Friday, November 22, 2013

Glazed Cinnamon Scones it is Friday already.

My friend, (Girl Scout) Cookie Mom, asked me to email this recipe to her OVER two weeks ago, and I thought to myself, self, I bet a lot of your friends and readers would like this recipe.  You should blog it.  And then send the link to (GS)CM.

Yeah, well, the drier went on strike, the paint color was wrong, and this is the busiest week ever.  And did I mention the people will begin to arrive on Monday?  And the people....They're planning to stay.

Please forgive my silence, friends.
Here's something I bet you didn't know.  Scones taste good.  Actually, scones taste better than good.  Scones taste incredible.  Seven out of 7 taste-testers agree.  And fight over who gets the last one. 

Here's another something I bet you didn't know.  Scones are easy to make.  I know!  Who would have thought?  Scones sound so fancy that they must be difficult, or at least time consuming, to make.  And guess what?  These ones taste like cinnamon rolls.  Without the hours and hours of prep.  It's just about 25 minutes from start to flaky, melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon goodness. 

You're welcome.

I adapted the recipe from here, and I'm gonna go ahead and use her picture because the last time I made these, they were gone before I remembered I was gonna blog about them.  Also?  Her pictures are prettier than mine.

 Yeah.  That's all that was left by the time I got the camera out.

Glazed Cinnamon Scones

See?  Much nicer.  And might I just add that I am happy to see that I am not the only blogger in the world whose cookie sheets are less than pristine. 
I did make some changes to the recipe, though, so you can stick around here for that...
Glazed Cinnamon Scones
2 c. flour
2 T granulated sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 c (1 stick) butter
1 egg, separated
3 T honey
1/3 c. buttermilk (or 1/3 c milk, mixed with 1/2 t lemon juice*)
1 T light brown sugar
1 T granulated sugar
1/2-1 t ground cinnamon
1 c. powdered sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1 T milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Cut in butter** until crumbly.
Separate egg.  Set egg white aside.
In a separate bowl, mix egg yolk, honey, and buttermilk (I just mix these in the glass measuring cup I measure the milk into--no need to get another bowl dirty).  Add to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.  The dough will be a bit crumbly.
Gently form dough into a ball and dump onto a greased cookie sheet.  Roll or pat out to half an inch thickness and ~8" diameter (or shape these in a 8" round cake pan, then dump onto the cookie sheet).  Cut into eight equally sized pieces, and pull each piece out a little so it's not touching the pieces next to it.
Whisk egg white until frothy and brush over the tops of the scones.  Mix topping ingredients together and sprinkle over egg-white brushed scones.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix together glaze ingredients, adding a bit more milk if necessary.  Drizzle over the scones after they're baked.  Eat warm.
You may have noticed that this recipe is basically biscuits with cinnamon/sugar topping and glaze on them.  Yup.  Now you know the secret.  That's what scones are.  So much less intimidating now that you know that, right?
* If you're using the milk/lemon juice mixture in place of buttermilk, mix the milk and lemon juice together before you do anything else--it needs a little bit of time to "activate" before adding to the recipe.
** I used cold butter in this recipe, since I the kids didn't want to wait for it to soften on the counter.  The cold butter really did a number on my pastry blender (next time I'll use table knives instead), but I think the butter being cold made the scones fluffier and oh-so-tender.  So it's up to you whether you want to let it soften or use it cold.  And yes, use real butter for this recipe.  Totally worth it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

I think my family's very favorite thing to eat for breakfast is cinnamon rolls.  Which is kind of a bummer, because cinnamon rolls, done right, take a long time to make.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, my boys actually prefer the cardboard-esque cinnamon-rolls-in-a-tube.  I kind of feel like a failure because of my kids' obvious lack of discernment when it comes to breakfast sweets.

I tell you this so you will know why I'm always on the lookout for things that taste like cinnamon rolls, but don't take as long to make as cinnamon rolls.

I don't even remember how I came across this recipe, but I knew immediately that I was going to have to try it.

