February 26, 2009

A Random Photo

For the record, I don't like it when people "tag" me to answer a hundred random questions about myself, or whatever. Those things take too much time. Maybe I'm lazy, maybe I just don't like being told what to blog about. I don't know. That's just how I feel.

Now that I got that off my chest, I have one exception. Kendra tagged me for this random photo thing. I like this because I don't have to answer any silly questions. So, here goes... the 6th photo from the 6th folder.
This is Collin and Jack last summer. It was a Sunday morning and the boys were ready for church, and the girls (yes, "girls".... that includes me) weren't, so the boys were waiting around for us (by the way, we are never late for church... on the contrary, we always go 30 minutes early... long story). Jay snapped this photo of Collin reading to Jack from a technology magazine that Jay brought home from work. Not typical reading material for a 9 year old, but this is normal for Collin. I love that kid.

Notice the evidence of Mary in the Care Bear on the sofa.
Even More "Some Stuff I Want to Remember"

- Just because someone gives you something doesn't mean you have to keep it forever.

- Elephant bullets should be saved for the elephants.

- The world needs people who make things happen.

- You wait all your life for your "prime" only to wake up one morning and find you've missed it!

- If you want to master a certain quality, at as though you already have it.

- If you wait until it's convenient, you will never serve.

- From observation at a great distance, it doesn't seem worth it to be rich and famous.

February 25, 2009

"Some Stuff I Want to Remember"

- Sometimes you're right and sometimes you're wrong, and it's important to know when.

- No one has everything going for them.

- The length of a meeting has absolutely no correlation to its effectiveness.

- Just because a book is in print doesn't mean it's well written.

- An ounce of morning is worth a pound of afternoon.

- Just because you walk around with an expensive planner doesn't mean you're organized.

- It's lots more fun to talk with those who know how to listen.

- No matter how much you have, there is always more to want. Satisfaction comes in wanting what you have.

February 24, 2009

Chicken Soup With Rice

Jack's preschool teacher* (who is absolutely wonderful) uses Maurice Sendak's cute poem "Chicken Soup With Rice" to teach the children the months of the year. They memorize and recite a verse each month. Jack just loves it.

The other day when it rained, it seemed appropriate to make some soup for dinner, and I thought of "Chicken Soup With Rice." I didn't have a recipe, so I made one up with what I had on hand. Everyone loved it... especially Jack.


- 4-6 c. water (I didn't really measure)
- 2 T. chicken soup base (I have a really good one, but if you don't have it, just use bouillon or some chicken stock or broth)
- 1 (13 0z.) can of chicken, or about 1 c. leftover cooked cut-up chicken
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- about 2 c. cooked rice (I happened to have some leftovers. If you don't, then use about 1 c. uncooked, and cook long enough to cook the rice)
- about 1 c. frozen peas and carrots (about half a bag)
- garlic salt & pepper, to taste
- ground ginger, to taste (I used about 1 tsp.)
- about 1 T. dehydrated onion (my husband hates onions, so this is the only thing I'm allowed to use because they are tiny enough that he doesn't notice)
- about 1 T. dry parsley, or 3 T. fresh

Combine in a large pot and heat through, or until rice and veggies are tender.

*If anyone who lives in my area is looking for an awesome preschool teacher, let me know and I will hook you up! She is fantastic!
"Some Stuff I Want to Remember"

- It's easy to be so busy being busy that you never get things done.

- Just because you graduated with a degree in Home Economics doesn't mean you can cook!

- If you need estrogen.... take it!

- If you don't have time now to do it right, you probably won't have time later to do it over.

- The better we like ourselves, the better we can like others.

- Others like you around more if you're flexible and easy to get along with.


This is my favorite filling to use for quesadillas.

-1 can corn, drained
-1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
-shredded chicken (however much you like, or leave it out)
-salsa (enough to season it, but don't add too much or it will be too watery)

Combine in a bowl. Place a flour tortilla on a hot griddle (lightly buttered on one side, if desired). Sprinkle a small amount of grated cheese on half of tortilla, add a scoop of the filling and spread carefully, sprinkle on a little more cheese, and fold tortilla over itself. Cook about 2 minutes, or until browned; flip and repeat. Cut into wedges, and serve with sour cream and more salsa.

