Monday, February 28, 2011

Memory Lane Monday

Three years ago ... I must've been crazy cause I flew across the country with three VERY small children all by myself.  I must've been craving warmer weather that bad.  Turkey was almost 6 months old, Peacock a ripe old 16 months, and Penguin a somewhat fresh 5 year old.  Good times!

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Musicians Needed!! (Highland High Grads)

CALLING ALL HIGHLAND HIGH SCHOOL GRADS!!  We are in need of your musical talents.  A benefit concert is being put together and Mr Bitter will be conducting a symphony made up of HHS grads, but we need your help to fill the seats of the symphony!!  Parts we need to fill:  Violin I, Violin II, Viola, Cello, Cello OD, Bass, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn in F 1-4.  The Symphony will be accompanying Jordan Bluth while he sings Time to Say Goodbye ... see video below (poor quality, sorry!).  Even if you are a little rusty, the 2nd violin part stays in 1st position and if you are familiar with the song, the counting won't be bad.  If you want music, please email me, leave me a comment with your email, text me or find me one way or another.  I can email the music to you.

Rehearsal for the symphony will be at Highland High School on Friday, Feb 25th 2:45-3:30 .  Horrible time for those of us with kids, but see what you can work-out cause we'd love to have you!  Concert is Saturday, Feb 26 at 7pm.

To read more about the benefit concert for Heather (Kuzdas) Sutton, go HERE or HERE.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kyiv Ukraine Temple

A Little Something for my Eastern European Friends & Family ...

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Monday, February 21, 2011

The Best Christmas Gift

A couple weeks before Christmas, my sister gave birth to a beautiful, healthy, baby boy.  They were quite brave and drove for two days to AZ to be home for Christmas, so I got to take a few pics of cute Miles while they were here ...

{Baby Miles & his family on his blessing day.}

 {almost a month old!}

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Introducing ... Part Two

To continue my previous post about the soloists who will be featured in the upcoming EVMCO concert ....

One of California's premiere musical theatre artists, John Huntington:

Fransesca D. Forsyth will be featured as our mezzo-soprano:

If you live in Arizona, this concert will be performed two times on Saturday, March 5th ... 5:00 & 8:00.  Tickets can be purchased at any local Deseret Book location as well as through the Mesa Arts Center.  If you have interest in attending this show, please do not wait to buy tickets.  Seats are becoming limited.

If you are in Utah, you will be able to see Messiah in America performed the first weekend of June in Salt Lake City.  More details to come.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Introducing ... Part One

The East Valley Mormon Choral Organization is preparing for our next concert.  We will be performing a new 34-movement oratorio titled, Messiah in America, which was composed by Brett Stewart.  With text taken from the Book of Mormon, Messiah in America musically depicts the story of Christ's visit to the people on the American continent after His death & resurrection.  Guest soloists are four preeminent and professional LDS artisits in the USA: Jennifer Welch-Babidge (soprano), Francessa Forsyth (alto), George Dyer (tenor), and John Huntington (bass).

Today, I will introduce you to two of our soloists.

The ever-talented George Dyer:

BYU faculty and former New York Metropolitan Opera Soprano, Jennifer Welch-Babidge:

Tickets are selling fast!! Get yours today!!

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sweet Tarts with Sweethearts!

My Laurel class (the 16-18 year old girls from church) came over tonight & I taught them how to make mini-tarts.  Last night I made dark chocolate pudding and butterscotch pudding to be used for our fillings. 

When the girls arrived, we used Dorie Greenspan's sweet tart recipe for the crust ... we doubled the recipe and were able to make 9 mini-tarts (probably about 4") ... just in case any one's wondering.  While the crusts were in the freezer and then baking, I put the girls to work chopping strawberries, bananas, and since Brittany had never made homemade whipped cream before, she got that job.  We also had some down time which was good for just chatting and planning what we want to do for other upcoming activities.  We get together every Tuesday night & we try to do a variety of activities in hopes to appeal to all the girls at some point and so they can try lots of new things ... sometimes we work on homemaking skills, sometimes we do a service project, sometimes we do something more athletic, sometimes it's a spiritual evening ... it's always different and we always have a good time together.

After the crusts came out of the oven, the girls had fun mixing and matching puddings, fruits, nuts and other toppings to make beautiful little tarts.  They did a great job and should be very proud!!

