Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Quite Possibly The Best Cake Ever (or Calories Don't Count On New Year's Eve)

Happy New Year to all of our friends and family! We wish you the very best this coming's going to be a good one, I can just tell! I am one to set some goals and a new year is a perfect time to do so. However, I'm still formulating in my mind what they should be. How about you? What are some things you are looking forward to accomplishing this year? Sharing goals with others can often add the extra needed pressure to really put forth the effort to accomplish them. Sarah and I will get ours down in the next couple of days. One thing that I did manage to accomplish in 2008 was to keep a Gratitude Journal. It has been a valuable experience, one that I highly recommend.
A couple of days ago Rich asked me if I would consider making a carrot cake for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. There is only one problem...the last time I made it I gained 3 lbs. that week! It is so good. I think it might even be better than the Red Velvet cake I make. It's hard for me to ignore an honest plea, so I gave in. If you want a taste, you better hurry on over. If that is a problem, make it yourself. But be warned, you will need to spend some extra time working it off! The recipe came from my dear friend Jennifer in California, and I believe she got it from someone in her ward. Here it is:
Best Carrot Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrot
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
2/3 cup flaked coconut
Lightly grease and flour 2 9-inch round cake pans. Stir together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Beat eggs with sugar, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla at medium speed until smooth. Add flour mixture, beating at low speed until blended. Fold in carrot, pineapple, and coconut. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Drizzle Buttermilk Glaze evenly over layers; cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake.
Buttermilk Glaze
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Boil, stirring often, 4 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. (I personally think that this addition is what makes this cake so moist and yummy!)
Cream Cheese Frosting
3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth.

There you have it! Y-U-M-M-Y!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bowerman Family Pictures...Too Fun!

For my birthday this year the kids arranged to have some family pictures done with my good friend Katharine (many, many thanks!) while we were all together for Thanksgiving. Super. It was a tad bit difficult getting every one in the same place at the same time. I imagine this is a problem that will become even more difficult as time goes on, so I certainly appreciate the effort. Keep in mind that it was rather cold this morning that we went out to have them done. However, it wasn't nearly as cold as it is here in Edwardsville this was a very brisk six degrees on the way to church. Brrrrrrr!!
The good-looking Bowerman guys, along with an equally good-looking Brewer guy! (Marshall, Chris, Rich, and Joseph)
My beautiful daughters...Lindsay, Sarah, and Katie.
We all love Joseph (Katie's husband)! He makes us laugh!
One more family shot. Claire was very cooperative even though we just wanted to keep her wrapped up all the time. Merry, Merry Christmas from the Bowermans! Look for more pictures of sweet baby's a recent one!
Is this the look of, "Are you serious?" or "Why me?" Can you believe she's less than 2 months old and holding her head up so well. We love you sweet baby Claire!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things!

It's the Christmas season. I love Christmas so much! Every year at Christmas I hope to experience something that takes my breath away, something that makes me truly feel what is often referred to as "The Spirit of Christmas" and usually this is accomplished by way of music. This past Sunday I was home feeling pretty sick and did not make it to church. I did, however, watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast. It was fantastic! The story behind the song "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" was told. Oh, so good. I learned so much about Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Also, this incredible organist played a solo. No music in front of him (which always amazes me!), and his feet were moving as fast as his hands! I've attached the link so that you can be as amazed as I was. WOW! is all I can say.

The next one of my "favorite things" would have to be my sweet, sweet baby Claire. OK, OK, she is Katie's daughter. She is so precious. We are so lucky to live in this day of technology and I get to see her via webcam as much as I want. Not quite the same as rocking and cuddling, but it will have to do for now. Miss my little one...
I love beautiful artwork. Some people are so talented and can catch so much feeling in their art work. I love this picture of Mary and the Savior. I can't imagine what she was feeling at His birth, knowing all that He would experience and go through in His life. Was she overwhelmed, was she just so tired, was she so worried, was she just so happy to have finally given birth? I am so grateful for her, for her goodness and her own great sacrifice. It gives me such hope.
One of my very special Christmas experiences occurred many years ago. I was a very busy, overwhelmed mom of four kids. I had just experienced a miscarriage. We had just found out we were moving back to Los Angeles. Life was kind of chaotic. Christmas was not too far away. For some reason we were all out and about going somewhere and the "Hallelujah Chorus" began to play, which is perhaps my favorite Christmas song. I could not contain the tears. The kids were terribly worried that something was really wrong and I remember trying to explain in words that they could somehow understand the peace and comfort that I was finally feeling...all because of the most majestic (in my humble opinion) of all compositions ever written. For your benefit, and just in case you haven't listened to it this season, I copied a link to the choir singing it. I'm not sure how recent this is, but it is most awesome!
Hugs to all this most wonderful time of the year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

