Category: In The Kitchen

How To Make Southern Sweet Tea

Down here in the south, we learn to make sweet tea really young. And you learn to make it your mama’s way. And then you grow up, move out on your own, and while you use your mama’s recipe at first, you eventually come upon your own way to make YOUR favorite sweet tea. 

So, this is how to make the perfect GODBOLD household sweet tea. In the summer, we switch to mint tea. Now, the mint is optional, but you should try it. 

First, I make my sweet tea using a tea kettle. My mama used a pan. My granny used a sweet tea maker. But I use a kettle. So you’re going to boil water in a tea kettle first. (My Dodah always said that hot water wouldn’t boil, so I always put cold water in my kettle. The Pastor thinks this is the most ridiculous thing ever, but I havent’ managed to straighten myself out on this issue.)

While your water is boiling, get you pitcher and add 3/4 cup of sugar and your tea bags. 

This is the kind of pitcher you need for sweet tea. A big one gallon jug with a lid. Yes, they get stained. That just means they are well used. And I do not like the solid colored ones. I like to be able to see my tea. 
This is a prettier pitcher, but you can’t properly make sweet tea in this one. I occasionally use it to make quick sweet tea for dinner, but it really isn’t the same. 

I use organic turbinado sugar. Using only 3/4 cups per gallon, the molasses flavor isn’t noticeable. If you made my Aunt Katie May’s tea with my sugar, it’d probably taste a little weird. She used 2 cups of sugar per gallon. Her tea was syrup. We drink far too much sweet tea to be downing that much sugar a day. 3/4 cup makes it sweet, but not too sweet. 

Also, if you don’t want to use real sugar, it isn’t real Sweet Tea. But don’t put fake sugar or Stevia in the whole gallon. It starts tasting funny as it sits. So, you’ll want to sweeten it per glass, not per gallon. And if you want to use honey, that isn’t real Southern Sweet Tea. If we’re talking Sun Tea, okay with the honey. But I don’t really know how honey sits in sweet tea, so do it at your own risk. Use real sugar for real Southern Sweet Tea. 

I usually use Luzianne tea bags, however, we go through a lot of Sweet Tea. (2 gallons a day in the summer.) My Kroger has this new P$$t brand, and the tea was $1.99 for 100 regular size bags of decaf tea. So, I figured that was worth a try. And it turns out, I really like it. It tastes a lot like Luzianne. For the mint tea, I have tried other brands, but the Bigelow Plantation Mint is the best for Sweet Tea. I also switch back and forth between decaf and regular tea. If I use decaf, I don’t have to be concerned about the number of cups of tea my kids have. But really, I don’t notice a difference at all. 
If you’re using regular size tea bags, you need 4 tea bags per gallon of tea. If you are using the family size tea bags, use 2 per gallon. And then add 1 bag of the Plantation Mint tea for Mint Sweet Tea. 
Once your water is boiling, pour it over the sugar and tea bags. Use a wooden spoon to mix and get the sugar all melted in. (Yes, you have to use a wooden spoon.) Do not leave the wooden spoon in the pitcher. It will make your tea taste like a stick. I set the spoon across the top of the pitcher while the tea steeps. Leave the tea to steep 15-20 minutes. If you forget and leave it longer, no big deal. After it has steeped, use the wooden spoon to fish the tea bags out. I press them against the side of the pitcher to get all the yumminess out before tossing them in the trash. Fill the pitcher the rest of the way with water. Use the spoon to stir. Put the lid on. Put it in the fridge. 

I always serve it with ice. My kids prefer no ice because they have no taste in such matters. 

**This post contains affiliate links!**

Loneliness In Our Journey

I read an article the other day about the loneliness modern stay at home mothers have. They had statistics and fancy numbers, but alas, I cannot find the article. However, that is likely a good thing. As the article in question suggested some very, well, in my opinion, terrible advice. But this is something that has been on my mind lately.

mom and boys

Stay at home moms often have very little adult interaction. Our Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat feeds might give that away. But little people, while adorable and awesome, aren’t always the best kind of company. They are always demanding and give very little back. This along with the fact that our work is never done, often very underappreciated, and usually overlooked- well, it can quickly lead to feeling like less than a person. Then when you take into account our inability to shower, constantly fluctuating bodies, and not a lot of time for trivial things like nail polish and facials, well, it becomes easy to see how we get depressed. The perpetual joke of the wife who “let herself go” isn’t so funny to us because we understand and feel the weight of that. It isn’t what we wanted. But life is like that, isn’t it?

