Thursday, November 30, 2006

Before you make cookies this Christmas...

Don't use your mom's sugar cookie recipe!!! I am not a fan of sugar cookies. They're always hard and flavorless. I've tried several different recipes and just tried this one below. They're soft and puffy and pretty good. My new sugar cookie recipe of choice.

Here's a recipe for the cookies and the frosting. I've never made these, but saved the recipe when I saw it posted on another board, in case I ever need it. The cookies got rave reviews from everyone who made them at the time.

There was also some speculation that using butter flavored crisco in place of the butter would make them softer - you can try it if the orig. recipe isn't quite what you're looking for!

"Like Lofthouse" sugar cookies
1 cup butter (using butter flavored Crisco makes them even softer)
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups sour cream
5-6 cups flour (until desired consistency for rolling)

4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup shortening
5 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
food coloring (optional)
Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and sour cream. Mix in dry ingredients. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Roll out dough to a 1/4 to 3/8 inch thickness using a generous amount of flour. Cut out shapes and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 8 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Frost and decorate as desired.

In a large bowl, cream together the confectioners' sugar and shortening until smooth. Gradually mix in the milk and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth and stiff, about 5 minutes. Color with food coloring if desired. Can also change the flavoring using other flavors

A recent project and my cool new apron.

This is the apron my Aunt Hope sent me. Cool huh?The day before Thanksgiving I delivered these to school. The PTO bought them.
One basket was filled with White Chocolate Chip Orange cookies
One with Caramel (soft) popcorn
One with triple chocolate peppermint cookies. (Chocolate cookies with chocolate chunks, then half dipped in chocolate and then dipped in crushed peppermint- YUM).
There was also a basket of chocolate dipped pretzels and chocolate/caramel dipped pretzels and a basket of chocolate popcorn.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Now that my camera is working...

I've got a ton of pictures to post. But apparently blogger has a scheduled outage at 10- and I've got a dentist appointment to get to if I can ever get my kids moving. But I'm promising more this afternoon.


I got my camera to download pictures. Here is a cake I recently did:

I'm loving the bottom border.I really love chocolate and pink.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Stuffed like a Turkey

Wow- what a weekend! It was fun and relaxing and I love four and 1/2 days of downtime.

Wednesday Steve got off work early so we hit Walmart to do some Christmas shopping. We have some very poor areas of our stake so as a stake (collection of wards) they collect toys/clothes/ect for families that may not have them for Christmas. Our ward was asked to collect toys/clothes for 3-4 year old girls. Well- that's easy to pick since that's the ages of 1/2 our kids. I wanted to have the girls pick stuff out to sort of teach them about charity at Christmas time- but I didn't want to take all four girls to the toy section of Walmart by myself. So I dragged Steve and we went and did that.

Thursday morning we got up and I started cooking pies. Now there are several essentials to Thanksgiving in my family. One of them is pies. Lots and lots of pies. Steve doesn't get it. Not many people do. But it's a time of year when you can make your 15 favorite pies and not feel (too) gluttonous. So I made 2 pumpkin, lemon meringue, key lime (don't try that recipe in the Betty Crocker cookbook- really not that good), banana cream and chocolate cream. My friend emily made a cheesecake. She doesn't understand the pie thing either.

My friend Emily and her family came over for Thanksgiving as well as my sister Barbara who is currently going to school at Dixie State College in Utah. So we spent the time cooking together in the kitchen while the kids played upstairs.

Another important part of Thanksgiving are the mashed potatoes. They have to have some skin- and of course have to be real. No imitations. That was my Dad's favorite part of was mashed potatoes and gravy.

Then the turkey. I actually had some. Now this might not seem like such a big deal to the rest of you- but I've not eaten turkey in about 14 years. It gives me a major migraine and lots of pain in my back, neck and legs. But I decided to try some this year and was okay on Thanksgiving day. But I shouldn't have had leftovers. Last night I went to bed with a killer migrane and pain everywhere. It was gone by this morning though.

