Thursday, January 14, 2016

Cozy Peanut Butter Bread on a Chilly Winter's Morn


Well hello there, new year! 

The strangely warm December weather has finally gone and Jack Frost has found his way back to winter in the bluegrass state, and I'm not the least bit disappointed!  Winter should be cold, but especially when there are new sweaters and scarves to be worn!  Am I right?

Today is a school morning for the children which leaves me a little time to either be productive around the house or indulge in a little "refreshing" time to myself.  I ere on the side of introvert so I tend to refuel by myself.  (Although I love being with my family and friends more than anything on earth!)  There is something almost healing to me about after a hectic morning getting the kids ready, myself and running to schools, to  just unwind in the peace and quiet of my home. To me, a cold morning needs a hot sipper to drink, some favorite music in the background and a good book to read!

This was one of those morning I decided a wintery style respite was in order!


Let me reflect for a moment, as the past weekend was a magical one!  It was our first snow in the new house and it was beautiful!!! There is nothing like snow to make this family's heart skip a beat for joy as we snug in with an extra pot of coffee.  The kids were relieved it wouldn't be a "spring-winter" after all when they woke up to a fresh blanket of snow on the ground.  Apparently God answered their little prayers! 


We also had a wonderful time spending with some of our dearest friends over amazing food and company that feels more like family!  I know without a doubt I couldn't be any richer if I had all the world's money, because I have what money can't buy in my treasure box of family and friends!!  God has blessed me with an overflowing cup of loving people in my life, but this man right here is as good as they come!


I just pulled a beautiful, warm loaf of peanut butter bread out of the oven and it....  Oh my! It smells absolutely divine in here!!  I just had to share this easy Paula Deen recipe with you.  It's the perfect snack with your favorite jam, especially when the air is cold outside and the fireplace is warm in your house!  Grab a few ingredients and make this delicious bread today!



This recipe couldn't be more simple yet anymore wonderful!

Peanut Butter Bread
Paula Deen

2 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. milk
Splash of vanilla (I added this.)
1/2 c. peanut butter


Preheat oven to 375 F.
Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the milk, vanilla and peanut butter and stir until well mixed.  Pour into a greased 8x4x3 in. loaf pan.  Bake for approximately 50 minutes.  Serve warm with jam or butter.




Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas in my Kitchen and A Delicious Sugar Cookie Icing Recipe


Today is finally cold again, beautiful outside, and I am definitely in the Christmas spirit and full of cheer!  I spent the afternoon in the kitchen making sugar cookies with delicious creamy icing for our son's Christmas party at school tomorrow.  As I was bustling around the kitchen with the sun streaming in and my Christmas music playing I had a cup of afternoon coffee to sip on and I really, really felt the joy of the Lord! 


The mixer whirred with icing and the aroma of warm sugar cookies fresh from the oven wafted around, when it hit me.....



I am baking Christmas cookies in my "dream" kitchen and back in the old stomping grounds of my hometown! 

The kitchen I've always wanted with plenty of cabinets, an island, subway tile backsplash, a well working oven, a French door fridge that I put to good use.

The kitchen with pretty paned windows of panoramic views that soar past our property.

The kitchen my family will make some of their most cherished memories in over the years!



I've always liked my cozy little bitty kitchens (some much smaller than others) but I've dreamed of one big enough to dance around in and share with my family.  


Here at Christmastime I have some of my favorite things--gingerbread, cookies, and even candies--adorning the counters, windows and sitting on the window seals all around.  I don't even have the time right now to snap pictures of nearly everything, but it feels magical!


Here's my "Cozy drink station" on the antique dry sink!  It's one of my favorite spots in the kitchen right now! 


Chai tea, hot chocolate, French press coffee anyone?


Now let me share something special with you.

See that picture below?  It's a very iconic one of my childhood!  It's me as a little bitty girl baking gingerbread boy cookies at my Grandmother's house.  I was proudly holding up a big dough ball while wearing pjs, an apron and my cabbage patch slippers!  At the time we were living out West and that very morning we were going to fly back after spending the holiday here.  My Grandmother ran around to get everything out for me and her to make gingerbread boys together before I left with my parents for the airport... What a memory I hold dear!!!


