kitchen makeover

it wouldn't be january if there wasn't some type of home improvement project.  i think because it's the beginning of the year, i feel motivated to do something new.

since, we have fixed all the leaks we had, early this month and the one in november, it was time to get started on something we want to do rather, than a repair we had to do. this weekend we were testing color choices for our kitchen cabinets. i would have loved to put in new cabinets, but that is definitely not in our budget, so we will be content with painting them. alabaster is the color i picked for the upper cabinets. most of our upper cabinets are going to be torn out and we are going to replace them with selves. alabaster will be for the remaining upper cabinets and selves that we will be building.

the lower cabinets will be the mineral deposit (gray).

the kitchen walls will remain white, because i love makes everything look crisp, clean and bright.

we are in the process of looking at different counter top choices.  i know, i don't want tile or granite...i don't like the look of either one.  who knows what will end up with???

i'm excited to get the process started!

Loving Legos...

and so it begins... the adventures with Legos! "Mom, these are more fun than playing cars and blocks and people," Ellie proclaimed, and Lola proudly totes her self made Lego princess car everywhere she goes lately. I have to admit I am really excited about the girls new interest in Legos. I love building with legos and love that it is truly something we can do together. I am in the works of crafting the perfect Lego table for them, just in time for their birthday. 

Mermaid Love Part II

This is Greta, my daughters doll. Since my daughter has fallen in love with mermaids, it was just a matter of time to dress her dolls like mermaids. Inspired by Ulla from Germandolls I made one mermaid outfit for her doll.

learning & growing

i absolutely love taking pictures and this weekend i was able to take a 3 hour photography class. we worked mostly on depth of field and capturing movement.  we met at a park that had a small museum at it and were given different assignments to complete.  these are just a few pictures that i took.

it was fun and challenging to take pictures of the bikers.  they looked at us as if we were crazy!  

Jolly Rancher Sours

Jolly Rancher Sours
Every once in a while I'll blog about some food I purchased. These Jolly Rancher Sours are something I have to tell you about because they are so, so good. I love most things with Jolly Rancher flavors. There's just something unique about those flavors that take me back to my childhood, eating Apple Stix, Cherry Stix, Watermelon Stix, and Fire Stix at my brother's baseball games. The flavors haven't changed, but the forms they come in have. The most recent incarnation of Jolly Rancher flavors is in the form of heart-shaped sour sugar coated gum drops. There are only four flavors in the bag: orange, watermelon, cherry, and apple. All of them delicious and sour. My mouth is watering just talking about it. I really purchased the first bag for my husband, but I think I ate most of that first bag all by myself. In two days. I'm on the second bag now, and I had to stop myself at six hearts after dinner tonight. They'll still be here tomorrow, but I'm a little concerned these are only a Valentine's thing. Wait, it's probably better that way.
So, if you too are a fan of Jolly Ranchers, even if you don't normall eat sour things, give these a try. I'm warning you, though, you just might get hooked.

sleigh ride and dinner

this weekend, we took the kids on our annual sleigh ride and dinner adventure.  they were so excited to see the horses again and ride on the sleigh.

after the sleigh ride, we ate an amazing dinner of steak, baked potato, salad, beans and apple pie and ice cream for dessert.  we all ate a ton and lets just say our bellies were very full!

Social Butterfly

I grew up as an introvert in a house full of extroverts.  I loved my family, and they loved me, but sometimes we just didn't understand each other.  My parents had very public jobs and my sister had tons of friends.  They attended endless social events, invited people over for dinner often, opened the house to guests (some of whom we'd never even met), talked to friends and strangers wherever we went, and were just plan outgoing, in every sense of the word.  And all I wanted to do was go somewhere quiet and curl up with a book.  I found the constant socialization exhausting and overwheming, and confusing.  I just operated on a totally different system than they did.

