Sarah (17) who is sharing her new Mumford and Sons CD with her Dad. She very quickly reached over to adjust the volume and then startled him by saying, "Dad! This song is a remake of an old song by...'somebody and Garfunkle.' 
My beloved came to the conclusion at that point that he may have failed as a father.

Abby: Mom can I ask you two things?
Me: Yes

Abby: First, are we having anyone over tonight?
Me: No
Abby: Okay. Second thing. Can I tell you something?

Emily's class is currently making their way through The Lliad. As they near the end of the bloody saga they are working on making their own shields. I noticed Emily's  had the outline of a tree which was bare of leaves. Don't you want to add some leaves? With the look that only comes from an almost thirteen year old girl, "Mom, war is ugly. It is not a happy time."  Fair point.

Claire, watching as Wesley and Buttercup walk through the fire swamp: "She should have stopped, dropped and rolled!"

Something that amused my son quite a lot:




Best. Ad. Ever.


I am reasonably sure that I have come out of the pantry looking just like this. Yes, I  fully and somewhat sheepishly admit that I have hidden in the pantry from my children to eat nutella by the spoonful. I am not kidding when I say I cannot have an open jar of it in the house. I came to the nutella craze late in life and I think I have been trying to make amends ever since.

The jar I used for this recipe stayed unopened and hidden in the back of my pantry for about three weeks. (A record I am sure.) But then I found this recipe and, well...all bets were off. (Shhhhh, the kids think I used all of it in the recipe:-)

Nutella Gooey Butter Cake.

Yep, Paula Deen's gooey butter cake fell for a jar of nutella and this cake is their love child.

Rich and decadent...a dessert to be made for company. I made it for our Wednesday night meal at our church. They thanked me.

The crust is a simple mix of one chocolate cake mix, a stick of butter (melted), and one egg.


And then you twist off that white lid, peel back the gold foil...


Mix that cup of nutella with an 8oz cream cheese, another melted stick of butter, 3 eggs, 1 tsp of vanilla and a box of confectioners sugar. This is the only change I'd make...I'd probably only use about 3/4 of the box of confectioners sugar. (Yeah, I know. Way to pull back and show some health conscious restraint.)


Bake it at 350 for about 40 to 45 minutes and somehow that cooks up into a dense moist cake with a flaky crust. Oh, my goodness it is so good.


With the holidays coming up you should really add this to your must serve list. Or even your food gift list...teachers, pastor, mailman. Trust me they'll thank you.

I'm linking up with Melt in Your Mouth Monday again. Also linking with Sweet Sharing Monday and joining with This Gal Cooks and Couponing & Cooking.




For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Sharing with Scripture and a Snapshot and also visiting with the Sunday Community.


Pumpkins...gourds...big ones...small ones...I love using them to decorate this time of year. I used white pumpkins in a photograph backdrop for an event at my children's school this week and people were so surprised by them. Do you know there are even blue pumpkins? How beautiful is that? And, unlike the white ones that are carving pumpkins, you can actually make pie with the blue moon.

I haven't seen any blue pumpkins around here but I have enjoy my white ones as well as my bumpy miniature gourds. I may not have all the crisp cool air I liked to have at this time but I can at least make my home look more autumn-ish.



I had so much fun last week with My Best Shot Friday that I'm linking up with them again. You really should click through...she shares the sweetest story today about celebrating her grandparents 70th wedding anniversary and simple kindness. It's a beautiful post.

And because I love looking at pretty pictures I'm also linking up with Fabulous Friday.

Happy weekend!



Quick tell me what movie this is from: I Wish I Had a Million Dollars...Hot Dog!

Is it ringing any bells for anyone? If it is then an angel just got it's wings and you watch "It's a Wonderful Life" regularly enough to quote lines from it. My son had an obsession with quoting that movie line; to the point that it has been banned from our house except for the first two minutes immediately following the ending of the movie during which he may say it as often as he is able in order to get it out of his system.

The only reason that I mention it here is because it is the perfect segue into today's pinterest test kitchen. At least it's what I think of every time I hear the name of the recipe, look up the recipe, or even make the recipe. But I also stop and take pictures of  my pasta while I'm cooking so it's entirely possible that it's my own little quirk and you're just sitting there reading this, scratching your head and thinking "Get on with it already!"

