literally works of ART. And those bloggers work hard for those gorgeous pictures! But sometimes I can't help but feel a little discouraged when I look at them. Compared to their pictures and fancy ingredients, who would want to look at mine? Compared to their give-aways and networking, who is ever going to find my little blog fun and interesting?

I think most of us have had times when we felt "less-than". Whether we're comparing ourselves to others, to our as-yet-unachieved goals, or even to our own pasts, we feel like we just don't measure up. We're not as good as "that other". Who would care about us? Well guess what. SOMEONE cares, I guarantee it. Someone thinks you're completely awesome. Most likely quite a few someones! Friends, neighbors, children, spouses and significant others, cousins, grandparents, parents, co-workers... Heck, I think you're awesome! I'm not just saying that. If you like my blog enough to be reading it, then we've got to have something in common, and I bet we'd be great friends! Everyone has something to give, something special, something to contribute to life that no-one else can! My pictures may not be as gorgeous as I would like, but my food is yummy, and there is no one quite like ME out there. At least 200 of you think I'm spiffy. :) So rejoice in YOU, and go get a hug from whoever it is that thinks you're the greatest thing ever. And if you can't find them, drop me a line, and we'll be friends! Cuz I bet you're pretty spiffy too!

December 19, 2013

Gingerbread Muffins

"It's the most wonderful tiiiiiiiiiime of the year!"

I don't care what religion or non-religion or whatever you are, what holidays you celebrate or don't celebrate, this time of year feels special. Sure, there is a lot of commercialization, fixation on "stuff", and some people are still cranky and negative, but I would say in general there is a feeling toward the end of the year of excitement, love, and service. Wouldn't you? There are always plenty of negative things to find. I would rather dwell on the happy things. Like how much my boys enjoyed picking out toys for the toy drive, or how suddenly they're sharing SO much more. How I feel when I'm planning the gifts I'm giving, not getting. Especially gifts that involve yummy treats! I hope you're feeling all the joy of the holiday season, and finding lots of ways to share it, too! :)

December 18, 2013

Christmas Cranberry Chutney

This is it, my very first food photoshoot in my new kitchen!! The rest of it is a mess at the moment, I'm baking up everything I need for this week. I promise pictures soon. I might have to devote a whole post just to my kitchen... It is without a doubt my favorite part of my house!

December 17, 2013

Weekly Menu Dec 17

Source: alittlebitofsillinessreally

This week we have:
Christmas Treats!

Gingerbread Muffins
Eggnog Pecan Cookies
Christmas Chutney
1-Hour Cinnamon Rolls

For today, Dec 17 ...

December 9, 2013

Apple Cider Caramels

The old keys are turned in, the lease is paid out, the truck is returned and all the boxes are inside... WE'RE HOME!! Now it is time for the unpacking, organizing, rearranging and plan-making! Also a few squirrely internet issues to work out, so I'm going to take a week off to settle in. Sorry this post is a day late!! You'll love it anyway. I'll be back in a week with stories and pictures!

December 7, 2013

Small & Wonderful Things 37

Someone made this phone box a Doctor Who sweater (In Denver!)

December 5, 2013

Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies & Black's Bakeware Review

Gah, so much going on today! I need to clean out the fridge and microwave, clean bathrooms, take the boys shopping for a donation present for the concert tonight, make dinner, GO SING!!! Then tomorrow we pack all day, go sing again, and Saturday we're out of here! We really couldn't have picked a much worse weekend to move. The highs are only in the teens. We're going to all get frostbite. Oh well, it's worth it!! Sorry I don't have much cleverness today, my brain is too full to be clever! BUT I updated our family blog with pictures from our trip to DC, camping trip, and our Fall/Halloween week, plus a last summer adventure (look right before the football game). So you can go look at pictures while I rush around like a crazy person!

