Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ten Things to Smile About - May

Time for the monthly post of optimism...

1. Having homemade strawberry freezer jam again.

2. Having a much cleaner, more organized house!

3. Seeing the solar eclipse

4. Visiting with my in-laws in CA

5. Finding this amazing recipe for homemade granola bars! (I made them again this week... so delicious.)

6. Getting free tickets to go see a country music concert

7. The beautiful weather outside for Memorial Day! (But not the two days before, which were cold and rainy.)

8. The GRE being done!

9. Buying an electric, full size piano - it arrives Thursday and Nathan is very impatient for its arrival!

10. Only having 3 more work days before a nice long vacation... Saturday can't come soon enough!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Productive Weekend

The weekend isn't even half over, and I have accomplished so much! It's nice to know that I'm still capable of (mostly) self motivation at home now and then... Here's what we did yesterday and today.

- Last night, we cleaned the pantry and organized it. Before, you could hardly walk into it because the entire floor was covered in boxes piled haphazardly. James came over and helped us sort out the useless ones and consolidate the rest so that they took up much less space. I can't believe what a difference it made!

Before they were covering all the floor you can see plus some. I haven't even thrown out the useless ones yet - they're all the ones on the right side, and the good ones only take up two shelves on the left. We also consolidated all my plastic bags into one trash bag so they don't expand to take over the world.

- While we were at it, we also organized our spare closet in the writing room and condensed all the extra suitcases and bags we had thrown in the back. And I caught up on my filing too.

- I swept and mopped the kitchen floor for the first time in ages.

- I cleaned the bathroom for the first time in... well, let's just say ages and leave it at that. I'm sure you can imagine how fun it was to clean given that we both have longer hair now... hair everywhere. Including quite a bit down the shower drain. It made me want to get a haircut today, but I was car-less all afternoon.

- I made 6 batches of jam with my sister in law upstairs! Two for me, 4 for her. I may make one more batch later, but I'm set for now. (And it's set too, ha ha...)

My two batches, made with lots of help from small children.

- I did two loads of laundry too.

- And made dinner for the cousin party we hosted tonight. (In the crockpot though, so it's not like it was a huge time commitment...)

- Let's not forget Nathan took the GRE today and did wonderfully! Now that it's over, maybe he won't be so stressed out. :)

And of course the best part is we still have Monday off to kick back and relax.

I also feel it merits mentioning that Nathan proposed 4 years ago on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. So that's pretty cool too.

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Retro Gaming Tournament

Here are the highlights of our retro gaming tournament:

- eating wings (of course) AND getting 3 free soft pretzels because of a super nice waitress (who we then cheered and clapped for every time she walked by after that)
- the many, many occasions when someone would have one hit left and then kick the trash out of their opponent for a come-from-behind win (and the subsequent racket that ensued)
- Chuck and I playing Dance Central 2 instead of getting creamed on retro fighting games...
- finding out the James is actually really good at Dance Central 2 despite never playing it before
- seeing all the old video games Nathan made in high school (that he hand drew, pixel by pixel!)

The final standings of the tournament were:
1st: Jordan
2nd: Nathan
tied for 3rd: Jason and Derek
5th: James

The prizes I spent so long slaving over were a set of 4 Mario mushrooms (which I forgot to take a picture of, but I'll insert a pic of the ones I made at Christmas that looked the same).

Originally we were going to give them as a set to the winner, but then we didn't want the losers to be sad. So...

Jordan won one of our bob-ombs (I had two - maybe if I make one to replace it, I'll make it pink so it will be like the one in Paper Mario, Bombette!) and the red Mario mushroom, and everyone else just got a mushroom (Jason got green, Derek got blue, and James got yellow with red spots). And all were satisfied, and now I've made 10 of those mushrooms and given away 9. I'll have to fix that eventually when the crochet bug strikes again.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Party Week

This week is, quite simply, a party week. And also a work really hard week. (Even though we took Monday off of work.) Why? Well, we're throwing a retro fighting games tournament party tomorrow, complete with a trip to Buffalo Wild Wings and prizes! But that meant I had to make the prizes before tomorrow. I got them mostly done during the long hours in the car going to and from California, and then I finished them up tonight while listening to some QI. A party also means our house has to be reasonably clean, but luckily I did most of that before we left (because really, nobody wants to come home to a dirty house). Thank goodness because cleaning certainly didn't happen today.

