Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How to Make Cookies in Ten Minutes

The kids like to make cookies.  We all like to EAT cookies.

But most of the time my butter is either frozen or rock-hard from the refrigerator.  Which, actually, isn't that much different than frozen in terms of ease of baking.

If your butter looks like this when you go to nuke it

cookie bars

then I have a solution for you!  Plus, you'll have the entire batch in the oven in 10 minutes flat.
More details here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Meal Planning Monday

Well, Saturday was a bust errands-wise, so let's see what we can come up with for this week...considering that both my freezers are FULL, and I'd like to get them cleared out before mid-summer, I'm sure we can do something!

Sunday: We had potato-broccoli soup from the freezer, green salad, pesto pasta leftover from the night before (green garbanzo and basil pesto- very yummy!  Mimi eats these noodles by the bowlful.)  Oh, and garlic bread made from a loaf of Ezekial 4:9  bread that my dad bought me as a joke- a loaf of bread that's based on scripture?  Unfortunately, not even a thick smearing of butter, garlic, parmesan, and parsley could save it.  Oh, and cherry pie for dessert, with sweet cherries from last summer.  AMAZING.

Monday: leftover soup, salad, and I made bread this morning.

Tuesday: Meeting Wonder Daddy for dinner in town for dinner with friends.  Two men are planning this meal...they're going on the assumption that Italian food is best.  Because we have kids, and kids like pasta.  (I normally strip Mimi down to her skivvies when I serve her pasta with sauce... this should be great! :)  Seriously though, I'm excited- I get to talk to adults!

Wednesday: I know it's spring, but I think beans are in order.  I'm preparing a huge load of pintos for a ward party for my parents in 2 weeks, and I haven't made them in a while.  So beans, rice...and if I'm feeling ambitious during naptime, pao de quiejo.  I'll serve veggie sticks alongside, we have lots of carrots and celery to work through.

Thursday: Beans might make a second appearance.  I like to blend beans with salsa for a quick bean dip- Mimi especially adores this.  Maybe we'll have bean and cheese quesadillas?

Friday: Date night.  Oh yeah.

Saturday:  Hmm....Saturdays always get the short end of the stick, I think.  Wonder Daddy and Ernie have a breakfast date that morning with her preschool friends, and hopefully we'll be in the yard for the afternoon.  I know it's not very healthy etc.... but I think the kids might get barbecued hotdogs that night if the weather is nice, and we'll have a picnic on the lawn.  Smoothies for dessert- I've been blending up last summer's bounteous cherries, blueberries, and strawberries with a little soy milk, and some ground flax seed (because I have a Costco bucket of it that's only half-gone, that's why!!)  The kids LOVE these.  If we go shopping this week, I'll pick up some more kale or spinach and throw it in.  Can't wait for our spring garden to start producing our greens for us!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Making, Listening, Lightening

Aww man...I've actually been MAKING things this week, and have nothing to show you guys!

  • Made a pillow out of a t-shirt for a friend's boyfriend: he really liked it, I heard.  So that's good, right?
  • My daughter finished a doll she's been working on for...a long time.  I'm proud of her, can't wait for you guys to see that!  I think your kids would love to make one too.
  • I have 2 dolls currently in process- one I managed to sew her face on backwards (brilliant), and one still being designed for our lucky giveaway winner.  I'm pretty excited about that second doll, I'm working out the hair.
  • Made bread and yogurt and cookies and banana bread and bean dip and pesto pasta and braised kale... that was yummy stuff.  But again, no pictures.  (But I promise you I will show you how to get chocolate chip cookies from cupboard to oven in 10 minutes.  It's dangerous.  And tasty.)
I've been rehearsing with a small, temporary, women's choir for the last month to get a piece ready for a conference that happened yesterday- it was wonderful, especially after I checked my attitude at the door.  Seriously, I think I'm a totally mellow person and then BLAM I find out I have some serious baggage I need to chuck out the window.  So once I lightened my load, it was a great experience and I'm so glad I was able to sing with them.

