Thursday, November 10, 2011

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

Here are the cookies I made for Helen's preschool celebration.  They would be good for Halloween or Thanksgiving.  The instructions are found here.  Basically you split the dough in to 3 parts and dye it with food coloring.  Then you layer it, slice it, and then cut into triangles.  I used my own sugar cookie recipe and used a 8x8 pan instead of a loaf pan.  I also didn't have sanding sugar, only granulated.  Sanding sugar would be better.

Four things I'd change next time:

  1. make three different half batches and mix the coloring into the liquid ingredients
  2. use only egg whites on the white dough batch
  3. use more food coloring for the other 2 batches
  4. and use the loaf pan.

Also it should be know that you should return the brick of dough to the refrigerator in between cooking batches.  The last ones are really hard to slice and cut as the dough gets soft.  They turned out tasting not to bad to me, a person who doesn't really care for sugar cookies; maybe having no icing helped.

Helen's preschool tries to be extremely politically correct, to the point that I am almost rolling my eyes all the time. Case in point: This celebration was titled "Fall Harvest Celebration" and held on Halloween. They don't celebrate holidays.  If you did not want your child to participate they could sit in the office during snack time. I decided just to play it safe and go with candy corn for the cookies - neutral ground.  When we got to the preschool it had a picture of a haunted house, and the kids had to go find the letter ghosts.  Hmm, last I checked haunted houses and ghost are totally a Halloween thing and have nothing to do with harvesting.  Whatever, Helen had fun and thought it was a great day and that is what is important.

Here is my sugar cookie recipe:

Sugar Cookies
2 cups sugar
1 cup melted butter or margarine
1 cup sour cream
4 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
6-8 cups flour (enough to make a soft dough)

Mix in order given.  Chill at least 1 hour.  Roll out ¼” thick and cut into shapes.  Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  Let cool and decorate.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pumpkin Joes

I love all the flavors of fall.  I pulled this recipe off Taste of Home back when we lived in Monterey, but because of a combination of I was afraid it would be a little to odd and I would forget about it during autumn, I hadn't made it until yesterday.

The original recipe is called Pumpkin Burgers, but it nothing like a burger and pretty much a very tasty Sloppy Joe.

1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bottle (12 ounces) chili sauce
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed tomato soup, undiluted
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 to 8 hamburger buns, split

In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add the chili sauce, soup, pumpkin, salt, pumpkin pie spice and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour or until thickened. Serve on buns. Yield: 6-8 servings.

I made the recipe on Sunday.  When I woke up I realized I had forgotten to buy some more tomato soup.  There has to be a substitution for this I thought.  Sure enough I found a condensed soup substitute here.  One problem, I didn't have any tomato sauce either...but I did have tomato paste!  For sure there has to be a substitution for sauce using paste, right.  You betcha, it is just ratio thing, tomato sauce substitute found here.

After church I set the Pizza Guy to making tomato paste into tomato sauce.  Then taking that and making condensed tomato soup.  While he did that I started the Pumpkin Joe recipe.

Everyone in our house approved of them.  The only change I would make is I would add more pumpkin next time, maybe 1 cup or even some diced cooked pumpkin.  I loved the pumpkin flavor and how much tomato and pumpkin are in it.  It is still vegetables, even if pureed!

These are good, Mommy!

Oh, so, yummy!

Ya, Mom, I think they are yummy.
Can I please eat the rest of chips now?
-Sure, Vampire Girl.

Oh, I need a big bite!

A really BIG one!

I'm trying to smile to show I like them,  Mom,
but my mouth is full!

Another Halloween Bath

In the week leading up to Halloween, we used spiders and plastic eye balls instead of our usually bath toys.  We also colored the water orange with these color tablets.

Lots of bath time fun!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Three Decades Old

Happy Birthday, to the Pizza Guy of my life.

I love you, dude.  So do your Pumpkin Pie & your Num-num-nummy.

