Monday, December 13, 2010

homemade mozzarella sticks

The hubby and I are both originally from Wisconsin, and though we like cheese, that's not the reason for this connection. He is from Milwaukee and in Milwaukee there is a restaurant known for their BBQ and that restaurant is Saz's. Well, hubby and I love the restaurant for other reasons as well, for their Mozzarella Sticks. They are just like these, which I found on Our Sweet Life, mozzarella enrobed in wonton wrappers.

Quick, easy and so delicious. I even think you could bake them if you didn't want to fry them, I'd say 400* would work just great.

Homemade Mozzarella Sticks

Wrap a string cheese in an egg roll wrapper

Lay one string cheese or strip of block mozzarella on one egg roll wrapper diagonally so the cheese starts at one corner and ends at the opposite. Roll up like a burrito and seal with water or egg.

Fry in a frying pan using oil (vegetable or olive oil heated to about 350) until golden.

Friday, December 10, 2010

orange chicken

This recipe is a tried and true staple in our house.  I also know for a fact that there are a few other families who have adapted this yummy dinner into their recipe repertoire as well.  I found this recipe on one of my favorite food blogs Annie's Eats. Her website is so inspiring with all the yummy looking food.

There are a few steps involved but once you make it once or twice it becomes so much easier.  This is not cloyingly sweet like many orange chicken dishes at local chinese restaurants.  In fact, the hubby and I are not really fans of orange chicken anywhere else.  But this, this is so good.

Orange Chicken                                                                                                                                (adapted from Annie's Eats)
For the marinade and sauce:
1 ½ lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1 ½” pieces (i used breast meat)
¾ cup low sodium chicken broth
¾ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 ½ tsp. grated orange zest
8 thin strips orange peel (optional)
6 tbsp. distilled white vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
½ cup dark brown sugar
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. fresh grated ginger
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. cold water
i added chopped scallions and some peanuts to the finished product

For coating and frying:
3 large egg whites
1 cup cornstarch
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
3 cups peanut oil (or canola oil) (i only used 1/4 C of canola)


For the marinade and sauce, place the chicken in a Ziploc bag; set aside. In a large saucepan, combine the chicken broth, orange juice, zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper; whisk until the sugar is fully dissolved. Measure out ¾ cup of the mixture and pour it into the bag with the chicken; press out as much air as possible and seal the bag, making sure that all pieces are coated with the marinade. Refrigerate 30-60 minutes, but no longer. Bring the remaining mixture in the saucepan to a boil over high heat. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and cold water; whisk the cornstarch mixture into the sauce. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Off the heat, stir in the orange peel (if using); set the sauce aside.

For the coating, place the egg whites in a pie plate and beat with a fork until frothy. In a second pie plate, whisk together the cornstarch, baking soda and cayenne until combined. Drain the chicken in a colander or large mesh strainer; thoroughly pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Place half of the chicken pieces in the egg whites and turn to coat. Transfer the pieces to cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly. Place the dredged chicken pieces on another plate or a baking sheet.

To fry the chicken, heat the oil in an 11- to 12-inch dutch oven or straight sided sauté pan with at least 3 qt. capacity over high heat until the oil reaches 350° on an instant read or deep fry thermometer. Carefully place half of the chicken in the oil; fry to golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning each piece with tongs halfway through cooking. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Return the oil to 350° and repeat with the remaining chicken.

To serve, reheat the sauce over medium heat until simmering, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and gently toss until evenly coated and heated through. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

cinnamon swirl bread

A couple of years ago I had much more of a defined schedule as far as work was concerned so Mondays were my day off.  I started a tradition that year of making bread every Monday.  Quite the undertaking but it was so much fun.  These days Mondays are filled with organizational tasks, South Face, and a million other things but hopefully this year I will make time once again for bread.

I always used to think that bread making must be difficult. But now that I have gotten the hang of letting the yeast bubble and utilizing my handy stand mixer, I think it may be one of the easier things I make
Here's a throwback from the days I kept up my food blog...a delicious recipe for either a cinnamon swirl loaf or a garlic swirl loaf.  Both were so delicious.  I used the same base for both but chose to fill and shape them differently. They are so, so good and so easy!

