March 29, 2009

Great Friends & Fruit Pizza

The month of April is going to be insane for us. Of the four weekends during the month, I will be gone three of them. I needed to feel a bit sane yesterday, so Todd and I stayed around the house all day tackling our lengthy to-do list.

I took a break and turned on the Food Network. If you're a little tense, Giada or the Barefoot Contessa have a way of putting you at ease. I think it's their calm voices - I have to fight to stay awake, but in a good way! While watching I got the urge to bake something and landed on a fruit pizza. After trying the fruit tartlet from Provence in Green Hills last weekend, I had the biggest craving for anything with fresh fruit and fruit pizza was close enough and super easy to make.

You start with a few ingredients:

Roll the sugar cookie out to form a pizza crust.

Bake the cookie dough and let it cool. Then just spread the cream cheese mixture and add fruit. Todd made smiley faces with the fruit as I sliced.

Let the pizza chill for an hour, glaze with apple jelly and you're done!

Knowing we wouldn't be able to eat it all ourselves, we invited the family over to help us!

March 23, 2009

Tacos in Pasta Shells

Last Friday Todd and I headed over to Josh and Christi's - if you have read my blog long, you will notice I mention those two a lot. Because we ♥ them.

Josh & Christi

Because Christi slaved over an amazing dinner the last time we were over, it was my turn to cook for them. I made one of my very favorite dishes - a recipe I found when I was 13 or 14 in one of my grandmother's magazines. It was the first meal I ever cooked for my family, the first dish I made for Todd (to show him that he should marry me because yes, I can cook - sometimes!) And since I have made it so many times, I also make it for friends because I can usually guarantee it won't be fed to the dog under the table. :)

Christi was so sweet to give me a shout-out on her blog and a few of her friends were curious about this funny titled recipe. For anyone interested, the recipe is below. These are yummy right out of the oven, but I personally love them best the next day. Enjoy!

Tacos in Pasta Shells:


18 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 bottle (16 ounces) taco sauce, divided
3 ounces fat-free cream cheese, cubed
2 teaspoons chili powder (Add until you get the taste you want!)
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
20 tortilla chips, coarsely crushed


Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook beef until no longer pink; drain. Add 1/2 cup taco sauce, cream cheese and chili powder; cook and stir until blended. Drain pasta and rinse in cold water; stuff each shell with about 2 tablespoons beef mixture. Arrange in an 11-in. x 7-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spoon remaining taco sauce over the top. Cover and bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with cheese blend and tortilla chips. Bake 15 minutes longer or until heated through and cheese is melted. Yield: 6 servings.

March 19, 2009

Spring Fever

It's spring fever.
That is what the name of it is.
And when you've got it, you want -
oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want,

but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!
~Mark Twain

I got a glimpse of spring this week. Actually it was more like summer, but I wasn't complaining. It was 80 degrees and sunny in Houston. I almost needed to reach for the sunscreen. I got back to Nashville last night and wasn't so excited to wake up to cloudy, 60 degree weather.

During my 5+ hours stuck in the Houston airport last night, I decided I would use that time to get inspired. I don't often have time to surf the web, but I had plenty yesterday and found lots of inspiration!

Todd and I have a trip to North Carolina scheduled the first part of April to visit my mom and sister (it's partially work-related which helps on the budget!). We're going to stop halfway in Asheville to take in the mountain views. Before we continue on to Raleigh, I have decided that we have to stop at Tupelo Honey Cafe in downtown Asheville for breakfast. It was voted "Best Breakfast of 2007." Their menu looks amazing!

Then off to Raleigh we'll go where we'll spend much needed time with family and have a little getaway to celebrate our upcoming 10 year anniversary (I'll be posting about that soon!) We're going to go to the Outer Banks for a day to enjoy the beach. I'd like to think our trip will look something like this:

How great would it be to walk the beach at sunset and pass this lighthouse? Ahh...

Spring will also mean it's time for my soon-to-be garden. I found the greatest website and tutorial for building a raised bed vegetable garden and I'm getting antsy. A Home Depot trip might have to be in order this weekend.

Alright, enough of my daydreaming. I have to remember the great things about cold weather too. This weekend is going to be filled with cold weather activities like cooking dinner with friends (the Rushes) and curling up on the couch to watch our favorite new show. Our friends (the Bradfords) are also visiting this weekend from Charleston and there is never a dull moment when they are around. We can't wait to see them. So I'll be patient with spring and enjoy the time with the people I love regardless of the weather!

Enjoy your weekend!

March 16, 2009

Family Ties

I always come back from Ozark just a little exhausted. I have a good excuse this time. I caught a cold while we were in town, but the weekend wasn't all lost. It was actually just what I needed.

First, an update on Todd's mom. The tumor in her breast is malignant, but because it was caught so early, the doctors believe that they can remove it by doing a lumpectomy and radiation. This weekend was really a cause for celebration. We are so relieved that the lump is contained and that she should be back to normal in a few weeks. We are so thankful for the many prayers and kind words of our family and friends. Because of the amazing support we were given, I feel a little like those people in the Verizon commercials who have the "network." I know that when hard times come, those in our network are on their knees with us, crying with us, and holding us up. I'm constantly amazed.

We celebrated with an incredible lunch at Haruno. Who would have thought that such great sushi could come from Springfield, MO? It was so good I had to take a picture!

