Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I need your help. I'm speaking at a Mom to Mom group at a local church in a couple of weeks. I've read, I've studied, I've pondered and prayed and I think I've finally kind of, sorta narrowed down what I want to say. But I would love your feedback. If you are a mother - I know you had visions of what being the perfect mother would be like. Share with me how that vision and the reality of motherhood differ - and what are your goals this year to be a better mom? Will you take more time for yourself? Will you say no less often? Will you 'not sweat the small stuff'? I would love your feedback.
...and the women at Mom to Mom thank you also!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The best gifts of all!

Sometimes - the best gifts don't come in a box, or a bag with pretty tissue paper. They aren't found under the tree or hanging in a stocking. The BEST gift is the gift of family ~ of being able to spend time together. To laugh ~ to cry ~ to pray. To enjoy His presence in those relationships is truly the best present! Christmas 2011 brought the BEST gifts to our house - our family! What fun we had!

Millie and Casey were able to skype with Casey's family on Christmas morning and visit with his siblings who are serving missions for our church in Russia and England. Technology can be such a blessing.

It seems that elves were busy a lot at our house the week before Christmas!

Millie learned how to cut Casey's hair. Don't you agree that there is a lot of trust in a relationship when you let your spouse at your hair with scissors and clippers when they don't know what they are doing? She did a good job. I bet he lets her cut it again!

Dusty was loving having company and lots of attention. She was always hoping for a bite of someone's food from the table.

Don got a remote-controlled helicopter for Christmas.

Playing games is serious business at our house. This Christmas lots of the old favorites were pulled out. We played Twister, Aggravation, SPLAT, Pass the Pigs, Farkle, Mormon Bridge, Dominos, and Five Crowns - plus some new ones that Santa brought this year.

We had a wonderful evening at the Smokebox Cafe in Kansas City. Dustin was able to cross KC BBQ off his bucket list! It was quaint - the food was served on styrofoam plates with plastic utensils - but it was AmAzInG! When we go again - I plan to have the burnt ends and the pulled pork...soooooo good!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I had such grand plans to share a few favorite recipes, favorite songs and such. But instead - we've been enjoying our grown children and their spouses who came to spend Christmas with us. So suffice it to say - not much time for blogging! We have enjoyed some good Kansas City Barbeque, movies, games, LOTS of good food - oh - and did I mention games? Pictures will come - but for today and tomorrow - the focus is going to be on on Savior - on Christmas - and on our family.

So to each of you - Merry Christmas! In whatever circumstance you find yourself in - know that there is a Father in Heaven (God) who is aware of you - who loves you - and who wants you to come back to His presence. He has given his Son, Jesus Christ that this might be fulfilled. Moses 1:39 says: "This is my work and my glory - to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." Through the atonement of Jesus Christ - His suffering for all of us in Gethsamane, being crucified and giving up His life - then claiming it again after three days when He rose and created an empty tomb - we truly do have the opportunity to return again to His presence.

Have a blessed day!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Becky Kelley - Where's the Line to See Jesus - OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO

This is one of the sweetest Christmas songs I've heard in a very long time. It helps put the meaning of the season in perspective.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Preparations

Christmas! Just saying the word brings with it so many feelings, thoughts and desires! I want to do things for other people - I feel so grateful for our blessings - I'm thankful for my Savior Jesus Christ; His birth, His sacrifice and His resurrection. I desire to be like Him. I want to have our family around us. I enjoy the sweet feelings of peace and comfort that exist within the walls of our home. Christmas!

This Christmas Season so far has been a bit of a blur. Right after Thanksgiving my hubby had some major back surgery. He has healed incredibly fast and well - a tender mercy from a loving Father in Heaven! But there was still stress and worry and some sleepless nights and I'm still working almost full-time. All of those things I traditionally do the first couple weeks of December didn't happen. We did get the tree up and decorations in place Thanksgiving weekend - everything else was put on hold. This week I started baking. And sewing. And making lists ~ lots of lists! And slowly crossing things off of my lists. And making more lists! :) I know you know what I mean!

So - here are the cookies I made last weekend. Gingerbread. Fabulous, soft, yummy gingerbread cookies. I love how the kitchen smells when I make these cookies. I copied the snowmen that were featured on Bakerella's site a couple of weeks ago. It's very obvious that she is a professional.... hmmmm - just don't look too close!

