Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The sweetest gift...

During Primary on Sunday, the sharing time lesson was about Jesus, and what gifts we could give him.  The kids each wrote down their idea for a gift, which was service that they could do for someone else, and put the paper into a stocking with Jesus' name on it to remind them to perform that service.

One of the teachers helped Monkey with his paper, and I heard him say that he would make his bed every day because that would make his mom happy.  Wasn't that nice to think about me!

Fast forward to this Monday morning.  I took some clean laundry upstairs to put away, and in the midst of the rest of the chaos in the boys' room was a perfectly made bed.  You could practically bounce a quarter off of it.  It was that good.  Well, I couldn't let that bed go to waste, so I did a quick clean-up on the rest of the room so that it lived up to the beautifully made bed.

When I picked the boys up from school I asked Monkey about his bed.  I told him it looked great, and he said, "That's my gift to Jesus, Mom, remember?"  So sweet!  I thought about the video that I posted on Saturday.  If we all just do something, anything, for someone one else, we have also done it for Him.  Mario is working the real meaning of Christmas.

P.S.  I got a picture of the kids.  It's not the greatest, but it will have to do for the card since I've ordered them from Purple Trail and they should be on their way in a few days.  Now to get the addresses done!  Where did I put that darn pen?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dark Chocolate, Pistachios, and Sweet Candied Ginger...these are a few of my favorite things!

So I thought, why not put dark chocolate, pistachios and candied ginger together in cookie form. I basically morphed a regular chocolate chip cookie recipe into a dark chocolate chip cookie recipe, and added finely diced candied ginger, which adds a zippy spiciness, and chopped roasted pistachios for a salty crunch.  These actually got a great review from my panel of tasters.  Monkey even thought they were awesome.  I told him, "But, there are nuts in them!  I thought you don't like cookies with nuts." To which he answered, "I like this kind, though!"

I started with 1 cup each of DARK brown sugar (to add to the dark color of the cookies) and regular sugar and creamed them with a couple of sticks (+1/2 a stick) of butter.  Then I added 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

Since I don't own a sifter, and I don't plan on purchasing one in the near future, or maybe ever, I just measure my dry ingredients into a bowl and fluff it around with a whisk.  In this case, I fluffed up 2 1/4 cups of flour, 1 1/4 cups of unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch Process), 2 teaspoons of baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon of salt (less than usual since the pistachios were salted).

Mix that all until combined, then add a cup at a time to the creamed mixture.

Coarsely chop the pistachios...

...and gently dice the ginger...

...and add them both to the mixture in the mixer. 
(Try saying that 5 times fast! Mixture in the mixer.  Mixture in the mixer...)

Next comes the most important part.

Very carefully pour in the dark chocolate chips.  Try not to drop too many of them into your mouth.


And from another angle...

Just ignore the eggs in the background, please.

Darker Chocolate Chip Cookies
with Pistachios and Candied Ginger

1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups butter (2 1/2 sticks)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 cups unsweetened Dutch Process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely diced candied ginger
1/2 cup to 1 cup coarsely chopped pistachios
12 ounces dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  

In a medium bolw mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars until fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.  Add the flour mixture a cup at a time until just combined.  Mix in the ginger, pistachios, and dark chocolate chips just until incorporated into the dough.

Form balls or use a scoop and bake on cookie sheet until slightly puffed and cracked, about 9 minutes.  Do not overbake.

Here's a peek at our tree.  It's striped with white and red lights, and has many years' worth of a hodge podge of ornaments.  The two little boys did the majority of the decorating, and I think it's adorable.

Friday, December 10, 2010

And then there was Biscotti. The End.

I've always loved Biscotti, which is an Italian cookie.  I have a confession to make; I used to buy the packaged "Nonni's Biscotti" because I thought these would be too hard to make.  Then I married into an Italian family.  And the matriarch of that Italian family is the most excellent cook.  She baked these biscotti by the dozens, and even though I've come close to the flavor and texture of her biscotti, they haven't quite gotten there.

If you are impatient and just want the recipe already, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

Start out by mixing the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment on the mixer, then adding the eggs one at a time, mixing well between. 

 Add the flavorings; almond OR anise, and vanilla.

Measure the flour into a separate bowl.  Add the baking powder and stir with a whisk, then add a cup at a time into the mixer and incorporate into the butter/sugar/eggs. Add the walnuts.  I toasted them for a few minutes on a cookie sheet, then let them cool before adding to the dough.

Divide the dough by 1/2.  I divided by four because I doubled the recipe, which I have a tendency to do just about every time I make cookies.

Form those halves into long logs, and flatten them slightly onto the cookie sheet.  Make them fairly thin, since you can see that they puff up quite a bit.  Now do the first baking.  This will bake into a firm loaf, but make sure you don't over bake it, since they will still be toasted in the oven.

Putting them on parchment paper allows me to slide the baked loaves from the pan to the counter or cutting board to slice them.

Let them cool just a few minutes, until they are cool enough to handle,
and then slice with a serrated knife slightly on the diagonal. 

Lay the cookies on the side.  They will be really crammed in.  Sometimes I can't fit them all back on the sheet, so I have to eat all of the ends.  It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

Toast for the second time, then try not to eat them all yourself. 
Since these are toasted, they have a long shelf-life - just store tightly covered -  and they  freeze well, too.

