Thursday Adventures: A Picnic & A ‘Pony’

The weather was much to glorious last Thursday to stay inside, so the kids and I decided to do something special. I had a few things to get done early that morning, so the kids watched some “TV” and chilled in their jammies while I went about my to-do list. I was pondering what the kids and I could do that morning that would be extra special, so I opted for a picnic with freshly baked cookies (recipe here) , watermelon, strawberries, and the ever-popular animal crackers.

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The kids were SUPER excited to have a ‘real’ picnic. It was certainly an interesting time with the wind deciding to pick up and the dogs giving us ‘the look’. I did turn my back once and just so happened to catch my dog Louie in the act of sneaking a cookie, but at that point I really didn’t want it back so I just let it go 😉

After our picnic we took a walk down by the bees and continued the tradition of climbing the gate:

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We walked back up to the house, spent some time on the swings, digging for treasure, and reading a book in the hammock.

Later that morning I spent some time working some horses. I knew how much the kids wanted to go for a ride (they LOVE riding), so I got my old man Jaz and got ready for some big smiles and lots of giggles. Usually I just put them on the horse and walk them around for a bit, but this time I had all my brushes out so the kids got to ‘learn’ how to brush – they actually did a good job.

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Another adventurous Thursday for the memory books.

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What’s On Repeat #10

Hunter GK Thompson’s EP, Gabriel Kansas, has been playing in the house more often than I’d care to admit, but when something is this good, there really is no shame in listening to it in copious amounts. Vocally, he reminds me of Sean Curran of Bellarive. So, without further-ado here is my current favorite song, Seasons To Grow:

Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Last Friday was my final riding lesson with a group of kids from the local high school. I wanted to make a special treat for them so the Z and D helped me create these wonderful cookies.

We had a plethora of pretzels left in our cabinet from a project a few weeks ago and we really aren’t pretzel eaters around here, so the push to use them before they “go bad” was consuming my mind.

I’m a sweet-salty kinda girl so even though I don’t care for chocolate chip cookies (I know, I know, I’m odd), I was actually able to enjoy one of these.

Well, I won’t keep you waiting any longer 🙂

Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 rounded cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T molasses
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
  • 6 pretzel rods crushed (or roughly 1 cup crushed pretzels) *
  • 1 c. chocolate chips
  • sea salt

*I left my pretzel pieces rather large – you don’t want it to be so finely crushed that you are no longer able to tell it’s a pretzel :o)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375.
In a small bowl combine flour, salt, and baking soda; set aside.
In a medium-large mixing bowl add butter and sugar. Using a hand/stand mixer cream until well combined and fluffy. Add egg and beat until combined. Add vanilla, molasses, and peanut butter and mix until well combined and smooth. Add in dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add chocolate chips and pretzel pieces – mix with spoon.
(Due to a lack of anything else available, I used my cupcake scoop to form my cookies (insert embarrassed look). Feel free to make the cookies as large or small as you like. I was able to yield 12 cookies and I felt like they weren’t too awful large. They don’t seem to spread out on the pan very much. I’d say my cupcake scoop is in-between a 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup just to give you a better idea of how “large” I made them.)
I baked the cookies for 11 minutes, and let them rest on the pan for 2 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. While they were resting on the pan I sprinkled them with sea salt – this step is entirely optional, but I think it’s makes them extra delicious. ;o)
You will have to adjust baking time, possibly even temperature, depending on the size of your cookies.

I hope these directions weren’t too confusing! Enjoy!

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Belated Bike Post

A few weeks ago I met up with a friend for lunch in Kaukauna. The weather was way to perfect to drive so I took advantage of the opportunity to get in a long ride. I didn’t worry too much about pace and was able to enjoy the scenery as well as take some pictures of things you would never be able to capture in a vehicle.

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I didn’t take any pictures on the way back as I was trying to outride an approaching storm.

A Thursday Adventure

A few Thursdays ago the kids and I decided to go for a walk down our lane to check on the bees and the cows. The sun was shining and with so many dandelions there was more picking flowers than walking to be done.

Most of the pictures are self explanatory, however Daniel insisted that we take a picture of the cow hair that was stuck on the fence. Must be a boy thing.

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I’d take a bouquet of dandelions over roses any day.

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He then also insisted we take a picture of the scrape he got on his arm. Another boy thing?

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What a beautiful day.

What’s On Repeat #9

I’ve been a fan of Jason Reeves for as long as I can remember. I appreciate how his live voice is essentially the same as his record sound, which is exceedingly rare in this day and age. Lately i’ve been having his song, Truth, on repeat. The melody, chords, the lyrics – they have captured my heart these last few days. Here’s a video of a live performance of this song. I hope you enjoy it!

Citrus Summer Cupcakes

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I generally don’t bake much during the summer. Maybe it’s the heat, maybe it’s the fact that I’m almost always covered in horse hair and dirt this time of year, or maybe it’s because the thought of ice cream sounds much more appetizing than cake for combating the warm summer sun. However, someone very dear to me celebrated her birthday last Friday and I really desired to make something special for her. The cupcakes pictured are gluten free, but I would really like to try making them with my yellow cake base.

