Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Secret's Out!

And I mean WAY out. I haven't zipped my pants in weeks, I ate fried grits topped with strawberry jelly and whipped cream for dinner last night, and I've spent most of the last week on the couch. I ate a half a pound of swiss cheese in 2 days, and now can't get near the stuff. I spent two weeks devouring every crunchy vegetable I could get my hands on, and now can't stand the sight of a head of lettuce or a beautiful bowl of steamed spinach (sorry Aunt LoLo.) But pears and oranges...oh my, they're divine, aren't they?

So yeah. Secret's out!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Passing of a Giant

Today President Gordon Bitner Hinckley passed away, at age 97, from natural causes. He was surrounded by his family.

President Hinckley was and is any amazing man, an amazing soul. He never stopped moving forward. He traveled more than half a million miles during his time in office. Church membership rose from 9 million to more than 13 million. He oversaw the construction of dozens of new temples, all over the world.

He was a man of God. A man with a strong testimony, an unshakable faith. He was called of God to be our prophet, and now he has been called of God to come home.

Bless you, President Hinckley.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sad Story

So it's been a long time since I posted! Our computer "lost" the video and audio drivers, so we tried to reformat using a Dell "easy button." No go- it froze. We spent all night wondering "What happens when you hard crash a computer in the middle of a reset?" In the morning, we decided it was worth a shot, so then did a full-on re-format. That went fine, but still no drivers, can't get an IP address, and Windows needs updating. So we installed the 105 Windows updates since our version of XP came out, spent 2 hours on the phone with tech support to get an IP address, then went to search for drivers. Installed all of those...and still no movies. Now we're missing a video decoder? Do you KNOW how important movies are to a certain small someone that lives here? Even though she gets one a day, it's really high on her list of priorities! (Does that make me a bad mom? Hope not! We had lots of plans for her- no tv, won't be a picky eater, etc. So of course, she wakes up asking for candy and movies, and will only eat pancakes, chicken nuggets, plain tortillas, soy beans, plain vanilla yogurt, white rice, noodles, and shredded wheat. We tried!)

So, computer is still broken, guest bathroom sink still leaks, Christmas decorations are boxed up but boxes are sitting in the garage, and I haven't vacuumed upstairs in a LONG while.

But...we're healthy, happy, and willing to try again tomorrow!

How are you?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Baba?

Ernie loves to sing songs- we've had to limit her to 4 at naptime and bedtime, just to get us out of there! She loves to sing them in the car, and she especially loves to flip through the Children's Songbook to find her favorites. Since she doesn't actually sing yet, she's learned "actions" and signs to almost all of them.

"Baba" is one of our favorites. She named it herself- Baba means Bob, which is Grandpa A's fabulous stroller. Bob means she gets to go for a walk, so Baba means "walk." So Baba the song means "Pioneer Children Sang as they Walked." Yeah? I love her logic! Check out the video, and please excuse Dad's exciting camera work :o)

Another update on the Ernie front: for anyone involved in Ernie's long love-affair with bees, we're entering a new one: stars. She's finding them everywhere! She can't say star yet, but she uses her little version of "star" from "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." She pinches her first fingers to her thumbs, exclaiming "Mama! More!" whenever she finds them. It's pretty cute!





Thursday, January 10, 2008

Beans!

Check out The Chow Review for my famous bean recipe. Because life isn't complete without beans (and how else are you supposed to feed 6-8 people for $1.50??)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Rolo Pretzel Treats

I know I already blogged about this, but don't forget these easy treats! This is what we gave out to neighbors, friends, ward members, piano students, etc. It was really easy for Ernie to help, but not so easy for her to see the bags of treats on the table all week. She ended up trying to give a bag to everyone that came to our home, every time they came, in the hopes that after THEY got a bag, she'd get one too!

Beaded Eyeglass Chain

Here is a project I learned from a friend at a "Super Saturday" enrichment activity.

Supplies:
7 strand, .018 diameter, nylon coated stainless steel beading wire (Avalon is one brand), cut to desired length

seed beads and various larger beads for interest- maybe 2 tubes worth? It takes a lot.

2 crimp beads

rubber "eyeglass holders" for ends

Starting at one end, thread one crimp bead, followed by 10-13 seed beads, then one of the eye glass holders. Thread end of wire back through crimp bead, and hold in place while you crimp bead together with needle nose pliers.

