Saturday, June 30, 2012

Kids in the pool

The girls like to have our neighbor boy come over for a swim.  He's in the grade between my girls and he and Caroline are especially good friends.

I was feeling a bit lazy so I had the girls put on their swim shirts and I just put sunscreen on their faces.  No one got a burn although they swam in the early afternoon.

It's nice to have a pool.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Sugar cookies with frosting

Well, we cheated. I found sugar cookie in a refrigerated roll on sale for a dollar, so bought a couple. Instead of slice-n-bake though, Caroline rolled it out and used cookie cutters. 
They had two friends visiting (one is just out of the picture).  It's amazing how the day goes BETTER with the addition of some friends.  It made everyone happy.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hermit crabs!

The last day in Mexico our host used a mask and snorkel to look for hermit crabs.  He found six nice ones.
 If you look at the opening of each shell, you can see the crab.  Some of them practically crawled out of their shells while they were being held!

Note: the wind was blowing and puffed out dh's shirt--he's not Santa-in-training!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sophia took a friend to the dental office today

Usually I take all three girls to the dentist the same day, but for some reason Sophia's routine exam was scheduled separately.  That let me have one-on-one time with her which is always a pleasure.  Interesting, too.
She looks like she's in great pain here, but really she was just opening up wide for her teeth cleaning with blue goo.

She wasn't worried about it all though, because she brought Cubbie along to keep her company.
And it was a perfect exam.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mormon church meeting in Mexico

There is a local ward (congregation) in San Carlos, so that is where we went to church on Sunday.  The girls were really curious about it, what the church would look like, how they would understand everything spoken in Spanish, and so forth.
The church building turned out to be a small, new building that looked fresh and clean AND had awesome air conditioning.  The chapel was tiled and had nice stackable chairs instead of low carpet and pews.  Very comfortable.
Because there are a lot of English-speaking vacationers, there was a bit of translation available.  A bilingual man had a laptop with a projector and a Word document up, then typed the main points of what was being said on the document and it was projected on the wall behind the speakers.  It worked just fine, although I did miss a lot of the details.  I was able to understand enough Spanish to get the gist of what the speakers were saying anyway.
Here we are with our wonderful friends and hosts.  They made it tons of fun for us and made us feel very comfortable.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A long weekend in Mexico!

We just got back from a long weekend in Mexico at the beach.  Such fun!
We took a pleasant drive there (about 7 hours), listening to audio books, singing, chatting, and reading.  We did find out Mexican toll roads aren't as nice as American ones usually are.  No problems though.

My pictures aren't loading well, so look for more in the coming days.  Just a note that we really appreciate our friends' warmth in welcoming us on this excellent adventure.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday Pineapple-ginger flank steak from the freezer, with rice

Tuesday:  Pasta Bake
Baked Pasta
one big jar of pasta sauce
one 16 ounce box of your favorite dried pasta (penne is a favorite around here)
some shredded cheese like parmesan or mozzarella

Pour the dried pasta into a big mixing bowl. Add the pasta sauce. Fill the sauce jar half way with water and pour that in too. Give it all a stir until it is well mixed. Pour it all into a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Top with cheese.

Cover the pan with foil and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.
Grapefruit-Honey Glazed Grilled Chicken (from a website forum)

This is a delicious and easy recipe for grilled chicken that my family loves. The marinade is refreshingly zesty and can be made ahead of time for convenience - just store in the refrigerator up to one day.

2/3 cup Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice (100% juice, not cocktail)
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts


Combine grapefruit juice drink, butter, brown sugar, honey and red pepper flakes in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until smooth, 4-6 minutes. Set aside to cool 10 minutes.

Arrange chicken breasts in a 11x7x1-1/2-inch baking pan. Pour 2/3 cup marinade over chicken just to cover, reserving 1/2 cup. Cover pan with plastic wrap. Refrigerate and marinate for 30 minutes. Remove and turn chicken over, allow to marinate another 30 minutes.

Divide remaining 1/2 cup marinade in half again; 1/4 cup will be used for basting and 1/4 cup will be used for serving.

Preheat grill. Grill chicken for approximately 4 minutes on each side; basting once or twice per side. Cook until chicken reaches 170° F on an instant-read thermometer.

Warm remaining 1/4 cup marinade, drizzle over chicken.

Makes 4 servings.
Thursday:  Stouffer's Cordon Bleu Bake from the freezer

Friday: Pizza

Quick and delicious breakfast--on my diet, too!

Our large grapefruit tree still has dozens and dozens of sweet, tasty grapefruits on it, although there are many more small green ones on it getting ready for next year.  I picked one this morning, sectioned it, chose a Nutrisystem breakfast entree, and got a Kroger CarbMaster "cultured low fat dairy blend" out of the fridge.
Easy, filling, and delicious!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bridal shower

The daughter of my friend is getting married this weekend and I attended a bridal shower for her.  There are two kinds of bridal showers--the one given by your bridesmaids and the one given by your mother's friends.

This party was the latter.

