Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We're moving in two days!

We're moving on Friday. Yup. For real.

We got the final approval from the city today, we're doing the final walk-through on Thursday, then the closing is scheduled for Friday at 10, and the movers are coming at noon!

It seems so sudden...but really it's been almost a two year process from deciding that we wanted to build, choosing a builder, planning a completely custom home, working with the builder to get plans drawn up, dealing with financing and finally starting construction in July. It's been like giving birth to a baby elephant.

So, just in time for Christmas, we're moving. This is how our house is decorated for the Holidays: A beautiful centerpiece of liquor boxes. How tasteful.
Boxes stacked all in a row.
A kitchen brimming...with boxes and bags and tape and other packing mess.
But starting Friday, this will be our new home! It STILL feels like a fairy tale...but soon a reality. :-)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Busy December

It's been a busy month so far, with no sign of letting up. I've been a candy-making making fool. First, I made two batches of truffles, and with my sister-in-law Aubrey, her friend Stephanie (and Indiana) coated and decorated tons of truffles. But that wasn't enough.
Then, I went home and made Rocky Road fudge and two batches of Pecan Pralines. Well, three...but I burnt the first batch. Pralines are super-finicky to make, and only in the midst of it did I remember why I stopped making them several years ago. They will scorch in a second and only ninja-like skills will prevent them from seizing up on you.
I am the praline ninja. I packed up 20 little boxes as co-worker gifts, plus the principals, and more importantly, their secretaries, the copy lady and building maintenance managers. Well, that didn't leave much for friends and family.

So I made more pralines and truffles.
And packed them in cute little boxes, feeling all Martha-y. :-) But that isn't the only packing I've been doing. Because...
The house is nearly ready! It hopefully will be done THIS week. THIS week! We have a tentative closing date set for the 23rd, but perhaps the 27th. Casey's been walking a tight-rope of trying to coordinate the builder, the city and the mortgage company all to get things done. Casey did the landscaping himself two Saturday's ago, and now we're waiting on the fencing and a tree to be put in to get final approval.

So, we've been packing up the whole house. There is nothing left on the walls, and we've almost completely packed up the bedrooms. The kitchen, bathrooms and living room are the last to be handled. Casey promised we could leave the Christmas tree for last.
Indy's been pretty good with all the packing. He's happy most of the time to sit and play, but he did catch Casey's cold which the doctor said not to worry about, but he has been a little fussier the last two days.

In general, he is a super happy baby. He's very friendly and will smile at strangers, but he'll play in his high chair or eat puffs while I putter around the kitchen. He loves when Casey and I sing to him or even better, sing and dance with him. He loves riding on Daddy's shoulders or bouncing or "flying." He loves to eat (as long as the food is warm) and is getting better at hand feeding himself. He just turned 8 months yesterday. My sweet boy. :-)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Indiana's 1st Thanksgiving

Indy got lots of cuddles and rides on Daddy's shoulders for Thanksgiving.

This morning, Casey, Dad and I ran the Turkey Trot through downtown, while Casey's mom, Cindy, watched Indy. Then we all went to my parent's house for Thanksgiving.
Dad did most of the cooking: smoked turkey (it looks burnt and scary, but it was delicious!), salad, green beans with bacon, molasses sweet potatoes and twice baked potatoes. Yum. I made sausage and sage dressing and dessert.
A sweet potato tart, with a gingersnap crust--FAIL. The crust stuck to the pan and was gummy. And it was too vegetable-y. Yuck. And an old fashioned pecan pie--SUCCESS! Seriously, amazing. The recipe uses maple syrup and molasses instead of corn syrup (and I added extra pecans). Best pecan pie ever. And the fresh bourbon whipped cream just gilded the lily. :-)
Caught in the act! I love that both my mom and I were licking our fingers here. It was a delicious meal...and we went home, and all three of us took a nap. Now, that's a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Homemade Marshmallows

Yes, you can make marshmallows at home. And they put to shame Jet-Puffed. Honestly, other than being slightly time-consuming on the cutting apart and dusting with powdered sugar, they're rather easy. And absolutely delish. BUT do not attempt this with a light-weight mixer. It will burn up the motor (RIP Sunbeam), but with a good heavy-duty mixer like a Kitchen-Aid, all is well. This recipe is a combination of Alton Brown's, Barefoot Contessa's and another I found online. It makes about 80 good sized marshmallows (which is a huge amount...but how often do you make marshmallows?).

