Friday, March 30, 2012

My New Toy

The Crescat wrote an intriguing article regarding her thoughts on the link between obesity and poverty and her decision to be more self-sustaining.  She and I are of like mind.  For years I've wanted to grow more of our own produce.  I can certainly better control what goes into food I grow.  I can use organic growing medium, I can limit, even eliminate pesticides, and I can with to harvest until the fruits and veggies are at peak.  These steps are bound to be healthier and even tastier.

Up front, there will be a bit of a cost.  Wingnut broke down and bought me the tractor of my dreams along with a pull behind tiller to break the soil initially and then to use at the end of each season to cultivate and amend the soil.  It was an easy decision for him.  He wants to make me happy, he likes the idea of saving money down the road on the food we grow ourselves, and he didn't relish the idea of walking behind a front tine tiller, especially after I showed him how large of a garden I wanted.

I posted about our purchase on Facebook last night, and my sister-in-law teased about how "romantic" the gift was.  Little does she know, I find that kind of gift truly romantic, indeed.  I still like a bouquet of flowers now and again, but a tractor, now that really sets my heart to pitter-patting!

As we make progress on our garden, I'll of course, be documenting with photos and stories.  This year a garden, I'm hoping for a chicken coop the next. Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, March 29, 2012

{P,H,F,R} 3/29/2012

round button chicken


The signs of spring are everywhere in Utah, now.  Originally, I thought this tree was a pussy willow, but obviously I was was wrong.  These are interesting buds though.


This girl is so happy to be outdoors, climbing, running, jumping, etc.  She has been and will always be our little dare devil.


This guy is just an out and out ham.


I found this adorable t-shirt at a local coffee shop.  It says "Mommy's Little Leo" and has a little lion on it. I bought it because our little guy's name is Leo and I found the coincidence to be quite funny.  It wasn't until later that I realized the "real" meaning of Leo for this t-shirt had to do with the Leo zodiac sign. LOL!

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Gov'ment, Sure do Take a Bite, Don't She

After countless hours and two different online based programs, Wingnut has successfully filed the 2011 taxes.

Yearly, it is an exercise in complete hair pulling frustration, but even more so this year. With a daughter in college, a job search, moving, and renting out our Maryland home, filing this year was that much more complicated. Wingnut has so much more patience than I do. I would have taken the much simpler approach and not even bothered with the extra complications and time. I understand his motivation though. He doesn't want the government to have a single dime more than it can already take from us.

The tax code certainly could be much more straight forward. It shouldn't take two programs, plus the IRS website to figure out what deductions we can or cannot take. There were occasions when none of the sites couldn't give a cogent answer.

Wingnut finished up our taxes using H& RBlock's program because it was free and found $100 extra in refund cash. Turbo Tax would have charged us $79 to file, but their walk through of several deductions was so much easier to follow and understand. Wingnut wrote a lukewarm at best review for H&R Block. I don't imagine it will make any difference next year. Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Do I Know Where my Children Are???

Since moving to a fairly rural area in Utah, I've been attempting a new parenting strategy.  I've been loosening the apron strings, so to speak, and allowing the children free-reign to roam.  This means I very often have no idea where they are.  I do know they are near.  I also know they are engaging in much more frequent active play.  They have been climbing the hills behind their friends homes.  They have been playing down the street at the local park.  They have been riding their bikes, jumping on trampolines, sledding, chasing neighborhood cats, playing baseball, basketball, and tag.  There has been a steady stream of neighborhood kids coming in and out our doors, just as our children have been going in and out the neighbors' doors.

Recently I've read several articles that decry the loss of the type of active play we and our parents may have engaged in generations past.  Our children are wasting their childhood away in front of lit up screens and they are definitely worse off for it.  We don't go a day without being reminded of the current epidemic of childhood obesity.  Were you aware that outdoor, physical play is important not only for physical health and development, but also for cognitive, social, and mental health and development?

