Saturday, May 31, 2008

Done with Pixie onto Posh

As you could probably tell in the post below, I was in desperate need of a hair cut. The last time I got it cut, I was 32 weeks pregnant. (Dean's 7 months old now!!) Most of you know I love short hair in all its varieties. Last time I went pixie, this time I went Posh (as in Posh Spice i.e. Victoria Beckham).

It was a thumbs up from Matt.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Little Patient

Today was the surgery. He wasn't allowed to eat after midnight so I woke him up and fed him at 11:15 last night. I was hoping that would sustain him until 6 when we got up, but no. He woke up at 4 and cried and cried. I made Matt go check on him at 5 to make sure he wasn't poopy. Nope. And then he cried and cried. He finally fell back to sleep around 5:40. We left for the hospital at 6:15 and his surgery was at 7:30. He was the perfect little pre-op patient.

He was cheerful despite being hungry and tired. His anesthesiologist looked a little like and sounded a lot like Billy Bob Thornton. "The doctors just want to do their job, but there's so much frickin' paper work these days."

He didn't cry once for the nurses, even when they took him into surgery. Billy Bob said he just looked up at the mask when they put it on him, and he was out in under 10 seconds.

Afterward was not so happy!! He was only gone about 15 min. before they came to get me. Only 1 person was allowed in recovery, and since I have the boobs, that was me. It was so sad! He was screaming and shaking. His mouth was all numb and bloody. He wanted to nurse but couldn't figure out how to latch since he had no feeling in his tongue. That just got him more angry. At least the screaming helped get the anesthesia out of his body, right?

He was still screaming in the car and all the way home. He fell asleep right before we made it home. I hoped he'd just do a nice, easy transfer from the car to the crib, but he woke up and wouldn't go back to sleep. Luckily he was able to eat some and then fell asleep. He just woke up after only 20 min. of sleep, but I rocked him again and got him back down. Poor baby. It was heartbreaking to see him so disoriented and crazy. I hope he makes a quick recovery and we have this cute, smiley guy (sans under the tongue frenulum) back soon.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

8 Random Facts

  1. I generally don't think women are funny (as in "telling jokes" funny). They're usually too sarcastic, crude, annoying, etc. Almost like they're trying too hard to be like the men or something. I am listening to last comic standing while I type this and it irks me that they put unfunny women/people on the show so they can have even numbers. It should be FUNNY people who make the show, not a certain number of women, men, gay, straight, etc. to fill some stupid quota.
  2. I can't stand more than one source of audio going at the same time. For example: I can't listen to music if someone has the TV on. It's stimulation overload and it drives me nuts.
  3. I've been having insomnia issues again this week. I'm on the edge of exhaustion right now.
  4. I love being outside (just not when it's 90*+!). I didn't know how much I loved it until I had Dean and feel a little cooped up if we don't get out at least once or twice during the day. (Fortunately he really seems to like it outside too.)
  5. I get really excited about projects when I start them but often lose momentum before I actually finish them in their entirety.
  6. In a similar vein, I go through phases. Reading phases, craft phases, blogging phases, music phases, cooking phases, cleaning phases. I hit them hard for awhile, get burned out and have to take a break.
  7. I often sleep on my stomach with a pillow over my head (to block out noises...). I'm lucky that Matt doesn't snore since I have to shut out breathing and clocks ticking with a pillow!
  8. I couldn't care less about American Idol (I've never watched a full season), but I really do love SYTYCD. I think it's partially because I can't stand watching people sing. I never have liked it. (Odd since I've been around singers my whole life.) But dancing is meant to be watched and people can move so amazingly. Also, I like the judges WAY better on SYTYCD. The only two I don't really enjoy hearing from is Mia (a little too "earthy/out there" for me) and the Hairspray guy (He's the worst. He just goes ON and ON and can't shut up!)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Red, White, and Blueberry Pie

Happy Memorial Day! I was feeling festive and decided to make a blueberry pie. I had a large bag of frozen blueberries in my freezer, so that's what I used. All of the things I read said frozen berries produce really soupy pies. A couple places said to use tapioca flour, instant tapioca, or tapioca starch to combat that. My friend Emily (thanks Emily!!) had some instant tapioca that I borrowed, and it worked beautifully.

I couldn't find any recipes specifically for frozen blueberries, so I did what I always do and combined a lot of recipes. It turned out better than I could have hoped; it was a very "pure" pie that tasted like blueberries. The filling wasn't overly sweet. I think it could have used a little salt and a little more lemon to bring out the flavors. The filling was not soupy at all, and may have been a tad bit too thick/solid. If you like a nice, solid pie, keep the tapioca to berry ratio 4 Tbsp tapioca to 4 C berries. If you like it a little runnier, I'd probably do 3 Tbsp tapioca to 4 cups berries. It was really easy. I used frozen pie crusts that I made probably 3-4 weeks ago. I just let them thaw on the counter.

Here's the recipe I created:
A Non-Soupy Blueberry pie made with frozen berries

Ingredients

4 C frozen blueberries

¾ C sugar (increase to 1 cup+ if you like really sweet pies-this pie tastes more like fruit than sugar)

3-4 T instant tapioca (4 makes the filling really thick)

1-2 tsp lemon

dash cinnamon
dash nutmeg
dash salt

2 pie crusts (for a great recipe, see this post)

Optional: sugar to dust the top (and food coloring if you want to color it. That's why my pie is colored)

Directions

Partially thaw blueberries by putting them in a strainer and running water over them a few seconds. Transfer to a bowl and mix with sugar and tapioca. Let sit for 15+ min. Mix in remaining ingredients. Spoon into crust. Do what you want with the top crust (lattice, shapes, full crust). Bake (covered with foil) for 30 min. at 425. Uncover top (leave perimeter crust covered) and bake another 10-15 min. Take it out and let it cool. Eat and enjoy.

