Monday, November 29, 2010

I love a good break

After a very, very hectic and stressful week and a half of assignments and tests, Thanksgiving break was very appreciated.  It's nice to be done most of the big projects.  Now I basically just need to study for finals!
Because of the theoretical blizzard, I didn't have to work Wednesday, so Sam and I just hung out for the day.  Then we went and visited my Aunt Kelly and Uncle Kevin who were down for vacation and went to Mom and Dad White's house.
 Can I just say that after this weekend, instead of 'ASDF' on the keyboard, my fingers automatically go to 'QWER'.  If you don't know what that means, I'm not telling you. I'm ashamed.

Thanksgiving Day I made a bunch of pies while Momma White and Kiersten made dinner.  I'm always afraid of making things like that for a big event.  Who knows how they'll turn out! How embarrassing if they're awful. I made the mistake of doubling the crust recipe and then trying to mix it all at once. Makes for a tougher crust with all that mixing. Oh well, live and learn. Dinner was great though! I'm so happy to be a part of that wonderful family! It was the first time in years that everyone was together for Thanksgiving :) We also decorated for Christmas (though I heard a lot of complaining, mostly from the boys' end ;))

I hadn't ever been a fan of Boxing Day shopping or the idea of Black Friday. I'd rather not be trampled, thanks.  But last year I went out on Boxing Day with Jennifer and it wasn't as bad as I had expected.  This year was the first time I was in the States for Black Friday.  Some of us went out to Cabelas and it was kind of a gong show, and we were going to go to a movie but it was sold out all afternoon.  So, pretty crowded on the retail front. But then Momma White and I decided to go shopping. Given that my runners have a 3 inch long hole in the side/toe and my feet get soaked and freezing when I walk to school, I figured I could brave the crowds to find some shoes.  We sure lucked out! Going later in the day made a difference, I think, and the fact that we weren't trying to buy electronics.  We got some sweet deals and some good stuff! All of the family also went to Tangled- which was pretty good! I recommend it.

Friday we just hung out some more, Saturday Sam and I saw Harry Potter (we decided that it was Harry Potter and the Endless Camping Trip), and Sunday was a family friend's mission farewell. I was so impressed by him- he's going to do so great!

Anyway, it's back to school today.  Only a couple of weeks of classes, a week of finals, and it's home-free for another good break!

Oh, and I started on the ornaments for our tree! I'll post pictures later. Here's a sneak peak:

Monday, November 22, 2010

We sent it!

Well, we finally sent off my first round of immigration papers!  It was a LOT of time, work, and money. (Thank you Mom and Dad White for helping us get them all done!).  But it's pretty worth it I guess-- you know, staying in the same country as my husband and stuff.  No but seriously- I realllly hope we did everything right and that things get worked out- I can't even go back to Canada yet!  Because I'm in the process of becoming a citizen, I have to apply for travel allowances every time I want to leave, which takes at least 2 months to go through (if you're lucky).  No impulsive trips home for us!  The possibility of getting caught and charged a huge fine/getting deported isn't something we're going to risk.  I did just apply to be able to come home for a week in April, though- so hopefully I'll see you guys then!  Hopefully we're going to throw another wedding party for you Canadians who couldn't come down to Utah! And my American family can come see how awesome it is in Canada (hopefully we don't have a random April blizzard.  Bad first impression, eh?). But in my opinion, we can pull off both!  Sledding in April is cool- and if a chinook comes along you can just go bridge jumping later that day anyway.
waterton: beautiful ALL seasons!
jennifer or sean took this one

Thursday, November 18, 2010

double layer pumpkin cheesecake

Let it be known that I don't (normally) make like 4 cakes/pies a week.  Sometimes I just have old pictures of my stuff to post along with recipes, or I give stuff away at staff meetings/to visiting teachees, take to family stuff, etc.  I wouldn't be able to handle eating as much as it probably seems that I do. I don't run enough for that- and even if I did try run enough for that, I would be so unhealthy from eating all that baking that I wouldn't be able to run enough. Hence, can't do it. Anywho- I really did make this last night. I had pumpkin left over from making something for a staff meeting and Sam came home from the store with sale cream cheese- so what was I supposed to do?

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pinch ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 325F.

 Combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Blend in eggs one at a time.  
Remove 1 cup of batter and spread it in the bottom of crust.

Add pumpkin and spices to remaining batter and stir gently until well blended. Carefully spread over first layer of batter in crust.
 Bake for 35-40 minutes in preheated oven in a water bath.  Allow to cool then refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. 

