Saturday, December 26, 2009


Every year in D.C., there is a big Capitol Christmas tree lighting event. The tree is decorated with ornaments from kids around one state (next year it's Wyoming!).

It gets less traffic than the White House tree, but the White House tree has nothing on the Capitol tree!

I love that tree.

I was clearly going to miss seeing last year's Capitol tree, and I missed seeing the Wyoming tree too. This year, I wasn't about to miss our state one.

Todd, Nancy and I went to the Capitol on Christmas Eve day to see the tree and show Nancy the Capitol building...

Here's the state tree right when you walk through the Capitol doors...

An aerial view...

Todd for governor!

I can't help myself anytime I'm around large stuffed, sculpted, kitschy animals/characters. I love them! They crack me up! I will share a photo montage of me and overly huge animals in a future post. This particular buffalo is in the basement of the Capitol...

We were looking at all the Legislature photos around the building when I spied this honorable legislator's name...You think he got made fun of in school??

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Marshmallow maddness

I have done a lot of baking over the past few weeks, but the crowning glory is something I've never tried before: marshmallows.

I have never in my life considered making marshmallows. In fact, I have never in my life considered how marshmallows are made. I have just always assumed they were delivered to stores by the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters.

But a recent edition of Cooking Light magazine that had a marshmallow recipe in it got me to thinkin'. It looked surprisingly easy - not as easy as a giant marshmallow delivery boy, but a notch below. I'm totally gonna do this, I thought.

Then, much to my amazement, my coworker's fiance Marge brought homemade marshmallows to our winter garage sale. She and her mom make them every year!

I felt like I was about to belong to an elite society.

On Sunday I whipped up my batch of marshmallows. The cream was perfect! It tasted like the marshmallows we all know and love - only better! It was like I opened a giant jar of marshmallow cream. I considered making a fluffer-nutter.

I finally got the pan of cream out of the fridge last night to finish them up.

It's amazing! They are perfect!! I feel a little like a mad scientist.

The pan of marshmallow cream. I don't see why you couldn't stop here and just jar it and make fluffer-nutters every day for lunch...

After the pan of cream has chilled for at least 8 hours you flip it out onto a counter covered with a powdered sugar and cornstarch mixture. This keeps the marshmallows from sticking to each other. Then you start cutting them up!

More cutting. It's important to keep your knife covered in the powder mixture so it doesn't stick to the cream. Also, I didn't dump the entire bowl of powder onto the counter because it initially looked like a lot more than I would need. Then I had an idea: I should toss the marshmallows in a ziplock bag with the left over powder and give them a shake. Do this step. It made covering all the sides of the marshmallows really easy...

Move over Marshmallow Man! Check these babies out!

The recipe is actually called Toasted Coconut Marshmallows, but I did nothing with the coconut part, so I've removed anything relating to that from the recipe. It's from Cooking Light.
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 1/2 envelopes unflavored gelatin (2 tablespoons plus 1 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3/4 cup cold water, divided
  • 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 2/3 cup light-colored corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
Line a 13 x 9-inch cake pan with wax paper, allowing the wax paper to extend over sides of pan. Lightly coat the wax paper with cooking spray.

Sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water in a small bowl; set aside. (NOTE: The gelatin will start reacting and by the time you're ready for it it's like a giant Jell-O Jiggler.)

Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/4 cup of water, 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, and corn syrup in a large saucepan. Cook, stirring periodically, over medium-high heat until a candy thermometer registers 260° or for about 15 minutes. (NOTE: I do not have a candy thermometer which is partially why I'm so amazed these came out! I just let it boil for a little bit then took a good guess.)

While sugar mixture cooks, beat the vanilla, salt, and egg whites at high speed in a heavy-duty stand mixer with whisk attachment until foamy. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form.

Remove sugar mixture from heat; gradually stir in softened gelatin. Mixture will appear foamy. (NOTE: This is where it starts looking like a science experiment!)

Gradually pour the gelatin/sugar mixture into the beaten vanilla/egg white mixture, beating until very thick (about 5 minutes). Gently spread marshmallow mixture in prepared pan. Coat 1 side of another sheet of wax paper with cooking spray. Place wax paper, coated side down, over marshmallow mixture. Chill 8 hours or until firm.

Combine powdered sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl with a whisk. Sprinkle about 2/3 of the powder over a cutting board or counter. Remove top sheet of wax paper. Invert marshmallow mixture over powdered sugar mixture. Flip marshmallow mixture to cover both sides with powder. Using a sharp knife, cut mixture into about 1-inch squares.