I would imagine you could make this with any frozen berry, but the sugar and extra seasonings would probably need to be altered according to berry sweetness and flavor...

And to leave you with a nice summery picture, here is my cute little one enjoying his new pool for the first time.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

If ye are prepared...

*UPDATE: After reading FoxyJ's comment, I decided to remove the email message. It basically was just talking about preparedness.*

I got the following message from my Grandma. It was a forward, and I don't know where/with whom it originated, so I'm asking for help verifying its authenticity. It's really not new information, but it sounded rather alarmist/urgent and I was wondering if that was just the note taker's take on the talk, or if Elder Packer really was wanting it to feel more urgent.

I've known for a long time now that I have to stop procrastinating my food storage and 72 hour kits. One of the tips I hear all the time is to "just get a little extra" each time you go grocery shopping. But that really doesn't jive well with my personality. I'd much rather just get it all at once, or at least in large chunks. I've considered MREs and freeze dried food since they're supposed to last longer, but I'm not sure the best place to get them for the best price. Anyone know?

Matt and I have talked about how our peer group hasn't really been affected by economic hard times as much as past generations. Sure we're in a "recession" right now, and gas prices are through the roof, but everyone I know is still pretty well off and just have to "get a little creative". I'm sure there are people who have been hit hard recently, but honestly, we've been pretty spoiled. Most teenagers I know (ages 12 and up) have their own cell phones, many with unlimited talk plans. It is seriously scary when you realize that 19 out of 20 Americans have credit card debt.

I read the Kite Runner and 1000 Splendid Suns last week and the idea of war in our land was interesting (and scary) to consider. What would it be like to go from a relatively rich situation to a war ravaged, food rationed, destitute condition? Not pleasant. Even if war isn't fought on our land, the possibility of food rationing is very real if a larger war were to break out elsewhere.

Having a proper and balanced food and water storage would help out immensely and would definitely lessen fear that accompanies disaster situations. Now to actually do it is the hard part. I'll work on that.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

It was a hoot!

Last night I went to my friend Erin's where we had a little crafty fun. I mentioned this before, but she's creating an acrylic stamp line. She got some of her stamps in this week, so we had fun giving them a test run. The sets are so cute. I'd never used acrylic stamps before, but they're WAY better than regular old rubber stamps. She did a great job designing them. There were way more stamps, but this is what I did last night with my limited time.

The owl, sentiments, fence post, and tree branch are all stamps that she designed. I used bronze embossing powder on the branch and "woo hoo" and silver embossing powder on the "chirp up". I colored the owls and fence with watercolor pencils and used a blender pen to spread it. She gives different craft tutorials on her Schlosser Designs blog, and soon her stamp website will be ready for you to order. It's exciting!

Here are a few things I liked about the acrylic stamps:
  1. You don't have to trim them like rubber stamps.
  2. You can see through the clear block, so you know exactly where your image is going.
  3. The combination possibilities are amazing. So much more versatile than a rubber stamp set.
  4. These are a STEAL at only $12.50 per set!

Random Recreational Activities at the Park

When Dean and I were at the park yesterday, there were two noticably odd things going on.

  1. There were two men with metal detectors and pick axes. I noticed several freshly dug holes that had been covered up again. They were there before I got there and after I left. Is there really that much "buried treasure" at the park?
  2. A lady was walking her dog. Doesn't sound that random, except that THE DOG WAS IN A STROLLER! Very odd. And it was a nice stroller too. More expensive than the one I have.
Oh, and Dean LOVES to swing. He gets excited and giggly when I push him high. He totally just sits there and chills (sometimes leaning forward with his arms hanging over the front, and sometimes leaning back hanging onto the chain). It's very fun.

He didn't know what to make of the splash pad and getting wet, though. I thought he'd like it more than he did. Maybe he just needs to get used to it.

While not private, some precautions don't hurt

My cousin (and others) made some good points on my going private post. I still am opposed to it for myself, and I think it's a royal pain in the butt when others do it, but I understand. Personally, I feel like it's giving into terrorists/wackos (though I'm sure many of you think by not going private it empowers them).

HOWEVER,

I have noticed in my blog tracker that people were being found through google searches. While I wouldn't mind being found, some people do. While I tried to take off last names per request, it's possible not everyone I read reads my blog or even knows I have their name listed. So, in an effort to not freak anyone out, I decided to eliminate all last names on my sidebar and take them down to initials. I never listed my location in my profile, but I will make more of an effort not to list it in posts.

I like being found by friends. (Maybe because it makes me feel popular--happy that people want to find me??) I like finding friends. I like seeing where people end up, who they end up with, and what their kids are like. It's interesting to see how people have grown and changed. I feel like I've changed a lot since high school, and I don't mind people knowing how I've changed. I have always been an open book and will continue to lay it all out. However, certain precautions are easy to take so I might as well take them.

