Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pumpkin bread

I love fall and all of the special fall themed foods that are generally associated with this season. One of my most favorite things is pumpkin. I love the smell, the taste and the color of it. Just a really delicious vegetable. I like fresh pumpkin for certain things, but pure canned pumpkin is usually the best for baking which is why I load my pantry with it once it hits the grocery store shelves. Sometimes I will even open a can, scoop all of the pumpkin out into a bowl, add a little cinnamon and sugar and eat it just like that.....I told you I like pumpkin!!! lol

Anyway....I recently tried a really yummy pumpkin bread recipe that I thought I would share, so that you too can enjoy one of my favorite things!

Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Cream Cheese Filling:

8 ounce package (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour

Pumpkin Bread:

1 cup (110 grams) pecans or walnuts (I used finely chopped pecans)

3 1/2 cups (490 grams) all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 large eggs

2 cups (400 grams) granulated white sugar

1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 - 15 ounce (425 grams) can pure pumpkin

1/2 cup (120 ml) water or milk

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Butter and lightly flour two - 9 by 5 x 3 inch (23 x 13 x 8 cm) loaf pans. Set aside.

To toast nuts: Place the nuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 - 10 minutes or until brown and fragrant. Cool completely and then chop coarsely. Set aside.

Cream Cheese Filling: In your food processor, process the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and process until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, processing until well incorporated. Stir in the flour. Set aside.

Pumpkin Bread: In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk the eggs until lightly beaten. Add the sugar and melted butter and whisk until blended. Whisk or stir in the pumpkin, water, vanilla extract, and nuts.

Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir just until the ingredients are combined. (A few streaks of flour is fine.) Do not over mix as it will make the bread tough.

Divide the batter in half. Take one half and divide it evenly between the two prepared pans. Divide the cream cheese filling in half and place each half of filling on top the two pans of batter, smoothing the tops. Top with the remaining half of batter. Bake the breads for about 50 - 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Place pans on a wire rack and let cool for about 10 minutes before removing breads from pans. Can serve warm, cold, or at room temperature. Store leftovers in the refrigerator or else freeze for later use.

Makes 2 loaves.

The great pumpkins

Tonight was the big pumpkin carving. I remember such fond memories of carving pumpkins from when I was little. Scooping the seeds and goop up with my bare hands was always my favorite. I wanted Maddie to be able to have that experience.....she wanted nothing to do with it! lol I think it's because shes 2 and we did it too close to bed time. I'm pretty sure that she will like it in the years to come.....she did like the final outcome all lit up. Now I need to sift through the goop and clean the seeds so that I can bake them. yumm. I'm excited that we are starting family traditions. I want to have special traditions that we do every year so that when our kids look back they have rich and whimsical memories of their childhood. Here's to the first of many. Check back for Halloween costume pictures, we are doing a parade downtown tomorrow afternoon and trunk or treat (don't ask) at a nearby church at night. Fun!

Maddie my little ghost (she wouldn't hold still lol)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Its not enough

I've been trying really hard all morning to swallow my tears. Actually it started yesterday evening and made it difficult for me to fall asleep last night. I knew when I moved 3,000 miles away from my family that life would be different, that our relationships would be different and thus far I've been mostly okay with that. For whatever reason having my parents here for this trip as opposed to the handful of other trips has really made me realize what I'm missing, what my girls are missing, and what they are going to grow up without. I am so very sad. Growing up I was never more than a 20 minute car ride from 95% of my family, we don't have that luxury here.

Over the last couple of days I've watched my parents interact with Maddie and Charlotte and I've witnessed my girls fall in love with their grandma and Papa. I see the relationship that is building between Maddie and my mom, the trust that Maddie has for her and I feel so blessed that I have such a special mother, that Maddie has such an incredible Grandma who has so much love to give. But 4 days just isn't enough. Two weeks isn't enough. I want to be part of my family again, birthday dinners, camping trips, barbequing, large family get togethers, hugs and laughter. But I can't do that from 3,000 miles away and its not possible to move.

More than wanting these things for myself, I want them for my girls. I want them to be able to see their Grandma and Papa frequently, I hate that there are months and months in between visits, I hated that when Maddie got up this morning I had to explain to her that they had left and weren't going to be here for a while. I hate that I always feel like we have to cram in months worth of catching up into every visit. It felt so natural having them involved in our day to day life, having them here and doing normal things like cooking, or going to Wal Mart. I'm sure that in a couple of days this melancholy that I'm feeling will go away and life will resume as normal. But I needed to get these words out, needed to have this moment where tears are blurring my vision of what I am typing, and my heart feels like it is going to break. I need to remember what this feels like, because it is real and raw and somewhere underneath the sadness it is most certainly love.

If anyone has a house in California that they would like to give to us, or sell us for well below the actual cost we would gladly accept it! Have your people contact my people! lol

Grandma and Maddie playing catch with the Nemo fish

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I Voted!! Have you?

