June 30, 2011

10 minutes of Jimmy Kimmel made me cry.

I will not often comment on celebrity gossip on this blog. But tonight I watched the first 10 minutes of this video from a recent  Jimmy Kimmel Show; and in short- I'm saddened. {yes, I cried.} Not because I particularly liked Charlie Sheen's character on the show in question. Or that I particularly like Charlie Sheen for that matter. But he is human, and to ridicule him in this season of his life is unfortunate. He is clearly going through something that is going to require a therapy that only He can provide.

{This picture doesn't really have anything to do with the post.. it's just darn cute!}

Anyway- back to the point. {This post is most certainly NOT about Charlie Sheen.} The part of this video that bothered me actually has nothing to do with Mr. Sheen. The scary part {for me anyway} were the words coming out of the children's mouths. I just sat here in shock. My first thought was "Oh, if Olivia talked like that I..." and then my train of thought shifted. The more important question is "WHY do these CHILDREN have those thoughts." I know that today's society is quickly closing the gap on childhood innocence; but as mommies and daddies isn't our job to protect them from this unnecessary evil?? Why do children have to know about things like bazookas and whatever that kid at the end of the bit was talking about. I don't know about you but I just didn't think that way when I was little, and I pray that Olivia doesn't when she is older. Lord, please help me shield her; help us shield all the babies.

I am enough ... The Shine Project

The Shine Project was started by a truly inspirational woman named Ashley. She explains on her blog what the project is all about.
"I have decided, that now is the time to excel in life. Now is the time to be better than I have ever been, and to accomplish things that I never thought I'd be able to do.
As I reach my goals, I want my 'light' and happiness to rub off on others.

This is what The Shine Project is all about:
Going out of your comfort zone to bring light to those who need hope.
The Shine Project emulates love, sacrifice, and CHANGE."
 Motivating, right? Yeah, I thought so too.
This week's challenge is to post about the most influential thing you have learned this month about body image.

I have learned that I am enough. Now, that's two fold. I am enough as a woman (wife, mother, daughter, etc.) AND I am enough physically. I don't know about all of you, but after I had Olivia I began to feel "less than." I have felt as though I was "less than" attractive, I felt as though I was "less than" I should be too my husband, I felt as though I was "less than" a good friend. The first step that changed my way of thinking was reminding myself that although I now had stretch-marks and bags under my eyes and I was so scatter brained I barely remembered to eat everyday- much less call a friend; I had this amazing little girl who needed me. And she deserves the best version of me I can give her. 

Fast forward a few months and goodness knows how many self-help books-- now I KNOW...

Now, does that mean that I have rock star abs and I always look like a super model when my hubby walks through the door? That would be a resounding "No." But that's not the end of the story, far from it actually. I have learned that I AM enough for my husband, I AM enough for my friends. I'm so thankful that I came across this picture on Pinterest a couple of weeks ago. SO THANKFUL! It completely changed my perspective. In short- it moved me. The photo I originally saw was accompanied by this:
"A mark for every breath you took, every blink, every sleepy yawn. One for every time you sucked your thumb, waved hello, closed your eyes and slept in the most perfect darkness. One for every time you had the hiccups. One for every dream you dreamed within me. It isn't very pretty anymore. Some may even think it ugly. That's OK. It was your home. It's where I first grew to love you, where I lay my hand as I dreamed about who you were and who you would be. It held you until my arms could, and for that, I will always find something beautiful in it." 

Yes, that is my stomach. I told you it changed my perspective. So much so that I am willing to post a picture of my stomach for the entire world to see on the internet. Two weeks ago if you told me that I would be sitting here typing this post, I probably would have laughed in your face. But here I am and I'm so glad about it! I feel like a new woman. 
So, to any of you out there who feel like you might be "less than" let me leave you with one thought today. 
Get ready it's a doosy.

You don't have to be perfect to be who He designed you to be. 

The good Lord knew from the beginning of time that you would have those stretch marks, that you wouldn't have lost all those "holiday pounds" just yet. Let me tell you- none of that matters. Be the best you that you can be; and that sweet friends, will always be ENOUGH. 

June 27, 2011

Ode to the Cheesecake and a Recipe

That cheesecake, oh that cheesecake.
I recently made this cheesecake as the Groom's cake for my sweet sister's wedding. It was A.MA.ZING! Like, gone 20 minutes into the reception amazing. I will say however, that it was a labor of love. Brandon is fortunate that I love him as much as I do! When I posted about the wedding I promised that I would post the recipe this week. I borrowed a recipe from here, and made a few changes. I've included the original recipe and added my changes in green. Hope that helps!