Today is Rich's 53rd birthday! Birthdays are just one of those things that come and go as you get older. I think we'd just assume ignore them. Rest assured, Sarah and I tried to pull together a little celebration. I just want to publicly express how much I love this guy! I am so thankful that he is mine forever. It will take me that long, and even longer, to figure him out! Just kidding. It will take that long for me to catch up. I seriously remember when we were dating thinking how smart he was. He seemed to know everything, especially everything about the gospel. I could not believe that he had been a member of the church for such a short time. I was in awe that he gave up a full scholarship to Vanderbilt University to serve a mission for the church, at his own expense. I knew it would always be a challenge for me to even come close to his commitment level. Although we haven't always seen things the same way, the things that matter the most we have had total agreement on. I know that he loves me just like I am, but also has great expectations for me. He has such a sweet way of encouraging me to be my best. Those times when I was clearly unsure of my abilities as a mother, he was always right there telling me I was doing great. He understood when I desperately needed a break, and was there to welcome me back with open arms. He has always supported me in the various church assignments I've had over the years. He was most supportive of me finishing my education. I mostly appreciate his patience when it comes to my lack of understanding of all things technical. Most of those he comes in contact with have no idea how funny he is...he definitely comes across as the very serious minded, engineer type. Ah, but beneath that exterior is someone that gives me something to laugh about just about every day.

I wish him the very best this coming year. He gave me a bit of a scare about a month ago. He better stick around...we still have a lot to accomplish together. Our "grandparenthood" has just begun. We are going to be great! Love you sugarbear!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bluebell's Birthday!!

This post may seem a little odd. Actually, I've been waiting to do this for some time. As you can see, good 'ole Bluebell (that would be my 02 Ford Explorer) reached a milestone recently...100,000 miles! The origin of Bluebell's name...she's (yes, she!) blue and she came to our family when we lived in Bellingham, Washington. Seemed like a logical name.
I just wanted to express how grateful I am for a dependable car. Bluebell has seen a lot of the country. She was owned by someone that drove her across Canada several times before coming to our house. She's gone up and down the western coastline several times. She's explored (ha, ha - note the play on words!) lots of the mid-west and made a trip to the east coast.
I was thinking about Bluebell today. We've traveled through a lot of "life" together. She's probably heard me talk to myself way more than even Oreo has. She's definitely heard me sing louder than anyone else. Imagine this...she loves all the same music that I do! And she doesn't even care how loud it is. She's dealt with my frustrations, complaints and total happiness. She doesn't mind at all how I look when I need to go some where. In other words, she's seen me at my best and worst and she still starts. She's endured being hit a few times, and even hitting a few things (trees, turkeys, etc.). She's helped two teenagers learn to drive, and that will soon be sorry girlfriend. Thank you Bluebell for being so dependable, comfortable, and just the right size. At a time when those all around us are concerned (rightfully so) about gas mileage, etc., I'm happy with the 25 mpg you still produce. I don't remember the exact day you arrived at 4505 Parkhurst Drive, but I do know that it was in December. So Happy Birthday! And please, keep up the good work!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Week of Wonderful Blessings

