Why I Blog

Note to the reader: This is a rather long discourse.

Since we still have a lot of Halloween candy, Emma and I have started doing occasional treasure hunts with two pieces of candy as the treasure. Emma gets one and Ashlyn gets one. Last night, Ashlyn was enjoying eating her Nerds out of a bowl and I looked at her and saw this amazing little person who is growing far too fast. I looked at her curly pigtails and watched her eat tiny Nerds with incredible precision and I had a brief glimpse of how short her childhood really will be. For a second I thought, "I should take a picture." Then it occurred to me that I could actually share such a moment with friends and family, not to mention posterity if I preserve this blog correctly.

Blogging has opened a new world for me. As a teenager I use to write in my journal every night. I have books of journal entrys. I'll admit that there's nothing remarkable about those journals, but I have them. For some reason, when I met Nick I stopped writing. I have maybe a dozen entrees from the last 7 1/2 years. It's pathetic. Blogging, however, has allowed me to capture memories in a new way and for a new audience. Now I get to write about the fun experiences we have as a family, the small moments of note, and the things that make our lives tick. I also get to post pictures that represent those times. As you've likely noticed, I also post recipes. Right now, as a mother of young children, I cook often. Creating food is what I do, so I post recipes. They represent us as well.

I also love the fact that I'm not the only one reads this. My audience is different, therefore my writing is different. When I write on my blog, I tend to share the things that I want to remember. There will likely be times when I am down or frustrated and need to write about my troubles, but so far, my posts have allowed me to focus on the good side of things. They have helped me focus on how fun my kids are by my sharing the fun things they do. I love it. I need more things in my life that make me optimistic. There are far too many things that work on me in the opposite direction.

Anyways, there's a bit of my brain. For those of you who actually read this entire thing, you may know me a bit better now, or you may be afraid of reading future posts. Either way, thanks for being a part of my life. I post a lot of these things to stay in touch with you. You all impact me in such great ways. Thanks.


Accomplishments, Disappointments, and Nakedness

Hurray! This baby blanket is finished. I had Nick's sister Lacee choose a blanket for me to make for her as soon as we found out she was having a boy. Well, I'm a very slow knitter, so even though he's two months old, I've just finished it. To my credit though, he was born 7 weeks early. This turned out to be quite the project, but I loved doing it. I love being finished with it that much more. I hope baby Carson enjoys it. It's trimmed with satin ribbons and backed with minky.

On a sad note, I received a letter from ISU the other day telling me that all part-time teachers are being relieved of their classes next semester due to budget problems. I'm so disappointed. I love teaching. Maybe something will happen, but I rather doubt it. My only chance is that I was scheduled to teach online and it was the only ENGL 101 online course being offered next semester. I should know by the end of the week. Wish me luck.

Now for the comical note. We woke up to a naked baby the other morning. I am now a firm believer in those nice little tabs on pajamas that snap over the zipper. Ashlyn was incredibly disappointed when Nick caught her and got her dressed. Sigh. Being 1 and naked must be the best. I've opted to keep her bare bum off the internet, so I'm not sharing a picture, but here's for snapping tabs!

Chicken Noodle Soup

This is the yummiest soup from my mom's kitchen. I love it every time. If I don't have time to make noodles from scratch, frozen noodles work fine, too, but aren't quite as tasty. I like to double the noodle recipe and freeze half of them for next time. Some times for extra liquid, I add a can of chicken broth. This soup goes well with the potato roll recipe posted below.

6 c water
2 heaping T chicken base
1/4 scant tsp thyme
1 onion chopped
3 carrots, sliced
1 c frozen peas
1 c water plus 1 1/2 T flour (mixed to thicken)
3 celery stalks, sliced
1 T salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces
1 can mushrooms

In a large pot, bring water and chicken to a boil. Add additional ingredients. Bring to a boil. Add noodles and boil for 12-15 minutes.

1/2 tsp salt
1 c flour
1 egg
2 T milk

Measure flour into a bowl. Make a well at center. Add egg and salt. With hands mix well. Add milk 1 T at a time. Mix thoroughly each time. Form dough into a ball. Knead on a well-floured cloth about 10 min until smooth and elastic. Cover and let rest. Roll 1/2 of dough paper thin. Cut into 1/4 inch strips. Shake out. Repeat with other half. If desired, dry for 2 hours before adding to soup.

Potato Rolls

This is one of my favorite recipes from my mother-in-law. One of my favorite memories is from when she taught me how to make them. We like to double the recipe and still make 24 rolls. They make for some large, delicious rolls. Also, they work well with 50/50 wheat/white flour and for a time-saver, use re-hydrated potato pearls or potato flakes to make your mashed potatoes and scald your milk in the microwave on 70% power.

2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
1/4 c warm water
1/2 c hut mashed potatoes
1/4 c shortening
1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 c milk, scalded
1 egg
4-4 1/2 c flour

Soften yeast in warm water (110 degrees). Combine potatoes, shortening, sugar, salt, and hot milk. Cool to lukewarm.

