Monday, December 31, 2007

The Year in Review

Now is the time for all of the "Best Of" lists etc... I haven't really posted about Christmas (it was great) and I don't really want to put my New Year's Resolutions out there so for my own journaling and for my own posterity I will review the year that was...



January: Devon and Courtney turn 12, Devon is ordained. Courtney and I saw 42nd Street, we got a new niece (cousin) - Whitnee, I started teaching Gospel Doctrine, Morgan went to California on a field trip, Alan's Uncle Glade came to visit and we went to ALOT of basketball games (Devon was on two teams).



February: Will and Michelle came to visit and see the Phoenix Open, more basketball games, I got a speeding ticket on Guadalupe, I got a new great-niece (my niece had a baby - I think that is called a great niece, maybe a grand-niece??) and I attended traffic school.



March: Courtney got braces, I went on the Pioneer Trek as a big sister, we spent Spring Break in Utah, I suffered a freak dehydration side effect and swelled up like a Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon and I got to attend the Young Women's broadcast for the first time with my daughter!



April: Still more basketball games, Courtney's team won the school Battle of the Books competition and the first round of the District championship, we kept the Harms kids for a weekend and we helped organize the neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt.



May: I went to BYU Women's Conference, Nicole turned 6 (while I was gone), I got a calling to go to camp as a 1st year leader, I fasted for a dear friend who was going through a medical trial, set a personal family record of six birthday parties attended on one Saturday, my two 6th graders graduated from elementary school, celebrated our 14th anniversary and Alan was ordained a High Priest.



June: Devon attended basketball camp then he and Alan went to Scout camp, Alan and I spoke in church on Father's Day, I got a new dryer, I had my birthday, Courtney and I went to girl's camp and while we were gone - Morgan and Nicole flew to California by themselves to visit their grandparents and I started blogging!



July: We celebrated the 4th with our family at Duck Creek, I had my 20 year high school reunion, Alan went to Oregon to visit his friend Kevin, Devon went to Santa Barbara to play golf with his Uncle Will and Devon and Courtney took off on the adventure of a lifetime -they traveled the East Coast in an RV with our friends the Waites.



August: I bawled my eyes out when Devon and Courtney started Jr. High and then again 5 days later when Morgan and Nicole went to school, Nicole donated her hair to Locks of Love, I read the three Stephenie Meyer books in three days and then read them again, we started our food group, I was released from being the Gospel Doctrine teacher and called in to the Primary Presidency, Alan had his birthday, I worked at the cannery, we moved my Mom, Courtney made the volleyball team and I started teaching French at the elementary school again.



September: Morgan turned 11 and had a fun party, we went to lots of volleyball games and missed everyone of Devon's football games, I went to Shadow a Student day at the Jr. High, we met with a member of the Stake Presidency to find out that Alan is being called in to the Bishopric of a ward we are not in - we also find out the ward boundaries are changing and we will be leaving our beloved 2nd ward to go back in to our beloved 1st ward, and Alan's dad comes to watch Alan be put in to bishopric.



October: We took and awesome trip to Southern California and got out of there before all of those fires started, Nicole had dental surgery, we had a fun Halloween party and Nicole went on her first 1st grade field trip.



November: Amazing Race started, Alan conducts Sacrament Meeting for the first time, I got a calling as a RS Teacher in our new ward, I cleaned out our fridge, we went camping with friends, the Douglas Family came for a wonderful Thanksgiving and my brother and his kids are involved in a terrible ATV accident - but come out okay.

December: I almost totally blow off Christmas by not putting tree up until late in the month and then only putting up a portion of our decorations, I don't send Christmas cards for the first time in 13 years, Nicole celebrates the Polar Express at school, we go to some great Christmas parties, and we celebrated a beautiful Christmas together as a family.

Bonne Annee everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas

May this Christmas renew in all a love of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I love when the thoughts of so many turn towards His birth and life. May His love for each of us wrap around and warm each of you as you gather with loved ones over the next few days. I know that I will be thinking of what it would have been like to give birth in lowliest place and I will be thankful for all of the blessings that my Father in Heaven has granted me.
Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

17 years ago....

On December 19, 1990 I entered the Missionary Training Center. I had turned my papers in at the end of July, received my call over Labor Day weekend and was called to report to the MTC the week before Christmas (?). I was ready to go - I had made the decision to serve a mission several months before my papers were turned in and the whole process just seemed to take forever!

If you have to be away from your loved ones at Christmas - the MTC is the place to be. Every night there were special devotionals by General Authorities. Ezra Taft Benson was the prophet then, he made a special video presentation that was shown; President Hinckley came, Elder Haight, Elder Nelson and Elder Ballard all came. President Monson came and spent Christmas Eve with us - that was very special. It was the coldest Christmas in Utah history up to that point and he couldn't drive down from Salt Lake because of the ice so they made some arrangements and he left his family home and was actually driven down to Provo in a snow plow.

There were less missionaries than usual because they slow down arrivals towards the end of December (I don't know how I was one of the lucky ones) and they keep sending them out. On Christmas day, Elder L. Tom Perry came with his whole family, there were about 40 of them. The Perry family did a special program around 10:00 a.m. with special musical numbers, talks etc... and then they shook every single missionary hand. They also stayed and ate Christmas dinner with us - which was sack lunches made the day before so the kitchen staff wouldn't have to work on Christmas. I have always loved Elder Perry, not just because he is so smiley and wears bright colored ties and he is so tall, but because he sat at the picnic style tables in the MTC cafeteria with all of us on Christmas.

I can't believe that it was really that long ago - it seems like it was just a few years ago that I was buying Rockport pumps and 25 pairs of Hanes Silk Reflections panty hose. In 1990, the Berlin wall came down, Nelson Mandela was freed and I started doing missionary work for real.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My Grown Up Christmas List

This time of year I get super emotional. There is of course the stress that could add to the tears - but mostly it is the love that people show to each other. The effort that some go to to decorate their yards so others can enjoy it touches me. The thought that so many more people's hearts are turning towards the Savior - even the slightest bit - moves me to tears. The service projects, the family get togethers, the beautiful music - all of these things are so tender to me.


Yesterday, a couple of things happened. I had a party with my french students - I told them all about Christmas in France where the celebrations are much less commercial. Christmas in France is ALL about the birth of Christ, Pere Noel does come and leave small trinkets and fruits and nuts but it is not an all out gift-giving frenzy like American Christmas. Christmas in France is about family, food and the nativity. When I was done telling them all about it and while we were enjoying some croissants and hot chocolate, one of the 6th grade teachers came up to me and said, "I'm not particularly religious but I sure wish our Christmases were more like that." The more I thought about it the more tears came to my eyes. Why can't it be more like that?


I recently finished Skipping Christmas by John Grisham for our "non-enrichment activity" book group. We met last night and talked about some of these same things. The book was the basis for the movie Christmas With the Kranks. You may remember that the main character really protested all of the crazy spending and trappings that go along with Christmas - he really doesn't feel the Christmas spirit until the end when he is able to do an incredible service for someone else.


