Tuesday, December 21, 2010

You Know You Have a Problem When

Your husband can recognize the sound of you spray painting over the phone.  And when you are spray painting while he is at work because you are not 100% sure he would be ok with you spray painting the lamps in the family room aqua blue.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tis the season for baking

I haven't been posting much the last few weeks, but I have been baking.... A LOT.  After my little hand held mixer died on Thanksgiving Eve I was completely mixerless.  (Mixerless might not be a word, but you know what I am sayin'.) I am kinda hard on mixers.  I find some need for one several times a week and this time of year it is almost everyday.  So just imagine my surprise when this little beauty showed up on my front porch Dec 3rd.

 Isn't she pretty?  I was having a not so great morning.  I was driving up to my house after spending the last hour or so at Wal-mart having the battery on my van changed because it was no longer holding a charge. And as I am driving down the street I see the UPS truck parked in front of my driveway.  I was a little confused because I knew I hadn't ordered anything.
I opened the box and there she was.  The newest love in my life.  In the past few weeks she has helped me make about 14 dozen cookies, 20 lbs of mash potatoes (we cooked all the food for the Relief Society Christmas Party at my house), 2 French silk pies, 2 dozen cupcakes, 3 birthday cakes, 2 dozen muffins (for the ward Christmas party), lots of biscuits, and last but not least ok probably not last, but I am starting to sound like some crazy cooking weirdo YAMS!  


Every time I make these yams I have so my people tell me "I don't usually like yams, but these are really good."  And then they ask for the recipes.  So as promised here are those recipes.


For either recipe you will first want to cook your yams.  I always use fresh yams.  I think they smell bad canned and don't taste as good.  For these recipes cook about 4 medium yams.  Wrap them in foil, place them on a cookie sheet and let them cook at 375 degrees for about 1.5 to 2 hours.




You will want them to be nice and soft.  Once they are all cooked I like use a fork and knife to peel off the outside.  Then just toss the insides in your bowl.




I would actually suggest using the paddle attachment to do this, but the wisk one will work too.


Orange Cranberry Yams 


*Warning I Made This Up*


4 Med Yams (cooked)
1/2 to 1 stick of butter (it just depends on how yummy vs. how healthy would want them to be)
3/4 cup of orange juice
1/2 cup of sugar


Mix all these up (just like making mashed potatoes)  Then make your oat mixture.


1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar 


I just mix these in a small bowl with a fork until it is nice a crumbly.  Then I just take little clumps at a time and toss them into the yams and then stir in fresh cranberries.


1 to 2 cups fresh cranberries


I stir the oat mixture and cranberries in by hand with a large spoon.


Then lightly spray a casserole dish with cooking oil, pour in the yams, top with mini marshmallows and cook at 350 until the marshmallows are lightly toasted.



Pioneer Women Sweet Potatoes

(I got this recipe from a Relief Society potluck)

4 medium sweet potatoes or yams
1 c. sugar
1 c. milk
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. pecans
1/2 c. flour
3/4 stick butter

Add 1 c. (regular granulated) sugar, 1 c. milk, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 tsp salt. Mash everything up with a potatoe masher, just enough, not perfectly smooth.
Now, in a separate bowl, mix together 1 c brown sugar, 1 c. pecans, chopped (that's 1 cup of pecans then you chop them), 1/2 c. flour, and then 3/4 stick butter. Use a pastry cutter or a fork and thoroughly mash together.
Spread the sweet potatoe mixture in a baking dish and then crumble the brown sugar mixture on top. Bake at 400 deg. for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

I can't ever decide which of these recipes I like better, so I usually end up making both. They are sure to be a hit.  
So tell me... Do you like yams?  How do you like to make them?



Sunday, December 12, 2010

COOKIES!

Have you been to Bake at 350? If not you should totally go check it out! It is such a cute blog and has awesome tutorials. I went there for the first time about 2 weeks ago and was totally inspired.  I have always loved pretty cookies, but for some reason never tried making any... until last week when I made these.


These are so much fun and surprisingly easy.

I did three different designs to serve as place setting at a Christmas party I was in charge of this past week.



I also had to take a picture of my "mistake" cookies.  Aren't they cute?  I just want to eat them up, but my kids did that for me. :)


Friday, December 10, 2010

The Elves Here at Conner House Are Working Hard

Okay I know this has nothing to do with anything, but it is funny and my baby is totally mesmerized by it. So here is a little Christmas cheer.


Elf Off 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

TodaysMama (link to: http://bit.ly/tmwishlist) and GameStop (link to: http://bit.ly/gamestop10) are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.

