Monday, January 31, 2011

Snow Caving

This past weekend, Dentist husband and Toothsome #1 went snow caving with the scouts.  Here they are just before they left to dig their snow cave--special "avalanche shovels" in hand.

The supplies.  For a 24 hour event, the supplies to survive snow caving was quite impressive.

Getting their Jetboils compact.

Inside their snow cave.
They both came home very happy but grateful for a warm house.  I don't think my son will ever complain about the temperature inside our house again.  And, sledding down a two mile hiking trail was the highlight of the event.  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Claude Coats Print

When I started blogging, it was with the idea that it would be a great photo journal for me.  I do write a family letter every month, so our lives are documented (using our real names) that gets sent to family and friends but blogging is a different way to record and document events in my life.  And, for my younger relatives, (who "get" blogging), they follow the blog and I think just delete the family letters I send out.  (Again, it is journaling and I get how some people really don't care how my four year old pronounces certain words.)

What I didn't foresee when I started blogging was how I would connect to with new friends and actually establish relationships with people, many of whom I have never met.   That part of it seemed somewhat creepy to me and while like everyone who blogs, I spied on many blogs (being fascinated by these strangers lives from a safe distance), I never commented.  That changed, when a friend e-mailed me and told me to check out Lisa's blog.  She is the mother of three children, one who is disabled.  I read her story and it moved me so much, I commented on her blog and let her know how impressed I was by her as a mother and wife.  Honestly, rarely have I read a blog and been so impressed by two parents and their love and devotion to each other and their children.

As I followed her blog, she mentioned her brother, her brother, whom I "knew."  He and I were at BYU together, same freshman year, same dorms and we had common friends.  And, Lisa and her brother were raised in the same area of California and attended the same church as some other friends of mine.  Small world!  Well, these two amazing people had an amazing grandfather, who was an artist and "creative force" in the Walt Disney company.   He was close friends with Walt Disney and his "hand" is all over the art in Disney.  Read about him here.

And, this leads into me showing this print.  I saw it on the Claude Coats web-site and knew I had to have it.  My house is all in blues, with hints of red and green everywhere else.  If I had asked someone to design a picture for my house, it would be this.  I love snow. I love winter.  I love art.  And thus, I now own this. And, to make it even better, I know the people related to the man who created this.  Thank you blogging.  Thank you Lisa and David.  And thank you Claude Coats.  Your work still moves people.

Monday, January 24, 2011

the dreaded stairs

How much fun would it be to have this in my house?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sometimes Life Gives You Gifts

Let me remind you of my crappy day about a week ago.  There have been some new developments.  On Sunday, I was pulled aside and asked to be the Unit Advancement Chair.  (And I am still the 11 year old scout leader, which is very good because I like doing it).   What is that you ask?

The unit advancement chair is appointed by the committee chairman to ensure that the unit has at least monthly boards of review, quarterly courts of honor, and that the unit has goals of helping each Scout advance a rank each year and for new Scouts to reach First Class rank during their first year. The advancement chair is also responsible for record keeping and submitting advancement reports. (Taken from Merit 

I was thrilled with the assignment because I am good at lists, tracking info, etc.  I take great pride in doing such and it is perfect use of one of my big strengths.  I had a short talk with the Scout Master just after I was asked to do this assignment and he casually said, "It is really great for your 11 year old scouts to earn their 1st aid merit badge before Scout camp this summer."  I don't know why this threw me, but it did.  Ever since Sunday, I have been thinking about this merit badge.  I downloaded the requirements.  I talked to our Merit Badge counselor for First Aid and discovered we really need to teach them correct CPR.  Dentist husband is certified and the counselor told me my husband could teach it to the boys, but, that I indeed needed to rent a CPR device--one of those practice mannequins.  Again, I don't know why this, of all things has shook me, but it seemed like a huge deal to me.

So, today, I finally decided I needed to go to the scout office and just face every aspect of scouts that is on my mind.  I started at the Advancement desk.  The nice lady confirmed to me that yes, there is a problem with the system and they are aware of it.  Nothing has been lost but it will take a few weeks for everything to be restored.  There is nothing for me to do but wait.  She then trained me on how to do the advancement records correctly, both on the computer and hard copy form.

