7.22.2011

Dessert without chocolate?

Yet again, our dessert night will not be this Sunday because we won't be here. So tonight we, yes all three of us, made Strawberry Cream Puff Cake. I think it's almost a sin to have a dessert that does not include chocolate as an ingredient. But I'm married to someone who thinks that there is life outside of chocolate and prefers it that way. I would be happy with Duncan Hines brownies for dessert. No ice cream. Just a brownie, or two :) I can't always make desserts that only I like, because only I eat it, and only I get fat. So I have to balance the chocolate desserts with desserts that I'll enjoy the day I make it, but never put in my mouth again as long as it sits in my kitchen.

My adorable little helper 


Don't get me wrong...this dessert was good. I just never ever crave dessert that involves anything cold or fruity...yes, that means I don't care for ice cream. But I will eat it. My favorite part about this dessert was the strawberries (because I LOVE strawberries) and the cake. The cake had a really smooth, moist texture that would be perfect with some sort of chocolate mousse. Of course, I was thinking of ways to turn this dessert into something chocolaty. I will be making it again because Brent and Lily loved it! But, I think I will leave out the orange zest. Too much citrus for me.

 I need a spring form pan. I don't have one. Thankfully, Brent has Alton Brown from Food Network on speed dial, so we called him :) This was his solution. 

 Lily watching Daddy zest the orange. She had that Auburn shirt on from the time she woke up from her nap until she went to bed. It didn't matter how many times she tripped on it or how many times she got frustrated because she couldn't find her arms, she wasn't taking it off. 

 Sharing the cream cheese mixture with Daddy

Tasting it for herself

 
 Hanging out in the kitchen, waiting for the cake to cool

 The VERY puffy cake. I was a little concerned when I first took it out of the oven...

  ...but it turned out just fine!

Now, go make it for all your non-chocolate dessert lovers. 

7.21.2011

Surprise, Pie, and the Ugly Cry


I have some exciting news...but you'll have to wait.

I'm not pregnant.

My new dessert recipe last week was Tollhouse Pie. I don't have a picture of it. Actually, I do, but I'm too exhausted to get off the couch right now to get my camera. Here's the recipe..simple and quick. Easily doubled to make enough for a crowd. Unfortunately, not on the list of favorite desserts. I thought it would be since I LOVE chocolate chip cookies, especially Nestle Tollhouse cookies. I'll take my mom's pan cookies over this pie any day. The weird part is I made it before I went to Atlanta to see Allison only to find out that she had plans for us to make it while I was there. So I got a double dose of this recipe!

Why am I too exhausted you ask? Because I ran for 25 minutes in the heat while pushing a stroller up and down a few minor hills. No biggie you say? Remember that I DON'T run!

Would you be disappointed if I told you that the above information is my exciting news? I would be too. Here's the actual exciting news. Brent "careered" on July 19th!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's unofficial. He will be a career agent on August 1, but the cut off for policy numbers was July 19th.

If you remember this post, I have been praying every day since then that Brent would meet his requirements to career by July 19th. Tuesday of last week, he was 12 policies short. Tuesday of this week, he had written 12 more policies, plus he discovered a policy he wrote a while ago that, for whatever reason, hadn't been added to his count.

PRAISE GOD!!!

As I mentioned earlier, I was in Atlanta the first part of this week to visit Allison, my BFF from my good ol' days at Auburn. She is in a girl's Bible study and it was scheduled to be at her house one of the nights I was there. I truly enjoyed it. It was such a blessing to be in the company Allison's friends, even if it was only for a few hours. They were doing a study on James and that night happened to be the end of the study, so we were looking at chapter 5. The whole night I was comforted to know that Brent and I are smack dab exactly where God wants us. Here's evidence:

James 5:1-6 is a "Warning to the Rich"...not that my teacher's salary was making us rich, but having an abundance of money decreases our need to depend on God.

James 5: 7-12 is "Patience in Suffering"...I wouldn't say that we are suffering, but we are learning to be very patient and wait for the Lord's perfect timing. He's never late and never delays. He is always on time. We have to trust in His timing. 