lj with glasses big


In our current culture, many of us find ourselves living far from family. We’re far from the free help of family babysitters who just want the joy of hanging out with our kids. Date nights become costly as we factor in childcare and pizza for the kids into the expense it takes. It very quickly feels not worth it. No support. No help. Just us organizing all of this alone.

hiking kids

As Christians, we aren’t likely to move to a commune or give polyamory a try. (Which is what was suggested in the initial article.) So where does that leave us? Just treading water until the kids go to college? I don’t think so. I think we can do better than simple survival.

beach boys

First, whether you chose to be a stay at home parent or it simply happened, it is for a purpose. Whether it is temporary or permanent, there is a reason. Knowing that you have a purpose and there is reason for your labor can make the work itself seem easier. Dishes washed get dirty quickly. But dishes provide the canvas where you nourish those in your care. There is meaning in what we do. Making our house happy for those in it provides deep benefits to those living with us. It means something, even if the work is never done.


Next, we have to build community. It is okay to reach out through virtual means. Staying connected on social media is absolutely okay. (Especially when you are keeping in contact with people you really know in real life.) Just don’t forget that what you see isn’t always the truth. I can photoshop my life to look any way I want it to look. That isn’t the real day to day in my home. That is just a peak. Just the highlight reel. Just remember that. And if the comparison trap entangles you often, it is okay to say no to social media.

pip tangeled

You also have to build your real community. Real people you can talk to and count on. The easiest way to do that is through your church. Join a small group. Reach out. Know that there are other people like you that need someone. You can be their someone. And they can be yours.

race day

Practice hospitality. I know, having people over for dinner seems like the last thing you need. More work. But inviting people into your home is inviting them into your life. These are the people you know you can call when you need emergency childcare at 2 am. These are going to be the people at your door with dinner when you need them. It is a little extra work, but it is well worth it.

peace love pip

Don’t let trivial junk drive your friends away. I know you think you wouldn’t do that, but we do it all the time. We distance ourselves from those who make different choices. Homeschool moms flock to homeschool moms. Public school moms flock to public school moms. The diapers on our kid’s butts somehow tell other moms if we are worthy of their friendship. Don’t be like that. Don’t let literal crap matter that much. Friends are people who are there for you. Choose wisely, because friends can make our lives worse. But know what matters and what doesn’t. Don’t let the small stuff keep you from getting close to people.


Be the friend you want to have. I wrote a whole post on this that I decided not to post. But I think the point still needs to be made. You want someone who will bring your chicken soup when you are sick? Then take a friend chicken soup when they are sick? Want someone to babysit your kid free of charge so you can have a much needed date night? Babysit someone’s kid(s) free of charge so they can have a much needed date night. You have to create the community you want to be a part of.

zoo friends

Don’t push your spouse away. It can get so easy for us to get resentful of their adult interaction and their time not spent scrubbing bathroom walls. But this isn’t an us versus them scenario. We are all working together to make this family thing work. Don’t push away your partner in this endeavor.


Don’t push away from God. I know you’re busy. I know you have things to do. I know the idea of “quiet time” is laughable. But you can still find ways to seek God. You can turn on music while cleaning and praise His name. You can read devotions with your kids that will feed all of you. You can pray while doing any task. Seek Him. He is our Friend.


You are not alone. You are doing a great job. Whether this is for a season or forever, the time you give to your family is not wasted. Now, I think someone out there is praying for a friend like you.  

My Experience With Trim Healthy Mama

I’m sure you’ve heard of Trim Healthy Mama. It seems everyone has. I had heard about it from friends for years before I decided to buy the books and give it a try. I researched it for quite a long time before committing. I’m not really one to try diets, despite needing to loose weight. I did the Whole 30 a couple years ago with huge success. But since living that way is almost impossible for an active family, I decided to give Trim Healthy Mama a try. Everyone said it was whole family cooking and it wouldn’t leave me in the kitchen all day long.