Another thing that happened is I bought the Michael Buble Christmas CD. It only has 6 songs on it and two of them are the same (one live version) so I guess it really only has 5 songs - but it is so great. I do have a small crush on Michael Buble - Harry Connick is still my number one crooner but Michael Buble is coming in close second. Anyway, I bought his Christams CD and there is a song on there called My Grown Up Christmas List. I had never heard this song before but this morning I learned that it was released by Natalie Cole for the first time in 1990 and since then, Olivia Newton John, Kellie Clarkson, Clay Aiken and Amy Grant have all released versions of it - but I have to say that I like MB's the best. Upon hearing it, my first reaction was - "this is what the Savior's Christmas list would be". I was looking for the lyrics or some way to share it here on the blog and found this video that is posted on YouTube. It is the Michael Buble version with pictures of soldiers. It is so amazingly moving. Please watch it.


Joyeaux Noel.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Kevin Nash Update

Devon found the pennant in his room. He was convinced Courtney hung it there so he promptly went and hung it in her room. She found it and is plotting her revenge.

Devon and Courtney are having a blue stocking hat war! Only without the hat and with a wrestling pennant! I love it!

Long live white elephant wars!

The Best White Elephant Prize Ever!

Saturday night we went to a Christmas Party at some good friends of ours. One of the things they always do is have a White Elephant Gift Exchange. It is so fun. We brought two pair of crazy slippers - ugly - but useful. There is a fine balance in what you can bring to the WEGE - it has to be funny or desirable but not too cheap or naughty. The naughty prizes make me very uncomfortable (Type 2 Embarrassment) so I was glad there were none this year.



We ended up with the new Josh Groban Noel cd (very desirable), some candy, a "tooth tunes" toothbrush and a pennant for WWE champ Kevin Nash. It is totally sweet. He is making the coolest pose in silhouette at the bottom of the pennant. He looks a little bit like "Dog the Bounty Hunter" to me. I brought it home and asked Devon if he wanted to hang it up in his bedroom - he looked at me like he thought I was crazy - but I am totally going to hang it up in there while he is at school today and see if he notices.



But, we did not choose the best white elephant gifts ever. The host of the party ended up with them and we did find out later who brought them - it was a collection of Yanni paraphernalia. Not just a cd - but a VHS of a concert and a cassette tape. It was awesome! When Alan had a chance to steal, I wanted him to get it for his office white elephant party - but he didn't (we may have to break out our Bill Clinton toilet paper for that - we really have some) he thought he was saving himself some Christmas shopping when he stole the Josh Groban cd. He didn't realize it was a Christmas cd and that would be pretty lame to give as a gift ON Christmas. The Yanni collection was brilliant - the best white elephant gift of the night.



This Christmas I will be carrying on a tradition with my younger brother. It is sort of a white elephant but I hesitate to call it that. When Jeremy was packing to leave on his mission in July of 1990, I slipped into his suitcase, an electric blue stocking cap that our Grandma had crocheted years before. It is such an ugly blue AND it has a big pom pom on top. He found it in his suitcase and put it under my pillow, I found it a couple of days later and stuck it into his carry-on bag and he didn't find it until he reached the MTC. In December of 1990, I entered the MTC and was so excited to get a package from my missionary brother - but among other things was the stupid hat.



I took the hat to France with me and sent it to him for his birthday. He sent it back on my birthday. I sent it to a missionary in Japan and he pinned a Japanese flag pin to it and sent it to my brother. Jeremy sent it home and had my mom send it in my Christmas package. I sent it to Scotland and had Alan send it back to Jeremy. I can't even imagine the amount of postage we wasted on that hat. Since we've been home it has ended up in wedding gifts, baby gifts and Christmas gifts several times. I have the hat in my possession right now - I am looking for a good way to give it to him this year. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What Jolene Wants

I heard of a really fun game that you can play with Google. You type in your first name and then wants. So I typed in Jolene wants - and true to Google form it brought up 450,000 entries that have those two words together. I didn't think there would be so many - Jolene is not a super popular name (I could never find a key chain or a pencil with my name on it) but after doing this little exercise I have found out something I never knew... Jolene is a very popular name in romance novels.


My name - Jolene - is a combination of my dad's name (Joe) and my mom's name (Carlene). Contrary to popular belief I was not named after the Dolly Parton song of the same name - although, if I said it was - I could pull off being a lot younger than I really am. I think that song came out sometime in the early seventies so that would work out great for me. It was not an easy name to grow up with - not just because of Dolly Parton - but because it rhymes with so many other words. Of course I am dating myself again but when I was in elementary school there was a very famous football player with the Pittsburgh Steelers who was called Mean Joe Green. See where I am going here.


Anyway, back to the Google game. If anyone is still wondering what to get me for Christmas - according to Google - this is what I want: (you have to try this with your own name)


Jolene wants to fight more

Jolene wants to walk in to a bar - one with liquor

Jolene wants to try out for a professional women's basketball team

Jolene wants to keep her word

Jolene wants to know who she is

Jolene wants to pay for her friends lunch

Jolene wants her man back

Jolene wants to take me to the Toledo show on Oct. 29

Jolene wants to give back

Jolene wants to seduce him to spite Rose

Jolene wants none of it

Jolene wants wealthy social elite

Jolene wants me to help her photocopy some stuff

Friday, December 7, 2007

Back to Blogging!

My life has been interrupted with...life... and I am just now feeling like I can get some blogging done. My Christmas decorations are almost up, we only have one more school concert to go and just a few more presents to purchase. Then, hopefully, our life will be back to normal - as normal as pre-holiday life can be.

Yesterday, my smarty-pants 12 year old son and I were having a conversation about careers in other countries. We were discussing how in some countries you choose a vocation and are provided the schooling for that choice or it is chosen for you depending on your aptitude or talents. Then he told me that if we did that in this country, and if I had chosen to be a stay at home mom, I probably would have only had to go to school through the sixth grade.

Yes, my son told me that anyone with a sixth grade education can do what I do. It is true that I am not very much help with his seventh grade honors math (pythagorean theorem what-um?) , but I think I am seriously offended at his thought process. When I started giving him a hard time about it, he back-pedaled real fast (lessons from Dad) - but it made me think.

How much of my higher education am I actually using on a daily basis? I learned how to read long before sixth grade so the story time, recipe reading and birthday party invitation interpreting would be covered. I could sign my name (pay bills), recognize colors (sort laundry) and write a pretty good paragraph (notes to teachers). All of these things I learned to do before sixth grade! I guess I would have had to take some continuing education courses in a few subjects like driving, first aid and advanced cooking for families. But what have I learned - after age 11 - that has really made a difference in my homemaking skills? I don't think I keep my bedroom any cleaner now than I did then.

This is the question for the ages - I am going to have to really think on this. I know life lessons like living with K-RAZY room mates and mission companions probably prepared me for life with children. But, Buyer Behaviors, Promotional Strategy and Marketing Theory - not so much.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What a Way to Spoil a Nice Weekend

I am fired up right now. I wanted to report on the wonderful holiday weekend. It really was a wonderful one for us. Alan's sister, her husband and four kids came down and it was so great to have them. The kids were just having a blast together and tears were shed when they drove away Sunday morning. But on Saturday afternoon my brother and his kids were involved in an accident on their ATV. They are all fine - my brother has a broken hip but none of the kids were seriously hurt.

