Thursday, February 28, 2008

Beef Satay

I got this recipe from a magazine several years ago. It is supposed to be cooked on the grill on skewers but last night, I ran out of time and to put them on the skewers, so I just put them on a cookie sheet and broiled the meat for about 15 minutes. They were just as good if not better. So, this went from an easy recipe to a super easy recipe. My friend Gabriela loves this, so I am not the only one who thinks this recipe is a winner.

Beef Satay

In a bowl, combine 2 Tablespoons soy sauce, 4 teaspoons vegetable oil, 2 teaspoons grated ginger (I buy a section and freeze it. It is easy to grate and doesn't go bad that way), 2 teaspoons sugar and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Pour marinade over 2 pounds of stir-fry beef and let marinade at least 10 minutes.

Side note: All of the grocery stores around here carry, "Stir-fry beef" in their meat sections. Occasionally, they don't have it out and I have to ask the butcher to cut me some. I don't know what the actual cut of beef it is but I am sure flank steak would be good.

If you want to take the time, thread strips of beef onto skewers and grill for about 5 minutes. If you don't want to bother, spread beef onto a cookie sheet with raised sides and broil for about 15 minutes or until done.

This recipe came with this optional dipping sauce but I made it only once and decided the meat was too good plain so I haven't bothered since. But here is that recipe, if you want it:

1/4 cup peanut butter
3 Tablespoons hot water
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sesame oil

We usually eat this with asparagus or broccoli and have it over rice or with my spirole recipe.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Books I Have Been Reading

OK, my house looks like a bomb has gone off in it because I have spent the last three days reading. Once I started, I couldn't stop. I now have put myself on a book reading moratorium until I get my house back into shape--or least until I can walk across the floor and not step on something. So anyway, here is a list of the current books I have read:

Love Walked In by Marisa De los Santos: I can thank my blogging friend Michelle for this recommendation. I liked this book a lot. The author was a poet before she was an author and her writing reflects it. Her word use and phrasing is beautiful. I should warn people the "f" word is used about 5 times in it but it shouldn't stop people from reading it. The story was quirky and good.

Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas: Thank you Liz for writing about his on your blog. Don't be fooled in thinking this is about the hymn. It is not. It is about William Wilberforce and his campaign to end slavery. I really liked this book but I am a lover of history and I realize it might get long for some people. I will admit, at times, I felt like, "Come on, get to it already." But that said, I was embarrassed I didn't know about this part of history before. A movie has been made about this book and I have it on reserve at the library. However, I am something like number 230 on the list, so I might just have to shoot the lock off my wallet and pay to rent it.

Escape by Caroyln Jessop: Again, a Liz recommendation. I could not put this one down. It is about the Warren Jeff's polygamy sect down in Colorado City, UT. It was a fast, fascinating read and the only thing I didn't like about this book was that she didn't include a picture of her husband and the other sister wives. Call me a voyeur but the author paints such an amazing picture of her husband and the wives, I wanted to see what they looked like. As an active LDS Mormon, I am amazed by how fast fundamentalism can change and distort basic truths.

The Faraday Girls by Monica McInerney: My friend Lyssa (who doesn't blog) recommended this one to me and after a slow start, I liked this book. I didn't love it but it takes a lot for me to love a book, so don't be turned away from it just because I didn't love it. I think I will read this author's other books (Family Baggage and The Alphabet Sisters) as well because she really is a good story teller even if some of the characters really bugged me in this book.

So, waiting in the wings to be read are: Moloka'i by Alan Brennart and The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. I won't start either for at least another few days. When I say my house is a mess, I mean it. I almost didn't open the door when a neighbor stopped by because it was so messy. Yes, that bad.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Grand Adventure at the Dollar Movie

Dentist husband has been gone all weekend in Texas with his brother and Dad golfing. His brother lives in Wisconsin and about this time of year, they all decide that they are tired of the cold weather and they plan a golf trip to a warmer climate. Texas usually is where they go because the flights are relatively cheep from Utah and Wisconsin.

Anyway, when Dad is away, I always try to plan a fun weekend. So, on Saturday, I told them we would go see "Enchanted" and then go to a local favorite chocolate store afterward. Toothsome #4 (16 months) is VERY active these days and I should have thought through taking four kids under the age of 8 to the dollar movie theatre the first day that "Enchanted" is there. As I write this, I am still not sure, what I was thinking.

