Saturday, July 18, 2009

Family Car

This is what is responsible for almost half of our vacation budget being swollowed up this month. The transfer case on the Volvo went out. It was a very expensive part. The dealership wanted $2,000 just for the part. They told us to expect $4000-$6000 after shop time. Jason searched high and low for some other alternative. He was in Volvo forums all over the internet figuring out exactly what part he needed, and the best place to source it from. After five days of searching he finally found the part. Used with 30'000 miles on it he was able to get the part for around $600.00. He installed it himself, and the car is working fine. Thank goodness my husband can do anything. On a sadder note, our long awaited trip to Disneyland is postponed. We are going to shoot for Feburary to take the family to Disneyland. It will be the first time for all of us, but Parker. We will be going on a smaller family vacation in August. A little closer to home. I'm so thankful that we were able to get the car fixed, and for a fourth of what the dealership wanted to charge! Here's to my handy hubby! Posted by Picasa

She's not afraid of frogs. Eww...Posted by Picasa

Best Cake Ever!

For Jason's birthday this year I made this cake. It was the very first "from scratch" cake I've ever made. I've always been intimidated by baking. This cake was A-MAZING. The inspiration for it was a "Reese's Peanutbutter Cup".
Posted by PicasaIt was 3 layers, and so rich we couldn't even finish one thin slice. Umm...divine.
Here's the recipe from
"Smitten ". Enjoy.

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes
This cake is INTENSE. Serve it in the thinnest slices possible, and keep a glass of milk handy.
Makes an 8-inch triple-layer cake; serves 12 to 16 (the book says, I say a heck of a lot more)
2 cups all-purpose flour2 1/2 cups sugar3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process2 teaspoons baking soda1 teaspoon salt1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend1 cup sour cream1 1/2 cups water2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar1 teaspoon vanilla extract2 eggs
1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanut brittle (I skipped this)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.
3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. (Deb note: These cakes are very, very soft. I found them a lot easier to work with after firming them up in the freezer for 30 minutes. They’ll defrost quickly once assembled. You’ll be glad you did this, trust me.)
4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. (Deb note 1: Making a crumb coat of frosting–a thin layer that binds the dark crumbs to the cake so they don’t show up in the final outer frosting layer–is a great idea for this cake, or any with a dark cake and lighter-colored frosting. Once you “mask” your cake, let it chill for 15 to 30 minutes until firm, then use the remainder of the frosting to create a smooth final coating. Deb note 2: Once the cake is fully frosting, it helps to chill it again and let it firm up. The cooler and more set the peanut butter frosting is, the better drip effect you’ll get from the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze.)
5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving. Decorate the top with chopped peanut brittle.
Peanut Butter FrostingMakes about 5 cups
10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out)
1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter GlazeMakes about 1 1/2 cups
8 ounces seimsweet chocolate, coarsely chopped3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter2 tablespoons light corn syrup1/2 cup half-and-half
1. In the top of d double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.

Fourth of July 2009

This year for the Fourth of July we had a pretty busy day. We started off at the pancake breakfast and flag raising down at the church. Joann Hobbs did a wonderful reading. My Mom and sister Bonnie came down for two days because Nicky was baptized on the Fourth.
After the baptism in the afternoon everyone rested. We met back at the Garcia's house with the Hewlett family to have bar-b-que and watch the fireworks.
We were able to set off our own fireworks in the street, since they live on a dead end. Jason had all the kids dancing, and being goofy. They all had a great time!
Here they are doing toe touches now. Almost looks like an aerobics class.Posted by Picasa
After the fireworks, we got out the sparklers. Jason takes these pictures because they are his favorite. They have some pretty neat effects.

Phoebe & Paxton

Bekah and Ryeleigh showing off their sparkling talent!
This one is fun, because there is about 4 kids in there. You have to look hard for them.

After the sparklers we went down to the end of their street to the edge of the baseball fields to watch the city fireworks. It was the perfect place! After the show we were walking back to the house facing the hill that we live on. All of a sudden we saw a huge fire start burning. We all stopped and realized that that fire was right where our house is. Jason hopped in the car and raced up the hill towards the house while I dialed 911. Jason got up to the house, and luckily the fire was one house away in some juniper trees on the street. No property damage, except some trees and brush. The fire department got the fire out very quick. It was a little scary, it looked so huge. I even had someone who was out at the Wal-Mart parking lot watching the fireworks see the fire. She said it was huge from there, and could even tell it was near our house. The house was really smokey, but cleared out overnight. There was ash all over the cars. Pretty exciting day. We were very blessed to have everything be okay. I am thankful for the blessing to have been born in this great country. I am grateful for the privilege to raise my children, especially my daughters in this country. I appreciate my freedoms, and I am indebted to those who have secured it. God bless America.
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Ballet 2009

Some of my favorite pictures from ballet this year.
I thought that Phoebe's back looked gorgeous in this picture, she has the most beautiful posture. Posted by Picasa

Lindsey and Emmy are sister's and I thought this was so sweet.
The lighting in this room was so dark, and I hate to use a flash.
Posted by PicasaIt ended up making the Phoebe pictures look almost like paintings. They're very artsy and I love them.
This is Taylor and Bekah, I like the angles of this picture.
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Payton and Eva have been best little friends since they were in kinder garden together. Their birthdays are only two days apart.Posted by Picasa
This is Eva's "Stinker Face"! Still beautiful!
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Payton couldn't be outdone, her "Stinker face"! They're so fun!
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Beautiful Payt.
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The ballet class. Nicky is in there too. Some of these kids have been in the same class for four years.
The tap class. These costumes were not my favorite, but they still look cute. Jane and Nicky are also in this class.

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My girls love dancing with Ms Rachel. Payton has danced for four years, and Phoebe has danced for two. They can't wait to start again in the fall.