Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ina Garten's Carrot and Pineapple Cake

This is my go-to recipe for Carrot Cake.  It's Ina Garten's recipe and I usually leave out the raisins and walnuts since most people I know don't like those ingredients.  It's a wonderful carrot cake recipe that is moist and tasty!  

Carrot and Pineapple Cake
recipe from Ina Garten

Ingredients for the cake:
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 pound carrots, grated
1/2 cup diced pineapple
1 cup raisins (optional)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Ingredients for the frosting:
3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound confectioner's sugar

Preheat over to 350.

LINE the bottom of 2 round cake pans with parchment paper, and then grease and flour the pans.  

Beat the sugar, oil and eggs together with a stand mixer until light yellow, and add the vanilla.  In another bowl mix the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until blended.  If you are using the raisins and walnuts, toss with 1 tablespoon of flour before adding to the batter.  Fold in the carrots and pineapple and mix well.

Divide the batter equally between the 2 pans and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting.  I usually stick my layers in the freezer to make frosting easier!  

Cream Cheese Frosting:
mix the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of your mixer until combined.  Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost your cake and ENJOY!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New Camera

Landon and I gave each other (ok really more for me) a camera for Christmas this year.  I have been wanting a DSLR for about a year now and am super excited to learn how to take better photos with it.  I purchased a Canon T3 from Amazon - they have a fantastic deal right now here. It is very basic, but perfect for what I need it for!  

UPS dropped our package off at 9 p.m. and these were some of the first shots I took with the camera.  I just couldn't wait for the girls to wake up the following morning for a little "photo shoot"!  Many of you asked how I have learned some of the different techniques such as "bokeh".  I have been searching articles online and pinning to my Photography Board on Pinterest.  You can follow my board and we can all learn together!!!!

Here are my sweet girls the next morning on a cloudy and chilly day!  We had such a good time, even if Lauren wasn't in the picture-taking mood!  

Over the weekend we took the girls out to take a few more pictures.  I Love how sweet Brooke looks holding the picture frame. 

This is one of my favorite photos so far!  This is sweet Lauren in front of (about 8 feet) our Christmas tree.  I love the "bokeh" in the background, but most of all I love her sweet face and those dark brown eyes. 

I have been working on the layout/appearance of the blog the last few days.  A big thanks to my friend emily for helping fix my template and creating the pages up top.  I have a tab designated for recipes, and my plan is to move all the recipes from This Hungry Mama over here so I won't have to keep track of both blogs.  :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

12 days of giving

We are halfway through our 12 days of giving!  The girls and I have really enjoyed finding creative ways to give to other people this Christmas.  God has given us SO many blessings and I want to teach the girls how to be a blessing to others.  It's a tradition I hope to continue every Christmas.  You can read about what we did last year here.   My hope is that this post will inspire you to give outside of your "comfort zone" and to be a blessing to someone around you!  I can guarantee it will make them smile!!!  

day 1 - lily & lauren stuffed the mailbox with puppy chow for our favorite mail lady.

day 2 - we got a little snack basket together for a local owasso policeman.  they are all posted at different intersections around our shopping areas during the weekends, so it was easy to find someone who needed a snack!

day 3 - brooke gave these sweet socks to a special little baby.

day 4 - we bought lunch for the car behind us in the drive-thru.

day 5 - ups comes to our door at least 3 times a week thanks to thirty-one & amazon.  we left some cookies on the porch for him!

day 6 - excited to take these donuts to the church office staff this morning before school!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lily & Lauren Update

I can't believe it.  December 10th marked Lily & Lauren's half birthday making them TWO & A HALF!  Wow - I can't believe it - I still try to rock them to sleep and call them babies but they are growing SO quickly.  I'm so thankful for them and believe it or not, I am STILL in awe every time I think about the fact that they are twins.  It's amazing to see them growing up together.  They have their own little personalities but are always looking out for one another (and Brooke!).  

 Lauren is always VERY affectionate to Lily and gives out kisses and hugs freely!  Landon and I gave each other a camera last week for Christmas.  I a SO excited to have something to capture these special moments.  

Lily loves her baby - she doesn't leave home without her.  She loves boots, meat, singing, playing the guitar and dancing.  She is very loving and my favorite thing that she does is when she wraps her arms around me and plays with the back of my neck.  

Lauren is a little more on the crazy side.  She follows Brooke wherever she goes and that little dimple on her left cheek makes her look even more mischievous than she already is.  :)  She loves shoes, carbs, singing, jumping on the bed and spanking her own bottom.  ha ha.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chalk Paint Basics

Well I am FINALLY getting on here to write a post on my favorite paint product...Annie Sloan Chalk Paint!  You are going to cringe as soon as I tell you the price tag is $38 per 32 ounce can!  YIKES!  I can tell you that this product is worth every penny.  There is no sanding, priming or prepping (besides cleaning the surface) before painting with this "magic" paint.  I have painted wood, fake wood, metal and plastic with great success!  It goes a very long way, and saves you lots of time, frustration and energy.  It requires a coat of wax on top, but that can be purchased for under $10 and will last you FOREVER!  Here are some examples of how far one can of paint can go...

