Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Spelling City

Spelling City is one of our favorite home-schooling websites, but it's a great resource for all students.  You can create your own spelling lists for the week or insert the spelling lists that your child brings home from school.  The website then uses the words in games, quizzes, and other fun activities to help students of all ages learn their spelling words.  My Penguin is never disappointed when it's time to "play" on Spelling City.

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Last Minute Offer

I'm making a last-minute run to the Gammage Box Office sometime Wed (9/1/10) morning.  If you are interested in a ticket without all the Ticketmaster fees, please contact me asap.  Let me know what you want & if you promise to pay me back, I get you some tickets.   For more details, check-out my previous posts about the upcoming world premiere of Lamb of God ... here & here.

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Monday, August 30, 2010

How to Irritate a Birth Mother ....

I recently came across this very enlightening :) blog post that I wanted to share with my readers.  I agree with her (the author of this post) that most people don't try to offend, but sometimes they do, esp when feelings are already tender.   Enjoy!

How To Irritate a Birth Mother

I love being a birth mother. Knowing that I helped to create an eternal family, that my sweet baby won’t want for anything including a father, means the world to me. Adoption is such an amazing thing and I am blessed to have it (and Roo) in my life.

But there are times when I wish I didn’t feel the burden of responsibility, the need to educate the world about adoption. I wish I didn’t have to be an adoption myth buster and tell people why they shouldn’t ask the questions they do.

I believe that for the most part, most people are mostly good. I know that people don’t mean to offend me or other birth mothers when they say the things they do. But the fact remains that they have offended me, or bothered me, or irritated me, or made me want to smack them.

I know that there are a number of similar such lists floating around the internet, but I feel the need to add my two cents’ worth. So here is my list of things one shouldn’t say to a birth mother.

1. “Didn’t you want her?”

“Are you serious?” is how I always want to respond to this. I don’t know a single birth mother who didn’t want her baby. I wanted Roo more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my life. If I had to choose between breathing and Roo, Roo would win every time. I wanted her, and I do want her, and I love her. But this wasn’t about me or what I wanted. It couldn’t be. It had to be about what was best for Roo, and adoption was it.

2. “I could never do that.”

This one is infamous in the adoption world. I think this of all statements is the one that most would consider harmless. But when I hear that, I want to ask, “Why? Why couldn’t you do that? Wouldn’t you want the best for your baby?” So often the tone in which it is said implies that the birth mother has erred or acted impulsively or been careless, or that she did it because she doesn’t love her child. Adoption is not a choice made lightly or impulsively, and it is certainly not made because of a lack of love. Adoption *is* love. As my friend Tamra says, if I’d loved my baby just an ounce less, I would have kept her. I placed her because I love her.

I also liked Tamra’s advice to me on dealing with this comment. She said to tell people, “No, you probably couldn’t,” in a tone that implies that I am a much stronger person than they are.

If you would say to a birth mom, “I could never do that” to try to tell her that you admire her strength and courage, consider phrasing it differently. Just tell her that you admire her strength and courage and that you can’t imagine how hard it must have been for her.

3. “I’m sure you did what was best for you.”

Someone actually said this to me and I wanted to hurt them. Does anyone really, truly believe that I chose adoption for my sake? It wasn’t best for me. What was best for me was keeping and parenting the daughter I loved so very much. Placing her was hell for me, certainly not best for me. If it was about me, I’d still be a single mother. I did what was best for Roo. Period.

4. “Will she call you mom when she’s older?”

Of course not. Why would she? I’m not her mother. M is her mother. She can call me whatever she wants to. “Jill” would work just fine.

5. “Won’t she be confused about who her mom is, having you in her life?”

Well, let’s see. One of us will feed her, dress her, bathe her, read to her, sing songs with her, play with her, teach her, give her hugs and kisses and tend to her boo-boos and take her to primary and listen when she talks and make sure she’s happy and healthy and smart, be married to Roo’s father and live in the same home, in short, be her mother; and one of us will … visit from time to time. Nope, sorry, I don’t see any confusion there.

