Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Once again, I have to give a shout out for my library.  I have a great system for getting good books to read.  I read a review online or in a magazine or newspaper, then get online with the library and reserve the book.  When it comes in (24 hours to 9 months), I get an email letting me know I have 7 days to come in and get my book.  It's already been pulled for me and is waiting on a shelf near the self-check out.

[Local readers might recognize the name of one of the other users.]

I took my two books, checked them out, returned the girls' books . . .
. . . and was back in the car in 90 seconds. 

This is a wonderful way to conveniently and cheaply read the books others are talking about.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I never thought I'd be buying anything in a store with this kind of display on the counter . . . .

The tiny girls needed some food so I stopped in and got a 50 pound bag of feed for them.  Really, I never thought I'd shop in this sort of place.
(I have no idea what the burlap secret is for the stock tank.)

Monday, July 29, 2013


My neighbor brought me the last of the figs from her fig bush this morning.  She'd brought some over a couple of days before and they were divinely delicious.
I didn't know if  I could eat all the ones she brought so I decided to make jam out of them.  I had three envelopes of Ball Pectin for low- or no-sugar jam in my pantry and wanted to try them out.  Everything went well, but I don't love the jam.  It turned out to have a consistency more like applesauce than jam and I think that was because I used about 1/4 the amount of sugar I would have typically used.  It's not bad, but I'll make full-sugar jam next time. 

I got 6 half-pints in my new canning jars.  Aren't they a great size?  They have a wide mouth so they are super convenient for spooning jam out.  I didn't really need any more jars, but I saw them in the store . . . .

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The pool is looking great!

I'm so glad Bill decided to fire the chemical company and deal with the pool himself!  Here is what it looks like today:
Doesn't that look nice?  It is still a little cloudy, so we are filtering it and backwashing the filter like crazy, but I think it will be ready for swimming tomorrow.  A week ago I never would have believed it.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bill's busy day

Bill has been working on our pool water these past few days.  We hired a pool chemical company to take care of our water about a month ago.  Within days it was turquoise, then green, then yellow-green with the appearance of pea soup.  Not quite as thick as that, but very cloudy and the same color.  The company said the chlorine was fine and we needed to run the filter more.  After running it non-stop for a week and the water's looking the same, dh came to the conclusion that it wasn't going to get better with the chemical company and he'd better fire them. 

To do a chlorine shock to a pool our size, you put in about 5 pounds of powdered chlorine.  In two administrations yesterday, Bill put a total of 15 pounds into our pool.  It's amazing the difference a LOT of chlorine makes!
It's still not the clear light blue it should be, but it is an 85 on a scale of where it was (0) to where it should be (100).  It's so much better that I'm pretty sure we'll be swimming in it again by Monday.

Another project he did was one Elizabeth had been asking him to do--build a bird house.  I couldn't get a very good picture because of the lighting, but here is the bird house, about 20 feet in the air.  Just let me catch a neighborhood cat trying to climb that pole!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Our favorite lunch lady

This summer the park near our home hosted breakfasts and lunches for children.  Just show up and take one.  My children enjoyed them and made good friends with the very friendly supervisor, Miss Maria.
Now I have to get back to thinking up new and exciting meals after a good rest this summer.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A knitted sweater for me??

My friend in Australia is going to knit me a sweater!!  She does gorgeous work and I've admired it and her for years.  She made me a scarf several years ago that I love:
This is the sweater I'm thinking about.  I really like the idea of one that is mostly open in the front, although I know the fit would be different because I'm a different shape than this woman.
What do you think?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Curio is back (for a visit)

Carolyn took pity on Curio and had him shaved for the summer.  We live in the desert and she doesn't have air conditioning, only a swamp cooler.  Poor kitty.  This is what he used to look like:
And here he is tonight:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Like brother, like sister?

Years ago Kevin was kind of obsessed with "altering" things.  One of my favorites was finding a Barbie out on the balcony hanging from a length of blue yarn by her ankles. 

Look what I found hanging from Sophia's bedroom door frame:

Monday, July 22, 2013

We have a new favorite kids' movie

About five years ago we happened to record A Cinderella Story and it struck a chord.  Bill was working out of town, so it was just the girls and me.  We snuggled together in my bed and watched that movie at least twenty-five times over the months he was gone.  I hated to move and lose my DVR movies, but we did and haven't found the movie again since.


We may have found another movie to take its place.
Teen Beach Movie was on TV last weekend and wisely, we recorded it.  It's a fluffy, fun movie and the girls have been enjoying it immensely.  Me too.  It has lots of singing and dancing on the beach, along with a Sharks and Jets/Grease kind of story.  Just the kind of movie we need on long, hot summer afternoons.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Meal Plan Sunday

This is the 5th or 6th week of eating {mostly} from our pantry.  I'm trying to get things cleared out of the freezers in particular and save a little cash.

