Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pinterest Review: Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting

Jeff & I had (unfortunately) been really craving sweets.  I knew we had a cake mix in the cupboard, and it was going to expire soon (gasp!), so I figured that would be a good dessert.

If only we had frosting.

Wait!  We had bought six bricks of cream cheese at the store (but no bagels and no cherry Jell-o), so off I went to Pinterest to find a good cream cheese frosting recipe.  I looked at a few before pinning this one:

The post, over on Our Best Bites, said that this results in frosting where you can taste the cream cheese and it's not overly sweet.  I can tell you that's accurate!  I did add another half cup of powdered sugar, and a smidge more vanilla, but that's it.  It really does taste like spreadable cheesecake.  And the recipe made so much that I have leftovers.  In the fridge.  And if I know what's good for me, I will put that bag in the freezer so my spoon stops finding it...

And I had all but one of the ingredients!  Yeay for me!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Road Trip to Seattle - Days 1 & 2

Day One:

Early morning on Tuesday, September 16, we were up and out the door, after saying goodbye to Tina's kids & Larry.  I was worried that I would  not make it through saying bye to the kids, but I stayed strong and I was okay.  We had a long way to go (and a short time to get there - heh!), so it wasn't a time to be a blubbering idiot.

Tina & I stopped in Peru for some oatmeal breakfast (our only McDonald's on the trip thankyouverymuch) and zoomed off west!

First we hit Iowa.
Hey, Iowa, how about you make your state sign more legible?  And not behind trees?  That would be great, thanks...
*note:  click on any picture to make it bigger...*

My stereotype of Iowa:  corn and flat.  Iowa, you did not disappoint!
see the flat?

After heading North, we got in to Minnesota.

My sterotype of Minnesota:  green with lots of lakes.  Sure, that's pretty much it.

We stopped in Blue Earth, Minnesota for lupper (lunch/supper), and went to see the Jolly Green Giant!  Unfortunately, the sun was in the wrong place in the sky for a decent photo op.  *sad*
I really hope that he's wearing tights, because that is one short skirt...

Before too long, and after a quick turn to the west again, we were in South Dakota.
South Dakota also had a road sign that was not easily legible.  Luckily, this nice carved sign was at the rest area.

I don't know that I had a stereotype in my head of South Dakota, it's just kinda there...
But it started out flat.  Not too different from home.

Then we crossed the Missouri River and started seeing some rolling hills.

The sun was starting to set, and we knew by then that we would not make it for the lighting of Mount Rushmore that night.  I think Google was good at underestimating how much time it would take to get where we were headed.

Side note:  Growing up, we always had road trip food, and we had to keep that tradition up!  We brought the fixins for ants-on-a-log (but craisins instead of raisins), Nutella and pretzels, cheese sticks, water, and juice.  What was nice is that these snacks made dinner unnecessary a couple of days on the trip, and since we were trying to get where we were going, it helped with time.

Finally we got to Rapid City and headed south.  We had reserved a room in Keystone, North Dakota, just outside of Mount Rushmore!  I was very very happy that Tina was driving, because shortly after we got off the interstate, the road got dark, hilly, and curvy!  I was closing my eyes some of the time just because I was nervous (this is how I rode south on the haul road with Jeff driving), but knew I had to help navigate!

I got a slight glimpse of Mount Rushmore right before we turned in to our hotel.  So cool, but could not compare to the next day!

Day Two:

We had set our alarm so we could be up and get to Mount Rushmore early.  We threw out the idea of being there for sunrise, but we still beat the crowd!  Driving up you get a good view, and there is a historical marker, and therefore a pull-off.  We took at advantage of that spot...

We got parked and headed in and, I'll tell you, Mount Rushmore does NOT disappoint.  It was really very cool, and I would recommend it to anyone!  There's so much other stuff to do in the area, you could easily keep a family busy for a long weekend out there.  You should so go there!

They had gotten about a foot of snow the week before - here's the remnants...

so crazy - the trees grew right out of the rocks!

finally realized I had my date/time stamp on, and turned it off...

sister selfie!

selfie with the big guys!

this is a panoramic picture - love that function on my phone!

We spent a good amount of time there and in the gift shop (making very difficult decisions, there was a lot of cool stuff but we both had limited luggage room for the flights home!) before heading back out.

Day Two definitely felt like multiple days.

From South Dakota, we went into Wyoming for a short time.

State stereotype for Wyoming:  Brown with tall grasses.  Rolling hills.  Uh, no photos, so take my word for it that my stereotype is correct.

From Wyoming into Montana.

My state stereotype for Montana was green mountains!  I was pretty disappointed for most of the state.  Lots of brown.  Lots of flat with some hills.

Finally there started being mountains in the distance....

We drove through a couple of reservations before getting back on the interstate.  It all looked so depressed....

It was just getting dark when we pulled in to Butte, Montana.  The night of day two.

Stay tuned for more!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Chocolate and Orange

Chocolate and orange is an amazing flavor combination, any anyone who tells you any different is just ridiculous!  Do not be friends with that person; you don't need the negativity in your life...

So for Easter (goodness, that long ago?) Tina and I made chocolate dipped orange sections!  Okay, so maybe they were "Cuties" or "Halos" or whatever your store calls them.  Those little bitty oranges that are so easy to peel and don't have much of that yucky white stuff on them.

