Monday, July 26, 2010

See mom, I told you she would fit!

Is the sentence I heard, accompanied by the ominous rolling of wheels. I whirled around knowing what I would find.


You see, I made the mistake of using, "she wouldn't fit" as my excuse as to why Scout couldn't roll her sister around in that tiny wagon. I should have known that Scout wouldn't take that -not as a challenge exactly- more like a logical "Oh, I bet she would--- see!"

This all started last night while I was making dinner. Elles enjoys a good rock in her car seat more then many other things life. She has pretty much out grown her bouncy seat, but enjoys using her legs to well, do ANYTHING, so when she finds herself on a flat surface in her car seat, she gets that thing swinging like I have never seen the likes of. To take it a step further (and to give Scout ideas last night) when she is on our wood floor and rocking, if you turn your head for a few minutes, she will likely have rocked herself into the next room. So we were doing this routine last night while I was making dinner and Scout soon came up with the idea to pull Elles around by the strap that tightens the other straps and is always hanging down (and is Elles favorite thing to suck/play with while confined in the car seat). Now I know this doesn't sound like a fully well advised activity for a few reasons one of them being that there are probably safer activities for two little girls to do (with one participant a fairly helpless baby- the other a rambunctious 5 year old). But in my defense, I made Scout go slow and Elles had all her safety harnesses latched up, and I would have stopped it right away if Elles hadn't been laughing so hard. She had a blast, so right or wrong I let it go on for a little while.
So anyway, when we got up this morning, it's what Scout wanted to do (it's called "paddle boat rides" for the record). I relented and strapped Elles in the seat and got on the computer. After a few minutes, Scout must have come across that blue wagon and had a great idea. You know the rest......................

Sorry the pictures are so bad, but I grabbed the camera fast and was only willing to take a couple fast snapshots before rescuing the little trooper.

Scout and I came up with a compromise that worked for all involved:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My 4th of July Journal

Thursday, July 1st:
Arrive in Wyoming with my fam and sister Sue.
Good food.

Bed by 4:30 am.

Friday, July 2nd:
Saw the rest of the Utah fam arrive midday.



First order of business- Fireworks. I come from a family of pyros. Maybe that's why they ended up in a state that sells the best and scariest fireworks you can find? Luckily, to make it even better, my sister and her fam live just barely out of city limits- this means that even the fireworks that may be illegal to light, are legal to light at their house.

Daddy and cookie protecting the baby.

This is Milo. Milo is old. Milo is deaf. Milo comes alive these days but once a year. That day is the 4th of July. He is so cute and funny to watch. He gets as close as possible to them and barks his old man bark in delight. Then he barks at the neighbor's fireworks.
Dog pyro.

Must be a particularly loud firework judging from everyone's reactions (especially the babies). I include my reaction. I may look blase about it, but I suspect I am being momma bear checking to make sure the cub is protected adequately by papa bear.
(Zero in on this picture (click it). Allison (the baby on the right) looks terrified for her life! (Yet so cute). She grew to love them.)

The pyros running for cover

This is the original pyro--- Too cool to run? Unflappable? Too old? You decide.

Later that night...............

2nd order of business: Upholding the tradition of seeing the next Twilight movie with the fam. Happy to report it is MUCH better then the others. Hooray for that! We were left wondering however why the guy with the individually wrapped Sun Chips stayed home. We missed you dude. Ah well, maybe we'll catch you next time at Breaking Dawn. And who gave the theater permission to fix that really loud generator so it was whisper quiet?

When I got home I was greeted with the cutest sight I have
seen in a long time...
Ok, seriously-- how cute is my little family?

When I said "movie with the fam" that did not include Rob. He wouldn't touch this movie with a ten foot movie ticket.

Good food. Games.

Bed by 4 am.

Saturday, July 3rd:
Up early: White water rafting. Map of our route painted on the sidewalk. Pugh Waves was spotted.

Scout is helpfully pointing that out.

Let us all forget that I walked onto the bus with my helmet on backwards saying, (loudly) "these helmets are really uncomfortable".

Here is a pic of my boat and crew.
Look at Matt. (click it for full effect)

Boat and crew #2.

As you can see, the scenery wasn't pretty at all.

