Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Beautiful Heartbreak...31 Days of Creating with Meaning

Have you ever heard the saying

"If we all threw our problems in a pile 

and saw everyone else's, 

we'd grab ours back." 

That's what I thought of when I saw this video of the new song by Hillary Weeks:

One of the women in this video is Mariama Kallon, whose history was filled with terror, heartbreak, and tragedy. When I heard her speak At the Nauvoo Women's Retreat two and a half years ago, she was such a sweet, smiling, and sincere woman. But her story was horrific. To say there was not a dry eye in the room is an understatement. The tears of empathy that were shed for her and her family flowed freely and unchecked; there weren't enough handkerchiefs or kleenex available to catch them all. Through her trials and tribulations, hope shone through like the carrot dangling just out of reach. She followed that carrot of hope to a new life, one she hadn't dared dream of, and ended up serving a mission at The Salt Lake Temple square and speaking and writing about her life.  Miriama is truly resilient.  She would pray each day to see the night, and then pray every night to see the next day.  Can you imagine living your life like that?  Never knowing if or when you or your loved ones will be killed or tortured?

The other woman in the video is Stephanie Nielsen who was burned in a plane accident. She had such a will to live for her kids and her husband, and has made huge strides in recovering from the accident.

Now back to the quote at the top. My mom and I have talked about this many times, whenever one of us has been struggling with something.  I think that there is a lot of truth in that statement, even if I change it to:

"If we all threw our problems, 

trials, tribulations, tragedies,

addictions, afflictions, illnesses, injuries, issues,

disappointments, disabilities, disillusionments, 

and struggles 

in a pile 

and saw everyone else's, 

we'd grab ours back." 

One reason is because we know we can handle it.  We ARE handling it, or dealing with it, or attempting to deal with it.  It's not exchanging that problem with someones lack of problems, it would be taking on a whole NEW issue.  A new battle.  I hope I can take my battles and turn them into Beautiful Heartbreaks.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What's for Dinner, October Week 4

Looking at my menu this week it seems like it's time for fall and comfort-style cooking.  Yum!

This is the best of both worlds; the ultimate comfort food of chicken and dumplings with an Italian twist!
Nonni-Inspired Italian Style Chicken and Dumplings
4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts or 6-8 boneless/skinless thighs
1/2 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
2  15 oz. cans tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning or dried basil

Brown chicken (breasts can be cut in half) in large pan and add the onion and carrots to soften.  Add the minced garlic for the last couple of minutes, then pour in the remaining ingredients and stir.  Cook over medium/low heat until the chicken is almost cooked through and top with the dumplings, cover, and cook the 10-15 minutes until the dumplings are done.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dried basil or Italian seasoning
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

In a bowl mix flour, parmesan cheese, basil or Italian seasoning, and baking powder.  (I don't use salt because of the parmesan cheese)  Mix milk and oil together and pour into the flour mixture.  Stir with a fork until combined and drop the mixture from a tablespoon to make 10-12 mounds on top of the chicken mixture.  Cover and simmer without lifting the cover for 10-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Note:  Serve with green salad and more parmesan cheese!  Bone-in chicken works fine, or you could use a whole, cut up chicken, too.  Sorry about the photo, I snapped the one and the camera went dead, so I had to live with it. 

Leftovers and snacking for dinner. We have too much in and out. Brian has a swim dinner, Natalia Young Women's meeting for church, and Mario is in a play for school.  Three different directions!

Gone All Day Stew I don't brown the beef before hand, and I'm throwing everything in the crockpot on low all day.
Bread Sticks
Green Salad
Frog's Eye Salad


Lasagna Soup  I'm going to try this in the crockpot, too.
French Bread

Out for dinner, something cheap!

I'm linking here:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Prize...31 Days of Creating with Meaning

When I listened to the talk What I Hope My Granddaughters and Grandsons will Understand about Relief Society given by Julie Beck at last month's Relief Society Conference, one of the lines that really jumped out at me was this:

I hope my granddaughters value the temple as did the sisters of the first Relief Society, who believed that temple blessings were the grand prize and great goal of every Latter-day Saint woman.
It's like the words were lit up on a marquee.  I knew I had to do something with it!  So here's what I came up with: a mixed media, re-purposed canvas.