Cinnamon Swirl Bread (adapted from Williams-Sonoma)
see adaptations at end for garlic swirl


1 Tbs. active dry yeast
3 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (105° to 115°F)
1 cup warm milk (105° to 115°F)
3 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbs. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
6 to 6 1/4 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
3/4 cup golden raisins (i omitted we don't care for raisins)
3/4 cup dark raisins (i omitted)

For the filling:

2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar mixed with 4 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
(i cut in half b/c only one loaf was cinnamon- 1/3 C with 2 1/4 t)


In a bowl, sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of the granulated sugar over 1⁄2 cup of the water and stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the remaining 3/4 cup water, the milk, butter, the remaining granulated sugar, salt, egg and 2 cups of the flour. Beat on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the yeast mixture and 1⁄2 cup of the flour and beat for 1 minute. Add the raisins, then beat in the remaining flour, 1⁄2 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Switch to the dough hook. Knead on medium-low speed, adding flour 1 Tbs. at a time if the dough sticks, until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes. Transfer the dough to a greased deep bowl and turn to coat it.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours. Lightly grease two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Divide the dough in half and roll or pat each half into an 8-by-12-inch rectangle. Lightly sprinkle each rectangle with half of the filling, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Beginning at a narrow end, tightly roll up each rectangle into a compact log. Pinch the ends and the long seam to seal in the filling. Place each log, seam side down, in a prepared pan.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until the dough is about 1 inch above the rim of each pan, 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours. Preheat an oven to 350°F. Bake until the loaves are golden brown and pull away from the sides of the pan, 35 to 40 minutes. Turn the loaves out onto wire racks and let cool completely. Makes two 9-by-5-inch loaves.

For one garlic swirl loaf:

Swirl Ingredients:

4 T butter, softened
1 T garlic, minced
2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Combine butter, garlic, parsley and oregano and spread evenly over top of dough, leaving 1/2" at end to help seal loaf. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over top of butter mixture. Tightly roll dough up into cylinder shape, pinching and tucking ends to form a tight seal and pinching seam to seal.

Bake as directed above.

Monday, December 6, 2010

homemade christmas decor

I like trying to be crafty.

I usually try to pick things that are easy and inexpensive but don’t look cheap.  Sometimes I succeed and other times I fail.  But this idea I think was a success.

Yarn Trees.

Yup, I have a thing for trees around the holidays.  I just can’t stay away.  Last year I acquired all my natural and glitter trees for about a dollar after Christmas and thinking they needed some friends, this year I added some made from yarn.

Wish I could say I came up with the idea but I actually spotted a finished one at Michaels.  Which of course led me to the paper mache cone aisle to grab the necessary supplies.

Because I am a knitting failure I have plenty of unused yarn around our house.  I chose the gray which I think blends nicely with the rest of the forest!  Along with some adhesive we were set to go.  This project is extremely easy, would be good for kids, and is really fun.

DSC_0115 (2)(plain cone on left/finished on right.  I used mod podge for my adhesive.)
1.  Paint mod podge onto first quarter of cone, repeating as you go farther down the cone.
2.  Starting at the top, press one inch of yarn down from the tip and then start winding the yarn around that 1 inch piece to hold the starting line in place and to create a tip at the top.
3. . Continue winding adding more adhesive when you run out of room.
Next project:  Coffee Filter Wreath

maple pecan granola

We love granola at our house.  Not the fattening, oil laden granola that so many places feed you, but homemade maple almond granola.  I have tried other recipes but this one is terrific and terribly easy that you can throw it together in a matter of minutes for a great snack or breakfast.

We love our granola with vanilla yogurt, hubby adds dried fruit, and I add fresh fruit.  But when the cereal and toast grow old, behold there is granola to save you from the breakfast hum drum.

The recipe is one I got from the Cooking Light website.  The only change I make is that I do not add dried fruit to the entire batch. 
Maple Almond Granola                                                                                                                         (Adapted from Cooking Light)


4 Cups regular Oats
1/4 Cup slivered almonds (or nut of choice)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 Cup water
1/3 Cup honey
1/3 Cup maple syrup
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons canola oil
Cooking Spray
1 Cup minced dried apricots
1 Cup raisins


1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees
2.  Combine first four ingredients in a large bowl.
3.  Combine water, syrup, sugar, and oil in a small saucepan; bring to a boil.  Pour over oat mixture; toss to coat.  Spread out on a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 325 for 35 minutes or until golden, stirring every 10 minutes.  Place in a large bowl; stir in dried fruit and cool completely.

