Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Notes on Being Mormon: What Kind of Disciple am I?

Lately I've been thinking about this question a lot. I've also been thinking a lot about the nature of sin, but I think that's for another post. 

By the way, if you don't speak "Mormon" and want me to translate any of the jargon in this post, comment below. I think most of my readers are LDS, so I'm not going to worry about it as I write.

For over 3 years now, I've been serving as the Ward Primary Chorister. I deeply love these kids, especially my little fan club of 3-5 year olds in the front rows. They warm my heart and I love singing with them. However, it is a decidedly exhausting calling, and usually by Sunday (even before church) I'm just about falling over from fatigue, and then I push through primary with a smile on my face and singing my throat dry and then I go home and collapse for a while. Every. Sunday. (I'm currently working toward a solution to my fatigue, but I'm not there yet.) And every Sunday I feel all mixed up with both extreme tiredness and happiness. Dread and love. I don't get excited for this calling anymore-- not only am I physically tired, but I'm feeling a bit burned out. More than a bit...

Monday, December 30, 2013

Marshmallow Caramel Corn

As easy as Rice Krispy treats and tastier than mall caramel corn (which has that weird burned undertone), this is one of my favorite gooey, sweet treats. I have to use two bowls and divide the ingredients in half to be able to stir it all, because it's a huge batch-- all the better for sharing!

Marshmallow Caramel Popcorn

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Three Decidedly Uncool Things

I'm out of sync right now and haven't been keeping up on my blogs at the rate I was hoping to sustain. No surprise, really. My body seems to be having some issues. So this week, instead of three cool things, I give you Three Not Cool Things:

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Perfection Expectation

I recently read an article (blog?) called "Killing Off Supermom", which struck a chord for me. Over the years, I have long felt guilt, remorse, and shame due to the state of my imperfect, cluttered, messy house; my lack of homemade Christmas (and neighbor) gifts; my inability to stay on top of everything my children are doing; and the sad, sorry state of my daily hairstyle.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Three Cool Things 12/12/13

Oh my it's cold here in rural Utah. It's below freezing for the second week in a row. Thank heaven for modern conveniences like furnaces and electric blankets!! If you're looking for things to keep you busy while you stay indoors, maybe these will help.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Notes on Being Mormon: The Sleepover

First off, let me just say that I'M NOT TELLING YOU WHAT TO DO. So don't get your feathers in a flutter. I just feel like I want to share this, so that if anyone else thinks they're alone in their choice not to allow sleepovers, they will know that they're NOT alone.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Soup Season!

Winter is back, so that means it's soup season once again!! Soup is cheap, easy (relatively) and very good for you. Especially if you make your own broth.


Three Cool Things 12/4/13

Today's ideas are random and unrelated, but all great things:

First up is something that maybe all of you know about, but I didn't until about 18 months ago: Homemade Broth, also called Stock.
Did you know that broth made from bones is super-duper healthy? Consider the known benefits of chicken soup for colds. Yeah, now you're getting it. Did you also know that making homemade broth is as easy as simmering water? It totally is. And if you have a slow cooker, it's even easier.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Three Cool Things 11/20/13

I am so in love with this, I'm seriously tempted to buy it for myself for Christmas. First today is a gorgeous re-printing of the whole series of Harry Potter books. The artist, Kazu Kibuishi, perhaps best known for his excellent graphic novels "Amulet", "Flight" and "Copper", was asked by Scholastic (according to this article) to draw new covers for these books, and I think they are stunning. The paperback boxed set is available for purchase through Scholastic for $49 (which I can order for you-- I have an educator's account) or from Amazon for $58.50

Sunday, November 10, 2013

What I'm Thankful For

It's the time of year when many of my Facebook friends begin a daily log of the things they are thankful for. I don't have the patience for that, though I do see the value in it. Instead of posting my gratitude on Facebook, I'm going to make a quick list here of my top 10 most grateful things (today's things-- the list changes now and then!) If you don't care, that's cool.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pinterest Fail: Caramel Apple Slices

I found this on Pinterest:  The idea was simple. Slice up your Granny Smith apples, dip the slices, and they will be easier to eat than a whole caramel apple.