 
I've always liked this sweet kitchen tree I put up on the counter every Christmas.  I have some of my favorite ornaments hung on here.  The gingerbread house one is one of the oldest  ornaments I must have bought in our first year of marriage and the copper pot is the newest addition this year from Cracker Barrel.  It's a treat looking for ornaments for this tree, but it looks like in a couple years I'll need to get a bigger tree, because this little one is packed!  :)




As you can tell I'm not a conservative Christmas decorator, especially in the kitchen.  My counters are full (!) but it's cheery and fun to have such whimsical things placed around.  I love it as much as the kids do, but I consider myself a kid at heart. 

Now onto the cookies... Let me tell you about this yummy sugar cookie frosting I'm making!  It's made with butter and cream cheese which lends itself to the best of both worlds of flavor and consistency.  The original recipe calls for vanilla extract, but I added both vanilla and almond because I've always thought the almond flavor in particular is delicious in frosting.  It reminds me of a really good wedding cake!  One of the best parts of this icing is that it comes together quickly and easily!




I just used a bag of Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix for the cookies and refrigerated the dough for about 2 hours before rolling it out.  It made the whole process faster, and as a mom of littles that counts for a lot. 


I surprised the kids after they woke up with freshly cooled cookies, frosting and sprinkles to decorate a few cookies for our family.  They were thrilled and had a ball making them over the top full with everything!!  (And of course sneaking in several licks:)  It was really a precious moment and a tradition that I'm passing down from my childhood.


These cookies are scrumptious with a frosty glass of milk and taste better when reading a favorite Christmas book, of course!  Can you tell which cookies the kiddos made?? :)


I just had to pop in and let you in on my little magical moment before it all too quickly passing on to a memory.  I'm all about cherishing the moments that matter!

Happy Baking!!

Creamy Sugar Cookie Icing

1/4 c. butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp. real vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 c. powdered sugar
2 tbsp. milk or cream

In a large bowl, mix together the butter and cream cheese until creamed and smooth.  Add the extracts until combined.  Next, put the mixer on low and in intervals add the powdered sugar and milk, ending in the sugar until you get the right consistency.  I wanted mine on the thicker side since I was using it to frost cookies.  Once it's mixed turn up the mixer to med-high and beat it for about a minute to fluff it up! Frost cookies after they are completely cool and let the icing slightly harden before covering cookies or eat them right away!  This will frost about 3 dozen cookies.  Store leftover frosting in a well sealed bag in the fridge for 3 days.

This recipe is one of Santa's favorites!! *wink


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Welcome to my Christmas Home

Welcome!



Come in from the cold air and warm up with a cup of wassail!  I'll show you around...  

(Please keep in mind I'm a real person not a designer and you'll see toys here and there because I have a 4 and 5 year old.  If I'm going to keep blogging, you have to be good with the imperfections, because it's real life!)


It's always an old fashioned Christmas at our house.  The kind that I hope helps you imagine stepping back into Jo March's Orchard House with warm glow from the crackling fire to warm up by and a bustling of children.


Perhaps you feel the joyful merriment of Fred's house from A Christmas Carol!  


A home that's filled with the simple pleasures of a joyful Christmas with laughter and a pot of Christmas wassail simmering on the stove.


As you know I love having antiques in our home here and there.  The look of old and new coming together is so timeless to me.  


For Christmas I use lots of woodsy greenery, but especially now since we're living in the country again.  If you're new here, we moved into our home back in the summer. We have a beautiful view of woods, fields and even a horse farm from our windows!


I like candles and weathered pieces like these old windows that add a sense of age and character, but our family's pictures around and the children's homemade ornaments are really what makes my house our home!


Cotton and bells.


Berries, burlap and pinecones.


My husband helped me by putting up garland on the banister with an old fashioned looking holly ribbon intertwining through it.  He is definitely a man of many talents!  He also picked out the gorgeous live evergreen wreath for the door, and I love it!!


