Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fritos, Soup and Flower Girl

Fritos Scoops are horrible for me. But oh how good they are. Excuse me while I grab another.

"Frozen" is on for the 2304975620934578 time. And every time "Let It Go" comes on, Violet still says, "This is my jam!"

Our pal Jack has baseball practice tonight. All of the sudden, sports got all serious for him. Practice 3 days a week and games don't start for another 3 weeks. Luckily, he loves it. Every bit of it. Ethan might have overheard some dads at the last practice saying, "Is he really only in 3rd grade? He throw the ball like a canon."

Right now, Ethan is on a stinky school bus full of hormonally-raging teenage girls and boys headed to Manti for baseball and softball games. That's like 2 1/2 hours on a bus. Screw that.

This morning at the gym, a lady who always sits by me in spin class told this story. Every week, she picks up 94 year old Sister So-And-So for church. Last Sunday, she gets in the car and the driver says, "So how have you been?" And Sister So-And-So says, "Just doin' everyone I can." And the poor old lady is as prim as can be and didn't understand the words coming out of her mouth.

Tonight, I am making chicken noodle soup. You would think that I told my kids I was giving them ice cream for dinner. They love chicken noodle. I make it probably every other week. They don't even pick the vegetables out of it. They just gobble them up. It's sort of creepy.

My sister Megan is getting married in mid-May. It's going to be a beautiful occasion. But the best part? Violet was asked to be the flower girl. Something that is every little girl's dream. Aunt Megan is buying her a beautiful blue dress and Violet wants her hair in french braid pigtails, she wants her fingernails to be pink and her toenails to be purple. Every day, she will randomly say, "Hey Mom, remember that I am the flower girl." We need to start practicing how she is going to have to walk and sprinkle petals.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Softball, Ribs and Froyo

Yesterday we went to Ethan's team's softball game (remember, he is an assistant coach to a high school softball team). A freaking good softball game. Summit Academy (us) against North Summit. We got there in the 3rd inning and the score was 13-4, us losing. But it ended in extra innings with Summit Academy winning 16-15. It was unreal. To all you people who say baseball/softball is boring, you are dead wrong. It was so intense! Ethan is loving this coaching gig. Having the girls really understand concepts to improve their game is so satisfying for him. And every girl on the team loves Violet.

Today was my dear old dad's birthday. We went to Bam Bam's BBQ in Orem and cleaned them out of ribs. It was a typical evening with my family. Passing baby Walt around, talking about the details of my sister Megan's upcoming wedding, little cousins getting mad at each other and everyone picking food off of each other's plates. I also brought along a dozen and a half Cupcake Chic cupcakes, which is never a bad thing. Side note about Megan's wedding: Violet was asked to be the flower girl. I know, every little girl's dream. Yes, Vi is THRILLED. Wedding is in May.

In the morning, we sent Ethan off to Rio Tinto Stadium to work. He is back over there this soccer season, cheffing it up. Once he was gone, we got our house chores done and got our house spic and span and then headed to a park in Alpine. I actually did my hair for the first time in 2 weeks and when we got to the park, someone was burning yard waste and it made my hair smell like smoke and now I am mad. Thanks a lot.

The other night, I went and got froyo with some ward gals and I got home at 1:30am. As I was driving home, I felt so incredibly grateful for a husband that doesn't get weird or hound me about being out with friends. I know so many women who have needy, whiny husbands. They have to be home at a certain time or they can't go anywhere at all because their husband "needs" them. Barf. Ethan would happily wave me off on a week long vacation with my friends without batting an eye. He is the best. Ethan, you hear that, you are the best. Let's be friends forever.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Corned Beef, Pretty and Ferrari

It's a perfect Saturday morning. I am in bed, wearing my favorite pajamas and my grey knit robe that I would wear like a cardigan if it was acceptable. I just ate two bowls of expired cereal (hope I don't die) and the kids are watching "George of the Jungle 2". I just rinsed the two briskets I was brining for corned beef and they are in slow cookers in the kitchen. In about an hour, I will make beds, gather swim gear and we will go swimming at our local indoor pool for a few hours. Then I will pick up my cute blue and white striped JCrew dress from the dry cleaners. I bought the dress when Jack was a baby and it is still in great shape. That's the thing about JCrew, their clothes are timeless and last forever. Once the dress is picked up, we will head home and I will put Violet down for a much-needed nap. And then I will make dinner. Chicken tamale pie and cumin cilantro rice. By then, the corned beef will be done and my friends Lucy and Andrew will stop by and pick theirs up. And then Ethan should be home from the softball tournament in St. George. Then his laundry will need to be washed ASAP because it will be stinky and covered in a fine layer of orange St. George dirt. The evening will end with us catching up on "New Girl" and I will have a cup of orange blossom tea. The tea helps me not crave large amounts of treats. I usually crave large amounts of treats at night.