James 5:13-20 is "The Prayer of Faith"..."the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." This is the part that really got to me. I fervently prayed about something for 18 days. He heard my prayer, that's nothing new (Prov. 15:9). I prayed that prayer fully understanding that His answer could have been "no" or "wait, I have something better", but I was hoping for a yes. And it was :) It's humbling that He would give me what I asked for. But what's even better is the peace and comfort I felt knowing that my heart was on the same page as His. This is the way I see it...it isn't as if I prayed for something and God said, "Hey Brittany, that sounds like a good idea. Glad you thought of it." Instead, I was praying for something the Lord had already appointed and He said, "I am more than delighted to give you what you are asking for because it was my plan to begin with." That's what Psalm 37:4 is all about...you don't get what you want. You draw nearer to God then you begin to pray for what He wants.

So here's where the ugly cry comes in. If there is anything I strongly dislike about myself, it's my emotional ugly cry. Anytime I have to speak in front of people about something that has touched my heart, I am just absolutely overcome with emotion and get this awful look on my face and cry uncontrollably. Ugh, I hate it. That is why I really do not like speaking in front of people. Surprisingly, I made it through my students' awards day without this happening, but I have no idea how!

It was time for prayer requests and I couldn't think of one. All I could think about was how overjoyed I was by the Lord and his favor. I debated not saying anything because I knew I would cry and I had only known these girls for 2 hours. But God wouldn't have it. He wanted me to brag on Him because He had done great things in my life and He deserves my praise, even if it's covered in tears and you can't understand what I am saying. I didn't know those girls, but they know my Father, so that makes us sisters, right? So I gave them a quick run down of all that was going on and how the Lord has blessed us beyond measure...sobs and all. Then I apologized for crying and for how they would always remember me as the girl that cries uncontrollably.  Apparently they cry a lot in Bible study, it just happened to be my turn that night :)

Was it a coincidence that I was in Atlanta that night for a Bible study on James 5? I think not. It was a divine appointment for some encouragement from a bunch of my sisters that I hardly know :)

7.15.2011

Random 5

1.  My new recipe for the week was a success...a tasteless success. It was a super easy recipe (Summer Corn Chowder) including fresh corn, baby red potatoes, onion, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. No flavor. Very bland. If I was lacking in the area of new recipes to try, I would work with this one to give it some spark. Unfortunately, I have a kajillion other recipes waiting on me, so see ya later chowder! 


2.  Lily had a playdate today with Brennan, her "birthday buddy". We went to a new indoor inflatable jump place. Lily spent the first 30 minutes being scared of everything. She wouldn't play on her own in the toddler inflatables, so I climbed in the big moon bounce with her and took her down the slide. She LOVES slides on playgrounds, so I knew an inflatable slide would be a big hit. It was, but she wouldn't go down without me. So I jumped, climbed, and slid like I was a kid again...except when I was a kid, I didn't have a 22 lb toddler on my hip the whole time :)


3.  I start week 7 of Couch to 5K next week! I was a bit of a slacker this week, only ran 2 out of 3 runs. This program has been so easy! I ran 20 minutes straight for the first time last week. I have NEVER EVER done that in my life. I know that seems like nothing to some of you, but it's a big deal for me. The last time I ran for any length of time was doing the mile run in school...9th grade to be exact. I remember throwing up the banana I had for lunch in the parking lot at SVHS. Nothing like a hot regurgitated banana to make you wanna run again. 


4.  There will be no Sunday Dessert Night this week. All three of us will be in separate places :( I already know what I'm making next week! I'm really excited about it. Nothing fancy and it involves chocolate (because it wouldn't be dessert otherwise). 


5.  Lily's current favorite YouTube video...can anyone tell me why? 


7.11.2011

Lily Lately

Just when I think you can't get any funnier, you do! You CRACK us up! You are becoming more and more like a little girl and less and less like a baby girl :(
 

Some things you've been doing lately:

Your first sentence-- "I like it". You say it correctly and, no surprise, you say it when you like something. You say it most frequently when we are out shopping.

Your second sentence--"I wannee" which means "I love you". Of all the things we have said to you and you have repeated back, it sure did take you a long almost 19 months to start repeating this phrase. I'm pretty sure we say this to you 134,967,890 times a day and I don't know why it took you so long to return the love :)

When we are standing in the kitchen cooking, you wrap your arms around our leg and say "hug".