5 Tbls. unflavored gelatin (or 5 packets)
2 cups cold water (1 cup for the gelatin and 1 cup for the sugar syrup)
3 cups granulated sugar
2 cups light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
4 Tbls. vanilla extract
1 package of shaved coconut, lightly toasted and cooled
Powdered sugar & Cornstarch, for dusting


Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, CAREFULLY increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.
Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with toasted coconut. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel or knife dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
Casey loves marshmallows. And, he did the dishes. Isn't he cute in my apron? Love that man.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The last few weekends...

The last few weekends have been super-busy, but very nice. Two weekends ago, my Mom-in-law came in to town to watch Indiana, and Casey & I went to Ft Worth Saturday evening to see the ballet, Giselle. It was lovely. We had a really good meal beforehand (6 courses!) and then stayed the night in Ft Worth. It was the first night we'd spent away from him, and it went smoothly. But I was ready to see him Sunday morning.
So sweet! We have unintentionally started a photo series: Still Life with Indiana. Some people take pictures of their child with a stuffed animal or some thing to mark their growth...we just like a little more variety! Indiana has definitely become a "sitter" and loves being in his highchair in the kitchen. He watches us as we cook and plays with his toys. He's also enjoying solids more as I'd introduced him to more vegetables: butternut squash, sweet potato, peas, and this week: avocado. So far, he's a really good eater...and will sometimes get cranky to watch others eat if he doesn't get any! But he still doesn't have any teeth, so no table food yet.

Last weekend we got a sitter to go to Tom's Halloween Party. The theme this year was hats, and Casey of course had to have a really silly one.
On Sunday, we had a larger crowd than I expected for Indiana's Baby Dedication ceremony at church, my parents: Mamie Marie-Anne and "Just" Jack, Nana Cindy and her friend Lynda, and Aunt Aubrey, along with Mommy and Daddy. Indiana is loved.I put him in a puffy little christening outfit, despite Casey's protests. My little cherub.

That same day, we celebrated Casey's birthday with Dustin & Aubrey by making Filet Mignon, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Roasted Asparagus and Caesar Salad at out house (so we could put Indy to bed and still hang out) and had a really nice time. And on the day itself, Casey wanted to stay home and hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. And we had quite a crowd. Casey would ask each one what they were dressed as and even bargained with a few kids to trade their candy for extra of ours!

This weekend, other than going to the Highland Park vs McKinney football game with Aubrey on Friday (since she went to McKinney and I went to HP), we haven't done much but lay around and read.
And play with the blue elephant. :-)

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Funny Faces of Indy

Indy's excited about Daddy's new iPhone.
Cabbage Patch Kid. We already have a picture of him with a mushroom and a this may turn into a series...Still Life with Indy. That cabbage leaf makes a proper little hat!
Casey put my goggles on him, completely accentuating those chubby cheeks!
And this one isn't funny, but it was his first time sitting in a restaurant high chair, and he's so sweet and little in it, I had to share. He really liked being up and with us at the table. It made it feel like the first of many meals as a family. So happy.

In other news, Sweet Pea has been a much more challenging sleeper this last month since he learned to roll over. Lots of turning over in the crib, losing his paci and then crying because he doesn't want to be on his tummy anymore, but can't figure out what to do. Goodness. And the 2-3 am feeding has returned. Casey and I tag team as much possible, and Casey is really sweet to help out with so much other stuff. But at work, I can definitely tell how my day will go, based on how much sleep I've gotten.

But he's learning so much and doing so many new things, that I'm not going to wish this season way. Just last night we watched him in the baby monitor do something new: take the paci of his mouth to play with it, and then put it back in the correct way, repeat. I marveled at that advance in hand-eye coordination. It's fascinating to watch him understand and experiment with the world around him. I love that little boy.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tiles and Floors and Counters, oh my!

Earlier this week, they finished up the indoor and outdoor paint.
This is the hardyplank on the side and back of the house. We picked a color as close to the brick color as possible and hoped it would blend. We would have loved to do it all in brick...but that would have cost 15 grand. Not worth it.

They also did the tile and counters inside.
The kitchen counters are quartz, which is almost as pretty and costs just as much as granite, but is much more durable and lower-maintenance. We agonized over that decision, but I think it turned out really pretty and will stay pretty for longer. I can't wait to get in there and cook!

They used the same tile from the floor for the kitchen back splash, and I think it looks nice. It will certainly be easier to clean than the paint and paneling in our current kitchen. They also did a little backsplash upstairs in the butler's pantry. Fancy.
Casey in his shower-to-be. It's really tall!
They did the upstairs bathrooms too. It's really starting to look like a house!

