Monday, December 8, 2008

I've Gone Country For Christmas

OK, no I haven't really gone country for Christmas. But I did want to make sure all my country-lovin' pals (that's you, Julie) noticed I included Vince Gill's version of "Let There Be Peace on Earth" in my music playlist. Can you believe it? Actually, his version was the best one I could find. Merry Christmas, ya'll!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Countdown

Well, it's December, so I guess we'd better start getting ready for Christmas. One family tradition that we have is to buy the kids these cheap advent calendars. There's a door for each day leading up to Christmas. Behind the doors are little chocolates with pictures impressed on them. I usually find these calendars at local grocery stores. The kids can hardly stand it until it's time to each their little chocolates. Last year, Dylan got a hold of his calendar and went through about four days at once. We're trying to keep a better eye on him this year. My favorite thing is when the kids accidentally forget their calendars for a couple days--then they're so excited to "catch up" on being behind.

I love little Christmas traditions, and I've noticed the kids like them, too, and enjoy talking about them and reminiscing. Hopefully, once I finally get the house all decorated, I'll be able to post more Christmas stuff.

Have a great December!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Oooh, I hope everyone's Thanksgiving goes a little smoother than that!

I have come to love Thanksgiving. When I grew up it didn't seem like Thanksgiving was that big of a deal, but Dale's family LOVES it. They love the tradition of it; they love being with family; and they love the food, especially turkey. Dale's mom makes some of the best turkey I've ever had. She not only made me really appreciate turkey, but inspired me to do it myself, too. It is so fun to be with Dale's family at Thanksgiving. It's amazing how we all get along so well. Being from a small family, I love to have nieces and nephews and cousins, etc. all around. I think my kids really enjoy it, too.

One thing Dale's family does not enjoy is the shopping afterward. That I have to do by myself (although I've talked Jesse into going the last couple years.) The funny thing, though, is that I'll go out, hit all the sales, and make it back home before any of them even wake up. A lot of times they don't even know I've gone and come back. Guess what they don't know won't hurt them. And then isn't Thanksgiving vacation the perfect time for a couple naps?!?!?!

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving and know how truly thankful I am for such wonderful friends and family like you!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Happy Birthday Cookie Monster!!!!

Well, good ol' Cookie Monster turned 39 on Sunday, November 2, 2008. (He's almost as old as I am.) Happy Birthday, Cookie! You've made better cookie eaters out of all us. I, for one, am profoundly grateful.
And in honor of your birthday.....

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES for everyone!!! Yay!!!! (And in honor of Jesse, we made "puffy" chocolate chip cookies, not "flat" ones.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008


OK, so it's Dylan's birthday and he wanted a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cake (because I already had the pan). I bought all the ingredients and carefully prepared the cake pan to be SURE that the cake would come out flawlessly. Uh--no, that's not what happened. Not only did half the cake stick in the pan....
but the cake also broke in half. Dale said if it was him making the cake, he would have pitched it out the window. Luckily, I started first thing in the morning so I still had a little patience left. I figured I might as well see how much I could cover up with

....this is how it turned out. Pretty good for being all broken and crumbly. We figured a four-year-old would like it anyway. Dylan doesn't like the "4" at the bottom of the cake. He says they don't have numbers on the real Ninja Turtles. We'll cut that piece out first, OK?

Fall Brunch

Here are pictures of some fall decorations and favors that I did for a brunch the other day.

The party favors were ghost mint "sammiches," little bat notepads that I got for a dollar at Target, and the napkins were tied with a leaf and packages of hot apple cider mix and hot chocolate.

I also scattered some green and orange truffles in and around the leaves on the table. For the menu we had strawberry cream cheese-stuffed french toast, bacon, apples and carmel dip, and then hot chocolate and whipped cream to drink. Yummy!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How long until the election?

WOW! This election season seems never-ending. Good thing there's only 19 days left. At that point, I think that anyone running for 2012 better get going. They better start running their ads now because they will have just under four years to bombard us with their platforms, agendas, and sound bytes. I don't sound cynical, do I?!?!?!

Having said that, no matter who you support, make sure you get out and vote. Then, in 20 days, you can complain all you want because at least you participated.

Thank you. (The preceding statement was paid for by the Committee to end Eternal Campaigning.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Operation Baking GALS--Round Three

OK, just finished my second round of baking with Operation Baking GALS. This round we sent goodies to a soldier serving with the 10th Mountain Division in Iraq. This is a really fun and easy way to do a little to support the soldiers in Iraq. This time I made Macadamia coconut bars. They also have white chocolate chips and dried cranberries in them. They're delicious--I just got the recipe from a party Dale had for the kids that went to Japan this summer. We then filled the rest of the box up with Halloween popcorn balls. (They're nice and light.) I hope it makes it safely to Iraq. This has been so much fun, I think I'll have to sign up for round four. If anyone else is interested in this, you can click on the Baking GALS logo at the bottom of my blog.

