Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Miracle, of Sorts

My children would classify this in the everyday miracle category, I think it falls more in the "I need a brain tune-up" category. I just found my 3rd package of Christmas candy that even Santa had forgotten about. The first two were together- a bag of Hershey kisses, which we ate over the weekend, and a tub of 250 red and white mints (I'm too lazy to go look up the real name, but Wal-mart, Sam's and Costco all had them). They were treats I had picked up for class parties, decor on a plate of goodies, maybe a stocking stuffer, etc. Today's find is one of those Lifesaver Books. They have 6 rolls of candy. I didn't want any one of the kids to have six whole rolls to themselves, so I (I mean Santa) was just going to give each child one in their stocking. Apparently Santa's memory isn't what it needs to be. At least it proves that they kids "candy sniffers" aren't what I gave them credit for, either. I never would have guessed I could have that much candy in the house and not have someone find it. So, I guess it is an everyday miracle of sorts. Anybody want a mint?

(Erica, if you read this, you may not mention candy to your brothers!)

update: Hey, I just had a thought. Erica pointed out that yesterday there were only 10 months until Christmas (Happy Birthday, Janae!). So, maybe I don't need a brain tune-up, I need a congratulations for already having a jump on my Christmas shopping! Or, maybe the Easter Bunny can bring Christmas candy this year. Hmm....

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mental Meanderings

I have 20 minutes until dinner is ready, I'm tired, and thought I'd stay awake letting my thoughts leak out of my head and into the computer.

1) We still smell like we've recently given up the smoking habit, but if the doors and windows are all open it's not so bad. Thank heavens for the warmer weather this week.

2) I do have a couple of suggestions if you ever find yourself in this predicament. 1-Unless you love the smell of eucalyptus and/or Odoban, don't use Odoban. We had a few days wondering whether the smoke or the cleaner was worse. The Odoban has gone, though, and the smoke hasn't. That probably says something. 2-Covering the floor with a layer of Baking Soda did seem to help. We left it on all day Sunday and the smell was greatly reduced when we vacuumed it up on Monday. 3-Buy lots of vacuum bags, though. We put down a 12 pound bag of baking soda (from Sam's Club) and it took 1-1/2 vacuum bags to get it all up. 4-I think using a mild vinegar/Advanage solution on the carpet and walls has helped, but I'm not sure if it's because the Odoban smell is clearing away or if it really helped.

3) Did you know they sell little air filters that fit right inside your vents? I didn't until I was buying a new filter for the furnace yesterday.

4) I changed the air filter in the furnace yesterday, but couldn't get the cover back on. I left it out in the family room so I could ask Greg about it during Family Home Evening last night. I didn't even see it when we had FHE last night. Turns out that the heater won't turn on without the cover. That explains why it felt so chilly last night before bed and still this morning when we got up. I did see the furnace cover when we went downstairs this morning for Family Scripture reading. Greg got it back on and it turned right on. That means the heat was off for nearly 24 hours and we not only lived, but I didn't even notice for most of the time. Good thing it's not really that cold right now. Wonder how much we saved on the gas bill?

5) I'm tired. Nothing new there. We'll finish the taxes tonight (yea!) and hopefully get to bed a little earlier. Good thing the Wellness program hasn't done a sleep activity. I'm not sure I'd be able to complete it.

6) The outdoor thermometer at our house broke the 60 degree mark today. Nice!

7) Joseph wants me to have our Wii serviced so he can play Game Cube games on it. Apparently it's supposed to, but ours won't for some reason. We're breaking out the mini violins while I type. I see no rush. He suggested just buying a Game Cube so we don't have to worry about it. I'd rather pay $200 for an ozone treatment to clean out the smoke smell.

8) Do you care that there is a company in Iowa that will rent you an ozone machine through the mail? I didn't, either, until Saturday. I can't find anything in UT. Maybe I should buy one and start my own business. (I probably won't still have that thought after I wake up tomorrow. It's really not a "me" thing to do.)

Ok, there's the timer. My 20 minutes are up. Gonna go get the chicken pot pie while it's still making the room smell good. Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Applesuace Cake

We did make the applesauce cake and we did take it over to Wally. I woke up in the middle of the night terrified that it tasted smoky. Oh well. Too late, now.

Doreen asked about the recipe for applesauce cake. I got the recipe from my friend, Sarah R., who used to live in our ward in NH. We love it because it tastes great. It reminds me of fall. I love it because you mix and bake in the same pan, there-by reducing the number of dishes. Also, this cake has no eggs (Sarah had allergic children), if that's something you're trying to avoid. I've never made it cutting the amount of oil involved, so I don't know how that would go. It would need at least a little to have the right texture, I think. I must also say that the recipe calls for baking in an 8 x 8 inch pan. I tried doubling it once and baking in a 9 x 13 inch pan and it did not turn out very well. I don't know if it's the size or if I did something wrong, just be aware that it may not work out if you try that. It tastes great alone or with the cream cheese frosting recipe on the back of the powdered sugar bags. We've had it both ways.

