Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lately...

For Easter, we had friends over (Kraus family) and made these churches with three stained glass windows and a no flame tea light inside.

For family night, we tried to make taffy.  The first batch we cooked too long, so you couldn't pull it.  It was too hard.  The second batch we didn't cook as long, but still too long, so we pulled it, but it hardened too much as well.  Will we try again?  I don't know... Pat had a habit of trying to pull it before it was cool enough to touch and burned his hands pretty badly.  Everyone thought it tasted so good though!

Taffy.  Or the pink slime in your meat.  Who can tell?

Friends from our home school group, came over and gave us their old swingset since they are moving.  We have a swingset, but we gladly accepted this one, since it had a kind of play house at the top, and we've been trying to build one for years for the kids.
The kids built this "treehouse" all on their own.  I checked it out, and they actually did a good job.  It is pretty sturdy, though it doesn't look it. 

Little Leia

Trying on shin guards for added protection.
You can't see me, and therefore can't change my diaper.

She changed my diaper!!!! (Which is in fact why she's crying.)

And pouting.

She's not the best hider.

Found this hat at the thrift store.

She likes it a lot!


Do you see the spinach on the chair and table?  She's picking it out of her noodles.
None of the kids are fond of spinach.  Evan asked me to please stop putting seaweed in the noodles.

Monday, April 23, 2012


I love this soup.  It's really good.  I've been slowly trying the other kinds over months, and I like the other tomato kind, and the lentil kind, but so far that's all.

By the way, I ran a 5k Saturday in the Albuquerque 1/2 marathon.  Yea for me!!  My time never seems to improve, but that could have something to do with never training consistently or more than about 3 times before a race.  But still the fact that I can run non-stop for over 3 miles is amazing to me, and I was really proud of myself!  I was tired, it was hot, and I still kept going.  It's funny how I simultaneously hate running and love it.   My friends did the 10k and they are so fast!

I have been challenged to the 10k next year, and I don't know how I feel about that.  I'd kinda just like to run a 5k with good time someday.  But a 10k might be fun.  They are planning on the 1/2 marathon next time!!!
This is the only picture I have, and it's blurry, because my camera is stupid.

My mansion

I'd pick this, but my dream mansion is nothing like this.
Blogger just redesigned everything and I hate it when that happens.  Why don't they ask if I want everything moved around or not?  I have the hardest time with that when they do that to my email or whatever.

I've been having a reoccurring dream often lately.  It's nothing important, just that I'm in my house (which is not really my house), and I have guests visiting, and we're kind of crammed, but dealing with it, when I suddenly realize that there's a whole 'nother side to my house!

It always looks the same.  Another living room, fireplace, and bedrooms.  It gets me so excited to have all that extra space, that I feel like a queen.  I've dreamed of it so often, that when I wake up, I really am shocked and disappointed that it's not true!

It's an older house, but it's built well, and every time I "discover" that side of the house, I think, this just needs some paint and new carpet someday.

The layout is always the same- not my favorite, but still, wouldn't you be immeasurably excited to find out about the forgotten "wing" in your house?  Sometimes I walk beyond the newly discovered wing, and open a door and find a huge high school music room there, and I realize I work there.  But most of the time, I don't go through that door.

It's more like this- but in color.
Weird, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How much do you spend on groceries?


Having two cars die within a couple months of each other is great.  Having gas as high as it is- even better.   Great economy on top of it?  Love it!

All of this has made it necessary that we adjust our budgets.  My food/grocery budget is now down to $500 per month which includes any eating out, or detergent, diapers, etc.

I just talked to my very frugal friend from when we lived in Utah, and she has a family of six like me, and spends $400.   So I've got some more work to do.

How do you do it? I asked her.  Well...

She doesn't buy any mixes and expensive cereal, but makes everything by hand since it's cheaper.  Check.  I do that too.

She makes a bit extra at dinner to use as leftovers for husband's lunch.  Check.

She plans her monthly menu's because that's the easiest way to spend a lot- is to come home tired and have no clue what you're doing for dinner, and to therefore go out and buy something.  Check.

She shops case lot sales, or the big sales that stores have once/twice a year, and buys all her meat for the year then, as well as stocking up on other things like tomato sauce, etc.   I don't do this unless I stumble upon a case lot sale by accident.  I don't have time to clip coupons and pay attention to that stuff!  But I do belong to Costco, which we have shown for our family every year saves us a good amount of money because you can buy a lot of things in bulk for less.  About like the case lot sales.  So sorta check...but I could do better.

