Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Christmas Countdown a.k.a. Our Advent(ure)


A few years ago The Best Mother in Law in the World gave us a beautiful Christmas countdown house. It is absolutely adorable and will be a treasured decoration for years to come. Especially now that I decided to do a Christ centered countdown instead of a candy centered countdown. My kids won't be playing with it when my back is turned (or at least that is what I am hoping). Last year I tried the candy thing and after a few days of it being up, the kids broke off the Santa. Thank goodness for superglue! I'm hoping to avoid that kind of destruction in the future.

I have been thinking about this Christmas countdown for a few weeks and finally found a countdown that I liked well enough to use. I wanted an LDS theologic base and activities for my kids to do. Google introduced me to an old issue of The Friend from 2000 that had a great countdown. You read a few verses of scripture and then do the activity for that day. So instead of creating my own, I decided to use this one since it met all of my needs. I am not doing the nativity puzzle although that is a cute idea too.

I updated it with the current Prophet's name and included all of the scripture verses listed so we can read them directly off the paper. Then I printed out the list and cut into strips, rolled or folded them up and stuffed them into each day's box on the Christmas countdown house.

I think it will be a big hit and also be a great way to bring the Spirit and focus on Christ a little more frequently in our house. I am looking forward to tonight's first little door opening.

If you also want to do this with your family, I made a PDF that you can download here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Great Pumpkin Experiment


I am just going to come out and say it; I am not a fan of pumpkin pie. I have yet to take a bite of pumpkin pie and be wowed by the deliciousness. I would rather eat a cherry pie any day. You may have noticed that my feelings toward it has not ever stopped me from eating it. It IS pie, after all. Who says no to pie?!?

So with this being the case, I have not really been big on pumpkin. I love the orange skin and the fun that can be had by carving them. I love the feeling of squishing pumpkin guts between my fingers. I have not been big on eating pumpkin...

until this year.

I went to the grocery store with Magnus and he found these adorable little pie pumpkins and so we got one for each kid. They have been sitting on the table or on countertops since, as decoration. It was time to either use them up or throw them out.

I chose to use them. I chopped them up with a serrated knife into large chunks and scooped out the guts. I put them in a large microwavable bowl, added a half inch or so of water, covered and cooked for 10 minutes. Then I put them in a collander to cool for a few minutes. When they were cool enough so that I didn't run screaming from the kitchen when I touched them, I peeled off the skin and put all the soft flesh into a bowl. Next I got to use my potato masher and squish the soft flesh into a puree'. Easy and fun.

Now that I had this big bowl of pumpkin goop I had to find a use for it. This has proven very easy, fun and delicious!

We are big porridge eaters at our house. That could be an insult except that it is just too yummy. I decided to add some pumpkin to our porridge one morning.

Pumpkin Cornmeal Porridge
4 C Water
1 C Cornmeal
1/2 C Pumpkin puree'
1 C Sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground all spice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
3 Eggs
1/2 tsp Salt

Put water, salt and cornmeal into a pot and bring to a boil. Stirring occasionally with a whisk to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan and clumping. Reduce heat to medium low heat. Add pumpkin and sugar. Put a lid on the pot and let the porridge cook down until it is the consistency of nice oatmeal. I like mine kind of thick. I think it is less messy that way. At this point turn off the heat and add the eggs and spices then whisk until the eggs are fully inorporated and your porridge has a nice custard consistency. Usually the heat of the porridge is enough to cook the eggs but if yours are still slimy turn the heat on and make sure they get cooked. If you whisk the eggs in well you won't even know that eggs were included. It's my little secret porridge ingredient, adding protein and a great consistency.

Scoop into bowls and enjoy. Add nuts, raisins, cream or butter. Enjoy!

