Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fly like an eagle

Jared was awarded his Eagle Scout Award last night!

There was a live eagle there. A golden eagle named.....something in Swahili. That's probably why I can't remember what it was. Anyway, she was beautiful. See?

We took pics of Jared with the eagle.
We could NOT get him to look at the camera for anything!
It's just like when we went to Disneyland when he was two. Every character picture we took, he was looking up at the character just like he's looking up at the eagle. So cute and funny.

He wanted to give out two mentor pins, and they were both a surprise. One he gave to his dad:
And the other to one of his grandpas.
They were both surprised!

What project did Jared do to earn his Eagle Award? I talked about it here.

Monday, January 28, 2013

My fitbit

This is a handy-dandy little thing. A fitbit zip Wireless Activity Tracker.

How do I love it? Let me count the ways...

1. It is very small and clips/fits anywhere--pocket, sports bra, the collar of your shirt--you name it.
2. It has a smiley face when you're doing great--a raspberry face when you're not. I like smiley faces. Smiley faces make me want to work harder. :)
3. This little thing keeps track of calories burned, steps taken, distance achieved, and the time. And syncs up to your fitbit account via wireless--anytime you are within 20 feet of your connection.
4. The motivation it gives us has been great. "10,000 steps! Gotta get 1,436 more!"
5. It's cute and green. I love lime green.

Jeff and I both have one of these. {His is boring manly black, not cute lime green}. We have been spending most of our evenings reaching those last 10,000 steps. One night I wanted to watch Chopped, but I couldn't just sit. I ran in place. Gotta do what I gotta do! And I have learned that different workouts = different steps. Only 30 minutes of Zumba netted me 4,000. Strength training (which I love?) = not so many. :P

One of these babies will set you back only about $50. We were lucky enough to get that as a credit on one of Jeff's paychecks, since this is one of the trackers that will work with new company health incentives. I would say it's definitely worth the investment. There are other fitbits available--some track sleep, for instance--so check them out here if you're interested.

*The people at Fitbit don't know I'm alive. I wrote this because I like their product. End of story!*

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Project complete: Baby afghan!

I'm going to be a great Aunt one of these days. I know, it's impossible...I'm too young and all that. But not really.

Anyway, this calls for a special gift. So I dug out the crochet hooks and went in search of the perfect baby yarn. Found it:

This is the softest, fluffiest yarn! I used 5 skeins of it and a size 9 hook, with a single crochet-chain stitch-single crochet-etc. to achieve this:

I wish you could feel the softness of it. It will be warm for my new little great niece!

I'm not done crocheting. Next up? A scarf in a Vanna's Choice Lion Brand yarn in Taupe Mist.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Slow Cooker Sweet & Sour Chicken

This recipe is making the rounds on blogs and Pinterest right now, and there's a reason for that.

It's really good!

So if you have missed it before, now your chance to get on the bandwagon. Don't miss it.

Slow Cooker Sweet & Sour Chicken
adapted from Cooking Classy

3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (frozen ok)
1/2 c. water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 c. sugar
1/2. cup brown sugar
1/3 c. rice vinegar
3 T. lemon juice
3 T. soy sauce
3 T. tomato paste
1/2 t. garlic salt
1/4 t. ground ginger
1/3 c. water
1 chicken bouillon cube    
1/3 c. cornstarch
1 can pineapple chunks, drained
1 green pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 small onion, cut into 1-inch chunks (optional if you don't like onion)

Put chicken breasts in greased slow cooker. Mix together water, bouillon, sugars, rice vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce, tomato paste, garlic salt and ginger in a small bowl until well combined. Pour over the chicken. Cook on low 5-6 hours. At the end of cooking time, mix water, bouillon and cornstarch until dissolved. Set aside. Using two forks, shred the chicken in the pot and mix into the sauce. Add the cornstarch mixture and mix well. Stir in drained pineapple, green pepper and onion if using.  (I did not use the onion and we didn't miss it at all). Cook another 30-45 minutes, or until the green pepper is crisp-tender. Serve over hot cooked rice. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Great Read: My Cousin Rachel

This is one my favorite books of all time!

I decided that I cannot continue to do book reviews of new books only, because there are so many that I have owned & loved for years. This is one of those.

Daphne Du Maurier was a master of suspenseful writing. Hitchcock was a master of suspenseful films. He was intrigued by Du Maurier's books, and made three of them into movies--Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, and The Birds. (The Birds was based on a short story Du Maurier penned).

Though My Cousin Rachel wasn't one of those, I wish it had been. It would've been deliciously suspenseful on screen!!