My Dad's family was, if anything, even more outgoing and social than he was.  My grandpa talked to everyone he met.  He was a terrific story teller and had the timing and attention to exaggeration to make any event sound funnier than it really was.  He remembered everyone he's ever met and was forever telling stories about "this old boy" he'd met 60 years ago.  My Uncle Gary also told stories and talked to everyone he met.  He had a way of listening to people with such interest and attention that you came away feeling special.  But he applied these conversational skills with everyone, which meant that he often abandoned his companions at restaurants to go chat with someone else.

As I grew to adulthood, I came to appreciate my extroverted family more.  The endless social outpourings still tired me, but I understood what a positive thing they could be.  It was also easier to deal with the extroverts when I did not have to live with one.  I married someone even more introverted than I am.  Our quiet lives expanded, but didn't change all that much, when Katherine came home.  Her personality was a lot like ours and all three of us were content to do our socializing in small bits.

And then Rachel arrived...  It was clear from the very first days that we met that Rachel is the ultimate Social Butterfly.  She loves being around people.  She loves talking.  She loves meeting new friends.  She loves to work a crowd.  People make her happy.  The more people, the better!  She is always happy to go somewhere, anywhere, because she might have a chance to see other people.  She knows everyone and everyone likes her.  She is an Extrovert, with a capital E.

And while she can be exasperating and, at time, downright exhausting, I see how good Rachel has been for the rest of us.  She insists that we get out and socialize.  And she has made all of us more social.  I am now more likely to talk to people when I see them, instead of just waving and smiling.  Katherine approaches familiar adults on her own and strikes us conversations with them, something she never used to do.  Rachel's inviting personality has led to kids from all over the neighborhood showing up to play in our yard.  Rachel forces us to participate, instead of just observe and we needed that.

We live in a fairly small town, but when I am alone, I can often run errands or go to the grocery store without seeing anyone I know.  That does not happen when I have Rachel with me.  Every time I go out in public with her, someone waves or comes up and calls her by name.  Often it is someone I do not know.  But Rachel does.  She met them at school or daycare or Granny's exercise class or somewhere.  It has occured to me that I have lived her for a total of 16 years and Rachel for just over 3 years, but she knows more people than I do!

I have long joked that Rachel thinks strangers are just friends she hasn't met yet.  And it's true.  A few weeks ago, Steve took Rae along to run some errands.  He was at the doctor's office picking up some papers and saw Rachel approach a family in the waiting room.  As they left, Steve asked Rachel if she knew the family.  "No," she replied, "I just went over to meet them."

I think most parents joke about the parts of their children's personalities that they have "inherited" from one relative or another.  Adoptive parents do this too, even though there is no genetic link to our children.  It's just a part of seeing yourself in your child, both good and bad.  Katherine has my nerdy, bookworm qualities and Steve's tendency to overthink situations.  Rachel, it is clear, "inherited" my father's and uncle's and grandfather's personality.  They operate on the same system.  She is every bit as social and chatty and unappologetically outgoing as they were.  And now that Grandpa and Gary are gone, it brings joy to see them live on in her. 

We were out eating at a resaurant in town the other night.  After Rachel finished eating, she went off to greet various people she knew who were also dining there.  As we watched her make her rounds, my mom gestured toward Rae and said, "Gary syndrome".  It made me smile.  Rachel was off talking and listening and making people feel good about themselves.  Just like Gary or Grandpa or my dad, and not at all like me.  I am so glad that she is mine.  Social Butterfly and all.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Croq-Tele (TV Snacks)

Coconut Chocolate Chip Croq-Tele
Coconut Croq-Tele
I made a bunch of croq-tele (TV Snacks) when my family was out here for Thanksgiving, and I've been wanting to make more. I got distracted, though, by making Dutch Letters for Christmas. Now I'm getting around to making them again. I thought it would be fun to try some mini chocolate chips in them. And then I saw the coconut in my baking basket and decided to try that too. My husband likes the ones with the chocolate chips, but I prefer the plain and the coconut ones. The chocolate is too overwhelming, even in its small amount, as far as I'm concerned.
Just like the original croq-tele, these are simple sweet, salty, buttery deliciousness. 

