Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Menu Recap: Week of Feb. 20

Here is the recap of last week's dinners at our house.

Monday: Spaghetti with home-canned sauce, green salad
Tuesday:  Butternut squash and cauliflower soup
Wednesday: BLTs, green salad
Thursday: Chicken fettuccine
Friday: Ate out at Baja Fresh for date night
Saturday: Tempura shrimp, Napa cabbage wraps (This dinner was a big hit with everyone. I used some of the sauce packets that came with the shrimp to flavor the vegetables in the wraps.)
Sunday: Chicken breasts, mashed rutabaga and potatoes

On a food-related note, I went back to Weight Watchers last week.  Years ago, I lost weight with WW (and kept it off for a couple of years), so I think I can do it again.  I think I just need to think of WW as a lifelong social group, in order to maintain the loss beyond a couple of years. 

Thankful thought:  Thanks for goals and new beginnings.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Simple Note Made Me Smile

Today after church, a sweet girl wordlessly handed me a note. 




"Dear ____,
Thank you for letting me pet Reno every time I see him.  Reno seems like a good dog.
Your friend,
___________"

Thankful thought:  Thanks for note-writers, who brighten days, and remind me that it really is the simple things that matter.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Google Me Rutabaga

We belong to a produce co-op.  Each time I pick up a box, I wonder just what culinary delights we will enjoy that week.  Among other things in this week's box, I found these:


On the right, you see a rutabaga of average size, while on the left, a rutabaga that is trying to be a basketball!  When I've used rutabagas in the past, I've just added them to other winter vegetables in a vegetable bake or stir-fry.  I think this time I'm going to have to come up with a recipe that uses massive amounts of rutabaga.  If any of you have any tried-and-true, family-favorite rutabaga recipes, let me know!

One thing I like about the produce co-op is the ability to purchase bulk quantities of items for canning.  A couple of weeks ago, I was able to buy apples that were cosmetic seconds. 


They might have been ugly apples, but they cooked up nicely into applesauce.

Thankful thought: Thanks for farmers.  Thanks also to Mom, who taught a not-so-enthused helper how to preserve fruits and vegetables.  (In retrospect, we probably should have pitted the 100 pounds of cherries that summer!)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Grandma Whitehead Update

A couple of days ago, the great-great grandson of Ann Showalter Whitehead found my blog post about how I came to learn about Grandma Whitehead.  I couldn't believe my good fortune in being able to communicate with someone who actually knew some of the people whose names were on the back of the photo. 

He told me he remembered the photo hanging in his grandfather's house.  Though I argued with myself a bit, I knew that the right thing to do would be to offer the photo to Grandma Whitehead's g-g-grandson.  He very graciously and generously told me that it belonged to me, and that he would just like a scanned copy of the front and back. 

I used a photo editor to help clean up the images a bit.  I wish they looked even sharper, but I think they are better than the first ones I posted.



I learned today about the great heritage of the Whitehead side of the family.  John Frederick Whitehead came to the United States from Germany, and became an indentured servant.  Amazingly, the  original written record of his life, which he recorded in 1795 (!) still exists, and is housed at Penn State.   Penn State Press published his story, along with the story of another German immigrant, in the book, Souls for Sale.  I am now eagerly awaiting for amazon.com to deliver my copy. 

Thankful thought:  Thanks for the internet, which makes research easy.  It really is a small world after all!

Monday, February 20, 2012

March Visiting Teaching Handout

The March visiting teaching message has been posted here.  I particularly love one of the scriptures that accompanies the message, and decided to use it on the handout.  Because I've been organizing my photos, I knew I had a photo of the St. George temple handy, and combined that with the scripture.  Feel free to right-click and print, if you find it useful.


Thankful thought:  Thanks for an eternal perspective, which provides calmness in the midst of earthly trials.

Monday Menu Musings

After a month of menu planning, I've come to the conclusion that I'm not very good at this.  Rather, I do fine on the planning end but I struggle with the execution of the plan.  I'm way too fickle.  Cold, windy, cloudy day with a main dish salad planned?  Not happening.  That is soup weather.  Spicy dish planned and someone has a migraine?  Nope.  Time for scrambled eggs.  Probably my best worst reason for a plan change:  I don't wanna. 

