A long time ago, when adventuring (in other words, being bored and exploring state parks) I came across this lovely spot in Wapello State Park, near Bloomfield, IA. Except for the lack of electricity and no restrooms in the immediate vicinity, this would be the perfect spot for an outdoor wedding! I feel like I say that a lot—why are the best locations usually primitive?! This gorgeous space was built by the CCCRead More
One of my favorite things about photo shoots is getting to meet new people. If you know me, you might think that's a little funny because I'm what most people would call "not a people-person". But I love how photography gives me a way to meet and connect with people I would not otherwise know. Michaela was so fun to work with and I really enjoyed getting to know her the little bit that I did!Read More
I don't know about you, but I love word pictures. Throughout the Bible, God uses so many word pictures, visuals, and allegories to help us to be able to connect the dots and come to a deeper understanding of Who He is. This is one verse in particular that I love to roll around in my mind. He is the bread of life. What does that mean? What does that look like? He is what we need to survive. He sustains and refreshes our souls. He is the ultimate 'food' that our hearts long for. What does it mean to you that He is the bread of life?
Download the image here to print or to use as a background. Bread of Life
The day of our shoot dawned cold and snowy of all things! After the warm days that we had been having, I had hoped for the best--but alas, the last snow of the winter still fell. Nettie was such a trooper and fearlessly braved the cold! Her warm and friendly personality must've been what got her through--I'm afraid a lesser person would have given up on me and my photos before the shoot ever started. And my dear Forest, I must admit--the last snow looks good on you.
I wrote and rewrote this post several times but it seems like no matter what I write, it comes out sounding cheesy. It sounds like I’m trying super desperately hard to write the right thing. I don’t want to be that way. I want this to feel like we’re just sitting around chatting about waffles. Because that obviously makes sense. In other news, sometimes I feel like talking about food is pointless. I love food, and making it, and eating it, and preparing it in particular ways. But sometimes I wonder, what’s the point? Who cares? I even bore myself sometimes.
It doesn’t help that as I’m trying to write this, random tips about writing successful blog posts from a bunch of different articles I’ve read on Pinterest keep flying through my head. Do you have any idea how annoying that is? I just get so sick of reading these, “Do These 10 Things to Double Your Engagement In A Month” articles. “Well, why don’t you stop reading them?” You may ask. I’ll tell you why. It’s because they have such darn good click bait, that I can’t help myself. What if THIS article is the one that has steps that are at least somewhat reasonable? What if after I follow their steps, I DO double my engagement? And if you’ve never tried to “make it” in the world of bloggers, creatives, or entrepreneurs, then you might be lost about now. Or deciding that I have a very serious problem. (Don’t worry, I’m quite aware of my problems. Could you recommend a therapist please?) Or, who knows? Maybe I’m the only one who gets tired of those articles but reads them anyways. (In which case, I really DO need a therapist.)
So waffles. They’re good, right? I’m going to give you the steps to make the perfect waffle. Or, you can just come over to my house for breakfast on a Saturday morning and I'll make it for you. We rarely sleep in. So you’re more than welcome. (I’m not kidding.)
Step One: Set the stage. Preheat your waffle iron. Have batter ready and waiting. Have coffee ready and waiting. Heat up syrup. Soften butter. You get it, right? The point is, have everything almost ready before you put the batter in the iron, so that when it comes out, you can eat it immediately. THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.
Step Two: Pour that batter in. You know how when you go to motels and they have those fancy waffle irons that flip? You can buy them, you know. It truly does make your waffle better--I've rarely have a waffle turn out good in an iron that didn't flip over--there's just something about it. It's the way a waffle is supposed to be made. I picked up this nice little oster waffle iron for $6 two years ago at a thrift store. And guess what? You can turn it over and it still lays perfectly flat. BOOM>>amazing waffles without having to go buy one of those fancy flipping irons.
Step Two B: There are two things you should not do to the inside of your waffle iron: wash or spray with no-stick stuff. Lemme esplain. When you spray your iron, it tends to not go on evenly and therefore often results in splotchy browning (eww). To oil your iron, put some oil on a paper towel and rub it all around in the crevices and such. When you are done with your iron, do not wash the inside--it breaks up your nonstick coating. Eventually you won't have to oil it at all! (IF you are grossed out about not washing your iron--this is not much different than what you're supposed to do with cast iron to make it nonstick.) There may be some exceptions to this—older irons especially may need to be oiled every time. But if you have problems with waffles sticking, this could be why.
Step 3: Let your waffle cook until it’s desired shade of doneness. If you like a soggy waffle, take it out when it’s lightly brown. If you like a perfect waffle, take it out when it’s a medium-dark shade of golden brown. If you like a crunchy waffle, cook until very dark brown. The perfect waffle has a crisp on the outside and a soft center. No matter what you cook your waffle to, just keep in mind that about a quarter of the way through eating it, it will get softer than when it first came out of the iron so it's good to slightly overcook it.
