Saturday, September 29, 2012

An Amazing Sister

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about some things in my life. I've been struggling to feel in control of my life. Some parts I have little to no control over due to circumstance, while other areas I've essentially given away control in an attempt to be accommodating, or to allow myself time to figure things out. Anyway, I have done a lot of talking and thinking and praying and I realized just how much I miss having my sister and best friend around, or at least to be able to pick up the phone and call her and have her set me straight.
Since she is on her mission, I don't tell her every little thing that is going on, and try to keep on the positive and stay focused on the important stuff, but I gave her the highlights version of everything and that girl, well, she wrote back the most wonderful letter! It's incredible how even though time and great distance separate us, she still gets me, and loves me, and gives amazing advice.
She reminds me that I'm worth it...all of it, not just bits and pieces; I kind of lose sight of that occasionally and don't expect much for myself. She reminds me that there is always good to be had in the world and anything worth having is worth working for. And my favorite part of her letter was my "homework assignment" (in almost every letter I am tasked to do something)...she told me to stand in front of the mirror and say "I see pride. I see power. I see a southern, white girl that won't take no crap from nobody." (points to you if you know where that reference was adapted from)!
Love that girl and miss her like crazy!
Also, we went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner tonight and my fortune was perfect for everything I've been feeling. It said that people in my surroundings would be very cooperative (and something else...i just can't remember it now-blast) in the coming week. Hopefully I use my power for good. :)
Here's to a peaceful nights rest, a spiritually rejuvenating day at church tomorrow, and a reminder that I am ALWAYS worth it (and that goes for you, too!!!).

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Launching Mobile Post

I'm a little slow in figuring this out, but there's an app for that! Now I can blog wherever I am instead of being tied to my computer at home, though it likely won't increase my amount if posts, I just feel like one of the cool kids now.
My dear friend, Shelly, posted on Facebook something her grandmother said. It goes like this..."Feel the pain, feel the fear, and then do it anyway." I can't even explain how it inspired me when I saw that yesterday, and in so many ways! At work, I may or may not have a small, but growing pile of "things to do" that I've been putting off for a variety of reasons, but mostly I was nervous about them or didn't know what to do with them. Today, however, with this new motto in my life (and quite handily written and hanging on my desk) I came to work and tackled EVERY LAST THING in that stack, and I did so by 9:00. Just think, weeks of worrying about this stuff and it was over and done in less than 2 hours. That leaves me contemplating other areas of my life that I'm avoiding or ignoring because of fear or pain.
So, my words to you today (and always), "Feel the pain, feel the fear, and then do it anyway".

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Realizations and Ramblings

I'm struggling this weekend and haven't got a lot to I'll just ramble. Believe me, I'll understand when you stop here and click away. :)

Things I've realized this week...and other random thoughts:

  • Things always seem worse when you're tired.
  • When you don't sleep, things don't seem to get better.
  • Sometimes life is hard (regardless of the amount of sleep).
  • Sometimes other people make life hard.
  • Sometimes I make life hard.
  • Most times other people make life so much better!
  • Chickens kind of "pop" if you run over them.
  • Chickens kind of "flop" when you put them in their grave.
  • There is inexplicable joy when your favorite little fluff-ball of a chicken comes running to you when called (can we say new best friend??).
  • There is only so much emotion you can feel, good or bad, before you get a headache (I've had a headache for three days now).
  • Balance in life is so important.
  • Hugs always make me feel better...I could use a hug (or several).
  • I'm really missing being able to go to the temple every week. 
  • I know some of the most amazing people on earth. I am loving the time with the ones I'm with now, but am really missing everyone else that I don't get to see.
  • I'm pretty sure I slept with a spider or some other creepy-crawly last night...I woke up with bites I didn't go to bed with.
  • Sometimes the only thing you can control is your attitude.
  • I just realized the only reason I got my computer out was to find a recipe...and then I started rambling.
  • Cooking/baking is therapeutic..I'm off to the kitchen.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I Read a Book!

Actually, I read two!! I'm so used to having the book in my hand that I struggled getting into it with them on my iTouch, but after I adjusted I loved it! I got to take them everywhere I went, and when I had a few minutes I pulled it out and kept reading!

I read what was at the time the latest of Josi Kilpack's Culinary entitled Banana Split. It had been so long since I'd read the last one that I'd sort of forgotten the story line, but it was pretty good. Unlike some of her other books in this series, I felt a little lost at some parts and didn't quite get how different things played into the story, but that very well could have been me being a little distracted.

The second book was from my other favorite author, Traci Hunter Abramson. Her book is called Royal Secrets. I flew through that one - it really kept my attention. It has a little bit of everything...romance, action, suspense...what's not to love!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls Recipe Attempt

There is a problem I have with this doesn't currently exist. I sort of made it up as I went along, but figured I should make an attempt to get it in writing. So, I'm going to piece it together the best I can.

