Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Autumn Gift Tags ... Blank, Young Women, & Visiting Teachers

Enjoy some autumn gift tags ....  save to your computer & then print at home on photo paper.  Each tag is about 2-3/4" x 2-3/4".  You can play around with the size of the individual tags a little bit.

I printed some tags and attached them to some small Mulled Cider candles that I found at Wal-Mart for $1 each.  Great little gift!!

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween!


Happy Haunting!!

... from our nest to yours!!

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Friday, October 29, 2010

A Little Something for Your Nest - a PNG Bird

  • Save bird to your computer
  • Open Photoshop & create a new layer. Open bird in PS.
  • Move Tool - use to move bird onto your scrapbook page (put the bird on it's own layer) ... or whatever project you are working on. 
  • If you want to color it in, choose a foreground color and fill the bird with that color using your "paint bucket tool".

I know that may be confusing to some, so please let me know if you need further assistance. :)

I used this bird on THESE scrapbook pages.  I added a white border around my birdies to make them look like a sticker, which I can teach you to do as well, if anyone is interested.  I can also give a better tutorial if anyone is interested.

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French Fridays with Dorie: Marie-Helene's Apple Cake

Another GREAT recipe!!  This cake was outstanding.  Perfect amount of fruit with moist, almost custard-like cake.  I loved trying it with the different varieties of apples.  I think it would work just fine with one variety of apple, but the subtle differences in flavors and textures added something special to this cake.

We ate our cake with vanilla ice cream (which I HIGHLY recommend!), right out of the oven.  I definitely liked this cake best straight from the oven.  While it was warm, it had a crusty/crispy top and I loved how the ice cream melted and seeped into all the crevices.

The next morning, I gave some cake to my kids for breakfast and it quickly disappeared.  Without the ice cream and with a couple variations, this cake could make a special breakfast treat.

I used a 9" springform pan and made 1+1/2 the recipe.  I used 5 apples (instead of 6) because one apple was rather large and after reading other reviews, I didn't want my cake to have too much apple.  The apples I used were Jonathan, Granny Smith, Gala, Crisp Pink, and one unknown apple.  I substituted rum with apple cider and added an extra 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.  Even though I changed some things up, I still baked it for the recommended baking time ... around 55 minutes.

My hubby suggested a variation to this recipe.  I already have all my ingredients for his idea, so after I do some testing, I will report. :)

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

August 2007

August 2007 .. the month Turkey was supposed to be born.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Personal Progress Online

The Young Women Personal Progress program can now be done & tracked online.  What a wonderful tool for all the girls, leaders, & parents who are excited about using technology.  As leaders, we have been challenged to work with our Young Women and work towards earning the Young Womanhood Recognition ... even if we earned it already as teenagers.  As leaders, our requirements are a little easier.  (For those of you who are unfamiliar with the YW Womanhood Recognition, it is comparable to the Eagle award in the scouting program.)

I started working on my Personal Progress the second time around (the first time being when I was a teenager) back in 2002.  I know I worked on some goals while living in Pittsburgh, but I didn't record any of my accomplishments.  Tonight, for the first time in years, I cracked open my Personal Progress book.  The YW President in our ward challenged one of my laurels and me to finish Knowledge Value Experience #1 before Sunday.  Easy-peasy.

While relaxing in bed, I read 10-12 scriptures on the topic of knowledge and then wrote about what I had learned in my journal.  I then quickly discussed my feelings and what I had read with my hubby.  My favorite scripture was Doctrine & Covenants 130:18-19 ... "18 - Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. 19 - And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come."  What a comforting promise to know that all the time and effort we put forth into bettering ourselves will be recognized in the eternities. 

Now I need to work on Knowledge Value Experience #2 ... I am supposed to learn a new skill or talent that will help me with my family or in my home ... budgeting, cooking, sewing, singing, time management, etc.  I have a couple ideas in mind ....

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Young Women Manual 2 Lesson 40: Self-Mastery

Yesterday I taught Young Women lesson 40 from manual 2: Self-Mastery.  I began my lesson with a stack of canned food on my table.  I used the little scenerio from Angela's Lesson Helps, but instead of putting chains on a doll (I don't have many chains lying around my house!), I had one of my girls fill a backpack with canned food. 

