Thursday, October 4, 2007

Dirty Days

Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins: That was my latest great find. Crispy sweetness on the outside, tender and moist on the inside. The flavor of fall.
The weather has been really nice lately. We have finally cooled off to the 80s! I took the kids outside to play. My neighbor is having some landscaping done around her yard. The workers dumped a big pile of dirt in the cul-de-sac. Tristan spotted it first. I tried to deter the kids but then one of the workers suggested they go get their buckets and shovels.
Both kids had a blast but they were covered from head to toe with dark brown dirt. It was fun to see them play in it. I didn't even mind so much when Tristan ate a few handfuls of dirt. He seemed happy. If it wasn't for our dinner meeting with Daddy it would have been even more fun. I had to take them in the house and give them a bath before taking them to the hospital so we could have dinner as a family.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What You've Missed

I just wanted to post this picture of my friend Rachel. I wrote about the quilt I made for her several months ago. She is seen in the picture with me. She tied it with her mother and I finished the binding for her.

Life has been busy lately but I thought I better blog so I can get some of it recorded anyway. I don't know why it's been so hard for me to blog since we moved. I am blaming it on the fact that our computer is in a different place and not as accessible.

Kennedy started preschool at the beginning of the month. She is so cute and loves it. I am enjoying the one-on-one time with Tristan but it seems most days are filled with naps or busy errands. I have managed to take him tot he park a few times though.

Last week was our women's conference. I was in charge providing two quilts for the service project. My mom donated two pieced quilts and made it that much easier for me. We had an activity where several women from the ward showed up to help tie. I had two more quilting sessions at my house. They are done and they were the cutest ones (if I do say so myself, thanks, Mom) of the group.

We have finally saved up some money to buy some new furniture. Our first project is the dining room. We purchased a table and some chairs last weekend and look forward to their arrival. It will be nice to start decorating our new home that we've lived in for almost six months now!
The furniture doesn't look very exciting from a tiny picture but in real life it's really nice. Simple but elegant. I am going to have a deep red and gold fabric on the seats. Fun stuff.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Today I had to run some errands near the mall so as a reward for my children's good behavior I took them to the mall play area then we had lunch at Chik-fil-a. Soon after we arrived at the play area Kennedy walked up to a little girl and started talking to her. It was too loud and she was too far away for me to hear what she said but the two played together happily for some time. Once they came close to me and Kennedy was excited to tell me she had met a new friend. I asked the little girl, who was wearing the same skort as Kennedy, what her name was and she said, "Kennedy". I thought she misunderstood. Soon her mother came my way and I asked her what her daughter's name was. She said the same thing, "Kennedy". Oh! That's my daughter's name too! It turned out they were the same age--give or take a few months. After a few minutes the girl's mother asked me if I'm LDS. She said that she, too, is LDS and they are not in the same ward but go to the same building. Just a funny coincidence.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Cooking Club

I went through a cookbook-collecting phase when we lived in Denver. It started with one of those mail-order things where you get so many cookbooks for $1 then have to buy so many at regular price. Then a lady at church cleaned out her cookbooks and gave me some very good books. It kind of snowballed from there. I have kept most of them.
About this same time I had an idea to start a cooking club. My friend, Liz, helped me get it going. We invited some of our friends and we met once a month or so. We always had a theme and a little lesson with several dishes to taste at the end. We took turns hosting, teaching and providing the food. Now that I think about it it kind of sounds a bit silly but we had so much fun! When you combine women, food and conversation you can't go wrong.
Some of the themes I remember are fondue, picnics, bread and eggs. I also remember having a little demo on napkin folding. I still have a lot of our handouts and refer to them from time to time. I really did learn a lot.

This recipe is one of my favorite desserts. I like Oreo desserts. This is not related to the cooking club but I thought I would include it because I was talking to my mom about it the other day.

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake
2 cups (24) crushed Oreo cookies
6 Tbs butter, melted
Combine crumbs and margarine, press onto bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of spring form pan
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
1 1/4 cups (10) chopped Oreo cookies
Soften gelatin in water; stir over low heat until dissolved. Combine cream cheese and sugar, mixing at medium speed until well blended. Gradually add gelatin, and milk, mixing until blended. Chill until slightly thickened but not set; fold in whipped cream. Reserve 1 1/2 cups cream cheese mixture; pour remaining cream cheese mixture over crust. Top with chopped cookies and reserved cream cheese mixture. Chill until firm.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Still Here

I'm still here. I haven't forgotten about my blog. However, with a fan base of about four people I have a hard time motivating myself to write sometimes. I know I should just do it for myself. After all, I did start the blog so it would be a fun way to journal. I would like to include some more interesting tidbits like recipes or pictures but I haven't really tried anything new lately and it's very difficult to download pictures onto my computer. I have had a few thoughts lately that I would like to include.
I hate August. It is the January of Summer--you know, when all the fun and excitement is over and there is not much to look forward to in the near future. The weather is at it's peak--we've had 100-degree weather for a week. On Saturday we only reached 93, which felt pleasant. When has 93 ever felt pleasant?
Anyway, the heat has killed my not-so-productive garden. I've decided that it's very difficult to garden here. My zucchini plant is the only thing that has been really productive. We did get one cucumber that was delicious before the heat killed everything. The beans could have been good if the infestation of the Japanese beetles had not occurred. I think next year I might stick to herbs. That was the only other thing that the deer didn't eat. If it's not one thing it's another, I guess.
Saturday we had a minute to go to the farmer's market. Almost every booth looked like they were set up to make salsa. We bought a few pounds of tomatoes, some jalapenos and some peppers. I came home and found a recipe online (which I won't be sharing. . . .keep reading) and bought the rest of the ingredients at the grocery store. It could have, should have been delicious. However, the total yield did not quite add up to what the recipe said. I was supposed to have four pints at the end and only had 3 1/2. I don't know if the recipe was wrong or if I messed up (I think a little of both) but the salsa is horrible. It tastes like vinegar with a little bit of vegetables added. What a waste. I hope there is a way to salvage it.

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

I claim to be on a quest for the best chocolate chip recipe. When I find it I will let you know. So far I have at least three "favorite" chocolate chip cookie recipes. One is just a plain ol' chocolate chip cookie which uses half butter, half shortening. I also like the recipe that uses the ground-up oatmeal that has falsely been accused of being a clone of the Mrs. Field's and Nieman Marcus recipes. When I'm in a really chocolate mood I opt for the Double Trouble recipe that my sister gave me. It's a chocolate cookie with chocolate chips and sometimes I add the Andes mint chips for a little surprise. I would add another recipe of my sister's, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, which are really yummy but since Kennedy has a peanut allergy I choose not to make those. They really are good though.
I tried a new one today called "Mississippi Mud Cookies" that really were good. They might be on my list depending how they taste tomorrow. It has all the right ingredients: chocolate dough, milk chocolate chips, pecans and toasted marshmallows. I was surprised at how much the recipe really takes on the flavor of the traditional Mississippi Mud cake. I found the recipe in my August issue of Southern Living, which has been my favorite magazine for some time.
Go ahead, try them and see what you think.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Travel Log

