Mar 31, 2011

Chill, Baby. Just Chill.

News Flash: Summer is almost here. For those of you living in Arizona, you know what this means; all the old people are (finally) leaving and we can navigate Costco without being run over by a Jazzy.Jazzy 1170 XL Plus

Also, it's about to get very, very hot. 
Because I love y'all, I've compiled a list of creative and innovative ways to stay cool when you just can't ask any more of your A/C unit(s).

  1. Clean your refrigerator. I know you're thinking I've confused this list with a list of things to do before your in-laws come to dinner, but I'm totally serious. It's 4pm and you just can't take the heat anymore. Because it's only 4pm, the heat index still has 5-10 degrees before apex and surely, you will melt before then. What better way to beat the heat than to stand in your open fridge and wipe that crusty spot under the milk carton? For an added level of fun, you can open the Tupperware that's been lurking on the back shelf since 1983, back when people actually bought Tupperware™. 
  2. If it's really hot, say late July, your pregnant AND we've had a record high, you could defrost your deep freeze. Give the kids the Popsicles you bought last year and forgot about, because lets be honest, how often do you make it to the bottom of the deep freeze? Cook up the steaks on top and move everything else to an ice chest. When the deep freeze is nice and empty, unplug that bad boy and just crawl inside. The unit will be defrosted in no time, owing the heat emanating from your slightly charred, Arizona-in-July-body. 
  3. A list can be two things! Quit being greedy. I've got to save some of my innovative ideas for the patent office. 
If neither of those things does it for you, here are some more normal ways to stay cool during the Arizona Summer: 

  1. Make friends with lots of nice people who happen to have pools in their backyards
  2. Take a nap on the tile floor
  3. Get some more fans, turn them on
  4. Eat Popsicles
  5. Or ice
  6. Or ice cream
  7. Or frozen steak 
  8. Move to somewhere that is not Arizona. 
We tried #8 last summer, and not only did we escape Arizona in July, I got educated, as well. Talk about your win/win. The only downside was the city pool was so cold during swimming lessons, the kids turned blue half way through the lesson. Wait, did I just say a cold pool was a down side????
This post has been brought to you by: A very hot IdahoBecky.

Mar 30, 2011

Momma's Carrot Cake

My Momma makes a mean carrot cake. It's so good, people at work request it often. Like, monthly.
If you've only ever had a boxed carrot cake, or a store carrot cake, somebody should seriously put you out of your misery now and bake you a REAL carrot cake. Or shoot you. You're choice.
I know! YOU could bake a real carrot cake! Here's how:

Cream Together:
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup oil
    then add:
3 eggs, beat to incorporate
    then add:
3 cups finely grated carrots (about 3/4 lb.)
    mix in:
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

Mix until combined. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes in a 9x13 or one hour in a Bundt pan or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Frost with cream cheese frosting.
Here it is, complete with melting whipped cream. Oops. 
I toasted some coconut for the sides and crumbled leftover cheesecake and walnuts on top. 
YUMM-O! And also, I really need to stop letting The Hubs take food pictures. Ferills. 

Mar 29, 2011

I Need A Muu Muu

My in-laws just got back from 10 days cruising the islands. Laying aside the fact that I'm insanely jealous of:
a. the trip
b. the time away from Arizona
let's focus on what's important here.

My (amazingly awesome) mother-in-law brought back this ADORABLE muu muu for Zsa Zsa.
I want one. I want this one, actually. I want it so bad I've honestly considered losing 125lbs and 3 feet so I can fit into it. Alternately, I've been thinking up designs for a human shrink-ray. But then I remembered that were I three feet shorter, I could no longer drive my kiddos to the zoo or museums. Also, I would need a new bike.
And so I'm thinking maybe my reward for losing the next 10 pounds will be an authentic, Hilo Hattie's adult size muu muu. Wouldn't that be wonderfully ironic?

