Monday, March 28, 2011

Welcome, Neighbors

Even after 3 years of living here, I still feel grateful every time I think of the sweet woman that welcomed us into the neighborhood with a plate of freshly-baked cookies. It left such an impression on me that I decided I would do the same for any new neighbors.
A couple moved into the house a few doors down from us recently, and I made them brownies this weekend. I always attach a note that says “Welcome to the neighborhood!” with our name and phone number. (I figure that might help them, if their memory is as poor as mine, so they don’t have to ask themselves afterwards, “Now what was her name again?”)
The husband, who answered the door, seemed very appreciative. His wife wasn’t there when I stopped by.
Not long after I dropped off the brownies, our doorbell rang. It was the husband with his wife, who said, “I just had to meet my new best friend who brought me brownies!” This fellow brownie-lover seems like a girl after my own heart.
We already made plans with them to get together one weekend.
This all confirms what I already knew – any reason to make brownies is a good reason.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Big Weekend Plans

We have a set date tonight with Cheez-it snacks, Twizzlers, and a movie. (The movie is Megamind, which we’ve already seen but loved.) Happy Weekend!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shirley Temple Cupcakes

I have been on a cupcake kick recently. I saw this recipe for Shirley Temple cupcakes, and I instantly knew I had to make them. I could not believe that there was a cupcake to match my favorite cocktail.
(I do still order Shirley Temple drinks occasionally, and I pretend that I’m not embarrassed to order the drink that I loved as a 12-year-old.)
Anyway, the recipe is from the cupcake project blog. If you can’t access the link, the recipe is:
Shirley Temple Cupcakes
2 C flour 1 ½ tsp baking powder ½ tsp baking soda ¾ C unsalted butter, room temperature 2/3 C sugar 2 eggs 2/3 C milk 1 ½ C grenadine
1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside. 2. In another medium-sized bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 3. Beat eggs, milk, and grenadine into the butter/sugar mixture until blended. 4. Fold in flour mixture. 5. Fill cupcake liners all the way to the top. 6. Bake at 350 F for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the cupcake clean.
The secret ingredient (or I suppose it’s not-so-secret, since it’s on the internet) is grenadine, which is the red syrup used for drink cocktails. I actually found it at Wal-Mart in the section next to the Margarita mixes. I cheated and used store-bought frosting for the icing and topped with a maraschino cherry.

The cupcakes came out great! They have such a tasty and unique flavor. I will definitely make these again. Next time, I plan to chop up some maraschino cherries and add them to the batter to give the cupcake itself a little texture. Otherwise, the recipe is perfect as is.

The recipe says it makes 12 cupcakes, but it made about 18 for me.

Oh, and this probably goes without saying, but it’s best not to wear a white shirt while making these. I, um, had a little grenadine splatter when I put the mixer in the batter. Let’s just say I’m glad it was a ratty old t-shirt.

Either way, it was well worth it. Enjoy!

Monday, March 21, 2011

For Sale - Soon

We’re getting ready to put the house on the market. In true military fashion, we don’t know exactly when or where we are moving, but we figure it’s better to try to sell early than late, especially given the economy. This weekend we met with a realtor, who impressed us. We will definitely be going with her when the time comes soon. She gave us some great tips, and we’ll be doing the finishing touches on the house in the meantime. Still, I think the reality of the daunting task of moving finally hit us this weekend. Husband, who is calm in virtually every situation I’ve seen, said passionately, “I HATE moving!” Ditto, my friend. We’ve been here for 3 years, which is just long enough to almost forget about everything that’s involved in the moving process. For me, after moving so many times, I really don’t mind the meeting new people and moving into a new place part. I just hate the home-selling process and packing up part. So this weekend, after a few loud sighs, we both sat on the couch. Husband said, “Want to eat that apple pie in the freezer?” The answer, of course, was yes. And that was another thing I had forgotten about moving. Eating large quantities of sugary foods does make the moving situation a little better.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Eagle Has Landed

Though I cannot explain why, I have become completely fascinated by this “eagle cam,” shown at this website. It’s a live, video feed of an eagle’s nest in Virginia. Two of the three eggs recently hatched. It is beyond cute to see the mama eagle feeding these two little fuzzy-headed baby eagles. (Well, as cute as something can be being fed pieces of a floppy, dead fish.) My mom is loving the eagle cam, too. So far, we’ve called each other at least on two separate occasions to say, “Check the eagle cam! She’s feeding the baby eagles!” I have the link bookmarked, and I check in on the eagles more times a day that I care to admit. Just don’t do what I did. Don’t check the video feed at night, and then wonder why you can’t see anything. (The feed is live, which means it will be dark at night. I know, it’s obvious now.) Happy eagle stalking!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


