Friday, September 25, 2009

Better Than "You Know What" Cake

Jake told me about this cake that his friend brought in to work. I just had to try it, so Igot the recipe from his friend's wife. I used Butter Pecan cake mix because it's what she recommended, but I believe you could use whatever flavor you think would taste good.

1 box cake mix
12 oz. cool whip
1 can condensed milk
1 bottle caramel ice cream topping
1 heath bar

Make the cake
While still warm poke holes in the cake with a wooden spoon handle
Pour milk into the holes until the cake absorbs it
Pour caramel into the holes
Allow to cool
Top with cool whip
Top with crumbled candy bar

I couldn't find a heath bar at the commissary or BX, so mine has caramel topping instead of heath bar.

Make sure you don't put the cool whip on until right before you are ready to serve, mine sat for a few hours until after dinner, and the cool whip "deflated"

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Mathematician

Jake is taking a math course through a college on base. He has waited to take his math class for me to be here to tutor him. His class meets Monday-Thursday during his lunch break, so he comes home with TONS of homework! We spend all evening doing homework, so this is our life, 4 nights a week.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Baby Maisy & Happy Birthday Susie

I spent the last week with my sister's family in North Africa, so I have a few pictures I want to share on my blog.

First of all, the new baby I got to meet! My sister's first child, cute little Maisy!
She is wonderful! I was completely amazed at how developed she seems to be, at only 3 weeks. I just figured she would be like a bump on a log and sleep all day. Boy I was wrong. Maisy seems so developed. She's gained a pound from her birth weight, she squirms her arms and legs around alot, she can hold up her head for quite a few seconds, and when she hears her mom or dad's voice she tries to turn her head in that direction. She is a very responsive and happy baby.

Bryce, Susie, and Maisy are all very lucky to have their new little family!
Aunt Maggie and Maisy


I also happened to be there for Susie's birthday, so we of course had birthday cake!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Duck, it's a duck!

I don't like to pack, and I was putting off cleaning, so today I made a duck! I wanted to give my new niece something handmade, and I bought a bunch of fleece scraps at the craft store on base, so I decided to try a ducky! My favorite part is the little heart with her name on it. It's more of a decorating item than a toy, but I still think it's cute!I decided I want to make something handmade for my other nieces also, so when I get back from my trip I might make them bugs (like ladybugs and butterflies) or sweets (like cupcakes and ice cream cones). Any other ideas?

Barcis Lake - Take 3!

So...Barcis Lake is really pretty, and not too far away, so it made for the perfect girl's day out! So, I ended up there for the 2nd time this week. We spent some time laying out in the sun, hiked up a short trail, ate lunch at a park, took lots of pictures and grabbed some gelato on the way home. Great day! I just wish we had gotten a picture of all of us together.

The only picture I have of everyone (except me): Megan with the pink backpack, Katie (holding Kylie) in the middle, and Betsy leading the pack (she was the one who got to walk into the spider's webs!)

I like slides!We did make a pact to make a girls day out once a week (starting the week after I get back.) Our next plan is to go to the big shopping mall in Udine. Udine is about 45 minutes away and I hear it's one of the biggest malls in Europe! There is even a Disney Store! Since we have all read the Twilight series, we have considered going to Volterra, but I'm afraid that might be an overnighter. We'll see!

Onion Soup Mix Meatloaf

We had meatloaf tonight. I used the recipe from the box of onion soup mix.

1 envelope onion soup mix
2 lbs ground beef
3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
2 eggs
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup ketchup

Mix all ingredients in a big bowl with your hands.
Form into a loaf on a baking sheet.
Bake 1 hour in 350 degree F oven.
Let stand 10 minutes.

Another meal Jake liked, which is good because I'm leaving him with lots of leftovers! I'm leaving tomorrow to go visit my sister's family, and I keep asking Jake what he will eat while I'm gone. He keeps reminding me that he did live alone for two years after he got out of the dorms, so I guess he can take care of himself again.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tatortot Casserole

I got this recipe from my cousin, Staci Wood.

