Monday, November 09, 2015

Thanksgiving Rolls

If you're looking for a good roll recipe, might I suggest this one?

Mom's Rolls at Simply Better at Home
(Or as I think of them "The Best Rolls I've Ever Had"

Last year I decided that I would make these rolls for Thanksgiving.  I'd been eating them for years, courtesy of my friend Heidi, but had never tried to make them on my own. I was a little intimidated, knowing how good they could be, and also knowing how disappointed I'd be if my efforts turned out to be sub-par, but luckily for me, they turned out to be little morsels of deliciousness. Yumma, yumma!

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And now, in case Heidi should someday take down her blog, I'm going to copy her recipe here, for my own (and possibly your) roll-making convenience:

In a small bowl, combine and then brew until very frothy (usually about 5 minutes:)
1/2 cup warm water
2 Tbsp yeast
1 tsp sugar

In a large bowl (like a kitchenaid bowl, perhaps)stir/dissolve:
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup hot water

Add and stir well:
2 t salt
3 eggs
yeast mixture

Mix in (it should still be somewhat sticky and a little lumpy):
5 cups flour

Raise for 1 hour

Punch down and on a floured surface roll out until about 1/3 inch thick rectangle. Brush softened butter on the dough. Cut into triangles and roll from the fat side to the point. Place rolls on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray.

Raise for an additional hour.

Bake at 400 for 9-12 minutes.

Total project time: 2.5-3 hours

Thursday, October 22, 2015

a little help for cold season

Awhile back, in my net-surfing adventures, I found some directions for making vapor shower disks--like the ones that Vicks used to make. Knowing that cold season would be coming, I printed the directions out, and put them into my ticker file, resolving to make some up when one of us found ourselves in need of a congestion-buster.

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That day came this week, as my daughter found herself with one of those fall colds.

Following these directions that I found on beingfrugalbychoice, I took about twenty five minutes on a Tuesday night to mix up the ingredients. I let them sit overnight, and by bath-time on Wednesday (which turned into shower-time), I had a container full of fragrant shower disks. We popped one of them in the shower with my 7-year old, and within a few minutes, the bathroom was full of eucalyptus and lavendar vapors, and all our sinuses were much more clear than had been the case earlier.

Suffice it to say, we're fans.

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You'll need the following:

-2 or so cups baking soda
-enough water to turn that baking soda into a think paste--with a consistency that's kind of like putty
-15 drops each of essential oils--eucalyptus and lavendar (Sarah at frugal by choice also adds rosemary oil, but I didn't have any, so I left that out)
-A muffin tin (I filled up one of my 12-cups, and about half of another, but I didn't fill them full. If you fill the cups full, you won't need two tins like I did)
-Muffin liners

Place the baking soda into a mixing bowl. Slowly add the water until you have a thick paste/putty-like texture. Then add the essential oils.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin (filled with liners) and let sit out overnight, preferably for at least 12 hours.

I store them in a plastic container, as seen above.

*These disks are a little bit crumbly. Sarah has a set of directions to cover this, which involves baking the disks before adding the oils, and maybe I'll try that version when I use all of these. For now, I'm satisfied with the results I got here. Not bad for a little experiment.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

lions from sea to shining sea (and across the sea as well)

After a loooong drought of lions lately, I have a full-on cloudburst for you today! Enjoy!!

Orem Utah--taken by Harmony Packer
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Avila, Spain--taken by Cherie Sparks
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d'Orsay Museum (in Paris, France), also by Cherie Sparks (oh look! There she is!)
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Avila Spain--another Cherie special
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A cemetery in Paris, France (again--thanks to Cherie)
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We've seen these lions before on the blog, but never with such an adorable model in the mix. Salt Lake City, temple grounds.
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presented by Heather Albee-Scott--though I forget where these two fine felines reside. My guess is Michigan, since that's where Heather resides.
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(this one is kind of grumpy, no?)
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And finally, three beautiful specimens courtesy of my niece Kaylee, and her trip to the Eastern area of the U.S. I'm not sure if these were taken in Washington D.C., or New York, or both.
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this one is so fascinating to me
Kaylee's mom came along and deigned to pose for this one.
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Whew! Hopefully I'll be a little more on top of this for the foreseeable future!