For the bread, I used my favorite Basic Roll Dough:
3 - 3 1/4 cups unsifted flour
1 pkg or T of dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
3 T butter (melted)
1 egg

In large mixing bow, combine 1 cup of the flour with dry yeast, salt, and sugar. Heat milk and butter until very warm (I don't have a temperature...I just dip my *clean* finger in it and as long as it doesn't make me cry in pain, it's usually pretty good); add to the flour mixture along with the egg. Beat two minutes. By hand (until I moved home I did this all by hand, but this time I borrowed mom's bread machine and let it do the mixing/kneading for me...heaven!!), stir in the remaining flour to form a stiff dough. Cover and let rise until doubled in size - approximately 1 hour.

Turn out onto a floured surface. Toss to coat well with flour. Knead a few times or until no longer sticky. Make into rolls or whatever (seriously...that's what it says on my recipe card).

Place on a greased baking sheet. Let rise about 30 minutes and bake 15-20 minutes in a hot, 400 degree oven. (For this recipe, I baked it at 350 degrees, so if you cook it hotter, just keep an eye on it).

For the Caramel Sauce (can someone please explain to me why "carmel" isn't recognize by my spell checker - I don't actually say "caramel", but I just can't handle the red squiggly line telling me I spelled it incorrectly):
I didn't measure anything...just sort of played with it until it was what I wanted. It was a combination of butter, brown sugar, cream cheese (just a little bit), heavy cream, and vanilla. I boiled it until it was at soft ball stage or there about. Set aside - or you can go ahead and just put a layer of caramel in the bottom of your baking pan - I used a 9x13 dish.

For the Apples:
I used three Granny Smith apples, sliced thin. In a frying pan, I put a little butter in the bottom and melted it - to that, I added all of the apples. I then sprinkled them with a some cinnamon and added just a bit of brown sugar. Again, no measurements. (As I type this, I realize what a miracle it is that these even turned out!!) I let these cool before I used them in the dough. It also let some of the water from the apples escape so I could drain them before they went in. Keep in mind that if they're too wet, your rolls will get VERY soggy, and no one wants that. Cook the apples until they are tender - but not mushy. They should old their shape but should wiggle if you picked it up.

Time to assemble! If you haven't already done it, put your caramel sauce in your baking dish. Use as little or as much as you want. Roll your dough out in a rectangle (or as close as you can get to it...I still don't know what shape I had!) on a lightly floured surface. Spread a little butter (don't go crazy...please...just enough so your sugar will stick) on the dough. Sprinkle a little brown sugar to cover the dough (again...use some moderation here - you don't want these to be too sweet). Then, sprinkle with just a bit of cinnamon. Now to the fun part! Take your apples and arrange them on your dough. Remember, you're going to be rolling and then cutting these, so you may want to lay them the direction you'll be rolling the dough. 

Once you're satisfied that you have enough apples, roll your dough as you normally would for cinnamon rolls.   Cut into approximately 1-inch sliced and lay directly into caramel layer. Your caramel should be cool so your dough will rest and rise equally before baking. I let mine rise until all of the rolls were touching - probably about 30 mins or so. Place into hot oven and bake until golden brown - about 20 - 30 mins. Once they're done baking, flip the pan over and dump the rolls onto a tray, serving dish, or plate...whatever you've got. 

Grab a glass of milk, a napkin, and a fork (it's too hot to touch and the caramel will scald careful!!). Dish one up for yourself and if you feel so inclined, for the person sitting next to you.

Daily Affirmations

Today at work, one of my coworkers came out with a happy face 8 ball (you know the 8 balls you shake and it gives you an answer?? Same thing, except it is a bright yellow happy face and has only positive messages). She told me that when she's having a bad day and people are dragging her down, she grabs her happy ball (I seriously need to come up with a better name for that) and reads positive thoughts for or about her. As the conversation went, we ended up thinking of this video and I couldn't help posting it here tonight. I LOVE this video. I think this is such a great habit to get into. I used to be better about doing this (though I was older and not as energetic...and thankfully not on camera) and have gotten out of the routine, but I feel like I'm going to get back to realizing all of the great things I have in my life and the things I like about myself. So, please excuse me while I talk to myself in the car...(or anywhere else for that matter). :)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

A year or so ago I wanted to make cinnamon rolls, but was feeling a bit creative and made caramel apple cinnamon rolls. They weren't perfect then - bread didn't rise properly, the apples were too wet, the caramel not sticky enough (maybe my expectations were too high??), but the flavor was good. Well, my mom told my aunt about them once and she's requested them a time or two, but I've never made them. Well, yesterday was her birthday and I decided to finally grant her request. I give you the new and improved version of Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls. Please excuse the small picture - not sure what it's problem is today. 

