Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cocoa. Homemade Bread. Sweatshirts. Rain. Snuggles. We love cooler weather!

We are so happy to have cooler weather in the desert that it makes us want to snuggle and have hot cocoa or Abuelita most every night (well,we would love it every night but it is more like every couple of nights). I love sharing my life with these fun people:

(This boy wanted to put tinfoil on his teeth to have "braces".  So silly!)

Last week Blake and I made homemade bread. It's funny how when the weather drops in temperature, homemade bread, soups, cocoa... homemade food all sound so delicious and nothing is better than homemade bread!

Brittany Dean (from previous post) made homemade bread for our General Conference Wrap-up Party and we've been using her recipe that she uses. It's easy and works! I've always had trouble with homemade bread as it takes too much time or my yeast never works right or I have to go pick up a child from school right when I should be kneading it. This one works out great.

Funny story.  After Brittany made this for us, the following Saturday, I drove Carson and the church kids to the dance.  I finally fell into my bed at 1:15 a.m. Sunday morning.  A few minutes later, Carson comes running into my room and announces, "Mom, I forgot to get the sacrament bread!"  I told him, "Set your alarm clock for 6:00 a.m.  We'll have to get up and make some before church (which starts at 9:00 a.m.)."  Granted the "ox was in the mire" and we probably could have gone to the local store on the way to church but what does that teach my kids?  Nothing.  Luckily I felt prompted by the Spirit to take this opportunity to teach Carson a skill (bread making) and also teach him that obeying the Sabbath Day is important.  So we both woke up, exhausted but made and completed homemade bread for the sacrament that day.  He didn't forget the sacrament bread the rest of the month as he had a sticky note on his door to purchase it prior to Sunday.   Lesson taught :)  I love it when you feel "right" about what you are teaching your children.  I don't always get that feeling but I really felt it through this experience.  I'm grateful for the Lord teaching me and him.

Here is the recipe from singer/songwriter Jenny Phillips:

"For those of you who have been asking for the 'My Perfect Bread Recipe' that came from my 12-year journey to make the perfect bread with ONLY 100% whole wheat, yeast, water, salt, olive oil, and honey, here it is! Follow directions carefully or I can't be held accountable for failure :)

Jenny Phillips' Perfect Bread Recipe

1. Mix the following in a bowl:

2 3/4 Cups of Hot Water (Don't forget the "2". I did that one time. It is 2 3/4 cups.)

1/3 cup olive oil (or applesauce or pumpkin works great too)

1/3 cup honey (sometimes I add 1 TBSP molasses too)

1 TBSP salt

2. Add and mix:

2 cups whole grain wheat flour

2 TBSP active dry yeast

3. Add 1/2 cup flour at a time until the dough quits sticking to the counter or the bowl (if you're doing this in a mixer, you should switch to your bread hook now). This is one of the most important parts here. Too much or too little flour won't make good bread. It is usually around 7 cups total for me in this recipe (the two you already put in plus around 5 more). It should feel barely sticky when you touch it, but not sticking to the bowl or counter. Once it gets to this point, don't mix or knead anymore. Just cover the bowl and let dough rise for 30 minutes right in the mixer.

4. Knock down dough. Form into two loaves and put in greased bread pans. Allow bread to rise 20-30 minutes. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30-35 minutes.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Creepy Chic

AtticGal Rachelle says:

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays when it comes to decorating and crafting!  This year I couldn't wait to play with my new SU! stamps and accessories!  My favorite Halloween decor is what I like to call Creepy Chic.  My whole house is decorated in Creepy Chic as the Witch's Lair.  See my post on my Halloween decor here.

Here is my first Creepy Chic card using SU!'s Dark & Dreary set and Midnight Musings wheel, and my new Simply Scored scoring board (LOVE IT!) to make the pleated rosette and the striped pattern on the black paper.  I just love the classic bold black and white color scheme!

The creepy candelabra was embossed in black on a silver metallic cardstock and embellished with a few well placed basic rhinestones that just give this card some extra bling!  The photo does not do it justice. 
I also really love the vintage Halloween look.  I used the owl from the Warmest of Wished hostess set and my favorite Owl punch to make these cute little goodies.  I love the way the candy stacks up in the new 1 inch cello bags!  I am going to making lots of treats with these bags! (And at $2.50 for 50 of them, I can afford to!)

