Friday, February 27, 2009

Jungle Animals

We are so excited for Marci and Mike's new little pumpkin to get here in May! They're adding a little BOY to the mix. His name will be Preston (Preston Michael Freeman) ... love that name. Marci majored in International Development and studied abroad in Uganda. Ever since ... I think she's wanted to bring the jungles of Africa to their home and what a perfect theme for a baby boy's room!
She has these adorable wooden chairs that she brought back from her trip. One is a gorilla and one is an elephant if I remember correctly. Scott and Hope used to love to sit in them to look at books. Hope was Ella's age at the time. I just hate how fast time flies!

Anyway I've been keeping my eyes open for all things with jungle animals. Target just had the cutest things in their Dollar Spot that Marci spotted. Fun little dresser knobs, hooks, etc.

.... and look at this cute template from whom else but Martha!


Click HERE for examples and how-tos.

Preston's room will be so cute with all the help from Meema (amazing artist), Aunt LeeLee (moving to Dallas in May... YIPEE) and Grammie (creative designer)

............getting ready for babies ............. is so fun..............!

Deep Dark Mocha Torte

Looking for the ultimate chocolate cake?
Well here you go....
Indulge in a multilayered chocolate cake with homemade ganache
and it is soooo easy to make!
Spoil your family and friends this weekend.
They'll love you for it♥.Courtesy of Betty Crocker

1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® chocolate fudge cake mix
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup rum or water
1 1/4 teaspoons instant espresso coffee granules
2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 to 3 teaspoons milk
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons butter (do not use margarine)
1/3 cup whipping cream

1. Heat oven to 350°F (325ºF for dark or nonstick pans). Grease bottoms only of two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans with shortening (do not use cooking spray); lightly flour. Make and cool cakes as directed on box for 8- or 9-inch round pans.

2. Meanwhile, in 1-quart saucepan, stir granulated sugar, rum and coffee granules until coffee is dissolved. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally; remove from heat. Cool completely.

3. In medium bowl, beat all filling ingredients on low speed just until blended, adding enough milk for spreading consistency; set aside.

4. In 1-quart saucepan, heat all ganache ingredients over low heat, stirring frequently, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Refrigerate about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.

5. Cut each cake layer horizontally to make 2 layers. (To cut, mark side of cake with toothpicks and cut with long, thin knife.) Brush about 1 tablespoon of the rum mixture over cut side of each layer; let stand 1 minute to soak into cake. Fill each layer with about 2/3 cup filling. Spread ganache over side and top of torte. Store loosely covered in refrigerator.
High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): Follow High Altitude cake mix directions on box for 8- or 9-inch pans.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thank You Thursday

Meet Rachel Esplin
I just did and I love this girl!
Of course, I already knew that great things come from Blackfoot Idaho.
That's where Mr. Mark was born and raised.

On September 23, 2008, five Harvard undergraduates were interviewed by journalist for the Washington Post, Sally Quinn, about their religious convictions. Students represented Islam, Mormonism, Judaism, Presbyterianism and Buddhism.
The Harvard Chaplains hosted this Interfaith Event where Rachel Esplin, a 20-year old Harvard junior, spoke on a panel of faith about her Mormon beliefs, upbringing, and faith in Jesus Christ and the restoration of the gospel.

The panel discussion was titled “Engaging Religious Difference: Personal Quests for Purpose” and was part of day long series of events on “Faith Live on the Harvard Campus:
Personal Quest, Public Conversation, and Global Citizenship.”
Rachel Esplin, an undergraduate studying East Asian Studies, was asked to explain her background growing up in a small town in Idaho, and how coming to Harvard has impacted her religious views and convictions.
I'm sure you'll agree, she did an amazing job sharing her beliefs to others in universal terms with beautiful conviction.
Some of the questions posed to Rachel were:
  • What does religious diversity mean?
  • What does it mean to be in a secular environment?
  • What does it mean to come face to face with what I don’t know and what I have to learn?
She did a beautiful job answering those questions and eloquently expressed that coming to Harvard has actually strengthen her faith by working through those issues. As she has had the opportunity to learn about other faiths, her own faith has been strengthened.

Day of Faith: Personal Quests for a Purpose

Rachel Esplin from Harvard Hillel on Vimeo.
Rachel is President of the Harvad Latter Day-Saint Student Association

I love that we can share religious beliefs and learn from each other. Here in Houston we have an Inter-Faith Group called The Amazing Faiths Project.

The Amazing Faiths Project is a movement that brings together people to learn about the beliefs and faith traditions of others through exploration and dialogue; to foster an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding; and to stand as a witness for tolerance and justice.

Our Church is hosting the next gathering May 7th.

"The things we hope in sustain us during our daily walk. They uphold us through trials, temptations, and sorrow. Everyone has experienced discouragement and difficulty. Indeed, there are times when the darkness may seem unbearable. It is in these times that the divine principles of the restored gospel we hope in can uphold us and carry us until, once again, we walk in the light."

--Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "The Infinite Power of Hope", Ensign, Nov 2008, 21–24

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Heather Bailey Pop Garden Skirts

Picture courtesy of Heather Bailey
I fell in love with these fabrics designed by Heather Bailey.
It was hard narrowing it down but I decided on 3 fabrics from her "Pop Garden"
line to make Ella and Addie some skirts for Spring and Summer.
Paisley Lime

Wallpaper Roses-Lime

Tiled Primrose-Pink

I decided on the Edith Skirt pattern 
designed by Jona Giammalva, an amazing and talented lady.
 I love her blog.

More pictures from Heather Bailey:

Talk about eye candy!

