Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cupcake Wars and more

This last week we had our ward Relief Society Birthday dinner. I signed up with a lot of other ladies to make and decorate 6 cupcakes for our own ward cupcake wars.

I thought it might be fun when I signed up...then as the day got closer I realized I was feeling pressure. I overheard somewhat asking "Are we being judged on decoration or taste?"  "Both" was the answer. 

Great now I felt double pressure ;)

So the night before I looked through my cupboard and saw what I had... a pineapple cake. That sounded interesting. So I made it and put in some crushed pineapple and pineapple juice in place of the liquid. Well they tasted good but they all sunk down in the middle (you can see my cupcake in the middle was sunk down. 

I ended out having to fill in the hole with buttercream later and pretend like the cupcakes were the right shape ;)

So getting my creative juices flowing I decided to work with fondant...marshmallow fondant to be exact. I have never worked with the stuff but I saw on TV that someone used it so I looked for a recipe on-line to make it. Not too hard, just messy and some work. 

After I saw how much it was to buy pre-made fondant in the store...I didn't mind the work!

OK so here is the recipe (in case anyone is interested)

·         8 ounces miniature marshmallows (4 cups not packed, or half of a 16-ounce bag)
·         1 pound powdered sugar (4 cups), plus extra for dusting
·         2 tbsp water
·         Food coloring or flavored extracts, optional
1. Dust your counter or a large cutting board with powdered sugar. Place the marshmallows and the water in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute, until the marshmallows are puffy and expanded.

2. Stir the marshmallows with a rubber spatula until they are melted and smooth. If some unmelted marshmallow pieces remain, return to the microwave for 30-45 seconds, until the marshmallow mixture is entirely smooth and free of lumps. If you want colored or flavored fondant, you can add several drops of food coloring or extracts at this point and stir until incorporated. If you want to create multiple colors or flavors from one batch of fondant, do not add the colors or flavors now. Instead, refer to step 6 below for instructions.

3. Add the powdered sugar and begin to stir with the spatula. Stir until the sugar begins to incorporate and it becomes impossible to stir anymore.

4. Scrape the marshmallow-sugar mixture out onto the prepared work surface. It will be sticky and lumpy, with lots of sugar that has not been incorporated yet--this is normal. Dust your hands with powdered sugar, and begin to knead the fondant mixture like bread dough, working the sugar into the marshmallow with your hands.

5. Continue to knead the fondant until it smoothes out and loses its stickiness. Add more sugar if necessary, but stop adding sugar once it is smooth--too much sugar will make it stiff and difficult to work with. Once the fondant is a smooth ball, it is ready to be used. You can now roll it out, shape it, or wrap it in cling wrap to use later. Well-wrapped fondant can be stored in a cool room or in the refrigerator, and needs to be kneaded until supple before later use.

6. If you want to add coloring or flavoring to your fondant, flatten it into a round disc. You might want to wear gloves to avoid getting food coloring on your hands during this step. Add your desired amount of coloring or flavoring to the center of the disc, and fold the disc over on itself so that the color or flavor is enclosed in the center of the fondant ball.

7. Begin to knead the ball of fondant just like you did before. As you work it, you will begin to see streaks of color coming through from the center. Continue to knead until the streaks are gone and the fondant is a uniform color. Your fondant is now ready to be used or stored as outlined above.

Ashley was my helper. The hard part was getting it colored. Lots of kneading and more mess. (My hands were covered in food coloring for a couple of days)

I watched a video on how to make fondant roses with each petal being squeezed individually between two pieces of plastic. They didn't come out too bad they just took a long time to get very many flowers and I had to keep the fondant soft so they didn't get cracks in them. 

(I found out I could soften my ball of fondant for 5 seconds in the microwave and it was easier to knead. Put it in too long though and it was destroyed)

Here is one of the finished products up close. I actually found pedal dust at Fresh and Easy when I had to run over there for dinner supplies so I got some pedal dust on there as well. 

I realized later that my fondant toppers were the same blue-green as my cupcake wrappers!

Meanwhile to get these beauties my counter looked like this after...not to mention the dirty dishes in the sink I didn't get to while I was playing...or the rest of the house ;)

I found out when I got to the party that men were the judges. They came out at some point and asked me what my roses were make out of. I told them and then they asked me if I had really made them by myself. I laughed inside thinking they thought I just bought some candy roses to stick on top. 

