Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fall Pictures, for your viewing pleasure

I'm pretending it's Friday today.
Mostly because Friday will consist of lots of packing, last minute prep, and travel.
*my dog just fell off the top of the couch! hahahaha!*
So, in honor of the possibility of me not posting for several days, here are some pictures to keep you happy!!!

Tri 7 Card Ceremony.
This is Scott's class. Can you find him? (3rd row center)

They had a yummy lunch with the ceremony and I got to go kid-free!
Isn't my hubby handsome? I'm so in love with him!

Some of his buddies.
Brandon, Scott, Michael, Jaron.
Don't they look sharp? We have become such great friends with these people (and their wives)!!!
Unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of the rest of his buddies. Oh well.

Tractors at Rombach's Pumpkin Patch.

Bubs really hates looking at the camera.

I just thought this was funny and cute.

Ooh, sort of looking in the general direction of the camera! 

"She think's my tractor's sexy..."

Our ward Trunk or Treat!
Cowboy hats on cute boys: hot hot hot!!!
I'm in love with this picture. Love my boys!!

Bubs and his friend "Nana"

It was freezing and windy that day. But look at that sky!

Getting ready for trick or treating!

Cutest frog ever!

"When can we get candy!?"

"Please, Daddy? Candy?"
*I did take a picture with Bubs and Scott, but it was blurry and it was the only one I took. Bummer.

Happy Thanksgiving next week! I hope everyone has a wonderful and delicious holiday!!
Be back...someday!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

YW and Cookies

This week has been crazy busy! 
I've already been confused twice on what day it actually was. It's only Wednesday.
Yesterday I made cookies for our Young Women in Excellence program. 

As I sat and watched each of our young women speak on their chosen topic and then on their personal progress experiences, I felt such a deep and overwhelming love for all of them! I have absolutely loved working in young women. I have learned so much! I had no idea the amount of work it takes for...everything. I have learned so much from the girls and about the girls, and I've realized that even an age difference of not that many years can present a whole set of different trials. I really, truly, loved last night. After just over a year in this calling, I am finally starting to figure out who I am as a leader and I'm starting to really learn from and understand the girls. 

Now, they better not release me anytime soon!!!

Back to the cookies. 
People, I'm really good at cookies.
I don't publicly boast about many things I do well in life (the list is too long. kidding.), I only boast to my hubby who politely nods his head and agrees. Ha!
But I do boast about my cookies.
I know they're bomb.
You know they're bomb. (if you've had them)
I don't know one person who has tried them and said "eh, they're just okay. I have a better recipe." 
Nope. Hasn't happened yet.
I make some of the best darn cookies you will ever taste in your life. I've nailed the recipe and I have it memorized. I've perfected the texture, flavor, and art of chocolate chip cookies. 

That is all.

Oh, except that this morning I thought it would be fun to make waffles from scratch. As I went along measuring all the ingredients with a 1/4 c. measuring cup, I didn't realize until I was adding the milk, the last ingredient, that my 1/4 cup was actually a 1/3 cup. Somehow they still turned out pretty good. Maybe because the ratios were consistent. Who knows. I do know that I'll I've never, ever make that mistake when I make cookies. 

Happy Wednesday and cookies everyone!!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Airplane Arsenal for a 2 year old Boy

Last week I posed a question about entertainment for my almost 2 year old (busy) boy on a plane ride, with a very long layover. Here are some of my favorite responses:

Brian Elephant tranquilizer dart. Fixed it!

-Thank you, Brian, for always bringing strange humor to every situation. (he's my bro-in-law)

Rm colored pipe cleaners....seriously, you can find them in the craft sections of walmart or target. They will keep any boy busy for hours.

Whitney Moving sidewalks. Depending where your layover is, all you have to do is go back and forth on them. 
Otherwise, tons of yummy snacks and touch screens (I know, totally bad combo) keep P occupied for hours.

Gloria Well in my day it was Benadryl, or something to make them sleep , but don't panic...something he hasn't played with before, new surprises, sucker to help with the ears, little tiny paper cups that you keep putting surprises to eat in,a couple at a time, this worked for a grandchild, and he had tiny baby sippy drinks (his words)

Alaina  yep, we used benadryl. You'll have to do some research; there's one of those children's medicines that uses melatonin instead of the traditional sleep medicine, which is more natural b/c it's in the brain already (as I'm sure you know). We just used lots of snacks. OH! TSA TIP! You can bring ANYTHING food/drink related on a plane for a lap child, which B still counts as since he's under 2 (you're lucky!), or even a young child passenger. So, if you need juice, water, etc. just tell them it's for him, bring it in his sippy cups and they can use a test strip in it then they'll let you through. We always bring an extra, empty sippy cup too, so we can do something new along the way when there's nowhere to dump out an old sippy. TSA and airport people are SO nice to you when you're traveling with a little one! N's flown 3 times! 

