Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More pics!

These are great guys! Keep them coming!


So far we have pics from:

Sarah Mae

Entries Still Welcome!!!

Hey everybody, just wanted to give you a quick giveaway update!

We will be accepting entries until this coming Thursday, October 2, 2008, so there is still time to enter and get any extra credit in!!! I've added a couple of ways to earn entries, so be sure to double check! :)

So far, only one person has sent a pic - and she gets extra points for creativity:


Way to go Sarah Mae!

Have a great Tuesday everybody!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Autumn Recipes & Tablescapes

Heidi is hosting this fabulous Autumn event today, and I absolutely adore anything autumn-y, so, of course I had to participate!!! The recipe I'm sharing today is from my Aunt Geri, who is a phenomenal chef, and who always has the best presentation! Presentation is everything, you know, and she is tremendously hospitable so she has a lot of opportunity to cook for others, and always makes a huge breakfast for Austin and I to enjoy with her whenever we go to Colorado! :) (Love you Aunt Ger!)

Sweet Potato Casserole
3 cups of cooked, drained and then mashed sweet potatoes
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. softened butter or margarine
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. milk

Mix all of the above ingredients together. Put mixture in a greased 9x13 baking dish. In a separate bowl combine 1 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. softened butter
1 c. chopped pecans
Mix these ingredients together. Sprinkle on top of potato mixture. Bake 25 minutes or until set in a 350 degree oven.

PhotobucketI was so excited about this event because I had $100 in gift certificates (wedding gift) to a local home decor store that expired on Sunday 9/21, so it was the perfect reason to by some beautiful fall decorations, so most of the elements of this centerpiece are from that, the candle holders were a wedding gift, and the star I won in a blog giveaway from Linda! :) The stars (set of 3 - large, medium, & small) will eventually be hung on our dining room wall when everything is done, but for now the small one is a pretty touch for my autumn centerpiece!


Thanks for reading!

Daring Bakers September Challenge ~ Lavash & Creamy Pumpkin Dip

This month I participated in my very first **trumpet fanfare** Daring Baker's Challenge **trumpet fanfare**. I signed up in time to participate in August, but August was crazy busy, and I think I kind of chickened out, maybe that means I'm not all that daring. But I'm doing this because it is something that is out of my comfort zone (I am a definite novice in the kitchen, but I would love to be a fabulous chef, baker, cook, etc.).

This month's challenge, hosted by Shel (Musings from the Fishbowl) and Natalie (Gluten A Go Go), was to make Lavash and a vegan dip or spread to go with it.

I have been loving the onset of autumn, so I chose to make my Lavash with nutmeg and cinnamon as my spice topping and serve them with a creamy pumpkin dip (the original recipe on the pumpkin dip called for cream cheese, but since the challenge was to make it vegan, I substituted Tofutti's Better Than Cream Cheese).

My dough all rolled out and scored

Photobucket Fresh out of the oven.

Lavash Crackers from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice
Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

* 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe* 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
* 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
* 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
* 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
* 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
* Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bre … ong-Enough for a description of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.


2. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.


4. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.


The finished product.

The next time I make these I will most definitely roll the dough out thinner, but these were very tasty!

Pumpkin Dip

1 (8 ounce) package Tofutti's Better Than Cream Cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon frozen orange juice concentrate

In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Gradually mix in the pumpkin. Stir in the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and orange juice until smooth and well blended. Chill until serving.

Thanks for reading! To hear about more Daring Bakers' experiences, or to find out how to join, visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll.

Friday, September 26, 2008

~ my husband rocks! ~ GIVEAWAY!!!! *ETA*(thrice)

Welcome to another Friday everybody!!! Today I will be revealing all of our fabulous MHR/Austin & Katy's Anniversary Giveaway prizes!!!! I'm so excited!

Of course, I can't miss an opportunity to brag on my hubby, so the reveal is scheduled for the end of the post :)


As most of you know, we celebrated our one-year anniversary in Branson this past weekend. We had a ball, as you can see from my previous post.

It will never cease to amaze me how Austin can strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere. He is probably one of the most personable, friendly people I know. Everwhere from the buffet line, to waiting in theaters for shows to start, to parking lots, to leaning over to the table next to us in restaurants, he's getting life stories, and sharing ours. And not only does he get people talking, he makes everybody laugh! Most importantly, he is never shy about discussing his faith. His infectious joy and courage of conviction are two of the things that I love the most about Hoss. He's pretty awesome!

