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Since I never seem to get around to sending out Christmas cards or letters, I decided to blog a bit to keep my fans updated. :-)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Concert tonight!

Greetings fans of Christmas music and/or the Utah Baroque Ensemble!

We are performing twice in the Orem Public Library tonight -- almost all Christmas music. This is usually my favorite concert of the year.

The first performance starts at 6PM, the second at 7:30 PM. Suitable for all ages. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A new Thanksgiving tradition

I joined B.S and family for Thanksgiving today over at Silly Girl's grandparents' house. We started with cheese and crackers, chips and dip, veggies and other appetizers around 11AM. About 1PM we decided to institute a new tradition--one I am calling "Life is short, eat pie first!"

Yep -- we had pie for lunch. The turkey dinner will start around 5.

I think I really like this. I often pass on pie after Thanksgiving dinner and just catch it the next day as part of the leftovers extravaganza. I found I really enjoyed having it earlier in the day. And, since we have more than 1 pie/person this year, there is plenty of pie left for those who want some after dinner today (and for me to have some more tomorrow).

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Hmmm...round 1 of the experimental technique did not go well

So here's my plan -- if I can use the shell molding method of chocolate making, I might get a better seal on my cherry chocolates.

So, I followed the instructions in my awesome candy book by the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) to polish my chocolate molds and fill them with tempered chocolate. I then deviated slightly from the instructions and turned them over to drain on cooling racks (instead of a bowl). I must have waited just a bit too long to drain them, because the chocolate did not really drip down through the cooling rack grid very well and more chocolate than I anticipated remained in the cavities of the mold.

I persevered anyway, hoping to identify other challenges with my plan. With the extra thickness of the chocolate in the cavities, there wasn't room for the extra-large maraschino cherries I have on hand. I cut them in half and dropped them in. I then piped in some fondant (there wasn't room for much) and sealed with chocolate.

This batch won't be beautiful, but here's what I learned:
1. I need smaller cherries (I might have to go to Gygi's on Saturday and see if they have some smaller ones)
2. I need deeper molds that are more rigid than the ones I have. I'm thinking about investing in one of these.
3. I need a better scraper. (I'm thinking a wide rigid putty knife)

I will first try another round in my existing molds and see if a thinner wall of chocolate might work better. But not tonight. If you have any ideas, send them my way!

Halloween is over...time to start dipping chocolates for Christmas!

Yep candy fans...I'm working on a batch of chocolate-covered cherries tonight. I'm experimenting with a different technique to see if I can resolve the issues I've had with the cherry juice oozing through weak spots in the chocolate covering. More later..

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Seeking Business Analysts in Utah

Novell will be hosting a CBAP certification boot camp on Feb 1-4, 2010. Here is information from the company providing the training:

Prepare to Become a Certified Business Analysis

According to the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®),
“A Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®) is a recognized
expert in identifying the business needs of an organization in
order to determine business solutions. CBAPs® are acknowledged
as competent individuals performing a role [that] is increasingly
recognized as a vital component of any successful project.” The
CBAP® program is intended to comply with the International
Standards Organization (ISO) 17204 standard for certifying the
competence of personnel.

For the first time ever, business analysis is achieving worldwide
recognition as a profession in its own right. The CBAP® designation
is a mark of distinction for intermediate- and advanced-level
practitioners, recognizing their demonstration of the knowledge
and skills necessary for effectiveness and a professional level of
competence in business analysis principles and practices.

Be among the first to qualify for and achieve CBAP® certification.
You can count on a fun, challenging, and ultimately productive
learning environment as our experts download their knowledge
and secrets for CBAP® success and help you upgrade yours. If you
want to learn how to analyze and document your business analysis
credentials and experience, submit a successful application for the
CBAP®, sanely and efficiently prepare for the exam, and pass the
CBAP® exam on your first try, you cannot afford to miss this CBAP®
Certification Prep Boot Camp!

Passing the CBAP Exam - Our Guarantee
ASPE SDLC offers you the best CBAP® Prep Course on the market.
We are backing that claim up by offering you the following
guarantee: If you take the CBAP® exam within four weeks after
your class has completed and do not pass, ASPE will provide you a
second examination voucher at the IIBA member rate free of charge.
If you do not pass on your second try, ASPE will allow you to re-sit
any CBAP® Certification Prep Boot Camp session within one year.

Date: 1-4 February 2010
Place: Novell, 1800 Novell Pl Provo UT
Price: $1695 if you register by Dec 31, 2009; $2195 thereafter
Call Renee DeMichiel at 919-816-1713 to register

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Upcoming performances

Where does time go? It has been forever since I've added to my blog. Sigh. But, canning is mostly done now, so I will try to start posting more regularly.

First on the agenda -- something for YOUR agenda. If you would like to hear some great music, here is the Fall schedule for the two community choirs to which I belong:

Utah Baroque Ensemble

Sunday November 15th Orem East Stake Center - 600 N 800 E Orem, 7:00 PM (Ages 8 and older)

Sunday Nov 22nd Provo Sharon East Stake Center, 2400 N 1060 East, 7:00 PM (Ages 8 and older)

Monday December 8th, Orem Public Library (Holiday concert and sing-along) (This is the one I recommend for kids) Times TBA - There are two concerts that evening because it's been a very well-attended event in years past. I will update this posting when I have the times)

Christmas Chorus
The Christmas Chorus is celebrating it's 30th year!
Saturday December 5th, 1:30 PM (a good time to bring kids)

Sunday December 6th, 7PM (Ages 8 and up)
Both performances are in the chapel at the State Hospital (top of Provo Center Street)

All of these performances are free, though both choirs love donations! There will be someone collecting donations at the Christmas Chorus concerts, but not at the UBE concerts. If you wish to donate, send it to Utah Baroque Ensemble, PO Box 1630, Orem UT 84059

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor-intensive weekend and holiday

This weekend I canned 13 quarts of diced tomatoes (it takes a LOT of tomatoes to fill a jar with diced ones), 5 quarts of whole tomatoes and 28 half-pint jars of jam : Peach, Raspberry, Pluot, and Triple Berry (Strawberry, Blueberry, and Raspberry). I had help with tomatoes today -- a friend who is completely blind helped peel, core, and dice tomatoes. I am regularly impressed by her expertise with tasks you might think impossible without sight.

