Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bread of the Month

My good buddy, Maren, has a monthly feature on her blog which she calls "Bread of the Month". I thought it sounded like fun so I committed myself to do it, then instantly forgot. Until...I read Maren's blog yesterday in which she has a wonderfully delightful photo essay of Homemade English Muffins.
Here is my attempt:

Yesterday morning I knew Joy School kids would be arriving and I'd need a snack for them. I thought I could hit two birds with one stone and have them "help" make the Bread of the Month. I pulled out on old favorite, America's Bread Book: 300 Authentic Recipes for America's Favorite Homemade Breads, Collected on a 65,000-Mile Journey Through the Fifty United States, and found a simple enough looking "quick bread" under the section "Martha's Vineyard" (a place I intend to go one of these days). It is called "Cranberry Bread" but because I consistently refuse Sierra's request to buy the giant bag of dried cranberries every time we go to Costco, I have no cranberries. But I do have raisins so what follows is a twisted Mindi version of Martha's Vineyard Cranberry Bread:

Start with 2 cups white flour, 2 cups wheat flour, 1 cup sugar, 3 t. baking powder, 1 t. baking soda, and 2 t. salt in the food processor (if you happen to have 6 kids helping you make sure each has a turn to add an ingredient and never turn your back for a moment or their freshly-washed-yet-freshly licked fingers will instantly be in the dry goods "just for a taste".  Then they will say "yuck" and make lots of faces and lots of noises).  Pulse for a bit.  Then because the food processor is too small (something I noticed in the nic of time) take all dry ingredients out and put in separate bowl.  Then add half back with half a stick of butter.  Pulse (making sure each kid has a chance to hold down the button) until butter is mixed in and ingredients resemble cornmeal (that's what Martha says).  Put that batch in another bowl, add remaining ingredients and half a stick of butter and repeat.  Then put them all back together again.  At this point the cooking process will be way too boring for six kids and you'll be happy to see them scamper away (after you've washed their hands again).

Combine 1 1/2 c. orange juice (Martha says fresh squeezed, to which I laugh out loud while making the Costco canned OJ), grated rind of 1 large orange, 2 lightly beaten eggs and pour into the dry ingredients, stirring with a rubber spatula just long enough to dampen the mixture.  Fold in 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts) and 1 cup raisins (or if you are going with Martha's version and happen to live just 7 miles off the Massachusetts coastline where they have things like raw cranberries add one cup of those babies, chopped).  
At this point it is very helpful (or perhaps a hindrance?) to have a two-year-old around who is in a state of utter and complete melt-down 87% of the time.
Batter will be surprisingly thick, like cookie dough, but not quite as yummy.
Spoon batter into the pan and bake 1 hour at 350, or until bread tests done.   While bread is baking, let kids finger paint (if you are crazy! this shot was taken before things really got out of control).

And this is the finished product. The bread was done after 30 minutes according to my "I now smell the bread" test.  But I really wanted to believe Martha so I left the loaves in for 50 minutes.  I really paid the price.  They were over baked and crumbly, leaving me grumpy for a good while about the whole situation.
But when served hot, outside, and with a cup of OJ said bread was quickly consumed (well, by kids that aren't picky eaters--which in this group happens to be mine.  They went around and finished off what the others left behind, I'm so proud).

And truth be known, Martha's recipe doesn't call for any wheat flour (I threw that in because I physically can't bring myself to make straight white bread).  Plus Martha would have added 2 cups of sugar and I only added one.  Maybe these things added (and will continue to add) to my bread baking demise...stay tuned for next month's edition of Bread of the Month.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Spontaneous Delight

I caught myself thinking this morning "I'm really happy today". It must have been a combo of a great hormone/chemical balance, the fact that a lot of laundry/housework got done before taking Sierra to school at 11, and also knowing that we were driving up to the mountains to pick up our beloved Daddy and bring him back home where he belongs. Plus a lot of happy things have been happening. I'm in charge of Joy School this week and the lessons are about "Spontaneous Delight". How could I not be happy teaching 8 kids such a topic!
Here is our Joy School on Tuesday, delighting over the static we created in our balloons.
I made this giant memory game (with the help from a book I just ordered), but it was a little too time consuming and only Cooper and I lasted long enough to finish the game.
Here is Kaia in Empire.  We had an hour to kill while we waited for Dad to arrive.  We went into a little malt shop and got a yummy Oreo shake to share.  The table had a checkers game and we played with that for a while.  Then the sweet shop owner brought over more toys and showed us a giant stack of free books.  Everyone was delighted.  We killed more time by walking through the quaint little mountain town.  Finally Dad arrived and we visited with the cousins for a few minutes.  They gave the kids a bag of gummy bears (there were only about 10 left inside).  Dad brought home a lot of leftover food, including a tube of cookie dough which I gladly baked up to help us get through the evening (Adam had to leave again to go to Young Men's).
This is Sierra and Kaia hugging each other and saying it was the best day of their lives because they got to have an Oreo shake, gummy bears, and chocolate chip cookies!  Obviously, I don't dish out those things very often.  I realize they look pretty shaggy in these pictures.  They just had a wrestling match on the "foof" chair.
And Sierra's latest trick: climbing the walls.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Weekend Getaway