I didn't mean for this to be a travel log but I have to write about my trip to Utah. We had such a great time and each year I go I remember why I make the trek out every summer.
First I have to say that my kids did great on the flights. It was such a long day travelling it would not have surprised me if they were miserable. We held it together until the car ride from the Las Vegas airport to St. George. Kennedy was just getting over a cold and I think that combined with the ear pressure from the airplane, the long day and sitting in the back seat of the car was just too much. As we turned into the Target parking lot in St. George she threw up. Poor thing. She was much better the next day and we were able to have a healthy trip the rest of the time.
Our first major event was preparing for my niece's baby shower. Tyffanee is expecting her first baby, a girl, and we decided at the last minute to throw a shower for her. Even though she isn't from Beaver we have a lot of relatives there and we had a good turn out with a few out-of-towners, including her mom, sister and mother-in-law. Since we decided to host the shower last minute (five days notice for guests) we gave the option of going in on a group gift. This turned out to be a great thing because we were able to get her a Pack-n-Play, a Baby Bjorn and a high chair. She also got lots of cute clothes, blankets and other fun things. I'm so excited to see my cute niece be a mom.
Our next great adventure was celebrating Pioneer Day. My sister came to town and Kennedy enjoyed playing with her cousin, Megyn. My niece, Alyssa, also stayed with us along with her friend Mary. We had a houseful but the more the merrier. Beaver starts Pioneer Day off with their own tradition. At approximately 6 a.m. dynamite can be heard in intervals all around town. Wake up! Time to get ready for the day. After listening to this for about 15 minutes I am ready to get up. My sister and brother-in-law head to the high school track to do the 5K. Alison and I walk because I am usually not in shape for it. It's a fun time to have with my sister, however.
After the 5K we rush home to shower and get ready for the parade. This year Beaver was hosting a little league tournament so a lot of the floats were trucks filled with cute little baseball players from all over the country. The rest of the parade was unremarkable. I was a little disappointed this year. After the parade we head down to the city park where there are kid's foot races (which we never do because I hated them when I was a kid), snow cones, hot dogs, moon bounce and slide, and old friends. Everyone who left Beaver comes home for Pioneer Day and we hope to see each other at the park. It's our yearly reunion. I saw more friends this year than usual, which is fun.
After the festivities at the park we made ready for a family cook-out. We were going to head up the canyon but it turned out to be a rainy day so we went to a local park instead. My mom and her two sisters still live where they have always lived--within two blocks of each other. They all gather their families together and we have a potluck. My cousin, Wade, brought his pony and cart to take the kids on rides. Kennedy loved that. Meanwhile, my dad and I went to check out some antique cars parked along the block--about 7 or 8 cars all belonging to the same man. He happened to pull up in his 1922 speedster and offered to take me for a ride. I love antique cars so I took him up on it. He couldn't convince me to drive it though. That was the highlight of my day.
I told Kennedy that if she took a nap she could stay up for the fireworks. She thought that was a great idea until they actually started. She wanted to go home right now. She then told me that the next time I tell her that she can stay up for fireworks she WON'T take a nap. She made it through and I enjoyed the show too.
I was able to visit with some of my dear friends whom I don't get to see very often. I was able to visit my old high school friends Melanie, Kerrie, Debbie and Alison. I met Lucy at Thanksgiving Point and we went through the Dinosaur Museum. We had a nice visit from Chris's brother and his wife. They spoiled the kids for a whole day. My mom and I took the kids to the "This is the Place Pioneer Park" which was fun. My sister and her kids volunteer there. It was a fun place to spend the day. We also met Nana and Poppa at Thanksgiving Point for a few hours and toured the beautiful gardens there. We had such a good time and it was nice for the kids to see the Kelsey Grandparents since they haven't seen them for a year. We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family. We feel so loved when we go back to Utah.
Some other highlights of the trip were shopping at many quilt stores, reading the final book of Harry Potter, going on walks with no humidity, and just relaxing a little bit. Now it is time to get back to reality.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Spa Night

Last night was my first big Enrichment Meeting. I only have three people on my committee so there was a lot of planning on my part. We had a "Spa" night. Our spiritual message was on "loving who you are". We asked someone who is leaving the ward this summer to do that and she did a great job.

When we fist started planning we had too many things planned for the night so we decided to double up on the classes and have two being taught at the same time, different rooms. We had four classes, skin care, color analysis, women's health issues--stress management, and hair tips. We wanted to have an exercise class and manicures for the end but that didn't work out. In then end, one of our speakers cancelled last minute. We ended up all staying in the Relief Society room for all of the speakers.

I was surprised at the number of people we had. I didn't count but I bet we had between 30-40 which is good for our ward. Our activities have not been that well attended. All the speakers we had lined up did an excellent job. Everyone listening seemed really interested too.

We topped the night off with chocolate fondue and dippers. Yum!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Normal People

I've really slacked in the blogging department since we moved to our new house. I can think of two reasons:
1. Our computer is in an upstairs location just outside the kids' rooms. So, when it's nap time I don't usually get on the computer anymore.
2. Life has been really busy!
Almost two weeks ago we took a trip to Washington D.C. I want to write more about that when I am able to download some pictures.
This past Friday Chris finished his residency. . . .just like that! After almost 12 years of knowing him he has finally reached the goal he had in mind when we met. It's been a long haul and we have had some ups and downs but it's finally here.
I was invited to attend the departments end-of-year luncheon. I made arrangements for Tristan to go to a friend's house and I took Kennedy with me. It was a nice buffet-style lunch with a lot of the people from the department there--mostly physicians, residents, techs and some support staff. Chris was awarded an outstanding research award which I missed because I was taking someone to the restroom. The residents presented him with a nice gift certificate to Orvis. Some of the doctors stood up to say some nice things about Chris. Then Chris got up to say a few words. He said he wanted to thank three people. He thanked me first and much to my surprise he got emotional. That made me get teary eyed too. Then he thanked one of the secretaries and his mentor Dr. Marks. He presented Dr. Marks with a quilt I made for him. Again, I will write more on the quilt when I'm able to download the picture. It was a nice day and I had such a giddy feeling in my heart all day long. So glad he's done.
He started his new job yesterday and had a fabulous day in the clinic. After almost 12 years of having smaller goals to reach and moving every 3-5 years we aren't sure what to do next. I guess just live like normal people!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Recipe Naming Contest

About 3 1/2 years ago we were visiting Chris's aunt in Bountiful when she served this yummy dish. There is no name for it and really no recipe. I even searched the Internet trying to pin down some specific measurements but came up with nothing. I don't even have a name for it. So, any suggestions?

1 pork butt/shoulder roast
Coke (about 1 cup)
Ketchup (about 1 cup)
Brown Sugar (about 1/2 cup)
Combine and cook all day in slow cooker or crock pot--I put it in the night before and had it for a luncheon the next day.
Remove pork and shred. Mix in some of the reserved liquid and add more ketchup and brown sugar to taste. Heat in slow cooker/crock pot.

Serve on tortillas with rice, black beans, sour cream, Monterrey cheese, salsa, corn, etc.

As a side dish I served Minted Pineapple:
1 fresh pineapple, cut into bite-size chunks or slices
4 Tbs sugar
8 mint leaves

Combine sugar and mint in food processor or blender and mix until mint is chopped into tiny pieces. Sprinkle over fresh pineapple chunks.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I Need a Prince

Kennedy's favorite movie lately is "Barbie: 12 Dancing Princesses" She loves to dance around when the princesses take the stage. Yesterday I turned it on for her while I tried to finish a quilt that has a deadline.
I heard Kennedy pattering around downstairs and then dead silence. I wondered what was going on. When I went down to check on her she was nowhere in sight. I finally found her in the garage. She was getting her ballet shoes that were in the car. She wanted to put them on to dance in the living room. Cute girl!
I went back to my sewing and then I heard her clamouring up the stairs. Tristan was asleep so I poked my head out the door to tell her "shhhh". She ran into her room and grabbed her bear who is supposed to stay in her room now because he's starting to fall apart. When I told her to put him back she said, "but I need a prince". She must have reached the part in the movie where the princesses are dancing with princes.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Mickey Mouse Park

Last Sunday we packed up the kids and flew to Orlando where we met two of my siblings, Alison and Steve, and their families. Before we left I knew it would be a great vacation but also very difficult. Tristan is still taking two naps a day and is not used to "sleeping on the go". Nevertheless, we love to travel and we haven't traveled much since Tristan was born 14 months ago so we gave it a shot.

We visited Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom but the best part was being there with family. Little Kennedy adores her cousins. Since we got back we she can't stop talking about Tamsyn, Megyn and Mandy-forget Mickey Mouse!