December 4, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower with Lime & Spices

Jeez louise, it is COLD! It's been a long time since I've seen single digit temperatures! Feels fantastic. Winter should feel like winter, don't you think?? The snow is falling thick and soft, slowly building... Not sure if we'll get all the way up to 15 inches, but it's definitely a Winter Wonderland! I'll take pictures tomorrow. :)

December 3, 2013

BBQ Chicken

This is it, folks! My Colorado snowstorm! We've gone from a winter storm watch to a winter storm warning, the snowfall forecast has gone from 3 inches to 6-15, temperatures below zero. Batten down the hatches, it starts tonight! Of course, me and my craziness can't wait. I just hope we make it home from dress rehearsal! You'd never know this was coming looking outside. It's nearly 50 degrees out and sunny at the moment. But the clouds coming over the mountain give a hint of the weather that will be here by tonight!

I mentioned last week some of my failings as a "true gourmet", one being funky bits of meat. Sometimes this extends to chicken still on the bone- all those tendons and cartilage and things. I will admit I would much rather have a boneless, skinless chicken breast 8 times out of ten. The problem with those bit-less pieces of meat is that they are SO easy to ruin! Dry, tough, tasteless, in no time. I've been looking for a good BBQ chicken oven recipe for years, and friends, this is IT!

December 2, 2013

Weekly Menu Dec 2

This week we have:
Amazing Oven BBQ Chicken 
Roasted Cauliflower with Lime & Spices
Apple Cider Caramels
Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies

For today, Dec 2 ...

November 25, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving-Week everyone! I hope you have wonderful plans, either to cook lots or let someone else do the cooking, visit family, entertain family, or have some time to yourself! I hope you eat lots of yummy food, count your blessings, and have a marvelous holiday. My week is pretty packed, so I won't be around to give you new recipes, however, I thought it would be fun to share some Thanksgiving-worthy recipes from last year! A breakfast idea, my favorite Thanksgiving rolls and sides, the Geologist's favorite pumpkin-alternative dessert, and a showstopper. Who knows, they might even inspire you this week!

I'm thankful for YOU. Happy Thanksgiving!!

November 24, 2013

Spiced Pear & Buttermilk Cake

It snowed, it snowed!! It is officially the holidays, truly feels festive, and we put up our Christmas tree! And I, as you can probably tell, am jumping for joy. In fact, the snow has stuck around for two whole days! It'll melt later this week. Finally, a real Colorado winter! 

I have the most marvelous memories of Colorado snowstorms... School canceled for a week, Christmas music playing non-stop, hot chocolate and jigsaw puzzles, baking treats and playing games, movies and popcorn and laughs... It was always best if Dad got to stay home from work too! A few times we had real no-kidding blizzards, and you couldn't see past the windows. Makes staying inside even cozier! In Colorado, a White Christmas is always a possibility!

November 23, 2013

Small & Wonderful Things 36

Snowflakes... Especially when they actually LOOK like snowflakes, not balls of ice :)

Skinny jeans that fit, look great, and are comfy!

Sparkly Fall-colored Uggs! *giggle*

Planning our Thanksgiving menu

Bittersweet. I used to gather it from roadsides in Missouri to put in vases. So pretty!
Source: sutton15445

Listening to the Nutcracker

Fluffy seeds, just like the ones in Fantasia!

Camera phones with great macro :)

New glasses

School and work holidays!

November 21, 2013

Apple & Cheddar Scones

I think it is pretty clear that I love food. I would say that food occupies... oh, 70 % of my thoughts during the day? Yeah, that sounds about right. There are a few things I get passionate and snobby about. Instant potatoes? Ew. Tater tot casserole? Not in my house! Quickbreads from a box? Not anymore! (Although during my first pregnancy I kind of lived on boxed muffins... leave me alone! I couldn't keep anything down!)

But on the flip side, there are a few things that true "gourmets" or "foodies" seem to take for granted that I just plain can't handle. First: odd bits of meat. Call it offal, call it whatever you want, I can't eat it. Second: Cilantro and parsley (as a garnish). I wish I could, but I can't! Third: I have a very, VERY hard time mixing sweet and savory. Gives me the heebie jeebies. But what does a good foodie do? Try new things!! This may be a teeny tiny baby step, but mixing cheese and apples in a scone... Could have been risky for wimpy little me! Guess what... I loved them!!

November 19, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Biscotti

The Geologist and I went to an Ugly Sweater party a few days ago. When we arrived bearing cookies (you always bring something to a party, right?) a friend asked, "What? No Biscotti??" Yup, I am the biscotti lady. But I was in the midst of experimenting with a cookie recipe (that will be shown later) so it was cookies this time. These pumpkin biscotti became a housewarming present for another friend. In the midst of all the cookie and biscotti baking (and tasting), I was reminded of a realization I had a few months ago...

