Scavenger Hunt Sunday

I love how last week, I thought I was getting better at the hunt and then this week, I had problems with a few of the prompts.  But, without further ado, here they are….

1. Crossed

From my archives, a railroad crossing sign along the Virginia Creeper Trail.

2. A glimpse

A small, square window in a door gives us just a glimpse of what’s on the other side…

3. Handwritten

I don’t do many handwritten things myself these days.  This is a picture of my travel journal from the summer that I spent 4 weeks on a mission trip in Ukraine.

4. Bliss

This is another picture from my archives and it is possibly one of my favorite pictures that I’ve ever taken of a child.  This was taken at my grandmother’s house on Easter of 2010.  My cousin and her husband had hidden plastic easter eggs all over the place for their daughter to find.  When she found this one and opened it up, there was money inside.  I just happened to click the camera right as that look of awe and happiness came across her face.  A moment of pure bliss!

5. Gray

One of the first things I thought of with this prompt was the gravel parking area at my parents house.  I love how the rocks have so many different shades of gray in them.

 Next week’s list: Routine, Music, Technology, Show Me Your Style, and Mismatch.  Until then, happy hunting!  And be sure to check out as many of the entrants as possible.  It’s always a joy to see the different things people come up with for the prompts.

Healthy Vegetable Soup

If you’ve ever come to my sight before, you may have noticed a beautiful pot of soup in the middle of my banner.  Even though NC hasn’t seemed to have gotten a winter this year and it’s 75* outside, I’m still going to share the recipe with you today.

You begin with a bunch of celery, 2 large bell peppers, 2 large onions, spinach leaves, and 3 cans of diced tomatoes.  This time, I wanted to add a bit of protein to the soup, so I added lean ground turkey.

Begin by chopping the celery, peppers, onions, and spinach leaves and mixing them together in a large pot.  (This recipe yields about 16 cups of soup.)

Doesn’t it look pretty all mixed together?  Now it’s time to add the diced tomatoes to the mix.

Now brown your turkey in a large sauce pan.  I used the whole package, which was a 1.25 pound package.

Once you brown and drain it, chop it finely and add it to your pot as well.

Now, add water to your pot so that it just covers your vegetables.  I did this using my diced tomato cans so that I would be sure to get all the juice and chopped pieces of tomatoes in the mix as well.

Once that’s done, it’s time to spice this pot of soup up!  The only ingredient that my recipe requires is 1 package of Onion Soup mix.  However, I also like to add bits of parsley, garlic powder, red pepper flakes – and sometimes a dash of salt and pepper as well.

Once adding my spices, I cook it on medium-high until it comes to a boil.

Turn the heat to lowest possible setting on your stove, and let it continue to cook for about an hour.  Now it’s ready to eat!

When I put the plain vegetable soup recipe into my Weight Watchers recipe builder, it told me that my recipe was a total of 11 points.  However, I didn’t really understand this because every single ingredient that I put in said that it was 0 points.  2 large bell peppers: 0 points.  2 large onions: 0 points. 3 cans of diced tomatoes: 0 points.  I think you get the picture.  I get that I shouldn’t eat the entire pot at once, but I don’t see how, if each ingredient is 0 points, that it magically turns to 11 points (or 1 point for a 1 cup serving).

Adding the lean ground turkey does add 1 point for a 1 cup serving.  I usually eat 2 cups, which would be 4 points according to Weight Watchers.  But I don’t count the points for the vegetables because I don’t follow their logic on it, so I consider it 2 points. 🙂  Either way, it is a good, warm – and healthy – meal for any day….even if it is 75* outside.


Cake Decorating – Basics Class Final

Last night was our final night for the Cake I: Basics class that Megan, Caitlin, and I were taking.  We started the evening by practicing the ribbon roses that we had been working on the last few weeks.  We then moved on to practicing how to write with icing.  To do this, it’s best to have thin icing or icing that has had a bit of piping gel added to it.

Once finishing with that, we had the remainder of the class time (which was about an hour) to decorate our final cake using the techniques we had learned throughout the course.  Just like we did for the second class, we had to bring our cakes already leveled with the base layer of icing on it.

As happy as I am with how mine turned out, I wasn’t exactly creative or original with it.  I used the cake on the cover of our course book as my model.

The next course focuses on flowers and more intricate cake design.  It starts in 2 weeks and I can’t wait!

Until then, here are some other cakes from the class for your viewing pleasure….

Caitlin's Cake

Megan's Cake

I really liked the flowers on this girls cake. The colors were really vibrant.

The table with everybody's cake

One last shot of my cake, just because. 🙂

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

I think I’m getting a little better at this, seeing as how I had most of my shots by Friday this week instead of scrambling around on Sunday afternoon trying to find things that fit the prompts.  Anywho, let’s get to it!

