Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Week Odds n' Ends

Happy Halloween!! How do you say "Halloween?" HAL-oween? or Haul-o-ween? I find myself saying Haul-o-ween this year. Don't know why, other than it sounds kinda cool.

When your missionary son emails you and says, "I could really use some homemade pumpkin cookies," what do you do? Make them. And then you ship them off in a hurry before transfers hit next week.

These are your basic 1-spice cake mix, 1-15 oz. can of pumpkin, and chocolate chips recipe. Pretty easy. If you have a better one, leave me a link or something because I'd love to try it out!


We have a Van Gogh in the family. If you've read much of my blog, you know about Jared's love of working with his hands, so we shouldn't be surprised. This is Jared's completed assignment for his painting class at the high school. The assignment was to paint a picture in the style of Van Gogh, and then add a crazy element. I LOVE that he added Superman, and he did a dang good job of it, too! Oh yeah, he earned an A!

Last, but certainly not least, is the sweet little note Libby wrote and stuck in with her brother's cookies. She stuck a creepy clown pen in, too, because she swears that Jake doesn't like clowns. As you can see, the clown pen doesn't even work, but that didn't stop her.

Stay safe tonight in your tricking and treating!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pumpkin Muffins


Muffin tops are the best, right?!

When I was younger, I never just pulled the whole top off in one piece. I would drive my mom crazy by "picking" at it and tearing off little bits of the top and eating them one by one. She would say, "Stop picking at your muffin and just eat it!" Well, I was eating it. In my own little way. :)

Here's a good muffin recipe for these cool, autumn, all-things-pumpkin days.

Pumpkin Muffins
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

1 2/3 c. all purpose flour (or 1 c. all purpose & 2/3 c. whole wheat)
1 c. sugar
2 t. cinnamon
3/4 t. ginger
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cloves
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
3 eggs
1 c. canned pumpkin
1 cube of butter, almost fully melted

Preheat oven to 350 and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk together all dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, and butter. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until all the flour is blended in. Fill muffin cups (these are large muffins). Bake in preheated oven for 22-25 minutes or until the tops just spring back when touched lightly with your finger. Careful not to overbake! Remove from oven and let cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Diamond Candles--a ring in every candle!

One day I got an email about Diamond Candles, a product I'd never heard of before.

If you haven't heard of them, then trust me. It's your lucky day. Especially if you love all-natural soy candles in a variety of great scents! Not to mention rings!

Yes, there really is a ring in every candle, worth at least $10 and up to $5000.00 dollars. That's not a typo. 5k dolares, peeps. (Did I ever tell you I could have minored in Spanish in college? Well, I still remember a few words haha).
So last week I got a Cranberry Chutney candle in the mail. Smells soo yummy. I burned it for about two hours and then I was able to get the ring out. Your ring will be near the top, double-wrapped in a tiny ziploc bag and then gold foil. (No wax gets in there). This is the ring I found in mine. It's probably a $10 ring, but I don't care. It's pretty and I like it.

Diamond Candles are good-sized at 21 ounces, so it's going to last a while. At $24.95 with at least a $10 ring inside, it seems like a pretty reasonable deal to me. Plus, it's so much more fun than a regular candle! If you're going to burn scented candles anyway, they might as well have a surprise ring inside!

Scents include such yummies as Vanilla Lime, Pumpkin Chai, Cinnamon Tea, Birthday Cake, Pomegranate Lemonade, Misty Dawn and Lavender Lemon. And these are just a few. 

Right now, you can order a Candy Corn candle for a special deal--$14.95! Go to www.diamondcandles.com to order yours.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Book Review: My Story by Elizabeth Smart {with Chris Stewart}


Okay, I read Elizabeth Smart's new book.

Part of me wasn't sure about doing so. After all, some terrible things happened to her during her 9-month captivity by Mitchell and Barzee. I reasoned that most of what happened to her has already been in the news, and I was right. There weren't too many more details about what Mitchell and Barzee did to her, but there are more details about how she survived. It's not an easy read but it's a quick read because it sucks you in! It's a remarkable story, and the good in it made it easier.

