Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Kevin arrived yesterday on a standby flight. He came a day late, and had to wait for one extra plane in Salt Lake City, but it worked! I'm grateful to his friend who provided the ticket.

Today he popped out of his bedroom wearing this hilarious shirt:

One of his friends saw one online and decided to make up her own for him. Just in case you're not sure, there are TWO mistakes.

We went to the zoo today and made it home before the wind and rain started. Not a lot of rain, not a lot of wind, but still not something I wanted to be out in with the kiddos.

We might get snow tonight, the first since 2006.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A delicious day

I got up early for work as I always do and while I was working fielded a couple of calls from Kevin who is flying here on standby with Delta. We ironed out a couple of problems, but he wasn't sure if he was going to make it here today. I told him to call me later and tell me how things were looking.

Then I went back to bed.

He woke me up with his next call . . . at 10:00 am!! It was good sleep too, no crazy dreams like I have sometimes when I go back to sleep like that. Anyway, Kevin'll try a couple of flights tomorrow.

The girls wanted to have Camp Laffalotta this week while they're out of school. That made me feel good because we did that off and on this past summer and they must have enjoyed it. They decided they wanted to learn about chickens. Might have something to do with the four little friends in the coop in the backyard, huh? First stop was the library, of course, although I was disappointed with what I was able to find. I "sorted" the card catalog results to show me chickens->children's materials->at our library branch->on the shelf and still was able to find only about 1:3 items. I picked up a couple of nonfiction children's chicken books and a couple of picture books anyway.

Grandma treated us to lunch at the nearby McDonald's and since they have a play area, she brought her crossword puzzle and I brought my iTouch and caught up on email while the girls played.

Came home to find the mail lady had brought me a package all the way from Australia.
Soft and squashy . . . what can it be?

Tearing the paper off . . . .

. . . and found two very lovely hand-knitted face cloths!

Don't worry about the light area--that was my mom shining a flashlight on the design, trying to get it to show up better for the picture. Thank you, my dear friend L. They are lovely and I appreciate them and you.

Tonight for Family Home Evening we are writing thank you notes for the gifts we received for Christmas. I know lots of people don't write thank yous anymore, but I want my children to know that's the proper thing to do.

As I said, a delicious day.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010

Low key is how I'd describe it. The kids got up at around 7 am, so dh and I got to sleep in. They weren't tearing into anything and actually asked if they could look in their stockings. I guess we'd better make that clearer to them next year. :-)

We don't go overboard with piles of gifts, so they had a nice selection of games, toys, and clothes, but nothing crazy. My main gift was an iPod Touch from dh. I made sure he knew what I wanted. I spent the next hour trying to make an iTunes account. I have to assume their servers were overwhelmed with hundreds of thousands of other people doing the same thing I was, but boy--for a website whose main focus is separating me from my money $0.99 at a time, you'd think it'd be easier to register. In desperation I finally had to make an username and use that to register at iTunes. Thank goodness there was that option. I didn't want to actually buy anything, but the free apps I wanted can only be downloaded from iTunes. Poor system if you are anybody but Apple. I finally got set up and got the first apps I wanted and am having fun figuring out how to do things on the iTouch. And no, I didn't want an iPhone. This does most of the same things (except I have to have a WiFi connection for Internet things and I can't talk on it) but I can keep my current cell phone service at 40% of the cost of iPhone service. Plus I have a very cool phone number that I wouldn't want to give up.

We had a pretty traditional dinner of ham, potatoes, corn, cranberries, bread/butter, along with a coconut cream pie and a caramel pumpkin cake. It was just the six of us. We'd have loved to have a few family/friends, but everyone was pretty scattered this year and we were happy to be togther as we were.

Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

McDonalds downsizing

Yes, I'm talking about products that keep getting smaller. Do manufacturers think we won't notice? Or maybe they have done some "studies" that show consumers prefer the smaller size at the same price. Yeah, that's probably it.