Coconut Chocolate Chip Croq-Tele (TV Snacks)
     --adapted from At the Baker's Bench who adapted it from Field Guide to Cookies

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place coconut in a metal pie pan or other small metal baking pan, and toast in the oven for about 6-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before using.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, stir almond flour, sugar, and salt.
In a large mixing bowl, beat flour and cold butter until mixture turns sandy in texture. Add almond/sugar/salt mixture and beat until small clumps form. (I had to turn off my stand mixer and scrape the sides to see that it was clumping.)
Crumble the toasted coconut as you add it to the dough. Mix a little more to incorporate the coconut. Stir chocolate chips in with a spoon if you're using chocolate chips.
Use a teaspoon to scoop out small balls of dough. Pinch the dough in your hand until it holds together. Place on prepared cookie sheet about an inch apart. 
Bake at 325 degrees for 15-16 minutes, or until tips/edges are browned.
Cool cookies on pan for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. 
Store in an airtight container or freeze for later consumption.

Makes 2-3 dozen little cookies.

Chile Colorado Quesadilla

Chile Colorado Quesadilla
Last night we had chile colorado burritos for dinner. I see so many people pinning it on Pinterest and I realized that I hadn't made it in a while, so that's what we had--Dutch oven style. We had a ton leftover because I used the whole 4 pound package of meat from Sam's Club (normally I only use half). So for lunch today I didn't feel like having a burrito and going to the trouble of broiling the cheese on top and all that. I thought I'd try a quesadilla using one of my homemade tortillas, and I figured I'd make the quesadilla like my mom used to--with butter.  Mmmmm... If you decide to make this, though, feel free to omit the butter step. It's just decadent and it makes the quesadilla a little crisper and buttery. 
Overall, I'd say this is a good way to enjoy your leftover chile colorado meat, especially if you were left with very little of the sauce to spoon over the top. If you've already tried the chile colorado, then you can pretty much guess how this tastes. It's just a good way to enjoy the leftovers. Since I only made one for myself (that I ended up sharing with my husband), that's the recipe you see below. It's easily doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc.

Chile Colorado Quesadilla

  • 1/2 cup leftover chile colorado meat
  • 1 large flour tortilla
  • 1teaspoon softened butter (optional)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • sliced green onions as an optional garnish
Place cold chile colorado meat in a microwave proof bowl, cover, and microwave on high for 40-50 seconds. Stir and break up large chunks into smaller ones, or sort of shred the meat.
Heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, spread butter all over one side of the tortilla. Place tortilla buttered side down onto the hot skillet. 
Spread cheese over one half of the tortilla in the pan and fold the naked half over onto the cheesy half. Cook on one side for about 2 minutes and then use a spatula to flip it, and cook for about 2 minutes on the other side, or until it starts to brown and cheese starts to melt.
Carefully (with tongs if you have to) open up the quesadilla. The melted cheese should be on both sides now. Spread meat evenly over one half of the quesadilla and then fold back into position. 
Cook another minute or so on each side, or until it's as brown as you like it.
Remove with a spatula to a cutting surface and cut into thirds or fourths. Sprinkle with chopped green onions, if desired. Serve hot.

Makes 1 serving

Biscuity Lime Pie

Well the weather outside may be cold and dull but this Biscuity Lime Pie will certainly add some zing to your life! It has no less than the zest and juice of 4 limes and a lemon. This is a lovely idea for an easy to make dessert.
The case is made by blitzing ginger nut biscuits and then combining them with some melted butter. This mixture was then pressed into a fluted 10 x 34cm rectangular tin which makes this pie look really pretty and it definitely adds to the appeal. The case was baked on it's own for 15 minutes.
The zingy filling was made using sweetened condensed milk, sugar, egg yolks, the zests and juices from the limes and lemons. It's really hard to describe the result, it tastes quite like lime meringue pie filling but slightly more mousse like! Once the filling is added, it goes back in the oven for a further 20 minutes.
You only need a small slice of this pie, it's very sweet and citrusy but it's guaranteed to tingle your taste buds. It was alittle bit too much for me. If the citrus is a bit too overpowering, you could always reduce the number of limes to 2 or 3. So for a little slice of sunshine on a plate, give this Biscuity Lime Pie a go! :-)
I'm entering my pie into this month's Tea Time Treats as the theme is Citrus. Tea Time Treats is hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage and Kate at What Kate Baked. Karen is hosting this month and you can find out more by visiting her blog.

