Monday, November 24, 2014


I'm glad in all our travels for work we were able to swing a trip to my sister's as part of it. They have such adorable animals as part of their farm complete with goats:

So when the goats get fed, the cow comes to eat and RUNS to mealtime.  It's so funny.

Isn't their pasture of cute animals so pretty?  Plus in the far top right is the mountain line you can see as well.

Chickens various fowl in front of the outbuilding:

Gobble gobble:

Okay I didn't just stare at the animals all day.  We went to one of the fall festivals and there was a horse-drawn wagon ride!

We went on it and there was story time by the local librarian while we were on there:

Here is the only picture I'm in while we were there:

Our trip to the Millers got cut a little short because Warren got sick and Andy wasn't feeling great.  We wondered if it was related and didn't want to trade germs...but it turns out it wasn't related because Warren had appendix problems!  His was punctured/ruptured and ended up in the emergency room and then the hospital for days, and will go in for surgery next month to get all the pieces removed.  That was a crazy time for them all, but I'm glad that he is pretty back to normal now - maybe just a wee bit less energy than he used to have (which makes sense because he was sick a long time plus lost some weight).  So even though I had my appendix out previously, I'm pretty sure I didn't pass that along to Warren!  :)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

amish friendship bread

I had never done anything related to Amish friendship bread...but it's the bread that requires work for 10 days, and then it makes more starters to give to others.  When we visited my sister she gave me a starter.  We diligently followed the instructions including 'mash the bag' lots of days.  That was Andy's job:

Then mixing up the actual batter finally on day 10 (although we cheated and did day 11 since it uses vanilla pudding mix and I didn't have any). 

But the bread came out find waiting an additional day.

So there is a ton of cinnamon and sugar in this recipe, which is AWESOME.  That's what makes it so good!  I would definitely categorize this as a dessert bread.

It was easy to make, even if doing things for 10 days sounds like a lot it's about 30 seconds out of your life for 8 of those 10 days.  And it is so tasty it is definitely worth it.  It makes two loaves, and I froze one until Andy's parents visited and then thawed it.  It tasted just as good as the first batch!

So if anyone in Cookeville wants a starter, I have three of them in my freezer up for grabs - then I can give you the recipe with it!  I am also posting it below more for my own records (I do use the blog as my own picture and recipe archive storage place) because although it is in my recipe box, I do not want to lose it!  Sorry to those who don't have a starter and think it looks tasty :)

Amish Friendship Bread
The mixture will bubble and ferment...that is normal.  If air gets in the bag, let it out.  Do not use any type of metal spoon or bowl for mixing.

Day 1: do nothing (this is the day you receive the batter - date the bag to keep track)
Day 2: mush the bag
Day 3: mush the bag
Day 4: mush the bag
Day 5: mush the bag
Day 6: add to the bag: 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk.  Mush the bag
Day 7: mush the bag
Day 8: mush the bag
Day 9: mush the bag
Day 10: make bread as described below

  1. pour entire contents of bag into a non-metal bowl
  2. add 1.5 cups flour, 1.5 cups sugar, 1.5 cups milk
  3. measure out 4 separate batters of 1 cup each and pour into 4 separate gallon ziploc bags.  Give away or freeze
  4. Preheat the oven to 325 and add the following to the bowl: 3 eggs, 1/2 c milk, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1.5 tsp baking powder, 1/2 ts salt, 1 large box vanilla instant pudding mix, 1/2 c oil or applesauce, 1 c sugar, 1/2 ts vanilla, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 2 c flour
  5. grease loaf pans
  6. mix 1/2 c brown sugar and 1.5 tsp cinnamon, then dust the greased pans with half of this mixture
  7. divide batter evenly between loaf pans and sprinkle remaining brown sugar mixture over batter
  8. bake for 1 hour
  9. cool until bread loosens from pan and remove
The finished bread loaf also freezes well in foil then in a ziploc - let thaw on the counter and then serve!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

north carolina

As part of my work traveling to present at conferences, I ended up at Winston-Salem at Wake Forest for a day conference.  What's hilarious about that is....that's the city that my college roommate lives in!  Hilariously enough we have both moved a number of times since we graduated, and she just recently moved to Winston-Salem!  So as luck would have it we were able to get together the night Andy and I drove into town the night before the conference.  We took a picture after dinner:

I scrounged my old pictures to find a picture of us from college...but I couldn't find one that went back that far without digging into some storage boxes, and that is scary for now.

