Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Snow or No?

Living in Southern Idaho, there is the chance of snow here, but it is not always a guarantee, like in other places. Like, Utah or Michigan or Maine for example. But the chance is still a worry for me. Growing up, I lived for many of my younger years in upstate New York, in a rural community where the were still open spaces and people had yards in which to play. I loved the snow then. It was fun to get bundled up, until my hands and face were so red that they tingled and felt numb when I finally gave in and went inside. I remember laughing as a child when I would lose my boot in the snow while sledding because the snow was so heavy. The snow was fun then. Then at the age of 10, we moved to northern Arizona, and I got my first taste of a warm winter, and boy, did I love it! It was different, and fun to be able to play outside in just shirts, and pants, sometimes shorts in the winter. Then eventually we moved to Utah, where the snow returned, and I started to not think it was so fun, more of an inconvenience really. I was old enough then to have to help shovel, and learning to drive, and driving in snow and on ice, as we all know, not fun! Now, as I live here in Idaho, I am at an age when looking at it through a window from my nice, cozy warm house, is perfect! The snow is beautiful, especially when I don't have to drive in it. However, my teenager may have too, and so the worry begins. But, so do the memories of when I was a small child, as I watch my two little ones run around in it, and swing on their swing, and slide down the slide into the pile at the bottom. As they wait until they can't stand it anymore and run in the house with red cheeks and frozen hands, because with gloves they, "can't feel the flakes." The pure joy of a child is a wonder to behold! So, today as I watch the weather report to see if the snow is getting any closer, I will remember the happy moments, but still hope that the snow will hold off for another day or two.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Clutter of the Holidays!

I use to think that my 1400 square foot house was small, which it is for a now family of five, especially with 2 of us being under the age of 6. That was until I started decorating for Christmas, the tree alone, which is 7 1/2 feet tall takes up a lot of floor space, and because of it's height, it goes practically in the middle of the living/dining space, because the ceiling is tall enough there. Then out come my Christmas village pieces, of which I have three growing sets, and all of the other knick-knacks that are just too cute to leave in the boxes, and the space is starting to dwindle pretty fast. I should probably mention that I do have two additional smaller trees and decorations that go on them but those decorations are too breakable and mostly handmade and irreplaceable so those will not be put up until the kids are a lot older. But, you might be starting to get the picture. I love the Christmas season, what can I say. It is difficult right now to manouver around, and I am constantly bumping into the tree, listening to the ornaments rattle as I go by, but as long as the tree doesn't topple over, I think I am okay. The funny thing is that as in years past, once we take the tree down, and the decorations are back in the boxes and the boxes are back outside in the place that they reside for the rest of the year, the house will feel so big and empty. That is quite comical considering that right now I feel closed in and crowded, yet full of the holiday spirit.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Reading instead of Teaching?

Okay, so normally I don't have a problem with listening to someone else read, a book or a lesson in class, but today it just rattled me that our teacher in Relief Society, who is a High School Teacher during the week felt that it was alright to read practically verbatim, word for word the lesson she was giving from a talk in the Ensign. She did not allow for questions or comments from others, and when someone tried to ask a question or make a comment, she kept plugging away, reading what we could all have read for ourselves. If I wanted to read the lesson, which I already had actually, I could have done that on my own time and by myself. I have taught a fair amount of the lessons myself in the past, but I at least try to look at the others in the room, and engage them in a conversation though brief, and ask for comments or questions if there was a misunderstanding. She did not. I would think that this might have been an off week for her, but this has happened before, plus she has an entire month to prepare. I just wish that she had engaged everyone in class more, it would have made the lesson more involed instead of feeling like we were being talked at and preached to.

The tree is up and decorated with lots of help!