Can you believe I still yet haven't tried that yummy-sounding soup recipe from my mom?  (Sorry, Mom!)  I'm almost embarrassed to put up a plan for this week.  Curry, spaghetti, and soup again?!

I think what I will do is forget the blogged plan, and start the Monday Menu recap for the past week.  So, starting next week, I will report what we ate at dinner the prior week.  That way I don't have to stress if life happens in conflict with a planned menu.  Just keeping it real.  :-)

Last week, I mentioned the "52 Method" from Chef Tess.  I'm still intrigued by this and want to try it.  Additionally, though, I think that it is important to have on hand a generous supply of chicken noodle soup, macaroni and cheese, jello, rice, applesauce, etc.--foods which sick people would tolerate.  (No, we aren't ill, I'm just trying to be prepared.)

Thankful thought:  Thanks for time--time to try new things, evaluate, and try something else.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Church with a Puppy

Reno accompanied us to church today, as he does every Sunday.  Whether or not I could bring a puppy to church was one of the questions I had prior to becoming a puppy raiser.  When I talked to a puppy raiser at BYU Education Week, I learned that she took her dog practically everywhere, including church.  With that question answered, I was ready to embark (pun intended.)

I let some ward (congregation) members know ahead of time, so that they would not be taken aback when I showed up with a puppy.  Still, I went with a bit of trepidation.  Church is 3 hours long.  Could Reno behave for that length of time?  Could he learn proper behavior without being a distraction for the ward members? 

Though I have answered the same question posed by nearly every child-- "Why do you have a dog at church?"--everyone has been kind, patient, and supportive of Reno.  He is immensely popular, yet settles down in the meetings fairly quickly.  We purposely sit away from families with young children, so as not to be too much of a distraction. 

Reno is still learning to position himself parallel to the pews.  When he lies down perpendicular, he often ends up hitting someone with his wagging tail, or playing footsie with his paws. 

Today, he stayed parallel throughout the meeting.  I thought we were home free, but just as the closing hymn was ending, a young child from a couple of rows back sneaked into our pew to pet the dog.  I didn't mind, and hopefully his parents didn't either.  He stayed with us while the closing prayer was given, then got in a few more pats for Reno before his dad came and got him. 

Reno seems to enjoy church, and I'm enjoying taking him. 

Thankful thought:  Thanks to the ward members, who accept Reno and greet us with smiles and understanding. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday Smiles: Progress on Projects

This morning, John and I got up early and headed down to the temple.  What a great way to start the day! 

When we returned home, we tackled some projects.  The "Room of Requirements" continues to take shape.  Crown moulding and baseboards are in the future plans (as is furniture!), but for now we are just enjoying the paint color and the newly-hung curtains.  What do you think?

It's hard impossible to tell from the first photo what the pattern on the curtains is.  The third photo is a close-up of the fabric. 




Tonight, I worked on a huge project--the family photos.  My poor kids have photo albums that have been stuck in time for about 10 years or so.  It is seriously time for me to update them (the albums, not the kids.) 





It's going to get worse before it gets better, I'm afraid.  I don't want to even think about the digital files I need to sort through. 

Our mantra lately has been, "little by little."  It's amazing what improvements can be made one baby step at a time.  We're not done with our projects, but I'm pleased with what we've accomplished so far. 

Thankful thought:  Thanks for projects.  As long as I have projects, I will never be bored.  (And I can't imagine running out of projects!)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: Week of Feb. 13

I did not do a good job of documenting what we actually ended up eating last week, and quite frankly, I don't feel like trying to remember.  So, we'll start fresh with this week's plan. 

Eventually, I want to start trying out recipes from this blog.  I'm intrigued with her "52 Method," but want to try out the recipes before committing to having jars upon jars of her dinners sitting in my cupboard.  Ideally, I would try out one recipe a week, and if it was a hit, I'd make up a dozen or so jars to have available for the future.  If any of you have tried-and-true dinner-in-a-jar type recipes, let me know. 

In the meantime, here is what I'm going to attempt this week. 

