Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Picture Day Fashionista

Today is picture day at Alyssa's school. I set her out a nice outfit to wear. I guess she decided she didn't like the dark brown pants I'd chosen and picked a pair of her favorites instead.

I like to give her a fair amount of autonomy when it comes to dressing herself, but this was enough to bring out the parental veto.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Watch Out, Einstein Brothers!

It's not my intention to turn this into a cooking blog - honest! But lately I've been experimenting in the kitchen, and it's where the excitement in our lives is coming from lately. (That, and the IRS asking for medical expense documentation, but that's not really fun excitement.)

I promise to have some good, non-kitchen posts later this week.

But, in the meantime - bagels!

We've been going through bagels at an alarming rate around here, serving them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so I thought I'd try my hand at making them myself.

As I began Googling recipes, Kara told me that I needed to make sure and include the words "best" or "incredible" in my search terms, as that turns up superior recipes. Yeah, okay. I opted for "awesome," and came up with the recipe found here.

The trickiest part of making the bagels was getting them round and smooth. The recipe said to roll the dough into a log, and then join the ends together. After doing two bagels like that, I could see this approach wasn't going to work for me, and started just punching holes in the middle of a dough disk.

Bagels are boiled and then baked. They spent only about a minute in the water before moving to the baking sheet.

As you can see, one of the bagels made with the "roll a log and then stick the ends together" tactic failed to keep it together.

They don't look like store-bought bagels - they are very uneven on the outside - but inside they are the same fluffy, doughy goodness we've come to love.

Next time, I may just tray making asiago cheese bagels. Mmm - now that's good stuff.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pizza Night With A Twist

Well, pizza night with a fold, actually.

Last week I decided to do something different for our Friday night feast, and made calzones instead of pizza. I started by making the regular pizza dough, then divided it into two, rolled it out, and covered half of the dough with a mixture of ham, cheese, and sausage.

Then I folded over the dough and sealed the edges. I wanted to make sure nothing leaked out the edges, so kind of went a little overboard with the thickness of the seam. Next time I'll spread the filling closer to the edge.

Baked up to perfection - yum. Probably 25 minutes - I forget exactly.

Then I cut the calzones and served with a pizza dipping sauce (one can of tomato sauce and about a half tablespoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, basil, and oregano).

And root beer, of course. Friday night is also soda night at our house.

I took the second calzone and popped it in the freezer, along with the left-over sauce. Now we have an emergency freezer meal. Woohoo!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Spirit Day at the Middle School

Today Anna dressed up for Spirit Day at the middle school, which is the only time she will wear orange.

I guess the reason it's Spirit Day is that school gets out at noon, and the teacher's are celebrating.

While waiting at the bus stop with Anna, I mentioned that the peace and quiet of my afternoon would be ruined by both girls coming home early.

In true Anna fashion, she said, "It's your own fault, you know. If you didn't make us go to school, you wouldn't have to worry about having any peace and quite to shatter."

Too true. Boarding school, anyone?

Audio Book Give*A*Way

I'm having an audio book Give*A*Way on my writing blog. You can see the post here.

I am giving away two audio books. One is Sandcastles by Luanne Rice, and the other is At the Water's Edge by the lovely and talented Annette Lyon, author, word nerd, and friend of the blog.

Go on over and enter - you'll be glad you did!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Alyssa Jumps and Eats an Odd Snack

Alyssa has been trying to jump for years, but she's never quite made it off of the ground. They've worked on this with her in physical and occupational therapy, but she just hasn't had the leg strength. She'd bend her knees and spring up, but her feet never left the ground.

Earlier this year, she began jumping in the pool whenever we went swimming. It was her thing to do, and she did it a lot.

Then today, she called us excitedly to come watch her. Lo and behold, Alyssa can finally jump.

Maybe it was the high-powered snack she had me make this afternoon that finally allowed her to catch some air.