Applesauce Cake

1 cup whole white wheat flour
2/3 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. (generous) cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. applesauce
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. canola oil
1 tsp. vinegar (apple-cider or white)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flours, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt with a fork in an ungreased 8-in. x 8-in. square pan or Pyrex glass pie pan. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bake 35-40 minutes until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool before cutting.

Friday, February 20, 2009

I Almost Burned Down My House Today

It's true. I would have, too, if not for the divine intervention of angels in heaven and Wally next door. Today is a day I have to be very grateful for the big everyday miracles, not just the little ones.

My intentions were good- put on some black beans and let them soak while I go do some family history research. They only needed to boil for a couple of minutes and then soak,, unheated, while I was gone. When I got home, I would finish cooking them and they'd be all ready for black bean quesadillas for dinner tonight. Why not use some of the beans I so diligently canned earlier? I'm asking myself that same question right about now, but at the time I was thinking I'd save the canned beans for the summer when I don't want to cook them. Thinking ahead. Just not thinking right now.

The trouble started, as it usually does, when I turned on the stove and left the kitchen to go change the laundry. (It's the laundry's fault.) By the time I changed it, gathered everything I needed, and got my coat on I had completely forgotten about the beans. I did look back at the dining room table as I left the house and thought, "Flylady would do her dishes before she left." I answered back, "I only have three hours, I can wash the dishes after I get home." Too bad I didn't listen. I would have seen the beans. Let this be a lesson- never leave the house with your breakfast dishes undone. You'll regret it- especially after the police and fire fighters and your neighbor have been over for a little visit. The beans continued to boil merrily on their way for the next hour or so, on high, until there was no more water left in the pan. Then, they proceeded to turn into charcoal, let off a bunch of black smoke, and I think pretty much ruin the pan I make hot fudge sauce in. (Yes, I am sad.) But, they did NOT burst into flame and consume my kitchen. (Yes, I am thrilled!)

Meanwhile, back at the family history center- I'm happily scrolling away on a computer. I had tried to stop in to see Greg on my way in. A little thought said to let him know I was DOWN THE HALL! Yes, if there weren't walls, I could have seen his office from the FHC. He was at a meeting and the door was locked, so I went back to the FHC. The beautiful, or not, thing about the library is that cell phones (or at least ours) don't work on the first or second floors because they are underground. So, I couldn't call Greg and leave a message on his phone at work and my neighbor couldn't get hold of me sometime after 11:00 when the alarm company called them to say our fire alarm was going off. She tried a couple of times and also tried Greg. I was blissfully unaware. They must have called the University Police, too, because Greg had missed calls from them on his cell and work phones. Greg was in a meeting and ignorinng all the times his cell phone kept vibrating. When he got back to his office and saw that he'd missed 5 calls, he thought it might be a good idea to check some of the voicemails he'd received on his cell phone.

By then it was after 12:00. Wally, not being able to get hold of either of us at 11:20, ran around the house when he could see smoke through the windows. He found a certain window unlocked (having a talk with said certain child this afternoon), slid it open, ran up the stairs (after almost killing himself to get through the wonderfully cleaned- not- room), turned off the stove, put the charred beans outside, and opened all the windows. He was there to greet the police and firefighters. The firefighters were later than they'd have liked because they were across town doing some training. Thanks to Wally, there was nothing for them to do, so they left.

Greg got home around 12:30-ish. He checked my google calendar which told him I was at the temple. Fooled him, I did! I was down the hall from his office! I continued to blissfully search away, not once even remotely thinking about the beans, until 1:15. I managed to find several names I didn't have before, so that was fun. I stopped at Gregs' office again on my way out to the car and wondered how many meetings he could possibly have on a Friday. When I finally reached the main doors, my cell phone vibrated to let me know I had a couple of messages. They were from Jill, Wally's wife, letting me know that the alarm company called. I called Wally to find out what was up and he told me the fun story. I then spoke with Greg and apologized.

I stopped at school to get the kids, today being early out, dropped off the neighbor kids, and picked up the carpet cleaner from a friend that had borrowed it, since there's a good chance I'll need it to help with the smell. Greg was still home when we got here. Do you know what he did? He smiled, gave me a big hug and told me he loved me. He's the best. I'm glad somebody did because I was doing a pretty good job of feeling stupid by then.

So, good thing it's sunny and relatively warm (mid 50's right now). We have all the doors and windows open and a big fan (from Wally) helping to blow the smell out. I tried some Febreeze, but I think the smell combination isn't the best. Both Erica and Spencer walked in the door from school and asked why the house stinks like cigarettes. As soon as I'm done here I'm going to make something yummy (like applesauce cake, definitely not anything with black beans) and then take it over to Wally. Hopefully baking will help counteract the smell.