I honestly don't mind if old rivals or boyfriends find me and read my blog. We're all adults now with lives of our own. Who cares what happened in grade school or high school? I guess some people carry that with them, but I've moved on. I don't hold grudges and have few regrets.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Products that work and products I shirk

Products that work for me:
  1. Aveeno lotion for babies: this is wonderful, thick, moisturizing, and fragrance free. Perfect for babies with sensitive skin. The only lotion I'll buy my babies from now on.
  2. Kashi cereals and granola bars: Healthy and delicious. Not too sweet, but just right. I don't buy the granola bars right now, but when I was pregnant it was the perfect snack since sugar wasn't appealing. My favorite cereals: Autumn Wheat, Harvest Cinnamon, and Go Lean Crunch.
  3. Safeway/Tom Thumb brand string cheese: Forget the name brand junk. This has good flavor, is nice and stringy, low moisture, etc. WAY better than Frigo or Precious.
  4. Pantene Pro-V Sculpting Wax: good for short, frizzy hair. It's a hard wax, not the goopy junk.
  5. Henkle Pro-S series kitchen knives: I would be lost in my kitchen without these babies. So sharp. A knife for any purpose.
  6. Stonyfield farm organic yogurts (o'soy, yo-baby, and fruit on the bottom): I bought these on sale and I am so glad I did! FINALLY a company got it right. My biggest complaint with other yogurt is that it has WAY too much sugar (CORN SYRUP!!). And then the "light" yogurts are made with way too much of the sugar-substitutions I'm opposed to. Stonyfield farms uses naturally milled organic sugar, and not too much. It's just the right amount of sweetness for a breakfast. Dean really likes the yo-baby yogurts.
  7. Annie's Whole Wheat Bunnies (crackers): These are really tasty and made from whole wheat flour. On the front they tout "No icky additives or pesky preservatives". The ingredient list was way shorter than other "kid crackers" like the gold fish. The only one I didn't understand was "expeller pressed vegetable oil". It sounds healthier than partially hydrogenated oil (which is in most kid crackers), but I'm not sure how much healthier it really is. Anyone know? I got them at Target and will probably always buy them over the goldfish crackers.
  8. Amy's brand frozen foods: If we don't have leftovers for Matt's lunch, he often takes frozen entrees. Amy's brand is organic, vegetarian, and way healthier than most other frozen foods. The only thing of Amy's that I don't like that I've tried is the chili. It's canned, not frozen, but it has a funny taste to it that doesn't belong in chili.
Products I thought I'd love but now shirk:
  1. Aveeno baby sunblock: I thought I'd love this because I love their lotion, but it is HORRIBLE (not to mention danged expensive!!)!! It says that it is waterproof, but when we went to the splash pad today, it immediately started to run all over Dean's face and into his eyes when we got wet.
  2. Kashi TLC crackers: these were just plain disgusting to me. I took them back to costco and got my money back because they were so bad.
  3. Lavender scented baby lotions and baby washes: We got lots of the lavender baby lotions and baby wash from our baby showers, and they just didn't seem to work well for us. Dean's skin is a little sensitive, and I think I'm allergic to the fragrance. Anyone want ours? We won't use it and it's only been used a handful of times.
  4. Pampers: Who designed these things? And who were they designed for? They're supposed to be the leading brand of disposable diapers, but they are NO GOOD for chubby legged babies. At least they were not good for Dean.
  5. Luvs: I like the fit of Luvs better than Huggies or Pampers (seem to chafe his legs less), but the scent is just not for me! I can't stand it and it masks the smell of his poo. I guess some people want this, but I like to know if he's poopy without having to undress him to check. Plus, he had 3 blow outs (out the back) and one leak out the first week he wore them. I will be sending in for my refund shortly.
  6. Huggies: Now, I have to say I loved the newborn Huggies Cuddleweave. But the rest have let me down. These are still my standard diapers, but I'm not overly pleased with them. I really am considering going cloth. The diapers I'm looking into are: happy heinys and bumgenius 3.0. They're initially pricey, but since they're reusable, they'd end up costing less, even with water usage increase. We'll see if I can talk myself into trying it.
Do you have favorite products or products that let you down? I'm curious to find out what they are...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Now that's more like it...I hope

Remember the swimsuit I bought at Target? Well, after posting and looking at the pictures, I decided it was quite matronly. I also thought it made my boobs look saggy, and we don't want that! Also, I wanted a modest tankini because they're just so much more convenient. So today I went to Old Navy and Kohls.

Old Navy was more of the same problems I had at target. All halter top tanks with ill proportioned boobs to body. Kohls had different types of tankinis than the other stores and this is what I got. (sorry about the pics. no timer on my camera) It was a little more expensive (even on sale), but I'm much more pleased with how it makes me look.

Better?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Dirty Details

You know when you go in for a job interview and they ask if you're detail oriented and organized? I've always thought of myself as both (more or less), but recently I've come to decide I was tricking myself. I am more organized than I am detail oriented, but my when organization doesn't include details, I guess I'm left wanting.

