April 27, 2007

It's Friday!

Jay finally returned last night from a three-day trip to Salt Lake City for a funeral. We missed him something fierce. (I'm sure glad he doesn't have to travel for work. I would go crazy.) The kids woke up early this morning and attacked him in bed. After spending one night at home, he is leaving this afternoon for Fathers-and-Sons outing with Collin and Jack, but at least that's only one night. (Though for Jay it will seem like an eternity because he hates camping.) Mary and I are going to have a girls-night-in while the boys are away. She is very excited.
My extremely talented sister-in-law featured me on her blog today. I'm kind of embarrassed. The questions were really hard to answer!

April 25, 2007

Charity

I went to the cemetery this afternoon to deliver the promised roses. Mary and Jack sang "I Am a Child of God" for Aunt Charity, and asked me to tell them what she was like as a little girl. I was glad to comply.Charity was a little "butterball".... a real roly poly. She had a little dimple on her nose that Debbie used to say was a swimming pool for tiny fairies. She was very shy, especially around men for some reason. She liked to play with dolls, and always wanted to be a mother, which she is.

Charity was born into a family of performers so she had no choice but to join us, but she never wanted to be the center of attention. She preferred to sit back and let others shine.

When she was a little girl, people always said she looked like a little angel. Well, she is an angel. She always had a strong testimony of the gospel. She knew what was right, and she did it.

Happy Birthday Charity. I love you.

On a roll

Holy cow this is cute! I want to make this so bad, but I'm thinking it might be too ambitious for me.
Super clever and cute though.
(Thank you, Skip To My Lou.)

April 24, 2007

Go Suns!

My Phoenix Suns just won game 2 against the Lakers in the Western Conference play-offs. Take that Kobe. And yesterday cutie-patootie Barbosa won the 6th Man Award. Now for Steve Nash to win MVP again.Go Suns!

April 23, 2007

I'm an idiot....

WARNING: Never use scissors for any purpose other than originally intended.

I'm ashamed to say I learned this lesson the hard way. On Thursday evening I was preparing dinner. Jay had just arrived home, but took an important call from work on his cell phone, and went to the bedroom for some privacy. I reached for the olive oil and realized the bottle was empty. I went to the pantry to retrieve a new bottle, and tried to open it. It was one of those lids with a twist off seal ring that snaps the first time you open it. Well, this particular seal was just spinning, and I couldn't get the lid off. I knew Jay (the ultimate fix-it-guy) would come up with a (safe) solution, but I didn't want to interrupt him. So, I foolishly took the task upon myself. I noticed a tiny gap in the perforated seal, and figured I could wedge a scissor tip in there and pry it off. I've done this kind of thing a hundred times, with success, so I guess I was due for a failure. I will spare you the gory details. (There was a bit of blood.) I will just say that I ended up at the local urgent care facility, and came home with stitches in my very sore hand, and an extremely stiff shoulder from a wicked tetanus shot.

April 22, 2007

Another Recipe

Well, I never meant for this to be a blog about food or recipes, but I can't help sharing good recipes when I come across them. (I guess it's because I spend a good part of my life cooking and baking for my family and other people.) So, here I go again.

I love (and often crave) the "Dan Dan Noodles" from Pei-Wei/P.F. Chang's. (My mouth is watering right now, and I'm not even hungry.) I found a recipe that claimed to replicate this delicious dish, and decided to give it a try. I had to adapt a little, but it turned out great. Jay thought it tasted just like the real thing. Here is how I adapted the recipe:

It calls for ground chicken. I don't own a meat grinder, and I wasn't about to go to the trouble of making a special request from the butcher. So, I just boiled a couple of chicken breasts and diced them really small. Plus, that gave me the chicken stock required for the recipe.

Also, I didn't have time to venture to an Asian market to find the soba noodles, so I substituted angel hair pasta (that's what I had in my pantry), and it was just as good. Instead of cooking wine, I used Rice Wine Vinegar, because I had some on hand. I did buy oyster sauce and chili paste, which are easy to come by in grocery stores in the Asian section, but I forgot to buy the bean sprouts to go on top. Jay didn't miss those, but I like the crunch they provide.