Roo will know that she grew in my tummy before she was born, and that I made sure she got to her mommy and daddy. I don’t think she will ever, for a second, be confused about exactly who is her mother.

Going along with that question, people will opine that openness must surely mess with a child’s identity and sense of self. Well, how on earth does having more people in Roo’s life who love her, mess with her? You can’t spoil a child with love. Roo has two families who love her. She will know exactly who she is. Studies show that open adoption is mutually beneficial. All members of the adoption triad find peace and joy in openness.

6. “Oh, you took the easy way out.”

This is another statement that makes me want to hurt the speaker. There hasn’t been a single easy thing about adoption. I didn’t place Roo because being her mother was too hard. Being a mother wasn’t something I wanted out of! What was hard was placing her for adoption. I have never felt sorrow and despair so deep as I did when I drove home from LDSFS without Roo in the car. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and the pain nearly undid me. Don’t think for one second that adoption is the easy way out. It’s not easy and it’s not an out.

7. “Well, now that she’s been adopted, you can get back to being young and having fun.”

Oh, honestly. I couldn’t believe it when someone said that to me. Did they really think that I placed Roo because she was interfering with my social life? I would take Roo over fun and youth in a second. But I can’t have Roo. So I go out with friends instead. That doesn’t mean I placed her so I could go out and have fun.

8. “You made the right decision.” (said with an air of judgmental superiority)

Well, thanks. I’m sure glad to know that you thought I made the wrong decision when I single parented for nine weeks. And thanks for judging me and deciding what’s right for me and my baby, too. Because that was totally your call to make.

Adoption was the right decision for Roo, but not right away, and I don’t think that it’s the right decision for everyone. When someone says this to me, I wonder what they say to single mothers, women who chose parenting over adoption. “You made the wrong decision”? How rude and judgmental!

Yes, I made the right decision for Roo. But the rightness of it was for me to determine, and I don’t need anyone else to confirm it for me.

9. “You know, you could have sold her for millions! People will pay a killing for a healthy white baby.”

People will say this jokingly, but it always makes me sick. A child is not a commodity to be bought and sold. I didn’t place her for any kind of physical gain and I never, ever would. No one should. Period.

10. “Will she know that you’re her real mom?”

Sorry, I’m not her “real” mom. M is. And what’s a real mom, anyway? I didn’t place Roo with a family of cardboard cutouts. Calling me Roo’s real mom implies that M is … what, her fake mom? Uh-uh. I am Roo’s birth mother, not her real mother. Same goes for the phrase “natural mother.” What constitutes an unnatural mother? There’s a lot of negative adoption language out there I’d like to change, like …

11. “Oh, what made you decide to give your baby away?”

Excuse me, but I didn’t give her away. I didn’t put up an ad on Craigslist, “I’m giving away my baby, does anyone want her?” I placed her for adoption, but I certainly didn’t and wouldn’t ever give her away. I gave her a family. People who ask this question always want to know when P and M will tell Roo that she’s “not really theirs.” That’s funny. I was under the impression that she was really theirs. Hmm. That’s news to me! Whose is she then?

I’m sure I’ve neglected to mention a few other words and phrases that I loathe hearing, but this is the list for now. One last thing that bothers me is how many people pretend I never had Roo at all. So many people ask how I’ve been, but so few ever think to ask how Roo is doing. I don’t want to ignore those 9 weeks of my life. They are precious and wonderful. I had a baby, and I placed her for adoption. Please don’t pretend none of it happened!

And for the record, I think the best thing to say to a birth mother is, “What a brave woman you are. You must love your baby so much to have done that for her.” And leave it at that, folks, unless she wants to talk.
Our first family photo with Peacock.  Just 24 hours before this photo was taken, we knew nothing about baby Peacock.  It was a whirlwind adventure and you'll have to excuse our appearance cause we had just climbed out of the car after a 10+hr drive, it was late at night, and, as you can imagine, we were kinda in shock!

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lamb of God Ticket Info

Thursday night we had a very intense rehearsal with the EVMCO.  I was SO tired & grouchy by the time I got home ... and starving cause I hadn't really eaten all day.  Usually when I get home from rehearsal, I feel like I have to wind-down a bit, but not after Thursday night ... I was ready to fall over.  Saturday morning we rehearsed more.