Peacock had been home with me and watching us make all these tarts, so at 9pm, she looked at me with her cute brown eyes and asked to make some pies with me.  So, after 9pm, Peacock & I started another batch of tarts.  We doubled the crust recipe again & made one 9" tart and four of the 4" tarts.  When Hubby got home after 10pm last night, he was very happy to find that more crusts were coming out of the oven cause he definitely wanted some tarts too! 

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Monday, February 14, 2011

A Stylish Blogger Award

I won my first-ever blogging award!!  I'm quite excited and honored to have been chosen!  My new blogging friend, Yummy Chunklet, gave me this award, so hop over to her blog to check out all the yummy dishes that she's cooking up.

Because I was given a Stylish Blogger Award, I get to do four fun things...

First, thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award. Again, a huge thanks to Yummy Chunklet and congratulations on receiving one as well!

Second, share seven things about myself.

OK ... these are always hard for me...

#1: My toenails are ALWAYS painted.  Can't even hang-out in the house with unpainted toenails.

#2: I don't typically watch TV.  I do enjoy a Steelers football game here & there and I might watch a series via Netflix, but a weekend movie at home is more my thing.  So when all my friends are discussing some TV show, I'm usually somewhat clueless.  Personally, there are too many other things that I'd rather do ... like cooking, photoshopping, violining, and blogging!

#3: I sit 5th chair in the 1st violin section of the EVMCO Orchestra.  This is a volunteer group, but it's very different from any other volunteer symphony that I've ever played with.  I'm challenged and feel like I'm learning and growing a lot.  We will be performing at the Mesa Arts Center on March 5th & May 21st and then we will be traveling to Utah (SLC) to perform on June 3rd.

#4: I love the beach.  On a warm, sunny day, I could sit on the beach and just read & munch on goodies and be totally content.  I don't really care if I get in the water or not ... I just like to be there & see it & smell it.  My kids never get bored and they find plenty of ways to entertain themselves at the beach, too.  And you can't forget all the good junk food that can be found on a nice boardwalk at night.  ahhhh.....

#5: I guess I can't talk about myself without talking about my three side-kicks.  I am the momma to three kiddies.  Penguin is 8 years old, Peacock is 4 years old, & Turkey is 3 years old. They keep me hopping!!

#6: I just finished making double batches of chocolate & butterscotch puddings.  Tomorrow night I'm teaching a how-to-make tarts class and I thought for beginners and the very limited time I have to teach, that pudding tarts would be the easiest.

#7: I used to read novels every night before bed to help me settle down and fall asleep.  I no longer seem to have problems falling asleep ... I'm more worn-out these days.  If I do read something after climbing into bed, it's a cookbook.

Third, award 15 recently discovered great bloggers. This is probably the best part about getting the award; sharing it with others! It’s my pleasure to give a “Stylish Blogger Award” to the following amazing blogs (in no particular order):

...So I only did 13, but it's minutes 'til midnight & I gotta go to bed!

Fourth, contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!  I'll do that tomorrow....

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies: Baked Sunday Mornings

I tried Red Velvet cake one time ... about 10 year ago.  I wasn't a fan.  But in the spirit of Valentine's Day and trying new recipes, I decided to give the Red Velvet Whoopie Pies a whirl this afternoon.  I was also in need of a goodie to give to some of my Valentines ... my four favorite teenage girls from church ... my Laurel class.

The batter was pretty quick & easy.  Spooning the batter out onto my parchment paper and trying to make sure they turned out about the same size was more time consuming.  The recipe recommends using a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, but I only have a large scoop, so I had to make do with the utensils that I had because I wanted my whoopie pies to be somewhat small.  While my little whoopie pies baked, I quickly made some cream cheese filling.

After assembling my whoopie pies, I had fun decorating them.  I made some with the recommended toasted walnuts, but sprinkles also turned out way fun & cute. (The multi-colored sprinkles would be very fun for a birthday party!) I put my pies in the fridge to set and we went for a family walk because it was about 80* here yesterday ... beautiful!  When we got home, I put one walnut and one sprinkle whoopie pie into each cellophane bag and we were off to make some deliveries.  I had some leftover whoopie pies so Penguin was anxious to take some goodies to her two BFF's and Peacock wanted to make a delivery to her Sunday School teacher.  I asked Turkey if he wanted to take some to any of his teachers or friends, but the only response I could get from him was, "NO! I want to just eat them!"

The verdict ... I'm still not a fan of Red Velvet cake.  I won't say what it tastes like to me cause it's just gross, but my family seemed to enjoy them and many of our Valentine recipients were very excited about trying Red Velvet, so I think overall, they were a hit.

