Thursday, May 17, 2012

Looking to Adopt

Both of my parents came from pretty large families, so naturally I have a lot of cousins. On my mom's side there were five of us born in the same year and thankfully we all got along pretty good growing up so we could be friends then and now as adults. But on my dad's side, I am kind in between. I have cousins older and younger by a year or two. We all grew up in Manti so we saw each other a lot in school and church. I have one cousin, Patricia who is younger than me. She was a grade below me in school and a year behind in Sunday School but we still played together. It wasn't really until high school when we really started to hang out a lot. All the time. We even had a math class together. Oh the things she taught me! She is the reason I passed! We also worked together at our little family business. The Shop is what we called it. But to the public it was known as The Universal Impression and The Horseshoe Trader. As a kid it was fun and exciting to go and play around and "help" my dad. But as a teenager and working there it wasn't as fun...until we got to work together. Endless hours of manning the loud collating machine and being torn between wanting to kick the machine or wanting to cry when it stopped working. Alone it was a nightmare, but together, with Patricia's positive attitude I felt we could conquer anything...even the collating machine. With her stories, singing and deep, heartfelt questions suddenly working at the shop was no longer a chore. If Patricia was there I would gladly work there.
So we did math together and worked together. But we also played and schemed together. One of my favorite things we did was our little Van Bash. My family had a big fifteen passenger van and we got the awesome idea to take all the seats out and have a sleep over in it. We even strung an extension cord from my house into the van so we could watch a movie on a little TV. Man that was fun! No adult supervision or younger siblings crashing the party. Just us, the movie and our mint oreos. We took longs walks on the beach to the temple. Rain, snow or shine (Okay it wasn't really shining, but the moon was usually out). Those walks were great! We talked about deep dark secrets, the problems of the universe...mostly our own personal universes, as teenage girls of course we talked about boys, our family ups and downs...anything that was on our minds. We ranted and raved the bad and praised all the good. One would talk, the other would listen.
It was crazy! We grew up together all our lives and played, but it wasn't until we were older that we really connected and became best friends. She was one of my pillars that I held onto for dear life when my life got turned up side down. I knew I could always count on her. She would always be there for me.
I graduated high school and took a year break before going to college to help my mom. Then Patricia graduated high school and in the Fall, we started Snow College together. But because Patricia is so amazing she was already a year ahead of me because of all the college credits she took in high school. But that didn't stop us. I moved to Ephraim, so she hung out at my apartment all the time. She got along really well with my roommates.
After that year she graduated and moved up to Logan to continue her schooling at Utah State. She made new friends and forgot all about me. Just kidding. She did make knew friends, but we were still friends. We would talk on the phone and she still came home to visit. I even went up there to visit a few times. I met her new friends and neighbors, even her future husband, who I thought was super funny. It all seemed so fun! And I missed being around this amazing person! So I decided that I was going to go to Utah State once I graduated from Snow. But before that happened I got a call from Patricia announcing that she was going on a mission. I was so happy for her, but really so sad for me. What was I going to do without her? A couple of months later I got another call. She was going to Texas! And then another call. She was engaged! What a roller coaster! But all for the best! She found her answers to so many questions and found her happily ever after and she wasn't going to Texas for a year and a half. It was a win win. They finished school at Utah State. Then another phone call. They were moving to Idaho (really not that big of a step from Logan, but all I heard was out of state). We have seen each other a few time since the move...thank goodness for Thanksgiving! Had a few phone calls, email, texts and Facebook. Not a lot of contact but I still consider her one of my best friends.
So what is the moral of this story? And why in the world did I ramble on for so long about a cousin? Let me tell you. First of all I miss her. But one of the best things about our friendship is; it doesn't matter how long we go between conversations or visits we can pick right up where we left off, just like we saw and talked yesterday. Second of all I think Patricia is completely and utterly amazing and I want the whole world to know her. Lastly but most importantly right now is this; Ryan and Patricia are wanting to be parents. They have waited and tried for a long time and they are ready to adopt. So if you or someone you know is looking to place their baby up for adoption please consider them. I know I didn't say everything I wanted or should have in this post. I was trying to convey everything that is Patricia so you could get to know her a bit. She is so kind, caring and thoughtful. She has one of the strongest testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and has been such a huge example to me. Every time I come in contact with her, in person, phone, text, email or reading a blog post she strengthens my testimony. She has such a strong belief and knowledge in our Savior and His teachings. Patricia is extremely hard working. In her schooling (which she finished before I completed my first year in my bachelors program), her home and her work. She is dedicated to her family and her friends. She is fun and spontaneous and brightens up a room.
I'm sorry I can't give you an entire blog post about Ryan, I don't know him as well. But if he is good enough for Patricia he has got to be one awesome person! Two awesome, amazing people make really awesome and amazing parents. Don't you think? So please, check out their BLOG and spread the word!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Celebratory Rolls

Remember a few months ago when I made cookies for my dad's birthday and I mentioned how my oven hates me? It started out just having to bake things a few minutes longer than recipes called for. Then it turned into a lot more minutes. Which then turned into being completely ridiculous and a waste of time to try to make anything in the oven, unless your goal was broiling. The bottom element quit working. It was so sad. We went about a week without our oven. I think Jason got tired of wanting cake and not getting one cause I got home from work one Saturday and he announced that our landlord was coming over to check it out. I was so happy!
Our landlord came prepared to just change out the old element for a new one. But we soon discovered it wouldn't be that of the wires had completely broken off. So instead of getting a new part we ended up getting a brand new oven the very next day!

