Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Playing In the Beads....

Silver, pewter, gray swarovskis, light gray fresh water pearls, gray glass flat beads, gray etched glass beads, just a hodge podge of silvers. Waiting for some silver crimp covers to finish it.

I was having fun and making these for myself. I don't have anything to wear the bracelets with, but the watch goes with just about everything I own. Hhhhmmmm, may need to go shopping.
Yellow turquoise, silver spacers, gray swarovskis, and I don't remember the bigger round gray beads.

Red coral, freshwater lentils, swarovski squares, lampwork glass, recycled glass, silver, freshwater pearl, etched glass, etc.... Also waiting on crimp covers to finish.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sugar Hangover....

Oh, my heavens, the house smells sickeningly sweet. In the treat tins this year: Saltine Toffee with Milk Chocolate, Saltine Toffee with White Chocolate and crushed Heath Bars, Oatmeal Butterscotch Raisin and Pecan Cookies, White Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Peanut Butter Cookies. And we also dip a variety of goodies into white chocolate and Christmas Sprinkles or Crushed Candy Canes, or Crushed Heath Bars. The dippers are Chocolate Marshmallows, Pretzels, Fortune Cookies, and Gingersnap Cookies.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Legacy of Love....

Sorry for the lack of posts, this is what I've been up to though.
This was a presentation for our Stake Enrichment Meeting. Photos contributed by the members of the Modesto North Stake. I know a few of these people in the video, however the rest, wow! What a feeling of joy, happiness, peace, love, I felt. The veil is thin while in the process of doing geneology and sharing their stories.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pumpkin Spice Kiss Chocolate Brownies

Hershey's Pumpkin Spice Kisses! Yes, just the saying that is evil! But, Hershey's ACTUALLY did it! They are of the debil!

I picked up several bags today, with the thought of letting Mr. D take some to work, but he may not get them! He can have the Candy Corn Kisses(bleck), but the Pumpkin Spice are MINE! He keeps Kisses on his desk at work. If he makes a kid cry, he makes it up to them with a "Kiss". Chocolate makes everything better, especially the girls.

Now, the really devilish part: Pumpkin Spice Kiss Brownies Can you believe that?!!!! I'll be lazy and just add some vanilla and the pumpkin spice to a box mix, I'm pretty sure it won't be awful.

Pumpkin Spice Kiss Chocolate Brownies

(adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, pages 92-93)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, at room temperature
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
45 Hershey’s Pumpkin Pie Spice Kisses, unwrapped

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil and place the pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk the flour, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon together.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate melts. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring until it melts. It’s important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you’ve got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them-it’s better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter mixture, mixing only until it is incorporated-you’ll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds-the dry ingredients won’t be completely incorporated. Then finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula. Fold in the raisins, along with any liquid remaining in the pan. Scrape the batter into the pan.

Place the unwrapped kisses in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on HIGH for 1 minute. Stir until smooth, and then drop by spoonfuls into the brownie batter. Using a knife, swirl the batter to create a marbled effect.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Rootbeer Cookies....

These are our favorite cookies! I grew up making these from a Betty Crocker cook book just for kids, but the book was lost. I've tried several recipes, the ones calling for buttermilk are just yuck. This is the latest and our most favorite one. They're soft on the inside, and the glaze keeps them moist even though it does harden a bit. Enjoy!

Rootbeer Cookies
1 stick butter flavored Crisco shortening stick (Or ½ cup shortening, ½ cup Nucoa marg.)
1 1/2 C packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbl. Rootbeer Extract
½ tsp baking soda
2 ½ C all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350’. Mix first 5 ingredients together. Add baking soda and flour, all at once and mix again. Using a small cookie scoop place about 2 in. apart on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake 8-12 minutes, just until light golden edges. (If you double this recipe only use 3 eggs, instead of 4).

Rootbeer Cookie Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. Rootbeer Extract
1/8-1/4 cup milk
2 Tbl. softened butter or margarine

Combine all ingredients until they are the consistency of "shampoo". Put in a disposable piping bag, cut the tip off, and pipe a circle and then fill in. Do this on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet when the cookies are COOL.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

My Contribution to Mermaid's Twilight Obsession....

