Category Archives: Miscellaneous Thoughts

Sometimes I just have random thoughts to share. Topics may vary, depending on my ever-changing mood. The views of this blogger may not reflect your own, so please be tolerant or exercise your sense of humor while reading. I have been known to use sarcasm enthusiastically.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thanksgiving Turkeys

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November 26, 2013 · 9:00 AM

The Master Bath Remodel Project

MBR Project - Before - Tub & Shower

Until last month, this was our 24 year-old master bathroom (minus the decorations and 47 shampoo bottles). Sad trombone says ‘wah wahhhhhh’ and I agree. Here’s what was bugging us about our old shower/tub area.

MBR Project - Before - What is Wrong

Where to start? Old carpet (Q: Who carpets a bathroom? A: Everyone in 1989.) A huge 2-person garden tub that was rarely used except when the grandbabies swam in it. They’ll be the only ones to miss it.

MBR Project - Before1

Shower tile, some of which literally comes out of place every few years, a shower door so low The Complete Package has a history of banging his head on it, and glass so short water from every shower flies out and sprays the entire bathroom. Ugh. What are you gonna do?

That’s right… rip it out, baby!

MBR Project - Ripping out the old shower & tub

Boom. Gone! We found a contractor we enjoyed working with, agreed on every single decision (a rarity), dug in, and got it done right on schedule. Seriously, everything went like clockwork. The only minor hiccup was a corroded pipe behind the old shower tile, which was quickly replaced.

MBR Project - Corroded Pipe2 Collage

So here was our game plan:
1. enlarge the shower & add a bench
2. replace the tub with a smaller soaking tub
3. raise the shower tile & glass
4. replace carpet with new tile flooring

Let the framing begin!

MBR Project - New Framing Begins

Next up – plumbing rough-in for the new fixtures and a new concrete base for the shower floor. For the record, our old shower did not have a concrete base but should have. It also didn’t have a vapor barrier or waterproof backer board. The things you learn when tile is ripped out, man. We’re lucky we didn’t suffer a serious leak over the past 24 years. It’s kind of a miracle.

MBR Project - New Shower Concrete

This time around, we had a contractor that knew how to do it right and the difference between old and new is like night and day. We’re completely thrilled with the new stuff. One last look at the before photos before I start revealing.

Tub & Shower Collage1

First up, the new soaking tub. It’s smaller, deeper and rectangular versus oval.

MBR Project - Soaking Tub

Because it’s rectangle in shape, you can actually stretch out farther than you could in the bigger oval tub. Don’t ask me how. #Science

All I know is that I love this tub. When you want to soak, the water actually comes above your shoulders. As it should. Also cool – the front tile panel is held on with magnets, so if you ever need to access the plumbing, you don’t have to wreck the tile work. Genius! And that decorative border? It’s in the shower, too.

MBR Project - New Soaking Tub

But before I show you the shower, here’s the new floor tile. It’s the same tile used for the tub and shower, but in much larger 18″ squares. I love it. Goodbye nasty old carpet. Hello clean shiny tile!

MBR Project - 18 Floor Tiles

Other than the decorative band, we used the same tile throughout the entire bathroom in different sizes. This same floor tile is in the shower floor in a 3″ x 3″ version. Wanna see? Do you want to see it now? Okay… here you go.

MBR Project - Shower View

How do I love my new shower? Let me count the ways. I love the larger size – at least a foot deeper and about 18″ wider. I love the taller frameless glass. I love that the tile goes all the way to the ceiling. And I love the new fixtures.

MBR Project - New Shower Hardware

Old shower – small shower head. New shower – bigger shower head and a hand-held wand. Even better – there’s a new diverter valve so you can toggle between the two or use both at once. Love it! There’s also a new niche for shampoo and soap (his & hers, of course). But what I love most is the new granite-topped bench. (The next photo was taken before the shower glass was installed.)

MBR Project - New Shower Bench with Granite Top

No more bending over to shave my legs, or throwing a leg up and hoping I won’t slip and fall. (Don’t try to picture that last part, just move along.) It’s at least 4 feet long and 12″ wide, and we were able to hand pick our piece of granite, which includes some really cool streaks of gemstones. I could not be happier.