This year I chose to make a key lime cake.  Sounds exotic, right? It took me awhile to find a recipe that didn't call for lime Jell-o.  I really wanted to do it from scratch and not have artificial flavors. I used the recipe from King Arthur Flour without the raspberries.  Thanks to my neighbors who let me use limes off their tree. The birthday boy got to choose whether or not I colored it.  He chose colored, so I added just one drop of green so it didn't look overly fake.  The outside is just whipped cream.  I also just halved the recipe because between the trick-or-treating, the leftover sugar cookies from the preschool's way too politically correct "Fall Harvest Celebration", and birthday cake...we have enough sugary sweets in our house.  The cake ended up being delicious.

Yep 30 candles on a 6 in cake.
Makes him seem old.

Trick or Treat

We carved pumpkins last night.

 Here's what they look like tonight all lit up.

The 31st always is a whirlwind of celebrations around here. We started the day off with a Googleween party.  The girls wore their costumes.  I wore some butterfly wings, but didn't get a picture taken of me.

Jake dressed as a redneck, moonshine and all.

Oh wait, you want to see it without night vision?

Ya, when I was looking at the pictures to vote on costumes, I didn't recognize him either.  Somehow he pulls this off way too easily.  Note the hair sticking out from behind his neck - he was real proud of that one.
Here he is sporting the redneck look while taking out the trash.
circa July 2010

After preschool we baked a cake, ate a birthday dinner of superb pizza, and got ready for Trick or Treating. 

 Examining the loot.  Sorry the picture of Nor is blurry; it is really dark in our house and the shutter speed was really slow.
Just as we were going to quit handing out candy one more person knocked on the door.  It was an old man in a mask giving candy to us.  He scared the girls quite a bit, but after he pulled of his mask, they started to warm up to this guy they call "Grandpa" or "Tappa" (Nor's word for grandpa).  It was so fun to surprise the girls and Jake that my dad is in L.A. for a work conference and was able to come down for a visit.

Then to wash all the Halloween paint off we had a glowing bath.  So fun.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Aquarium of the Pacific & Venice Beach

My mom came to visit for a week.  It is great having her here.  We have done a number of things, including some wild goose chases, but I have taken very few pictures except on Saturday.  Saturday we went to the Aquarium of the Pacific with Jake's cousins and then headed to Venice Beach.

She really thought she had scooted back far enough to be in the shell
and kept waiting for me to take the picture.


Proof I came on the trip.


One of my favorite animals at the aquarium was the Japanese spider crab.
In this position he was bigger than Helen.

The beach part of Venice beach was nice. The beach had millions of tiny clams to dig up.

The street walk of Venice beach was weird. The street part had too much smoking-Rastafarian-hippyness and trash-being-sold-as-art for me.  The part that got me the most was when a guy coughed on me and Helen.  I felt the saliva drops on my body the rest of the night.  My mom said it took her back to the 70's.  I am now kinda glad I only lived 6 months in that decade.  Not my thing.  The fruit was tasty though.


We didn't get ice cream,
just took this to distract her from the fit she was throwing.

A fast ride before we got in the van to head home.
Check out Jake's picture of the sunset on Venice beach on his Google+ profile.  Monday's whirlwind of celebrations to come next.

Monday, October 24, 2011

House Guests Welcome...Most of Them Anyway

We've now been settled in our home for 3 months and we like it here.  The neighborhood feels more and more like home.  Jake also let me know the other night when I was giving him directions that I know my way around town more than he does.

We have had a few guests try to stay at our place, but we've kicked them out as fast as we could, mainly because they are not of the Homo sapiens species.  Shall we explain?

First of all there are the ants.  I almost curse them almost every day.  If they get in my sugar one more time...!  Okay, I get it, I am solving that part of the problem tomorrow by buying some more airtight containers.  We win most battles (only two sugar incidents count as losses - one of them being as I was whipping up Norah's birthday cake).  Alas, I fear the war is not over with these guests.  Seems everybody we talk to has the same battles going on.  "Oh, ya, ants."

