Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Gallery Beginnings

Mr. Chadwick and I have long wanted a gallery wall in the house.  We had a small one in the first apartment we rented, and now that we own our own home, we have selected a couple of walls to "gallery."  One is the large wall opposite the windows in the Great Room.  We had professional photos made in November, and when those prints come in most of them will be framed and placed on that wall.  The other gallery we would like to create is in our bedroom on either side of the double windows.  When we "redid" the master I put this drawing up that Mr. Chadwick did of me several years ago.  It has sat long and lonely on that wall waiting patiently for friends.  

Please remember that new curtains and hardware are both on my list of things to accomplish this year.

I knew I wanted all of the frames to be black, so when I made Mr. Chadwick's Christmas gift, I selected a black frame for the poem.  I had one other picture in a black frame that needed a permanent home, so I thought three would be a good start to a gallery.  Rather than cut out paper and move it around on the wall to determine placement, I used the self timer on my camera and tried to stay out of the way as I held up different formations.

Little Man didn't really care for those, so I took the portrait off and put the e e cummings up in it's place.  The frame is larger, so I find that it anchors the formation better.

I finally decided on something similar to this last photo.  When our prints come in from the photo session, I can frame one to go on the right side to balance it out.  I also want to include some 5x7s and perhaps even a 4x6 or two.  The goal is to have several photos on both sides of the windows.  We have a brass "headboard" for the bed that I'm going to paint so we can put the bed in front of the windows (with the solid headboard we have now, too much light would be blocked from getting into the room).   With that done and real curtains installed I think the room will finally feel complete.  

Little Man had to mull it over for a while, but I think I finally got his approval.  I like it, too, but I'd rather it be fully finished already.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Photo::Take 2

I'm allowed two, aren't I?  The fog this morning is simply lovely, and I wanted to share with you the view out our front windows.

Friday Photo

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

Having gotten over my head cold already (I think I set a record for shortest head cold ever), I felt like baking yesterday.  I pulled a page out of my mother's book for supper and made tuna casserole (with tuna only on the left half of the dish), but I wanted a dessert to go with it.  I found this recipe over at Pinterest and decided to give it a try since I had pretty much everything I needed.  I don't buy boxed, bagged, or frozen dessert mixes, so I try to keep basic baking supplies on hand all the time.  (It really is just as easy to make a cake from scratch as it is to use a box mix, and it's so much better.)

The first thing you do is bake the brownie base.  The recipe says 25-35 minutes, but I found that it took nearly an hour.  I also increased the temperature 40 minutes in.  The center finally cooked, but the edges became slightly caramelized.  

The cookie dough topping is egg-less, and you don't bake it.  It goes on as a kind of frosting after the brownie base has cooled.  I just glopped it down on top and lightly pressed it out with my hand.  It's sticky, and I didn't flour my hand first, so I wound up making a big mess that required me to lick the entire surface of my palm when I was finished.  Not a complaint.  Just an observation.

These turned ok-ish.  The cookie dough on top tastes great, but the brownie isn't my favorite.  If I make it again, I think I'll go with my standard Betty Crocker 1920s brownie recipe.  Here it is in case you're interested.  It really does make the best brownies I've ever eaten.

Betty Crocker's Best Cooky of 1920-1930


1/2 c shortening
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c cocoa (I usually add a little more)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
optional 1/2 c chopped nuts

Heat oven to 350.  Mix shortening, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until well blended.  Blend dry ingredients, mix in. Stir in nuts.  Spread into well-greased pan, 8x8 (I use a round pan).  Bake about 30 minutes.  

I also found a recipe last night on Pinterest for cookie dough dip that uses chick peas as a base.  Maybe next time I'll use that with my Betty Crocker recipe and compare the two.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On Motherhood

Last night's State of the Union address was filled with promises to better our country.  We were told we must take on certain issues and problems to ensure our children are better educated, to reduce illegal immigration, and shrink our debt.  We must make sure all of our offspring are able to go to college at an affordable rate so they can then go out into the world, get a fantastic job, and make a remarkable and significant contribution to society, preferably in the fields of math and science.  We were told of education reform and higher graduation standards.  And yet, I ask, why are we still asking society to raise up the next generation instead of equipping parents to do so?  

