Friday, October 30, 2009

What's Up for the Weekend?

This weekend it's just the Doodle and me again.  I'm sad that Troy will miss seeing Tori trick-or-treat for the first time.

Let's talk about Halloween for a minute.  This is always a touchy subject in the Christian community.  Personally, I think there is nothing wrong with dressing up in cute, fun costumes and going to HallowHim at our church or even trick or treating.  I'm not a fan of the gory or worse yet skimpy costumes.  I also don't judge those that choose not to celebrate.

Speaking of events at our church, beginning tonight and carrying on through Sunday is Baytown Bayou Blast.  You should check it out!

Tonight I'm headed to a friends house to make Pizza Mummies, carve pumpkins, decorate cupcakes and watch Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.  Sounds like a perfect evening!

Saturday, my sister Stacie may be coming over to work out the details of what she has named "The Boodell-Blaker Bakeapalooza".  Can you say that ten times fast?  No?  Me either.  We're planning a weekend in December to bake and fill ONE HUNDRED boxes with holiday goodies.  Sounds like a daunting task for two full-time-job-working-child-rearing-ladies but I'm so excited I can hardly stand it!

In between this and weekly domestic duties I hope to have some time in the kitchen this weekend.  I don't have specific recipes that I want to try, or more honestly I have too many that I can't pick just a few.  It'll be one of those last minute decisions I'm sure.

Have a wonderful, blessed weekend and safe and happy halloween!

P.S.  Don't forget to set your clocks back an hour Saturday night!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Girls Only Wilderness Weekend

I don't recall exactly whose idea it was, but several months ago one of my friends suggested a camping trip..... girls only!  That was all I needed to hear to go into OCD-camping-trip-organizing mode.  I researched locations.  Our first, second, third and possibly fourth through tenth choices weren't available.  October is prime camping season in Texas and the only available site within 200 miles was at Double Lake Recreation Area in Coldspring, Texas.

After weeks of planning, Camping Day finally arrived!  We loaded down the minivan with a tent, grill, bedding, firewood and enough food to feed a small army for the weekend.  A few people had expressed concerns about our ability to start a fire and our sanity for tent camping with forecasted lows in the 40's on the first night.

From left to right, Hope, Genn, Cory and me.  Genn and Cory were only able to stay Friday night so Saturday it was just Hope and me.

The four of us got the tent up in about 10 minutes.  Who doubted us?

And a fire wasn't far behind.

Friday night was COLD.  We should have realized that putting the rain fly on the tent, while obstructing the beautiful view of treetops and stars, would have held in the heat.  The others had snickered when I said I was bringing an electric blanket.  By the next morning they weren't laughing anymore...hehehe.

Saturday morning was clear and cold.  We had a fire going by 7 a.m. and after a few cups of coffee we were ready to set out and do a little exploring.  It was near dark when we had arrived the night before so the farthest we had been was the bathrooms.

The mist rising off the lake was beautiful.  We took the Lakeshore Trail, which was an asphalt and boardwalk loop around the lake.

By the time we got back to camp we had worked up an appetite.  We whipped up bacon, egg, chorizo and cheese tacos.  They were delicious!

After breakfast we needed to head into town to get more ice and fire wood.  We decided to try Coldspring and hoped that they had a few antique stores to check out while we were there.

We were in luck!  It was Trade Days and the town square was lined on one side with merchant booths and on the other with antique and gift shops.  I bought a few cookbooks from one of the antique shops and then we decided to try Crystal's Patio and Grill for a bite to eat and a place to sit.

Boy was that a wonderful decision!  The spinach, mozarella, garlic, goat cheese and sun dried tomato pizza was yummy and the atmosphere was fun.  They tell you straight up that they are slow and to enjoy yourselves while you wait.

Hope obviously needed a canvas to display her artistic side.

I was contemplating something deep and meaningful, I'm sure.  Probably if I would have room for dessert after the pizza.  I didn't.

We finished up in town and headed back to camp.  Cory, Hope and I headed out to check out a different trail before Cory and Genn headed home that evening.  This path was less developed.  It ended at a trailhead for the Lone Star Trail system and we decided to leave exploring that to Hope and I the next morning.

