Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Spitrs" by Libby

I am a professional writer, and I think I have a kid who could follow in my footsteps.

This is a story Libby wrote at the beginning of the school year, which just came home today. I love it! It depicts Libby and her best friend, Hadley, and a big fat spider. Here's the translation:

I am scared of spiders because they are huge and yuck they look disgusting too and gross and scary and Big. 

That's pretty much how I feel about spiders too. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kix: dog tested, dog approved.

We walked into the kitchen after being outside, and this is what we found. Duke must like Kix.

**Note: No dogs were harmed in the snapping of this pic. And Duke truly did this to himself. :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Crazy hair day!

Hurray for last-week-of-school fun! Today is crazy hair day. You can tell Libby & Mia are pretty excited about it. Mia made her bangs into "a sunshade." They are also pretty happy to be wearing their new Old Navy shirts that their big sister bought for them yesterday...just because. Lucky!

I get to have a hair day today too, but not crazy. This is go-to-the-salon day for me. Good bye, grays. Ooooooooh yeeeeeaaaaahhhhh. :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

On to high school!

Jared graduated from junior high last night. I still can't believe he's going to be in high school next year!

I was thinking about his time in junior high, and I realized that not one time, NOT ONE TIME, has he had to call me from school with a problem for his diabetes. THAT is simply amazing. And such a blessing, too! Let's hope this streak lasts through high school.

He got awards for having honors citizenship and good grades. Good job, Jared! So proud of you!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Keep your head up

Optimism is better than pessimism any day.

I am usually optimistic, but it isn't always easy. This morning as I drove on my errands, I heard this song on the radio and it reminded me how vital optimism is in life. It goes hand-in-hand with hope. Things are usually not as bad as they seem. This is what I really believe.

I just can't let my hair down, though. It's too short for that. :)

**Video is Andy Grammer singing an acoustic (no doctoring or computerizing here) version of Keep Your Head Up. I think his voice is amazing.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Note to self: you are not forgotten!

The last Mother's Day was hard for me.

It never used to be, but for some reason, as my children have gotten older--and thus more mentally & emotionally challenging--I didn't feel worthy of celebrating. I'm not the mother I want to be, but I'm trying. I'm trying every day to do better, but some days just STINK. Some days I wish I could have a total do-over!

My two oldest brightened my day yesterday by getting me early gifts. Nicole knows me too well, so she went in search of Forget-Me-Nots and found some. In a minute I'll show you why I love them, aside from the fact that they are just so little and cute.

 Jake also knows me. Remember how I hate the deer eating my tulips? They can't eat these. Love the purple one. It's my favorite.

Forget-Me-Nots are special to me because of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 2nd Counselor in the LDS church First Presidency. He is the favorite speaker of many people I know. How could he not be? He is awesome! Watch this and you will see what I mean. This particular talk was a great reminder to women that we are not forgotten. Trust me when I say that I have really needed his message this week. I hope it helps you, too!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Got grays?

I do. This is another truth in blogging moment right here.
Ever wondered if any of those drugstore-available hair dyes work, and how well? I have. I usually get my color done at the salon (thank you, Hair Genius!) but if I color the whole thing, it gets annoying having to deal with regrowth in 4 weeks. It also adds up, even if you happen to be getting a family rate on your visits. :) So I have been toying with the idea of coloring at home. Not sure if I'll do it, but I like being armed with good information.

Anyway, I subscribe to Good Housekeeping magazine. (Love it). Awhile back, they had an article on at-home hair color and tested many different brands for gray coverage, shine, fade resistance, etc. I found it to be very helpful information and thought I'd share. Because you never know when you might have a hair emergency.

The best color for all shades?

None other than Clairol Natural Instincts, especially the red and brown shades. The blonde did not cover grays quite as well, so be aware of that.

The runner up?

L'Oreal ColorSpa Moisture Actif in Chestnut Reddish Brown. The brown and blonde colors had high gloss, but didn't cover grays as well.

Best color for brunettes?

Revlon Colorsilk in Dark Brown. Perfect scores on all GH tests!

Best color for redheads?

Also Colorsilk, in Burgundy.

Best color for blondes (like me)?

It was a tie for this one. Clairol Nice n' Easy in Natural Dark Neutral Blonde and Revlon Colorsilk in Ultra Light Natural Blonde, although testers said Colorsilk had a "strong chemical smell." If you have an aversion to chemical smells, watch that one.

To read the GH article, go here.

Got a color you've tried and liked? Please leave a comment.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Stars & Interruptions

I've talked about the fact that my hubby works for Stampin' Up. (If you've never heard of them, you can check them out here.)

Before he started this job, I never thought of making my own cards--except to print out something generic from the internet. But Jeff keeps me supplied with lots of good stuff, so why not? I am not a scrapbooking enthusiast (why? that's probably an answer for another post) but card making I can do.

