Pizza Crust

Pizza Dough Recipe

One of the most requested recipes I get asked about is Pizza dough. Probably a couple times a week or more. And I have a few that I love. Pizza is one of our main foods we eat as a family. My kids all love it and so does my hubby and me. Making it a win-win around the house. Whether it’s fire cooked in our outdoor pizza oven or in our Wolf range inside all of it is a winner for dinner.

Really what could be wrong with a great crust and endless topping combinations?! While the three little kids most often go for pepperoni or cheese, our two teenagers are more adventurous and willing to try new kinds.

Some of tasty combinations are: (The toppings with a * are to be put on as soon as it comes out of the oven.)

Red Sauce:

  • sausage + fennel +broccoli + mozzarella cheese
  • The classic: pepporoni + mozzarella
  • fresh mozzarella + tomatoes + fresh basil*
  • mozzarella + argula* + prosicutto*
  • mozzarella + oregano + mushrooms + peppers
  • ham + Rosemary + feta + onions
  • churzo + onions + peppers + mozzerella

Pesto Sauce:

  • Apple + Gorgonaolza + walnuts*
  • Chicken + Tomatoes + Mozzerella + Basil*
  • Fresh Tomatoes + Mozzarella

White Sauce:

  • Mozzarella Cheese + Shrimp + crab + sundried tomatoes + green onions* + lemon*
  • Steak + Capers + Mushrooms

BBQ Sauce:

  • Chicken + Red Onions + Mozzarella + Cilantro*

Other ideas:

  • Butter Chicken Sauce + onions + tomatoes* + chutney + chicken
  • Olive Oil (then cooked for a minute) +

And for the Pizza Dough, I’ve tried quite a few and this one from Guy Fieri is my favourite for my outdoor fire pizza oven. It comes from his cookbook Guy Fieri Food.

BA’s Brown Butter and Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

I follow Bon Appetit on Facebook and they share lots of fantastic recipes. And I am often saving the ones they share. This one was no different. I saw it and thought YES I need to make that.

And man are they so good. I have strong feelings about chocolate. If you put average chocolate into your cookies, they will taste ok. But if you put GREAT chocolate into them, it really can elevate the flavour and taste of the cookie. It seems like you shouldn’t “waste” your nice chocolate on them but it’s totally worth it. I am also a big fan of a thin slightly under baked cookie. That’s perfection to me.

They are so, so tasty! The Brown butter really makes the cookies have a slightly caramel flavor. And the GOOD chocolate really adds it up a notch. I used Skor bars as my toffee.

And…… You’re welcome.

Bunny French Macarons

Celebrating Easter with some Bunny French Macarons.

While going to sleep last night I totally had this idea. And it was random but I went with it. And I have no idea if I have seen them somewhere or not. But I went with it. I made the little ears with white chocolate and red chocolate.

I made them on parchment paper and then put them in the fridge to harden. And then added the little heart nose and the little tails right on the macarons.

They are filled with  a Hazelnut Chocolate Ganache in the middle, made with some really really great chocolate. Yum! They were a big hit for the kiddies.

Just a little touch for a fun Easter.

Caramilk Pizza Cookie

Whenever I taste something yummy from someone else I beg until I get the recipe from them. I seem to collect them, more and more of them. Quite a few years ago my lovely Sister in law made these for me and I got the recipe from her, who got it from another friend. It’s one of my favourites and I haven’t made it for a while. Alden had to make something himself and video him making it for his young men’s tonight. (I thought it was a great idea for an activity.) His video was hilarious with Norah filming part of it. hahahah. 

This is a yummy cookie dough with Chipits milk chocolate chips in it plus Caramilk bars pushed into it. Hard to go wrong with that!

Always a hit with a group of boys. Or kids. Or adults. 😉

Basement Concerts

We love live music around here. We love concerts and plays and broadway. We love the arts. We play music and sing together as a hobby. And over the past year (maybe a little more) we have been hosting concerts in our basement.

 And we get a lot of the same questions about it…. “Are you scared that the band might steal something or murder your family in their sleep? Ha ha, but really… So how do the artists make money? From grants? Do they sell merchandise and the concert is free? Do you advertise in the local paper or just have friends and family come?” So I was thinking I’d answer a lot of them. And share some pictures of all of the artists who have come (and i made them let me take their picture) and links to their websites and music.
1. “How did you get started doing this?” About a year ago Regan and I attended a concert in Lethbridge of a musician we both really love named Dan Mangan. (And if you haven’t heard of him, you’re welcome for introducing you to him. And go watch and listen to one of my fav songs of his) After the concert Regan was reading Dan’s website and found that he had an organisation where lesser known artists would travel around and do basement concerts in peoples homes. So Regan emailed and signed us up. I was a little unsure about the whole thing at first. But I love it. March 4, 2016  was our first one with The Crackling. And since then we’ve had Jessie Speed, Gabe OlsenBarefoot MovementBen Bedford and this Thursday night we have Sweet Alibi coming. The first two artists were with one company, Gabe is a friend I grew up with and the last three are from an organisation called Home Roots.  We’ve hosted most of them in our basement but a couple we’ve had at the red barn here in Raymond.
 2. “How do the artists make money?” All the ticket money goes to the artists. We don’t keep any. And we provide meals for them and a place to stay. They usually show up in the afternoon the day of the concert and we have supper together. And then after the concert they stay over at our house and we feed them breakfast the next morning before they go on to the next home. They also all have sold CDs and some shirts.
 3. “Do you advertise in the local paper or just have friends and family come?” We have a Facebook group for our concerts. That was a later addition. I post about it on Facebook and for this upcoming one my friend Stewart made posters that I hung up around town.  We are still trying to figure out the best way to get people to know about the concerts. Many, many people say they want to come and support it and then don’t come. I understand that life gets busy, but I also think that if you love live music and you want to see it so up close and personal, there is no better way. I’m thinking of collecting an email list for the older generation that isn’t on Facebook but that would come and support live music.
4. “How do you do this with your kids?Are you scared that the band might steal something or murder your family in their sleep?”
Hahahah. A LOT of people have asked about if it’s weird to have them in our home. The very first time I was nervous – only because we had never done it before and I didn’t know if it’d be strange.  Our kids actually mostly went and stayed at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. But i think it is so good for our kids to be exposed to others and musicians and every single person has been respectful and kind and we have welcomed them into our home and made new friends. A few of them all our kids have been up but lots we’ve just put them to bed first. Our older kids are usually up and listen to it. I am sure that our house is different than pretty much every other house they go to on their tours. No coffee for breakfast, no alcohol or smoking, Lots of kids running around, a blessing on the food before we eat. I’d like to think its a good experience for all of us involved. And never once have I ever felt unsafe doing it. 
 
 Regan and I have talked about it many times, that we’d love to fill the theatre one day with a band. Lots of great music goes to Fort Macleod. Lots of awesome artists go there and it’s For Macleod! I kept meaning to email the people who run it and talk to them. But then we started with Home routes and it arranges one a month. So now that is enough for our family. Maybe in the future we’ll pursue that more, but for now we love that we get to host and enjoy live music and support the arts in Raymond.
 
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The Great Canadian Bake Off

So a few weeks ago I started getting people messaging or sending me links to applications to a reality TV show called the Great Canadian Bake off.

And my first reaction was like uh, no thanks.  I mean i obviously love baking. If you’ve read my site for a while at ALL  or spent any time with me you’d know i love baking a lot. It’s one of the things I do a lot and I’m quite passionate about. I love baking. Well my oldest two kids saw the link and asked me if I was applying and I was like no! why?! And they were both like, oh come on! It’d be so cool. I’ve never seen the show or any of the other ones (British, American, Australian) And they were very excited about it. So one night on a whim I filled out the application. Now I must say I was a tiny bit sarcastic in my application. Like under my signature item I wrote: Bread (everyone is always ragging on gluten but I think it’s marvellous.) HA. So when they called for a phone interview I was a tad bit surprised. And I even told the lady on the phone that.

But she told me I had a strong application and asked me lots of baking questions, and then that they’d love to have me come to an in person interview in Calgary. So after getting all that arranged I went. I didn’t know what to make at first. I considered donuts since a lot of people know me for that. And it’s a family tradition but I think they don’t travel well and really I kept coming back to my love of bread. It’s easier to travel to Calgary with and it’s bread! I love bread. And I love baking bread. And I love to talk about bread and eat it and share it. So that decided it for me.

But I love making so many kinds of bread that I couldn’t decide what kind to make either. So on Friday I made a lot to help myself decide. 8 loaves of french bread, 2 different white sour doughs (from two different starters), a whole wheat sour dough, two braided cinnamon raisin breads, 2 boules, and 1 batard. I made a couple at least of each kind for one to try and maybe one to take. But ended up putting one formed sour dough in the fridge and getting up at 6 with my kids and baking it in the morning before I went. This is a picture of my loaf I ended up taking. Along with some sharp cheese and balsamic vinegar + oil.

It turned out really good. I was totally proud of my bread. Which made me happy. My lovely friend Lonnie drove me up and I was very very happy to have her with me to distract me (I was getting a bit nervous the closer we got) and chat with me. When we got there at noon I sat around and waited. Then at about 1:15. Then we went into the kitchens. We had to plate the food and they took pictures of it. There was only four bakers in our group, which was way less than the earlier two groups, (both of the had 11). Me, Leslie, Kaylee and Jim. We are introduced to everyone – their team, the Judge Chef Rose. They showed us where everything was and talked about the show and the applicants.  And all of this was getting filmed. It was really relaxed and not stressful at all. Everyone was so kind and nice.

Then they did a little count down and showed us our recipes we all had to bake. It was scones, and we were supposed to flavour them any way we wanted too. I did blueberry and lemon. The filming around and in our faces quite a bit. (It was weird and I’m sure I answered them funny, haha.)

I talked a lot about my kids and how I bake for them. And I was happy to say “I’m a mom!” Then the Judge Chef, came around to each one of us to explain our dish we brought. So I talked a lot about bread and sour dough and the cycles of bread. (To my hearts content ?) then she wrote down and made notes, and tasted and told me it was really really really great bread. ? and told me that I obviously knew a lot about bread. Hahahahaha I was the only contestant from Alberta to make bread. So Im assuming it stood out. Then we all tasted each other’s. Which was awesome. Super yummy stuff. Macaroons, lemon tart and small cream cheese tarts with french meringue with blue berries on top.
Then they collected a scone from each of us. And then we waited around again and I enjoyed talking to the other contestents. Then I had my on camera interview and that was funny too. It was a total ramble, but lovely Meredith told me that was what editing was for. 😉 I think I was myself. Jim, one of the contestants was telling me everyone needs a roll and I need to remember mine is farm girl. HA.

It was fun and I realized that I might know a lot about baking. It was a funny realization. I guess. They were talking about different doughs and stuff and how hard they were and I was thinking… it is??  So maybe that was a good outcome of the day too.

They didn’t tell me when I’ll hear anything. They still have to go to Winnipeg, Toronto, Halifax and St Johns. They did tell me they give the people who got the on camera interviews baking homework. And mine was to watch the tv show. So I’ll try and do that soon.
I have no idea if it’s going to even be realistic to go and do the rest of the show. It’ll be in Toronto. And I have 5 kids. They fly you there and they pay for your to stay. And that just seems to impractical. And I’m not sure even why I’m doing it. Except that my kids wanted me too and i love baking. I’m really passionate about it really. And I want them to see me do hard things. To try for things. Why not. I do want to keep going. It’s a bit terrifying to me to be on tv. Not really something I have ever even had in my head, EVER. But it’s a challenge and I’d love to just see how I’d do.

So it was fun and who knows where it will go from here.

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Mom Story

I grew up with a very loving mother. In fact, I remember being little and thinking sometimes that my mother was smothering me with love. Ha! It was a daily given in my life for as long as I can remember back. Her love has always been something that has been the strength to my foundation for every thing in life. No matter what has happened or what I have chosen I know my mother loves me and there is nothing more valuable than that.

When I was a young adult and dating and even when Regan and I were first married, I was actually quite afraid to have kids. I wanted it badly but it was also absolutely terrifying to me. I had seen my own mother and how hard it was to parent and the heartache she had survived through as her children made choices that she took personally. Regan and I talked a lot about it and I always knew that I wanted kids. It was all I wanted to be when I grew up, but it was still totally and completely scary to me.

I still remember first finding out that I was pregnant with Alden. And I remember the hours I spent barfing. Out my car door, in the garbage by my desk at work, grocery store bathrooms. I barfed constantly and everywhere. And I was still so excited about the idea of being a mom.

In the weeks leading up to his delivery and becoming a mom, I was randomly calm about the whole thing. I had received peace about my role as a mother and how I KNEW that God would help me. I knew that I wouldn’t be perfect at it. In fact, I knew i’d make mistakes. But I also had faith and trust that God would make up where I lack.

The relief and experience of delivering a baby is almost hard to describe. But I’ll never forget the physical relief as well as emotional from hearing the voices of the doctor as Alden was born. “It’s a boy” “Holy cow, this is a huge baby”. “You did it Rhonda.” So many words of support and love coming at me. And then them handing me my firstborn. Locking eyes with Regan and feeling the power of love in our little family unit was eternal and indescribable. This was what I was called to do. And nothing that I wanted more.

Since then we have added 4 more kids to our family. And each one has been a challenge and a joy. Motherhood is no joke. It is physically tiring and exhausting. NOTHING pushes and challenges me more. And nothing competes with the joy I feel with it. Regan and I LOVE being parents. We love our children. I have so many many moments when I am completely at a loss of what to do. I actually have no idea how to be a mother. But I am trying every single day. And trying to put my very best into doing it. My children are the world to me and I am so very grateful that I get the opportunity to be involved in raising them. I get to spend my time nurturing them.

Motherhood is something that affects every living human. Whether you birthed them, adopted them, buried them, lost them, – our children are always a part of us.

Motherhood is something to be celebrated and supported and encouraged in every culture and country. Physically supported. Monetarily supported. Emotionally Supported. Love is not a burden, it is the reason behind everything. The power and strength of a country and even humanity comes back to the cradle and the homes where the babies are raised.



There is a United Nations town hall meeting today with the UN Secretary General that will be full of people who are hostile to the family and working against it on all fronts. Their voices are heard above the voices of parents, and we’d like to give you a chance to help our voices be heard and, even better, the Ambassadors and delegates will hopefully take notice of it!

Here is our initiative that we need urgent help with starting now and going over the weekend. We’re focusing on one thing at a time and tomorrow this is the goal: to testify about motherhood NOT being a burden.”

I am proud to be a mother. So very proud. I love these humans with my whole heart.

 

Please, please, please share the love you feel for being a mother, for your own mother, for motherhood, for your desire to be a mother. Even if you feel like this won’t affect you, more voices add power. Every voice of support is needed. For more info go go to: http://unitedfamilies.org/motherhood-2/motherhood-not-burden/

And we need it today.

#MomStory#EmpowerMothers#LoveIsNotABurden#CSW61

 

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Cat Birthday Party: Norah at 4

Norah turned 4. And she (mostly because of her older siblings ideas) decided that she needed a birthday party with friends. And it needed to be a cat party. So we did one. But I kept it SUPER simple. She had a few things she was insistent on. There had to be pink. And there had to be cat ears.

This cutest dress is from Little Livey. Isn’t it so so cute?!! And my lovely momma made the cute ears. I bought some thicker headbands, two colours of pink fabric and some dress boning.

I got the little cat stuffies from the local Pharmacy and each girl got one to take home along with their ears. Her big cat is what she got from Santa.

One shot of me decorating the cake. It was a simple white cake with a chocolate mousse in between the layers and a raspberry buttercream on top.

The whole party was acting like cats. They drank milk from “cat dishes”. And ate goldfish from “Cat dishes”. And chased yarn with their paws. And had a meowing contest. And they loved it. HA! What 4 year old little girl doesn’t like to act like a cat. 🙂

And then they had cake. That was it.

Fun and simple and it made her happy.

