Why I have a blog

My photo
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. :-)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

And yet more change...

It's been two weeks since the last big change, so it must be time for another, right? Last Monday I gave notice to my current employer and accepted a position with the Information and Communication Systems (ICS) department of the LDS Church. My last day at Novell will be Friday the 21st, and my first day at the new job will be the next Monday. It is hard to leave Novell because they have been so good to me, but it feels like this is the right thing to do. The timing is not ideal since I am still adjusting to my new role at home, but as I'm not drowning quite yet, I might as well be daring and move into deeper water and see whether I sink or swim!

Is change like bad luck -- does it happen in threes? If so, I'm afraid to ask or even wonder what the final installment will be.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It's a girl! (Or, the winds of change be blowin'!)

Did that catch your attention? I've been wondering what to call this entry. It marks a change to my world -- my household just increased by one this week when a 14 year old niece moved in. She will be here at least through the end of the school year, and quite possibly longer. I haven't come up with a blog name for her yet, but will keep thinking on that. For those who know my family, this is my brother John's middle girl. I used to refer to her as my "mini-me", but I'm guessing she wouldn't like that to be her call sign here on my blog. :-)

Before she arrived, I emptied my former office and turned it back into a bedroom. Finally cleaning out the closet (it's been on my to-do list for YEARS) has led me to the conclusion that I have too much STUFF. I've already relocated some to the basement, sent some to DI (that's similar to Goodwill for those of you who are not locals), given some away, filled my big garbage can, and I'm nowhere near done with this sorting process. I tossed a bunch into my room (I now have to turn on the light before I dare walk from my bed to the bathroom in the middle of the night for fear of tripping on something), filled the guest room closet, and still have spillover in the kitchen, living room, and basement.

The amazing and wonderful parts of all of this? Neighbors and friends who just jumped in and helped. I am so grateful - I would never have been as ready as I was by moving day without them. A neighbor (and friend!) helped me pull off books and other treasures from 2 huge bookcases and stack them all in the living room. Then some men in my neighborhood came over to move the bookcases and a desk out to the living room. They also moved a dresser and an armoire. The next day, the neighbor who helped with the books returned and moved my CD collection from the niece's room to mine -- while I was at work! She came back again later that day and shampooed the carpet in the now empty room.

The next day I flew out to Kansas for a High School reunion and while I was gone, another friend moved all the books back to the bookcases because I simply ran out of time.

On Saturday when my SIL and niece arrived, two friends unloaded the van and one of them provided dinner on Saturday, the other on Sunday. In between, my neighbor (same one) invited them over for dessert Saturday night and her son came by to assemble the bed they had brought with them. All of this happened while I was still out of town. I am so very blessed to have fantastic friends who are always watching out for me and who extended their umbrella of watchfulness and care over my SIL and niece. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Stay tuned for the developing story! That's all I have time for now.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cream Cheese Brownies

Here's a recipe for awesome cream cheese brownies!

2/3 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
2 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate
4 oz. Bittersweet or Semisweet Chocolate
8 oz. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, cut into quarters
1 cup Granulated Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
3 Large Eggs

8 oz. Cream Cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 Egg Yolk

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray an 8-inch square pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line pan with 2 layers of foil, with some overhang to make it easier to remove the brownies from the pan. Spray sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl; set aside

Gently melt chocolate and butter together being careful to not scorch the chocolate. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla; cool slightly. Whisk in the eggs, 1 at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Continue whisking until the mixture is completely smooth. Add dry ingredients; whisk until just incorporated.

Filling: In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese with the sugar, vanilla and egg yolk until evenly blended.

Assembly: Pour half of the brownie batter into the prepared pan. By spoonfuls, drop half of the cream cheese mixture over batter. Repeat, layering the remaining brownie batter and cream cheese filling. Use the blade of a table knife to gently swirl the brownie batter and cream cheese filling, creating a marbled effect.

Back until the edges of the brownies have puffed slightly, the center feels not quite firm when touched lightly, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center come out with several moist, fudgy crumbs adhering to it, 50-60 minutes.