And this - the directions said: "15 minute table runner." I was skeptical. It actually took - from beginning to end - 25-30 minutes. Not bad though! It wasn't the fabric choice I really wanted, but when you procrastinate sewing projects at Christmas-time, you get what no-one else wanted either! Oh well - This was a practice one - the ones I make this summer for next year (yea, right) will be fabulous! I had to laugh because the project I left out after Christmas last year to work on over the summer never did get be perfectly clear....never got started! Oh well - there's always next year - Right?!

1 c. molasses + 1 c. shortening
Put in a small saucepan and just bring to a boil. Simmer for 2 minutes - remove from heat and cool.

1 egg
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda + 1/2 c. warm water
6 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. ginger

Cream egg, sugar and vanilla together. Add molasses/shortening mixture and mix till blended. Add soda water and mix well. Slowly add dry ingredients and blend until mixed well. Dough will be quite stiff. Roll 1/4" thick, cut out and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. Remove immediately to a cooling rack. When completely cool decorate or store in an air-tight container.

What's your favorite Christmas beverage? I think ours is slush! Recipe coming soon.
Christmas music and Christmas you have a favorite? Coming to a post soon!
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Apple Pie

Deep-dish, Crumb-topped Apple Pie that is!

Who did you spend Thanksgiving with? We typically aren't blessed to be with family on Thanksgiving, so we share the day with someone else in the same situation. This year we enjoyed the day with our friends, Brad and Martha Cochran. They have a teenage son at home who was more than happy to take the picture! - and two daughters and a son-in-law that weren't able to be home either.

It was a relaxing day; a wonderful meal, shared friendship, then back home to begin pulling out Christmas tubs and decorating.

I'm not a huge pumpkin pie fan - but I dearly love my apple pie! I took the recipe that my mother-in-law had used for years and tweeked it a bit. Because I'm thankful for others who share their fabulous recipes with me - I'm sharing this one with you! Look at that pie! The pictures don't do it justice - and I made REAL whipped topping for it. Nothing better my friends!
Apple Pie
6 cups apples ~ Choose 2-3 varieties from the following: *Golden Delicious
Granny Smith, Macintosh, Jonathan, or JonaGold
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
4 Tbs. quick Tapioca
1 Tbs. corn starch

Peel and core your apples and cut into slices, placing them in a large bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix well.

Double-crust pastry recipe

2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
2/3 c. shortening
5-7 Tbs. cold (even ice) wter

Mix flour and salt together in a deep bowl. Cut in shortening until crumbly. Add water a tablespoon at a time until moistened...don't over mix. Roll out half and put in a large, deep dish pie plate. Pour apple mixture into prepared crust. Roll out other half of pastry and place on top of apples. Seal the edges, then cut several 'vent' holes in top of crust. Top with crumb topping.

Crumb Topping
1/2 - 3/4 c. flour
1/2 - 3/4 c. sugar
4-6 Tbs. butter (cold, but not HARD)
1 tsp. cinnamon
Combine flour, sugar and butter. Cut in butter till crumbly. Spread over top of pie. (I like LOTS of crumb topping so I use the greater measurements. If you just want a little - use the lesser measurements.)

Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes...check at 30 minutes. If apples in the middle aren't soft - cook for the additional 15 minutes.

*While working at Utah State University eons ago - one of the professors in our department, Alvin Hamson, told me the secret of using the different kinds of apples. They are all a little different in sweetness vs. tartness. The combination is wonderful.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Christmas is Sneaking In!

I just couldn't wait any longer. Last week I was at a Christmas craft show - and I couldn't leave without bringing home this new Christmas treasure! Isn't he too cute?! So today I had a dilemma. Here is this cute snowman pillow in the midst of all my Thanksgiving/Fall decorations. It just didn't fit. I didn't want to put him away - even for a week - I just love him. Soooooo - I said an early goodbye to the fall decorations. We have 3 small Christmas trees in addition to our large family tree. Two of them are now up and decorated. Can I tell you how happy Christmas makes me? There is a magical feeling that envelopes my home and my soul. I wasn't entirely happy with Christmas music being played in the stores before Halloween was over - but in my home - at times of my choosing is a completely different story!
Has anything Christmas made an appearance at your home yet? Share!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pumpkin Turtle Cheesecake

I know that we are knee-deep in 'fall' when I pull out my recipe for this amazing cheesecake. My sweetheart's birthday is in November - and this is the 'go-to' recipe to celebrate that special day! This year it was made by Millie while we were visiting family in Utah. I made it again this week for my co-workers. I've learned something with this cheesecake - you HAVE to use REAL cream cheese - no low-fat, no fat-free! It's just not worth it to try to save a few calories on this heavenly dessert.