Another recipe that I think is a fun use of pumpkin is in brownies or cake. You can replace the oil in any brownie or cake recipe with pumpkin and it is delicious. I am out of cocoa powder but have some Nestle Quick powder mix and found a recipe for brownies here. I changed that recipe to this one. It was a hit. In fact, I'm pretty sure we are eating this for dinner tonight. It's got whole grains and a vegetable so that's OK, right? :)

Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies
1 1/3 C Whole Wheat flour
1 Cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 C double chocolate-flavor Nestle Nesquik powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 Cup Pumpkin puree'
1/4 C water
2 large eggs

3/4 C Almonds
3/4 C Pecans

Mix well and pour into 9x13 baking dish. Pulverize the nuts in the blender or food processor and spread over top. Bake at 350ยบ for 25-30 minutes.

My kids devoured it.

What do you like to do with pumpkin? Any favorite recipes?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Give Thanks

I need to focus on giving thanks more often. All the time. Today in Relief Society a sister was talking about giving thanks with every breath we breathe and with every fiber of our being.

I love that.

I have moments of giving thanks. Every night at dinner we have been discussing things we are thankful for. Ulysses has been reminding me on nights that I forget (like tonight).

We have been discussing being thankful for things like our teeth, feet, each other, Jesus Christ, cars, Daddy, forks, thumbs and fingers, robots, imagination, school, warm houses, windows.

It is so fun to discuss why we are thankful for these things. It seems to bring an awareness of everyday objects in our world to my children. To me too.

I need to give thanks more often. I need to breathe thankfulness. Especially right now. Some days it is really hard to have Ben working so hard and away from home so frequently. It's not something I can really vocalize. I support him and want to encourage him to pursue the career that brings him so much joy and love that he has been able to support us. But sometimes I feel very alone living here in Utah. I am tired of struggling and miss the days of living in San Diego where we had health insurance, a beach within 10 minutes and friends and family so near. I have no beef against Utah. I just don't like that alone feeling.

I am thankful for the beautiful seasons in Utah. I enjoy that immensely. San Diego doesn't have that.

Today is one of those days. There is no particular reason. I just am having a hard time being patient, loving or even caring about things that need to be cared about. I'm sure its hormones. It'll pass. Whatever.

I want to print this image and put on a notebook. I am going to try to do that tomorrow. I was thinking that it would be a fun visiting teaching gift. Which is actually laughable since I am the world's least diligent visiting teacher. I could go off on a rant about visiting teaching but I will exercise restraint right now. Let's just say that I need to think really hard about it to find something to be thankful for.

Oh! I got it. I'm thankful for visiting teaching because it gave me a chance to make this notebook cover.

Ok. I have to stop typing because I keep deleting the things I am writing. I try not to complain to other people. Maybe by writing a blog post it will send my thoughts both written and unwritten off into the ethers of the Internet and I'll feel better. I better hit the publish button quickly!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook Early October

My Simple Woman's Daybook entry is inspired by this wonderful site.