The good:

  • The meals were made for large families in mind. I didn’t have to double and triple recipes, which was refreshing. Most family meals feed 6-8. They do have lots of single serve recipes in the cookbook for things like breakfast and lunch, too.
  • I found some ridiculously yummy recipes that my kids love in the cookbook. Swedish Meatballs in Cream Sauce, Slim Sloppy Joes, Blackened Chicken with Mango and Black Beans, Lentil Soup, Chicken Jalapeno Popper Soup, Tomato Chicken Bisque, Nacho Stuffed Peppers, Trim Healthy Pancakes. Amazing food. Really.
  • I found most of the sippers to be awesome and I love them! Good Girl Moonshine & Singing Canary are staying. Period.
  • The Pastor lost lots of weight in the first month.

The Eh:

  • I lost minimal weight. Very minimal. Likes, in 3 months maybe 8 lbs.
  • While it was a whole family plan, you have to tweak every single meal for every single person. This meant adding cheese to kid food but not adult food. Adding an extra side for kids. So while I was only cooking one “meal”, I was having to adjust at the table.
  • While they claim you don’t have to use specialty ingredients, I found that they were necessary if you don’t want to be completely frustrated. So, you’re buying special flours and weird stuff that are really hard to find and expensive.
  • They also claim you can do the plan without Stevia. After reading their stuff, I just started using the Stevia, even though I really didn’t want to. Cutting it out is a bigger deal than they make it.
  • You can have brownies! they say. Then you make the brownies exactly like the recipe and they are gross. The online community then tells you that your taste buds are just messed up from years of real sugar. You’ll adjust. But chocolate should never taste like chemicals. I don’t want to get used to that. So these beloved desserts are apparently all acquired tastes that will eventually be okay to you once you forget what real baked goods taste like.
  • Despite saying you can be a food purist to stick to the plan or a “drive through Sue”, I found that I was having to make a lot of concessions to food purity. I was eating things that didn’t seem normal for me to eat. So, I’m sure there was a way for me to not bend on my food standards, but they weren’t easy if they were available.
  • There are a lot of rules. It takes time to understand and properly implement the plan. While there is good support through their Facebook pages and such, you have to be careful what you say so you don’t offend the plan. (Really just never critique the plan. Just watch how much hate mail will come from this post. And not all of the groups will be like this. You’ll also find a lot of encouragement and a lot of help. Just don’t complain- they don’t like it.)

The Bad:

  • My milk supply tanked, despite doing crossovers as described for nursing moms.
  • My immune system plummeted. I had eczema and then Shingles. The nutrition just wasn’t there.
  • It was expensive. The specialty ingredients are very pricey. They say you don’t need them, but over half the recipes call for them. Want to price them yourself? Whey Protein, Trim Healthy Mama Baking Blend, Stevia, Super Sweet, Gentle Sweet, MCT Oil, Gelatin, Collagen, Glucomannan, Not Naughty Noodles. Now, some of these things will last quite a while, like the Stevia and the Glucomannan. But some, like the baking blend and the super sweet will be monthly expenses at least.
  • I was eating more meat and less veggies than usual. While they say vegetarian and vegan options are available, I don’t really see how.

My Conclusions:

I have seen lots of people loose weight and have great health on this plan. I will still be using my cookbook, despite my not using the plan because some of the food is really yummy. But this plan is clearly not for me. I had so many health problems that started when I switched to this plan. I did not see results anything like I would have liked to see. And my family was just eating too many things I wasn’t really super comfortable with. So, I am going to take some of the recipes, but leave the plan. It just didn’t work for us. It certainly isn’t for everyone. It worked fine for my husband.

Do I recommend you try it? I don’t know. I don’t recommend you NOT try it. I’m just not a fan because it really wasn’t a fit for me and my family. I had really high hopes and it just did not deliver.

I also think I am somewhat biased in my attempts. I’ve never been a Stevia fan. In fact, I think I might actually be allergic. I’m not a fan of processed foods. I’m not a fan of casseroles or crock pots meals. It isn’t that I am picky. I’m just more of a whole food, clean food person. So telling me no potatoes and limit carrots isn’t ever going to sit well with me.

