Thursday, April 17, 2014

Blueberry Coffee Cake

 

Nothing says, "Good Morning" like coffee cake, warm and fresh from the oven.  Throw a nice dollop of butter on the top of that baby and I am ready to get the day started!  With another holiday weekend coming fast, this is the perfect treat to bring to a brunch gathering.  I decided to make it for my TH before he headed back for a long work week, so I dug out the old recipe (not sure where it came from, but I knew it was good) and started cooking!


Ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sguar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 cup fresh/frozen blueberries
First up,  combine the "dry" ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and salt).


Next, whisk egg, milk and butter, then stir in with dry mixture.  Or if you are me, just throw it all in and hope for the best (thankfully, it all worked out juuuuuust fine).


Once the batter is nice and mixed, fold in the blueberries.


Once that it has become blueberry-i-fied, simply spread the batter out in a greased 9 inch pan and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.


While the oven heats up, start whipping up your scrumptious topping.

 Topping Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cold butter 
 To make the topping, first combine sugar, flour and cut in the cold butter until crumbly.



Next, sprinkle the topping over the batter.


Add the finishing touch by taking that last 1/2 cup of brown sugar and sprinkle it allllllll over the top.


With the topping in place, it's time to set the coffee cake in the oven and bake for 40 minutes or until the center is set (I always check using a toothpick and make sure it comes out clean).  Soon, you will have a delicious morning treat that is made even better with a cup of fresh fruit and heck, a mimosa!


So, if you are still looking for a last minute recipe, this one is not only quick to throw together but will also leave your house smelling amazing as your guests arrive.  Give it a try!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring into a Front Yard Makeover

 

Despite the love I once had for my front walkway, as time passed and my hydrangeas (across the yard) grew, I was starting to feel a bit imbalanced. So, after much pleading with my TH to help me tear out the majority of the old flowers, he finally gave in to my desires.  I wanted to go BIG with non rat attracting vines and pretty pops of flower color.  After a few visits to my buddy Vince in the garden department at Home Depot, I finally decided on the Bower Vine.


Since we were taking out five of the seven existing plants that didn't seem to be doing so hot, we decided to downsize and get only three vines, knowing that they would grow and fast.  That left us with two low lying lavender to add not only a different color to the mix but also a refreshing scent. We made our list (mulch, 3 large Bower Vines and plastic tabs that glued onto the stucco to help "shape" the vines.
 

First, we had to remove the existing river rocks in order to take out the old and bring in the new.  I sat my pregnant self on the ground, grabbed my gardening tool and started to get those rocks off the dirt.



With the rocks moved, my TH started to dig out the plants we were removing, mix the dirt a little and dug out holes for our new plants to live. Once the holes were deep enough, my TH gently removed the plants from their plastic shell and set them deep into their holes.  I took to adding in the surrounding dirt and making a nice little mulch bed for each plant.




With the mulch laid, it was time for me to create my rock "landing pad" which basically is a circle around the base of the plant (and mulch) made out of rocks.



Once the landing pad was laid, I took to slowly adding in the existing rocks around each plant.  As I worked on the rocks from my seated position, my TH took to gluing the tabs to the wall to help our vines grow.



While he meticulously patterned out the tabs, I kept working on those rocks.  Once he was done, he assisted me to get things moving (I tend to be rather slow these days).


With the rocks in place, the tabs drying, it was time to clean up the dirt mess that was all over the walkway.  But, I must say, so far it was looking VERY good!

What a mess!
Looking good!
With the large work out of the way, all we had to do now was let these vines free and see what we were workin' with. 

The vines unleashed!
With the vines excited to finally stretch, we took the ties, looped them in the plastic tab and prepared to help these "arms" stay growing up. Then, my TH took his fancy new saw thing and chopped down the piece of wood holding it up.


We delicately placed each part of the vine near the plastic tabs and made sure to tie them loosely so they wouldn't feel squished.  We moved through each of the three plants and before we knew it we were done! 


I was SO happy to finally see some balance between each side of my front yard and even more thankful that my TH helped add some curb appeal to our home.  Thank you TH!


Do you have any garden projects you want to get done this Spring?