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Norah at 4

This lovely little girl turns 4 today. I still remember very vividly realising that we were pregnant. I had a nine month old. And I was barfing my guts out. And it was a complete shock to us. It always took us a lot of time to get pregnant and here we were with a surprise. That was something that happened to other people. And I was puking my GUTS out with a baby. I cried about it a lot. (After the shock wore off.) Months later when Id gotten my brain around it I was at the swimming pool and I saw a friend who lives far away. She was talking to me about having kids so close and basically she said “Oh Rhonda, it’ll be TERRIBLE for about 2 years. And then it will be so so awesome. They’ll be the best pals and you will love it. But yes, it’ll be terrible for the beginning but you can do it.” And looking back now 4 years later, she was SO right. The first 2 years were so so hard. But we fumbled our way through it. Lots of disasters and embarrassing moments (mostly at church). Post-pardum depression. Feeling completely overwhelmed with it all. But here we are at 4 and that feels like a lifetime ago already. And man do we love having this sweet girl as the baby in our family. On a side note, if the kids say Norah is baby, she always responds with “I’m the baby of the family, but I’m not a baby.” It’s adorable.

Norah at 4:

  • still doesn’t sleep thru the night every night (we were awake from 2-530 last night)
  • loves little things like little critters and small polly pocket style toys
  • is obsessed with her cousin Sage and asks to see her almost the minute she wakes up and she cries almost every time they said good bye
  • loves cats a lot.
  • is totally a mom’s girl
  • she knows most of her letter names and sounds. She can write her name and spell mom and dad and recognise all the kids names in our family
  • she loves stay and play and literally jumps for joy when it’s time to go
  • she loves to read books
  • she loves to paint and do crafty things
  • She wears dresses most days and loves to dress up
  • she still loves to be carried most places
  • she can’t wait to go to school and learn
  • she loves that she gets to go to REAL primary class now at church
  • she still is quite tiny, not even 30 pounds yet
  • her shoe size is still really small too – only size 9
  • she has very blue eyes
  • she uses her lower lip to pout quite often to try and get things
  • she loves to play pretend family especially with ollie
  • we just finally got her out of the habit of having to read her a book EVERY single time she uses the bathroom
  • she loves bubble baths
  • she loves playing in the snow
  • when something is cute she talks in a teeny tiny high voice about it “Oh this is soooo cute”
  • she loves pizza – but only pepperoni
  • she loves cheese – strings, sharp ones, loves a smoked gouda
  • she loves bread and fruit too
  • she actually is kind of a terrible eater
  • she adores and looks up to Lucy a lot and especially loves it when Lucy does “School” with her and teaches her things
  • She’ll ask me to list how much i love her and giggles the whole time while I do my list
  • she runs to dad and jumps into his arms to welcome him home
  • she’s my sidekick and goes most places with me
  • she’s used to playing with kids older than she is, so sometimes she has a hard time connecting with kids her own age

She really is loved, this little pal of mine. She is our best surprise we’ve ever had!

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One little Word: 2017

The past few years I have chosen a word to guide me throughout out the year. I’ve done (2016) health, (2015) Choose, and (2014) Focus. Looking back over this past year I didn’t pay attention to my word as much as I should have. I got too busy and got too distracted. But I’m trying agin.

This year the word came to me strongly one night while I was praying. Listen.

It’s something that I need to work on more. I get distracted VERY easily (I compare myself to that dog on Up… Squirrel……. )

(see that was distracting…. hahahaha)

This year I’m trying to listen more.

LISTEN To the Holy Ghost and spiritual promptings I receive. If I don’t listen, I won’t hear them or do the good that can be done around me. I love giving  service. I love that I have access to feeling prompted to stop doing something or start doing something. It’s one of the greatest gifts we have been given. So I want to LISTEN to it more.

“One of the most important things we can do is learn to hear and follow the promptings of the Spirit.” -David McConkie (from here)

LISTEN to my loved ones. When they are speaking (turn and pay attention to them fully); what their actions are telling me (too tired? need more attention? looking for connection? feeling lonely? etc) I have a friend who is a great listener and I love to talk to her because I KNOW she is listening to me. Every word. And I want to be MORE like that. Frankly sometimes I am just waiting to say what I want to say. Listen more and a little less blah, blah, blah.

LISTEN to my body. Too full? Stop eating! Need fresh air? Go outside! I’m tired! GO to sleep. (Although on this one I have to realistic and know that for me that means an early bedtime cause it sure isn’t gonna happen any other time!) Feeling emotionally drained? Connect with someone in person. My back is killing me? Keep doing my daily stretches and yoga! Listen to my emotions, my physical well being, my stress level, etc.

LISTEN to uplifting things. I usually watch TV as background noise. I watch it while I do other things. But some times I need to choose listening to other things. Uplifting things, helpful things, religious things. I’m not saying TV is bad in anyway

Listen has so very many positive connotations.  In 2017 I want to Listen and then Act up on what I hear and feel.

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Hands of God: FREE Printable

I wanted to share a free printable today of a great scripture. One that has such a lovely message.

8-5x11handsofgod

#LIGHTtheworld

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Cherry Tomato Crostini with Herbed Goat Cheese

I used to share a recipe every Wednesday and then I got soooo busy I couldn’t keep up. I’m back today to share one of my new favorite recipes.

Cherry Tomato Crostini With Homemade Herbed Goat Cheese Recipe

I’ve made it a few times now and every person I have made it for has said it is one of the best things they’ve ever eaten! SO so so so so good. It’s best made with lovely freshly picked cherry tomatoes. The ripe, sweet ones at the end of fall. They really make it so good. Cherry Tomato Crostini With Homemade Herbed Goat Cheese Recipe

And the fact that you roast them in fresh herbs and then let them sit in the juices and the flavors that come out of it are so sweet and yummy. Seriously I did quite a few and put them in the freezer when they were freshly picked because they are so good!

Cherry Tomato Crostini With Homemade Herbed Goat Cheese Recipe

Well all that roasted tasty goodness and then good bread. Which is dear to my heart. I’ve realized bread reminds me of my childhood. My mom always made our bread and buns. We had a lot of it around. We didn’t have a lot of money but bread was something we could eat affordably. So we did, a lot. That’s another one of the reasons I love it so. That and it’s so stinking good. 😉 This bread is what my kids call the seed bread. It’s an easy loaf that I have yet to actually measure the flour amounts to share with others. It’s on my list of things to do. Sometime I’ll get around to it!

Cherry Tomato Crostini With Homemade Herbed Goat Cheese Recipe

Anywho, back to this tasty treat. Straight out of the amazing David Lebovitz cookbook called My Paris Kitchen.  And on a side note, I want all his cookbooks now. I try and keep only my very favorite cookbooks (I have a BIG collection) but I really really love his recipes. Now I totally cheated one of the times with goat cheese from Costco and just mixed in the herbs. (Don’t cringe David!) And it was sooooo yummy still. Seriously. If you are scared by the length of this recipe (relax it’s not hard) then starts with Costco Goat cheese and try it.

Cherry Tomato Crostini With Homemade Herbed Goat Cheese Recipe

David Lebovitz's Cherry Tomato Crostini with Herbed Goat Cheese

Ingredients

    Herbed Fresh Goat Cheese
  • 2 cups whole goat's or cow's milk yogurt
  • 1 generous tablespoon mixed fresh herbs (be sure to include chives, as well as an assortment that could include thyme, sage, basil or flat-leaf parsley), very finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons shallots, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • generous pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes, stemmed and halved
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • handful of fresh herbs (any combination of rosemary or thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and basil or sage leaves)
  • sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Toasts
  • 4 thick slices bread, such as ciabatta, a country bread or a sourdough that is not too dense
  • olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • a few leaves of fresh basil, sage or flat leaf parsley to garnish

Instructions

    For the herbed goat cheese:
  1. Line a mesh strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth or muslin and set it over a bowl.
  2. Scrape the yogurt into the lined strainer and refrigerate the yogurt for 24 hours.
  3. Put the strained, thickened yogurt into a bowl and mix in the herbs, shallots, garlic, salt and cayenne pepper.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. For the roasted tomatoes:
  6. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  7. Combine the cherry tomatoes, olive oil, sliced garlic and herbs in a baking dish or pan that will hold them all in a snug single layer.
  8. Season with salt and pepper, mix well and spread them out in a single layer.
  9. Roast the tomatoes in the oven for about 45 minutes, stirring once or perhaps twice during baking, until they’re wilted and their juices are starting to concentrate — and perhaps brown a bit — in the bottom of the baking dish or pan.
  10. (The baking time will depend on the material of the baking dish and type of cherry tomatoes used.) Ideally, you want the tomatoes to juice, and for the juices to thicken and concentrate.
  11. Scrape the tomatoes and any juices into a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
  12. They can sit up to 8 hours, and improve the longer they sit.
  13. When ready to serve, make the toasts.
  14. For the toasts:
  15. Evenly brush the bread with olive oil.
  16. Place them on a baking sheet in a preheated 350ºF oven and toast for about 5 minutes, until light golden brown.
  17. Remove from the oven and when just cool enough to handle, rub the slices generously with the garlic clove.
  18. Let cool to room temperature.
  19. To serve:
  20. Thickly smear each piece of bread with the fresh herbed cheese.
  21. Set each one on a plate.
  22. Pluck out the herbs and spoon the tomatoes and their juices onto the slices of bread.
  23. Coarsely chop the herbs for the garnish, and scatter them over the top of each portion.

https://rhondasteed.com/cherry-tomato-crostini-with-herbed-goat-cheese

Cherry Tomato Crostini With Homemade Herbed Goat Cheese Recipe

I promise you’ll fall in love with it.

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Rejoice and Trust Printable

I’ve been thinking lately about all the things going on in the world. There are lots of sad and scary things going on in the world. I was reading in my scriptures a few nights ago and I found this lovely verse. And I think it gives so much power and hope.

Rejoice and Trust Printable | Just Rhonda

You can download it and print it off. And read it over and over and let it encourage you.

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Classic Granola

For years and years I had it in the back of my mind to make Granola and then I just never got around to it!

Homemade Granola | Just Rhonda

I finally did and I don’t know what took me so long. I read a lot of different recipes to see the variety.  There is even a little history about how Granola (or Muesli) came to be here.

A lot of recipes use maple syrup or honey to make the sweetness and the crunch. There are so many different ideas online. I found this lovely one from Recipe Tin Eats. 

 

This whole pin is all about 20 healthy granola recipes. In fact there are tons of links on Pinterest (if you want to follow me on there I may have a few pins…. ;))

This is the recipe I used from Cook’s Illustrated. It’s a place I love to go for recipes I can count on. I always love their stuff. (Cook’s and America’s Test Kitchen.)

Classic Granola

From Cook's Illustrated

Ingredients

  • 1 cup walnuts, broken into ¼-½-inch pieces
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup blanched almonds, halved
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • 1 cup raisins

Instructions

  1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix first 6 ingredients together in large bowl.
  2. Heat maple syrup and honey together with oil in small saucepan, whisking occasionally until warm. Pour mixture over dry ingredients; stir with spatula until mixture is thoroughly coated. Turn mixture onto an 11-by-7-inch jelly roll pan, spreading mixture in an even layer.
  3. Bake, stirring and respreading mixture into an even layer every 5 minutes, until granola is light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Immediately turn granola onto another jelly roll pan to stop cooking process. Stir in raisins, then spread granola evely in pan; set on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Loosen dried granola with a spatula; store in airtight container.

https://rhondasteed.com/classic-granola

I changed up the nuts and I added in cranberries. That’s the lovely thing about granola, easy to adjust to your own tastes. And perfect for an easy quick breakfast.

Homemade Granola | Just Rhonda

Have you ever made granola?? What’s your favorite additions to it?

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America’s Test Kitchen’s Strawberry Shortcakes

I love dessert. In fact it’s one of my favorite things to make and eat and share. There are some desserts that I remember eating as a child and I love remaking them as an adult. Strawberry shortcake is totally one from my childhood. I’ve tried a few different recipes trying to recreate the one I remember as a child. I found this recipe and it took me back! We had some fresh strawberries that someone dropped off as a thank you to me. The best kind of gift!! Tasty goodness!

Strawberry Shortcakes | Just Rhonda

Strawberry Shortcakes

6

Recipe from America's Test Kitchen

Ingredients

    Topping:
  • 8 cups fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 6 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • Whipped Cream
  • Biscuits:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 5 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp half and half or milk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten plus 1 large egg white lightly beaten

Instructions

  1. 1. Mix crushed and quartered berries with sugar in medium bowl; set aside while preparing biscuits (or up to 2 hours).
  2. 2. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position; heat oven to 425 degrees. Mix flour, salt, baking powder, and 3 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Using large holes of box grater, grate butter into dry ingredients, (see illustration 2). Toss butter with flour to coat. Use pastry cutter to finish cutting butter into flour. Or scoop up coated butter with both hands, then quickly rub butter into dry ingredients with fingertips until most of butter pieces are size of split peas.
  3. 3. Mix beaten egg with half-and-half; pour into flour mixture. Toss with fork until large clumps form. Turn mixture onto floured work surface and lightly knead until it comes together.
  4. 4. Pat dough into 9- by 6-inch rectangle, 3/4 inch thick. Flour 2 3/4-inch biscuit cutter; cut 6 dough rounds. Place 1 inch apart on small baking sheet; brush dough tops with egg white and sprinkle with remaining sugar. (Can be covered and refrigerated up to 2 hours before baking.) Bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Place baking sheet on wire rack; cool cakes until warm, about 10 minutes.
  5. 5. Chill nonreactive, deep, 1- to 1 1/2-quart bowl and beaters for a handheld mixer in freezer for at least 20 minutes. Add cream, sugar, and vanilla to chilled bowl; beat on low speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium; continue beating until beaters leave a trail, about 30 seconds more. Increase speed to high; continue beating until cream is smooth, thick, and nearly doubled in volume, about 20 seconds for soft peaks or about 30 seconds for stiff peaks. If necessary, finish beating by hand to adjust consistency. (Can be transferred to fine sieve or strainer set over measuring cup and refrigerated up to 8 hours).
  6. 6. Split each cake crosswise; spoon a portion of berries and then a dollop of whipped cream over each cake bottom. Cap with cake top; serve immediately.

https://rhondasteed.com/strawberry-shortcakes

Strawberry Shortcakes | Just Rhonda

Some people like angle food cake, some a sponge cake. I love a biscuit like this one! Tasty!

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DIY Canadian Tic-Tac-Toe

DIY Red + White Tic Tac Toe | Just Rhonda

It’s almost Canada Day. And I had ALL These plans to do lots of Canada Day crafts but I’ve just been so busy with photography lately and regular life that I just haven’t gotten around to it yet! But today I’m sharing a SUPER simple one.  All you need is some heavy cardboard X’s and O’s. I got mine and my paint from Michaels. They are the Michael’s Reflections brand. And they worked perfect!

DIY Red + White Tic Tac Toe | Just Rhonda

I did stripes for Os and polka dots for Xs. Easy peasy. Craft paint and 10 minutes.

DIY Red + White Tic Tac Toe | Just Rhonda

Then to make the bars I just spray painted four sticks white.

DIY Red + White Tic Tac Toe | Just Rhonda

Perfect outdoor game to play on Canada Day.

DIY Red + White Tic Tac Toe | Just Rhonda

Lots of Canadian fun!

DIY Red + White Tic Tac Toe | Just Rhonda

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Lemon Pound Cake

I love Lemon. I’m totally a big fan. And I love pound cake. So together – heavenly!! I’ve been making this recipe for years! I first found it in the first few years of our marriage and I’ve been making it ever since. It’s just a great all around easy cake. A pound cake is a kind cake that has been around forever! It  is defined as a rich cake containing a pound, or equal weights, of each chief ingredient, typically flour, butter, and sugar. Not all pound cakes nowadays stick to the formula.

Lemon Pound Cake | Just Rhonda

I’ve made this cake so many times as it’s one of my very favorites. It’s lovely all on it’s own. Or it’s lovely in a great trifle. Or it’s great with some fresh fruit and whipped cream on the side. The last time I made it I doubled it and my kids ate a loaf and a half when they first got home from school. And I had to stop them from eating more!

