Monday, January 31, 2011

Bee There

We had our Visiting Teaching Conference yesterday. I was very glad to see the amount of sisters there that we had. I seem to remember last year's conference being a little more sparsely populated.

My RS President and I had this great there of asking the sisters to "Bee There" for the sisters they visit teach. These cutie little chocolate bees were made using a Wilton truffle mold with yellow melting chocolate painted in it for the stripes and a Popsicle stick inserted before they cooled. The head and wings were free hand on parchment paper and attached using melted chocolate.Once assembled, they were inserted into the cupcakes.I made 48 cupcakes (24 chocolate and 24 strawberry). There were 8 colors in all. Instead of cleaning out the icing bag between colors, I just kept filling it. It made some interesting variegated roses. These are some of the best roses I've ever done, and they're HUGE!
After last year (with so many left over) I was hesitant to make more than 4 dozen. As it turned out, there were some sisters that didn't get any (I'm SO sorry). Some day I'll get the ratio right. We handed out updated directories and new VT routes. I have a companion this year! :) I can't wait to start visiting!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Strangers' kindness

We got more snow Wednesday.

OK, so that's nothing new. I met Tim at Lowe's to pick up the kiddos. The roads weren't too bad, but I wasn't going any faster than 30 mph. Even driving on the highway was slow because they hadn't cleared it yet. So far we'd only gotten 2 inches.

After I got off of I81 and headed toward Gerrardstown, the roads got bad. I kept it in a low gear and took my time, and the kiddos were so good behaving in the back and letting me concentrate. We were all saying little prayers to overcome our obstacles on the way home.

The first obstacle was going up the mountain. We got 1/2 way up and had to stop for a stopped car. We ended up sliding, and only through his help and the help of a truck that stopped behind us, we were able to go back down the mountain and into the Post Office's parking lot to turn around. By then the snow plow had made a pass, and we were able to make it to the top.

The second obstacle was going down the mountain. Again, we kept it in a low gear and stayed far behind the car in front of us. We only slid once during the trip down, and there was a long line of cars, but we made it safely to the bottom and into Glengary.

The third obstacle was the bridge. I made it almost over the first time, but couldn't quite get all the way up. I started to back down, but ended up sideways across the road. I cranked my wheels all the way to the left and put it in reverse, and it walked me to the right until I was pointing down the hill again. I decided to go down, turn around, and give it another try. In the mean time, I waved down and warned a man in a big silver truck about the bridge (remember him for later). He made it over OK, and with a running start, we did on the second try.

The fourth obstacle was going up the mountain road of our development. Remember that silver truck? He was sitting at the bottom waiting for his neighbor to get up the road. If he didn't make it, he was going to give him a ride home. I decided to try it, but didn't get 10 feet. It was far too slick for me. The man in the silver truck, Brian, offered us a ride home, so I parked the car at the bottom and climbed into his truck with the kiddos. I told him I'd make him a cake for helping us. He looked at me and asked, "Did you make a cake for someone last year?" I told him that I'd made a cake for someone who'd helped my husband out of a ditch. Would you believe it was Brian? How cool. He drove us all the way to the house and even backed up our driveway so we didn't have to walk it. Wow, our neighbors are cool!!!

So, 2 hours after this ordeal began, we were home. I immediately called my boss and told him that there was NO way I was going to be able to get to work Thursday. He understood. Tim made it home with some difficulty that evening, but safely. We spent the day Thursday trying to shovel the driveway. Tim finally talked one of our neighbors with a suped-up Polaris go-cart and plow combination to plow the driveway. She will be getting a cake as well.

The kiddos helped me bake 48 cupcakes for Sunday, 2 cakes for our neighbors, and our second attempt at the white chocolate raspberry cheesecake. Lots of baked goods in our house, and I still have Amish bread to bake tonight.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

More Snow

I got a text on my phone this morning notifying me that school was closed today.