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

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

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.

Here's a close-up of the chocolate and yummy caramel drizzled over the cheesecake.

What dessert or food do you make for special occasions?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Choose to Become...

It's been a busy couple of weeks. First - we went to Utah for a quick trip to celebrate my sweet mother-in-law's 90th birthday - pictures and more on that later. Came home, worked a few days, then went to Kansas City last night and today with a few great friends for a Time Out For Women sponsored by Deseret Book. It was a great weekend - just what I needed to refocus my thoughts and energies and give myself a kick-start. I have some thoughts about what I want to accomplish during and for the Christmas Season and also some things I want to do for our first grandchild who will be born in April. There are LOTS of things to think about - but this weekend helped me remember to focus on those things that are of MOST worth.

We were blessed to hear the music of Michael McLean and Jericho Road. Tender stories told with the power of music is amazing!

We were blessed to hear presentations by: Jason Wright (author of The Christmas Jars and The Wednesday Letters); Dean Hughes - who has published over 90 books, Emily Watts; Anthony Sweat; Marilee Boyack; Mariama Kallon amd Emily Freeman. They each spoke on the theme: Choose to Become ~ "All things are possible to him that believeth." Mark 9:23.

Here are some of the thoughts that were highlights and ah-ha reminders for me for what I need to do to become who I REALLY want to be.
~*~ Don't wait for the BIG moments to happen - but enjoy the small moments. They are just as important.
~*~ Don't let negative self-talk influence how you respond to situations. Learn to put a positive spin on those thoughts that come into your head. Change your perspective.
~*~ Expect hard things of your children. Don't make life so easy for them that they don't get the blessing of learning to work through challenges. Give them the stability of a FEW well-chosen traditions.
~*~ Comparison is the enemy of gratitude. You can be perfectly happy with the situation you are in UNTIL you compare it to someone else's.
~*~ Blaze your own trail. Don't try to be someone else - but find those things that are uniquely YOU and embrace them.
~*~ In our testimonies of the Savior - are we 'almost persuaded' or are we 'altogether committed'? Serve with humility and like Paul - hold back nothing.

And then this evening I saw this on Pinterest and it just seemed to fit with the thoughts swimming in my head about this weekend.

"We become what we want to be by being what we want to become." Richard G. Scott

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

I made a large batch of 'fall' decorated cookies for a friend (I decided to go strictly with pumpkins). After I finished her order I experimented a little.
First a little polka dot cookie with a lace look....

Then one with some stripes and lace.

I'm still learning - but I do like how these turned out.
Happy Fall!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Caramel Apple Sundae

We have a fun little mom and pop place here to grab some great ice cream. Have you ever gone to a big, pink ice cream cone to get ice cream? This place is awesome! If you are ever in St. Joseph, MO - you should stop by Kris & Kate's and treat yourself.

They play 60's music, have some fun picnic tables, a volleyball net and it's just a unique place to have a fun treat with your family.
I opted for the caramel apple sundae. It was sublime!

I think I can make this at home. Warm apple pie filling, vanilla ice cream, lots of whipping cream, warm caramel sauce, a sprinkle of cinnamon and of course - a cherry on top!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Autumn Surprises!

After spending the weekend listening to our church leaders speak at our General Conference, we felt the need to get up and move. So after the last session today, we took a short drive to our local conservation area so we could walk and enjoy nature a little bit too. It was beautiful and fall is just starting to make it's presence known. We saw a momma and her two babies way off in the trees.

I also noticed this 'No Swimming' sign. If you look closely at this nasty pond, would it really be a temptation to jump in? I don't think so!

I was on the lookout for snakes. They mow along the edge of the trail so it is less likely that you'll step on one when walking. This one was already dead - but I still needed a picture for proof that they are there! By the way - I'm glad it was dead!

I love it when the leaves start changing. This was almost the only leaf on this tree that had turned colors. And it's heart shaped - I loved it!

The praying mantis was actually on our back deck. I took his picture before we left the house.

My favorite walking partner. My sweet husband of almost 30 years. I'll follow him anywhere!
Enjoy your fall!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Forget not. . .

Last night at the General Relief Society Broadcast for our church, President Uchtdorf gave a wonderful talk - reminding each of us of five important things: 1) Forget not to be patient with yourself, 2) Forget not the difference between a good sacrifice and a foolish sacrifice, 3) Forget not to be happy NOW!, 4) Forget not the why of the gospel, and 5) Forget not that the Lord loves you.

