Archive for March, 2012

University of Cookie-Friday Favorites

March 30, 2012

MY FAVORITE COOKIE WEBSITES-

Last year when Sam was gone a lot for work, I decided that I needed to learn a new skill to keep myself going.  I found a website made by a baker who loved to share her secrets on making great looking cookies, a few months later she joined up with other cookie makers and they launched a website together called university of cookie.  It is great, it shows you how to make AMAZING cookies and how to package them so they don’t stick together.

Here are some of the cookies I have made with what I learned from the websites

To do the technique you basically just pipe the outline of your cookie with regular consistency icing, then make your icing runny,put it back in the piping bag and fill in the outline.  leave it for 6-12 hours and it will be dry.  You can package it or add details to the top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the links to some of their great how to’s

Outlining and filling

How to make royal icing with meringue powder

Royal icing recipe without meringue powder

making cookies without a cookie cutter

easy way to fill your icing bag

 

 

 

Here are the home pages to the 2 websites.

University of cookie-home page to the how to videos

Bake at 350-the original website I found written by Bridget the baker

 

 

Give them a try for your next party, the great thing about them is that you can make them a week ahead of time, so you can concentrate on other things for the party.  Happy baking 🙂

Thursday Thoughts

March 28, 2012

This week’s lesson was on our attitude in service.  Here are 2 of my favorite quotes that I discovered while researching my lesson (both are from President Kimball)

“In serving others, we “find” ourselves in terms of acknowledging divine guidance in our lives. Furthermore, the more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls. We become more significant individuals as we serve others. We become more substantive as we serve others—indeed, it is easier to “find” ourselves because there is so much more of us to find!”

Full talk here President Kimball Speaks Out on Service March Ensign 1981

“Sometimes the solution is not to change our circumstance, but to change our attitude about that circumstance; difficulties are often opportunities for service. Someone has said that hell ‘is frozen in self-pity.’

If we are not careful, we can be injured by the frostbite of frustration; we can be frozen in place by the chill of unmet expectations. To avoid this we must—just as we would with arctic coldness—keep moving, keep serving, and keep reaching out, so that our own immobility does not become our chief danger.”

Full Article here Small Acts of Service-President Kimball, 1st Presidency Message December 1974

Wednesday Words

March 28, 2012

Last year I had one of those daily calendars and one day I found this gem upon it’s pages

“The greatest danger to our future is apathy.” -Jane Goodall

I think that is very true, it can be applied to many areas of our lives

  • debt
  • religion
  • morality
  • politics
  • parenting

The list could go on and on.  If we don’t care about these and other potential problems to the point that we ignore them completely, they are bound to become issues that will block us from accomplishing anything else.

Mormon.org-Tuesday Tips

March 27, 2012

This week’s Gospel Doctrine lesson was given by our area’s mission president and his wife.  They discussed how important member involvement is in helping those who are investigating the church.  One of the things they encouraged everyone to do was to make a mormon.org profile.

Here is a link to mormon.org

If you have not made your own profile, it is easy to do.

  1. go to mormon.org
  2. scroll down to the bottom of the page.  there you will find some white links against a dark gray background. click on the “create a Profile” link
  3. Now click on the orange link with white writing that says “Create a profile with LDS Account”
  4. Now log in and begin answering questions. (The log in Username and Password will be the same as the one you use on lds.org or family search.org)  You can add a photo and basically bear your testimony.

you can always save your work and go back to edit it.  Once you publish your profile you can add it to your Facebook page, blog, or other website.  They even have “buttons” you can use as icons to link people to your profile.  Some are cute, some are plain, some have the temple on them.  Here is the one I have on my blog.
I'm a Mormon.

Feel free to click on it and get ideas from my profile to help you create your own profile.

If you have a hard time, ask someone for help.  My husband, Laura Lund and Ginger Johnson all had their iPad’s at church with them this past Sunday and seem to bring them most weeks, so if you ask them to help they could probably sit down with you in the foyer and hold your hand while you make your profile.  But I think you will get the hang of it if you just give it a try.  I think you will find it a great opportunity to search your feelings and think a lot about your own testimony so it will be good for you and investigators.