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This recipe is exceedingly simple and I honestly believe you could make the following additions to a yellow or white cake mix and have wonderful results. I took the zest of one lemon and one large orange and combined that with the sugar I needed for this recipe and let it sit for a while. Doing so in essence marinated the sugar and made the flavor much more complex. I added some fresh squeezed lemon and orange juice to the batter as well.

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The frosting was also very simple. I used equal parts butter and powdered sugar. I combined the butter with some lemon and orange zest and let it sit for about 15 minutes. I then added my powdered sugar, and instead of using milk to adjust consistency, I used lemon juice. Sometimes, very simple and few ingredients, when done right, produce wonderful, complex flavors.

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I can honestly say that it took me a few minutes to think of what kind of garnish to put atop these cupcakes. I didn’t want to do an orange segment or a candied lemon or orange peel. I wanted something with a pop of color, but also something that would not only taste good with the citrus flavor already present but also tie in with the ‘fresh’ feel of the cupcake. I was looking through our refrigerator and the raspberries jumped out at me. Their sweet but slightly tart flavor compliments citrus so well, and they have the perfect color. My little brother helped me add some fine sugar crystals on top for some added sparkle. I think this recipe is a definite winner and I will be making these again this summer; I may ever eat one!

Flashback Friday

So I was digging through some old writings of mine, and this one blew me away. I love how things I’ve written in the past become relevant again years later. This was written back in April of 2011. I hope it speaks to you!

Always seeming to be out of reach,
It dances tauntingly on the horizon.
If I give my all will I be able to grasp it?
No.

It’s not something to be captured,
Nor mastered.
It’s a condition.
It is not something you can physically hold.
It is a matter of the heart,
A state of mind,
A condition of the soul.
It is something longed for,
But rarely ever attained
Because we spend our time in wishing for it
Rather than embracing it.
We keep it at a distance
For we know not what we would do if we attained it.
I stretch my arms farther than I’ve been willing to,
But I stretch them inwardly,
For there I will truly be able to find what I seek.
Hello contentment,
It’s nice to meet you.

Monday Night Confessions

So, I just feel like I need to get some things off my chest. I am fully convinced that it’s exponentially healthy to confess things with others. Therefore, I have decided to share some of my deepest secrets with you.

Ok, well maybe they aren’t my deepest secrets; rather obscure quirks I posses. But either way, you’re special, because I don’t share these things with just anyone.

  1. Right now, I’m blasting Lifehouse’s album Alermia. Lifehouse has been one of my favorite bands since before I can remember. Long before Moses Mayfield/Matthew Mayfield and SafetySuit captured my heart. I’m not quite sure what it is about them that I love, but I just do.
  2. I have a hard time deciding what time of they day to shower. I love working out in the morning and taking a cold shower to jump start my day, but I also love showering at night. It relaxes my body and I sleep so much better. However, the idea of showering twice a day is a bit overwhelming. Maybe I just won’t shower…..
  3. Ordering at restaurants is a very stressful event for me. I take forever to make a decision and I feel so bad sending the waiter/waitress back numerous times because I’m not ready to order. I taste all of the food “in my head” to see if it will satisfy my palette. I mean, if i’m paying for the meal it might as well be what I really want right?
  4. Speaking of tasting in my head, if I am making a recipe and I can tell it needs something, I taste what I’m cooking, then glance into the spice cabinet or fridge and am able to tell by looking what I need to add. If that doesn’t make me entirely abnormal, I don’t know what would…
  5. I love orange jello. I have no shame admitting that it is one of my favorite foods. Orange jello jigglers are even better. Words cannot express how happy I was when I watched Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and there was a house made out of orange jello. I want to live there. Period. Someone please build me and orange jello house.
  6. I am crazy about balloons. Something about them just makes me happy.
  7. I wanted to be a private investigator when I grew up. Obviously that didn’t happen, but I do still dream of being the girl version of Sherlock Holmes.
  8. I couldn’t dance to save my life, but let me tell you, I’ve got some mad skills when it comes to busting a move while mopping the floor. The vacuum makes a nice dance partner too.
  9. I don’t like anything artificially strawberry flavored.
  10. To make myself feel better about my inability to bowl, I usually bowl my first game left handed and the second right, therefore getting a much better score the second game. This plan has only backfired on me twice, which means I either bowl better left handed, or i’m really that bad at bowling.

I feel so much better already ;o)

The Gift Of Life

Well, a little more than an hour ago, I came into this world 24 years ago. Crazy how fast the time goes by.

I did have one breakdown yesterday, not going to lie about that! Pretty sure the only thought running through my head was, “oh my goodness, I’m almost halfway to 50!”.

But, it’s all good now ;o)

Every year I take some time and reflect on where the Lord has brought me in the past year. I get overwhelmed at this gift of life – how undeserving I am to be loved by the King of kings – to be called His – to be known intimately and yet loved unconditionally.

I have an expectant heart for this upcoming year – I can feel the Lord preparing me for something big – something far beyond myself – something beyond my wildest dreams – and I am excited, so excited.

He has placed a song in my heart today – one of hope, joy, and restoration.

He is good, always.

I enter this next chapter with a heart in sweet surrender, placed in the hands of the only one who deserves to hold it.