Here is some more from that paragraph:

I hope that, like early Relief Society sisters, my granddaughters will strive daily to become sufficiently mature to make and keep sacred temple covenants and that when they do go to the temple, they will pay attention to all that is said and done. Through the blessings of the temple, they will be armed with power and blessed to receive “the key of the knowledge of God.”  Through the ordinances of the priesthood found only in temples, they will be blessed to fulfill their divine, eternal responsibilities, and they will promise to live as committed disciples. I am grateful that one of the Lord’s primary purposes in organizing Relief Society was to give the women the responsibility to help each other prepare “for the greater blessings of the priesthood found in the ordinances and covenants of the temple.”

This is what the canvas looked like.  I picked it up, with its yellow frame, at a garage sale a while back for $3.00!
 With some paint, paper, and the oh-so-fabulous mod podge, a temple scene was born.  To make the tree look 3-D-
 I just stacked up some paper punches and glued them together to make extra large pop dots.
 The temple, cloud and sun were cut freeform because I like the imperfect look.  Then I thought it was a little bit too much blue, so I wadded up a paper towel and pounced some white on the background.

To make the "grand prize" ribbon, I just cut 2 strips of 12x12 inch paper about 2 inches wide and made accordion folds 1/2 inch wide and then glued the strips together on the ends to make a circle, scrunched it together in the middle, and hot glued it to a piece of cardstock cut into a circle.
I know my ribbon is sideways, but I wanted the words "are the" to be going the right way, and I wanted "grand prize" to be on the rosette.  So I took some artistic license.   Instead of Moroni, a simple yellow flag adorns the tallest spire.  The flowers are made like these spiral ribbon flowers, only mine are very loosey goosey  These flowers by Donna Downey, or these on the Studio Calico blog would have been way cute, but I was already done when I found them.  Maybe for the next project...
I used black ink around everything to make it pop off the canvas, and then I even took a black pen and doodled around a bit.  I was a little bit scared to, but got over it quick and started drawing, mainly around the outsides of everything and some scallops on the banner.

For more detail, click on the picture to zoom in.

Even though losing my domain put me into a tailspin, I'm going to try to catch up on my 31 Days of Creating with Meaning.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What's For Dinner, October Week 3,

BBQ'ed Tri-Tip, Baked Potatoes, Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Carried over from last week
Tortilla Chips
Chicken and Corn Soup
6 cups water
4 teaspoons chicken bouillon
½ cup dried carrots*
1 tablespoon dried onions
1 tablespoon dried celery (or one stalk fresh celery, diced)
½ teaspoon dried minced garlic
1 can (15 ounces) corn, undrained
2 tablespoon parsley
1 cup uncooked pasta, any shape
1 can (10-12 ounces) chicken chunks undrained and broken up
½ teaspoon sugar (if no sugar in canned corn)
pepper to taste
In a pot, heat water while adding all ingredients except last four. Simmer, covered 15 minutes. Add pasta and simmer 10 minutes more. Stir in chicken. Heat through. Season to taste and serve. Serves 4-5.

Turkey meatloaf with roasted veggies
Jo-Jo Potatoes 

Linguini with Red Clam Sauce
Bread Sticks
Green Salad

Turkey Tacos

Leftovers!  (or Leftover Soup made from leftovers in the fridge and freezer)

Candy Corn Popcorn

I'm linking here: 

Sunday, October 16, 2011


If you are reading this post, I'm not sure how you actually found it.  That's because my domain I bought from has expired, the e-mail address I used when I bought it two years ago is obsolete, so I didn't get any "Hey, dummy, your website is about to expire so pay us already" messages, and the day it expired someone bought the domain out from under me.  Why????  I'm thinking it's because they want me to have to pay them a huge amount of money to get my domain back.  So now all of my posts that I've linked to other blogs and websites are obsolete.  No one can find me when they click on those links.  Everything I've done in the past two years has been done using the domain, not the blogspot address that this shows now.  So if you're looking for me and actually found me, THANK YOU!

And my hubby spent 20 minutes on the phone with the GoDaddy guy trying to get this all figured out. Thanks, dear.  You're a gem.