So in the interest of getting on with it...million dollar spaghetti. (My disclaimer because if you've read my blog recipes before you know I had to change something: I use penne past instead of regular spaghetti. It seemed to me that it would be easier to spoon up and eat.)


This very quickly became one of my favorite recipes to make for a crowd. It goes far and is really, really good. It may be so good because of the stick of butter it calls for since we all know that next to bacon, butter makes everything better.


Or it may be the two different cheeses that get mixed together with sour cream.


Or possibly the grated cheese sprinkled on top and cooked to bubbly perfection.


Whatever it is, it's good stuff. Worth a million dollars? You can decide that for yourself :-)

But here are some other things you can buy if you have a million dollars sitting around and you've already had dinner.

The aurora diamante fountain pen. They only make one of these diamond crusted writing pens a year and it can be yours for a mere $1, 470, 600.00.

Or how about dropping the million on a pair of shoes that are adorned with a pair of earrings that belonged to Marilyn Monroe?

Personally I think I'd be tempted by the world's most expensive bathtub hewn from a solid piece of rock from the Amazon rain forest.

Of course if you're in New York you may just want to buy a parking spot.

So, what would you spend a million dollars on?

I am linking this recipe with Melt in Your Mouth Monday. Oh, goodness you cannot believe the fabulous recipes shared this week!



I've been doing photography for almost twelve years. I've upgraded my camera twice, bought one or two lenses and learned where to rent more. I've uploaded almost 9,000 images to Flickr since joining in October of 2007 and I have easily taken four times that number.

I've done first birthdays and 95ths; families, couples, high school seniors, bridals and weddings and 50th anniversaries, maternity and newborns. I've taken pictures of food, eggs being cracked, and how I set my table. My kids playing, doing school work, crying, laughing, even sleeping.

Photography is as much a part of me and who I am as the color of my eyes.

It's my thaaaang and I love it.

I'm not sure I can even explain why. There's just something in me that finds great joy and satisfaction in the process...looking for light...the right angle...capturing the moment when the moment happens.

I probably take anywhere between fifty to one hundred pictures a week. I share them on this blog, one on my weekly project blog, flickr and facebook. Today I am joining a linking party across the cyber world that wants us to post our best image from the week. I probably shot around fifty or seventy five images this week so far (it's not over yet ;-) but I knew when I saw this one that it was a keeper. It will probably go up at 52 Weeks tomorrow.

I don't know what makes it so special for me. I shot it through the screen on my kitchen window at an awkward angle no less. But the moment...the sipping on her coffee sitting on the front porch quiet moment last Sunday has just captured me as surely as I captured it.


Here's the link for the blog party. If you have time you should visit and stroll through her pumpkin patch and then visit some of the other links. I know I will.
Another blog I'm linking to...today's image makes me want to go to the beach.


Normally, the test kitchen is only open once a week here on the blog but yesterday I mentioned on facebook that I was making homemade applesauce and had a couple of people ask for the recipe.

So here it is; simple and yummy and with the added benefit of making your house smell so good.

In a large pot combine:

6 chopped up baking apples (McIntosh or Granny Smith were suggested but I had a few jazz and fuji on hand so that's what I used.)
1 1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

(Because it's the way I cook sometimes I tend to look at the recipe as a suggestion...meaning I eyeballed the amount of cranberries until it looked like a good apple to cranberry ratio; I added the half cup of brown sugar but added in a wee bit more so that it was probably closer to 3/4 cup and I rarely measure cinnamon.)
Once you have everything together cook on high heat stirring occasionally, for about 35 to 45 minutes or until your apples are very tender. I don't like super chunky applesauce so I use the potato masher on mine just a little to break down the bigger pieces of apple.

Some interesting facts about apples:

The science of apple cultivation is called pomology.

An average person will eat 65 apples in a year.

The bump at the front of the throat is called an "Adam's apple" which legend says was caused by the forbidden fruit getting stuck in Adam's throat when he ate it in the garden of Eden.