And if you read that first paragraph and thought, "What is a pluot?" It is a fruit that is a plum-apricot hybrid. The jam is a beautiful purple-red color, and I suspect it will be a little on the tart side. My only complaint about pluots is that they don't like to be separated from the pit. I wonder if another variety might be more apricot-like in that respect, because apricots are quite willing to let go of the pit.

Perhaps another day when it is not past 11PM, I will line up a sample of the jams and take a photo to post here. Don't hold your breath though. It's a busy week.

If you have any extra jam/jelly jars you don't want, I'd be happy to take them off your hands... I tend to give away jam and the jars don't seem to come back, so I'm always trying to replenish my jar inventory. I like the 8-oz ones best, but would be happy for some 4- or 12-oz as well. Heck, if you have any canning jars you don't want, I'd take 'em! :-)

Next on the canning agenda: red pears. They are delicious raw, and I suspect will make wonderful pear sauce.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Adventures in canning

My friend BS and I added two new tools to our canning accessories this year -- a new food strainer and a pressure canner. The strainer made very quick work of the tomatoes and turned them into a lovely tomato puree that we cooked down with onions, garlic, and some herbs which produced a heavenly scent of tomato-y goodness. Later we added some diced tomatoes and a little sugar, and pronounced it worthy of preserving.

All was well until I retrieved the third quart from the canner. The contents were still boiling, and just before I set it down on a towel, it exploded -- all over me, the wall, the counter, the floor, the fridge...you get the idea. Luckily, none of the children were in the kitchen at the time, and neither BS nor I were scalded by the contents. Whew. Pretty exciting stuff. Next up? Hopefully peaches. And more tomatoes - but not in the same batch. :-)

I am looking forward to making applesauce with the new food strainer -- that should be a breeze!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Julie and Julia

Some friends and I went to see "Julie & Julia" tonight -- the new movie about Julia Child (Meryl Streep) getting her start in French cooking, and a woman, Julie (Amy Adams) who sets out to make all 524 recipes in Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in 365 days -- and blogs about her experiences. Naturally, I felt compelled to update MY blog as soon as I got home. :-)

In short, I LOVED the movie! One way I can tell whether a movie is good is how long it takes me to check my watch. The previews tonight started at 7:05, and I did not look at my watch until 8:50. That's about 20 minutes later than normal, since I usually last maybe 90 minutes before I start to fidget and wonder how much time has passed.

I predict this will cause a surge in the sales of the cookbook. I already own her "The Way to Cook" volume, and I've actually used it. For now, that will do for me, but perhaps I will put the 2 volumes of "Mastering" on my Amazon wish list. :-)

For those who are bothered by strong language, be forewarned that there is one use of a word that is normally only heard in R-rated movies. There is at least one other phrase that I found to be quite funny that some might find off-putting. However, if that doesn't scare you off, it is a delightful movie. Meryl Streep was amazing in her ability to channel Julia Child. Stanley Tucci was wonderful as Julia Child's husband. Amy Adams (Giselle in "Enchanted") was fun to watch too -- I especially loved watching her cook lobster for the first time.

And don't go see it hungry...movie treats won't satisfy.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, July 9, 2009


My friend, Mrs Mordecai, has a giveaway worth entering -- you see it on her blog, Be It Ever So Humble. Leave a comment on HER blog for a chance to win any product under $100 from CSN Lighting!

Friday, June 19, 2009

A great play!

Last night I traveled up to Midvale to see the Pinnacle Acting Company perform "Charley's Aunt". I loved it! It is a very funny play, and the acting was terrific. So, if you need some entertainment in the very near future you can see it tonight or tomorrow, or next week on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. Shows are nightly at 7:30 PM, with Saturday Matinees at 2 PM. Tip: Thursday is 2-for-1 admission.

To get there from Utah County, take I-15 up to 90th South, and turn left from the exit ramp. Turn right at the 2nd light (700 West) and take that to Midvale. At 7720 South, you will find a small 2-story building on the SE corner. That's the Midvale Performing Arts Center.

Tickets are $10.00 in advance (click here to purchase online) or $12.00 at the door. If purchasing tickets online for Thursday night, only buy half as many as you need for the 2-for-1 deal.

It's good, clean fun and you won't be sorry!

Oh -- seating tip...the stage is quite high, so I recommend sitting in the elevated area at the back of the theater on the padded folding chairs rather down in the regular theater seats. Much less neck-craning. When you get there, it will be quite cold - they cool it down before the performance and then turn off the A/C so that you can hear the actors (who are NOT wearing microphones. Hooray!) (I may not have mentioned that before, but I dislike it when actors and singers wear microphones. That's why I am not a big Tuacahn fan)

Pinnacle Acting Company
Midvale Performing Arts Center
695 W. Center Street. (7720 S.) Midvale, UT

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Stumpy Burger (Review)

On Friday some friends and I tried "Stumpy Burger" a new hamburger joint on Center Street in Provo (South side of the street between 200 and 300 West). The list of items on the menu is not long, but the food was quite tasty. I tried the "Bandit Burger" with grilled onions, and quite liked it. We tried their fries and onions rings, and I liked both. I'm not a big fan of most fries, be these were the heartier steak fries, and I do like those. No goofy seasonings on them either. Definitely try their fry sauce, which has a nice horseradish kick to it!

They also have coconut cream pie and a pie de jour. Because I am a sucker for coconut cream pie, I got a piece "to go". I didn't even ask what the other kind of pie was! Upon reflection, I should have shared it around the table, because it was a very generous piece...But instead, I had half on Saturday and half on Sunday.

If you are looking for a good hamburger in Provo, give them a try...or skip the protein and go straight to pie!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sour Cream Lemon Pie

This is a favorite in my neighborhood...
My only warning is to be sure and cook the custard until it is thick. Lately, I've taken to adding a smidgen more of cornstarch than the recipe calls for, but not a full 4 tablespoons. I almost got it too gummy the last time, which is the danger of increasing the cornstarch. So, somewhere between 3 1/3 Tbsp and 4 Tbsp is the right amount. 3 1/3 is often a bit too soft for my liking, and nearly 4 was borderline too gummy. The sour cream addition softened it, so the end result was quite edible.

