Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Morning in the Kitchen: Easy Summer Fruit Salad

This is so easy to make, I almost hate to call it a recipe.

Easy Summer Fruit Salad

1/2 cantaloupe, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 pint blueberries
1 pint raspberries
1 small box instant pudding, made according to directions on box

Combine all ingredients and enjoy!
Variations:  Use different combinations and/or proportions of fruit.  Use yogurt or a powdered sugar glaze instead of the pudding.
 Thanks for seasonal fruit.


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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Musings of the Spirit: Mormon Curiousity?

Have you ever been curious about something, but didn't want to ask about it for fear of appearing ignorant, somehow offending, or being met with an all-too-enthusiastic answer? 

Certain topics, particularly religion and politics, seem to elicit that response more than others. 

In case you ever wondered about Mormons, here is a great info-graphic that gives an overview:



It seems that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is frequently in the news lately.  Some of the reports are well-researched and respectfully written; others show a lack of knowledge, or do not accurately reflect Mormon beliefs.  Click Mormonism FAQ to learn more about the beliefs of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.   

Now it's my turn to be curious:  Did the infographic or link provide information you didn't know before?  And, are your religious views ever misunderstood, and what would you like to clarify?
Thanks for freedom of religion, and open, respectful communication.


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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: Sporadic Posts Ahead!

As you are probably aware, my oldest child is getting married in August.  While I think I have prepared fairly well, I find myself with a to-do list that is demanding most of my attention.  I love blogging, and I've pre-written some upcoming posts.  However, if I miss a day here or there over the rest of the summer, do not be alarmed.  I am giving myself permission to put the blog on the back burner until September.

Posts may come sporadically until the Labor Day weekend is over, at which time, we will resume our regularly scheduled programming.  :-)



Enjoy your summer!

Thanks for understanding friends.


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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tuesday Time to Tackle: Creating Sleeve Lining

I always wear sleeves, but even some sleeves are a bit sheer for my liking.  Such was the case with a beautiful dress that John gave me for Mother's Day.  I had worn it, but couldn't quite decide if the sleeves were opaque enough or not.  I finally decided to try to line them, and was pleasantly surprised with the quickness and ease of the project.

First, I made a (really) rough paper pattern by following the shape of the sleeve, but adding in a bit for a seam allowance.


Next, I placed the top edge of the pattern on the fold of the lining fabric and cut out the lining.  I finished the rough edges of the fabric, then pinned and sewed the lining fabric to the armhole of the sleeve, stitching within the seam allowance.


To finish the project, I sewed up the bottom of the sleeve lining arm.  Easy peasy!  Now I can wear the dress in complete comfort.
Thanks for matching fabric, which just happened to be on sale.


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Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Morning in the Kitchen: Blueberry Zucchini Bread

Not too long ago, my blogging friend DeeAnn from Snippets 'N Stuff posted this recipe for Blueberry Zucchini Bread with Lemon Glaze.  Even the title made me drool.  I knew I had to try it.

I made just a few changes. 



Blueberry Zucchini Bread with Lemon-Buttermilk Glaze

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease bread pan.

Stir together:  2 c. flour, 3/4 c. sugar, 2 t. baking powder, 1/2 t. baking soda, 1 t. cinnamon, 1/2 t. salt, 2 t. dried lemon zest, and 2 t. milk powder.  You may omit the milk powder if you choose to use fresh (liquid) milk.

Add 1 c. shredded zucchini.

In a small bowl, combine 2/3 c. water (or milk, if you didn't use powdered), 1/3 c. melted butter, 1 egg, and 1 t. vanilla. Add liquid ingredients to flour mixture, and stir until combined.

Gently fold in 3/4 c. fresh or frozen blueberries.  Add dough to bread pan and bake for 55 minutes, or until done.

Let cool 10 minutes in pan.  While bread is cooling, mix together 1/4 c. powdered sugar, 1 T. lemon juice, and 1/4 t. buttermilk powder (or 1 t. fresh buttermilk).  After 10 minutes, remove bread from pan and brush glaze on top of warm bread. 


 Thanks for a bounteous harvest, and for friends who share recipes!


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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Musings of the Spirit: August Visiting Teaching

August's visiting teaching message is titled, "Taking Action in Time of Need".  I know that my visiting teachers helped my family immensely when I was on twenty weeks of bedrest during one of my pregnancies.  They helped with my other children, with meals, with cleaning, and they were there to listen to my fears.  They prayed for me and my baby, and visited me in the hospital. 

I used some of the words from the message to design a subway art styled handout.  If you'd like to use it, just right-click to copy.



Update:  In a terribly brave move on my part, I attempted to make another handout in Spanish.  Hopefully I picked the correct words out of the message in the Liahona.  Let me know if something doesn't make sense.



Thanks to the many wonderful visiting teachers I have had over the years!


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Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Family History: Covered Wagon Travel

As I've mentioned, youngest daughter soon will be pushing and pulling a handcart as she participates in an pioneer trek re-enactment.  I've been remembering the time four years ago when John and I participated as "Pa" and "Ma" for a similar trek.  And I've been thinking about the reality of handcart, or if one was lucky, covered wagon travel. 