Well I ended up winning that night and here is my prize $200,000!

Wow!!  (Actually 2 100 grand candy bars ;)

I have to say there was some amazing cupcakes there that night! Some could've won for taste alone. At our table we would put a cupcake on a plate pass them around so we could each take a bite. Yum! Lots of people did an awesome job!

And in other news. I am now officially a substitute teacher. My name is in the system and I have my first job teaching a 5th grade class this Friday. (One of Jacob's old teachers)

To finish all my stuff I had to take a safety class including a section on Bloodborne Pathogens in Schools accompanied by the bloodiest video I've seen in a long time. 

I had to try and stifle a giggle a few times. Sinister music and an announcer expounding on the dangers of catching dangerous diseases from children (as cute gradeschoolers played in the background). We saw blood on light switches, kids spreading blood all over in the bathroom and a janitor cleaning up a pool of blood on the floor. I'm wondering to myself where all the blood is coming from. The worst was the guy using the paper cutter and we watch him slice his hand....blood everywhere and all over the bathroom after he cleaned up (everyone gasped at that one) 

The other extreme was a boy with a bit of a scratch being attended to by a school worker who had first put on industrial gloves and then gets a paper towel to put on his knee and then the paper towel is put in a special bio hazard bag in a special trash can. I'm thinking that might not be happening in real life ;)

Anyway I am now trained to keep myself safe from bloodborne diseases!

This weekend we broke down and bought the turtles a real aquarium with a filter. (I was tired of the stinky water I would change every couple of days)

After pricing the set up at about a couple hundred dollars at the pet store...we found the whole kit at Walmart for $50.  Gotta love Walmart for some things. 

When we first put them in and got it all set up the baby turtles were having a hard time climbing up the basking rock. Jeff was so worried about them he came home after sacrament meeting to make sure they hadn't drowned...they hadn't they figured it out by then. 

Maddie graduated from her last class at Petco and she is now a good citizen dog. The dog trainer there is much better at recruiting and upselling the next class rather than teaching the class we are in but we are now done! Or so I thought. I paid $75.00 for the vest to let her go in the stores and get her training hours and then come to find out he wants to charge us another $500 dollars to help her get her training hours to become a therapy dog. Hmmmmmm I'm looking at my options. 

This weekend Ashley wanted to use the vest and bring Maddie to a store. Jeff didn't think she was ready so he only agreed to take her to Petco. (we didn't need the vest there)  Ashley was disappointed and didn't think it was fun at all because that's where we do all the training anyway. 

Friday was the Alice and Wonderland play at Jacob's school. He didn't want to try out for it this year but we was happy to go and support his friends by watching them in it. 

We realized when we got the program it wasn't like the story that we thought it would be it was a Disney singing and dancing show about Alice and Wonderland. 

The kids did good and we were happy to see them but Ashley was getting bored by intermission "This is just singing" 

Jacob said  no way we're staying to the end he wanted to hang out with his friends and watch his friends to the end. What a good friend.

Ashley had Gold Rush days this week. Here is her get-up. I actually dressed up too but I didn't get a picture of myself. 

The 4th graders have been learning about early Californian history and they had their own mining operations going on. Their group had to stake their claim and pick up as much gold (feed corn) as they could and then stake another claim. If they picked up gold outside their claim they were considered Claim Jumpers and ....

they had to go to Jail. 

In jail you had to do 25 jumping jacks and answer trivia questions (at the ends kids were trying to go to jail)

I worked as a deputy in the field sending kids to jail and I worked in the General Store where the students were all given snacks, drinks and school supplies. What a fun day for them. 

I got this Jehovah's Witness flyer on my French! They had our name on the top I couldn't read a word of it. Obviously because of our last name they just assumed we speak french. 

I thought that was thoughtful...then I thought again. How did they get our name??!! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

St. Patty's day and more

This past week we had our nephew Ian's homecoming followed by a Thanksgiving style meal at Jeff's mom's house. I am kicking myself that I didn't bring out my camera! (I do that sometimes.)

Ian did a great job on his talk and I loved his testimony in Spanish. I always enjoyed reading his letters when he was on his mission, no matter what was going on that was challenging he always ended on a positive and each letter finished with "Keep pushing forward, it's all we can do" I always remember that from him and I was thankful that he would share his experiences with us while he was serving.