Why is it our children are spending so much more time indoors, under our watchful eye?  The reality is fear .  The world seems so much more dangerous than it was when we were children ourselves.  Predators have always existed, but they have so much more leeway now.  It is a sad result of our modern lifestyle.

In our Maryland suburb, I was very often the only adult at home during the day on my block.  That was true even during the summer.  I couldn't let the children roam free, because my eyes were too often the only ones to watch.  Thankfully this is not so in our new home. One of the best things about living in a predominately Mormon neighborhood is that mormon mothers tend to stay home with their children. When we were children, every house had that extra pair of motherly eyes watching out for us.  We could go for blocks, even miles, and our mothers would not need to worry.

Because we have several children, I would allow the children to roam some in Maryland, as long as they were paired up.  So many children do not have a single sibling, let alone several, that could keep each other safe and in-line.  Our generation is certainly not having enough children.  We are robbing them of their childhood freedom.  We have robbed them by leaving them so that we can work outside the home to give them the things we never had growing up or for our own so-called fulfillment.  We have robbed them by not giving them the gift of brothers and sisters.

I believe, if we asked them, our children would rather have more siblings and more freedom than the latest techno gear or the most exotic of vacations.  Hopefully this generation of children will learn from our mistakes and give their children the childhood they never had. Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hitting the Pavement

It's been nearly 2 years since I've been able to run regularly.  I was running 4 miles several times a week and was slowly working my way up to 5 when I developed an injury in my calf muscle.  Once that healed, we happily discovered we were pregnant with Lil' Lamb. Running was put on the back burner, as was any sort of working out.  When pregnant, I truly hibernate my way through the entire 9 months.  Once Lil' Lamb arrived, I knew it would be several months before I'd be back to running.  I set a goal to begin once he was 9 months old; old enough to ride in a jogging stroller.  Alas, 9 months came and so did our move to Utah.  Settling into our new home and our new life became the priority.

Mercifully, despite not working out, I lost all my pregnancy weight.  Over the last few months, the pounds have been slowly creeping back on.  Certainly, I have no dreams or aspirations to be a size 4, but I certainly do not want to find myself back where I was 5 years ago after having Lil' Wingnut!

We are now settled and have some semblance of a schedule we follow.  The excuses have run out.  The new jogging stroller arrived Friday afternoon.  Saturday I hit the pavement for the first time and it felt completely crumby. Thankfully, Lil' Lamb seemed to love the ride.  I'm sure after a few more ventures out, I'll feel back in the grove.

I'm using the Couch to 5K program.  I think it will fit my busy life.  It requires only 30 minutes 3 times a week and hopefully by the end of 9 weeks I'll be running 5k. On off days, I've decided to use the P90X Stretch DVD.  I love stretching, it takes me back to my dancing roots.  This morning I actually felt pretty wonderful and pain free, so I'm sure a good stretching regiment is what my bod needs.

As Lil' Lamb continues to mature and can handle more time away from me, I'm hoping I can bring my running up to 10K.  Until then, I am just happy to be moving once again. Print Friendly and PDF

Saturday, March 24, 2012

MCP Love

My photo was featured this week on the Project MCP :)  I think it was the story that went with the photo that put it over the edge, but still I was pretty pleased with myself :)

I used a version of this photo earlier this week when talking about my grandmother's house.  Later I did a bit more editing and fine tuning before submitting it to the project.  The theme for this week was "Transition".  This photo features a transition from old fixture to new bulb.  LOL!
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Thursday, March 22, 2012

{P, H, F, R} The Lil' Lamb Edition

round button chicken

Today's post is brought to you by Lil' Lamb.


Just look at that pretty little face.  He has the most beautiful eyes and long dark lashes. 

I love his pretty little chubby feet.  Just look at those little sausages he calls toes.


He couldn't be happier toddling around the yard.  Happiness is begin outside.


He's beginning to recognize when he's being funny.  Look at that self satisfied grin. 