My Cousin Rachel was published in 1951. It is the story of Philip Ashley, who falls in love with his beautiful and newly introduced cousin, Rachel. The tension and suspense comes into play as Philip begins to uncover evidence that Rachel may have poisoned her husband and Philip's loving guardian, Ambrose Ashley, in order to profit from the Ashley estate. As Philip learns more and more unflattering things about Rachel, and as he continues to fall in love with her, he tries to deny the truth of what he is uncovering. Should he deny it? Or is it true? And will Rachel only hurt him in the end?

If you love old tales of mystery, romance and suspense--you will love My Cousin Rachel.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Real life with Diabetes: "It's my hormones!"

View detailsPuberty: when your kid starts growing taller, growing facial hair, and their voice changes.

But if they are diabetic, that's not all!

Puberty is playing havoc with Jared's blood glucose control.

We started noticing it several months ago...unexplained highs that were happening more often. As time went by, they were happening so much that his A1C climbed to 8.5%. Not good! Jared kept saying to me, "It's my hormones!" Yep, I had to smile about that, but it turns out he was right.

At Jared's last clinic visit, his (awesome & smart!) doctor said with a smile, "We need to start treating Jared like a big boy now." Haha! That meant change all his basal rates and insulin-to-carb rations. That has helped a lot.

Now we're experiencing the other side of the coin. It's a scary side. He's gotten up two of the last three mornings with very low blood sugar. 30 (yes, 3-0!) one morning, and 48 the next. If you're diabetic or know one, you know that this is bad. Once again, we received untold blessings because he could have very easily not woken up or had a seizure (which has happened before and is awful), especially at the 30. But somehow he woke up, came upstairs, tested, and took care of himself with juice and fruit. I was sitting at the kitchen table, saw him come in and test, and then saw him going for juice, so I said "Are you low?" He said, "Yep." I said, "What are you?" and he replied "30." I honestly said, "How are you functioning?" Jared just said, "I don't know" and went about his business. He's definitely learned how to take it as it comes.

I've learned that puberty sends a wrecking ball into diabetes control. I'll be glad when he's out of it!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Pizza Dough Variation #1: Buttery Rolls

Last week I posted my pizza dough recipe. I really should have called it my basic dough recipe, because I use it for a lot more than just pizza. So I've decided to share the variations on it.

Once again, here's the basic recipe:

3 T. sugar
3 T. oil (for pizza I use olive. For rolls, canola or melted butter)
1 1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 T. yeast
4-5 cups all purpose flour

I let my bread machine do the work of mixing, kneading and the first rise. It's just too easy not to!

For the rolls pictured above, take the risen dough and plop it onto your counter--it's a good idea to either spray the counter or flour it first. Cut the dough in half. At this point, it's more workable if you let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Roll each portion of dough into a rectangle 1/4 inch thick. Spread softened butter over the entire surface from edge to edge. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough in half, cutting perpendicular to the long sides. Then cut the other way into six long rectangles--you should have 12 long rectangles at this point. Roll the rectangles up, starting with a short edge, and seal the edges. Repeat with the other portion of dough to make 24 rolls. Place rolls on a greased baking sheet. Let them rise for 15 minutes, and then bake in a preheat 375 degree oven approximately 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Friday, January 11, 2013

You know it's bad when... gets cancelled because of snow in Utah.

Yesterday schools were closed in Boise...for about 5 inches worth. But here? We're talking feet.

 This is the at the base of our driveway. Kinda looks like a lost cause, eh? This is when Jeff gets out the ATV and attaches the handy dandy snowplow to it. This doesn't happen too often!

Do you think the mailman will find it? Assuming the mailman makes it up the street...

Today I'm grateful for a few things:

A good roof overhead!
We still have electricity.
We still have heat.
Jeff has a day off.
We'll have more water come summertime.
I went to Costco yesterday instead of today. :)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Nearly a quarter of a century & Happy Birthday to someone special!

Last night I came across this little gem:

Let me rephrase that. My kids came across this little gem while Jeff was letting them look through one of his boxes of keepsakes.

This pic was taken sometime in the latter half of March 1988, right after we'd gotten engaged nearly 25 years ago. Jeff's mom took us up the canyon to take some pictures. (If you remember, I've said before how she was never without a camera!) Thanks to her, we have this now.

Today would be her birthday--she's probably celebrating up in heaven--and we miss her. She passed away from breast cancer going on 6 years ago. I'm grateful to have known her. I called her Mom, and she truly was another Mother to me.

Happy Birthday Mom! And thanks again for all the pics. You can say you told everyone so.

