Friday, July 31, 2009

Dollar Store Crafts

I found a creative web site that has craft ideas that cost $10 or less, made using dollar store findings. I have found most to be very simple (even for me!) and there are many really cute projects. It's called Dollar Store Crafts. Makes sense, doesn't it? You gotta check it out. I have found some things that I'd love to do with my kids so they can give them away as gifts and some that I'd like to do myself. By the way, the site author's name is Heather Mann--the same as one of my sisters. Here are a few of the ideas they have. Above is a Hermes Birkin-like trashcycled purse.
There are several projects showing you how to make bags out of placemats or dishtowels.

This is one project that I thought would be fun for my girls to make for birthday gifts for their friends--a necklace holder.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Apples to Apples

I was reading the parable of the talents and was comforted to be reminded of a very important fact about our loving Heavenly Father.

In Matthew 25, it talks about how to he who was given five talents and brought five other talents, His lord said,
(v. 21) Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

To he who was given 2 only made another 2, but His lord said exactly the same.
(v. 23) Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

He said the exact same thing to both of them. He didn’t tell the second man that he didn’t do as well as the first or even give him less of a reward. He was only upset at the servant who did not try and did nothing. Even if that servant would have ended up with 2 talents, it seems his lord would have had the same response as the first two.

We humans seem to compare each other so often and expect that everyone should be at the exact same point at the end to gain our reward. We might see someone who seems so much better than us at something (or even many things) and it discourages us that we haven’t gained as many talents, making it hard to progress and see our worth. Or sometimes when we compare ourselves, we see that we have gained more talents than someone and feel proud of it, which can also slow our progress since we don’t see the need to improve.
Either way, we are comparing apples to oranges. We are comparing how we are doing with our unique set of talents, abilities, experiences and challenges with someone else who has their own completely different set of them. But Heavenly Father always compares apples to apples. He sees how far we have come and how hard we have to try to progress to a level which is so easy for someone else. How beautiful and reassuring to know that Heavenly Father can still accept and love us even when we don’t have the same number of talents as someone else. As long as we are progressing upward and not hiding our talents, we can know we are doing our part.

"There is a natural, probably a mortal, tendency to compare ourselves with others. Unfortunately, when we make these comparisons, we tend to compare our weakest attributes with someone else’s strongest."
Marvin J. Ashton, Ensign, May 1989, 20

"God knows you and what you can become because He has known you from the beginning when you were His spirit sons and daughters."
President James E. Faust, Ensign, Mar. 2001, 2

"One of the beautiful things to me in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that it brings us all to a common level. It is not necessary for a man to be a president of a stake, or a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, in order to attain a high place in the celestial kingdom. The humblest member of the Church, if he keeps the commandments of God, will attain an exaltation just as much as any other man in the celestial kingdom. The beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that it makes us all equal in as far as we keep the commandments of the Lord. In as far as we observe to keep the laws of the church we have equal opportunities for exaltation."
President George Albert Smith, "Sharing the Gospel With Others", p.113-114

And here is a sneak peek at what recipes will be coming soon so come back and check often!

Lucky Mint Cheesecake--Happy Cheesecake Day!

I was going to post something different today, but this morning I learned that it is National Cheesecake Day. I’m so lucky that I recently made a cheesecake and can post it today. But first, start listening to this crazy cheesecake song that I found a couple of weeks ago and keep going around my house singing.

My sister Sheri sent this recipe to me quite some time ago since she knows that I love chocolate and mint together. This isn’t as rich as many cheesecakes, but it’s still good, and it’s very easy. I scattered some Andes candies bits on top, but you could drizzle more chocolate if you like. I used fat-free sweetened condensed milk and low-fat cream cheese. Ready to munch on some cheesecake? Try this one or check out one of my old posts of a GREAT cheesecake HERE . Lucky Mint Cheesecake

1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 t. vanilla extract
1 (6-oz.) chocolate crumb pie crust
11 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 t. mint extract
Several drops green food coloring
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350ยบ. In small saucepan, melt chips with 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk. Stir in vanilla. Spread on bottom of pie crust.
With mixer, beat cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy; gradually beat in remaining sweetened condensed milk, mint extract, and green food coloring. Add egg; beat on low speed just until combined. Place pie crust on baking sheet; place on oven rack. Carefully pour mint mixture over chocolate layer in pie crust. Bake 25 minutes or until center is nearly set. Cool. Chill at least 3 hours. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Can You Imagine?

