Sunday, November 30, 2008

Winter Wonderland


It's snowing here. We woke up to snow on the ground, and it hasn't stopped all day. It's been beautiful, light, and fluffy and soft. We haven't had a season of snow in 5 years.
However....we don't have snow tires yet. Yikes! One more thing to add to the already crowded budget!! But this month of December, starting tomorrow, is going to be so lovely! I've got my knee high socks on, my soft scarf around my neck...I'm cozy warm inside and it's beautiful fluffy white outside. All I need is some hot chocolate. Life is good.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An Amazing Thing Happens...


...when you tell the kids "No T.V.!"


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Favorite Fresh Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

I love it when the cranberries appear in the grocery stores again because it means I can make these yummy cookies. I got the recipe from Coconut and Lime.
If you haven't checked out that site, it's got some really really great recipes. I found this recipe last year about this time and it's a favorite.



Fresh cranberries can be frozen perfectly. Just put your little bag of cranberries in the freezer and it will be fine for....well, a long time. I buy tons of bags this time of year so that I have them to use later in the year when they aren't in season.

Ok, so here is the recipe, which I got from Coconut and Lime (so give the credit to Mr. Coconut and Mrs. Lime), I have doubled it for you (because you really really want it doubled!) My version is a tad bit different than the original, as always. I simply cannot follow a recipe without adding or changing things a bit!

1 stick softened butter
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of ginger

2 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips (then add more. Nobody's lookin'!)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (totally optional, but I like them)

1 bag of fresh cranberries (The whole bag. Do not chop them. Just dump them in.)


In a large bowl, cream together butter, vanilla, and brown sugar. Add the eggs and beat until fluffy. Add the baking powder, salt, ginger, flour, and oats. Mix until well combined. Add mini chocolate chips, chopped walnuts (optional) and mix. Fold in your cranberries. (just a note, but you really want to use the mini chocolate chips for this recipe instead of the normal size chocolate chips.) (additional note: Yes, Nicki. These are the cookies I made you last year.)


Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 13 minutes, depending on your oven. They should look "set" and be just brown on the bottoms. Let cool on the pan for about 10 minutes before removing to wire wrack to cool completely.


These cookies have a sweet bite and then you taste the tart burst of cranberry...simply delicious! These look really festive around the Holidays too. Enjoy!

Quick addition to your Thanksgiving!

A number of years ago, my friend Miss Patti gave me this recipe for "Cranberries in the Snow". (Tiphaine, say hi to her for me...) It is very yummy, and a perfect accompaniment to your Thanksgiving Feast. I don't have a picture to show you yet...because I haven't made it yet, but I wanted to post this today so that if you decided to make it, you would still have time. I'll add a picture later in the week.

Ok, so here it is:

Cranberries in the Snow

1 can cranberry sauce (whole or jellied...doesn't matter)
2 cups of water
1 box (6 oz pkg) of raspberry jello or cranberry jello. I used raspberry.

Mix the above ingredients in a pot on the stove. Heat to a boil, making sure everything is stirred up really well. Remove from heat and add 1 cup of chopped walnuts (optional).

Pour it in a cake pan and put it in the freezer. FREEZE. (I make this the day before.)

Topping:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 small jar of marshmallow cream
1/2 cup cool whip

Mix these three ingredients together until nice and fluffy. Spread over the top of your jello. Serve.

Within 1/2 an hour of getting it out of the freezer, it is soft enough to eat. I think it's a perfect jello dish for the kids, while still giving them a great cranberry flavor.

You are 10 Minutes Away From Cute Potholders!

If you looked in my kitchen drawer, you would see some pretty gross potholders. I'm ashamed of them. I looked at them for a minute, and thought..."I can totally make new ones!"

So here is your 10 minute tutorial for easy-peasy potholders. First, cut out two squares of material (the same material or you can switch it up and use two different patterns) to 9 inch by 9 inch squares. Cut out two additional 9x9 squares of batting. (I used some good thick batting. Ya don't want to burn your fingers, do you?)

Now, layer your squares in this order: Two sheets of batting...then place one square of your fabric right side up {that means the wrong side is touching the batting}) and then place your other piece of material on top of that, with the right side facing down. Now, pin your corners and center so it doesn't move around on ya.

Now...sew! I used a 1/2 inch seam allowance but now that I think about it, you can totally do a 1/4 inch seam and it will work just fine. But it's up to you. Sew all the way around your square, leaving about 2 inches in the middle of one side so that you can flip it inside out.




Then clip the excess edges on the corners into a diagonal so that you get good square edges when you turn it right side out.


