Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday; A Comparison


First pumpkin patch visit. October 24, 2009


First pumpkin patch visit. September 25, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Brody's First Pumpkin Patch

On Sunday we drove up to a local pumpkin patch - the same one we'd taken Brayden to for the last two years (see here and here).

First we went on Brody's very first hayride. He throughly enjoyed trying to eat the hay:

Then we went into a corn maze for the first time with both kids. Brody enjoyed being carried around and Brayden enjoyed trying to take the corn off of the plants.
See? He wouldn't even look at the camera.
And then it was finally time to go get some pumpkins!

I would say Brody enjoyed the trip!

These pumpkins might rot before Halloween but I don't really care. It was so much fun and the boys really enjoyed it and that's all that matters! I know we'll visit several more patches this season!

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Day at the Farm

We went out to my families property this weekend to hang out and relax. We have a huge John Deere tractor and Brayden loves all things John Deere, so Chris took him for a ride. It's big enough for all three of us in the cab, so I went along to take a few pics.

Brayden was in hog heaven. Pun intended. (He's wearing a Razorback shirt).

He's getting ready to honk horn - which he did no less than 87 times.
Big stuff.
Brody was napping so he missed out on all the fun. But I sort of think it would have freaked Brody out a bit! The tractor is just too noisy for him. Ha! Here he is after he woke up:

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Happy 10 Months Brody!

Yesterday, Brody turned 10 months old!

- You weigh about 21lbs, wear a size 5 diaper, size 18mo - 2T clothing and size 4 shoes.

- You are almost walking. You cruise around SO fast!

- You say Mama, Dada, Baba and occasionally Hi.

- You wave and shake your head No-No.

- Your favorite toys are a stuffed bunny that you sleep with and "Tippy" - a stuffed dog you take in the car with you.

- You love to eat - ANYTHING!

- You now drink soy milk instead of formula. Our pediatrician says you get "more than adequate nutrition" which is a nice way to say you're a big boy!!

- You are a total Mama's boy.

- You love getting your nightly hug and kiss from Brayden before bed.

- You sleep from 8 or 8:30pm - 9- 9:30am, and take one nap for 2-4 hours each day, just like Brayden.

- You love Bubble Guppies and Max & Ruby.

- You are very analytical. You study everything and are very, very serious.

- You've started throwing a fit in the church nursery now. Separation anxiety, big time!

You are the sweetest little man and you bring SO much joy to our lives!!! Happy 10 months sweet boy!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Give a boy a box...

Who needs toys?!

Don't forget - you have until Oct 28 to submit your 12 Days of Goodies recipe! Click here to read more!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Banana Bread - 2 Ways

Everyone except Brody has been sick in our house for the last week and a half - hence all I'm posting is recipes! But they are good ones! We've had to miss birthday parties and church and other fun things, but we all needed to get better!

If you haven't noticed, I love to bake. I really, really love to bake. It's my happy place.

So I baked a double batch of banana bread - and then split it in half, and put walnuts in one half for Chris and chocolate chips in the other half for me.

Also, if you haven't noticed, I might be a little bit of a chocoholic.

A double batch of our family recipe makes all this - 3 loaves of bread and 12 muffins. I used a silicone muffin pan that I got at Walmart a year or two ago - the muffins are leaves and pumpkins.
The following is for a single batch - to make what I made, you will need to double it.

Banana Bread - 2 Ways

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 c margarine - room temp
2 eggs, beaten well at room temp
4 T buttermilk OR 1/2 cup if you are doubling the recipe
3 smashed bananas
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts OR 1 cup chocolate chips (or both if doubling)

Cream the margarine and the sugar. Add eggs, buttermilk and bananas.

Sift flour and soda together. Fold into the wet mixture.

Add nuts/chocolate.

Pour into well greased bread pans. Bake at 350 for 1 hour, or until almost done.

For muffins, bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The best Roast & Carrots ever! Thanks Mom!

Don't forget - you have until Oct 28 to submit your 12 Days of Goodies recipe! Click here to read more!

This is how my mom cooks a roast - and it's the very best I've ever had. Ever. It's that good.

And it is SO ridiculously easy.

Take your roast and coat it on all sides with salt, pepper and garlic powder (not garlic salt).

Sear it in a pan on both sides until you get some browning action.