I brined (let it soak in a salt water solution) the turkey overnight and added brown sugar, honey and red pepper flakes to the brine. Then I rubbed it down with butter, brown sugar and sprinkled it with more red pepper before roasting it in a roaster oven breast side down. It doesn't come out with that brown crispy skin- but it comes out so moist and juicy and actually tastes good. Also in about 2 1/2 hours and my oven is free! Best $30 I've ever spent.

So Thanksgiving was good. We chatted and played some games after dinner and then the four adults (Barbara had left by then) cleaned the kitchen spotless in about 20 minutes. Woot!

Friday morning we got the girls up and took our car out in the Nevada Desert. We just drove straight up behind our house and went exploring. We stopped and had a picnic and let the girls explore and they loved it. Then Steve let them all drive a little (and there are reasons why kids don't drive- they're too easily distracted!)

When we came home I grabbed a couple bags and we dropped the girls off at Emily's house (thanks Emily and Scott!) and Steve and I headed up to Mesquite. The fun part was that Steve didn't know we were going. But we spent Friday/Saturday up there and stayed in a hotel, got massages, went to dinner, saw the new Bond movie (good except for the obnoxious kids behind us) did some Christmas shopping for our kids and test drove a mustang!

All in all it was a very good weekend. Too bad that Steve has to go back to work tomorrow and Ashley starts back to school tomorrow and we're back to the daily grind...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I'm an Aunt! (Again)

For those of you who know my sister Katie she gave birth to her third daughter last night. Mom and baby are doing great. They named her Abigail Carleen (after my BIL's mom). I'm hoping for pictures soon.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A buffet of random thoughts (I am in Vegas afterall)

1. Every room in my house was clean at some point between Friday and Sunday- except for my bedroom and the office.

2. You'd never know that by looking now
2a. What is with that?

3. My business is booming. I'm excited. Woot!

4. Does anyone else notice that when they're more busy they get more done? I know that sounds lame- of course you get more done- you're doing more. But I'm talking about besides the stuff you're busy with. I find that when I've got several projects with deadlines I'm able to get more of the other stuff done that I never seem to be able to finish- mostly because I don't have unlimited time to do them.

5. I also got the summer clothes put away and the winter clothes out this weekend- and the biggest accomplishment- all the boxes are also put away.

6. We did a dessert night on Sunday. Something I like to do about once a month. We invite 5-6 random families from church over trying to mix up people from different ages, parts of the ward (congregation) etc and I make 5-6 different desserts and we eat and chat. It's great fun for me and I hope for the people that come. So I get to try out new stuff without eating it all myself and I get to know more people in the ward.

7. Sunday we invited my visiting teaching companion (another woman that I'm assigned to and together we check up on and visit with several other women in our ward every month) and several of the families that we visit teach. My companion is in her 80's and is Japanese-Hawaiian. She is the sweetest lady ever and she adores my crazy kids. She's trying to get them to call her 'grandma nishi'. Her last name is Nishimoto.

8. Her husband has done a lot of work with the general leadership of the church in Asia. He was the regional representative of Asia and oversaw the construction of the Tokyo Temple. He was talking about his life and telling us stories from WWII (he was a colonel over the Japanese American regiment) and telling us stories about the different people he'd met working with the church. I think he mentioned maybe 5-6 different prophets (head guy in the church) that he'd worked with and knew personally. It was an amazing night. Most people left by about 9:30- but the Nishimotos stayed and chatted until 12:30.

9. I'm making the following today for baskets for school: Chocolate/caramel dipped pretzel rods, chocolate dipped pretzel twists, triple chocolate chunk peppermint cookies, snickerdoodles, tollhouse cookies, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, chocolate popcorn, two bite brownies, white chocolate Chip orange cookies and peppermint bark.

10. Pretty sure steve's office is going to be ordering regularly from me.

11. My aunt Hope made me the coolest apron. She stitched my logo on it. So fun! I'll post a picture after I find the camera cord.

12. I ordered all our Christmas jammies yesterday. Yay for!

13. We are getting our kids a swingset for Christmas. Well, we're going halvsies with my mom. This one is one that I want to get. Sounds like a reasonable price for that- but after $95 shipping it's really not. So- I leave you with this challenge. Find a wooden swingset like that one- but somewhere that either has free shipping or that we can pick it up.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I broke out the Christmas music...