Monday, October 05, 2015

Graveyard Dessert

Last Halloween, my friend Candace invited us to her house for a pre-trick-or-treating meal, and asked me to make a "spooky" dessert for the festivities.

I thought a bit, wanting something that was spooky, but not gross, and remembered a pudding cake that I had tried many years ago called "dirt and sand", some kind of pudding combined with oreo and vanilla wafer crumbs, topped with plastic flowers. Thinking that something like that could easily be adapted to a spooky theme, and thinking that in this "Age of Pinterest", someone had surely already adapted it and put step-by-step instructions online, I did a little google searching, and found . . .

This post at !!

I modified the decor a little bit according to my whim, and took it to the party, where it was a massive hit.
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So friends, in keeping with the spreading the love vibe that I received from doing my own search, here is the recipe, complete with my own helpful hints for Halloween Graveyard Dirt Dessert:

Halloween Graveyard Dirt Dessert

1 pkg Oreos
8 oz cream cheese (lower fat is fine)
1 cup powdered sugar
3 1/2 cups milk
2 small chocolate instant pudding boxes
1 small container Cool Whip
3-5 gummy worms
3-5 Pepperidge Farm Milano Cookies
Wilton Sparkle Gel in Black

Mix the cream cheese and powdered sugar together. In a separate bowl, blend pudding and milk together. Fold the Cool Whip into the pudding mixture, then blend in the cream cheese mixture.

Chop up the Oreos in a food processor or blender. Add half of the Oreo crumbs to the pudding mixture, and spread the mixture into your serving dish. Now you can either sprinkle the other half of the crumbs over the pudding mixture to make a layer of dirt, or you can mound it up in little graves. I chose to do half and half, making three graves on one side and a worm garden on the other. To make your headstones, write "RIP" or whatever you want in sparkel gel on your cookies, and stick them into your pudding graves.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, September 14, 2015

S'mores for Family Home Evening--a tutorial in the loosest sense

Every once in awhile, we have a more-successful-than-expected family home evening. Since it's not an every day occurrence, when it does happen, I like to take a minute and commemorate the moment, partially so I can remember, and reflect about what went right, and partially so I can have a little bit of a celebration. Life is always more enjoyable when there are celebrations to be had, that's my motto.

For this particular family home evening, we made our own outdoor marshmallow roasting pot. I had seen a picture of one on Pinterest earlier in the summer, and it looked like it was something that someone of my skills and interest could manage. Turns out, I was totally right.

Basically, we took a terra cotta pot (I purchased one for $3 at Wal-Mart), and lined it with a sheet of aluminum foil. Then I filled it to the top with charcoal briquettes (I used the match light variety), and lit them on fire.

While we waited for our briquettes to burn down to appropriate roasting temperature, our daughter gave us a lesson from our old family home evening standby, The Friend.

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Then we took our forks and got to roasting!

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When it was all over, we doused the pot with water from the hose, dumped all the innards into the dumpster, and put the pot away for future s'more making joys. Simple, cheap, and tasty--what's not to like about that?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Legacy

You may not find this all that interesting--I have it here more for a record of my own personal family history than for any other reason.

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Sometime around May of this year, I received an unexpected phone call. A man named Larry Decker called our home, introduced himself as a cousin of mine, and proceeded to inform me of a Decker family reunion that would be taking place in June in Salt Lake City. As he shared more and more of the details of the reunion, my interest (which at the beginning of the conversation had been quite tepid) heightened considerably. We exchanged e-mail addresses, and to make a longer story shorter, Father's Day weekend found me meeting my parents at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building for the first of two Decker family gatherings.