He played in the basket most of the morning.


It's not long before he comes for the camera when I have it aimed at him.  I have tons of these "oh, too close" shots of him trying to grab the camera.  

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The House That Love Built

Many of my fondest childhood memories were spent at my grandmother's house.  We visited nearly every Sunday after church and were often privileged to spend a night with Gram every once in a while.  Gram spoiled us rotten.  We were always greeted with a smile, a big hug, and some kind of wonderful deliciousness from the kitchen.  I can still smell the aroma that is my Grandma's house. Gram kept our favorite sodas cold in her little closet, our most desired cereals in the cupboard, and the candy bowl full of our favorite treats.  My sister swears Gram made the best toast.  I believe it.  Everything she made was the best.  I remember we used to compete with each other, who could eat the most waffles.  We would put away 8, 9, 10 waffles each.  I have no idea how in the world we could eat so many waffles, but we did, along with crispy bacon and the most delicious sausage.  Gram let us stay up late and watch TV shows our parents would never let us watch; like Alice, Happy Days, and Lavern and Shirley.  She also let us wake her up at the crack of dawn so she could make our Honey Combs for us just the way we liked them.  Gram was a librarian by profession and often gave us the best books to read or treated us to trips to the library. She taught us to play Cribbage and Yahtzee. She let us run free in the neighborhood parks and gardens. We spent endless hours climbing her plum tree and wandering around her beautiful garden.  Family and tradition were paramount. Gram was and is a treasure.

On my visit home earlier this month, we took a little trip up to visit her house.  I wanted to take some pictures as keepsakes of the wonderful memories we have from our times there.  My grandmother and grandfather built this house in the 1940s.  They were working on it as World War II raged.  It is a very modest house with only two small bedrooms, a living room that served double duty as the dining room, a tiny kitchen, and a single bathroom.  Funny, we never realized how small her house was.  It was warm and cozy and filled with her love.  My grandmother raised her two boys in that small house after my grandfather unexpectedly passed away when my father was still a baby.  Grandpa must have been the love of her life. She never remarried and she never told us stories about him, until just recently.  The memories from that part of her life were too painful.  She poured her love into her sons and then into their children and now into our children.  To know her is to love her.

 This is the house love built.  It will be forever ingrained in my memory with absolute fondness.

This is just a small section of the garden Grandma tended with so much love and care.  I recall having a near constant harvest in the spring, summer, and fall.  Asparagus, strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes, peas, corn, potatoes, squash, kohlrabi, turnips, beets, and more.  The garden wasn't just utilitarian, it was also incredibly beautiful and filled with flowers of every kind; dahlias, poppies, lilacs, gladiolas, daffodils, marigolds, etc.

This is the son of the great plum tree we used to climb as children.  My brother stupidly fell out the plum tree and broke his collar bone while he was trying to retrieve a fallen donut.  I laughed and laughed as he lay there crying.  We were so cruel to each other, and yet this memory will make us all laugh when we re-tell the story to our children.

This is the skeleton of a "Money Plant"; green in the spring, the flat pods turn a silvery color in the fall and look almost like silver dollars.  We used to pretend we were rich as we collected endless pods to take home with us.

The once demure little pussy willow has grown into a huge tree.  I was shocked when I saw it again on this trip.  I was ecstatic to see the same little willow buds on the trees gracing the front yard of our new house here in Utah. 

 The siding on the house is fading and peeling, and yet still so lovely.

I snapped this photo of the house number and laughed to see the new fangled low energy bulb set in the mid 20th century light fixture.

I didn't snap photos of the interior.  It was too strange and sad.  The life and light have gone out of the house. Those pictures will have to remain only in memories of bygone days, of childhood happiness and peace, and of the love radiated by the singular woman who once lived there.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Fun and New Recipes

As a tradition for Saint Patrick's Day we always have corned beef and cabbage, but with a bit of a more gourmet twist that gives the meal a bit more flavor and flare.  I always use this recipe from for the corned beef.  It turns out great every time.

