Friday, December 28, 2012

Tribute to Newtown, CT

A beautiful video & tribute was made using a song by the group my kids & I perform with, Mormon Choral Organization, for the victims on Newtown, CT.  Enjoy & God bless!

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Busy with Bashes & Baking

Life is crazy.  Why does it always have to be so crazy in December??? ... just when I want to slow down, bake, enjoy my family, etc.

Saturday night was the work party.  I don't necessarily like work parties (I'm trying to be honest but not too honest!) and I kept threatening to not attend this year.  I have so much to do or so much I'd rather be doing.  I tried to be a good sport and since the men of the office weren't taking charge, I did.  So, less than a week before the party, I figured out food, found someone to decorate, planned desserts, made a playlist on Spotify of fun Christmas party music, made my husband track down tables & chairs, put a few employees in charge of some odd jobs, and got another dentist to come up with a few games.

The employees wanted to have a simple-er party at the office so that some of the leftover money could make the pot a little sweeter for bonuses.  I ended up ordering all the food from Costa Vida ... a favorite local restaurant.  $7 a person was a great deal for homemade tortillas, sweet pork, rice, black beans, fresh pico de gallo, cheese, lettuce, etc.  

I made dark-chocolate crinkle cookies with orange zest... (recipe to come at a later date)

and mini-peppermint-Oreo-cheesecakes with Trader Joe's candy cane Joe-Joe's...

Heidi, from the office, made these beauties.  Please don't ask me what she called them ... some Spanish word that starts with a 'B'.  They tasted a lot like churros...
Another girl brought a huge homemade flan.

This funny elf showed-up to spice-up the party a bit ...

And last, but not least ... my best baking buddy ...

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Baby Jada Photos

 After taking part in Jada's birth, I had to take more photos of this cutie!!  Here is part one ... Enjoy!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Your Happily Ever After // Your Once Upon a Time

It's already been a few months since I was asked to work with the young women (YW) in my area as the secretary of their organization.  I have mixed feelings about this secretary job.  It's the 5th time I've been a YW secretary (in addition to four other YW callings, so I know the pros & cons of other callings), and there are things I love about this position and other things that drive me nuts.  So far, this time around is proving to be a similar experience ... still love the same things and I gotta work on those things that drive me nuts ... or just learn to let them go. But I always have fun and enjoy the girls so much!!  I've been busy with lots of jobs and we are getting ready for our upcoming "Christmas Extravaganza"!!

My first big project as secretary was to make handouts to go along with a lesson that our president taught one Sunday.  The lesson was great & based off of  Dieter F. Uchtorf's talk Your Happily Ever After.  I also picked up his book, Your Happily Ever After, a while back in Costco.  If you follow THIS link, it looks like you can get the book for FREE on your Kindle.  Our president took the letters that spell the word royal, and came up with an acronym type thing to go with each letter of the word.

R - rely on your relationship with the Savior {D&C 38:7}
O - obedience to God's commandments {D&C 25:15; D&C 14:7}
Y - yearn for & keep sacred temple covenants
A - act upon spiritual promptings
L - love yourself & others

Now for the handout ... I'm considering getting these blown-up & framed for my daughters' bedrooms because it's such a great message for girls of all ages ... even grown-up girls. :)  For handout purposes, we got them printed as a 4x6" print at Costco using their luster finish (DO NOT get glossy!).  If you want to blow-up the handout, then stick with an 8x12", 12x18", 16x24", etc.  Costco has AWESOME poster sizes too and it's printed on a thick, almost cardboard, type paper.  I highly recommend it if you are wanting a print that large.  I got an equal number of prints of each of the color combinations.  I was worried that the one that's more pink wouldn't be as popular as some of the others, but ALL color combinations were very popular among the girls & leaders in our ward.

**Instructions for getting the JPEG/Flickr files for this handout:
1.  Click on one of the thumbnails below for the photo/printable that you desire. The enlarged photo/printable should open for you in Flickr. 
2.  Right-click on the enlarged photo that opened in Flickr.
3.  Select "ORIGINAL".
4.  A new page with the photo should open in Flickr.  Towards the top, find where it says, "Download the original size of this photo" and click on that.
5.  At this point, you will choose what program you want to use to open the photo or where you'd like to save the photo on your computer.
6.  Once the photo is saved on your computer, you can upload it to Costco's photo department or any photo-developing website of your choice.

