Thursday, September 17, 2009

New site

So, you've probably noticed that I'm not really posting much anymore. I got married and started school again. What do you expect? Here's the other problem. My husband and I have a blog and sometimes remembering to update both is a lot of work.

Here's the deal. Since I'm focusing a little more on my other blog, you should probably go to it to se any updates. :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


So, after moving into our apartment, we've discovered a few problems (leaky drains, broken air-conditioning, etc...) and I've become fairly good friends with the maintenance team. However, I discovered the biggest problem when I decided to make those home-made Oreos for Ben.

I preheated the oven to 375 degrees like the recipe said, but not knowing exactly how our oven worked, I decided to check the cookies at 5 minutes instead of cooking them for the recommended 9. I began to imagine how excited Ben would be when he came home to freshly baked Oreos, but was jarred back to reality when the smoke detector started beeping only 3 minutes after I had put the cookies into the oven! I pulled them out of the oven as quickly as I could as the smoke billowed out of it (melting my hot-pad in the process!) and started fanning the smoke away from the screeching device on the ceiling.

After I cleared out most of the smoke and got the alarm to stop beeping, I decided to do something rather drastic and turn the oven temperature down a whole 100 degrees! It seemed like a bit much, but after breaking one of the previous "cookies" in half and finding nothing but charcoal, I decided baking them at 275 for 7 minutes would be fine.

Boy was I wrong!

Imagine my frustration when only five minutes later the smoke detector started beeping again. I ran through the same drill, pulling the former cookies out of the oven and then running over to fan the smoke away from the alarm.

By this point I was hot and sweaty and disappointed about the two dozen cookies that now sat as a pile of charcoal nuggets in the garbage. I decided to try one more time. I made a single cookie and baked it for 3 minutes at 175 degrees and.... it worked!! I was so excited.

After far-too-much hassle, I ended up going to the dinner smelling like a campfire, but with delicious bite-sized Oreo cookies that I over-heard Ben say were "better than the real thing!" And now we know the smoke detector works. :)

................... Homemade Oreos

A word of warning: this cookie is rather sweet, calling for a whopping 1 1/2 cups of sugar! This would be great just by itself as a cookie, or maybe sandwiching some black cherry ice cream (or whatever flavor you like), but combined with the incredibly sweet filling, a few of these are liable to put you into a diabetic coma! If you're looking for something closer to the original, and more palatable so that you can eat them by the handful, take out a full half cup of sugar.

Makes 25 to 30 sandwich cookies

For the chocolate wafers:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar [see recipe note]
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F. (This temperature has worked for numerous other people, so unless your oven is as weird as mine, you shouldn't have any problems.)

2. In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass. *Note: it stays really crumbly for a while. Keep mixing! It will come together.*

3. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.

4. To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.

5. To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream. Dunk generously in a large glass of milk.

**You can try numerous variations on this recipe as well - it's only limited by your imagination. Two that I plan on trying are adding mint to make Mint Oreos, or filling the cookies with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese frosting.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Smiling in Ohio

I’ve been married for one week shy of a month now, and I’m finally getting to break into my role as wife and homemaker. You’d think after a month of marriage I would have been overjoyed at the chance to cook every day. Alas, last night was the first time I’ve made dinner for the two of in quite some time. A honeymoon encompassing three wedding receptions along with the drive from California to Ohio left little time for me to master, or even attempt, some form of culinary creation. Last night however, I made Butter Chicken with Sautéed Onions and Mashed Potatoes, with Cheesecake for dessert. The food, of course, was excellent. :) Ben loved it and it felt so good - not only be cooking again, but to make dinner for my wonderful husband and have it waiting for him when he got home from a long day at work.

If you had asked where I see myself in 5 years in January, Ohio would have been one of the last places I thought of, if I even thought of it at all. Yet, here I am! We’ve only been here for a couple days, so I can’t complain about anything yet. :) It does seem like a nice little place though, and we were lucky enough to get here while the weather's still a little cool, before the humidity really sets in. We have our very own little 2 bedroom apartment and I can’t get over the excitement of having my own place. (Ok, its not completely mine, but I’m sharing it with my husband, not 5 other girls.) Just opening the refrigerator is a joyous experience because I don’t have to dig through piles of food belonging to my roommates in order to find something with my name on it. So while Ben goes to work everyday from noon until around 10pm, I stay at home and do.... what? I'm still working on that one, so I'll have to get back to you.

Tuesdays we have small group dinners where some of the married folk feed the single ones. I’m in charge of dessert today and I'm rather excited. Ben is basically in love with Oreos – he has been since I met him, and probably long before that. I’m quite the opposite. I’m not really much of a fan of store bought/processed foods. If I can make it from scratch, I’d much rather do it that way. It’s definitely healthier and I think things taste better when made from scratch. Well, it just so happens that in one of my random recipe searches I stumbled upon a recipe for homemade Oreos that boast tasting just like the store-bought variety. So my project for tonight: make Homemade Oreos and test them on a group of guys who all know and love the “real” ones. I had to stop by the store to pick up some necessary ingredients and as I was checking out I had the following conversation with the cashier – a cute old man who looked to be in his 70’s.

