Friday, July 29, 2011

Let Them Eat . . . Cheesecake!

Tomorrow, July 30, is National Cheesecake Day  -- a special day set aside to celebrate cheesecake -- I just love holidays, don't you!?! 

I almost hate to admit it, but I am not a huge fan of cheesecake -- well, unless chocolate is involved.  And so, I thought I would share with you my favorite recipe for a marble cheesecake.  It's actually called Chocolate and Vanilla Marble (flourless) Cake, but let's be real -- it taste like cheesecake (only better), so I'm calling it cheesecake!


8 oz cream cheese softened to room temperature
2/3 C sugar
1 large egg
1 t vanilla extract

10 oz bittersweet chocolate (sometimes I use half bittersweet, half semi-sweet)
10 T butter, cut into 6 pieces
3 large eggs
1/3 C sugar
1 T rum or espresso
1 t vanilla
pinch salt

Move oven rack to middle and heat oven to 300. Lightly grease a 9x2 round cake pan and line bottom with parchment.

For VANILLA BATTER: Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and keep beating until well blended. Add egg and vanilla and beat until just blended. Set aside.

For CHOCOLATE BATTER: Melt chocolate and butter together. Whisk until smooth and set aside to cool slightly. Beat eggs, sugar, rum, vanilla and salt on high until mixture is pale and thick, about 3 to 4 minutes. Switch mixer to low and slowly pour in melted chocolate until well blended.

Spread half of the chocolate batter on to the bottom of the pan. Alternately add large scoopfuls of each batter to the pan. Use a knife to gently swirl two batters together so they're mixed but not blended [it will look swirly and marbleized.] Rap the pan against the counter a few times to settle the batters.

Bake 40-42 minutes. Cool and then refrigerate until very cold - at least four hours.  You can even make this ahead of time and freeze for later.

Serve to your very happy guests! 
Last year, I also made a little raspberry sauce to go with it -- super delish!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Beach!

Somehow the beach and my camera were not in sync this year.  It was often way too humid which resulted in a fogged up lens, often very windy, or just simply operator (moi) error, as my beach photos were not quite up to par.  Nonetheless, I did get a few on the very last day of my girl that I kind of like -- even with windblown hair all over the place! 

Flowers on the beach!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cute Cousins -- Now and Then!

Grace - 12 years old and Maddy 9-1/2 years old

Besides getting to spend a whole week with so many wonderful friends, our time in Hilton Head was special because the two youngest cousins in the family were together -- yes, I mean the fabulous duo --
Grace and Maddy! 

Those two have a very special and fun friendship.  Grace really looked out for Maddy and kept her involved in all the activities.  Plus, those two can play a mean game of War (cards, that is), and it was so nice to have someone besides me for Maddy to duel it out over! 

Maddy at 8 years old and Grace -- 11 years old.
  Larry (the bichon) was 1 year old.

Over the years, the girls have had many fun times together.  Distance (we live in Nebraska and they live in Florida) keeps us from being together as much as we would like.  The girls are sweet and funny and silly and maybe a little diabolical together!!  Can't wait for more cousin fun!

Pirate Night -- Maddy at 4 years old and Grace 7 years old.

I searched and searched for this last photo and just found it!  Look how adorable they were!  
This was taken the first summer that Maddy was home. 

Maddy - 1-1/2 and Grace 4 years old

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Vacay Recap - The Beach and the Pool!

Time for the vacation recap -- you've all been on the edge of your seats waiting, right?! :)   Okey, dokey (we say that a lot in Nebraska), here goes.

Our flights to Hilton Head were a breeze with no flight delays (gotta love that)!  But ... there was one little glitch!  On our very first flight, Mr. Tennis was the last person to get on the plane!  Due to his hip replacement, he has to get the full-body scan at security, so that takes a bit longer. Yikes!  Maddy and I heard last call for our flight, so yelled the gate number to him and took off running without him and jumped on board!  Well, we didn't quite ditch him, we did tell the flight attendant that he was on the way!

It didn't take us too long to reach our condo and greet the CCAI travel group 182 families and their adorable 12-year olds!  Oh my - those girls just get prettier and prettier and they are all getting so tall!  Beach time, pool fun and catching-up were the main things on the agenda with a little sightseeing and shopping thrown in.  Since I traveled with my sister to meet her sweet daughter, Grace, I got to know the 182 families and their sweet baby girls in March, 2000.  You could not wish for a nicer group of people.  The girls and the grown-ups all pick up right where we left off since the last reunion in 2009.  Such a sweet group and we are so thrilled to be included!