Monday, October 21, 2013

In Defense of Facebook

There are a lot of blogs and vlogs and Youtube videos and such out there that make fun of Facebook. One of my favorites is this one:

I've recently read a few "lists" of things people do that are most annoying on Facebook, etc. Some of these lists are very funny. Others are just high-horse criticism. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Hogle Zoo

It's been a few years since I took my kids to the Hogle Zoo. The kids have gotten older and just aren't as excited about it, and as entry prices go up, it's harder and harder to justify going. This year, though, we've heard all the excitement about the new polar bear and seal/sea lion exhibit, called "Rocky Shores". My relatives who've gone have told me how much fun they had and it seemed like a good time to go back. The last time we went, there were baby tigers in the new big cats area. This time, there are lots of new bears and the zoo hasn't ever had seals or sea lions that I can remember.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Stew Season!!

It's my favorite time of year to be in the kitchen. I love making soups and stews and wintery comfort food, baking holiday treats and the smell of good things in the slow cooker.

Every time I read a story that talks about travelers who stop at inns and eat crusty bread and hot mutton stew, it makes me hungry. My favorite of such books are Robert Jordan's (and to a lesser extent, Brandon Sanderson's) The Wheel of Time series, but that's a topic for another blog. So between fantasy novels and the crisp, cool air, I decided it's time for the first batch of stew of the season. (I even checked the weather forecast so I would be sure not to make it on a hot day. The high today is under 55 degrees, so that's perfect for stew and hot, fresh rolls!)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Letter to Eli McCann, With Whom I am Not Obsessed

One of my favorite blogs to follow is "It Just Gets Stranger" which is written by a local Mormon lawyer, Eli McCann. This is coincidence. I didn't know he was a Utahn, a Mormon or a lawyer when I first started reading it. I came for the Snuggies and stayed for The Queen of Colors. He is hilarious. After you've read for a while, you start to feel like you're in a club-- you get all the inside jokes, you know who Leotrix is. You watch for comments by the Anonymous that might be Jolyn... Eli is funny basically every day, too.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Notes on Being Mormon: Reluctantly Weighing In About Women and the Priesthood

I didn't want to write this post. There's a chance (a good chance) I won't post it. 

But it wants to be written.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Friday, September 6, 2013

Essential Oils: A Trial Period

I tend to avoid things that are trendy, expensive, and promise too-good-to-be-true results. And, don't shoot me, but I think essential oils falls into this category.

However-

I am willing to try new things if they come recommended by someone close to me. Usually it takes more than one such person to convince me, and often it takes multiple tries on their part, but usually I come around if you insist that your favorite miracle cure works.

Such is the case with peppermint oil. My sister-in-law, Kim, has been using them for... ever, and she has been telling me about that long that peppermint oil is a great external solution for headaches. Safer than Motrin or Tylenol, and effective.

The cost held me off for a while. 

But I get headaches. Not a normal skull hammering, and usually not migraines (though I sometimes get "silent" migraines, but that's a topic for another day), but I get a kind of fatigue-eye-strain-pressure thing in my forehead. I get them a lot. Particularly when I have been at work. I am currently blaming the giant room full of bright fluorescent lights. Glasses to help filter the light will cost me about $150, so... I decided to put on my sunglasses and try peppermint oil.

Said sister-in-law's sister sells Young Living, so I decided to support her, since she's family of family, and I paid her $22 (which I think may be her cost, it's over $28 on the website) and got my little bitty bottle the other day.