All these pieces were painted with one can of the "old white".  Dining room table, 5 chairs, buffet  chandelier, bathroom vanity, windowpane and several other little items!  The dining room table and buffet were craigslist treasures, and I LOVE how they turned out!

These pieces were painted with one can of "duck egg blue".  windowpane, piano, chest, bathroom vanity and an antique vanity (which I haven't finished yet!).   It's my favorite color - just a beautiful antique blue!

Here's what you need:

This is what the Chalk Paint looks like.  Go HERE to find a stockist near you.  I have used both the Annie Sloan soft wax and the Minwax finishing wax.  They are both great products, but I really love the minwax because it is under $10 and I have barely made a dent in the can.  It protects and gives your furniture a beautifully finished look.  

I usually paint one coat on the furniture and then paint a second coat that is thinned out with water make the paint go further.  I like the distressed look so I don't want to waste too much of the paint on full coverage.  When the paint is dry, you can distress it using a light sanding block or a wet rag.  I usually use a sanding block on real wood, but if it is pressed I use a wet cloth.  After you distress the wood, I use a cloth to apply the wax to the wood.  It's easy and QUICK!  Everyone asks my secrets to refinishing furniture...but it's really just the paint that is amazing!

I am currently doing some office furniture for a friend in the color "florence".  Here is a before and (almost) after of one of the pieces.  It is a beautiful teal/turquoise and I think I'm going to have to buy some for myself!

I always go to Miss Mustard Seed for inspiration or help with techniques.  She has some great tutorial videos on waxing and painting with chalk paint!

My friend Emily has a great post on homemade chalk paint over at her blog Putting Down Roots.  You will be inspired by her beautiful Armoire makeover as well as many other things!

Hope this answers some of your questions....please let me know if you have any more!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November - where have you gone?!?

November has come and gone - it's amazing how fast time flies the older you get.  I'm really trying to cherish these little moments with the girls.  I can't believe how big they are all getting!  Landon and I have been married 5 years!  We went on our first weekend away without the girls.  It was only for one night, but we had an amazing time together and felt refreshed after our little getaway!
We stayed at the Keeter Center in Branson, MO.  It is a beautiful lodge and they spoil you with fresh milk and cookies at turndown service, and a rise and shine breakfast!  We LOVED it and spent a lot of the time laying in bed and watching TV.  Ah - such a luxury!
Here is Brooke at her Thanksgiving program at school.  I didn't get to join her for the lunch but Landon was able to go and eat with her.  She loved that special Daddy Time.  
Seriously - these two melt my heart ever day.  They have their share of fighting, but they are truly best friends and do everything together.  
We started a tradition a couple years ago where we eat a traditional dinner as a family and then write everything we are thankful for down as a family.  It's one of my favorite things to do.  I am SO blessed having these three sweet girls to spend each day with.  

The Christmas Season is in full swing here - we are all decorated and are excited to celebrate all month long!  It is my favorite time of year and it is even MORE fun now that the girls really get excited about it almost as much as I do!  Hope you have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

family photos...

I LOVE getting family photos done - I just love all the memories that photos capture.  Let's be honest though I am ALWAYS stressed when it comes to picture day.  We had a mini session with my favorite photographer Stephany on Saturday.  Landon and I decided that we were going to make this session as stress free as possible with the girls.  We wanted it to be an enjoyable experience.  Did I mention I had EIGHT dozen cupcakes due that morning/afternoon?  8 dozen cupcakes and 45 baseball cookies were made in my kitchen, and I finally got a chance to get ready at 2, wake the girls up, get them ready, deliver cupcakes at 2:30 and made it with just a minute to spare at 3.  We pulled up to this BEAUTIFUL location and Stephany greeted us with her cheerful self.  I mean honestly, who needs to be stressed out when you have a photographer that loves your kids and loves to work with them?

Brooke smiling for the camera

Here's a side by side of Lauren who ALWAYS wants to be just like her big sister.

Lily is usually the wanderer who does her own thing.  I love it.

We had a FUN time - I realized I had two dramatically different earrings on towards the beginning of the shoot and we had lots of laughs about that.  This photo that Stephany captured brings a smile to my face and really tells a story about how crazy our life is right now, but how BLESSED we are.  If you live in the Tulsa area and need an amazing photographer please contact Stephany.  You won't ever be disappointed and she is one of the sweetest friends to me now!  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

FIVE years of wedded bliss

This Saturday we will celebrate 5 years of marriage together!
 Looking at these pictures bringing back memories of some amazing friends that we haven't seen since our wedding day.  It's as good thing Landon's not home to watch me sob at the computer screen. :)
It's amazing how fast time going by.  Everyone in this photo is married, and most of them have had their first child since this photo!  How young we all were....
This collage represents some of my favorite moments through the last 5 years.

