Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I haven't made donuts in about five years and decided that was way too long to wait.  I mixed up some potato dough . . .
. . . used my high-tech donut cutters (I used the scoop to press out the "hole") . . .
. . . and let them raise.
The last of the glazed donuts:
Dh ran into some of our friends while out Trick or Treating and look what the 2 1/2 dozen dounuts turned into:

[I ran into some technical difficulties while uploading pictures.  I'll try again tomorrow.]

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Roasted pumpkin seeds

After the pumpkin carving last night, of course the next task was to roast the seeds.  I didn't used to do this, but now I really like the salty, crunchy seeds and never miss an opportunity to make them.
Here is the recipe I used:

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • One medium sized pumpkin
  • Salt
  • Olive oil


1 Cut open the pumpkin by cutting a circle around the stem end, and pulling off the top. Use a strong metal spoon to scrape the insides of the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and strings. Place the mass of pumpkin seeds in a colander and run under water to rinse and separate the seeds from the everything else.
2 Measure the pumpkin seeds in a cup measure. Place the seeds in a medium saucepan. Add 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to the pan for every half cup of pumpkin seeds. Add more salt if you would like your seeds to be saltier. Bring the salted water and pumpkin seeds to a boil. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.
3 Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat the bottom of a roasting pan with olive oil, about a tablespoon. Spread the seeds out over the roasting pan in a single layer. Bake on the top rack until the seeds begin to brown, 5-20 minutes, depending on the size of the seeds. Small pumpkin seeds may toast in around 5 minutes or so, large pumpkin seeds may take up to 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the pumpkin seeds so they don't get over toasted. When nicely browned, remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a rack. Let the pumpkin seeds cool all the way down before eating.
Either crack to remove the inner seed (a lot of work and in my opinion, unnecessary) or eat whole.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Comiso Air Station, Sicily

This is a Google satellite picture with the arrow pointing to my old townhouse apartment.  It was one of the nicer homes I've lived in, and certainly the best military housing I ever had.

That runway in the picture was not active at the time I lived there and we crossed it to get from the main part of the tiny base to the housing area.

This is a video with awesome still photos that were taken about 17 years after the base closed (so the pictures are recent).  I left shortly before the final base closure.  It's interesting to see what happens when "nature" is allowed to take over.  I didn't see my own street housing, but my apartment was very similar to the ones in the video.  I did have to take a close look at a picture of an overgrown bougainvillea, because it was in the same relative location as one at the front of my apartment.

I was delighted and thrilled to get the assignment to Sicily.  I had never lived overseas and who wouldn't want to move to a Mediterranean island?  The base was closing at the time I arrived, and Iraq had just invaded Kuwait.  There was a lot of tension and a lot of the military members on the base were gone to Desert Storm.  But . . . it was still a Mediterranean island with thousands of years of history right out the back fence.

It was one of my favorite places I've ever lived.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday:  Beans and rice

Tuesday:  Chicken Curry (recipe on packages my neighbor brought me back from Malaysia)

Wednesday:  Mole Chili, cornbread


Friday:  Pizza

Halloween has started!

Last night was our ward Halloween party.  It's always held at the home of ward members who have a large acreage right in the middle of town.  It's a perfect location and the couple are wonderful and generous hosts.

Elizabeth went as Red Riding Hood . . . .
Oh, Red Riding Hood with a black eye and blood streaming down her face, naturally.

Caroline went as a cat . . . .
And Sophia . . . well, I forgot to get a picture before she took her costume off!

More pictures to come this week, I'm sure.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A funny on myself

This morning was the Bountiful Baskets fruit and vegetable co-op pick up.  Instead of just picking up my basket, I always help with the distribution (produce comes in farmers' boxes and we break them up into the baskets for each  participant).  After everything was distributed into the 56 baskets, I went to sign the list to get my basket and . . . my name was not there!

My first thought was that what happened a couple of years ago had happened again: between the time I selected my basket and I pushed the "order" button, the last basket was sold.  I wasn't charged, but I didn't get a confirmation slip either, and I didn't realize it until I was getting ready to go that morning.

But . . .

