Monday, February 27, 2017

Favorite Meal?

In the early days of our marriage, I attempted to make taste-alike Chipotle-style  burritos. Have you ever eaten at the restaurant Chipotle? Their burritos are out of this world! (They are similar to Qdoba burritos but not quite the same.) Chipotle offers several choices of meat, as well as a vegetarian option.

I expected the burritos to be a huge flop, but they were a hit! "Chipotle" quickly became our favorite meal and still is. (Click here to view my recipe.) Between cooking the rice, browning the meat, and chopping all the veggies, the burritos take about two hours to prepare, but they are definitely worth it.

Do you or your family have a favorite meal? I'm always interested to hear what others like to cook and eat, so I would love to hear from you. And if you can, give the approximate prep time. If it's an easy recipe that you can rattle off the top of your head, feel free to share how you make it, as well.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

DIY Lazy Susan


Regina, one of my faithful blog followers, sent me this picture of her DIY Lazy Susan. I thought it was incredibly clever and that you all would enjoy learning how she made it. (It's simple and cheap!)

She bought all the supplies at Dollar Tree. For each Lazy Susan (there are three in the picture above) all you need are the following:

2 round metal cake pans
1 bag of marbles

Pour the marbles into one of the cake pans, and spread them out. You'll only need enough to fill half the pan. Nest the other cake pan on top, and it should spin around perfectly. That's it!

Regina uses her Lazy Susans to store baking supplies. (Looking for a handy way to organize your spices? Click here to check out my spice cabinet organization tutorial.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Vlog #1

As I sat down at my computer to write a post this afternoon, I decided to shake things up and create a video blog post (also known as a "vlog"). Enjoy!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Painting with Mae and Lena

Mr. Handsome is the oldest of seven children. He and three of his siblings are finished with school and well into their careers, but the three younger girls are still working through their education. The two youngest, Mae and Lena, are in high school.

As many of you know, Mr. Handsome is a hobbyist painter. (We are hoping to start selling his masterpieces soon, so stay tuned for more information on that.) For Christmas, my mother-in-law decided she wanted to buy Bob Ross oil painting kits for Mae and Lena, and she enlisted Mr. Handsome and me to help her pick out the supplies.

The girls were thrilled about their gifts and begged Mr. Handsome to give them a painting lesson. My husband patiently gave his sisters step-by-step instructions for about three hours, and their finished products turned out great.



Friday, February 17, 2017

Are CDs Still in Vogue?

Wishing all my lovely blog readers a wonderful weekend! I always enjoy conversing with you, and what better way to kick off the weekend than through a fun discussion.

Mr. Handsome and I are part of the age group that is supposed to be head over heels in love with our devices. While we both have smart phones and try to keep up with the latest technological advancements (within reason), there is one thing from the "dark ages" that we just can't give up: CDs.

We constantly hear people talking about how CDs are on the way out and that the best way to listen to music is to buy it online and download it to your device, but we just haven't gotten into that.

Our ideal is to buy an album on a CD, download it onto iTunes so we can listen to it on our devices (especially while working out) and then put the CD in the car. That way, we have both a digital version and a hard copy.

I know my readership represents a wide variety of ages, so I'm curious to hear what you all prefer when it comes to purchasing music.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Simple BBQ Brisket Recipe

I absolutely love BBQ brisket. I tried it for the first time a few years ago at a restaurant called Famous Dave's, I have been hooked ever since.

Nashville, Tennessee, has many award-winning BBQ joints that we enjoy visiting. While we were out to eat last spring, both Mr. Handsome and I agreed that it would be fun to try our hand at homemade BBQ beef brisket

 The meat is expensive (usually $20-$25 for 4 pounds) so we have only made it a handful of times. It takes a few hours to cook, but the prep is a cinch. Here's the recipe:


Simple BBQ Beef Brisket

Ingredients:
Brisket roast (approximately 4 pounds)
Several slices of uncooked bacon
Homemade BBQ sauce*

1-1/2 Tablespoons paprika 
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 Tablespoons brown sugar 
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard (optional)

*I use the same Homemade Honey BBQ recipe that I make with my Buffalo Wild Wings Style Wings--click here to view


Remove all packaging from brisket roast. Place fat side down in an oven safe, non-glass pan that can hold juices that will accumulate. I use a 9x13-inch pan.