Gosh, it's been a wonderful couple of days. Here's a few pictures to recap the events and let all know that we're doing great. Rich and Sarah arrived in Provo last Thursday and we've been busy, busy ever since.
Friday morning found us at the Provo Temple with Lindsay, such a wonderful experience for her and for all of our family. Love that girl. We're so proud of her!
And then, in spite of Claire's enthusiasm for the BYU Cougars, they managed to blow the biggest game of the season against their arch rivals, the Utes. Oh well, we had lots of fun anyway!
And then today was Blessing Day for Claire Elizabeth Brewer. Her daddy gave her a beautiful blessing...what an angel has arrived in our family.
Is there anything more peaceful than a newborn?
Here's our little Claire getting ready for her first Thanksgiving meal! So much more has happened these last few days. We had a very fun photography session with our friend Katharine and she has said that maybe just a few of them turned out. OK, so she took over 600. And then to top things off, it's Chris' 26th birthday today. Two cakes and two pies later we're all full. We want all of our dear friends and family to know how grateful we are for each of you. We have SO very much to be grateful for. Hugs to all!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Feeling Immense Gratitude Tonight

So the love of my life gave me a little scare this week. Actually, a big scare. For all of the details, check out Rich's blog. The link is to the right, titled Rich's Ramblings. Suffice it to say, at least the man hasn't lost his sense of humor! Looking back on the previous week I can only say how blessed I feel. I know prayers were answered. I know my good husband was watched over and protected. I know he has a lot more work to do while on this earth and it's not his time to check out yet. I know that my Heavenly Father is watching over our family. I felt His kind arms around me in my hour of need. I felt His direction when making phone calls and arrangements to get home so quickly. It all worked out so well. I felt such relief walking into the ICU and seeing my sweetheart after almost 4 weeks of being apart. He's my best friend, best support, best counselor and I look forward to many years of "grandparenthood" together.
I'm open to any and all ideas regarding how to get him to slow down and also how to take some time for himself. We all need to work on our diet and exercise program. Maybe that will be a great family goal for the new year. In the meantime, don't let the men in your life ignore symptoms. Be persistent about getting answers to health issues. Follow up!

It has been a wonderful Sabbath Day. While not all of us made it to church today, we were able to spend a lot of time, on this blustery day, relaxing together with our fireplace glowing, and listening to several sessions of conference again. I am SO grateful for leaders who guide us and speak words of comfort for the perilous times that we live in. We felt so blessed today.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

You Be The Judge...Who Does Claire Look Like?

First up is Katie, weighing in at 9 lb. 10 oz. Where did all that dark hair go??
Next up is Joseph, weighing in at a whopping 12 lbs. Believe it, I saw the birth certificate!!
And then we have Claire, weighing in at 9 lbs. even! I think she's a beautiful combination of both of them. And by the way, the winner of the contest to guess her birth weight was none other than YaYa Brewer...she was right on the number. Gramma Bowerman guessed 9 lb. 1 oz. We grandmas know best! We also know that Bowermans and Brewers make big babies...maybe now the doctor will believe us.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Everybody is Going To Wish They Had an Aunt Lindsay!

So Lindsay was over tonight when Claire was set to have her first bath at home. She couldn't resist pulling some accessories out of the drawer and trying them on Claire. Too funny!
A girl can't have too many bows and jewelry!
After Claire's first bath...oh, they smell so good. I'm so glad "Baby Magic" is still around. Claire is wrapped up in a special blanket made by Grandma Brewer, also known as "YaYa". What an angel she has far!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Very Long Day...With the Best Ending Possible!

She's here, she's here, she's here!! Claire Elizabeth Brewer arrived at 11:38 p.m. last night, 9 lbs. and 20 1/2" long. There are not words to describe the emotions I feel with the arrival of this little (big) angel! Katie was awesome, pushing for well over an hour and a half. What a trooper! Claire seems to be so peaceful and calm, a perfect addition for Joseph and Katie. I'm sure Katie's blog will have more details of the day itself and all of their thoughts and emotions. As for me, I just feel such gratitude for this miracle that has come to our family. Grandma loves you!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Tomorrow Is The Day!!