"Righteer" which means "right here". You say this when we get in the car and you want Mommy, the dog, or one of your stuffed animals to sit beside you. You say this when we give you your medicine while you sit on the rug that Sanibel sits on when she has to go outside. You say this when we are watching DVD's and you want to sit in our laps. You begin about a foot away and back your little booty into our laps.

You are saying please and thank you, many times without being told.

We love to watch you play pretend. Mommy and Daddy joke that you have more responsibility than we do...we only have to care for us, you, and the dog. You have to care for Sanibel, Puppy, Aubie, Ladybug, Elmo, Bear, and your baby doll. Must be a tough job! You walk them in your stroller (walker) or you turn the kitchen stool upside down and scoot them around on the floor. You change their diapers. You put lotion ("fafa") on them. Every time you eat, they eat. And you cry for them when you are eating like they are going to starve if you don't feed them. You tell them "Puppy eat", "Aubie eat".  You put them "night night" by laying them on your shoulder, hugging them, or rocking then you scream "Wake Up!" You don't treat Sanibel like you do the stuffed animals. You probably would if she would let you. But you do get pieces of her food out of her bowl and chase her around the house, saying "Bubba eat". And if Sanibel won't eat it, you feed it to your stuffed animals. 


You call Sanibel and ladybug "Bubba". It gets a little confusing for Mommy, Daddy, and poor Sanibel. 

We took you to Chattanooga July 3-4. We went with the Vail's. Logan is 4 months younger than you. Neither one of you really interacted with each other, but then again, both of you were strapped in your stroller for much of the trip. We visited the aquarium, zoo, had BBQ at Sugar's, and frozen yogurt at Top It Off. Your favorites from the trip: monkeys, penguins, jaguars, and playing with the phone at the hotel. It had a cord (which I don't think you've ever seen before), so you would walk as far as you could until the cord was stretched and popped out of your hand. You did not like the spiders, racoons, coyotes, and peacocks. 

You are not eating well at all. I can't tell you the last time you sat down and ate more than 5 bites of something.  Dr. B said that you will eat when you are hungry, to keep putting the right foods in front of you,  and to give you a multivitamin on the days you don't eat well. 

You get overly excited about clothes and/or laundry...clean, dirty, too big, not purchased...any type of clothing item that is near you, it's reason to smile, giggle, jibber jabber and go on and on and on about "toz". You attempt to dress yourself. You can successfully put one shirt on each leg and underwear on your head. Your favorite clothing item is Mommy's Winnie the Pooh pj shorts that she bought in 5th grade from Walmart! We are NOT taking them with us to see the Winnie the Pooh movie later this month. 

Side Note: You are probably wondering why I have pj shorts from 5th grade. They've been washed so many times that they have that falling apart, thin, cotton comfort. Which is also the reason I still have my Power Puff Girls pj pants from 9th grade. Too comfortable to throw away. Did I plan on sharing that with the world? Not really. But I gotta keep it real. 


Your Daddy has taught you to raise your hand and say "me" when we ask you questions like, "Who loves Daddy?" "Who loves Mommy?" "Who loves Sanibel?" 


Thankfully, you aren't saying no as much as you have been. You were saying it 2,482 times a day and now you only say it 2,481 times a day. Your new word is "yes" :) We like that word around here! Remember how I said you had a very deliberate nod? You have a very deliberate and clear "yes". Very serious and absolutely hilarious! 


Alright, enough talk. Here are some pics. 


 Just a stroll through the backyard with Aubie and Bubba

 Being silly with Mommy

 Pop pulling you in your "wabo"

 You LOVE to sweep and Mommy LOVES that!

 The view from our hotel room. Nice huh? 
This is actually inside the aquarium.

 Checking out the fish with Daddy

You and Logan





 A pitiful attempt to get a good pic of the two of you. As soon as I took it, both of you were squirming to get out of the chair. 

 You and Mommy through the jellyfish tank. 

 We looked at the glass art a little longer than desired. You were intrigued by them and screamed when we finally walked away. 

 Kissing your souvenir from the aquarium--a pink penguin. You call her "P". 

