Monday, January 24, 2011

Cuteness and Football

I had the pleasure of watching the Packers/Bears game (the Packers are off to the Super Bowl!! I'm super-excited!) with my Godson and his family (you can check them out here and read about their little miracle).  I forgave him the Bears jersey because I love him and he's so stinkin' adorable!  Here's a few pics from my Sunday. 

Big sister was full of energy, as any two year old is, and was super cute as well.  After all, even dinosaurs need a little love.

This week begins the chaos of moving, wish me luck. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

California and a Retreat for Me

So I came into work this morning and it was, well, bitterly cold.  When I checked the temperature at 11:00 it was a lovely -2 degrees outside.  The sun is shining, which gives the illusion of warmth, but it's all a lie.  It's winter in Wisconsin and I'm trying to think of sunny California, walking along the ocean and not having to make sure every inch of me is covered before going outside.  The above picture was taken last June when I was in California for my sister's wedding.  It looks so pretty, so inviting, makes me want to jump on a plane and go visit.   They got married amongst the redwoods, it was gorgeous.

This picture, taken before their wedding, reminds me that I need to find some place for a quiet, relaxing retreat.  Somewhere amongst nature's beauty, somewhere that I can gather my thoughts, talk to God and once again figure out my life.  I think everyone needs to do that every now and then to reevaluate our lives, to make sure our priorities haven't strayed to reconnect with our Creator.  Not too long ago I read a book with a group of wonderful ladies called Every Woman's Battle and in one of the last chapters they recommended a number of different retreats.  If you haven't read the book you should find some good girl friends and read it together, there's also a guy's version entitled Every Man's Battle which I'm sure you could have guessed.  Alright, I'm going to go and plan my retreat now.  Happy almost weekend!  Oh, and go Pack! 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Snow, Football and Cooking

It's snowy here.  The world is white and it's absolutely beautiful.  I would love it a bit more if I was  snuggled up in front of a fireplace with a warm blanket and hot drink, perhaps later...I missed the snow.  We had a warm spell a little while ago that did away with a lot of the white snow, and left a lot of the outdoor sports I like at a standstill, but baby, we are now back in business. 

This past weekend was fabulous.  I've been having a few issues with the apartment I'm currently living in, so I decided to pack-up my things and stay with my lovely aunt and uncle for the weekend.  They live close by buy out in the country, so I can get my fix of the slower paced country life whenever I need it.  It was nice to just relax for a bit, sleep in have a breakfast and just sit around and read.  Saturday night I once again headed over to watch the Packers with some friends.  I whipped up some fruit salad and caramel brownies (which are to die for, at least in my opinion, I had gotten the recipe from a friend in college but couldn't find it amongst my boxes so I ended up using this recipe, which I'm pretty sure was the same).  It was lovely to watch the Packers win, yet again and proved to be the perfect ending to the day.  On Sunday it was off to Mass, back to my aunt and uncle's to watch most of the Bear's/Seahawk's game and then out for some shopping (has anyone else noticed that EVERYTHING is on sale right now?  It's both fabulous and a little terrifying...).  The rest of my day was spent at home, listening to the Patriot's/Jet's game, reading (right now I'm working on Christy by Catherine Marshall which is fabulous) and making dinner (have you seen the "Hungry Girl" cookbooks? if not you should check them out, they've got some pretty great recipes).

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Beauty of Baking

I love to bake.  Cooking I can go either way with (although I do love making soups or using my crockpot, but I'll save those recipes for another post).  Baking is my release, it takes me to my happy place and seriously! is there nothing better than the smell in your home when you decide to bake that perfect dessert/bread?  Or how about sitting down with a warm cookie and glass of milk?  It just makes me smile thinking about it!  Below are a couple of the recipes I've tried and still love.  They've made the cut. I'll post some more at a later date.

Blueberry-Lemon Tea Bread

½ cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
½ cup milk
1 ½ cups blueberries
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 9x5-inch loaf pan
  • In large bowl, beat butter and 1 cup of the sugar on low speed of mixer until just blended.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add alternately with milk, mixing until just blended.  Gently stir in blueberries.
  • Spoon batter into prepared pan.  Bake 65 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool loaf in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan.
  • Prick all over top and sides of loaf with a skewer.  In small bowl, mix lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar.  Brush this glaze generously over top and sides of warm loaf.  Makes 16 servings.
I love this recipe.  It first came about when I was in high school and looking for a recipe for my 4-H project.  This recipe took me all the way to the state fair and I came home with a superior ribbon, but that wasn't the best part.  The judge loved the bread so much that she asked if she could have the recipe.  That's not something that happens everyday.  It's a really easy recipe and always turns out great.