Combine dry spices in a small bowl. Using a fork, poke holes in brisket, and rub the entire roast with spice rub. 


Place uncooked bacon strips over brisket, side-by-side. If you have additional bacon slices, you can also place one layer of bacon under the roast. (Bacon is expensive, so I don't usually do that.)


Tightly cover pan with foil, and bake at 300 degrees for 3 hours. Remove from oven, and flip brisket over so the fat side is facing up. Return to oven, covered with foil, for an additional hour.

Remove from oven, and cut into brisket with a knife. Meat should be fork tender. Return to oven if necessary.

Brisket roasts can be finicky, so it helps if you have had BBQ brisket at a restaurant and have seen how it looks when it is fully cooked. The size and thickness of the brisket roast also affects cooking time.

Transfer to a cutting board, and slice. Serve with homemade BBQ sauce. If you find yourself with an overcooked brisket, just add extra BBQ sauce!


Simple BBQ Beef Brisket

Ingredients:
Brisket roast (approximately 4 pounds)
Several slices of uncooked bacon
Homemade BBQ sauce*

1-1/2 Tablespoons paprika 
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 Tablespoons brown sugar 
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard (optional)

*I use the same Homemade Honey BBQ recipe that I make with my Buffalo Wild Wings Style Wings--click here to view

Directions:
Remove all packaging from brisket roast. Place fat side down in an oven safe, non-glass pan that can hold juices that will accumulate. I use a 9x13-inch pan.

Combine dry spices in a small bowl. Using a fork, poke holes in brisket, and rub the entire roast with spice rub. 
Place uncooked bacon strips over brisket, side-by-side. If you have additional bacon slices, you can also place one layer of bacon under the roast. (Bacon is expensive, so I don't usually do that.)Tightly cover pan with foil, and bake at 300 degrees for 3 hours. Remove from oven, and flip brisket over so the fat side is facing up. Return to oven, covered with foil, for an additional hour. 

Remove from oven, and cut into brisket with a knife. Meat should be fork tender. Return to oven if necessary. 

Brisket roasts can be finicky, so it helps if you have had BBQ brisket at a restaurant and have seen how it looks when it is fully cooked. The size and thickness of the brisket roast also affects cooking time. 

Transfer to a cutting board, and slice. Serve with homemade BBQ sauce. If you find yourself with an overcooked brisket, just add extra BBQ sauce!

Monday, February 13, 2017

An Early Valentine's Dinner


Mr. Handsome and I celebrated Valentine's Day two days early this year. He is on a basketball league, and someone accidentally scheduled a game on February 14th (probably a single male). Mr. Handsome offered to skip, but I told him not to. The team is small, so if he didn't show up, chances are good they would have to forfeit.

Rather than take me out to dinner, Mr. Handsome decided he would prepare something at home, which was very thoughtful. I don't have a favorite food, so it wasn't easy for him to figure out what to make, but he ended up cooking a delicious meal.

We stopped at Walmart on Saturday night to pick up a Redbox movie, and he ran in to pick up ingredients. When Sunday evening rolled around, I stayed upstairs while he cooked. Towards the end, I could tell by the smell that he was whipping up some sort of pasta dish.

It ended up being spaghetti with a homemade meat sauce that he made without a recipe (the tastiest I've ever had) and homemade garlic bread that was toasted to perfection. He also bought flowers, wrote a card, and pained this beautiful flamingo (the perfect choice because I love birds).

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?


