Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day!

We celebrated Leap Day by doing some leaping:













Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Power of a Cute Apron

Sweetie attended a birthday party a few weeks ago and came home with this cute little apron as the party favor. Ever since then, she's been putting it on and asking to help in the kitchen. In fact, she is now the official Grater of the Cheese. 
Inspired by Sweetie's apron, I finally finished my own apron. Two years ago for Christmas, I made aprons exactly like this for my 3 sisters, 2 sister-in-laws, and my mom, but I never finished my own (well, I did, but then I gave it to the girl I visit teach), so I finally finished my own. I'm hoping it will be equally powerful. Now everything I make will taste just so much better, having been made under the influence of a cute apron, right? 


Friday, February 24, 2012

Is it Friday yet?

That's what I've been asking all week. About this time of year, I get a little tired of the routine, of piano lessons, sports, scouts, etc. I get tired of our scheduled life and just want a break for a bit to do nothing. Or everything. Or anything we want.

But it's Friday, and things are looking up! On Wednesday, itching to get outside, I borrowed a friend's jogging stroller again and ran with H.  While I enjoyed his "Whee!" when I managed to go particularly fast, I did not enjoy the extra 30+ pounds or the throwing-the-treats-off-the-side-of-the-stroller tendency. I discovered another benefit this morning, though, when I ran without him and felt like I was flying. I turned off the annoying, monotone woman on MapMyRun who tells me how fast I have or haven't been going and just enjoyed the warm air, the breeze, the faint scent of blossoms, and tried to outrun the pollen that's been wrecking havoc on my sinuses this week.

In the autobiography class that I took in college, we talked about how autobiography can be most anything that tells something about your life--your artwork, a list of what's in your purse or what's on your playlist, and so on. So I thought today I'd share my week in recipes:

Sunday: Company! Laura, Matt, and James still visiting. Had leftover chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese for lunch.


Quick, Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup 
3-4 chicken breasts, cooked.
5 carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 quarts water
4 chicken bouillon cubes (You can use 2 quarts of chicken broth instead of water and bouillon, but I always use the water/bouillon).

Boil veggies, bouillon and water together for 15-20 min. Add cut up chicken.

1 (10 3/4 oz) can cream of chicken soup
1 tsp basil
pepper to taste
1 c frozen peas (optional)
1/2 of (11-oz) package Grandma's Frozen Homemade Noodles, thawed (I just use any brand of frozen egg noodles. And then I pick them out in H's bowl.)

Add cream of chicken soup, basil and pepper and bring to a boil again before adding defrosted noodles and peas.  Cook for an additional 5 min. (I cook it a little longer--probably more like 25-30 min. so the noodles aren't chewy).


And ate a tasty dinner (although I didn't manage to make dessert--sorry!)

MaryAnn's Rolls (I always double)
3 1/2 c flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c butter, softened
2 Tbsp powdered milk
1 c warm water
1 Tbsp yeast 
1 egg

Mix 1 1/2 c flour with salt, sugar, butter, and powdered milk. Add water, yeast, and egg.  Add remaining flour 1 c at a time. Knead for 10 min in mixer on slowest speed. Put in greased tupperware with lid and let sit 30-45 min. Pan them in a greased pan. Let rise til double again, about 30 min. Bake at 400 for 10 min or 375 for 12 min.
  • Cornucopia salad
(Courtesy of keeping up cookbook)
1 head red or green leaf lettuce, rinsed and torn (I used romaine b/c I had it in the garden)
3 green onions, sliced
1 (11-oz) can mandarin oranges, drained (I leave out. Can't stand the things)
1 avocado, diced
1 apple, diced
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/3 c crumbled blue cheese (I prefer feta)

dressing:
2 T white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 T sugar
1/4 c oil

almonds:
1/2 c sliced almonds
3 T sugar
salt

Prepare almonds by heating a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle sugar over pan and cook without stirring. When sugar is mostly melted, reduce heat to medium-low and add almonds. Stir until almonds begin to brown slightly. Remove from heat and lightly salt. Cool on wax paper.

Toss all ingredients together just prior to serving. If preparing in advance, add diced apple and avocado directly to jar of dressing to keep from browning. 

Monday:  Had some discomfort and disappointment this day. Coped with 

Oatmeal Cake
1 1/2 c boiling water--pour over 1 c oats and 1 stick butter and let sit for 20 min

Then add:
 1 1/3 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

Mix and bake at 350 for 35 min. When it comes out of the oven, poke holes all over it (immediately, when it's not sticky) using a fork. Before serving it, make the icing and pour on it so it's warm.

