Mar 30, 2016

Healthy Carrot Snack Cake

I love to tease my father-in-law about his predilection for eating cake for breakfast.  However, when I saw this Carrot Snack Cake in Better Homes and Garden this month, I knew I had to make it for his visit, as the article recommends eating it for breakfast!

It is really tasty- more like a banana or zucchini bread than cake.  I upped the cinnamon greatly, because extra cinnamon never hurt anything.  I also changed the nuts to pecans from walnuts (personal preference).

Carrot Snack Cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1  tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded carrots (5)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • Cream Cheese Icing

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside.
  • In a large bowl whisk eggs, oil, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla until combined. Whisk in flours, baking powder, cinnamon, soda, salt, and nutmeg until combined. Stir in carrots and walnuts. Pour into prepared pan.
  • Bake about 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Spread with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

  • In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined and smooth. Add powdered sugar and cinnamon; beat on low until combined. Stir in orange zest.

The kids are a bit heartbroken that the carrot cake is all gone, and we can't have any more for breakfast. 
I'm a bit bummed as well.

Mar 29, 2016

Easter 2016

 We had a wonderful Easter- good family, fellowship, and food.  And of course, the Easter Bunny made an appearance.  He brought bubbles.

Pre-church quick photo session.  This is DH's new smile.
 And these are Deeds' chosen footwear.  He is now refusing his knee socks and saddle shoes.  Morgan is pleased.  I am a bit crushed.

Putting flowers on the cross.

 I stayed up entirely too late Saturday night playing with flowers and prepping dinner.

I had so much fun doing the more formal arrangements above with all the beauties I found at Trader Joe's, but I must confess, I truly prefer the wild natural look of a bunch of redbud branches cut from my yard.

Morgan, my father-in-law, the kids and I went to early church.  While the kids and I stayed for Sunday School and a butterfly release, Morgan went home to cook.  Well, put everything in the oven.  The night before I prepped and egg strata, asparagus, and bacon for the oven.  Morgan then had to remove the saran wrap and instructions, and stick everything in the oven, which made it stress-free for everyone.

 We also had coffee cake and pineapple spears.  I think the egg strata was the best I have ever made, or possibly eaten.  And I love a breakfast casserole, so that's high praise indeed.  The recipe is here.  I changed the cheese from Swiss to Havarti, based on personal preference, and upped the onion to 1 chopped medium onion.  It was fantastic!

Thanks to a tip from a friend, the ahem, the Easter Bunny found a great assortment of little toys and happies perfect for non-candy, inexpensive Easter basket at Cost Plus World Market.  They were on sale last week, and are probably marked down even more if one wants to be super organized and shop for next year.

It was a glorious day- followed by a incredible two hour nap as soon as Deeds went down!

Easter always gives me such hope and a spirit of renewal- my heart is quite full.  He is Risen, Indeed!

Mar 22, 2016

Books about Fancy Rich New Yorkers

AKA one of my favorite kind of books.

First up, I finally got around to reading Primates of Park Avenue.

It was weak.  I had enjoyed reading about the scandal it provoked when published.  However, the pseudo-scientific premise really annoyed me.  Either make it a true anthropological study and include some footnotes/sources or make it a full on memoir.  Also, the references to various tribes and cultures were often highly contradictory.  The author's agenda seemed very transparent- to ridicule and exaggerate the society of which she is a part.  Yet, she seemed to be unapologetically fully immersed and into said society.  I mean, there was a ridiculous amount of time spent on her pursuit of a Birkin bag.  The whole thing was cliched and unnecessary (yet diverting for an afternoon).

Far more enjoyable was Opening Belle, based on the author's experience as a Wall Street banker.  It was well-written and fast paced.  Chick-lit with a focus on business rather than boys, it kept me engaged until the satisfying end.

A little bit more serious than the previous two is The Swans of Fifth Avenue.  I have loved tales of Truman Capote's "swans" ever since reading Katherine Graham's memoir, and its depiction of his famous Black and White Ball.  Swans is a bit depressing, but seems quite an accurate depiction of these beautiful and privileged women's lives.  And it makes me want to be CZ Guest.

You'll want to have your phone or computer handy while reading it, as I was constantly Googling images of these women, their husbands, and Truman himself.  It's a fascinating portrait of Babe Paley, Capote, and the late 50's-early 1970's.

I read Swans and Primates simultaneously, and it was very interesting to see how little has changed for the Upper East Side in the last 60 years.

Mar 21, 2016

Springing Up!

 We had a fantastic spring break trip down to the beach for friends.  My parents were also down there at the Bay House, so we got to help break in the new pontoon and take a little break from the sand.
 We got back in time to make it to church for Palm Sunday- I was just tickled to see DH come marching down the aisle waving her palm.
 After rest for the kiddos and a much-needed run to Kroger for me, we hit up the church Easter egg hunt.  Luckily the toddler area was a ghost town, and my kiddos managed to accumulate quite the stash before the big kids arrived.

Their favorite part was the petting zoo.

Picking grass to feed the goats was Deeds heaven!

We got home for a quick dinner of Spring Onion Pie (recipe here), and baked apples.  Simple and delicious!  I forgot how good this recipe is- love anything that I can whip together out of the contents of my pantry and fridge.
Okay, I'm dashing off to jazz without even proofing this post.  Chalk the typos up to beach brain!

Mar 7, 2016

Loss and Renewal

I have tons of posts sitting half-written on Blogger.  I have lots of thoughts floating around this old noggin, but getting them out has just been impossible lately.  Work, kids, volunteer obligations- all of the normal things that take up my time.

Then, about a week and a half ago, a family friend passed away suddenly in a skiing accident. It was a shocking loss. I'm absolutely terrible at talking or writing about this sort of thing, so excuse my ineptitude.  I have been mired in grief- for him, his family- especially his five young children, and for all of his friends and loved ones.

I was so thankful to escape this weekend and head to a women's retreat in the mountains.  I drove up the back way, which takes you through Wears Valley, one of the prettiest places in the world.  Then I cut through part of the National Park.  Bored with the millions of choices on satellite radio, I randomly flipped to my CD player, with absolutely no clue as to what it contained.  Immediately, Ralph Stanley's banjo and voice singing "I'll Fly Away" filled my car, followed by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band singing "Will the Circle Be Unbroken", Loretta Lynn's version of "Wildwood Flower", and Dolly's "My Tennessee Mountain Home".  I was cradled by the steep, rhododendron covered hills on either side of the winding road, and guided by the creek flowing alongside. Filled with peace, my heart was finally comforted. Some dulcimer music and my mountains lifted my spirit.

Such comfort was followed by a lovely weekend full of learning, laughter, good food and wine, and a nice hike through Cucumber Gap.  I'm now ready to get back in the swing of things (hopefully).  To put aside my sadness and to help those who need it.  Or at least do my best.

That is, once I finish the mountains of laundry and vacuuming and straightening that didn't happen when I was away in the mountains.  Back to life, back to reality. . . .