Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Countdown

How do you 'count down' the days to Christmas?  Our family has enjoyed several different ways throughout the years.  One that our girls enjoyed a LOT was the countdown using Hershey's Kisses.  A Kiss a Day until Christmas.  I don't have a picture, but what you do is take a l-o-n-g length of saran wrap and lay it on the table or the floor.  Evenly space 25 kisses on the plastic wrap, then fold it over itself so the kisses are all wrapped up.  Using short lengths of yarn or ribbon, wrap it around the plastic between each kiss and tie with a bow.  Each day, you can either untie the ribbon/yarn and pull out the kiss, or simply cut it off of the bottom.  I may have to make another one just to have a picture!  Stay tuned for that!

Several years ago at a craft workshop I made this fun count-down Santa.  His buttons are numbered and stored in the cute muslin bag which we stenciled.  Each day, someone finds the appropriate number and adds it to his Santa suit.  It's such a fun, visual way to answer the question of: "How many more days until Christmas, mom?"





Friday, November 29, 2013

These days.....

I know I'm getting older.  I can 'feel it in my bones' as my mother used to say.  She also wished she could afford to hire someone to decorate for Christmas for her.  I thought she was silly!  Not so much any more.  I totally get it!  I used to be able to decorate in a day....the tree, all the fun inside things, lights in the windows, etc.  Now it takes me several days.  I'm tired.  I just want it to be done and all the totes and boxes put away.  

I would love to take pictures after Christmas this year - then hand them off to the magic Christmas decorating fairy next year.  Then, on the appointed day -  I would come home from work, or shopping, or the movies ---  and --- ta-da!  I would walk into my perfectly decorated home.  And I wouldn't be exhausted!  

One of my Christmas decorations is a wreath that a good friend, Kathy H. made for me back in 1981.  It has been 'front and center' in our Christmas decorations every year.  It has hung in 7 different homes in 3 different states.  It's one of the first things out each year.  It reminds me of Christmases long ago....when I was single and dating the man who is now my husband.  It reminds me of friendships that endure.  It makes me feel love.

Merry Christmas all!


Monday, November 11, 2013

It must be fall.....

You know how there are things that are synonymous with other things?  Well, it's full on fall weather here.  The leaves have all turned color and most of them have dropped from the trees.  Today the temperature took a nose-dive and it's feeling a lot like fall.  It's supposed to be 18 degrees tonight!  Brrrrr.......   And it's the month of my hubby's birthday.  We like cake in this house, but we like cheese cake better!  And we really love Pumpkin Turtle Cheesecake!  So this was the weekend to make the cheesecake. We're having some friends over tonight to help eat it.  And will probably take some pieces to others.  It's too much yummy goodness to keep to ourselves!


Here's how you make this yummy goodness!

CRUST
1 1/2 cups thin chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
(about 30 cookies)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

FILLING
1/4 cup flour
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
4 8 oz pkgs cream cheese
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
5 eggs

TOPPING
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted*
2 oz bittersweet baking chocolate
coarsely chopped
1 TBS vegetable oil
1 cup caramel topping
*to toast pecans, sprinkle in ungreased heavy skillet. Cook over medium heat 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently until pecans begin to brown, then stirring constantly until light brown.

1) Heat oven to 300. Wrap foil around outside of bottom and side of 9-inch springform pan to prevent drips. Spray bottom and 1 inch up side of pan with cooking spray. In small bowl, mix cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press crumb mixture on bottom and 1 inch up side of pan. Bake crust 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool at room temperature 5 minutes. Refrigerate about 5 minutes or until completely cooled.

2) Meanwhile, in another small bowl, mix flour, pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin; set aside. In large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth. On low speed, beat in eggs, one at a time, just until blended. Gradually beat in pumpkin mixture until smooth. Pour filling over crust.

3) Bake 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 25 minutes or until edge of cheesecake is set but center still juggles slightly when moved. Run knife around edge of pan to loosen cheesecake. Turn oven off; open oven door at least 4 inches. Let cheesecake remain in oven 30 minutes.

4) Cool in pan on cooling rack 30 minutes. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight before serving.

5) Just before serving, sprinkle pecans over top of cheesecake. In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate and oil uncovered on high 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds, until melted. Drizzle chocolate over pecans.

6) To serve, run knife around edge of pan to loosen cheesecake; carefully remove side of pan. Drizzle caramel topping over each serving. Store covered in refrigerator.

High Altitude Directions > Before preheating oven, place pan of water on oven rack below rack cheesecake will be baked on. In step 3, bake 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes. Do not run knife around edge of pan until after cheesecake has cooled 30 minutes.

Carden Park School

Progress!  Pretty soon we won't be able to see what they are doing!




Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thank you Pinterest!

Have you ever seen something on Pinterest, and thought, "I'm going to do that!"  Well, I have lots of those moments on Pinterest, which you would understand if you checked out my boards.  I'm kind of a Pinterest junkie!  So I've committed to trying at least one thing off of Pinterest every week.  This week was a simple, easy-peasy thing.

I love scarves.  I used to have them draped over a hanger like this:




It seemed to take up a lot room because it was pretty bulky and I would have to dig and pull to find the one that I wanted.

And then one day on Pinterest I saw the simplest and most amazing post.  Why hadn't I ever thought of that?!

Shower curtain rings!

Seriously?!

Look how wonderful my scarves look now and how easy it is to reach in and pull off the one I want to wear!  I love it!


So, thank you very much DIY Ideas 4 Home for posting on Pinterest.  You have made me happy! Click here to see the original post.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Sunday Walk

The hubs and myself went for a walk yesterday afternoon.  We went down along the river and enjoyed the cool breeze (aka - wind!), and the beautiful fall colors.  Usually here in northwest Missouri, the fall colors are muted and not very pretty.  This year with all of the moisture we've had, the colors are brighter.  There weren't a lot of trees with 'red' leaves, and it was overcast, so you don't get the benefit of the sun shining on the trees, but it was a pretty day.  I'm glad we went outside.

We met some friends along the way who were Geo-cacheing.  I showed them this picture of something that we 'found' along the way. 

Some of the trees up on the bluff.  A train went by a little earlier.  You can see the track bed there.  Yes - I did pump my arm in the air and yes - the engineer did blow his whistle!  Loved it!
A beautiful Missouri Sunset


Carden Park School

More pictures of the school.



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Halloween from years past....

I've been going through some of the old pictures and ran across this one.  Thought it would be appropriate to share again at this time of year!


Happy Halloween everyone!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Overnight Baked Pumpkin Spice French Toast

Oh. My. Goodness.
This was so incredibly yummy!




Baked Pumpkin Spice French Toast

I got the recipe from Our Best Bites a couple of days ago.  I mixed it up on Sunday afternoon with the intent of having it for breakfast on Monday.  I had neglected to look at the baking time, so instead, we had breakfast for dinner tonight!  I was not getting up any earlier than I needed to.  And I'm so glad I didn't.  I really enjoyed being able to sit and savor it tonight and not have to think about rushing out of the door.  So. Good!  And - we'll have left-overs for the next couple of mornings.  YAY!

It's just my hubby and myself, so I halved the recipe.  And I'm not a fan of eggnog, so I used regular milk and added a bit more pumpkin to it and a little bit more cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.

I wish I would have thought to make some buttermilk syrup, but my regular pancake syrup was fabulous.  I found myself rummaging through the freezer looking for some whipped topping also, but didn't have any.

You can pop on over to their website and view the wonderful picture tutorial, or just use the recipe from here.  However you do it - be sure to thank 'Our Best Bites' when you have your first spoonful!  And then head on over to their website and take a look at their other fabulous recipes.  I promise you will be impressed!

Overnight  Pumpkin Spice French Toast
Recipe by Our Best Bites

Ingredients
1lb loaf french bread, diced into 1-inch cubes
8 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 1/2 cups pumpkin spice egg nog
4 tablespoons brown sugar (dark brown if you have it)
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
butter for greasing pan

Topping
1/4 cup packed brown sugar (preferably dark brown sugar)
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons cold butter

Instructions
Butter sides and bottom of a 9×13 pan and set aside.  Place bread cubes in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs together and add pumpkin puree.  Whisk until smooth.  Mix in pumpkin spice egg nog.  Add brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla and whisk until combined.  Pour mixture over bread cubes and very gently toss until covered.  Let sit for 2-3 minutes and then toss again, making sure all bread cubes get covered in some of the egg mixture. Place entire mixture in prepared 9×13 inch pan, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, white sugar, flour, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon,  Either grate butter with a large-hole cheese grater, or cut it into small chunks, and use fingers to crumble mixture together.  Cover, and place crumb topping  in fridge overnight.

In the morning, take french toast pan out and set at room temperature while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Uncover pan and sprinkle crumb topping evenly over the top.  Bake for 45-55 minutes, until puffed and golden all over.  (Mine usually takes closer to 55 minutes).  Remove and let cool for 10 minutes or so and then cut into squares and serve.

Serve with softened or melted butter, 100% real maple syrup, and sweetened whipped cream sprinkled with pumpkin pie spice.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Halloween Sugar Cookies

They might not be perfect (I would definitely do the jack-o-lanterns a little differently), but these cute Halloween cookies just might be showing up in a couple of mailboxes this week!  Doing cookies this way takes a lot of time, but I love doing it.  Wish I didn't have to work.  Maybe with more practice the jack-o-lanterns would look better.  But hey - they still taste wonderful!