This morning, as the kids were finishing their bowls of cereal, Van said, "Last one to finish is a rotten egg!" Violet, looking shocked, said, "Don't say that to me! I am beautiful and I am pretty!" And she is right.

You should give Jack a gift so that he will write you a thank you note. Ethan's brother Jarrett (affectionately named Pooh. Jarrett=Jar Bear=Pooh Bear=Pooh) gave Jack $20 on his birthday. Jack's thank you note says "Dear Uncle Pooh, thank you for the $20. Now I can buy anything, just not an expensive car like a Ferrari. Love, your friend Jack." Jack always writes the best thank you notes.

Anyone else use the Target Cartwheel app? I am addicted. I am doing all I can to earn myself that $50 savings badge. And keep in mind how stupid that is because the badge doesn't get me anything. It gets me a thumbs up from Target saying, "Thanks for spending money with us!" One time, between the Cartwheel app and my Target debit card, I saved $14. Fourteen bucks! What a thrill! Someone get me a life. But preferably at Target and use the Cartwheel app so you save money.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Orange, Jack and Ingrown

Tonight, after getting everyone to bed with minimal yelling, it was "New Girl", orange nail polish and a few chocolate chip cookies. Sometimes, I want to get up in church and bear my testimony about the peace and solitude after everyone is on bed. I know with every fiber of my being, beyond a shadow of a doubt that when kids are in bed and the house is clean, I am a nicer mom.

Jack turned 9 on Monday. NINE. Nine years ago, I had him and as we were getting ready to leave the hospital, Ethan and I were truly freaked out. "Are you sure you want us to take him home? Aren't you afraid we are going to break him? Don't one of you nice nurses want to come with us to make sure nothing bad happens?" Jack was a rotten baby at the beginning. He had pyloric stenosis and we didn't know it until he was a month old. That first month was horrid. I remember there was one day that he didn't sleep for 24 hours. Just cried, ate and threw up. When I would tell people that he never slept and cried all the time, they would patronize me and say, "Oh, that's just how newborns are! He will grow out of it!" One morning at 5am, after he had vomited down my shirt, I had had enough. I took him to the ER by myself as Ethan took the sleep shift. After lots of tests, they found the problem and he had surgery at Children's Hospital Los Angeles a few days later. After that, he was the happiest, sweetest fattest baby. From that point on, he was wonderful. As he has grown, he stayed happy, sweet and got unfat. Jack has always been a good boy. He has such a desire to do the right thing, even if that means he has to stand out. His sensitive heart allows him to look out for the kids at school who need a friend. He works hard at home and at school and takes on responsibility well. Even when he has had difficult times with behavior or performance, he has kept that work ethic to try and fix what has been wrong. Today he showed me his spelling test, which he scored very well on, and on the back he wrote a note to his teacher. "Dear Ms. Sweat, if you are reading this, I think you are awesome." She wrote back. "Thank you Jack, this makes me smile. You are awesome also."

Last week, I dropped by a friend's house and we chatted about how important it is for us mothers to do things outside of motherhood and use our creative talents. This was such a good reminder for me. My creative outlet is cooking and making up my own stuff and lately I haven't been good about taking the time to enjoy it. After I finished writing my book, recipe ideas just kept coming and I wrote them all down. I have a little over 100. When I write a recipe, I get an idea first and then I work on a recipe from there. So this week, I worked on citrus garlic-glazed roast chicken, lemon parmesan rice and turkey jalapeno empanadas. Next up, I want to work on iced lemon sheet cake and slow-cooker potato soup. I am not sure what I will do with these recipes, but I will have them there for whatever and they are something that I have done that makes me feel happy and creative.

Last night, Ethan was clipping fingernails and toenails for Van and Vi. Sidenote: I am not allowed to clip nails anymore. I have clipped too many too short and I get in big trouble when I do that. Anyways, as Ethan was clipping Van's toes, Van says, "Dad, why do we have a toenail named after our family?" Ethan was confused. "What?" Van persists. "Why do we have a toe named Ingram?" And then Ethan connected the dots. Ingram toenail=ingrown toenail. Oh Van, don't ever grow up.


Monday, March 10, 2014

FOOD STORAGE! WHAT A THRILL! How I do food storage.