300g ginger nut biscuits (I had a 250g pack of gingernuts so I made it up to 300g with digestives)
100g butter
3 egg yolks
50g golden caster sugar
4 limes, zest and juice (this is extremely citrusy, if you prefer you could reduce the limes to 3)
1 lime to garnish if required
1 lemon, zest and juice
397g can condensed milk

Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas 4. Put the biscuits into a food processor and blitz so you end up with crumbs. If you don't particularly like gingernuts you could make this recipe with digestives. Melt the butter in a saucepan or in the microwave and then pour over the biscuit crumbs. Pulse the mixture until it is combined.

This recipe calls for a 10 x 34cm fluted rectangular tart tin which gives a really professional finish to this pie. Tip the biscuit and butter mix into the tin and press it into the base and up the sides. I ended up pressing it in initially with my fingers and then used the back of a spoon. Bake for 15 minutes until nice and crisp.

Next make the filling by beating the eggs, sugar and lemon and lime zests together in a bowl using an electric whisk. They should double in size. At this point mix in the condensed milk and then add the citrus juices.

Pour the filling into the baked case and then put back in the oven for another 20 minutes. When ready the filling should be just set and there should  be a little bit of a wobble in the middle. Place on the side to cool and set completely before removing from the tin. This needs to be done very carefully as the biscuits are quite crumbly. Chill until ready to serve. Slice to serve and to add aesthetic appeal, top with thin slices of lime.

* Adapted from the BBC GoodFood website

Friday family fun night...

....starts with a little dress up

... is when the girls opt to eat on the coffee table (a special treat)
... is when Ellie turns into a bazongie (aka zombie)

... is when daddy turns into a bazongie too

... ends with the whole family going crazy
Just another typical Friday night at the Mezzadris!

Hearty Chicken Cacciatora

picture provided by KitchenDaily
What is your go to meal that you want to have on a cold wintery day? What recipe can you throw into a crock pot before work in the morning in 10 minutes or have prepared the night before?
This chicken recipe is hearty, healthy and very satisfying. Make it yourself for your family and they will feel comforted like never before.
Chicken Cacciatora (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook)


1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 teas kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup dry white wine
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes coarsely chopped
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
10 bone-in chicken thighs
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley



1.  Cook onion in olive oil over medium high heat, stirring, until softened, 3 to 6 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, celery seed and bay leaf and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add wine, bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, scraping up any browned bits. Add whole tomatoes and tomato sauce and stir well.

2. Place chicken thighs in a 4-quart pot or slow cooker. Pour the tomato mixture over the chicken. Cover and cook until the chicken is very tender, about 3 hours on High or 6 hours on Low. Remove the bay leaf.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve onto noodles or rice.

Nutrition Facts

Provided by: EatingWell/Kitchen Daily
Per Single Serving / Serves 10 Total

·         Calories 260
·         Calories from fat 117
·         Total Fat 13gm 20%
·         Sodium 492mg 21%
·         Total Carbohydrates 6gm 2%
·         Fiber 1gm 4%
·         Protein 25gm
·         Cholesterol 88mg 29%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.



Carmel plus Chocolate plus pecans = Turtleeeyy Goodness!

What is the perfect snack that provides the satisfaction one needs to fill a chocolate craving?
Turtles of course! These yummy treats are easy to make, kids love them and love to help make them, and you only need to eat one or two to satisfy your sweet tooth.

I'm a huge fan of candy making. I have loved making chocolate chocolate truffles over the years for friends, family and my favorite people. Everyone enjoys a special treat especially when it is home-made. It takes a little effort to make the time, but it is all worth it in the end when you can spoil the people you love.