Note: store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Yield: 6 Cups (serving size 1/4 cup)

Nutritional Information:  calories (126) fat (2.8)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

thai slaw salad

I am always in need of side dishes for meals that we have. I usually just look in the fridge and decide what would best suit the main entree. We always have romaine in there along with green onions and celery. In the past, I have made a pickled celery salad that we both really loved, so I expanded this recipe to include some other ingredients. The other night when we had some thai food I created the perfect side dish, quick and very easy. The salad tastes sweet and sour with just the right punch of spice. It's clean and delicious.

Thai Slaw Salad

1 C very thinly sliced romaine
1 T chopped scallions
1 stalk of celery, very thinly sliced, leaved included
2 dry red thai chilis, thinly sliced
1 T sugar
2 T white vinegar
2 T rice wine vinegar
3 T chopped cilantro
Mix all ingredients together and let sit as long as possible, an hour up to a day, to allow flavors to meld.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

american sandwich bread

I've been trying my hand at bread making for the past four years.  Most of the recipes come out okay; that is, as long as they are toasted they seem edible.  There has yet to be a bread that I will eat out of hand, as a sandwich.

That is, until last year.  This is the.most.amazing.bread you will ever make.  So yummy I sampled a piece or two while I was cutting it for future use.  The hubby even texted me on his way to work: "this is the best bread."  In my book, that designates a winner.  Simple ingredients, quick assembly, and out of this world taste equal a bread I'm happy to make weekly or even, daily:)  For great pics of the finished product, head here!

American Sandwich Bread

(The New Best Recipe, pg. 725)

Time: About 2 hours (lots of inactive time)

Yield: One 9-inch loaf


3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm whole milk (about 110 degrees)
1/3 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons honey
1 envelope (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast (also called rapid rise)


Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Once the oven temperature reaches 200 degrees, maintain the heat for 10 minutes, then turn off the oven.

Mix 3 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix the milk, water, butter, honey, and yeast in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Turn the machine to low and slowly add the liquid.

When the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth and satiny, stopping the machine two or three times to scrape dough from the hook, if necessary, about ten minutes. (After five minutes of kneading, if the dough is still sticking to the sides of the bowl, add the remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time and up to 1/4 cup total, until the dough is no longer sticky.) Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface; knead to form a smooth, round ball, about 15 seconds.

Place the dough in a very lightly oiled large bowl, rubbing the dough around the bowl to coat lightly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the warmed oven until the dough doubles in size, 40 to 50 minutes.

Gently press the dough into an 8-inch square that measures 1 inch thick. Starting with the side farthest away from you, roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pressing with your fingers to make sure the dough sticks to itself. Turn the dough seam-side up and pinch it closed. Place the dough seam-side down in a greased 9 by 5-inch loaf pan and press it gently so it touches all four sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap; set aside in a warm spot until the dough almost doubles in size, 20 to 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Boil 2 cups of water and pour into a baking pan, and place it on the bottom rack. If possible, put the loaf on a rack above the baking pan of water (my oven is much too small to have a loaf of bread on anything but the bottom rack) otherwise put the two pans side by side. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted at an angle from the short end just above the pan rim into the center of the loaf reads 195 degrees, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan, transfer to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. Slice and serve.

Monday, November 29, 2010

butterscotch bark

Every month I look forward to all my food magazines that come in the mail, but there is one in my mind that always makes my heart skip a beat and that is Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. I have found that these recipes use ingredients we usually have in the pantry and take around 30 minutes, perfect for any weeknight!

We happen to love most things coconut and especially seven layer bars. They are oh, so delicious, and usually do not stand a chance staying around. Unfortunately most things if we don't eat them in a couple of days or so either get tossed in the freezer or right into the trash...but these did not!

This bark was delicious, especially with the addition of butterscotch chips. I wouldn't recommend making them without, because everything is better with a little more chip!

