Monday, April 29, 2013

Banana Walnut Cookie Cake

One more while I'm on the banana bandwagon, OK?
I made this one a while back & just haven't taken the time to share it with you fine folks.
Sorry for holding out such banana beautifulness.

You know what sets this recipe apart from the others?
You bake it in an iron skillet!
And you and I both know anything baked in an iron skillet is better, right?!
Hats off to all the iron skillets in the world.

This neat dessert is easy to pull together & will make you look like a rock star in the kitchen.
And if you decide to share this banana cookie cake at a pitch-in, 
every one's going to want a piece of whatever is in that iron skillet ;) 

Let me tell ya, this is sooo yummy.
Kinda like a cookie ... kinda like a cake.
You can have your cake & eat your cookie too.
Oh yea ... it's a win-win.

Here are the ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ripe banana (mashed)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chunks
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Here is how you put it together:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter in an 8-inch cast iron skillet over medium-low heat.  
Stir in sugar.
Remove from heat & add in vanilla, whisking until thoroughly combined.  
Allow mixture to stand and cool for about 5 minutes.  
If the mixture is hot when the eggs goes in, they will cook & you do not want that.
Add the egg and whisk together until smooth.  
Next add banana and cinnamon and stir to combine.
Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated.  
Lastly, add the chocolate and walnuts and fold together.
Spread mixture in the skillet & place in the oven.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until mixture is dry on top, but still slightly soft in the center.  
Test doneness with a toothpick.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.  

This is a comfort dessert at it's finest.

Top with ice cream and serve warm. 
Leftovers can be kept for two days, well wrapped, at room temperature.  

And you'll forgive me for my not-so-great photos ... 
the light at supper time isn't the best for getting decent shots.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Gunnar's Raised Bed Garden

Tell me Mr. Gunnar ... how does your garden grow?

From the looks of it, it's ganna grow just fine ... just fine indeed.

Meet new gardener, Gunnar~


He decided, on a whim, to build a raised bed garden.
It was a warm evening a couple weeks ago & we'd just finished supper.
He announced that since it was nice out & he had some free time that evening
that he was going to run to Lowe's & pick up the supplies to build a raised bed.

We've talked back & forth, as long as we've ever lived in this house, how we miss our garden.
Fortunately, we've been blessed to have one in every home we've lived in til this house.
James & the boys have even planted a garden at various properties, but it's hard
to keep up on those when you have to drive a ways to get to the garden.
It's just not as convenient as having one in your own backyard.
Garrett planted on last year at a church property & we enjoyed the harvest all summer long.
However, they didn't offer the space for planting this year.

While we were happy & on board with the whole project, 
James & I didn't think Gunnar would have enough time that evening to plan, 
measure, drive to Lowe's to get the supplies, & build the bed, all in a couple hours time.
But that's precisely what he did!
He showed us ;)
Course, it was perfect timing that his friend, Eric showed up just as he got home 
with the wood.

And in no time at all, here's what they built!
{I forgot to snap a pic before it was filled with dirt.}

The next evening, Gunnar called up Grandpa Alexander & off they went to haul in dirt.
Then, to the fun part ... planting!

With Grandpa's advice on what to plant when, he started a variety of lettuce, 
cilantro, dill, & green onions.

In a few weeks, he'll plant the tomatoes & pepper plants ... & whatever else he decides.

We are so proud of Gunnar building this little raised bed garden.
He is quite excited to be able to go out the backdoor & pick the produce that he grew himself.
Can't get much more fresh than that!

As for me, well, I'm watching my boys turn into men right before my own eyes.

He planned & carried out this whole project on his own. 

I am so grateful for the blessing they are to our family. 


Monday    The Hankful House     Make It Yourself Monday        The Better Mom
Tuesday    Domestically Divine     A Bowl Full of Lemons    Titus Tuesday      A Stroll Through Life
Wednesday   Raising Homemakers        Savvy Southern Style         Adorned From Above
                   Women Living Well    Southern Lovely     The Thrifty Home
Friday    Happy-Go-Lucky     The Thrifty Groove      Farm Blog Hop
Sunday  Suburbsmama    Sew Many Ways

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Banana Rum Coffee Cake

Banana-wana-fo-fana   Fe-fi-bo-bana ... Banana!