Some of the highlights from our trip were:

  1. Being with family (of course)
  2. Kennedy's face when she got to hug Alice in Wonderland

  3. The Philharmagic show at Magic Kingdom
  4. Baby giraffes at Animal Kingdom
  5. Swimming with the kids
  6. Free hot breakfast at the hotel!
  7. Finding Nemo the Musical
  8. Watching Kennedy entertain everyone

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Flavor of Memorial Day

Did you know Memorial Day has a flavor? It is pancakes with strawberries and whip cream--not the store-bought in a can or container kind but the freshly whipped kind that's made from heavy cream and sugar.
Our family had a Memorial Day tradition. Each year Uncle John and Aunt Ann hosted a breakfast. It started out as just family, then a few friends, then half the town! I think the last one we had served almost 100 people.
Uncle John's pancakes weren't the usual 3-4 inch pancake. They were the size of the whole plate and if you could eat more than one you were either some kind of hero or really sick! The pancake batter was made from a sour dough start that was over 100 years old. The dough is set out the night before. It grows and grows then in the morning some of the start is taken out, put in the refrigerator and saved for then next time. More ingredients are then added to the remaining dough to make it the batter consistency we all are familiar with.
Along with the pancakes topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream each person was served a couple of eggs--sunny side up--and a slab of ham. There was a choice of milk or OJ to drink.
After our large breakfast we would all head up to the cemetery to put flowers on our loved-ones' graves. It was a happy day that our family shared.
I can't help but think of Uncle John and his pancakes on Memorial Day. I know that pancakes with such toppings could be had any time of the year but for some reason we saved it for that special day. I have since made that meal but it just doesn't have that same tickling of the taste buds. Oh, it's good, and we'll have it again, but I sure miss Uncle John and his pancakes.
Happy Memorial Day!

Cabin Creek: The Sign of an Eleven-Year Marriage

Eleven years ago April Chris and I were married. There were many things I didn't know about Chris but I did know that he enjoyed camping, hiking and some hunting. When he was in high school he used to go on long camping trips with his friends. After he graduated he and his friends headed off for a three-week camping trip in the mountains. I can only imagine what goes on when three boys get together with no supervision, no rules and no showers! Chris did bring home a souvenir from his trip, however, an old sign which said "Cabin Creek". The story goes that he paid one of his siblings to sand it down and paint it for him.
Over the course of our eleven-year marriage Chris has toted that sign around claiming that "some day" he would hang it in our home. Our first few apartments were small, very temporary or not concussive for hanging things on the wall (BYU Married Housing--cinder block walls). When we moved the North Carolina he thought the time had come. He had a nice office which was eventually decorated with his diplomas and some nice fly fishing decor. It could have gone in there but the sign was kind of big and bulky and would have looked funny.
Now, I always went along with Chris and told him that "yes, someday", he could have the sign up. When it came right down to it I just couldn't allow him to hang that thing in our home.
Now that we are all settled into our new home we have found a perfect place for the Cabin Creek sign. I am actually quite surprised at how nice it looks and Chris was quite surprised that I agreed so quickly. We have an eight-foot-wide porch that looks out to a rustic wooded front yard. The sign now hangs from the porch and adds a personal touch to our home that says it's ours.
Welcome home to Cabin Creek!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Singin' in the Rain

Saturday is always busy for us. Chris works all week and has one day for his yard chores. I wish I could say that I am organized enough to have all my shopping done so that I could stay home and be helpful. However, for some reason I have been programed to do my shopping on Saturday. I usually leave the kids with Chris so I can go myself but this time I took Kennedy with me and left only Tristan.
When we left the house the rain had subsided. I thought we would be ok without our umbrellas. I'm still getting used to a new grocery store so it took me a little longer than I expected. I was in a hurry though because our babysitter was going to be at our house at 5:00. I knew that time was approaching.
I rushed through the checkout and turned toward the door to leave. Sheets of rain were pouring down from the sky! We had no umbrellas, no jackets with hoods (not that they would have helped in this kind of rain storm!), nothing. I stood there with everyone else and waited. After awhile Kennedy looked up at me, tugged on the grocery cart and said, "Come on, Mommy. Let's GO!" I explained that it was raining and we would have to wait a little bit. A few minutes later she became impatient. She tugged on the cart again, "Come on Mommy! We're going to miss it!" I waited a minute more thinking of how I actually liked how my hair turned out that day and thinking I wanted to look nice for my date with Chris later that night. I looked at Kennedy again with her cute little eyes looking longingly out at the rain. I told her to jump on the cart and we made a run for it. We ran out into the river of rain, unprotected from the elements. When we got to the car I unlocked it and told her to get into her car seat while I put the groceries in the trunk. Expecting her to do so I hurriedly removed the bags from the cart. I looked up a moment later to find Kennedy splashing in puddles and twirling in the rain.
I couldn't help but think about how I look at life's storms. Do I hide from the rain or dance and sing and make the most of it? When it comes down to it, life's not all rainstorms anyway, we do have those sunny days to look forward to!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Quilting Comfort

When my mom was younger she associated with a group of girls who called themselves "The Ten Old Maids". Throughout the years they have remained friends although they all married and went their ways. A few weeks ago one of the "Old Maids" passed away. One of the other old maids asked my mom to make a quilt in her honor. My mom cranked out a beautiful quilt in about two days. I didn't see it but she told me that in the quilting she had quilted an angel and the words, "Friends are Forever". Knowing my mom and the artistic talent she has I'm sure the quilt was beautiful. The old maids who were able to come to the funeral took part in the services and placed the quilt in the coffin before she was buried.
On Wednesday I had a phone call from a gal I go to church with. She called asking for my help with a quilt. Another gal in our ward recently lost a baby that was only about 18 weeks along. It was conceived by IVF and was the couple's first child. My friend wanted to present her with a quilt that she and those who came to visit could tie. That sounded like something I could do. The only problem was that she wanted it the following day. I looked around my sewing room and found some beautiful fabric and said "yes", thinking I could get some of my quilting friends to help me put it together.
I already had a busy morning ahead. I had agreed to babysit my friend's two kids all morning and they would arrive soon. I took my fabric and cutting supplies downstairs and called my first quilting friend. She offered to send out an e-mail to the rest. I thought that would save some time and agreed. I cut as many squares as I could while watching the kids play. By mid-afternoon there were no replies and I worried that my quilting friends would not be able to come on such short notice so I started piecing the quilt. By early evening it was evident that I would be putting this quilt together myself.
I worked on the quilt until about 10 p.m. and picked it back up the next morning. By 11 a.m. it was finished! I just had to run to JoAnn's to buy fabric for the back and also the batting and yarn.
I was amazed at how much I liked the quilt. When I first started laying out the blocks I wasn't sure if it was a good combination. I had just enough fabric for the border. In fact, I miscalculated and didn't have enough strips. I looked back through my stash and found another strip that was already cut to the size I needed! It was a miracle. This quilt was surely meant for this wonderful lady.
This is one of the reasons I love quilting so much. It is a service than not everyone can give and it shows love in a unique way. When I get the quilt back to bind I will take a picture and post it.

Monday, May 7, 2007

My Garden

Growing up we always had a garden. I vaguely remember coming home after school and helping siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles plant the seeds into the tilled earth. Next memory is enjoying the scrumptious bounty in late summer. There was always plenty of squash, corn, carrots, cucumbers and many other vegetables. Why don't I remember anything in between? Probably because I didn't do any of the watering, weeding, harvesting, etc. You know, all the hard stuff.
I have lived all these years with a very romantic idea of becoming a gardener. I always said that when I have a house with a yard I want to grow a garden. I mentioned this to a friend and she told me of square-foot gardening. I thought it sounded interesting and looked it up on the Internet. It claims to be a full garden with as much produce but the space and work load are reduced 80%. I told my idea to Chris and the deal was that I could do it but that I had to do it--he was willing to help and but he didn't want to spend his precious Saturdays pulling weeds.
I did all the research and came to Chris with a list of materials I needed. We went to Home Depot on Saturday and bought all the supplies. He helped me (or I helped him rather) make a 4-foot square box to put my garden in. We took it to our "spot" and it was not level. It was my job to make it right. I started digging some trenches just the width of the board--I don't know! I have never done work like this before! When Chris saw what I was doing he chuckled and I handed him the shovel. He pulled out his level tool, turned up the dirt and made my garden square nice and level.
I filled the box with peat moss, compost and top soil. Then I sectioned off my garden into 16 1-foot sections with string. That wasn't too difficult but I still needed a little help from Chris. Kennedy helped me plant some seeds and then we watered.
My 4-foot square garden looks nice and tidy but we will see if it produces anything. I am beginning to wonder if I will be able to manage this. What was I thinking? I guess this is how it starts when you learn something new, right? Maybe it's a good thing I started with a 4-foot square! Stay tuned. . . .

