Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I love to paint. At least I usually think I do, until I get half way through.
Several years ago, my husband and I had some oops paint, which we decided to experiment with. The final product was a peach accent wall (I'm not sure what it was accenting though.) Yes - for three years my wall in my bedroom has been peach. I'm not really a peachy type of girl by the way - and I've hated it, but never had the time to get around to changing it. So, yesterday, I got rid of the peach. I have a wonderful friend who assisted me in the entire process from start to finish - thanks for the help! Here are some pics from the project, along with the final product.
I LOVE how it turned out!
Here's the before:

Here's the during - how could I NOT resist this self portrait? (I say that ANYONE who does this on someone else's camera deserves to have it posted on the web - there's no argument!)

Finally, here it is all dried and put back together.

What a man!

So, I recently had a birthday. I just had to post these photos of my man. He came home from work early because he had to 'get some things done.'
He made me a German chocolate cake (my favorite), with homemade frosting.
What an awesome job - I'm so blessed to have such a fantastic, amazing husband.
Thanks sweetie!
Check out the intense concentration!

Finished product

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Poke the Pappa!

So, we came home from church today and our youngest (the first to enter the house again) came back out telling us there was (yes, once again) a fire inside.
Oh, my.

We were a bit skeptical, but since I continue to re-use (and dishwash) sour cream cartons it was possible, but how can I toss them?...this is green Colorado - come on! However, it was true. Our house smelled like an old hotel lounge - nasty old smoke and all. As I continued into the kitchen, I opened the oven door and easily identified the problem.
This morning, in our haste to rush out the door, I frantically scrubbed a few potatoes, turned the oven to time bake (so they'd be hot and ready when we walked in the door since we never seem to be able to catch breakfast on Sunday mornings) and threw the potatoes in as we rushed out the door.

Now - I specifically remember my 8th grade home economics teacher telling us that you have to poke a potato with a fork or knife before MICROWAVING it. But nothing - nothing about just normal oven baked potatoes. Apparently, she never told us - but it is true - they will explode. I have the photo to prove it. It completely lost half of itself!

And here's the shell of what was left:

And now - we have candles burning in every room of the house - trying to get rid of that lounge smell... what will the home teachers think?
And so finally, the moral of this story - always poke your potatoes.

By the way - on an editorial note - it IS possible for me to write about something other than the weather, food, and fires. I'll let you know when I do.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Cactus for Dinner?

So - I've been lugging a recipe around for over four years. I found it in the gourmet section of the newspaper several years ago, and I've had it on my menu at least six different times each year, and then chickened out. I finally decided to make it. Since I know some of my readers may be skeptical, I thought I'd do a photo documentation - I know you are just fascinated. Move over Emeril. Anyways - my friend said that she felt sorry for my family - can you believe it?? I think what she meant is that she and her family are totally jealous of my culinary prowess and she wishes SHE could make cactus soup. Just for that - here's the recipe

Mushroom Cactus Soup with Tomatillos
(Doesn't that title just sound AWESOME?)

1 lb. (approx. 2) nopales (cactus leaves)
1/2 lb. ripe tomatoes (2 med)
1/2 large onion
8 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 c. chopped jalapeño
1/4 t. crushed anise seeds
olive oil
6 c. vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 lb. (5 med) tomatillos, husked and washed
8 large sprigs cilantro

Pre-heat broiler
If nopales have needles/spikes, carefully trim from cactus with scissors or knife.
After removing needles, scrub with clean plastic scouring pad. Rinse with water and brush with olive oil.
Broil, turning occasionally until limp, approx. 10-15 minutes.

Set on large plate to cool, when cool, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then cut each half into 1/4 inch slices. Set aside.

Place tomatillos and tomatoes whole on baking sheet and broil until soft and blackened in spots - approx. 4 minutes each side. Once cool, peel tomatoes.

Combine garlic, jalapeño, onion, and anise with enough olive oil to sauté vegetables in large stock pot. (Note, use gloves when seeding and chopping jalapeños. Removing inner seeds and veins will greatly reduce the jalapeños'heat.) Cook over medium until onions are tender and garlic is fragrant (6 min.)
Combine tomatoes and tomatillos in food processor with 2 cups stock and cilantro. Puree until chunky smooth. Add this to garlic and onion mixture along with remaining stock, and simmer over medium. Add thinly sliced mushrooms.

Cover, allow to simmer 20 minutes.

Add cactus to soup and simmer 5 minutes more.

