Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday thoughts

 Just some random Friday thoughts to round out the week.  It has been a crazy busy one, but a good one.  And where has February gone?  Oh my.  Taking down my Valentine's decor to put up St. Patrick's Day stuff.  Bring on the green--inside and out--hopefully!
Love my bathroom mirror quote from this week.  So true!  But I must confess, I was very lucky to marry the right person, now I just need to keep on trying to be the right person!

And the countdown has begun here. . .baby chicks are coming March 6th, and Mr J can hardly wait!

Our poor chicken coop has been empty since end of summer when a raccoon got in and killed all 6 of our laying hens.  Not a pretty sight.  The farm store does have chicks in the fall, and we planned to get some, but by the time we got there they were all gone :( so we have had to wait until this spring.  I have missed my fresh brown eggs and am looking forward to getting some more in a few months.  Mr J is looking forward to taking care of the baby chicks.  His sisters aren't looking forward to any of it :)  They haven't missed the chickens at all . . .oh well.    

I read Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson a few weeks ago.  It is a sequel to Hattie Big Sky which Ben read to the kids a few years ago.  Both are very, very good.  Hattie is an orphan who finds out her recently deceased uncle, which she didn't know, left her a big homestead in the Montana prairie in 1918.  If Hattie can keep it up and take care of the land, farm it, and make payments then she can keep it.  Her adventures continue in Hattie Ever After. I love books with strong, intelligent, hardworking female characters, and these deliver.  The whole family enjoyed the first one, and they are looking forward to reading the sequel which I really enjoyed.  

Have a great weekend and see you Monday!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What's up Wednesday--triple chocolate bundt cake

I very freely and wholeheartedly admit I love desserts.  Always have.  Always will.  Life it too short not to have them every once in a while.  I will also admit that cake is not one of the first things that comes to mind when I try to decide what to make for dessert.  Cookies and bar cookies/brownies are probably my first love, but every once in a while I need to make something different.  When I do make a cake, this triple chocolate bundt cake is the one I usually choose--easy, moist, chocolate--need I say more?  It is even better because the base is just a chocolate cake mix---use German chocolate, Devil's food, milk chocolate, whatever chocolate cake mix you have on hand.  I have used them all, and they are all good.  I sprinkled this one with powdered sugar just to make it prettier because we had company, but plain is fine.  I have never put a glaze or frosting on this.  It doesn't need it.  
Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake

1 chocolate cake mix--any kind, milk, dark, Devil's food, German, whatever you have
1 small package instant chocolate pudding mix--again any kind, dark, milk, etc
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream--I have used low fat, but fat free doesn't seem to work as well
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Mix everything together except chocolate chips in a mixing bowl.  Beat for 3 minutes--it will be thick.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Spread in a well greased Bundt pan and bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from middle.  Allow to cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing and then cool completely.  Enjoy!  A scoop of vanilla ice cream with this is just heaven!

Monday, February 24, 2014

2014 Blue Jeans Week 8

We had a good week.  It started off fun with our traditional Valentine's dinner at my parents.  The weather warmed up and after ice and snow, the kids got to play outside without even jackets on.  They loved that.  Had some fun band stuff, and then got some images of things around the house.  Things I want to remember.  Here is a look at our week. . .
Our family Valentine's dinner tradition goes back to my great-Grandma.  We are celebrating it with the 5th generation now.  Normally we try to have this dinner on Valentine's Day, but it didn't work in everyone's schedules, so we had it Sunday.  We have a fancy dinner, and there is a big box in the middle with wrapped gifts inside--just simple little gifts--a puzzle or book or candy.  Each gift has a long ribbon attached to it that goes to each place setting.  Everyone has a specific place to sit, and then when you have eaten all your dinner, you can pull your ribbon and get your prize.  When my grandma was a girl they always ate on their best china and had to dress up.  We have dropped that part of the tradition :) but my mom always decorates so nice, and it is very fancy.  We had extra guests with us this year.  Always fun to share the tradition!

The snow and ice melted and the sun came out and warmed everything today so the kids went out on the trampoline to play and enjoy the weather while it lasts.

Big basketball pep band night at the ballgame.  Miss O is up there playing a mellophone.  They sounded awesome!!