That is not why I am fired up. I am fired up because I used to trust the news. I love watching the news and I have always believed that they report the facts. I know that some stations are terribly biased with politics etc... BUT I figured with local news they would at least try to get their facts straight. This is not the case. Do not be fooled by what you see and hear on TV. The reporting on the accident has been so out of control. The recognizable truths in the story are getting fainter and fainter. One station reports with a few made up facts and the rest of the stations repeat it with their own mistakes added. A whole hour was devoted to this "story" on a local talk radio station yesterday.

I know this is a downer - this is terrible but I hope something big happens in the world or in our valley so that something really news worthy can be discussed. Then I can go back to blogging about good times, my messy house and my crazy kids.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Blogging Help!

Sometimes I can't control the spacing of paragraphs on my posts. The post below is an example - I kept going back and putting 3 or 4 lines between and it still wound up all jumbled together. Does anyone know how to fix this?

I've Been Tagged


Twice! Once by someone I don't know - and then again yesterday by Jennifer. I've been thinking about this. I don't know if I can think of seven random things that I have not already shared here on my embarrassing blog! You already know that I secretly want to go on Amazing Race and that I hadn't cleaned my fridge in a long time before last week.

But I am going to try real hard to do this. And then I am going to have to try real hard to pass this on to seven people. I guess if you follow the rules - particularly number 3 over there - I should tag seven RANDOM people, I guess that is how I got tagged the first time. But because I am a chicken I will tag people I know.

ONE
.
About three years ago, I turned the t.v. on at 9:00 in the morning and on TBS they were showing Dawson's Creek. I had never watched that show before so I stayed tuned in to see what all of the hubbub was about. During a commercial break the announcer said that it was the premiere episode of the show. I tuned in everyday and watched the entire series over the course of a few months. It was my dirty secret - I was addicted to a teen-angst drama! I recorded it if I wasn't going to be home. I had to know if Joey was going to end up with Dawson or Pacey! It ended with the finale which was a few years after college and every one was settled in to their adult lives. Want to know who she ended up with? The answer is in white - highlight it for the secret! PACEY!!! And I was glad too!

TWO.

I love my suburban in a way that is unnatural for a woman to love an over sized SUV. I wish for a new one with less miles but I don't want to change a thing from my old one - except maybe the dent in the front drivers side panel from where I ran in to the ordering thing in a Sonic stall. Here are all of the cars I have owned: 1985 when I got my license I inherited a green 1971 Chevy Blazer that had a big rust hole in the side, no seat belts and no back seat. When it died I drove my mom's Pontiac Catalina until she got a new Dodge Colt. When I graduated High School my dad bought me a used Chevy Malibu (I couldn't find a picture of one) and told me I could keep it or trade it in as a down payment on a new car. I promptly drove that Malibu to Honda Cars of Mesa (closed on Sundays by the way) and got a brand new yellow CRX SI with a sun roof! I loved that car - and I paid it off in three years. And then sold it to go on a mission. When I came home, I bought another new Honda - a scaled down civic. Shortly after Alan and I got married we sold the civic to his sister and I got a Chevy S10 Blazer. After the twins were born and we couldn't afford two car payments we sold it and I didn't have a car. Then we bought a used Ford Aerostar with no rear air! Our next van was an Oldsmobile Silhouette that I totaled in 2003 and the settlement allowed us to purchase my beloved Suburban!

THREE.

I like to eat raw lemons with salt.

FOUR
.
I love books on CD. I drive a lot each day so I love to listen to a good book. I can plug headphones into the console between the two front seats and listen to the book while the kids are listening to Radio Disney or whatever. It is not unusual for my kids to find me sitting in the garage crying my eyes out listening to the end of my book.

FIVE.

I LOVE my brothers and sisters. My brothers make me laugh so much. We have so much fun when we are together. If I am ever in a "mood" I can just think of so many funny things about my brothers and it fixes everything. My little brother, Jeremy, and I had a blast growing up. We were constantly plotting against, running from and tattling on our older brothers. His one-line e-mails crack me up and sometimes I think he "gets me" when no one else does. And he introduced me to my wonderful husband!

SIX.

I taught my self to play the piano. I knew how to read notes because I had an awesome music teacher in elementary school who made us learn how to read treble and bass scales and because I played the clarinet in the band. My parents bought us a real piano when I was in 7th grade and my dad said if I could teach myself to play hymns, he wouldn't make me have lessons. I learned how to play hymns. Unfortunately I haven't improved much. (I practically stole this one from Jennifer - when I read her number 3 - I thought - hey! me too!)

SEVEN.

I hate cleaning, I love a Sonic burger with green chiles, my favorite color is red, I love toile prints, I secretly love the pop cds my kids buy, I don't love wearing jewelry, I do love really high heels, the back of my neck is SUPER sensitive, I can't stand maple frosted doughnuts, I sort-of collect Eiffel Towers and Santas, I keep a journal just of restaurants that I eat in, I love sushi, I can't stop buying purses and everything I do - I do for my FAITH, FAMILY and FRIENDS!!
I am tagging:

Sunday, November 18, 2007

National Occult Day

I don't know much about occults. But I did go to church today.

I love Sundays. I don't think I always loved them, but I really do now. I know as a kid it was about what we couldn't do. Our summers were torturous as we looked out the back windows at the forbidden swimming pool. My little brother, Jeremy, and I found creative ways to spend our Sunday afternoons. We would play school, or church (with the sacrament of course - and when we got a little keyboard one year from our grandparents, our meetings were more spiritual as we learned how to play Count Your Blessings and God Be With you - the easiest hymns in the book) or we would play our own version of Fear Factor. We would make strange food concoctions and the other person would have to taste it while blindfolded and try to guess what it was. I remember vanilla wafers loaded with mustard, raw onion with peanut butter on it, and mushy graham cracker milk.

These days my Sundays are not quite as exciting. Alan leaves early for meetings and I get up and have a little peace and quiet. I read my scriptures, prepare lessons and just enjoy the quiet. An hour later when I need to wake up the kids, my hair is dry enough to start blowing it out. When we get to church, I can always feel a difference in my day. I love seeing the members or my ward and stake all there to worship. The girls and I find a place to sit, Devon sits with the Deacons to pass the sacrament. My kids are finally old enough that I can listen to the talks and feel the spirit without Cheerios, sippy cups or coloring books.



I love Relief Society. I love to be with the sisters and learn from their lessons and comments. I spent almost four years in Young Womens so it has been nice to be back in Relief Society. I have been called to be a Relief Society teacher - next week is my first week teaching - I'm kind of excited about that.

After church we have a little snack. I prepare dinner and then take a little (30 - 45 minute) nap before choir practice. After choir we have dinner and read scriptures, it is usually only 5:00 or so, and we play a game or take a walk. We love having Alan home on Sunday evenings - when he is gone all day it seems like a treat when he comes home. I don't know why that it is - on weekdays he is gone all day and we don't make a big production of him being home...