Yogurt Pops-Monday Menus

March 26, 2012

With the warm weather we had last week I was reminded of some of the fun warm weather food my kids enjoy.  A few years back I decided that my kids needed a cool treat when they came in from playing outside in the heat, but I didn’t want to give them the cheep sugary popsicles and got tired of paying a lot for the healthier freezer treats that seemed to get used up SO FAST.  So I found a recipe to make my own.  I begin with a homemade yogurt recipe, then I use the yogurt to make popsicles.  (The homemade yogurt is just a way to lower the cost, but you could use store bought yogurt and come up with the same great tasting popsicles.)

Strawberry Yogurt popsicle (original recipe found here online)

1 cup sliced strawberries (frozen or fresh)

2 cups plain yogurt

1/4 cup honey

    1. puree strawberries in a food processor or blender
    2. Add yogurt and Honey
    3. Pour into small Dixi cups until each cup is about 3/4 full
    4. Insert popsicle sticks into cups and freeze
    5. when ready to eat, peel the paper off and enjoy.

Gwen helping me out

Our sticks normally freeze crooked, because I’m too lazy to use foil or plastic wrap to prop them up and I’m too forgetful to put the sticks in 1/2 way through the freezing process, but they are just as yummy regardless of if they are crooked or straight 🙂

Also, if you don’t want to use popsicle sticks, you could fill the cups up only 1/2 way and use toothpicks.  (We did that a lot in ice cube trays when I was a kid.) But with toothpicks you will want to put the 1/2 full cups in the freezer, set the timer for 30 minutes, then when it beeps they should be cold enough for the toothpicks to be inserted and stay put, or find another way for them to stay straight because the toothpicks are not long enough to hold while you are eating if they freeze crooked.

Maggie taste testing our work

There are A LOT of yogurt popsicle recipes online, so google a recipe for your favorite fruit.  (We have blueberry bushes in our new yard so I will be searching for a good blueberry-yogurt popsicle recipe to make this summer.)

And hopefully we will get lucky and see some more of that beautiful weather again soon.

Friday Favorites

March 23, 2012

–by Donna Mitchell

I realized after my previous week of blogging that I had not mentioned that my favorite clothing store, Christopher and Banks, can be found right here in River City (at the Fox Run Mall in Newington).

Just a note about this coming season’s favorite dessert: ice cream, which has always been a favorite for our family during any season, much more than cake, which often has to be a la mode to be palatable. I think I mentioned last time that black raspberry is one of Terry’s and my favorite flavors, unique to New England.

One of our family’s favorite seasonal places to buy ice cream is Lago’s, which is on Lafayette Road, a short distance south of State Street Discount (a good appliance and big tv showroom, by the way). They have a mind-boggling selection and huge servings. I get the baby size and it is more than enough.

Another seasonal favorite is Kimball Farm, a hugely expanded ice cream stand that we found out about almost 30 years ago when Terry was stationed at Hanscom Air Force Base (by Concord, MA) and we attended the Littleton 1st Ward. You sort of have to be heading toward Worcester and points beyond for it to be on your way to somewhere, but it’s worth a trip just for itself. In addition to between twelve or thirteen windows to order your ice cream (made right there), it has a country gift shop, seafood shack, driving range (on the old cow pasture which used to have cows when we discovered it), miniature golf, bumper boats, batting cages, a game arcade and sometimes balloon rides. On some nights during the summer they have vintage car shows with oldies music, though we have never attended so I don’t know much about this. Kimball Farm is located at 400 Littleton Road, Westford, MA. You take Interstate 495 to either exit 32 (Carlisle Road in Westford, closer to us) or 31 (Route 119/Great Road in Littleton, farther south). From both exits, head east and turn on Route 110 which parallels Interstate 495. If you take exit 32, head south; from exit 31, head north. The complex is somewhat closer to exit 31, which has a sign for Kimball Farm, proving that it is a major tourist destination, helpful if you miss the first exit. As of yesterday, all the attractions are now open. This is another place where you should not order the large.

Now that Friendly’s has closed its Portsmouth and Exeter stores, the closest one is in Dover. There is also one in Salisbury, just across the Merrimack River (just off Interstate 95 on Route 110 heading west, the first thing you come to on the left/south side of the road). Terry grew up with Friendly’s, which started in Springfield, MA and had a plant in West Springfield, his home town, before they moved it to Wilbraham (which has a big spotlighted hedge on the Mass Pike spelling out the word Friendly’s). They have meals as well as ice cream; the best deal is the senior menu, where you can order from six items at a reduced price which also includes a Happy Ending Sundae for dessert. Eat your hearts out, whippersnappers!