Truly - we are not forgotten by the Lord. He knows us - our challenges - our joys - those things that make us happy and those situations that bring sorrow and sadness into our lives. He understands our hurts and He knows how to succor us.

I left the church last night feeling a renewed energy - that is something I needed right now. To read or view the talk in it's entirety - click here.

Have a blessed Sabbath!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Candy Corn Cake Pops

I was standing in the grocery check-out a couple of weeks ago and saw a picture of these on a magazine cover. Sorry I can't tell you what magazine it was - but I thought I should branch out from plain old round ones and try something different. I started out by shaping the dough into the candy corn shapes and dipping the whole thing in yellow chocolate.

After letting the yellow dry - (and breaking off the piece of chocolate that started growing on the bottom) - I dipped it again in orange.

Duplicating that process, the last color to dip was white.
And voila! Candy corn cake pops! Now it's ready to put it in a plastic sleeve and add a pretty ribbon. Happy Fall!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Hot Rolls

I've had a lot of friends ask for my hot roll recipe. So here goes! Don't they look good? Imagine the warm bread, a pat of creamy butter and a spoonful of homemade strawberry jam.....makes my mouth water!

Hot Rolls
1/4 lb butter - softened
1/2 c. + 1/2 TBS sugar
1 TBS salt
1/4 c. powdered milk
Mix these first four ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. I use my kitchen aid mixer for this. Add:
2 1/2 c. warm water (think baby bottle warm)
2 c. flour
On slow speed, mix well. Add:
3 eggs
1 TBS yeast (I use instant yeast - so easy to use)
6 - 6 1/2 c. flour
I add the eggs and mix well. Then I will put in three cups flour and the yeast. Mix this well, then gradually add the rest of the flour until the dough pulls away from the sides. You may either leave the dough in the mixing bowl, or transfer to a large bowl sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and lay a light towel over the top. Put in the refrigerator overnight to raise.

I like to mix mine up right before I go to bed. It's great to do on a Saturday night....get the rolls ready Sunday morning - let them raise while you are at church, come home and pop them in the oven and they are hot and ready for dinner! (You can also leave it out in a warm place to raise if you are going to be home to watch it).

In the morning, remove all the dough from the bowl and place on the counter. I usually spray my surface with a little nonstick cooking spray. Cut into four equal pieces. Roll one piece at a time into a circle (like pizza dough). Cut in 12 triangles using a pizza cutter and roll into the crescent shape.

Put on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and allow to raise till doubled. (do this with all four sections).

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or till golden brown. After removing from the oven brush the tops with softened butter.

For a change - instead of making crescents, cut chunks off of the dough ball and roll into a rope and tie in a knot.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pondering on Motherhood

I've spent a fair amount of time today thinking about the events that transpired 27 years ago. The time when our very first daughter was born into this world - as I've always liked to say: "Her coming to earth day"! I look at the beautiful women she and her sister have become and it humbles me greatly to know how our lives have intersected. They are such incredible human beings - and I don't say that because of anything that I have done as a mother - but because of the beautiful spirits they had when they received their earthly bodies. They are 'good' - they are 'wise' - they are 'kind'. They are great examples to me and I will forever feel blessed to be their mother and to call them my daughters. There are 23 months between these two girls - and they are more than sisters - they are best friends.

As a young mother, there are so many mistakes to be made. Everything is new and scary. And this is a LIFE that is depending on YOU to do the RIGHT thing! My mother passed away right before I got married - so that lifeline of wisdom wasn't there for me as a young mother. How grateful I am for the women, the sisters that I rubbed shoulders with in the Relief Society of our church. That is something that is so terrific about our church. No matter where you go in the world - you can find a congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and within that congregation will be a group of women - the Relief Society. They do offer relief, they will buoy you up when you don't think you can make it through one more sleepless night or change another outfit that has been spit up on, or survive the 2's, 3's and everything else that is to come! I do have to say that my daughters were a joy to have in our home. And my heart breaks a little each time I think of them being 1,000 miles away. Sometime in the future they will have babies of their own. So even though I, as their mother, am still able to give advice and love, I am far away. So again - those sisters in the church will be there for them, and for that I will be grateful.

Who do you know that might be needing a little relief and how might you help them? Maybe they need an hour or two 'away' - a movie with their husband - a friend to just sit and visit and have - you know - 'grown-up talk'! Plan how you might be just what someone needs this week. Be open to the possibilities, listen for those whisperings of the Spirit that let you know when you are needed, then take action!