Sour Cream Cinnamon Roll Pancakes with Maple Coffee Glaze
And so I did.  And we loved them.
You know how, with some recipes, you're kind of afraid to try them because they look complicated?  Yeah, that.  Don't let these intimidate you, my friends.  They are super easy, and so very worth it.
And just in case you're considering just making your favorite pancake batter recipe and swirling the cinnamon in, don't.  These sour cream pancakes are fluffy and delicious--the perfect compliment to the cinnamon filling.
To make these, you will need:
Cinnamon Sugar Filling
  • 4 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1/4 cup of firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 4 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
For instructions, visit Melissa over at No.2 Pencil.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Raising Boys by Design: a review

I recently read Raising Boys by Design: what the Bible and Brain Science Reveal About What Your Son Needs to Thrive by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD and Michael Gurian, which was provided to me through Waterbrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books program for this review.

In Raising Boys by Design, authors Gregory Jantz and Michael Gurian explain what the Bible and brain science show boys need in order to thrive, offering a practical blueprint to help parents build a HERO--one who values honor Enterprise, Responsibility, and Originality.  This unique book combines brain research with timeless truths from the Bible to reveal the deepest needs shared by each boy while also offering ideas for honoring and developing the unique talents, personality and God-given design of your son, in particular.

I liked this book.  I found it so interesting that the latest scientific brain research into what developing boy brains need agrees with what the Bible has to say about raising boys to be men of faith.  The book touches on building character and self-discipline, protecting and supporting boys emotionally, developing healthy sexuality in boys, helping our sons do their best in school, the impact of technology, and rites of passage.  The authors emphasize that both moms and dads, with their unique perspectives, are important contributors to their sons' development.  Each chapter has a section at the end called "Next Steps," which guides readers in how to respond to what they just read.

Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah Press and Blogging for Books for providing this book to me free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Did you like this review?  Please take a moment to rank it below.  As a thank you, you will be entered into a drawing to win a free copy of this book.

Jesus on Every Page by David Murray: A Review

I recently read Jesus on Every Page: 10 Simple Ways to Seek and Find Christ in the Old Testament by David Murray, which was sent to me by BookSneeze for this review.

In Jesus on Every Page, author David Murray explores 10 different ways to find Jesus in the Old Testament.  I think we've all experienced the apparent dichotomy of the Bible--the God of the Old Testament and the God of the new Testament seem to be so different, it's sometimes hard to believe that it's the same God.  Murray's premise is that the old and new testaments are not all that different, that in fact, the whole of the Old Testament is pointing toward Jesus the Christ, and that Jesus has been present from the very beginning of history and is indeed present throughout the entire Bible.

Murray begins by telling readers of his own journey to discovering Jesus in the Old Testament, before moving on to show what the Old Testament is all about according to Peter, Paul, John, and Jesus himself.  In part 2 of the book, Murray exposes 10 different specific examples of Old Testament scriptures and stories revealing Jesus.

I liked this book.  It really made me examine my attitudes about the Old Testament and the Bible in general.  I also found myself looking for Jesus, not just in the Old Testament, but in my daily life as well.  The book is well written and interesting, and includes a study guide in the back of the book, for individual use, or for use by small groups.  There is also a comprehensive subject index and scripture index, which makes this book useful as a reference work.

Thank you to BookSneeze for providing me a copy of this book, free of charge, in exchange for my honest review.

Shopping--Secret Agent Style

I can't remember when I first heard of Mystery Shopping, but it was a long time ago.  I thought it sounded like fun, but I also thought it sounded a little fishy.  I mean, companies actually pay people to anonymously go in and shop in their stores and give them feedback?  OK, now that I put it out there in print, it makes a lot of sense.  How else will they know what their employees are doing?

This summer, I signed up with a mystery shopping company, and in September, with a little bit of trepidation (how was I going to remember everything I was supposed to remember and comment on?  What if they figured out I was there under false pretenses?  More importantly, what if I couldn't find a parking spot?!), I set off for my first assignment.

It was so much fun!  And I was hooked.  Since then, I've signed up for a couple more companies, and done mystery shops at thrift stores, drug stores, a daycare center, shipping services, and restaurants.  I'm definitely not going to get rich mystery shopping, but it is a fun way to earn a little extra money.

Sound like something you might be interested in?  Here's what you need to know:

1. Go with a reputable company.  How do you know it's legit?  Make sure it's listed with the Mystery Shopping Providers Association.  Another clue: you will never have to pay a fee to sign up with a legitimate mystery shopping company.

2. Yes, you do need to provide your Social Security number.  Mystery Shopping is a job.  You are an independent contractor, and as such, you do need to report your mystery shopping income and pay taxes on it.  Some companies will allow you to wait to provide your SSN, others require it before you can do any work for them.