This song has been going through my head for days, so I thought I'd share it here so it can go through yours too.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Beach Street Lemon Chicken Linguini

Wow! Two nights of new winning recipes! We really loved this one. Robin, my VERY picky husband went on and on raving about this one. I had never used Cajun seasoning and was hesitant to since my children don't like spice. But I used the 1 1/2 teaspoons like it Melanie suggests at My Kitchen Cafe. (She found the recipe on another great blog Deals to Meals.) It wasn't too spicy for any of the kids so next time I'll add a bit more Cajun seasoning---and there will be LOTS of next times! It is so full of flavor. Wish I could share it with all of you. You have to marinate the chicken so make sure to start early enough in the day.
Beach Street Lemon Chicken Linguini
1 lb. linguini
2 T. olive oil
Zest from one lemon
Juice from one lemon
3 green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
¼ c. chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

½ c. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 T. Cajun seasoning (cut this down to 1 1/2 teaspoons if you want less heat but don't omit entirely or you will lose great flavor)
Juice of one lemon
2 T. minced fresh parsley
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. soy sauce
2 chicken breasts, sliced

Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk lightly before pouring into a plastic bag. Pat chicken dry and toss in marinade to coat. Refrigerate 3-12 hours.

When ready to cook, preheat skillet over medium heat and pour contents of plastic bag (both marinade and chicken) into the skillet. Saute over medium-high heat until chicken is cooked. Combine juice of one lemon, lemon zest, olive oil, green onions and fresh parsley together in a small bowl. Set aside.

While the chicken is sauteing, cook linguini in boiling salted water until done; drain and return to warm pot. Pour lemon juice/olive oil/green onion mixture over pasta and mix lightly. When chicken is finished cooking, add hot pasta mixture to the skillet with the chicken and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and toss in parmesan cheese. Serve warm.

Cheesy Skillet Chicken with Pasta & Broccoli

We had this last night for the first time and I couldn't wait to share it with all of you. YUM!!! Thanks to Jonna for posting it on her blog Get Off Your Butt and Bake! I'm sure it won't be the last of the recipes I find on her blog that become a favorite at our house.

I used mini penne instead of ziti and I forgot to buy asiago cheese so I used the Parmesan that we had. My kids and husband don't like sun-dried tomatoes so I used chopped red pepper for the color and to add back another flavor.

Cheesy Skillet Chicken with Pasta & Broccoli

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch squares
Table salt and ground black pepper
3 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
8 oz. ziti
4 1/4 c. water
2 1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
4-5 c. broccoli florets (to taste)
1/2 c. oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and chopped coarse
3/4 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. grated Asiago cheese
1 1/2 T. fresh lemon juice

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add the chicken in a single layer and cook for 1 minute without stirring. Stir the chicken and continue to cook until most, but not all, of the pink color has disappeared and the chicken is lightly browned around the edges, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a clean bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, onion, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the skillet. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, 2 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.Add the pasta, 3 cups of the water, and the broth. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the liquid is very thick and syrupy and almost completely absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, and the remaining 1 1/4 cups water. Cover, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the broccoli turns bright green and is almost tender, 2-3 minutes.

Uncover and return the heat to medium-high. Stir in the cream, parmesan, and reserved chicken with any accumulated juices and continue to simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is cooked and heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, passing more grated parmesan at the table, if desired.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ritzy Misfit

Ritzy Misfit Giveaway!!

One of the many blogs that I like to visit is called The Coterie Blog. Heather features all kinds of fun and beautiful items. Before I even noticed that this post was a giveaway, I saw the photo of the necklace and thought, "I want one!!" So when I saw there was a chance I could actually win one, I jumped at the chance. Aren't they perfect? The Ritzy Misfit pendant was featured on Bachelorette, but I don't watch those silly shows so I've never seen them, but can you imagine having something you made on TV? Go enter the giveaway HERE or buy your own on Etsy!

Aunt Tiffany's Roast

My sister Tiffany was recetly talking about this great roast recipe she found and then posted the recipe on her BLOG . It sounded like a good Sunday dinner so we had it yesterday. It was delicious and we all agreed to put it in our file to have again--which doesn't happen often--with the name Aunt Tiffany's Roast. Unfortunately it looks a little boring alone, but it made an easy, yummy Sunday dinner with veggies and rice.
Aunt Tiffany's Roast
4 lb. beef roast
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 beef bouillon cube
1 bay leaf
4 peppercorns
1 t. rosemary
1 t. thyme
1 garlic clove, minced

Add roast to slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients. Set to low heat. Cook all day.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy Pioneer Day!