And I mean LOTS! The kids eyes got bigger and bigger as the boxes of decorations were brought into the house, then they wanted to touch everything! That made for a dilemma, since a lot of what is on top in each box is pretty breakable. Once I set out a pile of unbreakable items for them to decorate with, I would say, "One at a time," Robyn listened and took one off the table at a time and put it on the tree at her eye level, about 3 1/2 to 4 feet up, and Anna grabbed as many ornaments as she could, and placed them below her eye level, on the lowest branches of the tree. I had to laugh because I don't thing those branches have ever seen ornaments, I can't reach that low.
Jim then came to the rescue, and took the kids out for a drive, so that I could "fix" the tree. I did rearrange a few of the ornaments, just so some of them were up higher, and I added a few more to the top, along with ribbon, but I did leave a large number of them where they were placed by the kids, because as you might suspect, they would notice.
This morning when we woke up, Robyn who is 5, came out of their room, and she was disappointed to notice that Santa didn't come last night, and Jim had to explain that Santa wouldn't be here for a while yet. She even said to me that we forgot to make Santa cookies. That is so cute. As for Anna, when she got up, her sister had just turned on the tree lights, and Anna, who is 2, said, "The tree is awake!" With all the enthusiasm possible. She makes me smile!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Time to Get Ready!

It is time to get ready, and I am excited and dreading it all at the same time! My kids and husband will start bringing in the Christmas decorations and all of my festive stuff today. That is a tradition of my family and Jim and I adopted that when we got married. I take down fall decor and put up Christmas stuff the weekend after Thanksgiving. I look forward to this for weeks, much to the chagrin of my dear husband. Because, he gets to do all the heavy lifting for me, so that is understandable. I dread my house becoming all festive for two reasons this year. One reason happens each year, and that is that I hate having to put everything away. It NEVER fits in the box right, and the big roll of tape gets brought out for this very reason, to make things fit. The other reason is fairly new this year. You see, I am relatively afraid of spiders, especially big ones, and I have heard a bug or two squeal with fright at the appearance of one in my kitchen, above the oven hood, where I have canisters and old masons jar as decorations. The plan is for the holidays we are going to put some of the smaller village pieces up there, so that requires facing my fear of that spider. Which I also fear is a big one, that could run at me, instead of away. So, everyone else who is preparing to decorate for the holiday season, this wekend, good luck, and happy decorating! Don't forget a fly swatter or a big can of bug killer!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Black Friday to look forward to...

I am not getting up before dawn to stand in line to push and shove through a throng of crazed people to get one out of only five laptops in the whole store for the amazing deal, and the 42 inch TV for $399.99. That is not me, and most years the day after Thanksgiving is just another day for me. I usually get ready to put up our Christmas decorations, by moving furniture around to make room, and vacuuming the floors and dusting the entertainment center, so that we can get out my Christmas Village pieces, but this year, I am excited. I will be shopping with my husband's Aunt and his sisters at a craft bizarre and at a friend's store. There is no rushing for me, if someone wants something that I am looking at, I will not push and shove them to get to that item, I will not glare and shout at someone who cuts in line in front of me, I just will not. At least that is my hope. Don't get me wrong, I am usually a nice person, but I do not like crowds, I get antsy when I am in a confined space for too long with a lot of other people, but I will be with my husband's family, and if you are married too, you will understand that you do not want to give these people any more ammunition than they already have on you. Then the plan after hitting those two places, we are all going to go to lunch. Which is actually what I am looking forward to. Adult conversation! That will make all of the traffic, and the crowds worth it, adult conversation! No Blue's Clues for two hours, followed by Dinosaur Train for an hour, with a Backyardigans thrown in there for good measure, my hubby has volunteered to watch the kids for me. Which means football, all day long! That will be torture for them, and by the time I get home they will be glad to see me, and I them! What a great day to look forward too!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I am thankful for...

That is a Question for all to ponder, and I am no exception. I am thankful for so many things, big and small. I am thankful for my life as it is now, I am thankful that I am given the agency to choose for myself, for a loving and understanding husband. For children who love me unconditionally and forgive me each and every day for the shortcomings that they endure, I am thankful for my experiences, both good and bad. I am thankful for trivial things like hot chocolate and frozen Reeses peanut butter cups, and electricity, and cell phones and a SUV with Onstar, and indoor plumbing in our warm and cozy home. But, I am also thankful for the Doctor's that helped me to have the life I do now, and the Doctor that will help my middle daughter be able to walk better, sooner than we were expecting, and the pain medications that are available so that there will be minimal suffering for both of us. I am also thankful for my education, and the opportunity that I have to further my knowledge each and every day. I am most thankful for a loving and gracious Heavenly Father who knows my desires, and in spite of my stumbles, and blips on the radar, He smiles at me anyway because He knows my intentions and my hopes and shows that He loves me every single day!