Sour Cream Lemon Pie

1 9-inch pie shell, baked and cooled
1 cup Sugar
3 1/3 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 Tbsp Lemon rind, grated
1/2 cup Fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
3 Egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 cup Milk
1/4 cup Butter
1 cup Sour cream
1 cup Heavy whipping cream, whipped

Combine sugar, cornstarch, lemon rind, juice, egg yolks, and milk in heavy saucepan; cook over medium heat until thick. If it starts to look curdled, keep stirring! It should come together soon thereafter. Do not undercook or it will be unappealingly runny after adding the sour cream. Stir in butter and cool mixture to room temperature. Stir in sour cream and pour filling into pie shell. Cover with whipped cream and garnish with lemon twists if desired. Store in a refrigerator.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Crockpot Pulled Pork

Here is another recipe I have made a couple of times lately:

Crockpot Pulled Pork

1/2 cup Ketchup
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Ground Mustard
1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Paprika
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp. Liquid Smoke
Dash Red Chili Pepper Flakes
Pinch Salt and Pepper
1 Medium Sweet Onion, chopped
3 Pounds Pork Shoulder

Trim visible fat from pork.

Whisk sauce ingredients together (all but onion and pork) in a crock pot. Place pork and onions into sauce mixture, turning to coat both sides of meat. Cook for 8 to 10 hours on low.

Remove pork from crock pot and put onto a plate and shred with a fork. Discard any bones or pieces of fat. Place meat back into warm sauce to reheat.

Serve on hamburger buns or Kaiser Rolls with BBQ sauce (the liquid in the crock pot will be too thin to use for sandwiches, though I suppose you could thicken it and use it if you like). I like to add a layer of coleslaw to the sandwich.

As a shortcut, you could use 1 1/2 cups prepared BBQ sauce mixed with 1/3 cup of water instead of making a sauce.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Buttermilk Pound Cake

Greetings! I apologize for not posting anything new in quite awhile! Between my new job (which I LOVE so far) and mowing the lawn, cleaning the garage, and other items on my to-do list, I haven't managed to work blogging into my schedule.

However, this morning (it is currently 6:40 AM), I have a cake in the oven and it reminded me that I really should share this recipe with you. It is a yummy buttermilk lemon pound cake that goes really well with strawberries and cream. Here's a confession: I've never actually made "shortcakes" to eat with strawberries! I just alternate between this pound cake and angel food cake.

If you do not have buttermilk on hand, you can quickly sour regular milk as a stand-in by putting 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar in a measuring cup and adding milk to make 1 cup. Stir and let it stand for 10 minutes or so, and the result should work just fine.

Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Pound Cake

1/2 cup Butter or Margarine, softened
1/2 cup Shortening
2 cups Sugar
4 Eggs
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 cup Buttermilk
3 cups Flour
1/8 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Lemon Extract
1 tsp. Almond Extract

Grease and flour a 10” tube pan, a Bundt pan, or 2 loaf pans. Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream butter and shortening; gradually add sugar, beating well at medium speed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

Dissolve soda in buttermilk. Combine flour and salt, add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix just until blended after each addition. Stir in extracts.

Pour batter into prepared pan(s). Bake 65-70 minutes for the tube pan, check after 50 minutes with the Bundt pan, 45 minutes with loaf pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. After removing from the pan, let cool completely on a wire rack. Excellent served with strawberries and whipped cream.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


The kittens arrived the day before my neighbor left on her trip, so I missed that adventure. Naturally, the cat ignored the nice comfy box that had been prepared for her and choose underneath the 12-year-old's bed for her labor & delivery. There are 3 kittens, 2 boys and 1 girl. My neighbor tried to move them all to the box (twice), but the mama cat dragged the kittens back under the bed.

After I took them all to the vet the next day, I decided to try the box again. I lined it with a snuggly fleece blanket and tucked it into the 12-year-old's closet. I also added a heating pad, per instructions from the vet to keep them warm. I put the kittens in there, and the mama picked one up and was headed out of the closet, but I closed the closet door. The kittens were making quite a racket, so mama gave up and nursed them, then they all fell asleep. I grabbed a pillow for me, opened the closet door and took up residence on the floor by the opening...then joined them in the sleep zone.

So far, the mama has only tried once more to move a kitten, so I'm hopeful she will just compromise and do things MY way. ha ha.

Last night, the girls spent the night at their aunt's house, and I stayed the night with the kitties. At 5:15 this morning, mama decided it was time for some attention, so we had a little scratch, rub, and pet fest for 15 minutes. By then I was awake, so I got dressed and walked back to my house and started the laundry. On a SATURDAY. And it's raining, so I can't even scandalize my neighbors by starting up the lawn mower nice and early.

Here is a picture of the proud mama

And here is shot of the kittens:

P.S. If you would like a kitten in a couple of months, I know where you can get one!

Friday, May 1, 2009

I'm gainfully employed!


I just accepted a position with Novell, and start on May 11th. I will be attached to the IT department as a Business Systems Analyst. I'm taking next week off to celebrate (because it will be a LONG time before I have enough vacation hours to rub together and do anything fun).

I understand they already have a laptop for me, and a nameplate for my desk.

Thank you so much for the support and encouragement I've received since I parted company with SirsiDynix -- it made a difficult situation bearable.

More later -- still trying to spread the news!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


The tulips survived last week's heavy spring snow. Hurrah!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Which of these have you done?

I've successfully ignored all the "tagging" thingies, but this one appealed to me. (Thanks Daurene!) The game is, you copy and paste it into your blog and bold the ones you have done. If you don't have a blog, either start one, or, as a backup plan, leave a comment. :-)

Give it a try if you have a few minutes.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon
80. Published a book (Does my self-published family cookbook count?
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Seen Mount Rushmore in person
101. Learned to play an instrument

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bad influence?

A friend called me on Friday to see if I would go with her and her daughters to the Animal Shelter to "look at" the animals. The girls have been begging for a pet for a loooonnnng time. She wanted me along to help her be strong. I told her that if they went and looked at potential pets it would be hard to come home without one. I did agree to go, but secretly, I knew I would be little help, since I am a sucker for cats and dogs.

