Monday, February 28, 2011


What is it like to gain another candle on your birthday cake?
Some people dread it, some dream about it, and others are just ho-hum about it. I don't know how I feel about being's just a number, I suppose. My grandmother was an older mom (started at 39), and I always loved her perspective on age..."Honey, you're not an old woman until you're 90." I think she got that little saying from her mom who, incidentally, I believe was 90 at one point. Mama made it to 89, so I guess she was never really OLD. :)
My birthday was on Thursday this year, a L-O-N-G day that started with a project due at 8am, classes from 8--3pm and work until 11pm. Needless to say, birthday wasn't inserted too much into the day. But messages and phonecalls from friends were so appreciated, as well as a few gifts, too. I came home at 11:15 or so to find candles, flowers, a balloon, Norah Jones (one of my faves) playing, and a lovely chocolate fudge cake for 2 in our den. It was the sweetest ending to a very long day. (Thanks, Matt!)

So how do you celebrate that extra candle? Do you embrace it? Why not? You have to turn 27 or 44 or 69 once, or else you wouldn't be so alive. It's a gift, and my prayer is that we just embrace aging and live it up. Happy Monday morning to you.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Simply Fabulous Lunch!!

 How about one more entry, shall we?

Sundays are such wonderful days for relaxing, my weekend right now. Growing up, Sundays used to be fun but a bit stressful...WAKE UP, LAUREL! CHURCH!! (Oh, Mom, I'm 15...almost an ADULT...I can just sleep in a little more and--someday--drive myself to church.) LAUREL! I made chocolate chip pancakes!! And bacon and eggs! (Dad, that's my favorite! But I also love sleep...and I hung out with my girl friends too late last night at Kendra's house. Man, I wish we lived closer to church...but that's a sketchy neighborhood. Well, I wish church would move closer to us, you know, the 90-year old building. Could they just pick it up on a big truck and move it to our neighborhood out here in the 'burbs?? I just need 5 more minutes of sleeeep...) Lau-RUHL! We need to go! (Fine! I'm getting up! But not for you guys who are nagging me, but for God. Yep, God. And my friends. What should I wear? I HAVE TO look cute for church! Hmmm....) *45 minutes later and definitely late for Sunday school* (Finally, I look cute enough. Mom, Dad, could you guys drive? I need to put on my makeup.)

And so the saga continued...and school days were pretty similar, too, since we commuted to my school as well. Heh, needless to say, this Sunday was relaxing. I woke up at noon (yes, I know...) and definitely missed church (sad). I saw God today, just not inside two big wooden double doors and through beautiful stained glass and joyful singing. That's okay for today. Next Sunday.

Here is one of those unexpectedly tasty lunches. I love soup and sammies more than many, and Matt and I whipped up BLTs (me=BL with extra L) and Pacific Foods Ginger Carrot soup. Yum!

Soup and sammies are great for dinner, too!

Applewood smoked bacon...
 If I'm going to eat a fatty meat like bacon, I'm going to do it up...thick slices of salty/sweet applewood smoked bacon, crisp green spinach leaves and a spicy mayo added to the tastiness. Oh, yes, and always toast the bread! (whole wheat, of course)
A favorite quick dressing for quite a few soupy puddle at the bottom of your salad bowl.

 I added a salad and had just a bit of soup...what a filling, healthy meal! Fresh blackberries and blueberries completed my fruit quota for the day!!
 When you regularly buy produce (some standards, like a bag of spinach, some apples, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, etc., it's easier to just throw them into your regular meals. It's a great way to incorporate those new FDA standards...half produce!!

Memoir Munchies: Valentine...

Memoir Munchies: Valentine...


"St. Valentine" overseeing construction of his basilica
St. Valentine...was his message a myth or a mantra? Can we ever show ultimate love?

Either way, I do love this holiday.

From elementary school crushes and paper valentines with Barbie or Transformers...

Middle school awkward dances and hand-delivered roses and balloons...

To grown-up feelings and intuition that forces us to make our move...

Some people HATE the commercialized, Hallmark-ified, Hershey's-drowning day. *YES!* It's a day that America has poured chocolate syrup on, wrapped in a gigantic red 'new Lexus' bow, but you know what? It's still a great idea! I only wish spending a day around the theme of love is each and every day. (Maybe that will be an issue on the next voters' ballot...)
 Romantic business aside, I love this day for all types of loving friendships and relationships. My heart goes out to the lonely on this day, and I hope they know that I am thinking of them and hope God brings them comfort, especially on this day. We can all find things to be thankful for and people/puppies that we love.
Now on to our evening...
$3! Shhh, it's a hostess' secret.
So haircut and de-bearding!
Matt and I celebrated the end of the day with a little sushi and some good old-fashioned time together.
We had plans to MAKE sushi, but a long day at work meant we ordered a tray of FRESH spicy tuna, shrimp, crab and salmon sushi! $15! I couldn't believe it.
 For a bit of sweet, Matt picked up some chocolate covered strawberries, and we still had some cake pops to devour.
Sometimes the best things we can do is just sit and relax, enjoying time together and not really "doing" anything! I thank God (and Pat, my mother-in-law) for such an amazing man to be my life partner and best friend. Happy Valentine's to all! (each and every day!!)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cake Pops!

Okay, I officially have a new love...

I got this cookbook last week,in hopes of making some for my mom's birthday (Feb. 5th). Angie Dudley is a self-proclaimed "non-baker," and--thinking of all of my kitchen disaster incidents--her book intrigued me. The ideas were so cute and basic enough to try it myself, so I did.

Here's how they turned out....

Cupcake Pops, purple and pink dipped in mint chocolate

Mom's nickname at work, "The Payroll Queen," made its royal debut in dessert form. Aren't they cute?
 They are such a blast to make! It's pretty simple...

1) Bake a cake (from a mix is fine, just follow the directions), any flavor, in a 8X12 (or so) baking pan.

2) After cake is cooled, cut into 8 squares. Over a large mixing bowl, pick up 2 squares and rub them together. You are "crumbling" the entire cake into the smallest pieces possible.

3) Once the crumbling is complete for the entire cake, add 12 oz. of frosting to the cake. Mix it in using the back of a metal or wooden spoon. (The book is NOT use the entire 16 oz can of frosting...the mixture will be TOO moist!) Mix together until it all becomes a moist bowl of cake happiness. Taste this, but don't eat it all!

4) Now put the cake in the fridge for 2 hours or freezer for 20 minutes.

5) Roll chilled cake into balls, about 1--1 1/2 inches in size. If they are not sticking together, put the cake back into the fridge to cool some more. Place the balls onto a cookie sheet lines with wax paper.
6) You can make the oh-so-tasty cake balls at this step, heating candy melts (like Wilton) in a deep microwavable bowl. Stir in between 30 second increments. A 1/2 pound batch (1/2 bag) should take about 3 minutes in the microwave to completely melt. 

7) Using 2 small spoons, dip/immerse the cake ball into the melted candy (I used dark chocolate mint) and juggle the ball between the spoons to drip off the excess candy.

8) Cool on wax paper for a few minutes. Eat! There are a million ways to decorate them, and it gets a bit complicated from there. However, this is TOTALLY worth 2 hours of your life!! I loved it, and I think my mom enjoyed the package she received for her b-day. 
I have so many ideas for using these cake balls for Cake Pops!...but some of you might be receiving those as gifts, so I shan't post it here. 

Happy Baking!