February 23, 2009

Food Storage program

My mother-in-law is affectionately known as "The Queen of Food Storage." She has given her presentation many many times, all over the country. She was asked to record a series of presentations to be shown on BYU TV. The first episode is on tonight at 7:00. Also, there is a link on her blog to her presentation on YouTube. It's really good, and worth watching if you have never heard her speak in person, which I know many of you have.
More "Some Stuff I Want to Remember"

- A lost item will be found as soon as it isn't needed.

- It's O.K. to beg the Lord.

- When it comes to communication, timing is very important.

- Kids don't stay little forever.

- You don't necessarily get what you pay for.

- The best way to get a child to come home on time, is to praise him for coming home on time every chance you get.

Spaghetti Sauce

There are certain things I think probably everyone has in their pantry, one of which is at least a jar or two of a favorite pasta sauce. Mine is Trader Joe's Tomato Basil Marinara. Yummy, all natural, and inexpensive. Perfect! It's great to have on hand for a quick dinner (especially with Trader Joe's cheese tortellini).

But when you want to make an awesome meat sauce from scratch, this is the recipe to use. It is from my Italian brother-in-law's mother. It's very good. It makes a ton, so I freeze it in quart zipper bags.

6 lb. 10 oz. can tomato sauce (Sam's Club, Costco)
1 lb. ground beef, sausage, or turkey
4 T. olive oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. dry thyme
1/2 tsp. dry rosemary
1/2 cup dry parsley
3 1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1 tsp. basil
1 1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Brown meat, onion, and garlic in oil. Add remaining ingredients and simmer at least 3 hours.

February 22, 2009

Le Artiste

Recently I had to take Jack with me to an appointment. To keep him busy and out of my way, I sat him down at a table and gave him a piece of scrap paper and a pen from my purse. This is what he created during the next 20 minutes.
I was pretty impressed that it was so detailed and careful. I asked him what it was, and he responded without hesitation.... "A robot knight."

I think I see it.

Blue Skies and a Pink Ball

Yesterday was a gorgeous day, so we had a family picnic at a nearby park. We found a perfect spot under a shady tree and right next to the lake. Collin and Jack brought their scooters, and Mary wore her roller skates, and the kids had a good time riding around the park. Collin also brought his football and tossed it around with Jay for a while. It was absolutely beautiful, and we hated to leave.

Collin lay down in the grass next to me and said, "Mom, we should do this every day." And I thought, yeah, that would be nice. It's too bad our lives are so busy that we can't find time every day to stop, eat a meal outside, and just relax and enjoy being together. My response to Collin was, "Well, we probably can't do this every day, but let's definitely do it more often."

At least while the weather is nice.

One of the many other families at the park was a young couple with their toddler... she looked to be about 18 months old. She was carrying a pink ball... it was just one of those cheap little balls that you can get for a couple of bucks at the grocery in those big bins, but you could tell she was very attached to it.

As they made their way closer to the lake, her attentive parents warned her not to get too close, but sure enough, she did... and dropped her ball and it rolled into the lake and began floating further and further away from the bank. Of course, the little girl was distressed. Like I said, it was a cheap ball, and I'm sure her parents could have easily replaced it.

However, another man and his son were driving a remote-controlled boat around in the lake. When they saw the little girl's predicament, they immediately sent their boat out to rescue the ball. It wasn't an easy task to get a pointy-nosed boat to push a ball much bigger than it, and in the right direction, but they didn't give up.

By this time, a small crowd had gathered to watch. When the ball finally got close enough to shore, the little girl's daddy grabbed the ball, and everyone cheered! He thanked the stranger for his kindness, and returned the ball to his delighted daughter. It was a sweet moment.

February 20, 2009

Where will you be next Saturday?

Here is where we will be. You should come to. Jay was instrumental in helping it get started, and now they are celebrating their 4th anniversary on Saturday, February 28th, 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. It's still small, but they have come a long way, and they are still growing. So, check it out.