Claire is being a little stubborn, so it seems we're going to have to force the issue! Katie is scheduled to be induced tomorrow some time. Even an exciting BYU game last night didn't do the trick, so we'll p-a-t-i-e-n-t-l-y wait for the hospital to call to tell us to come in. In the mean time any other ideas of what I could sew for her nursery? This has been too fun...a whole room for the baby! I don't think any of my kids had a whole room to themselves while they were a baby.
Katie and I found this amazing line of material based on Eric Carle's book "The Very Hungry Caterpillar". It's perfectly bright and cheery.
Katie and Claire are to be guests of honor at a shower this coming Saturday, the 8th, so she really better hurry and get here. Everyone is so excited to meet her.
The picture below is the anxious daddy, waiting, practicing, and basically all ready for his daughter's arrival.

While We Wait...We Quilt!!

I've been in Utah for three Saturdays now, and all three Saturdays have found me at this incredible quilting store in West Jordan called "The Material Girls Quilt Shop". It is the best! Oh my, the inspiration is too much. Some people are so clever. I just want to stand and look and look some more. I could be surrounded by fabric, all different colors and combinations and patterns, and it would still never be enough! Anyways, Lindsay had been given some fabric not too long ago and decided to get into the quilting spirit. Last night she laid it all out. This is before she sewed all the strips together. It is turning out great. She has an amazing eye for color and patterns. This is one that Lindsay started...ummmm, five years ago or so. I brought it with me and Katie decided to finish it. She laid it all out and we've been working together on it. I didn't take a picture of the quilt I'm doing for Sarah, but it's sure going to be cute also. A surprise finish!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

From Now On If Anyone Asks...She's LATE!!

We woke up this morning and it is absolutely a gorgeous day! I've wanted to go up to the canyons and see the beauty and then decided that a good walk would be great for Katie!
So I said, "Joe, let's head up to the "Y". I've never hiked up there yet." I think Katie thought I was kidding, but nevertheless we headed for the trailhead.
These pictures are posting took us about an hour, but yes, we made it!
Here's Joseph encouraging Katie, or is it the other way around, up the final steps!
I guess what it comes down to is...maybe you don't want to use this woman as your birthing coach! We came home, went to church for a bit, and then all took a much needed nap! What a beautiful day...Claire, you can come any time, any time!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Congratulations Sarah Bear!

I was walking around an antique mall here in the Provo area today with Katie and I got this phone call from Sarah. It sounded like she was crying and I all of sudden became very worried. She was finally able to say, "I made 2nd chair in Symphonic Band!" This is something she has worried about and worked very hard for. Hard work pays off! Yeah Sarah! The rest of this year is going to be very fun and challenging at the same time. Oh yeah, and just in case you're looking for a fantastic (and I mean fantastic!) flute teacher, Heather Porter is the best! She has been such an encouragement to Sarah. Sarah looks forward to having her lessons and always wants to do her best for Heather. When you inspire your students to want to achieve their very best, you're doing something right as a teacher! Thank you so can never have too many positive role models for your children.

P.S. The contest continues...Claire is looking a little too comfortable inside Katie. Maybe the excitement of a BYU football game taking place in Provo tomorrow will inspire her to get with the program!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Guess Her Weight...Claire, Not The pumpkin!

OK, so it's a contest! I arrived in Provo almost a week ago, anxiously preparing for Claire's arrival. Needless to say, she hasn't made her appearance, but we all feel like it's getting closer by the hour. So this will be a QUICK contest. Let's see who can come the closest (without going over) to guessing what Claire's birth weight will be. The first picture is to give just a little perspective. I can't say how much the pumpkin weighs because it was just left on their doorstep, but it's a nice size.
So here's the official profile...5 days before her official due date of October 26th.
Like I mentioned, I've been here almost a week. We've spent a lot of time sewing, shopping, and getting things ready. We cleaned her condo really, really good on Monday hoping that somehow if we cleaned it would help. Unfortunately the doctor said it would probably be another week. More cleaning...just kidding. So, hey, what's your guess??

Sarah's Birthday and a Trip to Orlando!