 The little owl's tiny bag is cut out of orange paper and stuck on with a dimensional dot.  Super easy and so spooky cute!  Whooooooo doesn't love that?

 My last card is another Creepy Chic, and my favorite.  The background is a technique called embossed embossing.  I dry embossed it first using my Big Shot.  Then using a brayer I lightly rolled over the raised image with embossing ink and heat embossed it with hologram highlights embossing powder.  I love it!  It looks like dew drops sparkling on the web.

The lacy border is from the Lace Ribbon border punch and decorative paper, threaded with ribbon and gathered up a bit.

  The spider from the Piece of Poison set is also embossed in black.  My favorite part is the red jewel-like thorax.  I simply stuck on a glue dot and sprinkled it with red glitter.  Watch out!  It almost looks like it will crawl off the card.

May your Halloween be Creepy Chic!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall Snack Mix

Alysa says:  I'm starting to desire Fall and its beautiful color changes and crisp air.  Unfortunately, where we live, we just have to be happy it "falls" below 100 degrees.  Ha!

Getting ready to head with our young women ages 12-18 up to Utah to see this.  I'm going to miss my own little family and our traditions (see here), but it's going to be a great experience for our wonderful young women and my own amazing daughter (and for us leaders). 

I wanted to prepare a special treat for both the young women and my own family to enjoy while watching General Conference.  Saw this original idea here.  I even purchased the fun container.

 I doubled the recipe as I'm making it for 20+ people.  It's a good combination of salty and sweety.

Grab a large bowl and add:
2 cups salted peanuts
2 cups square pretzels
2 cups raisins
1 cup plain M&Ms
1 cup candy corn
2 cups Honey Nut Cheerios
2 cups Cheez-Its
2 cups Cocoa Puffs

You really can add most anything you want - Reese's pieces, popcorn, sunflower kernels, etc.

Enjoy for General Conference or anytime this Fall season.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

We Can't Wait!!!

We're coming upon one of our family's most favorite weekends of the year - General Conference weekend. For those of you that don't know what General Conference is, it is two weekends out of the year (always the first weekend in April and October) that we get to hear from our prophet and apostles (we believe to be the mouthpiece for God on the earth) about what we need to know for the next 6 months and beyond. We're receiving latter-day scripture. Another great part of the weekend is that we get to stay home and watch church on television in our 'jammies if we want. It's both Saturday and Sunday for two sessions - 9:00-11:00 (PST) and 1:00-3:00 (PST) on both days. It shows all over the world.

Some of our family traditions that make this weekend spectacular are:
First: Family Tent. We set up a tent in our family room. When reading about King Benjamin (a prophet in the Book of Mormon), it reads in Mosiah, 2:5, 6 "And it came to pass that when they came up to the temple, they pitched their tents round about, every one according to his family, consisting of his wife, and his sons, and his daughters, and their sons and their daughters from the eldest down to the youngest, every family being separate one from another. And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words which King Benjamin should speak unto them;"

So we set-up our tent, place the door of the tent facing the prophet (on the television) and hear His words. It has been a fun tradition we've done for about 8 years.

Second: Food. We love to have delicious, easily fixed and easily accessed food. I don't want to spend my time in the kitchen or constantly retrieving snacks for the children so we set out a big veggie platter, fruit platter, and some cheese,meats, crackers. A crock-pot meal is made too. Of course we've got to have treats. We keep it simple, healthy and delicious. We know that good food brings people together.

Third: Conference packets. I make simple packets which consist of fun conference games print-offs, new pencils, pens and/or markers, movie -size candy of their choice to use as BINGO pieces and then eat when won, small toy to quiet play with so the children will stay in the same room with us. Carson likes to do "tally marks" for each word he hears that are on his list. For the past couple of years Jesus Christ is always the names said the most. Blake and Maddie like to play Conference BINGO and draw a picture of the person talking. I was going through Maddie's old folder today and she had a picture of Julie Beck and she has two quote bubbles above her. One says, "Mothers Who Know..." and "In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen." Those are keepers! I like how she included herself as a speaker. Priceless!

I have heard more this week than in the past "I'm so excited for conference." Mostly from Blake. I don't care if they are just excited for the candy or the toy as long as they are having a positive experience feeling the Spirit of our Heavenly Father teaching them eternal truths and also knowing that this is what we do when it is conference weekend. It's great with TIVO now because if there is something we really want the children to hear, we just replay it right then and there.