The beauty of the biscotti is that it is the perfect dunking cookie.  It is traditionally dipped into a glass of wine, or coffee, but I just ate one dunked into a cup of Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride Celestial Seasonings Tea, and it was divine.  Also divine with hot cocoa, Pero, or a plain glass of milk.  Or on its own, too.

Nonni Anne's Biscotti
1 stick butter (the real stuff)
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon anise or almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time; beat well after each one.  Add vanilla and anise or almond flavoring.  Sift flour and baking powder and add to above mixture.  Mix in nuts with wooden spoon.  Separate dough into two parts on floured parchment paper or surface.  Flatten into bars the length of the cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1/2 hour.  Remove and cut on a diagonal.  Place back into the oven for 15 minutes to toast. 

For more cookie recipes, go here: 


Thursday, December 9, 2010

All That Jazz...

This is Jazz. 
She has a funny, crooked cowlick on her running down her nose.  She also has batwing ears.

We adopted her from the shelter a month ago.  Did you know that adopting a dog from the animal shelter is almost as difficult a process as adopting an actual human child?  True Story.

Jazz likes to steal seats.  She also likes to dig holes, run for the door whenever it opens, and lay her head on your lap or a pillow, whichever is most convenient.  Most convenient for her, that is.

She answers to the name Jazz, which is on her adoption papers, and would probably take an act of Congress to change.  She's also known as several aliases.  "Jazzercise", when she's feeling a little bit 80's retro, "Jazz-manian Devil", when she's a little bit rambunctious, and "Jazzers" when you're sitting with her head on your lap and playing with her batwing ears.


She and I share a common bond.  We both have the ability to plop right down and fall asleep.  Anywhere.  And snore loudly. 

'Night, Jazzers.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cookies. Need I say more...

Don't let the mundane, everyday look of these cookies fool you.  They're the perfect, homey, oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.  True story.  Hallelujah.

Once these are given a chance, the taster realizes the awesomeness that they are.

I've been using this same recipe since I was a teenager and made cookies every Sunday afternoon.  Then I left the mess in the kitchen.  And my mom would tell me to clean the kitchen.  20 times.  Then I would be doing the dishes at 10 o'clock at night because I thought I could outlast my mom and that maybe she would forget that I was supposed to do the dishes and I would be off the hook.  Now I do the same thing to my kids.  I've turned into my mother.

Family Favorite Oatmeal Cookies (adapted from a Quaker Oatmeal recipe)

2 cups shortening
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
6 cups quick or rolled (old fashioned) oats
2 cups walnuts
3 cups chocolate chips (I like mine extra chocolatey)

Cream shortening, white sugar and brown sugar until slightly fluffy.  Blend in eggs, one at a time,  and vanilla.  Mix in flour, salt, and baking soda.  Stir in oatmeal, walnuts and chocolate chips.  Roll into small balls (or use a cookie scoop) and place on cookie sheet.  Flatten with a fork if you think you need to.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, but do not over bake.  Take out of oven when they look slightly underdone and let them sit on cookie sheet for 1 or 2 minutes to set up.

To quote the cookie monster, "C is for Cookie, that's good enough for me."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas pictures of the kids...

...failed attempt numero uno.

Three out of four with eyes closed.  Come on, boys, get it together!

Two oldest, not bad. Joe is trying so hard NOT to blink that he does the opposite, and Monkey is sporting some breakfast on his shirt.  Sigh.

Oh, boy.  We'll try again this afternoon.  Maybe.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Winding up for Christmas...

Well, here we go.  The FIRST day of December!  I know I say this all the time, but I really don't know where November went.  Or January, for that matter.  The year has flown by! And saying "2011" doesn't sound OK.  Not OK at all.

As I'm sitting here in the early-morning quiet, the calm before the storm of everyone waking up, I can't help but think about all that needs to be done and feel a bit anxious about it all.  I guess we'll just take it a day at a time, but still plan ahead.  We like to keep Christmas simple, and that will include visiting the Creche exhibit on Friday and picking out a Christmas tree on Saturday. 

I really pared down the Christmas decorations when we moved, so I'll have to go through them to determine what our tree will need in order to look halfway decent.  We also must put lights on the outside of the house, we have the perfect front porch for it!  So the bulk of our decorating will come from lights, and the kids and I will be making some decorations for the tree to keep the cost at a minimum.

We still haven't taken a picture for the Christmas card, so I'm hoping to get that done in the next few days, get them ordered and print labels to mail them out.  I have been VERY lax about this in the past few years, so I'm hoping to get back in the swing of things and send them out every year again.

I hope you all have a Wonderful December, a Merry Christmas, and a Prosperous New Year!  I'm so appreciative that you take time out of your busy day to visit our little corner of the blogosphere! 

I'll leave you with my new favorite quote from Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
 "God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame."

And to the person who knocked on our door last night and left a huge, gorgeous bag of mandarins, I apologize for being asleep on the couch, cuddled up with my two little boys and a snoring dog, while pretending to be watching a movie.  When I woke up from my little snooze, they informed me that someone had been knocking on the door.  Thanks for the heads up, boys.

Monday, November 29, 2010

What are YOU Thankful for?

