Thursday, May 12, 2016

{pretty, happy, funny, real} Extended Edition

   {pretty, happy, funny, real}                          


It's Thursday, so I'm linking up again with the terrific Like Mother, Like Daughter. As we celebrate Mother's Day, a number of birthdays and a couple of marriages in our family this month, I thought I'd share a few bits about my extended family that are {pretty, happy, funny, real}. 

My beautiful niece, Jeanette looking {pretty}

My sister's youngest was married a few weeks ago down in San Diego, California. Jeanette is an amazing young woman, and her husband, Andrew is a very fortunate man. Even though I've only met Andrew once, I feel confident that she has done a pretty good job at the fortunate thing as well. Jeanette wore my mom's wedding dress that was re-made from the 1960's princess-style to a beautiful ethereal-looking gown.   
                                               This pillow made me {happy}

Unfortunately, circumstances would not allow me to be present, but I spent the day of the wedding working on their gift and spending the time praying for their marriage. I came up with this idea of a pillow using linen and a photo from their engagement pictures. I'm so happy with it that I will probably be listing custom made pillows like this on my Piccolo Di Luce Etsy Shop soon. 

More {happy}
I also got the chance in the last few weeks to make a baby quilt for Thomas More College professors, Mr. Andrew and Mrs. Gwyneth Thompson-Briggs, who are expecting their first baby next month. As they teach The Way of Beauty course, and Mrs. Thompson-Briggs is an artist, I thought I would make a vintage style red-work embroidered quilt. My mom had given me a large container of vintage, hand-stitched strips, so I used those for the sashing and binding. I wasn't sure what color to do the border, so I sent a photo to Mary at school. She suggested mustard which was seconded by Sylvia, the owner of Greenbaum's Quilted Forest. I took their ideas and then machine quilted the whole thing before making the label. The best part was being able to pray for their family and especially the new baby as I worked on this {happy} quilt!
The quilt top

This is one {funny} little girl

My mom and I headed down to southern Oregon last weekend for a bridal shower for another niece and to celebrate Mother's Day with my sister. Normally, I wouldn't have gone, but since my kids are all at school until next week, I thought it would be fun. I was so right! One of my other nieces was visiting from Virginia with her little one, Zephora. She is so {funny}, and they were a great joy to be with during the weekend. The best part was they needed a ride to the airport in Portland, and a place to stay for a couple of days, so my husband and I got to host them during that time. While they were here, I took them up to Mt. Angel Seminary to visit Joshua and have a little tour. We ended up not only having coffee and walking around, but he invited us to join him and the other seminarians for lunch. My niece, Jael, loved it plus the baby was awesome!! I then took them to Fordyce Farms for the first strawberries of the season, and then we came home so I could teach Jael how to bake bread before they headed off early Tuesday. We also got to feed ZuZu (her new totally cool nickname that Unky Brian and I came up with and got the mom approval) her first taste of rice cereal. She wasn't sure about the spoon or the texture, but I'm pretty sure she'll be liking it a lot in just a little while. What a blessing it was for us to open our home and share the love and mercy God has given us!

{real} Gluten Free Banana Bread
So I mentioned the kids will all be home next week- did I mention how totally excited we are?!?!? 
Both Brian and I are looking forward to them being home for a number of reasons. I am sure he'll be glad to have others to do chores plus someone other than just me to talk with. To be honest, the talking thing works for me too- just keeping it {real} here, folks. As part of the preparing for them to be home, I did a little baking today. Now, for any of you that have read any of my posts, you may remember that we have a wacky eating family- I have one child who is celiac, one with a tree nut allergy and one with lactose intolerance plus I have to eat low sodium. Thankfully, Brian and Joshua don't have any food issues, so that makes it a bit easier. With that in mind, I made a couple loaves of banana bread, being sure to mark them well before popping them into the freezer. Since so many of you have a great recipe for regular banana bread, I thought I'd share this Gluten and Lactose Free version. I did make some with regular flour and no nuts for David, so everyone should be happy. Here's my G/F Banana Bread for you to try. Oh yeah, it tastes {real}, so don't be afraid to try it!

                                                        {REAL} BANANA BREAD

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (roughly two medium bananas) 
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil (I use rice bran oil, but use what you have) 
1 1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar 
1 1/2 cups G/F baking mix   
2 teaspoons baking powder 
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
1 cup walnut pieces 

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Spray 9" loaf pan with non-stick spray and line with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, beat the mashed bananas with the eggs, oil and brown sugar till combined. Add G/F baking mix, baking powder, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg; beat until well combined. Stir in the walnut pieces.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan and spread evenly. Stud the top with some extra walnut pieces, if desired. Bake on the center rack for 55 to 65 minutes, if necessary, until the center is done (a wooden cake tester should emerge clean).

Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool on rack.

Eat right away or wrap in wax paper and foil and freeze for up to a couple of weeks.

Makes one 9-inch loaf

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I hope you are having a wonderful month so far. Be sure to stop by Like Mother, Like Daughter to see what everyone's up to today at {pretty, happy, funny, real}.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Middle of the Week Wanderings- TGKBC April Update

Vanilla Ginger Cake

I've still been doing lots of baking as part of my self-induced "Great Keatley Baking Challenge". The biggest issue has been being busy doing other things and having to sometimes almost force myself to bake. A couple of Sundays ago I was in the mood for something sweet, so I made this Vanilla Ginger Cake. The flavor choice came from the ginger that was sitting in the refrigerator waiting to be used. I had made candied ginger before, so I thought I'd do it again and use it for part of the flavor profile of this little cake. It may not look like it, but it was baked in two 6" pans. I made a full batch of frosting (and used the whole bowl) which is why it looks a bit "frosting heavy". 
Brian and I enjoyed it over a number of days as it was so rich (again, I am sure because of the amount of delicious frosting). Here's my recipe for a small Vanilla Ginger Cake:


For Cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cups granulated sugar (use vanilla sugar if you have it)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup milk
2 Tbsp. candied ginger, cut into small pieces

For Frosting:
2 sticks butter, softened
16 oz box powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2-3 Tbsp. heavy cream
1/4 cup candied ginger, cut into small pieces


Preheat oven to 350°F.  
Mix flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
Beat butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed 30 seconds or until softened. Add granulated sugar and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl frequently. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Alternately beat in flour mixture and milk on medium-low speed just until mixed. Fold in candied ginger. Pour into two greased and floured 6-inch baking pans. Bake 30-35 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes on rack then turn out to continue cooling.

For the Frosting, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating well after each addition and scraping sides and bottom of bowl frequently. Add milk and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. Fold in candied ginger. Frost when cake is cooled completely. 

You can serve right away or store in the refrigerator. I stored mine, uncovered for 1 hour then covered with plastic wrap. I think it stayed nicer and longer in the refrigerator. 

Hope you enjoy this recipe!
~Mangia Mamma

Thursday, April 21, 2016

{pretty, happy, funny, real} - Still Easter Edition

So I had great plans of posting all we did during Holy Week and the Octave of Easter. Well, as it didn't happen, I am so grateful for having 50 days to celebrate the Easter Season. This is why my {p, f, h, r} post today has a few look-back photos. 
I tried to make sure to have most of the Easter Day food made at least partially before the Triduum started. This year, I was actually able to accomplish it. I used both my Paul Hollywood and my Great British Bake-Off cookbooks for many of the recipes. The Hot Cross Buns (Great British Bake-Off) which we had on Good Friday were just right. Not too sweet and filling, it was definitely the best recipe I've come across. 
{a bit more pretty}
Easter was also a good friend's birthday, and our Easter Dinner hostess, Cristina, requested a cake to celebrate. The Irish Coffee Cake (Paul Hollywood) was simple, festive and tasted fantastic. I was able to do part of it Saturday morning, so it felt like it took hardly anytime for something that turned out just as I hoped.
{and still pretty}
I had seen this recipe for a Tarte De Soleil on the LMLD blog as Leila shared it with her readers here. It was another recipe that I started early and then through the whole thing together Sunday morning after Mass before we headed out. The best complement was from Lisa, who sat next to me, when she said it was so yummy, she had eaten half of it before she realized it had olives in it, and she doesn't like olives! Do check out the recipe and give it a try. I'm so looking forward to making it again this summer as it's a wonderful dish.

Adoration at St. Mary's Cathedral in Portland
{happy} Josh praying at Holy Rosary
One of my favorite parts of Holy Week and Eastertide was having Joshua home. Brian and I are starting to get used to being empty-nesters, but it felt {happy} to have one of the kids around. Being a seminarian in the Portland Archdiocese, Joshua has the opportunity to serve different Masses up at St. Mary's Cathedral in Portland. He invited me to go with him and a fellow seminarian to the Holy Thursday Mass and then do a seven church pilgrimage before heading home. We officially started out Altars of Repose journey at the Cathedral as soon as Mass was finished then we headed over for meatless pizza before visiting the other churches. Our second stop in Portland was St. Patrick's then we were off to St. Stephen's. Holy Rosary was next followed by St. Rose of Lima. We were going to go the Grotto, but when we arrived the gates were closed. We made it to Christ the King in Milwaukie and finally down to St. Patrick's in Canby. We were able to stay at each of the churches for anywhere between 10-20 minutes while we prayed and reflected. What a joy and how {happy} it was for me to hang out with these young men and journey with them on Maundy Thursday.