Any banana fans out there?

I like bananas.

plain ol' Chiquita
fresh banana cheesecake {my fave from Cheesecake Factory}
banana nut bread
banana cake
bananas foster
banana split muffins
banana split cake
banana splits ...
you see the pattern.

And it forevermore seems I am looking for a new & inventive way to use ripe bananas.
Not that the go-to banana bread recipe isn't cutting it, cause it still is ...
but every now & again, I just wanna bake something else!
Ya know, mix it up a little.

Last night, I turned to a cookbook given to me by a friend & found this recipe.
I had all the ingredients & put this together lickity split!

The guys raved.
{It's so fun to cook for them.}

I adjusted it a teeeeny bit.
Instead of adding vanilla extract, I added rum extract ... thus the fun new name!
It went from Banana Coffee Cake to Banana RUM Coffee Cake.
Definitely bumps up the fun factor a notch, huh?!
That & it made the hubs happy ... he's a fan of rum flavoring.

So here's the recipe, found in my Taste of Home Baking Cookbook:

Banana Rum Coffee Cake

1   8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas {2-3 medium}
1 tsp. rum extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, & sugar until blended.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add bananas & rum.
Combine the flour, baking powder, & soda.
Gradually add to the creamed mixture.
Combine topping ingredients; stir half into batter.

Transfer to a greased 13x9 baking pan.
Sprinkle with remaining topping.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or til toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.

12-15 servings.

Here's an up-close of that yummy pecan topping.

Go ahead ... bake up this coffee cake this weekend.
It'll make your cup of coffee a great companion ... & the men in your life will love you =)

linking to Savvy Southern Style & other great parties ~see buttons in sidebar

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

March Was Successful-ish Because:

Well, this is a LATE March accountability post.
Good grief ... it's nearly time to post the one for April.

Truthfully, I've been dragging my feet in putting this one out there
cause I've got no real brags to share.
I'm sad.

The high point in the month of March was James reaching a 30 lb loss
AND I hit my 20 lb loss!
Yes, we were completely excited!
We hit those numbers at the 11 week mark.
Not bad ... not bad at all.

Another cool thing, I bought a blouse in January with some birthday money.
It was a bit snug, but I decided to keep it & aim to lose into it by Easter ...
And I did!
I wore it Easter Sunday & was proud of that achievement.

The rest of the month, unfortunately, there was no more excitement.

See, I've plateaued.
James, not so much ... he's losing inches like nobody's
He lost out of bigger clothes & into smaller clothes.
He is doing soooo well.

I just can't seem to lose.
I've bounced back & forth 2 lbs for weeks now.

I've not been exercising like I had been & not counting calories as closely as before.
I've had a couple weeks of just kind of forgetting about my plan.
Yea, I enjoyed eating what I wanted...
BUT I did NOT enjoy how I felt ... physically, mentally ... just felt cruddy.

So, the lesson I've learned more times than I can count took it's rightful place
at the forefront of my mind again.
Right where it belongs.

See, a right decision begets a right decision {& vice versa}.
With every right food choice, every walk on the treadmill, you gain strength, resolve, & belief!
It makes you want to eat the right thing again & walk on the treadmill again.

That's the track I've got to stay in.

I am happy to report that I'm back on track.
I'm food journaling my calories, bike-riding, walking on the treadmill & around the neighborhood.
I've even up-ed the incline in the treadmill & that's a good accomplishment.

So, my hope is that for my April accountability post, I'll be able to share another loss.
And maybe, just maybe, I'll be sharing a comparison pic soon.
Here's one for James.
Pic on left:  taken in Dec. 2012   -- pic on right:  taken April19, 2013
30 lb loss!

OK ... I'll share a face comparison pic ... I think that's where mine shows up first.
Pic on left:  taken May 2012    --  pic on right:  taken end of March 2013

Here's to getting healthy {& skinny} =)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

School year almost over ...already?! it just me or is this year slipping by pretty quickly?
Course, the cold & snow seemed to drag on & on, but in reality, it's mid-April already!

