Saturday, January 28, 2012

what's been cooking

So, I don't love to cook.  Or, let me rephrase that.  I just don't love to cook when I get home from work at 5:45 and I'm starving and just want something on the table.  Hence, the frozen pizza that seems to always make it's way into my cart in the grocery store.   But, on the weekends it's a different story.  On Saturday mornings I always make breakfast for our family.  It's never exactly "figure-friendly" but the boys don't care and it's a nice little change after eating cereal or oatmeal all week.  So, we splurge.  Usually we have pancakes (topped with peanut butter, of course) but this morning I decided to do something different.  I found a recipe for Easy French Toast Casserole here (thanks Laura!).  It was so easy and turned out pretty well.  Here's the recipe (I'll add a few comments at the end):

Ingredient Checklist
1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
1 cup brown sugar
1 loaf Texas toast
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Powdered sugar for sprinkling

1. Melt butter in microwave & add brown sugar....stir till mixed.
2. Pour butter/sugar mix into bottom of 9 x 13 pan
3. Beat eggs, milk, & vanilla
4. Lay single layer of Texas Toast in pan
5. Spoon 1/2 of egg mixture on bread layer
6. Add 2nd layer of Texas Toast
7. Spoon on remaining egg mixture
8. Cover & chill in fridge overnight
9. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes
10. Sprinkle with powdered sugar
11. Serve with warm maple syrup

*I cut the recipe in half and it was a perfect amount for the four of us.  I also used regular old Whitewheat bread and it worked just fine. Next time, I would use less egg mixture between the layers of bread because it turned out a little soggy in the middle.  Also, I added a little bit of cinnamon on top of both bread layers.  Overall, it was yummy!

Here's my finished product:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Just call me Martha Stewart...

I have always enjoyed to be a bit crafty and domestic.  Maybe that's why I enjoy cake decorating so much!  A few months ago I discovered Pinterest.  Oh. My.  Gosh.  What fabulous craft/diy ideas!!!  I was so inspired that I asked Chris to get me a sewing machine for Christmas.  So, this post is going to be dedicated to some of my lastest projects :)

1) First I'll post my cake that I made for this weekend.  My step-sister in law Jenna is having a baby girl, Blakely Monroe, in March.  Over the past year I have had the pleasure of making her bachelorette cake, wedding cake, and now her baby shower cake.  The shower had an owl theme so I re-created the cake I made back in August for another baby momma to be.  Here are a few pics:

2) Sticking with the baby theme, here are some pictures of the burp cloths and bib I made for Jenna's shower.  I found both the ideas on Pinterest.  These were my first sewing projects and both turned out better than I expected! 

3) If you have ever been in my house, you know that our living room has a "Maine" theme.  We got a really nice Bulova clock for our wedding and for a while it sat on our mantle.  But, about a year ago, it stopped working.  I had nothing to replace it with on the mantle so I just left it there.  But, thanks to Pinterest, I found an idea to replace it.  You see, on our first trip to Maine as a married couple we found a starfish (actually I think my nephew found it for us).  We brought it back to NC and let it dry out.  It has been sitting on the mantle among the seashells.  But, now it's our centerpiece!  This was the easiest project.  I just took a plain old pictures frame, wrapped the glass in scrapbook paper, and hot glued the starfish in the middle.  Voila!  A centerpiece for the mantle that I just love!

Stay tuned...I'm sure there will be more Pinterest projects and cakes to come soon!

Friday, January 20, 2012

a special friend...

When I moved to North Carolina 5 and 1/2 years ago I didn't know a soul.  I'll be honest, it was really hard to be so far away from my family, friends, and basically everything that I know. But, eight months after I moved here I had the opportunity to become roommates with Alison...see one of my favorite pictures of her below :)

It was really a "God" thing because, even though we hardly knew each other when I moved in, finding a friend like her is rare.  She has been a very special part of my life.  We have gone through a lot in life together- shedding tears together after dating the wrong people, meeting/dating our husbands (the right people!), getting engaged 3 weeks apart, and getting married 3 weeks apart.  But, honestly, it all seems like it happened yesterday.  And now, I am so excited for her and Paul, because in 5 months they are going to bring a precious baby boy into this world!  Gray Christopher is going to be one lucky little boy to have parents like you.  Please please please let his "aunt" Abbie spoil him a little bit :)
I'm so happy for you Al and I love that sweet little boy already!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Florida 2012

Disclaimer:  This blog post is quite long.  If you don't make it through, I competely understand.  If you do, well, bless you.

