Tuesday, June 29, 2010

a tuesday, in true ramble style.

I finished "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls last night. All I can say is...wow. That woman had one heck of a childhood. Read it.

Today I kissed, held, fed and changed little ones, then came home and passed out for a few minutes before Bible study. We had an amazing dinner of "loaded" salad with brownies and ice cream for dessert and talked about conflict and confrontation within the church. I love these women and their hearts for the Lord.

I came back to an empty house (Andy works until 11pm) and read a document on Becker family history (Becker is my maiden name). I am so proud of my family's history and love to learn about the people who have influenced me and whose blood is inside me. My cousin Joe said at my grandpa's funeral earlier this year, "Becker's don't have an identity crisis." I love that! It is so true. I am so grateful to my uncle Jim for compiling family history and making it incredibly simple for everyone in the family to learn about our ancestors.

On a completely different note, Andy just got home and Casey, in her excitement, got caught up in his tie while giving him kisses and sniffing him all over.

Monday, June 28, 2010

summertime and the dinners are goood

Tonight I'm serving pulled pork sandwiches, corn on the cob with herb butter, baked beans and watermelon. Ahh. As suggested by my friend Amber, I slow cooked pork shoulder (Boston Butt was the cut I bought) in 18oz of root beer. When I got home from work I added a few squirts of Sweet Baby Ray's and walked the dog and checked email. Then I shredded the pork, added a little extra bbq sauce and placed it between Martin's potato buns-- my favorite!

I made the herb butter on a whim. Every food magazine I've read lately has a recipe for corn with herb butter, so I've been thinking and salivating over it for quite some time. I used a few tablespoons of room temp butter, some chopped fresh basil, a smidge of garlic and salt and pepper. Delish.

We called Jackie and Kevin at the last minute to come help us eat all the food. It was a great impromptu dinner party and perfect for summer.

below is a pic of the pork sloooowly cooking away. it's red due to the flash.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

voices to learn from

Jeanette Walls and Alexandra Fuller are two authors I would love to meet. I recently read Half Broke Horses by Walls (incredible) and I finally got a copy of her memoir The Glass Castle, so I plan on starting that tonight. I've read all three of Fuller's books and loved each of them, but my favorite was Don't Let's Go To the Dog's Tonight- my top rated read of 2008. I've re-read it since then, but already want to read it for a third time.

Read their books. Tell me what you think.

Also, one thing that continually brings joy to my life: being a Barnes and Noble member has always been worth the money for me, but now they offer members FREE shipping. I just ordered three bargain books (total w/ tax was $8.37!!) which means I better read The Glass Castle and finish Let Me Be a Woman by Elizabeth Elliott before the start of next week! Life is hard.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

idyllic saturday

Last Saturday Andy and I drove to Low Moor, VA to visit my sister and brother-in-law, Katie and Todd. They took us out on Lake Moomaw and Todd taught Andy how to bowfish. You can see Andy catch his first carp here.

It was a gorgeous sunny (HOT) day and we stayed on the lake for nearly seven hours. It was so good to be out in nature, fishing, swimming and snacking. :) I especially enjoyed seeing Andy smile all day long. He called me his "lake hottie" and I could tell he was having the time of his life. We called the trip a much needed "day vacation."

In the evening the boys played 9 holes of golf while Katie and I watched Arrested Development and we all met up at Jack Mason's in Clifton Forge for a late dinner. Amazing. We all split the fried pickles and then Andy and I split nachos, wings and fish and chips. Yum.

Thank you, Todd and Katie! We love you!

OH, and we saw a bear. :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

answers to prayers

God has been busy working in my life (andy's too). This time last year I had very few friends in town who had time to spend w/ me, I was discontent and frustrated with our home and we were going to a church that we liked but we weren't meeting people and had little desire to get involved. I prayed send me friends. Remind me of how great this house is. Convict me to be more diligent in cleaning and to find pleasure in it. Help us find a church home where we receive solid teaching, fellowship and a passion for serving.

God is so faithful.

I have incredible new(ish) friends in my life. The selfish attitude of "why am I not getting attention?" is changing into an attitude of "how can I give others attention?"

