Sunday, March 21, 2010

12 in 12 Challenge: Recipe 2 - Chewy Toffee Bits Cookies

Never fear, dear readers. . .I am back with another installment in the 12 in 12 Challenge. :)

This time it is Chewy Toffee Bits Cookies. And boy are they good! My mom and I made these as a joint effort the other night because we both wanted to make cookies, but it counts for this challenge. :)

Here's the recipe, and I'll follow up with my comments at the end.

Chewy Toffee Bits Cookies
Recipe from The Columbus Dispatch

2-1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1-3/4 cup toffee bits (we used 1-1/2 cup of Heath Bar baking bits)

1. Sift together dry ingredients.
2. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugars, and vanilla until well blended. Add eggs and beat well.
3. Gradually add flour mixture, beating until blended.
4. Mix in toffee bits.
5. Drop by teaspoon onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.
6. Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes.

My thoughts:

These are delicious cookies! I love toffee, so putting them in cookies makes perfect sense in my brain. The flavor is delicious and the chewiness of the cookie is perfect, too. We used our cookie scoop, which isn't terribly big, but we decided the cookies would be a bit bigger than we wanted so we cut each scooped cookie in half. They came out the perfect size.

I would recommend this recipe if you like cookies and toffee bits, because the combination is splendid. :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy. . .SPRING!

Spring has sprung. I don't know if it is here to stay or if it is going to simply tease us for awhile, but for the moment, spring is here.

Here's why.

Daffodils and tulips are beginning to show their little leaves as they start to pop out to say "hello."

Robins are hopping all over the yard, their bright red breasts being just another reminder of spring.

The sun is shining almost continually, and any snow we get seems to be simply a dusting.

Spring has sprung, and life is good.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Of Course I Took Pictures!

Me, as close as I got to meeting Josh Turner. Oh well!

Ladies & Gentlemen, this HAS to be THE bus that Josh Turner & The Tonkin' Honkies ride on!

You know it!

Unfortunately I was kind of far away and taking pictures over the shoulder of the lady in front of me. . .
But this here is the man himself. :)

SO Awesome!

More of a laid-back moment.

Closing out his concert with "The Answer."

I Got There As Fast As I Could!

Let me preface this by saying that if you told me a few years ago that I would go to a country concert, I would've rolled my eyes and laughed. Because until a few years ago, I couldn't stand country. And to be honest with you, I still don't like what I have dubbed as "Depression Twang," or the country music from the 60s, 70s, 80s that is all depressing and "down-in-the-dumps, woe-is-me, let's-get-drunk-and-wash-away-our-worries" music. BUT. . .thanks to several friends at the bakery who like country, I was exposed to the newer stuff. And thanks to that, I grew to enjoy with a new genre. And that genre just happens to be country. The newer, more, well, happy (and, well, sappy) stuff. :) So, with that being said, it now comes as no surprise to me that I went to a country concert. So, without further adieu, here is my tale of great excitement about the amazingness that was the Josh Turner concert in Spokane on February 18, 2010.

**Note: The links link to the songs on YouTube. Because most of the songs are brand new songs, there aren't many videos on YouTube yet, so I couldn't pick the one with the best pictures, etc. Thus why some have just lyrics, etc. However, with some of the songs you are lucky and get the official music video. :)**
From the first note of his upbeat song, "Eye Candy" to the last sounds of his gospel song, "The Answer," Josh Turner had the audience cheering wildly and loving every minute of his concert.

Having never been to a "real" concert before, I wasn't quite sure what to expect when my friend and I headed over to Spokane for the concert. My friend hadn't been to a "real" concert, either, so we were both in for a new experience. And what an experience it was!

We knew that the venue ("The Knitting Factory," a small concert house in Spokane that holds about 1,500 people) opened its doors at 7 for the 8pm performance. What we didn't know is that people get there super-early to line up and wait to get inside. We headed towards the door, stopping to take my picture with the Josh Turner poster (as close as I got to taking my picture with Josh Turner himself) outside, and admiring the large busses parked out front, with Tennessee license plates giving away the fact that it must be Josh Turner's method of transportation. *squeal* (of course I took a picture!)

When we got past the busses and the poster we noticed a line. A long line. When we rounded the corner to find the back of the line, we noticed it was even longer. Apparently we needed to arrive before 7 to get near the front. Oh well. 

The line moved surprisingly quickly. The whole thing still felt surreal and I still couldn't believe I was actually in line to see Josh Turner perform live. Ever since I first heard Josh Turner I fell in love with his voice and his music. How awesome to see and hear him live?!