Add softened yeast and eggs. Stir in 2 c flour; beat well. Stir in remaining flour to make a soft dough. Kneed on lightly floured surface until smooth (6-8 min). Cover. Let rise until double its size. Punch down. Shape into balls, dip in melted butter, and place on baking sheet. Let rise until double its size again (about 1 hour). Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Makes 2 dozen.


Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Perfect for any chocolate lover. These literally melt in your mouth. I often like to use Andes mint pieces from WalMart in place of the chocolate chips, and if I don't have time, I don't refrigerate the dough like the recipe suggests.

1 1/4 c butter or margarine, softened
2 1/4 c confectioners' sugar
1/3 c baking cocoa
1/4 c sour cream
1 T vanilla
2 1/4 c flour
2 c (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 c chocolate sprinkles

In a mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar and cocoa until light and fluffy. Beat in sour cream and vanilla. Add flour; mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Refrigerate for 1 hr. Roll into 1-in balls; dip in chocolate sprinkles. Place, sprinkled side up, 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes or until set. Cool 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 5 1/2 dozen.


Happy 30th Birthday Nick

Sunday was Nick's birthday. Kids sure make birthdays more fun. From the minute Emma woke up she reveled in Dad's birthday. It was really fun. We made him a candy bar bouquet and took it to him at work Friday. Thanks Sarah R. for picking out and sending the bottle. It was great. The girls and I had so much fun making our bouquet, and Nick really enjoyed it (and is still enjoying it). Thanks Jadi for sharing the idea.

Food is one of our birthday favorites, so we celebrated Nick by eating well. The recipes below are those we made Sunday. What can I say, the Charles family loves to eat.

30 Reasons We Love Nick AKA Daddy (in no specific order)

1. Humorous
2. Hard working
3. Can fix anything
4. Can make anything
5. Cooks a fantastic lasagna (see #4)
6. Knows how to find a deal
7. Loves to ski
8. Loves to backpack
9. Always willing to change a diaper
10. Never hesitates to jump in when I've had it
11. Honors his Priesthood
12. Encourages me to learn
13. Gives the best hugs
14. Reads books with me
15. Puts up with my knitting, quilting, and card-making
16. Eats what I cook (even if it has mushrooms)
17. Plays with and loves the girls

18. Has incredibly ticklish feet (his one weakness)
19. Loves to go on family vacations
20. Makes incredible family movies
21. Puts family first
22. Takes care of honey-dos before I think of them
23. Loves chocolate (it's a fun fact)
24. He knows amazing, and often odd, facts
25. Is patient
26. Eager to learn everything
27. Keeps up with and shares current events
28. Scrubs the bathtub (my least favorite job)
29. Never leaves a job half-done if he can help it
30. Climbs a new mountain every year


Monkey Bread

We love this for breakfast. It's an easy breakfast to prepare the night before, and it tastes amazing. Sorry. No picture. It was eaten too quickly.

24 frozen rolls
1/2 c brown sugar
1 3.5 oz box of butterscotch pudding (cook)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c chopped nuts
1/4 c butter, melted

Grease and flour a bundt pan. Place rolls in pan. Sprinkle dry ingredients over rolls. Pour melted butter over rolls. Cover and let rise over night. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes then dump out of pan.

Penne a la Betsy

I found this recipe on thepioneerwoman.com. While I was a bit leery right up until the first bite, if you like shrimp, this recipe is amazing. It made for a great birthday dinner. Even the girls enjoyed it.

1 lb extra large shrimp
3/4 lb penne pasta
olive oil
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 c white whine (or chicken broth)
8 oz tomato sauce
1 c heavy cream (or evaporated milk)
fresh parsley
fresh basil
salt and paper

Cook the penne pasta until tender-firm, also known as al dente.

Peel, devein, and rinse (under cool water) shrimp. Heat 1 T butter and oil in a skillet. Add the shrimp and cook for a couple of minutes until just opaque. Do not overcook. Remove shrimp to a plate and let cool for a few minutes. Finely dice one small onion. Mince two cloves of garlic.

In a large skillet heat 2 T butter and 2 T oil. Add the garlic and onion and saute, stirring occasionally. Now, put the cooked shrimp on the cutting board and pull off the tails. Chop the shrimp into bite-sized pieces and set aside. After the garlic and onions have cooked a bit add your white wine. Let the white evaporate for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

Next add tomato sauce. Stir well until combined. Add heavy cream. Continue stirring. Turn heat down and simmer while you chop herbs. Add 1 T each parsley and basil.

Add chopped shrimp and herbs to sauce. Stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finally, combine sauce with pasta and ENJOY!

Brownie Torte

This has become a family favorite. It's easy to make and always delicious. Usually you top this with whipped cream and summer fruit, but I added a strawberry sauce with ice cream.

3/4 c sugar
6 T butter
1 T water
1 1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2/3 c flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Combine sugar, butter, and water in small, heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Add 3/4 c chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add flour, baking soda, and salt; stir until well blended. Stir in remaining chocolate chips. Pour into waxed paper-lined and greased 9-inch-round cake pan.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick test comes out slightly sticky. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Invert onto wire rack; remove waxed paper. Turn right side up; cool completely. Top with desired topping. Chill. Makes 8 to 10 servings.



What do you do with a one-year-old? Love her, love her, and laugh with her. This photo is definitely one for the blackmail file.