You are a daughter Subway art pink red yellow
You are a daughter Subway art gold purple red gray
You are a daughter Subway art puple gold turq gray
You are a daughter Subway art red turq black gray

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Baby Jada's Birth

I feel like I've been running from one thing to the next for the past two months.  Life got ultra crazy somewhere along the way and I have lists of things to do.  Tis the season ... but it's not really that season yet....  I guess I thought that I'd have more time for things I wanted to do since I'm not homeschooling my girls, but ... ha ha ha ... the joke is on me!

Two months & one day ago, I got a text to my phone around 4:30am letting me know that my younger sister had been admitted to the hospital because she was in active labor.  She wanted me to photograph the birth of her baby girl.  Of course when one gets a text like that, sleeping a little more is out of the question.  I got up, cleaned 3 bathrooms, showered, got my girls off to school, took my Turkey to my mom's house, stopped at Starbucks for some muffins, and still made it to the hospital with hours to spare.

About 15 minutes before noon, the real action began and my sister quickly & effortlessly (at least that's how it appeared from my perspective :) ), brought a sweet, healthy baby girl into this world.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Artwork by Peacock

I'm a first-time Kindergarten mom, so I'm loving all the little things that Peacock brings home from school.  Today I had a parent-teacher conference with Peacock's teacher.  Her teacher had such great things to say about her, but one of my favorite things was seeing a picture that Peacock drew and "labeled" (although neither her teacher or I could figure out what she had written under her picture ... but now that I'm thinking about it, maybe it said "Princess Tiana") at the beginning of the school year and a picture that she drew recently with SO much more detail and a complete sentence that had all the words spelled correctly except two, but they were spelled phonetically and much easier to figure-out.

In August, Peacock brought home these cats that she drew.  At that point, I didn't know she knew how to draw such cute cats.  I love her funny little cats and they still hang on my fridge.

This week she brought home a self-portrait ... I laughed when I saw the swing chains and the blue swing seat ... just like the ones at Bushka's house!

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Young Women/Teenage/Adult Conference Packets

Yup ... I'm back in Young Women!!  More details later, but for those of you looking for General Conference ideas for the teenage girls in your life, here are some fun links that I'm finding ....
General Conference Journal Page ... this is not date specific and can be used for any general conference talk, old or new.  It's a single page, so you'll probably need to print out numerous copies.
Teenage/Adult General Conference Packet by Sugardoodle.  This is a black & white version, but you can find a color version on Sugardoodle's website.
Another Teenage/Adult General Conference Packet by Sugardoodle.  I might take the two packets and mix them up a bit to kinda create the best of both worlds.  This one is also available in color here.
Personal Progress experiences for each value that go along with General Conference ... attach a small bag of Cheetos!  I might get the Word version, delete the Cheetos stuff, and just attach it to the back of the YW packet that I'm kinda creating.
Sugardoodle's page for General Conference will all kinds of print-outs, activities, food ideas, etc.
Once I get a packet compiled that I like, I plan to make copies for each of the girls in our young women organization.  Then we are going to attach a bag of microwavable popcorn with a tag that says something like, "Pop in for the broadcast" & I think it would be nice to include the local dates and times that the girls can watch since that might not be the same day/time as it's broadcasted from Salt Lake City.
P.S. I've updated the YW links on my sidebar.  Please feel free to leave me a comment if you come across other great YW websites or blogs that you would like to share with me.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Whole Wheat Bread - Tuesdays with Dorie

It's 11:28pm, so this is gonna be quick.

Hubby & Turkey took me out of lunch today & then helped me mix up the ingredients for our dough this afternoon.  We started around 1:00pm & hot bread came out of the oven before 5:00pm.  Not too bad.  Today's recipe was a pretty simple and quick recipe for whole wheat bread, but let me just clarify that by saying I'm not really a bread baker, so I may have no idea what I'm talking about. I do know that the smell of baking bread is hard to beat!

