Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sunday Special - Snow Day

The first day it was ice. The second day it was snow. The third day it was ice & snow. The kids were in school all of 2 days this week. Yes, it was noisy, chaotic; we drank hot chocolate by the gallon and it will take at least a month for the house to recover (and me!).

I am happy to report though, that not only did we finally get some decent snow - we finally got some decent snow! Decent enough that the kids could have snowball fights, make snowmen and go sledding! I finally got around to tackling a craft project I've been wanting to do. All in all, it was a good week.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sunday Special - Recycling Girls

One of Sadie's most favorite things to go and do is visit the recycling center. She likes to toss the boxes, bottles and cans in their proper spots. (I find a perverse sense of fun dumping the glass jars and having them break.) One of Jessi's favorite things to do is go to Wal.Mart. We headed there after the recycling.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Of Old Dogs and New Tricks

Yes, two days in a row - will you be able to stand it?!

I didn't get a toaster when I got married. I didn't get a waffle iron either. Two things that, while I hadn't counted heavily upon receiving - would have been well received. I like toast. I like waffles. I mean, I really like waffles. We did receive a few items that warranted returning as they were duplicates or not needed. We returned items and exchanged them for a set of Visions cookware (cranberry - which was my favorite at the time), a set of sheets (since we had none) and a waffle iron. The waffle iron was, unquestionably, very important. Maybe even more so than the sheets. Just ask my best friend growing up. Every time I spent the night, my friend Linds made me waffles the next morning for breakfast. She just made really good waffles, or I was a little obsessed. So, naturally, when setting up my own kitchen, waffle iron = mandatory piece of equipment.

Now, as newlyweds we were quite adept at turning shopping excursions for waffle irons or other mundane household items into cheap dates. College students, newlyweds = no money. (and you all thought I was bad at equations!) I remember spending quite a while in the small kitchen appliance aisle at the Shopko in Orem, trying to make this all important decision. Finally we settled on the big whack mack daddy of all wafflers. Square, cast iron, with reversible plates (italics = pay attention, this is important people), nifty "done" light and 4 temperature options. We pressed it into service. The waffle iron performed diligently for many years. Sheets have long since gone by the wayside. I broke every single piece of that Visions cookware by the time we had our second child - all that remained was a small lid. Shortly after moving to where we live now, I bought a Belgium waffle iron. I really kind of wanted a round one - but they didn't have those, so I had to stick with the rectangular variety. Now, for you waffle connoisseurs, Belgium waffle irons have deep, deep pockets. We use these deep pockets for catching ooey, gooey butter and syrup or juicy, sweet fruit with oodles of whipped cream on top. Old Faithful got stuck in the cabinet, forgotten, shoved under the only twice used wok (that, interestingly enough, we did receive as a wedding gift) and next to the old, too small, crockpot. Collecting dust, never to be plugged in again - that is, until tonight. In a small twist of fate, our little discount grocery was out of flour tortillas. Not feeling brave enough to face the hordes at Wal.Mart on a Friday evening right before dinner time - I just headed home, no tortillas in hand for dinner, and decided to try making them myself. Now, I have tried this in the past with a bought tortilla mix. It was not a very successful endeavor. I could not get my rolled dough to stay flat; it would shrink up in the skillet and become too small, fat, kind of bland and non-malleable. I did a little internet perusal and gleaned a few ideas for trying this venture again and gave the tortilla mix another go. This left me still however, with the non-flat, shrinking tortilla dilemma. Now, I know they make tortilla makers for this. However, me be rather practical and really not being able to justify spending money on an appliance that specifically only makes something that is actually fairly cheap to buy, and something that I am not certain I would make all that often - I do not own a tortilla maker, nor do I think I want one. Ever. Then it occurred to me - I had a waffle iron with cast iron reversible plates. Plates that reversed from waffle to completely flat and made a double sided griddle whose sides pressed together flat. Yeee-haaaaaaw! Go on, say it - sheer genius!

I added oil and onion salt to the tortilla mix and also instead of warm water - scalded milk. While the dough "rested" (sad when dough gets more rest than I do around here) I dug out my Old Faithful waffle iron and reversed the plates. The iron needed a little spit and polish - but was quite serviceable and efficient. Rolled out my dough and voila!

See here, I have made tortillas . . . in a waffle iron!

Matt said they were tasty and he liked them. Which is saying something, because usually he only has one word for whatever I make for dinner: "okay". "Okay" for Matt may mean he loved it, and it was the best thing he has ever tasted and wants to eat it every night for the rest of his life or, it was a real stinkeroo and "if you ever make it again there is not going to be enough salsa in the world to get me to choke it down" and all points in between those two extremes. The tortillas he liked, what we stuck in them - not so much. We had fish tacos for dinner. The kids like them.

So, I have proven that you can use an old waffler for new tortillas.

Next time though, I think I will skip the mix and just make them completely from scratch and see how that turns out.

Or not.