Saturday night was much warmer.  We would have slept well had it not been for a visit from some racoons in the wee morning hours.  They were treating themselves to the Snickerdoodle Cupcakes and White Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Blondies that I had brought for us to snack on.  At least they had good taste.

The next morning Hope and I packed up camp and decided to explore the Lone Star Trail.  It was beautiful!  There is nothing like being smack dab in the middle of the woods to make you realize the awesomeness of God the Creator.

We had probably hiked about 2 miles in when we began discussing the fact that we hadn't brought anything other than my cell phone and her camera.  Maybe not the best planned hiking adventure.  A loud noise in the distance brought us to our senses and we decided to head back.  I would love to spend an entire day, possibly more hiking the trail.  That's an adventure for another time.

All too soon it was time to head back to civilization.  I missed my dear husband and my babies, but I can't say that I missed the traffic, concrete, and hustle and bustle.  I can't wait to do it again!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend Recipe Review - White Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Blondies

This past weekend three friends and I loaded up and headed to Double Lake in the Sam Houston National Forest to get away and spend some girl time together.  It was a wonderful time that I know will become a regular thing.  I'll blog more about that when I have pics.  Since my camera isn't working I am dependant upon my friends to post their pictures for me to borrow. :-)

I wanted to bring along some home baked treats for us to enjoy.  I had a dozen snickerdoodle cupcakes (Martha's recipe) that I had frozen from Brooke's birthday but I wanted something more autumnal to go with the beautiful cooler weather we would be enjoying.  I chose Pumpkin Blondies after seeing them on several blogs.

They were deliciously moist, with the fall taste of pumpkin and spices and the consistency of my favorite blondie recipe.  The addition of white chocolate chips just put them over the top.  We really enjoyed what we ate of them...... until the racoons got them on the second night there.  They also ate the entire dozen cupcakes.  They must have really good taste!

White Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Blondies adapted from Annie Eats


2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp. cloves

1 tsp. baking soda

¾ tsp. salt

16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

1¼ cups brown sugar

1 large egg

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 cup white chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9x13-inch baking dish with foil. (I used an 8.5x12.5 disposable aluminum pan with lid for travel purposes).

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, spices, baking soda and salt. Stir together and set aside.

Melt butter in a medium sauce pan and stir in brown sugar until the mixture is smooth.  Cool slightly then stir in the egg, vanilla and pumpkin until well combined.

Stir in the dry ingredients until just combined then fold in the white chocolate chips.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few crumbs. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting.

To serve, lift the cake from the pan using the foil and transfer to a cutting board. Peel off the foil and using a sharp knife, cut into 24 squares.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Old Testament Truths - Hosea

I am not ashamed to admit that I consider myself a relatively "young" Christian. Oh, I was saved and baptized as a young girl, but my faith never really grew until the past few years. For years I would read my Bible occasionally and think to myself... "what in the world is that supposed to mean?" This was most especially true about the Old Testament. Even if I did make it through the "begats" I could rarely see how the stories applied to my life.

Not too long ago, as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes, I see the value and truths in much of the Old Testament scripture that seemed so antiquated and irrelevant to me before. I can get downright giddy when the stories come to life in my head and I realize that what God spoke to the Israelites so long ago is still His Word today. I have come to realize that I need to write this stuff down, so here is as good a place as any to do it. I know that my ramblings may seem so simple and less-than-profound to those that may read this (if anyone does read but I want to be able to look back and see what God spoke to me on this day.

This morning I read through the book of Hosea after hearing a little about the story of Hosea and Gomer on the radio. It is an amazing look at God's love for the Israelites and for us, no matter how far from Him we wander.

In Hosea, the Israelites have turned from God.

Hosea 4:1-2

1 Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites,
because the LORD has a charge to bring
against you who live in the land:

"There is no faithfulness, no love,
no acknowledgment of God in the land.

2 There is only cursing, lying and murder,
stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds,
and bloodshed follows bloodshed."

Hosea 13:2

2"Now they sin more and more;
they make idols for themselves from their silver,
cleverly fashioned images,
all of them the work of craftsmen.