My family of 5 ate a whole loaf of the bread with our dinner {soup} tonight & my girls have already informed me that they want me to pack some in their lunch tomorrow.  

Most of the ingredients are ones that many of us probably have in the pantry, except for the malt extract, which I just replaced with molasses or you can just leave it out all together.  If you'd like to check-out the recipe and possibly try it yourself, go HERE or HERE.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Nectarine Chiffon Upside Down Cake - Tuesdays with Dorie

Hubby usually mows the grass before work and because he's usually in a hurry, he doesn't have a lot of time to tend to anything else in the yard.  Yesterday he got up and worked for several hours in the yard.  We hope it will cool off 10-20+ degrees soon so that the kids can start enjoying the backyard again!!  While Hubby worked outside, I worked in the kitchen making the Nectarine Chiffon Upside Down Cake.  I planned to served it for a late breakfast but then we were invited to a Labor Day bar-b-q/swim party and our job was to bring the dessert.  I didn't want to spend a rare family day baking, so we decided to skip breakfast and use the cake for party dessert. 

I was worried the cake would taste too breakfast-y, but we were not disappointed.  Everyone tried the cake and had positive reviews ... some even came back for seconds.  I enjoyed the texture but I wanted to taste more of the lemon juice that was added to the batter.  I think if I make the recipe again, I might add a little lemon zest depending on the fruit I choose to go with it.  I'd love to try this recipe with apples and pineapple sometime in the near future.

I made a streusel that went in the middle of the cake and it was used for the crust as well.  I couldn't find ginger in the cupboard, so instead of cinnamon and ginger in my streusel, I used Trader Joe's pumpkin pie spice.  My house smelled so yummy when the streusel was in the oven and one taster commented on how flavorful the streusel was, so the pumpkin pie spice was a hit! This cake went well with vanilla ice cream and it would be a great for a bunch, baby shower, or anytime something sweet is needed.

My only complaint is the time it took to put this cake together because of all the different parts, but I hope that it will go a bit quicker next time now that I've tried it once.

If you'd like to get the recipe, go HERE or HERE.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Popovers - Tuesdays with Dorie

After two weeks of school, I feel like we are starting to get into a routine.  We're all still a bit tired, especially my cute kindergartner ... she's still having a melt-down every afternoon.  Last night after apologizing to me, she looked at me and said, "I'm tiiiiired."  Poor girl!  She's being super good and obedient at school and even earning extra stamps and treasures, so I think by the time she gets home, she is totally pooped.  Anywho, I hope I can get back into more cooking and baking now that we're getting back into a routine.

I wanted to make popovers for breakfast and serve them with scrambled eggs, but getting up an hour earlier to make the popovers was not appealing.  I decided to make them yesterday and use up some potatoes in a pot of soup to go with my popovers. 

I doubled my popover recipe and sent leftover popovers and soup with the girls in their lunch today.  And since I haven't been baking as much recently, I didn't have any whole milk in my fridge, so I used half & half with a drizzle of skim milk. :)  I also thought I'd cut corners and spray my muffin tins with Pam, but I don't recommend it ... all my rolls stuck to the pan ... should've just used the butter like I was supposed to! *UPDATE: After reading a few blogs, it sounds like buttering the pans didn't work-out great for everyone either.  Maybe it needs butter with a little flour??

The recipe says to bake the popovers at 425* for 25 minutes ... after 17 minutes my popovers were looking too done, so at that point I turned the oven down to 350*.  I was supposed to bake them at 350* for another 15-20 minutes, but after 10 minutes, some of my popovers were beyond done.  

I did a little experimenting with my different muffin tins.  I poured batter into every other cup of my Wilton Pan like I was supposed to.  My popovers in the Wilton pan came out better but they were burned on the bottoms and sides and had darker tops too.  I had lots of batter leftover to I filled every cup in my Calphalon pan.  This batch of popovers actually puffed up better and ended up having more unique/fun tops and they didn't burn at all, but these ones stuck horribly to the pan.  So take it or leave it but I don't think I'll be using Wilton or Pam for popovers in the future.