Have a good one!


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Happy Rosh Hashana

To celebrate Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, I decided for the very first time to attempt making Challah. I noticed several of the food blogs I visit had recipes posted for this. I've always wanted to make it, but never tried. It wasn't too hard, and the results sure look impressive! The bread tasted good, but not amazing. Of course, put butter and fresh raspberry jam on anything and it's heavenly. The color on this picture isn't the best because I took the picture with my phone. (Dale and Jesse had the camera with them on their hunting trip.) This was also the first time I'd ever done a four-strand braid. A little tricky, but fun. Some people make a six-strand braid for their Challah--maybe next year.

Have a good one!


Friday, September 5, 2008

Calista's Cabbage

OK--so almost every 3rd grader in Utah and Idaho received a little cabbage plant and the end of school in May from Bonnie Plants. The kids are encouraged to plant their seedlings and then see what kind of a giant cabbage they can grow. They're supposed to take a picture with their cabbage and then send it in. A random person is picked from each state (?) to win a $1000 scholarship.

Calista took this challenge seriously and, after three different locations, her cabbage ended up in a corner of our garden. It did great!!! It must have been all the love she gave it. She named her cabbage Cory (after one of her best friends) and would spend time talking to it and loving it.

We finally decided it was time to pick it and weigh it. It came in at about 19 pounds. She took some cute pictures with it, and now we face eating 19 pounds of cabbage. Whew!!! So far we've had Chinese cabbage salad, egg rolls, Okonomiyaki (a Japanese food similar to egg foo yung), Yakisoba (Japanese stir fry with cabbage and noodles), and stuffed cabbage leaves. That might sound like a lot of dishes involving cabbage, but we still have over half of the thing left. Any other cabbage suggestions? Compost, maybe?

Perhaps next year we could get a pumpkin plant instead.

Have a good one!!!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Summer Tomatoes

Woo-hooo!! Finally this year, our tomatoes have been ripening all through the summer--not just the last week of the summer. Tonight, we had to pick a bunch so the plant wouldn't topple over. The plants, themselves, never got very big, but they have produced lots of tomatoes. Yea!!!

This is one of my favorite summer recipes--it's the BEST made with fresh tomatoes from the garden, fresh basil from the herb garden, and a little olive oil and vinegar. And, to top it all off, it's super fast and easy, too.

This recipe came from my friend Tori several years ago. I think she got it from an old Bon Appetit magazine (July '91).

Tomatoes and Pasta

1 lb. tomatoes, diced

4 oz. mozzarella, cut into small cubes

1/2 cup fresh basil, torn or finely chopped

6 TBS. olive oil

2 TBS. Balsamic vinegar

fresh garlic, crushed (one clove is usually plenty)

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

toasted pine nuts (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup)

12 oz. pasta (I usually do a shape rather than a noodle)

Cook pasta. In the meantime, mix the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. When the pasta is done, drain and immediately toss the hot pasta with the other ingredients in the bowl. The heat from the pasta warms the "sauce" and just slightly melts the cheese. YUMMY!!! Serves about four.

Let me know what you think!!! I think I'll make some on Monday.

This is my herb garden at the first part of the summer. I love my herb garden. It's one of my favorite things. It's planted where there used to be a pond. We kept the pond when we first moved in, but it was ugly and every kid that came to our house wanted to throw rocks into it. We cleaned it up and filled it in with soil about seven or eight years ago and it has been an herb garden ever since.

The first herb in there was the sage plant, a gift from my mom. It's been there since the beginning. Every spring I trim it down to within an inch of its life, and it beautifully fills back in. The other herbs we have this year are....parsley, rosemary, thyme, mint, oregano, tarragon, basil, and chives. In the black bucket on the left, I planted cilantro, which didn't ever come up and I've never been able to grow. Then I tried planting dill. Several of the dill seeds sprouted, but after each one got to be about 1 inch high, something would eat it. Right now there's one surviving dill plant--guess that's better than nothing. In the foreground, by the flower pots, I tried planting lavendar for the first time. It's growing but very, very slowly.

I love being able to just pop out to the little herb garden and pick whatever I need for a recipe. And several of the herbs will last long through the fall, even after it freezes (sage, rosemary, thyme). If I were to give any advice about planting an herb garden, I would start with the hearty herb, like sage, rosemary, thyme, and oregano. But be careful with oregano because, really, it's a weed and will take over. I've cut mine back numerous times. And if anyone has any suggestions for growing cilantro, just let me know. Maybe I'll post a couple of my favorite herb recipes over the next couple weeks.

Have a good one!!!


Friday, May 2, 2008

Happy 18th

Monday, April 28th was our 18th anniversary. I cannot believe we have been married for almost 20 years. That's crazy! Happy Anniversary to us!!! When I was looking for a picture to post, I realized that we don't have any current pictures of the two of us. I guess we'll have to remedy that situation--when I'm looking good, and the lighting's good, and the stars all align at the same time....anyway. Here's the picture we used for our wedding announcements.