Since those pictures above I decided to embellish the banister even more.  I cut sizable sprigs from our holly trees to add some fresh holly to the garland and liven it up!  It did just the trick!



 Next, I hung the stockings from the banister, looping through some of the sturdy evergreen sprigs to hold them in place.  I think it looks darling and whimsical, especially with the kid's bedroom upstairs they'll really enjoy seeing them going up and down!


Follow me into the living room.  This is truly one of the most festively adorned rooms in the house! 


As we step in on the natural maple hardwood floors you can find an oversized leather chair perfect to curl up in to read or even take a little nap.  This fair isle patterned throw is the softest and best blanket I've ever been under.  (It's by Martha Stewart and still available at Macy's.) It was a special gift from my husband last Christmas!  A home cannot have too many soft and cozy blankets!

The advent calender house is a wonderful tradition we've started with our children.  I get it down everyday (well, if we remember!) for them to open the charming doors and find a message or treat inside.  


We remind them the ultimate gift we have everyday...  Jesus coming to earth and dying on the cross for our sins (and arising 3 days later).  Doing so He gave us freedom from our sins and cleanses our heart.  He made a way for us to have an intimate relationship with Him on earth and a way to Heaven to live forever with Him!  All we do is surrender our lives to Him!  It's a free gift that we could never ever earn by being good, but only by accepting Him as our Lord and Savior!  God sent His Son because He LOVES us that much!!! (John 3:16 & 17)

It's hard to fathom but I serve a God who --no matter what I've done-- He runs to me!  He is in so love with me and I him, so I will worship Him for all my days!!  

It all goes back to Jesus, because it's a good reminder to the kids and myself that although sharing gifts are fun and festive it doesn't compare to sharing with others the gift of what Jesus Christ has done for them!!!  

He came to save us. It's the very reason we celebrate Christmas.


Our big tree is full of memories over the past 11 years of marriage and 3 years of parenting. We try to get ornaments wherever we travel to and for the big events in our lives.  Our family knows I love collecting ornaments and will also give us some from their travels!  Now several of the ornaments are homemade by our kids at school and use their sweet faces or handprints and of course they're the most cherished!

Lastly the kids add candy canes and we add a large plaid bow to the top to complete the homespun look I want.  I think it's beautiful placed next to the fireplace!


When we bought this house I just knew it would be a beautiful "Christmas" home!  


Especially with the colors we chose of grey walls in the living room and red in the family room, the Christmas decor pops.

See my baby girl over there? :)
  
These beautiful red shelves are a unique find we got at a wonderful furniture store named Feagans in Fredonia, Ky.  Turns out they're one of my favorite things in the room and the cozy chair completes a library type reading nook perfect for quiet moments.  Favorite books and pictures fill it out with some sweet festive touches this time of year.


Behind the chair is my "partridge in a pear tree".... Well minus the partridge (ha!). I need to find that bird!!  

Special Christmas memories adorn the shelves such as this homemade stocking filled with dried flowers.  We have kept this from our very first Christmas we were married.  Just about 6 weeks after our honeymoon we went to a special B & B, and the stocking was a gift on our bed from the owners.  What a magical time that little getaway was for us!



Our century old piano gets a lift with a faux garland of greenery and berries!  It just looks so old fashioned, decorated this way.  It doesn't have a great sound, nonetheless we love playing worship music and singing together almost every day.


Mr. Cozy plays the guitar as well, and we both absolutely love music so when we moved in we had no doubt the piano and guitar would be a focal point in our home!  We want a place friends and family can kick back and play themselves or we can sing and play together.  We want our home to exude peace and joy and warmth to all who enter!


Another view to give you from the other side of the room.  

This day I was getting the house cleaned and ready for a French themed Christmas dinner party!  I'll have to show you some pictures for that night soon!


So that's the nickel tour of our entryway and living room here at Christmastime! I hope you feel like you know my space a little better where I relax and do some of my blogging from.  It's always a pleasure for you to visit me here my blog!


From my cozy home to yours,
Merry Christmas!

"For unto you born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2:11