For quick reference, here is the scenerio that I got from Angela's Lesson Helps:

"The other day at school during lunch she and her friends were gossiping about this girl in their history class. Then she went home from school and knew she had a ton of homework and chores to do, but decided to sit in front of the TV all day. Then that night on the phone with her friend she used a bad word (which had been coming out of her mouth more and more lately). Her mother asked her if she had finished all her homework and she told her mom “yes” even though she hadn’t. She went to bed late and was too tired to wake up for seminary and so she just slept through it. She wasn’t prepared for her test, so she ended up cheating off the kid that she sat next to."

Instead of making a poster with this statement...

We sow our (thoughts), we reap our (actions)

We sow our (actions), we reap our (habits)

We sow our (habits), we reap our (character)

We sow our (character), we reap our (destiny)

... I just wrote the phrase on the chalkboard before class (leaving blank spaces where we would need to fill-in the words) and then randomly put the following word stips on the chalkboard with magnets.

Here are the word strips with a shadowed block letter font:

Man 2 Lesson 40 Self Mastery Chalkboard Activity

If you are teaching this lesson close to Halloween, here are the same word strips with a Frankenstin font:  :)

Man 2 Lesson 40 Self Mastery Chalkboard Activity 2

I used THIS super cute handout that I found on Sugardoodle's website.  You can print the handout as a 4x6 or there is also a page of handouts available.  The available page of handouts didn't work for my needs,  so I made my own page of handouts:

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Friday, October 22, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Hachis Parmentier

My mom, who is also participating in FFwD, made her hachis parmetier on Monday so that everyone who stopped into the house on Monday could try some of her food.  My kids all enjoyed her hachis parmetier, but my son really packed it in.  I dished some out for myself but ended up not eating any of the meat.  I did like the flavors and wanted more of the mashed potatoes.

I was determined to figure out a  way to do a non-meat version of hachis parmentier.  I boiled carrots, celery, cabbage, and mushrooms in some broth until they were tender and then drained them from the broth.  I put all my cooked veggies into a skillet with a couple teaspoons of tomato paste and kept them warm while I made my mashed potatoes.  I don't ever peel my potatoes, but I did this time cause I thought chunks of peel would not be very pretty on top of my casserole.

After my potatoes were mashed & seasoned, I put all my veggies in the bottom of a 9x13" pan and then topped the veggies with my mashed potatoes.  I used sharp cheddar and Swiss cheese on top of my potatoes.  I baked my casserole in the oven to give my cheese that crusty top.

The verdict: my version was OK.  It didn't have the yummy flavors that my mom's dish had, but I would definitely make the mashed potatoes with the cheese on top again.  I think the cheesy mashed potatoes would make a terrific side dish for a meal when you don't want to make gravy ... like grilled fish.  So, the potatoes with cheese on top is a keeper for me!!  Glad I played around and tried something new again.

As a side note, if you like pot roast, I think you'll love this recipe.  My hubby is a big fan of pot roast & veggies and he LOVED my mom's hachis parmentier with the meat.

Read the results of other cooks HERE.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hi-Hat Cupcakes

... a bit of a project

... don't expect to go from start to finish in a couple hours

... but they are SSOO worth the work!

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Green Bee Produce Co-Op

I've recently started using a local co-op that, so far, I've been happy with, so I thought I'd share their information in case it is something that you might like to try as well.  I've been using Green Bee Produce.  They have pick-up days Monday through Friday at various times, but mostly in the afternoon/evening hours ... perfect for Mom's who are playing taxi driver in the afternoons.  The majority of their pick-up locations are in Gilbert, Mesa, & Chandler, but you can view their locations & possibly find one close to you. (Queen Creek, Scottsdale, Tempe, etc are also available.)

I order the Bee Box Classic for my family and it lasts about a week ... sometimes 10 days.  As an example of what comes in a Classic box ... one time I got a large head of romaine lettuce, 4-5 Roma tomatoes, head of cabbage, head of cauliflower, celery, 5 bananas, about 4 apples, 2 mangos, 2 pomegranates, a couple bunches of green onions, a couple zucchini squash, 4 large navel oranges ... and I might be forgetting another item or two.  You can also order and pick up your fresh bread for the week ... Green Bee gets their bread from the Whole Grain Natural Bread Co in Mesa, AZ.  This week you can choose from white or whole wheat rolls, a couple different kinds of whole wheat breads, as well as pumpkin & banana breads.  Another item I like to get from Green Bee is their fresh salsa pac.  It's not something that I need to order every week, but I get all the fresh ingredients that I need to make salsa plus yummy tortillas.  Dog food, granola and other rotating items are also available.

