Monday, September 12, 2011


Jumping back in.  Its been a long 491 days since I've last posted, & lots of changes on the homefront.  I have the most amazing brown-eyed boy, whom just celebrated his 1 yr. Birthday, & will soon be hearing another set of tiny foot steps in our home. 
Its good to be back...more to come. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Spring has finally arrived in Alaska, the beautiful blue skied days have been reaching temps in the low 60's, & it's almost time to start planting flowers outdoors.  This year, I started begonias & peonies indoors, & have already purchased fuschia starts as I had a hard time finding them last year.  Our yard is still brown, but their are little shoots coming up in my flower beds.  We have approx. 16 1/2 hrs of daylight, & I've been finding it difficult to sleep when the bright sun is shining in the bedroom window at 6am! 

My fuschia starts are enjoying the sun with some peonies (I use cut up milk jugs to temporarily grow them in until there ready to go outdoors), & my crazy begonias.  I started the Salmon & Yellow begonias the end of March, from tubers, & it looks like they're ready to go outdoors as they've gotten very large!

My sweet Lucy is enjoying the sunshine.  All of the Pugs love being outside when the weather is warm.  And, I purchased a hydrangea plant last year & weathered it in the house over the winter.  Little blooms are finally starting to appear!

I recently celebrated my 30th Birthday (wowza!)...sometimes I still feel like a teenager, time sure flies by.  Mother's Day took on a whole new meaning this year as a mom-to-be.  We can't wait until the big d-day in August to finally meet our little one!   Kyle has been thrilled these last couple of weeks as he has been able to hear the heartbeat with a fetal monitor, & then he felt/saw several kicks a couple of days ago. 

Between working & housework, it seems there is just not enough time in the day.  Im planning a freezer food list for the first month, after the baby is born, so that we really won't have to worry about food planning & preparation.  Most of the meals will be easy enough to toss in the oven for an hour or two and then, viola, dinner is served :-)  So far the dinner menu consists of; lasagna, meatloaf, enchiladas, salsbury steak, porcupine balls & rice, and chicken & rice.  Breakfast and lunch will be more convenient items such as muffins, cereal, canned soups/chili, sandwiches, & salads. 

Hoping that your Spring days are fantastic. 
Im looking forward to an exciting summer...until next time :-)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Catching up

Always something interesting to see; I spotted these two giants in the parking lot next to work. They weren't too fazed by people, but seemed content to munch on the trees in the area, they actually eat bark in the winter, weird huh!   And yes, that is how it currently looks outside. 

Its been fairly quiet around the house, but with spring around the corner, I have been itching for summer & all the glorious sunny days that we have here in Alaska.  Yes, sadly its still winter"ish" here.  Lots of snow on the ground and highs in the upper 30's.  We officially don't have the all clear to plant outside until memorial day weekend, which has always been considered the first frost free days here in Alaska.  On a happy note, our days are getting longer & its still light out at 9:30 pm, during the summer solstice, it will still be light out at it!  This years plants, that I've started indoors, include yellow & salmon begonias, & pink peonies.  As we will be quite busy this summer, Im going to keep my starter plants to a minimum & pick up most of my flowers at a local nursery. 

We have an array of household tasks to complete before late summer that include insulating the crawl space, refinishing our large redwood deck, drywall & paint in our living room as well as a bathroom remodel in the master bedroom.  The living room & bathroom work is the result of a leak from our jacuzzi tub, definitely not a planned project & we were upset to find out that only the barest of cosmetic work is covered by insurance whereas the replacement of the tub, tile work, flooring, sub flooring, & cost of hiring a plumber will fall to us to take care of.  This being our only insurance claim in nearly 10 years, it makes you wonder just why you pay insurance when they aren't there when you need them...I could go on & on !

With the heavy load I've been carrying lately, I seem to run out of steam quickly and find that my evenings after work are normally filled with a nap or soak in the tub, followed by making a quick dinner & watching an episode of 24 with Kyle, then off to dream land.  I never imagined that a few extra pounds would be such a pain, but when its centrally located, I can see first hand just what a couple of pounds does  :-)  Yes...I am pregnant, we are expecting the end of August!  After trying for several years, we feel extremely blessed, god is good

My little friend...

I'd like to introduce you to my newest little friend. 

Well...he's not completely new, as we've been buddies for many, many years.  Tucked away safely, I do forget about him from time to time, & then I stumble upon this...

Kyle & I celebrated this years Valentine's Day at a local Italian Restaurant, & I was surprised by a sweet heartfelt gift from Kyle.   

I was my little friend! 
He's now more fit as an adult gift, but I still love my original Thumper  :-)    I'm such a softie, I actually cried!  Somethings, no matter how old you get, still hold a lot of sentiment in them.  My dearest Thumper is made from Swarovski Crystal, & his little nose it pink, how cute!

