Archive for June, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday

Today’s post is the second installment of our virtual vacation.  I am taking you on the journey that C & I enjoyed on our road-trip vacation a couple of weeks ago.  Last week, we drove from our home to Lexington, Virginia, via Foamhenge.  Today, we finally see water!!!

We left Lexington, Virginia on Monday morning heading toward Virginia Beach.  Richmond was the next bigger city that we would drive through and we busted rush hour wide open!  Even the interstate was curvy!  I kept watching the road signs all the way just counting the miles down until we got to our destination.  When we arrived in Hampton, we were met with a surprise…the 2nd tunnel of our trip, and this one went under the water of Hampton Bay.  I could tell that we were really landlubbers, because when we saw the bay, we just oohed and aahed over the size.  We thought it was amazing, and we hadn’t even seen the ocean yet.


C loved seeing all of the Navy ships that were in the bay.  He can name just about all of the different types.


Next was the tunnel.  Here we go…





I hope you can tell from these photos that you go down and down in to the tunnel and then climb back up to the light at the end.  Boy, was I glad to see that light, too!  This tunnel brought us into Norfolk, which is a beautiful city.  We really enjoyed the time we spent there, but that is a story for another Thursday.




I was getting so excited and it seemed like it took forever to get to our final destination…Virginia Beach.  Why was Virginia Beach so special that we picked it for our first ocean view ever?  There are a few reasons.  One was that C wanted to see Foamhenge and it was along the way there.  Another is that my Mom played on the shores of Virginia Beach when she was just a toddler.  My grandfather was in the Army and stationed near Williamsburg, so he, my Nanny, and Mom (my Aunt M wasn’t around yet) would go to the beach and play.  Nanny has always talked about being there and I thought it would be a special thing to walk where they walked when they were at the ocean, and it was.  I felt Mom’s presence with me on numerous occasions and I so wished that I could talk to her in person to tell her I got to go, but deep down I know she knows everything that we got to experience.  Here is a photo of my mom at Virginia Beach…


We had finally arrived and made our way down to Atlantic Avenue where our hotel was located right on the beach front.




We stayed at the Hampton Inn-Oceanfront North and it was an awesome hotel.  All of the rooms have oceanfront balconies, mini-fridges, and microwaves.  I highly recommend it.

Here is our first view of the Atlantic Ocean…


…and our first self-portrait there.


One thing I definitely noticed was the wind.  All of the pictures that I am in look like this or worse…windblown.  The ocean and beach were so amazing and gorgeous that it was overwhelming.  I could have sat there and watched it the whole time we were there, but I didn’t.  We saw and did some really cool things that I plan to share with you in the coming weeks.

That evening we walked the boardwalk, got our toes wet in the surf, and watched the sunset which was a beautiful end to an amazing day!












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Sailing, sailing…somewhere beyond the sea…





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Menu Plan Monday

Another week has passed and I survived my first week back to work after vacation, but just barely.  Why does that first week back seem so long…even longer than the week before vacation.  Oh, well.  At least there is a long weekend coming up for the Independence Day holiday.  Happy birthday, America!

This week’s menu is made up of old faithfuls and favorites because it is time to enjoy the summer and not worry about fancy meals quite so much.  It will be nice to keep it simple and be able to enjoy a little deck time in the evenings just relaxing.  There is also have an event coming up very very soon, my 20th high school reunion. Gulp!  I can’t believe I am old enough to have a 20 year reunion, but since I wasn’t a child genius, I am certainly the right age.  I am looking forward to seeing some of my classmates that I haven’t seen probably since graduation.  I am sure it will be a blast!

Here is this week’s plan.  Get out there and enjoy the sunshine if you can!

Homemade sloppy Joes with oven baked fries

Cheesy corn chip skillet and salad

Grilled hot dogs & chips

Hot ham & cheese rolls

Grilled pork chops with grilled potato wedges

Shredded pork BBQ with oven baked fries

Pecan Pie

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Fudgy Brownies

I found this recipe on the Taste of Home website last year, but had not had a chance to try it.  When I was searching through my files for something new last week, I found this and thought it would be perfect.  Boy, was I right!  This is so rich and decadent that a little goes a long way, but it is so good!

