March 23, 2009

Some Photos

I am really bad about uploading the photos from my camera to my computer. It takes me a while to get around to it. Now that I finally did it I realized that I forgot to post about our trip downtown to the Public Market at the end of February.

First we went to breakfast at District at the Sheraton. They have a wonderful breakfast buffet, with everything from sausage, bacon, eggs, fried potatoes, french toast, biscuits and gravy, steel cut oats, cold cereals, granola, fabulous fresh fruits and yogurt, and of course, breads and pastries.

We walked around the hotel afterward. (Looking down on the street from the... I don't know what to call it... Jay calls it the "Outdoor Pre-function Space," whatever that means. It's outside the ballroom.)
Then we walked down the street to the public market. It has grown quite a bit just since we were there in October. It's doing well and getting bigger all the time. (On the way back from the market.)Then we walked around The Arizona Center, which is across the street from the Sheraton. It's always fun to walk around there because the outdoor areas are very nice. And it will always be sentimental for me and Jay because on one of our first dates we sat on one of the benches there and talked for a long time. Just talked.
And here are a couple of other photos that were on my camera. Did I mention how much Mary loves the roller skates she got for Christmas? She wears them as often as she can.... even while doing her chores. She would wear them to school if she could.Last week I went to lunch with my mom and my two older sisters for one of their birthdays. That is also my niece in the front. And no, I'm not in this photo.... that's just my sister who could be my twin but she's not.

March 22, 2009

Jay's Birthday - Part 2

To complete the celebration of Jay's birthday, we went to dinner at Lon's at the Hermosa Inn. Both our meals were delicious. I had the most wonderful salmon with a blackberry glaze, and Jay had a beef tenderloin that absolutely melted in your mouth (seriously, almost no chewing required) and the most incredible macaroni and cheese, of all things, with white truffle oil! It was amazing!

And yes, we went to Last Chance afterward. Jay usually has good luck and comes out of there with some great finds. This time he only got socks.... but they were $10 socks, brand new in the package for 75 cents, so... not bad. Me? I bought 3 pairs of shoes. Well, they were 35% off! When you are talking about 35% off $18 shoes that would have sold originally for about $100 each, can you blame me? (And I used the Nordstrom gift card my mom gave me for my birthday, with some leftover!) Besides, new shoes always make you feel good even when you feel fat and clothes don't fit.

And of course I made Jay's favorite cake. This is the ONLY cake he ever wants. One year, early in our marriage, I made the mistake of making him a chocolate cake instead. He didn't say anything, but I could tell he was disappointed. I've always made this one ever since. It is really good. This is what his mom always made for him I guess.

Here is my version of her recipe:


1 yellow cake mix
1 small pkg. instant vanilla pudding
4 eggs
3/4 c. water
3/4 c. canola oil

Disregard the instructions on the cake box. Combine ingredients; pour into 2 round cake pans (8 or 9") coated with cooking spray. Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven; let cool 5 minutes; remove from pans to wire rack and cool completely.

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2 c. cold milk
1 large pkg. instant vanilla pudding
1 large can crushed pineapple, well-drained

12 oz. Cool Whip*

Beat cream cheese with electric mixer for about 30 seconds. Add milk and pudding mix; beat a couple of minutes, until smooth and thick. Assemble cake by topping first layer with half of the pudding mixture, then topping that with half of the pineapple. Repeat with second layer** and remaining pudding and pineapple. Frost entire cake with Cool Whip. Chill at least 30 minutes. Keep refrigerated.

* I made the mistake once (long ago) of trying to substitute real whipped cream, but it was a disaster. If you can make stabilized whipped cream that should work, but I have never tried it.

** At times I have made 4 layers by slicing the 2 layers in half, and then dividing the fillings into 4, but that was too much work. If you are feeling ambitious, go for it!

March 21, 2009

The last of "Some Stuff I Want to Remember"

- Guilt is a thief of time and energy.

- There are some friends you can't trust when it comes to movie recommendations.

- "Bigger" is not necessarily "better".... and neither is "more."

- Good listeners learn more and are in a better position to teach.

- A college degree is important even if you don't specifically use it.

- Having a lot of stuff hanging around is oppressive.

- Just when you think life is finally going smoothly, something will start leaking.

March 20, 2009

More "Some Stuff I Want to Remember"

- Life is happier if you don't have quite enough time to do everything you have to do.