MBR Project - My New Shower

An unexpected bonus – because the new shower glass is much taller, it holds in the steam thereby turning the new shower into a steam shower. That’s going to be lovely this winter when our Houston temps dip to 45-ish. I joke, but it really is nice when the bathroom is chilly. Except that you want to stay in the shower and not come out. Like ever. Do they make wine racks for showers?

MBR Project - Before - What is Wrong

MBR Project - Finished Shower & Tub

Have I said how much we love our new bathroom? Because we really, really do. So we moved into the guest bedroom and bathroom for 4 weeks. Who cares? So we had to move our clothes and all of TCP’s computer equipment (since he works from home). Done! So we had to wrap our entire bedroom, study and both closets in plastic sheeting to protect it from construction dust. No big deal!

MBR Project - Taping Off the Bedroom

Unless you’re a big Dexter fan. Then that part got a leeettle bit creepy. :)

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What we ate this summer.

Boy, did we eat well this summer! We may have consumed more than our fair share of fresh veggies in a wide variety of simple yet flavorful dishes. What is summer for, after all, if not the consumption of goodies from the farmers market and excuse to work on your tan? Here’s a peek at what we ate this summer.

Chicken Stir-Fry - My Bowl

It started with this chicken stir-fry over rice. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but The Complete Package and I love rice. Like L-O-V-E it. You could put a bowl of plain rice in front of us and we’d be happy, but smothering it with this zesty stir-fry made us really happy campers. The recipe came from the Weber’s New Real Grilling Cookbook. Seen it yet? Well, you should. Holy smokes (yes, that’s a grill joke) – it’s exceptional.

When I brought this book home from the BlogHer Food Conference in Austin (Thank you, Dole!), we immediately decided to jump in and try as many recipes as we could as quickly as possible. Here’s another winner from the book.

Weber  - Avocado, Red Onion & Sun-Dried Tomato Quesadillas

This beauty is an avocado, red onion and sun-dried tomato quesadilla. It’s ooey, gooey, crispy and crunchy. It was meat-free, but it still had it all, and in an easy to eat portable package, too. So much flavor!

This next one came from an internet search TCP did for smoked chicken. Now that he has officially conquered brisket and ribs (his are to die for), he decided to tackle smoked chicken. The recipe he found was for a ‘competition grade’ chicken, and while I don’t think he’ll be competing anywhere, this bird deserves a blue ribbon. Isn’t it gorgeous? Smokey, juicy poultry in motion.

A Smoked Chicken

Next was our pizza phase – where we attempted to live out our “More Is More” motto to the fullest. This one was grilled chicken with a smokey BBQ sauce, red onion, sliced jalapenos and a blend of cheddar and monterrey jack cheese.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Think that one was loaded? You ain’t seen nothing yet. THIS baby was loaded. I call it “All The Veggies” pizza, and it was an exercise in excess. Instead of a tomato sauce, I smeared a whole wheat dough with basil pesto, then layered on oodles of veggies – artichoke hearts, mushrooms, orange & yellow bell peppers, roasted piquillo peppers, fresh spinach, kalamata olives, and red onions – then topped it with ricotta, toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil. We could hardly pick it up, but the flavors were over-the-top fabulous.

DeLallo Veggie Pizza

Speaking of flavor, this simple dish from the Weber’s grilling book blew our minds. It is deceptive in that it doesn’t look like much, but practically explodes in your mouth. Yummy is an understatement. It starts with eggplant grilled over charcoal, which is then topped with a sun-dried tomato, shallot & garlic relish dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette. Wow. Just wow.

Grilled Eggplant with Sun-Dried Tomato Topping

Next up was a Cuban Sandwich made with leftover smoked pork tenderloin (also from the Weber book), but the star of this show was the tostones we made on the side. Ever had tostones? It’s hard to describe them, but if you ever have an opportunity to try them (or even make them), take it. They’re like thick chips made from plantains. Now, if you think plantains are just fat bananas, you are mistaken. They’re actually starchy like a potato, and unless you let them over-ripen, they are not sweet. Think of them as a potato substitute.