Even though my popovers weren't pretty, they still tasted good.  Much to my dismay, my son had fun filling the inside of his popover with soup.  Happy Tuesday!!

If you'd like to try Julia Child's recipe for popovers, you can get it HERE or HERE.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mission Accomplished

Done! Found two purple flowers for Peacock's hair on sale at Children's Place today. $1.63 total for both flowers!

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First Day of School

Today is a day for lots of changes and firsts for our family.  Up until now, I have been homeschooling my kids, but we felt like we were ready for a change and I was feeling like the girls needed this change.

Penguin (4th Grade) is very excited about all the social aspects of school and hopes to make lots of friends.  Her biggest worry about going to school is whether or not she will make friends.  She's outgoing and fun, so I have no worries.  I also have no doubts that she'll come home today with lots of email addresses that she got from her new classmates.

Peacock (Kindergarten) didn't seem to have any worries or concerns except which of her many pairs of purple shoes she should wear today & the fact that her mother didn't have a glamorous purple bow for her hair. (She doesn't usually request a bow. How was I to know?!? First item on my to-do list today it to find a nice purple bow or flower.)  She also wasn't too fond of the the walk from the off-site parking lot to the school ... and then she had to walk to the opposite end of campus to get to her classroom ... in almost 100-degree weather!  (YES! It really was that hot at 8:30am!!)  She went right into her room, put her backpack in her cubby, got organized at her desk, and immediately dug into the worksheet that was waiting for her to start.

After Turkey & I dropped the girls off, we enjoyed breakfast at the school where were met lots of other very nice mom's.  All the parents at my table were raving about both of the teachers that the girls got this year.  It sounds like both teachers are the highest requested teachers for their grade levels.  Penguin's teacher sounds excellent & I'm told that Peacock's teacher has been teaching at the school for forever and will have her class the most prepared and ready to move onto 1st grade.

I'm so excited to pick my girls up this afternoon and hear about their first day of school!!

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Blueberry Marscapone {Roulade} Trifle - French Fridays with Dorie

I think I'm a week + a day late on this recipe.  We're busy this summer and it seems like when we have a free day, I just wanna be lazy and not do too many extras.  One of my favorite lazy-day activities, so far, has been watching the Star Wars movies because my kids had never seen any of the movies and 2 of the 6 were new to me too.   I think #2 is my fave, but we still need to watch #5 & #6.

I wanted to try this recipe, but I also wanted to make it as quick & easy (& mess-free) as possible.  Instead of rolling my cake to make a roulade, I just cut my cake into bite-size pieces and turned my dessert into a trifle.  I like raspberries better than blueberries, but I decided to stick to the recipe and try the blueberries ... they were great with the recipe.  I also drizzled a tiny bit of orange juice over my cake pieces which added another flavor to the mix and sweetened the cake a little.  I walked away from my heavy cream while it was whipping, so it got a little well-done.  Kinda ugly looking, but it still tasted good.

Overall I give this recipe 4 out of 5 stars.  I didn't love the cake.  It was good, but I'd probably try this with a different cake recipe next time.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

We are Young

Another $0.25 Amazon song for you to help you enjoy the rest of your summer.

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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Call Me Maybe

Hope you are all enjoying a great summer!!  We're busy here with trips to the library, museums, swim team, dance classes, music camp, playing with friends, swimming several times a week, etc, etc, etc.

My 9-yr old went to a birthday party a few weeks ago.  She came home and introduced the other kids & me to Carly Rae Jepsen's song, Call Me Maybe. We're having fun listening to it around the house & in the car when we're on the go.  If you're looking for a fun, upbeat song, you can buy it right now on Amazon for $0.25!


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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Giving Away Grins

 We are proud of our Mister after a busy & productive weekend.  Hubby worked hard on Saturday to help open a new dental office in town.  To help promote their grand opening, they gave away free dental care on Saturday morning at their newest location in Mesa, AZ.