38 and 24 Weeks
This really has nothing to do with anything, but it makes me laugh.  I was 3 months ahead of her, but we wanted to make sure Mimi and Siu Jeun got to "meet" :)  Summer 2008

AND, we were all supposed to bring a friend to this conference.  Well, as you know, I don't get out much.  Really, I don't.  So I figured I'd take really good notes and bring the conference to YOU!  This is good stuff, here.  (And Aunt's what I promised you!)  

The theme of the conference was "The Power of One."  I'll just give you my bullet points:
  • President Monson (video, no he wasn't ACTUALLY there) "Don't immerse yourself in the thick of thin things."  WOW, how often do we get so caught up in the mundane that we don't leave room or time for more important matters?  The next time I put off playing Candyland with my daughter because I'm cleaning the kitchen...I hope I put down the scrub brush.
  • We are just one woman, but WE are the ones to meet our children's needs: not their teachers, not their friends.  It is our amazing opportunity and responsibility.
  • We need to live our lives strong enough that what we are doing will shine.  We need to SHINE ladies! Let your faith, your love, your capacity show.  Don't be afraid to be the absolute best you can be.  If you want to influence someone for good, do it by example and not word.
  • There are figurative angels among us.  Can we be an angel today?  Is there someone whose load you could lighten?  Someone you could smile at?
  • We need to have charity, that pure love of Christ.  Remember: charity never faileth.
  • Love.  Wow.  President Uchtdorf (again, a video segment, I didn't catch where this was from) taught "Love inspired the creation of our spirits.  Love was the motive for the plan of salvation.  Love is a fountain of hope."  Lots to think about right there.
  • As we love, we gain strength.  Strength to love more, strength to serve more.
  • It's hard to receive service.  We focus on giving, giving...but someone has to receive.  Don't deny someone else the blessing of serving you- if you are praying and hoping for help, don't turn it away when it arrives!
  • When serving people, remember: some things in life will stay broken.  We can visit and lift, but we can't heal and we can't release people from the consequences of their actions.  We can make a load lighter by simply listening and loving.
WHEW.  OK, I'll stop there.  My very favorite speaker spoke last today- I'll save his stuff for another post.

I hope you all have a very wonderful rest of your weekend!

Picture 064
Ernie and Ming Wai, summer 2008.  Good grief, those shoes.  2008 they were a bit big.  2009 I spiffed them up with new glitter.  Now 2010...I think I just need to hide them.  Oh, and the dresses- aren't they adorable?  Aunt LoLo made matching dresses for our girls- I took one home for Mimi too, but my kids come in one size: large.  Poor Mimi never had a chance to wear her "newborn" size dress.  Patterns are from the indomitable Rae- it's her free Itty Bitty Dress, all grown up for big girls!  Fabric is from Ikea.  Because Aunt LoLo really digs Ikea fabric.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Today I have...

New week, and I'm checking in!

So far today, in no particular order:

  • changed 3 diapers
  • cleaned the kitchen twice
  • made one batch of blueberry muffins
  • threw one tantrum when Ernie refused to even try the muffins
  • Finished this month's Real Simple magazine (during that tantrum)
  • Supervised the cleaning of Ernie's bedroom and playroom (after that tantrum)
  • said Hello to Wonder Daddy when he got back from his early-morning bike ride
  • weeded 2 sections of the yard that will be bull dozed in the next week or so (why??)
  • stared despondently at my daffodils, daylilies, crocosmia, bluebells, lungwort, lilac, mint, and lemon balm, which are all in the bulldozer path (I'll pull up the bulbs and dry them, and put the lung wort in another part of the yard.  Mints can be potted.)
  • vacuumed half the house
  • sorted 3 loads of laundry
  • fixed 2 snacks
  • made lunch for the girls
  • made bean dip for Wonder Daddy and I
  • rescued the baby from her crib (it wasn't even 6 yet!)
  • responded to e-mails
  • read some blogs
  • linked a tutorial over at Mad In Crafts (go check it out, people are linking their favorite tutes. Very cool!!
  • Hung the diapers out to dry/bleach (first time this year, yay!)
  • Helped Wonder Daddy put together my new compost tumbler (double hooray!)
  • Took a bunch of pictures of things that need to be Freecycled/Craigslisted

I still need to 
  • wash a load of diapers
  • make a new batch of soy milk
  • teach 2 piano lessons
  • make dinner (umm...ideas??  I know there will be braised kale involved...)
  • go for a run with my friend
  • buy new shoes for the girls (how did they outgrow everything so fast??)
  • Start planting the garden (WHERE, I don't know- we had planned on the yard being done by now...I think I'm container and border planting again this year...maybe the boxes will be done in time for tomatoes and peppers, and the fall garden...)
  • Breathe :)
How's your week going so far?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

In the Which I Babble Giddily

Can I just say....that I have ALMOST forgiven Tax Season for eating my husband alive, and spitting him out the other side?

