Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday thoughts

Some random Friday thoughts. . . where oh where has January gone??? And how many more months of winter do we have???  I guess if January went that quick, then winter should be over really soon--I hope.

This was my inspiring bathroom mirror quote this week.  Loved it!  We made sure to do that lots this week :)

Read this book.  It was interesting.  One lady being very honest about her struggle with bulimia, drug and alcohol addiction.  She turned her life around, got married, found her faith, and is a mom.  It made me laugh and cry.  I don't agree with all her beliefs, but it was a good read.  

Also read this book--I am a huge L.M. Montgomery fan!  This is one of her stand alone books.  I think this year I am going to re-read all her stuff.  I love her Anne of Green Gables series.  I think the first book is one of my all-time favorites ever.  There are 8 books in that series, and I have never made it through all 8 because Anne isn't the main character in the last few.  I think I lost interest because I just loved Anne so much and just wanted to read about her.  I need to expand my horizons :)

And just a funny shot.  I found these valentine hot chocolate boxes set at Wal-mart.  Aren't they cute?  They are each a different flavor-milk chocolate, French vanilla, mint chocolate and chocolate caramel.  Yum!  And beside them is a loaf of cinnamon bread I made that when I cut into it, we realized it was smiling, so we had to get a picture of the smiling cinnamon bread.  It isn't supposed to look like that--it just happened :)

And on that happy bread note, have a happy weekend!  See you Monday!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What's up Wednesday--crock pot potato soup

I made this soup for the first time last week, and it was soooo good!  For lunch the next day I was lamenting there were no leftovers because I wanted some more!!!  I found it on the web here a few months ago and finally got around to making it.  I wish I had made it sooner!  Easy crock pot recipes are my favorite, and this is definitely joining our family's lists of favorites!  We had company over for dinner when I made it, and one of our guests said it tasted like Panera Bread's baked potato soup.  Yum!
Crock Pot Potato Soup

10 red potatoes, washed and cubed
1 large onion, diced and sauted in butter
5 cups water
3 Tbsp chicken bouillon
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp dry ranch dressing mix
2 tsp dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 package or real bacon bits
1 cup half and half
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup lights sour cream
1/4 cup chives or green onions, chopped fine

Place the first 9 ingredients in the crock pot.  Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.  The potatoes should be tender.  Stir in half and half, cheese, sour cream, and green onions.  Heat through and serve.

Yum!  Perfect for a cold winter evening meal!

Monday, January 27, 2014

2014 Blue Jeans Week 4

We had a good week.  Miss O was gone the last 3 days of the week to a band clinic.  She had fun and worked very, very hard.   We attended an amazing brass concert that the older two girls got to participate in for one number.  I finally finished a goal of mine that I have had for 2 years!  yeah!  It was a good week.  Here is a look at what we did. . .
Sunday morning Mr J made me orange chocolate chip pancakes by himself (thank you to Krusteaz pancake mix) and brought me breakfast in bed.  Isn't that the sweetest thing?  What a cutie he is.  Sure love my boy!

Monday night is family night at our house, and Miss O entertained us with some trumpet music.  It was pretty awesome!

After 2 plus year of having the goal to reorganize my recipes--I finally did it and got it done this week!!!  Yeah!  These are my new recipe binders.  Can you tell we have an uneven amount of desserts?  Kind of partial to those around here :)

We have sister missionaries serving in our area from our church that we love!  They change them every few months, and one was leaving this week, so we had to get a picture before she left.

Tonight was the amazing brass concert where the area band kids got to participate for one number.  It was pretty awesome!  Miss A and Miss O are in there somewhere playing their French horns.

Pinewood Derby time.  Mr J and Ben have been working hard on his car this week.  They were hammering in the wheels today.

And this is his car/truck all done and ready to race for next week!  He did a good job!

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Thoughts

Just some thoughts for you this Friday. . .
This was my quote for the week that I had on my bathroom mirror.  "Do not miss living through the difficult times with your companion."  It makes you stronger together.  It makes your love stronger.  It is a hard thing to do, but so important.

I got all my recipes divided and into new binders!  Yeah!  If you can tell, we have a slightly unequal amount of dessert recipes.  We are kind of partial to those :)

I also went through and re-organized my recipe box.  Now I just need to weed through my cookbooks. . .that is next week's project. 

