Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Peanut Butter Bars

I know not everyone loves peanut butter, but I don't know any of those people:)
I grew up getting a tiny jar of peanut butter in my stocking, and eating peanut butter by the spoonful! This recipe has been around since my children were small. 
It has a really wonderful texture and an even better taste!
Sometimes I add chocolate chips to the dough. Sometimes I top the bars with the yummy peanut butter icing and sometimes I use my chocolate fudge icing recipe. No matter what these bars are always a crowd pleaser!

Peanut Butter Bars
1/2 c white sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c butter
1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp butter flavoring

Mix well then add the following:
1 cup flour
1 cup quick oats
1/2 tsp soda
1/8 tsp salt

Bake @ 400 in an 8x8 pan for 20-25 minutes.
I usually double recipe and bake in a 9x13 pan this requires a few more minutes in the oven. I take the bars out when they look slightly under done so they will be more moist.

Peanut Butter Icing
1/4 c butter
1/2 peanut butter
1/4 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

If you just have to have some chocolate then this icing recipe is fabulous on these bars!

Chocolate Fudge Icing
1/2 c butter
4 Tbsp cocoa
6 Tbsp milk

Bring to a boil then pour over
2 cups powdered sugar

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I made an album for my niece Deneka for her engagements pictures. She married a Stephen and so the nickname Pheneka was born:) They took some darling pictures that really show her fun personality. 
I used real vintage lace!

You can see a sampling of this One Event/One Design album on 
my Nellie's Cottage facebook page.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cookies for Valentines

One year my daughter Danielle and her best friend Kami decided that it would be fun to earn money making cookies. I smiled on the outside and said "Of course you can use my kitchen"...on the inside I was dreading the mess and inevitable loud sighs about half way into the project once they figured out how much work this would be! I always found it ironic as a mother that you work harder than anyone when your kids are working to earn money! Oh, but it is worth the effort years down the road when they know the value of a dollar! 

Notice on the last page the look on their faces at the end of this day.....priceless. 
They never wanted to make cookie bouquets again:)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Beautiful...who decides?

It all started with an auction many years ago. My husband and I were auction rookies without much money. We really didn't see anything that we couldn't live without UNTIL... Michael came back from a break and said "You have got to see this painting" He took me to a part of building where not much was on display. In a lonely spot there it was...

....a painting of flowers that reminded me of my grandmother Nellie's gardens.
It brought tears to my eyes and I knew this was meant to be mine. We had it brought up for bids and waited anxiously hoping that no-one else would bid against our meager student budget. A few minutes later it was ours! When I look at this painting I feel peace, and beauty and Nellie's spirit comforting and encouraging me.

Yesterday Mom and I met at our favorite local wholesale florist. It is an oasis of floral eye candy with isle after isle of flowers of every color, plants, baskets, ribbon, and all things floral.
Mom moved along confident in her ability, choosing from hundreds of flowers to create the perfect arrangement. I just say yes:) I have a decorating flair but missed the "fabulous floral creation" gene. I can walk swiftly down an isle and choose what jumps out at me, but she knows how to put the flowers together in a magical way that brings joy to my aesthetic senses:) 

One could rate each flower on beauty and each of us would have our favorite, but who decides which is the most beautiful? They are each uniquely gorgeous.....just like us. Who can say that an amaryllis is better than a gladiola, or that the bird of paradise makes a rose look pale. I have all of these flowers in my new arrangements! I wanted to mimic the idea of the painting with a tumble of different flowers...and that is just what mom created:)

We struggle so much as women with comparison. Some of us are roses, some gladiolas, and some tulips. Why do we debate who is the most beautiful, the smartest, the best mom, the most fit...and on and on and on. 
I think it is time to embrace the unique beauty we all possess. 
We are most beautiful when we stand with each other, just like my flowers, creating an amazing blending of gifts and talents to influence and change the world!
All day today I kept going back in my living room to behold the flowers again and again. They brought me joy every time! Imagine the joy we can bring to those around us if we decide to be beautiful, if we decide to stop comparing and competing, if we can freely give and accept compliments.

For many years I would not allow any pictures of myself to be taken. I got a digital camera in 2007... I was 43. I was playing around taking pictures of myself like I had seen the kids do and this is the first picture in years that I was able to aren't bad! 

It was a life changing moment for me.
I am beautiful, a perfect blend of Martha & Danny and all of my ancestors before me.

My parents 1964
We NEED to feel beautiful for our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, friends and all the women we love! 
My girls! Danielle & Brittany 2011
Today I am a gladiola, tomorrow maybe a rose, and on Sunday I will choose to be a bird of paradise:) Stand with me and declare your beauty...after all who decides? We Do.

p.s. Dove has done a great job on their "Real Beauty" campaign.
I thought this video was wonderful!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Janene's baby shower

Janene's baby shower was especially happy for me!  
We were anxiously anticipating the birth of 
Savannah Jane who was born on December 28th. 
We had her shower at Nellie's Cottage..of course:)

Another "One event/One design" album by me:)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Nellie's Vanilla Custard

This is an old family recipe...Nellie's recipe. 
We do not make banana pudding any other way in this family!
It is really a custard, do not confuse this with instant pudding...
there is no comparison:)

Nellie's Vanilla Custard

Sugar 1 cup
Flour 1/3 cup
Eggs 2
Milk 2 cups (use whole milk for an extra rich custard)
Butter 3 Tablespoons (real butter-not margarine!)
Vanilla 1 teaspoon (I double!)

Mix all ingredients very well. Stir over medium heat until thickened.
Cool completely before combining with bananas and cookies for banana pudding.

*I always triple this recipe to make a 9x13 pan of banana pudding.

Tips from me:)
Don't even think about cooking this in the microwave!
You can crank the heat on the 
stove to 6-7 if you do not leave the custard!
Stir constantly.
You will stir for what seems like forever but then magically the custard will begin to thicken. When you can "make tracks" with the custard it is done.

Fast cooling method: place custard on a cookie sheet and cover with saran wrap to prevent a "skin" from forming.

I just had to try the new cute mini Nilla Wafers (the off brand just doesn't cut it!)

I love the homemade look of banana pudding in canning jars. Perfect for retreats at Nellie's Cottage!
I start with cookies, then banana slices, then pudding, repeat!
This would be easier to put together in the short wide mouth jars.

And there you have it old fashioned vanilla custard which makes the perfect banana pudding!