It is said of these people,
"They offer human sacrifice
and kiss the calf-idols."

When I think about the world that we live in today I can see so many of these very things present, even in my own life. While we may not be sacrificing one another to false gods and kissing calf idols, how many idols have I made of my stuff, my very own silver?

The Lord was angry with the Israelites! They were His people. He had cared for them and brought them out of slavery.

Hosea 13:4-9

4 But I am the LORD your God,
who brought you out of Egypt.
You shall acknowledge no God but me,
no Savior except me.

5 I cared for you in the desert,
in the land of burning heat.

6 When I fed them, they were satisfied;
when they were satisfied, they became proud;
then they forgot me.

7 So I will come upon them like a lion,
like a leopard I will lurk by the path.

8 Like a bear robbed of her cubs,
I will attack them and rip them open.
Like a lion I will devour them;
a wild animal will tear them apart.

9 "You are destroyed, O Israel,
because you are against me, against your helper.

How often do we forget what God has done for us? Do we take the blessing he provides and become proud?

Despite His anger, God loved the Israelites deeply and wanted so much for them to repent and turn to Him. God never quits desiring for us to come back to Him, no matter what we do, no matter how far we go. We can never get too far from God that He isn't asking us to come back!

Hosea 14:1-2

1 Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God.
Your sins have been your downfall!

2 Take words with you
and return to the LORD.
Say to him:
"Forgive all our sins
and receive us graciously,
that we may offer the fruit of our lips.

Despite His anger and the punishment that Israel deserves God proves that He is a compassionate and merciful God. He can't bring Himself to destroy the Israelites with His wrath and fury.

Hosea 11:8-11

8 "How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I treat you like Admah?
How can I make you like Zeboiim?
My heart is changed within me;
all my compassion is aroused.

9 I will not carry out my fierce anger,
nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim.
For I am God, and not man—
the Holy One among you.
I will not come in wrath.

10 They will follow the LORD;
he will roar like a lion.
When he roars,
his children will come trembling from the west.

11 They will come trembling
like birds from Egypt,
like doves from Assyria.
I will settle them in their homes,"
declares the LORD.

Despite everything the Israelites did, all of their sin, the Lord still had plans for them. He has the same plans for us. One day we will be betrothed to Him in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion, and in faithfulness!  God still holds this promise for us just as He did for the Israelites of Old Testament days.

Hosea 2:14-20

14 "Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her.

15 There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will sing as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

16 "In that day," declares the LORD,
"you will call me 'my husband';
you will no longer call me 'my master.'

17 I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips;
no longer will their names be invoked.

18 In that day I will make a covenant for them
with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air
and the creatures that move along the ground.

Bow and sword and battle
I will abolish from the land,
so that all may lie down in safety.

19 I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.

20 I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge the LORD.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Brooke!!

Today is Brooke's TENTH birthday!  I can hardly believe it.  She's grown into such a sweet, beautiful girl and I'm so proud to be her Momma.

This was Monday night at her birthday dinner.  If I can be so bold.... Aren't they the bestest girls ever?!?!  I'm so blessed.

We celebrated with friends a little early.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Weekend Recipe Review - Part 2 - Gingerbread Pumpkin Bars

The only thing that I got around to baking this weekend was Gingerbread Pumpkin Bars.  Well, I did bake a coffee cake for breakfast Sunday morning that I promplty dropped in the church parking lot, so we're not counting that.

Joelen mentioned these bars last week and I just knew that I had to find that recipe!

Gingerbread Pumpkin Bars from Bakespace


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1/3 cup rolled quick oats


6 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 3/4 cups mashed pumpkin

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

2 large eggs


1 cup confectioners' sugar

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 to 2 tablespoons milk


Preheat oven to 350


In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, sugar and molasses until creamy.

Add dry ingredients and mix just until combined.

Reserve 3/4 cup of this mixture and place in a small bowl.

Scoop the remaining mixture into a 10 x 15 baking pan lightly coated with nonstick spray.

Add the oats to the reserved mixture and mix until combined - set aside.


In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth.

Add pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves - mix until well combined.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing just until combined.

