Cheesy Pound Cake for Mother’s Day

After 5 1/2 weeks of many hours and lots of labor, our sweet new home is coming together into our forever dream.

Of course, when you have twenty-seven years of magazine articles in a notebook and Pinterest boards detailing home and garden plans it does come together rather quickly, much to Audley’s chagrin.

Even though we have been crazy busy around here, we have still managed to welcome spring and celebrate all the little things from Easter to birthdays and tomorrow, we will be hosting Mother’s Day here at our new home.

When deciding what I should prepare, I went way back into my archive of hand-written recipes that I began back in college and pulled out one of my favorites; a cheesy poundcake from Southern Living around 1994.

It’s probably one of my favorite pound cake recipes as well as one that is so versitle. With ingredients like sharp cheddar cheese, cream cheese, all the butter and real vanilla this pairs well with coffee, berries, a chocolate sauce, a lemon cream, or cranberries soaked in a sweet red wine.

My favorite way to enjoy this cake though, is still warm from the oven, with fresh plain strawberries and slightly sweetened homemade whipped cream. The flavors pair so well together and with all the sugar in the cake (it IS a pound cake after all), you don’t need to add any more.

So let’s gather some ingredients.

You’ll need 1 1/2 cups of butter, 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, 3 cups of sugar, 6 large eggs, 3 cups all-purpose flour, salt, 2 cups finely shredded cheese (this recipe is SO much better if you shred it yourself. Trust me), and 1 Tablespoon high quality vanilla.

{I never said this recipe was healthy.}

While baking this recipe in a Bundt pan is perfectly fine and definitely less work in the kitchen, I used a flower cakelet pan from Williams Sonoma for my pound cakes just for aesthetics and a cuteness factor.

After baking, I trimmed the bottoms so that the cakes would set flat. That is Audley’s favorite part of baking, because he is a crust kinda guy. As I said my favorite way to enjoy this cake is with strawberries, so that is definitely the way we’ll be serving it up!

I’ll add the entire recipe in just a sec., but I would love to hear your Mother’s Day plans!

Check out this rich and scrumptious recipe below and have a fabulous weekend!

Welcome Back

“Welcome back, your dreams were your ticket out
Welcome back, to that same old place that you laughed about”

To say we have been rather busy lately is quite an understatement.

You see, fifty-seven days ago, I was playing around on Realtor.com just as I have for the last several years, pondering the possibilities of the many listings that were up at the moment, when something caught my eye.

I mean something REEEE-ally caught my eye.

So, I did something that I had never done in all my years of looking; with Audley’s guidance I reached out to a VA lender for a preapproval.

“Well the names have all changed since you hung around
But those dreams have remained and they’ve turned around”

Fifty-five days ago, we canceled our weekend plans and took a little road trip into Alabama. There, we looked at two houses. One was trashed and definitely showed what a little staging for the internet can do. The other was nearly perfect; close to everything we had in mind for a home.

“Who’d have thought they’d lead ya
Back here where we need ya”

Fifty- four days ago we made an offer on a house, wrote an earnest money check, and the very next day it was accepted.

We were under contract with “closing in thirty-five days.”

{GULP}

Thirty-one days ago, I accepted a position to teach pre-k in a newly established Christian Academy this coming autumn.

Twenty-four days ago, we met with our realtor in the small town of Scottsboro, Alabama to close, and at the same time became first time homeowners.

“Yeah we tease him a lot ’cause we got him on the spot, welcome back
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back…”

Fourteen days ago, we moved to Stevenson, Alabama, just 3 miles from where Audley grew up and where we moved away from almost exactly ten years ago.

“…And I know what a scene you were learning in
Was there something that made you come back again”

There is a lot to the hows, whys, and whats of all this, but the Reader’s Digest version is Audley changed industries back in December and works from home, when he is not traveling. After nearly 27 years of moving with power company and paper mill construction, we have been given the opportunity to control our own path.

“And what could ever lead ya
Back here where we need ya”

Our “First” Home

We decided the time was right to purchase a home, but with the market what it is, this was not so easy. We looked near Atlanta (where we had been living). We looked in South Carolina (to be near our grandbaby). We looked in Tennessee. We looked in Alabama. But we weren’t serious until the right property became available. We really wanted out of the city, we wanted property, preferably not new construction, and a ranch style. We wanted character and potential. Something move-in ready that we could add our own spin on to turn into our home.

Who knew where it would lead us?!

The craziness, busyness, chaotic mess of the last fifty-seven days was an answered prayer in so many ways, especially with the ease of purchasing our first home. We stayed within our budget, worked with a great realtor and lender, and found what I hope is our forever home!

Back Porch Views

And the song lyrics scatter throughout my post? As we were driving on I-24 with a moving van, our pups and kitty I was listening to a 70’s station on Spotify. The theme song to “Welcome Back Kotter” by John Sebastion began playing on the radio. I laughed as I thought back to all the times we’ve left this area to chase our dreams, only to return.

“Yeah we tease him a lot ’cause we got him on the spot, welcome back
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back”

God sure does have a sense of humor.

15 Ways to Brighten a Winter Day

Happy New Year and Happy Ground Hog’s Day as well! As has become my tradition, I took most of December and January off to enjoy family time and organize myself for this new year! We are welcoming February with high winds, rain and a nice little cold front here in North Georgia. While Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow up north, General Beau, Georgia’s own groundhog apparently did not.

{Rumor has it he wasn’t awake enough to see much of anything!}

Regardless of whether there will be six more weeks of winter or an early spring, the American calendar does confirm we have 6 weeks until the official first day of Spring. Whether it’s rainy, snowy or just plain ugly as winter days can often be, winter is not the most popular season.