I started thinking about my inattention to details a couple weeks ago, and I can't stop thinking about how much it permeates my life.
  1. I don't like washing silverware by hand. I don't mind pots and pans, but I always throw the silverware in the dishwasher.
  2. When I read books I definitely don't read every single word. I want to get to the good stuff so badly I skim some. I guess that's why I can enjoy books the second (and sometimes third and fourth) time I read them as much as the first. I asked Matt last night if he reads every word in his books or if he skims to get to the meat of the matter. He was shocked (and mildly disgusted I think) that I would do such a thing! He likes to savor books. I like to devour them.
  3. I'm decent at keeping my house presentable overall, but don't look to closely at the details: window ledges, molding, cupboard doors, floor corners, the oven drawer, the collecting dust on tvs and computers...
  4. Punctuation is my Achilles heal in composition. I'm also not great at proof reading.
  5. I know I don't listen to every word that people say to me.
  6. I'm better a cooking than I am at baking because baking requires more precision.
  7. In piano I struggle releasing immediately on the rests.
  8. I often drop and add "s"s to the ends of words when I sing.
There are more examples, but these are what come to mind. Don't get me wrong, I can force myself to do these things; they just don't come naturally.

I don't really know where I'm going with this. Just self realization I guess.

What about you? Are you a detail person or do you live for the big picture?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Paranoia

I am not prone to paranoia. I think it's partially from my upbringing (I grew up in a very un-paranoid home where we did things like leave our house unlocked at all times except at night), and partially from my personality.

That is why I get so frustrated by what seems to be daily privatizing of friends' blogs. If this keeps up, I'll have to stop checking in on my friends! I currently subscribe to 78 blogs. I have more blogs I try to keep up with that have already gone private. It seems like every day someone else says, "going private!" There's no way in heck I'd be able to check each of those regularly if everyone went private. Every time someone else goes private, I want to scream, "NO ONE IS STALKING* YOU OR YOUR CHILDREN!!!" I mean, I obviously can't guarantee that, but man it's unlikely.

So, I implore you, please stop going private people!!

I love keeping up with your lives and hearing from old (and new) friends. (*or stocking... except for Th.)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Just a good ol' country boy

Recently he seems to end up in overalls every time I decide it's a good photo op. And the hat is a given since he's such a whitey and prone to burning. While he tries to take it off when we're inside, he's quite good about keeping it on when he's distracted by something as neat as grass. He loves sitting directly on the grass. It gives him easier access for eating purposes.



video

Thursday, May 15, 2008

All you never wanted to know...

I took this tag from my cousin Jacqui because I liked reading hers. I think it's fun to hear random facts about people.

1. What time did you get up this morning? 7:15 Woke up to a big Dean blow out. (Even though I'd changed a poopy diaper at his 5 AM feeding!)
2. What was the last movie you saw? Dan in Real Life. Should have saved my $2.
3. Where is the most beautiful place you've ever been? Yangshuo, China (This is my favorite picture I've ever taken.)
4. What do you usually have for breakfast? cereal or chocolate isagenix shake. Right now my favorite cereal obsession is shredded wheat in all its varieties. I love the big unsweetened biscuits (classic-reminds me of Christmas), the small frosted (malt o' meal-standard), and my most recent addition: Kashi Autumn Wheat and Kashi Cinnamon Harvest. THEY ARE THE BEST!!!! Perfect amount of sweetness and flavor. Oh my they are so good. They were only $2/box at walmart! I should have stocked up...
5. What is your favorite food? Almost anything Mexican, preferably with beans and rice.
6. What food do you dislike? Meat still on bones, fatty meats, or meat that tastes like meat. Also, I highly dislike seafood. Tilapia and Halibut are the two exceptions since they're so mild.
7. What is your favorite CD lately? No favorite. I need some new suggestions. Anyone have any?
8. Favorite Sandwich? Chicken salad if I make it. Quizno's Italian is good.
9. What characteristics do you despise? Unreliable, mean
10. Favorite item of clothing? None. My clothes are so low budget.
11. If you could go anywhere in the world for a vacation, where would you go? Scotland would be cool.
12. What color is your bathroom? White
13. Favorite brand of clothing? I couldn't tell you one brand of clothing I own. Anything on sale that fits and is cute?
14. What was your most memorable birthday? 9 was good (huge sleep over), 16 was good (my mom surprised me by inviting friends over for an early breakfast of crepes before school, my sister got me roses, I was legal to drive and date, etc.), 19 was good (my two best friends made me early breakfast and cards before classes, and I was dating Matt. We went to a ward party that night and then Olive Garden for dinner.), and 20 was fun since it was in China. We had a huge party and I got lots of cool/strange Chinese presents.
15. Favorite sport to watch? Hockey at the moment. Well, it was until the Sharks lost.
16. Favorite saying? Holy smokes. or Hijole.
17. Shoe size? 7
18. Pets? No thanks.
19. What did you want to be when you were little? A mom. Also, probably a writer and/or a teacher.
20. What are you today? Mom (i.e. teacher of life)
21. What is your favorite candy? All things sour and chewy
22. What is your favorite flower? gerbera daisy
23. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to? June 10th. I just want the recital to be over...
24. What are you listening to right now? The Office
25. What was the last thing you ate? Chicken and bean soft tacos
26. Do you believe in Angels? Yes. Just without wings.
27. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Bright orange probably.
28. Pet Peeves? Litter, spam and forward emails, people smoking (ESPECIALLY around babies), library books that smell like smoke (just finished one that wreaked. My eyes were itching and burning and my hands stunk when I was done), unreliable people.
29. Favorite TV show? Hmmm. The Office maybe? And Battlestar Galactica. And in the summer So You Think You Can Dance. I don't really "watch" much more, though food network is on quite frequently as "background" noise in the evenings when I'm blogging. Oh, but all time favorite TV show: Cosby Show. I own seasons 1 and 2 and still watch them. And yes, I still laugh.
30. Last person you spoke to on the phone? The scheduling nurse at the Dr.'s office.
31. Do you like the person who sent you this? I stole it from my cousin, and yes, I like her. (I stole that answer from her as well.)
32. Favorite soft drink? No soda for me. I probably have less than 8 cans of soda a year. But if I HAD to say one, a green apple Jone's soda is yummy.
33. Hair Color? brown
34. Favorite restaurant? Nothing here, that's for sure. Cafe Rio's grilled chicken salad with tomatillo dressing is probably my favorite restaurant item, though I can't say Cafe Rio's my favorite overall.
35. Siblings? 3 brothers and 3 sisters
36. What was your favorite toy as a child? Do books count as toys? If not, probably the trampoline. I can do lots of back flips in a row.
37. Summer or Winter? Summer, so long as it's not too hot. Or winter, so long as it's not too cold. So I guess that puts me at spring and summer. =) Or in Moss Beach, CA any time of the year. =)
38. Hugs or Kisses? Kisses
39. Chocolate or vanilla? Hmmmm. I think it depends on my mood.
40. What is under your bed? Gift bags and wrapping paper. I think my quilting frame is under there too.
41. When was the last time you cried? It's been a couple months I think. I'm not sure.
42. Who is the friend you've had the longest? Not counting family, Amanda Slade Coon is probably the oldest friend I have that I still keep in touch with (thanks to blogs).
43. What did you do last night for dinner? Tamales, beans, lettuce
44. Favorite smell? Russian olive trees in June when they're in bloom. I am so sad there are no Russian olive trees here.
45. What are you most afraid of? Matt hiding in the dark waiting to scare me.
46. Favorite day of the week? Friday.
47. How many towns have you lived in? Seven: Snowflake, Mesa, Provo, Reno, Reston (VA), and Hefei China
48. Do you make friends easily? Pretty easily.
49. Are you happy? Yep. Very.