After school today we went to the park for a while to enjoy the nice weather with some friends.  It was a stark contract to last week when we went to this same park to sled down the hill on the snow!  Oh what a difference a week makes!

Mr J is working on a heritage badge for cub scouts.  He made this poster that shows his family tree and some flags from some countries where some of his ancestors come from.  He has had fun working on it and learning about his heritage.

This beautiful flower arrangement is what I got for Valentine's day.  I love getting flowers, and getting flowers that will last and I can plant outside to last even longer is the best!

An image from one of our kitchen walls.  I want to remember this because 
1) I made these little month quilts (the heart one here for February) right after my 16 year old Miss A was born.  I change them out each month 
 2) because we always want to remember that "Families are Forever"
3) that little green bottle and what's inside
Here is a closer look.  Mr J made me this button bouquet for mother's day several years ago.  I love it.  He went to a lot of work, and I want to remember it.  Taking pictures of the things around you are as important as taking pictures of the people.  Things don't last forever, and we probably won't be in this house forever, so I want to get images of the things we love in our house that have meaning to us.

Thanks for visiting!  Have a great week!

I am linking up with The Mom Creative

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Thoughts

Some random Friday thoughts. . .
This was my bathroom mirror quote this week.  Love it!

And oh what a difference a week makes--this is last Wednesday after school at this park

This is this Wednesday after school at the park. Crazy weather!

I have been reading this book for the last few weeks.  Finished it last night.  I loved it.  I do believe Brokaw was correct in calling the WWII generation The Greatest Generation.  They went through so much--The Great Depression, WWII, and then all that came after.  We have so much to learn from them, and all we have now is because of what they did.  What a blessing.  Reading it did make me sad because it reminded me of my grandpa--Grum who wasn't old enough to get into the war until after Germany had surrendered.  He was in Germany after to help rebuild, during the Nuremberg trials, and during the Berlin airlifts.  He passed away last year, and I never really got to talk to him about it.  Reading this made me sad I couldn't call him up and ask him about it.  Thankfully he wrote his life's history and had it published so I have a copy.  What a huge blessing!!!  Miss A is currently learning about WWII in her high school history class and had to do a paper about "My family in WWII."  She used Grum's book.   Thank you Grum for leaving us that!

Thank you Grum for all you did for us!  Sure miss you and love you!  You were definitely one of the Greatest Generation!!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What's up Wednesday--cheerios treat

 This little treat has been a family favorite since 2004 when Miss O had them as a preschool treat.  My dear friend Angie made them, and Miss O loved them!  I got the recipe and the rest is history.  They are usually requested by Mr J when he is in charge of treats for our weekly family night.  They are super easy to make and extra yummy.  Kind of like a rice krispie treat but with peanut butter and cheerios instead.  Okay, not really like a rice krispie treat at all, but really good just the same!!!

Cheerios Treats

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups peanut butter, you can use either creamy or crunchy
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup light corn syrup
3/4 tsp vanilla
4 cups Cheerios

Heat sugar and syrup in pan until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat; blend in peanut butter.  Add vanilla and salt.  Fold in cereal.  Grease a 9x13 pan and press into pan.  Cool and cut into bars, or just start eating it as soon as you put it into the pan like we do so half the pan is eaten before it is cooled and cut into bars :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

2014 Blue Jeans Week 7

We had a nice week.  Busy first few days with parent teacher conferences, then the kids had off Thursday and Friday.  Ben took off also so we could all take off for a fun weekend in the city.  Here is a look at our week. . .
Sunday afternoon--everyone was busy making their Valentine's for the week.  Love all the creativity going on around here!
Our house in winter.  I try and remember to get a picture of it in each of the seasons.  

Our Valentine's Day sugar cooking baking extravaganza for school parties, work, friends, and just to eat.  Recipe in the previous post.  Yum!  It wouldn't be Valentine's at our house without sugar cookies!

Finally got in a little bit of sledding--or tried to anyway.  Mr J didn't quite make it down on this run :)

The kids exploring the park in the winter--the little stream is a lot more fun when it is frozen.  Who doesn't love to walk on ice and make snow angels?  

