Friday, January 30, 2009

pink cookies

This one's for Kendra. Our freshman year, Kendra and I inhaled an insane number of Grandma B's pink sugar cookies. I'm not sure what it is about the pink frosting that makes them better, but it does. For a year or two after surviving the 95-96 school year, I didn't like looking at the pink cookie, but my love has returned and these, though not quite as good as those yummy treats from Hart's, we perfectly yummy. I only wish Kendra were here to share them with me!

Gifts I LOVE

I never got to share some of the wonderful presents I got for my birthday and Christmas. They're worth sharing too!

This first one is a necklace Jake MADE me for my birthday! These are big, chocolate pearls that Jake bought here and then tied them together himself! If you look at the closeup picture, there is a tiny knot in between each pearl. It's hard to do and takes a long time, but my sister-in-law, Connie, taught him to do it and he painstakingly endured the process. It turned out beautifully!




This cook book was a collaborative effort. My sister-in-law, Cheryl, compiled recipes from everyone in the family and put together this cook book for us. It has all my mom's favorite recipes in it along with each individual family's favorites.



My mom and Brad's family each gave me a cook book for Christmas. My mom gave me the "Deceptively Delicious" one which has kid-friendly recipes that are healthy. The Cookies book...well, let's just say, it's not so healthy...but AMAZING!!! I'll post some of my favorites as I make them. They are so creative and yummy. Of course they are...it's Martha!!!

And last but certainly not least, my new enameled dutch oven. So far it has cooked some amazing roast beef and tender pork ribs. I'm anxious to make some of Heidi's Crusty, No Knead Bread (from the Jorgensen Family Cook Book) but I have to figure out what to do about the handle of the dutch oven. The bread needs to be cooked at 500 degrees and the handle is only good up to 400. I just need to think of something to put over the hole if I take the handle off. Any ideas?? The bread is definitely worth figuring this one out.

3-2 strikes back

Monday Jake turned 32. Now, I could spend this entire post apologizing for not posting something about it sooner...and you could fill up the comments with apologies to Jake for not calling to wish him a happy birthday. But instead, I will tell you about the fun we had celebrating Jake's big day, and include a few fun facts about Jake, and round it off with some fun pictures of him. Sound good?

We celebrated Jake's birthday on Sunday with Brad's family. It was a James Bond theme...well roughly so. I made a couple signs and we all drank from martini glasses. It was fun though. We had roast beef with horseradish, mashed potatoes, rolls, salad, buffalo wings, and a chocolate fudge cake with chocolate mousse filling and chocolate ganache topping. All per Jake's request. On his actual birthday, I met Jake in Columbia and we went to Red Lobster for coconut shrimp and salmon, and that night, I made tiramisu...which was amazing and I will gladly share the recipe if you're interested.

Jake is such a fun dad. His kids adore him. The other day Jackson told me, "mom, I love you, but Jacob's my best friend." I love the relationship they have. Kate cannot get enough of her dad. She just quivers with joy at the sight of him. It's so hilarious. Sydney is Jake's girlfriend. She loves to cuddle and sit on his lap. She has him wrapped around her little finger...and she knows it.

As for me, Jake is a wonderful husband. He is thoughtful and giving. Why, just this morning, he grabbed Kate out of her crib and took her upstairs with the other kids and left me to sleep an extra few minutes. I tell you, there is nothing like those few stolen minutes! Jake has accomplished so much in his life this year...graduation from law school, passing the CA bar exam, just to name a few. He works so hard and the kids and I are so proud of him.

So happy birthday to Jacob! He's our hero...and everyone needs a hero!

sydney and jackson helped a lot with the gifts

some of our yummy dinner

the chocolate fudge, chocolate mousse, chocolate ganache cake

jackson toasting daddy with his milk

happy birthday to daddy

here's to another year

agent 032


the delightful tiramisu

Friday, January 16, 2009

Happy 2009

Ever since I can remember, 4th of July and New Years Eve has been spent with the O'Loughlins...whenever I've been in Moberly, that is. Well, this year we were lucky enough to spend New Years Eve eating lots of yummy food with dear family and friends, the O'Loughlins, and rang in 2009, blowing up pop bottle bombs. Sydney and Kate weathered the late night well, Jackson did not...thus the crying picture with me. He slipped on the wood floor with his socks and a melt-down ensued. We all lived and are happy to be starting a New Year. On the docket for 2009: Jake catches up with me and turns 32, Jackson turns FOUR, Kate turns ONE, Sydney turns THREE, I will turn thirty three (the lower case letters were intentional), we will move SOMEWHERE, SOME TIME, we'll probably buy a car (or minivan), maybe even a washer and dryer (I know, a novel idea!!!), Jake will get a new job, I will hopefully start a masters program, Kate will learn to walk and talk, Jackson will probably learn to read and improve his writing, Sydney will learn to write...probably better than Jackson just to spite him, we'll learn to budget our money and save our money, and we'll decide whether or not to have baby #4 sometime in 2010. (That's not an announcement or any sort of committment...just a mention that we'll be thinking about it!) But most of all, we're going to enjoy this year and have more fun together as a family.



