Monday, September 24, 2012

My Favorite Young Adult Books from the 90's

Today I met a woman in a store who was telling me about her two boys. One who rarely picks up a book, and one who devours them like he's starving. I don't know what makes the difference in people that love to read and people who avoid it, but I'm so glad I found my way into the fantasy world that books reveal to you. 

I know that kids today have so many choice from Harry Potter to A Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but when I was a kid these were a few of my favorites:

I've always loved a story with a girl who's got attitude! 
 

I had over 100 of these books when I was younger. I had a serious addiction, and I was originally planning to name my children Claudia, Stacy, Dawn, Kristy, and Mary Anne.
 

There's nothing better than an underdog that gives the snotty popular kid what's coming to him!
 

And who doesn't love a book of crazy that just gets crazier!

 
So if you were a fellow bookworm, what books kept you begging for more?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Oven Roasted Salmon, Seriously Good!

So I've never been a big fish person, but I've been trying to cook it more because Tad likes it so much. I found this method for cooking it on the Pioneer Woman's Blog and I've gotta say that it was phenomenal! I used to just put the salmon in foil with butter and lemon slices, but I've gotta say that this was better! I got my salmon at Costco, and I did add some lemon slices on top of it as well. Here's what The Pioneer Woman had to say:

Grab a beautiful salmon…
Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Put it in a cold oven, turn on the heat to 400 degrees. Twenty-five minutes later, the salmon will be absolutely perfect. Tender, moist, flaky. A no-fail method!

Even Tad agreed that this was the best salmon we've ever had! Even as a leftover it was terrific!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Which Super Villain Do You Love to Hate?

 The Joker
Batman's Menace 
Many amazing actors have played this role, but I'm partial to Heath Ledger. My little sister once told me that the thing that made the Joker such a good villain is that you never really figure out why he is the way he is. His madness has no reason to it, and because of that it's unpredictable. It definitely makes for an intriguing bad guy.

Lex Luthor
Superman's Foe
Lex has also been portrayed by many talented actors, and I've chosen Michael Rosenbaum from Smallville because I love the background this show gives on the villain. I loved seeing Lex before his dark side took over, and I loved the friendship that Lex and Clark cultivated over the first few seasons. There's something about your greatest enemy being someone who was once your greatest friend that's so tragic. They say you can never truly hate someone unless you've once loved them.
 
 Magneto
X-Men's Opponent 
 Magneto, played by Ian McKellen is another type of bad guy. He spent his youth being persecuted because of his mutant ability by 'normal people'. Once he grew up he turned his fear into anger and became determined to see mutants take control. His strained friendship with Professor Xavier gives you a small hope that perhaps there is still a chance for him, but it doesn't seem likely. 

The Kingpin
Daredevil & Spiderman's Villain
The Kingpin, played by Michael Clarke Duncan in Daredevil, is a bad guy who likes to have others do his dirty work for him. He's built a criminal empire along with a fortune that he uses with no mercy to control the people of New York City. To be honest I don't know much of his background, but it seems that power is what drives him. 

Voldemort
Harry Potter's Destined Enemy
Voldemort reminds me of a reincarnated Hitler. He came from 'mudblood' origins that he despised, and he spent years molding himself into something else. Something that was anything but human. He wants to rid the world of 'muggles and mudbloods', or at the very least make them serve him.

So, tell me, which Super Villain do you love to hate the most? 
I think I'd say Lex Luthor, but you tell me?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

One Sweet Slice on Cupcake Wars! Plus, Cakemaking Tips from Janell!

If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll probably remember the post I did on my amazing cousin Janell and her cake business, One Sweet Slice. Well this week she's got something new for everyone!

Make sure to check your local TV listings for Cupcake Wars on the Food Network! Dish and DirecTV in Utah have it starting at 6 PM. Comcast, I believe is 9 PM. Check out her audition video HERE. I'm so excited to watch her fight to win, and I hope you check out both her store and Sunday's episode of CupCake Wars! 