Cool the brownies on a wire rack until they are down to room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours, before cutting. These are pretty tall, so you can get away with cutting them into fairly small pieces.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Comfort Zone

I like my comfort zone. It's comfortable. It's safe. It's secure. In my comfort zone, my typical Saturday starts off with a little down time -- reading a book or playing games on my ipod. Then I do some of the typical Saturday things -- laundry, errands, groceries. If I'm really inclined to be productive, I pay attention to the garden, mop the kitchen floor, and vacuum. As a reward for a job well done, I spend time with one or more friends -- share a meal, see a movie, or just chat.

Last weekend, this popped up in my google reader. Teachinfourth is a local blogger whom I started following a few months ago. At first, I didn't even realize he was local. I could tell he was in Utah, but it took me awhile to clue into the fact that he is practically next door. So...when the invite to attend "The Summer of George" arrived, I was intrigued.

Then started an internal debate -- am I cool enough? hip enough? to attend Festivus? Moreover, am I brave enough to attend a party where I will not know anyone beforehand?

On the other hand, how cool would it be to meet Teachinfourth? I've had such fun reading his blog this summer -- check out "Moments with Joey" on my sidebar if you'd like to sample his blog for yourself.

And then there's one of my mottoes -- A person can never have too many friends. Would this be a way to make some new ones?

In the end,curiosity won out and I sent my RSVP. And starting pondering what baked treat I should bring.

I didn't chicken out. I made cream cheese brownies and showed up at the appointed hour. And had fun. Teachinfourth was an excellent host, and the other guests were fun to meet and chat with. I especially enjoyed getting to know another blogger, Gerberta of Life As I Know It and her family. Her 7th grader and I had a lively chat as we discussed our favorite board games.

It was a good day to travel outside of the comfort zone!

Oh, and if anyone is interested in the recipe for the totally awesome cream cheese brownies, I will post it soon.

Friday, August 26, 2011

From Cedar City to you!

BYUtv will be broadcasting live from Cedar City on Monday, bringing viewers "A Midsummer Night's Dream" from the Shakespeare Festival. Here is a link to more information at www.bard.org.

Oh, and I saw "The Drowsy Chaperone" at the Hale Theater in Orem last night -- it was very funny. I didn't like the songs well enough to invest in a recording, but I laughed and laughed my way through it. It plays until October 1st -- surely you can find an evening between now and then when you will need a laugh, a chortle, a giggle, or two?

Monday, August 22, 2011

A nifty idea for tormenting colleagues

My office next-door-neighbor shared this today...the evil side of me LOVES it!


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Shakespeare Festival 2011

I've just returned from Cedar City, Utah where I took in three of the 2011 offerings -- The Music Man, Noises Off, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. All three were absolutely delightful!

The Music Man
There are many things to recommend this production of The Music Man. I'm not sure why, but I've seen more live productions of this one than any other musical, play, or opera. This version has just captured *first place* of all the productions I've seen. Here are some of the reasons why...

Brian Vaughn was a FABULOUS Harold Hill. I posted something to that effect on Facebook yesterday, and my High School English teacher promptly responded with "and so was your brother!" I was amazed she remembered that he played that part at the high school 25 years ago!

Laura Griffith was the best Marion (the Librarian) I've seen/heard.

The choreography was playful and fun and very well executed. I loved it when the kids in the library acted out Romeo and Juliet (which is one of the other plays at the Festival this year)

The supporting cast members left nothing to be desired!

And last, but definitely not least, there was a live pit orchestra!

Noises Off
This was a British farce in the form of a play within a play. The second act (of three) was my favorite. It takes place backstage and had me in stitches. At the first intermission, I mentioned to my friend that this one just wasn't grabbing me and she said she'd felt that way about "39 steps" last year, but then the second act just sucked her right in. Well, that's what happened for me in "Noises Off". My favorite moment came in the third act (hopefully you don't censure me for this), when one of the characters falls down a flight of stairs, headfirst. I reminded me of a skeleton run in the Olympics without a sled or helmet. I was fascinated.

Afterwards, Quinn Mattfeld, the fall-down-the-stairs fellow, made a pitch for extra donations for an Artistic Initiative project they are doing and said he would personally fall down the stairs again for anyone donating at least $20. Alas, I only had $5 on me, so while I did contribute, I did not get to see the stunt again.

