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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

55th Birthday Celebration Details AND French Onion Chicken Bubble Up

Good Wednesday evening!

RANDOMNESS #1 - I have a little story to share this last day of August.

As you may or may not know, I work with several children during the week as a part-time nanny-type person.

And at almost every house I work, there is a two year-old.

Can I say, I love two year-olds. They are fascinating, fun, silly little people, and if you haven't spent any time with a two year-old lately, I highly recommend you do so at your earliest convenience.

When I keep kids, we are outside a lot.

Even on the unbearable hot days. Of course, on those type days, we are usually doing something with water to help keep us cool, but outside we stay because I am a big believer in "fresh air helps kids take really long, restful naps."

And that tends to make the maternal units very happy after I leave!

I was at a house recently, and I was playing outside with all of the kiddos, and after about an hour, we were ready to wrap up our water games and head inside for some cooler activities.

I scooped the two year-old up into my arms, and she giggled and patted my face with her very sweet little two year-old hands.

"What's wrong with your face, Miss Benda?"

My kiddos tend to call me "Miss Benda," and I answer to that very well.

"I don't know, Babe. What's wrong?"

She just continued to look at my face worriedly and continued patting it.

Since my body temperature was at least 130 degrees from the outside play, I tried, "Is it red? If it's red, it's okay because I'm just a little hot."

"Let's look in a mirror," she suggested.

Okay. That was fine with me. We headed to the bathroom to check out my red face so I could begin to ease her mind, but when we stepped into the bathroom I just stood there.

There wasn't anything wrong with my face.

It wasn't red.

It wasn't puffy.

It wasn't different at all.

In fact, it looked like my face has looked every day since I turned 55.

And that's when I realized that to the two year-old crowd when they see a person in their 50s, they automatically assume something is wrong with their face...

Because of wear and tear and age and all.

It was a slightly humbling experience, but I decided to forgive the two year-old person and love her anyway.

Because that is apparently what she has decided to do with me.

Love me anyway, despite the bad shape my 55 year-old face is apparently in at the moment.

Growing old is hard work, my friends. Very hard work indeed.

RANDOMNESS #2 - So I told you Mike took off for my actual birthday last Friday, and he told me to plan my special day.

I tossed around the ideas of A Day in Atlanta or A Day in Chattanooga, but I couldn't get on board with those ideas.

I really wanted to do the following:

1. I wanted to go to one Estate Sale.


2. Next I wanted to go to The Southern Living Idea Home in Mt. Laurel and leisurely walk through that beautiful thing.






Pretty beautiful, huh?

It's a fun place to visit.

3. It was lunch time by the end of the self-guided tour of the home, so I picked a new-to-us restaurant in Mt. Laurel called Area 41 Pizza Company. It was pretty delicious and they had a fairly large Italian menu. It wasn't JUST pizza!


They had good brownies, too.



And a happy Mikie.

4. And last, but not least, we picked Judith up and took her to the Harmony Safari Park in Huntsville, and a good time was had by all.




Mostly Judith, but Mikie and I had a wonderful time, too.



NOTE #1 - It cost $15 per person to tour The Southern Living Idea Home.

NOTE #2 - Mt. Laurel has a Farmer's Market and Craft Show every Saturday through October. It's a beautiful community, and while Mike and I love Pepper Place, we're going to branch out a little this Fall and visit this Market, too.

NOTE #3 - Harmony Safari Park is not a huge drive-thru Safari, but it is just big enough, and you can circle around and drive through as many times as you want. They also have a giraffe and a camel, a Reptile House, a Kangaroo Trail and a Turtle Trail. We weren't able to see those particular exhibits because of a massive thunderstorm which came up suddenly, and they had to close the Park.

The cost is $9 per person (two and under are FREE), and $2 for a cup of food OR $5 for a bucket of food. (We highly recommend the bucket!)

It's a good way to spend an afternoon with some kiddos, and we plan on going again.

RANDOMNESS #2 - We celebrated my 55th birthday at Grandmother's house after church this past Sunday.


Because of work schedules and living out-of-town, Josh, Courtney and Judith met Sawyer for the very first time at my birthday party.

Judith was polite, but not nearly as impressed as she should have been.


Aunt Roxie and Judith.


My niece, Katie, always makes my birthday cake. It gets better and better with each passing year.

Need I say, I LOVED MY COW CAKE!


Thankfully, only five candles were on the cake. Fifty-five would have been overkill...

And hot...

And eventually very smoky.