Just for the record - the cactus has almost an asparagus like texture and maybe taste. The broth is amazing - it almost reminds me of a taco soup (but better) type broth. I thought the soup was fantastic. One of my kids said it was 'delicioso,' the other stated it was 'awful' - that's the picky one that doesn't like much of anything though. My husband said it was good - he really liked the broth, but didn't love the cactus. They ate it all at dinner if that was any indication. Any way you look at it - what a fun adventure!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Soccer Season has begun

Yesterday was our first real day of soccer. Yes, officially, - the season started at the beginning of the month, however, we've only been able to have 2 practices (one cut short) due to inclement weather. Thankfully, yesterday was bright and clear. Church was fun today, you could tell who all had kids doing soccer, and what time of the day their kids' games were in relation to their first of the season sunburns. I'm sure next Saturday there will be much more sunscreen, and fewer sunburns on Sunday. Anyways - I thought that pictures were being frantically taken (once again by that unnamed person), but I only found one. So - here it is. We did great in the game - even though we lost. There were a few exciting moments, most of them consisted of our yelling, while the shoelace was being tied and the ball was coming in that direction! It was pretty fun for a first time game... I can't wait to see how it all looks at the end of the season!
Our child came out of the game talking the talk. It was a great morning! Go team go!

Another Recipe

Today while exercising his culinary skills, some unnamed person happened to spill something in my recipe book. Normally, I wouldn't care, but in the inside pages of my recipe book, I've handwritten a few favorite recipes that I've picked up along the way. The pages were glued together, and even re-wetting them and gently prying was not effective in salvaging some of my favorites.
One of my favorites which was lost today was for Pecan Praline Cookies. In October of 2003, our newspaper ran a story of a firefighter cook-off in California. One of the prize winning recipes was from a Terry O'Reilly - and I loved this recipe - the cookies are great and they look fantastic too!
I was SO relieved to find in on the web - so I thought I'd post it here for posterities' sake. Yes, another recipe. By the way - if you ever make Kalua Pork (especially on Passover) 3 T. of salt is WAY too much!

Pecan Praline Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
11/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
11/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the icing:
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup whole pecans
In large mixer bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.
In another bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt; mix into butter mixture to blend thoroughly. Form tablespoons of dough into balls and place, spaced 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until lightly browned. Cool on pans 10 minutes, then remove to racks to cool completely.
To make icing: In small saucepan over medium heat, mix brown sugar and cream; bring to boil. Cook and stir 2 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in powdered sugar; stir until smooth. Dip bottoms of pecans into icing and place 2 on each cookie; drizzle tops with icing.
Makes about 3 dozen (23/4-inch) cookies.
- Recipe from Terry O'Reilly of Ferndale, Calif., Volunteer Fire Department

Thursday, April 17, 2008

911 FIRE!

So here's how the story goes. On Tuesday, it was beautiful out, so my daughter and I decided to walk down to the library and picnic at the park. We had a beautiful time and the weather was gorgeous. We had to hurry to get back home before the other came home from school - and it was all uphill. So - we were hustling - I was dragging the wagon. We were huffing and puffing up the hills, and barely made it home in time. Actually my youngest daughter beat me there (how she glibly runs up hills, I'm just not sure.) Additionally, we had super high winds that day, and so I was red faced, and a little disheveled due to the crazy whipping wind we'd been experiencing.

As I walked up the drive, my little one had already entered the house. She exited and said, "Mom, the house is on fire!" I questioned this in my mind and wasn't too concerned but quickly came inside. True - once inside, I could smell the unmistakable smell of something burning. Carrying the extinguisher, I went through the house, turned off all of the appliances, and tried to track down the offensive smell - to no avail. I called a friend who had a similar experience this winter, when due to a furnace malfunction, her house could have imploded. She said that there was a number you could call and they would just check it out - but it wasn't the bells, lights and whistles of the 911 deal. I called the number - told them I didn't think it was an emergency, I just wanted to see if they could come check it out (she told me they have a nifty machine that detects heat.)
Meanwhile, I straightened a few things up and we waited. Suddenly - I heard sirens coming up the street. Not only did we get the firetruck (yes the really big one), we also got the police and an ambulance. They all parked at the front and 6 fully decked out guys got out with all of their equipment etc. Yes, I was fairly chagrined.