I wish the world respected the Sabbath more. In Europe, calendars begin each week on Monday so that Sunday really is the seventh day of the week. I love it when business are closed on Sunday - I will give them more business when I find this out. Chick-fil-A is one that is closed on the Sabbath and I just found out that London Gold is closed on Sundays (they sent us a calendar) - we have never shopped there before but I'm hoping I can talk Alan into shopping there for my Christmas present!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Bizarre Holidays

I am thinking of changing the entire content, outlook and purpose of my blog. Yesterday, when I knew it was National Clean Out Your Fridge Day, I went looking for some kind of web site to link to that would verify that it was true. I stumbled upon an awesome web page that lists all of the bizarre holidays. I totally want to celebrate each one. I want to have a reason every single day to celebrate something. For example, today is National Button Day! I did some research and found out that it was originally supposed to be the Monday in November before the general elections. On National Button Day everyone could display on their lapels which candidate they were supporting.



I don't have any political buttons but I do have a button with FBDO on it. I got it in 1986 at the sneak peak double feature with Top Gun. Two movies for the price of one! But, I digress.



Back to the buttons. I used to love playing in my moms big bucket of buttons. I loved the way it felt to put my hand down in there and let all of the buttons run out of them like sand. I guess to be honest, my favorite buttons now are the ones on my remote control. I also love the radio button in my suburban, the Caffeine Free Diet Coke button on the soda fountain at Valero, the snooze button on the alarm clock, and the buttons on my favorite jeans. One of my other favorites is what we call the "pause button". It is a phrase borrowed from Steven R. Covey's 7 Habits for Highly Effective Families. It describes how one needs to think about what one says before saying it, take a few seconds to pause before you react so you can become a less reactive person and more of a proactive person. Not to be confused with another commonly used phrase in our house - "you are really pushing my buttons - leave your sister alone!"



So for National Button Day - think of buttons you love. What you find cute as a button, your belly button (if you are easily offended - don't click that one), or what that strange button on your stereo does.



Happy Button Day!



P.S. We are going out camping/riding today so tomorrow I hope to be able to celebrate National Take a Hike Day!

National Clean Out Your Fridge Day - Part Two - After


I did it! It took four hours. I almost threw up about 8 times. But it is done! My legs hurt from all of the squatting and getting up to dumb my wash water. But now I am ready for all of the groceries I need to buy. I couldn't take pictures yesterday because I couldn't get the %*#^$&?! drawers back in. I have promised myself that I will clean up every spill and accident as it happens so I never have to do that again.
Why do my fake curses want to be an e -mail address?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

National Clean Out Your Fridge Day - Part One - Before

Today, November 15th, is National Clean Out Your Fridge Day. I have known this day was coming for a couple of weeks and have been looking forward to it. Not really looking forward to it like I really want to do it but more of a something that I have needed to do for about 6 months and I can't think of any more excuses not to do it kind of thing.


So in my ongoing effort to totally humiliate myself - I am announcing right here on this blog that I am sure to have the filthiest fridge in my zip code and possibly beyond. I am posting pictures to prove it.




I need to do some grocery shopping but I refuse to do it until my fridge is clean. You can tell I don't even have any milk. I also don't have a lot of fresh fruits or veggies - please don't judge me.




The one picture of the white shelf - all of those crumbs are from a go-gurt that exploded sometime at the beginning of the summer. At first it was just a sticky mess but I ignored it long enough that it hardened and flaked away leaving bright pink crusties.





The picture where you can witness Alan's Root Beer fascination (it really is his perfect root beer float fascination - but that is another post for another day) that is the shelf where the milk would usually sit. You can tell that it is the milk shelf by all of the crunchy milk residue.




So here it is in all of its glory. I will post the after pictures soon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tasty Tuesday - squash dinner rolls

I know it is Wednesday, but with Monday being a holiday - it feels like Tuesday.

Before I post this yummy recipe - I have a dilemma. What do you do for a 6 year old who doesn't want breakfast before school? Every morning it is the same thing. I list about 6 or 7 things out for her that I am willing to make. No good. Then I list out for her some things that I really don't want to make for her but I will if she REALLY wants them. No good. Most mornings she goes to school after having maybe a couple of drinks of milk and a bite of toast, or one bite of an egg. She hates granola bars and breakfast bars etc... She wont eat cereal, oatmeal or pancakes. The only time I can get her to eat breakfast successfully is if we have left over lasagna or spaghetti. Should I just make up a big batch of spaghetti and dish it out in breakfast sized portions? I wished the made lasagna flavored pop-tarts so I could just throw it in the toaster and she could eat it on the go.

Okay - since I don't have a recipe for those yummy sounding pop-tarts (or, just so you know one of my dirty secrets - I call them poop-turds for laughs - the kids think it is hilarious - I sometimes have the sense of humor of an 8 year old boy) I will share a yummy recipe that I tried on Sunday. I got it from the November Sunset magazine. I think that I am going to make a double batch of these for our Thanksgiving dinner.

Squash pull-apart dinner rolls

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups warm milk (microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes)
2 1/4 tsp. dry yeast (one envelope)
4 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup pureed squash or canned pumpkin
5 tbsp. vegetable shortening (thanks again Pam for letting me borrow some!)
4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp butter, melted, plus more for pan
2 tsp. poppy or sesame seeds

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, combine milk with yeast, sugar, and salt. let stand 5 minutes, then add egg and beat well to combine.
2. Add squash and shortening; mash with a fork until shortening is in small pieces. Add 1 1/2 cups flour and mix well with a wooden spoon. Gradually mix in more flour by the cupful until dough collects around spoon and pulls away from sides of bow (you may not need all the flour).
3. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead 2 minutes. Put dough in a greased bowl; cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and butter a large baking sheet. (I used a jelly-roll type cookie sheet but I think next time I will split the recipe and put them in a buttered cake pan to keep them from getting too flat.) Punch dough down, turn out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead until dough is smooth and supple, about 7 minutes. Cut dough into 4 balls; cut each ball into 6 pieces.
5. Roll each piece into a round and arrange rounds on baking sheet so they barely touch. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with poppy seeds; cover with plastic wrap and let rise 30 minutes.
6. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

I have to Share

It is an established fact that I love the raspberry - chocolate combination. Today I found a great new way to satisfy this love. Behold, Dave Matthews Band Magic Brownies ice cream from Ben and Jerry's. I am not so naive that I don't know what the Magic Brownies name implies - I thought it was just a cute little play on words. Now I am not so sure - because this ice cream is truly magical. I'm just speculating here - but there may be some illegal substance in here that makes me want to eat the whole carton.

They don't have a link to it or a picture of it on the B & J web site so I will tell you that it is black raspberry ice cream swirled with sweet cream ice cream and fudgy brownies - and it is to die for. The raspberry ice cream is great, the sweet cream swirl is just that - sweet! and the brownies are crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside.

Alan and I went to Vermont about 4 years ago and were tempted to take the tour of the factory but there were 8 buses of Japanese tourists pulling up at the same time. To be honest, I don't agree with Ben & Jerry's politics but I was totally going for the free ice cream. I am recommending this flavor and it is on sale at Bashas right now. I wish the magic brownies could have no calories. Now that would be true magic.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Type 1 and Type 2 Embarrassment

I recently read a post on someones blog about type 1 and type 2 embarrassment. I should be embarrassed that I can't link to it because I have no idea where I read it. I have tried to find it on my regularly visited blogs but I can't find it. I tend to follow links and then wonder how in the world I got there.