So I'm going to try to get my domain back.  Wish me luck.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Struggle...Day 15 of 31 Days of Creating with Meaning

Today was a struggle.  And I think I lost.

We had planned on going to see the salmon, and actually made it 3/4 of the way there, and all heck broke loose in the car.  Brian didn't want to go, so he was making comments every few minutes.  The two younger boys were fighting over--well--everything!  The puppy was in the mix, the air conditioner wasn't working, and the Dad was fed-up.  So he turned around and headed back home.  When Monkey figured out where we were going, he screamed, cried, kicked, and screamed some more.  I had to climb over the seat and threaten bodily harm to get him to stop, and then he still carried on for longer. 

I swear, most road trips someone ends up in tears, and it's usually me.  I get so frustrated.  We have one of the largest vehicles and yet there's never enough room for everyone.  Someone is always in anthers space.

So our salmon trip?  Never happened.  And I'm not sure we're going to end up trying another road trip anytime soon. 

And I'm in a funk.  I'm not feeling it right now.  I almost feel a little post-partum, and my youngest is 7.  Can post-partum be delayed?  Maybe someone can get a grant and research that for me.  Inquiring minds want to know.

For now, I'll leave you wit a bit of inspiration...made entirely from Jelly Belly's.  Who knew Benjamin Franklin was so delish?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fun...Day 14 of 31 Days of Creating with Meaning

Sometimes you've got to take a little time off for some f-u-n.  We're spending the day as a family, and learning about the life of the salmon to boot.  We're headed here tomorrow, and hope it will be as fun as last year!

And in celebration of the running of the salmon (not to be confused with the running of the bulls!)  here are some links to handmade salmon goodies.  So sweet, especially the Salmon Quilt!

Salmon Barn for some lovely totes

a wooden salmon silhouette at Roy Road Fish Company

Salmon wedding pomanders at Psalm 117

a gorgeous Salmon quilt by Kathy Kinsella

Turquoise and Salmon necklace 

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Planning...Day 13 of 31 Days of Creating with Meaning

Some ideas for taking the stress out of the holidays  
{Updated post from a couple of years ago}
Worship and Service:
-Plan your church worship and other Christmas services to attend.  We always go to the community Creche festival on the first weekend of December.  We also watch the LDS Christmas Broadcast on the first Sunday in December.
-Plan to do some service for another family or charity, or even for your own family.  Bake cookies and take a plate to the fire station or the Dr’s office or to a nursing home.  Sing some carols while you’re there!  If you’re really organized you can plan a 12 days of Christmas for a neighbor or friend.  Pick a tag off of a “giving tree” and donate something.  Donate to Toys for Tots.  If your budget won’t allow for extra purchases then donate your time to a good cause.  We are celebrating the birth of Christ, and charity is the pure love of Christ.  So make it a Charitable Christmas!

-Make a budget and stick to it. Do a little bit of shopping each trip.
-Have a set number of gifts that are given to each child.  Some use “3” gifts like the wise men brought to the baby Jesus.
-Choose names and set a price limit. Instead of buying gifts for all siblings and cousins, you’ll end up spending a lot less!
-Let grandparents and other relatives know children’s gift lists, and what you think is appropriate. They’ll usually listen.
-Shop on-line and take advantage of free shipping or gift-wrapping.
-If you are making homemade or handcrafted gifts, get going on it!  If you haven’t started, make a list of the supplies you need and collect or buy them.  Set up a corner in the living room or somewhere convenient to keep the projects out so you can work on them as you have time.
-Take turns with friends watching each other’s children for Christmas shopping.
-Make sure you have tape, tags, and wrap.  Have the kids hand-stamp tags or plain kraft paper for inexpensive wrapping.
-Wrap gifts as they are purchased or have a gift-wrapping party with friends. Have children help wrap gifts. They love to be involved!

Cooking or Baking:
-Make your Thanksgiving Menu and your Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Menu, or if you have a potluck assign dishes to be brought.
-Throughout November and December cook double for dinner when you can and freeze the extra portions. When you have a busy day, dinner is ready to be heated up.
-Cook or prepare ahead any dishes that will freeze and reheat well.
-Shop ahead of time for non-perishable food items for Christmas meals and baking.
-Host a cookie baking day or cookie exchange with friends.
-When you have a free block of time, mix up a batch of cookie dough and freeze it. Then bake when you have time.

