Friday, April 30, 2010

recipe box Friday?

It's been a jumbled week, but that's the way life works sometimes.  This is from a recipe I had pulled from a magazine years ago, and have adapted it to make it my own.  It is my go-to recipe when I want a scone, as I don't have the patience for kneading and shaping into discs. 

Wouldn't mind another batch of them today, but today's baking is for Mike's birthday cake.  He turns 49 tomorrow, yes, a May Day baby.  He has requested angel food, so I will be cracking eggs all morning to whip up a tasty tribute.


2 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. cold butter, cut up
1/2 c. fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/3 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. milk (I like to start with a couple of tablespoons of half and half, and fill to the half cup mark with skim milk-you could be really decadent and use all half and half if you wanted)
1 lg. egg
1 Tbsp. coarse raw sugar

Preheat oven to 425.  Grease a cookie sheet.  Pulse flour, 1/3 c. sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter in food processor until the texture of fine meal.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Stir in the fresh and dried cranberries.

Beat milk and egg with a fork.  Add to the flour mixture, stir with fork until dry ingredients are evenly moist without overstirring. 

Drop dough in 8 clumps 2" apart onto prepared sheet.  Sprinkle with coarse sugar (you can use regular sugar if you don't have the raw kind on hand).  Bake 12-14 minutes until golden, transfer to a rack to cool.

You can use any kind of fruit you like, use a combo of any dried fruit along with it's fresh counterpart-bananas, apricots, cherries, blueberries, or strawberries.  When I made them last weekend, I didn't have any fresh cranberries on hand, so I just used all dried and threw in half a cup of white chocolate chips.  The possiblities are endless!  Thinking the next ones I make will be fresh strawberry with dried blueberries, they would also be good with some toasted almonds or pecans thrown into the mix.  See what a versatile recipe this is?  Definitely a keeper.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

an april morning walk

Our crazy early spring continues, I was reading in the paper yesterday that the farmers are so far ahead of planting and I can just imagine them out in their fields, with the fresh greeness of spring all around them.  These last few days have actually been considered 'normal' in our temperature department, it was kind of nice to feel 'seasonal' April. 

I want to document this, and savor it, and look at it in the dead of winter, when I have lost hope that spring will ever arrive again.  So I brought my camera along on my walk Tuesday morning,

to give you a glimpse into early spring in our own little corner of the world.  And I have been trying to get you these pictures now for two days....but I am not going to rant about computer issues today.

The crabapple trees:

The lilacs:

The tulips:
And just to remind ourselves that spring is not all glorious, the dandelions and creeping charlie...
Mowers have already been sounding throughout the yards-time to get ours ready to go!
Look at this house, like something out of a children's fairy tale!
Here are shots that I took from people's gardens.  I didn't go in their yards, these were just taken from the sidewalk.  I hope they don't mind!  A lemon yellow bush (don't know the name of it:)

Cushion spurge (mine looks teeny compared to this one!)

This looks like ajuga:
A front door:

or two:
Now is when I wish I had smellevision, the heady scent of the lilacs and flowering trees is amazing.  ( I do keep encouraging Charlie to work on that....)
Even the pine trees are showing signs of new life:
Fresh phlox:
Bleeding hearts:

We love our little corner of the world.  And on a day like this I can ignore the exorbitant property taxes, and the ever-expanding fees and laws governing our city. 

I even spied a shady area, under some trees, where ferns were unfurling their pretty heads.
It's a wonder all of the things are blooming, what with these guys running rampant through the yards. Sometimes I play a game on my walk to see how many I can spy.  The little critters really like our neighborhood. Although I just read in the paper today that the reason so many tulips have survived is that with such warm temperatures, the rabbits have had a smorgasboard of plants to choose from!
How many squirrels can you find?
A Japanaese Maple-I took a photo of this one last fall too!
This has to be the world's largest crabapple tree (at least in my neighborhood).  Wonder how old it is?
And home again, to my own little cottage.  I've got some planting to do!
Hope you can get out for a walk and enjoy this early spring too!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

stay tuned

lengthy post with LOTS of pictures coming, along with the regular recipe box Weds. post.

computer issues-keep your fingers crossed !

Monday, April 26, 2010

bargains just waiting

Today I am heading out to SuperTarget for my monthly "big shop".  So called because I fill up a cart (sometimes two), and I can see the cashier inwardly groan when I get in his or her lane.  I have learned to scout for a cheerful checker, who looks like they might welcome the challenge that is my purchase.  I usually get a big sigh from them when I hand over my giant stack of coupons. but occasionally I will come across one who loves the game as much as I do, and will loudly proclaim my savings to all of the other customers when she is done ringing me up.

I have a Target Visa card, that I use as my primary credit card.  I love that Charlie's school benefits from my shopping, and I earn a 10% off coupon every month.  When the bill arrives, it gets paid in full, so I don't have any credit card debt.  This system has worked pretty well for me, so I am sticking with it.  In addition to the 10% off coupon (which is good on my entire purchases for a whole day-no restrictions on anything) I also receive additional coupons from them each month for being a loyal 'guest'.