Since my girls are out of school, I let them choose a place to go today. They wanted to go to the local mall, so we did. After window shopping a bit C wanted to buy a pretzel at one of the counters. She had $2 and you'd think that would be enough to buy a twisted piece of bread, but with tax they were about $3. She was pretty disappointed and asked if there was anything at the mall to buy for $2. I remembered McDonald's in the food court and thought they'd probably have their dollar menu sundaes. She was willing to pay for hers, but I bought one for each of the girls and a fruit and yogurt parfait for myself (trying to be good). When I opened the bag I almost laughed at the tiny size of the yogurt. The cup has gotten such a narrow bottom on it it practically fell over. There is at most 2/3 the yogurt there used to be in the old ones and although there was a good amount of frozen-munchy strawberries, there was exactly one blueberry in the fruit mix.

The girls' hot fudge sundae cups were about 20-25% smaller than before because the bottom half of the cup below the vertical ripples is about half the height it was before. The serving was actually a better size for my girls, but I just hate the feeling that McDonald's thinks it's getting away with something without my noticing. Am I the only one who notices these kinds of things?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Since there was a spectacular lunar eclipse visible in my part of the world last night, I asked dh to set the alarm on his cell phone to wake me up a little after midnight. He and I went out first to see if it was worth waking the children and it WAS! We got all three up and had them look at it. The younger two wanted to go back to bed so we kissed them and sent them on their way. The oldest wanted to stay up as we knew she would, so the three of us sat outside on the lawn chairs and watched the moon get darker and darker until all that was left was a little glowing hair on its head. Then even that was gone. The copper glow was something I never imagined seeing.

from this site

Being semi-old folks we didn't stay up the additional 72 minutes to see the moon start to uncover itself, but it was an event well worth an hour of sleep.

Oh, the younger two didn't even remember getting up!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The doc lowered the boom

Today I went in for my annual exam and got a (pleasant) lecture about losing some weight. It sounds like low carb is the way to go, although it wasn't suggested to get freaky about it.

I'm also supposed to consume more calcium and add a vitamin D3 supplement.

I'll give it a try and see how it goes.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Twinkling lights and shooting stars

Does this look exactly like I would decorate my tree? No? Here's why: my daughters put up and decorated this tree ALL BY THEMSELVES. I'm really happy about that!!Don't ask me why, but I have never enjoyed putting up a Christmas tree or decorating it. Starting a couple of years ago I was able to get my girls to help me with the task and that made it more fun for me. This year it was getting to be about the time to put it up, but we had one evening activity after another and it kept getting put off. Yesterday while I was working they asked if they could put it up themselves. When I had a break between students I went out to the storage shed and got the boxes and they took it from there. No help from me at all. (yippee) They were very pleased and so was I.

All that twinkling going on this morning reminded me of the Geminid Shower going on in the early morning hours. I happened to be talking to my one student who lives in the United States, so I told him I'd call him back in 15 seconds, ran to get my cell phone, and talked to him while I lay on the diving board in the back yard. In the five minutes I was out there I saw THREE shooting stars. Best ever!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

His fantastic day

Dh is the administrator of a large nursing home, one of the nicest here in town. They were having some problems with one of the nursing issues, so he invited a company expert here to help them figure out how to fix it. That request for help escalated to the company president's scheduling a visit to come along with the nursing expert!

Before dh took over the running of this particular home, it was losing money and morale was low. The company even thought of selling it just to be rid of it. The big boss had seen the numbers on paper and so he knew there had been a dramatic turn-around since dh arrived nearly two years ago, and he wanted to see the place for himself.

You can imagine the straightening and shining that has happened over the past month! The place always looks nice, but now it looks great. They even did things like buy a "new" antique set of china to put in the large china cabinet in the family dining room. The hard floors were newly stripped and waxed. They applied fresh paint to the curbs outside to denote the no-parking areas. Everything was subtle, but all together, the place looks great.

Yesterday was the big day. Dh's immediate boss who has been supporting the touch ups and making suggestions was there in both a support role as well as a "he's being examined too" way.

Dh said his presentation to the group of about 10 was spot on, lunch (a Southwest salad) was beautiful, the building shone, and the nursing staff got the direction they needed to solve the problem.

