Sunday, December 18, 2011

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Bean soup from the freezer
Appetizer for party: Italian Veggie Dip



Thursday: Turkey noodle soup with dumplings (broth and meat left over from Thanksgiving)

Friday: Pizza

Monday, December 12, 2011

Weekend festivities

I had a fun end-of-the-week. Thursday night was the the evening Relief Society meeting and we made cards to be sent to military members who are away from their families this Christmas. They might be overseas serving, or in a hospital either here or abroad. The cards will be delivered via the American Red Cross. I brought macaroons for the dessert table.

Saturday evening was C & E's piano recital and these pictures prove I did accompany them.

I practiced hours and hours to prepare a simple accompaniment that went with the girls' melody line. Did I say hours and hours?? Over several weeks?? I am so not a piano player, although I pretend to be for FHE and other such family events. I knew I could play with E pretty well because hers was easier, but at the last minute I asked the piano teacher to accompany C. But when it came time to introduce her piece, he gave me that puppy-dog look and I changed my mind again and played with her. I had to drop a few notes but it went better than I expected.

The girls were cute and the music was great. They went in order of skill, so my girls were near the beginning and culminated with a 15 year old that is already a wonderful piano player. The teacher is a senior in high school and my only dismay is that he'll be off to college in less than a year. We'll never have this kind of sweet deal again when it comes to piano lessons (good price, he comes to the house, the family loves him). Here he is with E.

I brought macaroons for the dessert table. :-)

Sunday night was our ward's annual Christmas music and stories. The children sang first and it just about brought tears to my eyes it was so pretty and perfect. They sang "Angels We Have Heard On High." Ward members were asked to present favorite Christmas memories and they ranged from traditions in a Mexican/American family to a Christmas in the military in Afghanistan, interspersed with singing Christmas carols. Outstanding. Oh, I brought macaroons for the dessert table. LOL And when Conor got home he asked if there were any left. They were a hit!

This morning I got up and checked my email and found a forgotten picture from someone's camera. It's Kevin's graduation day 18 months ago. Today he leaves the Brazil MTC to go to Florianopolis to start the proselytizing part of his mission.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Corn dogs, chips, guacamole

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Spicy Sausage and Peppers

Wednesday: Pumpkin pancakes and maple syrup

Thursday: Lentil Minestrone Soup

Friday: Pizza

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Messiah! (and some weight loss)

I know, I know, I write that every year. It's because I like participating in our community Messiah Sing Along so much! Actually, last night I had two musical performances to enjoy.

C and E's class sang "holiday" songs (3, 4, 5th graders each sang a group of songs). Tonight are the K,1,2's so we'll pick up S's class then.

Right after than was the annual community Messiah sing-along at a church very near ours. Because Conor is here, dh and I were able to send the girls home with him and he and I go to it together. He'd never been to one. Of course, with his being in the Tenor section and my being in the Alto we couldn't see each other, let alone actually sit together. :-) I ran into the several LDS ladies that I always see there. The whole thing is fun, although a little stressful when we're coming up to the songs I know I used to always blow even after months of practice in Gallup's choir. Haha, I guess that is part the the fun too, laughing with the other ladies when we all blow it!

I've hit a milestone in my weight loss; now I weigh what I did when Kevin was born. LOL It's actually been a number of years since I've been down to that and I'm at exactly the halfway point, 22.5/45 lbs lost. In fact, last Saturday the first person who didn't know I've been dieting noticed my weight loss! It's taken just under 4 months, so I assume it will take me another 4 to get to my goal. I've had a change in mindset about losing weight. Eight months seemed much too long to wait before, but now it seems like a change in my habits instead of a hurry-up-and-get-there kind of thing. And since I started in August, I should reach my goal before bikini season. Haha, JK!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Slow Cooker Maple Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

Tuesday: Baked potatoes topped with chili and sour cream

Wednesday: Three Cheese Manicotti

Thursday: Egg and "sausage" breakfast casserole

Friday: Pizza

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gift for the neighbors

I'm not a great gift-giver. I can never think of anything and when I do, I don't know how to present it. My next door neighbors have a son who plays with my daughters a lot and they really like him. Guess what? The mother is the "gifty" type!

In the past I've managed to come up with appropriate Christmas gifts which have included a small flannel quilt for the son and a Starbuck's gift bag for the mom.

Today I came across a family gift on a blog. Doesn't this look fun? I think it would be the perfect family gift for them (along with a batch of The Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls like last year).

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Menu Plan Sunday

Monday: Split pea soup, cornbread

Tuesday: Chicken & biscuits

Wednesday: Spaghetti, spinach salad, garlic toast

Thursday: Quiche--maybe with a pastry crust, carrot sticks

Friday: Pizza, maybe Thanksgiving pizza?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

What a great holiday! We had a fine selection of family here for bits and pieces of the week. Our family gets along really well and it all was a pleasant, intriguing, and fun week.
This picture shows a number of families: my mother with two of her three children, me with my husband and our three daughters, my brother with his wife and child, my dh with his two older sons, including the one who is living with us and the other one with his wife and her service dog.

I'm putting some pie pictures here because some of my Korean friends were wondering about pumpkin pie.
This is what the pumpkin pie looked like once it was cut:
It was a little chunkier than it was supposed to be because I used "homemade" pumpkin instead of canned. Here is a picture of what it was supposed to look like:
Sorta the same, right?? Haha, the taste was the same because I used the same recipe that is on the Libby's website. Mine just had a little more texture. :-)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Menu Plan Sunday

Monday: Gingery carrot soup

This turned out to be very mild and needed an additional punch of salt and pepper. The sour cream added to this was delicious.

