Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Catching Up on Reading

May is a horribly busy month and so my normal two book a week reading habit has fallen to the way side. This past weekend, I was able to catch up a little bit. Here is what I have just finished reading:

Seven Years In Tibet--A good if not at times boring read. It was very informative and now I feel like I understand the "Free Tibet" bumper stickers. There was a movie made with Brad Pitt by the same title. I haven't seen it.

The Christmas Quilt--I'm just finishing up the whole Jennifer Chiaverinni quilting series and the next in the series was a Christmas one. It was a fun, fast read and it would be a great one to read around the holidays to get you into the mood.

Drenching In Light by Lisa Wingate--I am a big fan of Lisa Wingate and this is the last book in her "Tending Roses" collection. She also has written some fun books about girls finding love in small Texas towns. Fun, romantic but not trashy.

I'm also just finishing up "Lucy" by Ellen Feldman which is the selection for May in my book club. It has been a fascinating read about Franklin Roosevelt's mistress.

I'm still slowly getting through "Pathway to the Seas" by David McCoullough. Having seen the Panama Canal in real life, I am LOVING this book but it is one I have to put my whole attention on when reading--thus not a good one for reading in spurts while nursing a baby or stirring dinner. I'm hoping to finish this during the summer while waiting for my kids at swimming lessons.

Favorite Recipe--Spiroles

There is a local restaurant that cooks bread sticks on wooden dowels. My kids love it and so I thought I would try and recreate it at home. I just use my calzone dough recipe and then divide the dough into 10 balls, make long snakes and wrap them around a wooden dowel. Let the dough rise on the dowels for about a 1/2 hour, and cook on greased cookie sheets (I put 5 on each sheet) for about 25 minutes or until nice and brown at 350 degrees. Out of the oven, brush each roll with melted butter and garlic salt (1/2 cup melted butter and 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt.)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Purging the Refrigerator

I know we are supposed to have a year supply of food in the basement and that means also having a regular supply of food in the refrigerator and freezer but every few months, I like to do what I call "Purging".
I don't make any meal unless it comes directly from either place and I won't go to the store until we are either out of milk or the shelves are mostly bare. It makes me use up food that might otherwise go to waste and it forces me to get creative with what we have. It is also a good humbling reminder of tighter times when the grocery budget had been spent and we had to just live on what was in the house--even if that meant black beans and Ramen noodles for two or three days.

So today for dinner we had a salad, to use up lettuce and one last tomato that was on the verge of going bad. Hamburgers (from frozen patties that I found in the back of the freezer with no cheese because we used up the cheese yesterday). I found in the bottom of the veggie drawer, some asparagus that I had forgotten about (under the head of iceberg lettuce) that we grilled (the ends were growing mold but I just cut them off--I know, yuck). It actually was a very good meal, much better than some of my other purging times (noodles with blue cheese because that is all we had on hand, comes to mind.)

Now, the shelves in the refrigerator are bare (with the exception of some hamburger dill pickles and a 1/2 a gallon of milk) and I can go to the grocery store tomorrow with a clean conscience.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Planting Done

I finished planting all that I am going to plant this season. The tomatoes are in. I'm trying Big Beef and Sweet 100s. The vinca and petunias (I purchased some double ruffle kind) are in. The balloon flowers are in. I have abandoned the idea of planting basil this season but hope to plant some in-doors in the fall. Now all that is ahead of me is a season of weeding.
On a side note, toothsome #2 is done with pre-school. Next year, that means two elementary students and a pre-schooler (toothsome #3). Life is happening too fast. I like my little ones.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Favorite Recipe--German Pancakes

I had a craving Sunday morning and so after making my kids French toast, I decided to make these German Pancakes. It is the recipe from the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook.

2 Tablespoons butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place butter in a 10-inch ovenproof frying pan. Place in a 400 degree oven for 3-5 minutes, until butter is completely melted. In a bowl, beat eggs, flour, milk and salt. Beat until smooth. Immediately pour into hot skillet (you take it straight from the oven, pour batter in and immediately back in the oven). Bake for about 25 minutes or until puffed and well browned.

Cut into wedges and serve with syrup.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Care Packages

I love care packages. It was my freshman year in college when I learned the joy of care packages. My roommate's mom sent both of us one huge care package once a month. It was always themed (often with the holiday in that month) and after a long often frustrating day on campus there was no joy more fun than opening a box full of fun surprises.
I now like to compile "themed" items and just for fun send them away to nieces and nephews, friends, and neighbors. Recently, for a friend struggling through a miserable second trimester, I sent her flip-flops for her (to her frustration) already swollen feet, a fun pregnancy related novel (Yoga Mamas) and jolly ranchers (to get rid of the weird pregnancy taste one gets in their mouth.)

