Saturday, March 30, 2013

Birthday Lemon Pound Cake

For Clay's birthday this year, I wanted to attempt his Granny's labor of love, Lemon Pound Cake. She made this every year for his birthday and for him, one of his fondest memories of her. You know one of the typical get-to-know you questions, "If you could meet one person, dead or alive, who would they be?" My answer is Granny. Clay has always talked so fondly of this precious lady who raised him and meeting her in Heaven one day is something I greatly look forward to. 

Unfortunately, I think her recipe is lost, which led me on a hunt. I came across many good recipes and a few that were actually even more health conscious than the one I chose. The winner was favored for one very specific reason... it belongs to another granny, Moms. 

You can find her guest post and recipe here: chocolate&carrots.




How did it turn out? Inimitable. Clay loved it. After our guests left, he walked straight to the cake, took another piece and said he was going to eat it just like he use to. He walked to the kitchen, leaned over the sink, ate the topping off and threw away the bottom! I almost died, but that quickly changed as I imagined him do this as a child, which brought me an unexpected joy and made me love him even more. Obviously his favorite part is the lemon glaze. Next time, I'll double the glaze and bring it all the way down to the sides instead of letting it drip. Shoot, I'll even have a little side of it for cake dipping!

I made a trip to Target to find a tube pan instead of using my bundt pan, which turned out winsomely! I wanted a little more modern appeal to a traditional desert and the switch of the pan was perfect. 

Side story: So, this week has been CRAZY busy with both work and home, so I have been running around like bored child in a clothing department. Thought I was gonna say chicken, didn't you?! Anyhoo... I was up at 7 yesterday peeling potatoes and trying to prep as much for dinner as possible because of working late and serving dinner at 7:30p with guests. In my attempt to stick to a 3 hour timeframe before work, I multi-tasked:



I can't begin to image what people were thinking when they walked or drove past my vehicle and noticed the butter on my dashboard. I HAD to get that butter at room temp before I got home and it worked!! The sticks almost flew out my windows a few time on turns, making it a comical realization that I had lost it. Think I started a new tradition of my own though. Just don't turn on your defroster when you get close to home to speed up any hard butter left. Bad idea.

Now that I have an amazing cake recipe with roots of its own, I'm going to try and tweak the recipe to make it my own. I know.... if it ain't broke, don't fix it, but I'm intrigued to see what coconut sugar,  coconut oil, and Palm shortening will taste like instead of butter, Crisco, and cane sugar. Will it change the flavor? Sure... but for the better or worse? I'll find out and let ya know! If it's horrible, I'll take Moms advice, "Don’t eat the whole thing in one sitting! Moderation in all things is a ‘good thing’." 

I love this tid-bit of advice, which is why I saved two pieces and froze the leftovers. I had mine for breakfast with coffee this morning (delish) and I'm sure Clay will have his lemon top with a Diet Coke. That's how we roll.

Happy Saturday!

Danielle



Saturday, March 23, 2013

How to Save a Few Bucks, Naturally

This past week, I went on an coupon adventure because I am so frustrated with receiving TONS of great coupons all the time, yet throwing 98% of them away. Why? 

Instead of Oscer Meyer or Kraft Cheese, we buy Applegate Naturals.

Instead of Tilex/Clorox/Tide, we buy Seventh Generation or I make it homemade.

Instead of Pantene Pro-V, we buy Jason or some other equivalent w/o parabens, petroleum, sodium lauryl or laureth sulfates, phthalates, etc.

Instead of Gillette or Colgate, we buy Kiss My Face.

Get my drift? Mainstream coupons do not benefit what most consider an "alternative" lifestyle. If you choose the same health-conscious path for you and your family, you know it is definitely not cheaper and we could use a break here and there!

Well, get ready to shriek in excitement because I found a diamond in the ruff!

Please say hello to EcoBonus.com!

You basically buy eco-conscious, natural, socially responsible products and then add their "bonus" codes right from the product onto your account and spend your points as you wish. How do I want to spend mine?