 

I'm re-posting the interview and tips Janell gave us in case you missed it. Check out her One Sweet Slice Website, Facebook Page, and, of course, her new store!
Almost 6 years ago I got married to my incredibly funny & good looking husband. Now I was somewhat preoccupied with my wedding that day so I failed to recognize the beginning of something new for my cousin Janell. :) She had recently taken some cake decorating classes and volunteered to make my wedding cake, so I gladly turned my cake over to Janell. The only directions I had to give her were my wedding color (pink) and the kind of cake topper I wanted (a bride and groom figurine). She took my poor excuses for cake plans and turned them into a beautiful wedding cake I was in love with! I'm proud to say that mine was her first official wedding cake!
Over the last (almost) 6 years her hobby turned into a thriving business, One Sweet Slice that has gone from great, to amazing, to spectacular! I've personally watched her make several of her cakes and each time I'm amazed at how incredibly creative and gifted she is. I've seen her do things with frosting that I didn't know were possible. She has even been recruited to make specialty cakes for large events and parties (including a Twilight party). You'll also be glad to know that her cakes taste as good as they look! I stole her cupcake recipe after she brought a batch to my baby shower because they were so amazing. I get compliments every time I make them, although they can't compare to Janell's. Until now she's been running her business out of her home, but her success has grown so much that she is in the process of opening her own store in South Jordan, Utah!

Let me tell you a little bit more about her:
Janell is my beautiful and incredibly talented (so talented that your jaw drops to the floor after meeting her for 5 minutes) cousin. She has a very handsome husband, and 4 beautiful children (the youngest was just born a few weeks ago). I would put Janell in the category of the SuperMom! Her house looks like Martha Stewart herself decorated it, she runs a successful business, she's very active in the community and her church, and, let's face it, she's gorgeous! Not to mention that she's the nicest person you'll ever meet. So when I asked her to take time out of her crazy busy schedule to participate in this post she didn't hesitate to say yes.

So here is some great advice and inspiration from my amazing cousin!
*************************************************************************
How did you get started?

I was bored. I went from going to school and working fulltime to watching our first born sleep all day and needed something to keep me busy. I went into Roberts Arts and Crafts and saw a sign advertising cake decorating classes and decided to give it a try. The beginner class was held once a week for four weeks and I immediately loved it which led me to take 3 other decorating courses. After that I began making cakes for family and friends, my first wedding cake I made was for my lovely cousin Candice :). After that cake I received a lot of encouragement and
decided to participate in a Bridal Show at Southern Utah University which is were I booked my first non-family wedding cakes.....and that's when the craziness began. I have made a lot of cakes since then and for about five years I keep the business really small. The demand has been overwhelming and my husband and I decided to open a storefront in South Jordan! We will sell cake for weddings, birthdays, special events and cupcakes.

What were the best classes or learning experiences you went to that you would recommend to others?


Wilton was the best way to start, just to learn the basics with working on cake, fondant and icing. These classes also helped me know that I had a natural talent for cake design and that I enjoyed it. One of the best classes was from Carrie Biggers in Salt Lake City, she is amazing and is k
nown nationally since she has competed on a few TV programs. There are also annual cake decorating conventions that offer a lot of classes. I would also recommend joining a local ICES group (International Cake Exploration Sociate) which is where you meet with other cake decorators to learn and network. The last thing to recommend is joining a cake forum to learn tips and ideas, the best I have found is Cake Central.

If you're on a budget, what are the essential cake making/decorating tools to spend your money on?

A handless bench scraper to smooth the icing, a good rolling pin, sharp pizza cutter, 2 good fondant smoothers, a variety of cutters, a turn table that locks, basic round tips and spatulas.

What's your favorite cake you've done?

Honestly, every new cake becomes my favorite. They are individually designed which always brings new challenges and satisfactions. If I had to pick a cake to spotlight, I would pick three :). One is a topsy turvy cake that had a lot of bows and gum paste flowers. The second is a cake that was make for the Osmond wedding, I incorporated a crown into the design and was able to use new skills and the event was just amazing. The third would be a cake I made that was very traditional white on white cake, it turned out very cute and it was fun to make.

What's your worst nightmare experience with a cake you've done?

Ha....do I really answer this or should I just try to sound perfect! I would say it happened when I went to deliver a cake to a reception that was located at a house. When I knocked on the door a lady answered and told me the venue changed! and it was 25 minutes away. Of course I was in a rush and I had 5 other cakes to deliver. This event caused a chain reaction of other minor events and it was extremely stressful. Oh and on the same day, a bride picked up her cake and when she was driving to her reception, the cake tipped over! So on top of being late and stressed, I had to go fix a cake to make it look beautiful. In the end, everything ended just fine and all the brides were happy.


What are your best sellers?

