Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Card 2012

Her she is, the preview of Christmas Card 2012.  We took these photos in June when I was sure all the kids would be home.  You may notice the JayP has his back turned to the camera.  He flat out refused to cooperate.  He thought I was being dumb for taking photos for the Christmas card so soon.  He was sure we'd all be together again before Christmas.  He was wrong.  So there he is in all his stubborn glory.  LOL!

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

{P,H,F,R} The Zoo

round button chicken

The weather has been unseasonably warm here in Utah.  We took advantage of the weather and took Lil' Lamb on his first trip to the zoo.


This is one of three brother tigers at the Hogle Zoo.  Isn't he pretty?


Lil' Lamb was absolutely fascinated with the animals.

Here he is pointing to the baby elephant(out of shot).

Three happy zoo kids.


It doesn't matter what they are up to, Meer Cats are just funny.

I believe this is a Palais Cat.  We were cracking up over his taking a snooze in a comfy little bed decked with a fleecy blankie.


Even in the wild, moms can't help being moms.  This was a sweet shot of mother and son.  Too bad I didn't read up on zoo photography before we headed out.  I need to work on eliminating the fencing from my shots.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Movie Review: The Artist

Wingnut and I watched The Artist on Netflix over the weekend.  It's the first Oscar winning film I've watched since The Return of the King.  Hollywood and I don't agree on much.  That being said, I had heard this was a truly good movie and I'd been looking forward to seeing it.  I wasn't sure if a black and white silent film could impress this thoroughly modern mommy, but it really did.  It is a wonderfully enjoyable, watchable, and lovely movie.

The real question was whether a modern actor could take on the challenge of acting in a silent film.  French actor Jean Dujardin was perfect as the soon to be obsolete silent film star, George Valentin.  The Artist recalls the fate of many silent film stars who's careers were ended with the advent of talking pictures.  Silent stars slipped from the screen as new exciting stars emerged with the arrival of movie sound: this is the story of George Valentin and Peppy Miller, played by Berenice Bejo.  As Peppy's star rises, George's fame and fortune fades.  Will he be able to resurrect his career?

It is suggested George is a bit of a philanderer. This along with a profane hand gesture, and I'm sure at least one profanity can be deciphered in the pantomime, leads me to recommend this film for older teens and adults. The MPAA gives The Artist a PG-13 rating and the USCCB gave the film an A-III (adults only).

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dairy-free Chocolate Cream Pie

This recipe is adapted from Cooks Illustrated Magazine

Chocolate Cream Pie with Coconut Milk

16 cream filled sandwich cookies broken into pieces
2 Tbsp melted unsalted butter

2 cups canned coconut milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
6 large egg yolks at room temperature
6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter cut into 1 inch pieces
7 ounces Ghiradelli 60% cocoa dark chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

For the crust: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Process cookies in a food processor until fine crumbs. Pulse melted butter into crumbs several times until combined. Pour into a pie plate and press into plate evenly along the bottom and up the sides to form the pie shell. Refrigerate 20 minutes to firm. Bake 10 minutes and then cool on rack.

For the filling: bring coconut milk and about half the sugar to a simmer in a sauce pan, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Stir together the remaining sugar and the cornstarch in a small bowl. Whisk the egg whites thoroughly in a medium bowl until slightly thickened. Sprinkle cornstarch/sugar mixture over yolks and whisk until mixture is glossy and the sugar has dissolved. Drizzle 1/2 cup of simmered coconut milk over the yolks, whisking constantly to temper, then whisk yolk mixture into remaining coconut milk in sauce pan. Return to a simmer, whisking constantly until mixture is thickened and glossy. (Mixture should appear custard like). Off heat whisk in butter chunks until incorporated; add chocolate and whisk until melted. Whisk in vanilla. Pour into cooled crust. Place plastic wrap directly on surface of. The filling and refrigerate about 3 hours.

