Blogging and Baking from The Nest

Monthly Archives: May 2013

Is the Carole King song in your head now after reading the blog title?  Sorry about that.  At least it’s not some crazy annoying song.  I’d suggest a few worse songs to have stuck in your head, but then you would have them stuck in your head.  So I’ll spare you.  Now having  a Carole King song stuck in your head doesn’t seem so bad, does it?

Anyway, I’m eagerly anticipating the arrival of our first house guests here in Fayetteville.  My mom and aunt will be here in about 48 hours.  So much to do, so little time.  But what I’ve been planning for weeks now is what I’m going to cook/bake.  There’s so many choices.  I’ve reviewed my recipes multiple times trying to decide.  I’ve got the old standard favorites I know my mom would love – like my dad’s three bean bake.  And then I’ve got so many new recipes I’ve been dying to try out on an audience – like The Pioneer Woman’s famous cinnamon rolls.  Is it bad that all my plans for most occasions revolve around food?

Not only have I planned what I’ll be making, but what restaurants I want to make sure we visit.  We have to have Tim’s Pizza while Mom’s in town because I know it will reminder her of pizza we used to get when I was a kid.  And then there’s the Wooden Spoon up in Gentry.  It’s a Mennonite restaurant.  My aunt lives near a couple of great Amish restaurants, so I know they’d enjoy the Wooden Spoon.  But if we’re going to drive all the way out to Gentry, what else could we see and do while we’re out there.  Again, is it bad that all my plans revolve around food?

Our one big non-eating plan is to visit Crystal Bridges, this outstanding art museum up in Bentonville.  The pictures of the grounds and architecture alone look outstanding.   They have a Norman Rockwell exhibit right now that I’m really exited to see.  Plus I’ve heard there are a lot of great restaurants on the Square we could try for lunch.  🙂

Ok, it’s past my bedtime.  Something tells me I should probably fast the next 2 days in anticipation of all I’m going to be eating this weekend.  Of course I’ll be blogging about the good, the bad and the ugly experiences from the kitchen for your amusement as well.

Bye for now!

Baby Blue Bird – aka Dayna

P.S.  Everyone in my office RAVED about the sugar cookies I made a couple of nights ago.  In fact, raved is not a strong enough word.  I think some of them were actually drooling when they came back for seconds (and maybe thirds for some)   Like I said – put enough butter and sugar into it and it has to be to die for!  The Pioneer Woman’s recipes are always a crowd pleaser!  Here’s the link to the sugar cookie post if you missed it.  (https://babybluebirdsbakery.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/a-match-made-in-heaven/)

 

 


Happy Sunday,

This post is a two for the price of one – two different subjects, but under the same title of “A Match Made in Heaven”.  This past weekend, the hubby and I celebrated ten years of marriage.  Unfortunately, that’s quite a milestone in today’s society.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that we are a match made in heaven, but I do completely believe that God brought my husband and I together for the long haul.  The last six months or so have been pretty challenging with our relocation to Arkansas, but I know we are better together than apart, and God is always at work in our marriage.  I’m very blessed to have such faithful, Christian husband.

It was a good weekend of reminiscing, and we spent a few nights away from The Nest exploring Northwest Arkansas.  We went to Eureka Springs and explored Beaver Lake.  And very importantly, our delighted dog, Khaki was able to come along, too.  Did someone bark, “Road Trip”?!?!

Can you say, "Road Trip!!"

We traveled across some beautiful scenery, and of course, ate some delicious food – including a banana split pie I must try to replicate soon.  I did want to share one particular thing we saw.  I’ve always loved architecture.  As a child, I loved to make my own blueprints.  In college my most favorite class was a history of architecture elective.  I probably should have been an architect, but somehow I had a total mental block on how much I loved the subject when I was picking my major.  It wasn’t until that elective my senior year that I had a V8 moment where I literally whacked myself on the forehead and said, “I should have been an architect!”  Anyway, this church is called the Thorncrown Chapel.  It’s an active church with regular Sunday services each week, and I thought it was simply breathtaking.

Thorncrown OutsideThorncrown Inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now for the second meaning behind the title, “A Match Made in Heaven”. . . it’s finally time to talk baking!!  This is a blog about me AND baking, so it’s finally time to get to the good stuff!  And the good stuff to me is . . . (drumroll please) . . . butter and sugar!  To me, that’s a total match made in heaven.  So, it’s only fitting that we start out talking about baking with the ultimate sugar cookie recipe.