With a snip snip here

We went to the ENT (our bishop) today to check out Dean's frenulum (skin under the tongue). The bottom one is short but the top one (between gums and upper lip) is fine. He recommended we do a little snipping on the bottom so he doesn't have speech problems down the road. It's supposed to be really quick and easy surgery, but it is a little scary that they put him out. I know there's no other option, but I know how hard it is for me when my anesthesia wears off. I get all weird and loopy and sick to my stomach. Heck, I was crying uncontrollably after the laughing gas at the dentist wore off the one time I used it. Hopefully he doesn't have a hard time with it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

(Not so) Hot tamale!

Tamales have always frightened me a little. I got a chuck roast 1/2 off last week and made French dip sandwiches on Monday. The roast was big, and there were a lot of leftovers, so I decided to take on the tamales.

I'm not going to lie, it was an all day project since I could only do them during Dean's naps. Not only that, but his napping was all messed up today because (I'm guessing) some top teeth are trying to make their way through. Maybe not, but he was very irritable and seemed to be in pain. After looking in his mouth, it looked like swollen gums, but I've been fooled before.

The tamales turned out quite well for my first attempt. I have to admit they were better than some restaurant tamales I've had. They weren't, however, as good as some homemade tamales I've had. The filling was not quite right. It needed some oomf. I got the wrong kind of chilies, so I had to change the filling a little. It would have been much better with the chillies.

I combined recipes (surprise! right?) I'm not expecting anyone to really make this, but it wasn't as hard as it appears. If I had made them without having to worry about a baby, it would have been fairly easy (for one who likes cooking):

Here is a good site for tamale making visuals.

AUTHENTIC MEXICAN TAMALES—makes around 5 dozen (recipe from our friend Amanda Dacey's mom)
Combine in a crock pot and cook over night:
Pork roast (butt or shoulder), whole clove of garlic, salt, pepper, onion
Let it cool in morning until you can touch. Shred it and take fat off to put in separate bowl. Run meat juice through strainer to keep juice.

Masa de tamales—Quaker (I used MaSeCa brand)
(If you end up with extra masa you can freeze it for later. Just let it thaw and come to room temperature so you can spread it again.):

5 lb masa
2 lbs. lard (by meat department), melted *I used shortening instead of lard*
1 ½ tsp. salt
2 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

Melt lard to liquid, but don’t get it too hot. In a huge bowl, mix 1 ½ tsp. salt, 2 ½ tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda with the masa; make a well and mix in beef juice. Get to peanut butter consistency, not too dry or not too runny. When you run out of meat juice can use water until it reaches spreadable consistency.

Chili:
Fill blender ½ full of water and add:15 pods of dried red chili—soaked. Cut off end and take out as many seeds as possible. Soak in warm water 10 min. till pliable. 5 cloves garlic. salt to taste. Blend up.

Corn husk (hoja):
They come rolled up and dried. Must soak in really hot water till you can take them apart. Sometimes there will be silk and bugs, so wash them really well. Put them in strainer and dry with paper towel. One side of corn husk is smooth.

Putting it all together:
Spread the masa ½ way on the smooth side of the husk (Do masa thin because gets twice as thick. Seriously, do it thin.) Put 2 Tbsp. meat in the middle. Put meat and chili sauce on top and roll it up.The skinny end is folded up. (Some of cornhusks will be tiny and can put a couple together to make a full husk.) Set on table in a little stack.