The girls were fab hula hoopers --  note -- no Moms even attempted to hula!

The first few days were a bit smokey out due to a fire in the Okefenokee swamp -- thus, my morning photos look a little hazy and the sun took on a reddish glow. I did run -- well, walked more than ran -- every day (go me!) :)   The day's activities ranged from beach time with sand creations and hula hoops, pool fun, crafts, bicycle-riding -- there was always something going on!!! There may have a bit of giggling happening too.   Due to the extreme heat and humidity (heat index was 120 one day!), my hair went totally berserk.  Yes, it's true, a collection was taken up for me to have a straightening process done! 

Pool fun!
 Nearly every day, I tried to get some beach photos -- one night it was so humid, it took all night long for my camera lens to de-fog!!  Oy -- that was so frustrating!!  Even the photo issues couldn't change the fact that it was a wonderful vacation and we loved every single minute! 
Stay tuned for cousin fun and finally -- the elusive beach photos!

Look -- it's a swim conga line!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Boogie fever

Morning fisherman at Hilton Head

Since Nebraska is a wee-bit landlocked, you might say that boogie boarding has been pretty much unheard of around here. 

Watching for that perfect wave to ride!
 We were at the beach last week -- Hilton Head -- to be exact and Miss Maddy was introduced to big waves and boogie boards. She was a little tentative at first, but got right into riding the waves.  Bonus that her cousin and the other older girls there watched out for her and helped.
Riding it in to the beach!

She did take a bit of a dunking once and then retired to sand activities!  Very fun times at HHI with hot temps and high humidity.  More posts to come as I finish laundry and get the sand out of the suitcases! :)

Cousin Grace showing her mad sand skills!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Going Back!

Going back to Hilton Head for a China travel group reunion.

Plan to do some lounging on the beach!

Morning bicycle rides!

 And . . .

Jumping for joy and spending lots of time with family and friends. 
[Photos above from HHI - 2009]

See ya when I get back!!

 jboo, mr. tennis and miss maddy

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Weekend Update and a Look Back

Maddy-- July 4, 2011

We had a fun 4th of July! 
We spent the day doing a few things around the house, buying firecrackers, going to the pool and taking Miss Muffy for walks.  Our sweet neighbors organized a little get-together which was wonderful and then we watched a fireworks show put on by their daring teen sons and other neighborhood kids.  How I remember fondly (HA HA HA) the days when my two boys were blowing things up!   Funny (and nice) how much less we spent on fireworks this year for Maddy as compared to the years with the boys at home! 

Muffy and Maddy -- July 2010

This time last year, we had just met our sweet pup Muffy. She was only about 8 weeks old.   Oh my, she was the most adorable of pups.  Funny how I have forgotten (not really) all the time I spent getting up during the night with her to take her out, protect her from opossums and urge her to go potty quickly.  Of course, those months passed by quickly (who am I kidding -- last summer was the longest ever!!) and now, she is the best little Scottie.  Have heard Scottie's described as little dogs with BIG personalities -- that fits her to a T!   She was a teensy 4 pounds when we met her last July and now full grown at almost 16 pounds.  She loves to be outside guarding the house and yard from naughty squirrels and rabbits.  She even caught a trespassing mouse a month ago!  Yay Muffy!

Muffy shares guarding the house duties with a ceramic Scottie!

Muffy and her best friend Maddy - July 2011
For some unknown reason, Muffy has taken a liking to sitting in this pot --weird, I know.  I think she may have buried a favorite treat in it known as a bully stick (chewy stick thing).  Maddy often asks if she is Muffy's best buddy?   The answer is a most definite yes!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Flashback 4th of July!

Evidently, I was seriously negligent in some July 4th festivities in past years. When attempting to put this together, I had to search high and low for these photos and they start in 2007. Oops -- oh well, promise to do better in the future!

Maddy and girlfriends from our neighborhood -- 2007 -- Maddy was 5-1/2 years old! 

Sweet little black and white from 2008!

2009  - Maddy had just gotten her haircut -- love this cut on her!

2010 -  4th of July spent in Chicago on our girl trip with Amy and Grace!  Can you guess where we were?  The Hershey store - yum!