Cuban Sandwiches from Grilling Book - July10, 2013

To make tostones, peel and slice plantains and fry them in a little canola oil until they just start to crisp a little. Remove them from the oil, drain on paper towels, and flatten them with a metal spatula. Then, and I know this sounds strange, throw them BACK into the oil until they are a golden, crispy brown. Sprinkled with kosher salt & served with your favorite salsa, I promise you will never reach for corn chips again.

All this talk of chips and pizza is making me thirsty, which brings me to my last treat of the summer. The fine folks at Double Decker were kind enough to ask if I’d like to try their wine. I don’t think I could have said “Heck yes!” any faster. To my surprise, they sent two full-size bottles – Pinot Grigio (white) and their Red Blend. The red was opened first. We drank half the bottle with a nice steak dinner and used the last half the bottle for Blackberry Sangria. Mmm…. I can still smell and taste it just looking at this photo. My friend Beka pointed out that it appears the ice is giving a fist-bump. Wildly appropriate; it rocked!

Double Decker Blackberry Sangria - Inside NanaBread's Head

Blackberry Sangria is my new ‘must have’ for summer. To make, muddle one pint of fresh blackberries with 1/3 cup of sugar and add to a bottle of Double Decker Red Blend. Cap it and put in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours so the berries & wine can fall in love. Then strain and serve over ice with a few fresh berries for garnish. So good, and so refreshing. This would also work with red plums or raspberries. The pinot grigio is superb and crisp on its own, but also makes a great summer sangria with the addition of peaches, apples, orange slices and a handful of white grapes. If you lika de’ bubbles, top it with a splash of champagne, club soda or lemon-lime soda. Then sit back and reflect on a summer worthy of the record books.

Did you try anything this summer that knocked your socks off? Do tell!

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Pineapple Update!

Our pineapple babies are growing nicely. I realized it’s been forever since my last update, and I thought you’d like to see how they’re doing. This year, we have four. FOUR! Well, four actual fruits. We’re currently up to eight pots and over a dozen plants. If you add in the ratoons (offshoots) that will have to be replanted soon, we’re up to 25+ potential pineapple plants. It’s practically a mini-plantation now. Watch your back, Dole. I’m coming for you.

Pineapple Collage - Aug2013

In my head I call them Eenie, Meenie, Miney & Mo. This is Mo (below).

Pineapple Close-Up - Aug2013

Judging by our last pineapple harvest in 2011, I’m guessing these are still at least 4-6 weeks from fully ripe which means late September or possibly even early October. But that’s okay, because we got another surprise this month – a new batch of bananas – and they’ll be ripe at about the same time.

Bananas - Aug2013

{sniff….sniff…} I smell daiquiris!

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Random Thoughts Thursday

It’s early Thursday morning and I desperately need coffee. So while I’m making a cup, feel free to browse a few random things that came up this week.

1. Bake Sale for Beka (aka Cookies for Crohn’s)
My friend Megan from Country Cleaver is hosting this amazing on-line bake sale benefitting the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America for the second year running. I’m participating again by baking four dozen of these Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies dipped in dark Guittard chocolate. Holy yum!

Cherry & Almond Shortbreads - Inside NanaBread's Head

Made with flour & almond meal, dried Michigan cherries, toasted almonds & real butter these shortbread cookies stand on their own without any chocolate. But what fun is that? Seriously, when things can be dipped in dark chocolate, they absolutely should be. If these beauties have captivated you, you can bid on them! If you win, I’ll ship 4 dozen directly to your home, dipped in whichever type of chocolate you prefer – white, milk or dark. Winner’s choice.

To bid or browse the other selections generously donated by a plethora of fabulous food bloggers go to Megan’s website THIS SATURDAY, JUNE 22, 2013. That’s right, folks… this is a one day on-line auction benefiting the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation and celebrating Beka’s first half-marathon for the cure. For the record, on a scale of 1 to 10, Beka is a 15 kind of amazing. So mark your calendar and drop in on the Bake Sale for Beka to watch the bidding shenanigans. And if you end up with the winning bid on my cookies, I might just throw in a jar of homemade jelly. It’s been known to happen.