Type 1 embarrassment is when you yourself do something embarrassing and you have those unmistakable feelings of red cheeked, hot necked embarrassment. Like I said, I don't really embarrass easily. I have done some pretty dumb stuff in my life and not really felt the sting of embarrassment. I showed the entire 1987 Senior Class at Mesa High my underwear and although I was embarrassed I didn't run off the stage in tears or anything like that. That is not to say that when I look back on things I don't get embarrassed - I do. But that is almost classified as type 2 embarrassment.

Type 2 embarrassment is when you get embarrassed for other people. Although I don't get embarrassed a lot myself - I do get embarrassed for other people. I have noticed that most of my type 2 embarrassment revolves around singing - bad singing. It could be singing that is too loud, out of tune or even when people make funny faces when they sing. When someone sings a solo in church I have a hard time looking at their face - I get embarrassed for them.

I bring all of this up because a notice came home from the elementary school that they were having a special flag ceremony on Friday morning in honor of Veteran's day. Included in the notice was an agenda of what would happen. The kindergarten is going to do a flag parade, the MHS ROTC will be there to help with the flag raising, and the after-school program is going to sing a patriotic song. Then I read that one of the teachers (Devon's 6th grade teacher from last year) is going to sing a solo of "America the Beautiful". I am already feeling embarrassed for her and she hasn't even started singing. I have never heard her sing, she may be great, but when I told Devon about it he said, "Oh, crap!". I don't condone that language but he is feeling it for her too!

I was planning on going to the ceremony. I have morning carpool and Nicole really wants me to go with her class. Now, I don't know if I can do it. My stomach is getting all full of butterflies and it is two days away! I know it will be disrespectful and possibly un-patriotic but I'm thinking I may have to whip out the cell phone for a quick game of Tetris to calm my nerves while she sings.

Monday, November 5, 2007

My Favorite Time of Year

It is true that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love that you are around your loved ones, there isn't the pressure of gift giving and it totally revolves around food. I love Thanksgiving! The weather here in AZ is always perfect this time of year. Most of my Thanksgiving dinners have been enjoyed outside in fact - it is gorgeous.



Thanksgiving is not what I am talking about however. This is my favorite time of year, not because of the good weather, the upcoming holidays or the fact that November is also National Pomegranate Month - it is because Amazing Race has started - FINALLY!


Last night was the first show of the new season, so my Monday morning ritual has begun. We typically don't watch t.v. on Sundays so my good friend Shannon tivos it and we watch it on Monday mornings. This has been our routine for the last several seasons. Sometime last season my mom came over on a Monday morning (I forgot I told her I would drive her to the Dr.) and I wasn't home. One of my neighbors drove by and said "I know where to find her" and she was right - I was at Shannons watching the race. Shannon and I have big dreams of getting in shape and one day going on the show. With each challenge we discuss how we would have done it better, how we could have located the clue faster, and who would be the driver etc... We are painfully aware of how much work we would have to do to get in shape to be able to do all of those things - but what an adventure it would be to travel the world like that.


This season there are some crazy teams - not a single married couple. Unless you count the 40ish "married" lesbian couple who are also clergy in some so-called church. There is a "goth" couple but they look more like transvestites, a father and daughter (whom I love - when they made it to the finish line he said "who's your daddy?" while doing a crazy dance), a grandfather and grandson team, two sisters, two busty blond friends, a brother and sister and a bunch of dating couples. I think some Mormon car-pooling moms are just what the show needs.


Here are seven skills I think I have that could help me on the show:


1. I know how to drive. I have even driven in crazy traffic. I think I might have a hard time with the countries that drive on the wrong side of the road but off-roading or dodging bicycles in China - I got (it can't be worse than the Jr. High car pool).


2. I can't run that fast - but I am big and I could trip or push others who try to run past me.


3. I will eat almost anything. You know how they have some kind of eating challenge on every race - I am not afraid of trying new things. Could be why I can't run fast (see #2).


4. I could bungee jump, drop out of an airplane or any of those scary stunts. As long as it is real and not simulated like that stupid California Soarin' thing at Disneyland. That makes me sick.


5. I am not a swearer. I wouldn't cuss at Shannon when we messed up. It seems like the swearers never go very far in the race.


6. I can carry a heavy backpack. I carried 60 lbs of twins for heavens sake and I carry tons of laundry up and down the stairs every day.


7. I speak a foreign language. If you have ever watched the show you know that bi-lingual people have it a little bit easier. Even in countries that speak a completely different language than the one you know, if you speak with a crazy accent someone might understand you.

Friday, November 2, 2007

National Blog Posting Month

According to Blogger - November is National Blog Posting Month. So many bloggers are going to post everyday in November. I can not commit to that. I am already a day behind so I am just going to do my best to post a little more often. That really is a commentary on my life however, if I am a day late - I can't do it. If I say I am going to start a diet on Monday and then have tater tots for breakfast then I can't diet this week - I will have to wait until next Monday. I can't watch t.v. shows that I didn't watch the very first episode. I don't come in half way through the season and try and figure out what is going on.

So, now that I have shared too much information about my mental status - I will say that even though I can not commit myself to blogging every day in November, I will try and get caught up.
We had a little game night to play one of our favorite games - The Werewolves of Millers Hollow. I say it is one of our favorites - but I know that Alan has fallen out of love with it. It is a game that involves a certain amount of lying to your friends. If you remember playing mafia, it is a lot like that just better organized. Alan almost always acts as moderator when we play with our friends and family and so he knows what is going on. I think he doesn't like witnessing me bear false witness against my neighbors like that.

I finally got a calling in our ward. I actually got two callings - Stake building scheduler and Relief Society teacher. I have been bugging Alan for weeks to tell me if they were ever going to give me a calling and at the same time kind of enjoying not having one. Of course he wouldn't tell me a thing but I couldn't be happier. I love to teach and only having to teach once a month to the women of the church is the best.

Our Halloween was great - the kids had fun and that is what really matters. Devon wore our Nacho Libre mask for the ward party but on Halloween he just put on his basketball uniform to walk around with us. He really hates trick or treating - he is not a candy eater and I am sure nothing is more embarrassing to him than going door to door - but he was a good sport and came along. Courtney was a nun (she was supposed to be Encarnacion to Devon's Nacho), Morgan was a witch and Nicole finally settled on wearing a poodle skirt and roller skates. Nicole was hilarious - we had so many costumes for her, a witch, a corpse bride, a beautiful vampire (she always wants the scary costumes) and instead she went for the easiest thing so she wouldn't have to wear make-up. I will try and put up some pictures.

Check out my friend Kelly's blog - she has a hilarious story to share. She is very brave to share it. When I was a kid, my mom left me at the grocery store. It was traumatic - I was 5. I vowed never to do that to one of my own. I've done it twice, I left one at church and I left one at home like Kelly. Her story is great - read it!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Those Pesky Fires




DeAnn sent me some pictures that she took from her neighborhood. The second picture is taken right in front of their house - the other two from the end of her street looking down the canyon. The fires were very close - they were under evacuation. The flames came right up to the fences of her subdivision but no homes were burned. It seemed like the danger was over for them - they were just dealing with the smoke, ash and a few stray hot cinders - but the fire is back on the other side of their canyon. Once again they can see flames from their neighborhood. I just wrote about how beautiful the area they live in is - it is such a shame that it is all black now.


