Goodbye 2011.

7:36 PM

What a year it has been! And how the year has flown by. 2011 started off with a bang and just kept on going. What faithfulness the Lord has shown us during this time and continues to show us.

January 15, I wed my love and best friend, then we were off to the Big Island, Maui, and Oahu for a 2 week honeymoon. On the 21st, I turned 21! We returned home to the most overwhelming pile of gifts I have ever seen, finished the winter and spring in our little condo, Will returned to school, then came summer, more birthdays, and moving time!

The perfect little two bedroom house smack dab downtown became available, and despite many applicants we got the home. We scrubbed and painted for days, then move-in time came. This house has been the greatest little home. It is totally perfect for us and where we are at right now. The Lord definitely knew just what we needed, I'd say even more so than we did (but doesn't he always?). He provided big time. This new place to call home didn't come without work, but work we were both very capable of doing. And boy was it worth it!. For more on our move, and possibly a good laugh, check out my post HERE.

By early summer we settled into our new home and loved every minute of it. Then came…baby news! On Father's day of this year we learned of our little blessing. We were expecting our first! What a wonderful, challenging time this was. We felt a million emotions during the next 12 weeks, the longest 12 weeks of my life. In August, our hearts broke. We lost our baby, but with the Lord and incredible friends and family to lean on we made it through this challenging time. We learned to trust our God on a whole new level. It was by His grace this baby was brought into our lives and also taken out. We learned, in a way that couldn't be more real, that the Lord gives as he does take away, and to trust him with the thing very dearest to us, our growing baby. We prayed long and hard for this child, we asked the Lord for a miracle, then we waited 6 long weeks. The outcome didn't look good, and 6 weeks after we learned of our little one's poor outcome, we miscarried.  I have never experienced pain as I did on the night and in the following days, but as painful as this lose was, we grew immensely, in our own relationship and in our relationship with the Lord. We drew close and Will and I grew together more than ever. The next few months were hard without a doubt, but we knew the Lord was on our side.

Before we knew it, summer passed, and then fall. Suddenly Thanksgiving was staring us right in the face. By fall, Will's school semester was well underway. Things were well. We even managed to sneak away for a few days. We headed straight to Oregon for a grand feast with lots of family to celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday, as well as to share some very special news. Once again, we were expecting.
This time with a thriving baby. The start of my pregnancy wasn't a piece of cake, but we are doing wonderful now. Our little baby had a twin, which has now joined our first and is with the Lord. One day we will get to meet these little munchkins, and I cannot wait. One day we will also share with our little one on the way, the story of his/her two siblings who came ahead of them.

Now, rugby has begun again for Mr. Cooper, school has come to an end (at least for a couple more weeks), and Christmas flew by. Today we celebrate the beginning of the New Year almost as we did last year around this time, on Oahu, surrounded by family. In a couple weeks our anniversary will follow. I cannot believe it. 1 year already. Where has time gone? I also couldn't be more thankful for my husband, who has been by my side every minute, every second of every day. Year 2011, has had many ups and downs no doubt, but I don't feel as my husband and I's relationship could be any more solid. We know it has to be of the Lord.

We have witnessed and felt loss, watched both of our parent's 25 year plus marriages fall apart, felt heartache, joy, excitement, love, and so much more this year. We have had much to gain, raw, down-to-earth life experience, and much healing. I wouldn't change a second of this year for anything, but with that said, we also gladly welcome in 2012.

And that we will do his evening! We will be with friends and family here on Oahu! We've spent the afternoon making lots of food. Soon we will sit around the campfire, watch the sun go down, visit, eat, laugh, and play. As midnight approaches, we will head to the rooftop, where we will lie and watch a spectacular firework show. Tomorrow we board a plane, and fly back home. Until then, we enjoy our last few moments of 2011 and reflect back.

I am so excited to see what is in store for year 2012.

Happy New Years friends! May you be blessed in this year ahead of us.

The Cooper Clan.


Merry Christmas!

1:56 PM

Just a quick Merry Christmas to you and yours, but most importantly, Happy birthday Jesus! Thank you for entering the world in human form and walking with us so that we might know you, know God. We love you.

May your day be merry and bright, surrounded with family and loved ones remembering the birth of our Savior today.

Lots of love from the Cooper's.


Holiday Recipe Countdown: Whole Wheat Chocolate Brown Sugar Cookies

9:52 AM

Don't turn you nose up just yet! Chocolate sugar cookies? That's right, really, does it get better? And after all those fluffy, white, floury treats I know you've been indulging on or plan to indulge on in just a couple short days, a little whole wheat flour will be a welcomed change in your diet. :)

I know these are cut out in hearts, but do your own thing. Cut out reindeer, stockings, Santas…whatever you have up your sleeve. Or tuck this recipe away until Valentine's Day and bring it out then. 

