Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Frosty has a Bad Day....

The cousins came over today, and I've been wanting to do a snowman. Our neighbors have a huge snowmammoth with green toxic waste all over, and it makes me laugh every time I drive by. Awesome. Something about being in the desert for so long brought back the old nostalgia of Frosty, and I thought we'd have a go.

The problem with the nostalgia is that snow, and a big ball of it, is really heavy! After having the Blue Team (Noah and Abigail) roll the base, and the Red Team (Eli) roll the middle, it was clear to Team Mom, that there was no way that we were gonna get the middle on top of the base - even with all of us pushing.

So, a la Calvin and Hobbes, we just left it there. I didn't really want a decapitated snowman though, so we tried to make it look like he was getting a sunburn tanning in our yard. Thank you food storage taco seasoning! It added just the right touch!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Holy Crock Pot Batman!

My Crock pot died this holiday season. It has lasted for 10 years, and we have done amazing things with it. So, in my post holiday glow, I wondered what a good crock pot would cost me. I think that Rival ones are somewhere between $20 - $50.

I have been dabbling in cooking lately - using "The New Best Recipe" book as my guide to culinary wonders. I wasn't really taught how to cook, and certainly not how to distinguish between pieces of meats (chuck, tenderloin, rib eye, rib nose???) or what a fresh anything is supposed to look like. I take that back. If you husk corn and push on a kernel, it should about hit you in the eye. Other than that, cooking has been a mystery just too complicated to discover.

The Best Recipe Book, however, gets down to the science of cooking by gathering a whole bunch of recipes, trying them all, and then picking which one is the best. I have had rave reviews about my cooking, and I've really started to enjoy whipping things up. Consulting my book, it advises that a good 7 quart Dutch Oven/ Roaster should have a heavy bottom, and recommends the one made by Le Creuset. It runs about $150.

Okay, MAJOR sticker shock to my system there, but that is NOTHING, I say it again NOTHING compared to what I found linked to a "terrific" beef stew recipe. Can you guess the price of the lovely one pictured here? I will let the sticker shock you as it did for me by clicking here. WHO ON EARTH WOULD BUY IT!!!? I think Paris Hilton could afford it, but I just don't see her bubbling and broiling things in her Chanel cook's apron. I'm wondering which vacation I would have to pass up in order to buy it. Am I the only one who doesn't know about this stuff??

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Bagel!

Happy Birthday to my darling sister Reagan! She is 29 today and I just love her to pieces. I had a MUCH better slideshow in the works, but Abigail decided to start a session of Club Penguin which erased it effectively.

I love you Bagel! Enjoy some of my favorite memories from the not so distant past.

Love you lil' Sis!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

And One Hour Later...

The kids finally got to see Santa. This is a big deal you see, because I do not have pictures of me with Santa. It is what my mother calls a "childhood scar" which is supposed to be related to my own children when they don't get everything that THEY want. "This will give you a hardship to tell your own kids!"

Aside from Letters to Santa and the Talking Tree that was outside the ZCMI, I didn't have any real contact with the famous Claus. I have corrected this in my own children's upbringing - and usually it's a fun experience. But this year, it happened rather late in the season. MAN! If you would like to commit suicide and not leave a trace, just try to stand in line to see Santa on the 23rd of December. You will get mowed over in a second and left for dead as a parade of strollers passes over your lifeless body.

After coaxing my kids into Sunday clothes, "But we wore these yeeeeesterdaaaaaay!" I hauled all of us to the University Mall for a quick pick with the Jolly Old Elf. Who was very Jolly dang busy today. Based on the Kiddie Kandid's bag that came with our VERY expensive pic, I figure that the store must make 75% of their profit from this little enterprise alone. Talk about your Cash Cow!

Of course, it is Utah, and in the spirit of "do with what you have, or do without" no one raised an eyebrow to the many who said, "No thanks, I'll just take my own picture," and smartly bypassed the professional photographer to snag a few photo ops with their own cameras. Lucky for us, one of the groups ahead of us had 7 children. That made the line move along at a much faster clip than the hoards of first time parents with immaculately dressed babies.