Monday, April 30, 2007

I'm Back!

Ahhh! I'm back. With all the craziness of moving behind me I can finally sit down and write about it. We did have a few hiccups the first few days but we are all settled now. We had a few plumbing problems including a dishwasher that wouldn't drain and a toilet that kept clogging. The dishwasher had a pinched pipe so all the water couldn't get out. After calling the plumber 4 times he finally figured out the problem--a plastic tampon applicator stuck in the bottom. . . it wasn't mine--just weaned Tristan this weekend!
Today the fireplace company came and started up our propane fireplace. It has to be on for six hours--did I mention it's the hottest day so far this year? It's an inferno.
I must say, I love my house. Here is a list of things I love most:
  1. Screened-in porch
  2. Oak floors
  3. The view out my window--or any window
  4. The peace and tranquility of being out in the country
  5. Flagstone walkway
  6. The kitchen
  7. Garden bathtub and separate shower
  8. Skylights
  9. Being closer to Duke so Chris has a little bit shorter commute
  10. Screened-in porch!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Signing Off

When we first moved to Orchard Oriole Lane we thought it was such a cool street name. It didn't take long for us to change our minds. We started making calls to connect our utilities and other calls associated with moving to a new address. It seems that from the other end of the line it sounds like we live on Orchard Oreo Lane! That has been a thorn in our sides ever since.

Tomorrow we sign on our new home and will begin moving. We have made many good memories in this home and it is the only home our children know. Here are some things I will miss about this house and our neighborhood:
  • The lake view
  • The wildlife-- blue heron, geese, ducks, bunnies, blue jays, cardinals, blue birds, etc. We have even seen beavers, deer, a bald eagle and a swan.
  • Neighbors with the same-age kids
  • Walking distance to a grocery store, Wendy's and blockbuster
  • Living near a good portion of the ward members
  • My neighbor Sheila (and Skeeter even though she is in Seattle for another year)
  • Close proximity to the mall
  • The neighborhood park and other close parks

We have had many people come to visit us in this house including my parents, Chris's parents, Chris's brothers, Kimball and Cameron, my niece Alyssa, the Johnsons, Derek, and many others.

Although we are very excited to move into our new home, we will miss this place. This is my last blog at this home address. Signing off. . . . .

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Tristan Michael Turns 1

Today is my sweet baby boy's birthday! Tristan has been such a joy in our lives and I can't believe a whole year is up. It must be because he is the second child but it seems like his first year went by way faster than Kennedy's first year.
Tristan is starting to take his first steps. He has a few toys that have wheels and can be pushed. He loves to push those around the house. I often see him out of the corner of my eye zooming here, there, and everywhere. It's hard to tell, but I think he will be saying a few words soon. He definitely says "mamama" and "dadada". Sometimes if I say "ouch" he will try to repeat by saying "ahh".
I have given Tristan a little bit of milk in a sippy cup the past few days in preparation for weening. He loves it. I think he will catch on quickly. He has always been a fast nurser. From the time he was just a few hours old he could take in a whole feeding in under 10 minutes. I worried at first that he was not getting enough but it didn't take long to realize he was growing just fine. He loves to eat and gets very excited when I start making dinner. He likes the real thing. He doesn't like when I give him a piece of bread. That's just not good enough. I think this kid will be big.
Tristan has such a sweet demeanor. He hardly ever cries. I love to watch him play with Kennedy. She likes to tease him and make him laugh and Tristan has the cutest dimples. He likes to tease us too. When he nurses he likes to stick his finger in my nose or mouth. He loves his daddy and rushes toward him when he gets home from work. Tristan loves to play outside and since we have been going out more often with the warmer weather he has a harder time when we stay inside. I love to take him on walks because he just looks around and is so peaceful.
I'm so glad I have this sweet little thing in my life. I don't know what we would do without him.
Here are some things I have learned over the past year:
  • You can love more than one child
  • No matter how hard you try, sibling rivalry is just a part of life
  • No matter how hard you try, some kids just don't sleep through the night
  • There are more important things than sleep
  • Boys are just as fun as girls, just different
  • Resolve is really good for cleaning spit-up off the floor
  • Two kids are better than one (even though one was great for a while)
  • I love having my own fan club (of two)

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Easter Sunday

Happy Easter!
We had a nice day today. This morning we snuggled in bed with the kids for a few minutes before going downstairs. We let Tristan play on the floor while we read the Easter story to Kennedy. She loves reading about Jesus on the cross and about his resurrection.
My kids were spoiled by the Easter Bunny. When my mom was here a few weeks ago she bought the kids some things from the Gap and Pottery Barn Kids. By the time we supplemented it almost looked like Christmas. We got Kennedy a little CD player and some audio story books. That was a big hit. She has been listening to it all day. Kennedy said she looked like Sleeping Beauty (with brown hair of course) in her pink dress.
When I was a kid it seemed like Easter was always cold. The Easter Bunny always brought a cute shorts set and a nice spring dress but it was usually a little crisp still. Since moving to NC that has not been the case, until this year. Last Saturday was beautiful when I took Kennedy to an egg hunt. The first part of this week we had beautiful weather with the temperature in the 80s. On Thursday we had a swift change and it feels like winter again. However, I couldn't bring myself to dress my kids in anything but their Easter attire today.
We had our friend Nathan over for dinner. His wife and kids were out of town. We had grilled basil shrimp, orange rolls, lemon rice, salad and raspberry cake. If our friend wouldn't have come we would have leftovers.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Finished Quilt

Ahhh, another finished project. I'm on a roll! Of course, I needed my mom's help to finish this one. It's a queen-size quilt and I won't even attempt to quilt one that big on my sewing machine. My mom has become an expert long-arm quilter. Thanks to her expertise this quilt is now finished and will be off to its rightful owner (Kimball and Julie Kelsey) soon.
Last summer Kimball and Julie hinted they would be getting married within the year. In July while I was visiting my family in Beaver, Kimball and Julie came down from Ogden to visit us. I told Julie I wanted to make her a quilt. I took her down to the quilt store in Beaver, where my mom works, and had her pick out some fabrics. She said she had a lot of Americana decor and wanted something along that line. She picked out some blues that I already had scraps of at home. She chose some red and background to go with it. We looked at some patterns and chose this one from Eleanor Burns' Quilts Through the Seasons book.

When I got home the red I had did not go well with the other fabrics I wanted to use in the quilt. I pulled out some red scraps and figured I had enough for this quilt. I started right away. The cutting instructions were very easy and the piecing went quickly. I had the blocks done in no time.

I did put the quilt away for a few months to work on other projects but finished it after the holidays. I couldn't have been more pleased with how it turned out. I hope Julie and Kimball enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Conference Weekend

Another busy, but fun, weekend. I started off Saturday by having my hair cut and highlighted. My roots were only about 4 inches! I felt like a new woman. After I got home I took Kennedy up to the park for an Easter egg hunt. Some of her friends from church were there and they were able to play after the hunt. There weren't many kids there so Kennedy filled her basket.

After lunch Chris took Kennedy to the veterinary school in Raleigh for their open house where they had some activities for kids. I stayed home with Tristan, who slept most of the time, and quilted. I finished another baby quilt this weekend. I wanted to post a picture but it seems that some of our things have been packed away in boxes and the cord I needed to download will not be seen until we move into our new house in two weeks--you'll have to wait to see the quilt.

We went to see our new house this morning and were excited to see that we have several dogwood trees on our lot. The dogwood is the state flower. It comes out in spring and it's like lace for the forest. It is my favorite bloom here in the spring.
We also went to Duke Gardens. It was a beautiful, overcast, spring day. We have been having lots of pollen the last week or so and everything has been covered in a yellow powder but we had some rain the other day that helped wash some of it away.