For those without dairy issues, top pie with freshly whipped and sweetened heavy cream.

*you may need to pour pie filling through a fine mesh strainer before pouring into the crust if you see any lumps or curdled egg in the custard. I've never had that issue with this recipe but it's nice to know, just in case.

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Post Thanksgiving Post: What Did and What Didn't Work

This post serves as a reminder to myself: Stick with the tried and true! While everything was good, pretty much every new recipe I tried was not nearly as good as the recipes I usually use.

Let's begin with the turkey. I tried the woven bacon breastplate discovered on Pinterest. While the finished product looked beautiful, we all agreed the turkey really did not benefit from the bacon and we all missed the crisped up turkey skin. The turkey was moist and flavorful, but only because it was brined for two days. Ladies, always, always brine that turkey! You will never regret it. Our bird cooked well beyond the 165 degree mark and it did not dry out in the least.

I stuck to tried and true for the dressing, although I did use homemade peasant loaf for the first time. Win!

Skoshi A made the sweet potato casserole using our traditional recipe. Cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy were made from previously used and favorite recipes.

I used a new recipe for the pumpkin pie because I wanted to make it completely from scratch, including the pumpkin puree. I did substitute goat's milk in the recipe and it did set up just fine, even if it did need just about 10 extra minutes in the oven to do so. While it tasted pretty good, this particular recipe called for too much ginger, in my opinion, two teaspoons was overwhelming. I may use the same recipe again in the future, but will adjust the spices.

The pecan pie recipe was also new. It claimed to have won the Blue Ribbon at the Texas State Fair. It was a lot more work than my usual recipe and it was WAY TOO SWEET! The best recipe for pecan pie is the one on the back of the Karo bottle. Do not stray, I say!

For the chocolate pie, I used the Cook's Illustrated recipe. I subbed all natural creme filled cookies for the Oreo crust, used Ghiradelli bitter sweet chocolate chips, and subbed canned coconut milk for the dairy. It was spectacular! It had just a hint of a coconut flavor, which was a nice unexpected touch.

How was your feast?

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day 2 of the Cooking Marathon

We got more done yesterday than expected. Both cranberry sauce and sweet potato casserole were completed. Today is devoted to the thee pies, the dressing, and the initial prep for giblet gravy. Happy cooking! Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Day 1 of the Cooking Marathon

Why, oh why, do we beat ourselves up cooking up a storm for a feast that lasts all of 20 minutes in our house?

Because, it's Tradition!

Today I did the grocery shopping, baked a sugar pumpkin, sweet potatoes, a loaf of peasant bread and will brine the turkey.  For dinner tonight we are having hot dogs.  I won't be doing any extra cooking if I don't have to.

Thanksgiving Menu 2012

Bacon wrapped roast turkey
Apple, bacon, sage dressing
Mashed potatoes and turkey giblet gravy
Sweet potato casserole
Cranberries with ginger and orange
Scratch made pumpkin pie (made with goat's milk)
Blue ribbon Texas Pecan pie
Chocolate pie (made with coconut milk and Ghiradelli dark chocolate) Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, November 19, 2012


After another back injury and month long running set back, I'm back in the saddle, pounding the pavement once again. Am I just getting too old for this form of exercise? Another injury and I just might hang up my running shoes for good. It's too bad, I really do love running, especially here in Utah. The scenery is gorgeous and the air is so crisp and clean.

Having taken a month to heal, I thought it wise not to dive right back into the 10K training program I was several weeks into. Funny though, without the training program telling me how long to run I am having a difficult time keeping motivated while I run. Telling myself, "Ok, Maurisa, today you are running to point A and back," isn't enough to keep me chugging the entire way.

I found it's the same with the calorie tracking program I use. If I don't faithfully put in every bite I've eaten, I lose the motivation to stick to it. I guess I'm thankful for the great motivating apps in use on my phone. Without them I don't think I'd make it very far in my endeavor to get and stay healthy. Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, November 16, 2012

Why I Could Never be a Hollywood Actor

. . . Aside from no acting talent. It must be near impossible to be an actor of faith these days. There are but a handful of outwardly/outspoken Christians in Hollywood and many who are find themselves struggling to find quality work.