The following night we had a surprise birthday party for my step-mom. She turned 40, so of course we had to go all out. My Aunt Terry (who is a ball of energy!) made the cake. It got a lot of laughs.

We had a great time seeing everyone. I think Kerre was very surprised.

It's not a party with my family until the music starts. It's not too hard to see where my love for music comes from. Below is my dad singing. It's a little blurry, but it was the only shot I was able to get.

The weekend ended with another party for my little sister who turns 13 on Tuesday. Thirteen. Wow. I feel so old! It's hard to believe that when Todd and I started dating she was only 3 years old. She has become a young woman over night. Last week she called me at work to tell me she has a boyfriend. Her first boyfriend! I felt so honored that I was the first person she told. His name is Ben and she says he's "so funny." I love it!

Happy 13th Birthday, Shaye! We love you.

Now I'm off to pack for another work trip. I'm heading back to Houston. I'm hoping (and praying) that this trip goes much better than the last!

March 11, 2009

A Quick Trip to Atlanta

Yesterday I left for a quick work trip to Atlanta. I was a little hesitant about going because of everything going on with Todd and his family. It just felt like bad timing to leave him. But God knew how much I needed the quick getaway and He had reasons for letting me escape for a little while (even if it was work-related). How foolish am I for forgetting his timing is perfect?

I rode down with two of my favorite coworkers, AJ and Matt and after a 4 hour van ride we arrived in Alpharetta to play Whirly Ball. If you're not familiar, it's bumper cars meets lacrosse. It was a blast. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. And I was pretty dang good at it if I say so myself! ;)

After working up a sweat (seriously, it was intense), we headed to dinner and then a showcase that evening. I fell in love with my job all over again last night. I am so blessed to work with such amazing artists. They have an ability to minister and encourage that blows me away. It's during difficult times that I'm reminded of the power of Christian music. When you're in the valley, the lyrics have a way of reaching out and grabbing you, a healing power almost.

When we found out that Todd's mom might be sick, I felt guilty. It was my goals and dreams that brought Todd and me to Nashville. My love for the music industry took an only child from his parents and he should be angry with me for being away from home at a time like this, right? Thankfully Todd's thoughts couldn't be further from my own (again, how crazy for me to turn this into my problem). He loves it here as much as I do. But I needed the trip to Atlanta to remind me that God called us here. I needed to remember that He opened the doors and He paved the way for us to be here. He called us to careers that minister to his people. It was so refreshing to "hear" that again. To know that God has His hand on our family and that we can trust Him to care for them while we live life here.

As we drove back into Nashville, I felt such a peace. I am comforted knowing that we are where we're supposed to be. I am confident that God is in complete control of our lives and the lives of our loved ones wherever they may be. I came back with my head held just a bit higher.

As I thought of Todd's mom and the battle we face, the words from "The Preistly Blessing" by John Waller ran through my head. It's that healing power I was talking about:

Lord bless us and keep us

Make your face to shine upon us

Raise your countenance on us

And give us peace...

**I'll have an update on Todd's mom very soon. Thanks to all for your prayers. We are so thankful for you!

March 5, 2009

The "L" Word

I have a bit of a struggle with this blog. I actually started reading blogs when my favorite magazine Cottage Living went out of business. I thought blog stalking would help save on my magazine budget! But as I got started writing myself, I realized that my blog would be more like a journal with pictures. Now I can look over the past couple of months and relive the moments I have experienced. Most of the time my posts are glimpses into our simple life filled with family, friends, and food. I can't forget the food! But I'm also realizing that if I want to truly record and remember the events in my life, I can't just write about the happy ones.

Today is not a happy post, but it is a hope-filled one.

Yesterday was a day I won't soon forget. I had only been at work for a little while when my cell rang. It was Todd. I figured he was calling to tell me about something he heard on the radio on his way to work, so I let it go to voicemail. Then, during a meeting, my office phone lit up with his number. My meeting would be over in 20 minutes, so I let it ring. He immediately called again and I told my coworkers I needed to answer. It wasn't like him to be so impatient.

I answered and the following minutes were a blur.

Todd had just got off the phone with his mom. She was leaving the doctor's office and had called to say that her mammogram results came back and they found the dreaded "L" word: a lump. A large mass in one of her breasts. If you know me very well, you know that I tend to freak out. I tend to always assume the worst and well, freak out. But at that moment all I cared about was taking care of Todd and making the pain go away. I could literally feel his fear in my bones. I felt helpless. But I was also filled with a strength I have never known and a calm I've never experienced. I knew I had to be strong for him and if nothing else, pray.

I immediately started e-mailing everyone I could think of. Within minutes our closest friends were texting and e-mailing. Todd and I were humbled by their love for us. We knew that when they said they would drop everything they really meant it. One of our pastors came by last night to check on Todd and talk football. It sounds silly to "talk football," but that's the magic button for my husband and I could tell he was happy to get his mind on other things.

So now we wait. Todd's mom has a biopsy on Tuesday and we find out the results on Thursday. But thankfully we were planning a trip to Missouri next weekend anyway, so we're thankful for God's timing that will allow Todd to be with his family that day.

We know God is in control and that this isn't a surprise to Him. We fully trust in His provision for our lives.

"Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope."
(Ephesians 3:20)

Todd's mom Tracy getting her groove on in downtown Nashville. Now you know where Todd gets it. :)