Whip up some whipped cream, lick the beaters, then eat some cheesecake!
sorry, my fork beat my camera to the slice

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Italian Creme Layer Cake

I have been making this cake for a while, and it always gets rave reviews. When Sam and I were just dating, right before I went home to Canada for the summer, he had a really nasty accounting final. I got up crazy early that morning to make this cake in a cupcake version then booked it to his work to leave him a cupcake and a good luck note so that he would have it when he got in. And there you have it: how I won him over ;)

If you like coconut, this cake is to die for. Even if you don't like coconut, this cake might just make you a fan!

The official recipe calls for a lot of pecans- but I like to half that amount and add a whackload (yes, that is a technical cooking measurement) of coconut. And for the frosting I omit pecans and just put toasted coconut on the outside with a few whole pecans. But whatever floats your boat. I'll post the official recipe and you can do with it as you please. Annnnd two round cake pans is a lot easier than three, if you aren't into spending the extra time preventing collapse.  It's also awesome with almonds instead of pecans.

Italian Creme Layer Cake
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 (3.5 ounce) package flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease three 9 inch, round cake pans. Combine soda and buttermilk, and let stand a few minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, cream sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup oil and shortening. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix buttermilk mixture alternately with flour into creamed mixture. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla.
  3. In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then quickly fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain. Gently stir in 1 cup pecans and coconut.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  •  1/2 cup margarine, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
Beat together cream cheese,  butter or margarine, vanilla, and confectioners' sugar. Stir in chopped pecans. Frost and fill cooled cake with cream cheese frosting.

Try it. For reals.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

when I grow up

            As some of you heard, I have changed my major!  I am so, so excited about it!
            When I first got to BYU, my major was dietetics.  I think I would have really enjoyed it- but I was in it for the wrong reasons.  As I thought about it more, I decided to change to Home and Family Living with a Community Involvement emphasis.  I got a lot of guff about that.  “Ohhh, getting your MRS degree I see” (which doesn’t even make sense anyway, because there are usually only like 2 boys in those classes and one of them is married. If you’re at BYU to get married go be an engineer. Lots of boys.).  Well, I was actually doing it because I wanted to work with a non-profit organization or for a welfare program. (Yes, you can get a real job and make a salary doing that. ).
            Anyway, I was enjoying my major, but I started exploring some other options. I started looking into one in particular after I heard about it from my co-worker Rochelle.  After doing some seriously thinking, research, and talking to academic counselors, I decided to make the switch. My new major is:

Family and Consumer Science Education!

            With my old major, I was leaning towards doing something like working for a welfare program helping young and single mothers learn home living skills and find a job and things like that.  Well, this is even more perfect to do that. There are a lot of other options, too.  I’ll be certified to teach high school (I’ll see if I actually want to do that after I take practicum, hah), and there are a lot of other organizations and programs I can get involved with. It’s actually quite versatile, and I would be learning really useful skills and information.
            In Sociology the other day, my professor was talking about the BYU motto of ‘Enter to learn, go forth to serve’, and showed us a talk about 'finding your true calling'. The point he made was: choose to do something that you feel is meaningful- not only for salary and prestige but for the impact you can have. You can find meaning in any job- but make sure you are doing what you do for the right reasons.  That being said, I’m confident in my decision about my major. I think that I am doing it for the right reasons. 
However, I think I’ll be getting even more guff over this than I did for my previous major.  Obviously it's very 'homemakey'. I’ll be honest- I want to stay home with my kids. But I’m not going to school ‘just in case’-  I think education is very important and that people should strive to learn throughout their lives.  Mothers do more teaching than anyone. 
Being a neuroscientist isn’t more valuable than being a mother.  One of the world’s most renowned surgeons, Elder Russell M. Nelson, said, “the highest and noblest work in this life is that of a mother.” There is no better way to impact society than by being a mother. President Gordon B. Hinckley said it this way: “You [mothers] are the real builders of the nation wherever you live, for you have created homes of strength and peace and security. These become the very sinew of any nation.”  President Benson also gave a very blunt and very good talk directed toward mothers. Click here if you want to read it.
my sister Jennifer & niece Maggie (photo by rhonda steed)
Anyway, choose what you do for the right reasons, and try not to look down on others because of what they choose.  Just take stock of what you personally are doing and why you are doing it.  I hope this post didn’t come across as super negative or critical.  I just wish that people could see the true importance of motherhood- and womanhood- and see the value of it rather than saying that it’s being ‘just a mom’.  To all you moms out there, whether you work outside of the home or not- I think you’re fantastic and doing something very, very important.
            No but seriously- I’m totally stoked about my new major.  The only downsides are that I’m going to have 35 hours of class a week, work as much as 20 hours a week, and then do homework sometime in there, have an extra semester of class and have to go spring/summer, and probably thus not be able to do a marathon as soon as planned. So yeah, it’s going to be a rough time, but it’ll be worth it. I’m excited! Wish me luck!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Just the usual.