So for the rest of the week I tried documenting a little better with the camera. 

This week started Book Fair. It happens twice a year and when I can I sign up to help, I'll do fliers, set-up and work a few shifts. It sounds good beforehand but handling and stapling 1200 plus fliers is A LOT. I'm usually kicking myself at some point before I'm done. 

This year I decided to make a poster so we could put it out in front of the door when the book fair is open. 

I sketched out the design with pencil and then was going to trace over it with thick sharpie and markers. Ashley wanted to help and I wasn't too sure...then I relented and let her do as much as she wanted. She actually traced most of it and colored in a lot of it. She did a great job.

This year the book fair is set up in the library. It's much bigger and more open. 

I learned the hard way on the first day to ask the students if they are spending their lunch money for book fair stuff. Teachers (and us) aren't thinking that parents would appreciate their children going hungry in exchange for a couple of erasers. 


Last week Ashley got an honor roll award!!!

Jacob's report card also came in the mail and he got straight A's!!! So proud of both of them for working hard to keep their grades up!

Saturday was St. Patrick's Day.

It poured all day long!!!

I guess to get things green you need water to get it that way  :)

Our church picnic in the park was cancelled last minute so Ashley and I decided to go to the 100 mile club event and get a few laps in. 

It was raining at this event too but we decided to do an hour or so anyway.  It started out kinda fun, it wasn't to cold and while I carried an umbrella Ashley liked walking in the rain and getting her hair wet. The ground was muddy, there was no escaping it we just had to be careful not to slip in spots but overall it was kinda fun. Rain is so rare here she was enjoying being out in it. 

She even took her jacket off for awhile and got soaked. 

Then about the last lap and 1/2 it started getting ugly. 

The wind picked up and was blowing sideways knocking over all the EZ-ups and slamming us with rain. The field was now rivers of water and mud was getting deeper. Our shoes were sloshing and it was getting colder. 

Ashley said "OK this is our last lap"

I agreed. 

We ended up not having a choice they packed it all up and as we were finishing our last lap they pulled everyone off the field and closed up 3 hours early. 

At the end Ashley got a medal and finished 2 1/2 would've been 3 if the weather had cooperated. Way to go Ashley!!!

She was soaked to the skin and freezing...I was too from the waist down...we got home and peeled off our wet clothes and tried to get warm. 

That night Jeff and I went out to dinner and a play at the Lifehouse Theater in Redlands with the Riouxs.

We went to one of our favorites for dinner...Pat and Oscar's.

Here Steve is feeding some leftovers to the ducks. 

They even had green breadsticks in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

(you kind of had to get over the fact that they were green :)

For some reason when we were planning the play night I assumed we were watching the Broadway version of Joseph and the technicolor dream coat but instead the Lifehouse theater does all original productions. They had their own version of the life of Joseph. 

They actually told a more complete version of Joseph's life and the history behind the story. They did a great job and it was inspiring too. Thanks Rioux's for a fun night.!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Amazing week (it's Amazing Race time)

So it's that time of year again...another season of the Amazing Race!

For the last few seasons we've gotten together and picked teams to root for. The season before last season nobody ended up winning so this time we waited until there were enough teams left for each couple to pick two.

Here's our picks

The Williamsons

We met at Quadobas to give Bagley's their winning dinner (they won last season).

I think we got off pretty easy...we'll have to make it up to you Bagleys ;)

Elsworths with baby Miles in the background...

And us. Our second pick was last place this week, luckily it was a non-elimination round. Our other team is shown in the previews fighting with each other next time....I'm not holding out too much hope for us this season. 

Last Saturday morning Jacob was off to a merit badge clinic...after much prodding from me to get up and get his scout uniform on (it's hard not being able to sleep in on Saturday) and Ashley and I drove out to her mission for her mission project. 

Ashley's mission was San Juan Capistrano. It was a beautiful, hot day. 

I unwittingly wore the same colors as the docent outfits, a red shirt with black pants. I was asked more than once if I worked there....didn't plan on that one. 

We got the audio tour thingies and went to all the important places at the mission and wrote down information about them. Ashley decided (or rather I decided) that she was going to do a photo book...much better than having to do a diorama I thought. 

We were there about 2 hours, it was hot and we both were hungry at the end. It was a little slow going, we had to go across the mission for a bathroom trip, a detour to pan for gold, we rested on benches and zig-zagged through the compound instead of doing things in order. There was some prodding done by me at the end but all in all she loved it. 