Then I went two days without any headaches. Yay! I don't actually get them every day, but they are frequent enough that I decided to take the oil to work with me, just in case. Good thing I did. This afternoon, I realized I was feeling so very tired and the pressure was starting to build in my forehead. I took my PM vitamins (which I'm trying for fatigue which is a nearly constant thing; I'm not sold yet) and remembered I had that oil. Huzzah!


I really did put on my sunglasses, but I also got out the oil. I spread a few drops on my forehead and a few more on my neck, as close as I could get to my hairline, and I went back to work. It took a few minutes, but shortly afterward, I realized the pressure was gone. GONE. Also, a few more minutes later, my skin started to tingle, but not unpleasantly, where the oil was. *Note: The website says to massage the oil in. I didn't do this. It might have been even more effective if I had. 

So the verdict? Well, I don't want to say it's a miracle cure, and I don't want to say that it for sure works for everything, but so far so good. I will be using it again and I will even try the tips from the website for keeping energy up. It is expensive, but if it improves my quality of life, it will be worth it.

I understand that there are many companies hocking essential oils nowadays, but only a few are reputed to be processed in such a way as to be most beneficial. The two I know of that are worth your money are DoTerra and Young Living. Some distributors will give you samples if you ask. 

Here are some tips the Young Living site has specific to peppermint oil:

Product Tips

  • Add a drop of peppermint essential oil to herbal tea to help aid normal digestion.
  • Massage several drops of peppermint essential oil on the abdomen, place a drop on wrists, or inhale to soothe the minor stomach discomfort associated with travel.
  • Rub one drop of peppermint essential oil on the temples, forehead, over the sinuses (careful to avoid contact with your eyes), and on the back of the neck to relieve head pressure.
  • Place 2 drops of peppermint essential oil on the tongue and rub another drop of oil under the nose to help improve concentration and alertness.
  • Apply peppermint essential oil to the back of the neck and shoulders throughout the day to keep energy up.
  • Inhale peppermint essential oil, apply topically to your temples or neck, or put a drop on your tongue or in water to jump-start your morning routine.
  • Diffuse or inhale peppermint essential oil mid-morning to curb the desire to snack.
  • Inhale peppermint essential oil or rub a drop on to your abdomen to soothe minor stomach discomfort.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Notes on Being Mormon: Mythology of the Devil

I had an experience yesterday, which, combined with recently reading Napoleon Hill's "Outwitting the Devil", made me realize a few things.


From: http://aboutmormons.org/2258/

First, a little background- my religion teaches that Satan started out just the way we started out-- as spiritual children of our Heavenly Father, and that he rebelled and started down the path to evilness and was cast out of the presence of God. 

Second- my religion teaches that we have the power to refuse Satan's temptations and evilness in our lives. 

So this is what I realized: the world, in general, has done a really good job of mythologizing satan. Probably with his encouragement and whispered ideas. Think about this for a minute. In many religions, Satan rules Hell, right? He's almost always perceived as this huge, powerful, terrifying being-- often in a demonic, beast-form with cloven hooves and a spiked tail and horns and the like. Imagine the glee he must feel when people are sold this version of him.

What if I told you the myth is a lie?

What if all along, he's actually been even less powerful than you or me? Oh, he's smart. He's tricky and he's very, very good at camouflaging his lies by hiding them in a bucket of truths. He'll tell you ten truths so you'll believe one lie. I'm not saying he is without power, but I think most of us imagine him as being much more powerful than he really is.


What if we've been duped? What if, instead of a towering, growling horrifying beast, he's just an angry, man-like being? 


My religion also teaches that because of his choices in the pre-existence (pre-Earth life), Satan will never get a body. He will remain in that pre-mortal form forever. While we, having received bodies because we chose to stick with God and Jesus instead of following Satan, will have the opportunity to learn, grow, and become more than what we were. We have the potential to become like God-- resurrected beings. Deep doctrine, I know, but that's what we believe.