So with the space that you left unsewn, flip it so that you have a nice puffy square, showing both pretty sides of the material, using the blunt edge of scissors or something to poke out the corners so they look nice and square.

Pin the edge of the small part left unsewn, and slip stitch across it to close the opening. Then, notice how much your hands look like your mother's hands...and how you really need to clip those cuticles...
Now, sew along the edges with 1/4 inch seam allowance (this means the material is right along the edge of the foot) all the way around the square. (The corner edges can get pretty thick. Just go slow.)


Now, starting on one diagonal, sew down the middle of the potholder, straight as you can, until you reach the opposite diagonal. Do the same with the other diagonal.


Clip your strings and you are done! You have yourself a potholder that you made in less than 10 minutes. Now, go make more. Who uses just one potholder?



...Or, tie them up with a ribbon and you've got a great gift to give someone. Come on! Everyone has old stained potholders that they are embarrassed by. They just don't admit it.


I used the same material that I had left over from making another purse. I couldn't help myself. I didn't want my other purse to be lonely at night...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Anyone wanna go on a road trip?

Check out the gas prices here.



We filled up our van, which was on empty, and it cost us less than 25 bucks. So cool. Heath's car was 14 bucks to fill up.

Wonder how long it will last?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hiking to Pikes Peak with the kids...(lots of pictures)

Well, the title is a little deceiving. Although Keaton told every single person that we met up with on the trail that "We are hiking to Pike's Peak and we're going to see the whole entire world!"...we did not make it that far. We only went about two miles up the trail, but it was enough for the kids. Well, who am I kidding. It was enough for me too. It's been a while since I've gone hiking.

We took a picture at the base of the trail.
It started off really cold. We were all bundled up in layers but we were freezing. I told Heath I thought it might be too cold for the kids, but he said it would warm up on the trail. He was right. Within 20 minutes we were shedding off our jackets.



I had to document myself on this trip too. Heath kept saying "Babes..put away the camera!" Georgie was walking at the start, but it wasn't long before she found a permanent place on her daddy's shoulders. I tried carrying her for about 20 seconds, then I put her down. I was glad Heath was willing to carry her.



If we came upon any trouble, there was no need to fear. We had the Sheriff with us.



Kamy was excited about the hiking trail.

Had to take a picture with Kolby. He loved hiking.
Georgie liked climbing all the rocks alongside the trail.

Someone offered to take a picture for us on the trail. It was a busy trail that day. We saw people passing us or going back down the trail just about every minute or so. Everyone was so nice to the kids, and thought it was great that we were out together as a family.


Then, we reached the top. Well, we reached the place where we were stopping, probably about 2 miles up. The kids were very tired, but energy quickly returned on the way down. They were flying down the trails!

Here's a short video from our trip. Not too exciting. There's no cool music to go with it, but it gives you an idea of the trail through the mountain.

video
..So, anyone wanna come visit us now?

Twilight Happenings...

So...we went.

While we were waiting outside the theater to go in, we met up with some teenie boppers. The girls were so excited about the movie, that it was oozing from them. Heath played up to it. He said "Aren't you sooooo excited to see this movie?"

The girls all smiled and said something like "Oh my gosh!! I've seen it, like, twice already. It is sooooo good!"

Heath: "The books are so great, aren't they? I mean...so cool. So who do you want Bella to end up with more? Edward or Jacob?"

Girls: "Oh, totally Edward!"

This went on for a little bit and I was trying not to laugh. It was so funny.

When we got in the theater, and the previews finished...the movie was about to start. I nudged Heath and dared him to, when the movie started, to stand up and start screaming for Edward. I don't think there were any other men there... It wasn't a packed theater, but we could hear all the teenagers behind us.

So, when it started, I hear Heath say with a major swooning voice: "Oh, Edward!" I don't know how many people heard him, but I thought it was pretty funny.

Then, after the movie (I'll talk about that in a minute...) the clean-up guys came in to get the room ready for the next showing, and he said to one guy "Dude, you totally missed the best movie ever! It was so great!" Then he gave him a big thumbs up and held it, with a huge smile on his face. I don't think the cleanup guy was very much interested in the movie.

Sometimes, my husband can be pretty funny. I loved it.

Ok, so the movie. Here are my quick thoughts for those of you who haven't seen it.

-Jasper's character was totally terrible. I mean...so bad. Just terrible.

-The actor who played Carlisle was awful. I think he was trying to ooze beauty and failed miserably. Also, he was really overdone with the makeup.

-Many special effects were severely lacking in quality and realism.

-I loved Victoria. I think they got her spot on. James did a great job too.

