Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Blueberry Pancakes!



So I think it's time for a new recipe post around here! And this one was requested by several friends who visited late last summer.

Angie, Jane and Shannon visited in August, and we made these pancakes (just without the blueberries). I promised them I would post the batter recipe that we uesd and I'm sorry it's taken me this long!

This is my favorite pancake recipe, and it's very versatile - you can add most any mixer you like. For this post, I threw in blueberries (hubby and I both love anything blueberry). It takes fewer than five minutes to mix these up, and any extra batter will keep (refrigerated and covered) for several days, so you can get a lot of mileage out of one batch! You can also store the mixed dry ingredients for this recipe in a ziploc bag in your pantry, making these even easier to mix up in the morning.

To make these plain, simply omit the blueberries :-) The yield depends entirely on how big you make each pancake, so I'll just say this makes 4-6 servings. Your mileage may vary!

Blueberry Pancakes
(Adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything)

2 cups all purpose (not self rising!) flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 or 2 eggs (I use two)
1.5 to 2 cups milk

Combine dry ingredients. Beat eggs into 1.5 cups milk, then gently stir this into the dry ingredients (don't overmix; a few lumps won't hurt anything). Pancakes are a bit like muffins in this respect - stir them gently and as briefly as possible, or you'll have hockey pucks instead of breakfast food!

You want the batter to be pourable, but not so runny that it expands a great deal when poured into the pan. If it seems too thick, add milk a bit at a time. If you are using blueberries, add them last.

Preheat a skillet or griddle to about medium. Ladle batter onto the hot skillet to make whatever size pancakes you wish; generally, they are ready to flip when bubbles pop on the surface and the edges look a bit dry. Keep an eye on the heat as you go through the next batches; sometimes the first batch into the skillet requires higher heat than later ones.

Serve with butter and warmed maple syrup!



Love, Dahrlin'



Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

The Angel's message still echoes around the world: Fear not- good news! Christ is come!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

We are blessed in so many ways this year, especially with our little man set to arrive in just a couple of months! We're 29 weeks today, and I can't believe how fast it is all flying by. With everything that has been going on with my Dad's health situation, the pregnancy, getting the house ready for the baby and trying to keep up with working full time, we've had a super-busy fall and holiday season. But we did take time to put up our tree, hang our outdoor wreaths and decorate inside a bit. Here are just a couple of pics that I snagged - I haevn't even taken as many photos since I've been pregnant as I usually might. But I'm trying to get back into the swing of it becuase I know we'll take zillions once little guy arrives!

We set up the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. After much hemming and hawing and yelling on hubby's part and much yelling insistence on my part (hint: pregnant woman wins!), we ventured to the tree lot to get a real, 7 foot tree. Normally I go for about 9 feet on our trees, because we put them in the great room which has high ceilings. But this year, hubby negotiated for a slightly smaller tree, given my pregnancy and his hernia. I conceded on the height issue, and with some ill grace, he conceded on the "live tree vs. artificial one" issue. I'm just not an artificial tree girl!

Typically, the wrestling of the Christmas tree (off the car, into the house, into the stand, lights on, etc.) requires lots of what hubby dubs "Christmas cheer." Normally I make fun martinis for this occasion, but obviously, that's out for me this year. So we made a peppermint 'tini for hubby,



and I celebrated the occasion with some yummy pomegranate soda. It's a beautiful color and I love it because it's all natural. This stuff comes from Whole Foods and I highly recommend it!



We watched Dickens' Christmas Carol and decorated the tree, and I don't think hubby found it as painful in the end as he thought he would.



(The hanging of the outdoor wreaths, which number 14 all told, was a different story and required a whole different argument...but in the end, we got them up!)

Pixie, meanwhile, supervised from her ever-vigilant position on the couch, whose cushions she is quickly destroying...



And best of all, we saw our first White Christmas in years!



Merry Christmas from our family to yours!!

Love, Dahrlin'

Saturday, November 27, 2010

This Little Blog of Mine...

...is in desperate need of an update!

Does it help if I have a good excuse?