LDS YW Version! I saw a blinkie that said, "My heart belongs to my husband, but my neck belongs to Edward". Mermaid loved it so much that we had to come up with something appropriate for her. For those of my non-LDS audience, RM stands for Return Missionary. She's off at a celebration party for the release of Breaking Dawn with some girls from church, they tried to think of some Twilight themed snacks, but we couldn't come up with anything besides soda and brownies. The girls thought the Quileute "bonfire" food didn't sound very appetizing, lol. We made a sign for her friend, E, hosting the party in sparkly blue and put the quote, "I like my men cold, dead, and sparkly". Hopefully her mom doesn't mind, E had told us she had too many on her facebook and narrowed it down to that one and one other, but that was her favorite, so I hope she likes it. E was almost done with the book already, past page 700 already, and she had a swim meet today!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Yummy Healthier Brownies, mmmmmmm

1 box family size low fat brownie mix
1 can pumpkin
1 egg white
2 Tbl. mini semi-sweet choc. chips

This is THICK, so it's just fine to use a mixer. Add the choc. chips after the first three ingredients are mixed well. Bake in a greased(bottom only) 9x13 pan at 350' for 26 minutes.

UPDATE: The brownies are GONE! lol I had 1 1/2, and the rest have been devoured by the late night snackers. They don't usually go for my diet stuff, but even dh who doesn't like sweets said he LOVES these brownies. I thought they were good, I've had better, but these really are yummy and taste totally sinful(that's the most important part, right?) ;)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Easy "Cobbler"

Oh, this is too good! Preheat oven to 350'. Take any 2 cans of pie filling(we tried lemon pie filling last night and it was to die for) and spread evenly into a 9x13" greased pan. Mix one box of cake mix, we used "Butter Recipe Yellow", with one cube(1/2 cup) very soft to melted margarine(Nucoa) or butter. Mixture will be crumbly. Spread crumbs over pie filling with your hands. Bake 40 minutes or until mixture is starting to turn golden brown. Let cool about 10 minutes. Spoon over ice cream or top with whipped cream(or both!).

Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Five Favorites...

Okay, my favorite face powder is really Mary Kay's Loose Mineral, but I needed something easier to stick in my purse and for travel. Well, this is the BEST stuff, and it does what it says. The only drawback is, if you get a little sweaty, it can sting or tingle around your eyes, just the skin. I haven't noticed it running into my eyes. But, this stuff really does exactly what it says it wil do on the packaging. I've noticed a huge difference around my eyes.

Summer, need I say more?

Again, Summer, need I say more?

This is my new favorite stuff, feels like I just got my teeth cleaned, and since I still don't have any cavities, it must be working!

I LOVE these things! Taste like a big Chips Ahoy, but soft and chewy and just the right size and texture, not cakey, just rich buttery chocolatey chip goodness.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Notes from my talk on the Holy Ghost...

A member of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost, has the function to inspire, reveal, and teach all things.

The Holy Ghost has several names, the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, Spirit of God, the Comforter, Light of Christ, or the Spirit of God to name a few. It is our constant companion after baptism if we live our lives with the purpose and determination to become Christ like and be closer to Him. It is promised.

I recall when I was investigating the church. I began early in my sophomore year of highschool but wasn’t baptized and confirmed until the middle of my junior year. One of my parents requirements was to be an active member of the church, being obedient to it’s teachings and proving to them that this was my choice. Their best friends are members and we had gone a handful of times, my mom attended Relief Society, and knew that this a big change in my lifestyle. It meant giving up 10% of my earnings from babysitting, no more shopping or dining out on Sundays, being more selective about what I watched on t.v. and saw at the movies, and the time commitment to attend church for 3 hours on Sunday, attending YW’s, and Seminary, and scripture study. It was revealed and taught to me by Holy Spirit to stay on this path, that what I was doing was right, and the Church was true. I was touched many times over by the Spirit during my parents imposed “probation period”. I felt I was already repentant and testifying of Christ, but was missing baptism and having the Holy Ghost as a CONSTANT companion. I remember very clearly when that gift was bestowed upon me. I remember the warm flushed feeling and happiness and joy I felt.