With that in mind, I thought I would share Fifteen ways to brighten up your winter days.

1. Plant winter color – pansies, violas, crocus … all of these beautiful options are delightful in a couple of porch or patio containers during the season when everything is so dreary looking.

2. Go for a winter walk or hike. Bundle up if you must, but even just a few minutes in the outdoors on a sunny day improves your mood drastically!

3. Make a savory pot of stew. Simple, filling, homey, cosy … a pot of stew not only warms you up (and lasts through a couple of meals), but evokes wonderful memories of winter at home.

4. Plan out your spring and summer gardens. While you’re at it, order a few seeds as well!

5. Refinish a piece of furniture. Hit up a thrift store or Facebook marketplace and find an inexpensive project piece to keep you busy.

6. Open up the curtains and blinds and let the light in. Natural light (not the beer) is a known mood booster!

7. Set aside a few minutes daily for quiet time. Whether you read, close your eyes while listening to classical music, or really enjoy sipping your morning coffee choose a time of day for refocusing your mind and disconnecting from everyday stress.

8. Volunteer. Shelters and food kitchens all over are desperate for help right now. Even just one afternoon a week can make a huge difference in someone’s life, including your own.

9. Visit a local museum or other historical venue. This is a great way to get to learn your community or region. You might be surprised at what you find out about where you live!

10. Grow indoor plants or try your hands a forcing a bloom or two.

11. Visit the Georgia Coast. Carry a bike, a beach picnic, and enjoy a romantic weekend away in the Spanish moss of Jekyll Island.

12. Have a tea party for one or for several, it really doesn’t matter. Just turn off your phone and television, light some candles, find a Nancy Meyers inspired (think The Holiday, It’s Complicated, Father of the Bride, or Home Again) playlist on Spotify, and serve up a delightful afternoon of “chick” food, tea and conversation or a good book. There is no wrong way to enjoy tea!

13. Have a winter picnic. Pack plenty of blankets, and get creative with your menu. From a location where you can build a bonfire to soup served straight from the thermos there are many ways to enjoy this unique picnic.

14. Exercise. Winter is a great time to begin an exercise program. Not only will it boost your endorphins and your mood (‘happy people don’t kill their husbands” …. name that movie), you’ll feel better in the spring and summer when you bring out the shorts.

15. Set your goals for the year. I made this last for a reason; not everyone has goals or even knows what their goals are! For some people this is high priority, for others it is not, and guess what?! That is perfectly alright! The United States is a fast-paced goal driven society, but sometimes just living in the moment and seeing where it takes you is just as satisfying as checking off something on a list.

Is there anything different you would add to this list? I would love to hear your ideas!

Until next time, create a bright spot in your little corner of winter.

10 Things December Edition

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and I’m ready to savor every moment this season has to offer! I’ve got my bucket list made out and thought I would share a few ideas with you to add to your own list.

1. Visit a Christmas tree farm. If you want the freshest of live trees this is the best way to pick one that will last! Sip on cider, take some fun pictures and bring home a tree that’ll make a lovely centerpiece for the holidays. Thompson’s Tree Farm in Lawrenceville is a great place to check out if you are in the Atlanta area.

2. Donate to Toys for Tots. Sponsored by the Marine Corps, Toys for Tots strives to collect new toys and distribute to less fortunate children across the country. This is a huge undertaking and requires a lot of community support. Could you imagine if every family, that was able actually placed a toy in the bins all around the city, how many children’s holiday could be changed?

3. Make Christmas cookies. These Cream-Filled Cookies or traditional Sugar Cookies are perfect for friends and family alike. They’ll be a hit no matter where you serve them this season.

4. Pay for someone’s coffee. Nothing makes a person’s day brighter than to treat them with a cup of coffee. It’s been a stressful couple of years for A LOT of people and I promise this little act of kindness will go a long way.

5. Take a drive to look at Christmas lights around town. Put some Christmas music on the radio and head out to see all the twinkling lights your town has to offer. This has been a favorite tradition of mine since I was a little girl, and with social media access you can often find where the best diplays are before you head out.

6. Send out Christmas cards. Yes, it takes time to address, write a message and sign the card, but this is a tradition we all need to get on board with again! I love recalling memories we have shared with so many friends and family over the years as I write each message, and it’s the same as I open each card we receive as well. We’ve lived in six states, attended the same Bible camp for years, carry on friendships from college, and traveled on mission trips where we have created a lasting bond with many. Turn off your social media and get personal. One evening of a favorite Christmas movie and a box of cards goes a long way.

7. Speaking of movies, enjoy a Christmas movie marathon over the holidays. From 1954’s White Christmas to 2021’s A Boy Called Christmas there are plenty of movies for every mood!

8. Set up a hot chocolate bar for the family. I’m absolutely loving these adorable Jolly Good marshmallows from Two’s Company. I picked up my bag from the new Buc-ees up the road, but you can also find something similar at Williams-Sonoma.

9. Make a wreath. Simple or elaborate, it’s up to you, but grab some ribbon, a nutcracker and some sparkly floral picks and create your own welcoming wreath.

10. While Jesus was most likely born in the spring and not December 25th, Read the Gospel of Luke in the days leading up to Christmas as a reminder of why the birth of Jesus is so important to many of us who celebrate the Christmas season for more than Santa Claus. For many it’s the only time of the year they are open to hearing about Christ and I’m more than happy to oblige.

Have you put together a bucket list for you and your family this season? I would love to hear what you’ve added to yours!

Happy December!