The president was very happy about what he saw, offered quite a handful of money to make other updates and cosmetic improvements to the building, told dh he was very, very happy to have him in his position and delicately asked if he was planning to stay for awhile (dh loves working for this company), and was overall very complimentary about dh's leadership skill.

Dh came home one happy man!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

On to a new phase of life

When we disposed of the old minivan, we also disposed of something we'd had for over eight years--carseats. I waited to get a new car until we could get away with only booster seats because I knew carseats would never fit in the back of a Honda Accord. Three boosters fit only with creative use. Two of them look like this:
and one is an odd European one I got in Germany about eighteen years ago. BUT they fit!!

We posted a notice at Church that we had carseats to give away and within a couple of weeks, both had been claimed. It was sad and nice at the same time. Our girls are growing up.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A new hobby?

I've been wanting to learn (relearn, I guess, since I did learn how when I was a Merrie Miss in 5th grade) how to knit for several years. One friend knitted me a wool muffler as well as a washcloth that I use daily and I wanted to learn now to make some for myself, and another friend posted pictures on line of some socks she made. Plus it's the hip thing now, don'tcha know?

A friend from Church and I kept trying to get together and failing, so I finally did it the modern way: I looked up a video on YouTube.
So now I can knit. I think purl comes next, but not on this washcloth! Actually, this washcloth is turning out pretty big, so it may become a kitchen cloth. It is straight knit left and right, nothing else. I know you can make a border by doing . . . something, but I don't know how to do any of that yet.

It's about twice as long now as when I took the picture. I have a lot of time on the phone talking to students each day, so I got quite a bit of knitting in today. I'll keep you updated on thes scintillating details.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Annual report--Hallelujiah!

Don't I have an entry like this every year? Tonight my mom, a friend, and I went to a local church for the 34th annual Messiah Sing-In. There was a small orchestra (about 25 I'd say), four wonderful soloists and . . . no choir. The audience was the choir, of course! We sat in large sections and the spirited conductor led us in the choir numbers. We sang eight of them and I sang two of them well. LOL Those would be the two I'm working on for two different choirs I'm singing with right now.

I can't wait for next year!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday from one end to the other

Dh dropped me off at the corner by the dentist's office this morning. I walked a short block so I could cross there, but it wasn't at the main crossing place, so no signal to help me on my way. Traffic was backed up for more than that block and I had to stand in between the waiting cars as I worked my way across the lanes of traffic. There are 8 lanes at that point. When I got into the dental office the secretary and hygienist told me they had been watching me and crossing their fingers for me. LOL

It turned out there might be something to account for my tooth tenderness and I was referred to an endodontist for further evaluation. I went ahead and had the two fillings replaced that needed it and I'll see what happens next week with the other doctor.

I walked the mile home and passed my optometrist. How convenient. When I got my very expensive glasses home a few weeks ago, I found two tiny places where the purple paint had chipped off the frame in the front. Honestly, no one would ever notice it unless s/he was really looking for it, but for what I paid, I want a perfect finish. So I stopped in and the new frame should be in late next week.

The rest of the warm, pleasant day (79F or 26C) I spend doing laundry, watching TV, cleaning out the chicken coop, and doing geneology.

Dinner is pizza tonight of course, because it's Friday. I wasn't happy with the way my last crust turned out so I looked up a new recipe. I followed the directions and the dough was still pretty soft despite adding a little extra flour, but I have to say it looked and tasted divine before going into the oven. This recipe might be my new favorite.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

1 car = a pain in the neck

Dh's Suburban needed a manifold gasket replacement (like I have ANY idea what that means . . . ) so Wednesday we took it to a guy we know who does that kind of thing out of his own family garage. I naively thought we'd pick up the car that night.
(Someone else's Suburban, but dh's looks like this.)

Nope. Looks like Saturday at the earliest. Today that meant driving the girls to the bus stop, then running dh to work so I could have the car to drive Mom to the doctor and pick up some origami paper at the craft store for Activity Day in the early evening. Dh got a ride home with someone.