Mar 28, 2011

Lemon Berry Cupcakes

A super yummy treat I invented out of necessity. (It's what I had on hand and could do in the time I had to bake.)
Sorry I don't have a picture of the middle. 
I was busy holding a newborn and The Hubs was standing in as cellphone camera operator. 

One box strawberry cake, prepared as per box instructions Stay with me. Y'all know I do not ever start a recipe with boxed anything, much less keep boxed cake mix on hand, but I had this left over from another project and was in a time crunch. These turned out so delicious I had to share!

Add the zest from one lemon
Small dollop of heavy cream or larger dollop of whipped cream
1-2 Tsp fresh lemon juice (judge it based on how thin your batter is getting)

Bake in lined muffin tins as instructed.


1 stick butter
1 stick margarine (again, not a normal ingredient for me, but I'm broke this week!)
beat the living tar out of the butter/marg. until it's nice and fluffy the add:
3 1/2 cups non-sifted (or 4 cups sifted) powdered sugar (it's a pound of powdered sugar)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice
zest from one lemon, finely grated
dollop of cream to smooth it out a bit if it's a tad grainy
Then fold in 1/4 cup blueberry puree. 
I did not know this, but blueberries totally gel. 
Frost cakes and top with a blackberry. 
When I made these, I added the blueberry before I knew the frosting was grainy, so the blueberries were more incorporated than I would have wished due to the extra mixing. 
I hope your family likes them as much as mine did. 

Mar 26, 2011

Confessions of a Caulkaholic

I have a confession: I like to caulk.
I don't mean, if there's caulking to be done I'd be happy to do it. I mean, I actively seek out caulking opportunities.
    example: "Hey look! The neighbors we don't know are getting new counter tops! I think I'll go over with my sparkley bedazzled caulking gun and see if the workmen need any help."

See? I need an intervention.

Today The Hubs was nagged to death decided to install our new bathroom sink. There is caulking involved. I did not know about the caulking until The Hubs emerged from the construction zone formerly known as the master bath, bedazzled gun in hand asking: "Do we have caulk?"
Would you like clear or white? Paintable? The kind that causes cancer but works really well or the new all natural stuff they only sell in California because it's made from "renewable resources" like liberals and Charlie Sheen TV appearances? The Hubs had no idea half our life savings is sitting in the hall closet in the form of caulk.

Needless to say, when The Hubs mentioned he didn't really know how to use a caulking gun, I was happy to help him out.
I caulked the sink...and the back splash...and the shower...and the kitchen counters...and the other bath....what? Like I'm going to waste an entire tube of caulk? Seriously, people. I need help. Lots of padded room and white jacket help.

note: This has been a work of fiction, based loosely on fact. 

Mar 24, 2011

Master Bath Update

The Great Master Bath Gender Reassignment has been underway for at least a month now. I would like to say this is because we are doing things as we can pay cash for them, but that's really just a nice way of saying The Hubs and I suffer from cheapbastarditis. Also, we are lazy.

But not so lazy that we would, you know, actually hire a plumber to do the plumbing. See above medical condition.

Which brings me to my story for the day. Yesterday I bought new sink fixtures. They are pretty. I'm assuming they are functional, when installed by someone who knows what the heck plumbers tape is and where to find it in Home Depot.
At 10pm (our normal bedtime) I looked at The Hubs and said, "Hey! Lets go install one of those sinks so I can quit washing my hands in the bath tub. I'm too lazy to bend over any more to wash." I was joking, of course. Sort of.

This is the point at which The Hubs and I both forgot neither of us are plumbers. The Hubs "turned off the water" and proceeded to unscrew some stuff that looked important. At which point IT happened.

Have you ever been to Yellowstone?
Old Faithful Geyser
We don't need to go again, because any time we want to re-experience the geysers, we can just try to plumb something.

An hour and a full closet of towels later, we still have two non-functional sinks, but one of them is MUCH prettier.