Friday is the ever-so-exciting laundry blitz and Costco run, then Saturday Nathan takes the GRE while I make a year's supply of strawberry jam (I think I may finish before he does, but that depends entirely on how many children will be helping). Then we have party #2 with all of Nathan's cousins, which will probably involve lots of good food (courtesy of my crockpot), Super Smash Bros. Melee, and possibly some Dominion or other card games. Or maybe something else entirely. Dance Central 2? Rock Band 3? Nobody knows... perhaps I'll make those delicious lemon cookies again...

Anyway, I'm tired just thinking about the rest of the week, but at least there's a healthy dose of fun thrown in with all the errands and test taking. And now you have a little preview of what I will probably end up blogging about later... Spoilers! Whoops.

In other news, I'm reading Spellbound (sequel to Hard Magic, by Larry Correia) and enjoying it. Nathan replaced the pin connector in our NES yesterday and now all our NES games work tons better (especially after he cleaned them all thoroughly today). So note to all you retro gamers (all, like, 3 of you maybe?), if your NES sucks at booting up games, buy a new pin connector (they're about $7 on Ebay) and replace it. It's super easy and works like a charm.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Summary of CA Trip

We're back from our quick trip to California! Here were the highlights:

- petting kitties
- listening to my brother in law's mission farewell talk/musical number
- getting toes done with my mother in law (and assorted other in-laws)
- playing Poohead with Nathan's family
- watching the solar eclipse with special optometrist approved glasses :P
- eating lots of delicious food
- getting totally crushed at Mario Kart 64 and Super Smash Bros. by all of Nathan's brothers/male cousins
- not dying of boredom (or from anything else) during the 26+ hours in the car

And now, if you'll excuse me, I am totally wiped out. Apparently sitting all day is very exhausting.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Quick Update

I'll be on the road all evening, so I doubt you'll get a real post today... but on the plus side, I get to see my in-laws and CATS tomorrow! Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

HAT Update and a Clean Kitchen

Our prediction was correct: the Happy Action Theater game was a huge hit with the kids upstairs, and hopefully it helped them burn so much energy that they went straight to bed afterwards. (It could happen. Theoretically.) It was especially funny to watch my 2 and a half year old nephew, who didn't quite get what he was supposed to do but was utterly entranced. (Picture four kids jumping around wildly, and in the middle of the storm a toddler staring at the TV, completely mesmerized, and also unfazed by the general chaos around him.) 

In other news, our kitchen is clean again - probably for the first time since I last made that statement on the blog... I still need to sweep the floor but the counters are no longer nasty and the dishes are all done! I'm grateful to Nathan who did the worst of the dishes this morning. It was much more manageable when I tackled it tonight as a result.

In non-cleaning related news, we're in the midst of planning two trips and two parties in the next month, plus Nathan's taking the GRE in a week and a half, so I have a feeling my life is about to get crazy... hopefully work calms down to compensate. :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Game Review: Happy Action Theater

We got a new XBLA (XBox Live Arcade) game today called Happy Action Theater (by Double Fine, the company who also made the excellent Costume Quest game that I liked so much). In a nutshell, HAT (as I will be referring to it from here on out) is a bunch of mini "games" that you can play with up to six people. 

Happy Action Theater 4fa6cb73cdc388ed13f65c88 
It's strangely satisfying to swat helicopters out of the air as you stop on buildings.

I use the term "games" for lack of a better word; they aren't really games, but they are fun. There's one where you are surrounded by lava, and one where you can shake your hands to dispense seeds to grow flowers around you, and one where you are stuck in jello, and one where you are like Godzilla destroying all the buildings and aircraft around you... yeah. They're goofy scenarios that do some pretty cool stuff with the Kinect technology.

Happy Action Theater 4fa6cb73cdc388ed13f65c87

Playing it with just the two of us was pretty fun (though we cycled from one thing to the next after a couple minutes on each one), but let me tell you: this game is perfect for kids. I cannot wait to have the upstairs horde of children down to play with it because I think they'll have a blast and it will be highly entertaining to watch. I may even have to take pictures.

In short, I think it was well worth the $5 price tag (on sale) if only for the entertainment value it provides my nieces and nephews. Plus it's the sort of game that gets more hilarious the more people are there, so it bodes well that I enjoyed it even with just the two of us.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Update on the Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew Recipe, Pics of the Writing Room

Remember this recipe? Well, I made it again but this time I added bell pepper... and it wasn't as good. So if you are not a bell pepper fan, then definitely skip them. All they do is add some color and that bell pepper flavor that I don't like. (Plus it's one more thing to chop.) We also tried it with rice instead of couscous, and it was good both ways, so if you don't want to fork over the money for couscous, rice is a cheap alternative that will still be tasty.