Here is the recipe as I made it:DAN DAN NOODLES
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T. olive oil
3 green onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. chili paste (not chili sauce)
1/2 c. soy sauce
2 T. rice wine vinegar
1-2 T. oyster sauce
1 T. sugar
2 c. chicken stock
2-3 T. cornstarch
1 (16 oz.) pkg. angel hair pasta, cooked
1 large cucumber, julienned
Bean sprouts

Boil chicken in enough water to cover (you don't need to add salt because of the soy sauce) until tender (about 20 minutes), finely dice, and set aside. Combine soy sauce, chili paste, vinegar, oyster sauce, sugar, chicken stock, and cornstarch in a bowl; whisk until smooth; set aside. In a wok or large skillet, briefly saute onion and garlic in hot oil. Add liquid mixture; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until thick. Stir in chicken. Serve over cooked noodles, garnished with cucumbers and bean sprouts.

April 21, 2007

Eat Cake - Part 2

Well, here is another favorite cake recipe. It was given to me by a college roommate, and it's my dad's favorite.

Applesauce Spice Cake
2 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. butter, soft
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 c. applesauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Cream butter and sugar, then beat in eggs and applesauce. Stir in dry ingredients. Bake in greased 9 x 13" cake pan for about 45 minutes. (I've never done so, but I'm sure you could bake this in 2 rounds, though you would need to adjust the baking time.) Frost with "Grandma Frosting." (see recipe below)

Grandma Frosting
2 c. powdered sugar
6 T. butter, soft
1 (scant) T. flour
1 egg white
2 T. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. lemon extract

Beat until fluffy. Adjust milk and sugar to reach the desired consistently. (It shouldn't be too stiff.)

April 20, 2007

Eat Cake

I just finished a book I can recommend; "Eat Cake" by Jeanne Ray. It is a light-hearted, easy, enjoyable read.
There are a few minor "PG" references, but otherwise it's totally clean. You may borrow my copy if you like.

As for cake, here is one of my favorite (and most requested) recipes, so you can make and eat some cake of your own.

Poppy Seed Cake
3 eggs
2 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. milk
1 1/8 c. canola oil
1 1/2 T. poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 tsp. butter flavor
3 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix eggs, sugar, milk, oil, seeds and extracts. Add dry ingredients and combine. Pour into large bundt pan (filling only 2/3 full) and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Prepare glaze (recipe below) while the cake is baking. When baking is complete, remove and let cool 5 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack. Immediately pour on glaze, covering entire cake well. *HINT: Place a cookie sheet under the cooling rack while you pour glaze so that you can catch the excess that drips off the cake and add it back on.

GLAZE:
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. orange juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. butter flavor

Combine and stir until sugar dissolves.

April 13, 2007

What's Opera, Doc?

I'd like to think my 3-year-old is a genius. However, I have to admit that genius isn't the reason that Jack goes around singing Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen."

Instead, I have to admit (with some shame) that it's because he has seen this too many times.

It's Jay's fault. But it is kind of funny.

April 10, 2007

Roses

I have always loved roses. I love to look at them, and I love to smell them.
We planted a lot of rose bushes in our yard, and right now they are all blooming like crazy.
I am especially happy to see my Charity roses doing so well. After my sister died, I planted this David Austin variety in her memory.

I love that I get to look out my window and see them and think of Charity. I miss her.
I will take some of these beauties to the cemetery on her birthday later this month.

April 05, 2007

Grandpa Jack

My Grandpa "Jack" was a special person. He never liked his given name... Harold Karren Thomas... so he went by "Jack" from the time he was a young boy. (He named himself after his beloved dog, Jack.) On paper, he was always officially "H.K. Thomas." I've always loved the way that looks. It's so dignified.

Grandpa Jack (my own Jack is so called in memory of him) was a scientist, and in my eyes, a genius. I recall many conversations with him during which he would try to expand my knowledge of science. I never seemed to really "get it," but I loved listening to him anyway. As much as he knew in mortality, I think he always looked forward to the day when he would know everything about the universe. I feel certain that day has come.

Shortly before Grandpa died, my cousin, Karren Louise Thomas, had the following experience which she (thankfully) recorded.

"Nine days ago we visited him in the general hospital and looked at his once 6'2", now shrunken frame in the simple metal cot/bed. Although he looked like he would break at a touch, his bright eyes (still keen and quick with wit) were sharp as he lay without movement.

My dad and his sister visited with him like old times, but all I could do was gaze at his hair (he'd dyed it brown for so long, I wasn't used to the long white waves that lay on his pillow).

Without a thought, I noticed the conversations around me had ended and my grandfather had opened his mouth to speak.

I couldn't tell..was he going to say something? With his eyes on the wall, was he just thinking? I began to think about what he must be pondering, contemplating there (with a weak body and strong mind).