I generally wait until Thanksgiving day. But I was making my mixture of wassail for the season and "needed" to have a cup. Well- I couldn't have a cup without turning on some Trans-Siberian Orchestra....

It's a family favorite (my family- not Steve's- he thinks it's disgusting).

Wassail mix
2 c powdered orange drink mix (tang)
1 3 oz pckg un-sweetened lemonade (kool-aid)
1 1/2 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
add 2 or 3 T of mix to a cup of hot water.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Who I think should run for president in 08'

Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton.

Wouldn't that be fun? I think it'd make for the first interesting race in a long time with a candidate who I feel like I could vote for because they're a good candidate rather then because I like him better then the other guy.

Stuff I'm cooking...

For delivery Friday I have 200 peices of apple crumb cake.

For next week I've got 5 baskets to fill with goodies- I'm not sure what yet- for the teachers at school (the PTO is paying woot!).

I'm thinking chocolate popcorn for sure, maybe pumpkin bread or banana bread? Or mini muffins (pumpkin and banana). Maybe chocolate/caramel pretzels. Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, triple chocolate peppermint cookies?? I don't know. They have to be things that stack well and don't need to be refridgerated. What do you think? Suggestions?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Things that I've learned at my many doctor visits recently..

The bigger the practice and the bigger the waiting room and the more recepionists, nurses, and other staff they have means the longer the wait time and the less personal your visit will be. Also, the more information regarding your symptoms they have you write down the more times they'll ask you what those symptoms are and why you're there. The more embarrassing the symptoms? Then the louder they'll ask and in front of more people. Seriously I'm not sure why they have you fill out your medical history at all- it's not like a single person looks at it. My new response when they ask me a question I've already answered on paper? "I believe that I answered that question on #5 on page 35 of your survey, approximately 56 minutes ago while I was waiting."

A couple of things

I have some weird medical issues happening lately. I've seen my dr. and ruled out hormonal imbalances (which considering my previous diagnosis makes that they're all 'normal' completely weird). I had full blood work ups done that revealed nothing. I've been weaning off the Effexor to rule out things as being side effects. I've been off the Effexor for a week. A really, really hard week to boot. There are so many things going on right now that I feel like I can't talk about. Today I go for an MRI. Two actually. One with dye and one without. I'm nervous. Which apparently makes me mean and impatient. My kids are hiding upstairs. I'm really upset that Ashley is sick. That is completely irrational- and I know it. Like she can control the puking? Sigh... I need to get a grip. Hopefully I'll get some answers today or soon regarding these health issues.

The good news is that I've got all this nervous energy and as a result my house is getting more and more organized. My office is 95% done. I even bought a labeler so I can be as nerdy as Sheri. In other good news I got a second refrigerator. I made a swap with a in my ward. She had a fridge she was getting rid of and I had a computer desk- so we swapped. Good trade all around.

Murphies Exercise Law

The more prepared and determined that I am to exercise the bigger things will stand in the way. For example- when I decide to go despite my lingering cold (to pilates rather then 20/20/20 though) and hurry and get dressed and get all the kids dressed then someone will puke. Sigh...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I need to go back to school.

The things I'd like to learn are: HTML, Javascript, and organization... that is all.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Some recent cakes...

Present cake for my sister Barbara's birthday

Over the hill cake for a man (named Bruce) who was turning 60. There are 60 candles around the edge of the cake.

Chocolate rose cake. Whimsical (means that it's supposed to be tilted).
Pumpkin cupcake cake for Halloween. I made two of these. One for Ashley's class and one for the daycare at the gym.