FOR TODAY; October 6, 2010

Outside my window...
Is my weed ridden back yard. I would very much like to replace the weeds with grass in the near future. I had a contractor give my a bid but Ben thinks he can do the work for a whole lot less. I know he could, but will he? He's so busy. It's really hard for him to find time to do anything around the house.
I am thinking...
That I really need to find someplace to drop of Mag and Gar this afternoon. Uly has his appointment to get his cast on his broken arm and I don't want to bring all the kids. I am having a hard time finding someone. I could sure use Olea right about now! Oh well...
I am thankful for...
That Uly needs more fiber in his diet instead of an appendectomy. He woke up in major pain last night so I ended up taking him to the ER. Again. We did this back in December 2009. We thought it was probably the same thing, trapped gas, but there's always that slim chance that if you don't act then is turns out to be something serious. Grrrr. Three hours at the hospital in the middle of the night makes for a very tired momma!
From the learning rooms...
I am trying to fit Kindergarten worksheets into Gar's days. He loves doing them. I need to make them more of a priority. I am also trying to read with Uly more. He is such a good reader, it surprises me. I think he'll be reading chapter books by the end of the school year. I need to help him practice so we can reach that goal.
From the kitchen...
I was feeling bummed out yesterday morning so instead of doing something healthy or productive, I baked. I made a pumpkin spice cake. It was amazing. There is only a few pieces left. I can't do much with beef, chicken or pork, but I can sure spice up a cake!
I am wearing...
Sloppy pajama clothes. Ben's big In-n-Out t-shirt and some stretch pants. I am thinking I'll take a shower and get dressed here in a bit. I think I'll wear my maternity Gap jeans and one of the new blouses I bought at the Gap a few days ago. I'm a Gap billboard. I have to take in the shirts in the lower armscye and/or put a dart in the bust area. The fit is a little off but I think I can fix them so that they look OK and are comfortable still.
I am creating...
Halloween decorations. I have two ideas that I'm mulling around. A garland using halloween themes clip art from my new favorite graphics site, the Graphics Fairy. I also like these two ideas: Spirit Jugs and the House o'Lantern. Our house is set back from the road and I am thinking I need some kind of inviting project so that trick or treaters will know to come down our driveway. I also need to start thinking about and working on costumes for the kids.
I am going...
Today I am taking Uly to the orthopedic surgeon to get his cast on. This doctor seems to be much better than the one Gar and I went to. This is Dr. Callahan and he is actually doing something. Dr. MacArther didn't straighten Gar's arm and it is still a bit bent. He says that Gar will grow into it but I'm not sure. I feel like I paid a whole bunch of money for him to not do a thing.
I am reading...
Ulysses by James Joyce. After a while I feel like I finally got the hang of how it is written but it is still taking me a very long time to read. I am reading it in little nibbles. It's on my phone. I love being able to read books on my phone. It is very convenient. I really don't miss turning pages or holding the book. I love having my book with me at all times and not having to remember where an extra item is.
I am hoping...
That I can stay cheerful and happy with my kids today. I am also hoping I can find somewhere to dump my two craziest boys for a couple of hours. Maybe Kristina can help me. I hate to ask her. She has her hands full already. My babysitter girls are all busy tonight. Maybe my visiting teachers. I don't know. I wish my kids could just be well behaved so I didn't have to worry about this!
I am hearing...
Eva Marie grunting and making guttural noises at her fingers. She just sneezed. Cute little sneezes.
Around the house...
Things are mostly clean and mostly tidy. I feel like I'm doing a better job of being on top of that than I was. Some days are better than others.
The family room upstairs is littered in Kleenex. I don't want to see how bad it is. Mag grabbed a box of tissues and took it upstairs. Then he proceeded to pull many of them out and throw them around. He didn't make it through the whole box, thankfully.
One of my favorite things...
Is sitting on my bed and reading blogs that inspire me to make more projects. They also inspire me to blog more but I don't listen to that inspiration.
I have been thinking about blogging a lot lately. I loved working on MomShots but I can't make it fit into my life right now. It's kind of depressing. I had so many fantastic ideas for that site when I first started it but due to my lack of knowledge and lack of funds none of those ideas really got off the ground. Now there are other photography sites that have since sprung up that do exactly what I originally intended. It kind of leaves me feeling deflated and not inspired to work on MomShots. I really needed a partner for this project. I think it originally had a lot of potential. Now it's just tired. Another one of my projects uncompleted. Maybe it is complete. It is time to move on though, me thinks.
A few plans for the rest of the week:
Figure out some outfit for the kids to wear so I can take their picture for Christmas.
Work on Halloween costumes and decorations.
Get more exercise.
Smile more.
Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

I wish it were in more in focus. I really need to focus (pun intended) on that more.

Brotherly Love

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Four Months

Eva Marie is growing up so fast. She's laughing, cooing, grabbing her toes and is such a joy to our family. She is a fantastic sleeper and can actually sleep in her own bed (unlike some certain brothers of hers). She wakes up at night to be fed around 5 in the morning but goes right back to sleep and stays that way until about 9:30. She could not possibly be a better baby.









Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Handsome Boy...

He's my handsome boy.

