Saturday, February 28, 2009
We got pretty into it. The finals are today. Womens finals are at 10:00 AM and mens are at 3:00 PM if you are interested. We can't go again, but if Schuster's Team makes it to the Olympics, you can guarantee I will watch my Curling Crush at whatever hour of the day the networks decide to show his marvelous sport.
I think part of the reason I liked curling is because no less than 7 of the 8 people playing were from Minnesota. Seriously. Why the Olympic Trials were here in CO when nearly every team was primarily from the north, I have no idea. But it sure was nice for me to hear them chatting with each other in a northern accent. Sarah said, "These are your people Taryn, they say 'eh!'" My people indeed.
Hope you had a great Friday night and an even better Saturday!
Friday, February 27, 2009
For those of you who have given up desserts for Lent please stop reading here. If you choose to continue- I cannot take responsibility for the imminent lusting and drooling that will ensue.
We hosted some couples from our Sunday School class at our house the other night for fellowship and a Bible Study. (I love how hanging out with people from church is called "fellowship," while if we were to have non-church friends over, the get-together would just be a get-together. Fellowship makes our talking and dessert eating sound so important.) Anyway, I needed to make a dessert for the group to munch on while I rambled aimlessly on about individual and communal laments- so I made Cookie Brittle.
It turned out quite well. It is very rich, but very delicious. Here is the recipe . . .
Adapted from Get Togethers Cookbook
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground flax (for good measure)
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- powdered sugar for dusting
~Cream the butter and sugar with the vanilla and salt in a mixing bowl or food processor until light and fluffy.
~Beat in the flour.
~Mix in the chocolate chips by hand.
~Pat into an unbuttered 10 x 15 (I used a 9 x 13) pan.
~Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned (I had to do it for a bit longer). ~Cool. Break into irregular pieces and drain on paper towels.
~Dust with confectioners’ sugar.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
I have sewn the backing and bought some batting- but as you can see, the batting is too small. What should I do? Do I need the batting to go all the way around? Can I just use a cut up towel and sew it to the batting to make up the inch or so the batting is too small? Or should I just buy more batting? If anyone knows anything about quilting (ahem, Laurel) you advice would be super duper appreciated!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Who doesn't love Oreos? When asked this question, I think, "I love Oreos!" But as I really think about it, I realize that I only love double stuf Oreos. And really, I only love the creamy "stuf" in the center. I have been known to take an Oreo, open it, eat the good stuff and throw the cookies away! Oh dear.
But the good thing about these cookies is that they don't really taste much like Oreos. They are just really good chocolate sandwich cookies that somewhat reseble Oreos (but only if you are as talented as Deb from Smitten Kitchen). As you can see, I am not as talented as Deb. And while we are being blunt, let's be honest, my sandwhich cookies are actually pretty ugly.
But their ugly duckling appearance has not stopped them from being eaten at our house! Give 'em a try. I promise, you will not be dissapointed.
Homemade Oreo Cookies
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 25 to 30 sandwich cookies
For the chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature butter
1 large egg
For the filling: (Note: I did not use this recipe- I used similar leftover frosting from my cookie cake)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.
- In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
- Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.
- To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
- To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream. Dunk generously in a large glass of milk.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
One year ago, Chris broke his left long finger playing indoor soccer in Boulder. It was the first game I missed. I had decided to stay home and outline a paper for school- I guess I should have gone. = )
Chris was a tough guy- while playing goalie he dove into someone's shoe in the first half and played the rest of the game!!! When he came home, we looked at his finger to assess the damage. He thought he might just sleep on it and see how the finger felt in the morning, but when he showed it to me, I almost fainted (literally) so we went to the ER. (I did faint the next day at the hand specialist, but that is another story.) One year and three surgery's later (thank God for insurance) Chris has partial movement back. Partial movement people. I guess we should celebrate life's little joys.
Hope your February 24th does not end like ours one year ago.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Here is the junk drawer turned silverware drawer:
I moved the spices into the silverware drawer, like so. (I got the idea from Katie at The Hyper Homemaker.)
This cleared some counter space (the spices were on the counter on a spiny thing.) But I also made some room in the cupboard above the spices, so I moved the brown sugar and powdered sugar into the cupboard to make even more room on the counters.
Here is the counter now. I love that I can see the pretty cutting boards so nicely. = )
Sunday, February 22, 2009
I will not give a serious tutorial here, mostly because I do not understand the sewing lingo, and get lost trying to read other people's tutorials. But I will show you something not to do . . .