I called the bus company here in town this morning to see if dh could take a bus home. Possible, but not easy. We live on the eastern outskirts of town and his office is on the northern outskirts. It takes three buses and over an hour, plus some walking.

Tomorrow I'll have dh drop the girls at the bus stop, then drop me at the dentist for an 8:00 appointment. Luckily it's only about a mile from home so I'll walk home afterward.

Saturday one of the girls is having . . . what did the woman call it? . . . not "IQ testing," but something like "cognitive ability testing." Whatever. I also have Stake choir practice for our Stake Christmas program, so I'll get dd settled for the test, run to choir practice, then back to pick her up when it's done, then home.

I'm hoping by then the Suburban will be done and we can get back to two cars again. If not, we're going to have a problem on Sunday because my car holds only five people and our family is six. Two trips to Church?

It's making me realize how lucky we are to have two cars on a regular basis!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A couple of pictures to share

My twins' teacher is super-patriotic and we are enjoying all the ways the girls have benefitted from that. She has taught them the national anthem (The Star-Spangled Banner), they get an extra point on their charts for wearing red/white/blue to school, they memorized the preamble to the US Constitution, and for Veterans Day, they did a profile on a friend or family member who is in the armed forces. One of my twins profiled her oldest brother who is in the US Marine Corp and the other profiled her uncle who is in the US Navy. This picture is from the weekly newsletter:

A couple of Saturdays ago we went to a wonderful "Day in the Park" near the zoo here in town. It's an annual event with lots of games and activities for the children and music and such on stage for the families to enjoy. There are also displays and a few commercial booths. One of the booths offered a free family portrait and since we hadn't had a picture taken of the five of us in quite awhile, we decided to do that. It was just a quick photo by the park lake, but we were happy with it. Here we are on a busy Saturday in November:

Tonight's dinner is Baked Potato Soup. I just couldn't bring myself to use the full amount of fat, so I cut that down by a little more than half. Here's the picture from the recipe website:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Yippee! This is the first time I've fully funded my IRA (retirement account into which I can put $5,000/yr). It only took until November 30th do that. ;-) I hope to be done with it much earlier in 2011. Honestly, I don't know why I've been so lackadaisical about it in the past. I make only a very small salary, but we don't depend on that salary, so I should have been putting the $5,000 in there EVERY year.

You know that old saying about the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago and the second best time is today? I guess it applies. Anyway, I'm pretty happy about this accomplishment.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Some volunteer activities

I've gotten involved with several volunteer activities and thought I'd list them here:

Box Tops for Education coordinator for the girls' elementary school. The kids collect and turn in the printed coupons from General Mills packaging and the school gets 10 cents for each one. This involves sending out flyers promoting the project, collecting the coupons from each classroom, counting them, and submitting them on schedule at least twice a year.

Family History consultant for my ward in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I help church members with their family history and genealogy. Depending on need, I may go to their house or help them on Sundays at church. I use a lot. I have fun teasing apart my family history puzzles using that site.

I'm a co-leader for a semi-monthly activity day for 8-11 year old girls (and their friends) at my church. My church has Cub Scouts for the boys, and a church-grown program for the girls.

I'm a moderator for a parenting site. I moderate a sewing board, a home and garden board, and a Mormon board.

I'm a moderator for a couponing site called A Full Cup. Every week I enter data on the sales at a local grocery store and promote discussion of the best deals available. I love this site because it helps me feed my family for less.

I sing in my church choir. I wish it were a little more rigorous because although I'm not a great singer, I like to sing things that are a little more complicated. However, I'm grateful to the conductor and the time and enthusiasm he brings to the choir.

I think that's it for volunteering. I just started an ASL class that meets once a week. I used to know a bit of ASL and am hoping to remember it again.

Monday, October 18, 2010

In with the new and out with the old

I have a new car! It's a silver 2011 Honda Accord with black leather seats and it's really nice. The old car was a white 2000 Ford Windstar that looked like this except it had a sliding door behind the driver's door:The minivan was sold today, so we had about three weeks of being a three-car household. That's one more than we need, so we were glad to say good bye to the van.