1 lb. hamburger
1/4 lb. velveeta
1/2 cup milk
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 oz. sour cream

Brown and drain hamburger
Microwave velveeta and milk
Add soup and sour cream
Mix with hamburger and pour into 9"x13" dish
Line up frozen tatortots on top of mixture
Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-60 minutes, until tots are crunchy

It was so yummy! Jake liked it too! The only problem I had is that I don't have any of my kitchen stuff here in Italy, and Jake only has a 9"x9" dish here, so the mixture barely fit and started to bubble over the edge before the tots were crunchy.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Jake and I rented the movie "Defiance" this weekend. Neither of us had ever heard of it, but with the very limited selection of rentals at the shoppette, it seemed to be the best choice. Jake tends to like history and war movies.

It takes place in Russia in 1941. The Nazi Germans have invaded and are capturing or killing all Jews they find. A group of 4 brothers are hiding out in the woods. Unlike most peaceful Jews, they rebel and seek revenge for the deaths of their family members. This makes them well knows and other Jews come to join in their Otriad. The take in everyone who comes to join them.

It is a true story and very touching. But, the movie has a lot of language and a lot of violence. But I do recommend it if those don't bother you!

Barcis Lake - Take 2

We went up to Barcis Lake last month, but we passed right by Barcis Lake on our way to and from the National Park, so we decided to stop for a few more pictures of the beautiful lake.

Beef Stroganoff

While cleaning out Jake's cabinets, I found a packet of Beef Stroganoff Sauce Mix, so I decided to try it out. I just used the ingredients on the back of the pack.

1 1/2 lbs. boneless beef sirloin, trimmed and cut into thin strips (I don't think my strips were thin enough)
2 Tbsp oil
1 cup water
1 cup sour cream
1 packet beef stroganoff sauce mix

Prepare noodles as directed.
Heat the oil in a skillet.
Add beef and cook until no longer pink.
Add water and sauce mix.
Bring to a boil.
Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat.
Stir in sour cream.
Mix in drained noodles.


Parco Naturale Dolomiti Friulane - Take 2

You might remember last weekend when I posted about the Dolomite Natural Park. Our hike was cut short due to rain. So this weekend Jake and I went back up. It was a beautiful day! And the mountains were gorgeous! Here are some of my favorite pictures from the day.

Jake is such a goof!He was trying to push the tree straight.

I love the sun in this one!

Blackberry Cobbler

Mmmmmm! I love blackberries! I remember picking TONS of blackberries with Grandma Holmes when I was a little girl. We would end up with buckets full (even though I ate half of them right off the bush!) I don't have access to free, fresh blackberries here, but I have been majorly craving some, so I resorted to buying them for $7.00 for about 2 cups at the Commissary. Here is the recipe I used.

2 cups berries
1/2 cup bisquick
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix bisquick, brown sugar, and oats.
Cut in butter until crumbly. (this was when I wished I had a pastry blender, but I just used knives)
Place berries in dish and top with crumbles.
Cook for 30-35 minutes.

LRS Olympics Day

On Friday, Jake's squadron had an Olympics Day. Here are some action shots from the football game.

Good catch Jake!

They lost.
I love this picture because you can barely see the mountains in the mist.

Sonic Ocean Water

I found a wonderful blog, Meemo's Kitchen, that has lots of copycat recipes that are supposed to be just like recipes of famous food or drinks from restaurants. Jake loves the drink called Ocean Water from Sonic, so I decided to try the Ocean Water recipe from that blog.

3 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp coconut extract
3-4 drops blue food coloring
2 12 oz cans of Sprite

Mix the sugar and water and zap in the microwave for 30 seconds to dissolve all the sugar.
Cool the syrup before using.
Add extract and food coloring.
Combine syrup and soda and serve over ice.

We really liked the recipe and it does actually taste like the real thing!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Homemade Mac & Cheese

I got this recipe from my friend Meagan. See her blog here.

- 16 oz pasta
- 1/4 cup butter
- 3 Tbs. flour
- dash of salt & pepper
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp White Cheese, shredded
- pack of Hormel cubed ham
- about 1/2 cup of bread crumbs

I threw in the rest of the Italian mix shredded cheese that was left over from my calzone(mozzarella, provalone, and parm) so I also added an extra 1/2 cup of milk

- cook pasta & drain
- melt butter in large skillet
- add flour, salt & pepper
- cook until smooth
- add milk and continue stirring until boiling
- still stirring, cook 1-2 more minutes until it thickens
- mix in cheeses and stir until melted
- add pasta
- pour into casserole & top with bread crumbs
-bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes, or until crumbs start to brown


So, I found a recipe on another woman's blog that looked like an easy way to make a calzone. I really tried to make it work! Sadly, mine is not nearly as pretty as the other woman's but it was sure good! Because I am a bit of a perfectionist, you will not see a photo of my calzone, but you can look at the *F* *O* *O* *D* blog to see how it is supposed to look. You will notice I made a more simplified version.