Can you see what is wrong here? Yes, I sewed the tags on the wrong directions. Boo. The worst part is that I had sewn over, back-stitched, and sewed over each ribbon again to be extra sure that the blanket would not be a safety hazard. So removing the stitches was painstakingly slow. All I could think about was a line from a book about Felicity, my American Girl Doll, "A stitch in time save nine." I'd say so. This is what it should have looked like.
After sewing the ribbon tags on correctly, I sewed on the other fabric, I turned the blanket inside out, hand stitched the hole closed and added a decorative stitch up the sides to make it pretty and give it some more structure. I think I got the ultimate complement from Chris- after it was done I showed it to him and he said, "Wow Taryn, it looks a lot better than I thought it would." Boo-yah baby!
(I don't know why the blanket looks gray here- from the other pictures it is most obviously green.)
And here it is all wrapped up and ready to go to church! (She and her husband are in our couple's Sunday School class.)
Saturday, February 21, 2009
After I said goodbye to Mandy, I went to find my car. (It was in the parking garage- I avoid parallel parking at all costs.) On the way, I was stopped at the Pedestrian Shop on the Pearl Street Mall. They had the Crocs lined with "fur" on sale for only $19.99! (They are usually $40.00.) They only had a few left, and thanks to the fact that I have tiny fat feet I found some that fit! I was hesitant to buy them because I didn't really need them. However, I have really wanted some warm shoes to wear around the house- so after some debating, I bought them. Best 20 bucks I have spent in a long time. My feet are so cozy!
Anyway, back to my story. I finally made it to the car, found my ticket and drove to the exit. There was no one manning the gate so I had to pay a machine. It is always a little bit stressful paying stuff like this, because I am aware of the person waiting behind me, and after I pay I worry that if I don't get through fast enough, the bar is going to come down on our car. So I paid and quickly thought, "I want to go east, so I should go right" and turned right out onto the street. But as I was driving, something didn't feel quite right. I followed the road as it forced me to take another right and then I realized what was wrong.
I was going the wrong way on a one way.
As Chris so nicely put it, "Taryn, you're that girl." You know, the one where you think, "Holy cow, how did she get her license?" Yep, that is me. Just thought I would let you know.
For those of you concerned about how I remedied my situation- Luckily no cars were coming and I was able to pull into a loading zone and then turn back into the entrance of the parking garage. I drove through the garage (they have a 5 min. grace period!) and tried the exit again, this time going the correct way.
Friday, February 20, 2009
I was reading about organizing your life on Oprah.com (shh- don't tell anyone) and came across the idea of dumping your junk drawer completely. We have a small apartment kitchen so the need for the "magic triangle" they discuss is not so important for us, but the idea of axing our junk drawer was intriguing. So I tried it.
I took everything out of the drawer and sorted it. I took the tools to live with our other tools. I put the pens, pencils and markers over by the desk. I threw away a million twist ties, and 1/2 a million old rubber bands. (How did we acquire so many twisties and rubber bands in 2.5 years?) I moved the seeds out to the garage with the dirt and pots (well, that is where they are going to go. Right now they are on my desk waiting to be planted.). And put the batteries in a cupboard that is out of the way because we really don't use batteries much. Now the drawer looks like this:
I kept one pen and some paper to make grocery lists as well as some coupons in the drawer. I may move them later, but they are there for now. I don't really know what to put in the drawer . . . what a nice problem. = )
(My cleaning is not really done yet- I still have to deal with the desk. The desk is a huge task and needs to be dealt with anyway, so the huge box of pens sitting on the floor is just extra motivation.)
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Maybe I expected too much. Can I be awed and inspired twice in a row? Apparently not.
Mountains just don't do it for me.
What is it about these massive, uninviting rocks people get so crazy about? Yes, they are ascetically pleasing. And they avalanche (I asked Chris "What do you like about the mountains?" and he says, "I like the avalanches." So avalanches it is). I just don't get it. Before going last night, Chris thought about saying something- but instead let me go into the CU Planetarium giddy with excitement. Only to leave thinking "What was that?" Sigh. At least I got to see these cuties:
Oops- I mean these cuties:
And I have Shallow Seas to look forward to in April. Hurray!
panda image from chinaodysseytours.com
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I don't know what it is about warm chicken on cool greens topped with Ranch. It is simply divine. What do you think?
