A Bountiful Thanksgiving



 We hope that everyone has had the most splendid Thanksgiving with their families! We certainly enjoyed the down time after a couple days of traveling and fighting off wretched coughs that we caught before our Iowa trip. I’m guessing this is where the “In sickness and in health” portion of our vows is truly put to the test. I’m happy to report we are taking care of each other very well and the only being in the household that is scared by all the coughing is Diesel. The night before was a whirlwind of baking and cooking dishes to bring to the feast.


Amidst baking for the feast, I also was trying out a new dinner recipe via my Skinnytaste cookbook called Buttermilk Oven Baked “Fried” Chicken (The recipe to follow next posting). I cannot wait to share this one because it was absolutely fantastic and got the Mr. sticking two thumbs up. During the process, I was able to make a special recipe in the Downin family called Cherry Delight or Cherries Jubilee as the Mr. calls it.


This was my first attempt at the recipe and it was wonderfully straightforward. I received the recipe from my sister in law, Heidi, which originated from my mother in law’s mother! There’s nothing quite as exciting as making something you know has been made over generations. Yes, it’s just a dessert recipe but I’m nostalgic to my core and I considered it an honor to receive and make for my family this Thanksgiving. After the Jubilee was underway, I started to concoct the mixin’s’ & fixin’s for my Apple Pie.


However, this pie was not any old ordinary pie that I had made previously. Thanks to one of my darling bridesmaids, Charisa, I was able to use the pastry cutter she bought me and make the top of the pie appealing to the eye. I was incredibly pleased with both the pastry cutter and the end result of using it. I will most likely do a product review of this little go to gadget sometime in the future so keep your eyes peeled for the post! In addition to the pie and jubilee, I also made a corn bread casserole which is my absolute favorite side to anything.


Thanksgiving was held at my (The Mrs.) parent’s house and we most certainly wanted to look our best for our family photos there. Diesel made sure to compliment our outfits with one of his own selections of bow tie. He was the talk of the party wearing his Duke & Daisy khaki bow tie collar from Etsy. The only thing that looked better than him was the turkey that my mom had prepared everyone.


I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful the scent coming off this bird was! I have been blessed to eat the turkey from this woman for 23 glorious years and 2014 did not disappoint. Mom was in charge of the turkey, stuffing (filled with cranberries, apricots, apples, and sausage), green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, jello mold, gravy, and pumpkin pie! One day I will be the one preparing crazy large meals for a growing family and I feel less intimidated by the thought knowing I have watched my mother meticulously during the holidays throughout the years.


With the table set it was then time the guests arrived. I was honored to meet three new friends that were acquainted with my father during his time working for the Air Force. One of the guests was a retired teacher by the name of Bob who taught middle school grades for 39 years!  Needless to say, I gleaned some very valuable information with him and by the end of the day we had swapped numbers to stay in contact in case I needed guidance along my journey to becoming a full time educator. There could have not been any lovelier company (besides the Weirichs) or any lovelier weather to boot! Thankfully my tripod that I ordered for the exact purpose of taking some family photos of  the Mr., Diesy, and I came in the day before! We decided to snap some photos in my parents backyard.

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Nothing felt more perfect than sitting together watching the ripples on the lake after eating and socializing the day away. I’m hoping everyone found that time to reflect or “count your blessings instead of sheep” as Mr. Bing Crosby would say/sing. We are very thankful for you all and that you hold a special place in our hearts.  Happy Thanksgiving.

The Mr., The Mrs., & Diesel



The Iowa Reception



Over the weekend of November 22nd, the Mr. and I were so blessed to be flown up to our beloved Ankeny, Iowa where our family had planned a second wedding reception hosted at the newly built Downin residence. If you knew my mother in law before she moved back tot he Midwest, then you know how she has enough creative genius in one pinky finger than most people possess in their entire being! Needless to say, the new Downin HQ was exquisite and breathtakingly designed. It was very hard to leave when the time came to do so.


It was the absolute perfect place to have a second reception. The big open center room as you walk in through the door welcomes you with a stellar view of the forest behind the house, warm lighting, piano room, and stair access.

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Down the stairs at the entrance of the house you can find another living room with a welcoming fireplace, kitchen, and many nieces and nephews to wrestle with!