Kenneth Wegner

The story:
Here in Nevada we have early voting at various locations around the valley. Malls, rotating grocery stores, libraries ect. So I was going grocery shopping at my local grocery store and there was a guy campaigning/handing out information about Kenneth Wegner in the parking lot. He approached me and was immediately in my face and confrontational. He asked me if I was voting and handed me information. I told him that I wasn't voting that day and asked him why he was campaigning at a voting site. He jumped to the defensive so fast and snidely told me that he wasn't campaigning- that he was simply handing out information about the candidate. That in order to be campaigning that he'd have to be the candidate. I rolled my eyes at him and proceeded into the store. In the front of the store there was a sign stating that this was private property and as such the owner of the property had opted to not have campaigning or leafleting done on their property during the early voting time. So I informed the manager that there was someone in their property doing just that.

When I went back outside he asked me if he could ask me a personal question. I told him I'd rather he didn't. He did anyway. He asked if I was LDS. I told him that I was and he handed me completely different information then he'd handed me previously about Kenneth Wegner, (that alone ticked me off) and he told me that Kenneth was also LDS and blah, blah, blah... One of the papers (the one that listed all the horrible things about his opponent) had a phone number at the bottom to call to volunteer for his campaign.

So I called the number and asked to speak with Kenneth Wegner. I was a little surprised when they put me through to him. I related the first part of the conversation in the parking lot and got the same attitude and defensiveness from him. Then I told him about his volunteer handing me completely different information when he found out my religion and he asked me if I was ashamed of my religion. I told him that was a strange question coming from a man who handed out different fliers depending on the religion of the person to whom he was campaigning for.

He was rude, confrontational and immediately defensive. I have a hard time with people like that. I have a hard time with people who think that I should (or shouldn't) vote for people depending on their religion.

Worse he told me that President Faust (one of the head men in our church- an apostle. Think cardinal in the Catholic church) told him that he needed to run and let people know what he believed. Basically he was name dropping trying to influence my vote. Well. He did. Influenced me to NOT vote for him.

The final straw was when he condescendingly told me that I should pray about it and then ask my husband who I should vote for. Steve and I do talk to each other about our voting thoughts and do some research together- but we also don't always agree and vote the same way. Although after talking to Steve about Kenneth Wegner he agreed that we shouldn't vote for him.

If you're wondering? He lost. Woot!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Deep Breath!!

YAY! Results are in and Nevada now has an indoor clean air act. No smoking in grocery stores (seriously it was allowed where there were slot machines) or in restraunts or bars that serve food. YAY!! So no more 'smoking or non'- there is just non!!! Woot. It becomes effective in two weeks. I think we'll go to dinner to celebrate!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Don't forget to vote today! I know it's midterm elections and not the presidental elections- but really- go vote. Do your homework if you haven't already and go vote.

If you live in Las Vegas don't vote for Kenneth Wegner. More on that later. But he's a jerk. So vote for Shelly Berkley.

Super Saturday

It's over. It was fabulous (if I do say so myself). Everyone seemed to have a great time. Lunch was fun and light (which is what I was going for). My chocolate class went well, but really how can you mess up chocolate? I came home with a bunch of projects to work on- but most people finished their stuff there. I was just so busy making sure things were running smoothly that I didn't have much time to do crafts, which is okay.

All you need to know about CHOCOLATE

These are the handouts from my chocolate class:

All you need to know about chocolate….

  • Consumers spend more than $7 billion a year on chocolate.
  • U.S. consumers eat about 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate annually, making per capita consumption about 12 pounds per person a year.
  • American chocolate producers use about 1.5 million pounds of milk.
  • Chocolate has over 500 flavors components, more that twice the amount found in strawberry and vanilla.

Tempering: ‘Real’ Chocolate needs to be tempered in order to not form white crystals when drying. There are several methods of doing this, a common one using a double boiler- but an easier way is using the microwave.

No more than a pound at a time should ever be tempered, and tempering shouldn't be attempted when the air temperature is over 75 degrees Fahrenheit. A pound of coarsely chopped chocolate should be placed in an open, microwave-safe glass or ceramic container. The chocolate should be microwaved at full power for one minute and then stirred briefly. Continue to microwave at full power in ten-second increments until the chocolate is about melted and solid or lumpy. Then stir briskly until all the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.

