Tuesday, August 7, 2012


We moved last week.
The house is full of boxes and furniture in various states of being put away. Still, it's a nice change for us- a new place to start a new phase of our lives. I'm not talking about children, I'm talking about my husband going to college.
He lost his job this spring. Messy business. Got a new job, but making significantly less. So it was time to tighten our belts and redetermine our priorities. What could we sacrifice? What do we need to survive? and then, what do we need to thrive? Surviving and Thriving are two different things.
To survive, you need the basics of shelter, food, clothing, sleep, and water. To thrive, you additionally need a place that is emotionally comfortable. You also need a way up and out, and the means to get there.

By the government's standards, we are in poverty. By our standards, we are rich. We have family close enough to visit regularly, good friends near and far, several months worth of extra food in the cupboards, savings in the bank, a beautiful apartment that fits our needs. And, just to keep us humble, we have a fair share of little trials- like the spiders or a funky smell in the laundry closet. Little trials that are easily solved with a few hours labor or a can of bug spray. And we have the opportunity to send my husband to school in the hours after work. It will be lonely for a while, but as President Hinckley said, “You are making a sacrifice, but it is not a sacrifice because you will get more than you give up, you will gain more than you give, and it will prove to be an investment with tremendous returns. It will prove to be a blessing instead of a sacrifice” (“Excerpts from Recent Addresses of President Gordon B. Hinckley,” Ensign, Sept. 1997, 72). And that is why my husband and I plan for the future- sacrificing what we want today for the things we desire most tomorrow.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Feed me, Seymour!

My son loves food.
He's a lot like his dad that way. He's always been very good at breastfeeding, and he likes to get a variety of flavors. And so begins the epic of learning to feed the baby solid foods.

At the end of March, my husband took me out to eat at RollUp Crepes. Very tasty. Because my son wasn't quite sitting yet, but loves to be included at family meals, I put him on my lap, pinned him with the table, and ate over his head. His nose started sniffing, his tongue started licking, and his drool started dripping. So my husband gave him a taste of pesto sauce. Baby goes crazy with this flavor explosion! He seeks out new flavors and bold new combinations- barbeque sauce, cranberry sauce, salad dressing... and to my delight and surprise, shows no signs of food allergies. So I propped him in his chair and fed him bananas and whipped cream last week ...

 He's not very messy. He likes the food to go in his belly, not on his face. He reminds me of his uncle...

So now that he's sitting up on his own, the feeding will begin.

And these pictures were just too cute to pass up.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


I love books, so here are a few that I'd like to remember for later.

The Thieves of Ostia: Roman Mysteries #1
I've been reading this children's series about 4 children in ancient Rome. The series has surprisingly depth of character and illustrates Roman times very well.

The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian
Reminiscent of The Whipping Boy, this rollicking adventure would be a great read aloud for all ages. Suspenseful and funny.

The Princess and the Unicorn by
In modern times, fairies still live in the woods, each guarded by a unicorn. When the unicorn leaves the forest, it begins to die. The princess finds the unicorn and takes it away, and a young fairy must rescue the unicorn and her beloved forest. Cute.

The Silver Bowl by
The royal family is cursed, and only the little girl who polishes the silver knows why. Can she conquer the curses before the royal family is dead?

Dragon's Milk, Sign of the Dove, Flight of the Dragon Kyn, Ancient Strange and Lovely by
4 tales chronicling the demise of the dragons from this world. One is set in a post apocalyptic future, where they discover that dragons are the key to restoring the earth.

Yesterday's Doll (or The Doll) by Cora Taylor
I read this book when I was very young. A young girl is sick and must recover at her grandmother's house. Her grandmother gives her a special doll. Every time she falls asleep, she is whisked back in time to a pioneer era. Will her actions change the past?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuna Casserole (non-dairy)

So anyways, I had a baby and life is never the same afterwards. I am just now beginning to understand what my mother did for me. Well, my baby actually let me cook dinner today. He doesn't do that very often. Admittedly, I had to show him each step after I finished it and take several breaks to attend to his needs- but I cooked dinner today. Let me say that again: I cooked dinner, with a baby and nobody else to help, and got it in the oven before 6. It's been a good day.