In other news, here's a picture of our new retro game setup.

Under the TV, we have the SNES, Genesis, NES, and N64.

On the other wall to the right we have two bookshelves and our computer desk, and on the left is the closet and a rocking chair (thus making the room approximately 50% writing, 50% retro gaming). Also not shown: Harbinger fan art (from Nathan's second book he ever wrote) above the TV, and an 8 bit Game of Thrones picture that looks like the cartridge artwork for an NES game. Our geeky decorating is nearly complete!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

I was going to post a picture of me and my mom... and then I realized I don't have a picture of us together from anytime recently. So you get this one I snitched off of Facebook instead.

Mom at the shooting range.

Hooray for mothers who get outside the box now and then. :)

Some reasons I'm grateful for my mom:

1. She taught me how to make bread, pie crust, and many other delicious foodstuffs.

2. She taught me how to crochet.

By far my most ambitious crochet project. (The pen is included to give a sense of scale.) I made this in high school.

3. She taught me how to sew. (At least the basics. And my sister in law has continued my education.)

Though she tended to teach me the more practical applications rather than just making Companion Cube plushies.

At least computer cases are practical.

4. She taught me self restraint when shopping... and how to find good deals.

For example, these were under $10 at DSW on super clearance. 

5. She taught me how to live the gospel, and is constantly setting a good example for me.

I could go on. But that gives a good sampling of the wide range of ways she's influenced my life.

I cannot forget the great influences that my sister, sisters in law, and mother in law have had on my life as well. I am blessed to be surrounded by wonderful women who uplift and strengthen me every day.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Country Concert

Yesterday at work, we got word at about 3pm that several hundred tickets were up for grabs for a charity concert in West Jordan today. Apparently someone in Nu Skin made a hefty donation to the Olive Osmond foundation and got tons of tickets to the show they were putting on, so they handed them out for free to anyone who wanted some. The headlining singer was Clay Walker, a country singer who's moderately famous, and I like country music, so I convinced Nathan to go with me. (I'm going with him to see Nightwish in September in exchange.)

I didn't realize it would be outside, but at least I brought a jacket so I wasn't freezing. I enjoyed singing along to the few songs I knew all the lyrics to, and even the ones I didn't know were still really good. Clay Walker did a great job entertaining everyone in between songs and interacting with the audience (or at least the crush of people by the stage), having them pick which songs he did next and even having one girl come on stage and dance with him for half a song.

I do have two regrets; one, that we could have come an hour later and not missed much, and two, that I forgot earplugs. :P I'm a wuss when it comes to excess noise, but I survived well enough without them. Overall, we had a lot of fun and I'm glad we went.

And now I'll leave you with a link to my favorite Clay Walker song.

Recap of the Week

I am exhausted (typical Friday night), but there's time for a quick recap of the last few days before I fall over into bed.

1. We got quarter 1 bonuses this week! And they were pretty nice ones, too. I like it a lot when my paycheck is randomly bigger.

2. To celebrate getting bonuses, Nathan found a super cheap Sega Genesis for sale on KSL. So we bought it and now he's going crazy finding games for it (mostly with Goozex so he doesn't have to use real money, but a few off of Ebay too).

3. We went to a cousin's birthday party today and went swimming for the first time since last summer. It was fun, though that's partly why I'm so tired.

4. We found a media shelf at Walmart to put all our retro games on so they aren't piled everywhere! (They used to fit before on the available shelves, but our collection kind of... expanded a lot.) It looks pretty nice. I'll probably post a picture once all our Genesis games arrive. We also alphabetized them, put end labels on the few games that didn't have them, and updated our master list. I really like being organized. I also like putting together new furniture.

5. I made rice pudding and pizza this week. And I'm making that chicken and sweet potato stew again tomorrow. So no new recipes since the waffles and granola bars, but at least I've been making real food most days.

6. I watched Nathan play Super Mario World tonight. I am really awful at playing that game, but I enjoy watching someone play it... brings back fond memories of my childhood.

7. That's it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fun Flash Games

My sister in law recently shared with me some flash games she discovered and enjoyed. Considering the fact that I played them so much last night I ran out of time to blog before bedtime, I think her recommendation was a good one. :)

The website she sent me included a bunch of flash games referred to as the "Grow" series. The general premise is that you have a set number of things you can build (usually anywhere between 5-12) and depending on the order you choose to build them, it affects the ones built previously. The idea is that you have to build them in a specific order to max out the levels for each item, and if you do, then you win. The creator has made about ten of them so far. (I've beaten five, though I fully intend to figure out the rest of them.)

