July 31, 2007

The End of the Summer

We went back to the cabins in Sedona/Oak Creek Canyon again over the weekend. We had a great time. The weather was lovely, and we had wonderful people (her and her and their families, plus J & K) to share it with. We also celebrated Mary's 6th birthday. (I forgot to bring my camera. Bummer.)

We still have one more (whew) vacation this summer. Tomorrow we are off to the ranch in New Mexico for 5 days. And then school starts! Yikes! I won't be blogging again until after that. I promise I will finish my "Ohio Trip" posts then.

July 26, 2007

Ohio Trip - Part 3


Day 4 - Saturday, July 14th

First thing after breakfast we headed down south to Hiram, Ohio, to the Johnson Farm, where the prophet Joseph Smith lived for a while and received some of the revelations contained in the Doctrine and Covenants. It was wonderful to tour the home and grounds and feel the spirit of the great work of the gospel going forth.

The kids were impressed with a huge rock at the farm. It was just sitting there in the middle of a large lawn.... waiting for some curious children to climb aboard...... and then jump!
Then we drove back through more Amish areas.... Middlefield and Mesopotamia. I was amused by the name when my dad said we were going there, but I laughed out loud when I saw this funny sign outside the cute old-fashioned general store, "End of the Commons," in Mespo (as it is affectionately called). Click on it for a closer look.
I enjoyed looking at the merchandise catering to the Amish, and again couldn't resist purchasing a few small items... a delicious granola, whole wheat "ABC" pasta, and a bean soup mix.

Grandpa treated us all to tasty old-fashioned rootbeer.

While we sipped our sodas, my dad, not surprisingly, introduced himself to this fellow parked outside the store, and spent about 15 minutes quizzing him about his horse.

We got a kick out of the little barefoot Amish boys (they looked about 9 or 10 years old) who rode up to the market in their tiny 2-wheeled buggy pulled by a pony, bought ice cream and rootbeer (for floats?) and headed off again... much faster than a bike or scooter.

When we got back to Kirtland, my parents had to work an afternoon shift at the Isaac Morley Farm. Since it's pretty quiet there, and they have a private, roomy office, my mom suggested that we leave the kids with them for a few hours while Jay and I went in to Cleveland, about 20 minutes from Kirtland. Jay really wanted to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and it sounded fun. It's interesting....and pricey.... and much larger than I expected! We were there for several hours, and we practically ran through, and we still didn't see everything.

We returned to find our children completely enchanted by "Grandma's Magical World." My mom has this way of making every little thing seem magical and exciting. She is amazing that way. She had shown them a "fairy land" behind the office.... a small grassy circular area surrounded by trees and shrubs, and plenty of wildlife. My Mary was thoroughly convinced that fairies would come out when it got dark. Grandma Mary is the ultimate enchantress!
We also explored this little secret garden hidden in the side of a hill, long over grown. It was very mysterious, and the kids ate it up.

That night my sister and her family arrived for the big event the next day.

July 25, 2007


OK. I know I promised you more about your trip. Well, I finally finished reading this tonight.Now I will get back to my life. I will attack the dirty dishes, laundry, bills, etc.

And I will continue blogging.

July 19, 2007

Ohio Trip - Part 2


Day 3 - Friday, July 13th

In the morning, my parents took us to the Farmpark, one of the Cleveland area Lake Metroparks that happens to be located right in Kirtland. We all tried our hand at milking a cow and grooming a horse........ petting sheep and piglets........watching a border collie herd sheep, marveling at llamas and alpacas, and learning about bees, plants, and gardening.
After lunch, my parents were off to their afternoon assignment giving tours of Historic Kirtland, so we took the opportunity to enjoy a "VIP" tour of the Visitors' Center.........Newel K. Whitney Store and home, the sawmill and ashery, and the schoolhouse. We also met a lot of other missionaries who confirmed my suspicions that my mom and dad are well-loved by all of them.
We also viewed the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Exhibit in the visitors' center, which was quite impressive. After the tour, we all (even me and Jay) tried out the tree swing out back.
Since my parents had to work through dinner, and the kids were hungry (and Jay wanted pizza), we took off in my parents' car with their Garmin nuvi (nicknamed "Helga")... the coolest gadget in the world.... to find some decent pizza. (Without it, we would have gone insane trying to find our way around. But with it, we could head off on our own and we never got lost. We gotta get one of those.)