So, without further ado here it is: 
Here's what you'll need..  

For the Crust

2 cups (I used 1 1/2 cups) of Graham cracker crumbs (from a little less than 2 packages Graham crackers
2 Tbsp sugar
Pinch salt
5 Tbsp unsalted butter 


2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream

(This is where the original recipe lists the ingredients to make the toppings. I didn't make either one of them, I simply cut some strawberries and piled them on top!)

Special equipment needed

9-inch, 2 3/4-inch high springform pan
Heavy-duty, 18-inch wide aluminum foil
A large, high-sided roasting pan (I used one of those disposable aluminum pans you can get from the grocery store.)
Now let's get to it...
Prepare the crust:
1. Prepare the springform pan so that no water leaks into it while cooking.* Place a large 18-inch by 18-inch square of aluminum foil on a flat surface. Place the springform pan in the middle of the foil. Gently fold up the sides of the foil around the pan. Make sure to do this gently so that you don't create any holes in the foil. If there are any holes, water will get into the pan and ruin the crust. Press the foil around the edges of the pan. Place a second large square of foil underneath the pan, and repeat, gently folding up the sides of the foil around the pan and pressing the foil against the pan. Gently crimp the top of the foil sheets around the top edge of the pan. (I used 4 sheets of aluminum foil. Overkill? Maybe but I didn't have the time or energy to have to re-make it!)
2. Preheat oven to 350°F, with rack in lower third of oven. Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor or blender until finely ground. (I used a mortar and pestle) Put in a large bowl, and stir in the sugar and salt. Use your (clean) hands to stir in the melted butter.
3. Put all but 1/4 cup of the graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of the springform pan. (Save the remaining 1/4 cup for if you happen to have any holes that need to be filled in, either while you are making the crust, or after the cake has cooked and you've unmolded it.) (I didn't set any crumbs to the side- I used them all) Gently press down on the crumbs using your fingers, until the crumbs are a nice even layer at the bottom of the pan, with maybe just a slight rise along the inside edges of the pan. Be careful as you do this, as not to tear the aluminum foil. Place in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

Make the filling:
4. Cut the cream cheese into chunks and place in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed for 4 minutes until smooth, soft and creamy. Add the sugar, beat for 4 minutes more. Add the salt and vanilla, beating after each addition. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. Add the sour cream, beat until incorporated. Add the heavy cream, beat until incorporated. Remember to scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl, and scrape up any thicker bits of cream cheese that have stuck to the bottom of the mixer that paddle attachment has failed to incorporate. (Be sure you pay mindful attention to your time, I even set a timer!)

Cook the cheesecake:
5. Place the foil-wrapped springform pan in a large, high-sided roasting pan. Prepare 2 quarts of boiling water. Pour the cream cheese filling into the springform pan, over the graham cracker bottom layer. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Place the roasting pan with the springform pan in it, in the oven, on the lower rack. Carefully pour the hot water into the roasting pan (without touching the hot oven), to create a water bath for the cheesecake, pouring until the water reaches halfway up the side of the springform pan, about 1 1/4 inches. (Alternatively you can add the water before putting the pan in the oven, whichever is easier for you.) (Yeah, I added the water first!) Cook at 325°F for 1 1/2 hours.
6. Turn off the heat of the oven. Crack open the oven door 1-inch, and let the cake cool in the oven, as the oven cools, for another hour. This gentle cooling will help prevent the cheesecake surface from cracking. (Again, I set a timer and it didn't crack at all!)
7. Cover the top of the cheesecake with foil, so that it doesn't actually touch the cheesecake. Chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours, or overnight.

Prepare the cake to serve:
8. Open the springform latch and gently open the pan and lift up the sides. Add whatever toppings you like and serve!

I hope you love this one as much as we did. It is definitely a staple for our family get-togethers from now on!

Linking up to:

Tip Junkie handmade projects

June 25, 2011

A Wedding and a Cake.

My beautiful sister, Lindsay was married last weekend. She was GORGEOUS. The wedding was sweet and simple, and the food was awesome. {It definitely made standing in the kitchen from 8 am - 10 pm on Thursday worth while!} We had just 3 short weeks to pull it off - and pull it off we did! Here are some pictures from the day.