-Thanks Alaina! What a great idea about the extra sippy!!!

Thank you everyone for the funny, smart, and cool ideas! 
After doing some "research", collaborating with my own brain, chatting with my sister in law (who is embarking on the same trip, via car, with 4 kids under 5, she's a saint!), and shopping like crazy, here is what I came up with!

From the words of my husband: "Uh, I think you might have plenty of stuff..." 
Me: "You think I'm spoiling him a little?"
Him: "Uh, YES! More than just a little!" 

My Airplane Arsenal includes:
-a coloring book and crayons
-a book of stickers
-several $1 books
-silly putty (can I take it on a plane??)
-a couple cool balls (one not pictured)
-pipe cleaners
-a travel size magna doodle
-a noise making tractor (so fun to try and take away from him at the store, must mean he'll love it!)
-glow stick bracelets
-a couple wind up toys
-3 train cars (also hated me for taking those away)
-a 5 pack of new hot wheels cars, including a fire truck (thanks, Aldi!!!)
-a homemade car cozy! Oh yes, I did make that! (with tons of help from my saintly sister in law)

*I plan on pulling toys out one at a time to make them last as long as possible! 

In addition to the toys, I went a little crazy on snacks:
-pirate's booty
-fruit snacks
-stick crackers and cheese dip
-granola bars
-peanut butter and cheese crackers (mostly for me!)
-and of course, a few pieces of candy

*A tip for snacks: Put small amounts of assorted snacks into a bead organizer or tackle box. Then he can pick what he wants and it's all right there. (thanks, Kathryn!)

  Darice 17-Compartment Bead Organizer, Clear

Don't judge on the quality of snacks. It's a special occasion.
Though it will likely stay in our house for awhile afterward.
I'm good at making excuses.

In addition to the toys and snacks, we have several movies and games for our laptop and ipods:
-Emperor's New Groove
-Finding Nemo

We decided to forgo the purchasing of some sort of tablet for now. 

So, do I have enough entertainment!? Haha!!

Now your assignment: If you have a child under the age of 3, what is their favorite app or game to play on an ipod or android phone? Please let me know! There's too many apps to choose from. Thanks!

Hopefully my list will help someone else out and hopefully we'll have a successful and happy trip! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post-election thoughts & Grandma's Clam Chowder

Quick Thoughts on the Election:

-It's been interesting to see the "true colors" of people I thought I knew. I will never, ever, understand why people love Obama so much. What part of "4 trillion dollars in debt and millions of people unemployed" do you not understand?
-My hubby was right when he said "I hope Romney wins, but he won't. Our nation still needs to get a whole lot worse before it can start getting better." Makes me wonder what my children's lives will be like 20 years from now.
-What's done is done. We can't change the past. I did all I could do by voting, and so did you. Thus, we can't be mad about something we can't change. Now we just have to live with the consequences and pray.
-I feel a greater need to follow the prophet's counsel and build up our food storage, 72 hour kits, and become more self-reliant.
-I'm especially grateful for my testimony, for the Gospel truth in my life, for the Prophet of our church, for local leaders of our church, and for the knowledge I have that things will in fact get worse before they get better.

Now, onto more delicious things...

Comfort food for another cold, rainy, day. Or to feel better about the past 24 hours of election day.
I realize that not everyone loves, or even likes, clam chowder. I am not one of those people.
Thick, rich, creamy, sweet and salty, clam chowder is one of my all time favorite cold weather meals.
It reminds me of my Grandma, although I'm not sure she ever made it for me.
The way I received the recipe is very indicative of how my Grandma cooked: a little bit of this, some of that, mix together and walah.
I've added a few notes here and there, and once again, here's another example of a well loved, well used, crumbly, scribbled, stained recipe.

I have learned a couple things since the first time I started cooking this soup:

1. Use brand name clams
2. Make a Roux.
3. The veggie measurements don't matter too much. 

First off, brand name clams. Snow's is the best. I tried Geisha one time to save some money and there were mysterious black parts included in the meat. I don't know much about clam meat, but I know it wasn't very pretty and it bothered me. So now I use Snow's. You can use minced or chopped depending on your preference of size. Sometimes I use a combination of both, sometimes I don't. But I usually feel like chopped gives too many large chunks. Also, the recipe calls for 2 cans, I always use three. I like a little more meat and clammy flavor. If you don't, just use two cans. 