Note the sarcasm? It only snowed an inch, and the plant is still operating normally. I waited 2 hours for the sun to come up before I was brave enough to venture out in the slush again. I drove Tim's Nissan today, and the funny thing is, I did better in his front-wheel two-wheel drive car than I did in my rear-wheel four-wheel drive Trailblazer. Go figure. It did take me longer to get to work because I was paranoid about the road conditions. I took my time. Oh, boy did I take my time! I wasn't taking any chances!

The fun part will be getting home this evening.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Honey Chicken (again)

You know, since I first tried the Chinese honey chicken recipe a few months ago, I wasn't expecting the reaction I got from it. Yowsa! At least every other day, my kids ask me to make it for dinner. Mom and I tried making it with breaded/baked chicken pieces instead of battered and fried. I liked it, but apparently it just wasn't the same. So, if we make it, it has to be according to the original recipe. I think this one has earned a place in my recipe keeper book...

you know, the one with all of the cake recipes and desserts.

Yea, that one.

I'm not sure my little book will know what to do with itself. :)

Monday, January 24, 2011


So this is what the Trailblazer looked like when we dropped it off at the body shop for repairs on Saturday. My poor baby!

I know, it's just a vehicle, but I like my Trailblazer.

We dropped it off after I delivered a cake to my SIL in Winchester. I tried calling Tim to have him meet me at the shop, but I couldn't get through to his phone. We are SO getting him a new phone soon. His is one of the original iPhones (not the 3GS). We could be sitting side by side... I'll have 5 bars and no issues, he is "searching". Sure, try to call him. It'll ring and go to voicemail without even registering on his phone. And he'll be sitting right next to you.

Deep breath. Calm down, Erin.

Sorry, I get a little worked up about his phone. Anyway, we ate lunch at China City Buffet and went grocery shopping at Martin's. I spent the evening making cakes for our Stake Presidency for Ward Conference on Sunday. The, ahem, "cake fairy" left them each a Triple-C for them to take home, as is the tradition 3 years running now. I love the looks on their faces when they realize what is in the box. Even better, I got to hear the bishop and President Grow speak. I love listening to them.

In singing time, the junior primary kiddos got to divide into teams and compete to see which side sang better. The teachers sat in the middle and were our judges. At the end, they all did so well that it was a tie (the intent anyway!) so everyone got a mini cupcake. In senior primary, we worked on note names. I'm reminded of a poem that helped me learn them...

A, B, C, D, E, F, G
Music letters stop at G.
If you want to name a space,
just remember they spell "FACE"
If you want to name a line,
just remember, "Every Good Boy Does Fine"

And you thought you wouldn't learn anything new today! They had a lot of fun with it. We worked on the song for January and practiced our conducting. I'm worried about one of the boys in senior primary, however, because he helps his mother in nursery. I'm sure that he's serving valiantly, but he is missing out on the lessons in his classes, in sharing time, and singing time with me. I worry that he is missing out on a "spiritual recharge" that I've seen from experience attending class. I feel it, too, because I haven't been able to attend Relief Society because of my calling. I miss the contact with other sisters, hearing their experiences and testimonies, and understanding the Gospel through their involvement in the lessons. Maybe I'll get lucky. We're handing out new visiting teaching routes at the VT Conference this Sunday, and my new visiting teachers might come see me and fill that void.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Getting ready for the VT Conference

The Church reorganized some things this year. One of which was to do away with some meetings like the VT Conference. I liked the VT Conferences I've been to. They always seemed to pull visiting teaching into focus and give me a renewed motivation for the year.

My RS President and I (as the visiting teaching coordinator) decided that this would be an excellent opportunity for the sisters to fellowship and be uplifted, so we're doing the conference any. They did say it was optional.

I've been working on the new ward directories, wee nifties, routes, and tasty treats all done in the theme of our conference this year. I can't wait until it happens on 1/30. I'll have pictures of what I've been working on as we get closer.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Trailblazer + Ice = Bumper/2

I stayed home yesterday.