After dinner we attended a performance at the stake center of "This is Kirtland," a musical written, directed, and performed by members of the Kirtland Stake. I was expecting "stake road show" entertainment, but was blown away by how professional it was, from the singing and dancing, to the costumes and set. It was really fun, and the kids loved it too.

Afterward, we went out for ice cream at the local joint. While we ate our ice cream on the lawn, a teenager mentioned to her friend that it was Friday the 13th, and I thought what a perfect day it had been.

July 18, 2007


I cracked up when Jay showed me his Simpson's avatar. Those of you who know Jay will agree it's "right on." I couldn't resist created my own, which isn't as good as Jay's, but oh well. Actually, I wish I were this skinny in real life.....

Ohio Trip - Part 1

Well, I'm back, and getting back into the swing of things. We had a wonderful trip, and I can't wait to tell you all about it. But I will have to do it in parts, because there is a lot to tell! Everything was perfect, including the weather (mid-70's and clear skies the whole week), and we all had a great time. Grandpa and Grandma were the perfect hosts (of course), and we were all so glad to see them and spend time with them.

Day 1 - Wednesday, July 11th
The kids were absolutely thrilled to take their first airplane ride. They were very anxious to board the plane (thank goodness for pre-boarding for those with young children) with their backpacks full of snacks and activities to keep them occupied on the nearly 4 hour flight from Phoenix to Cleveland. The 3 kids sat in their own row, while Jay and I sat across the aisle. They starting giggling when the plane began to taxi down the runway, which led to hysterical laughter when it started to pick up speed, and increased as we lifted off the ground. They finally settled down when we reached cruising altitude. The passengers around us were all quite amused (thankfully). The kids were super well-behaved on the flight, and lots of people commented afterward at how impressed they were, since it was obviously their first flight.

My parents picked us up at the airport, and since the next day was their P-Day, instead of returning to their house in Kirtland, they took us on a lovely drive through Holmes County to "Dutch Amish Country," stopping for dinner along the way. We checked-in to the Dutch Host Inn in Dover, Ohio where we spent the night. We explored the lovely grounds, and as evening came the kids were delighted to have their first experience with fire flies!
My mom also caught a small toad for them to hold, which my city-raised kids thought was very funny... and a little scary. It all brought back wonderful memories of my days in Nauvoo, Illinois. It's a magical world when the sun goes down.

Day 2 - Thursday, July 12th
The next morning we visited the Warther Museum there in Dover, which was fascinating! I had no interest in wood carving or trains before we went, but I was absolutely enthralled the whole time. The kids really enjoyed it too.
The grounds were lovely, and we found the old play house hidden in the hill that "Mooney" Warther made for his children. He was a fascinating man! We bought a little replica (made by his grandson in the family owned and operated business) of the wood pliers that Warther first whittled, and a little Christmas ornament to remember our trip.Then we drove through Amish Country to Guggisberg Cheese in Millersburg where we watched them make cheese and sampled some of their delicious cheeses, including their famous original baby swiss, which is wonderful. I bought this wonderful cheese planer that my mom said was excellent, and it is.
We continued through the countryside, marveling at all the Amish along the way (especially the cute children), and their quaint clothes and method of travel. (Though it would be hard to give up a lot of our modern conveniences, I can't help envying them their simpler life... especially not feeling tied to a computer. I had to read 61 emails... and reply to most of them.... when I got home. Arghh!)

Then we made our way to Lehman's in Kidron, a sort of Amish department store, where we looked at the amazing variety of products while sipping old fashioned sodas. I couldn't resist buying these darling cookie cutters... for only 69 cents each! (2nd from bottom on left is Arizona)
Then we made our way to beautiful Kirtland, Ohio to my parents' cute little 100 year old house just a few yards away from the Kirtland Temple. We settled in and then sat down to a delicious dinner that my mom threw together in just a few minutes, out of practically nothing. (I don't know how she does it.) They have a large yard surrounded by trees and a gully where the kids had a great time playing. I fell in love with the area, and I would move there in a heart beat if Jay had a job there.... and if we could live in the gorgeous nearby neighborhood of Waite Hill. (There's the catch.) But I think I would hate it there in the winter. Maybe just a summer home......

I'll be back with more tomorrow.... and the day after.

July 10, 2007

I'm on vacation.....

.... and I will be back with (hopefully) lots to blog about on July 18th.

In the meantime, read some of the blogs found through the links on the right.

What did you say?

Last week, I was in Wal-Mart with Jack. Someone nearby said something to their shopping companion in Spanish. Jack's eyes widened, and he said, "Mommy, why are they talking Spanish?" I suppressed a laugh and tried to think of an appropriate answer for a 3-year-old. Finally, I said, "Well, because that's the way they talk."