One of my favorite perks of the co-op ... I drive into the parking lot and open my van door and they put everything into my car for me.  I don't have to get out of my car ... I don't have to bribe children to be good while I'm grocery shopping ... and I don't have to touch a grimy cart!

I also appreciate that there is no commitment.  I can choose when I want to place an order ... so I can place an order every week, once a month, or whatever suits my needs.  I can also choose different pick-up days, locations, etc each time I place an order.

Check out THIS BLOG ... she estimates how much money she saves by using Green Bee Co-op.

Anyone tried any other co-ops? Opinions? Thoughts?

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

AZVA Pancake Breakfast

Penguin's cyber school, Arizona Virtual Academy (K-12), had a free all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast this morning.  They had numerous locations all over the state to choose from, but we opted to go for a little drive and attend the breakfast in Casa Grande.  My kids L-O-V-E breakfast food, so they were in heaven when they saw chocolate chip pancakes, chocolate milk, french toast, scrambled eggs, hash browns, fruit, and tons of other fixings and sides to go along with their breakfast.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Young Women Manual 2 Lesson 39: Preventing Disease

Yesterday I taught all the Young Women in my ward lesson 39 from manual 2, Preventing Disease.  I must admit that I didn't have the greatest attitude about this lesson.  I think because of the circumstances of the girls I teach and the conveniences we are blessed with (like clean, running water), the basics of this lesson are a nice reminder, but not something that I felt we needed to spend an hour going over.  But I felt like we could maybe go more in depth on a few topics.

Toward the beginning of my lesson, I showed this video:

CDC Video Player. Flash Player 9 is required. CDC Video Player. Flash Player 9 is required.

I felt like the video gave some good tips and reminders.  All of the videos on the Center for Disease Control website can be downloaded to a computer, laptop or portable devices such as an i-pod.  I believe that their videos are set-up so that if you play it once on your laptop (or another portable device) and then leave the website up, you don't need an internet connection to watch the video again.  CDC-TV has a wide variety of videos available ... Everything from the flu to vaccines to exercising to violence.  You may want to take a few minutes to watch a few videos and choose the one that best suits the needs of the girls you will be teaching.

I used the following word strips for the "chalkboard discussion":

Man 2 Lesson 39 Preventing Disease Chalkboard Activity PDF

Towards the end of the lesson, I had my husband (he's a dentist) come in to talk about proper brushing, flossing & oral hygiene.  He brought props, photographs of healthy & unhealthy mouths, etc.  If you have a dentist, dental hygienist, or dental assistant in your ward, they could do something similar for your lesson.  Or if you don't want to take the dental route, a nurse, OB/GYN, and others in a health profession might be an interesting addition to your lesson.

My husband started his presentation with this quiz ... feel free to use it, too, if you'd like:

Man 2 Lesson 39 Preventing Disease Dental Quiz

Here are the answers to his quiz:

Man 2 Lesson 39 Preventing Disease Dental Quiz - Answer Key

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Friday, October 15, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Vietnamese Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup

I think I tried to make too many changes to Dorie's recipe to meet my needs.  The recipe just did not turn-out for me as I had hoped. 

On Tuesday night, my mother & I went to Lee Lee's Oriental Supermarket to shop for some of the ingredients for the chicken noodle soup.  I should've stayed home.  I don't know what it is about the ethnic grocery stores around here, but they are somewhat filthy & stinky.  I recently visited a local Mexican grocery store, which ended-up being a complete waste of time and money because all I could think about as I sat down to eat my food, was how unsanitary the store was where my food came from.  This became somewhat of an issue for me again with the soup.  Even though everything was cooked, my stomach was churning from all the strange sights and smells of Lee Lee's.

Another issue is that I don't eat much meat. I did use a nice organic chicken broth from Trader Joe's and it smelled really good with the spices and coconut milk, but I didn't poach a chicken or put shredded chicken into my soup. I used more noodles, but after making the soup, I wished that I would've replaced the chicken with some veggies ... maybe some carrots, celery, and a couple other veggies that go well with chicken noodle soups.

