This and That


1.  With the recent horrific events at the Boston marathon, I want to share my perspective. First off, may God Bless America and the victims and their families.  Second, I love people and I am a believer in humanity. Regardless of religion, politics, or anything else controversial, we as humans have our weaknesses and have witnessed acts that are mean and just down right evil. I believe most of society are kind, caring, loving people who will do good and will help those in need. I hope you haven’t lost your faith in humanity. My goal for this next week is to do something to help someone see the good in people. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

2. We love animals and cracked up over this video.

3. Also, on an animal note, we are going to get some chickens and start our own little flock. Caleb and I are super stoked. Maria is still not excited but she is game. Anyone have any suggestions or tips for raising chickens?


4. We went to a Train concert last weekend. It was Caleb’s first concert and he loved it.


1. Boston and everyone affected by the tragedy are in our daily thoughts and prayers. Hug your loved ones extra tight. Wishing the world peace and comfort.


2. My dad is visiting this week which means good food and fun! On Tuesday, we made his famous cinnamon rolls. Ok, my dad did most of the work because I love watching him. He’s got the magic touch. His cinnamon rolls are the BEST. No other cinnamon rolls compare to “Parry Rolls.”


3. Caleb enjoys having Papa around. They love “hanging” out!

4. Reminder to self-make these three smoothies.

5. So I survived my week without sugar. I ate fruit and I know fruit has sugar, but my goal was to stay away from desserts, sweets, processed sugars, etc. I didn’t eat any processed foods either-which means no cereal. I think that was the hardest part, even harder than no cookies. I eat oatmeal for breakfast, but I like a mug of cereal for dessert every night. I put it in a mug for portion control:) I missed my cereal and cookies, but I did it!


6. This happened this week…and cinnamon rolls. So maybe next week needs to be a no sugar week too:) The cookies were Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies, but still. Mini doesn’t matter when you eat a handful! Oops!


7. Ok, I am just going to say it. Downton Abbey, really? I’ve watched three episodes and I am bored out of my mind. I don’t get all of the hype. I am currently ducking because I know you are all throwing tomatoes or knives at me:) I will admit the third episode was a little better, but only a little. Should I keep watching?

8. Obsessed with this candle. I want one for every room in our house.

9. Looking for new recipes to try or have a favorite recipe to share? Check out KitchenAid’s new Recipe Tab on their Facebook page!

10. I am speaking at the SNAP conference tomorrow morning! Do you think I can show up in my pj’s? Probably not. If you are going, make sure you come and say hi!


11. I came home with a basil plant (and several other items) from Trader Joe’s this week. Only $2.99! Score!

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I'm Maria and my husband is Josh. We share a love of cooking, baking, and entertaining. We enjoy creating recipes that are simple, fresh, and family friendly. We love sitting around the table with good food, good conversation, and good friends and family! Our kitchen is always open!
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  1. Congrats on going with no sugar! I have been trying and did pretty good this week and I kind of blew it last night, by eating some blondies, but other than that it has been fruit and veggies!

    Your Dad and Caleb are so cute! Love the photo!

  2. You are not alone I am not a fan of Downton Abbey either. I would rather watch Duck Dynasty or Call The Midwife.

  3. I totally loove that youtube video :). Give DA another chance but only if you love the set and wardrobe you have seen so far, that keeps me watching. I love their formality. For a show in that era it is interesting too to see the way the sects interact. I have watched through all DA that I can get for free with amazon prime but cannot decide if I am willing to pay for more.

  4. So glad I’m not the only one who can’t get into Downton Abbey! And those cinnamon rolls look absolutely delicious!

  5. I can’t wait to read more about the chickens! My husband has been trying to convince me to get a few but I’m still not convinced.

  6. Thanks for the recipes today. Thanks too for your sentiments on the current news of Boston Bombing and well wishes for the victims. They are in my prayers as well. Love the National Anthem at the Boston Bruins game. Did you hear about that?