1. What is your holiday wish for your family? A Happy New Year.

2. What is your Christmas morning / Hanukkah Nightly tradition?  All the kids have to stay upstairs until we "open the flood gates" then it is stocking first, then presents.

3. If you could ask Santa for one, completely decadent wish for yourself, what would it be?  A completely finished basement. No no wait $1,000,000.00.  That is better right?

4. How do you make the holidays special without spending any money? We do a lot of family stuff, one of my favorites is a "Polar Express" van ride with hot cocoa looking at Christmas Lights.  And of coarse there are the lights at Temple Square.

5. What games did you play with your family growing up?  Uno and a lot of N 64.

6. What holiday tradition have you carried on from your own childhood?  Every year each kid gets a new ornament.  

7. Where would you go for a Christmas/Hanukkah-away-from-home trip?  Back home to Alaska.

8. Check out GameStop (link to: http://bit.ly/gamestop10) and tell us, what are the three top items on your GameStop Wish List this year?  Well in a dream world my three top ten would be an Xbox 360 and Kinect and some DSs, but it is more likely we will be getting a just Dance Kids Wii, Disney Epic Mickey Wii, and Zhu Zhu Pets Wild Bunch Wii.




This is an insanely awesome giveaway and would be a dream come true for my kids.  Fingers crossed!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Okay I really need someones help!!!

About a week ago I saw this super crazy cute Christmas flannel and I got it in my head that I was going to make matching pajama pants and then some 90 min shirts that say naughty (or nice depending on the kid) for the kids Christmas pjs this year.  So yesterday I started with baby Brycey pants.

I used my favorite pair of Brycey's comfy pants to make a pattern, cut out both sides, surged it all up and in about 30 mins was feeling pretty pleased with myself when I put them in him and he looked so CUTE.


It was all good until a few hours later while sitting in the waiting room at an unplanned trip to the dentist office and I noticed this.


What the heck!!!!  How the freak did that happen???  They didn't seem to small and it is not like this was cheapo Joanns fabric.  This is Riley Blake's Colorful Christmas.   Grrrrr.

So today I set out to fix the problem.  I took the #^%%&@ pants and made what I am going to call a bum panel and a crotch panel.

Then I took my seam ripper and started taking them apart.  I HATE having to rip out seams.  Then I surged the panels in.


Then once the waist band was in...

It was time for the moment of truth...


Oh they look like they fit great.  Plenty of room in the crotch for crazy crawling.  And yet I checked about an hour later and it looked like they were starting to fray again!!!!!

So here is my question..... WHY?????  I have a lot more of these I want to make, but not if the stupid crotch is just going to rip out.  Does anyone out there know how to solve my problem???  Anyone??? Bueller??

Any advice all you amazing sewers have would be very much appreciated.

Thanks!!!

Ugly Dress = Pretty Skirt

I bought this dress last winter on ebay.  The pictures weren't very good, but it was cheap and it looked like it might have potential, plus the listing said it was on like new condition.  To say I was disappointed with what I got would be an understatement.
 There were pen marks and what like water marks all over the skirt and it smelled bad.  The seller wouldn't let me return it so I did the only thing I could do.
I washed it.... a few times.  Most of the marks came out and the smell went away, but the velvet frayed at the neck line making unwearable, and I just didn't really like it.  It seemed a little old fashioned (not in a good way) and frumpy to me.
So this ugly ruined dress just hung in Emma's closet.  Until yesterday, when I was in there putting clothes away got a vision the pretty skirt this dress could be.

Right away I took the dress downstairs and took a pair of scissors to it.  Then I took my rotary cutter and got a nice even cut on the skirt part and the crinoline that was originally with it.


Next I cut off another strip that was 5 inches by 30 inches for the waist and I cut off the ties.


I cut the waist band in half and sewed it back together with the ties in it about 1/2 inch from the bottom.  Then I gathered the tops of the skirt and the crinoline, sewed them to the waistband, made the casting on the waist band and put in the elastic.  It took less than an hour to transform it from ugly dress to pretty skirt.


I love the result, I wish I had one in my size.  Due to the damage that was done to the dress there are still a few pen marks and snags in the skirt, but they really aren't noticeable and I like having really cute clothes for my kids that I don't really care about.  After all I am  sure Emma would have gotten a pen mark on it anyway.