By blessing the lives of others - your life will be blessed beyond measure.

Friday, August 5, 2011

What happened to the light?

We lost electricity the other day - a LOT of us. An electrical substation started on fire. I was VERY grateful it wasn't one of the 100 degree days we've been having. My electric clocks stopped at 2:30 pm. We were told it would be between 1-3:00 am before it would be restored. I had just put several bags of chicken and burger in my freezer and had lots of deli meat in the fridge that I didn't want to loose, so myself and a neighbor headed out in search of dry ice. We weren't quick enough on the search as some of the eating establishments had purchased all dry ice available, so we settled for bags of regular ice - threw them in our coolers and headed for home.

When we left home, it was just dusk - sometimes it was difficult to tell exactly who had power and who didn't. When we were returning home, it was full-out DARK! The city we live in is quite hilly, so as we topped a hill getting closer to our neighborhood - we were stunned at the blackness that almost seemed to smack us in face. There was an occasional light off in the distance where a house was obviously on a different power grid - and they had worked to get the traffic lights functioning, but other than that - it was DARK. We were used to the lights that were reference points - and now before us was a deep, penetrating darkness. We both commented that we almost felt dizzy because we had lost our bearings. It was difficult to tell where we were and where we needed to go.

We all need LIGHT. And not just physical light to help us find our way - but spiritual light that will guide us to where we want to go - and for me, that is to return again to the presence of my Savior and my Father in Heaven. Darkness can surround us in various ways - and the only way to disseminate it is by light. I thought of all the things that need to be done so my proverbial lamp is filled with the oil needed so I will have sufficient light to guide me through the dark times that inevitably come to each of us. A new favorite scripture is: "And I will be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; ..." 1 Nephi 17:13

My prayer for you is that you might have Light!
How do you fill your lamps?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Don't stand in your own way - you can do more!

This is a great example of how we don't believe in ourselves the way we need to so we can keep moving forward and progressing. I tend to not believe in myself. And often, before I move forward, I waste a lot of time thinking of all the bad things that 'could' happen, the mistakes I'm sure I will make, the failure that I will be. After my little pity party - I am usually able to pull myself together and move forward. I think tomorrow when I'm on the treadmill - I will be pushing myself to do more than I think I can.
Thank you Time Out For Women.

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

I have a few 'go-to' desserts and this is one of them. It's moist, it's full of cinnamon flavor and it's great for breakfast or as a dessert. It is definitely a moreish dessert - you always want a little more! Enjoy!

3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup firm butter

2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3-1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x13 cake pan with non-stick cooking spray. Mix all the dough ingredients together until moist and beat 1 minute. Spread half of the batter in the cake pan and set the rest aside. Mix the filling ingredients together and sprinkle over the cake layer in the pan. Pour the rest of the batter over the filling, spreading carefully. Prepare the streusel topping by mixing together all the ingredients until crumbly and sprinkle over the top of the dough mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Meanwhile, beat the powdered sugar and butter together until creamy. Add the vanilla and mix well. Add the water as needed, a tablespoon at a time to make a drizzle consistency. Drizzle the baked cake with the glaze while warm.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

This Sucks!

Literally - it does!! And it's wonderful! We bought a new vacuum a few weeks ago. It helped that it was on sale at Kohls AND we had a 30% off coupon. We didn't really NEED a new vacuum. Ours was still working - or so we thought. We bought the machine, then went on vacation. It sat in the family room in it's box until we got back. My sweet husband put it together a couple of weeks ago and he can't stop vacuuming! We LOVE this Eureka vacuum. We don't know if it's better than Dyson - but it is definitely better than what we've been using.

Case in point. Hubby vacuumed the living room with old vacuum. Then did the same room with the new vacuum. This is what came out after that cleaning. Gross, huh? All that stuff left in the carpet after it had already been vacuumed. Ick!
We had our carpets cleaned not long ago - but truthfully - since we started using this vacuum they look cleaner. They don't mat down as easily (don't we all just love a fluffy carpet?) and they look new.
Love my vacuum! And I love that hubby wants to vacuum! The whole house - every Saturday!