The menu is a work-in-progress.

Monday:  Chicken nuggets from the freezer, fresh salad, grapes

Tuesday:  Grilled sweet-and-sour meatballs, brown rice. I'm going to use this recipe as inspiration and use what I have on hand. I think it will involve meatballs, bbq sauce, pineapple chunks, and little sweet peppers.



Friday:  Pizza

I was the music conductor in Church today!

In LDS Church sacrament meetings in the United States we typically sing in four-part harmony, accompanied by an organ and led by a music conductor.  Our usual conductor is out of town for a couple of weeks and he asked me to be his substitute.

I used to have this calling--to lead the music every Sunday in church and I shouldn't have been nervous, but I was.
The opening song went fine, then came the sacrament song.  It was in 2/2 (not my favorite meter) and slow.  In addition it had a bunch of fermatas, which were awkward.  I got through it and was grateful the priests finished breaking the sacrament bread quickly so I didn't have to into the extra verses.  The closing song was short and zippy, so things closed well.

Next week:  I get to lead my favorite sacrament hymn.  Come visit my ward meeting next Sunday to see what it is. :-)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Lots of tomatoes today!

Today was Market on the Move which is the one that gives you up to 60 pounds of produce for a $10 donation.  It's produce that would have gone to the landfill in Nogales, Arizona because it was not picked up at the inspection station for one reason or another.
I needed a few more jars of spaghetti sauce and had a couple packets of Mrs. Wage's spaghetti sauce spice which I bought at a deep discount last year.  Time to get 'em made.
I had a full box of Roma tomatoes and about 3/4 of another one.  If you look closely you can see a tomato in this box I definitely did not use.  Part of the price for this kind of produce.
 I washed tomatoes in the right side, then cut the core out and removed the seeds before giving them a quick dip in boiling water to make the skins slip off.  Excess skin and cores went in to the compost bucket.
 The tomatoes in the orange bowl were cooling enough for me to remove the skins and put the tomatoes in the Ninja blender.
 In the back is the spaghetti sauce and on the front burner the front is the first batch of tomato puree.  That's what I made with the excess tomatoes since I already had enough salsa and diced tomatoes in jars on the pantry shelf.
 The result was 17 jars of spaghetti sauce and tomato puree in various sizes, mostly pints.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Random Kevin picture

I'm going to say this is a picture of someone Kevin and his companion met and are teaching.  Pretty nice looking house, and all that green . . . !

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Newbery Award-winning books!

For a few months now I've been thinking about my assorted Newbery books, wanting to gather them from various shelves in couple of bookcases, match them up with the years of their awards, write that year on the spine, and line them up in order.

Today was the day!
I stood in front of the girls' bookshelves and pulled all the books I thought might be Newbery winners, then stacked them up in my office.  Next I went to the ALA website for a list of all the Newbery and Newbery Honor winners from 1922-present and started matching them up.
A surprise was one of my favorite authors, Laura Ingalls Wilder, had no fewer than FIVE Newbery Honors from 1938 to 1944.  I hesitated, trying to decide if I should keep my Little House books together in a set or break them up and put them in the Newbery set, and decided on the former.
Here is my new Newbery shelf with about fifty books on it.  There are several other books floating around the house that will join the set in the next few days.  I'm pretty pleased with it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A few new clothes

Yesterday David, Alicia, and I took the girls to the mall, mostly out of boredom and partly to stay cool.
I didn't plan to buy anything, but I did stop in at GapKids because I found good things on their sale rack earlier this year.  This time I found a tunic top that Caroline is wearing above, a cream top with rosettes on it, and a sun dress which will be worn with a shirt under it.  Everything, including tax, was less than $13.

Years ago when my big kids were this age and younger, I shopped GapKids frequently.  I have never actually paid retail for anything there, but had a mental formula for how much I was willing to pay for something based on its quality, appropriateness for the season, and size.  Now that I have rediscovered GapKids, I think I'll have to dust off my formula and shop there a little more often.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Eyes are a big topic of conversation around my house

Last week Bill had an operation on his bad eye and since eye surgery is major surgery, we've been talking about it alot, and by extension, eyes in general.

He wanted to see what his eye looked like after the operation, so he had me take a picture of it.  That way he could take a close look at it.  I took a picture of my eye too.
I have to say I think the color and texture of my iris is really beautiful.  There.  I've said it.  I think part of my body is beautiful.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Kevin's mission conference

Kevin sent several group photos today and this was my favorite:
Click on it since it's kind of small.  You can see Kevin in the third row from the front about center in a light gray suit.  Happy, good-looking kid, isn't he?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Meal Plan Sunday

I am on my 5th week of a Pantry Challengs.  I'm doing my best to reduce the amount of food I have stockpiled in our cupboard, pantry, fridge and freezers.  There is a lot and that's not even counting the long-term food storage we have.

