Peach Cupcakes with Peach Buttercream

I really love planning a party!  I can find any excuse necessary to create a menu, pull out decorations, and make everything on my table match.  Don’t believe me?  Just last night I spent at least an hour considering throwing a FRIENDS party.  It’s only my all-time favorite tv show ever!

There is no good reason to throw a FRIENDS party.

There is no tv reunion happening.

The show has been in reruns for over a decade.

But I have friends!  And they’re great!  And I can’t think of any better reason to make Phoebe’s chocolate chip cookies, or Rachel’s Thanksgiving trifle (minus the beef sauteed with peas and onions).

But I digress…

I started planning Ivy’s first birthday party when she was 6 months old.  I couldn’t wait to throw her the sweetest, most beautiful, peachy party!  I spent months on Pinterest finding every peach idea possible and pinning every cute first birthday party photo idea I could find.  It was so much fun and worth every minute hour I spent. 🙂

I finally settled on these delicious peach cupcakes with peach buttercream, and I couldn’t have been more pleased!

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Is it too early to start planning for her second birthday party? 😉


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Peach Cupcakes with Peach Buttercream

(www.cathlincooks.blogspot.com)

Cupcakes
2-2 ½ cups unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup sugar
1 cup fresh peach puree
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons vinegar

Buttercream
¾ cup butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
¼ cup peach puree
Vanilla, to taste

Cake
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin, or lightly grease and flour a 9-inch round or 8-inch square cake pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar into a bowl. In a measuring cup, mix together the peach puree, oil and vanilla. Add the peach mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk together until combined. At this point, you may want to add some yellow and food colouring to achieve a peachier colour. When the batter is smooth, add the vinegar and stir quickly. The batter will foam slightly where the baking soda and vinegar are reacting. Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 20 minutes if making cupcakes, or 25 to 30 minutes it making cake. Allow to cool before glazing or frosting.

Peach Buttercream
Whip the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until well combined. Add peach puree and vanilla and beat again until smooth. You may want to add some yellow and red food colouring to achieve a peachier colour.
Can be piped or spread onto cakes.

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Ivy Turns 1!

Life moves incredibly fast.  And when you measure time in months, it seems to fly by before you have the chance to think twice.  A year ago this sweet little gem entered our world.

IMG_0651Life has been sweeter, more lovely, filled with much more laughter, and better than we could have ever imagined.  She’s fiesty, observant, and seriously on the move!  Try to stop her and you’ll be greeted with leg kicking and squeals, both of which we are working hard at getting a handle on. 😉

There are so many things we don’t know about her yet, and we are so excited to find out who she will be!  Here are the things we do know about her.

  • She loves her stuffed zebra, swinging, bath time, her dog, and any music she can dance to.
  • She loves olives, eggs, and eats cheese by the massive handfuls.
  • She has so many fun, colorful, noise-making toys, but still chooses the stairs, DVD shelf, and tupperware drawer every time.
  • She shrieks in excitement every time her daddy comes home from work.

This past weekend we celebrated her first birthday with those she loves most!

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It was perfect.  It was full of middle of May sunshine, bubbles, balloons, peaches, cake smashed between fingers, and loads of gifts.  Love this little girl and all she has brought into our lives!

*All photo credit goes to my amazing dad who shot pictures endlessly, capturing this day and her excitement beautifully.

Adoption Auction!

You guys!

Some things are worth sharing with everyone you know, and this just happens to be one of them.  Our dear friends, Cody & Kristen adopted a beautiful little girl, Mae, from China a couple of years ago, and now they are getting ready to bring home two more precious ones!  You can read about their story here!

As you can imagine, the expense is great and they have been coming up with some very creative ways to fundraise!  Check out their auction that they have going on!

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They have some super cute items up for auction that you DO NOT want to miss out on!  Take a stroll on over to their site and place a bid for a cute gift and a good cause!

Happy Friday!

Dark Chocolate Sea Salted Toffee

If you missed my book review of Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist, turn around and read it.  It’s an excellent book full of encouragement to share life around the table with those you love!

When I read the recipe for the Dark Chocolate Sea Salted Toffee I knew it would be one of the first ones I would try.  I’m a sucker for anything that melts butter and sugar and calls it good enough to eat!

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Don’t be fooled by how fancy this toffee looks.  Shauna’s recipe goes against all rules of candy-making by skipping the candy thermometer all together, making it super easy to make!  I’m a rule follower, and when it comes to candy-making I like to be very precise so it was a stretch for me to make this with only my visual instincts to tell me when it was done.  But it worked!  And it is every bit as delicious as it looks!

Make it.  Enjoy it.  Try not to eat it all in one sitting.

