Friday, April 29, 2011

Lemon Coconut Pound Cake

I've spent a wonderful morning watching the royal wedding with my mom, sister-in-law, and niece (we all loved Kate's gown). Tea, scones from Patisserie Margo in Minneapolis, fresh fruit, and lots of chit-chat. It's been blissful. Last Saturday I spent another blissful morning with my dear friend Heidi Murphy. Heidi and I became instant pals 12 years ago when we started working at the same company on the same day with the same name, same hair color, and same sense of humor—though Heidi is leaps and bounds funnier than I am and has me LOL-ing every single time we talk.

Heidi, a New American Homemaker if there ever was one, loves to bake with and for her two couldn't-be-cuter sons, Shea and Griffin, and she sent me home last Saturday with this delectable glazed pound cake (recipe below). I love how she wrapped it in the cellophane gift bag tied with twine and added the cute label. So special—just like Heidi.

Lemon Coconut Pound Cake
from Southern Living magazine
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons+ lemon zest
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, divided
  • I ADD 1/2 tsp+ Lemon Extract and 1/2 tsp+ Coconut Extract. (More can be used for a good punch of flavor.)
  • 1. Preheat oven to 325°. Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
  • 2. Stir together flour, salt, and baking soda. Add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in lemon zest and 1/2 cup coconut. Pour batter into a greased and floured 9- x 5-inch loaf pan. (Or into 4 mini loaf pans.)
  • 3. Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 5 minutes to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 1 hour).
  • 4. Spoon Lemon Glaze over cake, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup coconut and lemon zest.
Lemon Glaze
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp Lemon Extract (more to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp Coconut Extract (more to taste)
  • Whisk together powdered sugar, 2 Tbsp. milk, and fresh lemon juice, adding an additional 1 Tbsp. milk, 1 tsp. at a time, for desired consistency.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How Great Thou Art + Tipping Points

"How Great Thou Art"
Two of my friends posted this on Facebook (thanks, Donna and Gretchen!), and chances are you're one of the nearly 3 million people who've already treated your ears to Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill's beyond-beautiful rendition of "How Great Thou Art." I've watched this video three times now, and each time I find myself wiping away tears while simultaneously wondering a) what products Carrie uses to make her lips look that good, and b) where I could get a good knock-off version of those killer earrings.


Tipping Points
It's been a ridiculously busy couple of weeks, but I was doing a marvelous job convincing myself that I was handling everything just fine-and-dandy—until Monday evening, when not being able to find my son's shoes as we were racing out the door for T-ball rendered me a crying, splotchy-faced, mascara-streaked mess. It was my tipping point, which defines as "The point at which the buildup of minor changes or incidents reaches a level that triggers a more significant change or makes someone do something he or she had formerly resisted." Yep, sounds about right. Tipping points are an all-too frequent occurrence in my life as a New American Homemaker. I let things build up but keep soldiering on...and then, when I'm least expecting it, a tiny, seemingly innocuous thing "triggers" me to completely lose it. Hours or even mere minute later, I can look at the situation rationally and think, "So I couldn't find his shoes and he had to wear sandals to T-ball. Who cares? He's six! All that matters to him is getting to practice and playing with his friends!" But in the heat of my tipping point moment, misplaced shoes are tantamount to a five-alarm crisis.

It's a character flaw I'll keep working on. Infusing life with spiritual uplifters like Carrie Underwood singing "How Great Thou Art" is one way to keep my eyes on the prize—even when they're also looking for lost shoes.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

You're Beautiful

See if you can find five minutes to watch and listen to this today. Have a beautiful Easter!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Four-year-old Grant and I took this picture in the front yard after preschool today. Almost makes me happy that it snowed this morning. Almost. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Peeps on a Pond

This post will be short and very sweet—in a sugary, corn syrupy, Peepish sort of way. I heard about this concoction on the radio yesterday and just had to make it. I mean, how cute is this? And talk about easy: Make a couple of boxes of blueberry Jell-O and put some Peeps on top. We're bringing our Peeps on a Pond to a baseball kickoff potluck tonight. (Attention Cubs parents: apologies in advance for the extra brushing that will be required tonight to destain your little slugger's pond-tinted teeth.)

