Monday, December 31, 2012

Pantry Challenge

The Pantry Challenge is a challenge to eat from my refrigerator, freezer, pantry, and food storage as much as possible in the month of January.  It doesn't mean not going to the grocery store!

It DOES mean using up things I bought too much of or kind of wish I hadn't bought at all because I don't know what to do with it.  It means giving my food budget a little break.  It means emptying my freezer a little so I can do a freezer meal cooking day near the end of the month.  It means using up some things in my pantry so I can better see what I have in there.

Anyone want to join me?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hmmm . . .

I decided to look back on my camera disk to find a picture or two I had never posted.  To my surprise I found dozens of pictures like these:
No wonder I had so many pictures on my camera.  And I sure need to give them some picture-taking tips.

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday:  Jose Ole' taquitos and mini tacos, rice, cream cheese/salsa dip with crackers and veggies

Tuesday:  Chinese food (Sunbird)

Wednesday:  Stouffer's lasagne, peas

Thursday:  Progresso Recipe Starters homemade macaroni and cheese, cooked carrots

Friday:  Pizza

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy birthday, Mom!

My mom celebrated her birthday this week.  She's north of 75 and glad for each birthday that comes along.
Happy birthday, Mom, sure do love you!

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Kindle is getting full!

This is my picture for the day.  Elizabeth's Kindle has been a huge hit.  And my email account is taking a big hit too.  Every time she downloads another free game or app, I get an email.  I have probably deleted 35 such emails.  I hope she slows down because she can only play so many games!

Being the good mother that I am, I downloaded the Bible, Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the words to the LDS hymns and children's songs.  In addition, I got all of the Friend magazine articles from 2012 for her.  I also downloaded the Primary teacher's manual so she can follow along with the lessons and tap to read the scriptures as they go.  I hope the teacher appreciates that. ;-)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Your dentist lets you play with his Christmas trees, doesn't he?

This is the week most of us visit the dentist.  While Elizabeth was being seen, Sophia made a tall Eiffel-type tower out of Mega Blox and put a fir tree atop to indicate it was at its highest point.  Well, that might not have been the original purpose, but AFTER I explained that tradition to her, she agreed the tree could represent that.  LOL

The smart office ladies just nodded and ignored her use of the counter decorations.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Not a Christmas gift, but also exciting

It's been a good week for Elizabeth.  She has been saving her money for months and was able to buy a Kindle Fire today.
She was thinking about an iTouch all along, but at the last minute we got the idea that a Kindle Fire might be a better size for her.  It is lovely and just right for her.  I'm pleased she had the self-control to focus on a big goal and accomplish her goal.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Elizabeth was delighted with her gift

. . . and I'll bet you didn't think this is what she would be delighted about:
She has been a Spiderman fan(atic) for years and this year she asked for a Spiderman action figure and I figured I'd better give in before she's too old.  So my ten year old daughter received a Spiderman action figure.  It talks and shoots things too.  In addition to other gifts, she also received two Spiderman comic books/graphic novels.

The children received more books, things to make, and outdoor items than in the past.  They were pretty happy with the gifts they opened.

My favorite intangible gift was a two hour chat with Kevin who is on his mission in Brazil.  He looked great and had a little trouble with his English. :-)

Our dinner was delicious:

Salad of Winter Fruits with Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette
Slow Cooked Ham
Buttered Mashed Potatoes
Warm Cinnamon Apples
  Fluffy Raspberry Fruit Salad
Hot Rolls
Cherry Pie
Dutch Apple Pie
Whipped Cream

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

Today the girls had a cookie baking party hosted by . . . me.  I invited a couple families of school-aged children to bring their favorite cookie recipe and come over.  Luckily I thought to make a batch of cookie dough for spritz cookies so they would have some cookies to shape and decorate as soon as they got here.  Those are the green ones in the picture.

We also made some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (the guests were amazed at the huge container of chocolate chips I have--it's about 5 pounds) and some lemon cookies (minus the lemon because I didn't have any, but plus lime juice and orange zest).
I made a pot of hot chocolate and piled a plate with cookies.  We ate those, then the kids played outside, then took plates of cookies home with them.  My girls thought it was very fun.  You can see the cookies on the plate Caroline made for Santa.

Dh took ds to the airport in the big city.  He's going to spend Christmas with his mother and sisters.

I took the girls and went to Costco.  I know, I know.  But it wasn't as crazy as I thought it was going to be.  The main thing I needed was some tamales for dinner tonight.  I picked up a few other things as well (huh--just try not to).  The girls tried some fun food samples and had a good time.

When dh got home, he took the girls to Best Buy.  Elizabeth has been saving money for a number of months and has enough to buy an iTouch or a Kindle Fire or something like that.  She's leaning toward the Kindle, and today is the day for the purchase.