There are more details about the first hours of Elizabeth's captivity--how she was thisclose to being spotted by a policeman just minutes after leaving her backyard, and the hours-long, arduous climb into the mountains to reach the remote camp her captors had set up to hide her. There are more details about what Elizabeth's daily life was like--constant threats, the mind-numbing boredom and the thirst and starvation she experienced.

To counteract all this, there are the little things Elizabeth did to survive it all. There are also all the many, many ways in which God helped her to keep going--the tender mercies, outright miracles, and the presence of her recently deceased grandfather, whose spirit she could definitely feel watching over her.

What I really wanted to know more about was how Elizabeth managed to heal after such a hellish experience? She gives the reader insights into the process of her recovery in the decade since her return--including her Mormon faith, her love of horses and the advice of her mother, Lois.

This is nothing short of a remarkable look at a very admirable young woman.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fall break: A beautiful world, sisterly love and Apple Pie

Apples from my tree and a leaf from my Silver Maple. #nofilter

Fall is the favorite season of so many of us. For good reason! We live in such a beautiful world.

I think one reason my kids love fall is because they get Fall Break.

This means that we have Nicole home from college for the weekend. This is such a cute shot of my oldest and my youngest, who was extremely excited to have her big sister come home. They camped out on the sofa like this, talking and laughing, for quite awhile. Love.

Fall is also birthday time! First for me (in September) and then Jeff yesterday. He prefers pie over cake, so part of my day yesterday was spent making apple pies, his fave.



I don't think I've posted my apple pie recipe before, so here you go!

Apple Pie
prepared pie crust for a 9-in double-crust pie
8 medium to large Golden Delicious apples
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. flour
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 t. salt
2 T. butter, in small peices

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
Peel, core and slice apples into a large bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent browning. Add flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Using a large spatula or wooden spoon, toss apple slices to evenly coat with flour, sugar and spices. Let stand 10 minutes.

Pour apples into a prepared 9-inch pie crust. Dot evenly with butter pieces. Cover with top crust and seal edges well. Cut vents in top crust. Rub crust with a little milk and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake in preheated oven for about 45 minutes. If your oven has any hot spots, rotate the pie halfway through cooking time to reduce uneven browning of the crust.  Cool before serving. Refrigerate any leftovers. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Happy Birthday to the Hubs

Pic taken by me after the Ogden Marathon, May 2013
Happy Birthday to the best person I know. 

{For real.}

I'm not going to bore you with the details, but just know that he's my favorite person in the world, for lots of reasons, and I hope he has the best birthday ever!  

I'll also point out that we're 11 months apart in age, so he's older than me once again. :)

It also means that I have some pie making ahead of me today. See this link for the pie I made last year, the Swiss Apple pie we love. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Love. Want. NEED!

Gotta keep my wants and needs straight, you know.

I went shopping at Costco today. I needed a sweater for Elder Jake and a wedding gift for a young man from our neighborhood. I found a couple things that I could just DIE over.

Too bad it's not my wedding, but that already happened.

First, these darling mugs. I DID die when I saw these.

Who doesn't want to have hot cocoa or soup or whatever out of one of these mugs in the morning?! (Probably a guy, that's who. So I didn't buy these for the happy couple). But seriously, they are happiness to me just looking at them.

This is what I did buy:


This 3-piece baking set also comes in red and mustard colors! I need this for Thanksgiving.

Thanks to my practical side, I did not buy anything for myself. I'm pretty boring that way. Watch, though. I'll get told by the hubs to go get them if I'd like to, and when I do they will all be gone. You'd think I'd learn by now....

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup--Updated with an adaption for your slow cooker!

This is one of our family's favorite recipes--and now I have added an adaptation for your slow cooker.