Monday:  Mexican Flatbread Pizza (tortillas, refried beans, cheese, onions)

Tuesday:  Meatball sandwiches  (frozen meatballs, bread/rolls, Italian sauce, cheese), No-Bake cereal bars for dessert

Wednesday:  Light chicken soup (frozen chicken, frozen brown rice, carrots, other vegetables)

Thursday:  [leftovers]

Friday:  Pizza

First one generation, then another play the same game

My brothers and I played hundreds of games of Mastermind when we were kids, and I still have the same game my parents had.
I was very surpised today to find out Sophia is a good player.  I hadn't ever seen her play it, but she was fast and accurate in her guesses when there were four color possibilities with no more than one peg of each color allowed.  We played a number of games that way, never taking more than 4 rows to get the right answer.  Then we tried it with double colors allowed.  It's a lot harder that way and we didn't play enough games with that variation to really start figuring out the strategy.  We have plenty of time to do that though!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

One of my dreams has come true

Some of my readers know Bill and I live quite a long way from the rest of our families.  I have a brother in Los Angeles and another in Miami.  All of Bill's family lives in Idaho.  From where we live, those are an eight hour to a four day trip away from here.  Truthfully, in addition to the summer heat, those are the only things we don't like about living in our city.

But!  Almost a year ago those thing started to change.  First Bill's niece Carolyn came to live in our city.  The next thing we knew, my son David and his wife came to live here.  We see Carolyn every week or two, and David and/or Alicia several times a week.

Today was kind of an ordinary visit.  Bill invited David and Alicia to go to a morning car show with him, then they came back here for breakfast, then went home and on with their day.
[picture of David and Alicia that I think is on the hard drive of my camera because the card slot is empty but the battery for my camera is being charged and I can't access it right now]

Friday, July 12, 2013

Not-so-random Kevin picture

This morning I was looking for an interesting picture for a discussion topic with one of my elementary school-aged students and this is the picture I came up with:
She asked about the banana leaf (I assume that is what it is?) and we looked at the incongruity of the really rough exterior of the building and the high-end front door and side lights.  I told her what Kevin is doing in Brazil (sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ) and why (he loves Jesus Christ).  Then we talked about the unspoken theme of the picture.  The next thing I knew she asked me to please close my eyes for a count of ten, then she'd have a surprise for me.  Here is the surprise:
Pretty, pretty princess, right?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A little something for the feathered girls?

Bill says the little girls aren't coming in the house, even with these on.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Kevin Mystery Picture

The girls and I made a batch of homemade ice cream today.  Dh never even knew.  Boy, was it good.

Let's see what Kevin's been up to, shall we?
The good part is that flag is hung correctly even though it may not look like it.  But they are all pledging allegiance to . . . a bottle of orange juice . . . ?  A squeeze container of honey?  A Mountain Dew?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Two stories

Today the Modest Mom posted a thoughtful essay:

She woke up early and was eager to get her errands done for the day. It was a hot summer day, and she pulled her hair back in a clip and headed off to the store. Grabbing her cart and list in hand she started putting the produce in her cart. As she glanced up she noticed two teenage girls looking at her and giggling. Oh well. Girls do that. The next aisle over an older man looking at the bread looked up in amazement at her, and then a look of dismay came on his face. He quickly looked away.
She couldn’t figure out what was wrong! Maybe she had mismatched socks on or something. No, she glanced down at her feet and remembered she had sandals on. Arriving at the end of the aisle she met the store manager. He looked upset and was headed her way! She frantically wondered if she had parked in a handicap spot or something. When he approached her, he was quite adamant as he declared,
“Excuse me Ma’am, we are going to need to ask you to leave.”
“What?” She exclaimed. “What on earth is wrong?”
He cleared his throat and looked uncomfortable.
“Ma’am, we require people to be dressed in this store. All you have on is your bra and underwear.”
In dismay and horror she glanced down, and sure enough, he was right. All she had on was her white lacy bra, and her matching white Hanes Her Way brand underwear. She let out a shriek, grabbed her purse and ran to her car. She was so mortified! How could she have been in such a hurry that she forgot to put on her little sundress over her underclothes?
In a grocery store a few miles up the road, a 19 year old college student was excited that she had a free day off college. Her friends had all planned to meet at the beach for a fun day of swimming and laying out. She loved to bring snacks to such gatherings, so she ran in the store first to pick up some cookies and bottled water to bring along.

This young lady was beautiful, and while she tried to ignore the admiring looks she got (mostly from young men), she knew in her heart that she was attracting attention – and she liked it. She went to pay for her food, and was pleased to see it was the manager of the store. He was a good friend of her dad’s, so they chatted pleasantly for a few minutes. She hopped in her car and before she drove away she glanced at her swimming suit.