It was over in a second, and I was sorely tempted to ask Santa what kind of "product" and curling iron he uses to keep those side curls "just so", and whether his workshop ran out of working shoe elves or what kind of bargain he'd struck with Birkenstock. But I resisted, and now I have irrefutable proof that I was a good mom to my kids. I took you to see SANTA! In PROVO, during the HOLIDAYS! I don't know what kind of recompense you get for that... maybe extra holly on my grave, or a saintly entry in each of their journals. Who knows. But the pic is worth the thousand words that I am now entirely too tired to write. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

If Its Not Scottish....

it's CRRRRAP! Thank you Mike Meyers for pointing out the obvious. I claim a proud Scottish and Danish heritage which also helps explain why I am cheap and mean. But this time of year is Scottish shortbread weather, and I have just proudly stuck my first offering of the season out in the garage to cool. It is a ridiculously easy recipe, and I haven't met the person yet who didn't love it. One ingrate once said, "It's like a large Lorna Doone!" No, it's not. It's Scottish and therefore may not be compared to anything you fool!

My Great-Gramma, made it -(presumably having watched her mom make it - and she came straight from Scotland), my Grandma Grace made it, my mom made it, and now I make it. I can't say that there are too many holiday food traditions in my family, but this is definitely one of them. One day, I might let Abigail learn how to make it.

My mom says, "Isn't the dough good!" and it is. It makes it hard to resist taking a little pinch off here, and a little pinch off there, and ultimately having enough to justify baking up into nice huge shortbread rounds. In her youth, my mom once ate a whole shortbread cake round that had been chilling, pinch by pinch. Then she thought she'd remedy the calorie intake by taking some syrup of ipecac.

I believe she said that it took a few hours for the ipecac to kick in, but then she barfed until she was 'bout blue in the face and had a headache that lasted for two days. She agreed that she should have just gone on a very very very long walk instead. If you would like to try some of this divine-ness, here is the recipe. It's great to let the kids decorate the tops, and will keep everyone busy on a cold winters eve. And if there is anything missing from my garage, I'll know it was someone who visits here!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Egg Noggin'

There are times when the children align with a parent over something rather significant. This year it is egg nog.

Me, well, I don't care for it. Wouldn't cross the street for it. Have had PLENTY of gross egg nog, and don't get that nostalgic feeling when I see it in the grocery store.

Matthew, on the other hand, LOVES it. He loves to drink it, guzzle it, dream about it. This year I got him a few egg noggy things. Like egg nog salt water taffy. He's gnawed on it here and there, and now, a new variety of drink that looks like a festive alcoholic put it together. Southern Comfort. Isn't that, like, a whiskey? They have "Traditional" in a black container, and "Vanilla Spice" in the pagan red. He goes more for the spice. As does Benjamin. "Can I have some milk nog?" Blech. You should see them, the two of them, just guzzling away with the most contented look on their faces. I don't understand it, I don't try to understand it, it's just one of those things that IS.

Abigail, it seems, is more like mom. Egg nog smegg nog. She doesn't seem to think anything about it. If the two of us were the only ones in the house, it would probably go bad (though how would WE know it?). It just doesn't hold the same appeal. I did catch her digging in the pantry and eating a handful of chocolate chips straight out of the bag though. WHEW! Now there's a girl who takes after her mom! What can I say, 'cept THATS my girl!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Abigail is Eight!

Abigail is 8! She had a fantastic party a week ago with some of her friends. Here she is with Lisa, who made her a horse birthday cake. We made reindeer cookies and had an elf tossing tournament. We also incorporated a fun poem at gift time, that my mom did at our parties when we were young. It's a way for the birthday person to give a wish back to the gift giver:

Heavy, heavy hang over thy poor head (gift hangs above head) what do you (birthday person) wish (gift giver) with a BUMP on your head!?

