Winston Churchill

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Best Banana Bread

I have a weakness for good Banana Bread which I inherited from my mother.  She has made fabulous Banana Bread for as long as I can remember.  I came across a recipe on Pinterest that uses sour cream that sounded so good, I just had to give it a try.  I'm sure glad I did - it's fabulous!  Of course I had to share it.  :)
Source:  Your Homebased Mom

Sour Cream Banana Bread

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour bottom only of a loaf pan (or use 3 small loaf pans).  In large bowl, beat together sugar and oil.  Add eggs, bananas, sour cream and vanilla; blend well.  Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off.  Add flour, baking soda and salt; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.   Pour into prepared pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes (about 40 minutes for smaller loaf pan) or until toothpick inserted in center comes clean.  Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan.  Cool completely.  Wrap tightly and store in refrigerator.  Makes 1 loaf.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Story Advent

This year I decided to do something a little different to count down the days until Christmas.  I got together 24 children Christmas books (some new ones along with favorites we've collected over the years) and wrapped each one separately.  Each night we read a few verses relating to the birth of Christ and then let Winston pick a story to open and read for bed time.  He's loved this and so have I.  I thought I'd share a few of our favorites

The book pictured above "The Sweet Smell of Christmas" was a favorite of mine as a child.  All three of my boys have loved it too.  How can you not love a story that has yummy scratch and sniff pages?
What would Christmas be without a great nativity story with wonderful pictures and verse. 
This is one of the new books I bought this year.  It's about a camel named Humphrey who carried the treasures of the three kings and was able to meet and present the Christ child with his own gift - a wonderful and touching story.
This fun and silly alphabet book is Winston's favorite story this year.  It's full of darling pictures and a fun verse about a family's Christmas Eve with relatives from A to Z.

What would Christmas be without Phineas and Ferb.  This is a fun story about how these boys find the perfect Christmas Tree for their city.
What would Christmas be without this old classic - The Night Before Christmas.  We've owned this book since Zack and Bo were little and have read it every year on Christmas Eve - keeping the magic of Christmas alive.

I've so enjoyed our nightly story time.  This is a tradition we'll continue each year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Egg Souffle

If you're looking for a great recipe for Christmas morning, I have one for you - Christmas Egg Souffle.  I love this stuff!  Cheesy eggs with a touch of green chilies - Mmmm!

It's super easy to make and can be baked ahead of time and heated back up (that is if you can wait to dig in).  I even make it for dinner sometimes - like tonight.   :)
Christmas Egg Souffle
10 Eggs
2 cups cottage cheese (small curd)
1/2 tsp salt
1 4oz. can chopped green chilis
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 lb. Monterrey Jack Cheese, grated
1/2 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 pan.  Beat eggs well.  Add cottage cheese, salt, chilis, flour and baking powder and mix well.  Stir in grated cheese and melted butter then pour into prepared pan.  Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

O Christmas Tree

I love our Christmas tree.  It's a family tradition of ours to get a real tree each year and our tree this year is such a beautiful shape and color.  An added plus - it makes our house smell so nice and piney. 

Another tradition of ours is buying a special ornament each year for our boys.  We started this when Zack and Bo were little and it's been a fun thing each year to add to their collection not to mention I enjoy shopping around for each year's ornament.  I love looking at our decorated tree and reminiscing about all the ornaments we've accumulated over the years - it adds to my holiday magic.
Don't get me wrong, I do love to see others theme decorated trees and admire their beauty, but for me our smorgasbord Christmas is the most beautiful of Christmas trees.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

For Thanksgiving - Pumpkin Gingerbread

If you're looking for an amazing pumpkin bread recipe for Thanksgiving dinner, look no further - I have the perfect one to share with you.  I'll be taking a plate full of this super yummy bread to our family dinner this year.

It's loaded with spices - especially an abundance of ginger which makes taste buds very, very happy.  As an added bonus your house smells fabulous while it's baking.  Trust me, this one's a keeper - you'll thank me after taking your first bite.  :) 



  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large mixing, combine sugar, oil and eggs; beat until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice cinnamon, and clove.
  3. In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Divide batter between prepared pans.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.
Tip:  I also like to make this in the small loaf pans - you get 8 mini loaves and they only need to bake for 35-38 min.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dancing Fall Leaves

I love days like today when the wind is blowing the fallen leaves in swirls across the lawns and roads.  The mixed fall colors are beautiful to see as they dance on by in the wind and the dry crinkley sound they make enchants me.