Tuesday: Korean Spicy Pork

Wednesday: Pizza (not sure if this will be homemade as usual, or Papa Murphy's, due to the large number of guests)

Thursday: Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, homemade rolls, cranberry sauce
Dessert: Pecan pie bars I cut the margarine in the crust back to 1/2 cup and it was fine. I substituted walnuts for the pecans and overall this is a fantastic dessert!
Dessert: homemade apple pie from the freezer
Dessert: MC turtle pie from the freezer
Dessert: MC peach pie from the freezer
Dessert: Pilgrim Hat Cookies that the girls are going to love making

Friday: Pulled turkey sandwiches on whole wheat buns

Saturday: Turkey Lasagna Soup

The first visitor has arrived . . .

It's my step-son Conor. He had a two day bus ride, but arrived in good humor and ready for our traditional big Sunday waffle lunch. He said he was up to his eyeballs in Subway sandwiches during the trip. Conor is planning to stay awhile and we are happy about that.

Yes, I know he's a bit out of focus, but rather than have him pose again, I'll just post it as is. :-)

We had a little scare this week when one of our chicken girls was sick. We kept her isolated in a cage we made out of a plastic storage container topped with an inverted laundry basket for two days. She got better and now you can hardly even tell she was sick. It's the Rhode Island Red in this picture. Doesn't she look healthy?

Monday, November 14, 2011

I'm happy about the coming holiday!

Thanksgiving (a week from Thursday) is one of my favorite holidays for two reasons: little focus on commercialism and big focus on family and friends.

Bill and I are especially looking forward to Thanksgiving this year because his oldest son and new wife are coming to visit. I was trying to remember the last time I saw his ds and it was when he returned from Iraq with the USMC and that would have been about 4 years ago. W and his wife L have been married less than two years and although I have talked to her on the phone, we have never met. Dh says she is smart and well-spoken, and I agree.

The three little girls are going to love the visit because they always love to have company anyway, but in addition to W & L, they'll be bringing L's service dog, Sandy. We'll have to get some firm rules in place about not bothering the dog when she's working, but the girls will think their dreams have come true.

I'm already working on the Thanksgiving menu. It features turkey. :-)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Hot dogs in blankets with carrot sticks and applesauce.

Tuesday: Sticky broiled chicken (The recipe is at but they are having problems with their system and I can't access it there. Luckily the paper copy is in my cupboard. :-) )

Wednesday: Taco bake

Thursday: Italian pasta and bean soup

Friday: Pizza

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Double treat for me this week

On Thursday my ladies' group at church is having a pressure cooking demonstration. I've had two pressure cookers over the years. One went into the yard sale after I was thisclose to not getting my dinner out of it (ultra-tight lid) and the other was a cool Brazilian one I had that over time stopped sealing. No seal, no pressure.

Everyday Food Storage has a video that shows how easy it is to use a modern electric pressure cooker. If I can figure out where I could store such an appliance, I think it will appear on my Christmas wish list.

The double in this treat is that the same page has a recipe for low-fat harvest pumpkin brownies made from food storage items. I am so into pumpkin this time of year! In fact, when I make these brownies I'll probably have to call them Jack 'O' Lantern brownies because that is where the pumpkin I'm using came from. Let's just say the day after Halloween 20 neat packages of homemade pumpkin puree made it into the freezer. ;-) This recipe uses bean puree instead of added fat, so I guess that makes it a triple for me.


So check out this page for the brownie recipe and a video on how to use an electric pressure cooker.

Linked to Everyday Food Storage.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Cheddar & Bacon Fondue Food storage recipe

[This one turned out to be so-so. Won't make it again.]

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Orange-Cranberry Pork Roast with brown rice and vegetables

Wednesday: Ham and cheese egg rolls , plus extras for the freezer

Thursday: Cream of Harvest Soup from the freezer (didn't get to it last week) + biscuits

Friday: Pizza

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Activity Day again so soon?

I was sitting in church last Sunday and glanced at the announcements and saw another Activity Day scheduled for only a week after the last one. This is an every-other-week deal, not weekly!

I did the math and figured out the writer of the church bulletin probably saw that the second one in November would fall on Thanksgiving, which we obviously wouldn't be keeping, and decided to change the dates. A call to me to confirm would have been nice.

That said, I decided to just go ahead and move the schedule up a bit, so today my partner will give the lesson/lead the activity. I hope she comes. She forgot last time. When I was the assistant I was always afraid I'd do the same thing, but somehow never did!

Today is housecleaning day. The cleaning lady has the day off, so it is me, me, and me.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Chili in the Crock Pot, Cheese Twists

Breakfast: Sweet Potato Spice Muffins

Tuesday: Cream of Harvest Soup from the freezer


Thursday: Buffalo Chicken Fingers

Friday: Pizza

Friday, October 28, 2011

My Mediterranean breakfast

I've been threatening to post this for awhile, but was having problems getting the picture off the camera. Not that I can remember this particular incident, but years ago (about 32 . . . ) I got my friend Wayne to try some yogurt. Apparently I was unwise and gave him some plain yogurt. I don't even like that stuff normally, so I don't know why I would have done that, but word has it I did.

Unfortunately that put him into a yogurt funk and it was about 25 years before he tried it again. Happily, his wife or some other wonderful person gave him some of the stuff loaded with sugar and fruit and he rightly found it to be quite a treat.

Lately I've fallen in love with Greek-style yogurt. It is super thick and creamy, with a nice protein and calcium content since all it really is is strained regular yogurt.

