Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Memories

This Christmas was probably the most special Christmas I can remember. 
The older us cousins grow, the closer we get. So everytime all the Bontrager girl cousins are able to come from IA, MO, & TX to get together....we have so many memories from our times together and I am so blessed to have them as my friends and cousins.
I'm posting more about our weekend over on our family blog, but here are a few of the "girl" moments we captured on camera.

On Christmas Eve we spent a little time at Goodwill before heading over to join everyone else at Pizza Hut for dinner.
Teresa, Victoria, Ally, Kenzie, Naomi, Tiffany, Allison, Dorcas, Hannah, Rhoda, & Mary
(I attempted to put the camera on timer, but by the time I started the 10 seconds and got it positioned on the van hood...I only had about 2 seconds left to run across the parking lot and join everyone else. After one try I gave up =))
I love this picture. =) They were all obviously deep in thought.....
And here's all of us at Pizza Hut
(my dear aunt arrived so we put her behind the camera)
We had the annual "teenage & older" girls night at the grandma house. (for those of you who don't know, a "grandma house" is an amish tradition-a little house that amish families build onto their homes for their parents to live in. This little house is built onto the house where my dad grew up and is where my great-grandma lived before she died. Now it is mostly empty and is used as a guest house of sorts)
It is always the perfect place for us rather noisy girls....we can be as loud as we want, as long as we want...and we don't keep anyone else awake because we're in our own little house. =)
This year....we got off right away into some deep discussions about convictions/standards/guidelines/etc and that kept going until probably 12:30am, at which point Allison and Naomi declared they were too tired to stay awake any longer so they left to go sleep in the adjoining house.
(interesting note: we learned the following morning that the "too-tired-to-stay-with-the-party" Allison & Naomi went to bed and proceeded to talk for the next hour and a half. much for being tired!)
Those of us remaining got launched into an extremely interesting personality evaluation of Tiffany. (our goal was to evaluate all of us girls over the weekend, but it didn't happen)
This is a personality test where there are four different options for a variety of strengths/weaknesses.  You have to check one out of each set of four and then add up all your points to figure out if you are 
A} Choleric
B} Sanguine
C} Melancholy
D} Phlegmatic
If you've never done this, or studied it, you simply must! It is SO fascinating to know what you are, and what those around you are....its very helpful in learning to get along with and relate to your family, especially.
At some point we began to get really crazy. Here we were attempting a self-portrait, but Dorcas (who had set the camera on timer) was in such a hurry to get into her position that she tripped, sending us all into hysterical laughter and resulting in the above expressions.
Enjoying blankets, coffee, and another good discussion on Grandma's porch swing, Christmas evening.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Hello all!
Obviously the scrumptious saturday deal is over. 
I am disappointed that I didn't make the full 8 weeks but I am surprised that I kept it going as long as I did so I guess its not all bad. I got close, at least!

This past week has been full to the brim. Preparing to leave my home for 3 months.....lots of music practice w/ my siblings in preparation for the tour....sewing.....a formal banquet..... a surprise birthday party last Saturday with my sister and 10 dear friends (I'll be posting more about that *fabulous* time later).....Christmas preparations (can't WAIT to see these dear cousins who are coming!).....more sewing.....lots of time spent mailing out cds and promotional packets.....a birthday party for a sibling.....accompanying for the community choir performance.....and a huge cooking disaster one hour ago. 
*frowns and smiles inserted here in rapid succession of each other as I remember how horrible it was at the beginning...and how hilarious at the end*
 (more on that to come later as well. Stay tuned. Its a hummer of a story. =))
I may be missing many additional adventures but those are the few that come to my mind at the moment. Life is never dull on the farm! 
Have a blessed weekend, all! I'll be back after Christmas! =)



I'm posting this picture ONLY because it is part of a bargain I was coerced into, and not by my choice.
Just to clarify. =)
So. In Octber we were in Shipshewana with some friends, and one of them unofficially ended up being the photographer for the weekend. She later sent me some of the photos she took...including this one, and also another picture she had found from long, long ago. She said the "long, long ago" picture was only for me to laugh at, and that I was NOT allowed to post it. Of course the minute I saw that photo I knew it HAD to go on the blog. So I responded pleading (with all my skill) that she PLEEEEEASE give me her permission to post that photo, and that I would send her chocolate if she would! In the email, I also commented on the other photos she had sent, and, among other things, I told her that the above photo of me was HORRIBLE and that I hated it.
She promptly emailed back saying that she would discuss it with our other friend who had also been in the "long, long ago" photo, and they would let me know.
I was left to agonize over the outcome of their decision....
Finally they emailed, with this conniving and utterly unkind bargain-
I could post "long, long ago" if I promised to send them both chocolate...
AND post that AWFUL picture of me!
I was horrified and again tried my usually successful pleading skills...but this time to no avail. They were determined to make me post it.
Enough said.
(amazingly enough, I still love them both dearly....and will return the *unkind* favor if the opportunity ever comes my way. =))