I am a Mormon and us Mormons have a “thing” for being prepared for emergencies. Whether it be a natural disaster, job loss or family crisis, we don’t want to be left high and dry. So our Mormon leaders talk to us a lot about being ready for anything. Storing food is one of the things they like to talk about. Up until recent years, we were advised to have a full year’s worth of food stored. And yes, that sounds overwhelming to me as much as it does to you. Thankfully in the last few years, they have changed to saying that a 3 month store is plenty. THAT is much more doable. 

Mormon or not, having a decent supply of food on hand is smart. Besides the whole emergency preparedness thing, it’s nice to never run out of anything. Truly, I only ever have to call my neighbors for the occasional stick of butter or egg. Having a back supply of all my pantry items makes certain that I can cook just about anything I want whenever I want. 

I will brag. I have a great food storage supply. It has taken me a long time to establish, but I think I finally have the hang of it and I have some helpful advise that will get you started on your supply. Let’s go through this step by step. 

Have a decent place to store all your food. I don’t have great storage in my kitchen, so I had a friend make me two cabinets to put in my garage. We call them "The Twins". Each one is 6 feet tall, 4 feet wide and 2 feet deep and doors that close shut. They have very sturdy shelves that can hold a lot of weight. If you don’t have anywhere to store your supply, you will lose all motivation to establish it. So find some ample storage space. 

Make a big list of what food your family eats. What shelf-stable items are always on your grocery list? What is on your meal rotation a lot? Take a minute and write it all down. Every family is going to be different. You might have chickpeas on your list while we don’t. You will find a lot of lists around the internet and Pinterest of what to put in your food storage, but if you don’t know what to do with hard wheat, don’t buy it. But do buy a crap load of black beans and salsa if you guys love those. Below is my list. This will hopefully get your brain thinking. 

Now comes the hoarding part. No, you aren’t going to drop a few bennies on all of it. You are going to build your supply slowly. Tape your list to the inside of your kitchen cabinet and each time you make your grocery list, add a few things that are on your food storage list. Like instead of getting one bottle of red wine vinegar, get 3. And let’s say as you are grocery shopping, you notice that cocoa powder is on sale. Buy a few. Your husband or wife calls and says they are dropping by the store on their way home? Have them pick up a bottle of vegetable oil. Going to Costco? Add a case of tomato sauce to your list. You are going to build your supply slow. You don’t have to spend a lot of money if you can’t. Just little by little. You are thinking “How much of each thing should I buy?” I would start with aiming for 16 of your canned items, 4 of your bottled items and 4 of your bagged items. And two big 25 pound bags of sugar and flour. You might find you don’t need as much of one thing, but more of another. Just do what works for you. 

Keep it organized. Take the time to stack everything neatly, like your own little grocery store. If you just toss everything in there, you won’t be able to keep track of what you need. 

Now it’s all about maintenance. So when you are making caramel popcorn and use the last bit of corn syrup, pull another bottle out of your food storage pantry and then write corn syrup on your grocery list. Ideally, you have at least 3 bottles of it that you are rotating out. Don’t deplete your supply. Keep rotating out and maintaining your hard work. 

Have any questions? Let’s discuss them. 

Here is my food storage list. Like I said, your list might look different from mine. But use mine and add to or remove from. Do what your family actually eats. 

FOOD STORAGE LIST

Canned Vegetables and Fruit:
Tomato sauce
Tomato paste
Diced tomatoes
Diced green chiles
Chipotle chiles
Black beans
Kidney beans
Refried beans
Cannellini beans
Pumpkin puree
Corn
Black olives
Pineapple chunks

Sauces and Jarred Vegetables:
Pickles
Roasted red peppers
Marinara sauce
Salsa
Curry paste
Enchilada sauce

Canned Milk:
Evaporated milk
Sweetened condensed milk
Coconut milk

Canned Meat:
Tuna fish

Condiments:
Mayonnaise
Jam
Mustard
Peanut butter
Soy sauce
Ranch dressing
Italian dressing
Ketchup
Red wine vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
Apple cider vinegar
Honey
Maple syrup

Nuts:
Pecans
Walnuts
Sliced almonds

Pastas and Grains:
Egg noodles
Penne pasta
Fettuccine pasta
Spaghetti pasta
Quinoa
Long-grain white rice
Oatmeal

Flours and Sugars: 
All-purpose flour
Bread flour
Cake flour
Self-rising flour
Granulated sugar
Brown sugar
Powdered sugar

Baking Ingredients:
Cocoa powder
Active dry yeast
Vital wheat gluten
Shredded coconut
Chocolate chips
Cornstarch
Cornmeal
Baking soda
Baking powder
Vanilla extract
Kosher salt
Dry milk