When we arrived at the shelter, we checked out the dogs first -- the medium-to-large ones. There was much barking going on, and the youngest daughter clapped her hands over her ears for the duration. We took a couple out on a "walk" in the parking lot and decided that they were just to rambunctious.

Next we tried the small-to-medium dogs. They weren't quite as loud (because there were fewer of them), but the girls didn't see any they were interested in.

We then looked at the cats. They were nice and quiet (score 1 for the cats). One by one, we took nearly every one out of his or her cage. We all liked a small gray female, and when I picked her up, I thought to myself, "I wonder if she is pregnant?". When the Shelter employee returned, we asked about the cat because there was no information posted on the cage. She looked it up and determined it was a stray, so no info was available. She then picked up her and said, "Oh, this one is pregnant!" (Apparently that had not been noticed previously). She was a very sweet cat, did not seem nervous that we were handling her, and seemed to be shedding far less than the others. So...she came home with us.

Guess what the first joke of the day was? My friend called her husband at work and told him that they were sheltering an unwed mother.

If anyone asks my friend, she will say that it is MY fault they now own a cat. All I did was point out how sweet and calm she was. Sheesh. She really is lovely little cat - very affectionate and a purring machine. I think they are going to call her "Nudge" because she frequently comes up and nudges you with her head to send the universal "Please pet me NOW" signal.

Here's the second joke of the day. The woman at the shelter guessed that the cat will deliver in a couple of weeks. Not long after we got the cat home, it occurred to me that in two weeks my friend and her husband will be out of town for a weekend and I will be staying with their children (and now their cat) while they are gone. I'm guessing the odds are very good that the kittens will arrive on MY WATCH.

On a related theme, my parents are test-driving two 3-year old golden retrievers this weekend to see if they want to keep them. I suspect they will. Harveys are suckers for cats and dogs...All of 'em have pets except for me.

Why am I holding out? Two reasons.
1) I don't like cleaning up after them
2) A couple of close friends are highly allergic to furry animals (husbands excepted) and I don't want them to be uncomfortable in my home.

So, for now, I will have to get my pet therapy when I visit my friends and family.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Why I love living in UTAH!

When I came home last night just after 9PM, it was not snowing. It had snowed earlier in the day, so I had a few inches on my lawn, but nothing on my drive or walks.

This morning, I peeked out at the patio in the back and saw this, so assumed the front would look the same.

HA! What a surprise when I opened the garage and found at least 8 inches of snow, if not 10 or 12. Apparently, the maple tree in the back shielded the patio from the snow.

My tulips are SO CLOSE to blooming, but I'm wondering if they will survive this. They are hardy little things, so I give it a better than 50/50 chance.


The apple trees look quite fetching in their temporary white coats.


The maple tree in the back did not fare as well, and I have 2 limbs down.



The mailbox

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Remembering my Mission President

My Mission President, Paul L. Ward, passed away this month. At the last minute, I decided to travel up to Boise for the funeral. As I listened to the speakers, many memories of President Ward flooded my mind. Here are a couple.

Not long after I got my second companion in the field, our mission president told everyone that if a missionary complained about an inability to get along with a current companion, that companionship would be extended at least another month so that the two individuals could work it out. That wasn't a problem Zuster Pollard and I were having -- in fact, we had been great friends from day 1. Our problem was that we hoped to spend the holidays together, and that neither of us would be transferred out before the New Year.

That year, we managed to acquire some cans of pumpkin (not a normal Dutch commodity -- we made a connection with someone at a US Military base) and found we could order small turkey at a local store, so we decided to put together a Thanksgiving dinner with the rest of our district. (Prep day was on Thursday then.) Since we had such grand plans, we extended an invitation to our mission president and his wife, and to our delight, they accepted!

During the meal, President Ward asked "so sisters...how are you getting along?" Just the opening we had hoped for! We told him that we hated each other and were not getting along, and needed to stay together at least until after Christmas in order to "work things out". He laughed and told us he would keep it in mind. And as luck and inspiration would have it, we stayed together until January.

Later in my mission, I had a companion who was not a native English-speaker (nor a native Dutch-speaker). I was her second companion since she had arrived, so she was still struggling quite a bit with the language. Communication between us was tricky, because she had to listen the first time I said something and determine whether I was speaking in Dutch or English, and then I would have to repeat what I'd said so that she could sort out the words. Those who know me well know that I'm a bit of a smart-aleck and rely on humor to get me through many a rough spot. Well, humor was lost on this poor girl who was struggling with both English and Dutch. I soon was only saying what was absolutely necessary, in the clearest way I could. That meant no plays on words, no goofy comments, pretty much no funny stuff at all.

About 2 months into this companionship, our president paid us a surprise visit. He asked to visit with me, and we went outside and sat on the front steps. "How are you doing Zuster Harvey?" he asked. "Fine, President" I replied.

"How are you really doing Zuster Harvey?" he asked? "I'm really doing just fine" was my reply.

"Zuster Harvey, how are you really doing?"? he asked again. The third time was the charm and I finally shared my struggles and concerns. I was so touched that he would go out of his way to stop by and check in with me and give me a chance to express my frustrations. That seemed to ease my stress level and give me the capacity to deal effectively with the communication challenges for another 2 months.

My Mission President was one of the best men I have ever known. Kind, compassionate, fully committed to doing what was right. I know his wife will feel his absence keenly, and my heart goes out to her. Farewell for now President Ward!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Silver Linings

Yesterday was a pretty traumatic day -- I was told that there was no longer a position for me in my department and I was being "let go". So, under the watchful eye of HR, I packed up my things and departed. I mourned yesterday and was quite sad, but today I feel much better. Life goes on! Somewhere there is a job with my name on it, another great group of people to work with, and something new to learn.

I did find some silver linings yesterday:
My dentist was able to fit me in yesterday (I already had an appt. for next week) which meant I could use flex spending money for it. (I had to use all my flex spending money yesterday or lose it). So, I went in for a routine cleaning and he found a nasty crack on a molar. I asked what that meant, and he said "A crown". "Can I pay for that today?" was my question. So, we took the impressions and put on the temporary, and I was able to use my flex spending money to cover my portion of the cost. THANK YOU to my brother who suggested I call my dentist and my eye doctor!