Here is the sentence that got me hooked: "Socially responsible products can be harder to fit into your budget. We'd like to change that. When you join EcoBonus, you get access to special coupons and offers from product manufacturers."

They also have a catalog with great products and even charities that you are able to delegate your points towards. In one word: phenomenal. Why didn't I think of this?

Definitely using mine toward coupons from manufactures like: Crystal, Kiss My Face, Dr. Bronners, Mrs. Meyer's, Coconut Bliss, and so much more!

Obtaining free coupons from products I already buy anyway made my week. What about yours?

Happy Couponing!

Danielle

Sunday, March 17, 2013

She Awakes

Well, hello there! Ok, so I have not blogged in, well... forever. Life got busy, my perfectionism got in the way and frankly, I hit a wall. The past year here has been a blur of balancing three jobs, marriage, school, life choices, and finding my place, amongst many other things. Needless to say blogging became the least of my worries. Funny thing is that even though I wasn't blogging, I was still thinking in post like thoughts. Do you ever do that? Think... this would make a great post or I would feel so much better just letting this out of my chest for the world to read it... scratch that, less than ten amazing followers. I love each one of you and I apologize for becoming MIA. You might have to wipe away any cob webs linked directly to this blog and blow the dust off your screen.

Blogging is a funny thing. I love writing, sharing new ideas/finds, and feeling like I can make a difference in somebody's life... until I get discouraged or lose focus. There were so many things I wanted to do with this blog and I became so overwhelmed that I just quit. Not smart. Don't do that. I've missed it and now understand that it is something I must do for myself because of the enjoyment it brings me. I need a creative outlet. Not perfection. I'm so Type A, it's ridiculous. From this point forward, I'm not gong to worry about what I blog about. It could be anything! Even just photos! That's ok, right? Bypassing all of the rules for a successful blog will set me free. I mean, let's get honest.... I'm not going to become the next Pioneer Woman or Katie Kimball from Kitchen Stewardship, like I dream of and that's totally fine.

I've realized that it is a challenge for me to do things, well.... just for me. Does anyone else struggle with this? I'm so concerned with everyone else around me that I tend to forget about Danielle and what makes her happy. Seeking my own joy instead of that of others feels unnatural, as our life is not our own, but I know I have to do it. I have to learn to balance these things like I do with other aspects of my life.

I'm not sure what this blog is going to look like now. I'm gonna take it one day at a time and see what happens. I may blog daily, weekly, or monthly without rhyme or reason. I'll talk about recipes, fashion, homemade household products, my family, insecurities, struggles, triumphs, God, crafts, the food industry, sewing, and any other little or big thing I feel the need to share with you. Are you up for it? I will be random, leaving somedays to cleverness and being worth your time, while other days you will be wondering what in the world I was thinking.

If your willing, I would be honored to have you aboard this crazy adventure.

Here's to transparency, heart, and above all glory to our Lord through embracing His journey.

Cheers.

Danielle

Monday, May 28, 2012

Work of Love

Today I conquered a fear... whole chicken.

Anyone else have this problem? One look at the skin and let's not even mention the innards... and gag.

For the love of our four-legged chocolaty goodness, I prepared this protein rich food supplement out of determination and frugalness.


This small organic, free-range chicken made almost 5 cups of meat and 11 cups of broth! 

Best part? The chicken was on sale at Kroger for $6! Total steal. There's the frugal!

How do you boil a whole chicken?

Easy. If your chicken has innards, pull them out. I threw mine right into the trash quicker than I care to admit... but saner people than myself actually cook them. Rinse the chicken, place in a big pot and add water to cover. Bring to boil uncovered and then reduce to simmer and cover. I flipped my chicken every 20 minutes till an hour passed. You know when the chicken is done because the legs and wings fall right off. Pull it out, let it sit for about 10-15 minuted to cool slightly and then shred. 