We enjoyed listening to conference, well as much as we could. We have to listen in the office on the Internet. Gone are the days of relaxing in front of the t.v. At least we don't have to drive to the church to watch. I love listening to conference and always feel renewed and dedicated.

Well, back to the grind tomorrow. Now that I have this quilt finished I have to do something constructive, like packing.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Three Reasons to Blog

This is one of the reasons that I wanted to start a blog. I wanted to record my quilting experiences. I have a quilt journal but it's all filled up. This way other people can see what I have been working on.
I love to quilt. It has been a journey for me but I am comfortable now doing larger projects. I started out making small wall quilts. On occasion I would attempt a baby quilt. The first baby quilt I made took me three years to complete. It was a scrappy quilt, no two blocks alike and I hand quilted it which took me a really long time. I would get tired of it and put it away for several months. I finally finished it and there was no way I would let it go to anyone else. I'll have to admit, I haven't even used it for myself. It's beautiful but it's in my hope chest.
This quilt was made out of Moda fabrics from the line "Faded Memories". My friends found them on sale at a local quilt store but the sale was a 1-yard minimum cut so four of us pitched in a bought the whole line and each had a fat quarter of each of the prints. It's a very pretty line of fabrics.
The pattern is called "Twin Sisters". The pattern looked fun to me so I thought I would give it a try. I really enjoyed making this quilt. I even machine quilted it myself. I haven't decided who will get it. I might just hold on to it for a while.

This is the second reason I wanted to start a blog. My kids are growing and changing so fast I wanted a way that I could keep their grandparents updated.

Today I was on a walk with the kids in a stroller. Kennedy, aka Sweet Pea, asked me to let go of the stroller and push them into the busy street. I tried to explain to her that that was dangerous. "Why?" is always the next question. I explained to her that a car might not see them and run them over. "Then what would you say, Mommy?" I explained that I would be sad and that I don't like to see my babies hurt. Here's the kicker--"Then you wouldn't have a "P" and a "Q" anymore?" Then she pointed to Tristan and smiled and said that he was a cute little "Q".

Here is the third reason I wanted to have a blog: Recipes! I love sharing recipes and finding new recipes. This one is my sister's recipe and it is really good. Today I substituted the chocolate chips for Andes Mint Baking Chips. The cookies were heavenly!

Double Trouble Cookies

1 cup butter

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp baking soda

2 cups flour

1/2 cup cocoa

1/4 tsp salt

2 cups chocolate chips or Andes Mint Baking Pieces

Cream together the butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Add the dry ingredients and beat on a low speed. Add the chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until set.

Note: For high altitude, cut the baking soda to 1/2 tsp. and add 1 Tbs. flour.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

This 'n That

I have been so lazy about blogging lately. I often think of something to write about but when I get a moment to myself there are so many things I want to do.
One of the reasons I feel like I have not had much time is because Kennedy has given up naps. Or, rather, I have stopped offering them. It has been so difficult, with her taking a nap, to get her to go to sleep at night. This is much sooner than I thought she would be ready but her night sleep has improved so much and she doesn't make a fuss when I put her to bed at 7:30. Now if I could just figure out what I could offer for quiet time that would keep her quiet and entertained for an hour!
We had the missionaries over for dinner Sunday. They are always so complementary on my meals. They are good guinea pigs too. I usually try a new recipe when they come over because I don't feel too embarrassed if it doesn't turn out ok. Here is a recipe I tried:

Sweet Raspberry Muffins

2 cups biscuit/baking mix
2 Tbs sugar
1/4 cup cold butter or margarine
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tsp warm water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

In a bowl, combine biscuit mix and sugar. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in milk just until moistened (batter will be thick). Spoon about 1 tablespoon of batter into 12 paper-lined muffin cups. Top with 1 teaspoon jam. Spoon the remaining batter (about 1 tablespoon each) over jam. Bake at 425 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in pans for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine glaze ingredients until smooth. Remove muffins to a wire rack. Drizzle with glaze.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Pie Time

I come from a family of pie-makers. I consider my mom an expert pie maker. I especially love her apple pie and her strawberry rhubarb pie and her made-from-scratch banana cream pie, and. . . . . I could go on. My sister is also a great pie maker. She won a pie contest when she was just in high school. She still makes great pie. I, however, have not inherited the pie gene. I like to try on occasion but never really succeed. I guess I just don't practice enough.
Tonight is our ward's chili and pie cook off. Chris signed me up for both pie and chili. I went for a single-crust pie "Coconut-Caramel Pie" (recipe follows) which is a really good dessert. I usually cheat and bake a pre-made Pillsbury crust. I decided to try my mom's pie crust recipe this time. . . . . Nope, I'm still not a pie maker! I always follow the recipe but it turns out to be a gloppy mess. I baked it anyway and it will just have to do. This may ruin my reputation!
I hope the chili turns out better.

Coconut-Caramel Pie

2 Baked Pie Shells
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 8-oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 16-oz carton Cool Whip
1 12-oz jar caramel ice cream topping

In a large skillet, melt butter; stir in coconut and pecans. Cook and stir over medium heat until coconut is golden, about 6-8 minutes. Cool.
In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth; gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk on low speed. Fold in Cool Whip. Spoon 1/4 mixture into each pie shell. Drizzle each with about 1/4 of the caramel topping (I never use quite that much) and sprinkle with 1/4 of the coconut mixture. Repeat layers.
Cover and freeze at least 5 hours. Serve or freeze, covered, for up to 2 weeks. Let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving. Makes 20 servings (2 pies).

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Weighing In

This is really embarrassing and I am not sure how to write about this. I may write this and then not post it. We'll see.
I had an experience last night that was kind of depressing to me. Without giving out more details than anyone would want to know about me, lets just say it involved a dressing room in Victoria's Secret.
I read once that you can use the excuse, "I just had a baby" for about a year, then you are on your own. My year is almost up--just about three more weeks. I've never had a problem loosing weight when I needed to. I seem to fluctuate between the same 5 pounds, no matter what I eat, no matter if I exercise. Well, that's just not true for me anymore. My pregnancy with Tristan was wonderful but I allowed myself too many indulgences over the holidays and I could feel my backside growing and growing but just contributed it to my pregnancy. That backside is now haunting me.
After my trip to the mall last night I am much more motivated to eat better and be a little more active. I started my "8 Minutes in the Morning" regime again this morning. That has helped me in the past. Here's to looking better and feeling good about looking better!
Nothing makes celery look more appetizing than seeing your chub hang over a sexy pair of underwear!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Home At Last

Yeah! I have my husband back! Chris has been gone for 10 days. He went to Utah for his brother's wedding, came back for less than 24- hours and had to go to work, then left for Florida for a meeting.

The kids and I went to the airport to pick Chris up last night. We stopped by the mall on the way home. We have to buy some appliances for our new house and need to start shopping. We looked at a few things then went to Chick-fil-a for dinner. When we picked Chris up Kennedy asked him if he got her a present. He was not in a good place for presents so instead he took Kennedy to Build-A-Bear, which is much better than a souvenir from Florida, if you ask me. We are all glad to have daddy back home, where he belongs.

Here are some pictures of my cute kids.

Kennedy with "Flat Stanley". We're helping a friend with her daughter's class project.

Everyone loves Grandma Mary!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Prayer for Judgement

Ever since I got pulled over for speeding six weeks ago I have been worried about going to court. I was speeding 16 miles over the posted speed limit. Luckily the officer left off the "work zone" part of it--that would have made it a lot worse! If I would have been driving just one or two miles less I could have paid the ticket through the mail.

As it was, however, I had to go to court. My court date was yesterday. I had no idea what to expect. Six weeks ago I just imagined that Chris would take the morning off and I would go down to the Durham Courthouse and pay my fine. I soon learned that it would not be that easy. Chris informed me that he would be out of town and that meant I would have to find someone to watch my kids.