 I tried a new recipe for the cabbage this year that I found pinned by a friend on Pintrest.  It's a very simple recipe but the results were wonderful.  Slice one head of cabbage into thinnish slices, brush with olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and fennel seeds and roast in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes.  The crispy dark browned edges were the best!

 Apparently McDonalds runs out of Shamrock Shake mix within days every year.  I don't know how that is possible, as a Shamrock shake is as easy as vanilla ice cream, milk, mint extract, and green dye.  These were actually better than the real thing. 

I haven't made macaroni and cheese for the family since discovering all the dairy allergies in our family.  I've been craving something creamy and cheesy forever and a day, so I thought I'd attempt a non-cow dairy variation using goat's milk, goat cheese crumbles and shredded Manchego cheese (a spanish sheep's cheese).  It turned out beautifully creamy and absolutely delicious!

Non-Bovine Mac 'n Cheese

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups goat's milk
4 oz goat cheese crumbles
1 cup shredded Manchego cheese
1/2 box macaroni prepared according to package instructions and drained
1 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium sauce pan melt butter over medium heat.  Stir in flour and mix with a wooden spoon until no longer lumpy and the mixture begins to color.  Slowly add goat's milk and stir with a whisk making sure to work out all lumps.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring constantly until thickened and sauce begins to bubble.  Add cheeses and stir until melted completely.  

In a bowl stir melted butter into bread crumbs.  Spread on a cookie sheet and toast in oven until golden brown.  Watch carefully, this should take no longer than 5 minutes.

Place drained pasta in a 8 x8 baking dish and pour cheese sauce over it. Stir to cover pasta evenly.  Top with toasted bread crumbs.  Place casserole in oven for about 20 minutes.
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Friday, March 16, 2012

More Photos of the New House

 The camera has been getting a workout this week :) 

I've been slowly, but steadily unpacking and redecorating the new house.  I finished a few more rooms and still have a few more to go, but I'm really loving what has been finished so far.

Master Bedroom
In our old home, the master bedroom was a calm blue and white.  The new house came painted and with window treatments and so I decided it would be less expensive and much easier to go with the color scheme already in place.  As much as I loved my blue and white, I'm really loving the warm golds and reds of the new room.

Master Bedroom Vantage 2

Master Bath
 I love the double vanities and the huge jetted tub, although I haven't used it yet. One of these days I'll have the luxury of extra time for a nice long relaxing bath.'

Guest Room 1/ Karate Kid's Room
Karate Kid will be home for Easter.  I think she'll like her new room.  If you are ever in our neck of the woods, this room is ready and waiting for guests.

 Workout Room/Extra Storage
This room has one crazy painting scheme.  Eventually we'll get around to re-painting.  For now it serves its purpose.

Wreck Room
This is the finished half of the wreck room.  It's a huge open space and we love it. Eventually we hope to put in some storage cupboards for all the school books I have currently stored in bins and possibly set up the air hockey table.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

{P, H, F, R} March 15

round button chicken


I love this photo of the lone totem in Montana.


The cousins were so excited to see each other.  Here's my monkey Skoshi A with her equally silly monkey cousin.  They all had such a wonderful time with each other.  I'm so glad they are close.  There's very little that trumps family.


I'm not sure what my dad said to Lil' Lamb, but whatever it was, Lil' Lamb didn't like it a single bit. Just look at that face.