Now back to the pic at hand. Just some funny and some not-so-funny observations:

Thick blue socks and white tennis shoes? Yeah, total 80's.
My hair was really light--naturally. And my eyebrows were always dark--naturally.
That Mickey Mouse sweatshirt? Nicole has it and wears it now. haha!
My Chi Theta Chi sweatshirt? No idea where that is....
I love the look on my face. I still feel like that today.
It was probably cold on those rocks.
Jeff had hair. :) So did I. A lot! That is why I keep it short now. Waaaay easier.

This isn't the only gem the kids found...periodically I'm going to post more of them in honor of our 25th Anniversary this year. Best 25 years of my life. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

There's always a silver lining {or, How Lemi Shine is still a miracle in a bottle}

Yesterday I told you about my leaky kitchen faucet. Well, let's just say the situation has progressed.

Because now I have no faucet at all. Hubby took it out last night, couldn't tell why it was leaking, and took it with him this morning to try and get it replaced. (It has a Kohler lifetime warranty).

In the meantime, a silver lining showed itself in my brain.

You see, in a past Lemi Shine review I told you how I discovered it could take the hard water scale off my sinks and faucet handles. As I looked at my lone, waterless handles and counter this morning, I realized they were pretty yucky again. Then I thought how they'd be easier to get at with the faucet gone. Then I realized I could use this to my advantage:

I could really show you how well Lemi Shine removes hard water scale.

So that is what I determined to do. I took the above "Before" shot and had a little fun over at Pixlr. (Just with adding the text. Both photos are not manipulated other than adding text). Then I got out my trusty Lemi Shine, a sponge and a cup of water and got to work. That's the thing about Lemi Shine though. It really isn't much work. In literally about three minutes, the situation improved to this:

If that doesn't speak for itself, I don't know what does. Let's just see that again:

If you all could take your finger and run it over the counter top around the handles, you would really feel the difference too. Before? Rough and gross. Now? Smooth as glass.

Now, if you still haven't bought any Lemi Shine, I hope you will! You won't regret it. (By the way, you'll find the best price at Walmart).

**Note: This post is NOT sponsored by Lemi Shine or anyone else. Just sharing one my favorite products yet again!**

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Project Preview

Hello there!

How is your Tuesday? Mine is fantastic--except for the fact that the kitchen faucet is leaking from underneath for some reason, so I have strict hubby-orders not to use it. Other than that, I can't complain.

Today's post is about my first project of 2013.

{I say that with total optimism that it will be the first and not also the last....}

I can't really tell you what it is exactly: It's a secret! But I can describe it for you in so many words:

It's soft.
It's pastel.
The yarn I'm using is amazingly fluffy!

The pattern is adapted from a few of my Pins. Adapted because the truth is, I started it and undid it twice because the original pattern and I were not getting along well. Not well at all!

So I began doing my own thing. Sometimes my own thing and I only have each other...that's the truth...but it's working out fine this time. (Yep, I have an independent streak that drives my hubby crazy sometimes!)

It's a simple single crochet/chain stitch throughout, but because the yarn is big and fluffy and I'm using a size 10 needle, it's going fast. After I've gifted it, I'll show you the whole thing.

Just be warned...I'm no crochet expert, but I do have fun with it when I make the time to do it. And it makes me think of my most favorite Primary teacher ever, the one who taught me how to crochet when I was 11. I've remembered the basics ever since, and I still love that teacher to this day.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Homemade Pizza

My family likes to eat pizza (what family doesn't?) and I like to make it. Did you know that depending on the ingredients you buy for toppings, you can make your own pizza at home and save some money? And you will get a better product than that $5 stuff.

Pepperoni is the favorite topping around here, with some of us liking olives, and some of us not. Another favorite is cheese. I like to use a shredded Italian blend that includes mozzarella and provolone. I also add grated parmesan to all my pizzas.

Here's the recipe for the crust I use. I make it in my bread machine which makes it especially easy to do.

Pizza Dough
If using a bread machine, put the ingredients in the mixer in this order:
3 T. sugar or honey
1 1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 T. yeast
3 T. olive oil
2 cups warm water
approximately 4 cups all purpose flour

I watch how the dough forms as it goes through the first knead, and add more flour if it's looking too sticky. Once the dough has risen, remove from bread machine and divide for pizza crusts. I make 2 15x10 inch pans, and one 12-inch round, so about a quarter of the dough goes to the round, and the rest is cut in half and divided between the large rectangles. Spread the dough from the middle out to the edges. If the dough isn't spreading easily, let it rest for 5-10 minutes and try again--it will spread much easier. Once dough is spread, pierce with a fork all over to prevent bubbles. Put in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, or until light golden brown. Top with sauce, cheese and your favorite toppings. Return to the oven for approximately 5-6 minutes. I like to put the broiler on low at the end and get the cheese lightly browned and bubbly. Let the pizzas cool for about 5 minutes before slicing.