My parents are friends with a couple who are, no doubt, the happiest people I know. The wife always has a huge smile and a kind word. The husband is always quick to respond in conversation with a “That’s terrific!” or “It doesn’t get any better than this!” My parents and I have known them for over a decade now, and they have become like family to me. Plus, the wife, whose nickname is “Kodak” because she’s always taking pictures, took some impromptu pictures after our wedding reception, which turned out to be the best of our wedding and rank among the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. Anyway, I was so excited to hear that they would be passing through our town this weekend on their road trip to see family. Maybe it’s because they are such great people (or maybe we haven’t had visitors in a while), but I think I went a little overboard with the planning. I made them a welcome bag with some goodies and postcards of the area. We took them on a little tour of our town and then out to dinner. And because it’s her birthday soon, I made a special cake for her that we had at our house for dessert. I wanted to do something different for the cake, so I decided on key lime cake, based off of the recipe for my absolute favorite cupcakes. The recipe is from Tasty Kitchen. I followed it pretty much as is, except I added 3 drops of green food coloring to give it a light green color. Since it's a cake, I baked it at 375 for about 24 minutes. And don’t tell – but I used store-bought icing. I topped it with a few candy lime slices I found in the candy aisle. The cake was a big hit, and the visit was wonderful. It also made me smile when my usually-quiet Husband stopped our friend before he was leaving and said, “I can’t let you leave without hearing your signature phrase.” Our friend smiled and said, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” Indeed, it doesn’t.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

And Don't Call Me Shirley - or Sir

Husband is starting his final project for his Master’s degree. He was hoping he would be assigned with a professor he had previously for a class he liked. But instead, he was assigned one he has never had for class and knew nothing about. This professor also happens to have a very unique name. Husband had to submit his proposal for the final project to the instructor. {Side note: Why do I still think of marriage proposals whenever I hear this word, even in a school context? I think I’ve been watching too much of Say Yes to the Dress on TV.} He was a little nervous because if his proposal is accepted, then he is that much closer to (finally!) finishing his Master’s. He sent a very polite e-mail to the instructor, introducing himself, starting with, “Sir…” He wanted to start on a good note. Later, Husband got an e-mail from another faculty member, who mentioned his professor. “Yes, she….” She! Husband almost died when he read the e-mail, realizing that his professor was a female, who he called “sir.” So much for a “polite” first impression. This could be a long project. {Extra credit: What movie is the title from? Hint: It’s a favorite of my plane-loving husband and father.}

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


A friend of mine from my women’s group shares my love of cooking. We often talk about meals and recipes. Last time we were talking, she happened to mention that she and her husband eat by candlelight every night for dinner. (Yes, you read that correctly – every night!)
When I heard that, I felt a mix of awe and envy. I cannot even remember the last time that Husband and I ate by candlelight, but I’m guessing that it was probably when we were dating.
Most nights, I feel lucky that I have the time to manage to make a meal, let alone having the time to decorate the table, too. (Although, I’ll admit, it probably wouldn’t take much extra effort to light a candle.)
Still, she inspired me to at least light my candles more often. I have so many pretty ones in various scents. And there is something almost peaceful about having a candle lit in the room.
During my pre-move cleaning, I found quite a few candles, including this cute egg candle. The timing on finding it was perfect, since Easter is coming up fairly soon.
And who knows, maybe I’ll celebrate Mardi Gras tonight with a candle.
Happy Fat Tuesday!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Early St. Patrick's Day Recipe

Here’s what I want to tell you: I planned to post this recipe for a green drink in March because it would be perfect for St. Patrick’s Day. Here’s the truth: I’ve been meaning to write about this recipe for weeks now, and the end of my procrastination happened to coincide with the month of March. This drink is made with spinach, and it’s called the Green Monster. {The recipe is here.}

If you can’t access the link, it is:

2 cups spinach 1 to 1.25 cups milk 1 banana Ice {I added in a few blueberries, too, which added a nice flavor.}

Throw it in the blender. Serve and enjoy.

I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for months, but I just got around to trying it a few weeks ago. We had a bunch of spinach that was starting to wilt, and I happened to have a banana on hand, too. I didn’t have high expectations because, let’s face it, if I’m making a drink in the blender, it better have ice cream or chocolate in it. Still, it turned out to be pretty tasty. It tastes mostly like banana.

Husband reluctantly tried it (his face was priceless when I told him it had spinach in it), and he actually liked it, too. Except he likes to call it the Swamp Monster.

I’ve made it a few more times since then for a quick breakfast.

Still, I think the St. Patrick’s Day drink that still has my heart will always be the sweet Shamrock Shake, featured sometimes at McDonald’s. Here's a similar recipe for it, if your McDonald’s doesn’t carry it.

Healthy or sweet – cheers to (early) St. Patrick’s Day!