-The movie wasn't terrible. Just underfunded, I think. It could have been so much better.

-All the actors portraying high school students need to go take more acting classes.

-So, Heath liked it pretty well. I went into it with low expectations, and just enjoyed the movie for what it was.

-I hope future movies will be much much better.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tonight...

...Goin' on a date with the husband to see Twilight. I've read the books to him and he's excited to see the movie. (Not many movies can outrank a book in my mind, but I always enjoy seeing a new movie.) He thinks we'll see a lot of teenie boppers dressed up like the characters in the book. He even jokingly suggested that we wear costumes...

...He wants me to be a vamp because I am always cold.

The husband? He's going to dress up like Jacob. He'll be naked as can be, with some shorts tied around his ankle by a rope.

Can't wait to scrapbook that!

And of course, I'll be sporting my new cutie-patootie homemade purse!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Keaton's Note.

I guess his class has a snack time.

His teacher told him to write a note to his mom to let her know what a slacker she's been, letting her kid sit quietly in the class as his stomach rumbles while all his classmates eat the snack that their diligent mom's provided. (my own words interpreted by my poor mothering skills)

Today, he brought a snack.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Just call me "Mrs. Claus"

It's about time I told you...


...I've only just discovered this myself...

I'm getting old! I keep pulling out these thick stubborn white hairs! I'm 32 years old for goodness sake!! I wonder how many would be sprinkled throughout my hair if I didn't color my hair. Good grief! I'm getting wrinkles around my eyes when I smile (just look over to the right at my profile picture...at first I thought the lighting was playing a trick on me).
Heath is getting a sprinkling of gray hair himself...but his looks distinguished and sexy. I like it.
So what's a girl to do?
I know what this little girl wants to do...
Drink some hot chocolate. Yum.

See the determination? Even her tongue can't wait for more creamy goodness.

Then...a little rest on the chair while watching "Doe-waa" and "Doe Deego Doe"

It's a good life for those who don't have to pull handfuls of white hair outta their heads. Good thing I have such thick hair...

Lasagna Soup

This is a recipe I got from my friend Becky. She got it from Meals Matter. So if you're looking for more meal ideas, it's a good place to go.

As always, I have made my own variations to this dish. The original recipe is HERE...but here is my version of it.

1 lb. ground Italian sausage
1 Medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14-1/2 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz. ) can tomato sauce
1 (14-1/2 oz.) can beef broth
1 1/2 cups Water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons fresh chopped basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt and pepper, add more to taste
1 teaspoon thyme
3 cups dried mini lasagna noodles (American Beauty) or rotini pasta
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


Brown sausage, garlic, and chopped onions in a big soup pot. Drain if necessary. Add cans of diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir in beef broth, water, brown sugar and seasonings. Bring to a boil and add dry pasta. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. As the noodles cook in the sauce, it will get thicker and thicker. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Garnish each bowl with mozzarella cheese. Serves plenty for our family, plus seconds, plus leftovers. If the soup gets too thick, you can always add more water. I liked mine thick.


We served this soup with some garlic bread and it was so good. Everyone loved it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Andes Mint Cookies

These are so so easy and so so yummy!!

Take a Devils Food cake mix. Add 1/2 cup of oil and 2 eggs. Mix it all together. Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough onto your baking sheet and bake at 350 for about 8-10 minutes. No longer.

Remove the pan and while the cookies are cooling on the baking sheet, place an Andes mint on top of each cookie. In about 5 minutes, the mint will be melted. I like to take a spoon and smooth out the melted mint atop each cookie. Then...eat while it's still warm. It's ooey and gooey and so good.

Warning: The husband will try to eat all the mints before you are done making the cookies. Must. hide. mints!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I can't believe I made this all by myself!!

So today I had the bright idea to fold all my laundry that I had washed yesterday. I really need to get back to doing a load or two everyday so I don't have a mountain of clothes to sort through! Anyway, as I was checking my crafty blogs this morning, I came across a tutorial for a darn cute purse. I thought about it....then I thought some more....and amazingly enough, all memories of what I was supposed to be doing [ie: folding the mountain of laundry] vanished and I found myself deciding which of my limited supply of material would become a purse today.

Ladies and Gentlemen...I present to you my very first....homemade....stinkin' adorable....PURSE!


I still cannot believe that I made it all by myself! I didn't even need to ask my brilliant seamstress friends my usual "desperation" questions. I think I just might have turned into a gal that can sew all by herself!! Wow. This is cause for a celebration!!

When I decide to leave the house again...[I'm such a homebody], I'll for sure be sportin' my handy dandy homemade purse with pride!!