I've driven a minivan for 21 years. Yes, 21. I had a 1989 Dodge Caravan for 14 years and this one for 7. After three weeks I'm getting accustomed to being so much lower on the road and having great maneuverability (sp?), but it was very, very strange at first.

The girls' three booster seats just baaaaaaaaaaaaarely fit in the rear seat. It's a squeeze and it's going to be a hassle until one of them is big enough to not need a booster. That should be about the time they graduate from high school, they are such slender little things. :-)

As you can see by the number of cars I've had in the past 21 years, I'm a buy-and-hold kind of gal and having this new car has thrown me for a loop. A pleasant one, but a loop nevertheless.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sister Wives

TLC network has a new show called Sister Wives. Yes, it's about a polygamous family. Right at the beginning the husband makes it clear they are not part of the LDS Mormons and points out that the relationship between their group and the LDS Church is like that of Catholics and Protestants. What I'm finding interesting is how some of their practices ARE like LDS Mormon practices. When they say prayers together as a family at night or before meals, they sound exactly like the prayers my own family says. I saw on the wall of one of the wives' apartment The Family: A Proclamation to the World, which was written and is distributed by my LDS Church.

A number of years ago when I was going to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, one of my classmates belonged to the same group the Sister Wives belong to. She told me they had most of the same programs our church did, and in fact, bought many of the church instruction manuals they used from MY church. I was really surprised! The FLDS Church you see on TV has a different doctrine all together and really has no connection at all to my church, and that was what I was more familiar with.

So it was weird to have this other polygamous church actually share some of our doctrine with us--but definitely NOT the doctrine on polygamy! No polygamy now or in the future, thank you very much! And dh agrees with that 1000%!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bountiful Baskets

Due to a snafu two weeks ago, this is my first fruit and veggie co-op basket in nearly a month. I actually had to buy produce at the store last week!

From back to front and left to right, this is what I got for $16.50:
5 lbs Idaho Russet Burbank potatoes
2 cantaloupes
2 1 lb boxes of strawberries
1 head of cauliflower
5 red peppers
3 artichokes
6 bananas
2.5 lbs of green grapes
5 tomatoes
8 Gala apples
7 plums
1 head of lettuce, not shown

I added up what these items would have cost had I bought them at the store this week, based on what I saw in the sale ads and in the produce department and the value of the fruits and veggies I picked up today would be about $44.35. Two items, one cantaloupe and one artichoke were extra because I helped with the distribution. See why I was a bit annoyed with myself last time when I missed the distribution?

Oh, and no offense to any Australian or Canadian readers ;-) but I'm delighted that with the exception of the bananas, every.single.item was grown in the United States of America!!! Just as an aside, did you know the USA has 5% of the world's population, but 20% of the arable land? No wonder we have such great food production and spend less on food as a percentage of our income as compared to citizens of almost every other country.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Our family addition x 4

Here are half our new family members. To tell the truth, I'm scared to death to have them! I've never really had a pet (only a dog for a couple of teenage years that I didn't have to take care of) and although I have lots of children, I know how to care for them. I don't know how to care for pets, chickens specifically.

I don't know if these are pets or food-producers. Probably both, as I hear the hens will be friendly and have their own little personalities as they get older. I can already see the Rhode Island Red (the one here, which belongs to E) is kind of a bossy one and likes to hog the food bowl. The Barred Rocks are supposed to be friendly and accomodating, so I hope they get their share.
The gray Barred Rocks are about three weeks old and the RIR and the one I'm not sure about (C's, pictured here) are about a week old. They have to grow quite a bit before we can expect to see any eggs. They say 18-20 weeks is about average. If so, that means we should be starting to see eggs around the first day of Spring.
S's chick is the same variety as mine--Barred Rock. She went to see a stage production of Charlotte's Web today, so her chick is named Charlotte. I'm going to find out how to say "chicken" in Korean, and if it is pronounceable to me, that's going to be my chick's name.Here are all the ladies eating dinner.

Oh what shall we do in the morning time?