And I wanted to share this.  I put this on the cover of my dessert cookbook binder.  I found this in a magazine about 15 years ago and kept it.  I kept it because it made me laugh so hard because I tried the same thing when I was way, way younger :) 

And just a random shot, these are my absolute favorite pens in the world, and I stock up on them.  This is my desk in my craft room where I have been working on our 2007 family scrapbook using the Project Life Olive Edition, and I am almost done!!!  Yeah for Project Life and simple memory keeping!!

Have a great weekend and see you Monday!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What's up Wednesday--cookie dough brownies

This is my favorite brownie recipe in the whole world.  I got the recipe in 2002 from a church friend.  She brought them as a birthday treat to church in the morning, and I told her I had to have the recipe after I ate half the pan.  She e-mailed me the recipe that afternoon, and I made them that night.  And we all lived happily ever after--or at least I did knowing that this recipe existed in the world.  
Cookie Dough Brownies

Brownie layer
2 cups sugar
 1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tes salt
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs
2 tes vanilla

In a mixing bowl combine the first 4 ingredients.  Add the next 3 ingredients and beat at medium speed for 3 minutes.  Pour into greased 9x13 baking dish.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Cool Completely!

Dough layer
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 Tab milk
1 tes vanilla
1 cup flour

For dough layer, cream butter and sugars in mixing bowl.  Add in milk and vanilla and mix well.  Beat in flour.  Spread over the completely cooled brownies and chill until firm--about an hour.

1 cup chocolate chips
1 Tbl. shortening

For glaze, melt the chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave safe bowl for 1 minutes then stir until completely melted.  Spread over filling and chill until firm.  


Monday, January 20, 2014

2014 Blue Jeans Week 3

We had a great week full of a lot of music.  Can you have a week better than that?  Lots of pep band this week, and it was awesome!  I really cannot say enough about our middle school/high school band director.  He is amazing and so influencing my girls (all 3 of them) for good.  What a blessing he is!!! When we count our blessing at our house, everyone counts him!  So, here is a look at our week. . .
I have been trying to go through the house and declutter/re-organize.  It has also been one of my long time goals to go through my recipes and reorganize them.  I finally got around to starting that this week.  I have had 2 huge binders full of recipes that I am separating into themed binders--main dish, dessert, breads, etc based on what Mel at Mel's Kitchen Cafe did here.  I am so happy with the result (not done yet, but getting close).  It is so nice to clean things out and organize them for a new year.  Less is more is my theme this year :)

I volunteer at Mr J's classroom once a week.  Today when I was there they were learning about adjectives.  They made these cute adjectives portraits.  It was fun to be there to help.  So thankful for my kids' good schools and teachers!

Pep band #1--this is the high school pep band that plays at their basketball games.  Miss O is in this.  They are amazing and so loud!  It is super fun to listen to them.  They are nationally ranked #6 in the country for high school pep bands.  

Miss O playing her mellophone in the middle.  She is good.

Pep Band #2--this is the middle school pep band, and they are really, really good!  They played at some boys basketball games this week.

Miss E is playing the trombone in this on the left and Miss O is playing her mellophone one girl over from her (she's wearing thin blue headband).  Miss O does double duty with both middle school and high school pep bands--she is in 8th grade.  She is a busy band girl!

Awards assembly at Mr J's school today.  He got all A's, an accelerated reader award, and the paints were an added bonus award for good behavior.  He was excited!

The cub scout pinewood Derby is coming up the end of the month, so Ben and Mr J were in our neighbor's wood shop working today to get his car cut out and ready to go.  

Thanks for visiting!  On Wednesday I am sharing my favorite brownie recipe of all time, so come back!
I post Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays.

Have a great week!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday thoughts

Just some random thoughts this Friday. . .
This is the quote I had up on my bathroom mirror this week.  As mentioned before, for a Christmas present Ben printed out and gave me all these inspirational quotes to put up.  I do believe in marriage.  It is the best thing ever!  

Ben and I have not seen this movie, but all the kids have.  They went while we were away on our anniversary weekend.  They loved  it and have been singing the songs daily ever since.  We got the soundtrack and have been enjoying that.  Can't wait to see it when it comes out on DVD!  I love Idina Menzel's voice!