We got there early so we could get seats together and stood in-line for 20 minutes waiting for them to let us be seated. I was able to get good seats, next to the aisle, so I could slip out with toothsome #4 and stand in the back if necessary. Well, before the movie had even started, she was wiggling and hollering out about having to sit on my lap. Once the movie started, she was beyond wiggling and started crying and hollering loudly in frustration and anger. So, I quickly stood up and moved to stand in the back and let her run around at my feet. That was not good enough. She started POUNDING on the exit doors, trying to escape--yelling in frustration as I tried to hold the doors shut. Meanwhile, toothsome #3 did not like sitting next to his brother and sister without me, so soon he was standing next to me begging to be picked up. I couldn't pick him up because I was still trying to keep toothsome #4 happy and in the movie theatre. (I should mention that people are coming and going through the doors, I was trying to keep shut and she tried to slip past me everytime a door would open.)

Anyway, in trying calm down toothsome #3, I noticed that toothsome #4 was happy. She was happy because she was picking up popcorn from the floor of the movie theatre and happily munching away at it. Remember this is a dollar theatre---the floors are black from lack of cleaning. So, I stood there at a loss of what to do, she is happy and actually standing in one place but then again, she is eating popcorn off the floor. I can't leave the theatre to buy a bag because I still have a 6 and 8 year old in seats watching the movie and toothsome #3 is clinging to me because the movie is too scary. (He says that about everything--even Barney). I then notice a group of four 12ish aged looking girls with a fresh bag of popcorn. They couldn't find four seats together and were sitting on the floor in the back of the theatre. I decide to offer to buy their bag of popcorn from them and have them get a fresh one. Instead, these VERY nice girls tell me they have more popcorn than they want and they will just share with toothsome #4. So the rest of the movie was spent with toothsome #4 standing about 3 inches from these girls while they feed her popcorn. Every once in awhile, she would leave them and try running down one of the aisles or try and escape out one of the exits and I would have to go chasing after her with toothsome #3 running behind me.
Needless to say, I didn't see much of the movie but my older kids loved it. (I did get to see the whole singing section in the middle and loved that part.) We ended up not going to the chocolate store, but to 7-11 where I got myself a 44 ounce Diet Coke. Boy, did that taste good after my movie experience.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Piano is Finally Here!

After almost two months of waiting, the piano is finally here! (For those of you who are wondering, it is a Yamaha U-1 mahogany). The day it came, I walked into the room where we put it and found toothsome #4 playing it. She had climbed up on the bench herself and was going at it. I had forgotten how much I love to sit down and play. I am not good (I can barely get through most hymns) but I love having piano music back in my house. I have started giving lessons to my two older kids and so far, they are loving it--even fighting over who gets to practice first. I am sure the novelty will wear off, but right now it is nice to have them eager to learn how to play. I now need to rearrange the furniture in the in the front room (that drop leaf table in the back needs to be moved to another spot) and then I will really start feeling like that room is complete.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Weekend "Away"

This past Thursday, Dentist husband and I both realized that he had Monday off. He rarely doesn't work and I always forget that he takes President's Day off. So, Thursday night, we decided that we should "go away" somewhere. We already had plans with family and friends until Saturday night, so our options were limited. After looking up various places on-line, we decided that our weekend "away" would be a hotel about 20 minutes from our house--the Hampton Inn at Thanksgiving Pointe. Yes, Paige, we were 10 minutes from your house. It was brand new, had a nice in-door swimming pool and was close to several places that our kids like to go. So, Saturday evening, off we went.
As a surprise to me, Dentist husband purchased for me this WONDERFUL Arc'terytx jacket. I love the Arc'terytx stuff but it is very pricey. He promised me he found this on clearance and I LOVE it. It fits like a glove.
Here we are at the hotel getting ready to go swimming.
The kids at the local Dinosaur museum. That is the Utahraptor behind them.
The sand pit area at the Dinosaur Museum.
The kids in their 3-D glasses getting ready to watch "Dinosaur's Alive". I didn't get pictures of the kids at the Cabella's laser shooting range, at the movie theatre watching, "National Treasure 2" , the various places we ate out or the monthly family dinner we went to since we were so close. It was a PERFECT get away. We knew how to get everywhere, it was close enough we could run home and feed the fish and someone else made the beds, cleaned up after us and cooked. So fun!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Magic Drawers