Follow with a few larger beads to hide tail of wire, and continue stringing beads in whatever pattern you like. When you come to the other end, thread a few larger beads, one crimp bead, 10-13 seed beads, and the eye glass holder, and thread end through crimp bead and the larger beads. Crimp bead. Use baby nail clippers to cut any wire tails off that are too long to be hidden under the beads.

This project takes about an hour- those seed beads don't take up much space! If you can't find the supplies at your local craft store, try a bead store. They'll even have tubes of pre-mixed beads (this mix was called "Cranberry Fizz" at Beadman.)

Bead and Wire Necklaces

Again, we were in such a hurry to wrap gifts, I didn't take pictures! So here is a picture of my first try, complete with crazy rainbow colors, and the crazy kinky wire I had on hand before I purchased a better gage.

I found my instructions here

This was a really fun, easy, beautiful way to make necklaces. I even got lucky and picked school colors for my cousin, on accident! I picked up all the supplies at Jo-Anns, and used screw clasps because that's what I had on hand from previous beading endeavors. If you like, you can use crimp beads on either sides of the colored beads to hold them in place, rather than looping around.

I don't know if I do it right, but the easiest way for me to crimp beads is to squeeze it once with the needle nose pliers, then holding the squashed bead on a side with the pliers press it against the counter at an angle to start a new bend and bend the bead in half.

Enjoy the tutorial- the author gave me permission to post it. She's a lovely person!

Bag Holder

I made these bag holders for all the aunts and uncles, from fabric I've been collecting for the last 15 years. (I had no idea how much I had, until I started to organize it the other day!) Of course, I didn't take any pictures of the nice ones we gave as gifts, so here is my "first attempt" that hangs in our laundry room and holds many, many bags.

Cut one piece of fabric to desired length, and either 2 ribbons or two pieces of elastic. Ribbons should be longer than width of fabric, elastic should be shorter.

If you're going to use elastic, hem both shorts sides, then zig-zag elastic, while holding it taut. Sew a tie (to hang it up) at one end, and sew into tube. Turn, and you're finished!

If you'll be using ribbon to cinch this together, hem long sides, then sew casings on both short ends, and thread anti-fray-treated ribbons through. (I like to burn my ends, others use clear nail polish or other commercial products.) Sew long seam together, and turn.

You know, it's almost embarrassing to write out how simple these gifts were to make. I'm the one at baby showers with the homemade blanket that when the ladies ask "Oh my! How long did this take you to make?" I reply "an hour" and then feel like I've hurt their feelings. I craft like I cook- wonderful, delicious things that are thrifty, neat, and not too time-consuming. Does that make it a lesser gift? Perhaps, but for right now I'm hoping I can still use the "young child at home-busy church calling-more home time than shopping time-want to be thrifty" card. And trust that people will know how much we love them, even if we can't spend oodles of time and money on each gift. Because when you give out gifts and treats to 74 people, and want to take a mostly-homemade gifts pledge, time gets tight! :o) (Only six of those were store bought.)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Roll-Ups

This is one of my favorites- it's a pencil roll! It's great for seminary kids (scripture markers), kids on trips, and even engineering students (my brother insists he's going to be the envy of all his college buddies!) I made a tall one, with 1/4 inch pockets, for a friend who knits- now she can carry all her knitting supplies in one place!

Basically, cut two pieces of fabric to the size you want, and sew right sides together with two ribbons INSIDE (only short tails will be visible for now.) Clip corners, turn (look! Now your ribbons are on the outside!), press bottom half up, and sew close to the edge to make the whole thing a little stiffer and close up your hole. I made my pocket seams about 1/2 inch apart, for small colored pencils, but you could leave a big pocket for an eraser, or anything you like. I've seen these used for silverware, makeup brushes, and anything else you can imagine!

Oh, and this is my favorite fabric right now. It was originally a crib sheet at a discount store- so far it's become Ernie' FAVORITE pillow, and 8 of these pencil rolls. Pretty good for $3 worth of fabric, right? For any thrifty shoppers out there, I'm telling you- check out sheets for massive amounts for fabric for just a few dollars!

Marble Magnets

These are magnets, made for all the ladies who help out in Relief Society. I also made a set for my sister-in-law, with her name spelled out.

It's:
flat marbles (floral section of the craft store)
clear, strong glue (I used liquid nails, but others use silicone glue)
letter stickers (you can trace the marbles onto pictures and use those underneath as well)
strong magnets (craft store, near the model airplanes? Yeah-weird.)

If you use pictures, the marbles give a cool "magnified" effect, and the glue evens out all the imperfections on the underside of the marble. I just didn't have the patience to cut out that many circles, and my craft punch was just *this* much too big! They come together really quick- just get everything ready, line 'em up, and let 'er rip!