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday {6}

::Quick Berry Cream Dessert::
-2 T. plain gelatin
-1/2 cup cold water
-1 cup milk
-1 quart cream
-3 T. maple syrup
-1/2 tsp. vanilla
-3 pints frozen berries
Mix gelatin with cold water. 
Heat 1 cup milk until almost boiling; add the gelatin/water mixture to hot milk to dissolve. 
Whip the cream until thick; add sweetener and vanilla. Mix cream mixture into gelatin/milk mixture and add frozen berries. 
Pour immediately unto serving bowl and chill for several hours until set.
Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday {4}

::Broccoli-Mushroom Penne Pasta::
-1 & 1/2 lbs. penne pasta (or other pasta- I used rice pasta)
-1/2 cup butter
-2 garlic cloves
-8 oz. can mushrooms
-1 small onion
-1 & 1/2 cups cooked & cubed chicken
-4 cups frozen broccoli
-1 tsp. basil
-1 tsp. oregano
1. Cook pasta to desired doneness
2. Melt butter in saucepan and saute' the garlic, mushrooms, & onion for about 5 minutes or until tender. Add chicken and continue cooking until all is hot.
3. Cook broccoli until heated through.
4. Toss sauteed mixture, pasta, broccoli, & herbs together and serve immediately.
(Note: Serves 6. This recipe worked out great for me this week as I was cooking for only five in our family =))



 Back in September, I had the fun of doing a duo senior photo shoot for two of my siblings, Mitchell & Allison, who graduated together this fall. It was a great experience. As they are my family and best was more of a party than a photoshoot!
Here are a few of the shots that we did with them together.
The glasses were Mitchell's idea...SO cool. 
Watch for their individual photo shoots, coming soon!

Reba on the Phone

Rebecca loves talking on the phone. With over half the family gone this past week, she's had lots of opportunities for phone chats with the missing family members. 
I thought these were too cute not to post. She is the queen of expressions. =)


Found out some amazing news this morning about this handsome brother of mine and what he is going to be doing today at 1:00pm. 
VERY exciting news. =)
Visit our family blog for the whole scoop, and go to the Bible Bee website to watch the finals live as Joshua and 6 other finalists compete for the $50,000 first place prize today at 1:00pm!! 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday {3}

 ::Breakfast Apple Coffee Cake::

~3/4 cup butter
~1 cup sugar
~3 eggs 
~3 1/4 cups flour
~1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
~3/4 tsp. salt
~1 1/2 cups milk
~3 1/2 cups apples (cored, peeled, & diced)
~8 oz. cream cheese, softened and cubed

~4 T. flour
~4 T. sugar
~4 T. butter, melted

In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add to creamed mixture, alternately with milk. 
Add apples and cream cheese and mix just until blended.
Pour into greased 9x13 inch baking dish.(I prefer glass) 
Mix topping ingredients and drop small spoonfuls on top of the cake.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
And there you have it---a bite of delicious, healthy, buttery, fattening goodness. 
Just don't focus on the fattening part and you'll be good.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday {2}

::Jalepeno Popper Burgers::


  • 3 jalapeno peppers (halve lengthwise, remove/disgard seeds, and chop finely)
  • 6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • cheese
  • hamburger buns, split
  • lettuce leaves
  • tomato slices
  • guacamole 
  • ketchup/mayo/mustard


  • In a small bowl, combine the bacon, cream cheese and jalapeno until blended.
  • In a large bowl, combine the garlic, salt, lemon-pepper, pepper and paprika. Crumble beef over mixture and mix just until blended. Shape into eight thin patties. Spoon bacon mixture onto center of four patties; top with remaining patties and press edges firmly to seal.
  • Grill burgers until done
  • Serve with toppings
        chefs notes: #1: For those of you that are wondering....I made four recipes for my family.  *smile*
#2: to use less jalepeno, leave seeds in. The seeds of a jalepeno have most of the zing. For example, I made this recipe times four, but only used 3/4 of a jalepeno, because I left the seeds in
#3: these are SO yummy. You will never be content with a "normal" hamburger again!

top of burger over jalepeno filling and edges pressed together with bottom half of burger


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday {1}

::German Chocolate Cake::

    • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1 cup butter, softened
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 4 eggs, separated
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2-1/2 cups cake flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ::FILLING::  
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1-1/3 cups flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    • ::GLAZE::
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 T. coconut oil (or butter)


  • Line three greased 9-in. round baking pans with waxed paper. Grease waxed paper and set aside. In small saucepan, melt chocolate with water over low heat; cool.
  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 4 egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
  • In a small bowl and with clean beaters, beat the 4 egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold a fourth of the egg whites into the creamed mixture; fold in remaining whites.
  • Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350° for 24-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  • For frosting, in a small saucepan, heat the sugar, milk, butter and egg yolks over medium-low heat until mixture is thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Stir in the coconut, pecans and vanilla extract. Cool until thick enough to spread. Spread a third of the frosting over each cake layer and stack the layers.
  • In a small saucepan, melt chocolate and oil; stir until smooth; drizzle over and down sides of cake. 
  Yield: 12-16 servings

{Note: this cake is a-m-a-z-i-n-g. I made it two weeks ago for my mother's birthday---yummy stuff! Be sure you either serve it to a large family or group because otherwise you'll end up eating the whole thing yourself! =)}