This is a recipe that has evolved. It started with a recipe from a neighborhood cookbook, and I have changed it to suit my tastes and my family's tastes. Made it last night and it really hit the spot, so I decided to share. Hope you enjoy!

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

6 cups of water
6 chicken bouillon cubes
2 cups fresh baby carrots or frozen sliced carrots
2 large stalks of celery, sliced
scant 1/4 cup dry minced onion
2-3 large chicken breasts, cooked and diced
2 cans cream of chicken soup (also good with 1 can cream of chicken and 1 can cream of celery)
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
3-4 cups wide egg noodles, uncooked, depending on the amount of noodles you like
salt & pepper to taste

Bring water and bouillon cubes to a boil and add the carrots, celery and onion. Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until carrots are just tender. Whisk in the soups and the evaporated milk until smooth. Return to a simmer and add the dry noodles. Cover and simmer another 5 minutes, or until the noodles are just tender, with a little bit of bite still left to them. (Doing it this way gives a lot of taste to the noodles, as opposed to adding cooked noodles to the soup). Stir in the cooked chicken, salt & pepper. Heat through.

**Slow Cooker adaptation:
Place two frozen chicken breasts in the bottom of slow cooker. Add sliced carrots and celery, bouillon cubes, onion, pepper and some dried parsley. Pour 5 cups water over everything. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low 6-8. Remove chicken breasts and cut up or shred. In a small bowl, mix together cream soups and evaporated milk. Stir into the broth in the slow cooker. Add chicken back in and cook for another 30-60 minutes or until heated through. Stir in cooked egg noodles and salt & pepper to taste. Serve.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Things I'm happy about today--including Fudgy One-bowl Brownies!

It's Monday, and I'm going to say it. Happy Monday!

Even though I don't get to hear from my missionary son today (tomorrow instead) it's still a great day. Bright and early, I went outside and spied this while walking through my backyard.

So perfect and pretty. I just love fall leaves!

I'm also happy about my yard. Last week I showed you how Jeff had cut down a big pine tree that used to be in front of our house. Saturday, we got the yard all cleaned up from that, plus he mowed the lawn for probably the last time.

I love it. The sun was out for most of the day! Gotta be happy about that.

To top it all off, I made brownies yesterday. Mormons fast one Sunday a month, usually the first one, but this month Fast Sunday was yesterday. In my estimation, no better way to break a fast than with some especially yummy food (a pot roast or some steaks) followed by homemade brownies for dessert.

I think I have perfected the recipe--and it's all right here in my head. Pardon me while I write it down for you. Enjoy!

2 cubes of butter
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
4 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional--if I have some I throw 'em in)

Preheat your oven to 350. Spray an 8x11 pan with non-stick spray.

Put the butter in a large microwave-safe bowl and melt on high for about 45 seconds. Stir in cocoa powder and chocolate chips until combined and chips are melted. Whisk in sugar until combined. Add eggs, vanilla and salt and whisk until eggs are well incorporated. Stir in flour. Spread batter in pan and bake for 35-38 minutes or until the center is set and a pick inserted in the center shows moist crumbs. Cool on a wire rack and then cover with foil until ready to serve.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Slow Cooker (Spicier) Apple Butter

I love apple butter.

So cold or no cold (which is getting better by the way) I decided to make some Slow Cooker Apple Butter yesterday. And I could actually smell it too, so that's a good sign.

There are lots of versions of this out there. This is mine. I like more spice to it than other recipes I've seen. Easy and yummy, and your house will smell great while it cooks!  

Slow Cooker Apple Butter
For a 5 quart crockpot:
Peel, core and slice enough apples to fill the crock 3/4 full. For me, this was about 16 small-to-medium sized Golden Delicious apples.

Over the apples, sprinkle 2 T. of lemon juice, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 2 heaping T. cinnamon, 1 t. nutmeg, and 1/2 t. cloves. Pour in 1/2 cup of apple juice or cider. Mix to coat apples.