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Make a Splash: Swimming and Kick Chats


Since my high intensity exercise days are behind me and my aching feet are making my daily walks less enjoyable, I was desperate to find something else to keep me busy.  Thankfully, my girl M. had a great pool and loved the idea of starting a new swim routine with me.  Since I have never been much of a swimmer (despite my years of teaching swim lessons, ironically) the only way I could think to start my new swim career was by "kick chatting".  My non-bio sister, KK's mom (my second mother), was a dedicated kick chatter and actually introduced me this lovely activity.  I decided this was where M. and I should start.  Thankfully she even agreed to continue the hunt for kick boards since I kept coming up empty handed.  After four stores, she finally snagged two for us, thanks M!


As soon as we got into the pool I felt great.  All the weight I gained just disappeared and I felt a little more like myself.  I decided I needed to take this glorious opportunity and kick it up a notch.  I took control of the workout and started us with a warm up, a nice jog in the shallow end.  I was immediately overcome with joy as I started doing high knees and kicking up my jog to more of a run/sprint.  Oh yeah!

After five minutes of high intensity running, we headed to the deep end for 5 minutes of "egg beater" water treading.  I wanted us to get those legs and arms moving!  After we had made some serious waves, it was back to the shallow end to grab our boards (catch our breath) and start out kick chat session.

 

We started with a nice 100 of flutter kick (a total of four pool lengths).  We did our best to make small talk while we did it, but I am no swimmer and was quickly out of breath and embracing the endorphins flowing through my body.

Next, we did a 100 of breast stroke (froggy kicks).  Then we did an additional 100 of breast stroke kicks, but this time alternating sides to get maximum work on both legs.  I made sure to remind M. (and myself) to keep those arms extended, abs engaged and legs straight and tight with toes pointed; we wanted to put in maximum work here!

Now that our legs were really on fire, it was time to get serious with a 100 of butterfly kicks (or mermaid kicks as I like to call them).  This is where it gets rather difficult since you have to keep your legs totally together and kick in one smooth motion.  Needless to say, this takes awhile, but ooooohhh how it burns so good!

We finished off with some backstroke kicking (which proved to be a bit trickier since the kick boards had to go above and behind our heads). But, we got the hang of it, soaked our hair and finished off another 100.

Since we were already fully in the water, we just decided to lose the kick boards and really push ourselves...we decided to just swim.  For some reason I do not have water lungs and free style literally leaves me breathless after one lap.  I took it slow and steady making sure to regulate my breathing (as to not interrupt the boys) and knocked out a 50 (two pool lengths). We then followed it up with a 50 breast stroke and a 50 backstroke.

We were a mere 5 minutes away from swimming an entire HOUR!  The time flew and I was feeling totally exhausted. We decided to end the workout with another short tread session, this time hands OUT of the water.  Oh yeah! This is what I was talking about, take THAT walking, there is a new workout in town baby...I was making a SPLASH!

We cooled down, made our way back to the shallow end and prepared to exit the pool.  Our hour long session had left us pretty tired (and burned a ton of calories!).  As we made our way out of the pool, I noticed my legs were like jelly..the same feeling I had when hopping off my spin bike after one of my crazy classes....I just about teared up with joy!



Thank you M. for the great opportunity, I am so excited to keep it going with you!  Are you a swimmer?  Do you love to kick up your water workouts too?  Have any tips for this non swimmer?





Monday, April 14, 2014

Make Your Mondays - April 14th


Em ended her Spring Break/cleaning marathon with knocking out her baby registry with the help of Nic (thank GOODNESS for her).  If it not for Nic, Em would have turned right around and walked out of the store, way too much stuff!  Since Em's TH was working all weekend, she was able to get in two early lunch dates with friends and get home early to rest! After Nic assisted Em with her baby registry, her and BK attended a friend's 30th birthday party. Sunday she spent the day out with her family, getting some overdue shopping in and having a tasty vegetarian lunch!



Thinking you can't do something won't get you anywhere.  Approach everything in you life from a place of, "I can".  I can run a bit farther, I can get this work finished tonight, I can be happy.  Whatever you think you can or can't do will become true.  So, believe in yourself and strive to be the best you possible.





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