Saturday, March 31, 2012

Beautiful fruits and vegetables

I haven't been to Bountiful Baskets in about two months because I've been so successful with Market on the Move (60 lbs for $10). However, I was wanting fruit and more vegetable variety, so I signed up for Bountiful Baskets this week. It was great to work in shirt-sleeve temperatures and morning light vs. the cold and dark of the winter, too. :-)
Nothing particularly exotic today, but everything is something someone in my family likes:

2 pineapples
3 grapefruits (to go with the 300 still left on the tree in the backyard)
6 Mineola oranges
9 Valencia oranges (fresh orange juice for breakfast today)
7 bananas
grape tomatoes
5 sweet potatoes
2 cauliflowers
4 broccoli crowns
1 Romaine lettuce
3 bundles of asparagus tips

Friday, March 30, 2012

Laundry can be pretty

Don't you agree?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What Caroline likes and what Caroline hates

Several days ago Caroline (unbidden) made this list of what she likes and doesn't like.

The highlights include her likes:

any cookies
any desserts

. . . and her dislikes:

yogurt with fruit
bread or any pastry with fruit
not ripe enough grapefruits

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Where did these things come from and what are they for??

I have an old-fashioned dresser with three little drawers sitting on top of each side of the mirror. I opened one of the drawers to look for something and found things I have NEVER seen before.

I kind of understand what this is--a turquoise/fake turquoise oval with leather on the back and gold glass beads sewn around the edge. I don't understand about the single wiggly post on the back. Was it supposed to be an earring, but then it got stepped on and broke the post? Where did it come from and who made it/is in the process of making it?

This is the weirder item by far. This appears to be a shellacked navy bean attached to a lapel pin tack. ?????? What on earth would be the purpose of this? And--again--where did it come from and why was it in my little drawer??

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How to get two pizzas and two "orders" of cinnamon sticks into your freezer when it is already completely full

Take them out of their boxes, cut the directions off the carton, and go for the bin at the bottom.
Just barely!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Family Home Evening treats

Caroline is making dessert for the family to enjoy after Family Home Evening tonight.
Cereal, chocolate, and candy. How can she go wrong with that?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Mexican beans and rice casserole from the freezer

Tuesday: Santa Fe Chicken Packets

Wednesday: Sausage Stuffed Loaf (made with homemade bread, not frozen dough), green beans


Soup from the freezer unless I can find the Italian sausage in the freezer that I need for the stuffed sausage loaf.

We ended up with Gingery Carrot Soup from the freezer and added the extra bit of salt and pepper I'd suggested on my notes when we had it the first time in November.

I'll keep looking for the Italian sausage . . . .

Thursday: Bi Bim Bap

Friday: Pizza

Fishing in the desert

These pictures are from more than a year ago, but are from a memorable family day. A big sporting goods store here in town sponsored a fishing event in the parking lot.
There were huge tanks with glass sides teeming with fish. Each child got to borrow a fishing pole and catch as many as they could.
Catch and release, that is. Oh, except despite there being hundreds of fish--they weren't biting that day!
The girls had a good time anyway.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

It's Kevin's birthday!

No more teens for me. For awhile anyway! Today Kevin turns 20 in Mafra, Santa Catarina, Brazil.
Obviously he still likes to have fun. He made that "gun" out of cardboard.
He's starting to look like a real Brazilian in his soccer jersey, right? And this next one is one of his favorites. He looked so good that day he took his picture in the mirror!
And one last picture to show you how early his rambunctiousness started:
Cuuuute, huh?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Track meet today

Today is the spring track meet. Elizabeth decided to participate in track this year, so she is going to the meet. She's ready to go with her bag of snacks and drinks, she's coated with sunscreen, she's wearing her school track T-shirt, and she has her Canada baseball cap. Oh, and she's really excited!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Grapefruit Jam

This morning I received an email with a link to Food in Jars' grapefruit jam. Grapefruit jam . . . the thought had never occurred to me! And I have a certain 25' grapefruit tree out in the back yard.

I picked nine fruits because the recipe said eight large and although mine are huge, the fruit inside is considerably smaller. I prepared them using my favorite method, then chopped them finely.