The Holy Spirit does not speak in a loud booming voice. It is a feeling, a thought, an inspirational daydream. It is why we can listen to a conference talk and our spouse or friend heard a completely different message. It comes to us how WE need it. Just as in our personal relationships, we need to cultivate them. If we push our friends or spouse away, we can and do just as easily push the Holy Spirit away if we do not work on our personal relationship with the Savior. Do we visit places where the Holy Spirit cannot dwell or do we invite him to be a part of our lives? The Holy Spirit speaks ever so softly, will we recognize it when we are being touched?

Sometimes I don't recognize it until after I’ve been touched. I mentioned a little bit of this in RS, that over 18 years ago my grandfather was murdered in a robbery at our family’s baseball card shop. When I drove home from Institute I always went out of my way to drive past the shop because it had been broken into before at it's previous locations and I just always wanted to make sure it was okay. I knew my parents were supposed to be out that night celebrating my grandparents 49th wedding anniversary with them. That night, I drove a shorter way for some reason, I didn't give it a second thought or even feel guilty for my decision that night. Even as I got out of the car, my friend had followed me because we going to go to my house, change, she was going to call her parents, and then we were going to go tanning, she commented about my shorter route that night because we'd done this many times before and she even went out of her way sometimes to check on the shop herself. We knew I'd be coming home to an empty house, but instead everyone in my family and our closest friends' cars were out in front. It still didn't register that something was out of the ordinary. I know now that the HG ever so softly nudged me that night to go a different direction, not wanting to set off any internal "alarms", I was told “all is well”. As it was, I had no control over anything, my going a different direction could not change the outcome, only get me home that much faster to my family. The peaceful nudge didn't give me goosebumps or make me fear something had gone terribly wrong. He was there to comfort me and protect me from seeing the police lights and tape, the news crews, and emergency personnel frantically trying to grab a hold of the scene, and my dad’s emotional breakdown outside of the shop. I had to get home safely to where my family could tell me what happened. My friend called her dad, our singles ward bishop, right away to come and give me a blessing and if anyone in my family wanted one(I was the only member). The HG also spoke to them softly that night, as they all grew to love "my" bishop, and they all have commented how they knew he was a man of God and of his love for Heavenly Father and me was evident. I was able to recognize the Comforter’s role that night. After the shock subsided I was able to recognize the source of my inspiration to go a different way, having my best friend beside me, and the protection of not coming up to that gruesome scene.

Because I have recorded and shared this experience many times, I have been working on “memorizing” the Gift of the Holy Spirit and the promises made to me in my baptismal covenant. I can call upon the HS to calm me when I’m scared, to comfort me when I’m grieving, to inspire me in what to do, and teach me the truth. I have a testimony of these promises if I keep my sacred promises as well. This is something every worthy member is promised, whether we are 8 years old or 100, male, or female. HF does not renege on his promises. We repent and revisit the Sacrament weekly to maintain our promises to Him. President Marion G. Romney, former Second Counselor in the First Presidency: “The purpose of the sacrament is to promote the maintenance of spirituality.” 16

President Howard W. Hunter: “Developing spirituality … will not happen by chance, but is accomplished only through deliberate effort and by calling upon God and keeping his commandments.” 10

President Gordon B. Hinckley: “I feel deeply that far too few of our converts have read the Book of Mormon. I feel that far too few have any understanding of the history of the Church. … Those we teach need the Spirit and the conversion power of that great and sacred volume [the Book of Mormon].” 11

We do not gain a full testimony of the BoM by skimming through pages. We may know it is true, but to have that full burning in the bosom, feeling, we need to be in constant study of it. This I learned from another family that read the BoM over and over and everyday as a family. We found a time that worked best for us, it is a commitment, and as a family we have now read the BoM several times. It is not always the most reverent study, but we have as a family the testimony that we are involved in something great, and wonderful, and true. And it brings a sense of solace and peace, and things just seem to go right for us and things that come up seem managable. I believe this is because we are in harmony with the Spirit and able to make clearer and better decisions by the knowledge and peace he bestows upon us.

