Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Cake

Last night a friend posted this recipe on Facebook and I had a pan in the oven before we sat down to dinner.

Here's the recipe:
3 c. flour
1/4 tsp.salt
1 c. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. milk
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. butter, melted

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

Mix everything together except for the butter. Slowly stir in the melted butter and pour into a greased 9x13 pan. For the topping, mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Drop evenly over the batter and swirl with a knife. Bake at 350 for 28-32 minutes.

2 c. powdered sugar
5 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

While warm drizzle the glaze over the cake.
Ready to go into the oven.
Before the first bite.
The only changes I made were to reduce the butter in the topping to only (cough, cough) one stick instead of two, and to use white whole wheat flour. I think the cake could use less butter, too.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why I love living in the southwest

In February!

Monday, February 27, 2012

My garden is growing!

Nine days ago I planted the cool weather part of my garden using the seed tapes I made a few weeks ago. Today I noticed the first seedlings are up!

These are beets:
And this is spinach:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stake Choir

We have a great conductor and an enthusiastic choir of about 75 voices assembled for stake conference next weekend. Stake conference is when 8-12 LDS wards (congregations) meet. It's twice a year and always has excellent music. Our next stake conference is next weekend and I'm in the choir again. It's by invitation and there aren't enough invitations for everyone who wants to sing, so I'm always glad when I'm asked.

The three pieces focus on testimony and missionary work, two important themes in the LDS Church. In addition, the first is what I call a "Zion" piece and it's fast and upbeat and my favorite:
Next is another upbeat piece with a Zion feel to it and a focus on missionary work:
This the front page of the last which is a sweet hymn expressing the elements of a testimony of God and Jesus Christ:
In addition there will be two congregational hymns. Five hymns in two hours--I'll be in heaven!

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Italian sausage soup

Tuesday: Pioneer Woman's pintos and cornbread

Wednesday: General Tso's chicken, fried rice

Thursday: Purchased macaroni and cheese from the freezer, vegetables/fruit

Friday: Pizza

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A baptism today

This is an artist's painting of the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist. It's on the front of the program for a baptism I attended today. The husband was baptized last year and their son was baptized a month ago when he turned eight years old (Mormons believe in choosing baptism at age eight or older). Today the wife was baptized and she was very sweet. Her family and friends were very happy for her and so am I.

If you have ever wondered about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Mormon missionaries, check out this link. The missionaries are not weird or scary--I promise! My son is a missionary in Brazil and he is about as fun and smart a kid as you would ever find.

Link to the Bible verses that tell about Christ's baptism.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lazy chickens

It's a warm day here, so the chickens are taking a breather in the shade of the back fence. There also happens to be a flower bed with nice soft composty dirt in it, just the kind made for a dust bath. Three of the girls were rolling around in it, kicking dirt up into their feathers.
Here they are settled down a little.
None of that for Toek.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I'm so lonely {weird story}

Where is my mate??
Two days ago I got out of the shower and realized I had only one of my 1/3 ct. diamond earrings. Such a horrible feeling. I looked in my bed and found the back to it, and because I was in a hurry, I decided to look for the earring itself later. That evening I looked and the next day I looked more. Dh is an expert at finding lost things and I was pretty sure he would find it for me and I offered a monetary reward as well. Dh didn't get too excited about $5, but the girls did! LOL

But . . .

No earring. I'm guessing a replacement is about $500-800 and since these are an unusual setting and more than 20 years old, probably can't be replaced unless it's custom made. Boo hoo.

My camera is out of batteries, so I'm reduced to using my scanner, so I put my earring in to scan.

While it was scanning I glanced down and saw the back to one of the girls' earrings next to the desk leg.

Except . . . it wasn't an earring back, it was my other lost earring!!! I am so happy I could jump up and down!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I visited my old friend today

Yes, I went shopping at Fry's. Since starting the Pantry Challenge in early January (shop your pantry first and see what you can make from it before shopping the grocery store), I have hardly gone shopping except for milk and some canned goods on a steep discount a few weeks ago. I have a big stockpile of food. It's not really a challenge to eat from my pantry. :-)

Oh, a shout out for a new-to-me product: Sunbird Bourbon Chicken packet. I tried it because with a coupon it was FREE, but it was so delicious (and my family actually liked it too) I'd pay cash money for it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras treat

No, I'm not Catholic nor am I in New Orleans, but how could I pass up a chance to celebrate with some food? Today I made King Cake, which is actually more like a cinnamon roll ring than a cake. I used this recipe, but don't look because you'll see how beautiful theirs is in the picture!