Cover it with 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce and enough water to cover it. Keep adding water as needed while you cook. This will vary based on how long you cook your roast.

Cook it - on low/med low for at least 4 or 5 hours. You can cook this roast ALL day. You can cook it in a crockpot, on the stove or in the oven. It always comes out great!

I cooked mine for about 6 or 7 hours - and this is how it comes out of the pot. Completely falling apart. You can use the pan juices to make a yummy gravy too. Just remove the liquid, make a rue out of butter and flour, add the juices back in and whisk in milk. Easy!

When you're about an hour away from eating it, throw in some carrots. Usually I put potatoes in too but I didn't buy any this time (and note - those would need longer to cook).

They absorb the cooking juice - SOOO GOOD!

There you have it - the best roast ever!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

choosing joy.

I just read a blog of a girl who had a horrible disease and is about to go be with our Creator.

I went back through some of her old posts and read about how many medications she had to take, treatments she had to do, changes to her home that had to me made so that she could just live.

She couldn't even go outside, because she would get so ill. Her friends couldn't come around her if they had the slightest cold, because it could be detrimental to her health.

But that wasn't what she really wrote about.

She wrote about the flowers that she could see blooming out her front window. The nice man that brought her medications to her door for her and tried for years to make friends with her dog. The birds that played and ate from the bird feeders she put outside. The friends and family who visited, called and skyped her.

She wrote about Choosing Joy during the hardest, darkest, most difficult season of her life.

I read all of this early this morning. And I'll be really, super honest, and this might even make people angry, but because I read this, and it impacted me so deeply, I had to stay off the computer afterwards. I sent one birthday message and closed the lid.

Because I knew that if I logged into twitter or facebook or even looked at certain blogs, what I would see there would just upset me. People getting mad at other people because they stole their idea, left a nasty blog comment, copied something they wrote. There would be passive aggressive comments about one another and competitions over who the best mom/blogger/friend is. We've all seen it out there.

And let me be the first to say that I've typed some of those things before. I've tweeted that I was angry because someone cut me off at the Chickfila drive through, or copied a family recipe that I posted here and called it their own. I've been completely guilty of letting stupid, petty things like that bother me many times.

And then I read what I read this morning and I thought to myself how dumb I've been to let that stuff bother me. Why should I let those things weigh me down? Every day we are faced with the choice to let those petty life issues hinder our walk or stepping over them and staying on the right path.

Because the truth is there was a woman, who I never met or knew or heard of until today that had been sitting at home by herself, dealing with more pain that I could imagine, fighting for her life and choosing to live joyfully in spite of it.

To be honest, I don't know where that leaves me. I just know that I have a new perspective today and I wanted to share that with you, because maybe you were in a rut too.

And I want to choose joy today. Everyday.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A first for my blog...

This is a first for my blog - I've never done a re-post of a previous blogpost I've written. However, after the experiences I had to endure this morning on my way to the pharmacy, I feel that it is necessary.

Back in June of 09' I posted this blog called "Driving 101." I'm adding a few things to it at the bottom - oh, and the whole text thing is a little different now I guess. So here we go. Driving 101.

I think some of my fellow drivers need a refresher course. Here are a few tips (you know, just in case they are reading) for them.

- A turning lane is just that. A turning lane. Not a cruise for the next three miles lane. Certainly not a passing lane. Just a turning lane.

- If a speed limit sign says "50 mph" then at least do 45. And if you still can't swing it, then please, please, please get in the slow lane.

- Unless there is a stoplight at the end of the freeway entrance or traffic is stopped, don't stop. You have that whole time to be checking for on-coming traffic. MERGE!!!

- If you are an experienced driver/texter, then by all means. However, if you can't do both at the same time, DON'T!

- There are two lanes because it's okay for people to be in either can't be in BOTH at one time unless you are changing lanes (that to the person I followed for well over a mile driving in the dead center of the road!).

And a few new additions, courtesy of today's little escapade:

If you get lost, then PULL OVER. Don't stop in the middle of the road to fool around with your GPS.

If you merge onto the freeway doing 45mph don't shoot over into the fast lane and make me slam on my brakes. Stay in the empty slow lane (where, I might add, the minimum speed is still 55).

And lastly, as my little backseat driver Brayden likes to say, GREEN means GO!