President Thomas S. Monson : “The spiritual nature within us should not be dominated by the physical. It behooves each of us to remember who he or she is and what God expects him or her to become.” 12

Our spiritual nature, or divine nature, is inspired and revealed when we listen to the still small voice of the Spirit.

My favorite quote: "Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
- Marianne Williamson

When we let the Light of Christ within us shine, we put off a glow of contentment and happiness that others will seek. They will want to know why we still smile at the gas pump these days. Why we still have hope that all will be well. Why we attend church on Sundays. Why WE know we are a Child of God and we love Him. They will want to be happy themselves and have those same feelings. No one seeks out an Eeyore to emulate. They do seek out someone who knows who they are.

President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “The Holy Ghost communicates with the spirit through the mind more than through the physical senses. This guidance comes as thoughts, as feelings, through impressions and promptings. It is not always easy to describe inspiration. The scriptures teach us that we may ‘feel’ the words of spiritual communication more than hear them, and see with spiritual rather than with mortal eyes.” 13

The Holy Ghost can make words jump off of pages when we are reading. Inspiration can be a thought that comes out of no where. It can be the impression to check in on somebody that might seem out of ordinary for you to do. It can be an impression to share a story or two with a Home Teacher or Visiting Teacher. I’ve had 2 family members taken from us out of tragedy, and looking back there were some odd things they’ve done that make you scratch your head. Just an hour before my sister was killed by the drunk driver, she made my aunt & uncle turn up a song on the radio and announced she wanted that played at her funeral because it had a very special spiritual message. It was I Will Remember You by Amy Grant. Our friend Scott, sat down with his Home Teacher just before he was killed by a drunk driver and went in to great detail about each of his 6 children. It was an unplanned visit, they were just hanging out after setting up for a ward activity because they were too tired to go home just then. Their casual conversation had turned into an unusual and very personal and detailed acct. about their lives. When the Spirit whispers, will we recognize it? Will we remember it?

President Kimball: “The gift of the Holy Ghost grows with worthiness. If you are baptized when you are eight years old, of course you are a child, and there is much you would not be expected to know. But the Holy Ghost comes to you as you grow and learn and make yourselves worthy. It comes a little at a time as you merit it. And as your life is in harmony, you gradually receive the Holy Ghost in a great measure.” 15

I like this. The Spirit comes to you in the best way for you. Not for Joe, or Sally, but for YOU. The Holy Spirit does not speak in code, or test you, but you must listen and be ready to receive and understand it.

If the Spirit is not in a member’s life, he or she should review the qualities just mentioned to see what is missing. “Spirituality is not a function of occupation or calling,” said Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “Spirituality is determined by personal outlook and priorities.” 18

Pres. Dallin H. Oaks: If we are practicing our faith and seeking the companionship of the Holy Spirit, His presence can be felt in our hearts and in our homes. A family having daily family prayers and seeking to keep the commandments of God and honor his name and speak lovingly to one another will have a spiritual feeling in their home that will be discernible to all who enter it. I know this, because I have felt the presence or absence of that feeling in many LDS homes.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Marinated Flank Steak Salad

I LOVE the Flank Steak Salad at Diamondback Grill in Sonora, CA. I have a hard time ordering anything else there, it is just SO yummy. Every bite! It consists of a mixed lettuce salad with thinly sliced sweet onions and mushrooms sauteed in a balsamic(I'm assuming) reduction sauce next to it on the plate(In this case, my food can touch), perfectly thin sliced grilled flank steak, and topped with a blue cheese dressing. Here is my version of this salad using leftover bbq boneless beef ribs. Of course you could use any meat fresh of the grill, but this is where leftover steak that has intensified in flavor overnight from it's grilling the night before is great put to use.

Mushrooms & Onions (This is great on top of any grilled meats, not just this salad)
2 sweet maui onions cut in half and then sliced very thin.
2 lbs. sliced mushrooms
olive oil
1/8 cup sugar
sea salt
white pepper
balsamic vinegar

Bring a large sautee pan to high heat and pour in just enough olive oil to coat the pan. Spread onion slices in pan and stir occasionally. Just as the onions start to become translucent add mushrooms and drizzle approx. 1/4 cup-1/3 cup balsamic vinegar over the mixture, add dash of ground sea salt, sugar, sprinkle white pepper over, and toss to mix. Cook the mushrooms and onions, stirring/flipping occasionally until the mixture cooks down. Turn off heat.