As such, we have continued to move forward while Satan fights a losing war. He has won some battles, sure; he's captured some souls, perhaps. There are some who prefer lives of evil and wickedness, and there are many, many others who are inadvertently following Satan-- read the book-- Napoleon Hill makes a very good argument for this-- he calls it "drifting"-- instead of controlling our own thoughts, many of us mortals just exist and let depression or hopelessness or fear or desire control us-- it's a fascinating idea. 


Anyway, I feel rather... empowered by letting go of the myth of the gigantic, steaming, frightening evil that is Satan. He's just a rebellious dude who is angry he won't ever get his way. He won't ever control all the souls of men. He won't ever rule and have all the glory. 


One other note about Mormon doctrine-- we also believe that Jesus and Heavenly Father wanted us to come to Earth, to gain bodies, so that we could exercise our agency (or right to choose). We believe that Satan wanted to remove the agency part of the plan entirely. Think about that. It makes sense, then, that his power lies in controlling as many of us as he can. Convincing people that he offers freedom, he actually binds them with chains of addiction, failure, fear and negativity.


The point is, let's not give Satan more power than he has. Let's not let mythology frighten us. Let's take control of our minds, our actions and our lives. Recognize evil exists, acknowledge the battle going on behind the scenes of the Earth, and choose a side. 


Probably the only thing more dangerous than not recognizing your power over Satan is denying his existence... but that's a topic for another time. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Easy Delicious Chicken Enchiladas

Every time I make these, my husband mentions that they're better than anything you can get in a restaurant. 

Of course, they are my own combination of ingredients that are probably not even remotely authentic Mexican, but taste really good together. In the interest of full disclosure, I did get some of the ideas used in making these from other recipes, but some things are ALL ME!! 

Enchiladas are relatively easy to make, but do take a little time commitment, so I don't make them on days we have a gazillion activities plus work. That means I don't make them hardly ever. 
Enchilada Sauce in the sprayed pan

Spray an 11x14 baking pan with cooking spray, then drizzle enchilada sauce in the bottom, if you have extra (not necessary). I ended up needing an 9x9 square pan, too. Preheat your oven to 350.

Ingredients:
Chicken breasts-- I used 3 for this batch- one large, one medium-sized and one tiny one. (You can also use left over chicken, left over turkey, etc.)

Tortillas- I use the bigger 10-inch kind. I had one bag of fresh-made sold at Winco, and another bag of less-healthy and authentic Don Julio brand. They roll nicely and taste good, so don't judge me.
Enchilada Sauce- We sometimes use red, but I prefer green. I like "medium" heat so you get a little kick
White Rice- About 1 cup uncooked
Cream of Chicken Soup- 1 can
Sour Cream- about 1/4 cup (Optional)
Cheddar cheese-- somewhere between 1/2 to 1 pound, depending on your taste
Sometimes we also use Pepper Jack cheese, but I didn't have any tonight. You can also have extra on hand for sprinkling on top, if you like.
Spices:
Black Pepper
Garlic Salt
Onion Powder
Chili Powder
Cumin

1. Cook your rice. I have a rice cooker, so that's how I roll. I start it, then move on to the rest of the work while it bubbles.
After Mostly Scooped Out
2. Pour some olive oil into your pan and drop in the chicken breasts. Season with a good sprinkling of all spices listed
the above. Cook for a while, until one side is done, then flip and season the other side. When it's done, chop it up!  Alternatively, you can chop the raw chicken and cook it faster. 
Chicken
3. While the chicken and rice cook, grate your cheese and start dumping all the ingredients except seasonings (and tortillas, obviously) into a big bowl. You only need 1/2 the can of sauce if your can is as large as the one pictured. If you have a smaller can, use the whole thing.
Chicken, Cheese, Soup, Rice
4. When the rice is done, dump it into the bowl of deliciousness. Mix well.
Enchilada Filling w/all ingredients
5. Scoop between 2/3 and 3/4 cup of filling into your tortilla in a line down the center
Scooped and Ready



Fold then Roll
6. Fold up two ends of the line of filling, then roll up the other way and put into the pan. Keep going until the pan is full- you can squish them in tight or not. I like them to be cozy but not smashing each other.



