Sunday, May 22, 2011


So I've been busy at work lately, no time for baking, saddest words ever to be uttered I know, but true.  

I did begin attending Knit Nite at Loops & Yarn, a local yarn store here in town, and they seem to be a great group of ladies and I can't wait until the next one and we'll see I may even take a class or two.  Here's their website, you should check it out.  Anyway, I will be taking some pictures of the blanket I'm knitting for my nieces and hopefully within the next week or two it will be done and ready for it's very own post.

Anyway, now that I've rambled about other things, the main topic of this blog was going to be to discuss... That I have begun couponing!  Yes, I have.  No, I have not gone crazy with it and decided I need a stockpile to outlast nuclear winter, but I have decided I'm tired of throwing all my money into the pockets of companies that already have plenty.  Don't get me wrong, I don't mind giving them some, I just think the mark up is getting to be a bit much.  I have begun small just clipping coupons and watching deals and seeing where I can best combine the two the get me a good deal and yesterday I had my first big victory!!!  I not only got 3 bottles of our favorite BBQ sauce for free!!!  I got a dollar off the rest of my purchase!!!!  

For both of my grocery shopping trips (I split my usual one into two so as to get things that were on sale at my two favorite grocery stores) I saved a combined amount of roughly $75.00!!!!  Which means I got roughly $325.00 worth of grocery (food, non-food, and pets) for roughly $250.00!!! I know!!!  I was pretty stoked!!!

If you're interested in doing it too, there is a lady who's blog has really been helping me learn the ropes of couponing, it's Coupon Closet!!  

I had to share our good news, and maybe with the increase in savings we'll be able to afford to finish the remodel on our kitchen and you will get to see beautiful baked goods even more!!!

As always, don't forget to enjoy life and fascinated and thrilled with the little things!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A book, a Momma, a birthday, and a classic

The book: I finished reading We'll Always Have Stockholm by J.M. Jennings!! It's an amazing read!! It's still kind of incredible to read a published book that was written by someone I know in real life. By the way, when you buy it from Amazon Kindle here which you should do very soon, check out the acknowledgments at the end and you will see yours truly! He really is a great author and the story is very good check it out, I won't do any spoiler on this so that you can go read it yourself and support a new author!! Also don't forget to check out his blog.
My Momma: My Momma is an amazing woman and I wanted to put a shout out to her in this blog for two main reasons. One being the next part of this blog is going to be about my birthday dinner she gave me. Two being that she and both my Grandmas are a huge reason I got into baking as much as I have, they all three love to make food that makes other people happy and they have all taught me the joy this can bring to life and therefore made me fall in love with baking :D  My Momma is also such a fan of cooking and has begun the "primal" eating lifestyle that she and a friend of her's also have a blog, check it out!

This is a picture of me and my amazing Momma at said birthday.

My birthday: So every year for my brother and my birthdays, there is a tradition no matter what else you do for your birthday you have to go over to Momma's house and have your home cooked birthday dinner and dessert. My Momma is a wonderful cook! You get to pick your dinner and dessert, of course ;), and this year I picked; Salmon, shrimp, mashed potatoes and salad for dinner. Dessert is another tradition but one only really for me, I love, love, love, love, did I mention love? Anyway, love my Momma's Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies, no one gets that recipe yet ;) so every year that's what I have instead of cake and we take a picture of me making a silly face.

Here's the beautiful things!

Here's the traditional picture, I have one like this for every year since I was 18 and I intend on having one for every year til my last birthday!

My Momma also made Sangria for us to drink this year since my little brother is officially legal to drink this year :D

The classic: This is the American classic, Apple Pie! I have never tried to tackle a completely (dough and all) homemade Apple Pie and with summer finally making it's presence known I decided this was as good a time as any. I used the recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New baking book with a few adjustments born both out of intuition and necessity.