Scoop the mixture over the uncooked base and use an off-set spatula to evenly spread the mixture over the top.

Crumble reserved oat mixture over filling.

Bake until the topping is a golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.

Remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.


In a small bowl, mix together confectioners sugar, butter and vanilla.

Mix in just enough milk until the mixture will easily flow from a spoon - drizzle over cooled bars.

They came out prefect and were so "fall" tasting.  After the first day I knew they had to leave the house, so I sent them to work with Troy.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Weekend Recipe Review - Part 1 - Caldo Gallego

I only managed to make one out of the three soups on my wish list this weekend.  And boy am I glad that I did!  I made a few changes to the recipe and the result was a hearty, spicy soup that any meat and potatoes person would be happy with.

Unfortunately my camera seems to be dead, so no pictures (again).

Caldo Gallego
adapted from Crepes of Wrath

1/4 pound pancetta or slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch slices - I used bacon.

1 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed

1 medium onion, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes

1 large baking potato or 1/2 pound smaller potatoes, cubed into 1/2 inch pieces

1 large turnip, peeled and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces - I ommited this, but only because they didn't have any at the grocery store I went to.  I will add it next time.

1/4 pound ground chorizo

1/2 pound turnip greens (or other dark leafy green, such as kale or spinach), washed, stemmed and coarsely chopped - I used kale.

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large soup pot, bacon and chorizo over medium heat for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is just crispy.

2. Add onion and cook until translucent.

2. Add potato and turnip to the pot along with enough water (I used vegetable broth because I had it) to cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes until almost soft but not falling apart.

3. Add the beans, greens, and red pepper flakes and continue simmering until the greens are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with crusty bread. Serves 8-10.

Sometime in the near future I'll post the recipe and review for Gingerbread Pumpkin Bars.

Friday, October 9, 2009

What's Up for the Weekend?

"There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides You; there is no Rock like our God." - 1 Samuel 2:2

I've had this verse marked in my Bible for a while and it's really been drawing me lately.  I thought I would pass it along.  I know that here recently there have been times (and still are) that I really need a Rock to anchor myself to.  I'm so glad that we have one!

This weekend may be the first real feel of fall for our area.  I may be jumping the gun a little on this, but it sounds like soup weather to me!  Troy will be working nights and Brynne and Brooke will be at their dad's so it will just be Tori and me.  I plan to try out three new soup recipes.

Ina Garten's Cheddar Corn Chowder - This has been on my list for a few years now and I just haven't gotten around to making it.

Caldo Gallego - I think I can get Troy to eat it if I don't tell him about the turnip.

Leek, Broccoli and Potato Soup from The Crepes of Wrath - This blog has one of the absolute best layouts for recipes.  She makes everything look so simple!  This will be my first time cooking with leeks.

And of course I'll bake something as well!  I hope to bake Gingergread Pumpkin Bars.

I'll post reviews and hopefully pictures next week.  I say hopefully because my camera appears to be on the fritz.  I have another one somewhere... if I can just find it.

To celebrate the Autumn season I'm hosting my first Super Duper Soup Swap next month.  If you want an invite, leave me your email and I'll pass it along.  It's going to be a great time!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Goodies for the Guys - Snickers Surprise Cookies and Spicy Snack Mix

Some Tuesday nights Troy meets up with some of the guys overgrown teenagers from church and they play video games.  Who am I to judge though, I have a bunco group. :-)  I had told him that I would make snacks for him to take this week.  So despite a killer sinus headache I kept my word.  I'm glad that I did because I love to eat when I have a cold and these made for great snacks while the girls and I cuddled up on the couch to veg.

I wish I had been able to take pictures for this post, but the batteries were completely dead in my camera.  You'll just have to take my word for it that it all looked delicious!

Spicy Snack Mix aka Trash

This is something that Joyce, my stepmom, makes by the bucketful during the holidays.  It's easy, versatile, and HIGHLY addictive.  Mix up the cereal, add-ins, and seasonings to your taste.


2 cups each - Corn Chex, Rice Chex, Cheese Nips, Bugles, Pretzels
1 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
1 stick butter or margarine, melted
2 Tbs worchestershire sauce
1 Tbs garlic powder
1 Tbs chili powder
1 Tbs cajun seasoning (Tony Chachere's)


Preheat oven to 250.