I then asked about First Aid training for scouts.  She gave me all of the information I needed (confirming that my husband can teach it to the boys) and said, "Just call the fire department and you can rent a mannequin from them."

So, I went to the grocery store, feeling much lighter about everything and guess what, after years of grocery shopping and never seeing a fireman in sight, a ran into three fireman in the dairy section.  They gave me the name and number of the person to contact for a CPR mannequin.  I didn't even have to look anything up!  It was a gift.

Another gift or maybe just one of those weird cosmic things but I have been on a Rudyard Kipling phase lately (see this post) and recently picked up a biography about him.  Guess what I learned?  Lord Robert Boden-Powell, founder of the scouting movement and good friend to Kipling,  incorporated names and ideals from The Jungle Books and Kim (both written by Kipling) into much of the literature and philosophy of Boy Scouts.  So my life is all blending together in some strange but satisfying cosmic gel.

Crusty Bread

(Photo stolen from my friend's blog, who I got the recipe from.  Mine looked just like it though but I wasn't wearing such a cute shirt when I was pulling it out of the oven.) 

I have had two different friends make this recipe and both times, I couldn't believe how good it was.  They both swore it was super easy to make.  I did have to purchase a special pan to cook it in.  I got this one because it was a good price and the reviews were good.  I made this for my family last night and my husband, who in his words is a "bread snob" said it is the best bread he has ever eaten.

One warning:  You need about 20 hours of bread rising time, so make the dough the night before you serve it.  (I made it at 9:00 pm to have it ready to eat at 6:00 pm the next night.)  Really, that is the hardest part, the rest is easy.  I kept on rereading the recipe to make sure I did it right because it was that easy.

Crusty Bread

3 c all purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 tsp instant yeast
2 1/2 tsp salt
cornmeal or wheat bran as needed
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water and stir until well blended; dough will be sticky and shaggy. Cover dough with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature.
2. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, gently shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal. Place dough on flour dusted towel, and cover with another floured towel. Let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450. Put a 6 to 8 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, pyrex or ceramic) in the oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from the oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over in pot, seam side up (it may look like a mess, but it's okay). Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Some "new" things documented in pictures

Toothsome #4 has learned how to wink.  This was a very big deal in her mind.  If you look closely, you can see that one eye is slightly open, thus proving that she is indeed winking with just one eye.

Toothsome #2 had her braces taken off.  This is just stage one of braces and she will eventually get more on, (she has a tiny mouth with huge adult teeth coming in) but for now, it is very fun and exciting.  

I got new haircut.  Actually, it is the same haircut I always get but just a lot shorter.  My long hair was driving me crazy and who knows when I will get around to getting it cut again, so I purposely had it cut shorter than I would normally do so. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Seven Favorites

I'm doing this instead of wiping down really dirty counters.  This is one of those "tag" things, so if you want to play, feel free.  Just leave a comment, so I know to see your answers.  Or leave your answers in the comments.  

1. Favorite piece of jewelry or hair accessories:  Ring I wear on my right ring finger that my husband made for me when he was in dental school.  We were dating, in love and he had no money, so he melted down all of his gold dental projects--none of which had been in anyone's mouth, and designed and created the ring for me.  It is the band, plus a smaller "band" intwined with the big band.  I love it more than my diamond engagement ring.  

2. Most important favorite thing - I am assuming family doesn't count, so I will say "books."  

3. Favorite Make-up - lipstick.  I always wear it. 

4. Favorite article of clothing -  My yoga pants from Lands End. 

5. Favorite drink - ~Diet Coke with fresh lime.

6. Favorite smelly thing -  I'm a cinnamon girl but I also love the smell of "fall" in the air and the smell of the earth after a fresh rain.  I'm like Kenny Loggins that way.  

7. Favorite food - Hamburger followed closely by guacamole.  

Butternut Squash/Sage Lasagna

My friend Melinda made this for our Holiday book club dinner.  I finally got around to making it for my family last night.  My husband LOVED it.  My kids tolerated it but I will definitely make it again.  It is a Martha Stewart recipe.

