Friday, October 31, 2008


Something I am obsessive about: menu planning. I did the dinner menus for November tonight. I thought, maybe my international blog audience would like to know about this. So here you go.

By the way, we are part-time vegetarians. It is cheap and healthy and eco-responsible. Obviously we aren't doing this because we have any kind of qualms about eating animal flesh. We love animal flesh. Just not so much of it. I'll bold the veggie nights so you can see them easily in case you're flexis like us or full-time veggies.

There are also some links in here for you.

F - 10/31: onion and pepper omelets, toast, cantaloupe
Sa - 11/1: red lentil dal, green bean and tomato curry, rice, cucumber raita
Su - 11/2: grilled pork chops with rosemary and garlic, polenta with sweet corn, green salad, chocolate cake
M - 11/3: tortellini salad with roasted orange peppers and peas; snickerdoodles
T - 11/4: bean burritos, limeade
W - 11/5: crockpot cranberry-apple chicken, mashed potatoes, broccoli
Th - 11/6: sloppy joes, roasted potatoes, green salad
F - 11/7: lentil soup with squash, oatmeal muffins
S - 11/8: chicken and apple sausages, bread, spinach, fruit salad
Su - 11/9: chicken tortellini soup, bread, pear-ginger-maple pie
M - 11/10: margarita red lentil salad, roasted tomatoes, milkshakes
T - 11/11: meatloaf burgers, cucumber vinaigrette salad
W - 11/12: veggie chili, corn muffins, salad
Th - 11/13: chicken and broccoli stir fry, rice
F - 11/14: pancakes, bananas, yogurt
Sa - 11/15: turkey and avocado subs, Sun Chips, carrot sticks
Su - 11/16: zucchini and corn enchiladas, green salad, pumpkin ice cream
M - 11/17: leftover enchiladas, caramel popcorn

That's my whole November. The afternoon of the 18th I head for my mommy's house until the end of the month. It really makes my menu planning easier!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Eight is great

Marta tagged me for this. Well, technically, she tagged anybody who needs an easy blog post. That would be me.

8 T.V. Shows I love to watch:
1. Heroes
2. The Office
3. Ugly Betty
4. House M.D.
5. American Idol
6. Super Nanny
7. Extreme Makeover Home Edition
8. Mystery!

8 Favorite Restaurants:
1. Thai Cuisine or Thai Cuisine II (Merced)
2. Bombay House (Salt Lake)
3. In-n-Out Burger
4. Jamba Juice
5. Formosa Garden (Fresno) for dim sum
6. Snake Creek Grill (Heber)
7. La Hacienda I or II (Merced)
8. Bun on the Run (Fairbanks)

8 Things That Happened Yesterday:
1. Z got a Halloween treat bag at the gym
2. The babysitter let me know that recovery from her breast biopsy was not going as well as she hoped and she couldn't take Z for the afternoon
3. We had a picnic with G on campus
4. G took Z to his lab
5. I met with my boss to plan the transition to my replacement
6. I picked up all the kids and took them to pack meeting (for this I deserve a medal, no false humility here)
7. I gave up and got Little Caesar's Hot-n-Ready for dinner
8. Helped S with homework, bathed the littles, put everyone to bed.

8 Things I look Forward to:
1. Having a Ph.D. husband (with a job, the really scary caveat)
2. Finalizing adoptions for our little kids and taking them to the temple
3. Finding the place where we will settle down and live for the rest of our lives and never move again
4. Seeing my parents & family for Thanksgiving
5. Taking a trip with G to celebrate the Ph.D. (maybe in January? I'll schedule it after he schedules his dissertation defense. We have settled on the Mexican Riviera.)
6. Having all my kids in school
7. Going to grad school
8. The peace in the house when the kids are asleep, things are tidied up and the dishwasher is running

8 Things I love about Fall:
1. Cool temps and occasional rain
2. Our AWESOME pumpkin patch
3. Finding things like quince and pomegranates at 99c Only
4. Soccer season
5. Hot comfort foods
6. Wearing a hoodie
7. Dahlias and chrysanthemums in my yard
8. Chinese pistache trees turning brilliant red all down my street

8 Things On My Wish List:
1. Culinary torch for making creme brulee
2. Donna Karan Gold perfume
3. A Trader Joe's and a TJMaxx in my town
4. Trip to Mexico
5. New laptop
6. Massage for my poor neck and shoulders
7. Tsubo Aerias (black, size 10)
8. Barack Obama in the White House

People I Tag:
Anybody who wants to be tagged.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Roundup kills weeds. If this kills you I am not accepting responsibility.

