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!