Fudgy Oatmeal Cookies

2 cups sugar
½ cup milk
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
3 Tablespoons cocoa
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup peanut butter
3 cups quick-cooking oats

  • Combine sugar, milk, butter and cocoa. 
  • Bring to a full boil for 1 minute, timing accurately. 
  • Add salt and vanilla. 
  • Blend in peanut butter and oats; mix well. 
  • Drop by teaspoon onto waxed paper to become firm in 15 minutes. 
Yield:  4 dozen

This is a fun recipe that I got from my home church's cookbook.  I've found that church cookbooks have some of the best recipes and are great because they give a true flavor to the area they are from.  This recipe is great if you need a little chocolate fix and don't feel like using the oven, in other words, it's a great summer recipe.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bring it On! The Playoffs are Here!

Williams' Interception! (
 I grew up in Illinois cheering on the Packers with my dad.  Which wasn't easy, considering we were in Bears or Rams country (depending on who you talked to).  In high school I was one of the few on our football cheerleading squad who actually knew what was going on, and I'll admit that there were times that I would have much rather been watching the boys play then facing the crowd "cheering".  So anyways, I went off to college (also in Illinois) and was surrounded by, yep, you guessed it, bears fans.  Well I've lived in Wisconsin for a few years now, and let me just tell you that it is wonderful watching the Packers play with people who actually want them to win.  It's still a bit strange for me.  So yesterday I went over to a friends to watch the Packers WIN against the Eagles.  It was glorious.  See this was a hardcore football fan only party.  It was serious.  There was lots of yelling.  Lots of edge of your seat silences.  Lots of high-fiving.  A bit of smack talk, just a little.  Lots of good food (hey every party needs good food).  It's a party that will be repeated on Saturday when the Packers beat the Falcons.  Oh how I love football season in Wisconsin!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"Good Leader", an oxymoron?

So today I decided that I am very much a doer, although the problem is I don't always have the answers/resources to make things happen, which leads to a bit of frustration on my end.  It's like the leaders and followers.  Sometimes the leaders need a break and just want to be a follower, just for a day, but it never turns out well, no I can tell you from personal experience that it just doesn't turn out well.  So I've been contemplating what it means to truly be a good leader.  A leader is one that makes things happen, one that can organize people, one that can deal with conflict in a productive way.  I mean anyone can make things happen if they have the right connections/resources/personality but just because they can make it happen doesn't mean that they are a good leader.  I see this a lot in my job, in the community I live, for goodness sake I see it in those leading our country and other countries.  I will acknowledge that not everyone who is in a leadership position asked to be there, no some were thrown into the position, often because of a lack of options, but sometimes because others could see the leadership that the individual couldn't.  So I guess my point of all this rambling is to pose another question (this blog is becoming filled with questions).  What leader do you look up to and why?  Or if that's too tough of a question to answer, what are the qualities that you look for in a "good leader".  Do those running our towns, our state, our country possess these qualities?  Just a bit of food for thought on this Wednesday night. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bring it on 2011!

A new year and a new adventure.  I decided that I would try my hand at blogging this year as a way of keeping up with my writing, sharing my life with loved ones that don't happen to live in the same lovely state that I call home and to get connected because seriously, who doesn't want to be connected?  My goal for this blog is to share a little of my faith, since it is such a huge part of my life, to explore my hopes for the future as I navigate through my twenty-something years, and to expose you lovely people to my love of baking, crafting/sewing and random adventures. 

I'm going to start off with a question.  Who are you?  I've been contemplating this a lot lately.  Ultimately this questions defines how you see yourself, what is most important to you and how you believe other people do or should see you.  So what would you say first?  What would I say first?  Would it be your religion, gender, ethnicity, political view or family position?  How about your job title, place of residence, passion, hobby or what you are aspiring to be?  If you were to walk up to me right now I would tell you that I am a Catholic Packer fan who loves to bake, spend time with family and friends, the great outdoors and a good pork chop on the grill and who likes a good adventure but am and probably will always be a "good girl".  So that's me.
Who are you?