There are more than 8,000 varieties of apples.

People who like apples are said to be "outspoken, charismatic and enthusiastic."

And of course because we live in the world that we live in: the fear of apples is called malusdomesticaphobia.

Hope all my outspoken, charismatic and enthusiastic friends enjoy their apple sauce!




Be quiet.
Don't talk.
Listen.
And in the quiet
I heard whispers
Of ways and paths.
In the quiet
Direction given,
Hope shown.
In the quiet
Faith built.
On quietness.
The stillness of the wind
As it moves around
Not through
The path of trees
That stand firmly in the way.
Eyes open wide
To see,
Ears to hear
The Truth.
Spoken quietly
From a quiet heart.
-Ivey Brown




This will come as no surprise to anyone but I love baking and cooking different desserts; brownies, the occasional pie, cobblers. I even have a wonderful recipe for a lemon blueberry torte that is fabulous.
What may come as a surprise is that I am not much of a cake eater. Unless the words "pound" or "cheese" come first; then I am all about it.

I've also never spent a lot of time making cookies from scratch. (Yet some how I still have twenty-one cookie recipes pinned. Make of that what you will.) I'm not a huge fan of the Toll House recipe...yeah, I know the earth just tilted side ways for some of you but they just aren't that good to me. And I will be completely honest the pre-made dough makes it so much simpler to whip up a batch and you still get that fresh baked cookie smell in your house.

But then I came across this recipe and just had to try it. It caught my eye because it looked tasty and was easy to make. And because it's chocolate and mint. And who doesn't like chocolate and mint cookies?

You begin by unwrapping (and maybe eating a few) Andes mints.


A box of chocolate cake mix, 1/2 cup of oil, and two eggs gives you a really yummy cookie dough.


 Drop the dough by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and bake anywhere from 6 to 9 minutes. You may think that's not long enough but believe me you do not want to over bake them. Part of what makes them so delicious is their texture.

Well, that and the melted goodness on top. Melted goodness? Yes, those minty chocolate rectangles get slapped on top of the cookies as soon as the come out of the oven.


Let them sit for about 5 minutes and then use a spoon to spread it all around. You can gobble them up right away or wait so the chocolate can set. I did both and really can't say which one tasted better.


I made them a second time and tried making half of them with Hershey's Bliss Raspberry Meltaways but they chocolate never did set. They tasted great but you couldn't transport them anywhere.

I do a lot of baking for gift giving over the holidays and I am pretty sure this one will go on the must-do list. Maybe in a basket with hot cocoa and other such goodies. What do you think?


Politics is ugly business and, really, who has ever seen a blog post, tweet, or facebook status and had their views changed? But I have been musing on some things lately and I am going to lob them out there as food for thought or liner for the litter box~whichever you think best. (I will leave comments open but if anything gets mean or out of bounds I'll be shutting her down, CoCo. I'll also delete any long winded comments...if you have that much to say start your own blog ;-)

I have seen Proverbs 29:9 posted on a lot of Facebook statuses in response to Thursday night's VP debate:

      If a wise man has an argument with a fool,
the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.

I understand the sentiment-I watched the debate. My objection comes from making Ryan the voice of wisdom. With regard to the abortion issue, both sides missed the mark. Both sides have failed to represent the wisdom of Scripture.

I am so tired of hearing this...

But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews, and I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the — the congressman. I — I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that — women they can't control their body. It's a decision between them and their doctor. (Joe Biden)

In a word: Malarky (also Joe Biden - see what I did there?).

Because guess what? Abortion is not just an issue between a woman and her doctor. What about the father? Not to mention the fact that with all the healthcare reforms everybody is paying for it.

Here's the cold hard truth. There is going to be an imposition of a view on somebody. There's no way around it. Somebody's will is going to be imposed upon someone else's will. Either a woman will be allowed to exercise her will over her body to the point of someone else's death, or the extent of her will is blunted to allow protection of a human being. Regardless of how that child was conceived. And that is where the right falls on it's own sword. Because they are only willing to impose so far and the left knows it, sees it and calls it the hypocrisy that it is. Paul Ryan thinks fetuses are people, but people who can be legally murdered if their mom was raped. LOGIC!).  Quote from someone obviously not a fan of Ryan.

Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile and the Gospel Coalition posted this clip by Voddie Baucham which should be watched by every Christian if they have ever uttered the words: "except in the case of rape or incest." (I'm pretty sure that posting a Voddie Baucham clip four years ago is what caused the explosion four years ago so this may be where the fat lady starts singing.)

So what am I saying? We should just throw our hands up in the air or wring them in despair? Absolutely not. But it should give the Church great pause when Christians are clamoring for a president that denies the deity of Christ and believes that he, himself, will one day be a god.

If we think the answer to Obama will be found in a political savior than we are asking the wrong question. Our world will not be changed from the top down and if we think that by simply electing the lesser of two evils will fix the mess we find ourselves in then I'm afraid we're going to reach up and touch the ground.

The answer is found in imitating Christ. He came and served the world that hated and rejected him. He didn't create a perfect little religious bubble to live in isolated from the poor, the hungry, the sick, the needy, and the lost and unlovely. He lived with them. He loved them. He died for them.

The world will be changed when the Gospel is lived out everyday in every part of our lives. The weapons of our warfare are not the same as the world uses. So come November, step into the voting booth; but do not think that your work is done because you've marked your ballot. Our real work happens in our homes between husband and wife, parent and child. It happens in the public square between sinner and saint, employer and employee, teacher and student, human being to human being. Our real calling is to love our neighbor as ourselves.

And regardless of the outcome of an election we trust God. Knowing that His ways are not our ways and sometimes victory looks an awful like defeat.

Jesus suffered, bled, and died with our nation, our families, our cities in mind. He knew their names. He knew our names. His blood was shed for our sorry land and all our sick, disgusting sin. And the good news is that we’re on the way down. This ship is sinking. And that’s good news because we serve the God of the sign of Jonah. We need to be born again, we need to die so we can live, we need to see our cowardice so we can cry out for courage. ~ Toby Sumpter



I've noticed a little pattern developing with my pinterest test kitchen; quite unintentionally I might add. Right now it seems I am doing a sweet savory rotation with the success and failures that I'm sharing.


Like I said, totally unplanned and who knows how long the trend will continue because I have a serious sweet tooth and love baking, but for now it's working so I'm gonna roll with it.

Today's offering is actually a major family favorite. There is a battle for the spoon between at least four of the seven of us to see who's going to get the last bite. Want to know what could possibly be so delicious, so tasty that it turns parent against child, spouse against spouse?

Brussels Sprouts.

Yep, you read that correctly.

Brussels sprouts. Little bitty cabbage like veggies that can start wars. Trust me. They are not the yucky green thingie that you may have pictured all of your life. There is more to this misunderstood threat from childhood than meets the eye. Or the taste buds for that matter.

What could possibly make them so wonderful, you ask?

Bacon of course. Everything is better with bacon. (Side note: with this new blog I am trying to keep things organized so I am working hard to use labels or tags to make it easier to find posts should the need arise. Toward that end, and knowing my family as I do, I feel perfectly safe in creating a bacon tag.)

Where was I? Oh, yes. Brussels sprouts, bacon, and apples. Have I mentioned the apples yet? Well there are apples in there too. 

I cannot find my original pin (because seriously, I made this once and I have not forgotten it. Plus it's easy peasy.) So here's what you do:

Wash and prepare your brussels sprouts.

Interesting fact there are about as many ways to prepare your sprouts for cooking as there are proper ways to spell Brussels sprouts. (Both ways I've spelled it-with a captital B and without- are acceptable. Yes, I looked it up :-) Some people just rinse their sprouts and are good to go and some of us will cut off and dispose of the stem, peel a few leaves off and then they're ready. I think this may fall into that this-is-the-way-my-mother-has-always-done-it camp.  

Back to step one: prepare your brussels sprouts and chop them in half.

Step two: chop up about half a package of uncooked bacon. (Okay, fine...I confess I have used the whole package of bacon before. But in my defense I was making two cartons of sprouts.)

Step three: core and chop up two medium sized apples.