I kinda feel like I should clarify something about buying kids clothes on Ebay.  For years I bought almost all my kids clothes on Ebay and it is still my go to place when I want to find a Childrens Place sweater vest from two years ago to match the ones I already have, or to get a great deals on Gymboree, Gap, or Boden.  And my good experiences by far out weighed the bad.  When I just had Emma and even Alan I bought most their clothes used and then turned around and sold them again so I could buy more.  Emma usually only wore things once or twice before I would sell it, for basically the same price I bought it for (sometimes more) and get something new.  Now that I have 4 kids it just takes to much time and with the boys it seems like as soon as one of them grows out of a shirt or something the next one is ready to wear it, or it is totally trashed and not worth anything anymore.






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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Good News

The good news is that I made a few pairs of leg warmers today.


They are one size fits most, from babies to little girls.



Perfect for pictures with Santa.


or stealing the show at a Christmas program.



They are in my Etsy store and ready to go. 


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pie Baked into a Cupcake

Oh wow these are SO good!!!  Get ready to drool!


You are looking at a mini pumpkin pie baked into a cupcake with whipped cream cheese frosting.  

Here's how you do it:

First make your pie crust.  You can make it from scratch or just get the already rolled out kind. 

Pie Crust:  1 cup flour
                 1/2 teaspoon salt
                 1/3 cup shortening
                 2 or 3 tablespoons water
Combine flour and salt.  Cut in shortening.  sprinkle in water until flour is moistened and mixture cleans the side of the bowl.  Gather into a ball and roll out on a floured surface.

No matter what kind of crust you are using, roll out the dough a little extra thin.


I used an ikea cup to stamp put little crusts and placed them in a lightly greased mini cupcake pan.


Next make you pie filling.  I used the extra filling from the pumpkin pie filling I made for the Chocpumple.  But just about any pie you bake would work for this.


Next you bake your cute little pies.  These are super cute!  Your could just stop here, give them out to your neighbors, serve them at a party, whatever they are just cute little pies.


But if you want to keep going, make some cake mix, pour a little in the bottom of a cupcake liner, stick a pie in there, pour a little batter on top, and bake them like you normally would.

Once they are cooled frost them and enjoy!



Black Friday Craziness... or should I say Thursday!!!

I have to say I was disappointed and annoyed with all the stores  (like Michaels and Toys R Us) who were open on Thanksgiving.  Like anyone needs to go to Michaels on Thanksgiving.  It seems like a slippery slope to me.  In a few years "Black Friday"  will start on Thursday morning and Thanksgiving will be just another day.  Come on retailers is nothing sacred anymore.  Are they going to start having a huge crazy sale on Christmas morning???

That said I was at Walmart for the midnight madness.  Normally I try to avoid Walmart, but the allure of $25 Leapster 2s had me willing to check it out plus I am less annoyed with places that started thier sales at midnight... that is at least technically Friday. I had dreams of getting Emma and Alan Leapster 2s, but when I got there one hour before the sale started all 24 leapsters when already "claimed" by the women surrounding the pallet and oh you should have seen the looks I was getting for even daring to ask about or stand near them.  So fearing for my life I chose to go stand by the moon dough and Zhu Zhu pets.  At midnight everything went crazy and someone in the front dumped a ton of Zhu Zhus into her cart and the started throwing them back. I was luckly enough to catch 3 of them as they flew by.  Later when I was standing completely stuck near the video games, I started talking to the lady next to me.  She had come for a Zhu Zhu pet and didn't get one.  So I gave her one of mine.  After what seemed like a life time I made it across the store to the frozen food section.  There I found the craziest thing I have ever seen.  I guess there where DVDs there.  I say guess because there was no way I was getting close enough to see them.   There were just mounds of people and every so often you would hear "Dragons" and DVDs of How to Train Your Dragon would go flying into the air and people would grab for them like they were solid gold.  Then came the waiting game.  The lines were insanity.

Right here is were I would put a picture of my haul, but I already wrapped them up so the kids don't find them.

I was pleased with my haul when I got home.  Even though the kids won't be getting Leapsters:(, Emma will get a littlest pet shop and a Liv girl, Alan and Logan will get the Imaginex Batman cave they have been wanting for years, and then each got an Iron man, and lets not forget the Zhu Zhus and moon dough.  All that for less than $100.  Not to bad considering the batman thing is usually $89.99 and Liv girls are $18.  Those two alone would have been as much as I spent on everything.

The best black Friday ever was last year when I went out with two of my Aunts (well they are more like friends).  All three of us were pregnant (one of them with twins).  It was crazy, but people were all really nice to us.  Maybe if I had been really pregnant this year I would have been able to get a Leapster.  But probably not.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

The Awesomeness that is the Chocpumple!