My older sister Sue originally shared this turtle recipe with me years ago during Christmas time. I think it reminded her of the Saint Agnes Catholic School days when we had to go door to door selling these delectable boxed goodies. Our family couldn't really afford to buy them for us, a family of six, but we were expected to raise money anyway. How hard it was to not just open a package and eat the whole box ourselves.

 My sister and I also took over the tradition of making English toffee like my grandmother Leone made every year. It is my son Curtis' favorite dessert besides ice cream.
He is turning 28 this weekend. Yikes! Where did my little boy go? I think I will have to make a batch of toffee too!

Here is the easy peasy turtle recipe. You won't go back to buying store bought ones ever again.

Candy making day today. TURTLES!Candy making day today. TURTLES!


1 bag of pecans (Roast them first in a preheated 325 degree oven on a sheet pan for @ 9 min or until you smell them. Take off sheet pan and cool) Not necessary, but a worthwhile step.

1 bag of Kraft Caramels (unwrap each one and put in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave them with the milk for 30 seconds at a time until melted)

1-2 T of milk (add to bowl of caramels)

1/2 Pound Dark or Milk Chocolate chopped into chunks and melted over a ban marie or melted carefully in a microwave safe bowl using same method as caramels 30 seconds at a time, stirring until melted.
Either way add a little more chopped chocolate to melted mixture and stir until melted to temper chocolate. By tempering chocolate, you won't end up with the white splotchy stuff on your finished product.

2 sheet pans lined with silpat or aluminum foil. Use butter or non-stick spray on foil lined pan so candy doesn't stick


Place 3 or 4 pecans together in bunches leaving a space between each.
Using a Tablespoon, scoop melted caramel over each bundle of pecans.
Using a Tablespoon, scoop melted chocolate and drop onto each bundle covering caramel.
Cool candy by putting sheet pan in fridge or freezer for a bit.
Remove from pan and place in a sealed tupperware container using layers of wax paper to keep candies from sticking.
I suppose you can freeze these too, but they never last that long in my house.


a little lax

I have been a bit lax on taking picutes these past few weeks. I think it is simply because our happenings these days have been pretty simple, the way it should be after a whirlwind holiday season, but here is one... just because.

Ellie playing dress up at school.

Berries. Wonderful Berries

Time to make a berry pie! Yum!

Blackberry pie is one of my all time favorite things to make and eat. You can't have a bad day after treating yourself to a piece of pie. Especially a homemade one.
The crust is crispy, crunchy and fall apart melt in your mouth delicious. Blackberries aren't really in season anymore, but Costco seems to have palates of them.

This recipe is fairly easy to make and worthwhile for sure. I hope you will try it too!
You can make the berry mixture ahead of time and keep refrigerated and do the same with the dough as well.

1 bag of frozen blackberries
2 containers of fresh blackberries
3/4 C. granulated sugar (more or less depending on the sweetness of the berry)
1 T dried tapioca pearls
1 T of cornstarch
2 T water
2 T lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teas grated nutmeg
1/2 teas kosher salt

Dump frozen blackberries into medium sized sauce pan with sugar, tapioca, salt, nutmeg, lemon zest and lemon juice. Cook over med high heat until sauce is boiling. Mix water and cornstarch and pour into boiling berry mixture and cook until thickened. Cool. Fold fresh blackberries into cooled mixture.

I  find that by using a mixture of frozen berries and fresh berries, it brings out the best flavor and texture to your pie.

Pie Crust

3 C. Flour
2 T Sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
8 Tbsp cold unsalted butter (1 stick)
¼ C. Shortening
3 Tbsp  H2O
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp white distilled vinegar

1.       In a  large bowl combine flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blended and working quickly to prevent butter from melting into flour, cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (or put mixture in food processor and pulse until combined)

2.       In a small bowl combine water, egg, and vinegar. Stir to mix. With a fork, mix egg mixture into flour just until dough clumps together and moist enough to pat together. If dough is dry and crumbly, add more water 1 Tbsp at a time. Dough should not be wet or sticky. (I use the food processor and pulse until combined.)