Dark Chocolate Sea Salted Toffee

Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine

1 cup butter (2 sticks)

2 cups sugar

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1 tsp coarse sea salt

  • In a saucepan, combine butter and sugar, and bring to a boil.  Over medium-high heat, keep stirring until it turns a deep amber color.
  • Remove from heat and pour onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or until cool and solid to the touch.
  • Melt chocolate chips in a glass bowl over a pot of gently boiling water.  When the chocolate is smooth, pour it over the toffee and spread with a spatula.  Sprinkle sea salt, and then refrigerate until cooled and solid.  Break into irregular pieces.

Bread & Wine Book Review

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“It’s about what happens when we come together, slow down, open our homes, look into one another’s faces, listen to one another’s faces, listen to one another’s stories.  It happens when we leave the office and get a sitter and skip our workouts every so often to celebrate a birthday or an accomplishment or a wedding or a birth, when we break out of the normal clockwork of daily life and pop the champagne on a cold, gray Wednesday for no other reason than the fact that the faces we love are gathered around our table.  It happens when we enter the joy and the sorrow of the people we love, and we join together at the table to feed one another and be fed, and while it’s not strictly about food, it doesn’t happen without it.  Food is the starting point, the common ground, the thing to hold and handle, the currency we offer to one another.” ~ Bread & Wine, by Shauna Niequist

Aaron and I love having people in our home.  We love lots of laughter, loud voices, and numerous stories being told at once.  We have a small home with rarely enough room to entertain our many times large groups of people, and yet we do it anyway.  We gather together to laugh, celebrate, pass time, reminisce, make new memories, sometimes cry, and always eat.  Sometimes it’s dinner, and sometimes it’s dessert.  Sometimes it’s hot coffee with slightly sweet, freshly whipped cream.  Sometimes it’s right out of the oven chocolate chip cookies.  During Christmas it’s plain sugar cookies that everyone decorates themselves.  In the summer it’s a tropical mixed drink and Mekenzie’s delicious guacamole with Juanita’s tortilla chips.  No matter the time of year, or time of day, we love to open our home to those we love!

I have been a huge fan of Shauna Niequist for the past couple of years, and her newest book, Bread & Wine, does not disappoint.  It is exactly what the title states: “a love letter to life around the table.”  It brings simplicity to an act that has become obsolete in our society today.  Inviting people into our homes carries with it a vulnerability that can be difficult to overcome.  Fear of what others may think of our messy home, or our lack of skill in the kitchen keeps us from experiencing deep relationship with one another.  The kind that happens when we pause for the day, look at each other around the table, share about the good and the bad, and nourish ourselves with food.

Throughout this gem of a book Shauna shares her own experiences, giving us hope to share life with others around our own tables.  Her stories touch the heart and have you feeling like you are sitting across from her dipping a crusty piece of bread in oil and vinegar, while sipping on a glass of red wine.  It’s delightful, full of soul, and filled with recipes that will make your mouth water!

For my very own “Bread & Wine” experiment I invited our dear friends Corey & Whitney and their sweet as pie little boy, Greyson, to be our guinea pigs for a full meal of new recipes from the book.  We dined on a pan of Annette’s Enchiladas, Esquites, black beans warmed with a couple of tablespoons of barbecue sauce and finished the evening with Dark Chocolate Sea Salted Toffee with vanilla ice cream.  And as we dined we shared about our day, smiled over our sweet little ones as they munched on crackers together, and laughed our way through stories told.  The food was easy to make and delicious!

This book is worth purchasing and reading cover to cover as soon as you can get your hands on it. 🙂  Curl up with it, get lost in the stories, and then invite those that you love to sit around your own table and share life.  You won’t regret it!

Dreaming of Summer…

I find myself aching for summer these days.

For iced coffees, long days, windows down, doors open, Aaron home, lunch on the back deck, grilled burgers, walks that don’t require big coats and blankets, days at the lake, deeply red Oregon strawberries, gallons of iced tea, bright flowers hanging on my front porch, corn on the cob, BLTs with thick cut bacon and juicy plump garden tomatoes, and days where you never actually wear a real outfit because you go from pajamas to swimsuit to yoga pants and a tank top because it’s just that hot.

This week has been filled with days hitting 60 degrees, making me think summer will soon be here.  So I decided to get some blueberries out of the freezer and make some Banana-Berry Muffins while pretending it was a warm enough morning to enjoy one out on the back deck.

It worked.

Yesterday felt like a long-awaited pre-summer day and the smell of banana-blueberry muffins floating through our house was enough to keep me daydreaming for several hours.  Do you have a favorite summer drink, food, tradition or memory?

Banana-Berry Muffins

(Hay Day Country Market Cookbook, by Kim Rizk)

Makes 18 muffins (or 10 jumbo muffins)

8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 large bananas)

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup plain yogurt

1 heaping cup fresh raspberries, stemmed blueberries, or blackberries, gently rinsed and drained (I used some that I froze)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly butter muffin cups.

