Monday, February 27, 2012

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think every person has their own definition of the perfect chocolate chip cookie. And there are some recipes I still want to try BUT in the meantime I took my grandpa's recipe and tweaked it based on some internet "helpers". I found MY perfect chocolate chip cookie.

So the perfect recipe:

1 c. butter, melted (being careful not to burn)
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
2 eggs beaten
4 t. vanilla

2 c. flour (all purpose)
2 t. salt
3/4 t. baking soda

2 to 2 1/2 c. chocolate chips

Mix butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla with a cookie paddle on electric mixer on a med speed till mixed then high speed for 3 min.

Add dry ingredients a little at a time, till mixed.

Add chocolate chips and mix with a spoon (a mixer will break your chips)

Place on cookie sheet by spoonfuls.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8 min.

These cookies are crisp on the edges and chewy in the middle. IF you don't want them crisp on the edges you can put the cookie dough in the refrigerator for 24 hours and then DO NOT place cookie dough on a hot cookie sheet between batches.

Never in my life have I found a cookie that is crisp on the edges and chewy in the middle AND still done. Yes, kiddies, it's supposed to be like this.

Now, how did I change this from grandpa's? Well, his had 1 c. white sugar and 1/2 c. brown. I saw another recipe that had them switched and thought I'd try it. Also, I doubled the 2 t. of vanilla. I expected that to taste "odd" but it was just good. And the last thing I changed... he used shortening. I love the added flavor of the butter, not to mention the better taste when you just eat cookie dough.

NOTE: Please don't eat raw cookie dough - there is raw egg in it and this can be a dangerous situation. Personally I've never had issue with it, I suspect about the first time it makes me sick will be the last time I EVER eat raw cookie dough... but some lessons just have to be learned the hard way.

Funny little something... Cheeks decided she wanted some cookie dough. She has decided she likes cookie dough better than cookies. She sounds like cookie monster when she says "cookies". When I made these cookies she went to take some dough and I told her "no there are raw eggs in that, you can't have it." She's not quite two and didn't quite understand that, so I showed her the egg shell with egg still dripping out of it. She made the most disgusted face I have ever seen, screamed "dat ukkky" (that yucky) and ran out of the room. I did not have to scold her about getting into the cookie dough again.

My Thesaurus is my friend...

My dictionary needs to be a close friend too.

This weekend I put a lot of new jewelry up on my Etsy site. Something I don't do real well is coming up with names and descriptions. As I go through I am finding spelling mistakes (firefox has spoiled me but the spell check does not work on all sections of Etsy). I got sick of using the same words for descriptions so I got out the thesaurus... much better. Practice will make that part of jewelry making much easier.

Here is the link: Beading Branches on Etsy

I don't make everything there, a friend and I do this together. We are both trying to earn extra money for separate causes. Take a look, enjoy! Link

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Family

Where better to introduce the family then in my happy place. We have been cleaning and arranging for two days. Finally done. Whew! In all that time however I have laughed a lot. Yes, definitely in my happy place, with the occasional breezes and storms spoken of earlier.

So ^^ there we have in the back (of course) L to R: Me, The Kidd and The King of the castle - the Hubs or the Husband depending on if he is in the dog house or not... usually not though.

In the Front L to R: GIJoe, Little Princess J, Maggie Pants, Shake and Bake, and the baby is Cheeks.

These really are my blessings.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

The Hubs, really was my HS sweetie. He is my best friend and no matter what I do know I can count on him.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

The Kidd is away at school, West Point, he is a Yuk this year. Two more years to go, then he will be an officer and will have a five year obligation to fulfill. His heart has been with the military since about 4 years old. We could not be prouder.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