No, I don't have road rage, I just can't stand it when people act foolish while driving. There are too many accidents and innocent people killed because drivers aren't paying attention and following basic traffic laws!

Do you have any driving tips to share?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sometimes Gmail hates me...

I switched a couple of years ago from my old blog email address at Yahoo to my new blog email address at Gmail. My old one kept getting hacked and sending out bogus emails to people, which is why I switched.

So, the point of this post - if you send me an email and don't hear back then, I didn't get it! Gmail likes to hoard my emails in some unknown place where I can't find them sometimes. I think they think it's funny to mess with me like that. It's not.

I've gotten several DM's on twitter saying that you've emailed me a recipe, but it's not showing in my inbox.

If you've submitted a recipe to the 12 Days of Goodies and not gotten back some kind of email from me saying that I received it, then I haven't gotten your email! Please resend it!

And just for reference, my email address is EMAILJENNASJOURNEY at GMAIL dot COM

Also, be sure to enter the $100 gift card giveaway by clicking here!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fall Wreath Project

Don't forget! I'm taking submissions for my 12 Days of Goodies blog feature still! To send me a submission, read the directions by clicking here!

I decided that since I enjoyed making my summer wreath so much (and that wasn't the first one I'd made, just the first one I really, really, liked) that I would tacked a fall wreath.

Here's what I came up with:

The initial was actually neon blue and covered in sparkles, so Chris sanded it for me and I repainted it. I was going to try to do a plaid on it but I'm just not that artistic, so polka dots it was!

I used wire mesh for the ribbon and the flowers were 1/2 off at Hobby Lobby. All in all, this cost me less than $20. I think that's pretty good! It's really large - I have a huge front door, it's not the normal size - and the pre-made wreath I liked at Hobby Lobby was $200!

Have you made a fall wreath?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Trial Run: The PW's Mashed Potatoes

It looks like I will be hosting Thanksgiving this year for about 13 people. Yaaaay. No seriously, it's cool, I enjoy this kind of thing. The only slight issue is that we are having Brody's birthday party the Saturday before Thanksgiving - so you can probably understand that I'm a teeny, tiny bit stressed out - since I'm making everything for his party. We are trying to make our own printables (my amazing husband is spending hours doing this for me) and I think I'm going to make all the food and everything. Then, I'll have to have everything put away and my house as spotless as it gets before Thursday.

I'm a very lucky girl - Chris will help me with everything I need help with - watching the kids, cleaning and even cooking, so it shouldn't be a huge issue as long as he takes a couple of days off. Have I mentioned how much I love him?!

OK, so anyway, I saw the Pioneer Woman make her mashed potatoes on her new Food Network show and I wanted to do a trial run of them prior to Thanksgiving. I never make anything for the first time and just serve it up - it makes me too nervous, ha!

I also rarely - and by rarely I mean probably twice in the almost 6 years we've been married - make mashed potatoes. We like them, but they just seem so bad for you, so I never make them. I'm sure you're laughing at that having read some of my previous recipes.

So here we go...

The Pioneer Woman’s Mashed Potatoes

Source: The Pioneer Woman


2 sticks butter, softened, plus more for pan

5 pounds russet or Yukon gold potatoes

One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 to 1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 4-quart baking dish.

Peel and cut the potatoes into chunks. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender, 20 to 25 minutes

Drain the potatoes in a large colander. Place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape before adding in all the other ingredients

Turn off the heat and add 1 1/2 sticks butter, the cream cheese, heavy cream, seasoned salt, kosher salt and pepper. Mash to combine

Spread the potatoes in the prepared baking dish. Throw pats of the remaining butter over the top of the potatoes and bake until the butter is melted and the potatoes are warmed through, 20 to 30 minutes.

Verdict? Their really good. I think I expected something so spectacularly awesome that I would be dreaming about them or something, and they weren't that but they were very good. I'll be adding them to the Thanksgiving Menu, along with this recipe!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Easiest Crockpot Roast Ever

I've seen this floating around Pinterest and I have no idea where it originated or who to give credit to, so I guess I'll list Pinterest as the source! Ha! I didn't pin it myself - I just made a mental note of the ingredients! I've seen it on probably 15 blogs as well, and none of them credited each other so I really don't know whose idea it was, but it wasn't mine!

