Jalapeno Cheese Focaccia and the Blues

I have a serious obsession with Jalapeno Cheddar Focaccia Bread. It’s no secret that I’m a carb lover, but I think this bread beats out any other in my mind for tastiest bready treat ever. No joke. I crave this bread almost as much as I crave fried pickles. Which is saying a lot.

The problem, however, is that I can only find it at the grocery store. And it costs $4 for a small little round that I can usually down on my drive back home if I’m hungry enough. And the worst part – they only actually have the bread in stock about 25% of the time I go. So I’ve been on a mission to find/come up with my own recipe for it so I can satisfy my craving any time at home for a lot less money. And I’ve come close! This isn’t perfected yet, but it’s getting there.

The original directions for this recipe were really bizarre and unlike any other bread recipe I’ve ever seen. So I decided to take a chance and put it together in a way that made more sense to me. Starting with the usual first step – dissolve 1 1/2 tablespoons of yeast in 1 cup of warm water. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and let rest about ten minutes until frothy.

In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add wet ingredients and mix until combined. Add one egg. At the last minute I decided to add 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary. Slowly mix in 2 1/2 more cups of flour until dough forms a ball. Knead or mix in mixer for five minutes. Place in a greased, covered bowl for one hour.

I wanted my focaccia to look just like the grocery store kind so after the dough rose I split it in two and pressed each ball into a greased cake pan. I then let it sit for 10 minutes while the oven preheated to 400 degrees. Next, use a knife to poke holes all over the dough. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over each round. Top with jarred jalapeno peppers, sliced cheese (I used colby jack since I had it on hand, but cheddar would probably be better), and additional rosemary if you want. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Overall, I was pretty impressed with how this turned out. I really didn’t expect it to work since I never have luck with any kind of focaccia. In comparison, the grocery store variety is still better. The texture is a little softer and it tastes a little more oily. But I’m definitely not going to give up on making it at home. Next time I think I’ll be more vigorous in my knife poking and probably add more than 2 tablespoons of olive oil per loaf. I’ll also add more spices to the dough. And definitely use cheddar cheese. And finally, bake it more like 20 minutes instead of 25. My loaf was a mite too crunchy. Good stuff, though!

This has nothing to do with focaccia bread, but I got two cute Embrace the Camera pictures with Shepard yesterday.

He loves getting his picture taken right now, but he always whips around to try and see the back of my camera before I even had a chance to take the photo!

Greg got a harmonica for his birthday, so the boys have been fighting over this toy harmonica we have to be just like him. Shepard is surprisingly good at it for a 15 month old!

Here he is just sitting by himself playing away!

Jalapeno Cheddar Focaccia Bread

1 cup warm water
1 1/2 tbs yeast
2 tbs olive oil

3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp rosemary
1 egg

4 tbs olive oil
1/3 cup jarred jalapeno peppers
1 tsp rosemary
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Mix water, yeast, and olive oil. Let sit for 10 minutes. Mix 1 cup of flour with the rest of dry ingredients. Add egg. Slowly add in the rest of the flour until combined. Knead for 5 minutes. Put in a covered bowl for one hour. Split into two greased cake pans. Let sit while oven preheats to 400 degrees. Poke holes in dough with knife. Drizzle olive oil over dough. Top with jalapenos, cheese, and rosemary. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Mother’s Day Cinnamon Rolls

Our family loves cinnamon rolls. I always have a stock of store bought rolls in the fridge for quick weekend breakfasts when I don’t feel like making anything more challenging. Last week with Mother’s Day coming up, I thought it would be an easy breakfast for Greg to make. But with some extra time on Friday I thought it would be nice to actually make cinnamon rolls from scratch instead. I always have mixed feelings about homemade cinnamon rolls. On one hand, they’re really really good. On the other hand, it’s nearly impossible to get them cooked properly. At least that seems to be my experience! So I went searching for a different recipe and came across a blogger who felt the same way about doughy undercooked cinnamon rolls. And of course the duh moment – don’t squish them all together in a tight pan and they probably won’t be so doughy!

To start the dough, mix 1 cup of warm milk, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast. Let sit for about ten minutes until bubbly. Mix in 2 eggs, 1/3 cup softened butter, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, 3 1/4 cups of flour, 3/4 cup of bread flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 cup of sugar. Knead for five minutes by hand or with your mixer. Put in an oiled, covered bowl and let rise for one hour. This is where I started having problems. My dough barely rose at all. I think I let it sit for close to three hours with almost no improvement. I finally decided to just go with it. I rolled it out and was impressed with how big I could make it. That’s another thing I get really annoyed with when making cinnamon rolls – the dough is so elastic that it’s nearly impossible to roll it out to a decent size. This dough was very pliable.