I know this is a late Thanksgiving post, but it is never too late to be thankful. I am thankful for a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend which included, but wasn't limited to:

  1. Tons of turkey.  Luckily we had some leftover to make Joe's leftover casserole on Friday; I thought that I might have to go buy a roasted chicken from the grocery store to stand in for the leftovers!  We also had some yummy ham and luscious crab.  It was delightful!
  2. Nice, mellow time at my mother-in-law's home with the rest of that side of the family.  We missed those who couldn't be there!  And those we couldn't travel to go to be with.
  3. Monkey's lovely centerpiece that added festive color to the dinner table.
  4. Watching slides of Andy and his family when they were younger.  So much fun, and some laughs, too.
  5. Black Friday shopping with friends...starting at 11p.m. Thursday night and ending at 10a.m. Friday morning.
  6. Making Belgian waffles this morning with my new Black Friday waffle maker!
  7. Seeing the next to the last Harry Potter film with the two oldest kids, and eating sunflower seeds through the whole thing to keep myself awake at the 9:15 show after staying up the night before and only napping during the day.
  8. Monkey asking if they were going to get a "Lumpin Coal" from Santa for Christmas
  9. Bri, Natty, Andy and I speaking in Church on Sunday...So happy that's over!
  10. Hoping my Grandma is smiling down on us from Heaven this Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Humble Pear Crumble Pie

If you hadn't realized it yet, Thanksgiving is next week.  Next week.  NEXT WEEK!!!  I KNOW!!!  And you're welcome for the reminder.  Because in my world, Thanksgiving feels like it should be two months away still.  That being said, I'm gearing up for Thanksgiving dinner at Nonni's house.  We'll be celebrating there, and it will be a collaborative effort, with the turkey, potatoes, some pies and a jell-o cranberry sauce as my OUR responsibilities.  I'm putting the kids to work!

The rest of the menu includes ham, green bean casserole, yams and apples, salad and bread.

Heaven on a plate.

I've been the turkey roaster for the the past few years, including The Thanksgiving that almost wasn't, and I really enjoy it. 

I also really enjoy pie.  Any kind of pie.  And it's not because I love the crust, because I'm more than willing to give the crust up to Andy.  I think it's because Pie equals Love.  Homemade, comforting, gather round the hearth love.

This is one of our favorite pies.  It is similar to a Dutch Apple Pie, but mad with pears.  Any variety will work, but I used some locally grown Bartletts for this pie.  The pears take on an almost buttery flavor and texture.  Of course, that might also be from the stick of bUtter in the crumble topping.

Pear Crumble Pie

Use your favorite pie crust recipe.  I used Sylvia's Perfect Pie Crust recipe from Pioneer Woman, and it got rave reviews from the pie testers.
I am obviously not a pie crust perfectionist.  I don't have the patience to expertly flute the edges, and I usually have to do some patching after lifting the crust in, but the pie tasters care not about the aesthetic appeal of the crust as they're wolfing it down.


3 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
dash of salt
1 teaspoon of shredded lemon peel
3 Tablespoons lemon juice (basically the juice from one large lemon)
6 to 8 pears, peeled and cored, then thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt, lemon peel and juice.  Toss with the pears and arrange in pie shell.

I do not spend my time arranging.  The pears are dumped in and shoved to fit.
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)(I cube it up while it's cold and let it sit in the bowl til it is room temperature.)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I grate from a whole nutmeg and it's delish!)
1 cup flour

Combine the topping ingredients until it's crumbly.  Sprinkle over the pie filling.  Make sure you don't pat it down, it will make a crust and not a crumble.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes at 425.  Wrap the crust edges in foil for the first 1/2 hour then remove and cover just the crumble for the last fifteen minutes to prevent overbrowning.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I'm hopping to some blogs...

One thing about this little ol' internet:  There are tons of blogs to read!  It's like reality TV, but without having to eat bugs or vote people off.  Not that I'm opposed to either of those, just in the proper context.

In looking for some quality blogs, I've decided to join in on a blog hop hosted by Nicole at One Little Mister.  Her blog is family friendly and lots of fun.  It's easy to tell that she takes pride and spends some time on it!

So I'll be off doing some visiting.  You can tag along if you want!

Avocados...A contest entry

The Aztecs believed that avocados were a strong aphrodisiac.  I'm not so sure about that, but the avocado is one of nature's most nutrient dense foods.  I've been known to justify my over-consumption of guacamole by mumbling, "It's the good fat!" around a chip smothered in a glob of green goodness.

We love to eat avocados in any form.  I'd probably even try avocado ice cream.  We slice them onto sandwiches, dice them into salads and  mash them into dips.  They're delicious as a topping on ceviche or tossed into Cowboy Caviar (that's another recipe I'll have to post here!). 

All over bloggy-world I have notice the avocado contestMichelle at Scribbit has jumped in and is hosting a contest on her blog. 

Here is my recipe entry, a salad  made with avocado, shrimp, and citrus.  So refreshing!

Avocado in the Sea Salad

2 avocados, peeled and diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 bunch green onions, sliced, including the tops
1 lb. fresh or frozen already cooked shrimp (If it's frozen, let it thaw in refrigerator first. If they are a larger size, rough chop the shrimp before adding them.)
1 lemon, juiced
1 small bunch of cilantro, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together the avocados, tomatoes, green onions and shrimp.  Add lemon juice, cilantro, salt and pepper. 

That's it!  This tastes best if you make it several hours ahead of time.  Can be eaten as a salad, as a salsa, or to top a tostada.  You can even use the recipe as a base and add your favorite ingredients.  Sometimes I'll use red onion, or add diced cucumber, or diced red pepper or fire roasted chilies, or some jalapeno to spice it up.  Yum!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Soliloquy (when I'm really just rambling on to myself and trying to make sense of it all)...

