Saturday, August 30, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Jeff & Katy

This was a crazy run-around photo shoot - from Provo to Orem. These two were willing to try anything, full of good ideas and, of course, crazy about each other.

Sorry that there are a million pictures - I couldn't narrow my favorites down!

Thanks Ed for the good location ideas.

Katy wanted fun and non-typical pictures and I think we captured their special personalities in a lot of our shots. Especially these when she wanted a dip in the river. Jeff happily went along with whatever she thought of... but you can tell that the water isn't as warm as he had hoped.

Of all the places in the world, we ended up at the water plant where Joe works to catch a great sunset. Thanks you guys, I really had fun with you!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

New Blog Header

I have a family blog that I keep private where I document the goings-on of my kids, husband and family in general. I've been trying out new backgrounds, headers and "looks" for a while - trying to find something that was just right. I hit upon this idea a few days ago and I've been working on it. Yesterday I finally got the header and background finished and I was so excited that I wanted to share it here as well. If you like my work and want something designed for your own use, you can always e-mail me at

Usually my most recent work is my favorite and the same holds true for this one. I had so much fun with the silhouettes that I think I might have them printed and framed and hang them in our living room. I wonder if it's a tradition I can keep up with the kids, since their little faces will grow and change so much. Already Minnie's profile looks so much more mature while Little Man's is still very baby-like. I have all kinds of decor ideas going through my head with these... we'll see which ones I actually follow through with!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Plum jam

Last year my mother-in-law made enough strawberry freezer jam to supply a developing country... or so we thought. The cartons of jam took up half of my chest freezer but every time a brother- or sister-in-law came to visit they would help themselves to the jam. Last week they took the last 2 containers and we are out of jam.

Joe's boss has a plum tree (not the regular purple plums, these are green/red on the outside, bright red inside and more tart) with tons of fruit. He invited us over to pick plums and we got enough to fill a large stock pot. And so we begin the jam-making process again.

I didn't want to go through the process of removing the skins, so this is how I made the jam. I guess technically it would be called jelly - except that doesn't sound as fancy. Anyway, wash your plums and chunk them in a big pot. Put in a cup or so of water and slowly bring it to a boil. Crush the plums with a potato masher to release the juice. The fruit will scorch if there is not enough liquid.

Keep mashing and stirring until it all comes up to a boil - let it simmer until the fruit is soft and mushy. Strain the juice out with a colander or cheese cloth.

Once you have your plum juice you can follow the directions for jam (or jelly) on the package of pectin. Just make sure you have:

1 box of pectin for every 6 cups of juice
oodles of sugar
clean mason jars, rings and lids
a deep pot so you can water bath the jars when they're filled with jam

The whole process is pretty easy but it does take a considerable amount of time. I suggest putting a good movie in so you can listen to it while you're stirring/mashing/waiting/stirring. I have a set of project movies for when I'm quilting or working on things like this (they need to have good music, be fun to listen to even if you can't see the picture the entire time and be long enough that you're not switching out the disks all the time). Some of my recommendations are:

My Fair Lady
North and South
Pride and Prejudice
Lord of the Rings

I bet other people could suggest some other great ones in the comments. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Want to win a Cricut?

Vanilla Joy is giving one away this week - along with lots of other crafting prizes. So get over there and enter to win!

Monday, August 25, 2008

What are your thoughts?

Yes yes, I'm behind the times, but in June it was announced that a remake of My Fair Lady is in the works. Rumored to re-create the role of Eliza Dolittle is Keira Knightley.

This is one of my all-time favorite movies so I was pretty sad to hear this. To be fair, Knightley does look a little Hepburn-esque and would look the part of Eliza. And I didn't mind her in Pirates of the Caribbean. But my intense dislike for her started when she starred as Elizabeth Bennet in the 2005 remake of Pride and Prejudice. Her acting lacked depth and she was totally unbelievable as either a caring, sympathetic sister or a girl falling in love. I thought she portrayed Lizzie as brusque and snide instead of the intelligent, clever and gently sarcastic girl she is meant to be. You might say there is little difference , but I loved the original book and to me, it was all the difference in the world.