I had printed my confirmation slip this time.  I had left it at home on accident, but I *had* printed it.

I went racing home and got online to figure out what had happened.  I printed off the slip again and took a close look at it.

I had mistakenly selected a site 7 miles away!  There is only a 20 minute pick up window, it was 3 minutes until pick up time started, and I didn't know the area of town I was supposed to go to.  I jumped in the car and followed the basic direction on my confirmation slip and eventually found myself at a really pretty desert park in the south part of town.

I wasn't too late and I even still had a choice of pumpkins.
I'll be more careful with my mouse click next time.  LOL

Friday, October 26, 2012

Poor Toek is molting!

My chicken is molting for the second time.  Her feathers are all over the coop area!

This picture has a little patch of sunshine on her back, but you can compare the two tails and see Toek doesn't have much of hers left!
The beautiful gold bird is Spot.  She is the one whose health we have been worried about.  She looks big in this picture, but her tail is about half the length and volume it should be, and she weighs practically nothing under all those pretty feathers.
I don't know how these chickens turned into pets instead of little egg factories. :-/

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What a dicotomy in my mailbox today!

A free sample from Target.

A credit card bill.

I think I'll open the sample first because I *know* what the bill is going to look like!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

This week's Family Home Evening

Monday was my turn to be in charge of Family Home Evening.  For some reason three pillows had been placed on the floor, each with a large-size hymn book on it, and that gave me the idea to have a musical Family Home Evening.

We started off with each person looking up a scripture extolling the virtues of music and song.  We found scriptures in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
Then each person told what his or her favorite hymn or children's song was, I played it on the piano, and we all sang each one.  Most of the family also told why it was his or her favorite.

That's it.  It was a good Family Home Evening and was followed by chocolate pudding cake.  Perfect.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I can't wait for election day!

I get to vote for Mitt Romney!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Naughty dh

Look what dh is making for Sunday evening:
Chocolate chip walnut cookies.  Sigh.

But!!!  Tonight is the first high-powered choir rehearsal for our Stake Conference and early prep for the Stake Christmas concert.  Have I *perhaps* mentioned how much I like singing in good choirs?

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday:  Tater-Topped casserole (gotta watch those brand name shout-outs there)

Tuesday:  Taco soup

Wednesday:  Fresh Take chicken or pork, roasted potatoes

Thursday:  Spaghetti, salad, cheese toast 

Friday:  Pizza

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chicken washing

Spot does not feel good.  She is weak and isn't eating well.  She needed a bath and Eizabeth decided to take care of the task.  I would have done it differently, but I appreciated that Elizabeth saw a need and took care of it.
Even after wrapping Spot up in a towel to dry her, she was really heavy with wet feathers.  No camera caught it but she enjoyed a nice blow-drying with a warm dryer.  Well, as much as a sick, wet chicken can enjoy anything.

This was actually last Saturday and she spent the next day in a plastic tub in the house and then on the back porch being coddled.  I wonder if being the lowest chicken in the pecking order is causing stress that has led to her being ill?  We did not think she would be alive a week later, but she is hanging in there.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Big grocery shopping trip!

I haven't done much grocery shopping lately, but I loved some of the sales at Fry's this week, thanks to General Mills.
In all I got about

16 cereals
10 cake mixes
10 flavored potatoes
8 granola bars
6 brownies
4 pudding packs
6 enchilada sauces
4 Chef Boyardee
4 pizzas
4 yogurts
case of soda
bag of candy
4 gallons milk

After coupons, cash back, etc, it was about $50.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The phone from @#$%

Between this phone and my previous--now non-working--phone, I have wasted more than 8 hours.  And as of right now, I still don't have a working VoIP phone with which to call my students.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mystery solved!

Last month I received my credit card bill and it showed I had missed a payment.  That is NOT how I do things, but I arranged to get the overdue bill and the current charges paid as soon as possible, and wondered how I could have made that kind of mistake.

