Monday, October 31, 2011

Rodeo Fest

Many churches have Halloween alternative parties.  Our church had theirs last night-Rodeo Fest.  It was huge-tons of events, tons of people (people had to park a long ways away and walk in), candy, and rodeo animals.  I took over 300 pictures.  I've narrowed them down to these:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Race Day!

Today was the Matam Project 5K.  I had been preparing for it, and then stopped when my eczema got out of hand.  About the time I recovered from that, allergies hit, which kept me out of training even more.  About that time I recovered from my allergies, I had a friend that was attacked in her apartment parking lot.  This made me feel like running at 4:30 in the morning was not safe, and so I just quit training.  I probably should join a gym, but haven't yet.  My point is-I was in no way ready to run a 5K, but I wanted to support this cause, so I still attended, but walked the event.  I didn't even check to see what my official time was, but it took a little less than an hour.  Oh, and it was 37 degrees this morning! 

Here are some pictures from the event:
The boys and me with a friend before the race
 30 seconds before the start
My youngest taking off at the lead of the pack (courtesy of Amy Farley).

My youngest won 3rd place in his category.  His time was 29:51.
 Here we are about to cross the finish line.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pumpkin Cake Cookies

I have been seeing lots of recipes that involve a box of cake mix and a can of pumpkin lately.  Some are for cookies, and others are for muffins or cupcakes.  Some use only the 2 main ingredients, and others add some additional ingredients.  However, when I was searching for a recipe for cookies today, I couldn't find one-I probably gave up too soon.  I decided that I could re-create the recipe on my own.

I put all of the following into my mixer and stirred until it was combined:
1 box white cake mix (18.25 oz)
1 can pumpkin (15 oz)
1/2 tbsp apple pie spice
1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar
After it was mixed well, I added about 2 cups of walnuts.

The batter was thinner than cookie batter, but thicker than cake batter.  I used spoons to scoop the batter onto the cookie sheets, and then baked it for 10-11 minutes at 350.  They turned out really good, but I hesitate to call them "cookies" because they are so cake-like.

A Bacon Cheeseburger with What?!?!

I was introduced to Red Robin about five years ago.  They have great burgers and amazing fries.  One thing that I have always seen on the menu is their signature burger-the Royal Red Robin Burger.  It comes with bacon, cheese, mayonnaise, lettuce, and.... a fried EGG!  I have always thought it sounded completely disgusting, and never ordered it.  No one I have ever been there with has ever ordered it either.

Yesterday I was in the mood for their french fries, so I asked a couple friends to go there for lunch with me.  I normally order the barbecue burger, but since I was basically only there for the fries, and feeling adventuresome, I decided to go for it and try the burger.  I figured if it was completely gross I could always take the egg off.
The result:  LOVED it!  So much that, the next time I go to Red Robin, I will order it again, rather than my normal barbecue burger.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Blondies

Last night as I was figuring out what kind of cookies to make today, my husband requested his favorite-White Chocolate Macadamia Nut.  I didn't have a recipe for those, so I went to and did a search for those cookies.  I told to pick out which ever cookies he wanted based upon looks alone.  He chose these, which are a bar cookie.

I had to make a trip to the grocery store to pick up the white chocolate and macadamia nuts this morning, and then I got started.  The first step was to toast the macadamia nuts for 5-10 minutes.  I figured 10 minutes would be good since I had just turned on the oven and it was still preheating.  When the timer went off, the macadamia nuts were burned, so I headed back to the grocery store for round two.

This time when I got back home, things mostly went according to plan.  I may have added a little too much almond extract, but other than that, I followed the recipe very closely.  My hubby loved them!
Here is the recipe as found on the Crepes of Wrath blog:

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Blondies

1/2 pound (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups white chocolate chips
1 cup macadamia nuts, toasted and roughly chopped
Turbinado sugar (for garnish/sprinkling – optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Chop your macadamia nuts and place them on a baking sheet. Toast in a 350 degree F oven for 5-10 minutes, until golden and fragrant. Allow to cool before using.
2. Cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until a smooth batter is formed (this should take 3-5 minutes). While the machine is running, add the eggs, the vanilla extract, and almond extract (if you’re using it), until incorporated into the batter.
3. Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Slowly add the flour mixture to the batter and mix on low speed just until a dough is formed (don’t over-beat!). Either by hand (literally) or with a big spoon or spatula, fold the nuts and chips into the dough.
4. Once the dough is all blended, line and/or grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with Pam. Spread the batter into the pan with a greased spatula or just use your hands to press the dough in (this is what I did) and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until set and lightly golden (this may even take 40 minutes, so just keep an eye on them!). Allow to cool completely in the pan before cutting. Store in an air-tight container.

