Category Archives: Holidays

Taking on Elver Hill in the Snow

Right after Christmas, Sean and his wife, Amanda, came to visit while they were nearby spending the holiday with her family. It was great to see them and test out our sleds on a big hill near Eric’s office.

Elver Hill is a favorite for a lot of families in the area. In the summer, kids still enjoy the challenge of racing up and down the massive hill. When we got there, I was a little worried by all of the broken sleds we saw in the parking lot and at the bottom of the hill.


The guys were brave and took on the hill first.P1030674They both went flying down the hill while Amanda and I waited below – I think it was in the teens that night. Next was our turn, and we went down like pros (but were not brave enough to go any further than halfway up.




After two turns each, we were ready to call it a night. I don’t think any of us were as prepared as we should have been for the wind and cold.

P1030689ย  P1030688ย  P1030685

I think the funniest part of the whole sledding story is that Eric now keeps snow pants and a sled in his truck. After work, he takes a few runs on the hill before heading home. He gets some great stories of odd sled creations and injuries.

So glad we all had a little taste of winter thrills {and chills}.

Christmas Cheer


Merry Christmas from the Roarks!

On Christmas Eve we celebrated the holidays with Eric’s parents and all his family in Ohio.

It was a lot of fun to see everyone together and enjoying the food and festivities. With only one grandbaby, Tucker (our nephew) got the most presents by far! That’s exactly how Christmas is supposed to be – for the kids… but aren’t we all a kid to someone??

Thanks for such a fun weekend, John and Brenda. We can’t wait to visit again soon!

Early Christmas Gifts

Eric and I get so excited about what we get each other for Christmas and birthday’s it’s not uncommon for us to share gifts before the big day.

This year, Eric did a great job and got me so many things I had dropped hints about over the past few weeks – including a frother to make the perfect Chia Latte.


It has been so nice to enjoy a frothy latte the last couple of mornings. Maybe, just maybe it will make this darn cold go away faster!

I’m sure he’ll enjoy his full set of HP movies over the next few days (and probably even start on our drive back home tomorrow).

A Christmas Surprise!

P1030627{Eric with his mom and cousin Beau}

When schools and work were canceled on Wednesday afternoon, we contemplated leaving a little early for Ohio to beat the snow. After a little waffling, we made the last-minute decision, packed our bags and hit the road.

Along the way, we called everyone but Eric’s mom to let them know we were coming earlier than Friday to beat the blizzard moving into our state. Eric convinced his mom we were snowed in and unable to come until Saturday at the earliest. Little did she know were already halfway there!

We arrived at the end of her work day and surprised her at the office. She was so happy to see us and glad were weren’t forced to travel on the icy roads.

After seeing all our friends photos on Facebook, I”m glad we left early, too. I”m sure we’ll have a few more storms before the winter is over… maybe we’ll be there next time to actually enjoy the snow day, too.

O’ Christmas Tree

This year, we were able to get a REAL tree to celebrate Christmas!

Since we were in the process of moving last year and had sold our artificial tree before the last move, we didn’t have much to decorate our home with last year.

It feels so great to come home and turn the tree home. Even tea in the morning is a little more relaxing by the light of the Christmas tree.

Moving on Down the Road (or Tracks)

For everyone to get a little taste of the train ride, here’s a little video as we enter the suburbs of Chicago. This is where the high-speed tracks are laid, but I think they slowed down a bit with all of the developments.

Here is a link to the video of theย Amtrak Train Rideย on YouTube.

We are only two cars back from the engine, so you can hear the train horn as we blow through the corssings. I was worried it would be that noisy at night, too. Either I was really tired, or they have restrictions on the horn at night, because I don’t remember hearing it very much.

Earplugs would be a good suggestion for any light sleepers.

Gateway to the West


St. Louis

The halfway point (or sorts) on our train ride home, was St. Louis, MO.

We slept most of the way through Arkansas, and woke up to the Monday morning buss in St. Louis.

It was almost like reliving the stories my grandmother tells about visiting their family when they were first married. They couldn’t afford the sleeper car, but took the night train from Ft. Worth to visit their familimiles back in East St. Louis for holidays. A family in the church even killed and fried a chicken for them to have food on the train ride home.

The Gateway Arch was still just as remarkable against the sleepy city and sunrise of the morning.

It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas

Christmas WreathWith our trip to see family for Thanksgiving and all the activities at work, our holiday decorating was delayed a little bit.

After venturing down into the basement, we were able to put everything up tonight and bring a little cheer to our home. This wreath reminds me of our wedding almost two years ago, now. I think the frost blue and the ornament make it such a fun welcome for everyone who comes over.