Serves 8. 
3 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, 
seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces 
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper 
1 pound whole-milk ricotta cheese 
1/2 cup heavy cream 
2 large egg yolks 
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, 
coarsely grated (2 cups) 
Freshly grated nutmeg 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh sage 
leaves, coarsely chopped 
1 1/4 cups homemade or store-bought 
low-sodium chicken stock 
Fresh Lasagna Noodles, (you will need 
only 1/2 of the batch), cut into 
4-by-13-inch strips and cooked, or store- 
bought dried noodles, cooked 
4 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese 
(1 1/4 cups) 

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss squash, oil, and 1 
teaspoon salt on a baking sheet. Season with pepper. Bake 
until light gold and tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool. 
2. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Combine 
ricotta, cream, yolks, mozzarella, and a pinch of nutmeg in 
a medium bowl. Season with salt. 
3. Melt butter in a small saute pan over medium-high heat. 
As soon as it starts to sizzle, add sage, and cook until light 
gold and slightly crisp at edges, 3 to 4 minutes. 
4. Place squash in a medium bowl, and mash 1/2 of it with 
the back of a wooden spoon, leaving the other 1/2 in whole 
pieces. Gently stir in sage-butter mixture and stock. Season 
with salt and pepper. 
5. Spread 3/4 cup of ricotta mixture in a 9-cup baking dish. 
Top with a layer of noodles. Spread 1/2 of the butternut 
squash mixture over noodles. Top with a layer of noodles. 
Spread 1 cup of ricotta mixture over noodles. Repeat 
layering once more (noodles, squash, noodles, ricotta). 
Sprinkle Parmesan over ricotta mixture. 
6. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake 
until cheese is golden and bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes. Let 
stand for 15 minutes before slicing and serving. 

Notes from Melinda (which I followed): Here is the recipe I used on Thursday. It may look involved, but it really isn't bad. I put it together in the morning and stuck it in the fridge until it was time to bake. I used 12 regular lasagna noodles in a 9"x13" pan, but I think I would have been happier with 16. If you read the recipe, it calls for four layers of noodles and I ended up with three. Or maybe I should have used a narrower dish. The squash mixture seemed loose as I was mixing it, so I only added a cup of chicken stock. It thickened as it baked. I used one 2-lbs pack of pre-cut butternut squash from the cold produce room at Costco. I would recommend the extra cost of fresh mozzarella. I can never shred the stuff, so I just cubed it fairly small. Costco has a 2-lbs pack that isn't exorbitant. I used low-fat ricotta. I can never tell a difference. Cooking the sage in butter is really worth the effort.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Oh Crappy Day !

I am the 11 year old scout leader in my church.  I used to be awesome at it.  Now, I think many people will want my head.  Read on . . .

Being an 11 year old scout leader is a somewhat "misfit" calling because one is officially under the Primary umbrella but really you are under the Young Men umbrella because 11 year old scouts is a made up thing in the Mormon church.  (Turning 12 is a big change in our church and a small part of it is moving up into Young Mens and being able to do consistent, overnight scout activities under the scout master.  In scouting, boys move up after they earn their Arrow of Light, around age 11, and do regular scouting stuff under a scout master.  But, in our church, the boys wait to do overnighters until they are 12,  so 11 year old scouts was created to work with that framework.)    Anytime any info needs to be exchanged, I am to contact our committee chair, who often refers me to the Scout Master or the assistant Scout master, for dates about courts of honors, merit badge workshops, etc.  Honestly, I work with an amazing group of people but since I am in this "misfit" category, sometimes, things get lost in the exchange.  

Anyway, several months ago, the assistant scout master contacted me to tell me that several of the my 11 year boys "advancement" stuff had not been entered into the computer.  I asked if it was my job to enter it.  He didn't know.  Recently, he contacted me again and told me nothing had been updated.  I again asked if it was my job to do so.  He is a great man and finally contacted me with the information I needed to update my 11 year old scouts info in the Utah system.  (The dates are important because you have to be a 1st class for a minimum of four months before you can earn your next ranking.)  