Dan and I went and voted yesterday and the air felt really charged. I don't know if I can adequately describe the feeling but it felt really big and really important. Voting is such a small took us less than 10 minutes but it is such a huge responsibility and privilege. I've heard people talking about how they can't decide whom to vote for and so they just aren't going to. Seriously, read some more on at least the hot topics and make a decision and vote. You don't have the right to complain that you don't like the way our government is if you don't take any responsibility in choosing who runs it. This is the first election that I'm really excited about, both of the candidates have the opportunity to change our country and it seems like the outcome of the race is going to be a nail biter.

Get your butt out and vote!

Click here to find your early voting location.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Farm experience take two

We went to another farm last week.....this time there was a LOT more to do, and we had such a good time. It's always hard to pick times to get out of the house because Charlotte takes a morning nap, and Maddie naps from around 12:00-2:00 and then Charlotte takes an afternoon nap so most days we can only get out of the house in the late afternoon around 4:00. But, this particular day we decided to skip Maddie's nap and went out hoping for the best!! The farm had 2 bounce houses, a maze, farm animals, a huge 80 foot slide, a train, pony rides, a hayride and pumpkin picking. There were also food stands, duck races and a huge sandbox. My most favorite thing was this indoor room about the size of my living room filled with corn about thigh high (my thigh not Maddie's) 10 kids were allowed in at a time and they could play in the corn like a sandbox. I went in with Maddie and had such a blast.....I kept sinking down into the corn and corn kept getting stuck in the waistband of my pants which was entertaining for Dan who watched me try and get it out!!

It was really really cold that day and add to that, the fact that Charlotte didn't get down for her afternoon nap on time, and Maddie didn't get a nap at all, and Dan and I didn't eat lunch before we went there......after about 3 hours we were DONE. Maddie was acting like a lunatic, Charlotte was crabby and I was starving to death. Both kids fell asleep in the car on the way home and Dan and I drove through and got some food. It was a nice time even though it was pretty hectic. It seems that most outings are hectic for us, but I don't think that can be least not until the girls are older and on one nap a day and can handle the stimulus and travel. But we'll keep working on it because I want them to have the experiences and I love having the fun pictures!

In the corn room

It must have felt good to spread out on top of corn

The choo choo train

Maddie making a choo choo sound along with arm gestures.....highly entertaining!
Charlotte sitting up by herself on the train

She wants you to know she liked the train
My sweet girl

Maddie on the hayride

Off to pick a pumpkin

Maddie trying to lift a pumpkin half her size.

The Winning pictures. It takes a lot of shots to get just a couple of decent pictures.

******Out Takes*******

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It IS an iphone

So, changes have been running amuck in our house. On a drive to Youngsville on Sunday Dan and I decided that since we hardly use our cell phones, and hardly use our land line phone we were going to get rid of one of them all together, and hopefully use the other more. Bye bye land line. And since we were getting rid of a phone bill we decided that we could afford the data package that is mandatory with the, we have iphones. We went this morning and traded in our LG vu phones for brand spanking new iphone 3Gs and let me tell you, they are so fantastic!!! I thought that the vu would be a good alternative, and I guess it was when I didn't know any better, but now that I am in the know.....HELLO!!!! iphone is so so much better!! I highly reccomend it to anyone who wants to make the investment. The screen is so responsive and there are so many ridiculously cool features......GPS, a pretty good camera (for a cell phone anyway) an 8GB ipod etc. Really coolio. Now we just need to figure out how to use all the cool things. Yeah for iphones.

Monday, October 20, 2008

We have flames

Dan came home from Lowe's yesterday with two sleepy/cranky kids and a fire pit! I thought we were going to just make one in the yard, but he bought a 40-something inch steel fire pit. It's pretty came with a cover to keep embers from flying about and he also bought 4 large square stone slabs so that we could put the fire pit on our deck. Last night we made a fire and made s'mores and Maddie ran all over the deck in sugar euphoria. Staying away from the fire was a hard concept for her, but we'll keep working on it......especially now since we have a fire pit and can use it all winter! Dan and I stayed outside after we put Maddie to bed enjoying good conversation and a bigger and warmer fire. Below is a picture of the small fire.....can you see the marshmallows? And our bigger fire. I think that fire looks really cool photographed.