Zac and Mallie.


Sawyer was only a month old, but can I say, he was the perfect birthday party guest.

Quiet, sweet-tempered...

And just the tiniest bit sleepy.




Judith's "happy place" is almost always outside. She loved swinging with Pop.


I have had an empty "SISTERS" frame for many years now, and while Bev and I have tried on occasion to get a good picture of the two of us together, it hasn't really worked out.

Until Sunday.

Love this picture.


I think Judith might have been trying to talk Grandmother into taking her outside to the swing.


Yeah. I'm pretty sure that is what's happening.


Josh and Courtney.


Since Austin was the designated photographer of this particular family occasion, I took a pic of him really quick-like before he left for the day.

And that, my friends, was the end to the celebration of my 55th year on this here Earth!

French Onion Chicken Bubble Up

You will need the following:

2 cups cooked chopped chicken
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 ounce refrigerated French Onion Dip
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1-12 ounce can refrigerated Grands Jr. biscuits
1/4 cup French fried onions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Lightly spray a 9" x 13" pan with cooking spray and set aside.

3. Combine chicken, soup, dip and cheese.

4. Cut each biscuit into 4 pieces. Toss with chicken mixture.

5. Pour chicken mixture into prepared pan. Top with French fried onions.

6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until bubbly, and biscuits are golden brown.

I made this last night, and Mike and I both enjoyed it. It's on the "list" of stuff to make again and again!

Have a wonderful Wednesday. I will be back soon with some FALL STUFF! Just so you know, we will start celebrating Fall September 1...

Even if it is 96 degrees...

With a heat index of 102 degrees...

And 1,000,000 percent humidity.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting (and Ready to Wear My Autumnal Clothing) Belinda

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A WHOLE LOT OF SOMETHING GOING ON!

Good Saturday afternoon!

It is my birthday weekend, so I'm going to post a few pics of this and that, and give you the WHOLE STORY Monday or Tuesday.

There is only so much my 55 year-old mind can handle!

RANDOMNESS #1 - This is Tuck's "crate" from when he was a brand new Faulkner puppy. He still likes to sleep in it for some reason, and if it makes him happy, we pretty much just go with it.

It seems easier that way.


RANDOMNESS #2 - I took Judith to the Splash Pad again this week. She is getting more and more and more comfortable with the "big water," and after 45 minutes of squealing and running and talking to the other kids, she is wiped out...

In a good way!


RANDOMNESS #3 - When we get home from the Splash Pad, she is ready for a diaper change and some freedom in the clothing department.

This is her new favorite spot. She loves to run behind the loveseat, and for some reason she thinks Nana B is totally unable to reach her. It gives her such joy to pull one over on me.

She is very much like her Pop.




RANDOMNESS #4 - Mike took off yesterday and told me to plan my Birthday Day.

I will go into greater detail the first of the week, but one of the four places I chose to go was The Southern Living Idea Home in Mt. Laurel.













All of the little details were amazing, and I'll have pics of the entire rooms next post.

RANDOMNESS #5 - Another fun part of my Birthday Day included picking up Judith and heading to Harmony Safari Park in Huntsville. It's a ride-through zoo, and you can throw special food out of your windows for the yak, llamas, deer, zebra, buffalo, etc., etc., etc.

Obviously, Judith learned a new trick this week.








All in all, it was a highly successful Birthday Day, and Mike has already promised to take off next year...

And the next...

And the next.

I hope y'all are having a really great weekend. I've got a lot of useful stuff to share next time, so please stay tuned.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting (and Officially One Year Older) Belinda

P.S. Apparently in the two weeks since I last saw The Chick, she did this...

And this.

I wish I could say I was surprised, but that wouldn't be totally true.

The good news...

She's home this weekend celebrating me.

The bad news...

She's leaving home this weekend, but not before promising to stay ON THE GROUND.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Dorm Room Pics, Splash Pad Pics, Quotable Quotes, Strawberry Cheesecake Pound Cake AND Spicy Sweet Bacon Wrapped Chicken

Good Friday afternoon!

RANDOMNESS #1 - As promised, here are a few more pics from The Chick's dorm.


The living room was talked about and contributed to by all of the roommates.

I would very much like them to come to my living room to talk and contribute.

The door's open.

Any ol' time.


The only thing Roxie is missing from her actual room would be pictures, pictures, pictures.

I imagine those will be taken care of in the next week or so.


Her favorite part of her new dorm is her bed.