I can't be the only one thinking about the presidential election all the time.
  • Wired says blogs are oh-so-passe. Can I just pull a Palin and call them haters? Or should I recognize that they may have put a finger on why I just don't feel much like blogging lately?
  • John, meet Skippyjon. Seven-year-old A describes McCain as follows: "He's a good person, but his ideas are CRAZY LOCO!"
  • Yes, we've been indoctrinating our children. I bet you do the same.
  • A's class had a mock election yesterday. It's going to be really interesting to see who wins in my kids' very ethnically diverse, working-class school in our red town within a blue state. What influence will triumph? That's the big question for the whole shebang.
  • Did you hear the SNL guy on Fresh Air today talking about all the candidates and stuff? I listened at the gym. It helped me not worry about what FOX News was thrusting in my face as I sweated my stress out on the elliptical machine. It was awesome.
It's autumn time! Here's what we've been eating lately.
  • Roasted chicken with winter vegetables. Salt and pepper a whole chicken. Stuff loosely with lemons and herbs from your garden. Place in roasting pan surrounded by turnips and butternut squash. Roast at 350 for 1 hour, 15 minutes.
  • Open-the-can chili with veggies. Cook carrots, onions, celery and jalapenos in olive oil. Add 1 tbsp each of chili powder and cumin. Stir until fragrant. Optional: add hamburger or other meat and brown. Not optional: add 1 can each of kidney beans, tomatoes, corn and a good, organic tomato soup - not the sugary kind with the Warhol label (I used Roundy's, which I got at 99c Only, of course). Simmer until thickened. Good with rice, polenta or even (gasp!) spaghetti.
  • Winter sausage spaghetti, inspired by Everyday Food. Cook 1 onion in olive oil with two links of sweet sausage, like the chicken and apple kind you get at Costco. Add salt and pepper, a pinch of thyme, 1 chopped apple and half a head of cabbage. Wilt. Stir into cooked spaghetti noodles. Serve with apple cider vinegar and salty cheese.
  • Lest you think my entire repertoire is earthy, hot food: Banana frozen yogurt. Puree1 c banana yogurt, 1 banana, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, and enough whole milk or half and half to make 5 cups, in your blender until very smooth. Remove 1 cup of mixture. Heat to boiling (doing this in the microwave is fine). Slowly pour half of hot mixture into a bowl with 1 well-beaten egg. Return egg mixture to hot mixture. Return hot mixture to blender and process. Chill at least 2 hours. Process in ice cream freezer. Nice with dark chocolate.
Was that like a recipe jackpot, or what?

Reading: Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud. Why did this take me so long? It's awesome. Harry Potter fans or disgruntled, resentful Twilight readers who are yearning for fantasy with more maturity, complexity, darkness, wit and literary quality will love this series.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


K is home from school. I missed his appointment for a physical last week and we cannot get another one until Nov. 4. He cannot go to school until I get his physical form turned in. Working on a solution ...

The babysitter is sick. I was supposed to go into the office today. Now I have to figure out how to accomplish a 12 noon phone interview and a 1 PM staff meeting (calling in) while getting two kids fed and put down for naps.

K and Z are playing in the backyard. Idyllic. They have removed all their clothing.

The phone just rang. Abe needs lunch money. Right now.

Hope you have enjoyed this slice of my reality.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I've been waiting for the picture on this one. Saturday I took Z on a girls' day trip to San Francisco t0 meet my high school friend Carrie and her friend Margo. They were there for the Nike Women's Half Marathon - brave girls!

Carrie and I moved to Alaska at the same time - she from Savannah, I from Pittsburgh. We clicked as friends pretty much immediately - we had very similar tastes and sensibilities. She was the first one to know when I got smooched by the boy who is now my husband of 15 years. Thinking back, I think it was the guy she eventually married who introduced me to her - he was in student government and so was the girl from church who was showing me around my new high school. Apparently he recognized two peas in a pod.

It still felt that way. We have been in contact on Facebook recently but there are few joys to compare with the fun of picking up with an old friend and feeling almost like you were never apart. It's so fun.

We went to Muir Woods and then to Ghirardelli Square. There wasn't time for much more. There's so much in San Francisco; you can never ever do all the things you want to. But the most important thing was being together.

Here's to old friends and a fun reunion after 19 years apart.

Friday, October 17, 2008

You can't buy these laughs

Z loves gum.

But she can't say the word quite exactly right.

And she primarily prefers to unwrap a whole package and stuff it in her mouth.

So if you happen upon her with your purse beside her, an empty package in her chubby little paw, the scent of Melon Mint in the air and Orbit wrappers strewn all around, you can just expect to hear a delighted, muffled explanation:


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I want that



Every once in a while I do something that actually works for FHE and want to share it. Last night, somehow, it all came together.