Did you know that you can combine Target coupons with manufacturer's coupons?  Let's say Progresso soup is on sale this week for $1.25 a can, and I have a manufacturer's coupon for .50 off, and a Target coupon for another .50 off.  That means that can of soup cost me .25.  Wahoo! 

My sister is the QUEEN of coupons and bargains, and she regularly scouts all of the coupon sites and blogs that are out there.  Some people are really devoted to this process, and their pantries and shelves are filled with things they got nearly for free.  I am always getting coupons in the mail from her, and free samples and bargains. 

I am not that devoted, but I do take the time to find coupons for things that I regularly use, so that I can save myself some money.  I won't take the time to clip a coupon for something, even if I CAN get it free, if I know I won't use it.  I just don't have time for that.  But judicious coupon clipping can really save you some money.  In last month's 'big shop', I spent $250, but I saved $90.  And since my monthly big shop consists of cleaning supplies and basics for my pantry and freezer, I am saving money on what I actually use.

Don't get me wrong, it takes a lot of time to prepare for a big shop.  But I think it's worth it.  And SuperTarget is by far and away the very best place to do my shopping.  Sure, they don't always have every brand, but they have enough for me.  I will always be a loyal and devoted fan.  And it really has nothing to do with the fact that I used to work for them!

If you want to take advantage of the coupons they are offering on their site this week, here's a link (just click on the 'coupons' section on the left side, and be sure to enter your zip code for coupons that will apply to your Target):

Happy Shopping!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

rainy Saturdays-the good and the bad

A rare Saturday post, since I shorted you last week.

We woke to the sound of rain falling softly on the roof, with thunder rumbling off in the distance.  I remembered it was Saturday and tucked the covers in a little tighter, the weight of Claude's slumbering body against my feet.

Rain on a Saturday! 

The bad news is that Charlie's Fun Ride at the track in Grantsburg is canceled, so no dirt biking today.

The good news is that rain on a Saturday drives people to the Mall of America, so the cash register will be ringing at our store.

Rain today means the opening day of Farmer's Market in St. Paul will be a soggy one, and quite a bit less successful than it would have been on a bright sunny day.  I know I am missing this one.

The good news is that our lawns and gardens and trees are drinking up this much needed moisture, and everything that is already so far ahead of the growing season will just continue to make us shake our heads in wonder.

The bad news is that I will have to check my basement for water.

The good news is that I finally get to wear my new Liberty rain boots!

The bad news is that anyone with softball or baseball or soccer practice now has to stay home.  Maybe they will think that is GOOD news!

The good news is that rainy days make me feel like baking, and I whipped up a batch of cranberry scones to start our day (look for the recipe this coming Wednesday...).

So far it's looking like the positives are outweighing the negatives.  Let's see if Charlie agrees when I tell him today is the PERFECT day to finish organizing the basement!

Happy Rainy Saturday!

Friday, April 23, 2010

wearing us down

Charlie has been lobbying to buy an M rated game since last fall.  Not just any game, but one in particular.  It comes up in conversations regularly.  And ever since his Xbox experienced it's second bout of the 'Ring of Death', and had to be sent in for repair, he has been lobbying extra hard.

He continues to point out to us how MATURE he has become, and that he is really ready for an M rated game.  We don't restrict him from playing them at his friend's house, we just don't want it in OUR house.

Tuesday night he asked us to come in the office, and presented us with this:

(Okay, let me rant here for a minute...I started this post Thursday morning, and fully intended to share Charlie's Power Point proposal.  But it was created on Mike's computer, which has a newer version of Office than I do, and I downloaded a compatability pack to be able to open it up, and everything went to heck in a handbasket.  So while I can't SHOW it to you (and it will likely lose it's full impact) I will do my best to share it.  I won't be able to include the music...)

Screen one is a shot from the opening of the game, and across the front is says:  MODERN WARFARE 2

Screen two:
This is the picture in the background, the screen says:   Intro   You all know by now that I obviously want Modern Warfare 2, and I know that for you as parents it's a hard decision to let your child get an M rated game.  I understand that for you guys to let me get this game I need to show maturity, and on my behalf I think that I have done that.  So where you are reading this power point remember I'll always be your little boy.


Screen 3 has a black background, with the Modern Warfare 2 logo screened across the back, and it says:

Alright enough time off in dreamland let's get down to business.  As you will see in the video I'm about to show you, Modern Warfare 2 has blood but not as much as you would think from an M rated game but when shot blood will stick to things.  Also remember that there is no blood in the mulitplayer campaign because some goofball decided to replace it with money.  The graphics and game play are amazing as you will see so now I'm going to let the video talk.

And then he proceeded to show us a clip from actual game play from You Tube.

