Monday, December 22, 2008

"JIJRBRED DAY" a photo essay by Joseph

That's what Joseph wrote on the family calendar.

What it means is "Gingerbread Day". With the snow days the last two days of school, I was in high stress mode with unfinished projects abounding (sorry Michael and Jon and your respective families - I hope to get your stuff out early next week!) I wasn't in the mood to spend a small fortune on candy and I certainly didn't have time to make the houses. I refuse to buy a kit (or 10).

Monday morning, I realized that nothing would change and it was time to do gingerbread houses. We like to have gingerbread parties, but the snow and late date made it so only Rachel had two friends over. It was still fun!

Now, we've had some really good years with gingerbread houses. One of my favorites was with the Stauffenbergs - GusGus made a trailer and another year a dog house with a bleeding postman (this year he made a dumpster, complete with a drunk peeing on the side). It was hilarious! But for the last three years or so, I find that by the time I've made enough house for friends and kids, I am not in the mood to make my own. That's okay. This year was very last minute, so it wasn't one of our more creative ones. I just did basic A frames houses, which the kids seem to prefer since it gives the most area for candy, and stacking on the candy seems to be the main goal.

I have fond memories of making gingerbread houses at my mom's house. My brother, Snookie, seemed to have a real knack for the darker side, with dead cinnamon bears as a main theme. It makes me proud.

So, I started with the dough, which is the BEST gingerbread house dough I have ever tasted. I love the dough. I eat the dough. I ate so much, I got a tummy ache.

Joseph was totally IN MY FACE and MY HAIR and MY EARS and MY HANDS and I knew I wouldn't make it. He might not either. So I gave him the camera. He took 91 pictures of me rolling out the gingerbread. Except for a few instructions ("Back up Mom, I don't want you in this picture") he was completely occupied.

He was very detailed. Here are A FEW of his shots. (Not every pictures makes the edit, right? You are welcome.)

The dough recipe is from a baker in our ward.

So I pound in the flour.

And then I roll it out with my broken rolling pin. I love my rolling pin. I wish it wasn't broken, but I love it and use it.

I cut out every piece with a knife by tracing my complex pattern.
Such as this one:
But I didn't make any outhouses this year. I just ran out of patience time.

Here they are cooling on the stove top.

At this point, I began to beg, "PLEASE GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY!" When Joseph realized that the gingerbread had to cool and there was no action, he consented.
THANK GOODNESS!! I was at the end of my rope! It's important for kids to get fresh air every day.
Matthew joined him.

Later that night, I assembled the gingerbread by melting sugar in a pan and dipping the sides in the liquid sugar and sticking it to the covered cardboard and to each other. Be careful, it's hot! It's also the most superior way for assembling gingerbread houses. It's fast and strong.

At last!
Joseph begins his assembly.

Rachel, Clay, and Daniel ponder the possibilities ...

Daniel is a story teller. I don't remember what he was saying, but Clayton looks amused.

Ben was the lucky recipient of the one of the "special" gingerbread houses with an open air ventilation system and sky lights. He was determined to fill it in with frosting. After the frosting filled the house (nearly) he finally broke down and covered the structural flaw with candy bars.

Daniel working on balancing his candy canes. We had a discussion about physics. It is impossible to stick two candy canes upright with a dab of frosting on the end. I wonder now, if the melted sugar would have worked ... note to self ...

Larry HATES sticky. So I was very proud of him for sucking it up and helping Matthew assemble his house.

Joseph worked a couple of windows in his A-frame. Being cursed blessed with a perfect memory, he pined a little for past gingerbread creations. Time to move on.
Hmmm... this design should be no surprise to anyone who knows Rachel - perfectly symmetrical.

This year was great because most of the kids were able to keep the frosting IN the squeeze bag. Trust me, not scraping up the frosting out the top and putting it back in makes a lot of difference in my frustration level.

Larry put the frosting on the end of the candy and Matthew stuck it on the house. Success!

Just as Rachel's house was symmetrical, Sari's is kicked up a notch. Their houses define their personalities. By the way, Sari went on to make a dog for her house and then she scattered mini chocolate chips all around it and Larry put a cling-on on the dog and Sari said she was inspired by GusGus.

Clayton impressed us all with his ability to spell his name on the side of his house

Matthew with his finished house.

Ben with his finished house (and Joseph still hard at work in the background.)

Later that evening, Rachel's sweet friend, Courtney came over and made her house. She missed the general party, but we were glad to have her when we did.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


You all who know me, know that I am not a good cook. I don't really enjoy it. I even took a cooking class at BYU once in an effort to have 12 credits to qualify for my Pell Grant learn some skills so I would enjoy that aspect of homemaking more.

That really didn't work AND I got a B. Which really ticked me off.

For one year, a few years back, we had a law school family in our ward named Amy and Joe. They were a cute, busy young couple. So cute! But then they moved. Thanks to blogging, we have stayed in touch. About a year ago Amy wrote a post with this recipe. As I recall the story, she was home sick one day, when she was still in high school. Joe, her crush, who would someday become her dear husband, made her these pancakes.

Rachel has just recently discovered true romance and she LOVES that story. She also loves a post Amy did once about how Joseph always gives her a kiss goodnight. Rachel has a whole set of expectations based on Joseph Lee. He once told me I was of "advanced years" but since I live with my foot in my mouth, I understand that he doesn't realize that I am 25 on the inside.

Here's a picture of the darling family. My friend, Sue, will recognize Joseph as the son of her friend from Salem, and the brother of one of her young women, Michal Lee. It's a small world.