They're fun for a couple of reasons. First, they're quick: you can run through one in 5 minutes (though some take considerably longer to actually beat), so you can try a combination even if you don't have much time. Second, they're a mixture of trial and error that rapidly morphs into logic puzzles. Third, sometimes there are multiple correct answers, meaning added replay value! :P

This is the one I started with: make the sick person all better! The links to the other "Grow" games are all on the left, so check them out once you beat that one.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Modern Medicine

We had our Enrichment meeting for all the women in our ward at church today, and the majority of the meeting was a Q&A with a doctor from the ward. The few Sundays prior they had small pieces of paper available in Relief Society for people to write down and submit questions, so that the speaker had some time to prepare and also so that the questions were anonymous. I thought it was a fresh idea that was really interesting, even though I didn't submit any questions. (So if any of you are in charge of planning those sorts of things, maybe that will give you some new ideas!)

Anyway, it was particularly interesting to me because I so often get asked very similar questions at work by people seeking alternatives to conventional medicine to solve their health issues. I enjoyed listening to a health care professional talk about the flip side and what options are available there - especially because he was still open-minded enough to acknowledge that alternative medicine can still work. (His philosophy was basically if it works, great, he's all for it, be it supplements, acupuncture, medication, whatever.)

He described many of the conventional Western medicine options as a balance of cost vs. benefit - for example, if you are going through menopause, is the relief from the symptoms of menopause that you get from hormone replacement therapy worth the cost of having a slightly increased risk of breast and uterine cancer? For some women it is, for others it is not.

That's partly why I enjoy my own job (doing product support for a supplement company) so much, because the costs or risks are often dramatically less (meaning less pressure on my end) - it's more a matter of "here's the research behind it; try it and if it works then great, and if not, well at least it didn't set you back anything" (besides maybe a bit of money, I suppose). (Obviously there are some exceptions to that - like if they're on lots of medication already, adding new stuff to the mix when it hasn't been tested with those meds is going to present a higher risk of drug interactions.) My own philosophy is more or less to start small and go from there, or in other words start with the lower risk options first before resorting to higher risk options. (Though this can be taken too far as well, but that's another can of worms.)

I also enjoyed getting a little more insight into a doctor's job; it was interesting to me to see how much of it really was "let's try some things and see what works best for you". Everyone's bodies are the same generally and yet they all have their own little peculiarities that make some things work better than others. I really believe that our understanding of the human body and medicine is only scratching the surface of how it all works - I mean, the immune system alone is so incredibly complex that even a simple explanation of how it works blows my mind. And the brain and nervous system is still an enigma even after studying it in college for 4 years.

Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is the human body is amazing and I love learning more about it. Even though I didn't learn a ton tonight, it was still fascinating to hear about things I knew about already from a fresh perspective. Also, I apologize for the excessive use of parenthetical remarks in this post...

Monday, May 7, 2012


Confession time: we're not really big milk drinkers in this house. But I can't quite bear to buy half gallons of milk because, really, they're only like 10 cents cheaper than a whole gallon. So it's a pretty common occurrence for me to dump 1/3 to half a gallon of milk down the drain when it goes off.

This time it's a little ridiculous. Our milk expires in a few days and it's still over 3/4 of the way full. So this week's cooking revolves around recipes that use a lot of milk. (I have a feeling I will be making rice pudding tomorrow or Wednesday... and/or custard if I have the patience.)

Anyway, tonight was waffles! I used this recipe from www.allrecipes.com (of course). I must say it was pretty tasty overall - I did add in 1 tsp cinnamon, but other than that followed it exactly. I think it has a bit too much baking powder though so I may try reducing it next time.

Classic Waffles


- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 tablespoons white sugar (can increase up to 6 Tbs if desired, but I didn't feel it was necessary)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups warm milk (I microwaved it for about a minute)
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking powder and sugar; set aside. Preheat waffle iron to desired temperature.

2. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in the milk, butter and vanilla. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture; beat until blended. (If you're really ambitious, you can separate the egg yolks from the egg whites; mix the yolks in with the milk, butter and vanilla, and beat the egg whites until fluffy and fold them in at the very end after the rest of the batter is done. I am too lazy for this normally, but it does make the waffles extra, extra fluffy if you take the time to do it.)

3. Ladle the batter into a preheated waffle iron. Cook the waffles until golden and crisp. Serve immediately.

This recipes makes around 10 waffles in my Belgian waffle maker. 