When we moved here to Arkansas, one of our new friends introduced me to The Pioneer Woman through a cookbook she gave me.  And I have become completely enamored with The Pioneer Woman’s recipes.  (Her real name is Ree Drummond in case you didn’t know.)  You’ll notice a lot of her recipes on this blog, and this is the first one.  She had such a vivid description of this cookie, I could almost taste it before I even creamed the sugar and butter together.  And the real thing did not disappoint.  This cookie tastes exactly the way Ree describes it in her first cookbook – “light, crisp, and melt-in-your-mouth”.  Let’s just say it’s almost a shortbread, but just a slight bit too dense to be a shortbread.  (Ree does have an outstanding shortbread cookie recipe on her website.  I’ve made them and they’re A-MAZE-ING!  I’m sure they’ll be the main attraction in one of my future blogs.)  Here’s the link to the recipe from Ree’s website.  http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/09/my-favorite-sugar-cookies/

I made the batter before we left on our trip Friday and had it chilling in the refrigerator for about 48 hours.  That way I had something to look forward to Sunday night – nothing beats the Sunday night blues better than sugary, buttery bliss.  Ree says to refrigerate the dough for an hour before baking.  I’m not sure that’s really necessary.  The batter was plenty firm before I refrigerated it, and by the time I baked the last batch it was back to room temperature.  Of course I thought that last pan came out the best, but I guess that’s probably always true for me because it usually takes me that long to get the baking time perfect.  Also, I’m finding that when I make Ree’s recipes it always makes more than what she says it will.  I don’t know if I just made the cookies smaller than she did, but I had about 4 dozen compared to the recipes 18.

In the cookbook Ree has great pictures of the recipe process, which has been super helpful to me in the past, but I noticed on her website she didn’t have the normal pictures for this particular recipe, so allow me.

IMG_0442

Use a cookie scoop to drop balls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  I know this picture looks a little like mashed potatoes, but I swear this is really sugar cookie dough.  Believe me, I don’t get this excited about mashed potatoes.

And then when the cookie dough balls are on the cookie sheet, I think it looks like scoops of ice cream. . .

IMG_0443

Again, I promise this really is cookie dough. . . not mashed potatoes or ice cream.  Here, I’ll prove it to you.

IMG_0444

Take a drinking glass and smear the flat end with butter.  Then dip the buttered end into sugar.  Gently smash the cookie dough ball with the buttered and sugared end of the glass.  IMPORTANT – Re-dip the glass in the sugar before smashing down each ball.

Ok, I guess that could still look like mashed potatoes, but wait. . .

IMG_0449

This picture does not do the finished product justice, but it does demonstrate the size of my finished cookies and the fact that you can get about 4 dozen out of this recipe since I had one and a half more cookie sheets full to add to the bounty of sugar cookie bliss after I took this picture.  Yummy!!

By the way, our little neighbor, Oliver, seemed to be protesting that he didn’t get to go on our road trip this weekend.  After we emptied out the car, I went back outside and found this when I opened the garage door. . .

Little O wants to go

I think this is Little O’s way of saying, “Next time I go or this car doesn’t.”  He’s such a crazy cat!!

Sweet dreams!

Baby Blue Bird (aka – Dayna)


Hello Friends!

Some days it’s easier to love NWA (Northwest Arkansas for you newbies) than others.  Today the Bald Eagle (my hubby) was having a hard time finding much to love about NWA.  I always try my dangedest to find something positive in everything.  So let me list just a few things that have been really great about our experience here in Fayetteville so far.

My commute to the office is 12 minutes!  For those of you daily commuters you know this is A-MAZE-ING!  I don’t consider Cincinnati to be a real big city, but even there you have to live in an apartment, condo or row house to have that short of a commute.  I had up to a 45 minute commute before we moved here, and I know that is a short commute for all you in LA and DC.  The only time I had a commute even close to 12 minutes in Cincinnati, we could count 15 different homes we could see from our front porch.  Here I have a 12 minutes commute, and this is the view from our front porch . . . Front Yard

Trees!  Glorious Trees!  We’ll get to the happiness and hazards of the woods some other time, but this view is much better than the roof tops of 15 other homes in my opinion.

And then sometimes I look out my front door and this is what I see . . .

Oliver in the Pot

Which leads me to another wonderful thing about our home in NWA . . . our neighbors.  This little kitty is one of our neighbors.  His name is Oliver.  My husband calls him Little O (I told you, Bald Eagle likes to give the things he loves nicknames!  Read https://babybluebirdsbakery.wordpress.com/about/ if you missed that part.)  In this picture Little O’s about to take a nap in my empty flower box.  He’s got the attitude of a dog and the body of a cat.  He follows my husband and our dog around like a puppy.  In fact, he’s totally in love with our dog, Khaki.  He loves to rub up against her, chase behind her, try to ride on her back, etc.  Most mornings when I get up Oliver is on the welcome mat of our front porch waiting  (usually sleeping)for Khaki to come out for her morning walk.  But outside of Oliver’s entertaining personality, he’s also a fierce hunter.  In the short time we’ve lived here, he and his brother and sister cats have killed a snake, a rat and mole.  Oliver knows how to earn his keep!

By the way, my flower box now has flowers in it.  And Oliver is still partial to it . . .

