May 29, 2011

Gimme Some...

So in my goals for the summer
I've decided to start a new blog in which I showcase some of my talents.
But since that is still under construction, I thought I'd showcase it here.

I grew up in a house with a very talented mother/chef/woman.
One of our traditions includes sitting around the table making/cutting/decorating sugar cookies.

Now, since I'm starting a new blog and I want to think of you all as family
I'm sharing a VERY SECRET family recipe.

Aunt Neala's Sugar Cookies
(along with tips for the newest of new bakers)

2 cup sugar
3/4 cup shortening
1 Tbs white vinegar
4 eggs
1/2 tsp alt
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs baking soda
5 cups flour

I like to save time by gathering all the ingredients at once.
This also cuts back on the repetitious refrigerator door opening.
Start by beating the sugar and shortening until combined and fluffy.
Tip Time: Line your measuring cup with plastic wrap for an easy shortening clean-up.
Add eggs, vinegar, salt and vanilla.
I also like to add a bit of almond extract as well for a little extra taste.
Beat these until combined.
Sift flour and baking soda together in a separate bowl.
Tip Time: I don't have a sifter, so I use a smaller measuring cup and just pour the flour into the correct measuring cup. This adds the appropriate amount of air and fluffiness to the dry ingredients.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients... SLOWLY!
I usually add about 1/3 at a time.
Portion the dough off into 3 sections.
Roll out and cut.
Tip Time: For softer cookies, roll to about 1/3 inch thickness.
MAKE SURE all your cookies are the same thickness or they will bake differently.
Bake for 8-10 minutes @ 350.
Tip Time: Seriously, these babies are best on day 3.
So I wrap them with a slice of bread to keep them soft and wait a while to frost.

Frost and ENJOY!
Now this spring sunshine is going to cheer up a friend in need!

Make 'em and tell me what you think!

Love much,

May 25, 2011

New Graves

To me, it was all about popularity.

That’s sort of the way my mind worked back in the days of the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Brothers Gibb. I liked to listen to popular music. I liked to watch popular TV shows. I liked to wear my hair the way the popular guys wore it. I wanted attention from the popular girls.

It was all about being popular, and the way I saw it, the more flowers on a grave on Memorial Day, the more popular the dearly departed person must have been. And if they were popular, then they must have been cool – or at the very least, groovy – and therefore worthy of significant time and floral attention.

Which meant that Grandma Walker was, sadly, uncool. Or at least, not very popular. She usually had three or four bouquets around her headstone – nice, but not . . . you know . . . groovy.

That surprised me a little. I didn’t have a lot of memories of my Grandma Walker, but the memories I had were pleasant and sweet. She was tiny, I remember that. And she always wore her hair back in a bun. And she was always smiling. She was a wonderful grandma, as far as I could remember.

But, evidently, not cool.

Who knew?

One Memorial Day we were visiting the cemetery when I noticed a grave not far from Grandma’s grave that was literally covered with flowers. I had never seen such a display. I was sure it was the grave of a movie star or a former president or a Mousketeer or something – the person underneath so many flowers had to be supremely popular.

I wandered over to check out the headstone, but there wasn’t one. Obviously, whoever this was, it was someone of such immense popularity that the grave didn’t even need a headstone. I was embarrassed that I didn’t know, and I wasn’t sure how to find out without revealing my own ignorance. So I asked someone who already knew I was ignorant: Mom.

“Well, I can’t actually tell you who is buried there,” she said. “But I’m pretty sure it isn’t anyone famous. People who are famous don’t get buried here.”

“Then why are there so many flowers?” I asked. “There aren’t any other graves in this cemetery with that many flowers.”

She stopped arranging the lilacs and chrysanthemums she was preparing for Uncle Max’s grave and looked at me gently.

“That’s a new grave,” she said. “Whoever is buried there probably died in the last week or so. All of those flowers you see there are left over from the funeral.”

The thought sort of spooked me. Mom could see it in my eyes, so she put her arm around my shoulder and tried to explain.

“New graves are special,” she said. “They tell us that someone recently made the trip home to God. And they tell us where there is new sorrow for people who have recently lost someone they love. So you can’t do any running and playing around here today. There’s a new grave, and we need to be quiet and respectful.”

Mom’s words are echoing in my mind as I prepare for Memorial Day this year. While I visit her grave to pay my respects to her this weekend, I’ll also be thinking of dozens of new graves in Joplin, Mo., and elsewhere, and the new sorrow those graves represent. And I’ll offer a prayer for God’s comfort and peace for all who are visiting new graves this Memorial Day.

Quietly and respectfully.

May 22, 2011


This girl needs a change.

So... I'm counting on my faithful followers.

My WONDERFUL stylist,
aka twin
aka sister
Is moving soon so I need to make a decision about my upcoming hair appointments.

Sorry for the random pictures... Some are super old :)

OK folks...

Help me out!


Love much,


I know I haven't blogged in a while
And this post isn't about much...

Just that I've lost 6 pounds.

Amazing what eating healthy can do... right?

May 11, 2011

Summer Lovin'

I can check off item #1 from my summer list.
Brian and I had a great time babysitting.
We also ended up not killing any of the kids which is a plus.

We got in about midnight so all the kiddos were in bed.
Tommy (10 months) greeted Brian in the morning like this.
Tommy is the sweetest little boy you will ever meet.
He seriously is so loving and doesn't care who is holding him.
As long as he gets fed.
He DEFINITELY likes his food.
Kinda like Brian.
No wonder they got along so well.

The first day we were there, we went with the whole family to Busch Gardens.
Becky (11) and JJ (9)
Brian became the hero at Busch Gardens when he won this GIANT dinosaur during a shooting game.
Which both my dad and brother lost.
So basically after $60... we got this dinosaur for FREE!!!
Don't you love arcade games?

After a wonderful Easter weekend, Brian and I hit up downtown DC.
My brother Joe flew us out a little early so that we could do some touring before we tended the little ones.
The first museum Brian wanted to hit?
National Air and Space Museum.
Brian wanted to read everything and take in all the facts.
I thought his brain was going to explode.

We went through a tour of the Capitol.
We tried several downtown cupcakeries.
We visited basically every museum.
And our favorite?
Well of course...
The Newseum.
Seriously it was awesome!
They have pieces of the Berlin Wall.
And other historic events that were covered and/or influenced by news outlets.
Plus they have this awesome view of downtown.

So after we played, it was time to knuckle down and become parents.
For 3 days.

On day, after getting the 3 oldest girls off to school we took the two boisterous ones to a nearby museum.
Full of boy things.
And as Dallin (2) would say it was was full of "air-pwanes and rockets and miss-os."
And might I say this two are the cutest!
He looks like a Dad already, right?

It was a busy couple of days... THAT'S FOR SURE.
It was a great experience and it was fun to let Brian bond with my nieces and nephews that he doesn't get to see very often.

And what did I learn about tending 5 kids?

I could probably handle one.

Now it's back to the grind of things.
Work. Reading. Blogging.

Love much,