Monday, December 16, 2013

Ginger Crinkle Cookies

You want to taste the best thing about fall?  Try making these deliciously chewy Ginger Crinkles!

It is impossible to eat just one of these.
I made a batch of them and just ate close to 10.
They are dangerously delicious.

Here is the recipe for your enjoyment!

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 
1/2 teaspoon cloves (I add a little extra, cloves are just too yummy!)
1/2 cup coconut oil (or use butter)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 large egg
1/4 cup raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cloves.

Add the coconut oil, butter and the brown and granulated sugars to the bowl of a standing mixer. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Slip in the molasses and egg and beat until well incorporated. Add the flour mixture by scoopfuls and beat until combined.

Add the raw sugar to a small plate or bowl. Roll the dough into balls that are 1 inch in diameter (1/2 ounce in weight), then roll in the sugar. Place 12 balls on a baking sheet 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies 9 to 11 minutes.  Cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then continue cooling on wire racks.

*If you want to make these crispy, add an extra 1/4 cup butter and replace the brown sugar with granulated sugar.

It's a close call between this cookie recipe and my apple pie, but the cookies come out on top right now.

What is your favorite Holiday recipe?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

It WILL taste amazing...

There are many things that I suck at.  Making a cake look pretty is one of them.  I am a fan of making most food from scratch.  I'm not a fan of boxed cake, but this is what happens when I experiment...

Luckily you can't see this photo too well because it was taken on my phone.  The photo quality is not great, neither is the appearance of the cake.  But, I assure you, it WILL taste amazing.  I know, I sampled some of the pieces that fell off as I removed it from the pan.  It is delicious.

I got the recipe here at Mel's Kitchen Cafe where most things I have tried turn out amazing.  It's a great recipe site.  This is what the cake is supposed to look like...

Maybe it looked almost as bad as mine and that's why she took a picture of a slice of cake.   Notice how the actual cake is blurry in the background?  Maybe it's just so moist  (horrible word) "not dry" that the cake literally falls apart before you can get it frosted.

Do you have a favorite chocolate cake recipe?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

On Top Of The World

I am a huge Imagine Dragons fan.  No, not merely a fan, I'm more of a groupie.  I've also been called a "super fan" and "obsessed".  I've seen them in concert 15 times (I know this sounds super excessive, but I really REALLY like them) including a couple of acoustic performances and photo-ops.  The first time I saw them (March 2011) I paid $5 to see them open for another band that's now obsolete.  I fell in love with them immediately.  Their live performance is full of energy and emotion that can't be described.

Soooooo, why am I telling you all this?  Cause something awesome happened.

On my way down to St. George over UEA weekend, my husband informed me that ID was looking for extra's for their music next video.  They requested that anyone interested send in pictures of themselves in 60's garb.  I was headed right toward my best friend Lindsey Madsen, I knew she could work her magic with clothing and a camera and make me look good enough to make the cut.  This is what she did to me:

 I was just messing around on this one, but she made me send it in.
I think it's the leg reveal that got me the spot.
Or maybe it's the seductive face I was making at Andy.

A few days later, I got an email telling me where to be for the filming!  Wahoo!!!
I'm pretty sure they took everyone who bothered to send a photo, but who knows.  All I know is I MADE IT!
I showed up at 10:00 and sat in a room full of women at Studio C at BYU Broadcasting Center.  I felt like I was in a time warp, everyone looked so great in their 60's gear!  I chatted, made friends, and waited in this room with a 60's living room set.
How awesome is that couch?!  And the rug!

 At 12:00 they called me and a few others back and added some accessories to our outfits.  We were to be in the front of the pack, then the other ladies followed behind.  The director told us to run down the hallway past the camera as though we were storming into a concert.  Well, no problem for me....I've done this before!  So we all ran down the hall screaming with excitement (as though we were running into a concert) and when I ran past the camera, I saw them.

Dan Reynolds was watching us through the monitor with a huge smile on his face, eating a granola bar.  The other band members (Platzman, Wayne, and Ben) were huddled around Dan watching with as much excitement as we had!  It was so fun to see them.

We were back in the studio by 12:30 and told we could leave until 3, or just wait there.  I stayed there and hung out with some other die hards.  More people started filing in around 3:00.  It was a steady stream until at least 4:30, and we all waited.  And then we waited some more.
 ^Here are some of the friends I made.  Such fun ladies!
 After a few hours of waiting, the band came in and gave us some encouragement.  They looked so cute in their space suits!  They were very grateful for us being there, and humbled that so many would take the time to be in their video.  They answered a few questions and then headed back on set.
 Dan is such a friendly guy, he just chatted and hung with us for a bit.
 At this point, most of these people had been here for 5 hours.  I had been there (with a few other ladies) for 10 hours.  That's when Mac Reynolds (ID's manager and Dan's brother) brought in pizza for everyone.  They felt bad they were so far behind schedule and that we were waiting for so long.  Very cool of them.

About an hour later, we were called in to do our thing.  We ran into the big room cheering and dancing to the music.  This is what I saw from where I was standing...
 Wayne Sermon and Dan Reynolds
 Astronauts with guitars!
 They played the song over and over and we bounced the blow-up worlds around above our heads.

 My new friend Emily and I got our picture taken together with the band "on the moon" behind us.   She and I really hit it off and had such a fun night together!
The director
 I ran into my friend Larissa there.  Turns out her brother is the videographer for the film!  She is the sister in law of my college roommate from Dixie.  It's a small world.
 The band was behind the monitor calling the shots when they weren't on set.  It was so fun to watch them work their magic, give their input, and see their ideas come to life.
Daniel Platzman, Dan Reynolds, Wayne Sermon, Alex Sermon (Wayne's wife) Ben McKee
 Look how happy they are!
 I chatted with Daniel Platzman, the drummer, for a while.  He's (of course) phenomenal at drumming, singing, the viola and the guitar.  This poor guy was so exhausted he could hardly keep his eyes open.  It was 11:30 pm by this time and they had started the day at 8.  All he wanted to do was crash out for the night, but he told me all about his time at Berkley College of Music and how he was roommates with Wayne and Ben while they were there.

As extra's, we were banned from posting any photos from the day until the official video was released.  Well, that happened today.  Here it is for your enjoyment!

Here I am, at 3:14 in the video.  My half-second of fame! 

I can't wait until Dec. 30 when I see them in concert.  Again.  For the 16th time.  Wahoo!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Autumn Love

We took a trip up Big Cottonwood Canyon a couple weeks ago to enjoy the beautiful colors of Autumn, a season that never lasts as long as I'd like it to.
 ^^My cute kiddos and their darling cousin Ava 

 ^^The stream looked so beautiful with those leaves peeking down over it.

 ^^Crossing the river on a log

 ^^The path to heaven :)
 ^^My spider monkey swinging from the branches.
 ^^This is a total personality shot of all three of my littles.

Look how bright the leaves are!

In years past, I always viewed Fall as the cooler days that only meant that winter was just around the corner.  It was not a pleasant time of year for me.  I always longed for summer to stay just a little longer because I am not a huge fan of winter.  Especially since it lasts at least 5 months here in Utah.

Now, I love Autumn!

Why the change?!

Last summer we moved to an older neighborhood with big mature trees surrounding us everywhere, and the colors of Autumn are vibrant and breathtaking.  Just on our property we have 5 large trees whose leaves of yellow, orange, and red dance to the ground for weeks.  It's a beautiful thing.  I do miss summer when it's gone, and I sort of dread the winter, but I thoroughly enjoy Fall now.  I see the hand of God in the beauty of His creations.

What's your favorite season?

Monday, October 28, 2013


I vacuumed today.  I sure did.  And I cleaned two of the bathroom counters, AND I showered.  Sometimes this is a sign of a good day.  Sometimes it means that I did something I knew I should, even though I didn't want to.  But in actuality, these are things normal people do on a regular basis.  So, normal is relative.  I've known for some time now that I do not fall into this category people call normal.

I love that.  I don't like to be just like everyone else.  I like to show my individuality in the way I dress, though only in subtle ways.  I tend to enjoy activities most people in my phase of life are not interested in.  I get slightly obsessive over my hobbies and go and go until I totally burn out.

Random thoughts late on a Monday night.  There ya though anybody even reads this.  Why do I enjoy having a public journal?  I have no idea.  I'm a little twisted.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Artisan Bread

I've had a few requests for my Artisan bread recipe.  Ok Ok.  Here y'all go:

3 Cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 Tablespoons salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons yeast
6 1/2 Cups flour
*Optional: 1-2 drops Rosemary oil, or any fresh herbs you desire

You'll also need corn meal when it's time to bake.

Mix the water, yeast and salt together, then add all the flour at once.  Mix until evenly moist, but do not knead.  Cover loosely (with a thin towel or lid, not airtight) and let the dough rise for 2-5 hours.  I usually can't wait more that 2.  Once it's about double in size it's good to go.

Split the dough into 2 sections.  Using your hands, round each section into a ball by pulling the top of the ball down around to the bottom until the top is smooth.  Place dough on a floured cookie sheet (upside down so it can slide off easily, you will bake the bread on a cooking stone or a separate cookie sheet) and flour the top of the dough ball liberally.

After you have floured the dough ball, slash the top with a serrated knife.  Let the dough rise for about 40 minutes.

While the dough rises, preheat the oven to 450.  Place the stone (or cookie sheet you'll bake the bread on) in the oven on the center rack so it can get good and hot.

When the dough is ready to bake, take the stone out of the preheated oven and place it on a hot pad.  Cover the top of the stone with corn meal and gently slide the dough balls onto the stone.  Careful, it's HOT!  Place a pan (I use my broiler pan) with 1 inch of water on the bottom rack in the oven.  Place the stone on the center rack.  The steam from the water will make the bread a little crispy on the outside, but it will remain very moist inside.

Bake for 30 minutes.