All Tucked In
7. You can leave them bare, drizzle extra sauce on top or sprinkle with cheese (or both!!)


8. Bake until bubbly, about 20-25 minutes.
Enchilada Party!
I like to eat these with sour cream. My husband eats them with Sriracha sauce (available everywhere), and my kids eat them just as they are. 

Enjoy!

Foodie Fancies

Aside from garlic, I think cumin might be the best seasoning ever. (Well, aside from chocolate. If you can call chocolate a seasoning. Which I vote yes for. Everything's better with chocolate.
 
But cumin? YUM. I didn't even know about it until I had been married a few years and my husband made his amazing scratch chili (which will make you NEVER eat canned chili again. It's that good.) and we had to buy some. Since then, I've used cumin to season refried beans (even from a can, you can season them up and make them tolerable), chicken for everything from quesedillas to shredded pork to enchiladas, tacos, etc. Anything remotely Mexican or southwestern gets a good dash of cumin. It's funny that something I wasn't aware of for most of my life has become a staple in my spice cabinet.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

I Would Get Kicked Out of Line at Immigration


Today my son traded me for a 2013 quarter that features a dude posing next to a large post. I think it's a monument. It also says the words "Perry's Victory". I don't know anything about it. I don't know who Perry was or in what he was victorious, or why he would be standing in front of his own monument-- aren't they usually built for dead people?

Here's a picture:


I just noticed that it also says "Ohio" on the left. Wohoo! A clue! I feel like Sherlock Holmes! These are my observations: Perry had fabulous hair, a nice face, and pants that were also boots. It looks like he's wearing a cape (Sorry, Edna Mole) and reaching around behind himself for... something. Maybe a rifle. Maybe a victory chocolate.

I would make a terrible immigrant. 

I can say it: I would fail, and they wouldn't let me in. 

They'd be all like, "Woah, woah, woah. If you can't even tell us who "Perry" on the Ohio quarter is, just go to the end of the line!"

And I'd be like: "Wait! Perry the Platypus? Admiral Parry that is mentioned in "Ragtime"? Elder Perry of the Mormons?" 

And they would just shake their heads in disgust.
Like you're probably doing right now...

Really, the designers of these quarters ought to do us all a favor and inscribe the history on the other side. Condensed. 

Or a website to go to for the whole story.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Running and Beer

I realized something today, while discussing running with my children. None of us sees the value of running. For one thing, it's boring, sweaty, difficult, boring and not fun. We were talking about the merits of dancing, parkour (which my son is REALLY into lately), and even most sports as being superior to running. Because running is boring. 

Unless you're The Doctor. In which case, running is awesome

But to be fair, I told my sons that I understand from die-hard runners that if you run enough, eventually you begin to really enjoy it and even love it and crave it. 

Which sounds an awful lot like how people have to acquire a taste for beer.

I've never had beer, but I've smelled it and EW! Why would anyone put that on their tongue??!


What I understand about beer is that you have to drink it a while to get used to the taste and eventually come to a place where you love it and crave it. 

Like running.

So, using a home-grown scientific analysis method, we have deduced that running=beer.

Running requires tolerance for the ickyness at the start.
Beer requires tolerance for the ickyness at the start.
The more you run, the more you begin to like it.
The more beer you drink, the more you begin to like it.
If you keep running, you'll eventually love it.
If you keep drinking beer, you'll eventually love it.
Running is addictive.
Beer is addictive.
Hence running=beer.

It's scientifical. It must be true.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Easy, Fast, Homemade Donuts

I've made yeast fried donuts once or twice, and as delicious as they were, they were a lot of work.

