Friday, August 31, 2012

A bittersweet day

I moved to Nevada four weeks before Sophia was born, so I knew nobody when she arrived.  Imagine my surprise and pleasure when an older couple from Church handed me a gift bag that contained a soft flannel blanket for her.  Nearly every night of her life she has slept under that blanket.


Because of that, the blanket has been in shreds for about a year.
See what I mean?

I had the idea of making a new cover for the old blanket, but when I laid the old blanket out on the new fabric, I realized the old blanket was made using really wide flannel, quite a bit wider than the fabric I could find in the stores.
I asked her if she would rather I cut the old blanket down a bit to make it fit the fabric she had chosen or just make her a new blanket all together.  She thought about it and said she'd rather have a whole new blanket.

Then I procrastinated making the blanket for months.  :-(  Today I woke up with only about two hours of early morning work and nothing planned and knew this was the day to get 'er done.

The ties turned out to be much closer together than I thought they were going to be, but I decided to tie every white polka dot and not skip rows.  It took about six hours to tie, but probably an hour and a half of that time was spent wasting time threading yarn into the biggest eye needle I could find.  It was a challenge!
While I was working on it I wondered what Sophia would do about her old blanket.  I thought she might refuse to part with it.

I put it on her bed about twenty minutes before she got home from school and waited . . . .
When she got  home I told her there was something in her bedroom for her and she dashed in there to see.  She came out of her room wrapped up in it.

After a bit I cautiously asked her what she wanted to do with the old one.  She promptly replied that she wanted to "eliminate it," i.e. get rid of it.  I asked her how.  She said she wanted to put it in the huge trash can in the alley.  I asked her if she wanted to put it in a plastic bag first and she said no.

We walked out to the alley and she opened the lid and just tossed it right in.  I guess Mommy had a lot more sentiment for it than Sophia did!

I hope this one lasts for another eight years.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A ridiculous funny on me!

The other day I was out feeding and watering the chickens and noticed they were coming from the side of the house behind the storage shed.  I wanted to make sure they hadn't laid any eggs in that area, so I wanted to go behind there to check.  There is just a narrow walkway between the house and the shed, so I stepped near the wall and . . . stepped on the tines of a garden rake standing against the wall and got hit in head, Larry and Cousin Balki-style.  It happened so fast I didn't know what happened until I had a splitting pain on my forehead.

Here it is about five days later:
(Excuse the headset!)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How the girls got new shoes . . . that weren't

Just a few days ago I remembered I have had a box in the girls' closet for YEARS that has had an evolving supply of shoes in it. 

One day when I lived in Bitburg, Germany (that would have been 1994 or earlier), I went shopping at the BX and found a killer sale on children's shoes.  I remember the shoes averaged less than $5/pair and even then that was a great price.  The price was so good I just bought the ones I liked and didn't worry that some of them were too big.  Way too big, so I put them in a box for storage and as the kids grew, pulled shoes out for them.

Life got weird a few years after that and not all of the shoes got pulled out of the box.  Now and then I'd look in to see if anything fit Caroline, Elizabeth, or Sophia, but the last time I took something out was more than a year ago (Saltwater sandals that Kevin wore).

Last night after scripture and bedtime story reading, I took the box down one last time.  In it were a pair of sneakers, a pair of shiny dress shoes with a rosette on each toe, and the pair of brown penny loafers above.  Every pair fit someone and we are done with the box!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Happy 30th anniversary, Sharon and Dave!

My dear friend Sharon married her prince in August 1982.  Dave had joined the LDS Church a year or so before and we all knew him and thought he was nice and good-looking.  He picked Sharon and Sharon picked Dave.  It was a great match!
Over the years they had five children, a few moves, then finally settled down in northern California.  If I could build my dream neighborhood, they'd be living in the house directly across the street.
Do you recogize me in the picture?