Then the kid drops the present on their head. A heavy bump doesn't ever get a good wish, but a light one usually does. It's funny to hear the wishes, "I wish that you would get everything you want for Christmas!" or "I wish that you could have a REAL horse!"

But, now this weekend, she's getting baptized. Does anyone have some stellar advice for making this a truly memorable day? She my first and only girl, and I'd like her to have a wonderful experience.

She turned 8 a week ago, and we are getting ready for the big day. I am charging the camera, getting ready for family, breaking out the soda dispenser (modeled here by Reagan this past Thanksgiving), packing up a little bag of stuff to bring, and trying to organize what we'll do after. Let me know if you have anything to add!

Worth 5 min of my time...

There are some prizes that go with this, so I thought I'd take a shot. Try it yourself! Chicks who Click.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Southwest casserole

For Mish who wanted it too....

Lisa's Southwest casserole
Preheat oven 350

1 lb ground beef browned and seasoned

Mix ground beef
2 8oz cans of tomato sauce
can of drained corn
1 pkg taco seasoning

Spray 9X13 pan with cooking spray
line with flour tortillas

put on beef mixture
cover with 2nd layer if tortillas

blend cream if celery soup with 1/4 C milk, pour over tortillas

Sprinkle with grated mexi cheese

Bake 25 min or until edges are brown. Serve it up!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

People with OCD should not read....

I should stay the heck away from books. It is totally ruining my life. I thought that I would just get a novel to peck at before bedtime. Since then, I've gone through sleepless nights and hours of non-productive reading. I'm like a stinkin' drunk in a bar. I just get going and then can't stop. People who have loaned me books ask incredulously, "Didn't I just give that book to you... like day before yesterday?" Yes.

Reagan gave Matthew "The Pillars of the Earth" for his birthday, and I started reading it for him. Gads. 1,000 pages later and I feel like I can finally go to bed. I was up 'til 4 am trying to plow through it. It's not an easy read, due to length, and it doesn't have tons of depth, but plenty of rape,murder, and brutality. At many points it's just plain depressing. And it doesn't help you get your laundry done, or the house clean, and can tend to make you late for appointments. Grrrrr.

So, I'm back in the land of the living and hoping to win at free blog giveaways. Yeeees, so much better use of my time...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Living in Utah

This one is for Mary Henninger who asked how it was living in Utah. This is just my own experience, so feel free to add your own observations. I'll just give a few pros and cons:

1. No one schedules birthdays on FHE or Sunday.
2. The seasons change
3. The Scout program is really strong with more bling per outfit than South Harlem
4. Costco and Sam's Club are ubiquitous, buying in bulk is standard here.
5. Being nice isn't such a rarity. You get great customer service.
6. You have access to all things Mormon.
7. Everyone knows your name in your neighborhood and kids go outside and play regularly (at least in my neighborhood.)
8. People sincerely offer their help, and will watch your kids, loan you a ladder and hold your baby while you go discipline the toddler.

1. Every Sale table has been cleared out long before you got there. A new grocery store opened near here and I saw well-dressed mothers with 6 well mannered children who were maneuvering huge grocery carts of sale items that were gone when I went to the shelves. There are lots of early birds here.
2. No one sings in church. Well, not enough people, I should say.
3. Church has more fashion extremes than I've ever seen anywhere else. From boots to flip-flops, and mom's wearing dresses that would be more appropriate on a daughter. Or a midget.
4. Your Home Teacher will cut you off in traffic.
5. Ostentatious houses that rival Beverly Hills
6. Being pregnant isn't so special, and about 30% of the population is. You are more likely to be asked, "What number is this?" than, "Oh! Are you having a boy or a girl!"
7. Suburbans that can't park and will take up TWO parking spaces. And they all like to park next to each other.

It's where we live though, and we're having a great time. Feel free to come on out for a visit!