Whatever you do, just don't forget to enjoy. Bring on the holiday cheer.

Without further ado, Whole Wheat Chocolate Brown Sugar Cookies from Joy The Baker.

(Photo courtesy of Joy The Baker)

Come tomorrow, we will take a short break on our Recipe Countdown. Perhaps it'll give you some time to catch up on all these delicious goodies.

Until then,


Holiday Recipe Countdown: Persimmon Cookies

4:48 PM

Are you on recipe overload yet? I'm beginning to feel that way. ;)

Up today are these lovely Persimmon Cookies. I have 2 big, ripe, and juicy persimmons waiting for me to use them up. I will spend the evening doing just that.

I think most people use persimmons to bake with (well those who use persimmons to begin with), however this is my first persimmon baking experience. I like to put them in the fridge and slice them up. I really like them plain as long as they are super chilled.

Just click the link above for the recipe.

Up tomorrow: Whole Wheat Chocolate Brown Sugar Sugar Cookies


Holiday Recipe Countdown: Chocolate Truffles

10:51 AM

As simple as 1,2,3. This easy truffle recipe is great as is, but has endless possibilities. 

Chocolate Truffles
Serves: 30+


1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla


In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until well blended. Stir in melted chocolate and vanilla until no streaks remain. Refrigerate for about 1 hour. Shape into 1 inch balls. A melon baller works great for shaping and for making equally sized truffles.

If desired, roll truffles in unsweetened cocoa powder, place in mini cup-cake liners when finished.

Other toppings and ideas include: ground nuts, coconut, sprinkles, drizzle with white chocolate or dip truffle in milk chocolate for a firm shell, flavor chocolates with liquors and other flavors, omitting the vanilla. 

You go from here and have fun with it!

We kept ours simple, opting to coat them in unsweetened cocoa powder. They were fabulous.

Up tomorrow: Persimmon cookies


Holiday Recipe Countdown: Eggnog Baked French Toast {Perfect for Christmas morning}

10:53 AM

Hopefully, at least a few of you have been enjoying these posts. Up today, Eggnog Baked French Toast, a knockoff from the Pioneer Women's original Cinnamon Baked French Toast. What I love most about this recipe is that almost all of it can be done the night before, in fact, it's better that way. Come Christmas morning, your guests and family will think you've been up preparing for hours when really all you had to do was dump on the topping, and pop this dish in the oven. Wa-la, tasty french toast! 

Eggnog Baked French Toast: Serves 16 small servings


1 loaf French Bread or a combination of breads if you have leftovers
6 large eggs
2 1/2 cups eggnog
3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
Maple syrup-for serving
Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Tear French bread into chunks, or cut into cubes, and evenly place in the pan.
 In a large bowl, mix together eggs, eggnog, sugar, vanilla extract, and nutmeg. Pour evenly over bread. Cover pan with saran wrap and store in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
 In a separate bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add butter pieces and cut into the dry mixture using a fork or your hands. Combine until the mixture resembles sand with a few pea sized chunks. Cover and store mixture in the refrigerator.
Come Christmas morning, or when you are ready to bake the French toast, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove French toast from refrigerator and sprinkle crumb mixture over the top. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the French toast is set and golden brown.
Serve warm with maple syrup.
A merry Christmas morning to you!
Come back tomorrow for Easy Decadent Truffles!


Holiday Recipe Countdown: Ginger Molasses Skillet Cake

11:04 AM

Ginger Molasses Skillet Cake: serves 8+
2 2/3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp table salt
4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed
6 oz butter
1 1/3 cups molasses
1 1/3 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 lb. butter, cut into 8 slices
dark brown sugar

Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside. Place the brown sugar, 6 oz butter, and molasses in a saucepan and heat until the butter is melted. Stir the sugar and butter mixture into the dry ingredient mix and add the milk and vanilla.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray eight 61⁄2-inch skillets with cooking spray or two medium/large cast iron pans. Place a pat of butter, a teaspoon of brown sugar, and a teaspoon of molasses in each skillet. Place the skillets on baking sheets and heat in the oven until the butter is melted. Remove the skillets from the oven and fill with the batter. Bake the skillets on the baking sheets for approximately 20 minutes.

Serve warm with a big scoop of rich French Vanilla Ice Cream.

Pairing Suggestions: Vanilla-bean infused Cognac, Tawny Port, or coffee. At Christmas, eggnog is the perfect indulgence!!