I learned about this "recipe" (which can hardly be called such, in my opinion) from my sons, who learned it at Scout Camp! I've never done this in a dutch oven, but I hear they taste even better-- because (say it with me:) everything tastes better when you're camping!

First, assemble your ingredients:
I use canola oil in when I fry, but I think you can also use coconut oil, which is even healthier.
Any kind of biscuits will work. I had a coupon for these, so this is what I bought. 

Pre-cook Prep: Lay a couple of brown paper sacks on a cookie sheet, and top that with a cooling rack. 

Step 1- Pour about 1 inch of oil into a pan (I use a cast iron skillet, but you can use a basic pot-- I wish I had this one from www.overstock.com! If you do deep-fry, you'll need more oil) and turn it on to medium-high. 

Step 2- Mix up your glaze- whisk together about 11/2 cups powdered sugar with about 1/4-1/2 cup water (add a little at a time) until a thin syrup consistency.


Step 3- Lightly flour your work surface and flatten the biscuits either with your hand or a rolling pin. Cut out the centers. I have a little biscuit/cookie cutter, but you can really use anything that is the right size, or even a butter knife. 
 

Step 4- Once the oil is about 375 degrees, drop dough in, a few at a time. Cook until they float and you can see light golden edges, then flip them over until golden on both sides. 
    TIPS: Don't crowd them. It will make them too hard to flip and cool the oil down. Also, if you don't have a thermometer, you can test your oil by dropping a few drops of water into it. If it pops, it's hot enough. Your first donut might need to be a "test", just to make sure it's not too hot, however. 


Step 5- Remove the donuts from the oil and put them on the cooling rack.
A couple got a little dark, because I was distracted by taking pictures...

Step 6- Dip them into the glaze, flip gently, then put back on the rack.
You can see a few of mine have dark spots. My oil wasn't deep enough at first and they burned on the PAN! Duh. 

These are really yummy warm, but also quite good after they've cooled. They taste very similar to yeast donuts, but without all the fuss!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Flipping Good Cheesesteak Sandwiches

 from food.com
I had my heart set on trying a recipe for slow cooker cheesesteak sandwiches this week, but last week, my cooker committed suicide, so I had to find another way. I dug around a bunch of recipes on the web, read lots of opinions (Cheeze Whiz?? Really?? Nothankyou...) and decided what I wanted to do. I'm writing it here, not just to share it with you, but because I want to go back and make it again soon, it was that delicious. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cat Lady, Almost Crazy

We have a young cat named Holly (she really can't be called a kitten anymore), about 9 months old, and though she's about full grown, she still thinks she's a kitten and plays and chases and is just SO MUCH FUN. I had no idea she would be this much fun. (This picture is from a few months ago, when she was still small. She's much bigger, now!)



Saturday, July 20, 2013

Parenting Ideas: Protecting Kids in the 21st Century

I believe it is parents' responsibility, duty and obligation to not only teach their children morality, ethics, virtue and general goodness, but also to do everything in their power to protect them from the evils of the world. Not that they shouldn't learn about the evils of the world, just that they don't necessarily need to be exposed to them. Primarily, for the purpose of this article, I'm talking about pornography.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Bathroom Psychosis

Preface: My son has Crohn's Disease, and every 8 weeks we go to the local children's hospital so he can sit on a bed and play video games for 4+ hours while I try to find ways to keep myself busy and not go stir crazy or get stiff joints from sitting for so long. The purpose of the 4+ hour visit is so they can stick a tube in his vein and pump him with meds that keep his body from tearing itself open from the inside. Good stuff. 
Good thing they outlined it in black. 

In hospital bathrooms, there is usually a thick, metal bar near the toilet (I can only assume that some people have a hard time lifting themselves up from the toilet. I really don't want to know.), and below or adjacent to the bar is a long, cord with a knob at the end. At our hospital, it's red, and where the cord comes out of the wall are three words: PULL FOR HELP. Whenever I'm in there, I have to control a compulsive impulse to yank that cord. Sometimes my hand actually twitches toward it when my eyes inevitably land on it.