Tuna Casserole (non-dairy)
*Most of the amounts are approximate, I didn't measure anything.
Can opener
Knife and cutting board
Boiling pot of water (for noodles)
Casserole dish (9X13)  
Little bit of butter 
1 cup celery (chopped, I like to use the leafy part) 
1/2 green pepper (chopped) 
2 green onions (chopped) 
1 small can of mushrooms (chopped) 
1/2 cup coconut milk 
1/4-1/2 cup water 
1 tsp pepper 
1 tsp garlic salt 
1 tsp hot sauce 
 2 cans of tuna fish 
1/3 cup mayonnaise 
1/2 cup Corn flakes or other crunchy topping
Melt the butter in a saucepan and sweat (cook on medium-low heat) the vegetables and mushrooms. When the veggies are bright green and a little bit wilted, add the coconut milk and just enough water to thin it to a soupy consistency (coconut milk is thick stuff). Add the spices and hot sauce. Let it simmer while you cook some noodles. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees. When the noodles are done, drain them. Open up two cans of tuna fish and stir into the sauce. Take the sauce OFF the heat and add 1/3 cup of mayonnaise mixing well. Then coat the noodles in the sauce (I just did it in the casserole dish) making sure all of the noodles are covered in sauce. Put it in the oven for 20-30 minutes. If you want to add cheese to the top (like I did to my husband's side of the casserole) add it 5 minutes before the casserole is done. Since everything is already cooked, you're looking for golden brown/bubbly to tell when it's done.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Plate Tectonic Parfait

My cousin had a science project due next week. It involves creating a model of plate tectonics where the plates all have to interact with each other (not just a model of each type of fault). Unfortunately, she also has the annoying habit of keeping all of her models for several years in the bottom of her closet. It's a bit of a mess to clean up. So I pointed her towards parfait.

That's right, that cookie and jello layered dessert that is better than cake (according to Donkey). It's also easy to clean up after it's been graded. (Just remember to take a picture! You may need a record if your teacher's gradebook splorts the week before end of term.)

How to make Plate Tectonic Parfait
*9x13 glass pan with lid (for safe transport to school)
*Red jello (we used 2 cups for a very thin magma layer. If you want more definition in your mantle, you can use more, or layer it with whipped topping or orange for a fiery look).
*Sugar cookies (we used snickerdoodles because I like the taste better).
*Cinnamon sugar (for the land)
*Blue colored sugar (for the oceans)
*Two colors of frosting (one for marking the edges of the plates, the other for marking the direction of travel)
*Toothpicks and labels
*5 red gummi candies - the smaller, the better.

1) Mix up the red jello for your mantle/magma layer. There is room for up to 6 cups of jello plus the cookies, but we used only 2 cups of strawberry jello for ours. This is a parfait!
2) Plan how you want your world to look. Plan subduction, divergent, and convergent boundaries and where you need your hotspots.
3) Make cookies. We just used a regular snickerdoodle recipe. Wait until the cookies are cool but not set hard and put them on top of the red jello. Cover the whole surface (you may have to break cookies in half to fill in the gaps.
4) To make the hot spots:
Volcanoes: Take a red gummi and wrap it in cookie dough. Then bake those cookies inside a small mold (to keep them from spreading). The gummi will melt and look like lava. While the cookie is still warm, mold it to the shape you desire.
Make an extra large cookie and bake it for the plate. Punch out holes for any hotspots and press the cookie down to squeeze jello to the surface. Put a volcano on the top.
5) Make the land cookies. Roll these in cinnamon sugar (you want it heavy on the cinnamon) or green colored sugar before you bake. Put the land cookies over the first layer of cookies. To make folded mountains, squish the cookie against the side of the pan while it is still hot and let it cool all squished up.
6) Decorate. We started with the frosting, but it's actually easier to start with the colored sugars. Fill in the ocean with blue colored sugar. Draw your plate boundaries with frosting. Then draw arrows to show the direction of movement.
7) Label. Use labels and toothpicks to create little flags.

We learned some things along the way.
* Let your jello set up most of the way before you put the cookies in the oven. We had to speed set our jello to the gooey stage by putting it in the freezer.
* Cookies do not behave the way you want them to. It never fails. So plan on making more cookies than you need and eating the rest.