My husband has magic drawers. I am not sure if most of you have husbands with magic drawers or not but here is how it works. My husband goes to his drawers every day to remove underwear, socks, shirts, pants, etc. And, it seems that no matter how often he takes things out, there is most always what he needs in there when he wants them.
However, recently, my husband has been complaining about not being able to find his black socks in his drawer. After thinking about it, I asked him, "Have you been putting your socks in the dirty clothes?" This is an important question, because the magic drawers don't fill up without things passing through the "magic dirty clothes pile." He looks at me and says, "Well, no, I leave them against the wall in the Great Room and they magically make it into my black sock drawer." Oh, there is the problem.
So, either he needs to start putting things in the dirty clothes pile or I need to do it for him. Since, I have a "magic checking account" that seems to always have money in it, no matter how much I take out of it, I think I will graciously check the wall in the Great Room regularly. Ok, maybe not so graciously.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

We woke up to a TON of snow. School has been delayed by two hours and we have been busy clearing out the piles of snow from this storm. This is been the BEST winter for snow. I honestly squeel with delight when I see the snow falling again.

Every year, I try to leave out a small gift for my kids. This year, I purchased them these. They came recommended by a blog I have recently started reading. Liz was recommended to me by a friend who thought I would enjoy her blog and I really have. It is great read and she and I think alike. I understand why Tiffany recommended her. And, in a small world connection thing, Liz married a boy that was in one of my BYU wards. Hi Brad.
So, on the the kitchen counter, where my kid's breakfast bowls usually sit, I had the Squiggles book waiting for them. This book is above and beyond any coloring book I have ever seen and it really encourages creative thinking because pictures are started and then the kids finish them. (Did any of you play that game in Sacrament meeting growing up? It got me through MANY long meetings.) I was so glad to have discovered it. So, thank you Liz. My kids were thrilled to find them at their places this morning.
So, tonight, since I love to eat out, we are taking the kids to our family favorite, Barbacoa. We call it "the magical place" in our family. We all love it, it is relatively healthy, reasonably priced and as I have said many times before, have the best Diet Coke in the valley. (One of the best parts is they have serve yourself fresh limes so you can have the perfect Diet Coke with fresh lime mix.) So, that is our day. Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Family Letter

For over 10 years, I have written a "Family Letter." It started when my parents were called to be MTC presidents. Remembering how faithfully my parents wrote me on my mission, I decided I owed them the same courtesy. At the time, I was working as a front desk person for a company, answering phones, so I able to, at work, write most of my family letters. Believe it or not, but this was before the common use of e-mails and most of my family didn't have e-mail addresses, so I would print out multiple copies of the letter and then snail mail them to everyone.

So, over ten years later, I am still writing them and many people have told me, "I wish I could do something like that. It is just too hard." So, I thought I would explain, how I do it, so people know how really easy it is.

At the start of the month, I open up a new Word Perfect file labeled by the date, "February 2008" for example. Then, whenever something happens, that I think I want to add to the family letter, I either come into our computer room and type it then, or write it down on my white board, to write about it latter. I would say during a months time, I do about 1/2 and 1/2 of each. Usually once I have three or four stories written on the white board, I know I need to stop what I am doing and go and write them down in my Word Perfect file. Once the stories have filled about two pages, I know it is time to send the letter. People like getting mail but any letter over two pages, most people loose interest.

Once I have filled two pages, I use the cut and paste buttons to arrange the family letter, so it is in a more readable form. I also usually add an intro and closing paragraph. Sometimes I do need to rewrite certain paragraphs but usually I have done the writing piecemeal throughout the month. The final corrections take me about 20 minutes before I copy and paste it to an e-mail to send out.

How is it different than blogging? It isn't really but I have parents who still refuse to get Internet and most of my siblings like to know what is going on in my life and I are not bloggers. Sometimes, I cut and paste things directly from my blog to put in the family letter. I would say my letters are more personal, using our real names (everyone who get a copy knows me well and I don't worry about "just anyone" reading it) and much more detailed. I have told anyone who gets a copy to feel free to just delete it if they think it is too boring, braggy, or obnoxious (I have been accused of all three things in my life.) However, most people tell me they enjoy them, so I keep them on the "E-mail family letter list".

