Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What a little whining will get me

I was doing a bit of whining because I work part-time and part of that part-time work coincides with dinner preparation time.  I can't stand having family members circle around asking when dinner is going to be ready when I'm doing the best I can to get it ready. 

This is what I think: I'm not the only one in the family at home at that hour who knows how to prepare food.  If no one else is going to step up and help, then there is no complaining or "hovering" allowed.
Guess who heard me and responded?  Sophia.  She is making dinner tonight--Buffalo wings and celery sticks.  I couldn't be happier.  My favorite meal is always the one I don't have to make.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Dh is home!

The reason I was thinking this week about a vacation was that dh was off on a vacation.  What's good for the gander is good for the goose, right? :-)

He's home and it's great to have him back.  He's my best friend.

He didn't get one of these:
or one of these:
BUT, he had an excellent time with his brothers and that was the highlight of the trip.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A birthday . . . cobbler?

A friend's birthday was today and they invited us over for dinner to celebrate.  It was all delicious.  However, the birthday boy isn't a big fan of cake, so he asked for cobbler.  His wife said, I'll go chat with my friend.
Her friend is Marie Callender.  Tasted great!

Meal Plan

Monday:  Honey Lime Chicken over rice

Tuesday:  Beef barley stew + bread [This stew is REALLY good--I made a second one and froze it in a gallon bag before cooking.  It'll be an easy dinner in a few weeks.]

Wednesday:  Pulled BBQ pork on buns, finger vegetables [slow cooked pork roast, shred and add bottle of BBQ sauce]


Friday:  Pizza

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Thinking about a trip . . . .

What about something like this?
I need to find someone to go with me because the price for a single is almost the same as a room for two and it would be cheaper and more fun to go with someone.  Perhaps next year, but I'm keeping it in the back of my mind.  :-)

Friday, April 26, 2013

This is the way you dress to go to a school activity

Family night and pajama party at school.  My kind of party!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Activity Day for Girls

Considering this Monday was Earth Day, I decided to do a nature-themed activity today.

We started out with a digital scavenger hunt.  We live in the desert so the list included things like:

rocks used for landscaping
cactus pads
and leaves (that's our marvelous mesquite tree)

There were about ten more items on the list and both teams found all of them, including a bird (and not one of the chickens!)

The second half of the activity was to plant things.
I got shade flowers (Impatiens) and sun flowers (Petunias) and let the girls choose which would work better at her house.  In addition my niece Carolyn brought over fruit and vegetable seeds and the girls planted them in cups.

We had peanut butter chocolate banana smoothies and everyone liked them.  As usual the whole activity was a hit.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Kids' junky toys

Are your children like mine in that a lot of little plastic "throwaway" toys come into their lives and into your house?

Elizabeth received this eye cover a few months ago and I thought it was kind of silly (although cute).  No one in our family has ever used an eye cover, so pretty superfluous, right?
Actually, the cover gets used almost every night!  Caroline likes to leave a small light on in their shared bedroom and Elizabeth likes it dark.  Everyone is happy this way.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

In honor of David and Alicia's wedding a year ago . . .

. . . some pictures Bill and I snapped of ourselves while we were waiting for them at the temple.

I think we're looking pretty . . . old.  Haha, you thought I was going to say just "pretty," didn't you?  I'm posting these anyway because in a few years I'll look back and wish I looked so young and beautiful. :-)

Monday, April 22, 2013

County Fair

I guess in most places they have a fair in the late summer or at harvest time.  Not here in the desert because no one would want to party in the heat!  So we have ours in the spring.  Much better.
A picture for Grandpa Andy:
(I used to know how to drive a similar tractor.  Long, long ago.)

And some very sweet and gentle animals . . . .
It was really fun for all of us!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Skillet tacos, tortilla chips, baby carrots, ranch dressing

Tuesday:  Cheddar bacon chicken tenders, waffle fries

Wednesday: Fiesta Chicken Enchiladas, beans, rice


Friday:  Pizza

A picture for Kevin (our other pilgrimage on Saturday)

We did some serious damage in the bulk section. 

WinCo has been in the Phoenix area since last fall and it's the first time I've been to one in a couple of years.  We'll be back. :-) :-)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Bass Pro Shop

Have you ever been to a Bass Pro Shop?  It's a sporting goods store that Bill has been wanting to visit for awhile, but it's in the Phoenix area, which is not where we live.