The even nicer silver lining was the outpouring of love, support, and encouragement from family and friends. I really couldn't talk about it much yesterday because my emotions were out of control, but that didn't seem to bother anyone else. I got phone calls, emails, messages on facebook, text messages, lots of hugs, and 4 offers of dinner! These many kindnesses were a balm to sooth my hurts. Thank you one and all! I know this post will reach some people who didn't catch wind of this yesterday as well as some who did. Please know that I am doing MUCH better today. The Lord endowed me with an extra dose of positive attitude, and it is coming in handy. One friend told me yesterday "There is life after a lay-off". He's right. Life goes on. Something will turn up.

I'm heading to California to see Silly Girl and family this weekend -- I figure a few days of R&R are in order. And on Monday I will start searching for a job. Please forward any leads you have!

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your love and support. My family and friends are everything and more that this girl could wish for!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

(Almost) A dream come true!

Guess who forgot about Daylight Savings today? Yup. Yours truly. Did not give it even a single thought yesterday, which is all it would have taken.

So, I get up at 7:30 (8:30 for the rest of you), and decided to check my email before showering. A little later, I looked at the clock on the task bar and noticed it said 8:48. It took about one second for me to realize "TIME CHANGE!".

Guess what time church starts? Oh yeah. 9:00 AM. So I grabbed a towel, wet my hair under the kitchen faucet, dried it about half-way, brushed my teeth, threw on my clothes and then, because of a New Year's resolution, applied some foundation to my face. Slipped into my shoes, grabbed my keys and books, and headed out the door. Applied lip gloss in the parking lot. Walked into the chapel at 8:57. (In case you don't know this about me, I lead the congregational singing, so it is kinda important that I don't arrive late)

It was almost a dream come true -- that dream where I forget to go to church and don't have a substitute to lead the singing. I have that dream about 3 times/year. I wonder if the next version will have a daylight savings theme?

I guess I'd better go reset my clocks now.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Lemon Tart

I tried a new recipe today -- Whole lemon tart (meaning, use the whole lemon except for the seeds)

The recipe came from one of the food blogs I love to read, Smitten Kitchen.

To me it seemed to be the grown-up sibling of lemon bars. One of my fellow consumers agreed. This is the first time I've made a tart, and I would definitely make this one again. B.S. - I saved a piece out for you and will bring it with me tomorrow night. :-)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Éclair Cake

I was reminded last night that I promised a friend that I would post the recipe for Eclair cake. Well, it's 4:30 in the morning and I can't get back to sleep, so I decided to work on my blog. This recipe came to me from Silly Girl's grandma.

Éclair Cake

1/2 cup Butter
1 cup Water
1 cup Flour
4 Eggs
8 oz pkg. Cream Cheese (room temp)
3 cups Milk
2 sm. pkg. Vanilla pudding
1 pint Whipping Cream
Chocolate Syrup (I use Hershey's)

Preheat oven to 400F.
Melt butter in water until boiling. Add flour. Add eggs one at a time. Spread in greased 11x15 pan. Bake for 25 minutes.

Blend cream cheese; slowly add milk. Add pudding mix. Spread over cooled crust.

Whip cream and spread over pudding layer. Drizzle with chocolate syrup.

After years of making this in my 11x15" pan (like the Pampered Chef Bar pan), I discovered that Silly Girl's family uses a 9x13" pan. Feel free to try that. I've found that I prefer the thinner crust.

This one works quite well with sugar free pudding, and if you do that, the dessert is sugar free provided you leave off the chocolate syrup. There are some sugar-free chocolate syrups out there, but I've not tried any of them.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Facebook Privacy / Security

I know what you are thinking -- "Facebook" and "Privacy" don't really seem to go together. However, I did just read an interesting article about ways to preserve some privacy and still use Facebook. If you are are interested, click to read "10 Privacy Setting Every Facebook User Should Know"

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

On the radio!

It's fundraising time at Classical 89! I've been invited to co-host a couple of shifts and will be on-the-air on Wednesday 9-11 AM and Friday 9AM-12PM. If you'd like to listen in (and live within the KBYU FM range), tune your radio to 89.1 or go online to www.classical89.org/streaming

I haven't had time to make treats for them, so tomorrow might be disappointing for some. I plan to redeem myself on Friday though. :-)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cleaning those monitor screens

I know you don't clean your computer screen very often and it is hard to do the inside, so here is my present to you.(works best if browser is in full screen mode)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Molten Chocolate Cakes (also called "Lava Cakes")

Last night I entertained two young ladies from my neighborhood while their mother nursed a cold and their dad was out of town. They were quite excited when I suggested we might make Lava cakes for a treat, so we whipped them up and wolfed them down while we watched the Nancy Drew movie. I'd also made them on Sunday for lunch guests, who were equally pleased with them. Two home runs made me think maybe I should share the recipe here. Every time I take these somewhere, someone exclaims over the individual ramekins and wishes they had some. (One person (male) just thought the word "ramekin" was cool...)

Molten Chocolate Cakes (or Lava cakes)

4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup Butter
1 cup Powdered Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Egg yolks
6 Tbsp. Flour

Preheat over to 425 F. Butter 4 (3/4 Cup [6 oz]) custard cups or ramekins. Place on baking sheet. (I just coat the ramekins with vegetable oil spray)

Microwave chocolate and butter in a bowl at 50% power until butter is melted. Stir with whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Add sugar and stir until blended. Whisk in eggs and egg yolks. Stir in flour. Divide batter between prepared custard cups.

Bake 11-13 minutes until sides are firm but centers are soft. Let stand 1 minute. Run a small knife around cakes to loosen and invert cakes on plates.

Serve immediately with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

By the way, I thought the movie was great!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Custard (or, what to do when you have lots of egg yolks)

Here is the promised custard recipe. It is intended to be used as pie filling, so it is quite firm. If you want a softer consistency, reduce the amount of cornstarch or add more milk. Just a "heads up", this one is very rich.