Then it occurred to me to be surprised that my 3-year-old understood that our fellow Wal-Mart patrons were speaking a foreign language, let alone knowing that it was Spanish (for indeed it was).

Before Jack could ask more questions (I knew he wouldn't be satisfied with my rather lame response) I asked him, "Jack, how did you know they were speaking Spanish?" He just shrugged and said, "I just do." (I suspect he knew I wouldn't be satisfied with his response.)

Then I asked, "Jack, do you speak Spanish?" He looked at me like I was crazy, and said (with obvious disgust in his voice), "No, mommy." (Duh.) So, I asked, "What language do you speak?" Another shrug.... "I just talk like Jack!" Oh. OK.

So, he knows Spanish when he hears is, but doesn't know what English is. A few days later, when he heard some people speaking in a thick Scottish brogue, Jack giggled, and announced, "Mommy, they are talking Spanish!" Not so smart, are you Jack?

But then again, it did sort of sound like Spanish.....

July 06, 2007

The Fix-it Man

Jay is very good at fixing things. If he can't fix it, he can usually "rig" it somehow. Back in the days when he used to ride the city bus to work, a bus load of cranky commuters were going to be forced to sit and wait for a replacement bus because the escape hatch on the roof had come open (apparently the latch had broken). Everyone was very grumpy and just wanted to get home. Jay didn't just sit there. He got a paper clip, climbed up on the seat, and "wired" the door shut. Everyone cheered, and the bus driver shrugged and said, "Good enough for me. Let's go!"

Yes, Jay's handy-man skills are a blessing.... most of the time. Our 10-year old oven broke this week (see previous post), and it looked like we would have to get a new oven. I was secretly pleased (no, I did NOT break it myself) and was dreaming of a sleek new appliance, when Jay said, "Ha. I can fix that." Oh shoot.

Sure enough, we ordered the necessary part, and it was delivered to our door within a few days. Darn. Now it's installed and working just fine. It will probably last us another 10 years. Oh well.

Now, what should I make for dinner tonight?

July 05, 2007

What to make for dinner....

.... when your oven and stove are out-of-order..... or you just want to avoid heating up your kitchen on a hot summer day.

On Sunday evening, I pulled dinner from the oven and noticed a small fire inside. I wasn't worried, but I was on the phone, so I put Jay to work on it. He doused it with baking soda. Nothing. It just kept going. So, we figured it would burn itself out eventually, and closed the door. About 30 minutes later, it was still burning, and the element broke. Jay finally turned off the breaker, and I've been left without stove or oven since then.

So, the next day (Monday) I made for dinner....

Your favorite pizza dough
Your favorite pizza sauce
Your favorite pizza toppings
One hot grill
Pizza peel (or cookie sheet with no lip/edges)

Heat grill on medium. If you don't have an upper rack, turn the flame completely off on one side. Generously dust pizza peel with cornmeal. Roll or stretch dough (no larger than the space you have on the grill) and place on peel. Add sauce and toppings. Slide pizza off peel onto upper rack of grill (or the side without a flame); turn flame to just above low. (If you've never grilled pizza, this will take some trial and error.... every grill is different.) Close cover and cook about 5 minutes (again, every grill is different, so you just have to check).
[*You need the peel to remove the pizza from the grill, so if you want to put another pizza on after the first one finished cooking, you need either 2 peels, 2 cookie sheets (with no edge), or (like me) 1 peel and 1 cookie sheet. That way you can prepare a second pizza while the first one is cooking.]

Serve with your favorite SALAD.

On Tuesday, I grilled hamburgers (and for myself, a Gardenburger), and served them with... you guessed it, salad.

On Wednesday, I didn't have to cook (here's why), and tonight I made....

Herb Foccacia
Peppered Turkey breast
Havarti cheese
Apple, peeled and thinly sliced

Slice bread horizontally. Put a slice of cheese on each half; add slices of apple and turkey in the middle. Cook in panini press or contact grill (I love mine) about 2 minutes on medium heat.

Happy Independence Day!

We enjoyed our traditional neighborhood breakfast (pancakes, bacon, sausage, fruit, danishes, muffins, milk and orange juice), flag ceremony, and kids' parade, followed by shaved iced.... a necessity at that point.

Jack and Mary were pleased to decorate their bikes and ride in the (thankfully, very short) parade.