2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.  Add the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the mashed banana and vanilla, and blend in.  (The mixture will look slightly curdled, but it will pull together once the dry ingredients are added.)

3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture in batches, alternating with the yogurt.  Mix until all the dry ingredients are moistened.  Stir in the berries.

4. Fill the prepared muffin cups two-thirds full, and bake until the muffins have risen and are nicely colored (a tooth-pick inserted in the center should come out clean), 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool in the muffin cups for about 2 minutes.  Then turn the muffins out onto a wire rack so they’re bottom side up, and allow them to cool for a few minutes more before serving.

*These muffins are very moist and keep well in an airtight container for two to three days.  The batter itself keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple of days, which means you can scoop out enough for a few fresh muffins each morning.

Lately…

Hello friends!

Things around the Schrader home always get busy after Christmas.  Basketball season hits full swing and we are out the door two nights a week for practice and two nights a week for games.  Add those up and we are at the school more than we are at home!  Things don’t slow down until after the first couple of weeks in March, and boy am I ready for it!

I saw this on one of my favorite blogs, and thought I would follow suit on my own…just so you know I’m still here.  Here’s what I’ve been up to lately.

loving:  The Mindy Project.  Seriously, this is the best show on tv right now.  If you haven’t jumped on this train yet, take a big leap for Pete’s sake!  You’re missing out!

reading: “A Year of Biblical Womanhood” by Rachel Held Evans.

year of biblical womanhood

I can’t say it’s revolutionizing the way I think about the subject, but it is mildly entertaining to read about someone who is very independent and quite liberal muddling their way through it.

waiting to: be placed with my first client with eaHELP!  I just got hired with this company last week and am waiting to get my first client.  So exciting!

excited for: my advanced copy of Shauna Niequist’s new book “Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table” to come in the mail.  She is one of my favorite writers and I am so excited to read her latest and write about it here!

trying to: barrel through these last few weeks of coaching cheer.  It’s been a long, difficult season, and I’m ready to see the end.  I’m pretty certain that my girls are ready too.  I’m learning that some years, no matter how hard you try, it just doesn’t click.  And that’s okay.

working on: some handmade projects for this cause!  Our dear friends are planning their second adoption from China and we could not be happier for them.  They are wonderful parents to their first little girl Mae, and they are so excited to bring their little boy Ian home soon!  If you feel so inclined, visit Kristen & Cody’s Goodsie Store and pick up a t-shirt or something cute from the handmade section to support them!

watching: Hatfields & McCoys.  My goodness this is such a good mini-series.  It is one of the most fascinating and intriguing stories of family feud, and Aaron and I are hooked!

planning: The Well Conference here in Bend, Oregon with some of the most talented, creative, and amazing people I know!  This year features Bo Stern, Elliot, and Phil Wickham!  You won’t want to miss it!

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singing: JT’s latest, Suit & Tie.  It’s my jam.

needing: a new mattress.  Desperately.  Does someone want to explain to me why in the world these things are so ridiculously expensive? Geez.

learning: how to sew.  I’m teaching myself, which is monumentally harder than having someone show me how, but I’m getting there.  I have some very cute things I want to try, including some fun summer dresses for Ivy!

listening to: Ivy learning how to exert her will these days.  We are entering a new season and she’s letting me know what makes her unhappy every chance she gets.  Good thing she’s so darn cute!

wishing: for a vacation.  Like a real, kick-back, give-me-a-massage, bring-me-a-drink, soak up the sun vacation.  It’s not going to happen, but a girl can wish.

doing: a lot of party planning!  With Aaron’s birthday coming up in a couple of months and Ivy’s first birthday shortly after that, I’ve been spending WAY too much time on Pinterest!  But who am I kidding…I love it!

dreaming of: summer.  I love every season, but this summer Ivy will be toddling around and enjoying the outdoors, and that is so much to look forward to!

December Photo Challenge-Carols, Festive, Warmth, Giving, and Memories

It’s the day after Christmas!  This season was a good one, full of festivities, fun, friends, laughter, food, merriment, snow, firsts, and thankfulness.

So blessed!

Day 12–Carols

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This was the scene during Silent Night on Christmas Eve.  This is one of my favorite Christmas carols!  And I love it even more when we’re singing it in church.  Few things sound more beautiful than that many people singing together about such a beautiful night amidst candlelight.  Glory.

Day 13–Festive

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This was one of the drinks at our annual Christmas Cocktail Party this year.  If it isn’t festive, I don’t know what is!  Gin, cranberry juice, ginger ale, floating cranberries, and mint!  Pretty and delicious!

Day 14–Warmth

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This girl.  She’s one of the best people I know.  She mans the only coffee hut in Tumalo several days a week.  Every once in awhile our little family drives out to see her and she makes us the epitome of warmth…a hot cup of coffee!  Love her.  Love the coffee she makes.