I've been meaning to blog about our trip to Florida before this but I've been reading The Hunger Games trilogy.  Enough said.
Sooo, for the past year or so my family has been planning a trip to Orlando.  Our reason for going was to run the Disney World Half Marathon.  This was a very special race for my family and me.  First of all, my dad asked that our family run it in celebration of his 60th birthday (on the 21st).  Let me just say how incredibly proud I am to have a father that runs almost every single day (and way farther than I can imagine running on a daily basis!).  It's no wonder I went into the field of Exercise Science, it's been modeled to me my whole life.  But I digress.  The second reason for running this race was to celebrate something else.  One year ago (on the 28th) my father had a major sugery to remove his prostate and beat cancer.  So, I think even more than a 60th birthday, we celebrated health and life!  But, more about the race later.
We decided a few months ago that we would take the boys to Florida with us.  Believe me, this wasn't without some serious deliberation.  We had no idea how two little boys would handle a 10 hour drive each way.  But, they did fabulous.  They had their moments (like any kids would) but, for the most part, they entertained themselves with their trucks, "computers", and with the help of Chris' DVD player (if I never see Cars 2 again, it will be too soon!).
We started out for our trip on Sunday, Jan 1st.  We stayed the night in Jacksonville and then finished the drive on Monday morning.  My parents flight got delayed so we didn't meet up with them until about 2pm.  We had a late lunch and then made our way to the condo and settled in for the day.
On Tuesday we ventured to Magic Kindgom.  It it worth noting that Florida was having a bit of a cold spell and the high that day was only around 50 degrees.  So, as much as we wanted to complain about being cold, we really couldn't because it kept the crowds down.  We only had to wait in line for one ride.  We did learn that one of the boys is terrified of the dark.  Have you ever heard a child scream through the Peter Pan ride?  Or Winnie the Pooh? Well, we have.  The boys favorite ride was the go-karts in Tomorrow Land that they could actually drive.  Well sort of drive, their feet didn't reach the pedals.  So, they steered, we did the accelerating.  The boys were doing so well that we decided to stay for the fireworks and I am SO glad we did.  The castle was beautiful and the fireworks were great!

Wednesday and Thursday we spent at Sea World.  The boys really enjoyed it, they love animals!  My favorite part of it was "petting" the dolphins.  You really just stick your hand in the water and hope that one comes to you.  A few came our way but I think only Chris actually touched one.  The boys loved the cat and dog show.  I mean, come on, who doesn't love animals doing silly tricks?  Sea World also has a whole section of kids rides with no lines (again, it was a bit chilly) so we spent quite a bit of time there.  We had a really great two days.

On Friday we went over to ESPN's Wide World of Sports to pick up all our race info and then spent the rest of the day lounging around the pool.  It warmed up substantially for the last few days so we actually got some sun.  I think the boys favorite part of the entire trip was playing in the pool!  They loved it and had absolutely no fear when it comes to water (even though they can't swim...I was a nervous wreck!).
Saturday was race day.  We had to be at the starting line by 5am so we got up at 3:45 and were in the car just after 4am.  My mom was a mess that morning (sorry Mom but it's true).  She had never run a half marathon before and really wasn't sure how she was going to fare.  I made the really hard decision to run on my own instead of with my parents (I'm a bit too competitive with myself).  My dad so graciously stayed with my mom the entire race even though it wasn't his first go around with a half.
Anyways, the race turned out great.  It is a flat race which is always nice and the weather was pretty perfect.  I finished in 2:06.  I'm pretty sure this is my slowest half time ever but I was pleased with it since I really didn't have time to train now that I'm playing "mommy"!  I found my way to the grandstands to watch for my parents.  My mom wanted to run it in under than 3:00 so I was ecstatic when they came across the line at 2:51.  Way to go Mom!!!  She ran almost the entire race.  She had never ran more than 8 miles so I was SO proud of her.  She has the bug now and can't wait to run another!  Let's get a race on the calendar Mom!

We had a fabulous trip and it was really really hard to leave my parents on Sunday.  It just warmed my heart to see them with the boys.  I already knew that parents were fantastic grandparents (the best really).  And even those these boys are not technically their grandchildren, they treated them with nothing but love and spoiled them rotten.  I'm pretty sure that the tears that were shed when we left by my parents were more for those two little boys than for Chris and me.  But, I'm ok with that.  My parents have huge hearts and I'm so thankful.  I love you both!
I'm already looking forward to our next vacation!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

In case you're wondering...

In case you're wondering...long hair and remote control cars don't mix.  Let me put this into context.  On Monday night, I was on the phone with my mom and Chris was making dinner.  In other words, the boys weren't getting much attention.  So, I guess to get my attention, one of them took his Lightning McQueen remote control car, put it on my head, and turned it on.  The combination of spinning tires and free-flowing hair was not pretty (I do not have any pictures...that was not my main concern at the time). Chris and I spent at least 15 minutes trying to free my mane from the tire but it was no use.  In the end, we had to cut the chunk out of the tire.  Let's just say I now have some bangs where I didn't before.  Ok, it's really not that noticeable but at the time I was convinced I was going to look like this kid:

So, if you have a child who owns a remote control car, please, for your own sake, keep it away from your hair!

Monday, January 9, 2012

wedding/baby shower cake

I made this cake more than a week ago but we have been out of town so my blogging has been limited.  I will blog about our Florida vacation in a few days but for now I'll just post a few pictures of this cake.  A friend of mine asked me to make a cake for her cousin who got married and then had a baby boy...but she lives in Hawaii so they were throwing her a shower for both while she was home.  So, I had to be a bit creative in getting both themes on the cake.  I was happy with the final it is!