For the filling mix 1/2 cup of softened butter, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 3 tablespoons of cinnamon.

My butter wasn’t as soft as it should have been. It was really hard to evenly spread out the mixture. I eventually gave up on that too. Once it’s in the oven the filling will melt and spread out anyway.

Roll up the dough as tightly as possible and slice into approximately one inch slices. I decided to try something different and only used half of the dough to make regular cinnamon rolls. I’ll show you what I did with the other half in a minute.

Lay rolls out on a pan, cover, and let rise for another hour. Mine did not at all after this. I’m not sure if I did something wrong or this dough is just more tempermental. Since I made these on Friday and Mother’s Day was Sunday, I put them in the freezer. Late Saturday night I moved them to the fridge and they were ready to be baked Sunday morning.

Much smaller than I was expecting, but they’re kind of cute! When you’re ready, bake them at 400 degrees for about 10-12 minutes.

With the other half of the dough I attempted to be creative by slicing the roll into three strips, horizontally. Then I braided them and rolled them together to make a giant cinnamon roll.

We took the easy way out frosting these by using some leftover whipped vanilla frosting that was in the fridge. The original recipe includes a cream cheese frosting, but I knew Greg starts gagging when he sees the words cream cheese, so I decided not to even suggest he make it.

The large cinnamon roll looked pretty, but was overall a huge fail. I don’t think there was any way to cook the entire thing through without totally burning the outside.

The edges were good, but it was really a huge undercooked mess. The smaller rolls, though, were delicious! A little dense and the dough tasted a lot sweeter than regular cinnamon rolls. The additional spices in the dough made it unusual, but tasty. This is a recipe I’ll definitely be trying again – hopefully with slightly puffier results!

Mother’s Day Cinnamon Rolls


1 cup warm milk
1 tbs sugar
2 1/2 tsp yeast
2 eggs
1/3 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp salt
3 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup bread flour


1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tbs cinnamon

Cream Cheese Frosting:

3 ounces softened cream cheese
1/4 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice

 To start the dough, mix 1 cup of warm milk, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast. Let sit for about ten minutes until bubbly. Mix in 2 eggs, 1/3 cup softened butter, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, 3 1/4 cups of flour, 3/4 cup of bread flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 cup of sugar. Knead for five minutes by hand or with your mixer. Put in an oiled, covered bowl and let rise for one hour.

Roll dough into a rectangle. Make filling by mixing all ingredients. Spread filling over dough, roll tightly, and slice into 1 inch slices. Cover and let rise for one hour. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Make cream cheese frosting by combining all ingredients. Spread over rolls and enjoy!

Happy Mama’s Day!

Being a mommy is one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs on earth. You can never truly realize how emotionally taxing, yet joyous it is until you become one yourself. With every year and each additional child, the challenges evolve and life gets more complicated. But your mommy skills grow with your children and you learn how to love them in the best ways and generally have a great time doing it. I love Mother’s Day, especially since becoming one myself, because I think all moms need to be celebrated for who they are and what they do on a daily basis, usually with little to no immediate appreciation. I like this day where all the moms, grandmas, and influential women in our lives get a chance to be acknowledged and treated extra special. We deserve it! πŸ™‚

My special day got to start a little early this year. On Friday night Greg and Caden went shopping and came home with this beautiful bouquet of flowers for me! Pink and green are my favorite colors, especially together, so I thought it was very thoughtful!

On Sunday morning Caden came running into my bed and gave me a hug and kiss and said “Happy Mama’s Day!” He’s generally not very affectionate to me, so it was really sweet. Throughout the day he did this a couple of times and it made me very happy. πŸ™‚ He even told me this morning too when he woke up. I could get used to that!

For breakfast Greg baked some homemade cinnamon rolls that I made on Friday. They were delicious!

I love my boys.

After breakfast they gave me some really great gifts. Caden and Shepard made me some pictures with their hands and feet with help from grandma and aunties the day before. So cute!

Greg gave me this awesome bracelet from my all time favorite jewelry designer, Lisa Leonard. I love it! They also gave me some candy bars, my own stuffed Angry Bird (I was the only one without my own), and a huge tube of Bengay. Which is kind of funny, but very thoughtful because my back has been hurting so bad lately.