I can't wait to live there. I mean, wow. After seeing the paint and cabinets, really does look like a home. It's going to be the biggest, nicest, newest house that either Casey or I have ever lived in, and I can hardly believe that we're going to get to live there. More than anything, I'm so happy that Indy (and child #2 to be born in sometime in the future) will get to grow up there....and hopefully not turn out too spoiled!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fall Fun

Fall for us means football games and the Fair. So fun. We went to the to the fair last week, just Casey, Indy and I and then again with my parents yesterday. So glad we did...because it's just too fun to do just once.First, we watched the dog show and went to the petting zoo.
Casey, back with his nemesis....the biting camel. They made their peace. Casey made other friends as well.
(She's cardboard, if you can't tell.) Casey especially liked talking to all the vendors...we tried lots of samples, sat in $6000 massage chairs, watched cooking demonstrations, cut wood with super shears, got one hand and one shoe washed. Indy was great. He watched and napped and was generally his sweet self, despite being schlepped all over the Fair.

Then, we went to Waco with my parents. Glorious Waco. Casey and my dad went to some Baylor Law Alumni events, and we drove around a far amount (so Indy could nap!) to visit old haunts. We even went to a Baylor game...and the Bears won! That was awesome.
And Saturday morning, we did a 5 mile trail race in Cameron Park. It was beyond insane. Seriously, I can't believe they didn't have to airlift someone (like me!) out of there with a broken ankle/leg/neck. Steep up and downhill on gravel at best, fist-sized loose rocks at worse. Oh, and steel drop-offs on the edge of very narrow trails. Running down mountain bike trails like "Vortex"...and I ain't got wheels. But we survived, and even placed, both Casey and I, 3rd place in our age groups.
We recovered in time to go back to the Fair. Another cooking demonstration and the Doberman show, but this time some new stuff as well, like the Greenhouse on the Midway. Beautiful. I loved all the exotic plants, and the trains and miniature villages.I got to see a turkey! I missed seeing one last year. He was not as pretty as I remember. Seriously, yikes!
We even saw a yolding cowgirl puppet. Who knew such a thing existed?
And of course, the parade and cotton candy and Fletcher's corny dog. It was a great Fair. Can't wait for next year. ;-)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

5 months...

Today, I tried rice cereal for the first time.It wasn't nearly as tasty as my fingers. I also rode in the stroller as Mommy and Daddy went running at the lake. That was good. I mostly looked around but eventually, I fell asleep. And I played on my mat with my crinkle book. It was a pretty good 5 month birthday.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Dinner for 60

Tonight, our lifegroup made dinner for 60 people at a ministry in Oak Cliff called The Well that serves mentality ill and disabled people. It was incredibly fun and energizing. Seriously. And it was so good to take my eyes off of myself and my petty problems and help someone else for a little bit!

We had the use of a commercial kitchen, so with a few people cooking meat, a few chopping vegetables and a few others doing various other things, we easily got the food prepared and then could join the worship service. After, we served the meal buffet style. It was nice to look each person in the eye and ask them how they'd like their tacos and joke with them and treat them well. Many of them looked like the kind of person that a normal person (like me!) would avoid or be afraid to engage with because they didn't have everything together. But they're people, deserving of love and mercy, and capable of giving love and mercy in return. So many told us thank you and how blessed they were by the meal. And many were just excited about chips and queso and cookies. And that's good too. It was a fun night for all. :-)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor-free Labor Day Weekend

We had a great Labor Day weekend. Eventful, but relaxing.As easy as playing with our toes. :-)

Saturday morning, we had good workouts, Casey on the bike and me with Zumba and weight class at the Y. Then we went to the 1st of two church picnics (celebrating ACC Dallas/Mercy Place's 10 year anniversary) and it was fun to chat and see some folks that had moved away in recent years. Then Casey & I went to the office so he could work a little (so, a little labor) and I did lesson plans (but I got to hold Sweet Pea while working on them, so it hardly counts as work.) Then we went to dinner at the Blue Goose with my parents to celebrate their anniversary.

After that, we went home and I baked cookies for Sunday's picnic. Four dozen cake-mix cookies. I love cake-mix cookies because they're insanely easy...but still tasty and homemade, which is always better. Unfortunately, only 3 dozen made it to church, as the dogs managed to pull down a tray and gobble them up while I was out of the room. Stinkers.

