Thursday, March 31, 2011

International Pillow Fight Day

When's the last time you had a pillow fight?  Yeah, I can't remember either.  I was pretty surprised when I stumbled upon info on International Pillow Fight Day - which is this Saturday - celebrated all over the world.  Literally, every continent will be celebrating:  Brazil, Australia, Ukraine, South Korea, you name it.

Of course Portland isn't going to pass on such a quirky festivity. The joy starts this Saturday at 2pm at Director Park in SW Portland.  More info on rules and such can be found here.

I might stop by just to see a bunch of adults going at it. I'll bring a pillow, because it looks pretty irresistible...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Brick by brick

Photo by RaeoLight

"God is building a home. He's using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he's using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home."

 - From Ephesians 2

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Love: tea tins for flowers and herbs

Growing herbs in tea tins on the kitchen windowsill.  Love this idea. Definitely saving it for when I have a kitchen with a window!

Also awesome are flowers in tea tins.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Crockpot favorite: preserving flavors

I was very excited to come across Slow Cooker Revolution, which addresses my biggest concern with crockpots - lack of rich flavor.  Ten test cooks spent a year figuring out ways to intensify and preserve flavors during the slow cook process and live to share their results.  I've already skimmed through and see some interesting ideas I haven't thought of before, like using the microwave or oven to prep ingredients for the slow cook process or making a foil packet to keep veggies from overcooking or losing too much flavor.

I am excited for this type of wisdom to take my much loved slow cooker meals  from good to out of this world great.   Stay tuned - I will surely be posting my favorites from this new book. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday cupcake love

So I didn't end up making the pretty marshmallow flower cupcakes today - instead I made these Devil's Chocolate w/ Raspberry Creme Cheese Frosting cupcakes.  They turned out delicious. Thanks Kat for suggesting raspberry creme cheese frosting!

They are an absolute delight for the mouth and easy to make, considering the cupcake itself is made from a cake mix.  I didn't have the appropriate cupcake decorating supplies, so I poured the frosting into a ziplock bag, snipped off a little corner and went to town. 

1. Make Devil's Food cake mix according to package instructions - put into cupcake pan. 
2. Make frosting.
3. Decorate.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting
makes enough to decorate 24 cupcakes

1 stick butter, room temperature
1 block (8oz) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup raspberry jam

1. Beat butter on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy
2. Add cream cheese and beat on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy (30 seconds-1 minute)
3. Sift powdered sugar over creamed mixture and beat on medium low until the sugar is all incorporated 
4. Add jam and continue beating.

Note: Make sure you don't overbeat or else the frosting will become soupy.  Also, its cream cheese frosting so if you don't refrigerate it, it will start to sag.  

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Best cookies ever

cookiesmores (4)
(Photo by Steph from Obsessed with Baking)

Was in the baking mood today making cupcakes when I came across the Smores Cookie recipe. Of course I had to stop what I was doing and make these. And it was worth it.

The cookies are truly fantastic - the batter is delicious on its own, but then you add the chocolate and marshmallows...absolute goodness!  I will definitely be making these many times again.  

Smores Cookies
Adapted from Obsessed with Baking 

Makes 2 dozen cookies

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups miniature chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows* 
1 Hershey bar chopped

1. With a mixer, combine the butter and sugars until fluffy. 
2. Mix in egg and vanilla until combined. Add the flour, graham crackers, salt, and baking soda, mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips.
3. Refrigerate dough for about an hour.
4. Preheat oven to 375ºF 
5. Drop by rounded tablespoon (I used an ice-cream scoop) onto cookie sheets. Bake for 8 minutes, and remove from the oven. Push 2 to 3 marshmallows and a few pieces of a hershey's bar into each cookie. Return to the oven and bake an additional 2-3 minutes until fully cooked. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

*Note: I had large marshmallows and cut them up - definitely much stickier way to do it but still works. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Welcoming spring with a bunting banner

This weekend I celebrated the oncoming of Spring by making a bunting banner for the bathroom.  It was  super easy and instantly added some Spring color to the most important room in the house. Plus, because it was hanging on a mirror, the reflection from the back made it look like we have two banners hanging.  Makes me want to sing Double Rainbow

Thanks Odessa May for the inspiration!

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Absolutely love this picture by Bloom Print because its so true! Five years ago I would have never resonated so strongly with this picture, but now just looking at this print makes me super happy.  Then when I think about this upcoming week - my last Spring break as a college kid - and you know what I am most excited about? That's right, spending some quality time in the kitchen making some delicious meals for those I love. Excited to spend quality time with friends visiting on their Spring break over a glass of wine and home cooked grub.  Ah, this is the life! 

Here is what we're eating this week:

To celebrate the coming of Spring, maybe I will make some pretty cupcakes...  These caught my eye as cute and fun. Maybe I will make them with my little brother.  

