Sunday, August 29, 2010

Goal Setting and Running

So I'm totally out of shape and I have made a decision to try and change that...I have decided to train for a 5k. I enjoy being outside, I live somewhere that it is sunny about 360 out of 365 days of the year, I feel amazing when I workout on a consistent basis and I signed up for the weight loss challenge at work so I figured why not try something new? Why not get in shape and accomplish something that I have always wanted too?

My goal is to sign up for a race that will take place sometime in December, so that gives me three months to train and I am really motived to do this! I am a little scared, but I know that with determination and consistency this goal is possible...Tomorrow training starts and I AM READY!

Wish me luck...

Friday, August 27, 2010

I Won!

Remember when I told you about the cookie give-away on my friend Melissa's mom's new blog, Fresh Cut Flours?

Well....



Yep...someone that doesn't usually win actually managed to win something! As the winner of her drawing I was able to choose either a new apron or a dozen yummy cookies and while my thighs are going to be yelling at me, I picked the cookies since I had actually just bought a new apron from her last week! I think that my hubby and son are going to be pretty happy campers when the cookies arrive!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cookies, taste testing and a sprayer

Last weekend Caleb was "helping" me bake some chocolate chip cookies. By "help" what I really mean is that he kept sneaking chocolate chips, volunteered to lick the spoon and had to taste test the cookies when they came out of the oven...so really, the term help is used loosely in this story.

And this kid takes his "taste testing" job very seriously...

Very, very seriously...
I mean look at how intently he is concentrating on how it tastes...

But after his 2nd...or maybe 4th cookie....he looked like this and was desperately in need of a good hand and face washing

The kiddo then decided that using the faucet wasn't good enough for him...

He discovered the sprayer and thought that it would be a good time saver on the face washing part of business...

He thought that he was pretty clever...

But I think the look above says it all...AHHHH! Someone didn't realize how MUCH water comes out of the sprayer when it goes off!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Banana Bread and a Special Cookbook


This past weekend I was going through my cookbooks looking for some inspiration for some future meal planning and as I was flipping through my most special cookbook I found a handwritten recipe for banana bread. The cookbook that I am talking about is my grandma’s 1960’s era red and white Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. It is my favorite item that I have ever gotten from her and just looking at it brings back amazing memories of her.

Just before I moved to Arizona back in 2003 she called me and asked me to come over because she had something special for me…never would I have thought that she would be giving me her favorite and most used cookbook, but that is exactly what she did. While it might not be anything to look at, this book is an amazing treasure for me and each time I go through it I am reminded of her and all of the time that I spent learning to bake in her kitchen, getting my own special mini pies, licking the beaters from her mixer, helping her to measure and getting to taste all of the wonderful goodies that she baked up. I lost her on my birthday last year and it was one of the hardest things that I have ever been through…she was an amazing woman and she helped to shape what I am today!

On Sunday I decided to make the recipe for banana bread that I found in her cookbook and I had my own special little one to help me out just like I used to help my grandma in her kitchen. This recipe is the most moist and delicious banana bread that I have ever had and I am so glad that I was able to find it, handwritten on a note card, for me to make for my own family! I hope that you enjoy it!


Mabel’s Best Banana Bread

  • 2 whole Ripe Bananas
  • 1-¾ cup White Sugar
  • ½ cups Butter (1 Stick), Melted
  • 3 whole Eggs
  • 1-½ cup Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 dash Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons Sour Cream, Heaping
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  •  ½ cups Walnuts, Chopped (optional)

Directions


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Grease & lightly flour 2 loaf pans.
3. Cream bananas, sugar & melted butter together.
4. Add eggs, one at a time.
5. Add dry ingredients slowly & mix.
6. Add sour cream, vanilla and nuts.
7. Pour mixture evenly between 2 loaf pans.
8. Bake at 325 for 55 minutes.

Enjoy!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Poor Neglected Blog & A Link to a Giveaway!

Sorry I have neglected my poor blog this week, but I have just been busy enjoying and living my life! Nothing super big going on, just loving in my little boy, reading books, catching up on my DVR (ps. I think the DVR is one of the best inventions in history!), spending time with my hubby and and just trying to get through this last little bit of summer. I think everyone in Arizona gets this way at the end of summer...a little lazy and sluggish and daydreaming about being able to get outside again without melting.