I tried this slow cooker yogurt recipe because I can make half a gallon of yogurt at once. With that quantity I don't mind draining out some of the liquid because I still have a number of servings even once a lot of the whey is gone.

To strain it, I put a thin tea towel in a colander and just dumped in the finished half gallon of yogurt. I let it stand for 3 or 4 hours, then scraped it into a container and refridgerated it. Delicious and cheaper than buying it in the store!

The day I took this picture I was feeling especially Mediterranean with my figs and honey drizzled over my Greek-style yogurt. It was one of my favorite breakfasts of the past month or two.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Activity Day--DONE

Yesterday I got the vague idea to have a Halloween party for Girls' Activity Day today. We did one last year, but the other leader was in charge and there weren't really enough activities planned to keep the girls' interest, so I wanted to make sure that didn't happen.

There are about 7-10 girls who come on a regular basis, including my three, so I decided to do it on a rotating activity station basis. We started off with 3 gathering activities:

*Reviewed the second Article of Faith ("We believe that men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam's trangression.")
*Matched up Halloween riddles that were divided in two and pinned to girls' backs
*Chewed up sour candy while keeping an absolutely straight face

Then I introduced the 3 activity stations:

*Don't Eat Pete game*Writing and decorating letters to our ward's 3 missionaries
*Making "grave yard" desserts (a cup with chocolate pudding, crushed Oreos, an oval cookie with RIP written in decorating gel) and baking pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

The whole thing was an awesome success!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Slow Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup

Tuesday: Impossibly Easy Taco Pie (A classic Betty Crocker recipe)

Wednesday: Toad in a Hole (egg broken into a hole in a slice of bread, baked or pan-fried)

Thursday: Thai Peanut Chicken and Noodles

Friday: Spooky Apple Pizza

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Meal Plan Sunday

I'm going simple this week!

Monday: Spaghetti, steamed broccoli

Tuesday: Chicken patty sandwiches

Wednesday: Egg & "sausage" casserole. Dh and I bought some sausage-flavored TVP and we're curious as to how it tastes. In addition, we have a lot of bread in the freezer that needs to be used, so there will be a bread component to this as well.

Thursday: Southwest Rice and Beans

Friday: Pizza

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Kevin's last day of his old life

I'm feeling reminiscent today because tomorrow Kevin starts his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is 19 1/2 years old and when his 2 year mission is complete, he will have spent about 10% of his life on his mission. 10% is a tithe, an appropriate amount for church.

Kevin was my happy surprise baby. I had already adopted 2 lovely children and thought my family might be complete. I was really very happy with the children I had. I came back from living in Europe and was staying with my parents when I began to suspect I might be pregnant. Sure enough, I was. By the time he was born, I was living in Europe again and he was born there.

He was a cheerful, blond baby. He walked early--9 months--and climbed even earlier. Talking . . . that was another story! He was really late with that.

He used to tie things up, Barbies in particular. Upside down. He used to get in H and D's personal space every chance he could and since he wore them down, they'd let him. Here he is with both of them:

He was really interested in anything novel and that may be why he liked tying things up. I often wondered what his . . . um . . . "skills" would lead to as an adult. I'm surprised, to be honest. He turned out to be really easy-going. Not what I expected at all.

Tomorrow he officially starts his mission in Provo, Utah at the Missionary Training Center. While he's there he'll learn how to be a missionary and how to speak Portuguese. And I'll learn how to spell "Portuguese." I'm really happy for him.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Leftovers (we have a fridge full of them)

Tuesday: Leftovers again, plus will make quesadillas as we have a lot of tortillas on hand

Wednesday: Mexican scramble with peppers and black beans

Thursday: Chicken fingers

Friday: French bread pizza

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Happy birthday to dh

Today we celebrated dh's birthday. It started last night when we went to an outdoor outfitter to choose a new and much larger tackle box for him.

In honor of his birthday he took the day off. His company is generous with days off and he has a number of days to burn. Since dh is going hunting later this year in an unfamiliar area, he took the day to drive the Suburban up into the area and scout it out.

While he was gone I went shopping for his requested dinner which was homemade hamburgers and pasta salad. He wanted to make the burgers himself, so I just bought the meat for him. I made a fancy pasta salad with homemade Italian dressing to marinate the pasta, cheese, pepperoni, peppers and cucumber dices. It was delicious.

The other project was his birthday cake which was a magnificent six pound German chocolate cake with coconut pecan filling. All made from scratch, of course. Ha--I hope he doesn't expect made from scratch every year. Next year will probably be Betty Crocker cake and canned frosting. :-)

The only real surprise for him was the girls' gift which was a portrait of themselves.

Happy birthday, dh--I love you very much.

Monday, October 3, 2011

5000 Days Project: Two Brothers

I watched this show yesterday afternoon. The photographer followed 60 children for 5000 days. The particular one I watched was about two brothers and their relationship with each other starting at ages 8 & 10. My favorite part was seeing the older brother on his mission. It seemed a lot like what Kevin might experience on his mission, although that boy was in Chile and Kevin will be in Brazil.

Speaking of Kevin, because his mission starts next week and his visa has not yet been issued, he'll be headed to Provo, Utah to learn Portuguese and how to be a missionary, instead of going directly to Brazil to get that training there. He said either way was fine with him and he's planning to have lunch on the BYU campus one afternoon and invite anyone who wants to say hello to come eat with him. Great way to see pals in one sitting. Wish I could be there too. :-( But :-D that he's ready to start his Great Adventure.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Chicken/Black bean enchiladas (leftovers)

Tuesday: Albondigas Meatball soup (recipe from a grocery store mailer)

Wednesday: Quiche. Still trying for this one and haven't served it in the past two weeks despite having it on the menu!