Second, a roux. If you're not familiar with what a roux is, google it. Basically, it's combining equal parts flour and fat (butter, shortening, etc) in a saucepan and cooking the flour out. In my experience, a roux is cooked adequately when it starts getting really thin and watery feeling and starts turning darker brown. However, when I researched it, instructions say to melt the butter and then add the flour. I usually melt them together. Whatever works for you. Then I add in the liquid (milk, water, broth), and bring it all to a boil. It thickens quickly and smoothly and is perfect for sauces and gravies. Before I knew what a roux was, and how to make it, I didn't ever cook the flour out enough so my cream sauce ended up lumpy. Now that I know, it turns out perfectly smooth and thick! Also, the flour binds to the milk somehow and prevents curdling. I read it somewhere and can't remember why, but it's true. 

Third, measurements. I'm talking about measurements for the veggies. The recipe doesn't specify an amount for carrots, and never has, and everything else is about 1 cup. I've found that I can use numbers of carrots, potatoes, and celery, without measuring it and it's always turned out fine. 

And now, here's the recipe!

Clam Chowder
2-3 cans minced or chopped clams
1 c. chopped onion (1 medium size)
chopped carrots (2 medium-large, peeled)
1 c. chopped celery (2-3 hearts)
2 c. diced, peeled, potatoes (2-3 medium size)

Drain clam juice over the veggies in a large stockpot. Fill water to the top of veggies. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Cream Sauce:
3/4 c. butter
3/4 c. flour
4 c. half & half (or 1 can evaporated milk, 1 c. milk, and the rest water)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. sugar

Melt the butter and then add the flour in a saucepan. Create a roux and cook to desired color (I like golden brown). Whisk in the milk mixture. Bring to a boil and allow to thicken and get creamy. Add the spices. When desired thickness is reached, pour cream sauce into pot with veggies. Add the clams and bring to a boil to thicken more if desired (5 minutes or so). 

I find this recipe to be really simple and quite easy once you get the hang of a roux for the cream sauce. Everything comes together in about 30 minutes if you're quick at peeling and chopping veggies. I love serving and dipping crusty artisan bread, like Ciabatta or Sourdough, in the soup. Enjoy!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mayo v. Miracle Whip: The Great Debate

Folks, sometimes I get in a mood. The kind of mood where I make things up in my head, compose letters, scripts, stories, and responses to teasing. These things are generally funny and slightly clever, to me. It is during these times that I usually feel a need to blog.

Today we have Mayo v. Miracle Whip.

Some people may think, like I did in my immature, inexperienced, newly married life, that these two things are interchangeable, nearly identical, and one in the same. 
I am here to tell you, they are not!
My first glimpse of the vast differences of these products came by way of my sister in law at a summer bbq several years ago. I was hosting and planning and said we would have all the condiments for burgers: ketchup, mustard, mayo, etc. But what I meant was Miracle Whip. When everyone arrived, she was disappointed to find that my "mayo" was not really mayo at all, but indeed Miracle Whip, something I believe she was not fond of.

After that experience I thought perhaps I should start buying Mayo to see if it was better, worse, or nearly the same.

What about Miracle Whip? 
Miracle Whip is something I grew up on. 
Miracle Whip to us was mayo. We used the names interchangeable. We never saw real mayo in our home unless someone else bought it and left it there. 
Miracle Whip went on flat, round, eggs (fried, really).
Miracle Whip went on sandwiches.
Miracle Whip went on burgers, and in fry sauce, and in recipes. 
Mayo did not exist.

For over a year, I continued to purchase Mayo, thinking that maybe I would like it one day. We managed to make it through a big, round, container, before I decided to buy Miracle Whip again. That decision diminished slightly when I needed to make a dip with Mayo. Enter, small bottle of Mayo.
Then my mom came to visit. 
For breakfast one morning she asked if we had MW and if I still dipped my eggs in it. Of course I responded: "yes! I love MW on my eggs! But, no, we don't have any..."
From that time forth, I have realized: I do not like mayo. 

Mayo is too creamy, too eggy, too smooth and fattening tasting. MW is tangy and delicious and many other things. However, when disguised on a Subway sandwich, mayo is completely edible.
While I may upon occasion host Mayo in my fridge for various reasons, I would like you to know that I much prefer MW. 
I can't wait to dip my flat, round, egg in some tomorrow morning! 

...why yes, I did have a Mayo v. MW photo shoot on my kitchen table. 
It's been one of those days...