"If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under." - Ronald Reagan

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Peep My Brownies

My buddy Sami from Symmetry In Motion is hosting a Peep-tastic event! For her April Symfully Sweet contest. Her candy of the month? Peeps!

You may remember my previous torturing of Peeps. I only eat them if they're stale and yet, I can't imagine an Easter without them. I'm not incredibly crafty lately (although I am totally in love with these and MUST HAVE THEM!) but I am pretty stressed so baking seemed like a good option.

Peep Brownies

Make your favorite brownie batter. And if you must use a brownie mix, then so be it, just don't tell me. Before pouring into the pan, mix in one cup of coconut and one cup of chopped nuts. Spread into your pan and bake it as usual, but leave the oven on. Should look like this:

Tempting, already, I know, but resist! Next, it's time to take out a little of your aggressions on small marshmallow bodies.

I started by lining the Peeps up but there were too many gaps so I disemboweled a few and scattered the remains over the others. Still, a few gaps. I tossed in a few plain mini marshmallows to fill it in. Then pop the pan back in the oven for about 7 minutes. Their guts will puff up and maybe start to brown a little.

While those are melting, dump a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips into a small saucepan and heat them until they melt. Stir in 1/4 cup of softened butter until it all smoothes out. Then? Pour it over the marshmallow mayhem.

Try not to lick the screen.

Let it set up, then cut with a plastic knife, and serve. Unfortunately, my diners were not as patient and demanded to be served.

Ooey, gooey, chocolate, mushy yumminess! And kinda pretty, too.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chocolate is Way Better Than Coffee

I used to like the smell of coffee. I thought it was relaxing and rich. At my very first job, one of my duties was to change out the coffee to keep it fresh. One day, this was my first task just after signing in. And I proceeded to spill the entire thing all over me. Unfortunately, it was a Saturday and we were completely slammed so there was no chance for me to go home and change. I smelled like stale coffee for my entire six-hour shift.

So, I don't much like coffee anymore.

Then, when I was 16, I shared a yummy dessert with a friend during a double date. It was called tiramisu and was deliciously creamy but there was this weird, tangy taste that I didn't much like. Coffee. Such a tragedy that a treat like this was ruined by the coffee. Surely there had to be a better way.

Now, officially, you can't call it tiramisu without the coffee. And it's virtually impossible to find a recipe the omits the coffee, because, like I mentioned, it's "essential." Using a few recipes from online, I put together my own. I'm trying on other names, like TiraMormon, or TiraMissYou (but I don't miss the coffee).

Not Tiramisu
1 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar, divided
4 egg yolks
1 lb mascarpone cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
24 ladyfingers
1 cup hot water
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 oz chocolate, finely grated
  • Whip the cream with a tablespoon of sugar until stiff peaks form. You're done with this for a bit but keep it away from heat.
  • In a larger bowl, beat together the egg yolks and remaining sugar. Switch the mixer to low and then scoop the mascarpone cheese in a little bit at a time until fully combined.
  • Take 1/4 of the whipped cream and mix it into the cheese. Then fold in the remaining amount of cream, careful to not over beat it, along with the vanilla.
  • Spread 1/2 cup of this mixture in the bottom of a 2-quart dish.
  • In a small bowl, stir together hot water and cocoa powder.
  • Dip ladyfingers in this mixture but don't let them soak! Carefully place in the bottom of the dish in a single layer.
  • Scoop half the cheese mixture over the top and gently spread over the cookies. Sprinkle half the grated chocolate evenly on top.
  • Now, repeat the last two steps!
  • Cover and pop into your fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.
Here are a few tips:
  • The only ladyfingers I could find were in the bakery and were almost like an angel food cake. These would completely fall apart if soaked in the hot chocolate mixture. So don't be concerned if there's a lot of that chocolate leftover.
  • Some recipes call for cream cheese. I prefer mascarpone. You can usually find it in the deli section of your local supermarket.
  • I used dark chocolate because I like it and it has a stronger taste. Use whatever you'd prefer.
  • This would look pretty in a trifle dish!

Monday, April 25, 2011

FHE: Don't Eat Pete! (repost)

This old FHE post is a long-time favorite on my blog and a constant source of web search results. Enjoy!