I have a copy of a photo that I just love.  It speaks volumes. 


Now, this was probably taken around 1920,  long after the time of the Mormon pioneers crossing the plains to Utah.  We believe the toddler on the left is my grandpa.  The man behind him is my great-grandpa, and great-grandma is in the wagon.  I wish I knew more about the circumstances of this photo.  What was the occasion?  Are they actually relocating their household, or just out for a drive?  And who is the woman on the right, hands on hips, and not looking very happy? 

Remember to label your photos.  Even if a photo just shows a glimpse of mundane life, that ordinary life might be interesting a few years down the road.  Look at how much has changed in the last 100 years.  My grandpa traveled by covered wagon, and my parents remember the cold dash to the outhouse in the middle of the night.  And I'm sure my pre-microwave, pre-home computer life will seem foreign to my children. 

What do your old photos show that would be unfamiliar to young people today?  Or what do you remember that today's generation does not?
Thanks to those who went before, and plowed ahead with determination and hard work.   And thanks to my Dad, who is a great example of determination and hard work, and whose birthday is today.  Happy birthday, Dad!


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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: Family Rules

It's always a good idea to have family rules; a code of conduct by which everyone is expected to abide.  Some families post lists of rules.  Others just know the rules by the opt-recited phrases of the parents--for example, "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all." (Thanks to the Disney classic movie "Bambi," the parents usually at least imagine Thumper's voice while repeating that line!)

We were no different in our desire to establish consistent expectations in our home.  As parents, we were definitely outnumbered; and having five children, age 8 and under, sometimes it felt like we spent a majority of the day just reining (or reigning!) in chaos, averting disasters, and reminding of rules. My innovative husband devised a plan:  We would make our Number One Family Rule be something easy, something that even the most oppositional of the kids would obey, and one that if (heaven forbid!) someone did break, had a built-in natural consequence. 

And so we gathered the children together, and talked about family rules, why it is good to have clear expectations, etc. etc. Then John solemnly announced our Number One Family Rule:  DON'T EAT BUGS! 



I've got to say, I know I married a genius, but that idea has to be one of his most brilliant ever.  The kids remembered it, had success in obeying it, and it brought a dose of humor into what is otherwise generally a serious topic. 

Four years ago, when John and I found ourselves "Pa" and "Ma" to a group of teenagers on a pioneer trek, we sat down with them to establish some family rules.  We explained that we would like our Number One Family Rule to be the same one we use with our own kids.  The pioneer kids did not actually believe we were telling them the truth.  We found out later that they actually found our kids and asked them point-blank, "What's your number one family rule?" Without exception, each of the kids told them, "Don't eat bugs!" I'm not sure if our pioneer family thought we were cool or crazy at that point, but they embraced the rule as readily as our own kids did. 

How about your family?  Do you have any memorable rules or sayings?
Thanks for good humor, which brings us closer together, and makes potentially difficult situations easier.


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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Reno, the Amazing LAPrador Retriever

Despite his expression, he sat on my lap willingly and uninvited.

And as quickly as he came, he went--nearly toppling me over in the process.
Thanks for Reno, who if he had arms, would hug everyone. 


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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tuesday Time to Tackle: Hiding a Beloved Eyesore

Let's just start by saying that I love our swamp cooler.  The summers here are hot and dry, and while we do have air conditioning, it is very expensive to run.  The swamp cooler, or evaporative cooler, not only inexpensively keeps the temperature comfortable, it also adds just a bit of moisture to the air.  Swamp coolers therefore are not as effective in places of high humidity, but for dry desert climates, they are great.

They are not, however, terribly attractive. 


When we decided that the wedding reception here will be in our backyard, we figured we might want to spruce the backyard up a bit.  My clever husband whipped up this solution to the swamp cooler issue.


Much better!

Have you ever screened something useful from view?

 Thanks for ways to stay cool in the heat.  And thanks to John, who can take my visions and make them realities.


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Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday Morning in the Kitchen: Cupcakes


In preparation for my oldest son's upcoming wedding, I've been searching for a cupcake recipe that is both easy and delicious.  I found this recipe, which seemed to fit the bill.  I adapted it just a bit (due to my lack of a full cup of sour cream).

Cupcakes
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

Combine:
1 box white cake mix
1 c. flour
1 c. sugar
3/4 t. salt
1-1/3 c. water
2 T. oil
1 t. vanilla
sour cream/Greek yogurt combination to equal 1 c.
4 egg whites

Mix together for 2 minutes.  Fill paper-lined cupcake tins a scant 2/3 full, and bake for 18 minutes.  Makes about 36 cupcakes.

I think I'll experiment some more, using a different flavor of cake mix, and 2 whole eggs instead of 4 egg whites.  Using 4 egg whites gave the cupcakes an almost-angel-food-cake texture.

The frosting also came from the same RecipeGirl site.  Again, I adapted the original recipe a bit, substituting 2% milk for the whipping cream.

Frosting
Cream together 3 c. powdered sugar with 1c. butter, beating for 3 minutes.  Add 1 t. vanilla and 2 T. milk, and mix for 1 more minute.

Thanks for my family, who volunteer as taste-testers.


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