I took these pictures of S at 7:00 am today. I knew she had gone out to ride her bike, but I was alerted by her loud singing as she cycled up and down the street. I felt like I had my own little cheerful, twittering song bird.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Here is my little Halloween quilt. I finished it in record time because 1) I wanted it done before October 1st 2) I wanted to put away the sewing cabinet and the supplies 3) I didn't want any UFO (unfinished objects) around that might languish and never be completed.

This is the front:
The back:
And the pretty purple binding:

Except for the binding, it was all done on the machine. The squares were pieced in long strips and sewn to the batting and backing all at the same time, and the sashing sewn on, then cut into 9 3/4" squares. The horizontal sashing was also done front and back as I sewed the squares together. When I was done sewing the blocks together, all I had left to do was apply the binding, as the sashing and quilting were done. It's not perfect, but I'm really happy with it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Explain this to me. Please.

My girls have about 28-30 pairs of socks amongst the three of them. [Say this in your best David Letterman voice] Here in my left hand I hold . . . TWENTY single socks. Yes, twenty. If my girls would find the other twenty singles, they would have a boatload of socks instead of scratching to find any to wear, let alone ones that sort of go with what they are wearing.

I don't tend to lose little things like that, so it's hard for me to understand. Ahem, unless it is a set of knitting needles and a ball of cotton yarn
still in the JoAnn bag that I bought so my friend could teach me to knit and I have no idea what happened to it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My meager harvest

Butternut squash was my big producer this year, and except for great basil, just about the ONLY thing I got. I haven't figured out how to grow in Arizona yet.

The odd thing is that when I micro-cook my butternuts I always notice a waxy coating that seems to melt once the squash gets hot. I assumed it was a protective wax coating put on by the processing place. NOT! The squash straight from the garden have it too! Aren't butternut squash smart to coat themselves with that?

Thses are 3 of the 5 I got from a few seeds I planted from a squash we ate around planting time.

I thought I'd have lots of fresh fruit to cut up for a party we're having this afternoon (last pool party for the year as the pool is already starting to cool off) as today is Bountiful Baskets pick up day. As I was pulling on my clothes at 4:50 this morning to go help with the distribution, I realized I didn't receive a confirmation email after putting in my order. Then I remembered that when I clicked on the "order now" button, I got a funny message, but still thought it was processing. They have emphasized over and over to click the "order now" button only once, or I will be charged for and will own more than one basket of produce. I did all that as I was heading out the door and didn't remember to check back when I got home.

I checked my account and sure enough, no order for today. Boo hoo. Now I'll have to go to the store and pay three times the price.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Early Halloween Party

Today the girls created a Halloween party in their room. I love it when they do that kind of thing!

First came Mummy Jaguar. That's "mummy" as in ancient Egypt, not "mummy" as in Australia or England.

Next came "Gost Bear," as the sign clearly reads. That's S's extremely favorite bear Cubbie dressed in a white undershirt and two white socks.

Traveling clockwise around the room we come to the Fortune Teller. I think the "crystal ball" and snake add a nice touch, don't you? That's Mummy Dog there on the right. I did have my fortune told and riches are predicted for my future.

Last, we visited Spiderman Lifeguard. Two years ago the girls went to Build A Bear Workshop and while C and S chose fluffy little dresses for their bears, E snagged a Spiderman costume for hers and could not be dissuaded. So her pretty pink bear wears a Spiderman outfit when she get dressed up.

I'm sure the burning question here is: What precipitated all this interest in Halloween on September 16th? Here is a teaser:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ick . . . shudder . . .

Arizona Bark Scorpion

Seven in the house in fourteen months.

Need I say more?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Humans should be able to . . .

One of the blogs I read nearly every day is The Simple Dollar. I really liked this entry regarding the start of college years.

