Sunday, January 29, 2012

Amish Friendship Bread

I'll not share this recipe.
You need a starter for it and, when shared with friends, the starter comes with the recipe.

My special deal of the day several weeks ago at Goodwill was this lovely
Give us this day our Daily Bread
bread plate. I've been wanting one for quite a while!

Now if I could only learn to make bread we'd be in business.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Tired and still at it.

My house smells soooo good right now. I really wish I could bottle up the scent and have it wafting out of your computer right now. Amish Friendship Bread is busy baking in the oven. I really haven't a clue as to who is going to eat it all ... I hope it won't be me!

It's been a crazy busy week.

Monday evening: Jari & I brought Tia to Monday School and while she was there we went to visit Steve & Jeannette for a few hours. Super fun!

Tuesday evening: I practiced a new recipe for Pulled Pork sandwiches on some guys. I'll share the recipe another day. I'm good at that. Testing on visitors. Why not? It turned out really well!

Wednesday: Alyx and I went to Helen's for lunch. Helen was our babysitter for a long time when our first 2 were babies/littles and I was working full time. One (or more .. who knows) of Helen's kids couldn't pronounce Alyx's name and she became Aiu (pronounced eye you). She is still Aiu to them. Fun to have Jaana there that day as well and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

A bunch of late afternoon running for necessary things, a piece of peanut butter toast for dinner and off to Bible Class. We're on church cleaning this week as well. :) Got that accomplished that evening and we should be good for a while!

Thursday: Last evening that we'll have all our munchkins in the same state for a while. We barbequed. Burgers. Dogs. Shredded Beef on the Grill. Yum. Eat until you're sick kind. Then I attempted a picture of them together. I am not a fan of inside photos. Period. I like them all outdoors. That option was out as it was a tad bit darker out there than in here!

It doesn't seem to matter what age they are! I still can't get everyone looking at the camera and smiling at the same time! Then again ... If I can catch that smile .... I don't care if it isn't aimed at my lens!

It was a fun filled evening full of visiting, kids running around saying good byes, game playing at the dining room table with Ronda. I think I actuallly won a game of Settlers again! Fun filled .... just a little late for a very early start on ....

Friday: Up at 4:30 a.m. to get Alyx to the airport. We didn't have a scale in the house (I borrowed one to weigh the next kiddos bags) so one of her bags was a wee bit over the allowed weight. Ugh. Hate when that happens. She flew through Seattle and then on to Anchorage safely!

I had a massage at noonish. I haven't had a massage since sometime last summer and it was pure relaxation. Wonderful. Need to not wait so long the next time around! A first time visit to the Pita Jungle with ladies for lunch following the massage and home for a quickie nap. We sort of had an evening appointment with the Apple store again, so someone had a great idea of stopping for something to eat on the way there. If you haven't been there .... this just happens to be across the street.

Dinner? Tiramisu Cheesecake with coffee. I highly recommend it!

If you're in need of anything Apple ... give Jari a call. He is more than willing to help you part with your monies! He'll even help you hook it all up. Just have a cup of coffee ready for him!

Saturday (Today): Another early one for a few of us. Brock and I headed for the airport in Mesa at 5:30 this morning. He safely boarded and eventually landed in Fargo where the weather isn't exactly the balmy 70+ degrees that we're having here today! The coming and the going of kids gets a little easier when they are excited about where they are going. Another post. Another time.

I have been wanting to head down to the Tempe Town Lake and take some night time pictures. Having to drive down that way 3 times a week makes an extra evening trip for photos just not something I've been rushing to do. I grabbed the camera this morning, thinking that it would be dark enough on my way back home. It wasn't what I wanted after all. I guess I'll have to go back again.

Home again, home again, jiggety jig ... back to my regular ongoing gig. Laundry. Dishes. Bills. Paper. Baking. Laundry. Nap. Laundry.
Yup. That stuff.

I am so thankful that tomorrow is Sunday.
You have no idea how thankful.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

I have tried a few new recipes so far this year!
This one was really good and I added enough pizza seasoning instead of italian seasoning that it had plenty of zip for me.

photo courtesy of Pinterest

3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (I used a pizza seasoning grinder instead)
pinch of salt (optional)
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
3/4 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated paremsan cheese
1 cup cubed pepperoni
1/2 cup store-bought pizza sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 24-cup mini-muffin pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, Italian seasoning, salt and red pepper flakes (if using); whisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the mozzarella, parmesan and pepperoni; let stand for 10 minutes.

Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, microwave the pizza sauce until warmed through. Serve the puffs with the pizza sauce for dipping.

Notes: I must have added too much extra pepperoni, it didn't fit into the 24 mini muffin pans. I had to make more than that. The recipe I have said she made the extra into a full size muffin, I didn't. I might try just  making the full size ones next time.

I'm thinking this would be a great finger food for a game night with a bunch of teen girls! 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

No excuses today!

How is that we find so many excuses to work?
So many reasons why we shouldn't run out and play for a while.
The laundry. Helllloooo? It hasn't stopped yet and it isn't going to stop anytime soon. So what if it waits a while today.
The yardwork. One can just get busy with life's things and let that piece of life slide. But if you're planning, or even thinking, about something that might involve fun ... all of a sudden it is of the utmost importance to get it done. Go figure.
We guilt ourselves into not enjoying things.
Other times, to be perfectly frank, I come up with excuses.
It is too cold. Now, how do you like that one?!
We watched parades in Palmer in the freezing of winter, but it was too cold and rainy on the evenings around Christmas when we wanted to go to Glendale and see the Christmas lights.
Perhaps it borders on the lazy. Whatever the excuse is, today we ignored all of them.
I did have one daughter who wasn't so hip on the idea of going, but she went and I think she'll be the first one in the car next time. She has learned well. Stay with Mom at the mall. Don't run off with the girls!

Today we went to the other side of the valley.
I intended to stop at a Teen Resale shop and see if they would take some clothes. They weren't open yet and we know someone who could use them, so they stayed in the trunk.
Off to Ross Dress for Less.
Alyx is heading back to Alaska on Friday .... and it will be a while before she sees that store again, so time to stock up on some good deals.
I even found some glue runner tape things for scrapbooking. 5 of them for the price of 1. Sweet!
Then to Arrowhead Mall where I've never been before. I might be back there again. Very likely.
The girls got to use up some gift cards ... and more stores for Alyx that she won't see in a while.

We finally made it to downtown Glendale. I wish we had been there several hours earlier or could have stayed several hours longer, but so it goes. We made it for a while.

We ate. We laughed. Mom played paparazzi while her subjects totally humored her! Even if their comments went something like, "mom .... why do you want pictures of me?!"
Quite simply, because I'm a mom.


These stolen moments, my friends, are forever treasures.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Too much time?

Do I have too much time on my hands?
Perhaps I do and I am thoroughly loving it.
To those of you who have very busy lives with little ones right now, I know this may seem like a utopia. Crafting, running and living what looks to be the life of leisure. In actuality, it sort of feels like it somedays.
Remember, though, that we all have our own challenges at each stage and phase of our lives. Perhaps they are phases or places that we've just come through and this is our respite for a moment.
Whatever it is .... right now I am most appreciative.

One evening this week Jari ran out to dream at Barrett Jackson with Randy.
We moms and wives know what that means ... we play.
I really have been working on that New Years Non Resolution. A little at a time. Completing a page here and a page there. That evening it was quite a few pages! It feels downright fine.
This piece is the easy part and it goes pretty fast. Just adding journaling, names and whatnots to pages that already have photos on them.

I am a sentimental soul. From the very inside.
I collect things. I love old things. I love handmade and handwritten things.
I love pieces that I can tuck away and forever cherish because they will always speak to me.
In the handwriting is a voice. A smile. A laugh. A memory.
This one is currently hanging on my fridge ....

while inside ... Jari's treat is sitting.
I may have put too many lemons and not enough sugar into the concoction according to Jari.

I will never know. That is for certain!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Birthday Celebrations Galore

We started our past weekend's celebration of Jari's birthday with dinner at the Rock Springs Cafe with Juha & Annette. No people pictures, sorry. We've met there often over the years. To pick up, trade, visit, whatever the case was at the time. Super fun to be able to do it again! If you're ever driving by here on the way in or out of Phoenix, it is really worth a stop. They are renowned for their pie ... which I never manage to save enough room for!