The fourth screen is a photo of an adorable kitten starting down at some money.  It says "I has a money.  What I do wif it?  BUY MODERN WARFARE!!

The fifth screen has a pile of money in the background, and states:  MW2 MONEY  I know for a fact that right now I'm a little "Strapped for Cash" and that Modern Warfare is $50 (YIKES!),  so I have a plan A and plan B.  Plan A is to do as many possible chores and money raisers as I can until the xbox gets back and if I don't have enough by then Maybe you could lend me the money to get it and I coudl work it off (smiley face emoticon).  OR plan B is if you don't letnd me the money that I just keep working until I have enough.  That is my money plan.

The sixth screen just has a giant question mark in the background, and says:  Questions/Comments/Saying you'll let me get it/Saying you'll work with money plan A/how handsome I am.

This kid has a future ahead of him-attorney?  lobbyist?  running an ad agency?

We didn't ask for a Power Point Proposal.  I guess he figured that was the best way to talk to business owning parents, since bugging us constantly about it for the last six months hasn't worked.

So we have agreed to let him get this game, with our own list of conditions and rules and such.  And a warning that if we see any attitude shifts that it gets sold immediately.

Think I will put it together in powerpoint ....

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

recipe box Wednesday

This week's recipe features a 'copycat'.  You know how you have something fabulous at a restaurant, and wish you could recreate it at home?  Once a month, I head up to SuperTarget for my 'big shop' (my monthly jaunt when I fill a cart with basics and bargains, sometimes two carts!)  If I don't already have my ginormous list ready, I will sneak in to Starbucks and have a skinny latte and a Cranberry Bliss bar to fuel up for the shopping ahead while I organize my coupons.  They are aptly named, each bite is a little bit of heaven, and a lovely combination of sweet tart cranberries, perfectly flavored frosting, and a cookie like base.  But they only have them during the holidays, so I have to go months without a fix.

Always wishing I could make them at home, fate came knocking last week when it was in our newspaper's 'In the Kitchen' section, where readers write in to ask for help in finding recipes.

Here is the link:

I made them and brought up to Bemidji for our girl's weekend, they were pretty yummy.  I have to say, they were not the EXACT recipe.  But pretty darn close.  Close enough to tide me over until they start serving them again next winter!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

girl's weekend 2010

The annual Hanson Girl Weekend has come and gone, and I am back to laundry and work.  But oh what a wonderful four days we had!

We met in Baxter for shopping on Friday, then headed to Nisswa for lunch.  If you have never been to Rafferty's Pizza in this tiny little tourist town, jump in your car and go there, TODAY.  Or just stop the next time you happen to go through.  Their sign proudly proclaims they are one of the top 100 pizza places in the United States, and I would have to say that is true.

The beer was cold and the glasses were frosty.  Beer for lunch-we were definitely on vacation!
Chicken Ranch pizza.  PERFECT.
Fueled up we were on to shopping:  Buffalo Plaid, our favorite store, first stop.
Lots of giggling and goofing off.
A break for fancy coffee (we were really letting loose).  I think our laughing could be heard for blocks.
We spent the rest of the weekend at the Spa on the Hill (otherwise known as Heather's house in Bemidji).
We relaxed, drank wine, and had pedicures.  They were a much better deal than going to the spa at Grandview, and dare I say, just as relaxing.  (they tend to frown on lots of giggling at a real spa....)
(And Tracy, you will be happy to know that the blue toes this time are Heather's....)
The weekend was full of good food (no cooking allowed), naps, stories told, and laughter shared. 

And now we are ready to face the world again. Thanks dear girls, for another wonderful weekend that will go down in the memory books.  I am one very lucky woman to have you both in my life.

Friday, April 16, 2010

can't get enough

Yesterday I had to take some time out of my regular busy-ness and just take in spring.  The lighting was perfect, flat and subdued as the sun was filtered through the clouds that remained from our early morning rain.

Yesterday's photos were a result, and since I couldn't stop snapping, here are some more:

My neighbor's rhody:
And her daffodils.

The magnolia tree down the street from me. 

The ground was littered with the spent white blooms-so much prettier than snow.

Views from a local rock garden:
And a garden miracle, I have a delphinium returning for the first time EVER!  I plant one every year, and they never return.  Must be my lucky year!

Snow on the mountain, spreading like, well, snow on a mountain!
Ever-expanding perennial geraniums, I started with one small plant several years ago, and they now cover a 4' square of my garden.  Wait until they bloom, a mass of blue flowers will appear!
My peonies are on track:

The golden shrubs on the shady side of the house:

The wild ginger is just about ready to unfold sturdy leaves-peaking through last year's bark:

And for the life of me I can't remember what this is, a form of Jacob's ladder?  No matter, love the color.
 And there you have it, a very early garden tour.  Had to document, who knows when we will ever get to experience such an early spring again.

Take some time this weekend to enjoy a little section of your own backyard, or visit a garden shop for some new color!


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