Midwest Neurosuergery Associates

Many, many years ago, while trick-or-treating with our daughters, I walked onto the porch of a hopeful looking house with my daughters.  As they knocked on the door - I leaned back against the rail.  The next thing I knew, the rail and myself were in the bushes below.  It wasn't securely attached to the cement porch.  Since then, I've struggled with my neck and my lower back.  I have a ruptured disc way low and my neck has developed bone spurs and other fun things that I don't know what it means when I read the report!  But.....with symptoms I've been having I had a follow up MRI last week.  The results were sent to my neurosurgeon's office that I had a consult with 2 1/2 years ago.

I was calling to set up an appointment the day I received a call from their office.  It was the head doctor's nurse.  He had reviewed my film and the reports and compared them to what I'd had done 2 1/2 years ago and didn't see that there was a need for surgery at this time.  That was a relief.  The neck surgery especially scares me, more than just a little.

This is not a group that pushes surgery.  They don't do it just because it can be done.  Dr. Chilton and Dr. Blatt have both explained to Don and I: "When we do surgery, you are never the same.  You might feel better and have relief from your symptoms, but you will never be the same because we have to go in and cut muscle, and scrape, and move things around and possibly use metal cages and such.  It's better to keep all of you as it is for as long as you can.  When the surgery is truly needed, or if you want it regardless of what we've just told you - we'll do it."

I appreciate that attitude.  And by the way - this group has done two surgeries on Don.  Both have been extremely successful.  We would recommend them.

So - if you think you might need back or neck or head surgery - and you live in the Kansas City Area, I invite you to check out this practice:  Midwest Neurosurgery Associates


Carden Park School - October 11

For all of my friends who currently teach at Hall Elementary, or who have in the past, check out the parking lot!  This is one of two!  Much better than our current two-space one (and one of those is handicapped parking)!



Friday, October 4, 2013

The Mormon Faith & General Conference

This weekend The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be holding their semi-annual General Conference.  During these meetings modern-day prophets and apostles will speak.  If you would like to listen or watch, go here: lds.org.

You might also like to know some statistics regarding our faith.

I love belonging to this church.  I feel that because of its teachings, and because I try to live them, that I am a better person than I would be without them.  Am I perfect?  Absolutely not.  Do I try to be better?  Yes.

I invite you to listen to what will be taught this weekend.  There are sessions on both Saturday and Sunday.

Have a fabulous weekend no matter what you do!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Temple


 

This weekend, my hubby and myself passed on the chance to go to the local high school football game (it was perfect outside football weather, might I add!), and decided instead to drive 45 miles to go to the temple.  We went here - to the Kansas City Temple.



I had a wonderful experience that night.  I went in with a heart full of anxiety over many matters.  A family member with some health issues.  Me with some health issues and a probable upcoming surgery which I am very anxious about.  Thinking about some issues friends are facing.  And as always, when I walked inside the temple, some of those feelings of anxiety began to melt away.  If you don't know, we (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) believe that the temple is the most sacred place on the earth.  How can you go to the temple and not feel peace?  And love.  And hope.  I felt all of those things.  But I had another very spiritual, very personal experience on top of all of that.

One of the ladies in the temple reminded me a lot of my mother.  My mother who passed away in November of 1981.  Not that she looked 'just like her', but there were some similar characteristics and mannerisms.  And it wasn't too long before I felt that my mother was there with me.   That she still loved me and that she still has concern over me and my family.  It was tender.

Would I have had that kind of an experience on a Friday night had I been sitting at the local high school football game?  I don't think so.

And so - as we are obedient to those things that we are asked to do - we are blessed.  We may not be 'rich beyond measure' financially, but as we drove home Friday night - I truly felt 'Rich.  Beyond Measure.'


If  you would like to know more about temples, check it out here.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Carden Park School - September 16

Remember the last post I made - the concrete structure going 'up' is the elevator shaft.  And there's more going up now.  The girders for the outside walls are being put in place.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Oh ~ what do you do in the summertime....???

 Well, if you are living in Missouri and your family is living elsewhere....

....what you do is be gone for almost 3 weeks, travel through or to 7 states, sleep on sofas, blow-up mattresses and in really bad hotel rooms and put almost 3,000 miles on the car.  Whew!

But let me tell you - it was worth it!

Our first stop was Colorado.  Just for a night, but we just had to see these three!

Isn't he adorable!  I just loved kissing those sweet cheeks of his!


And then we landed in Utah for a while.

And how do you get a 16 month old to warm up to you?  First of all - you let her feel all safe in the arms of her dad - then you pull her in with a fun new book!