Monday:  roast beef with turnips, carrots, and baked potatoes

Tuesday (Valentine's Day):  shrimp fettuccine alfredo, broccoli/cauliflower (from our garden!), green salad

Wednesday: curry (using vegetables from our produce box) and rice

Thursday: cauliflower and butternut squash soup (didn't get to that recipe last week)

Friday:  leftovers

Saturday:  spaghetti (using homemade canned sauce), greeen beans

Sunday:  leftovers

Thankful thought: Thaks for cloudy, windy days, which make me want to be in the kitchen cooking.

The Room of Requirements is Taking Shape

Borrowing from a Harry Potter phrase, my husband has dubbed our living room, "the room of requirements."  It has been devoid of furniture since we moved into the house 2-1/2 years ago, which makes it a perfect room for whatever. Impromptu boxing rink, indoor sleepover spot, Girl Scout meeting room, vegetable garden seed-starting place, you name it.  With the exception of the organ, houseplants, and art, it is still empty.  However, it is starting to take shape.  We've picked out curtains and a paint color. John still insists it will continue to be "the room of requirements," but I think it might be disguised as a living room soon, in a Clark Kent/Superman sort of way.  (Having grown up with a table saw parked in the living room, I so totally get multipurposed rooms!)

On Saturday, we started painting.  The color is Valspar's "Studio."  We've painted just far enough to be able to hang the curtains (once we put the rods back up.) Anyway, I thought I'd give you a sneak peak of room-in-progress.




I love the color.  I think John thought it would be too grey, but he has decided it has enough blue in it to be an actual color.  I love the calm mood it sets.  I'll post more as it comes together. 

Thankful thought:  Thanks for color, which brings variety and adds mood!

Friday, February 10, 2012

I Want to Be as Thoughtful as My Husband

First some photos, then the explanation.





Earlier this week, John came home bearing flowers to mark the 25th anniversary of our engagement.  He surprised me in the kitchen, where I just happened to be cooking (as opposed to warming up leftovers.)  If only I had been a little more mindful of the significance of the day, I could have been fixing something more amazing than soup de jour.  I just wasn't thinking.

Fortunately, John finds me adorable even when I'm absent-minded.  I promise to have my brain turned on before Valentine's Day next week, and certainly before our anniversary. 

Thankful thought:  I know I've said it before, but thanks to John.  What a great guy.  I love being married to my best friend!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

101 Happy People Project

I loved (and still do), the poem, "The Animal Store," by Rachel Field.  It starts:

If I had a hundred dollars to spend,
Or maybe a little more,
I'd hurry as fast as my legs would go
Straight to the animal store.


I wouldn't say, "How much for this or that?"
"What kind of a dog is he?"
I'd buy as many as rolled an eye,
Or wagged a tail at me!



Lotteries survive on the hopes of many.  People plan how to spend an unexpected windfall.  Idioms are penned to help lessen the sting of reality:  "Don't count your chickens before they're hatched," "Money can't buy happiness." 


But, what if?  What if you suddenly find $100 and it is legitimately yours to spend however you want? 


One young man found himself in just that situation, and spent the money very unselfishly.  I first read about him in this article  and was so impressed I googled his blogI love the fact that he was able to double the money, use it all on others, and show that "it's the little things that count."


Thankful thought:  Thanks for his example of unselfish kindness.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Name Changed From "Kristi" to "Mom" 23 Years Ago

Twenty-three years ago, fifteen days late, my oldest child made his arrival.  "Sleep is for sissies" seemed to be his mantra.  I was one tired, tired mommy.  Eventually, he slept for five hours straight, and I was a new woman. 

He greeted each day with wide, blue, eyes.  His curiosity and intelligence kept me on my toes, but being his mom was (and is) a delightful journey. 

Here are some photos from his 1st birthday.  I know I'm biased, but isn't he a cutie?

Apparently cake and ice cream via skin absorption is mighty tasty:



Hello? Just calling to wish you happy birthday!


Thankful thought: Thanks for my oldest son, who makes me proud!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Menu Planning, Week 4

OK, I think I need to start getting more organized.  (I hear that muffled laughter!)  What I should do is have Monday blog posts be menu planning.  Monday Menu Planning has a nice alliterative ring to it, doesn't it?  I know today is Tuesday, but whatever.  Maybe next week. 

Anyway, here's what's on the menu this week:

Cauliflower soup (recipe compliments of my mom!)