Chocolate Custard
5 ounces fine-quality Bittersweet (Dark) Chocolate
4 ounces Unsweetened Chocolate
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Cornstarch
3/4 tsp. Salt
6 large Egg Yolks
4 1/2 cups Milk
3 tablespoons unsalted Butter, cut into bits and softened
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla

In a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup (I prefer the 4-cup pyrex measuring cup), melt the chocolate using 50% power. Start with 2 minutes, and then check the chocolate by trying to stir it. If it is still pretty hard, go for 1 more minute (still at 50% power) and check it again. Repeat until it is soft enough to stir. There is a fine line between melting and scorching, and you don't want to cross it. Chocolate doesn't really lose its shape when melting, but it does get soft enough that when you start to stir it, the shape collapses into a melty pool of chocolate. Keep stirring until it is all melted and smooth.

In a heavy saucepan (about 3 quarts) whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks until combined well and add milk in a stream, whisking. While whisking, bring milk mixture to a boil over moderate heat. Allow to simmer (keep whisking!) until thick, about 1 minute. Force custard through a fine sieve into a bowl and whisk in melted chocolate, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Cover surface of filling with plastic wrap and cool completely (unless you like the skin on top. I do!)

To use as pie filling, pour custard into a 10-inch prepared crust and chill pie, covered, at least 6 hours or overnight. Top with whipped cream just before serving (if desired)

Variation: Coconut Custard
Omit chocolate. Toast 1 cup coconut in a dry skillet over low heat, shaking constantly. Do this before making the custard so that the coconut has time to cool before being stirred into the custard (add with vanilla)

And the award goes to...

LOTS of Juvenile and Young Adult book awards were announced at the American Library Association Mid-Winter Conference today.

To see winners for all of the awards, click here

The Newbery Award this year went to "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman

There are 4 honor books
The Underneath by Kathy Appelt

The Surrender Tree : Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle

Savvy by Ingrid Law

After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson

Remember that just because a book wins the Newbery it doesn't mean it is something you will enjoy reading. Look for reviews on Amazon or Good Reads. I understand that "Surrender Tree" and "After Tupac" may not be titles I would recommend to my readers, though more than one person I trust liked "Graveyard book" (I'm next in line at the library for that one), and I've had a good review of "The Underneath".

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Angel Food Cake

When I was a young baker, my mother taught me that Angel Food Cake should be make with a box mix because it was too tricky to make one from scratch. For a beginning baker, this is very true. However, for an intermediate-to-experienced baker, making one from scratch is, well, a piece of cake! Especially with this recipe:

Angel Food Cake
1 1/2 cups Sugar, divided
1 cup Cake Flour, sifted (not All-Purpose flour)
9 Egg Whites (I recommend separating the eggs when they are cold, then allowing the white to warm up to room temperature. They seem to whip up higher at room temp)
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cream of Tartar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp. Almond Extract

Preheat oven to 325F.

Sift 1/2 cup sugar and flour twice. Beat egg whites until foamy. Add salt and cream of tartar and continue to beat until they hold soft peaks. Beat in extracts and remaining sugar until peaks become a little stiffer. Using a rubber spatula or your hand, gently fold flour mixture into eggs white mixture.

Turn batter into an ungreased tube pan (not a bundt pan). Bake 45-60 minutes until cake is firm, resilient to touch, and nicely brown. Invert cake for an hour. Remove carefully.

Cuts best with a serrated knife or pair of forks.

Best on the day it is made. Strawberry mousse makes a great filling/topping.

Chocolate Angel Food Cake Variation: Substitute 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder for 1/4 flour.

I made one of these last week as a birthday treat for a co-worker. Someone else on the team, when he found out it was an angel food cake, asked "What's all that brown stuff on the outside?" (It was the crusty bits). Turns out, he'd only ever had angel food cake that was purchased from the store already baked, which I guess doesn't have the brown crumbs on the outside. At least not on the top.

I love this homemade version, though you are left with lots of egg yolks. I usually make custard or pudding with them.

I'll post a custard recipe tomorrow!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Reporting back

Thoroughly Modern Millie at BYU is definitely worth seeing! The singing was great, the costumes were fabulous and the choreography was terrific. Oh, and the pit orchestra was fantastic, though a little too much in a couple of places where they overpowered the singer. That is really my only criticism. Go see if you get the chance!

Need something to do tonight?

Tonight is opening night of BYU's production of the musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie". It starts at 7:30 PM in the DeJong Concert Hall in the Harris Fine Acts Center. When I called for tickets yesterday, they mentioned a special -- two for one balcony seats tonight. That is a sweet deal, and when I looked at the open seats yesterday, there were lots available.

So, if you like musicals, especially high-energy funny ones, give it a try. I'm going tonight, so will let you know later if it lives up to my expectations.

If you want to take advantage of the balcony deal tonight, call the ticket office at 422-7664. The offer is only for tonight, though the show runs through the end of the month. There are matinees on both Saturdays and those tickets are a bit cheaper ($13). Regular prices are $21 for adults, $19 for Alumni. I don't remember the student rate.

If you are a current member of KBYU FM, your member card is good for 2 for 1 admission to any showing, any seating area.

Get ready for some toe-tapping!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Connectivity continued...

One of my earliest posts was about reconnecting with friends via internet social networking tools like Facebook. This past week has been another big week for finding and being found! I found two high school friends on FB, which led to another finding me -- and she passed along contact information for another friend (who is not on FB) and told me about several mutual friends she still encounters regularly.

My family moved to Emporia, Kansas the summer before my Freshman year of High School, and my dad promised that we'd be there at least long enough for me to graduate. Coming from a military life, I had already attended several different schools by then, so it meant a lot to me that I would be at one school for four years.

When I got there, I found a very different world than the one I'd known. I discovered that most of my classmates had lived in Emporia their whole lives. For me, home was wherever my immediate family lived at the moment. Many had never been out of the state, and I'd spent very little time in America. They had lots of history together and I had history with no one outside of my family and a few friends from my previous school in Germany with whom I corresponded (REAL letters that you actually mailed and then waited days and days for a reply)

My Great-Aunt Helen jumped in and arranged introductions to a few girls my age, one of whom became a very good friend. She is a musician and her father was a physician and that gave us two great starting points. She was one of the first two people I found on Facebook.