The next day I went to the conference and their library was very pretty.  Here is the outside:

And here is the inside in their big reading room, which has so much pretty brick.  It was awesome!

Then I did take a picture of nice furniture for the design - putting up these dividers are pretty smart on tables because we get students who love to sit at tables instead of carrels, but so many of them don't want to sit with someone they don't know at a table and 'share space' so to speak.  This would sort of address this problem:

It was a good trip although super fast, to Winston-Salem.  After the conference we left to visit my sister so you know those pictures are coming soon :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

apple pie baked oatmeal

I love my baked oatmeal recipe, especially when I make it with pumpkin, but I am always a sucker for apple desserts...and a baked oatmeal recipe I found online sounded like apple dessert!  So naturally I had to give it a try!!

So here is the final baked version:

All in all, it was just fine but I don't think I'm keeping it.  It took more time (yes, slicing apples was time-consuming for me) than my pumpkin baked oatmeal I make....and when I have a recipe I like, a new one has to really wow me to take its place. 

That being said, any of you who like apple stuff and are looking for baked oatmeal, certainly give this online recipe a try!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

i met dave ramsey!!

Yeah I don't meet famous people often - or like ever (my first accidental sighting was Alex Trebek in a mall in Pittsburgh I think it was?  Wearing a Jeopardy blue shiny very stealthy).  But I went to a Dave Ramsey function for work since we licensed his college material to teach financial literacy through the library.  There was a day of a lot of sales pitching, some stories of what other universities are doing, and some free food.

Dave Ramsey started the event with some talking, and I sat in the front row like a total geek so I could be close to him!  And I was this close - no zoom!

Okay now a little zoomed:

After the official symposium part, we got to go to his studio where he was doing his radio show:

I even took a little video as well!

There is a wall there people can write on once they are debt free:

There was a couple there on vacation and got to ask a question live in front of the gift shop, so I was there for that too.  They asked about purchasing the family business from the guy's father - very interesting!

And between breaks Dave (yep, we're on a first-name basis) comes out and signs autographs and gets photos with people.  Yeah I was totally in line for that!

I just adore Dave Ramsey.  Not technically as a person...I don't really know him to say that.  Although I think his personality comes out in his videos and books, and I respect him for the path his life has taken from riches to rags to riches.  No, I adore him because he has helped Andy and I change our lives (he makes it a point to correct people when they tell him HE has done so much for them...he always says he just offered them tools but they did it themselves).  We live an amazing lifestyle of fun and stress-free when it comes to money because we have a plan!  For those of you who have never read my posts about Dave Ramsey, you can click here and start with the first one.

Some people are very secretive about money, but I will say that working at state universities all my life where our salaries are posted by our name both online and in a book in the's hard to feel private about it!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

apple chips

Although I have eaten apple chips out of a bag (i.e. store bought), I have never made them.  Then Pinterest tempted me with a recipe I found online and thought it was so easy I could certainly do that!

And I I sliced the apples and sprinkled some with cinnamon and some without to test the different ones, plus I made three apples worth and there were two different varieties in there:

I used foil instead of a silpat or parchment paper because this is what I had, and I didn't use cinnamon sugar like the recipe did because I was looking for a healthy alternative.  So then this was the after:

They were awesome!  Now, the ones that I had cut thin and even and well, were super fabulous.  The ones I cut like I was a drunk sailor on the high seas during a storm were chewy on one end and crisp on the other.  I wanted crispy.  Sooooooo, on my black Friday shopping list and/or Christmas wishlist?  A mandoline!

But this recipe is definitely a keeper and I will be making this often.  Know how I know?  I ate all three apples-worth of chips in one sitting.  That's right!

p.s. I used a plastic candy thermometer holder to cut the circles in the middle :)  Hey, you use what you got!