Lay out lettuce on plate, top with sliced meat(warm), serve some mushrooms and onion on the side of the plate. Top with blue cheese dressing, or your favorite.

My favorite dressing now(thank you Shelby!) is a mixture of poppyseed and red wine vinaigrette. What turned me onto this is mixing equal parts Brianna's Rich Poppyseed (has a peach on the front label) and the Blush Wine Vinaigrette(has the strawberry on the label). But, in watching the waistline, I mix any lowfat poppyseed, my new favorite being Safeway's "Eating Right" Onion Poppyseed. Mix that with any fat free or lowfat red wine vinaigrette, and it's really close!

Diamondback Grill serves this salad up with some sliced garlic toasted ciabatta bread. I would have taken a picture, but I was too busy pigging out. Oh, and my kids ate every last bit on their plates.

Monday, April 14, 2008

And the boys room as promised.....

First, it's SO hard to do anything with a "tween" boy's room. Ick(12), and Bones(10), and their polar opposite personalities, I feel like we came to a happy medium here. We're also waiting on a very cool Jack Sparrow poster to come in that has the same colors as the dragon poster. Ick is "usually" meticulous, but Bones's chaos can bring him down. "Ick" needs his order and was impressed with my totally straight lines. Every time he saw me pull out the level to measure he was relieved. He takes after me, I use a level for everything, no eyeballing. lol Bones wanted just random lines and stripes at every angle. LOL Paint colors: just randomly picked them. I took the boys to Walmart, they like the Inspiration Room below too, but in boy colors, so that was really what we were thinking at the time. But, we decided to do something different. So, I told them to talk, pick out some colors, then we found the poster and couldn't believe how perfect it was!

And this is my solution to boys clutter. I think everything needs to have a home. Too big for toy boxes, and it's scary what ends up in a boys toybox anyways. So, I put this up, and it's fairly successful. After purging a ton of things when we pulled them out of their old room, we still ended up with a lot of crap. So, this is the house for the lightsabers, Harry Potter Cards, the five plastic soldiers left we can't bear to part with, a magnifying glass, etc..... etc...... etc.......

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Decorating Again....

FINALLY! Got some paint up finally in the kids' bedrooms. The boys/girls switched bedrooms too. Mermaid painted the armoire, her desk, and repainted their captains beds that my Grandpa made for my sister and I. He'd be so proud they are STILL being used. But, he was a pro, those things were built to last. I'm sure their kids will be using them.

We went through pictures online and this was our inspiration for the bedrooms.

Then from there:

To This:
(we're missing a Hannah Montana poster though)

I'll post the boys' room tomorrow :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Need Ideas & Thoughts....

Found this in a magazine today. These are the colors on the girls' bedspreads. I showed Mermaid right away this morning and she's leaning towards a brown room! I think that would be so dramatic and cool. So, the question is, brown, pink, or green, or a combination, one wall brown, the others pink? They have white captains beds that can/will be repainted. 6 drawers on each side, so keep them white? Or paint them a contrasting color from the walls, brown, pink, or green? And a desk that is currently light gray, should it be green, pink, or brown? An armoire that is white with pink doors, keep it white, but just paint the doors green, pink, or brown? They have a rag throw rug made of the same colors, came with the comforter sets. But I love the carpet tiles too! Same rooms, different color walls:
Brown Walls

Pink Walls

Green Walls

Inspiration and Accessories

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Painting Updates.....

Here is our 2nd paint color for the bathroom. It's that Carribean light blue, the lightest blue you see when you're looking at any pictures of the Carribean sea. It's SO soothing, bright white ceiling, and it just feels warm and happy.

And, the bar area. Hard to take a pic at the right angle for some reason. The wood supports, always comes out like I'm shooting a shot pointing up someone's nostrils. They're not nearly as big as they appear in person. But the paint matches the bookcase and on the other side of the room the entertainment center. Now to get the white walls painted! Can't wait.