So that's my mini-rant on Keira Knightley. While there are many, many actresses who would be even worse in the now-famous role of Eliza, I can't imagine that Knightley could catch the subtle nuances, innocent sweetness or the sheer classiness of the part that Hepburn made famous on screen. My question is: who do YOU think should get the part? While you're thinking about it, who would make a good Henry Higgins?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Spaghetti sauce

Using my 60+ pounds of tomatoes, I made some spaghetti sauce and bottled it. I did the meatless variety, figuring that I might want to add chicken or sausage or something other than ground beef to the sauce later.

I followed these instructions almost exactly - except I added herbs and seasonings to suit my taste. Go easy on your seasonings since they might get bitter over time if you add too much.

Things that are high-acidity (like the pepper jelly) are safe to can in a water bath but things that are low-acidity (like green beans) are not and either require extra acid or the use of a pressure canner. Tomatoes are right on the fence of high/low-acidity and so most recipes will suggest adding vinegar to make the sauce more acidic...yuck. If you're going to bottle your own spaghetti sauce, maybe buy or borrow a pressure canner just for the sake of good-tasting sauce.

The other thing I noticed is that the amount of head space (air between the sauce and the lid) increased a lot after bottling. I think the tomatoes or peppers cook down and leave more air at the top, since I filled the jars almost to the top before sealing them.

I had one jar that I left open so we could eat it and it has been delicious. I'm looking forward to yummy, garden-fresh spaghetti sauce all winter!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lavender Wreath

For our not-so-fancy, not-so-romantic anniversary, we went on a short and simple date. We shared a salad at Art City Trolley which has The Best Salads in the whole world. They're also the biggest salads ever so if you don't have someone to share, ask for a box right away, pack up half of it and then eat the other half (thanks for the tip Cicada).

Anyway, I've been telling Joe that I wanted to make a lavender wreath and there are lots of lavender bushes growing on the side of the road. Finding one is pretty easy... finding one that isn't part of someone's landscaping proved to be more difficult. We finally did locate a big bush that was far enough away from a driveway to pick from and got a big bunch of lavender.

You will need a bare grapevine wreath (about $3 from WalMart), florist's wire, wire cutters (or old junky scissors), pretty ribbon and a four-year-old to supervise ("What are you doing Mom? What are you doing Mom? What are you....").

First, fashion a hanger out of the wire. Good ways of doing this are here, here and here (you might have to scroll down a bit).

I used the instructions on this blog as a start for my wreath, but mine is a bit different. Separate your lavender into 10-12 bundles (depending on the size of your wreath). Leave a few lone pieces out, just to fill in the gaps. Wrap each bundle with a bit of wire. I tucked the ends of my lavender stems into the wreath so I didn't wrap any of the florist's tape around them.

Start tucking your lavender bundles into the wreath at about a 30-degree angle. Let the "fan" of the next bundle cover up the stems of the first. Move around the wreath until you get back to your starting position. Use the spare stems to fill in any empty spaces.

Tie a pretty bow with your ribbon and secure it with some glue or a few stitches. Thread wire through the back of the ribbon and use it to attach the bow to the wreath. Hang and enjoy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Jalapeño pepper jelly

My lone jalapeño plant has started producing some excellent chili peppers, so I decided to make some pepper jelly with them.

Jalapeño Pepper Jelly...
12-18 jalapeño peppers (4 cups when chopped)
cider vinegar
pectin (powder, liquid, no-sugar... follow the recipe on the type of pectin that you buy because I have found that the amounts of vinegar and sugar change)
rubber gloves
6 1/2-pint Mason jars, lids and rings
jar funnel, jar lifter, water bath ** (for these small jars, any large pot will do)

Make sure your jars are free from any chips or cracks. I think the fastest way to sterilize them is to run them through the dishwasher, making sure your hot-dry setting is on. Put the lids in a pot of boiling water (use new lids each time you can something so the wax seal is new and good.) **Note: you don't HAVE to can the jelly. You can put it in the sterile jars and keep it in the fridge if you want. For lots of canning questions or more detailed instructions, check the insert that will come with the box of pectin, or this website.

1. Your peppers should be firm and crisp. Limp, wrinkled or old peppers will make your jelly bitter. Wear your rubber gloves to keep the hot peppers off your hands (the capsaicin is hard to wash off your hands and can really burn your eyes and mouth). Cut off the stems, slice them in half and remove the seeds. The ribs of the peppers are where a lot of the heat is stored. Scrape them out the jelly will be milder, leaving them in will make it hotter.