He did open his mouth to speak:

"Life unfolds"

Without a thought I wrote it on the pages of the book I'd been reading and I heard nothing else.

As we left the hospital I opened my copy of "Franny and Zooey" and read the words again.

life unfolds

And it scares me, just sitting here, knowing that I will easily forget this and other things, other people, and go on through the new year, and the following years..and then suddenly remember, after it is open and unfolded, how it happened all the while I wasn't watching.

In Loving Memory of
Harold Karren Thomas
July 1910 - December 2001"

Thank you Karren.

Don't forget to watch.

April 04, 2007

Reading Recommendation

If you were so unfortunate as to have missed out on reading these books as a child, please don't let it happen to your own children.
(This is the version we own.)

The "Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle" books were always some of my favorites. I thought they were funny and interesting as a child. As a mother, I still find them so, but I also find additional delight in them now. When confronted with a difficult situation in my role as mother, I frequently ask myself, "What would my own mother do?" (She is a saint, you know.) And I also ask, "What would Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle do?" Between them, they have all the answers a parent needs.

April 03, 2007

DVD Recommendation

Jay and I watched this lovely film last weekend. I highly recommend it.

April 01, 2007

Our Family "March Madness"

The Month of March in Review

Collin and Mary had field day at school at the beginning of March. They both came home with ribbons, which was a relief (no tears and resentment). Collin won 3rd place in the softball throw, and Mary won 1st place in the Javelin (a swimming pool noddle). Our kids sure can throw I guess.

We had a garage sale the following week. I am always amazed at the junk people will buy. And they don’t buy the good stuff! Oh well. We made out OK for a few hours work. That’s our babysitting fund.

Spring break was a nice reprieve. Jay took off work early just about every day. We didn’t go out-of-town, unless you count Surprise (which seems like it's about half-way to L.A.)…. we went to visit my sister, and see her new baby. We spent most of the day there, and then picked up Jay at his office and took him home with us. We spent another day at the zoo and had a good time. And on Friday we met Jay downtown and went to lunch, and visited the hotel site. Actually, Jay and Collin toured the hotel, while I hung out at the Arizona Center with Mary and Jack. (They were too young to be on a construction site.) They enjoyed playing in all the water fountains, and we got ice cream to make them feel better about missing out on the tour. We took the free bus (The Dash) around the downtown area, which the kids thought was cool.

The celebration of Jay’s 30-something-th birthday had to be postponed due to me getting sick on the very day. Instead of making the filet mignon dinner I had planned, I went to bed and Jay took the kids to What-a-Burger. Oh well.

We had a fun ward party last weekend. They had karaoke, but few people volunteered. So, the M.C. started announcing people as the next act, unbeknownst to the performers. He would get people up on the stage, and then announce the song they would be singing… which would surprise even the singers. Jay and I got chosen for “Love Shack.” Jay did a great job and was hilarious. I, on the other hand, couldn’t even sing because I was laughing so hard. Jay definitely stole the show.

The next night we hosted a going-away party for our friends who are moving to California. It was originally supposed to be in our backyard, but we had 15 families RSVP, so we moved it to my parents' yard. (Thanks Mom and Dad!) It turned out really fun. I was really worried it was going to rain, but the weather turned out to be perfect. The night before, Jay and I (mostly me) stayed up until 1:00 a.m. writing a parody that we sang at the party. It turned out pretty good. It was to the tune of the song “I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers. You wouldn’t get all the inside jokes unless you know Jason King and Jocelyn, but it was pretty clever, and we got some good laughs.

The next night we had dinner with my cousin's family. They are such a great family, and we had a really good time.

Baseball/T-Ball season has started. Collin is playing his second year of coach-pitch baseball, and has improved much since last year. Mary is playing her first year of T-Ball (first sport ever for her), and is enjoying it. She is the ONLY girl on her co-ed team. On the first day of practice, when it came time to find a partner for catch, 5 or 6 boys crowded around her. It was funny. When they line up to take their turn catching a grounder from the coach, or batting, each of the kids runs back to the end of the line after finishing their turn… except Mary. She SKIPS back to the end of the line…. with her head bobbing, and her ponytail swinging. She loves her pink and purple glove, and doesn’t have to worry about it getting mixed up with any of the other gloves.

To finish off the month, we went to the Mesa Arts Center to hear the Mesa Symphony on Saturday night. This was part of Jay’s birthday present. I was quite impressed with the orchestra. I was also excited to finally see the MAC. It is beautiful! We went with some friends, and we had a great time.