This time last year, on this very day, we were on a cruise ... our whole family on our 1st cruise.
We visited New Orleans for a few days & then sailed away to Mexico.
We had such fun & made many memories we'll treasure always.

When we came home, it was straight into the last minute details preparing for Garrett & Gunnar's
graduation from high school & their celebration open house.

It's hard to believe one whole year has passed by.

This brings me to the whole point with this blog post:
I just wrote out our final lessons for this school year!
Riley & I have schooled all by ourselves this year.
We knew it would be an adjustment, just the two of us minus the twin brothers ...
but we have managed just fine ... plenty of one-on-one time & I loved it.
It's hard for this homeschooling momma to believe that my last boy is almost finished
with his sophomore year!

Riley has done a great job this year.
He's a very independent worker, hardly ever asking for help.
I'm most proud of his work this year in Algebra.
Some just have a knack for it.
He does ... I don't.
Works well for the teacher ;)

Here's what he's spent his year learning:
{I always intend to make a post like this at the beginning of the year, but usually don't get around to it}

We switched from ACE English this year to Rod & Staff.
Riley had been in ACE English since the beginning & had done well with it.
Garrett & Gunnar had used R & S for several years.
{ACE is repetitive learning & it provided a great foundation for Riley & his style of learning,
however, we were ready to move on ... he's really enjoyed the change.}

We've done Apologia Physical Science this year & it's been fun ...lots of experiments.

First semester, Riley did Personal Help for Boys.
We loved this book.
It teaches character traits geared toward boys.
Second semester, we started Balancing the Sword by Allan Wolfe.
It's a super Bible curriculum ... very thorough.
He'll get about 1/3 of the way through this book before the end of the school year.
We'll pick up again in the fall {& we also have Book 2}.

Since we began homeschooling, we've used Total Language Plus for Language Arts/Reading.
Rifles for Watie is what we are currently doing.
It's a great story set during Civil War times.
Much of Riley's History this year has been right along these lines.
{I built my own History this year, using a variety of resources.}

First semester, we did The Call of the Wild.
I read the book aloud for the two of us, rather than assigning Riley to read it.
I found out many years ago that this works best for us.
As for his daily reading, he has assigned Bible reading & pleasure reading from an approved book
of his choice.

Another standard here is Math-U-See.
We've used it from the start.

In addition to these subjects, Riley has worked on & off with his dad & brothers on various job sites
& is becoming quite skilled in the tile trade.
He also spends much time in the gym &  loves to jog, skateboard, & play basketball.
These will count as credit hours in Industrial Arts & Physical Education.

I don't blog often about our wonderful homeschooling adventures, but if I had a penny for every time
I've shared, emailed, talked, advised on the subject, I'd be a wealthy woman.
It's something I believe in with my whole heart & I'm a huge advocate for it.
I never in a million years thought I'd be a homeschool mom, but I can say, hands down,
it's the most rewarding thing I have ever, ever done.
Not only that, it's one of the best gifts we've ever given our children.
God has been my daily help & sustainer.

You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Deuteronomy 11:9

Monday, April 15, 2013

Easy Burlap Pennant Banner

Don't you just love all the versions & varieties of the little pennant banners that are all over the place?
I know I do.
I probably have 10 or more pinned on Pinterest.

I knew when I put together my spring arrangements that a banner was a must-have.
I wanted a very simple burlap one.
Here's how quick & easy it was.

I decided on the size pendants I wanted & I cut out a stack of them.
Super cinchy to cut out triangles.
A kindergartner could do it.

I gathered a piece of twine ... have I mentioned how much I love twine?
Twine & burlap.
They go together like wine & roses ... or cheese & crackers.
Guess it depends on how romantical you wanna get ;)

I ran a strip of hot glue at the top of the pennant & placed the twine right smack-dab in it.

My handy-dandy hot glue gun busy at work again.
Don't know what I'd do without that thing.

My work station:  the floor.
The old pink book doubling as a glue gun stand:  an upcoming project.
I'm ganna use the pages to make something oh so tre` chic ;)

I decided not to fold the burlap over the twine because that side will always face the wall anyhow.
So, I just patiently waited for it to dry before I moved it.

