August 28, 2013

when i grow up

...this is who i want to be!
Unbelievable what this group accomplished!
Makes me ashamed of what little I've "paid forward."
(But sure wouldn't mind their killer pound cake recipe!) :)
My goal this year is less of me and more of HIM.

"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'" ~ Matthew25:40 NASB

August 15, 2013

summer craftiness

My summer wasn’t all fun & games… Somebody around here had to get a little work done.DSCN8240So I embroidered a pair of tea towels for my sweet Aunt Faith. DSCN8190I made a pink ribbon bracelet for dear friend Sara.ejetchI etched a bunch of glass bottles! (…even googled the Portugese word for oil and personalized a decanter for Aunt Margaret “azeite”)DSCN7847I combined some embroideries and buttons onto a pillow for a wedding gift.ej3cardsI crafted a card or two.DSCN7543I etched glass for a graduation photo frame for my niece.ejpaintfailI tried to use the proper paint & technique to personalize a glass cookie jar for my mom. DSCN8230But failed, so I ended up etching it.DSCN8231(Like my “green” gift-wrap?)DSCN7746I made personalized map for a friend’s birthday. (Darn it! Glass is sooooo hard to photograph without glare…)

OK! I see you yawning & hear the snoring – I’ll cease with the show-and-tell.



Dark Chocolate-covered, Vanilla Bean Cream-filled Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

(…tried to think of a catchy name for them, but did not succeed… maybe you could help?)cookieI would be lying if I told you I wasn’t drooling excited when Kristen announced the ingredients for the August Improv Challenge:basket

I had pinned this recipe for gluten-free Thin Mints some time ago & I figured it would make an excellent base for my cookie. (I do realize oatmeal is not OK for all GF eaters. I’m going to try this recipe again without grains.) DSCN8254After I ground some oatmeal (yep – didn’t have time to run to the store for some Bob’s Red Mill Oatmeal Flour…)and sifted it, this is how I made the cookie:ejchcookierecWhen I got to thinking about a nice, creamy vanilla filling; I somewhat shuddered at the thought of the traditional shortening/sugar fluff. Then I remembered seeing some glorious recipes for vanilla bean cream cheese – A-HAH! Perfect!DSCN8260I wanted to taste vanilla and cream cheese, so I used Stevia in place of honey or powdered sugar. DSCN8247Being sweet-deprived relatively sugar-free this was perfect for me! Here’s what I mixed:ejvanfilrec

readyAfter “sandwiching” the cookies, I made sure they were well-chilled then I dipped them in about a pound of dark chocolate melted with almost a tablespoon of coconut oil.meltyLiving in the desert (where summer’s still going strong) one has to decide whether to snap pictures of chocolates with a little refrigerator bloom on them, or melty fingerprints…printBut, despite their appearance, these little cookies were absolute nuggets of joy! The sweetness of the dark chocolate coating made up for the lack of sugar in the cookie & filling. I loved the slightest tangy flavor of the vanilla-ed  cream cheese.DSCN8281YUM!


Please be sure to check out other bloggers’ links to their chocolate & vanilla creations.

August 14, 2013

where DID July go? – fine (pronounced fee'-nay)

After Zach returned on the 16th, we had a couple days to ready ourselves for Keith’s sister & her 2 daughters  who would arrive from NC on the 20th. They were to stay with the grandparents in Surprise, but most activities would originate from our house.

The best day was when we fixed tea party/Star Wars food:ladybugsThere were ladybug cookies,princessprincess ham & cheese sandwicheszachan ogre devouring ladybugstieand “Tie-Fighter Ties”gamersThere were a couple intense Xbox Kinect competitions as well…

Early Friday morning (the 26th) Keith & I headed for the gorgeous White Mountain area around Greer.DSCN7856I’m just going to leave you with a couple “teaser” pics, ‘cause this little trip will take up quite a few blog posts…DSCN7866



August 2, 2013

where DID July go–part deux

I believe I left you after an amazing rainbow following amazing thunderstorms in NM, huh? (I am amazingly literate!)

Anyhow, we spent July 4th with dear friends Pauline & Ray & their family. We made a taco bar with all kinds of yummy toppings.

I also made a gluten-free, sugar-free strawberry pie.

The boys had fun splashing all the gals sitting ‘round the pool.

Afterwards, we got a little crazy with the fireworks display!

Sunday, July 7th was another huge milestone for me. On this day I had to again have farewells with my oldest. I got them out of the way at home so I wouldn’t be sobbing at church.

Well, that didn't work -- I cried at church, too.
After that prayer (which I had to cut short 'cause I was crying) 15 young people boarded the vans for the airport to head to Romania.