Put the lid on your slow cooker and cook all day on low, or 4-5 hours on high. Use a potato masher to mash up the apples. Enjoy it a little chunky or run it through your blender once it has cooled down.

Makes about 2-3 pints, and can be frozen for later use.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Easy Raspberry Cream Cake

This is a delicious cake that is a little more diabetic friendly than a typical frosted cake. It is so, so easy! (Some days I need my own "Easy Button" like they have in those Staples commercials).

Step One: Go to the nearest grocer's and purchase an angel food cake. You could make your own if you really want, and I've done that before, but that would take away some of the easy part of this recipe. Also pick up a 12 oz. carton of Cool Whip and some unsweetened frozen raspberries (about a 10 oz. bag).

Step Two: Dump the raspberries in a bowl, stir in 2-3 tablespoons of sugar, and let them sit until softened and juicy. Thaw the Cool Whip.

Step Three: Cut the angel food in half horizontally, so you now have two rounds.



Step Four: Lay the bottom round on a serving plate (silver plate shown came from All A Dollar!) and hollow out a small channel in the center of the round. This channel will help keep the raspberries in the middle of the two layers. Cover the channel with a thin layer of thawed Cool Whip. Fill with half of the raspberries and juice. Cover with top round of angel food. Begin covering the outside of the cake with Cool Whip. Some raspberry juice will leak out. No problem. Let it leak!

Step Five: Use the Cool Whip to form a well around the top of the cake and fill that well and then the center hole of the cake with the rest of the raspberries and juice. Any juice that runs to the bottom and pools on the serving plate will be soaked up by the cake, so again, no worries.



Step Six: Cover the raspberries on top with Cool Whip, and then add more Cool Whip to the outside edges, swirling it with any juice. This makes the Cool Whip look pink.

Step Seven (final step!): Put Cool Whip into the center hole, sealing up the cake edges so they don't show, as shown above. Give the cake a final once over, swirling the Cool Whip with the spatula and making it look however you'd like. I like the swirly look. Put the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve, preferably at least a couple of hours to solidify it. Then slice and enjoy! Serves 8.


*Note: Typically I use real whipped cream instead of Cool Whip in my recipes, but I found with this recipe that the Cool Whip was better at holding everything together, especially when the cake was cut. Feel free to try it with real cream, but I would whip it pretty stiff for more stability. The Cool Whip also will not start to separate like whipped cream does.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The "Devil Cold."

This was me yesterday afternoon--right about 12:30 on the nose.
 Like a ton of bricks I tell you. Fever, stomachache, aches all over. By bedtime I felt a little better but I was so stuffed up I couldn't breathe.

This is me today:
Stuffy, sneezing my head off, coughing some. At least I feel better than yesterday afternoon!

Sarah tells me this is what's going around her school right now. She says it's called the "Devil Cold."

I would have to say I agree with that name. Funny how I don't go to her school--yet I catch it first. ??

NyQuil and DayQuil are my friends.  ACHOO!!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Weekend round up. How was yours?

We had a great weekend around here. How 'bout you?

Thursday night, Jeff whipped out his trusty new steed chainsaw and went to town on what was formerly not-so-lovingly referred to as "The Mushroom Tree" in our front yard.

The mushroom tree was a pine tree that was funny on top--not pointy and nice--rounded and weird. The whole thing was kind of bulky. Hence the name "Mushroom Tree." He came home from work, ate dinner, changed clothes and announced, "I'm cutting down the mushroom tree."

I admit to being a little nervous about this. The tree was not small. It stood 15 feet from our house. But, the man is not inexperienced when it comes to taking down trees he can't live with, so I held my breath until it came down safely.