Thursday morning, while Ernie was at Joy School, Mimi and I made a batch of our favorite wheat/white bread dough...and smashed it flat with a rolling in, covered it with brown sugar and cinnamon, then rolled it up tight. Packed into a pretty wicker basket (I have a thing for wicker baskets- they're all over the house!) those slices made quite a stir at his office. I'm fairly certain that warm bread was the only reason Wonder Daddy and his co-workers made it through that final push on Thursday.

Thursday night I left my husband and daughters playing in the yard, IN THE SUNSHINE (sigh, bliss!) to go to the temple with the rest of the ladies from our stake- it was a beautiful evening, I'm glad I went...even though it was SO HARD to drive away from my family.

Friday Wonder Daddy spent the morning with a friend, and the afternoon was spent in the backyard, followed by park, followed by Fatburgers, followed by sprinkled donuts. WOW. We ended at Costco and restocked our dried fruit supply- Mimi clutched the bag of dried blueberries all the way to the cashier, and shoved FISTFULS into her mouth on the way to the car. (She found them again this morning, while I was making pancakes. You should have seen her, crouched gollum-like in the kitchen corner, cramming blueberries into her mouth while looking furtively around. She really likes dried fruit, OK?) I think M must be on a growth spurt, I've never seen her eat like this! She wants to sleep all morning too. Somebody's about to outgrow all her clothes...

Oh, and Saturday. My goodness. Wonder Daddy was up early to take a bike ride around the lake, we had our Saturday Morning Pancakes for the first time in months, then Daddy and the girls went to the bike store to daydream and purchase supplies while I went to a choir practice. The weather was so nice that I walked 8 city blocks in the rain to meet them halfway on the way back. Quick stop into a thrift store (our new favorite, a church store that just opened up across town) and then home for sandwiches and naps. AND THEN, Grandpa came.

Folks, I spent nearly five hours with my husband today. Alone.

It was so luxurious.

We went to a fabulous garden open house. We stopped in the U-District, to grab some falafel on The Ave. We stopped at Costco to pick up a compost tumbler. (Well, actually we sprinted in, because we arrived 3 minutes before closing time.) We browsed the outlet malls for work clothes (the man buys clothes every other year or so...and of course, everything wears out at the same time. So we just know every other year we're going to do a MAJOR shopping trip!) We scored on his shoes though- our Bass outlet is having a BOGT event: 1 pair at regular price, 2 free! Sweet, we don't have to buy shoes for another 6 years :) We were nearly an hour late getting home- sweet Grandpa had the girls fed, bathed, jammied....he and Mimi were cuddling and Ernie was coloring a picture when we walked in the door.

I know not every day is hamburgers and parks and date nights. But I could just cry, I'm so grateful for when those days DO happen!
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Friday, April 16, 2010

Giveaway Winner!

Alright folks- has spoken.  Choosing between numbers 1 and 8 (I know- ouch! I think these dolls are lovely!  Oh well, it increased all y'alls odds) and the lucky number is SIX!

Miss Melissa, come on down!

Thanks for playing everyone!

PS- If we don't hear from Miss Melissa, I'll pick a new name Monday night.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Still in the works....

Just popping in- I have a few things on the sewing table, but nothing's ready to show...

BUT, I wanted to say that there's still time to enter the giveaway!  And to clear up confusion: the winner will receive a brand-new, custom-made doll.  You want green eyes, dark skin, pig tails?  Pale skin, blond hair, and a bob?  A little boy with a butch cut?  How about a little afro action going on up top?  I'll make it for ya :)  

And remember: Tomorrow is Tax Day!  Have you filed yet?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Enter the Great Doll Giveaway!

