Monday, December 29, 2008

A fun blog post on family nights...

along with a fantastic contest can be found over at Sunshine & Lemonade.... she has many recomendations for a fun filled family night and a giveaway to completely set you up for a few family nights.

This week's weekend winner prize pack includes: Blokus, The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer, dvds of "The Goonies" and "The Princess Bride," and snacks. 
Around here we are learning a new game, which happened to be the family gift I purchased this year..                                                

Spending time with the family over a board game is so very much fun, I urge you to take the time to explore this with your own family, if you do not already.

Tagged my Melly over at Miscellany ....
4th folder, 4th picture....

Diana Love, writer and speaker extraordinnaire... from a writing conference I attended in June... amazing weekend. 


Also teaching a workshop was the charismatic and wonderful Sherrilyn Kenyon,there are not words enough to describe her energy, passion and intelligence. The back of the woman you see there is my pretty darn incredible herself writing partner.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Pioneer woman was right...

You NEED to make THIS cake.

I thought the batter was too thin... I poured it in the pan anyways. I thought the temperature was too low... and after a bit realized it was. I baked mine at 325. I thought the 'frosting' was way too thin... I poured it over the cake.

I waited a few minutes. I cute a slice. I marvelled at the beauty. I took my first bite.



Grandma Iny’s Prune Cake

1 cup prunes
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 ½ cups flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Cover prunes with water. Bring to a boil and cook until soft and mashable, about eight minutes.
Remove from heat, drain water, and mash on a plate. Set aside.
Sift together dry ingredients.
Mix together oil, sugar, and eggs.
Combine wet and dry ingredients, add buttermilk, and stir gently until just combined.
Throw in the mashed pruned and stir gently to combine.

Pour batter into buttered baking dish (9 x 13 or so) and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE OR INY WILL PADDLE YOUR BOTTOM.

While cake has five minutes remaining, make the icing:

1 cup sugar
½ cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon white corn syrup
¼ cup butter
½ teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a slow boil. Boil without stirring for 5 to 7 minutes, or until icing starts to turn dark. Do NOT allow icing to reach soft ball stage; icing should be caramel in color, but not sticky like caramel. Icing should be easily pourable.

Remove cake from oven and pour on icing immediately.

Allow to rest on the counter. Serve warm.

NOTE: There is absolutely zero “prune effect” associated with this cake. The end.

After the holiday rush....

The calm. Ah blessed relaxation. No gifts needing to be finished, no long list of things to bake. Instead, new jammies to curl up in, new cookbooks to peruse, new scents to slather on ones body. Bliss.

I didn't manage to take any pictures on Christmas Eve, when all the family gathered here. Instead, I simply soaked up the happiness that is all of us together. I love how my family is growing as my kids get older. Becca's SO is family as surely as my own kids. He fits in so perfectly, friends with my older boys, a wonderful mentor and role model to my younger son, polite, funny, treats Becca beautifully. Lots of laughing, visiting, talking, eating ... and playing of Rockband 2.

Yesterday half of us went on a shopping spree to spend gift cards...I was surprised the stores were not as crazy as I expected. Happily so. I bought a PUR water filter, part of my oath to stop drinking soda. I figure that alone and I will lose 10 pounds and cut my caffeine headaches out. Our water is so disgusting. Several times a year we wind up with a boil water ordinance... the rest of the time it tastes like swamp water. I was amazed at how wonderful the water tasted with the filter. We opted for the stage 3 version, given that whole swamp water taste and all. Brilliant. I actually drank 3 glasses of water last night.

A few pictures of holiday baking ...

the nameless cookies... that aren't cookies at all... but ritz crackers sandwiched with pb and dipped in chocolate.

Split seconds... we make ours with raspberry and apricot preserves... family favorite


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Not loving...and loving....

When I woke this morning... it was to more snow....

So I grabbed the camera..and ran to the back window to shoot a picture of our sure-to-disappear picnic table....

And a few hours later..I did it again.....

And then it was too dark...but I did snap one out the front window. See how HUGE the bank in the median is?

So what am I loving in the midst of all this snow?

Hot Cocoa... made from this recipe... a favorite for years now after finding it on a Christmas email list...
Warm and Toasty Hot Chocolate Mix

about 20 cups mix (forty 1/2-cup servings)

* 1 25.6-ounce package non-fat dry milk powder
* 1 16-ounce jar powdered non-dairy creamer
* 1 15- or 16-ounce container presweetened cocoa powder
* 1 13-ounce jar instant malted milk powder
* 1 cup sifted powdered sugar

1. In extra-large bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Store tightly covered.
2. To use, combine equal parts mix and boiling water. Makes about 20 cups mix (forty 1/2-cup servings).

Listology. What can I say... I have a thing for lists. (Thing sounds so much better than saying I have an obsessive compulsion, doesn't it?) And because of that obsession... I love this too...

This paper snowflake. I think that is the project Adrianna and I will do tomorrow... not that we are snow deprived mind you. See above.

This guilty pleasure... kind of like... paper dolls for grown ups. (Or so I like to tell myself!)

And finally... the new blog that I stumbled upon... that had many of these goodies amongst their links. And so, so, many more.

For all you YA reading lovers.....

Lisa Schroeder, author of I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, is celebrating the release of her upcoming YA novel, FAR FROM YOU, and hosting a contest with LOTS of great prizes!

For three days leading up to the book’s release date of December 23rd, you can watch VLOGs and hear some excerpts read from the book. The VLOG schedule is as follows:

Sunday, December 21st – Liv’s Book Reviews -

Monday, December 22nd – What Vanessa Reads -

Tuesday, December 23rd – Lisa Schroeder, author - AND

Help spread the word, and you might win a fabulous prize!

Copy and paste THIS entire blog entry into your blog between now and December 21st, then come back to Lisa’s blog at either Livejournal OR Myspace and leave a comment with the link to your blog and you will get TWO entries to win a number of prizes.

Wondering what you might win? Here is the list (there will be multiple winners):

~ An Advanced Review Copy of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, by Carrie Ryan

~ An Advanced Review Copy of SOMETHING, MAYBE, by Elizabeth Scott

~ Young adult novel GIRL, HERO by Carrie Jones

~ Young adult novel, THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD by Donna Freitas

~ Young adult novel, UGLIES by Scott Westerfield

~ Pair of YA fairy tale retellings by Cameron Dokey (BELLE and BEFORE MIDNIGHT)

~ TWILIGHT movie soundtrack

~ $15.00 Barnes and Noble gift card along with some Harry & David’s chocolate moose munch

~ And of course, a signed copy of FAR FROM YOU

For more chances to win, watch one or all of the VLOGs and leave a comment on that vlogger’s page, and you get another entry. That means if you post the schedule on your blog AND comment on all three VLOGs, you can have FIVE entries for the contest!

A live drawing with winners announced will be done by Lisa Thursday morning, December 24th, in a special holiday VLOG.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Miss A doing a bit of welcome home crafting for our neighbor who has been gone for a year. She was very excited to see him tonight.

Some wee felt folk in the making for a friends daughter. Miss A and I are working on them together. An Epiphany gift I am thinking.

The afghan I am crocheting for Chryssie for Christmas.
It won't be done by then.
She loves it anyways.
This yarn is made form recycled plastic bottles, pretty cool stuff
and amazingly soft for synthetic.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008