I don't know what she does about dates, but I'd bet they're like us.  I try to go out with Pat once a month, but we either don't buy anything, or we go cheap.  Definitely no place with a waiter that we have to pay. I always want to have people over, but worry about serving beans and rice or tuna casserole.   And I can't afford the good stuff, that I, as a master chef (self proclaimed), used to serve.

So I'm still wondering how she comes out about $100 cheaper than me, but we used to be up above $700 so we're doing much better as it is.  If you want to call it better.  Pretty soon, I'm going to send my kids out hunting rabbits for meat. 
Anyway, if you have any tips, feel free to comment.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Love Quiz

I heard on a Christian radio station about this love quiz.  The couple that made it seemed very knowledgeable in their marriage counseling, and sound in their advice.

Go to the link below to read about the different love styles, and then scroll to the bottom and click to take the quiz if you've got some time, or you care.

http://howwelove.com/love-styles/

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dallas: Sam what kind of vegetable would you NOT want in your boat?
Sam: I don't know... a hamster?


The answer: A leek.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Weirdest Grossest Thing

Evan just ate a mayonnaise, mustard, peanut butter and sugar sandwich on sprouted bread.

He is currently chasing that down with a pile of pickles that he mixed into his applesauce.
Every night of this last week was full of something - soccer, scouts, 4-H, YW, Pat's basketball, etc, so I made Pat miss opening day for baseball for the Giants Friday night, because I needed a date, and he graciously came along (though it was killing him) for a quick date spent doing Easter shopping.  It was so nice to be on a date.  Usually I talk non-stop about the millions of things I've been thinking about, and it is so therapeutic, even if we are just at Target.

I had gone through all the boys clothes and got rid of a ton that don't even fit Evan anymore, and thus discovered that some of the boys desperately needed church pants, some belts, and all needed ties.  I had a young woman over to babysit the kids, so we could go out.  She's having a hard time, so it was good since I got a chance to talk to her while dropping her off.  (I hope she comes to camp.)

Anyway, because of being so busy, this Easter was a bit distracted/weird.  It was our day of fasting yet there was Easter candy, and Pat and I both had to teach which causes a less than relaxed feeling.  I prayed about and thought about and worked on my lesson for weeks, and still it wouldn't really come together which was frustrating.  In the end, it turned out really well, except that it had to end abruptly when I was only halfway through because I realized we were out of time.  So that just left a bad taste in my mouth.  Like why Father?  I didn't even get to the point.  You know, the Resurrection!  It was kinda important!  That normally doesn't happen to me, and I realize I need to work on my communication with the Spirit. Plus I had pruned some of our trees that have huge thorns on the branches, and Pat wove them together into a crown to just as a visual for my lesson, which caused him no small amount of pain, and after all of that, we forgot it in the car.

So then I just felt BLAH.  After church I realized I maybe should have had something special for dinner.  BLAH again.  Then we had an egg hunt in the back yard.  Besides E falling flat on his face and getting a bloody nose, the kids had a great time.

As soon as she went into nursery, she went up to her teacher and showed her her pretty Easter dress and shoes.  It was too cute!


Always sensitive to light, our Sam.  Pat forgot to take out her pacy.

These two got smooth criminal hats.




Recent Crafts

Butterflies, bees and such that we put all over the house.




Our neighbor Warren gave us some modeling clay.  Just enough to make these houses.

I'm hoping whoever stole the package that we sent to our small cousin Elle, will enjoy the 20 or so gifts and springtime projects that we prepped for her.  Two days of work and lots of money.  Sad.

April Snow Storm

We been basking in the warm summer air and the bit of green we get here.  Playing outside, doing school outside, etc.  A friend at church Vikki, gave me about 100 iris bulbs and I went out to her house to dig them up, and came home and immediately dug up my yard to place them all over.   The boys helped with all of that, and we finally got it done, but that was a back-breaking work day.  But her irises were all from Ireland, so I couldn't pass them up.  My fruit trees were starting to flower, and I had great hopes for them, until...

BAM!!!  At least six inches overnight. 


It turned from cheery bright springtime, to dark white winter again.  It was really a shock.

Top of my car.
 Yes, I know where we live we can and have experienced this all the way until the end of May, so it shouldn't have been such a shock.  But sometimes you would like Springtime to feel like Springtime!

White and Pink flowers covered in snow!
My poor fruit trees!

Not so much this week for food

Ln playing in the chicken food

Cheesy grits and spicy BBQ beef.

Stir-fry with leftover beef.

Leftovers again on fried corn tortillas kinda like tostadas.
I don't waste food, so we will have several not so good dinners if it means I can use up leftover stuff rather than wasting it.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Why homeschool?

