{ it's what's for dinner }

If you're on the computer right now, but you should be fixing dinner, I have a solution for you. You have to be able to run to the store though.

It was about this time last night that I looked at the Sunday leftovers in the frig and decided there really wasn't enough chicken to feed the three of us. In desperation I went to my cookbook shelf and pulled out this "Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade Cooking" cookbook. The Beefy Stew recipe looked like a good possibility. I ran to the grocery store (for me, only five minutes away - lucky) and picked up the ingredients. This soup-stew only took 20 minutes to make and my boys really liked it. I was happy that fixing and clean-up were easy. Here's the recipe. Make it tomorrow - it'll still be cool outside, so it'll taste great!

Beefy Stew
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed, cut into four inch rounds OR I used 1 package Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Shells
1 1/2 pounds beef cube steak OR I used 1 1/3 lb. petite sirloin steak cut into 1-inch cubes
2 TB flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 can (14 ounce) reduced sodium beef broth
1 jar (24 ounce) country vegetable soup
OR I used
(no broth)
3 cans (14 ounce) country vegetable soup

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake pastry rounds or puffs until golden (see package instructions). Set aside.
2. Meanwhile sprinkle beef cubes with salt and pepper. Toss beef with flour in a large bowl to coat. Heat oil in large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add beef to oil and saute until brown, about five minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to bowl.
3. Add soups and bring to a simmer, stirring to loosen browned bits on bottom. Return all beef to pan. Simmer, uncovered, until liquid thickens slightly and beef is tender, about 10 minutes.
4. Ladle stew into bowls and top each with a warm puff pastry round. (If using shells, pull layers into thirds and place pieces on top of soup. Serves about six.)

I can tell you - leftovers are excellent - we had them about 30 minutes ago!


hAppY biRthdAy dear BeCky

Yesterday, April 25, was Becky's birthday - Happy Birthday daughter! Our celebration started with lunch at "The Grove Deli and Market" where we got the biggest, I mean, hugest sandwiches I have ever seen. Delicious. Go there SOON, but save some money and calories by sharing a sandwich. It's on about 2050 South and 50 West in SLC. Did we get photos of those sandwiches Becky and Pitt??

After lunch, Becky and I headed to Gateway for a little birthday shopping. Went to the Shades store and got her a new swimsuit and a cute gray skirt. Wandered through Barnes and Noble and Sur La Table*. I bought a book I have heard is pretty good. The name of the book is - just a sec, I have to jump over to Amazon because I can never remember the crazy name of that book...oh yea,
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I'll tell you if I like it.

Back to Becky's special day. We went back to her house and they ordered yummy pizza. We made a salad and cut the jello jigglers. We had fun seeing old friends of Becky's and meeting new ones. It was a fine day - except for the freezing cold weather, but then, that doesn't even phase us anymore does it?

*Sur La Table has one of the more interesting commercial Facebook sites - check it out here.


nothing's cuter...

...than a little boy on his first birthday. The photo above is not a picture of Carter crying; it's how his face looks when he gets so happy that he can hardly stand it. It's the cutest little face ever. He was a happy boy yesterday because turned one and got a little birthday cake all to himself!

We all thought he'd be up all night after that sugar he consumed. But the little doll slept through the night and woke up with a smile on his face and a hug for grammy. Melted my heart. Hmmmm, maybe feed him cake every night??
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avoiding touching onions at all costs

I used my CHOP WIZARD for the first time tonight. There's a story. But first you have to know that my granddaughters Brookelyn and Bailee love to watch infomercials and 'special offer' ads on TV. Once we were watching an ad for the Chop Wizard, and I said something like, "I need that because I don't like to chop onions." (I really don't - I hate the smell of onions on my hands. Usually I cook with minced onion from a jar which is not gourmet at all. If I have to chop an onion, I wear my rubber gloves.)

