Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Day

The girls are the perfect age to make for and exciting Christmas morning. Luckily, the girls stuck to the rules and didn't come down until after 7am when the Christmas lights were on and the fireplace going. We did Santa's gifts for a while, then had a nice breakfast, then dug into the gifts under the tree.
Grandma Rosemary provided some fun gift opening with her delivery of several LARGE packages containing an assortment of sleds. We now have enough for neighborhood sledding. The girls loved their sleds and are praying for more snow. video

The sleds became indoor Christmas gift carriers and beds. In the afternoon they got some use outside.

Another favorite gift were aprons for the girls (made by Grandma) and matching aprons for their American Girl dolls (made by cousin Natalie). The girls were thrilled and couldn't wait to try them on.

The best part of Christmas was watching the girls plan, shop for and make gifts for each other. They spent a lot of time thinking about what to get for each other. And, as usual, their gifts to each other were some of their favorite presents on Christmas day. Here is Hannah making a cute little bean bag dog for Izzy.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Eve

We spent Christmas Eve on the slopes of Schweitzer. It was a beautiful day and we even saw Santa & Mrs. Claus. Izzy is a little unsure if she wants gifts from this guy.

We tried out a harness on Izzy (thanks Keith & Jenny!) and it worked great. It satisfied her need for independence (‘Do it by MYSELF!’) and our need to keep her from tearing down the hill out of control. She had so much fun, that after a whole day of skiing and no nap, she staged a protest. She laid down right in the middle of the parking lot and refused to go any closer to the car (and thus the end of skiing for the day). I have a great video, but for some reason it won't load.

The older girls all had fun skiing with friends and even skied Jack's dream - a black diamond run they are fond of. All in all, a great way to start the Christmas celebrations!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Izzy Learns About Money

In our house, 2 years old is definitely too young for allowance. But our crafty Izzy thought otherwise. While I was busy helping the other girls separate allowance into tithing, savings and spending, Izzy was busy helping herself to the Davidson Allowance Bank (a.k.a. a bowl containing change and bills that I use to hold allowance money). Before I realized it, she filled her little purse with about $5 in quarters.

She has been carrying it around every since, just waiting for the right moment to spend it. All of the other girls have had a special trip with Mom to do their Christmas shopping and she was just waiting for her chance. As we were out running errands the other day she seized the opportunity and brought her purse - asking to use it at the Library, Post Office and just about every other place we went. Finally, we ended up at Super Drug and I gave in. When I told her she could spend her money, she started shopping in earnest for Christmas gifts for her sisters. I helped her settle on .50 packages of Christmas candy - one for each sister.

She proudly carried her goods up to the counter, handed them to the cashier and pulled out her wallet. She is too short to actually see the cashier over the counter, so I lifted her up to sit on the counter. As a line of three or four people started to gather behind us, Izzy proceeded to pull her money out one coin at a time. Knowing this would take more time than the patience of people in line, I asked if I could help her count it. 'Do it BY MYSELF' was her response. I knew a 2 year old tantrum was in the makings. Luckily, the cashier was kind and a quick thinker. She said that if Izzy let me help count the money she would give Izzy a special piece of paper with her purchase (a receipt). Izzy was so excited she said Thank You and was pleased as can be.

I think I'm going to have to hide that little purse of hers for a while. She is sweet and cute, but definitely has a will of her own!

Monday, December 13, 2010

CHRISTmas

Cassi posted this great video on her blog. I had to pass it on. I wish I were eating at the food court that day. Molly, I kept looking for your face to pop up in the crowd - this is just up your alley!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Simplicity

Shortly after Thanksgiving, I found this story by Janet Lee, the wife of former BYU president Rex Lee…

Several years ago, during the Christmas season, President and Sister Hinckley came to BYU for a musical event. Before the program, there was buffet dinner, and at one point while the men were away from our table, the women began to talk about the frustrations of getting ready for Christmas. Our conversation focused on the fact that everything about the season was becoming a burden for women. We bear the responsibility of selecting gifts, organizing social events, preparing everyone’s favorite food, and making certain that family, guests, and even the less fortunate have a merry Christmas. We felt overwhelmed if not resentful.

Sister Hinckley listened patiently, and then without the slightest edge of criticism in her voice said, “I love Christmas. It is the most joyful of all seasons. I love seeing the eyes of little children light up on Christmas morning. I love giving gifts. I love being with my family. We just need to simplify and remember what we are celebrating.”