So, enough of my "this isn't mine but I don't know whose it is" disclaimer.

So, here's what I did, and not actually having followed anyone's directions, I don't know if this is "correct" but it turned out for me.

Easiest Crockpot Roast Ever
source: A whole lotta people, everywhere - this particular version comes from me - I think.

2lb chuck roast
1 cup water
1 package buttermilk Ranch dressing mix
1 package Italian dressing mix
1 package brown gravy mix
Salt and Pepper
Carrots - optional

First, start with a 2lb chuck roast.

Cover it with salt and pepper and place it in the crockpot.

In a bowl, whisk water with the 3 packaged mixes. Pour over roast. Cook for 6-8 hours on Medium. Throw in the carrots for the last hour.

So my verdict on this - it's very good but a little salty for me. Also, it doesn't fall apart like my mom's roast recipe does - I"ll make that next time and post it. It's AWESOME.

So - totally worth it for a quick and easy dinner, but not my very favorite recipe. I will make it again though.

Friday, September 9, 2011

My Boys

I hope you all will submit a recipe to my 12 Days of Goodies! Read more by clicking here!

My littlest man is nearly walking. And he is happy about it!
Brayden wants him to walk so badly - he tries to help him learn:
He says, "Now don't fall down Brody!"
It is just too sweet for words, which is why I used so few. =)

And this wouldn't be complete without a picture of a boy and his dog:
I think he would stand at the window and talk to Buster all day if I let him. So sweet. I love my boys!!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Funny GNO

I'm waaaaay behind on some of the things I wanted to blog because I kept wanting to share recipes!

So a couple of weeks ago some friends and I headed out to a Girls Night Out at our church featuring Anita Renfroe and Mandisa!

Here's me, Beth and Brittany:

And Debbie (Sara's MIL), Sara and Becky:

We went to Abuelo's first so we got there right when it started, hence our FABULOUS seats in the upper deck! Ha!

I didn't get a good picture of Mandisa and this is the only one that turned out of Anita!
See her? Ha! For those who aren't familiar, Anita is a HILARIOUS Christian comedian. Here is the video she's probably best known for:

And here is my personal favorite, entitled "Sweet Tea" - I bet you can't figure out why I love it! Ha!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Brothers Wedding - Semi Wordless Wednesday


Last week, my brother got married in a surprise ceremony at a local lake.

Brayden throwing rice:
Chris, Jeff, Stephanie and I:
My parents, Brayden, Jeff & Stephanie:
Congratulations Jeff & Stephanie!

Spicy Turkey Meatballs

I mentioned that I was making this recipe the other day on Twitter and so many of you asked for the recipe that I decided to post it!

These are SO good. Really, really, really good. Yes, there are a lot of ingredients but this is so worth is and it makes about 40 two inch meatballs - so we eat half (and it lasts two days) and freeze the other half of the batch. It takes a few hours but that is four days worth of dinners.

*Note: My store didn't have sweet Italian sausage so I used mild! It was just as great as it is with the sweet!

Spicy Turkey Meatballs

source: Ina Garten, How Easy Is That?

3 cups (1-inch diced) bread cubes from a round rustic bread, crusts removed

2/3 cup whole milk

2 lbs ground turkey (88% – 92% lean)

1/2 lb sweet Italian pork sausage, casing removed

4 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, finely chopped

1 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese

1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tbsp good olive oil plus, extra for brushing meatballs

2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten

3 (24-oz) jars good marinara sauce, such as Rao’s

2 lbs dried spaghetti, such as De Cecco

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.

Place the bread in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until the bread is in medium crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a small bowl and add the milk. Set aside for 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the turkey, sausage, prosciutto, bread mixture, Asiago, parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Lightly combine the ingredients with your hands. Add the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the eggs, and stir lightly with a fork to combine.

With your hands, lightly roll the mixture into 2-inch-round meatballs and place them on the prepared sheet pans. Brush the meatballs with olive oil. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the tops are browned and the centers are completely cooked.

Pour the marinara into a large, low pot, add the meatballs, and bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the directions on the package. Drain and place the spaghetti in individual bowls, and top with 3 meatballs and lots of sauce. Serve with Parmesan cheese on the side.