Step Four: Spread soft butter on and relish the magic of butter melting into a waffle. If you don't want a fancy waffle that's still perfectly delish, just skip steps five & six.
Step Five: Crème Fraiche that bad boy. I recently discovered this pairing, and it is SO GOOD, especially with a sourdough waffle (recipe for that coming at a later date!
Step Six: Add some fruit--raspberries are my favorite! A close second is dark sweet cherry pie filling!
Step Seven: And last, but most certainly not least: drizzle hot syrup over your work of art. Two keys words here: drizzle and hot. Drizzle, because almost nothing ruins a waffle more than having too much syrup. And yes, it is most definitely possible. Hot, because nothing ruins a good waffle more than serving it with cold syrup. It is the most reprehensible thing. And if, after reading this article, you ever serve me waffles with cold syrup, I will look you in the eye and say, "How. dare. you." And I will not eat the waffle you have set before me. And I will have failed.
Bonus Tip: Add vanilla and a little bit of maple flavoring to your waffles to boost their awesomeness!
I hope you have gained something from my experience. I'd love to hear about your waffle experiences! (Or if you have the name of a therapist you want to share.)
Now go, and make better waffles for all!
Several years ago, a couple of local women had a vision of a day where the women of rural Northeast Missouri could come together for a day of Biblical teaching, encouragement, and fellowship with other believers. The result of this vision was a one-day conference now called Heart to Heart (in previous years it was called Ladies Day). This year now marks the 8th year of Heart to Heart. Yvonne Brown, Dorcas Swartzentruber, and Novalee Shank are the charter members of the Heart to Heart committee, and each year ask a handful of ladies from other local churches to serve on the planning committee with them.
These ladies put many hours and prayers into the planning of this day. This is clearly evidenced in the creative décor, extremely delicious food, and the meaningful message. The committee behind it all has done such an excellent job of making it a team effort--women from multiple churches contributed to the meal by donating soup, salad, condiments and more! In addition, the First Baptist Church of Memphis, MO has graciously made their facilities available for Heart to Heart for a number years.
This year, Jen Miller was asked to speak on the topic of hope. Many know Jen as the author of Life Is A Gift, in which she shares her struggle to accept the journey of faith God had chosen for her life. All who were in attendance at Heart to Heart were blessed and encouraged as she shared her life’s journey and the hope that she has found in Christ.
I hope you enjoy looking through the photos from this year's Heart to Heart! For more information on Heart to Heart, and to keep updated on next year's date, theme, and speaker, visit their Facebook page.
Coffee. How weird is it that a drink can be so important to us? I truly do believe however, in the power of a good cup of coffee--it can draw people together in a way that little else can. And isn't it funny how so many of us, when describing ourselves, say, "I love coffee." So tell me, why do you love coffee? I love the flavor, the caffeine, the houses that are made for this beverage and the just the act of crafting a good cup of joe. (Also, why do we call it a cup of joe?)
So today, I have a free printable for you! This is the perfect print for your kitchen or coffee nook. For best results, I would recommend you to get the file printed professionally (my personal fave photo printer is Mpix). To download and save the image, click the link here --> Coffee Helps
Do you ever find yourself making spur of the moment judgements? For whatever reason, I have realized lately how much I do this. It often goes like this: I notice something or someone, I make a snap judgement, and then I avoid that thing because of my preconceived notions. This can play itself out in a lot of ways--the stranger in the grocery store, the restaurant on the corner, the visitor at church, the recipe in the magazine. I've always considered myself to be an adventurous person. But in reality, I don't really take risks and I don't really care to try new things. I can be very set in my ways, and not open to anyone else's way of thinking & doing.
I am discovering, however, that by doing so I am missing opportunities. For example, I like to think of myself as a foodie. Despite that fact, I rarely try new dishes. When I go to a restaurant, I will order something that I know will taste good. When I look for at recipe, I look for things that are not unusual. But slowly, I've begun to try things that don't necessarily sound good to me at first. and oddly enough, I fell in love with each one.
So I guess what I'm trying to say is: BE ADVENTUROUS. I still have a very hard time not making snap judgements about people. But I hope that if I learn to be more open-minded and adventurous in the little things like food and style, that I will gradually also begin to see people in a new light as well.
So, when I saw the series of pudding cake recipes in the Sift magazine, I quickly passed them by. Pudding cake sounds to me like lava cake, which I do not like. But, one evening, I had some pears that needed to be used up and I wanted a new recipe. I flipped through my magazines, knowing there had to be a pear recipe in one of them somewhere. Enter Caramel Pear Pudding Cake. "Ugh..." I groaned, "Surely there's something else in here I can make!" But after reading the description, and seeing that I had all of the ingredients on hand, I decided to try it. And let me tell you: I could've eaten the whole pan myself. It's super simple, fast, and absolutely delish!