And I was SO proud of The Hubs for keeping his plumber's crack covered through the entire affair, but now that I think on it, maybe plumber's crack is what makes one a plumber.

Ah well. Now I'm off to Home Depot again for plumber's tape, and maybe I'll see if they have a deal on cracks and pick up a pair.

The Cheesecake

Here are the recipes for cheesecake from earlier this week. The Carrot Cake deserves it's own post. Both are amazing, if you can manage not to overcook the carrot cake. I did not, and so when I layered the two cakes, it tasted like cheesecake heaven sandwiched between two layers of overdone despair.
I totally stole this recipe from off the interweb, but I can't remember from where, so sorry for not siting the original. It's now just a word.doc on my hard drive.

Bon Apetit!

Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake Recipe
**if you prefer a crust without nuts, the recipe for the no-nuts crust is at the end of this recipe**
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
3/4 cup finely chopped vanilla wafers
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 lbs cream cheese
1 1/3 cups sugar
5 large eggs
16 ounces sour cream
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Crust Directions:
1. Mix all nuts and vanilla wafer crumbs with melted butter and press into a 9 inch buttered springform pan, trying to line the sides as much as possible about 1 1/2" up the sides of the pan, set aside.
Cheesecake Directions:
1. All the filling ingredients should be at room temperature.
2. Beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy with an electric mixer set on low (keep the setting at low during the entire mixing process).
3. Add the sugar a little at a time and continue beating until creamy.
4. Add one egg at a time and beat after each egg.
5. Add flour, vanilla and lemon juice, mix well.
6. Add the sour cream and beat well.
7. Pour cream cheese mixture into the springform pan.
8. Place on the top rack in the middle of a 325 degree F preheated oven for one hour and 15 minutes.
9. When time is up turn oven off, prop open oven door and leave in oven for one hour.
10. Remove from oven and let cool then refrigerate for 24 hours.
11. Remember this important tip : A cheesecake should season. The wait is worth it. The flavor ripens and becomes enriched.

Mar 21, 2011


EDITED FOR HUMOR. It's better now. 
I feel like the very best blogs are the one's that really let you in to a person's life. I would LOVE to have a "very best blog" but my mother reads this. And my mother-in-law has the URL and could potentially read it. Plus, I'm trying to maintain my PG rating. Sort of.

And so, I have to leave you in the dark about some stuff. Poor you. Or not.

Were I to attempt telling you stuff without actually telling  you stuff, it might go like this:

     My ____________ in law said that I _____________________ to my ___________ which is just ridiculous because obviously ____________________and also, what would I even be DOING in a heard of stampeding rhinos?

Here's another thing I'd LOVE to tell you, but can't. Because I promised.
One time __________and I were in ____and after we ______sweet sweet _______ I looked ______and realized that ___________ was ____________black ____________ which is SO not the same as pantyhose. Football player or no, that was not the time, nor place. 

It's just not as good edited, you know?

Something I WILL tell you is that I'm within 2 pounds of my wedding weight. That's kind of a big deal after having two kids.

It's slightly less of a big deal when you see my wedding picture and realize I've always been, eh hem, healthy. (ish)

Isn't my husband so handsome? I know it's not the best picture of him, but weddings are never about the groom. They're about the mothers bride.

PS I've spent most of today baking a carrot cake cheese cake. Tomorrow is the big reveal. I've been hungry all day just thinking about it.

Mar 18, 2011

Favorite Bits of "Spring Break"

This week was Spring Break for all the cousins (and, you know, the rest of the valley). It doesn't mean much to us because:

  1. We "home school"
  2. My oldest is four
For not being a noticeably different week, it sure tuckered out the Mom. We  had some adventures, so I thought I would share a few of the highlights.

