Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Home, Part 2 & Caramel Apple Yumminess

I finally took some photos of the kids' bathroom this afternoon. We have had the cutest "ducky" bathroom since Sam was born and with the kids getting older, we decided they had outgrown duckies. I was puttering around Target one day while we were still living in TLF on base waiting to move into our house and I found this awesome canvas of the United States made from license plates. After all the travel we had done this summer, the kids LOVED it when I brought it home. Then, it was Tony's idea to dig out all of our saved license plates from our 13 years of Air Force moves and use them to decorate the rest of the walls. With a little help from Joan and Megan (we somehow lost our Utah plate from the Civic and we never actually had a car registered in Alaska), we have plates from every state we have lived, and two each of Washington and Nebraska because we lived there twice. I think it is a cool reminder of the adventures our family has had! The "detour" sign pointing to the potty is my personal contribution...

Last night, we had a family from our ward over for FHE and we used them as guinea pigs for a new recipe I found. Apples? Caramel? Cake? Pure yumminess.

Moist Caramel Apple Cake

1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 pkg. french vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup water
4 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 medium granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 bag of caramels
3 Tbsp. milk

Grease and flour bundt pan. Beat cake mix, pudding mix, water, eggs and oil in a large bowl until blended (I used my KitchenAid). Gently stir in apples by hand. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour at 350 degrees or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 20 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely. Microwave caramels and milk for 90 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds until blended. Cool until starting to set and drizzle over cake.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Place of Her Own

I have the most enjoyable, least employable degree in the world. Art history. And in order to graduate with a BA in art history, you have to take "Art Technique for Dummies" which turned out to be a comedy of errors because art historians tend to be more academic than artistic. A real art teacher helped us do all sorts of artistic styles: watercolor, tempera, wood blocking, lithographs. He even had us do etching (although whatever possessed him to allow art historians anywhere near a vat of acid is beyond me). While we were waiting our turn to put our plates into the acid bath, we were looking through a bunch of plates that were still in the studio. One of them was by James C. Christensen who used to teach at BYU and who still had plates in the studio.

They were amazing. Detailed. Beautiful.And because they were etching plates, completed in mirror image of the final piece. That's when I fell in love with James C. Christensen. A couple of years ago, Tony found a canvas of Christensen's The Responsible Woman for Mother's Day and I think I cried for a week.

Fast forward to this past July. We were getting packed up to leave Utah the next morning. Out of the blue my mom calls from Spanish Fork and tells me I need to come meet her in American Fork because she has something for me. When we met up, she handed me a rolled up print. When I opened it, it was a signed James Christensen print of A Place of Her Own. AMAZING. When I got it back to Sandy, I showed Tony and the first thing he said was, "Amber, that is YOU". A woman in comfy clothes and messy hair surrounded by stacks of books. I am a lover of books. I don't remember a time when I didn't love books. I love the smell and feel of books. I love having a stack of books waiting to be read in the basket by my bed. I even read all assigned books in high school (except I didn't finish Moby Dick or Grapes of Wrath which still haunts me to this day). I even loved reading my big, beautiful art history books in college. So this is the perfect union of the art lover and the book lover in me. In one print.

And I picked it up from the framers today. Thank you, mom! I love it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Here's What's Cookin'" Visiting Teaching Gifts

New ward, new visiting teaching companion and new sisters to visit! August is typically a challenge for me as far as visiting teaching gifts, but since the route is a new one, we really just needed to introduce ourselves. I found the cutest rooster recipe cards and coordinating blue measuring spoons at Michaels in their dollar bins and I attached a tag with our info on it with twine, and we're GTG (Lena speak for "good to go"). :-)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dreamy S'more Pie & Kissing Up

While we were at my sister April's house in Utah for baby Rock's blessing this Summer, my other sister Megan was there visiting from Boise. She is a dietitian and a fabulous recipe finder. She had made this pie for dinner the night before and told me to try a bite. A bite, my heck!! I snarfed down what was left of the pie standing by the fridge right OUT OF THE PIE PAN. So I made it for my family tonight. But don't make it on a Sunday you are fasting. Just a suggestion. It is a little like Chinese water torture.

Dreamy S'mores Pie

8 oz cream cheese at room
1 1/4 cup chilled whipping cream
13 oz jar Nutella/chocolate hazelnut cream
Ready made graham cracker crust
3-4 cups mini marshmallows

In a medium bowl, with electric mixer, beat cream cheese till creamy. Add whipping cream to the cream cheese and beat on high till mixture is thick, then reduce speed to low and beat in Nutella, just until the mixture is incorporated together. Pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust. Place the mini marshmallows over the top of the pie, making sure they are close together and all the chocolate mixture is covered up. Pre-heat broiler with the oven rack on the second slot from the top. Place the pie under the broiler and broil till the marshmallows are golden brown. DO NOT TAKE YOUR EYES OFF THE PIE AS IT BROWNS, BECAUSE THE MARSHMALLOWS WILL BROWN IN LESS THAN 2 MINUTES. Turn the pie around in order to brown it evenly, if necessary. Refrigerate pie for 3 hours, before serving.