Monday, August 27, 2012

My patriotic quilt

In June this year I decided I wanted a patriotic quilt.  Well, actually, I'd decided a couple of years ago I wanted one, but this June I decided to actually make one.
I came across a pattern I liked and thought I could make, but I didn't like the stars, so I left them off..
 While I was piecing the top, my constant worry was--how am I going to quilt this?  Tying it was out of the question because I don't like that look for any but the most casual quilt.
One day I was searching online for professional quilting services and eBay popped up.  I found a quilter I was comfortable with (in South Jordan, Utah, what's not to like?), bid on her auction, then sent it off to her.
Because I had nixed the appliqued stars, I decided to go with a star design in the quilting. 
I chose a simple red for the binding because the rest of the quilt was so busy.

Isn't it luscious after washing and drying?
I can't wait for it to get cooler so I can really use it a lot!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday:  Beef enchilada stack

Tuesday:  Buffalo chicken fingers

Wednesday:  BLTs

Thursday:  Sloppy Lennies from the freezer

Friday:  Pizza

What would you do if you won $1 million?

Sadly, a million dollars isn't nearly as much as it used to be, but what would you do with a million dollars if it were given to you?
First, I would pay a 10% tithing to my church, so I'd have $900,000.
Second, I'd pay off my house and the rental properties we own.  That would leave me with $400-500,000.
Third, I'd buy a version of the car below.  That's a '78 and I'd want one about that vintage, although charcoal gray would be my preference, or perhaps white.  Not red and certainly not orange or yellow. 
Next I'd buy some reasonable gifts for my family members.
Last, I'd put money aside the the children's education.  It would be a relief to know I had enough money to pay for their tuition if they went to a moderately-priced college.
How about you?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Church cleaning . . . again

With more than 200 families and only about 4-5 needed for each church cleaning AND being responsible for cleaning the church only every other month, one would think the A family (that's us) should sign up to clean about once a year.  Uh uh. 

Only two people signed up to clean the church when the sign up lists went around last Sunday, so the coordinator had to start making calls.  I'm not sure why, but it looks like she grabbed the list from two weeks ago and used that as her calling list.  Most of the same people were there today who were there the last time I cleaned.  It's probably because we did such a bang-up job, right?

We set up chairs at the back of the chapel because our congregation is so big we don't fit in the chapel proper.
 Sophia and I tidied up the hymn books and dusted the chapel.
 And last of all we took out some of the trash that was left in the building.
Other people cleaned the bathrooms, vacuumed, cleaned windows, emptied other trash, tidied the classrooms, and put furniture in its proper place (there was a funeral there earlier today).  We'll look forward to a neat, clean, and tidy church building tomorrow morning. :-)

Friday, August 24, 2012

How my camera got me a free package of tortillas

That probably isn't the typical title of a blog post, but it's true; I'm going to tell you about it.

Here is the picture:
When I scanned my tortillas they came up as $2.17 - 0.18 = $1.99.  Uh uh.  I paid anyway, but then went directly to the shelf and since I just happened to be carrying my camera in case I came across something interesting to photograph and post here, I just took a picture of the shelf tag.

Next stop was Customer Service and I just showed her my camera with the picture of the tag and she immediately refunded all my tortilla money.  I like that Fry's does that when you catch them in a mistake. :-)

See next week's menu on Sunday to see what I bought the tortillas for.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cupcake Fondue

I am sooo trying this!
Hoosier Homemade has wonderful pictures of a cupcake fondue party.  My mind is whirring.  The first Saturday night of April and October I always throw a banana split party for my husband, his friends, and our family.  Now I'm wondering if I ought to toss in a few cupcakes as well, or if that would be a little over the top?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Evening pictures of the girls

As was getting ready for this post I walked around the house and took a quick picture of each girl doing what she was doing at that moment.

Elizabeth was making things with Moon Dough.
 Princess Sophia was doing her homework.
 Caroline was playing on the computer.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A shameful picture

Yes, this is my laundry room.
 The size seems all right, doesn't it? It's 9.5' x 5'. Still sounds good.  Oh, there is a 3' x 4.5' platform just to the right in this picture and the water heater and the furnace are sitting up on it.  THAT takes a chunk out of the square footage!

I hope one day we'll get a heat pump for the A/C and heat and perhaps get a tankless water heater.  That would allow enough room to dance a little jig.  Even a counter for folding!

BUT, that is years away.  Unless the A/C+furnace unit mysteriously quits working . . . .

