Friday, October 30, 2009

My Favorite Song Ever

Sillouette artist Wilhelm Staehle is my new hero. The End.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dining Room Chairs (My birthday present)

I love my new dining room chairs! The chairs that we were using were dining hazards! My son went to sit down and the chair nearly fell over. Perfect Timing! (He was fine and I wanted new ones) I saw these chairs in a furniture store, and they were 50% off. I went back to "visit" them a few weeks later and there they were still sitting there. Sooo I asked the salesman if he would consider marking them down since they were just sitting there. He said that 50% off is the best that they could do. Undeterred I went home and asked my husband to make a call. (We had just purchased a new bedroom suite there and I was hoping that the salesman would remember him.) Sure enough they gave my husband the deal of the century. I went to pick them up right away so they couldn't change their minds!! I love a bargain, AND it was my birthday!!

They look so pretty against the rugged table that I LOVE. Oh and the rug came from my least favorite store of all time. Yes, the Wal-Mart. WHAT? I went in for who-knows-what and came out with a dining room rug! There it was all rolled up between some tires and shampoo. Who designed that store anyway? I don't see any pattern to it. Deodorant is right between light bulbs and garden hoses. I just don't get it. BUT I found a really cute rug and that is all that matters!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Challah is pronounced Hallah with a throat-clearing ccccc sound in the front of it. CCCCChallah. You can drop the throat clearing cccccsound in the beginning and call it Hallah if you would like. However it is not pronounced CH-allah. You can call it egg bread if you find that easier. But if you see it on a menu or in a deli it would be nice to be able to pronounce it like a New Yorker!

We hosted my son's Bar Mitzvah at the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch in Littleton, Colorado. It was spectacular. You need to visit when you come to Colorado, for a true Dude Ranch Colorado Feel. They don't have very many Bar Mitzvahs in these parts! On the list of the events was "Holla Cutting Ceremony" I thought it was very cute. All I could think of was "Halla!"

It is a beautiful braided bread that is pretty easy to make, the kids love to help AND it looks like a million bucks!
Once again the best recipe can be found on the Smitten Kitchen website here:
Best Challah (Egg Bread)
Adapted from Joan Nathan

The secrets to good challah are simple: Use two coats of egg wash to get that laquer-like crust and don’t overbake it. Joan Nathan, who this recipe is adapted from, adds that three risings always makes for the tastiest loaves, even better if one of them is slowed down in the fridge.

Time: about 1 hour, plus 2 1/2 hours’ rising
Yield: 2 loaves

1 1/2 packages active dry yeast (1 1/2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon salt
8 to 8 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins per challah, if using, plumped in hot water and drained
Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling.

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water.

2. Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading. (You can also use a mixer with a dough hook for both mixing and kneading, but be careful if using a standard size KitchenAid–it’s a bit much for it, though it can be done.)

3. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. Dough may also rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off. Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.

4. At this point, you can knead the raisins into the challah, if you’re using them, before forming the loaves. To make a 6-braid challah, either straight or circular, take half the dough and form it into 6 balls. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Place the 6 in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together. Move the outside right strand over 2 strands. Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2. Move second strand from the right over to the far left. Start over with the outside right strand. Continue this until all strands are braided. For a straight loaf, tuck ends underneath. For a circular loaf, twist into a circle, pinching ends together. Make a second loaf the same way. Place braided loaves on a greased cookie sheet with at least 2 inches in between.

5. Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaves. Either freeze breads or let rise another hour.

6. If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves again. Sprinkle bread with seeds, if using. If freezing, remove from freezer 5 hours before baking.

7. Bake in middle of oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. (If you have an instant read thermometer, you can take it out when it hits an internal temperature of 190 degrees.) Cool loaves on a rack.

Note: Any of the three risings can be done in the fridge for a few hours, for more deeply-developed flavor. When you’re ready to work with it again, bring it back to room temperature before moving onto the next step.