Button Earrings

Last week I made a button necklace and 2 matching button bracelets, but I wanted matching earrings.  As I have stated before, I am not a crafty person, and had no idea where to begin.  My first thought involved a hot glue gun and arranging 3 buttons similar to a snowman shape.  I got on pinterest, and looked at some pictures and saw that most involved wire, so I decided that was a better way to go.  I bought a few tools from Michael's, along with wire, and fish hook style earrings.
My first try turned out pitiful.  I quickly disassembled them so that there was no evidence of my lack of creativity.  I checked out youtube, and found 2 videos.  The first explained to me how to use the tools I bought.
The second video was a tutorial which explained how to make earrings with buttons.  It goes really quick, so I had to rewind and pause a few times, but it explained the process very well.
I made 2 styles of earrings, one to match my necklace/bracelet set, and another pair for my 4 year old niece who is visiting for a few days.  I am very pleased with the results.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

State Fair Fun

It's been over a week, and I just realized I never blogged about the State Fair of Texas.  Yes, I know I blogged about the food, but not about the fair itself.  I didn't get any pictures of the Jeeps and Dodges, but we spent most of our time looking at the new cars.  (Although I am sure my hubby got plenty pictures of the Jeeps.)  

This log home is carved out of a Giant Redwood.  So cool!

 Here is the bed inside.
 Fountain and light show
 Of course, Big Tex is always at Fair Park to greet everyone.
 And we love the giant ferris wheel.

Lots Happening in Youth

Last night we had a wonderful night in Youth Service!  We had a band out from the local college, the students really got into praise and worship, my hubby preached a message that really motivated a lot of the students to come forward for prayer, and we were surprised by a wonderful Pastor Appreciation card and snacks.  Such a great evening!  We love our youth and our leaders!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Away Game

My youngest son had an away game tonight.  They lost 8-6, but it was a hard fought game, and they gave all they had.  Proud of them for trying so hard!


While dinner was in the oven, I tried to figure out what vegetable to cook to go with the chicken spaghetti. The vegetable is almost always an after-thought when I am cooking.  When my hubby got home I asked him if he wanted corn or lima beans. "Both." I hadn't had succotash in a really long time.  It was simple to prepare: open a can of corn and a can of lima beans (I used Trappey's with bacon). Chop up a little onion and a little tomato. Add some butter and some caldo de pollo (you could probably use regular chicken base if you didn't have any). And of course salt and pepper.  Wait for it to boil and its ready. Yum! It really hit the spot!

Chicken Spaghetti

I took off half a day at work today, so I figured I may as well cook dinner.  I decided on chicken spaghetti, which is something I really like, but have never actually cooked myself. I found a recipe the way I always do-by searching online.  I used boneless skinless chicken breasts in place of the cut up pieces called for in the recipe.  I left out the green pepper and pimientos, since we didn't have any at the house. Taste-wise I don't think it mattered much, but presentation-wise it was lacking in color, and would have helped. Other than that, the only change I made was to grill the onions before adding them into the recipe because I don't like what tastes like raw (or nearly raw) onion in otherwise fully cooked food.  I think that was a good call.  The final product: great flavor, but a little dry. I probably should have added a 3rd can of cream of mushroom, or a can of cream of chicken. I will definitely add it to my list to cook again.  The recipe as it appears in the Pioneer Woman blog is below.
  • 2 cups Cooked Chicken
  • 3 cups Dry Spaghetti, Broken Into Two Inch Pieces
  • 2 cans Cream Of Mushroom Soup
  • 2 cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Finely Diced Green Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Finely Diced Onion
  • 1 jar (4 Ounce) Diced Pimentos, Drained
  • 2 cups Reserved Chicken Broth From Pot
  • 1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon (to 1/4 Teaspoon) Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup Additional Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Preparation Instructions

Cook 1 cut up fryer and pick out the meat to make two cups. Cook spaghetti in same chicken broth until al dente. Do not overcook. When spaghetti is cooked, combine with remaining ingredients except additional 1 cup sharp cheddar.
Place mixture in casserole pan and top with remaining sharp cheddar. Cover and freeze up to six months, cover and refrigerate up to two days, or bake immediately: 350 degrees for 45 minutes until bubbly. (If the cheese on top starts to get too cooked, cover with foil).