These were DIVINE! I try not to eat before bed, or if I do I try to make it something healthy, but when these came out of the oven at 11:30 last night, I just had to have a bite...which became five, and it was worth it! After I filled the pan with the rolls, I still had the a portion of the "log" created from rolling the dough up for cinnamon rolls so I put it on a pan and baked it just how it was. That's what I tasted and it was heavenly. However, I recommend making this earlier in the day so you can enjoy them - and share them...and also have a glass of milk.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dad and the Case of the Invisible Ketchup (and Other Tales from the Recovery Room)

Last Monday, my dad had shoulder surgery.  If you’ve ever been with anyone coming out of anesthesia, you are likely aware of what a great time it can be. For the record, this man is HILARIOUS!! Let’s start with my favorite…shall we?

Before he went into surgery, dad told mom that he wanted a hamburger and French fries waiting for him once he got to his room. So, being the wonderful woman she is (and the hungry people we were), we went and picked up his request (and dinner for ourselves). When we got back to the hospital, he was already there waiting for us. He was clearly still under the influence of the anesthesia, but was alert and hungry (the poor guy told everyone that came in the room that he hadn’t been able to eat anything since about 9 pm the day before – about 7 pm at this point…almost 24 hours). We got his dinner set up on the tray; hamburger wrapped for easy one handed eating; fries in a convenient little box, and ketchup in small container to eliminate some of the mess.  He made it through the burger just fine, but was getting really tired by the time he really tried to concentrate on the fries.
He would grab a couple of fries and then fall asleep before they made it to his mouth. I was concerned about him getting ketchup everywhere, so trying to be responsible, I threw the container away and told mom that we would open another one when we woke up again, or so we planned…
(Please tell me I don't sound like this in person...please??)
And in case you're wondering, he did this for about 30 minutes!

After he finished his dinner, the nurse brought in his dinner plate. He was concerned about appearing ungrateful or too picky, so he insisted that he eat some. We fed him a bit of the cabbage and some of the rice and gravy. Mom asked him if he wanted the pears that were on the tray. There were only two pieces (somewhere between thirds and halves) in the cup and mom started feeding them to him. He finished them off in about 4 or 5 bites, but on his last bite, he started fussing and asking where all the pears were coming from; that he had already eaten a gallon of them and asking what we were trying to do to him.
Another point during the evening, he fell asleep and mom and I were just sitting there talking. Without any warning, the man opened his eyes and “sang” a couple of the words to the song “Pontoon” by Little Big Town. The song says “on the pontoon”. Well, under the effects of anesthesia, dad sang “I’m a pontoon”. I had to bury my face in his bed to keep from laughing out loud and eventually had to excuse myself for a moment. He did this twice during the evening. When we got him home the next day, he told us he heard that song shortly before he went into surgery. I guess he just had it on his mind.
The last really good story (at least to me) was trying to find him something to watch on TV. Monday and Thursday nights are his nights to watch wrestling. So, in the hospital, we located the TV guide and determined which channel would provide his entertainment for the evening. Would you believe that out of all the available channels, the one channel he wanted wasn’t enabled? I broke news that there would be no wrestling for him that night. He was soooo disappointed and very unhappy, but fell asleep mid conversation, so we put something else on while he slept. Not even five minutes later he woke up again and asked me to put wrestling on. I reminded him (or so I thought) that the channel was unavailable. There is a good possibility he was more disappointed the second time hearing the news than the first. It was almost pathetic and I felt like I should have had some alternative solution, but alas I had none.
In case you’re wondering, he is doing very well. He’s going a little stir crazy having his arm strapped to his side and doing everything one handed, but he’s a trooper. Depending on his recovery, he’ll likely have the other shoulder done in about three months. You had better believe I’m taking the day off and charging the batteries in my camera…we’re not missing anything next time. J

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pinterest Attack

The last couple of days I've attacked some of my Pinterest pins and have made several things. I made...
Peanut Butter Topped Cupcakes (I stuffed them with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups too!). This very well may be the BEST frosting I've ever had. Not too sweet and super fluffy. Totally makes me happy!
Chocolate Chip Cookie dough and pudding layered dessert (I haven't got a clue what it's actually called, but it was pretty good - I would definitely made it again).
Mississippi Sin dip - haven't got a clue where the name comes from, but it was delicious. You really don't have to bake it in a loaf of bread, but I liked it that way (even though I didn't get to eat the crunchy bread, I'm sure it would have been amazing).
And because I love having kids around and doing fun things with them, indoors especially when it's super hot outside. Today, we made slime! It was so much fun. I'm pretty sure the kids enjoyed it, but it ended up that my sister-in-law and I sat at the table together playing with it long after they were done. Just mix equal parts of liquid starch and clear glue and mix together. Way too much fun!