I decided to give the crazy Cherpumple a try, only I don't really like cherry pie so I made a Chocpumple.  It was a HUGE hit at our Thanksgiving dinner and could also be pretty awesome at a Christmas party.  And the pie/cake possibilities are endless.


Here is my Chocpumple.  It is a chocolate French Silk pie "baked" into a white cake, a pumpkin pie baked into a yellow cake, and an apple pie baked into a spice cake. All the layers are stacked up and covered in whipped cream cheese frosting.

Since making one of these is so much work I decided to take a few short cuts and use box cake mix, pre-made pie crust, and a frozen apple pie.

This first layer I decided to tackle was the French Silk white cake layer.   This one was a little tricky since you don't bake French silk pie.  First I baked the pie crust according to the directions on the box and then I made my cake batter, poured a little in a 9 inch cake pan, pushed the baked pie crust in and  tada....


it didn't work.  There wasn't enough weight in the crust so it just rose to the top at the cake baked and then it completely fell apart when I tried to take it out.   SO take two....


I pulled out my trusty 10 inch silicone cake pan, poured a little batter in the bottom, placed then extra pie crust I had baked because I have a feeling I would be needing it, and this time I put a bowl and mug in there to weigh it down.  This worked perfectly!  I also baked just a very thin 10 inch cake to be the top part over the pie.  Since I used silicone and I knew I would be able to easily get the cake out later, I just stuck the cake and crust in the freezer while I made the French silk filling.

Chocolate French Silk Pie

1/4 cup softened butter
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chilled whipping heavy cream

Prepare and bake one 9 inch pie shell; cool.  Heat butter and chocolate in a 2-quart saucepan on low heat until melted.  Remove from heat.  Mix sugar and cornstarch then stir it into the chocolate mixture.  Let it sit while you beat the eggs on medium until thick and stir it into the chocolate mixture.  Cook mixture over medium heat for 5 minutes, stiring constantly, until thick and glossy.  Don't skimp on this step!  at least 5 minutes if you don't you filling will not set up as well.  I got a little distracted by this..

and this time my filling didn't set up at well as it has before.

Once your 5 mins are up, stir in the vanilla and let it cool for 10 mins, stirring occasionally.  While it is cooling beat whipping cream in a chilled bowl.  Fold it into the mixture and pour into pie shell.  Cover and freeze about 4 hours.  After about 2 hours I put the little cake I made on top of the pie/cake.

I forgot to take a picture, but this is what the pie should look like, just imagine in a cake.

So next to made a pumpkin pie according to the directions on the pumpkin can.   Once the pie was cooked and cooled a little I put a little yellow cake mix in the bottom of the cake pan, placed the pie in there, and then poured cake mix on top and around the cake. Then I baked it like normal.  I forgot to take pictures, but I know you can do it with out them.
I used my silicone pan again so once it was out and cooled I put it in the freezer to freeze while the apple pie was baking.  I repeated the same process again with the apple pie and spice cake.

Once all the layers were in the freezer I made the whipped cream cheese frosting.  For enough frosting to frost this monster cake you will want about a cup of heavy whipping cream, two 8 oz things of softened cream cheese, and about 3 lbs of powder sugar.  I made this recipe up and I didn't pay to close of attention of exact amounts.  First I whipped the cream.  Funny story it was the night before Thanksgiving and about 10 o'clock at night and I was just whipping cream and my stupid little hand mixer DIED!!!  I was like "NOOOOOOOO!"   I have never had the joy of owning a nice mixer and I tend to kill them often.  I think it is because I do a lot of baking and always buy the cheapest mixer possible.  I have dreams of owning a nice mixer, but so far in my life that has always been a dream.  Anyway here I was the night before Thanksgiving.  Tons to do that I needed a mixer for and I had no mixer.  So I made my hubby go borrow a mixer from his mom and a little while later I was back in business.

So whip the cream until stiff, add the softened cream cheese, beat them together, and slowly add the sugar until you get a consistency and taste that you want.  It will be at least 2 lbs of powder sugar.

It is easier to work with the cake when it is frozen, but you don't want it frozen when it is served to plan accordingly.

Take your three layers and stack them up.


Then frost the whole thing.  I put the Chocolate French silk layer on bottom.  I would suggest not doing that.  


This really opened me up to a whole new world of possibilities.  Like a strawberry rhubarb pie baked into a white cake covered in whipped vanilla frosting.  YUM.

I discovered you can also do this with cupcakes and it is really good and fun.  I have a post coming with more on that.

Here is one more look at the awesomeness.








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