All that did not enter my mind yesterday when I received a statement from a credit card I closed a couple of years ago that showed no charges, yet a payment had been made, to the tune of . . .
. . . yes, $661!
I called the bank and the man was as confused as I was, but asked for a couple of minutes to research the situation.  He came back on and asked if there were any possibility I had used my electronic payment system and paid the wrong credit card.
About then the haze from my mind lifted and I remembered the "missed" payment.  Yep, they were the same.
Mystery solved and I'll be receiving a $661 check in the mail in a few days.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Good bye, old friends

Can shirts that have been in the family for years be considered old friends?  The girls usually do their own wash, but I had extra time today so I did it for them.

The first shirt was originally purchased from The Gap for younger step-daughter when we lived in Idaho.  Her mother played that "game" that childish divorced parents sometimes play, which is to not send clothes with the children for weekend visitations.  We went to The Gap and picked up this shirt, a pair of jeans, a dress/jumper, and a shirt to wear under it, in addition to a pair of dress shoes.

Since then all three of the younger girls have worn this shirt (as well as the jumper and other shirt), but when I was folding clothes I saw this one has a little hole in the lower left as well as some light stains and open hem seams.  So this one has had its last wearing.
The red Lands' End polo has an even longer history.  When I was a single parent I was really poor, so I shopped for my children at thrift stores.  However--I only bought the good-quality brand names!  I remember I got this shirt for Kevin for only about $1.50 and he wore it for quite awhile, then my step-daughter, and then two of the three younger girls, in addition to whoever wore it before donating it to the thrift store.

 Kevin tore a three-cornered hole in the lower right early on and I couldn't afford to throw out the shirt so I stitched it up with a needle and thread.  Elizabeth has especially liked this shirt, but the last time she wore it I noticed the edges of the sleeves were frayed and there were some light stains in it as well.

I'm going to cut the buttons off the polo shirt and bravely drop them both into the trash.  Wait.  I've heard little cotton scraps can be composted.  Maybe I'll do that.  Or not.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mystery Quilt III

Of course I didn't *do* MQ I or MQ II, but I *am* doing Mystery Quilt III. :-) 

When I first heard about QuiltersWorld's mystery quilt about a year ago, I hadn't ever pieced a quilt and didn't want to learn on a quilt I didn't even know if I'd like!  Since then I've pieced two projects, including a bed-sized quilt, and feel confident enough to delve into a Mystery Quilt.

Week 1: instructions to find light, medium, and dark "warm" toned fabric scraps, along with cream or white background fabric, and the quantities were given.

Week 2:  start cutting specific colors into precise sizes, including triangles!  I've been wanting to do something with triangles, which is something new for me.

Week 3:  I don't know yet because it's only week 2.  I suspect I'll have 2 more weeks of cutting, then start sewing in Week 5.

I think the pattern might be some kind of leaf pattern.  I hope it is, but am open to whatever it works up to be.  I've been wanting to make an Autumn quilt for several years now, so thanks to the colors, no matter what the design turns out to be, it'll be an Autumn quilt.
The yellow looks awfully bright in this picture; in reality it's a soft mustard color.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday:  Sloppy Joe Casserole,  green salad [This casserole was a big hit with everyone.  I made whole wheat yeast dough and put balls of it on top instead of the commercial biscuits called for.]

Tuesday:  Egg, potato, green chili, Mexican cheese casserole

Wednesday:  Sausage Tortellini Soup, rolls [Everyone loved this.  I used a bigger package of tortellini than called for and would recommend that.  It was 13 oz.]

Thursday:  Pumpkin soup

Friday:  Pizza

Temple location?

Mormons in Tucson are getting a temple!  Actually, everyone in the city will be able to take a tour during the Open House before the temple is dedicated to God, so I guess you could say everyone in Tucson is getting a temple.

This is a possible location:
The blue dot is a location where the LDS Church has 10 acres and it is widely thought to be the location for the construction of the new temple.  However, until the Church officially announces a location, it is just speculation.  Which is tons of fun.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Stake BBQ

No, I didn't misspell "steak."  In Mormonspeak, a "stake" is the umbrella organization above a local congregation, or "ward."  There are usually about 7-11 wards in a stake.  Today was the annual stake BBQ and it is always a big event.