Grilled salmon dinner on Saturday and then birthday cake and coffee over at Randy & Renee's.
Jari and Randy share the same birthday ... although they might just be a few years apart. :)
We haven't had the occasion to do this for a while.
Randy has been in Spokanne while we've been in Alaska.
Now we're all back home again.

Renee made their family's traditional must have. I don't know if it is Blitz or Blintz Torte.
Either way .... absolutely delicious.
They are some goofballs. I'm telling you.

I even got to sample a piece of Trenary Toast.
Growing up in Minnesota, rather than Michigan, we called ours Korppu.
Ours didn't come in a brown bag, rather a white box.
Either way ... it all tastes the same.
Jari's mom use to make it out of pulla.
If anyone has any hints/tips/recipes/ideas of how to do that ...
I'd love to hear them.

As if we hadn't had enough of gorging ourselves, we went back to Claim Jumper
with Frans & Jenny and Ronda.
The food was delicious. Don't get me wrong.
There was just way too much of it.
I'm still feeling the effects of it.
We did have a fun evening of visiting and even a game of Settlers.
I won. Not that I'm tooting my own horn or crowing. I WON!!! I WON!!! I WON!!!

No more eating like that.
Even Jari, who can manage to put away serious amounts of food, said enough is enough.
He might even be happy to eat spaghetti!

Happy Birthday to Jari and special thanks to everyone for all the get togethers over the weekend!
I even managed to forget all about the Home Show!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday afternoon.

The sun is shining.
The breeze is blowing.
It is absolutely divine outdoors!
I am home from working a few hours today.
Freezer jam is in the fridge or freezer.
And the biggest thing of all .... I actually have my hands on the computer!!
Expect miracles. :)

So .... my pondering this Monday leads me to something incredibly trivial.
We all spend time in the car. Some a whole lot more than others.
Lately, it seems like I have days where I could just move into the car with my night clothes and wake up there in the morning.
What do you do when you drive the freeways?
Do you visit on your cell phone? (I'm talking talking, not texting.)
Does an audio book play to pass the time?
Are your ears glued to the radio?
Does it depend on who is in the car with you?
It does for me.
If I'm alone .... I'm either chatting it up or totally absorbed in a book.
On the other hand, if I have kids in the car with me ... we're slugging each other.
We haven't stopped playing games. Ones that make you laugh.
We smack each other at every yellow car you see. Not just Slug Bugs.
At times it can become a wee bit distracting when you're eyeing the Target parking lot you're zooming past at 70 mph.
So far so good.
Last Thursday Brock and I were the ones riding up the freeway. They've put in medians that are too tall to adequately see over unless we're in the truck ... and we weren't. I started doing things like seeing a yellow ladder on top of a truck that wasn't yellow and figuring it was fair game. Not really fair. So we moved on to the next game.

The alphabet game is one we have played since the kids were wee ones. Search for the letters of the alphabet in order on signs, license plates, billboards, wherever you can. Inside your own car doesn't count. They always try that. It may seem juvenile. However, it lends to some good healthy competition. Now that we live in a metropolis again ... the alphabet is everywhere. We were sort of on Round #2 of our alphabet thing and getting close to home. Without a Q in sight. How do you stop at a Q when you know there is one just down the road a ways? You don't.

We got our Q's ... and Brock got us all some marvelous tasting chocolate shakes.
Even after all the times I smacked him for those yellow ladders.
Ain't he a good kid?

Banana Crumb Muffins

I do love the internet at my fingertips for finding recipes. Occasionally I'll even try a new one! Alyx is working at Circle K and they sometimes have oodles of bananas they need to get rid of. Banana mashing was going on here big time!

This recipe was a new one for me and is certain to delight!

Banana Crumb Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.

In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another owl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.

Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

*** My additional tidbit of advice:
Change clothing into loose fitting britches before beginning the eating. They are divine.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wednesdays Wild Wingings

Wednesday started with the moon this morning. I've been wanting moon pictures lately. Probably helps that it is full and in the evening as it rises over the horizon I just keep seeing endless possibilities! This morning I saw it heading over the other end of the horizon. I really should have gotten a picture of myself trying to get a picture of the moon. It was quite hilarious. Maybe I'm more limber than I give myself credit for. I was also quite thankful that the sprinklers start on the opposite side of the yard from where I was doing some sort of yoga position with a camera.

While I was doing my calesthenics out in the backyard the sky was looking all shades of fun sunrise colors to the other horizon. I was giving Tia a lift to school and then headed out a short hop down the raod to try and catch the sunrise. Apparently, I should have been out there a wee bit earlier. Maybe tomorrow morning instead. As it was, the mountains still look beautiful against the pastel of the sky.

Moon sets and sun rises sure weren't happening inside the microwave! What the dickens! I'll bet if I asked how this happened, I'd find out "I Don't Know" has moved back into the house again. Ugh. My only consolation somedays is that they will someday live in their own homes. Let's hope they either have a maid or figure it out by then! My favorite ever household cleaner is Thieves. It makes short work of even this disaster. I love the smell of it in the house .....

so borrowing another idea from Pinterest ... I used Thieves essential  oil inside these canning jars rather than lavender. I don't know why, but I'm just not a great fan of lavender.
These are just plain ol' cheap WalMart brand canning jars.

Filled about 1/4 of the way with baking soda, to which I added 6 to 7 drops of essential oils. The heart shapes were pounded into the lids, with holes large enough to be able to shake out the baking soda as a carpet deoderizer if so desired. I'm not crazy about the gold colored tops these had on them, so I did my spray paint routine. I'm still not out of black ... yippee!! I used up some ribbon that has been sitting here much too long too dress the jars up a bit. One on the piano and one in the master bedroom ... both lightly scenting the air.

I did have a very productive day today.
The bathrooms are scoured, the tubs/showers cleaned with my second favorite bathroom cleaner.
The dust bunnies were all moved out of the laundry room and it was reorganized a tad bit.
The laundry is all done.
A little crafty to soothe the aches of scouring.
A stop at Goodwill where I found more treasures which I'll share another day.
All those make for a good day!
As good as the day can be, it just isn't ever complete without giggles and laughs from these two.
Occasionally they have a tussle. Not often.

I'm one lucky mom.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Memories and Friendship

Isn't it just a miracle when the memory department clicks somedays?
The pastry brush.
I ran into Smart & Final today for a few things on my way home from work and, lo and behold,
I actually remembered to pick one up. I've looked at a few here and there, but am a bit on the picky
side when it comes to some things.
Another thing we use in this house is a lint roller.
I don't know why, but we do. The same store actually stocks them next to the chocolate
bars at the registers. A store that seems to know what my household needs.

Check this out! This would be a disaster in the making.
It is Amish Friendship Bread starter.
I made so much of this in Alaska it started being a serious precurser to Weight Watchers meetings
in my house. It has to be nearly the best thing since sliced bread.
Some unkind soul brought it to work and I promptly grabbed a bag.
The memory might have worked today, the willpower isn't doing so good.
If ayone in Phoenix (I'm not shipping this .. my sympathies!) wants a starter, let me know.
I should have plenty of it before too long.
For that matter, I might just be dropping off Friendship Bread Muffins on your doorstep to boot!

Tonight we started Monday School here in Phoenix. To try maximize space with a very large Sunday School, 6th through 9th grades have moved to Monday nights instead. It won't be every week, rather 2 hours every other week. I'll be curious to hear from some of the teachers and the people in charge how they thought it went tonight. From a teens point of view, it seemed to go well. The mom driver will have to find something to do for several hours. I did run through WalMart for a while and picked up a few things I needed and then went to the church and gabbed with other moms who were waiting for kids. I'd run for coffee or something, but too much evening coffee on a night before an early work morning just doesn't do much for the state of my eyeballs come morning.

Off to the pillow.
Have a fabulous Tuesday!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Planting season has sprung!

Probably more like the itch has sprung.
I needed some things from Home Depot yesterday and then took a detour through the gardening section with Alyx.
The bug bit. Big time.
Murphy's Law declares that now when I have the time to be playing with gardening, I don't have my own yard to play in.

We did start with a few flowers and will see if I can keep those things alive.

I used any container I could find being as my piles of pots got left behind. Now I have a serious reason to be yard sale hopping. When you're to the point of raiding kitchen cupboards for planting containers ... it's time to hit a thrift store or something.