You see, I have this new man in my life. And I expect to get to meet him in another 15 weeks or so!

I wanted to at least quickly update the blog to explain my lengthy absence. As some of you already know, we were blessed to become pregnant early this summer. We found out on July 5, and are ecstatic to be expecting our son in mid-March! Initially I had quite a bit of trouble with "all day and night" sickness. Thankfully, my OB is very sympathetic and allows me to take nausea meds as needed starting about 12 weeks, which has helped get me back to work mostly full time. I still have trouble overnight and early morning (especially when I try to stop the meds) but it's much more tolerable than it was. So far, so good! We get another high-res ultrasound of our little guy this coming Thursday, and I can't wait to see how much he's grown since the last scan at 18 weeks!

Managing the challenges of pregnancy and trying to hang on to my job have kept me more than busy the last five months, but I am hoping to get back to blogging at least reasonably often, so I can keep you guys updated on how we're doing!

Meanwhile, I hope everyone had a wonderful summer and fall and is enjoying the holiday season! We're putting out the Christmas decorations here as I write this. More updates, pics and recipes to come!

Love, Dahrlin'

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Dog's Life

Daddy...









Move.Your.Big.FEET!





Love, Pixie

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What's on the menu?

Happy spring!

We've been doing pretty well lately with menu planning. The planning part, anyway, if not the execution ;-) My primary goal has been to eat more fresh food. More fruit, veggies, salad, etc. And organics where possible. I'm also trying to eat seasonally and really focus on recipes that bring together a lot of nutrients. To make that a reality, I've been working with a couple of new strategies. Are you guys familiar with the YOU doctors (Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen)? I've enjoyed their books, and one thing in particular has stuck with me. Maybe because it goes against my usual thought process, but I've found it really does work:

"Automate" one meal per day. They say that, particularly if you're trying to lose weight, actually removing some choices and decisions (like what to eat for lunch every day) can make things easier. Eat that same meal (with some minor tweaks) every day. They say its fine from a nutritional standpoint, and for me, once I got past the concern over lack of variety, this has worked wonders, both for my wallet and helping me eliminate lots of fast food drive-by lunchtime disasters.

They say it can be any meal you choose, but for me the hardest one is always lunch. I'm also trying to eliminate all processed foods, so I've been making turkey and guacamole pitas for lunch every day. Some days I also take a salad (with homemade dressing). This setup is surprisingly enjoyable five days a week, and I feel good about my lunch choices again. I also get an extra serving of veggies in by lunch time if I eat the salad, so I'm working on that (even though I'm not really a salad lover). I'm all about the salad toppings and dressing rather than the greens, so I change those up each week. Baby steps!

Hubby and I are also working out at least 5 days a week, which makes dinner a bit of a challenge (I get home at 6:30, then work out). So we're learning what works and what doesn't, and the whole freezer meal thing has been a Godsend. It's about time for another day of freezer meal prep, so I will share some favorite freezer recipes you guys might enjoy as well!

Here's the plan for the week:

Sunday: Grilled salmon with chimichurri, Italian potato salad, sauteed asparagus. Also, make a batch of Sausage, Bean and Kale ragout (this is great for switching up lunch during the week, and a quick dinner with garlic toast or cheese muffins)

Monday: A new one to try - Cider vinegar chicken, smashed potatoes, cucumber and watercress salad

Tuesday: Leftovers or freezer pleasers!

Wednesday: Whitefish with artichokes, salad, cheesy olive bread

Thursday: Chicken raguout, noodles (tossed with any leftover chimichurri), garlic butter green beans

Friday: Grilled Balsamic BBQ chicken, corn with lime butter, and sweet potatoes

Saturday: Burgers, roasted rosemary potatoes, lemon butter broccoli

So, what's on your table this week?

Love, Dahrlin'

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thought for the Day...

So, I was doing my Bible study this morning and came across this:

"A wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands, the foolish one tears hers down." Proverbs 14:1 (NIV)

Wow. So much to think about packed into such a small line of text!