GIJoe, is the second oldest and still at home for a few years. Getting ready to take his drivers test. He spends a lot of time on a rifle range as he shoots .22 and air rifle. He's doing pretty good with that. As I've stated he has also started Civil Air Patrol.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Little Princess J, is really that, she is soft spoken, and girly girl all the way through. Although this Christmas The Kidd gave her a nerf sword and told her when to use it well. Immediately one of the older boys decided to pick at her and she almost started to complain then looked at the sword in her hand and went to town. THAT was funny. Good thing it was a nerf sword.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Maggie Pants, shoots as well. Same as her brothers before her, and she is starting to come right along with that too. She is a little more of a tomboy, but with two older brothers I don't blame her. She loves riding the ripstick, blades, bikes etc. She can hold her own when GIJoe goes a little too far with the picking on her.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Shake and Bake is our little ball of energy. Stubborn, and ornery, but he's got a heart of gold and I thing some of his temper comes in when he gets his feelings hurt. He's beginning to shoot, and thus far really likes it. It looks like he will stick with the sport as well.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Cheeks, well she got her name because when she started to crawl I told one of the kids "look, it doesn't matter if she's coming or going, all you see is cheeks. She's our chubby little baby girl (well she's almost 2 now so I guess not so much a baby anymore). She is a spit fire and cute as a button, AND funny as heck. She loves to dance, smile, and she has just enough of a mean streak so as not to get run over by the bigger kids.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

And last but not least is Natasha the husky that we acquired when The Kidd called up one day saying "mommy, I love you" to which I answered "what do you want..." Yup the pup.

Guns and Ammo...

After going out the other night on a date with the hubs and shooting the Kidd's Springfield XD 9mm, the Hubs decided I needed my own. Yea me. So Now I have my own. Can't wait to go do some more practicing with it. I am not ultra comfortable handling it just yet but that will come with practice.

So here's the deal. A couple of years ago I researched and studied and when I thought I was good and ready I went out and bought a gun. A Taurus .38 hammerless. I loved the way it felt in my hand. I thought I had the perfect gun... then we went to shoot it. I learned that my fingers are weak. I can't shoot the thing.

Important tip... even if you don't think it is important (like I did) GO SHOOT a few guns before buying. Fortunately the Hubs likes my .38 ok, and in our house there is no such thing as "shouldn't have" when it comes to guns. I am very glad to have learned my lesson, and to have gotten yet another handgun.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

No Artificial Lights - Day One

Day one of living by living by candle light (ok only two days a week, but this will be day one) will be underway shortly. As the sun begins to go away. Candles are out, hopefully enough of them, and matches are found.

One small, or not so small problem, there is a HUGE mess of stuff in my living room and dining room from the girls room. Dad decided (and rightly so) that there was just no way the girls were going to get their room clean the way it was. He asked them to get all the stuff out of their room. OMGoodness! There was more junk in there than either of us could have imagined. So today I spend the entire day organizing the furniture in the room. We took the bunk bed, which they had separated and we set them next to each other, stuffed some stuffing between the beds and made it as if it were one big bed, this solved two problems. 1. The two older girls were sharing a bed anyway, because the Little Princess J does not like sleeping by herself. 2. Cheeks really needs to start sleeping in a bed that is not mine. And 3. It makes more room. We re-purposed one of the dressers into a baby doll dresser, bed . All the baby dolls and clothes and accessories are in a dresser
(btw that creeped me out just a bit, it reminded me of stories of REAL babies being put in dresser drawers to sleep). More room made. We threw a couple of well placed blankets and pillows on top of that dresser and low and behold we have a reading nook, with one small drawer for a journal and pencils etc. Sharpshooter Princess M is thrilled. Books are out on shelves, and organized. The cabinet we had some of the books in (thrown in) is now a closet for GIJoe's CAP stuff and more "older boy" stuff so little fingers will not get hurt. All looks wonderful in the room. Now to gather the piles on the outside and decide what to keep, what to toss and what to give away... by candle light of course. Cooking by candle light - that ought to be interesting too. Now I'm out of here to get some major work done. No netflix tonight... I don't think I thought this through really well. I'm saving this as a draft and will let you know how that turns out.

And how it turned out: dishes and dinner MUST be done before dark. Little Princess J, Shake and Bake, Cheeks and I sat and told trailing stories, where one of us start the story and the others add to it. That was fun, the older kids were jealous... just a bit, when they got home and heard about the fun.