My New Thing--Shortbread

At Easter, my niece Christine brought two different kinds of shortbread to our family get-together. It was delicious--buttery, flaky, rich. She brought a chocolate chip shortbread and an English toffee version. She has recently been bitten by the shortbread bug and has enjoyed experimenting with recipes and buying different shortbread molds. A friend of hers, Janet, had introduced Christine to the joys of shortbread and told her that the best is always made in a shortbread mold. (Janet has over 20 of her own.)

Since Easter, I have been craving the shortbread that Christine made. I decided, of course, I'd better have a mold of my own, so I used my vast Ebay skills to acquire a Brown Bag mold. It should be here any day now. I'm so excited to try different variations. Christine sent me her recipe (really Janet's recipe) and I've researched others that I want to try--rosemary pinenut and five-spice powder shortbread, just to name a few.

I'll be posting pictures as soon as it's made. Meanwhile, here's a picture of my new mold.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

March is Women's History Month

This month is Women's History Month. There are a lot of amazing women whose shoulders we get to stand on. But one woman who I truly admire was my grandma, Maurine. She was a woman who grew up as the only girl in a family of boys. She was raised in a very conservative home and a very conservative town. But I think it was she who gave me the strength and the thoughts that we didn't have to be the same or always think the same as the people around us. Let me tell you about her.

Grandma loved to read. She would read almost every day. Even when her eyes and her hands couldn't do much else, she would still read. And she didn't read fluff. She was reading deep, insightful, and thought-provoking books. She was always improving her mind and, consequently, could carry on great conversations.

She had some spunk in her. There was always a little twinkle in her eye that let you know a bit of mischief was going on her mind. Don't tell her what to do and how to do it--she could figure out for herself, and have a little fun with it, too.

She was an amazing worker. Unless she was very ill, she worked out her yard almost every day. She loved flowers and plants and would spend endless hours helping things grow. She was always working inside, too. There was no excuse for wasting time.

She was creative. Her hands weren't often very still. She would make bread by hand, crochet, knit, embroider, quilt, and sew. I treasure the quilt she made for me when I got married.

And, best of all, she was independent. She made up her own mind about what to think on religion, politics, and world events--even if she was surrounded by people who thought differently. And, no, she wouldn't be swayed from something she really believed in.

I wish I could be like her, but that's a lot of to live up to. I'm just glad for her example and for her strength that I always keep in the back of my mind. She was a feminist the way I hope I am.

I think it's important to remember and know women's history, both in the world and in your own family.

Here's a fun quiz to see what you know about Women's History. Good luck!


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Tonight's Recipe--Tilapia Fish Tacos

Fish tacos are so easy these days with the packaged, frozen tilapia filets. I got a bag for just under three dollars that had 6 individually-wrapped filets. And they take so little time to thaw. Just fill the bag with warm water and all the filets will be thawed out in minutes.Slice your filets (about 5 or 6) into about 5 strips each. Toss these strips in a small brown paper bag with this mixture: 1/3 cup flour, 1/3 cup cornmeal, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. chili powder. Fry the strips in a little oil, over medium heat, until golden brown. As the strips are just about done. Squeeze a quarter of a lime over the top. When you're all done frying all the strips, arrange them on a plate and serve with your favorite taco toppings.

We had our fish tacos with corn tortiillas, extra lime, avocado, shredded cabbage, cheese, sour cream, and some pico de gallo salsa. Delicious!!!! (This amount serves about 5 people)

Monday, March 3, 2008

What? Me Blog?

The other day I was having brunch with some friends when one of them said her sister was trying to talk her into creating her own blog. The responses were along the lines of..."What's a blog," "Why would you want to do that?" "What would you write or post?" As I listened, I thought down (very deep), "I would do a blog." Of course, those weren't the words out of my mouth.

I've thought about creating my own blog as I've become more and more enchanted with what other people have done--fascinating, insightful, thought-provoking and fun blogs that are so exciting to read. You get an insight into a person (who you probably don't know) and what they are thinking that you would never have the chance to in real life. Plus, the comments that other people leave are as varied as people can be. I love blogs dealing with current issues and beliefs. I love blogs dealing with religion and all the associated feelings and thoughts and discussions that go along with that. And, of course, I LOVE blogs about food.

And that's what was the final impetus for this blog.

I have many interests, but have never felt I had enough knowledge or credibility to discuss much until I started reading food blogs. Now, there's an area where I do feel at least I have some experience and some passion. As I perused various food blogs, I thought, "I could do this. I'd love to share thoughts on the food I love (plus various other things)" goes....

My idea is to post about what I enjoy, what I feel, and what I love (which could be food, religion, family, music, travel), but to always have a smattering of food-related topics to entice the reader and, possibly, to share good ideas about good food.

I hope it goes well and I look forward to the adventure.

And, for the meantime, watch for "BLOG CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION" signs to pervade the sight.

Bon Apettit!!