Perfectly Acceptable

May 24, 2020

The very best thing that has come from being trapped in this house with the same 3 looneys for the last two and a half months is that they all agreed that it was time they started helping out with dinner. 

Monday Richard cooks, Tuesday Colin cooks, and Wednesday Harrison cooks. Yes, they need lots of help, but I am determined to teach them and one day they'll be doing it on their own. 

Not only are Mondays now my favorite day, but our dinner menu has now expanded in new and exciting ways. 

Here are the Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwiches Richard made. 


Hot dang, they were good. It occurs to me now that I should share the recipe with you. Let me see if I can find it. 


Moving on. Colin made pizza. This one was half cheese, half Italian sausage. 


It was super good but the leftovers were only so so. Delicious leftovers is important to me. And maybe next time I'd like to try a thinner crust, cuz this one got pretty puffy. 

Harrison made Hamburger stuffed French Bread. 

Here is Colin demonstrating how big his piece is.


Colin's head is a very standard unit of measurement.

So, uh, yeah. Food. Food is the best thing going on in my life right now. How about you?

Family

Chillaxin'

April 17, 2020

Back in February when life was normal, my nine-year-old was playing Minecraft with the girl who lives next door and I heard him say:

"Pretend we like to chillax all day."

It makes sense that his idea of make believe is pretending to"chillax". I've made his life pretty difficult. I make him pick up his toys. I make him clean up his bedroom. I'm like a demented prison warden, just heaping on the torture.

It gets worse. I have recently starting making my kids help clean up after dinner. I know. I know. You would never do this. No sane, loving mother would do it. But I have a mean streak a mile wide and they are gonna help me one way or another.

The other night I laid down the law. Harrison had to clear the table, and Colin had to help me load the dishwasher. Don't report me, okay?

Colin had had enough. The tyranny just got to be too much for him. And he rebelled.

Eventually, I was standing at the sink loading the dishwasher all alone, while Colin rode his electric dirt bike through the house, sobbing,  "Why don't I ever get to have any fun? Why don't I ever get to do anything I want to do? Why are you ruining my life?"

And I laughed. As we've already established, I am very heartless. I will have to figure out how to stop ruining his life by allowing him to ride his dirt bike in the house while also NOT doing any work. Really, I've got to make some changes.

I only wish I had a picture of him crying on his motorcycle, but, alas, I do not.

Books

A Short and Rather Useless Book Review - The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge

April 15, 2020



This book is fun. It's as simple as that. I started off listening to the audiobook, which is FANTASTIC. But there was a problem. This book includes pictures:



The idea is that the pictures kind of contradict the narrative, which is really pretty silly, but helpful to know beforehand, because at first I was a bit confused.



And while I believe the audio book includes a PDF of the pictures, those are pretty hard to look at while you are driving, or gardening, or cleaning out your dungeon. But I fell so much in love with the voices on the audio book that I finally ended up listening to the audio while simultaneously reading the physical book whilst lounging in bed. I had to stop cleaning out the dungeon to do it, but it was worth it.

Something Good - April 12

April 12, 2020

Happy Easter! It's Sunday, which means it is time for more good things!

The first and best thing of the week was that it was Spring Break, which means no school. And since I am now the teacher, that meant more to me this week than it ever has before. No School! For a whole week! Woohoo!!

Last Sunday we had a game night with my family over Zoom. We played, at my request, Star Wars Trivial Pursuit.


It was fun and awesome and wonderful, because not only could I play with my sisters who live in the same town as me, and my mom and nieces who live within driving distance, but also with my sister who lives in Maine, and my niece who lives in Oregon. We're finally getting the band back together!!

The problem was that we tried to use the board. We had one camera aimed constantly at the board, but it was still too small for most people to see what was going on. We'd roll the dice for them (which in this game means bopping R2D2 on the head, and he randomly generates a number) and then move their peice and then ask them the questions. But there were like 8 of us, so it took forever for everyone to take their turn. (the game only comes with 4 movers, so we had to make some out of LEGO minifigs.)


It would have worked much better to do just ask the questions and let anyone who knew the answer shout it out or something, and just skip the board altogether, but live and learn.


Since it was Spring Break and we were going absolutely bonkers trapped at home, we decided to go camping. We found this little canyon in Fountain Green with some really awesome hiking that we had almost totally to ourselves.

The boys spent a lot of time pretending to be lost in the mountains. It was thrilling for them, and they were always within eyesight and there was a small stream burbling by and it was gorgeous.


We hiked through this cool slot canyon, but the walls were unlike anything I've seen before. It wasn't like the red rock you see in Southern Utah. This was more like naturally occurring cement, with smaller rocks all stuck together forming the canyon walls.





This was was far as we got. There was a rope, so we could have tried to climb straight up that waterfall behind us in the picture above, but maybe we'll save that next time.

Later in the week we got a drive-by visit from some family!


And the boys entertained themselves by laughing at their own reflections.



And yesterday I finished reading Cinder, by Marissa Meyer, a Cinderella retelling, wherein Cinderella is a Cyborg. Yep. It was every bit as awesome as it sounds.