However, we went on one of our favorite outings which is the semiannual family trip to the LDS (Mormon) temple in Mesa, Arizona that our ward sponsors.  The kids go to a church building near the temple to play while the parents go to the temple to worship.  Afterward everyone goes back to the church building to enjoy a big pizza lunch (and chips and soda and cookies . . . ).  The kids love it and Bill and I love being able to go to the temple together and he's my favorite traveling companion so I always like the hours in the car with him.

So that trip took us near a Bass Pro Shop.  Look at the fireside area just inside the door:
There were comfortable leather chairs sitting around it.  I planned to go back and sit, but inside we found out they were having a children's exploration day in the store.  They got a card to check things off.  First they made a butterfly that they glued a thermometer onto.  Then they went upstairs and shot arrows.  Caroline was strong enough to use the real bow and arrows, while the other girls decided to use the sort of "play" set.

There were a couple of other activities as well.  The highlight of the day, however, was fish feeding time at the tank.  My pictures today left quite a bit to be desired, but you can get an idea of the magnitude of this tank in this picture (that's a glass-sided elevator through the water on the other side):

They liked when the feeder threw pellets out.  They liked it better when he threw out night crawlers.  The best (for them) was when the feeder threw out lots of little live fish and we watched the big ones, um, EAT the little fish.  I might have nightmares about that, myself.

We had a terrific day together.

Friday, April 19, 2013

My cousin is a Lt. Colonel!

Aren't these three lovely?
This is my aunt (father's sister) and my two beautiful cousins.  I grew up playing with them at Grandma's annual birthday bash in Augusts throughout my childhood.  I haven't seen either of my cousins in a long time, but thanks to Facebook, am able to keep up with them a bit.

My cousin has been a nurse (and now a RNP) in the Air Force for a long time and was just promoted to Lt. Colonel.  As you can see, this picture was taken before the ceremony. :-)

I'm really happy for her!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Peanut butter and cereal candy

My dad used to make this candy frequently and it was a favorite of my older children as he'd often have a pan of it waiting for them when we arrived at his house.  I've made it a few times, but one of the ingredients (Special K cereal) is expensive and almost never goes on sale, and since I'm more of a budget baker, it kind of fell off my idea list.

Several years ago I found a recipe for a peanut butter Cheerios candy and when I made it I realized it was the same as my dad's candy, but with Cheerios instead of Special K.

Guess what was on sale this week?
Cheerios and peanut butter.

Here is the recipe:

Mix in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently:

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup

Remove from heat.  Stir in:

1 1/2 cups peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Pour over 5 cups Special K (or Cheerios or another cereal) and mix, then pat into a buttered 9 x 13 pan.  Cool.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

If you leave chickens out . . .

. . . you'd better go looking for eggs!
This morning when I opened the coop to feed the girls two of them hopped out and went straight to the flower bed to scratch around.  They were NOT interested in going back into the coop, and I didn't want to chase them, so I let them stay out while I ran errands this morning.

When I got back they cluck, cluck, clucked around my ankles and followed me back to the coop and hopped right back in.

This nest was near the coop.  I don't think you can see, but they made it into a bowl shape before laying their eggs.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New curtains for Sophia

This morning I woke up and knew this was the day I was going to make curtains for Sophia's window.  She has metal blinds so no privacy problems, but *ugly* problems instead.

I went to JoAnn fabrics and after much looking and a final push from an acquaintance I ran into there, got this cute retro flower fabric. 

I was going to line the curtains, but I ended up getting heavy decorator's fabric and decided not to.  I'm very pleased with them.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Marathon 2013

Keeping the victims and their families in my thoughts.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday: Papa Murphy's pizza

Tuesday: Jack Cheese Oven Omelet, summer squash

Wednesday:   Skillet tacos, tortilla chips, baby carrots, ranch dressing

Thursday:   Cheddar bacon chicken tenders

Friday:  Pizza pockets, root beer

Ready for Church

Caroline really liked her outfit for Church today and asked me to take a picture of her in it. 
She's wearing a sisters necklace from Alicia and David's wedding and a beaded bracelet I made recently.  Caroline is almost 11 years old.