**This post contains affiliate links.**

Large Family Grocery Shopping

the crew

We barely have a large family. We are like a small, large family. But most people cannot fathom having a few more kids than they have. And they are curious! Boy are people curious about my family. And that is really fine. We don’t mind curiosity. It is interesting. We know. I’d be curious. I’m sometimes curious about families larger than mine. One question we get a lot is about groceries. Most people see six kids all they can think is, “How on earth do you feed them all?” I feel like Costco was built for me! And when you are buying multiple Costco sized packages of things, well, you are aware that you are an anomaly. Most people see a Costco sized butter pack (4 lbs.) and think, how long will it take me to use that? It isn’t Christmas right now! I see it and think, I sure hope 2 packs lasts me through the month!

Here are our usual food purchases for a month. A couple notes before I list all this. (1) I have no teenagers yet! The six lovely children range from 8 months to 9 years. I imagine I will have to double this in a few years and then triple it a few years after that. (2) This isn’t everything. These are just our base staples. I meal plan and we buy what is needed for those meals. I usually go with whatever meat is on sale. And we eat vegetarian half the time, so I buy a lot of bulk beans and use my Bean by Bean Cookbook. This also doesn’t include any canned goods. (3) This is just an average month. Some months my kids will get on a yogurt kick and we’ll go through more yogurts and less bananas. It happens. This is just an average month when they are spreading their likes around. (4) These are per month totals. And some are a combination of bulk and regular grocery store purchasing. (5) I also buy household items each month like toilet paper and paper towels, those things aren’t included. This is just food.

Bananas  –  4 dozen

Apples  –  6 lbs.

Gogurt  –  72 pouches

String Cheese  –  96

Mozarella Snack Cheese  –  36

Granola Bars  –  96

Popcorn  –  2 lbs. unpopped kernels

Lemons  –  3 lbs.

Onions  –  10 lbs.

Garlic  –  2 lbs.

Sweet Tea  –  45 gallons

Bread  –  12 loaves

Tortillas  –  88

Applesauce  –  48 pouches

Oatmeal  –  2 lbs.

Peanut Butter  –  80 oz.

Raisins  –  24 snack size boxes

Milk  – 8 gallons

Almond Milk  –  8 gallons

Eggs  –  4 dozen

Butter  –  8 lbs.

Sour Cream  –  4 lbs.

Cottage Cheese  –  3 lbs.

Heavy Cream  –  3 quarts

Shredded Mexican Cheese  –  3 lbs.

Pretzels  –  3.5 lbs.


**This post contains an affiliate link to support this grocery habit of ours. **


Birthday Cake

Today marks 8 days since my first, and only, C-section. Lots of emotions in that sentence. 8 years later, I’m still mad about the whole thing. I have come to have a gratefulness about the whole situation, it lead me to where I am today and brought new friends into my life I wouldn’t have met otherwise. It opened my eyes. But it was still painful. And it still sucked. And it is that bring glaring example of how messed up our system really is. Doctors making decisions based on malpractice insurance coverage rather than individual patient care. Not that my doctor wouldn’t have done the same even if her insurance had let her. She wasn’t skilled in breech birth. We both knew that. So, maybe she put the blame on her malpractice insurance company when the reality was that it was a skill she didn’t possess. And few do- because no one is teaching them- because no one is doing them- because of those insurance companies. I really wish I had never been cut. But I was and that is my reality. I have a scar. I was left without choices. Funny how that “woman’s right to choose” bit only applies to whether you will or will not continue a pregnancy.

aidan 6


I let my kids pick their own cake each year. We don’t have birthday parties every year. But cake is a birthday necessity. I don’t care how much sugar, butter, lard, whatever is in there. On your birthday you get cake! Or pie. Whichever you’re into. So, I have one kid who wants grocery store cakes. Those super sugary, questionably decorated, cakes. Cookie cakes on occasion. The rest of my kids usually want mama made cake. Well, there was that one year one of them made me get a cake made with his picture on it of him as a zombie complete with frosting pumpkins- and his birthday is in July. You get looks at the store for that one. But usually, they want something homemade from mom. I am a decent baker. Terrible decorator, but decent baker.