Hello Lovelies-  did you know this is my 404th post?  It's true.  I started way back in October 2007.  First thing  I ever posted about was my laundry detergent recipe.  The loquacious Aunt LoLo and the very talented Rae were my first commenters :)  Oh, and Tax Day is this week.   Annnnd..... I have an itch to make something.

So.  Let's have a giveaway!

Up for grabs is one of these beauties.

A custom dolly for you!  Leave a comment below, and PLEASE remember to leave an e-mail address because it's always sad to not be able to contact you!

Comments will close Friday (4/16) night at 8:00 pm Pacific Time.  I'll send an e-mail to our winner, who will need to send me a photo to match the doll to, or a detailed description.

Good luck, everybody!

PS- Lurkers.  I know you're out there.  Don't be shy- say hi! :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Meal Planning Monday

It's been a while since I planned meals!  It's been a while since I've COOKED real meals too, with Wonder Daddy busy with taxes.


What I have to work with:
fresh garbanzo beans
bagged salad mix (Parisian, from Costco.)
soy milk

chili (this will be my lunch one day)

Sunday: lasagna, french bread, fresh garbanzos, salad.  Dessert was grandma's famous cobbler, with fresh plum halves, strawberries, and blackberries.  We had a motley collection of fruits donated by my parents, this was a good way to use them up.  If you haven't made this cobbler, please do.  It will change your life.  It's amazing with fresh, canned, or frozen fruit.  Any kind of berry or stone fruit.  Anything juicy.  I imagine that even soft pears would be amazing.

Monday: leftover lasagna, salad

Tuesday: split pea soup with lots of ham, bread (Kids and I are alone that night, and I KNOW E won't even touch this.  I'll freeze the leftovers, cuz I LOVE split pea soup, and I'm the only one in this house who does.)

Wednesday: pizza, carrot and celery sticks with dressing, a dessert (company coming this night, and I want to send treats with Wonder Daddy on Thursday)  Maybe snickerdoodles, I love snickerdoodles so much.

Thursday: pasta with garbanzo/mint pesto  (fresh garbanzo beans taste like peas, and I'm thinking if I whiz green garbanzos with a little olive oil and mint from the garden, it will make a nice light pasta dish.), bread.  Here's a recipe- I think I have a bag of basil in the freezer from last summer.  If I don't, I'll go with mint  because that's already popping up in the garden, as is lemon balm.  Oooh...I'll do this with lemon balm.  Num.

Friday: Our favorite turnovers: biscuit dough smashed into a circle, diced and grated ham and cheese in the middle, and pinched shut.  Bake at 350 for about 13 minutes.  We just had these over the weekend too, but I think Friday calls for a celebration, don't you?

Saturday: date night/afternoon (thanks Mom and Dad!)

Sunday: I'm thinking curry and naan is in order to celebrate the end of the cold weather.  Among other things. We might be celebrating the end of tax season for quite some time!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Simple Jumper

I traced a simple cotton jumper onto wrapping paper to make a pattern, and busted this dress out during naptime today. While on the phone. (Yes, with Aunt LoLo. I realized today that she is the ONLY PERSON ON THIS EARTH that I call just to chat with. Is that normal? Moving on...)

I chose a sturdy cotton fabric- it might be duck, I inherited it from a friend's stash. It might be a leetle too stiff, but it will loosen up after a washing or two. All seams and edges are serged, and I used the sewing machine to turn the armholes and neck in (sewed with a contrasting thread, chocolate brown.) I put a little split-stitch lavendar heart on the front, because it's a pet peeve of mine not to know which way is the front (yes, even if it doesn't matter :)

Interestingly enough, the arm and neck fit my almost-five-year-old PERFECTLY. The cut is atrocious, though. At least with this fabric, on her frame.