This part sounds weird to me, but the recipe said to save any seeds, tie them in a cloth, and cook them with the fruit because a little pectin will come out of the seeds. Most people don't use leftover fabric from sewing two skorts . . . but I do.
All you use is the fruit and some sugar, so here it all is in the pot ready to cook.
It took a lot longer to come up to 220 degrees than the 20 minutes the recipe indicated. It was more like 45 minutes, but by then it had thickened nicely. From the Food in Jars website I got the idea to use my electric oven probe/thermometer as a candy thermometer and it worked great since my candy thermometer curiously turned up broken awhile ago.

I didn't want to get my canner out for just three little jars, so after ladeling the jam into the jars (three, not four the recipe promised me--maybe I should have gotten ten or twelve grapefruits), I washed the pot out, got the water hot, put the three little jars in, then brought it all up to a boil.
Now I have three beautiful jars sitting on my counter.
It's the first time in twenty years I've made jam without packaged pectin and I'm ready to do it again.

Oh, and I've already heard the tops on all three jars click. They are sealed!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Getting the pool ready for swimming

Two of the ladder steps were broken and this is the year to get them fixed. You can see the top two steps on the side nearest the camera are broken. They were ineptly glued back together when we bought the house, but they broke shortly thereafter. There was a lot of that involved with this house.

Anyway, here is the "before" shot, including some of the water that collected during our rainstorm Monday. The pump they brought is far, far faster than the one we have.
Here is the "after," looking down at the new stairs from right above them. They were concreted in, then the technicians plastered over the concrete. The plaster is almost dry and Bill and Conor can paint that area as well as some repair areas tomorrow.
Oh, the technician told me he filled the stair steps with concrete before applying them to the pool wall. The reason the others broke was because they were a ceramic shell with no concrete fill. Of course, the company that did the repair today is the same one that built the pool 40 years ago, so there wasn't much either of us could say about that little omission!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A shout out for delicious Kraft Fresh Take!

If you look at the weekly menu, you can see tonight we had pork chops for dinner. I bought some Kraft Fresh Take, which is a package that has some kind of crumbs on one side of the bag and finely shredded cheese on the other. When you open the package, you pull apart the heat-welded seam and mix the two halves together.

Then you just put your meat in one piece at a time and pat it down in the mixture to coat both sides. I used disposable plastic gloves to avoid touching the meat. Next I oven-baked the chops for less than 15 minutes and the main dish was done. Really easy!

I'm happy I have a flavor variety of five more packages in the freezer. :-)

I received a cents-off coupon to try Kraft Fresh Take, but purchased it on my own. I was not paid to write nice things about it, but it was so tasty I practically HAD to!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Tortilla Soup

Tuesday: Pork chops, rice, carrots

Wednesday: Honey BBQ chicken, green beans

Thursday: Hearty Lentil Soup, rolls

Friday: Pizza


I could hear "something" despite having earphones on and this is what I saw outside:
Hail coming down at a 45 degree angle! We need any rain, snow, hail, you name it, so it is welcome.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Quiet Sunday

This morning I taught Relief Society. It was the lesson on sustaining our church leaders. When I first read it I thought it would be hard to make it into an interesting lesson, but I was determined to have learning activities that didn't involve too much reading out of the lesson manual.

I had the bishop's wife tell about her impassioned plea for support when they were first called two years ago. In reference to succession in the presidency, I read a list of all the apostles and had them raise their hand when they heard the name of one who became a prophet. For the section on being warned by the prophet or asked to do something, I passed out slips of paper and pens and had them write down either something they have problems following the church leaders on, or something they were asked to do and the results of doing or not doing it. I read some of the responses aloud and the ladies really liked that part. I had time to read only about eight of them before we were out of time. I couldn't believe it had gone so fast! And in the closing prayer the sweet sister thanked Heavenly Father that "Katie made learning so fun." That made my day!

