out of the mouth of jack 2.0

on Saturday we put up our Christmas tree and Jackson put the star on top. We asked him, “what does the star on the Christmas tree represent?” He look a bit puzzled and then said, “Mitt Raw-men-ee?” (Say, WHAT?) I have no idea. I tried to follow his mind track and got nowhere. We corrected this little misunderstanding, of course.

favorite recipe of the week::creamy pumpkin pie bars

For the love of all that is pumpkin, pecans and autumn in the kitchen, PLEASE make these creamy pumpkin pie bars this week. Tomorrow. Oh heck, stop what you’re doing RIGHT NOW AND MAKE THESE. They are sooooo good. I will not confirm nor deny a rumor that i may have eaten half of the pan by myself over the past two days. But if you guessed yes, you’re probably right. 😉

picture from Joy the Baker

My tweaks: I (sadly) had no pecans in the house, so I skipped those and added 1/2 cup more oats into the crust. I also used a food processor for both the crust and the filling. Bam! So quick and so easy. Make sure your cream cheese is niiiiice and soft, or it will get chunky and chunky, my friends, is not okay. Except on babies. Then chunky is welcome and delicious. Oh and maybe chunky peanut butter – if you’re not a smooth fan.

Anyway – I digress.

Creamy Pumpkin Pie Bars from Joy the Baker

makes 9 bars in a square 8×8-inch pan (I used a 9×9 and they were perfect)

For the Crust:

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

For the Filling:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon all-spice
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.

9 roasted pecan halves for topping

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8×8-inch square pan with butter or shortening.  Line with parchment paper and set aside.

In the work-bowl of a food processor, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt.  Add cold butter and pulse until the  butter is the size of small peas and oat flakes.  Pour into a bowl, add the oats and the chopped pecans and toss to thoroughly combine.

Remove about 1 1/2 (to 2 cup) of the mixture from the bowl and place in a small bowl in the refrigerator.  This will be the crumble topping. (mmmhm.)

Dump the remaining crust mixture into the prepared pan.  Using your fingers, evenly press the crust into the bottom of the pans.  Try to make sure that the crust has an even thickness across the pan.  Place the pressed crust in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

To prepare the filling, place VERY SOFT cream cheese in the wiped out work-bowl of the food processor. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and process until smooth – about a minute or less.

Remove the pressed crust and loose crumb from the refrigerator.  Pour the creamy pumpkin filling over the pressed crust.  Sprinkle generously with crumb topping and top with pecan halves.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the center no longer jiggles.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the pan and slicing.  I like to slice and serve these bars chilled. To store, wrap in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. HA. Like they’re going to stay in your fridge for 4 days – that’s a good one.

These are the perfect marriage of crumbly, oat-ey goodness and tangy, sweet, creamy pumpkin nirvana. And if you make them, please share one, a cup of coffee and some adult conversation with me. 🙂 You’re welcome!

“i voted” photo contest winners!

Today I ran a little informal photo contest on my Facebook page, for the coolest “I Voted” sticker picture of the day. Holy pixels, Batman – too many CUTE babies/kids, funny grown-ups and awesome creative types. The winner gets a dozen cookies mailed or delivered, and because I’m horrible at picking one fabulous picture over another, i decided to make a lot of cookies and have winners in several categories. 🙂

1. Cute Baby
2. Cute Kid
3. Most Creative
4. Most Beautiful
5. Funny Stuff

I had a couple people enter via Instagram, and they counted too. It was way too hard to decide!

SO. The winners!

1. Cute Baby – ACK, so many cute ones. But Jeremy and Rachel’s little sunshine’s smile was too much.

2. Cute Kids – Ben’s clan of little-uns made me smile with their big grins.

3. Most Creative was a tie between Amber, with her Voter Droid and Sara, with her Baby Belly.

4. Prettiest – when Janelle told me she was entering (and going to win!) I knew she’d come up with something fabulous. And she did.


