Saturday, March 31, 2007

Off Playing

this is my sisters. I spent five days with them this week. We chatted, we laughed, we shopped (of course we shopped) we just hung out. I couldn't have asked for a better break. I came home refreshed and ready to be a better mom and wife and, I think, closer to my sisters.
Three of us took a car trip to Vancouver, WA. A long drive made shorter by good company and the grand invention of books on tape. Saturday and Sunday were mostly hang out days. We played Pollyanna (I didn't win. I very seldom do) we chatted and read books.
Monday was our big trip to the coast. We started out by making a stop in Beaverton, OR at a huge Japanese grocery store. The place was bigger than my local Albertsons. So fun! I picked up some curry and a box of Hawaiian Host chocolates. I haven't had those since I left BYU-H. After that, we headed to Cannon Beach. We had lunch at Mo's (chili in a bread bowl for me) and were lucky enough to snag a table by the window. There was a man flying a ship kite outside my window. I snapped a picture because I thought it was a very unique kite. I loved sitting there and watching the kite flyers and getting to watch the ocean while I ate. The food was good, but the view is incredible. After lunch, we walked from Mo's to Haystack rock.
The hike there seemed short. We visited and laughed and teased each other. Expressed general sympathy for women who didn't have it as good as we did. All the things good sisters do.

I took a bunch of pictures of the tide pools at haystack. It was a cloudy day so I didn't get the shutter speed I wanted, but some of them came out well regardless.

Right as we were leaving Haystack to walk back to the car, it began to rain. and blow. The walk back to the car seemed twice as far as it should have been. We were soaking wet by the time we got back to the car and I was regretting wearing the short sleeve top I wore because it was cute and not because it was suitible for a day at the coast in spring.
In Seaside, we went to the outlet mall. I ended up buying another purse. I seem to have a bag issue these days. We didn't head back to Vancouver until well after dark.
Tuesday, we woke up bright and early and headed to my sister's aerobics class. Dang. They exercise for an hour and that day the teacher decided to do step. My calves were burning for three days after that. I was also introduced to the fun of Sweet Tomatoes. Loved it! We need one around here.

We came home on Wednesday. On the way home, we stopped at Multnoma Falls. They are just gorgeous. The hike to the bridge is short and totally worth it. I took a lot more pictures than that one, but it's the ubiquitous shot and I liked it. (although I really wish we could have visited in the afternoon so the sun wasn't glaring at the top of the frame.) I won't bore you with the rest.
It's back to real life here. The kids had spring break this week, so they stayed at Grandma's house and it was sort of their vacation. I think Steve was the only one who didn't have a great week. Poor guy. He was happy to see me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Terribly Practical Even at 16, or How I Wanted to Crawl Under a Pew.

My Junior year of high school I was assigned a seat in English right in front of a moderately cute boy with a wicked sense of humor. I had always been the perfect student (it's easy to not get in trouble for talking when your classmates are busy talking to other people,) but he would get me in trouble all the time. He told me jokes and poked my in the back of my neck with a pencil and basically paid my poor attention starved 16 year old self some much wanted attention. (I would like to break hear and point out that I don't think I was really any more pathetic than your average 16 year old. It is my contention that all 16 year old girls are pathetically attention starved. )

I fell into a long, deep pit of Like with him quite quickly. I hung around with him and became what I thought was friends. He never really asked me out and I never came right out and told him how much I Liked him. I was actually quite good at hiding my feelings, honestly, because I had a good friend that had no idea 7 months into the school year. Eventually, however, the word managed to get passed around and he cut me cold starting at the beginning of Senior year.

It hurt but since I never claimed even to myself to love the boy, I got over it moderately quickly. (I was a painfully practical girl even at 16. I knew for a fact that few people actually married their high school crushes and that it's indeed hard to have a relationship with someone you can't even get a date with much less a kiss from. Therefore, it did me no good to Love. So I did the next best thing and Liked instead. See? Painfully practical.) Nevertheless, I did at the time maintain fantasies of being a professional writer someday and would often take my teenage angst to paper, leaving me with some truly embarrassing "journal" entries in which I pour my broken little heart out in the form of letters addressed to the crush. I got over the boy, but not before I stored my precious journal away for posterity in a box.

My first big mistake was showing these writings to my husband a few years after we got married. I had run across the notebook with the letters during a move. I read them again and I was cracking up over my overly emotional ramblings so thought I'd share. He got a kick out of them too. He also managed to file away the name so he could tease me about it for the rest of my life. (I try to tell my husband he's not my brother but he doesn't see what difference that makes.)

My second mistake was actually sitting in the row my parents saved for us at Stake Conference (large, regional LDS church meeting) on Sunday. Sitting right in front of us was my high school crush with his family. Three cute little boys and a wife that looked like a very nice lady. Out of the hundreds of people in that meeting my parents had to sit right behind them. sigh.