The beautiful Bride.

Her bouquet.

Part of the spread.

 The Groom's Cake
{I'll be sure to share the recipe next week. It was AMAZING!}

The Wedding Cake
I made it using this tutorial. Lindsay was so pleased with how it turned out. Thank you Pinterest!

The  new brothers-in-law - my husband, Chance and Lindsay's husband, Brandon.
Silly boys. We'll have a good time a family get-togethers that's for sure!

A sweet candid of the Bride and Groom before the ceremony.

My little family.

Olivia had a GREAT time!
She loves being a flower girl!

She also loves pretty things.

 Our Family.

Mr. & Mrs. Davidson

Lindsay and Brandon, I am so happy for both of you and for this new adventure that you are departing on.
I hope you'll be as happy the rest of your lives as you were on Saturday!
I love you both endlessly.

June 24, 2011

On My Heart Tonight...

Tonight I have a very thankful and a very heavy heart. Quite the contradiction, huh? I am blessed in so many ways. One of the greatest blessings is my sweet Olivia. She entered our lives on March 23, 2010. 

She has been healthy and happy since the moment she was conceived. A gift not lost upon me. I have read {and continue to read} so many blogs of mommies who have lost or have sick little ones. I am amazed at the grace that these women exude. I stumbled upon this blog when I was pregnant and it really struck a chord with me. You know, like reached inside thumped my heart and said "you're blessed, act like it." And then I wept. I'm not talking about a few tears here and there, I'm talking gut wrenching sobs. Why? Because the good Lord didn't have to make Olivia perfect and healthy- but He did. And for that I can't thank Him enough. So when I heard today of an old friend who lost her sweet little girl after just a few short weeks of life, I feel the need to weep and to rejoice. I weep for my friend and her family who I know are experiencing unimaginable grief. But I rejoice in the fact that I am blessed with a precious girl who grows up a little more each day. {Just tonight, in fact, she fed herself with a fork!} A girl who when I look into her eyes, I can see the full glory and greatness of God. 
Tonight I want to thank the Lord for all the sweet babies. May he bless and keep them. And I pray that he blesses my sweet friend and her family {and the too many families who've lost or have sick babies} with a peace that only He can provide. And that He gives rest to their souls. I know nothing will ever take the pain completely away, and that fact alone is enough to make me need another box of tissues. 

Be sure give your babies an extra hug and kiss tonight.

Summer's Best Strawberry Cake

This cake is the closest thing to eating a sweet slice of summer. It is so refreshing after a long day.
Definitely a MUST for all your summer get-togethers! {And just in time for the 4th!!}


Summer's Best Strawberry Cake
{adapted from Paula Deen's version found here.}
Here's what you'll need:
  • 1 package white cake mix
  • 1 - 3 oz. package strawberry Jello
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup mashed fresh strawberries, divided
  • 1 - 8 oz. package cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups cool whip
Preheat your oven to 350*.
Combine cake mix and Jello in a large bowl. add eggs, oil, water and 3/4 cup strawberries. Beat in a mixer until well blended. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9 inch pans. Bake 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
Meanwhile, drain remaining strawberries. Beat cream cheese until creamy; gradually beat in powdered sugar. Add drained strawberries, mix well. WHISK in Cool Whip.
Once the cakes have cooled completely, spread 1 cup of frosting between layers. Stack second cake on top of the first. Use remaining frosting to ice the top and sides.

*Keep Refrigerated.

15 months

HOW can that be?? But I know that it is. My sweet girl turned 15 months old yesterday!

Oh Olivia, you are such a ray of sunshine!
At 15 months:
You LOVE books, and we love reading them to you {even if that means I have to read the Playful Puppy 200 times a day!}
You are such a good eater- we've yet to find anything that you don't like.
You drink insane amounts of juice everyday. {You're probably the thirstiest child I've ever seen}
You have a soft spot for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse {and love to dance the Hot Dog Dance!!}
You have a soft spot for Yo Gabba Gabba {and love to do the Wiggle Dance!!!}
You have an infectious smile. I've never seen your Daddy smile the way he does when he's watching you laugh and dance.

We are blessed beyond words to have you in our lives, and we can't imagine life before you.
Happy 15 month "birthday" sweet heart!

Mommy and Daddy love you!!!!!!