Little Stinker #2

Jackson was a skunk for his first Halloween. Sydney never got to wear the skunk costume. But Kate...Kate was lucky enough to don the precious, monochromatic suit...and I think she made a cute little stinker!



The Big 3-2

Is it ok to call each birthday "the big x-x"? I suppose I shouldn't call it that. After all, there is nothing big about being 32. It feels no different than 31. I guess I do like being a nice, even number. In general I like the number 32 more than 31, but as an age, it's not significant. It did occur to me that it's been 16 years since my 16th birthday. I remember that birthday was such a big deal and it couldn't come fast enough. And now I'm TWICE that! There is something still magical about a birthday, just as there is with New Years. I get to start a new year in history..."when I was thirty two I..." I'll let you know when I have something interesting to complete that sentence with...but it's gonna be great. At least that's my plan! (FYI...this post was another "catch up." My birthday was actually on December 14th and we celebrated it in these photos on the 7th because we were in Utah on the 14th.)
This is the amazing cake Jake made for me. It was FABULOUS!!!!



Here's evidence of the yumminess on the inside...chocolate cake layered with stabilized cream...all seven layers!!!

The kids LOVED it!!!! Are you surprised??

I know you're all wondering about the recipe for this delightful cake, so here it is:

Chocolate Cream Cake
from Lion House Classics Cookbook

1 package devil's food cake mix
Chocolate Frosting (below)
Stabalized Whipping Cream (below)

Follow package directions, prepare and bake cake mix in two 9-inch round pans. Cool and split layers horizontally. (the original recipe only uses 3 of the 4 layers of cake and instructs you to freeze the 4th layer but we used all 4 and had PLENTY of cream) While cake is baking, prepare Chocolate Frosting and Stabilized Cream.

Chocolate Frosting
4 T. cocoa
3 C. powdered sugar
4 T. butter, softened
2-3 T. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

In mixing bowl, mix cocoa and powdered sugar. Add softened butter, milk, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

Stabilized Whipping Cream
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 C. cold water
3 C. heavy whipping cream
3/4 C. powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

In small saucepan, combine gelatin with water, let stand until thick. Stir constantly over low heat until just dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly but do not allow to thicken. In large mixing bowl, whip cream, sugar, and vanilla until slightly thick. On low speed, gradually add gelatin, then beat on high until cream is thick.

To assemble cake: Place one layer of cake on serving plate. Spread evenly with half the Stabilized Whipping Cream, to within half an inch of the edge of cake. Place another cake layer on top of cream, then another layer of cream. Alternate cake and cream for a total of five layers (we made 7), ending with cake layer. Gently press down on top layer to set layers together. Frost entire cake with Chocolate Frosting.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Utah


Jake's sister Wendy surprised us all at the end of October and announced she would be getting married December 12. Jake and I were able to take the trip our there with our kids to see it all go down, along with the birth of our nephew, Porter (Joe & Heidi), Josh's birthday, my birthday, a baby shower for Tricia and a Skousen family Christmas party. Whew. Yep...it was a fast and furious trip, but a lot of fun.


Me & Kate at the temple waiting for pictures.


Sydney posing in her new jumper grandma and I made for the girls.



Kate and Sydney riding in style.


Brittany and Jen wait with Sydney for Tim & Wendy to come out of the temple.

Aunt Liz and Kate at the Reception.

Kate and Ben, er, Ben's son, Reagan.

Edible Art

Having kids is such a great excuse to make yummy sugar cookies. They love to decorate cookies with frosting and candy...and conveniently, I love EATING cookies decorated with frosting and candy. MMMMmmm....perfect.


One of our cold weather projects has been marshmallow/toothpick robots. Jackson thought it was very important that they be able to hold hands. It looks to me like he's been playing too many "Wow wow wubbzy" games on the computer!



Saturday, January 3, 2009

We're not dead yet

So yes, we've been MIA, but we're still kicking. Give me a couple days and we'll have a plethora or updates to catch you up on the Skousen family! I know you're on the edge of your seat....