Amazingly, Jeff and Jared got this thing all limbed by Saturday morning at 10 am--when LDS General Conference starts. We watched the first session, and then they got everything cut up and stacked for hauling away before the afternoon session at 2pm.
When he got into the tree while he was cutting off the limbs, Jeff found out why the tree was so funny. The nice straight trunk you see in the first pic went up like that until about 5 feet from the top, and then it suddenly splayed off into 5 different little trunks, causing the funny rounded top. Don't know why that happened--did wind or something else break the top when it was young? We'll never know.

We are going to have the stump dug up, and then we will plant a couple of maple trees in its place.

The best part of the weekend was conference. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 1st counselor in the First Presidency of the church, spoke about doubt and faith. This was a talk that a lot of members felt was overdue. One thing he said was, "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith." He also said, "We must not allow our doubts to hold us prisoner." The beauty of the church is that it is NOT full of people who have never doubted--quite the opposite. Here is what President Uchtdorf said about that:


Doubts vs. faith, whatever you choose to call it and however you deal with it, it all goes back to free agency. We all have the right to choose whether we put our energies into our doubts
or whether we put our energies into our faith. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

TBT: T1D vs. T2D {or why Jared can't just take a pill}

{Blood sugar testing--one of only two ways in which Type I diabetes is like Type II diabetes}

I need to share more of what I have learned as a mom of a Type I diabetic. Don't get me wrong, I don't consider myself an expert by any means, but I have learned some things after 11+ years of living with it that someone might find beneficial. If I had found a blog by another diabetes mom when Jared was first diagnosed, I'd have read that blog every day!

One question I've been asked many, many times is why Jared can't just take a pill? Another question I've been asked a lot is whether he's going to grow out of it? I realize that these questions come from people being much more aware of Type II diabetes than they are about Type I.

There are basically two ways in which Type I and Type II are similar:

1. They both affect blood sugar.
2. Blood glucose meters (like the one pictured above) are needed by both types.

That's about it. Type 1 is generally contracted by younger people, hence the former name "Juvenile Diabetes." Type II is generally found in older people, although you have probably seen stories in the news lately about more overweight children being diagnosed with Type II. Type II is caused by the fact that the body's cells are unable to use the insulin that the body is making to lower the blood sugar.

Type I is very different, because it is an autoimmune disorder. The body of a Type I diabetic does not make insulin--the body's immune system has destroyed the cells in the pancreas that used to produce insulin. This means that insulin must be injected into the body to control blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. It also means that Jared won't grow out of it, because the body can't remake those insulin-producing cells. (Oh, how we wish it could!) Insulin cannot be given in a pill form because the stomach acid would break it down and destroy it before it could be used. Bottom line: without insulin, a Type I diabetic will go into diabetic coma and die. (See this post about our last scary experience with lack of insulin).

Type II diabetics CAN take pills to control blood sugar. This is a drug that helps the body's cells to use the insulin that is already present. Once in awhile, a Type II diabetic whose blood sugar is not controlled well with a pill will be prescribed insulin shots, just to increase the amount of insulin available, but their life does not depend on it like a Type I diabetic does.

There you have it in a nutshell. Anything else you want to know, such as how did/do we handle Easter, Halloween, and other "sugar rich" holidays with a diabetic? Let me know and I'll post about it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Apple Spice Muffins

Hi!

Yesterday I told you that I had about 1 1/2 cups of apple pie filling left after making Apple Pie Crescents. This is what I did with the leftover filling.

I took my basic Chocolate Chip Muffins recipe, minus the chocolate chips and sour cream, added some cinnamon, reduced the vanilla and folded in the apple pie filling. The filling had been refrigerated for several hours, so it had juiced up considerably since I had made the crescents. As always, my family were the judges and everyone liked the results.

Apple Spice Muffins

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
1/2 t. vanilla
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups apple pie filling (or chopped apples tossed in flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 16 muffin cups with paper liners.

Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk together. Make a well in the center and stir in milk, oil, vanilla and egg until all the flour is incorporated. Fold in apple pie filling. Spoon into muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown, and the tops spring back when touched with your finger. Cool in pan 3-5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.