About Me

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A 30-something living in the foothills of the Virginia mountains; I'm saved by grace, addicted to coffee and my little sister is my best friend! I devote most of my time to exploring, reading, attending as many Nationals games as possible and documenting life here. My Prince Charming got lost somewhere along the way...but I'm trying to remain hopeful that true love exists.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Another Season Come and Gone

Another week has come and gone...and another season has come and gone as well. The farewells have been made to another Summer and Autumn is beginning to make her presence known: there is that nip in the air that speaks of scarves, warm drinks by the fire and curling up under blankets. The trees are all parting with their constant greenery in favor of something a little more colorful and of course, the TV is filled with nothing but football, football, football. Summer has sped away and Autumn is here to stay - at least until sometime in December!

Autumn color of one of Watson & I's many walks.

Autumn sunsets are the best - always blazing with color, just like the trees!

An Autumn morning - crisp & cool with the dusky blue of the mountains in the distance!

Watson soaking up some Wednesday morning rays of sunshine on the deck.

A little evening snack - a bear, minus one of his ears!

Thank Heaven for delicious leftovers prepared by my Momma!
This week honestly sped by...at least until Thursday evening...and I was fine with that because I spent most of the week looking forward to Thursday. My sweet and lifelong (literally) best friend Nickolee and her family came this past weekend to stay with us. The two spoke at our church on Sunday but between Thursday night and Sunday morning...and even after that (they left this morning) we found plenty to do. It was so wonderful to get to catch up with her and her family and to finally meet her sweet new baby girl, Lyllian! The weekend passed pleasantly and I feel like a good time was had by all; hopefully they enjoyed seeing a little bit of my new neck of the woods!

Ryleigh was immediately in love with Watson - he was her main concern all weekend.

Trying to get a good picture with this sweetie - all of these were somewhat hit or miss...

Watson walking Ryleigh....& Ryleigh walking me!

Lyllian says "where did you get this Winnie the Pooh?"

See - I told you we'd get a good picture! 
Friday afternoon, my Mom watched Lyllian and Steve took Ryleigh to Monkey Joe's to play for a little while...which meant Nickolee and I were able to go out and about on our own for just a little while. I took her to one of my favorite places here in the area - the Coach and Horses Tea Room! My Mom introduced me to this wonderful little spot and this wonderful little spot turned me on to tea; I've always loved a glass of iced sweet tea but never hot, until I was taken to High Tea here! We spent the afternoon sipping tea, eating all kinds of delicious foods and just catching up - of course we stopped at a shop or two on the way to and from having tea...but it wouldn't be a girl's afternoon out without a little shopping, right?

Ready to have some tea!

Certainly a new favorite for me - Strawberry Ginger Peppercorn! I wish I had a pot right now!

Enjoying our tea experience!

Dad giving Lyllian a cuddle - she always has that thumb in her mouth!

Playing on the playground in Front Royal after supper at The Melting Pot!

Swinging - apparently this was Lyllian's first time on a swing!
Saturday we took the Roberts to our favorite Farmer's Market and Orchard - Marker Miller! We picked apples and Ryleigh thoroughly enjoyed playing on the playground, so much so that she didn't really want to leave. After a bit of a rest at the house that afternoon, Nickolee, the girls, my Mom and I went to the church to have a ladies' snack reception for Nickolee - she talked to them about life in Madagascar and they shared with her; sharing the love they have for her and her family even though they were only just meeting her, and also sharing that they had been and would keep praying for Nickolee and her family. We had supper at our favorite Mexican restaurant with Sweet Frog's for dessert and everyone watched a little football after supper...although I'm pretty sure only Steve, my Dad and my Mom were the ones really interested, ha-ha!

Ready to pick some apples!

Two little apple pickers in the wagon we found in the middle of the orchard - we commandeered it for our own purposes: pictures!

Hauling in the apples...and the little apple picker!

Cuddling with sweet Amelia during the Ladies' Sweet Reception for Nickolee.

Lyllian & Amelia - fast friends, even though Amelia slept through most of their meeting, ha-ha!

Emily & Ryleigh were certainly fast friends & spent the whole two hours playing together. 

A brilliant Saturday night sunset!
Sunday morning was spent at church - Steve and Nickolee shared about life in Madagascar and shared their hearts for spreading the Word of the Lord to the Malagasy people; it was wonderful! After having lunch at Panera (Nickolee's spot of choice; which I will always agree with...love me some Panera) we all had a little rest before heading to Wayside Farm for the afternoon! We rode on a hayride, Ryleigh played in the corn crib and slid down all kinds of slides...Nickolee, myself and my Dad may or may not have slid down some slides too...we also ventured into the corn maze and while Nickolee and I were sure we'd get lost, Steve led us out with no trouble. However, we did manage to lose my Dad when he stopped to pick and shuck an ear of corn - we told him to keep up and he just didn't listen. Thankfully we all lived to tell the tale and emerged unscathed from the corn maze!

Wayside Farm's theme this year was Super Heroes - they were everywhere you looked!

Taking a trip down one of the slides - it went just a little bit faster than he anticipated!

Somewhere in the corn maze...Nickolee & I being goofy, Lyllian just completely relaxed! 

Going into the Batcave!

Punkins, punkins everywhere! 