P.S. A huge violet-infused "thank you" to all of the dear friends who shared oodles and oodles of bloggable ideas, products, sentiments, and resources with me this past weekend at the 100th anniversary celebration of Alpha Delta Pi sorority at Iowa State University in Ames!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Flower can bouquet

These galvanized buckets are at the One Spot at Target right now along with lots of other cute pastel-y Easter stuff. I grabbed one this week figuring I could do something with it for Rowan's birthday party last night. A $15 bouquet from Costco +  two bunches of pink curling ribbon stuck into each handle + a fabric remnant tied around the can = inexpensive and easy bouquet. ("Inexpensive" and "easy" are equally important in my world!)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

Right about this time 365 days ago, Nate and I were arriving at the hospital for the birth of our fourth and final child—a baby we were certain was going to be a boy. After many dinner table conversations with the kids, our oldest son had finally come up with a name we all loved: Evan James. I had already designed the birth announcements so that I could just plop in his photo and add the time/weight/length details. A vintage photo of four boys (perfect!) posing outside Yankee Stadium was ready to go up on the nursery wall, and all the boys' newborn hand-me-downs were washed and waiting in dresser drawers.

All morning in the delivery room, the nurses kept saying, "We think you're going to have a girl." Finally, I said, "I need you to stop saying that. We're having a boy, we couldn't be happier, and I don't want to think that you'll be disappointed when that happens." That shushed them up—but not before one of them winked and said, "Okay. But we still think you're having a girl."

They were right. When our baby was born, Nate could barely choke out the word "girl!"—and I was too shocked to shed a tear. Since that morning, Rowan Eleanor has colored every day of our lives with happiness. She is a bright-eyed, snuggly, easy-to-laugh little joy. She's also loud, spunky, and already able to hold her own with her three big brothers. Having three older brothers myself, I know how incredibly blessed she is. They will play with her, protect her, and tease her just enough to teach her that the best kind of laughter is when you laugh at yourself.

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl! We are so thankful to God for bringing you into our family. 

P.S. I've gotten a few questions about how to use Picnik to add text to photos. I hope the below screen capture helps (see that initial post about this awesome Picnik function by clicking here). After you've uploaded a photo, go to the "Create" menu, then click on "text"—after that, you just need to play around with fonts and colors. So fun!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Royal Wedding (Viewing) Invitation

I was seven years old when Lady Diana married Prince Charles on July 29, 1981. My mom got me out of bed well before dawn to watch the wedding broadcast live on U.S. television. It's one of my all-time favorite childhood memories—munching on buttered toast sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, drinking hot chocolate, and taking in all the pomp and pageantry of what seemed, especially to my wistful, seven-year-old self, like a true fairytale.

Click here to jump to Flickr if you want to download this invitation

With the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William coming up, I decided to treat my mom to the same magical morning she created for me 30 years ago. I made this invitation, printed it on heavy paper, and dropped it in the mail to my mom a couple of weeks ago. Happily for me, she RSVP'd "yes" and will be sleeping over the night before the wedding so that I can wake her up well before dawn, treat her to warm scones and hot tea, and watch another royal wedding with her. I absolutely can't wait.

If you'd like to invite your daughter, niece, neighbor or whomever to a royal wedding viewing at your house, I posted a downloadable invitation on Flickr (click the link above). I'm also happy to send you a .jpg or PDF directly. Just email me at


Monday, April 4, 2011


I don't know if I've ever been happier about a Monday. The boys are on spring break this week, and we're officially beginning our stay-cay. Of all the fun stuff we have planned, I think the kids are most excited about the fact that we're setting up a tent in the basement and "camping out" all week. (It's still a family camp out even if the parents don't last all night in the tent, right?) In the spirit of family camaraderie, I'm going to take a break from My Kids Eat Candy© this week. First, here are three things I've got to share.

If you're an interior design junkie like I am, look for the latest issue of Kitchen + Bath Makeovers when you're checking out at Target or your supermarket. I adore this magazine. It's always filled with fresh, accessible, inspiring ideas. I happily contributed two stories to the current issue, including a look at how my neighbor, an interior designer, created a dual-purpose built-in adjacent to her kitchen (it's a command center by day and a serving station by night—brilliant!), and a story on page 102 about my own budget-friendly powder room makeover. Important BTW: I'm always on the lookout for home projects to write about, so please email me with photos of what you've done! 

I've received lots of questions about my Latisse experiment (see original post here). Sorry it took so long for an update. Bottom line: This stuff works! Here are more creepy eyelid photos to prove it. I've been using it every other day and will keep doing so for another month or two. My friend Kari, whose luscious Latisse lashes inspired me to try it for myself, stopped applying the product months ago and her lashes are still remarkably long and thick. Product endorsement time: Kari helped me celebrate my longer lashes by giving me a tube of her favorite mascara, Diorshow. I've never indulged in anything but drugstore mascara, but after just one week of using it, I can see why it's Kari's go-to.

My dad sent me this YouTube link of Andrea Bocelli singing The Lord's Prayer with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Heaven for your ears. I've been listening to this every chance I get and get chills (the good kind) almost every time. Have a wonderful week!

Click here to jump to YouTube