Monday, August 20, 2012

My jaw dropped

I've mentioned quite a few times that I like to use coupons to cut my grocery costs.  The couponing sites I go to are scrupuously honest in advising the readers on the best and proper way to use coupons.
But!  Today I followed an advertising link to a site with some coupons, along with some "helpful" couponing tips such as this:
Extreme Couponing Tip #1
One episode of Extreme Couponing shows us that a person using the coupons for a certain size of item for the same product and brand but of different size. The featured couponer shows us that in order to really save on the stuff we buy on the grocery, just try to trick the grocery computer.
You see, the grocery computer will never read the letter and words written on the coupons, as the person in Extreme Couponing shows it, computers read only the codes printed on them. So although the coupon is for a bigger size for a particular brand, when the computer scan your coupon, as what happened in the Extreme Couponing show, the computer will only read the discount. So if your coupon is 50% for a 1 Liter of an item and if you use it for a 500ml of the same brand, the computer will never be able to tell the difference.
Ummm . . . that is coupon fraud and I would NEVER recommend anyone do that!  I am super careful to carefully read the coupon and follow the requirements to a "T."  Really--if I'm going to steal it's certainly not going to be 20 cents on a box of cereal.

And no, I'm not going to link the site here. ;-)  I probably downloaded a hundred viruses by clicking on that link anyway.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Best Two Years

In one of Kevin's recent emails (he's in Brazil on a Mormon mission) his response to my telling him about our wonderful vacation this summer was to tell me I was "trunking [him] out of [his] mind!"  That's a line out of my favorite Mormon comedy movie, The Best Two Years.
Tonight I made vanilla custard ice cream for the family and we settled in the family room to eat it.  The girls wanted to watch a movie while we ate ice cream, so I told them Yes, if we could watch The Best Two Years. 

My favorite part is when the renegade missionary in the movie teaches a lesson about Heavenly Father's love for us and then says that is why he went on a mission.  Yes, THAT is why he is there.

Such a good movie.  And I'm glad Kevin is serving a mission.  That's why HE is there.

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday:  Creamy macaroni and four cheeses (recipe from Parade magazine), Brussels sprouts baked with onion, Balsamic vinegar, and olive oil.

Tuesday:  Pork chops/Fresh Take coating, rice, carrots (pork chops from the freezer)



Friday:  Pizza

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bountiful Baskets

Lately one of the blogs I read has been posting pictures of beautiful organic CSA produce and it got me to thinking about Bountiful Baskets again.  I missed most of the summer due to (my) lack of interest and by mixing up my weekends and looking for it on the wrong Saturdays.
This week I paid for a basket, then went an hour early as usual to help with the distribution.  Here is what I came home with:

4 Asian pears
5 plums
7 nectarines
6 bananas
lots of grapes
lots of Brussels sprouts
6 tomatoes
3 bunches of radishes
6 onions
Tuscan kale

In addition I came home with a box for the chickens with lots of lettuce and kale leaves, along with some nectarines.

Not organic, $16.50.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Heaven Is Here by Stephanie Nielson

Several days ago an email from the library landed in my inbox.  I'd forgotten I'd requested Heaven is Here by Stephanie Nielson, but it was set aside and waiting for me at the library. 

I love requesting books from my library.  I go online, click "reserve," and wait for an email.  It may be a day later or a year later, depending on popularity and availability.  I think I requested this one about 5 months ago.  Anyway, then I drive to the library, park near the door, walk in, get my reserved book off a shelf near the door, go through the self-checkout that is in front of that bookshelf, and am back in the car in 60 seconds or less.  It's a great system and I use it often.
I've been reading Stephanie's blog for several years.  I didn't "know" her before the plane crash in which she was badly burned in August 2008.  I like to read her blog because she is relentlessly in love with being a mother, being feminine, and with her husband.

Her book is a page-turner because I want to know what emotion she will share next, what interesting bit of information about people or procedures she'll tell about, or what little idea I can glean for my own life.  If you can get a copy of the book, I recommend it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

5th grade orchestra

Caroline and Elizabeth are signed up for school orchestra lessons!  Next week we'll rent a violin and a viola and classes start the following Monday.  I love having such good benefits available to our family through the school district.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Grapefruit Jam II

I took a jar of the jam I made in the spring along with my new favorite crackers to the book club last week and the jam was a hit.  I kept looking at the tree outside with large pink grapefruits dangling in with the medium green developing ones and knew I needed to make more grapefruit jam.