Sometime you just get an urge to decorate cupcakes.

Which is cool and all-- I don't think I need to fight that urge.  Fighting the urge to eat all of them is the problem.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tribute to true heroes

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada and Veteran's Day in the US.  I'm very proud of my heritage as a Canadian, and I am also very grateful for the great country that America is and that I will be able to become a citizen here as well.  One of the greatest things about these countries is the freedom that we have.  Without the men and women who have served and are serving in the military, we wouldn't have this freedom.  Another great thing about these people is that they have also sacrificed for the sake of not only their own countries and families but for those in other lands.  I have a great appreciation and respect for our veterans and current soldiers who give so much of themselves for the sake of others. I also have a great respect for the families- especially wives- of the men that are currently serving.  That would be so hard for me.  It's not only the soldiers who are giving up a lot.

My Great Uncle Gibb is one man that gave everything to serve his country.  One of my relatives wrote this dedication to him and others who fought during World War II:

"My name is Thomas E Evanson, named after my grandfather Thomas T. Mendenhall. I am the son of John and Rae Mendenhall Evanson, Rae being an older sister to Gibb... I was born 5 years after Uncle Gibb was shot down at 01:55 hrs on the 21st of February 1945 over Oberhausen, Germany. For over 50 years I have lived in prosperity and peace. This was largely due to the sacrifice he, along with thousands of others, made. Gibb never had the chance to see the results of his sacrifice, nor did he have the opportunity to marry and raise a family in this life. Those of us who have lived after and continue to live in peace need to remember “Wells Gibb Mendenhall”."

My sister posted some very nice Remembrance Day videos on her blog. You can find them here if you would like to watch them.

Probably the most famous war poem in Canada is In Flanders Fields. It was written by Canadian Lieutenant John McCrae in 1915 the day after he witnessed the death of his friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer.

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I have a love-hate relationship with running.  You can adjust it to fit into a busy schedule.  You can do it anywhere.  You can quantify it, which I like because I like to see a solid measure of progress/goal setting.  It makes me feel accomplished and healthier.  I used to run a lot as conditioning for rugby. You can go with friends or family and enjoy your surroundings.  Plus, if you burn more calories you can eat more!  There are lot's of great reasons to run.  I love it- but also kind of hate it.  If I don't go when I should/planned on it, I feel guilty.  If I'm feeling weak or tired and don't run very well it's disheartening. It also hurts and is just a pain in the butt sometimes. Love-hate.
This last September I was captain of the Cool Runnings team for the Red Rock Relay.  We started out with a full team of people mostly from BYU, then after about a 13 person turnover of quitting we came up with our 12. I am so, so thankful for my family coming through and helping fill up the spots. I had about 7 people quit the team during the two weeks before I got married- including the people that said they would drive. Talk about stressful.  I think I was more stressed out about the race than the wedding. I am very appreciative of all the help that people were (for both the race and the wedding!).
Anyway, we had a great team. The ages ranged from 10 to 'over-the-hill'.  Both the oldest person and the youngest person were among our best runners- they were tough! Everyone did great though! The race was so much fun! We started at Brian Head Resort and ended 186 miles later in Zion National Park.  What great scenery! One of my runs was through Snow Canyon right while the sun was coming up. Gorgeous! It was so great to spend the weekend with friends and family in such a fun atmosphere!

So, running... Accomplishment... I've done half marathons before, but that was about a year ago and I am nowhere near the fitness that I was.  I haven't been running consistently enough to keep it up.  But I'm going to change that.  I hereby declare that I'm going to do a marathon next spring. I have the training book from my father-in -law, the most legit marathoner I know.  He says that if I stick to it, I'll be able to do it. Yep, I'm going to torture myself for 5 months all so that I can torture myself all 26.2 miles of that one morning.    But it'll feel great (and painful).  That just reaffirms what a love-hate relationship I have with running.  I can't wait, but I'm dreading it.  I'm going to get registered and paid for as soon as I can so that there's no backing down. Wish me luck!
basically the conversation i have with sam when i ask if he'll come

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My first cake pops!