Aidan and the cupcake

My new 8 year old poured over my cook books trying to find the perfect cake. He had plenty to choose from. I have quite the collection of cookbooks (I’ll post links below). Unlike his younger brother who simply requests banana cake every year, he is a little more adventurous. He wants a unique and fun cake each year. What does he choose? Grasshopper Cake.

mr. bean


So, here I sit, thinking about this day 8 years ago when I briefly considered just getting lunch instead of heading to the L&D unit for my C-section. Sitting here thinking about how unprepared we were for that outcome. Thinking about my little baby born and having to wait 5 days to hold him. Remembering the panic and fear and pain that came along with his birth. Sitting here now while he runs around the neighborhood with friends while I bake some weird mint cake thing because he thinks it is cool. Laughing at the memory of him being born male parts first, after I was 100% convinced I was having a girl. My second baby. My first son. Eight. Time has healed most wounds with the help of God and friends. I don’t feel forsaken like I did on this day eight years ago. Today, I feel blessed.

Aidan Butt Face


My Baking Cookbooks:

Baked (this is where the Grasshopper cake is from)

Sweet Chic

Bell’s Best

The Treat’s Truck Baking Book (this is where the favorite Banana Cake is from)

Milk & Cookies

Desserts in Jars

Splendid Spoonful

Perfect Bundt Cakes

kitchen ljI love baking. I have tried recipe after recipe in pan after pan. I find that some recipes aren’t quite large enough for a layer cake while other recipes could easily make a triple layer cake. I like making Bundt cakes. I like a cake that doesn’t require icing. And they are so easy to serve! Today, I am giving you my two favorite Bundt cake recipes.

Amazing Banana Cake

1 stick butter (I always, always use unsalted)

2 eggs

3 or 4 very ripe bananas

1 teaspoon rum, bourbon, or Southern Comfort (My favorite rum to cook with is Kraken.) (Just pick whichever liquor you have or want.)

3/4 cup white flour

3/4 cup wheat flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Blend butter, bananas, and sugar. Add rum, bourbon, or Southern Comfort and eggs. Mix in all dry ingredients.

Spray your Bundt pan like a crazy woman. I wish I could tell you that there is some all natural, cheap alternative to cooking spray but I can’t. Just buy the spray. (Pam for Baking is my favorite. Baker’s Friend is my runner-up-if-it-is-on-sale choice.)

Pour batter in. Bake at 325. It is done when it smells done. What? You can’t smell a done cake? Okay. It is going to be about 30 minutes, use a toothpick to check if you need to.

(This recipe is also awesome in mini bundt pans and mini loaf pans.

chocolate cakeChocolate Cake

Now, this one is the most awesome chocolate cake ever. Be warned. If you’re wanting a layered cake, double this. If you’re wanting to do a bunch of cupcakes, double it. This recipe is just enough for a Bundt.

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 cup cocoa powder

2 cups sugar

1 cup grape seed oil (You could also use vegetable oil.)

1 cup hot coffee (No, this cake does not taste like coffee. Yes, it needs to be hot.)

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon rum (I use rum instead of vanilla extract. It is cheaper and has the same flavor. If you’re buying, Kraken or Tattoo by Captain Morgan are the best rums for baking.)

Blend in this order: flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, sugar, vegetable oil, coffee, milk, eggs, and rum.

Spray your pan like a crazy woman. (See above on banana cake about spray.) Pour batter into the pan. Bake at 325 until it smells done. Okay… about 30 minutes. Use a toothpick to check if you need to.

You can serve this hot out of the oven or cooled down. I prefer it cooled down.

Chocolate Ganache

It only sounds fancy, but it is unbelievable easy. Heat about half a cup of heavy cream in a small sauce pan. When it is hot (not boiling) stir in about 4 oz. of chocolate. (Chips or chopped bar.) When it is mixed. you’ve got ganache. Spoon it over your Bundt cake. The better your chocolate, the better your ganache.




Garden Party

I only do parties for my kid’s odd numbered birthdays. It saves me from having to do 4 parties a year and it saves birthday parties from becoming a huge chore for everyone else. Even numbered years, the kids get a family outing of their choice on their birthday. (zoo, museum, botanical gardens, movie, etc.) They equally love even and odd birthdays. So this year, I only had one party to do. (Praise the Lord!) Imo decided she wanted a garden party. Not a tea party. But a digging in the dirt garden party. She asked her friends to bring plants for a “friendship garden” instead of getting her a gift. It did rain on and off, so we had to move the food indoors, but they were still able to do all their gardening activities.