Cooking it:
Use a flower metal steamer. Put water in bottom to meet the bottom of the steamer. Turn on high to get a boil, turn down to medium low. Put tamales in; put a thin kitchen towel and foil over top and then a lid. In small pan you can fit 2 ½ dozen and in big pan 5 dozen. Stack them in a circle, with only about 3 in the middle. Takes about 1 ½ hours to cook. Check every 20 min. to add water as it evaporates. Let it cool 10-15 minutes, try it and see if the masa is cooked or still raw. If it’s still raw, keep it going until it’s cooked.
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Recipe I used for the dough: a combo of the above recipe and the maseca recipe

4 C. Maseca for tamales
3 1/2-4 C. lukewarm beef broth
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 C. shortening, just melted but not too hot to handle

Combine all dry ingredients, make a well in the center. Pour in the shortening and mix. Add in broth until you reach a nice spreadable Peanut Butter consistency.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Things that make me sweat: Coupons

I hate to admit this, but coupons freak me out. Not the coupons themselves, but the art (yes it truly is an art) of couponing. A girl from my old ward has this Crazy Coupon Blog for all of you who are interested in it. She does incredible things with coupons. Insanity is the word that comes to mind every time I see her post something new. Today she's opened her blog up to questions for anyone interested in learning her couponing secrets. She is the kind of person who would often get money back if they'd let her; she often has to purchase a non coupon item to restore the balance. So, go and browse her posts and learn her trade if it's something you're interested in.

The idea of this is amazing. Spend little to no money out of pocket for groceries and toiletries??? Not only that, but make money on the "extra" items you don't need or want by reselling them at yard sales?

But when it comes right down to it, I just feel like it requires organization, determinedness, and detail oriented OCD tendencies I just don't possess. I know I could do it, but I'd really, really, really need to need the benefits of the time I put in. For her it is a hobby and a challenge. For me feels like a chore that makes me sweat just thinking about it.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

MOM

It was funny, the first time Matt met my mom he later told me, "Well, at least you know what you'll look like when you're older. " One year in High School I dressed up as my mom (when she was my age--using some of her old clothes) for Halloween because we looked so similar. Everyone thought I was supposed to be Mary Tyler Moore. (Right is my mom pictured with Dean, the day we got home from the hospital.)

There were many times in my life I thought I was my mom's little clone. We were the same height, had similar "red" personalities (though I am pretty sure I'm now "blue"), and we looked a like. She had 7 children; I wanted 8 (now leaning toward 3-5). She taught piano; I taught piano. She is very smart; I like to think that I am very smart. She wasn't trying to clone me; I just looked up to her so much that I wanted to be just like her.

But I tell you what, it hit me like a bolt of lightening one day when I was 19, sitting on my porch reading scriptures after a morning run (also very mom like), that it was ok for me not to be my mom's clone. Yes, she is an AMAZING person, but I don't have to be her down to the itty-bitty details.

Can I tell you what a relief that was? Mainly because I just couldn't keep up with her. She works more than any person I know. Seriously, vacation for her is a time to get projects done, not lounge around! The only day I have ever known my mom to "take off" and lounge around is Christmas day. And you know what? She LOVES being that busy. One time she told me, "I really can't sympathize with people who say they are bored. I have enough things I want to accomplish that I will never be able to do them all in this life." Almost all of my memories of my mom include conversations during laundry, dishes, gardening, or other chores. (I guess with 7 kids there was never a shortage of those things...)

I still aspire to be like my mom in many ways, but I'm now learning to mother and live my own way; we're similar in some respects and different in others.

It takes an amazing and strong woman to have 7 children and turn out sane and happy! (That applies to you too Grandma!!)

I swiped this picture from my mom's giant bucket o' pictures because I loved it. I don't know who the guy is, but the set up is just priceless.

Mom, I love you and am so happy you're my mom! I have learned a lot from you and will continue to ask for your advice. I know you're the world's most perfect mom because, hey, look at how I turned out! (Yeah, yeah. I swiped that from a greeting card.)

Capturing the moments: the joy of motherhood

I thought it was very fitting that this morning was the first time he's ever deliberately said mamamama (also bababababa). I know he doesn't yet associate that with me, but it was fun nonetheless to hear him say it. These are the moments I don't want to forget.

How could anyone resist falling in love with this little guy?? (Oh, and he's turning into such a flirt at church. Little girls and grandmas, he doesn't discriminate. He cranks up the charm for all.)

I can't think of anything I'd rather be than a little mamacita. I'm also very grateful I get to stay home with him. I wouldn't want to miss out on these times that are so short lived and will never return. We are blessed. He is our little blessing.

This was my favorite:
These came close behind:



Thursday, May 08, 2008

Strawberry-lime Sweet Slurp for my Candy Block Week

I bought two large bags of candy to bribe my piano kids. Rather than hiding it in my cupboard out of sight (like normal), it was sitting in my living room next to the piano. Easy access. Too easy. I was very good about not eating any during the day, but for some reason I would eat 4-5 snack size pieces at night.

Too much candy.

So I put myself on candy block. No candy, at all, for at least a week. Maybe more. It's not been that hard, but that's partially due to my newest strawberry sweet slurp concoction. That and hiding the candy in my cupboard at the end of lessons. (You know, the tall one that I have to get up on tip toes to reach.)