Now, I just need to get working on a curio case to display my treasures...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day

We celebrated our St. Patrick's Day a bit early this year.  A family get together on Sunday was a great way to share my love of the traditional holiday meal of Corned Beef & Cabbage.  Below you will find my recipe for Corned Beef, which is something that is made year round in our home.  And, a new recipe that I developed this year, for a green punch.

Corned Beef with Potatoes & Cabbage
4 lbs Corned Beef Brisket
8-10 C Water*
Seasoning packet  (packaged seperately from the corned beef)
6 Beef Bouillion Cubes
4 Whole Cloves
2 Tbsp. Worchestershire Sauce
8-10 Medium Potatoes, cut in half  (Reds, & Golden Yukons work best)
1 Lg Head of Green Cabbage, cut into 8th's

In large pot, place brisket in bottom, & cover with at least 8 C water.  Bring the water up to a boil, skim the surface removing any foam.  Add in seasoning packet, bouillion cubes, cloves, & worchestershire.  Turn heat to medium, cover with a lid, & let simmer 2 - 2 1/2 hours. 
Add in potatoes, cover with lid, & let boil 20 minutes, check for doneness. Continue to boil if potatoes are still under cooked, but don't exceed 30 minutes. 
Remove potatoes & corned beef from pot, & place on a platter, keeping everything warm in a 200 degree oven. 
Add cabbage wedges to boiled water, cover with lid, & let cook 5-8 minutes. 
Slice brisket against the grain & serve everything piping hot!

*If your cooking corned beef that is over 4 lbs, use more water when boiling*

Green Punch
2, 2 Liters Sprite, or 7up (Diet also works well)
4 Cans Frozen Limeade
1 Liter Mountain Dew
5-6 Drops Green Food Dye
Lime Slices

Combine sprite, limeade, mt. dew, & green food dye in a large pot.  Keep chilled.  When ready to serve, pour into glasses with some ice & a couple of lime slices.

Our platter of Corned beef, potatoes, & cabbage.   And a nice big glass of green punch!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Warm Lava Cakes

I like making one special dessert a week, this doesn't always happen, but I like having something to indulge in throughout the week, & helps me look forward to the weekend when I can make a new sweet recipe! 

I love making these when I need a chocolately fix.  Due to the massive amount of eggs the recipe calls for, you can half the recipe and still make quite a few cakes.  I like to serve these with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream, but there equally as tasty with a scoop of Caramel Ice Cream!

You can find my recipe for Lava Cakes, HERE. 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Lovely Sugar Cookies

Mom & Dad,
     I am thinking of you today & how you always made Valentine's Day special for us when we were growing up.  Childhood memories & mom's Sugar Cookie Recipe were the inspiration for today's post.
With most of my recipes, I eventually modify them somewhat, but with this one, it has remained unchanged.  I cheat when it comes to "rolling out" the dough, see below. 

Mom's Sugar Cookies
1 C Shortening
1 1/2 C Granular Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Tbsp. Milk
1 Tbsp. Vanilla Extract
2 1/2 C All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder

Cream shortening & sugar together.  Add in eggs, milk, & vanilla, stirring well between each addition.  In a medium bowl combine flour & powder, then add into shortening mixture.  Stir well to combine.  Wrap up, in log shape, & chill overnight for best flavor.

When ready to bake, slice into uniform pieces, & round out the sides.  I use a creme brulee dish bottom dipped in flour to push them into evenly round shapes.  You could use a glass or even a measuring cup to do this.

Bake at 425 Degrees for 5-9 minutes.
Once in the oven to bake, I take a flexible cutting board & place it under the cooling rack (to collect crumbs, keep down on the mess).  This batch took 8 minutes to bake, you can see how they look on the tops & bottom. 

Let cool completely before icing.

1 C Powdered Sugar
4+ Tbsp. Milk
Combine ingredients, add more milk if too dry.  I prefer my icing on the thick side so that it doesn't run. 

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Around the house

So, what have I been up to, you ask?!?

Making ribbon heart streamers for my dining room chandelier.  My inspiration for this decoration can be found HERE

I also made a batch of Valentine's Day themed sugar cookies, the recipe will be posted tomorrow, 2-14!

Making more homemade butter, yummy!  You can find my tutorial/recipe HERE.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Valentine's Decorations

I made these cute hearts to decorate our fireplace for Valentine's Day.  I  purchased the foam hearts in various sizes, along with the cute love phrases, at Jo-Ann's.  Then added some colorful buttons, & hot glued everything onto some red ribbon.  Finally, a couple of red heart candles added to the mantle, & voila, all decorated!

I convinced Kyle to help me decorate them  :-)
A more detailed look of the hearts, aren't they cute!!!

