Thursday, December 30, 2010's so fun to have the whole family back together.

We miss Paige so much when she's away at school.  I can only imagine what it will feel like when all my kids are off on their own and come back together!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010's good to stop to play in the leaves.

I had company coming for dinner in 20 minutes, I had to go pick up Conner from his friends house and finish cooking, but when I heard my kids were playing in the leaves I stopped everything to go take pictures.  I've learned that these moments are fleeting.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

... Cub Scouts LOVE a raingutter regatta!

So, I'm a little late in posting this, but Preston finished 1st place in his cub scout raingutter regatta, and earned 7 pins (merit badges? I don't know what they're called), but he had a blast! He and his dad spent hours working on that boat, and Travis had him working out all the math to determine the dimensions, etc.  Didn't look like much fun to me, but Preston loved it!

...putting extra effort into a cupcake is worth it!

I decided to make s'more cupcakes!  I thought it was a brilliant, original idea, and then I found recipes for them! I did end up doing my own version though.  Here it is...

S'More Cupcakes

1 sleeve graham crackers, crushed
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar

Place 24 paper cupcake liners in cupcake tin.  Put a rounded tablespoon of crust in each cup, and press onto bottom of liner.  I used a glass that fit in the tin to press it down.

Fill with devil's food cake batter (I used duncan hines prepared per box directions), leaving about 1/4 inch space at top of liner.  Bake per box instructions, and let cool.

1 bag semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar

Pour chocolate chips into medium sized bowl.  In a small saucepan, heat whipping cream over medium heat until just boiling, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.  Pour hot cream over chocolate chips, add vanilla and stir until chocolate is melted, and it's well mixed.  Refrigerate (or freeze) until mixture is very cold.  Put mixture into bowl of kitchenaid (or use hand beater with whisk attachment) and whisk until lighter brown and somewhat fluffy. 

Cut a small hole in top center of each cupcake, not going all the way through the bottom of the cupcake.  Put filling in a gallon sized zip top bag, cut corner, and pipe filling into center of each cupcake.

"Marshmallow" Frosting

1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, water, and cream of tartar. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbly.
In a medium mixing bowl, whip the egg whites and vanilla to soft peaks. Slowly drizzle the hot sugar mixture into the egg whites while whipping constantly until stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes.

Fill gallon sized ziploc with frosting, cut corner, and pipe onto cupcakes. 

Use a butane torch to toast tops of cupcakes, and top with graham cracker piece.

Monday, August 09, 2010

...everyone looks forward to the first day of school.

We had a big day today! Ty's first day of kindergarten, Conner's first day of junior high, as well as Preston going into 4th grade, and Madison starting her sophomore year in HS.   The day started out well.
Ty was so excited to get on the bus that he let out a little shriek of excitement when he sat down.  The bus driver whipped her head around, afraid he was getting upset, and said "Oh! That was a happy sound!"
Then I drove to the school to meet the bus, and get him settled, and he had fun playing on the playground.  Then... the teacher said "Okay boys and girls, it's time to wave goodbye to your moms and dads!"  Ty wasn't thrilled.

  6 hours later, he reported that he had a good day "but it wasn't THAT fun."
Conner enjoyed his first day at junior high, and said it wasn't as hard to find his way around as he thought it would be.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

...every teacher loves a gift.

So tomorrow is the first day of school for 4 of my kids, including Ty's first day of kindergarten, and Conner's first day of junior high! I wanted to make teachers gifts for the elementary school teachers (junior high and high school have TOO MANY teachers!).  I found the cutest idea on !  Here's how mine turned out!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

...cherries and chocolate CAN be good together... in these cookies.

Well, if you follow my recipe for Cherry Limeade Cupcakes, you'll probably have quite a bit of frosting left over, like I did.  Here's my solution for how to use that leftover frosting! Paige made these cookies for Ty's primary class (she's subbing tomorrow).  We call them Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies. Start with...

...Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies

1 devil's food cake mix (prefer Duncan Hines)
1 stick melted butter
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375.  Combine all ingredients in mixer.  Use a small scoop to scoop onto cookie sheet. ( We fit 20 per sheet).  Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until tops are cracked.  Cool on cookie sheet.

Fill with Cherry Frosting.  YUM!!!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

...I love to try to copy the local cupcake shop.

Yesterday I saw on facebook, that one of Nadia Cake's flavors of the day was cherry limeade. I couldn't stop thinking about that cupcake! I know... weird, but if you've had their cupcakes, you probably understand. I also got it into my head that I wanted the cupcake wrapper cartridge for my cricut. So, I called Nadia Cakes and found out they still had some today, and it became my plan to go buy one when I went to Palmdale to go to walmart for the cartridge. Then I realized I wanted to make my own cupcakes to try out the cupcake wrappers, so why not try to make my own Cherry Limeade Cupcakes? They turned out REALLY good if I do say so myself. Now to conquer the other Nadia flavors... This could be dangerous to my waistline. (You can see where the cricut didn't cut through and tore, but oh well, this was a practice wrapper).


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
2 sticks butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
8 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons finely grated lime peel
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350. Line muffin pans with 24 paper liners. Whisk both flours together in a large bowl, and set aside. Beat butter in a large bowl until smooth. Add sugar and beat to blend. Beat in eggs one at a time, then next 3 ingredients. Beat in flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full. (I use a large scoop). Bake until cupcakes bounce back when pressed lightly, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack in muffin pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely.

Cherry Buttercream Frosting:

2 (2 pound) bags powdered sugar
3 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon almond extract
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons juice from maraschino cherries
A little red food coloring
2/3 - 1 cup finely chopped maraschino cherries
Maraschino cherries with stems, for garnish

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together half of the sugar and the butter on medium-low speed until well blended. Add the vanilla, whipping cream, and juice from cherries and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, then add about half of the remaining powdered sugar. Stir in a few drops of food color, and stir in the cherries. Add remaining powdered sugar a little at a time until desired consistency is reached. (I used it all).

When cupcakes are completely cool, frost or pipe cupcakes (I used a gallon sized freezer bag with the corner snipped). Top with a maraschino cherry with stem.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

... I love to see my brother happy.

Did an engagement photo shoot for my brother and his fiance (and their baby) today.  The wedding is in ONE WEEK!
Click to see more of the shoot.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

...this is the Best BBQ Chicken Breast EVER!

I've been making this chicken for years.  I got the recipe out of magazine, and it's truly the best BBQ Chicken I've ever eaten.  I go through spurts where I make it a lot, usually the beginning of summer, then I forget about it for a while.  The cooking method is pretty specific, but if you follow it exactly you will have juicy delicious chicken!!!  I'm making this Saturday for Paige's graduation BBQ, so I'll add a picture to this post later!

Oh So Yummy Barbequed Chicken Breast

½ c. soy sauce

¼ c. vegetable oil

¼ c. red wine vinegar

1 tsp. dried oregano

½ tsp. dried basil

½ tsp. garlic powder with parsley

¼ tsp. ground black pepper

6-8 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts


¾ c. catsup

¾ c. honey

½ c. soy sauce

3 minced garlic cloves

¼ tsp. Tabasco sauce

In a medium size bowl, combine first 7 ingredients for marinade. Put marinade and breasts in Ziploc, refrigerate at least 3-4 hours or overnight. Combine all ingredients for glaze, set aside covered. Grill chicken over hot coals about 6 minutes per side. Remove chicken from grill, wrap in a single layer of aluminum foil, and grill for 5 minutes more. Remove foil packet from heat, brush each side with glaze, and return unwrapped pieces to the grill for 2 minutes more without turning. Serve immediately.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

...teamwork is important.

Some of Madison's friends from swim team cheering her on during her first 500.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

...pinewood derby is fun. So is winning.