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Seriously though, vegtable stock is pretty darn easy. I got the recipe from a great cookbook called, Cheap, Fast, Good. The recipes are almost always cheap and fast, but good is sometimes relative. In an effort to teach frugality, the book tells you how to make stock. Here is what you do . . . for a few days take all your vegetable clippings (stems of bell peppers (no seeds), tomato stems, ends of carrots, the leafy parts of celery, potato skins, onion tops, tough ends of asparagus, stems of mushrooms, anything really- I even used cucumber ends and sun dried tomatoes) and put them in a plastic bag in the fridge. When you have a variety place the veggies into a slow cooker or dutch oven and add just enough water to cover the vegetables. If in a Crockpot, cook for 4-6 hours on high, 8-12 on low. In the dutch over, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 4 hours. If you can, check the stock periodically and add more water if needed.
It looks pretty gross when it is all done.
Let it cool, ladle the chunkies out, and strain it. I froze mine in an ice cube tray to save for later. When frozen, I put 4 or 5 of them in plastic bags. I am not sure how many cups of broth it is, but soup isn't that precise.
Pretty neat! We might be having soup again soon . . .
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Tierra, Mrs. V, Emily, Ashley and Sarah for your friendship!
Thanks Tierra, Ashley and Sarah for the lemonade?
Thanks Sarah- but you are much cuter than me . . .
And finally, thank you Mrs. V, Emily and Sarah for this beauty:
For this award I am supposed to write 10 things about myself. Instead of ten things- I will give you 25! (Don't notice the striking similarity to 25 Things going around on Facebook . . .)
1. I have the best husband ever, period.
2. I work as Mopetts coordinator for our church and it has turned out to be more rewarding than I ever imagined.
3. I miss Minnesota and my family.
4. I will dominate you at Connect Four.
5. I have recently converted to a blogger- I like to do projects and then blog about them.
6. I love to scrapbook, but don't do it anymore because of number 5.
7. I suck my tongue.
8. I recently found out am allergic to tree nuts.
9. I want to buy my parents' house.
10. I would like to have a huge garden with tomatoes, bell peppers, strawberries, watermelons and pumpkins when I grow up.
11. Besides having a garden, I have no idea what I want to do when I grow up.
12. My favorite color is green.
13. I read teen books almost exclusively.
14. Spicy food and I are not friends. At all. We rarely even look at each other.
15. I am very sensitive to violence and suspense on TV, in movies, and in real life.
16. I used to be a swimmer, but I developed an allergy to pool water.
17. However, I have recently discovered my love of snorkeling; you get to swim in the ocean without the salt in your eyes and mouth.
18. I was a percussionist in high school and college- however since graduation I have not picked up a mallet or drum stick.
19. I was an okay ultimate frisbee player.
20. I have traveled and studied abroad 4 times, while my poor husband has never left the continent . . . yet.
21. I have loved everywhere I have traveled (France, England, Greece, Italy, Australia) except Spain.
22. My sister and I were extras on a Spanish sitcom.
23. As a child, I spent my summers at my cabin with my sister, my mom, my grandparents, cousins, and some lovely girls from down the dirt road. We will all be friends for life.
24. I currently work for a 4 time Olympian (Moguls).
25. I like ketchup and eggs.
I tag anyone who reads this blog. Please play along if you want.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
Here is the bag.
Very cute, I know. I got it this fall at TJ Maxx for $34.00. I think it was supposed to be priced something ridiculous- like $98.00. (Don't worry Kathryn, the pink D & B purse that makes me look like I am 12 is still in the closet waiting for spring.)
In the bag:
- Water bottle I got for Christmas- thanks mom.
- Wallet- I have has this puppy since graduating high school, I believe.
- Phone- don't be fooled by its ancient graphics or the fact that it is falling apart- it is my favorite phone. When it rings, the sides light up. Wicked.
- Napkins, wet wipes, and Shout To-go wipes- apparently I am very messy.
- Various papers with important things scribbled on them
- Coupons- one must always be prepared.
- Earplugs- I seem to be getting more sensitive to noise as I get older . . . isn't it supposed to be the other way around?
- Snacks- you might think I travel with children, but I don't. Just me. I get cranky when hungry.
- Fleece socks- okay this is weird. I carry socks with me in my purse because when I go to work (as a babysitter) my feet often get cold. At home, I wear slippers . . . what is weirder- slippers in the purse or socks?
Yesterday we got a package! It was very exciting. In our apartment complex, the mail givers leave you a note in your mail box and then you must go to the community center to retrieve the package. I thought it was some papers my mom was sending me, but instead it was a Valentine's day package! How lucky am I? Thanks Mom and Dad!