2. The Complete Package went to the Republic of Texas motorcycle rally in Austin and all we got were photos & disco light sabers.
Okay, that’s true but not entirely true. TCP (my beloved) DID attend the ROT Rally in Austin where his girlfriend (if I may brag a bit) took first place in the Metric Customs category. Yes, I refer to his motorcycle as his girlfriend. Here’s a snap in case you’re curious about her. Meh; she’s okay I guess. :)

TCP's Honda Fury

Each year, on Friday evening, participants in the motorcycle rally ride from the Austin fairgrounds into downtown in a bike parade that stretches more than 10 miles. MILES, people. And each year, My Baby and I take the grandkids downtown to watch the parade so they can see their Papi ride in. They get the biggest kick out of seeing him in the parade. It’s his rock star moment.

After he gets downtown and parks, we all walk Congress looking at the motorcycles and snapping photos. Here are a few from last Friday night. This first one is of Jonah Bear & Lilly Bug with ‘The Cat Lady’. She’s really popular.

ROT Rally 2013 - Jonah & Lilly with Cat Lady

ROT Rally 2013 - Strolling on Congress

ROT Rally 2013 - State Capitol

3. I took the kids back to Springdale Farm.
Remember last week when I mentioned I had the privilege of visiting Springdale Farm for the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance dinner as part of the BlogHer Food conference? It was a wonderful, magical night under the stars and trees.

Springdale Farm - US Farmers & Ranchers Dinner

I enjoyed it so much I vowed to bring My Baby and the kids for a visit, and last Saturday we did just that. Despite the heat, the kids had a great time and enjoyed walking the farm, spotting fresh vegetables, and picking out some to take home. In case I haven’t been clear in past posts, I L-O-V-E a good farmer’s market or farm stand and Springdale Farm is now one of my favorites. If you’re in Austin, please visit and support a local farmer. Food doesn’t get any fresher.

Lilly & The Chickens - Springdale Farm

Jonah & Lilly - walking the herb garden at Springdale Farm

Farm Stand at Springdale

Ever wondered what an artichoke looks like when it’s left to bloom? Well now you know. You’re not going to see that in a grocery store, folks!

Artichoke Blooms - Springdale Farm

We also attempted to take Jonah & Lilly on a mural hop around Austin. More on that later, but here’s a glimpse of what we did before we died of heat stroke.

Lilly & Jonah at Austin Mural

4. Nothing rocks summer like the glitter polish.
It started with pale pink glitter polish over raspberry red and it has now morphed into pale teal glitter over a dark teal base. For a girl who doesn’t usually paint her nails, I’m totally digging the disco glitter. Hello summer!

The Megan - Teal Sparkle Nails

5. Don’t forget this weekend’s Bake Sale for Beka on-line auction!
I mean it, people. Buy my cookies and I’ll make it worth your time & money. We’re talking FOUR DOZEN HANDMADE FROM SCRATCH COOKIES and homemade jam or jelly. If I could ship a puppy, I would. I’m not above bribery. Whatever it takes. Just bid. It’s for a good cause and there are cookbooks & cookies to be had. LOTS of cookies. For a preview, CLICK HERE.

BakeSale4Beka

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A Pineapple Update

If you’re a regular reader, you might remember that in 2011 we grew and harvested our first ever homegrown pineapple. It was the best of times.

Our first ever pineapple; summer of 2012

Our first ever pineapple; summer of 2012

We’re such dorks, we called our kids & grandkids and invited them over for the weekend so we could harvest it together. The Complete Package helped our grandson, Jonah Bear, cut the first pineapple. Go Jonah Bear!

Jonah Bear puts some muscle into harvesting the pineapple.

Jonah Bear puts some muscle into harvesting the pineapple.

Then Jonah & I immediately cut it up and baked a birthday cake for our granddaughter, Lilly Bug. What a great adventure that was. And so much fun.

Lilly Bug blows out the candles on her homemade cake.

Lilly Bug blows out the candles on her homemade cake.

Well, this year – we have four baby pineapples. FOUR! It’s so amazing. Of the ten pineapple plants currently growing on our back porch, four have bloomed and produced fruit. We are so excited! Here are a few shots of the new babies.

This snap shows the baby pineapple on its stalk.

This snap shows the baby pineapple on its stalk.

This one shows the crown starting to form on top.

This one shows the crown starting to form on top.