I will never be skinny. 

I could, it is within my power. Through exercise and motivation with my awesome trainer, I'm in better shape than I have been since I was a teenager! I can DO things now! But there are two sides to the fitness coin: exercise and DIET. I refuse to diet. Eat healthier, sure! Have healthy meals, no problem! But then I bake biscotti. Or muffins, or scones... I can't give that up. I can't be the person at a Christmas party who only snacks from the veggie tray. I love my treats too much!! So who cares if I never fit into a size 6 again, or never have rock-hard abs. I make a mean biscotti! And biscotti makes me happy. :)

November 18, 2013

Weekly Menu Nov 18

Source: blissfulinallthings

This week we have:
Pumpkin Pie Biscotti
Apple Cheddar Scones
Spiced Pear & Buttermilk Cake

For today, Nov 18 ...

November 9, 2013

Such is life...

Sorry friends, whatever this bug is, it has me down for the count. I'll see you next week with biscotti, egg rolls and scones!

November 7, 2013

Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats

Bleh... I'm on day 4 of being sick. This hasn't happened to me in years! Usually I catch a bug, it rages through in 24 hours and I'm good. This low-achy-fever-for-days thing is just not cool. Luckily, The Geologist has been around to take care of me! The days of being chained to work (or school) are over! The boys have been super sweet too. So I think I'll live :)

The one good side effect of having zero appetite? Shaving off a few pounds! Though I will admit, if these were still hanging around my kitchen, I think I could find a teensy bit of an appetite...

November 5, 2013

Weekly Menu Nov 5

Source: northwudzgirl

This week we have:
Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats

For today, Nov 5 ...

November 3, 2013

Cranberry Almond White Chocolate Blondies

The Geologist is madly in love with his company. And to be honest, I'm awfully fond of them too. They're extremely family oriented, he works with great people, and there are constant opportunities to serve others. One day he got paid to go bowling for charity. All day. He's had two days of working with Habitat for Humanity. Just in place of a normal work day. How cool is that?? Last month they had a week long series of fundraiser events for , including a cake decorating competition, a chili and ribs cook-off, and an 80's prom. I signed up (obviously) for the bake sale! I made a whole batch of Brown Sugar Coffee Bars (which are a huge hit around his office) but I just wasn't satisfied with only bringing one option, so I whipped these together too. Every single bite sold, and I helped raise over 40$! Food and helping people. Doesn't get much more awesome than that!

November 2, 2013

Small and Wonderful... House Pictures!!

Want to see our new house?! I'll give you a tour! Now that we officially own it, I can show you pictures!

November 1, 2013

My Favorite Banana Nut Bread

Source: Pinterest

Happy November!! And in our house, happy first day of the Christmas season! I may have mentioned before, we're a little nuts about Christmas in this house. The Christmas music and festivity and anticipation starts now. Thanksgiving is just wrapped up in the fun of "The Holidays". Now to find a radio station that is playing Christmas music already... We're on pins and needles around here, our sellers are negotiating on a house, and if it goes through, we'll be moving at the beginning of December! Christmas in the new house! Oh, did I forget to mention? WE BOUGHT A HOUSE ON WEDNESDAY!! We are officially home-owners! Too bad someone else still lives in our home... But it is truly worth the wait. 

What about you? How crazy (or not) do you get about Christmas in your house? Do you wait till December to get a tree, no Christmas-ness before Thanksgiving? Or are there other holiday nuts out there?

Speaking of nuts...

October 31, 2013

Perfect Lemon Herb Roast Chicken

I've been on a mission. Perfect roast chicken. The criteria: TONS of flavor, and not just on the top quarter inch of meat, juicy, easy, and crispy skin. My favorite chicken recipe of all time is my French Chicken, but I needed a classic too. I tried a few, and each time came a step closer... I combined a few different techniques and finally, success! The best roast chicken I have ever made!! It was so good I literally danced around the kitchen. The Geologist still isn't fully satisfied, he wants me to experiment with injecting... *rolling eyes* but that would defeat the purpose! Say it with me: Simple. Classic. 