Thursday: Chicken Tortilla Casserole from the freezer

Friday: Pizza The missionaries are coming for dinner--they're 20 year old guys, so I'd better make a lot!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Things I Know

*It's nice to have a little work-sanctioned break from work to chat with a friend.*

*When Culver's sends you a promotional email it's hard to think about sticking to your diet.*

*Seeing someone's online signature that says, "Being overweight is hard. Losing weight is hard. Choose your hard." makes you glad to have stuck with the diet and have lost 10 pounds so far.*

*It's awesome to hear my daughters play little songs on the piano.*

*It's even awesome to hear them screech out a few notes on their violin/violas.*

*Finding warm eggs in the nest makes the "chicken clean up duty" all worthwile.

*Warm days and cool nights are perfect weather.*

*I'm glad my friend Leigh uses this posting format now and then so I can copy her.*

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Homework & piano practice

You will very, very seldom hear me complain about being a mother. I'm so happy to be one that I don't think it's right to complain. HOWEVER, can I just say a few words about homework and piano practice? Time-consuming! I spend most of the time from the end of work at 4:30 until nearly bedtime simultaneously making dinner, listening to the daily chatter from the girls, and cajoling them to do their homework. We eat dinner in the middle somewhere, then back to homework and piano practice. Some of the girls need very direct and firm supervision to get these things done and it's hard to keep on them and do everything else.

Okay, so there.

Now the good part: we have two little piano players in our house! In fact, they are going to each play a piece in the Primary Talent Show this Thursday. Each piece will be performed in sixty seconds or less. Maybe a little bit more next year, but I'm pleased as Punch they are able to perform this year.

And about that homework? I see my daughters reading more each day, learning two-digit multiplication, and learning parts of sentences. Cool. And to think doing homework reinforced it all!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

One of my favorite apostles told us how much Heavenly Father loves us

This is from the women's general Relief Society meeting on Saturday

Menu Plan Sunday

Monday: Skillet Chicken Nachos

Tuesday: Asian-style Shredded Pork Wraps

Wednesday: Quiche that we didn't get to last week because we dined at the leftover buffet instead

Thursday: Chicken enchiladas I made and put in the freezer two weeks ago

Breakfast: Crunchy Granola Wedges


Thursday, September 22, 2011

A drive up the mountain

A couple of Saturdays ago dh and I joined the Mercedes Benz Club of our city and drove 30 miles up a nearby mountain. It was 97(36) degrees here in the valley and 67(20) up there. Delightful!

On the way up we stopped at a lookout and took pictures. This is overlooking our city.Aren't we cute?

At the top we stopped at a German-themed restaurant and had lunch. I had a veggie sandwich with German potato salad and red cabbage. Unfortunately we sat at a table with a man from the club who wouldn't stop talking! Dh and I love to talk and talk to each other, but we barely got a word in edgewise, let alone a chance to talk to each other. Oh well! We'll know which table to avoid next time!

Since dh's car is a convertible, we had the top down. I had a ponytail holder and a headband and kept my hair under control. I had sunscreened my face, but forgot about my upper chest. What a sunburn! First one this year.

It was great to get out with dh and enjoy the beautiful weather and each other's company.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Getting ready for his mission

As you know, Kevin is getting ready to leave on his mission. He is going to Brazil in October or November or December. It's a bit fuzzy there because his visa hasn't been granted yet, so he doesn't know exactly where he'll get his language training. Unlike some groups that send missionaries to foreign countries, the LDS Church only sends missionaries legally and to countries that have invited missionaries. If permission is withdrawn for any reason, the missionaries are too. Everything is done very much on the up and up. If the visa comes quickly, he'll go to Brazil for his language training. If his mission start date comes and there is no visa, he'll go to Utah to start his language training.

We have quite a number of Portuguese speakers on our family, both native and as a second or third language, so I can imagine there could be lots secret Portuguese speaking going on at family reunions. Gotta have one of those one of these years.

I went to the post office to get my supply of stamps for sending mail to Brazil. 98 cents to all foreign countries except Canada and Mexico, which are 80 cents. I asked to buy some aerograms but either they are not made any longer or that post office didn't have any. I remember going through a lot of those when all my friends were on missions.

Kevin seems pleased to be headed off on this wonderful adventure. Love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are his first reasons for going, but the adventure part is good too. ;-)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Menu Plan Sunday

Monday: Tortilla soup from the freezer, biscuits

Doesn't this look good? Molten Chocolate Espresso Lava Cakes (with Postum powder, not coffee)

Tuesday: Chicken Tikka Masala Edited to add: I can't say we liked this one much. Too cinnamon-y and garam masala-y for everyone but the kid who likes cinnamon in everything. She had seconds.

Wednesday: Quiche from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest Now that it's cooler the chickens are laying more eggs so it's time to get back to Wednesday egg dinners.

Thursday: Chicken Tortilla Casserole I have a similiar chicken enchilada casserole but I haven't made it in several years. This one looks a little lighter and that's how we're eating these days.

Friday: Pizza

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Girls' Activity Day

Every two weeks I am responsible to put on a 75 minute activity program for the Church girls ages 8-11. I'm supposed to have an assistant but I don't. Every time I feel stressed out as I try to decide what to do for the girls. I have a booklet that has goals the girls are to accomplish before their 12th birthday. I get good ideas from the book, but I've cherry picked my favorites already, as I've had this position for a year and a half.