I made the dough in my bread machine but had to add quite a bit more flour. Otherwise I'd have had to pour the dough out of the bread pan. After rolling it out, putting cinnamon sugar on half, folding, crimping, and cutting in three pieces, I braided it. That's some of the cinnamon sugar you can see there at the bottom of the picture.
While it was baking, Caroline made three bowls of colored sugar and once it was out and iced, I sprinkled the colors on. Next time I must move faster though--in our ultra-dry air, some of the icing set up before I got all the sugar on!
And last of all, I put a small plastic baby into the King cake. Whoever finds it gets good luck for the coming year.

Monday, February 20, 2012


General Mills sent me a sample of Dulce de Leche Cheerios and it's delicious! I love caramel and this cereal tastes like caramel Cheerios. It's crunchy and pretty sweet, so if you are watching your sugar intake--beware!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Cheesy Potato Soup with added broccoli (sounds like broccoli cheese soup, doesn't it?)

Tuesday: Chili pie, vegetables

Wednesday: Creamy Chicken and Rigatoni

Thursday: Leftover buffet

Friday: Pizza

Homemade seed tapes

A week or two ago I made seed tapes with seeds of spinach, kale, and beets. Here is how I did it:
I pulled off toilet paper and folded it up, then cut it lenghthwise in thirds. On each long piece I put drops of white glue as far apart as the seed package said for planting, then put a seed or two on each dot. The tape with two seeds per dot used older seeds and I was trying to ensure something would sprout from each set. I'll thin the seedlings if necessary.

I kept lifting each tape periodically so it didn't stick to the counter as it dried. Once dry, I rolled each tape loosely and put it in a bag until planting time.

This post is linked up at:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The last day of basketball

Today was the third and final day of Caroline's basketball tournament. The children have been practicing and playing games against local schools since December.

She didn't know she was being Rockyesque.
Waiting for the game to start.
C for Caroline!

Friday, February 17, 2012

A quick trip to Mexico

Today dh had a follow up visit to his dentist in Mexico and Caroline had a consultation for orthodontia. Here are a few pictures of interesting things we saw.

Pretty painted houses just over the border.
A sign with "International Border" on it always excites me.
If you look at the gray band on the mountain in the distance you are looking at the actual border.
Caroline waiting sort of patiently for the orthodontist. He was pretty late, but this is Mexico and I don't think schedules run the same as they do in the United States.
We are so accustomed to every.single.thing in the US being made idiot-proof that the sight of dozens of holes like right in the middle of the sidewalk was kind of surprising and definitely made me pay attention to where I was walking.
And I'm thinking this wiring might not pass code either.
We walked across the border, so while we were waiting in line to come back into the USA dh noticed this sign. We are pretty sure they have no idea there is a problem.
The close cars are going into Mexico and the far ones are going into the United States.
Heading into Mexico if you drive instead of walk.
Look closely and you can see a tail in this picture. About 20 miles north of the border there is a Border Patrol checkpoint where everyone has to slow down or stop and get a nod from the agent before continuing northward. One of the agents had a very energetic shepherd/retriever/?? on a leash who was obviously trained to sniff for drugs. They zipped back and forth between cars with the dog sniffing the left front wheel well of most of the cars and nearly all of them while the car was still rolling forward! It was very entertaining while we waited the 3 or 4 minutes to get our nod.
It was a pleasant trip and Caroline REALLY enjoyed having dh and me all to herself for the day.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Velveteen Rabbit

Caroline and Elizabeth's class is reading the story of the Velveteen Rabbit, so each child was encouraged to bring his or her favorite stuffed animal to school today. This is Caroline's Cuddles and after I took this picture she made Cuddles a new dress out of fabric left over from one of the girls' dresses. So today Cuddles and Caroline wore dresses made of the same fabric. They were very cute.

Elizabeth brought her brown stuffed dog named Brownie. Not as much affection was shown toward Brownie today as there was toward Cuddles.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lucky me!

Look what dh's Valentine surprise to me was!