If you'd like to see the results of other Sunday Bakers or take a look at the recipe, go HERE.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Orange-Almond Tart: French Fridays with Dorie

SHNIKIES! I can't believe that I haven't blogged since Monday!  I guess that's what happens when it's less than a month before my next concert and I'm putting in at least 2 hours a day of practice time on my violin ... and that doesn't include rehearsals (8 hours away from home every Thursday because my girls are also participating and have rehearsals too), lessons, etc.  Because of my crazy week, I had to wait until Friday night to make my FFwD recipe this week.  My Turkey had been bugging me all week to make cookies, so he was thrilled when I invited him to cook dinner and dessert with me last night.  He's the best food-processor-button-pushing fellow that I know!!  And he's not shy about getting his fingers dirty when it's time to press the dough into the tart shell.

To start this recipe, I cut the peel off of 4 navel oranges and then left the orange segments out on paper towels so that the pieces of orange could dry out a little bit.  Turkey helped me with this step by sucking on any oranges pieces that got cut off with the peel.

Next we made the almond paste.  I wasn't in the mood to pack up three kids and start hunting around local stores for almond flour last night, so I Googled and most of the websites I looked at said to just put some raw almonds into a food processor to make almond flour.  I did and it seemed to work just fine.  I did about a cup of raw almonds and it made at least a cup of almond "flour".  After my paste was made, I let it rest in the fridge while I made the dough and worked on dinner.

The tart dough was very easy to make and it is very similar to a recipe that I use for my lemon bar crust and that's exactly what it tasted like to me.  Except when I make lemon bars, I end up with a lot less dough and a thinner crust.  I think after trying a thicker crust on this tart, I might try lemon bars with a little more crust next time.  The crust was, by far, my favorite aspect of this dessert ... SO flaky, crispy, sweet & yummo!  With the help of 10 extra little fingers, I pressed the tart dough into my tart pan & then per Dorie's suggestion, I put my shell in the freezer and it ended up being in there for at least an hour while I made dinner. 

While I ate dinner, I let my tart shell partially bake & cool.  Once everything was ready to go, it was a very easy dessert to assemble.  I just smeared my almond paste onto my cooled crust and then decorated the top of the paste with my orange segments.  The tart then bakes for about an hour.  I think if you are using oranges, powdered sugar on top of the baked tart is a must because the oranges ended up being a little bit bitter.  I'd LOVE to try this dessert again with another kind of fruit.  Dorie suggests plums, pears, apples, etc ... I was kinda thinking about raspberries....  Great dessert!!

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Baptism Day

My sweet Penguin girl chose to be baptized a couple weeks ago.  She invited her family members to come and support her and we had a very special evening honoring her & the choice that she made to be baptized.

To read more about what Mormons believe on the topic of baptism, go HERE.

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Basque Potato Tortilla: French Fridays with Dorie

This week the selected recipe to cook was the basque (no idea what that word means) potato tortilla.  This was a very simple recipe and I could definitely see myself making it again and again.  It's also a recipe that I always have ingredients for in my home (not having to run to the local Super WalMart with 3 kids is always a huge plus!) and it would be fun to try lots of different add-in's, toppings, and flavors with this recipe.

I made this and just as it was coming out of the oven, I had to run to an appointment, so I didn't get to take lots of photos or enjoy it with my family, but there was only a small sliver left by the time I had arrived back home.  And my hubby had made a large loaf of french bread into french toast to go along with the tortilla and most my strawberries were "missing" by the time I returned.

I followed the original recipe for my tortilla plus added a few extras.  I had some mushrooms that needed to be used and I always love mushrooms in my eggs, so I sauteed some in a separate pan and added those to my dish.  Also, before I put my tortilla into the oven, I put about a cup of shredded Gruyere cheese on top.  Looking back, I wish I would've added more cheese and possibly mixed some in with the eggs so that the cheese was throughout the entire dish and not just on the top.  (Can't wait to try some pepper jack with this recipe!)  I also enjoyed a little ketchup :) on top of my serving of tortilla.  Salsas and other dressings would also be fantastic.  The possibilities are endless!

Go HERE to read other participants' reviews.

P.S. The crispy "crust" was well-worth a dirty cast iron skillet!

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Joys of Homeschooling!

This is what happens when you turn your back for a few minutes to help one child with math problems and another child is feeling a little left-out.


 {not happy mom is chasing him with a camera &
worried about what punishment might follow.}

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Christmas Morning ... 2010

Note to self: the backpacks that contained little sleeping bags and flashlights that I found on clearance for $6 were a HUGE hit.

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