Stir-Fried Vegetables with Chicken (allrecipes.com), rice

Spaghetti (using home-canned sauce), green beans

Grilled chicken breasts, baked potatoes, green salad

I only planned four new dinners, as we are working through some leftovers, and we have an invitation to a dinner party this weekend.

Update:
Monday:  leftovers
Tuesday:  Black Forest Mushroom Soup, Cornbread (John and I liked the soup, we all enjoyed the cornbread)


Thankful thought:  Thanks for Mom, who collects cookbooks and recipes and is always willing to share!


Monday, February 6, 2012

Are You Prepared?

Yesterday, a woman at church asked me if I would set up a display about emergency lighting for our Relief Society meeting on Thursday night.  I responded with an articulate, "Um, OK" while frantically thinking through how I could arrange flashlights on a table in an oh-so-attractive manner. 

I spent some time last night researching lighting, and remembering alternate sources of light we have.  Today, I decided I should start to gather up some of those items.  In not too much time, I found plenty of flashlights, plus some lanterns of various fuel types:


That's not too bad, except none of the flashlights to the left of the tall oil lamp actually work, even with good batteries.  Perhaps new light bulbs will resurrect some of them.  I hope so.  I rather like the sturdiness of the metal one. 

As for the rest of the supplies, I have no oil for my lamp, and no extra wicks.  I suspect I need extra fuel and mantles for the little camping lanterns, and I'm woefully short on D batteries for the flashlights. 

To be fair, I do some other items I still need to round up--candles (battery-operated and traditional), a wind-up flashlight, and another camping lantern--but this little exercise reminds me of how important it is to take inventory periodically. 

I think this afternoon I will invest in some D batteries and flashlight bulbs.  Also oil and wicks.  I don't want to find myself on the wrong side of a parable.  And I think I will pick up some light sticks, as they are safe to use even near gas leaks, which might occur in an earthquake.  I'm also drooling a bit over a solar lantern I found on amazon, and might order it.

Then, when I am done with my display on Thursday, I think I will not just return everything to the box of camping supplies, but rather, will spread things out a bit.  I shouldn't have to stumble through the house to the closet, just to dig out a light source.  When the kids were little, flashlights always disappeared, because what could be more fun than shining a light in a dark room?  However, we're at least ten years past that stage, so flashlights should stay put now.

Update:  I think I'm going to use this as a handout Thursday night.  (Right-click on photo to open in a new window to view larger.)




Thankful thought:  Thanks to Vicky, who by asking me to help at Relief Society, has made me take stock of my family's preparedness.  And thanks also for the ease of electricity! 


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday Rest

Restful Sundays always seem more so when preceded by productive, work-filled Saturdays. 

Yesterday, we spent a lot of time in the backyard, pruning trees, vines, and shrubs, and digging more sprinkler lines.  I clipped away, and John dug.  John finished the sprinkler project, but I still have roses to prune.  The grapes look much better, though. 

They went from this:


To this:


 As I said, I have more pruning to do, but the yard waste containers are filled, so I took that as a sign to stop for the day. 

The director canceled choir practice today, so this morning has been a relaxing one.  I read the paper and worked on family history research a bit.  It's just about time to leave for church.  Youngest daughter put Reno's vest on him, so I'd better end with a thankful thought.

Thankful thought:  Thanks for work.  It makes rest so much sweeter.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I'm OK with Six More Weeks of This Winter



Happy Groundhog Day!  Punxsutawney Phil popped up and saw his shadow today, which means we have six more weeks of winter.  I don't know what winter looks like in your neck of the woods, but winter is looking great here.  If I have six more weeks of blooming daffodils, I will be very happy.


Today's thankful thought is a bit different.  Instead of writing one myself, I thought I'd share a quotation about gratitude that I received in an e-mail today:


Gratitude brings a peace that helps us overcome the pain of adversity and failure. Gratitude on a daily basis means we express appreciation for what we have now without qualification for what we had in the past or desire in the future. A recognition of and appreciation for our gifts and talents which have been given also allows us to acknowledge the need for help and assistance from the gifts and talents possessed by others.”

(Robert D. Hales, LDS General Conference Address, April 1992)


Isn't that a great summary of gratitude?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Apricot Blossoms in February


Thankful thought: Thanks for youngest daughter, for sharing her photo, and thanks for flowering trees and the anticipation of fresh fruit.