It's silver with a small 18 kt gold heart with 6 tiny diamonds inside it, one for each of my children. I love it because it's pretty and modern and feminine and because my sweet dh gave it to me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A little treat for my visiting teaching ladies . . . and my hubby

Yesterday I made ganache and today I made truffles from it. Then I packaged the truffles up with some dark chocolate-covered almonds and played Cupid, delivering them to some of my visiting teaching ladies. Last stop was dh's office and he was quite pleased. :-)

Monday, February 13, 2012

See the difference?

On the left is one of my oldest Kerr pint canning jars and on the right is one of my newest. The old one is very square and the glass is so thick my canning funnel doesn't fit down into it all the way. The new jar is thinner and rounded and doesn't interest me nearly as much!
By the way, I think the reason I have always preferred Kerr jars over Ball jars is because 1) my mom always used Kerr jars and 2) my name starts with a K and I loved to look at the pretty K on jars of fruit on the table when I was a child.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday snooze

Caroline was a little sleepy so she set herself up right fine, don't you think?

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Spanish Eggplant from the freezer over rice

Tuesday: Valentine's Day Baked Zucchini Parmesan

Wednesday: Chicken with Mediterranean Vegetables

Thursday: Slow Cooker Turkey and Brown Rice Chili

Friday: Pizza

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Market on the Move

Here in Arizona we have an unusual situation. Fresh produce is trucked up from Mexico and is inspected in Nogales, Arizona. Sometimes for one reason or another, the produce does not continue on its journey north. It might have started to go bad, it might be too dirty or have scratches on the surface of the produce, or the trucking schedules might not be set to pick it up. When the warehouse is full and another load is on its way, the warehouse will take the produce to the landfull. About two full trailer loads get dumped every day.

Market on the Move is sponsored by a group called The 3000 Club. Each week three trucks pick up this donated produce and bring it to rotating sites in Tucson and Phoenix. For a $10 donation, people can choose up to 60 pounds of produce. The rest goes to food banks. This is a tiny fraction of what I brought home today:
I brought home:

25 lbs of Roma tomatoes
6 large salad tomatoes
3 quarts of grape tomatoes
1 basket of cherry tomatoes
2 kinds of hot peppers
10 green bell peppers
8 red bell peppers
10 zucchini
10 yellow squash
13 small ears of corn
5 eggplants

The Roma tomatoes turned into 13 pints of diced tomatoes and 9 pints of salsa, along with some of the peppers.

The eggplant and more bell peppers turned into a Spanish eggplant dish for the freezer. You'll see that on the menu a couple of times over the next month or two.

Tomorrow some of the zucchinis will find their way into zucchini muffins for the freezer for our regular Monday muffin breakfasts.

We gave away a lot of the produce to our neighbor and a friend who provides us with delicious bakery bread for free every 2 weeks.

It was a busy day, but I'm feeling very satisfied.

Friday, February 10, 2012

That's what *I'd* like for breakfast too

Elizabeth saw this bag sitting near the computer. "Oh, Mom, I'll just have a bowl of that for breakfast."
Me too.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

First offer of the year . . .

. . . for our very humble travel trailer. We typically get two or three offers a year to sell our trailer to someone who stops by the door or pauses in the street while we're outside. Today it was a young man with Elvis hair in a big pick up truck. Thanks, but no. What would dh live in during his next hunting trip? (gwp, you are still invited)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Diet "hot chocolate"

I'm a hot chocolate drinker. Hot chocolate has lots of calories. I'm still 18 pounds away from my goal weight, so I don't drink real hot chocolate on a regular basis anymore. Instead THIS is what I drink!
Yes, that's all there is. I use 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon of powdered creamer and that's it. No sugar, no milk. Only 20 calories, which is considered a "free food" according to NutriSystem and I can have 3 of those free foods a day. It's surprising how good my new hot chocolate tastes to me these days!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I'm not very happy

Thanks to my washing my cell phone with my clothes on Monday, I am the owner of a new phone. Notice I didn't say "proud owner of a new phone"? My old phone was plain Jane basic and small. Small was important because I don't carry a purse and I liked putting it in my pocket or other places on my body. However, cheap was also important, so I bought the phone for my plan at Target that was the cheapest.
Take a look at the size difference. Can you see why I'm unhappy?
Someone please tell me how happy I'm going to be with a QWERTY phone though, okay?