Today was Activity Day and when I woke up this morning I still didn't know what I was going to do for the girls' lesson/activity and no idea what the snack was going to be.

I got online and came across a site dedicated to Activity Day. Reading through it gave me the idea that we should be working on one of the Articles of Faith each time, as the girls need to memorize all thirteen before they turn twelve. I can do that.

We worked on the second Article of Faith and I read them an illustrated story about Adam and Eve and talked about why LDS babies are not baptized and why some other churches believe they should be. I reminded them they should always be respectful of others' beliefs when explaining why we believe the way we do.

The blog gave me an idea to teach about properly setting a table. I got out samples of all our standard and nonstandard table utensils and showed them to the girls as I put them in place and they drew pictures of the proper table setting. That kept their hands busy while I talked and demonstrated.

When I went to the store today to pick up some milk I still didn't know what our snack was going to be. When I saw the beautiful strawberries on sale, I decided to serve strawberry shortcake. As soon as I got home I mixed up a cake and got it into the oven. Thank goodness for Betty Crocker.A tub of whipped topping and Grandma to clean, slice, and sugar the strawberries and we were set. It was a hit with all but one of the eight girls.

Once again another successful Activity Day has passed. My own girls were really sorry when everyone left and wanted "the party" to have lasted longer. Success!

Monday, September 12, 2011

It didn't turn out like I thought it would . . . .

. . . it turned out better!

The day before our cleaning lady was supposed to come in June, I ran into her at swimming lessons and she told me a fishy story about not being able to clean our house because her car wasn't working and she was using her father's. She said she was thinking about taking the summer off of housecleaning and I said that was okay because I had already told her I might take the summer off too because it was too hard to keep my girls out of her way or to keep them out of the house for the 4 hours she took to clean.

Fast forward to the first day of school. I saw her as she dropped her ds off for Kindergarten and said hello. I asked if she was going to clean for me again because my house was missing her. She was sort of non-commital so I didn't push it.

A couple of weeks later I wrote her an email asking if she was going to come back because if not I needed to find another cleaning lady. She wrote back a long story about her father's having macular degeneration, he was going to have an operation, she'd be busy taking care of him, and she didn't see herself returning to cleaning houses any time soon. I wrote back that I'd find another cleaning lady and good luck in the future.

One week later . . . I saw a big, fresh-looking sign in the neighborhood advertising cleaning services. I pulled out my cell phone to check the number and, you guessed it, it was her number! I saw several other signs as I drove here and there in the neighborhood.

So, what is the deal?
1. She doesn't like to clean for us for whatever reason.
2. She wanted more money but was afraid to ask.
3. She's a big liar.

Well, #3 for sure, but who knows about the other reasons.

A week later we were talking to some friends from Church and one of them said he and his elderly wife had a great cleaning lady who had been with them for a couple of years. Now, this man is functionally blind and his wife has very limited range of motion, so we wondered if they really knew if the cleaning was good or not, but we had him pass our contact information on.

The gal came out and gave us a price for her and her daughter to clean our house together. It was about 50% higher than we'd been paying, but we decided to try her out anyway and see if she was worth the extra 50%.

Way. As in "way worth the extra 50%." She pulled out the sofas to vacuum, she cleaned the baseboards, she wiped the vent covers. She was meticulous. She and her daughter spent a total of about 9 hours cleaning and didn't stop to run out for a coffee or pick up a child from school the way our first one did.

So, I think we have found ourselves a new cleaning lady. Our house appreciates it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Menu Plan Sunday

Does this menu look familiar? It should! Last week was kind of a crazy week and we ended up eating leftovers and even ~gasp!~ frozen pizza on the night my mom and I had dinner with our church ladies. So here it is again for a new week:

Monday: Easy Chicken and Rice
Tuesday: John Bizetti (pasta, beef, tomato, onion and pepper, and cheese bake)
Wednesday: Potato and Egg Burritos Make and freeze extras.
Thursday: Chicken enchiladas
Friday: Pizza

Friday, September 9, 2011

Such a busy week!

The week started out with a holiday--Labor Day and a BBQ and swim with friends. But any mother knows a "holiday" with the kids home isn't a holiday for the parents, satisfying though it may be.

I had lots of work this week which is always nice when the paycheck comes. My second job involves being paid to think. I smile when that comes into my mind because I remember when I was little my brother L announced to the family that when he grew up he wanted to get paid to think. The job involves my listening to sound files of foreign people speaking their best English while I determine where their performance falls on a scale of 0-3 or 0-5. Lots of thinking, believe me. However, the week was kind of off-kilter due to the holiday and an apparently huge testing volume. All week there were pleas from the company for anyone with any extra time to work to please sign themselves up. I added one shift that way, but my family time is sacred, so I resisted their efforts to get me to sign up for Saturday or Sunday.

All week the girls were working on Student Council campaigns for E and C. E ran for vice-president and C ran for treasurer. In the end neither won, but they had a good week making campaign T-shirts, pin-on campaign buttons, posters, and writing their campaign speeches. Dh was their main supporter in doing those things and he really put a lot of kindly effort into it. He's a great dad.

The girls also started orchestra at school. Fourth and fifth graders can learn to play the violin, viola, or cello. E chose the violin and C the viola. Perfect. We went to the music store on Saturday and rented the instruments and bought lesson books. We think it's a great benefit of the PTA which pays for the orchestra teacher. Oh, the orchestra teacher happens to be the mother of the girls' piano teacher and she's the former Relief Society president in our ward.