  1. On the drive to the zoo, The Boy reached across the backseat, took his sister's hand and said, "Zsa Zsa, you're my best friend".                                        If that doesn't just melt your heart, you must not have one. Talk about filling up my MommyBank. My kids could cause WWIII tomorrow and I would still be so proud of the job I've done raising them. We work hard to encourage our children to be friends and for that brief moment--success. The zoo was fun, too. :)
  2. Zsa Zsa disappearing under the table during dinner, then 3 minutes later jumping up and yelling, "BE-PIZE!" It took us a bit, but we finally worked out she was yelling surprise. 
  3. Zsa Zsa calling macaroni "doodles". I don't care who you are, that's cute. The Hubs thinks saying "ribbip" for a frog noise is funnier, but I disagree. 
  4. The Boy, telling me he can read the pictographic "constructions" during our Wal Mart trip.
  5. Friday some of the cousins got together for a hike. I brought my kids, with Zsa Zsa in the wrap on my back. She likes it fine for a while, but after 40 minutes or so, she's done. In one of my least proud momma moments, I told her she needed to stay on my back so the scary monsters wouldn't get her. It worked. <hangs head in shame>
  6. After the hike, Zsa Zsa brought me three consecutive oranges to peel. She ate them all. The subsequent diapers had better be orange scented. 
PS My momma is coming to town on Tuesday and I could not possibly be more thrilled. :D :D :D :D :D

    Mar 15, 2011

    The Question Is...

    How many projects can I have going at one time, and NOT be one of those people who starts everything and finishes nothing?

    Currently I still have an unfinished train table in the garage awaiting leather accents to the insets and a good re-sanding/gel stain to the lid. I haven't worked on it because I get paralyzed with fear every time I think of cutting the leather. It was really expensive and I can't eat that kind of mistake right now!
    Then there's my bathroom mirror frame that's stuck until I make it out my brother-in-law's house and his super spiffy saw that can cut a groove for the mirror channel  in the back of the molding (it sounds more complicated than it is).
    But what I REALLY want to be working on is refinishing my super ugly bedroom furniture. It won't take long. I promise. Just a little steel wool and some spray paint. I need to do it before it gets brutally hot. Maybe YOU can convince The Hubs...
    Really, I just need to be doing SOMETHING to keep my mind off the moms I'm working with who are about ready to birth. I'm so excited I wake up multiple times in the night to check my phone. Just in case.

    How many projects do you have going? How many is too many?

    Mar 12, 2011

    The Secret Ingredient

    Lately The Boy has been very interested nay, obsessed, with cooking. Any time I start a meal, he's right by my side, standing on a 5 gallon bucket eager to "help".  Mostly I welcome this chance to teach my son. I even let him stir hot things on the stove. (Really, don't call CPS. He's very careful and coordinated. I'd never let my other child stir hot things. She won't be allowed near a stove until she's 37.) My encouraging his budding cooking skills very nearly backfired tonight.

    You see, I had some taco meat simmering on the stove. The Boy had helped me thus far with the adding of various things to the pan and the stirring thereof.
    He lost interest and wondered off and so I left the pan unattended for a few minutes. I'm sure you can see where this is headed.

    The Boy came to find me. He informed me of the addition of "the very best gredient". I was understandably concerned. My four year old had just used the word ingredient. Also, he'd added one to my perfect taco meat. Further questioning was required.
         "What kind of ingredient?"
               "Well, it's a SECRET!  And it's all stirred in." (ack)
         "OK. but I still need to know what it is. Can you tell me?"
               "No. I don't know the name of it."
         "Can you show me?"
              "Well....OK." (The Boy, looking dejected)
    We then walked hand-in-hand to the kitchen where The Boy opened to the spice drawer. This might be a good time to point out another event I've been encouraging: The smelling of spices. Always under direct supervision, of course. Until now, apparently.
    He reached in, and much to my (and The Hubs) relief, he pulled out garlic powder.
    Dinner was not ruined, after all. It was a tad garlic-y, though.
    Please excuse me while I check into the possibility of legally changing his name to Emeril.