“This is my favorite swimsuit!” she thought to herself. “The yellow and white polka dots on this bikini are so vintage and cute. The girls are just going to love it when they see it!”

Two different women, two different stories (fictional). But are they really so different?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Casual summer Pantry Challenge

Jessica at Life As Mom is having another Pantry Challenge to winnow down her pantry and freezers.  I wasn't calling it that, but I haven't posted a menu for several Sundays because I'm doing the same thing: eating down my food storage.

Here's the things though, she's feeding eight people, including some teenage boys and is spending "only" $100/week on food, which is half her normal budget.  With our six here, but much smaller eaters, if I spent $50 a week during the challenge, that would be about the equivalent.  I can do that easily.  Now, I will say she feeds her family lots of organic food and I don't care much about organics, so that would account for part of the difference in what we spend.

That said, here is tonight's dinner from the pantry:

The soup turned out better than I expected and better than it looks here.  It's a can of mixed vegetables, a jar of my canned diced tomatoes, a sprinkle of dried onions and black pepper, a tablespoon of beef buillon, a couple cups of water, and some large spoonsful of leftover white beans and ham.  It was really delicious!

The ice cream was from this easy recipe:

Simple Vanilla Ice Cream

Summary: adapted from the booklet that came with the Cuisinart ICE-20


  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Evaporated sugar cane juice takes a little longer to dissolve than regular granulated sugar. Some grains didn’t completely dissolve, but I was okay with that.
  2. Stir in the cream and vanilla.
  3. Freeze in the ice cream machine according to the directions provided by the manufacturer of your particular machine.
  4. Once the ice cream has thickened, eat immediately as soft serve ice cream or transfer it to an airtight container and store in the freezer for an additional 2 hours or more.
Preparation time: 5 minute(s)
Cooking time: 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 8

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Have you ever had one of these useful things?

When my mom moved here she was eligible for a handicapped placard for the car.  The two of us go a few places that have handicapped parking spaces and let me tell you, it's very convenient to have the placard!  I'm always glad when she doesn't have to walk far thanks to using it.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Great low-tech library activity

Several Saturdays a month our library had a good kids' activity.  Here is the prep for it:

 Put up some tables, including one lying flat on the floor with its legs still folded up.

Put out lots of bins FULL of Lego pieces. 

Let the kids create.
After the children make their pieces, they put them on that library cart behind Caroline and they go into a display case.  The next time we go to the library we'll be able to see the girls' creations.  And although we will be going back on Thursday anyway, you can bet the girls will not let me forget!

Friday, July 5, 2013

A few seasonal questions

  • What is top of mind for you at this time of year?
  • The heat!  It is really hot in my part of the country and my house is hard to cool.

  • What, if anything, do you have upcoming that you are starting to think about or plan for?
  • My children go back to school in less than a month, so I'm starting to think about new clothes (middle school!) and new schedules with these children in more than one school for the first time ever.

  • What, if anything, is on your to-do list this time of year that is different than your list from other times of year?
  • I have more library visits and kid-centered activities on the schedule at this time of year.  I also do my best to avoid using my oven, so we eat a little differently in the summer and I'm always looking for new oven-less dinners.
    The two middle schoolers running errands with me in the heat.

    Thursday, July 4, 2013

    A patriotic celebration!

    This morning was our breakfast at the park.  We started off singing The Star Spangled Banner a'capella with lovely harmony.  Such good singers we were. :-)
    There was a LOT of food and everyone enjoyed eating and chatting, and then there were gunny sack races, throwing games, and a water balloon fight.  It was a great start to a wonderful day on which to be proud of our country.

    Wednesday, July 3, 2013

    Getting ready for the Independence Day breakfast

    Tomorrow morning is a church pot luck breakfast at the park.  There will be games and fun in addition to a breakfast.

    I like to make cinnamon rolls and decided to make them for this event.  Problem:  the breakfast will be at 8 am and I work from 4:30 am until 8:00 am.  Refridgerator rolls to the rescue!

    I made the pans of rolls and put them in the fridge without allowing them to rise in the pans.
     The next morning I took them out.  You can see they are slightly risen.
     I popped the pans into the oven while I worked and you can see the hot and delicious results with virtually no work on the morning of the event.

    Tuesday, July 2, 2013

    Random Kevin picture

    In straightening up for the weekend wedding, I came across Kevin's disc (ahem . . . again).  So here is a completely random picture and afterward, my comments:
    Oh my.  I have no idea what to say about this because I don't know what it mean.  "Questions for Two"??  Maybe Kevin and his companion held up this sign on the street to let people know they could stop and ask a Mormon missionary any question they wanted to know?