In May Sabrina and I went on a walk around the neighborhood down a street I had never gone down. I didn’t think anything was down there except empty lots, but we found a lot that was walled off and had rows of identical headstones with no names or dates. There was a big sign that said it was the Pioneer Heritage Cemetery. There was a plaque there also that said that pioneers were buried there between 1851 and 1866, but the cemetery was abandoned. The cemetery was sadly seemed ignored, but had an amazing view of the mountains and valley below. We went on a walk around there a few more times and noticed that the city was working on reviving the cemetery. Then I found out they were actually re-dedicating it as part of the city’s Pioneer day festivities.
Alex had young men’s activities at church so I took the girls to the re-dedication. It was hot and sunny, even at 7:00, but the ceremony was beautiful. We stood for the national anthem, played on the harp in a beautiful (but too long, according to Elisa) rendition.

Someone played hymns on her violin while girls dressed like pretty pioneer girls slowly walked through the cemetery, placing flowers at each grave while someone read the list of all the people buried there.
There were speakers and music and then they unveiled the statue that a father and son made especially for the cemetery. That is the father artist. The son is there, but out of the shot.
Thursday we went to the Pioneer Museum in town. During the re-dedication, the Daughters of Utah Pioneers (who played a big part in raising funds for the cemetery) mentioned that they had sold quilts and cookbooks to raise money. Cookbooks???!! I hadn’t heard about that. They mentioned that they sold out, but I went to the museum to see if there was any way they were going to re-print it. They are going to discuss it at their next meeting. They don’t have an official list of people who want to buy them, but after bugging them three times during my visit, they took my name and number and told me that they’d call me if they do re-print it. I hope so! They said there were pioneer recipes and recipes that many of the women collected from their grandparents.

We did take a tour of the museum while we were there. Here’s the city’s first fire truck.
Here is a collection of items from Wilford Woodruff's family.
There were so many photos of the city from its first days and of many people. One was of Hannah Last Cornaby.

"In February 1852, a young woman by the name of Hannah Last Cornaby was baptized in Yarmouth, England. It was not the quiet, reverent experience most have but was described by her in these words: "We found the house surrounded by a mob, through which we with difficulty made our way. . . . Before we reached the water's edge, the whole horde was upon us; and my husband baptized me amid a shower of stones, and shouts . . . and, although the stones whizzed around us thick as hail, not one touched us, and we reached home in safety, thanking God for our miraculous deliverance" (Hannah Cornaby, Autobiography and Poems [1881], 24–25).
Charles W. Dahlquist II, "Who's on the Lord's Side?", April 2007 General Conference

She wrote poetry and later moved to Utah. She wrote the hymn "Who's on the Lord's Side" #260.

She was buried here in our little town.

We also saw several of these hair wreaths--made with human hair. I'm sure my sisters knew about this, but it was new to me. Pioneers used hair saved from brushing and trims and stored them in a special dish until they were used. They were wrapped around a thin wire so they could be bent into shape. It was considered an elegant decoration to hang a framed hair wreath. Apparently this wasn’t only done by pioneers, but by many men and women during the Victorian era 1837–1901 in Europe and the US.

We went back to the cemetery to see relax and enjoy the view Then today, Pioneer Day (yes, it's an acutal holiday for those of you who aren't in Utah), we went to Provo to visit the pioneer park.

They even had a petting zoo.
We ended the day by going to the craft fair in town and then on a few rides at the fair. Not that pioneers went on rides like this, but that's part of the celebration every year. We're getting ready to see the city fireworks in a few hours too. We can see them through our bedroom window. What did you do on Pioneer day?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

You Must Study Shakespeare

Elisa often gets discouraged when we read scriptures because she doesn’t understand what it’s saying. She is young and even adults struggle at catching the meaning sometimes. So I’ve learned not to just read a verse and ask her, “What does that mean?”, but instead to break it down and ask easier questions that still make her think.

A few months ago we had read a few verses and then Alex said, “Okay, so it means…” And he was right. Then I added a few things that I wanted them to understand from the verses. Exasperated, Elisa said, “Do you two like study Shakespeare or something?” Alex and I burst out laughing while Sabrina kept saying, “What? What are you guys laughing about?” And luckily Elisa didn’t get her feelings hurt with us laughing at her because we couldn’t stop.