1.  Love 

There’s lots of love going around this past week with Valentine’s Day and all.  But I don’t think there’s any greater love on earth than that between a mother and her child.  My friend and co-worker, Megan, got a visit from her little boy at work on Friday and I was able to capture a few beautiful moments.

2. Duplicated

In my town, every single lamp post looks the same.  Lined down the street are these cute little poles with the red banners hanging on them, one right after the other.

3. Trend or Trending

So, I followed the advice given last week and kept an eye on the trending section on twitter.  Most of it seems absolutely ridiculous to me.  One “trend” in particular was the hash tag #thingsthatstalkersdo.  I think a stalker would use a zoom lens, so here’s a picture of mine.

4. Paper

This is my paper as it came last Sunday.  I think the thing I like most about this picture is how it looks like there is a glare coming off of my paper.  It was simply a picture on the newspaper that had a bright light in it.  I thought it gave a unique twist, nonetheless.

5. Plastic

I remember when I got my first plastic water bottle.  And I will always love my Nalgene.  However, my go to water bottle is this gem made by Contigo.  It’s more user-friendly, so to speak, as it has a drinking “spout.”  It also has a clip on it, so you can attach it to almost anything.  Love it!

Sweet Coated Pecans

Remember how I mentioned in a post last week about the abundance of pecans we have right now because of my grandmother’s pecan tree?  Pecans are great and all, but they’re better when you turn them from a full of protein, semi-healthy nut into something fattening!  Of course, with my weight loss goals, I only make them this way when I am taking them somewhere because that’s the best only way for me to keep from eating the whole batch myself.

I was on Pinterest one day and saw this, which led me to a recipe on the All Recipes website.  The ingredients according to the recipe are as follows:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 pound pecan halves

My ingredients are a little different because I read all of the reviews and made some of the suggested changes.  The first change was that, instead of using 1 cup of sugar, I used 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of brown sugar.  I also traded the water for 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract.

After mixing the ingredients according to the recipe, I stirred in the pecans until they were evenly coated.  I then poured them onto a baking sheet that I had lined with foil for easy clean-up.

Don’t they look delicious all shiny like that?  And then I remember that it’s shiny because of the raw egg white and I’m ready to put it in the oven.

You’ll bake it at 250* for an hour, taking it out every 15 minutes to stir.  This keeps them from baking too much on one side & ensures a nice crispy coating on the whole pecan.

Once the hour is up, put them in an air-tight container and share with your friends!  (Sidenote: have a few for yourself before doing that because they are AMAZING fresh out of the oven!!)

Cake Decorating Class #3

For our third class, I had to start by preparing cupcakes.  Our teacher told us that when we made our cakes for last week, we should have enough batter left over to make 6 cupcakes, which we could freeze and use for this week’s class.  This was not true for my cake batter.  So, I had to go to the store and buy another box to make cupcakes with, but the smallest box you can buy makes 12 cupcakes, so I just had extra to practice on.  I started by making my cupcakes, gathering all the ingredients as required by the box mix and – of course – cute cupcake holders. 🙂

Bake them for the allotted time (or until you can put a toothpick in the middle of one and it comes out clean.  Mmmm…..they look so yummy, I could almost eat one plain.

In class this week, we learned several different things.  We learned how to do 2 types of drop flowers, a pom-pom flower, and a shaggy mum flower.  We also practiced the widely used shell border as well as rosettes.  Building on last week, we learned how to do a ribbon rose, too.  At the end of class, we put all of our techniques to use as we decorated the cupcakes that we had prepared.

drop flower that you twist

pom-pom flower

shaggy mum flower (so much icing!)

Oh, if only I weren’t on Weight Watchers and could actually eat some of them!!

Scripture and a Snapshot

The picture and the verse both stem from my weekend.  On Saturday, men from my church went out in 37* weather (that was the high that day), to help an elderly lady by giving her a new roof.  They encountered a few unexpected problems along the way that added many extra hours of work to the project.  Through it all, their attitudes remained upbeat and positive and they kept on working, despite the fact that it was freezing cold.

Sunday at our church was Youth Sunday, which meant that our youth group basically ran the service – complete with the Youth Pastor preaching that day.  His sermon was based out of James 2.  As soon as he read the scriptures, all I could think about were those men the day before working so hard for no other reason than to take care of, love on, and bless this elderly lady who was in need of a better roof on her home.  I love when I can see people’s faith in action!

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

It’s that time again!  I had such a good time interpreting the shots from last week (my first scavenger hunt), that I decided to do it again this week!

