Sunday, August 31, 2008

Chuckwagon Chili, Cowboy Cookies and Movies on the Beach

Last night Manhattan Beach hosted a "Movie on the Beach" night. On the marquee: Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. We decided that this would be a perfect way to bid farewell to summer, so we invited some friends to join us.

We made a big batch of chili and cornbread to take with us and cowboy cookies for dessert. I'm so glad we went - we had a blast! It was a beautiful evening and it was fun to watch the sunset before the movie started.

We weren't quite sure how they were going to show the movie...until the inflatable movie screen went up!

It was a wonderful evening at the beach - cool, but not cold; a bit breezy, but not too windy. All in all we decided this was a perfect way to spend a late summer evening and we'd definitely do this again in the future. Here's the recipe for the cookies:

(this is a recipe from Family Circle Magazine for First Lady, Laura Bush's Cowboy Cookies. They are Delish!)

Cowboy Cookies

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Bake Time: 17 to 20 minutes
Yield: About 3 dozen cookies


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon. baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened flake coconut
2 cups chopped pecans (8 ounces)


1. Heat oven to 350 F.
2. Mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in bowl.
3. In 8-quart bowl, beat butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 1 minute. Gradually beat in sugars; beat to combine, 2 minutes.
4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Beat in vanilla.
5. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Add chocolate chips, oats, coconut and pecans.
6. For each cookie, drop 1/4 cup dough onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart.
7. Bake in 350 F oven 17 to 29 minutes, until edges are lightly browned; rotate sheets halfway through. Remove cookies to rack to cool.

(Copyright 2000, Laura Bush)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pave the way

In addition to having their kitchen remodeled, mom and dad decided to have the driveway and front walkway to the house remodeled, too. Previously, the driveway had been asphalt and the walkway was concrete. Both had some pretty significant cracks and were badly in need of repair. For the remodel they chose brick pavers -- they're just beautiful! Take a look:




Speaking of the kitchen remodel...

Here are a few 'before' and 'during' pictures of mom and dad's kitchen remodel; I can hardly wait to see the 'after'!


Just getting started...

Closer to being done, but still a long way to go...

Mmmmm - Sunday Dinner...on Saturday!

My parents are in the process of having their kitchen remodeled. It's going to look fantastic! ...but in the meantime, it means their kitchen is something of a disaster area. We thought they might be getting a bit weary of eating fast food for dinner, so we invited them to join us for dinner tonight. Though it's only Saturday, we all agreed that tonight's feast felt more like a good old fashioned Sunday dinner.

When I was thinking of a menu for tonight's dinner, I thought it might be kind of fun to include potato pancakes. When Kevin and I stayed at the Apple Farm over the summer, we were reminded of just how much we LOVE them, so we thought we'd give them a try. While the pancakes are not difficult to make, they are somewhat time consuming. Therefore, if you're ever contemplating making them, I'd advise that you might want to do so on the weekend when you'd have a bit more time to make them. Next time I'd probably tweak the buttermilk pancake batter a bit - add a little less liquid, but overall, they were delicious!

Tonight's menu: marinated grilled pork chops, potato pancakes with sour cream and apple sauce, green beans and a fresh peach crisp for dessert. YUM!! (these aren't mine, but they look very similar...)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


What, you may be asking yourselves, is the significance of that particular sequence of numbers. Well, I'm glad you asked. The particular glorious sequence of numbers indicates the most wonderful day of my life: the day that Kevin and I got married. Our story is kind of like Goldilocks and the three bears. How so? Well, we met 9 years ago - but it wasn't right. We re-met 8 years ago - and that was pretty good, but still...not quite right. But... We got married 7 years ago and that was juuuuust right. Perfect in fact!

Thank you, Kevin, for seven wonderful, blissful years of marriage. I am so happy and proud to be your wife! Thank you for loving me the most when I deserve it the least. Thank you for looking beyond the surface and finding the treasure hidden within. Thank you for sharing my life and allowing me to share yours. You're the most wonderful soulmate, partner, lover and friend I could have ever hoped for. I love you very much. Happy anniversary!! I can hardly wait to see what the next '43 years' has in store for us!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Lemon Ice Cream - YUM!

Tomorrow night Kevin and I are going to have dinner with some friends at their home. They're providing steak and artichokes and we were asked to bring dessert. A month or so ago we'd found a recipe in a magazine that sounded so delicious we knew we had to give it a try. This seems like the perfect occasion! The recipe is for homemade lemon ice cream with blackberry sauce. YUM! It's a bit labor intensive, but not enough to scare us off =) It's delicious! It's a bit on the rich side, so you can't eat a lot of it in one sitting. The blackberry sauce in the recipe called for using blackberry jam, but we've opted to use fresh blackberries instead. Since the ice cream is a bit heavy, I think the fresh fruit sauce will lighten it up a bit. We're going to make fresh raspberry sauce, too. After all, variety is the spice of life!

Cowboys and Presidents

We've talked about it all summer and today we finally made it. Kevin and I went to the Gene Autry Museum of the American West. There's an exhibit there we wanted to see called 'Cowboys and Presidents'. It's an interesting commentary on how cowboys - or more specifically, 'the cowboy way' - have influenced American presidents throughout history. From Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Rider days, to LBJ, to Reagan and beyond. What a fun exhibit! They had all sorts of interesting paraphernalia, but unfortunately, they didn't allow photography.

There was another incredibly interesting exhibit at the museum entitled 'All the Saints of the City of Angels'. Interesting concept: it's a look at all of the streets of the city of Los Angeles that are named for saints - for example: San Vicente, San Pasqual, San Fernando, etc. Basically the artist divided the city into sections and researched each of the "Saint" streets and those for whom they were named. Then, he took faces of folks that he met in and around L.A. and painted them into the artwork to depict the Saint. Though some of the subject matter was a bit darker than we'd imagined, it certainly was a compelling exhibit. All in all, a very fun adventure!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Yep, it's that time already...

I can't believe that it's August already. Where did the summer go? Today was technically my last day of vacation - I start back to work on Monday. This school year should be interesting on many fronts. It will be the first time in the 12 years that I've been there that Bev and I won't have our 'first day back, how was your summer, do you have any photos' chat; we have a new principal this year so I have no idea what's in store. He seems like a nice guy and it feels like he will be a good fit at FA - but it will still just be 'different'. For 12 years, Bev, Rod, Linda and I have worked together like a well oiled machine; we can - and do - finish each others' sentences. I sure hope Jeff catches the wave and joins in on our jovial banter and enjoyable work atmosphere; I'm sure he will.

Additionally, we will have construction going on all this year. Blech! I know the reality of it is, when it's all finished, our school will look phenomenal; however, it's the process of getting there that I'm not really looking forward to! The front of our lovely FA now has dead grass and uninviting portable classrooms on it's once beautiful front lawn.

What will be the same, however, is the excitement of starting a brand new school year! Though it involves a great deal of preparation, it's always my favorite time of the school year. There are so many possibilities! New experiences around every corner! I can't wait to see what this school year will hold.