I tried to do it.  It didn't work.  I made about 15 phone calls and finally was told that at least for the Utah system, you can't use a Mac to update info.  My husband attended a meeting and told them that we were working on updating the information and would do it this week at his office, so I knew I was cleared to update the information.  I went to my husband's office yesterday to do it.  Every boy in our troop is listed from 11 year old scouts up on up to those who still haven't gotten their Eagle.    I updated my boys (really just three dates needed to be entered)  and clicked, "Send to council" button.  The screen went blank and ALL OF the boys and their info was erased--not even just my 11 year old scouts but EVERYONE!  I didn't click on "remove names" or "start over" or anything.  I did press "next page" when the "Make suggestions to improve this web-site page" came up but that is all.  The screen just went entirely blank.  Because it was my first time putting this information into the system, I read every screen carefully.  I know I did not press any button authorizing a deletion of names or removing records.  

I tried to stay calm.  I logging out, then logging in--still all names were gone.  I did this about 10 times.  I tried various things and could not recall up the information!  I eventually  e-mailed my problem to our Scout Committee chair.  I still haven't heard from him.  I am just hoping the "council" has a recent copy or someone has a current copy of everyone's advancements.  If not, I really messed things up.   But then again, I don't think I did anything wrong.  I followed all of the prompts correctly, so I can't figure out how everything got deleted.  In talking to a few friends, they have told me sometimes the system "just does that"  but why oh why did it "just do that" on my first blasted time trying to do it!  Anyway, my day got worse.  Read on . . .

I had a stack of mail (about 20 envelopes) to mail for dentist husband's office, as well as needing to do a work bank deposit for the office as well.  I do those daily for his office and as you can imagine, they often have cash and many checks.  I dropped everything off at the post office (I had to go inside because I had a box to mail as well) and then went to the bank.  

I reached in my purse and discovered I didn't have the deposit in my purse.  I thought, "I must have left it on the counter at home."  I ran home.  I checked where I keep the deposit.  It was not there.  I dumped everything out of my purse on my front room carpet, hoping to find it but it was gone.  I then realized I had dropped the deposit envelope in with the mail!  I ran back to the post office.  The nice lady agreed to open the box and look for it.  She found it but she wouldn't give it to me, unless I showed some ID.  My wallet was on the floor in my house!  Fortunately, she did let me run to my car and find ANYTHING with my name and address on it.  Fortunately, I had the car's registration (which only had dentist husband's name on it) but the deposit slip had his name on it, so she gave it to me.  (Very reluctantly, I might add.)

So anyway, I am now awaiting the call to find out how to clear up what happened on the Scout side of things.  In talking to my sister, more than once, she has pulled up advancement records and they have been blank, even when she personally put the information in herself, so again, another story of this happening.  Please bless someone has a recent hard copy of everyone's advancements.  Oh crappy day.  

UPDATE:  I placed a call of the scout office and learned this problem happens "frequently".  They have all of the info (and the Scout committee chair called me and he has all of the current info in a hard copy form) and so not all is lost.  

Saturday, January 8, 2011


What happens when you win a thing of tape at the Sock Exchange and tell your boys they can have it.  

(I should say, Toothsome #3 did escape on this own a few minutes later.)  

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Film Fest 2011

We are fancy people and so we have to be fancy at the start of the New Year and have our own Film Festival.  It is not quite a star studded as the Sundance Film Festival but close, because remember, I am now a famous actress.  

We always host.  We set up our family room just so.

This year, we had eight films up for the showing but unfortunately, two were not sent in DVD format (one of our rules) and we couldn't figure out a good way to show them.  My father-in-law and his wife always pick one film to win the "Oscar" a man he makes out of money, that totals about $24 dollars.  

This year it went to my brother-in-law's brother and his fiance.  Honestly, one of the funniest, cleaver films ever submitted.  They totally deserved it this year.  