I have received a new attitude about our house as well. We're in a new house, which I LOVE because I really let myself go loose on decorating and had fun with it. I recognized that the feeling of overwhelming..ness.. over silly things like laundry and dishes and dog hair and dust and that will take SO much time to clean was completely ridiculous and guess what Mom, it really DOES only take a few minutes to hang my clothes up instead of tossing them on the dresser! It only took me twenty-three years to figure it out!

We started going back to Aletheia after two years of church-hopping and while we know no church is perfect, we have found such truth and love there, in the teaching and in the people. We're learning new things and reading new things and now when we're arguing we are better equipped on how to respond to one another in love, how to turn the conflict around and forgive each other quickly and move on and forget.

So rare are my posts about my faith, and it didn't really bother me until lately. I wanted this blog to be light-hearted and fun and bring my readers pleasure. I didn't want to turn away readers. That was stupid. My faith is me, and I don't want to ever hide that.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June little pleasures

This is the first post of my new monthly "little pleasures" list. Little pleasures are really what The Blog Around the Corner is all about, and I hope you'll be inspired to watch/create/buy/listen/eat/etc. and discover the joy in little things.

1. Warfels chocolates. Katie Stoops gifted me with a lovely 6 piece box of chocolates yesterday and I am loooving every bite. Thanks Katie!

2. This gorgeous planter from Home Depot was also a gift from Katie Stoops. She is one of the most generous people I know. I actually received it in April as a housewarming gift (she planted three adorable succulents in it), but it still gives me so much pleasure, so I had to include it in this lift.

3. Slatkin & Co. Pomegranate Lemonade candle from Bath and Body Works. I got it 50% off (holler) but it smells just as sweet at full price. The candle is in my favorite shade of pink and smells incredible. I've been carrying it around the house with me. True story.

4. Prison Break! Andy and I finished this show on Monday morning. It overtook our life for about a month and a half after we discovered that the complete series is available on Netflix Instant Play. The show is fast-paced, exciting, chilling and at times, humorous. I've come across many people who are wary about how there can be four seasons about a prison break, but don't let the title of the show fool you. There is much more to the show.

5. Lost in the City by Edward P. Jones. I read a feature on Jones in the Washington Post Magazine several months ago and was eager to begin reading his books. Lost in the City is a compilation of short stories that follow varying characters in the African-American neighborhoods of D.C.

let me know if you try/buy any of these pleasures!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


One lucky thirteen year old had this Alice in Wonderland themed birthday party. How perfect are the teacups dangling from the chandelier? I have been wanting to throw a whimsical party and think this picture is the perfect inspiration. A bit lighter and girlier than this party, where the whimsy is more Johnny Depp than the table setting.

Monday, June 14, 2010

a muffin tale

It happened one lazy, sticky Monday afternoon in June. The girl was frustrated at herself for watching several episodes of Design Star on Hulu. Her feet had fallen asleep. Her back ached from being curled on the couch. The dog dozed in the corner, letting out occasional puffs of gas and filling the air with a vomit-inducing stench. This cannot be good, the girl decided. I can't spend all afternoon sitting in a room of fart. This is not how I intended on spending my days off. She contemplated her options. Clean? The house is spotless. Read? I need a break, I think I've overdosed on reading. Shop? What for? I don't want to spend money today. Exercise? I already lifted weights while watching Design Star...that should count. Besides, it's too hot to go outside. Bake? What? Bake? Bake! MUFFINS! The girl clicked out of Hulu and immediately began researching. She made a mental inventory of her pantry and decided on whole wheat banana muffins with honey. The day was looking up.

Once on her feet and in the kitchen, the girl began lining up the ingredients alongside measuring cups and spoons. She decided to halve the original recipe based on her limited amount of flour, banana and eggs. Mashing the bananas was satisfying, but when a large glop flew out of the bowl and slid down the side of the refrigerator, the girl began to lose it. You've got to be kidding me. What if we get ants? Do mice like bananas? I don't want to get mice. Ugh. She took a breath and moved on to her next task. Half a cup of honey seems like an awful lot, she mused. She measured a quarter cup of honey and realized as she began stirring the batter that she had never taken notice of the actual directions. Whoops. Well, who cares. I doubt it really matters. OK, what else can I add... applesauce, cinnamon, nutmeg, walnuts, raisins...WHAT THE!!! The girl leaned forward and peered into the mixing bowl. Somehow, while adding raisins, the plastic bag inside the raisin box slipped out and nose-dived into the batter. She fished out the bag, now covered in goop, and threw the whole thing into the trash. She spooned the batter into the tin as calmly as possible and placed the muffins in the oven.