Driving down the road with the leaves swirling and dancing around me brings both feelings of enjoyment and expectation along with a feeling I can't quite explain but am always grateful to experience. - like a fond remembrance  Fall days like this are too few and far between.

As the leaves spin and tumble on by, it feels as if the world is restless - anxious for the coming winter season.  Fall is on it's way out and winter with it's cold snow will soon be here.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Traditional Pumpkin Pie

Fall baking is the best!  One of my favorites this time of year is pumpkin.  I LOVE pumpkin - pies, cookies, cakes, fudge, pancakes, etc...  You get the idea.  Today, I was craving some pumpkin pie.  I have two really good recipes I make every year.  The first one I love to make is Pumpkin Streusel Pie which I posted last November. 

My other favorite recipe is Traditional Pumpkin Pie.  Each year it's hard to choose between these two and I usually end up with a slice of each.  I discovered this recipe in a Taste of Home magazine years ago - it's also found here.  So for all the other pumpkin lovers out there, here's the recipe.  :)

Traditional Pumpkin Pie
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
4 to 6 tablespoons cold water

6 eggs
1 can (29 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon each ground cloves, nutmeg and ginger
2 cups evaporated milk

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt; cut in shortening until crumbly. Gradually add water, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Divide pastry in half. On a floured surface, roll out each portion to fit a 9-in. pie plate. Place pastry in plates; trim pastry to 1/2 in. beyond edge of plate. Flute edges.

For filling, beat eggs in a large bowl. Add the pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, cloves, nutmeg and ginger; beat just until combined. Gradually stir in milk. Pour into pastry shells.

Bake at 450° for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°; bake 40-45 minutes longer or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool pies on wire racks for 1 hour. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 2 pies (6-8 servings each).

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Tutu

Last week was our Super Tuesday activity for the women in our ward/neighborhood.  Even though I don't have a daughter, I couldn't resist signing up for the class to make a Tutu - I should have granddaughters someday, right? 

It turned out darling and was so easy to make. I wanted to share some pictures. Also, I found this website- Just We Moms - which has a great tutorial on how to make these.  You can make one that's all the same color or alternates two, three or a rainbow of colors. 

Here's a couple of pics of my tutu - they don't do it just though.  It's so much cuter in person - the red tulle is sparkly and catches the light as you spin it.  I only wish I had a daughter to put it on and watch her dance and spin around in it.  I'll just patiently wait for a granddaughter. :)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Happy Halloween!  It's been such a good weekend - a fun family Halloween party on Saturday and pumpkin carving with our boys on Sunday.  To me, Halloween is the kickoff for the holidays.

Even though summer is my favorite season of the year (I'm a warm weather girl) I do love this time of year as well.  One of my favorite things to make with the abundant supply of ripe tomatoes is fresh homemade spaghetti sauce.

My mom gave me a basic recipe when Brad and I were first married.  Over the years I've modified the original recipe a little bit and this has become a family favorite of ours.  I love the way our home smells when I have a pot of this wonderful sauce simmering on the stove. 

1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil
1 lb mild Italian sausage
1/4 cup finely diced onions
6-8 garlic cloves, crushed and diced (to taste)
8-12 ripe tomatoes, diced or pureed in a blender to desired consistency (may also use 2 large cans of crushed tomatoes without flavorings added)
4 Tbs oregano leaves
3 Tbs Basil leaves
2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
additional 1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil

In a large sauce pan, cook diced onions until they're soft.  Add crushed garlic and Italian sausage and cook until browned.
Add diced or pureed tomatoes, spices, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 60-90 minutes stirring occasionaly - this causes a chemical change in the tomatoes and cooks off extra liquid.  Stir in remaining olive oil immediately before serving and serve over hot pasta with grated Parmesan cheese.  This Garlic Bread Recipe from a previous post goes great with this spaghetti.  Mmmm!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I Love this Quote

I saw this quote on Pinterest - which if you haven't heard of Pinterest yet it's become my new favorite pastime.  It's a site that allows you to post favorite web pages, pictures, sayings, recipes, etc - like an online bulletin board - and you can follow the pins from others too.  It's full of fun and fabulous things. 

Anyway, back to this amazing quote.  I'd love to have this hanging in my home - what a great attitude and philosophy to have.  I'd never heard of William Arthur Ward before so I googled his name and there's a bunch of information about him out there - he's on of the most quoted American authors of inspirational writing.

He's written a bunch of newspaper and magazine articles, poems and stories.  Here's a link to one site listing many other famous quotes by William Arthur Ward and here's another link to his official website.  I love his positive and motivating take on life.  I thought I'd share a few more quotes of his that I really liked:

Lose yourself in generous service and every day can be a most unusual day, a triumphant day, an abundantly rewarding day!

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. 

When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Birthday Pics

This one is a catch up post.  I spent so much time training for the half marathon I ran back in August that I didn't do much posting during the summer months.  Winston had his 5th birthday last month - I can't believe he's five already!  He's come so far and is growing so fast.
Winston wanted a birthday party so we put one together for him with a few of his friends and his cousins. We did a sports themed party - Brad and I came up with a few games and we had it at the park.

Here's Winston with a couple of his best buddies.

This game was Throw the football through the hoop.
We also had a water balloon race - they had to carry the balloon on a large spoon without dropping it.
Of course, we had a pinata - shaped like a football.  :)
The mad scramble for the goodies.
The birthday boy opening his presents.
Mmmm.  Birthday cake!  (I ate way too much of this.)
Make a wish and blow out the candles.  All in all a fun time with family and friends. Our little guy is growing up.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fall Recipes - Red Hot Cinnamon Cider

With the weather getting colder - the leaves are changing in the mountains and the local apple orchards are ripening up.  They'll be ready soon - don't you just love those first crop fresh picked apples?  They're so crisp and juicy.  Mmmm!

 One of my favorite apple recipes has only two ingredients and is so easy to make - cinnamon apple cider!  I got this recipe from a friend - she serves it every year at our cookie exchange party and I always look forward to having a few glasses of this yummy drink.  Here's the supper simple and delicious recipe.  :)
4 c. (1 qt.) apple cider or juice
¼ c. cinnamon red hot candies

In 1 quart saucepan, combine cider or juice and candies; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer for 4 minutes or until candies dissolve. Serve hot or cold. If desired, garnish with apple wedge or cinnamon stick stirrer. Yield 8 (1/2 cup) servings.

Friday, September 30, 2011

1st day of Pre-School

I'm a little late getting these pics posted but better late than never, right?  Winston has been waiting anxiously all summer long for his first day of school.  He was so excited to finally get to go.

He picked out what he wanted to wear the night before and had it all laid out - ready to put on as soon as he woke up.  When it was time to leave he was even telling me to hurry up - a first for him (I'm usually the one telling him to hurry.)  I love watching him grow up and seeing him feel so proud.  He makes my heart smile.  :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chex/Graham Mix - a Family Favorite

This is a recipe I gained/inherited from Brad's mom.  It's a favorite of their family - she made it every year for Christmas.  It's a favorite of our family too but we make it all the time - it's too good to only have at Christmas time.  Another plus - it only takes about 15 minutes to make two cookie sheets full of wonderful deliciousness.  Don't you just love an easy and super yummy recipe?  Me too!  :)
Chex/Graham Mix
Mix together in a large bowl:
1/2 box Rice Chex
1/2 box Golden Grahams
1 1/2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds

In a sauce pan, combine:
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup light Karo syrup

Stir over medium to medium high heat until mixture begins to boil.  Bring to a full boil and boil for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in 1 tsp vanilla until well mixed.  Immediately pour over the cereal mixture and stir until well coated.  Spread  mixture out on two wax paper covered cookie sheets to cool.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

10 Day Challenge - Day Ten

And last but not least day ten: Ten Secrets
  1. I'd LOVE to be a stay at home mom while Winston is still young.
  2. I wish I could work from home.
  3. I want to go back to school and finish my degree.
  4. I love my boys more than I can say and wouldn't trade them for anything, but I do wish I'd been able to have a daughter or two.
  5. I'm very shy and more often than not feel extremely awkward in social settings.  I also wish I had more really close friends but the shyness is always holding me back.
  6. I'm looking forward to having grand children someday. (no rush though!)
  7. I'd love to travel and am looking forward to the day when Brad and I can travel together - just the two of us.
  8. I'm a terrible procrastinator and always have been.
  9. My house is more often a clutterly mess than not.
  10. Sometimes I long to have a day where I could sleep in, lounge around half the day with a good book and spend the other half watching some good chick flicks all by myself.
Well, that's the end.  It's been fun to share a little about myself these past 10 days.  :)

    Friday, September 9, 2011

    10 Day Challenge - Day Nine

    Wow, on to day nine already:  Nine Loves
    1. Brad - my true love & best friend.
    2. My boys - all three of them!
    3. Being a mom - the most satisfying and enjoyable job/work I've ever done.
    4. Chocolate Fudge ice cream from Baskin Robbins.
    5. Water skiing on a calm, hot day at Lake Powell.
    6. The smell of cottonwood trees in the rain.
    7. A good book.
    8. Fall drives with Brad to see the beautiful leaves.
    9. Our Heavenly Father, my faith and beliefs.  I love the hope and peace they bring to my life.

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    10 Day Challenge - Day Eight

    A harder one today - Eight Fears:
    1. Not being able to fully enjoy Winston's childhood.
    2. I'm very afraid of heights.
    3. I'm also quite claustrophobic.
    4. Losing one of my children.
    5. Losing my health and not being able to be here for my family.
    6. Having financial problems.
    7. This one's irrational but when we go to a movie, I worry about getting lice by sitting in a chair that's been infested.  YUCK!
    8. Injury - to me, Brad or one of our boys.

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    10 Day Challenge - Day Seven

    The days are going by too quickly!  Seven Wants:
    1. I really want to be 12 pounds lighter!  Sigh!!
    2. I'd love to have more time to read - uninterupted time!
    3. A Dunford Chocolate Donut - Mmmm! (I never do get these because of #1)
    4. A week long vacation to Lake Powell starting tomorrow - wishful thinking!
    5. A pedicure and glitter toes - actually, why stop there.  A whole day at the spa getting the works done from head to toe.
    6. More time with my family.  :)
    7. To be better organized - my life has gotten too clutery lately and I could use a good spring cleaning!

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    10 Day Challenge - Day Six

    Day six already:  Six Places - in a random order:
    1. Hawaii - I've never been & have always wanted to go.
    2. Lake Powell - One of my favorite vacation places.
    3. The Redwoods and Sequoia National Park - during the summer & again in winter for the Christmas Festival.
    4. Europe - specifically Italy, Germany and Greece - gorgeous countryside and lots of history.
    5. Home - with my family around me.  :)
    6. Somewhere in the Caribbean - any island with white sandy beaches and a full service hotel will do.

    Monday, September 5, 2011

    10 Day Challenge - Day Five

    Five Foods - don't you just love good food?
    1. German Chocolate Cake with that delightful frosting.  Mmmm
    2. My mom's crescent rolls - a favorite since childhood
    3. Warm Cinnamon Rolls with lots of cream cheese frosting.  Ahhh!
    4. My Mint Chocolate Brownies - one of my all time favorites and I can never eat just one. 
    5. Chili's Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie - the hot fudge and caramel drizzled over vanilla ice cream and the cookie is pur bliss for my tastebuds.
    Wow, it's hard to stop at just five when I could go on and on and on ...

    Sunday, September 4, 2011

    10 Day Challenge - Day Four

    Four Books:

    This one is tougher - I love to read and have many favorites.  I'll just pick four- not necessarily my four top favorites.
    1. Pride and Prejudice - This is probably my all time favorite book and I read it once a year.
    2. My Dog Skip - a wonderful compilation of stories
    3. My Antonia - Another favorite I reread every few years
    4. The Help - I'm half way through this book right now and am really enjoying it.  Also, it refers to another favorite of mine - To Kill a Mockingbird.
    The satisfaction gained from a good book is truly a pleasure.

    Saturday, September 3, 2011

    10 Day You Challenge - Day Three

    Three Films:

    How to pick just three when there are so many great ones?  Hmmm...
    1. Pride and Prejudice - the BBC one with Collin Firth
    2. Sleepless in Seattle - I love the soundtrack too!
    3. Charade - I love Aubrey! Hepburn and Cary Grant

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    10 Day Challenge - Day Two

    Now on to day two:  Two Songs

    For right now, two songs I love listening to are:
    1. In my Daughter's Eyes by Martina McBride
    2. A tie between The Way Love Looks and Roll with It, both by Easton Corbin
    I guess that's cheating a little since I kind of picked three.  :)

    P.S.  I forgot about a new song by Rodney Atkins -Take A Back Road which I'm really diggin' right now.   

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    10 Day Challenge - Day One

    I saw this on another blog and thought it sounded interesting so I've decided to give it a try - here goes:

    Day One - one picture of myself.
    This picture of me and my little buddy is from a few weeks ago.  A friend of Brad's offered us tickets to a demolition derby.  I've never been to one before but have always wanted to.  It was a lot of fun - really!  We had a great time in spite of a massive thunder storm. I'll post about our adventure another day.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011

    Half Marathon

    About ten weeks ago I had a momentary lapse in judgment and signed up to run in a half marathon.  Yikes, what was I thinking!  I'd planned on running in a 10K race this year but when I saw this all women's race I thought to myself, "a half marathon isn't much farther than a 10K" and I signed up.  Silly me!  A half marathon is more than twice as long as a 10K - I really did know this but like I mentioned - a momentary lapse in judgment.

    When the reality of what I'd done sunk in, I kind of freaked out for a few minutes but then decided this would be some good motivation to get my sorry self out running regularly again.  I figured I could at least get in good enough shape to finish and started getting up at 5:00 am to run before work 4 days a week.  On Saturday mornings, I'd go for long runs to build up my distance. (I haven't blogged this whole month because I've spent my extra time trying to get ready for the race.)  It was pretty hard at first but within a few weeks I could tell a difference - the running was getting easier.

    I'm a pretty slow runner so my goal was to finish in around 2 hours and 45 minutes.  I'm happy to say not only did I finish the race, I actually accomplished this goal by finishing in 2 hours and 37 minutes.  I did it!  It was hard, and there were moments when I wasn't sure I'd be able to do it - I'm so glad I didn't listen to the self doubt and give up. 

    Brad has been a HUGE support too - encouraging me the whole time, helpimg me get out to run and even going on a few runs with me.  He came and ran the last 4.5 miles with me - I'm not sure I would have made it without his encouragement.  Crossing the finish line was such a great sense of accomplishment.  I plan to keep on running and who knows, maybe I can do another half marathon next year but finish in 2 hours - it's something to work for.  :)

    Sunday, July 31, 2011

    Spicy Ranch Dressing - Cafe Rio Style

    I love this dressing!  This tangy ranch with a little bite to it is so very yummy - my mouth waters just thinking about it.  I've tried several different recipes and ended up compiling a few of them to come up with a version I like best.  Hope you enjoy it too!
    Spicy Ranch Dressing
    1 cup buttermilk
    1/2 cup mayonnaise
    1/2 cup sour cream
    1 package ranch dressing mix - I like Hidden Valley
    8 oz. can Salsa Verde
    1 clover garlic, minced
    1 small jalapeno (seeds removed)
    1/2 cup fresh cilantro
    1 tsp kosher salt
    1 - 2 tsp lime juice
    1/4 tsp cumin
    1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

    Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Refrigerate for several hours for the flavors to blend.  It can be thinned with extra buttermilk if needed.

    Friday, July 22, 2011

    Flashback Friday

    Looking back through some old photos I found these cute pics from when Winston was not quite one year old yet on a trip to Lake Powell.  Zack was helping him drive the boat. These were taken July 23, 2007 - almost exactly 4 years ago.

    I love looking at our family photos and remembering all the fun we've had together and seeing how far Winston has come.  I can't believe he'll be 5 this year!

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Warm Bellies

    I don't do many product endorsements, but when I find a great product or something really useful I like to pass the information on. Since we spend quite a bit of time on the water, I wanted to find a wetsuit that would be easy to get Winston in and out of. and I foud one! 

    They're called Warm Belly wetsuits and these suits are made just for kids.  You just pull them on and they fasten at the shoulder with velcro straps.  Also, they're adjustable so they grow with your child which really helps.  I hate spending money to buy a quality product only to have Winston grow out of it after a few months.  This will last him for a few years.  So, if you're looking for a great wetsuit for your child, you can find them here at the Warm Belly's website.