Oliver eats the Pot

This is kind of full circle to my first point, but we’re very fortunate to live on a beautiful piece of land.   First of all, we live about a half mile off the road down a wooded, private drive.  Let Khaki show you. . .

KB in the drive

(Sidebar – Yes, this is Khaki taking herself for a walk with her leash in her mouth.  She is definitely our off-spring – has to be in control at all times.)

We have 5 acres of woods with a small creek running through it.  After a few dry days, it’s just a really pretty rock bed.  But after a really good rain, it looks like this . . . .

Stream 1

My mom thinks this looks like a beautiful impressionist’s painting.  And that’s a rose-bush there beside that creek.  This week it’s in bloom . . .

Rosebush

My friend said you can smell it as soon as you step out the front door.  Unfortunately, my sinus issues keep me from smelling most things.  Sad when you’ve got a beautiful rose bush like this one.  An unbelieveable blessing when you’re driving past one of NWA’s chicken farms.

So, that’s a bit of the bright side of life for now.  I remind Bald Eagle tomorrow is another day, and we’re blessed to have had this one.  He agrees.  (I was going to end on some cheeky pun about life being a bed of roses, but I decided to spare you.  You’re welcome.)

Until the next time . . .

Baby Blue Bird – aka Dayna


It’s all my fault.  I’ll admit it.  I’m the reason we packed up and left Cincinnati, OH.  I’ll take the blame.  Although I often remind my husband of the times he said to me, “Relocate us, Baby!  I’m ready to move on.”  And when I say I remind him, I mean I remind him how often, where we were when he said it, what we were wearing, where the dog was and what she was doing, etc., etc., etc.

We had a great life.  We lived near our family.  We had great neighbors and friends.  We lived in a nice house on a beautiful lot.  We were very involved in our church and loved all the staff there.  We had the best doctors, dentists and hair stylists (Well, I had the best hair stylist.  My husband is the bald eagle for a reason.)  But there were parts of our life that weren’t so great.  And I really felt like there was something missing from our life – that we were at a plateau and there was something more or different that we were supposed to be doing.  Maybe it was because we didn’t have kids.  Maybe my life lacked adventure because I’d not embarked on the highs and low of raising a little being.  But maybe the lack of children also gave me a different perspective on things.  Regardless, WE (really, not just me) decided it was time for a new adventure and agreed to leave the safety and comfort of Cincinnati and move to Fayetteville, AR.

Each time we told someone in Ohio we were moving to Arkansas we heard the same response – Where??  And that was always followed by – Why??  And not just any why.  The type of why that you usually say after someone does something really dumb . . . like try to give your kitty cat a bath.  So, here are some things you should know about Fayetteville, AR.

  1. It’s like a suburb with no big city.  In fact, most of NWA (Northwest Arkansas for all you non-Arkansans) is a string of suburbs without a city.  And then there’s the country.
  2. It’s a college town (University of Arkansas).  I would argue it’s not your typical college town.  I went to school in a college town (Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN – GO BOILERMAKERS!).  But there seems to be more to Fayetteville then just the U of A.  Although you will be inundated with Hogs here.  Everything is Razorbacks.  In every home we looked at when we were house shopping there was the token Razorback room.  It doesn’t matter here if you went to the U of A or not.  You have a Razorback bumper sticker and you wear your Razorback Red proudly.
  3. There are a lot of banks.  I’m not completely sure why.  Most people say it’s because there’s a lot of money here between the Waltons, the Hunts, and the Tysons.  That makes some sense, but I’m still not sure that warrants over a dozen different banks on a one mile stretch of road.
  4. There are a lot of churches.  Arkansas is officially in the Bible Belt.  Since we’re Christians, we appreciate the fact there are a lot of churches, but it doesn’t really make finding a church home easier.  Especially when you came from such a tremendous church home (First Baptist Church of Glen Este – we love and miss you!).  Here we ask people to recommend a good Baptist church and they rattle off eight different choices.  They’ve got little churches, big churches and HUGE churches.  They’ve got churches that have four different service times each Sunday in two different languages, churches with four different campuses and churches that only have four regular attenders.  I have to confess, I pulled into the parking lot of one of those last kind of churches one Sunday when my husband was out of town.  I saw only two cars in the parking lot, so I checked my watch to make sure it wasn’t daylight savings time and I wasn’t an hour early.  Then I freaked out and drove on down the road looking for another church to visit.  Sorry little church!  I’m sure your service was real nice.
  5. There also seem to be a lot of restaurants . . . without a lot of variety.  They have chain restaurants.  They have outstanding Mom and Pop restaurants.  But if you’re looking for Indian food or good Chinese, people usually look at you with pity.  Oh vegetable pakora, why have you deserted me?

So the cliff notes are – people in NWA love their Hogs, their churches and their fried chicken.  We’re going to get along just fine.  So, tomorrow I’ll introduce you to some of the things I already love about Fayetteville.

Bye bye for now,

Baby Blue Bird – aka Dayna