Of course I don't need help and, frankly, I would collapse and DIE of embarrassment just knowing the I had lit up the nurses' station with the "Someone needs help in a bathroom" alarm. (Of course, then I would need help. But I would still be mortified. And dead.) 

If I didn't collapse, they would hurry down to the room only to find it empty and me bolting down the corridor, hiding behind my hair, (like the little girl in that scary movie I can't watch-- "The Ring", I think) never to return again.

I don't really understand this phenomenon. Why do I feel like I have to pull that cord? Is it because, on the whole, I always follow instructions? Is it because the print is in red and the cord is red and there is some level of authority that comes with the color red that makes me want to obey? I have to remind myself that it's not a command. It's NOT THE BOSS OF ME!


The double room. The bane of social anxiety sufferers.
My social anxiety is such that, when we have to share a room with another patient's family, I won't use the bathroom in the room. I will walk out of the treatment center, into the hospital at large, and use the public restroom in the hall. I just can't stand the thought of someone knowing that's what I'm doing on the other side of that wall. Especially since it involves both nudity and private parts, which are fine and dandy, as long as no one acknowledges MINE. I'm blushing just writing this. And I think I've forgotten the point of this paragraph...

Oh, yeah. The point is that I'm sure glad I've developed a massive amount of self-control over the years and I hope it never fails me. Because the world is just packed with buttons to push and boxes to open and signs commanding me to do all sorts of things that I don't actually want to do.

And that's just one small way I'm crazy, boys and girls. 

The End

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

By Request: Slow Cooker Dinners

We use our slow cooker a lot, especially during the fall and winter months. I had a friend ask me for my recipes, and I decided if I'm going to make that list, I'd better make it here so I can find it again. I do make the basics: Pot roast, Whole chicken, etc. which are basically just meat and veggies and seasonings and are yummy standards, but I got bored of that and started collecting other recipes. All of these, except the last one, we have tried with great success.

So by request, here are my favorite oft-repeated slow cooker dinners:

Friday, June 14, 2013

Secret Secrets

Isn't it funny the things we keep secret? 
Here are a few of mine Shhhh, don't tell:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Parenting Ideas: Confessions



I realized, after reading THIS that too most of my Facebook posts and blog entries indicate I'm living up to a near-perfect mommy standard that is fictional, simply because I don't want to be negative. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Parenting Ideas: Praise

When my children were young I felt inspired (yes, I do that sometimes) that I should be generous with praise for their good choices and obedience, as a way to encourage them to continue doing such. In a way, raising kids is similar to training a dog-- you give a command, they respond well, you tell them they did a great job and the next time the command is given, they'll remember the outpouring of approval from you and they'll want that again, so they will respond well again. Hopefully, right? I've never had a dog, I'm just going on what I've seen on TV and read...

Friday, June 7, 2013

Parenting Ideas: Guilt

Sometimes guilt gets in my way. As a mom, I feel guilty about a myriad of (frequently conflicting) things, including:

Unhealthy food-- too often, dinner gets served without a vegetable. 

Too healthy food-- the kids tell me they don't want to have their friends over because we have "nothing good to eat". 
I don't pay enough attention-- I sat on my iPad today for two hours instead of playing with my 10-year-old daughter. Or talking to her. Or listening to her...
I pay too much attention-- I get involved in things my kids should be able to resolve for themselves, I step in and correct behavior too much, I remind them (aka: nagging) too much
I correct them too much-- I'm a stickler for grammer, spelling and pronunciation. I also have things I simply will not tolerate: name calling, physical violence, indoor screaming, laziness...