*I took my inspiration from these felt hearts at the Little Birdie Secrets.

Cheesy Polenta with Tomato Chile Sauce

Yummy! Yummy! Yummy!

While attending Culinary School, I purchased a lot of cook books which most of them I have gotten rid of due to lack of interest.  During the school year, there were intensive weekend courses that I would attend, they would last 4 weeks, at 6 hrs each Saturday, & would encompass the same work load as a full semester course.  One of my favorites was a Healthy Cooking class aimed at tasty dishes that were healthier than their traditional recipes.

My favorite recipe in the book was a dish that included beef tenderloin set atop cheesy polenta, & garnished with chile sauce.  I modified the recipe a bit to use some leftover pulled pork & tamed the heat of the sauce by omitting the cayenne powder. 

4 C Chicken broth or stock
6 oz. Yellow Cornmeal
1/4 C Grated Parmesan (I used a blend of parmesan & cheddar) + more for garnish
2 tsp. Salt

Heat broth/stock to a simmer in medium saucepan.  Gradually pour cornmeal into broth, while stirring constantly to avoid clumps.  Cook over low heat, stirring nearly constantly, with a wooden spoon, until the polenta pulls away from the sides of the pan, approx. 25 minutes. 

Remove from heat, stir in cheese & salt.

Brush sides & bottom of 9x9 pan with water & add polenta to pan.  Spread evenly, cool, & cover with plastic until ready to serve. 

The first picture shows the cornmeal just added to the chicken broth/stock.  The next picture shows the finished product after it has cooked 25 minutes & all of the liquid is absorbed.

The Polenta is spread in a 9x9 pan.  You can use a 9x13 pan for smaller slices of polenta. 

Tomato Chile Sauce
2 Tbsp. Oil
2 Tbsp. Onion - chopped fine
3 oz. Tomato Paste (half of a small can)
2 tsp. Garlic - minced fine
2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
2 tsp. White wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. Chile Powder
1 C Chicken broth or stock
3/4 C Beef broth or stock

Heat oil in a small pan over medium, add in the onion & saute until translucent.  Add in tomato paste & cook until rusty colored (don't burn!).  Add in the garlic, brown sugar, vinegar, chile powder, & chicken broth/stock. 

Bring sauce to a simmer, let cook 20 minutes, don't forget to stir!  Once thickened, add in beef broth/stock & let simmer an additional 10 minutes.  At this point, you can puree the sauce if desired. 

For Color:
1/2 Red Pepper - sliced thin
1/2 C Zucchini - sliced thin
1/2 C Yellow Squash - sliced thin
1 tsp. Salt

Saute pepper, zucchini, & squash in a small amount of oil until cooked through, sprinkle salt to finish.  *This was omitted in this preparation of the recipe due to not having any of these items, they are a great color addition to the dish and complement the flavors.*

To assemble I cut rounds of Polenta, use a large cookie cutter, top with a small amount of additional parmesan & cheddar mix, set under low broiler just until cheese melts (you could also melt in microwave in 15-20 seconds).  Place a small amount of tomato chile sauce on the plate, top with the cheesy polenta, add on the shredded pork (or Beef Tenderloin), sauteed veggies, & garnish the top with more tomato chile sauce.   

Wolf Moon

On Friday, we viewed a wonderful Wolf Moon which is the largest full moon of the year.  The moon was within 221,577 miles of Earth, and appeared 30% larger & 14% brighter.

Not sure how I caught this shot as this is not a time lapse photo, but interesting none the less!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sleepy girl

I truly thought that my lack of posts was due to the hectic time around the holidays, but that seems to not be the case.  I've been in a funk the last couple of weeks, constantly ready for a nap, & it seems like I'm always behind on housework.  

BUT, I had a burst of energy this weekend, & I spent most of Saturday re-arranging two rooms, going through belongings & hauling 3 boxes to the Goodwill.  With all the different crafting that I enjoy, it was evident that it was time to trim my crafting supplies from 6 large rubbermade totes down to 4.  Im sure that I won't miss any of it.  Hopefully Sunday will be just as productive. 

I picked up some lovely dishes at the thrift store a week or so ago.  We have a small amount of dishes, service for 4, and it always seems that we are in need of small plates.  I found 3 plates, they are Mikasa's Blue River, made from 1975-1981 & sell for $11.99 at replacement cost.  I picked them up for .49c each, not a bad investment, & I like the splash of color!

On the downside, my carpet cleaner kicked the bucket this week, so we will be budgeting for several months to purchase a new one.  Our first cleaner lasted 6 years so well worth the $300 investment, & I couldn't imagine not having one on hand between the dog messes, our messes, & the inevitable daily grime that is brought into the house. 