The most amazing thing to me is that their Bishop drove around to all of the ward member's houses to chat with them. DeAnn told me that after he left she just knew they were going to be all right. I guess most of their ward members live in two large subdivisions that are separated by a canyon and a few miles. The flames have come up to the fences in both of those neighborhoods but no homes have burned.


We are keeping them and all of the people that are being affected in our prayers. It was comforting on the news last night to see footage of Qualcom Stadium in San Diego and see the missionaries in the background handing out food etc... Fires are burning in seven Southern California counties - all except one were started naturally, the fire burning there in Orange County was arson. I heard that if they catch the person who started it they will charge him/her with murder.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tasty Tuesday - Conference Sandwiches


HowManyOfMe.com http://howmanyofme.com">How many have your name?
LogoThere are
0
people with my name
in the U.S.A.





I just found this on someones blog and had to try it. There is not another person in the U.S. with my same name. Our last name is pretty unique. I think we are almost always the only ones in the phone book. Alan has a great uncle who used to keep a condo here in Mesa and so used to be in there too. The funny thing about that is - he and I have the same first name - so people sometimes would get confused if they knew my true first name.

One of the perils of having a first name that you have never used - is that people sometimes call you that. One of the perils of that name being typically a man's name is that when you turn 18 in the 80's you get a notice to register for the draft. That really happened to me. What is worse is when Alan and I were first married I went to the DMV to get my new driver's license. After I got my picture taken I was waiting for them to call my name to come up to the window and get the license. They kept calling my first name with my new last name and it took a very long time for me to register that they were calling me. I kept thinking to myself, "why doesn't that man get up and pick up his license?"

On to the yummy recipe. These sandwiches are so simple - but so delicious. I am calling them conference sandwiches because DeAnn served them to us during this last conference. She got the recipe from her daughter Kelly who had them at a church function of some kind. So maybe it is a good old Mormon recipe like funeral potatoes, chicken/cream cheeses crescents, or any variation on jello salad - but I had never had them before. The secret is the sauce and the refrigerating. Even though the sauce sounds gross - do not leave anything out - and make sure you can refrigerate them for a few hours before you cook them.

Ingredients:

15 Costco dinner rolls
lunch meat (your choice)
cheese

for the sauce: UPDATED!! since I made these last night!
1/2 stick butter (melted)
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp garlic powder (I actually used minced garlic because I'm not fond of garlic powder)
1 Tbs sesame or poppy seeds

Directions:

Slice the rolls in half and put meat and cheese on each one. Place in a 9x13 pan and brush all of the butter mixture over rolls. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours (you could make in the morning for dinner that night) Cook at 350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes.

Updated: I made these for my dinner group and I made 3 pans of 15 and one tray of 20 - and I made the sauce recipe x 3 and it was just right for all four. If you want to make these for a large group you can get 20 - 24 onto a jelly roll cookie sheet.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Vacation Report Le Fin

Now that we have been home for more than a week - I need to wrap this thing up. There are so many more important things I need to blog about - like the really good movie we rented last night, the famous people I have seen in my lifetime, and this article I just read about a new kind of breast lift that is outpatient and it puts titanium rods in your chest so they will never sag again.


Our last full day in CA we decided to hit the beach. We thought it would be fun to just go south on the PCH from Laguna until we felt like turning back. Laguna Beach is really just a few minutes from Alan's dads house - and it is a very pretty drive. We only had three quarters for the parking meter so we only stayed at Laguna Beach for 45 minutes. While we were there I couldn't help but imagine the money that is involved in all of the houses just right on the beach there. There were tons of people walking the beach and a lot of boys skim boarding. Devon did the boogie board for a little bit but the rest of us did not go in at all there.


We hit Dana Point, Newport Beach and San Clemente. When we stopped in San Clemente we all decided to get in the water. Lets just be clear here - the outside temperature was about 70 degrees - the water temperature was MUCH colder. Alan went in first - he just went for it followed by Devon. They were having so much fun swimming and playing in the surf that about 15 minutes later - Morgan and I decided to follow them. In that time - Alan and Devon were deciding to get out because the water was getting rougher and rougher and they could feel the undertow changing. But, they didn't want to be party poopers when we were finally going to come out and play. The beach was really sandy - but there was a strip of rocks that you have to gingerly walk over to get to the area where you can still stand in the water and the waves are good sized. Just as Morgan and I made it over the nasty rocks - the rip tide really started. We started to get pummeled. Alan grabbed Morgan and Devon and started heading back - I was pretty sure I could make it back on my own. I am a good swimmer and I have had experience swimming in the ocean and I knew that I just needed to relax with each wave and dive in and swim along to keep from getting pushed down. Now, I know all that, but I could not for the life of me put it into practice. I just held my breath and got thrown around like a rag doll. I couldn't tell what was up or down and I had no idea how I was going to get myself across those rocks. Even though I felt like I was going to die - I was more scared about the fact that my swim shorts kept getting pulled down. I was a mess - Alan came out and helped me but I was bruised and bloodied pretty bad. My swimming suit was so full of sand that I stripped down in the rest room and rode home with just my lava lava wrapped around me and my sweater on top. I took this picture of my knees a couple of days after we got home. My feet and ankles are pretty cut up too. I really need a pedicure but I am afraid to go until all of my owies clear up. But when they do - I am going for the full treatment - I deserve it!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Vacation Report Part Deux


Sometimes my computer is so retarded. And other times I am too retarded to run my computer. It took me so long to remember how to get the pictures from my camera to my computer. I don't know why - honestly - I do it all the time, but for some reason (could have been a stroke) I couldn't get it. So that is my excuse for not getting these pictures up and for not commenting on the rest of our trip.




We were supposed to go to Knott's Berry Farm on Monday (we would have seen the Harms there if we had) but Alan and Devon golfed instead. So the girls and I (and DeAnn) went for a downtown L.A. adventure. We rode the subway all around and visited some great places including Olvera Street where we had some so-so Mexican Food. You would think that in an area known as "Little Mexico" the food would have knocked our socks off but it didn't. That day being Columbus Day we had an extra yummy Italian dinner and we ate it in Blaine and DeAnn's backyard.



On Tuesday we made it to Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park. I Heart Knott's Berry Farm! It is all about the rides for us - so this trumps Disney. Disneyland is great for the Experience - but for thrills it is all about the rides. We walked on every ride - never stood in line once and most of the rides - if we wanted to ride again we just told the operator - Hey, we want to ride again! It was great times. They are only open from 10:00 to 5:30 during the month of October because they close and then open again at 7:00 for the scary stuff. But that 7 and a half hours was perfect. We rode every single ride and several of them four or five times and we had a nice leisurely lunch.