Growing up in the 1990s, we were all told to "reach for the stars."  Dream big, achieve big.  We could do anything we wanted when we grew up.  And should.   Teachers, parents, and TV told us that the perfect family was one where both parents worked, and everyone was busy all the time.  The fact that women had the right to work equally alongside men meant that society had the right to expect them to do so.  When I was asked what I wanted to "be" when I grew up, I once answered "a mother."  The look I received in response said "You poor thing" and "Who damaged your self esteem that badly?" at the same time.  "Who in the world has made you think that the only thing in life you could accomplish was to be a mother?"  From then on I replied to the What do You Want to Be question with, "I don't know yet,"  because the desire to be a quality wife and mother meant I needed therapy to discover and repair the damage done my self worth.

In college I had the opportunity to job shadow someone in my "future profession" for extra credit.  While I did not need the additional points added to my grade, as an over-achiever I decided to go for it anyway.    (After all, you just never know about that next test grade.  You might have to take it while sick with the flu.)  We were to spend an entire working day with a professional and write a paper on our findings.  I spent the day with the mother of one of my high school friends.  Very few people completed the task, so those of us who did were asked to share what we learned with the class.  Had we changed our minds?   Were we still going to graduate from the same degree program?  When asked to introduce myself and my paper I stood in front of my peers and said, "I am Rachel Cook.  I am a music major, and I spent the day with a full-time mother."  My philosophy professor was rather surprised. " But what are you going to do with your degree," he asked.

What do I do with my degree?  The degree I earned with honors.  What about all of those "non-degree related" classes I took for fun?  (After all, it's really not necessary to take 23 hours of class every semester and two full summer terms for four years.  But when else would I have had the chance to learn so much neat stuff?)  I worked to support my husband for two years so he could further his education.  I have taught nearly 30 children how to play the piano.  I taught children to apply the Socratic Method to music.  I am a well-educated and well-spoken member of society.  And now, I am a mother.  I teach my child to love God with all of his heart, with all of his soul, and with all of his might.  I show him how to love his neighbor as himself.  I discipline my child so he will know how to behave as a respectable member of society once he leaves childhood.  I do my best to model wise financial decisions so a future generation does not have to live in debt.  I will instill a love of education to ensure my child will find something he loves and learn to do it well, whether that be an automotive mechanic or a mechanical engineer.  I am making a small, but significant, contribution to society while making sure that my child grows "in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." (Luke 2:52)

The scholar after graduating with a Master's Degree with a very little Little Man.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Well, just two, actually, and two minor ones at that.  We took our entertainment "area" from this 

to this by pulling out the table and switching from that great big stereo system to our iPod speakers.  Huge difference in the small den.  I actually tried to get that table out a couple of months ago without removing the speakers and couldn't figure out how to make it work.  Yay for Mr. Smartie Pants!

Murray thinks so, too. 

We now have more seating at the dining table (without the metal folding chairs) because we added 

this bench.  My brother and I sat on benches at the table when we were children, and my father did a small repair on this one so we could use it here on Lankford.  I plan on painting it white once we have more than one day in a row without rain.  It also helps that Little Man is now sitting at the table without a high chair or booster seat.  He is under the impression that he is hot stuff.  I tend to agree.

So, as you can see, nothing major, but sometimes small changes can make a huge difference in personalizing your space.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Valley of Vision

I find myself yet again struggling with a head cold.  My darling informed me last night that we could not play tennis with this cold.  After a couple of minutes of wondering to myself why he might possibly think I would ever play tennis, I caught up with his train of thought, promised not to pass my little virus back to him, and made a mental note that my thought process would be sluggish for the next couple of days.  The vaporizer is running in the background, and I have replaced perfume with the light fragrance of chamomile and honey.  After hearing myself declare my love to a box of Alka-Seltzer, I decided to pull out our copy of The Valley of Vision, which is a collection of Puritan prayers (which may actually be out of print now).  Bro. Blair (aka: my darling) read from it at church last night, so with it fresh on my mind I turned to the first prayer. 

