Monday, January 30, 2012

Moments that last

My Dad learned to play the accordion when he was a kid. At the insistence from some of the grandchildren yesterday, he pulled his accordions out and played a bit. He tried to teach some of us a simple song to play. It is harder than it looks! You have to play different things with each hand all the while pumping it full of air. That takes some talent! You have to be able to walk and chew gum...or pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time. Two of my brothers were trying to collaborate so they could play. It didn't work out so well...but we had some good laughs! My 14 year old son was able to keep time and learn the song. At one point, three of us were trying to play at one time.
We seem to get together less and less as we all age. I cherish these times and memories.


Growing up, I always wanted a sister. I finally got one when I was twelve years old. I left the house when she was six years old. I helped with tending her and changing diapers, feeding her and rocking her to sleep. She is now almost thirty years old! Time is fleeting! She is married and doesn't have children of her own yet. She stays at home and has cats and dogs to take care of. Recently, she has taken up new hobbies. She showed me some Latvian mittens she is knitting and they are beautiful! A few summers ago, she decided to teach herself to tat. She is very good at that as well. This is a picture of some earrings she gave to me. I think they are perfect!
My grandma's neighbor lived at "The Edge of Eden" and I loved to visit her in the summertime. She was always tatting something beautiful. She told me she would teach me. She is gone now. I never took the opportunity to learn from her.
My sis did try to teach me to tat and it is harder than it looks. I do admire this type of handwork and maybe I will take the time to still learn how to tat one day.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Happy late Chinese New Year!


2 cups cabbage , finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb shrimp , peeled, deveined and finely chopped
1 lb lean pork , ground
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine, sherry or 2 tablespoons white wine
1 tablespoon green onion , chopped
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons fresh ginger , chopped
2 garlic cloves , minced
64 wonton wrappers (usually 1 pkg)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh ginger , minced

Sprinkle salt over the shredded cabbage and let stand for 5 minutes, then squeeze out liquid.

Squeeze out any liquid from the shrimp.

Mix cabbage, shrimp, pork, soy, wine, onion, oil, ginger and garlic (filling can be mixed and refrigerated for up to 6 hours in advance).

On each wrapper (keep them covered with a damp cloth so they do no dry out) place about 2 tsp of the mix and seal the edges, use a bit of water on the edge, try to press out all the air and ensure they are tightly sealed (At this point you can freeze them individually on a cookie sheet and them place in a plastic bag. They will keep for a month. Defrost in fridge before continuing).

In 2 large skillets heat 1 tbsp oil, fry 16 dumplings for 1 minute or until golden on one side add 1/4 cup of stock into the pan, reduce heat to low, cover and cook, without turning for about 7 minutes or until the dumpling is translucent and most of the liquid has evaporated Uncover and on higher heat cook for another 5-7 minutes or until the bottoms are dark brown, drain put on a platter and keep warm.

I made these tonight. I used ground beef rather than pork and omitted the shrimp. I added grated carrots and would have added chopped chestnuts and red pepper if I had them on hand. They are so good and I love the dipping sauce! I made lo-mein for Chinese New Year and it was devoured before a picture was snapped. It put me in the mood for potstickers and here they are. I like to use a tiny bit more oil than is called for and I do spray my nonstick pan with a spray on olive oil as well to keep them from sticking.

P.S. Don't ask me why my picture is sideways. I can't get it to load the right you get a sideways picture. :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rejoice in fatness!

I have a great chocolate chip cookie recipe but just for fun decided to try one I found on the web. It was easy and fun to make. The cookies turn out fabulous! The most favorite thing I found with this recipe is that you can make them Humongous and they will cook in the middle just as well.
The recipe uses semi-sweet chocolate chips and I used milk chocolate.

Best, Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Blonde is a good thing

My favorite brand of butter was bought by another company and changed! Horror! I did try another brand today and was pleased with the results. I really had tried and tested so many brands of butter and found which ones worked for what and now I have to start that all over again. There goes 23 years down the drain....but on a good note...a whole bunch of baking and sweet making commences to test and try out brands of butter! My kids will be thrilled. :)
I made some blond brownies today that turned out exceptionally well. I would even dare say this is my favorite blondie recipe thus far. I used butterscotch chips rather than the chocolate ones the recipe calls for.


