Monday, March 28, 2011

Blank Sheet Music

My Penguin has been inspired by her choir directors and spends a lot of time each afternoon writing and composing her own, original music.  The poor girl was trying to write her songs out on scratch paper, so after a quick search online, I found this website that I thought I'd pass along because it has some nice options.   I thought this site & some music composition could make for some great homeschooling activities.  Enjoy!!

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Salted Butter Break-Ups ~ French Fridays with Dorie

I'm a week late on this recipe and I'm doing it instead of the scallop recipe.  I've had scallops once in my life and it wasn't a pleasant experience.  Maybe it was just the way they were cooked that particular time because I love shrimp and crab.  Anyways ....

The salted butter break-ups were very simple to make but I have to say they tasted just as simple.  While I was working on them, my Penguin kept telling me I should add some chocolate.  After trying them, she was right!  They definitely were not gross, but they tasted a lot like pie crust.  I'm thinking some cinnamon & sugar sprinkled on top before they're baked would be awesome.  Or it might be fun to dip them in Nutella, pudding, fresh strawberry jam, or some kind of fondue.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hot Days of Spring

About a week ago ... before spring had even officially started ... it was rather warm here ... it was actually pretty hot ... over 90*!  The first swim of the year is always exciting and the extra hot temps last week made swimming and cooling off a must.  The pool water was about 72*, so still WAY too cold for me to even stick me feet in ... I'm spoiled ... but the kids enjoyed playing in the water and doing something different in the afternoon that we hadn't done in a while.

On the way to the pool, we stopped off for some of this:

It was like Peacock never left the water for the winter.  She is a dare-devil in the water and not scared at all of swimming around.  She is my best swimmer!!  She's always the first one in and the last one out.  On this particular day, she hopped out of the pool to take a few laps around the pool on her bike.  I guess a training wheel was lose and when she got too close to the pool, she & her bike fell right into the pool.  It didn't really phase her ... she just swam to the top of the water and over to the side and watched as we fished the bike out of the bottom of the pool.  Never a dull moment!

Turkey is always the first one out of the pool and off to find other things to do.  I think he takes after me.  He likes to stick his feet in to cool off a bit, but he's just not super interested in the whole swimming thing.

A hot AZ afternoon just wouldn't be complete without another treat to help us cool off!

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Family Fun Night

So, after my lesson on Sunday, I was feeling like I wanted to do something fun Monday night.  Hubby worked out in I-don't-know-where ... all I know is that it was about an hour drive each way.  He's working a temp job right now on Mondays, so all I care about is what time he gets home and what kind of check he brings home with him. :)  Hubby ended up not getting home until about 8pm and even though it had been a kinda long day in the recording studio & the kids should've been getting ready for bed soon, we were jazzed and ready to have our "Family Fun Night".  Hubby picked up a couple $5 Little Ceaser's pizzas on his way home, we spread old towels out on the family room floor, and watched Fantastic Mr. Fox.  I thought it was a somewhat weird movie (didn't really love the book either), but the kids seemed to love it ....

Earlier in the afternoon, while Turkey was napping, the girls & I tried a new cookie recipe from Alice Medrich's Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-your-Mouth Cookies cookbook.  It was a bit of a toss-up, but we decided on the Bittersweet Decadence Cookies.  Alice recommended a different way of melting the chocolate for this recipe, so we tried it....

I've never sat my bowl of chocolate directly in the simmering water.  After the chocolate was melted, we put the egg/vanilla/sugar mixture in the simmering water as well. 

I only added a healthy 1/2 cup of pecans to the batter because it seemed like there was too much chunkiness and not enough batter, but now after trying the cookies, I'd definitely go for the full 2 cups of nuts next time.  I really liked the pecans in this cookie.  We gave this cookie recipes 10 thumbs up ... and several days later, they still taste good and don't seem dry.

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Young Women Lesson #10: Encouraging Enjoyable Family Activities

There are so many things that can be done with this lesson.  We hardly did any of the lesson and still ran out of time.

I was ready to go with this YouTube video, but ran out of time.  I figured it is one that could easily be used another time with another lesson.  If you'd like to use it with this lesson, it fits very nicely with the topic.

We read & discussed the 7th paragraph of "The Family: A Proclamation to the World".  We talked about what "divine design" means and listed the 9 ways to achieve happiness in family life.