**For the sauce, I pour one 14 oz. can of Diced Italian-Style Tomatoes in the blender and blend til smooth. This is enough to cover all three pizzas lightly--if you like thick sauce I'd do two cans.**

**I bought Carando Classic Italian Pepperoni from Smith's on sale for $2.59 for a 6 oz. pouch. It had something like 96 slices, which was plenty for both large rectangle pizzas and tasted great.**

Friday, January 4, 2013

"English" Trifle recipe & how-to

Welcome to Flashback Friday!

I have talked about English Trifle before, but never shared the recipe. Until now! First thing to know is that I make this trifle as taught to me by one of Jeff's friends from his time spent as an LDS missionary in England. Sometimes I go to our local British pantry and get actual British-made ingredients, and sometimes not. Either way, it turns out pretty much the same except for one thing.

If we lived in England and made trifle, it would contain alcohol (provided we were not Mormon and we drank). However, we are Mormon and we don't drink, as most people probably realize. So my "English" trifle has no alcohol in it. The only other noticeable difference is in the custard layer. If I go and find Bird's Custard Powder, it's more traditional. If I just use Jello vanilla pudding, it's not so traditional but tastes similar, although I do think Bird's Custard Powder is best. You should be able to find it at any British pantry.

**Note: Trifle needs time to sit in the refrigerator, so don't make it planning to eat it in a couple of hours!

English Trifle
1 box of yellow cake mix or pound cake mix--either will work.
1 large Jello gelatin in raspberry flavor 
1 small bag of frozen raspberries
1 small bag of frozen sliced peaches or 1-2 sliced bananas

1 large Jello Instant Vanilla pudding, or Bird's Custard Powder  
1 pint of whipping cream

Mix and bake the cake mix according to the directions on the package.  Cool, and cut into squares. Arrange the cake squares in the bottom of a trifle bowl (like the one pictured above) or other large bowl. You will not use all of the cake. Next, add in pieces of fruit over top of cake and around the sides of the bowl. You can make it look pretty, like the banana slices I lined my bowl with. 

Prepare the gelatin according to the package directions, adding boiling water and then cold. Pour prepared gelatin over the cake and fruit carefully. Cover the bowl with plastic and place in the fridge for several hours or overnight. 

Once the gelatin has completely set, prepare the pudding or custard according to directions on the package and then spoon over the cake & gelatin layer. Whip the cream with a little vanilla and powdered sugar and spoon over the pudding layer. Let it set in the fridge for an hour or so before serving. To serve, use a large spoon to get some of all the layers in each portion.

**I have also used peach gelatin with peaches & raspberries, or strawberry with strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

If you like to race, Scheels is the place.

Can you guess the actress in this shot?

This moose sits in the entrance to Scheels. Do you have a Scheels near you?

Scheels is like heaven for sports enthusiasts of all kinds. Football, baseball, running, college sports fans, hunting, running and a whole lot more. We found out that if you want fun, colorful Asics running shoes (this is an Asics family!), Scheels is the place to find them. They would definitely make running more fun.

Like this. I could slip on a pair of these and go. Unless it happens to be a whopping 10 degrees outside--like now. (Oh, how I need another treadmill!!)

ASICS® Women's Blur33™ 2.0 Running Shoe $99.99

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

It's a new year. Do you have a goal or two?

Or three? Or four?

My kids had a goal that they finished yesterday. The snowman above!

We have a tradition to build a snowman every New Year up on the hill above our neighborhood. The last couple of years, there wasn't enough snow, so the kids were really happy that this year there was. In spite of a temp of about 22 degrees, they fulfilled the goal and kept the tradition alive. Good job, guys!

I have a few goals in mind for this year. One is to keep working on this blog. Another is to write at least 3 paid articles 5 days per week. Another is to exercise 5 days each week--

{That's kind of a forced goal right there. Not really forced per se, because I've already been exercising but there is now extra motivation behind it. Jeff's employer is cutting healthcare costs for employees and their spouses who commit to better health by tracking exercise and eating habits. Not a bad deal for those who are already doing it anyway. Like Mr. Marathon Man Jeff.}

So, what are your goals this year?  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Looking forward

Happy New Year!!

2012 was a good year in some ways, and a very challenging year in others. I am grateful for all the challenges. I'm grateful to have survived 2012 and to have learned and (hopefully) become a better person. And I'm grateful for the growth of this blog and all who continue to come back and see what I have to say. THANK YOU!

I am looking forward to 2013 and seeing what it has to offer. I hope all of you will have an awesome year ahead!!