Why did I even bother? I can't do anything right. I should be organizing something, or on the elliptical at the gym, or sipping an iced coffee and reading at Barnes and Noble. Why am I making such a mess out of things? I really wish I hadn't thrown out the whole bag of raisins.

The girl didn't want to think anymore. She put on Incubus and did the dishes and sponged up batter goop and putzed around until the timer went off and worked on her short story while the muffins cooled. Then she scooped one out and took a bite.


Laura's Whole Wheat Naturally Sweetened Muffins

makes 1 dozen muffins.
preheat oven to 325.

1 and 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (I used an individual container, they are 4oz)
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana
1/4 cup hot water
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 cup raisins (trust me: they won't be hard and chewy, they'll be little puffs of sweetness)
1/8 cup walnuts

Bake for 20 minutes. Test muffins and if they aren't ready, turn oven down to 300 and bake for at least 5 additional minutes. This kept my muffins from becoming too dark.

Normally I would suggest following a recipe's directions, but I didn't even follow the ingredients so naturally I didn't follow directions. I literally dumped everything into one mixing bowl, whisked it all together and called it a day.

They were perfectly sweet-- I think the added raisins made up for the 1/4 cup of honey I didn't use. I loved how the raisins puffed up from the moisture inside the muffins. I love my banana nut muffins with chocolate chips, which you can check out here, but these are MUCH healthier and just as satisfying. Try them. Tell me what you think.

je t'aime

this is the piece of art I blogged about last month. Isn't it perfect?

not your average veggie dish

This is cauliflower cheese pie with a shredded potato crust. I made it weeks ago and meant to blog about it later that night, but clearly that didn't happen.
It was flavorful, texturally interesting and filling. I served it alongside baked chicken and a salad, thought it could stand alone as a cozy, not-t00-heavy meal.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

a success

My close friend Becca visited from Charlottesville last night and stayed over. Yesterday we ate ice cream at Klines, realized we were still starving and split a meal at Chick-fil-A and rented "It's Complicated." Today we made parfaits for breakfast and then went shopping with a few goals in mind: I wanted to get a new knick-knack for the house and Becca was looking for a graduation gift for her sister and a basil plant for herself. We went to the farmer's market and a few shops downtown, then drove to Bridgewater and came back down 42 to hit my favorite shop in Dayton, The Cottage. By then we had each found what we were looking for. I got an adorable small cream colored antique fan with light brown blades, she got her basil and a gorgeous silver bracelet for her sister.

We lunched at Union Station in town and shared nachos and a chicken sandwich. The nachos were hands down the best I've ever had-- chorizo sausage, red beans, corn, mixed cheeses, tomatoes and peppers.

After lunch we ran to Wal Mart and Bed Bath and Beyond for a few things. By the time we got home our feet were screaming. We soaked them in hot water with minty bubble bath and painted our toes. For dinner we made steak, corn on the cob and mashed potatoes, and for dessert we had brownie sundaes.

The best part about hanging out with an old friend is the way conversation happens effortlessly. As much as my friends and I enjoy exploring the areas where we live, we are just as happy to curl up on a couch with coffee and simply catch up. We try on each other's clothes and shoes, tease each other about things we did when we were younger and laugh constantly, but we also ask each other the hard, honest questions and give each other straightforward advice.

Every visit with an old friend is a blessing, a treasure.

Definitely a successful day(s).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


There are THREE cats roaming around outside.
My dog lives for cat-sightings, so I told her to go look out the window for kitties.
Instead, she has stared intently at a painting and searched under our couch cushions.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Bag wish

I noticed this bag last fall and put it on my Christmas list, but then I took it off because I have a lot of bags.

I think if it's been this long and I still want it that I should get it. Right?

It's on sale.

So, clearly...