Here we are at my parent's "cabin" in Granby, CO.  This same weekend last year we had a kid-free weekend up here with our friends the Laws and the Purcells.  That weekend was wild and adventurous with late night sledding, skiing trips, Rock Band, etc.  But this time my pregnancy, Liesl's leg injury, and the absence of the Purcells made things much more mellow.  
We spend the afternoon on Saturday in Grand Lake, walking the boardwalk, window shopping, braving the ice on the lake (as seen in above photo), and eating at a great little pizza shop.
We celebrated Adam and Liesl's birthdays with a grand meal of London Broil, roasted peppers, baked potato topped with sauteed mushrooms and onions, bread, and this little chocolate cake I made.
We entertained ourselves with "Mexican Train Dominoes" and movies.  I talked everyone into watching "City of Angels" and I regret it.  I'm surprised they didn't ask me for that 114 minutes of their lives back when the show was over.  "City of Angels" is the American version of the German film "Der Himmel uber Berlin" or "Wings of Desire".  The latter is one of my all time favorite foreign films, so I thought the former would be worth watching.  I'd forgotten that I'd seen the movie in '98 when it came out and didn't like it much then either.  My biggest complaints are the ridiculously long and revealing intimate scene and the fact that we are supposed to believe that Meg Ryan falls madly in love with Nicolas Cage even though he is nothing but creepy and stalkerish during the whole movie.  It does have the following line which I think is profound, "Some things are true whether you believe them or not."  I like seeing angels all around people, knowing their thoughts and guiding them along, ect.  But I don't agree that they are dressed in black trench coats, that they are separate from the human race, but by "falling" (which just involves a very, very slow motion drop off a building) they can join us.  Anyway, this is the end of my movie review.  Save yourself the trouble and just watch "Wings of Desire" if you are into subtitles and depressing yet uplifting German themes and plots.
I didn't want to post the picture because I look awful.  But I reminded myself that I'm 30 weeks pregnant and most women sitting next to Liesl would pale in her beauty also.

Adam stayed up at the cabin because 4 cousins of his were joining him there for a few days of skiing/snowboarding.  I came home and picked up our kids from my parents.  It must be a combo of lack of sleep, missing mom and dad, and insanity because today has been a rough one.  They all spent the day spontaneously bursting into tears and Tristan refused to nap.  Luckily Gram and Pop really stepped in to help.  Then Adam calls and says he wants to stay up in the mountains another day.  "Sure, babe, it's your birthday.  Have a great time." I say.  Then take a few more Tylenol.

Friday, February 20, 2009

"The foundation of all happiness is thinking rightly." --Franklin

Benjamin Franklin had this to say about choice:

"We stand at the crossroads, each minute, each hour, each day, making choices.  We choose the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves to feel, and the actions we allow ourselves to perform.  Each choice is made in the context of whatever value system we've selected to govern our lives.  In selecting that value system, we are, in a very real way, making the most important choice we will ever make.
"Those who believe there is one God who made all things and who governs the world by his Providence will make many choices different from those who do not.  Those who hold in reverence that Being who gave them life and worship Him through adoration, prayer, and thanksgiving will made many choices different from those who do not.  Those who believe that mankind are all of a family and that the most acceptable service of God is doing good to man will make many choices different from those who do not.  Those who believe in a future state in which all that is wrong here will be made right will make many choices different from those who do not.  Those who subscribe to the morals of Jesus will make many choices different from those who do not.
"Since the foundation of all happiness is thinking rightly, and since correct action is dependent on correct opinion, we cannot be too careful in choosing the value system we allow to govern our thoughts and actions.  And to know that God governs in the affairs of men, that He hears and answers prayers, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, is indeed, a powerful regulator of human conduct."

Lord Chesterfield said, "Common sense (which, in truth, is very uncommon) is the best sense I know of: abide by it; it will counsel you best."