We spent the first night eating a gourmet meal, and listening to several family members speak, including Rod Decker, who has been a KUTV newsperson and is also a cousin of mine, apparently. In addition, Elder Don R. Clarke, of the First Quorum of the Seventy spoke to us, as well as his wife, Mary Anne Jackson Clarke. Sister Clarke is also a cousin. There were other speakers as well that evening, and although the program went a little long for my taste, I wasn't sorry that I attended. We spent the night at Aunt Florence and Uncle David's house (though they weren't there, they still allowed us free reign of their home, which I thought was really quite nice of them), and got up the next morning for the second and final day of the reunion, which was to be a morning of different speakers covering topics related to our ancestors, followed by a pot-luck barbeque in the back area of a Salt Lake area church.

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My first cousin Juliana (Davis) Wallace (as opposed to the rest of my cousins there, who were more along the lines of second and third cousins a few times removed) spoke at this meeting on the topic of my grandmother, Florence Decker Corry. She recently completed a biography on Florence, making her about as much of an expert on her life as anyone who wasn't personally acquainted with her could be. I enjoyed her talk very much, as well as many of the other talks. 

While we were there at the meeting, I looked around and realized that for the first time in many years, I could look around and see all of Florence's children at the same place at the same time. Something that rare required me to take a picture, and so before we all went our way after the luncheon, and with the help of my father and my Aunt Liz, I was able to persuade them all to pose for a picture, along with their first cousin, Nancy Black.

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Uncle Jeff wanted to line up by height. That's because with Uncle E.J. missing, Jeff is the tallest in the group. He was (obviously) voted down, though.

They were really good sports about it all, but as soon as I started taking a few shots, the funniest thing happened. Suddenly, it seemed as if everyone at the reunion (and there were well over a hundred of us) immediately felt the need to rush over and get a picture of the group for their own collection as well! All of a sudden, my dad and aunts and uncles (and first cousin once removed) were posing and smiling and smiling and posing for picture after picture.

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The longer the posing went on, the more hilarious the scene became. Uncle Jeff and Aunt Liz were exchanging teasing remarks to each other, Uncle Steve kept trying to bow out of the picture, the other aunts and uncles were carrying on with jokes and smart remarks, and my dad just laughed through the whole thing.

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As I watched those siblings have so much fun laughing and playing together, it felt happily familiar to me, and not just because I've been watching them carry on together my whole life. The more I saw them playing around, the more I saw how their enjoyment of each others company is now reflected in the relationships that I have with my siblings, and the relationships that most of my cousins have with their siblings as well.

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It was the best part of a really great few days.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A bit of this and a bit of that

Back in February, we took a little trip to Kingman Arizona to visit my sister. On our way back, we stopped at the always impressive Hoover Dam.
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Here's a bit of fun.  My daughter saved all her money up for several weeks so that she could buy this $5 hand weight--all so that our friend puppy could have a seat belt. Sometimes I could almost die from the cuteness.
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My shuffle bit the dust, so I got a new one, and spent the better part of a weekend loading it with some of my favorite tracks off of my CD collection. Kind of eclectic--but isn't everyone's CD collection that way?
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How I love my mountains.
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And this girl in front of my mountains.
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Does this seem unfair to anyone else besides me?
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Mother-Daughter reading time by the heater.
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T-Bird and proud.
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Just a random little love note. "Sometimes it's funner with friends"
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Just a little bit of fun--this is on a wall (hidden away from customers) in the Lumberyard.
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Back in March, the little girl got a rock dropped on her foot accidentally, courtesy of one of her cousins. Let me say that again--it was a TOTAL accident. Nothing that a bit of ibuprofen and a bandaid couldn't fix. However, the cousin and his mom felt so badly about it that they offered her a free pedicure once her foot had completely healed. And then, they offered me one as well. It was a fun fun afternoon to be sure.
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Back in March or April or so, I chanced to be taking my morning walk by the temple and decided to take a few pictures, to go along with the winter pictures I took in January.
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And that's what we have for today.

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