Cashier: How’re ya doin’ today?

Me: Pretty well, how about yourself?

Cashier: Just fantastic. Couldn’t be better. If I was any better I’d be twins!

*pause as he starts ringing up my groceries*

Cashier: Ya know, people just aren’t as happy as they used to be. They don’t enjoy life anymore. If people enjoyed life as much as I do they’d sure be a lot happier.

Me: So tell me, what’s your secret to enjoying life?

Cashier: Keeping a positive attitude and Smiling. People just need to smile more. Ya see, I’m like a mirror. If you smile at me I’ll smile right back. Don’t you forget it either. Keep on smiling and you’ll enjoy life just as much as I do.

And you know, he’s right! As I left the store, I couldn’t help but smile - not just to myself, but at everyone I passed as well. Maybe it was the hint of “down home country” in his speech or the way that he said it, or maybe it was just my lack of human (other than Ben) in the past couple days, but whatever the reason, his comment hit me and I can’t seem to stop thinking about it.

So, I guess that's what's been going on lately. I'll post the results when I finish those cookies later!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Where oh where has my brain gone?

What a day, oh, what a day... Tuesdays and Thursdays are my "free days." I don't have classes and the only thing that I have to do is show up for an hour to help with the class that I TA. Well, my mom's in town this week to help with wedding plans so I didn't even have to go to campus today. "Lucky" you might think. I didn't have to do a thing! Well, I wish it were so.

After waking up extra early to grade all 80+ of the assignments that I had completely forgotten about, I headed out with my mom and my gramma to get an early start on the wedding planning for the day. At about noon I remembered that I was supposed to meet with my German group to film a movie for class AND... I was supposed to make an apple pie for that as well! Something that big you'd think I would have remembered! After I finished the pie, the three of us ran to the tux shop and another tie store. I think I've reached a point where I never, Ever want to see a green tie again! We looked at so many - and that was after mom and gramma narrowed the selection down for me! :) Then I rushed off to campus to meet with my group. A five minute skit took 3 hours to film!!!! I feel bad for all of the people who take part in movie-making. That seems less glamorous than ever, now!

So now I'm sitting here trying to do some homework before tomorrow. Obviously I'm getting pretty far with that one. I'm able to focus on a lot of other things, but that German paper is still hanging over my head and I can't seem to get back into the "German groove." I've officially decided that my brain ran away without me. Here we are, the week before finals and I'm left without a brain! The same sort of thing happens with computers sometimes: There's too much information going on and so it just shuts off. That must be the problem that girls have. We try to do far too much and once we're working on about 17 projects as well as taking on our kids'/friends' problems, we just start forgetting things. Our brains just get far too busy to keep up with everything so they just turn off every once in a while.

Now if I could just figure out how to schedule that "reboot" period to better fit my life...

Thursday, March 12, 2009


This past weekend was a blast! Saturday I had my bridal pictures taken. I got lucky because not only did my sister come with me, my mom just happened to be in Utah so she got to come down as well. We all went up to the Capitol building in Salt Lake City. I've never been there before and I was amazed. It's absolutely beautiful!

I had hoped to be able to do the bridals outside, but on a cold, windy day with snow in the forcast, there's only so much you can do. And a classical building with marble and pillars made a beautiful second choice. Mom took some pictures while we were there as well and as much as I'd love to post all of them, I can't. Ben doen't want to see me in my dress(/isn't supposed to see me) until the wedding day. So here's a couple that are maybe a little less "revealing." :D I'll post the rest later.

As if that wasn't exciting enough, we were graced by Marshall Nielsen's presence for the weekend as well. He flew out for the weekend to go skiing with Ben and Scotty. Aside from everyone getting sick, they all had a great time. :)

If you didn't guess, Ben's on the phone with me in that picture!

We also did a little test run on the restaurant Ben and I are wanting to have our wedding dinner at: Gloria's Little Italy. Like usual we gave high reviews. Since Ben and I first visited it in November, Gloria's has become our favorite restaurant. (In fact, Ben was going to propose there, but they were in the process of moving to a bigger and better location, so he chose La Caille instead.) Gloria's has the best Italian food I've had since I was in Italy!

Josh came down with mom and got to spend Saturday hanging out with "the guys" - Ben and Marshall. Afterwards well all went to dinner.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bucket List

So I'm giving in and finally doing some of these tags. I guess that's what happens when you're sick at home and tired of doing homework. Oh well.... The first part is some of my own things, followed by the actual 'bucket list' tag. I made comments next to the ones that I've already done, and left the others blank.