 I ran into a lady from church today, who told me that my kids were the only homeschooled kids she could tolerate.  She meant it as a compliment, but I was pretty taken aback.  I guess in her life growing up there were several families who "didn't do it right" or "did that unschooling thing".  Still, I thought that was a pretty unkind thing to say.  Especially since I know there are better homeschoolers than us in our ward.

To keep the peace, I just smiled and laughed and said every family is different.  I have met some families I wonder about, but on the whole, I GREATLY admire the homeschooling families I've met.  Thing is, these months after spring break are the hardest!  We all have spring fever, and want to enjoy the outdoors non-stop.  Sometimes I wonder how in the world I'm supposed to do all the duties I have on my shoulders.  And it doesn't help that my favorite movies are usually about English ladies whose sole daily tasks were learning to sew, sketch, and play piano forte.  Where are my servants?!

Yesterday, Evan was sad, and didn't want to do anything.  Last year I would have said, we can do something fun after the school work is done- so get to work!  I mean, a lot of life is just 'have to'- there's no getting around it.   But now I realize that childhood doesn't last forever, and when hard times come as an adult, it would be nice to have good memories as a child to look back on.   Flexibility- that's the beauty of homeschooling.  I didn't dare tell that lady that I was in the process of deciding to incorporate a bit more of the "unschooling" side into my homeschooling.  For shame!

So the older boys were in the middle of reports, but I managed to quickly come up with 5-6 science experiments (thanks internet) using salt, and we all just took a break to do some random science.   Evan practiced writing in a huge pan of salt first, like the Chinese calligraphy in the sand.  Then we used water, oil, and salt to make a lava lamp, practiced freezing salt water as opposed to plain water, tried salting ice and observing how fast it melts compared to unsalted ice, made play dough, added salt to water until it's mass or density would make and egg, marble and other things float, poured salt into cans of soda to watch the reaction, etc.

We had a lot of fun!  The reports are going to take a bit longer, and that's okay.  I mean, E is in Kindergarten and he can read REALLY well.  Dallas is like a mini Pat.  He never stops reading!  I find myself encouraging him NOT to read so much.  I started a book with him- Redwall- and I deemed it to far above his reading level after reading the first two chapters to him.  Then two days later he'd finished the book, and Pat had ordered the next from the library.  There's like 15 thick books in the series and he's reading them all!!  (Those exclamation marks were me screaming in horror, not joy.)  Sam does excellent school work too. He seems to do better at some things than his older brother.  He has really started to grow out of his perpetual grumpy state where he spent the first years of his life.  He is now the most pleasant boy out of them all.  He never complains and does so well.

I am a major planner, and plan out the whole year ahead of time, to keep me on target. Now I'm feeling a bit goofy about that.  I'm starting to stress less and be more fun.  I've found out that it makes the work go by so much easier!  I hope to continue to improve.  The Pioneer woman sums it up perfectly in this, one of the funniest homeschooling articles I've ever read (If you scroll down, there's actually two).  This is real life people!

http://thepioneerwoman.com/homeschooling/2010/03/why-i-homeschool-and-what-my-approach-is/

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Meatless enchiladas

Sometimes I feel brilliant.  Like when I come up with a new recipe all on my own!  (Or when I use old pill bottles to hold tacs.) These are like unto the enchiladas I made tonight.
Photo courtesy of Cajun Chef Ryan since I forgot to take a picture of mine. 
When I got home from my mission to Chile, people would say, "You probably got pretty tired of Mexican food, eh?"
Nope.  Nope I did not.  You see, Chile is not Mexico.  Chile is nothing like Mexico.  The picture above of enchiladas is something Chileans do not eat.  In fact, the food is NEVER spicy.  Not in the slightest.  Nor do their beans, rice, fish, meat, potatoes, and corn resemble Mexican food at all.  There's no such thing as salsa either.  Sometimes they had a spicy sauce called aji (I think), but it wasn't good and I hardly ever saw it.  I love Mexican food, and I LOVED Chilean food.  Hey, I'm just a girl who loves food.  Can I get a hey hey?  (Roll your eyes Pat.)

The first time I had a traditional Chilean food called Humitas, I thought it was a tamale.  Wrong again.  It was made of onions, and mostly corn, but not a masa with meat inside.  They have ears of corn longer and bigger around than your arm, and they grate the corn off of it.  Eventually it is wrapped in the corn husks and boiled, and the inside turns out pretty sweet from the corn and cooked onions.  Weird at first, but I grew to love it.  Sometimes they are eaten with sugar, and other times tomato salad with lots of salt and cilantro.