If you are making a full flavored chicken stock, add carrots, onion, celery, etc. I kept mine bland because I'm using the broth and meat for Memphis. 

Anything for this "not so little anymore" guy...


He's worth all the innards in the world!


Danielle Jones



Saturday, May 26, 2012

One Little Bird Pitched on Our Doorstep

Last night, we had an unexpected guest visit our home...





He was hanging on the front door wreath and flew in when we opened the door. 

Poor thing was hurt and in shock. Not being able to help this tiny creature broke my heart. 

After a while, Clay was able to catch the bird with a towel and place it back outside.



Thank you precious little bird for stopping by. 

I choose to believe that you are somewhere now singing these beautiful Bob Marley lyrics, reminding the world that every little thing will be alright. 

Till next time,

Danielle Jones

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Chocolate Truffle Cookies


*Adapted from Ellie Krieger's Triple Chocolate Cookies



What you'll need:
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened*
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Sugar in the Raw 
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (bring to liquid form in microwave, doesn't take much!)
  • 1 egg*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup King Arthur's Unbleached All-Purpose Flour 
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt (about a teaspoon) 
  • 1 box of Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Hearts with Rich Truffle Filling (You can fill with any chocolate candy you'd like. These chocolate are available during Valentines, so next time I might try Dove Hearts. Any chocolate candy will do. Pick your favorite!) 
*Must be at room temperature so that it doesn't solidify the coconut oil during mixing. 


Note: Some of my ingredients are pretty specific and that is for those of you that are like me and enjoy knowing exactly what someone used in their recipe. Free free to use whatever you have in your home! Check our original recipe for alternatives. 

What you'll do:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In mixer, blend together the butter and sugars until well combined. Add the oil and egg and blend until creamy. Add vanilla. In another bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three parts. This allows for better distribution of ingredients and a smoother batter. 

Using an ice-cream scoop, scoop the batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Place your chocolate of choice on top of each mound and press down slightly. These cookies do not expand, so whatever the circumference your cookies are before baking, they will be pretty much the same when they come out. Bake for 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.

Of course, I didn't have the patience last night to wait till the truffle cooled completely and I must say, they are much better this morning. The smooth texture of the truffle against the roughness of the cookie is wonderful. Hope you enjoy!

Happy Baking,

Danielle Jones

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Day A Solider Lived


Heavenly Father,

What can I say, other than "Thank  You?" How can I do anything else but pour my heart out to you in constant gratitude? Two years ago today, you kept this world from taking my husband. You surrounded him with angels and blessed our testimony with a miracle. You gave him the wisdom to wear his bullet proof gear when the other guys looked upon this routine with eyes of invincibility. Without it, the large pieces of shrapnel, now sealed tight in a jar, would have penetrated his chest and killed him instantly. You allowed pieces to graze the top of his helmet, surrounding him left and right. You comforted his fall with minor injuries, yet allowed hundreds, possibly thousands of tiny pieces to enter his arm and cheek. You left scars that will never let us forget the day you spoke loudly, "You are mine and I have great plans for you." Allow us to never forget the emotions that came and went during this time. Allow us to speak of your grace and mercy to others and testify of your Mighty Hand for years to come. Just as you spoke the world into motion, I believe you spoke into motion every piece of metal that was aimed directly at Clay. You provided swift hands and feet to the men around him. Father, my words are so futile to what is felt in my heart. Thank you for allowing us to still dream and walk together as husband and wife. Thank you for saving a husband, brother, son, best friend, and the future father to our children. I can't imagine growing old with anyone else besides him. Thank you for our love, Father. More than that, thank you for first loving us. May the 14th of March be a special day of remembrance for the rest of our lives, not only for your saving grace, but also in gratitude to all of the families who have, are, and will sacrifice for the freedoms we have... Amen.


Many of you may recognize this prayer because it was posted exactly one year ago today. I will continue pray this prayer for the rest of my life. March 14 has been forever marked. 

Danielle Jones