Saturday, July 30, 2011

A little motivation



Sometimes we all need a little extra motivation in the exercise department.  I needed a little reminder of the benefits of exercise, so I decided to share what I found here.  I checked out the top ten facts about exercise over at Webmd. Pretty interesting stuff. It should help keep me going another year.

1. Get a boost in brain power. Who doesn't need that?
2. Melt away stress. Another thing most of us could probably use. And it's 100% natural!
3. Release more endorphins into your system and feel more energized the rest of the day. Amen.
4. Making time isn't THAT hard. Squeezing your workouts in in two or three 15-20 minute chunks works as well as doing an hour at once.
5. Fitness can help build your relationships with others. I agree with that. Exercise is much more fun when I do it with my husband. My husband and oldest daughter are training for a half-marathon together too. (I wish I could join them but I have knee problems. That's a story for another post!)
6. Stay healthier. Exercise helps ward off disease. It also helps make the aging process easier.
7. Exercise makes your heart stronger. When it is stronger, it pumps more blood per beat, so that your resting heart rate will be lower.
8. If you exercise you can eat more. :)
9. Exercise boosts your performance in many other areas of life. It will increase balance, flexibility and strength. My balance is MUCH better than it was a year ago. I know that for a fact.
10. Be healthier overall...weight loss isn't the only benefit of regular exercise.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Bye, bye July


July is in it's sunset, and I can't hardly believe it.

June seemed to crawl by...a month of rain, rain, and even more rain. Then the clouds left, the heat came on, and July was here. Several barbecues, fireworks displays, swim times and parades later, July is almost over. That means one thing: school.

Nicole will soon be going back to college. The other five will be going back to their high school, junior high, and elementary schools. I will be left alone all day. Except for two dogs. Yeah. Sigh.

Why does summer have to go by so fast?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"And then I knew I was a mom"


I saw this video over at CJane Enjoy It, and it's awesome. I defy you to watch it and not cry. I think it's pretty much impossible.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sarah's 12th Birthday

At our house, 12 is when girls get to start shaving their legs. Sarah has been really excited for this!
This was seriously Sarah saying, "Stop taking pictures Mom!"
Sarah is a shoe girl. :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

A tale of two cakes

My tale starts with these two girls: Sarah, who is turning 12 in two days, and Libby who turned 7 a week ago. They are alike in a lot of ways. They both were born in July, they both have hazel eyes (everyone else has blue), and they are both left-handed. We celebrated both of their birthdays last night with the family, and we served two different cakes: Strawberry-Lime Cream Cake from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, and a tie-dye cake. The idea for the tie-dye cake came from Shawni at 71toes. Nicole loved the tie-dye idea, and this was actually the second one she made.

Here's a shot of the Strawberry-Lime confection. This is what it looked like with the layers put together with the lime cream and strawberry sauce.


Here's a shot with Libby's birthdays candles in it:


Here's the tie-dye cake just out of the oven:


Here's a shot of the tie-dye cake with Sarah's matching birthday candles in it. No one knew what was inside til we cut it. We called it "surprise cake."



The trick for making a tie-dye cake is really pretty easy. Start with a white cake mix and mix it up according to package directions. We used gel food colors in bright neons: pink, green, orange and purple. Separate the cake batter into 4 bowls and color each a different color. Then just spoon the colors into each of two 9-inch cake pans. Don't stir it together. Bake and this is what you get. **Be sure and use white cake and neons for the most vivid colors. Nicole tried it with yellow cake and regular colors, and it wasn't as pretty.**



We frosted both cakes with the whipped cream frosting in the Strawberry-Lime Cream Cake recipe.



Everyone thought the tie-dye cake was really awesome, especially the kids. We all thought the Strawberry-Lime cake was delicious. So good!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Handcart Days 2011

"Mom! We're at a PARADE!"

A float I thought was cute...can't remember now what it was supposed to be.



Our Stake float. My hubby was in charge of getting it built and getting it to two different parades.


I think he and all his helpers did a great job!


My Amelia and Libby are in the center of the picture in khaki shorts.


