Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Going Green



When Lucy plays in the sink, I make her have the light out, so that we're only wasting one resource at a time. She just told me she's making Root Beer. Her Daddy will be thrilled.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Peace on Earth, good will to men.


I've been reflecting on the Savior a lot this season, about the times in my life I've strengthened my knowledge of him and my relationship with him. He provides the path to true peace and everlasting life. I'd like to let the lyrics to this Children's Song say it for me:

How could the Father tell the world of love and tenderness?
He sent his Son, a newborn babe, with peace and holiness.

How could the Father show the world the pathway we should go?
He sent his Son to walk with men on earth, that we may know.

How could the Father tell the world of sacrifice, of death?
He sent his Son to die for us and rise with living breath.

What does the Father ask of us? What do the scriptures say?
Have faith, have hope, live like his Son, help others on their way.
What does he ask?
Live like his Son.


Merry Christmas
Love, Annadotes
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gingerbread cookies



I made about 6 dozen gingerbread cookies this year and they turned out so great, I thought I'd share the recipe I used, as well as the icing recipe. The trick was to roll out the dough thick, so the cookies stay soft.

The recipe comes from McCormick and can be found on All Recipes.com

Ingredients

3 cups flour
2 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. salt
3/4 c. softened butter
3/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 c. molasses
1 egg

Directions
  1. Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in large bowl. Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add molasses and egg; beat well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Press dough into a thick flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness on lightly floured work surface. Cut into gingerbread men shapes with 5-inch cookie cutter. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges of cookies are set and just begin to brown. Cool on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. Decorate cooled cookies as desired. Store cookies in airtight container up to 5 days.
I used the Royal Icing III by Veronica, also from All Recipe.com, after getting it to the right consistency, I spooned it into a resealable bag, fitted with a tiny round decorating tip.

Ingredients


3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 t. cream of tartar
2 egg whites, beaten

Directions

  1. In a bowl, sift together confectioners' sugar and cream of tartar. Using electric mixer, beat in 2 beaten egg whites for about 5 minutes or until mixture is thick enough to hold its shape.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Getting into the spirit of things...



My shopping is 95% done. Just one more gift to get. The wrapping is about 85% done. We've been having a lot of fun around here. We delivered some treats last night and have more to do tonight. We had fun looking at all the light displays. Cookie day was a huge success, I learned to make meringues and found a great gingerbread cookie recipe. It's been a fun season.

We went to Tony's work party last weekend at the Motor City Casino. We had a great time mingling with his co-workers and eating yummy food. They had a wonderful dessert spread. I think I could have bathed in the cinnamon sauce. They also had a cracker type bread that I would like to add to my list of things to learn to make. It was sad though, to witness the disparateness between the huge, bright, shiny casino and the burned-out, abandon houses, literally across the street. It reminded us of the scenes in Back to the Future where Biff has taken over and they live in that hotel-it was just like that. It seemed sad.

On Saturday night, Lucy and I went to the Ward Christmas party. We had a great time visiting with family and friends and seeing Santa. There was a nice Christmas message and I sang with the Young Women. I wondered how Lucy would respond to Santa this year; I thought maybe she would be nervous or scared, she surprised me and she ran up to him, open-armed with reckless abandon. It was pretty adorable. She told him she wanted candy and toys. Luckily we don't watch commercials so she really hasn't figured out how to ask for specific things and we still get to give her whatever we think she'll like, (and some things she needs-parents are lame like that). It's been a lot of fun shopping for her this year.

A few more preparations and then time to relax.
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Three sizes.


I am so excited for Christmas this year. We've had two, Christmas themed Family Home Evenings and Lucy is understanding the difference between Santa and the meaning of Christmas. I am working on her Mary costume for Christmas Eve, I can't wait, I have some leftover blue fabric and am just going to make a simple, pull-over, smock and a wrap for her head. We still have a couple more gifts to get and all the wrapping to do, plus figuring out what to make for Christmas Eve appetizers. Mmmm...I'm thinking about making these potato nests. Only without the Salmon, and with a little crumbled bacon, so it will be like a baked potato bite. I'm also going to do Cranberry Puffs, again.

I've been working on some crafts for Christmas gifts and they have been really rewarding, they turned out better than I thought. I'll post pictures after Christmas so as not to ruin the surprises. Today, Jen and I are baking cookies. Christmas is such a fun time of year, the tree and decorations are mostly up, I need to get batteries for the indoor twinkle lights. I'm even enjoying the Christmas music on the radio-for the most part. I guess I'm not as much of a scrooge as I thought.
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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Monday, December 07, 2009

Make your own bagels.