Place the rest of the powder mixture and all cut marshmallows into a large ziplock bag. Shake gently to cover all sides of marshmallows.

Pop in a mug of hot chocolate or coffee! (Yes, coffee. It's delish!)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A capitol Christmas

I think one of the neatest things about Christmas in the state capitol is the open house at the governor's mansion.

Each year, they open the mansion up to the public for a very nice spread of Christmas treats, decorated trees, a roaring fire and piano music.

I thought Nancy and Todd would get a kick out of going so we mosied on over and checked it out.

Nancy was tickled. She said she'd never done anything at any governor's mansion, so this was a treat. We tucked an "official" paper napkin from the mansion in her purse. Shhhh...

We've been trying to find time to take a Christmas picture to send, but it keeps not happening. I'm half inclined to just use this one. Only Rigby's not in it...

Merry Christmas from Wyoming!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday night fish fry

As I learned in November, Friday night across the state of Wisconsin is fish fry night.

With Todd's mom here we decided to create our own Wisconsin fish fry at the house. We even thawed a bunch of crappies Todd caught in Wisconsin.

The battering process. Just dip each side in egg then roll thoroughly in plain bread crumbs...

Snap, crackle, pop! Drop the fish in a light layer of olive oil...

Whip up some coleslaw, steam some broccoli and butter some cornbread and voila! Wisconsin fish fry!

Friday Fish Fry Coleslaw

Nancy is a coleslaw lover, so I was flattered when she said she wanted my recipe. I can't remember where I found it - probably Cooking Light.

1 pkg. of pre-shredded cabbage/carrot coleslaw mix from the produce section
6 tbsp. light mayo or Miracle Whip (NOTE: I HATE beyond reason mayo/Miracle Whip. I hate the color, smell...sound...of it. But sometimes you can't get around it. I have wanted to try this with plain fat-free yogurt but haven't done it yet. Will report back when I do...)
1 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tsp. sugar
3 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Whisk all ingredients minus the coleslaw mix in a small bowl. Thoroughly combine sauce mixture with pkg. of coleslaw in a larger bowl. Chill until ready to serve.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas cookie madness

Rather than buying presents for our grandmas, Todd had a nice idea to make boxes of baked goods for them.

In theory, this is a wonderful thought. What grandma wouldn't want a box of baked goodies from their grandchildren? However, this has meant I've been baking for four days!

It's been taking a while because we're also trying to get things ready for Todd's mom to visit. She gets in tomorrow. Fitting a batch of gingerbread cookies in around vacuuming, mopping, picking up, etc., has been pretty tight, as you might imagine!

So, after going through the millions of recipes I have I decided the cookie box should include: One mini loaf each of banana bread, some Wyoming-made candy from De's Candy here in Cheyenne, homemade marshmallows (which I've never tried making before and will hopefully get done tonight), and an assortment of decorated sugar and gingerbread cookies.

Todd helped decorate with me last night. I always think starting projects like cookie decorating (or making homemade Christmas cards with Linds H. from potato stamps we cut ourselves) is a good idea until I get about half way through and just want to quit...

Some of the finished product...

A close up...

More cookies! It's madness!

And yes. That is a Coors Light can in the background. That's some product placement, huh?!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Rockin' around the karaoke mic

Last night was Todd's office holiday party.

It was a nice shin dig! Dinner and a DJ at the historic Plains Hotel equals a good night of fun.

But a great night of fun...? How 'bout some karaoke afterward!

We went with two other couples to one of the biggest dives in town: Scooter's. Oh man, is it sketch! But hardly anyone goes there on karaoke night, so it's great because you basically have the place to yourself!

Todd and I with a very un-holiday background at his holiday party...

Singing Picture by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow (with a much more interesting background)...

Jaimel, me and Susan singing Wide Open Spaces by the Dixie Chicks...

Now this is what I call a happy holiday!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Turning point

(This is kind of a girly post...)

I went to the mall tonight to find some fun black pants for Todd's office holiday party on Friday night. Yes, I have plenty of regular black pants, but none that are fun.

I went into the fitting rooms at two different stores and was appalled, let me say that again: appalled by my reflection!

I have never understood the reasoning of the folks who design fitting rooms...wouldn't you want the most amazing lighting EVER to make people think they look awesome and then buy lots of stuff? Instead, the lighting is designed to highlight - accentuate, it seems - your every flaw!

That is exactly what happened tonight.

And it was a turning point.

I promptly put my clothes away and resolved to get back into shape.

What has happened to me?!

I'll tell you: I stopped working out consistently.