After dinner Conor made chocolate chip cookies from a mix Bill and I found at Grocery Outlet. It was really delicious and I'm thinking we might need to go back and buy a couple more.
That store is kind of dangerous to our bank account because we're working on improving our year's supply of food and you never know what Grocery Outlet will have on an outstanding sale and then we'd just *have* to stock up!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Good Saturday

This morning I traveled by charter bus to the Mesa Arizona LDS Temple. The ladies in our local area take a women-only trip once a year and I never miss it. In the temple we learn about where we came from, why we're here, and where we're going. Simple, yet important, right? In additon, we perform ordinances for our ancestors who have died so they can have the same knowledge on "the other side."
When I got home this is what was in my driveway:
Dh was in the house kitchen whipping up a late lunch of boxed macaroni and cheese and fried Spam. We know how to eat around here.
Excellent day.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The exciting day has arrived!

Yes, Caroline got her braces on today! She was so excited she could barely contain herself. :-) Here is the sweet girl before:
They put a special device in her mouth to keep the teeth isolated. Interesting how you can see the "skull and crossbones" effect when you can see the mouth's structure so clearly.
After--doesn't she look pleased?
The line leaving Mexico was really long and took us most of an hour.
We struck up a conversation with the teenaged boy in line behind us who loves to talk to Americans in order to improve his English. I attract English language learners (happily!). He took this picture of us.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Great classroom activity in Sophia's classroom

Today is the end of the third quarter for the girls' school. Tomorrow is a day off so the teachers can get report cards made out.

To celebrate, Sophia class wrote invitations to their parents inviting them to come to a pot luck lunch in the classroom. Each child was asked to bring his/her favorite food that wasn't a dessert (the teachers provided cookies), so the buffet table was loaded with child-friendly food.
My favorites were the chicken enchilada casserole and large red strawberry halves. In addition there were various casseroles and fruit and vegetable trays, along with nachos and little bags of chips. We brought homemade focaccia cheese bread.
For entertainment some of the children stood on their chairs and read a recent story each had written, including Sophia.

I wish I had done more of this kind of thing when I was teaching in the classroom.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What kind of diet is this??

This was my late-night snack. Dh had one similar to it, except his featured Oreos. Good thing for my girlish figure that this is a rare occasion.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dh put the pool in dry dock

We've been in this house almost three years and our ancient in-ground pool is in need of repairs. Emptying it (27,000 gallons) seemed like a monumental task, but dh decided to just do it. It WAS a monumental task! The water doesn't just go down a drain, you have to pump it up and out, then let it dissipate SOMEwhere. That "somewhere" was our postage stamp-sized back yard, the back alley, and finally, the front street. It took about a week, doing a few thousand gallons every couple of days in order to let it evaporate and to keep the water out of the neighbors' yards.

Here it is with a lot of water drained:

Finally the pool pump was unable to clear the last of the water, so we got a water pump to get the last of it. Water pump--funny, right? It actually uses the velocity of water from the garden hose to power it and it clears water in about a 1:5 ratio, and very effectively.

That's about it. Tomorrow someone is coming out to give us an estimate on repairing two of the ladder stairs in the deep end, and will probably give us an estimate on doing some minor patching of the walls, and a cleaning and repainting. We'll likely have them do the stairs and dh will probably do the rest. Then refill and swim!

Monday, March 12, 2012

A fall trip I want to take this year

I want to visit Seoul, Korea this fall. I want to take Bill with me. How can I make it happen?

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Szechwan chicken over brown rice (using Sun-Bird Hot and Spicy Szechwan seasoning mix)

Tuesday: Family Reunion BBQ pork on buns from the freezer

Wednesday: Weeknight Skillet Lasagne

Thursday: Taquitos from the freezer, Zatarain's beans-and-rice

Friday: Irish Stew

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lots of canning!

9+ hours at the sink yesterday yielded:
  • 10 qts diced tomatoes
  • 1 pt diced tomatoes
  • 6 pints dilly beans
  • 6 qts bread and butter pickles
  • 7 pts relish
Here is what I made:
Don't those look good? 

Here is a look at the dilly beans with their cloves of garlic and fresh dill:

I see lots of soups and chilis in the coming months.  We've been eating a lot of vegetarian dinners lately and have been using more tomatoes than usual.

The relish was my only disappointment--and it was really time-intensive!  The recipe called for a cup of finely diced celery plus 2 teaspoons of celery seed.  It's just too much celery.  I wish I had either cut the seed amount in half or left it out all together.
Everything is packed away on shelves in my food storage closet. The pickles will be ready in about 2 months; the tomatoes and relish are ready now.