Happy Halloween!

Don't laugh, ok?  This was my very first attempt at cake pops! As far as a first try goes, I think they turned out ok- but overall, they're kind of gimpy. But I definitely want to try some other things in the future.

If you don't know what a cake pop is, it's kind of like a chocolate dipped truffle. But not really.  They're just tastey and cute, alright? Here's how to make your own!

Bake a 9x13 cake, using either your own recipe or a box mix.  Personally, I just used a box mix, because it really doesn't matter and nobody is going to judge you for using a mix. It's just way easier. Do it. Let the cake cool completely.  Then, put it in a bowl and mix the cake with a bit less than a can of frosting (or the homemade-equivalent).  I tried a chocolate cake doing half of it was cream cheese frosting and half of it with chocolate fudge frosting.  The cream cheese was sweeter, and the chocolate one was richer. So it depends on your taste. I'd like to try it again with red velvet and a cream cheese frosting that isn't quite so sweet. Anyway, mix it together with the back of a wooden spoon. It should end up being easy to mold- not crumbly and not gooey.

Next, mold the cake into whatever shape you want.

Melt your chocolate in either the microwave or a double boiler.  Don't overheat it, and DON'T let any water get into it or it will separate and not work!

Put a little bit of chocolate on the end of a lollopop stick (I got mine at Michaels) and then stick it in the cake ball a little more than halfway.  Then put them in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up.

If you're going to colour your chocolate, make sure you use gel colouring. It will keep the chocolate from getting thin, and you'll be able to get the desired colour way easier.  They're also great for frostings, and the only way to do fondant! I highly recommend them.

 Dip your cake balls, let them harden, and decorate as you please! You might have to play around a bit to get it the best consistency.  If it's too hot it will melt the cake ball and it will just fall off the stick, and if it's too cold it won't cover very well and/or make the ball fall off.  I also recommend getting a sheet of styrofoam to stick your dipped cake balls in so that they don't pool!

Pay no attention to the candy corn ones. Those didn't go so well, haha.

Anyway, that's all there is to it!  If you want some great ideas for your own, check out! 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hobo Halloweening

my gimpy pineapple man. they're tricky, ok!?
So Sam and I had costumes in mind, but then we didn't get them finished in time and I defaulted to my usual 80's costume, and Sam was the Fonz.  I'm very sad that I didn't get a picture of my hair, because holy smokes, it was huge. Seriously. If there's one thing my super long/thick hair is good at, it's holding a backcomb.
can you find me?
That night, Sam and I went to this haunted house just south of campus that is SUPER LEGIT! You don't even know. Annnd it's $1. I was so stinking scared/screaming. I think Sam mostly liked watching me freak out.  Anyway, Utah people, GO to this haunted house next year! It's awesome! Way cooler/scarier than those $25 automated ones. For reals.

The next day, my hair was a total gong show. Sooo we went to the White Halloween Party as hobos.  Yep, I based my costume on the fact that I didn't want to shower or do my hair. Don't let the picture deceive you. It was gross.

There was also a nice bag lady named Tami there. She seemed a little paranoid that we would take her stuff.

It was a very fun Halloween!

PS: I also made Halloween Cake Pops!  More on that in another post :)
PPS: We found a scary movie on TV... It was awful. As in, I'm going to have nightmares awful. And I LOVE scary movies. Never watch Halloween series, even the old ones.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

YouTube Gems

There are some seriously wonderful videos on YouTube.  I thought I would share a few of my favourites.  You might not think they're funny at all, so sorry if that's the case (sometimes people post something they think is hilarious but I just think it's stupid, so I'm sure that'll happen.). And since I have shared by best ones, post a link to your favourite in the comments!

Honourable mentions:
Newsies dance to Lady Gaga
Goofy Movie: After Today IRL
 Llamas with Hats trilogy

Number 3: Beyonce Clown.  Simple and classic. Not sure why there was a clown mask involved in the first place.

Number 2: Antoine Dodson. Pretty much everyone and their emu has seen this already, but it's still wonderful.

(also see Antoine Dodson remix)

Number 1: Total Eclipse of the Heart: Literal Video Version.  Basically the best thing ever, imho.  One time I was watching Glee with Katie Kyle and they started singing Total Eclipse of the Heart (non-literal version obv) and I almost cried laughing. "Emo kid is throwing slo-mo dove in my face. I guess that means that he just flipped me the bird". 
(You have to go to the actual site to watch it. DO IT! IT'S WORTH IT!)