The last time I was at Costco, I couldn't resist buying the gigantic back of frozen strawberries. I think it's the warm days that possessed me. Here's my latest:

Strawberry-lime Sweet Slurp
Ingredients
5-6 large frozen strawberries
approx. 1 cup milk (I just pour in)- I use skim since that's what we drink
enough sugar, honey, splenda, etc. to sweeten to your liking (it doesn't take much-I used honey)
a couple good squirts of lime juice (fresh or from concentrate. mine was from concentrate.)

Directions
Blend it up in the blender until nice and smooooooth. If it's too thick, add a little more milk. If it's too thin, add ice cubes or another strawberry or two. Soooo good. Much better than candy.

Teeth.

The bottom two:

Ouch and Yowza.

















Oh, and by the way, he has been pulling his right ear a TON the last couple of days. He's not crying in pain when he does it, but should I be concerned? Ear pulling often accompanies teething doesn't it? We have an appointment with an ENT (our Bishop) next Thursday to look at his frenulum (the skin under the tongue) to see if he needs a Z-plasty (since his tongue is a little forked when he tries to stick it out). I was thinking I'd ask him about it if Dean's still doing it, but should I take him in to his pediatrician to check it out before then?

New Discovery

Grass.
Feel it. Touch it. Taste it.
Delightful.

Picture perfect

He really is just so photogenic. I can't get enough.

This isn't even my favorite from today's photo shoot, but I want to save the best for later.

People tell me he looks like Matt all the time, but I don't see it.

Matt told me he couldn't see me in Dean.

I guess we're even.

At church one time I heard someone say, "Who do you think he looks like?" and their kid said, "He just looks like him."

Yep. Dean just looks like Dean.

B.T.C.

We are finally there people. We are growing leaps and bounds in the sleeping and schedule department these days. It started off quite rocky, and we had to do some serious sleep training, but he is doing quite well now.

This is how his schedule seems to work best at the moment. I know it will probably change in a month or two, and not every day fits this exactly, but at least I am to the point I can put him down by the clock (more or less).

He loves his tag blanket.

6:30-7:30 am: wake up for the day (usually closer to the 7:30).
9 am: first nap 1-2 hours
12:30 pm: second nap 1-2 hours
3:45 pm: third nap 45 min.-1 hour
6-7 pm: bed time
3:30-4:30 am: feeding time approx. 20 min. and right back down.

Phew.

All I can say is: Thanks for making me revisit Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.

and: How does anyone live with children going to bed later than 8?? I cherish my evenings from 6:30 until I go to bed. It gives me a little piece of sanity.

Also, his stomach seems to be settling down quite a bit. He doesn't spit up or puke nearly as much as he used to. Thank heavens! Most of my clothes are puke stained now anyway, but at least I don't have to worry too much about smelling like it all the time.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Celia the Saint

Last week one of my piano moms asked if I could turn the song "I heard Him Come" into a women's trio for girl's camp. I forgot how stinking long the song was! I didn't really know how big of a project this was going to be when I said I'd do it, but good heavens it took me probably 15 hours (maybe more) total!

I originally thought it was for 3 specific girls. I knew that they had some really musical young women, so I made the harmony fairly challenging. It sounded quite good, if I do say so myself. On Sunday the mom called and said they needed it this week and asked if I would be finished. Oh, and hopefully it's not too hard. I finished it up last night, hoping what I had done wasn't too hard. When she came to lessons today I showed it to them. She tried singing through the alto part while her daughter sang 1st sop. She struggled with a few of the passages, and then told me their whole young women's was singing the trio.

Ok. It wasn't going to work. Too hard for the non-singers in the bunch. So, I had to rework it tonight. After about 5 hours of additional work, I'm finally done. They have the 3 singing parts separately on their own staffs, and a piano version to play the parts easily while learning. I used the free finale notepad to do the musical notation. (While the free version has some limitations, it's a great program to have.) The song's printed up, and I wouldn't be sad if I never heard it again.

If I had charged the same amount I charge for piano lessons, this song would cost them around $375. Service is good for us, though, right?

I swear this song is probably available in an SSA arrangement that they could have purchased for a couple bucks. It would be just my luck.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Cloning children = no good: svithetacular

Last week we had a good lesson in our Sunday School class. The quote that stood out to me most was:

“We need to discover who our children really are. We need to know what interests them, what worries them, and what they would do if they had their fondest dreams come true. Nearly always, their fondest dreams are wonderful. We can let children be their own selves and not expect them to be reproductions of their parents. Give them varied experiences so they can discover what interests them, and then encourage these interests and talents—even if they are not the same as yours” (“Teaching Our Children,” Ensign, Apr. 1994, 62).

Such a good thing to remember. It's easy to project our dreams and desires onto our children, but they're not us. I imagine it's also easy to get frustrated when your kids aren't like you. But rather than try and clone them into mini-me, we should help them develop their talents and reach their dreams.

Under Pressure

Enter Queen: "Pressure, pushing down on me, pressing down on you no man ask for..." Ha! Now I hope you have that totally awesome song in your head the rest of the day.

We finally bought ourselves a pressure cooker. 6 quarts, stainless steal with a little nob to hold and release the pressure safely (none of the old school weight stuff). Our main motivation was the artichokes sitting in our fridge, waiting to be gobbled up. Yuuummm. A nice, soft artichoke dipped in a little mayo. Or plain is good too. You know, I don't think I'd ever eaten an artichoke before I got married. Or mangoes. Or falafel. Or hummus. I'm sure there are more things, but it's so weird to think about.