When I uploaded the Caroline's picture for this post I saw Cuddles was also photographed during the day.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A homey Saturday

Today was a homemaking kind of Saturday.  First thing this morning I went to Market On The Move which is the food co-op where for $10 you can have up to about 60 pounds of produce that would have been taken from the inspection station at the US-Mexican border to the dump because it was not picked up on time. 

I got:

English cucumbers
yellow summer squash
little sweet bell peppers

Doesn't sound like much, but from the tomatoes I got:
30 jars of diced tomatoes.  They were all pints except the last one which was a half-pint.  I was out of tomato pints (still have a few quarts) and was having to use store-bought ones. (!!!)

David stopped by around lunch time, then he and Bill went to a gun show.  It was David's first and he was quite intrigued, Bill said.

A little later Alicia dropped in and we chatted while I finished up the canning.  She suddenly had a hankering to pet and hold a chicken, so I sent her out with a container of scraps to entice them.  They're very friendly.

You can see the towels drying in the sun behind her.  I got a couple of loads of laundry done too.
In the evening, a cook-out with David and Alicia and all of us.
It was a good day.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sneaky smart school

The girls' school is sneaky smart!  Next week the school will administer the high-stakes test that is required of all children in certain grades.  TODAY they had an assembly just for the students who will be taking the test next week and handed out prizes.

What were they and what were they for?  All the students who achieved or exceeded the national average on the three parts of the exam LAST year received a recognition certificate and a free kids' meal pass to Sonic Drive-In today.  And it wasn't only if they achieved on all three tests, they handed out certificates for EACH part of the test.  One of my girls came home with three certificates and another with two.
In addition, my girls' teacher made a video featuring her students and they gave test-taking tips in a humorous way.  I hear it was a hit video at the assembly.

So . . . do well on the exam and LOOK!! you might get a free meal!  Honestly, the exam reflects on the students, teachers, school, and district, and I don't blame the school for doing whatever honest thing they can think of to encourage the children to try their hardest.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Library book-pulling service

Does your library offer this?  Whenever I hear about an interesting book, I get on my library's website, bring up my account, find the book online, and request a hold.  When the book is available they tag it, put it on these shelves in alphabetical order by last name (of course--it's the library), and shoot me an email to tell me it's available.

I can park the car, walk into the library, get my book, use the self-checkout, and be back in the car in under 60 seconds.
I find out about books to reserve three main ways:

--my monthly book club selection
--book reviews and "top 10" lists that are published in newpapers and magazines, especially at the end of the year
--author chats on NPR

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Funny chickens

I should look up that phrase--"funny chickens."  I think I've titled about four posts with that!

The chickens haven't been out of their coop for a few days so I let them out this evening.  One of the first places they headed was to the blooming rose bush.  My being there distracted them from their operations, so this is the best I could get:
(Nice assortment of "stuff" in the picture, isn't there?  LOL)

Those three little girls love, love, love to eat rose petals.  They stand around the rose bush and s-t-r-e-t-c-h their necks up to grab a rose in their beaks.  If that doesn't work, they make vertical leaps to try to grab a tasty treat.  We watched them from the kitchen and laughed and laughed at them!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I'm glad these days are behind me (math homework mentioned)

Honestly, I  hate math drills.  I know why they're important, but often I think children can learn with a little less repetition.

Here is Caroline's math homework sheet:
There is lots of borrowing involved and I'm not surprised because the teacher is getting them (Caroline and Elizabeth are in the same class) ready for high-stakes testing coming up next week.  A little reminder never hurts.

What was your favorite kind of math in school?  I liked geometry.

Monday, April 8, 2013

If it's the "A" house after the General Conference men's session . . .

. . . it must be the semi-annual banana split party!
We had

4 kinds of ice cream
4 kinds of spoonable toppings, some homemade
chopped walnuts
whipped cream
maraschino cherries

NO one went home hungry.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Meal Plan Sunday

Monday:  Chicken nuggets and sweet potato fries

Tuesday:  Cincinnati-style chili, salad

Wednesday:  Chicken salad wraps, probably wrapped in tortillas, fresh carrots sticks


Friday:  Pizza and root beer

Marriage advice from an Elder in the LDS Church

This excellent advice was given by Elder L. Whitney Clayton during the Sunday morning session of General Conference:

With the directive to "watch and learn," Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Seventy shared five principles he has learned from examples of faithful marriages.