    Downton Abbey, Yes! extremely boring this season. A disappointment compared the previous seasons.We were warned not to watch,because we would be very frustrated with the ending. Of course we could not make ourselves not watch since we had been with the series from the start. Yep they were right. So just know that and realize it is not real. LOL

    Enjoy THIS day, thanks for brightening my day with your post. Donna

  7. Okay – Yes keep watching Downton Abbey. It will get better promise. My bf even is now addicted.
    And chickens- how fun! I raised them when I was a kid with my mom. Taught me a lot and they were great (stupid) but great pets. My advice is to build a coop tall enough so they can jump up off the ground to roost but have space down the bottom to lay eggs. Also if you are going to have them free range (roam the yard which we did) you will need to check daily any patches of grass or anything where they ‘might’ lay eggs. It was like an Easter Egg hunt every day haha. And also if you do let them roam, leave the coop door open, our chickens always went inside when it started getting dark. And if the door closed by wind, we would find them in a low tree branch hiding! Poor things! And also, they are really sweet for the most part. You can cluck to them and call them and pick them up! Just make sure you don’t have a rooster or you’ll have yourself a handful.
    On another note – I am from Boston and appreciate your thoughts and prayers. Thanks!

  8. Downton Abbey definitely gets better! And I’m super intrigued about you guys possibly raising chickens!!! I grew up visiting grandparents on the farm where chickens and eggs were a’plenty. So much fun! (Although, I’m sure, so much work!)

    Going to TJ’s today and can’t wait to pick up some basil!!

  9. Chickens are fun – but VERY dirty! Whatever you end up using as a coop, cover the floor with a removable mat that you can hose off, and make sure the floor itself can be washed off. Chicken poop everywhere! It’s a good idea to hang/elevate their feeder and waterer because they will poop in them, too. Really, poop everywhere.

    But they’re fun, too. We can pick ours up and they come when called. The eggs are great!

  10. So my hubby and I are TOTALLY into Downton Abbey. My in laws tried to get into it but they had just finished watching The Sapranos , so Downton abbey seemed like a snooze ! They tried watching it again just recently and got hooked ! So I highly suggest to keep watching !!

  11. We are in the process of adding chickens to our family too. Paul is going to build a coop for them, now just trying to figure out what kind of chickens we want. We’ll have to swap tips!

  12. I love you too much to ever throw tomatoes at you for not liking Downton Abbey. ๐Ÿ™‚ But I have to say that you are the first person I have come across who doesn’t like the show! Don’t worry, I still like you!

    How exciting that you are getting chickens! That is one of my dreams, but it can’t happen until we get a much bigger yard so we can keep our dog separated from them! I will live vicariously through you in the meantime. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Have a great time at the SNAP conference! Miss you! xo

  13. Congrats to going without sugar! I try to live a {mostly} sugar free lifestyle. And I mean added sugars – no table sugar, processed foods, etc. – and use fruit, honey and stevia most of the time to sweeten things. I do allow myself a piece of dark chocolate a day because it’s good for you, right?! I also allow myself the occasional treat, but cutting down my sugar intake is one of the best, and most challenging, things I’ve done for myself!

  14. Hahaha. Love that you don’t love Downton. Cracks me up. That’s how I feel about Harry Potter… hunger games… and many other over-hyped series. Nice job on the no extra sugar!!!

  15. I have been craving cinnamon rolls for weeks. I keep looking at recipes and then decide not to make them. Maybe, I will today. Keep watching DA, I was so bored the first few and then it got me and I couldn’t stop watching. Now I am finished and half to wait until January for the one to air in the US. The thing I didn’t like is how they skip so much time between shows. You end a season and the next one is six month later in the show and you are trying to fiqure if you have missed something. My neighbor does chickens and she loves them.

  16. it took me a while to get into Downton because admittedly the first episodes are a bit slow (the pilot especially – I had to watch that sucker 3 times before I really understood what was happening). but I promise the action picks up! (at least, in my opinion)

  17. LOVE Downton Abby – it does get better!!!! I have had a small flock of 6 Black Australorps and I just love them! They are very calm and gentle brids and do not pick on each other like some breeds do. My first hens were Isa Browns and they were very mean to each other. This website was invaluable to me when I started my flock!!