 We went up to the city Thursday for a belated 16th birthday celebration for Miss A.  We went out to dinner, went swimming in the hotel pool and enjoyed watching the Olympics that night.  

The next day we did some shopping and went ice skating to celebrate Valentine's Day.  It was cold!  But we had a lot of fun!!!

Thanks for visiting!  Come back soon!

I am linking up with The Mom Creative.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What's up Wednesday--sugar cookies

I have made a lot of sugar cookies in my time.  Valentine's Day is the ultimate sugar cookie holiday for us.  I normally don't make sugar cookies at Christmas, but they are a necessity on Valentine's Day.
Here is the batch I made yesterday for school parties, Ben to take to work, the girls to give to friends, and for us to just eat.  Yum!  These are good to eat plain.  I put the unfrosted leftovers in my freezer, and they disappear very quickly.  
But frosted they are absolutely divine!  This dough is pretty dry and stiff which is a good thing because it allows you to not have to refrigerate the dough before you roll it like many sugar cookies recipes.  That is one reason I love this recipe--you can make it and cut it right after--no waiting.  Because sugar cookies honestly take enough time without refrigerating the dough to get it hard enough to roll and cut.  That being said, you need a stand mixer to make these and be sure and mix them long enough that the dough comes together into a big dough ball.  My daughter was making these and called to me, "something is wrong!"  The dough was all crumbly in the mixer.  I told her she just hadn't mixed it enough.  She turned the mixer back on and in a few more minutes is was perfect.  The cookie recipe is my mom's from when I was growing up.  The frosting recipe is supposedly from the New York Magnolia Bakery, but I can't verify that.  I can verify it is very good.  The key to it is beating it a long time after each addition of powdered sugar.  With both of these recipes, you can easily double them.  The top picture of cookies is 2 recipes of  sugar cookies, and I doubled the frosting to frost all of them.  Happy Sugar Cookies!  Enjoy!

Perfect Sugar Cookies (*makes 24-30 cookies depending upon your cookie cutter size)

1 cup butter, soft
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
4 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
4 tsp baking powder

Preheat over to 375.  In a stand mixer cream the butter and sugar together.  Add egg and mix well.  Add all other ingredients and mix until forms a stiff dough ball.  Roll out on floured surface to 1/4 inch thick--these are best rolled thick!  Then place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 5-6 minutes.  Do not over bake.  These are much better underdone than overdone.  Cool before frosting.

Best Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup butter, soft
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Beat butter until smooth.  Add 2 cups powdered sugar and mix--this will be dry and crumbly, then add milk and vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy.  Add in 1 cup of additional powdered sugar at a time beating really well after each cup until it is thick enough to frost. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

2014 Blue Jeans Week 6

It was a pretty slow week because of snow and sickness.  Those would not have been my first choices of ways to slow down, but they do work.  Tuesday morning at 5 a.m. we got a call school was canceled because of snow.  When I woke up later Tuesday morning I had a sore throat that turned into some yuck that knocked me out for a week.  I left the house 2 times from Tuesday to Sunday last week.  Once to take the kids to school Thursday because they started 2 hours later and once Friday to see the doctor and get something to finally get better today.  Yeah!  So here is a look at our slow week :)
Family night.  We have a religious lesson, sing songs, play a game, eat treats.  Mr J was in charge of games and he picked Twister.  We actually got this game as a wedding gift over 18 years ago.  Still in good shape and pretty fun after all those years :) 

Miss A was in charge of a service project at school the beginning of the week.  They were doing bingo as a fundraiser for a charity.  She did a great job!  They raised quite a bit of money, and she had fun calling out the bingo numbers.

Tuesday.  This was why school was canceled, but Miss E and Mr J had fun trying to make a snow fort in the blizzard.

Wednesday--school canceled again because of snow, cold, wind and drifts.  The kids went out in it for a minute, but it was a little too cold for them.

Mr J and his after school snack and reading time.  Jelly beans make the perfect reading snack!

With the cold and snow we have enjoyed the time to stay home and watch the Olympics this weekend!

And then we got our family Valentine's box done beginning of the month but didn't get a picture yet.