1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Measure 1 cup sifted flour. Add baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Sift again. Add 1/2 cup chopped nuts. Mix well and set aside.
Melt 1/3 cup butter. Add 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar and mix well. If shortening is used, add 1 tablespoon hot water. Cool slightly.
Add egg (beaten) and vanilla. Blend well. Add flour mixture, a little at a time, mixing well.
Spread in 9 x 9 x 2 inch pan. Sprinkle 1/2 to 1 cup chocolate chips on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Luscious Lemon Bars!!

I love lemon flavored things! I combined two of my favorite recipes for this recipe. I use my Mother's crust recipe because every other one I have tried pales in comparison. For the topping I use my sister-in-laws recipe. I like the lemon layer thick and lemony!

Lemon Bars

3/4 C. butter
1 & 1/2 C. flour
1/3 C. powdered sugar
Mix first three ingredients with a pastry blender until it sticks together. Press down into a 9x13 pan and bake at 350* for 13 minutes.

4 eggs
3 T. flour
1 & 1/3 C. sugar
2/3 C. lemon juice
2 t. lemon zest
1/3 C. whole milk
1/8 t. salt

Whisk eggs. Add sugar and flour. Whisk. Add lemon juice, zest, milk, and salt. Bake at 325* for 20 minutes or until center is set. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. If you want your taste buds to come alive, click on the picture and make it larger! Yummmmm!

Huckleberry Muffins

I love wild huckleberries! They are so sweet and very tasty. I bought some huckleberry plants one year at a garden shop and planted them thinking that they would taste similar to the wild huckleberry. These bushes grew crazy! They were loaded with huckleberries and I was so excited to harvest them. When harvest time came around, I picked these berries with great anticipation. I remembered my parents having grown them when I was young and enjoying them in pancakes, muffins and the like. The first thing I made with them was a huckleberry pie. It was disgusting! The huckleberries you can grow in your own garden are NOT at all like the ones you can harvest in the wild. They are very seedy and do not taste much like a fruit. I hated to waste my efforts in taking care of them for an entire season so I bottled the rest of my huckleberries. They are not great, but can be used in muffins or pancakes just fine.
I pulled out a bottle of them today and made huckleberry muffins. I have tried several muffin recipes and this one is my favorite one so far.

Huckleberry Muffins

1 & 3/4 C. flour
1 C. sugar
2 & 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 C. soft butter
1 egg
3/4 C. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 C. huckleberries tossed with 1 T. flour

Mix dry ingredients and make a hole. Add the wet ingredients all at once. Mix gently with a fork. Fold in huckleberries.
Bake at 400* 15-20 min.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Pistachio Pudding Dessert

2 C. biscuit mix
2 Tblsp. brown sugar
1/4 C. butter
1/2 C. chopped nuts
1 & 1/2 C. powdered sugar
2-8 oz. packages cream cheese softened
1/2 pint whipping cream, whipped
1 quart milk
2 packages pistachio instant pudding

Combine biscuit mix and brown sugar, and cut in butter till crumbly. Add chopped nuts. Press into a 9X13 pan. Bake 10 minutes at 375*. Cool. Cream powdered sugar and cream cheese till fluffy. Fold in whipped cream. Spread mixture over baked crust. Pour milk into bowl. Add pudding mix and beat till well blended. Pour over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate.