Tonight we'll enjoy a delicious tamale dinner (I know it'll be delicious because the tamales were being sampled at Costco ;-) ), then dh and I will negotiate about going to the late night church service at the Catholic church in our neighborhood.  Last year a man sitting near us fainted and the paramedics worked on him in the aisle during most of the service.  Maybe it would be a little less "interesting" this year.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday:  tamales, rice

Tuesday (Christmas): ham, potatoes, Cool Whip salad, rolls, pie

Wednesday: Ham and Cheese Stuff'n Puff  (silly name, but it looks tasty)

Thursday: Stouffer's meatloaf, potatoes, vegetables

Friday:  Pizza--ham and pineapple

We had the missionaries over for dinner

We haven't had the missionaries over for dinner for a long time.  Six months, probably.  Since we usually have waffles on Sunday, that's what we served them.  They get lots of meat and potatoes and dessert in this area, they said, and waffles was something different.

Dh made them and they were light and fluffy.  Just perfect.  I warmed some syrup and  honey, got out some corn syrup, Hershey's syrup, a bowl of chocolate chips, and chopped some walnuts.  I think everyone got what he or she wanted.
These two young men are from Utah and California.

I hope someone in Brazil made lunch or dinner for Kevin today.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Yesterday at the park the girls found some good climbing trees.  I caught this picture of Sophia way up in a tree.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The first day of Christmas vacation

. . . and we had to do something other than hang around the house!  We went to our favorite park-in-the-foothills that has interesting water features due to a warm spring that comes up from the ground in that location.  Lots of ducks and some fish and turtles in the closest pond.
They came up out of the water and didn't seem to be looking for handouts, just interested in the little patch of grass between the water and the bank of the pond where I was standing.  I think they were wild ducks, not ones that hang around the park and that's why they weren't looking for human food.

The park people added a couple of free telescopes last year, but this was the first time I noticed them.  You can get a nice look at the birds in the lake as well as the mountains in the background and a close view of other visitors as well.  LOL

My girls get a kick out of climbing up the palm trees until it gets scary.  For Mom too!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

One of my favorite sets of pictures

I've probably posted these before, but I came in to Sophia's bedroom one day and this is how she looked.  She was a little over seven years old at the time.

Those are tiny square stickers she stuck all over herself.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

An exciting day for Korea!

Koreans elected their first woman president!  In addition, she is the daughter of a former president, a first in Korea's modern history.
You can read about it in the Korea Times.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Family Night at Culver's

Perhaps I've mentioned Culver's in the past.  Frozen custard.  Concretes.  Oh, and I think they have hamburgers and fish, but I never bother with that kind of thing.
Last night they sponsored a "decorate your own ornament" event in the restaurant.  In addition to the ornament, the children also received a token to trade for a scoop of frozen custard.
My girls really loved all the glitter and glue they had for the kids to use.  I'm scared of the stuff myself (glitter, that is), so I'm always glad when they can use it to their hearts' content somewhere ELSE!
We also ran into a couple of families we knew.  That's always fun.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Do you think it's time for new socks?

Caroline came into my office this morning and told me something surprising happened.  She pulled on her sock as usual, and look at the result:
Miiiight have had a weak thread there.  I told her to find its mate and thrown them both away.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday:  Pinto beans with smoked ham hocks

Tuesday:  Broccoli Cheese soup (check out the topping) [We didn't love this recipe.]

Wednesday:  Leftovers

Thursday:  Taco Bake, zucchini

Friday:  Pizza

Saturday morning: Cranberry-Orange overnight coffee cake, fresh fruit

Small Christmas Decorations II

A couple of days ago I showed the 2D decorations and today it's the 3D ones.

This is a length of ribbon and some little clothes pins decorated with printed paper I made to display Christmas cards and pictures.  One of my regular readers has one too.
Carolee made Frosty for me about 15 years ago.  He's painted wood.
Bonnie gave this to me for Christmas about 15 years ago.  I think she bought it, but I think it is hand drawn and/or colored.
This little angel hasn't survived the years very well.  Either that or I didn't glue her hair down very well when I made her about 18 years ago.  Eh--messy hair--fits our household.
My mother gave this cute mouse to me for Christmas one year when I was in high school.  I thought it a bit unusual a gift at that time, but I remember she told me the face was hand painted and the artist was famous for these kind of figures.  I have had it ever since, even taking it to college with me and displaying it in my student apartments.  She is made of felt and has wire in the arms, legs, and neck and is poseable.  She's about 6" high.  Oh, and my dd Holly said she was scared of it when she was younger.  I never knew that until recently!  It's my favorite 3D Christmas decoration.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Milk run

Our household of eight people goes through a LOT of milk.  It has been less than a week since dh and I went to Safeway and picked up six gallons.  Here we are back again tonight:

Friday, December 14, 2012

Small Christmas Decorations I

Over the years I have collected a number of small Christmas decorations.  Lots of them are have quilting, stitching, and other handwork on them and I'm going to show those ones to you today.