Cake Mix, Pie Filling, & Cool Whip...

That is all it takes for a yummy dessert! You see, I have this pan, it is a Duncan Hines pan that has a well in it, with a decorative edge. so when the cake mix bakes in the pan and cools slightly, you overturn the pan and there is a well in which the pie filling goes. It is so pretty. Before I had this pan however, I would still make it, in a 13 x 9, or even a bundt pan works.
For this recipe, you can either make chocolate or spice cake, which are favorites in our house.

For the cake:
1 box cake mix, chocolate or spice.
Mix the cake as directed on the box.

For the topping:
1 can cherry, blueberry or apple pie filling.
The apple is for the spice cake.

1 8-ounce container of Cool Whip.

Make the cake as directed and put the cake mix in the desired pan. Bake the cake as directed on the box. Do NOT forget to grease or spray the pan with cooking spray. This is very important. Once the cake is done baking and has cooled enough, turn out the pan, unless using a 13 x 9, then this step can be skipped. Pour or spoon the pie filling into the well, or over the top of the cake. When using a bundt pan, you can spoon the pie filling directly on a plated piece of cake. When completely cooled, right before cutting to serve, spread Cool Whip over the top of the pie filling, or when using a bundt pan, you can slice and plate before adding the Cool Whip as well. This make for a better presentation in this case. I hope that this sounds like something you would like to try. My family loves this, and it is a low fat dessert after a heavy meal.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Black Friday is Approaching...

Will you be part of the madness that happens in the wee hours of the morning? I can say, that I will not. Now, I am not saying that I will not be out amongst the throngs of people later on in the day, but I need as much sleep as I can get with a teen and two young children in the house.
My plans are a little less stressful, for me that is. I say that because my wonderful husband will be at home watching over, and caring for the kids while I am out. That, my friends is reason enough for celebration. If I happen to go to the grocery store without my kids, I am the person, walking slower than a snail, looking at the packaging, and the displays, while thinking of menu ideas, checking the labels, and gumming up the aisles, yes, that is me. It is my respite to go to the grocery store without the kids. So, thank you for allowing me to get in your way, as you hurry by, trying to pick things up and get out of the store as fast as humanly possible, it is much appreciated!
But, I digress for a moment and think wishfully on the next chance I may have for that to happen. As for my Black Friday plans, I talked to one sister in law and asked her if they were all(her sisters), going to do their usual craft fair and Real Deals excursion, to which she said yes, and then she asked if I would be able to come...woohoo! There it was, the invite, third time in the over eight years that my hubby and I have been married, and not in consecutive order, but an invite just the same. So excited to be included, even if I had to initiate that happening. So, does it matter that I will not have more than $20 to spend all day long, No, not in the least. I have been invited!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Handmade, and in a Panic!

Okay, I am a person who fears things like raising my hand to volunteer, and I hate deadlines, not that I don't enjoying helping a person or completing something, I do, it is just that moment of sheer panic that hots me initially is a big issue. I volunteer all the time. Mostly for church, with meals for the sick, or pots of soup, etc., for a ward party, as I love to cook, a lot! As for deadlines, I am a planner so it shouldn't be a big deal to plan, as I am a big list maker, groceries, chores, dreams, all go on a list. It is just as the time for completion gets closer I go into panic mode.
For family Christmas gifts this year I am now in full panic mode. But, back in March of this year, 2011, you would have thought and probably told me, " will have plenty of time." Now, in mid November, not so much! You see, I got this huge idea, to save money, I would hand make everyone a gift this year, a cross stitched Christmas ornament, and not just one, but a different "set" for each person, family or couple. Which initially wasn't so bad, some of the ones I picked to make out of the 6 or 7 patterns/books that I have only had 4 or 6 in the set, but they took time. Time that I thought I had...and now I am running out!
But, a plus, I have gotten them almost done. The cross stitch is completed for everyone, and now I am just trying to mount each and everyone of then so that I can wrap them, in a cute package, and all the other wrapping ideas that pop into my head at this time of year.
I have to tell you though I ask for work and the trouble that goes with it. I decided yesterday during my toddler's naptime that I would hand color, using colored pencils, cute pictures to use as tags for the same hand made gifts so I got that done, then last night at 10:45 p.m. if that wasn't enough, I got this big idea to tie small ribbon bows to make refridgerator magnets for these same people getting these gifts. Time is running out, and I am knee deep in cross stitch floss, and ribbon! The picture included is in one of the books that I have, but in the next couple of days I will postactually pictures of what I have made. The neat thing, some of the pattern books that i have are 25+ years old. The ornaments are still cute and timeless!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Asked to Make a Dessert...

Well, two actually. I love when you are talking with one family member and you get things figured out as to who is maing what and who is bringing which dish for a major holiday meal, then you get a call from another family member asking you nt to bring what has already been figured out, but two of someting different. Compare notes people! That is what has happened. It had been discusse and decided that I would bring a variety of quick breads. Pumpkin, Apple, Banana, and Sweet Potato, were what I had planned on, and actually already have stored away in my deep reze for this. Then the other phone call asked me to bring not just one dessert, but two. In the past several years,I have always brought a pumpkin cheesecake, made from scratch, and though I love the one that Costco makes, mine tastes better, according to my husband. But anyways, I don't think that they realize that two of these things are going to cost of the ingredients cost me more than the price of a 20 pound turkey, or maybe they do, who knows. I have added a stock photo of the pumpkin cheesecake that I make, just because it sure does look yummy!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Preparing for the Holiday!

In preparation for the big Turkey Holiday, we are actually doing something that is so required and needed that I am looking forward to it, yeah, right! We need to defrost our large upright freezer. See, I told you I was looking forward to it. There is less in the freezer right now than any other time during the year. We are almost out of our red meat from last year's steer, and I haven't replenished our bulk purchases yet, which I will do more towards Christmas by doing a Costco run, and I haven't started baking yet for the Christmas holiday, and our new steer is still "hanging out" over at the butcher, so now is the best time. We have to get it done before Tuesday though, as I am having a "delivery" of frozen potato products froma family member. We are so grateful for her kindness!
The plan is to enlist the little kids in packing the stuff from the freezer outside to the back of the pickup, so that it will all stay cold. My hope is that this will exhaust the kids so much that they take an amazingly long afternoon nap! What a nice thought!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Trials in Life ARE a Blessing...

We all have moments of difficulties, either expected or not, they are there. For it is said that following those trials are the blessings. It sometimes feels as though we each endure trial, after trial, without any sight of that blessing. It is there, we just need to be open to it instead of waiting for the "other shoe to drop" and etc. My goal for today and subsequent days is to be open to the blessings, and also to try my best to look at the trials as though they are also blessings

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pumpkin Bread is NOT just for the Holidays!

Okay, I know that quick breads are practically a staple from halloween until Christmas, but not at our house! In fact, I make it, and other kinds year round. We eat it for beakfast, lunch and dinner, plus ever snack in between. If I let them, they would devour an entire loaf in one sitting or pretty close to it, I am sure. I think there is something addictive in the ingredients that has not been analyzed yet. I add a little bit of mini chocolate chips to ours in place of the nuts, whih could be the addictive property, who knows for sure?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Let me Say "Hi!"

There are many places where people feel comfortable, and my kitchen is mine. I bake bread and other "goodies" there, I cook meals for my family and people who I love there, I laugh over silly things that my kids do, and I cry in frustration sometimes there too. I am a cookbook fiend. Not to say that I have tons and tons of them that cover every possible inch of counter space, but I do enjoy looking at them, and trying out new things for my family to eat. Not always with great success, mind you but it is good to try something new. I am a stay-at-home Mom currently, and a student, working on starting a Master's degree, so I am busy with the Mom thing, and trying to fit in the other, not always with great success but it will happen eventually. My husband is very supportive and even when his patience is thin after a full day of work, he will occupy the kids so that I can have a few minutes to myself, most of the time while in the kitchen getting dinner ready. I love him so much for that!