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fried Okra

Tonight I made dinner-red beans and rice, cornbread, and okra.  The okra was from our garden-back when we picked it, I sliced it up and put it in the freezer. Tonight I pulled it out of the freezer, and thawed it in the microwave for about a minute.  I found a fried okra recipe online, and it turned out great!  I have made okra a handful of times in my life, and it has never been great-just okay.  Tonight, I think it was actually great!  The main difference-I think I used cornmeal my other tries, but tonight's recipe called for corn masa flour.

Here is the recipe from theitsnoteasyeatinggreen website:

Fried Okra
serves 4
Corn flour or masa harina is widely available, in particular the brand Maseca. If you cannot find corn flour you can use corn meal.
2 cups okra, cut into half inch pieces (about one bag frozen)
½ cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup corn flour (masa harina)
½ cup all-purpose flour
oil for frying
In a small bowl, combine cut okra, salt, pepper and buttermilk.
Let sit for about five minutes then drain into a strainer. In another larger bowl combine corn flour and flour.
Toss okra into flour mixture. Working with your hands or a fork, separate the pieces of okra so that all the pieces get covered. Depending on how wet your okra is, you may need to add a little more flour and/or corn flour.
Heat one inch of oil in a large heavy-duty pan over medium-high heat. Test the oil by adding one piece of okra; it should bubble immediately as soon as you add it to the pot (350 F).
When the oil is hot, add the okra (you may need to cook it in two batches). Fry, occasionally rotating until light golden brown.
Remove to a pan lined with newspaper and paper towels. Lightly salt and serve hot. You can fry the okra ahead of time then heat it up in a hot oven for five minutes right before serving. A convection oven is very helpful if you want to get it back to the original crispiness.

I followed the recipe pretty closely other than:  I used milk rather than buttermilk, and I added some Chachere's seasoning to the flour mixture.  I also used the deep fryer.  Yum!  I will use this recipe again!

World Series

We have been cheering on the Texas Rangers all year, and especially this post season!  There have been so many exciting games, and we are hoping they can finish out the series victorious.  Go Rangers!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Welcome Baby Hayden!

My friend had her baby boy on Friday, and we were able to go visit them in the hospital today.  Hayden is such a precious boy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011


I have spent a good part of the last 2 days exploring pinterest.  It has already stirred my creativity.  And it will probably cost me money if I keep finding little projects to do-lol!  Here are a couple things I have found.

There are funny things (no I do not plan to make these)...
 Letterboxing ideas...
Craft Ideas...
and that is just the beginning!  I'm looking forward to see more of what is posted.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Button Jewelry

I was looking at pinterest today, and came across some button bracelets that were really cute.  I am not a creative or crafty person, and generally speaking, doing anything the least bit crafty does not interest me at all.  (I think my hubby was a little shocked when I told him I needed to go to Wal-Mart for some craft supplies.)  But I decided I really must have one, and so I figured I better learn how to make them.  Youtube is always my go-to when I need to learn how to do something.  Sure enough-there was a how-to video just for me!  I had enough buttons to make 2 bracelets and a necklace, and I love how they turned out!  Now I need to figure out how to make some matching earrings.

Here is the video that helped me learn how to make the bracelet.

Finding a Location

Sometimes it is easier than others to locate a spot to place a letterbox.  Historical places tend to be popular choices.  Today I decided to look for a location to place a letterbox in Waxahachie. Rogers Street is home to the Waxahachie Railroad Depot.

 Across the street from the depot is the Rogers Street Bridge, built in 1889.  It is now part of the Waxahachie Hike & Bike Trail.

 Along the Hike & Bike Trail is another historic bridge, built in 1931 and still in operation today.

I found a great location not too far beyond this spot.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Cat Who...

I found myself with a bit of free time today, so I figured I would head out to find "The Cat Who...", which is based on a book series.  I quickly located the park, and the bush, grabbed the box, and was gone in no time.  This truly is a drive by box.  It was The Earthlings first plant, and I thought they did a great job on their carve.