Friday, March 18, 2011

Crockpot favorite: easy pulled pork

Seriously, this pulled pork cannot be easier to make - a potluck favorite.

Easy Pulled Pork 
makes 12 servings

16 oz. root beer
18 oz bottle of your favorite bbq sauce
3-4 lbs pork shoulder

1. Put pork shoulder into slow cooker and pour root beer to cover pork.
2. Cover and cook on low 6-7 hours. 
3. Drain pork & shred it with knife and fork - at this point you can also easily remove any bones or excess fat.
4. Return pork to crockpot - add bottle of your favorite bbq sauce, mix.
5. Cover and cook on low 1 hour. 

Enjoy on mini buns, hoagie rolls, coleslaw or anything else! Makes delicious left overs. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Banned children's book worth reading

It's A Book by Lane Smith bluntly reminds us in our techno-consumed world the pleasure and simplicity of a book. A short snippet:

Seems like a timely and poignant lesson, but this book has stirred controversy amidst schools and literacy programs, forcing many teachers to avoid this book as if its the plague.  

Which raises the interesting topic of censorship and children.  What criteria do you follow in choosing what content to give your children or students to read? When choosing For yourself? Would you let your child read a book that has a questionable word in it if the message was overall profound? 

In any case, I think every adult should get their hands on Its A Book and read it.  Yep, its that good. 

On a similar note, Futura is playing at the Portland Center Stage.  Looking forward to seeing it next week. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cake Stencils

Baking, let alone being artsy with precise cake decorating has always been a bit out of my league.  But I've always loved paper crafts, so when I learned about cake stencils I felt like there was still some hope for me.

Brooke from Playing Grown Up shares a free printable stencil and gives an excellent tutorial.  

Or if you have any doily's left over from Valentine's day... 

Or for something more advanced...

My Sweet & Saucy shows how to make this beautiful cake.

Now to think of an excuse to make a cake... 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lessons from the Shamrock

(Photo via Evan Pilchik Photography)

This Sunday, David and I, along with 75,000 other people ran the Shamrock Run.  The atmosphere was very festive, with live music and people dressed in their wacky greens.  In the 5k, we ran alongside 11,000 other people through downtown, greeted with encouraging live music at every mile post.

Despite the lively mood, something was missing, and I realized that this something is the most important thing and the reason why I run these races.  I run these races for the exhilarating feeling at the end of the race, when after 30 minutes of running as fast as humanely possible, I can just lay down and soak up the adrenaline.  It is a wonderful feeling, and (understandably) amidst these 75,000 people there was no room at the end to sit down let alone lay down.  We had to struggle to find some water and by then the mood for soaking it all in had passed.

But this confirms my appreciation for smaller races with 1,000 runners or less. The Stoller Vineyards Run was incredibly difficult, but at the end the view was marvelous and you actually felt connected with the other runners.  Same with the OktoberFest Run in Mt. Angel.

Excited for these April races: Race for the Roses and the Spring Burst - both are for great causes, and we've done the Race for the Roses last year, which was my first race ever, so it has a special place in our hearts.

Are you running this year? What is your favorite race? What makes for a good running experience for you?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rediscovering a childhood favorite

Wrapping up the term for my young adult literature class I decided to do my author study on Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.  Although she is most known for her award winning Shiloh, I know her from the Boys Start the War/Girls Get Even series.  I have very fond memories reading these hilarious adventures fueled with pranks, friendship and a little love between two neighboring families.  These were definitely the books that got me excited about reading and to this day I recommend it to any reluctant reader in 4th-8th grade.  I was also excited to find out that she's added to the series since I last checked.  Maybe I'm too old for this kind of book, but there is always room for a little trip down memory lane, right? 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Crockpot favorites: Lentil & Ham Stew

Easy and delicious - this is a crockpot recipe I will make plenty of times to come.  Perfect for a chilly day.  Thanks Betty Crocker!

Lentil & Ham Stew
makes 10 servings

1 pound fully cooked smoked ham, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (3 cups)
4 medium stalks celery, chopped (2 cups)
4 medium carrots, chopped (2 cups)
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 cans (10.5 oz each) condensed chicken broth
2 cups dried lentils (1 pound), sorted rinsed
4 cups water
Wheat Thins

1. Mix all ingredients (except last three) into 5-6 qt slow cooker.
2. Cover and cook on low heat setting 8-10 hours or until lentils are tender.
3. Add Tabasco, pepper to taste (I prefer to do this to each bowl individually).  
4. Sprinkle with Wheat Thins and enjoy!

Another lentil favorite is the Lentil Tacos w/ Onion and Jalapeno Salsa.
Saving this Beenie Weenie recipe per husband's request. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sleeping is all I wanna do

Sometimes its just one of those days.

Can I just wake up when its time for this?

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