I have a little vacation this weekend because Monday is a Korean holiday, Chuseok, which is Korean Thanksgiving. That means no work for me at that job from Sunday afternoon until I start again Tuesday afternoon. Kind of the opposite of the other job--I hate when the paycheck comes without those two days on it, but I sure do enjoy the little break and time with the kids.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Easy Chicken and Rice
Tuesday: John Bizetti (pasta, beef, tomato, onion and pepper, and cheese bake)
Wednesday: Potato and Egg Burritos Make and freeze extras.
Thursday: Chicken enchiladas
Friday: Grade school election day--dinner out to celebrate the end of the campaign

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Corn Dog Muffins
Tuesday: Six-Layer Dip (didn't get to it last week)
Wednesday: Ginger Maple Pancakes with scrambled eggs on the side. In addition I'll make up some of the dry mixes to have on hand for later breakfasts.
Thursday: Spicy Bean and Cheese Tacos (or burritos or tostadas), rice, finger veggies I'm going to double this recipe to put extras in the freezer in the form of burritos.
Friday: French bread pizza

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Curly hair came into my family by marriage

I come from a straight-haired family. The only wavy hair came from perms that both my grandmas had, as well as a well-intentioned one my brother Mike got in college. (Sure wish I had a picture of that.)

So marrying a curly-haired guy and having two curly-haired daughters is a bit of a surprise to me. I'm still kind of in awe at how hair that any sensible person knows *should* be straight can take those wild twists and turns and come out in such a gorgeous display.

Last night after E's shower I combed her hair out and sent her to bed. This is how her hair looked this morning:
I love that my family genetics now have curly hair amongst them.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Ham and Cheese calzones. I'm using this recipe as inspiration although I'll probably use fresh yeast dough.
Tuesday: Chicken pattie sandwiches
Wednesday: Quiche with mashed potato crust (Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook)
Thursday: Six-Layer Dip
Friday: Fresh Veggie Pizza

Date night with dh

Twice a year our church has a "Stake Conference" which is the parent organization of about 8-10 "wards" or congregations. We meet at a different church building than our own because it is bigger and can accomodate the large crowd that comes on Sunday morning. The highlight for me is the Saturday evening session that is for just adults. It is smaller and more personal. The bad part is there is no babysitting available, so dh and I have not attended it together since C & E were born more than nine years ago. I usually go, or in the past year I have taken my mom.

Imagine my delight when my mom told me she'd watch the girls so dh and I could go together!

So this is how our evening went:

*Adult session of stake conference
*Auto show at a local diner--classic and/or cool autos--come park your car if you want to participate
*Ice cream at Culver's. It's new in town. I had a chocolate custard with brownie bits and Reese's Peanut Butter cups in mine. It was the size in the picture below and I almost couldn't finish it. I'll be back. Very occasionally. And it reminds me Wayne owes my girls and me a frozen custard in Nauvoo. ;-)

Dh and I had almost forgotten how much we like to go out together. I'm going to hit Mom up more often for her babysitting services so we can do it often.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The week went well

We had a busy week. You'd think the week a stay-at-home mom's children go back to school would be the week of ease and luxury, but that would be someone else, not me.

I have one part time job that I do five days a week year 'round. I have another part time job I do as needed for them and as it fits my schedule. They are both ESL related. During the summer I worked only about three times for the second company--just enough to keep up with what was going on and enough so they didn't forget about me.

However! When I filled out my proposed schedule last month, I told them I'd work every Monday-Thursday for four hours in the morning. They picked me up for almost every shift I volunteered for which is nice that they still remember me and nice when the paycheck comes. However, it gave me 8.5 hour work days, which I realize most people have, but in addition to that, I am also a full-time mother and homemaker and am responsible for all the breakfasts, dinners, laundry, cleaning (not that I did much of that, but I did do some :-) ), shopping, taking my mom to her appointments and children to dental appointments, filling out all the school paperwork, and taking myself to the doctor. That was just this week.

Why do I work at a paying job? Retirement fund. New windows. Ceiling insulation. Hearing aids so the hubs can hear me (he might be sorry about that one). Mission clothes for ds.

I am very, very lucky to have two jobs that allow me to work from home in my pajamas. A lot of people want a "work from home" job and there are a lot of scam ones out there, but mine are legitimate and often enjoyable.

Next week's goal: ALL homework completed and ALL piano practicing completed!

Monday, August 15, 2011

We survived the summer!

In case you are wondering how it is that I have both bus pictures AND school pictures, it's because dh and I followed the bus in the car. Hehe.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Lloyd's BBQ beef sandwiches
Tuesday: Burrito casserole from the freezer
Wednesday: Taco Soup + some for a new mom I know
Thursday: Slow cooker roast with veggies
Friday: Pizza

Dessert: Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

Friday, August 12, 2011


Today is the first day of a new diet. Or am I supposed to say "way of life"? I REALLY have to lose some weight and I'll be honest that although my initial goal is 10% of my body weight, I need to lose more than that.

I started on the No S Diet about a month ago and I guess I manipulated it so much that I gained two pounds in three weeks. Bad me.

This time I finally decided to spend $$$ and buy a prepackaged diet system. I'm hoping the $ investment will encourage me to stick with it.

The A family women are starting a little support group because there are about six of us that want to slim down a little and feel better able to chase our children/grandchildren around. Let the fun begin!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Chickens and cars

Last night we thought we closed all three doors to the hen house and run, but we missed one. I was met at the back door early this morning by Spot, the gold one in the middle. Today for some reason they are really mellow, hanging out by the sliding glass door, even lying down, which is rare for these girls.