That's not to say that I didn't venture out, but when I hit a patch of ice and slid off of the road about 8 miles from my house, I went back. I hate ice. I hate driving in snow. I worked on cake instead.

Play in it? Sure! Shovel it? Maybe. Drive in it? Absolutely NOT!

I've got another claim in to the insurance. Gee, how much will this cost me?

Don't worry, I'm fine, and the TB is drivable. I only crunched the bumper this time. I was lucky there wasn't anyone else on the road. It could have been bad. Very bad.

I've decided that from now on, I'm not driving unless the main roads are clear. Tim is much better at driving in the weather than I am. I'll let him drive.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Movie afternoon

The kiddos and I talked about it and thought it would be nice to go watch a movie in the theater Saturday. The only one I liked was Tangled in the Hagerstown theater at 1:35; I had no intention of watching Yogi, and we hadn't pre-screened Tron: Legacy. Unfortunately, we had to stop for gas on the way up and ended up missing what would have been the first 1/2 hour.

Instead, we had lunch at Sbarros... Mmmmm pizza! Then we went to Wal-mart and picked up a couple movies from the $5.00 bin. We got some soda and popcorn and then went home to watch our finds. First we watched Garfield (with Dan Aykroyd) then Galaxy Quest (with Tim Allen). Both funny movies! The kiddos loved the movie date with Mommy.

Friday, January 14, 2011

So Wal-mart doesn't have everything

Last night after dinner, I went to Wal-mart with the kiddos to find a Spanish-English dictionary to use during my study of El Libro de Mormon - Otro Testimento de JesuCristo (translation: The Book of Mormon - Another Testimony of Jesus Christ).

I went to the book section - a meager offering, I might add - and browsed the shelves for the dictionary. Best Sellers, Kids, TONS of Romance, Magazines, Bibles... what's this? NO dictionaries. Not even the plain old English kind. Oh my.

It looks like a trip to an actual book store is in order.

Pictures, pictures, everywhere!!!

I've been obsessing recently about the website. It bugged me that I hadn't posted any pictures yet, that it seemed incomplete. I wanted pictures of my Sous Chefs where I introduced them on the site.

Yesterday I finished building the pages and started uploading the content to the website. By this afternoon, I should have the Gallery up and running! I was having a slight issue with the links that I found later to be a missing .htm at the end of them, but I was getting a 404 error. I just thought how cool it would be to get a 404 that said, "The cake is a lie!" It would be awesome!

Go check me out at

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A day at home (again)

Tuesday at work they cancelled production, but said that the office personnel would report at their normal time. I figured that instead of going in at 6:30 like I normally do, I would come in at 8:30. Once they cancelled school in Berkeley County, however, I decided to stay home. no school means that the roads between me and the main roads have not been plowed. I wasn't going anywhere.

Instead, we had the kids pile all of their toys in the middle of the play room and start sorting while Tim and I built a quick shelving unit for their bins. It took us about an hour to get it together. Meanwhile, the kiddos got all of their blocks, magnets, cars, train pieces, and misc. stuff together in piles and bins. We reorganized the entire room and got rid of old, broken, or incomplete toys. We've got a large bag of toys to donate, cleared out all of the trash and missing socks, and put everything in its place.

The deal now, is that they can take their Christmas toys down stairs and put them in the places we've designated for them. They each may play with one toy at a time (or bin like the train set or car bin), but they have to put it back in that bin when they are done. They also cannot play with another toy until they've put the other one away. Tim and I are going to inspect each day until they get the hang of it, kind of like we did with the boys' room after we rearranged it. I'm so glad we finally get to clear out the living room!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Do you think it's too early?

I've been in email communication with a friend from our ward. She's been awesome, and she has great ideas. I've been asking her help and advice.

Oh, on what?


The books don't help me because I don't know diddly about conditions or soil or planting or seasons. Those people have never tried to plant a garden on the side of a mountain! Deb's first piece of advice? Have the soil tested.

I hadn't thought of that.