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Obsession

Ok - so I have more than one obsession - my family, baking and chocolate being three of them - but this is another one that doesn't go away. I LOVE candles! I have them in every room - different shapes and sizes. My favorite scent usually involves spice, cinnamon or fall and/or Christmas scents. I found a new scent the last time I shopped at FARMHOUSE COLLECTION Candle Store that I have totally fallen in love with! Cinnamon Spruce! Hmmm - a warm combination of cinnamon and Christmas! Seriously - could there be anything better than that?

I do love shopping at Farmhouse Collection in Jamesport, MO. It has the BEST selection of candles and scents and they are a wonderful quality. I'm going to take a deep breath and say that I think I like them better than Yankee Candles....and I have a collection of Yankee Candles in my closet too, but they just haven't seemed to burn as well or have an even scent as they burn lately.

Check out their website. You can order candles and candle accessories from there - but if you want to see the rest of their fabulous things - you'll have to make the trek to northwest Missouri and visit Farmhouse Collection. By the way - Jamesport is an Amish community - so there are other fabulous shops to visit too. (My sweet hubby surprised me one Christmas with a handmade BEAUTIFUL Amish quilt and a handmade oak quilt rack!) But Farmhouse Collection and their candles is my favorite place to stop. I have been known to drive the 60 miles to get there - go only to Farmhouse Collection - buy my stash of candles and a few other goodies from their store - then turn around and head home.

What is your obsession?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Variation on a favorite - or - Chicken, Bacon Alfredo Pizza!

Have you ever noticed that when you do something over and over it becomes mundane and you get to the point where you don't even notice it anymore? You don't recognize the nuances that made it special in the first place - those things that first drew you to enjoy it. Take pizza for instance. I recall my first ever pizza. It was at a mom & pop joint in rural Soda Springs, Idaho. It was in the mid 70's. It was HUGE! And it was covered with melted cheese, wonderful marinara, sliced olives and pepperoni galore. From that first bite - I was hooked. I've had lots of different kinds of pizza - but we always wander back to that classic favorite - pepperoni.

While visiting with family this summer - our daughter and son-in-law made a bar-b-que chicken pizza. It was nothing less than amazing. Last night I spread my wings a bit and made a 'from scratch' chicken, bacon alfredo pizza. I'm sorry that it was gone before I even had a chance to take a picture of it - but let me share the recipe.


2+ cups white flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. very warm water
2 T. olive oil
3/4 tsp. salt
1 T. brown sugar
1 T. white sugar
1 T. yeast

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and stir quickly to combine. Add wet ingredients and mix well. Add enough more flour to make a soft dough. Knead until smooth and elastic. Cover and let rest on the counter or in a warm spot for about 10 minutes. If using a pizza pan - spray with nonstick cooking spray and dust with cornmeal. Roll and stretch the dough to fit the pan. (this makes enough for a LARGE pizza).

While dough is resting - cook 2-3 chicken breasts with your favorite seasoning. I use garlic powder and Lawry's seasoned salt on mine - along with a little pepper. When the chicken is almost done - I cut it into bite-size pieces and finish cooking. Cook 4-6 slices of bacon till crisp - blot with a paper towel to get rid of excess grease, then break into bite-size pieces.

Using your favorite alfredo sauce generously spread over the dough. Add grated mozzarella, cheddar and monterey jack cheese over the sauce. Top with cooked chicken, bacon, chopped green onions, chopped or shredded green/red peppers, sliced olives and fresh tomatoes.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

It was truly yummy!

And tell me how you spice up something ordinary to make it new and wonderful.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Millie & Casey - Together Forever!

There are a few days here and there in my life that I would deem as 'perfect'. This was certainly one of them! Millie Miller and Casey Lewis were sealed for time and for eternity in the Logan LDS temple. She is marrying into a wonderful family and we were happy to share the day with them. In the LDS faith, we believe that when a marriage is performed in one of our sacred temples by the correct priesthood authority, that the marriage does not end at death, but continues throughout eternity. And likewise, the children that are part of that family are also sealed to the parents. Thus, the family is also an eternal family unit. It brings such peace to my soul to know that we can be together forever!
Setting up --- we had lots of good help!

After spending the morning decorating, we stopped here to have some lunch. If you are ever in Logan, UT - check out 'Great Harvest Bread Company'. We enjoyed a free slice of bread, and also ordered some yummy sandwiches and soup. It quickly became a favorite stopping place for our family!

Here comes the Bride! ...and groom of course!

And then came the party - the celebration to share with lots of family and friends!

They were dancing to the song: "Stealing Cinderella", but he was thinking: 'I Loved Her First'. Both of them blamed the other for starting to cry first.