I drove the car down an alley this morning and picked up a small branch which scraped on the ground all the way home and sounded really weird. When we got home I told the girls to hop out and look under the car to see exactly what was there. They said, Oh! There is a branch and there's a bunch of liquid coming out of the car. :O ???

I kneeled down to see what was going on and I saw it too. It was dripping mid-car, not from the radiator. I backed up the car so I could examine the puddle. It looked like water so I dipped my finger in and tasted it. Water.

Then I did the smartest thing I could and called dh at work to see what he thought. His first thought was that it was condensation from the air conditioner. Duh on me! I looked at the concrete floor of the carport and I could see repeated water rings in the same location from previous drips. It's just that usually I don't have any reason to squat down and look under the car after a trip, so hadn't noticed.

Phew! Dripping condensation I can live with!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Simple Bean Tostadas, rice
Tuesday: Pizza Pasta Salad

Weekend dessert (because that's the only time I get to eat any): Raspberry Cream Cups with Pretzels

Friday, August 5, 2011

It was a take-out day

One of the ways I keep our food budget down is to cook at home, mostly from scratch. Today wasn't one of those days.

I took Mom for an appointment and on the way home she offered to treat us to a quick lunch, so I suggested Boston Market. I pass it once or twice a week, but in two years of living here, I've never gone in.

We got the rotisserie chicken, three sides which were creamed spinach (all right--wouldn't have been my choice), mashed potatoes and gravy (waaaaaaaaaaay better than KFC's), and hot cinnamon apple slices, with three little (very sweet) corn bread cakes. It was all really good!

Before we got home I stopped at Papa Murphy's take 'n' bake pizza because I had invited the LDS missionaries over for dinner and didn't feel like making our usual homemade pizza.
I got a pepperoni, a double cheese, and a Canadian bacon, then added cheesy bread and a cinnamon wheel. Everything cost $20. At home I added pineapple to the Canadian bacon one to make a Hawaiian pizza. Although now that I think of it, a Hawaiian pizza really should have Spam and pineapple on it.

Our guests arrived right on time. After we made our introductions to each other, I told my mom that when I saw the guys at church on Sunday, one of them reminded me of someone . . . who? She took a look and said, "well, he reminds me of Kevin." Bingo. That is who I thought of too. I'm not saying he looks exactly like Kevin, because he doesn't, but he did remind both of us of him.

Can you see it?

Anyway, here are C and me with the missionaries too:
I sent the two pictures to the missionaries' mothers. I know I really appreciated when I'd receive the occasional email from mothers in San Diego with pictures of David in them, and I'm hoping for some karma when Kevin goes on his mission in a couple of months.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

"Heterosexual Pride Day" in São Paulo?

Who would think someone would think there would even be a need for such a thing?

Mr. Apolinário, who has the support of Brazil’s powerful Protestant church lobby, said, “The creation of Heterosexual Day does not symbolize a struggle against gays but against what I believe are excesses and privileges.”

Opponents shot back saying the move was nothing short of divisive homophobia.

This reminds me of when I was in high school and all the teens recognized that when you did't have any real answer, you just called names. "Divisive homophobia"?? Mr. Apolinário probably "hates" homosexuals too, or is it just in the United States that if you don't embrace the homosexual lifestyle, you "hate" homosexuals?

I think it is fine to have different groups of people--gays, whites, Catholics, immigrants, straights, Republicans, poor people, you name it. I don't think we have to have special days to "celebrate" their differences. I don't think they all have to mix and mingle either, unless they want to.

How about "live and let live"?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Extreme couponing?

In the United States there is (was?) a reality show on TV called Extreme Couponing. Each show follows two shoppers as they use sales and coupons to buy their groceries for very low prices. The show has come under a lot of criticism because many of the people on the show keep HUGE stockpiles of food in their basements, garages, or stored in various places around the house. Of course anyone has the right to store any amount of food she wants, but a lot of people have wondered if someone really needs 67 bottles of yellow mustard or 1,000 packages of Yakisoba Noodles. Then there is the problem of some of the couponers' using the wrong coupon for the wrong product, i.e. using a high-value coupon meant for a particular higher cost item on a lower-cost product from the same company. For a good explanation of this, see Jill Cataldo's blog post.

Anyway, I'm an "avid" couponer, but I don't commit fraud and I shop in quantities my family can use or can easily share with others.

All that said, here is what I bought last night for $9.69:

*4 boxes of cereal and 2 gallons of milk (a special deal at Fry's)= $10 minus 4 coupons that doubled to a total of $4 = $6

*2 dozen eggs (Target-"come see our new grocery store" special) = FREE

*3 one-pound boxes of strawberries = $.77/each

*1.79 lb of grapes = $1.38

TOTAL $9.69

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Beef and Bean Chimichangas
Tuesday: Citrus-marinated chicken, mashed potatoes, vegetable
Wednesday: Quiche
Thursday: Eat at a friend's house. If not, DIY Pasta Salad.
Friday: Easy Grilled Nacho Pizzas

Friday, July 29, 2011

I think car things are done

In June and July:

Another car and I backed slowly into each other. Oops. Had to pay a big deductible to get my bumper fixed.

Someone rear-ended another car while driving our Suburban. $750 to mostly fix the damage.

Another car rolled or backed into my car. Just got it fixed this week and the other insurance company paid. It looks good.

Someone in the family got a Robocop ticket for running a red light. Big fine.