I've done quite a few cards now, but didn't even take a pic. I wish I had just so I could remember them and duplicate them again if I wanted to. This is the first card I've recorded for posterity. :)

Stampin Up has all kinds of pre-cut cards (just the basic folded paper) with matching sized envelopes. The green card is one of those. I embellished with pre-cut stars, attaching the three larger stars with double sided sticky foam. Then I stuck the three smaller sized stars in the larger ones' middles. All the stars come with self-stick backs, so this was really easy to do. The "HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY..." border is also self-stick. This card needed to be masculine--otherwise I would have feminized it up with some buttons or ribbon or something. :)

On another note, check out this post over at 320 Sycamore. One of my favorite bloggers wrote about some of the things she has learned from being a mother, and it's really worth reading. It includes the following quote:

"When you are exasperated by interruptions, try to remember that their very frequency may indicate the value of your life. Only people who are full of help and strength are burdened by other persons' needs. The interruptions which we chafe at are the credentials of our indispensability. The greatest condemnation that anybody could incur - and it is a danger to guard against - is to be so independent, so unhelpful, that nobody ever interrupts us, and we are left comfortably alone." ~Anonymous, from the Anglican Digest

I love that!

Have a happy day with at least one interruption.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Buttery, butterscotchy goodness!

Okay, people. I may have just made "butterscotchy" a word. This is my blog, so I'm doing it. Besides, it fits these cookies perfectly.

If you love butterscotch or Blondies or browned butter flavors, you need to make these cookies. I found the  recipe over at Mel's Kitchen Cafe--my favorite recipe blog. Pretty much ever. But if you've been reading my blog for very long, you already know that. The original recipe came from America's Test Kitchen, which also makes it a winner in my book.

By the way, if you like the browned butter flavor in these cookies, check out Mel's recipe for The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies, located under "The Best Recipe" tab. That recipe also starts by browning the butter. Add chocolate chips to that and you have a serious temptation in your kitchen!

Brown Sugar Crackle Cookies
adapted from America's Test Kitchen, via Mel's Kitchen Cafe

14 tablespoons butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (about 1 3/4 ounces)
2 cups packed dark brown sugar (14 ounces), divided
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons (about 10 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Melt 10 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue to cook, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and smells nutty, about 1 to 3 minutes. Stir the remaining 4 tablespoons butter into the hot butter to melt; set aside for 15 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large (18 by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly coat them with cooking spray. (I did one of each and both sets of cookies turned out the same). Mix the granulated sugar and 1/4 cup packed brown sugar until well combined; set aside. Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder together in a medium bowl; set aside.
Add remaining 1 3/4 cups brown sugar and salt to the bowl with the cooled butter and mix until no sugar lumps remain, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula; add the egg, yolk, and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. 
Using a rounded tablespoon of dough, form balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Toss the balls in the reserved sugar mixture to coat and set them on the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart, 12 dough balls per sheet. 
Bake until cookies are browned and still puffy and edges have begun to set but the centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone – don’t overbake), 11-13 minutes. (I found that 12 minutes was perfect). Cool the cookies for 1-2 minutes on the baking sheet and then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 24 large cookies.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Silence of God

Time for another book review! How I do love books...

The Silence of God is a historical novel by Gale Sears. Historical novels are almost always a sure bet with me, and this one was no exception. I loved it and I highly recommend it.

The setting for this one is Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution. Personally, I didn't remember much from the history lessons I'm sure I must have had in school, so the book was especially fascinating. The people of Russia really had it rough for decades. I just had no idea.

The main characters in The Silence of God are the Lindlof family, an actual family who also happened to be the first and only Russian members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at that time. The novel also centers on the character of Natasha Ivanovna, who is a fictional friend to the oldest Lindlof daughter, Agnes. Natasha begins the novel as an agnostic Bolshevik writer, but soon comes to realize that she does not agree with many of the means that the Bolsheviks employ to force compliance to their ideals. She begins to see that men cannot change other men's hearts.

This is a novel with a great title that has layered meanings. For the Lindlof family, who witnessed the dedication of Russia by an apostle of the Lord, it's a trial of faith as they endure the seeming silence of God as Russia descends further into chaos. For the Bolsheviks, they would like nothing better than to remove God from every part of Russia--to silence Him. But God has a way of speaking to those who want to listen.

**For another interesting story that takes place in Russia, read Winter Garden by Kristen Hannah.**

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lessons from a 5k

{Me, Jeff and Nicole after our 5k last Saturday.}

Ran my first 5k last Saturday! It was definitely a success and I had a lot of fun doing it, but not without learning some things in the process.

1. Port-a-potties at a race site get used a lot. Enough said.

2. Adrenaline will get you going in the beginning. And it'll fire you up at the end!

3. I haven't ever liked crowds, but I can handle a running crowd better than a sightseeing crowd.

4. My husband is the best. You ever need pep talks or encouragement, call him up.

5. Running is mostly mental. I'm still learning how to talk myself during a run.

6. Good nutrition and plenty of hydration in the days before the race is vital.

7. There a lot of great people out there who like to run.

8. Gatorade Energy Chews are GOOD.

9. I really love Asics!

10. I can do anything I put my mind to!

Who wants to run a 5k with me?