Step four: toss the above three ingredients into a bowl with about a TBS of olive oil. I say about because really you just eyeball it until everything has a light coating of oil.

Step five: dump everything into a 9x13 pan and roast at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until sprouts are fork tender and bacon is crisp. You may want to stir them around about half way through. I have also turned my broiler on for three minutes or so to crisp up the bacon.

Magic happens in that pan, friends. The leafy green veggies get caramelized and the combination of the apple and bacon is just yummy. 

Try it and tell me if I'm wrong :-)



Years ago when my children were young it seemed we were surrounded by girls. All of our friends had girls, our homeschooling circles were full of girls, our church even had more girls than boys. (Poor Sam. Not only was he outnumbered at with with four sisters but everywhere we went he was overwhelmed with ruffles and bows.)


Then in the not so distant past the landscape of our social circle shifted and suddenly there were boys everywhere. Sarah's class at school has five girls and something like fourteen boys. All the babies at church lately have been boys. My sweet friend Lauren has four boys. Our friends, the Culbertson's had one daughter and six boys before they had another girl. It's crazy really but the thing that is truly crazy is how cute all these little fellas are.

Case in point: Mr. B.
Not only is he just too cute for words he has got this really deep voice and the funniest personality. Last year as he was learning to talk more he couldn't say "Pastor Hadding" so it came out as "Passor Heiney". Which as you can image caused much amusement at my poor husband's good natured expense. 






He turned three a little while back and yesterday he came and spent the morning with me so we could do his birthday session. He has this thing about apples so I had to use them in his pictures. 



He actually was excited about having his picture taken and had requested a picture be taken with the rabbit statue in my backyard. They're buds I guess. 



Happy birthday, Mr. B! "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love."
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 



I like pretty food. I really like food that taste good and is pretty. And if it's a dessert that taste good and is pretty I'm all over it.
So when I came across this pin for oreo pops I was thrilled. Seriously, it's oreos dipped in chocolate on a stick. Not much tastier or cuter than that. And she makes a point of mentioning her three year old helping out so it must be simple right?

Yeah, not so much. Do I feel slightly ridiculous because, it seems, that even a three year old can shove an oreo onto a stick and dip it in chocolate and apparently I cannot? Yep. But am I hiding this character flaw? Nope. I'm gonna put it all out there because that's what I do.

I'm just keeping it real.

My first concern was whether the sticks would go into the cookies easily. But that turned out to be no problemo.


(Here's a tip on melting chocolate that I picked up from my friend Jennifer...the crock pot. That's right. Drop that big ol' chunk of almond bark into your slow cooker turn it on high and perfectly melted, smooth, and creamy chocolate candy coating is yours in about 20 minutes. I usually do that first and I gather all my other ingredients while it's melting. Another plus is that it keeps the chocolate from hardening up while you're working with it. Which is good for me because I don't work well under pressure. I've also found it is easier to dip stuff into the chocolate because I can scoop it into a pile of sorts.



Bake to my nemesis oreo pops. I tried seven times. And I ended up with two actually dipped in chocolate with sprinkles and on a stick. And they of course fell apart the moment I tried to pick them up.



It wasn't pretty. Clumps of oreo were falling into my smooth-and-creamy-perfectly-melted-in-a-crock-pot-chocolate. But I am not one to be so easily defeated. Okay, I know I was easily defeated by a bunch of oreos on a stick that even a three year old could dip in chocolate but whatevs. I didn't stay down for long.

I made chocolate dipped marshmallows.


Have you seen the giant roaster marshmallows? They'r huge! And when they're dipped in chocolate they are quite pretty. (By the way I was doing all of this for a bake sale at the school. These giant marshmallows are a big hit and look very festive served in cupcake wrappers.)


Because I'm me and it's what I do I played around a bit taking pictures and even did a little abstract freelensing.


So if anyone decides to give the oreo pops a go I'd love for you to share the secret to your success. And pictures if you have them. I'll pin them. I promise :-)

PS I still had a little bit of white chocolate left so I took the last of Sam's gluten free pretzels and made some candy bark. One batch had pretzels and sprinkles and another had raisins mixed in as a nod to healthy eating.


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