The Pugs say HI!!  They aren't very happy about getting kicked from the second bedroom & being relocated to the office nook, which was previously my crafting area.  And now they know the second we awake in the morning & if we don't let them out pronto they wine until we do! 

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Banana Split Cake

The title says it all!

Banana Split Cake
2 1/2 C Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/2 C Granular Sugar
2/3 C Margarine or butter - melted
16 oz. Cream Cheese - softened
2 C Powdered Sugar
2 Medium cans crushed pineapple - drained  (you can use this juice for the Mountain Dew Salad!)
6 Medium/Large Bananas - cut into 1/2 in. thick slices
1 Lg. Tub of Cool Whip
Chocolate Syrup
Maraschino Cherries

Combine graham cracker crumbs, granular sugar, & margarine/butter press into bottom of 9 x 13 pan.  Bake 375 degrees for 5 minutes, let cool completely.

In medium bowl combine cream cheese, powdered sugar & mix until smooth.  Spread evenly over cooled crust.  Layer pineapple over cream cheese & top that with the banana slices.  Completely cover banana slices with cool whip. 

Let chill til ready to serve.  Garnish top with chocolate syrup & maraschino cherries before cutting.

Another weekend

My...I really have no idea where the time has gone!  I still haven't fully recovered from the rush of the holidays and this is the first time I've sat down to the computer in over a week. 

Our little Winston's eye finally healed and all is well with our spunky little boy.  I am still administering his eye drops once a day, down from his 4x a day perscription from the vet.  We will probably continue the drops for another week just to make sure.

Here are some recipes that I'll be making over our extended weekend, we have Monday off due to Martin Luther King Day. 

Surprise Pancakes
     Heat oven to 450 Degrees.  Put 1/4 C butter in a 9 x 13 pan, place in middle rack in oven to heat up.  Meanwhile in a blender combine:
1 C All Purpose Flour
1 C Milk
1 tsp. Salt
4 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla extract

Combine for 1 minute until well blended.  Open oven door & pour batter into pan (don't remove pan from oven).  Do Not Stir!  Bake in oven 15 minutes.  No Peeking!  Cut into wedges & serve with butter & syrup (or fruit & whipped cream). 

Mountain Dew Salad
4 C Boiling water
2 C Cold Mountain Dew
1 C Pineapple Juice
2, 6 oz. packages Lemon Jello
2 cans Lemon pie filling
2 C Cool whip or whipped cream

Dissolve jello in boiling water.  Stir in Mountain Dew & pineapple juice.  Refrigerate until thick but not set.  Once thickened, add pie filling & cool whip to jello mix.  Pour into 9 x 13 pan & refrigerate until set.  When ready to serve, garnish with more cool whip.

I've been slowly working on some recipes to see how freezable/reheatable they are.  I am hoping to tackle some meals in advance by doubling or tripling the recipes & freezing them for future meals.  I'm excited to share those recipes once I get the kinks worked out. 

My next test recipe involves a breakfast casserole comprised of cubed potatoes, sausage, scrambled eggs, & cheddar cheese.  I have never frozen scrambled eggs before so we'll see how it goes!

P.S.  Winnie says Hi!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I'm back!!

Our family enjoyed the holiday season, with hopes that 2010 will be even better!  Im slowly getting back into the grove of things so bear with me  :-)

It seems that there is always something going on, Winston scratched his eye & is now on a round of antibiotics as well as two different eye drops.  He scratched off part of some scarring that was on his eye, at the vets they numbed his eye, & removed the loose piece.  One of the meds he is on is a Serum, they draw some of his blood & spin it to separate the white blood cells from the rest, then you administer the white blood cells as eye drops.  He has had allergic reactions to eye meds in the past & with the Serum there is no risk of this because it comes from his own body.   He isn't sure what to think with all the fuss, below you can see just what he looks like after he gets both eye drops.  If I bribe him with a treat he will follow me to get the meds, but he huffs & puffs afterwards for about 15 min. & puts on this pitiful face. 

Poor 'ol one eye Winnie!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Waldorf Salad

New Year, New Recipe...Enjoy!

~Waldorf Salad~
3 - 4 Medium Apples - core, chop in 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 - 2 Tbsp. Lime Juice
1/3 C Walnuts - rough chop
1/2 C Celery - rough chop
1/3 C Raisins or Craisins (optional)
3/4 C Cool Whip
1/3 C Mayonnaise

Take prepared apples, drizzle lime juice over top & toss lightly to coat, use more lime juice if needed to coat all pieces.  Add in walnuts, celery, & raisins/craisins.  Combine cool whip & mayonnaise in a medium bowl, mix until well blended.  Pour over apple mixture, & fold in.  Serve chilled.

*I find that if it seems there is more dressing than filling, I just chop up & add in another apple to compensate.*  You could also try a blend of apples & pears!!