I am a believer in keeping the Sabbath Day holy. I don't go to the store on Sunday. This past Sunday, my sister called me needing a recipe. Our family likes a recipe called Pistachio Pudding Dessert. As I read it off to her, my mouth began to water! I had two bricks of cream cheese on hand and decided to make this layered dessert. I went to the cupboard and realized I didn't have any Bisquick for the crust layer. This was an easy improvisation and I just made one from scratch. There are plenty of this type of recipe online and I will spare you the details. As I got to the middle layer, I realized that I didn't have any whipping cream and thought that I would have to wait until Monday to finish the rest of the dessert. I looked online for ideas of substitutions and was surprised and a bit skeptical of the alternative but decided to try it anyway. I emptied a can of evaporated milk in a bowl and placed it in the freezer for about thirty minutes or until ice crystals form. I then added 1 tsp. of lemon juice to it and beat it on high until it formed peaks much like whipping cream does. I do have to admit that the end result was a bit more runny than usual but very, very tasty. On to the pudding layer. Searching through my drawer of puddings, I discovered that I had used the last of the pistachio pudding. I decided to use one strawberry pudding (not sure if jello brand makes this flavor anymore) and one coconut pudding. This opened up the idea that many flavors might be fun to try in this particular dessert and the name would have to be adjusted accordingly!
Here is the recipe in it's original form and a picture of what mine ended up looking like. (my apologies for the blurriness, my son's camera is on its way out and I keep delaying the inevitable).

Tie one on today!

The reason I began blogging is due to my sister setting up a blog to enable my mother, sister and me to share our latest creations, projects or recipes with each other. At one time, we were all authors of The Sweet Magnolia Tree blog but my sis decided to branch out and start her own blog, encouraging me to do likewise. My sister creates the most beautiful blog designs and has found that to be her passion. I have found that I enjoy posting now and then about things in my life. It only takes a few seconds to snap a picture and a few minutes to write about it. I am definitely not a photographer but have been learning some things as I go. I do not claim to be a writer either but I have found that I am somewhat addicted to blogging...or at least it has become somewhat habitual for me.
I have only one sister who is twelve years younger than I am. She lives about two hours away from me. She drives in one or two times a week to work on a project and to do her grocery shopping. She used to come to my house but I have recently been accepted at the University and I have classes three days a week. My mother lives about thirty miles away from me in the opposite direction of my sister. They have been doing projects at my mother's house since the beginning of January. My mom is learning some type of knitting/crocheting. She made this twirly scarf for me. She is also making a beautiful shawl for my sister. My sister has been learning to knit and is so good at it. She made my mom some beautiful leg warmers and she made herself a purse and sweater. I do not think I will ever love knitting or crocheting. I did try to crochet an afghan once and I never finished it. I have no interest in it but admire those who do. Keep up the good work ladies!

Pausing to reflect

Growing up with two older brothers and two younger brothers, I hung out with the boys. My brother who is about two years older than I am was my best friend. We played together every single day. We had many great adventures. Riding Billy the goat, using a two by four as a teeter totter across the Rinderknecht fence (I was afraid of the sheep and made my bro go on that side), pushing snowballs around until they were larger than we were, building forts and digging for treasure, being stung by wasps and sitting in ant beds by the ditch, running through the lawn as my dad flood irrigated it, riding bikes everywhere we had to go in our seemingly large world, and making boats out of large zucchini to float down the ditch.

I loved my childhood days. Especially during the summertime when we would accompany my dad on his trips over the mountain to Bear Lake. We used to help my grandpa bring in the hay every summer. I learned to drive a tractor at quite a young age because I was a girl and my muscles were not much help in lifting the fifty pound bales onto the trailer. I loved when we used what my grandpa called the slip, which was a "trailer" without wheels that worked much like a sled or sleigh. My brother and I used to ride on the hay wagon, climb around the haystacks, jump off the stacks, and try to see how long we could stay on the four by fours at the back of the slip. Hauling hay is one of my favorite memories. Perhaps due to the fact that my grandpa was one of my very favorite people in the whole world and I loved working next to him. Or maybe because it was a day out in the sun with my grandpa, uncle, dad, and brother. Part of it may have been the smells or just simply being in the outdoors. Whatever the case may be, they are some of my fondest memories from childhood.

Camping would have to be another of my fondest memories. My dad used to take us camping now and then never missing the week during the deer hunt. He would make us wear orange vests as we were out romping around and even though he was not a chef, he would open a can of something every night and make sure we were fed. I loved waking up in the morning to the smell of the campfire. My dad was always outside making sure we had a fire to start the day. These trips consisted of playing in the river, hiking, playing games, exploring and learning to ride the tote-goat. I was about nine years old when I first learned to ride. I subsequently graduated to a trail 90, a 175, a 350 and so on. Riding motorcycles is one of my favorite things to do. I currently have a Honda Shadow Sabre 1100. I still enjoy riding with my dad.

Gardening is another of my childhood memories. I do have to admit that when I was a kid, it was my least favorite thing to do. Well, the weeding part was. I liked planting and harvesting. My dad was an avid gardener. He loved growing things. My mother was busy. She seemed to always be canning, baking bread or cleaning. Now that I am grown up, I look back at the gardening with fondness. I remember one year in particular when my dad grew corn that was a foot taller than he is. I remember him teaching me which bugs were bad and needed to be squished. He also taught me to differentiate between the tiny plants and the weeds. I have referred back to this knowledge a million times in my life.

Going after wood was a time I looked forward to. My grandpa used to accompany us and he could spot a good dead tree from a mile away. The men would chop down the tree and cut it into pieces. We would roll the pieces down the hill to the truck. I love the smell of pine and the sounds of the forest. I still enjoy a day hauling wood. I even have my own chainsaw (it is a Stihl too).

I didn't have many friends growing up. I seemed to have all I needed with my built in friends a.k.a. my brothers. Hanging out with the guys was where I felt I belonged. I remember a time when I even longed to be a boy. That phase didn't last long when the truck loads of manure came in for the gardens and because I was a girl, I didn't have to help spread it! I made lemonade and cookies instead! My mother did teach me to cook at a young age and I liked helping her by making the biscuits, muffins, cakes, or cookies to go along with dinner.

My best friend in Kindergarten was Brooks Taylor. I called him Tater Tot and he called me giraffe neck. We played together all the time. I hung out with boys in first and second grade as well. I do remember one time deciding that I would try and play with the girls at recess rather than the boys. I found the girls and they had two large groups that were fighting against each other over dumb Lip Smackers lip gloss! I didn't even last the entire recess before I was bored out of my mind and I abandoned the girls for the boys.

I still struggle with finding and keeping girlfriends. I do not enjoy chatting about purses, parties, shoes, or shopping. I love playing and teasing with the guys. I can still do this with my brothers but have found that when I fit in comfortably with the guys at other functions, I make some wives uncomfortable. I have tried to sit in on the women's side of the room and talk about magazines, hair, nails, and skin....but I have a difficult time doing this. I am often the only girl found playing football at Thanksgiving, hauling hay in the fields, or on the day long snowmobile outings, motorcycle rides and such.

Don't get me wrong here. I do love being a woman. I enjoy doing crafts and cooking. I also like dressing up on Sundays and every now and then to go out or for a family gathering. I even spent hours doing my hair when I was in High School. I have a ton of hair! It took so long to dry and then curl it and perfect it before I went to school. I can't say that I love to sew...but I do love the finished project and so I keep on doing it. I even love shopping when it is at an antique or estate sale. I don't mind shopping for needs but it makes it all the more enjoyable when I find a good bargain as well. My kids have referred to me as the "clearance queen". I am definitely happy to be a woman and would not trade. I love the "scars" on my tummy from each of my four children. They are valuable to me and nothing in the world is comparable to that of being a mother.

Several times in my life I have determined to find and make some girlfriends and even try to find a best friend that is a girl. I have been somewhat successful in this endeavor. I do have a few girlfriends ( and I am so thankful for them and love them)...but none that call me or that I go out and do things with. As a 41 year old woman, I am still on the quest to find a girlfriend that I can hang with that likes doing the things I do and that I can just talk candidly with. I do have a few girlfriends that I could call and I think they would hang with me. I also have a few cousins that are female that I love hanging out with as well. I made a few friends when I lived in Hyde Park, River Heights and then a few in Paradise and I am so grateful for them. I am sure it is me and my perceptions, but I still don't feel like I belong to a group of women. For instance, when I walk into a meeting with all women, I don't ever feel like I am a part of them or that I belong. I often feel like I stick out like a sore thumb or that I am not where I belong.

I think it is something I need to overcome. I moved four months ago and I do feel as though I have been accepted and have a few new friends...but in the back of my mind, I am waiting for them to find out more about me and then dislike me. I remember in one of the places I lived, the women would get together and have a movie night or go out to eat together. I worked in a calling with some of the women who were part of this and they would often tell me that the topic of the nights conversation was me and how my kids are so perfect and how my house is so perfect and my hair and so on. I was never invited to these events and often told how someone's daughter would want her mom to do her hair like I do...but the mom would say...sorry, I cannot compare to Marnie! I have even been told by someone who saw my house in a complete disaster that they were relieved to find out that I am human. I am so human and people often point out my shortcoming or weaknesses. My x-husband would cling to any small thing I did wrong and bring it up all the time, consistently in front of others and seem to revel in it. I am not sure why I have this effect on people. But I have been and am still trying to figure it out and I really do want to be normal or fit in with the women.

What I have learned from these life experiences is that people need to be loved and accepted for who they are and not always judged or torn down. I remember one time when I was in a group that sang for a children's charity and we were practicing at my place, one of the girls in the group came through the door and though I barely knew her, told me that she had tried out for a main role in Les Miserables. I was so thrilled for her and told her how exciting that was and I hoped she got the part. She confessed to me that my reaction was the best reaction she had ever had. Her best friends had reacted as if they were so surprised she would even dare and they had told her she would not get the part. I don't know if she ever got the part or not but I do know that we need to build each other up and pat each other on the back and be glad for each other and our accomplishments instead of allowing the things other women can do to make us feel somewhat insignificant or small. Every woman in this world is amazing in her own right and does NOT need to compare herself or tear down a woman who seems to excel more than her or whatever. Every woman is of value and we need to love and lift one another up and build each other. I know that woman are naturally competitive and are easily made to feel less significant or like they are seems to be in our natures.

I guess in a way, this post is a shout out to women everywhere to stand a little taller, to be a little more kind and to remember that YOU are incredible as is everyone else no matter what their strengths or weaknesses are!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

It is in the bag!

This is a bag that I just finished for my daughter. My mom and I used to get together once or twice a month and work on projects. This is one of those projects we did together where life got busy for me and I never finished it. My mom would always finish hers at home and I would get caught up in the daily grind of feeding kids, cleaning, laundry and being the taxi driver. I had good intentions but somehow my project would end up on the shelf in my craft room. My sister and Mother have recently been asking me to take on some new things such as learning to knit or making pieced quilts or penny rugs. I have determined to finish up all my unfinished projects before taking on a new one. This bag is just some fabric that we sewed together with cut pieces of wool felt to make the stars, scallops and circles. The stars and circles are blanket stitched around and the handle is simply a sturdy piece of ribbon material. We didn't have a pattern as usual. We just kind of start with what we have and an idea in our heads. I think it turned out nice. It is a good size for books. My daughter loves to read and this will enable her to protect her books as she hauls them around with her.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012!!!!

My parents came over last night and we ate delicious food, played games and watched the neighbors light off fireworks. It was fun. My oldest boy who has NEVER before played Pirates Dice beat us all twice!
Good times were had by all. I made a few of my dad's favorite things.
These are tarts. They are good. These can stick to the pan if you don't use liners. I think you can purchase tiny liners anywhere.


1/2 C. butter
3 oz. cream cheese
1/2 C. sugar
1 C. flour
Mix these ingredients together and place in mini muffin pan using your thumb to create an indent in the center of each one.
Bake at 325* for 15-17 minutes
(makes 24)


I use instant white chocolate pudding mix but other flavors would work as well.
Whisk the pudding with 1 and 1/2 C. milk, 1/3 C. sour cream and 1/2 tsp. coconut flavoring.
I let this set up and the tarts completely cool then top each one.

He also loves Gooey Lemon Cake. It is very delicious and fairly easy to make.

Gooey Lemon Cake
1 lemon cake mix
1 egg
1 stick of melted butter
Mix the above together and press into a greased 9X13 pan.
Then mix 8 oz. softened cream cheese, 2 eggs and 3 & 3/4 C. powdered sugar together and pour over the lemon cake mixture.
Bake at 350* for 40 minutes.