I didn't want to ask one of my friends because my "ticket" said I had to be there at 7:45 a.m. I called a girl who used to be in my ward and she is now in college. I had heard from many people that she is a good sitter. I felt confident in her abilities so I called her. Luckily she was on spring break when I needed her, otherwise she had a full day of classes.

As the date approached I realized that I didn't have to go to the Durham Courthouse but I had to go to the Raleigh Courthouse since I got pulled over in Wake County, not Durham County. Silly me. That added more stress to my situation.

I really worried about this whole thing and earlier this week I got online again to make sure I knew where I was going--I get a little anxiety when it comes to finding and going to new places. There were few details about what would happen when I got there. I found some links to other websites that gave me some insight into what kind of trouble I was in. Here are some phrases that fall under the category of speeding 16 miles over the speed limit:
  • Licence revoked
  • Insurance points
  • 45% increase in insurance premium for 3 years

I considered, too late, hiring an attorney. I also read somewhere about "Prayer for judgement" although I had no idea what it meant. I talked to my neighbor the night before my court date and she told me to ask for a "prayer for judgement". Neither of us knew what it meant.

So the morning finally came and, needless to say, I had said many regular prayers up to this point and the blessings were already starting to come. Both my kids slept through the night (miracle!) and so did I. I was shocked when my alarm went off at 6:00 and I had not been awakened for anything in the night.

My babysitter arrived and I left for Raleigh. I was a little late but I had learned that I could actually go anytime between 7:45 and 3:30. I just wanted to get it over. I easily found parking and walked to the building. I went through the metal detector and asked the security guard where I was supposed to go. He pointed to a room and I proceeded.

I walked into the room and there was a long line of people, none seemed to know if they were in the right place. There were no signs anywhere that directed me to where I needed to go so I just stayed in line and eventually someone who had been there before mentioned that this was the right line.

As I stood in line to "check in", which I later found out, I looked around at all the people in that room and there were only a handful of people who were, what I would consider, normal. I would not group myself with this crowd of people in any other situation.

After I finally got checked in I was shuffled off to another line, the DA line. The only other line was the "magistrate" line and I heard things coming from that line like "underage, possession of alcohol, illegal possession of marijuana", etc. I think most of the people in my line were for traffic violations though. This line was much slower than the first line.

It was finally my turn to talk to the DA. He said he could reduce my charge to 9 miles over instead of 16. I looked at him and he kind of smiled and said, "Is there anything else you would like to ASK me???????" I considered just taking it and paying for the charge instead I chuckled and said "Can I ask for a 'prayer for judgement'?" He smiled and told me to go to the courtroom around the corner.

When I went into the courtroom it was almost full. I thought it would be at least another hour before the judge called my name and wondered if this would be worth my time. The only easily-accessible seat was on the very front row. I could easily hear the conversations between the judge and other "criminals". Most of them were speeders, like me, and asking for a "prayer for judgement". I soon realized what I was asking for. Since I had no other speeding tickets on my record I could ask for a "prayer for judgement" and it would be like a warning, except I would have to pay court costs, $110. To my surprise, I was only in there about 15 minutes.

The judge was very nice and in a very good mood. I don't know if he is always like that but it was refreshing to see someone enjoying this kind of job so much. I felt fortunate to stumble upon this phrase and it will be my duty to pass it on to anyone who needs it.

I went home to find everything in order. Sariah was an awesome babysitter. She dressed and fed both kids, cleaned up, did Kennedy's hair, put Tristan down for a nap and was playing with Kennedy. Kennedy didn't want her to go home and asked me if Sariah could come over again. Yes, but hopefully under different circumstances!

Glad that is over!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

*#$%&! Weekend

I have been writing the last several days but each time I "post" it disappears. I don't know what's wrong with my blog. It's probably my computer. Like everything else I own it's about to die. Next month will be our 11-year anniversary and we have been in school or residency training ever since and only living on one income except for the year Chris was an intern and we saved his earnings for a down payment on a house so it was like one income.
Anyway, it's been a crappy weekend-no pun intended. Tristan still has diarrhea and he still just doesn't feel well. He actually slept pretty well last night. He woke up around 4 or 5 depending on if you had changed your clock already. He was pretty upset so I nursed him. After I started I had a thought that his diaper probably needed to be changed and nursing him would calm him down and then he would get upset when I changed him. I nursed him anyway and as soon as he was finished he vomited all over both of us so it was upsetting anyway!
It was quite comical today because I had one child sleeping and one child awake almost the whole day. As soon as I put Kennedy down for a nap Tristan woke up from his morning nap. Kennedy woke up about two minutes after I put Tristan down for his afternoon nap.
We have had such beautiful weather the past few days but haven't been able to enjoy it much. This afternoon I opened the sliding glass door to the deck and let the kids play outside. Tristan was in shorts, it was that warm.
I had a little emotional breakdown yesterday. I decided that I would not go to church today and I had a lot of things I needed to take care of there. That meant a lot of phone calls and asking others to do my job. I hate that. It's quite draining taking care of a sick child. I miss Chris too. I'm never quite 100 percent when he isn't around. Anyway, I called my neighbor Sheila because we planned to watch a movie and have dinner together. She could tell I wasn't quite right and I just started to cry. She came right over and sat with the sleeping kids while I went to the grocery store. I don't know what I will do without her after we move.
Next weekend will be better. . . .I hope!

Friday, March 9, 2007

Busy Week

It's been a busy week. Selling a home is no small project. Monday was the inspection and we received the repair request yesterday. Apparently our house was "backed into by a vehicle or something". It must have happened before we moved into the house but the person who inspected it for us did not pick this up. There is a 4' crack in the foundation of our garage that is visible from the inside and out. On the outside of the house the siding is bulging and the downspout and gutter are damaged. After reading the request I went out myself and viewed it. I have no idea how we could not have seen it before. This was the only major thing on the report so I guess we are fortunate.
Chris left Thursday morning for Utah. His brother Kimball is getting married. At 4:30 that morning I heard Tristan crying. I was letting him fuss hoping he would go back to sleep. I soon realized that he was trying to tell me something. I went into his room and smelled an odor that I associate with sickness. He cried and screamed but I had to change his diaper and his underclothes and his pajamas. Finally Chris came it to see what was wrong. We inspected his crib and found vomit too. Chris changed the sheet and put fresh blankets down while I nursed the poor little guy. Tristan went back to sleep quickly. Chris and I snuggled for about 10 minutes before his alarm went of and he had to get ready to go to the airport. After he left I was just starting to relax and fall back to sleep when Kennedy woke up.
I had my first Enrichment Committee meeting as the "leader". I will be working with a great group of women. Our meeting ended up being two hours. We talked a lot about each other and life in general and some about our upcoming meeting too! It was fun.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

My Absence

It's been over a week since I last posted. Here is why
  • A week ago Thursday my wonderful mother flew in from Utah to spend 10 days with us. When we first started looking for a home and thinking about putting our home on the market we asked her to come out to help while I got the house clean and ready for showing. I had no idea that we would find a house we liked so soon and, therefore, have to put our house up sooner.
  • Friday I had a showing so my mom and I packed up the kids and went to the mall where the kids played and we shopped and ate lunch. I love going to the mall with my mom.
  • Saturday we went up to the new house to show my mom around outside. We would have to wait until Monday when our realtor could let us in.
  • Sunday my mom and I stayed home with the kids because they were sick--green stuff oozing from their nose and eyes! Just after Chris left for church we had a phone call from our selling agent. We had an offer on the house! It wasn't great but by the time Monday night came we had an agreement. Our house is under contract!
  • The rest of the week was spent wiping noses, mine and the kids'. Not much sleeping going on and my mom got sick too. We were in sorry shape. Luckily we didn't have to show the house--that was painful.
  • Thursday I had to take Kennedy to the doctor. I thought she had a urinary tract infection. She woke up at 1 a.m. and went to the bathroom. I took her back to bed and she came back 15 minutes later insisting she had to go again. This went on for almost two hours. Finally I had her drugged up enough (ibuprofen and Tylenol) that she was able to fall back to sleep. Turns out it was not an infection but irritation from her virus--adenovirus.
  • Saturday we were all well enough to go for a walk at the UNC Gardens. It was a breezy but sunny day. We enjoyed the fresh air and drove up to the new house again.
  • Sunday came and I got called into the bishop's office. New calling--Enrichment Leader. Heaven help me! I can think of at least a dozen other people in my ward who would be more qualified.
  • This morning was sad when I had to say good-bye to my mom. She is a wonderful person. She spoiled us all while she was here with trips to Baby Gap, Pottery Barn and eating out. Back to the usual routine now.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Spring Fever

This year the groundhog reportedly missed his shadow which means that spring is right around the corner. We have had a small taste of spring the last two days, warm and breezy. Yesterday we spend a lot of time playing outside. I put warm-weather clothes on the kids and we went to the park. I was so glad to put Tristan's clothes on because I have quite a few 12-months short sets that I thought he was going to grow out of before he even got to wear them. Luckily both sets I tried have fit just right. The kids looked cute and were excited to get out and breathe some fresh air.