I realized I haven't done a Family Home Evening post in quite some time! It's not that we haven't been having them; we have. They've mostly been repeats or fairly informal, nothing that would make for an interesting post if you aren't as obsessed with my kids as I am. So I've decided to share one of our favorite activities: Don't Eat Pete!

Before moving to Utah, I'd never heard of the game. Here,
everyoneknows how to play. And really, it's pretty simple. First, you start with a game board:

Obviously, I made mine. A sheet of white paper and my daughter's markers. The big thing is that each face is different. If you'd like a little more detail or different expressions, by all means, do your own! I probably should laminate it one of these days, as little fingers tend to smudge and leave prints. I've had to remake the board a few times.

Next, you need a small treat. Typically, we use M&Ms or chocolate chips. You could use anything that your kids like (obviously, mine like chocolate...): Skittles, Smarties, grapes, another variety of M&Ms, Reese's, olives, kumquats...whatever. You don't want it too messy or your board gets ruined, so no chili beans.

Now, you pick who goes first. This is usually the hard part in our family. I try to make it a reward. "The Boy sat still all through FHE, so he can go first," "Da Boo made her bed without me asking her to so she goes first," "Daddy came home
before dinner today, so he gets the first turn," or "Mommy went all afternoon without crying, so I go first!" Whoever goes first, leaves the room. When they're gone, the remaining family members pick which face will be "Pete."

Set up the game by placing a small treat on each face, remembering which one is Pete. Yell as loud as you can for the other person to come back in the room. Make sure you yell
several times, just in case they didn't hear, even though they are already sitting back down.

Now, the game begins! The Chosen Person chooses a face. While reaching for the candy on that face, glance nervously around at the family, looking for any indication that you are indeed, going to eat Pete. If no one says anything, the Chosen Person gets to eat that candy and then repeat the process by selecting another face. If, in fact, the Chosen Person is reaching for the pre-determined Pete, then the rest of the family must scream "DON'T EAT PETE!" as loud as humanly possible, causing he/she to drop "Pete" and clutch at their ears in agony. All involved collapse into giggles until normal hearing resumes.

Another person is then Chosen and the game resets.

A couple tips:

  • You don't eat Pete. Just like the name says and everything. Clever, eh?
  • If the Chosen does select Pete first, we usually let them have that one so they don't feel cheated and start crying, run from the room and loudly declare that they hate Pete.
  • You'll notice that my board has only nine potential Petes. The first board I made had 12. The Boy had the uncanny ability to work his way through the board without touching Pete until the very end. Makes for a long round, especially when you haven't had your turn yet and there's only one package of M&Ms.
  • I've seen/heard of the game played with turkeys, elves, hearts, etc., to fit the season.
  • WARNING: Your kids - especially the younger ones - will love this game. They will ask to play it frequently, not just on Monday nights. In fact, you might want to hide the game board rather well and pretend it doesn't exist or you'll get requests to play at the strangest times: during breakfast, when they are supposed to be napping, while they (or you) are on the potty.
Enjoy! And if you have any Pete-related stories you'd like to share, please feel free to do so...as long as I get to go first the next time we play...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

His Sacred Name

If the video gets cut off, view it here.

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

ABCs and Me

Seems like ages since I've done a meme...found this one at Hairy Shoe Fairy and decided it might just be time to do another one. Aren't you lucky?