Now when Elisa explains something to us (scriptures, TV, whatever), I say, “You must study Shakespeare or something” and she laughs.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Crumb-Topped Banana Muffins

These muffins are moist and delicious with a great toppping. You can substitute oats for the nuts or just leave them out like I did. I've had several requests for this recipe when I've given them away. I think next time I'll add some mini chocolate chips to it.
Crumb-Topped Banana Muffins
1 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 t. vanilla
1/3 c. butter, melted
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 1/2 T. flour
1/8 t. cinnamon, to taste
1 T. cold butter
1/4 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°. Spray muffin pan. In large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. In separate bowl, mix bananas, sugar, egg, vanilla, and butter. Stir into dry mixture just until moistened. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.

Combine first 3 topping ingredients. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over muffins. Bake for about 20 minutes, until muffins test done. Cool in pan for 10 minutes.
Yield: 12 muffins

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pan de Yuca

A few months ago I checked out Ingrid Hoffman’s cookbook from the library and found this recipe that went into my to-try file. But I couldn’t try it right away since it called for tapioca flour and I couldn’t find it at any of the stores where I would look for it. I knew that Bob’s Red Mill must make it since they have such an amazing variety of different grains and similar foods. I went to their SITE and found it, but I wanted to find it here so I didn’t have to pay shipping. (Call me frugal, not cheap. Hehe) I finally went to a health food store here in town and found it! Then I had to find the Oaxaca cheese, which I found at Walmart. I was excited to finally make the rolls.

By the way, for those of you who don’t know, it’s called Yucca Buns because tapioca flour is made from the roots of yucca (also called cassava) plants. The flour is so fine and soft. And it is gluten-free so this is a nice alternative to those of you who avoid gluten for whatever reason.

You add the grated cheese to the dough and mix it in. The cheese melts in the mixture as you knead it so the rolls don’t have pieces of cheese. I was afraid that since it had baking powder instead of yeast, it would be heavy, but they are light and airy. There is no added butter or oil because the cheese and cream have fat. I think they look pretty. Unfortunately, Robin and the kids didn’t like them. I did though. I think they are different than normal rolls in a fun way and I really like how fast it is to mix it up. No waiting for rolls to rise before baking. We’ve had friends staying with us this past week and someone liked them since they all disappeared. YAY!
Pan de Yuca (Yucca Buns)

1 c. tapioca flour, plus extra for kneading
1 t. baking powder
2 c. Oaxaca cheese or other fresh white cheese, such as mozzarella, finely grated
2 large egg yolks
2 to 3 T. heavy cream, if necessary

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil, and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Combine the tapioca flour and baking powder together in a large bowl. Stir in the cheese and egg yolks. Mix until the dough forms a ball. Lightly flour a work surface and turn the dough out. Knead the dough with your hands until the dough is smooth, even-textured, and not sticky. If the dough doesn't come together or seems too stiff, then add cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it comes together and feels supple.
Divide the dough into 10 even pieces and with your hands, roll each into a ball. Shape the balls into ovals and place them 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the rolls are pale gold (not browned), about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes and serve while still warm.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

We Wrestle Not Against Flesh & Blood

If you’d like some music to go with this post, go HERE and find "The Whole Armor of God". Click
on MP3 and you can listen to it on your computer while you’re reading.
Ephesians 6:
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Called to Serve Don Christensen Oil on panel, 2002

“Examine your armor. Is there an unguarded or unprotected place? Determine now to add whatever part is missing. … Through the great principle of repentance you can turn your life about and begin now clothing yourself with the armor of God through study, prayer, and a determination to serve God and keep his commandments.”
President N. Eldon Tanner (1898–1982), First Counselor in the First Presidency, “Put on the Whole Armor of God,” Ensign, May 1979, 46.

“We face intimidation in many ways during our life. It may be the bully in the neighborhood as a child or the powerful corporation as we strive to make our way in the business world. It may be through peer pressure: to be popular is to go along with the crowd; to really show your love, you have to give your all; to be competitive, you have to take steroids. It may be our neighbor's money and power and our lack of them. The armor of God can help us bring down any intimidator, no matter what weapons he is using. The armor of God gives us eternal perspective, the strength of faith, truth, prayer, and the promise of salvation. We need never be afraid to stand up for ourselves and our God if we are protected with His armor.”
LaVell Edwards, Brigham Young University, 10 April 2001

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 ...