They came in and asked us to please wait outside. They went through the entire house, and finally, they found the problem. I had isolated the smell mainly to the kitchen/living room area - and sure enough. One of the firemen came out of the house with a melted lid from a sour cream container that had been in the dishwasher. Apparently, while we had been out, the dishwasher had been going, and the lid had fallen on top of the dishwasher's heating element.

The firemen were very nice about it and said that they'd much rather that it was this than something else, but...
Yes, - I was fairly embarrassed - yes chagrined, AND embarrassed!

And yes - I only took these photos from a crack from the front door - I didn't want to be THAT obvious about it!

Recent Photos

I thought I'd post some recent photos - yes I've been taking them, just not posting.
For the birthday - we decided not to do a big party like we've done in the past since we have more celebrations coming up next month for her. Instead she invited six friends over to play. We still did some games and had cake and ice cream, but it wasn't the traditional birthday party, and honestly, much of it was spent out on the tramp. Much less stress for me!

As you can see - we are REALLY ready for spring! The snow still tastes good though!

Here are some pictures of my growing garden (albeit a few weeks ago.) I will be putting it in the ground soon, (I was hoping today, but due to the storm last night that left about 3 inches of snow - it may wait until tomorrow.)

Here's some wheat bread I made a couple of weeks ago.

I thought this photo was kind of random. I just meant to take a picture when my rototiller got here, but then - how often do you see two ups truck like this in front of your house? We could just see their hands as they passed some things back and forth and synchronized their little machines.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Recent Recipes - Fast, easy and impressive

I always tell people I'll give them the recipe for something and then I forget and never do it. That may be one of the reasons why I have so many friends - you can count on me.
So - I decided I'd post a few of my more recent and favorite ones.
This first I found while looking through a friend's recipes. It was a handwritten recipe titled 'cornflake globs,' which honestly doesn't sound very appealing. However, after looking over the recipe I realized they were a recipe that I remember from my childhood - the original "Barf Bars". Yes - as unappetizing as they sound, I was thrilled to chance upon them. My daughter made them, and all of my friends (and hers) seemed to like them and want the recipe. As a kid, I remember someone taking them to school as their birthday treat, and my friends clamoring over them on other occasions. Despite the unpalatable title, here they are - the bonus is that they take approximately 5 minutes to make - maybe 10 to cool?, and use only 4 ingredients which you may already have in your home right now...(quick FHE treat anyone?)

Barf Bars
1 c. light corn syrup (this would be in color rather than calories)
1 c. sugar
1 c. peanut butter
6 c. cheerios

Mix syrup and sugar in sauce pan and bring to a boil while stirring. Allow to cook for 2 minutes while stirring constantly. Add peanut butter to mixture, mix, then pour over cheerios and stir until coated. Pour contents onto a piece of waxed paper, or into a 9x13 pan (greased or sprayed with Pam), and mold into shape of pan (like you do with rice krispy treats). Allow to cool, and cut into bars. Once you see the finished product, you may understand the title. Apparently, they can be made with corn flakes as well.

Another super quick, 4 ingredient recipe:
This is a great treat, especially for those who love english toffee, but who may be intimidated by candy making, or short on time.

Mock Toffee

1 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
1-2 c. milk chocolate chips
1-2 packages saltine crackers (salted)
1/2 c. chopped almonds (optional garnish)

Pre-heat oven to 400*.
In saucepan bring butter and brown sugar to a boil over medium heat. Once bubbles begin to start, do NOT stir. Allow to boil for three minutes. Meanwhile, line cookie sheet with saltine crackers, salty side up (pan may be lined with foil for easier clean up.) Once mixture has boiled for 3 minutes, pour over saltines and spread evenly. Place in oven for 5 minutes. Remove and immediately sprinkle milk chocolate chips on top. When they have melted, spread evenly. Garnish with chopped nuts almonds and allow to cool. Break into pieces to serve.
**NOTE: You must use milk chocolate chips for this recipe as semi-sweet chips will not set up after melting.

I found the following recipe on a RS calendar/bulletin last fall and it looked interesting so I saved it. It received rave reviews from everyone at my husband's office:

Earthquake Cake

Coconut to cover bottom of 9x13 pan
1 c. chopped nuts
1 German chocolate cake mix (I used devils food - still worked great)
1 stick margarine
1 lb. powdered sugar (4 c.)
1 8 oz cream cheese brick

Grease pan. Cover bottom with coconut, then nuts. Prepare cake mix as directed. Pour over coconut and nuts. Combine margarine, cream cheese and powdered sugar and cream together. Spoon over cake but do not mix (yes this is a weird part - I ended up using my hands and trying to sort of place/spread it out - but do it anyways.) Bake at 350 for one hour (I think mine took a little less due to altitude - check it when it REALLY smells like a cooked cake.)
**This is called earthquake cake because when it is done it looks like an earthquake hit it. This is fun as it definitely isn't your everyday cake. Also works in a dutch oven and serves well either hot or cold.