Christmas In Review

I promised a run-down of what happened in our Santa's workshop prior to the big day, and I'm crossing my fingers that I remembered to take pictures! Stay tuned for posts.

Radiatori with Shrimp, Chive Butter, Butternut Squah, and Wild Mushrooms

For my version of Heartline Cafe's wonderful pasta dish, head over to The Chow Review!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Wrapping it Up

Here we sit- the rest of the house is asleep since most of us are leaving before 7 tomorrow to various destinations in various states. Christmas is over and packed up, the Wii , the sealing and beautiful reception over. All that's left is our LAUNDRY! So, here we sit at 11:00 PM, knowing that we'll set our alarms for 6 and could barely drag ourselves out of bed at 7 this morning. We couldn't have done it earlier, because J and I were on VACATION! Sweet Nana insisted that we take a night away from Ernie, so we got online and booked a room at a Bed and Breakfast in Sedona. That way we couldn't back out! We left yesterday morning, headed to the Grand Canyon. Wow, is that place cold in January! It was 28 degrees out, and we figured 30 mph gusts of wind. Please see picture...or not. It's your retinas!

After an hour or two of driving to a photo point, hopping out to take pictures, racing back to the car to warm up and driving to the next photo point we made our way down to Sedona. He'd never seen the Grand Canyon, and neither one of us had been to Sedona. I was not prepared for how absolutely heart-wrenchingly beautiful it is. It's almost other-worldly. Our B&B backed up to the Coconino National Forest, so we were 10 feet from a pass through gate and a trail leading miles in. We did a quick hike when we arrived and saw yucca, creosote bushes, juniper, prickly pear, and rabbits.

This is Jayson with the neon green lichen that surprised us so much. This is Arizona- arid desert! Why is there lichen?


We found dinner and finished off the night watching movies that didn't involve singing animals. Well, almost. We started watching the Sci-Fi channel's "Tin Man," but after about 30 minutes I was so keyed up I was almost crying. I don't handle "jump scenes" very well- guess nothing's changed there. So we turned on all the lights, and found Care Bears episodes on YouTube. That brought back memories! We got ready for bed, and with all the lights on I was ready to face it again. I spent most of the time with my head under the blankets and Jayson reading the closed captioning to me, and occasionally saying "Yeah, you don't want to see this." It wasn't even that scary- it was just things popping around corners that I didn't expect.

We woke up early to take a quick hike during sunrise, and made it up to the top of the nearest rock. Breakfast tasted really great afterwards- fresh muffins, yogurt parfait, eggs, bacon, watermelon, and potato pancake, with hot cocoa and fresh squeezed orange juice, while we watched birds and rabbits gather around the feeders outside the glass doors. Good thing we did that hike! Just in case the calorie balance still wasn't...balanced, we hit the Thunder Mt. trailhead and hiked around Chimney rock for an hour. What a beautiful hike! Every turn brought a new view, and sometimes entirely new plants!

We saw the "art village" Tlaquepaque (a collection of 40 art galleries) and were sorely tempted by a Frank Jordan watercolor painting. He has a way of using water colors that makes the brightest colors we'd ever seen, and outlining in black so the picture just pops. Of course, how tempted could we REALLY have been by a $2,400 price tag? So we weren't tempted...just dreaming. (This is a picture of me with the kissing frog. I don't know why- it just is! We get a little crazy with no Ernie around to keep us grounded.)


We drove out to see the chapel built out of the rocks, by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright's. It was amazing, but we didn't go inside. By that time, it was time for lunch- for a full review of how much we ADORED our meal see my post at The Chow Review.


We headed out of town towards Montezuma's Castle Monument- a dwelling structure built into a limestone cliff by the Sinagua people. It was absolutely amazing. I can't imagine how they ever accomplished it.

And just in case you go, keep this warning in mind!

On the way home we passed through Jerome, a mining town just clinging to the side of the Mingus Mountains. It's amazing- I don't know how those houses stay up!

And then, we were home. Ernie was very happy to see us, and we had a wonderful time. We leave tomorrow morning for our real home, and we'll all miss J's family. Especially Ernie will miss them- every room has another aunt, uncle, Nana, or Grandpa who is more than happy to put down whatever they were working on and play a silly game with her, or sing a song, read a book, or teach her where the "B" is on the keyboard. (When do I start getting freaked out by all these things she can do??) Luckily, they're already planning their next trip up to our area!