*Our very first Christmas together - we were expecting our first "surprise" baby and didn't even know it yet!
*The birth of Brooke - such sweet memories I can remember like it was yesterday.  
*Our trip to Branson to see Santa for the first time.
*Brooke at 6 months - such a pretty girl!
*Brooke talking to her sissies - I was 8 month's pregnant here on bed rest.  Brooke kept me company and kept me smiling.
*The day the twins were born.  Relief, excitement and thankfulness is what I remember the first time I saw those sweet faces.  God is so good to us to give us two healthy baby girls through such a rough 9 months of pregnancy.
*I love this picture of the girls.  Brooke was such a pro at being a big sister.
*The twins 1st Birthday - the cutest little girls that keep me laughing (even when they cause trouble)
*Our family this fall - I can't believe Landon and I GET to be parents of 3 little girls.  I'm so thankful for the most amazing partner God gave me to walk through this life with.  We are so blessed!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sweet & Unexpected Moments

I don't know if you read my last post, but God has really been testing me in the area of patience and love the last few days.  Instead of seeing certain circumstances as "nuisances", I have really embraced them and enjoyed every minute of "unplanned" time with the girls.  

Here's my sweet Lily bug. She was rebelling against nap time, but Lauren was OUT.  So I grabbed Lily and we made cookies.  She insisted on wearing the beanie. We had such a sweet time together - I rarely get to spend time with the twins one-on-one.  

Tuesday morning came along.  Let me just tell you our schedule right now on Tuesdays: 
8:00 - Brooke wakes up, gets ready for school
8:30 - wake the twins up and get them dressed and fed.
8:50 - we really should leave the house by now, but I usually forget SOMETHING and have to go back into the house several times, as well as chase Lauren around to get her into the car.
8:55 - get to school.  On Tuesdays the twins go to a "mother's day out" program.  For some reason they HATE it.  Yesterday Lauren was in the corner of her room by her crib holding on for dear life.  I have to pick them both up and carry them in.  I WISH I had a video camera so y'all could see how crazy we look. As much as I LOVE a 3 hour break once a week, I don't want to take them somewhere they are not comfortable, so we are praying about some different options.
12:00 - Pick the twins home, race home feed them and lay them down.
1:50- wake the twins up and load the car.
1:55 - unload the car to go get Brooke from preschool.
2:00 - reload the car
2:05 - get home and unload the car.
2:06 - wish I could take a nap

 Since Lauren has some SERIOUS allergies, not to mention she had a firm grip on my hair, I decided to keep her with me.  I felt SO guilty for leaving Lily there alone, but we paid for the month, and I knew she would have fun playing.  Lauren & I went to Utica Square and had a wonderful time together.  I didn't get to peacefully shop, but I had so much fun with Lauren just running around freely in the BEAUTIFUL weather.

So last night by the time I had cleaned up after dinner, I was SO ready for bed.  I was also feeling like I was coming down with a weird "bug".  So when the girls went to bed, I just melted into bed.  1 a.m. came around and I was WIDE AWAKE.   I laid in bed until 3 just tossing and turning trying to fall asleep.  I finally got out of bed and sat at the computer looking at Pinterest, and contemplating whether or not to go to Wal-Mart.  I decided getting clothes on was too much work.  As I sat there, I heard an odd sound coming from the twin's room.  I walked in and Lauren was choking and having a hard time breathing.  I picked her up and she coughed up some of the allergy drainage that she was choking on.  We got some snuggle time in, and I laid back down and fell asleep pretty quickly.  God allowed me to wake up for those few hours so that I would hear Lauren choking.  I'm so thankful even though it meant missing a few hours of sleep.  I know he will give me the energy to get through today....and I'm sure that Starbuck's can help the situation a little bit too.  :O)

Monday, September 10, 2012


I can't believe it's already fall.  I can't believe Brooke just turned 4, and the twins are already 2. Brooke is already in school...even if it is only for two days a week.  Life seems to be going by SO quickly between school, birthdays, speech therapy and cubbies.  I ended last week feeling like a complete FAILURE.  I was late to school almost every morning, I got in "trouble" for leaving the twins in the car while I ran Brooke into preschool (gasp, I know), she wore the wrong shoes to school (shoes I specifically bought because I thought they were acceptable), and I really struggled with anger for the last couple weeks at various circumstances.  Guilt settled in as I thought about my impatience, selfishness, forgetfulness, etc.   I pulled out a letter that my sweet friend Terri mailed me a few weeks ago and tears came to my eyes as I realized how sinful my actions have been.  I'm thankful for God's forgiveness, but I know that there isn't a way to go back in time.  I needed a reminder of my duties as a mommy.  I NEED to show Christ to them.  I HAVE to share parts of this with you because I know it will be an encouragement to many of you other young mothers.