Maybe that's why my garden *EPIC FAILED* last year... and the year before... but who's counting? I'm so ignorant on this subject that I don't even know when to plant what, when to start what inside, or how to get it all in the ground. I'm so bad. Thankfully she is the voice of experience and reason.

So, sometime this week I'll pick up the testing packets and get those filled and in. Maybe they can find something that will explain the gardening gaff. I'm also going to try the seed company she suggested. They have seeds that work well in this area. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The tummy bug

I stayed home with Chloie Friday. My poor kiddos have been passing around this bug for a week now. First, Dougie got sick on Wednesday while he was with my mother. He said he went to go poop and his butt peed. Ah, the 5-year-old's definition of diarrhea. He also threw up, which I'm sure added to his discomfort. We babied him Thursday, and his tummy got better. That and a little Pepto.

Chloie woke up Friday with the same thing. We kept her home, did a little grocery shopping later that afternoon when most of it had worked out of her system, and babied her as well. I figured that Audie would be next on Sunday.

Man-o-man, I hate it when I'm right. Audie woke up on Sunday feeling icky so Tim talked me into letting him keep Audie at home. Good thing, too, because he ended up getting sick at about the time we were in Primary.

The bad thing is that I started feeling bad at about the same time. I was roasting in the primary room (thanks to the sun on our backs) and just out of it. I'm trying to teach the kiddos the second verse of 'If I Listen With My Heart' and losing my place. The kiddos liked using the squirt bottle filled with koolade to help their singing voices. I was able to use that to help me feel "better" so the kiddos didn't know I wasn't feeling well. I couldn't focus. I think I worried the teachers, but thankfully class was over sooner than later. I got a drink of water, took a quick pit stop, and stood outside for a minute or two to cool off and felt a lot better for the senior primary class. Especially after we opened the windows a little bit.

In senior primary we worked again on conducting in 4-4 and about the up-beat. I also selected two "guest conductors" to help me for the last two run-throughs of the song. They're doing very well. I think we might have gotten a little carried away towards the end, but they had fun, but I'm grateful that they're willing to learn. I even had one of the kiddos ask me for help afterwards because he'd missed the week before. I spent a couple minutes working with Jacob, who has graciously agreed to learn 'Praise To the Man' for the program, helping him with the rhythms and notes of the right hand. He's doing well. I've also decided to print off the music so that the senior primary can learn to read the music as we sing it in preparation for Young Men and Young Women. I'm confident that they will grasp it with the same enthusiasm as they have everything else. This week we'll be learning notes (whole, half, quarter, eighth, and sixteenth).

Back to the bug...

I managed to get Dougie and Chloie to my parents' house where Tim and Audie (feeling better) met us. We had Mom's breaded chicken dipped in the Honey Chicken sauce from our home-made recipe to dip it in. We agree that we like it better with the battered/fried chicken, but this was still a tasty alternative. We even tried the white chocolate raspberry cheese cake the kiddos and I made Saturday night. It tasted good, but I've decided to make a few adjustments to the recipe. I couldn't even eat a piece until after Tim drove us home and I spent 5 more hours getting over the nausea (we left his car there since I didn't feel up to driving).

I thought I was doing better last night. I was able to eat the spaghetti Tim made for dinner while he babied me, and I even got to eat my slice of cheese cake while we watched Golden Eye (skipping over the not-so-kid-friendly parts). I went to bed feeling like I was over it, but woke up this morning feeling not so nice. I didn't want to stay at home so I headed in to work, but I couldn't stomach the toast I made for breakfast. Maybe a little ginger ale and lunch will help.

Oh, one final thought...