My cuties. They walked almost 2 miles in 93 degree heat. Way to go, girls!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cornbread and Honey Butter



I found these recipes over at Mel's Kitchen Cafe, and they are both the best cornbread and the best honey butter I have tried. I adapted the cornbread recipe slightly, and also found that it took less time to bake in my oven. The honey butter recipe I cut in half, and there was plenty for our family of 8. We've been eating the leftover on toast this morning. :)


Cornbread
--adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 c. self-rising flour
2/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. canola oil
3 T. butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 c. milk

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk cornmeal, flour and sugar together and form a well in the center. Add oil, butter, eggs and milk. Whisk together until all flour mixture is moistened. Bake in a greased (bottom only) 9 inch square baking pan for 30 minutes, or until a pick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. You can double this recipe for a 9x13 pan.

(The BEST) Honey Butter
--from Mel's Kitchen Cafe (halved recipe)

1 stick of butter, softened
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. marshmallow fluff

Whip all ingredients together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Serve.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Got greens?


We worked in the garden last night, weeding and then harvesting some good stuff that's managed to thrive out there. Up top is lemon basil. It really smells awesome! Like basil, but with a definite lemon addition. According to The Tasteful Garden, you should remove the flowers frequently to encourage more leaf growth. When you harvest the leaves, cut of the top third of the branches. Never cut off more than that so that the plant can recover from it. I think lemon basil would make great pesto sauce!

Bright Lights Swiss Chard. Beautiful!

The Bright Lights Swiss Chard we planted has really done great. It looks so pretty, with the bright red, orange, and yellow stalks against the green leaves. This is the first year that we've grown it. Thanks to Bountiful Baskets I even know it exists. Here's what I like to do with Swiss Chard:
  • Wash the leaves and stalks. Cut the stalks off and slice them about 1/2 inch thick.
  • Roll the leaves together and then cut into ribbons with a sharp knife.
  • Heat 1-2 T. of olive oil in a frying pan. Add 1-2 cloves of fresh minced garlic. Heat til fragrant.
  • Throw in the sliced stalks. Cook for about 5 minutes, or til they are softened.
  • Throw in the leaves. Cook until wilted and softened. Season with sea salt and black pepper.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Kids vs. Dogs

My kids may be growing up faster than I'd like (see yesterday's post), but at least they are not the dog. Check out our yellow Lab Duke at the end of January at 8 weeks old:

And this is Duke now, at 8 months old!


In both pics, he is next to Jared, who has grown maybe an inch or two since January. So my kids may be getting older and bigger, but Duke has them beat. At least for this year.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Libby!!


Well, I don't know how, but it happened. My baby is 7!
Here's how her day is going down:
She woke up to this poster created by Sarah and Amelia
hanging in her room. It's complete with 4 ring pops (so she can share, of course).
She climbed into Mom and Dad's bed for cuddling (a weekend ritual)
and then opened her gifts: a new dress, sandals, and a kit to make
her own fairy tale book all about herself. :)
Each of the birthday kids in our house
get to go out to lunch with Mom (and Dad if he's around).
Today being Sunday, she and I will go out to lunch tomorrow. Her choice.
That means I probably have to eat Wendy's.
Tonight's menu is also up to Libby.
She chose none other than hot dogs, 
"egg salad" and melon, followed by cupcakes and ice cream!
"Egg salad" to Libby is actually potato salad, no matter 
how many times I try to explain the difference. Oh well. It's cute.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The return of the pioneers


 Jake and Jared went on a 4 day pioneer trek in Wyoming.
They had a great time! This is how they looked when they returned today. A little worn out, but still in one piece. Jared took great care of his diabetes while he was gone, and he had no problems at all. In spite of pushing handcarts for miles and miles, he didn't even get low blood sugar until they were coming home on the bus. It's really quite amazing. I think we can add that to our own list of miracles. See the 17 Miracles post.
I'm very, very GRATEFUL! Grateful that Jared had no problems. Grateful that both of them stayed healthy. Grateful that Jake's Ma and Pa said he was "a hard worker." Grateful that Jared's Ma and Pa said he is "an awesome kid." They also said that Jake would come to their camp in the evenings to check on his little brother Jared and make sure he was okay. Awww! (Yes, I teared up when I heard that). So awesome! Grateful for both of their Pas and Mas looking out for them. I'm grateful for both of my boys. And grateful that they had such a wonderful opportunity.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Book Review: Matched



I just finished this book, and I recommend it. What a great read! If you need an interesting, thought-provoking page turner, get hold of this book. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, you will probably enjoy Matched. What I consider to be a bonus: Matched does not have the violence that The Hunger Games does.