All in all I wanted to give up when it came to dinner and dishes, but aside from using lights for a couple of things (like changing a diaper) we did great. It's just lights, we had candles, and it amazed me by the end of the night that I thought it was such a pain. LOL <

Not So Happy Place...

Last night winds got as high as 90 MPH. The roar woke me up. Let me tell ya, I grew up in Wyoming and NEVER had the wind scare me... till Last nights Colorado wind storm. I was thinking, will we have a roof? And the little rain/snow that came with it sounded like nails hitting the house.

So, what? Well, while I was laying there listening for signs of the house falling apart I started to think about lent, and what that was all about. You see yesterday was Ash Wednesday and I was feeling pretty low because we had chaos in the house and I did not go to church. The chaos was ridiculous, and unnecessary. Little bits of disrespect have been blowing around the house like a steady breeze lately. Yesterday, it built into an all out windstorm. The wind last night was very close to the chaos that was here. Fitting.

We have 40 days to come up with a plan of action. We are not called to sacrifice much, Jesus has done that for us. We are called to come closer to Him through sacrifice and change. Coming closer to Him will bring us closer as a family. We have a good, strong family already - chaos is inevitable with 7 people in a small house. But, the storm that came through yesterday was not inevitable, nor was it proper, and definitely not acceptable.

My plans for Lent have not changed completely, I will keep my no FB policy, as well as the no artificial lights two nights a week. But there will be a stronger focus on family and prayer then I had first intended, and I'm guessing God had a hand in helping me to figure that out. Yet one more example of how I am a stubborn child of God and now and then He must smack me upside the head to get me to listen. A firm, loving, windy smack upside the head.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Favorite Lenten Recipes a different perspective

I don't just have "favorite" lenten recipes. Because my cooking is simple lent tends to be a season of "non-favorites" instead. Here are a couple of easy and inexpensive recipes that are Lenten worthy:

Tuna and Noodles
2 cans cream of celery soup
1 can of milk
1 can peas
2 cans of tuna
Cooked noodles for 7

Heat soup, milk, peas and tuna in a sauce pan.
Pour over noodles and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

For a different texture use rice instead of noodles.

Mac and cheese

1 lg block Velveeta cheese
2 cans evaporated milk
Cooked noodles for 7

Heat cheese and milk in a double boiler or microwave until smooth.
Pour over noodles, mix well.

You can add to this depending on taste. Some suggestions are:
Super chunky salsa
Parmesan cheese

Use your imagination...

Remember that part of Lent is to sacrifice to fill the rice bowls at church. These meals, while simple and not the most satisfying will help in that area. They are probably the two most inexpensive meals I make. For our family of 7 these meals cost on average of 1.25 per person.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Civil Air Patrol

Today we got the official paperwork for GIJoe's new adventure. He's decided to give CAP a try and so far he loves it. After getting his ID# and other items he feels ready to test already. He did have a leg up since he'd been around and in Young Marines for a while. CAP is more relaxed on the kids (to some degree), but they seem to be in line for a great number of responsibilities. So... the adventure begins. Guess we will see where this leads him. In the meantime you know the littles always have to try on the new hats in the house. This time it was Cheeks that put it on... yup she's cute in that too.

His first "official" night of drill they did some safety training. It was so much fun watching those kids.

Can't wait to see what else transpires from this. There are plenty of opportunities. It's up to him to take advantage of them and work for the ranks etc.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My happy place includes ... Green Chili

The husband makes some killer green chili. We often have Indian tacos or put it over hash browns and eggs. Green chili really goes with everything really. Every year we go to a little place here and get fresh peppers. Last year we got one bushel and roasted them ourselves. Those were a medium heat chili and on the mild side because of the weather while they were growing. This year we got two bushels, had the grower roast them. These chilies are dynamites. and on the burn your butt scale about a 9. That's hot. The first chili we made from it was really hot... like you can't even taste after the first bite, hot. I like my food hot but that was too much. The next batch... it was ok... but still a bit too hot for me. I wonder what today's batch is going to be like, he's doubled the batch, and just gotten it to simmer.... my nose is burning and my eyes are watering and I have not even touched it, but boy it smells wonderful. :)