Lemon Pound Cake | Just Rhonda

Lemon Pound Cake

30 minutes

1 minute

2 8-inch loaves

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the Glaze:
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. You may also line the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.
  2. Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  4. Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; spoon the lemon syrup over them. Allow the cakes to cool completely.
  5. For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

Recipe found at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/lemon-cake-recipe.html?oc=linkback

https://rhondasteed.com/lemon-pound-cake

Lemon Pound Cake | Just Rhonda

The Barefoot Contessa has been one of my favorite recipe sources for a long time! I love love love her stuff! I collect her cookbooks. I’m just missing one!

Lemon Pound Cake | Just Rhonda

If you like lemon at ALL, I promise you’ll love it!

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Best Blueberry Muffins

I love a good muffin. I think they can be healthy but still tasty. And they are perfect for breakfast on the go, with or without a smoothie. They can be made a head and frozen. And they are great for after school snacks or even as an addition into the lunch box. All around great!

BA Best Blueberry Muffins | Just Rhonda

I have tried a LOT of muffin recipes. I’m constantly trying them out to see which one I like best. And I can say i LOVE This one. I found it from the great Bon Appetit Facebook page. They share a lot of really great recipes. I love following them on Facebook!

BA Best Blueberry Muffins | Just Rhonda

Norah was my little helper in adding in the blueberries.

BA Best Blueberry Muffins | Just Rhonda

Bon Appetit's Best Blueberry Muffins

12 Muffins

Ingredients

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries, divided
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks, beaten to blend
  • 1½ cups plain whole-milk yogurt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Lightly coat cups of a standard 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray. Whisk all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl to combine. Add 1½ cups blueberries and gently stir until evenly distributed.
  2. Whisk eggs, yogurt, butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla in a medium bowl until combined and creamy, about 30 seconds. Gently fold egg mixture into dry ingredients just to combine (be careful not to overmix).
  3. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Top with remaining ½ cup blueberries, gently pressing to adhere (you should have 4–5 berries per muffin). Sprinkle with raw sugar.
  4. Bake muffins, rotating pan halfway through, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 25–30 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let muffins cool in pan 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and let cool completely.

From http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/bas-best-blueberry-muffins

https://rhondasteed.com/best-blueberry-muffins

So helpful right?! 🙂

BA Best Blueberry Muffins | Just Rhonda

So so yummy, with just the perfect amount of sweetness.

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Citrus PoppySeed Cake

A few weeks ago we celebrated my little sister’s birthday. She passed away in the year 2000 but I like to have a cake and talk about her so that my kids grow up knowing about her and that I miss and love her. This year I made this cake.

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It has three layers of  citrusy poppyseed cake with a lemony filling in the middle.  The recipe comes from the awesome Cake cookbook from Martha Stewart. 


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You pour a thin poppyseed icing on top of the layered cake.

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I added a little lemon zest on top.
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Citrus PoppySeed Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 7 large eggs, lightly beaten, room temperature Eggs Large White
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature Milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 1/3 cup poppy seeds, plus more for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place two racks in center of oven. Butter three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans; line each with a circle of parchment paper. Butter paper, and dust pans with flour; tap out excess. Set aside.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-low speed until lightened, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar; beat until color has lightened, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice. Drizzle in eggs, a little at a time, beating on medium-low speed after each addition until batter is no longer slick but is smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Stop to scrape down bowl once or twice so batter will combine well. Beat in vanilla on medium-low speed.
  4. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Alternately add reserved flour mixture and milk, a little of each at a time, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl once or twice. Beat in lemon zest, orange zest, lime zest, and 1/3 cup poppy seeds.
  5. Divide batter evenly among the prepared pans. Bake 30 minutes, then rotate pans for even browning. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, 5 to 10 minutes more. Transfer to wire racks to cool, 15 minutes. Turn out cakes, and set on racks, tops up. Cool completely.
  6. Remove parchment from bottom of each layer. Save best-looking layer for the top. Place one layer on the serving platter. Spread 1 1/2 cups cream-cheese frosting over the top. Place second cake layer on top, and spread remaining 1 1/2 cups frosting over top. Place reserved layer on top. Chill cake, loosely covered with plastic wrap, 1 hour.
  7. To serve, stir lemon glaze well, then pour onto center of top layer of cake, letting it run down the sides. Using a single-hole zester, cut long strips of zest from orange and lemon, if desired. Arrange zest in loose spirals on the top of cake, and sprinkle lightly with poppy seeds.

https://rhondasteed.com/citrus-poppyseed-cake

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It was a good Sunday to talk about Kelly and how we find peace and comfort in the Plan of Salvation and eternal families. And we had cake. Win-Win.

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Free Printable: Love is

Just a simple printable to share today. It’s 8×10 so you can print it and put it in a picture or print it off smaller and slip it into a Project Life spot. Or use it as the front of a card. Whatever floats your boat. It’s one of my new favorite quotes. I love love love it.

Free Printable: Love is making space | Just Rhonda

I’d love it if you’d link back to me if you share. 🙂

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Ebi Sunomono: Japanese Shrimp Salad

Last week I was at a potluck where someone had brought a super yummy salad. So I had to find out what it was. Pretty tasty and actually quite easy. It’s a chilled salad so it’s a great thing to take to Potlucks or make ahead. I found a few recipes that looked similar with small differences and ended up with this one from Salu-Salo. She has lots of really great looking recipes on her site!!

Ebi Sumomono Salad | Just Rhonda

Ebi Sunomono: Japanese Shrimp Salad

Ingredients

  • 150 g bean thread vermicelli
  • 100 g cooked small shrimp
  • 1/2 English cucumber peeled
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp soya sauce
  • 1 lemon, halved and sliced thinly

Instructions

  1. Cut cucumbers into thin slices. Sprinkle with 1 tsp salt and set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. Rinse to remove salt and drain.
  3. Cook the noodles in boiling water until just tender. Rinse in cold water and drain.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine rice vinegar, sugar and soya sauce. Add the noodles, toss, cover and chill for one hour.
  5. To serve, divide cold vermicelli into 5 serving bowls. Top with shrimp, cucumber and lemon. Enjoy.

http://salu-salo.com/ebi-sunomono-japanese-shrimp-salad/

https://rhondasteed.com/ebi-sunomono-japanese-shrimp-salad

It’s different and that’s why I liked it! I used the shrimp we had which were jumbo not small at all 😉

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Week in the Life 2016| Thursday Words + Pictures

I’m still plugging along on this week long project called “Week in the life” spearheaded by the amazing Ali Edwards. This week I’m capturing and recording about our lives. This was Thursday.

 

7:11 am: A year or so ago Oliver used to wake up screaming almost every day. He just took about 40 minutes to be happy. He would scream and thrash on the floor and just lose it for most of the time. And it was a TERRIBLE stage that we barely survived it. Unfortunately today he had a little relapse. And it was quite unfortunate. Apparently he is still working on it.
Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

7:20am: Eli is so funny about scripture study. Either he won’t read at all or he will just keep reading and won’t stop and then the other kids have to interrupt him to get a turn to read. Today it was the reading and reading and reading and not stopping. 23 verses in one day.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

7:22am: Norah wasn’t really paying attention during the scripture study. We’re still working on that.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

7:50am: Oliver was pretty proud of his sticker page.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

7:56am: Alden running off to the bus rather quickly.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

11:53pm: Appointment at the Physiotherapist. I’m hoping that it will help my near constant back pain. I’m working on that. 

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

12:42pm: We ended up at Subway for lunch and there was crying and a big of gnashing on the floor. And it was lame. We’re still working on that.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

1:21pm: Norah fell asleep. Early mornings hit her too.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

1:23pm: Oliver passed out on the way home. That early morning grumpy wake up did it. He ended up only sleeping for 10 minutes which is good.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

1:44pm: We are trying to get rid of the soothers. And I heard a great idea from a friend to tell Norah that the soother fairy came and took all her soothers away and that she would get a special present for them all leaving. So she picked out walkie talkies. And her and Ollie are having tons of fun using them.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

1:47pm: They really enjoyed playing together with them. And I love it when they enjoy something together.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

3:43pm: Eli also enjoyed the Walkie Talkie’s too. HA!

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

5:37pm: Lucy had a friend over Livi Sudo. And they enjoyed playing together and then she stayed over for a late over too.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

5:42pm: I love this snuggling. So sweet. I’m thankful Regan could capture this.
Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

6:19pm: She was helping me clean up the game.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

6:25pm: Dad made supper so that I could go off to my Stake Relief Society meeting. He’s a good dad.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

That was Thursday.

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Week in the Life 2016| Wednesday Words + Pictures

I’m still plugging along on this week long project called “Week in the life” spearheaded by the amazing Ali Edwards. This week I’m capturing and recording about our lives and then hopefully next week I’ll be putting together my album (but it’s more likely I will be doing it in a few weeks since this is crazy spring soccer, softball and end of school season.) But for today, here was our Tuesday.

Yesterday I took less pictures but in the end there are still lots of stories documented.

 

5:40am: Three kids are already up and asking for food.  Norah woke us up first with her polite knocking on the door that she always does. And then when I went in I could 5 minutes later hear Oliver screaming for Dad. So I took Norah out for breakfast and found Eli had already gotten up to eat too. At least Oliver and Eli ate and then  laid back in bed and were relatively quiet. Norah is a talker from the minute she gets up. Little bits of chit chat. Me and Regan laid in bed and chatted ourselves. It was a very early start to the day. One day no little voices or knocking will wake us up. And I’m trying to not let the early mornings make me grumpy. I’m still working on that.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

7:29am: Oliver loves to help “read” scriptures in the morning. Dad tells him the words and he proudly says them out loud. Soon hopefully he’ll be reading and be able to do it on his own. We’re working on that.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

7:58am: His great idea today for his lunch was a whole bag of popcorn, which he burnt a bit. He was popping it when he should have been running to catch the bus so there wasn’t time to redo the bag. He yelled running out the door “I LOVE burnt popcorn.” He pretty much always has a positive attitude. Something I am still working on myself.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

8:40am: Dad was a little late leaving this morning but he still did his usual run and throw the littles around hugs before rushing out the door. My kids love to say goodbye and hello to him in a big production.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

9:01am: He was supposed to be getting dressed. But instead was dancing in the doorway. And striking a pose over and over and over.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

9:04am: These two don’t always brush their teeth in the morning. We’re trying to do it every day. We’re still working on it.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

9:10am: Oliver is in a small simple Joy school group. He loves to go and loves to learn. Norah has been wanting to go all year long too so today I just asked and Norah was SO happy that she got to go to school too. We walked down the street to the Depew’s house for school.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

11:08am: I am filling in for Alden’s lunch group today for another mom. I had a whole lot of bananas so I made some of our favorite banana chocolate muffins and nachos. I don’t bake every day but pretty close to.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

11:42am: These boys are lots of fun and oh so goofy. It’ll be interesting as they continue to grow into men.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

11:57am: I was late picking up the boys because I just couldn’t find any van keys. I had to borrow the neighbors van to even go get them. Half way thru the lunch hour I found them in the hanging basket in the hallway. Still haven’t found the other set. I hate looking for lost keys. I’m trying to make sure everyone always hangs them up when they come n the house. We’re all still working on that.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda12:05pm: “Stories on the couch PLEASE mom” I’m trying to stop what I am doing more and read to her when she asks me too. I do love it and I know it’s the most important I just get into my tasks sometimes and don’t want to stop. I’m working on it still.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

12:27pm: Dad was hungry at the hospital and I was trying to take him some food and Oliver didn’t want to go. He was too tired to walk apparently. I have a hard time with that kind of silliness. I’m trying to be patient thru it but definitely still working on that.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

2:27pm: Norah and I both needed a bang trim SO bad. They were in both of our eyes. So glad  Carrie could quickly do it today. Ollie played across the street at Sage’s for 15 minutes while we got it trimmed.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

3:38pm: He came home and immediately started on some homework. I was pleased he did it without me pestering him if he had any.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

4:01pm: I have enrichment and a Judo BBQ tonight so I have to plan ahead for the food to both of them. I’m taking Roasted Yams and Sweet Potatoes for my favorite thing recipe for Enrichment. Me planning head is definitely something I’m still working on.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

4:04pm: Lucy entertaining the little kids as always. She loves to do it and we all love it.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

4:14pm: Lucy has softball in Cardston tonight. I’m not going because of Judo and Enrichment (I got someone to coach tonight for me). She was packing some snacks and money and her ball glove.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

5:08pm: Now it’s time for Soccer for Eli. Wedneday’s are our busiest days of the week. (They’ll be better now that Judo will finish tonight.) Every night before soccer Eli asks if he has to go. We put him in it because he begged to be. Now he complains almost every day. We are doing it anyways because he made a commitment. That is something to learn and hopefully as young as possible. We’re still working on it.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

6:25pm: We’re 25 minutes late for the Judo bbq. I just finished baking the cookies for the dessert. I didn’t get around to them until now. Alden snapped this shot of me rushing into the van and I’m glad he took one of me today.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

The night kept going until way later  and that was our Wednesday.

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WEEK IN THE LIFE 2016| TUESDAY WORDS + PICTURES

All week long I’m participating in a documentary project about my family called “Week in the life” spearheaded by the amazing Ali Edwards. This week I’m capturing and recording about our lives and then hopefully next week I’ll be putting together my album (but it’s more likely I will be doing it in a few weeks since this is crazy spring soccer, softball and end of school season.) But for today, here was our Tuesday.

Kids were much happier today and I was grateful. The just started out playing with each other and kinda keep doing it all day.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

One thing I am trying to teach my kids is to clean up after themselves. One small step we are working on is putting away the cereal and their bowl in the morning. (And especially the milk!) We’re still working on it.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

A better shot of the morning before the bus routine between Lucy and the littles. Air pound-its.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

Boys off to the bus. Alden goes up early to the school often with Uncle Brad to shoot basketball. But today it didn’t work out. He’s working on improving his skills on the court.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

Norah helping me water my mother’s day plants. They always die in the first week but this year I’m trying to keep them alive. We’re working on it.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

I got in my shower and these two were doing the “lights on, fan on, lights off, fan off” over and over and over. They finally just went away and I didn’t know what trouble they were getting into. They showed up with these (and I opened them and they left the room so I could get dressed) and then when  I came out they had drank almost all of them. They were supposed to each have one. We’re still working on that.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

Norah wouldn’t get in the tub without a story. So Oliver brushed, she bathed and I read out loud.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just RhondaEli is constantly bringing big piles of books to the bathroom. I have asked over and over and over for him not to do it. Especially not to drop them in the pee zone (the nasty area around the toilet where boys sometimes hit with their bad aim). We’re definitely still working on that still. 

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

Prayer time before lunch. They asked to watch a movie while they ate today and so I said “sure why not.” Some days neither one of these two will close their eyes or fold their arms. This actually was practice after the prayer. Some days we have to practice again after the prayer is over. We’re still working on that. 

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

They saw me working on my memory keeping presentation for this weekend so they got all excited to see their own baby albums. They also had a lot of fun looking through our wedding album. I’m done Norah’s up to one and Oliver’s to about day 5 of his life. I’m still working on both.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

More evidence of still working on the let’s clean up after ourselves concept. I’m trying to not let emotion get into the mix too. I’m still working on that a LOT.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

Lucy always loves to talk to everyone when she gets home. A chat about what she did and show us things she brought home. It’s totally cute.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

A screen is like a magnet around here. It was Lucy’s turn to use the iPad and everyone else was crowding around it. It’s not my favorite.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

Eli had to get his last filing filled. He had two other ones filled a few weeks ago. After that first dentist visit he was refusing to brush his teeth. When I asked him why he wouldn’t he told me the dentist could just fix his teeth later. This kid is tricky. We’re still working on the teeth brushing thing (and the listening to mom thing).