*ETA* I wrote this post before Hoss got up this morning, but he was so sweet after he got up that I had to add:

We got into a disagreement last night - a pretty loud disagreement, and it was all my fault. I honestly kind of expected him to be crabby at me when he got up this morning (not because he has a track record of that, but because I totally deserved it), but he was just as sweet as can be, hugged me good morning and kissed me and we chatted just like normal. I am so thankful that he doesn't hold those things against me and make me "suffer through" the consequences of my tantrums. :) He's wonderful!



And now, it's time for the reveal of the prizes for our very first ever ~My Husband Rocks!~ Fridays/Austin & Katy's Anniversary Giveaway!!!!!

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who participates in MHR Fridays! We started writing MHR posts on June 13th of this year, and as of last week we had a total of 91 women who participate on a regular basis! That just blows my mind!!! Praise the Lord that 91 of us are choosing to encourage and build up our husbands in public rather than complain about them and tear them down! I think that is wonderful! What a great reason to celebrate with a giveaway!

For the giveaway this go 'round, all of the following prizes will be awarded to 1 (one) winner!


My delightful bloggy friend Amy (her photography site, her blog) seen above with her three adorable sons, has generously offered to create an 8x10 photo collage using 3-6 photos of the winner's choosing.


The book Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. This is a fabulous marriage book that looks at the core needs of husbands and wives.


A "Bee Joyful" Teapot/Cup set (pic to come).

And (drumroll, please . . . ) From*me Tees has generously offered two (2) t-shirts in size to be specified by our winner!

The first shirt is the new long-sleeved 'My Husband Rocks' shirt in dark chocolate!!! I am totally getting one of these! The winner will have the option for either the fitted version:

or the classic version:

The second is the new men's short sleeve 'My Wife Rocks' tee in cream:

How can you win all these fabulous prizes? You ask, well I'll tell you:

1) Comment on this post with a valid e-mail address (i.e. katylinvw[at]yahoo[dot]com) - no e-mail, no entry - sorry, but i've got to be able to get a hold of you if you're the winner!

~ to do any of the following "bonus" entries, you must first complete #1 ~

2) Those who participate in MHR Friday this week will receive 5 (five) bonus entries.

3) Blog about the giveaway and receive 3 (three) additional chances.

4) E-mail 3 of your friends and Bcc: me and receive 3 (three) additional entries.

5) NEW IDEA FROM A COMMENT!!!: For an additional 15 (fifteen) entries, e-mail a pic of you and or your hubby in a From*me Tee's my husband rocks or my wife rocks t-shirt!

There you have it folks! Good luck to you all!


Entries will close at 12:00 midnight on Thursday 10/2/08, and I will be announcing the winner on Friday 10/3/08!


If you'd like to find out more about why I started MHR Fridays, either click here or follow the button in the left hand sidebar (if you would like to add the button to your sidebar, use this code ).

<a href="http://honestandlasting.blogspot.com/2008/06/my-husband-rocks-friday.html"><img src="http://i303.photobucket.com/albums/nn135/katylinvw/mosaicmhrf.jpg"/></a>

If you'd like to join in the fun, leave a comment on this post with the permalink to your ~my husband rocks! Friday~ post! Remember, this is not just for us girls, guys we'd love it if you would turn it into ~my wife rocks! Friday~ and link up! :)

If you're not a blogger, but still want the world to know about your amazing husband (or wife, or husband to be, or wife to be, etc.) leave a shout-out in the form of a comment! If you're unable to comment, e-mail me at katylinvw [at] yahoo [dot] com and I'll add your shout out to this post!

As always, on Fridays From*me Tees will refund your shipping on any order of two or more items if you mention the great adventure and ~my husband rocks! Fridays~ in the "how did you hear about us?" section of your order form, so run on over there and check them out, too! Thank you From*me Tees!

Thanks for reading everyone! Good look to all! :)

Pumpkin Potpourri Week!!!

I'm a little late getting to this, but I absolutely had to participate because I love fall, and I love pumpkins, and I have the most fabulous, easy recipe to go with today's pumpkin+chocolate phenomena!!! :)

Lisa over at Stop and Smell the Chocolates has been hosting Pumpkin Potpourri Week since Monday, and since I've been M.I.A. most of this week, I almost totally missed it! (Thanks for the heads up Sarah Mae!)

My favorite Pumpkin/Chocolate recipe has been in our family for as long as I can remember, and my mom and dad still make them every time we're in town (even in the middle of the spring and summer)!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (We always just call them pumpkin cookies.)

1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and egg. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. Dissolve the baking soda with the milk and stir in. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Add vanilla and chocolate chips. Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly brown and firm.