In regards to cake flavors - Most of the time, brides come to a tasting and without knowing what cake flavors they'd like so I provide a few cake samples for a tasting. My most popular are Raspberry Swirl, Chocolate Chunk and Red Velvet. In regards to cake design - All of my cakes are individually designed so rarely do I make the same cake twice.


What kind of things will your new store offer?

Over the last five years I have built a strong clientele by selling wedding cakes. This will continue to be a focus but I will also offer birthday cakes, specialty cakes, cake bites, brownies, cake shakes and of course...cupcakes!

What tips would you give for mom's who don't want to do it professionally, but who'd like a few basic tips for making cuter family birthday cakes?

Make sure you have a good base to work with: a moist evenly baked cake, cool it, level it and then stack it correctly. Then ice the cake and make sure to use enough icing (with real butter) to get a smooth clean look. Then the fun begins, design the cake with the individual in mind and I'm sure they will love it. If you can't come up with something on your own, the Internet is full of creative cake ideas.

Store location - 1644 West 10600 South, South Jordan, Utah
Email address janell@onesweetslice.com
Facebook fanpage , http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/One-Sweet-Slice/272448060474
***********************************************************************
Everyone be sure to check out her website and facebook page. If you've got a wedding, birthday, shower, party, or even a girls night coming up give her a call!
And don't forget to get yourself a delicious treat from her new store when it opens up!

And a big thank you to Janell for all of the advice you shared with us! You're amazing!

Monday, August 27, 2012

What Ever Happened to Home Ec?


For some reason I never took a Home-Ec (or Family and Consumer Science as it's called now) course when I was in school. I don't remember it ever being an option while I was in Texas, and by the time I moved to Utah all of my classmates had already taken it. 

Now I know that some people have no desire for a course like this, and to be honest when I was in high school I probably wouldn't have wanted to take it either. Some people might see it as old fashioned or unnecessary, however, now that I've got my own home to run and take care of I really wish I'd learned a few more skills. Now that I'm a young mother I find myself without the knowledge and skills that I could have wished. 


 
I don't even try baking bread or pies from scratch, they scare me. 
 
Trying to figure out the best way to clean my home takes me doing hours of research on Pinterest first.
  
If an appliance stops working I always wait for Tad to come home and fix it.  
I can't operate a sewing machine, in fact I can't even sew on a button! My husband has 3 shirts sitting in the back of his closet he can't wear because it has missing or broken buttons and I am too afraid to try replacing them! How pathetic am I? Sometimes I feel very........unprepared.

What I'm wondering here is where you people have learned skills like this? Did you take a Home-Ec/Family and Consumer Science course? Did you learn it through your mother and grandmother? Did your church offer some kind of training? Or are you like me, and you never quite learned? I'd love to increase my skill set, and I'd love to know how you did it?!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Seriously Yummy: Sweet and Sour Chicken & Fried Rice

For months now I have been craving Panda Express, but have been either too poor or too lazy to go get it, but when I saw this on Pinterest I pinned it vowing to make it. Last week I did, and it was SO GOOD!!!!!! I ate myself sick because I just couldn't stop. I will tell you that I cooked for 2 1/2 hours, but maybe that was because it was my first time using these recipes. Even so it wasn't difficult cooking, there's just a process you have to go through. However, it was well worth it. I'm excited to make it again! So if you're looking for a great recipe, that also reheats really well, this is it!

I found the Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe on Made it. Ate it. Loved it.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

adapted from: Mels Kitchen Cafe

Chicken Breading:
3-5 chicken breast
salt and pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup canola oil

Rinse chicken, trim off fat or extras and then cut into 1 inch cubes. season with salt and pepper. Dip chicken into cornstarch and coat all the way and then into eggs. Heat oil in large skillet. Cook chicken until browned. Place in baking dish. 3 chicken breasts can be in a 9x9 but 5 chicken breasts fits better in a 9x13.

Sauce:
3/4 cups sugar
4 Tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Whisk until smooth. Then pour evenly over chicken. Turn chicken so the sauce gets on both sides and then put in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. turn chicken and then cook for 15 more minutes.


 And I found the recipe for the Fried Rice (which Tad raved about) on Life As A Lofthouse
Fried Rice                                                                                             
3 cups cooked white rice (day old or leftover rice works best!)
3 tbs sesame oil
1 cup frozen peas and carrots (thawed)
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup soy sauce
      On medium high heat, heat the oil in a large skillet or wok.  Add the peas/carrots mix, onion and garlic. Stir fry until tender. Lower the heat to medium low and push the mixture off to one side, then pour your eggs on the other side of skillet and stir fry until scrambled. Now add the rice and soy sauce and blend all together well. Stir fry until thoroughly heated!   **You could really play around with this rice too! Try adding some diced ham, or green onion :) Yum! 

