Thursday, July 12, 2012


These are probably my favorite posts because they have no structure and I can just jabber away. (Something I'm good at.)

Since my husband's business consists of working outside, rainy days mean family days for us. It's been a rainy mess these past few days in the south, and yesterday we spent the day shopping. (Yes, my husband likes to shop!) First of all, my sweet little shopper in training...

I swear she didn't cry all day until we strapped her back in her carseat and headed home! I think she already knows how to manipulate her Daddy to get what she wants... ;)

Benjie ended up getting a few t-shirts on sale and a new pair of shorts. (He's been getting all the clothes these past few shopping trips! What's wrong with that picture!?) LK got a few outfits for next summer and I got a (real) black leather jacket that I'd been wanting...

The tag price was $360 and I ended up getting it for about $65 on sale. I've been looking for the 'right one' for a few years now. I'm very picky about leather jackets -- I like them simple but fitted (no criss cross zippers and 623694 buckles). I got a similar brown (camel-ish colored) jacket in the spring so I'm pretty excited for fall! 

Want to know the best thing about growing up on a farm??? Your Daddy comes to visit you and brings goodies like this:

I never appreciated stuff like this until now! He just picked them all that morning. There's a world of difference in fresh vegetables and the frozen packaged stuff. I guess I was just a little spoiled in the veggie department growing up and never knew any different. Benjie and I had to go buy a small deep freezer, but totally worth it!

(I told y'all this was going to be random...)

Y'all have to try this recipe:

Pennsylvania Dutch Pretzel Salad

1 cup crushed pretzels
1 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
8 oz. cream cheese
16 oz. Cool Whip
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
2 cups chopped strawberries (can substitute other fruit or 2 cups whole berry cranberry sauce)

Mix 1/2 cup white sugar and crushed pretzels together in a bowl, then pour in melted butter and mix. Spread mixture onto a 9x13 baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Stir and bake 5 more minutes. Remove and pour onto wax paper.

Beat together cream cheese, 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and then fold in Cool Whip. Store in refrigerator. Just before serving, stir in fruit and top liberally with the pretzels. 

Oh, this stuff is SO GOOD and SO EASY! It's served at a local diner near us (a local hit!) and they graciously published the recipe in a magazine last month. It's pretty rich, so I think one batch could feed a lot of people. I have been trying to stay away from sweet stuff like this, but still, I like to make us a little 'treat' every few weeks. :) Besides, I LOVE baking!

I also tried my second attempt at Dumplins' a few weeks ago (when my parents were down) and it was a hit! Benjie will tell you that the only un-edible (inedible?) things I've ever cooked were some Paula Deen biscuits (made with yeast) and my very first attempt at Chicken & Dumplins. It was shortly after we were married and I used frozen dumplins. (I didn't think they tasted that bad.) I tried this recipe in my dutch oven and Benjie's eyes lit up and said, "Mmmmm...These taste just like my Grannys!" My dad even said, "These taste like the dumplins my momma used to make." I think that's one of the highest compliments you can get from a man about your cooking. ;)

I boiled a whole chicken and shredded it... By the way, did you know you can shred (de-boned, of course) chicken in your mixer? Whodathunkit.

Homemade Chicken & Dumplins'

2 cups Flour 
½ teaspoons Baking Powder 
1 pinch Salt 
2 Tablespoons Butter 
1 cup Milk, A Bit Less Than A Full Cup 
2 quarts Chicken Broth 
3 cups Cooked Chicken
In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a fork or pastry blender. Stir in the milk, mixing with a fork until the dough forms a ball.
Heavily flour a work surface. You’ll need a rolling pin and something to cut the dumplings with. I like to use a pizza cutter. I also like to use a small spatula to lift the dumplings off the cutting surface.
Roll the dough out thin with a heavily floured rolling pin. Dip your cutter in flour and cut the dumplings in squares about 2″x2″. It’s okay for them not to be exact. Just eye ball it. Some will be bigger, some smaller, some shaped funny.
Use the floured spatula to put them on a heavily floured plate. Just keep flouring between the layers of dumplings.
To cook them, bring the broth to a boil. Drop the dumplings in one at a time, stirring while you add them. The extra flour on them will help thicken the broth. Cook them for about 15-20 minutes or until they not doughy tasting. Add the cooked chicken to the pot and you’re done!

(Pinned from Tasty Kitchen, she gives instructions here.)

The only other exciting thing about this week is that our (over-due) "babymoon" vacation is booked! We are going in the fall and so incredibly excited to be able to spend some time together. Benjie and I wanted to go on a nice vacation by ourselves before Lily Kate got here, but he was tied down with work and I was on bed rest the majority of my pregnancy. A baby takes a lot of attention away from your marriage and I think there's a happy medium in spending time with your spouse. We don't live near our parents so we don't have the luxury of dropping her off to go on date nights by ourselves (which is fine with us). Other than one weekend, Benjie and I haven't eaten a single meal by ourselves or slept "late" (past 7am) since she's been born. (I'm not complaining!) We feel like happy parents make a happy home and this little getaway will be good for our marriage and a good change of scenery for LK now that she's getting older. I love having a reason to shop and I love having a reason to get in shape! I'm one of those people that probably enjoys the anticipation as much as the actual trip itself! :)

As I was proofreading this post, I decided I'd like to share something else... Now that I have a lot more readers (other than just my friends and family), I tend to second-guess myself in everything I write. I feel like someone is going to judge me which makes me feel like I have to justify my life. I almost deleted the paragraph above. "She let her child do what???" "She is leaving her child for a week to go on vacation? Oh, she must not love her baby." I know that sounds crazy but there are people out there that have strong opinions. (And yes, I tear up every time I think about kissing my baby and driving away from her for a week!) I have a friend (more like acquaintance) that has 2 daughters who are almost teenagers and she's never been away from them over night. EVER. I told her we were planning a vacation and she looked at me like she was surprised -- "Oh, I could never leave my child." Y'all please just understand that while I blog about all the "fun stuff", our family is far from perfect. We have our fair share of bumps and problems, I just choose not to publicize all of them. Benjie and I have both been under a lot of stress with his business and our new baby -- which in turn has put a lot of stress on our relationship. We just feel like some QT and R&R will do a lot more good for us right now than anyone could understand. Ok, I'm off my soap box now. :)

(I think Danielle and I have the same views about God, marriage, and family, and she does a great job of explaining the way God intended them. You should read this post -- she explains it much better than I ever could!) 

P.S. - If you've emailed me in the past few weeks, I'm going to try and respond to them all this weekend! Your emails and comments mean SO MUCH! :) Have a great weekend!


  1. Ashley, you know what is best for you and your family. If you choose to do something then that is no one else's business. If people don't like what you are doing, then they don't need to read your blog anymore. Thank you for sharing your life with us, and that BEAUTIFUL baby girl!

  2. I agree with the previous comment if you want to vacation by all means vacation. Leaving your child with a responsible caregiver is fine. I love reading your blog!! I have a question, which Chicco stroller did you go with?

  3. Thanks to BOTH of you! That means a lot for you to comment (and agree). She will be staying with her grandmother -- so she will be in very good hands!

    @Latoya, we chose the Chicco Cortina in the "Discovery" color. I thinks it's a Babies R Us "exclusive".

    We also have this Chicco stroller that is a great bit smaller. I like that it's lightweight like an umbrella stroller but it has a canopy, cup holder, and storage underneath. You know, the important stuff. ;)