Butterscotch Bark                                                                                          (adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food)

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 12 graham crackers
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light-brown sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pecans and coconut on baking sheet; bake until golden, 5 minutes. Cool; toss with chocolate chips.
  2. Line a 10-by-15-inch rimmed baking sheet with foil. Break graham crackers in half; fit in pan in single layer.
  3. In saucepan, whisk butter and sugar over medium heat until smooth; spread over crackers.
  4. Bake until bubbly, 10 minutes. Sprinkle with nut topping; press gently. Cool; break into pieces.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

a season of change

“better is the end of a thing than it's beginning” (ecc. 7:8)
“The faithfulness of God is why the perseverance of man (and little girls) is so important.  What you’re seeing now is middles, freeze frames, the crest of the curve and now it’s falling arc, the ball as it looks snapped in mid-air by your Polaroid. 
But “you have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11)”….We haven’t seen the fallout of this yet, the gentle misting rain of grace.  Of a love and power that more abounds where sin and tragedy abound…so wait on the Lord, little one, wait.  Because of the promises.  Because “the proper time” He will lift you up (1 Peter 5:6).  Because His compassions are new every morningBecause He is good to those whose hope is in Him (Lam. 3:22).  Wait on the Lord, child, and be still.   Because we haven’t seen all the fallout of this yet.”
                           Excerpt from In Due Time 
“Won’t let you go until you bless me” by Andree Seu
Change is ahead.  I’ve just got to hold tight to the hand that never lets go.  Today is a new day, for this IS the day the Lord has made.  This season, it’s full of change.  It’s full of heartache.  Sorrowful yet always rejoicing.  Make my heart that way.  You are so worth this…all of it.
On the infertility end, many of you know we have made the heart wrenching decision to stop treatment.  I don’t know when or if we will try it again.  I don’t know when or if the Lord will bless us with children of our own.  I don’t know what’s in store.  But I know my heart.  It’s time for a break.  Time to dig deep, fight sin, cast out idols.  It’s funny how something so good to hope for can become sin, so quickly, instantly.  A calling for women, it’s in us.  Most of us at least.  There is a desire, a God given desire, to be married and have children.  It’s God’s good plan.  And yet the waiting season, “is preparing for me an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison”…It’s just incredibly hard to lay down a desire so deep within me at the foot of the cross…but Lord, I trust you, I trust your plan for us, as hard as this is.  I will follow you…for your way is better than life.

{Reposted from  9/27/10}

zucchini parmesan loaf

When I was back visiting my mother, I spent hours paging through all of her old Everyday Food magazines...I mean it was really bad, they kept my attention for far longer than I would like to admit.  But considering she still has the first magazine ever, that was um...about 7 years ago, I figure it was time well spent.

But the best thing about all that time perusing is that I now have a list of over 100 recipes that I would love to make and looked delicious. One in particular that looked good was this zucchini parmesan quick bread. I know it sounds a little odd, but the result is a tangy, savory, and delicious quick bread that pairs perfectly with soup, stew, and anything in which dipping is allowed!

I didn't need to change anything in the recipe, but feel free to add and subtract as you see fit~

Zucchini Parmesan Loaf
Serves 8
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2 pound (about 1 medium) zucchini, coarsely grated


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan (6-cup capacity) with oil; dust with flour, and tap out excess.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk oil, milk, and eggs. In a large bowl, whisk flour, Parmesan, baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; mix in zucchini, then egg mixture until just moistened (batter will be very thick, like biscuit dough).
  3. Transfer batter to prepared pan; press in gently. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes (tent with foil if loaf starts to brown too quickly). Cool 15 minutes in pan; turn out loaf onto a rack to cool completely.
(courtesy of Everyday Food)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

french chocolate brownies

C'est Magnifique!

A few years ago I spent my summer in was wonderful, just like these brownies. There is something intriguing about the French. My two new found friends that year, Marine and Clemance, adopted my friend Brittany and I as friend giving us tours and even taking us to their home.  We spent the afternoon making M&M cookies in their kitchen. It was an amazing experience and probably where my true love of food emerged.

There is something wonderful about sweeping through French markets, smelling the freshly made boule miche from the boulangerie, passing tarts upon tarts, perfectly executed, and watching the people delight in their food.

Upon return, my love for food grew, and though I never had a french brownie while I was there, I am sure they would not be disappointed with Dorie's version!  A few years ago I baked alongside a group of bloggers who were baking their way through Dorie Greenspan's cookbook, Baking from my Home to Yours.

Given my likes and dislikes, I only changed a couple of things in the recipe:
-I did not mix the eggs and sugar for 2 minutes, only about 45 seconds
-I dislike raisins, so dried cherries were substituted
-No flaming cherries in this kitchen, so they went in unscathed
-B/C more chocolate is essential, in went 1/2 C chocolate chips (semi and white)

End at first taste...these are so good, moist, fudgy, and delicious!

French Chocolate Brownies

- makes 16 brownies -
Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours.


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you're using it.

Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It's important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you've got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it's better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.

Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you'll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won't be completely incorporated and that's fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.

Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.

Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

Serving: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they're even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!

Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

are you there god?

It’s me…Andrea.

I know you are.  You are here with me right now.  You hold me as the tears fall, you encourage me in your word, your promises speak new life into my sinful, wayward, hurting heart.  And yet, I have to ask.

You have proved over and over again that I can trust you.  I can, right?

That’s when I hear you.  You whisper in my ear…Andrea, I’m here with you, it’s going to be okay, this is right where you are supposed to be, I have your best in mind.  Though it may not feel that way, I have promised you that I am with you.  I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, You are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you,  When you are afraid, put your trust in me.  Come to me…remember who I am.  I am who I am.

You are good.
You are constant.
You are sovereign.
You are love.
You are faithful.
You are abba.
You are provider.
You are creator.
You are redeemer.
You are God alone.

Lord, this trial may not seem as difficult as what others face, it may seem silly and contrite to others, I can try to be stronger than I am…

But it’s the struggle in our life journey right now, it’s the fight for faith, it’s the daily reminder to trust in who you say you are…and it’s hard.

In the words of Marc Heinrich

When the trial comes, And all hope seems lost,
I will find my strength
In the mighty cross
Only Him…Only Jesus…Only there is joy in sorrow found…

{reposted from  8/14/10}

Saturday, November 13, 2010

linen pinboard


For a slight hiatus from vacation postings, don’t worry I have the rest of the trip coming soon, I had to post a project I completed yesterday. 

Inspired by many bloggers and Pottery Barn, I armed myself with my glue gun, linen fabric and a cheap corkboard from Ikea.  I was going to use our staple gun but I couldn’t find it and Alex wasn’t home.  Next time though, I will use the staple gun, I forgot how hot glue can be and my hands did not appreciate it:)

So back to the project…I have been craving a way for my jewelry to be more accessible and on display so I will actually wear it.  Yup, it’s normally hidden in a box on my nightstand but I wanted it in a place where I could see it.  Enter the closet.  Perfect spot.  You grab clothes there so why not grab jewelry too.

After pulling and adhering the fabric to the pinboard I was ecstatic to see that my hard work?!? resulted in the perfect jewelry holder:

From spendy to inexpensive, rounding out a whopping $10,
I’m in Love:)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


The all-sufficient one...El Shaddai...The Lord is enough

For Abraham in Genesis, the Lord was enough.  He was the "pourer forth," the one who pours himself out for his creation (noted from Lord I want to know You, Kay Arthur).  His Grace is sufficient, He is enough.  This is what the Lord has been teaching my heart these past few days.  No matter what comes our way, no matter the day and hour, He is all sufficient...enough.

When I am honest with myself, like I was yesterday, I know I am not acknowledging the Lord as enough.  There are things I want, things I don't understand, things that hurt.

As a child, I always wanted to be the mommy to my dolls, stuffed animals, to anything.  I'm a nanny.  I was a early childhood major in grad school.  It's obvious I love children.  Right now, the one thing I was ready for, wanting, thought might come a little easier, is not.  About a month ago, I was referred to an Infertility Specialist.  Disheartening, yes.  Encouraging, maybe.  A test of faith, absolutely.

Maybe we'll get pregnant, maybe not.  But at the end of the day, I hear my Savior asking, "Am I enough?"  Yes Lord, whether you open my womb or not You are ENOUGH!

As I stumble down this new road, new path for our lives, I'm grasping hold of the verse that always comforts my heart:

"You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off";
fear not for I am with you,
be not dismayed, for I am your God,
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  ( Isaiah 41:9b-10)

God's righteous right hand refers to Jesus...I want to be upheld by Jesus, the perfecter of my faith.  God hasn't promised to open my womb, to bless us with children, to make life easy, but he has promised that He will be with us every step of the way...rejoicing with us and suffering with us and at the end of the day, that is more than ENOUGH!

{reposted from 11/05/09}

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

god has a sense of humor

First things first, I got myself out of the house for a great walk/run this morning.  It was during this great endorphin high that I realized how irony and humor come in to play when it comes to the Lord.

During this season of not knowing whether my body will ever be able to bring forth life, the Lord has been good to me, even causing a chuckle here or there.  I've been focusing on the goodness of the Lord and how being with him is better than life, any life.  So on my walk, I was checking my google reader and guess what, yet another person was pregnant.  Whether it's people I know personally or in the blogosphere, this is the time for bringing forth life.

