Monday, September 30, 2013

Apple Pie Crescents

Do you happen to love fall's favorite fruit--the one and only apple? We do. We basically have to, since we have a Golden Delicious and two Red Delicious apple trees in our backyard. This year, they produced so many that we had to thin the crop so they wouldn't be the size of walnuts.

Needless to say, I'm ready for some apple cookin'! I came up with this idea because I didn't want to make a pie, but I wanted pie. I know, it makes perfect sense. (This idea may exist somewhere out there in internet land already--I don't claim to be original). So why not wrap apple pie filling in crescent dough?

As shown in the pics above, it was pretty easy to do. The most time-consuming part is peeling, coring and chopping the apples.

Apple Pie Crescents 
~maybe not an original idea, but my own recipe

2 tubes of crescent roll dough
5 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 T. lemon juice
1/4 c. flour
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Combine chopped apples with lemon juice. Stir in flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss until apples are well-coated. If desired, let apple mixture sit for 15 minutes to juice up. Unroll crescents into individual triangles. Place a spoonful of apple mixture onto wide end of crescents; roll up. It will seem overflowing--but the apples will shrink when cooked so that is what you want. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 14-15 minutes, or until crescents are golden brown. 

Combine 3 T. melted butter, 1/4 t. vanilla and 1/2-1 cup powdered sugar until drizzling consistency. Drizzle over hot crescents. 

 I had about one and a half cups of apple filling left over. Tomorrow I'll show you what I did with it. It made a yummy breakfast!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Buttermilk Scones {It's scone weather!}

This recipe is originally from the Salt Lake Jr. League Heritage cookbook, and I found it over at A Bountiful Kitchen . We enjoyed these with broccoli cheese soup. Delicious!

*Note: I halved the recipe and got 21 scones, but some were larger and some smaller than the size specified in the recipe. I also mixed the dough in the morning and then refrigerated it all day until time to cook dinner.

Buttermilk Scones

2 packages dry yeast
1/4 c. warm water
1 quart of buttermilk, warmed
2 eggs
2 T. sugar
2 T. vegetable oil
1 T. baking powder
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
8 cups flour, approximately

Soften the yeast in warm water. Let stand 5 minutes. Mix warm buttermilk, eggs, sugar, oil, baking powder, salt, baking soda and 4 cups flour into dissolved yeast. Beat until smooth. Add remaining flour to make a soft dough. Cover. Let rise until double. Punch dough down. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Just before frying, roll out on a floured surface. Cut into approximately 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" x 2" rectangles and fry in hot oil. Drain on paper towels. Makes 4-5 dozen.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Great Reads: The Angels of Pemberton

This is The Angels of Pemberton, a gripping Victorian love story and mystery woven into one. It's over 600 pages, but don't let that scare you--those 600+ pages go fast when you can't put it down. This is a family saga full of intrigue, betrayal and triumph over evil.

The setting for The Angels of Pemberton is the northern moor in Devon, England. It is both a wild and a beautiful place. Lynn Keiser's descriptions of Devon, the cliffs and the moor are well-written and make you feel as if you could picture them in your mind.

The Angels of Pemberton is the story of Adele Wakefield, the angelic heroine of the book, and her devilish sister, Vanessa. It is also the story of Charles Denning, the man who is torn between the two sisters and how each makes him feel completely different things.

Adele is the younger of the two Wakefield sisters. The girls' mother, Elizabeth, dies tragically after giving birth to Adele. The newborn Adele is not well either and it is believed she will die too. The girls' father, Laurence, in severe grief, takes Vanessa and leaves Devon. As a result, Adele is left to be cared for by the servants, who miraculously keep her alive. The servants vow to protect Adele and try to keep her from the eyes of the tenants and townspeople who would surely talk if they thought Laurence had abandoned his younger daughter. Meanwhile, Laurence believes that Adele did not survive.

One day, years later, Adele escapes the grounds of the estate and finds her way to the Pemberton Cliffs. The servants, realizing that they cannot keep Adele hidden forever, are finally able to reach Laurence and plead for him to return and care for his daughter. He is shocked to learn that she survived! He returns at once, remodels the estate (Rooks Haven) and then brings Vanessa back to stay. How will Vanessa and Adele react to each other, and what secrets does Vanessa hide?

The Angels of Pemberton is now available for Kindle at the amazing price of 5.99. This a great deal, because the hard copy of the book is five times that amount. If you love Victorian romances like Edenbrooke or Blackmoore, you will love The Angels of Pemberton too.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Coffee Cake

I love brownies. They are easily at the top of my dessert list.

