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Today I was trying to figure out what to get my mom for Mother’s Day and I could not think of one thing that she needs.  So I decided that I would try my skills at watercolor painting and if it turned out horrible I would still have time to make it to the store before Sunday in order to buy a present.   I bought the paints and brushes several years ago and for some reason they have just been sitting in my closet collecting dust.  I don’t really know why I didn’t use them before.  I guess that maybe I was afraid to try. 

Anyways, I just kind of sketched a picture that I liked and painted away.  I think it turned out pretty good.  What do you think? 

I hope my mom likes it.  I will probably have it framed and matted before giving it to her. 

Now on to my next venture of the day…..Banoffee Pie!

I first heard of this a couple of weeks ago when I was looking for a pie recipe on the internet.  I’m not sure how I stumbled upon it but it sounded amazing so I thought I would give it a try. 

Bannoffee Pie

1 ready made graham cracker or chocolate pie crust

1 can sweetened condensed milk

3 bananas, sliced

1 container cool whip

toffee bits, chocolate shavings, or instant coffee sprinkles

The first step is to boil the can of condensed milk in water for approx 3 hours.  Please make sure that the can remains covered with water so that you don’t have exploding cans of hot sticky mess all over the kitchen.  I just added water as needed to the pan.  Once the can has boiled for 3 hours let it cool down for about 1 hour. 

Open the pie crust. 

Open the can of condensed milk.  It should now be a sticky, sweet, caramel-like texture similar to dulce de leche.  Yes, I had to try some.  Yum!

Spoon the caramel goodness into the pie crust  and spread it around so that it is in a nice even layer.   Now slice the bananas and layer on top of the caramel. 

Layer the cool whip on top of the bananas.

Finally sprinkle with the toffee bits, chocolate shavings, or instant coffee sprinkles. 

It is really rich and ooey gooey good.  Enjoy!

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The beach

Lately I have been dreaming about the beach.  There is something so peaceful, so comforting, and so welcoming about the beach.  I hope to one day live close to the beach if not right on it.  But for now I will just keep dreaming and remembering the times I have visited.

Beachcomber by Robert William Service

When I have come with happy heart to sixty years and ten,
I’ll buy a boat and sail away upon a summer sea;
And in a little lonely isle that’s far and far from men,
In peace and praise I’ll spend the days the Gods allow to me.
For I am weary of a strife so pitiless and vain;
And in a far and fairy isle, bewilderingly bright,
I’ll learn to know the leap and glow of rapture once again,
And welcome every living dawn with wonder and delight. 

And there I’ll build a swan-white house above the singing foam,
With brooding eaves, where joyously rich roses climb and cling;
With crotons in a double row, like wine and honeycomb,
And flame trees dripping golden rain, and palms pavilioning.
And there I’ll let the wind and wave do what they will with me;
And I will dwell unto the end with loveliness and joy;
And drink from out the crystal spring, and eat from off the tree,
As simple as a savage is, as careless as a boy.

For I have come to think that Life’s a lamentable tale,
And all we break our hearts to win is little worth our while;
For fame and fortune in the end are comfortless and stale,
And it is best to dream and rest upon a radiant isle.
So I’ll blot out the bitter years of sufferance and scorn,
And I’ll forget the fear and fret, the poverty and pain;
And in a shy and secret isle I’ll be a man newborn,
And fashion life to heart’s desire, and seek my soul again.

For when I come with happy heart to sixty years and ten,
I fondly hope the best of life will yet remain to me;
And so I’ll burn my foolish books and break my futile pen,
And seek a tranced and tranquil isle, that dreams eternally.
I’ll turn my back on all the world, I’ll bid my friends adieu;
Unto the blink I’ll leave behind what gold I have to give;
And in a jewelled solitude I’ll mould my life anew,
And nestling close to Nature’s heart, I’ll learn at last . . . to live.

I Saw From the Beach by Thomas Moore

I saw from the beach, when the morning was shining,
A bark o’er the waters move gloriously on;
I came when the sun o’er that beach was declining,
The bark was still there, but the waters were gone. 

And such is the fate of our life’s early promise,
So passing the spring-tide of joy we have known;
Each wave that we danced on at morning ebbs from us,
And leaves us, at eve, on the bleak shore alone.

Oh, who would not welcome that moment’s returning
When passion first waked a new life through his frame,
And his soul, like the wood that grows precious in burning,
Gave out all its sweets to love’s exquisite flame.

Beach Sand by Raymond A. Foss

Maybe it is the memories
the change of pace that brings us there
the sense of vacation
maybe the smell of the place
the sights of the gulls, the dunes, the grasses
but oh it is the feel of it,
the crunch and slide of it
the feeling of beach sand
so different from dirt, soil, loam
no, not earthy, moist, rich,
but oh so granular and gritty
even when wet,
moveable paper spreading under toes
sliding beneath the soles
smoothing my skin
clearing my mind
unburdening me of the rest
drawing me to the tactile, the feel
of beach sand

Granola yumminess

The other day I made some granola for Coffee Break.  It was a hit( from what I could tell) and I received many requests for the recipe.  I wish I could say it is my original recipe but it is actually from Ina Garten.  Of course, I have added my own changes so I guess you could say it is part Ina’s and part mine.  Either way, the recipe follows and feel free to modify to your tastes and preferences.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup sliced almonds (I usually use a combo of almonds, pecans, or walnuts)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates (I usually substitute raisins)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • Sometimes I add sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds depending on what I have available

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.  (I actually use a rimmed cookie sheet with a silpat mat)

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan.  (If you want loose granola and not bars then don’t press the mixture down into the pan) Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.