Quotes taken from an address given by M. Russell Ballard at BYU during the opening of the Marriott School's Center for Economic Self-Reliance, March 11, 2004.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pay It Forward

There is a great idea floating about lately and here's the drill:

I promise to send the first 3 persons who comment in this post something hand made before the end of this year. (Thank you to whoever came up with that rule!) Yup, something fabulous from little 'ol me! Maybe cards, maybe "doodle stitching", or who knows? But definitely hand made! And received before this time next year. Oh the mystery! What will it be?

Here's the rub: If you sign up to receive a hand made gift you need to "pay it forward" on your own blog. That is, you'll make a post similar to this and then promise and hand make a gift for three other bloggers. The gift that you send to your 3 friends can be from any price range and you have 365 days to make/ship your item. This means you should be willing to maintain your blog at least until you receive your gift and have shipped your gifts. And, remember it’s the spirit and the thought that count! C'mon, an-y-thing home made by you within the year! You can do this! How fun!

So o.k. comment away!

Thanks Chrystal for this fun idea! (Sorry I misspelled your name in my comment!)

Sunday, February 15, 2009


What a weekend! Saturday morning Adam made breakfast. I'm not sure what these pancakes are called, but it is our friend Liesl's recipe and they are wonderful! Then we got the house clean, even the kids helped because they knew Gram's friend Pauline was bringing them Valentine treats. Adam towed Sierra and Kaia in the bike trailer all the way to the gym so that Tristan and I could nap in peace. Then we all met up for swimming. For dinner we were lured in by a Papa Murphy's pizza special. Then we all watched "Mama Mia" together (heavily edited by myself).

Last week I saw a newspaper article titled "Holiday dining on a 'dime'" with a bunch of recipes to make at home instead of fighting the crowds at the restaurants. Since Adam hates nothing more than eating out on V-day weekend, I started planning the menu. Chicken Paillards with Cremini Mushroom Sauce, a side of rice and asparagus is what I ended up making. The article boasted that "this dish can be prepared in 30 minutes and costs less than $2.75 per serving." It certainly took me longer than 30 minutes, but I thought it turned out really well. We ate together by candle light and had a wonderful meal. Adam had to rush off for a Priesthood meeting, so we made and decorated cupcakes in his absence. Then--stealing a family tradition from Meagan and Cory--we watched a slide show of our pictures and videos from the past year. I told Adam not to bother with flowers and to just write me a love note. He wrote a doozy, I tear up just thinking about it. I wrote to him saying, "I hope our children are watching us and that when they start to date they say "I want to be in a relationship like my parents have".
p.s. (yes, Kaia is wearing her super woman cape and mask at dinner. She has worn it as often as possible since attending Cooper's birthday on Friday. The flowers on the table were part of Gram's bouquet that she said didn't fit in her vase. But really I know she knew how much I love to have flowers and she is so good at sharing.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Goal: Make Stuff

In January I had an intense desire to make stuff. We had several projects going on at once and I did my best to be patient while the kids helped.
This was our Christmas gift to Gram. We wanted to "doodle-stitch" things that Gram loves. Kaia drew Vinny, the cat. Sierra was in charge of the cake, we all sewed on the buttons and I did the rest. The tree is my favorite.  It has four branches to represent her four kids and 14 apples for all her grand and great-grandkids.  Then "FAMILY" sewn with beads on the trunk.  The pillow screams "homemade by unskilled craftsgirls" but it was made with love.

This is the pillowcase I had up for auction way back in August (see here) for Nie-Nie day. Thankfully my mom won the auction and is very merciful and patient because it'll probably take me at least another month to finish the other pillowcase.
This is one of 9 cards I made for card club last month.  I just noticed this picture is upside-down.  I spent lots of time cutting and sewing paper on my sewing machine and had a lot of fun.  The background is my Valentines Day table runner I made a few years ago.  Also fun.
These are the best.  I didn't make them, my amazing friend Joy did, but she is my inspiration for creativity so I get to include her in this post.  For Joy's son's birthday party she made each kid in attendance their very own super-hero cape (really high quality too!).  My kids haven't taken them off.  Kaia sleeps with cape and mask on.  Thank you, thank you, Joy!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Juror # 3547

Jury duty, again?! Really?  Can't they only ask me once a year?  I just went in three months ago!  Adam hasn't been called to jury duty once in the 8 years we've lived here!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Talk About The Weather

"There is a destiny which makes us brothers, None lives to self alone; All that we send into the lives of others Comes back into our own." —Edwin Markham

I'm currently reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which is a bit depressing unless you are on the verge of feeling sorry for yourself on any level. Then you read this book and think, "Wow, I have it really good."

The weather was wonderful yesterday and we were able to go to the zoo with my sister, Janelle.

As we were leaving the zoo, the local news station was doing a live weather report. Sierra was asked to join in. Here's to 20 seconds of fame:

Spiritual Enlightenment HERE