In other news, we continue to show our house but no takers yet. It has been very difficult, with two kids, to keep the house looking nice at all times. Sure hope someone puts in an offer soon!

Tonight we look forward to the arrival of Grandma Mary. She is coming to help with the kids while I clean the house. We intended on having her here before we put our house on the market but we ended up listing it sooner than we originally thought.

Here are some more pictures I downloaded tonight. The infamous step stool. Tristan drinking from a flower vase--he is his father's son. Whenever we go to Beaver Chris finds my mom's vase that looks like a big drinking glass and uses that for his water.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

My Kids

I have not been in the mood to blog lately but today I wanted to write a few things about the cute things my kids are doing right now.

KENNEDY (aka Genevieve)
Kennedy has been through a mix of names lately. She keeps telling me her name is NOT Kennedy anymore it's Genevieve. Last week she was Rapunzel. She is really into princesses lately and I don't know where it's coming from. We took her to Blockbuster a few weeks ago to rent a movie and Chris wanted to get the latest Disney movie but Kennedy insisted on one of the Barbie Princess movies. That was our first indication that she liked princesses. She also informs us that she is not a girl but a princess. Of course, we have always thought that!
Sunday we arrived at church a little late. Chris was already there and had saved us a seat but when I walked in with the kids I couldn't see him so I sat in the back. After the sacrament Chris joined us. Kennedy always likes to test her limits. When the meeting was almost over Kennedy started inching her way to the front of the chapel. Next thing we knew she was almost to the front! She had such a mischievous look on her little face. Chris had to walk up and grab her. Luckily she behaves in primary. We always receive accolades about her behavior and participation in primary.
Last night as I was getting Tristan ready for bed Kennedy was in her room reading. After I put Tristan down I stood outside Kennedy's room to listen to her. She was reading out loud from her scripture reader. She knows a lot of the stories by heart and can tell them better than I can. When she saw that I was there she looked up at me and said, "She found it! She found the coin. She lost it, remember?" I looked down at her book and she was looking at the Parable of the Lost Coin. It amazes me how interested she is in Heavenly Father and Jesus. She asks us to "tell a story about Jesus" all the time. What a sweet girl.

Tristan is turning into quite the porker. He consistently eats more than Kennedy. I guess that's to be expected since he is growing much faster than Kennedy. On Saturday we went to the church for a Primary Breakfast. They served French toast, muffins (the great big kind), fruit, sausage and drinks. Kennedy had one piece of toast, a few strawberries and about two bites of a muffin. Tristan ate at least two pieces of toast, a whole muffin, half a banana and the scraps from our plates. He gets so excited when he sees food.
Lately Tristan has been playing this little trick on me. He will crawl over to me so innocently. I will lean down to pick him up or kiss him and then he will grab onto my hair and give it a yank! He thinks it's so funny when I respond to that. He laughs and laughs.
When Tristan was born his hair stood straight up. Kennedy would often reach over and pull it. Now she is getting her just desserts. Tristan loves to touch her hair and he will sometimes pull it. I haven't reminded her that she used to do that to him for fear that she will start pulling his hair again.

What a blessing it is to have these two children in my life. I'm so lucky!

Monday, February 19, 2007

More Recipes

I'm not sure how many people see my recipes and try them but I have most of them typed up anyway and I figure I might as well put them out there. I love finding a good recipe and I find that I have a few sources I can trust, some are cookbooks and magazines and some are people I know. Here are a few that we use a lot. The bar recipe is one that we have used in my family for a long time and there are a few variations on it but I really like this one.

Supreme Beef Casserole
From Recipe Hall of Fame Cookbook
1 pound ground beef
1 16-oz can tomatoes
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 garlic buds, crushed (or garlic salt)
1 5-oz pkg egg noodles
1 3-oz pkg cream cheese
1 8- oz container sour cream
6 green onions, chopped
1 cup grated cheese
Brown and crumble beef in frying pan. Break up tomatoes and add to beef with tomato sauce, salt, sugar and garlic. Simmer 20-25 minutes. Cook noodles and drain. Mix noodles with sour cream, cream cheese and chopped onions (it’s easier to have the cream cheese and sour cream already mixed up before adding the noodles). Grease a 3-quart casserole dish. Put a small amount of meat sauce, layer of noodles, and grated cheese. Repeat and top with meat sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. May be frozen and reheated to serve. Serves 6-8.

Oatmeal Fudge Bars (aka Fudge Jumbles)
1 cup margarine
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 12-oz pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup margarine
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13x2-inch baking pan. Set aside. In a large mixer bowl cream margarine and brown sugar; add eggs and vanilla. In a small bowl sift flour, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture. Mix in oats. In heavy saucepan mix sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips and margarine and heat until just melted. Stir in vanilla and nuts, if desired.
Spread two-thirds of the dough into prepared baking pan. Spread with chocolate mixture. Drop remaining one-third of the dough on top by spoonfuls (I find it easier to kind of flatten the blobs with my palms so they cover more area). Bake for 25 minutes. Cool, then cut into bars.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

My Valentine

I have always disliked Valentine's Day. It's probably because I never had a boyfriend on that particular day and I was jealous of those who did. My best Valentine's Day was when I was engaged to Chris. We had a romantic evening listening to a piano quartet at BYU and then eating chocolate something-or-other. Over the years I have become less and less romantic. I still don't care for the day. This year we didn't exchange any gifts. How boring is that? I did bake some cookies and take them around to the neighbors. I did that for Kennedy's benefit. I want her to learn to be compassionate and loving. She had fun delivering her Valentines. These are the recipes I used. The sugar cookie recipe comes from my Mom. It's the best because the cookies are soft. Oh, and I do love my husband very much. I don't need a holiday for an excuse to tell him I love him.

Sift together:
3 ¼ cups sifted flour
1 tsp. soda
½ tsp. salt
½ cup butter or shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
Beat for 2 minutes. Add ½ cup sour cream. Add flour mixture. Beat 1-½ minutes. Roll out on floured surface to ½ inch thickness. Cut with your favorite cookie cutter. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 8-9 minutes. Do not over-bake. Cool. Spread with your favorite frosting.
My favorite frosting is a tub of Betty Crocker cherry flavored frosting. Add just a tiny bit of powdered sugar to thicken. Yum yum!

½ cup butter, softened (no substitutes)
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. almond extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
Additional sugar
40 milk chocolate kisses with almonds
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 Tbs. milk
4 tsp. raspberry jam
¼ tsp. almond extract
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Beat in egg and extract. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Cover and chill for 1 hour or until easy to handle.
Roll dough into 1" balls, then roll in additional sugar. Place 2" apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 325 for 10 - 12 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately press a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie. Cool on wire racks. Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over cookies.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mexican Beef Pile-Ups

I tried this new recipe today. Probably everyone already has it but I will post it anyway. It's kind of like a Mexican version of Hawaiian Haystacks. It made a lot of meat sauce so I put half in the freezer to use another time.