Last night was Stake Conference, just for the adults, and of course babes in arms are welcome, too.

Love being a part of a group of people who are trying their best to be their best.

Our Area Authority, Elder Scott D. Whiting was here from Hawaii.  He said "Aloha!" when he got up to speak.  Love that!

He spoke about keeping the family strong, and doing that by having a) family scripture study  b)family prayer  c)family home evening.  Radical ideas!

He also said that our main objective, what this all boils down to, is to have the Spirit in our home.

Now, I've been thinking.  How can I do this?  I suffer from a debilitating need to set the bar too high.  I have great expectations, and when those aren't met, I crash miserably.  I expect my children to participate in the above three activities, and when they cause problems, I get really irritated and, quite possibly, I will sometimes even overreact!  (I know, it's hard to believe.  I also know that my mom is laughing when she reads this.)

But then, do I just aim low and be grateful for whatever amount of participation I get out of them?

Is there a happy median?

It is also hard to feel the Spirit when I feel stressed so much of the time.  And again, I admit that some of that stress is self-induced -- if I were more organized, some of it would disappear -- but some of the stress comes from the day-to-day worries about money and kids.  Those are really the two biggest anxiety-producers that I have.  So, if anyone has some advice, I'm open to it.  And I'll just keep praying, and trying to knock some sense into my kids.  Because the older they get, the less they have.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Madsen bike contest...

Madsen Cycles Cargo Bikes

Isn't this the coolest bike EVER!

Of course, she should be wearing a helmet.

I wonder if they make bike helmets for dogs?

I'll be right back, I'm going to google that and I'll let you know what I find out.

And holy helmet, here it is.

I can't stop grinning!

OK, back to what I was REALLY posting about...

Madsen is having a contest, and they're giving away one of these bikes.  LOVE it!

I'll be wishing I had one of these bikes today while we're at the Salmon Festival.  That way I can eat all I want at the salmon bake, and let one of my kids tote me around.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Need I say more?  Not only is it a delicious, almost everybody loves them cookie, but it's also a great nickname for someone you love. 

Come on over here, you little snickerdoodle.  Let me take a little nibble.

As you can see by the spills and splashes, this is well-loved and oft-used recipe.  Don't let that yield: about 5 dozen fool you though, I usually only get 3 dozen out of this.  And I also add a little vanilla, even though it doesn't call for it. 

Because vanilla makes everything better.

Kind of like sour cream.

Hmm. Maybe some vanilla flavored sour cream.

Now that would gross my kids out!

We made these yesterday, and I'll be on a third grade field trip today with a bunch of snickerdoodles. 

I might bring some cookies along, too.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Personalized Holiday Cards

I have to admit that in the past few years I've been TERRIBLE with sending Christmas cards, birthday cards, any holiday cards.  You name it and I haven't sent it.

When I think about personalized cards, it's really easy for me to get way complicated with a design:  handmade, with lots of froo froo and sparkles. Then I get overwhelmed and decide to not even bother with it.

But personalized can actually mean something as easy as:
1. Adding a photo of the kids, cats, dogs, yourself, whatever.
2. A hand-written note to the recipient, even just a few words jotted down in your own actual chicken scratch handwriting.  Shows you care!
3. Have the kids draw a picture or illustration and turn that into a card. You can either use it as it is, or copy and size it onto cardstock  and fold to make a card.  This would work great for ANY holiday.  I've also used my kids own drawings for thank-you notes.  Grandparents especially love these, of course.
4. Instead of a regular folded and sealed in an envelope, send a postcard!  Design it on the computer and print onto sturdy cardstock and trim to a standard postcard size to use the postcard postage.
5. Get the whole family involved!  Have each family member contribute SOMETHING to the card; maybe design an element, create a poem for the inside, choose the font, pick out the perfect photo, and whatever it is that they've contributed, they'll get the satisfaction of knowing that a friend or family member will receive and enjoy that card.

I headed on over to Purple Trail to see what it was all about.  On the top of the website there are three steps to making your own personalized card: 
1. Pick a design   2. Customize your design   3. Order, Print, or E-mail.  It's as easy as 1-2-3. 

Plus, they are offering, For a limited time,

FREE shipping on all Holiday Cards prints! 

Holy cow, I might have to send some cards this year.  I know I've put it in writing here, so I guess I've got to give it the ol' college try.

Visit Purple Trail's website and design your own card.  Give it a whirl.  They make it a cinch!

The Mom Bloggers Club is giving away $100 gift code to Purple Trail for Personalized Holiday Cards.  How cool would that be to win?

Find the contest information right here!


It's no secret that I love chocolate in any form.  I especially adore dark chocolate, and it seems like the more bitter the more I adore it.  When Andy wants to surprise me with a little something, it usually includes a Hershey's Special Dark bar.  Yum.  I have to ration it, and freeze it, so I can break a chunk off and let it melt slowly in my mouth.  Holy cow, my mouth is watering right now!

I know it may come as a shock to some of you, as it has to me, (actually, when I dwell on it my heart beats just a little faster because I am so not ready for it) but Halloween is just around the corner.

That's right, it is 2 weeks and 3 days away.  If you're counting.  Or want to be reminded.

Since we are in a new town, I'm not sure about how much candy we'll be giving out, but I heard rumor that most of the population congregates in one particular neighborhood, which isn't ours, to do their trick-or-treating.

That said, I really should have some candy on hand, just in case.