Christmas cards:
-Schedule picture appointment.
-Instead of doing newsletter yourself, have each person write a paragraph or draw a picture.
-Purchase stamps and cards ahead of time and address a few each night, or have older kids help.
-Or skip Christmas cards altogether and send a Christmas e-mail!

-Get rid of decorations you don’t use or love!  Call and inquire about donating them to a nursing home or other facility.
-Pack up knick-knacks from house into Christmas boxes while decorations are out.  Your house will look less cluttered.

-Wash china or holiday dishes ahead of time (or use paper and plastic)
-Do you need anything dry cleaned?
-Make sure to buy film for cameras, or clear out your card, and charge up video camera.

-Plan and do a fall cleaning.  Break it down by room, and then shampoo carpets.
-This is a great time to replace worn out towels and washcloths before guests come to stay.  Shop black Friday sales or white sales.
-Go through and donate toys that the kids have grown out of or do not use anymore before the new Christmas toys are in the mix.
-Go through and donate any clothes that are not being used.  Then you’ll know what needs replacing for Christmas lists.

Having a holiday plan can save a lot of stress. Especially if you're a procrastinator like me.  Most of all, the holidays are about faith, family and fun.

And don’t forget, Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Collect...Day 12 of 31 Days of Creating with Meaning

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

A collection of anything can bring you joy. I grew up in a home full of collections. My mom collected everything old and antique. She has an eye for putting those collections together, too.

Unfortunately I didn't inherit that eye. But, like I said in yesterday's post, one of the things I love to collect are books. I love the colors, the faded patina, and the aged look of antique books. Especially red, blue and green books. So I grouped some together. My latest find is the tall, blue book in the middle.  It is over 1200 pages of Shakespeare, published in 1938.  I found it in the Library's book sale for 50 cents.  I'm in love.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Read...Day11 of 31 Days of Creating with Meaning

A while back I mentioned in a blog post that I loved this idea for covering old books.

I have quite a few books. I love to read. I love books. Some of my most favoritest books are ratty paperbacks. Paperbacks are not pretty. I also have an oversized old music book whose pages were the PERFECT size to cover a ratty paperback. I just folded the page in the old-school-cover-your-textbook-with-a-paper-bag style like my kids do. Then I stacked them all up and tied them with a velvet ribbon.

How simple and sweet, and now they're all on display.

In case you're wondering what books they are, here are some of my must-reads...
(the links are to informational pages from

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte {I love it so much that I read it at least once a year. When Monkey was little I would read it to him to get him to sleep. Worked like a charm!}

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte {OK, it's actually not one of my favorites, but it intrigues me.}

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen {LOVE and ADORE!}

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawles {I cry every time!}

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom {She is amazing and inspiring.}

And the one that is missing because Natalia just started reading it in English class:
The Giver by Lois Lowry {so thought-provoking}

And the next paperback to be wrapped in music and added to the stack, that is when I'm finished with it, is:
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley {I thought October might be a good month for reading this classic}

What books are on your must-read list?  I'd love to know!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Do...Day 10 of 31 Days of Creating with Meaning

Does everyone quote their Mama like my sisters and I do?  Especially when we lived near my parents.  My dad would make fun of us because it seemed like every other sentence started with:  "Mama says..."

One of the things that Mama says is "I can do hard things."  I was reminded of this when my sister called the other day and told me she was flying from Missouri to Alaska by herself and had a long layover in Seattle.  She was nervous because doing this was taking her out of her comfort zone, but she said,"I can do hard things!"

I have told myself this so many times that I finally made a reminder...

And if I can do hard things, you can, too!

What's for Dinner, October Week 2, Cooking with Food Storage

This week I am doing something a little bit different with our dinner menu.  I'm planning it all using shelf-stable food storage.  Not the stuff from the fridge or freezer, but only things from the pantry and that I have stored for longer term.  One reason I'm doing this is to rotate and use up some beans, rice, and polenta that I have open already.  Another reason is to see what variety I can come up with!