Thursday Thoughts

March 22, 2012

–by Donna Mitchell

We have just returned from the temple where we had the privilege of visiting with Bishop Waddoups after our endowment session. It was great to catch up on what his family has been doing and to pass on to him how the ward has been growing. He’s going back to Utah in the morning, so there was no hope of seeing him visit us this coming Sunday. But maybe they’ll all make it back this summer…

And now, reflections on last Sunday:

This past Sunday’s Relief Society lesson, Chapter 6 in the Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, was Sustaining Those Whom the Lord Sustains, specifically our prophets and general authorities. In our discussion, we ended up focusing on sustaining our prophet in spite of differences of “style” or personality which may cause us to question what he is asking us to do, or the difficulty of a task which may take us far out of our comfort zones, like actively promoting Proposition 8 in California, where some of us lived at the time.

Without reading verbatim from the lesson, we came to the same conclusion that is stated on page 59, …”that this work is not the work of man, but it is the work of the Lord; that this Church, that bears the name of Jesus Christ, is directed by him, and he will permit no man or group of men to destroy it. He will not permit the men who preside over his Church to lead the people into error, but he will sustain them with his almighty power.”

And good advice for us to follow in our personal actions is found on page 60: “I know that when my judgment conflicts with the teachings of those that the Lord has given to us to point the way, I should change my course. If I desire salvation I will follow the leaders that our Heavenly Father has given to us, as long as he sustains them.”

Another suggestion that came up, only briefly mentioned in the manual, was to pray for our leaders. They have asked us to do this, they need our support, and the Lord hears our prayers and blesses both our leaders and us because of them. And when they ask us to do difficult things for reasons which we don’t know or understand, we should pray for confirmation that what we are being asked to do is right. We will be more committed to doing those things when we know that they are what the Lord wants us to do.

Wednesday Words

March 22, 2012

–by Donna Mitchell

Well, I am a day late and a dollar short, as the saying goes. Yesterday was a stressful day. I spent all day on cub scouts, preparing for and then participating in a den meeting.

Another relevant saying is taken from Doctrine and Covenants 38:30, the last part of which tells us “if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” I prepared extensively for a discussion on tall tales by looking up all the ones mentioned in the Bear Cub Scout Manual and printing out many, many pages about them. I spent a lot of time learning how to download from the internet songs about three of the characters mentioned: Casey Jones, John Henry and Davy Crockett. I couldn’t find the music that I wanted for the Zorro television program from the 1950s. Then I learned how to transfer music from one program on my computer to the new iTunes program I had downloaded so I could put the music on my iPod. I hate to admit that I have owned this iPod for several years but have hardly used it since I was released as a Primary teacher almost three years ago. I got it so I could play Primary songs in my class. After having difficulties getting my iPod to sync with my new list of music, I called my second son, Don, for help. All I needed was to go to the correct screen and click on the “Sync” button… This all took so long that after successfully transferring everything to the iPod, I packed up all my stuff, papers, iPod, and portable speakers, and dashed off to church.

I had not played my new music on my speakers, since I had used them before and they worked fine. However, they did not work well and the two songs out of three that I managed to play skipped so badly that the boys couldn’t hear coherent sentences and understand the stories. I also discovered that I had left one of the stories on top of my printer. This brings me to another scripture, Doctrine and Covenants 88:119, “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing: …” My problem was being too thorough in one time-consuming area which caused me to neglect doing a dry run with the music. I went to a scout training seminar on Saturday which discussed presentation of information, including practicing. I should have taken it more to heart.

Although I have applied this to the presentation of what was essentially a lesson, we often apply the concept of preparedness to emergency preparedness. My message is “If ye think ye are prepared and ye are not sufficiently prepared in all things, ye may not fear, but ye should!”

During the big spring wind storm a couple years ago, we drove to Massachusetts to buy a generator (because there were no more in New Hampshire). After we got it home, we discovered that our new electronically controlled propane heating system did not like the electricity produced by the generator and refused to work, leaving us without heat or hot water in spite of what appeared on the surface to be adequate preparation. Eventually, when finances permit, we will purchase a whole-house generator to get over this hurdle.