My eating has definitely shifted. I guess some of it is due to Matt, some is due to cooking at New Haven, and some is due to just growing up. I mean, I didn't like olives, onions or bell peppers until we dated and/or got married. I didn't eat meat really. The first time I made hamburgers for New Haven I brought the meat home the night before and made Matt help me for the patties. I hadn't touched raw ground beef in years. I've come so far...

Anyway, that's off the topic. Back to my pressure cooker. I'm excited for other things now that I think about it. It will make baby food making go quicker. It's good for quick dinners since you can do meats and hard beans. My downfall with slow cookers is you have to think so far in advance. This helps us "wingers" out! It may take awhile to get the hang of timing, but I'm excited to try. Anyone have good recipes for a pressure cooker?

On a somewhat related note (food), because I have a Kitchen Aid, I was able to make Alton Brown's pizza dough exactly how his directions say. I've always just kneaded it by hand. It had a very different consistency and was definitely more "toss-able" than a hand knead. However, both Matt and I agreed that hand kneaded had a better taste and much better consistency. So, the reduced salt directions, by hand knead (approx. 10 min.) and stretch (not rolled out with a pin), is my favorite homemade pizza dough yet. Also, since I learned how to use a pizza stone correctly, I now prefer it on the stone. (Heat it in a 500* oven, on the second to bottom rack. Never make a pizza bigger than a medium size so it cooks evenly and you can shake it off the pizza peel easily. Cook the pizza for about 6-7 min.)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

5 years and counting

Well, today we tried to find some new living room furniture. No luck. We found two couches that worked stylistically and comfortably, but were no good in the color scheme. Boo. No oyster white for us. Or Native American brown. After dinner we watched Dan in Real Life. Probably the worst chick-flick I've ever seen in my life. I wanted to bang my head against a wall about 10 min. in, and it didn't get much better until the very end. I admit, it was my choice, but I was duped by the previews!! I thought it was a comedy with my good buddy Steve Carell. I didn't know it was going to be a horribly cliche and poorly written girly film. Oi.

Anyway, this was a little "tag" one of my friends did, and I decided to tag myself since it was appropriate for the occasion.



1. WHAT DATE IS YOUR ANNIVERSARY? May 3, 2003 Hey that's today!! Happy anniversary to us.

2. WHERE DID YOU GET MARRIED? Snowflake, AZ

3. WHO PROPOSED AND HOW? Matt did. We were hanging out in my living room after I made dinner. (Potato soup and bread bowls. It was yummy.) I had no clue he was proposing to me that night. (Oh, a funny side note: he'd almost asked me a few days earlier but didn't because we got in an argument over dinner talking about family topics relating to one of my classes.) A funny thing about that night was he had to wait and wait for one of my roommates to go upstairs since she kept coming in and out of the living room and kitchen. She also had her music blaring in there for about 1/2 hour to an hour. She obviously had no clue he was proposing to me that night either.

He had the ring in his pocket and at a random point in the evening he knelt by me and asked me to marry him. Of course I was going to say yes! I had already bought my wedding dress (unbeknownst to him!!!). We then called my parents (we had to make 2 calls since one of them was at home and one was in Mesa). They were kind of like, "glad it finally happened!" Then we called his parents (though I only remember talking to his mom) and she was totally shell shocked. Especially when we told her that we were planning on getting married in 2 months.

4. HOW LONG WERE YOU ENGAGED? 2 months (And may I just say I'm SO GLAD it wasn't any longer!)

5. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR WEDDING DAY? ( AND IT CAN'T BE YOUR HUSBAND) Sex. Can I say that? I mean, did you want me to say my bouquet or something? It was a very nice bouquet. My bouquet and dress were pretty much exactly what I wanted. Simple. Classic.

6. WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE IF YOU COULD? My photographer. And the chairs. I wish they had covers on them or something. And a few of the decorations. I left it almost completely up to anyone who was willing to help. And while it turned out really well for the most part, I must admit there were one or two decorative elements that I nearly took down and now wish I had. But I won't tell you what so no one feels bad. =)

7. WEDDING COLORS? Red and black. And gold made it's way in, though it wasn't one of my original choices. It was Asian themed because I went to China and had cool stuff. And it was different. Fortunately it was before Asian motif was so mainstream, so it wasn't yet cliche. Unfortunately it was before Asian motif became so mainstream, so the decorations I wanted (but didn't have from my trip) were a little hard to find.

8. REMEMBER ANYTHING SPECIAL ABOUT YOUR WEDDING CEREMONY? Right as we were going into the sealing room, our sealer accidentally stepped on my dress and ripped the bustle hook off. The cute little Temple worker lady hurried me into the dressing room and dodded (is that the word?) a new hook out of thread. She did an amazing job because it held through not only the wedding, but two receptions. We were a little late to our own sealing because of it though.

Oh, and the actual ceremony was pretty awesome because he related all of the endowment covenants to marriage one by one.

9. WERE YOU CLEAN OR MESSY WHEN YOU CUT YOUR CAKE? Messy-ish. Not really messy, but not really clean.

10. WHERE DID YOU GO ON YOUR HONEYMOON? We drove from AZ to northern CA over the span of a week. We spent a night in Flagstaff, Lake Havasu, Santa Clarita (went to Magic Mountain), Monterey Bay (went to the aquarium), and then at a bed in breakfast in Half Moon Bay.