She got to learn about the mission and see the uncomfortable beds they would have to sleep on, the way they tanned leather, made their food and even how the bells tolled after someone died. 

She also got to see places like the Serra chapel which is the oldest building still in use in California. They have mass there every morning still.   After we were done at the mission she was very happy to go over to Jack in the Box and get something to eat. 

So while Jacob was scouting Jeff and Taylor and friends (Cameron, Trevor and David) went to Hangar 18 to do some indoor rock climbing.

It helps when dad can belay you and your friends. 

They all had fun and Taylor even learned how to climb without ropes putting his hands in crevices to keep himself up. 

After we all got home I made a quick necessary trip to the grocery store and then we met the Davis family at the drive in to watch the Lorax and the Mysterious Island.

Taylor was out with friends so we just had Jacob and Ashley...more room in the van for us...then they hung out for the second movie in the Davis's van hopping up and down on the air mattresses...even more room for us :)

Fast forward through the week. I had multiple appointments at the district office to do fingerprinting, paperwork and drug testing so I can be a substitute teacher. Finally after waiting over a year they are accepting applications and the process is started. Ashley said she had a mean sub last week so I can't wait until I can sub her class for her! 

I also helped for a couple of days at Jacob's school book fair...he needed a book for class and kept forgetting to come in so I actually had to go out in the lunch area and grab him so he could buy a book...luckily he didn't seem to embarrassed by that ;)  Also...took the dog to her class, taught jewelry at mutual for all the girls, took kids to doctor's appointments and hung out with Jacob on Friday when he had a day off. 

I had to staple and sort 1100 flyers for book fair and I had a great idea. Jacob needs service hours and so I thought I'd have him help me and staple stuff. I had a lot to do and I was thrilled that I would have help. So he had his desk all set up in front of the TV, I got him all his supplies. As I was walking out the door I only heard the stapler every so often...hmmmm...I checked on him after getting back from Costco and he had stapled 3 classrooms worth of 2 hours....and now he was done. 

So I had to do the other 32 classrooms myself over the rest of the my idea didn't pan out too well. 

After the rest of the kids got home on Friday I took them out to hike in Sycamore Canyon. We had Jacob Rosser with us for the evening so he came too. 

Taylor doesn't like the hiking part as much....he wants to ride his bike. The dog runs to keep up with him and she gets quite a workout. 

I thought it was funny that Jacob and Jacob kept getting in front of us and didn't know which trail to take so they would have to turn around and catch up with us. 

When we met up with Taylor he had hit a sand patch and had taken a spill on his bike. He didn't even say anything about it but his skinned up knee, elbow and hand gave it away. 

He shrugged his shoulders and said "No big deal, it doesn't even hurt" and then started rock climbing. 


After hiking I took the kids to Wendy's for dinner and then that night we took the kids to see the Woman in Black which is a thriller, scary movie.  We saw it in a full theater so lots of people would scream at the jumpy parts. So funny. The kids liked it but Ashley hid her eyes 1/2 the time and Jacob left to go to the bathroom twice. 

My favorite part was Jeff scaring the ladies across the aisle from us as they were trying to leave the theater while it was still dark. He screamed like the lady in the movie and that scared them...then they were tripping out on Jeff being short (it was still dark so they couldn't see him well) and that made them scream had the whole 1/2 of the theater laughing. 

Saturday was kind of a girls vs. boys day out.  Jeff took the boys to the gym Saturday and played racket ball for the first time with them and swam in the pool. 

Meanwhile Ashley and I went to the Wizard of Oz with the Riverside Children's theater. They did a great job with the costumes, and dancing and props...but it was over 3 hours!

Love this picture looking straight into the sun...during intermission...eating snacks and wearing her St. Patrick's day hat she wanted to buy. 

That night Jeff and Ashley went to the stake Daddy Daughter 50's night. 

Ashley is dressed up in the poodle skirt I made her and Jeff is dressed in is t-shirt and Jeans with a "MOM" tattoo drawn on as well as sideburns (Ashley's idea)

They had a lot of fun at the stake center dancing, eating ....

and hula hooping. 

Girls table.....

Guys table...

They had a bubble gum blowing contest....didn't win it but it sure looks cute. (Its not really gum but a balloon)

So glad that they had fun dancing the night away :)