We're trying not to eat a lot of refined carbs, so that really restricts the recipes.  I gave up and am making a pasta and chicken casserole on Wednesday.  And I'm already cheating because we have some fresh trout to cook so I'm making that Monday.  But other than the trout, everything else is from our food storage!  I'm also going to try to make breakfasts and lunches that are mostly shelf-stable.  This morning breakfast was oatmeal, lunches had a sandwich, granola bar, chips, and a piece of fruit, and Brian also took a cup of soup.

Fresh Caught Trout
Potatoes (may use dried, not sure yet...)
3 Bean Salad made from canned kidney beans, green beans, garbanzo beans and peas, oil and vinegar
Basic Peanut Butter Balls for Family Home Evening Treat

Pinto Beans using The Cowboy's Wife's Cowboy Husband's recipe
Homemade Tortillas
Home-canned Salsa (recipe below, and can be used fresh or refrigerated in a small batch if you're not out of tomatoes.  Our tomato season was late here, and there are still some on the vine.  We eat TONS of salsa!)

Chunky Homemade Salsa  
(recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Americas All*time Favorite Canning and Preserving Recipes)
7 pounds tomatoes (about 20)
10 Anaheim chili peppers
3 jalapeno peppers
2 cups coarsely chopped onion
1/2 cup snipped fresh cilantro
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

1. Wash tomatoes. remove peels.  Coarsely chop tomatoes and measure 14 cups.  Place in a large colander and let drain 30 minutes.  Place drained tomatoes in an 8-quart Dutch oven.  Bring to boiling.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 45-50 minutes or until thickened to desire consistency, stirring frequently.

2. Seed and chop the Anaheim peppers and measure 3 cups.  (Be careful and wear gloves when doing this.  Don't touch your eyes or nose, either!)  Seed and chop jalapenos and measure 1/3 cup.  Add the chili peppers, onion, cilantro, garlic, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper to tomatoes.  Return mixture to boiling and then remove from heat.

3. If canning, ladle salsa into hot, clean pint canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Wipe jar rims and adjust lids.  Process in a boiling water canner for 35 minutes.  Remove jars from canner and cool on racks.  Makes 4 pints, or 112 one-tablespoon servings.  (or in our family, 28 four-tablespoon servings.)

Tarragon Chicken Casserole
2 cans low fat cream of chicken soup, undiluted
2 cups reconstituted powdered milk
4 teaspoons tarragon
Pepper to taste
1 13oz box bowtie pasta, cooked
2 10oz cans chicken, drained
1 14 oz can peas, drained
parmesan cheese

Mix soups and milk together.  Add tarragon and pepper.  Mix pasta with chicken and peas.  Pour soup mixture over pasta mixture.  Mix well.  Place in casserole dish.  Sprinkle paprika and parmesan over top.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until heated through.

Caribbean Black Beans and Rice
2¾ cups water
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
1¾ cup soaked and cooked dry black beans or 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
½-1 can (4 ounce) diced green chiles
¼ cup dried onions
¼ cup dried green peppers (or ½ cup diced fresh peppers)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1½ teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt
¼-½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf

In a pot, heat water while adding all ingredients. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf and serve. Serves 4-5.

— Recipe from "Emergency Food Storage in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition" by Leslie Probert and Lisa Harkness

Baked Polenta  made with parmesan cheese
Bread Sticks with parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning
Fruit Salad from home-canned fruits

Tortilla Chips

Chicken and Corn Soup
6 cups water
4 teaspoons chicken bouillon
½ cup dried carrots*
1 tablespoon dried onions
1 tablespoon dried celery (or one stalk fresh celery, diced)
½ teaspoon dried minced garlic
1 can (15 ounces) corn, undrained
2 tablespoon parsley
1 cup uncooked pasta, any shape
1 can (10-12 ounces) chicken chunks undrained and broken up
½ teaspoon sugar (if no sugar in canned corn)
pepper to taste
In a pot, heat water while adding all ingredients except last four. Simmer, covered 15 minutes. Add pasta and simmer 10 minutes more. Stir in chicken. Heat through. Season to taste and serve. Serves 4-5.