Saturday, February 11, 2017

My Husband's New Blog


Soon after watching me celebrate my seven-year blogging anniversary, Mr. Handsome decided he wanted to get in on the blogging fun. He enjoys telling jokes and is always able to break the ice in tense situations through humor, so he found a way to use his talents to bring joy to others.

His new blog is called Funny Christian Memes (www.funnychristianmemes.com). I might be a little biased, but I am pretty amazed by his knack for creating memes that are both clean and funny. I have no idea how he comes up with a new meme every day or two, but he does, and they always make me laugh. He asks my opinions as he is creating them, but the ideas are all his. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Christmas Shoes

A few days ago, I was sitting on the bleachers watching Mr. Handsome show off his amazing basketball skills in the league he is part of. Most of the players are married, so us ladies enjoy chatting during the games.

One of the gals is a second grade teacher at a nearby school, and she told a story about a student of hers.

"One of my students has been wearing a brand new pair of tennis shoes since he came back from Christmas break," she shared. "They are three sizes too big, so he is always asking me to tighten the laces. A few weeks ago, I struck up a conversation with him and found out he had indeed received them for Christmas."

"'Those are beautiful shoes!'" I told him. "'What else did you get for Christmas?''' With pure joy, he proceeded to list all his presents, which included that pair of shoes, two new shirts, his 'own' bottle of shampoo, and his 'own' toothbrush. He was so thrilled that I couldn't help but smile, but when I finished talking to him, I had to turn away to compose myself."

All of us were tearing up as she finished the story. I just couldn't stand thinking about that sweet little boy being without a toothbrush, so Mr. Handsome and I decided to give a toothbrush and tube of toothpaste to each of her students. She said the kids were absolutely thrilled.

Thinking back to my own childhood, I can tell you I wouldn't have been that excited about receiving hygiene items for Christmas. Sometimes I forget that there are people out there who have so little. May we all remember not to take anything for granted, even something as seemingly small and insignificant as a toothbrush.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Simple Crock Pot Wassail


Have you ever tried wassail? It's a hot, apple-based drink usually served around Christmastime. The picture above is my in-laws' dinning room table set for Christmas dinner, with teacups about to be filled with wassail. In my opinion, wassail is great at any time of year (especially the dreary days of February).

This recipe is simple, but oh so delicious! You can make it in a crock pot (or any type of slow cooker) or on the stove.

Simple Wassail

Ingredients:
1 gallon apple cider
2 cups orange juice
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
1 Tablespoon allspice

Slow Cooker Instructions:
Combine ingredients in slow cooker, and stir. Cook until hot (approximately 2 hours on high or 4 hours on low), stirring every 30 minutes. You may need to adjust the time depending on the strength of your slow cooker. Ladle into mugs or teacups, and serve hot.

Some people leave their wassail in the slow cooker all day on the lowest setting. (It makes your house smell wonderful if you do.) If you choose to do that, I definitely recommend keeping an eye on it and stirring it every 30 minutes.  

Stove Top Instructions:
Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot, and stir. Bring to a boil, and turn heat down to a simmer. Cover, and cook 20-30 minutes. Again, make sure to cook the wassail until it's hot so the flavors have time to combine. Ladle into mugs or teacups, and serve hot.



Monday, February 6, 2017

'The Jungle Book' Giveaway

We recently had the pleasure of meeting world renowned storyteller Jim Weiss and his wife, Randy, at my brother-in-law's December wedding. (They are dear friends of the bride's family.)

Mr. Handsome and his siblings grew up listening to audio recordings of Jim's stories, as did thousands of other children. He and I had a wonderful time chatting with Jim and Randy and hearing how they broke into the world of storytelling. They were very encouraging to us as we told them about our budding careers.

During the wedding reception, Jim read a poem for the bride and groom. It was a beautiful reading, but Mr. Handsome and I nearly burst out laughing as we watched the facial expressions of Mr. Handsome's other brother, who suddenly recognized Jim by his voice. Somehow he had missed the memo that Jim and Randy would be at the wedding, so you can imagine how shocked he was when he realized that this "random" friend of the family was the same person he had been listening to since childhood! It was truly a Kodak moment.

