Monday, October 3, 2011

Feast of St. Francis

Someone was a really good pup in church yesterday for the celebration of St. Francis. Here he is getting his blessing for the year after the service.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Yummy things to cook: Banana Bread

I love to cook and I especially love to bake. I make this banana bread frequently and it's become somewhat famous with our families as I almost always make it when we have weekend guests. I'm planning to make it to take to the beach in a few weeks for the Chandler family beach vacation. I'm guessing the two loaves will last about two days, maybe three :)

The following recipe is adapted from the Unbelievable Banana Bread recipe in The Bride and Groom First and Forever Cookbook by Mary Corpening Barber & Sara CorpeningWhiteford, which is a fabulous cookbook and I highly recommend it - newlywed or not. Anyway, the recipe is very easy and a great use for too-ripe bananas, enjoy!

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup soy milk*
2-3 very ripe mashed bananas

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Spray 2 loaf pans with cooking spray.

Stir together the flour, kosher salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Combine the oil and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Or use a hand mixer.) Beat on low speed until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Stir the baking soda into the buttermilk in a small bowl. Add one third of the dry ingredients to the mixer, followed by half of the buttermilk and mix on low until barely combined. Repeat, scrape down the sides of the mixer as needed. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Add the mashed bananas and mix until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 minutes to an hour, depending on your oven.

*I know the soy milk seems weird. The original recipe calls for buttermilk, which I hate to buy because it comes in such large containers and I don't have a use for the rest of it so it spoils in the refrigerator. You can add white vinegar to regular milk to "make" buttermilk but since I don't drink milk, we rarely have that in the house. I just started using soy milk and it tastes great. Even my dad who is highly suspicious of anything make from soy, loved this banana bread. I just didn't tell anyone it was made with soy milk :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Projects: Gallery Wall

For years I've collected pictures from magazines and catalogs of decorating ideas and furniture that caught my eye. One thing I've always loved is the idea of creating a gallery wall. The upstairs hallway of our house has the perfect spot so I decided to make a gallery of family pictures - sort of a visual family tree. I love seeing old pictures of my grand parents and even great grandparents! It was quite surprising to see how much my sister looks like young pictures of our grandmother and how my dad and my cousin (his nephew) resemble each other.

Once we had gathered the pictures and ordered the frames, I cut pieces of heavy paper the size of each frame and taped them to the wall with blue painter's tape. Then we just left it that way for a week or so, living with the arrangement and making adjustments here and there. I highly recommend this step if you make a gallery wall.

The actual hanging wasn't too difficult, just a little tedious. And of course, now I'm driving myself crazy straightening the pictures every time I walk by! But I love how it turned out and it makes that space feel so much cozier and lived-in.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Do you like a good deal?

I certainly do! Between economic uncertaintity, every-increasing gas prices, and a mortgage to pay, I like to find easy ways to save money while still having a good time. And today I'm sharing one of my secrets. If you live in Atlanta, you're probably already a ScoutMob fan. The good news for everyone else is that they're expanding! Check out my link below for the details on the new ScoutMob cities and if yours isn't on the list, don't worry, I'm sure it's only a matter of time!!

So what exactly is ScoutMob? Well, it's a daily email (similar to Groupon, LivingSocial, etc.) with a 50% off coupon for something cool in your area - restaurants, coffee shops, stores, events. The best part (other than the fact that it's FREE) is that the 50% off coupon is sent to your cell phone so you always have the coupon with you! No more trying to remember to actually bring the coupon with you. I've used ScoutMob at Atlanta restaurants such as Murphys, San Francisco Coffee, and Harry and Sons. It's a great way to try out new places in your city (hey, if you don't like it, at least it was half-off!) or just to save at the places you already know and love. So give it a try, and let me know what you think! Happy saving!

PS. If you're an obsessive planner like I am, this is also great for upcoming trips. Check out the deals for cities you'll be visiting and get the scoop on cool new places to go and get discounts while you're at it!

Monday, March 7, 2011

It's time for a makeover

I love a good makeover - from What Not To Wear to HGTV - there's just something inspiring about it. So I figured it was time to give my blog a little makeover. It's still a work in progress and I would love your feedback. Are the colors easy to read? Too cramped? Too busy? Anything you'd like to see me add? Let me know! I know there are amazing and experienced bloggers out there who know a ton more than me - I'd love to learn from you!

Happy Monday to all!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snow Days

Remember when snow days were fun? When the mere mention of the word made you dance with joy and anticipation for a day off from school?

I remember my dad going out to make sure our sledding path was clear of big branches before a predicted snow storm.
I remember the anxious feeling of watching the school closing list scroll across the bottom of the TV screen.
I remember fun-filled snow days - sledding, building snow men, and making snow angels - and then going inside for hot chocolate by the fire.

And now?

Now snow is an inconvenience, a hassle, something I'd rather not deal with (hence why I moved farther south!). This evening, I trudged through the wet, slippery, still-falling snow. Fighting to stay upright, to keep my umbrella up, to not step in large, dirty puddles of half-melted snow. I arrived at my corporate apartment feeling cranky, wet, and miserable. And it makes me sad.

Sad that something that once brought me so much joy now brings misery. Sad to have lost that childhood sense of wonder and fun that came along with snow days.

And I wonder....what else have I lost along the way?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Politics (and peaches!)

Now that I'm back in Washington DC part-time, I find myself being more interested in politics. Sometimes when I'm working long hours I feel like I'm in a bubble and have absolutely no idea what's going on in the world. But being in DC inspires me to at least try to keep up with news and politics. I watched the State of the Union address tonight. Overall, I thought it was a good speech. Political ideas have a way of sounding great in speeches and then being very difficult to actually implement. We'll see what happens. ok, enough politics - on to peaches :)

This past weekend, we had a session with a professional photographer. We haven't had professional pictures taken since our wedding, more than 5 years ago. Last summer, I bought a Groupon for a portrait session and finally was able to use it this past weekend. I'll post a few good ones when I figure out how!! In the meantime, for anyone in the Atlanta area, check out Sarah is super-sweet, really energetic, and takes wonderful pictures! Hope everyone is having a wonderful week so far!