3. Mystery shoppers need to have an eye for detail, a good memory, and good written communication skills.  Yes, it's a lot of fun mystery shopping, but clients take these reports very seriously, and, as a mystery shopper, so should you--this isn't something you should just do on a whim.  There are lots of details that need to be assessed and recorded, and your reports need to be well written and professional.  I might spend 15-20 minutes in a store doing the shop, and another 30-45 minutes writing my report.

4. Yes, mystery shopping makes a difference.  As I said, clients take mystery shopping reports very seriously.  I did a series of internet inquiry mystery shops, and discovered a flaw in the client's system.  As a result, the client is fixing the flaw to make their customer experience better.

Click here for more general information about mystery shopping.

Still interested?  I do most of my shopping for BestMark and Bare International.  In fact, so far, I've done all of my shopping for BestMark and Bare International.  Check it out.

P.S. If you sign up for BestMark, please enter my shopper ID (WI9625) when the application asks who referred you--I might get a little one time referral fee, depending on the types of shops you choose to do.  They are especially looking for Chevy or Buick/GMC owners with between 4,000 and 100,000 miles.

Friday, November 8, 2013


You may have noticed from the above picture that our bedroom is in a bit of disarray, with furniture pulled away from the walls like so many islands in a carpeted sea. 

This is one of the things that I wanted to tell you, but haven't gotten around to until now.  See, we've lived in this house for almost 8 years now.  And up until a few weeks ago, we had a huge mirrored headboard in our bedroom.  It drove me nuts because 1. we couldn't have it up against the wall because of the location of the heating vents and 2. it partially obscured both of the windows on that wall.

So now you know why I've been so ca-raazy the past 7 years.

OK, maybe we can't blame that on the headboard.

Anyway, it really bothered me, and now that I have all this time on my hands when the kids are in school, (hey look, I managed to say that without giggling uncontrollably or being struck by lightening) I decided to do something about it.

We sold the headboard, and I'm making a new one.  But first, we decided to paint.

So our bedroom is in disarray.  Paint goes on the walls starting today.  Yay.

But here's the other thing.  Our drier decided to go on strike.

Ask me how I know.

That's right.  I found out that our drier had demands after I stuck a full load of clean, but wet, laundry in it.  Bummers.

However, there is an upside to this situation.  I've started a new decorating trend.  I really think it's going to catch on.  This is going to be the hot, must have accessory for winter.  I give you...

The underwear valance.

You're welcome.

Help for Hills

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV)

I love these verses from Psalm 121.  They've been some of my favorites ever since I discovered them on a mission trip years ago.  Some translations say "mountains" instead of "hills", and I have always loved mountains.  Seeing mountains reminds me of God's power and my insignificance.  Mountains have always meant peace and comfort and that God is bigger--so much bigger--than any trials that could come my way.

I saw these verses as a reminder that God's there to help.  In kind of a vague, here's-a-resource-for-you kind of way.  And if I ever needed that reminder, I could look at some mountains.  Conveniently, I have a picture of mountains in my living room.
Mountain Lake 2560×1707 Wallpaper
But today?  Today I read with new eyes.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.

I have a couple of friends who are going through difficult seasons in their lives.  No, not just difficult.  I don't even have the words to describe their struggles.  These women are facing hills.  Steep hills.  Mountains.  Obstacles so vast that it is impossible to see over or around or through them.  They are staring up at these hills and wondering how they will ever climb up and over and through to the other side.  They are wondering if they will survive.

My friends are facing impossible situations.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.  Where does my help come from?

You know how, when a trial first comes upon you, you put your head down and start powering through?  Oh, you might sit around for a while moaning about it, but you're fresh.  You can do this.  You can do anything for a short time.  And you get right to it.  Maybe even cheerfully, because the situation gives you a sense of purpose--something on which to focus.

But then it starts to get old.  You get worn out, weary.  The end of this struggle, which you thought was in sight, turns out to be just a mirage.  The freshness, the faith with which you entered this season, has been replaced by fatigue and doubt, as trouble drags on and on.  My friends need help.  Real help.  Now.

Where does my help come from?

And that's just it. 