But I have another favorite dessert--Coffee Cake. (You don't have to be a coffee drinker to love coffee cake!) Something about the crumbly, buttery, cinnamony just gets me.

This recipe was posted over at Shop Girl. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to make it. It did not disappoint!

Cinnamon Coffee Cake
adapted from Shop Girl's recipe
For cake:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup milk

1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 9x9 glass pan with nonstick spray. Prepare topping by combining dry ingredients and then mixing in the butter with a fork or with your fingers until it resembles medium to large crumbs. Set aside while you mix the cake.

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix well. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Add dry ingredients alternately with the milk--start with half the flour mixture, then half the milk, then repeat. Don't over mix. Spread batter evenly in pan. Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over batter. Bake for 30 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool before serving. We like ours topped with a dollop of freshly whipped cream!  

Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Review: Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson

Here it is, a review of the second "proper romance" by Julianne Donaldson, titled Blackmoore. I LOVED IT.

{I don't know if I loved it quite as much as I loved Edenbrooke, but they can't be completely compared because Blackmoore is a little darker story. Still, the romance factor is extremely high, just as it is in Edenbrooke. I could not put the book down for the last 8 chapters or so, and finished it sooner than I thought I would!}

Blackmoore's hereoin is Kate Worthington, a young woman tortured by secrets of the past involving scandal within her own family. Because of these secrets, she has sworn off marriage, declaring she will "never, ever marry." She is bent on going away to India and living an adventurous life instead, but she must get past her mother first. At the heart of Kate's life, even more than she realizes in the beginning of the book, is her childhood friend and confidant Henry Delafield. Henry has the power to help her escape her life in England, but is she really ready to leave Henry behind?

The Delafield family estate, Blackmoore, as well as its fortune, is due to be inherited by Henry. Blackmoore is a dark place, surrounded by moor and ocean, with haunted rooms and a secret passageway that leads to a very romantic destination. When Kate and Henry strike up a bargain that will give Kate what she thinks is her heart's desire and they begin making late night ventures through the secret passageway, will she discover where her heart truly lies, or will her mother's schemes destroy her hopes for the future?  Read Blackmoore to find out!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Lately {some random favorites} & Birthday giveaway winner!

This is what I've been up to lately--some new product discoveries and some random faves. Plus, the winner of my birthday giveaway!

I got this pic the other day from Elder Jake, and it made my day! He celebrated his 19th birthday out in the mission field. He's looking good!

Speaking of looking good--that's what my skin is doing more of since I bought this stuff. Have you seen the BB creams out there now? They are all over the place. I settled on this one, and I'm not sorry. Most days, this is all I put on (aside from some mascara). It really does what it professes to do. I love, love, love it!!

I've been asked lately how I do my 'do. Right now, just a little of this stuff. If you have a pixie style like I do, or other short hairstyle, this is great for texturizing and lending a little lift. Highly recommend.

This is my surprise birthday present--Nook HD. And this is one thing I love to do--read at night when the house is quiet. I'm reading none other than Blackmoore, Julianne Donaldson's second "proper romance." So far, it's good. Different from Edenbrooke but just as good. Soon I will post a review of it.

Speaking of Edenbrooke, here's the winner of my birthday giveaway:  Jessica!! Congrats! Just leave a comment so I can arrange to get you your copy of Edenbrooke!

With all the rain lately, it's really great when you can catch a double rainbow like this, don't you think? They are a lovely reminder of good things to come and promises kept. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Celebrating a quarter century with James Taylor & Blue Lemon

So how did we celebrate our 25th anniversary, besides doing some painting around the house?

Only by going to a concert featuring James Taylor and the MoTab, courtesy of our missionary son who put in for the tickets for us just a couple days before he left. Do I ever get tickets like that when I put in? No!

 It was A. MAZE. ING!

This is us before the concert started. BTW, I got new glasses. (There's really no great substitute for a pair of progressives when your eyes are 46 years old. My eyes are that old, but the rest of me isn't!)

Before the concert, we ate at a new (to us) restaurant called Blue Lemon.

Boy howdy, was it ever delicious!!

 You're looking at Butternut Squash soup (which I am still dreaming about, it was so good!), Iron-grilled Salmon over rice pilaf, and a Fruit-topped Cookie. The cookie may not look like much, but lemme tell you, it was perfect. Jeff and I both had the soup and we both thought it was THE. BEST. part of the meal.