Photo from Fresh Cut Flours
New Blog and a Giveaway!
My good friend Melissa's mom just started a new blog. It's called Fresh Cut Flours and it is for her amazing sugar cookies. (Isn't that just a great name for a cookie blog?) Make sure to visit it and enter her drawing for 1 dozen of her absolutely beautifully decorated cookies! I promise you that if you win, you won't be disappointed...her cookies are not only a work of art to look at, but taste amazing! (I know personally how good they are...I think I have eaten a few too many myself, and my hubby is absolutely addicted to them!)

New Recipe Coming Soon!
Lastly, this afternoon I have been baking some banana bread (with some extra special help from my little one) and I hope to have a recipe for it up soon. It's a new recipe for me and I am crossing my fingers that it tastes as good as it smells!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Work Weight Loss Challenge

So, my office's corporate headquarters is holding a weight loss challenge that lasts for 15 weeks starting on September 1st. A couple of girls from my office and I have decided to form a team and look at the super cute team name & logo that we came up with:


I especially love the tag line!

And as even more of a reason for me to keep losing weight, the team prize is $300 for each member of the winning weight loss team and $500 additional to the person who loses the most in the company. Talk about great incentives!

I have taken 35 pounds off since the middle of January and I plan to lose lots more and win the big bucks! Wish me luck!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

If I could only have one flavor of cake, it would be banana cake. It is my all time favorite cake flavor, with the best I have ever had coming from Larsen's Bakery in Vancouver, Washington...it is seriously amazing, banana-y sinful goodness, with layers of cake, custard & fresh banana filling and cream cheese frosting. My mouth actually begins to salivate at the thought of that cake. 

Even since moving down to Arizona I have wanted to try and recreate that cake and over the years I have yet to find the perfect base for it...until a couple of weeks ago! I found a recipe on one of my favorite baking blogs for some banana bars and I thought...heck I have some bananas turning black and yucky on my counter, why not try something new? Instead of just following the recipe I tweaked it just a little to add some extra moisture to the recipe, once again trying to come close to the cake from Larsen's...and I think that I have finally done it! I just made this into a simple 9x13 pan shaped cake with cream cheese frosting, but I think that I will make this into a layer cake next time and try to recreate my favorite cake!

I hope that you enjoy this cake...it is really delicious!


Banana Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from mybakingaddiction


Ingredients
for the cake…
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 mashed ripe bananas

for the frosting…
  • 1 (8) ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter; softened
  • 1 lbs. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions for Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla.
3. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed banana. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
4. Bake for 25-30 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting with the cream cheese frosting.

To make frosting:
In the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix cream cheese and butter until smooth. Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth and creamy. Stir in vanilla extract. Spread on cooled cake.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Happy Wednesday!

Today is a much better day at work, I got a good nights sleep, my hubby should be home for dinner and according to the scale I have lost 5 pounds so far on this round of HCG! So, I would say that today is a huge improvement over the last couple of days...Have a happy Wednesday!

ps. check out my post from Sunday on the Oatmeal Chocolate Toffee Bars...they are yummy!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hectic Week

So far this week has been tough...and it's only Tuesday! Work has been hectic (to put it mildly), my hubby has been sick or working closing shifts at work and my kiddo has been a big huge ball of energy and sassiness. Weeks like this completely drain me...and on top of it all I am back to dieting and trying to lose weight. Talk about a bad time to work on getting healthy, 'cause I'm the poster child for stress eating!

I just need to work on getting my head on straight and making sure to prioritize and organize so that I can get back on track. (All the while thinking happy thoughts so that I don't go crazy trying to keep up with it all!)

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Oatmeal Chocolate Toffee Bars


So, as if you couldn’t already tell I LOVE to bake. I really, really love it. It is my way to relax and work through stuff in my head. When I’ve had a bad day or if I am going through a really rough time I head into the kitchen. I go through my stack of recipes that I have collected through the years, or I head to the Internet to check out my favorite recipe websites and blogs. Sometimes even just looking through the recipes is enough to make the day better. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s just how I work through stuff.

I also love to experiment in the kitchen and a couple of weeks ago I was in one of my experimenting phases and I knew that I needed to get into the kitchen. Over and over lately I had been thinking about making oatmeal cookies…but I decided to take the classic oatmeal cookie and make it into something more. Here is what I came up with!