The Mom Bloggers Club is sponsoring a contest for it's members that includes a Hershey's Halloween Prize Pack, of which I am hoping to win one.  Because I love chocolate.  And nothing says chocolate like Hershey's.

“We've had bad luck with children; they've all grown up” Christopher Morley

My children and nieces and nephews are growing up. They do amazing and wonderful things every day.  They are working at jobs, learning and growing by leaps and bounds, hitting the curve balls that life is constantly throwing them.

Our nephew just headed off to bootcamp in the Army, while his wife and daughter wait it out at home.

My cutie of a niece posted some videos of her singing on youtube.  

And Brian jumped right into football this year. He has never played before, and ended up starting late, but has worked hard and even gotten some playing time.

I can't believe my child is playing football. Seems like he was just in diapers, waking me up at 6:00 in the morning to go out to the backyard to play baseball. Good times. Now I wish he would get up on his own at 6:00 for seminary. Not so good times.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bird shower...

These little birdies skipped the birdbath and took a shower in the sprinklers.
For more wordless wednesday, visit 5 minutes for mom.

What had me cracking up this morning...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Keep your eye on the prize!

The other night Joseph picked out a book to read before bed. He wanted to hear about Jesus walking on the water, so we looked it up in the Bible Treasury for LDS Children and read it. We talked about Faith, and not beings scared if we have faith in Jesus Christ.

While I was listening to LDS Radio, I heard the same scriptures read from Matthew chapter 14: 22

¶ And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. 23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshiped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

How many times have I thought that I have the faith and the confidence to do something, then falter, and have to rely on the hand of the Lord to pull me up and save me from drowning?

Thanks, Joe, for choosing the story that I needed to hear.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sounds like a horror film...

So, I'm filling out Nutella's basketball form, since she wants to try out for the 7th grade team, along with 95% of the 7th grade girls, and here's what it says:

(Sport or Activity) Basketball, by its very nature, poses some inherent risk of a participant being seriously injured.  These injuries could include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. Sprains/strains
2. Fractured bones
3. Cuts/abrasions
4. Unconsciousness
5. Paralysis
6. Disfigurement
7. Head injuries
8. Loss of eyesight
9. Death

Maybe I'll just say no.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Scrap Attack Challenge

I'm using this layout in a challenge for Scrap Attack Scrapbooking.  The "challenge" part is that my page has to be made of at least 75 percent  Crate Paper products.  A bonus entry is earned if you can spell out CRATE with what was on the page.  I used:

C - cardboard, chipboard, cardstock, clip
R - Ribbon, ruler (I had a hard time holding back the rick-rack!  It's that addiction, and all)
A - Apple (Good thing I had that little button!  It's the only A I could come up with)
T - Tag, thread, title, triangles
E - Eyelets, embellishments

For this challenge I used the infamous first-day-of-school picture from this year. {Gotta love those sincere smiles!} It went perfectly with the school themed Crate Paper  paper and chipboard accents that I had.  I'm still loving orange, and paired with aqua blue or green is a great combination! 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Shabby challenge...

This is an old picture, I'm guessing from the 70's (?) of my grandparents on my mom's side.  Grandpa and Guacs sang constantly together and with their kids.  Grandpa played the guitar beautifully, too.  Family legend has it that Grandpa joined the school choir only to have the teacher tell him to mouth the words because he couldn't sing.  Apparently Grandpa took that as a challenge, because he taught himself how and had a rich baritone voice.  One of the songs I particularly remember him singing is Galway Bay, which is a hauntingly beautiful song.  The music on this page is from another Irish song called "Peg o' My Heart"

This sheet music is from a box of music that I got from Guacs.  It was in pretty shabby shape, but I thought it would be perfect to use on a page!

The quote at the bottom says, "Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, and the things you never want to lose"  (Only they spelled lose as loose.  Funny!)  That quote is from "The Wonder Years".

You can see other inspiring pages at Let's Get Shabby.

He really is ruggedly handsome...

I'm looking forward to the new season!  Not great acting, but I love the whole premise of author working with detective and basing his main character on her.  Now where are they going with this storyline?

Also can't wait for this one!

The jury's still out on this one, since I haven't seen all of the episodes.  I liked the beginning of the season.  And Anna the Visitor is just amazingly creepy!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Leftovers...disguised and served up warm.

I know a lot of people who don't do leftovers, but I can't see dumping food that we paid good money for down the drain or in the trash.  90% of the time I eat leftovers for lunch.  Sometimes I pack them in lunchboxes for the kids.  My high-schooler has open campus at lunchtime and comes home to leftovers.  He usually just raids the fridge and heats it up in the microwave.

Since I volunteered to make fried rice for the third graders, I made a huge batch of rice and ended up with a lot of plain white rice.  Sometimes I add milk and some sugar and simmer it on the stove for rice pudding.  Today I added some other leftovers and some canned veggies to make a baked rice casserole.  There's a can each of green chilis, black beans, corn, cream of chicken soup to add some moisture, a cup or two of salsa, and the last of my taco seasoning from the Amish store.  (Sigh) 

It'll go into the oven for about 30 minutes and I'll probably serve it with shredded lettuce, sour cream (cuz everything is better with sour cream), maybe some cheese, more salsa and chips or tortillas to make it a whole meal.

And for dessert, some cupcakes baked in cones.  Just make a regular cake mix and spoon it into cones instead of cupcake wrappers, and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Then they can be frosted or put a little scoop of ice cream on top.