  • A. Age: 29.95 plus shipping and handling. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
  • B. Bed size: Queen. Although we could probably get away with having a Twin since the Man insists on sleeping on my side of the bed.
  • C. Chore you hate: It's a tie between mopping the floor and cleaning the shower. Both are semi-painful due to my Bionic-ness.
  • D. Dogs: Wish I had one! The Man says we have to wait until Baby is potty-trained...something about only one thing pooping on the floor at a time. But I've always loved dogs, especially really big ones.
  • E. Essential start to your day: Hugs. I have a much better mind-set when I've given everyone a hug and told them how much I love them. Keeps my priorities straight.
  • F. Favorite color: A nice deep blue. Not navy and not electric.
  • G. Gold or silver: Silver. Definitely.
  • H. Height: 5 feet 3 inches. Yeah, I'm short. Dynamite comes in small packages.
  • I. Instruments you play: Does the radio count? One of these days, I really ought to take piano lessons with my kids.
  • J. Job title: Domestic Goddess. Seriously, you try doing this job without the aid of supernatural powers.
  • K. Kids: Three. Boo, Boy and Baby. And we're done.
  • L. Live: In Utah. Never thought I'd be here longer than it took to finish college. I graduated 11 years ago. Must be my addiction to fry sauce that keeps me here.
  • M. Mom’s name: Mom? Not really sure what I'm supposed to put here...Seems like my name is less frequently "Mom" and more like "Mooooooooooooooom!"
  • N. Nicknames: Jessica G., Jess, Jessie (but you're not allowed to call me that unless we are blood relatives), and Jessica-messica. That last one is from my mom. It's not entirely unfounded.
  • O. Overnight hospital stays: For the past 12 years, the only time I've been in a hospital overnight was when I had a baby. Now, before that, it gets a little more interesting, being Bionic and all.
  • P. Pet peeve: When people say they could care less. When I try to correct them, they say it's perfectly acceptable both ways. No. No, it's not. Then there would be no reason to say it at all! Find yourself a new catch phrase, my misguided friend.
  • Q. Quote from a movie: "Mmmmm...chicken, good!" - Leelu, The Fifth Element. I say this anytime I am dealing with chicken. My kids think I'm nuts.
  • R. Right or left handed: Right.
  • S. Siblings: Four brothers and two sisters.
  • T. Time you wake up: I get up in time to make sure Boo isn't going to school in the same outfit she wore yesterday and that she gets out the door in time to make the school bus. I've been known to go back to bed if Baby isn't awake yet. I am so not a morning person.
  • U. Underwear: Umm, yes?
  • V. Vegetables you dislike: All of them! Well, that's not true...I really like that purple cabbage and carrots and corn, although someone told me once that corn isn't actually a vegetable. Never cared enough to check their facts, though.
  • W. What makes you run late: My laptop. It sucks me in and traps me there until I've checked my email, looked at Facebook, and maybe read a news article or two. It's that and my horrible sense of timing.
  • X. X-Rays you’ve had: Lots on my shoulder. Wanna see 'em? Come on over! Bring the popcorn.
  • Y. Yummy food you make: Believe it or not, but I can't really cook. At least, not beyond the basics. Now, ask me if I can bake and I will totally school you.
  • Z. Zoo- favorite animal: Beluga whales. Not your typical zoo animal. I love those gorgeous, graceful, odd-looking creatures!
I'm not going to officially tag anyone because I don't want to cry if they won't accept. Please feel free to take this one and link back in the comments if you do it!

Monday, April 18, 2011

FHE: Resurrection Cookies

Usually, my FHE post is a recap of the festivities/feuds from the week before. This week, I'm opting for something a little different. For the past few years, we've always made Resurrection Cookies the Saturday evening before Easter. I won't be able to do that this year but it's my favorite Easter tradition so we're having them for FHE tonight!

Since I don't know what songs we'll sing or who will say the prayer, we'll skip that and just get down to the gist of it.

Resurrection Cookies

Before you begin, gather together the following:
  • 1 cup pecan halves (not pieces)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (but keep the bottle handy)
  • 3 eggs whites
  • salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Plastic baggie
  • Rolling pin or meat tenderizer
  • Mixing bowl
  • Mixer
  • Tape (I use masking tape because it's easiest to remove)
  • Scriptures
You will also need to preheat the oven to 300 degrees and prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with waxed or parchment paper.

Pull the kids in close and open your scriptures.
  • Place the nuts in the plastic baggie, making sure to seal it tight. Either read or have the kids read John 19:1-3. Using the rolling pin or meat tenderizer, have them hit the nuts to break them into pieces to illustrate how Jesus was beaten by the soldiers. Set the nuts aside.

  • Let the kids smell the vinegar in the bottle. Does that smell like it would taste good? As you pour one teaspoon into a large mixing bowl, have someone read John 19:28-29. When Jesus was thirsty, the soldiers gave him vinegar instead of water to drink.