Next up: Making laundry soap in your food processor (just kidding! Though maybe . . . . . .)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Born Excellent

Besieged upon by brutal cold this last little bit and while I am no shrinking violet when it comes to the cold, even this has sent enough shivers through me, that I am wearing more clothing than I normally do this time of year. Good hot chocolate weather though - or would be, if there actually were hot chocolate in the house. Kind of hard to warm up from the inside without it - though I suppose if I were really desperate, hot water would do fine, just wouldn't be as enjoyable and chicken soup is just so, well, chicken soup-y. So what's a girl to do? Sub arctic temps, cold tootsies and a dearth of warm, chocolatey powdery substances? Why - go to the store of course! See, I told you I was a fairly practical person and capable of making coherent decisions, sometimes.

Ever since the Walmart fiasco of early 2007, I no longer feel the need to torment myself and the general public by venturing to the store with my entire brood in tow. Even if we are completely devoid of any laundry soap and the dirty laundry has completely engulfed my basement and my almost 4 year old, I will wait until I can go in a much smaller group if not alone, or use shampoo. (I like my socks full and bouncy and shiny, don't you?) I am sure the general public is eternally grateful for my thoughtfullness on that point. With children old enough to watch younger siblings now (hooray!) - I feel making small, brief solo forays is feasible. With my cell phone. Fully charged. No further than 5 miles from the house. Checking in by phone every 10 minutes. With my State Trooper neighbor at home with his patrol car across the street in full view. No, I am not an overbearing, smothery worrying type - why do you ask? Hmmmmmmph.

Okay - so I went to the store, for chocolate. Is there any other more worthy cause? Okay, yeah, sure, maybe a few more - but this is vital. Sometimes. I like a little company now and then though. Though, most of them usually don't want to go with me. (I don't think I am that embarrassing, and I do shower somewhat regularly, but whatever.) Sadie likes to go though. She's my girl, and I usually don't have to bribe her with more than a regular cheeseburger with extra pickles too. Extra pickles is a small price to pay for some one on one time.

While getting ready to order the cheeseburger, Sadie informs me that all, and I do mean all, of her friends at school have Hotel Dogs. (This is the current Happy Meal toy being offered.) This is her way of letting me know that she wants one. I asked her "All?" and she affirms "all." "Even T . . .?" "Yes." "Even H.....?" (exasperated sigh) "Ye-aah!" Like duh mommy - when she said all, she apparantly meant all. So, I gave her a choice - dog or cheeseburger with extra pickles and she chose the food. Like I said, she's my girl! (If she had eaten her lunch I sent to school with her though - it might have been a different story . . .)

We proceeded to Kroger, who must have known we were coming for hot chocolate because they graciously put it on sale - 4 boxes for $5! That's 40 packets of hot chocolately warm goodness! I felt giddy. Sadie was a little put out by having to carry all four boxes. I did swap her for the cold can of whipped topping when she kept dropping one of the boxes though. We went to the self checkout and I let her check us out. She did quite well making sure the bar codes passed over the "magic window" and beeped before placing the items in the grocery bag. When we were out of items, she looked at me, "now what?" "Well now you have to pay." She doesn't bite, she's too smart for that, she knows I am going to pay for the hot chocolate, so she just stares at me impatiently.

We walk out of the store, each with a bag of spoils from our hot chocolate foray. "Sadie," I said, "You are an excellent shopping helper." This elicits a completely matter of fact "I know." "You know you are excellent?" "Oh yes, I was born that way!" She chatters along happily on our trek back to the parked car. For cheeseburger with extra pickles and a few boxes of hot chocolate, I learned that my 5 year old is not only an excellent shopping helper, but knows "lots of smart things" because her "brain just catches it all!", that she's totally amazing and she was just born that way.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sunday Special - Story Time

It's really too bad that only one of them actually knows how to read.

Nathan must have read something funny.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sunday Special on Saturday - Super Star!

Posting this today because tomorrow, after church, I plan on hibernating for a very long time and may not get to it until Monday, and we all know what kind of issues that causes with my need for alliteration! My wedding sewing is done and I am off to take a shower, then head to the church to dress a bride. But, for all you anxiously awaiting the Sunday Special - a surprise for you early birdies.

Principal's Top 100 Super Stars. That's my girl! Her teacher nominated her as a Super Star Student. Jessi's teacher is just back this week after having had a baby last November. When the school called me to tell me of the nomination, they said that Jessi's teacher had been having a rough first week back and that she said Jessi had been a wonderful help to her - caring, helpful, happy and this helped to make the transition back a little easier. Of course, I am not surprised in the very least. :0) Is anyone else?

52 Weeks to Preparedness

We received this handout at Church at the beginning of the year and I thought I would share. I admit I get easily overwhelmed at the enormity of some projects, the fact that this was broken down into weekly bites made it a little easier for me to contemplate and feel confident in my ability to accomplish it. So far, I have been able to meet each weekly goal with little more than a trip to Wal.mart. Some items may take other outsourcing and I plan on doing a little internet research for ideas on how to actually utilize this stuff - though most of it is pretty basic. As I find things that I think might be of interest to others - I will be sure to share! (Interspersed with pictures and stories of my cute kids of course.)