See the Giant's Causway and visit County Cork, Irelan
Watch the sun rise and set over the oceans... on the same day!
Make a chair/blanket/pillow fort and have a picnic inside

Do an impressionist style painting

See the northern lights in Alaska

Learn to sail

Sail around Greece

Become fluent in German, Italian, Spanish, French, ...........

See the Amazon

while there, go fishing for piranhas and eat them roasted in banana leaves

Visit Punxautawney Phil on Groundhog's Day (again)

Go iceskating in Central Park

"frolic" in a huge field with long grass and lots of wild flowers

Spend a day building sand castles

Own a little restaurant/cafe/book shop

And now to the tag....

Donated Blood
Skipped school - saddly, yes
Watched someone die
Watched a baby being born - 4 in fact, my siblings as well as one of my cousins!
Been to Canada
Been to Mexico
Been to Florida
Been to Hawaii
Been to Africa
Been to Russia - does a half-Russian speaking country (Ukraine) count?
Been on a plane - definitely
Been on a helicopter
Been on a Glider Plane
Been lost - a few times, my favorite was getting lost in Florence and discovering we were miles off the map
Gone to Washington, DC
Hugged a homeless person
Swam in the ocean - most definitely, I can't seem to go anywhere near the ocean without getting wet
Seen a Glacier
Swam with Stingrays
Been sailing in the ocean
Cried yourself to sleep - another one of those unfortunately affirmative answers
Played cops and robbers
Recently colored with crayons
Ran a marathon
Sang Karaoke - Love it!!
Volunteered at a soup kitchen
Paid for a meal with coins only - to the dismay of the servers...
Been to the top of the St. Louis Arch
Seen the Northern Lights
Been Parasailing
Been on TV - I think so, but I don't remember at the moment. :)
Done something you told yourself you wouldn't - yep: some I probably regret and some were awesome!
Been Streaking
Made prank phone calls
Been down Bourbon Street in New Orleans
Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose - Orange Juice. Ouch!
Fed an elephant
Caught a snowflake on your tongue - Yes, but Ben always laughs at me when I try
Fired a gun - Of course.
Danced in the rain - So much fun! What could be better?
Been to the Opera - Shall I list them? My favorite is still The Barber of Saville
Written a letter to Santa Claus - And got a reply... Boojah!
Serenaded someone - That's what happenes when you play guitar
Seen a U.S.President in person
Been kissed under the mistletoe
Watched the sunrise with someone - No, but watching a sunset on the beach should count for something. :)
Driven a race car
Been to a National Museum
Been to a Wax Museum
Eaten caviar - One of those things I said I'd never do... and did. It wasn't terrible.
Blown bubbles - "Blasen" (bubbles) are one of the favorite passtimes in my apartment!
Gone ice-skating - in my back yard, in fact.
Gone to the movies - probably too often.
Been deep sea fishing
Driven across the United States
Been sky diving
Gone snowmobiling - does riding with my dad when I was 5 count?
Have seen the "Green Flash" at sunset
Lived in more than one country - Austria, baby! Can't wait to go back! :)
Lay down outside at night and admired the stars while listening to the crickets - One of the most incredible, awe-inspiring, and breath-taking things a person could do. Too bad there aren't more places you can see the stars.
Seen a falling star and made a wish - Most recently was driving to CA last October.
Enjoyed the beauty of Old Faithful Geyser
Seen the Grand Canyon
Seen the Statue of Liberty - From a distance
Been to Times Square - Yep, it's quite a sight at night.
Been to Las Vegas - Sure have!
Gone to the top of Seattle Space Needle
Been on a cruise
Traveled by train - Regular train (to Slovakia) and night train (to Italy) in fact.
Traveled by motorcycle - (on the back that is)
Been horse back riding - since I was two
Ridden on a San Francisco cable car
Been to Disneyland OR Disney World - Disneyland. My sister and I are working on the record for "the most consecutive rides on the 'Thunder Mountain Railroad'." We lost track last time.
Truly believe in the power of prayer - When you've actually seen the power of prayer, how can you not believe.
Been in a rain forest
Seen whales in the ocean
Been to Niagara Falls
Ridden on an Elephant
Ridden on a Camel
Swam with dolphins
Been to the Olympics
Walked on the Great Wall of China
Seen the Pyramids in Egypt
Been snow-skiing - Only once - I usually snowboard.
Been to Westminster Abbey
Been to the Louvre - Loved it, although I was half-asleep through some of it.
Swam in the Mediterranean
Been to a Major League Baseball game
Been to a National Football League game
Swam with sharks
Been White Water Rafting
Written a book or screen play - And won a contest with my book and had it put in the county library (that was in third grade though).

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Just some of the ideas I've come up with for wedding themes/ideas while poking around the internet. :)

"My travels led me to where I am today. Sometimes these steps have felt painful, difficult, but led me to greater happiness and opportunities."
- Diana Ross