  • Eggs represent life. Add the egg whites as someone reads John 10:10-11. Jesus gave his life for us on the cross. Crucifixion might need to be explained in terms your kids can understand

  • Give each person a sprinkle of salt in their hand and let them taste it. Shake a little into the bowl. Read Luke 23:27. This salt represents the salty tears of Jesus' friends and followers and also the tears we cry over our own sins. Explain that a lament is a great sadness and crying.

  • Take a look at the ingredients in the bowl (vinegar, eggs, salt). It's not a very tasty combination, is it? Now let everyone have a taste of the sugar. Read John 3:16 and Psalm 34:8. Pour the cup of sugar into the bowl. There's a lot more sugar/love in there than any bitterness. Explain that this very sad thing happened because of love for us, from Heavenly Father and Christ.

  • Using the mixer, start beating on high speed. Point out that the mixture is white, the color of purity. Read Isaiah 1:18. Because of Jesus' sacrifice, we are able to be cleansed of our sins. (This is the part where things can get derailed...it takes about 15 minutes to beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and your kids are going to get bored. Talk about Jesus but once their attention is gone, send them to go get ready for bed or have a coloring page for them while you work.)

  • Once you've got the stiff peaks, fold in the nuts. Scoop up some and drop it on the prepared pan. Read Matthew 27:57-60. These mounds represent the rocky tomb where Christ's body was laid to rest.

  • Place the cookies in the oven. Turn the oven off. Read Matthew 27:65-66. Let every have a piece of tape to help seal the tomb. Christ's tomb was sealed and guards were set outside it.

  • But where are the cookies? You might get some sad faces; after all, there was talk of treats. Read John 16:20, 22. Christ's followers despaired when he died on the cross but he had told them there would be reason to be joyful soon enough. You might need to have a back-up treat handy...I usually just let my kids lick the beaters. Be sure to close with a prayer if this is your FHE.

  • This is the end for tonight! The cookies remain in the sealed oven overnight.

  • The next morning, gather everyone at the "sealed tomb." Show them that the tape is still in place. Remove it and them pull out the cookie sheet. Have the cookies changed? Give one to each child and then read Matthew 28:1-9 as they eat the cookies. Just like the rocky tomb, the cookies are hollow and empty. His disciples were just as amazed to find that the tomb was empty. Jesus was no longer there because he had been resurrected.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday Confessional #5


I confess...

I like to torture my kids. Okay, maybe that doesn't sound right; I don't want anyone calling CPS on me.

I like to pester, tease, and taunt my kids. That's better.

It's great when I know the punchline to their jokes before they give it. They are extremely trusting and just a little too ticklish. I make up silly songs involving them and their various faults character traits. Hey, it's not like I sing them in public...much.

I confess...

April Fool's Day is like giving me a free pass to make them miserable all day long! Last year, I had pneumonia and too busy not dying. This year, I think it's safe to say that I made up for that.

Somehow, Boo's clock got set an hour later so she came rushing into my room, all frantic that she missed the bus. I could hardly go back to sleep, I was cackling with glee.

Then the Boy woke up looking like this:

It was only fair, since he missed out when the leprechaun visited. He didn't seem to mind. In fact, he begged me to let it stay on so he could show his friends at school.

When I fixed Boo's hair for school, I tucked in a hair clip with pink and blue hair attached. Unfortunately, her brother pointed it out to her before she left. She loved it. Hrmm...maybe I was losing my touch.

I let the suspense build all morning. When lunch came without any more incidents, the Boy didn't think it was odd that I was taking pictures of him while he ate. I even gave him Oreos! I must be the coolest mom ever! At least until he ate those cookies.

Here's the Before shot:
And the After.

Some naughty person had replaced the "white stuff" in his second Oreo with toothpaste! Yuck! I just love his eyebrows! They are the most expressive part of him. Boo had a similar experience with her lunch, which she thought was perfectly safe since it was a prepackaged Lunchable that hadn't been tampered with...that she could tell.

Boo brought a friend home from school. Before I agreed to the play date, I asked the friend's aunt if it would be alright if I played pranks on him along with my kids. I am pleased to say that she whole-heartedly agreed.

It's not unusual for me to provide a really fun treat or new snack when the kids have a friend over. In fact, they've come to expect it. So when I brought out these awesome, giant SweetTarts, their eyes shone with joy...until they tasted them. Not SweetTarts...fizzing bath beads.