 Let's see how far I can get with this cord. 

 Super Duper excited about the "montees". You kept saying, "ooo ooo eee eee".

 Family pic in front of some type of lizard

 Walking through the zoo

 You really enjoyed it 

 At the petting zoo...

 ...trying to convince you that this is Bubba, just a different color.

 The jaguars got very close to you and Logan! You were scared at first...

 ...but you really liked them in the end. 

 Riding the merry go round. We were the only ones on it. It was inside and the music could probably be heard through the whole zoo. If you didn't have problems with your ears before, you do now. 

 Mommy built a fort in the bedroom! 

 It's tough work being in a fort all morning. 

 By far the best use of an old quilt

 "Lily, lay down and take a picture with me"

 "I didn't say pinch my face, I said get beside my face." 

 I give up 

 My Pooh shorts...whoever said Walmart didn't make quality clothing doesn't know what they are talking about. 

 Pooh on your head

 Pushing the other Bubba around in the kitchen stool

Snuggling with Mommy before bedtime

7.10.2011

Scripture, Recipes, and Sunday Dessert Nights

Scripture
(from Deuteronomy 8)


7For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, 8a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, 9a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper.10And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.


11"Take care lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God


17Beware lest you say in your heart, 'My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.' 18You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19And if you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. 20Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God.



Our pastor preached from Deuteronomy 8 today. I absolutely love this passage. I've written about it here. It's a reminder to me that God is ever-present and involved in every situation I am in. God longs to bless us. He is our Creator and desires to give us good things. But He absolutely cannot bless disobedience. The message is simple...walk in His ways and He will bless you. Walk in your own ways and find destruction. It was great for me to hear this message today because it confirmed for me (as if I needed any more confirmation) that the changes that are taking place in our family (me staying at home, Brent's new career) are obedient to God's plan. He is blessing us and the requirement for God's blessings are obedience. I find peace and joy knowing we are walking in His ways. I give all glory to God for giving us hearts that desire to obey Him.

Recipes

I've been bookmarking recipes online like crazy. I love to cook and try new recipes. After bookmarking a ton of recipes for most of the summer, I decided it was time to actually try some of the dishes. I mentioned Salsa Chicken about a month ago. It's super easy and very tasty. I also made Sweet and Sour Chicken a couple weeks ago. DELICIOUS! My goal is to make one new dinner and one new  dessert recipe a week. Since we've been married, Brent and I have started a tradition of eating dessert for dinner on Sunday nights. Probably not the healthiest tradition, but a yummy one for sure! It started because we would either go out for lunch or I would cook a big lunch. We didn't need to eat out again and I didn't want to cook again. Before Lily was born, our Sunday dessert nights would often be at Starbucks. I don't buy snack/junk foods and we don't eat dessert any other night of the week, so I think one splurge a week is allowed and definitely enjoyed! My plan for the dessert we don't eat: send it to work with Brent or give it to our neighbors. 



So, here's what I made this week. Pioneer Woman is the one responsible for these yummy creations. 


Grilled Chicken Salad with feta cheese, fresh blueberries, and fresh corn. OH.MY. was this good! The only thing I left out was celery because there isn't anything good about celery. You don't cook the corn, which makes the salad extra crunchy. And if you want a lighter meal, it's great without the chicken too! I didn't expect Brent to enjoy this. He went back for seconds. Did you hear me? Brent went back for seconds on chicken salad!!! A second helping of a new recipe is always an indication to me of a meal worth repeating. Don't tell my Momma, but I do believe I have found a chicken salad recipe that can top hers (and her chicken salad is pretty uh-mazing)! 



Salted Caramel Brownie on a fancy paper plate. This dessert was my first time to ever make caramel. Do you know how hard it is to just dump sugar and water into a pan, NOT stir it,  and wait for it to boil and turn an amber color? Difficult for impatient people. I think it got a little too dark because the caramel tasted just a little burnt. But on the good side, the brownie is so ooey gooey good that I couldn't tell. I have one rule about brownies: I never eat just one. It's not enough. Until now. I can put down some rich, dark chocolate. But this brownie combined with the salted caramel was by far the richest thing I've ever put in my mouth. I could only eat one! I'll definitely be making this again and I'll try to perfect my caramel making skills. 