The church-wide picnic the next day was fun, (my cookies were the first to go!) and to top off a nice afternoon, I got a pedicure. Pretty pink toes. :-) We went to bed early. Excellent.

Monday was the best of all. The first cooler day of fall, all three of us went running at the lake. It was a great morning to run. Sweet Pea was awake and watching the whole time, but very chill. It was great to be out running again like old times. Casey ran 10 miles, and me six.
We relaxed a little outside before going to Barbec's for breakfast. biscuits. We did grocery shopping and cleaned house too, and even had time to rest and relax, and then go back out for a trip to Central Market and spend an hour at Curtis Park, sitting on the bench where Casey proposed to me more than 6 years ago. Wow, have things changed in 6 years! I can't imagine how things will be in 6 more years.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Birthday Extravaganza

I turned 30 on Thursday.

With school starting up and being super stressed with that, plus adjusting to life with baby & work, I almost forgot it was coming up. Seriously. One of my co-workers asked me what kind of cake I would like to celebrate, and it took me a minute to realize what she was talking about. I picked chocolate, of course.

But despite all that, this birthday was probably one of nicest I've had. Maybe because I thought about it less, so everything was more unexpected and fun. On the day of, we went out to dinner at Gordon Biersch with my parents, my dad gave me a beautiful silver coin pendant necklace made from a 100 Franc piece, and my mom gave me a pearl necklace and earrings. Fancy. Casey got me a dozen roses and a new purse from Fossil (which I specifically pretty). AND then just Casey and I went to dinner last night at the Hibiscus, my favorite, and had a super-swanky dinner. It was delicious. Aubrey babysat so we could stay out late, which was another gift. And we're going to dinner with both Dustin & Aubrey on Sunday night too, which will be super-fun.

So, for this birthday, I've been completely spoiled. Unexpected, but really nice.

Especially with how stressful this new school year has been. Usually the first week is tiring, getting new students used to school and being super upbeat and entertaining to get them excited about learning, but usually when I'm not teaching it's easy because there's not much to do yet.

But this week has been beyond exhausting. Strung out exhausting. Why? Because I have twice as many students as last year, two additional classes to teach each day, bigger classes than last year and twenty less minutes of prep time, and a huge amount of addition paperwork, on top of grading papers for 150 students, re-writing quizzes to multiple choice format to save grading time, making copies because we don't have workbooks ordered yet, etc.

I don't feel like I have enough time to prepare for each level, so as French 2 kids are walking in, I'm trying to figure out what I'm supposed to teach them, then two hours later, the same with French 3. And we have a new shortened schedule, so I have a hard time keeping track of what class it is and when it will end, so I'm constantly checking the clock.

Oh, and add to that pumping (breastmilk) three times a day so that I can continue breastfeeding Indy. I work and pump through lunch, so I don't get to talk to my co-workers much. And I have to leave by 3:30 each day to get home and feed him again, so that the poor child doesn't have live completely out of bottles. This, of course, is my choice, and I could formula-feed him and make my life easier on that count, but I'm not going to do that. But I will complain. And count the days. The work year is 187 days. 182 more to go.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lazy Cookies & Drunken Bread

So lazy, they droop off the plate. Or perhaps it's just me who's lazy. ;-) I wanted to make cookies, but didn't want to pull out the mixer. So, something I could stir up with a fork was perfect. They turned out very chocolaty and fudgy, and you can't tell that the base is sugar-free, but that is, of course, optional.

Cake Mix Cookies, from

1 (18.25 ounce) package (sugar-free) chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp instant coffee granules
1 cup dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the cake mix, butter, oil, vanilla, coffee and eggs until smooth and well blended. Mix in the chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.
3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

With the lazy cookies, I also made drunken bread to carry on the slothful theme. (Or just because I LOVE bread, and this recipe is absurdly easy and completely scrumptious.)

Beer Bread, From Rebecca Crump (

Makes 1 loaf
• 3 cups whole wheat flour
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 1 scant tablespoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 bottle (12 ounces) beer
• ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-x-5-x-3-inch loaf pan.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
3. Using a wooden spoon, stir the beer into the dry ingredients until just mixed.
4. Pour half the melted butter into the loaf pan. Then gently spoon the batter into the pan, and pour the rest of the butter on top of the batter.

Little Man played on his activity mat most of the time I baked, and only got fussy at the very last. Scooping out cookie dough one-handed, etc. is much more challenging while holding a baby, but indeed, do-able. (As is typing this entry one-handed.) Motherhood makes one ambidextrous.
Indy reclines with his elephant. Being lazy is cool.