Someone in the family got a Robocop ticket for running a right turn red light while driving my car. NOT ME. And it wasn't dh either.

Trying to sell Mom's Jeep and don't have the title. Have a buyer, but California is taking forEVER to pony up the duplicate title. Hope the buyer stays with us.

Dh is buying a car tomorrow. I'm not really happy about it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My clothes closet

This morning I was reading a blog post from Life As Mom about the same clothing problem I have. You go to the closet and open it and although there is an adequate number of clothes in it, you have nothing to wear because things don't fit, are damaged (stained, loose seams, worn out), don't have any coordinating things to go with them, are outdated, or the wrong season. That describes my closet pretty well.

I keep thinking I will lose weight, so a couple of tops will fit better. But will I lose height and make the tops that are too short magically long enough? The fad a few years ago of tops that hit at "high hip" was brutal on a long-body gal like me. I need to ditch that stuff. I need to get rid of the top I've loved and worn for so long that the seams are starting to wear through at the neck. Those things are safe to get rid of. No amount of weight loss is going to make them look better.

I like the top I'm wearing in this picture (although I'm not showing it to its best advantage here) because it is a comfortable cotton knit and easy to wear, but it has some inherent detailing. That is the kind of top I'm looking for these days.

I need to purge my closet and get shopping!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday:Asian chicken salad (from a kit I bought at Costco), rolls
Tuesday:Two-color Baked Ziti, broccoli
Black Bean and Corn Enchilada Egg Bake

Burrito Casserole, rice
Friday:Pizza and ginger ale

Mini S'mores Cones

Saturday, July 23, 2011

And it only took 25 months!

Today was a momentuous day in our house--we unpacked the last, the very last box from our move here just over two years ago. LOL, shameful, isn't it?? Here is dh carrying the offender away.
The reason we finally got it unpacked is we decided to move S to her own room. We had been keeping the 4th bedroom as kind of a guest room, or available for one of the older kids to move into, but it became apparent none of them is going to move in with Mom and Dad in the immediate future, so we decided to use it for the children we do have at home. The final three boxes were stacked in the corner of this room and they had to go!

S causes the most distraction at bed time, so we decided to move her out of the large room all three girls have been sharing and into the 4th and smallest one. Here she is, and darn tootin' pleased she is as well.

I haven't a decorating bone in my body so I've been looking at some of the decorating blogs for ideas. I'd really like her to have something a little bit cute.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A few of my favorite pictures from our vacation

This is my father-in-law Bob. He's 81 years old and has been an amputee since he was in his 20s. He's always in pain from the effects of the electrical accident that caused his amputation, yet he hikes, camps, plays with grandkids, and is a very funny guy.
And here is my mother-in-law Jane. Those cute boys are her grandsons, my nephews. Jane is honestly one of the nicest people I know. She is thoughtful of others, never wants to give offense, and is a great conversationalist. She raised very kind and thoughtful sons, too. Girls too, but I see such kindness in her sons that I know she did a great job with them.
Here are my three younger daughters. They'll soon be entering 2nd grade (S) and 4th grades (C & E). They are lively and smart and super affectionate. We have a lot of love going on in our family!

I was really happy to take them to this pioneer outpost called Cove Fort. One of my favorite memories of my older children was taking them here at about the same ages. For some reason D didn't go, but I took H and K on a trip here. I hadn't taken too many road trips back then and it was kind of a BIG DEAL to pack up the car, drive there, take the tour, stay in a KOA cabin, tour the town about 35 miles away, then return home to Salt Lake City.

On the way home from this trip I stopped to see my old friend Kathy. Kathy and I met through her mother Peggy. Peggy was my neighbor across the street when I lived in Salt Lake City. She didn't know anyone who wasn't a friend and she gathered me right in. Her daughter Kathy and I became friends some time after Peggy and I met. A year ago Kathy developed some serious health problems and was hospitalized for a long time, then moved to a nursing home. She's doing a lot better, but you can see the vent, and it's reduced her ability to be out and about as she has always been. Her husband Andy is very attentive to her and she dotes on him. They are a wonderful couple. Just a note: I was startled when I came into Kathy's room because she had lost some weight and she looked just like Peggy. Peggy had snow white hair when she died a couple of years ago, but other than that, it was almost like I was looking at her when I saw Kathy. What a nice memory for me.
This is my son Kevin. He'll be going on a mission soon and it's probably the last time I'll see him before he leaves in October. It's scary how often we think or say the same thing at the same time!
And finally, a shot of two of the big focuses in my life--my family (part of it!) and Jesus Christ. Yes, I'm aware that this is a statue depicting Him (LOL), but I really try to live as He wants me to live.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A hawk!

C and I were in the kitchen when she suddenly ran yelling out the sliding glass door. She was waving her arms around and making quite a ruckus! Here is what happened:

She drew this picture to show the four chickens in the back yard to the left of the pool (with its cross-hatched safety net) and in front of the large privacy shrub (middle back) with a hawk swooping down on them. C said they were running around and making their "danger noise." By the time I got out there the hawk was sitting on the fence, then flew to a neighbor's tree, where it sat for about ten minutes, just watching.

As you can imagine, we hustled the chickens into their run where they are completely safe from the hawk.


I used my new birding book to identify the hawk which was a Swainson's Hawk light morph. I think we'll keep the chickens in their run for a few days and see if the hawk hangs around. From my reading I know they prefer to eat grasshoppers and insects like that, but during mating season they also go for small mammals and birds as large as injured ducks. Now that our four girls are our egg-laying pets, I don't want anything to happen to them!