Finally we got inside, showed ID to prove we were over 21 (even though neither one of us wanted anything to do with the bar area, we decided to get the "Over 21" wristbands - my reason being that nobody ever has any reason to check my ID to see if I'm over 21, so I might as well experience that, too. :) We finally made it past the doors into the actual concert area and couldn't believe how full it already was. The floor was completely packed with people. As this was a standing concert (with a few stools for the lucky ones who arrived early) we figured we would move around and find the best spot to watch from. We finally found a spot on the top level looking over someone's shoulders. But it wasn't a bad spot at all, and we were really quite lucky as compared to those who arrived after us and were having to look over *our* shoulders and the people in front of us!

Finally 8pm rolled around and the Copper Mountain Band came on stage to open the concert. One thing I learned is that the opening band plays for a very, very long time. Which stinks when you are super-excited to see the main act. By this time we were both starting to get really hot because with 1,500 people crowded together for a sold-out concert in a not-so-large venue, it gets rather warm.

But, 45 minutes later the Copper Mountain Band was finished (and don't get me wrong, they were very good, but I wanted to see Josh Turner, so I was getting a little impatient!) and, about 20 minutes later the amazingness began.

The lights went dark. Then, suddenly, the stage was alive with instruments and lights. And just as quickly, the baritone voice of Josh Turner could be heard over the speakers, and then, there he was. I couldn't believe it. He began by singing "Eye Candy," a song off of his new CD, Haywire, which came out on my birthday. Although it's not my favorite song on the CD, it was still cool to see it performed live, with pictures of Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, and other "gorgeous ladies" on the screen. 

The second song was "One Woman Man," which I thought was a Josh Turner original, but it turns out it was also sung by George Jones and who knows who else back in the day. Who knew?! Then, a short video clip showing Nashville, TN with a line across the map to Spokane, WA was shown, and the Haywire Tour 2010 concert officially began, along with "I Got Here As Fast As I Could."

Before long Josh Turner sang "Why Don't We Just Dance?" which is his current #1 from his new album. This song was shown alongside clips from the music video, and the whole audience was singing along. It's a very catchy song. 

Of course, the concert wouldn't have been complete with out "Everything is Fine," "Your Man," "Lovin' You On My Mind," "I Wouldn't Be a Man," "Me and God," "Firecracker," "Another Try," "Haywire," "All Over Me," "Long Black Train," (the song that launched his career on the stage of the Grand Ol' Opry) and one of my personal favorites, "Would You Go With Me?"

I have been listening to the Haywire album pretty much non-stop in my car since my birthday, and one of my favorite songs on that album is Josh Turner's gospel song, "The Answer." Josh is very clearly a Christian and is not afraid to reference that on his albums. It's really cool. For example. . .

On his Long Black Train album, the title song has a chorus that says:
"There's victory in the Lord, I say, 
victory in the Lord. 
Cling to the Father and His holy name, 
and don't go riding on that long black train."

(I might add that it was amazing to hear the entire audience singing along with this chorus)

On his Your Man CD, the song "Me and God" talks about how 
"He's my Father, He's my friend
The beginning and the end
He rules the world with a staff and rod
We're a team, me and God"

On his "Everything is Fine" album, the song "The Way He Was Raised" is all about God and has a final chorus that talks about how
"On a cross, on a hill,
That long haired boy was killed.
All our sins washed away 
When He walked out of that grave.
Oh that's just the way He was raised.
There's no way we could measure the sacrifice He made
He knew He had to die for our debt to be paid,
Oh that's just the way He was raised."

And on his Haywire album, is "The Answer." As I said, this is one of my favorite songs on the album. And you can imagine how excited I was when Josh Turner chose to close his concert with this amazing song. The final chorus says
"You've got questions, you need directions
Arms to hold you for all eternity
Look no further, because there's no other
He's a lover and an understander
He's an anchor, he's Gods right hander
Jesus is the answer"

We were disappointed that there was no encore. . .but how cool to have this be the final song people heard at the Josh Turner concert. He is amazing. (have I said that yet?)

My friend and I both agreed that the concert was amazing. Josh Turner is so personable and relates to the audience really well. I can't describe it. But he is amazing. And I would go see him again in a heartbeat. I hope he comes back to Spokane again someday. I'll be there!

P.S. His band is called The Tonkin' Honkies. Isn't that just cool?