- 2 loaves frozen bread dough, thawed (I think this is where I went wrong with mine, there was absolutly no frozen bread dough at the commissary, so I had to make do with refridgerated french bread dough, which did not want to stretch, so you lucky folks in America who have Walmart and other BIG grocery stores, go for the frozen dough!)
- 1 small can spagetti sauce (I got one with Italian flavoring)
- shredded mozzarella cheese
- pepperoni
- sliced mushrooms

- flatten both loaves on a cookie sheet to form a rectangle of dough
- spread sauce down the middle, leaving at least an inch of dough on each side
- cover sauce with cheese
- cover cheese with pepperoni
- cover pepperoni with mushrooms

- cut strips along each side of the dough
- take a piece from each side and cross together (the refridgerated french bread will break at this point, and the sauce will ooze out, so hopefully there will be better luck with different dough)
- once all of the strips are coving the toppings cook at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes
- allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing

I promise even if it oozes out and doesn't look pretty, it still tastes great! Like a pizza on bread!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I can sew!

When I got to Italy, we found one sewing machine in the BX. I was surprised to see it there, so I bought it before anyone else noticed it! I thought I would be stuck at home everyday and get bored, so I wanted to have something to keep me busy. Well, I've been so busy with working out and volunteering for ACES that I've actually barely touched the sewing machine.

Multiple times during my childhood, Mom tried to teach me how to sew. I would last maybe 30 minutes and then lose all interest. I don't think my problem was that I couldn't sew, but that I would get frustrated anytime the machine was working properly. So, each time we had a lesson, I would learn the basics: how to put the bobbin in the bottom, thread the needle, pull up the bobbin thread, and sew some article of fabric in a straight line. Then the machine would jam, the bobbin thread would get lost, or I would get bored, and I would quit.

Today, with my sewing machine manual by my side, I decided to give it a go. I used the instructions in the manual to fill the bobbin, insert the bobbin (Mom, I remembered what you told me to make it look like a 6!) thread the needle, pull up the bobbin thread and I was ready to go! I did practice on some scraps, no problem!

Then I cut out some fabric to make a clothesline bag. It probably wasn't smart of me to make my first project with no pattern, but I saw the idea in a book and wanted to make it now. I got the cut out circle on the front piece sewn with a facing (I had to look that up when I couldn't figure out how to hem the cut out!) then ran into my first problem. No matter how much I ironed, the facing just wouldn't stay flat. Then I remembered the Stitchery Witchery stuff my mom mailed me a few weeks ago. I ironed a strip of that under the facing and it now lays flat. (Thanks Mom!)

Then I started stiching the perimeter of the bag. About 4 stiches in, the machine jammed! AAAHHH! I tried turned the wheel both ways and it wouldn't budge! I didn't have mom here to unjam it for me, so I tried everything I could think of to fix it myself. Finally, I started turning the wheel to change the type of stich. I don't know why, but it worked! I continued on and completed my bag.

As I was ironing the bag, I remembered that with the pattern I created in my head, I would have to be able to put a hanger through the top, but I had not left a hole to put the hanger through. Simple solution, I made a button hole at the point where I should have left a hole So, I got to practice using my button hole maker!

Haha, I'm sure you are incredibly bored by this very in depth story, but I was sure Mom would want to here all of the details! Right? Anyway, here is my finished project! It will work perfectly to hang on our clothesline and hold the clothespins for me! (Mom, I know you will probably say that you would have taken the time to line up the stripes of the back with the stripes of the front, but I didn't think of that until just now, oh well!)

As an added bonus, I thought I'd show you a picture of my sewing room. is the living room. Mom has always complained about her sewing rooms being to small, cramped, cluttered, etc. Well Mom, I would love to have your sewing room right now! Jake and I look everywhere but can't find a cheap table to serve as my sewing table, so I'm using the coffee table for now. I can't wait to get to Montana, to have an actually sewing table, and hopefully a full sewing/craft room!