My third mistake was pointing out to my husband who this man was sitting in front of us.

"Oh really? ooooh Amy, do you want to go sit next to him?"

snicker. followed by my best death stare, which he is sadly building up an immunity to.

"Do you want me to go talk to him for you?"

I tried to stop him and he responded with the nail in my coffin: "hey, I read those journal letters!"

I came this close to pinching the two year old so I would have an excuse to leave the chapel. Needless to say I did not have a nice chat with my old friend after the meeting. It was a bit strained and akward. hmmm. wonder why. Maybe because my husbands voice is louder than he thinks it is.

The only thing worse than 16 year old idiocy is being reminded of your idiocy 16 years later.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Monday Menu

another week, another menu.

Monday: pot roast
Tuesday: chicken with cream pan sauce
Wednesday: Spagetti
Thursday: BBQ beef sandwiches and potato salad
Friday: ??? (I'm hoping to squeeze in a date with my sweetie)

Saturday morning I leave for a vacation with my sisters. Steve and the kids stay here. I'm really looking forward to the trip. This is the first time my sisters and I have done a get a way like this and I don't see when we will do it again. This one will involve a day trip to the OR. coast as well.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Best Kind of Hand-me-downs

This yellow dress is my yellow dress. My mother made it for me when I was a toddler. The flowers around the bottom are all hand cross stitched. (you can tell I was born in the 70's can't you?)
Libby is the fourth little girl to wear this dress. I have pictures of Sarah and Marilla in it also. Somewhere there is a picture of me in it as well. I love that connection.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Monday Menu Day

another week, another menu. (which I'm coming up with as I'm typing this, which is why I'm doing these menu posts in the first place.)

Monday: ravioli with alfredo
Tuesday: beef stir fry (didn't get made last week due to last minute schtuff.)
Wednesday: chicken enchiladas
Thursday: Steak and potatoes
Friday: Soup and fresh bread (still need to decide what kind.)
Saturday: leftovers, pick up night

now I just need to print this up and hang it on my fridge so I remember. ;)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

What to do with cream

I was reading a blog called The Lazy Organizer a couple of months ago and she talked about how she oraganized her fridge. She mentioned that she buys heavy cream in small quantities because it always goes bad before she can use it all. I get that. I used to totally hoard my cream and only buy it for special occasions. These days, however, I buy it by the quart and go through nearly two quarts a month. I thought I would post a few things that I do with it just for fun.

1. There's always fudge, of course. It's nice to have the cream on hand for that at all times. Deserts in general tend to call for heavy cream, if only to just have fresh whipped cream for the top. Surprisingly, I don't use my cream for deserts and candy that often.

2. Alfredo. The only way to do it is with heavy cream. I have two recipes that I use and I choose which one depending on how much time I want to spend on it.

version 1: 6 T heavy cream, 2 T butter, 2/3 c parmesan cheese, 8 oz pasta

cook the pasta and drain. toss with the butter then add the cream and cheese and toss to coat. This is my quick, side dish recipe. I use it when I want dinner on the table fast and I don't want to fuss over it.

version 2: 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, 2 T butter, 1/4 t pepper, 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1/8 t nutmeg (optional) 9 oz pasta

bring 1 c of cream and the butter to a simmer over medium heat. reduce the heat to low ans simmer gently until the mixture reduces to 2/3 cup (12-15 minutes.) off the heat, stir in remaining cream, 1/2 t salt, and pepper. while the cream reduces, cook the pasta in salted water until just shy of al dente. reserve 1/4 c pasta water, then drain. Return the pasta to the pot and add the cream mixture, cheese and nutmeg. cook on low heat, tossing the pasta until the cheese is melted, the sauce coats the pasta, and the pasta is just al dente, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the reserved pasta water (this keeps the sauce from congeling.) Serve in a heated bowl. This is the recipe I use when I am doing alfredo as my main dish. It takes a bit more fuss, but not a lot more time. I usually add grilled or pan fried chicken breast to this.

It's important to keep your butter the real thing and the parmesan the grated variety, not the powdered Kraft stuff. You can buy small triangles of Parmesan in the refrigerator case. It's usually right next to the Ricotta. It's not the best, but it's affordable and certainly better than the powder stuff. If you can get and can afford the good stuff, by all means, use it. I'll just sit here and be jealous. Traditionally, alfredo is used on fettuccini noodles. Their broad surface is perfect for the sauce to cling to. I find that bow tie noodles work well with this sauce, too, and they are easier for my little ones to eat.