As soon as we got home Devon and I started looking on line at some of the biggest and fastest roller coasters in the U.S. We would love to make a trip to the Six Flags in New Jersey to ride the Kingda Ka but that is highly unlikely - So we are hoping to try for Six Flags Magic Mountain in Ventura, CA sometime soon. Maybe in the Spring.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Vacation Report Part One

It has taken me a few days to get back on the blogging horse. We got home from our vacation last Thursday night - but for some reason I have been feeling reluctant. I have said many times that I wish I could be more literary in my posting - I guess that is why I hesitate to make this a travel log - but here I go with the tales of our limited travels.... travails????

We did not set out Friday afternoon like we had planned - things got crazy and we heard about some freeway closings and other traffic tie-ups between here and where we were going so we came up with a new plan. We left for CA at 2:00 a.m. Saturday. A.M. people! We have done this before when driving to SLC when our kids were little. It's nice when they can sleep for a good portion of the trip. It works out for Alan because he likes to go to bed early and wake up early and all that believing in the word of wisdom etc... I, on the other hand, did not even go to bed. I kind of think Alan likes the driving in peace thing, the rest of us slept like rocks all the way to Palm Springs! We had breakfast and finished the drive in record time.

We made it to Alan's dad's house about 10 minutes before General Conference started. I always love the Saturday morning session (I really love all of the sessions) because it feels so great to be able to raise my hand and support our dear prophet and all of the priesthood leaders of the church. When it was hard for our kids to sit through conference - I could always get them to hold still through the first part of the Saturday morning session by teaching them what a privilege it is to sustain our leaders. What a lesson it is for me now to just write that sentence.

We loved being with Blaine and DeAnn, watching conference in their home. We were fed well and between sessions on both Saturday and Sunday - we took long walks through the beautiful canyon that they live in. Saturday night while the priesthood session was going on, DeAnn took all of us girls to a fun outdoor mall in Irvine. We ate dinner at Johnny Rockets there and I got to go to one of my all time favorite stores - Anthropologie. I got some cute stuff - including a journal so that I could take notes during the Sunday sessions. I forgot mine. I also got the cutest little red butter dish - it is adorable on my counter right now!! I got some other fun stuff - including the lip salve that my friend Susie Flake got me hooked on. It seems like I only go to Anthropologie when I am out of town and I never make the trip to Scottsdale for the one there.

So, the Sunday sessions of conference were great. I had some strong feelings about some of the talks. I am so glad I have a testimony of the gospel and that I understand the importance of following and sustaining our leaders. ALL of them - not just our priesthood leaders, or our local leaders or the ones that only make us feel good about ourselves. I felt the strong desire to make some personal changes in my life and the reassurance from the spirit that when we are doing the best we can do, our efforts do not go unnoticed. I know I need to be doing my best - all of the time - or at least a lot more often. The fruits of the spirit are peace, love etc... and that is the adversary who wants us to feel guilty, depressed and inadequate.

That is all of my preaching. Pictures and the fun part of our trip still to come!!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Really Lame Post

This week I have been wanting to post about some of my favorite books - you know the ones that you can read over and over and still love the ending... But it has been one of those weeks were a lot of things that I wanted to do - never got done.

I have been preparing for vacation - we are leaving tonight to go to Orange County to stay with Alan's dad and his wife. We will watch conference with them this weekend and then go to Knott's Berry Farm (during the month of October it is re-named Knott's Scary Farm) on Monday, the beach on Tuesday, and L.A./Hollywood on Wednesday. The kids have been wanting to see the Walk of Fame and some of the movie studios etc... Alan and I have tickets to the taping of Jay Leno that night. We are pretty excited about that because the guests include Dana Carvey (Choppin' Broccoli) and the Plain White T's. Watch it and see if you catch us in the audience.

We think we will come home on Thursday so the kids have one day of Fall Break to play with friends. So I will not be blogging until we return - but I hope to have some great pictures to share. I am also hoping to have some kind of Girl's movie night when we get back (I'm sure I will need a break) - maybe try out the new imax theatre..... so my local blog-reading ladies - let's make a plan.

Happy Conference!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I am a creature of habit

I always sit to Alan's left at dinner. I have a routine for lotioning, deodorizing etc... The toilet paper always comes from the top. We leave our house at the same time every weekday for school, (7:12) and every Sunday for church (11:35). We sit in the same pew every Sunday. I don't do well with change.

That being said (sigh)... things are changing. Our Stake had some boundary changes on Sunday. The nine families that live on my street and the next one over are moving back into the ward we came from. For three years we have been the only families in our ward that come from our section of our subdivision. At the beginning of those three years - we felt it. We were definitely the "other side". But now I feel such a part of that ward that I have shed a lot of tears with thoughts of leaving it. i served in the Young Women's program for over 2 of those years and could not have loved a group of Young Women more. Most recently I have been in primary and really been able to know the families through their sweet children.

Last Tuesday night we were called in to meet with a member of the stake presidency. He gave us a brief over view of the changes that were going to happen and then called Alan to be 1st counselor in the Bishopric of our new ward. It almost didn't even come as a surprise - no one could be better at that than Alan. He is a humble, righteous and kind man. The spirit lives in his shirt pocket - he is always being guided to say and do what is right. He leads our family righteously and sets such a good example of clean living for us. But that was a hard night. After our meeting with Pres. Adams, Alan met with the Bishop and I went to an enrichment activity. Every time I started to look around at the amazing women that I have grown to love so much - I would get teary. I really had to try hard to keep it in. The minute I walked out of Robyn's front door - I broke down and cried all the way home.

My most dear friends are in the ward we will now be attending. I couldn't be more happy to be unifying with them again. I know change is good and should always be accepted in our church - especially in areas of growth like ours. I guess the big question is not how much we will miss our friends in our old ward, or if Alan will stumble at the pulpit but will we be able to sit on our favorite bench.

Tasty Tuesday - cookies and brownies

Last Monday we were invited to Alan's boss's house for a cook - out/ swimming/ Family Home Evening. Marci asked me to bring the dessert. Since we would be outside I thought I should make a finger food type dessert and to really impress - I should make more than one. So I made my very favorite chocolate chip cookie. This recipe is supposed to be the famous Neiman Marcus cookie recipe or I have heard it also described as the Mrs. Fields cookie recipe. I have read those recipes and they are very different from this. If you follow the directions and don't try and skip any steps they will always turn out perfect.

Million Dollar Cookie

ingredients:
2 sticks room temperature butter (not margarine and definitely not shortening)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 cups rolled oats (blended in blender to flour consistency)
10 oz. chocolate chips

directions:
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs; beat. Add soda, baking powder, salt and vanilla; beat. Add remaining ingredients. Shape into ping-pong size balls. Bake 8 - 9 minutes


Last month I played Bunko at Kelly B's famous house. She served lots of lovely food that night - but I almost cried tears of joy and delight when I tasted her yummy brownies. They were so fudgy delicious! Kelly told me that they were from Paula Dean so I knew they had to be full of butter and so bad for me. Lucky for me - I didn't have to hunt down the recipe because Kelly posted it here on her blog. These things are so delicious - and even better served cold.