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Moving on, I would like to share with you a recipe from Katie over at Good Things Catered. She has fantastic treats and great recipes. I had some bananas laying around turning a pretty shade a black so I went looking for something to make with it. I found this recipe and gave it a shot.
Unfortuntely, neither Chris nor I liked them. But I think it was just an "us" thing, and maybe you would like them if you tired. So here is the recipe . . .
Healthy Breakfast Bars
Adapted from Good Things Catered
- 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
- 1/2 c. oats
- 1/4 c. wheat bran
- 2 Tbsp ground golden flax seed
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 1/2 c. pumpkin puree
- 1 ripe banana, mashed
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 c. chopped dried fruit (I used prunes, craisins and raisins)
- Nuts if desired
-Preheat oven to 315 degrees and prepare 8x8 baking pan.
-In medium bowl, combine flour, oats, bran, flax seed, baking soda, and cinnamon.
-In bowl of stand mixer, combine pumpkin, banana, applesauce, honey, oil and vanilla until thoroughly blended.
-Add brown sugar and mix until completely incorporated.
-Add flour mixture and blend until just combined.
-Remove bowl from mixer and stir in dried fruit.
Spread batter into pan and bake for 20 minutes (or more).
-Cool and cut into 16 bars.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Monday, February 9, 2009
I dug through some cook books to find a recipe for chicken soup, and one for chicken stock. They sounded pretty easy. So I rummaged through the freezer to find some chicken legs, then went to the store to get some carrots and celery. (That was probably the least amount of money ever spent in a trip to the grocery- a whopping $1.69.) I cut them up and placed them into my nice green pot.
I then covered the chicken and all some ingredients with water and after it began to boil, I reduced it to a simmer for 40 minutes. (There are differing opinions on this, Betty thinks you should simmer the whole time, while another book thinks you should just bring to a boil and then turn the burner off and let it cook as it cools. I thought I would go with Betty on this one.)
Within 10 minutes, the kitchen started to smell divine. The chicken was cooking and the water was being seasoned. This is so easy, I thought to myself.
Until the chicken was done. Then I had to take the chicken out, strip it off the bone, cut it up into bite size pieces, take the big veggies out of the broth, pour the broth out of the green pot, clean up the spills I made while transferring broth, strain the broth, and scoop the fat off the broth.
Whew, ready to start the soup.
So yeah, making soup from scratch is a lot of work. And my chicken was already dead and cleaned, my noodles were pre-made, and I didn't have to grow my veggies. I cannot imagine the life of a pioneer wife. I don't know what I would have done. Been tougher, I guess.
In the end, 3 hours after starting, I sat down with a nice bowl of chicken soup. mmmhmmm good!
I will post the actual recipe for the soup later, if anyone is interested.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
But anyway, on to the point of this post . . . my good friend and I both LOVE Sarah Dessen. She has written many a young adult fiction (8 actually) and her newest, Along for the Ride comes out in June of this year. However, thanks to her awesomeness, we did not have to wait that long because she snagged an advanced uncorrected reader copy! After reading it, she passed it on to me and I have just finished it. Oh, it is so good! There are so many good things about it, but I will not give anything away just yet. I just wanted to start some buzz about the book, which is the point of advanced reader copies, right?
Sarah Dessen is a fantastic writer, most of her books follow a fairly standard teen love story, but have many unique qualities. First, they are very ... ahem ... clean. You would be surprised how advanced some teen books are, kinda makes me feel like I was a prude in middle school. (Well, actually I was, but I mean, who writes fiction about it?) Okay, back to Sarah- Along for the Ride is especially clean- cleaner than Twilight, in my opinion. Another cool thing about her books is that after you read a few, you start to catch glimpses of other stories intertwined within the current one. Sarah includes passing references to trends, people or places that are highlighted in a different book. It is fun.
If you are interested in learning more, check out Ems Bookshelf, she does great reviews of teen books, including Sarah Dessen's books.
I love this new book by Sarah, but my favorite is still The Truth About Forever. While googling for a picture of the cover, I found this awesome utube video. It is a fake movie trailer for the book. It is great.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
First wash, peel and grate our potatoes.
Then place them in a warmed skillet with some melted butter or oil. (Butter with give the potatoes that nice light brown color, oil will turn the hash browns a dark, almost black color, but they still taste good.) Cook and then flip.
I added some onion powder to mine, and a bit of Super Salt, but these are optional.
Chris says that these were the best hash browns he has ever had, and that is saying something, because he loves hash browns. And on that note, I will leave you to go and make some more hash browns for breakfast! = )