Oatmeal Chocolate Toffee Bars

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup Butter, Softened
  • 1 cup Light Brown Sugar, Packed
  •  2 whole Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1-½ cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 1-⅓ cup Heath Toffee Bits, Divided
  • 3 cups Quick-cooking Or Regular Rolled Oats 
  • 1 12 oz. package of Milk Chocolate chips
Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

2. Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.

3. Stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Gradually add to the butter mixture, beating until blended. Set aside 1/4 cup toffee bits. Stir remaining toffee bits, chocolate chips and oats into the batter (batter will be stiff). Spread batter into prepared pan; sprinkle reserved 1/4 cup toffee bits over the surface.

4. Bake 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes about 36 bars.


These bars are really so delicious...my hubby loved them and I even caught a few of my co-workers taking second helpings! I really think that it is cinnamon in them that takes them over the top. I hope that you take the time to make this...you won't be disappointed. Enjoy!






Friday, August 6, 2010

A new {creative} endeavor

So I finally took the plunge and decided to put myself and my work out for the world to see…I started a second blog that is for showcasing me: Jen Schell Designs.

It is a blog dedicated to my love of graphic design, photography, décor, crafting and pretty much anything creative. I have wanted to do this for quite sometime, but I have been so nervous about it. It’s one thing to do my graphic design work on a small scale, doing little ads and production work, or to take photos that I show to a handful of people…but it is entirely something different to put my creative ideas and my personal work out in the world where people can comment on them and critique me. It also feels so different to begin to promote and market myself. But, I am ready to finally begin trying to get some freelance work and I feel that this blog is a good way to start working towards that.

While I might act full of confidence and bravado, deep down I just want everyone to like me and what I do. I know that not all of what I do is to everyone’s taste and there will be people that do not like what I put out there. But I have decided to just do it and take the good with the bad, and I will grow creatively from the feedback that I will get.

Along with putting my own work on the blog, I also will be posting things that I feel are inspiring to me. Anything is game…home décor, new authors, great songs, imaginative logos, amazing photographers and graphic designers. I also want to show what helps me to be me and hopefully to also inspire anyone that reads my blog to be creative also.

So I hope that you will follow along and support me on this new venture…it’s a little daunting and scary, but I’m pretty excited about it!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Putting our dancing shoes on

It was an awesome night in my house tonight because it was DANCE PARTY night! Yes, that is right it was DANCE PARTY night.

Sometimes when hubby is having a late night at work and it is just Caleb and I, we bust out the tumes, move the furniture out of the way, let it all go and we bust out some pretty amazing moves. Well, tonight was one of those nights and in one word it was Epic. That's right, it was epic, amazing and carefree!

Nights like this are one of the reasons that I thank God for gracing me with a child that is so amazing, joyful and carefree. We have so much fun together...it's not about always keeping our schedule or making sure things are in order around the house. It's just about having fun, making great memories and being together.

I have found that one of the best things about having a child is that it helps me to stay young....it reminds me to not let life get me down. Coming home and spending time with someone that doesn't see the bad in the world, someone that knows how to have a good time and someone who's smile can light up the room brings happiness into every part of me!

So I say, take the time to dance. Put all that other stuff that's bugging you to the background, push the furniture out of the way, turn up the music and dance...you won't regret it!
 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Adult?

My little brother and his fiance had a baby girl yesterday and I became an aunt, but all that I can think about is: When did my little brother become old enough to be a father? Heck, for that matter when did I become an adult? I certainly don’t feel like an adult. I mean, yes, I do have bills and a house, a son of my own and a full-time job, but I don’t feel “adult.”

What does feeling “adult” even feel like? When I was younger it seemed like those “adult” people were so boring. They went to work, cooked meals, paid bills, grocery shopped, read books in their spare time and played cards and boring board games with their friends.

But now that I do all those “adult” things I don’t feel boring…heck, I think that my friends and I are all pretty fun!

A perspective change sure makes everything look different doesn’t it?

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Center of Attention

Caleb hamming it up at dinner.
Caleb loves to be the center of attention. He likes to think that everything he does is pretty awesome. And while I like to think that everything he does is pretty awesome ('cause c'mon, I'm his mama and what else am I going to think?), not everyone thinks the same thing.

My friend Melissa's daughter Taylor giving Caleb the "look" at the dinner table.
This is the look that most other kids give him when he is hamming it up. A look of "what the heck are you doing?"

But my little man is not fazed by anything or anyone and he just keeps doing his "thang." Yep, that's Caleb, a little wacky, a little crazy, a whole bundle of cuteness and a man after my own heart!


 
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