Tomorrow is the first day of school for the big kids. I have to admit that I'm freakin' out a bit. We are still getting used to the area and they will be attending different elementary schools. Having them both away from me all day, in a new place and having them in DIFFERENT places is really throwing me for a loop. I'll be wringing my hands and pacing the floor tomorrow until they get off their buses after school. But with these little gifts and homemade tags (Martha Stewart apple punch and ABC border punch) at least I'm be sending a clear message to their teachers: "Here is a teacher's gift celebrating the first day of school. Be nice to my kid, and there's more where this comes from. Be mean to them and I'll beat you up."

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Our New Home, Part I

I just wanted to share a couple photos of our new home. This is the family room...the big room you see as you walk in the front door. I filled the entertainment center with our books this move...we've pared down so much and wanted to keep it simple. And we have a lot of books. We added my kids' Willow Tree collection, some of our "m"s and all the kids' baby pictures.
I LOVE, love the mantle! I've been drooling over a Pottery Barn version of this flag for 2 years, but I didn't love the proportions. So I recreated it with $15 of wood, paint and electric sander.

This is the view from the family room into the dining area with the back door, kitchen to the right and the doorway to the kids' wing.
This is the looking into the kitchen. The doorway beyond leads to the pantry, laundry room, little office area and the garage. The stairway to the right in the picture goes to the bonus room above the garage...my favorite place in the whole house.
When you walk in the front door, there is an alcove on the right that they call "the game room." We put our smaller two leather pieces in there with our Turkish rug.

To the left of the family room is the Master wing...it is HUGE! Our bed is on one side and our leather couch is on the left with a reading nook for me. Then further left is the master bath.

It feels so good to be moved in. And we have the kids all ready for school, which starts Monday. What a crazy summer! More to come...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Wal-Mart Pool: A True Story

You know, my life is one great adventure after another. Some are hilarious to me. Some are just hilarious to other people. Case in point.

We're moved in and the mover guys came to pick up the boxes this morning. And the kids are going bonkers. They're used to playing outside and the close quarters inside and the HOT Alabama heat has turned them into crazy kids. So yesterday we went to Wal-Mart and bought a plastic pool so I could squirt the kids down with sunblock and send them outside for a while. We got a pool picked out (the deluxe $30 version, which we'll get to in a minute) and wedged the pool into the bed of the Tony's truck. I even bought a case of water to put on top of the pool so it wouldn't fly out. We only live about 2 miles from Wal-Mart so I very slowly headed for home. Just as we pulled out of the parking lot, torrential Alabama downpour, complete with thunder and lightening and winds. I slowed way down and double gripped the steering wheel all the way home. Just as we pulled into the driveway, a huge thunder boomed right above our house. The big kids just ran through the rain to the garage but Josh freaked out. So I grabbed him and we made a rush for the garage. Of course, he is sobbing and as my wet flip-flops hit the cement in the garage, I slipped and as I fell I turned so Josh landed on me and I landed flat on my elbow. I was shaken up a bit and now all THREE kids are crying because they figured I'd killed myself for sure this time.

Fast forward about 3 hours when the rain had stopped and I went to go get the pool out of the back of the truck. Opened the tailgate and grabbed the edge of the pool and pulled...and about 20 gallons of water come sloshing down my front. BEYOND frustrated, I shoved the damn pool into the garage.

This morning, Sam and I got the pool to set up in the backyard for after lunch. The thing came with instructions. That got soaked in the rain yesterday. So we spent 30 minutes pulling the instructions apart carefully and then another 30 minutes putting the damn pool together.

Exhibit One: The Bruise.

Doesn't look very bad in the picture, but my entire elbow is ugly green and brown and hurts like heck.

Exhibit Two: The Damn Pool.

The End.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Roll Tide

Can't wait for Fall football. Not sure whether I'm a Bama fan or an Auburn fan yet. Just like sayin' Roll Tide.

Monday, August 1, 2011


We are up to our noses in boxes and are almost moved into our new house. But we're staying in base TLF until the new house is unpacked enough for it to be habitable.

Okay, lets be honest. The reason we are still in TLF is that it has cable and our cable doesn't get hooked up until Wednesday.

And it's Shark Week.