Couldn't be any simpler ... or sweeter.

I just love how whimsical it is.

Every old chippy window should be accessorized with burlap & twine, huh?!

 Doesn't take much to make me smile.

Hope your Monday is filled with a little whimsy & a lot of smiles.

Partying here & there:
Savvy Southern Style , The Hankful House

Friday, April 12, 2013

Our Family Tree

Well, confession time.
I didn't fix the hanging wreath & no candles have been found for the candelier just yet.
So, as I said, I'll divert & continue showing you my pantle, in parts.
In case you missed yesterday's post, here was the 'teaser' pic to bring us to today's post:

See that little face behind No. 98?
Well, I proudly present our family tree!


Isn't this just adorable?
My sweet friend gave this to me for my birthday ...
and best of all, she made the whole thing.
She painted on the tree, attached the muslin to a wooden frame, & put all our faces on there
in those perfect little frames.
What's not to love?!
You can guarantee that this will be a displayed treasure for years to come.
Stacy is in a league of her own when it comes to gift-giving, let me tell ya.
Thoughtful with a capital T!

It's nestled between Mr. Chippy Owl & No. 98 ... in good company.

Oops ... don't look to close now ... you'll see where my candles are missing ;)
I thought I'd cropped that out.
Ah well...maybe I just had my 'keeping it real' moment after all.

Tomorrow, I'll have to tell ya about my cute little burlap pendant banner.

Partying here & there:
Savvy Southern Style

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My PANTLE, in parts.

I've heard to be respected in blogland that it's all about keeping it 'real'.
I understand that thought process, in regards to making sure you don't present your life
as waaaay too perfect & in essence, alienating all the 'normal' folks whose lives are sometimes
messy, unscripted, & one turn short of a roller coaster ride.
I get it.

Buuuut, that being said, I will confess ... I do not like posting pics of a messy house,
unfinished projects, or the topsy-turvy that is as real in my world as it is in anyone else's world.
It's kinda like looking at a magazine.
Would you pick up Better Homes & Gardens & expect to see a half-finished project
or a room that's in disarray?
Uh ...naaah.

Of course all homes are messy from time to time.
Of course there are unfinished/on-going projects ...
{around here lately, way to many for my comfort zone.
I always seem to be waaay over-ambitious in this area.}

I just don't want to post pics of those things.
Now, please don't think I'm passing judgment if you do!
Believe me, nothing annoys me more than a social media/blog 'police'.
By all means, post as many pics of your messy home as you want ;)

The point I'm trying to make, in my usual fashion of saying a lot just to say a little, is...
because of the way I choose to blog, I don't get on as many posts as others cause it seems to take
me a while to finally get all my projects completed.
Seems like there's always just one more thing to do ... or to buy ... or to make.

For instance, I've wanted to show you my 'PANTLE' for a few weeks now,
but I just can't seem to finish 2 things!
One, I can't find the right size round candles for my candelier.
Two, I can't seem to figure out how to hang my wreath to suit me.

I could post pics of it as is ...ya know, missing candles & awkward hanging wreath,
but see, that's just not how I roll.
It bugs me enough as it is ...why would I want to subject you to it?! ;)
See, I'm doing you a favor.
That's what it is ;)

So, until it's finished & I can show you the whole 'Ta-da', I'll show you snippets.
That'll work, right?

This little owl pretty much steals the show, right?!

The chippy window frame, the chippy wire basket, the chippy owl ... ahh ... what's not to love?
Are you picking up on the fact that I'm a chippy fanatic?
What gave me away?
And for the green tulips ... I seriously set out to find green tulips not knowing if I'd find them.
I nearly did a happy dance in the store when I did.

Meet No. 98.
He found his way into my cart at TJ Maxx.
It has a square glass jar inside for a candle to sit in.
Adorbs, huh?

And tomorrow, if by chance I haven't found candles or properly displayed my wreath,
I'll divert again & show you another favorite thing on my PANTLE.
See the little faces in the little frames right behind No. 98?
Wait til you see that!