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

After school today was drive here, drive there, and back. Eli to dentist, and back, Lucy to cello and back, then to activity days and Alden and Dad to the temple.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

I love that she’s getting into the cello more. She’s working on it and I love it.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

These three little buddies have tons of fun together. I love it.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

A little help from dad and Eli’s double knot in his shoes.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

Her pink ruffle skirt, her messy hair and too long bangs, her sprinkle of freckles across her nose and cheeks, her fake grin. ? I love this sweet little girl so much.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

His prize from the dentist was this tent. He really wants to fly a kite and have a good experience. He almost had it tonight.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

I had to go out to do Relief Society visits this evening and Dad was at the temple with Alden so sweet Lucy had to do bedtime for me. When I came home Oliver was in my bed. At least everyone was asleep.

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Week in the Life 2016| Monday Words + Pictures

I started documenting my week yesterday for the week in the life project spearheaded by Ali Edwards. It’s my second year participating and I love love love my album that I ended up with last year and so I’m happily playing along again this year! These are my words and photos to document our day yesterday. Now it was a hard day. We were up in the night with two different kids and they were both crying a big portion of the day. I was very spent by supper time but I kept capturing even if it wasn’t a perfect day. It was one of “those” days that make mothering hard that are certainly a part of motherhood. And because of that completely worth documenting.
Night time wake ups were 2am with a peed in bed by Oliver. Dad took care of that one. And then at 3:30am with Norah who “just needed a little milk please”. And then everyone up for the day at 615am. We were both so tired.
Monday-9323-1

6:24am: I can’t remember the last time I got out of bed and Eli wasn’t up. He is ALWAYS the first one up in the house. He’s often here snuggled in his fuzzy blanket reading.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

7:12 am: The other kids are up for scripture study and breakfast.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

7:19am: We usually have scriptures all together at the table but today we were all feeling drowsy and tired so some were on the couch, Alden was eating his breakfast. We read loud and made it work.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

7:23am: Oliver was showing Norah how to meditate. I have no idea where even learns some of the things he knows.  Eli had to show how he did it next.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

7:40am: I couldn’t find Lucy and she wasn’t answering the calling for the bus so I went down to find her and here she was reading. This girl loves her books.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

7:47am: Eli: “Mom can you just PLEASE help me with my backpack. I can’t fit everything in it.”

Me: “Well then you must have something else in it.”

Eli: “No I don’t.” I dig around and find a sandwich container filled with dirty socks. Classic Eli.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

7:54am: Lucy has this routine with the littles. She does air high fives, air hugs and air pound its. And they all giggle while they do it.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

8:48am: It’s often a battle to get kids in the tub around here. And today I didn’t win with Norah. But Ollie had too. (peed the bed last night) After Ollie couldn’t walk (typical post bath behavior with him) because he was just SO COLD.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

8:52am: Still couldn’t get him to just get dressed to get warm.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

8:58am “Mom can I PLEASE call a friend?” (It’s been a constant question since about 8am)

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

9:00am: She loves bouncing on that bed of hers. One day when we get it off the floor she might have even more fun 😉

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

10:19 am: There has been fighting all morning between these two today. And I am about at my limit. I was trying to take a picture of Oliver and she walked over and hit him. We’re all tired and it’s showing.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

10:28am: I especially need some extra help today from above.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

10:48am: Let’s try making something to distract the crying and be happy.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

10:50am: It didn’t work out.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda10:55am: He was only happy to listen to hers if he had his own.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

1:33pm: “Mom, I gotta go pee!” We race to the bathroom and then she yells “Wait, first I gotta do the pee dance. And it goes like this. You shake your knees!”

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

2:38pm: Trying to be on top of supper since Monday’s are currently crazy around here. Making two kinds of soup (Minestrone and Grandma’s Chicken noodle) plus french bread.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

3:01pm: Sage always brings a little happiness to these two and I’m glad she came over!!!

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

3:52pm: Let’s be honest here. The only motivation for guitar practice is playing the WiiU.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

4:54pm: Mason came over to play but Eli has soccer soon so they only have a little time together.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

5:13pm: Eli: ” I just need a butter horn for when Im subbed off and I feel like snacking!”

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

5:56pm: The noodles for the soup.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

6:05pm: Fresh bread for the new neighbors on the block.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

6:12pm: Everyone just quietly doing their own thing.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

6:12pm: Building lego and listening to the radio.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

6:31pm: Norah likes to sit on a stool at the table and we are not fans of it because she keeps putting her feet on the table. And it is a constant battle. She is really short so I can see wanting to be higher. Guess I shouldn’t have gotten rid of the booster seat.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

6:52pm : Off to his soccer game.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

7:31pm: Bed time stories with dad.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just RhondaWeek in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

7:39pm: She is doing so good with her cello practice lately. All on her own and I love it.

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

12:00am: Friends came over for a book club meeting and ended up staying realllllllllly late (we actually went into this morning). It was so fun and so good to chat!

Week in the Life 2016 | Words + Photos | Just Rhonda

That was our Monday.

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Week in the Life 2015| Friday Album

Friday’s Album:

 

I can’t remember the last time I took at the kids to the mall before this. It’s been a LONG time!

Week in the Life Album 2015 | Just Rhonda

The picture of Alden in that little desk CRACKS me up!

Week in the Life Album 2015 | Just Rhonda

Lots of words for Friday (which makes me happy!)

Week in the Life Album 2015 | Just Rhonda

I stressed about what to do with that back of the 3×8 forever. And then I just did this and it is fine.

Week in the Life Album 2015 | Just Rhonda

I did less words here, but that’s ok.

Week in the Life Album 2015 | Just Rhonda

I love all the layers!

Week in the Life Album 2015 | Just Rhonda

I’ve been saving this AM/PM card for a while too!

Week in the Life Album 2015 | Just Rhonda

I really love the pictures I have of my older kids too!

Week in the Life Album 2015 | Just RhondaWeek in the Life Album 2015 | Just RhondaWeek in the Life Album 2015 | Just Rhonda

It was a shorter day of pages but I was running out of room in the album so it worked out 😉

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Week in the Life 2015| Thursday Album

On to my Thursday spread! You’ll notice that there are less and less pages in my spreads. I took WAY more pictures in the first two days and then it was harder to keep shooting so much. But I am okay with it. I got what I got and there are still LOTS of stories told and LOTS of pictures taken.

Yup, me in my pjs and bedhead. And I’m good with it. That’s real life. 😉

Week in the Life 2015 | Thursday | Just Rhonda

Week in the Life 2015 | Thursday | Just Rhonda

Finding my Eli in the bath in his swimsuit. Totally something to document.

Week in the Life 2015 | Thursday | Just Rhonda

Week in the Life 2015 | Thursday | Just Rhonda

More kid quotes on those little 3×8 pieces from Ali Edward’s main kit last year.
Week in the Life 2015 | Thursday | Just Rhonda

I have been saving this big Basic Grey Chipboard S for like 8 years. I feel proud I finally used it. HA!

Week in the Life 2015 | Thursday | Just Rhonda

I LOVE the picture of my Mom and Norah playing peek a  boo!

Week in the Life 2015 | Thursday | Just Rhonda

I almost didn’t take pictures of the cleaning of the basement but I’m glad I did. It’s a story in our lives right now. So is that chockfull fridge. (Something that my hubby teases me about. )

Week in the Life 2015 | Thursday | Just Rhonda

That was Thursday!

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Week in the Life 2015| Wednesday Album

Yesterday I shared my Tuesday pages and today, here is my Wednesday! I love the idea from Ali to have a big full page to start and end each day and I did it for the whole week.

Week in the Life 2015 | Wednesday | Just Rhonda

I love all the layers too!

Week in the Life 2015 | Wednesday | Just Rhonda

I had that camera wooden piece for a while and it just never seemed to get used. But I liked it added in here to add layers and focus on the cucumbers.

Week in the Life 2015 | Wednesday | Just Rhonda

Week in the Life 2015 | Wednesday | Just Rhonda

One thing I knew I wanted to document is the little things my kids are currently doing. The little quirks. And one of them is totally Eli waking up early and falling asleep again.

Week in the Life 2015 | Wednesday | Just Rhonda

Week in the Life 2015 | Wednesday | Just Rhonda

I love the pictures of me with my kids. So much. And I am always happy that I am apart of the pictures. This year Im going to consciously take more of my hubby with the kids individually too. And I had to include a whole spread about bread… since it’s my current passion.

Week in the Life 2015 | Wednesday | Just Rhonda

 
Week in the Life 2015 | Wednesday | Just Rhonda

Week in the Life 2015 | Wednesday | Just Rhonda

I ended up using the 3×8 pieces from the pad as a place to record a quote. I love rereading what my kids said!

Week in the Life 2015 | Wednesday | Just Rhonda

Week in the Life 2015 | Wednesday | Just Rhonda

Week in the Life 2015 | Wednesday | Just Rhonda

Another spot from Regan’s notes about the day. I love it now and I know I’ll love it in 20 years too even more.

Week in the Life 2015 | Wednesday | Just Rhonda

Week in the Life 2015 | Wednesday | Just Rhonda

That was my Wednesday. And tomorrow I’ll share my Thursday!! I sure hope you’re considered joining in next week!

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Week in the Life 2015 | Tuesday in Album

Next week I’ll be participating in a fun project called a “Week in the Life” headed up by the talented Ali Edwards. I did it last year and really enjoyed it. I even finished my whole mini album for the week but ended up never sharing it on here. So as I prepare to participate again I thought I’d share my album from the last time I did it. And next week I’ll be capturing my week. I’ve included a few thoughts I had after accomplishing it.

Thoughts on recording this whole project:

• I had thought previously about attempting a week in the life. I didn’t know if I could keep up with it and capture our week. But I went in wanting to really give it a try. I ended up really enjoying it.

• My kids were thrown off after the first day that I kept taking so many pictures as they are already used to the 15 on the 15th that I do each month. I found that it was hard after the second day to keep shooting so much. But I love all that I did capture.

• I did not take my camera out of the house when I left for shopping and so there are not as many pictures on that afternoon and I don’t mind that. It is ok. This time I want to include more of the out of the house activities of our family too.

• I got a lot more pictures on the first couple days. That’s ok.

• One of my very favorite things that happened was that my ever supportive husband took notes and thoughts about what he did during some of the days. I included it straight as is and i LOVE that he did it and that I could include it in the album. That adds so much. His thoughts too. Love love love it.

And on those notes, here is my Tuesday album. I loved adding lots of layers and I’ll be doing that again!

Week in the Life 2015| Tuesday  Album | Just RhondaWeek in the Life 2015| Tuesday  Album | Just RhondaWeek in the Life 2015| Tuesday  Album | Just Rhonda

I ended up adding in a few of the quotes that Ali Edwards sends in her kits each month. They seemed perfect!

Week in the Life 2015| Tuesday  Album | Just RhondaWeek in the Life 2015| Tuesday  Album | Just RhondaWeek in the Life 2015| Tuesday  Album | Just Rhonda

I will be recording more kid quotes this time! I love having these in. They crack me up!

Week in the Life 2015| Tuesday  Album | Just RhondaWeek in the Life 2015| Tuesday  Album | Just Rhonda

Seriously how sweet is my husband to write notes to keep in here. Especially one about our anniversary that we celebrated.

Week in the Life 2015| Tuesday  Album | Just RhondaWeek in the Life 2015| Tuesday  Album | Just RhondaWeek in the Life 2015| Tuesday  Album | Just Rhonda

That was my Tuesday. I’ll share Wednesday’s album pages tomorrow. For more info on the upcoming Week in the Life go here.

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Earth Day: Free Printable

Today is earth day. And I love nature. So I’m sharing this little printable. I have it up in my boy’s (Eli and Ollie) room. There room is like adventure & owls.

Go Explore Free Printable | Just Rhonda

It’s a picture I took in Waterton from a few years ago. And you can click on the picture and download it OR you can go here and download it. Go ahead and share it, but I’d love it if you posted a link back to here! And enjoy it!

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I LOVe it when I find a new blog with lovely recipes. And while waiting in the airport last week I found this one: Kitchen Konfidence. And the first thing I found were these lovely tasty roasted sweet potatoes. And you should stop what you are doing and get all the ingredients for these pronto and make them tonight for dinner!!! Or just for a mid afternoon snack. They are so so so so so good.

As I was making them my hubby was a little skeptical. But I told him to trust me. And then when we were eating he was like “Man, i take back what I said! I should have trusted you. These are awesome!”

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Recipe from: http://www.kitchenkonfidence.com/2016/01/roasted-sweet-potatoes-with-honey-smoked-paprika-and-lime-yogurt

Ingredients

  • 2 medium (about 3 pounds) orange sweet potatoes (also known as yams)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided (2 for the potatoes, 1 for the yogurt)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 green onions, ends trimmed and sliced on the bias
  • Cilantro leaves

Instructions

  1. Cut each sweet potato in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half widthwise. Cut each quarter into four long wedges, so you'll have a total of 32 wedges. Add wedges to a large bowl and toss with honey, 2 tablespoons olive oil and smoked paprika. Season well with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Let marinate for 10 minutes, tossing twice throughout.
  2. Preheat and oven to 425°F. Transfer the sweet potatoes to a rimmed baking sheet, and roast until they are tender and caramelized around the edges (35 - 45 minutes), tossing occasionally. You'll know they're done when a knife easily pierces the thickest part of one of the wedges.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, whisk together yogurt, lime juice and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.
  4. To serve, transfer potatoes to a large platter, and drizzle with lime yogurt (you won't use all of it). Finish with a scattering of sliced green onions and cilantro leaves.

I had lime greek yogurt so I just used that instead of adding lime to plain greek yogurt and it worked great.

https://rhondasteed.com/roasted-sweet-potatoes

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey, Smoked Paprika and Lime Yogurt

I’m excited to see what else Brandon shares as far as recipes goes! Have you found any recipe blogs you love lately?

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Project Life Fridays 2016

It’s been a while since I shared some project life pages. I’ve been keeping up with my 2016 album and I haven’t been sharing them, so today I’m rectifying it. This is Week one of  2016. The whole spread.

2016 Project Life | Just Rhonda

This is a closer look at the right hand side. Since it was the only the first and the second there was not as many pictures. But in some ways that made it easier to add in lots of fun cute cards. 🙂

2016 Project Life | Just Rhonda

I loved the little painting that Eli did. And lovely letter stickers from Ali Edwards.

2016 Project Life | Just Rhonda

And the other side of the spread. I love this little filled out New Years Resolutions.  I love love these pictures that I got out on skating outside at my brothers house.

2016 Project Life | Just Rhonda

Lots of other pages to come!

Supplies:

project life

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Martha Stewart’s Lemon Curd Mousse Cake

A few weeks ago it was Easter and I love to make desserts. So I found this one on Martha Stewart and thought “crepes” and “lemon curd”… yes! The thing that is great about this one is that it isn’t too sweet. The lemon curd is a little tart and not too sweet. And then having it folded into the unsweetened whipped cream settles down the tartness a bit.

Lemon Crepe Cake | Just Rhonda

It was a total hit. Go look at Martha’s over here. It’s so pretty. I skipped the candied lemons and just went with a dusting of icing sugar.

Lemon Curd Mousse Cake

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, melted, plus more, melted, for pan
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, whipped
  • Candied Meyer Lemons, optional
  • Meyer Lemon Curd Mousse
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from one 1/4-ounce envelope)
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 4 large eggs plus 6 large yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons finely grated Meyer lemon zest (from 2 lemons), plus 3/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (from 5 to 6 lemons)
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Instructions

    Meyer Lemon Curd Mousse
  1. Sprinkle gelatin over water; let stand until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk together eggs and yolks in a heavy small saucepan. Whisk in sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium-low heat, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Remove pan from heat; add gelatin, stirring constantly, until gelatin dissolves and mixture is slightly cool. Add butter, a few pieces at a time, stirring after each addition, until smooth.
  4. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing with a rubber spatula to remove as much curd as possible; discard any undissolved bits of gelatin and egg. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto surface of curd to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours or overnight. Stir curd, and gently fold in whipped cream. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Stir before using.
  5. For the Crepes
  6. Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Whisk together milk, eggs, and vanilla. Gradually pour milk mixture into flour mixture, whisking until smooth. Whisk in butter. Pour through a fine sieve into an airtight container; discard lumps. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
  7. Lightly coat a 6-inch crepe pan or nonstick skillet with butter. Heat over medium heat until just starting to smoke. Remove from heat; pour about 2 tablespoons batter into center. Swirl to cover bottom. Reduce heat to medium-low; return pan to heat. Cook until edges are golden and center is dry, about 30 seconds per side.
  8. Slide crepe onto an overturned plate. Repeat with remaining batter, coating pan with butter as needed, and stacking crepes. Let cool.
  9. Place 1 crepe on a flat serving dish. Spread about 1/4 cup lemon curd mousse onto crepe. Top with 1 crepe. Continue layering crepes and mousse. (Use 15 crepes, ending with a crepe on top.) Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  10. Top crepe cake with whipped cream and 3 or 4 candied lemon slices.

https://rhondasteed.com/lemon-curd-mousse-cake

Lemon Crepe Cake | Just Rhonda

Lucy was a big fan because she LOVES lemon but so did everyone else. 🙂 Lemon curd folded with whipped cream.