For The Young Mother: Ministry, Guilt, and Seasons of Life, by Jani Ortulnd.

"As a young mother everyone wants SOMETHING from you - your family, your church, your boss, your neighbor.  And most likely, you give way more than you ever thought you could.  But along the way guilt nibbles at your soul, eating away your inner peace and joy.  And it often lingers through the years, even after your children are grown and gone."

"Don't waste your guilt - but instead listen to it and evaluate it.  Take it out of the shadows and examine it in the light of Scripture.  Lay out your feelings before Christ.  Is this guilt legitimate conviction of sin?  Then confess your sin, receive His forgiveness and ask Him where and how he wants you to change.  But maybe your guilt is a nagging, self focused fear that if you were just a bit better or worked just a little harder, then you would be noticed and admired enough to feel okay about yourself.  That is a false guilt, rooted in pride.  It will hurt your family and hinder your relationship with your grace-giving Father  If this describes your guilt, then remind yourself that through Christ's death and resurrection,  you are accepted by god.  The solution to false guilt, as to true guilt, is the gospel. "

"Remember my mission field - one reason a young mother can feel wrongly guilty is that she forgets that her first and primary mission field must be her children.  Mothering calls for the best in us as women.  As mothers, we SHAPE the souls of our children and ultimately influence the world."

"Heart for the Home - Ministry to our children means being "all there".  It means rejoicing that you get to show your children how to peddle a tricycle, make their bed, build good memories and share their toys with others.  You serve your family, and ultimately your heavenly Father, by helping  your child do that puzzle for the seventeenth time, by washing those sticky fingers, by planting a little garden, by acting out Bible stores and praying together."

The last few weeks, I honestly feel like I spend my days cleaning up messes, changing diapers, breaking up fights, disciplining, getting in and out of carseats, and running from place to place.  I don't want these sweet, little years to go by without taking advantage of the love that I can show my girls.  I want to sacrifice "my" time by spending time teaching, playing and loving my girls.

"And so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."
Titus 2:4-5  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

End of Summer in Photos...

We went to the Zoo with our friends Amber, Will & Jackson.  It was a BEAUTIFUL morning and we had a blast!
Cotton Candy Clouds
We finally made it to the Kiddie Park in Bartlesville.  We had an amazing time going to dinner and riding the rides with The Cherry family!
Can you tell we are getting everything in OUTSIDE while the weather is so amazing?  It is unusually "cool" outside for August in Oklahoma.  We went to a driller game this week with the Balloqui's!
Brooke's first night of Awana's!  She has been talking about Cubbies ALL summer - she loves it!

This was the view coming up to the house after my morning run.  Isn't the sunrise amazing???  Oklahoma sure does have the prettiest skies...
My two sick sweethearts...they either needed to be in my arms, or on the counter helping me cook to be content.  I love these sweet sisters!!!

Another "music video" for you!  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

PB & Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I wanted to share a yummy cookie recipe with y'all - then I realized how long it has been since I have posted on here!  Where has August gone?!? Things have been BUSY around here and I turned THIRTY at the beginning of the month!  I had a wonderful birthday and thought I would share a few pictures...

Just a few of my favorite gifts.  SO excited to own an iphone again - it was almost a year...what a luxury!  Thanks Dad & Mom!  Sarah sent me a giftcard to hobby lobby all the way from Venice.  I bought something I have been eyeing for a LONG time - every time I see it I think of you!  Melissa, thanks for the BEAUTIFUL oven mitt....I'm afraid to use it it is so beautiful!  Phil & LeAnn gave me a cooking class to SMOKE here in Tulsa. Thank you for the thoughtful will be my first cooking class and I can't wait!!!

At the cheesecake factory enjoying my birthday cake!

Landon took me to the Melting Pot for a night out for my big 30!  We enjoyed every minute together!

Like I really need to be baking cookies after all that food???
Here's the recipe!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 c peanut butter
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c light brown sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 c rolled oats
1 c semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cream the butter, peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and beat.  

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Gradually add the flour until just combined.  Stir in the oats and the chips.

Roll a scant half-cup (or 1/4 c if you want smaller cookies) of dough into a ball.  Pull apart into two equal halves and place jagged surface up on the cookie sheet.  This gives it a rough, bakery look on top! You can also just use a cookie scoop too.  :O)  Bake for about 10 minutes until the edges are golden.  Don't over-bake!  The center will finish cooking on the sheet.  Cool completely on the cookie sheet.  Enjoy!