When school started, the English class I would like to have been in was full, so I found myself in a very small English class that seemed to be where they put the leftover students. That's where I met a girl who would be a great friend through high school and beyond (she's the other person I found the day I signed up for FB).

It was a tough adjustment. I remember one day, early in the school year, we were discussing recent movies while waiting for Algebra to start. When I commented that I had seen the movie being discussed, a fellow sitting across from me said, "You watched movies in Germany?" To which I think I responded "Ummm....yes...did you think we all lived in castles and rode horses?" I got the impression that that was exactly what he thought.

I felt terribly like a fish out of water in Emporia for a couple of years, but the more people I got to know, the happier my existence became. I came away from those four years much the richer for the experience.

During college I went home for 2 summers and 4 Christmas breaks, and that was about it. I finished my coursework in 3 years, then taught 2nd grade for a year. Two weeks after I finished the school year, I began a period of missionary service for my church -- two months spent learning Dutch, then 16 months living and serving in the Netherlands. Not long after I returned, my family relocated to Colorado Springs, and I lost track of nearly everyone I'd known in Emporia. (Which would NOT have happened if we'd had FB and email back then!)

All this reminiscing is leading up to something fun I did this weekend -- I phoned one of my friends from High School. As we chatted, I was amazed by how easy and comfortable our conversation was. We got caught up on families, swapped stories, and just enjoyed chatting. The years fell away. You would think it had only been a few months since we had chatted, not many years. I think that is a mark of a good friend -- when you can pick right up and feel like you've never been apart.

I was only in Emporia for 4 years, and I have often wondered if anyone with whom I went to high school even remembers me. For my classmates, that 4 years translates to less than 10% of our lives at this point, which isn't much. I was humbled this weekend to realize that even as I remember people and experiences, so am I remembered. Thank you Susan and Kandi!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I got the better end of the deal!

Last weekend I received a voice mail from a neighbor asking if I had any extra jars of the Apricot jam I had given away at Christmas because her daughter had decided it was her FAVORITE. And if I had some, what payment would be desired?

I knew I had some remaining jars, but couldn't remember if they were peach or apricot, so I called back to let her know I'd received the message and would look when I got home.

I was pleasantly surprised, when I did look, to find that most of the remaining jars are apricot (because it's my favorite too), and phoned the neighbor back with the news that I had a jar available. When she asked me what I would charge for it, I had my request ready -- dinner or a game night with her family (they have 5 children ages 14 down to 3). "DONE!" was her reply and we scheduled for tonight.

So, in exchange for a half-pint of apricot jam, I got a great dinner tonight with a very fun family AND we played a game (Pictureka of course!).

I definitely got the better end of that deal!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

For my fellow readers

Here is a lovely article about Newbery awards. This year's winners will be announced on the 26th of this month.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I was introduced to a new game tonight (new to me anyway), Snorta, made by the game company "Out of the box" (the "Apples to Apples" people)

What a hoot! Literally! The recommended age range is from 8 on up, but there are some younger kids who could probably hold their own.

The premise is that each player chooses an animal from the set that comes with the game. It's the usual barnyard variety (cow, horse, rooster, etc.) with a few extra (snake, owl). You get to choose the sound your animal makes (it does need to be recognizable as that animal)

After you do show-and-tell with your animal and demonstrate your sound a couple of times, your animal is hidden away in your own personal barn.

As you are playing the game, when you and another player turn over matching cards, you have to:
1. Remember which animal represents that player
2. Make the animal sound designated by that player

And you want to do this before he remembers YOUR animal and sound. The one who loses gets to add the turned-over cards to his stack. First one out of cards wins.

Sounds simple, but when you are looking at matching pig cards and your opponent's animal is a donkey, it is hard to remember to bray rather than oink!

We were playing with kids, and the pace was friendly. I can imagine with an older crowd the pace picks up and is quite frantic. This could be almost as fun as my brother's Monty Python Fluxx game!

Click for a free bottle of Suave shampoo

Click here to request a coupon for a free bottle of Suave shampoo - but do it before 10 PM Mountain today!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Book recommendations

I read a LOVELY book last weekend -- "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society". I could not put it down! Check out the blurb at Amazon and if you like the sound of it, log into your local public library and put a hold request on it. Both Orem and Provo have copies (print and audio CD). I think it would be a big hit with book clubs.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chocolate Chelsea Buns

After my post last week about making rolls with chocolate milk instead of regular milk, a friend emailed me a recipe she recommends for chocolate cinnamon rolls, or, as the recipe calls them, Chocolate Chelsea Buns.

I couldn't resist, so tried them out on Sunday to take as my dessert offering for Sunday dinner. They were mmm-mmm-good! Here is the recipe:

Chocolate Chelsea Buns

1 cup Milk
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 tsp active dry Yeast
1 Egg
1/4 cup Butter, melted
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Vanilla
3 cups (approx) All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Cocoa powder, sifted

1 cup Chocolate Chips (I used half semi-sweet, half milk choc)
1/2 cup packed Brown Sugar
1/4 cup chopped Pecans (optional)(I did some both ways and liked both)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon (I will put in a bit more next time)

Scald the milk, let it sit for a few moments, then remove the skin off the top. Allow it to cool a bit before proceeding (at this point is it too hot for the yeast)

Dissolve 1 tsp of sugar into the warm milk. Sprinkle with yeast and stir. Let stand until frothy.

Whisk in egg, butter, remaining sugar, salt and vanilla. Gradually whisk in 1 cup of the flour. With a wooden spoon, beat in the cocoa and enough of the remaining flour to make a stiff dough. Turn dough out onto floured surface and kneed about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. (Umm...I did this all in my Bosch)

Place in greased bowl turning to grease all over. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in bulk (about an hour).

Melt chocolate chips. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together. Punch the dough down, turn out onto lightly floured surface. Roll out to 14 x 12 inch rectangle.

Spread the melted chocolate on the dough, leaving a 1-inch border uncovered. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon mixture over chocolate. Starting at the long side, roll up tightly, pinching seam to seal. Cut into 16 slices. Place in a greased 9x13" pan, like you would cinnamon rolls (swirly side up). Let rise until double in bulk again.