Collin missed it this year because he is spending the (entire!) week with his cousins at our family cabin. It's been strange having him gone, and we miss him. I hear he has been a little homesick. We will be glad to have him back on Saturday.

After the parade, we chilled out for a while, ate lunch, took naps (a must for the kids since we knew it would be a very late night), and then joined the Thomases for swimming, and a delicious meal of grilled chicken, hot dogs, fruit (watermelon, cantaloupe, cherries, strawberries, and grapes), "Cowboy Caviar," chips, homemade rootbeer, Izze, and frosted sugar cookies. We had to leave before tasting the cheesecake (decorated in "stars and stripes") in order to meet up with Jay's family for Icees, salt water taffy, and fireworks.

Good grief. I ate a lot of food yesterday. But I did NOT eat cheesecake.

July 03, 2007

Summer Salad Salute

I like to eat salads..... just about any kind. I think a lot of men don't like salad, but Jay does, thank goodness. However, I didn't like salad when I was a kid, and I never thought I would be able to get my kids to eat it without an excessive amount of whining, complaining, pleading, forcing, gagging, and frustration. And since my children willingly eat all kinds of vegetables, I didn't bother preparing salads for my family. But I missed eat them. (Salads, I mean.)

Then one day (about 2 years ago) I learned that my friend's 3 young boys all eat salad. I felt guilty for never even trying. So, I started with just a few leaves of lettuce with my homemade dressing. I served it on a salad plate by itself, before the main course, so the kids were required to eat it before they would be served anything else. It was only 3 small pieces of lettuce, so it was really no big deal. The first time was a little scary for them, but they did well.

After a couple of weeks of eating their miniature "salad" for dinner every day, I increased the amount of lettuce and added other things.... spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and croutons. The olives and croutons were easy.... they already liked those. The spinach was new, but they took to it right away. The tomatoes took a little longer, but we got there. The cucumbers were the hardest. I only have one who still complains about the cucumbers, though he eats them because he knows mom won't give in.

Within a few months, all three kids were eating a good-sized portion of salad, right on their plate with everything else. I only have to remind them to eat their salad first, and they do. It's been a more than a year now, and they all eat it willingly... sometimes they even ask for more! And it has made them more adventurous and willing to try new things.

The key is to find dressing that they like. Here is my kids' favorite.

1 c. canola oil
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. sour cream
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
2 T. sugar
2 tsp. dry parsley flakes
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
Course ground pepper, to taste

Combine and whisk until smooth. [This is also great for pasta salad.]

And some of our favorite salads.

Red leafy lettuce
Black olives
Red onion
Croutons (or chunks of crusty bread)
Creamy Garlic Vinaigrette

Bowtie or Penne Pasta
Snow Peas (in the pod, or just frozen peas)
Carrots, julienned
Black Olives
Sliced grilled chicken
Fresh grated parmesan cheese
Creamy Garlic Vinaigrette

Red or green leafy lettuce (a mix is good)
Green onions
Red onion
Sliced almonds
Chow Mein noodles
Slices of grilled chicken (optional)
Red Wine Vinaigrette

4 T. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. olive oil
6 T. red wine vinegar
1-2 T. lemon juice

Leafy lettuce
Red Onion
Oranges, peeled and sliced
Strawberries, sliced
Candied Almonds or Pecans
Poppy Seed Dressing

1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
3/4 c. canola oil
3/4 T. poppy seeds
1/3 tsp. dry mustard
1/3 c. sugar
3/4 T. salt

Mix in blender.

1/2 c. sugar
1 c. almonds (sliced) or pecans (whole or pieces)
Put sugar in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir constantly until sugar starts to melt. Add nuts and continuing stirring until sugar turns translucent and coats nuts. Spread on cookie sheet to cool.

My kids also like Ceasar Salad, but that hardly counts. I don't make my own dressing; I buy Cardini's. (Romaine, croutons, fresh grated parmesan, and dressing)

July 02, 2007

I got that song stuck in my head......

So, I'm at the check-out at Sam's Club this morning, patiently waiting for the cashier. Suddenly, without warning, Mary breaks into a (rather loud) rendition of "Don't Go Breaking My Heart."

[No, she's not an Elton John fan, but she has seen "Chicken Little" many times. A version of the song is featured during the End Credits.]

I was a little surprised that she knew it so well... all the lyrics too. She is quite a singer.

The cashier didn't seem at all surprised. She just smiled politely.

In the car on the way home, Jack broke into his familiar rendition of "One Little Slip," a song written for the film. It's one of my kids' favorites. It is quite catchy.