This is a small quilt I bought at a Christmas craft fair in Gallup, New Mexico.  It's about 3'x3' and very lightly quilted, so it's only for decoration:
This was given to me by a Visiting Teacher a number of years ago (I think).  It's commercially made.
Santa was made by my friend Leigh.  Isn't he cute?  She did the stitching by hand.  It's somewhere every year.
The wreath usually hangs on a wall, but this year it is on the table in our entryway and holds a small lamp.  My mom made this about 20 or 25 years ago in Homemaking Meeting at Church.
The nutcracker was made by Lynda with whom I was friends in Germany twenty years ago.  She made a lot of cute things to sell in a base craft fair and I really wanted a nutcracker, but couldn't justify spending the money at the time.  She surprised me at Christmas with one of the ones she hadn't sold.  It's been on a wall every Christmas since.
This one of the first things Leigh ever sent me.  She stitched it all by hand.  Even though it is Christmas-y, it has almost always been on my daughters' bedroom wall year 'round.  I have another angel of a different style she sent me when my twins were born, but it is kept separately.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Activity Day for Girls

Today's activity is the only one we'll have in December, so of course we had a Christmas theme.
We started off with Mr. Kreuger's Christmas which I have on the DVD pictured below.
I didn't know if the girls would "get it" or not, but I explained things as we went and they really liked it.  I sure do love that movie.
Next we made necklaces from little kits.
 I told the girls they could either keep it for themselves or give it to someone as a gift if they needed/wanted a gift for someone.
We finished off the activity with a cake.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What happened to the Christmas tree

Marcella posted this to an email list we're on and it's the best Christmas story I've heard this year:
I'll tell a story on my mom. My mom is and was a super, duper neat and tidy housekeeper. Her cleaning schedule was Crazy! but suffice it to say that our home always smelled of bleach or ammonia and all our clothes including underwear were well pressed.

My mom loves Christmas but it was also stressful for her. She liked to decorate, but she was more than ready to have every strand of tinsel gone before the holidays were over. We always had to have our presents put away neatly after we'd opened them - no piles of presents under the tree or scattered in the living room. My dad would throw away the wrapping paper as we unwrapped the gifts; I doubt any ever actually hit the floor.

So it was with great delight that January 2nd came and we kids went off to school and mom could purge the house of every last bit of holiday decor and get things "back to normal".

Well, one year we had a "real" tree. About killed my mom keeping every last pine needle off the carpet. To make matters worse, we were living in Boulder at the time and in those days the law was during the windy months trash cans had to be kept in the garage. The trash men would open your garage door and take them out and empty them and return them to the garage. This did not make my mother happy at all. She hated having the trash cans "inside". The idea of having the dead tree in there too for another week was just too much.

So she burned it.

Not like a normal person who would chop it up into pieces and build a fire - that would be bad enough being a pine tree.

Nope. All At Once.

Ever see How the Grinch Stole Christmas? And the Grinch shoves an entire Christmas tree up the chimney?

Yeah, like that.

My sister and I were walking home and she happened to look up and see flames shooting out of the chimney (of our two story home) and she yelled "run" and took off. I followed her and when we got to the house our mom was standing on the porch with the double front doors open and she was waving the smoke out of the house with the newspaper. Every window was open.

She very camly said "quick girls, help me fan the smoke out before your father gets home" And without even a question we each grabbed a section of the newspaper and started helping to fan smoke out of the windows.

Mom went to the garage and soon returned with painting supplies. The extreme heat from the fire had caused the paint on the mantel to bubble up. In no time at all she'd sanded the mantel and slapped on a new coat of white paint.

By 4:45 everything was back to normal, the windows were closed and she was in the kitchen making dinner for when dad arrived home at 4:50.

Every time I see a Christmas tree I think of my mom shoving ours up the chimney and smile.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

See's candy

If you received this in the mail . . .
. . . would you share it or would the rest of the family be blissfully unaware it was even in the house?

My mother is so sweet that after dinner she pulled out the box she had just received as a gift and passed it around not once, but twice, including to the children.  I don't think I can live up to that example.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Almost like trying on a bathing suit

Yes, trying on jeans, even the ones that are supposed to fit and flatter and slim every woman.[ahem...baloney...cough]

Dear Niece got a nice pair of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans at Costco and I liked them, so I went looking for some today.  In addition I needed to buy a pair for someone whose name was on the "Angel Tree" at church, same size as mine, so pretty easy.  Oh yeah, except all the jeans like dn's were sold out and all Costco had were big woman sizes and colored jeans.  Won't work for me this time.