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Day in the Life: March 2016

Last May I participated in documenting my whole day with the Day in the Life project headed by  the talented Ali Edwards and her Day in the life. Really it is similar to my 15 on the 15th that I do monthly but more pictures. Yesterday I documented our day. I took a whole lot of pictures. Here is the highlight reel 🙂 I put some of them on Instagram and I realized that I was way off on my guessing of times on Instagram. HA!

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

7:27am: Family scripture study at the table while eating breakfast. The kitchen is still a bit messy from yesterday.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

7:48am: We have Eli pack his own lunch so that hopefully he’ll eat more of it. He takes the strangest things. Today it was a plain whole bagel, grapes, a bag of goldfish and two Easter candies.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

8:10am: Two kids crying about screens. I have a love/hate relationship with screens. Mostly hate with kids and their want of screens.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

8:51am: Dad leaves for work. I’d already had a head start on cleaning up the house so the furniture is piled together and the littles are watching the iPad so I can mop and sweep.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

9:24am: Almost done sweeping so I can mop the whole upstairs. Kids almost done with the iPad.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

10:04am: The bath together. There’s already been a couple bawling matches but then they fix it and are happy again.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

10:27am: Getting out of the bath. Teeth brushing, hair fixing, lots of giggling and naked kids running away.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

10:32am: This is an accurate picture of me trying to dress these two. They are wrestling on minute and dancing away from me the other.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

11:04am: New chalkboard message for the week.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

11:21am: I always try and sneak into the shower. I wait until they are busy with something but it’s like they have magical powers to hear when the shower comes on?! So I set up my tripod and camera and had my remote in the bathroom So I could capture what they do. Today they didn’t turn out the light (which is the usual) but they did bang a lot and turned the fan on and off and on and off. I got quite a few pictures of them out here and I love them all. 🙂

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

11:48am: “Mom, the cookie jar is empty, so we’d better make some cookies to fill it up. Don’t worry I’ll get down the cookie book and pick the kind!”

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

11:56am: “I wanna crack an egg mom” “Me too!”

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

12:24pm: They both got bored of cookie making and went jumping on the trampoline instead.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

12:49pm: We’re trying to work on these two closing their eyes during prayer. Me setting the timer probably doesn’t help 🙂

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

12:56pm: Me and my list making. I feel like I can’t figure out my day without it.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

1:03pm: O:” We’re going outside” Me: “Put on a coat and shoes.” N: “But it’s just so beautiful outside, so we don’t need them.”

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

1:06pm: Let’s wash those faces before you go outside.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

1:11pm: Cleaning up some of the kitchen

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

1:16pm: “We’ll shut the door and press the ding-bell.” and Over and over.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

2:41pm: “Mom take a picture of us just relaxing.”

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

2:43pm: Dance party in the living room.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda3:39pm: Learning books together.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

3:42pm: First thing he does is always look for food when he gets home. He’s become a bit of a bottomless pit with food lately. It cracks me up. I remember my brothers eating like this!

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda3:42pm: Waiting for cello lessons to start and having some “light chit chat” with this lovely girl. She is such a joy to parent.
Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

4:42pm: Eli saw me pull up from checking the mail and my in between having to go pick up Lucy again. He decided he’d better ride along just to read the new lego magazine.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

4:50pm: He always has to do some chore to earn screen time. And this is the chore he hates the most. But he easily makes the most laundry of ANY person in our family. So he always has some to put away. And it is painful EVERY SINGLE time.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

5:19pm: For today’s screen time he picked playing lego games. I don’t let kids on the computer very often. Too many scary things out there in the internet land!

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

5:20pm: Risk is often played around here. I think the rules have been warped a bit but whatever. As long as they’re having fun.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

5:39pm: Tramp basketball games are the other big thing around here lately. They were having a dunk competition with lots of laughing and wipe outs.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

5:43pm: “Mommy, sit with me here, and I’ll zap you with my lasers.”

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

5:54pm: Oliver: ” I just want to do something with you…. like paint! Can we please paint?”

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

6:12pm: Left overs for supper. Dad on call plus a big family meal a couple days ago equals left overs for dinner.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

6:19pm: Most days I don’t let books at the table at supper. Any other meal I don’t care but supper we talk. Today I let them read. Lucy got a book two minutes later.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

7:04pm: Alden going to Young Mens. I am so very grateful for the good group of youth leaders we have in our ward right now. Alden loves going and those good men are having a great influence on his life. I am so so grateful.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

7:58pm: Stories, songs and bed time prayers.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

8:05pm: A little late to bed  but not good bad. Lately Eli asks for a kiss attack pretty much every night. And he giggles the entire time. It’s really cute. Ollie sits on his bed waiting for his.

Day in the Life | Just Rhonda

8:08pm: After weeks of late nights with the play, she was so excited to lay around on her bed and read and then go to bed at a good time.

That was our Tuesday. Totally typical of how much we saw dad  when he’s on call (which is not at all until I drove him up food at 1045pm at night.)

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Cook’s Country’s Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread

I found this recipe through my membership with America’s Test Kitchen. It gives me access to Cook’s Country and Cook’s Illustrated. And I debated for a while about getting a membership. But now that I have one I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. And one of the first recipes I tried off there was this magical bread. We love love love it around here. I first tried it just over two weeks ago and I’ve already made over 10 loaves. That shows you how much we love it around here!

Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread |  Just Rhonda

It has just the right amounts of cinnamon and raisins. And the bread has a lovely consistency.
Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread |  Just Rhonda

And I got to try a new way of braiding. Which was awesome.

Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread |  Just Rhonda

America’s Test Kitchen’s Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Ingredients

    Cinnamon Sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Bread
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, heated to 110 degrees
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 3 tablespoons melted
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Instructions

  1. For the cinnamon sugar: Combine ingredients in small bowl, breaking up clumps. Cover tightly with plastic wrap.
  2. 2. For the bread: Spray large bowl with cooking spray. Whisk milk, melted butter, and yolks in large liquid measuring cup. Mix 1/4 cup cinnamon sugar, yeast, sugar, flour, and salt in large bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Turn mixer to low and slowly add milk mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until dough is smooth and comes away from sides of bowl, 5 to 6 minutes. (If dough seems too sticky, add up to 1/4 cup more flour during kneading.) Turn dough out onto unfloured counter and knead raisins in by hand until evenly distributed. Knead to form smooth, round ball. Transfer dough to greased bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (Do not place in warm oven, or sugar in dough will melt.)
  3. 3. Spray 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. On lightly floured surface, press dough into 20 by 8-inch rectangle, with short side facing you. Using spray bottle, lightly and evenly spray dough with water. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cinnamon sugar over dough, leaving 2-inch border along top edge. Lightly spray cinnamon sugar with water until damp but not wet. Starting at edge nearest you, roll up dough, then pinch seam and ends closed. Place loaf seam side down in prepared pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until 1 inch above rim of pan, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  4. 4. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt remaining tablespoon butter and brush over top of dough. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar and bake until top is deep brown and center of bread registers 185 to 190 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 45 to 60 minutes. Turn bread out onto rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Slice as desired. (Bread can be kept in airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.)

https://rhondasteed.com/cinnamon-swirl-raisin-bread

Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread |  Just Rhonda

I doubled it last time I made it. And I was even going to share some but then we ate it all. HA! It’s sooo good toasted in the morning for breakfast! Or as french toast? soooo good!!! And it’s pretty too.

Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread |  Just Rhonda

So now all you who I said I’d give this recipe too…. here it finally is! 🙂

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Bouchon Bakery’s Lemon Meringue Tarts

I love little tarts. In fact I’ve loved them for a long time and then we went to France and I saw tons of cute little fancy tarts lined up in the pâtisseries and I about died. So cute and oh man they are sooooo tasty. Since then I have an urge to make little cute tarts of all kinds. First up is lemon. Lovely lemon.

Lemon Meringue Tarts | Just Rhonda

This is an intense recipe. And I didn’t even make my Meringue as fancy as they did. (You can see some amazing ones here). Makes me want to make them again just to give it a shot and try and perfect my Meringue skills. 🙂

Bouchon Bakery's Lemon Meringue Tarts

Ingredients

  • 1/2 recipe Pâte Sucrée (see below)
  • Egg whites
  • Granulated sugar
  • Madeleine Cake, frozen
  • Lemon Curd
  • Pâte Sucrée
  • 2 2/3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup + 2 ½ tablespoons (46 grams) powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (94 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons (47 grams) almond flour/meal
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons (56 grams) eggs
  • Madeleine Cake
  • 1/4 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons (47 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3/8 teaspoon (1.5 grams) baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (50 grams) eggs
  • 3 tablespoons + 2 1/2 teaspoons (45 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (28 grams) glucose syrup
  • 0.6 ounce (19 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons (9 grams) whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (19 grams) fresh lemon juice
  • Lemon Curd
  • 3/4 sheet (1.8 grams) silver leaf gelatin
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons (108 grams) eggs
  • 1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons (108 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons (108 grams) strained fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 5 ounces (140 grams) Unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
  • Grated zest of 1/2 small lemon or 1/2 lime (optional)

Instructions

  1. For the Pâte Sucrée: Place the all-purpose flour in a medium bowl. Sift the 46 grams plus 2 1/2 tablespoons powdered sugar and the almond flour into the bowl; break up any lumps of almond flour remaining in the sieve, add them to the bowl, and whisk to combine.
  2. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream on medium-low speed, warming the bowl as needed, until the butter is the consistency of mayonnaise and holds a peak when the paddle is lifted. Sift in the remaining 94 grams/3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar and pulse to begin incorporating the sugar, then increase the speed to medium-low and mix for about 1 minute, until the mixture is fluffy.
  3. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean, add them to the butter mixture, and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds to distribute the seeds evenly.
  4. Add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing for 15 to 30 seconds after each, or until just combined. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate any dry ingredients that have settled there. Add the eggs and mix on low speed until just combined, 15 to 30 seconds.
  5. Transfer the dough to the work surface. Use the heel of your hand to smear the dough and work it together (fraiser). Divide the dough in half and form each half into a 4-by-6-inch-rectangle, about 1 inch thick.
  6. *You will use only one of these rectangles to make the tarts. The other half can be used in future recipes, for any tart with a semi-sweet filling.
  7. Wrap each piece in a double layer of plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours, but preferably overnight. The dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
  8. For the Madeleine Cake: Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a sheet pan with Silpat or spray lightly with nonstick spray, line with parchment paper, and spray the parchment.
  9. Sift the flour and baking powder into a medium bowl.
  10. Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and mix on medium-low speed for about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and whip for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then whip on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened but is still light and airy. Remove the bowl from the mixture stand.
  11. Meanwhile, place the glucose and butter in a medium saucepan, set over medium heat, and whisk to combine as they melt. Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk, then pour into a bowl and let cool until just warm to the touch.
  12. Whisk about one-quarter of the egg mixture into the glucose mixture. Whisk in the lemon juice. Fold the dry ingredients into the remaining egg mixture in 2 additions. Fold in the glucose mixture one-quarter at a time, completely incorporating each addition before adding the next.
  13. Spread the batter in a thin layer and bake for 10 to 12 minutes; the layer should not take on any color. Let cool, then place the pan in the freezer until ready to use.
  14. For the Lemon Curd: Place the gelatin in a bowl of ice water to soften.
  15. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and sugar together in a medium saucepan. Slowly whisk in the lemon or lime juice. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk slowly, until the mixture begins to simmer. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, whisking constantly, until thickened. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk gently for 1 to 2 minutes to release steam and cool the curd slightly.
  16. Remove the gelatin from the water, squeezing out the excess water, and whisk it into the hot curd. Strain the curd through a fine-mesh strainer set over the container of a Vitamix and blend on low speed for a few seconds, then add the butter 2 or 3 pieces at a time, blending until incorporated. Add the zest, if using, and blend to incorporate. Let the curd cool to room temperature.
  17. The curd can be used at this point or transferred to a covered container. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
  18. If the curd has been refrigerated and has stiffened, transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix slowly until it reaches a creamy consistency.
  19. To Assemble: For the tart shell: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a sheet pan with a Silpat or parchment paper.
  20. Roll out half the dough, line the tart rings, and fill with rice. Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 8 minutes, or until the dough is set and no longer sticks to the parchment paper. Remove the parchment and rice (store the rice for future use), return the pan to the oven, and bake for another 12 minutes, or until the dough is cooked through and golden brown. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely. Run the tip of a paring knife between the top of the crust and the ring to loosen the crust, then lift off the ring.
  21. Meanwhile, make a Swiss meringue: Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and set over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk until the mixture reaches 160°F/71.1°C, then immediately put the bowl on the mixer, attach the whisk attachment, and whip at medium-high speed for about 5 minutes, until the whites hold stiff peaks and are cool. Transfer to the pastry bag fitted with the 1-inch tip.
  22. Use the round cutter to cut the frozen madeleine layer into 6 rounds.
  23. Fill the pastry bag fitted with the 1/2-inch plain tip with the lemon curd.
  24. Fill the tart shells with curd to 1/2 inch from the rim of the shells (50 grams/1/3 cup each). Place the cake rounds on top. Hold the pastry bag vertically over the center of each cake, about 1 inch from the surface, and pipe the meringue to cover about two-thirds of the surface (20 grams each), then pull the bag up to form a dome with as much additional meringue as you’d like.
  25. Hold a small offset spatula at the tip of the domed meringue and pull it to the edges of the crust, forming a smooth line from the tip to the outside of the shell. Wipe off the spatula and continue around the tart to form a cone shape, then use the spatula to form irregular peaks in the meringue. Using the propane torch, brown the top of the meringue.
  26. The tarts are best the same day they are assembled. They can be refrigerated for 4 to 6 hours; remove them from the refrigerator 20 minutes before serving.

https://rhondasteed.com/bouchon-bakery-lemon-meringue-tarts

Lemon Meringue Tarts | Just Rhonda

Yummo!

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Ricotta Ice Cream

For Christmas I got this lovely Ice cream maker. I am a big fan of any Cuisinart appliances I’ve purchased. And this one is no exception. I used to have an older one that was traditional with the salt and ice and a whole lot of noise. 🙂 This one is a little bit easier. Okay, a whole lot easier. I bought it off Amazon and it is awesome.

 

The first kind of ice cream we made was a yummy Ricotta one. I have a beautiful book from the amazing David Lebovitz called My Paris Kitchen. I have loved every recipe I have tried so far and this one was no exception!! A lovely light fresh ice cream with a great texture! I’m a big fan of it.

Ricotta Ice Cream | Just Rhonda

Ricotta Ice Cream

Ingredients

    For the custard
  • 1 cup (250ml) half-and-half or heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup (80g) honey
  • 2 cups (500ml) whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • optional: 1 teaspoon grappa or kirsch
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • For mixing in
  • 1/4 cup (40g) finely diced candied lemon, orange, or citron
  • 1/4 cup (40g) coarsely chopped shelled pistachios (untoasted, or very lightly toasted)

Instructions

  1. 1. Warm the half-and-half or cream with the sugar and salt in a small saucepan.
  2. 2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.
  3. 3. Make an ice bath by nesting a metal or glass bowl in a larger bowl that’s partially filled with ice and some water. Set a mesh strainer over the top.
  4. 4. When the half-and-half mixture is very warm, gradually add it to the yolks, stirring constantly with a whisk as you pour (to avoid scrambling the eggs). Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, just until the custard thickens and coats the spatula. (Do not boil.)
  5. 5. Immediately strain the custard into the bowl in the ice bath and stir until cool.
  6. 6. Pour the custard into a blender and add the honey, ricotta, and grappa or kirsch (if using). Puree in the blender until the mixture is very smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour the mixture into a container, cover, and chill thoroughly.
  7. 7. Add the lemon juice, then churn the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When done, stir in the candied citrus and nuts, and transfer to a container. Cover, and store in the freezer until ready to serve.

