Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pumpkin Crumb Cake

In honor of Halloween I am sharing a new favorite pumpkin recipe!

It's Fall and I needed a new recipe to share with our Community Group. This little gem is what came about!

 1 package yellow cake mix
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup melted butter
1 can pumpkin puree
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Grease a 9x13 inch pan. 
Reserve 1 cup cake mix. 
In a large bowl, combine the remaining dry cake mix with 1 egg and 1/2 cup melted butter. 
Mix well, and then pat into prepared pan. 
In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup white sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pour over crust. 
In a small bowl, combine reserved 1 cup cake mix, 1/2 cup sugar, and 3 tablespoons softened butter. Crumble over pumpkin filling. 
Bake for 40-45 minutes

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

2013 Renaissance Festival

It's that time of year again! What time, you say? Time for turkey legs, Huzzahs, and ridiculously dressed folk-it's time for the Renaissance Festival! Every year we make sure to make time in our busy Fall weekends to attend the Renaissance Festival. The tickets may be a smidge pricey at $22 person, it is more than worth it. Between the crazy shows and delicious food we always have a great time. When you throw in the odd costumed characters it goes to a whole other level!

This year we headed over there bright and early to make the most of our time. The weekend's theme was "Halloween Daze and Spooky Knights" with an offer for a free kid's entrance. We'd never gone on this weekend in year's past so it was neat to see how they celebrated Halloween with the kiddos. 

As soon as we got in we got a salted caramel mocha and settled in for our first show. 

Then we wandered around for a bit before we ran into some friends of ours from Raleigh. We took their advice and saw a crazy acrobatic show. Their strength and tricks had us all watching with our mouths hanging open.

After the acrobatics we wandered around for a bit and took in some more of the oddities there.

A person dressed up like a tree. Sure, why not?

One of these days he is actually going to buy one of the $300 swords he swoons over.

Did the folk of the Renaissance really ride camels around? Probably not, but I couldn't resist catching this guy's face!

Just before we left (after we had eaten our weight in snacks!) we stopped by the Tortuga Twins Show. This show is a classic at the Renaissance Festival and a definite must-see. Seeing them again reminder me of all the time I used to go with my two best friends growing up!

It was a fabulous day all around and I'm already looking forward to next year!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Belated Panthers Post

Sometime over the summer my daddy texted to say his company was buying Panthers's tickets at a discounted rate if we wanted in. We checked our calendars and then began counting down until the big game. Finally, it was game day! Mama, Daddy, and Abby came in from Winston and Ashley and Harrison drove up from Charlotte so we could all carpool to the game. At the uber early hour of 9am we were off to pick up our Bojangles and tailgate! 

A Fall tailgate isn't complete without a pumpkin beer and Bojangles! And of course, the random photobomber that is Daddy.

Abby and Mama took the time to monogram all our cupcakes! They were sure to include Ashley's future monogram;-)

After a few hours of visiting and enjoying the tailgate (and the sweet pup some people brought to the parking lot!) we decided it was probably time to head in.

Abby gave all of downtown Charlotte a show with her sweet dance moves while we were trekking in.

The Panthers won and it was a great day all around! Hopefully Daddy's work makes this an annual tradition!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday's Letters [10.25]

Happy Friday, folks!


Dear teacher friends, We are almost a quarter of the way through the school year and we have the work to prove it! Just a few extra hours of grading and we can dive straight on into the next chapter of the year.

Dear students,  I know you're tired. I know you're antsy. I know you're getting fidgety. You took us through some interesting antics with the full moon, but we stood strong against your crazy. Only a few more days until your break! Please be kind. 

Dear Renaissance Festival, We're coming for ya! You never cease to entertain us with your cuckoo antics. Looking forward to more interesting characters than ever before!

Dear Fall,  Where'd ya go? I blinked and we seem to have entered Winter. We've discussed time and time again my dislike of your sister Winter, so I'm going to need you to have a talking to her and get her to step back for a bit. No more thirty degree mornings!