You can't tell by looking, but when you crawl under the covers after a very long day of being a college sophomore, the bed kinda hugs you.

After a very long day of being the mother of a college sophomore...

And the mother of a young man planning on becoming a police officer...

And the mother of a daddy-to-be...

I wouldn't mind having a bed that kinda hugs me.

Just sayin'.

RANDOMNESS #2 - Aunt Roxie and I took Judith to a little local splash pad earlier this Summer, and even though Baby Chick wasn't afraid of a swimming pool, streams of water coming at her from all over the place was not her thang...

At the time.

Fast forward to this week!


She was still a little tentative when we first arrived...



But when her little hand let go of my finger, she overcame everything!






Not shown is a picture of her tip-toeing through the BIG splashy thing...

And smiling afterward!

There is no pic because I was on the other side of the BIG splashy thing encouraging her to walk through...

And there was an equally BIG splashy thing directly behind me...

And I got soaked, but my camera stayed nice and dry on a nearby picnic table.

Feel free to imagine me bursting with pride, and Little Chick smiling her biggest, prettiest grin!

Pinterest Stuff

LOL

I don't understand why people say hurtful things like, "Want to go for a run," or "Try this kale."

I'd be a terrible superhero. I'd see the signal calling in the sky from home and be like, "I literally just sat down."

I was going to work out, but then I realized, this nap isn't going to take itself.

When I do something hilarious, which let's face it is all the time, I think to myself, why do I not have my own television show.

Strawberry Cheesecake Pound Cake

You will need the following:

For the cake:

1 1/2 cups (plus 3 tablespoons) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh strawberries, diced
2/3 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons browned butter

For cream cheese frosting:

1/4 cup softened butter
4 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (or more to make it thick enough to spread on top of the cake)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For garnish:

4 to 5 strawberries, diced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

To make the cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 8.5" x 4.5" x 3" loaf pan, then line it with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Combine cake flour with baking powder and salt. Sift it three times and set aside.

3. In a small sauce pan, brown 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat to get nice amber color. Remove the foam and set aside to cool.

4. Whisk eggs and vanilla. Set aside.

5. Cream the butter on medium speed. Slowly add sugar and continue mixing until smooth.

6. Add heavy cream and mascarpone, and beat on medium speed to combine. Then turn the mixer on low speed and gradually add dry ingredients alternating with eggs.

7. Add one tablespoon flour in chocolate chips and toss them to cover evenly.

8. Toss diced strawberries with a handful of flour to cover them completely.

9. Using a spatula, stir white chocolate chips in the batter. Next, gently stir in strawberries and pour the batter into prepared pan. Smooth the top and gently tap it onto working surface to remove the air bubbles.

10. With a butter knife, draw a line down the center of the cake and pour browned butter into the line.

11. Bake until the top of the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 60 to 70 minutes). Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove from the pan on the rack and cool completely.

To make the frosting:

1. Cream together softened butter and cream cheese until smooth.

2. Slowly add in powdered sugar and mix on low speed.

3. Mix in vanilla extract. Spread on top of the cooled cake and place the cake in the fridge to set the frosting.

To make the garnish:

1. In a small sauce pan over low heat, melt 1/2 cup white chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil stirring until smooth.

2. Scatter diced strawberries onto the frosting and drizzle with melted chocolate using a spoon. Store the cake in the fridge.

I made this cake yesterday, and while the recipe looks work-intensive, it honestly is not.

However, it does take a good bit of time...

And bowls.

You will need a LOT of bowls.

The end result is a pretty, moist, not-too-sweet cake.

We liked it!




Can you tell I took an on-line how-to tutorial about photographing food?

Can you?

Heavy sigh.

Me either.

Spicy Sweet Bacon Wrapped Chicken

You will need the following:

1 pound chicken tenderloins
Bacon slices, partially cooked but not crisp
Salt and pepper, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
Chili powder, to taste
Brown sugar

1. Season the chicken with the spices, then wrap a bacon slice around each piece.

2. Roll in brown sugar and place into an oven proof dish. (Make sure you have 2 to 3 teaspoons of olive oil in the dish, too.)

3. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through, and bacon is nice and brown and crispy.

This was a pretty easy dish...

And it tasted good, too.

Okay, Guys. That's about it for today. Have a great weekend, and I will talk to you soon.

Sincerely,

The Enchanting Belinda

P.S. This little guy is growing so fast. He's almost three weeks old, and along with doing very well, he's also super photogenic!

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