So get to the store if you need to and get home to make this quick!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Say Cheese? Pictures Gone Wrong

 This is more of what I'm hoping for when I ask my kids to smile for a picture. It's sweet, and cute, and very rare. I can only seem to get cute pictures of my kids inconsistently. What I USUALLY end up with is shown below....



I just have one thing to say. Telling your kids to 'Say Cheese!' DOES NOT WORK! If you don't believe me, look above!

So what I need from you people is a list of ways to get kids to take good pictures, and not one's where they look like they're in pain. So if you have some good tips, please share the wealth

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wheel of Time Book 1: Eye of the World

This series has got to be my favorite of all time. I know it's lengthy and complex, but it is so worth it! I've read and re-read all 14 books over and over anxiously awaiting that final book that will be coming out in January of 2013. My excitement has mounted and boiled over to the point that I've decided to do a post on every book! Don't worry, I wont do them all at once! But if you love to read, and you've never read these I intend to convince you to pick them up. 

Book 1, The Eye of the World revolves around 3 village youths, Rand (middle), Mat (left) and Perrin (right). The world Robert Jordan created has a very 'Lord of the Rings' feel to it, but it's a unique world of it's own. While the 'age' that Rand, Mat, and Perrin live in speaks of 'the age of legends' that had wondrous things that sound suspiciously like light bulbs and automobiles.

In the Age of Legends there was a war between people who walk in the light and the Aes Sedai (men and women who could weild something called the one power, which is kind of akin to magic) and the followers of the Dark One and their dark Aes Sedai who are called the Forsaken. During the Aes Sedai's attempt to defeat the Dark One they managed to force him into a prison, but only at a very terrible cost. The Dark One managed to taint the male half of the one power and turn all of the male Aes Sedai mad. These men quickly went crazy and broke the world wielding the one power.

The most famous male Aes Sedai of that time was called Lews Therin, and people called him The Dragon. When the madness hit him he killed every person who had a drop of his blood in their veins including his wife and children, and when he'd realized what he'd done he killed himself. As the world tried to survive and piece itself together a prophecy was revealed that The Dragon would be reborn in the world's greatest time of need and would be the cause of much destruction and chaos as well as being the people's last hope of surviving another breaking. The people of Rand, Mat, and Perrin's age live in fear of that time coming to pass.


Rand, Mat, and Perrin live in a place called the Two Rivers, it's a village that has been mostly forgotten about by the world. One day 2 strangers appear in this small town, Moiraine and Lan. They create a stir, but that is nothing compared to the next set of strangers who show up that night. 

They are known as Trollocs (the strange half animal half people monsters in the background) and Fades (creatures that ooze hatred and fear and are deadly quick and vicious). The show up in the Two Rivers in the middle of the night and set fire to the town while they attack it. 

Moiraine and Lan manage to save most of the town, but they reveal to Rand, Mat, and Perrin that the attack was aimed at the 3 of them. They are convinced that they must leave the town or risk putting everyone they love in more danger.

Rand al'Thor is a shepherd boy who lives on a farm outside of town with his father Tam. He's sweet and thoughtful along with being stubborn and more than a little confused by women, particularly the mayor's daughter Egwene. He's eager to help out where he can, and smart and able enough to be a great asset.

 Mat Cauthon has a reputation for playing pranks (for good reason) and causing trouble, however he's also got a mischievous smile and manner that you can't help but love. Even though he's constantly getting his best friends Rand and Perrin in hot water, they still find themselves eager to join in his plans. Behind his afinity for thrills and jokes he's the kind of guy who will go out of his way to help the downtrodden and risk his life to save people in need (even though he'll probably complain the whole time he's doing it).


Perrin Aybara is the blacksmith's apprentice, and has forged large muscles along with steel during his long hours in the forge. He takes his time to think things through before he acts, and is always careful to be gentle so he doesn't hurt someone accidentally. Some people might think he's shy and a little slow, but if you try and push him you'll find out that he's no easy meat.