Fresh out of the oven:
Soaking in the marinara hot tub:
The frozen batch:
Finish product! Served on whole wheat pasta with broiled garlic bread!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake & A Cautionary Tale

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

Adapted from Bon App├ętit

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 1/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon fresh nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

1 - 15oz can of pumpkin puree

3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs

2 cups of chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 10 inch bundt pan, then dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, fresh nutmeg, and salt in a bowl.

Separately, whisk together pumpkin, buttermilk, and vanilla in a bowl.

Cream butter and sugar in a mixer. Mix in eggs, one at a time. On low, add flour and pumpkin mixtures in batches. Mix just until combined, do not over mix. By hand, fold in the chocolate chunks.

Spoon cake batter into pan, smoothing top. Pound the pan on the counter to settle the batter. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean in the center of cake, about 1 hour. Cool the cake in the pan, on a rack, for 15 minutes. Invert rack over cake and re invert cake onto rack. Cool completely before serving. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

Now for the Cautionary Tale.

Did you notice, and I'll guess you didn't, that the bundt cake in the pan (a picture I tweeted) and the bundt cake on the plate aren't the same? The design is different. Why is that, you ask?

The short answer is that there are many different sizes of bundt pans. I happen to own two - and 8 inch and a 9 3/4 inch. It is advisable, when making a bundt cake recipe that calls for a 10" pan to use the larger of the two that I own, no? I was literally in the kitchen ALL DAY yesterday, and I didn't think about it, and grabbed the 8". When my cake had cooled and I inverted it onto my plate half of it was still uncooked and the whole mess fell apart. So I was up til 10pm making another one. In the bigger plan.

So, don't repeat my mistake and make sure you are using the right sized pan OR making sure to adjust your cooking time according to the size that you are using!

Be sure to enter the $100 Cooking.Com gift card giveaway by clicking here!

12 Days of Goodies - Featuring YOU

I’m really excited to announce that I will be featuring some guest posts in November! I’m going to be doing a 12 Days of Goodies series, where I will feature one (or more…) recipes per day. I thought this would be a great way for all of us to share favorite family holiday desserts as we get closer to Christmas!

If I get a ton of replies then I probably won’t be able to feature everyone – but in that case, I’ll do a Linky at the end of the series so that everyone can showcase their favorite Goody!

If you would like to submit a recipe, here’s how:

Email me at EmailJennasJourney AT gmail DOT com

Subject line: 12 Days of Goodies

Include your story/recipe and ONE picture of the final product (no watermarking, please), along with your name and blog information.

If featured, you'll need to be willing to post about being featured (and link to the 12 Days of Goodies) and possibly post a sidebar badge.

All entries are due by Friday, October 28th.

I'm putting this out here waaaay in advance because I really want to have pictures to go along with the recipes, so I wanted you all to have plenty of time to make them!

The posts will be up during the first half of November - I always getting frustrated when I get the Food Networks 12 days of cookies right at Christmas! I don't have time to print the recipes, shop for them and make them, so my thought was to get this out in time for you to organize what you'd like to make in plenty of time for Christmas or even Thanksgiving!

I'll be replying back to your emails with some more information, so be sure to watch for that.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

My Pinteresting Style

If you are stopping by from the Accent Vlog Hop, you've come to the right place! Just scroll down to check out the linky!! Welcome!

You all know how much I adore Pinterest. One of my favorite boards is the "My Style" board. I love pinning ideas for outfits and such there.

One thing I love for fall is a good scarf...or two...or ten. I found this neat pin awhile back - it shows you different ways to wear your scarves:

From: TipJunkie
I pinned this because it's the hair I wish I had but never will. My hair is super, super fine and even though I've got a lot of it, it will probably never look like this. But a girl can dream!

From: It's the Small Things

This supercute outfit came from Polyvore. If you've never checked that site out, you should! I love everything except maybe the coat. I'm on the fence about it.

I saw these Toms and new I had to have them. So I ordered them. LOVE THEM. I think Toms are the most comfortable shoes on the planet.
Another outfit from Polyvore. Huh. I think it's the same belt and possibly the same jeans. Oh, and a similar shoe.

Well, what can I say? I like what I like apparently. But this just screams "I'm going on a hayride!" or something, so I love it. Fall = My favorite time of the year.

You can click here to follow my boards on Pinterest. Need to read a how to? Here's my brief how to use Pinterest post.

Happy pinning!
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