**Sidenote to all blogger users that may come here: For some reason, the OpenID isn’t always nice to me when I try to make comments on your pictures.  There were several people’s posts last week that I tried to make comments on and it would never allow me to do so.  Please don’t think I’m ignoring any of your posts, because I try my best to look at everyone’s posts throughout the week,  it’s just a hiccup between Blogger/OpenID.**

1. Facial Feature

These eyes (and I guess most of the nose) belong to a piece of pottery that is displayed on the street in the downtown part of where I live.

2. Shadow

I actually stumbled upon this while walking around town.  I had gone there to get one of my other shots, and happened to see this.  It’s the gate around the property of one of the churches in town.  I especially liked it because it almost has a heart design in it.  Perfect for Valentine’s Day coming up!

3. Spicy

I had a few ideas of things for this shot, but I was in the grocery store and these were so pretty that I just had to pull out my phone and take a picture.  Lovely jalepeno peppers.  Nothing takes your breath quite like them!

4.  Gold


 Not gold in the typical sense, but it was the first thing I thought of when I read this particular prompt.  That probably has to do with the fact that I pass by it every single day, and the fact that I don’t own anything that’s gold. 🙂

5. Fabric

This is the cute fabric that I bought to make myself a reversible apron.  Now if I could just find the time to actually make it….

That’s it for my interpretations for this week.  Hope you enjoyed them!  Can’t wait to see everyone else’s and get started for next week!

Granny’s Pecan Pie

About a month ago, we were having a family get together and I was trying to come up with something to make.  My grandmother doesn’t go to many of the big family reunion-type things anymore, which is a complete shame for many reasons, but is also a shame because everybody knows that grandmothers are the best cooks at a family reunion.  Anywho, I was trying to come up with something to make and so I decided to ask Granny for her pecan pie recipe.  (sidenote: Grandmothers can basically cook everything without even thinking about it.  So I just loved the vague instructions that I got. Or not.)

First I gathered all of my ingredients.  I needed eggs, sugar, margarine (or butter), Karo syrup, and pecans. Part of the reason that I decided to make this pie was because the pecan tree at Granny’s has produced enough pecans to feed the squirrel population of the entire county.  You can also use a bit of vanilla flavoring and flour, but those are really optional.

I mixed all of the ingredients up.  I did chop 1/2 cup of pecans to go into my filling.  I then used as many pecans as it took to fill up the top in a swirl pattern.

My next instructions were as follows: “I put it in at 350 and then I just shake the oven rack to see if it has gelled up.”  I will admit, this frustrated me.  I am very much a follow the recipe kind of gal.  Basically, I baked it for 15 minutes and then opened the oven and shook the rack to see if it still jiggled every 4 minutes or so until it stopped being jiggly (meaning it had ‘gelled up’).  I think it was in the 35-45 minute range, but I can’t be completely sure.

Despite not having a real recipe to follow, it turned out beautifully.  And it must have tasted pretty good too because it didn’t last long at all!

Cake Decorating Class

Recently, my friends Megan, Caitlin, and I started taking a Wilton Cake Decorating class through one of the local community college’s continuing education department.  The class meets for 2 hours each week, for 4 weeks.  After it is complete, there are 2 other classes that you can take to continue to learn more advanced techniques.  Our class is about teaching the basics.

This past week, our class focused on how to use piping gel to transfer a design to your cake in order to decorate it.  Prior to the class, we had to bake our cake, level it, apply the base layer of icing, and smooth it out.  (All of these things were demonstrated to us during the first class.)

So the first thing I had to do was gather all the things that I would need to make my cake.  This consisted of a cake mix, vegetable oil, eggs, water, a mixing bowl, and my 8″ round cake pan.

You then pour your mixed cake batter into the pan.  Our book tells us to fill it half full, but our teacher told us to fill the pan 2/3 full.

I became a little worried though, and was starting to question the teacher’s directions when I saw my cake in the oven.  I was terrified that it was going to spill over the pan and get all over my oven!

Fortunately, it baked up nicely and never spilled over.  Once the cake was finished baking, I flipped it out of the pan to cool.  Because I don’t have an actual cooling rack, I had to improvise.  So my makeshift rack is actually a broiling pan rack stacked onto 2 kleenex boxes. 🙂

Next we had to make our icing, do a crumb layer, color our icing, and then put on the base layer.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t thinking at all and didn’t take a picture of any of this.  But, here is my cake after getting the base layer on.

I then smoothed out all the lines in my icing and went ahead and decorated the sides, because I knew we would be pushed for time in class.

The design that we put on it was from our student kit.  It was a cupcake.  So we transferred the design, filled it in with the different colors of icing, and put a bead border around the bottom of our cake.

Side View

Top View

Everybody’s cake turned out really well.  Here’s a shot of mine, Megan’s, and Caitlin’s.

Next week, we’ll be designing some cupcakes and beginning work on learning how to do roses. Can’t wait!