Now the first thing everyone will say you need to do is gather your ingredients, which includes:
For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening (I used margarine ,out of necessity, I would recommend at least sticking with shortening, my Momma and Grandma says butter or lard is better. I will try one of those two next time and let you know how it turns out. If, like me, all you have on hand is margarine I am here to tell you it will work but the crust will be a little bland and a little less flaky than if you use the other options. When using the margarine at the adding water stage I did throw in about a tablespoon of milk to add just a little extra.)
6-7 tablespoons cold water

For the filling:
6 cups thinly sliced and peeled cooking apples (I used Granny Smith, another tradition from the Mom and Grandmas)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (I'll admit I'm a little heavy handed with the cinnamon, I just love cinnamon though)
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
optional ½ cup raisins or walnuts (I did not use either of these)

First things first, the base of the pie, the crust must be made. Now I will tell you I was nervous, I had always heard about how hard pie crust is to make and I'll admit mine, like above mentioned, did not turn out quite as nicely as I intended but it was still easier than the danishes I tackled a couple months ago which I'll be posting about here soon, when I make a new batch!! Anyway, rest your mind at ease and approach the crust making confidently!

So for the crust, first you stir together that flour and salt. Than you cut in the butter, lard, shortening, margarine, whatever you are using until the pieces are about pea -sized. Add a tablespoon of water at a time, each time you add a new one kind of toss everything around, until it starts looking like dough (This is where I added about a tablespoon of milk since I was using margarine). Divide the dough in half while still in the bowl. One half at a time, roll into a ball between your floured hands, than on a floured surface use your hands to start flattening the dough, keeping it in as round a shape as possible, I used a rolling pin to flatten it the rest of the way.

I am in love with the spray non-stick stuff, so I sprayed the pie plate with some butter flavored non-stick spay and than set the rolled dough into the pie plate, try not stretch it too much because it will rip and that is a pain in the you know what. Once you get it all settled into the plate and there are no little air bubbles hanging out on the bottom between the crust and the pie plate, trim the extra stuff off the edges so that the crust is even or just a little over the edge of the plate.

Take your scraps from the edges of the first half of dough and add them to the second half, now the same process with the second half of dough, make it into a ball, flatten it out into as much of a circle as you can, but than with this one you have a crossroads; you can leave it plain and flat for the time being and just poke holes in it with a knife later before it goes in the oven or you can cut a design or pattern or something into it. I opted for a pattern since this was my first Apple Pie I really wanted it to look pretty too! I also happened to have inherited a cutter for just this purpose from Jason's Aunt who we were helping to move to Colorado a couple months ago!!!

So if you go for the first option just set the dough aside (don't actually move it yet if you don't have to, but just let it sit for the time being). If you go for option two cut out your pattern and than also just set it aside.

And than comes the apple mixture, the filling, the sweet stuff :D First off you peel and slice your apples I wait til the last second to do this so the apples have no time to brown and turn mushy. Than you place six cups of them in a bowl, I found that if you get decent softball-ish sized apples than that equals about three apples. And sprinkle them with the lemon juice. Than in a separate small to medium sized bowl you add the sugar, the flour the cinnamon, and nutmeg together and stir them all up.
                                                                 Side-note: Most of the time I'm not really sold on the idea that 
                                                                          you need to mix things in a separate bowl and than add them
                                                                      together, I mean they're all going to get mixed up anyway right?
                                                                        Well in some cases my lazy, dish saving way can be taken but
                                                                       in some cases it can not, this is one of those cases my lazy
                                                                       way can not be taken. If you take my lazy way, yes I did 
                                                                     make this mistake, you will end up with a couple pieces of
                                                                     apple really coated in cinnamon and nutmeg and the other 
pieces with pretty much none. No good.

Now after you have mixed all the dry ingredients together you sprinkle them on the apples, I did about half the mixture at a time. I just used my hands to mix it with the apples to save the apples from getting broken or mashed with a spoon. Once all the apples have a wonderful coat of sugar and other goodness you pour that into your pie plate with dough in it.

Than you take the other half of the dough, patterned or plain and lay that over the top of this.

You trim the edge of the top layer of dough to about a half inch and than you tuck the top piece in between the bottom piece and the pie plate and kind of pinch it as you go along to seal it up. Now this is the part if you left the second roll out of dough plain that you poke it all over with a knife so the steam can escape.

Cover the pie with foil or any other oven safe thing that will help protect the top and edges of the pie from over browning. And than you pop it into your oven which should be pre-heated to 375 degrees and bake it for 25 minutes, pull off the covering and than bake it another 25-30 minutes, I never went over 25 minutes the second time but there are a lot of factors.