1. Treasure. "I have observed that in the happiest marriages both the husband and wife consider their relationship to be a pearl beyond price, a treasure of infinite worth. … They know that no other relationship of any kind can bring as much joy, generate as much good or produce as much personal refinement," he said. "Watch and learn: the best marriage partners regard their marriages as priceless. 
2. Faith. He said successful eternal marriages are built on a foundation of faith in Jesus Christ and His teachings. Husbands and wives share a "mutual quest" to be obedient and good. "They do not consider the commandments to be a buffet from which they can pick and choose only the most appealing offerings," he said.
Explaining that faith strengthens marriage and faith grows as individuals keep the commandments, Elder Clayton declared, "Thus keeping the commandments is fundamental to establishing strong eternal marriages. Watch and learn: faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation of happy eternal marriages.
Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Elder L. Whitney Clayton
 3. Repentance. Elder Clayton said repentance is tied to humility. "Repentance helps restore and maintain harmony and peace" while humility "means that both husbands and wives seek to bless, help and lift each other, putting the other first in every decision. Watch and learn: repentance and humility build happy marriages."

4. Respect. He said this comes as husbands and wives "treat each other as equal partners" and "make decisions unanimously." Elder Clayton said husbands and wives "never do or say anything that approaches the appearance of impropriety, either virtually or physically. Watch and learn: terrific marriages are completely respectful, transparent and loyal."

5. Love. "The happiest marriages I have seen radiate obedience to one of the happiest commandments — that we 'live together in love,' (Doctrine and Covenants 42:45). … Watch and learn: successful couples love each other with complete devotion."
Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Elder L. Whitney Clayton

To those who are single, divorced, single parents or for various reasons are not in a position to marry, Elder Clayton counseled, "Seek after the ideal of forming an eternal marriage, including by striving or preparing to be a worthy spouse. … One day every promised blessing concerning marriage will be yours."

In conclusion, Elder Clayton said, "Marriage is a gift from God to us; the quality of our marriages is a gift from us to Him."

Katie here again:  this is a brief outline of his talk, and I look forward to reading the whole thing when it is published online in a couple of days.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Alicia, my daughter-in-law has an etsy store called HappySquidMuffin and one of her enduring best sellers are little crocheted squids.  I had her bring her yarn over so she could teach me how to make them AND it would help me concentrate on General Conference which we watched at home together.

Here are a couple of my "rejects":
They are actually a lot smaller than they appear in this picture.  My crocheting ability is slipping--I think only 2 of the 5 or 6 I made are actually saleable.  LOL

Friday, April 5, 2013

Use your camera to help put things back together again

One of the burners on my stove has not worked for quite awhile and Bill suddenly realized what was wrong with it and that it wouldn't be hard or expensive to fix.  I guess that's an advantage of ds's job working for a national parts company and being thoroughly trained in appliance operation and parts; he shares information with Bill.

He had to replace the little black box in this picture, so I took a picture of it so he knew exactly where to reattach each wire.
It worked like a charm!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Let the summer begin!

We have swimming suits!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The ballet bug has bitten

. . . and now I'm waiting for the "I want a horse" speech.  Doesn't every girl want to take ballet lessons and/or riding lessons?  I know I wanted both when I was in grade school.

Elizabeth has taken a sudden interest in ballet.  Luckily she has a Kindle Fire and was able to look up dance positions and read about the suggested equipment.

She started the day with a big bun in her hair which was then decorated for dancing.
She added a twirly skirt, top, and tights to approximate a tutu and tights.  She was dying to have something like ballet shoes and I suddenly remembered I had some old ones in my closet.  She dug them out and with a few adjustments had a pair of ballet shoes that made her happy.  Me too.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Penguin wings!

Elizabeth has long been my child who makes things out of . . . let's say "recyclables."

Today she came in to my office wearing these on her hands.  They are penguin wings, of course.  She drew around her hands/forearms on paper, then cut them out and glued the edges.  She noted they got tighter after she glued them.

My girls have been on a penguin kick since discovering ClubPenguin.com a couple of years ago, Caroline in particular.  I don't know why it took so long for someone to make penguin wings. :-)