This wasn't my boat.
I think that one might have got them wet.

This was a serious blast. Thanks to Amy and Scott for orchestrating it. Thanks again to Amy for watching my girls and sacrificing hitting the rapids (for a second time in 3 weeks).

Thermopolis after wards for lunch and bridge swinging.

Our attempt at recreating this pic taken about 6 years earlier in the same spot:

Except this time we weren't all rivery nasty.

6 of my 7 siblings together. Missed Ben this trip. We'll just have to all get together again.
Darn it.

My Bean.

Back in one piece. Some went fishing.

Rob caught the catch of the day:I'm not being sarcastic here. He is the only one that got a bite.
Way to go babe!

Off to the local fireworks show. You might think a local fireworks show in a small town in Wyoming with homemade fireworks done by a dentist (by trade) sounds laughable. Not so. The is one of the most spectacular fireworks shows I have ever seen. This guy makes some seriously cool fireworks set to music. Never mind the ash rain shower.
Just one person from the group got a burn mark on her clothes.
Just one with hot ash in her eye.
Wyoming and fireworks: awesome combo.

Good food.


Bed by 3 am or so (come on! We'd had a big day).

Sunday, July 4th:

We all turned into baby birds. Except for Amy. She be mama bird.

Meep meep meep meep


Rob leaves for Utah. I stay with the kids to leave on Wed with Matt and B.



See The Kids Were All Wright for an explanation of this game. You will thank me later at your next party.

Good food.

Star gazing. Dave brought his awesome telescope and set it up.
Venus: check.
Saturn: check (it really does have rings!).
Star clusters: check.
Jupiter and 3 of it's moons: check.
Saw Jupiter's lines: check.


Thanks Dave.

And Alex doing what?

Bed by............ I don't even want to know. We did see dawn and heard the birds chirping though.

Monday and Tuesday the 5th and 6th:

A Haze of good food, games, hoses, naps, Pixies rock band, Mexican Cokes, fireworks, I believe Amy had to leave us to pick up the kids from the movies during a game and played it on the phone as to not miss a thing. Haha. I LOVE MY FAMILY!!

Wednesday, July 7th:

Yummy sandwiches at yummy Riverton restaurant (for 2nd time that trip... Same sandwich.)
Driving home with Matt and B.
Modest Mouse.
The Moth Podcast.
Little America.
Worst jerky ever.

Home to My Favorite.

Ah man! Where's mamma bird?

Meep meep meep

Pride and Prejudice.




Matt and B drove me home from our Wyoming 4th of July trip (details of that coming in a later post- my goal is tonight). They had a couple of concerts to attend in Utah, so we all arrived on Wed and they stayed until Saturday. We had a lot of fun, including on Sat morning, we got up "early" and decided to hike to the Timpanogos Caves. I hadn't been since I was fairly young and Matt had never been, neither had B, plus Matt was thinking a little exercise and being away from people sounded nice (they'd had enough of people after the free Modest Mouse concert they had attended). It's also very close to my house, so we made a plan of it. In that first pic you can see that Scout was the navigator and had the map. I was really proud of her- she hiked the whole way except for one brief piggyback ride from B when we were close to the top. (She was a baby mountain goat if you were wondering). It's a mile and a half up to the top of the caves and it is a fairly steep hike! Not made any easier with a baby strapped to your back I tell you, but it sure was beautiful the whole time.
Here is one scenic view:
Here are Matt and Elles at the top

Me and Elles

Scout enjoying a snack while waiting for our tour to begin

Peering over the edge

Here's Elles inside the cave
(it is 45 degrees inside the caves year round! It felt WONDERFUL after that hot hike)

This picture makes me laugh!
Elles has like a Sherlock Holmes look on her face.
Or maybe it's blue steel.....

The Bean and Paw Prints Glitter Stars on the way down

B heroically took Elles for the way down and Elle didn't quite make it.

We had a great little outing and all were very glad we did it. The caves really are impressive and really worth seeing. We found out that there is a room in the caves that makes Timp Cave not only a National Park, but a National Monument. It is a room that has these cave growths that are only found in a couple places in the whole world (and only a couple are found when they are indeed found), but at Timp Cave there is a huge room of them. No one knows how they are formed and why they are so incredibly rare and why the heck Timp Cave has a whole room of them. They resemble Stalactites, but they grow squiggly instead of straight. Anyway, that was the feature that impressed me the most. I was also impressed that I live 3 miles from a National Monument. I never knew that (or thought about that).