Disadvantage:  a bunch of older women you may or may not know well

Advantage:  they have more money than your friends and buy better gifts than your friends can afford

The bride is a practical girl and registered for lots of housewares.  It was fun to see the things she got and remember what it was like to have everything new.  It made me want to get some new kitchen towels.

In addition to the pile of gifts, she received a card with a pile of cash inside.  I contributed to that.

It was a fun girls' night out.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Taco Bell in Korea?

Today I was talking to one of my Korean students and he told me he really liked eating at Taco Bell when he lived in the United States.  It was his go-to lunch place, in fact.  I made him a very happy man tonight by alerting him to the presence of several Taco Bells in Seoul, including one near his office.  He says Monday lunch will be at Taco Bell.  Maybe mine too!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Good bye to an old laundry friend ;-)

Last week I bought a new laundry basket to replace this old one.  Sounds simple and straightforward, doesn't it?  An identical basket is still available, so my baskets will still stack and nest together.

I felt kind of sad to put the old basket into the recycling bin.  The second house Bill and I owned was a brand new house in a suburb of Boise, Idaho.  It was twice the size of our tiny first house and about 75 years newer and 75 times nicer.  We didn't have near enough furniture to fill it, and in fact, didn't even have adequate living room furniture for about a year.

Bill and I had only the his-n-hers children at that time, no little twins+1.  Weekend laundry was chaotic with all the clothes that traveled between the various parents' houses. 

One day I went to the store and bought night lights for the long hall, 5 wastebaskets so each bathroom and the girls' and boys' rooms would have one, and 3 laundry baskets.  So everyone would know where each basket belonged, I took a Sharpie and wrote "GIRLS," "BOYS," or "MOM AND DAD" twice on the rim of each one.

You can still see the labels and it was the boys' basket that finally gave out.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Believe it or not, the first day of summer has an element that makes it one of the saddest days of the year for me.  The days start getting shorter!  Boohoo.

I get up very early for work and this time of year it is before sunrise, but already light.  Since today is the longest day of the year, I opened all the blinds at the front of the house so I could watch the sun rise.  Beautiful!
(Sorry about the campground in the neighbor's front yard.  Doesn't do much for property values in the neighborhood, does it?)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Reading time

Every afternoon when I start work, the girls are expected to head to their rooms to read or sleep for an hour.  I found a little of each today.

Wouldn't you love to have someone in charge tell you you had to go lie down and either read or nap an hour a day???

Monday, June 18, 2012

Planning a trip!

In a few weeks we are going to Mexico for several days of R&R.  See that bay?  Our condo is literally a few steps away from the water.
We are going with some good friends of ours.  No phones, no Internet, just the beach, the water, and lots of board games.  I can't wait!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday:  Spanish eggplant (from the freezer) over rice

Tuesday:  Egg and potato "breakfast" casserole

Wednesday:  Whole wheat carrot cake pancakes

Thursday:  Impossibly Easy Mini Buffalo Chicken Pies

Friday:  Pizza

Happy Father's Day!

Bill got the day off today!  The girls made lunch, he bbq'd the ribs while I did everything else for the dinner, and he received calls from all of his children and one of mine.

After dinner we took a walk around the neighborhood with the children, then came back for blackberry cobbler and ice cream.

 Dh got some goodies made by Caroline and some shorts and shirts for summer.
Bill is a wonderful father, and in fact, it was his excellent father-ness that made me decide I wanted more children after we married.  That turned out to be one of the best decisions we ever made.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Funny weather II

Yesterday I posted a[n unreadable] 5 day forecast for my area.  Highs around 107F (42C) and clear.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Funny weather

When I got up this morning early, there was an uncharacteristic mist between the mountains and me.

The first two pictures were taken in the very early and early morning.  The third was taken in the afternoon.

Here is the forecast for the next five days:
[I'm very annoyed because I can't figure out how to cut and paste that screen print and make it a size you can actually see.  The forecast is 104 to 111F (40-44C).  Yikes.  And it's been that way since the middle of May except for a few days a couple weeks ago.]

Thursday, June 14, 2012

One Drop

I always like to read biographies, whether or not I've ever heard of the subject, just because I find people's lives and experiences to be very interesting.  Anatole Broyard was a literary critic (although I've never heard of him) who died in 1990.  Shortly before he died, his children were told their father was bi-racial, a fact he'd hidden from them all their lives.
Bliss Broyard, his daughter, wanted to find out about her family's history and the story of whiteness and blackness in her ancestry, and perhaps understand why her father denied his African roots and presented himself and his family as white.  As an interested genealogist, I liked that part of the story.  In addition, my husband's step-grandfather was of mixed race and as I've looked at documents marking his life, I see he called himself both Colored and White at various times.  One Drop takes a hard look at "passing" and why it was done in a historical context, as well as why her father's family passed.

I'm almost done with the book and hope the author discusses her own feelings of finding out she is bi-racial.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A friend's visit to Holland

Today at our book club it came up that one of the young adults had just gotten back from a trip to Germany and the Netherlands.  One of the elderly members is a Dutch immigrant who really misses Holland.
She eagerly asked the younger woman where she had visited.  The younger named two places.  The older asked if the younger had had any pastries, cookies, or other Dutch goodies.  No, not really.