I didn't take a picture of the original jumper, but here's the top:

...and here's the bottom. I love the fringe. (Yes. That is my toddler, sitting on a kitchen cart, eating a spoonful of peanut butter. It's her favorite snack in the entire world- she brings me the PB jar and a spoon when she's hungry. However, Grandma SuSu introduced her to nutella tonight. I think her love affair with plain old PB might be over, she's moving onto bigger and better things.)
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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sillhouette Tutorials

Ernie, age 4

Myrnie, age 6

Our Joy School girls have been working on their "All About Me" books for the last few weeks- they're SUPER cute! Every lesson, they did a new page- a collage of their favorite foods, a self-portrait, a drawing of their family, their hand and foot prints, and yes: their sillhouettes. Today they got to take them home- OH where they excited! As soon as their mothers walked in the door, the girls were running, yelling "MOM! Let me show you my BOOK!"

There are lots of different ways to do these, but here are a few tutorials in case you want to give it a try!

Aunt LoLo went hi-tech/low-tech with a computer-as-light-box, and a piece of scotch tape. Ingenius.

A quick google search yielded this tutorial, which is how my friend/fellow Joy School Mama made Ernie's sillhouette (and all the rest of the girls.) She took the girls' pictures against a white wall, and said the whole process was lickety split! The copies were done at Kinkos, as COLOR copies- black and white printouts turned out rather grey.

Oh, and the second sillhouette up there is just for familial resemblence comparisions. It was done in Kindergarten, and I seem to remember sitting in front of a large gridded sheet of fabric, with a light shining. Some poor room mother probably had arthritis by the time she cut out the sillhouettes for the entire class! It hung in the spare bedroom at my grandparent's home for a long time, before it was sent home with me.

I'm looking for a childhood side-profile shot of my husband to turn into a sillhouette to add to the display. Because it looks rather odd with just Ernie and I. I need to make Mimi's too.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Did you have a nice easter?

Did everyone have a nice Easter weekend? I LOVED it! I love that Easter isn't as all-encompassing and commercial as Christmas. Now, I love Christmas. I love the celebrating and the comradery, the magical quality that lights take on at night.

But it was lovely to have a holiday purely devoted to family and God. (With a very little hoopla thrown in to make the kids' eyes sparkle :)

Our church has General Conference twice a year- always the first weekends of April and October. It's broadcast from a large conference center in Salt Lake City to every LDS church building in the world, and picked up on a few radio stations and TV stations as well. (Locally, we can get it on BYUTV, I'm not sure how extensive that channel is.) In addition, it's live broadcast on the internet in 90 languages, plus more are available when it's published in text format. WHEW! To say it's a big deal is an understatement. The prophet speaks, the apostles speak, general church leaders speak... and no one speaker knows what the other will say. They receive the invitation to speak, pray for guidance, and write a message. It's submitted for approval, and to be typed up for the teleprompters. It's always fascinating to watch themes come out. There are four sessions of conference (two Saturday, two Sunday), plus a session for the men/priesthood (men and boys ages 12 and up) on Saturday night, a session especially for the young women of the church (12-18) the week before, and a broadcast especially for the women of the church (18 and older) around the same time as well.

This time there were MANY people reminding us to teach our children to have faith and strength. Many messages reminding us that life happens to everybody- death is the heritage of mortality, and it's what we DO with what happens to us that matters.

archives are available here in a LOT of languages. I've never heard of a lot of them!

I didn't do much for Easter morning this year, which was nice. We had some treats for the girls, the bunny brought some enormous bouncy balls. We spent the day watching conference, then getting ready for a family dinner I hosted. I LOVE HOSTING FAMILY DINNERS! If it means my kids get their naps, can get ready for bed when the last guest leaves, and our schedules are not completely destroyed, I love hosting dinners :) Plus, I think it's fun to get the tables a little fancied up, get everything ready. We had my own family, my parents and little sister, my brother-in-law (can you believe the NERVE of that guy, coming to town for business and not bringing Aunt Lolo? :), and my husband's grandparents who very recently returned from an 18-month-long mission to the Family History Center in Salt Lake City. (A little aside- Mormons like genealogy. A LOT. We like researching our own, we like sharing what we find, we like helping other people find their own families. Many presidents of the United States have been gifted a bound copy of their own family history when they come to visit the Prophet. Did you know that the Presidents of the United States go around and visit the major church leaders in the world/country? Kind of cool! Anyway, if you've ever been even a little curious about your family, I can point you towards information and people who would be happy to help!)

Where was I? Dinner was lovely, the weekend was lovely, and life is lovely. Remember that.

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