Fats and Oils:
Vegetable shortening
Vegetable oil
Coconut oil
Olive oil

Soups, Noodles and Premade Food:
Raman noodles
Macaroni and cheese
Canned chili
Red beans and rice mix
Canned chicken noodle soup
Chicken stock
Vegetable stock
Chicken buillon cubes
Jell-O
Instant pudding
Cheerios
Corn Chex
Crackers
Pretzels

Household Supplies:
Toilet paper
Tampons
Laundry detergent
Dishwasher detergent
Dish soap
Hand soap
Bar soap
Tissues
Toothpaste
Toothbrushes
Ziploc bags
Plastic wrap
Aluminum foil

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Root beer, corned beef, inept

Today we had a little tagalong. Sam, my 3 year old sweet-as-sugar nephew. His baby brother Walt had his first surgery to begin repairs on his cleft lip and palate. Sam marveled at how big Uncle Ethan's truck is, requested that his pants not be buttoned up all day, was very polite and asked for "chicken nuggets, fries and root beer". And all of this with a lisp and difficulty saying his R's.

Remember how Ethan is an assistant coach for a high school softball team? Today was the first game. Currently Ethan is on his way home on the bus. Apparently the girls lost pretty bad. I am sure I will get the full details when he gets home. With Ethan coaching that means he goes to practices everyday. And he takes Jack sometimes. When Jack goes, he gets to work with the baseball coach who was a major league pitcher. Jack throws left and is learning to pitch and doing pretty well for an 8 year old. Little League fires up in April and that means we will spend lots of time under our shade umbrella, watching Jack. I cannot wait! (truly, I am so excited.) Also, I am stoked that baseball is a sport that gets cancelled when it rains. None of the football-in-the-mud bull crap. It's sprinkling? Oh crap, get in the car and go home. I like it.

Last night, we got our corned beef brine started. You make a brine with loads of salt, spices and sugar and then dunk a brisket in it and let it sit for 10 days. I have been wanting to make my own corned beef for ages and finally, I did. After seeing a recipe in Bon Appetit for corned beef hash, I knew that I had to get it done this year. I have visions of corned beef hash and a poached egg. It's going to be magical.

Recently, I was talking with a friend about paying attention to how you feel after you eat something. For example, how do you feel after you eat a salad? Probably pretty great. What about fried chicken? Probably pretty rotten. I know that after I eat ice cream, I feel pretty rotten. But I realized that after I eat a cupcake, I feel fantastic.

My friend Katie posted this screen shot of a conversation she had with some inept she met on an online dating website. As usual, so happy that I am not longer in the dating world and that my 11th anniversary is tomorrow.

Monday, March 3, 2014

My short thoughts on the LDS church and wanting more good news.

Here is me keeping it real. Maybe you can call it me talking about my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Take it how you will.

Quite often, I am finding myself overwhelmed with the culture of the LDS church. I am weary of the way people can only seem to find fault with the church. I am weary of hearing of people leaving the church. I am weary of people complaining about the church. I am weary of the cultural divide. I am weary of hearing more negativity about the church than good stuff. There is plenty of good stuff, it's just not as fun to talk about. All of the negativity makes me feel so sad, hopeless and dark. The gospel is such good news! Why is it that all I seem to hear is bad stuff? Am I just reading the wrong stuff? Am I just talking to the wrong people? If I am not hearing about how horrible girls camp is, I am hearing about modesty opinions. And if it isn't about how scouting is the worst, it's about how some bishop just got disfellowshipped. I feel like it's becoming less cool to dedicate yourself more to the gospel. To try harder and hold yourself to a higher standard. I NEED SOME GOOD NEWS! I NEED SOMETHING POSITIVE! Anyone else feel me on this? 

I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love being apart of the Mormon church. I love that I can go to the temple, pay my tithing, take my son to scouts, have gone to girl's camp, teach my primary class and all the good stuff that comes with it. I love the leaders of my church and I love that they talk to God. I really believe that they do. I want to feel this happy about my church all the time, but sometimes it is hard to. I too often get caught up in other's opinions and ideas. And they aren't necessarily bad. There is great discussions to be had. But I believe there is a fine line, at least for me. 

So for me, I am making a new commitment. I am not going to talk negatively about my faith anymore. I want to worship more deeply. I am just going to look for the good. Call me Pollyanna if you want. I am not going to tell you what to do, but maybe join me. Let's look for the good and then pray to Heavenly Father about the bad. Let's ask His opinion, not Facebook's.

*Even I am confused about what I just wrote. Maybe you can comment and help me make sense of it.