You could try adding fruits, nuts, or whipped topping layers. All I know is that it's one sweet science model.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sweet and Sour Chicken Soup

Recently, I bought myself a meat thermometer. I've never been very good at knowing when meat is done, and this little tool has helped me a lot.
Sweet and Sour Chicken Soup
1 large frying pan with a lid
stirring spatula
cutting board and serrated knife
can opener
2 chicken breasts (1 lb. of meat)
4 Tbsp. butter
1 pound frozen stir fry mix (or leftover noodles/rice and regular frozen veggies)
1 can pineapple chunks
1/4 cup lemon juice
2-4 Tbsp soy sauce
pinch of garlic salt
1. Melt the butter in the frying pan on medium high heat. Add the chicken breasts and brown them on one side. Flip them over and add the pineapple juice from the can of pineapple and the rosemary and garlic salt. Turn down the heat to medium low and cook for 5-6 minutes. I used my new meat thermometer to see when they were done.
2. Remove the cooked chicken from the pan. Add 2 Tbsp. flour or a cornstarch slurry to thicken the pineapple juice to a sauce. Add the lemon juice and soy sauce. If you want a runny soup, add some water. If not, you'll have a very thick soup or a meal with a runny sauce.
3. When the sauce is made, add the frozen veggies and pineapple and mix to cover with the sauce. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the veggies are no longer covered in ice.
4. While the veggies cook, slice the chicken. Add it back into the pan with the noodles (if you used leftovers). Mix the sauce around all the chunks, and add water if it is too thick. Once the chicken is hot again, it's ready to serve.

It also tastes better the next day because the sweet and sour flavors have spread through the whole dish.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Recipe: Desserts

It has been a couple of crazy weeks- but the deadline has passed and life is calming down beautifully.

We had a family BBQ last weekend, and we were assigned to bring a dessert and help my dad bring all my siblings (my mom and sister were out of town). Since my youngest sister can't have wheat, I choose to do the family classic: Monster cookies!

The name comes from the original recipe, which made a huge amount of cookies. 12 cups of oatmeal makes a lot of cookies. I don't know how old the recipe is, but my mom's side of the family has had these at every family reunion I remember, including the ones with distant cousins. So I cut down the recipe and tweaked it to fit the random bits of sugar I had in the house.

Monster Kisses
1 mixing bowl
1 stirring spoon (you can use a mixer if you'd like)
measuring cups and spoons
cookie sheet (sprayed or very lightly greased)
cookie disher (those awesome spring loaded scoops!)

1/4 c. butter (that's half a stick), melted
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. peanut butter (don't skimp, it's better to have too much than not enough)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 & 1/4 tsp. baking soda
3 to 3 & 1/2 cups oatmeal (quick cooking or rolled)
About 24 Hershey's kisses and/or a smaller bag of M&Ms

1. Mix the melted butter, and brown sugar together until it becomes crumbly. Then add the peanut butter and mix well.
2. Add the eggs, vanilla, and baking soda. Beat the mixture until it becomes smooth and looks like just a lot of peanut butter. This is the glue of the cookie, and you don't want it to be grainy or not well mixed.
3. Add the oatmeal and mix it in until all of the little flakes of oatmeal are covered in the peanut buttery batter. If you put too much oatmeal in, you end up with peanut butter granola, not cookies.
4. Scoop the cookies onto the cookie sheet. Unwrap your Hershey's kisses and put one in the middle of each cookie. You'll probably need to help the dough form around the cookie, so make sure your hands are clean. If you don't have Kisses, shape each ball of cookie dough into a nest and put 3-6 M&Ms inside.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes and let them finish baking on the cookie sheet. They're supposed to look gooey and bubbly. Let them cool on the cookie sheet or they'll fall apart.
If the cookies are golden brown when you pull them out of the oven, they'll be burnt by the time you can get them off the cookie sheet without falling apart. When the cookie sheet is cooled completely, pull the cookies off and put in an airtight container.
They'll keep for up to a week. My family takes them backpacking and camping.

This weekend was my anniversary, so I made my husband some baby cobblers. Cobbler is my husband's favorite dessert.
Baby Strawberry Cobbler
1 cup chopped strawberries (we just used the fresh ones in the fridge)
1/4 cup or so of sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. oatmeal
1 tsp. spreadable butter

In one bowl mix the chopped strawberries with the sugar and lemon juice. Let it sit while you mix the graham cracker topping in a small ziploc bag.
Spray two little ramekins (the 7 oz. ones).
Sprinkle just enough graham cracker topping to cover the bottom of the ramekin. Add half of the strawberry mixture to each ramekin. Sprinkle the rest of the topping over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 3-5 minutes (just long enough to cook the oatmeal). Cool in the fridge.
Serve with whipped topping!