A Midsummer Night's Dream
I was happy to see Kymberly Mellen (Hippolyta/Titania)again this year. She became a favorite last year as Beatrice in "Much Ado About Nothing". However, I think Bri Sudia (Helena, Max Robinson (Nick Bottom) and Ben Charles (Puck) stole the show whenever they were onstage. Bri Sudia and Max Robinson also regularly stole the spotlight in The Music Man - she as Ethel Toffelmier, he as Mayor Shinn.

This show was a lot funnier than I remember -- I'm guessing this was just the spin that this group put on it. Towards the end when Nick Bottom's "Pryamus" character is dying (as his merry troupe puts on a play for the other characters), a young child in the audience giggled -- and "Pryamus" stopped in his tracks and stared towards the area from whence the giggle has sounded - and the audience howled with laughter. He acknowledged the giggle, then resumed his dying scene. It was priceless!

One of the best things about seeing the shows in Cedar? I never know who else will be there, but I always run into someone or two!

Sidenote: if you are a David Ivers fan and/or a Brian Vaughan fan, you might want to take in the Fall season. They are both in "The Winter's Tale", plus David Ivers is in "Dial M for Murder" with Brian Vaughan directing. A friend and I will be there for the evening show on Oct 21st and the matinee on the 22nd -- come join us! Here's the website for more info: www.bard.org.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Travel humor

I noticed a short article on MSNBC this morning that led to this video about airport security procedures. The Airport Director who commissioned this should get a gold star!

Click here if you desire to read the article.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Theatre fix

Last weekend I headed up to Logan to see some of the offerings of Utah Festival Opera and Music Theatre company. My friends and I started with Don Giovanni on Friday night, followed by South Pacific and Boris Godunov on Saturday. Whew. Three very different shows, each glorious in its own way. I think my most favorites thing about UFOMT is that you see the same people in different shows/roles. By the end of the weekend, the performers feel like friends since you've seen them in multiple shows. My second favorite thing (don't worry, I'll stop here even though there are other favorites) is that the theatre itself is small enough that every seat is great and it feels quite intimate. This makes it so easy to get completely caught up and absorbed into the happenings on stage. Rejoining the real world after three hours can be shock to the system!

Next year the musicals will be Kiss Me Kate and My Fair Lady, and I am already looking forward to them.

In a few weeks I will head to Cedar for the Shakespeare Festival. This year we are seeing A Midsummer Night's Dream, Music Man, and Noises Off. That should satisfy my desire for live theatre for awhile. At least until October when we are going back for the Fall season. :-)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A baking tidbit

Sometimes my cookies end up thin and crispy when I did not intend them to do so. I've often wondered what makes the difference when the same recipe behaves differently. I'm wondering if it isn't the softened or room temperature butter. Room temperature in my kitchen has a pretty wide scale of degrees.

Recently, I came across a recipe that described the butter as "softened, but still cool". I think that is a better way to describe it. Because when my butter is squishy to the point of nearly crossing the line from solid to liquid, I get unexpected or undesired results.

Just some musings in case you find 'em helpful. :-)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A new go-to recipe for chocolate cake

I tried this recipe for chocolate cake this weekend, and think it is quite similar to Magleby's chocolate cake. I made it as a 9x13" single-layer cake, but it would work well as two 8" or 9" rounds.

It is definitely my new go-to recipe. The texture is terrific, and the cake very moist. Once we cut into it, I could not stop slicing off little bits every time I walked past. It goes together pretty quickly and only took me 10-12 minutes to get it into the oven once I started pulling out ingredients. The batter was thinner than the usual cake batter, but don't let that worry you. I did find that I needed to bake mine several minutes longer than the 30 minutes indicated.

The frosting is also quite nice and goes together quickly. While it does develop a slight crust after sitting out, it stays soft underneath, which is exactly what I was hoping for.

Thanks to the Paysonites for a great dinner to go with the cake! I probably shouldn't admit this, but the Paysonite parents and I sampled the cake during the pre-dinner card playing - probably not surprising to anyone who knows us, since we instigated the "pie before dinner" Thanksgiving tradition!

It's definitely a dessert extravaganza here tonight -- there is buttermilk ice cream churning as I type, as well as a key lime pie in the fridge. And of course, more chocolate cake. I need a glass of milk just thinking about it!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Just in case you missed this news story

This one cracked me up -- it's about a dad who dressed up in a different costume every morning and went out to wave as his son's school bus drove by.