GnomeFirst, we found a gnome. Gnome shopping was difficult for Imo. She liked them all. She finally decided on Bob. We had a photo shoot with Bob and used him to make our invitations. We made postcards. They are super simple and cheap. You just make a 4×5 image, then you create a postcard template, take both files to Staples and have them printed 4 per page with the image on one side and the postcard stuff on the other side of cardstock. Use their cutter to cut the paper into fourths. And ta-da! Postcards.

7 Party Mud Pie


Instead of cake, I made individual mud pies. I put them in 3″ terra cotta pots. (If you’re serving food in terra cotta, just make sure the terra cotta isn’t made in Mexico. I found these Germany made pots at Joann’s.) To make mud pies, you make chocolate cake (just make a sheet cake). Let it set in the cool over overnight to dry it out a bit. Cut the cake into 1″ cubes. Place the cake cubes in a bowl and pour some liquor over them. (You don’t want them soaked, just a little moist.) You can use kahlua, cointreau, irish cream, or whatever you think works with chocolate. If you want a non-liquor option, you can use espresso. I made 2 batches of cake to fill 24 terra cotta pots (and I did have some cake left over) and soaked that cake with about 1/2 cup of liquor- so it isn’t much at all. I then made chocolate mousse (2 batches) and chocolate fudge sauce (1 cup cream heated with 2 T butter and 2 T light corn syrup in a double boiler then melt in 16 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate).

Once everything is made, it is assembly time. Plug the bottom of the terra cotta pots with a mini marshmallow. Then add a couple cubes of cake, mousse, cake, and fudge sauce (in that order) into the pots. Crumble some cake on the top and add a mint leaf to garnish. Stick the in the fridge until you’re ready to party.

7 party fruit


7 party table


7 Party mini gnome


7 party drinks


7 party candlesWe had the party in the morning, which is my usual choice of party time. (You can offer a much more limited food selection, which makes planning much easier.) In addition to the mud pies, we had a fruit tray and a veggie tray. We also had snow cones before the kids left. (My friend got me an awesome snow cone maker  as a gift since I’ve been craving snow cones and slushies like crazy. I just premade 24 cups of shaved ice, then added the syrup of the kids’ choice as they asked. The kids seemed to prefer the Jelly Belly syrups I picked up at Kroger and the adults preferred the Monin syrups. If you’re buying Monin syrup- try the Lavender. It is amazing! And the Cupcake is nice, as well.) We had sweet tea, lemonade, and bottles of water to drink.

7 party sign


Before the party, The Pastor prepare a garden space for the garden. He also made a sign for the garden. (Tip: when you are painting something small or grabbing paint for a craft- try getting a sample of wall paint from your home improvement store. They cost a little over $2 and you’ll have more than enough paint for your project. One sample of paint is enough to cover about 5 of these signs.) He used Sharpie instead of paint for the lettering, which bled a little in the rain.

7 party planting more


I picked up trowels at the Dollar Tree for the kids to use. I grabbed several watering cans, as well, but they ended up not needing those thanks to the rain coming and going.

7 party girl


7 party emery


7 party bend


The kids had fun planting a garden. And it actually turned out really nice, despite not having “planned” every plant. Each child brought the plant of their choice, so there is quite a variety, but the garden looks really nice.

7 party boys runningI made little gardening aprons for the kids as a party favor. (Tutorial to come.) So each kid had a little apron to wear and take home. Boys and girls all seemed to like them.

7 party little pots


After they ate their mud pies, we washed out the terra cotta pots. The kids went back outside and each planted some seeds in their pot to take home. (They planted lavender seeds, because I had a few unused packs lying around.)