Day 15–Giving

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For the second year in a row we have delivered food baskets to those in need on Christmas Eve morning.  It has very quickly become one of the things I look forward to most during Christmas.  It’s a great way to give back and it just makes me smile.  We do this with Aaron’s leadership kids from the school, but if we ever stop doing it with them, I think we’ll continue as a family.  I hope that one day Ivy will love it and see the importance of giving too.

Day 16–Memories

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This is our pastor, Steve Mickel, sharing the Christmas story with the little kids in our church.  It brought back lots of memories for me.  I grew up in a very small church where scenes like this were quite common.  But my church now is quite large, and this is one of the things I love most about it.  They work very hard at making church and community small in a very big atmosphere.  I love and adore my church and am so excited for the day that sweet little Ivy sits up there wide-eyed with her friends Grey, Clara, Lexi and Taylin!

 

December Photo Challenge-Santa, Tree, Treats and lots of Joy!

I find myself yearning for some peace these days.  If I’m going to be completely honest, this Christmas season has found me in somewhat of an anxious state.  I haven’t really been able to place exactly why this is, but certainly the most recent tragedies have not helped.  This feeling of uncertainty has left me wide eyed at night more times than my tired self would like to admit to most days.

When I was young I had a very hard time sleeping.  I think my parents can attest that it truly became a psychological issue where I would be so worried about not being able to sleep, that I would actually not be able to sleep.  My worry would begin as early as dinner time!  It was really such an awful feeling that I hate even recalling it.  However, my Jesus-loving mother would provide me with Scriptures to read and say when I found myself starting to worry or fear.  When I would calm myself down enough to actually do this, I found such peace in the promises of Jesus.

Here I am…over 20 years later…finding myself in a place where those same Scriptures are bringing me the same kind of peace I needed then.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33

Jesus is so good.

In a world that is so incredibly broken.

He is so very good.

That being said, this photo challenge includes JOY!  And you better believe I found some!

Day 8–Santa

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This is the closest we got to anything involving Santa this year.  I had good intentions of getting out to do the traditional photo with Santa, but when it came down to it, I just didn’t get it done.  And since Ivy doesn’t understand Santa this year, I figured no harm.  Instead I made this to document her tiny, itty, bitty hand that I will inevitably look back at in years to come and remember how adorably little she was.  Tear.

Day 9–Tree

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This is my whimsical little apple tree in my back yard, covered in pretty white snow.  Magical.

Day 10–Treats

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I have made my fair share of Christmas treats this year.  Christmas cut-out sugar cookies, peppermint bark, dark chocolate cupcakes with peppermint frosting, Christmas M&M cookies, chocolate-peppermint cheesecake bars, and delicious caramel apple cider.  In addition to this, we have been given a ton of Christmas treats as well!  My current favorite is the butterscotch fudge from my dear friend and co-worker.  Holy fudge it’s good!  But these steaming mugs of hot chocolate piled high with whipped cream are a staple treat for Aaron and I during the winter.  It’s the perfect sweet in the evening, and one of my all-time favorite treats!

Day 11–Joy

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Speaking of joy…these two bring me lots!  This is Ivy and her dear friend Grey at our recent Christmas breakfast with friends at The Lodge in Sunriver.  It was snowy and magical and all things Christmas!  We sat these two down on this giant-backed chair and couldn’t resist snapping a few.  Cute and cute!  Ivy is enamored with Grey.  She loves looking at him, even when he doesn’t look at her. 🙂

Peace this Friday morning to you. ♥

December Photo Challenge-Stockings & Snow

Does anyone else feel like this Christmas season is flying by?  Good grief!  With this most recent snow here in Bend, it’s at least starting to look like the Christmas season!  I’m still hard at work trying to complete this photo challenge.  I have to admit that some of them have been a little difficult to think of creative ways to document just one single word, but it’s been fun.

Day 5–Stockings

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This is Ivy’s stocking. It’s new.  And it’s pretty.  And it’s perfect for her.  Hanging out of this pretty white stocking is her sweet new Ivy doll that I made for her.  I found the idea here and used this pattern.  Aaron hung this stocking last week and while he was at it he put in enough hooks for our future kids. ♥ Sweet.

Day 6–Snow

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This picture isn’t as much about the snow as it is the snowsuit.  It cracks me up!  My grandma sent this for Ivy before she was born and it is totally stylin!  The picture doesn’t truly do it justice. The buttons are big sparkly jewels, and across the chest is written in silver sparkly thread, “Roca Wear” which is definitely a clothing line founded by Jay-Z.  Ahahaha!  So funny!  But it totally lives up to its purpose.  It kept this little girl warm and happy as she experienced the snow for the first time.


Christmas is near, and I don’t know about anyone else, but it just seems sweeter this year.  ♥

Hoping for a white Christmas.