Take the pie out.
Allow to cool.
And enjoy the classic summer timey goodness :D

Now to show you my two little helpers, this is Ambekka and Bellona my two girl dogs. They know they're not allowed in the kitchen but when I go on one of  my baking kicks and am in there all day they always come poke their heads in and make sure I'm okay.

Bellona is on the top and Ambekka is on the bottom.(since I can't figure out how to rotate the d*** pictures on this thing)

I hope everyone gets to eat homemade Apple Pie at least once this summer whether you make it yourself or not, I hope everyone gets to read a good book, and enjoy family and friends. Don't forget to enjoy life and be fascinated by the little things. :D

Monday, May 2, 2011

2 Movies and a Book

We watched The Expendables a couple nights ago directed by Sylvester Stallone. We're on a bit of a movie kick because we just signed up for that blockbuster pass... thing, where they send the movies you request to your house and you keep them as long as you want!! Anyway, we're really excited about it and are going a bit movie crazy at the moment.

Now to the movie! SPOILER ALERT!!!

I heard a lot of bad reviews of this movie from friends before we watched it but how could I pass up a movie filled with action stars of my life!! I mean Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li, and than you add in the wrestlers that my little brother and dad always loved like “Stone Cold” Steve Austen and Randy Couture, and than you add in a name that I have come to know and appreciate as an action figure like Jason Statham!!! Come on who could ignore that!!!

This movie is what it is, an action movie... a guy flick so to speak. It has some amazing action sequences, the guys are tough, the girls are pretty, there are lots of bullets and knives that fly, explosions, motorcycles, etc. The only action like thing that I really had to roll my eyes at was the jump that Stallone makes from the dock onto the plane that Jason Statham is flying away... it just didn't sit right with me. Now, if you are looking for back-story, character development, or even understanding of characters motives, this is NOT the movie for you!

I like at least a little back-story, it drove me a little crazy that I didn't know anything really about any of the characters. Like how long Statham and his girlfriend were dating, if they get back together after he kicks the other guys butt. Also why is Stallone so intent on helping Sandra, why does Li really need more money, who is the motorcycle riding tattoo guy, etc.

Anyway, like I said it was good for what it was but don't look for more. But really could we expect much more from a movie that was written and directed by Sylvester Stallone. Haha! Definitely a renter only!



And last night we watched Wall street: Money Never Sleeps directed by Oliver Stone. SPOILER ALERT!!!

I had seen the original Wall street (also directed by Oliver Stone) a couple months a go for the first time and I really liked it, so when I saw a sequel was coming out, especially a sequel that still included Michael Douglas!!! I had to see it.

And unfortunately I was disappointed, it just didn't have the same punch, the same tension of the first. It also seemed to be lost with the story line, you never really understand any character or story line other than Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) and it's hard to say if you understand him better just because you've dealt with the character before in the original or if it's just a better developed character. Either way Shia LaBeouf who I usually like, seemed wishy-washy and child-ish and wrong for the movie, I don't know... it may just be that he doesn't have a “Wall street face” but I didn't like him in this role. 

All around I was disappointed in the movie, the twists were predictable, the story line weak, the acting not what I've come to expect, and just all around a let down, I'll be sticking with the original. This movie was not an owner by a long shot, it unfortunately doesn't even make the list of movies to rent for me, it's just a DUD.



I had to put down Ray Bradbury just for a spell because I'm currently reading We'll Always Have Stockholm by, J.M. Jennings.

The reason this book had to be picked up and Bradbury put down is because this book is actually written by a friend of mine and this is his first book available to the masses. It is available on Amazon Kindle here's the link, . So far it's very good, unfortunately with all the movies, work and everything else I haven't gotten very far in it but I recommend everyone buy it on amazon and support a new author as well as read a very good because I have read a lot of this guy's stuff over the last couple years and he is a very good writer! Here's an excerpt of the book!