Coming later this week: a new Lily Lately with pics from our trip to Chattanooga and her first sentence!

7.01.2011

God's Blessings Grow

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 4:6-7

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19

Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established.
Proverbs 16:3

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 
2 Corinthians 9:8

I'll get back to all these verses in a minute.

If there is anything I have learned during Brent's career transition, it has been to pray at all times and to be specific with my requests. There have been multiple opportunities to doubt. I know that I doubt, so I can only imagine how much more Brent doubts. I learned early on, the hard way, that if I don't cover my day in prayer I am a very discouraging, questioning wife. And a husband who has had a bad day doesn't want to come home to a wife who's words and attitude aren't uplifting. So I decided a few weeks back that, by the grace and power of God, I am going to have encouraging and uplifting words to say, even on the crappiest of days. I choose to trust everyday that today has happened the way God planned for it to happen.

And it's a good thing that God already changed my attitude because I had a husband that came home for lunch today that was very discouraged and doubtful. Any amount of being positive and uplifting just wasn't changing a thing.

I'm trying to be a praying wife and mother. I can't go out and help Brent sell insurance but I can get on my knees before the Lord. After he went back to work and Lily was down for a nap, I got out my Bible. About 2 weeks ago, I began reading through Philippians for no reason other than I just wanted to. I was asked by a friend why I picked Philippians and I didn't have an answer. I do now. Just so happens that the section I read today was in chapter 4, mainly verses 4-20. I know that God led me to begin reading Philippians two weeks ago so that today I would be encouraged by Paul's words. I read the commentaries and the related verses for chapter 4 and it was so obvious that God was telling me that He supplies all needs for those who are in Christ Jesus.

I know that. I've known that for most of my life. God supplies our every need. So why in the world do I allow doubt and fear to creep into my mind?

And a question that's burning in my heart today is why why why do I read His word and think God would do differently than what his word promises?

So this is what I did...Philippians 4 tells me to make my requests known to God. Not because He doesn't already know my requests. I do this so that the peace of God which transcends understanding will guard my heart and mind. So I made 3 simple requests.
1.  For Brent and I to commit our work to the Lord and seek to glorify Him.
2.  For the salvation of Lily, for her to be like Jesus, and to not be influenced by the world.
3.  For Brent to "career" by July 19th.

Now I hope #1 and #2 make complete sense to you. Let me explain #3--when I say "career" I am speaking of the next level of training. He has to write a certain number of policies before he can career and they have to be written within a 4 month period, otherwise his written policies that are outside of the 4 month period no longer count toward his number of needed policies to career. Got it? Great. I knew you'd catch on quickly.

Brent had an appointment this afternoon at 4 that he knew would be a waste of his time because the quote he was presenting was too high.

At 5:20 (when Lily and I woke up from our 3 hour nap...woah!) Brent still wasn't home from his appointment. I knew one of two things was possible: the meeting was going surprisingly well, or the man he met with was a creep and was holding Brent hostage. Hoping that the first one was reality, I didn't call for fear of interrupting.

At 5:30 he finally called to tell me that the meeting went well and the guy is going to let Brent write his home and auto policies. Waste of time? I think not :) I was ecstatic with that news. But he had more to tell me. While he was at that appointment another lady called who wants him to quote her home, 4 autos, and 2 life insurance policies. I WAS FLOORED!!! Praise be to God who is able to do abundantly more than we ask of him!

Brent said before he left his office he spent a few minutes repenting of is doubt and bad attitude and thanked God from a humble heart that He is good to us when we least deserve it. Brent said that if the tables were turned and he was the one in control he would have said to himself, "Come back when you think I can actually do something." Thankfully God doesn't say that to us. In the midst of our doubt, God showed up big time. Did we deserve it? No! Do we ever deserve it, even on our best days? No. But He loves us and desires to be good to us.

Tonight we had our bedtime Bible story with Lily. We read from the Big Picture Story Bible. The title was "God's Blessings Grow" and the first sentence said, "David was amazed at how good God was."

I think that sums up the day, and any day for that matter...God's blessings grow and we are amazed at how good God is.

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