The concert part of the night was so awesome. First up was "Carolina on My Mind." It was beautiful. My favorite number was a lullaby he wrote for his nephew called, "Sweet Baby James." Here is another recording of that song.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Beef Ravioli Bake

Fall is here {technically in just days} and you know what that means--casseroles, comfort foods and turning on the oven again. I decided to try this recipe today, and it was a keeper. Everyone loved it. It's easy to put together and serves 8.

Beef Ravioli Bake 
inspired by Better Homes & Gardens
1 25 oz. package frozen Cheese ravioli (I used Kroger brand)
1 lb. lean ground beef
4 garlic cloves
1 small onion, chopped or 1/4 cup dry minced onion
1 10 oz. can condensed tomato soup
1 14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
2 splashes of balsamic vinegar
1 T. brown sugar
2 t. Italian Seasoning blend
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook ravioli according to package directions. Meanwhile, brown ground beef with onion and garlic. Stir in tomato soup, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and seasonings. Cook until hot and bubbly. Put cooked ravioli in a greased 8x11 inch baking dish and pour meat sauce over top. Carefully mix meat sauce into ravioli by lifting raviolis so sauce can run to the bottom. Top with parmesan and mozzarella. Bake in preheated 375 oven for 20 minutes, or until cheese is browned and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes and then serve.

Find other great recipes and ideas at: Or So She Says, What's Cooking with Ruthie and Your Homebased Mom.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Master bedrooom redo {drab to fab, part 3}

Hi! Welcome back to more of our master bedroom redo.

Remember the little lamp in part two, the one I thought I might like to update with a red shade? I changed my mind. Here's what changed it for me:

In my last post, I shared my nectarine jam recipe. When I was getting ready to bottle that jam, I went looking for my boiling water canner. It was not in the garage where I left it so I headed down to the basement storage room. Before I found the canner, I found this lampshade. Immediately I thought, "That's IT!"

This lampshade came from Jeff's parent's house, and we *think it was made by his mom. It is made of Australian stamps from the 1950s and 60s. It's a mystery exactly where the stamps came from and who used them. Her father served a mission to New Zealand, but these stamps are after his time. It's a possibility that people he met there were writing to him and Mom saved the stamps. We don't know for sure.

Anyway, I love the lampshade and it fits perfectly with the gray and old elements of the room. Next up: the door-turned-headboard!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Nectarine Jam {an easy canning recipe}

Due to a slight obsession with nectarines in our family (okay, it's Jeff) we have a nectarine tree. This year it produced a pretty bountiful crop, unlike the cherry tree (which was piddly), the apricot tree (just enough to eat a few) and the peach tree (about a dozen).

The nectarine tree, the apple trees and the pear trees are stepping up to save us this year. The nectarines are ready now, so it's time to make some nectarine jam!

This recipe is not hard. In case you didn't know, you don't have to peel nectarines to make jam with them, which makes them my fave over peaches any day because I hate despise would rather not spend time peeling the peaches.This recipe uses organic sugar (unrefined) but feel free to use regular white sugar if you wish. They are interchangeable. **Be sure to measure everything exactly, or you will end up with jam that won't set, or jam that sets too hard. Trust me, I learned from experience.

Nectarine Jam {this recipe fills 8 half-pint jars}
4 1/2 cups finely chopped nectarines (about 12 medium nectarines)
2 T. bottled lemon juice
1 box pectin (I prefer Sure-Jell) *Don't use low-sugar pectin for this recipe!
6 cups of organic sugar or regular white sugar

Wash, pit and finely chop the nectarines--I just run them through a chopper. Measure chopped nectarines to get exactly 4 1/2 cups. Pour into a large 6 qt. sauce pot--you will want this much space for when it comes to a full boil. Stir in the lemon juice, and then whisk in the pectin all at once. Bring to a full, roiling boil over high heat. Pour in sugar all at once and whisk in until incorporated. If you like, add 1/2 tsp of butter at this point to reduce foaming. Return to another full, rolling boil (this takes a few minutes) and then boil for exactly one minute. At this point, you can skim the foam off but I never bother to unless there's a lot. Ladle the jam into hot, clean jars and screw on hot bands and lids finger tight. Transfer immediately to a boiling water canner. The jars should be covered by at least an inch of water. If the water stops boiling when you add the jars, return it to boiling before starting your timer. At sea level, boil for 10 minutes. At my altitude (3,000 to 6,000 feet) boil for 20 minutes. Remove jars from canner and cool completely. Make sure they have sealed up within 24 hours. If they don't, refrigerate or reprocess. 