Preston took 1st place amongst the Bears and 1st place overall in his 1st pinewood derby!  Yay Preston!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

...Madison appreciates a fancy cake!

Inspired by the version on the Martha Stewart show, I took shortcuts to make my own.  2 white cake mixes, batter carefully divided by weight into 6 equal portions, then dyed with paste food colors and baked 2 at a time for about 20 minutes each.  THEN... instead of making swiss meringue buttercream (which I absolutely LOVE, but didn't have the time or patience to make that day), I went to smart and final and bought a quart of "Pastry Pride" and whipped to stiff peaks, with some added vanilla, and frosted it with that instead.  I'm not a huge white cake fan, so I think it would have tasted better with the swiss meringue buttercream, but everyone said they loved it.  I like my cakes sweeter though.

...nature makes the best backdrop.

Thursday, April 01, 2010 CAN boil too many eggs.

I boiled 5 dozen eggs.  There is always a fight over everyone wanting more eggs to color, so I did a dozen for each child.  Well... I have 2 dozen left over.  Paige and Madison were too busy with homework, etc., and honestly they really just weren't interested, and the boys were happy with their dozen.  Just another sign that my family is getting older.  So sad.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

...ziplining is AWESOME, but not scary.

Flashback to January and Travis upside down on a zipline in Puerto Vallarta.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

...lunch is sometimes the best part of a shopping trip.

Paige and I went prom dress shopping today and while the highlight for her was finding her prom dress, mine was eating my favorite salad.  It's the "Hawaiian with tri-tip" at Cousin's Burgers in Valencia.  So good.

Monday, March 29, 2010 son is growing into a handsome young man.

I can't believe Conner is 12!  He's growing up so quickly and it's so amazing to watch him pass the sacrament and attend Young Men's activities.  He's loving, and kind, and smart, and funny, and I'm excited to see the man he becomes.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

...homemade donuts are better than store-bought.

Well, I think fast Sunday just demands a decadent dessert, so I thought I'd try my hand at donuts! They were delicious!!!! Maybe not perfectly pretty, but delicious!


2 (.25 ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup shortening

5 cups all-purpose flour
Shortening for frying

1/3 cup butter
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 tablespoons milk or as needed
1. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water, and let stand for 5 minutes, or until foamy.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the yeast mixture, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening, and 2 cups of the flour. Mix for a few minutes at low speed, or stirring with a wooden spoon. Beat in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl. Knead for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Place the dough into a greased bowl, and cover. Set in a warm place to rise until double. Dough is ready if you touch it, and the indention remains.
3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and gently roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with a floured donut cutter. Let donuts sit out to rise again until double. Cover loosely with a cloth.
4. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in confectioners' sugar and vanilla until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in milk one tablespoon at a time until the icing is somewhat thin, but not watery. Set aside.
5. Heat shortening in a deep-fryer or large heavy skillet to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Slide donuts into the hot oil using a wide spatula. Turn donuts over as they rise to the surface. Fry doughnuts on each side until golden brown. Remove from hot oil, to drain on a wire rack. Dip donuts into the glaze while still hot, and set onto wire racks to drain off excess. Keep a cookie sheet or tray under racks for easier clean up.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

...scouts love a field trip.

We had our cub scout pack meeting at the Lockheed Aviation Park in honor of "Aviation Month". Preston had fun looking at all the jets. Too bad it was SO cold and windy! It was forecasted to be 80! What happened?

Friday, March 26, 2010

...a family annual zoo pass is cheaper than individual tickets (for my family).

Went to the LA Zoo today with the kids and my mom and grandma. We were trying to protect "Mams" from the sun, but she ended up looking like a visitor from a foreign country. Cute. You can't tell, but Ty's in his "Jr. Zookeeper" shirt. He'd also just made a 3 point landing and scraped up his nose on the asphalt, but he is the toughest little guy and recovered quickly. The scab took a while to show up, so he still looked fine in this picture. We got a "family membership" so we can go back for a year for free and it saved us $13 today! What a deal!