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Countertop Review

This time last year I was packing up our house to prepare for our down-to-the-studs renovation in our kitchen, family room, and master bath as well as the addition of a screened porch. The family room wasn't originally part of the plan, but that's a post for another time. The kitchen was where I really had to plan and scheme, and, yes even fret, to stay in our footprint and budget and to get the function and look I wanted. I love a challenge like this, though, so despite some occasional frustration with my client (aka me! ), I enjoyed the process. A key "want" of mine was honed marble countertops. There are dozens--maybe hundreds--of blog posts, articles, and showroom sites that compare various types of countertop materials and their pros and cons. I read most of them and took notes from a lot of them in the months leading up to our start date. One of the most helpful things was visiting a sweet friend's kitchen, where I was able to ask questions about cleaning, a

Red, White, Blue, and Brownies!

Happy Independence Day! Try not to be alarmed, but after almost four years, I'm writing a blog post. Blame it on chocolate.

This past Memorial Day was an especially significant one for us as it was our first without my husband's father, a World War II veteran, and it was only a few days before our younger son left for the United States Marine Corps Officer Candidates Course in Quantico, Virginia. We had a few friends over to celebrate some May birthdays and to give our son a low-key send-off. 

He asked that I make homemade brownies for dessert. I've loved the Barefoot Contessa's brownies and the Baker's One Bowl brownies, but I'd recently read an online interview with Tessa, who blogs and Instagrams as Nine + Sixteen. She mentioned her favorite brownies, and I decided to give her recipe a try. They were the perfect dessert! So perfect, in fact, that Joe requested that I bring him some when I get to enjoy a very short visit with him this weekend! 

Because a future Marine-in-training and a middle-aged mom don't need a big pan of brownies, I halved Tessa's recipe, and because I am always about heightening the chocolate flavor, I added a teaspoon of espresso powder. So, so good! I hope you enjoy!

The Best Brownies  
(adapted from a recipe posted by Tessa at Nine + Sixteen)
12 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
1 stick butter
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 TBS vanilla
3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp espresso powder (optional, but I love how it enhances the chocolatey flavor!)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x9 pan with non-stick aluminum foil or grease the pan well with non-stick cooking spray.  (The foil makes it easy to lift out the brownies to cool and cut.)

Melt the chocolate chips and butter in the microwave or in a double boiler.  Remove, stir until perfectly smooth, and set aside to cool slightly. 

In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs and sugar. Mix the melted chocolate and vanilla into the egg mixture. Add the flour, baking powder, espresso powder, salt and mix well.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or so or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out almost clean. Do not over bake.

Remove from oven and let cool before cutting.  Dust lightly with confectioner's sugar.

Happy Fourth of July!



  1. So nice to hear from you again:). I am sorry about the loss of your father-in-law, and wish your son all the best in his service.

    1. Thanks so much, Lisa. Lovely to hear from you.

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