Oh, no!  There was some cake batter left!  Whatever shall I do with it?

Yeah, I'm putting it in a mug and popping it into the microwave for an afternoon chocolate fix.  Not to be confused with my morning chocolate fix.  Can't play favorites, you know.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cute back-to-school stuff to craft

I Love
  1. Etsy
  2. back to school anything
  3. office supplies
  4. fabric
  5. lunch
  6. sending my kids off to school
I've stumbled on some fun back-to-school themed crafts and ideas, so I'll share them here.  That way I have them all in one spot, too.

Etsy has a How-Tuesday blog that features some fun things to make, and this week incorporated lunch bags, ice packs, pencil wraps, book covers, you get the picture.  Cute stuff!  And most of it is pretty easy.

Sew, Mama, Sew has some adorable embroidery patterns from Sarah Jane Studios.  They're so cute!  Could someone please embroider something for me?  Please?

And how could I leave out these adorable banner stickers by Jenni Bowlin?  They're the perfect little ending.

A Post Title I am Proud Of...

I am not very creative when it comes to titling my blog posts, usually just giving a little blurb about what I'm writing about.  Which is exactly what this one is.

Fried Food and Chicken Poop

So, yesterday I made an 8 hour round-trip drive with Andy. Well, 3/4 of the drive was with Andy and the other 1/4 I drove a mini-van back to his place of employment. This drive was made in the afternoon and evening, so the kids arrived home on the bus from their place of education. When they left for said place of eduction that morning, I didn't know that I would be gone when they came back to the home-base, so I didn't have dinner made for them.

Their Auntie Tara (sometimes know as Auntie Booby) came over and made cookies with Nattie, so I called her up to tell her that the kids could cook up some hamburgers and throw some salad on their plate and call it good. She took me up on it, and when Andy and I arrived at home-base the smell of fried food hit us like a brick when we opened up the door.

Andy's way to solve the problem of the smell was to open up the window in our bedroom. Whoa. Fried meat is not pleasant. The chicken barns are not pleasant. Add them together and you have downright biological warfare possibilities. I'm thinking about bottling it and contacting the Pentagon. There are possibilities here, I'm telling you.

The SITS girls are hosting a week long Back to Blogging event, with a washer and dryer set as a prize!

The contest is sponsored by Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, and Florida Builder Appliance.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A post I wish more people had read...

Let's face it, a day doesn't go by that I wish my children would listen to me.  I feel a teensy bit the same way in my blogging world, too.  It's not that I need a pat on the back for what I write, and I don't mean to get on my soapbox, but a little bit of affirmation is always a good thing.

The post that I wish more people had read, that I wish I could have sent to everyone in the ENTIRE USA, is this one.  I wrote it the day after election day in 2008, and I still remember the way my heart felt clenched up like a fist in my chest.  The words went straight from that clenched up heart and onto the computer screen, just as if I had a USB cable connecting the two.

God Bless America

After the election results last night, my little corner of the country was not celebrating. I wasn't doing a victory dance or high-fiving Andy. I sat and watched John McCain give a very touching, dignified and gracious concession speech, calling for the support of his victor. I sat and contemplated what Barack Obama's election to the highest office of our beautiful country means to me and to my family, my community, our state and the United States of America, and I'm worried.

Don't get me wrong, I have hope-

I have hope that everything will be OK, that the economy will turn around, gas prices will stay down, and that we can grow and prosper. I have hope that President-Elect Obama will do what is best for this country, and not bring us to a liberal, large government, "don't you worry, we'll take care of you now" mentality. I have faith that my Father in Heaven is watching out for me and for this choice country, for which our forefathers fought and brought to freedom so many years ago. I am grateful for a democracy in which everyone has a right to let his or her voice and choice be heard, and I hope the right choice was made.

I guess I will wait and see, just like the rest of the world. I will wait to see if Joe Biden's speculation that the rest of the world will test President Obama will be verified.

I will wait to see if he will reach across the party lines and try to work together with those he views as the enemy.

I will wait to see if he continues to include in the circle of his associates William Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, and others on the left fringe of politics. Maybe he will keep his distance from them. Maybe he has learned his lesson. Kind of like the straight-laced kid in school who likes to hang with the dangerous crowd. He got in trouble for it (although most people don't seem to care much who he surrounds himself by) and maybe he'll toe the line from now on.

But, like I said, I am hopeful. I'm hopeful that this will stay the land of the free and the home of the brave. And I hope that my doubts will be unfounded.

The SITS girls are hosting a week long Back to Blogging event, with a washer and dryer set as a prize!

The contest is sponsored by Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, and Florida Builder Appliance.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Stinker!

Nine years old.  Wow.  I know I say this all the time, but I can't believe how fast the time has flown.

Saturday night we were sitting at Nonni's watching a special about the 9/11 attacks on the History channel.  It brought so many memories back.  September 11, 2001 was your due date.  Grammie was flying in that day, and we were just waking up when the telephone rang at 6:00 a.m.  It was your aunt Emily telling us to turn on the TV because there was something wrong in New York City.  I turned on the news, and there it was.  The north tower of the World Trade Center had a gaping hole in it and was burning.  An airplane had hit it.  Was it a freak accident?  A small plane that the pilot had somehow lost control of?

Then, still confused and watching the building on the TV screen, we see the second plane.  It looks like any other commercial airplane, only it is circling around and slams into the other tower. 

It felt so surreal, like we were in a movie, or we were watching a movie.