Then there was this lil fella.  He was first spotted by the girls who called him a snake, for lack of a better word on their part.  I spun around pretty fast when they said that.  We don't know that he was a gecko or not, his legs were pretty stinkin' small for his body size.  you could barely see them.  I'm sure he was harmless, but I don't like reptiles in my house, thank you very much.

 We kept an eye out for where he was until Jake got home and caught him. We let him go outside.

Not long after the lizard, we had our third encounter with our third type of guest.  The first time went something like this: Norah brought a glob of something and said "Yucky."  I couldn't figure out what it was.  It looked like a bad snot glob but it had a definite pattern in the parts that weren't squished.  I thought maybe it was a worm of some kind, hoping it didn't crawl out of her bum.  She had happened to take off her own diaper the same morning she brought it to me.  Jake didn't think it was alive, just something gross. I found the second one on the floor in the living room, again on a morning Norah tried to change her own diaper.


The third encounter was when Jake stepped in one.  We were cleaning his foot and discussing whether it was poop or snot or what the heck it could be, what it came from, and how it got in our house, when it moved.  I watched it as it started to move on the carpet.  Ya that was exciting (not in a good way).  Jake told me to put it a plastic bag and call the extension office.  I left a message with the extension office, but before they could get back to me I figured out what it was through a google search (a lot easier when you have a whole, un-squished one). They are called hammerhead worms.  They are gross.

We had one more encounter when I stepped on one.  They haven't come since it cooled off a little outside and Jake sprayed for bugs.  Don't know which did the trick, just glad they aren't in our house anymore.  I still scan the living room floor every morning though.

On the brighter side, we would love to invite all of our families and friends to come stay with us.  We have an office a guest room with attached bath that we can set up for you when you come.  We serve meals as long as you eat whatever we are having for dinner.  We also have a couch and lots of floor space if you bring your own sleeping bags.  There are a lot of wonderful attractions including the beach with warm sunshine and a 10-letter D word that my kids don't know about yet.  We'd love to have you come!

Here is what the office/guest room looked like last seen on the blog:

And here it is now.  Normally the air mattress isn't blown up and the chair and nightstand are in that spot against the wall.  And I usually have some sort of project going on my desk.  The only thing left that I really want to do to this room is paint the chairs and get a shade for the floor lamp (it was a hand-me-down from the last tenants).

We are having our first guest try out our digs this Thursday.  We can't wait to see you Grandma Nani!  We'll get a full report from her on how our accommodations are.  Pretty sure she'll give us at least 3 stars. ;)

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn't music.
~William Stafford

Helen started dance classes awhile back (kinda around the same time I took a coincidental hiatus from blogging).  She goes once a week.  They practice tap for the first part and then finish with ballet.  Helen loves it.

When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor.
It's to enjoy each step along the way.  -Wayne Dyer 

and we'll end with a courtesy.

Dancing is like dreaming with your feet!  ~Constanze

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Blue Velvet 2nd Birthday

Our little Cupcake turned 2.

She loves blue.
She loves hippos.
She loves books.
She loves her family, especially her big sister.
Favorite foods are grapes, berries, crackers, and NACK! (snack)
All the above things make her world a happy place for her.

We celebrated with balloons and a blue velvet cake (yes, I sung "She wore Blue Velvet", "Devil with a Blue Dress", and "Blue Suede Shoes"  all day as I was making the cake).  But I used a different food coloring than the recipe called for and it turned out a little too dark.  In the evening we opened presents while video chatting with Grandma & Grandpa and Nana & Papa.

Sporting a Elton John look
Reading books 

Her new birthday banner

Playing with big sister

Blue Velvet Cake

The blue cake

A new hippo from Grandma & Grandpa!

A hippo shirt from Grandma & Grandpa!

A jacket from Papa & Nana,
and a new baby doll from Mommy & Daddy.

Sleeping on the birthday pillow.

Mission Organize Apartment