After she had spoken, something magical happened. Our attitudes shifted, and we began to talk about the birth of our Savior and the spirit of giving. In the years that have passed since those words were spoken, a burden has been lifted for me during the holidays. As I shop, prepare food, and join with friends and family to celebrate the birth of our Savior, her words nurture and calm me. “I love Christmas,” I hear her say, and I let her teach me to relax and enjoy the season.

This story reminded me how much I love Christmas and how much I enjoy doing all of those things that make it special. It also reminded me that I need to stop getting overwhelmed, keep things simple, be more patient and enjoy the small moments. I love wrapping gifts. I love decorating the tree and the house and putting up our Nativities.

I love the Christmas lights in the windows and the traditions that we have started in our family. I love that my girls spend more time trying to decide what to buy for their sisters than they spend making their own Christmas lists. I love reflecting on the birth of our Savior.

Monday, November 29, 2010

First Snow

It has been snowing hard for a week now. We have been sledding, skating, building snowmen and riding behind the quad. Yesterday we spent our first day on the slopes. Although the base wasn't too deep, Schweitzer opened with some amazingly soft and fluffy snow the day after Thanksgiving. We decided to take the whole family. It was Izzy's first time and she had lots of fun. Hannah, Paige and Maren picked up where they left off last year and we had a great day!
Look Dad, I can parallel ski on my first day out! video
Here I am with Maren. Uh oh! Who is this crazy boy skiing into me? Oh well, I'm too good for him. I'll just keep going and beat him to the bottom of the magic carpet! That will show him that girls are better skiers! Slow and careful - that's the way to do it.

video

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Last Minute Thanksgiving

We had lots of great plans to travel to Utah for the Thanksgiving weekend. We were all looking forward to dinner with most of my siblings and their kids, tickets to the Nutcracker, cousin sleepovers, putting together care packages for cousins on missions, humanitarian aid projects, bingo games and probably a late night game of Canasta.

Instead, we found ourselves in the middle of freezing temperatures, closed roads and six days worth of snowstorms in the forecast. We decided to stay home instead of chancing a possibly long and dangerous drive.

We were sad, we were blue, but we found lots to be grateful for. We were invited to Thanksgiving dinner with friends who also changed plans because of the weather. My refrigerator was empty, so I had to do some last minute scrambling to come up with some things to contribute to the dinner. I searched some of my favorite blogs and found some great recipes. We had a really yummy meal. Dawn's turkey was amazingly moist and tasty. Rosalie's rolls were delicious. Here's what I brought (can you tell which part of the Thanksgiving meal I like best?)...

This delicious candied walnut salad from Our Best Bites…

An amazing Key-lime coconut pie from Everyday Food…

This wonderful White Pumpkin Cheesecake turned out creamy and smooth and looked beautiful (also from Our Best Bites)!

From The Pioneer Woman came this great recipe for Pecan Pie. I think it’ll replace that recipe from the Karo Syrup bottle that I have used in the past.

I have always struggled with pie crusts. I have never found a recipe that works consistently for me. Recently a friend recommended this Pie Crust recipe from Martha Stewart. It uses a food processor. I have made it three times now - and each time it has come out well. This recipe may change my pie crust luck.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Daddy-Daughter Date

(a.k.a. fire-arms training)
If our girls grow up and ask the bridesmaids at their wedding to wear Camo,
it's all Kirk's fault!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Halloween

I'm a bit slow, but here's a photo of our little trick-or-treaters.
Princess Eilonwy (from The Black Cauldron), the Witch, the fortune teller and the 50's cutie.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Running

I ran 6 miles this morning.

No big deal... I run 6 miles, three times a week.

The difference is that I ran it ALONE.

I have always considered myself a social runner. Sure, my body can do the miles, but I have always thought that, mentally, I needed my running friends right beside me to get through the miles. I have had some great running partners. They keep me talking, encourage me and push me.

This morning I didn’t have any running partners. So I put my earphones in and took off. It felt great to get home after running hard and knowing that I did it on my own.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Food Storage Challenge

I have given myself a little challenge. For the next few months I am going to prepare one evening meal per week with only food storage items. I’m great at using food storage for breakfast, but I don’t have too many dinner recipes in my repertoire that come only from food storage. And who can eat pancakes and oatmeal everyday? Well, maybe Kirk. But not the rest of our family.