*A couple of tips that work for me:
Wash jars in hot soapy water and then transfer, still wet, to a cookie sheet. Set them in the oven at 250 degrees to keep them hot. Wash bands and lids, put in a deep oven-safe bowl, and cover with boiling water. Set the bowl in the oven with the jars. Be careful when ready for the jars to use hot pads--they are very hot.

If you have the time, run the jars through the dishwasher on "sanitize" and then plan to be ready for them before the drying cycle is complete so that they are hot. I usually just use my oven. 

Before screwing the lids on your jars of hot jam, use a wet paper towel to wipe off the rims and tops around your jars. If they have any jam drips on them, you run the risk of an improper seal and contamination. 

Do you can? What are your favorite tips? 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It's my I'm giving you a gift.

 Decorated birthday cake with five lit candles

Really I am.

Remember my favorite "proper romance," Edenbrooke? I wanna give away a copy to celebrate my birthday. No catch. Just enter to win by leaving me a comment below. See? How much easier could it be? No pinning a bunch of stuff to Pinterest (although that sometimes has its merits), no "liking" a bunch of other blogs you never read. Nope. Easy is the name of my game.

Just leave a comment telling me your favorite read. Or heck, just tell me happy birthday. It's all good!

Good luck!! You have one week to enter.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Save on fall fashions at eShakti!

Tipped trim Peter Pan collar dressThe new fall offerings have arrived at eShakti!
You can get this cute little number, the Tipped Trim peter pan collar dress.

Buttoned ponte knit skirtYou might choose this darling Buttoned Ponte knit skirt.
Ruffle cuffs ponte knit dressHow about this Ruffle cuffs ponte knit dress? Love the color.
Pleated plaid sheath dressHere is the Pleated Plaid sheath. It's only going to set you back $71.

Here's a refresher course on eShakti--they will customize any item for you. Raise or lower the hem, change the sleeves or alter the collar. They will also make your choice of item(s) to your own measurements. It's up to you, and they will ship it to you quick. You really can't go wrong. See this post to learn about my own experience with customizing my size at eShakti. Hint, it was positive. ;)

Right now and for a limited time, everything from the eShakti fall line is 20% off--don't miss your chance to customize your size with eShakti. You'll be glad you did.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Master bedroom redo {drab to fab, part 2} and Happy 25th Anniversary to us!

Yesterday Jeff and I marked 25 years (a quarter century!) of wedded bliss. Some people might say that with a little sarcasm, but I'm not. It really has been the best decision I've made.

Last week I told you we were going to give our master bedroom a little makeover. This isn't the best before shot--since I forgot to do one with the room exactly the way it was--but this shows you the plain white walls I was really tired of. In this shot, you can see Jeff working hard on prep work. You can also see crap stuff piled up on our bed. We probably got rid of a third of that stuff when we put our room back together!

In part one of "Drab to fab" I also showed you the paint chip of the color we chose (Montpelier Ashlar Gray). I think everyone knows that the chip isn't ever exactly the same when you actually put it up on the walls, so you have to take your time checking the light and making sure you get what you really want.

I got exactly what I really wanted!

This shot shows you how the color looks with the light on.

And this one shows you the difference with the light off. The gray picks up more of a khaki sort of look. I'm happy with them both.

The other big improvement is the curtains. A better "before" shot would have showed you the old (original to the house?) fabric vertical blinds that were there. UGH! They were an off-white color and didn't block any light at night. It was WAY past time for them to go bye-bye.

Improvements yet to be made? I'm thinking the lamp next to the bed needs a red shade. The dresser is an antique from Jeff's grandma's house--it's getting special treatment with a nice bottle of wood cleaner and then maybe a little bit of a shine-up. Then we have an old, paneled solid-wood door that we are thinking about using as a headboard. The wood color is very close to the dresser. What do you think?

**We used Valspar Ultra paint + primer in this room and in our girls' room redo, and we liked it. The pics show you that it really does cover in one coat. Note that Valspar doesn't know me from Adam. This is my own opinion of their product. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Girls' room update, Paper Name Banners & Don't miss the Stampin' Up First-Ever Warehouse Sale!

We've been on a paint kick this week, and Libby and Mia were the first to benefit.

We painted their room in Valspar Ultra paint + primer in Brushed Lavender. I really like it. In the collage above, you can see the difference lighting makes in the hue.

Libby and Mia also wanted some gray accents in the room. So we bought these ombre curtains to use instead of closet doors.