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After getting settled in our downstairs room and wrestling with the little family members we went back upstairs to tour Amy’s suite which had been designed with her wheelchair in mind. Everything was widened and opened for free and easy chair access. How lovely is this?!

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We love our Amers! She was radiant and happy to have Thomas tell her how beautiful she is and give him raspberries whenever he wasn’t paying attention to her. You tell him Amy! The morning of our second reception we decided to take a walk on the backyard property that had the most gorgeous hill, trees, and little creek. There is just something so whimsical about Northern/Midwestern lighting in the winter months. I had to bring my camera along and catch our moments of basking in the beauty of God’s creations.

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Before long, it was time to turn back and start getting ready to receive friends and family into the new residence for the reception! We were SO BLESSED by everyone who came. It was wonderful meeting all the people I’ve heard about and received such generous gifts from for the wedding. However, my heart leapt twice as much from being able to see our sweet Wallace family again! It was such a treat to spend some time with them and see the little one playing with our nieces and nephews (mainly nieces hee hee).

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My in-laws surely blessed us with the hosting of this beautiful event and we are eternally grateful for all that they have given us and how much they have supported us.

Till We Meet Again,

~The Mrs.(& some input from The Mr.)

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Holocaust Survivor Steen Metz: “Never Forget”


untitledIt’s not everyday you get to shake the hand of a Holocaust survivor. Steen Axel Metz graced FSW’s (Florida Southwestern State College) School of Education Department to share his passion; Not letting people forget. In fact, that is exactly Steen’s mission. Steen has traveled far and wide educating the masses both young and old about the tragically horrific events that happened during the second World War. His greatest ambition, through the memories of the Holocaust, is to have others be aware of the historical events of the past in hopes that they will pass on this intimate eye witness account to future generations to learn from. Steen was one of the few people that made it back to his home in Denmark near the end of the second World War.


Steen retells and accounts for several horrific memories from his “18 months of Hell” in the German concentration camp of Theresienstadt also known to many as Terezin. Steen’s passion is poured out through the pages of his book, “A Danish Boy in Theresienstadt”. Besides having survived one of the nastiest historical events of our time, Steen has devoted a portion of his life to researching all he can about those dark days in order to educate his readers even more so about what was going on around the world during the war. Throughout his travels and speaking to the public about the Holocaust, Steen has encountered many people who fervently believe that the Holocaust never happened! So in addition to speaking publicly, all of his research resources can be found in the back of his book in both Danish and English. I was also extremely honored to have my copy personally signed by Steen himself. If anyone would like to borrow the book to read or use for an assignment I would be most happy to offer it. Since Steen is self published, one cannot purchase his memoirs on Amazon or any other book retail establishment.

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Steen was only 8 or 9 years old when the German Nazis captured him, his father, and his mother. It was on the morning of October 2nd, during the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, that the Nazis started retrieving Jewish families from their homes. The Nazis knew that the families would all be in one place celebrating this holiday and therefore would be easier to collect. Steen stated that he and his family amongst many other families were herded into what they called “cattle cars”. These were actually train cars, but were so filthy from the human waste accrued over the long and brutal journey that the people sardined into them referred to them as “cattle cars”. Steen said that the worst thing about traveling within the cattle car was not knowing what was going to happen next. The fear of the unknown after being torn from your home is almost too much to bare.

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Eventually, Steen and his parents arrived at Terezin. Although Terezin was not labeled as an extermination camp, the quality of life was no better than those of the other famous death camps. Many people from Terezin were transported to other infamous extermination camps via cattle car to be gassed or cremated alive. The treatment from Nazi officers was extremely taxing both physically and psychologically. Unfortunately, after 6 months of living in the camp, Steen’s father passed away from starvation. The menu was as follows; Potato soup every day. However, It wasn’t your average potato soup. In Terezin, potato soup was a pot of hot water with the skins of potatoes floating around. Steen only could assume that the actual potatoes were given to the German officers and that the camp inmates were given the scraps. Such conditions, in tandem with the rampant illnesses and uncleanliness, resulted in his fathers death.  Steen could remember one specific day after his father had passed that a German Nazi officer walked up to his mother and asked how she was doing. She replied, “Not very well. My husband has died”. The Nazi officer went on to ask her what he died from. She replied “starvation”. In the concentration camp of Terezin, the Nazis would never honestly record the cause of death in their medical reports and would not let the Jewish inmates answer honestly either. To make an example of Steen’s mother, the officer went back to visit her for the next 8 days to make her respond to the same question, but give phenomena as the cause of death.