 always {happy} to see
my kids praying

Our Easter was also {happy}! Joshua and I went to Easter Vigil Mass up at Mt. Angel and then got up in time to attend Mass at St. Joseph's Sunday morning. We came home and had a yummy Easter breakfast which left me time to get the rest of the goodies ready to take to our annual Easter feast at The Fords. The {pretty} photos above are all from there.

Dingle Pie- {funny} name but good to eat!

So Josh had Spring Break during Easter week, and his one request was lots of baked goods from my two British cookbooks mentioned above. I ended up making all sort of baked goods with {funny} names including Dingle Pie, Chorley Cakes and Devonshire Splits.

{funny} Just {funny}

We also had Syrian food one night. I made Grandpa Aziz' Chicken Rice which is really lamb, onions, spices and rice- no chicken at all. I guess this would be why it fits into the {funny} category although those two in the photo are {funny} too! It was quite a meal as I even made pita from scratch that turned out really tasty.

Yep, it's a {real} one.

The Saturday after Easter found Brian taking Josh fishing as I was having the ladies from our St. Gregory's Pocket over for brunch. Josh hadn't been fishing since he was little, and he had never caught a fish. I had a wonderful brunch, and the guys had a nice time up at St. Louis Ponds. They came back and Josh was so happy because he had caught a nice {real} trout. He ended up taking it back to seminary on Sunday along with the fixing for some pan fried fish and potatoes. He said it was delicious and a {real} great way to start the rest of the semester at school.

I hope you are all still celebrating the Easter season at least a bit. I know we are trying to at least make our Sundays a bit more festive. For more {pretty, happy, funny, real} ideas, head on over to Like Mother, Like Daughter and see what all the bloggers are doing today.

{pretty, happy, funny,real} Spring Has Sprung edition


So the weather has been pretty wonderful here in the Mid-Valley over the last couple of weeks.  Of course, we're due for four days of rain starting tomorrow, but I just need to remember it's what keeps everything green.  While the sun's been shining, I took a little bit of time and popped some flowers into the two pots that sit on our front porch steps. I don't really know how long they'll last due my less-than green thumb, but they look so {pretty} at least for now.

I made a really yummy low-sodium BBQ sauce today to pour over a small pork picnic I found on sale at Winco.  I've been trying to cook more for just the two of us as we have noticed that leftovers are good for a day or two but not a whole week. The smell of the sauce cooking has been making me {happy} as it has brought back memories of going to Chris & Pitt's BBQ with my grandparents when I was a little girl.
I adapted this recipe from The Daily Dish, and here it is for you to try (trust me, you'll never miss the salt)!


2- 8 oz. cans no-salt-added tomato sauce (I use Hunts)
1/2 c. finely diced onion (half sm/med onion)
2 t. minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1 T. olive oil
2 T. unsulphered molasses
1 T. honey
1 t. liquid smoke
1 1/2 t. ground cumin
1 t. ground paprika
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t. ground cayenne pepper
In a medium saucepan, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Add remaining sauce ingredients and simmer, stirring occasionally over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a clean lidded jar or other airtight container. Refrigerate until use. 


I've joined a Catholic women's pen pal group, and it's been so enjoyable.  I've also tried to write more letters to my kids and others who would hopefully like to receive a letter. While this endeavor may not seem to fit the {funny} part of this post, I realized this photo of my tea, vanilla ginger cake & letter writing fits it exactly.  I can't believe how much frosting I had put on that cake until comments like "lots of frosting, little cake" and others came up. All I know is that I didn't want leftovers, so I used the whole batch.  Of course, I think it was enough for a full size cake when this little one was only 6". At least it tasted delicious!

{real, oh so real}

Well, you can't get much more {real} than this.  A bunch of gals on Instagram have been posting photos of themselves with no make-up and no filters. I took this one yesterday, and I can't tell much of a difference. I thought of making this the {funny} part of the post, but I think it's just so {real}. I've tended to not worry about the physical things that come with getting older, and I'm glad about it. I've got too much other stuff to think about that is a while lot more important.  I hope you can focus today on what's truly important in your life as that's where we will be truly {real}.

Be sure to visit Like Mother, Like Daughter and check out the other bloggers who have {pretty, happy, funny, real} stuff to share.