I've always been under the impression that bagels were hard to make. After all, the recipe called for broiling, boiling, and baking. However, they were easy and turned out perfectly. I used this recipe and did the broiling method. Before baking them I added Sesame seeds and kosher salt. For a first timer-I think they were perfect. They were chewy on the outside and soft on the inside. Next time, I'll make them bigger and make the holes a little larger so they are more distinct.
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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Happy Feast of St. Nicholas!

An example of Russian icons of St. Nicholas fl...Image via Wikipedia



Thanks so my pseudo-Catholic upbringing, I get to celebrate a lot more holidays. I have a special affinity for St. Nicholas' Day, St. Patrick's Day, and May Crowning. Last night, as tradition dictates, we put out our shoes to see what would be left in the morning-treats if you're good and coal or twigs if you're not. We had a house full of treats today.
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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Cookie Fail



I tried to make the "window pane" or "stained glass" cookies I've been seeing in all the magazines this year. I didn't like them. I guess I like my cookie and hard candy separate. Also, it was difficult to keep the crushed candies from getting onto the edge of the cookie. The cookie part tasted really great so maybe I'll use the rest of the dough for plain cut out cookies. Lesson learned.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Martha's Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies



Martha's Recipe.

**Notes**
  • If you're going to do peanut butter filling, like I did, either half the filling or double the cookie recipe, I had lots of filling leftover.
  • HEED the chilling time-Martha knows what she's talking about.
  • I had a variety of thin and thick cookies-the thicker ones were better, more like a quarter of an inch instead of an 8th.
  • Enjoy.
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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Best Breadsticks



Here is the recipe, makes about a dozen:

3/4 c. Warm (105-115 degrees) water-I like mine on the warmer side.
1 1/2 t. Sugar
1 1/2 t. Yeast
1/4 t. Salt
1 1/2 C. All-Purpose Flour (you many need more depending on how absorbent your flour is)

Seasoning:
2 t. Kosher Salt
2 T. Garlic powder
2 t. Oregano

I use my stand mixer for this, with the whisk attachment.
1. Combine water, sugar, yeast and 1/4 C of the flour. Whisk on medium speed for about 30-60 seconds. Let stand 5 minutes or until the yeast is good and bubbly

*switch to dough hook*

2. Stir in the salt, and in the rest of the flour a quarter cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

3. Grease a large bowl and place dough inside. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in bulk-about 45 minutes.

4. Turn out onto a floured surface and roll out into a large rectangle. Cut into strips with a pizza cutter. Make them as reasonably thick or thin as you like. I like mine on the thin side.

5. Twist each strip and place on a prepared baking sheet. Cover and allow to rise another 30 minutes. Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes.

6. Butter the tops and sprinkle on the seasoning mix (I just keep the extra in a little storage container). There is something about the butter and kosher salt that makes these irresistible. Enjoy.




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Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday



We woke up this morning to a dusting of snow. Lucy said, "Snow, EVERYWHERE!" Our Thanksgiving was really wonderful. We had traditional Onofrio Oyster Soup on Wednesday night and Mom and I had a cooking/baking frenzy. I made THE BEST pumpkin pie. The recipe is in our ward cookbook, I make it every year and every year it's fantastic. Mom made the most perfectly moist and tender turkey. Mom, Dad, Tony, Lucy, Christopher, and Alison were in attendance. Aunt Miki, Uncle Denny, Nana and Papa came over later for dessert and we're expecting Benjamin and Shelly tonight. It was such a nice, relaxing day and is shaping up to be a fun weekend. I hope you all had a great day, too.
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Linksgiving

I am thankful for blogs ♥ I am thankful for my family ♥ I am thankful for my family's blogs ♥ I'm thankful for grocery stores ♥ I am thankful for my calling ♥ I am thankful for garbage bags ♥ I'm thankful for new friends ♥ I'm thankful for old friends ♥ I'm thankful for President Obama ♥ I'm thankful for General Conference ♥ I'm thankful for creativity ♥ I'm thankful for a husband who doesn't watch sports ♥ I'm thankful for Tinkerbell's new modest outfit ♥ I'm thankful for the funny things Lucy says ♥ I'm thankful for thrift and resourcefulness ♥ I am thankful for Russell on Survivor-in spite of his belly ♥ I'm thankful for a really comfortable bed ♥ I'm thankful for The Book of Mormon ♥ I'm thankful for anti-bacterial hand soap ♥ I am thankful for Clementines ♥ I'm thankful for a clean bathroom ♥ I'm thankful for a handy husband ♥ I am thankful for Google ♥ I'm thankful for our marriage class ♥ I'm thankful for the library ♥ I'm thankful for you ♥ Happy Thanksgiving ♥

Monday, November 23, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Three Fun Things


"Outside the bun" indoctrination. I know it looks like barf, but it's a bean burrito. She called it a "tilla tilla."


A long over due reunion and a fun, yummy, Scentsy party. I got this one. I think it will go well in the kitchen with my apple stuff.