Sarah's 15th Birthday came and went flying by on conference weekend! I can't believe baby is 15!! Rich brought her a sweet gift back from India. This elephant is so amazing! It's all one piece of stone and inside is carved a small baby elephant. How they did this through the lattice work is incredible. Rich, Sarah, and I took a quick trip to Orlando the week after conference. The "Magic Kingdom" is pretty much what we remember from all of our trips to Disneyland in California. Epcot was a blast and definitely a place we want to go back to. One of the places had cars you could get in and check out. Sarah is getting a little anxious to start driving...January is right around the corner! Here she is trying out a bright red Hummer...dream on baby girl, dream on!
Rich and I at Epcot...a beautiful day, but definitely pretty humid and hot!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Manners and Competitions

We found this book as we were cleaning out Marshall's bedroom not too long ago. It was published in 1922. It's clear that Marshall did not read past the 2nd page, which says under the heading of "Care of Clothing"..."Whether a boy or a girl, cultivate the habit of smoothing out your clothes and arranging them carefully when you take them off. Never throw them in a heap on a chair or on the floor. Hang them on hangers if possible." Actually, all of my kids could have done better in this regard.
This paragraph is interesting also and I'll have to see how well our congregation does next week at church. Under "Entering Public Places" it reads, "In church, however, where the family have a pew and the usher does not precede them, the man of the family precedes, whether he be an adult or a boy, and stands beside the pew until the women have taken their places. He then takes his place in the end seat." Never knew that...

Yesterday was the Tiger Marching Band Ambush Classic. Edwardsville High School hosted their first competition with 22 bands in attendance. It was a rather successful event. The weather even cooperated with relatively cool temperatures, and the rain holding out until we were on our way home. Sarah is doing a fantastic job on the keyboard in the "pit". Last week did not go as well and she was a tad nervous about doing a better job this week in front of the home crowd. It was fantastic and she did great! Heather (her Mia Maid advisor) always makes such a great effort to support her girls and was there to see Sarah perform. Their season goes for several more weeks. On top of that Sarah has also agreed to play her flute with the music ensemble group that plays for the school play, which this fall is "Man of LaMancha"...think "To Dream the Impossible Dream." Busy, busy girl.

OK, so they're not the most attractive outfits, but that goes with the territory.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Time Out For Women - Yeah, We're Already Planning For Next Year!!

This last Friday and Saturday I went to a conference designed especially for women. This one took place in St. Charles, Missouri. Several girlfriends from church went over in the afternoon and wandered around through the darling shops in old town St. Charles. The concert Friday night was most awesome. We spent the night over there, stayed up late, ate lots of munchies, and got up early to attend the all day event on Saturday. The theme this year centered around having a joyful life. It was all so inspiring and just what we needed. There was close to 20 from our Edwardsville area that attended. So fun to be with 1500 or more women from the St. Louis area that enjoy hearing inspiring and uplifting words of counsel and love.
Here's Karen, Darlene, Crystal, Melody, Teresa, Kirstin, Ann, and Heather - maybe half of our group. We all didn't stand still long enough to get everyone together. I think one of the best parts is the free bag we all got. OK, so we're already planning next year's get away. Our "time out" needs to be more than 24 hours next time!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Gotta Love That Red Hair

Ashlyn was visiting the other day. She's getting to know me better all the time. I'll win her over yet! She and Addy have this amazingly curly, beautiful head of red hair. I love it! How do you say, "Cheese!"

It's a Shower!

We were excited to have Katie and Joseph be here at home for a couple of days as they were on their way back to school in Provo, Utah. They had a long and exhausting summer and were so ready to get back to their home and start to make preparations for Claire's arrival. While she was here we looked at bunches of nursery sets but couldn't seem to find just the right one. We decided to check out a little quilting store in Edwardsville and happened upon the cutest set of coordinated fabrics using Eric Carle's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar". It's so bright and colorful! It will be darling. These were some of the kids favorite books. For some reason I had saved one of them that was Katie's that my mom had given her to use as a quiet book...back in 1991! So it will be fun to bring all of those fun stories back out again.

Also, while Katie was here some friends of ours got together and gave her a shower. It was really fun and so thoughtful of them. Thanks bunches Heather and Kirstin!
Let's see...there's Teresa, Melody, Amy, Cassie, Lorren, Heather, Katie, Sarah, Rachel, Kirstin, Crystal, Courtney, and Kaylene.
Silly Heather!
You can kind of see Katie's growing she is with Sarah. It was such a fun evening and she's well on her way to having a well-stocked nursery!