I ended up using soy sauce instead of fish sauce.  My mom picked out some fish sauce from Lee Lees. An Asian man in the store was laughing at us for buying it ... not very reassuring! My mom shared some with me, but I just couldn't bring myself to use the fish sauce after seeing the floaties and reading the ingredients label.  I also left out anything that might make the soup too spicy for my young children.  Overall, my version was quite bland, but that was probably entirely my fault.

I did like the lime & coconut milk in the soup.  My husband ate two bowls of the soup and my daughter (Peacock) kept telling me that the soup was SOO yummy!  I think my family thought my version of the soup was OK.  If I were to make this again, I'd have to find a way to jazz it up with some veggies and possibly even more lime juice &/or soy sauce.  It was fun to try something different that I wouldn't have normally made for dinner.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Trader Joe's Unsweetened Baking Chocolate

My mom recommended this chocolate to me and I'm going to recommend it to you.  Trader Joe's has great chocolate!  They now carry these unsweetened baking chocolate discs.  6 discs = 1 ounce.  No need for a kitchen scale.  I used a bunch in a cupcake recipe and then polished off the rest in our hot cocoa the other morning.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hot Cocoa Kind of Morning

Fall is finally in the air here in Phoenix!  Well, kinda.  Today it got close to 100* ... blah.  But the mornings have been somewhat chilly.  Saturday morning, Hubby & I got to enjoy our breakfast with just the babies. (Maybe it's time to stop calling them "the babies"???  They are both 3 years old now.)  Since it was cool enough in the house, we made our first pot of hot cocoa for the season.  I think the babies enjoyed our yummy breakfast treat.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

from Around My French Table: Gerard's Mustard Tart Part Two

I wanted to try some mustard tarts with different veggies.  I made the dough in my food processor.  It was actually my first attempt at making pie dough in a food processor.  I used the dough blade and followed Dorie's instructions for making a tart dough, but my ingredients didn't seem to come together.  I finally dumped everything out of the food processor and finished combining the ingredients with my hands ... trying to handle the dough as little as possible.  At this point, I was already having a lot of doubts about my dough turning-out well.  I left it to chill in the fridge and when it was time to roll out, I had major issues with getting the dough to roll-out nicely & then it was nearly impossible to get it into my tart pan without it breaking & tearing.  My dough was definitely too dry. It was a good thing my children were napping or else they might of seen their mother flipping-out ... I was totally frustrated and mumbling Cruella Deville type phrases under my breath ..."Blast this dough! Blast this wretched, wretched dough!!!" (While banging the dough with the rolling pin....)

I moved on to my filling....

I made one tart with a couple varieties of tomatoes & fresh basil:

And a second tart with leftover carrots, leeks, tomatoes & mushrooms:

After baking, I took both tarts over to my mom's house for everyone to try.  The crust wasn't good ... too dry, but it was fun trying the different fillings.  My husband's favorite was the tomato and basil tart and my mom liked that one as well.  The basil & mustard together were too many strong flavors for me.  I liked the tart with mushrooms better but I've always loved eggs and mushrooms together.  My mom liked the mushrooms, too.  I used one tablespoon less of mustard in each tart, but did not miss any of the mustard flavor.

My sweet & patient mother then gave me a lesson making pie dough in the food processor.  One of my biggest mistakes was probably not using the regular blade cause the dough blade that I had attempted to use wasn't cutting my butter.  My mom also added 2 teaspoons more of ice water than the recipe called for, but she said when she made her first batch of dough for our original mustard tarts, her eggs must've been larger because she was worried about that dough being too wet.  It was nice to be able to touch and play with the dough a little in between my mom adding more water.  I have sinced turned that dough into a butterscotch-banana cream pie.

Now just for fun ... Cruella is WAY better in Russian!!

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Monday, October 11, 2010

EVMCO: All the Bells on Earth Shall Ring

Tickets went on sale October 1, 2010 for the East Valley Mormon Chorale Organization's upcoming Christmas concert.  I know it may seem a little early to start thinking about buying your tickets, but if you are looking to stay within a certain price point, now is the time to buy.  The less expensive seats will sell the fastest!