He's the best husband I could ever have dreamed of. I sure love this guy!

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Simple Woman's Day Book: September 13, 2010

September 13, 2010.

Outside my window...
Is a wonderful view of the mountains of Pleasant Grove. I can see the G monument on Little Mountain. We climbed the mountain yesterday and almost made it all the way to the top. It was a lot of fun but kind of scary coming down.
I am thinking... About trying to be organized and motivated. Trying to find the time to create, rest, clean and give all my babies the attention and love they need.
I am thankful for... A husband who follows his dreams. I am thankful for happy children.
From the learning rooms... We need to begin our preschool activities. I am going to try to help Gar with one workbook page today, read Gar and Mag a story and go for an exploring walk.
From the kitchen... We ate a couple of delicious peaches and one super yummy pear for breakfast. Mag and I picked them off the ground as we walked home from taking Uly to the bus stop. I am thinking of trying to germinate the seeds and put them in pots. They have to sit in the fridge for a few months so I don't know if I will remember or if I will lose interest. But oh so yummy! Also, Gar and Mag were pretending that they were frogs. They each had a bowl of flies in milk for breakfast (coco pebbles). It was fun. I love the imagination in these little heads!
I am wearing... Comfy clothes; maternity knit pants that I cut off the extra waist fabric, a magenta t-shirt (that was a long sleeve shirt yesterday until I cut of the long sleeves) and a magenta and red striped hoodie sweater. My Chocos too.
I am creating... I have a list of sewing projects that I want to complete this week. It includes three skirts and an apron with matching pot holders. I copied the pattern of Olea's Korean apron and am making it out of an old cream with red paisleys sheet. I want to make matching pot holders and give them to Olea for a house warming present. I also want to make a Halloween wreath for my front door or wall. You take a picture frame, put some dried twigs in it and paint it all black. Then hang it with a black ribbon. I need to make it. I have been thinking about it for about two weeks.
I am reading... The Art of Homemaking by Daryl V. Hoole. So good! So inspirational. I need to buy my own copy of this book so I can give it back to my sister in law, Katie.
I am hoping... To lose a few more pounds by the end of the week. I am planning on running every day this week and also punching the bag and doing some other exercises every day, Monday through Friday. I am almost out of this pants size and would like to just hurry up and cross over the size threshold!
I am hearing... SuperWhy on PBS. It's a great kids show. I like it and Gar and Mag seem to like it too.
Around the house... The house is mostly in order. I need to go around and pick things up, do the dishes and take care of a mountain of clean clothes. I love washing clothes but HATE folding and putting them away. It's so tedious.
One of my favorite things... Is snuggling with my new baby. Babies are the best snugglers in the world. It also helps that they are so cute!
A few plans for the rest of the week... Sewing. Folding. Exercising.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing... These are pickles I made last week. I still need to figure out what to do with a giant zucchini I have. Should I make relish? Should I just grate up and freeze? Probably freeze. Maybe I will make half a batch of relish too. I don't know.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Business of Being a Stay at Home Mom

Sometimes it is really, really, really, really hard to get motivated to do any of the "mom" jobs around the house. All I want to do is hang out with these cuties.







Some days I just want to sell them to the gypsies. But not today! I just want to snuggle and ignore the laundry, ignore the fingerprints on the windows, ignore the smudges on the floor. Today is the best kind of stay at home mom day.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Bang! Bang! Bang!

This has been our current favorite family activity lately. Every spare moment that we have all together (which are very few as of late) we gather the kids and go out to the West side of Utah Lake and go shooting. One of our favorite things about living in Utah is the abundance of public land. You are never very far from public land in which you can camp or shoot. I just hope we can take advantage of that often.

Here are all the boys shooting the Mossburg 12 guage, with a little help from their dad.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Eva Marie Ann

Sunday the 18th, was the day that Ben gave Eva Marie Ann Stier her baby blessing. It was a beautifully warm summer day filled with many family and friends. We had a wonderful time celebrating this new little member of our family. Ben did a great job with the blessing (like usual - he's a pro!). Sacrament meeting was especially nice as well. There was a return missionary speaking and he had some really great things to say.