Enjoy thoroughly 

It's not beautiful, but trust me, a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and a little powder sugar dusting goes a long way.

Up tomorrow: Baked Eggnog French Toast (A twist on The Pioneer Women's cinnamon baked french toast, perfect for Christmas morning).


Holiday Recipe Countdown: Rich Vanilla Pudding

8:28 PM

Well, today marked the day of Rugby season in the Cooper household. We (my father-in-law and I), spent the whole day at the rugby field for a little pre-season warm-up with my husband. It was good to see him back on the field, as well as still in one piece two games later. He walked away with just one nasty hit. Did you know heads bounced? I think my heart stopped for a moment, but here we are hours later, and no sign of concussion. Whew.  We will spend many Saturdays the next few months at the field. It's time for me to bring on the layers! I have spent most of the evening since then, thawing out and tending to this nasty cold of mine, while the boys enjoy a movie out. Being sick while pregnant is really the pits.

Anyhow, whether you are cooped up (no pun intended) inside or out and about getting holiday shopping done, take a quick break for this one. One round of making this and you'll never go back to instant pudding mix again (or at least you will never want to). Your house will be smelling like holiday in no time! It's simple, it's easy, it's delicious.

Rich French Vanilla Pudding: Serves 4
3 egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
2 tbsp corn starch
pinch salt
2 tbsp 
unsalted butter (no substitutes)
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

Whisk egg yolks with 1/4-cup of the milk to help them strain through a fine-mesh strainer to get any bits of egg white protein.

Mix this strained egg mixture into the remaining milk in a sauce pan.

Add the sugar, cornstarch and salt.

Cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat until it comes to a simmer.

Whisk in the butter, vanilla and food colour just until the butter is completely incorporated.

Immediately pour into four dessert cups or one medium sized bowl if you are going the super casual/I am going to eat this whole bowl myself route.

Cover with plastic wrap so that it’s touching the surface of the pudding.

Cool in a refrigerator until well chilled. (I don't know about you, but luke warm pudding just isn't my thing).

Are you convinced yet?

No photos to go with this post, but I trust that you can picture what vanilla pudding looks like. If only you could smell it, you'd be in the kitchen in a jiffy! ;)

Tune back in tomorrow for a recipe on molasses skillet cakes! If that isn't "holiday" I don't know what is. Picture a giant chewy gingerbread cookie, in cake form.

Until then,


Holiday Recipe Countdown: Crisp Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies

2:32 PM

I've been away awhile, well, not away, just busy, but today officially marks day 1 of a 2 week vacation! Woohoo! No more excuses! One week will be spent home, the other, Christmas in Hawaii. What a new holiday experience it will be this year! I've got to get my baking in now. I don't imagine I will be doing it there. ;)

Join me as we countdown the days until Christmas with delicious holiday sweet treats. Well...almost to Christmas. We will spend most of the 23rd in the airport and on an airplane, so forgive me if I don't get a post up on that day.

And now to start this countdown off... Crisp Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies! As much as I would love to take credit for the invention of these mouth-watering cookies, I cannot. I found the recipe over at Smitten Kitten. I can't get enough of these cookies! Seriously, they melt in your mouth. If you are not a white chocolate fan, don't let these turn you away. I am a dark chocolate kind of girl myself, but these clearly are the exception. 

Sneak any that don't end up in your mouth in your cookie jar, or better yet, pack them up and send them to friends and family. They will love you for it.

Up tomorrow: French Vanilla Pudding


It's all about family.

11:22 AM

Well, we are back. We had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday in Oregon. We were blessed big time by family. Though it was a quick trip, it was a busy one. We celebrated Thanksgiving, a birthday, went wine tasting (who would have known, in Oregon?), watched a few football games, enjoyed a couple nice dinners out, and even managed to come home with 4 brand new tires, wipers, air filter, break pads and a spic and span car, fully serviced! Thanks Uncle! What a blessing that was! I don't know about you, but car "stuff" seems to fall just about dead last around here. It's expensive, and well if it runs, and gets you to and from it's all right, right? I know, not the best outlook, but that's kind how it goes. Anyhow, we had an absolutely lovely Thanksgiving holiday. I hope you did too. Nothing beats being around family.

Here are a few snapshots from our trip. These fine photos are complimentary of my cell phone. ;) Perhaps one day I'll take photos with a real camera.

(A little wine tasting)

(Sister, sister)

(Winter is arriving)

(What to do when you're not tasting? Hubs and I cozied up by the fire and enjoyed games at one of the chalk board tables at an Oregon winery. Talk about great idea! And family friendly too.)

(One of the best places to be, Grandma and Grandpa's)

(Oregon sky, we'll see you soon)

Until next time.


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