At mass this morning Deacon Bill said something that kind of stuck with me. Not that it was really THAT profound, but it stuck anyway. Why do we go to mass? Why do we go to adoration? Why do we congregate together to worship? Why did the paralytic's friends go through the trouble of lowering their friend through the roof while Jesus was there? It is to get closer to Jesus... all of those things we do we do to get closer to Jesus. I know, duh right? Still it was good to hear. Just like it was good to hear that we should have peace. Peace in our homes, in our work, in our hearts, between siblings... Yup good food and good food for thought. Today really is a good day.

Date night

Hubby surprised me yesterday with a date to the shooting range. I shot the Kidd's Springfield XD 9mm. I did pretty good. Ok they are not all in the black, BUT put it up against a chest and it shows I'd hold my own if I ever had to defend myself. Still more practice is needed.

So, I think I like this one for personal protection. I have a Taurus .38 revolver, but I can't seem to get comfortable with it. I like the way it feels in my hand but shooting the thing is another story. This one I can hold AND shoot. I put about 90 rounds through it yesterday, and felt really good about it. I played with my position till I got something I was comfortable with ... well kind of. I still want to put my right leg behind me instead of side by side, just my quirk.

I think I'll do a lot more practicing of my 2nd amendment rights. I kinda think I like it.

For the second half of our date we went out to eat. He kinda does know how to treat a lady. Guns and ribs for dinner... :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

New Techniques: Take One! Crocheted Wire

What's that you say? Crocheted wire? Well, that's what I thought. And to begin with I used what I had, which was some bent up black, 26 gauge wire and a size H hook.

I took the wire, about 5 feet of it, and added some random crystals and glass beads I had laying around. The crochet part is pretty easy, you just do a chain stitch. Easy? Did I say that? I don't crochet, because I find it very difficult to keep the stitches the same size. It's more difficult with wire. I didn't do a good job of it, but funny enough I still like the effect. As I did the chain stitch I took a bead every few stitches and brought it in to the stitch. I added the toggle clasp and went back into my previous ending with a second chain row. That turned into a hot mess, but something else I learned was that the messier it looks the better. Ok, now this is my kind of project...

A couple of other things I learned: the wire would be easier if it were not bent up, and the hook is a bit too big. It also needs a heavier pendent at the bottom to weigh it down. This necklace is 30" long and light.

Now for the results, pardon the photography, I was in a hurry to share AND photography is just not my talent.

I took it and doubled it. You'd have to have a pretty small neck for this, but I think it looks beautiful either way.

Here is a close up so you can see just how out of whack my "stitches" are. Like I said, it did turn out very well anyway.

New beginnings...

I've been having fun, and working. Fun on Facebook, working on beading and teaching, and growing. So Wednesday is the beginning of Lent. And normally I just do the same 'ol get rid of meat on Friday, and try to be nicer... etc... but this year we are going to try something more serious than giving up chocolate.

Speaking of Facebook, a neat post came across my wall. The author was discussing how last year they had given up artificial light one night a week. Hmmm. Ok, I'm game but I'm not so sure about the husband... easy fix. If he is willing he can join in, but if he's not I can still do this when he takes GIJoe shooting, when they get home I can go to bed. There are two more things I need to do this Lenten Season that I think might have a great effect on my life. 1st Confession... a really good confession. I have not done that in a while. 2nd Give up Facebook. Yes, my obsession. I find I am getting angry about all the political stuff that comes across my wall every few minutes. I need to get a clear head on things. Yes, this is an important election year, but really I am not going to solve anything myself... much less do it in 40 days. It will be there when I get back.

So three Lenten sacrifices. Lights twice a week, Facebook, and Politics. And a promise - Confession. With that there are a few things I think I will do that will be fun. Game night, once a week with the kids. Learn a few new techniques in my beading. And work on making my marriage even stronger.

** The picture above is of a tree of life I made, my first. As soon as I figure out what I want use as a necklace for it I'll be excited to say it's finished.