By the way, if you want to be totally cool like me, you can also get the free pattern, along with the greatest step by step instructions...HERE! Go for it. Ya know you wanna...

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Tale of the Underwater Homicide...

I often had fish for pets during my college years....usually Beta fish. They were cheap. They only needed a small container to house them in, and they all had such pretty colors. However, my last year of college I must have been more adventurous than before. I went with a different variety of fish...and I got two!

My fish were happy black fish and each were about the size of my thumb [...only they were fatter. I have really skinny fingers]. I named one fish Velvet and the other Suede. I gave lots of attention to Velvet and Suede. They became accustomed to my fishbowl-warped face peering in through the glass into their watery abode. I provided them with colorful plants to weave in and out of, and I believe I even had a little castle for them to enjoy. They especially loved it when I put my finger in the water. They would swim around along the top of the bowl and allow me to stroke their wet bodies back and forth. Yes. Happy was the life of Velvet and Suede.

Until that fateful day...

...I awoke early for school that day. No time to waste when you have a 7am class waiting for you. However, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to give my lovelies a little stroke across their fish bodies before I headed out the door. I placed my fingertip just inside the water and waited for my fish to greet me. Velvet came up to the surface and I felt his little fins gently waft past my fingertip. I waited. Where was Suede?

I peeked down in the bowl to discover where Suede could possibly be hiding. He was not playing peek-a-boo in the plant. He was not resting in the window of his castle. He was not swimming along the edge of the bowl. He was not in the bowl at all!

How could this be? What had happened to Suede?

Then...to my horror, I see a little dark shape at the foot of the table. There sat my sweet little Suede. His poor fins were still. Not even struggling to move in this strange world of air and carpet.

I scooped him up quickly and put him back in his bowl of life-giving water. I watched. He didn't move around. He calmly floated around, bumping into the side of the wall, his beloved castle, and his pretty plant. Velvet stayed at the bottom of the bowl, as if trying to keep his distance from his brother.

I was going to be late for my class, so with a whisper of well wishes, I turned around and walked out the door. I thought of my sweet fish the whole day. It wasn't until later that evening, when I came home, that I realized what had happened...

Velvet: "I was always jealous of Suede. Suede had a longer top fin that flowed ever so nicely in the soft water. Suede was much faster [probably due to that longer fin] and often was the first to meet the human fingers atop the water to get some lovely stroking action. Unless I happened to be waiting at the top, he was first to get the food that sprinkled from above, and always got himself the biggest of the flakes. What an annoying pig.

"However, the biggest gripe I had with Suede was his name. Yes. His name: Suede. Doesn't that just scream quality? We all know that Velvet is just a knock-off. It's like a hot dog...just a bunch of leftovers...processed into something...and then sold at a cheap price. Oh, how I hated Suede!

"I waited until the humans had turned off the lights. At that point, I knew I would have a few hours before any of them noticed what had happened. By then, it would be too late! I started swimming casually until the soft lull of the water rocked Suede to sleep. Without disrupting him, I increased my speed, little by little, until I was circling the bowl faster than Suede had ever swam! Two more laps, and Suede will have floated into just the right position....One more lap....here I go!

"I pushed into Suede with all my built up momentum, sending him flying away, filled with my inertia. The force of the hit carried him up, out of the water, and onto the table that supported our home. Well...my home now.

"I watched Suede struggle and flop around on the table, trying with all his might to get back into the water. Guess that extra long fin won't help you now, I thought. With all his flopping, he moved closer and closer to the edge of the table until....down he went. I could no longer see him. He was gone. Never again would I have to suffer with my inadequacies next to him. I was free! Free to be the fish I had always wanted to be....

...And that, my friends, is the true tale of the underwater homicide.

Philly Cheesesteak

When I was in college, I worked at this restaurant that made philly cheesesteaks. During that time, I learned how to chop onions, green peppers, and mushrooms really really well! I also learned how to make their signature sandwiches. Pretty cool.

So get yourself some steak and ask your Butcher at the grocery store to slice it really thin (or you can get your husband to slice it for you...which is what I did.) I don't really know what kind of steak I bought, but make sure it's a good quality steak with no bones in it. After it was sliced up, the husband went through and chopped it up so we had little bits instead of big strips. Easier to eat that way.

We seasoned our meat with some Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and garlic, then we browned it up in a skillet with just a bit of oil at the bottom so it wouldn't stick. Set that aside.

Chop up onions, green bell pepper (I used a red bell pepper because I like them better) and mushrooms (I left these out. Not a fan.) nice and small. Bring out your sliced provolone cheese and your cream cheese. Get some water in a cup or a squirt bottle ready. Get your tomatoes sliced and your Hoagie rolls open and ready.