— Recipe from "Emergency Food Storage in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition" by Leslie Probert and Lisa Harkness

I'm linking here:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Endure...Day 9 of 31 Days of Creating with Meaning

We sang this song in church today.  Nobody knew the song.  It must not be one of the more popular hymns.  But the words are comforting and powerful all at the same time...

I will not doubt, I will not fear;
God’s love and strength are always near.
His promised gift helps me to find
An inner strength and peace of mind.
I give the Father willingly
My trust, my prayers, humility.
His Spirit guides; his love assures
That fear departs when faith endures.
On the same note, the word endure is not one of the more popular words for me.  It sounds depressing.  It sounds like drudgery.  It sounds like nothing I want to do.  But I read this about the root of the word "endure":
The word endure comes from two Latin roots. The prefix en means “within.” The remainder comes from the verb durare, which means “to be firm or solid.” Thus, to endure means “to become firm within yourself.”
That meaning carries into the original languages of the Bible. In the Hebrew language of the Old Testament, the root word ’aman means “to render firm” or “to be faithful, to trust.” It was often translated as “faithful,” but never as “faith” alone. ’Aman meant more than faith. It was not a passive term; it meant “a firm resolve to be faithful.” ’Aman was also the Hebrew root for words that were translated into related terms, such as “verified,” “believe,” “long continuance,” “assurance,” “establish(ed),” “sure,” “trust,” “steadfast,” “stand fast,” and others.
In the Greek language of the New Testament, the verb hupoméno was used. It means “to remain,” “stay,” or “continue.” Hupo (or hypo) means “under,” as in hypodermic (“under the skin”) or hypothermia (“low temperature”). “To endure” connotes a commitment within one’s soul.
So if I look at ENDURE as "to become firm within my soul, having a resolve to be faithful and to trust, believe, and stand fast", the word endure becomes much more poetic, and much more doable.

Matthew 24:13 says:  But he that shall aendure unto the end, the same shall be saved.  

If you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.   D&C 14:7. 

The Prophet Joseph Smith included this concept of endurance in the thirteenth article of faith: “We have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things.”

That's what I can do; HOPE to be able to endure all things.   

Brian is on the swim team.  Part of the training is swimming with drag, or something that is holding them back and making them work harder.  All of that hard work breaks them down and then builds the muscles back up.  It teaches them endurance and how to work past the point of exhaustion.

Does that sound familiar?  Isn't that what "endure" means, to work through whatever is holding us back and keeping us down?

I hope to be able to endure all things.  

ALL things.

I can do all things through aChrist which bstrengtheneth me.  Philippians 4:13  

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sweet...Day 8 of 31 Days of Creating with Meaning

This post is just going to be yummy!  Have you ever had a Cake Ball or a Cake Pop?  There are recipes all over the internet now, but the Queen of the Cake Pops is Bakerella.  She can do things with cake that defy gravity.  I know I have no talent in that arena, but an easy cake ball is within my reach.

We started out with a halloween themed cake mix and frosting because of the sprinkles with the frosting.  Add to that the white melting chocolate, and the oil, eggs, and water for the cake mix, and we had all we needed.

Here is Bakerella's basic recipe, and here are our sweet little morsels.

They're totally kid friendly, the boys dipped and sprinkled, and could have rolled but I made the balls while they were at school and stuck them in the freezer.  The hard part is trying not to eat them all!

Have a great weekend!

I'm linking up here:

Friday, October 7, 2011

Blessings...Day7 of 31 Days of Creating with Meaning

My family has a tradition every year for Thanksgiving.  OK, we have a lot of traditions for Thanksgiving.  Like Cherry Cream Pie and Gambling Playing Bingo on Thanksgiving.  But this tradition is all about counting our blessings.  Each person gets a 3x5 card and writes down what they are thankful for that year.  Before the blessing on the food and tearing into Thanksgiving dinner, the cards are read and we laugh and cry together.

There were years when I really had to dig deep for something other than my family and health to be thankful for, or so it seemed, but looking back I realize that I had so many blessings.  When I was in the moment it was hard to see them, though.  And some of those blessings even felt like trials and hardships.

This little album is a place to count our blessings this year. 
The pages are pockets for tucking the cards, photos, and any recipes that we use this Thanksgiving.