In a large bowl combine cereals, crackers, pretzels and nuts.

In another bowl combine melted butter and remaining ingredients.

Pour over cereal mix and stir thoroughly to coat.

At this point I usually end up adding a bit more of whatever seasoning I want and stirring to coat.

Spread onto 2 sheet pans and bake for 1 hour, stirring at least twice.

It's going to smell amazing so be sure to let it cool enough that you don't scorch your tongue before you start eating it!  This will keep in an airtight container for just about forever.

Surprise Sugar Cookies

This recipe was inspired by the Snicker Surprise Cookies posted by Joelen the other day.  Candy bar inside a cookie!  What a great idea!  But I knew that I would be pressed for time and didn't want to make cookie dough.  I just happened to have a roll of sugar cookie dough in the fridge.


1 large roll sugar cookie dough or your favorite sugar cookie recipe
18 fun size Snickers bars


Preheat oven to 350.

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  It's okay if you don't do this step, just don't grease them!

Cut each candy bar in half.

Take one piece of candy bar and cover it completely in cookie dough.  I cut the log of dough into 36 equal portions because I'm nerdy like that.

Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges just start to brown.  A little underdone and chewy is better than overdone.

Cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  This part might not be necessary if you're eating them as soon as they cool enough to handle, like I was!

These were yummy, but next time I will cut the candy into 3 parts and make smaller cookies.  They were bigger than I liked.

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!

Monday, October 5, 2009

What a wonderful weekend!

This weekend was packed with activities!

Saturday morning my friend Laura and I ran our first 5K together. We participated in the Race for the Cure My personal goal was to finish in less than 40 minutes and I did it! My unofficial time (using the stopwatch on my iTouch) was 39:20. Not the best time, but I have great starting place to improve from.

I will have pictures from the race photographer soon, but until then here are a few that troy took.

The start of the race.  I'm on the other side of the lady in the pink cap.  On the other side of me is Laura, representing with her maroon A&M top.  You can barely see her.

After the race!  We Did It!  I'm very sweaty and my hair is WILD from the humidity.  We celebrated with a yummy lunch at Olive Garden.  I'm sure I consumed way more calories than I burned during the race. :-)

And of course.... the obligatory picture of Tori.  The kids were great while I ran.  They also enjoyed the bananas, apples, and oatmeal cream pies that were handed out after the race.

That evening we took a group of Brynne and Brooke's friends to the Galleria to ice skate to celebrate their birthdays.  The plan for the corn maze was scrapped due to inclement weather.  We couldn't have made a better decision.  They had a wonderful time!

The entire group on our way in.

Everyone did great!  In this picture there are actually a couple of exta girls.  What can I say?  They make friends quickly.

And nothing makes for a better ending to a great day than a little ICE CREAM!

I hope that everyone has a wonderfully blessed week!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hellooooooo, hello, hello, hello.

It's been approximately a million years since I've written anything in this blog. Well, it's high time I started! Here's a quick run down of the past year.

- All of the kiddo's are a year older. Tori is now TWO, Brynne just turned eleven, and Brooke will celebrate her tenth birthday later this month. We're headed to Dewberry Farm tomorrow evening to celebrate the olders girls' birthdays with their friends. It should be great fun and I'll be sure to blog about it.

- I've begun leading a Wednesday night Bible study and prayer group. I am so blessed and thankful that God has chosen to use me for this. I have learned more and grown closer to Him through it. You will never hear me say that I'm teaching, since most often I feel I'm learning so much myself.

- A few weeks ago I successfully completed the Couch 2 Five K program and will be running my first 5K TOMORROW morning. Three months ago I would have thought this impossible. Seriously folks, if I can follow this program anyone can! I have big fitness and running goals and I promise to keep everyone posted.

- I've been cooking up a storm and have been stalking, I mean following, many wonderful food blogs. I'll be sure to share those blogs and their wonderful recipes with you.

There, that should just about cover it. And I promise that it won't be a YEAR before I post again.

Have a blessed weekend!