It didn't take too long before she was my friend again!









See these three amigos?  This is the reason why we left a week earlier than planned.

A 40 year class reunion.  The renewing of friendships.  The erasing of years without seeing one another.  It was good.






We took some time to go visit the places we lived in Cache Valley after we were married.

With each stop there were memories.

This is our first apartment.  A nice one bedroom.  We were upstairs to the left.
550 North 310 West

 One of my bosses at Utah State University owned lots of rentals, and Don and I were going to manage a set of them at one time.  The person moving out of the place we were to move into didn't want to move.  The night we were to move in it was raining.  There were broken lightbulbs, a deacons bench in the kitchen that was filled with table scraps, and cockroaches in the freezer.
I could not make myself move there.  So we said no thank you to the property manager opportunity and stayed with Don's parents for a couple of days until I found this place.
550 Dee Ave.  This is where we lived when Amanda was born. 


And for 2 months right before we moved to Evanston, Wyoming, we lived in the little basement apartment here.  The door is on the left of the stairs.  It was fine.  Loved the location - just down the street from the temple.
125 East 200 North
We had an evening of peek-a-boo with miss Emma!  She would run into the table and fall over if you didn't help her.  At one point in time she had the blanket over her head and was walking with her arms out to her sides.  She reminded me of E.T. when he was dressed up like a ghost for Halloween.


We went to the Splash Pad in North Logan one day.  Emma got surprised here by the water shooting up.  She loves the water.  She loves being outside.

When she got tired of playing in the water, she wrapped her towel around her and walked around the splash pad....watching other kids and 'talking' to them.


 We took a little drive over to Bear Lake.  It was Raspberry Days and there were so many people there.

Why would we make the trip to Bear Lake at a time when we knew it would be so crowded?

To go to LaBeau's of course!  They have two locations, and this one was not as busy as the main one.

Emma loved giving her mom and dad tastes of milk shake.  What good sports they were!


 Ahh -- Tony's Grove!  Just a short drive up Logan Canyon and one of my favorite spots in the whole world!

We walked around the lake, took lots of pictures, skipped some stones and let Emma play in the water for a while. 

It was an almost perfect day.  We just needed three more people there to make it absolutely perfect.


We still needed some extended family time up the canyon, so we spent at evening at 2nd Dam.

There was plenty of good food.  Some hot dogs, s'mores, and feeding the ducks.

There was also some broken fishing line and lost lures.  Oh well, better luck next time.

And I'm still waiting for a good rainbow trout to have for my dinner!  :)




Amanda and Dustin took us to a little sandwich joint.  Oh. My. Goodness.  We quite enjoyed our sandwiches at Papa Jays.   So much so, that we went back a 2nd time before leaving the valley.

I had a Pepper Popper: Beef, swiss cheese, cream cheese, bacon, chopped fresh jalapenos, tomato, lettuce, PJ's sweet BBQ and guacamole.

So good!

While in Colorado - we went to Cinzetti's.  There are only two of them in the nation.  One in the Denver area, and one in the Kansas City area.  It's an Italian Buffet.  We enjoyed it a lot also.  One of my favorite stops there was at the crepe bar.  Yummy!
The Pepper Popper at Papa Jay's in Logan, Utah

 And then we were off to Colorado.
Amanda and Emma went with us early and Dustin joined us when he was done with work a few days later.  Emma had a fun time giving little Parker kisses and touching him.




We hiked at Red Rock while there with a very stubborn little girl.  She insisted on walking the entire way.  We didn't make it to the top because someone was getting way too ornery - but it was a fabulous view and nice to be in the Colorado mountains even if it was just for a little bit.

Of course we had to spend some time at the Park.  This is something that really impressed me about the area where we were.  There were lots of really nice parks, walking trails, bike trails, etc. 

Parker's blessing outfit and the special blanket that his great grandmother Miller knitted.  His mother used it when she was blessed also.



And then the reason why we all traveled to Colorado:  the blessing of Parker!  It was a special day and we are grateful to all who came to be a part of it.  There were family from both sides of the family.  Some traveled for lots of miles - some for just a few.  To everyone that was there - we say thank you!  We wish more could have come - but we're grateful for those that were able to make it.


 And then the time for good-byes.  These trips are always a little bitter-sweet.  We love, love, love spending time with our family.  We have enjoyed so much the chances to build relationships with these precious grand-children.  But since we don't live close to one another - there are always good-byes....my least favorite part of any of these trips.  As Dustin told Emma when we gave our last good-bye hugs and some of us had already started to cry: 'Be strong.'   How grateful I am to know that families can be forever and that I can be with this crazy bunch for eternity!  I wouldn't have it any other way!