The kiddos got to don their Sous Chef shirts to help me Saturday night making the cheese cake. Here are the pictures of their new "uniforms". They get to wear them when the help me in the kitchen from now on. :)

Thursday, January 06, 2011

I've got a craving for cheesecake

I'm going to do the "cake" for a wedding in April. They've asked for cheesecake. Mmmm, yummy! I feel inspired to try out my new recipe for White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake like the kind they have at Olive Garden. Tim said he'd never divorce me if I made it, so I think now is as good a time as any to make that happen. :)

I haven't made cheesecake in a while. Not that I haven't wanted to, but because I haven't had a reason to. That and it is very involved. You can't mix the cream cheese too much; you have to baby it while it is in the oven to make sure it is set, but not over-baked and dry. But it is tasty! I think I'll do it and hide it until dessert on Sunday and surprise everyone in the house! HEHEHE!!!

I'm not evil at all, am I?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Have Blood (and cupcakes) Will Donate

It's that time again. Time for me to eat a good breakfast. Time for me to actually eat a breakfast. Time to lounge around and feel drained. Time to try not to get light headed.

Time to donate blood.

Yep, it's time for me (the scaredy cat about needles) to let them poke my arm and take a pint. I saw the roster this morning. I'm not sure if people didn't sign up because they weren't here for the holidays, but our numbers are looking pretty thin. I'm hoping that the cupcakes I bring in each blood drive will help encourage others to donate. This morning when I clocked in on the factory floor, one guy looked at the tray of cupcakes and said he was going to follow me wherever I was going. I told him to donate today. I'll walk down the hallway enticing people if I have to. Can you see me? "Come here! Wanna cupcake? Wanna donate? Donate with me!"

In the mean time, this will bring my lifetime units to 6 pints donated. At 4 times a year for another 50+ years, that could be more than 200 pints or over 25 GALLONS of blood over a lifetime. Just wow. O.o

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Odd traditions

It's funny to me how easily things become traditions. The first time I was on a road trip with Tim, he sang the first line of 'On the Road Again' by Willie Nelson. A few trips later, I'm singing it with him. This past Saturday, I was amazed (terrified?) to hear a chorus join us from the back seat. Um, yeah. This will definitely make trips more interesting.

Monday, January 03, 2011

What year is it again?

You know, right when you get used to writing 2010, they go and change it on you. Now I get to spend the next 12 months trying to remember to write 2011.

Tim and I had a good couple days at home together last week. We watched movies, beat each other playing Wii games, cuddled... it was wonderful. No snow, I didn't have to work, and we got to relax. I did have a list of things to do, however, and completed those things while he was working. I typed most of the Primary stuff for music time, learned the songs, did some dishes, caught up on laundry, put a bunch of yarn away, and did some cleaning. Oh, Oh, and I got to try out my new game. You know, the one Tim got me for Christmas? Star Wars: the Force Unleashed is awesome!!! I spent 3 hours playing it Friday night and didn't realize it until Tim got home.

Tim and I didn't celebrate New Years. We decided to go to bed somewhat early so that we'd be well rested for the trip to Knoxville Saturday morning to pick up the kiddos. Thankfully, there was no snow, just rain, and the temperature was kind of nice (if you can contain excitement over a 50° heat wave). We stopped at a Burger King on the way home and let them play in the "complex" they had for a play place. This thing was 3 stories tall!

Chloie kept asking if I'd teach her how to knit since we got her pink yarn, purple yarn, and a set of knitting needles for Christmas. I told her we'd work on it after church on Sunday. She picked up casting on very quickly, though trying to knit the stitches is a little tricky. We'll just have to practice a little more. :) The boys put together their Lego kits - Audie his sea plane, and Dougie his race car. Audie did his all by himself while I helped Dougie. The kiddos even played the Wii some. Chloie seems to like archery like me while Audie liked sword fighting.

We had a good Fast and Testimony meeting Sunday morning. Tim even got up and bore his testimony about fasting. I'm so glad it works because we have a lot to be thankful for due to fasting. I was SO happy he got up there. He laughs at me for it, but I can't help but be happy that he's come so far from when I met him, but then again, so have I.

Well, now that the holidays are over, I guess it is time to return things to "normal" if there really is such a thing. I need to go grocery shopping...