If you look closely at the tips, you'll see the purple flowers almost ready to emerge.

If you look closely at the tips, you’ll see the purple flowers almost ready to emerge.

So hold on to your britches, folks. This summer promises to bring All The Pineapple Goodies. While I’m sure there’s another pineapple upside-down cake in our future (because last year’s cake was beyond delicious), there’s no telling what the others may become. Pineapple preserves? Pineapple sherbet? Pineapple tarts? Feel free to shout out suggestions! Like all other mothers with new babies, I’m sure I’ll post additional photos as they grow.

Ever the proud pineapple momma,
-Jeanne (NanaBread)

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OKMH: The Secret Santa Project

The OKMH Gang (clockwise from top left) - Mads, Kirsten, Megan, Kat, Allison & me

The OKMH Gang (clockwise from top left) – Mads, Kirsten, Megan, Kat, Allison & me

As 2012 draws to a close (that seems so unreal) so does our first year of One Kitchen Many Hearts boxes. This little ‘boxes of love’ project has been one of the greatest joys of the year for me. Not necessarily for what I received, but for how much fun I had hand-picking items to send to each beloved friend. I anxiously waited, every other month, to see how those gifts would be received. And when a box of love was a success, it made the whole world seem brighter.

For December, our final exchange of 2012, we decided to draw names Secret Santa style and surprise each other. No teasers. No hints. No “wait until you see what I’m sending you” tweets. Until that box showed up on each porch, there would be no clue as to who was sending to whom. My Secret Santa was Kirsten (my twin separated at birth) from Comfortably Domestic in Michigan. And true to her ‘kindred spirit’ form, she totally nailed it.

Perfect theme. Perfect choices. And SO…. MUCH…. LOOT!

OKMH Dec - A Sleigh full of Gifts

Check out this card. Clearly, she’s on board with my exercise regime.

OKMH Dec - Front of Card

OKMH Dec - Inside the Card

Yup. She gets me. She knows that I pine (whine) over her glorious abundance of snow while we languish in shorts and sip iced drinks well into January. I covet her snow. So she sent me a Winter Wonderland in a box, and it was perfect. Perfect timing, perfect selections… just perfect in every way.

My first squeal came when I discovered the tub of Mayan Hot Cocoa Mix. She posted this recipe on her blog and I swooned, but then she sent me some! AND she even sent a fabulous snowflake mug and a tub of miniature freeze-dried marshmallows. How fun is that? They’re so tiny & cute!

OKMH Dec - Cocoa Marshmallow & A Cup

So of course I immediately made a cup so I could enjoy it while I unpacked the rest of the box. Evidently, I am all about instant gratification when it comes to hot cocoa. Kirsten’s is even more decadent because it has a hint of cayenne pepper in it. Not enough so that you taste it, but just enough that you feel a slight burn in the back of your throat. I love that sweet little burn.

OKMH Dec - First Cup of Cocoa

SO. GOOD. If that wasn’t enough, she included these cute ‘cup’ cookie cutters.

OKMH Dec - Cup Cookie Cutters

I haven’t made cookies with them yet, but I’m going to. Soon. Until I get around to it, here’s a suggestion of how they would work. Just imagine it’s a chocolate almond shortbread cookie. Or a cranberry orange sugar cookie.

OKMH Dec - Cup Cookie Cutter

Get a load of the Winter Wonderland goodies she sourced for this baking kit:

OKMH Dec - Holiday Baking Bonanza

It’s a virtual baking blizzard up in here! That snowflake spatula is sturdy, man! Even the stiffest cookie or bread doughs will be conquered with that beast. I love it! And a girl can never, ever have too many cupcake wrappers. There’s just no such thing as ‘enough’ cupcake wrappers.

OKMH Dec - Snowflake Baking Cups

And there were sprinkles. Snowflake Sprinkles, y’all!

OKMH Dec - Snowflake Sprinkles

This snowflake cookie cutter is sturdy, too. This ain’t no flimsy aluminum cookie cutter, my friends. This cutter says ‘I could do this all day.’ It laughs at flimsy cookie cutters. At nearly 4″ across, if this made actual snowflakes, they could kill on impact. Can you just imagine giant buttery snowflakes falling from the sky? I can, and I’m catching them in my mug of hot cocoa.