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2014/08/ricotta-ice-cream-gelato-recipe/

https://rhondasteed.com/ricotta-ice-cream

We had it over some yummy brownies and a tasty hot fudge sauce for valentine’s day. Totally tasty!

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5 Great Children’s Books about Love

5 Children's' Books about Love | Just Rhonda

It’s getting close to valentine’s day this week. Some people love the day and some hate it. I think it’s always a good idea to tell those around us we love them and to talk about love with our kids. I’ve heard teenagers using the word love quite freely about each other. And often it is mistaken for liking someone. Either way it is a good thing to talk to our kids about. What love really is and how we show people that we love them and that there are different kinds of love. Here are a few kids books that we are fans of that talk about love and loving those around us.

 

  1. Love you Forever by Robert Munsch. This is a classic kids book. Totally one that made me bawl whenever I would read it pregnant. It’s such a wonderful example of how much parents love their kids and especially a mothers love. I think it’s a great book for beginning a conversation with our kids about how they will always be our babies no matter how big they get.
  2. Wherever you are, my love will find you by  Nancy Tillman. A sweet loving story about a parent’s love for a child. A beautiful poetic book with sweet simple illustrations.
  3. Love you when by Linda Kranz. A simple and cute book about how something we see in our daily travels will spark our minds to think of those we love.
  4. The Kissing Hand by  Audrey Penn. We were first given this book when Alden went to school for the first time and we have loved it ever since. It is such a great book talking about how love can go with someone even if we are separated from each other. It’s a great book for the beginning of school.
  5. How full is your bucket?  by Tom Rath. A great book that teaches kids HOW to show people you love them. Using the bucket metaphor to teach kids that it’s how we act that shows love.

All of these books are really good for opening conversation about your own love with your child. Do any titles come to mind for you that you love to read about love? 🙂

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Why a salad is $7 and a Burger is $1

 

I share a lot of recipes and talk about food. But today I’m sharing something a little bit different. Today my husband is going to share some information in response to a question he was asked on his Facebook feed.
Why is a Burger cheaper than a Salad | Just Rhonda

I’m not a food policy expert but since it was brought up I thought I’d look into the question of why it’s generally more expensive to eat healthy (or put another way – why salads are $7 and a burger is $1). This question isn’t technically accurate – while it’s not hard to find a $1 burger you can also find salad’s that are much cheaper than $7 but the idea of cheap burgers vs. expensive is reasonable.

As I looked around for information on this topic much of what’s out there applies to American food situation – but I suspect the information applies to Canada if not for our own food policies but because a significant portion of our food would come from or is heavily influenced by the U.S. (especially when considering cheaper food options).

Here’s the first interesting chart.

 

This graph “shows the price of different foods and beverages over the last three decades. The price of each food or beverage is set equal to 1 in January 1978, and the chart then shows how the price has changed since then.”[i] Most items are relatively cheaper with the obvious exception of fruit and vegetables – basically this confirms what we all assume, healthier foods are getting more expensive while unhealthy foods are getting cheaper.

 

Next up this chart, which seems fairly ready made to answer the question under consideration.

This would suggest that, contrary to what some might think, capitalism may have little to do with the high costs of some food and the relative lower costs of others. Yes, the U.S. government provides significant financial incentives to meat and dairy industry and relatively little to the fruit and vegetable industry.[ii]   To put that in dollar figures the U.S. government spent about $23 billion in 2005 on farm subsidies while the total pretax farm profit in the U.S. was $72.6 billion.[iii] So of that $23 billion less than 1% (or about $85 million) of that government money was spent on fruits and vegetables.

I don’t know that I can say all the reasons why the government would do that. Some of the reason may be historical – the foundation of farm subsidies goes back to the early 1900s and made sense at the time to protect farmers and support foods that were more easily stored and shipped but there is inertia against change which leaves dated policies still functioning and even newer policies having unintentional effects that seem to entrench the status quo.[iv] One article has suggested a political aspect to this, “Few politicians are inclined to vote against farm subsidies: though farmers make up only a small number of voters, even in agricultural states, they are loud and organized enough to punish lawmakers who vote against a farm bill. Opposition to spending is muted; few voters realize how much of their money is given to farmers and even fewer would change their vote because of it.”[v] While the why is really complicated so is the how. There’s a lengthy article[vi] that gets into the intricacies of the system (which is apparently changing anyway) of how the government provides food subsidies. The government doesn’t just give money to corn growers (which is actually a grass not a vegetable and while we do eat corn it ends up being used for so much else – see below) it’s an insurance system whereby producers of corn and soy (which account for about half of the planted land in the U.S.) can rely upon an insured income or a fixed price where they’ll be topped up above market price. The author of the above referenced article makes the apt analogy of “farmers, at least to some extent, farming to the (farm) bill the way teachers teach to a test.”

It should be recognized that the relatively higher costs of vegetables are not simply due to misguided governmental regulation. As a simple example in the spring of 2015 the costs of lettuce went up because of a blip in the weather in California – warm temperatures in January and February that pushed some winter vegetables to peak harvest way too early, leaving gaps in the supply chain now that are pushing up prices.[vii] More recently we’ve seen weather changes along with increased interest cause the cost of cauliflower to go up.[viii]

The relative lack of governmental help does explain why the ingredients we put in salads can be more expensive. However, to go a bit deeper – there’s a few reasons to consider why a hamburger is so cheap. Some of that reason has to do with corn. The American industrial food complex has decided that it is easier to use one ingredient for many things. That ingredient is corn. For example, corn is actually a significant ingredient in the chicken nugget which, “’piles corn upon corn: what chicken it contains consists of corn’ (because the chickens are corn-fed), as does ‘the modified corn starch that glues the thing together, the corn flour in the batter that coats it, and the corn oil in which it gets fried. Much less obviously, the leavenings and lecithin, the mono-, di-, and triglycerides, the attractive golden coloring, and even the citric acid that keeps the nugget fresh can all be derived from corn.’”[ix]

I’m often amazed at how cheap pop is (except for Orangina) and part of the reason for that is corn, specifically corn syrup, is a main ingredient. As a side note the mere fact that Coca Cola sponsors a website call, the beverage institute for health and wellness that touts the benefits and minimizes the negative impacts of high fructose corn syrup should cause us to question our intake this processed substance.[x] Corn is the most heavily subsidized crop in the U.S. and becomes a significant food source for livestock (it’s cheap even if not the healthiest to feed corn to cows). Thus when we buy burgers we’re eating corn because that’s what cows are eating.

The final point to make is that not all burgers are equal. We often laugh at hotdogs for the mysterious provenances of their ingredients but these cheaper hamburgers are likely not much different. Although it was in the Guardian where policies may differ somewhat there was an article that explains the tricks these burger manufacturers will play to get to the mandated 47% of content of cow. Of course, even the high class burgers will have some non-meat ingredients (i.e. eggs) so the beef holds together but the article refers to protein added to burgers that, “might be extracted from boiled-up bits of animal even the French wouldn’t eat, such as hide or gristle and other offcuts, which are then dried and ground down to a power that does into a ‘seasoning’ mix.”[xi]

People do write books about these sorts of things but hopefully this give some food for thought (yup, intentional) about why eating healthy can be more expensive. Now let’s get back to talking about obesity in America.

 

If you have any other questions about  health, we’d love to hear them.

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[i] Leonhardt, David, What’s wrong with this chart? NYT, May 20, 2009;

[ii] Rampell, Catherine, Why a Big Mac Costs Less than a Salad, NYT, March 9, 2010; 

[iii] Farm Subsidies Over Time, Washington Post, July 2, 2006,; this link does have a great graph that shows these financial details from 1960 to 2005

[iv] Grist

[v] The Economist

[vi] Haspel, Tamar, Farm bill: Why don’t taxpayers subsidize the foods that are better for us? Washington Post, Feb 18, 2014; 

[vii] Parsons, Russ, Why lettuce is getting so expensive, LA Times, April 27, 2015,

[viii] Cauliflower Prices

[ix] Flannery, Tim We’re Living on Corn (reviewing Michael Pollan’s – The Omnivore’s Dilemma); New York Review of Books, June 28, 2007

[x] The beverage institute for health and wellness 

[xi] Lawrence, Felicity; The secret of the ‘special offer’ economy burger, Guardian; 24 January 2013:

 

Roasted Squash Soup

 

Roastedsquashsoup-3014

It seems its been a few weeks since I shared any recipes. I’ve still been cooking, just not taking pictures of any of it 😉 Just eating it instead. Today I’m sharing a soup I made up a few weeks ago over the Christmas holidays.

Roastedsquashsoup-3021

I grew a lot of these squash in my garden this year and Ive still got them hanging around in my cold room. They make a lovely soup on the cold days of winter.

Roasted Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 Large Spaghetti Squash
  • 2 large shallots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup half and half cream
  • 3 cups good chicken stock
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp mild curry powder
  • 1 tsp dried cumin
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. To roast the squash, cut it open and clean out the seeds and place the opened squash onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, dried cumin and dried cardamon.
  4. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until you can pierce the flesh easily with a fork.
  5. After the Squash is done, scoop it out and set aside. You want 8 cups of squash.
  6. In a large soup pit with a thick bottom, melt the butter and then add in the shallots, garlic and celery. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the celery is soft.
  7. Add in reserved squash along with chicken stock, curry powder, cumin and salt.
  8. Bring to a soft boil. Add in cream and warm it up.
  9. Enjoy.

https://rhondasteed.com/roasted-squash-soup

Roastedsquashsoup-3016

I served it with grated parmesan on top. Yummo!

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December Daily 2015: Day 11-18

I’m still I plugging away at my December Daily. I am SO Close to finishing (yippee!)  So back today I’m sharing more pages and tomorrow I’ll hopefully be able to finish this thing off! 🙂

One thing story I shared in my album wasn’t at all festive, but was about my grandma Stasiuk ended up in the hospital. I wanted to document it because it’s important.

December Daily | Just Rhonda

The middle card that says 4 generations flipped over. I love love love the picture on the bottom right side. It’s a photo of Norah’s, Mine, my mom’s and my grandma’s hands all together.

December Daily | Just Rhonda

This page is one of my favorite spreads. I love love kids art and I wanted to save a spot for all of the christmas art that came home to our house. So much fun art at Christmas time. I just scanned them all and printed them smaller to fit the spots. The little card in the middle turns over.

December Daily | Just Rhonda

The middle card flipped over to the left.

December Daily | Just Rhonda

Every year our kids see Santa at our ward Christmas party. It’s my favorite way to have them see him. It’s not too long of waiting in line. Win-win.

December Daily | Just Rhonda

For the 14th I had a couple stories. An ornament that is very special to me, Our yearly snowman pizza and our little live tree we had in the front room.

December Daily | Just Rhonda

The next story is all about all the Christmas baking. Lots of treats made around here. And I took a lot of pictures of them. 🙂 Again the middle card can be flipped. I love the Ali Edwards digital brushes that I added onto various pictures. The “eating” stamp on the biscotti.

December Daily | Just Rhonda

On the other side of the middle card more pictures of cookies. The “baking treats” and the “Oh what fun” are both also Ali Edwards digital stamps.

December Daily | Just Rhonda

The story for the 16th is not really Christmasy either. It’s a great story though. It’s all about Norah and Lucy and their little spa. It’s about the cutest thing around and I love that Lucy is willing to do it for Norah whenever she asks.

December Daily | Just Rhonda

A little Eliscapade for the 17th. Him cutting his hair at school….

December Daily | Just Rhonda

Writing online to Santa emails for the 18th.

December Daily | Just Rhonda

Lots of stories documented so far in this album. 🙂

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Spiritual Sundays: Recharging our light

Spiritual Sundays| Just Rhonda

Two of my boys share a room. And at ages 4 and 7 they both feel the need to sleep with some sort of a nightlight. We’ve tried quite a few kinds and even used a Sentsy Pot for a while just to keep them in their beds. I understand the need for a light as I still remember the bad dreams I had as a child. The funny thing about these two boys is that they keep unplugging the nightlight and trying to bring the light closer. You see the night lights that we finally settled on are these rechargeable kind of flash lights with night lights on them. And when the lights go out they automatically come on. So each night Oliver and/or Eli keep unplugging them and setting them near their heads to have it lighter near them. The charge will usually last at least one night, sometimes part of two but then inevitably they will run out of charge sometime in the night, the room will go dark and the boys will wake up scared, sad and confused.

Inside each one of is a light. We are born with it and it is something that God gave to us to help us. We call it “the Light of Christ.”

Every soul who walks the earth, wherever he lives, in whatever nation he may have been born, no matter whether he be in riches or in poverty, had at birth an endowment of that first light which is called the Light of Christ, the Spirit of Truth, or the Spirit of God – that universal light of intelligence with which every soul is blessed.  Mormon spoke of that Spirit when he said: “For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.”  (Moroni 7:16) — President Harold B. Lee quoted by Thomas S. Monson, “To Truly See,” Ensign, February 2005, p. 5

This light is burning inside of each of us to guide us and help us throughout our lives. When we listen to that yearning inside of us it can grow brighter and brighter. It can help us and comfort us and protect us from the scary things in the world. God gave us this gift because He loves us so much and He wants us to return to live with Him one day. That gift is something to be cherish and taken care of.  The tricky thing about this light is that is needs to be charged. It needs to be listened too and heeded. And it needs to be charged with spiritual food. Scripture study, daily and consistent prayers, church attendance, temple attendance. All the things we know we should be doing. These will charge our lights.

“Life will have its storms.  We can and must have confidence.  God our Heavenly Father has given us the right to know the truth.  He has shown that the way to receive that truth is simple, so simple that a child can follow it.  Once it is followed, more light comes from God to enlighten the understanding of His faithful spirit child.  That light will become brighter even as the world darkens.  The light that comes to us with truth will be brighter than the darkness that comes from sin and error around us.  A foundation built on truth and illuminated by the light of God will free us from the fear that we might be overcome.” — Elder Henry B. Eyring, “A Life Founded in Light and Truth,” Ensign, July 2001, p. 6

It takes work to do these things. It takes choosing to read my scriptures over starting that next Netflix episode. It means trying to stop saying those unkind things about our neighbor and loving our families more. And it takes a lot of time on our knees pleading and praying to the Lord to recharge our lights and then listening to and heading the promptings that He sends to us.

The great thing about our light is that it can influence those around us. We can be a light that spreads to others. To our children, to our husbands, to the neighbor on the street and the teacher at the school. And then our lights are added to each other to make something so bright and powerful.

“The ability to have an unsettled conscience is a gift of God to help you succeed in this mortal life.  It results principally from the influence of the Light of Christ on your mind and heart.  The Light of Christ is that divine power or influence that emanates from God through Jesus Christ [see Topical Guide, “Light of Christ,” p. 290].  It gives light and life to all things.  It prompts all rational individuals throughout the earth to distinguish truth from error, right from wrong.  It activates your conscience [see Moroni 7:16].  Its influence can be weakened through transgression and addiction and restored through proper repentance.  The Light of Christ is not a person.  It is a power and influence that comes from God and when followed can lead a person to qualify for the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Ghost [see John 1:9; D&C 84:46-47].” — Elder Richard G. Scott, “Peace of Conscience and Peace of Mind,” Ensign, November 2004, p. 15

When we lived in Nova Scotia I served with the Young Women. At one of our girl’s camps we had a very neat experience. At midnight on the last night of the camp, we all went down to the shores of the lake. And there parked were all the catamaran canoes. We filled up the canoes with girls and leaders and a few lights. In our hands each of us had a candle. We were quiet and still as we rowed out in the middle of the lake. Once we were all out there together we huddled the boats close to each other. Then one of the leaders had all the lights turned out but one. It was so dark. We were in the middle of a lake in the pitch blackness. The moon was up in the sky and the stars but there was little light on our boats. We couldn’t really even see each other. Then the leader lit a candle and used that candle to light another. We continued to light candle after candle until every person was holding a lit candle. The light was amazing and overpowering. It was strong and spread our from our boats on to the water around us. We could see as we shared out light with each other.