So join me in keeping track of your blessings this year, maybe even counting them every day.  Jotting them down in a simple notebook will do, or you can make a small album to do the job.  You might be pleasantly surprised by how blessed you really are.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Unforgettable...Day 6 of 31 Days of Creating with Meaning

Memories are a powerful thing.  They're one of the reasons why I scrapbook.  I'm not great at keeping a journal, and my scrabooking is a little bit of here, there, and everywhere.  But I want to keep those memories alive and front and center if I can.

Last month I went back to Missouri for my Grandpa's wedding.  My grandpa and grandma lived near us for most of my childhood, and so much of my growing-up memories include them.  Last year, after a long time in the hospital with my grandpa staying with her every day, my grandma passed away.  I was honored and humbled to be there when the Lord took her in His arms.  It's so hard to say good-bye, even though it's only for a while.

While I was in Missouri I went through some of Grandma's sewing things and grabbed a pack of needles, a thimble, crochet thread, and some buttons.  These are things that were never far from Grandma's hands, since she was an avid quilter and sewer, and created beautiful quilts and made clothes for herself, too. 

I wanted to take these things and include them in a little shadowbox to remind me of my grandma, so I painted a wooden box that I'd gotten at a garage sale for a quarter, measured out the spaces, and basically made some mini scrapbook pages to fit them.  I added a picture of Grandma and Grandpa in front of their house that I stayed with them in for a few months before I got married.  I stayed away from too much pink, even though it was Grandma's favorite, and signature, color, just because I wanted something still muted but a little bit brighter like the oranges, blues, and greens.

Here's a picture in progress.  I can't find the other camera where I took the pictures of the plain box, though!

Some things that I will always associate with my grandma are the TV shows Dallas and The Dukes of Hazard, and Nat King Cole.  I would play her Nat King Cole albums on the record player and sing along.  That's the reason for the title "Unforgettable".  And the smudged up, dripped on,  much used recipe for Toffee Bars is the one she made every year for the holidays.  It just wasn't Christmas Eve without Toffee Bars.

The finished product. 

 See the 3D elements?  That little thing on the green ribbon is an old fashioned black sewing machine.
 And with a grunge filter...

The reason that I wanted to do 31 Days of Creating with Meaning is so I could create things that are functional, or preserve memories, or maybe do both.

A Taste of Fall

Now that I've been blogging for a few years, I realize I have ancient posts hanging out there that I'd like to group up.  The weather has turned wet and cool, at least for the past few days, and we even had tornadic action again last night!  I swear we brought those tornadoes from Missouri to California in our move.  So, in honor of fall, I'm going to revisit a couple of those old baking posts.


The Humble Pear Crumble Pie

Use your favorite pie crust recipe.  I used Sylvia's Perfect Pie Crust recipe from Pioneer Woman, and it got rave reviews from the pie testers.

I am obviously not a pie crust perfectionist.  I don't have the patience to expertly flute the edges, and I usually have to do some patching after lifting the crust in, but the pie tasters care not about the aesthetic appeal of the crust as they're wolfing it down.


3 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
dash of salt
1 teaspoon of shredded lemon peel
3 Tablespoons lemon juice (basically the juice from one large lemon)
6 to 8 pears, peeled and cored, then thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt, lemon peel and juice.  Toss with the pears and arrange in pie shell.

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)(I cube it up while it's cold and let it sit in the bowl til it is room temperature.)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I grate from a whole nutmeg and it's delish!)
1 cup flour

Combine the topping ingredients until it's crumbly.  Sprinkle over the pie filling.  Make sure you don't pat it down, it will make a crust and not a crumble.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes at 425.  Wrap the crust edges in foil for the first 1/2 hour then remove and cover just the crumble for the last fifteen minutes to prevent overbrowning.


Cranberry cookies. {They’re really bars, but who cares?} This recipe is from my mom, and made it into our family cookbook. I bake these every year at Christmas time and always get requests for the recipes.

Cranberry Cookies
¾ cup shortening
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup butterscotch chips
½ cup chopped nuts
Cream shortening, butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Mix in flour, salt and baking powder and blend. Fold in cranberries {just toss them in whole} and nuts. Spread evenly on a jelly-roll style cookie sheet. Sprinkle butterscotch chips on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

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