For the past few years dinner has been delicious, succulent pulled pork with BBQ sauce, ranch beans, coleslaw, and a wonderful thin flour tortilla.  In addition there is a big dessert table with cookies and cupcakes.  This year was no different and I was glad.  There was also a free snow cone booth, jumping castles for the kids, along with a fishing pond (prizes), face painting, and a football game.

Here are two of my girls with their pretty face art:

 Elizabeth got this one first and it is a vine of roses.
This came second and it's dead roses.  Her idea.  Funny!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Perfect attendance

The girls ended their first semester and both Caroline and Elizabeth had perfect attendance.  Today was an award ceremony for perfect attendance as well as six other classroom awards such as a Kindness Award and a Super Reader award.

My girls were very pleased with themselves!
About 50 more students were called from just the 3-5 grades.  About 1/3 of the school's students had perfect attendance which really pleased me (and the principal!).  I think school is so important that almost nothing should keep children away from school except medical appointments, sickness, and very important family events such as weddings or funerals.  Anything else on the part of the parent is either bad or lazy parenting or both.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Activity Day

Today I decided our activity would center on this activity in the Serving Others section of the Faith in God for Girls booklet:
Write a letter to a teacher, your parents, or your grandparents telling them what you appreciate and respect about them.

I didn't want them to just write a letter (and that wouldn't take up the alloted 75 minutes), so I got the idea to have the girls make pop up cards to go with their letters of appreciation.  This YouTube video told me everything I needed to know.

The girls and I thought up things they might admire and respect in someone and I wrote them down on a big sheet of paper. They wrote their letters on triangular pieces of paper.

After they made their cards and decorated them, I glued their notes inside each one.  Aren't they cute?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Guess which bobcat we saw in our neighborhood today?

If you guessed the second one, you're right. 

I walked the girls to school since it was "Walk or Ride Your Bike To School Day," and near the school the girls saw a "cat."  They had already decided it was some kind of wild cat before I got there to see it.  I thought it was an ocelot.

On my walk home several people were watching something on another street and it was the same cat.  When I got home I looked up "ocelot" and found out it would be a really rare thing to see one here, although possible.  In addition, the ocelot's ears were rounded instead of pointed with a tuft of hair.  At that point Bill said, Oh, you probably saw a bobcat!

I looked up "bobcat" and found the picture above on wikipedia.  It's the variety of cat we saw.

Bill said it would love to eat our chickens and even the chicken wire cage would not stop it, but no problem because the bobcat was in the next neighborhood across a busy street.

Half an hour later I left in the car for an appointment and guess what I saw at the end of our street . . . ?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Our favorite muffins

My girls are always delighted when I make these pumpkin muffins.  We had these with our soup tonight.  I found the recipe on the Internet and I'm sorry I don't remember where so I could give credit.
Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon-Pecan Streusel

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree

Cinnamon-Pecan Streusel
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 Tablespoons butter or margarine
3/4 cup chopped pecans


1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease 18 wells of regular size muffin tins.
2.  In a stand mixer or mixing bowl, combine the butter or margarine and sugar until smooth.
3.  In a mixing bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt.
4.  Add the eggs, 1 at a time, to the butter and sugar mixture.  Stir after adding each egg and scrape down the sides if using a stand mixer.
5.  Next stir in about half the flour mixture, until smooth.  Then add half the milk and stir until smooth.  Repeat with the other half of the flour and milk.  Finally, mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree.  Mix until just smooth.  Pour into the greased muffin wells.
6.  In a small mixing bowl, combine all the streusel ingredients and cut the butter in with a fork, table knife, or pastry blender.  Once it is crumbly, sprinkle all of the topping over the 18 muffins.
7.  Bake in the preheated oven for 21-23 minutes.

Makes 18 delicious and perfectly moist muffins.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Do you know this variety?

Unfortunately this butterfly was not alive when the girls found it, but it is beautiful anyway.
Anyone know what variety it is?

Added:  word has it this is a Giant Swallowtail, one of the largest butterflies in our area

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Elder Oaks's talk at General Conference

This is Elder Dallin H. Oaks, an apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  On Saturday afternoon he gave a very interesting talk about protecting our children.