DIY Caramel Macciato

Stay home and save your $4.00 for something more important! I love Starbucks, don't get me wrong, but who wants to drive in the snow for a coffee, when you can make one at home? (NOT ME!)
Here is the deal. I made this recipe 3 times before I got it right. (Something about not reading the directions carefully.) Sooo...I will break it down for you here. (This recipe can be found on page 87 in the October Rachel Magazine. That sounded a bit like church there. Turn to page 87 that's 8....7)
Moving on

{For the Caramel Sauce}
In a heavy bottom saucepan combine 1 cup of sugar with 1/3 cup of water and stir until sugar is dissolved about 2 minutes. Increase the heat to high and cook for 5 minutes until you get a nice medium dark color. Take off the heat and add 1/3 cup heavy cream 2 TABLESPOONS AT A TIME! This is important or it will splatter and burn you! Be very careful and I don't care how good it looks, if you touch it You Will Be Sorry. Turn the heat back down and stir until incorporated. About 3 minutes will do it. It is like hot lava at this point!! Let it cool.

Now AFTER it is cooled off you can add hot water a little at a time for a thinner sauce. I put mine in a Wilton Squirt Bottle (from the Wilton dept. at Michaels) so I can use it more easily.

YES you can cheat and buy the caramel in the store, but that would be too easy.

You can use strong coffee or espresso for this drink. If you don't have an espresso machine, just warm 2 cups of milk in a glass container in the microwave until bubbles start to form on the edges. Whisk a little to get some foam going and pour into a mug. Then add strong coffee, or espresso and then the caramel sauce on top! Yummy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

I was given many things this year. But I would have to say the best gift that I was given is the realization that every year is a gift. I said goodby to a friend right before she left this earth. It was a pivotal point in my life. She was a young mother who left behind two little babies, and a teenage son. She lived so well up to the very end. Only she knows now why she was chosen to move on. I will never say that cancer took her. I give the power to give and take to God only. I would never want to give "cancer" that much power. All I know is that nobody gets to choose how life goes from day to day. Each year is a blessing, we should treat it as an important one.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Salted Caramel Chex Mix

{Salted Caramel Chex Mix}

1 cup butter

2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup corn syrup

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp real vanilla

6 quarts popped popcorn
3 cups Wheat Chex
3 cups Corn Chex
2 cups Craisins
1 cup honey roasted peanuts

Sprinkle of sea salt

Pop your popcorn, mix with ceareals, pretzles, craisins and peanuts, and set aside. Melt butter in heavy bottom pot add sugar syrup and salt. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Boil without stirring for 5 minutes on medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla then stir in baking soda. The mixture will foam up so be careful. Butter a large roaster or two cookie sheets. Mix caramel with dry mixture until popcorn in coated with caramel mixture in pan. Sprinkle with sea salt. Place in middle of oven and bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour mixing every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

MMmmmm Doughnuts....

Yesterday was a very snowy day here in Denver, what a perfect time to make doughnuts. I don't think I've actually eaten a doughnut in about 15 years. (I ate one (or a dozen) too many while I was pregnant, and I haven't been able to look at one since. Until yesterday that is. I was reading the SmittenKitchen blog and they looked so delicious I thought I should give it a try. I was on my way to the "Once in a Lifetime, Lowest Prices of the Century Sale!" at Kohls. (they have that same sale every week. You know everything there goes 80% off at some point.) I wanted a Fry Daddy right this minute!! My next door neighbor Missy intervened and let me borrow hers. She warned me about my house smelling like Burger King, but I had doughnuts on the brain.
Well the recipe is easy to follow, but you need to give yourself plenty of time.

Apple Cider Doughnuts
Adapted from Lauren Dawson at Hearth Restaurant

Makes 18 doughnuts + 18 doughnut holes (suggested yield for a 3-inch cutter; my larger one yielded fewer)

Most apple cider doughnuts, despite their name, are kind of a bummer because they don’t taste very apple-y. One of the many things that appealed to me about this recipe was the way the apple cider was reduced and concentrated to hopefully give it more presence. And despite the fact that these are cake doughnuts, which have always played second fiddle to yeast doughnuts in my experience (likely because cake are more likely to get stale sooner, or you know, by the time you buy them), I think this is all the more reason to make them at home.

Personally, I don’t think a sweetened doughnut needs any kind of topping, but I went with a cinnamon-sugar coating anyway. Hearth dips theirs in an apple cider glaze, and serves them with applesauce and barely-sweetened whipped cream. We had ours with a dark beer.

1 cup apple cider
3 1/2 cups flour, plus additional for the work surface
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
Vegetable oil or shortening (see my explanation in the post) for frying

Toppings (optional)
Glaze (1 cup confectioners’ sugar + 2 tablespoons apple cider)
Cinnamon sugar (1 cup granulated sugar + 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon)

Make the doughnuts: In a saucepan over medium or medium-low heat, gently reduce the apple cider to about 1/4 cup, 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed (with the paddle attachment, if using a standing mixer) beat the butter and granulated sugar until the mixture is smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat until the eggs are completely incorporated. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the reduced apple cider and the buttermilk, mixing just until combined. Add the flour mixture and continue to mix just until the dough comes together.

Line two baking sheets with parchment or wax paper and sprinkle them generously with flour. Turn the dough onto one of the sheets and sprinkle the top with flour. Flatten the dough with your hands until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Use more flour if the dough is still wet. Transfer the dough to the freezer until it is slightly hardened, about 20 minutes. Pull the dough out of the freezer. Using a 3-inch or 3 1/2-inch doughnut cutter — or a 3 1/2-inch round cutter for the outer shape and a 1-inch round cutter for the hole from a set like this, as I did — cut out doughnut shapes. Place the cut doughnuts and doughnut holes onto the second sheet pan. Refrigerate the doughnuts for 20 to 30 minutes. (You may re-roll the scraps of dough, refrigerate them briefly and cut additional doughnuts from the dough.)

Add enough oil or shortening to a deep-sided pan to measure a depth of about 3 inches. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and heat over medium heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees. Have ready a plate lined with several thicknesses of paper towels.

Make your toppings (if using): While the cut doughnut shapes are in the refrigerator, make the glaze by whisking together the confectioners’ sugar and the cider until the mixture is smooth; make the cinnamon sugar by mixing the two together. Set aside.

Fry and top the doughnuts: Carefully add a few doughnuts to the oil, being careful not to crowd the pan, and fry until golden brown, about 60 seconds. Turn the doughnuts over and fry until the other side is golden, 30 to 60 seconds. Drain on paper towels for a minute after the doughnuts are fried. Dip the top of the warm doughnuts into the glaze or cinnamon sugar mixture (if using) and serve immediately.

Yummmmm! Well I ate one doughnut and it was enough for the next 15 years. See you then! And yes the house has the familiar fry-cook stench to it, but we're fat and happy.

Before and After Kitchen

Lighter and Brighter Works for Me!

Much Better! Notice the hanging light from yesterday's post, and the chair is from the dining chair re-do.

Monday, October 19, 2009

DIY Horchow Look Alike!

This is the dining room light fixture that I wanted, but I didn't want the $395.00 price tag. So I did what every smart girls does and drove to Target to knock one off!
I saw this DIY somewhere online, but I haven't been able to find it. I google searched every way I could figure it, and then just decided to wing it.
Here is what I used. ****Update!*****A commenter let me know that the original post can be found here:

I used a globe lamp from Target similar to this one. It comes in two sizes and I bought the larger one for $39.00.

Now you need to take it apart. My next-door-neighbor had to take a hacksaw to it. I didn't use the cord so it didn't matter if it was cut apart. You will just need the acrylic globes and the base. Don't worry it isn't to hard to put back together.

I used the lamp parts from the original hanging light that I had here.

Turn OFF the power to the light and take it completely off. I removed the chain so all that was remaining was the cord and the socket that the light bulb fits into. Then I strung the cords through a 1/8" threaded pipe. Yes it took an hour and my fingers were ready to fall off!
Then slide the acrylic globes on with the silver spacers in between. They fit easily over the pipe. Next screw on a nut about a third of the way down the pipe, (this will hold the cover over the opening) then slide the round acrylic base, then the round cover that covers up all of the ugly wires in the ceiling. Now you can re-wire it yourself(easy) or ask someone who is more comfortable. Holding your arms above your head gets a little tiring! Once it is wired, slide the ceiling cover flush with the top, slide the acrylic cover over it and re-screw the nut tight to the top.
Now you can CAREFULLY touch up the paint.
This is the finished product.

I love it!!
By the way look what I found under the table AFTER all was said and done.

I rewired that lamp 96 Million times and there is no way I was going to do it again! So give me a snowy day and some iced tea, and I'll think about taking it all back apart. (don't hold your breath!)

Movie Night

Last night we had family movie night. Since it's October I wanted to watch "Sleepy Hollow", then when I got to the video store (it is still hanging in there!) I realized it was rated R. My boys are old enough to see scary movies, but I wasn't sure how "scary" or "gory" it was to warrant the R rating. Last month we watched "Footloose" and my 13 year old had Fundamentalist Christian nightmares for a week! (I'm not kidding) So I wasn't sure how headless that horseman might be I decided to skip it.

I love, love, loved Escape to Witch Mountain as a kid! I couldn't believe they wanted to escape those rooms with a built in soda fountain and a carousel! Come on I would have stayed for a month or so before planning my escape. What kind of kids were those? So I picked up the remake with the Rock. The movie wasn't very good, but there were enough car crashes and explosions to make the boys tolerate it. They humour me!! Sometimes that's all I ask.

We had bison mini-burgers, pigs in a blanket, and tons of movie candy to choose from so everyone was happy.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

He Said What?

The other day my younger son was creating my Wii person. Blond hair, blue eyes, on and on, then I hear him ask my adorable husband, "Dad, if you could sum up mom in one word what would it be?" My ears perked right up. I was waiting for the answer, thinking about all of the wonderfulness that I am. How is he going to choose....I can't wait! It isn't everyday that you get to hear a candid answer between father and son.....And so he said it. The one word that sums me up.


Wait what?! That's weird, it sounded like he said clumsy... So I come strolling around the corner and say, Name one thing that made clumsy come to mind, of all things!! He sweetly says, honey you fell down in the front yard yesterday, and you crashed down the stairs twice in the past six months (but I didn't spill one drop of the latte I was carrying!)AND you have a slight dropping problem. That is just rude. But true. Once I began to slip down the airplane stairs in freezing rain in Denver, basically did the splits, tore the knee of my favorite jeans on the way down, and my two boys stepped over me and acted like they didn't know me. I gave birth to them. One of them was almost 9 pounds... ingrates!

OOpsie....Well then there was this (dropped it the first time I used it-not fixable)

Right between the fingers! This was an unfortunate event of late.

Dang it!

Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings

October is National Breast Health Month, so I thought I would tell you about my friend Ellen and her amazing book Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings. In her words, "The text of this book was originally written as a gift for my cousin Nanci Hersh, an award winning artist, to help her find the right words to tell her 3 year old and 5 year old boys about her cancer. Several years after her successful fight with cancer, and some gentle nudging on my part, Nanci agreed to illustrate the text I had written for her boys.
As you will discover, several of Nanci's exquisite drawings capture the reality of cancer in ways children can easily comprehend. There are also many other illustrations that suggest ways in which a child can help someone who has cancer and, in the process, empower the child. Once our endeavor was completed, we realized that Butterfly Kisses and Wishes on Wings was much more than a storybook. It had evolved into a resource that could be given as a gift and used to educate and support many other children who are facing the cancer of a loved one."
Ellen is a dear friend of mine who wrote the book a few years ago. Little did we know at the time that we would struggle with our own dear friend Crystal that was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer this past November, and passed away in April of this year. During the four months that Crystal was fighting Ellen guided her through the process by helping write journals to the three children and husband that would be here to live without her physical presence. The journals that she left behind are the most amazing gift to all of her family. Ellen was there to drive to appointments, cook dinners, and be a shoulder to cry on. She is an amazing person that really has an amazing capacity to love.
You can read about Crystal's life here.

It is an amazing book, and I have one to give away, just leave me a comment, and I will pick a random comment to receive a signed book from Ellen. Not only can this book be helpful to you or a loved one. It can also be helpful donated to a library or cancer center.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Flu Season Helper

The best thing you can do during Flu Season is Wash Your Hands! However, you can wash them all you want, if the kids aren't washing theirs too, you can forget it! I know it isn't environmentally friendly, but I use paper towels in the main floor powder bath that everyone uses. That way all of the germs end up in the garbage and not shared on a hand towel. My friend Krista gave me this hot tip. (She let's us staycation at her house WITH our sheepdog! Now that is a true friend!! Love her!) Krista told me to get this soap from Bath and Body Works. It is Eucalyptus Spearmint in the Aromatherapy Line. It has a very lovely but strong scent, so you know right away if the kids have washed their hands WITH soap, and not the running water trick!! Great hint Krista!! (Her husband is a coach too, so they have little boy hands all over!!)
Go to for more tips

Goodwill Glamour!


When you go into the Goodwill looking for a Halloween costume for your son you come out with stuff that has nothing to do with him, but lots of fun stuff to make over. (And the desire to Purell yourself from head to toe.)
I found a $3.00 lazy susan. I couldn't find a large rectangular one anywhere, and one shows up at the Goodwill. Spray paint that baby black.
Goodwill Glamour for $3.00. Can't beat that.

Easy Fall Dinners You CAN Make Yourself

Roasting chickens look hard, but really it is pretty easy. Rotisserie chickens are so inexpensive and easy, I usually pick up two or three in the beginning of the week, but this week I decided to try it myself. It was easy! Since you've decided to roast one you might as well roast two while you're at it. I stuffed each one with a lemon, half of a white onion, a half of a fennel bulb, and a huge bunch of parsley. You have to really cram it in there! A little yucky I know! Roast together at 400 degrees for about an hour and a half and then check to see that the internal temp is 160. Let them rest awhile before you cut into them. The first night we just ate the chicken sliced up with mashed potatoes and the pan gravy. I put the roasting pan directly on the stove, sprinkled with 2 tablespoons of flour, then added chicken stock and a splash of cream. The gravy was the best ever!
My mashed potatoes are really a combination of cauliflower and potatoes. It increases the nutritional value and no one knows but me. NONE of the boys would EVER eat cauliflower knowingly.
Personal chicken pot pies. I cubed some of the chicken, used the rest of the gravy, threw in some frozen veggies, sauteed some extra baby carrots and celery. (Do you notice a slight orange tint? I threw some pureed pumpkin that I had in the fridge) It was delicious!! Put on pre-made pie crusts and baked at 375 for 30 minutes. EASY. You could also top with leftover "mashed potatoes" instead of the pie crust, for another easy dinner.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Easy Pumpkin Brownie Mini Bites

These are two ingredient brownies. I box of Brownie Mix, and one 15 ounce can of Pumpkin Puree. That's it. Stir them together, and don't add a thing. It doesn't quite look like its going to work and then magically it all comes together. I threw in some chocolate chips too, just to be safe. I used a mini scoop to put the batter into a mini muffin tin. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Don't overbake or they will dry out. This recipe makes 48 brownie bites. Great snack, sort of healthy, but really delicious too. Don't tell the kids about the pumpkin, I'm warning you ahead of time!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Gorsuch Re-do

Don't you love it when you can shop in your own closet and make something old feel new again? Me too! I love this outfit from Gorsuch, but I don't love the $3,000.00 price tag!

So I went shopping in my closet and put something together with things that I already had.
Remember when I said that I was looking for Javalogs at Wal-Mart and couldn't find any? Well I found these jeans and belt for $17.00. Pretty good!


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Latte

My sweet, adorable, kind, loving, civic minded, and extremely generous friend Lisa (not to be confused with my sweet cousin Lisa) and her husband (equally lovable) Roger gave me this amazing espresso machine for my birthday. I use it almost everyday. (but had to switch to decaf...dang it)

I made a label for my to-go cup to match yesterday's blog entry. I like to coordinate, and to make labels.

Since it is October ( I got the month right!) and it is important to do everything pumpkin. I decided to make a Pumpkin Spice Latte. Yummmm.

Use your choice of milk and add 2 tablespoons of Tazo Chai concentrate and 1 1/2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk. Steam them all together. You can add more or less chai concentrate or sweetened condensed milk, but I like just a hint of flavor.
AHHHHhhhhhhh espresso. This is my Anthropologie mini espresso bowl in orange. I love it!

Grate some fresh nutmeg on top, or sprinkle a little pumpkin spice or both. (go crazy it's snowing outside.

No it doesn't actually have pumpkin in it, and I guess you could throw some in, but the thought of drinking a chunk of pumpkin accidentally completely scares me to death. Icccckkk! Love to eat pumpkin--do not want to drink it. If you don't have an espresso machine just throw some into your regular coffee! Enjoy.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Light Reading

My dad used to read to us before bed when we were little. This was his job when my mom went out somewhere. His favorite things to read to us were The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, and ghost stories from the Ozarks that were compiled by some historian. This made for a pleasant bed time of crying, nightmares, and some added chasing down the long dark hallway playing monster. Thanks Dad! (and you wonder why I'm afraid of ghosts still to this day)
That is why I don't like Halloween decorations. I don't find graveyards festive. No thanks. We wouldn't even go into my uncle's back room. Everyone knows it was haunted. Please. (Just ask Lisa.) Who wants to invite that craziness inside of your own home! Come on! Give me some festive pumpkins, gourds, Happy Harvest, but keep the gore to yourself, thank you very much.