Over 200 patients showed up to receive free dental care on a first come, first served basis.  The doors opened at 8am, but the line started well before 6am.  At one point in the morning, I heard a patient called back to see the doctor.  As he walked past me, he mentioned to the assistant that he showed-up at 6:30am to get in line.  I glanced down at my watch ... it was 10:50am ... wow!  In 4 hours, several dentists gave free dental care to 55 people in the community.  Everyone else who was still patiently waiting got vouchers to come back another day for their free dental care.  In all, over $20,000 in dental care & $15,000 in ortho discounts were given away on Saturday morning.

The kids & I spent the morning at the party to give our support to Hubby and Grins Dental.  A special thanks to our friends & family who also showed-up to offer their support!!

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French Strawberry Cake - Tuesdays with Dorie

Don't let the title of this post fool you.  No, this is not a French Fridays recipe, but a French recipe we are baking for Tuesdays with Dorie.  And let's cut to the chase ... I LOVED this recipe!!  I loved our French Friday's recipe for quartre-quarts so much that I've made it a few times and this week's cake recipe was very similar.  WAY better than traditional/American shortcake!!  I love the dense, vanilla-y cake with sweet, juicy berries.

Yesterday I was pooped ... no motivation ... tired.  I keep getting to bed too late at night and things are busy and going at my house by 6am every morning.  I was grumpy & tired and so were my children.  By 4:00 in the afternoon, I was at my wit's end with sassy attitudes, disobedience, being told NO!, etc, etc, etc.  I quickly decided it would be best if we all take a break from each other and rest a bit before Dad got home from work.  The kids were all sent to their rooms ... Penguin read for a while and Peacock kept trying to sneak out of her room but she eventually fell asleep & slept almost FOUR hours!  Turkey had a nap too and I must admit that I fell asleep next to him for about 30 minutes.  After my quick nap, I came down and got busy with my strawberry cake and had some nice, quiet, relaxing time to myself.  For whatever reason I was a bit worried about making this recipe, but once I got into it, it went very quickly.

I think my cake had enough height to make 3 layers, but when I was ready to assemble everything, the cake was just barely cool enough to cut and I didn't trust myself to make the 3 layers.  I was thinking it might be fun to double the cake recipe and do 4 thicker layers sometime. Or use this cake in my English Trifle recipe instead of pound cake.

{working on the first layer}

I chose to not frost the sides of the cake because I liked seeing the insides and thought it was pretty.  I also just dumped the remainder of the strawberries and the juices on top of my cake.  I'm sure I wasn't supposed to do that....

It turned out fun & yummy & the extra juice made the frosting fall down the sides of the cake.  I think I'm gonna go eat some leftovers now for my mid-morning snack.  My children will be jealous.  I might share.

We have two hosts this week who shared the recipe on their blog.

Sophia's Sweets

Think, Love, Sleep, Dine

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Swimming Lessons ~ May 2012

Thanks to our wonderful swim teacher!!

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Time & Bakerella's Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Everyday on our way home from picking up Penguin from swim team practice, the kids start dreaming up all kinds of things they'd like for breakfast.  Monday they wanted Bushka's homemade granola, Tuesday it was doughnuts, yesterday it was cheesy scrambled eggs, and today they were after muffins. I knew once I got home, I could look at my Pinterest board & find something muffin-y with some chocolate.  A while ago, I pinned Bakerella's Chocolate Chunk Muffins.  Peacock & Turkey helped me make the muffin batter while Penguin went to change out of her wet clothes hide in her room and read a book in hopes that I'd forget about her so she could spend the morning reading.

Bakerella's Muffins were quick & easy.  From the time we got home, gathered ingredients, waited for muffins to bake, etc, we were sitting down to eat in less than hour.  I doubled the recipe and got 24 nice-sized muffins ... more than enough for us, some saved for Dad, a large plateful to a neighbor who recently had a baby, and some to our favorite swim teacher along with a surprise visit at her work along with kid-made thank-you notes.

First we mixed up the dry ingredients:

Then we mixed up the wet ingredients:

Time to mix everything together:

We filled 24 cupcake liners:

TIME for breakfast:

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