Wingnut and I have been big fans of the CBS drama, Person of Interest, staring Jim Caviezel. Mr. Caviezel has been an outspoken Catholic since before his days as Jesus in The Passion of the Christ. He's spoken out against ESCR-- going so far as to lend himself to a commercial during the 2006 elections in support of Senator Jim Talent and his opposition of ESCR. Caviezel has also been strongly and publicly pro-life. As an outward sign of this, he and his wife have adopted two special needs children.  He's been the refreshing face of Catholicism in the mainstream entertainment industry.

Unfortunately, at some point in Hollywood values are eventually compromised if you want to continue finding work as an actor. It was so disappointing watching last night's episode of POI in which a married lesbian couple was featured. Apparently this was a storyline Mr. Caviezel could not oppose. Certainly I'm not expecting perfection from Jim Caviezel, but gay marriage is such a big issue right now and as we are being pushed against our will to not only recognize it, but to accept it. It's entertainment such as this that may become the lynch pin that brings the downfall of traditional marriage and the end of true religious freedom. It's just too bad. Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Homemaking does not a Blogger Make

It's not that I haven't had much to say, but lately this blog has really been taking a back seat.  You see, I've been a bit busy with my regular life and on a homemaking/organization kick.  I've switched to almost all all-natural homemade cleaners.  I love the homemade laundry soap we've been using and the vinegar and essential oil fabric softener does the trick.  I use tons of vinegar in all the cleaning we do. Guess what? Not only is vinegar extremely effective, it's super cheap.  After nearly three months, we have definitely seen a difference in our grocery bill.  Click here for the link to the book I've been using--it has recipes for every cleaning supply you can imagine.

The only homemade cleaners that were complete bombs were the dish washing liquid and the dish washer detergent.  Castille soap, used in dish washing liquid, is very expensive and was not worth the effort or the cost in making homemade soap.  The dish washer detergent did not work at all.  We suffered with horribly film covered, even dirty dishes for a month and I tried every natural suggestion I could find before Wingnut went out and bought the real stuff--the real expensive stuff.  We now have sparkling clean dishes again.  Sometimes the costly chemical stuff is the only way to go, unfortunately.

Another successful homemaking effort has been cooking more of all our food.  We eat in restaurants very rarely now.  It of course takes a bit of forethought and organization to make it work, but really there is so little restaurant fare that is better tasting than homemade any way.  Pinterest has been a huge help in this regard.  I'm easily bored with making and eating the same things, so Pinterest has provided a wonderful creative outlet for my cooking enthusiasm.  We've add many new and tasty recipes to our repertoire.

I've returned to using FlyLady in helping me stay focused on weekly cleaning zones.  Along with her zones and missions, I make a list of things I'd like to have cleaned in that zone for the week.  This week I tackled light fixtures in our bathroom.  They are sparkly shiny clean and it makes me smile just to look at them.

There, now, I've managed to eke out a blog post on why I'm too busy to blog.  Not too shabby.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Skyfall Movie Review

I wasn't a big Bond fan until Daniel Craig took on the role in 2006.  I've loved the darker, damaged persona that has been brought to the last three films.  Wingnut and I took in the latest installment last week, and I was not disappointed.  Skyfall is the best one yet.

MI6 is under attack and deep undercover agents are at risk after a list of names and cover is stolen.  Bond is tasked with tracking down the attacker, who seems to know a bit too much about MI6 and it's operations.

Along with Craig playing Bond for the third time, Dame Judi Dench reprises her role as M. The rest of the roles are new in this film, including both Bond girls;  Eve, played by Naomie Harris and Severine, played by Berenice Marlohe. Ralph Fiennes enters the series as Gareth Mallory, a government official involved in British national security.  A quirky Q is played by a young actor, Ben Whishaw. Finally, Javier Bardem stars as ex-MI6 agent, Silva, one of the creepiest Bond villains in the series.