His talk is summarized as follows:
Children are highly vulnerable. They have little or no power to protect or provide for themselves and little influence on so much that is vital to their well-being. Children need others to speak for them, and they need decision makers who put their well-being ahead of selfish adult interests.

We are all under the Savior’s command to love and care for each other and especially for the weak and defenseless.
This is a 0:46 excerpt from a longer talk and I wish everyone would take his words to heart.

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday:  fast food, take out, or something from the freezer

Tuesday:  cheddar broccoli soup, muffins

Wednesday:   hamburger/green bean/mashed potato casserole

Thursday:  Breakfast for dinner--quick dinner (Girls' Activity Day)

Friday:  Pizza

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Happy birthday, Bill!

Dh got up early today and went hunting.  When he came home he grilled up the burgers and we had a good BBQ picnic lunch here at the house.  In the evening he brought several friends home with him after the men's meeting (LDS Church General Conference this weekend--the guys have a men-only session on Saturday night) and we had huge banana splits AND birthday cake.  It was great!

What do you notice about the Barred Rock (black and white) chicken?
Does this picture help?
Does she look mad as a wet hen?  We were outside eating our burgers when we heard a squawking from the pool.  We ran over and this chicken was in the water!  She swam along the side of the pool but couldn't get out, so dh reached in and grabbed her.

We usually (like 99.8% of the time) have our pool covered with a safety net, but it was off because the girls went swimming earlier and we hadn't gotten it back on yet.  To be honest, I never thought of it as keeping chickens out of the pool, only children.  I think she leaned in wanting to get a drink and went all the way in.

Poor Toek was pretty indignant.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Getting ready for dh's birthday

Tomorrow is Bill's big day and I'm preparing as much as I can ahead of time.

We have three things to prepare:
  • birthday cake
  • a hamburger bbq lunch
  • a banana split party
Here is the cake part of the German chocolate cake.  It's from scratch, of course.  I'll make the coconut-pecan filling tomorrow.

Next is one of our family's favorite picnic sides which is nothing more than Cool Whip, drained fruit cocktail, miniature marshmallows, and dry Jello mixed together.  It's best when it's made the day before and refrigerated.
The rest of the luncheon's supplies are in the fridge and freezer.

This looks like two jars of the same thing, but they're not.  The one in the Kerr jar is homemade hot fudge topping and the one in the Ball jar is butterscotch topping.  They're for the banana split party. 
In addition to the toppings I made, I bought premium vanilla ice cream, and also chunky strawberry ice cream and "Death By Chocolate" ice cream. Oh, and some pumpkin pie ice cream just because I couldn't resist. I don't know if anyone will want that kind of ice cream in their banana split. I got several big cans of aerosol whipped cream and will chop some walnuts to go on top.
 My fridge yielded some maraschino cherries and a couple of partial jars of ice cream topping, and my counter has 5 bananas in a bowl with "banana split" written on the skin in red Sharpie.  
The banana split party is my tradition after the priesthood session of LDS General Conference every April and October. I put it on for my family as well as anyone Bill brings home with him after the priesthood session.
And I made a nice cinnamon apple cake just because autumn has come!


Thursday, October 4, 2012

School's out--a trip to the zoo

The girls are on Fall Break this week, so we went to the zoo and had a picnic today.
Although it is autumn here, it's almost 90 degrees today and that's cooled off from earlier this week. 

While we were watching the new baby zebra . . .
. . . we watched a robber squirrel.
It was in the tortoise area and it was stuffing greens into its mouth as fast as it could.  And it turned out to be a good idea!
The robber squirrel hid behind a branch and didn't come out again until the tortoise moved on.  It seemed to know it was a thief!
One of our favorite sections of the zoo is the elephant area.  We like it because there is a lovely habitat for the elephants as well as an education area the girls really like.  I watch the elephants, they play in the education area.
Our zoo had three baby boy births the last week of August.  The zebra was one, and this cute flamingo was another:
I never knew baby flamingos were gray.

I always like to take a few pictures of the girls so in a year or two or twenty I can marvel at their growth.  Here is Elizabeth on our favorite brass sculpture:
And Sophia . . .
. . . and all three girls.
At the egg:
And finally, my tiger girls: