Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Paper flowers

Nicole and I made these for a birthday gift. It was our first time making them, and I think they turned out really cute. (Of course, we used Stampin' Up designer papers). Just cut the papers in varying sized circles. Then cut each circle in a spiral. Roll the paper tightly like you would roll it into a cone, and hot glue the bottom to hold its shape. Attach to green floral wire with more hot glue. Use a heavy wire for the most support. Arrange in a vase!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

He'll be there

With bells on!
Molly has red and green toenails (see my previous post)
so Jared decided that Duke needed some holiday embellishment too. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas at our house

After Santa did his work. :)

 Nicole's present for her Dad. She swaddled that thing in newspaper, bubble wrap, and lots & lots of packing tape! It wasn't easy to open, and I guess that was the idea. :)

 It turned out to be this pic from their half marathon framed with Jeff's medal.

 Me, with all my gifts. I couldn't believe how many there were! My family wanted to be fun and wrapped every little thing separately. I felt bad because I had more to open than anyone else, but it was fun.

 The doggies waiting for their holiday doggie biscuits. Let's face it, they wouldn't be sitting like this just for the camera!


 The sweetest little card ever. Libby wrote, "Dear Mom and Dad, You are the best parentse in  the wide wrolde. I love you so much. You help me a lote. That is wia I love you. You mack me happy. Love, Libby."

The traditional English trifle! (My hubby served a two year mission for our church there way back in the day). This year I used raspberries & bananas. Don't even think it lasted more than one day. It never does. :)

Friday, December 16, 2011


Jeff came home with delicious gingerbread cookies, stamped with Stampin' Up's cookie stamps, and made by none other than the CEO and her executive group for every employee. There were 4 cookies (one was eaten by yours truly), and the employees are not few in number. This was also just the "least" of the things done for employees at Christmas, although making thousands of cookies was A LOT of work. What an amazing place for Jeff to work. So grateful.

Libby made this card at school. You can see who we root for in this house. :)

 That is cream on the top of my 25-calorie hot chocolate, baby. I know it sounds a lot like people who go to McDonald's and order diet coke with their heart attack on a tray, but I don't do that. I only put cream on my 25-calorie hot chocolate at Christmas time. :)

Dangerous to have around the house. Dangerous. Good thing it isn't for me. :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Geography Bee!

This cute little gal was in her school geography bee this morning! She didn't win, but she still deserves to be commended for getting there. She was one of only two 4th graders in the bee! The other eight children were all 5th and 6th graders. Those were some tough questions, too...even for parents! :)

Congrats to Amelia for winning her class geography bee and getting to participate at the school level!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Feliz Navidad!

I do actually speak a little Spanish. A little. In college I took several semesters of it, enough that I could've minored in it if only I'd done the paperwork. My problem is I can understand a lot more of it than I can speak, so I didn't complete the minor. I wish I had, but oh well. At least I can help my kids with Spanish homework. :)

I have Michael Buble's new Christmas Album, and I LOVE it! One of my very favorites is his duet with Latin Grammy winner, Thalia. They performed their duet the other night on Buble's Christmas show. Enjoy! and Feliz Navidad!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

How I got my groove on--or in other words, how I {FINALLY} caught the Christmas spirit

Nativity from Mexico.

It was the nutcrackers that did it to me.

I was suffering from a pretty serious case of the ho opposed to the bah humbugs, which is totally Scroogey. I wasn't totally Scroogey, just in a wishy-washy funk.

{Hope that made sense}

The kids were the ones to set up AND decorate the tree. (Which was kinda nice. I may have them do it next year, too).

Jeff was the one who made the framed art of Santa's sleigh. To make your own, visit Stampin' Up and look at the Decor Elements collection. He simply painted a second-hand frame, mounted the vinyl cut out on the glass, and mounted the glass into the frame with silicone so that it needs no back to hold it in. 

After all that, I set up the nativity scenes, which helped, but it was the nutcrackers that did it.

