expr:class='"loading" + data:blog.mobileClass'>

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Carrot Cake Recipe

My wonderful hubby turned 38 last week!  I wanted to make him something special to celebrate, so I asked him what sounded good.  His response?  Carrot cake of course!

I really didn't want to do the box cake mix route, so I found a great recipe starting from scratch.  This took a bit longer but is well worth the extra effort.

This recipe is adapted from Homemade By Holman.

2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups canola or vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour, plus 1 T
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pecans
1 pound shredded carrots
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with baking spray.  

Combine sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and mix on medium speed for about two minutes until light yellow in color.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt and whisk together.  Add to mixing bowl and mix on low speed until just incorporated.  Batter will be pretty thick at this point.  Toss raisins and pecans with remaining one tablespoon of flour.  Fold raisins, pecans, carrots and pineapple into batter until well distributed.   Divide batter evenly among pans and bake about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pans about ten minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  


1 package cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat), at room temperature
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 T milk
1 pound powdered sugar

Combine cream cheese and butter in mixing bowl and beat on medium-high speed about three minutes until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and first three tablespoons of milk and mix on low to incorporate.  Slowly add powdered sugar, mixing on low until incorporated.  Increase speed and whip about two minutes, adding additional milk if necessary to reach desired consistency.  When cakes are completely cool, spread frosting on top of the first layer making sure it is spread evenly, and top with second layer.  Add a generous amount of frosting to the top of the cake and smooth working out with a spatula to the edges and down the sides of the cake. 

Here is the finished cake... complete with birthday candles!
I made this last minute and walked it out with lit candles exactly at midnight... so I was the first one to wish him a Happy Birthday!  He loved it.  I have to say, this is the yummiest cake I have made to date.  

What is your favorite cake to bake?  

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Invisible Mother

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.  Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'
Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I’m invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?? 
Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, ‘What time is it?’ I’m a satellite guide to answer, ‘What number is the Disney Channel?’ I’m a car to order, ‘Right around 5:30, please.’
Some days I’m a crystal ball; ‘Where’s my other sock? Where’s my phone?, What’s for dinner?’
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history, music and literature -but now, they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going, she’s going, and she’s gone!
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . She had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when she turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, ‘I brought you this.’ It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: ‘With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.’
In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: 1) No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record of their names. 2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. 3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. 4) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything. 

A story of legend in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, ‘Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, No one will ever see it And the workman replied, ‘Because God sees.’ 
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was Almost as if I heard God whispering to me, ‘I see you. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.
No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, no Cub Scout meeting, no last minute errand is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.
I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree. 
When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, ‘My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.’ That would mean I’d built a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, he’d say, ‘You’re gonna love it there…’ 
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.


Freebie Thursday with the family.

As most of you know, I am a self-proclaimed freebie and sample junkie.  Last night was a girl's night with my mom and baby girl... and of course it included picking up some freebies along the way.

Enjoying our evening out.
Our first stop was Dollar Tree for a great coupon matchup on a kid's toothbrush.  I used the $1 off ANY FireFly toothbrush to score an adorable Hello Kitty one to put up as a stocking stuffer.  (Yes, I'm always on the hunt for little extras for the holidays.)  The store I went to only had Hello Kitty, but I'm told some stores have Angry Birds or Avengers too.  Just make sure that the one you choose says FireFly on the back.

Our next stop was the mall.  I was looking for an Estee Lauder counter and decided on Macy's.  Here I scored a free deluxe travel-size sample of their New Advanced Night Repair (no purchase necessary).  I'm so excited to try this product.  It retails starting at $62.  Hurry over if you want to get this one because the promotion only runs through tomorrow, July 27 at 6pm.  Macy's is also having a promotion where you can score a free 10-day supply of foundation from any of their cosmetic counters.  I chose Estee Lauder foundation, which I found out is actually MAC's sister company.  We didn't need coupons for either of these promotions.  Yay!

After some more shopping, we finished off the evening with dinner at IHOP.  It was a fun night with some great family bonding.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Today you are you...

I love this quote... it makes me think Dr. Seuss really knew what he was talking about.  It reminds me that I am who I am, exactly as God made me and that is a good thing.  Between society and the committees in our heads, most of us have tried at some point in life to be somebody else.  We try to be thinner, prettier, smarter, cooler... the list goes on.  While we are so focused on striving for our perceived perfection, we miss out on sharing our true inherent beauty with the world.  We were created beautiful - each in our own way, but none less captivating than the next.  I think if this was something we were taught and shown through life, we would all be more okay with just being our amazing selves.  What a peaceful world that would make... 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bug bite misery... What do we do to stop the itch?

 It is summertime and the bugs are out in full force - apparently dining on sweet unsuspecting toddlers.  My two year old went blueberry picking on Sunday and came home with hundreds of red swollen bites on her legs.   My poor baby was crying from the itching... so what does mommy do to fix it?  

I tried an anti-itch insect bite spray... didn't work.  I tried lavender oil... didn't work, though the smell was so strong I think we relaxed the entire neighborhood.  I tried rubbing her legs down with stick deodorant... this worked better than the rest but still didn't give her complete relief.  Now we are trying Calamine lotion... the outcome is to be determined still.  

How do you take the itch out of bug bites for your little ones?

Get a free book each month for your child...

I have a true love of reading that my daughter seems to have inherited.  Her library of children's books rivals my library of books (and for those of you that know me, that really is an accomplishment).  We love to curl up together and read stories... snuggles and adventures are all rolled into one.  

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library offers a wonderful program for kids ages birth to five years.  By registering (it cost's nothing) your child will receive a new book in the mail each month.  We all know how exciting it was to get mail as a kid, so imagine how excited they will be to get a new adventure to read about.  They are absolutely adorable stories that you and your kids will enjoy reading together.

Click here to sign up.  Available to Tennessee residents only - no income requirements.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Zoo Pals

I have been so excited to discover the great kid-friendly programs our library offers.  As a matter of fact, Gia and I go to story time at least once a week now.  The combination of reading, singing, playing, and interaction with other little ones her age make it a winning mix.

Last week the library had a special program put on by the Nashville Zoo!  As much as we love animals... it's no surprise that we were there.  The kids got to meet four different animals:  Jerry the parrot, Toots the singing dog from New Guinea, Bonnie the boa from Africa, and Fricault the giant bunny.  The zookeeper who brought the animals taught the kids a little about each one.

Gia got to get up close and personal with two of the animals!  She petted Bonnie the snake (I was super shocked she did it) and Fricault the bunny.  

Thanks to the Nashville Zoo for bringing the fun to our library!