This is an important tradition at our house.  Every beginning of February we decorate a family Valentine's box.  We put valentines in it just for our family.  On Valentines' day we open it and pass out the home made Valentines we all did for each other.  It is a fun tradition that they kids love.  

Thanks for visiting!  Hope you have a great week!  Wednesday I will be sharing our favorite sugar cookie and frosting recipe which we have made lots lately for Valentine's Day.  Hope to see you back!

I am linking up with The Mom Creative.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday thoughts

What a week.  It didn't go as I had planned, but that really isn't unusual :)
This was my bathroom mirror inspiring quote this week.  Love it.   

And this is what was going on outside this week.  

And this is what was going on inside.  Tuesday morning at 5 a.m. we got a call that school was canceled.  Tuesday afternoon I was out for the count.  I had the flu, and I did get a flu shot in November.  I was so sick.  This trend continued to Wednesday--no school, me sick, and also onto Thursday--school started 2 hours late and I was still sick.  So while my kids were doing things--like trying to make a snow fort in a blizzard and taking pictures of their sick mom on the couch--I was totally out of it.  Good thing my kids are older and can take care of themselves for a few days.  Don't they know mom's aren't supposed to get sick??  Come on!  Especially not on snow days when school is canceled!  Geez!

But on a happier note, I did read this book this past week.  Brandon Sanderson is probably one of my favorite authors now.  I read his Steelheart book a few weeks ago and loved it.  I didn't think I would like this one or 'get it' at first, but I really enjoyed it.  It is a book that really makes you think.  Sanderson is an extremely talented writer.  If you haven't ever read anything by him, I would highly suggest starting with his book Elantris.  That is one of my all-time favorites.  

Have a good weekend and stay warm and healthy!  We are going to try and do that here too!!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What's up Wednesday--hello snow and calico beans edition

Hello snow!  We are on our 2nd no school day because of snow here.  So because it is really cold outside, you need something yummy and warm inside, so may I suggest . . .

Calico beans?  They are yummy!  It is a really thick, sweet chili.  You can make it in the crock pot or on the stove.  It basically just has to warm up to be ready to eat, but cooking on low for a while really makes the flavors blend well.  I always double the below recipe for our family because we love this and love having the leftovers!  Enjoy and hope you are keeping warm in your neck of the woods!
Calico Beans

1 lb hamburger
8 slices of bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
Cook the above together in a large frying pan then drain and set aside.

In a crock pot or large pan stir together--
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 can pork and beans--do not drain
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can butter beans, drained

Mix both the meat and bean mixture together and keep on low until ready to serve or warm on stove until ready to serve.  I let it set on low for several hours.  Enjoy!

Monday, February 3, 2014

2014 Blue Jeans Week 5

 What a week, what a week.  Had lots of fun playing games with family and friends.  Had our state's birthday party and a flashback.  Mr J won the pinewood derby!!! Woohoo!  And we had a big ice storm for the weekend that canceled all activities and church, so we didn't leave the house for 2 days, and sometimes that is nice! Here is a look at our week. . . 
One of Ben's many talents--he can juggle.  He had to learn for a class in college.  I remember him trying to learn and dropping things all.the.time.  The kids were impressed with his skill.  

Played Settlers of Catan for family night.  That is a favorite game of ours.  

Then I got together with some girlfriends to teach them how to play Settlers of Catan.  Sharing the love.

Flashback moment---We always celebrate our state's birthday.  We have a state themed dinner and always a sunflower cake for dessert.  This picture is our first celebration with a sunflower cake from 2005.  Man how these kids have grown!  Mr J wasn't even born yet.  Below is this year's celebration.  We had the missionaries over for dinner that night too.  Miss E was going for the tough girl look :)

Pinewood Derby and Mr J's car won!  It was fast--super fast--like one second faster than the next guy fast.  He was excited!

Had a fun family dinner and game night at the school.  I enjoyed it with Mr J and his friend.  

Love this shot of Mr J running to the car after school.  He is excited to be done for the weekend!

And this was what our weekend was like--ice covered and cold.  No one goes anywhere when everything is covered like this--especially the roads.  It was a nice quiet weekend to stay home and warm by the fire!

Thanks for visiting!  Have a great week!  I am linking up with The Mom Creative.

Come back soon!  I post Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays.