Thursday, April 30, 2009

Scrabble Tile Pendants

Look at these oh so cute pendants made from Scrabble tiles at Home Studio's etsy shop. They have so many gorgeous ones and they are only $7.95 each, with even better deals with sets.

And this one in time for Mother's Day

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mini Chocolate Cherry Tarts

This recipe came with the heart-shaped mini muffin pan when I bought it years ago and I have loved it since my first try. I also use it in my regular mini-muffin pan, as you can see below. I sometimes add almond extract instead of vanilla. For some reason, I always need to add more water to my dough, but be careful not to add too much extra. I made these yesterday afternoon and they were gone by night. And I only ate 2 of them so don't blame me! Hehe
Mini Chocolate Cherry Tarts
Pastry Crust:
1 1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa
1/2 c. butter or margarine
2 T. water

Cream Cheese Mixture
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar and cocoa. Cut in margarine or butter until pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle with water, tossing until moistened. Form into 1 in. diameter log. Divide pastry into 30 balls. Place in ungreased mini-muffin pan; press dough evenly, using tart tamper.
In new bowl, beat cream cheese until light and creamy, gradually add sugar, mix well. Add egg and vanilla and mix well.

Top unbaked tarts with cream cheese mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until done. Remove from pans; cool completely. Top each with teaspoon of cherry pie filling.

Makes 2 1/2 dozen.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Funny Kids and Strange Traditions III

I haven’t done one of these posts in a long time so I have more fun to share.

Alex had read a short story for an English assignment and I was asking him questions about the story to prep him for a test. When I asked something about the Iditarod (the big dog sled race), he said, “That’s how you say it? The whole time I was reading it, I was thinking it was ‘Idiot-rod’.”

When Alex was about 5 years old and Elisa was 3, I asked them both to draw pictures of things that scared them. Elisa was having night terrors almost every night and I was trying to get to the bottom of it. Elisa’s drawings weren’t very helpful, but I learned something about Alex that I didn’t know. Along with spiders and snakes, he drew Lamanites. Too bad I don’t still have that picture.

We were at the bank’s outside teller window about a month ago waiting in line. Alex saw someone standing in line behind one of the cars and said, “There’s a pedestrian in line over here.” Elisa looked and said, “She’s not that old.” It turns out she thought a pedestrian was an elderly person. So we joked about her thinking that pedestrian crossing meant old people crossing.

Then the other day for some reason Alex sarcastically said “Freak of nature” to Sabrina (nice brotherly love) and Elisa said, “No, you have nature. Whatever that means.” She thought Alex had said “Freak, have nature.” So now when Elisa does something silly Alex says, “Have nature!”

Sabrina loves to write books and is currently working on “Little Pig, Big Pie”. (Being the completely biased mom that I am, I think she writes the BEST books.) She wrote that the pie was a “Blewberry, Blackberry, Raspberry, Hallyberry, Strawberry Pie.” I asked her if she knew what Halle Berry meant. She said, “No, but I heard it on TV.” She was embarrassed when I told her she is an actress.

One of our strange traditions is that when we drive under a specific bridge (Sabrina’s favorite bridge) on the freeway, we all yell or make a silly noise. If we forget because we’re talking or I’m thinking of something while I’m driving, Sabrina gets upset that she did it alone.

Along with that, while I was growing up every time we’d pass through a tunnel, we would try to yell and hold it for as long as the tunnel lasted. Robin started a similar thing with the kids that we yell, “Geronimo” and hold the “oooooooo”.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pot Roast Penne

I have made this with leftover roast, but this time I made the roast especially for this dish. I just cooked it in the slow cooker with some tomato soup, water, garlic powder and basil for several hours. Then I cut it up to use in the recipe. I used the new mini penne from Barilla and I prefer it to the larger pasta in this dish. My brother-in-law's brother Mike was staying with us this weekend and helped me cook so this went together pretty fast.
Pot Roast Penne

1 tsp. salt
1 pound penne pasta
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp. herb-flavored mustard such as rosemary or tarragon
1 cup beef broth
1 cup leftover beef gravy
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 cups cooked, shredded beef pot roast
1 cup cooked vegetables such as carrots or peas
Grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Bring a large saucepan of water and 1/2 tsp. of the salt to a boil over high heat. Add pasta. Cook until tender, but still firm to bite. Drain. Meanwhile, heat olive oil over high heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and onion. Reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring until onion softens, about 3 minutes. Whisk in mustard until smooth. Add broth. Cook, stirring often until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in beef gravy, remaining salt and pepper. Cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Stir in beef, heat through, about 2 minutes. Stir in vegetables. Heat through, about 1 minute. Return pasta to large saucepan. Pour in beef mixture. Toss to coat. Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Peanut Butter-Finger Mini Cheesecakes

When I saw these on Picky Palate, I knew I had to try it. I love my mini cheesecake pan with removeable bottoms for easy release, but I only have a couple of recipes for it. I love peanut butter pie and was expecting a similar taste, but this has its own unique taste. They are so pretty and would like beautiful on any dessert tray. I don’t know if my pan is a smaller size than Jenny’s or if she made two pans full (she never stated the yield), but the recipe made way too much crust and chocolate topping for my 12 cheesecakes. Next time I’ll half both of those. Aren’t they pretty? Peanut Butter-Finger Mini Cheesecakes
1 c. ground Vanilla Wafers
2 T. sugar
2 T. butter
1/8 t. salt
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1 egg
2 T. heavy cream
1/8 t. salt
4 Fun Size Butterfinger Candy Bars, crushed
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
2-3 T. heavy cream
2 Fun Size Butterfinger, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place cookie crumbs, sugar, butter and salt into a bowl; mix to combine. Spoon mixture into bottoms of mini cheese cake pan or mini cupcake pan and press.

Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven.Reduce heat to 300 degrees F. In a stand or electric mixer, beat cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth. Beat in egg, cream and salt until well combined. Slowly stir in crushed peanut butter. Evenly pour batter over baked crust. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until cheesecake is set. Let cool for 2 hours, then remove from pan.

Melt chocolate chips in microwave in 30 second intervals until smooth. Stir in cream until smooth and glossy. If needed, return back to microwave for 15 seconds or so until smooth. Spoon over tops of cakes then sprinkle crushed butterfinger over top.

Friday, April 24, 2009

David Garibaldi

I don't have an artistic bone in my body, but I do appreciate good art. I sure wish that my fingerpainting looked like something at the end instead of just spilled paint. David Garibaldi is pretty good and I can't stop listening to that song. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Memory of President Hinckley

Do you remember where you were when you heard that President Hinckley had passed on to the next life? I was in choir practice at church. We had just finished practicing President Hinckley’s song My Redeemer Lives for a stake conference performance. My sister Heather texted me right after the closing prayer as we were putting up chairs to ask if I had heard the news yet. He was at the age that everyone knew it wouldn’t be long in spite of his energy and vigor, but it still came as very sad news. My eyes filled with tears and I couldn’t even speak. I handed the phone to my husband so he could read it. Since he’s the Bishop, he asked everyone to be quiet and told them the news. Many people started crying. We then had a prayer to thank Heavenly Father for the long time we all had with our dear prophet and for a new prophet on the earth. We went home and told our children. Elisa took it the hardest, lying on the couch crying for a couple of hours.

The next day, I asked them to draw a picture of President Hinckley while they remember him so well. The other day I came across Alex’s drawing. I don’t know why the girls’ drawings weren’t with it. Hopefully I’ll find them soon too. This is Alex’s drawing, which I think gives a unique perspective and one that helps us see him even without his face.

Sliced Mushrooms with Melted Mozzarella and Thyme

I am always looking for new side dishes to add variety to our meals. I found this one and it is so simple. I used shredded mozzarella because that's what I had. I tossed the mushrooms with olive oil and a little bit of bread crumbs before putting them in the pan. Then after it was done, I mixed the mushrooms up so you can't see much cheese in the photo. I did leave it broiling a bit too long, as you can see on the cheese. It's great to have a recipe that is so quick.Sliced Mushrooms with Melted Mozzarella and Thyme

A couple big handfuls of very thinly sliced Mushrooms
2 5-oz balls of mozzarella, torn into small pieces
A sprig of fresh thyme, leaves picked
Sea salt and freshly ground
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
On an ovenproof platter, spread the mushrooms in a one layer. Scatter the cheese over the top, followed by the thyme leaves. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and place under the broiler.Broil for a few minutes, checking frequently. It is ready when the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

When My Mind Wanders

Last week on my way to Idaho and then on my way home, I had a lot of time to just think. The kids were in the back either watching movies or playing on their electronic games and I was alone with my thoughts in the front. You’d think that with as many hours as I had to think that I would have come up with a great, new invention or a solution for my husband’s business or, at the very least, I would have decided on a wall color for my bedroom. But instead my mind wandered to a very unusual topic. Prison.

I don’t know anyone in prison and I think I’ve only rarely even given any thought to prisoners. But a few of things have happened recently to turn my thoughts to this topic. Just a couple of weeks ago, I received an email from a fellow alumnus from my high school. I didn’t know, but he sent a group email to all of us who were signed up at the high school site for our graduating year. He was asking for support from anyone who would write a letter to the governor to petition for a pardon. Soon after graduating high school, he was convicted for passing bad checks and forgery. Since his release, he has earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree and is working on his doctorate and has, by all accounts, “stayed out of trouble”. I immediately wondered what I would hope for if that was me or my child. It’s very true that our actions have consequences that last much longer than our short-sighted view sometimes is.

Also, two times in different places, I have heard someone say a prayer and bless the prisoners. Not any specific prisoners, just prisoners, like we pray for the sick or those ready to hear the message of the Lord. I have never thought to pray for them before that first time. If you think about it, they do really need our prayers. I learned from the example of these two people.

The third reason I started thinking about prison was my visit to the Old Idaho Penitentiary in Boise. We watched a short video and then toured the grounds and buildings. There was a sign there that said that there was a 10-year old and an 11-year old that served time there, along with the many adult prisoners. I thought of my children and couldn’t even imagine that life for them. I wonder what happened to those poor children.

I had been thinking so much about prisoners after the tour that I looked up prisoner on, interested in finding what others have said in talks or in Ensign articles about prisoners, but I didn’t really expect to find much. I really haven’t heard much taught in church about the topic. In my recent search, I did find a few articles. I learned that the former apostle Elder Ashton used to direct the Unified Social Service system, which included detained youth and prisoners. They started family home evening groups, aided in rehabilitation programs in prison and after their release. President Kimball even went to the prison and met with a couple of prisoners if you’d like to read about it here. One prisoner was serving time for burglary and the other manslaughter. President Kimball had a picture taken with both of them and then said, “It is an honor for me to have my picture taken with you.” I don’t know what I would have said, but I’m sure that wouldn’t have even entered my mind.

As I was reading the articles I found, I read this scripture mentioned Matt. 25:36. Immediately I stopped. Does it really say that? Well, you probably know it does, but I pulled my scriptures out. I had even highlighted it long ago. I remembered the hungry and naked parts, but I didn’t remember “I was in prison.”

As I was thinking about why that part may be a bit harder to obey, I thought that it was easy to think of Jesus hungry or in need of clothes or shelter, but he would never do anything that these people did to end up in prison. And yet, Jesus did end up in prison. Then I read Don L. Searle’s article “In Prison, and Ye Came unto Me”. There were two quotes that really impacted me.

“Once, Bishop Enniss felt reluctant to deal with an inmate whose crimes were especially repugnant. The strong impression came to him, in the words above, that the Lord loved the inmate as a son and wanted someone to help him return home. Bishop Enniss remembers another time when he felt ‘I don’t have a blessing for that man.’ Then the words came to his mind: ‘They’re not your blessings, they’re mine,’ and the Lord pronounced a blessing, through the bishop.”

And this one: “He is one of my sons, and I want him back. If you won’t work with him, I’ll find someone who will.”
They helped me see how much our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love each one of us, not just those of us trying to be good, not just those of us who are struggling day to day and may have forgotten Them, but each and every one of us. Heavenly Father knows them by name as well. I am not saying that I am ready to go visit random prisoners, but I have started praying for them and I feel a compassion for them that I never have. I do feel that they should pay the consequences for their actions, but that I am not their judge here or in the eternities. Only Heavenly Father knows all of their circumstances (mental, family, etc.) and only He knows their hearts and if they would be willing to change if given the chance. I also want to donate some good books to a prison so that possibly one person can have the chance to feel our Heavenly Father’s love for them and will want to change because of that new knowledge.

I don’t know if the man I spoke of earlier who sent the email and is hoping for a pardon will get it, but I now look at him and am grateful for his example. I don’t know his childhood circumstances. I don’t know what happened to him in prison, but I can’t imagine that it is easy to rise above all the negativism and anger that must exist there. He shows me that people really can change and it isn’t just a great story like in Les Miserables.

I also thought of an analogy while I was at the prison. Because of their bad choices, the prisoners have many limitations put on them, like where they can be at any given time and how much light is coming in. Jesus is our light. He gives us comfort and intelligence and helps us to see with an eternal perspective. When we make bad choices, we are not worthy of as much of His light. Our choices in life are limited in many cases. For the prisoners in the general prison, they have 3 solid walls, but one door has bars so light from the windows can shine in. However, that light is limited. The sun still shines brightly outside whether or not they can see it. (Cool how the sun and the Son sound the same in English.) They can see some of the light, but they cannot go out and bask in it whenever they choose. I know that in my life, when I make a choice that I know is wrong, I can feel a difference in how close I am to my Savior.
The prisoners in solitary confinement at this prison have 3 solid walls and a solid door with just a small hatch that the guards choose to open or close for food. Besides that small hatch the only other light there comes in through a very small air hole in the ceiling. Because of their worse choices, their light and movement are even more limited. The more bad choices we make, the further from the light of Christ we move ourselves.
I also think it’s interesting how the 3 degrees of glory are described in terms of light. Those inhabitants of the “solitary confinement” of the telestial kingdom will not get as much light as those in the terrestrial and neither as much as those allowed to bask in the light of the celestial kingdom.

This is my final quote from “I Was in Prison, and Ye Came Unto Me” by Victor L. Brown

"Certainly these young men were faced with serious problems. Yes, they had lost their physical freedom by being confined in jail, but this was not the basic problem. Even more serious was the lack of purpose in their lives. They had no place to go. They were lost. Life had no meaning. They had no idea why they were here on earth or where they were going.

“Release from the prison would not begin to solve their most urgent problems; and yet, in the environment of prison, they found the release that could ultimately make them truly free men. They found their Savior, Jesus Christ, and his gospel.”

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Nice End to My Busy Day

My schedule is so crazy this week and next week that I have had to make choices about what I can do and what I need to give up in order to do something else. Tonight Elisa and Alex both had meetings at church while Robin, Sabrina and I went to a young man’s (now a missionary) setting apart because he’s going into the MTC tomorrow. Then I had to run to pick up Alex and Elisa and drop the 3 kids off at home so I could go to another meeting. It was the stake presidency’s meeting with the Bishops’ wives. I don’t know if all stakes do this, but ours does it every year. My stake presidency is so awesome that I hate to miss an opportunity to hear from them. Tonight was especially special because we all talked about our feelings for the Savior. Even the guys were in tears. They always give us a magnificent book and this year was no exception. I am so excited to have this book-- Awake, Arise, and Come Unto Christ: Talks from the 2008 BYU Women's Conference-- and get to read it!! I heard a few of them at Women’s Conference and on the computer since then, but it’s great to have all of them that are here together. A great treat for me. I’m sure I’ll be sharing things I read here on my blog with all of you.

Need Some Fun in Your Kitchen?

Here are a few funny Lego products I found. I won't be getting any of them, but maybe you are more fun than I am and you will!
Lego Utensils
Lego Egg Timer
Lego Salt & Pepper Shakers

Okay, this isn't a kitchen item, but it's Lego. Zip Zip Memory Brick

Or you could try making your own Lego USB memory stick here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Just a Silly Way to Use Peeps

I know it's after Easter, but I just found this blog today with Book of Mormon stories acted out by Easter Peeps. Peeps of Mormon This is Nephi beheading Laban. They aren't all so violent. :)

Spring Break in Boise

Last week was spring break here so I took the kids up to Boise to visit my sister Tiffany and her husband Adam before they move back to Georgia. Robin was busy with work and church so he stayed home. It was snowing pretty hard on our way up, but it got warm enough that we didn’t need our jackets while we were there. Tiffany and Adam had to work during the day, so we went out and explored. We went to the mall, the children’s museum (again—we went last time we visited Tiffany & Adam), the old penitentiary (more about that in another post), and Julia Davis Park on the different days we were there. Then Tiffany was done with work earlier than Adam so we’d go exploring with her until he was done.

At the museum---The kids favorite exhibit is a shadow box that captures your silhouette image on a wall with special material. They love running and jumping and making crazy images on the wall. We also played with the air tube.
It's not quite as fun with short hair.
That is sooo not cute!Before & After
We went to Snake River Gorge with Tiffany and went climbing on rocks. Elisa had a hard time getting up this slope and I didn’t realize until after I took the photo, that she had started crying. Then after she stood up, a rock came rolling down from where Alex and Sabrina stood and Elisa just watched it as it rolled toward her and then hit her ankle pretty hard. We also were climbing up these bigger rocks looking for this mysterious animal making strange, loud calls. I finally got close enough to take a few photos. Tiffany says it’s a gopher. I had no idea what it was.

After Adam was done with work we all went to eat pizza and then to an arcade.
Tiffany even got Adam onto a roller coaster...sort of.
Sabrina wanted to ride this roller coaster simulator last time we came, but I wasn’t sure that she’d really like it. This time she got her chance. She went up with Tiffany. It actually goes up and around and upside down. We could hear her laughing the whole time and Tiffany said she was putting her hands up and loving it. She even went on it again with Alex. I finally have a roller coaster buddy and she’s too short for the real ones! Some day soon. Alex seems to like them more now so maybe I can go with him.
The most suspenseful part of the games came at the very end. We had just enough money on the arcade card for 4 games. Sabrina had wanted to do the grabber game to try and get a mini Kit Kat bar, her favorite candy. I finally let her try. It gives you three grabs. She didn’t get it with any of her three. Then Elisa tried and got one candy. Then Alex tried and got a Butterfinger and an Almond Joy. We had enough for one more turn so Sabrina was up again. She finally got her Kit Kat and was so excited. Over a tiny Kit Kat bar which cost more for the two tries than it would have if I bought her a bag of them. Funny girl. I was too into the suspense so I forgot to take photos of that part.

Then we quickly rushed over to the Cheesecake Factory for dessert right before midnight. We had a big helping of sugar right before bed. Yum!!!
While we were there the kids made friends with Tiffany & Adam's 3 dogs. Before they would jump onto the couch every time the dogs came into the room.

The next day, we went with Tiffany to Celebration Park to look for some petroglyphs, but this one below is the only one we found. We didn’t get to stay long since Alex didn’t feel well and wasn’t up to walking around much. He had to keep sitting down for a rest so we left.
We met Adam to get some frozen yogurt right before we left for home. We had a very good trip and I wouldn’t mind going back to visit Boise again someday. Of course, without Tiffany and Adam there, I’m not sure when we will go back.
Tiffany & Adam with Elisa, Sabrina and Alex. Look at those 2 boys! Happy aren't they?

Blueberry Cheesecake Crumb Cake

Bursting blueberries in every bite! I made this coffee cake that I found on  Oh My Goodness Chocolate Desserts  (even though it's not a ...