Brookie was all over the idea of me buying a Chop Wizard. She immediately got out a paper and wrote the 1-800 number so I could call right now and order. I said, putting her off, "Oh, I usually order things like that on the internet." Brookelyn copied the internet address off the TV screen and three minutes later she came into the kitchen and said, "I have it on the computer for you Grammy." Scott had observed everything going on and went right to the computer and ordered the Chop Wizard. (It took two months to get here. In the meantime I saw it cheaper at Bed, Bath and Beyond, but without the free gift of a mini chop wizard). Brookie has also supplied me with the phone number for several other TV products like the Snuggly. Bailee loves this stuff too. The really ironic thing is that Aaron (B & B's dad) is somewhat involved with direct TV sales in his job. Someday his girls will be his competition!

Tonight I made a recipe that I got off the internet at allrecipes.com. It calls for chopped onion, which is why I used the Chop Wizard. It worked well. These pork chops are really delicious; and easy to make. Both Scott and Mike liked them.

Saucy Baked Pork Chops


  • 8 (1/2 inch thick) boneless pork chops
  • 1/2 to 1 onion chopped
  • fresh mushrooms
  • salt and pepper to taste - also other seasonings like Old Bay or garlic
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 soup can milk
  • 1 slosh worcestershire sauce
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup (I used two cans since I had 8 pork chops)
  • mashed potatoes, noodles or rice


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat, add onion and cook until transparent. Add the pork chops and cook for about 4 minutes per side. Season to taste with salt and pepper, Old Bay seasoning, garlic or whatever.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, combine the milk and soups. Place the pork chops in a 9x13 inch baking dish and pour the soup mixture over the chops.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes (40 minutes if your pork chops are over one-inch thick).
  5. Serve with mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, rice or noodles.


women-to-women service day

Today was our Humanitarian Service day. Big sigh of relief - I am so thrilled because it was a great day. We had a good response and finished all of our projects! Above is a picture of the invitations we handed out, designed by my boss, Georgana Hall, and printed at Sam's Club as a 4x6 photo. Great way to produce 800 'cute' invitations quickly. I thought Georgana did a great job.

This is the big poster with our theme, "Live Simply, Give More, Expect Less." We borrowed the theme from my daughter Suzie's stake women's conference in Las Vegas. Thanks LV!

This event started with our desire to have a Saturday of nice Relief Society service projects like quilts and baby bibs - easy things that everyone likes to do. We recruited Patty Grewe (above right with Jeri Anderson) to be the project chairman and she had some fun plans. We went to the Humanitarian Center for materials and they offered us a huge project - not something cute like we had in mind, but a pilot program called Feminine Hygiene Kits. Our job was to make the reusable cloth sanitary pads and holders that would be included in a kit and sent to third world countries where women and teenage girls have no products like we have for their monthly period. We learned that the women end up staying at home and missing work and school during one week of every month. Several international relief agencies are working on ways to help with this problem. This Feminine Hygiene Kit is in a drawstring bag and includes four pair of underpants, 16 cloth sanitary pads, 4 holders for the pads, nail clippers and a ziplock baggie. Our assignment was to sew 800 holders and 1600 pads. At first I was overwhelmed and almost said no. We had a meeting and our food chairman for the event, Karen Wood, encouraged me that there would be no project more satisfying and fulfilling that helping other women in this regard. My counselors and Patty jumped in with enthusiasm and started advertising and recruiting help. Once we explained this project to women in our area, they got excited and eager to be part of it. We also made three quilts and eight 'hugs,' which I can't explain but I'll get a photo sometime soon.

Karen Wood, below, was our food chairman. She - and her committee which included my co-worker/friend Janet Parker - fixed a beautiful brunch of roasted vegetable frittata; green salad with dressing, craisins, and sugared almonds; homemade whole wheat bread; homemade (yesterday by Karen) strawberry jam; and an assortment of cookies and fruit. It was absolutely delicious. Everyone loved it and in between sewing or quilting, they enjoyed sitting and visiting over fabulously-prepared food.

Our centerpieces were pretend cherry blossoms, borrowed from Shelley Dodd. They are darling in real life - she made from from real branches with tissue paper flowers. We placed them on squares of Adornit scrapbook paper and the tables looked cute.

Enjoy the photos, I'll explain more tomorrow!

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Forecast: SUNSHINE!