February 19, 2009

More "Some Stuff I Want to Remember"

- If there were no people having it easy, there would be no one to help those who are having it hard.

- It is better to eat to live than to live to eat!

- A positive attitude can help heal the body and the spirit.

- The best way to get people to not listen to you is to act like you know everything.

Enjoying the fruits.... I mean vegetables.... of our labors

Last night for dinner we had:

- Salad with lettuce from our garden
- Broccoli from our garden
- Chicken dressed with herbs from our garden

It was all delicious!

Today after school, we picked peas and ate them plain. Yum!

Jack's Birthday

Jack turned 5 on Friday. We went out to dinner as a family and he got to choose the restaurant. He had a hard time choosing.... at first he wanted Cafe Rio, then Pei Wei, then Paradise Bakery; the handful of places where we usually take the kids when we eat out... but he finally settled on Waldo's, our favorite BBQ place, where we hadn't been for a while. I had forgotten how fantastic it is! It certainly wouldn't be good to eat like that all the time, but man it's good.

The next day was Jack's birthday party with his friends. He had decided on an Indiana Jones theme, and it turned out great! I got these awesome hats (that turned out to be way nicer than I thought) from Oriental Trading, and made the satchels out of some cheap brown flannel I got for $2 (total!) at Wal-Mart, bought some tan shirts at Goodwill, and made these really cool whips (which I didn't give out until the end so that they wouldn't hurt each other... I just sent them home with them to do their destruction there... sorry parents!) by braiding strips of brown faux suede I found for $8. The kids looked awesome! And they loved their outfits, of course.
Then they had to complete a series of challenges, including reaching into a "pit of snakes" (pan of noodles) to fish out gold (plastic) coins; navigating a tunnell filled with lizards, frogs, and various bugs and other creatures (which they got to keep); swinging on a rope over a pit of plastic snakes (they kept going back to swing over and over again during the party because it was so much fun); dodging poison darts (Q-tips blown through drinking straws); playing "hot potato" with a snake (plastic, of course) because Indy hates snakes. Along the way, they filled their satchels will creatures and gold coins for completing each challenge. They found a treasure chest in the end, which held their whips, lots of candy, more gold coins, and some fake jewels and shiny rocks. They were in heaven!

The cake was just plain chocolate, decorated with some of his Indiana Jones lego characters, which I took off before lighting the candles... just in case.
It was a really fun party! Everyone had a great time, and all the parents told me the next day that they had to pry the gear off their kids before going to bed that night.
Jack was very pleased.

February 18, 2009

The Wisdom of Liz

Yesterday I attended a 60th birthday party for a friend. I know it sounds funny to say that I have a friend who is old enough to be my mother, but it's true. We are really just friends from church; it's not like we hang out together. But honestly, I would love to hang out with her. She is a really fun, amazing, talented, and intelligent woman.

She decided to face 60 years head on, and have a big party for herself. There were at least 80 women, of all ages there. We had a nice lunch, and then were entertained by this guy, who even though I have seen him perform 5 or 6 times (and mostly the same stuff) I still enjoy it as much as the first time. It was a blast!

She also sent us home with goody bags filled with all sorts of funny items as reminders about life lessons and such. Very clever. One of the things she gave us was a cute compilation of short thoughts, called, "Some Stuff I Want to Remember" which she put together about 10 years ago for a reunion. I know that some of them aren't original, but I don't know their sources, and some of them may be her own, but thought I would share some of them with you:

Liz Barrett

- No matter how old you are, there's still a lot to learn.
- If you don't take time to sharpen your saw, you'll spend lots more time sawing.
- She that is easily offended, easily offends.
- The older you get, the smarter your parents get.
- Constant complainers are never welcome.

Definitely good things to remember.

Lots more like that. I will share some more later.......

Here's hoping....

I am feeling a bit more optimistic about The Suns now that they have a new coach and are getting back to their old style of playing. It's been a very frustrating to watch them play this season so far... here's hoping for some better results.