Running? Ha!

Weight lifting?? Double ha!

Hitting the gym to do something at least 4-5 times a week like I should be? That gets a great big guffaw!


That's it.

I'm angry at myself for slipping like this and I'm going to take it out on the poor machines at the gym.

I make no apologies.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ain't no Charlie Brown tree

Todd and I cut down our tree yesterday outside Woods Landing, Wyo.

It is...perfect!

Our first stop for a tree. Nothing here...

We went a little farther down the road and there it was...the perfect tree, just calling to me to come home with us. Here's my Wisconsin lumberjack cutting down the tree with a hatchet. He said it was more woodsy than a saw...

Me with the tree post-cut...

Preparing for the journey home...

Our little snow dog. We were right by the side of the road, so thought it best to keep him in the truck...

On our way home we had a beer and split a burger at the Woods Landing bar and dance hall. I've ALWAYS wanted to go to a dance here! I'd love to rent one of their cabins and spend the night kicking up my heels in the hall...

The bar at Woods Landing...

This CRACKED me up! It's the basket liner our burgers came in. I love it when food becomes a character! It reminds me of the walls at Corona Village Andale Rapido in Laramie.

This one is just cute...

Todd decorating...

Me decorating. I don't have photoshop at home to fix the color...

The finished product!

Certainly no Charlie Brown tree!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Seasonal upset's winter. It's freezing. We've had tons of snow dumped on us. And we haven't been able to get a car in the garage since we've moved in to the new house.

Why? Because there's a ton of stuff that needs gotten rid of!

Todd thought it was too late in the year to have a garage sale, not being summer 'n all. But I said, who cares?! Who says you can't have a winter sale, right? With some fun lights, some warm drinks, and maybe some additional crap to sell from friends, we might be able to draw some folks over!

And that's how this Saturday's winter garage sale came to be.

There are seven homes coming together to do a little "winter cleaning."

Last night, a bunch of folks came over for a "pricing party" and to organize items by category, but it really became more of a swapping party - there's some good stuff!

So, if you're in the area on Saturday stop on by (send me a message and I'll give you the address)! We'll be there - frigid temperatures be damned!

Pricing all the loot...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Belated Thanksgiving

Here are some pics from Thanksgiving. I was off the radar a bit, but am back on!

Todd and I Thanksgiving day...

Most of the fam around one table...

The boys with their Grandma Holly, my brother-in-law's mom, at a different table...

Oh, get us every time. Todd taking a little nap, and Kelly trying not to...

I may not be musically talented...

...but I've got some skills. No hands!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fair game

This last weekend was opening day for deer season in Wisconsin.

As I promised Todd I would, I sat in the stand with him for a little while on Saturday - or opening day - morning.

A family tradition is for his mom to cook a big hunter's breakfast for all the guys on opening morning. Before we left Wyoming, I made cinnamon rolls and French puffs (with a few of my own alterations) both by the Pioneer Woman. These are winning recipes, folks. I highly suggest them!

We saw NOTHING on Saturday morning, but Sunday that's a different story! Todd got two "antlerless deer" - the technical term, I guess. No sooner had we sat down in the stand than three deer came whooshing by. About 30 minutes later Todd shot one, and a little after that got a second.

Me in the deer this is my idea of hunting! I only lasted about 2 1/2 hours on Saturday (my feet were frozen!) and yesterday Todd got his deer so quickly we didn't have to be out long. I just don't have the patience for this. It's a good thing I don't have to rely on this for my food!
The deer stand. Todd built this himself a couple years ago...

The second deer Todd shot...

See the red on those leaves...blood. Todd was trying to track his deer. It's like CSI: Wisconsin...

Todd searching for the first deer. I actually stuck it out during the gutting! I didn't want to at first, but my curiosity got the best of me. I swear shows like CSI and others with autopsy scenes desensitize you! I was so close I was looking inside the deer and Todd showed me all the different organs. Fascinating...

Todd wanted to see how Rigby would do hunting with him in the stand. Only problem is, we don't have any blaze orange for him and I didn't want him killed. Todd's friend Shawn just happened to have a hunting vest for dogs in his car so we put it on Rigs. He wasn't so sure at first, but quickly got over it...

Doesn't Rigby look like a crossing guard?! I laughed SO hard! We think he looks like he's barking orders to kids in this pic...

Oh, the things we do to our animals! Todd didn't try to keep this on - as if Rigby would have gone for that. Doesn't Rigby look so gol' darn cute under that hat??

My felon and crossing guard heading back into the woods...