My addictive salad
A friend invited us for dinner and I helped her make this salad - since then, I've slightly adapted it, and have become addicted to it - and I have always hated oil and vinegar dressings!

Drizzle approximately 2-3 T. olive oil in the bottom of salad bowl (depending on how big your salad will be). Add 1-2 finely chopped fresh garlic cloves. Add 1-3 t. dill (fresh or dried). Allow to seep for 5-10 minutes. Add salad greens (not iceberg,) 1/2 c. Craisins, and 1/2 c. nuts of your choice (I generally use whole toasted almonds) and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to coat all ingredients with olive oil. Add enough balsamic vinegar to coat, and toss everything again in the vinegar. Parmesan or feta cheese may be added as a garnish. Serve immediately.

I learned that if you toss first with the olive oil and later with the vinegar, you don't have to deal with the oily taste (which I hate) nor any separation problems.

I'd love to hear if/how they turn out for you...and for the record - I can and do cook healthy stuff too. My husband recently started taking treats into work on staff meeting days, so I've been enjoying trying new recipes. Sigh...I'm so domestic.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


I am SO dead. We spent a pretty crazy day today, and it may take us weeks to recover! We started out the morning sleeping in (which I have to say is very nice, and since when is 7:15 sleeping in?).
Anyways, my husband ran to the auto parts store while I made breakfast, and then a friend stopped by to help us get the fuel pump back in the car (which they'd taken out 3 weeks ago). He decided to have breakfast with us, and then they went out to work.

Meanwhile, I decided to get rid of some cardboard boxes that were in the front room. I personally assembled our little rototiller - and felt very cool when it was all assembled and worked and everything! No masculine help whatsoever!

Once they got the fuel pump in, my husband took over and got it gassed up and going. He had a blast tilling the garden - I was sort of jealous (except that I did it all last year -so I was okay to share). After he tilled, I hoed (boy that's a fun verb to try and figure out how to conjugate) and cleaned out all the weeds and rocks that were unearthed. I then went through the strawberry and raspberry patches cleaning out all the old leaves and debris. What a job! Before we started, we put together a compost device, which I'm afraid is just a couple of pieces of plastic - but we'll see how they work. Meanwhile, my husband decided to try out the thatch attachment for the tiller. He started to de-thatch the grass. What a project...the girls and I were in charge of raking all of the grass that was de-thatched, and boy that baby worked. I have several blisters. I finally resorted to filling up the wagon and hauling all of the dead/dry grass. On the front side of our house I think I got 4 wagon loads alone! The composter is now completely full, as is our trash can - and we have no place to put our garbage...
But - our yard looks great. We planted a couple of bulbs, but most importantly, we got ALL of the toys from last summer (previously hidden under the snow) out of the yard. It almost looks like a yard, and we even got some week killer put down which we hope will clean everything out of the garden before we begin planting.

Anyways - no, I didn't wear sunscreen, yes I got sunburned, yes part of our lawn was still frozen and ice chunks came up, yes our lawn looks better than our neighbors', and yes I'm exhausted and going to bed. I surpassed all of even my own expectations for getting things done today. We even had time for a trip to get some sewing things I need, and to thankfully, let someone else make dinner for us. Too bad it took us so long to get there and back, because it took too much effort to push that gas pedal down to more than 50 mph. (Never thought you'd hear me say that one huh?) :)
Ah...to sleep - there's the rub. That's it - I'm out.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Its finally here!

After four years of deliberation, debate, hand turning, borrowing, and compromise, we finally agreed, and it came today. Here's our new baby!

Yes - I know, we must be sick and wrong, and WHO gets excited about this? Me. I can't wait to get my garden planted in the ground. Our pumpkin plants (yes in the front room) are getting root bound, and sick. They also have yellow buds getting ready to open up - they need more space! I can't wait to give it to them - this is SO exciting. Did I mention that it has been snowing all week? I'm not sure how wet the dirt will be, but I just need a small patch for these guys, and to throw out my weed killer.