Then a call from Grammie at the Kansas City airport; she was just boarding her flight to California when they shut down all of the flights.  She wasn't going to be leaving.  She ended up getting the first available flight as soon as planes were able to fly again a few days later.

The next few days were full of watching and waiting, tears for the fallen and the lost, and hunkering down with family, and waiting for you to arrive.

Then in the middle of all of that chaos and sorrow, there you were.  Like a little light shining in the darkness.

Grammie arrived just minutes after you were born.  We weren't going to let those damn terrorists stop us from living life to the fullest.

So that day will forever be tangled up with the day you were born, but you were my lifeline toggling me to the present and the beautiful miracle of life.  Happy birthday.  I love you!

My first post...regurgitated.

The SITS girls are hosting a week long Back to Blogging event, with a washer and dryer set as a prize!

The contest is sponsored by Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, and Florida Builder Appliance.

Since I am such a HorRIBly inconsistent blogger, I'm going to participate in Back to Blogging Day to get myself in the groove.  Goodness knows I don't have any kind of groove, not anything even resembling a groove, but maybe I'll get a little bit of a beat this week.

So, I'll start by regurgitating - uh, I mean revisiting - my very first blog post on April 25, 2007.  Wow, that seems so long ago!  There were no pictures because I didn't know how to load them yet, and I didn't have anything to write about, but I had two comments!  Woo-hoo!  My husband, who critiqued the post, and my friend who called him a stinker for critiquing my post.  It's been a fun, if often sporadic, journey since then.  Here it is, freshly regurgitated just for you:

Birds of a Feather...or the Early Bird gets The Worm!

I woke up before sunrise this morning to the most amazing sound of dozens of birds twittering back and forth to each other. I couldn't believe how loud they were! I'm not sure why they were all out there, but my best guess is they were after all the little wormies that might be above ground after the big storm last night.

We had lots of lovely thunder and lightning, had to even make sure the computers were all unplugged-just in case! My parents have had a couple of lightning issues with their computers in the past.

Emily had her house ready in case of frightened family hunkering down in her basement during the tornado watch until 2a.m. this morning. We didn't end up over there, but it's nice to know we have an alternative spot to the smelly basements of the Presbyterian or Baptist churches in town. Not that I wouldn't be happy to be in those basements in case of actual tornadic action, mind you!

Thought I'd take this early morning time to actually start my blog that I've been threatening to start for a while now. Also thought this could be a good way to keep in touch will those of you far away. Keep checking back! I want to update this often, and maybe I'll have some surprise guest bloggers on once in a while!

***It's me in real time again.  So, maybe I didn't keep the "I want to update this often", but I have had a guest blogger, my daughter "Nutella".  She writes a pretty good post, too.

So buh-bye for now, I'll be write back tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The honeymoon is over...

I'm not talking about MY honeymoon with my honey, but the honeymoon of the first days of school.  You know, when a child is still well-behaved because he doesn't know quite what to expect from his teacher.  When he doesn't want his fellow students to know just how darn mule-headed he really is.  When he still cares what people think of him.  Oh, yes, I'm mourning the loss of the honeymoon period of 1st grade.

Yesterday I received my SECOND call from the school:  I had an uncooperative child.   A child who snuck a mini-maglite in his backpack and began to tap it on his desk.  A child who then wouldn't quit tapping it when his teacher asked him not to. And when his teacher took the flashlight away from him, he then used his fist to pound on his desk instead.  This led to another teacher being asked to come help, and then snowballed into having the principal come get him for a nice and cozy talk.  Thank goodness for her that the office is two doors down from his classroom; it will save a LOT of time this year.  {Last year his class was at the opposite end of the school.  The principal had a hard time and a great workout trying to wrestle him down to the office.}

Today he went to school with a note in tow..."Dear Mrs. G_____,  I'm sorry I was bad."  That's a direct quote.  Short and to the point.  Then he drew himself with a happy face.  I'm assuming that's how he's going to be looking and acting today, but you know what they say about assuming.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Scrapbooking With A Budget In Mind

If you are a regular reader of my not too regularly updated blog, you probably know that I dabble a bit in the art of scrapbooking. Well, I'm now the Scrapbooking Expert at

Read my first article here and tell me what you think: Scrapbooking With A Budget In Mind

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Catching my breath!

We're in our new house, still looking for some furniture, still unpacking and trying to find this and that, and now school has started. Wow. It has been pretty crazy around here, but the dust is starting to settle a little bit.

School started today, and I felt like I was throwing the kids into a den of lions. I SO remember what it was like to be the new kid in school, not knowing ANYbody, not having a history or shared past with a single person on the campus. It's a scary feeling, and they were a little bit anxious. Do they look it? Fez must have been nervous, cuz he NEVER cooperates in pictures, and I have stacks of crazy photos to prove it.

Luckily, they were all sporting their Cons. Sally's weren't her actual Converse (she's got a pink pair) but they were reasonable facsimiles.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


We made it. We’re here. Whew! Now we’re getting settled in at Nonni’s, just to (hopefully!) find a house in the area that we need. Summer break is so much fun, but the kids are just darn worn out from the lack of schedule and being late to bed and early to rise. Mario had a skinned up knee that needed attention from the keeper of the band-aids (that would be me) and I set him on the edge of the bed, bandaged him up, gave him a kiss and headed back to the kitchen to finish making dinner. In all of the commotion, I didn’t realize that he wasn’t back out with everyone else until we were sitting down to dinner 15 minutes later. I walked back to the room and he was literally passed out, flopped back onto my open book that was laying on the bed, and snoring away. We tucked him into the bed, still wearing his swim trunks, and he was konked out for 12 hours. Wish I could do that!