Two of the cutest little girls I know - ready to take a spin on one of the slides!

Not sure what my next move should be in Pumpkin Checkers!

Just taking a hay ride through the Soy Beans, Pumpkins and Corn! The little hootie was not interested in taking a picture!

These two bonded on the hay ride...so sweet!

Ryleigh & Nickolee sliding into the Bat cave!

Lyllian hanging on to a gourd I handed her - she certainly was thinking "what in the world is this thing?"

The biggest hit of the evening - playing in the corn crib! Who knew corn could be so much fun?

Jeffrey emerges from the Corn Maze - he may have gotten lost but he made it out alive!

Duck races!

Saying good-bye to the Farm!

Autumn has definitely arrived!
So...there you have it. I think we welcomed Autumn quite well, don't you? Autumn is certainly my favorite season; I'm so glad it's here and I'm even more glad I get to welcome Autumn in Virginia this year. The leaves are changing more every day and I'm taking in each turning leaf with absolute delight!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cupcake Wars

Well - I like to think that I can cook but since I'm only ever feeding myself (usually) I don't really have any confirmation of that. I also like to think that I do alright in the baking department; no one has ever complained over any sweets I've made. Our church recently announced plans to hold a Cupcake War-style competition after our 5th anniversary luncheon and my interest was piqued...at first.

I'd pretty much made up my mind that I wasn't interested but during a Wednesday night Bible Study a couple of the ladies encouraged me to throw my hat into the ring and see how I'd do. I finally decided to go for it and once I'd put my name on the sheet...ideas of exactly what kind of cupcake to make started rolling through my head...

First things first - you've got to have a cupcake holder, right?

Just a few of the ingredients I needed to bring my cupcake vision to reality.
I struggled back and forth with what I wanted to make but finally decided that you can never go wrong with chocolate. Not just any chocolate though; my idea was over the top deliciousness and I knew exactly what I wanted to make: a milk chocolate cupcake with mini chocolate chips with a cream cheese filling, topped with chocolate butter cream icing and a white chocolate drizzle. It sounded delicious in my head...now I just had to make it a tasty reality.

Step One: Bake the cupcakes...

Let them cool for the afternoon....while you're hawking cards at Hallmark...

Step Two - Use you handy dandy tool from Hobby Lobby to remove centers...

I may have wandered around the kitchen singing "Holy Holy Holy" while I did this...I can neither confirm nor deny this.

A delicious cream cheese filling...I think I'd have been happy to just eat this whole bowl. And then I'd probably have been sick...

Homemade chocolate butter cream frosting - being shown off by my Sous chef, ha-ha!

So close to being done!
I must confess - making these cupcakes was a long process but I figured it might be if I wanted them to turn out as well as I envisioned them in my head. I made the actual cupcakes before I went to work on Saturday afternoon, letting them cool while I was gone. Once I came home and knew the cupcakes were sufficiently cooled then I removed a little bit of the middle from each cupcake with a little tool my Mom and I found at Hobby Lobby for $2.95! We mixed up our cream cheese mixture next and filled a plastic bag so I could pipe it into each cupcake...filling it full of yummy! Once that step was done, we mixed up our chocolate butter cream icing and honestly worried that we weren't going to have enough - but we worked it out just fine and even had some left! We suffered some minor burns (and a couple shouts of shock) warming and working with the white chocolate and Mom pulled it through, drizzling that stuff on the top of each cupcake like a beast!

Pulling out all the stops - she's a beast because that bag she's holding was HOT.

The finished product - I thought they looked quite lovely!

I wish I had another one...

Ready to make the journey to the church!

Milk Chocolate cupcake with chocolate chips in the batter
Cream Cheese Filling
Chocolate butter cream icing with a white chocolate drizzle

Watson says "I'll be a taste tester...gimme some!"
So, on Sunday morning off we went with our cupcakes. I have to say that once we arrived and I saw some of the other competition, I got a bit nervous. There were nine other cupcakes - some just looked awesome and others looked like they tasted absolutely awesome. I'll be honest and tell you that there was a little part of me that felt very competitive but the larger part of me wasn't actually that worried about whether I'd win or not. I knew my cupcakes were good and I'd enjoyed the time I spent with my Mom making them, so for me it was a win whether I actually won or not. After lunch, my Mom and I joined the tasting line and cast our votes...and then we waited.

Some of the other cupcakes - a burger & fries, a Banana cupcake with Honey Cinnamon frosting, a Key Lime cupcake, a Pumpkin Caramel cupcake, a Mocha cupcake & the most awesome looking little bears!

Maybe not the best shoes to have worn for being on my feet for hours & hours...

People lining up to taste the cupcakes!
Once all was said and done, I was completely shocked when Paula said that the winning cupcake was #10! I sat for a minute and Mom said "that's you goofy!" and I gave a little shout and hopped up excitedly! I must admit, when I agreed to participate last Wednesday night I don't think the thought that I'd win ever even entered my mind. I figured it would be fun to try and think up something neat to make and see how well I could do with a creation from my mind. Even when I started to feel a little bit competitive, I still didn't think I'd actually win because I tasted the other cupcakes and thought many of them were delicious! I guess you just have to take a chance and see what you can do - you might even win a Cupcake War!

Coincidence that it looks like it has an N on it? I think not!