2. Put the sliced peppers and 1 cup of the vinegar in a blender or food processor. Pulse until peppers are finely chopped.

3. Add peppers, the rest of the vinegar and sugar to a large saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil. Add liquid pectin - squeezing as much as you can from the packet. Boil for 1 minute. Skim the foam from the top.

4. Ladle the jelly into your sterilized jars. Retrieve lids from hot water - seat lid on jar. Screw on ring until just hand-tight.

5. Submerge jars in a pot of water, bring to a boil. Boil for 10-15 minutes to process. Remove from water and place in a draft-free place for at least 12 hours or until completely cooled. Check to make sure each lid has sealed (it should stay tightly down and not move or "pop" when you press it.) If jar is not sealed, put in the fridge and use immediately. If jars sealed correctly, store in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 18 months (after 18 months jelly might be runny but is still usable).

My favorite way to eat the pepper jelly is on some good wheat crackers with cream cheese. I've been looking for some other recipes that use it though and here's a good start. If you have a recipe for something good that uses the pepper jelly, be sure to e-mail it to me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Today's the big day! 8 years ago today, Joe and I were married. Last year I created a video slideshow of our 7 years together so you can look at that if you want to. This year, instead of the same-ol-same-ol wedding memories, I think I'll share some of the funnier ones.

This is my favorite wedding photo - taken by our friend Brandon. He also took a few extreme-closeups of our guests with the disposable cameras and I'm pretty sure he wore his Billy Bob teeth while he was doing it. Really, I needed an alternate personality or evil twin to go around taking THESE pictures, because they're the things I wanted to remember.

It's too bad I know so many great photographers right now because it makes me sad about our wedding pictures. There must have not been many photographers to choose from in the small town where I grew up because I think I ended up with Ralph's Photo Hut and Bait Shop. He seriously took some weird, mechanical and boring pictures - all in front of this lame, Prom-style backdrop of white columns. His style has become one of my big pet peeves in wedding pictures - Innumerable Family Combinations. "OK let's get the bride and her sisters and girl cousins. OK now the groom and his parents and great-uncles twice removed. Now we'll get everyone who is wearing red, purple or mauve on the left..." and so on.

I hear we had good food at the reception but I couldn't eat anything. There were barbecue meatballs and smoked sausages and All Things That Will Stain a White Dress. Before pictures I really wanted a drink and my dad went and got me a cherry Coke but wouldn't let me actually hold the glass (I'm a klutz). So I stood there, leaning on a stool because I couldn't sit down and wrinkle the back of the dress, with my dad holding this cherry Coke that I sipped out of cocktail straws. That's something I wish I had a picture of - it's a sweet memory I'll always have of my dad.

We got the dresses, tuxes, accessories from the same store (out of business now) and the owner was... less than organized. In addition to ordering the WRONG bridesmaid dresses, she messed up all the measurements for the tuxes. Joe ended up with a vest that was too tight and pants that were too short. I could hear him talking about it when I was unwrapping the tiara I was so excited about... which came with the veil sewed on so that it was giant, poufy and coming out of my left ear. I think the store owner hated me. When we got back to my house I ran crying to both our moms. Joe's mom spent hours sewing the veil on the right way, 13-year-old Jackie Beth practiced styling my hair (the girl who was supposed to do it decided at the last second to not come) and our dads and groomsmen sorted all the tuxes until they mixed-and-matched one that fit Joe nicely. The rest of them made do with what was left.

Some crack-addled florist took the instructions I gave her (5 white lilies wrapped in ribbon) and presented a ghastly creation of tulle-wrapped ferns, baby's breath and un-bloomed lily buds still so tightly furled they looked like white cigars. To top it off the whole thing was dripping wet. I swear I'm not making this up. My mom had to hack off most of the stems and ribbon and dry the bouquet right before the ceremony - I told her I would carry the ugly thing because no one would remember anyway. I did most of the pictures with the throwing-bouquet though. It was slightly less ugly and dry.

I guess I should have gone for some puffier sleeves and I could have done Small Town Wedding - Napoleon Dynamite style. It must be my love for the bizarre because things like this have continued to happen through the last 8 years. Really though, what this all shows is how great our family is. No matter what happened, everyone would just pull together, fix what they could and laugh about what they couldn't. This is a great way to live your life and I hope it's a lesson I'll never forget.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Farmer's market

While my five little tomato plants are doing well and producing lots of tomatoes, I'm not getting enough to do more than make some spaghetti sauce, salsa or salads for a one-time use. Since I was anxious to try out my handy-dandy new pressure canner on tomatoes, I decided to take a trip to a local farmer's market to see what they had to offer.

