Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Growing up vs. "growing up"

So, it seems that the world would have you believe that "growing up" looks like this:

Miley Cyrus at the VMAs. (I didn't watch them, but just like you probably have, I heard about it). And I won't post a pic of anything like that on my blog.

I've heard it said that Miley is just "growing up." Well, excuse me. Does growing up mean becoming crass and vulgar? Degrading oneself in front of millions?

No--a million times no!

True growing up, in my estimation, looks like this:

This is my beautiful Nicole. (And she doesn't know I'm posting this!) She is almost ready to graduate from college, and is even more beautiful on the inside. She knows that conducting herself with dignity, virtue and kindness are the true hallmarks of growing up.

Thankfully, there are a lot of other girls out there just like Nicole. I'm grateful for them!

Revelation 21:11 "And her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back to school is good.

Yesterday was Back to School in these parts.

I'm not ashamed to admit I was ready for it. My kids? Not so much. 

We had a crazy summer full of remodeling and mission prep, and I am ready for some "normalcy," although it's a new kind of normal with only four kids left in the house.

I am happy with Back to School time because schedules are good.
Quiet time for writing/reading/volunteering/more projects is good.
A cleaner house is also good.


I am happy when school gets out each day because happy noise is good. (I said HAPPY noise).
Time to play outside with friends is good.
Family dinner hour is even better.
And family time is not just good, it's sacred.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Recipe Redoux: Brigham City Peach Cobbler {the BEST peach cobbler ever!}

This is the best peach cobbler ever! If you live in Utah, you know why it's called Brigham City Peach Cobbler. Brigham City, about an hour north of Salt Lake City, produces really awesome peaches every year. Any recipe from Brigham City that uses peaches is just that good, because Brigham City is where the peach experts are. If that isn't enough to tempt you into trying this recipe, I don't know what is.

**Funny story. See the little blue marks on the left side of the cobbler above? I discovered after I took the pic that I left part of the butter wrapper on the butter and mixed it right in to the cobber. Don't be like me. :)

Brigham City Peach Cobbler

~from The Essential Mormon Cookbook

3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 T. cornstarch
1/2 c. water
1 t. almond extract (this totally makes it so don't skip or substitute!)
4 c. peeled, sliced fresh peaches
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. butter
1 c. flour
2 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 c. milk
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving

For filling, in a large saucepan combine the brown sugar, cornstarch, and water. Cook and stir until bubbly and thickened. Add the almond extract. Stir in sliced peaches, lemon juice, and 1 T. butter. Heat through and keep warm while preparing the topping.

For topping, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in 1/4 c. butter until it resembles course crumbs. Combine the egg and milk, and then add all at once to the flour mixture. Stir just until all the flour is moistened. Pour hot filling into a greased 2-qt baking pan. Spoon topping over on top in 6-8 mounds. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until topping is golden brown. Cool to warm and serve topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The best things about having a missionary out

This was us the day we took Elder Sedlacek to the Missionary Training Center. That was three weeks ago tomorrow, which in some ways feels long, and in other ways feels short. I've learned that there are some great benefits to having a missionary out.

There is such a great feeling of love and unity and peace in our home. Greater than ever before.

Somehow, I feel closer to Jacob through his letters than when he was here. He's always been a man of few words, but not in letters! Funny how that works.

I've heard stuff like, "You're the best, Mama," and "You are an awesome parent and so is Dad," and "I love you guys" more than I've heard it in the last almost-19 years of his life. :)

The blessings that come into your home and family when you support a missionary are SO real. Undeniable in fact. It's gonna be hard to give those up when we don't have any more missionaries to send!

The other children are really watching their brother and encouraging him and loving him. It's great to see.

Watching Jacob learn and grow is about the best thing ever!

It's still tough to think of him being gone for two years, but I just don't let myself focus on that. One day at a time....and that's one of the lessons I've learned from diabetes. One day at a time really works when anything else would overwhelm you. Whatever you deal with in life, that's my advice: just take it one day at a time.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I know a lot of you may already be making your own laundry detergent. Or if you're like me, you wait for awhile to see if the hype goes away, or if it's something that seems to really work.

From what I'm hearing, it really works. So I finally jumped on the bandwagon and decided to test it out.

Everything you need to make this version is shown above:

1 4 lb. box of baking soda
1 4 lb., 12 oz. box of Borax
1 box (just under 4 lbs) of Super Washing Soda
1 3 lb. tub of OxyClean (optional)
2 bars of pink Zote soap (you can opt for white which is unscented)
1 55 oz. bottle of Purex Crystals fabric softener

The cost of all these ingredients came to $28.65, with everything but the Borax bought at Walmart (they were out of Borax). Being conservative, if I get six months out of it, that is a cost of just over $4.75 a month--a savings of over $10 per month in my family. We're talking $84 for six months of store bought detergent vs. $28 for homemade. If it cleans well, it's not a contest.

As I'd heard, the hardest part is grating up the Zote soap (or Fels Naptha works too). It takes awhile, and I enlisted two happy helpers when my arms got tired.

They really were HAPPY about it--so I'll have no trouble getting them to help me when I need to make some more!

I divided up the ingredients and kind of layered them in a huge stainless bowl for easier mixing. It makes a lot!