With the help of the girls, we made a long list of "family fun" activities on the chalkboard ... traditions, things they enjoy doing with their family, things they'd like to do with their family, free/inexpensive activities, and activities that might require more money &/or planning.

When we had about 10 minutes left of class, we pushed a couple of tables to the middle of the room and made our "family fun sacks".  I just brought brown paper lunch sacks, crayons, colored pencils and the girls each decorated their own bag.  Then I gave the girls some of the cards below (I printed them on cardstock) and the girls were able to write some of their favorite ideas off of the chalkboard for fun family activities on to the cards and put the cards into their bags.  It was nice to do something different at the end of our lesson that involved chatting and a little creative-fun time.

Here are the cards that I made ... some girls filled each card with ideas and some girls wrote one idea per card.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Recording with Firefly

Yesterday I did something that I'd never done before ... I played my violin in a recording studio for an all-female country group, Firefly, because they are working on releasing a new song.  It was very educational and I'm way excited to hear the final product when it is released on itunes in April.  When I was growing-up, I always wanted to play my violin for Disney, so this gave me a little taste of that "dream job" I once wished for.  It was fun ... frustrating at times, but overall fun ... and I hope to do more recording at some point in my life.

Here is a somewhat crazy video that the Firefly girls took yesterday morning ... good luck finding me. :)

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Beggar's Spaghetti - French Fridays with Dorie

I have to admit that when I read the ingredients for this week's recipe, I was a little leery.  At first I thought it might be like Fettucini Alfredo, but no cream.  I just wasn't sure how this would turn-out.  And I can tolerate raisins, but they're not typically a food that I like to use in my cooking.  There was no linguine (the recipe calls for linguine) to be found on my Monday morning shopping trip, so I decided to make mine with spaghetti noodles instead and I'm glad I did ... easier for kids of all ages to get on their fork & eat. :)

I picked up from Black Mission Figs from our local Trader Joe's store as well as some fresh Parmesan cheese.

This was a very easy & quick recipe to assemble.  While I waited for my water to boil for the pasta, I chopped up figs, raisins, almonds & pistachios.  I then melted some butter in a large skillet and added the nuts & fruits to the butter.  It smelled like dessert!

After the nuts & fruits had cooked long enough in the butter, I tossed in the cooked pasta and then coated it with lots of grated Parmesan cheese.  A little orange zest was added to the top ... very pretty.
When I took my first bite, I was very pleasantly surprised.  I could hardly taste the raisins ... the dried fruits add just a little bit of a fruity taste to it.  I LOVED the toasted, crunchy nuts in the dish and a little bit of orange zest was anther unexpected favorite for this dish.  Sometimes orange zest can be bitter and overpowering, but it was awesome in this dish ... it added just a little bit of sweetness and a fun flavor to enjoy in my mouth with each bite.  I will definitely be making this again.  I think it could be a simple, comforting meal or a very unique appetizer or side dish.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

December Bike Ride

One nice thing about living in AZ is that we can go for bike rides in December.  Not really in July, but December is do-able.  The kids each got a new helmet for Christmas so they were anxious to try out their new helmets....

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Savory Cheese & Chive Bread: French Fridays with Dorie

I'm trying to play catch-up with my life this week.  I know I should've baked this bread about a week ago and posted on it several days ago, but....

Monday morning, the kiddies & I made a run to Trader Joe's because they always have great cheeses at very competitive prices.  I decided I wanted to make two loaves of this bread and try the recipe a couple different ways in order to go with meals that I'd be making on Monday & Tuesday nights this week.

One loaf was done with shredded Cheddar-Gruyere, cubed Gruyere, and minced chives.  My daughter was after me to make chili for dinner and I thought these cheeses and flavors would go nicely with chili.

The second loaf was made with grated Parmesan, cubed Gruyere, and minced basil ... I was going for Italian flavors in hopes it would go with the pasta dish that I'm supposed to post this coming Friday.

We all enjoyed this new recipe.  It reminded me a lot of the cheese puffs that we FFWD'ers made back in October.  The flavor of the bread also reminded several of us a lot of cornbread even though there was no cornmeal or anything corny, for that matter, in the recipe.  I tried another slice of the cheddar bread this morning after is was about 12 hours old and I liked it even more.  I thought the flavors and cheesy-ness was even better.  If I were to make this recipe again, I'd definitely go for a cheese like Cheddar over  the Parmesan.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Eternal Families: Young Women Lesson 8, Manual 3

I have some YW lessons to catch-up on, but here's something that is quick & easy to share.  I did not teach yesterday when lesson 8 was presented, but because my laptop was used for this Power Point Presentation, I had it saved on my computer.  Our YW President showed the 3 slides ... first slide is the bulls-eye.  She explained that in archery, you still get some points if you are close and don't hit it right on the center.  The other two slides show a temple and a picture of Jesus Christ is the center and she talked about how not quite hitting your target/goal will not earn you points in those two scenarios.  For example, getting close to the temple and it's blessings is not good enough... you have to hit that goal right in the center in order to get those blessings or "points".