There were lots of stands at the market, selling everything from tamales to jewelry. It was a fun, craft-fair atmosphere. Either because it's earlier in the season or because of our late frosts this year, there weren't too many people selling vegetables. I did find exactly what I was looking for though.

If you are a seasoned farmer's market customer, you probably already know this but... everything was much cheaper if you bought it in bulk. The stand was selling large tomatoes for a dollar each - or $25 for a big box! So even if you don't need the Lifetime Supply Box, maybe go with a friend and split it. Also the workers are quite helpful. I told them I wanted ripe tomatoes to use right away and he selected the nicest, reddest box and topped it off for me. They even carried it to my car (I had Bart and Lisa with me, clamoring for gelato from a neighboring stand).

Returning home with my prize, I discovered something that I hadn't really considered. I could barely lift the box! The last time I bought a box of tomatoes it was a half-bushel box and it weighed 30 pounds on the bathroom scale. This box... wow. I wrestled the thing inside and onto the kitchen counter. When Joe woke up (he is on the night shift and sleeps during the day) I had him estimate the weight of the box and he put it between 60 and 70 pounds. Compared to the store prices of tomatoes right now, this was an excellent deal.

I made salsa and spaghetti sauce to bottle and store and I'll be posting those recipes this week.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Church talk

I was asked to speak in church last week. As much as I dislike talking in front of large groups of people, it is preferable to, say, chaperoning a herd of fighting, teasing, punching 9-year-old boys. So I always keep that in mind.

Speaking in our new ward made me a little more nervous than the one we have just moved out of. First, almost no one here knows us and this will be their first impression of our family. I usually like to trick people into liking me before revealing that we're a little off-center. Second, our old ward was packed with kids and the noise level was always somewhere between "Cafeteria" and "Metallica Concert". So I could ramble on with the serene knowledge that no one was listening to me anyway. Not so much the case here.

Anyway, for posterity (mine, not yours) here is the talk I gave. Feel free to not read it, I'm mostly posting it so that I will not lose the document - the way I have with all the previous ones.

We were given a rather broad topic to speak on – reverence for sacred things. I looked through many talks and indexes searching for inspiration. I stumbled across this quote by Keith L. Smith where he said “Reverence is more than being quiet. Our regard for sacred things, our behavior in the home and at church, and our attitude toward those who hold the priesthood all serve as measures of our reverence.”

This really struck a chord with me. We have very small children, who are at the age where you are constantly trying to teach them to be reverent. Walk with your arms folded, don’t fight at the drinking fountain, don’t punch each other during the hymns… I’m sure you’ve all been there. But it seems like my focus on “reverence” is limited to Sundays and church meetings. Elder Smith’s comment made me realize that I need to take one step back and address this issue at home. President Spencer W. Kimball said “… Behavior learned at home determines behavior in Church meetings. A child who has learned to pray at home soon understands that he must be quiet and still during prayers in worship service.”

So I’ve decided to speak on reverence in the home. I think the first thing to address is the way you talk. We are continually advised to make our home into a sanctuary – a temple of our own. At the May BYU Women’s conference, Elder Merrill J. Bateman said that there is no better example to children than for parents to live their covenants and proceeded to give 5 ways to pattern your home after the temple. First on his list was to speak quietly. Anyone who has attended the temple has surely noticed the hushed calm of the rooms – everyone speaks in a whisper. There is no shouting over one another, no noise, no chaos. It’s so peaceful and the Spirit just washes over you. Then I compare this to our home. With two small restless children our house is rambunctious at best and a complete circus the rest of the time. There are times when I feel like I have to shout over everything just to be heard. But when I actually stop to think about it, as soon as the volume of my voice goes up, it seems like the craziness goes up another level. No one is listening to what I say. Instead everyone yells until they’re in trouble or crying.

If I compare that situation with the opposite – when I’m able to sit down and talk to them calmly, quietly – the results are often dramatically different. No one gets wound up or out of control. You are not driving the spirit out of your home by shouting and being angry. Instead you’re actually inviting peace, personal revelation and that still small voice to guide you and prompt you. They still might not listen to me… but at least I’m on the right path.

