Well the end of 2013 rocked the Maners household! I spent more time working than I care to admit (both NCSU & freelance) and then add in Christmas production at church (I was the lighting designer you can check out the full thing online at http://yourfavoritechristmas.com), traveling to my parents’ for Christmas, then to Florida for a wedding, and stopping in Savannah to see the e’Silvas; needless to say we spent very little time at home. Ryker has been an extreme trooper through it all, including the 1200+ miles in a car seat!
As with any infant, we had to take lots of photos over the holidays including some adorable ones of Ryker in front of Mimi Maners’ Christmas tree. Thanks to my buddy Brian C. for letting me borrow a remote flash and shoot through umbrella setup. You can see them all at http://photos.themanersfamily.com/Ryker/Christmas-2013. The photos came out way better than I could have imagined so I hope you enjoy!
Believe it or not, today marks 4 years of marriage for LaBranda and I. We’ve shared a lot of excitement as well as a lot of challenges over these few short years. Thanks to all of our friends and family who support, encourage, and share this crazy thing called life with us. We are forever grateful to God for seeing fit to bring us together and we can’t wait to see what He has in store for us!
Of course his smiles elicit big smiles from Mommy and Daddy.
That’s right folks – in just a few short weeks, there will be a new addition to this Maners Family! On (or about) May 23rd we plan to welcome Ryker Lee Maners into our family. LaBranda and I are VERY excited and can’t wait to share a lot of our new adventures with our little boy. While the blog hasn’t seen much life since this time last year, we plan to rekindle things with photos and more!
We had Easter at our house this year, which was really fun! I always enjoy spending Easter here in Raleigh because we’re able to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior with our local family of faith with whom we worship with the rest of the year. I even did something I haven’t done in quite a few years-sunrise service! Okay, so…maybe it was more like a little past sunrise because I was running late, but I did see the sunrise on my way there ;-).We were blessed to have my parents and this newlywed couple join us for Easter dinner-I love how they have become not only close friends, but family over the past couple of years.
Speaking of Easter dinner, lets get to some food photos!
Our main meal consisted of:
- deviled eggs (with bacon)
- pimento cheese pinwheels
- broccoli & cheese casserole
- sweet potato casserole
- couscous salad
Unwilling to spend $60-$80 on a ham from Honey Baked Ham, I tried my hand at a copycat recipe and it turned out wonderful! If I had it to do over again I would have added more sugar mixture to create a thicker crunchy crust, but the flavors were spot on. I mean hello, how can it not be good, there was a blow torch involved! Then there were THE DESSERTS! Now when I say desserts, I don’t mean any kind of desserts. I’m talking about the oh so good, slap your momma, you really should work out for the next week kind of desserts.
Jason and I created the lemon dessert (pictured on the right) that started out as a Paula Deen White Chocolate Lemon Trifle but ended up being a single-serving, delicious goodness, using lemon cookies instead of pound cake and some other creative substituions. Thanks for the inspiration Paula Deen (this is where the whole “you really should work out for the next week” part comes in).
Lastly, we had a flourless chocolate cake. The idea for this cake came when I asked my friends at Savory Spice Shop if they could get in raw cacao nips, boy did they ever deliver. I had little idea what I wanted to do with the nips, other that just snack on them, but I figured I better use them in some kind of recipe. I started racking my brains of what I could make, and thought back to my time at Johnson and Wales. I had made a few flourless chocolate cakes while in school, but somehow most of my recipes that I worked on are MIA. After searching high and low in the black hole known as our garage, I went to work trying to create one from what I remembered, while adding some new touches. I’ll be posting the recipe shortly after this post!
This morning I was reading a post on friend’s blog about being Blessed beyond Measure and was truly encouraged by recalling some of the ways the Lord has chosen to bless me. I think about how the Lord continually provides for my family, how He surounds me with brothers and sisters in Christ, how He protects me…fights for me when Satan tries to discourage, how He encourages and teaches me by using those I think I should be teaching, and in many other ways that would take an entire post to list. That being said, one of the first ways that came to my mind is how He is allowing me to be a part of the steering committee for an AMAZING event that my church hosts every other year (click here for more information)!
In the Summer of last year, I was approached about heading up the food committee for this event and after some prayer Jason and I decided that it would be a great thing for me to do. I never would have guessed all the Lord would do to bless me by making that decision. I have been able to build relationships with a group of godly ladies that I might not have had the opportunity to do so otherwise. Every month we have our monthly planning meeting, which is always such a sweet time of community and fellowship. This month I hosted our last meeting at my house and of course, me being me, had to throw some yummy food into the mix. After the Lord laid on my heart what He wanted me to share during our devotion time I had to rethink a few of my menu choices that would have taken a little too much time/stress to do well. Thankfully the Lord allowed me to find easy things to prepare and serve that weren’t too far out there or expensive, as I will often make things myself since they’re generally more cost effective that way. Here is what we had on the menu…
- Sweet and tangy meatballs
- Praline cashews (A Southern Season)
- Baked brie with crackers
- Fresh fruit
- Raspberry Tart (Trader Joe’s)
- Sweet tea
- Orange cucumber water
- Decaf coffee
I was very pleased with how things turned out, minus the slightly burnt brie (that’s what happens when you get caught up talking) and I know that God used our time during the meeting to get a lot accomplished. A few of the ladies asked for the recipes of my meatballs and brie so I figured I could just add them to the blog.