Icing:
1 c sugar
3/4 can evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 T flour
Mix together in saucepan and boil. Then pour over cake. 

Good thing I halved the recipe for my square pan since I ate 3 slices. J grilled the Cheeseburger of Champions (from Weber's Real Grilling) for dinner:

1 1/2 lbs ground chuck (80% lean--this is a MUST!)
1 T ketchup
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/4 tsp pepper
4 slices Monterey Jack cheese

Makes 4 patties. Mix the ingredients using your hands. Grill the patties over Direct High head, 8-10 min, turning once. Then put cheese on. Toast the hamburger buns, cut side down, after spreading butter on the buns.

Tuesday:  Realized I had only cooked dinner 2 out of the last 6 days and tried to make up for it with a classic garden salad and 
Mom's Lasagna (I always double it to make one for the freezer)
1 lb ground beef, browned
1 envelope spaghetti sauce mix
2 tsp basil leaves
1 T parsley flakes
1 can (1 lb) tomatoes
1 8 oz can tomato sauce

Layer: 1/2 c sauce, 3 noodles, cottage cheese, grated Mozzarella, 1/2 remaining sauce, 3 noodles, cottage cheese, Mozzarella, rest of sauce, Mozzarella

Bake at 350 until heated through.

Wednesday:  Busy day, called for marinated chicken, rice-a-roni, and broccoli

Vickie's Marinade
3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2" thin and poked with a fork
1/2 c soy sauce
1/2 c canola oil
1/2 c sprite, Mountain Dew, 7-up whatever you got
2 Tbsp fresh garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced (or the equivalent dried since I never have fresh)

Thursday:  Blue and Gold Banquet for scouts. No dinner-making here! Boys had to bring their favorite dessert. Mister surprised me by saying Peanut-butter brownies were his favorite. Easy-peasy, just like I like it.

Peanut-Butter Brownies
1 brownie mix, made up according to directions, but substitute Hershey's syrup for the water and add Reeses's peanut-butter chips.
Ice with 1 store-bought vanilla icing. Add 1/4c peanut butter to it and stir until mixed well. (Note: I can't stand most store-bought icing, with the exception of the confetti stuff, but this doesn't taste store-bought. I promise)

That brings us to tonight. Friday. Date night. Dinner out! This day is getting better and better.

Another recap

I guess I tend to get behind or something. I downloaded my pics and realized we've been having a lot of fun. Maybe I should record it for when the kids say we don't do anything fun??

Lover's Day sure was fun. We started the day with heart-shaped chocolate chip muffins (which were nasty, I thought, but the kids liked them.) I helped in Mister's class with the ice cream sundae bar and the kids came home to the yarn maze, leading them each to their little Valentine from us--a balloon and a couple dollar-store items. We ended with take-out from Pei Wei (the best form of love shown to me is not making me cook dinner) and heart-shaped chocolate cake. (I'm trying to make use of all of those random dishes I got for my wedding.)

February 14 also happened to be our lovely state's 100th birthday. All of the kids at their school made the state flag out of their handprints. The kids are pointing to their specific handprint.


Over President's Day weekend, Laura, Matt, and James joined us. Yay! It was so much fun having visitors! Laura and I and the little boys shopped (well, Laura and I shopped while they ate snacks, watched the I-pad and I-touch, and screamed in the dressing rooms). The men played golf. We went out for Mexican food sans kids. We went to the zoo and on a bike ride to the park. And we relaxed and played lots of games. Oh, and apparently we tried to recycle the little boys. (I surely was ready to after the shopping trip with H.) Thanks for coming to visit, guys!






This week Sweetie's little 4-week cheer clinic came to an end. I originally was not a fan of her taking cheer. I tried to tell her that we were the people that others' cheered on, you know, the sports' starts and such (haha). I ended up agreeing to her doing it because it was at the park at the end of our street, all of her friends were taking it, and it was only $20. So at the parents' performance, I was surprised at how much she did in 4 weeks. And she loved it, of course.







video
This week was Mister's Blue and Gold banquet:


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Do you see what I see?