I really try to be as honest as possible and that means admitting to all who get my letters when I have lost my patience with my kids, confessing when my house is a wreck and I decided to read instead of picking it up and that led to my one year old, dumping out a whole bag of brand new Grape Nuts on the floor, etc. I also try to include things like what teachers have written on report cards, if my kids learned something (like lying to us and having to face the consequences), current words my little ones are saying, funny things they do (like making mushtaches out of duct tape and pretending to be an artist), etc. The family letter is my journal so sometimes, I do write my personal feelings about something as well.

So, there you have it. Since I write it piecemeal, it doesn't feel like it takes much time and now when I go back over the letters, I discover I have written about things that I have NO MEMORY of. And, sometimes my kids will ask about stories of them when they are little, I pull out the old family letters and read them aloud. It is really then, that I am thrilled I have taken the time to write them.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Cub Scout Activities

I am hoping this post is of use to some of you out there, who are den leaders like me. This is the 3rd time I have held this calling but the first time I have actually had one of my own children in the den as well. Now that I have an 8 year old boy, I feel like I understand the mind of 8 year olds better and this time around, I feel like I am a much better den leader than in the past. Even though I live in the heart of Mormondom and you would think our dens would be HUGE but they are not. Our ward has combined the Bear and Wolf dens because our Bear den is very small. The following are some activities that we have done recently that have been successes. I should mention that my partner is an amazing woman who has one child and plans activities as I describe, "Globally" while I think "locally" meaning, she always plans these amazing activities outside of our homes and I plan activities in the comfort of my home (where my three younger ones are easier to keep track of.) Anyway, here is the list:

1. Visit an archary range. The boys LOVED this and with permission from the Scouting office they all were able to earning their Archary belt loop.
2. Toured Home Depot. We had the most WONDERFUL man give our boys a tour of the whole building and he spent a lot of time going over tool safety and how the various tools worked (fulling the woodworking sections for both Bear and Wolf). Afterwards, he gave each boy their own tool box, measuring tape and Home Depot apron. I don't know if that is standard at all Home Depots, but it was great for the boys.
3. Toured a Fire station (We have one around the corner from our neighborhood.)
4. Talked about knife safety and then carved pumpkins. (This was around Halloween of course).
5. Made chocolate chip cookies.
6. Made homemade pizzas (uncooked--like Papa Murphys) and they were able to bring them home for dinner for the family that night. (As you can imagine, a huge success with the mothers!)
7. Made stilts. (For the Wolfs, if they learned to walk on them, it fulfilled an elective requirement.)
8. Had a "bike rodeo" in our church's parking lot. The boys learned all about bike saftey and then did a bike obstacle course.
9. Homemade Ice Cream: My partner owns a hand crank ice cream maker and they all took turns until it froze.

Anyway, those are just a few that have worked really well.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Old Picture but I LOVE IT!

This is an old picture, but I LOVE it and it captures her spunk and zanniness. I think she is about 10 months old here (she is now 15 months). She is a constant source of delight and destruction in our house these days. Thankfully, she hasn't started true climbing yet (as in scaling the book shelves like her older brother did) but my house is in a constant state of chaos due to the constant exploring of one tiny (5th percentile) pink and white baby.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Happy Birthday Dentist Husband

I really don't know why I am doing this on my blog as my husband doesn't read my blog, but his sisters do, so think happy thoughts about him today girls.
This picture captures my husband at his best. He LOVES being a dad surrounded by his kids. I am so blessed he is "my one."
In his honor, here is a conversation I had in the car with toothsomes 1 and 2.
"Mom, Dad is a better cook than you, is better at playing than you, he can fix anything, and is a good dentist. Is there anything you can do better than him?"
My answer, "Actually, no and I am fine with that."

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Out of the Mouth of Babes

My oldest child said to me, "Mom, have you had your morning Diet Coke yet?" After staring at him dumbfounded for a few seconds, realizing how horrible that sounded, I said, "No, do you want to go out to the garage and get me one?" Yes, I have a problem but I am not even going to pretend like I am going to try and give it up until I am waking up less than four times a night. (I have toothsome 3 and 4 to blame for my nocturnal wakings).