Having adequate food will not be sufficient if it has to be cooked and there is inadequate fuel or appropriate procedures or tools for cooking. Having a river flowing by the house will not quench thirst if it is not drinkable. I am telling myself to pay attention and PRACTICE now what is necessary for success later. Just a word to the wise, and hopefully better prepared than I.

Tuesday Tips

March 20, 2012

–by Donna Mitchell

It’s spring! Hooray! I know this because my calendar says it is (today–Happy Vernal Equinox!) I also know this because the weather is wonderful (at least this week), the robins, cormorants and loons are back, and a hawk has occasionally visited our yard, hopefully to eliminate the field mice that sometimes visit inside the house. There are live outdoor plants to buy at various garden centers, and green things are starting to pop up around the yard. For me, that means it’s time to work in the garden.

So, if you didn’t clean out your flower beds last fall, it’s time to do it before the perennials move past the baby stage and the debris is harder to access. Last week my husband worked on the cleanup and I attacked the rose bushes, which responded by attacking me back. I should have worn my leather gloves which go halfway up to my elbow, but one finger had a hole in it and I thought it would bug me too much. My scratches bugged me more. I should have pruned them in the fall, but the important thing is to cut out all the dead wood and cut back the unbalanced and flag-waving crazy long canes before the new growth gets going. Roses are usually so hardy they can be pruned anytime. I don’t know if that’s the practice recommended by professionals, but it works for me. If any of them start getting out of line, waving a branch that says, “Look at me, look at me, I’m so tall!”, I cut them down to size whenever I catch them at it (maybe it’s jealousy…). Cut just above a growth node (or obvious new growth); anything longer will just die back to that point anyway.

It’s also time to check for poison ivy if you think you might have a problem. The nice thing about poison ivy in spring is that the new leaves are red, while most baby leaves are green. This makes them much easier to spot and treat. There are certain herbicides which are more effective than others, designed for poison ivy and made by several manufacturers. It’s so much easier to kill poison ivy with poison rather than trying to pull it up while wearing all kinds of protective clothing and gear, not touching your skin with anything that has touched poison ivy, and washing all your clothes as soon as possible while trying not to touch any part that might have touched the poison ivy…You get the picture. Still–wear long clothes, and don’t wear sandals. Yes, this is the voice of paranoia, the result of a little gap between glove and long sleeve. Once bitten, twice shy.

There are also lots of new weeds in both gardens and lawns, which are more easily treated now than later. Pull them, use a cultivator for some weeds (the claw thing) or a weeder for dandelions, which have a long taproot. (I call it a snake’s tongue when describing it to helpers because it is a long rod with a little fork at the end, easy to poke several inches underground.) Or use chemicals: read labels carefully to determine what you need.

We are also going to start seeing more bugs. I seem to be invaded by ants every year no matter what I did the year before. Last year got to the point that they were attacking the butter dish I kept on the counter to avoid hard spreading. I bought a unique pottery butter container, which I think is a French design with two parts. The butter is softened and put into a small cup (without side handle) which is turned upside down and placed into a slightly larger cup/pot which has 1/2″ to 3/4″ of cold water in the bottom. The water seals off the butter from the air and nonswimmers. Voila! No ants, at least in the butter. The water is supposed to be changed daily to keep the butter fresh.

Well, that’s all the tips I can think of. The most fun is seeing plants you put in last year or before, coming back bigger and stronger and more beautiful. But once they were small, new babies from the nursery, just like the ones calling to me now. This year I’m going to plant some lilacs, $12 for two at BJ’s.

Monday Menus

March 19, 2012

–by Donna Mitchell

Well, it’s still Monday. At least so far, this is better than the last time it was my week to post.

Now that the weather has turned nice, for the moment anyway, my thoughts have turned to foods of summer with cool drinks to go with them. The following recipe is unusual, but tastes great.

Brazilian Lemonade (really Limeade)

2 limes

1/2 cup sugar

3 Tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

3 cups water

ice

Wash limes thoroughly. Cut off the ends and slice into eight wedges. Place limes in a blender with the sugar, sweetened condensed milk, water, and ice.

Blend by pulsing five times. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove rinds. Serve immediately over ice.

This tastes like the limeade you get at Brazilian restaurants. Yummy!