    Look Out World, I've Revolutionized Cheese

    I'm not sure if the world is ready for this, but I've adult-ified that old childhood favorite, grilled cheese. And man! Is it good.
    Here's what I did.
    Three days before you want a grilled cheese (What, don't you get a detailed list of body-cravings a week ahead?) make a batch of artisan no-knead bread dough.

    • 3 cups lukewarm water
    • 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 cups  All-Purpose Flour
    • 1 tablespoon Celtic sea salt (remember, it's magically delicious)
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
    Mix yeast, water and salt until mostly dissolved. Stir in flour. That's it.
    Let it rise until the top goes flat, throw a lid on it and let it hang out in the fridge overnight.  The next day, pinch some off and shape into a loaf. Bake in 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes after it's risen. The key to a crusty top is, right when you're putting the loaf in the oven, toss a 1/2 cup of water directly into the oven as you close the door. You might want to practice when the oven isn't hot...

    After the bread is baked, you can make the grilled cheese any time, but the next day is best. Who wants to wait for a sandwich to cook when you have perfectly decent hot, fresh homemade bread, butter and honey? No one. That's who. 

    Two peices of aged, crusty artisan bread (not, whoa that's moldy, aged. just day-old is fine)
    sundried tomatoes
    Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce

    Slather (yes, SLATHER) one slice of bread with butter. Lay face down in hot frying pan. Layer brie, cheddar and tomatoes. Top with second slice of butter-slathered bread.  I love the word "slather" and I love using it in non-Harlequinesque romance situations. Also, I would like to point out I just used a word that contains two 'Q's. That, my friends, takes talent. 

    Back to the sandwich. It's very important to make sure you get some cheddar shreds on the outside of the sandwich, and that those shreds get melted into the bread. Why? Because it's pretty. Also, who doesn't love cooked cheese? Fondue, fried cheese, baked cheese, grilled cheese...
    After the sandwich is done cooking, plate it and slather (goodness, don't you just adore that word?) with roasted raspberry chipotle sauce (you can get it at Costco). 
    As long as we're being totally honest with one another, the tomatoes really aren't necessary, they just up the "adultness" of the sandwich. It's really the sauce that sells it. :D

    Mar 6, 2011


    • Zsa Zsa and I were reading one of those "First Word" books with pictures of similar items labeled on the page. One page is clothing. I'm pointing, Zsa Zsa is naming. She called the dress and skirt "princess" and the tights were "princess socks". I cannot make this stuff up. (Also, don't tell anyone, but I'm scared my of two year old. How is she THIS princess-obsessed? We only watch VeggieTales and PBS. The books we read are Caldacott winners. It's not like I princess-ify my daughter.)
    • The Boy decided on our way home from family dinner tonight that we needed to go camping. Right then. As in, that exact second. Yeah. I think he was just looking for a reason to pout and scream at me simultaneously. Or, he wanted to pee outside. 
    • The Hubs and I substituted in one of the nurseries at church today. Yeah. Pretty sure I'm going to hell, because the entire two hours I was on the verge of slapping and/or permanently maiming this one seriously bratty little girl. I didn't think two year olds could be bratty. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. 
    • As I was going through a box of books my grandma gave me in a family reunion/family home evening kit, I came across a likely title, "Line Upon Line, A Workbook Approach". Cool, I thought. A guide to the scriptures I can write my thoughts in as I go along and study! Um, No. It's a book about overcoming sexual addiction/misconduct. I'm not one to judge but, GRANDMA!?!?! What kind of a person does my Grandma think I am, anyway? Maybe the kind that doesn't actually read the books I'm given.
    • I left dinner at the in-laws without eating one single bite of sugar-enhanced food tonight. No Jell-o, no Jell-o salad, no lemon trifle, no brownies and most definitely no cheesecake bites. This is a first, and I deserve an award. No, seriously. Give me an award. Now. Or I'll pee outside your house.