The nutcrackers that Jeff and I have been collecting since our very first Christmas together. Setting them up, remembering when we got them, looking at the ones that were painted by Jeff's mom and remembering her and how much she loved Christmas time.

I finally caught the Christmas spirit. I really needed it. Here's to nutcrackers!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Checking in

Hey, everyone. How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was great!....except for the fact that my coconut cream pie didn't set up, and the meringue on my lemon meringue shrank. What can you do? Well, I can promise coconut cream pie that it won't beat me yet. I will make it again, and it WILL SET UP. I will win the next round. :)

The Food Nanny experiment has been going along splendidly. I've decided that the best thing about it is that I have not had to start scrambling every afternoon to figure out what I'm going to cook for dinner. It's already decided, and that has been GREAT! Except for Thanksgiving leftovers we enjoyed, I have stuck to my menu plan and the recipes have all been tasty. Since I last checked in, I've made Potato Cheese Soup and  Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu. Both were delicious.

For the soup, you peel and chop the potatoes and cook them in chicken broth. When they have softened, slightly mash them and add sliced green onion, salt & pepper. Melt in some cream cheese and shredded cheddar cheese, and some crumbled bacon is optional. I added the bacon so I recommend doing that.  I liked it better than the slow cooker version I usually do, and it was easy to put together.

For the Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu, I cheated a little. :) I used Mel's method from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. Instead of pounding the chicken breasts and rolling them up with the ham and cheese inside, Mel's recipe calls for cutting the chicken in breasts in half width-wise, then just covering them with the ham, cheese, and buttered bread crumbs. I considered this method to be easier so that's how I did it. It was so tasty! My family all loves chicken cordon bleu, so this recipe was a hit.

You can find all the Food Nanny recipes at

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Mia!!

Our little Amelia turns 10 today...can't even believe it! She's growing up so fast. In the pic above, she's opening her first gift from us: 3 tickets to Centerpoint Theater's production of A Christmas Carol! Jeff and I will be taking her to see it Friday night. She LOVES theater, so she can't wait!
Her next gift was one of those things that almost literally jumps out at you at the store and you know your intended recipient HAS to have it. This red dress coat is adorable on her and she was thrilled!
Here she is in the red coat. It looks as good as I pictured when I bought it.
When the family came over to celebrate with us last Sunday, Mia was lucky enough to get a total of $75 to go shopping with! So this morning, she asked to go out to breakfast at Einstein Bros Bagels (instead of the lunch we usually do), and then we went shopping--Mia, her dad, and me. She bought this little cardigan, ruffled shirt, skirt and headband at Seagull Book. This is part of a new line they are carrying called Sweet Pea. So cute!
She also bought this black shirt, a white cami underneath, and then we went to Walmart for the black shoes.  Thanks to all our family who made these cute outfits possible!  She's extremely happy with all she was able to get. Happy Birthday, Mia!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

So far, so good

Well, so far in my Food Nanny experiment, I have made Chicken Shawarma, Traditional Beef Pot Roast, Fired Up Macaroni & Cheese, and Navajo Tacos.

First up: Chicken Shawarma. Pieces of chicken breast are cooked in a mixture of olive oil, curry powder and cumin and then served in a pita with hummus, a yummy sauce made with greek yogurt, and lettuce, tomato and cucumber. It was quite tasty and everyone liked the flavor of the chicken a lot. The only thing I would do differently is use plain hummus. I already had some sun dried tomato hummus on hand so I used that rather than buy more. It was okay, but didn't go as well with the chicken as I think plain hummus would.

Next up: Traditional Beef Pot Roast. This is pretty self-explanatory. Coat a 3-4 pound chuck roast with a mixture of flour, garlic powder, salt & pepper and then brown it in olive oil. To the pot add quartered onion, chunks of sweet potato, quartered red potatoes, and carrots. I used a bag of baby carrots instead of peeling and cutting regular carrots. Pour in a cup of beef broth and roast at 275 degrees for 5 hours, or 3 hours at 325. It was delicious, the roast was tender, and the vegetables tasted great! I made gravy from the pan drippings, and my only complaint is that it only made a cup of gravy. Next time, I will add more beef broth to the pan to get more gravy. I cooked an acorn squash to go along with our meal, so I felt pretty good about the health factor with all the vegetables.

