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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chips

(don't forget- you can still enter the giveaway through this Saturday)

It's Show Us Your Life on Kelly's Korner and this week's topic is favorite sweet recipes...

There is nothing quite like the scent of sweet banana bread baking in the oven. And I love making a big batch so we have enough of this deliciousness to snack on for days. Whether it's a warm breakfast to go, an afternoon snack, or served as dessert with a side of vanilla ice cream this banana bread recipe is one of my favorites. Oh, and the fact that it's healthier than typical dessert breads just makes me feel even better about that second slice. I hope you and your family enjoy this recipe.  

Homemade Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate Chips
1 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour (I usually do part whole wheat flour, part regular flour)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk (I use vanilla milk generally, such as Silk's Pure Almond milk)
4 tablespoons butter, melted 
3 bananas (I puree them in a food processor before adding them to the other ingredients, but smashing them in a bowl with forks also works)
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1/3 and 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 egg, beaten

For the bananas I recommend zapping them for a minute or two in a food processor. If you don't have a food processor on hand a blender or bullet blender will substitute just fine, and if neither of those are an option a food old fashioned banana smashing fest with forks works just fine as well. 
Combine the dry ingredients in one mixing bowl, and the wet ingredients in a separate mixing bowl. Stir the ingredients in their respective bowls throughly before combing them all together and stirring. 
Bake at 350 degrees for around half an hour or until top is slightly golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool or just dive right in if you're like me and can't resist.

Every time I bake this dessert it just smells (and tastes!) like home should. Maybe someday (long in the future) when I've got grown kids they'll come home to this smell and say it smells like home- ha! Now that's a thought!  

What are your favorite desserts?

Monday, May 23, 2011

One Year Ago Today...Our Wedding

One year ago today was our traditional Durham wedding with a Duke Chapel wedding ceremony followed by a Greystone Inn wedding reception. Here are a few photos from our wonderful photographers, Walters & Walters (they're the best...I tell all my engaged friends about them!). 

As soon as I laid eyes on the Greystone Inn in Durham I knew it was where I wanted to have my wedding reception. It was the perfect southern old estate wedding reception I had always imagined. And all of our vendors did a wonderful job transforming it into a classy evening reception venue. I'm very grateful for all their hard work. I'm truly privileged that I now I get to work with many of these talented wedding professionals. 

I get LOTS of questions about the Jackie Kennedy style bridesmaids dresses I selected so I'll tell you: they were from David's Bridal and were unfortunately limited edition so David's Bridal doesn't carry that style anymore. However, they've still got lots of elegant and stylish bridesmaids dresses to choose from so fret not it you had your heart set on these (seriously, I get so many e-mails asking me where these dresses are from! It makes me feel great to know I actually selected good bridesmaids dresses seeing that the old adage is that bridesmaids dresses are never pretty.)

This was my favorite wedding memory moment, our first dance as Mr. & Mrs. to Michael Buble's "Hold On". 

From walking down that epic aisle at our Duke Chapel wedding ceremony to munching on the amazing local eats prepared by Green Planet Catering our wedding day was all that I had hoped for from start to finish. Looking back I'm so grateful for that amazing day, but even more grateful for what an amazing life with Mike I have today. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

When The Kitchen Becomes a Putting Green

Or perhaps I should entitled this post "learning to live with a man". 

To my surprise the other day I turned on the sink disposal to hear a horrible, terrible grinding noise that seem to shake the whole sink. Obviously, there was something down that drain, and this wasn't a mere fork or spoon gone astray. 

After positioning my lighting just so and digging around with a couple of spoons (I wasn't about to put my hand down there!), out popped a golf ball. I suppose the sink's drain is the perfect size to be an indoor putting hole, isn't it?

To my husband's credit the golf ball found its way into the drain on its own. I guess this calls for a "no golf balls lain on any surface anywhere near the kitchen sink" mandate in our home. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Of Daisy Chains and White Sun Dresses

We have a little tradition at MereCo we like to call "Class Day". Okay, so this is a BIG tradition. In fact, it's often considered one of the most important traditions a Meredith girl will experience during her four years in that safe little gated wonderland. Here are a few favorite snapshots and moments from my senior Class Day. 

Class Day is for seniors and their Lil Sis class (the sophomores) to celebrate their sisterly bond the day before graduation. 

The sophomores rise at 4 AM to gather daisy and ivy to begin making the largest daisy chains you'll ever see. 

That's my Lil Sis, with the curly hair, helping to carry the daisy chain into the amphitheatre. 

The seniors proceed in, each wearing a black glove on their left hand to represent their oddness (a tradition for odd year graduating classes only). 

After much talk and many a speech and serenade the seniors proceed onto the green and form a giant circle, holding hands. 

The Lil Sis class picks the daisy chain back up and carries it down to stand amidst the circle of seniors. 

The sophomores walk the daisy chain around inside the circle twice before placing it down in the center to spell out the Roman numerals that represent the seniors graduation year. 

After the sophomores exit the circle, daisy chain still in the middle, the seniors raise hands counting up to their graduation year, and then race into the circle to take all the flowers off the chain. It's a bit of a madness with girlie squeals and daisies flying everywhere. But it's all in the name of the traditions that bond us together. 

My Lil, Lizzy. 

My Lil, Meaghan. 

"But we know now that no matter how far we traveled on our own separate paths, somehow we would always find our way back to each other, and with that, we could get through anything." 
(Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants)

My best friend at MereCo, Kim. We're like peanut butter and jelly, or chocolate and peanut butter depending on where your tastes reside. 

Looking back now I feel like our lives have changed because they had to, and that the real magic of the onyx was in bearing witness to all of this and in somehow holding us together when it felt like nothing would ever be the same again. 
(Adapted from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants)

 What traditions do you treasure? 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Favorite Vacation Spots

This week on Show Us Your Life, Kelly asked us about our favorite vacation spots. This is an easy one for me, because Bald Head Island is a vacation spot near and dear to my heart. It's where my hubby and I spent most of our honeymoon, and we've returned for a "mini-moon" since. It's an island off the coast of North Carolina that's unlike any other...let me give you a tour of a some of the highlights...

Bald Head Island ("BHI" for short) is a quiet island. Literally. There are no cars allowed on the island. Guests ride a ferry to the island, and use only golf carts or good old fashioned strolls hand in hand to travel the island. 

Where might you go on your golf cart you may ask? Why not try my favorite beach, East Beach, which is usually empty. Oh a private beach- such serenity!

East Beach is perfect for long beach walks. 

But I suppose beach walks sometimes get a romantic girly activity wrap. So the men can go surfing while we ladies sit on the beach and bask in an array of magazines (I'm not exactly a water sport chick, how'd ya guess?)

The marina is a great place to explore. Plus it has a fun eatery, Ebb & Flo's Steambar which has a very cute Cap Cod vibe. My hubby and I went there last time we were on the island and he couldn't miss the Duke game. Ah, men...they love their sports. 

The houses at the marina have quirky details, such as this paddle inspired fence. I guess a white paddle inspired picket fence makes for the American boaters dream?

BHI is even a favorite in the winter.

After all, those NC beaches never do get too cold. 

The chapel is a fun stop too, tiny and quaint. 

One of my favorite parts about BHI are the beautiful houses (no high rises here!).  And their gorgeous porches make for the perfect late vacation breakfast spot. My hubby and I like to make French toast and fruit salad on vacation mornings. We feel very blessed that a very generous family we know allows us to use their beach house. It's very neat- they just let people they know use it. What a way to be gracious and hospitable. If I ever have a vacation home I think I'd very much like to share it like that. 

Where are your favorite vacation spots?