Also, if you have any favorite recipes that use lots of milk, throw them my way!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Homemade Chewy Granola Bars

This time, Pinterest did not fail me! (I'm still disappointed about those mozzarella sticks.) I found a recipe for homemade chewy granola bars (like the kind you get from Quaker) and I finally tried them this weekend. SO DELICIOUS. And Nathan keeps going back for more - a true sign of success.

So here's the deal. First I made this granola recipe. Then I made it into granola bars with this fantastic recipe. Trust me on this one: you want to visit that second website. She has tons of tips and info that she's learned from lots of trial and error, and that's why mine turned out fantastic the very first time. I've copied the recipes below for you, but definitely check out the source material because it is fantastic. I just made plain granola bars (I was going to add chocolate chips but I forgot) and they are really tasty.

I am totally going to make big batches of granola and whip it up into granola bars whenever the urge strikes. Seriously, once the granola is done these are easier than Rice Krispy Treats.


- 3 cups old fashioned oats
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


1. Preheat oven to 300F.

2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a small saucepan, warm the applesauce with the honey and oil over low heat. (I didn't read the directions and just mixed everything in straightway without heating this up. I don't know if it really made a difference or not.)

4. Mix the applesauce mixture into the oat mixture and stir to coat everything. Spread the mixture onto a 9 x 13 baking pan.

5. Bake for 45-50 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until the granola is a deep brown. Remove from oven. Cool completely before enjoying.

IMHO, this particular version of the granola is not that great on its own (again, maybe that's because I didn't follow the directions completely) but in the granola bars, it is phenomenal. 


- 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 cups plain granola
- 1 cup rice cereal (Rice Krispies, etc.)


1. Line two 9×5 loaf pans or one 11×7 inch baking pan with foil or parchment. Lightly butter or spray the foil. Set aside.

2. Combine butter, honey and brown sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter is melted.

3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat.

4. Add the granola and rice cereal into the saucepan and fold them into the sauce until evenly coated.

5. Spread the mixture into the prepared pans and press firmly with a spatula to evenly fill.

6. Let sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes or until mostly cooled and set; lift out of the pan and cut into bars. Store in airtight container layered with wax or parchment paper to prevent them from sticking together.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies

In an effort to please my Primary class (who for some reason are tired of us bringing fruit snacks for the treat every week - come on, the 4 year olds never complained!), I made cookies tonight. And in an effort to please my husband, I made these cookies specifically - he's been wanting butterscotch cookies for a few weeks and that recipe looked pretty promising. For your convenience, I have included the recipe below, but remember that www.allrecipes.com is the real genius here, not me. :)

Cowboy Oatmeal Cookies (aka Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies)


- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup margarine
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla (this was a suggestion in the comments; I did not add it in but I bet it would be tasty)
- 2 cups quick cooking oats (I used old-fashioned oats)
- 1 cup butterscotch chips


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, cream margarine, oil, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Gradually stir in the sifted ingredients until well blended. Mix in oats and butterscotch chips. Drop from a teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheets.

3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in preheated oven, or until edges are golden. Let set up on the cookie sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

These were quite delicious, and the old-fashioned oats made them delightfully chewy too. Definitely recommended!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Book Review: Old Man's War

Man, I'm glad this week is over.

I re-read Old Man's War today. I forgot how delightful that book is. Also I managed to forget the prolific bouts of swearing in certain parts, but it is about a guy in the military (in space! fighting aliens!), so I can't really fault it for being accurate. Despite the story meandering around for most of the book, it's a strangely satisfying read with a sweet underlying message about love, not to mention a lot of really cool ideas that are handled very well. Plus the humor is spot on. I highly recommend it. It makes me want to immediately re-read the sequels, which is unfortunate because they are not currently residing on my Kindle.

Anyway, I thought about writing more but it's late and I'm tired. So that will have to do.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Nathan went to Buffalo Wild Wings again tonight, this time with a bunch of his old mission buddies. He brought me home some leftover wings and I figured since I've been fighting this stupid cold and am all stuffed up, I could really benefit from eating some spicy wings to clear the sinuses.

Well. All that actually happened is I ate four really spicy wings, drank 3 glasses of water, and feel like my mouth is on fire and yet my sinuses did not get the memo. Very vexing. I might have to resort to a hot shower before giving up and going to bed. Also, that was a lot of water in not very much time.

