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.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Oh, the Joy

This post is all about a date that occurred nearly three months ago. Just so you know.

My birthday this year was full of niceties and fun-nesses that I want to remember. So, if you don't like narcissistic birthday posts from forty-four-year-old women who should know better, you might want to just move along today.  :)

I wanted to go to Chili's for my birthday dinner, because sometimes I dream of their Buffalo Chicken Salad. So, we did.
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As it turned out, a young friend was hanging around our house when it was time for Eric and my daughter to come pick me up from work, so we invited her along. This little darling sometimes feels like our kid anyway (which is marvelous), so it was only fitting that she should join in the fun.

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(An added bonus, having a friend along gave my kid someone with whom she could play tic-tac-toe. Someone who actually likes playing tic-tac-toe! Happy Birthday to me!)

After lunch, Eric and the girls made their way to the dollar store where they picked up some presents for me. When I arrived home from work, they were waiting for me. A plastic rainbow garden prism-spinner thing, a cardboard butterfly jewelry box, a birthday card that when you open it sings, "Ceeeelebrate good times, Come on!!", and . . .

A cheetah-print high-heeled ring holder:
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I didn't get any pictures on the day of the present-opening, but was able to get a shot of this magnificence the next morning.
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(In addition, and for my "real" present, I got Amazon Prime for a year. Primarily so I can now binge watch Downton Abbey.  The two-day free shipping sure has been nice though.)

Then, it was time to head to the kitchen and frost a cantaloupe with cream cheese for my birthday party. Obviously, that needs a little bit of explanation.

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Back in the fall, I helped out at an estate sale for my friend Donna. At the end of the sale, when all the shoppers had left and everything else was going to go to thrift stores, Donna told us helpers to take a little walk through the goods and take what we wanted.

I happened to find a smallish cookbook, probably 60-70 pages, soft cover and staple bound called "The Joy of Jello". Printed in the 1960s, it was a treasure trove of oddness, with Jello recipe after jello recipe. I immediately snatched it up, and determined that at some point I was going to have a jello party.

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And so it was, that around the middle of February, I asked my friend Candace (who lives close to us in a home that is infinitely more suited to entertaining than our town home is) if I could have a Jello Birthday party there. She said yes. (Candace always says yes to me. She's very amiable that way.)

E-vites went out, with the request that no guests bring gifts, but that all guests make a dish from the attached scanned cookbook, also known as "The Joy of Jello!!"
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As a testament to the goodness of my friends, and the richness of my life, around twenty different people showed up that night, holding their Jello concoctions, smiling, ready for an evening of fun.
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One couple  took the Jello quest to the highest level, bringing a dish that instructed, "Fill this ring with potato salad and you'll have a complete meal!" Made with chicken broth instead of water, and congealed with chicken, celery, and pimentos, you can bet that this savory offering was among the most popular of the event for sure.
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At one point in the evening, I looked around the room, seeing person after person walking around, smiling, chatting with plates full of nothing but jello, and I thought to myself, "What kind of person invites a whole bunch of people over to spend their free evening, and rewards that sacrifice with nothing but Jello???"

"Who does that???"

Apparently I do that. And apparently, I have friends who are willing to go along with me in all that silliness.

If that's not love, then I certainly don't know what is.

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(I gave the picture taking duties opportunities to the younger set, and ended up with a bunch of pictures of this little girl from different angles and in different levels of blurry-ness. So, there you go.)

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