I feel a need to build up the number of recipes that I enjoy making, we like eating, and come mainly from food storage and pantry items. I am asking for your help. If any of you out there reading this have some favorite recipes that you could share, please email or call me with them. PLEASE! My only requirement is that the meal must be something (1) made mainly from food storage items & must be a food that (2) your family likes to eat on a regular basis.

Here is one that I do make often. It came from my great sister-in-law, Molly. I hope you like it!

Black Bean Stew

1 onion (you can use dehydrated onion)

3 cloves garlic

1/8 tsp. red pepper

½ tsp. cumin

½ tsp. thyme

2 cans chicken broth

1 large can green chilies

14 oz. can stewed tomatoes

3 cans black beans (I use my dried beans and cook them the day before)

Sauté onion, garlic, and pepper. Add herbs, broth, beans and simmer for 1 ½ hours. Remove half of the stew and blend until smooth. Return to pan and heat till warm. Serve over rice with lemon, cilantro and sour cream.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Crib for Sale

Do you know of anyone that needs a crib? We have moved beyond it now that Izzy is in a big bed. Here are the details:
Natural Maple hardwood
Good condition
Mattress can be raised or lowered to desired height
Mattress included, but well used
I also have several sets of white and cream crib sheets
$60

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Garden Finale

We had our first frost this week. The tomatoes got hit before I could get the last few green ones picked.

I didn't have too much luck with the garden this year. We just didn't have a very long or warm summer. I had great carrots, swiss chard, lettuce and peas. But everything else was pretty sad.

This was going to be my big tomato year. I planted 6 plants in hopes of having enough to make some great salsa. I may be able to make a batch or two, but definitely not the quantity that I had imagined.

I tried a few different varieties this year. The Matina tomatoes that I plant every year did well, as did the Sun Gold variety. But my Roma, Isis Candy and Supice all looked pretty sad. Maybe next year. Do you have a favorite variety that can grow in a short, cooler season?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lunch Money

I have three girls packing a sack lunch to school everyday. For some reason adding Maren into the morning lunch routine this year got me to thinking.... About Ziploc baggies. I figure I use about 4 Ziplocs per kid, per day (to hold sandwich, fruit, vegetable & chip or treat). That comes to 12 Ziplosc per day or 60 Ziplocs per week (wow!). Average cost is about 5 cents per Ziploc. That adds up to $3 per week - or roughly $108 per school year. That's a lot of money in plastic! Actually, it's not really the money, but stuffing everything into those little bags every morning that got me thinking. Is there a better way? Do I always need a supply of Ziplocs on hand - what if I ran out? Is it wasteful for my kids to throw out so much trash after lunch everyday? I really hate stuffing food into those things every morning! So, I got some inspiration from this cute blog, another lunch, written by a mom who does amazing things with some pretty ordinary lunch items. She gave me this idea... the metal lunch tray from Planet Box. No more Ziplocs. Their cute little metal tray has individual compartments to keep food separated, closes into a nice little package, and is dishwasher safe. Unfortunately, it is a little out of my budget at $35. Maybe some day I'll splurge. In the meantime, I opted for a less expensive option...
This nifty little find from The Container Store was only $10. It also has individual compartments, plus comes with a water bottle that fits perfectly into one of the pockets. The kids come home, clean out the crumbs and stack it on the counter for the next day. It's been a great alternative to the traditional sack lunch.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Kitchen Art

I've been trying to think of ways to keep Izzy occupied while I work in the kitchen. There are many times when she is standing on a chair beside me scrubbing carrots or mixing pancakes. But sometimes I need her busy doing her own thing.
I think I found something when I ran across this free printable...
You can find it at babalisme. Download it. Print it onto Avery Magnet Sheets. Cut it out and VOILA...
Instant entertainment.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hillary’s Pita Pockets

WARNING: If you try this recipe you'll never be able to eat another dry, hard pita pocket from the store again!

Here's the basic recipe and some tricks to make it work. For a more detailed explanation and better pictures check out Cassi's blog.

Pita Pocket Bread

1 3/4 c. warm water

2 1/2 t. yeast

2 t. sugar

2 t. salt

2 T. oil

2 c. whole wheat flour

2 3/4 – 3 c. white flour

Mix water, sugar and yeast together. Let stand for five minutes. Add salt, oil and wheat flour; mix well. Add white flour one cup at a time until dough is soft and slightly sticky. Knead for five minutes. Let dough rest for 30 minutes, well oiled and covered.