7 party outfit


Apparently I have set a standard in Imo’s mind. She now feels she needs an outfit made by me to match her parties. I didn’t realize I did this, but apparently I do. That is how most of our traditions around here get started. I don’t realize I do the same thing over and over until the kids tell me I do it and that they expect me to continue. Since it was a gardening party, a dress wasn’t the most appropriate choice. So we made ruffle bermuda shorts and a gardening apron. (Tutorials to come.) I didn’t get a picture of the outfit clean, but you get the idea. 7 party addison and imo

We also grabbed some extra paint stirs at Lowe’s and the kids decorated them with their names to mark their plant in the garden so Imo would remember who gave which plant.

7 party birthday girlAnd now she’s 7!





Milk and Cookies- A Review

Hands down one of my new favorite cookbooks. I know you’re thinking, “Why do I need a whole book for cookies?” Well, this isn’t JUST cookies. You’ll find recipes for cookies, brownies, biscotti, and a few other baked goods. Now, the cookies themselves are AMAZING! Most of the cookies are built off a base dough (vanilla, chocolate, oatmeal, peanut butter) and then you further customize each cookie. Measurements are in standard measurement and also in weight, so whichever you like to use is there. You’ll find very basic cookies (chocolate chip- though they’ll blow your mind), fancy cookies, unusual cookies, and unexpected cookies. Believe me when I say this is a fabulous cookbook! I have made most of the items in the book and every single one has turned out perfectly every single time.

Brown Sugar Peach Cobbler

Living in Georgia, there is one thing we have plenty of- peaches! Peach season comes and you end up with more peaches that you know what to do with. Of course, when they are firm and pretty, you eat them like an apple. But when they get ripe, you can’t just let them go bad! So, you can jar them, jelly them, or bake them. Here is my (fairly famous) brown sugar peach cobbler.


– 1 stick of butter

– 1 cup granulated sugar

– 1 cup all purpose flour

– 1 t baking powder

– 0.5 t salt

– 1 cup milk

– 3 T brown sugar

– 1 t vanilla extract (or Fiori di Sicilia)

– 3 ripe peaches (You can really cook them anywhere from off the tree to overly ripe. It’ll come out fine either way.)

You’ll need an 8″ round or square baking dish. Place the whole stick of butter in your dish and put in the oven at 350. You’ll be melting the butter in the dish while you whip up everything else.

Cut up your peaches. Remove the pits. I leave the skin on, but you can remove it if you’re feeling fussy. In a bowl, mix 3 T brown sugar with the peaches. Add 1 t of vanilla extract. Set this bowl to the side.

Grab another bowl. Add 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of granulated sugar, 1 t baking powder, and half a t of salt and whisk that up. Add 1 cup of milk and whisk it up. Your batter will be on the thin side. If it seems thick, add a bit more milk.

By now, your butter is all nice and melted. Carefully remove it from the oven. You’ll need to carefully add to the butter because it’ll burn like a devil if you happen to splash. Add the batter to the center of the butter first. Don’t mix it. See the picture above. Just pour the batter into the center of the melted butter.

Pour the peaches into the very center of the batter. Do not mix it up. Resist the urge. The batter will bake up around the peaches and the butter will brown up on the outside all nice and pretty. You mix it, you’ll mess it all up. So don’t mix.

Bake at 350 for what seems like far too long (about 45 minutes) until it is pretty and golden on the top and doesn’t slosh around when you move it. Believe me, everyone in your house will be begging you to just let them at it, make them all wait. You may have to stand guard at the oven door.

Once it is pretty and brown (or you can fend the hoards off no longer), remove it from the oven. Let it cool!

To serve, serve warm. You can add a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream if you’re feeling super fancy or just happen to like your cobbler a’ la mode. I’d say this serves 6, but more realistically, it serves 4. If 4 of the 6 are kids, yes, it serves 6. Don’t double the recipe. If you need more, you’ll need to bake 2. It just doesn’t come out so nice and pretty if you try to put it in a bigger pan. I’ve tried. I once baked 6 cobbler in one night because you really can’t double the recipe.

Now, if you aren’t in peach country and have tons of fresh peaches around for you to use, you can use canned peaches. It isn’t quite as good, but still more delicious than anything your mother-in-law ever cooked. Instead of mixing the peaches and brown sugar, you just make sure you buy a can of peaches in heavy syrup and pour the whole can into the center of the cobbler. You can also use other fruit. Blackberries make a lovely cobbler, too!

Professor Party (includes recipes!)