So, without further adieu, I bring you 52 Weeks to a Year's worth of Food Storage.

Week 1: 6 lbs salt
Week 2: 5 cans of Cream of Chicken soup (I bought the family sized cans since my family is large; I think they mean the regular size soup cans here though)
Week 3: 20 lbs sugar
Week 4: 8 cans tomato soup
Week 5: 50 lbs wheat
Week 6: 6 lbs macaroni
Week 7: 20 lbs sugar
Week 8: 8 cans tuna
Week 9: 6 lbs yeast
Week 10: 50 lbs wheat
Week 11: 8 cans tomato soup
Week 12: 20 lbs sugar
Week 13: 10 lbs powdered milk
Week 14: 7 boxes macaroni and cheese
Week 15: 50 lbs wheat
Week 16: 5 cans Cream of Chicken soup
Week 17: 1 bottle 500 multi-vitamins
Week 18: 10 lbs powdered milk
Week 19: 5 cans Cream of Mushroom soup
Week 20: 50 lbs wheat
Week 21: 8 cans Tomato soup
Week 22: 20 lbs sugar
Week 23: 8 cans Tuna
Week 24: 6 lbs shortening
Week 25: 50 lbs wheat
Week 26: 5 lbs honey
Week 27: 10 lbs powdered milk
Week 28: 20 lbs sugar
Week 29: 5 lbs peanut butter
Week 30: 50 lbs wheat
Week 31: 7 boxes macaroni and cheese
Week 32: 10 lbs powdered milk
Week 33: 1 bottle 500 aspirin (I will probably make this acetaminophen as aspirin isn't good for small children and people with bleeding issues)
Week 34: 5 cans Cream of Chicken soup
Week 35: 50 lbs wheat
Week 36: 7 boxes macaroni and cheese
Week 37: 6 lbs salt
Week 38: 20 lbs sugar
Week 39: 8 cans Tomato soup
Week 40: 50 lbs wheat
Week 41: 5 cans Cream of Chicken soup
Week 42: 20 lbs sugar
Week 43: 1 bottle 500 multi-vitamins
Week 44: 8 cans Tuna
Week 45: 50 lbs wheat
Week 46: 6 lbs macaroni
Week 47: 20 lbs sugar
Week 48: 5 cans Cream of Mushroom soup
Week 49: 5 lbs honey
Week 50: 20 lbs sugar
Week 51: 8 cans Tomato soup
Week 52: 50 lbs wheat

This is what you will end up with at the end of the year:

500 lbs of wheat
180 lbs of sugar
40 lbs of powdered milk
12 lbs of salt
10 lbs of honey
5 lbs of peanut butter
45 cans of Tomato soup
15 cans Cream of Mushroom soup
15 cans Cream of Chicken soup
24 cans of Tuna
21 boxes of Macaroni and Cheese
500 aspirin
1000 multi-vitamins
6 lbs yeast
6 pounds shortening
12 lbs macaroni

I am planning on making a few additions to this list - particularly on weeks where the item is rather inexpensive (I bought 8 lbs of salt for less than $3 the first week). I plan on adding canned beans to this list. One, I am hypoglycemic and that is an awful lot of carbs on the list for someone like me and I am fairly certain some of my kids are sensitive to blood sugar as well; and two, they are a good, cheap source of protein, plus canned beans are easier to store and deal with than meat. Anyone who had the pleasure of eating in the Cannon Center during their BYU days knows that powdered eggs are sometimes not so palatable - but this is another option as is TVP for sources of protein. The other thing to consider is your particular family and their likes/dislikes. I can eat the TVP and powdered eggs - but if my younger kids decide they don't even like the look of something, it isn't going in their mouths - no matter how much ketchup or salt you put on it! With the list broken down this way, it is easily customizable. For example, I can say "my kids don't like tuna - but will eat chicken." and swap out the canned tuna for canned chicken. (Which isn't true for me, but might be for someone else - my kids are practically little human garbage compactors and will hooverize most anything in sight with few exceptions.) Change things out, add to it - rice, instant potatoes, oats, dried soup mixes, dry or canned veggies, fruits, hot chocolate. Yes, don't forget the chocolate! A year without chocolate, well, that just might be a year not worth living!

The handout says that this should be enough to sustain 2 people for a year. For every 2 more people in the family - you would need to double the amount of each item for that week. You will also need to store water for cooking and drinking.

For an Family Home Evening project one evening, we made personal hygiene kits for each member of the family and have them in a backpack hanging in our coat closet. My next project is a 72 hour kit for each person which includes the basics - food of course, the hygiene kits, but also clothing, personal needs that cannot be lived without for even a short term (ie: daily medications). I welcome any and all ideas and am interested in some of your ideas of ways you have prepared for potential disasters - natural, man-made, loss of job, etc.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sunday Special - Napping House

I have often admired the ability of children to fall asleep whenever, where-ever, however and in the middle of whatever. One minute they're awake and the next - zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

On the other end of the couch:

Off for my nap now.