My next stop was Walmart because I wanted to try on some Lee jeans that are advertised to flatter.  One pair was far from flattering, and in fact highlighted all my worst flaws.  Another pair the same size from Levi's I was barely able to get up my legs and the thought of zipping them was laughable.  Gotta love women's sizing in the USA.

I went back to the display again and found a pair of Lee Classic jeans.  I had thoughts of Mom Jeans, but the waist wasn't THAT high and the legs weren't tapered. ;-)  They gave me a good-enough fit, so I bought them.  Since the Angel Tree recipient is 15 years old, I got the first pair that didn't flatter me, because the cut was a more youthful cut and I figured she'd rather have that style.  Plus I don't know who she is and so I don't know what her figure shape is.

So two stores and three try-ons and I have a new pair of jeans.  It will probably be at least two years before I have to do that again.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas musical fireside

Tonight our stake choir (a stake is a group of about 8 local congregations) is singing a Christmas cantata in a Christmas fireside.  No actual fire, but a warm time for everyone who attends.
Our cantata is pretty well known in LDS circles, but it turns out it is written by two local women, one of whom is the pianist for this event and the other is the mother of one of a young couple in the choir who will perform a duet.  The music is about 20 years old, but it's the first time for me to sing it.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

My cute husband

Isn't he a cutie?  When my husband was a little boy his family lived in Pakistan and this picture was in a yearbook we found online.

Can you imagine being my mother-in-law, a small-town girl from Idaho busy having children and raising them, then her husband gets a job in Pakistan?  In about 1963 they moved with their four children to Lahore, Pakistan.  Another child was born while they were there as well.  They had a little compound with a maid and a gardener/driver/babysitter.  They were husband and wife and my husband adored the husband in particular.  Life was made a lot easier with that domestic help, because it wasn't nuthin' like Idaho there!

And interesting note--probably because of the domestic help, my husband was fluent in Urdu when he was in lower elementary school, and in fact, one time they were traveling and he and his two older brothers went down for breakfast before their parents got up.  When his parents got to the dining room, they found my husband ordering the staff around in Urdu!  Alas, today he can count to ten in Urdu, but that is about it, kind of a Flowers For Algernon effect. 

All of the older boys in his family have fond memories of living overseas at a young age.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A package from Australia!

I think the stamps are really pretty.  No postmark, so I don't know how long this package was in transit.  My experience says less than a week.

Next I pulled out a Christmas card, picture, and letter.  Trust me, no one else will send me a Christmas card with a summer kangaroo on it this year!  And LOOK at those girls--aren't they lovely?  I've "known" them since shortly after the younger ones (twins) were born and I can't believe how grown up they are.
And then look what I found inside the package: herbal tea.  Lots of it.
Twinings, Lipton, Tetley.  There is not a single flavor here I have ever tried in herbal tea, so you can bet when I'm up early (early!) at work in my home office, I'm going to have a cup of herbal tea in my hand.  And unlike in Australia, it's cold here this time of year and I get up about an hour and a half before the heat kicks on.

I want to mention one other thing.  When I was going through a very difficult time about four years ago, the same friend sent me several packages with numerous packets of herbal tea to comfort me.  I really appreciated it then and it gives me warm memories now.

Thank you, L!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

I finished my book club book . . . a month early.  I didn't realize the December book club had been postponed until January, but I'm still glad I got the book and finished it early.

I was going to buy the book, but found out it's available only in hardback and I didn't want to spend hard back money, even at the used bookstore.  So I did the obvious . . . I downloaded it from the library.  Neat, huh?

And after I read it I was even happier I hadn't bought it.  It came under the categories of teens, fantasy, horror, and suspense.  I like teen novels, but not any of the other categories.  It had a confusing, forced storyline and didn't turn out to be as good as I thought it was going to be.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fridge: Take II

The icemaker on our new fridge never did work, despite three visits from the repairman, so Sears is going to swap it for another one.  They told me they would work with me on the price if I found a more expensive one I liked, but in the end they had the same model as the one we are returning, but . . .
. . . it's BLACK!  I made a quick call to Bill and we decided that although we would prefer a white one, if we ever redo our kitchen, we'd be more likely to go the stainless direction and black would go with that better than white, so getting a black one is all right.
We're in love with the GIANT capacity of the fridge (did I mention I can put 9 gallons of milk on ONE shelf??) so I'm glad I was able to find the same model.

Oh, and the new one is cheaper than the old one, so I got a refund of about $75. :-D