We were going to teach Boo's friend a new game but we ran out of time. It's a game my parents used to teach all the new missionaries that came over for dinner, one involving a piece of paper with a bullseye drawn on it, a quarter, someone's nose to roll it down, and a really soft-leaded pencil with which to trace the quarter where it fell. Those are some great memories.

I confess...

I get my mean streak through genetics.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Do you love me?

Now that I can dance!

Okay, just kidding...still can't dance. Although I do currently hold all the high scores on our "Just Dance" Wii game. Then again, I'm competing against an 8-, 5-, and 2-year-old.


I like cakes. Do you like cakes? Do you like my cakes? Well, then head on over to my buddy Debbie's blog, Cranberry Fries, and vote for your favorite cake! Some are inspired by books and others are just for fun. And since I'm all about fairness (please don't laugh out-loud), I won't even tell you which ones are mine so as to sway your votes.

Go on now...scoot!

(Comments off...go vote instead!)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Almost Makes Me Look Forward To Getting The Bills!


Time to reveal all the packaged goodness!

My partner was Sami, who might just be my sister from another mister. We have a lot in common , which was almost a little eerie. She even has a Boo!

Dontcha just love a box full of wrapped lovelies? Totally builds the anticipation, unless of course, you are Baby, and in that case, it just builds the frustration because you are absolutely sure there in candy in there, you just can't tell where!

Totally fabulous right?
  • Ivory Body Wash Simply Lavender - It's a hard-to-find scent so she gets hers online. Wow, and she let me have a bottle!
  • Smartfood White Cheddar Popcorn - I was totally addicted to this stuff in college! I kept telling myself it was "healthy" and therefore perfectly acceptable to eat the entire bag while watching tv diligently studying.
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - This is a great book! I have to be honest here and admit that I might just prefer this series to the Twilight Saga. Please don't throw ribbons, chess pieces, or apples at me...
  • Mamma Mia - Would you think less of me if I told you that I've watched this movie so many times that the Boy can sing it along with me?
  • NaturalIce lip balm - this is the second time I've gotten this product in a "Favorite Things" swap. Are you people trying to tell me something?
  • iTunes gift card - Woot! Needed this. I just burned through my last one downloading food-themed songs. Because I'm a dork and that's what we dorks do.
  • Cadbury Creme Eggs - I have loved these little boogers since they were first released! Have you tried the new Caramel and Orange Creme ones? Yummy yummy!
  • Almond Snickers - Baby instinctively knew this package was the one she sought and proceeded to rip off the tissue piece by tiny piece as I uncovered all the other goodies. Hey, a girl has to be patient when she knows the pay-off is worth it.
I love doing these swaps! Not only is getting the package whole hunk of fun but I've met some really great people along the way. Thank you, Sami! And thanks, Mamarazzi, for hosting the swap!

Also, I'll be hosting the True Colors Swap again beginning in May. I'll try and give you plenty of warning before sign-ups begin.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Confessional #4

I confess...

Dr. Pepper from a soda fountain makes me hiccup.
(Sure, it's a silly confession but I figured after the heavy stuff last week, we could all use a little levity.)
It's only the Dr. Pepper...never the Diet Coke or Sprite. And even though I know it's coming, the hiccups still take me by surprise.

I confess...

I'm a snob when it comes to soda. I'd rather have plain water instead of Coke. Yuck.

And in Texas, every drink is a Coke. Everything! At my very first job, I worked in food service and would frequently double-fill drink orders because the customers asked for three Cokes, a Diet Coke, and two Sprites. So I gave them their six drinks and they get all confused. "But I just wanted the Diet Coke and Sprites!" Then why did you order three Cokes? ARRRGGGGG!!! And I wonder why I never got Employee of the Month.

I confess...

I like calling it soda as opposed to pop. But nearly every time I say "soda," I think of that one Mythbusters where they're playing with Diet Coke and Mentos and Adam says "Soda!" in this funny way. That makes me smile. "Soda!"

My current aluminum can of happiness is Diet Pepsi Vanilla.

Having a favorite soda and loudly proclaiming it is almost like talking politics. Everyone feels strongly and cannot be swayed from their opinion. And anyone who doesn't share that same opinion is a tasteless fool.


What is your favorite soda?

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