Midnight showing of "New Moon." It was like sitting in a theater with 100 Jenny Humphrey's. Oh, and they were handing out free Red Bull. Like they needed it.
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Randomly Boring

{{Potd/2008-06-15 (en)}}Image via Wikipedia

I have had stuff to blog and stuff to tell you...but I just can't make it sound fun and exciting. I have pictures to put up but haven't wanted to sort through in order to pick the best ones and then edit them...but it just irks me to see that it's been over a week since I've posted, and like I said, it's not because I don't have anything to say, it's because I don't know how to say it. I don't want to do an "all rolled into one," post of everything I've done in the last few weeks. I have spent a lot of time doing nothing, just relaxing, crocheting, and spending time with my family. It's been a nice change of pace. I have a bit of anxiety regarding the Holidays. I don't have a plan yet for my shopping and decorating and I need to get that under control. I've been cooking some yummy things and doing some minor sewing but nothing worthy of it's own post. I do have a lot of cute pictures of Lucy chasing about 100 ducks at the park...but they're on my laptop and that will require work from me to get them off and onto my desktop and I just don't feel like it right now. So, here's to being lazy.
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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Muffin Tin Crayons



I've been wanting to do this for a while and we finally had enough broken crayons. I think it would be fun to experiment with different designs, like making patterns in the bottom.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Nothing

Today, Lucy and I are doing nothing productive. Actually, almost nothing, I did make some rolls for YW tonight...so maybe tomorrow we'll really do nothing. And "why," you ask, are we doing nothing? Because for the last two weeks we've been busy getting ready for Halloween, making costumes, planning parties, making decorations, going to parades, trick-or-treating, learning to crochet, learning to cook mussels (amazingly easy), baking bread, baking cake, making croutons, eating chili, buying and wrapping presents, and vacillating between having fun and completely stressing out. So today, is for nothing, almost.







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Monday, November 02, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stuff



I took this picture at a really cool yard sale, in Dexter. We stopped on the way to the Cider Mill, because I saw a ladder-back chair that I had to inspect further. They had a lot of antique toys, jewelry and furniture. Lucy loved the bell on this little fire truck-which was a little out of our price range at $120.00. I scored the chair for $5.00. It needs some repairs, so I guess I'll be learning some new skills soon. I just finished Lucy's Halloween costume, I'll post pictures after the party or on Halloween, I don't know which. My brain is melting into a Halloween/Birthday soup.

We carved pumpkins tonight. Lucy kept saying, "get the guts out." When did she start speaking in sentences? She has also learned the word, "never," which is hilariously frustrating.

"Are you having a birthday party?" "NEVER!"

"Pick up your crayons, blocks, babies, etc." "NEVER!"



There will be more to come after all the festivities.

p.s. something weird, on my Zemanta one of the links is: myballard.com-what?

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Today we went to the Cider Mill.


"HEY! Where's my doughnut?"


"It was right here a second ago..."


"Oh, that's right, I ate it."



We tried a new cider mill this year, it was really great. It was drizzly out, so that dampened our spirits a bit, but the cider and doughnuts were the best we've had. Go to Franklin for the atmosphere, but Dexter for the food.
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Our little meatball...



You'd think she was part Italian or something.
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's ALIVE!



In all my learning about bread and baking, I really want to make sourdough. I found out that first, I had to get a starter. After doing some internet research, I read that it's easier to make sourdough from an established starter,( which may be true-but it's a lot less fun) so I sent away for a free bit of dehydrated starter from the Friends of Carl-check it out, it's pretty cool. However, I think in my haste and excitement I was unable to revive Carl's starter. I think if I'd waited a little longer it might have started bubbling but after a few hours I had nothing. So, I decided to start my own and it has been SO fun! I used a commercial yeast, which is a no-no for sourdough purists, but since this is my first time, I figured I could compromise. It bubbled and frothed for a couple days on the counter and on the third day I left it uncovered over night. I woke up and it was covered with a brown skin, which I scraped off and threw away. Turns out that was my first rookie mistake, I could have just stirred it up and my little yeasty-beasties would have eaten it. After that, it started to produce "hooch." It's now happily living in my refrigerator, waiting to be made into a sponge-and then into a dough. It gets a nice meal every week and has been bubbling away nicely. No wonder it's more expensive than the average loaf of white bread.

I want to name it---but I need to come up with something clever-maybe something Egyptian, since that's the origin of sourdough...any ideas?
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009



Lizzie's Oktoberfest was a huge hit! I think Jennifer must have been cooking for days in preparation and it was all so tasty. I think my taste buds must be German. Lizzie was so dainty with her cake in the beginning but quickly dove in and was covered in frosting. It was such a good cake. We had a ball, lederhosen and all.
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