Monday, May 31, 2010

the best caramel popcorn...ever!!

This recipe was given to me by a friend (thanks, Julie!) and has become a HUGE hit around my house. It is the best caramel popcorn I've ever had and everyone usually agrees!


1 cup (2 sticks) butter (use the real stuff!!)
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light or dark corn syrup
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
6 quarts popped popcorn (usually about 3 bags)

1. Pop popcorn and spread in two 9x13 baking pans.

2. Melt butter in sauce pan. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then boil without stirring for 5 minutes. **

3. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla. Gradually pour over the popcorn and mix well.

4. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Break pieces apart.

5. Enjoy the deliciousness of the popcorn!!

(As you can see from this picture, the popcorn was eaten before I could even take a picture!)

**Make sure you bring this mixture to a boil slowly and allow it to boil on medium heat. If you bring it to a boil too quickly with the heat too high, you can easily burn it! I just may have done this before which may have resulted in a very burnt end product which may have ended up in the trash can. Maybe. Hmmm....

summertime photo shoot

For Memorial Day weekend, our family headed south! With Georgia on our mind, the four of us packed our suitcases and loaded the car down for a long weekend of relaxation. Since we've been here, we've been poolside as much as the weather has allowed. I had my bathing beauties join me in a photo shoot to model their new swimsuits. Here are a few shots...

Monday, May 24, 2010

we went pickin'

Guess what we decided to do on this very hot Spring day? The girls and I headed to a local orchard and got on our hands and knees and picked strawberries! This is a fun tradition that we started several years ago when we were living in Tennessee. I always look forward to May when we work and sweat for a basket full of these red beauties! There's just something so rewarding about digging through the bushes and finding that perfect berry and snapping it off the vine. You can't beat a fresh picked strawberry! The girls enjoy picking strawberries, and even out in the patch, their personalities show strong.

Addie was on her hands and knees seeking out the perfect berry and working hard and staying focused.

On the other hand, after a few minutes of picking berries, Ellee was off running up and down the rows pretending to be Strawberry Shortcake! In her words, she was "so happy to be home in the patch!"

Because it was so hot outside today, I promised the girls an apple slush (that we spotted in the orchard store and looked DELICIOUS!!) as soon as we were done gathering our berry treasures!

What a fun day we had!

Stay tuned to see what we make with these yummy berries...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

kindergarten graduation

I really cannot believe my firstborn just finished kindergarten! If I had a dollar for each person who told me when Addie was born that "time flies" I would be a wealthy lady. I trusted those words came with wisdom and experience, but I had no idea the depth of truth in that old adage until my own babies began to grow. It really does seem like it was yesterday that we were bringing our sweet baby girl home from the hospital and now we just celebrated her completion of kindergarten. Will I be saying the same thing when she graduates from high school??

Unfortunately, the pictures from Addie's graduation did not turn out very well. Apparently I still don't know how to use my fancy camera and had it on the wrong setting. None the less, I'll still share some pictures from the day.

My sweet girl before everyone arrived for the pre-graduation party! Isn't she beautiful...

Opening gifts...

Addie played the role of the librarian in the graduation program...

Walking in and receiving her diploma...

With Ellee...

With her friend, Mia...

With Daddy...

With her Grandparents...

The family...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

why did apple butter make me cry?

I stumbled upon a recipe for apple butter today on someone's blog and once I finished reading it, I ran out and bought the ingredients and settled into my kitchen. Actually, no! I sat looking at the pictures of the yummy "butter" and cried.


Maybe it's because I've been isolated from the world for the past two days - in the bed with a sinus infection. Or maybe it's hormones - don't we ladies blame everything on that?!? The truth is that for some reason, this recipe made me feel very lonely. The person writing the recipe just made it sound like more fun if you were making it with someone!

How desperately I wished my Mom was just down the road so we could experiment with this recipe together. So many times I have longed to live closer to my parents so we could share daily life together! I would love to call them up and invite them over for dinner. Or drop the girls off to run to the grocery store. Or call Dad up and "us" start a new project together. I miss them all the time, but today more than most.

Then I started missing my Beth and my Jen. I have two of the most amazing best friends in the world! The kind of friends that will drive over 10 hours to show up -as a surprise - for your 30th birthday. The kind of best friends you see in movies and wonder if that kind of friendship is possible! The kind of friends that will make you laugh until you cry and then make you cry because they have helped you see the ugly sin in your life. I would love to make apple butter with them, too.

And even though it was a difficult season of our life, I miss living with my in-laws. I miss the comfort of their home and their company! I miss eating dinner with them and sharing life with them. I am blessed to have in-laws that I love and appreciate dearly! And I know my mother-in-law would make super apple butter!

I suppose today was a day that the "newness" of our life here glared me in the face. I felt like an outsider today and wished for something familiar and comforting. I know these days will pass and soon this will feel like home. But for now, I will dream of sitting in Mom's kitchen, slicing up pounds of apples while the kids play outside with Grandpa in his workshop.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

a new name

There have been a few times in life that I have received a new name and have been forever changed because of it.

One of the most obvious times is when I married my amazing hubby. On a hot summer afternoon in August of 2001, I took his last name as my own and we began this amazing journey together!

Another time that I received a new name is the most significant name change that anyone can experience. This is when I received the new name of "righteous." God's Word teaches that He (God) made Jesus, who knew no sin, to become sin so that we may become the righteousness of God. Although I was once an orphan, God adopted me into His family through repentance of sin and faith in Christ and now I've been given a new name - a child of God!

The most recent new name I've been given, and the one that's celebrated today on Mother's Day, is the sweet name "Mommy." I'm am thankful the Lord has allowed me to experience Mommy-hood with my two beautiful girls. My girls bring me more joy, excitement, love, tears and frustration than I thought people under three feet tall could bring! The depth of love I have for those girls is indescribable with our limited words. Because we are celebrating mothers today, I not only wanted to share some of my favorite pictures of those that make me "Mommy" but I also wanted to share some of the one I call Mom and best friend!