When you remove the bread you will hear it crackle a little as it cools.  I love to dip it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, make bruschetta, or slice it up and make garlic toast.  It's delicious!

Conference Weekend

Conference weekend is always a favorite for me.  This time around I did something I don't think I've ever done before.  It's kind of a big deal.  Are you ready to hear it?!  Ok, I Stayed Awake!  The entire time.  It's been a goal of mine for years and this time I did it!  Granted, I only watched half of the Saturday afternoon session because I actually tackled the laundry pile that sat on my floor for 3 days.

I enjoyed so much about conference.  The time at home with my family was (mostly) enjoyable.  There are always the times when all 3 of them need something at the very moment I need to be left alone.  The kids and I made some Conference Bingo cards for them to use as they listened.  It helped them listen and I felt the Spirit very strongly.  Mostly due to the fact that I let my 5 year old play games on my phone most of the day.  I'll pay for that tomorrow, I'm sure.
I was especially moved by Elder Holland's talk (said everyone) for multiple reasons:

  1. The first reason is that I just barely, I mean like 2 days ago, finished "Heaven Is Here", the book Stephanie Nielson wrote of her experiences with life threatening trials.  She is the author of the popular blog  I have been bawling on the couch for a week as I read this book.  It is so inspiring and motivating to do all I am capable of.  She has inspired a renewed hope in me.  What an amazing woman she is.  And her husband.  Oh my.  He's just an angel.  Elder Holland spoke of her family, her trials and her ability to rise above the darkest moments of her life.  
  2. The second reason is that he clarified in a very matter of fact way that depression is, in fact, a thing.  It's very real.  It's not something people make up or something that one can just will away.  It's difficult to live with, understand, manage, and talk about.  And I suffer from it.  It was validating for me to have him normalize it a bit.  It's nothing to be scared or ashamed of, but it needs to be recognized and managed.  I am lucky enough to be surrounded by very loving, supportive and understanding people who help me when I need it most.  I hope to get to a point where I feel "myself" soon, whatever that means.  For now, I take the breaks I need, work hard when I can, and try to keep busy.
  3. The third reason is simply that Elder Holland ROCKS!  He's a fantastic speaker and always delivers his messages very well.

I felt God's love for me this weekend.  I am grateful for the reminders of the things I can do to be happy.  God's love is what makes me happiest.

Here are a few pictures of some of the things we did during the breaks:

I made some rosemary artisan bread that we love to dip in oil and vinegar

This is pretty much what Man did the whole time...this or the phone.

I found Syd bathing Dallas without being asked!  What a sweetheart!  He's not a fan, but he smells much better now.

How was YOUR weekend?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Spring Lovin'

You may have realized by now that I LOVE spring!  Flowers, new life, the green coming back, the warm weather.  Everything about it rejuvinates and motivates me to get moving.  I took a stroll (again) around my yard this week, and here are the treasures I am devouring while they last.

Peonies about to bloom!  These were in bloom when we looked at this house last year (on May 10 to be exact) and I fell in love.  I've never had peonies, but I am a proud owner now!

My freshly planted tomatoes have survived the cold weather thus far with the help of recycled milk jugs to protect them at night.  I am excited to watch them grow!

Here is part of my stash of tools, I have so many tools I can hardly keep track of them all, but I use these a lot.

The beginnings of my beautiful Peace roses! 

Cherry blossoms mean only one thing...CHERRIES!!!!  I hope to get a lot of them this year.  We have lost a good portion of the tree due to disease and broken branches in the winter storms, but we hope the healthy parts prevail.  The cherries last year were divine.  

There has been quite a bit of pruning this year...  

The pear tree (upper left) has had grape vines taking it over for a few years, and it needed to be thinned out badly.  I cut out a bunch of branches, but it was definitely hard to stick the just the recommended 30% per year.  I wanted to make it perfect...but these things take time or I could kill the trees.  

Apple branches littered the ground (upper right) as I thinned that tree immensely also.  Now I am left with a massive pile of grape/pear/apple/cherry/spruce/walnut clippings (below) until June when the city dumpster gets dropped off.  I might just fill one up all by myself.

I finally spruced up the Spruce.  He he...get it?  But yeah, I spread out 4 yards of compost throughout the flower beds, and cleaned up most of the pine needles and organized the pinecones a little.  
(I figured that since I will have an endless supply of pinecones (sprucecones) I may as well use them somehow.)

 Now, the tulips!  Ahhhh, how I love tulips.  They are so happy and refreshing and beautiful!  It's a shame they don't last longer.  I am indebted to the previous occupant of my house who planted these beauties.  They sure brighten up my front yard!

Just to put it into perspective...this is a before and after of the garden.  The photo on the left was taken last September, before I worked on it too much.  The photo on the right is how it looks now.  2000 glorious square feet of loamy garden-ready soil!  

If you can find the pear tree and the swing set in both pictures, that will help you visualize spacing.  The neighbors have added those tall trees on their side of the fence so it looks even better!

 Here's to a lovely gardening season!