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision
Where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
Hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox
    that the way down is the way up,
    that to be low is to be high,
    that the broken heart is the healed heart,
    that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
    that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
    that to have nothing is to possess all,
    that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
    that to give is to receive,
    that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
    and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
    thy life in my death,
    thy joy in my sorrow,
    thy grace in my sin,
    thy riches in my poverty,
    thy glory in my valley. 

While this is not scripture itself, it does offer words on which to reflect and a breath of fresh air in this self-centered world (even to one who has a stuffy nose).  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Menu Planning::Part 2

Yesterday I told you all a little about how we do meals here at Casa Chadwick.  (I just demonstrated all of the Spanish I know.  It is indeed very little.)  While I have a system, it's not a rigid one.  It works well for us, though, so I suppose if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  (I have here demonstrated that I know how to use poor and improper grammer.)  I mentioned that I have a few items I like to make in bulk and then freeze, and in my original post I linked you to a couple of them.  One of our favorites, however, doesn't have a link, as it is the recipe for my mother's Sunday Biscuits.  I honestly don't know where she got this recipe, I just know I grew up eating them every Sunday.  (Perhaps she will enlighten us all somewhere in the comment section of this post.)  They are fabulous.  Not only do I keep some in the freezer, I also keep sandwich-sized Ziplock bags filled with the dry ingredients ready to go in case I run out of the pre-made, frozen ones.  The recipe goes a little like this:

Shanna's Sunday Biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour
1 TBS baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup shortening

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees (if you are going to go ahead and bake yours).  Mix first three ingredients together until well blended.  Cut in shortening.  (Here's where I change it up a bit.  I never measure the shortening.  I just spoon some in with a little butter until the dough is crumbly.)  Once the dough looks crumbly enough, add milk slowly and stir until a stiff  dough forms.  Roll out on a floured surface to desired thickness (remember they will rise in the oven), and cut using a round cutting object, such as a biscuit cutter or floured glass.  **If you want to freeze your biscuits, here's where you do it.  I flash freeze mine by placing them apart on parchment paper in the freezer.  After about 45 minutes I put them all in a labeled, gallon sized Ziplock bag.**  To bake (frozen or fresh): Place biscuits touching onto a lightly greased baking dish (such as a cast iron skillet or stone) and bake for 20-25 minutes or until tops are golden brown.  If your biscuits are frozen, there's no need to thaw them first.  They will bake just fine straight from the freezer.  

Now, my mother always served these with gravy, but we here on Lankford aren't big on gravy, so I serve them with butter and honey or fruit preserves.  They also taste great with a savory spread or some sundried tomatoes and cheese.  Any way you serve them, they are delicious.  Give it a try!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Menu Planning::Part 1

We rarely eat out, and when we do we try our hardest to be as healthy as possible about it. I love to cook, and even Mr. Tall and Handsome cooks quite well.  I don't really do menu planning as much as I do "hey I have this on hand" planning.  We Chadwicks have a few basic meals that we rotate through with an occasional fancy meal thrown in to mix things up.  I have some basic pantry staples that I like to keep on hand, knowing that I can do many different meals with just a few ingredients.  Some of the dry goods I like to stay stocked up on are yeast, flour, pasta, pasta sauce (most of which I make myself), rice (brown and instant white), seasonings, spices, basic baking supplies, dried beans, canned vegetables, and canned fruit.  I also keep the fridge and freezer full of milk, plain Greek yogurt, chicken, cheese, flour tortillas, and "freezer meal" starters.  I say "starters" because I don't really have enough freezer space for full meals.  I make large batches of biscuits from my mother's biscuit recipe and freeze them.  I make several dozen bean, cheese, and rice burritos and tuck them in there.  I do the same with breakfast pockets.  I also like to make a large batch of waffles and cinnamon rolls and freeze some of those, too.  This allows me to pull out what I need and cook a meal without much prep work.  All of the frozen meal starters that I make can go straight from freezer to a pre-heated oven which makes them extra nice.  I also shop at Kroger and keep an eye on their ads to see what weekly items they have on special.  The 10 for $10 products are often what I use in our "special" meals.

I keep track of our weekly meals on the side of the refrigerator with an Expo marker.  At the end of the week I simply wipe it clear with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  Here's what a typical week tastes like on Lankford:

Sunday:  Something I can throw into the crockpot (or place in gently depending on what it is).
Monday:  Some kind of pasta dish with vegetables on the side.
Tuesday:  Leftovers.
Wednesday:  A chicken dish with vegetables on the side.
Thursday:  Breakfast for supper.  
Friday:  Homemade pizza.
Saturday:  Leftover pizza.

I also rotate in things like homemade soup or things out of the freezer.  It may seem dull and boring, but there are many many ways to prepare pasta and chicken.  It's basically endless, and I don't always strictly adhere to this format.  Thursdays and Fridays are the exception.  Breakfast for supper is one of my favorites, and you just can't beat a homemade pizza.  I plan on coming back to this topic in the next couple of days to share with you some of the freezer recipes I use for stocking up and some of my basic stand-bys.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

An Easy Lunch

And it has protein!  Cook 1 cup of instant white rice and add it to one can of black beans and 1 small can of diced green chiles.  Heat until warm through and most of the water from the beans has cooked off.  I added a dollop of Greek yogurt to the top mine after I dished it up.  If you want a healthier version, you can use brown rice in place of the instant rice but remember brown rice takes about 45 minutes to cook.  It's not quite as easy a lunch then (unless you pre-cook the rice).  Very tasty.  Very simple.  

Monday, January 16, 2012

Taking Pictures

This little boy loves to take pictures with my computer.  He finds so much fun in watching Noah move around on the screen.  Unfortunately, the picture quality isn't very good.  He does make some great faces, though!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Favorite Things::A Cozy Day

No school today, so we all get to spend the next four days together.  Nothing quite like being bundled up inside.  Too bad the snow won't last that long.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Today::It's Snowing!

Kind of.  Not the thick, heavy snow that I really like, but it's snow just the same.  To celebrate the occasion, I pulled out some of Little Man's books that have snow in the story.  Maybe we'll even have hot cocoa later.  I don't think it's going to last long, so we'll enjoy watching it this morning as long as we can.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Growing Growing

Ever since this little boy started sleeping in his big boy bed and quit sitting in a booster seat at the table he finds himself very grown up.  He's sleeping later and no longer screams when I clean him up after eating.  He simply sticks his hands out and closes his eyes.  He likes to sit on the potty and now says several more words, even making short sentences occasionally.  He'll be two in a few weeks, and it's very true my friends that babies don't keep.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Anyone else's husband make fried pies in the last few days?  I think not.  The Dearest Darling made these using my mother's biscuit recipe and filled them with the pear preserves I put up this summer.  I can assure you these were most delicious!

Monday, January 9, 2012


There's now more of it!!  Mr. Handyman and I spent Saturday installing closet systems.  If you recall from this post that was one of the items around the house we wanted to accomplish this year, and despite having some major (and painful) dental work done just two days earlier, my darling did the work anyway.  He's a real-life He-Man, I tell ya.  We got two systems at a major discount from Lowe's, and they went into Little Man's closet and the one in our room.  

 Please ignore the sweet potatoes off to the side.

Our room before:

Little Man's room before:

Measuring and leveling.  Please do make sure you use a level.  The last thing you want is all of your clothes falling in the floor because your rods and shelves are installed at an incline.

Mid-work clutter:

Little Man's after:

Our room after:

 Yes, I do have canned produce in the floor of my closet.  Don't you?

It is amazing how much more storage space there is with just this one little change.  We do still want to get the attractive storage boxes that are sold to go with the shelves, but those can wait for now.  Mr. Chadwick did a great job of getting all of the support rods in place.  The most difficult part of the process was for me to decide where to put the shelves and hanging rods.  I was able to hang all of those myself, and since no one else in the house really cares where things like that are put, they were most agreeable about the finished products.  It's not even the middle of January yet, and we're already getting things checked off our list.  Here's to a productive and organized year!!