This is what our old oven looked like
This is the best picture I had of our old friend. Basic, old, ugly and boring.
(We were making little mug cakes in the microwave. I don't know if it was taking too long, or if Jason was just too excited.)

And this is what our new oven looks like

Can you guess what my favorite feature is?

Most would probably say the self clean...and you are probably right, it should be my favorite, but it's not. Nor is it the kitchen timer or the fact that it is all digital and buttons, instead of knobs. My favorite thing is the oven light.

I love to watch things bake through the little window. I think it is so fascinating to watch cake batter or bread dough. You know the saying "simple minds, simple pleasures"? That's me! Jason walked into the kitchen and found me sitting on the floor, eyes glued to my rolls that were baking. He told me we didn't need a TV anymore, now that we have this oven.

I got this bread recipe from my friend Megan years ago. Her mom made these for us a lot and I was always amazed at how fast and easy she could make a batch of rolls or bread sticks. So to celebrate and enjoy my oven window and light I made some rolls. Some tasty, lazy cinnamon rolls.

Start out by bringing your milk to a boil. Then add the butter and let it melt and add the water. (I usually take the milk off the hot burner then add the butter).

While your milk mixture is cooling, get all your dry ingredients in a bowl.

And mix it up good...I just stir it around with a fork

Pour the milk mixture into your dry ingredients and stir together.

I start out with three cups of flour and this is what I get. So I just add a bit of flour a little at a time and knead it into the dough right in the bowl. It works perfect, this way I don't have to flour my table or clean up a big flour mess. It all just stays in the bowl. I usually add about an additional cup of flour and get a good soft dough.

 At this point you want to let the dough rise about fifteen minutes, maybe a bit longer so it doubles in size.

While your dough is rising you want to prep for the next step, which is the cinnamon goodness.

In a bowl combine brown sugar, cinnamon and sugar. I also like to add just a dash of cloves and nutmeg.

Once your dough is doubled you are ready to shape it. (You will still be able to see and feel the little yeast granules, just an FYI, it's okay, you haven't done anything wrong. As long as it is rising you are good.)

Flatten it out, brush some melted butter on it and sprinkle some cinnamon sugar. (This amount ended up not giving me enough "cinnamon roll" feeling, so next time I will add more to each of my rolls)

Next just fold it up to make a ball. I made my rolls in muffin tins (I like the browned goodness on all sides of my rolls), you can just put them in a 9X13 pan or whatever makes you most happy.

I brushed the tops of mine with butter. But next time I will probably do some milk instead. Let the dough rise a second time for an additional fifteen minutes. Once they have double up again, put them in the oven to bake for twenty minutes.

These weren't desserty enough for me just like this, so I whipped up some cream cheese icing and that made it perfect! Also, I think next time I will put some white chocolate chips in with the cinnamon. Don't you feel like that pocket needs to be holding something?

Megan's Bread Recipe
1 c. Milk
1/2 c. Water
1/4 c. Butter
2 tbsp Yeast
3 tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt
3-4 1/2 c. Flour

Boil milk. Remove from heat, add butter, let melt. Add water. In a bowl add dry ingredients, mix together. Add milk mixture to dry mixture. Knead for 5 minutes, adding flour bit by bit to make soft dough. Raise at least 15 minutes. Shape however you want. Raise another 15 minutes. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

(This recipe made 24 rolls)

Cinnamon & Sugar Filling
1/3 c. Brown Sugar
2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tbsp. Sugar
dash Nutmeg
dash Cloves

Cream Cheese Icing
3 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 c. Powdered Sugar
1-2 tbsp Milk

In a small mixing bowl combine cream cheese and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Beat in enough milk to reach spreading consistency.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Ready To Pop!

Last weekend I hosted a baby shower for my little sister. It is her first little one and we are all so excited for her! I can't wait to have a new nephew to brainwash to love me spoil!
Look he already knows his favorite aunt! He started jumping for joy when he could sense that I was near!
I guess you can't really tell, but he was moving around like crazy!

One of the new "hot" themes for baby showers right now is "Ready to Pop" and I loved it, so I went with it. Here is the invite that Jason made. He had fun with the top half while I was writing and tweaking the bottom half.
I think it turned out super cute!

So I went with a popular theme, but I really wanted it to be different from all the others that I was finding online so I brainstormed a bit and decided on some fun food ideas and a few games.

I got help from my sisters with the food (thank goodness)! They did a great job and it was all so yummy! Thanks!

Here is the whole spread...I wanted to take the picture down, but decided since we were at the church I didn't dare. Plus I think somehow it fit nicely...

Now for the close-ups:

Jolly Rancher Lollipops. We found this fantastic idea on Pinterest.

Natalya's step-mother-in-law brought these. I had never heard of them so it was fun to try out something new. They were pretty good, but kind of had a weird texture. Jason said they are like eating rice cakes...

My mom used to make these Corn Pops all the time. They are super yummy!
Here is the recipe, make a batch and be happy!

Corn Pops
1 family sized bag corn pops
1 1/2 c. Butter
1/2 c. Water
2 c. Sugar
2 T. Corn Syrup

Put the corn pops in a large bowl. Set aside. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a pan. Cook to soft ball stage. Stir constantly so it doesn't burn.  Pour over Pops.  Stir to coat pops evenly.
**Note: use a medium-large sauce pan.  The sugar mixture bubbles up quite a bit.  If your pan is too small it will bubble over!
MMMMM White Chocolate Popcorn. I can't really say anything more than that. Oh wait, yes I can. Addictive!
Make these and eat with caution. Or just throw caution to the wind...

White Chocolate Popcorn

4 bags light butter microwave popcorn
2 bags White Chocolate Chips
1 bag Caramel Pieces (the kind you find with the chocolate chips)

Pop the popcorn and put in large bowl. Set aside. Melt chocolate chips. Pour over popcorn. Add caramel pieces. Stir to coat.

This recipe is super flexible and all to personal preference. Adjust the amount of chocolate and caramel as you like. Or add little candies like M&M's
I made the cake pops. Every time I make them I always wonder why I don't make them more often. They are so yummy!
I thought about giving you the how-to for these, in case you haven't made them yet, but honestly just go over to Bakerella, nobody makes them better than her!

The empty plate to the left of the cake pops eventually held Jalapeno Poppers, which were delightful!

We wanted to keep things simple. It was kind of hard to do it, but I think I was successful. The decorations were mostly found at the food table and then just a banner type thing hanging above where Natalya sat.

The happy mommy to be!

So the shower started with lots of visiting. What do you expect when you get a bunch of women together. Especially when there are new babies to be passed around!
And after the initial visiting and yummy treats we ended with a few games.

The first game we had was a POP QUIZ! I took everyone back to their school days where they weren't allowed to talk to their neighbors. And with all pop quizzes if you didn't do your homework you were bound to fail. But like all nice and awesome teachers I gave two easy bonus questions to help redeem themselves. The quiz's topic was, of course Oliver. Check it out and see how well you know Oliver:

POP Quiz All About Oliver
According to the name Oliver means:
a) He who Supplants
b) Born on Christmas
c) Olive Tree
d) Hollow
Where is the Town of Oliver located?
a) England
b) British Columbia
c) Ireland
d) Rhode Island
Oliver USA makes
a) Footwear
b) Furniture
c) Jeans
d) Camp Equipment
Oliver, the singer is most known for what song?
a) “I Got Life”
b) “Eyes Look Your Last”
c) “I Believe in Love”
d) “Good Morning Starshine”
Who is Oliver Cromwell?
a) An English soldier and statesman who helped make England a republic
b) A prime mover in the trial and execution of Charles I
c) The Lord Protector of England from 1653-1658
d) All of the Above
What song was NOT performed in Oliver! The musical?
a) “Oliver!”
b) “As Long as He Needs Me”
c) “That’s Your Funeral”
d) “Why Should I Worry?”
The Oliver Gang is a collectors group. What do they collect?
a) Oliver and Hart-Parr Tractors
b) Vintage Oliver Bakery Equipment
c) Stocks in Oliver Products
d) 1st Edition books of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
What is Oliver in Disney’s Oliver and Company?
a) Poodle
b) Man
c) Cat
d) Great Dane
Bonus Questions:
1- What is baby Oliver’s Middle Name?
2- When is Oliver’s scheduled birthday

 This is me being the teacher and passing out the quizzes.

It was a lot of fun. We had two people tie with five right answers!
The second game we played was bingo...sounds super original right? Not really, so I had to mix it up a bit and stick with my theme.

Popping Bingo!

First I started out with seven feet of the big bubble wrap
Then I cut them down to 5 bubbles by 5 bubbles. I got about 35 bingo boards (WAY over planned but I wanted to make sure there was enough)

Then I made things hard on myself and wrote all the words on the back of the bubble wrap, backwards so you could read it. The easier route would have been to print the words on a sheet of paper and attach it to the back. So why didn't I do that you may ask? I have two words for printer. A problem which is now remedied (just a week too late for this project).

But printed or hand written it was a blast. The room was filled with popping and shouts of "BINGO" and it was perfect.

Thank you to everyone that was able to make it! We had a lot of fun and it was so good to see everyone!