Skyfall is packed with great action sequences as all Bond films, but also continues the recent trend of exposing Bond's back story bit by bit.  As a tribute to the 50 year anniversary of the 007 movies, homage is paid throughout the film that bridge old Bond with the new.  Some connectors are more clever than others, some are a bit campy. If you are a 007 fan at all, you will truly enjoy this film.  How many classic connections will you discover?  Wingnut and I are still discovering them several days later--adding to the fun.

Adult themes, language, and an incredibly creepy scene between Bardem's character and Bond make this film suitable only for adults. The USCCB gave the film an A-III (adults). Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, November 9, 2012

Honey Lemon Cure-All

We've had some kind of cold going around the family and my kids have been going through this stuff like crazy.  It's very simply lemons and raw honey.  This particular large mason jar holds three sliced lemons and 16 ounces of honey.  We keep it in the refrigerator and use it like a tea.  Just place a couple slices of the honey marinated lemon in a mug along with 1 or 2 tablespoons of the liquid.  Pour hot water in the mug and stir to mix.  It tastes like hot lemonade and works great for coughs, congestion, and sore throats.  The kids have been drinking it in the morning with breakfast and it really does the trick.  Here's a little factoid for you; both lemon and honey have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, which is why this stuff works so well.  I love that this elixir is 100% all natural. (As this uses raw honey, do not give this to children younger than 2 as recommended by pediatricians)

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Back to Life

Lil' Lamb turned 21 months on Sunday.  I can't believe how much he's changed.  It doesn't matter how many children we have, I'm always amazed at how quickly they grow and learn.  He's talking a whole lot more this month and his vocabulary increases every single day.  He's even got his own special name for me that I absolutely love: "mom-mom".  It makes his life a bit easier now that he's able to communicate better, even if I'm the only one that can interpret all his words.  He's also decided he wants nothing to do with my camera.  I had the hardest time trying to get a picture of him for this post.  He refused to look up at me.  If I tried to get down closer to him with the camera, he'd run off.  It was a very tricky photo shoot.

Here he is refusing to look up.  I was trying all my tricks to no avail.

"I'll be having none of that, mom-mom!"

I sent him chasing after a ball and he brought it back to me, allowing for this shot with the sun flare.

Finally I just laid down on the ground with the camera, which really peaked his curiosity and I was finally able to get a pic of his adorable little face.  He even smiled, the little imp.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Slavery Over Freedom

I am extremely saddened by the election outcome. However, in the end it may be better for our nation to implode with the nuclear blast it is heading toward under Obama than to slowly burn under moderate Republican power. Just a few random thoughts to write out and then I will let it go and get back to life and my family.

--Americans do not like change and voted for the status quo.

--It is truly unfortunate that more than half our nation chose the slavery of government provision and intervention over freedom. I guess free healthcare, welfare, and continued bailouts won the day.

--The real loser in this election was religious freedom. There is no turning back now. After four years of Obamacare and the HHS mandate they will be nearly impossible to repeal. It's also looking more and more like gay marriage is a done deal. It's been said this election's primary issue was the economy. I believe it is easier to repeal bad fiscal policy than it is to regain moral ground. I'm afraid the Christian Right lost a huge battle last night.

--Finally, it should not be lost on anyone of the Judeo-Christian tradition
that the inauguration falls conspicuously and significantly close to the 40 year anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision. Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, November 5, 2012

On Why I'm not Voting for Either Candidate

Yes, you read that correctly.  I'm "throwing away" my vote on a third party candidate tomorrow.  I'm doing this #1 because I can, as I am quite sure Mitt Romney will win here in Utah and #2 I want to cast my vote for a candidate I can trust and believe in; a candidate that most lines up with my views as a voter.