3.    Wrap and place in fridge for 30 minutes to rest.

4.       Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll with pin to flatten

This makes enough for two single-crust pies.
Once you have your dough rested and your filling cooled you can fill and top your pie.Here I have cut out maple leaves, but you can use any cookie cutter you have, or go with the traditional lattice topping as well.
Pastry likes to stay cold before baked. So put the pie in the freezer for an hour or so before baking to get that great pie crust, if you can wait that long...
Brush with a whole beaten egg. Sprinkle with additional sugar and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for one hour or until golden and bubbly. Serve with vanilla icecream



yesterday, spring semester of women's bible study began for me.  i'm excited to see what God teaches me through this study.

what exactly is a True Woman?

"She is, quite simply, a woman who is being molded and shaped according to God's design.  She's a woman who loves Jesus and whose life is ground in, tethered to, and enabled by Christ and His gospel.  As a result, she is serious about bringing her thoughts and actions in line with what the Bible says about who she is and how she ought to live.  She is a woman who rejects the world's pattern for womanhood, and gladly wears God' designer label instead." ~quote from the book

i love Jesus with all my heart.  but i battle daily to keep Him first.

this world i live in tells me that it should be all about me, me, me...  "do whatever you like," "you deserve it," "it's all about being happy"...

it's hard to live in this kind of world that pulls us away from God, plus it doesn't help that our own sinful nature tries to trip us up all the time.

i feel like i'm constantly playing tug-of-war (remember that game?) with the way God calls us to live and the way the world tries to influence our living.  it's not comfortable and i often times get muddy with discouragement, frustration and feel worn out.    because in this game of tug-of-war, there are far more people on the "live by the world standards" than on the other side "live by God's standards."   it's hard when we are so outnumbered.  it's easy to want to switch to the other side.  we don't want to stick out, we don't want to feel alone, it's easier to live on the other side.

but God never called us to that.  He also never said that following Him would be easy.  being molded and shaped by Him, definitely isn't easy, because it requires us to give control over to Him.  and what woman doesn't struggle with control is some way?  but my desire is to resist my desire to control and be  tethered to Him,
used by Him,
and live like Him.

how is God working in your life?

Glam Trifle Slice

So my last post was healthy wholemeal spelt muffins...and this is the not so healthy 'Glam Trifle Slice'. However, this one is for a special occasion...and as we know a little treat now and then never hurt anyone! ;-)
I'm really glad I had a go at this took a little effort but the results were well worth it. It's one of my favourite creations of the last couple of months. It looks spectacular, although I was having a little difficulty taking any photos that do it justice, and it also tastes fab. This one was definitely a winner with the taste testers.

This would be the ideal dessert for a dinner party or a special occasion. We had this for lunch on New Year's Day. The madeira cake on the bottom is shop bought...although if you want to be super flash, you could make your own. The jelly layer is blitzed with 150g of raspberries and then passed through a sieve, whole raspberries are then added...and this gives it a really intense raspberry flavour. The jelly was a tiny bit on the wobbly side, perhaps due to the addition of the raspberry and it did bulge a little in comparison to the rest of the layers, so next time I might try a sheet or half a sheet of gelatine in this layer too.

The custard is made with a sheet of gelatine so it sets firmly and the cream layer also has gelatine to set it...and the recipe also calls for 3 tablespoons of sherry to add an extra dimension. I only added a tablespoon of sherry but I'd probably go for 2 next time. In addition to double cream, the top layer also has mascarpone and icing sugar in it.
This dessert was made in a loaf tin lined with cling film and parchment paper. Once set and turned out the whole thing was finished off with piped cream and sprinkles on top. I ever so slightly over-whipped the cream so it wasn't quite as smooth as I would have liked but overall I was really impressed with this recipe and I will certainly be making it again in the future and it may be destined to become a favourite pudding recipe.

If you'd like to make this 'Glam Trifle Slice' yourself, you can find the recipe here at BBC GoodFood.