Monday, November 10, 2014

augusta georgia

I had to go to a conference for work in Augusta, Georgia.  Andy came along because not only was I going to be there for my birthday, but neither of us had been there so we thought: why not?  The drive there down Route 111 we finally stopped at the overlook that we have passed multiple times:

Very pretty.  The hotel/conference center were I was staying was right on the riverwalk and in the downtown area, so we thought there would be lots of cool things for Andy to see while I was in the conference and fun places to eat.  Um, not so much.  So we were in the downtown area, which is not very nice or appealing, and the riverwalk was very short (less than a mile?):

Unfortunately this picture was about the best view from the riverwalk, and sort of the highlight of the sights.  We did go to a burger place, Farmhaus, that was very yummy albeit expensive.  But that's honestly what I can say about the town.  Now the downside is Andy can't drive the rental car, so he was stuck to walking distance, but it was just not impressive where we were.

The conference and my two presentations went very well, so that's good, but we would not visit Augusta again unless someone gave us free tickets to the golf tournament there :)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

english muffin bread loaf

I hardly ever make homemade bread...and when I do it's always in my bread machine.  I have NEVER had luck with getting bread to rise.  I know that we don't keep the house super warm, but bread should at least rise!

However, I saw a recipe online for English muffin bread and thought I would give it a whirl, especially since I was going to get some bread-rising help.  So I made the dough and put them in my two existing loaf pans (both I believe hand-me-downs from my mom).  They weren't the same size or the recommended size, but I figured if I just divided it in half, it would be fine!

Luckily, I caught a potential mistake before I got them into pans....I had grabbed the bottom cup of my measuring cups to do my five cups of flour, and didn't realize until I thought I ready to put it in the pans that it was the 3/4 cup, not the 1 cup.  OOPS.  So I had to add five of the 1/4 cups to the mixture!

But I was thinking it should all be okay (but was wondering why the electric mixture part was slopping the liquidy mixture over the sides....duh).  But then I let the bread rise...would it work...would it?

There it is, in all it's risen beauty.  It rose perfectly because I now have a new oven that lets me use this awesome setting:

That's right, you put your bread in, push the "proof" button, and it makes the best environment for your bread.  So I had two gorgeous English muffin loaves:

And we of course tried it warm out of the oven:

Verdict?  Delicious and a DEFINITE keeper!  It was great with jelly and butter on it, and warm out of the oven but also toasted in the toaster.  I froze the second loaf since I had Amish friendship bread that needed made soon (recipe will be on here).  I have not had the frozen bread but breads freeze pretty well plus the recipe specified I could!

So make this recipe, and provided you can read measuring cup numbers and you have luck or a proof button to rise your bread, it's easy!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

andy's first 5k

On a Saturday in October, Andy and I ran a 5k.  It is the same race that I ran last year, which was a lot of fun.  Unfortunately this year none of our friends could join us, but we did it ourselves.  Andy was a little nervous, but nothing major because he had run that far before.  I was using it as a training run without any time goals since I was running 4 miles the next day.

Here we are pre-race (camera set on the car with the timer...this is what happens when friends don't come!)

I have no 'while running' races because last year Andy was the photographer...and there was no snapping pictures while running.  But here we are after:

Our sequential bibs:

And this shows Andy's red face from all his hard work!  :)

He hit his two goals: run the whole thing and beat 36 minutes.  We stayed together most of the time (well together as in I could see him a little ahead of me) but then on an uphill I pulled away and finally got rid of the stitch in my side that had been there since the very start.  At the end I had a lot left to sprint because I was running slow in the beginning since I was in pain.  I passed quite a few people at the end, but I am not so proud I can't admit that some of them were eight year-olds :)

I am so proud of Andy, and he did awesome.  FYI he does not have any designs to run a half marathon in February. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

fried cheesy rice balls (arancini)

I'd never heard the word arancini before, but I saw a recipe online for fried rice balls with cheese in them.  Um, yes please! 

So I got to making them one day when I was already deep frying fish to make it easy.  The putting them together was a MESS because it was really hard to get them to hold their shape:

Then they get dipped in breadcrumbs:

Then fried until golden brown:

They look so good, and complemented our 'all fried fest' dinner well:

(FYI that is bluegill that my dad catches, freezes, and gives to us - yay!)  So the verdict of this recipe is that it's just okay, nothing to get excited about, and not worth the trouble or mess in our house.  In the interest of full disclosure, I did not use fresh mozzarella but cut pieces of string cheese - ha!  I also didn't use sushi rice, which I'm sure would have made making the balls way easier!  I thought they were decent, but again we didn't love them, and Andy only ate one (wanted to save room for more fish).