It wasn't always like this. We've had bumps and bruises along the way. One time when Carson was a baby, I decided to attend a birthday swim party during one of the Saturday morning conferences. Everyone said they were taping it and they would let me borrow the tape (obviously before TIVO days). Wouldn't you know that nobody's videos ended up working? I was so upset at myself for putting something frivolous that I could do any other time before listening to what the Lord wants me to hear. I told myself I would never do that again. Then...

Later, when Carson was older and we had Madison and Blake, Carson was playing soccer and luckily for us his game was between conferences. Yeah, we can go. We watched the morning Saturday conference and then headed over to the field. Wouldn't you know that the game was delayed for a whole hour and the silly soccer game was cutting into the afternoon session of conference? We were bummed and vowed we would never do that again.

So what have we learned? This time only comes around twice a year and we need to place greater value on it. We know when conference will be broadcast again from next year to 20 years down the road. It's not like, "Hey, I planned a vacation that weekend. I didn't know." Definitely no surprises. (But why can't I still remember that the 1st Sunday of each month is Fast Sunday? Go figure.) We block out those weekends. They are our "spa" weekends. Of course it's not pedicures, manicures and massages. It's "filling our cup" and "nourishing our souls" with goodies. I know I need this regularly! We've learned that this is the most important thing we could be doing at this time and all the other things can wait for another weekend.

We are bit of Conference Zealots, aren't we? Can't help it. Listening to conference always makes me want to do better and it makes me feel better. It's like I can hang in there for another 6 months, until we hear from our leaders again.

We want to take the children to SLC to experience conference in person when they turned 8. Carson went and LOVED it. His favorite General Authority is still Elder Hales. Maddie and I haven't been able to go yet because I was still nursing Brooke when she turned 8 and then we were planning to go this conference but we couldn't find good airfare. Luckily Maddie is a trooper and is okay waiting until next April. Thanks Maddie!
This year I've learned that you should take a question or two or three... to conference and you'll receive an answer. Kim, my sister, teaches seminary in Seattle and she challenges her students to "take a question to conference" and promises them that they will find their answer. It works every time. My friend, Heidi, called me yesterday and said her mother-in-law writes her questions down in her notebook. Another friend, Robyn, said her seminary teacher writes 10 questions to be answered in conference. Whatever questions you or I need answered, I'm excited to receive answers. I've got a lot of questions such as, "How can I know I'm being the best mother?" "How can I find more balance in my life?" etc. Try it and let me know how it goes for you. I've challenged my husband and children to do this as well. Jamie told the children, "My questions is going to be, 'Where do they purchase their ties?" Jamie!!! (By the way Jamie, it's Mr. Mac, isn't' it?)

Luckily I was able to teach the Primary children the names of the General Authorities just this past week. It's hilarious listening to Garrett sing the song and point out who is who. Do you think listening to this song 100 times has helped him? Check out the catchy tune on youtube.com

I'm blessed with family members and friends who have been marvelous examples to me and influencing me to watch, prepare and enjoy conference. My parents attend almost every conference session at the Conference Center in Salt Lake. I love the phone calls with my sisters, Marcia and Kim, as well as with my mom, Kristin, Heidi, Trista, Rachelle, Noni, Sara... where we talk about our favorite talks and inspirations we've received. It's enriching.

Needless to say, I'm totally psyched and can't wait for the weekend. I'll be posting a post-conference rap up (our quiz game that we play with a bunch of other families - trophy included - following conference). Until then, Happy Conference!!!! (Be sure to check lds.org for more information)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Incessant Asking

Alysa says:

My daughter has been asking me every day, numerous times a day when her birthday is going to be. "Is it the other day?" "Is it tomorrow?" I've been explaining and explaining but today I decided to show her. I did fall colors as her birthday is in October and wrote other important dates on the paper strips (9/11, Opa's birthday, etc). Her birthday paper is a totally different color (blue) from the rest to highlight it.

Besides doing something fun together and teaching her how many days until her birthday, we also discussed and practiced patterning of colors. 

I'm hoping this will help her understand when her birthday is and stop the incessant asking.  Love you Brookie!!! (Please excuse the pjs.)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mermaid Tail Give Away

My cute friend Shawni from 71 toes blog is doing a give-away for three of these adorably fun Mermaid Tails.

To see more tails click on the "finfun" website here. The winners will be able to pick their tails from what is available on the finfun ebay site here (Custom orders and limited edition tails aren't included in this giveaway).

There are three ways to enter to win:
{post edit note: you can do all three of these giving you three different chances to win.)

1) Leave a comment on Shawni's blog here.
2) "Like" Fin Fun Mermaid tails on Facebook (their page is here) (and let them know that atticgals.blogspot.com sent you) and then come back and leave another comment on Shawni's blog
3) Post about this giveaway on your own blog and then leave another comment on Shawni's blog with a link to your post.

Three ways to win three different mermaid tails. What little girl would not want one of these? I'm hoping for one (or two) for my girls. I wish they had these when I was a kid!

Never too soon to start Christmas shopping :)

She will announce the winner on Friday.

I wish all of us luck.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Liking Me These Bookshelves

Came across this tonight from another blog. It's Bunny Williams who is a well-known interior designer. I thought this was a very cool picture of her Design Library. I need a library like this :) Actually, I'm looking to add these types of bookshelves to one of my walls in my family room. It will hold some of my cool decorator pieces, piano music (where does everyone keep all the music), books, etc. I like the height of these. They do have this sort of thing at Ikea but kind of short. I guess I can stack. If you have any other ideas, let me know.

*Just received an email from Bunny Williams' people and they were custom made. Darn.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Partying Japan Style

AtticGal Rachelle says:
My dear sister Lisa celebrated a big milestone birthday this year, and my mom and I wanted to do something extra special to celebrate this extra special birthday, so we decided to throw her a Japanese party. She served a mission in Japan and loves everything Japanese, especially the food, so that is what we decided to do.

Man, I love to throw a party!

It turned out to be a terrific theme. And the COLORS!!!

We found some absolutely gorgeous Japanese printed papers at Cost Plus, and used them not only for the color scheme, but just about everywhere, like in this just too cute banner. Mom cut the kanji and Japanese dolls out with her Cricut.

We just laid the various sheets of papers on the tables, wrapped some around glass vases, and used the Big Shot to die cut butterflies out of the paper that we just stuck everywhere!

The papers were really amazing and inspiring! we just kept thinking, "What else can we do with this paper?" We didn't want to waste a scrap!

My boys also made a blossoming cherry branch for the centerpiece using a branch they found and light and dark pink tissue paper.

But the show-stopper was the delightful cupcake stand!!!

I was SO thrilled with how these turned out!!! Look at the colors!!!

I know - TOTALLY over the top!!!!!

They were cherry buttermilk cupcakes, frosted in three different colors. I found the extra large Japanese paper cupcake liners at a garage sale (of course) and they were absolutely perfect! Couldn't have been better if I had spent days searching online.

I topped each one with colorful flower sprinkles, a paper umbrella, and a tiny paper crane. I must have folded a hundred of them! I could fold a paper crane in my sleep, I think.

I also made mochi, which is a sticky rice candy. Really yummy. I bought the ones in the red wrappers at Cost Plus, because they have a sweet bean curd inside.

We also left stacks of origami paper on the table and directions for making paper cranes so everyone could try their hand at paper folding. The kids really loved this.

I had paper cranes everywhere! They are meant to bring good luck.

We even wrapped the chopsticks in tiny scraps of the pretty Japanese paper.

We also had Japanese wheat tea and cucumber water.

And fun Japanese snacks like Samurai peanuts, rice crackers, and Lisa's favorite - wasabi peas. Why do the Japanese have such great snack food?

But the highlight of the party was certainly the build-your-own-sushi bar. I provided the seaweed, sticky sushi rice, seafood, avocados, cucumbers, and carrots, as well as the soy sauce, ginger and wasabi, of course, and everybody just had at it.

It was a huge hit!

And the chopsticks came in handy to eat it.

I also made a yummy miso soup and guests could add their own mushrooms, green onions, tofu, and fish flakes.

And my dad finished off the Japanese feast with his world famous, falling of the bone, sweet as candy, teriyaki wings on rice.

It got even prettier as the sun went down and we lit the paper lanterns and votives.

It was a lovely evening with great food and great conversation. I loved doing it! Most importantly, my sister really enjoyed herself and she deserved it!

Everything turned out perfectly! I was thrilled! I think Lisa was too. No wonder she loves Japan so much - there is so much about Japan to love!

The Shabby Nest