The scriptures say we should be grateful in all things and I can honestly say that in this case I am. Yes, my house smells like a smoker's lounge, but I am SO grateful I have a house to be in. Yes, it's chilly in here, but at least it's not 1000's of degrees in here with flames licking at what's left. It also could be freezing or blizzarding and then what would we do? Yes, I feel really foolish, but I'm so grateful for a husband who can see past my huge blunder, not be angry or rub it in, and love me just the same. Those beans didn't catch fire, Wally was home, and the alarm company called Wally and sent help. Were we watched over? I think so. And for that big everyday miracle I am extremely grateful.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Greg Is Da Man

134 push-ups (the manly-on-your-toes kind!)
151 sit-ups

Don't mess with him, either.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Favorite Quote

I came across one of my favorite quotes and thought I'd post it here with my bean canning recipes so I don't lose it again. It's attributed to Marjorie Pay Hinckley, but I can't verify that. I hope it was her because it sounds like something she'd say/do. All I come up with on a google search are a bunch of other blogs with this same quote posted and attributed to her. So, I'm going to join a long line of fans. No matter who the author is, the thought is a great one.

"I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny new sports car, wearing beautifully tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with grass stains on my shoes from mowing Sister Schenk's lawn. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor's children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden. I want to be there with cildren's sticky kisses on my cheeks and tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived."
-Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Monday, February 16, 2009

Winter at Aspen Grove

This may be a bit long, and I apologize. Our family loves Aspen Grove, so when the Wellness program offered snowshoeing or cross country skiing there for the families on Presidents Day, we jumped at the chance. We'd never been there during the winter before, but we love it in the summer. I thought we'd post some pictures, for those that care, to see the difference. Here's a link to some pictures of Aspen Grove last August.

Looking at the dining hall from the parking lot.

This the other side of the dining hall, where the sign-ups for the tournaments usually are.

Amphitheater, notice you can only see part of a couple of rows of benches and that's only because they are somewhat protected by trees.

A front-on shot of the Amphitheater from the front door of the Lodge ("candy store part" as the kids call it!)

On the bridge looking towards the pool. The snow comes up to, and covers the bottoms of the slides.

The shuffle board courts.

Pioneer Village at the far end of the field.

Greg is wearing snow shoes and is still up to his knees. Yes, it snowed on us for a little bit.

Sand volleyball courts, taken from inside the pavilion. That snow depth is not created from shoveling. It's the real deal.

Playground next to the volleyball courts.

Entrance to the swimming pool.

Another of the entrance to the swimming pool.

Standing at the main-camp end of the bridge. This picture is taken facing the amphitheater. That's Joseph next to the pile of snow.

The snowshoers stayed on the pool side of the camp. THe Cross country skiers were on the cabin side of camp. This was the only cabin I could see from next to the dining hall. I think it's really one of bathrooms/showers, but the snow is half-way up the side of the building.

Hot Chocolate and donuts after we're done.

Steven on the patio between the dining hall and the parking lot.

The next two are just for comparison. They are taken in our front yard after we got home. Definintely more snow up in the mountains!

That's it, or at least all I'm going to post here. It's kind of hard to believe, looking at these pictures, that the last time we were there we were dying in 105 degrees. Joseph didn't recognize anything until we were done and were pointing out what each building was. He thought we'd gone to a different place. I saw the manager of Aspen Grove today and he said they have less snow this year than last so far. Glad I'm not shoveling!

Friday, February 13, 2009

GIve Me 72 Hours And Then You'd Better Not Mess With Me

I have mentioned before that Greg and I participate in the BYU Wellness program activities. Part of the reason is that we are supposedly developing better health. The other part is that they pay us to do so. It's not much and, to be honest, I didn't think I could be bought for so little. Apparently I can.

The current activity is focused on strength training. We can choose the areas we want to work on. The idea is to do as many reps as you can of a particular exercise, wait a day or two, then do it again. Sounds rather enticing, doesn't it! I have chosen to do push-ups (yes, the girly-on-your-knees kind because the regular ones kill my knees), sit-ups, and squats. Normally I just go until I can't anymore which has gotten me to about 25 push-ups, 20 sit-ups, and 60 squats (yea for hiking to school and back!).

Wednesday night, Greg decided to alternate between sit-ups and push-ups. He did 10 of one, then 10 of the other, and then repeated the cycle. He did an amazing amount- 70 push-ups and 101 sit-ups. He's been sore ever since. Not being very intelligent, I decided to try the same experiment tonight and I want to report my success. Yes, it's almost midnight, but if I don't type this before going to bed I won't ever be able to type it. I can feel the rigormotis (even though the rest of me is still alive) setting in quite rapidly. My arms feel like my legs did after climbing up and then down all the stairs at the Bunker Hill Memorial. I'm not sure I'll be able to lift them tomorrow. I didn't even get to the squats.