Partying here & there:
Savvy Southern Style

Thursday, April 4, 2013

He Makes All Things Beautiful in His Time

Hello friends in blogland =)
Hopefully it's warmed up some in your neck of the woods.
It's getting here ... slooooowly, but surely.
Course, some of you live in sunny, warm Florida & California...
 & have already been posting about planting your flowers!
Then again, another blogger I follow lives in Alaska.
Safe in saying, she's not planting just yet.
Ahhh....the beauty of the blogosphere.
I get to 'visit' all around the good ol' US of A.

I thought I'd just update a bit today on what's been going on around the Pennington place.

I shared a while back that I was doing a whole house overhaul.
I've worked at it nearly every single day & I am glad to announce 
that I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
I'll be sooo happy for that not to be my first thought of the morning.

I'll have to admit though, in the midst of all the work ...
the redecorating, the cleaning out  of closets & the garage, the purging, etc...
in the enormity of the job, I've gotten grumpy.  
So much stuff, so much work.  
I even said the word 'hate' ...twice ... and that's a word I do not use!
And I knew I'd reached rock bottom when I asked James if he'd hire someone 
to come finish the last job ... clean & organize our bedroom & master closets.
Course, I was only joking ... wasn't I??!

I've complained about why I've held on to 'stuff' that I should've gotten rid of years ago.
I've been frustrated that we have only a garage for storage ... no barn, no attic, no basement.
And as much as I love my home, I've nit-picked about all the things that I'd love to change: 

-rip out allllll carpet & install hardwoods
-get new furniture  {I could literally sell almost every piece of my furniture & not be sad about}
-replace light fixtures in all rooms that haven't been already replaced
-new counter tops
-paint my kitchen cabinets
-complete re-do of Jack-n-Jill bath


I am happy to report though, that this morning, 
God used a couple sweet bloggers to give me the reminder that I so needed.

The opposite of my little dilemma would be:

-no house to redecorate
-no clothes to clean out of the closet
-no 'memories' to store in totes in the garage
-no items to donate to Goodwill.  

You see, I've been abundantly blessed ... a hundred times over.

So, as I mark off the final few things on my multiple to-do lists, 
I'll do it with a renewed heart of gratefulness.
My bedroom, where everything has landed that needs to be finished, will be a joyous chore.
Ok ... I think that's pushing it a bit.
It may not be a joyous activity, but I promise, it will not be done with a complaint.

And once more I'll repeat to myself my theme scripture 
that I've loved throughout this process:

"He has made everything beautiful in its time."
Ecclesiastes 3:11

He really does, doesn't He?
As I'm attempting to make our home beautiful, He's making me beautiful ...
my heart, my mind, my spirit.

Monday, April 1, 2013

My Favorite Spring Vignette

Wasn't yesterday, Easter, a glorious day?
Any day, everyday, is a celebration in the life of a believer.
Easter Sunday, however, is a celebration in over-drive!
What a way to officially kick off 'spring'!
New life & hope springs anew ... & it almost seems to give that 'blank slate' kind of feeling.
A fresh start to life ... an opportunity to begin again with expectations of growth & renewal.
Ahhhh....makes me want to breathe in deep.

Well, I gave you a little teaser on Saturday of my favorite spring vignette.
And I said I'd post about it on Sunday, but amidst all the festivities, I just didn't make it back.
Forgive me, won't you?

This makes me smile.
So colorful & fresh.

I just bought the pitcher a few weeks ago ... from Goodwill {$5.99}.
It still has the Kohl's price tag on the bottom.
The little nests are from Christmas Tree Shoppes & I've gotten several years use out of them.

Nestled in the yellow-flowered branches is this darling burlap egg.
This just sets it off ... a Hobby Lobby find for super cheap.

 And hanging on the lamp post, keeping guard over the birdie eggs, is this sweet bunny.

Now, if I'd only remembered to remove the zebra-print button off the table before I took the pic;)

Hope spring has sprung in your home, but more importantly in your life.
Enjoy it ... smile ... smell the flowers.

 He has made everything beautiful in its time.
 Ecclesiastes 3:11

Partying at Savvy Southern Style
& a few other fabulous places {see blog buttons on the right side}.