I wanted more than 3 little half pints this time, so I doubled the number of fruits I picked.  You can't do that with pectin jam because you need a precise amount of pectin/fruit/acid/sugar/heat, but since this kind of jam is nothing more than fruit/sugar/heat, I knew I could double it.

Now here was the problem I ran into:  I couldn't get the jam to come up to a temperature higher than boiling.  Not gonna gel that way.  I thought about it and realized I probably needed more sugar.  I tasted the runny jam and it was sweet, but not "jam sweet," so I added a cup of sugar to the five I had already put in.  The temperature came up a couple of degrees.  I added just 1/2 a cup more and it came all the way up to 220F (104.4C).

At that point I ladeled it into jars, cleaned out the pot, filled it with water and jars and processed them for 10 minutes in boiling water.

Here is a comparison.  The first one is yesterday's jam.  You can see it is much lighter and softer.  The one on the right is the Spring '12 version and was cooked more to get it to set up and thus is much darker, but also has a more spreadable consistency.  In additon, the fruit was not as sweet in the spring and the dark jam has a nice tartness to it.  Yesterday's jam is sweet from the sugar of course, but doesn't have any tartness because the grapefruits are really sweet this time of year.

I enjoyed comparing the two batches.  Dh and I decided we prefer the new jam, but both are good.

 I ended up with:

2 pints
4 half-pints

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A big change in my daily view

This morning at 6:54 a truck and trailer rolled up across the street and by 6:56 the workers were cutting down limbs of the large tree across the street.

I have mixed feelings about changing the tree I look at 4-8 hours a day out my window.

Ugly shed in the side yard I never saw
Ugly swamp cooler unit I never saw
Lots of cut, stumpy branch ends now
The light, dancing branches and leaves were a great wind indicator

Now I can see the mountains that I had to glimpse between trees
There are still some leaves at the top so I still have my weather station

It looks better in person that it does in the last picture, but still rather strange with all the bare limbs and the leaves at the top.  I'm not sure if that's the way this kind of tree is usually trimmed or not.  If so, this tree was way, way overgrown in the "before" shot.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Romney picks a running mate

Mitt Romney has chosen Paul Ryan to be his running mate in the 2012 presidential election.  I think it was an excellent choice and the ticket will appeal to Republicans from the middle to the right.  It's no secret who I'll vote for come November!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday:  Beans and rice


Wednesday:  French toast casserole

Thursday:  Sloppy Lennies  [This was really good.  I thought my family wouldn't eat it but they lapped it right up.]

Friday:  Pizza

A wonderful rest stop in Oklahoma

I have a few more pictures from my summer vacation to share.  This is a wonderful rest stop in Oklahoma.  I know most people don't post pictures of rest stops, but this one is picture-worthy.

It celebrates its location on Route 66.
There was a great play structure with nice shredded tire ground cover beneath it.  Appropriate, don't you think?

And believe it or not, this is the bathroom building:

Inside are men's and women's restrooms with marble counters and beautiful tile murals on the walls, two tornado shelters, and an Internet cafe'. 

It was the nicest rest stop I've ever seen.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cleaning the church

Since we have two wards (congregations) who share our church building, each ward is responsible for cleaning the building every other month at 8 am on Saturday morning.

Here is my daughters' idea of cleaning:

Yes, playing in the gym.  I let them play, but I probably should have had them help me.  Next time I will.

Here is my idea of cleaning:
Yes, a nice, clean kitchen.  Luckily it was pretty clean already and my friend Amber worked on it with me so it was pleasant and easy.

Friday, August 10, 2012

I'm not a big soccer fan but . . .