My favorite quote is:
As Robert Heinlein put it, “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

I'll make it my checklist.

change a diaper, YES
plan an invasion, NO
butcher a hog, NO
conn a ship, NO
design a building, NO
write a sonnet, IF I HAD TO
balance accounts, YES
build a wall, YES
set a bone, IF I HAD TO
comfort the dying, YES
take orders, YES
give orders, YES
cooperate, YES
act alone, YES
solve equations, YES
analyze a new problem, YES
pitch manure, YES
program a computer, NO
cook a tasty meal, YES
fight efficiently, NO

Monday, August 16, 2010

First day of school

We've had a great summer and I wish it would go on a little longer, but school calls. Our school closed at the end of the last school year, but a bus from that school is being provided to the new school a mile away and across a busy main street.

I was surprised and really pleased to see the old pricipal (who is now a co-principal at the new school) out waiting for the bus kids today. It was a nice touch, I thought. She rode along with them to the new school.

C & E look a bit worried here, don't you think?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Camp Laffalotta: part final

Camp Laffalotta didn't go as well as I hoped this summer, but it was better than doing nothing. We learned about oceans, the solar system, dogs, dinosaurs, and now, finally, pioneers and ancestors. After our FANTASTIC visit to Nauvoo, Illinois, how could I let the summer finish without touching on pioneers and our family ancestors?

I checked out Little House on the Prairie and we've passed the halfway mark with my reading it to the girls. I have to laugh at how closely dh seems to be listening to the story when he happens to be around. :-) We listened to three of the others in the series on our trip and have already read a couple others, so we are just rounding out our experience with those books. I think we have just one left after this one, By the Shores of Silver Lake. Not my favorite one, which is probably why I've left it for last.

Today for lunch we are going to have:
Johnny Cakes

1 cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 Tbl butter
1 Tbl sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk
vegetable oil or shortening
maple syrup

1. Place cornmeal, salt, butter, and sugar in a mixing bowl
2. Boil the water in a covered saucepan and pour it into the bowl.
3. Add the milk to the bowl. Mix thoroughly with a spoon to make a smooth, thick batter.
4. Use a paper towel to coat a griddle and pancake turner with a light coat of oil.
5. Heat a frying pan and reduce the heat to medium.
6. Drop the batter by spoonfuls onto the hot griddle, like you would with pancake batter. Use a pancake turner to press each spoonful flat to about 1/2" thick.
7. Cook the cakes two at a time over medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side. The cakes should be crisp and slightly brown when done. Flip them a second time, if necessary.
8. Serve the cakes hot with maple syrup.

Hay-time Switchel

2 quarts water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/8 cup cider vinegar
1/2 tsp ground ginger

1. Heat 1 qt water in a covered saucepan. When the water is hot but not boiling, little bubbles will form on the side of the saucepan.
2. Stir in the sugar, molasses, vinegar, and ginger. Continue stirring and heating, but don't let the mixture boil. When all the ingredients have dissolved, turn off the heat.
3. Remove the mixture from the stove, and let it cool until it reaches room temperature.
4. When it is cool, add the rest of the water.
5. Pour the switchel into a pitcher and chill it in a refrigerator. Serve cold.

I wonder if we will be full or starving? Haha. That switchel looks too interesting to NOT try.

Here is a link to pictures of us in Nauvoo, Illinois:
link to pictures on Facebook

Edited to add pictures. The Johnny Cake batter wasn't nearly as thick as the recipe led me to believe it would be. It still made a nice eggless kind of pancake. The girls liked it. The switchel met with mixed reviews. We thought it was too sweet and would have cut the sugar by half.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


*I had a frustrating day at the doctor's office.
*S's filling that fell out was replaced quickly and easily and for FREE as it should have been
*When school starts for the girls I'm not going to be able to stay up late, get up early for work, then go back to bed for an hour or two. Those girls aren't going to get themselves off to school, are they? I'd better plan an earlier bedtime. :-)
*It's hot here in Arizona and we haven't had much in the way of summer rains.
*I'd like to visit Leigh in Australia and Sara in Germany and Michelle in Korea. That doesn't mean it's going to happen, but I can wish, right?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Super bargains

I'm back in the sale/coupon groove again after taking off for vacation. Couponing isn't really a casual hobby if you really want to save money. I don't just cut out a coupon here and there and take it off to the grocery store *if* I remember to. Nope, I have a system of a small file box of extraneous coupons and careful stacks of the Sunday newspaper advertising inserts in my office. I don't cut them out until I know I'm going to need them.