This was only one of hundreds of horrible events that followed throughout the course of Steen’s time at Terezin. However, you will not see Steen without a smile as he continues his day to day life. He considers himself blessed and very lucky to have survived such a wretched experience while many others, such as his father, paid the ultimate price against the brutality of the Nazis. There are many things that Steen has overcome and some things that are still very hard to process. For example, the German language whether spoken in a movie or heard in a song will remind him of how the officers would shout and scream in their native language at the Jewish inmates. It’s something not so easily erased from one’s mind, especially the mind of a nine 9 year old boy.

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Steen continues to inspire all who hear his incredible story and has inspired the FSW School of Education students to keep the “flame lit” and pass on his story to the future generations. This is a day I will not soon forget. The day I got to shake hands with Mr. Steen Metz.

“Never Forget”


~The Mrs.

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Product Review: Holly Nog


WIN_20141116_162038With the holiday season whipping around the corner, pumpkin and harvest items are now on the clearance racks and Christmas has now taken the main stage. The Mr. and I discovered this in the most unexpected way while shopping for Diesel’s new dog tag. Amidst the hustle and bustle at Petco, we noticed that the World Market store (My absolute favorite store in the entire world) next door was hosting a wine sampling event and we thought “Why not?!” and headed in. We tried at least a dozen wines from around the world and some local, but the one product that had us coming back for more was the Holly Nog in chocolate mint.

WIN_20141116_161910This is “festive” in a bottle ladies and gentlemen. The balance of flavor is very well distributed and the texture of the cream keeps the traditional eggnog lover quite content. Through my research, I’ve discovered that Holly Nog is a brand of the company known as Midwest Custom Bottling in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. It comes in two flavors; Original Egg Nog & Chocolate Mint (The chocolate mint being the newest flavor). Holly Nog is a flavored wine product deliciously concocted with Wisconsin dairy cream and 14 percent alcohol. It can be found in most grocery stores for $9.99. It delivers a mild kick from the alcohol immediately followed by the cooling sensation of mint and cream. This will be featured at our Christmas gathering this year and I’m sure it will be a crowd pleaser. Both the Mr. and I deem this product party approved! We hope to share some with you over the holiday.


~The Mr. & Mrs.


Step Aside Cracker Barrel


                                            WIN_20141110_092020 I don’t know a single friend or relative of mine that doesn’t enjoy a southern buttermilk biscuit. Ever wonder about stealing the Cracker Barrel recipe? No need my friends. I’ll do you one better with half the prep time! I was hankering for soft and fluffy on the inside and lightly toasted on the outside buttermilk biscuits last week and wanted to make them from scratch. However, realizing my unrealistic schedule for the prep time in the morning, I tried to find a recipe that delivered on “quick” without sacrificing texture and flavor. I struck gold with this recipe but was extremely skeptical at first. The main component of this recipe is Bisquick. I was never a fan of it and I prefer making my meals from scratch, but I took a risk and now I make sure I always have some one hand in the pantry. So here is another Husband approves recipe from my household to yours! For the old-school bakers like me, take a chance with this one!

Prep Time: (10 Minutes)

Yield : (About 7-10 depending on cutting thickness)

Bake Time: (8-9 Minutes)


* 2 1/4 Cups Bisquick

* 1 teaspoon Sugar

* 2/3 Cup Buttermilk

* 1 Tablespoon Melted Butter


1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.

2.In a mixing bowl, stir Bisquick, Sugar, Buttermilk, and Melted Butter until a soft dough forms.


3. Turn out onto a well floured surface. (I use the Pampered chef pastry mat and highly suggest the product to save your table tops)


4. Knead the dough twenty times. (Do not be afraid if flour gets added to the dough. It is a very forgiving recipe)

5. Roll the dough out to desired thickness.1/2 an inch thick is standard. (Keep in mind that the thicker the biscuit, the more they “tower”. Customize at will!)


6. With a medium sized biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter (About 3 inches diameter), cut through the dough and twist. Remove the biscuit and place on a non-stick cooking sheet. Repeat this step till the dough has been used completely.