We just peeled the oranges and separate the segments.  When that was done, we melted the milk chocolate chips.  Then dip away...

The chocolate did sweat, but they were delicious!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Pinterest Review: Cream Cheese Lemon Bars Recipe

At the end of August, we had a get together at Mom's house, a family dinner.  Cheryl & Louis were able to make it too!

It was very good timing for the dinner; we celebrated Tina's birthday!  I asked, and she wanted something fruity for her birthday treat.  I was in luck, because she had recently pinned:

Cream Cheese Lemon Bars Recipe

  • 1 box lemon cake mix
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine - softened
  • 1 egg
  • 8 ounces cream cheese - softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 lemon - grated
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice or 1/2 fresh squeezed lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Container: 9 x 13 baking pan and a mixing bowl
15 mins
35 mins
50 mins
  • In a mixing bowl, blend dry cake mix, butter, and 1 egg.
  • Press into a 9 x 13 pan, ungreased.
  • Beat the cream cheese until smooth.
  • Gradually blend in the powdered sugar.
  • Stir in lemon peel and lemon juice until smooth.
  • Reserve 1/2 cup of this mixture and refrigerate it for later use.
  • Beat the remaining 2 eggs, add the vanilla, and then beat this mixture into the remaining cream cheese mixture until well blended.
  • Spread over the cake mixture.
  • Bake at 350° until set, approximately 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Cool completely.
  • Spread the reserved cream cheese mixture onto the bars.
  • Refrigerate until firm; then cut into squares and serve.

Wow, was I nervous while making this dessert.  I had also bought brownie mix so that we knew there would be enough dessert for everyone, but Tina wanted fruity, and I just didn't think I was doing it right!  I mean, the cake mix "crust" was so thin!  The egg/cream cheese mixture barely covered the crust!  What if it happened to be really thin?  And yucky?

Well, I shouldn't have worried!  The crust rose as it baked.  The other two layers were delightful.  Tina loved it, and that's the most important thing.

If I were to make it again, the only thing I would change would be to double that egg/cream cheese mixture.  Really, there just wasn't enough of that.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

a new blog: Life in the (907)

Hi everyone!

I decided shortly after we got back from Alaska in June that I would get a new blog name and address so that it could be easier to find by my non-relatives.  :-)

Reason:  I have been searching for and devouring all kinds of blogs written by Alaskans for a couple years now.  They're just not that easy to find, and I wanted mine to be.

For now I'm going to keep up this blog too (need to connect my computer to the internet so I can blog out road trip west, for example), so please read both for all the info!  If I ever get to the point where I only post to one of the blogs, I will make that apparent.

In the mean time, my new blog is called

You see, 907 is the area code for all of Alaska.  And since I married the phone guy, it just seemed right.

I've already put 4 posts over there, so go and check them out.
How our move to Alaska came to be
Anchorage to Glennallen - the drive to my new home
an organized pantry!  (see what I've been up to up here)
my first Alaskan earthquake!  (yep, we had one this morning!)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mendota Football

I was able to catch a football game at Mendota High School last month.  My nephew Nate is a senior, so I had to go and watch him play.

I thought I was going to miss most of the game, but it hadn't started by the time I got there, due to rain and lightening delays.  But I did get to see him in a few plays.

Have fun this Friday night, kid, at your Senior Homecoming game!

okay, so I might have screen-shot this off of Rylee's snapchat...  Look at these awesome kids!

new number for senior year - anyone surprised that he chose Clay Matthews' number?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What I've been up to...

Sorry I haven't been in the blogging world for a while now.  Things have been a bit, oh, hectic lately...  You know, sending my husband on a 3200 mile road trip with all of our stuff, selling a condo and a car, quitting my job of 13 1/2 years, and then road-tripping 2400 miles in order to get on a plane, and what-not.

I don't have things all set in place at this time, so please enjoy these few words with multiple photos...

My life the past couple of weeks:

  • Wed. Sept 10 - my last day of work

  • Fri. Sept 11 - closed the sale of the condo at 9AM; drove to Illinois (side note, leave more than a day to finish up unloading your house before a sale, no matter how empty you think it is...)

  • Tues. Sept 16 - Tina and I left on our road trip.  Made it to Keystone, the town outside of Mt. Rushmore.

  • Wed.  Sept 17 - Saw Mt. Rushmore!  Drove on to Butte, MT ("I touched the butt!")

  • Thurs. Sept 18 - drove the rest of the way to Seattle.

  • Fri.  Sept 19 - delivered the Subaru to the transit company that will transport the car up to Alaska.  Had the best day ever being a tourist in Seattle!

  • Sat.  Sept 20 - sent Tina on a flight home; saw Jeff for the first time since July 10; flew up to Anchorage on the same flight as him*.

  • Sun.  Sept 21 - did some shopping, which was hard since I didn't know what Jeff did and did not have in the kitchen.  Finally stepped foot into the house that we live in.

  • Mon.  Sept 22 - started my new career as a house-wife.  The commute is wonderful!

*Jeff spent the week of Sept 15-19 in Boca Raton FL at training.  It was lucky that he was in training the week that Tina and I were traveling, and were able to meet up in Seattle to fly to Alaska together!