I couldn't let the S. Korea vs. Japan bronze medal game go by without watching it!  And Korea won!
I can see why people like soccer--it was a very exciting game and Korea was in control virtually the entire game.  That's the best way to enjoy it!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Stressful shopping

I know, I know, why go shopping if it is stressful?  FOR THE DEALS!!  Here is part of what I picked up today.  There were other items as well, including several packages of meat, cheese, and yogurt.
I had coupons and "deals" for everything I bought except the fresh meat.  I made two mistakes, only one of which cost me money.

Did I mention it was stressful?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Read More Book Club

Every month I take myself to the book club one of my friends started.  Does that mean I have always read the book?  Ahem, taking the 5th on that one.  Here we are with this past month's pick:
Have you read it?

On the right is our crazy-smart facilitator and hostess Sandra:
Stephanie suggested next month's book which is The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World.  If you are in my area, let me know and you can come with me next time.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pretzel Dogs

You might have noticed pretzel dogs on the menu below.  They were delicious!
I've tried to make pretzels in the past, but they turned out more like nice twisted bread rolls.  The secret is to dip them in boiling water with a healthy dose of baking soda dissolved in it.  Thirty seconds, then onto the pan, sprinkle with salt and sesame seeds and into the oven.  The kids loved them and so did the adults.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Family Home Evening

About once a quarter our weekly Monday family home evening involves writing to missionaries.  Often Kevin is the lucky recipient, but this week we wrote to two missionaries in our ward as well as to Kevin.  All three are very nice young men and we are happy to remember them and to lighten their day a little with a letter.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Yes, dh is a smuggler.  He brought Kindereggs from Mexico to the USA this weekend.
When our friend GWP tried to bring us some from Canada a couple of years ago his were confiscated at the border.  It seems there is an American law against selling food with a non-food thing inside it.  They want to make sure we Americans don't overlook the yellow plastic capsule and the rainbow toy fairy inside and choke on them when we eat the chocolate shell.


Actually, dh did not hide the eggs and the border agent saw them and even commented on them, but waved them through.

Silly American law.

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday:  Baked potato soup, rolls
Dessert for Family Home Evening:  Black and Blue Cobbler with Brown Sugar-Pecan Biscuits
Tuesday:  Pretzel hot dogs

Wednesday:  Fast and Easy Red Beans and Sausage (Johnsonville Andouille package)

Thursday:  Seven-Layer Bean Dip (delayed until the weekend--we'll have leftovers instead)

Friday:  Bloomin' Pizza (from the freezer)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

How to store your cupcake liners

 Go look at this blog post about how to store your cupcake liners

I call them cupcake liners instead of muffin cups because I first thought she was going to talk about some kind of cup made of muffin batter.  When I clicked on the post I realized she was talking about the paper liners.  However, I never use paper liners with muffins because the muffin sticks to them unless you have time to let them sit for awhile.  I do need to check out those grease-proof liners she mentions, because maybe those would work for muffins.

I DO use them for cupcakes and found several packages in the back of my deep pantry cupboard that I'd forgotten about.  So nice to have them all in one tidy place now.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Elizabeth's sewing project

Elizabeth got the idea to make a rag doll and she has been surprisingly tenacious in her efforts!  I'm really pleased, as I've been known to sew a thing or two in my time as well.
She is using some fabric that was originally purchased to make a little set of overalls for David (he's 25 now . . . ) and I also used to make her a pioneer bonnet two summers ago.

The doll has a head, two arms, and one leg, some of which are pinned to the body already.  She's working on the last leg in this picture.  She is really happy with her efforts.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The first day of school

Today was the first day of school for my girls.  Here they are all loaded up with backpacks FULL of school supplies.
 Usually I like to get a shot of the girls in front of the bus as I did in 2011 and 2010.  Do you notice anything about this picture?
 Like . . . there is no bus??  And one never came?  Good thing dh and I were planning to put the girls on the bus, then follow it on its route and greet the girls when they got off anyway.  So today the "bus" was Mom's Honda.

Here they are inside the school.
 I told Sophia's friend Kira that she is in most of Sophia's first day of school pictures!  Check the 2011 picture in the link above.  She is Sophia's favorite friend.

 Caroline was at the head of the line this morning.  She was really excited to be starting school again.

 Elizabeth was farther back in line, but almost as excited to greet her old teacher who is their teacher again this year.  We are so very lucky to have her!