Try this with a big tall glass of cold milk to wash it down.  Yummo!


1 package fudge brownie mix (13-inch x 9-inch pan size)

1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 to 3 tablespoons peanut butter

2 tablespoons cold 2% milk

4-1/2 teaspoons instant vanilla pudding mix

1 can (16 ounces) chocolate fudge frosting


Bake the brownies according to package directions.  I used 2 smaller baking dishes instead of the 9×13 because I was taking this to two difference places.

When the brownies have cooled, combine the confectioner’s sugar, butter, peanut butter, milk, and vanilla pudding mix in the bowl.  Mix until creamy then spread over the cooled brownies.




Now spread the chocolate frosting over the peanut butter layer and chill for 30 minutes.  Enjoy!!!





I linked this recipe at Miz Helen’s Country Cottage Full Plate Thursday!  Check it out here.

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Today starts your virtual journey on C & I’s 10th anniversary vacation we took last week.  I hope you enjoy, but I warn you that you may get tired of all of the photos I put on here from this trip.  We had such an amazing time road-tripping through parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio before making our way back to bluegrass land.  It was an adventure I will never forget!

C & I started out on Sunday with the plan to drive to Natural Bridge, Virginia to see Foamhenge.  That’s right, I did say “Foamhenge” not “Stonehenge”.  Here is a little history…I was watching Ace of Cakes on the Food Network one night and, in that episode, Duff and Geoff take a road trip.  One of the stops they made was at Foamhenge, which is a free road-side attraction built by an artist.  It is a full-scale replica of Stonehenge made of huge foam blocks.  C was hooked!  He had to see this.  We had already been talking about a beach vacation to celebrate our 10th anniversary and that pretty much sealed the deal for Virginia Beach.  Anyway, back to our story.

We arrived at the Kentucky/Tennessee/Virginia lines (yes, they are that close together) and realized that we would have to go through the Cumberland Gap Tunnel.  Gulp!  I am not that fond of being underground, but here goes…


After that, we took Highway 58 through a good portion of Eastern Virginia.  This is a main highway, but it wraps around a mountain so it is really, really curvy.  Then it started to rain while we were on the really curvy road.  Thankfully, we made it without any problems and the scenery was great to look at.




We finally arrived at Foamhenge and it was so cool!  The place is not fancy, but if you like Stonehenge and have a sense of humor, you really need to go!


It was kind of desolate.  I was a little afraid someone would sneak in and lock the gate behind us.




There is even a levitating Merlin!


This is the path back down to where we parked.

We were being watched!  I think it was an attack deer! 


Once we had experienced Foamhenge, we headed toward Lexington, Virginia, where we were spending the night at the Hampton Inn-Historic District.  This hotel is partially housed in a historic house called Col Alto.  You can stay in those rooms, or did like we did, stay in the separate hotel in the back which is quite a bit cheaper.  You can still walk through the historic home and enjoy the ambience without having to shell out the big bucks.  I was saving my hotel budget for the beach!







This is it for Day 1.  Please check back next Thursday as we travel to the coast!

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Almost-Wordless Wednesday

One of my favorite books is Big Stone Gap and here is proof that the town really exists…


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Menu Plan Monday

Good Monday morning, readers!  Sorry I was MIA last week, but it was for a very important reason.  C & I celebrated our 10th anniversary last Tuesday and decided a few months ago to do something neither of us had ever done to commemorate it…go to the ocean!

We spent last week road-tripping from our home in South Central Kentucky to Virginia Beach, Virginia and had the most awesome time!  I have so many things to share with you and it will all start this Thursday in my next Thoughtful Thursday post.  I usually do those every other week, but I have so much to pass on that it will be a weekly highlight for the next little bit.  I think we toured and “sight-saw” everything we possibly had time for.  I don’t want to give away too much.  Check back on Thursday for the first installment.