February 11, 2009

12 x 9 =

Jack, who can't wait to turn 5 in a few days, picked up a stack of multiplication flash cards that were sitting on the table and decided to quiz me. He was taking it very seriously (he has seen me do this with Collin) so I played along. It has been a long time since I've been in that position (usually I'm the one doing the quizzing), and I was feeling the pressure. :)

The funny thing is that I had to think about some of them for a second (besides, I was unloading the dishwasher at the same time), and I was trying really hard to make sure I got every answer correct, even though I could have given any random answer and Jack would have had no idea.

Whew. I'm really glad I'm done with school.

February 05, 2009

In search of perfection

Everyone loves chocolate chips cookies right? There are way too many recipes out there, so that even though I really like "my" recipe, I continue to try every new recipe I come across, just in case it's better than mine.

This one is pretty darn good.

2 1/2 cubes butter
1 1/4 c. dark brown sugar
1 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3 2/3 c. flour*
2 T. corn starch
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. milk chocolate chips

You know the drill: Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and combine; stir in chocolate chips. (You are supposed the chill the dough before baking, but I'm too impatient, so I didn't.) Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes (using a 1.5" scoop).

*I usually substitute part of the flour for whole wheat flour, or blended oats.

January in Review - Part 2

My family went out to Usery Mountain park for a picnic and hike. The weather was perfect and the desert is beautiful this time of year. The first thing Mary did was find a walking stick for the hike.Jack and I trailed behind the others, but that's OK. He has short legs (and the fewest years of life) and I have a bad knee, so we made a good pair.
Jimmy enjoyed the day too.... eating left-over/dropped hot dogs, chasing lizards, and dragging Lizzy up the mountain (not that she needed to be dragged... that's just how dogs are). Now he has gone to Utah to be with his "real family" again.

Collin and Mary both got to join in the 100-day celebration at school (because they had perfect attendance, which only a small percentage of the kids did) by letting off a balloon at flag ceremony.
Collin got glasses. He had an experience similar to Mary's when he looked around with his new glasses on for the first time.... discovering a whole new world! I hadn't realized how often he was squinting. Poor kid!
Collin also completed and earned his Bear rank in Cub Scouts. He really enjoys it and works hard.

January in Review - Part 1

I'm starting to see a pattern. I keep this blog as a journal, with the intention of writing on a regular basis. But I always seem to be playing catch-up a month at a time. Oh well. Here I go again.

January was the month for birthday parties. My brother, Peter, turned 40, and his awesome wife threw an awesome surprise party for him. He truly didn't have a clue! It was a lot of fun. Darin, my SIL, is the ultimate hostess. The food was delicious as well as beautiful, as was the decor.
Jay and I performed a parody that we wrote for the occasion.... actually 2 of them; "It's the End of Your Life [The World] As You Know It" (REM) and "Put On a Happy Face." And everyone brought gag gifts as part of the roast. It was pretty funny, and Peter was a good sport. (See Lizzy's post for more photos.)
(Peter wearing his "Jazz Cap" from a Wendy's commercial he starred in back in the '80's.... we love to make fun of him about that.... and shirt Darin made for him with a name badge stating, "Hello, I'm 40.")
My family all got together for dinner on my dad's birthday. He turned 69! I sang the parody I wrote for his 65th birthday with a few minor wording changes. Here he is plotting against the 69 candles on the cake.....
... and about 2 seconds later after he amazingly extinguished the whole thing in one quick breath of air! It was amazing! I've never seem anything like it. I kind of wish I had taken a video instead of stills.(Dad opening his gifts, surrounded by grandkids)And Jay's dad turned 60. Jay and I were asked to put together a program. I took mostly video that night, but here is Jay and his brother doing the ventriloquist act that Jay wrote. It was hilarious!I also wrote another parody (The Beatles' "When I'm 64.") that I sang, and a medley of songs with mixed up words for Jay and his siblings to sing, in honor of their dad's habit of singing the wrong words to songs. The grandkids all sang "When Grandpa Comes" (from the Children's Songbook), and everyone brought gag gifts, a la Peter's birthday party (see above). The program turned out great and Jay's parents loved it.