During this season, I have a few choices...I can be embittered by this, acknowledge it and forge ahead, or I can embrace it and be joyful for those who are expecting.  I'm in between the latter two, because if I'm honest being embittered just does not fit my personality.  There are things better than chocolate for instance, or so I'm fighting to believe!

So back to google reader...after reading the post, I laughed out loud.  Good thing there wasn't anyone around, it was quite a chuckle I had with the Lord.  He's pretty funny!  Why was I laughing and thinking he has a sense of humor.  Because I believe that sometimes the Lord puts trials in our lives to produce in us godliness, endurance, and faith in his will, not ours.

  "we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces charachter, and characherter produces hope..." Romans 5:3-4

I had a little conversation with the Lord at that point here's a quick synopsis:

me:  Lord, you're pretty funny...seriously, another person, you have got to be kidding...(insert laughter)

lord:  kidding, i am not. 

me: i know, Lord.  you are better than life, better than a baby, better than anything.  it will be okay, even if you never bless us with children, because you are better than anything this life can offer.

lord:  know this..."In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world" John 16:33

me:  thanks for the overflowing of life...i can laugh now at the irony, because i'm growing in my understanding of who you are and why you put trials in our way...thank you for testing my faith.

{reposted from 11/18/09}

Monday, November 8, 2010


"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, sho does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Phillipians 4:4-7

I'm thankful for friends who are helping me pull through.  I'm thankful for a tender and caring husband who is learning that just being there is enough.  I'm thankful for my mother and the words she speaks about God's goodness.  I'm thankful for doctors who are forging ahead, not dwelling on things that don't work and not wasting our money.  I'm thankful for all of my friends that are pregnant right now (which is a lot)...don't ever believe the lie that I am not happy for you...I am!  I'm thankful that my God is SOVEREIGN, GOOD, LOVING, and that His will is always PERFECT.

The reason I have been sharing our struggle with fertility is because of how blessed I have been by the wisdom, insight, and care from others.  It seems a little bit more normal then, not like the elephant in the room that no one is asking about.  Also I know people are interested...even if they do not admit it.  And finally, because when I hear, read, am invited in to share in others' struggles I am almost always blessed myself.  I could not go through this alone and if I did the pit would be beckoning me every step of the way.  You, friends, have pointed me to the  cross and for that I am so very thankful.

It's not an easy struggle...but the Lord gives life.  He alone creates children and I believe wholeheartedly in a God who incredibly Sovereign, even in things that do not seem to make sense.  Even if we are never able to have our own children.  Even if he takes Alex away. 

To give you a brief glimpse of where we are...clomid did not work.  Ovaries are still stubborn and unwilling to ovulate.  So we are moving on.  The greatest blessing this week was that we are not so far away from meeting our deductible so the next 4 cycles of treatment will be paid for 100%.  That is a huge blessing.  We're moving on to Gonadotraphins.  Here's to 2010:)  Cheers!

{reposted from  12/18/09}

Sunday, November 7, 2010

round 2

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common female endocrine disorders affecting approximately 5%-10% of women of reproductive age (12-45years old) and is one of the leading causes of infertility.

The principal features are obesity, anovulation (resulting in irregular menstruation), acne, and excessive amounts or effects of androgenic (masculinizing) hormones. The symptoms and severity of the syndrome vary greatly among women. While the causes are unknown, insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity are all strongly correlated with PCOS.

This is what we are dealing with.  If you read the description above you will notice that I don't really meet the qualifying markers.  I am not overweight by any means, do not have excessive hair, am not insulin resistant, nor do I have any abnormal hormonal issues.  Which puts me in the an even smaller percentage.  I am thin, have cystic ovaries, and do not menstruate on my own.  The usual protocol is to lose weight, eat low carb, go on metformin an insulin drug, and clomid.  Unfortunately I cannot lose weight and I am clomid resistant, meaning I did not respond at all.  So injections are the next step, which most of you already know.  Better than clomid and best of all last round, two little eggs released...which is a huge blessing of it's own:)

Round 2 starts Saturday...wish us luck:)  and Stop us! if we ever set foot to adopt a pet in another country!!

{reposted from 2/6/1012

Saturday, November 6, 2010

decor on the dollar

My favorite place to find art?  Nope, not Target or Homegoods, not the Salvation Army or a thrift store.  My favorite places to find art are at Archivers (or other paper stores) or my own computer.  Surprised?