You'll have to squint really hard. It's there in the back. Could it be? you ask. Why, yes, it is. A ponytail! (A ponytail propped up by 4 barrettes, but a ponytail nonetheless.) Hallelujah!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Remind me not to do this again

Make 58 homemade valentine's. Mister's teacher wanted the students to write a compliment and a nice note to each of the other 29 kids in the class. Since a nice note doesn't really fit on the back of the store-bought Phinneas and Ferb valentine's, I decided we'd just make them. We'd hot glue 3 rolos together, and I'd print off a tag that said, "I like how you roll" and then Mister could write his note. But then Sweetie wanted to make these pencils with rolos and a Hershey's kiss and then Mister thought the pencils were much cooler, so  I watched 2 episodes of Downtown Abbey while I glued and taped pencils. (Thankfully, Sweetie cut most of the pieces out.) J felt it necessary to remind me of President Uchtdorf's conference talk and said I was doing the equivalent of embroidering names on pot holders (or whatever his analogy was). Oh well, they're done and I'm almost caught up with Downtown Abbey. It's a win/win in the end, right?!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

What we've been up to

Things have been busy, as always, the past week. We enjoyed Sweetie's first grade musical. She was a spider, as you can see. She's also been taking a little cheerleading class from her friend's mom down at the park. She now does the "herky" all over the house.


 Mister has been playing basketball both on his team and outside our house every day after school. He also went to the Suns game with a friend last week. His friend's dad said they sat on the back row but cheered like they were on the front. I made him take his Laker jersey off before he left, though.

Mister and J also had a father/son day out at the Phoenix Open last week. They walked a bunch, cheered a bunch, and Mister didn't want to come home.
For my last activity as the wolf cub scout den leader, I took Mister's cub scout group to Papa John's to learn about pizza-making. They each got to make their own pizza to take home. It was really fun! 
 We've all been making valentines.

And we've been spending lots of time outside. I love being outdoors in this perfect weather, but I spend hours each week out there, making sure H doesn't ride his scooter down to the park or throw rocks at the neighbor girls. Sometimes I groan when the kids all bolt for the front door after doing homework and eating their after school snacks.

H has been in his "secret hideout" with his Little Critter books.
H and I also went to the zoo with friends. I took plenty of pics but H erased every single picture and video from my phone one morning while I was in the shower.

I made these homemade Snickers for our Relief Society chocolate night and my card club this week. They were delicious but tasted too much like the real Snickers. Why spend that much time on something you can just buy at the store?


 This week is promising to be a little slower, once we get past Valentine's Day festivities. And I'm excited that Laura, Matt, and little J are coming to visit!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

14 Days of Service

I got this idea from a friend (and I've seen reports on other blogs of people who do service on their birthdays--the number of acts that they do equals the age that they're turning--also a fun idea). However, when I presented this great idea and the list below to the kids, Sweetie was thrilled and Mister was completely stressed out. "I already have basketball and so much homework and piano and reading and scouts," he wailed. "This is just a waste!"  I was shocked, to say the least. How can my tender-hearted 8-year-old be so overwhelmed with life that service is "a waste"? I didn't know what to say to him, but as a result of his response, I haven't been gung-ho with our list. I know in my heart that we make the time for things that are important to us. And serving others--our neighbors, our community, and people we don't know--is extremely important to me. I'm hoping it becomes important to my kids too. But for now, I won't push it hard. So far, we've done the service when the day has allowed for it, but I haven't pushed the kids to do it if we've been really busy (with the exception of taking the neighbors' garbage cans in, which takes all of 2 minutes?!)  But I thought I'd document the idea and our experience with it, even if it hasn't been ideal.

14 Days of Service
1. Pick up trash at the park.
2. Bring in neighbors’ recycling garbage cans.
3. Make a loan on kiva.org.
4. Donate old clothes and toys to Goodwill.
5. Write/make valentines for grandparents and cousins.
6. Write happy notes.
7. Tuck happy notes in cars on the way to school to wish people a happy day.
8. Bring in shopping carts at the grocery store.
9. Leave a note and treat for the mail carrier.
10.  Bring new stuffed animals to the children’s hospital.
11.  Put canned food out for the Food Bank drive.
12.  Make valentines for classmates and Primary teachers.
13.  Deliver treats to neighbors.
14.  Write love notes to each other. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Superbowl!

Too bad our team lost. We made up for it by eating lots of J's nachos, tamales, and peanut butter M&Ms.

Friday, February 3, 2012

It's the first Friday of the month

which means I'm over at Segullah. And it's lonely there today! Not many comments, so come join in.