Enjoy! We did :)

October 29, 2013

Creamy Steel-Cut Oatmeal

I found the coolest thing waiting in my mailbox for me this morning!!
Isn't it awesome?? It's my new phone case! My friend Beth does henna, and is expanding to decorating items for her Etsy shop, Henna By Beth. She was so nice to get me exactly the same phone case I already have (because I am in love with it) and decorate it for me! I now own a one-of-a-kind work of art! She's adding lots to her store these days, from baby clothes to canvases to Christmas ornaments. I go through and browse every couple of days... I'm eyeing a few things... Go check it out!

October 28, 2013

Weekly Menu Oct 28

Source: My Paisley World

This week we have:
Creamy Steel-Cut Oatmeal
Perfect Lemon Herb Roast Chicken
Banana Nut Bread
Cranberry Almond White Chocolate Blondies

For today, Oct 28 ...

October 27, 2013

French Toast Muffins

I know, you didn't get a Chicken Rice Soup post, but honestly, the more I looked at the pictures the less I could stomach posting them. They're awful. So I'll just have to make it again, darn!! It's currently our favorite soup, so you shouldn't have to wait too long.

Anyone have a rake we can borrow?? We want to go to the park and rake leaves to jump in. Living in apartments forever does not lend itself to owning yard implements. And we really need to go somewhere other than here to rake leaves, seeing as how every square foot of ground here is some dog's bathroom... which is a shame, because we are developing some awesome piles. Oh well, this is our LAST FALL without our own yard!! We can suffer through! Our Halloween week has gone swimmingly, even with an overly expensive corn maze that only ended up being about waist high... at least we got hayrides and funnel cake out of it. The boys got such a haul at the trunk-or-treat last night that I can comfortably skip neighborhood trick-or-treating on Halloween. We'll have a spooky movie night or something. I promise to get pictures from my DC trip and our Halloween adventures up by the end of the week. Happy Halloween everyone!!

October 26, 2013

Small & Wonderful Things 35

AVALANCHE TERRITORY!!! :) I could be a pro-hockey fan. Really, I could. 

 Besides, they have nachos!

October 24, 2013

Better-Than-Olive-Garden Breadsticks

Oh heavens on earth, I can't wait to move. I know, I know, I say it all the time these days, I apologize! But seriously folks, I am losing my light over here!! All my pictures are turning blue! Sigh. They still look infinitely better than they used to. And I still love my camera. And we close on our house next week! So there is much to be thankful for!

Speaking of things to be thankful for, my Grandma passed away today. That sounds horrible, but it isn't. She's had dementia and medical issues and has been miserable for years. She hasn't known her sons (My dad) for a while now, and while we're sad she's gone, we're relieved that she is no longer hurting. She is with her other two sons, her husband, and lots of family now, and we will see her again! I am grateful for that. 

I've made these tasty little things twice in the past week, and am making them again tomorrow. They're that good

October 22, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Vanilla Spice Buttercream

My "ittle bittle" is 6 years old!! His new favorite nickname is "green bean", because he's getting so tall and skinny and his favorite color is green and he LOVES beans. 
My Grandma is awesome. She tries her darndest to send out an email with pictures and "blurbs" on every birthday in our whole extended family. She was having computer trouble the night before Joe's, so my Mom took over. Hers was so awesome I simply can't improve on it, so I'm borrowing it!

"The Man of the Hour is Joester, Joebee, or JoeMoe...but just don't call him Jojo, or you'll be ignored, or corrected! He may be small... Only six years old today, but he's larger than life inside. He's pretty intense, and passionate (wonder where he got all that from? *cough cough* parents *cough) He is a musician, and artist, and a great hiker. 
He passed his first parent teacher conference with flying colors, and so it looks like Kindergarten is going to keep him. 

Not even being born waaaay too early could stop this little Mr. Man. He fought for his life six years ago, and has been sucking the marrow out of it ever since. 
*In case you can't tell, Grandma Garney loves her grandson, and can't wait to have lots of hikes with him in Colorado and Utah for years to come."

Happy Birthday Joe!
Now of course, because the boy is obsessed with pumpkins, he demanded a pumpkin cake. Lucky for him, he was born in October!