Of course our homes will never achieve the constant quiet peace of the holy temple. There will always be friends, music, ringing phones, laughter and fun. But as much as we are able, we should try to balance the noise of the world with some quiet and reverence for the spirit of the Lord.

The next step is the things we say. The words we use and the things we talk about contribute greatly to the environment in our homes. Is that environment inviting the spirit of the Lord? Elder Wood says “…in small and in great ways, our words are creating an atmosphere in which we build or demolish.” Are we building up a reverent home and family? Or are we tearing down the things we have struggled to learn and achieve?"

Elder Woods goes on to say “…in graduate school I had a conversation with a friend who argued that one should be, as he called it, direct, even if rude and insensitive to others’ feelings. Unfortunately, the spirit animating these incidents has taken firm hold on society and is found even among the Saints. Over the years, there has been an increase in sexual innuendos, raucous humor, violent expressions, and great noise in talk, in music, in gestures. Much around us is crude and rude, with a corruption of moral behavior and sensitivity. Society has not been improved by our “light speeches” and our “light-mindedness.” Instead, our expressions have polluted our communities and corrupted our souls.

I think I would be right to assume that most of us don’t swear. We don’t curse or take the Lord’s name in vain. But is that enough? Do we tell jokes that are vulgar or demeaning because they are funny? Are we rude, sarcastic or careless of other’s feelings? I read a phrase a few years ago that has stuck with me ever since – cavities of the soul. Every mean or unclean thing we say, however insincere, has the ability to sit and fester until it is painful. Who knows what problems this can cause down the road?

It seems like a lot of emphasis is put on the things you shouldn’t say, but I want to end on a positive note. What SHOULD we say? What should we focus on? Elder Woods gives this encouraging thought:

What we say and how we present ourselves not only betray our inner person but also mold that person, those around us, and finally our whole society. Every day each of us is implicated in obscuring the light or in chasing away the darkness. We have been called to invite the light and to be a light, to sanctify ourselves and edify others.

This bit of advice is twofold. First we should speak and act like a witness of God. We should be willing to stand out from the crowd. Second we should talk about the gospel. Share it with your children and friends. Have wholesome discussions. Be willing to share your experiences or testimony with others. D&C 80:4 says “Therefore, declare the things which ye have heard, and verily believe and know to be true.” I think that by sharing the things we know and have experienced in the gospel shows not only a reverence, but a love for the teachings of our Heavenly Father. Your children will see that you are proud to be a Latter Day Saint and will hopefully learn to act accordingly.

When we speak and act, we should ask whether our words and expressions are calculated to invite the powers of heaven into our lives and to invite all to come unto Christ. We must treat sacred things with reverence. We need to eliminate from our conversations the immodest and the lewd, the violent and the threatening, the demeaning and the false.

I hope that we can all be more mindful of reverence in our homes. I know that I have been more conscious of it this week while I’ve been writing this talk and I’ve noticed a definite change in the behavior of the children. Like any family we’ll continue to have our good days and bad but I hope that I can take this lesson to heart and strive to have more peace and reverence in our home.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Teresa's Bridals

Teresa is the sister of my best friend Amy and I was lucky enough to get to take her bridal portraits. This girl is a stunner.

We found this cute little blue house in Provo but the owner/renter was a little hesitant to let us borrow her wall for pictures. She agreed in the end - which was good because she had a bride in her driveway, we were running out of light and had no other ideas.

It was Teresa's idea to use this long, tree-lined sidewalk as a backdrop and I'm so glad she suggested it! Of course three freshmen thought that it was a perfect time to dump a thrift-store couch on the ground right behind her. I mean... come ON people!

By the time we fought through work schedules, traffic and location difficulties, we had very little daylight left. So this was a little more rushed than I wanted. However, I felt like we got some excellent pictures of her. It helps that she was so willing to go along with whatever... and it never hurts to be this beautiful!

I have a few more of her, but these are all the ones that I have processed in Photoshop so far. Also I bet Amy will do something cool with them and I want her to teach me what she's up to. So I'll post more later.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sweet potato fries

This is a random recipe that I came up with one day. It seemed like I had read the phrase "sweet potato fries" in a few places but could never find a recipe that sounded good or healthy. So one day I just tried a few things and this is what worked. They may not be tradition sweet potato fries but it's what we like.