5. Funny Stuff – Leah got her boys in on this and her son Jack (love that name!) turned into Voterman! LOL. I died laughing. Super great.

I wish that I had enough money to mail cookies to everyone that entered, because I loved every single picture. 🙂 I have some great friends and acquaintances across the U.S. that participated in the privilege of voting for our country’s president and other leaders. Proud of you all!

I was glad to vote – I was voter number 1012 in my precinct today. We brought the kids too and they got their little stickers. They even had a little voting booth for kids! Jack voted for the Angry Birds over Cat in the Hat – they’ll use the winning vote for an ice sculpture this winter at our town festival. Cute, huh?


Lastly, my friend Joy asked if she won, would I send her cookies to her brother who is stationed in Germany with the Army. That is a YES. Even though I didn’t pick her photo, I am definitely sending him some cookies. If you would like to join me and send him some homemade baked love, email me or leave a comment and I’ll get you his address. I’d love to have 5 other people mail him a care package before Christmas. {Supporting our troops is big around this house with my brother Nate also serving our country in the Army Special Forces. So proud of him!}

Even if your man (or woman) didn’t win today, I am glad that “The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” Daniel 4:25. Trusting that He will guide us through whatever lies ahead.

9 months with grandma and papa

this year, from February to September, we had two extra people in our household. Two of the best kind of people – grandparents! (Also known as my parents for 30 years, but you know, when the grandbabies come along, that’s not such a big thing anymore. I kid! I kid.)

Grandma Meri and Papa Keith moved in with us for what they anticipated would be a few months. Their house had sold and their next assignment, as houseparents for a maternity shepherding home run by the Metro Women’s Center, wasn’t quite ready yet. The Amazing Grace house needed some work done (translated – massive remodeling) and so they needed a place to stay in the interim.

Of course, we were only too glad to have them stay with us. Our downstairs can function almost as its own little space for guests, so we moved junk out of the way and they set up their little room. Days stretched into weeks, weeks into months and months into almost the whole year. It was a treasure of 2012 that I will forever be grateful for.

The kids loved having them here. I loved having them here. Kyle was glad to have them here. (I’m so glad he and my parents get along so nicely.) Jack loved going down and seeing what Papa and Grandma were up to. Most of Taylor’s first year in this world had Grandma and Papa in it on a daily basis.

Now they’ve been gone to their new house for a month and we miss them. Even if they hadn’t done so much for us and invested so much into our lives in the time they were with us, we’d miss them. But the truth is, they are generous people.

My dad fixed things around the house that Kyle hadn’t had a chance to do. My mom was the Magical Laundry Fairy while she lived here. Clothes would go down the chute dirty and come up in baskets, clean and folded. Countless books were read to two eager little people. Groceries were delivered. Many snuggles given, many games played. Papa Keith took Jack on bike rides and taught him important bike safety. Grandma Meri got out special toys and played fun games with Jack while I made supper or put Taylor to bed. Kyle and I were so blessed too – a lot of marriage building and encouraging happened over those 9 months while Mom and Dad kindly watched the kids or stayed here after they were in bed while we ducked out for time together.

Yes, their gifts to us were many. And now as we have adjusted to the new normal of just our little family again, we are thankful for the time we had with them. I know the memories will continue to be a lasting kindness. Their new house isn’t too far away for visits and sleepovers both ways. We’ll be grateful that they (and the Puelston grandparents) are within an hour’s drive and not thousands of miles away like so many of our friend’s parents/families.

But we miss you, Papa Keith and Grandma Meri!

oops. (and foto friday::cute costumes)

I had good intentions of blogging three times again this week, but here we are and its Friday. 😛 

So here’s what I have coming soon: 

  • about my parents moving out after living with us for most of 2012
  • recipe for applesauce cupcakes with ginger brown butter icing
  • Taylor’s birthday party (which was a month ago – ahem.)

Here’s pictures of my cute babies on Halloween – Jack was Carl from Pixar’s UP. Taylor was – wait for it…a pumpkin. I know, super original. 😉 



stay tuned for more!