 

This is really good served on yogurt, sprinkled on top of hot oatmeal, or eaten like trail mix.   And as previously stated you can switch out ingredients that you don’t like for something that you do.  I imagine it would be great with dried apples and cinnamon, dried cherries and little chocolate chips, or whatever combo strikes your fancy.

Braised short ribs

Time to haul out the big boy, i.e. my big blue cast iron dutch oven.  I have wanted one of these forever and this past Christmas I finally received one as a gift from my parents.  His name is big boy because he is large and heavy and takes up all of the burner and then some.

So today I decided to make some braised short ribs because it is overcast and rainy.  What could be better than a slow cooked meal on a yuck a buck day.  I didn’t really follow a recipe, I just kind of threw some of this and some of that in.  I will try to recreate it to the best of my ability.

Braised short ribs

2-3 pounds of beef short ribs (if you can’t find these at your local grocery you can substitute a chuck roast cut into 2-3 inch cubes)

3 stalks of celery, chopped-I include the leaves also because they add flavor

2 medium onions, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 fennel bulb, chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup of red wine

4 cups of beef stock

salt and pepper

spices of your choosing-I used bouquet garni from Penzey’s

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  In a large dutch oven heat up 1 Tbsp of olive oil over high heat.  While the oil is heating, season the short ribs with salt and pepper. 

Once the oil is hot, place the ribs in the pan and brown for about 2-3 min per side.  You don’t want to crowd the pan so I did mine in two batches.  While these are browning, you can chop all your veggies.

My pieces aren’t all the same size but I figure I’m the only one who is going to notice anyways.  Anyways, after the ribs are browned remove them from the pan. 

Turn the heat down to medium and add the veggies to the pan.  Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 5 min.

Add the cup of wine.  I used a sweet red because that is what I had on hand but you could use whatever wine you like to drink.  Oops, looks like I had a little too much to drink.

Let the wine cook down for a few minutes and then add the beef stock and the seasoning.  Put the short ribs back in the pan and continue to heat until the liquid comes back to a boil. 

Remove the pan from the stove and put in the oven.  Cook at 300 for about 3 hours.  Remove from the oven and serve over mashed potatoes, polenta, noodles, rice, or whatever is your favorite.  You can either leave the vegetables the way they are or blend them up in the sauce with a blender. 

Enjoy!

Today was quite a day.  Rob started driver’s training ( I can’t believe he is 15 and is going to be driving soon).  It seems like just yesterday he was a little baby and could be held like a football.  Ha ha!  Anyways, he is growing up so fast and he has the attitude to match it.

Colin also started baseball practice today.  His skills have improved quite a bit since last year.  I look forward to watching him play this season as it should be exciting.

Amidst the daily chores, running children back and forth, and some grocery shopping I did manage to make to make some yummy marionberry oatmeal bars and an easy peasy turkey stuffing casserole.  The recipes are posted below.   Tomorrow I will be working on some crafty things.  Stay tuned for more details….

Marionberry Oatmeal Bars

1 cup light brown sugar

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups marionberry jam (I found this at Target but if you can’t find it you could substitute blackberry or raspberry jam)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13 pan.  In a large bowl combine brown sugar, flour, baking soda, salt and oats.  Rub in butter using hands to form a crumbly mix.  Press 2 cups of the mix into the bottom of the pan.  Spread jam to within 1/4 inch of the edge.  Sprinkle remaining crumb mix over the top of the jam and lightly press into the jam.  Bake 40-45 min until lightly brown.  Allow to cool and cut into bars.

Turkey Stuffing Casserole

1 box of Stovetop stuffing mix

2 cups cooked, shredded turkey (or chicken)

1-1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (or whatever veggie combo you like)

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 cup milk

1 cup shredded cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an oval casserole dish.  In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and mix well.  Pour into the casserole dish and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until hot and bubbly.

 

“The entire law is summed up in a single command:
“Love your neighbor as yourself.
“If you keep on biting and devouring each other,
watch out or  you will be destroyed by each other.”
Galatians 5:14-15 (NIV)

Welcome to blogland

Hello world!  This is my first attempt at blogging so this should be an adventure.  I decided I needed an outlet for all the random thoughts and ideas that are floating around in my head.

For those who don’t know me, I am a 39 y/o stay at home mom of five children.  They are wonderful children and God has truly blessed me.  I have to admit we face many challenges but that is what makes life worth living.  We are sometimes dysfunctional, sometimes crazy, and sometimes so full of energy we are about to burst.

One of my favorite things to do is cook and bake.  I enjoy trying new foods and new recipes and the best part is sharing my little experiments with everyone.  I try to buy locally when available and I am looking forward to trying my hand at home canning/preserving this coming spring and summer.  I am also going to attempt a garden in our yard (provided I can find a spot with enough sun).

My faith is very important to me and I am trying to raise my children with a solid foundation of Christ.  I have been blessed in so many ways and I try every day to bless someone else in a similar way.  Most likely I will have some scripture for the day that I will post on here as this is what motivates me, gives me strength, and lets me know that I am loved.

One of the most recent activities that I have become interested in is creating frugal crafts/projects out of things that I find or purchase inexpensively.  I am in the process of painting our house and enjoy decorating for pennies.  Any and all ideas are appreciated and welcomed.  I love reading blogs from others who have repurposed items or created beautiful objects out of what could be seen as junk.

Well, I think that is enough for now.  Stay tuned for future posts.

Lis