I also started some peas. Not many, but a few. I have no clue where I'll get them to climb. I do know that I have a houseful that eat them nonstop off the vine. Duke doesn't know how to pick them, but even he loves to eat them!

I really did work on those photo albums yesterday before I started this project. I went through 4 years of scrapbook album pages and post it noted the pages that need completion. I even attempted to buy my favorite journaling pens at Office Max yesterday and they didn't sell them. I figured that counted for trying.

This shelf has been lounging around waiting for a yard sale. It arrived looking less than desirable, the back of it so bad that I would never have let it in the house. The back came off and then I started scrubbing and sanding, quickly deciding that the sanding was a waste of time. Home Depot is right down the street ... thank goodness. Spray paint that is primer and paint together, sticks to anything and covers well was the trick. I did roll some different black on it as well on the large spaces. A poly spray when I was done ... and it came into the house today. At least one can of spray paint and nearly another of poly, half of which were probably inhaled by me, had me winging yesterday. Yuck! Probably should have stayed outside one more day to air out. Today it went in our bedroom that doubles as an office. No more totes in that room! 3 totes went out to the garage ... and the shelf is fulfilling its purpose. Sweet! I do need a few more organization things and somewhere to land a printer or two. Why do we always have 2 printers?!

The scroll things on the top are a bit ridiculous, but I figured if I tried to get rid of them the entire shelf might turn out worthless. My hubby does have some interesting "Anita got loose with the skil saw" stories he could share with you. I do still have all my limbs ... might be a good idea to keep them.
Someday I'd like to back the shelf with white bead board.

Being as I was productive yesterday ... today I am being a total slug. Just might get that book read and take a nap!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Onward down the dirt road ...

These were the only 3 bikes we saw on the miles of dirt.
Brave folks they are!

On to beautiful views of Apache Lake.
It has been a long time since I've seen this lake!

Onward to the Lake Roosevelt Dam ....

and the lake itself.
The Lake Roosevelt Bridge is the longest two-lane, single-span,
steel-arch bridge in North America and was painted blue to
blend in with the water and sky.
It is a beauty ....

as is the lake it spans.

I'm thinking we should take some sailing lessons.
That just looks so peaceful.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Being as returning to Phoenix was not the order of the day ...

Someday I'd like to go back and do some more exploring around the Superstition Mountains. Maybe make that an all day type of thing instead of a drive by. Might be a great place to bring some visitors at the same time. I put it on the agenda for February.
Note to Mom & Dad: If you haven't been here yet ... we're going when you come down here.

I have a great fascination with old white churches. If I was to go inside, it might be sporting some beautiful stained glass and for sure the church pews wouldn't be padded. Perhaps it is a childhood memory thing. Makes me wonder if the ceiling is made of tin squares.

Canyon Lake looked very inviting as well. The temp was in the mid 60's so we didn't feel the need for a serious dip or anything like that. The beauty of water in the middle of the arid desert. Aaaah.

We did feel a need for one of these! Unfortunately, it wasn't very accomodating.

Tortilla Flats. Pretty much a stopping spot for dining, drinks and souvenier shopping.
Probably has some great hiking trails as well. I'm likely to never know. 
That isn't negative thinking, just reality based.

On down the Apache Trail we went. I only yelped once. There are some places that you just need to experience. Photography (at least mine) do it no justice. There is no way to share the enormity of the canyons and cliff walls, just as I could never capture the majesty of Alaska's mountains when driving right next to them.

They mean it when they post signs here. Is this one meant as a heads up kind of thing for the driver coming up the road? I sure hope it isn't meant for the driver once he hits this curve ... 'cuz it's too late by then!

Maybe because this is the Old West, I always imagine some beautiful person in full head dress standing tall and proud on top of those rocks. Perhaps they were watching some unsuspecting wagon trail that was attempting to traverse the landscape below. I sort of like the world I live in today. Air conditioned 4 wheel drive sort of beats the dickens out of a wagon rolling along.

Another sign ... in case a person hadn't noticed that for the last 10 miles or so the road was doing this number. Maybe their eyes were closed and they had no clue. Perhaps it is for the passenger in the car!
Now that would make more sense!

Where, oh where, is that next lake?