And, in keeping up with our fancy image, we did a "hot dog" bar as the menu.  For hot dogs, they were very fancy (my husband scores them, so they have a very cool pattern on the top and grills them to perfection-no boiled dawgs at our house) and we had about 30 condiments available to everyone.  Film Fest 2011 was a success.  

It was an intense "Sock Exchange" this year . . .

The highlight of every Christmas is the annual "Sock Exchange."  It really has nothing to do with exchanging socks but it is a play on words with "Stock Exchange.  From a previous Christmas post I explain the Sock Exchange:

Sock Exchange: My father in law started this tradition years ago with his kids and it has continued even with in-laws. Instead of having Christmas socks with candy in them, they are filled with practical items (food things--maple syrup, spices, ramen noodles and non-food things like serving spoons, windshield washer fluid,  etc.) as well as not-so-practical (OK, junk) items. We then play a white elephant like game, trading and exchanging items from our pile of stuff.
You can save one item and then anything in your pile is up for grabs.  We "rock, paper, scissors" to determine who goes first and then let the "sock exchange" begin!

Someone had just taken something of my brother-in-law's that he wanted.  Lots of intense, "Oh man!  How could you? " was yelled.  (All in good fun, I should say.) 

A few years ago, the "mystery gift" was introduced.  There are usually 3-5 mystery gifts floating around.  Some are great gifts, many are not. They can't be opened until Sock Exchange is declared over.  My brother-in-law the one "non Republican" in the group got Glen Beck's The Christmas Sweater on CD.  Pretty funny.  

Toothsome #4 with one of the "sockie" items Dentist husband ended up with.  Pretty awesome.  

This Richard Simmon's VHS has been a mystery gift for quite sometime.  Dentist husband's sister got this after someone "ruthlessly" took one of her prized items--a nice liquid measuring cup.

This was indeed Sock Exchange at its finest.   

A Few Christmas Morning Images

"It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas 
when its mighty Founder was a child Himself."
--Charles Dickens 1812-1870

Actually from Christmas Eve:  New PJ's.  They asked for zip ones this year.  Thankfully, Lands End makes them in larger sizes

All she asked Santa for was a label maker.  She got a Karoke machine too.
The Green Machine--very cool.

One of two princess dresses she got.
Dentist husband on his Xooter.  Yes, I let the kids (and him) ride their scooters in the house.  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Clothing Items I have Discovered and Love in 2010

I am reorganizing today and spent quite awhile on my closet.  It has held Christmas gifts since around June, so I needed to rework it now that the season is over.  Below is a list of clothing discoveries that I have loved this past year.

1.  Lee Jeans:  Back in my junior high days, I wore Lee Jeans.  Then, I discovered Talbots in high school and didn't shop anywhere else for about 10 years.  I hate shopping and so once I find something I like, I don't change unless I am forced to.  Marrying a dental student (ie having no money) and then having kids forced me to find clothes that I didn't to have iron or worry about.  (Don't worry Talbots, I still adore you.)
Anyway, in 2010 my friend Paige alerted me to their great sales and on a whim  and because they were cheep, I purchased on-line without trying them on, a pair of Lee Jeans.  Guess what?  They fit like a glove and I can purchase them in "small" inseam meaning, I don't have roll up my pant legs or have them too long and dragging.  Thank you Lee Jeans.  I now own several pairs, all of which I didn't ever try on before buying them and they fit perfectly.

2.  Lands End Yoga Pants:  I have been searching for comfortable, wear around the house but still look respectable out in public pants.  These fit the bill.  I own them in every color.

3.  Land End Canvas:  This is a new line at Lands End.  I think it is geared to the "hipper" set.  I am not claiming I am hip by any means but I own many of their sweaters and I love them all.  They also have some amazing sales with free shipping, so I haven't paid full price for anything yet.  I get a ton of complements on the items when I wear them.  Glad to have found this new addition to the Lands End line.

4.  Lole clothing:  I purchased some from REI on sale and I am now converted.  Most if not all are SPF 50.  They pricey but I always buy on sale and am always very happy with what I have purchased.

Happy 2011.  May I find other great clothing items.