Back to not liking to cook - pancakes are right up my alley and I love the weekly occasional breakfast for dinner idea. I also love pumpkin. When the kids asked what we were having they were skeptical. They were scared. They were suddenly not hungry. I made them all try one. My Joseph ate NINE. In short, we all LOVE this recipe! We titled them the AmyJoe Lee Pancakes (which is a play on Amy's middle name, Jo, and her husband's name Joseph. Get it?) or True Love Pancakes which a is a play on the fact that we LOVE them and Joe made them for Amy and that is true love too (let's remember he was in high school!)

AMYJOE LEE Pumpkin Puff Pancakes

2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cooked pumpkin
1 3/4 cup Bisquick
1/4 cup vegetable oil
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. soda
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger

In small mixing bowl, beat eggs on high speed for 5 minutes or ubtil thick and lemon colored. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour batter from 1/4 cup onto medium hot ungreased griddle. Bake until puffed and bubbles begin to break.

AMYJOE LEE Apple Cider Syrup
1 cup sugar (I actually put very little sugar in, maybe 1/4 cup or less, we think the cider makes it sweet enough, do what you like
2 T. cornstartch
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 cups apple cider
2 T. Lemon juice
1/4 cup melted butter

In saucepan, mix sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg; stir in apple cider and lemon juice. Cook stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir for 1 minute. remove from heat, stir in melted butter. Makes 2 1/2 cups syrup.

Because Sari and Joseph have hollow legs and can eat more in a meal than some small countries do in a day For my size family I times the pancakes by 5 and put the leftovers in a tupperware pitcher to make individual pancakes as liked. I also 2 1/2 times the cider syrup recipe and that seems to be almost the right ratio. We LOVE the cider syrup! I recommend tasting your cider first to determine how much sugar you need to add. Ours was made with less sweet apples than we usually get, so I added the full one cup of sugar. They really do get super puffy and are light as air. If you prefer waffles, like Larry does, just add another egg white or two and a smidge more vegetable oil.

Do NOT wait a year like I did to make these pancakes. Make them NOW. Tonight. Tomorrow morning. But do it soon. You'll be thanking me!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


IF we were to be vandals, we would do this to our Ute-fan friend's yard:

And we would expect this in return:

And we would have gotten this:

IF you were to do this, these are the supplies you need:
Note - it is nice to use Professional Marking Paint, designed just for grass! How very thoughtful of someone to think of that.

Be sure to discard your empties and used in a public garbage can.

Again, all hypothetical.

Monday, November 10, 2008


I finished up some projects this weekend - and boy doesn't that feel great! I made a turquoise colored pillow to liven up my yellow, brown and orange family room. I LOVE it. It is just the color the room needed. Now I have more to do!

I finished the binding on the first ever quilt I made (and finished two years ago, except the last 1 1/2 sides of the binding). Someone, who quilts all the time, told me that the colors were all wrong and it was ugly, but I made it and I like it. I didn't really know what I was doing, color and hue wise. Next time, I will do better, I hope!

My next quilt will be out of the fabrics above. Not that quilt pattern, but those fabrics. Yay me!

Speaking of fabric. I am in love with these by Tina Givens. I haven't bought any yet, but I visit almost every day.

I made Joseph a Panda bear from gloves. Too cute!

Like all five year olds, Matthew desperately wants an iPod. This morning he took matters into his own hands. He made himself an ipod. Right down to the earbuds. Good thing he is creative. I am not about to buy an iPod for a 5 year old! He keeps bringing me over the iPod to listen to my favorite songs on. He spins the center controller and everything. Little smarty.
When life hands you a broken furnace make pumpkin chocolate muffins! (the oven heats up the house - bonus!)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Rachel had to make a mole for Chemistry class. (I have no idea why. She also had to name it and do a spoof on "mole" in the name. Again, I have no idea how this relates to Chemistry.)
Meet Cherry Chocolate Chip Molt (malt - get it?). Poor thing was separated from her family when they were all eaten by coyotes up at Walter's Farm. We are a little worried that in her fragile (fraj-ee-lay - name the movie?) state she might be taken advantage of by some hemole. We will miss her, as Rachel just found out that her teachers keep these for-ever.

Monday, October 20, 2008


so this was the perfect dinner:
Except ours looked like this.

But it was still delicious!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


As most of you may know by now, I have a little love affair going on with Amy Butler's stuff. Okay, so a lot of a love affair! (Oh, and don't even get me started on Joel Dewberry fabrics ...)I made these pillows up a few weeks ago and finally sewed the closing seam. They are sort of ottomanish, but could be made into beanbags or whatever you want! I LOVE them! Ten points to the first one who can find the GLARING mistake that I just don't want to unpick and fix.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Hello friends ...

I made these sock and glove animals this week while watching the debates. We have a zebra, a bear (or meerkat), piggie, and dog. I like the dog best, someday she will have a scarf and then I will update her.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Reusable shopping bag

The one with the orange trim is what they look like all folded up in their little case so you can toss it in your car, purse, diaper bag, man's man bag, or what have you. These bags hold three 2- liter bottes just fine. They were the prototype and I think that I have gotten better at making them - but these are what will be going out ... at some point! I love the khaki toile print and they are sewn in french seams so they should be nice and strong!

Thanks for participating! It was fun for me to read all the comments!

Friday, August 15, 2008


Because I am so worried about leaving my family for EIGHT DAYS, I decided to sew a new bag to use for this week and my traipsing around. I should have sewn it sooner. Something about the sound of the machine humming along just relaxes me.
I still need to close the bottom of the bag, which I will do, once I add the magnetic closure. Also, the inside of the bag is dark brown, the flash bleached it out.

The inspiration for this bag came from Ric-Rac. I made it bigger and added more pockets. I also made the strap longer so that it hangs like a messenger bag.