7. Place the biscuits close together or shoulder to shoulder on the non-stick cooking sheet. (This little trick supposedly helps the rising process of your biscuits)

8. Lightly brush the tops of your biscuits with some butter and stick into the oven. Bake for 8-9 minutes only.


9. After the biscuits come out, it’s optional to lightly brush the tops again with butter. (I usually forego this step)

10. Enjoy! Some suggestions for serving we especially love is with seedless blackberry or raspberry jam. Honey from our local farmers market is also a delicious pairing for this recipe. If you rather not stray from the classics, butter will do just fine.



~ The Mrs.

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Shellfish Pot Recipe



Many of you have asked me about my shellfish pot recipe after

posting the picture up on Facebook. I thought a blog post would be a great opportunity to

share my new favorite hubby approved recipe! If you enjoy seafood as much as we do, then you

need to have this recipe in your cooking arsenal. I will also be putting in some suggestions

of other items you can add to this depending on what your taste buds are craving. Enjoy!

(Prep: 15 minutes / Cook: 40 minutes)


– 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

– 1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper

– 1 Onion Coarsely Chopped (I use a white onion)

– 5 Cloves Garlic Smashed

– 2 Bay Leaves

– 1-2 Fresno Chile Peppers (I love spicy and leave the seeds in)

– 1 28oz Can Diced Tomatoes

-1 1/2 Cups Dry White Wine (I use Pinot Grigio)

– 1/2 teaspoon Parsley

– 2 1/2lbs Littleneck Clams (About 20 pieces)

– 1lb Mussels

(Suggestions: I added grilled chopped chicken to this recipe the first time and loved it! Fresh shrimp, calamari, or even pieces of fish would enhance the dish. Customize at will!)


1. Heat the oil in a large pot on Medium heat.

2. Add chopped onion, smashed garlic, bay leaves, and crushed red pepper to the pot.

3. Cook until the garlic is soft and the onions are tender (About 8-10 minutes).

4. Add the wine and bring the mixture to a simmer.

5. Add the tomatoes with their juices and the chile peppers by crushing them through your fingers into the pot.

6. Simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes or until tomatoes break down.

7. Stir in the clams, cover, and cook for 8 minutes.

8. Add the mussels, give the pot a stir, cover, and continue cooking until all the mussels and clams open.

9. Season with a pinch of Sea Salt and pepper to taste.

10. Divide into 4 bowls and garnish with some crispy bread and parsley.


~ The Mrs.

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Meet Diesel Scofield Downin


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Diesel Scofield Downin joined our family October 18th, 2014

If I wasn’t already spoiled enough by my now husband, I certainly reached spoiled rotten

upon receiving Diesel as my early wedding present.

Besides being completely adorable, Diesel is also special in another way. He was in a system

of humane societies ever since he was a few weeks old.

We saw him at the Gulf Coast Human Society in Fort Myers, Fl and never turned back.

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What we found out about him immediately was that he had a calm sweet temperament. Most of

the other dogs in the shelter were barking furiously, but Diesel only seemed interested

in being loved on. He had us hook line and sinker.

It was only an astounding 85 dollars to adopt our little guy and within that charge included

all updated shots, first week of food, neutering, micro-chip, and free first veterinary check-up.

The small amount we had to pay we owe to Diesel’s age. He is currently two years & 4 months

and therefore not a puppy resulting in a serious price reduction. He is also not a purebred but a

mix of dachshund and jack russel terrier.

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It’s been so rewarding watching our little guy open up and become a real dog.

He had to learn how to play again and go through several different drastic changes.

I think Diesel has finally gotten used to his cushy lifestyle and enjoys the 24/7 attention and love

from our family and friends. The only thing we have yet to improve on with Diesel is his

separation anxiety whenever we leave the apartment. Our friend Sarah, an excellent dog trainer,

has been giving us the right tips and tricks to help it and slowly but surely we are seeing him less

jumpy and whimpering when we return after a period of time.


However, we can’t help but take him everywhere that pets are welcome such as the shell

factory and dog beach when we can! We hope all of you get a chance to come over and visit our

little guy and see why he’s such a big deal to us.

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Welcome to the family Diesel!

~ The Mrs.