What would it be like to live in the Society, a place where no one gets to choose for themselves? The Society in which Cassia Reyes lives, some years in the future, is a place where your every day is scripted for you. Where you work, where you live, who you marry (or are "matched" with), even what you eat. Meals are delivered right to your home or workplace; meals that are predetermined and balanced with just the right nutrients by the Officials of the Society. The Officials even determine when you die: on your 80th birthday, not a day sooner or later. But how do they accomplish this? Could it have something to do with the fact that the elderly are not allowed to share their food with anyone? Could it be poisoned?

Read Matched to find out what happens when Cassia falls in love with someone who is not her Match and begins to wonder about the Society and its Officials, and just what is really going on.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hair, part two

Earlier on this blog, I talked about changing my hair. Well, I didn't change it enough. Today I did what I always do sooner or later, and that's chop it all off. It's so much easier and feels so much lighter for summer. I have about 10 heads worth of hair, and the longer it gets, the harder it is to deal with.

I think that when I die, my children will make a video presentation of me and title it, "The many hairstyles of Mom." That would sum it all up pretty nicely.

**Note to my kids: leave out the early 90's hair or I will haunt you!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Happiness Is....

                                                             Being with people you love.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A zoo

I title this shot, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

Saturday, we went to the zoo with our family. It WAS a zoo...in more ways than one! It was also fun. Thanks, guys! We'll have to do it again soon.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

17 Miracles


I've seen this movie twice now, and it is wonderful! I cried even more the second time. It's a must see.

**If it isn't showing near you, just visit www.17miracles.com to request it!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The daylilies that didn't

Didn't make it, that is. And I'll show you why.
This:
 and this:

SHOULD look like these:



Aren't they so beautiful? I just LOVE daylilies.

The reason why the stubby ones (and unfortunately there a lot more stubby ones I didn't take pictures of) are stubby is because of this and his buddies:
I'll tell you a secret: my hubby swears he can take care of it.
I believe him. The only problem is hunting is illegal in the city.
I need to figure out some other way to keep them from chowing down on my daylilies!



Thursday, July 7, 2011

Questions

How does a mother have her child missing for over 30 days and NOT report it? If she knew her child was dead, how could a mother spend time partying and carrying on as if nothing had happened? How does a little girl supposedly drown in the family pool, and then turn in up in a swamp? Why and how could this happen?

I can't even imagine.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Life


This sign hangs on the wall above where I sit here at the computer each day.
Sometimes I look at it and think, "Boy, it really can't."
Other times I think, "Boy, it better!"
(Not sure yet how today will shape up :)
But it does remind me that my life is pretty darn good--
In spite of all the problems--some big, some little--that we deal with every day.
Life is good.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Homemade Raspberry Ice Cream

I don't know about you, but it just isn't Independence Day/weekend around here without making some homemade ice cream. That's just the way it is. Sunday I whipped up some raspberry ice cream that turned out really delicious. Everyone loved it...and there were no leftovers!

I am lucky enough to have a Cuisinart ice cream maker that makes ice cream easily on the counter top with no ice or salt needed. It's one of the best gifts we've been given (thanks, Dad!). Sometimes I wish I had a second one for times when I have family coming over and I'd like to make enough for all.

Here's the ice cream recipe:

Raspberry Ice Cream

1 pint whipping cream
1 pint fat-free half & half
1 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. lemon extract--the lemon adds depth to the raspberry flavor
1 c. raspberry fruit spread--I used this that I found at Costco. It tastes like fresh, crushed raspberries. So good!

(This stuff is really good on toast, too!)

Stir together the cream, half & half and sugar. Whisk until the sugar dissolves. Stir in extracts. Whisk in the raspberry fruit spread. Freeze in ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer's directions. Recipe makes about 1/2 gallon--just enough for our family of 8 to devour!