The music that we will be performing for the Lamb of God is some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard in my life.  Everyone is working so hard to pull together this concert in such a short amount of time.  It is going to be a very powerful evening.  I get goosebumps and chills just sitting in rehearsal.

Tickets are $6-$15 + a $3.50 Gammage fee.  If you'd like to come & haven't bought tickets yet, here are a couple way to do so....

  • visit Gammage Box Office, 10 am - 6 pm M-F, corner of Mill Ave and Apache Blvd, Tempe (no additional fees!)

  • call Box Office (480) 965-3434 (additional fee applies)

  • order online at Ticketmaster, (additional fee applies)

  • order from this website and they'll pick up the tickets and mail them to you with no additional fee!  (This offer ends Tues, Aug 31, so HURRY!)
For a better preview or to listen to more clips of the music, visit THIS WEBSITE and click on the individual pictures.

P.S. They are bringing in 8 soloists ... maybe you've heard  of one or a few of them ....

Greg Adams, Jordan Bluth, Amy Jo Halliday, Linsey Maxson, Tyler Maxson, Courtney Merrill, Jenee Prince, and Michael Sackett.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Free Photo Book

Do you love photo books or would you like to try making your first one?  If so, Shutterfly is offering a *FREE* hardcover photobook right now ... that is a $30 value!

This promotion ends September 1, 2010 & the promo code is: 8PBA91

It also looks like they are offering free shipping for orders of $30 or more with this code: SHIP 30
I tried Shutterfly on one occastion to make a book of my son's first year of life.  I was very pleased with how the book turned out.  I think I added about 20 extra pages that I had to pay for, but it was well worth it!!  The colors were nice and it was easy to just insert photos into Shutterfly's already-made pages.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Daddy-Daughter Evening

Last night for our Young Women activity, we had a great daddy-daughter night.  I had nothing to do with planning this event, but they asked me last minute to bring my camera ... I had no idea what they had in mind. Our evening started with mixing ingredients for 3 different flavors of homemade ice cream.  While the ice cream was churning, we played some games ... girls vs dads.  One game had about 15 small cups with different spices & ingredients in each cup that are found in most kitchens.  The girls & dads had to close their eyes, sniff, and guess what they were smelling.  Pretty fun.  There were a few other games going on throughout the night. 

Before YW started, one of the leaders took some snazzy fabric and tacked it onto one of those large rolling blackboards.  Because we had a cooking/kitchen theme, aprons & chef hats were supplied for the dads & girls to wear in the photographs.  As the evening started to come to a close & while everyone enjoyed the fruits of their labors (homemade ice cream), we took some photos of the girls with their dads.  I don't have a fancy flash or anything for my camera so I was somewhat worried about how these were going to turn out, but it makes my heart happy to look at them.  I hope these are a special treasure for the girls.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

By Hand

I tried my hand at using my own handwriting on a scrapbook page.  It turned out a little shaky, but not terrible.  I'll have to keep practicing.  I actually tried a lot of new things on this page and I'd like to share one easy trick if you'd like to make a road trip or vacation page for your scrapbook.

Inserting a map into your page ....

1. Go to Google Maps.

2. Move the map around, zoom in & out, etc until what you see on your screen is what you'd like to see on your scrapbook page.  Make sure both the starting and ending points of your trip can be seen on your screen.

3. Push the "Print Screen" button on your keyboard for Windows users or "Command+Control+Shift+4" for Mac users.  This saves your screen shot to your computer's clipboard.

4. Paste (Control+V or Command+V)  your map into whatever program you are using or document that you are working on.  If you are a traditional paper scrapbooker, you could probably just paste your map into a program like Word & print the map.  If you are using a scrapbooking or photo editing program for your digital scrapbooking pages, just have the scrapbook page open that you are working on before you paste your map and the map should show up for ya right on your page. 

5. After your map is on the page, make adjustments to it's size, location on the page, etc as needed.

6. Finally, I added the orange dots to show where my trip started & ended.  I used a round brush in Photoshop to do this.  You could also just add text, stars or whatever makes you happy. :)

Have fun!