Mexican Beef Pile-Ups

3 pounds ground beef
3 cups water
1 16-oz can refried beans
1 package enchilada mix
1 14-oz can enchilada sauce
2 6-oz cans tomato paste

Cook ground beef and drain fat. Add rest of ingredients ans simmer for 2-3 hours on top of stove or in oven at 300 degrees. (I put it in a crock pot and cooked for about 5 hours.)

Pile up your meal in this order:
white rice
corn chips
meat mixture
Cheddar cheese, grated
green onions, chopped
olives, sliced
tomatoes, diced
avocados, chopped
lettuce, shredded
sour cream

Mental Photo

Sometimes things happen that are so emotional for me that it makes me want to take a mental photo of my life at that very moment.
Last week one of my sister's neighbors had a terrible tragedy. There was an accident with a gas line and after it was fixed the wife went in the house with the gas worker and the house blew up with the two inside. I don't even know these people but I have cried for them. The wife left her husband of just a few years and an 18-month old daughter, both were standing outside the house when it exploded. The worker left a wife, children and grandchildren.
Today I found out that my niece, Tyffanee, is expecting a baby. I am so thrilled. Tyff is just five years younger than I am and we have been close most of our lives. I feel bad because since I got married we have not been so close but I would love to sit down with her right now and give her a big hug and tell her how much I love being a mom and give her all kinds of advice and tell her stories about my own kids.
Both of these things, one bad, one good, have made me appreciate my life a little more today. I am so happy to be alive, have a husband and two kids, and have security. I know that all this could be taken away in an instant so for right now I'm not going to take it for granted.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Six Unusual Things About Me

I already did a list of 100 things about me but my friend Lucy tagged me so here is a list of six more unusual things about me.
  • I have transparent eyebrows.
  • I eat pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches with a fork.
  • When I am having a hard time sleeping I tell each one of my body parts that it's time to go to sleep. I start at my toes and work my way up, but I usually never get past my knees.
  • I have a skin tag on my left eyelid.
  • I can't do push-ups, even from the knee.
  • I don't think this is unusual but my husband does--When I put anything on toast or bread, i.e. peanut butter, jam, butter, it has to cover the whole piece of bread. Otherwise, what's the point of putting anything on your bread?
Tag--you're it Alison!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Why Do Men Leave the Toilet Seat Up???

It's kind of like that feeling you get when you grab the milk in the fridge, expecting it to be heavy, but it's almost empty and you realize that too late as the jug hits the top of the refrigerator.
I don't know how many times this has happened to me but I know it's happened at least once because I can remember exactly how it felt. It was the middle of the night, dark and quiet. Quietly I felt my way into the bathroom, sleep in my eyes. Just a quick trip and I'll be back in bed. But no, I'm falling too far! There is nothing to stop me from falling. SPLASH! Ahhhh! Cold and wet and ooh! I'm IN the toilet!
If this has ever happened to you, you know what I'm talking about. So I pose the question: Why do men leave the toilet seat up? Since my early years I have been very particular about the toilet seat being down. In college I called my roommate's boyfriend back to the bathroom multiple times to put the seat down. When I married Chris we compromised by putting the seat and the lid down. That has worked great for us!
The other day my realtor sent a really nice, good-looking, clean-cut guy over to draw a floor plan of my house. As he headed upstairs he asked if he could use my bathroom. Sure, no problem.
Later that day I went into our hall bathroom where Tristan was playing with his Elmo table. He had been in multiple times that day to play with his toy. When I went in there, the toilet seat was up and I was really grossed out at the thought that my child could have gone over and played in the toilet water! Not to mention that kids have drowned in the toilet!
I was surprised that someone would come in my house, use the toilet, and not even put the seat down. I personally think it's good manners to put both the seat and the lid down. Am I alone on this issue?

Friday, February 9, 2007

I'd Rather Be Quilting

In this part of North Carolina people are not divided by religion, race or sex as much as they are divided by the color blue. There are two colors of blue here, Carolina Blue and Duke Blue. It's amazing how people automatically congregate according to which blue is preferred. I honestly have felt out of place in some circles just because our household is Duke Blue!
My quilting group typically meets on Wednesday nights. This group of girls I meet with are hard-core quilters. There is not much that keeps us from gathering on Wednesday nights--call it therapy. We take turns hosting and providing the treat. We usually end up sewing, chatting, eating, etc. until about 11:30 p.m.
This week was my turn to host. Usually I have a recipe in mind of something new I want to try but since I have been so busy keeping my house looking clean for showing I went with an old standby, Chicago Chocolate Cinnamon Cake (recipe follows). I like it served when it's still kind of warm with a scoop of ice cream.
Anyway, 8:00 p.m. came and no knocks at the door. I wasn't worried. Most people have at least 2 or 3 kids to put to bed so it's usually 8:30 by the time most people can leave home. At last 9:00 came, time for the "Big Game" to start--yes, Duke vs. University of North Carolina and still no quilting friends. Chris served himself a big piece of cake and I started thinking my friends had abandoned me. Sure enough, they were all home watching the game. I can't believe it! I would much rather be quilting that watching a basketball game.
As a side note, I finished a queen-size quilt for my brother-in-law who is getting married in March. It feels good to be productive! (Not to mention I have been working on this quilt since August--that's a long time.)
It looks like we'll be eating chocolate cake for a week. . .

Chicago Chocolate Cinnamon Cake
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup water
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup cocoa
6 Tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup chopped pecans, optional

Mix flour and sugar in large bowl. Bring 1 cup butter, 1/4 cup cocoa and water to a boil in saucepan. Pour over flour mixture and mix well. Add buttermilk, soda, cinnamon, one teaspoon vanilla, eggs and salt and mix well. Pour into greased and floured 9"x13" pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes at 350 degrees, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Bring 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup cocoa, milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla to a boil in saucepan; remove from heat. Add powdered sugar gradually, mixing until of spreading consistency. Stir in pecans, if desired. Pour over warm cake.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Dream Dinners

Yesterday I went to a "Dream Dinners" Sneak Peek. My friend, Monica, was the host of the party. It was really cool.
The company was started by two moms in Seattle, I think. The idea is that you pay for so many meals and then assemble them all at once. The meals are then taken home and stored in the freezer until needed. The meals can be made in 3 or 6 portions. They have the same menu for a month and it changes every month.
So last night at the Sneak Peek we assembled Hawaiian Chicken and Coconut Chicken. It took me about 10 minutes to assemble both meals. The ingredients are all at one station ready to go. Each ingredient had an appropriate measuring tool so it was a no-brainer. Each station has a card with the recipe to follow for whichever size you are making, 3 or 6. The meals we made last night are stored in freezer Ziploc bags. After the meal is assembled, an instruction label is provided to stick on the bag. Very easy.
I could see myself, someday, using this service. The price is about $3/serving, depending on the items chosen from the menu. We had the Coconut Chicken and rice tonight and it was very good. All I added was a salad. I could get used to this!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

You Are Special

We love the children's book "You Are Special". It's about a community of wooden people called Wemmicks. The Wemmicks give out stickers all day long. The Wemmicks who are smart or brave or talented usually receive gold star stickers. If a Wemmick did something the other Wemmicks did not like he/she would receive a gray dot sticker.
A Wemmick named Punchinello who had many gray dots met another Wemmick that did not have any stickers at all. He asked her how that was and she said that she goes to see the wooden doll maker, Eli, every day.
In the end Punchinello goes to see Eli and learns that Eli loves him and cares for him because he is special to him. Eli tells Punchinello that it only matters what he thinks and Punchinello should not care what the other Wemmicks think.
We went through a period with Kennedy of reading this story every day. She has not requested it in some time so we were surprised the other day when she made reference to it.
Chris and I were both busy picking up and cleaning to get the house ready for market. It was close to bedtime but we let Kennedy stay up a little later to watch a movie so we could get some work done. Her movie wasn't quite over when Chris turned it off and announced that it was bedtime. Kennedy was not happy with that. She scowled and pouted and finally hit Chris on the leg. As she ran off Chris told her to come back. "What did you just do to Daddy that was wrong?"
Kennedy: "I put dots on you!"