I have tried to make them at home before using their recipe, but it fell apart into a mess and I couldn't figure out for the life of me how they got theirs to stay together inside those corn husks!  That's when I learned that any corn in the states is nothing like the corn in Chile.  Ours is much more watery- not so starchy.  So I gave up.

But in my quest to use less meat, tonight I made enchiladas with a humita like filling.  The marriage of Chile and Mexico.  They turned out really well if I do say so myself!  I know you can just do beans for the filling if you want to avoid the meat, but I thought I combine our watery corn with a dry corn tortilla and what would happen.   It's sweeter than a bean filling would be obviously, but a nice contrast with the cheddar cheese and enchilada sauce.

Now you know me and recipes.  I don't measure all that well.  It was about a bag of corn, half a stick of butter, half a large onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp paprika, salt, pepper, sugar as needed- about a pinch of each.  Saute all of that and then put it in the food processor to blend up.  Then stir in a can of sliced olives, drained.

Now pour some enchilada sauce in the bottom of your baking dish just to coat.  I used Macayo.  Take a package of corn tortillas, and fry each one for 2 seconds in hot oil, then dip in enchilada sauce, then fill with shredded cheddar cheese and about 1/4 c. of the corn mixture each.  Fit them together snugly in the pan and then top with more sauce and cheese and bake for 20-30 minutes.  You can't exactly call these healthy, but they aren't so meat heavy.

I am always so grateful to have served a mission in Chile.   I don't think any missionary anywhere has ever loved their mission more than I loved mine.  I loved the food and it has influenced me greatly.  It was so fresh, so healthy, and so simple!  I loved the language Castillano and I miss speaking it.  I loved the land.  Above and way beyond anything else, I loved the people.  With all my heart and soul, my time there was sacred.

On a side note, one of the speakers in conference talked about how a mission is a mini life, and I wholeheartedly agree.  When I came home I felt I had died and ended that mission life, and even though those people existed still, I felt eternally separated from them.  When I came home I would write letters, but since that sucks, it died out quickly.  When I was a missionary, every time I was transferred, we were not permitted to write or keep contact with anyone.  So always felt I was cut off.   When I got home email was brand new to me, and I didn't really do it,since no one in Chile could.  I'm glad to know that now, missionaries can stay in contact all the time, so there is never any need to end the relationship and say, "I'll write you when I get home a year from now!"

Now it's weird to me that after 10+ years of being home, people from my mission have popped up from all over the internet.  How do you start a conversation with someone after that long?  And not a deep meaningful one like on the mission, but a dorky facebook one.  I just can't do it.  It freaks me out.  It's been too long.  I know other people who do it just fine, but for me, I'd kind of like to see them in person or in the next life. I can't remember things like I used to, and it freaks me out to try to pick up where we were years and years ago.  I don't know how to explain loving a people so much, but the internet is just not the same.  You may say it's my own fault, but, I am, in the end, once again, cut off.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Love Conference

I feel so grateful that twice a year we get to have General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I'm so thankful for the beautiful music and messages that are so uplifting.  They give me direction and remind me of the purpose of life.  Thank you Heavenly Father, for making it possible.  I thank thee oh God for a Prophet! 
Salt Lake City Temple


First Presidency

Full-time missionaries singing.
I recently found out that another sister in the ward (Stacey), my age, and I are related.  We have the same ancestor, and she knows so much about the family and goes to the family reunions, and told me of the volumes of information available.  It was so neat, because I know very little about my family history.  Our ancestors were actually brothers and very close to the Prophet Joseph Smith.  In fact they were with him in the jail, would stay at his home until 2am dancing with their wives, and we are mentioned in the scriptures.  She is very knowledgeable about our family and I can only wonder at God's amazing way of bringing people together.  She told me things that I didn't know, that brought tears to both our eyes.  I am so excited to do family history work, and have been for years, but I always wait for one reason or another.  However, Sister Dalton, the General Young Women's President, came to visit us in Albuquerque recently and encouraged us strongly to have the Young Women find their ancestors.  Many great blessings of strength and protection from the adversary are promised to those who do.  I truly know that those who have passed on are still there, and very much alive, and very interested in their posterity.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is true.  He lives and one day we will see our family and loved ones again.

I am about to earn my Young Women's medallion, which is an award that is earned by the girls 12-18 over years (but I get to do it because I am one of their leaders), and involves developing many different skills, and testimony.  One of the requirements for the young women is to read or re-read the Book of Mormon.  I have one week to finish it left before my appointment with the Bishop!  I want who ever reads this to know that I know, without a doubt, that the Book of Mormon is true.  The more I learn about history, study the Bible and other scriptures, and learn in life the more I see that everything is one eternal round.