- The last half of life goes a whole lot faster than the first half.

- The art of knowing and using people's names make friends.

- Sometimes procrastination works in your favor.

- Even if you sit by a monotone in choir, you can still sing the right notes yourself.

- If you can only be happen when things are going well, you'll be unhappy about 2/3 of your life.

- You can listen better in the front of the chapel.

- Life can be ruined temporarily by a bad hair cute.

- Not every inspirational speaker is.

- Sometimes ownership is bondage.

Happy Birthday Jay

Today is Jay's birthday. I got up early to make his favorite breakfast before he went to work.... Eggs Benedict. I make fake Hollandaise sauce, and he says he likes my Eggs Benedict better than any he has ever tried (and believe me, he has tried it a lot... every time we have breakfast in a restaurant). In case you don't know how to make it, here's how:

1 English muffin, split, buttered and toasted
2 sliced Canadian bacon
2 eggs, poached
Hollandaise Sauce

Basically, you just cook and assemble these in order. But timing is important here because each element is cooked separately and then assembled just before serving, and you don't want to get anything cold. Here is how I do it.

1) Turn on the broiler in your oven.

2) Make "Mock Hollandaise Sauce" by combining in a small sauce pan 1/4 c. sour cream, 1/4 c. mayonnaise, 1 tsp. mustard, and 1 tsp. lemon juice. Stir and heat through; cover and keep warm on low.

3) Spray a medium sauce pan with cooking spray and fill half-way with water. Bring to a boil.

4) Meanwhile, butter each half of the muffin. Lay muffin and bacon on a baking sheet; set aside.

5) Crack each egg into a measuring cup. When water boils, turn it down to a simmer. Gently side each egg into the simmering water. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

6) While eggs are cooking, broil muffin and bacon for about 2 minutes, or until muffin is toasted. Put a slice of bacon on top of each muffin half.

7) Remove eggs with a slotted spoon; lay each on top of bacon. Spoon the sauce over the top of each egg.

By the way, I don't like Eggs Benedict, but I will gladly make it for Jay... on his birthday and Father's Day. :)

We will celebrate tonight by going out to dinner, and then to "Last Chance," Jay's favorite store, where he gets all of his nice dress shirts, suits, and dress shoes. If you haven't been introduced to the wonders of "Last Chance," read about it here.

Here is a little treat in honor of Jay's birthday because he LOVES to watch people's mishaps (plus he loves Tom Bergeron's humor). Watch here and here.

Peach Cobbler

A friend of mine gave me a bottle of Utah peaches she had canned, so I decided to make a Peach Cobbler. I called my older sister for her recipe. It turned out so delicious!!!!! Here it is:

1/2 c. butter, softened
2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 large can peaches with syrup

Cream butter and 1 c. sugar (reserve the other 1 cup). Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, and stir in half of the mixture. Stir in the milk and vanilla, and then the remaining dry mixture. Spread batter into a greased 9x13" pan. With a slotted spoon, arrange peaches on top of batter. Cover with remaining cup of sugar and sprinkle generously with cinnamon. Pour syrup from peaches over the top. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Yum!


Lately, our kids have been begging us to take them camping. Just for the record, Jay and I HATE camping.

Actually, I used to like camping.... when I was a kid, and even a teenager.... when I didn't have to do any of the work (that was my parents' and older brother's job), and sleeping on the hard ground didn't make me feel like I was a hundred years old the next morning. (However, I NEVER enjoyed using Mother Nature's restroom. Ewwwww.)

Though Jay did plenty of camping as a Boy Scout, I don't think he ever liked it.... probably because he had to do all the work.

Anyway, the kids thought we were such mean parents to not take them camping during spring break.... we only went to a lovely, comfortable cabin with soft warm beds, a fireplace that doesn't smoke, electricity, and RUNNING WATER.

To stop the complaining, I had the brilliant idea of putting the tent up (yes, we actually have some camping gear) in the backyard. Why not? The weather is great, the grass is soft and green, and the bathroom is handy. And I figured that one night of bad sleep wouldn't hurt since there would be no school the next day, hence no worries about grumpiness.
So, yesterday while I finished making dinner, Jay and the kids set up the tent. After we ate, the kids hurried into their pajamas, grabbed their pillows, and snuggled into their sleeping bags in the tent. It was only about 7:30.