Caramel Pear Pudding Cake adapted from Sift Magazine
Makes enough for 2 hungry people
1/2 c. Flour (AP or WW)
1/4 c. Sugar (or xylitol)
3/4 t. Baking Powder
1/4 t. Salt
1/4 t. Cinnamon
Sprinkle of Ground Cloves
1/4 c. Milk
1 Pear, peeled and sliced
2 T chopped pecans (optional)
1/2 c. 2 T. Very Hot Water
2 T Butter
1/2 c. Brown Sugar
1 T Cornstarch or Clearjel
1/2 t. Caramel Flavoring (optional)
Preheat oven to 375. Grease a small pan (I like to use my small cast iron skillet). Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in a small bowl. Add milk and then spread the batter in the pan. Arrange pears on top and sprinkle on pecans. In a glass measuring cup, heat water and butter until the butter is melted. In a small dish, combine brown sugar and cornstarch, then add it to the hot water/butter mixture. Add caramel flavoring and pour the mixture over the batter and pears. Bake for 30-45 minutes until the cake is set up and lightly brown on top. Serve warm plain or with ice cream!
I hope you love this recipe as much as I do! Leave a comment below--I'd love to hear what new things you would like to try!
There are some days that I look for recipes to make that are somewhat complex. It seems that there's an "easy" version of nearly every recipe out there--even for foods that, in my opinion, should never be "easy". Easy croissants. Easy fudge. Easy cinnamon rolls. Maybe it's just me, but some days I want a recipe that takes time, effort, patience, love and dedication. A recipe that almost has more enjoyment in the making than in the eating. And don't even get me started on those recipes that claim to be easy but are most definitely not.
This is not one of those recipes. This recipe is perfect for Sunday dinner company or Saturday night It's-Been-A-Long-Week dessert.
A couple of things to note: Dulce de Leche is the caramelized version of sweetened condensed milk--you can buy it premade or make it yourself with the instructions below. This is best when made ahead of time, and it works really well to start the day before you want to eat it. But, it can also be rushed and still taste awesome!
Pineapple Dulce De Leche Dessert
Serves 6-8 Time: anywhere from 1.5-24 hours
Adapted from: No one--I learned it from my Mother
1 Fresh Pineapple or 1 can of Pineapple Rings
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk or Dulce de Leche
Whipped Cream or Topping
Coconut, toasted (optional)
1. If you have dulce de leche premade, skip down to step 2.
Stovetop Method: Remove label from condensed milk and place the unopened can in a deep pot. Cover with water (water should be around an inch over can) and boil on low for 1.5 hours. Use tongs to turn the can over and boil for another 1.5 hours, adding water as necessary to keep the can covered. Remove the can from the water and refrigerate as long as possible.
Pressure Cooker Method: Remove the label from condensed milk and place the unopened can in a small metal pan or bowl (this will go in the cooker to act as a bumper so that the can doesn't touch the sides). Place a rack in the bottom of the cooker and set the bowl and can on top. Fill with water until the can and bowl are covered. Cook under pressure for 45 mins. at Med/10lbs pressure. Remove from heat and let the pressure release. Remove the can from the water and refrigerate as long as possible.
2. Cut the top and bottom off of the pineapple. Cut the peeling off of the sides in strips. Cut the pineapple into slices and use a small round cutter (I use a donut hole cutter) to punch the core out of the center of each slice. Or, open a can of pineapple rings and drain off the juice. Place one slice each on dessert plates for however many people you are serving.
3. Remove the dulce de leche from the fridge and get a plate to put the dulce de leche on. Remove the top and bottom of the can with a can opener. (If you are in hurry like me and still opening the can when warm, be careful as hot caramel can shoot out when the pressure is first released.) Carefully slide the dulce de leche out onto the plate (you may have to run a knife around the inside of the can). Cut slices of the dulce de leche and place on top of the pineapple rings. If the dulce de leche has not been refrigerated long enough and is too soft to cut, just spread it onto the pineapples.
4. Top with whipped cream and coconut. Indulge to your heart's content!
I hope you enjoyed this easy recipe! Let me know what you think in the comments below!
It was so fun to photograph these two! I had the pleasure of taking their engagement photos a little over two years ago, and it was fun to look back and compare the two shoots. I am so inspired by their relationship--they are both very committed to serving each other and the Lord. Carl & Lish are now in their second year of farming--Lish is my hero, she's learned to drive tractor and to take on all of the other farm wife duties! Elycia has also started a business selling colonial era American Girl doll dresses on etsy, so you should definitely check out her Instagram @pastelegance_designs.