Recently, as I mentioned in this post, my mind has been on my priorities and behaviors, and what changes I may need to make to them. I know that we all have the same 24 hours each day, and I just haven't felt like I've been maximizing my time and putting it toward the right things lately. Often it feels like I let the "tyrrany of the urgent" dictate what I do and when, with everything else (planned or not) seeming to fall by the wayside. We've been making some changes around the house over the last year or so to work on that, and with more energy over the last few months, but it's slow going sometimes :-)

So how about you guys? What thoughts do you have on the verse above? What changes, if any, have you made recently that you feel good about?

Love, Dahrlin'

Thursday, April 1, 2010

New Organizational Tool #1

First, a huge thanks to ALL who shared thoughts, publicly and backchannel, encouraging and praying and sending virtual hugs after my mini-meltdown a couple weeks ago!

While I'm working on sorting out the mess over here, I recently found this amazing site, which is helping me immensely with conquering my Sticky Note Syndrome. (This is the one where, if you're at all like me, you have piles of sticky notes and shreds of paper reminding you to do things that you really intend to do, just as soon as you locate the relevant sticky note, which is item #1 on the list of things to do that you also can't find...and which notes eventually become one more thing to sort out!) The program is called Evernote, and there is an app for the iPhone or iPod Touch if you've got those. If you don't, the website is totally free and it ROCKS. Check it out! You won't be sorry!

Love, Dahrlin'

Friday, March 19, 2010

Laughed my...

...you know what off! And I needed a laugh!

Seriously.

Watch NOW. You won't regret it!

Thanks Angie for sharing!




Love and happy weekend!

Dahrlin'

Saturday, March 13, 2010

It's Time for a Change Around Here

Can I be real for a few minutes? Really real? Ever feel so overwhelmed you don't even know where to start?

[This will be a bit lengthy, so if you're in the mood please grab a nice cup of coffee and come on in to my virtual kitchen. All set?]

We all say that periodically, and the statement has become cliche. But I'm talking about the kind of sheer fear and desperation that is really paralyzing. That terrible feeling that things, important things where you won't get a do-over, are falling through the cracks while you're busy putting out the latest fire. The fact that your list of things to do only keeps growing, and you never seem to cross anything off as accomplished. The nights where you have to work late (again) and, in your mind's eye, see all the things you had planned to accomplish that evening sliding away (again). The birthdays and occasions dear to family and friends that you miss (again) or are woefully late for, so late that you're embarrassed to even bring it up by the time you get around to it 8 weeks later. And the worst part is, you know the date, and you had it on your calendar weeks ahead to buy a card, or you even HAVE a card in the huge pile-of-cards you keep for just such occasions...but you don't get around to it. (Did I mention you even have stamps on hand? No excuses left here.) The bigger things, like the stress of loved ones dealing with chronic illness that you can't control or really help with. Big decisions to be made there. The smaller things, like the years where you didn't even get Christmas cards out and, as a result, feel even more out of touch and disconnected. The times where you look around the house and don't even know where to begin, while in your head tumble visions of all the things you'd like to do, if you could just find time. The meals you could make if you had half a chance of getting home in time. The workouts you forcibly make time for, but the weight doesn't come off (probably because your stress level is sky-high). The coupons that you've collected that would save you money, if you'd had time in the last 8 weeks to go through them. The time you'd like to be able to relax and spend with friends and family and really feel "present" in the moment, instead of spending those moments mentally trying to get a grip on your schedule, your life, even your sanity. The constant stress (which shouldn't be stressful, but is) of trying (and failing) to get pregnant. The devastating irony of hearing about a friend's 18 year old who is pregnant, and doesn't want to be. And then the days where you just throw up your hands and want to go to bed and forget about it all.

That, my friends, is pretty much how life has gone around here for the last few months. I'm not throwing all that out there to ask for your sympathy. We all have the same sorts of challenges with our lives, priorities and time. Many of you deal with all these things and more, plus kids...My challenges are nothing unusual. But I'm tired of feeling like a victim of my own procrastination, which is a large part of my scheduling, timing and stress issues. So, I'm inviting you to come along with me as I get my act together, one step at a time. I'm committed to sharing with you guys how things are going, the victories and the challenges, and I hope you'll follow along with this little journey! I'm going to be making some changes (more life related and less blog related, but you'll get to see some of it here) and I want to share with you guys what works and what doesn't work for me, in case it will help someone else! Please feel free to share any ideas or suggestions you have, as well as what works for you. And let me know I'm not alone. Ready?