I used the empty OxyClean tub and Purex bottle to hold my homemade detergent, as well as an empty large plastic tub that had held laundry soap pods. I thought it would be easier to store that way instead of in a 5 gallon bucket.

Now, for regular loads, you use 1 T. of detergent, and 2 T. for large loads. I'm washing my first load with it now--a dirty bathroom rug--so I will know right away how well it cleans. I'll let you know what I think of it and how long it lasts me.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Just how old do we look?

Last night as we were getting children to bed, I had repeated "time for bed" about 16 times. (And this is why moms sometimes feel like broken records, don't we?)

On the 17th time, I heard myself saying, "Time for dinner!" Suddenly, everyone was laughing, and then I heard the funniest thing come out of Libby's mouth.

"That's old people for ya. They lose their words!"

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Chocolate Zucchini Cake {baked in the grill}

The other day I said I was going to try baking a cake in my grill. Here are the results!

I'm really happy with how this cake turned out! You really wouldn't know that I didn't bake it inside my oven. Here's how I did it:

1. I turned on all 4 burners in the grill and preheated it. It was about 500 degrees when I went out to put the cake in.
2. Right before putting the cake in, I turned off the two left-hand burners and turned the right-hand burners down to about medium high. I put the cake in, and checked after a few minutes to see that the temperature was down to about 350. It stayed about 350 for the rest of the baking time.
3. Twenty minutes in, I turned the bundt pan 180 degrees.
4. After twenty more minutes, I turned it again 180 degrees. I also checked it for doneness and it needed about 10 more minutes, so I rotated the cake another 90 degrees.
5. After about 50 total minutes of baking time, the cake was done. I cooled it on a rack for 10 minutes before turning onto a plate.

Here is what the cake looked like right out of the grill:

And after turning onto a plate:

What recipe did I use? This one from A Bountiful Kitchen.  This is a moist, chocolatey version of Chocolate Zucchini Cake. It's so good I think it's my new favorite. You'll notice that Si says you can bake it in a 9x13 or two pie plates. As I said, I used a bundt pan because I prefer them.

If you've got a grill with a temperature gauge, don't be afraid to try baking in it! I think I'll try bread next....

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Slow Cooker Lasagna

Elder Sedlacek is a lasagna fan. So for his last night at home, I wanted to make some.

Instead of the usual buy-a-frozen-lasagna-and-throw-it-in-the-oven, it needed to be special. And if I didn't have to heat up the oven? That would be even better!

That's where this Slow Cooker Lasagna comes in. It's easy to put together--you don't even have to boil the noodles first--and it tastes delicious. In the words of Jared, "This is the best lasagna you ever made." Ahem, step aside, Stouffer's.

Slow Cooker Lasagna
1 1/2 lb. ground beef
1/4 c. dry minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 T. dried parsley
3 T. prepared pesto
1 1/2 t. salt
1 30-32 oz. jar marinara sauce (I used Kirkland Signature)
1 lb. package of uncooked Lasagna noodles
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
16 oz. carton cottage cheese
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese

Spray the inside of your slow cooker with non-stick spray. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef. Drain. Return ground beef to skillet and add onion and garlic, 2 T. of dried parsley, pesto, salt and marinara. Stir to combine and then heat thoroughly. Simmer 5-10 minutes. While sauce simmers, combine cottage cheese, parmesan, and 1 T. dried parsley. Stir in one cup of shredded mozzarella.

Pour enough meat sauce into the slow cooker to just cover the bottom. Break up 3 lasagna noodles and place on top of sauce. Cover with 1/3 of the cottage cheese mixture. Repeat layers twice with meat sauce, 3 noodles, and cottage cheese. End with a final layer of noodles with sauce on top. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. At end of cooking time, sprinkle remaining shredded mozzarella on top, then cover and cook for 15 more minutes or until cheese is melted. Serves 8. 

Adapted from Crockpot Lasagna at Real Mom Kitchen. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Hot Weather Cooking Tip: Outdoor Grill Turned Oven

This is the heat dial on the cover of our outdoor gas grill. We haven't had this grill for too long, and it's large and awesome.

Recently, I realized that with this temperature gauge on it, I could probably use the grill as an oven. This particular grill has 4 burners, and with all four going the grill heats up over 400 degrees in no time.

Last night, I decided to make beef enchiladas and use the grill to "bake" them. It worked like a charm! Here is what I did:

1. I made the enchiladas in an 11x14 pan lined with foil, which fits perfectly over two of the burners.
2. I preheated the grill with all four burners on and got it to 400 degrees.
3. I put my pan of enchiladas in the grill with all burners on and left it for 5 minutes.
4. At the end of 5 minutes, I turned off the left two burners and moved the pan so that it was centered over those burners. I left the right two burning about medium-high. The grill's heat stabilized at about 375 degrees.
5. I baked the enchiladas, uncovered, for 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.

At the end of the 20 minutes, the enchiladas were perfectly cooked with no burning on the bottom. The best thing about this is that I did not have to heat up the kitchen to bake a pan of yummy enchiladas!

I plan to try baking either some zucchini bread or this Chocolate Zucchini Cake in the grill. I'll let you know how well it worked!

**This post was shared at Or So She SaysWhat's Cooking With Ruthie, and Your Home-based Mom.