The Professor had his first birthday party yesterday. I know, I got out the calendar to make sure he was really one! It didn’t seem like it was time for this just yet. The Pastor assures me he was, indeed, born in June and is, in fact, a year old. He doesn’t seem like he’s a year old. I threw together a little shin-dig for his birthday. Old man themed, of course. The above is the invitation. (I took pictures, edited them on PicMonkey, uploaded them to Shutterfly, and then had them printed at the local drug store. Cost me all of $4 for all his invitations.) Cute, huh?

I read on this blog about turning Frappuccino bottles into glass milk bottles. (Removing the labels and date stamps.) It was pretty easy to get them nice and pretty. I found the paper straw on Amazon. I found the candy cigarettes at a small gas station in south Mississippi when we were coming back from a week at the beach. I made the little chalkboards myself. I painted my red, white, and blue party jugs to match. You can sort of see the stamp on the paper in one of the pictures above. I had it made for Ransom by Asspocket Productions. If you don’t have your own book stamp or family book stamp, you need to contact Asspocket and let Stacey make you one. I plan to get one for each child in addition to the family one we already have from her.

I made a few burlap bows. I was hoping to find burlap ribbon, which does exist, but the store I went to did not have. Instead, I bought 3 yards of burlap and cut it into 3″-4″ strips. I then used those strips to make the bows. This bow is one strip (3″ x 3 yards) with a small piece cut to tie the center. I made bigger bows for the door and mailbox. (Our neighbor decided to have a yard sale the same day as the party. They marked their mailbox with balloons. We had more than one yard saler coming up our driveway only to realize ours was not the yard sale. Fun times.)

Now, for the recipes. I decided I wanted something different than cupcakes. I’m a horrible cake decorator. Perhaps I’ll take a class one day and get better at that, but currently I’m the person who makes great tasting cakes that look terrible. I usually stick to cupcakes for that reason. I decided the party theme leant itself to something a little different. I opted to make mini bundt cakes! I got two different mini bundt pans. One from Target (made by Nordic Ware), that didn’t have deep holes and the pan really, really browned the little cakes. The other from Joann’s (made by Wilton) that made the perfect  mini bundt with a hole almost completely through. The cakes are Blue Ribbon PoundCake with Chocolate Ganache. They were tasty.

Blue Ribbon Pound Cake

2 cups butter

6 eggs

1 t baking powder

1 cup milk

1 t nutmeg

3 cups sugar

4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 t salt

1 t vanilla or lemon extract

I figure you know what to do with that. Mine made about 2.5 dozen mini-bundt cakes per batch. I used vanilla, but next time I make this, I’ll be using Fiori de Sicilia.

Chocolate Ganache

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

3-4 bars of good dark chocolate

The trick to great ganache is great chocolate. If you use cheap chocolate, you’ll get ugh ganache. Use great chocolate for impressive ganache. I used SweetRiot 70% chocolate bars.  Chop the chocolate into smallish pieces, heat the cream in a pan, stir in the chocolate small amounts at a time. NEVER STOP STIRRING! You cannot multi-task while making ganache. You have to give it all your attention for the few minutes it takes to make. Funnel it into a squirt bottle and then use the squirt bottle to squirt it onto your cakes, cookies, whatever.

I got cute little mustache cookie cutters and made these adorable little cookies.I also found a sugar, chocolate, and coffee bean grinder at Trader Joe’s to top these simple chocolate cookies. I edited a recipe that I had for chocolate cookie dough with less baking powder to create less lift so the shape would stay in these cookies. I am usually a tea cake kind of girl, but I went with a classic chocolate cookie for this one.

Chocolate Cookie Cutter Cookies

2.25 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

1 cup butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

2 eggs

1 T vanilla extract

1 small bar of dark chocolate, shaved

You can shave the chocolate with a cheese grate or you can put it in your blender or food processor and chop the devil out of it. Either way works. You just don’t want chunks of it in your cookies. Just shavings. You know how to mix this. Add the cocoa as your first dry ingredient. Roll them out of some flour or cocoa and use your cookie cutters to cut them out. If you want the sugar to really stick, take the white of one egg, beat it, then brush it over the top of each cookie before sprinkling with sugar. (And sugar before baking.)