Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Welcome to the Family!

Friday night we got commissioned into the religious order of Campus Crusade for Christ!!


This is Jordan getting his certificate and getting ready to shake hands with Steve and Judy Douglas - the president of CCC and his wife. When we shook their hands, I swear, with the most tender heart, they told each one of us welcome to the family, and thank you for committing your life to Christ. It was really special. I cried 3 times during the ceremony. It just feels really good to be needed and wanted. And it feels great to be done with New Staff Training! On to the National Staff Conference! Woo!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Road Trip Recap:

Okay, I know this is bad. It's been about a month since we got to Colorado, but I sorta despise long blog picture posts. But then when I'm done I love them. And Anne Parker got on my case for not posting, so out of love for her, I am abandoning the procrastination :)

These are all of our 26 hour road trip from Blacksburg to Ft. Collins....starting with the crazy huge cross in SWVA...I love us.

Sadly, I only got pictures of 3 of the state signs out of the 6...I thought about cheating and getting them off line, but I can be honest. We just weren't quick enough!

Us, drivin' along - with all our stuff for the summer! The car was so heavy.

In Nashville, we stopped at the Opryland Hotel - which I kept calling the Grand Ole Opry. It was so cool and a great hour-long break for us. If you've never been there - and are in Nashville - you should definitely visit. It is filled with indoor gardens, shops, pathways, restaurants. It's really a resort town all in one place. You wouldn't even have to leave if you were there for a week. We got Haagen Daaz while we were there! I love their honey vanilla flavor.

Random bridge in Kentucky, I think. Maybe Illinois. But it's pretty.


In Carbondale, we stopped to visit Colleen. I haven't seen her in 2 years and it was awesome to stay with her. Her family was so hospitable and sweet. And Colleen and I stayed up til 1 talking - I love friends I can pick up with right where we left off. Happy Marriage in 16 days!!

Driving into ST. LOUIS! The arc. Which we didn't go up in. We were trying to stick to free stuff.

Got this the second time around - when we had to turn around cause we got on the wrong highway -- oops!

Busch Stadium - the St. Louis Cardinals. You could practically see into the stadium from the interstate.

Then we stoppped at the St. Louis Zoo - which was free :) and so fun! We stayed for a couple of hours and had a great time

These were HUGE turtles!!

Love him.

These were statues - in case you didn't know.

In Kansas City, MO, we happened upon an AWESOME outdoor integrated shopping center/mall thing - kind of like Carytown in Richmond but way cleaner and bigger - and with shops you would see in a mall.

Isn't that crazy that they have the doggie bar! Such a good idea though for an outdoor mall.

All of the architecture was Islamic which was kind of weird - but i loved it!!

Too bad we didn't go to PF Chang's or Fogo, but it was cool to see them!!

Amazing windmills that I was obviously obsessed with.

These were in Kansas, while we drove the 464 miles in one day.

The huge Van Gogh painting in Goodland, KS, where we were planning to stay. We decided to drive through to CO that night. But notice the scary clouds. While we were there eating, there was a tornado warning for the area - and the locals were telling us they'd take us to their shelter and stuff. Kind of unnerving, but after our near death experience, we made it out alive. :) whew.

Now we're in Ft. Collins - this is our lovely dorm room! I brought our sheets and comforter and stuff from home which makes it way more homey. And we have an awesome view!!

See...I told you, this is from our dorm room. :)


I have been meaning to post the recipes and pictures of these awesome yummy cakes I made over the past few months - they are so good and I would definitely recommend all of them! The berry torte one is especially good for summer, especially if the raspberries are on sale. :)

This one I made for the Servant Team thank you dinner. Soo good - if you love maple flavoring you'll love it. The icing is so light and fluffy and not too sweet, which I love.

Maple Mocha Brownie Torte

"This impressive-looking dessert is at the top of my list of speedy standbys. It's simple to make because it starts with a boxed brownie mix. Then the nutty brownie layers are dressed up with a fluffy frosting that has a rich creamy texture and irresistible maple taste." —Amy Flory Cleveland, Georgia


TIME: Prep: 30 min. Bake: 20 min. + cooling


  • 1 package brownie mix (13-in. x 9-in. pan size)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons maple flavoring
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Chocolate curls or additional walnuts, optional


Prepare batter for brownie mix according to package directions for cake-like brownies. Stir in walnuts. Pour into two greased 9-in. round baking pans.
Bake at 350° for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted 2 in. from the edge comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
In a large bowl, beat cream and coffee granules until stiff peaks form. Gradually beat in brown sugar, maple flavoring and vanilla.
Spread 1-1/2 cups over one brownie layer; top with second layer. Spread remaining cream mixture over top and sides of torte. Garnish with chocolate curls or walnuts if desired. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 12 servings.

Raspberry Orange Torte!

This was actually made as a gift/birthday cake for sweet Lindsay Thompson. :)

Guests are sure to be dazzled by this super-moist dessert from our Test Kitchen that’s ideal for special occasions. A rich orange cream filling is spread between the cake layers for a luscious look and taste.


TIME: Prep: 25 min. Bake: 30 min. + cooling


  • 1 package (18-1/4 ounces) white cake mix
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen sweetened raspberries, thawed
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 carton (8 ounces) Mascarpone cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries


Prepare and bake cake according to package directions, using two greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to a wire rack to cool completely.
Press sweetened raspberries through a sieve; discard seeds. Set raspberry puree aside. In a small bowl, beat cream until stiff peaks form. In a large bowl, beat the Mascarpone cheese, sugar, orange juice and orange peel. Fold in whipped cream.
Cut each cake into two horizontal layers. Place bottom layer on a serving plate. Brush with about 1/4 cup raspberry puree. Spread with about 1 cup cream mixture; top with 1/2 cup fresh raspberries. Repeat layers three times. Refrigerate until serving. Yield: 10-12 servings.

Triple Layer Banana + PB Cake
This I made at home - mainly because I knew my dad would love it... He's a sucker for PB and banana sandwiches. It turned out well, but I added a little too much milk to the icing when I made it - so be wary of that! It ended up being runny, but still super good - and we had leftovers in a bowl for drizzling that way. But it would have been better if it were firmer. Oh well.
TIME: Prep: 20 min. Bake: 25 min. + cooling


  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 6 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 5-1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 8 to 10 tablespoons milk
  • Peanut halves, optional


In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in bananas and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk.
Pour into three greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
For frosting, in a large bowl, beat the peanut butter and butter until smooth. Beat in confectioners' sugar and enough milk to achieve spreading consistency. Frost between layers and over top and sides of cake. Garnish with peanuts if desired. Yield: 14 servings.

All recipes from Taste of Home (my fav site for desserts).

Friday, July 3, 2009

happy fourth!

my favorite part of the fourth:


2nd favorite: festive food!

enjoy the people around you, thank God for our freedom in America, and let's eat!