I was frustrated!  This elderly woman was eager to relive a bit of her past years by listening to the younger tell about what she had experienced, but the information wasn't forthcoming. 

 I have to remember some folks are good with a few words.  I love a torrent of them.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

An advantage of living in a hot climate

You can go to work dressed like this!

Monday, June 11, 2012

This is my entire shopping trip for this week's dinners

Number 1 This is all I had to buy to make our menu dinners this week.  I have everything else in the pantry or freezer.  I love to be prepared.

 And speakig of being prepared, I love that I now have everything I need for the week and don't have to stress about running to the store for one missing ingredient.  The store is close (one mile), but it still puts a hole in my day when I'm rushing to make dinner after work.

I picked up a cantaloupe and some bananas in addition to the necessaries and my total was still under $15.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

What do you think this service project is?

Every six weeks on a Thursday evening dh and I go to the local LDS Home Storage Center and pack food for the regional food bank.
As you can imagine, it's cheaper for the food bank to purchase beans and rice in 50 pound bags than in 1 pound bags.  As you can also guess, they want to give families 1 pound bags, not 50 pound bags!

The solution is to buy 50 pound bags of beans/rice and thousands of clear plastic bags like the ones newspapers are delivered in, then have volunteers repackage the commodities into 1 pound packages to be given away.  The food bank recently asked for more packages, so the shift increased from one hour to one and a quarter hours.  That's it! 

Last time I went there were a lot of volunteers from both my ward (congregation) and the singles ward, enough that we had 5 lines going and we repackaged 2.5 tons of pinto beans into ~5,000 packages.  We still had 15 minutes to go and could have done more . . . but ran out of plastic bags.

It all sounds like date night to Bill and me, so we usually stop on the way home at our favorite ice cream place, Culver's.

That's all!

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday:  Chicken, pineapple, pepper kebabs

[this was a hit--a little tedious to make though]

Tuesday:  Spaghetti and meatballs

Wednesday:  Grilled Picnic Taco Nachos

[this was really easy and everyone like it]

Thursday:  Pineapple Ginger Flank Steak

Friday:  Pizza

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sewing machine and groceries

That sewing machine was nagging me for repair, so I decided to NOT procrastinate.  I called three places here in town and two of them charged $80 + parts to go over it, and one charged $40.  I decided to try the $40 guy and see how that goes.

He said my machine was about the 10th he had taken in today.  Makes me think there is a good business for someone with excellent mechanical skills.

Conveniently, his place is in the same strip mall as Sunflower Market, a kind of hybrid traditional/organic grocery with a great produce section.  Since I didn't do Bountiful Baskets this morning, I picked up several kinds of fruit, plus some things from their bulk bins.

Did you know you don't have to buy the whole bag when produce is priced by the pound?

I just take out the amount I want to buy and put it in another bag.  Did you know you can even do that with things like celery when it is priced by the pound (vs. by the bunch)?

I bought only about half the package.

Here's one of my helpers:

Friday, June 8, 2012

This is not the quilt top picture I thought I was going to post today

I finished the "medallion" (center) of the patriotic quilt a week or so ago, but needed to add a border of red, then a border of blue to complete the top.

My math skills were atrocious and I sewed pieces onto my border strips I didn't need, then had to tear out the seam or cut them off.  I will say I made all my precision cuts accurately though.  You know the old saying--Measure twice, cut once?  It is true and it works.  :-)

So here is the quilt top:
Why is it folded up for storage instead of being sandwiched with batting and a backing?


Because my 31 year old workhorse of a sewing machine is on the fritz!  The last time I used it I heard some alarming squeals from the wheel part on the right.  I opened it up and took a look around but you could put what I know about sewing machines in a thimble and still have room for your big toe.  I oiled it and closed it back up and it seemed to be working a little better.

Today it went back to its squeaks and squeals, then finally all but froze up.  I had about 2-1/2 feet left to sew of the final border piece, so I tried turning the wheel by hand, but it was almost impossible, so I gave up.

Tomorrow's duty is to take it to a repair shop. 

Here is the old girl in all her glory:

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Good bye, sweet grandsons :-(

When I got up yesterday I didn't know it was my last day with Holly and the boys. Her dh and mother-in-law came to get them in the evening. It's a long drive and I appreciated their taking it on.

Little LJ has spent more than half his life at our house. He was 3.5 weeks when he came and a few days past 2 months when he left.

Zachie got a buzz cut when he arrived (from Holly), so I asked her if I could give him another one before he left. He looked so cute with his little blond head and short short short hair.

The picture above is the best of four I took of the boys with their great-grandmother (my mother).  Lots of action on the baby's part and a slow camera response on mine.  I'm glad to have the picture though.

We miss the three of them already.  We hope they come back soon.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


 It's great to have an annual pass to the zoo.  Today we focused on the large animals and didn't worry about trying to see everything or even every area of the zoo.
The wonderful new elephant exhibit is a real hit with our family.  Just two of the five elephants were out where we could see them today.  They have the ability to take themselves off exhibit, so we didn't see the mother or the two babies.
This is a fundraiser mural.  I wish I had made a donation!