I discovered Heather Bailey in the Mary Englebreit Home Companion Magazine last spring and have been addicted ever since.

  Remember I used her 

for the Halloween Applique t-shirts.

Today I pre-washed the fabric. Now I just need the time to get started. It will be such a treat to work with these pretty fabrics!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Homemade Oreos

"Oreo" Cookies

Photograph by James Baigrie

For the Dough:
1 1/3 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Filling:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Prepare the dough: Sift together the cocoa powder, flour and salt in a large bowl.

Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, incorporating each ingredient before adding the next. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Divide the dough into 2 pieces; place one piece between 2 lightly floured sheets of parchment paper and roll into a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle. Repeat with the other piece of dough. Refrigerate both rectangles, covered with the parchment sheets, until firm, at least 1 hour or up to several days.

Using a 2-inch round cutter, cut the dough into 64 circles. (You can reroll the scraps once.) Place the cookies about 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets and chill for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Bake the cookies until they are set and slightly darker around the edges, about 20 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Using a mixer, cream the butter and shortening until fluffy. Beat in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla.

Flip half of the cookies upside down and top each with 1 level tablespoon of filling. Press the remaining cookies on top to make sandwiches.

Recipe courtesy Trois Pommes Patisserie, Brooklyn for Food Network Magazine

Check it out

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sunday Dinner to Marvelous Monday

Yesterday Mike, Marci, Ella & Addie joined us for Sunday dinner. This is always a first choice when I ask for suggestions. I love it because it is soooo easy. They love it because it's pretty much ready when we walk in the door after church...
Menu: Roast Beef, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Green Beans, Tossed Green Salad and Rolls.

I've been making roast this way forever and I'm sure most of you do as well. I don't even have an actual recipe.

This is pretty much it:
Crock Pot Roast
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Lipton Onion Soup

I usually use 3 cans of soup when I'm planning to feed a crowd. I mix the Cream of Mushroom soup and the Lipton Onion Soup Mix in the crock pot first and then add the roast. Just start it as early as possible and let it cook on low to medium (depending on your crockpot) all day.

Ella and Nana always sit at the end of the table together.

Miss Addie was very focused using her little fork.

Afterwards we went to a Stake Music Fireside where Hope's little Vocal Group sang
"I Stand All Amazed" in harmony. I was amazed!
It was a great weekend! I even got to talk to both Mack and Kayley for awhile.
Head on Over to Pineapple Hill's Marvelous Monday and check out the new giveaway!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Plan Your Garden Now

I'm still trying to learn "the how to's"of Houston Gardening.
I've always loved home grown tomatoes.
This year I'm going to try to grow tomatoes and a variety of peppers. Wish me luck!
Here's a little help I found from HGTV.
Gardening Resources:
Photos Courtesy of Apartment Therapy/Martha Stewart Living
More Resources:

Gardener's Supply Company

Friday, February 20, 2009

Twilight Exclusive

Thanks to Marci...I am one of the many, many addicts (probably one of the oldest too!). As soon as I started reading Twilight, I knew I was a total goner! Marci even has a Twilight Blog!
When Kayley & Scott were home for Christmas, Kayley began reading the series (while she didn't have classes) and the poor thing hardly slept!
She finished the first one in a flash so we (the girls) could go to see the movie together while she
was on her Christmas break from BYU. It was so fun!
Holly is just starting to read she's hooked already.
Well I just wanted to share the news!
Preorder this item today and it should arrive on or just after 03/21/2009.
Available at

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thank You Thursday

By the Roadside

I hope this touching little movie moves you the way it did me. I am so thankful for sweet blessings from little acts of kindness and the hope inspired from them.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Need a Little Giggle

I've been a bit pre-occupied. One of my kiddles is having some medical problems (that I've been told I am not allowed to post about.... for now anyway). Nothing life threatening, but definitely life altering. Anyway, I was in the mood for something light hearted and fun today. My friend, Anne, sent this to me and said I could share it with ya'll. If only....


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Valentine Coupons

Better Homes and Gardens has these sweet printable Valentine's Day Coupons!

What You'll Need

  • 8-1/2-x-11-inch white or light-colored paper

  • Color printer

  • Scissors, paper cutter, or crafts knife and straight-edge

  • Hole punch

  • Ribbon

How to Make It:

  1. Download and print desired pattern(s).

  2. Cut out coupons and trim white edges.

  3. Punch a hole through desired coupons.

  4. Thread ribbon through the hole and tie.

  5. Customize by starting with the blank valentine coupons listed below and writing in your personal message.

Itty Bitty Valentines

,I totally fell for these cute & tiny little Valentine Boxes.
I found them at Inchmark.
Aren't they adorable!
If you want to make some head on over to her BLOG.
There you'll find detailed instructions.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sweet Dreams

I've been shopping around a little looking for cute Jungle Fabric for Preston's crib so I went to one of my favorite's, Michael Miller. While checking out the BLOG, look what I found!

You can get more detailed insturctions at Creature Comforts, HERE. Check Out Today's Healthy Tip


This touching video was sent to me and I wanted to share it with all you girlfriends!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Love is in the air

a "Little" Love is in the air
I just realized I don't really have very many Valentine decorations.
I did put a few hearts around here and there.

the cherub door bucket on the front door
I love the Valentine Picks

Love in the KitchenWire Tree

here it is at Halloween
& at Christmas
(oops didn't have the picture- sugared fruit ornaments)
our newlywedslittle valentine gifts the extra tulle from Addie's skirt
heart in the hallwayedible hugs and kisses
i heart pillows