Roll dough into eight balls (10-12 for smaller pitas). Roll out into circles on a well floured surface until 1/4 inch thick. Place on a floured cookie sheet without sides. This is important as you will need to slide the pitas into the oven with as little handling as possible. Let rest for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place baking stone or baking sheet in oven to preheat. VERY CAREFULLY transfer bread to oven and bake until lightly browned. This takes about 4 minutes in my oven. Cool and cut pockets in half.

Tips:

* Do not rest unbaked pitas on top of each other or touching in any way.

* Do not push down on or disturb pitas after the rest period.

* Pitas freezer very well. I often double the recipe and freeze what we don’t eat for another meal.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What's for Dinner?

I am in mourning.

I sunk into a real life, honest-to-goodness depression the other night when I looked in my freezer and realized it was empty of freezer meals. What was I going to do for dinner? It was a busy day and I really didn't have time to plan. I just needed something I could pop into the oven in a hurry.

For the past several years, my friend and I have been exchanging freezer meals on a monthly basis. We would each make up several meals, freeze them in disposable containers and swap them. She recently moved. So now I am on my own, her freezer meals long ago eaten.

I decided I better pick myself up and get to filling my freezer again. I started with Emeril’s Chicken-patty Pockets. A delicious recipe from my Everyday Food magazine.

To make as a freezer meal, simply shape the patties and freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. When they are frozen, transfer them to a freezer Ziploc bag, label with instructions and a date and store in freezer. When you are ready to use, pull them out of the freezer, put them on a cookie sheet and broil as directed. From frozen they only take a minute or two more to cook.
You can purchase pita bread from the store, but it’s about a zillion times better if you make it yourself. I have a great recipe I’ll share later this week. You’ll never go back.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A New Do

Hannah has a 'new do'. Actually, we all have new haircuts thanks to a recent visit to Aunt Verna (who is the best hairdresser ever)! But that is not the point. Hannah's 'new do' is a little more drastic than the rest of ours because she decided to cut 10" off and donate it to Locks of Love - a non-profit organization that provides hair pieces (made from donated hair) for children with long-term medical hair loss.
Hannah loves having long hair and has grown it out for several years. So this was a big deal. She was a little nervous. But there was no turning back after that first cut.

After the 10" was gone, but before the real haircut... a nervous smile. She's not sure she should have done this.

Finished! Thanks Aunt Verna!

There were no regrets after a day of compliments and the sense of self confidence that comes with a new hair cut.

Isn't she cute? They are all pretty cute with new hair cuts.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Give,

Give,
it will make you happy!

Imagine how great things would be if we all were...

Beautiful on the inside.
I just love this artist. I was so happy to find her art at our local summer art fair. When I saw my girls playing in the leaves yesterday, it reminded me of these beautiful prints. See more of her work at Etsy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Time

Tonight I sat on my bathroom floor for twenty minutes.

The house was quiet - the older girls on a bike ride with Kirk. Izzy had just gotten out of the bath tub and wanted to brush my hair.

So I sat.

She brushed, combed and 'braided'. At first, I my mind started making a list of all of the chores I should have been doing - dishes, pajamas, teeth brushing, etc.

Then I realized.

Sitting quietly with Izzy is what I needed to be doing and the list vanished from my mind. Which is amazing, considering what a task oriented person I am.

Right now Kirk is outside looking at the moon through the telescope with the girls. He loves spontaneous moments like this and they come naturally to him. For me, on the other hand, they do not come naturally.

But I am learning.

I hope to have many more quiet moments with my kids before they are too big to appreciate them with me.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Saturday is a special day...

It's the day we do something as a family. Like...
Riding our bikes to city beach.

There is a great path along the lake from our neighborhood to City Beach. It's a little undeveloped (adventurous) in spots, but fun and beautiful. There are plans to develop the trail. To see what the proposed new trail looks like and see what you can do to help, check out the Friends of Pend d'Oreille Bay Trail website.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Potty Training update

Without giving too many details you probably don't want to hear anyway, let me just say that Izzy is doing amazingly well with the transition from diapers to panties. She has been at it for a week and a half now and hasn't had an accident in days.
I can't take much credit - she was just ready. Potty treats are also a big help.
Way to go Izzy!
Thanks for making this milestone so easy on your mother!