Jay and I had decided that we would pretend we were going to sleep out there with them..... we would just wait until they were asleep, and then go inside to our comfortable bed. (insert evil laughter)

We had a couple of flashlights, though we really didn't need them.... the street lights provided plenty of ambient lighting. The street also provided something else.... plenty of background noise from all the traffic. I imagine plenty of people were stilled headed home from work.

The kids couldn't go to sleep with all the excitement of sleeping outdoors (and noise!), so we told "Mashed Potato" stories for a while. (In case you don't know what "Mashed Potato" stories are, that's your basic "add-on" story where everyone takes a turn... I don't know why we call it that.) It was pretty entertaining.

Mary was just silly and couldn't stop laughing whenever it was her turn... she thought everything she said was absolutely hilarious. Collin wanted everything to be scary and dramatic, which became a bit annoying. I usually followed him, so I always turned the story back to funny and light-hearted, which annoyed him. Jack was funny because he used this serious, dramatic, grown-up voice, but his parts of the stories were usually only about one sentence before he passed it on.

But Jay (if you know Jay personally, then you know that he could have had a successful career as a stand-up comedian) had us all rolling on floor (literally.... we were already lying on the ground after all) with laughter.

Finally, everyone was pretty worn out from laughing, and we decided it was time to go to sleep. By this time it was almost 9:00... long past our kids' normal 8:00 bedtime.... so I figured they would be tired and fall right to sleep. I sang a good night song, and everyone finally settled down and was quiet. No one was talking, but there was lots of thrashing around as we tried to get comfortable.

It had been pretty quiet for a while... long enough for the kids to have fallen asleep, normally. So, I quietly sat up and looked around. Everyone was sleeping, or so I thought. They were all doing a good job of pretending.

Suddenly, Jack said in a loud voice, "Mom, I don't like sleeping in tents." I thought for a second and said, "Who wants to go sleep in their own bed?" There was a loud chorus of "Me!"

And so we all slept soundly in our beds last night, and lived happily ever after.

The End.

March 19, 2009

Catch up... again... and thanks to "Anonymous"

Sorry I have been MIA for a couple of weeks. I put everything aside for a while when I was feverishly planning an event for church that was moved up 2 weeks from it's original date. I was a little crazy for a while, but it went well.

So, here is an update on what else has been going on.

Collin started his first season playing flag football. He is super excited. Jack started T-Ball, and is very excited too. So, with practices for both of them twice a week, and games on Saturdays, that will keep up busy for the next few months.

The kids have spring break this week. We spent the first few days of it a my parents' cabin, and I didn't take one photo. Oops. Besides preparing meals (simple ones!) I did practically nothing but sit by the fire and read. No projects this time. We did take our usual walk around the lake though. The kids played outside a lot, and got along well. It was a nice, quiet, relaxing get away.

One night at the cabin we watched this movie together. I loved it as a kid. I hadn't seen it in a years, but for some reason I thought of it recently and checked it out from the library. It was just as fun as I remembered. Though the first half is a little slow, we all laughed ourselves silly during the hilarious second half.

Last night we watched "It's a Wonderful Life." When I realized our kids had never seen it, I decided not to wait until Christmas because it's such a great film. So, I picked it from the library too. It's funny though... Jay and I have both seen it many times, but always on TV, so I guess we either always missed the beginning, or it is heavily edited for television, because we both kept saying, "I don't remember this part" during the first third of the movie. It was fun to finally watch the whole thing all the way through.... with no commercial breaks!

Last night we took the kids to dinner at a new local restaurant. I have to say that my kids are pretty darn good ones, and are quite well-behaved in restaurants. Anyway, after we finished our meal, we noticed our server had kind of disappeared, and Jay was getting annoyed because she hadn't brought the check yet. Finally, we saw her across the room and Jay motioned to her that we would like the check. She approached us with a huge smile and said, "Well, actually, some anonymous person has already paid for your meal, and I can't tell you anymore than that. So, have a good evening, and come see us again."

We were quite surprised of course. It drives me crazy to not know who did it, but I can understand their desire for anonymity. It was a good lesson for the kids as we explained on the ride home that there are kind and generous people out there who do things just to be nice, not for recognition. In family prayer that night, Jay made a point of giving thanks for that person.

Whoever you are, thank you!