    Mar 4, 2011

    The Week

    1. Yesterday for breakfast, I tried something new. Kamut. For those of you who don't know,"The new cereal is an ancient relative of modern durum wheat, two to three times the size of common wheat with 20–40% more protein, higher in lipids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals." An airman in WWII supposedly took a handful of the grain from a stone box in a tomb, and then gave it to a farmer in Montana. The farmer grew those kernels of grain, and now we have a "new" kind of grain. Sounds cool, right? So I cook up this cereal and take a bite. I think I know why the Egyptians put it in the tomb. It tastes like moldy mummy. Or wet dog. This could be because I'm not eating sugar this week. Perhaps with a generous sprinkle of brown sugar it would have been edible.
    2. You know how yesterday I was sooo excited to start painting my bathroom? I'm over it. It's done, but I don't think I'll be happy to paint anything else for some time. 
    3. My neighbor has a radio tuned to NPR on 24/7/365 in their Arizona room. I know, because the Arizona room is next to my bathroom. Every time I walk in to the bathroom, regardless of the time, I can hear NPR. Because I don't own a portable radio, I opened my bathroom window while I painted all day yesterday so I could hear the radio spilling liberal drivel and jazz. The Hubs hates jazz. He wouldn't come in to the bathroom to talk to me. I'm thinking of buying a radio and keeping it on in my bathroom all the time, but I'll tune it to conservative drivel...or death metal.

    Mar 3, 2011

    Makeover: Master Bath Edition

    I just took the "before" pics for my master bath remodel.
    I'm so excited that I couldn't wait to tell you.
    So I didn't.

    The End

    This Post has been brought to you by: An IdahoBecky who just spent waaaay too much money at Home Depot.

    Mar 2, 2011

    Dentists and Such

    I try not to post unless I have something witty, clever or ingenious to add to the blogosphere, but seeing as how its been DAYS since I've posted anything, I guess I'll make an exception.

    • Did you know dental offices are now offering in-house plans? Say you don't have dental insurance. The first family member pays $150 a year and gets two cleanings, a set of x-rays and 30% off any needed work. Subsequent family members pay $75 for the same benefits. This is ingenious...for the dentist. They get the same, or more  money as they would if the patient were insured AND they don't have to employ a billing specialist. The consumer, as usual, gets shafted. Sure, I'm paying the same (roughly) out-of-pocket as I did WITH insurance, except all up front instead of from every paycheck. But in addition, I'm saving the office the pain of having to bill insurance and hash out the price lists on a yearly basis and wait months on end to actually get paid.  Don't get me wrong, though. I LOVE our dentist. Of all the dentists I've seen in my life, he's the only one whose said, "hmm. I see a little something on this x-ray. Why don't we watch it for 6 months." I come back in 6 months and he says the same thing! Seriously. Love that. Plusandalso, he's family.
    note: NOT my dentist
    • Did I mention we're getting our house ready to sell? This is a singularly gut-wrenching experience. I can not explain the level of angst looking at the neighborhood comps causes me. Seeing how much our house has lost in value over the last 3 years might be more painful than labor, but I wouldn't know. That pain is magnified by every dollar I spend to get the house "show-ready". Today I'm buying paint and fixtures for the master bath. At least I'll probably get to enjoy my upgrades for some time to come, since we are not selling for (significantly) less than we paid. I'm not really even sure why we are selling at the this point. It's not like we have somewhere better to go! I am pretty excited The Hubs is letting me spruce the place up a bit. I may have to write a separate post all about my new dishwasher.
    • The Hubs' raise should be only a month away. Halle-frick'n-lujah! I have big plans for that money. Big BIG plans. Pay off student loans and our mortgage big. I'm telling you, we're living on the edge at our house.
    • Did I mention our car is paid off? I could just kiss Dave Ramsey. You know, if I didn't know what looked like...or if he weren't old enough to be my dad.