Bake at 350 for 20 to 30 minutes until firm to the touch.

Option: If you don't want to melt the chocolate chips, spread 1/4 softened butter on dough before sprinkling with brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. Spread sugar over, then chips, then roll up.

Drizzle with a glaze icing if you like... eat them warm.

That's it!

My friend and I IM'd about these today, and tossed around some possible variations. She thinks white chocolate chips would be good. I tossed in the suggestions of a mixture of chocolate and butterscotch or chocolate and peanut butter chips. My friend also brought up the possibility of a peanut butter glaze or frosting. Last night when they were served up in Lehi, my dinner hosts tried Hersey's chocolate syrup and caramel sauce on some of them (not both on the same bun, but I suppose you could). In the end, we decided that this is a good base recipe that will be fun to play with.

If you try it, let me know! I think I might have to make these the next time I take fund-raising treats to KBYU-FM. Maybe I'll even remember to take a picture of them. :-)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

One of the nicest things anyone has ever wished for me

Years ago, as I was out running errands with Yevi's wife and daughters, the older one, (who was probably only 5 or 6 at the time) commented from the back of the van, "Aunt Holly, I wish you would get married". When I asked why she wanted me to get married, her answer tickled me from head to toe.

"Because then you would always have someone to play games with".

Isn't that a lovely wish?

BTW, she meant BOARD and CARD games, not MIND games. (I qualified that because I KNOW some of you will go down that path)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Just to tease my brother...

Yevi -- yesterday snow was predicted with an expected accumulation of 1-3". Guess what we really got? About 9 inches! I came home from work and shoveled the first six inches, then went out early this morning to get the three that had come down since then. It's a lovely winter wonderland out there -- too bad my favorite snow fanatic isn't here to enjoy it!

your sister

P.S. while I was typing this and getting ready for work, another inch came down...

Update: several inches came down while I was at work -- now it is the wet stuff that is heavy. A neighbor had already done my drive and sidewalk with his snow blower just before I got home, but I bet I will need to go out and shovel again before I go to bed tonight!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Baking experiment

On Sunday while my mind was wandering during church, I started thinking about making rolls when I got home. The recipe I wanted to use calls for milk for the liquid, and thinking about that, I remembered I had some chocolate milk in the fridge. Hmmm...what would rolls made with chocolate milk be like?

I've never seen a roll recipe that calls for chocolate milk, but decided not to let that stop me. So, when I got home, I made a regular batch for dinner and a chocolate batch for fun.

The color was only little darker than normal, similar to what you might see if some whole wheat was added. I decided I would experiment further...so I rolled out the dough and spread nutella on it, then rolled it up cinnamon-roll style.

mmmm...I was pleased with the results. The bread itself doesn't taste very chocolate-y, but the nutella takes care of that. I think this could lead to a pretty good breakfast roll and I might have to experiment again in the future.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Why I haven't moved

My address has not changed in nearly 9 years, which is an amazing length of time for me to live in one place. I've lived in the same town for several years, but not ever this long in one house.

Want to know why I stay? Because I love watching the kids grow up. Tonight I attended an Eagle Court of Honor for a young man who lives one street over. I've watched him grow from a young boy to a young man as I worked with him in Primary (our church's organization for children). Once, while I was a cub scout leader, I called this young man to see if he would organize a Color Guard for the flag ceremony at our Blue & Gold Banquet. It only took one call and it was done. That was impressive. It was so much fun to see him receive his Eagle tonight!

A young lady who lives across the cul-de-sac from me once told me "You are like the neighborhood aunt!". I like that. (Thank goodness she didn't say "neighborhood grandma" -- I am NOT ready for that yet.) This is the first time I've lived anywhere long enough to watch the kids grow up, and I LOVE it!

Want to know why else I stay? Because I have fantastic neighbors. They watch out for me and my house and bless my life continually with their many kindnesses. They have winterized the swamp cooler in the Fall, gotten it going in the Spring, tilled my garden, figured out I have bugs in my lawn, removed a live bird from my furnace, replaced a cabinet door hinge, replaced a disposal, shoveled snow, cut down and hauled away two massive trees (and a few small ones) and more. When I am sick, they take excellent care of me. When I am here for a holiday, I have more invitations to join family celebrations that I can possibly accept. When I am hungry, I can drop in at dinner time at any one of several households and a place will be set for me at the table. When I am tired of my own company, I can wander to any of several homes and find companionship.

I used to worry about the fact that I seem to need so much help, but then a friend pointed out that we each help out in the ways we can by sharing our talents. This has taught me to watch for ways I can help others so that I can try to pull my share of the load.

Hopefully it all balances out in the end!

Update on Monday -- I thought of another one. One of my kind neighbors convinced a fledgling robin to vacate my garage last June. The bird had taken refuge while I had the garage door open as I finished my outdoor chores before leaving for a 10-day choir tour. I noticed him in there, and thought "Oh...you do NOT want to be in here my friend -- my garage won't be opened again for a long time". So, I called across the street and got some help from a pro. He poked and prodded and slowly shooed the bird out of the garage. Success! I closed the garage door and the back door and did not open them again until I returned from my trip.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Saturday Surprise

Just a few minutes after I got up this lovely Saturday morning, my phone rang -- it was a friend from the Netherlands calling to say she was in town! She and her 4-year old daughter and I went to breakfast and had a great visit. Here is a picture:

What a lovely way to start my day!

It's been a great week here -- I spent New Year's Eve with neighbors (we had a wonderful dinner and played lots of games and watched some old home movies). The next day I had lunch and played games with friends a couple of town north of me, and then had dinner with friends in my neighborhood. But wait, we're not done yet! Last night a neighbor served up a delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings and I was lucky to be on the guest list. While my friend's husband and his brother watched the Sugar Bowl game, we played a couple of board games AND watched the Sugar Bowl. (I think that kind of multi-tasking comes easier to women)

It was snowing when I left to walk home -- big, fat, fluffy flakes -- the ones that seem magical.

Here are some views from my back door today. I LOVE it when the sun comes out after a fresh snowfall!