I do realize there are only two possible outcomes to the election tomorrow.  Believe me, I am praying the Romney/Ryan ticket is victorious but they do not need my vote.  I'm sure I do not need to enumerate the reasons President Obama will not win my vote.  Realistically, I don't believe things will change much if Romney does win.  He's a big government man, quite adept at protecting his political hide.

His economic plan, while better than Obama's, only serves to push the inevitable fiscal collapse of our country down the road a few years more.  He's promised to repeal Obamacare, but I don't think he will be able to and even if he could repeal it, he would likely "need" to replace it with some other big government healthcare plan.  He's promised to appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court, but I don't trust he understands what that truly means.  He has proven to be the kind of politician willing to shift with the prevailing winds (immigration, gun control, tax cuts, big money in politics, and even abortion).

I do have hope he will uphold religious freedom and that he will repeal the HHS mandate.  I do believe he will serve our country well and will reestablish our reputation as a powerful nation that does not bow to tyranny.

Instead of voting for either mainstream party, I will be voting Constitution Party down the line.  The Constitution Party is pro-life, without exception.  The Constitution Party is 100% behind our national defense and supportive of the military.  The Constitution Party will protect the 2nd Amendment and supports educational freedom. The Constitution Party stands by the Constitution line by line.

I love this quote from their national headquarters:

"A person's vote is truly wasted when he does not use it to express his genuine beliefs.  A lesser of two evils vote only leads to politicians to act as though they have a mandate to move forward with an agenda that all to often hastens the destruction of our country."

Don't get me wrong, if Romney were in any danger of losing here, he would get my vote.  It would be a horrific evil to have Obama remain in the White House.  However, because I can, I'm taking Dr. Alan Keyes lead and casting my vote according to the "Platform Republican Approach".

I am voting to honor God. God's Will be done! Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween Photos

Avengers seemed to be the big theme this year.  Wingnut Jr. could not resist dressing as the 1st Avenger.

Special K went as a masquerade belle.

The girls spend hours upon hours listening to the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack.  They were fascinated with the idea of the masquerade ball.  Skoshi A also dressed in masquerade, but I failed to get a photo :(

I didn't even bother buying or making a costume for Lil' Lamb.  I was sure he'd be cowering in the house all evening.  He wants absolutely nothing to do with masks, hoods, costumes, etc.  We joked around that he was going as the emperor in his new clothes.

The kids did a fantastic job carving their jack-o-lanterns.

Much to my surprise, Lil' Lamb did decide he liked the costume idea once he saw Wingnut Jr. in his Captain America costume.  Thankfully it was easy to dig up our Davy Crocket costume from a couple years back.  The Lil' guy even survived trick-or-treating.

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Fail

Leave it to Americans to take something so completely indicative of our culture, like trick-or-treating and ruining it. Yeah, I'm talking 'bout you, trunk-or-treat.

Apparently our entire neighborhood met down at the local ward and passed out all their candy from the trunks of their cars. We didn't get that memo. Here we were with a tub of candy and our kids all dressed up waiting for their friends, who ditched them for the easy pay off.

Whatever happened to the true spirit of Halloween? When we were kids, we had to work for our tricks-or-treats. We walked from door to door in the bitter cold. We lived in the country too, where houses were more than a stones throw apart. If we were lucky our mom or dad would drive alongside and we could hitch a ride if the next house was more than an acre away. There wasn't any of this one stop shopping kind of Halloween. What is happening to America?

Wingnut ended up escorting our youngest three through the neighborhood. They scored some candy, but for the most part, the trunk-or-treat crowd had to raid their pantries for juice boxes and Doritos to hand out to stragglers that missed out on the parking lot gig.

I have pictures to post later today. Even if the neighborhood was a bit of a Halloween fail, the kids still enjoyed themselves and they were awfully cute. If I could just stay away from the left over tub of sugar. . . Print Friendly and PDF