And I read this book this week.  Loved it!  It was a clean, engaging, exciting, couldn't-put-it-down book.  I can't wait for the next one that comes out later this year!!  I like Brandon Sanderson's stuff, and he has a lot of it.  I haven't read all of his stuff, but quite a bit, and all of it I have liked.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What's Up Wednesday--German pancakes/Mountains

When I was growing up my mom made this often.  We always called them Mountains because of how they puffed up while cooking.  I hadn't made these in a long, long time, and saw the recipe the other day and thought my kids needed to try them.  
Mr J was pretty impressed by how big they got while cooking.

It is basically like a baked egg pancake.  They are called lots of things-- German pancakes, or Mountains at our house.  You can put syrup on them just like a pancake.  I like honey butter on mine.  You can see that in the picture too.  This is super fast and easy to make.  I mixed the whole thing up in my blender.  We finished the whole pan so I am thinking next time we need to make 2 pans.  It is a breakfast food, but we had them for dinner.  Breakfast for dinner is a favorite around here.  Enjoy your mountains!

Mountains/German Pancakes
Turn oven on to 400 degrees.  Cut up a 1/2 cube (1/4 cup) of butter into pieces and put in a 9x13 pan.  
Put the pan with butter in it into the oven while it heats up and while you mix the other ingredients.  Keep in eye on it so it doesn't burn.

In a blender beat 6 eggs

Add 1 cup of flour and mix well,

Add I cup of milk and 1/2 tes salt and mix until smooth and kind of frothy.

Take out the melted butter pan and pour mixture into the butter.  Return to oven quickly and cook for 20 minutes.

Serve with anything you like on a pancake.

Honey Butter

1/4 cup butter, soft
1/4 cup honey
1/8 tes vanilla

Whip butter then add in honey and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

Monday, January 13, 2014

2014 Blue Jeans Week 2

This was a nice, slower week to get started back into life, school, work, and seminary after the holidays.  We got an extra day of  vacation because of snow, ice, and extremely cold temperatures, and we stayed home by the fire and enjoyed the extra day.  Here is a look at our week. . .
Church was canceled Sunday due to the weather--ice, snow, and really, really cold.  The sister missionaries came over for dinner and enjoyed the evening with us.  We had fun looking at scrapbooks and finding places on the globe.

Monday was our extra day of vacation we weren't planning on as school was canceled because of the weather.  Monday night we made our yearly goals and our daily blessings books.  More about that in my previous post.  Everyone did a great job and is ready and excited for the new year.

Had a quiet evening today and got to put together a puzzle with Mr J.  He got it for Christmas, and we hadn't had time to put it together yet.  Captain America is every one's favorite at our house.

Wednesday is church night, and we had a lesson on photography by one of our sister missionaries.  Had to get a picture.  It was a great lesson and the girls learned a lot--I did too!

This is one of Ben's Christmas presents that we have used every day since we got it.  Yum!

Before Christmas break our amazing band director cornered Miss A and begged her to join band.  He wanted her to play the French horn like Miss O does.  So, she decided she would give it a try.  She has never played anything like this before, but she has been playing the piano since she was 6, so she has a lot of musical skills.  She has been practicing very hard to caught up to the high school band.  I hope it will be a good experience for her.  

We got this Christus statue from my parents for Christmas, and we were so excited about it!  It is just beautiful.  They have a bigger than life size one in Salt Lake City on Temple Square you need to see if you haven't.  We have some very special memories of that, and were so grateful to get this to have in our home.  One of our Christmas treasures.