Sweet Potato Fries...
2 large sweet potatoes
vegetable oil (olive oil doesn't get hot enough to fry things nice and crispy and you're just using a little bit, not deep frying them)
coarse salt

Microwave potatoes for 8-10 minutes (until they're done through but not starting to shrivel up inside their skins). I leave the skins on them for the fries because I like it. Remove it if you want. Cut into long slices, like this:

I like to use a griddle to fry them because you can turn things over easily. Brush the hot surface with a thin coat of oil and toss on the potato strips. Fry potato strips for a few minutes, turning them over when they start to brown, getting each surface. When done, remove from griddle and sprinkle with coarse salt (regular table salt will do just fine, I just think the coarse grains are pretty). Serve hot. Forget to take a picture of the finished fries.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fall fever

A few weeks ago I suddenly couldn't wait for fall to arrive. Maybe I am just tired of the heat. Maybe I can't wait to start bottling peaches and apple pie filling. Maybe it's because the kids are asking when the leaves will fall so they can play in them. Mostly it's because my favorite holidays are during the fall - namely Halloween.

Thinking about holidays earlier than early is not as crazy as you would think. I work for a magazine and we're about 4-6 months out on all deadlines and issues so that we can keep up with seasonal things. So in my work schedule, I'm well into December/January with articles and photography and we're starting on November in our production schedule. Is it any wonder that I can never settle down and enjoy the current season?

Also, I find that getting excited about Halloween early enables me to get some great deals on Halloween costumes. Last year I found soft, fuzzy, high-quality costumes for the kids (Lisa was a pink cat and Bart was a frog) for only $5-7 on eBay. I do love me a good bargain.

Lisa informed me that she will NOT be a cute fuzzy animal this year. Which is too bad because I love those costumes because they're warm as well as cute. It can be really cold at Halloween here and I don't love having to do the Princess-In-A-Parka thing. But instead she will be Cleopatra. Bart will accompany her as a mummy. I promise this was entirely her idea. I think it rocks. I'm pretty sure I can dress her warmly under the costume and of course Bart will be wrapped head-to-toe!

I'm not having much luck with eBay prices this year, but I did stumble across a great sale at Costume Craze. Cute princess, fairy and ballerina costumes for only $8-12, and flat-rate shipping! It was such a great sale that I may or may not have purchased several extra costumes to give to Lisa for Christmas...

My friend Becca made her little boy a mummy costume a few months ago and I will be relying on her for instructions and advice (her first tip was to sew the fabric strips to jeans and not sweats because they don't need to stretch). So I'm pretty excited!

This is also a simple-looking costume pattern at Hershey's Trick-or-Treat website, complete with spooky music. So while normal people are enjoying the last hot days and swimming in the pool, you know I'll be waiting impatiently for fall to arrive.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"Fried" zucchini

I love fried zucchini sticks - the kind you get at gas stations and fairs. However, even though they're a vegetable, they're of the deep-fried variety and probably not as healthy as we might trick ourselves into believing. When I was doing Weight Watcher's last year I came up with this yummy recipe. All the tasty goodness of fried zucchini strips with almost none of the fat or calories. Plus it's a great way to use up those super-sized zucchini that appear in the garden some days.

"Fried" Zucchini Strips...
1 large zucchini
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
olive oil
coarse ground salt
black pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Wash your zucchini but don't peel it. Slice it in half. Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds, like this:

Cut your zucchini into fry-sized slices. Brush or spray with olive oil**. Mix bread crumbs and Parmesan together. Press zucchini slices into the breading mixture (leave the peel side crumb-less, it won't stick well) and arrange on baking sheet.

Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes or until crumbs start to turn brown. If, after this time they're still not toasty-looking, turn the broiler on for a few minutes to brown them up. If you do turn on the broiler, keep the door open a crack so you can watch them every minute. You can go from Golden Brown to Charcoal in just a few seconds.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with coarse salt and fresh pepper. Serve immediately. Forget to take a picture of the finished product until your son, brothers-in-law and husband have demolished most of the tray.

**Update: Chrissy mentioned that she dipped her slices of squash in olive oil and the finished product was a little too oily for her. I usually spray mine with the non-stick olive oil spray, or brush it on with a pastry brush. Just a tiny bit makes the breading stick nicely.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Oh yeah...

... it's all coming together.