Friday, May 17, 2013

In Other News... Making All Other Moms Look Bad

Recently, I came across this article about an amazing New York mom, who happens to be an incredible artist and, seriously, the coolest geek-chic lady around. She draws incredible things on her kids' lunch napkins, making the rest of us simpleton mothers look like the ham-handed non-artistic buffoons we are.  Enjoy. A-Maze-Ing. I feel like the scribbled "Love you, buddy" in my kids' lunches in the early years of elementary school are wholly inadequate by comparison. 

This mom? She's a Gold Medal Mom. Awesome. 

My favorite one of those shown on KSL: 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

My Essay on Abortion

When I was in high school, and abortion was still a relatively newly public topic (Roe vs. Wade was in 1973 and only 15 years later I was in high school), we had to write an essay on something we felt strongly about. When I was just a little younger, I remember learning what abortion is and being shocked-- stunned, that anyone would want to end the life of a baby, regardless of the circumstances. To learn that this was perfectly legal, that the baby was being called only a "fetus" and "tissue" did nothing to assuage my horror. So, when I wrote my essay, my junior year, I wrote about what I consider to be an evil in our society: abortion.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Parenting Ideas: Don't Leave

Okay. This is pretty simple. Have kids? Stick around. Don't move away, don't abandon them, don't decide your life would be better without them. Kids can't choose to leave. Kids can't choose whether you're their parents or not.

So love them. 
from www.goodenoughmother.com


Stick around, and love them. Don't stick around and beat them or dominate them or manipulate them or use them to get attention. 

It's not all about you.

No, seriously. It's not even very much about you. Parenting is about your responsibilities, your joy in making your children laugh, your honoring the obligation to teach them about good behavior, manners, doing their part, owning their mistakes, and hard work. Parenting is about being there. 

This post comes from a very personal place, if you can't tell. My mother did not live up to her obligations. She chose selfishness; leaving her seven children with their dad (thank you, for that, though, as he is SUPERMAN). That's the very short version of the story, of course. But it should suffice.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Pinterest FAIL FAIL FAIL: Dishwasher Detergent

I loved this blogger's homemade laundry soap, so I went into making the dishwasher detergent with high hopes. I am so, so, SO very disappointed.

I followed the recipe, and as recommended, I used citric acid instead of kool-aid, because I didn't want to dye my dishwasher yellow. And I use vinegar with every load in my dishwasher (hard water!!) already, so I figured that would be good enough, rather than paying more money for Lemi-Shine.

But regardless of how much vinegar I use, my dishes have been coming out with a thin film on them. I reduced the amount of soap from a full, rounded Tablespoon to slightly less than a TB, and the dishes didn't even come out clean. And there was still a film on them. Ugh.

I'm not happy. I really hate wasting things. Even if it's under $20 of ingredients, it's still wasteful. Boo.

I think I will add the rest of the bottle of citric acid to the soap and see if that helps. Maybe I didn't put enough in to begin with. But... I doubt it will make a difference at this point. If not, I'm done. Back to store-bought soap for me. 

Lame!


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Parenting Stuff Idea 3- Let Your Kids Do Hard Stuff

Safe Routes Partnership
It occurred to me this week at a piano recital that we parents frequently try to rescue our kids from difficult things. Not only big difficult things, like that science fair project you stay up all night with, but little things such as sitting through the entire concert, instead of taking them home early. My son was playing in a recital on Friday night and he was third of 15 or so performers. My daughter, itching to get home and call her friends, asked me a few times if we could just leave after he played. I toyed with the idea, because I wouldn't have minded getting home earlier, too, but as I thought it over, I decided it would be good for her to hear some new piano pieces, and to support her fellow students, and even though it might be hard, she's not a toddler anymore, and it would be good for her to sit still for an hour and behave.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Parenting Stuff Idea 2: Rules

Idea 2: Rules
from: BBC.co.uk
Parenting involves a lot of rules and limit-setting. It is necessary to have limits and guidelines for the children in your stewardship. Even God has rules, so naturally we parents of little mortals better have some. This can be extremely painful for you and your kids, or it can be loving and reasonable.