A little dose of vitamin C

My darling Charlotte is quickly approaching 5 months old!! It feels like time has both crawled along and flown by. It's nice to have change in seasons to help mark the passing of summer ending and fall beginning also gives our family a new beginning. If we were a business this would be a new quarter! lol Things are getting better overall. Yes, we still have poop issues (we are currently on day 5 with no poop) but Charlotte seems more manageable with her fussiness. She is a smiley girl.....seriously smiles all the time, but she can go from a huge smile to a huge grimace in mere seconds and then back to a smile again just as quickly. She is starting to laugh a lot more which is so freakin' adorable!! She is still nursing, but she also gets a bottle of formula each night before bed. She goes down to sleep for both naps and bedtime with such ease; I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and for her to start protesting.....keeping fingers crossed! Other than having to put the paci back in a couple times a night, she sleeps from 7:00 pm until 6:00 am. We went through the same paci issues with Maddie, and once she is able to grab the paci and put it in her mouth herself, that nighttime task ends.....usually around 7 or 8 months. She is starting to sit up on her own, but she usually ends up folded in half.....which is what Maddie did as well until she got better back strength. She is also really into her feet. She discovered them about a week ago and now she can't get enough of them.....she hasn't started putting them in her mouth yet, but I'm sure that will be the next step! We started her on apples, but stopped because she broke out in a rash and I wasn't sure if it was from the apples or because she is TEETHING!!!! we go again! I swear teething is some form of punishment/torture for parents. We'll get through it, but man.....can't kids teethe when they are like 5? lol I’m excited because my mom and dad are coming to visit and arriving tomorrow. They are staying for a few days and they haven't seen Charlotte since she was 5 weeks old. They're gonna be shocked at how big she is and how heavy she is and how darn cute she is. And she is all of those things and more. My little cutie pie!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hurry up and enjoy myself

I am currently alone in the house. It is blissfully and deliciously quiet. Dan took the girls to Lowe's this morning.....something that he enjoys.....don't really know why because a toddler and an infant in any store is a nightmare for me, but he likes it. And then he is going to get breakfast, maybe biscuits of some kind. Which means that I have a precious hour or so all to myself.....I better hurry up and enjoy myself!!

We did not go camping this weekend. We were all set to go, groceries were bought, camping stuff was brought in from the shed, Maddie got her very own sleeping bag......and then it rained, all day Friday and off and on Saturday and the temperature dropped like 20-30 degrees from highs in the lower 80s to the high yesterday being 54 degrees. Way too cold and wet to be living outside for 2 nights with little ones. We were really bummed, but it was the right decision not to go. We are thinking about rescheduling for the next weekend that Dan has off which is the 31st-2nd.....last year for Halloween it was in the 80s so maybe we'll have better weather then!!

Since we did not get to go away and do camping things, we are going to stay home and do camping things. We are making a fire pit in our backyard using large rocks as the perimeter and we are going to cook our dinner on the fire tonight and then do s'mores and enjoy a big bonfire. We went out and bought some yummy smelling oak firewood from a local guy and I can't wait to burn it and listen to the crackle and pop. We've been planning on putting a fire pit in our back yard, we just haven't gotten to it yet, so what better time than today? We'll bundle up (since it is still cold out.....although sunny today) bring our camping chairs out and spend time together as a family cooking over the fire. I think that Maddie is really going to dig it! And it might very well prepare her for the next time we camp which will hopefully be in 2 weeks.

There has been extra time this weekend since we didn't go away and I've been filling it with a little CD project. I'm organizing all of our music on the computer and putting it into files by artist and starting a music library of sorts. I'm also going through all of our CDs and uploading them onto the computer. This is a HUGE project because we have about 7,000 songs on the computer alone, and that doesn't even count what I'm uploading from our CD collections.....and we probably have 200 or so CDs between the two of us!! The finished product is going to be really awesome though, and this is something that we've wanted to do for a long time, but have never just taken the time to get it done. Currently we have 628 different artists, and 7,200 songs and I've barely started on our CDs. Dan would like to sub-categorize the files by album, but that is a step that will have to come later! One thing at a time.

Well, I best be off. I have my coffee and I'm ready to read the new post secrets in my lovely quiet house! Have a great Sunday!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I got tagged

I got tagged.....

Thanks to my friend Becky I get to blog about some of the things that the other half of me (DAN) loves.

So, here goes.....

He loves being a dad and he adores his girls!

I'm pretty sure he thinks that I'm a-ok. (us back in the day!)

Off roading....trailblazing etc.

He likes when there are republicans in the white house!

Traveling...especially with me!

Bubble baths? Nah.....this picture is just too funny to not post.

The great outdoors (yes, he is standing in a HUGE redwood tree)

His drinking hat (pictured here, he is two sheets to the wind)

Working on man projects around the house

Trying new things....even if they make him sick

Water sports

Tyson and Henry

Working outside in the yard and being buff! lol


Driving fast (and subsequently getting speeding tickets)

Goofing around with friends

Making me laugh till my belly hurts!

He also likes snowboarding, fishing, watching TV, going to the movies, group sports, getting the mail, cooking, cartoons, reading the drudge report, arguing with me over politics.....and pretty much anything that is manly! I think that I'm supposed to tag other people, but I don't really know other people besides Becky who blog with blogger. So, apparently the buck stops here.

County McCounterson