If you notice the date, Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash-landed the morning prior -- so you know what kind of thoughts were running through this mama's head... But God is good. He calmed my fears.

I won't write the Romania stories here, for they are not mine to tell. I cannot wait for the Sunday evening when the team shares the incredible experiences over the 10 day mission.

But, here's my boy when they got back to Sky Harbor at 11:00 p.m. on the 16th:

August 1, 2013

where DID July go?

In order to ‘splain that, Lucy… we have to go back to the month of June. I’m going to let my good friend Instagram tell the story:

IMG_20130616_092118On June 16th, Fathers’ Day, my boys & I drove to the airport. We were dropping off Zach, our oldest, so he could fly to Colorado Springs to attend a 2-week session of Summit. I was quite worried because a) He had a tight plane/terminal switch in Salt Lake City,  b) It’s the first time he’s flown commercially in about 18 years, and c) HE’S FLYING ALONE.

IMG_20130616_093231And then, HORRORS! I didn’t really hug him good-bye. We were waiting while he was moseying along the fenced trail for security & I figured I’d be near him one more time. Not so. From far, far away I texted him when I realized what had happened. He smiled as he knew I was crying by then.

Well, we survived his flight. He had a marvelous time in Manitou Springs. (a little more on that later…)

IMG_20130621_180708On the 21st of June, Keith took us to a little Thai restaurant in Tempe. (I always order Pad See Ew, of course…) We were going to finish off my birthday celebration with a viewing of “Monsters University” but we opted for shopping instead.

June 28 the hubs & I headed out for a quick trip north to pick up Zach from his conference. I posted some quick temperature updates from various towns to tease our Phoenix folk who were suffering the hottest weekend of the year:IMG_20130628_171630The mountains of Southern Colorado (Garden of the Gods in this shot…) have an indescribable beauty:

IMG_20130629_111755We retrieved our son from the marvelously ancient hotel headquarters of Summit.1001477_10152975533705481_1686968502_n(not my photo! This is Zach’s session of Summit. He’s standing 3rd from the right on the back row…)

We were delighted to tour the rooms where some of the most incredible minds of our day poured into the heart of our son!IMG_20130629_114642We also managed to have dinner with a dear couple from our church we haven’t seen in years! IMG_20130629_181707(We were blessed to spend the night at their house & to use their internet the next morning so Keith could work on a client issue… Sad smile)

We hit the road & drove through some amazing thunderstorms throughout New Mexico. I captured this amazing rainbow while waiting for our dinner on a patio in Albuquerque.IMG_20130630_193543Well, that takes us through the end of June. July 1st we arrived home & I will write about the rest of the month tomorrow…


Put the Lime in a Coconut Cream Pie

limeyHaving nothing better to do (bwah-ha-ha-HA!) I decided to enter my adaptation of Kristan’s Mini Coconut Cream Pies into the Creative Recipe Contest hosted by Confessions of a Cookbook Queen and Cookies and Cups!

cqWhile I enjoy a good, custardy coconut cream pie, my best half does not. What he does enjoy is a good Key Lime Pie. Voilà! Our compromise sounded like a song:

“…you're such a silly woman, put a lime in the coconut…”

Instead of purchasing refrigerated pie crust (which you are certainly welcomed to do…) I made mine gluten free. It was simple to whip up with karate hands  a food processor  two knives my trusty pastry blender.(seriously! from chilled butter to dough disks took me maybe 10 minutes by hand…)ejdough1

If you were wondering how I baked my shells…

ejbakedFor my custard base I opted to use a “Honey Pastry Cream” recipe which I created last year. It is a great gluten-free alternative to Kristan’s filling recipe.

ejfillingWhat I did not alter was her judicious use of melted chocolate chips spread across the bottom crust to inhibit sogginess from the filling! oh. yeah. baby. (I might or might not have skipped the “brushing” part & went straight to spooning chocolate in the shell…) Smile with tongue out

ejchocolateNobody is a big fan of meringue here in the Shingler cottage. (Never mind the fact that I’d probably burn the house down trying to gently brown it & the coconut…) Decision was made to create Lime Whipped Cream sweetened with honey to top the little pies. (Please forgive the melted appearance of the piped whip – our high today was about 109°…)

ejwhippedejpie1Verdict from my unbiased taste-testers ranged from “yuweleafum” (spoken around some chocolate-coated crumbs) to “Wow! Pretty good, Mom.” & “Hmmmm -- are you sure it’s gluten free? ‘Cause it doesn’t taste bad.” Now, I didn’t check the dessert plates in the sink closely, but I’m pretty sure they were licked clean!