Yes, that's pickles and whipped cream. No, I didn't try it to see how it tasted. Yes, she ate it all.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Swirly Cookies and a Pizza Surprise

I like making cookies for the girls to take in their lunches, and yesterday I decided to be a little bit creative and try my hand at chocolate swirl sugar cookies.

I started by making a double batch of sugar cookie dough. I took half of the dough out of the mixer and added cocoa to the remaining half.

I then rolled out the dough on the counter. I should have rolled it out onto parchment paper or plastic wrap, but that was one of the lessons learned.

If I had rolled the dough onto a movable surface, stacking the two rectangles of dough would have been a snap. But as it was, I had to cut the chocolate dough into squares and place it piece by piece on the white dough.

I then rolled the dough into a log or snake or worm or whatever you want to call it. This task would have also been easier if the dough were on plastic wrap, but I made it work.

After a few hours in the fridge, the dough was firm enough to cut into cookie sized slices. It had flattened under its own weight, but I have no problem with ovaloid cookies. We're easy around here.

Mmmm. The finished project. Chocolaty, but not too much so.

Then, since the creative juices were already flowing, I decided to do a stuffed crust on our pizza. That turned out really nice, too.

What fun things have you been doing in the kitchen?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

And the Rain Rain Rain Came Down Down Down

Growing up in La'ie, it was not uncommon to have day after day of constant rain - that's just the way it goes.

But I never saw that kind of rain in Utah, and here in Texas it's still pretty rare.

However, that's what the weather has been like for the last couple of days - rain, without a hint of sunshine. Makes me homesick.

The constant, heavy rain made for a very interesting day out running errands yesterday - especially since Alyssa needed new Sunday shoes, so I had her with me for most of my stops. Getting her in and out of the truck, I pretty much had to abandon all hope of staying dry. Fortunately, it's still a fairly warm rain, so it wasn't too bad.

In other news from the week, Anna had her first Young Women's meeting on Wednesday, and she really seemed to enjoy it. She's one of only two Beehives in the ward until December when her friend Claire turns twelve.

I got my book all polished up and ready for the next round of submissions. One publisher wanted the whole manuscript via e-mail, one wanted the first few chapters via snail mail, and one wanted a paper copy of the whole book. Unfortunately, the Post Office is now closed on Saturday, and the automatic postage machine doesn't provide the Media Mail option, and that's the only cost-effective way to send a 3.5 lb book. So that package will have to wait until tomorrow.

With my romantic LDS fiction title out on submission, I'm now ready to turn my attention back to my science fiction novel - and just in time to start attending a new science fiction writer's group. Anna and I went to our first meeting last night. You can read about it and the rest of my writing adventure on my writing blog at 90kwordsofdelusion.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sapphires, Bowling, and some Luvdiscs

Anna turned 12 on Friday. This is what it was all about.

Alyssa picked out a Michael Jackson CD for her. This was actually her second choice, but I felt pretty sure Anna would not be interested in Sponge Bob's Greatest Hits.

We also got her a cell phone and added her to our family plan. She's in enough activities with school and church now that we felt the time was right.

Her gifts also included some sapphire earrings,

and a double-sided blanket from Grandma Ruttan. One side is a coral reef,

and the other side has dolphins and orcas. Perfect.

For dinner she wanted German pancakes. We put whipped cream and candles on hers.

Then on Saturday, she had a little party. Her original plan was to go putt putt golfing, but the weather was rather unsettled so we opted for bowling instead.

Only two of Anna's three invited friends were able to make it, but they had a great time. These three girls get along really well, and it was fun watching them bowl.

There were a lot of gutter balls and interesting bowling techniques, including some that would have been better suited to the shot put.

After two and a half games (the alley had a Labor Day special where we could rent the lane for an hour) we came back to the house for cake, ice cream, and presents.

Anna wanted a Pokemon on her cake, and decided that the luvdisc was the easiest, cutest one. I have to agree. In putting this post together, I realized I didn't get a picture of the cake by itself. Oops. So I ran out and took a picture of the one remaining luvdisc. She'll probably join her partner later today.

Happy birthday, Anna!