OKMH Dec - Snowflake Cutter & Spatula

One cookie, and you’d be stuffed to the gills. I would pretend to be a dainty eater. You’d be all like, “Can I offer you another holiday treat?” And I’d be all like, “No thanks; I just ate a snowflake. I couldn’t eat another bite!”

But I saved the best baking surprise for last. It’s this little unassuming bottle:

OKMH Dec - Nectar of the Gods

It’s unicorn tears. I’m just kidding. It’s actually fiori di sicilia and it’s a baker’s secret weapon. A blend of citrus & vanilla, it brightens everything from ice cream to cookies to bread dough. I cannot WAIT to crack that puppy open! I just have to find the perfect recipe. Something truly worthy. Suggestions?

Also included in the box – two sweet winter-themed hand towels (who doesn’t love a penguin, seriously) and a snowflake ornament. Ah-door-ah-bull.

OKMH Dec - Cute Ornament & Towels

But wait, there’s more! No OKMH box is complete without something girlie and Kirsten went for mani/pedi fun. As a south coaster, Kirsten knows I’m a slave to humidity. When winter comes and the heaters click on, I begin to shrivel like a lizard. There’s nothing pretty about it, either. So for my dry lizard skin, there is Carmex healing cream. As soon as I put it on, my skin said, “Ahhhhhhhhh.” And there was polish! I love these two sparkly, frosty colors together. So pretty!

OKMH Dec - Hand Care

And for those days when sweet & frosty won’t cut it, she included this wild OPI set as a tribute to my Day of the Dead Mask post from October. So much fun, and they even came with little DOTD stickers for your nails, too!

OKMH Dec - DOTD Nail Polish

These are going in my Tub-O-Polish for girlie nail painting parties like Hoegarden. Or when I want to spice up my toes (even though no one will see them this winter). It’s like wearing racy underwear under a boring business suit. Hypothetically speaking, of course. {giggling}

Always a mom at heart, she included these reuseable snack bags for the grandkids – Jonah Bear & Lilly Bug. They’re going to love them. I’ve already stuffed them with snacks and juice boxes. No kidding.

OKMH Dec - Reusable Snack Bags

I love that these are washable, and the kids are going to love the cute prints. Lilly Bug is all girl with a pink fetish and Jonah Bear is all about the super heroes. Thanks for thinking of them, Kirsten. So thoughtful.

But I saved my very favorite surprise for last.

Did I mention Kirsten is a knitter? I wish I knew how to knit. We made a deal recently. She’ll teach me to knit if I’ll teach her to sew. We just need a few weeks together. That’s all. Or maybe a month. A month would be much better.

Lucky for me, Kirsten is a gifted knitter and she made something special just for me in the most beautiful shade of blue. Seriously, I died.

OKMH Dec - Hand-Knitted Gloves

Fingerless Victorian-inspired gloves. Fingerless because she knows it never gets cold enough down here to wear a heavy coat. Victorian because we share a love of antiques. Some day we will wear gloves and sip chai tea together as we browse antique shops. It’s a dream of ours, and one I’m determined WILL come true. Some day. Until then, check out the details on these beauties:

OKMH Dec - Glove Details

Not just ruffles, but ruffles with contrasting trim in black. And those buttons. They kill me. I don’t know how she did it. Well, actually there’s a story behind the gloves. If you look at the photo of the inside of the card again, you’ll see that little note on the top left corner about a funny story. It turns out that Kirsten crafted these gloves while they were traveling by car for Thanksgiving. She was so excited to get them done on the drive, she showed them to her husband, who commented “Did you mean to knit two left-handed gloves?” To her surprise, she’d accidentally made two lefts. She had to rip one apart and re-knit it into a right handed glove. She calls that a funny story. I would have cried.

OKMH Dec - gloves & a heart

Those gloves are a symbol of how nothing gets in the way of our devotion to make each box as perfect as possible. I can’t speak for all the ladies, but I believe the preparation and care and love that goes into crafting each OKMH box is the best part of this project. Well, that and hearing how much each box meant to those who received them. And although 2012 is almost behind us, I have a feeling One Kitchen Many Hearts will continue for years to come.