Light Shine Printable | Just Rhonda

(Click image and download it if you want to!)

As we rowed in to the shore the feeling stayed burning in my heart of the strength in my own light burning bright and being surrounded with the lights of others. It warmed me and even the memory of that experience warms my heart now. Our little lights have power and strength if we are willing to continue to charge them daily. We know what we need to do. So let’s do it.

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December Daily 2015: Day 6-10

Yesterday I shared pages 2-5 of my December Daily. Today I’m sharing the next 4.

Day 6: Documenting the Christmas season but I wanted to make sure that I document the feeling and spirit of the season. The TRUE meaning. So for the first Sunday  in December I documented a devotional we listened to on Sunday night.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

The little tag flipped over.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

The middle 4×6 card has a cute little picture of Norah on the back.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

I love these printed clear pages with the gold sayings. So lovely.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

I made the two cards on the right side. I wanted some cards that had a spiritual touch. Both are super simple.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

Day 7: Sharing our family evening where we had friends over and made Rice Krispie Nativities. Lots of fun with treats and friends and so important to document.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

In the middle of the page is a 4×6 picture added in with a card on the back side.

DecemberDaily2015-21

I stamped and white embossed the “peace joy & love” stamp. It’s on a pop dot so it’s up above.

December Daily 2015 | Just RhondaDay 8:  Documenting the story of setting up our tree and the falling over of the tree that same night.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

I LOVE adding in quotes from my kids. And this one from Alden totally made me giggle.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

In the middle of the page I made a booklet with a picture on the front and then it opened inside to tell the story.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

I thought I was super smart to think of using my “HOHOHOH” stamp upside down as a “OHOHOHOH” for the tree falling over.  😉

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

On the back side I left I had pictures of the kids doing the decorating.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

Day 9: Documenting a couple different things for this day. Watching the movie Elf with my big kids for the first time as well as having a Poinsettia around the house. I added the “tis the season” right on my phone with the Rhonna app. (Which is awesome!)

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

Adding in a snowflake snowman that Eli made that I just loved and my favorite (and I think everyone’s favorite) quote from the movie Elf.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

On the backside I added in a very lovely picture Oliver drew of the nativity. I love love love it and I love that he wrote his name himself on it too.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

Day 10: Eli in the grade 2 school Christmas play. He was a wise man and he looooved it. Another one of those gold touched clear pages from the kit.

December Daily 2015 | Just RhondaI just added in the little tag for the date of the page.
December Daily 2015 | Just RhondaThe “Joy to the World” filler card is a printed card from the Project Life Christmas kit.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

Up to day 10 and Moving on! 🙂

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December Daily 2015: Day 2-5

I’m playing catch up with my december daily. Both doing it AND sharing it 😉 So here are pages 2 thru 5.

Day 2: The advent calendars that I got for the kids from the local pharmacy a day late.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

Day 3: All about the cookie exchange that I go to every year at my friend Marie’s.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

I took a picture of all the cookies laid out and then labeled them all.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

The small happy holidays circle was from a printable that I found online and then I cut it out and layered with a circle punched out of cute sparkly patterned paper.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

The other side of the page with the middle card flipped.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

Day 4: Sharing the story of Alden and Lucy building a lego nativity for the Festival of Nativities. It was one of my favorite stories of the whole holiday season this year.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

Lots of fun using the small 2×2 page protectors.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

Flipped over middle one to show another great piece from the Ali Edwards main December Daily kit.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

I did a big 8×8 picture of the nativity and labeled it in Photoshop.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

Day 5: All about the our tree hunting trip. I loved this day and I love this spread. Lots of fun.December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

Love using that little picture with the cute stripped washi tape.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

I did lots of layers on this page. Lots to turn and check out.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

Another small piece to turn over and see.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

I had fun with the Ali Edwards paint and screens for the Joy on the card. The fillers in the 2×2 page protectors were from some small pieces from a Christmas Project Life kit as well as a Merry Christmas card from a printable.

December Daily 2015 | Just Rhonda

So much fun to document our december!

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Color Me Mine, Lethbridge

We like taking our kids out to DO things; And it’s even funner when it’s with cousins. And lucky enough Grandma Steed found us a new fun activity in Lethbridge over the Christmas holidays. We have traveled a bit and lived in other areas of Canada and one thing I think Southern Alberta is sometimes lacking is in the family fun department. These kinds of Coloring pottery places are all over but I think this is the first in Lethbridge. There are SO many families with lots of kids in Lethbridge and surrounding areas and I think we need more of these kinds of things to DO with our families. That’s why I was glad we went here. If we want more things like this we need to support them when we come. Which is why I’m sharing about our experience there!

First walking in my kids were SO excited to see the shelves of different ceramics. So, so many  to choose from. I was a tad bit nervous of one of them breaking things (but no one did!) Lucy was in HEAVEN!!!! She had a hard time picking because she loved so many. Alden picked his so easily – a football helmet piggy bank. You pay according to the piece that you pick to paint. Bigger ones are more expensive.

Color Me Mine Lethbridge | Just Rhonda

There is an explanation about how the paint works (it gets a LOT darker when it’s in the kiln) and then you get you started painting. Some of the kids talked a bit about what colors and planning but some just dove right into it. So much fun painting. Three coats of paint later and they were done. There are LOTS of paint choices 🙂

Color Me Mine Lethbridge | just Rhonda

I ended up leaving Oliver and Norah at home with a babysitter so that I could help Eli if I needed too and paint my own. I think they could have done it in the end but it would have been better to have dad with us too if I had brought them both. It ended up taking us a couple hours to get everyone’s painted. Some of the kids finished before the others and then they looked around the store at all the other awesome choices but most of them finished around the same time. After we were done we left them there to be cooked or “fired” in the kiln and seal the paint on.

Color Me Mine Lethbridge | Just Rhonda

So much fun. The kids all loved it a lot. In fact in the middle of painting hers, Lucy said “Mom, have you ever had a day SO good it feels like a dream? That’s today for me.” Sweetest ever!! Our kids ages that were there were 13 down to 4. The 4 year old needed help and started to lose interest near the end (but really she did GREAT). All the other kids did it almost all on their own. We will be exploring other fun things in Southern Alberta over the next year and sharing our adventures and all the things we try here.

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10 on Tuesday

1. I’ve been blogging now for almost 12 years. It’s strange to say its been that long but I started on my other site and then graduated to this one eventually. I have been asked lots of times about blogging, why I do it, how I find the time, etc. It has changed a lot. In the beginning we lived in Nova Scotia and I shared a lot about Alden and scrapbooking. So I guess somethings are the same – still my kids and memory keeping. Comments are WAY less than they used to be but i have more readers than back then (WAY more readers!)  I still feel driven to blog. I like doing it. Some days I don’t have the time lately. My kids are getting older and I am doing other things (like a lot of driving here and there)! I am naturally a creator and sharer and I know I’ll keep doing it. Over January I’ll be thinking about it and how I feel about it and what I want for my blog. Goals for this space and what I want to share. More goodness into the world.

Banff at Sunrise | Just Rhonda

2. Speaking of sharing, I want to share my December Daily album. Hopefully I get it finished next week so I can share it! HA!

December Daily 2015| Just Rhonda

3. I started a 365 this year. As in Im trying to take a picture a day all year. Today i almost missed it but I snuck one in. And I guess technically it’ll be a 366.

4. I hoping we go on more family adventures this year. As always of course we’ll go to Waterton lots! But Alberta is a beautiful place and perhaps we’ll explore more of it and BC. Places we can drive too.

Douglas Fir Banff | Just Rhonda

5. My kids are at an age where you’d think we’d sleep at night. But we don’t someone is always up. Last night it was Norah – for almost 2 hours. And I couldn’t get back to sleep after I finally got her back to bed. I had a hard time accomplishing all I wanted to do today because I was so tired. I really just want them to stay asleep ALL night long.

6. My year long position on the Project Life Creative Team is up and I am so sad it’s done. I LOVED doing it. And I especially loved all the ladies I got to know. I’ll still be doing PL because I love it. 🙂

2015 Project Life Album | Just Rhonda

7. My friend Katey shared this quote the other day on FB and i love love love it. I’ve reread it a couple of times because it really speaks to me:

8. I got to do a commercial shoot a week or so ago. And I LOVED that. It was awesome. And it was in Waterton so that makes it even better!

9. My stomach muscles are so sore and I can’t figure out if its from the yoga I did yesterday or the really bad cough i have. 😉

10. I joined a group on FB called Self Portraits of Motherhood. And I am in for it. I love the group and I am going to be taking more pictures with me in them this year. That is on my list too.

One Little Word: 2016

A couple of years ago I started doing the one little word. Basically it is choosing one word to use to focus on for the year. In 2014 I had focus and in 2015 I had choose. This year I have chosen health.

one little word 2016 | Just Rhonda

Now I had some reservations about choosing this word. In a lot of ways I live a relatively healthy life. We eat mostly food that is made at home (not a lot of processed), we eat a lot of veggies and fruit, but there are things I can do to make my life more healthy. And not just in a physical way.

The definition of health: 

1. The overall condition of an organism at a given time.
2. Soundness, especially of body or mind; 
3. condition of optimal well-being: 
This totally sums up what I want: Optimal well being. In my physical body, in my mental health, in my spiritual health, in my relationships. Wholeness and healthiness.

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I feel like I know myself more and more as I age and I know that I am not one for fads or 21 day fixes or things like that. I frankly don’t think they are healthy. In my mind wholeness and health means choosing each day to live in a healthy manner. By making small daily choices that are good for me and my body and my mind and my spirit.

My lovely friend shared this this morning and it think it totally applies. “Ordinary people who faithfully, diligently & consistently do simple things that are right before God, will bring forth extraordinary results.” – David A. Bednar

I don’t think depriving myself of all the treats in the world is going to change my health. It might for a while, but I know myself and I think treats are a lovely part of life. I love Pain aux Chocolat and I’m going to keep making them. But I’m going to save them for Christmas or other special occasions and when I do make them I’ll have one. That to me is a smart route than thinking I can cut myself off from all the lovely treats in the world.
Saying to myself I am going to exercise for 2 hours everyday at 5 am isn’t reasonable for my life. Instead, I am going to get back into my yoga practice and go on walks more on the treadmill and outside. Choosing movement instead of choosing to sit still. Noticing my posture and sitting up straight.
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I guess part of my choosing the word health this year is choosing to pay attention to my body and my emotions and my spirit and doing what I know they need. With all that in mind, here is my list that I am using to guide my life over the next year.
  1. MORE plant based meals with LESS red meat.
  2. MORE listening to when I am full and LESS overall food.
  3. MORE scripture study and LESS wasting time on the internet.
  4. MORE physical activity with LESS sitting around.
  5. MORE time engaged with my kids/husband.
  6. MORE whole grains and LESS white flour.
  7. MORE water and LESS Chocolate.
  8. MORE sleep and LESS piddling around the house late at night.
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I think we all know the things to do to make ourselves feel better. I know that I am going to try and not eat carbs after 8 pm (although my Ukrainian Christmas is coming up and I know I will that night) and reach for water to stop snacking or a piece of fruit if I am hungry. This year I want to focus on my health and choose the things I know I need to do to make myself feel healthy, inside and out.
I’m participating in Ali Edwards year long class to explore my word and I think that will really help me as I discover how to become more healthy in all areas of my life. I will be blogging throughout the year about my one little word, ideas in healthy eating, physical exercise, healthy relationships, etc.
Have you ever picked a word? If you picked one this year I’d love to know what it is!
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December Daily 2015 | Day One

I’m sharing more of my December Daily album documenting our holiday seasons. This is page one. The story I shared for Day one is about our tradition of snowman pancakes. And this year I forgot, but two of my kids reminded me that morning. So I pulled it together for them.

December Daily 2015| Just Rhonda

Their favorite part is the bacon scarf. But really who doesn’t love bacon 😉

December Daily 2015| Just Rhonda

I’m loving these big numbered tags!!

December Daily 2015| Just RhondaI’m also loving adding in my gold foiled pieces from my Minc!!! Pretty! The Date stamp is from Kerri Bradford! (I LOVE her stamps!!)
December Daily 2015| Just RhondaNothing too fancy but documented!

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December Daily 2015 | Opening Pages

I’m playing along this month with the amazing Ali Edwards and her fantastic December Daily, which is essentially a project to document one story for each day of December. I bought a kit from Ali called the main kit and I’m loving it. I’ve added in other things to spice it up. Like using my lovely Heidi Swapp Minc and the little pieces that I got at Michael’s.

This is my title page. The background paper is from the AE Main kit. And the numbers and the circle I added on top after running them through the Minc. Love that gold.

December Daily 2015| Just Rhonda

Shiny and lovely. 😉

December Daily 2015| Just Rhonda

On the next page I did a little write up about why I am participating in this little project. I’m loving this shiny silver paint and the screen that came in the main kit. So much fun to use! Ali had this page as a free printable on her blog and I added my journaling in photoshop and then added the paint and washi tape and chipboard star on top.

December Daily 2015| Just Rhonda

This was the first time I actually tried using one of the screens that I haven’t received in my kid subscription and I loved it!! I’ll be using more in the future!

December Daily 2015| Just Rhonda

This is the whole spread. On the right is a thick printed plastic. On the top I added one of the wooden painted trees with a small stamp on top from Keri Bradford. (I love her stamps!)

December Daily 2015| Just Rhonda

I’ll be sharing more of my December Daily soon!

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Some years in the past I have done lots of decorations up around our house. This year things are pretty simple but also really fun.

This is my mantel this year. All of these lovely cute (and easy to put together) decorations came from My Mind’s Eye.

Simple Christmas Decor | Just Rhonda

They are super easy, you just open them and hang them up. Easy peasy.Simple Christmas Decor | Just Rhonda

I’m loving the sparkles and the glitter!

Simple Christmas Decor | Just Rhonda

Cutest deer right?! My Mind’s Eye has a whole line of cute stuff called Holiday and all this comes from it!

Simple Christmas Decor | Just Rhonda

Everyone who has been in my home has asked me where I got it. I ordered mine online right from their shop and had it shipped to the States and I drove down and got it. Easy for those who live near the border like me. There was totally a whole bunch of it I’d love to get too! So cute!!

Simple Christmas Decor | Just Rhonda

I LOVE, love, love the Merry Christmas white with gold polka dots banner!!!!

Simple Christmas Decor | Just Rhonda

The best part was how easy it was to hang up! A craft that you just open and hang. 😉

Simple Christmas Decor | Just Rhonda

The other addition to my mantel is this cute little jar. It is filled with salt and cute little characters in it.

Simple Christmas Decor | Just Rhonda

Super easy and totally festive.

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12 Days of Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Crackles

12 Days of Christmas Cookies | Just Rhonda

My final day of Christmas Cookies is here with one of my very favorites and my kids favorites.
Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Crackles | Just Rhonda

A yummy chocolatey dough rolled in icing sugar and then baked.
Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Crackles | Just Rhonda

Chocolate Crackles

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for rolling

Instructions

  1. Melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl, or the top of a double boiler, over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool. Into a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and light-brown sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add melted chocolate. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk. Mix on low speed until just combined. Divide dough into quarters, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. On a surface dusted with confectioners' sugar, use your hands to roll each portion of dough into a log 16 inches in length and about 1 inch in diameter. Wrap logs in plastic wrap, and transfer to a baking sheet. Chill for 30 minutes. Cut each log into 1-inch pieces, and toss pieces in confectioners’ sugar, a few at a time. Using your hands, roll the pieces into balls. If any of the cocoa-colored dough is visible, roll dough in confectioners’ sugar again to coat completely. Place cookies on prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies have flattened and sugar splits, 12 to 15 minutes.
  4. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

From Martha Stewart

https://rhondasteed.com/12-days-of-christmas-cookies-chocolate-crackles

Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Crackles | Just Rhonda

Even the littles like eating the dough 😉

Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Crackles | Just Rhonda

Lots of cookies I love to share and make for Christmas.