We are starting to get produce out of our garden on a regular basis. Little sweet peppers, huge zucchini, long spicy Anaheim chilies, perfect green beans, little cucumbers and tomatoes of all sizes. We have Roma, grape and cherry tomatoes so far (the Better Boys aren't quite ready). I feel like my coffee experiment with the tomatoes was a success because they are doing so well. My jalapeno peppers cross-pollinated with something (I'm guessing) and they are tiny, bright red and sweet instead of hot. Oh well. I'm just so freakishly excited about this garden! I go out and pull weeds and putter and admire all the little blossoms and tiny veggies... I can see why people get so caught up in this hobby!

I've been sorting and saving the tomatoes and peppers for salsa and spaghetti sauce which I will bottle with my awesome new pressure canner! I only have four tomato plants so I think that my salsa/sauce endeavor will be supplemented by a trip to the farmer's market this weekend. Also I have some great fresh-from-the-garden recipes that I'll be sharing this week!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Weekend update

At the risk of sounding Seriously SO Blessed, wow... we were busy this weekend!

Joe and I ran another 5K on Saturday morning. He finished in an amazing 24 minutes... and came in second-to-last in his age class. In two weeks he'll be 30 and he would have finished third. Oh well, when all the NCAA runners from BYU are crowding out the top places, what chance do you have?

Meanwhile I shaved a few minutes off my time, finishing in 30 minutes, 20 seconds! I sprinted the last 100 yards because someone was trying to run past me and we ended up crossing the line at a dead run with the announcer screaming "go go GO!" into the microphone. It's not like we won, or were all that awesome even, it was just a nice way to finish the race and I was pumped.

Straight from the 5K we dashed home, showered and tried to look nice and ran over to a wedding. We got caught in parade traffic, ended up late and skidded into the park about 10 minutes late... along with most of the guests. Fortunately nothing here starts on time so we were OK. It was a beautiful wedding and we are so happy for you, Ryan and Kristin!

I ended up leaving the wedding luncheon early for the bridal shower of the lovely and radiant Miss Nemesis. Not only did we have excellent snacks (why did I even eat anything at the wedding lunch, knowing that Cicada was providing food for the shower?) but I got to meet a lot of fellow bloggers and that was really fun.

Rushing out of the shower I headed down to look for houses with my sister. I am slowly trying to coax her ever closer to my own neighborhood. I have dreams of my sisters and I getting together in the fall to bottle peaches and tomatoes and all good things. So far my master plan seems to be working...

And straight from that we went right back to the wedding reception. The kids stuffed themselves full of chocolate fountain goodies, cupcakes and cobbler and played at the park while we visited with friends. When it started to rain we headed home. Just in time to prepare 10-minute church talks that we had to give on Sunday.

So that's my excuse for not having posted anything for a few days. The End.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Easy Peasy Wild Rice

This is my favorite way to prepare wild rice. The basic technique I learned from Alton Brown on the Food Network. I have never been able to get wild rice (or brown rice for that matter) to cook properly on the stovetop, so this way was much better.

Wild rice is a great alternative to plain white rice. Low in fat, high in fiber, protein and lysine, this is a great addition to your healthy diet. There are some great wild rice and rice blends in the supermarket. The one I used here was an organic rice medley that is available at Costco.

Easy Peasy Wild Rice...
1 1/2 cups rice
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 tbsp butter (or butter substitute or olive oil)
1 tsp salt

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Add rice, hot water, butter and salt to a baking dish. Mix slightly and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake in oven for 1 hour.

When the rice is almost done, slice one medium onion and sauté in butter or olive oil just until edges appear translucent. Add onion, butter or oil, a sprinkle of garlic salt and a handful of frozen peas to the rice. Mix together gently and recover with foil for 5 minutes so peas can heat up. Serve immediately.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


This little beauty is Elsa, the almost-2-week-old daughter of my friend Karen. She is so alert and curious! It was actually pretty hard to get her to quit looking around and fall asleep.

Elsa is so lucky to have 2 big sisters and a big brother who are thrilled to have her here at last.
These are also some of my favorite kids to take pictures of. They hold still, do what you ask and there wasn't a single tear or argument. I seriously love them.

I designed 3 different announcements for them to choose from. I really like them all, but the family chose announcement #1 for the ones they'll print out and share.

Thank you Karen and congratulations!