3. My other favorite thing to do with cream is a pan sauce. Pan fry either pork chops or chicken breast in butter or olive oil (your choice and they each have their own flavor so work with whatever strikes your fancy that day.) remove the meat and set aside. Turn the heat to low. Stir into the pan 2 t flour, and 1/2-1t of your favorite herb (dried. if you have fresh it will be even better.) Oregono, basil, rosemerry, etc, all work very well. When the flour is mixed well with the oils and fat in the pan, add 2/3 c cream. Let the cream simmer up and reduce for a few minutes as you stir in the roux (that fat and flour mix already in the pan.) when it's thickened, pour it over your chicken or pork and serve. This is a very fast dish to make; less than five minutes after you pull the meat from the pan dinner is on the table. You choices of herb and fat change the dish, so you can shake it up and serve something different the next time you make it.

There are a few other things I do with cream, but for the most part, these three things cover it. I know that I don't have a huge readership, but I thought a few of these things might be helpful for someone. Have fun with it and get yourself some cream. ;)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Menu Planning

two posts in two days? I know! I'll bet you are feeling pretty darn lucky right now, aren't ya?

There's a food blog I read sometimes that posts the weeks menu every Monday. She's more foddie than I, so it's just mildly intresting to look and see what sort of things she'll be putting in front of her family that week. Mostly, I just think it's a great idea to get a menu up there.

Here's ours:
Monday: Skillet Lasagne
Tuesday: BBQ Beef Sandwiches (made with leftover roast)
Wednesday: Chicken Alfredo
Thurdsay: Beef Stir Fry
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday: leftovers
Sunday: Beef Roast

Now I just have to stick to it. ;)

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Trouble with Parking

Saturday night Steve and I headed out for a date. It wasn't going to be a long one because we left Sarah in charge. Since she hasn't done much in the way of babysitting, we left after bedtime and after the youngest ones had already fallen asleep. This meant that nothing was open except Coldstone (gotta love small town life.) We got our ice cream and then took it up the hill to this great overlook a few blocks from our house. It's on property owned by the city so there's all these "no trespassing" signs but they are easy to ignore because it's a really good spot to sit and talk with a fabulous view of the valley.

So we get up there and NPR is playing smooth jazz and the moon is full. It was lovely and we were having a great talk about our busy week and some plans we are making (along with a few obligitory jokes about "parking" followed by the obligitory kiss) when the car dings at us. We had been sitting there for 20 minutes with the radio running and the heater fan going (no idea why, because the car wasn't running so the fan was blowing cold air.) Steve immediately tried to start the car. It groaned at him, quietly though because there wasn't enough power to groan loadly. We had drained our battery on NPR Jazz. It was for a good cause though. Parents of five don't get out much. I have no clue why the car didn't ding before the battery was too far gone to restart the car.

Luckily we were three blocks from home. Not so luckily I was wearing date shoes, three inch wedges that look adorable on but are not so adorable to walk in. I was also wearing a light jacket when the temp was in the 30's. We trudged down the hill on the lovely rutted dirt road laughing about how we were very glad we didn't have to tell anybody's father we ran down a car battery "parking."

We got the van, jumped the car, and I drove the van back to the house while Steve followed in his car. I hopped in and we went for a drive to get the battery charged back up. All in all, the date lasted twice what we planned on it lasting because of our little car mishap. We were also very glad our favorite hill was so close to home.

I think we have learned our lesson on that one . . . next time we go parking we'll take a battery powered radio instead of using the one in the car. Steve's got a set of speakers for his MP3 player anyway. Maybe I can get him to put together a parking playlist. ;)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Catching Up

So, yeah. I haven't written in a while. Life got kind of busy. Steve was gone to a conference for three days and it just so happened to be three days that got very busy for me. Before that we were working on the house and buying cars.

Plural. We bought two. I now drive every day a beautiful 2005 Grand Caravan. Navy Blue. it was a good deal, so we splurged a bit. Steve drives a 2001 Buick Regal. Grandpa Brown. Yes, I tease him about driving a grandpa car. We were looking for a compact that got great gas milage when we found that one. It actually gets 30mpg, so it's respectable and better than the van he was driving.

I was going to post pictures of the new van, but I haven't taken any yet. I'm quite proud of it though. It's so nice to drive in a pretty car every day rather than a beater. The car I had been driving around was a 1990 caravan (no grand) in gun metal gray peeling paint that had be spray painted to keep the rust off. The paint didn't quite match. It was paid for, however, and that counts for a lot in this house.

In other news, I've been crafty. I finally finished Rilla's stocking:

If you click on the picture, you should get a big version that will let you see details. This silly thing took hours, and let me tell you, by the end I was done, done, done. I'm beginning to think that cross stitch stockings are my own personal form of self torture.

So of course I needed to do something just for fun:

This is a placemat purse, and yes, that means it was made with a placemat. I added ribbon (that does match in real life) and seed beads. The Seed beads and the beaded handle I bought already strung together so don't go getting too impressed. ;) It only took a couple of hours to put it together including the hand sewing of the seed beads onto the purse. I have another one I'm going to work on this afternoon. These suckers are fun. I may have to set up an Etsy shop to sell them just so I have an excuse to make them.