Today, I've been busily cleaning, running errands and sewing - yes I am making the baptism dress - I hope it turns out - of course since I'm a great seamstress - well that remains to be seen. Every week a couple of friends come over and we have lunch together and sew on our projects - a friend is working on the same pattern for her daughter, and another friend gives us helpful hints and advice - as such, I believe there is hope.

I think I'll be getting an early birthday present today since both of my sewing machines have given up. I've had machine envy ever since a couple of my friends got new ones last fall when they were on sale at the local warehouse. Well, they are there again - just in the nick of time. What a pity - this dress is getting rather costly.

I am proud to state that this week instead of blogging, I cleared 6 baskets of clean laundry from my room - which is now spotless, and my upstairs and book room also got cleaned. My drawers and cupboards still remain clean (from the previous cleaning out they got before Easter). I helped out at the school this week with the kindergarten round up - they always need me to translate and help the kids who don't speak english, so I got to help with this once again. Yesterday I got my menu and shopping list through the beginning of May planned out, and I'm slowly working to get everything back into a civilized state again. I'd really love to re-claim my front room from the garden area, and get my stuff out into the ground under the walls of water.

I'm sure I'll post the photos of the garden as soon as it gets in - for all of you gardening enthusiasts out there!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

According to an exhaustive Disney personality test, I am...

Free-spirited and wise. With a strong passionate spirit that touches and changes all who know me. The wisdom and common sense that I have is really what guides me through life. Even so, I also have a very playful side that loves adventure and excitement.

I am Pocahantas (evidently with too much time on my hands)- who are you?

Which Disney Princess Are You?


People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind,
people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful,
you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building,
someone could destroy overnight.
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough;
Give the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis
it is between you and God;
it was never between you and them anyway.
Mother Teresa

This is probably one of my all time favorite quotes. It is so true. Kudos to my husband - I was struggling through some stuff yesterday - thought I'd had some closure on some things, and heard from a friend that some people have been slandering me - it re-opened what I'd just closed and went a little deeper. Anyways, I was reminded last night that in the end - I have to stand before the Savior and HE knows. It really doesn't matter what others think or say (even though it feels like it) - what really matters is how I stand before God. That's it. Sometimes its good to remember. ANYWAYS

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

April 2, 2008

Spring appears to finally be on its way in! Hooray.
Although I am working on some changes. During sunday school, we talked about Jacob - and how he labored to write the things which were most important. I thought about what I write about in my blog - yes - the WEATHER. So - I'm working hard to only write about the important things (who said haircuts and pedicures aren't important?) So at least - I'm going to try.

Its been an adjustment to not be teaching seminary, although there are some great perks. I'm still getting up super early (why break the habit I guess). However, I'm really enjoying going back to the books like Psalms and Proverbs etc which we were only able to really spend one day on, and to slow down and REALLY go through them. I'm especially excited about Isaiah - I'm going to take a lot of time on that one - and I can't wait! (Yes - certifiably crazy) But it has been great to get up and have 1+ hours to just study for me. I've been using a journal off and on to write down stuff that really hits me, and to jot down my thoughts as I read. Its amazing how much more meaningful it makes it for me. I've decided that I will continue to use my earlymorningmoments seminary blog, where I'll periodically post some cool stuff I've learned or gone over. I'm going to continue to work on it as though I was teaching (but at a slower pace)so I'll still be using all of the same reference materials etc. So - check it out periodically - cause I'll still share.
This morning in Psalms I found a bunch of chiasmas - I just think they are super cool and the people who used them are pretty darn smart - I get excited just to be able to recognize them!

Earlier this week the roads were all closed for about 14 hours due to a horrific storm which stranded obscene amounts of travelers and included fatalities. I know I obsess about the weather, but in the mountains, it changes so quickly and drastically. I'm so grateful that my family was protected - but it reminds me how quickly and fleeting life can be.
I'm working hard to spend more time with my kids and be a better wife and mom. Its spring and I'm amazed at how much more relaxed I am - I feel like I have a new lease on life - lots of changes coming - pretty exciting. We are starting soccer this week as well..I'm a little tentative, but I figure it's at least worth a try once!

My iris' are coming up - that's pretty exciting too! Finally - today I did get a pedicure, but the best part of the day was teaching a friend to make wheat bread, and then going for my first outdoor run of the season - it was AWESOME. The sun shining, my daughter keeping up with me, and just that amazing endorphin release, and the clear fresh air. Life doesn't get much better. There's so much to be grateful for!