So first things first. For me, it all begins with Christ. He's the beginning, middle, and end of why I was put on this planet. When that fact doesn't take center stage in all areas of my life, everything else will, by definition, be out of balance. Like a wheel without a center, nothing will turn correctly if it's not centered and stabilized properly. So you're going to see that I will try to get back to basics in my faith, resting in His grace, trusting in His provision and control over my life and circumstances, and RELAXING into His care. Easier said than done, certainly. But He's promised that I am not meant to carry all this myself, and He will be there in each moment of my life. Thank you, Lord, that you don't leave us to carry things alone! Thank you that I can bring you my messes, and you don't yell at me, you just say "we'll work on this together."

Next, because my out-of-control schedule and procrastination is the root of many evils in my life, you're going to see my attempts to simplify things and focus on what really matters. Another cliche, but that's because it's a home truth. How much stress could we collectively get rid of if we'd just say no to the unimportant things, and yes to those that matter? I for one get that backwards a lot, and it's costing me. In my relationships (both friends and family). In my health (hard to lose weight with stress hormones I can practically feel constantly flowing through my body!) Along with simplifying is going to come...

Decluttering. We're going to get this house finished (several random projects lingering from the move...4 years ago. Go ahead, laugh! It's all I can do at this point!) We're gonna get it organized and cleaned up and get rid of all the things that make me feel guilty just looking at them. Unfinished projects, things I bought and don't use, time and money wasters, junk I've kept for years and don't really know why I still have. For me Flylady is a huge help in this area. She's already helped me, in the last five years or so, to make big steps in this area, but there are certain things I keep falling off the wagon with. Mail still piles up, paper clutter is everywhere, sticky notes are everywhere (though this is getting better with Evernote, something you'll hear more about soon!), half-read books are everywhere, recipes and coupons are everywhere. I'm tired of the chaos!! And lastly, I'm going to work on the e-clutter, which (ironically) multiplies faster than the other types of clutter, and somehow makes me feel even more out of control of things. I actually shudder when I see "you have 5,403 emails in your inbox." And "you have 3,452 unread items in Google Reader." Emails I want to respond to get lost in the 10 or so "special offers," spam and other junk that flows freely through my inbox each day. Posts I want to read and respond to slide away each day. And like most people, I've got several inboxes, one of life's little ironies (exactly how many ways do we need for people to reach us?) So please share anything that works for you, and I will do the same.

And while I'm on this subject, technology (which is supposed to help us, right? ;-) is getting more overwhelming by the day. Does anyone else feel assaulted, from about 7 different directions, by electronic correspondence that it seems we're expected to keep up with minute-by-minute? It's great to have all these ways of keeping in touch, and don't get me wrong. I love hearing from friends and family any time. But lately it seems that it's just out of control. Between work email, work phone calls and voicemail, cell phone calls, text messages, picture mail, home phone calls, facebook postings, facebook messages, facebook chat, twitter, and regular old email (plus friendly-fire 'spam' from companies I really do want to hear from, just not six of them each day...) Then of course there are our blogs to post to, friends' blogs to read, contests and giveaways that are fun to join in, and oh yeah I should read a couple news headlines at least once a day...I have a hunch I'm not the only one feeling this way. Or if I am, please lie to me, okay? ;-) LOL!

If you're still reading, you probably know just where I'm coming from! Thanks for hanging in there. So...all of this is just to say, I refuse to give up or give in. With God's help and a LOT of support and love from my family and friends, I plan to get my act together and get a better attitude.

Just as soon as I have breakfast. It's the most important meal of the day, I hear!

So please speak up, let me know I'm not alone and you still love me, LOL! I need affirmation and I want to hear what works for you guys.

Love and hugs!