Above is a picture of my latest care package for a neighbor who just had a baby. 1. Water to keep in every room for the constantly thirsty nursing mom. 2. Book to read while nursing the baby. 3. Crayola Model Magic for her older kids to play with--much cleaner than Play-dough. 4. A package of onesie undershirts for the baby. 5. An Olive Garden gift certificate to use when everyone is begging to be fed and the mom has not even thought about dinner.
It brightened my day just compiling it and it seemed to brighten the day of my exhausted friend who is a now the mother of three kids.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Logic of a Seven Year Old

Toothsome #1 is outside playing with the hose. He has been having a great time and at one point, when I went to check on him, he had the hose down his pants. When I asked him why, he said, "I needed to go to the bathroom and I knew you wouldn't let me come in the house soaking wet, so I just went in my clothes and am now rinsing it off." Oh the logic of a seven year old boy!

Food and my kids

I am a fast food junky. The only thing that stops from eating it every day is the fear that my heart will explode if I do eat it every day. I have always loved fast food and my hopes that I would outgrow that love when I hit puberty never happened. I have an older sister that hates fast food and loves all things healthy (oh, how I wish I could love all things healthy) and we would joke growing up that our kids would beg to switch houses, so her kids could have hamburgers and fries and my kids would want healthy food. Well, that joke, I think has come true.

Last night for dinner, we had grilled hamburgers, chips, grilled asparagus, and strawberries. Well, first thing eaten by my kids were the strawberries, followed by the asparagus and then very reluctantly the hamburgers. My oldest asked if he could put his asparagus on his hamburger and enthusiastically ate an asparagus (with a little Parmesan cheese) burger. Toothsome #2 was crying and begging to only eat 1/2 of her hamburger and toothsome #3 just climbed out of his chair once he ate the tomato off of his burger and the asparagus was gone. The only person that touched the chips was me! How did I get so lucky to have these healthy eaters!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Funny Story

My youngest, toothsome #4 is very fair. My three older children all have chocolate brown eyes and dark brown to dark blond hair. Dentist husband calls toothsome #4 "recessive" because she manifests all of the recessive traits--white blond hair, bright blue eyes and white/pink skin. She comes by it honestly (I'm very fair) but she is very different looking than my other kids.

Today, while eating at McDonalds, my husband and I see a very blond teenage girl (there is a high school close to this McDonalds and we always are surrounded by teenagers at lunch) and my husband goes up to this girl, holding toothsome #4 and says, "I bet you looked like this as a baby." The girl laughs, talks to toothsome #4 and then goes and sits down with her friends.

My husband than comes back and sits with me and toothsome #3 and says with an embarrassed look on his face, "Janice, that teenage girl was an albino!" (For the record, toothsome #4 is not an albino; I've had people ask.)

Weekend Thoughts

Last night, we discovered that new neighbors are moving into the house behind us. The house has been empty for quite sometime, so it will be nice to have people in there again. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they will be good, nice neighbors.

I had a wonderful Mother's Day. My kids were really sweet to me and my husband made dinner. I got to sleep-in and at church they gave us chocolate as the mother's gift.

As I look around my house, it looks like a bomb has gone off in every room and now I need to get down to serious picking up in every room. My husband also signed the papers to buy a 2nd dental practice, so that was huge for him (and since I married to him, us.)
Oh, stamps have gone up 2 cents again.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Simple Dinner

Last night, I made a family favorite simple dinner.

Grilled chicken: I buy the McCormick brand "Grill Mates"--they come in a package (like Taco Seasoning) and marinate the chicken in a zip lock. We like the Mesquite one but all of them are tasty. If I am organized, I do this in the morning and if I am super organized, I make a bunch of them all at once and freeze them.

Grilled Asparagus: I just toss them in olive oil and salt and pepper. While I am grilling the chicken, I put them on the top rack. Once the chicken is done, I put them on the grill for just a few minutes.

Fresh Mango

French bread

Dinner takes all of 20 minutes to put together and all of the major food groups are represented.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

My lucky day

I have had great luck today. Much better than yesterday, when I left my keys in the car with the ignition running while I shopped at Gardener Village. Actually, I was lucky because my car wasn't stolen, so maybe I am having two lucky days in a row.

1. I was able to sign my kids up for swimming and tennis lessons today. I have been calling the rec center where we belong almost every day for the last week asking when I could register my kids. Signing up for swimming lessons there is a huge deal--with spots filling up fast and long waits in line if you aren't a member. One year I did get up at 5:30 am and wait in line until 8:00 am to get my kids in. It is ridiculous. Anyway, as I now have three kids in lessons, where I want them all in lessons at the same time, I have been panicking about what was ahead of me. So, anyway, today I called and was told, "We are at the swim desk right now. If you come right now, we can sign you up. You are the first one." So, I hollered to my kids to get into the car STAT and (hooray!) we are signed up at the preferred time. I was also able to get them in the tennis lesson at the time I wanted.

2. My friend shows up with a sun tent for toothsome #4. Since I was going to buy one, that saved me $60 right there.

3. I took a survey on-line and got free shipping for taking the time to fill out the survey at my favorite sun protection web-site and was able to order toothsome #4 her body covering swim suit.