Shepard always brings me so many smiles and laughs. I hope he’s always such a snuggly and happy little boy.

We went to a park for a quick photo shoot. I thought this log would make for some good pictures, but it took a lot of energy to keep us from falling backward. I eventually dropped Shepard from my lap in order to save myself, lol.

This is a good one!

Shepard has quite a fascination with dandelions right now. He was pretty distracted by how many were beneath the tree.

Such a good husband and daddy, making me feel so special all day!

Shepard being silly, as usual.

We had lunch at a cupcake cafe in Madison with my in-laws. My mother-in-law, Cindy, is one of the strongest, most generous and compassionate women I know. She is an amazing grandma to my boys too!

Family love. πŸ™‚

We went to my parents’ house for the rest of the afternoon to relax and have dinner. The boys are playing double catch with Grandpa.

My parents’ pretty snowball bush. I love these flowers.

Me and my mom. She has a level of patience and unconditional love that I don’t think I will ever be able to reach myself. She is so kind and gentle to everyone and has set such a great example of motherhood to me. She is also an incredible grandma that the boys love to be with!

I just thought this was a funny picture. Shepard is pretty fascinated by the water bowls. Since he has his own water table at home he thinks that any container with water is there just for him to play with. What is that dog doing?

Giving Grandma a final hug. It was a great day. Happy Mother’s Day (one day late) to all of the moms out there. You are appreciated!

Embrace the Camera

Recently I’ve seen a lot of bloggers posting about “Embracing the Camera.” The purpose of this movement is for moms, who are generally behind the camera in most family photos, to start taking the initiative to be in more photos with their children. This has something that’s been bugging me a lot lately when I upload my photos from holidays and family gatherings and realize that there are absolutely no pictures of me. Not that I particularly love looking at pictures of myself, but I would like to have a permanent recording of the fact that I was actually there for all these events! When I’m gone I want my kids to look at our family pictures and see me, remember me, and remember all the little moments we had together.

Embracing the camera isn’t about setting up elaborate photo sessions where you get someone else to take stiff and posed photos of you with your kids. It’s simply about finding little ways to include yourself in the photos you already take. Turn the camera around every once in awhile and grab your kid for an impromptu cuddle picture. Set the self timer during one of the many every day moments you share. It’s not about perfection, it’s just about seeing you and your children together. And more importantly, them being able to see you together when they look at these pictures later in life. My kids are still young and they’re not going to remember these moments. But they will hopefully see these pictures and realize I loved them and we had a lot of fun together.

These pictures were a little dangerous. It’s probably not that safe to swing holding your squirming kid in one hand and your dslr pointed the wrong way in your other hand. Amazingly, nothing (or no one) was dropped.

Okay, I’m not in this at all. But I love Shepard’s little hands!

He’s been holding my hand a lot lately. He’s cooperating a lot earlier than Caden did with holding my hand walking on the sidewalk or in parking lots. At the park he wanted to hold hands while he walked on the wooden edging around the playground.

We were relaxing on the bench for awhile, watching Caden chase kids all over the place.

Back at home trying to get some pictures with Caden now. He has such gigantic eyes.

Caden liked this embracing the camera idea. Whereas after Shepard’s baptism when I really wanted him in pictures and he refused, yesterday he kept saying “more things!” to try and come up with other ideas of ways we could be in it together.

Caden and I have exactly the same super wide stubby toed feet.

Shepard was intrigued by this idea and had to stick his feet in too.

Trying to get in on this picture too. Even though he’s totally cut off, this is one of my favorites. πŸ™‚

Pictures like this are much more easily done with a point and shoot! My arms aren’t long enough to get us both in!

That’s better!

This is a fun one too.

Okay, only my leg is in this picture… But I love how Caden’s feet and hand look!

I wanted to try and get an everyday moment kind of picture too with Caden helping me wrap some presents. It’s harder taking the pictures with a self timer. I like the smiley giant face ones better.

Anyway, it was fun spending my day trying to get some fun and happy pictures of me and my boys. I’m going to try doing things like this a lot more often!

Shepard’s Baptism

Yesterday was Shepard’s baptism! This will be a mostly photo post since there’s not a whole lot to say beside he was baptized, we ate lunch, he got some presents!

Caden was very curious about the holy water.

Shepard was just confused.

I really thought he’d cry, but he did great. It helped that Aunt Melissa got to hold him the whole time.

I wanted to get some nice pictures afterward like we did with Caden’s baptism, but Caden was being pretty naughty and wouldn’t be in any. Everyone was so rushed we didn’t get any grandparent or big family pictures either. πŸ™

Shepard was really tired and the day has barely begun!

With the godparents.

Cookie break.

Caden decided to cooperate when the presents came out!

Balls are his favorite!

Uncle Tyler gave him a really cool Bible with his name imprinted on it. Looking back at these pictures I realize Shepard really wasn’t his happy, laughing self. Not a lot of smiles. πŸ™

He’s such a cutie. Gonna be a heartbreaker!

Greg decided to dress himself at Shepard’s twin. Cute!

Second attempt at a family picture. Caden still wasn’t being especially cooperative, but we got some decent ones.

I like this one!

With Aunt/Godmother Melissa.

Happy baptism! It was really nice of everyone who shared the day with us!

Take the Time

You never know how much time you’re going to have on this earth. It’s a truth we all know, but not something we spend a lot of time thinking about. Dwelling on death is depressing and probably not very healthy. But dwelling on life? I think that’s something we could all do a little more of.

I’ve been thinking about loss a lot this week. A few days ago the girl who we used to mentor’s father had a massive heart attack and eventually passed away. The news was shocking. He was way too young and left behind five children who will never be able to make another memory with him.

In January of this year I lost an uncle, also way too young to leave the people who loved him. A friend of mine lost her third baby, more than halfway through the pregnancy. In the last few years I’ve lost my remaining grandparents and half of Greg’s. We are surrounded by loss and death on a daily basis and it hurts. So much.

On Wednesday I was diagnosed with scoliosis. Far from a death sentence, but it still scared me. The combination of that and the passing of our young friend’s dad, as well as all the other loss I’ve experienced in recent years, made me really start reevaluating my own life and what I want to do with it. Especially in these long and often frustrating days at home with my boys.

I came to one major conclusion. I want to start taking the time. I want to start doing all the things I tell myself I’m going to do with my kids and then never do. I want to stop being so busy wasting time on my computer when I could be snuggling on the couch and reading books to them. I want to take the time to look Caden in the eye and listen to him when he talks no matter how many other things are begging for my attention.

Consciously taking the time to do these things is definitely not always easy. Even today, a single day after my big conclusion, I was tired and cranky and didn’t want a whole lot to do with my very crabby and obnoxious behaving children. But that doesn’t mean I should stop trying. No, I can’t escape from my responsibilities every day of the week. But I can start making more of an effort to enjoy my life now. Enjoying my boys before they grow up and leave me to make their own lives. I can take a day every once in awhile to do something fun and different, making memories that will hopefully last a lifetime, no matter how long that may be.

For weeks now Caden has been asking to go to the zoo. I always say no because it’s too far away and a big hassle packing a lunch and finding a full day to do something like that. But yesterday I decided to surprise him with a big yes!

It was a drizzly and extremely humid day, but we quickly packed our picnic and headed to the zoo!

It was fun having a day filled with smiles and laughter rather than complaints and time outs.

I feel like I don’t say this enough – it was a really good day. I love my kids. I love spending time with them. And I want them to always love spending time with me. It is now going to be one of my biggest goals – taking the time to just be with them. Going to the zoo. Reading together. Laughing. Having conversations. I want to dwell on this life I have with them before it is too late.

Let’s Go Fly a Kite

Yesterday we finally had a warmer day and as always, it was windy. It seemed like a perfect day to try out the kite a neighbor gave us a few weeks ago. Surprisingly, it worked really well!

I’m not sure why Caden is hanging on to Shepard. But I thought the picture was kind of funny.

He made him lose a shoe. And then thought if he held it there Shepard would just step right back into it.

Trying to put it back on forcefully.

They gave up.

Back to the kite.

Shepard was really good at it!

Lots of fun father son time. One of these days I might be in some of the pictures. πŸ™‚

Adventures at Great America

On Sunday I had the opportunity to spend the day at Six Flags Great America with Greg and Caden. Greg’s company, CDW, rents out the entire place for the day for its employees. I knew that CDW had a lot of branches with a lot of employees. But I definitely wasn’t expecting the thousands of people that showed up. But the crowd situation was still so much lighter than any day during the regular season, so I can’t complain!

Greg and I aren’t really ride people, but we wanted the chance to spend the day just with Caden. I’m pretty sure that hasn’t happened since Shepard has joined our family. Caden gets lots of one on one time with grandparents and occasionally one of us, but he never gets both of us together all to himself.

This crazy high spinning thingy is the second “ride” we went on. I remember being on it once before and being terrified. It wasn’t quite so scary this time, but still made me queasy. I hate heights.

I’ve got my super tight mommy grip on Caden so he won’t suddenly decide to jump off and break through the glass wall at the top. πŸ™‚

Batman, our family’s favorite super hero.

Caden did really great on all the rides. I wasn’t sure how he’d act since he’s usually kind of a chicken about things. He was much more brave than I expected! By the end of the day he was even pointing out roller coasters he wanted to ride. We told him not until an aunt or uncle can come with us and take him.

We did, however, go on the kiddie roller coaster. That was scary enough for Greg and I!

The only ride we regretted was a scrambler type ride. Usually my favorite kind of ride I was excited to go on it. But without giving it much thought we had Caden sitting between us and I totally squished him. He wasn’t very thrilled with me and didn’t want either of us sitting next to him on the following few rides.

Overall, it was a very special and fun day. I’m so glad we had the chance to make some happy memories. I’m already looking forward to going back next year!

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

Yesterday I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and participated in the Midwest Cream Cheese Competition. I’ve heard about this competition over the past few years and have always been intrigued since cheesecakes are one of my favorite things to make. Last year was our first year back in Wisconsin so I could have easily taken part in it, but I had a new baby and didn’t really feel up to the challenge. But this year I was ready! The choice of recipe was fairly easy since my family members always request this one for get togethers. I’ve probably made this cheesecake recipe more than any other dessert. It’s pretty tasty. 

I thought to make this recipe a little better than usual I’d kick it up a notch with a homemade caramel sauce. Which is the story behind all my recent caramel posts. I decided to go with the Salted Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce which I made ahead of time of Thursday night.

I love the crust in this recipe. Most of the other cheesecakes I make are chocolate based with oreo crusts, so it always surprises me how good this graham cracker one is. You just mix 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/4 cup of melted butter.

Mix until all crumbs are moist from the butter.

Then press into a 9 inch springform pan. I used a glass to make the bottom and sides of the crust flat and even. I really wanted high sides on this cheesecake so the glass trick worked out perfectly. When the crust is ready, bake it in a 350 degree oven for ten minutes.

Next you mix three packages of cream cheese (at room temperature!) with 3/4 cup of sugar. When it looks nice and creamy add 3 eggs (also at room temperature), one at a time, beating after each egg. Then mix in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. The filling should be smooth and fluffy.

Carefully pour into crust.

This next part isn’t very exact. I poured about half of my caramel sauce over the cheesecake and then used a knife to gently swirl it into the filling. This is a lot more caramel than I usually use because I was hoping to really infuse the cheesecake base with a caramel flavor. I don’t think I was very successful, though. Next time I might just mix caramel into the filling completely to get a fuller flavor.

The design turned out so pretty I didn’t want to cover it up!

This part isn’t very exact either. First you mix about 1/2 cup of sugar with 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Then core, peel, and slice between 2 and 4 apples. It’s really up to you how many apples you want. If you’re making a special design you’ll only need a certain amount. But if you want more apple flavor you can push chunks into the cheesecake as well as layering on top. I ended up using about one and a half of the larger apples and half of the smaller apple.

This is one apple’s worth.

Since this was for a competition I really wanted the top to look nice. It took me at least half an hour to get all these slices perfect. Normally I would just toss them on. It’ll taste just as good either way. πŸ™‚

Next, bake your cheesecake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes until the middle is no longer jiggly. Then turn the oven off, open the door, and let the cheesecake rest in the warm oven for an additional hour. Since Shepard was running around and I didn’t want him touching a burning oven I had to barricade him from it. Which if course made it an even bigger attraction.

This is what it looked like straight out of the oven.

I think I liked the design a lot better before it was baked!

I was unsure about when to pour the caramel on top, so I waited until Saturday morning just before we left for the competition. I was kind of disappointed in how the final product turned out in appearance. The caramel looked more like a powdered sugar glaze on top of the darker cheesecake. Maybe it would have been better to just use a rich store bought caramel after all.

So here’s the cheesecake! I was impressed with my efforts, but I didn’t win. πŸ™ I wish I could have gotten some pictures of my competition. There were only 24 cheesecakes entered, but some of them looked absolutely amazing. I didn’t know what to expect this year, but I’ll be a lot more prepared next year. I already have a list of ideas going! At least my family will always love this recipe!