Dahrlin'

Monday, March 8, 2010

This week's menu...

I’m trying to get back into my menu planning groove! I’ve been doing my plans each week, but just haven’t had much blogging time. So here’s this week’s plan to get me started again. I will link any recipes that are on the web and if you see one you want that isn’t linked, just ask!

Monday: We’re starting off with leftovers this week, because we cooked two big meals over the weekend. So for tonight, it’s steak with mushrooms, parsley mashed potatoes, whiskey glazed carrots, and peas.

Tuesday: Salmon patties (yum!), noodles, green salad

Wednesday: Salisbury Steak with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes (question: how does 6 medium red potatoes make boatloads of mashed potatoes?), broccoli

Thursday: Lemon Chicken Scallopine, marinara, noodles, green salad or broccoli with lemon zest

Friday: Leftovers or my favorite fish with limas

Saturday: Dinner with friends

Sunday: Not sure yet. Something new and fun!

So what’s on your menu this week?

Love, Dahrlin’

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Little Athlete

Have I mentioned, this dog makes me laugh at least twice a day?



Munchkin really loved the recent snows. She had a blast chasing snowballs, and the snow was almost as tall as she is!

Happy Friday! For more Foto Fun visit Candid Carrie's!

Love, Dahrlin'

Sweet Potato Fries

(Reposting this - blogger's date function is way off lately when I try to schedule posts!)



I am always on the lookout for really simple, yummy recipes. So when my friend Cara mentioned "sweet potato fries" I instantly thought of two things. First, they sounded awesome (I love sweet potatoes!) and second, they sounded quick and easy for a weeknight side dish.

Cara kindly shared her recipe, and we tried it. It has taken me approximately 1,001 days (okay, maybe not quite) to get it posted, but I definitely want to share this with you guys! Fast, easy, and healthy - these are perfect for any night of the week!

Here are Cara's directions, and the fries came out perfectly!

Preheat oven to 450. Slice up the sweet potatoes in wedges or sticks. A little thicker is better, in my opinion, they get a little too brown on the ends if they're too thin or skinny. I put the potatoes in a ziploc bag and toss them with one tablespoon of olive oil per potato, making sure to coat each fry very well. Arrange the potatoes on a cookie sheet. Make sure they don't touch or overlap, as this will make them mushy. Sprinkle sea salt on the potatoes. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. Turn halfway through.

My only notes are to use a nonstick baking pan, and I flipped mine every ten minutes to prevent sticking. I also lowered the heat to about 425 because my oven is famous for scorching food at higher temps. The second time I made them I cut them a little thinner and they were done in about 20 minutes.

Enjoy! And thanks so much to Cara!

Love, Dahrlin'

Saturday, January 23, 2010

And the winner is...

Thanks to all who participated in this giveaway! I'm planning to host a couple more, so there will be new chances to win around here!



The winner of the copy of French Women For All Seasons, as selected by random.org, was:

Min: 1
Max: 25
Result:
13

Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Comment #13 was from Jane at Jumpin' in the Jungle!


Jane, I think I still have your addy but please email it to me just so I'm sure.

Thanks and happy weekend all!

Love, Dahrlin'

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Shortest Day of the Year!

A Winter's Sunrise...from my back deck.



Happy New Year, All! Be sure to visit Candid Carrie for Foto Finish Fiesta Friday!

Love, Dahrlin'

Monday, January 11, 2010

Who Else Didn't Know...

That you can polish copper with a lemon and some salt?





I was stunned - and glad to know I can do this without harsh and scary-looking chemical concoctions... I love my copper pot, but it was in serious need of a scrubbing. This took all of two minutes. YAY!

For more kitchen tips and a lot of great recipes, check out Tempt My Tummy Tuesday over at Blessed with Grace!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

...And One For You!

Happy New Year!

Writing yesterday's post got me thinking about how much I have truly enjoyed this little book:



You may be familiar with the first book written by this author, called French Women Don't Get Fat. I love that book as well, but really like this one even better. Seasons is a celebration of living seasonally and appreciating everything in its time, from food to styles to flowers and surroundings, such as interior living spaces and the changing landscape. Because I have enjoyed this book so much, I want you guys to have a chance to enjoy it too!