Here is the PPT slide show.  Ignore the slide with the spiders ... not sure why that's there.

Click on the underlined title below to download:
Man 3 Lesson 8 Eternal Families

Save the document to your desktop.  Double-click on the saved document and it should open in PowerPoint.  Once you are in PowerPoint, click on the "Slideshow" tab and then click on "From Beginning" and your slideshow should open.  Use the enter key to move forward in the slide show and the backspace key to go backwards in the slideshow.  Just make sure that you skip over the spider slide.  :)

After playing around with the file, I found this explanation:

What is this? Explain that although a bulls eye is optimum, people can sometimes win with enough outside shots once the points are added up.

Let’s say your girls are having an archery activity. You tell them to aim for the center, but sometimes you can make as many points you need to win by hitting close enough. You don’t always have to aim for the bulls eye to win. Coming close can count.

Now what if you tell your girls to aim for this? A temple marriage.
Or better yet, this? Coming unto Christ.

Is close enough going to good enough? When it comes to aiming for gospel goals close enough is not good enough. There is no way a young woman will earn enough points from outside shots to win the prize. Tell you girls to aim for the bulls eye.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Devil's Food Cake ~ Baked Sunday Mornings

I know I'm a few days late, but I really wanted to try this cake and I have lots of good excuses for my late-ness.  Sick kids ALL month ranks high on my excuse list.  The diseases never seemed to end ... just rotating from one kid to another ... and always different symptoms & problems.  After a busy weekend, my plan was to bake the cake Sunday afternoon, but, of course, I woke up Sunday morning feeling crummy & I had a terrible sore throat, so I went back to bed.  When I finally felt like getting up, violin practicing had to take priority over baking.  Monday I still wasn't feeling great, so Tuesday was my day for some chocolate baking & good-ness.

Last week when I was caring for sick kiddies, my mom brought me over a slice of the cake that she had made, so I knew before I started that there were some things that I wanted to tweak a little bit.  The cake was fairly easy & quick to make.  I used Trader Joe's bittersweet chocolate instead of the dark chocolate because I wanted my cake to be more chocolaty.  I wasn't in the mood to break out an expensive cocoa powder, so I just used Hershey's Dark Cocoa Powder in my cake.  I also omitted the coffee.  I poured some vanilla extract (probably a couple tablespoons) into a glass measuring cup and then filled it the rest of the way with water & then heated my vanilla/water concoction in the microwave to make it hot.

When it came time for frosting, I knew I did not want to make the *sugary* angel frosting.  I do not, DO NOT like sweet frosting with my chocolate cakes.  I wanted something that complimented the cake and it had to be chocolate.  I considered a chocolate ganache, but went with a chocolate-sour cream frosting ...basically the same as ganache but instead of heavy cream, I use sour cream, so it has more of a tangy flavor and it sets-up a bit better.  I smeared my chocolate frosting between the layers of the cake and then all over the outside.  Turkey was anxious to help put some strawberries on top of the cake.

We served our cake with a small scoop of ice cream, but afterwards wished that I had X-ed the ice cream ... totally unnecessary and almost distracting.  The texture and flavor of the cake was excellent and this would be a great go-to recipe for a chocolate cake.  Personally, I prefer something even darker, richer, and more dense, but not everyone likes my super-rich chocolate stuff, so this recipe would be more of a crowd pleaser.  I'd definitely go with berries again and maybe even some mini chocolate chips mixed in with my batter. 

Hubby took a big chunk of cake to work to share with all the ladies there, so we'll see what they say about the cake.  And then I ate some more cake for breakfast ... couldn't help it! 

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Baby Cream

Yesterday, Baby Addison turned one year old!  Can't believe I witnessed her coming into this world 12 quick months ago.  I actually took these photos at the beginning of January, but I'm just now getting them off of my camera card.  And they're quite appropriate for a birthday post!

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