Using a candy thermometer, the temperature must be tested as follows for the different types of chocolate:

  • (88 to 91 degrees Fahrenheit for dark chocolate, the generic term for semisweet chocolate or bittersweet chocolate.
  • 84 to 87 degrees Fahrenheit for milk chocolate or white chocolate.

For easier heating and reheating you can use chocolate wafers (commonly sold by Wilton in an array of colors) or Almond Bark. Both have the flavor of chocolate, but aren’t really ‘chocolate’ since the coco butter has been removed and replaced with palm oil. This eliminates the need for tempering.

-For dipping fruit (of any kind) it must be completely dry or the chocolate won’t stick.

-To flavor you can buy candy flavoring which is much more intense and doesn’t need as much to flavor so that it doesn’t add too much liquid to your chocolate.

-Always dry chocolate on waxed paper or parchment paper.

Soft Carmel for pretzel sticks


  • 2 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 (5 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk


  1. Place the popcorn in a large bowl. Shake and toss the bowl to make the unpopped kernels go to the bottom; discard.
  2. In a sauce pan over medium-high heat, cook the brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter, stirring constantly. Heat to 270 to 290 degrees F (132 to 143 degrees C), or until a small amount of syrup dropped into cold water forms hard but pliable threads. Remove from the heat, and carefully pour in the can of condensed milk; stir until smooth.
  3. Dip pretzels into caramel- let .dry on waxed paper When they’re semi solid (they’ll never fully harden) then dip into chocolate. Drizzle with contrasting chocolate or sprinkle with chopped nuts, coconut, or candy sprinkles.

Chocolate Popcorn


White chocolate or White Almond Bark


1. Pop Popcorn

2. Melt chocolate and toss with popcorn until fully coated.

3. Lay out on waxed paper to dry. Drizzle with contrasting chocolate, sprinkle with toffee bits or candy cane if desired.

Chocolate Truffle Filling


11 ½ ounces milk or dark chocolate

1/3 cup whipping cream

Candy flavoring if desired

1. In a heavy saucepan combine chocolate pieces and whipping cream. Cook over low heat for 4-5 minutes or until chocolate melts, stirring frequently. Remove saucepan from heat and cool slightly. Whip with wisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until firm.

2. Roll into balls and then roll in powdered sugar or ground toasted nuts. Place on baking sheet lined with waxed paper and freeze for 30 minutes.

3. Dip into chocolate and allow to dry again.

Candy Clusters

1. mix your favorite cluster ingredients into melted candy (equal parts chocolate and either nuts, raisins, coconut, mini marshmallows, rice crisipies or other items)

2. mix thoroughly so that all ingredients are coated with chocolate.

3. Drop mixture onto cookie sheet covered with waxed or parchment paper. Refrigerate until firm.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I'm still alive!

Barely though.

This week has been crazy. I've been aiming to stick to the schedule as much as possible. I made a job chart and tv watching rules and the tv's only been turned on once! YAY! We've had a lot of odd things pop up though- dental appointments, medical appointments ect that throw us off- but I'm not aiming for perfection- just following it when we're home to the best of our ability.

Tomorrow is Super Saturday so today I'm trying to figure out what I'm forgetting to get ready. I feel like I should be stressed out- but I'm really not. I've got a great group of really dependable people to help me out and I've put them in charge of certain things and I'm really not worried.

It did occur to me today that this great group of women need to be recognized and thanked in some way so I need to do that tonight as well as prepare for my chocolate class. I'm thinking of killing two birds with one stone and making them some dipped pretzel sticks and wrapping them all pretty. Is that lame??

For my chocolate class I'm teaching: chocolate tempering, nut clusters, chocolate dipped strawberries, chocolate dipped pretzels, truffles and chocolate popcorn. They're all totally simple things (I think) but they're things that I've gotten specific requests for. I'm making up handouts so if anyone is interested I can post them here later.

I'll post some pictures of my completed crafts after tomorrow- if I can get my camera to download. I'm suspecting that my cord is ruined since the camera isn't recognizing it. (angry face) I realized this after trying to down load pictures of my totally cute Halloween girls.