This week is back to reality with work and home, but that is okay.  Just knowing that we had the opportunity to do the things we did last week is enough to make me appreciate our jobs that let us be able to! A little side-note about this week:  1 night we are going with my dad to a baseball game as part of his Father’s Day and 1 night is grocery night.  I did say we were getting back to reality and my cupboard is bare!

Grilled pork chops and butter roasted potatoes

Grilled steaks and oven baked fries


Beef roast Italiana with butter roasted potatoes

7-UP cake (new)

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This recipe is June’s edition of the Southern Plate-Picture Perfect Cooking project and I have to admit that I had my doubts about this one.  I used to love fruit cocktail when I was a kid, but had not eaten it in years.  When I read this recipe I was intrigued, but I wasn’t sure how putting these ingredients together could come out as a delicious cake.  Well, it does! 

You don’t really know there is fruit cocktail in the cake because all of the fruit just seems to bake into the batter and makes this so moist.  Oh, then there is the business of the sauce that goes on top.  Oh. My. Goodness.  The sauce is amazing!  I may try to make the sauce with brown sugar instead of white sugar and see if it comes out like a praline sauce.  Yum!  Try this and you will not be disappointed!

There was one little change I made.  I do not like flaked coconut and the sauce recipe calls for it.  I just left it out and the sauce was still delicious.  Below is the original recipe, but the photos included will not show the coconut.

For The Cake:

2 cups self-rising flour

one 15oz can fruit cocktail

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 13×9” baking dish.  With an electric mixer, combine all of the cake ingredients and beat at low speed for about 2 minutes.  Pour into the pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.




For the sauce:

1 stick unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup evaporated milk

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

While the cake is in the oven, make the sauce.  Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar.  Boil for 1 to 2 minutes until everything is completely incorporated. 

Using a toothpick, poke many small holes in the top of the hot cake and pour the sauce over.  Let it set for about an hour and enjoy!






I am linking this recipe to Lady Behind The Curtain’s Cast Party Wednesday!

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Perfect Cupcake Frosting and Filling

When I found this recipe, I thought it looked familiar and then I realized why.  If you have ever made a Twinkie cake, this frosting is very similar to the filling.  In fact, it may be the very same thing.  This is a great frosting for “beginning decorators” kind of like myself.  I can bake, but decorating cakes and cupcakes has never been my strong suit.  My skills are improving a little and I think having the right piping tips helps as well.  As you will see below, I listed the exact tips I used and the results I got.  I will tell you my favorite at the bottom.

I found this version of frosting/filling at Our Best Bites.  Their site is full of delicious looking food and other cute projects, so please check it out.

3 tbsp flour

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup real butter, room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla


Whisk together the flour and milk.  Heat in a small sauce pan on medium heat. Whisk continuously until it starts to thicken.  Let is cook, while stirring, until it looks like pudding.  You should be able to see the bottom of the pan when you stir it.  Push the thick mixture through a mesh strainer to smooth then cool completely to room temperature.  It has to be completely cooled to mix with the next ingredients.



In an electric stand mixer using the whisk attachment, beat the butter and sugar for about 2 minutes until well combined and fluffy.  Add the thickened and cooled milk mixture and the vanilla.  Beat on the highest speed for 7 minutes.  Yep, that’s right, 7 whole minutes!  I know that sounds like a lot, but it takes that long for this frosting to come together.  If after 7 minutes, the texture is not right, keep beating it.  It will eventually combine for a smooth and creamy frosting.

Here are the different icing tips I used and the results from them.










And here is one I messed up, so I just had to be the hero and get rid of it! Hee, hee!


My favorite tip, by far, is the 2D which is the first one shown. My next favorite is the 1M, which is the last one shown.  The second one is ok, but I didn’t like the texture as well.  I love the ruffles that the first tip creates!

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