Dear readers, And in case you ever doubt out love of Daisy check out this for a good giggle.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Kid President

Please tell me y'all have met this kid.

If you haven't, do yourself a favor and stop reading this and go watch this:

That hysterical kid is Robby and he's got a lot to say, like most of the kids in our world. The problem is we don't take the time to always listen. We're quick to demand they listen to us, but we don't always take the time to hear what they have to say. 

Our kids want to better the world they live in. Yes, they can be ornery and hateful at times (I do have some experience in this thanks to the lovely age group I spend all day with!), but deep down in their heart of hearts they want to help others and bring good to those around them. 

I think we should all take Robby's advice and be more awesome for this world and stop coming up with excuses not to!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Count It All Joy

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
-James 1:2-4

I have recently started following the #SheReadsTruth Bible reading plan. I follow a few bloggers on Twitter who were involved and after months of hearing about it I finally started following along a few months ago (I highly reccomend it!). We recently started a study of James and the verse above struck me deep in my heart.

We are all very quick to rush through our pain. I know that after Emerson passed I was quick to say, "I just want to be happy again" or "I'm tired of being sad". What I really meant was that I wanted it all to go away. I wanted to live in my la-la land where everything was perfect. I couldn't have been farther off from God's plan for us. God wanted me to endure the pain and struggle. He wanted me to learn and grow and come out on the other side a different person than I was.

God is not a mean god. In truth, He couldn't be more loving. He put us through the valleys so that we have the strength to one day reach the tops of those mountains and cry praises to Him all the way. Those lowest points have already brought perseverance and in the when the work is finished there will be maturity and a complete heart, because that's the way He works. 

Praise to Him for creating beauty out of pain. 
Praise to Him for showing me how to consider it all pure joy.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday's Letters [10.18]

Happy Friday, folks!


Dear Raleigh, We're coming for ya! Even though our trip will be brief I'm still excited to see you for a bit and to celebrate Caroline and Steve's engagement!

Dear busy weeks, Whooooeeeee you sure do want to run me down, but I'm not going to let ya! Between all the school stuff and fun things we have planned for the weekends I'm beginning to think I'm going to need a personal assistant to keep it all together. Instead of fussing I'm going to make this the best few weeks of the year. So, there :P

Dear government, Welcome back from your vacay. Glad to see y'all were able to swallow your childish pride and find some way to work through the mess you've created. If you need help learning to resolve your conflicts I have some very mature 8th graders who'd love to show you how.

Funny Reminders Ecard: Let's try and remember to stop electing people who are as terrible with money as we are.

Dear full moon, I'm not going to let you scare me. I know the effect you typically have on my kids but I'm not letting you this time. We have too much to cover in a short amount of time so there is no room for your shenanigans! 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chips Bars

I love pumpkin and it's fall, so what's a girl to do? Get to baking:-)

 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin
 1 package chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan and set aside. 
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt
Cream butter and sugar until smooth.
Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. 
Add pumpkin puree and mix well. 
Mix in dry ingredients until just combined. 
Fold in chocolate chips.
Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. 
Bake bars for 35-40 minutes.
Cool and serve.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Musical Memories

I love music. Everything about it is wonderful. Name a genre and it's probably represented somewhere on my iTunes. Some songs carry more meaning than others. There are some songs that I can hear and I'm automatically back in my childhood bedroom rocking out with my best friends. Other songs I hear and my insides melt as I remember the beginning of our relationship. Then there are those that I hear and I am reduced to tears. This morning I heard one of them.

Many songs on the local Christian station, KLOVE, have the power to bring me to tears, but this morning's culprit came to me from a local pop station. The song " Not with Haste" by Mumford & Sons. Not quite what you were expecting, huh?

I first started listening to Mumford last Fall. This was also the time we found out we were expecting Emerson. Every time I was in the car I would sing to her. I would talk to her with Mumford playing in the background. I pictured her in the backseat of the car a year from then listening along with me. 