So here's the report. (Drum roll, please.) 116 push-ups and 101 sit-ups. Go ahead and be impressed. I am, at least until morning. In the morning I'm going to feel really stupid. I know this because it is already coming on. My hope, though, is that by the beginning of next week (or maybe next month) I will have some very buff arms and shoulders and maybe be able to sit up on my own. I might even be able to fight off the dog that bit my friend, Lisa, in the backside a couple of weeks ago, but not tomorrow. Until I can move again, I'm pretty much a sitting duck.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Millionaire Next Door...

... is not me, but someday it would be fun! I've heard about this book for several years and never actually taken the time to read it. I've listened to others tell me some of the ideas and called it good. Greg and I are currently taking a class about preparing for retirement and the instructor requires the book for his real college students. I'm still not reading it. It's been on hold at the library, but the CD's were in so I checked them out and am listening to them.

I have to explain here that the financial world has always been a huge mystery to me- even more than the inner workings of automobiles. I've always known to have a budget, live on less than we earned, and put money into savings, but never really understood what all the terms were and how they applied to me. That's the biggest reason we're taking the class. I really dislike feeling unintelligent.

Well, between the class and this book, I think I'm starting to get it, just a little bit, but get it none-the-less. What an empowering feeling. I love feeling like I know what to do to take charge of a situation and make it go the direction I want, even if it takes a little (or a lot) of work. I'm also very much a patterns an equation kind of person. Who knew that there were formulas and guidelines to bring order to the mass of chaos that the financial world is to me?! I'm even beginning to be interested in going back to school in this. It's like a whole new exciting world.

That, my friends, is one gigantic Everyday Miracle.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Garbanzo Beans

Ok, Jenny. This one's for you.

Canned Garbanzo Beans
Wash dry beans. For the number of pint jars used, measure 1/2 c. (slightly rounded) beans into a large pot. Cover beans with water and cook until beans are tender (1 to 1-1/2 hours). Fill jars with beans, 1" from the top. Add 1/2 tsp. salt to each pint and fill with boiling water up to neck of jars. Adjust lids and pressure at 10 lbs. for 60 minutes.

Not quite as easy as regular beans, but not too bad. Good luck!

Canning Beans

Today is Monday, which means I should be blessing my house (cleaning it) and returning it to its' regular, somewhat clean, state after a weekend. Guess what, I really don't feel like it today and I've been really good at coming up with other, hopefully somewhat productive, things to do. For instance, right now I have the pressure canner going with 9 pints of beans- 4 white, 4 red, a 1 black. I've been meaning to can beans for awhile, but I keep putting it off. Today, it ranks higher than cleaning the house so it's getting done. After I'm done here, I'm going to make some oatmeal bread because I've been putting that off, too, and I thought it sounded good today.

There are two things I like about canning beans. The first is that it can be done in the winter time. That means I can heat up my house when I really want it hot, not when the A/C has to run majorly over-time to compete with the stove. Second, dry beans are so cheap, but take forever to cook on their own. Not to mention the fact that cooking them all day also heats up the house in the summer. Pressure canning them takes them from dry and hard to soft and ready-to-eat in less than 90 minutes total, if everything runs like it should. They're also sealed in a jar and can sit on my shelf looking pretty until I'm ready to use them.

This post has two purposes. The first is it gives me something to do besides pushing the vacuum or the duster or cleaning the downstairs bathroom. The second is that I have misplaced my recipe to can beans on several occasions before. Since I currently have it right in front of me, I'm going to post it here where I can always find it again. I guess a bonus for the readers of this post is that they, too, now have access to the recipe should they ever want it, and I know you've always wished you had it! So, enjoy!

Canning Pinto Beans (or whatever kind you like)
Prewash dry beans. Measure 1-1/3 c. beans into each of 7 quart jars or enough to fill your cooker. Add 1-1/4 tsp. salt to each quart and fill with boiling water up to the neck of jars. Adjust lids and pressure at 10 lbs. for 75 minutes.

See how easy that is?! I'm doing pints because I use that size more often, so I just put in 2/3 c. beans into a pint jar instead. My canner held 9 pint jars easily. It probably could have done 10 if I squeezed. I also don't like all the salt, so I just added 1/4 tsp. You could leave it out completely if you wanted. The only beans I think you can't do this way are garbanzo beans (chick peas). At least this paper has a different recipe for canning them. I've never used it because I don't use garbanzo beans enough. Let me know if you want it though, and I'll post it. Double bonus for you!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Elder and Sister Woffinden

They're Off!

Today's the big day. Mom and Dad should be checking in at the MTC as I type. They get a week of training, stay with us Friday night, and then be off for some great experiences in the Washington D.C. North mission.