In other news, I've been playing a lot of Kingdom Rush again (I mentioned it a few months back as a good tower defense game) and beating all the levels on Normal difficulty instead of Easy. It's challenging but addicting and fun. There are still six levels eluding my mastery... and strangely, most of them are from the early stages. Maybe that's why I thought they would all be impossible.

I also have several new recipes I want to try once I don't feel like a plague bearer, so hopefully I'll get to at least one of those over the weekend... my gloriously (mostly) wide open weekend with nowhere to be but church for my niece's baby blessing, which is conveniently in the same ward we always go to anyway.


Hallelujah, my mouth has finally stopped burning from those wings.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Garden Chowder

I got this recipe from my friend Jason, who I believe got it from some family member who made it all the time. (The copy I have says Janet Crowley on the top. So whoever you are, Janet, thanks for the recipe!) I modified it slightly, but it's delicious either way. Also it's easily vegetarian if that's how you roll.

Garden Chowder


- 2 medium zucchini, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 Tbs minced fresh parsley (or 2 tsp dried)
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 c butter
- 1/3 c flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 3 c water
- 3 chicken bouillon cubes
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes w/juice
- 1 12 oz can evaporated milk
- 1 10 oz package frozen corn (I usually use one regular can of corn - drained - instead)
- 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
- up to 1/4 c bacon bits (optional)
- cooked shredded chicken or turkey (optional)


1. In a large pot over medium heat, saute the zucchini, onion, parsley, and basil in butter until tender. (This step takes the longest. I promise the rest of it goes by lickity split once you get past this one.)

2. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Gradually stir in water. Add the bouillon and lemon juice; mix well. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes.

3. Add tomatoes, milk, and corn, bringing to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 min or until corn is tender. (That last 5 min is more important if you are using frozen corn; not so much with canned.) If desired, add cooked shredded chicken and bacon at this point for extra protein.

4. Just before serving, stir in cheeses until melted.

Makes 6-10 servings depending on how much you tinker with the recipe.

If you have other garden vegetables that you need to use up, you can add them in where appropriate. I've used up extra celery that way, and I'm sure you could get away with adding in lots of other kinds too if you wanted to. I also often omit the can of tomatoes because neither of us like tomatoes all that much, but be warned if you do that then you will probably want to reduce the cheese or add more water to compensate for the lack of tomato juices (otherwise it is... shall we say... very thick and cheesy). Honestly, you could probably get away without adding any cheese if you prefer, but it won't be as thick or creamy if you go that route.

ANYWAY what I'm trying to say here is that this is an excellent recipe and very forgiving if you like to tinker and change recipes. It also feels excellent on a sore throat. (I'm not supposed to get sick in the spring when it's finally warm enough to go on long walks! Bah.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

April's Ten Things to Smile About

Time for April's Ten Things to Smile About post! (Also, sorry for not posting yesterday; I really, really wanted to finish reading Crucible of Gold by Naomi Novik. In retrospect, this was not the smartest choice, since I finished it at 1:30am. And forgot to blog.)

1. This little Pokemon that I made during General Conference - and now it sits on Nathan's desk at work and garners lots of compliments. 

2. Making Easter themed chocolate covered Oreos, courtesy of my in-laws who sent us all the materials

3. Finishing our steampunk goggles!

4. Making crafty stuff for my sister in law's fundraiser for Autism Speaks, and then having them arrive in time even though I put it off til the very last minute.

5. Nathan writing a book in 2 weeks (bringing his total finished up to 9) - and then I got to read it all in one go and it was really compelling! Now he's editing it to make it even better. 

6. We finally got around to trying Buffalo Wild Wings and now Nathan can't stop talking about how good (and cheap) it is.

7. We (Nathan and I, and my friend Amy) did a steampunk photo shoot with Nathan's brother, and the pics turned out amazing: 

A sampling of pictures not posted on my blog previously. (Mostly for my sister and any others of you not on facebook.)

I was very pleased when I found that watch necklace for sale in the mall.

This is my favorite one of Amy.

8. Speaking of the steampunk photo shoot, my amazing sister in law (well, one of them - I have three :P) helped me make Nathan's vest and my corset belt, and they turned out really well - especially since we made up the patterns from scratch! I am grateful for family willing to share their talents and teach me new things.

9. It is finally, finally warm outside - not always, but warm enough that sometimes I don't need a coat to go for a walk.

10. I got a new high score on Dance Central 2 (which I've been playing a lot more, hooray for exercise that's fun!) on this song - 2.9 million points! (No, that's not me dancing. I don't know how to record it properly... but you get the idea.)