Fired Up Macaroni & Cheese! Yummy. I have a good macaroni and cheese recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, and was tempted to substitute it, but decided to try the new one. Food Nanny's recipe has a topping of buttered bread crumbs and it really added something to the dish. My boys said it's their favorite macaroni and cheese now. That's a ringing endorsement, lemme tell you!

Tonight we enjoyed the Navajo Tacos. I made the fry bread from Rhodes Texas rolls and it couldn't have been easier. Just heat your favorite chili and set out grated cheese, sliced olives, chopped tomato, sour cream, salsa and lettuce to top them with. Everyone was happy, so this is another winner. It's a plus in the health department because the family is eating beans!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Food Nanny experiment

We could also call this post, "Shopping with a plan." And it works. I bought all of the above groceries using store deals and coupons, after planning out two weeks of menus at The Food Nanny's website. I've seen her show just a couple of times, and as I thought about how well I need to plan my grocery shopping (because let's face it, prices don't seem to be going down!) I figured I'd give the Food Nanny a shot.

I went to her site last night, planned & printed the menus and then printed the shopping list. I had to go over the shopping list and x out everything that I already have in my pantry--which took off quite a number of things to buy--and then I wrote up my list for today's shopping.

It was a pretty darn successful shopping day, lemme tell you. I got everything in the pics above for just over $100. Admittedly, that doesn't count the chicken I needed--I like to get that at Costco. So add another $15 bucks. But it DOES include a turkey and other extras for Thanksgiving. Add another $25 for the Bountiful Basket I'm picking up tomorrow, with an extra pack of winter squash included, and we're still doing well. This is a family of 7, with two teenage boys, so we're doing especially well!

So the menu planning and shopping with the Food Nanny went well--the next test is the recipes themselves. I will post during the next couple of weeks and let you know which recipes worked...and which didn't. Hopefully they will all work, but I've learned not to hold my breath around here.

**Note: I have no affiliation with The Food Nanny whatsoever and I am not receiving any kind of payment for doing this. This is just me trying something new and letting you know what happens.**

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Orange Sweet Rolls

Here's another recipe from Mel at Mel's Kitchen Cafe. And it is another winner!
Click the link for the recipe. The only changes I made were that instead of
orange juice, I used orange juice concentrate, both in the filling & in the icing.
I also left out the orange zest and thought about adding orange extract,
but I didn't, and it was okay. They had great orange flavor just as they were.
The next day they get a little crusty on the outside
even if they're covered, which I think is great.
If you don't like them that way, just nuke them in the microwave for 20 seconds.
In my defense, there are 6 other people living in this house (it's a good thing, too!) so I only had one. Really!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Book Review: The Lantern

This last week, I finished reading The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson. If you like suspenseful ghost stories, you will like this book.

The story centers around Eve, a modern day version of the protagonist in Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca, which is one of my very favorite novels of all time--I've read it over and over. (Rebecca was also made into a movie by none other than Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense). The Lantern is very reminiscent of Rebecca, although I did not enjoy it quite as much as Rebecca.

I find it interesting that in Rebecca, the heroine remains nameless, while in The Lantern, the heroine has the name of Eve, who was of course the first woman in the Bible. Eve's story in The Lantern is juxtaposed with the story of Benedicte, a Frenchwoman, and her family, including her sister Marthe Lincel, a blind perfumer.

The story of the two women is woven together well, and I found myself at many points being unable to put the book down. The book is also reminiscent of Hitchcock's movie Suspicion, in which the wife (Joan Fontaine--love her!) is afraid that her husband (Cary Grant--happy sigh) is trying to kill her.