4. I went and picked up my new contacts at Shopko and since I bought over 4 boxes, I got a free pair of FILA sunglasses--a $50 value. I needed new sunglasses, so that was huge! I walked out feeling all smug in my cool new FREE sunglasses.

End of School

May is always a hard month for my kids. They are so ready for summer to begin and school to be over. My kids love school but the last month is hard for them. My oldest, who has loved hot lunch all year, announced to me that he was done eating hot lunch. He is sick of it and I don't blame him. My last month eating at The Morris Center at BYU about killed me. The warm days and day-light savings nights make it so hard to force my kids to bed at a decent time and so I seem to always be dealing with tired kids. I am also ready to not have to have people ready and out the door by 8:30 and just be able to have slower mornings. I had no idea that as a parent, I would be counting down the days until school got out as much as my kids. I'm starting to look forward to swimming lessons and backyard barbecues.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Random Thoughts About My Day

Things I have solved and/or learned about today:

1. Popsicle sticks: It is now Popsicle season and that means Popsicle sticks dropped in my backyard or down the window wells. Thanks to my husband we have solved that problem. Once one of my children is finished with their Popsicle, they have to bring me their stick. I write on the stick their name and date. Next time they want a Popsicle, I have to check my stick stash, if there is no Popsicle stick with their name on it, no Popsicle until they can produce a stick for me. It has worked wonders! No more Popsicle stick problems.

2. Getting older is not all bad. For Mother's Day, my husband had me go and pick out new sofas for our family room. It was so nice to walk into a furniture store with some life experience about sofas behind me. I knew I wanted a 100% stain resistant fabric. (I refuse to worry about stains on these and I didn't want leather.) I wanted a tight back (no loose pillows for children to use for pillow fights) and because all of us are short people, I wanted to be able to sit down on it and have my feet flat on the floor. Oh, I also wanted long sofas so we can lay down and take a nap on one. Sofas found and ordered. (I'll post pictures once they arrive.)

3. Simple dinners are great! Quesadillas and bag of salad (doctored up with fresh Parmesan, olives and tomatoes) satisfies everyone and is fun, quick and easy.

4. Cuddling with a wiggly three year old is one of the greatest things known to mothers.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Author--Patricia Beatty

When I was 12, my family went and visited my Aunt who lives in Southern California. This aunt is my mom's sister and she is a fun delightful lady and I feel lucky to be related to her. One of my aunt's passions is good children/youth literature and growing up, she often sent me books by authors she liked. One author was named Patricia Beatty and this author happened to live in Riverside, CA close to my aunt. They didn't know each other but for my visit to California, my aunt called Ms. Beatty and asked if she could autograph a few of her books for me. Ms. Beatty not only agreed to do that but invited both of us to come to her house and meet with her.

She lived in a very old imposing house in Riverside and she was very gracious to let us visit with her for quite a while. Two things stand out from the visit. One, she gave us both something to drink--milk for me and a very strong alcohol-filled drink to my aunt. My aunt doesn't drink anything with alcohol and when Ms. Beatty wasn't looking she poured it into a plant! The other memory was that she took us up to a tower in her home where she kept copies of all of her books and she signed and gave me one of her books that was out of print--Oh the Red Rose Tree. I love books and it was such a treasure to have one that was out of print from the author's own collection.

Anyway, recently, I was thinking about that experience and looked up on-line to see if any of her books are still available. I was thrilled to see that several of them are available and through many used book web-sites most of her out-of-print books can be purchased. She writes historical fiction and it is geared to children around the age of 10. I am eager to start introducing her books to my children.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Seven Weird Things About Me

I have been tagged by Tiffany to state Seven Weird Things about myself.
1. I am an adult and I LOVE fast food like a 4 year old child.
2. I am still afraid of the dark.
3. I've never had Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.
4. I am usually reading at least two books at a time (one by my bed, one in the bathroom, one by the chair I nurse in, etc.)
5. A semi-colon is my favorite punctuation mark.
6. I have no desire to work in the work force again, meaning I never have had that feeling of loss of life I have heard other female friends talk about once they have decided to be a stay-at-home mother.
7. I don't mind changing messy diapers.

If you are reading this, you are tagged.

Favorite Recipe--Guacamole

About 3 years ago, my husband and I went on a cruise with his whole family. It was a less than ideal trip for the family, starting out with everyone missing the boat because of bad weather in SLC and for three days, trying to catch up with the boat in Cozumel, Mexico. Anyway, one good thing that came out of the trip was eating the guacamole in a funky hotel in Cozumel. My husband and I loved it and when we came home, we tried to recreate it. Here is what has become my family's favorite guacamole recipe.

3 avocados--mashed
1 large bunch of cilantro--diced
juice from 2 limes
salt and pepper to taste

Yes, it is very simple and that is why it is so good. Sometimes, I add just a little onion but because my husband is a dentist and doesn't want to have his patients smell his onion breath, I rarely cook with onions unless it is on the weekends. Enjoy!