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Monday, August 23, 2010


Ever been on a "stay-cation"??  I've decided they never end up being very relaxing.  Unless you really go away, you still have people bugging you for stuff & too many distractions.  But we did get to relax a bit and, even though we got chased away by bees, one of my favorite activities this past weekend was taking the kids to Tempe Beach Park to play in the water.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Parenting: Touching the Hearts of Our Youth

I'm off to make dinner & my goal tonight is to not ask any of my children to stop talking ... no matter how much my brain seems to be rattling. :)

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Scalloped Circle Tags

I had fun playing with some circles.  I drew on the scalloped edge to make it a little more rustic or homemade looking.  You can use these as is or type something onto them with a photo editing program.  Use them for gift tags, church handouts, put them on a scrapbook page, or whatever you fancy.  Just right click on the desired image and save.  As always, these are for personal use only.

Patriotic Circle with no shadow

Patriotic Circle with shadow

Green Floral Circle with shadow

Green Floral with no shadow

I think when I made these, I gave the patriotic circles a transparent background & the green circles have a white background.  If you want to take the white background off, open the green circle in Photoshop and SELECT the entire image ... like around the whole white box that will show up.  Then Inverse your selection (go to Select then click on Inverse).  Use can now use your Move Tool to drop the circle onto whatever you want.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lamb of God

The East Valley Mormon Chorale Organization (EVMCO) will be perfoming Rob Gardner's work, Lamb of God.  Performances are on Friday September 10th & Saturday the 11th at ASU's Gammage.  To buy tickets, go HERE.  Tickets start at ONLY $6!! We had our first rehearsal this past Saturday ... it think it's going to be a beautiful performance!

If you are having trouble viewing this youtube video, try THIS link.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Cheesecake Bars

I tried another new recipe ... this time I can easily share the recipe with you cause I found it online. :)

I tried Bakerella's Cheesecake Bars recipe.

My thoughts .... the chocolate ganache TOTALLY made this dessert for me.  I used a good (ie no Nestle, Hershey, Bakers ....)  dark chocolate instead of semi-sweet.  I think I used a 60% dark chocolate or maybe 70% ... can't remember.  Pretty sure on the 60% though.  I definitely didn't miss the semi-sweet chocolate and I'd definitely use a dark chocolate again.  The cheesecakiness of the recipe was good, but not the greatest cheesecake I've ever baked.  But before I turn you off from the recipe, it really was good.  I also really liked the flavor of the crust.  My only complaint was that it got a bit soggy in less than 48 hours in the fridge which seems kinda soon esp if you are supposed to refrigerate overnight (always a must with cheesecake!).  All the cheesecake recipes I've ever made instruct me to bake the crust for about 8 minutes before putting the filling on top of the crust.  I think I might try that next time to see if the crust holds up a little better.  Any thoughts?  I used some leftover cookies & put them on top (as Bakerella instructs) of about 1/2 the bars ... next time I think I'll put them on top of ALL the bars although a lot of people seemed to go for the non-topping ones.  I personally liked them better with the cookies on top.

I cut my cheesecakes into bite-size pieces (about 1x1") and took them to a Relief Society activity, sent a bunch to work with my hubby, had some family over for a game night & used them as a treat, and there's still a bunch left in my fridge.  These would be perfect for an event where you like to have finger-foods or you'd just like to have small treats.  I'm sure they'd be great as larger bars, too!!

Overall, I give this recipe a 9 out of 10. :)

P.S.  I was a bit worried about where I'd be able to find the Biscoff cookies for the crust, but I found them at my local Super Wal-Mart on the cookie aisle ... easy peasy.

UPDATE:  Checked my cocoa ... it's 72% dark chocolate!

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Young Women Manual 2 Lesson 31: The Law of the Land

I found this old post that I started over a month ago & never finished.  I think something happened that day & I ended up not teaching, but I'm going to post what I had so I have something to refer to later on down the road.



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Friday, August 13, 2010

Families Supporting Adoption Conference

On October 8-9, 2010, there is going to be a Southwest Regional Conference put on by the Families Supporting Adoption (FSA) organization.  The conference will be held in Tempe, Arizona.

If you'd like more information, go HERE.

The link above takes you to a homepage, but even if you aren't interested in attending the conference, you might find some helpful information related to adoption when you click on RELATED LINKS.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Downloading a YouTube Video

One of my readers, Penny ... such a cute name!  ... reminds me of Lost  ... asked for help with downloading a Youtube video onto her desktop like I do for my Young Women lessons.  I have to be glued to my violin for the next 48 hours, but I thought I'd share a few links that will hopefully get some of you started.

HERE is one online tutorial.  From that link, there is a program called Easy YouTube Video Downloader ... I believe this is the one that we use here at my house.

Also, if you go to http://www.youtube.com/, you can search for video tutorials that may be able to help you with downloading youtube videos.  For example:

I will try to get a tutorial put together on how I download these videos, but in the mean time, I suggest googling "how to download youtube videos" ... or something similar ... to get you going.  Good luck!

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tired ....

It's almost midnight & I'm beat.  I feel like I never stopped to sit down & relax today ... or eat ... or a lot of other things.  School is in full swing for the kids, I'm taking an on-line class, and it's time for me to start sawing away on my ol' fiddle.  I'm afraid that my days of baking goodies are going to have to slow down a bit.

Around dinner time yesterday, these little babies came out of the oven.  I'm sorry that I'm too lazy to type up recipes ... maybe some day....

If you want to try something like this, make some brownie and cheesecake batter ... just a small batch for both.  The cheesecake batter doesn't need to be anything fancy.  Just some cream cheese, sugar, an egg yolk & mini chocolate chips.  I put the brownie batter into a gallon-size Ziploc bag and the cheesecake batter into a quart-size Ziploc bag.  Then clip off a corner of the bags and squeeze the brownie batter into mini cupcake liners ... filling them about 2/3.  Then put about 1 teaspoon of the cheesecake batter into the center of the brownie batter.  Bake.  Enjoy.  I made about 50 of these mini brownie cheesecakes and within a few hours, less than 10 were left.  (My YW enjoyed a few of them as well.) 

Off to bed ....

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

For Fun For You

I'm assuming a lot of my readers have no need for Young Women handouts, so today I have something for fans of non-YW stuff.  If you'd like to make a goodie & use my brownie wrapper to make something cute for a friend or loved one, please use these:

{blank brownie wrappers}

{large blank brownie wrappers}

{Happy Birthday! brownie wrappers}

Just right click on the image you like & save.  Use your favorite photo editing program to add text ... Thank you! ... Good Luck! ... Happy Birthday! ... be creative & use your imagination.  Then print on glossy 8.5x11" glossy photo paper.  I didn't create the papers & frame that were used, so these are for personal use only, please!

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Young Women Manual 2 Lesson 30: Strengthening Testimony through Service

If you like cute things for Young Women, I think I have some for ya today.

My favorite handouts are by Shaunte Wadley & they can be found HERE.  Couldn't resist the owls! :)  I took the cute handouts and made an 8.5x11" page of both handouts.  I had to shrink down the handouts just a little so I could get 4 to a page, but they still turned out to be a really nice size.  Use my page below for easy at-home printing.  Or just use Shaunte's originals off of Sugardoodle's website if you want to get prints made at Costco.

TONS of cute handout ideas are HERE.  I took the compli"mint" idea towards the bottom of the list and had some fun with it.  I made brownies with York Peppermint Patties in the middle.  I'm sure you could use any homemade brownie recipe to duplicate my idea.  Just put 1/2 the brownie batter in the bottom of your pan and then layer the batter with peppermint patties.  I used a 9x13" pan and I probably used about 50 peppermint patties.  After your patties are in place, spread the rest of your batter on top of the patties.

They should make a beautiful, fudgey treat!

Then I had fun being creative ....

I made little wrappers for the brownies. 

I just printed them at home with glossy photo paper, but I'm sure a nice cardstock would work as well.  I recommend bending the corners of the wrapper so it wraps & fits nicely around your brownie.  I "glued" the wrapper behind the brownie with a blue glitter star sticker ... the squishy, foamy kind of stickers.  Any kind of sticker or paper glue should work for you. 

I know my wrappers are not evenly spaced, but I was in a hurry.  I kinda trimmed them all anyways to make them each the size I wanted.  I wanted to see a little bit of brownie showing on the top & bottom of each wrapper.

I used some of Angela's ideas for my actual lesson.  I put a nice tablecloth on the table and then brought different items to display that make me happy.... 

  • A framed photograph of my kids (family)
  • Shoe box (shopping)
  • Point & shoot camera (photography & creative outlets)
  • Cookbook (food, baking)
  • Sunglasses (warm, sunny weather)
  • Metronome (music, playing violin & piano)
  • Scriptures (spiritual things)
It was a fun get-to-know-you hearing about what makes the girls happy.  The girls & I all shared our own experiences & stories that related to service.  To close my lesson, I used this video:

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Family + Food = Party

My dad has been working a court case for the Town of Gilbert for over a year & as far as I know, he's done all the work for free.  To celebrate a job well-done and his win in court, we had a family party for him.

For as long I can remember, my dad has L-O-V-E-D York Pepperming Patties.  My dad grew-up in York, PA, so I'm not sure if it's the name of the candy or the actual flavor that he likes more. :)  In honor of my dad, I baked some brownies with York's in the middle.  (More on those later.)

After dinner, we took a quick dip in the pool.  I think my son should become a model for fashionable eyewear! :) :)

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Friday, August 6, 2010


My boy is quick to smile.  His grandma commented last week that he has a contagious smile ... I have to agree.  In his younger days when he'd always find his way into my bed sometime during the night, I used to love to wake up to his huge grin.  It made my morning!  My boy loves to be silly which brings out the silliness in others.  I think he loves the attention that his silliness brings, too. :)

The other night he was saying his prayers before bed.  Daddy was prompting him and helping him with what to say.  I was standing in the room listening and around the middle of the prayer, it went something like this...

Daddy: I'm thankful
Turkey: I'm fankful
Daddy: for my family.
Turkey: for chock-it milk.

We had a few giggles.  Gotta love his honesty.

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Couple Tidbits to Ponder

On Monday, Penguin & I baked some luscious lime bars with chocolate glaze.  The recipe I was using had measurement options ... I could have used cups or ounces for my dry ingredients.  Just for kicks, I measured my ingredients with cups and the weighed them.  All my "cups" weighed more than what the recipe called for in ounces.  I decided to go the weighing route for this recipe, BUT the recipe turned out a little too gooey for my tastes.  I think I would have personally preferred the little bit of extra flour.  I'm anxious to try the whole weighing vs measuring thing again on another recipe just to see what the results are like. 

Also, I wanted to share this post from Scott Kelby.  Since I moved to AZ, I haven't had much time for photography jobs, but in the past, I always have people who wanted to order 8x10" prints.  This is an odd size considering photo are "meant to be" printed as a 4x6" ... or 8x12".  When you want your photographer to make you an 8x10, something is either getting stretched or cropped to make it that size.  The next time you are out shopping for frames, do your favorite photographer a favor & just skip over the 8x10's!

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Berry Crepes

In continuation of our Russian/Adoption celebrations, we made crepes for breakfast.  When I was a kid, crepes were something I looked forward to and they were always a special treat.  My kids ... not really fans which I just don't get cause they devour pancakes and we filled them with all kinds of sweet goodies. 

I used to always make crepes for General Conference breakfast, but haven't in 4 or 5 years.  This time around, I tried a new recipe.  The recipe looked good and included things like brown sugar, but I think it was a poorly written recipe cause my flour never mixed in ... just got clumpy and sank to the bottom of the bowl.

I know crepes aren't really Russian, but we can count them as European, right?  And we were served blintzes while in Russia which are pretty much the same thing.  I'm not sure what you fill your crepes with, but we like:

  • Ice cream
  • Fruit & berries
  • Pie filling
  • Sauces & syrups
  • Nutella
  • Puddings & custards
  • Powdered sugar on top
  • Whipped cream

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