Every time I start this series over I feel like the boys I meet in book 1 are completely different people from the men who are in book 13. They are so innocent and naive in the beginning, starting out on a journey that will not only change their lives, but the entire world as well. So after the town is attacked these 3 boys leave the Two Rivers in search of safety and answers, although fate does not let them leave alone.......

Thom Merrilin is a Gleeman who had the bad fortune to be hired to perform for a festival in the Two Rivers that happened to be coincide with the attack. If you're asking yourself what a Gleeman, it's someone who is a great storyteller, juggler, musician, acrobat, etc. Thom is a man of many talents, and someone who's got a very interesting past. He spots Moiraine and the boys trying to leave in the night and takes the opportunity to leave town with them, unaware that this is far from being the safer choice.

Egwene al'Vere, you might remember, is the mayor's daughter who drives Rand crazy. She's been training to be a Wisdom (someone who looks after the sick, and helps the mayor look after the town). She also notices her friends trying to sneak out of town and demands to be included in the journey.

So this group vanishes into the night pursued by dangerous creatures of the dark, trying desperately to outrun them and reach safety. However, the Two Rivers was not going to give them up without a fight.

Nynaeve al'Meara is the current Wisdom who was training Egwene, and she manages to catch up to Moiraine and the rest. Nynaeve has a large temper that boils over frequently, and nothing makes her more angry than Moiraine. Although Nynaeve planned on bringing the boys and Egwene home to the Two Rivers, she gets swept away by fate as well.

This book is the beginning of an incredibly complex and intriguing and addicting story that you will never be sorry that you began. Every time you read it you'll notice something you didn't see before.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

3-Ingredient Root Beer Pulled Pork

Are you looking for a new, easy, great recipe to try? Well this one couldn't be easier and it's really good! I found this on Pinterest through Quick Dish.Give it a try!

 Ingredients

  • 1 (2 pound) pork tenderloin (pork shoulder or butt can also be used)
  • 1 (12 ounce) can of root beer
  • 1 (18 ounce) bottle of barbecue sauce
  • 8 hamburger buns

Directions

  1. 1Place the pork tenderloin in a slow cooker and pour the can of root beer over the meat. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or until pork shreds easily with a fork.
  2. 2After pork has cooked, drain and discard the root beer. Shred the pork and place it back in the slow cooker. Pour the barbecue sauce over the pork and stir to combine. Serve immediately or keep warm in slow cooker until ready to serve. Serve on hamburger buns.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Question of The Day: Are You a Homemaker or Not, and Why?

 


Ok ladies, there's a question I wish to pose to you. WHY or WHY AREN'T you a homemaker? I want to know why you've made the choice that you've had, or perhaps you'd LIKE to be a homemaker but are needed to work. Either way I want to know your reasons for what you do and why you do it.

In case you're wondering why I do it, here it is:

To be honest I never wanted a 'career', at least in the typical meaning of the word. I always knew I wanted to be home with my family. Some of it is because I wanted to be in charge of my own schedule, I've never really liked being told what to do. I know some of you moms out there are shaking your heads because, yes, our children are bossy and often try to tell me what to do. But I've got that Mom Card I can play.

Another reasons is that I wanted to be sure that I was the person who had the most influence and contact with my kids (at least for now while they are still at home). If someone is going to teach them bad habits then that person is going to be me!

One final reason I'll give you is just that the idea of being that mom that has fresh baked cookies waiting for the kids when they get home from school always made me smile. I know I'm no June Cleaver, but I love sitting with my kids over a batch of cookies we've just made and some glasses of milk talking about our day. Even if my 3 year old's answer to "What was your favorite part of the day?" is always, "Playing with daddy!"

There are a lot of reasons I do what I do, some selfish, some idealistic, but now I'd like to hear from YOU. I know there are so many different ways to be the Matriarch of a family, and I sincerely want to know how you do it and why.



Monday, August 6, 2012

Inspiration Begats Creativity: My DIY Jewelry Display

So I took a trip to GoodWill last week and came away with some great finds! I went on my shopping trip because I'd been inspired by a good friend of mine and her jewelery display.

Jess at A Few Of My Favorite Things did a great post on her most recent decorating project and I just had to make one of my own. The above picture is a peek at her post, if you want to see more check it out here.

For my jewelry I found this little number for $8. I'm still piecing together the rest of my setup, but for my necklaces, bracelets, and watches I thought this would be perfect. 

I may paint the base of it soon, but for now what do you think?
(also, does anyone have any clue what this might have been meant for originally?)

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