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12 Days of Christmas Cookies: Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

12 Days of Christmas Cookies | Just Rhonda

A few years ago I cooked my way through the entire Martha Stewart Baking Handbook. It was a goal that I made for myself and i can really say I love a lot of recipes in that book! I’ve tried them.

Christmas Cookies: Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti | Just Rhonda

One of my favorites from that book is this Biscotti. I had never had actual biscotti prior to me making it for this personal challenge.
Christmas Cookies: Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti | Just Rhonda

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

Recipe from Martha Stewart Baking Handbook.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 3 large eggs, plus 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Place cranberries in a small bowl; add boiling water. Let stand until plump, about 15 minutes. Drain, and set aside. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture, and mix on low speed until combined. Mix in cranberries and pistachios.
  3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Shape each piece into a 16-by-2-inch log, and transfer to prepared baking sheet, about 3 inches apart. With the palm of your hand, flatten logs slightly. Brush beaten egg over surface of the dough logs, and sprinkle generously with sugar.
  4. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until logs are slightly firm to touch, about 25 minutes. Transfer logs on parchment paper to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
  5. Place logs on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut logs crosswise on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place a wire rack on a large rimmed baking sheet. Arrange slices, cut sides down, on rack. Bake until firm to touch, about 30 minutes. Remove pan from oven; let biscotti cool completely on rack. Biscotti can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

https://rhondasteed.com/christmas-cranberry-pistachio-biscotti

Christmas Cookies: Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti | Just Rhonda

You can dip the ends in chocolate to be extra fancy. Yummy!

Christmas Cookies: Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti | Just Rhonda

I love these! Way to go Martha!

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12 Days of Christmas Cookies: Sugar Cookies

12 Days of Christmas Cookies | Just RhondaWho doesn’t have sugar cookies some time at Christmas? Different shapes and then the kids decorate (usually with way to much icing and candy).

Christmas Cookies: Sugar Cookies | Just Rhonda

I’m not the biggest fan of actually EATING sugar cookies but I do like these. They are still soft, which I love since I hate eating cardboard covered in icing.

Christmas Cookies: Sugar Cookies | Just Rhonda

Just perfect for little hands to decorate and eat after.

Christmas Cookies: Sugar Cookies | Just Rhonda

Cut Out Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in egg.
  3. Beat until thoroughly mixed in.
  4. Add vanilla and almond flavoring.
  5. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder in another bowl.
  6. Add into butter mixture along with milk and combine well.
  7. Roll dough into a ball with your hands and cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for 1 hour.
  8. Roll out in between two parchment paper paper sprinkled with a little bit of flour to 1/8 inches thick.
  9. Bake 6 - 8 minutes or until the edges just barely start to get brown.
  10. Let cool on racks and then ice.

https://rhondasteed.com/sugar-cookies

Christmas Cookies: Sugar Cookies | Just Rhonda

Easiest icing this time with 2 cups of icing sugar and 2 Tbsp of meringue powder and 4 Tbsp of water.

Christmas Cookies: Sugar Cookies | Just Rhonda

I love these snowflake cookie cutters! I have some from Martha Stewart and one from Presidents Choice (Superstore) and one other one too. Love them!

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12 Days of Christmas Cookies: Peanut Butter Blossoms

12 Days of Christmas Cookies | Just Rhonda

I love how at Christmas time there is certain candy that when you see it you think CHRISTMAS! Like these chocolate and peanut butter bells. Yummy.

Christmas Cookies: Peanut Butter Blossoms | Just Rhonda

Another simple and yummy Christmas treat. I got this recipe a few years ago from a cookbook I borrowed once from the library and I didn’t even write down which book!

Christmas Cookies: Peanut Butter Blossoms | Just Rhonda

We may have eaten some of the candy before these got made so I started sticking other chocolates we have around the house. HA!

Christmas Cookies: Peanut Butter Blossoms | Just Rhonda

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl beat shortening and peanut butter with electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds.
  3. Add in the granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and baking soda.
  4. Beat until combined, scraping bowl sides as need.
  5. Beat in egg, milk and vanilla until well combined.
  6. Beat in flour, stopping and using hands to mix in if necessary.
  7. Shape dough into 1-inch balls.
  8. Roll balls in additional granulated sugar to coat.
  9. Place balls 2 inches apart on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  10. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are firm and bottoms are light brown.
  11. Immediately press a chocolate kiss or peanut butter bell into each cookie center and let cool.

https://rhondasteed.com/peanut-butter-blossoms

Christmas Cookies: Peanut Butter Blossoms | Just Rhonda

I love chocolate and peanut butter together! Yummo!

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12 Days of Christmas Cookies: Gingerbread Men

12 Days of Christmas Cookies | Just Rhonda

Nothing screams Christmas time like little gingerbread men. Now there are no professional decorators in our house but lots of kids and adults who play around. So these are not decorated in any fancy way, but we all had fun.

Christmas Cookies: Gingerbread Men | Just Rhonda

And that means Christmas to me!

Christmas Cookies: Gingerbread Men | Just Rhonda

Gingerbread Men

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup molasses

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy; beat in egg and molasses.
  3. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; mix until just combined.
  4. Divide dough in half; fallen disks. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks set in upper and lower thirds.
  6. Working with one disk at a time, place dough on lightly floured parchment paper, and roll out to 1/8 inch thick, dusting lightly with flour as needed.
  7. Using paper, lift dough onto two baking sheets; freeze until firm, about 20 minutes.
  8. Remove paper and dough from baking sheets and cut out shapes with cookie cutters and brush off any excess flour and Transfer to baking sheets.
  9. For softer cookies, bake 8 to 10 minutes, for crunchier ones bake 11 to 12 minutes.
  10. Transfer to rack to cool completely.

https://rhondasteed.com/gingerbread-men

Christmas Cookies: Gingerbread Men | Just Rhonda

So much fun for kids to play and decorate.

Christmas Cookies: Gingerbread Men | Just Rhonda

These are totally Christmas!

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12 Days of Christmas Cookies: French Macarons

12 Days of Christmas Cookies | Just Rhonda

A few years ago I started making Macrons. They are a finicky cookie that can be changed easily color and taste with a little food coloring and flavoring. But I started making them at Christmas time as a neighborhood gift. I love how fancy they look and I love the airy almond taste of them.

Christmas Cookies: French Macarons | Just Rhonda

I’ve try a few different recipes (like this one) but I’ve settled on this one. I like it best. It only has 4 ingredients, unless you want to add food coloring or a flavor.

Christmas Cookies: French Macarons | Just Rhonda

I’ve learned a few tips from all the times I’ve made them. I’m sure there are more to learn, but these are the few I’ve learned.

  1. Leave the egg whites in a bowl in your fridge for 24 hours before baking and then set them on the counter to come to room temperature before using.
  2. When you pipe them, hold your piping bag straight up and down from your pan and don’t lift it until the very end of the cookie.
  3. To know if your egg whites are mixed enough, you slowly raise the whisk the meringue is straight up, no  drooping, called a ‘beak’ but do not over mix the meringue or it will ‘break’
  4. After you have piped them, if you have a bump on the top, wet down your finger and touch the top to flatten it.
  5. Let the cookies sit on the counter before cooking them.
  6. Let them cool before trying to peel them off the parchment paper.

Christmas Cookies: French Macarons | Just Rhonda

French Macarons

Ingredients

  • 100 grams of ground almonds
  • 180 grams of icing sugar
  • 100 g of egg whites
  • 35 g of granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Place ground almonds in a medium bowl and Sift icing sugar on top bowl.
  3. In the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy.
  4. Gradually add the granulated sugar, and continue to beat, on medium-high speed, until the meringue just holds stiff peaks.
  5. Then, in three additions, sift the ground almond/sugar mixture over the meringue.
  6. When folding, cut through the meringue and then fold up and over, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  7. Once the almond mixture is completely folded into the meringue, pipe the Macarons.
  8. Fill a pastry bag with about half the batter.
  9. Pipe about 1 - 1 1/2 inch (3 - 4 cm) rounds onto the parchment paper.
  10. Then gently tap the baking sheet on the counter to break any air bubbles.
  11. Let the Macarons sit at room temperature for about 30-60 minutes or until the tops of the Macarons are no longer tacky.
  12. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 325 degree F (160 degree C) with the oven racks in the top and bottom third of the oven.
  13. Bake the cookies (two sheets at a time) for about 14 - 16 minutes, rotating the pans top to bottom, front to back, about halfway through baking.
  14. The Macarons are done when you can just barely separate the cookies from the parchment paper
  15. Remove from oven and let the Macarons cool completely on the baking sheet placed on a wire rack.
  16. To assemble the Macarons, take two cookies and sandwich them together with your filling (place filling on flat side of cookie).
  17. Popular choices are a Swiss buttercream frosting, lemon curd, chocolate ganache, jam, or dulce de leche.
  18. While you can serve the Macarons the day they are made, these cookies really need to mature for a day or two in the refrigerator.
  19. Best served at room temperature.

Read more: http://www.joyofbaking.com/frenchmacarons/MacaronsRecipe.html#ixzz3tYaFoNZ8

https://rhondasteed.com/french-macarons

Joy of Baking totally has a GREAT video that shows her making them and there were lots of things I learned while watching it.
Christmas Cookies: French Macarons | Just Rhonda

The blue ones I made for a mom who placed an order for her child’s baptism. They are coconut flavored but the blue matched the decor 😉 To make them coconut I just added some coconut flavoring to the icing. The white are just regular almond.

Such a fun little treat. I like making them more and more to get better at them and I love sharing them with others at Christmas time!

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12 Days of Christmas Cookies: Candy Cane Blossoms

12 Days of Christmas Cookies | Just Rhonda

A few years ago my good friend brought me some of these lovely cookies and I loved them ever since. And I love it when she brings them to us still. Love those little candy cans kisses that only come out at Christmas time.

Christmas Cookies: Candy Cane Blossoms | Just Rhonda

Such a festive treat. This recipe comes straight from Hershey and is super simple. You could use green or red sparkles or that big sugar they sell at the Bulk Barn.

Christmas Cookies: Candy Cane Blossoms | Just Rhonda

Candy Cane Blossoms

Ingredients

  • 48 HERSHEY'S KISSES Brand Candy Cane Mint Candies
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/3 cup red or green sugar crystals, granulated sugar or powdered sugar for rolling

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Remove wrappers from candies.
  2. Beat butter, granulated sugar, egg and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; add alternately with milk to butter mixture, beating until well blended.
  3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in red sugar, granulated sugar, powdered sugar or a combination of any of the sugars. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and cookie is set.
  5. Remove from oven; cool 2 to 3 minutes. Press a candy piece into center of each cookie.
  6. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about 48 cookies.

https://rhondasteed.com/candy-cane-blossoms

Christmas Cookies: Candy Cane Blossoms | Just Rhonda

This was another perfect cookie for little hands to help with. Norah rolled them in the red sugar and set them on the baking sheet. She was sooooo pleased with herself when she rolled them. And we had fun doing it together.

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12 Days of Christmas Cookies: Jam Thumbprints

12 Days of Christmas Cookies | Just Rhonda

Today I’m sharing another of my grandma’s recipes that she has been making for christmas for years. She always puts Jam in them, but me being me had to trying something else too and I had a lovely jar of Dulce de leche from Superstore so I added some of the of that too.

Christmas Cookies: Jam Thumbprints | Just Rhonda

I mean that jar of Dulce de leche was just begging to be used. And these yummy little cookies were the perfect vehicle.

Christmas Cookies: Jam Thumbprints | Just Rhonda

Jam Thumbprints

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup margarine
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 slightly beaten egg whites
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup good jam

Instructions

  1. Cream margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add egg yolks, vanilla and 1/2 tsp salt and Beat well.
  3. Gradually add flour and mix well.
  4. Shape into 3/4" balls.
  5. Dip into egg whites and then roll in chopped nuts.
  6. Place 1" apart on a greased cookie sheet.
  7. Press down centers with thumbs.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 - 17 minutes.
  9. Cool slightly, remove from pan and cool on a rack.
  10. Just before serving, fill centers will jam or dulce de leche.

https://rhondasteed.com/jam-thumbprints

Christmas Cookies: Jam Thumbprints | Just Rhonda

A little bit of indulgence, but that’s kind of Christmas eating 😉

Christmas Cookies: Jam Thumbprints | Just RhondaChristmas Cookies: Jam Thumbprints | Just Rhonda

I love grandma recipes, especially mine since she’s such a good cook!

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12 Days of Christmas Cookies: Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread

12 Days of Christmas Cookies | Just Rhonda

A years ago I first found this recipe in my well used Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies Special Issue magazine. And I’ve been making them ever since. I LOVE them. Totally one of my very favorite cookies, although I never make them any time of year except at Christmas.

Christmas Cookies: Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread | Just Rhonda

I love the sugar on the outside. I love the ginger and chocolate taste and the melty chocolate chunks? Yummo!

Christmas Cookies: Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread | Just Rhonda

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp freshly grated peeled ginger
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsulfered molasses
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp boiling water
  • 7 oz semi sweet chocolate, in 1/4 inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and ginger on media, speed until lightened, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add brown sugar, beat until combined.
  5. Add molasses, beat until combined.
  6. In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in boiling water.
  7. Beat in half of flour mixture into butter mixture.
  8. Beat in baking soda mixture, then remaining flour mixture.
  9. Mix in chocolate, turn onto plastic wrap.
  10. Pat out into a 1 inch thickness and cover with plastic wrap.
  11. Refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or overnight.
  12. Preheat oven 30 325 degrees. Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, place 2 inches apart on baking sheets.
  13. Chill 20 minutes.
  14. Roll in granulated sugar.
  15. Bake until surfaces just begin to crack, 10 to 12 minutes.
  16. Let cool 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

https://rhondasteed.com/chewy-chocolate-gingerbread

Christmas Cookies: Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread | Just Rhonda

One of my favorites for sure. Especially when warm and the chocolate chunks are all melty.

Christmas Cookies: Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread | Just Rhonda

 

Christmas Cookies: Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread | Just Rhonda

So very yummy. Thanks Martha Stewart!

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12 days of Christmas Cookies: Peanut Butter Fingers (AKA Doggie DooDoos)

12 Days of Christmas Cookies | Just Rhonda

These are probably the easiest Christmas Cookies I’ll share in these 12 days.

Christmas Cookies: Peanut Butter Fingers \ Just Rhonda

No bake, mix it all together and roll them in balls and dip them in chocolate. Super duper easy.

Christmas Cookies: Peanut Butter Fingers \ Just Rhonda

And soooooo a part of my childhood Christmas’. The real name of them is Peanut Butter Fingers. They got the name Doggie Doo Doos years ago when my Aunt was making them for her Christmas and her hubby walked in and asked what in the world she was making, cause they sure looked like Doggie Doo Doos. We’ve all called them that since then. I grew up with them called that and didn’t even know they had another name until a couple years ago.
Christmas Cookies: Peanut Butter Fingers \ Just Rhonda

Peanut Butter Fingers (AKA Doggie DooDoos)

Ingredients

  • 2 cup raisins
  • 1 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 5 1/3 cup icing sugar
  • 1 1/2 up melted butter
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • Vanilla
  • 3 cup coconut
  • 1 cup chopped peanuts

Instructions

  1. Mix everything together in a large bowl until well combined.
  2. Roll into balls.
  3. Dip in melted chocolate and let harden.

https://rhondasteed.com/peanut-butter-fingers

Christmas Cookies: Peanut Butter Fingers \ Just Rhonda

Norah sure loved holding these in her hot little hands, melting the chocolate.

Christmas Cookies: Peanut Butter Fingers \ Just Rhonda

She’s the cutest 😉

Christmas Cookies: Peanut Butter Fingers \ Just Rhonda

Super easy and tasty!

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