A Family Home Evening plan

Opening Song: Tell Me the Stories of Jesus

Attention Getter:
What holiday is coming up? (Halloween)
What is Halloween about? (allow answers from kids - candy, costumes, etc.)

I used to think Halloween was just about fun and not about anything important. But when you guys started to enjoy Halloween I learned that it is really a holiday about imagination, and imagination is really important. Imagination helps us have fun and enjoy stories and pretending.
Imagination also helps us understand the gospel and strengthen our testimonies. Do you remember the part about imagination in the song we just sang? There is a line that says, "I can imagine his blessings resting on me." You can imagine yourself being with Jesus and being hugged and blessed and loved by Him. How does that make you feel? Does it strengthen your testimony?
What other stories from the scriptures do you like to imagine?
Here we had A share a picture I had him draw while S was at soccer, showing his favorite scripture story, which is of course Ammon cutting off the arms of the robbers.
How do you think you came to have an imagination? Do you think it is a gift from Heavenly Father?

Activity: Ghost lanterns - I had the kids pencil their faces on their jugs first, then I helped the littler ones with the Sharpies

Treat: Chocolate chip bar cookies (this is not on-theme, but it was easy! Make your favorite dough for about 5 dozen chocolate chip cookies. Instead of scooping it out, press it in a 9x13 pan and bake at only 300 degrees for about 40 minutes or until uniformly golden. Cut into bars to serve.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Tonight I sing the praises of our best babysitter.

L has her own little siblings aplenty - she's smack in the middle of a 10-kid family - so our kids don't overwhelm her. She is perfectly even-keeled and usually available. And she lives just a couple of blocks away.

Today we came home from our four-hour CPR and First Aid class (ugh, at least it's over for another year) and found her on the floor, "playing" Battleship with 4yo K and 2yo Z. Yeah, that takes some serious patience.

She is growing up. Someday maybe she will not want to babysit anymore. Today her growing beauty and maturity really struck me. Sad for me. Glad for her.

I wish I could pay her $20/hour. Love this girl.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Not all of you were weird growing up. That's ok. We can be friends even if you used to be normal and popular.

I was a little weird. To many of you this is no big shock to hear. I was the new kid in school every couple of years. I was brainy and bossy and kind of a snob. I was the oldest in a big, Mormon family - normal in Utah, weird everywhere else - that was slightly short on money and un-slightly long on ideas. Not poor-me here, I'm not that ungrateful - just not Guess and Esprit and new subdivisions and unembarrassing transportation.

It was kind of relief to get to the age (high school, basically) where there were enough weird kids to be a group-o'-weird. A rejects' club. We sat outside the art room to eat our lunch. We hung out at the university on weekends. We felt like we were in a John Hughes movie. That was very validating, very normal, considering. And as you know, I met Dr. G-to-be in this very inclusive cohort of weirdos in 1989. So there's one more awesome thing about it.

About twelve years later a different group of friends sat in my living room. They all came from the university married student ward we'd moved away from. One couple had lost a daughter an hour after her birth. Another friend had left her abusive husband, and the divorce process had sent her reeling emotionally and spiritually. And there we were, with our wonderful, beautiful adopted black baby. Someone wondered aloud why we all felt so bonded to each other while most of the rest of our former ward was less important to us. (Sally, we would've invited you but you ran away to California.)

I told them, it's because we've survived all the things everyone else was terrified of. There we were: the bereaved, the abused, the divorced, the infertile. We could talk with each other about what mattered most, without fear of being thought weak or unfaithful or wallowing.

I am starting to realize that pretty much everybody belongs in this club. We just don't always know it because we are too concerned about maintaining appearances and fitting in. It's the equivalent of the Esprit shirt and Swatch watch we got for our thirteenth birthday - the ones we thought would change everything and really made no difference at all. (Oh, that didn't happen to you?)

Who might need to know your story?

Do you dare open up?

My dad does. I am humbled by him, proud of him.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

On Sunday

My great-grandmother Alice (whose childhood tithing story is in this month's issue of the Friend Magazine, how exciting!) had a saying about the Sabbath:

"Every stitch you sew on Sunday, you have to pick out with your nose when you get to heaven."

I think this is a charming and memorable warning, but I don't exactly take it for gospel truth.

Sewing, baking, and crocheting are not really work for me. They're recreation. They're peace and creativity and accomplishment. They're remembering my foremothers. Even the preparation of Sunday dinner, to which I am pretty darn devoted, is more meditation and service than it is labor. If I somehow have to undo this stuff in a funny Mormon great-grandma purgatory, I think it might be worth while.

Today I am baking bread with Feminist Mormon Housewives. My puffy loaf, enriched with home-ground wheat flour and a little corn meal, is in the oven.