Thanks for visiting!  Have a great week!!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Balance and goals

Life is all about balance.  I say that often to myself and my family.  When you get things out of balance, you get really messed up, so I try really hard to keep things balanced around here.  Sometimes it works, and others not so well, but we have a goal--balance.  I love goals.  They are very important to me.  The first Monday night of a new year is our "Goal Night."  We have had this tradition for years.  Monday nights are always family nights at our house, but the first Monday of a new year is always special.  We make our yearly goals that night.  And striving for balance, we make goals in 4 different areas--physical, mental, spiritual, temporal.  The kids come up with their own goals.  They do their own thing.  I just want them to have at least one goal in each category--for balance :)
This year we also continued with our "blessing" or "thankful" books.  We made these last year, and our goal was to write 5 things in it each night we were grateful for or that were a blessing in our lives that day.  The books were in our basket that holds our scriptures, so every night we would get the scripture basket, read scriptures, write in our blessings book, say prayers, and head to bed.  It was a really, really good experience to do these books, and I decided we need to keep up that tradition.  We have so much to be thankful for, and we need to look for our blessings and realize how much we have been blessed.
So this is the result of our work this past Monday night.   Pretty good work.  As Ben and I were looking them over we both saw something and smiled.

Looking a little closer at one we noticed something.  This boy is way ahead of his time :)  also love the little head with the speech bubble that says "WOW"

And has some pretty lofty goals--remember they make these all up on their own.  I hope cooking one meal every 2 months doesn't push him too hard--ha!

And then I wanted to share this.  For Christmas Ben printed and cut out all these awesome inspiration quotes for me.  He said they were more reminders for him, but gave them to me :)  I am putting one up on our bathroom mirror each week.  This was the quote for the first week.  Very, very true.

Here is to balance, goals, parenthood, and marriage!  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What's up Wednesday--Burrito Bake

This recipe is one of our all-time favorites.  It is super easy, and I have been making it for years.  It is basically a burrito pie.  I didn't get a picture because my family ate the whole thing, so you know it is good.
Burrito Bake

1 lb ground beef
1 package taco seasoning (or if you buy it in bulk like I do, about 1/4 cup)
3/4 cup water
9 flour tortillas
1 can refried beans
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat over to 350.  Brown meat in large pan and drain when done.  Add in taco seasoning and water.  Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 10 min.

Place 3 of the tortillas on the bottom of a greased 9 inch pie plate.  Cover with half each of the refried beans, meat mix and cheese.  Add 3 more tortillas and repeat layers with rest of beans, meat and cheese.  Top with remaining 3 tortillas.  

Bake 30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Cut into pie pieces and serve with salsa and sour cream.  Yum!

Here is to lots of yummy eating in 2014!

Monday, January 6, 2014

2014 Blue Jeans Week 1

My approach to scrap booking and memory keeping is pretty simple.  I am a big, big fan of Becky Higgins and her picture-a-day idea and Project Life.  I am starting my 6th year of documenting our lives like this, and I love it so, so, so much!  This year I am using the Jade Project Life kit.  On Mondays I usually post my pictures from the previous week.  I already blogged about Christmas and New Year's, so these pictures start Jan 1, 2014--our first few days of the new year.  Here is what we have been doing. . .
We have had some snow.  We actually had a white Christmas which is rare for us.  The kids got out in the snow for a little bit.  Mr J uses his sled as a shield from his sister's snowballs :)

My sister and her family were here over Christmas and she brought these cool snowflake patterns that we made. Can you tell their theme?  Do you spy Darth Vader?  Harry Potter?  Yoda? C3PO? The kids were pretty amazed when they saw them once they opened them.  Really, really cool!  She downloaded the pattern off the internet somewhere :)

We love our Elders and Sister missionaries that serve in our area from our Church. We had them over for dinner this past week because it was one of the sister's birthdays.  Miss O made her this yummy strawberry cheesecake to celebrate.  We had fun!  

It has been a very nice and relaxing break.  The weather has canceled our church twice during the break, and the kids have enjoyed listening to Ben read to them.  He has been reading this book to them for a while--it is a big book--and they are loving it.  It has really given them a great appreciation for their pioneer ancestors and what they went through.

Thanks for visiting!  Here is to a great 2014!  

Friday, January 3, 2014

2013 Reading List

Every year I set the goal to read as many books as I will have candles on my birthday cake that year.  Some years I go way over, and some years I barely make it.  This year I was one short.  It was a busy year, but still 36 books is pretty good.  I had the goal to read 10 non-fiction books, but only got in 8, and that is okay too.  I picked my favorite for our Christmas letter and they were. . .