Jim and Randy generously offered to send us some of Jim's recordings. When I mentioned the idea of doing giveaway on my blog, they were thrilled. Since the inception of Greathall Productions in 1989, Jim has recorded more than 60 audio recordings of beloved stories under that label, including The Jungle Book, A Christmas Carol, Arabian Nights, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Tale of Two Cities, and multiple titles by G.A. Henty.

Jim has also created recordings of fiction and non-fiction works for other publishers, including the well-known series The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer. In addition to producing audio recordings, Jim has spent time traveling as a storyteller and workshop instructor. He has received more than 100 awards for his work.

I have two wonderful Jim Weiss giveaways in store for you. The first is The Jungle Book. Follow the prompts on the Rafflecopter widget blow to enter to win one of four copies. 

Jim Weiss' recordings can be ordered off Amazon.com and WellTrainedMind.com. He and Randy publish a bimonthly e-magazine, which can be accessed on their website, jimweiss.com, by clicking "View Archives of Past E-Magazine Blogs."


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Wedding Reception...Take 2

Hope you all are having a fabulous weekend! I have one last batch of photos from my brother-in-law's December wedding to share. The wedding was on the East Coast, where the bride is from, so many people from our side of the family were unable to come.

My in-laws have a large extended family, so they decided to throw a second wedding reception, which also worked out to be a New Year's party, for the couple a few weeks after the actual wedding. The venue was a small banquet hall located in their small town and only cost about $100 to rent for the evening. It was a lot of work because we DIY-ed most everything, but it was a blast.

My in-laws have seven kids, so before their first child got married four years ago, they purchased napkins, tablecloths, and chair covers to use for all the weddings. For this party, we used disposable plates, silverware, and cups purchased from Smarty Had a Party.


After setting up, we waited around a couple hours before the guests began to arrive. We all got quite hungry. (That's Mr. Handsome's hand reaching for some pretzels.)


I caught him mid-chew...


For drinks, we had coffee and homemade crock pot hot chocolate--click here for the recipe.


Dinner was a simple pasta/chicken buffet made by a friend who has a catering company.


There's Mr. Handsome again.



Mr. Handsome's talented cousin made these homemade cupcakes. The flavors are coffee, chai (my favorite), raspberry, and peanut butter. I asked for her recipes, but she wants to keep them secret, as she has a cake decorating business.


We also had other random assortments of goodies, made by other family members. We ended up overdoing it and having lots left over.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

What Are You Reading?

A few days ago, one of my readers asked what I'm currently reading. Between blogging and researching for the WWII book I'm writing, I'll admit that I don't spend a lot of time reading for pleasure. But I do have a few books that I'm working through.


Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Growing up, I was a huge fan of Little House on the Prairie. I read all the books and watched every episode of the TV series, and when I was in junior high, my dad took me to visit the places where Laura spent her childhood and adult life. Pioneer Girl is Laura's never-before-published autobiography that has been hidden since the 1930s. I haven't gotten very far, but it's a great book to grab when I have a few moments to relax.

The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace. Marriage is an equal partnership, and it's important for each party to constantly remind themselves of the principles on which their marriage is founded. As Christians, the foundation of our marriage is the Bible. This book has helped remind me what it means to be a godly wife. For those who are interested, I would be glad to share with you the other marriage books that Mr. Handsome and I have read and enjoyed.

Healing Back Pain by John E. Sarno. Last February, I began struggling with wrist pain that eventually went away and was replaced by upper back and neck pain. I visited multiple doctors and physical therapists, but none could find anything physically wrong. This book has been very helpful, and I have come to realize that the root of the issue is stress.

Contentment: A Godly Woman's Adornment by Lydia Brownback. This is a devotional book that I pick up from time to time. It's a great reminder to be grateful for all the blessings I have and not to be anxious for the next steps in life.

What books are you reading?