To cancel out the pound of butter that I used in the brownies - I also made my famous friend Nicole's pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I used applesauce instead of butter in these - so they are fat free! Plus pumpkin is a vegetable right? So it is almost like you are not even eating cookies but instead getting your five a day!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

ingredients:
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup applesauce (or 1 stick of butter if you feel naughty)
2 cups pumpkin puree ( I love saying puree - it is an exclamation in French - like Dang it!)
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
5 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
10 oz chocolate chips ( I used the mini-chocolate chips - because when they are smaller it seems more like diet food)

directions:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients together in mixer. Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray. Form dough into ping-pong sized balls (or use a cookie scoop) and bake for 10 - 12 minutes. They will not spread out - you will think they are not done - don't put them back in!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens....

I have a new favorite thing: Google Reader! It is the best if you read a lot of blogs. Watch the little video and it all makes sense! I had all of my blogs on favorites - but now I just bring up the Google Reader and I can tell who has posted something new. It took me a little while to get them all loaded in - but it is worth it.

We had big goings on this last weekend - but it is too fresh for me to blog about. I will save it for another day.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Name Game

I want all you bloggy people to try this - it's a cute one. For me some of them are kooky because Jolene is my middle name. That is a story for another day - but in case you have questions after reading my answers - my first name is Dale. And I lied - I didn't really have Mini Wheats for breakfast - I'm embarrassed to say that I had leftover shredded beef tacos for breakfast.


1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car): Skitz Suburban

2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fave ice cream flavor, favorite cookie): Chocolate Chunky Chips Ahoy

3. YOUR “FLY Guy/Girl” NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name): D-Rid

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal): Red Baboon

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born): Jolene Mesa

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first): Ridda

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink): The green limey diet

8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers): Richard Estras

9. STRIPPER NAME: (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy): Miracle Kisses

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names ): Mae Eugene

11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter): Millet Minneapolis

12. SPY NAME: (your favorite season/holiday, flower): Spring Gardenia

13. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”): Raspberry Running Shoesy

14. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree): Mini Wheat Weeping Willow

15. YOUR ROCK STAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby, fave weather element + “Tour”): The Crafty Lightning Tour

I like the sound of that - See Skitz Suburban on the The Crafty Lightning Tour - coming to a County Fair near you!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A typical day of Jr. High for me...

Today was "shadow a student" day at the Jr. High. My goal was to not embarrass my kids too much. I wore what Courtney picked out for me and I didn't hug or kiss Devon in front of his friends. They had a 1/2 day with 30 minute classes and I split the day evenly with Devon and Courtney - I went to Courtney's morning classes and with Devon in the afternoon. Around 5th period - I had a migraine. All of the terrible things I remembered about Jr. High were reinforced today. I stepped in gum (so did Shannon - it might have been the same gum). But my life came full circle when I started my period and had nothing with me to take care of it. I had to go to the nurse's office and get a pad. Just like 1981, only this time I didn't get it all over the chair in typing class and have the school hottie (Kevin Dawe) point out to me that I might have a "problem". And... today I wasn't wearing a rainbow shirt and white painter's pants...

Monday, September 24, 2007

How to scare a 6 year old



Nicole has been going through some kind of separation anxiety. She is six years old - it's not like we've never left her before.

A couple of weeks ago she started crying before school - she didn't want to go anymore. I couldn't figure out why - I still haven't but she is going everyday. The crying then started at dinner in anticipation for the next day of school. Now, I know she is doing well in school - she has lots of friends, her teacher is always praising her smarts and she is working ahead of the other 1st graders in her class. It has got to be something else.

We worked through the school issue, then came the primary tears. She did not want to separate from me after sacrament meeting to go to primary. She says she misses me too much when she is in class. I am in the primary presidency now so I am within sight of her for the largest portion of her primary experience. I can't figure this one out.

But now the nightmares have started. She tries to get in bed with me a couple of times a week. We have never had kids in bed with us past the nursing stage. She knows she will not be allowed to get in but she comes to get me and tells me she has a bad dream. I walk her back to her room and stay with her until she falls back to sleep, if it is especially traumatic - we will say a little prayer.

So last night at dinner Nicole asks us if we have flood insurance. ???Wha..??? She tells us she saw a commercial about it and she has been very worried about it ever since. She said, "That's why I can't sleep mommy, I've been laying awake at night wondering if you are ever going to buy flood insurance. And what if there is a flood at school or at church - what will we do?" I've never seen this commercial - but apparently is enough to strike fear of flood in a six year old.

Friday, September 21, 2007

"Bare" your testimony

I heard about this calendar on the radio last Saturday. I looked it up on line and was shocked - I am not sure what to think. Mormon Mommy Wars posted about it today - I think there will be some pretty lively debate. I can't help but grimace when I see what I assume are the top of one of the boy's garments poking out of the top of his jeans. Maybe it will be a good missionary tool - but I think it is a little questionable. They are holding auditions however for the 2009 calendar!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'm a bragger..

My two 7th graders are doing so well in school. We got their progress reports the other day in the mail - and I couldn't be more proud. We got their school pictures too - being so nice looking is a bonus.

Devon: grade point average 4.573

Honors Math A+

Social Studies A

P.E. A

Spanish A

Honors Science A

Honors English A


Courtney: grade point average 4.429

Orchestra A+
Honors Science A
Honors English A
Honors Math B
Social Studies A
P.E. A+

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tasty Tuesday - Old Stand By

Today for food group I made one of our family favorites - spare ribs and potato salad. Not just any old potato salad but Alan's great grandma's potato salad that has been passed down through the generations. But before I post the recipes I am going to talk some more about my food group. That link takes you back to where I originally posted how the food group works - but my friend Jennifer asked in a comment how to get involved in a food group - so I wanted to address that.

I think everyone should put together a food group! It is the best! I was lucky that someone dropped out of one and I just took their place but I think it would be easy to put one together. Get three friends (I really think four is the best number) who have similar family size to yours and get them excited about it. I know it doesn't work for everyone, the girl who dropped out of our food group did it because her husband and kids were picky eaters. Then have each person get four casserole dishes (we got ours at the Corell sp? store at the VF Factory Mall - they were less than $4.00 a piece) and then every time you meet you just gather all of your ingredients or food that you made and trade. Have a set time each week - we do Tuesday so that you have Monday to plan and shop - and then dinner is set for the rest of the week.

Anyway - here are my recipes - I'm being honest - I don't really use the recipe for either of these so feel free to take liberties with the sauce proportions etc...:

Tender and Tangy Spare Ribs

2-4 lbs of country style ribs

1 cup vinegar
2/3 c ketchup
1/2 c brown sugar
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp. mustard
1 tsp. paprika

Brown ribs on all sides in a large skillet or Dutch oven with lid. Combine remaining ingredients in bowl and mix. Pour over browned ribs. Cook on medium-low heat for 2 - 2 1/2 hours. They will be so tender the meat will just fall off the bone. This recipe also works well in a crock pot - cook all ingredients on LOW for 6 hours.

Grandma Roper's Potato Salad

5 lb bag potatoes
1 c mayonnaise
1 c buttermilk
1/4 c chopped (fine) parsley (the plain curly kind)
1/4 c chopped (fine) green onion
salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes; cool. Peel and dice. Combine mayonnaise and buttermilk to make dressing. Pour over potatoes. Add parsley and chives and salt and pepper to taste.