How do I know if I'm going to need them? I go to and I find out what coupons I'm going to need and where they are. THEN I cut them out of the advertising inserts or print them off the Internet. It's just easier that way. The extraneous coupons in my file come from the little blinking machines in the store, magazines, inside product packages, and previously printed off the Internet. I'd say 60-75% of my grocery store shopping is done by looking for a sale and also by looking for a sale and then matching a coupon to that sale to really get rock-bottom prices.

My first stop yesterday was at Fry's. It's a Kroger-family store.
Pineapples $1 each -$.50/1 mq x2 Fry's doubled each coupon to $1=FREE.
Brownie mix $2.49 each -$.75/2 doubled to $1, -$.75/2 ecoupon with a $1 bonus from the ecoupon company, -$1/1 Betty Crocker mq because I complained about a product's quality.

However, Fry's made a mistake in my favor. They charged me the regular price for the brownie mix so I marched myself (and three dds) right over to the customer service counter and asked for the correct price. For their mistake they gave me one box for free and refunded the difference. I walked out with the four items free and 28 cents extra in my pocket thanks to the coupons and the free item.

Albertson's was playing games this week. Hold on to your hat and I'll explain this one. Buy 10 Kellogg's/Morning Star/Keebler products for $3/each and get $10 off your order (=$2/each). Then you get a $10 Catalina coupon good on your next order at Albertson's (=$1/each). THEN you use coupons. I mostly had $1/2 mqs on the cereal and $1/1 for the Morning Star items.

I had coupons for all the other items as well, either Albertson's newspaper coupons or Albertson's coupons + mqs. My total for all of this plus 2 gallons of milk was a hair over $37 AND I still have a $10 Catalina coupon for my next trip.

So here are the ups and downs of this kind of shopping. The downside is that coupons tend to be on processed, packaged food. The pineapples were a rarity in the couponing world. Another downside is that on a trip-by-trip basis or even a weekly basis, the food I buy is lopsided. Lots of cereal this week. No soup, beans, eggs, and so forth. Because of that, I devote a lot of space to food storage. Over several months' time, it all evens out, but I have to be able to store it to have a balanced supply of food at any given time.

The upside is that my family likes processed food and I balance it with homemade bread, cheese and other dairy products, lots of fresh fruits and vegatables, and meat. The other obvious upside is that my cost for feeding my family is quite low and I always have lots of food on hand in the house.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


My girls are almost ready to go back to school. Yesterday C & E received letters from their teacher telling them what items to bring to school. Yes, they have the same teacher, which makes me quite happy. Having them in the same class last year really simplified things and I hope it goes well again this year. I'm waiting to see what S is supposed to bring. Dh and I went shopping last night to get as much of C & E's list as we could and got a few things that are probably going to be on S's as well.

The transportation letters go out today, so once we receive that we'll know where and at what time the bus will pick up the girls. This is their first time to be bus riders so they are pretty excited about it. I'm hoping the bus stop is no farther than the corner, eight houses away. Logically though, it would be on the other side of the main street coming in to our subdivision and I really hate having them cross that by themselves. We'll see what the letter says though.

Monday night I took the girls to Stride Rite to get shoes. All three needed new sneakers and two needed new dress shoes. We ended up with only four pairs because C didn't like the way the dress shoes "felt." Sigh. So I still have to find a sturdy pair of them for her somewhere. I refuse to get any frou-frou dress shoes that will wear out or fall apart in a couple of months, so I'll continue looking for something good.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

My sewing cabinet

This cabinet was custom-made for me years ago and it holds all my sewing supplies and some craft supplies. The bottom drawers hold fabric, although I need another place to put it since I want to organize it better and add to my stash. Inside the double doors are drawers and shelves to hold patterns, notions, and craft supplies.

Two of my favorite features are a small ironing board that glides out of the table to the left of the sewing machine, and a clipboard clip on the door that I use to hold me sewing instructions up where I can see them when I sew.