Here's a link to a blog for viewing the various costumes.

Enjoy! Perhaps this will inspire another parent to reach new heights in embarrassing their children. If so, mission accomplished!

Also, I have a new link posted for a feature called "Moments with Joey" on the blog of a 5th grade teacher. Now that's some fun reading! Click and enjoy.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Puppy Love

No, I did not get a new pet. However, I did make a puppy birthday cake this week. It was requested by a dear friend for her 9-year-old, animal-lovin' daughter. I did a little research after the initial phone call and found lots of possibilities while looking at images on Google. Before committing myself to a particular cake, I checked back in with my friend to find out what her daughter's expectations were and laughed when I found out that her daughter was expecting Rice Krispie treats in the shape of a 9. Whew! I felt pretty confident I could top that!

Here's what I ended up with.

The dog body was made with half of a Wilton 3D Egg cake pan. I cut the legs and ears out from a separate cake and attached them with frosting.

The collar and tongue are made from Star burst candies, slightly warmed in the microwave and rolled out. The nose is made from dried blueberries.

The chocolate frosting was my favorite part -- I tried chocolate swiss buttercream for the first time and it will definitely not be the last. Wow! The recipe I used is from Martha Stewart. This recipe worked beautifully. The texture, flavor, and consistency reminded me of chocolate whipped cream with the added benefit of working well for cake decorating.

I made the frosting ahead of time and brought it back to room temp, then whipped it again before using it. I refrigerated the cake when I was done, and took it out a few hours before it was to be served. The frosting was silky smooth when the cake was served without wilting or disintegrating like whipped cream would.

One caution -- the recipe is not for the caloric faint-of-heart. While there isn't as much sugar as a buttercream frosting made with powdered sugar, it does have an obscene amount of butter!

If you are looking for a frosting that is easy to smooth out on a layer cake, such as a wedding cake, give this one a try. The base recipe is for a vanilla frosting. I made a batch of the vanilla tonight to see if I liked it as much as I like the chocolate version and it turned out beautifully. I did not go so far as to bake a cake just to try it out from a decorating standpoint, but will stash it in my freezer for the next cake or cupcake adventure that needs frosting.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Garden 2011

Yup. I picked out my plants on Friday and put them into my brand new raised garden beds on Saturday. If everything thrives, I will have some funky heirloom variety tomatoes and some standard hybrids. Yum! I also plant Japanese eggplant for the first time, and a few carrots. also for the first time. Add a few viney plants (melon, cukes, spaghetti squash) and a few peppers, and that's my garden.

Awhile ago I planted spinach and lettuce, and some of the lettuce looks like it is ready to be harvested this week -- wahoo!

The only down side to all of this is that I flooded my laundry room when I turned on the faucet outside to water the new plants. No carpet got wet, but it means I can't start up the swamp cooler or run the hose to the garden until the leak is repaired. I suspect something froze this winter. Sigh. Happily, it rained today so I won't need to figure out how to get water to the garden for a few days.

Keeping my fingers crossed that we are done with hard freezes this Spring!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Not a fun day

My company laid off lots of employees today following last week's acquisition by another company. I am feeling very lucky to still be employed, but am sad to see the departure of colleagues I admire and with whom I have enjoyed working. There will be many voids for the remaining staff to fill.

Days like this are always unsettling. Most people seem to be taking it in stride, though it has been challenging to get any real work done.

I wish the best of luck to those who are parting ways with the company. You will be missed.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Utah Baroque Ensemble Spring 2011 concerts

To my local fans...here is concert info for the Utah Baroque Ensemble:

Sunday 17 April, 7:30 PM 865 W 1000 N Orem (LDS Timpview 5th Ward building)

Sunday 1 May, 7:30 PM 1081 W 1060 N Provo (LDS Grandview East Stake Center)

The performances are free of charge. Audience members 8 years of age and older are welcome.