Caramel Apple Cheesecake
  • 1 Β½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tbs sugar
  • Β½ tsp cinnamon
  • ΒΌ cup melted butter
  • 3 packages of cream cheese, room temperature
  • ΒΎ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • Β½ tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
Apple Topping:
  • 2-3 medium sized apples, cored and thinly sliced
  • Β½ cup sugar
  • Β½ tsp cinnamon
Salted Vanilla Caramel Sauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ΒΌ cup water
  • 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 4 tbs butter, cubed
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  1. Begin by making caramel sauce. Heat sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat until sugar is completely dissolved, stirring gently. When the sugar is dissolved, bring the heat to medium. Do not stir after this point! Let sugar mixture boil until a dark amber in color, gently shaking the pan every few minutes. Take off heat and add heavy cream and butter. If caramel solidifies put it back over low heat and stir until creamy. Add vanilla and sea salt.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter. Press into a springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
  3. In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese and sugar. Beat until well blended. Add eggs, beating after each one. Add vanilla. Pour filling into crust. Pour about half of the caramel over the filling and use a knife to gently swirl it into the batter.
  4. Mix cinnamon and sugar. Slice apples and coat in cinnamon sugar mixture. Cover cheesecake with apple slices. Sprinkle on any remaining cinnamon sugar.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes. Turn oven off, open the door, and let cheesecake stay in the oven for one additional hour. Pour remaining caramel over cheesecake and refrigerate.

What I’m Reading

I am a bookaholic. I love to read. I cannot survive without reading. My favorite thing to do on a night out by myself is to browse through bookstores. Reading is a hobby/pastime/interest that I will never, ever give up. No matter how busy I am, how tired I am, or how many other things are on my to do list, I WILL find time to read at least a few chapters of a book every single day. And because of all that I thought it might be fun to start doing some posts on what books I’m currently reading. Because I’m never reading just one book at a time. What fun would that be?

The Bible, TNIV 

I always have my Bible on my nightstand. I can’t say that I’m that great about reading it regularly, though. I go through phases where I’m really excited to look up new verses pertaining to what I’m struggling with and going through every day. And then I go through phases where I’m so exhausted that the thought of actually searching for what I need sounds like way too much work. I picked up this particular Bible a few years ago and I love it, though. It’s the Today’s New International Version (TNIV) and called True Identity. This copy is targeted for women and has tons of excerpts and stories about how certain passages can apply to your life. I highly recommend it!

Be Still and Let Your Nail Polish Dry by Andrea Boeschaar

This is the first in a series of quick devotionals for busy women. I’ve been trying really hard lately to keep up with daily devotional reading. It’s something I used to do all the time before kids and I’d like to get in the habit of it again. Especially on those rare mornings I’m actually awake before my children, it’s a great way to start the day. I’m only a couple weeks into this one and it’s just okay. The last devotional I read, God’s Heart for You by Holley Gerth was fantastic and so easy to connect with, that I find this one a little bit lacking. I guess I just prefer devotionals that are right to the point and scream out something that your heart is desperate to hear on a daily basis. It’s not always that easy to find the importance in this book.

52 Things Kids Need From a Mom by Angela Thomas

I love this book!!! I never even would have known about it except it was on a special 50% off sale at the Family Christian Bookstore a few weeks ago – and they were sold out. The title was listed and I was definitely intrigued with all the struggles I’ve been having with Caden lately. So I looked it up online and ordered it right away. I’m so glad I did! This is probably the best parenting book I have ever read. It is so positive and personal, filled with easy yet perfect ideas to show your children more love and make your home a happier place. I’m about halfway through and ready to read it again immediately. It’s that good.

Prayers and Promises for Mothers 

I think this book has been out for a long, long time, but this is the first I’ve looked at it. Just today, in fact. So I’m only a couple pages in, but can tell it’s going to be very helpful for me. The very first prayer listed was about dealing with anger and not letting it get the best of you no matter how frustrating your kids are behaving. Definitely something I needed to hear today. I’m looking forward to reading more of it.

A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

Even though I’m usually reading a pile of books at once, I almost always stick to just one fictional book. I like reading fiction a lot more, but figure I need nonfiction thrown in to better myself and my relationships. I decided to read the Game of Thrones series because I wanted to know what all the hype was about. It seems that just about everybody I know has either read the books and/or seen the tv show and I wanted to be in the loop. I found the first book kind of boring. It was really hard to get into with so many characters and descriptions and trying to figure out a complex world that I knew nothing about. I’m finding the second book much more interesting, though. Now that I have a basis of characters to go from it’s easier to understand what’s actually going on. It’s definitely not my favorite series (so far, anyway!), but it’s entertaining.