I don't want to give too much away, so just know that if you're looking for a good, suspenseful novel, look no further than The Lantern.

**I will definitely be reading Rebecca again soon, as well as watching Hitchcock's movie version of it, which is chilling. If you haven't read or watched Rebecca, you should!**

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Things I'm grateful for. (In no particular order)

1. My life.

2. My health and sanity. (The sanity is relative, but it's there most of the time).

3. My husband. I could not have been more blessed!

4. My children. Ditto! (Would you guys just clean your rooms? That's all I ask).

5. Dogs. A house without dogs just isn't the same....and they give you unconditional love!

6. A home that's warm, dry and safe.

7. The ability to choose. Freedom.

8. My testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

9. Prayer, the scriptures, and a prophet to guide us.

10. Family, friends, loved ones.

11. Electricity. Heat. Clean, running water. Not everyone has it.

12. Nature and all the beauty around us if we just look.

13. Books.

14. Chocolate. (#14? Proof that this list is in no particular order).

15. My piano.

16. Food. And the ability to walk into any grocery store here and choose from thousands of items.

17. Dirty Dishes. Noisy children. Piles of laundry. See below.

What are you grateful for?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It's a pretty life.

It's anonymous.

And pretty clever, too, I think.

It's a blog: The Pretty Life Anonymous, and it's awesome. You should seriously check it out.

They are having a giveaway right now, for custom Christmas cards from Kourtnee Fisher Designs. I entered, and you should, too!

Speaking of a pretty life, I am blessed with some pretty daughters. Four of them! Here is a lovely picture of the three youngest, taken by the oldest, who happens to be quite talented with a camera.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

first real snow of the season

The first (measurable) snow of the season means this:
  • Christmas music played in the house today
  • Pumpkin muffins will be baking tonight
  • Hot chocolate will be enjoyed with the muffins
  • the fireplace will be on!
I like the snow until the novelty wears off....which happens to coincide with the first of the new year. I don't think that's a coincidence... snow isn't as much fun after the holidays are over, unless you're a kid with a sled and you live on a hill.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Fun

 Mia in the school parade.

 Libby & her best friend after the school parade.

 Mia's school class. Mia is in the center.
 Libby all ready for trick-or-treating.

 Libby, REALLY ready for trick-or-treating!

 Mia ready for trick-or-treating, and showing off her pumpkin.

Can't believe that out of six kids, only the last two were trick-or-treating this year!
Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Save some calories and drink your pumpkin pie

Because that's what this stuff tastes like. Sooo good!
Let's see. A little comparison here.
An 8th of a homemade 9"pumpkin pie?  316 calories and 14 grams of fat.
A cup of this hot cocoa? ONLY 150 calories and 3 grams of fat.
I could totally drink this instead of eating pie on Thanksgiving.
You might think I'm kidding, but I'm not. I really could.
Speaking of pumpkin:
A can of that stuff actually costs more than $3 this year.
I have one thing to say about that.
And there better be some good sales coming up.
(I think I might cook up and puree my red pumpkins and see what happens...)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Who put the jack in jack-o-lantern?

It was the annual carving o' the jack-o-lanterns Monday night. As always, cleaning out the pumpkins was not the most fun part of the evening, but it was still fun. Here are the results:

Mia painted this one at an activity she went to. Notice the reflection of the backside of the pumpkin. You can see she's been taught well. ;)

 This is Jared's masterpiece. He worked a while on it and did a great job!

 Mia's...the classic barfing pumpkin. Just what I like to see. 

 Libby's...of course done with help from daddy.

 I think Jeff puts the Jack in jack-o-lantern every year.

 Scarface. The best thing about it is the stem!

Jake has also been taught well!

We also did some leaf idea I saw over at Or So She Says.  It was really fun, especially for my 3 younger girls. Jeff also got in on the action! Here's a shot of the waxed leaves. They can be strung into a garland or put in a glass vase or strewn on the Thanksgiving table, or any other use you can think of.