We will be performing two shows on Saturday, December 4th:   5:00 & 7:30pm

You can visit or for more information.  Children 5 years of age and older are welcome and encouraged to come.  Concert hall attire is requested.

Tickets range from $13-33 for both shows & I believe if you buy your tickets at the box office, you will have fewer service fees to pay.

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Family {Halloween} Movie Night

Our family has a hard time getting together on Monday nights for Family Night.  Mondays are my hubby's late day, so he often works until 8, 9, or 10pm which means the kids are often in bed by the time he gets home on Mondays.  On the weekends, Hubby & I usually enjoy a movie or two after the kids are in bed, but tonight we decided to have a family movie night earlier in the evening.  Hubby & I choose the movie ... one that I used to watch over & over again as a teenager ... Disney's Watcher in the Woods!  Perfect for the Halloween season!

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Friday, October 8, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Gerard's Mustard Tart

This week I had an open evening that I don't normally have, so after hubby walked in the door from work, I quickly ditched him & the kiddies and headed over to my mom's house so we could try Gerard's Mustard Tart recipe together.

My mom purchased these mustards earlier in the week:

I am a mustard girl.  I can't eat a sandwich without mustard, I dip my fries in mustard, and when I was a young school girl, my mom often packed my lunch with my favorite sandwich ... "Mustard Sandwich" ... just a slice of bread with mustard on it.  BUT I enjoy my mustard in the plain, ol' regular variety.  I strongly despise "deli" mustard that's made with horseradish ... that stuff isn't meant for humans!  I also had a somewhat gross/funny experience with Grey Poupon in high school, so I've steered clear of the stuff since my sophomore year. Despite my love affair with mustard, I was really worried about not liking the results of this recipe because the recipe called for mustards that were not within my comfort zone. 

My mom & I cautiously opened the jars of mustard, took a few quick sniffs from afar, and we both slowly moved-in on the mustards realizing that they didn't smell that bad after all.  Now that we were feeling a little bit better about the mustards, we started chopping our leeks & carrots into matchsticks.  We steamed our veggies with a sprig of rosemary.  Rosemary ... another item I was somewhat worried about ... the smell and flavor it added was very subtle though.  Just perfect.  The aroma was actually quite comforting.  The leeks made the kitchen smell like a pot roast in the oven on a Sunday afternoon.

My mom had actually made & chilled the crust dough ahead of time, so all I had to do was roll it out & get it into the tart pan that I had chosen.  The dough rolled out very nicely and I had no problems getting it into my tart pan.  I trimmed the dough where I had excess so that the edges hung down and just barely touched the countertop.  I then took the excess dough and folded it back inside the tart shell & pressed it to the sides which made the sides of my shell twice as thick.  I would definitely use this technique again because it made the crust look very nice and I was thankful for that little bit of extra reinforcement.

I stuck with the original recipe and just used leeks and carrots with heavy cream in my tart.  Before going into the oven:

My baked mustard tart:

My mom's baked tart with leeks, carrots, Chinese eggplant, & tomatoes:

We were anxious to see how our tarts turned out.  Both tarts slipped right out of the tart pans and the crusts looked beautiful:

Then came the moment of truth.  My mom and I each got ourselves a slice of both tarts.  I sat down with a large glass of water ... I was still worried about how these tarts were going to taste.  I stared at my plate for a minute and then took a small bite.  For the second week in a row, I was very pleasantly surprised.  It was delicious!  The mustards were perfect, there were no hard pieces of mustard grains, and the crust ... THE CRUST!! .... the crust was A-mazing!!!  Flaky & perfect.  I'll tell you what ... this cookbook was worth buying just for the crust recipe!  My mom & I had even talked (while our tarts were in the oven) about using a pre-made crust next time since this wasn't a "special dessert", but after tasting the crust, we both quickly changed our minds and agreed that making the crust was well worth-it! (It wasn't hard or time consuming ... it just requires some planning.) A mustard tart with mushrooms and tomatoes would make a wonderful breakfast or brunch. I thought it would be nice to make the tart in a square or rectangular shaped tart pan and then cut it into 2x2" pieces for an appetizer or finger-food.

As I write, I have more chilled dough & veggies in my fridge.  My plan is to make two more mustard tarts for dinner tonight.  I'm going to try one with tomatoes & basil.  I will keep you posted on my results.

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