I’m sending a big bear hug to Kirsten, along with a very special thanks for my Winter Wonderland extravaganza. I could not imagine a better holiday surprise. As Kirsten so eloquently puts it, I love these ladies more than cake. And if you’d like to see what everyone else received, drop in on them at the links below. In case you’re curious, I sent my Secret Santa box to Mads. {squee!}

Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic

Megan at Country Cleaver

Kat at Tenaciously Yours

Allison at Decadent Philistines Save the World

Mads at La Petite Pancake

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Bake Sale for Beka – join the party!

UPDATE: The Bake Sale for Beka is closed. Thanks a million to Cindy C. who placed the winning bid on my dark chocolate cherry pecan cookies at $60. WOW – $60 for my cookies! I promise not to disappoint, Cindy! Thank you also to all who visited the bake sale and to those who helped raise funds more than $1,700 for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America and Camp Oasis. Great cause, great people and a great bake sale. Congrats, Megan & Beka!

My good friend Megan at CountryCleaver.com is hosting a Bake Sale this weekend in honor of her best buddy Beka. Proceeds will benefit the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, Camp Oasis, and Beka’s first half-marathon where she’ll be racing for the cure. You can join the party by participating!

Megan will be joined by 25 of her blogging buddies (myself included) as we bake fabulous goodies for an on-line auction this Sunday & Monday. We’re talking good stuff like Pumpkin Peanut Butter Brownies, Nutella-Stuffed Cinnamon Sugar Muffins, Coconut Oil Poundcake with Almonds & Lime, Chipotle Butter Toffee, Cheddar & Olive Biscuits, Coconut Maple Granola, Passionfruit Chili Pepper Palmiers, Neapolitan Cupcakes, Mud Hen Bars, Death By Chocolate Cookies and more!

I’ll be baking my Dark Chocolate Cherry Pecan Cookies for one lucky bidder. They’re gooey, they’re loaded with dried cherries & nuts, and they are sinful as H-E-doublehockeysticks. And the best part is four dozen of them can be YOURS if you place the winning bid. Did I mention they’re really delicious?

But wait! There’s more! In addition to this plethora of baked goods, the following sponsors have joined in to donate these incredible auction items:

Chobani – donated a party pack of good-for-you flavored yogurts

Kerrygold – donated one month’s worth of their high quality butter & cheese

Star Fine Foods – donated a basket of their olive oils & Mediterranean classics

Le Creuset – donated a 4.5 quart Dutch Oven in a lovely cassis color

America’s Test Kitchen – a copy of their new Quick Family Cookbook AND the new Cook’s Country Complete Series Cookbook

To see these fine products and read more about the Bake Sale for Beka, go to www.CountryCleaver.com. One look and you’ll see what we all see – that life is precious, cookies are delicious, and nothing beats the love and support of our friends and family. Now mark your calendar for Sunday, grab your wallet, and bid on something yummy! {please & thank you}

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Good News / Bad News

It’s been one of those days. You know, the kind where you start something with the best of intentions and something else gets in the way; or you get distracted. In my case, it was less of the first and more of the latter. I’ll give you examples.

Good News – I decided to tackle my freezer; it needed to be reorganized.

Yes, that’s vodka in the top drawer. For penne. Don’t judge.


Bad New – I got distracted by what I found.

Good News – I am now infusing old frozen vanilla beans in the vodka for the win AND I found a bag of frozen dinner rolls that make the perfect winter coat for the Pumpkin Spice Kisses Megan sent me.

Kisses in frozen rolls = dessert in a pinch, literally.

Once the dough rises around the kisses, I’ll pinch them shut, bake them off, and smother them in a caramel glaze. Yes way!

Bad News – If The Complete Package doesn’t pitch in to help eat these, I’m going to be in trouble. Serious trouble. Which brings me to the…

Good News – It’s sweat pants season! Wahoo!

Cheer Sweats by Nike; love the ‘Hook ‘Em Horns’ orange

Bad News – I never finished organizing the freezer because I found the end of a bag of frozen shredded hashbrown potatoes way in the back.

Good News – I decided hashbrowns with soft-fried eggs smothered in Texas Brew Salsa was absolutely essential for today’s lunch. It was a good call.