My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

God.  God is just waiting to carry us through.  When we're at the very end of ourselves, when we cannot take even one more step, God will pick us up and somehow, some holy and mysterious way, give us strength for the next day, or the next hour, or sometimes, even just the very next minute.

Our help comes from the LORD, the Maker of hills and mountains, of ocean and sky.  The Maker  If anyone knows how to get us over and around and through the obstacles in our paths, it's the Maker of heaven and earth.

Don't you just love it when you suddenly understand an old favorite Bible verse in a new way?

I look ahead of me and I see impossible obstacles in my path. 
How will I ever get through to the other side? 
Will I get through to the other side? 
 I can't do this on my own. 
Who will help me?  Who can help me? 
The LORD God, who made everything, will help me. 
God knows just how to conquer this obstacle. 
God will provide stable footholds for me and will not let me fall. 
 God will watch over me diligently as I am walking this path,
not looking away, not getting distracted, not even resting,
as the LORD protects me and guides me on this journey. 
And this isn't just a short term thing--nope--God will see me through this hardship,
 and over each and every obstacle that comes my way,
for my whole life.
Psalm 121 (my paraphrase)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Secret to Crispy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I'm gonna let you in on a little secret that will change your life.

OK, maybe not your life, but this secret will definitely change the way you roast pumpkin seeds.

Oh, you don't roast pumpkin seeds, you say?  Well, you're going to want to start, because these are so yummy.

And yes, I know.  It's kind of hard to find pumpkins right now, today, on the 7th of November, but all of you who bought pumpkins intending to carve them for Hallowe'en but never got around to it?  You're going to be glad you're a pumpkin procrastinator today.

I've roasted pumpkin seeds.  They've been pretty good, but I've never really liked the texture--a little too chewy.  These pumpkin seeds are just over the top crunchy perfection.

Here's what you've gotta do.  Boil the pumpkin seeds before you roast them!

I know!  Crazy, right? 

I came across this tip online and I was super skeptical.  I mean, really!  How in the world is getting the seeds wet going to help them be crispy?

But I tried it, and it worked.  Apparently, boiling the seeds makes them easier to digest as well.

Here it is, step by step:
  1. Separate the seeds from the pulp and wash them.  Tedious, but worthwhile.
  2. Boil the seeds.  Place the seeds in a pot of salted water--I used about 1 tsp of salt in about a quart of water.  Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.  Then drain and pat dry.  They don't have to be bone dry, so don't stress over this step--just pat 'em dry and move on.
  3. Place the seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil (I bet coconut oil would be terrific too).  Massage the oil into the seeds so that they're all covered--I used about 1 tsp of olive oil for about 1.5 c. of seeds--and spread into a single layer.  Sprinkle with whatever seasonings you like--I just used a generous sprinkle of salt. 
  4. Bake in a 325* oven for about 20 minutes, stirring after about 10 minutes and checking carefully from about 15 minutes on.  Careful not to overcook!  The inner seed cooks faster than the outer shell, so they might be done before they look done.
That's it!  Try it, my friends.  You will be treated to the yummiest pumpkin seeds ever.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

So many things to tell you... little time.

Crazy, how time trickles away, isn't it?  November already.  Yowza.

I have so many things I want to share with you, but somehow other responsibilities keep filling my days and smooshing blogging over into a neglected corner of my brain.  You know, where even the spiders are afraid to go because of what might be lurking over there.  At this point, so much has happened since the last time we spent time together that I don't think I'll ever catch up.

But!  A journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step.  Or a series of 100 blog posts begins with just one word, so...

I'll start with this:

Bubby was out before the school bus this morning, shoveling our first measurable snowfall of the season.  And yes, that is our old faithful shovel, still with us two years later, at the beginning of a new snowy season.
When we came out here to look for a house, we left our then-kindergartner, AKD, and his younger brother home with a family friend.  We asked him what we should look for in a house, and AKD's one requirement was a sledding hill.  We moved in to our present home in February, and that first winter AKD, MC, and I sledded on our property every day after school.
Today, our current kindergartner wanted to sled in the freshly fallen snow.  Knowing the snow would most likely be melted by the time he returned from school, I got the boy a sled (at great personal peril) and he joyfully abandoned the shoveling to slide down the hill in front of our house several times before the bus arrived to whisk him off to school.
What joy, what peace there is in this white blanket covering the earth.  It makes everything new.
Bask in the newness today, my friends. 
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