Matt and B pretty much left directly after we got home. B text me that night with "Matt just said "the days are long when you get up at 9". I told her that she could tell him that was an especially long one. A three hour hike followed by a 6 hour car ride. Eesh.
Good times!

I had to add the pics that Matt took because they are so good*

(*much better then mine)

Look at Elles peeking behind my back!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

my award winning chocolate cake

I entered my city's baking contest during "Cedar Hills Days" about 2 weeks ago and ended up winning 3rd place for my cake. This was kind of a surprise-- to be honest I was expecting my cookies would be the one to place (if I placed at all). The cake is kind of a work in progress, (I don't have it exactly where I want it yet), I didn't start the cake until 11 the night before, so it was very close to being scrapped all together, also- I couldn't find hazelnuts anywhere and I thought they would be very important to a "Hazelnut Cake". I ended up baking it anyway and simply calling it "chocolate cake". Here is the cake and the cookies:The cake looked embarrassing to tell you the truth- it was a little slanted (which happens to me when I put them together at 2 in the morning). Also, the decor left a lot to be desired (especially for someone that has been decorating cakes for a while as I have). Anyway, I entered it even with all my misgivings.
The cookies turned out great. They were exactly how I wanted them. I did get comments from a few of the people that did the taste test that told me that my cookies were their favorite- so perhaps I was in the running for the peoples choice award there. Who knows. Whatever. I was excited to win 3rd place, especially when I opened my envelope on the way home and found an itunes gift card (and Skittles)

Here I am in the paper with the other winners:

I've had some interest about getting the recipe from some people- so why not? Here it is:

Hazelnut Chocolate Cake

(this is my sister's "Deep Dark Chocolate Cake" recipe. Thanks Amy!- You can call it award winning now (you don't have to tell them that it won (3rd place) in a small baking contest in a small town)

2 c. sugar
1 3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 - 1/2 t. baking soda
1 - 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 eggs

1 c. milk

1/2 c. vegetable oil

2 t. vanilla extract
1 c. boiling water

In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients, add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Remove from mixer. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour into 2 9-inch round or a 9 X 13 greased and floured pan. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes for rounds, or 35-40 for 9X13. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing.

Nutella frosting

(this is the work in progress -Amy's cake is excellent- no need
to do a thing with it but bake it and eat it. The frosting started as a recipe I found that had hot fudge in it. I wrote it down because I thought that would be good for an ice cream cake or a cake served with ice cream. I quickly decided to sub the hot fudge with Nutella and the rest is history- I've never made it with the hot fudge). I've tweaked it here and there in addition to the Nutella, but not too much yet- I think it needs something or another before I decide it is exactly what I am looking for.) But this is pretty darn good for now:

1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. shortning
1/3 c. cocoa powder
2 c. powdered sugar
2 T. evaporated milk
1 c. Nutella
1 t. vanilla

Cream butter and shortening. Sift the powder's together and add them with the milk, one tablespoon at a time. Add Nutella and vanilla.

So, frost the cake and here are things I would do to make it yummier and fancy (or you can make it as is and just call it "chocolate cake").

1. I put the rest of the Nutella in a pastry bag (you need 8 oz. for the frosting and it comes in 13 oz. jars). For the contest, I just did a big swirl with it in the middle of the cake (around the bottom is just the frosting in a piping bag).

2. Put about eight or 12 generous dots of Nutella around the cake and put a whole hazlenut in the middle of the dot (that was my master plan before it was thwarted by a lack of hazlenuts in my area).

3. A nice touch might be putting a fancy European hazelnut chocolate in the center such as a Ferrero Rocher.

4. I also thought about crushing hazelnuts in a bag and then putting them along the sides of the cake - kind of like some people do with walnuts and carrot cake.

It all depends on your tastes and how much you like Hazelnuts I guess. I thought adding the straight Nutella was a very yummy, rich addition- so I recommend giving that a go.


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