These are two Your Zone Crushed Ombre Curtain panels hung on a tension rod. The mirrored valance at the top is leftover from the mirrored closet doors that used to be in this room. They were here when we bought the house, but they were definitely not cut out for kids. They bit the dust awhile ago, but the mirrored valance hides the rod and ruffle at the top, and goes perfectly with the white to silver to charcoal color of the curtains. The girls love it!

I got the idea to make name banners for the girls out of Stampin' Up products I just happen to have floating around. The girls chose the papers and ribbon they wanted. We cut two sizes of triangles out of plain paper for a template. The two sizes are glued together with a glue stick. Mia's ribbon is grosgrain, which also glues nicely to paper with a crafting glue stick. Libby chose satin ribbon, and it doesn't like to glue so nicely, so we used brads to help attach her triangles to the ribbon.

To make a loop at each end, we threaded the ribbon through a button--up through one hole and down through the other, and then tied a knot on the other side, like so:

Mia chose light blue buttons from Stampin' Up, and Libby chose orange. To hang the banners, I used Command mini hooks in clear.

**If you like the Stampin' Up products you see and you are in the Salt Lake City area, don't miss the big Stampin' Up warehouse sale going today and tomorrow (9/6 to 9/7) at the South Town Expo Center. This is their first-ever warehouse sale. The best part is you save up to 70% off! {Note that my hubby doesn't work there anymore, so I'm just telling you this so you can grab a great deal if you're so inclined. :) }

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

From drab to fab

Hey there. How are you  my friend?

Today I'm talking about my house. Specifically the abundance of white walls. We're talking bright, plain-old-piece-of-paper white. When we bought it 11+ years ago, EVERY wall was white. We lived with it for awhile, and then I started changing some of them. The master bathroom is a light sage green, the laundry is a colonial blue, some of the kitchen is suede and some chocolate kiss. Sarah's room is a sea blue/green, and Nicole's is a very light lime green.

But everything else is still stark white and I'm sick of it.

I decided awhile ago that I wanted gray walls. Mind you, gray comes in lots of shades so it took me awhile to figure out what type of gray. And I had one other obstacle--my husband said he didn't like it. :(

Did I let that deter me? Not really. :) I kept talking about it ever-so-often, just enough that he knew I hadn't given up. Then one day, we went to a see a big fancy home in a home show, and guess what?

Every room in this fancy new house was GRAY. Beautiful shades of gray. And in every room, another color was added to play off the gray. I LOVED it! (You know how wives can sometimes feel a little vindicated in situations like this? Ahem).  What's more, Jeff actually began to go along with me.

So now we have finally agreed upon some nice shades of gray for the living room and main hallway, master bedroom, and main bathroom. See that Woodlawn Colonial Gray in front of the pic? That's going in the living room, hallway, and stairway to the basement. The one behind it is Urban Sunrise, and that is going in the main bath. The color to the right of Woodlawn Colonial Gray is Montpelier Ashlar Gray, and that will be in our master bedroom. All of these colors are in Valspar's Ultra paint + primer.

As we go along, I will post some before and after pics, especially of the main bath. That room is pretty much going to be gutted. We promised Elder Jake that he won't come home to a different house, but he is going to  come home to a changed house. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps

These wraps are pretty easy to make and taste sooo good! I found the original recipe over at Mel's Kitchen Cafe and adapted them a little. I made some both with and without sour cream inside because some of my kids claim to despise sour cream, but you know what? Everyone liked the wraps with sour cream best, so I suggest adding it even if you don't like sour cream. It does add a little creaminess that is really yummy.

Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

1 package of 10 burrito-sized tortillas
1 rotisserie chicken, removed from the bones and shredded (I used one from Costco)
2 cups cooked, hot rice
1 can black beans, drained
1/2 bunch of cilantro, washed and finely chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 t. chili powder
1 1/2 t. cumin
1 t. garlic salt
the juice of 2 limes
2 cups Colby Jack cheese
reduced-fat sour cream 

Mix hot rice together with the spices, cilantro and lime juice. Add beans, chicken and green onion. Spread each tortilla lightly with sour cream and sprinkle lightly with shredded cheese. Spread about 1/3 cup of rice mixture down the center of each tortilla and roll up. Spray the edge of the tortilla with non-stick spray before rolling completely to help seal the edge. Place seam side down on a hot griddle and cook for approximately two minutes. Turn over and brown the other side. Serve warm.

**My kids suggested that the next time I make these I should also make some Cafe Rio tomatillo dressing to dip them in. I think this is a fantastic idea.**