I don't have any pics mostly because they're usually not around long enough to take a picture before they are devoured.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to head on over to Lisa's to check out all of the other fantabulouse pumpkin & chocolate combos! I've got my eye on the tiramisu!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I'm ba - a - ack . . . .

NOTE: I am unable to upload photos while we are on the road, so this post will be edited to add pics as soon as we get home :)

Hello and happy Wednesday everybody! We're just heading home from our fabulous anniversary trip in Branson, Missouri!

As I write this I am currently driving down the highway connected to the Internet through Austin's amazing Motorola Q (I will never cease to be amazed by that, I'm very easy to amaze, lol!)

We had a great time in Branson. I had never been there before, and Austin hadn't been since he was about 12, so a ton had changed. Our stay was a wedding present from my grandparents (pictured below), which was a huge blessing!

Thanks Mommer & Papa!

We left right after work on Friday evening, and got to Branson around 11:30 PM. I was driving at the end of the trip, and right as we crested the final hill into Branson, we ran out of gas!!! (Thank the Lord for a Hybrid that can run on the electric engine!) We coasted into town powered solely by the electric engine (this is definitely NOT recommended by the maufacturer) and ran out of electricity right as we pulled into the gas station! Crazy!!!


We checked into our little condo, and went straight to bed! Saturday we spent most of the day just laying around, watching TV, reading - I finished two whole books this week - and it was wonderful. Austin napped (which is very unusual for him, but it was so good, because he was exhausted)!!! And we went swimming, twice :)


(Austin is the tiny dot under the palm trees :) )

Saturday evening we enjoyed a delicious dinner buffeet at Sadie's Sideboard & Smokehouse - absolutely wonderful, especially the dessert: raspberry cobbler (Austin had apple).

Sunday we slept in then went to lunch at Taco Bell, walked around a little mall, then historic downtown Branson where we saw a discount ticket place. We went in, and signed up to take a tour of a timeshare place and got the rest of our tickets for the rest of the week for super cheap.



Waiting for Legends to start.

Sunday night, we went to Legends and saw Garth Brooks, Liza Minelli, The Blues Brothers, Tina Turner, and Elvis in concert! Very fun! We even got our picture taken with "Garth."


Monday was our anniversary, and we got up and went to our timeshare presentation. We ended up spending most of the day there talking to the sales person, but did not end up buying into the program. They sucked us into scheduling an "evaluation" for the following morning by offering us more free tickets, lol!


We enjoyed a delightful anniversary supper at Mel's Hard Luck Cafe (where the waiters and waitresses sing to you!) Our waitress, Julie, dedicated a song to us for our anniversary:



After supper we shopped a little bit, then headed to the New Shanghai Circus for the Acrobats of China show! Amazing!!!




Tuesday morning we had our "evaluation" where they try to sell you a "membership" rather than an "ownership" - we were pretty close on this one because we do like to travel a lot, but my wise husband decided that he would feel better about it if we were able to do some more research and make an informed decision. (Have I mentioned that he rocks? :) )

From there we went to lunch at Fall Creek, home of the tossed rolls - they actually throw your bread at you, lol!


Our free tickets for the day took us to the Titanic exhibit and the Hollywood Wax Museum.

Titanic was very interesting and informational with a lot of interactive activities. They had a huge portion of the exhibit dedicated to movie memoribilia including several of Kate Winslet's gorgeous costumes.



Hollywood Wax Museum:
Gone With the Wind (one of my favorite movies of all time)


Austin on the Johnny Carson Show


John Wayne (that one's for you Aunt Ger!)


Two hotties, one a more alive than the other :)

Indiana Jones exhibit


After that we had a little bit more time to kill, so we went for a free tour and wine tasting at the Stone Hill winery! Very fun!!!


We went straight from our tour to the Sight & Sound Theatre for their production of

We ate supper from concessions while we waited for seating to start.

The musical was AMAZING!!!! The stage and set were spectacular,




and while they did take some artistic license with the story line, they had a great message of God's faithfulness and salvation! Not a bad way to end our vacation.

All in all we had a fabulous time, and we enjoyed celebrating our first anniversary and looking forward to many, many more. Branson is a very popular destination with the retired generation, so everywhere we went we met couples who had been married for 30, 40, 50 years and more. Such a great encouragement for us, and a beautiful testimony to the committment of marriage in a world where that is not always commonplace.

Thank you all so much for your sweet anniversary wishes and prayers for our safe travel! And thanks for reading!

To see a list of ALL of our travel stories, in chronological order, click here!