Whew! One down and three to go. Meetings that I'm in charge of, that is. Last night was our Relief Society Stake Leadership Meeting. I was grateful for the rain yesterday, because that made our theme seem very appropriate. The subject of our meeting was the church welfare program and what we're doing locally to prepare for disasters, both natural and economic. We had our area Emergency Preparedness specialist, Virginia Ratliff, talk to the ladies about what is going on in our area - such as CERT training, block captains for disaster relief, first aid updates, and personal and family preparedness (72-hour Kits, etc.). She was great. We decorated with umbrellas and spring flowers, and had cookies and a yummy slush with little umbrellas in it for refreshments. I have great counselors and secretary who help so much. We had 25 women in attendance - what a bunch of amazing women! This was the title on our invitations.
Forecast Showers: with a promise of Sunshine

Tomorrow is our big Stake Enrichment Service Day - I'll be glad to get that one finished. We've been working on all the details for months. Everything is coming together, except the unknown of how many women will come to help with the service project. We are setting up this afternoon and are hoping for 25 sewing machines, 10 sergers, 6 irons and lots of scissors. We are also setting tables for a lovely brunch - with Karen Wood as chair - so you know it'll be gourmet. Tomorrow will bring sunshine in many ways for me. The fourth thing is that we have a ward conference to go to on Sunday with each of us in the presidency speaking in Relief Society. Three different events with three themes; I'm about themed out!


yummy dishes

So I saw these dishes in TJ Maxx last week and had an immediate want-want-want reaction. I filled my shopping cart with plates, bowls, cups, and saucers picturing how cute they'll be for Christmas, Valentines, 4th of July and every other Sunday. As I strolled up to the front of the store, I was struck by the fact that I DO NOT NEED THESE DISHES, no matter how beautiful they are (or what a good price). I had this naggy voice in my head saying, "Is this a want or a need?" So I went back to the dishes aisle and put them all back, except for one dinner plate and one soup bowl. Which I use for my broiled cheese sandwiches at lunch. And I eat with a big smile.

The perfect antidote to depression caused by rain or snow is a take-out bowl of Olive Garden soup - I love the Pasta e Fagioli. I brought it home and placed the take-out bowl inside my pretty red bowl and enjoyed an early dinner. That soup is so good that I thought there must be a recipe on the internet - and yes there are lots. The following recipe sounded good whether you crockpot it or just cook it on the stovetop.

Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli Soup in a Crock Pot

(Copycat recipe from recipezaar.com)

The website says: This tastes exactly like the pasta e fagioli soup at the Olive Garden. Wonderful!

SERVES 12 -14 - this is a big recipe, can be halved.



  1. Brown beef in skillet. Drain fat from beef and add to crock pot with everything except pasta.
  2. Cook on low 7-8 hours or high 4-5 hours.
  3. During last 30 min on high, add pasta. OR even better, cook pasta on the stovetop and add as you are serving the soup.


:: a lovely Easter ::

Mike didn't really expect an Easter basket, but he's the only kid I've got around here, so I had to put a few things in a basket for him. He really liked my bright idea of putting a little cash into the eggs instead of jelly beans. "The best Easter treats ever!"
Aaron and Aimee came with the kids for a little while and we had fun playing and laughing. They loved the punch balls that the Easter Bunny got at the Dollar Store. After she had punching-ball lessons from Mike, Brookelyn got really good at it. Bailee loves to hang out in the playhouse baking cupcakes and donuts.

Carter loves to climb stairs. When he heard my voice behind him, he accelerated and tried to get away from me, laughing as he climbed. That kid's a fast climber. And so cute in his little jammies.


= a new roof =

Will they ever finish??? Can't this pounding QUIT NOW! I am going crazy. Do they ever take a break? Does no one eat lunch? Why do they have to work 12-hour days? Who invented that automatic hammer - it's like having a jackhammer on your roof. What is that awful scraping sound? I don't want anyone to fall off but....
We're getting new shingles - it's an awful thing to have to spend money on, but we did get some warranty money from the shingle company because ours were defective. These photos are from Monday - I was hoping they wouldn't work today - but rain or shine they're up there pounding. arghh
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