Later on I am going to be making cookies, and blackened salmon and red beans and rice. Maybe some greens on the side, and some corn on the cob. Later on I might even work on a crochet project I dreamed up, while catching up on the Conference sessions I should have watched yesterday, but missed because I was living in the moment with my kids (thank you, President Monson!)

Sabbath, feast day.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Shot through the heart

One of my bullets is bound to get you. It's nifty stuff. It's a cute baby girl who is growing up, up, up. It's all good.
  • I am feeling like Santa Claus today. October is a great time to start holiday shopping. I do not enjoy holiday shopping during the holiday shopping season. Not even online. October is pretty much the last possible minute for me if I do not want to lose my mind. Three boxes from Amazon have arrived in the last two days. We are talking about a stuffed-animal (not real!!) puppy in a pink purse, a spring-action lightsaber, a darling Latina babydoll, cute wooden play food, and a moving dinosaur. Legos and football gear still to come. In case you are wondering, I want a culinary torch (for creme brulee, of course) and some new Donna Karan Gold perfume, and any books you think I should be reading.
  • You know you want a secret stash of high quality chocolate like me. Green & Black's has been on the aisle-end clearance shelves lately down at the Target. When see it there I know I am meant to have it. It is my destiny. Plus, I am working out almost every day now, so I deserve it. And I'm quite sure I need the antioxidants.
  • At my favorite place, 99c Only, I found a cool drink called Switch! My kids think it is soda pop. I know it is 100% juice. They drank a ton of it in Fruit Punch flavor with our Mountain Mike's pizza last night. Yeah yeah, I know, kids are not supposed to have a lot of juice, either. But you know it is better than soda. And you need something fizzy with your pizza.
  • Z now has bangs. Just light straight-across bangs. She looks more than ever like Dora the Explorer. Appropriate, because the whole theme of her just-begun potty training experience is Dora. She has a Dora potty and Dora panties and a new Dora dolly. So far this week we are up to 4 poops and 1 pee in the Dora potty. Pretty good, I think. We favor the Kimya Dawson "Peepee in the Potty" song. My brother J tried to turn us on to Kimya years ago. Why didn't I listen? She is fabulously funny, with enough potty humor even for my big boys. Including G.
  • I think Z thinks she actually Dora. Evidence: she calls Dora "Wohwa." She also calls herself "Wohwa." Today she was going down for a nap with her two stuffed bunnies - "my nunny," she calls each one of them. I said, "Two bunnies are going to sleep!" She said, "An Wohwa!" She was planning to go to sleep with them. Awww.
  • Z also is very in tune with things going on above her. For the first time in several months, we have had clouds in the sky this week. Every time we go outside, she halts and points in wonder, often yelling, "Mom!" When I acknowledge and name the clouds, she is satisfied. I don't think most kids would do this. I know we all think our kids are special. But doesn't this seem special to you?
  • Speaking of special, K told me about a dream he had. He has really vivid dreams right now and usually ends up sleeping on the floor beside my bed. (I have turned mean and don't let kids in my bed anymore. I'm still down with the idea of the family bed, but these days I just wanna sleep.) Anyway here was the dream. "I was in a dark room. It was scary. A lot of kids were there. They were scared. I was the leader and I told them, 'It's going to be OK.'" See, special.
  • I am finally finding some success again in dressing G. I used to be able to get him vaguely outdoorsy stuff from Sierra Trading Post or whatever and he was satisfied. Now I think he thinks he is a little more urban or something. Anyway, the most successful thing right now appears to be lots of Levis stuff (Loose Straight jeans combined with modified cowboy shirts and tattoo-print Ts). You might wonder, shouldn't a 37 year old Ph.D.-to-be dress himself? Well, you would think so. But what he does when faced with the daunting challenge of Shopping is this: Prefer to wear rags.
  • Remember my broken camera? I found the replacement policy that my in-laws bought for me when they bought it for me. Hallelujah for nice in-laws who know my kids are destructive and, rather than trying to tell me how to change the kids, just provide for the contingencies that follow. I'm a lucky lady.
  • New work project now on the rotisserie. It will be a slow roast; I have a faculty committee to report to. But it is a fun one anyway and I am optimistic about persuading them to do some innovative stuff.
  • I am loving the 20-hours-from-home work week. They are hiring my replacement pretty soon, and after than I will probably continue on a similar schedule, just as a freelancer. I have been lucky to be able to continue with benefits as long as I have. The benefit of freelancing is, I can raise my pay myself when it's appropriate.
  • Holy heck, I think my kids are watching Flight of the Conchords. I better go. Not that it's that inappropriate from what I've seen so far, but it ain't no kids' show.