Now...take a handful of onions, a handful of mushrooms, and a handful of bell pepper (or whatever combination you like). Put them in your skillet and squirt water around your pile so that the veggies can steam cook. After a few minutes, when the onions are clear and cooked through, add a handful of your meat. Take a scoop of cream cheese and add it to your mixture. Work it around a bit with a spatula, adding more squirts of water if you need to, and get it all incorporated. Put a slice of provolone on top, squirt the sides with a bit of water to get it steam melted, and then you are done!

Put some slices of tomatoes in your roll if you like them, and scoop in your filling mixture. It should be gooey and cheesie and look really really yummy. Now....EAT!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lots of recipes coming...

I've got a lot of new recipes to post for you, but I need to get ready for church now. For those of you who don't know, I studied sign language for a number of years, and even became an interpreter for a while. I never felt up to par, but I always always enjoyed the language. Anyway, there is a deaf couple in our new ward at church. They have three hearing boys. I will be interpreting for them today. I'm terribly nervous. I haven't really signed in over four years. I'm hoping it comes back to me quickly. I hate feeling inadequate.

I hope I do a good job. Did I mention I'm nervous?

Friday, November 14, 2008

I sent my kids to school like this:





You can't tell in the picture but it's really swirling around out there. The wind is blowing and the snow is going! My kids were so excited; their first official snow is here! They've got their puffy jackets on, their scarfs, hats, and gloves. What a fun day for them.


Kolby wanted to walk to school with them too. He'll have to wait a few hours.


Georgie will have to wait a few years.


However, we will all get to eat lunch today at school. Today is Turkey Day and they are having a full blown feast at school. We all have tickets to eat lunch. Families are included. The only minor complication I have, is that all the grades eat at different times. That means, in order for my kids to have a parent eat with each of them, I was going to have to buy lots of meal tickets for myself and Georgie! But I think I outsmarted the system. We will have one meal with each kid, and Georgie and I will share it. By the end of the lunch day, we will be stuffed, for sure.

Hope everyone has a fabulous Friday!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Heath's journey to the top of the world!

Pikes Peak is the most visited mountain in the United States, and the next most visited in the world, second to Mt. Fuji in Japan. It stands over 14,000 feet high and boasts the longest hiking trail of any of the magnificent Colorado Mountains. The trail from the base of the mountain to the summit is 14 miles. Last weekend, Heath decided to go for it. "Pikes Peak or Bust!"


He went with a friend from work and although their goal wasn't to climb to the top, it was still a day full of fatigue. About 7 miles into the climb is a camp called "Barr Camp". This camp was the destination for the day. With snow already atop the mountain, we thought it wise to wait until summer to conquer that feat.
One feature about this camp is that it is often used as a stopover campground for people of all ages to rest for the night, have a big spaghetti dinner, refill their water, sleep on cots, and wake up to the smell of pancakes before finishing their journey to the summit. Heath really wants us to do this together next year. He doesn't hold much faith in my hiking abilities, but he didn't know how much hiking I did during my youth. Second nature to me. I really do love it....just haven't done it in a few years! As much as I love hiking in the mountains, I'm looking forward to warmer temperatures before I make that particular hike!

Anyway, Heath climbed up to the Barr Camp and then back down last Saturday. He had a great time. It was 7 miles up and 7 miles down. Here are a few pictures from his journey.
Starting off...temperatures are still pleasant.
Getting closer to Pikes Peak with every step.
Getting closer and closer....
Here is the walkway up to the Barr Camp. Even though it didn't have snow yet, the streams were completely frozen over.


Heath said he was so happy to see that camp!



Then they headed back down the mountain after one last look at the city below.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What's a Cowgirl without her....COW!


I had the cow print material left over. I couldn't resist. Actually, I should have. The cow didn't turn out that well, despite my lack of sewing talent hard work. I didn't have a pattern. That was probably my first mistake!! I had all these great ideas in my head of how it would turn out. Didn't happen that way! Anyway, Georgie likes her. We have a new cow added to the family. I think I'll just stick with making the little dolls!

Secondly, Keaton really wanted a doll after he saw Kolby's "Max" doll. So....meet "Sam".

Lastly...I really did really really really get sick of my hair and I got it cut today. Thank you for all your compliments and ideas for my hair. It wasn't just in a rut. My hair just doesn't work long anymore. It took way to long every morning to do it and the end result wasn't making me feel cute. So, here is the before picture:



And here is an after picture. It looks so much cuter in person. I feel better and sassier already.


Keaton said "You look like a new momma!"