So, I am giving away one copy of this little treasure! I think you'll love it just as much as I have!

The giveaway will run through Friday, January 22. To enter, do any of the following, as often as you like (be sure to leave a separate comment at this post for each, if you would like multiple entries!):

(1) Leave me a comment telling me your favorite meal during the winter season!
(2) Leave a meaningful comment about anything else you want to share!
(3) Post about this giveaway and leave linkback in the comments.
(4) Tweet about this giveaway and post the tweet link here.
(5) Follow my blog and let me know you have done so.

I will select a winner at random from the final number of comments. Good luck!

Love, Dahrlin'

* This giveaway is not reimbursed or sponsored in any way.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Favorite Winter Pleasures!

I love winter. I truly do. When the landscape is frozen over and it seems the sun barely climbs halfway over the horizon each day, that hushed feeling makes me more introspective and quiet. It's my time to (spiritually and emotionally) be "still," and regroup from the frenzy of fall and holiday activity. Physically, because the chill actually energizes me and clears my head, it's my time to reorganize and declutter, being as productive as possible around the interior of my home and trying to get everything cleaned up from those seasons. And I love the season for the reminder that God has ordained a "time for everything." In the words of one of my favorite authors, Mireille Guiliano,

"Most of us really don’t have the choice to sit winter out. The fact is that not every bird gets to fly south. And I confess I wouldn’t want to. I love my morning walks in the winter, breathing the cool, crisp air, and I can’t imagine living in places without much seasonal variation. When the passing of the year doesn’t impress itself upon my senses, I am, in some profound sense, lost."

I've mentioned before that I'm a very seasonally-oriented person. I need the firm impression of the rhythm of each season as time passes. Especially when it comes to food! I love to cook and eat food that is in season, and I've come to realize that the winter versions of things that grown in the Northern Hemisphere, even if they are flown in daily from South America, just don't fit that rhythm (nor is the taste, or lack thereof, worth it to me). So I don't eat a lot of fresh tomatoes in winter, for example. But I do try to work brighter elements of flavor, like lemon, fresh parsley, fennel and citrus zest into a lot of my winter dishes.

That said, while I wholeheartedly embrace winter and all it brings, I do have my little moments of rebellion! Whenever I'm chilly I love things that remind me of warmer months, and I try to work these into my daily routine to keep my mood bright and provide variety. I love scented bath products in general, and as we all need a break from winter-dry skin, I thought I would share a few favorites with you.

By my sink I keep a bar of magnolia-scented soap that I found in a shop in Savannah this summer. It smells exactly like the real thing and has always been a favorite scent of mine. As a kid, I spent hours and probably nearly days playing in a huge magnolia in my Nana's yard.



My friend Ashley introduced me to this product years ago, and I'm almost never without it. I am a HUGE lover of rosemary, both in body products and for use in cooking. A little of this delicious stuff goes a long way and the scent is at once energizing and relaxing!



My dear friend Julie introduced me to this stuff recently, and it's like a quick mini-vacation to the South Seas. Here again, a little goes a long way. The scent reminds me of warm summer nights, and it's great for smoothing winter skin.



Oh - and this find has become my new favorite standby for bubble baths. After workouts especially, this is a great weeknight treat. No matter how frozen it is outside, soaking in a warm bath with coconut-scented bubbles takes me away!



So how about you guys? What's your favorite winter indulgence? Do you have a trick or a favorite product that chases away winter blahs?

Happy weekend! And stay warm!

Love, Dahrlin'

Thursday, January 7, 2010

You May Have Heard...

That I am a Georgia fan. And this is true. Every day of the year, and twice on Sundays!



However, my husband is Alabama born-and-bred. And tonight, that makes this household a very happy place. Because his Alabama Crimson Tide is in the National Championship, baby!

So I will say this - his team accomplished more than mine this year, not that I don't LOVE my team. Because I do. But tonight, I say this:

ROLL TIDE!!!


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Image Credit


Love, Dahrlin'
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