We’ve been visiting with friends and family, and eating tons. Why does any and every get-together involve food?

I’ve seen some really interesting (read:crazy) things since being here.

  1. There are more Prius’s here than I could even begin to count.
  2. While spending a nice evening at Lake Mendocino with friends, the neighboring group, which included children in the group, kept lighting up their “medicinal marijuana” while letting their pit bull, who was sporting a nice studded choker chain, run rampant all over the area.
  3. Strange Missouri-ish weather: clouds, rain, cool weather

I’m sure there are more, but I’m not remembering them at the moment!
Grandpa has an AMAZING patch of lettuce in his garden and we cut a whole garbage bag full. It lasted all week, and I even gave some away to a couple of people. YUM!

The cousins here are all having fun hanging out, but we miss the Missouri cousins a ton.
I talked to Abrahm on the phone last week and he says, “Aunt Annie, you’re not my best friend.” Sounds mean, but he just cracks me up!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

On the road!

We are heading out west, on the road for the third day today. Even while I'm typing this, I've got tears blurring the screen, so please overlook any typo's I'm about to make!

We left the farm in Missouri on Sunday, and it was so much harder than I thought it would be! I knew I wouldn't want to leave everyone, I'll miss all of the family terribly, but it was really sad.

Brian stayed behind to go to scout camp with his friends and maybe keep up the mowing until he leaves. We have Carmen with us, and it has actually been a much quieter trip than our usual road trips since Natalia and Carmen have made themselves a little spot in the backseat and sleep half the day away. I'm not sure how they get to sleep at night!

Joe is a pretty good traveler, just wants to make sure he gets his fair share of gameboy time, and an occasional snack or meal.

Monkey, on the other hand, is a little more high maintenance. If he has to pee, it's gotta be now! If he's hungry, he's starving! If his pinky toe has an itch, we all know about it. We stopped in Nebraska at Wal-mart, of course, and picked up some "garlic" pills for his cough. Luckily he hasn't figured out that garlic is not spelled d-r-a-m-a-m-i-n-e. A half a pill bought us a couple of hours of peace yesterday! I know, it's not great parenting, but it's carrying on a family tradition.
Monkey took a nap the first day, then woke up, stretched as much as he could while strapped into a booster seat, and said,"Can I call Aunt Emily? I want to tell Jack and Ephraim that I'm going to miss them." Breaks my heart!

Our car is pulling our packed-to-the-gills trailer, (Picture Beverly Hillbillies if they had a Suburban) and we're headed through some more mountains into the Salt Lake Valley this morning. We'll make a quick stop at Temple Square for our break, then keep on trucking. Keep us in your prayers, we're gonna need them.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It's a simple life...

So, I've been working as an enumerator for the U.S. Census. A lot of that work has involved driving around the rural roads of the area, and into the Amish communities. I've written before about going to the Amish store once upon a time, and I still frequent a different Amish store because the original one has since shut down. It's the only place I can find Polenta for 50 cents a pound, and herbs and spices for cheap, cheap cheap!

I love seeing the adorable children dressed in the perfect miniatures of their parents' clothing, down to the little black bonnets on the teeny girls' heads. I know! So cute! I also love the Martin houses; little bird houses that are about 15 feet in the air. They're for the Martins, birds that eat the pesky insects that are around. Some are made out of gourds that are hollowed out and painted white, and are just beautiful!

I spoke with an Amish farmer yesterday who also has a sawmill. I wish I would have asked him how he powers his mill, but I didn't think about it until today.

Anyway, they are the only ones who ALWAYS wave to me. Even the guy who was riding horseback down the road gave a big ol' wave. I can't even walk and chew gum at the same time!

Monday, May 17, 2010

My New Life

Stephanie is such an inspiration to me. I've followed her blog and her story since before her accident. Her family took care of her babies while she was in a coma for months. Brother Holland's words at the end of the video are so powerful. And Stephanie has survived the ultimate "trial by fire".

Saturday, April 24, 2010

What will you do now that you've won the lottery? "I'm going to Disney World!"

"And fixing my two front teeth."

Ok, that's not me talking, but Chris Shaw, a Missourian who won $258 million smackers on Wednesday.

Thursday morning I heard that the winning ticket had been sold in Marshall, Mo, at the Breaktime, and I called Andy to half-seriously ask him if he'd bought a ticket there. Only half-seriously, mind you.

Hope this guy manages it OK! Good luck, Chris Shaw!

Friday, April 23, 2010

This is why we don't go out to eat.

We tried to go out for pizza last night.
Fundraiser for the school band.
Apparently they weren't expecting such a huge turnout, because we were turned away at the door.
No pizza for us, so we went for mexican food.
All you can eat chips and salsa.
What's not to love?
When the waitress set down the basket of chips, Joe yelled out:


Oh, yeah, that's why we don't take the kids out in public.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The race.

We're not like normal families. Oh, no. And when it comes to Pinewood Derby time? What does Joe come up with?

Oh, yes, that's a school bus. A big, yellow school bus.

Joe's so cute, and he definitely has his own ideas, so that's what he made. He even won a couple of races, but it wasn't the fastest, by far.

Maybe if their bus driver was driving it. He does have a tendency to speed.
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