Bad News – It was gone way too quickly, just like our Texas Brew Salsa Giveaway this week.

Good News – You still have time to enter! Comments close at 9:00pm CST Friday, October 5th so click here and leave a comment. You could win a big box of Texas Brew Salsa of your very own. And that’s always good news.

Texas Brew Salsa – it’s *that* good!

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Filed under "Buy Local" Spotlights, Food & Recipes, Miscellaneous Thoughts

I don’t know what to call this post.

It’s a mishmash of random photos from this week. Not that it’s particularly fascinating or anything, but I’ll share them anyway. Thanks for humoring me.

1. A Pineapple Update – our miniature ‘plantation’ is up to 10 plants now. Ten. None of which fruited this year. Either this has been a bad year for pineapple mating, or next year is going to bring a bumper crop. I’m personally hoping for bumper crop.

This is only half of them; the one on the left is at least 4 ft tall.

Some are growing 2 to a pot; they’ll have to be transplanted later.

For a while, we had a tenant; can you see the little frog?

2. Oh, yes. We have da’ bananas – This is actually our second bunch of the summer. Last year = zero. This year = over 100 bananas. Just goes to show… you never can tell what kind of year we’ll have around here.

What do you do with 100+ bananas? You freeze most of them.

3. Speaking of Fruits & Veggies – I went by Froberg Farm to pick up apples for my apple butter. I love this place. You can see your veggies being grown and harvested right there by the farm stand. I don’t think they grew the apples (they’re not really in season here) but they were exceptionally crisp and fresh.

Honey Crisp, Gala & Granny Smith apples from Froberg Farm

Fresh Texas Cream Peas – kind of like black-eye peas or crowders

Greak’s Jalapeno Cheese Sausage from ‘The Sausage Man’

This sausage is world-class. It’s made by the Greak family, and they sell it from a small cabin adjacent to the Froberg Farm stand. They torment shoppers with the scent of smoky meat and samples of their sausage. And you know what? It works every time. It’s not a trip to Froberg without a few links of Greak’s sausage.

4. Turkish Delight Fail – I tried making Turkish Delight. It’s a little like making gummi candies. Unfortunately, it never got thick enough. You’re supposed to be able to slice it into squares & roll them in powdered sugar. Mine was too soft, so I spread it onto a silpat mat and I’m re-categorizing it as fruit leather. Or jellies I can roll in granulated sugar. I’ll get back to you on this one.

Beautiful color! I just wish it was thicker. Live & learn.

5. The Great Jelly Swap – It’s a thing. My friend Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic and I started this last fall. Each year, we make a variety of jams, jellies and preserves and then ship a box to each other. She gets to try what I made, and I get to try what she made. The beauty of this plan is that we both have access to different regional ingredients – I’m on the southern coast of Texas; she’s on the northern edge of Michigan. Here’s what I’ve made so far.

Blueberry Pomegranate Jelly – sweet & tart, just like I like it.

The clear, colorful beauty of a good jelly can’t be beat.

Made with Turkish apricots, this one is thick and luscious and tart.

Mom’s recipe for molasses apple butter – made with those oven-roasted apples.

These two are all dressed up and ready to go to Kirsten’s house.

She’s also getting another jar of my peach cherry & orange marmalade. She said her boys really enjoyed that one last year. Note to Kirsten: If that was you being polite, now is the time to speak up. Opt out now, or face choking down another jar of that marmalade. :)

6. Ziggy - Our 13 1/2 year-old Boston Terrier is mostly blind, mostly deaf, and sometimes smells like a sewer line break, but he’s hanging in there and we love him like crazy. It’s been a while since I’ve posted a photo, so here you go.

He hates being photographed & got a mani/pedi right after this was snapped.

So… what have you been up to this week? Are you following Beer Week and getting excited for fall yet? Hoarding pumpkin or bacon yet? Have you heard about the looming pork shortage? Do you care? As for me, I’m pricing chest freezers. I’m going to stockpile bacon the same way doomsday disciples hoard canned goods. When the baconpocalypse rolls around next year, you’ll find me in the garage – sleeping on that freezer with a shotgun. Kidding (not kidding).

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Filed under Miscellaneous Thoughts