I think we might keep it up even past the holidays to make us smile on those cold, snowy days to come.


Corn Maze & Apple Orchard

This weekend, we were able to knock a few things off our bucket list for the fall. With the leaves already blowing off the trees, it looks like Fall is really going to fly here…

On Saturday, Eric’s parents came into town for the weekend. Even though it was a chilly day {temps in the upper 40s & no sun ๐Ÿ™ out}, we went ahead and took the drive up to Poyntte to venture through the Titanic shaped corn maze.

With Eric’s dad in the lead, we finished the maze in record time! I think the chilly weather was a great motivator, too. It didn’t hurt to have a little hot apple cider to keep us warm too.

As we left, we saw a sign for an apple orchard near by. We followed the signs and found a family owned and operated orchard. Even though they lost about 80 percent of their crop with the late freeze this year, they said they still had enough for retail and didn’t have to ship them in from Washington like so many other orchards.

We bought just 1/4 peck and a mix for some bread. {I’ll use my Aldi apples in the bread, and save the orchard ones for eating. They’re so crisp and good!}

After running through the maze and the trip to the apple orchard, we were all ready to go home and warm up. At the corn maze, we bought a pumpkin to carve. Hopefully, we’ll get to it this week. Can’t wait to see what we agree on to design.

We also decided on our Halloween costume this week, but we’re going to wait and reveal it closer to the end of the month.

National Peanut Butter Cookie Day

In honor of National Peanut Butter Cookie Day, I am planning to make a batch to go with our dinner. Even though we’re trying to be a little bit healthier, I think a little splurge now and then is worth it. It’s all about moderation ๐Ÿ™‚

Honestly, it’s the nutty flavor that makes my mouth water even now. It’s times like these that I feel sorry for the growing number of people allergic to them.

After perusing Pinterest, here are some of my favorite recipes. Do you have a go-to recipe for cookies?

From Spoonful of Sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cream peanut butter and shortening. Add sugars and cream. Add egg, vanilla, and dry ingredients. Chill dough. Roll into balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork dipped in sugar. Bake 8-10 minutes.



  • 1 1/2ย cup(s) white whole-wheat flour (see Tip)
  • 1 1/2ย cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4ย teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 1/4ย teaspoon(s) baking soda
  • 1/4ย teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1ย cup(s) sugar
  • 1/3ย cup(s) smooth natural peanut butter
  • 5ย tablespoon(s) canola oil
  • 4ย tablespoon(s) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2ย large eggs
  • 2ย teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 1/2ย cup(s) chopped roasted peanuts

ย Directions

  1. Whisk white whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Beat sugar, peanut butter, oil, and butter in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on high until smooth, scraping down the sides. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined.
  3. Place half the dough on a large piece of plastic wrap and shape into a 10-inch log (it’s okay if it’s not perfectly round). Repeat with the remaining dough. Wrap and freeze until just firm, about 45 minutes. Reroll the logs to make them rounder and return to the freezer until very firm, at least 1 hour more.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  5. Remove one roll of dough at a time from the freezer and let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Unwrap the dough and slice crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, turning the dough a quarter turn after each slice to help keep the cookies round. Place 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. If your cookies aren’t as round as you want them to be, shape the dough with your fingers. Sprinkle each cookie with a little chopped peanuts and gently press into the cookie to help them adhere.
  6. Bake 8 minutes for soft cookies or 10 minutes for crisp cookies. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining roll of dough, if desired.Exchanges: 1/2 carbohydrate (other), 1 fat Carbohydrate Servings: 1/2

ย Tips & Techniques

Make Ahead Tip: Store wrapped rolls of dough in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Tip: White whole-wheat flour, made from a special variety of white wheat, is light in color and flavor but has the same nutritional properties as regular whole-wheat flour. It is available at large supermarkets and natural-foods stores and online at or Store it in the freezer.

From 101Cookbooks {for the organic types}ย –


2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, spelt flour, or unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 cup organic, chunky natural peanut butter
1 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

ย Directions

Preheatย oven to 350F degrees. Place racks in the top third.

In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. in a separate larger bowl combine the peanut butter, maple syrup, olive oil, and vanilla. Stir until combined. Pour the flour mixture over the peanut butter mixture and stir until barely combined – still a bit dusty looking. Let sit for five minutes, give one more quick stir, just a stroke or two. Now drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Press down on each one gently with the back of a fork. It’s a loose batter, so if you’re set on doing criss-crosses, go ahead and chill the batter for an hour or so before this step. Bake for 10, maybe 11 minutes – but don’t over bake or they will be dry. Let cool five minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.

Make 2 – 3 dozen cookies.