God's plans were not mine.

Now when I hear Mumford my heart is different. Instead of singing and dreaming of a little babe, I sing and remember our little babe. There are days it pains my heart to sing along and there are other days that I sing with a full heart hopeful of what's come. 

The songs may change. 
My response to them may change. 
God's love and redemption never changes.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Racing and a Maze

This past weekend had me at another race, but this time around I tried a trail run. Having never done one before (not even to train) I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I ended up running the 5K in 29:23, which would have really bummed me out in a road race actually pleased me this time around. It was hard jumping over and around branches on a small path where there wasn't much room to pass! I also should have listened to Pamela and downloaded another running app because mine didn't work again! I am done with MapMyRun!

After the race we decided to redeem a LivingSocial for a "local" corn maze. FORTY FIVE MINUTES LATER we arrived at Muddy Boots Farm excited for the challenge. Unfortunately it wasn't much of a challenge. Though it had an acre more than the last corn maze we did, it didn't seem like much of a challenge. Instead of a map with pieces to fill in there were random questions throughout that guided you left or right. Even if you didn't know the answer to the question you knew exactly where to go because of the ground. There was nicely growing grass in the dead ends and dirt where we should walk. It was a great place to bring kids, but for two competitive adults it wasn't much.They did have a neat baseball thing that David enjoyed doing afterwards.


The race had been to benefit dog rescue/adoption organizations and one of the sponsors was a local dog bar. We headed there that afternoon to see what it was about. Daisy has become a HUGE wuss since being attacked by the fluffy terrorist from next door, so I was little nervous how she would do around a bunch of dogs. It went surprisingly well! She was a bit of a loner and spent more time visiting the humans than dogs, but she didn't cower in a corner the whole time! I think we're going to try and take her again soon.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday's Letters [10.11]

Happy Friday, folks!


Dear Lord, Thank you for grace and new mercies each day.

Dear tastebuds, I see a new trend and I like it.

Dear Trail Run, You scare me. I've never run on a trail so why I signed up to so an entire 5K race is beyond me. Please be gentle. My foot and knee are reminding me this week how I'm not getting any younger. . .

Dear new running shoes, You cost a pretty penny, but you sure are pretty.

Dear David, I just love you to pieces and can't wait for all our adventures in the coming weeks!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Grilled Pineapple Pork Chops

I love pork chops, but my poor husband was getting tired of just grilling them plain. This was the perfect compromise:-)

 1 boneless pork chops
2 Tbsp. Honey Dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
1 cup canned crushed pineapple
 2 Tbsp. olive oil

Season pork with salt and pepper on all sides.
Whisk together mustard, honey, and pineapple.
Reserve 1/2 cup for later.
Pour remaining marinade into a Ziploc bag and add pork.
Toss to cover all sides, then seal bag and marinate for 2-4 hours.
Heat grill to medium-high and brush with oil.
Remove pork from bag and shake off excess marinade.
Place pork on grill and cook roughly 4-5 minutes per side, or until done.
Brush reserved marinade when you flip.
Transfer to plate, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 10-12 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Water of Life

I have to take a moment to brag on my wonderful husband. Our lead pastor was out of town this weekend, so David brought us the Word and it was awesome! His sermon was about choosing Jesus and the "water of life" instead of continually going to the "wells of life" for temporary nourishment. It was an amazing sermon that really hit home for us.

It was laid on his heart by God a few weeks ago in a devotion. We both dealt with losing Emerson in different ways and David's was very much delayed. It was for good reason, though. He went into crisis management mode and took care of me for so long that he put off dealing with his emotions for a long while. Instead of turning to God like he would have in so many other situations, he filled his mind and time with things of this world,work, finances, friends, etc, aka "wells of life". These wells never nourished him and he continued to suffer. It wasn't until he returned to God's water of life that he began to heal. Do yourself a favor and take a moment to hear God speaking through him!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Quick Winston Weekend

This past weekend I popped on over to Winston Salem for a quick trip. Mama asked me to run a 5K with her on Saturday morning so I headed up there on Friday afternoon after school let out. I was excited about the race, but even more excited to meet this little princess:

Meet Shanti, my parent's new pup. Mom rescued her from the Wautaga Animal Shelter last weekend when she was up visiting Mandy and Abby. Apparently she'd had her eye on Shanti for a while and when they went to the shelter they determined it was meant to be! Daddy named her Shanti, which means "peace" in Sanskit. I want everyone to take a quick moment to appreciate the irony of this name because our family, and this newest addition, are anything but peaceful!! 