Good Christians All, Rejoice and Sing (David Schwoebel)
Jubilate Deo (Hans Leo Hassler)

Agnus Dei (Thomas Morley)
Alleluia, Christus Surrexit (Felice Anerico)

Ave Verum (Camille Saint-Saëns)
Selig Sind die Toten (Heinrich Schütz)
Geistliches Lied (Johannes Brahms)

Cantata BWV 196, Der Herr denket an uns (J.S. Bach)

At the Round Earth's Imagined Corners (Wilametta Spencer)
Ubi Caritas (René Clausen)

The Lord Bless You and Keep You (Martha Sullivan)
Jesus Christ the Apple Tree (Elizabeht Poston)
Soon Ah Will Be Done (William L. Dawson)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Restaurant Review - La Jolla Groves

Tonight some friends and I checked out La Jolla Groves over in Riverwoods, and it was an excellent experience! We started with a cheese plate, then opted to skip the soup/salad course so that we'd have room for dessert. For the entrees, between the three of us we ordered chicken crepes, mushroom ravioli, and beef medallions. All were very tasty. The beef (my order) was very tender and tasty. I sampled the crepes, which were lovely, and tasted the ravioli. I loved the sauce on the ravioli.

My personal measuring stick for eating establishments is how they treat their cooked vegetables. La Jolla did a beautiful job with mine! There were slim baby carrots, asparagus, and teeny tiny potatoes. They were cooked, but not overcooked or mushy. Yea!

We tried two different desserts -- Orange Crème brûlée and an individual-sized Lemon bundt cake. Both were lovely. The lemon cake had a nifty melted sugar dome covering it. I might have to try making those some time. It looks like it was melted sugar draped and swirled in thin ribbons over an upside-down bowl. We also brought some lemon rolls home, but haven't tried them yet.

They do take reservations, and our table was ready when we arrived. I called at 5:15 tonight for a 6:45 reservation. Parking was the only issue because they've turned the Riverwoods shopping/eating area into a pedestrian mall with parking around the outside. La Jolla is directly west of Tucanos, but I ended up parking out by Macaroni Grill. So, make a reservation and plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early to the parking lot so that you have time to circle around a bit until you find a spot.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


While I don't like it when my car is having troubles, I am so glad I can take it over to EP Auto and have them cure whatever ails it. My car has been having occasional trouble starting over the last few months. I took it to EP Auto in December, but they were unable to determine the problem. Amazingly, they did not charge me for the time they took to check it out!

Today, the problem finally manifested itself to the point that it could be properly diagnosed when the "charging system problem" indicator light came on. Luckily, it happened as I was backing out of the driveway, so I went straight to EP Auto. Within 90 minutes they called to let me know the problem (bad alternator) and to say that they could fix it today.

At 3:30, they called again to say the alternator was done, but that the "check engine" light had come on. They tracked that to a sensor right by the alternator and though they didn't think they had done anything to disturb it, they said they would replace it for free. How's that for awesome service?

I also took my last car to them when it needed maintenance, and over the years I have never felt like they were trying to sell me something extra or perform service that wasn't needed. If you are in my area, I highly recommend EP Auto. They are at the corner of 800 W and 400 N in Orem, and their phone number is 801-221-9477. For regular maintenance issues, call ahead for an appointment because they are usually booked out a few days in advance.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Year of the Rabbit

A shout out to those born in 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999- it is YOUR YEAR! (and yes, that is me in the middle with 1963).

I found this on one of my favorite food blogs, Simply Recipes:

2011 is the Year of the Rabbit (兔) which is a welcome thing after the previous wild and somewhat ferocious Year of the Tiger (虎). The rabbit is probably the most delicate animal of the Chinese zodiac and those born under rabbit years are reserved, good-natured, compassionate, and artistic, though perhaps a bit absentminded and superficial. The Rabbit, being a such a good friend, also likes to prepare food for people.

Another version:
People born in the Year of the Rabbit are articulate, talented, and ambitious. They are virtuous, reserved, and have excellent taste. Rabbit people are admired, trusted, and are often financially lucky. They are fond of gossip but are tactful and generally kind. Rabbit people seldom lose their temper. They are clever at business and being conscientious, never back out of a contract. They would make good gamblers for they have the uncanny gift of choosing the right thing. However, they seldom gamble, as they are conservative and wise.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I need to try this...

Here's what I want to try the next time I make a chocolate cake. Wow. Just need a reason...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Oatmeal mix-in

I like putting plain yogurt in my oatmeal to make it creamy but not soupy. Today I tried strawberry yogurt. Ugh. I will not do that again...it was just wrong. The hot chocolate was a much better idea.