I’ve found paper to be incredibly cheap (under $1) and to create really fun art throughout our house. Some areas where we have paper as art?  Our bedroom and the hubby's bathroom.

DSC_0429 (2)DSC_0428 (2)

The paper in the frames I got at Archiver’s for under $1 a piece.  And yes, we each have a picture of the other on our nightstand, we’re dorks like that.  I mean who wouldn’t want to wake up like that:)


And this piece of paper, again was under a dollar.  But the real reason this was a winner, well because the hubby loves vintage art, especially art relating to golf, I mean how perfect is that!

Now for computer generated art.  If you have a word processing program and a color printer you are on your way to great wall art.  It’s as easy as that.  This is the print that I made for my bathroom.  I love the idea of Scripture art but I don’t love the traditional look.  So I made it in a more modern way on the computer and now it’s a great way to get my mind ready for the day as I get my body ready.  Perfect!

(Psalm 62:1-2)

One of my favorite home blogs is Young House Love.  Check out some of their great homemade art on the cheap:)

Happy Decorating!

Friday, November 5, 2010

what to do now?

It didn't work.  Round 4 didn't work.

My head knows the reason why, but my heart, oh my heart hurts.  A lot.

My mouth keeps proclaiming "God is Good...God is Good, all the time" and inside I feel my spirit doubting.  My wayward heart is having difficulty understanding, and yet I just keep repeating truth all the same.

A dear friend told me a few weeks ago that this was going to be a fight of faith, a battle against Satan.  It was easier to fight the battle last time.  This time, O Lord help me, fight the fight of faith.  Help me to fight to see your goodness.  To really believe deep in my soul, that this is your will and that right now, this is best.

14 months ago, Alex and I started trying for a family.  7 months ago, infertility treatments began.  We were ahead of the game, or so I thought.  But now, there are only a few options left.  Continuing at what we are trying, while paying lots of money, or IVF.  I know God works miracles, life is a miracle.  But I don't like my options. I think this is really the root of my heartache.  Thousands of dollars later, we're beginning to ask ourselves all sorts of questions.

How much do we spend before we are being unwise with our money?
What is the Lord telling us?  Is this His will?

Do we even consider it even an option for us?

What do I do?  Do I continue to stay home?  
If it isn't working at 29, how will it work at 32?

Do we try again or take some time off?  Change doctors?

I worry about my ability to make a decision.  There is a part of me that just wants to throw in the towel, give up.  I know that is not the right response because I've learned it's my coping mechanism.  I never thought when we started all of this that we would end up here.   Basically exhausting.  This is an emotional process and I just don't know how long I can bear the heartache.  I know, people try for lots longer than we have...but it's discouraging to know you may have exhausted all of your options right out of the gate.

But I know this does not surprise God.  He knew it all along...he planned it.  And I know He's right here with me, comforting me, holding my hand as we walk through this.  He creates life and that makes it all the harder.

{reposted from 4/5/10}

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

a little more girly…

And a little more manly.  I’m talking about our bathrooms.  For almost 4 years, the hubby and I have shared a bathroom despite the fact that we have 2 bathrooms!  I decided that this year we would try out having separate bathrooms and see how it worked.

The main reason for the change?  The bathroom we shared is connected to the hubby's office and other than the summer, when I’m up and out of the house before he starts work, having the shower going while trying to work just doesn’t cut it. I mean who wants to be on the phone and hear the toilet flush or shower going..Eww!

Since I’ve always wanted to incorporate pink into our color scheme, I transformed the other bathroom into the perfect girly space while changing a couple things in the existing bathroom to make it a little more manly.
So here they are, our “new” bathrooms!

DSC_0423DSC_0424          DSC_0425

Cost Breakdown: 
-New Shower Curtain $10, Ikea Candle $4, Ikea Frames $15 Total: $29

The rest of the items we had and I grabbed them out of hiding for the bathroom.  We picked up the iconic “Keep Calm and Carry On” postcard at the Imperial War Museum in London last year, before they became the “IT” thing:)  Also the other picture is one I made thanks to a sheet of paper and our printer…more on that later.

Now for the manly space:


Updates:  A new picture, totaling $1 for the piece of paper.  Again I grabbed things out of hiding for this bathroom too and the color scheme is more masculine with greens, orange, and red. 

All it takes is a little imagination and basically, some paper:)