A few hi-lights from his talk were that people in Brazil use the word Blessing instead of how we use the word Luck. So instead of saying how lucky we are to have this wonderful new baby in our lives, I would say how blessed we are to have her in our lives. I really like this and am going to try to abolish the word Luck from my vocabulary and use Bless instead.

Another comment that he made was about the Plan of Salvation. He said that each of us has our own Plan of Salvation to return to our Heavenly Father. It is an individualized plan formulated for our individual needs and experiences. I liked how he put that because it really centers around the fact that Heavenly Father knows and loves each one of us individually.

After the great Sacrament Meeting we returned to our house and proceeded to eat a fantastic spread. BBQ pork, BBQ baked beans, coleslaw, rolls, smoked salmon, pasta salad, potato salad, pickled beets and cucumbers made by Aunt Pam and a few dessert breads. Then we had a super yummy carrot cake and homemade strawberry ice cream. So yummy!!!!!!! Everything was just delicious.

Here are a few photos of Eva Marie on her big day.

Eva Marie with Papa.

With Great Grandma Allen. It was such a blessing that she could be there for this special day. The circumstances of her being in Utah were not so happy as she was down for her sister's funeral but we were happy to have her with us on Sunday.

The little princess in her beautiful dress.

With me.

Hanging with daddy.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Diet Schmiet!

Making this delicious coffee cake with Number 1 Helper, Magnus and enjoying gobbling it up with all my boys was a whole lot more fun than sticking to my diet.

Since I can't just cook a recipe the way it is written out, I had to add a bit of quick cooking oats an extra egg and a 1/2 Cup of dry milk. Next time I make it, I want to add a dollop (maybe 1/4 Cup) of applesauce. It was a tiny bit on the dry side. Just a tiny bit. But oh so yummy!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Summer Fun

This is a double post since I just put these up on MomShots. These are some photos from the past couple of weeks. They include a couple from the 4th (actually the 3rd this year in Utah), the Pleasant Grove carnival in celebration of Strawberry Days and a little cookie making extravaganza.





Monday, July 05, 2010

3rd of July

We live in Utah. No surprise there.

In Utah when a holiday like the 4th of July or Halloween fall on a Sunday then the community celebrates it on the Saturday before. It is kind of fun because then you get an entire weekend of festivities.

That was my surprise.

Ben has been working so hard on all of his projects that we couldn't get away to go up to my family Walker family reunion this year (which we celebrate over the 4th weekend) so we stayed close to home and had a fun little time. We went to Ben and Kristina's house for a little BBQ. Sarah and Kala'i were there with there kids too.

Good food. Good folks. Good fun.

After eating, we all left their house and found an empty parking lot behind the Highland high school to put on our own mini pyrotechnics display. They kids loved it. They thought they were in heaven.

My favorite picture of the night was this one of Gar holding a California Candle. That's like a Roman Candle except it doesn't shoot out balls of fire it just emits a nice shower of sparks. Unfortunately it is slightly out of focus. Oh well. Squint your eyes and it looks like it is supposed to be that way!

More out of focus shots, this one is of Uly. The sky is in focus though...

The crazy beautiful sherbet colored sunset.

Uly wearing the flag t-shirt he painted that day:

Uly & Eva Marie all dressed up for the 4th of July:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Marshall-Latu Family Pictures

Here are a few of my favorites from a portrait session I got to do a few weeks back for the Marshall and Latu families. I had so much fun shooting this group. My favorites ended up being shots of the kids. Go figure! MomShots to the core!

Thanks for giving me the chance to shoot you all!

Please ignore the giant watermark. I have never used one before and I am in the midst of a learning curve! :)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Lavender - Her first scoot

Lavender was sitting on the floor next to my dining table and suddenly she was under the table. She scooted backwards. It was very exciting!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010