She may have an abundance of energy but she is one of the sweetest little loves I have every met. She may jump right on top of you, but it's not because she's trying to attack, or even play, she just wants your love and attention. Take a look at the following pictures for evidence:

She starts sitting upright, kinda leaning against ya

Then she puts her entire weight onto you

And she ends up on the floor/in your lap

Enough about Shanti.  Onto the race! The next morning we woke up bright and early for the Athena Warrior Race benefitting Gyn Cancers. Mama did it last year and knew she wanted to do it again. Despite waking up extra early and the race being less than 5 minutes from Mama and Daddy's house, we still got there just before the race. 

Hellooooo and good morning

Mama had mentioned the night before that the "MapMyRun" App wasn't working properly with ios7. I didn't know anything about that because most of my runs are on the treadmill. I brushed it off and figured it would be fine. Not so much. According to my app I ran half a mile and it took me almost 24 minutes to do it in. Hmmm. I sure hope they figure that out soon! The race results said I finished in 23:47 and paced a 7:43 mile. Certainly not my best, but I did finish 3rd in my age group!

Getting my medal

Mama did well, but didn't PR either. No biggie, we all have those races. After the race they had a decent sized health and wellness expo with lots of freebies and information. Mama and I each got a a 5 minute massage along with a "teal-tini" (blue Gatorade in a plastic martini glass) and a slice of cake. No wonder Mama wanted to do this race again this year! My next race is the Trails for Trails 5k trail run. Hopefully it will be better than this one!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday's Letters [10.04]

Happy Friday, folks!


Dear students, Though we may have our moments I have to say how thankful I am for y'all. Your warm hearts, hysterical senses of humor, and genuinely positive disposition is such a great way to go through each day. Thank you.

Dear David, I apologize for being so cranky. My b. It's been a long week with lots of extra stuff. I have high hopes for next week!

Dear foot, What's up with this dreadful pain whenever I walk or put pressure on you? Ain't nobody got time for that. I've got a 5k tomorrow morning that I'd really like to finish!

Dear readers,  #teacherproblems

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Black and White Chicken Chili

We needed a new easy winter go-to recipe. You know the kind that stick to your bones and taste good for days afterwards. This little gem is just that!

3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 can black beans
2 cans navy beans
1 jar salsa verde
1/2 cup water
shredded cheese to sprinkle

Drain and rinse the beans. 
In large saucepan, mix beans with salsa, chicken and 1/2 cup water. 
Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, about 8 minutes.
Sprinkle with cheese.

We enjoyed this over quinoa. Mm mm mm!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


I pray every morning on my way to school. This is something I started my first year of teaching and have continued every year since. Some mornings are filled with prayers, while others are full of praise. Regardless of the meaning behind it, I know He is listening to me call out.

This morning as I finished and turned on K-LOVE (the local Christian music station) I heard these words:

Trust in the Lord, don’t give up hope

It was the perfect reminder. Some seasons of life are hard. Some seasons are ugly. Some seasons our prayers are pleas that seem to go unanswered. But the key word is seem. He is constantly working for His glory, not our own, and we must trust Him. Despite however hard it may be, we must trust that He is constantly working for our good, though we may never see how or why. We may never understand His ways, but we must recognize that He is working.

I am choosing to put my trust in Him. I am choosing not to give up hope in His purpose. I am choosing Him. It may not be easy, but the best things never are.