After a while, Lil' Lamb was done with all the visiting.  Once he'd reached his saturation point the only way to keep him happy was to take him outside and away from the crowd.  He was perfectly happy watching the "rodeo" through the window.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012


The JayP had a 4 day weekend, so on Thursday after school we loaded up the 12 passenger and headed to my home town.  My grandmother is 101 and had a bit of a health scare around Christmas, so my goal was to get in as much of a visit with her as possible.  Until about 3 months ago, GG, as we have lovingly nicknamed her, lived on her own in the house she and my grandfather built in the mid-1940s.  She has obviously been blessed with great health, longevity and independence, but with her decreased mobility, it was decided she needed to move to an assisted living community home.  On Friday evening I took Lil' Lamb up to meet his great-grandma.  She was thrilled and he was appropriately curious and naughty (she loves a little spunk in the kids).  I was able to convince her to venture out to my brother's house for a luncheon with the whole family on Saturday.  She wasn't sure at first, but we believe she had a wonderful time, when all was said and done.

GG's smile lights up the whole room.  I'm sure she's laughing at the antics of one of the children.  She affectionately calls our family gatherings "The Rodeo".

It's amazing to realize 100 years separates GG and Lil' Lamb.

Lil' Wingnut is such a little lover.  He didn't hesitate to give GG a big hug and he spent a fair amount of time sidling up to her.

GG was telling stories from her life.  She recalls an incredible amount of details.  Here she was telling my sister what she remembered about hearing about the attack on Pearl Harbor.  She and my grandfather had been building on the house and had decided they would take a little trip out to see her parents.  It was a cool misty day and as they drove out to the farm, he turned on the car radio and they heard the news Pearl Harbor had been bombed.  GG recalls she was really frightened by it all.

A rare photo of yours truly :)

On Sunday I took the children to visit GG in her new home.  It's a fairly nice place and the staff are helpful and friendly.  We were given a nice sitting room with a fire place to visit.  

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lil' Lamb 13 Months

Lil' Lamb just turned 13 months and suddenly he's walking and climbing on to anything he can reach.  Don't you just love that impy grin?

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

{P, H, F, R} 3/8

round button chicken

I've been experimenting and learning more about how to use my camera lately.  I'm even going to begin participating in the MCP Photo Challenges again.  As I have a tiny bit more free time I'm hoping to spend more time improving my photography skills.

This photo is for one of the MCP Challenges--Photographing your subject from on high.  My pretty little boy is of course one of my favorite photography subjects.


Our neighborhood is filled with all sorts of outdoor sporting vehicles.  My kiddos have experienced being dragged on a sled behind a snow mobile, one has ridden an ATV, and then one morning our neighbor showed up driving this fun vehicle.  My kids were grinning from ear to ear and squealing with joy as he drove them up and down hills and spun them around doing donuts.

 Lil' Lamb loves apples, but he refuses to eat the safely and nicely sliced bits of apple I try to give him.  He wants only the whole thing.  I peel and core it for him and he just goes to town.  Karate Kid was the exact same way when it came to apples.  It really cracks me up.

 I took a series of photos of this ordinary Klean Kanteen using different settings on my camera.  This one was my favorite.  I used the Av(aperture dominance) setting, auto ISO, alongside the blue/green boost.  I got some nice background blur and the blue really does pop!

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

15 Years Ago . . .

. . . our dear Oleander was born. With a head full of brown hair and big brown eyes, she immediately distinguished herself from her fair-haired older siblings.  All of our children are special and talented and loved in their own individual ways, but Little O has never ceased to surprise us.  In just this last year we've discovered our quiet, reserved girl had a voice of her very own; we found she has a propensity for languages; we've realized her superior academic aptitude; and have seen only the beginnings of her deep spiritual faith.  Even 1800 miles away we are learning more about her and drawing closer to her.  We miss her deeply, but the joy she exudes reaches across the miles and reassures us she is indeed in the place God wills her to be.

Oleander with her name sake, Great Grandma Olive

Oleander on All Saints as Our Lady of Lavang

Ollie with Bishop Holley and Sister Aeiparthenos on her Confirmation 

Our beautiful, and reserved girl.

Ollie with her SSVM family.

God Bless you, our dear child.  We love and miss you, especially today on your fifteenth birthday. Print Friendly and PDF