  18. Do you like British period dramas in general? Jane Austen? Charlotte bronte? If not I can see why you wouldn’t like downtown abbey. If you do like British period dramas, well I don’t know what to say, because I love all the afore mentioned and I love downtown abbey!

  19. Chickens sound fun if you have the room, but being married to a city manager…make sure chickens are on the ‘approved’ pet/animal list. You definitely don’t want neighbor complaints.

  20. Having chickens is a lot of fun! We had a flock of them for a few years but unfortunately lost some due to the awful Tucson wildlife (I won’t go into the details). Our chickens were the greatest eaters- they would get any leftover fruit/veggies/leftovers in addition to their organic feed. Ours loved spinach, celery, cantaloupe- really anything we had in the fridge! The eggs were amazing, and we quickly found that we couldn’t possibly eat everything they were providing- Our neighbors loved that part! We had a big galvanized tub for them to play in as a bath, and a shady area for them to free range. They are very messy- so be sure to have a multi-level space for them to eat, lay, and sleep. You can buy special feeders so they can’t walk through their food- but we would just put it in a big trough and let them have a smorgasbord. There is a definite pecking order established- so be prepared for a bit of chicken brutality in the beginning.

  21. Good for you on the sugar thing! Giving up sugar is hard these days. I gave it up for Lent last year and it sure made me more aware of the things that have sugar ‘hidden’ in them.
    The fascination with Downton Abbey, for me anyway, lies in the life of the servants. I never really thought about their life before and all of the ‘rules’ of that society. It does get better!

  22. You HAVE to keep watching Downton Abbey. We started watching it in Season 3 then went back and watched every episode from the beginning. You will be hooked!!

  23. I follow another blogger, Anna wright. Her blog “sweet and sassy notes” is an amazing array of farm animal stories (she raises just about every kind of animal you can think of and lots of chickens and 2 new geese), she is a wonderful artist, photographer and crafter. Check out her blog, and contact her, I am sure she would have some great advice about chickens! Good luck.

  24. Chickens!?!? Cool! My neighbor has chickens and he gives us eggs sometimes. They really do taste better!

  25. Being an oldie but goodie, I thought I would like Downtown Abby. But, it is so boring. The clothes and the mansion remind me of my grandmothers house and going there. Grandma had maids too! – but, I am bored to the gills with Downtown Addy. I guess Grandma was more interesting. I have read Silas Marner, Little Women, and all of Jane Austin. They were more interesting.

    Caleb is a real cutie and I love making my husband see his pictures. We both get a good laugh. I have a Great Grandson that I wished lived close to Caleb. They would be best buddies.

    Keep being healthy and happyl.. Lisa

  26. Ha! I can’t get into Downtown Abby either! Marcus and I tried a couple of times with different episodes and different seasons but no luck. They lost some of their cast recently too so killed off main characters. I found a show on Netflix that I loved, McCloud’s Daughters. Just the first couple of seasons.

    I am laughing about the chickens. I am planning a spot in our yard for them right now. Can’t wait for the eggs and chickens roaming the yard (cool to me for some reason) but dreading the mess.

    Parry rolls! I must say I was drooling. I still think Caleb looks like your Dad. What a great guy. Tell him I said hello.

  27. Make sure Caleb washes his hands good whenever he has petted the chickens, and be sure to be careful about communicable diseases that chickens can sometimes carry. Sorry to sound like a wet blanket, because I know there are a lot of nice things about having your own chickens. I’d just be cautious. Same as if you had turtles or pet fish, which can also carry diseases.

  28. I too did not get the hype over Downton Abbey, I finally started watching it–because everyone kept telling me I needed too–and got really bored. I kept going though, got really in to it and finished two seasons in a couple days. This season, I actually watched it on tv every week, and it was so slow moving that I couldn’t re-get into it for each episode. (as opposed to sitting down and watching the whole season at once, already in the downton world mind set) Also the TJs basil plants: I love how cheap they are, but they never keep growing! Once you cut off the leaves, it will maybe grow a couple new baby leaves but thats it. It never grows big and bushy like my other basil plants do. ๐Ÿ™