     The black wrought-iron sign that arched over the entrance to the community read:

            Green strode up to the left column, which was done in the same red brick as the rest of the wall.  Jutting out from its interior was a small metal keypad.  He put in a six-digit code, and the iron fence slowly slid back from its usual moorings.  Slowly and silently, Jack noted.  This was obviously a very nice place; the houses that lined the street before him were tall and stately, built with money and care.  Nevertheless, he felt a kind of chill pass through him as he passed through the gate and into Thistle Creek.  It might have been related to the smile he had seen on Green’s face, or it might not.  Hell, he thought it might be related to the fact that he had just survived a plane crash in the stupidest way he could imagine.
            And what about the plane crash, at that?  He had heard the sounds of sirens; useful fire trucks and useless ambulances and ambiguous police cars, no doubt.  But shouldn’t he call 911 just the same?  Or at least, shouldn’t someone?  Someone probably had.
            “Did you call 911?” he asked Green.  Green looked over at him, silent for the briefest of seconds, his respectively brown and hazel eyes glued to him as they walked.
            “Yes, that was the first thing I did.  Used my cell phone while I was headed out to see the crash.”  The Southern accent seemed thicker now, and Jack wondered a little at that.  He didn’t know that accents sometimes fade into the shadows like a supporting character in a play once the line has been delivered, and then surge forward when the time comes for the next one.  “That’s when I saw you coming down the hill.  I figured you were dead meat, but you pulled off quite a miracle.”  He seemed to be dismissing the 911 call, but Jack pursued.
            “So they’re sending people out to help?” he asked.  Help might be a strong word.  He thought maybe a better word would be preside, but didn’t say so.  Green nodded.
            “Yup.  And I expect that they’ll want to talk to you at some point, but there’s really no hurry for that.  They’ll have their hands full for quite a while just putting that fire out, and in the mean time, you need to be some place where you can let the shock jitters out safely.  Come on, my house is just up the street here.”
            The street, unsurprisingly, carried the name: THISTLE CREEK LANE.  Jack walked next to Green, his legs feeling more and more rubbery with each step.  He realized that it would be a good thing for him to sit down for a little while.  He felt sort of cold, despite the warmth of the morning sun on his back and neck.  This concerned him, as it meant that he might be going into shock.  He didn’t like to think that might be possible – he was a tough guy, after all, right?  But as he looked at the street stretched out in front of him, he thought it was at least plausible.
            There were people approaching now.  They came from up the street, pouring out of what looked like the biggest barn Jack had ever seen.  He knew almost immediately that it wasn’t a barn, but it was built like one, except much, much bigger.  They were closing in, he realized, to see the latest disturbance that had come to their sleepy little pseudo-village.  One of them, an older man with a white mustache, called out as he approached.
            “Reverend Green!  Did you save someone from that crash?”
            Reverend, Jack thought.  That’s interesting.
            Charles Green said nothing at first, but raised his left hand to the man, palm outward, as if to ward him off.  Jack noticed that a strange scar had been carved into the Green’s palm.  It was a kind of asterisk, and at the end of each of its points was a small circle.  The old man didn’t slow down, but came right up to them.  He then bent and placed a very reverent kiss on the open palm.  Then he bowed for a long moment.  When he rose, there was clear, unadulterated worship in his eyes.
            The others followed suit, one by one.  They came up in a line, each bending to kiss the strange scar on Green’s hand, each bowing for a long moment as if in contemplation of their choice of footwear.  As this unfolded, Jack found that he was beginning to feel very, very afraid.
            “What are they doing?” he asked, and found that he could muster no more than a horrified whisper.  Green did not answer, but the old man did.
            “We’re showing respect to Reverend Green,” he said simply.  He gestured toward Green, and even his that seemed to be done with the severest of admiration.  “Since he saved your life, I guess you’ll be wanting to show your respects too.”  There was the barest trace of malice in the old man’s voice, one which could almost be called jealousy.  Jack was, after all, an intruder to this little mini-community, and the attentions of one person were probably spread thinly as it was.
            Jack turned to Green again.  Green only smiled pleasantly, then raised his hand in front of Jack’s face.  The thin white lines of the scar stood out in the morning sun.
            “Welcome to our community, Jack.  I think you’re going to have a wonderful time staying with us here.”  The voice was cool, friendly, and resolute.
            And Jack’s body – beaten and bruised and incapable of dealing with any but the simplest of functions – performed the only act of self-preservation it could imagine at that moment.  It collapsed, and he fainted.

I found it on his blog, so if you like his book or the idea of his book or whatever, follow him too, here's the link to his blog, .

So until next time, enjoy life, and be fascinated by the little things!!! :D