food friday...bacon and BLT dip

bacon, Petit Jean, oven cooked bacon
 As a southern girl I know my way around cooking with bacon. It is a deeply loved food in our home and one of those things that sends the kids running to the kitchen by the smell alone. We love a BLT, bacon on our salads, bacon with our eggs and added to some of our favorite recipes. All that bacon can make for a little mess so I was thrilled to learn that you can cook bacon in the oven, a discovery I only made a few years ago and have been since working to perfect. I have decided that this is my favorite method...

Oven Cooked Bacon:
Line a sheet pan with foil for easier clean up
Place the bacon on the sheet where it is close, but not necessarily overlapping (pieces will stick together a bit)
Put bacon in a cold oven and shut the door
Turn the oven on 400 and set a timer for approx 20 minutes (20ish minutes works well for thicker bacon...I am working with Petit Jean bacon)
When bacon is done lay it out on paper towels to remove excess fat.
Best bacon ever!

BLT Dip, bacon, Petit Jean
 Since you have some great bacon you might as well have a little fun and make some dip. I am loving this BLT dip that my parents make. It goes over great at a party or a little weekend at the lake.
BLT Dip, bacon, Petit Jean
BLT Dip:
1 cup nice mayo
1 Tbs dijon mustard
little cayenne pepper
10 slices of bacon chopped
3 green onions chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley chopped
1 can rotel drained
3 medium sized tomatoes chopped
little salt and pepper
stir all ingredients and chill for a couple of hours before serving
It is debated in our house if this should be served with tortilla chips or kettle potato chips.
Try it out and let me know your vote.

carnival victory cruise...Instagram Travel Thursday

Way back in December our family set off on an adventure to Puerto Rico. We had a gorgeous flight over pink skies and open seas that we would soon be sailing. Once in San Juan, which is a gorgeous city and on my list of places to return, we spent one night and then boarded the Carnival Victory for a cruise of the Virgin Islands.

My favorite part about this cruise was the itinerary. It was a seven day sailing with five unbelievable beautiful stops in St Thomas, St Maarten, Barbados, St Kitts and St Lucia. We woke every morning to spectacular views and had the opportunity to explore all the islands and still return "home" to the boat and it's wonderful staff in the evenings.

The one fun day at sea was New Years day and a great day to catch up on sleep and lay in the sun after a late night of New Years Eve partying.

I am a girl who loves the water and even more when it comes in every shade of bright blue so I never tired of these views. 

Most nights we took in the sunset from a balcony with a fruit drink in hand.

And maybe the best part of all was that at the end of the cruise we still had a day to explore San Juan. I can't say enough how amazing Old Town San Juan is. It is filled with gorgeous homes and doors and the whole old town is surrounded by a wall and fort. The fort was possibly my kids favorite part of our trip. It sits on a cliff and for a small fee you can walk all through and explore the grounds. Amazing.

Today I am linking up with #IGtravelthursday and hoping that this will encourage me to blog about our travels. We are a family who loves to travel and I often let it get away from me without sharing our trips here. Traveling with our kids is a priority for our family and though it is not always pretty, and sometimes includes big bags of cheetos or too much time on an iPad to get where we are going, it is precious time and we are making memories beyond compare.
Happy Thursday

twins...wordless wednesday (central arkansas newborn photographer)

 No words needed because of this cuteness.


Almost 15 years ago I had the pleasure of taking a trip with Peter to Chicago. His family was getting together for Thanksgiving and my parents were living in the UK and so I went along as his girlfriend. We had been dating about 6 months and I was a 19 year old college freshman. I had met all of Peter's family, but this would be the first time I would have the chance to be with all of them together. Funny when I think of how big of a group they seemed then, with Cole being the only baby at the time we have now more than doubled in size. I knew they were a lovely group of people, but strong personalities and a closeness that was beyond compare left me crazy intimidated.

I have vivid memories of falling in love with Cole over a game of peek a boo in the backseat of the car while Alison and Anna ran in the store for a turkey, of feeling so warmly invited by Robert and Taido into what i would later call the spouses club, of Anna doing crazy things in the kitchen..the food was a spectacle the like of which i had never seen and involved a hand cranked apple/potato peeler and more potatoes than I had ever seen, of taking family photos that I was never sure if I should be in, games of Scattergorries, looking through Anna and Robert's first home that they had just bought and going to sleep at night in the house that they now own (funny story), Alison being so warm and having no memories of an awkward experience we had had years earlier as she was my small group leader, painting pottery, eating clam dip, being struck by the way Julie and Craig had lead this family and experiencing a family that prayed together and for each other and was deeply connected to the calling on their lives. I really fell in love with Peter on this trip as I watched him with these people and imagined our lives together as a part of this big family.

The following year we were married and since then I have had the pleasure of becoming a part of this family. We have shared many memories and many Thanksgivings. There is not one time that we are all together that I don't think about that first Thanksgiving. Before the Chino's left for Scotland we had a week together. We are still a big group, much bigger, and filled with strong personalities, 17 of them, and that isn't always pretty or perfect, but it is filled with such incredible love. I am deeply grateful for these people, my people, and the memory of this week we shared. It might be a while before we are all together again, so I am taking note and keeping the memories tucked away just like I did 15 years ago. It was another week of great food, coffee on the porch, kids everywhere, diamond mining, lake swimming, tears and laughter, booty dances, games of animals, ice cream, pictures in the 100 degree heat, and on and on. Until we are all together again I will hold tight to these sweet times.

food friday...blackberry mojitos

blackberry mojitos, mojitos, cocktail recipes
I guess it depends on how you qualify food, but since this cocktail is made with one of my favorite foods I'm counting it. In May I was in Vegas and had a blackberry mojito that I was determined to try and recreate and this week I think I got pretty close. This is a great summertime drink and a super fun addition to a party.

Blackberry Mojito:
this recipe makes one pitcher (approximately 8 drinks in regular sized mason jars)

1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 cup blackberries
1 cup mint leaves
1 cup simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water heated until dissolved, then cooled)

2 cups rum (i use coconut rum)
2 cups soda water

crushed ice
limes, mint and blackberries for garnish

Mix top 4 ingredients in a blender until blackberries and mint are finely chopped and juiced (or you can muddle these ingredients if that method is preferred). Add rum and soda water and serve over a full glass of crushed ice. Top with garnishes for a great looking and even better tasting cocktail.

blackberry mojitos, mojitos, cocktail recipes

Chinos to Scotland

My heart hurts as I load these photos and face the truth of the Chino Family moving to Scotland. Monday they set out on an amazing adventure and for that I am thrilled. Excited to hear of the new life they will make in Aberdeen, the people they will meet, the accents they might pick up and the people there that will be beyond blessed to have these precious people in their lives. My people. And because they are my people I am hurting. Longing for a time when we will have the chance to be together again, breaking bread, laughing, even simply sitting across a room or down the pew from my people.

With the Chino family across an ocean our photo shoots will be minimized so we decided to do a moving to Scotland inspired shoot before the big move. We ran with the theme of moving with bags and shot at a local train station. For the clothes we wanted to go classic and keep the color minimal. I love the way the clothes look and really tell a story in an understated way.

Seriously they are adorable.

 I miss these people like crazy already, but will find comfort in knowing that they are on an amazing adventure.
Can't wait to follow along on

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