       The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter series by Susan Wittig Albert

      Seven Miracles that saved America by Chris and Ted Stewart

But there were lots of good ones.  I had a hard time choosing favorites.  I was super excited to see John Flanagan came out with another Ranger's Apprentice book at the end of the year, and I loved that as well.  Josi Kilpack's culinary mystery series is a fun one.  Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson was awesome and feed my Jane Austen addiction.  The Candymakers by Wendy Mass was a really fun read that my kids all loved.  Hitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti was an eye opener.  WWII never ceases to amaze me in both good and bad.  I constantly ask myself, "Really, they did that?  People really did that to other people?"
It is a hard thing to read about, but very important.  These are just in order of when I read them.  I don't think there is one on the list this year that I wouldn't recommend, so happy reading!  And here is to reading 38 more books in 2014!!!  Any recommendations?

1.  Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst *NF
2.  Reached by Ally Condie *#3 in Matched trilogy
3.  The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima *#4 in Seven Realms series
4.  The Land of Stories:  the Wishing Spell by Christ Colfer
5.  The Tale of Hawthorne House by Susan Wittig Albert *#4 in Beatrix Potter Cottage Tales series
6.  Navigation Early by Clare Vanderpool
7.  Wasatch Summer by Anola Pickett
8.  The Tale of Briar Bank by Susan Wittig Albert *#5 in Beatrix Potter Cottage Tales
9.  The Glass Swallow by Julia Golding
10.  The Tale of Applebeck Orchard by Susan Wittig Albert *#6 in Beatrix Potter Cottage Tales
11.  Seven Miracles that Saved America by Christ and Ted Stewart *NF
12.  Devil's Food Cake by Josi Kilpack
13.  Key Lime Pie by Josi Kilpack
14.  Blackberry Crumble by Josi Kilpack
15.  Pumpkin Roll by Josi Kilpack
16.  I will Plant you a Lilac Tree by Laura Hillman *NF WWII Schindler's List survivor
17.  Perfect Scoundrels by Allie Carter *#3 Heist Society series
18.  Tres Leches Cupcakes by Josi Kilpack
19.  Banana Split by Josi Kilpack
20.  Everneath by Brodi Ashton
21.  Titanic:  Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson *NF
22.  Everbound by Brodi Ashton
23.  Goliath by Scott Westervelt *#3 in Leviathan series
24.  The Tale of Oak Cake Crag by Susan Wittig Albert *#7 Beatrix Potter Cottage Tales
25.  Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson
26.  The Tale of Castle Cottage by Susan Wittig Albert #8 and final Beatrix Potter Cottage Tales
27.  The Candymakers by Wendy Mass
28.  Close to Famous by Joan Bauer
29.  Divergent by Veronica Roth
30.  Insurgent by Veronica Roth *#2 Divergent series
31.  The Great Fire by Jim Murphy *NF
32.  Lincoln:  A Photobiography by Russell Freedman
33.  Allegiant by Veronica Roth *#3 Divergent series
34.  The Royal Ranger by John Flanagan *#12 in The Ranger's Apprentice series
35.  The Book of Mormon *NF
36.  Hitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti *NF

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 year wrap up

Things I missed in between Christmas and the end of the year. . .
My sister, her husband, and their 2 cute boys were with us for Christmas this year which was way fun!  Love having family and cousins here!

Miss A turned 16!!!

And being the runner she is, loved her running gear gifts

Miss A finished her quilt she had been working on this year with Nana.  Beautiful!  It is her 2nd quilt she has made.

Mr J got some awesome Lego sets for Christmas that Miss E helped him  put together.

We celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary and got away for a weekend in the city and went to the temple.  So nice to be together!

The kids did gingerbread houses at Nana's while we were away.

We have spent a lot of time playing the new games we got for Christmas and enjoying our fireplace while it is cold outside!

Miss O had a Christmas Ball at school, and the sister missionaries came over to do her and her friend's hair and make up before the dance.  They looked so beautiful!

Our amazing high school band director convinced Miss A she needed to switch to band in January and play the French horn, so her awesome sister has been giving her lessons over the break.  We are definitely a band family now!
And this is our last photo of 2013--our New Year's Eve party with our fancy glasses and our sparkling apple and blueberry juice.  Happy New Year!

Here's to a wonderful 2013 and looking forward to an even better 2014!