It is the first in a series, and is totally incomplete on its own, which usually makes me really mad. Well, it made me mad this time too, but I loved it so much that my only option was to buy the next book on Kindle and start reading it immediately!

And that's all folk! Tune in next week for more good things!

Family

Something Good - April 5

April 06, 2020

I was born an optimist. But something about getting older has sort of changed that. Not that my outlook for the future is grim, it's just that life is hard, and the realities of its struggles tends to take a toll. The prophet, President Russell M. Nelson described it as "The heart wrenching maze of our mortal experience." Which is beautiful and sad and true.

But the world is also full of good things. Some big and huge and wonderful and some small and silly and insignificant. My memory is bad. And what if, ten years from now, I have forgotten all of the small things?

So it is time to write them down. I try to be a diligent journal writer, but it isn't always possible. So here I am, sharing good things with you. Or at at least sharing good things with me, which I appreciate very much. Thanks me. I'm welcome.

GOOD THINGS THIS WEEK

Utah's Current Pandemic Situation is "Stay Home, Stay Safe", (which I think means "We're advising you to stay home, but we aren't going to enforce it.") but I have had my kids under a pretty strict lock down ever since the 12th. We are all pretty bored of staring at each other's faces by this point. We are all pretty bored of never going anywhere.

But the 1st was My Birthday! And one must have fun on one's birthday, even if one is stuck at home with the same silly goobers day after day.

Our tradition is always singing and presents with breakfast. We try to make breakfast kind of big and special, but Richard was feeling overwhelmed so we ordered breakfast from Denny's. They were offering free delivery, and their online ordering system is seriously the best online ordering system I have ever used. 45 minutes later someone left breakfast on our front porch and ran away. Honestly, what else could a girl ask for on her birthday?


And then, Richard gave me The Murderbot Diaries:



I've only read the first one so far. The kindle book is $3.99 I think. But the rest are $10.00, which I just thought was way too much for an e-novella. Turns out the hardbacks are about the same price, which feels better somehow and if my husband wants to give them to me for my birthday, I will happily devour them.

My boys each gave me a clay creation of their own. Introducing Pig and Pear! The crime fighting duo!

They are so cute I can't stand it.

And this kid made me, and I quote: "Something cool, with a hint of Colin." 
He also gave me a small sea shell, so I would have something to put in it.


In other news, yesterday I made THESE cinnamon rolls:
http://tacpaskett.blogspot.com/2014/01/1-hour-cinnamon-rolls.html

They were only supposed to take an hour, but I guess I am slow cuz it took more like 2 1/2 hours.
And the recipe was supposed to make 24 cinnamon rolls, half of which you can see here:


But that is only if you want cinnamon rolls the size of your face.


And, oh, I do. PLUS, I swapped out the oil for applesauce and so that giant thing is only 332 calories! (I am still wondering if I calculated that wrong. Could it really be 332 calories for a sweet roll that size??)

However, I decided that 24 face-sized cinnamon rolls was maybe more than the four of us could eat. So after making those 12 gargantuan cinnamon rolls, I took the other half of the dough and made all of this:


Incidentally, rolls made out of cinnamon roll dough are fine, but I prefer my rolls a little more salty and buttery. 

Lastly, there is this, because pens make me happy. This picture here is like sticking a smiley face on the end of the post. 


The End.

How To's & DIY's

Do-It-Yourself Renaissance Faire on a Dime

June 03, 2019

For my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary we wanted to do something special.

But we kind of forgot to do something special, and then time passed really fast and suddenly it was just a couple of weeks away and we were like "Oh no! We ran out of time! Let's just give up and take them to dinner!"

Luckily my sister Faralee said that just dinner was unnacceptable. That, by golly, it was their 50th Wedding Anniversary, and we were going to do something special for them or die trying. (Faralee is SO DRAMATIC sometimes.)

So we threw together an impromptu, surprise, Renaissance Faire (with an E), and had it in my backyard.


For the first time ever my back "yard" full of dirt and weeds was landscape appropriate!

STEP 1: Collect as many Pop-Up Canopies as you could (I guess for us that was a total of 3. More would have been better, but we needed to spend as little money as possible. So 3 was our magical number.)

STEP 2: Dress up the canopies. Everyone donated all the old fabric and sheets they could spare. (It is times like this that it is handy to have so many siblings.) Faralee cut the sheets into these fancy scallop shapes using pinking shears--I'm sure this shape has a name, but I don't know what it is-- and then embellished them with stamps or simple lines.


As you can see from the picture we didn't have time for straight lines, and we just pinned the fabric right on to the canopies and you know what? It looked fine. It even looked kind of awesome. So being a perfectionist doesn't always pay off in the long run.

Then we took other fabric and pinned it too the back of the canopies to make them feel a little more like booths.

We had a tent for the King and Queen (my parents)


A tent for crafts


and a big tent for food.


The bunting along the back there is just made out of paper. Cheap and Easy-Peasy. Well, easy for me. Fae spent hours cutting and assembling bunting, because she is a champ.

STEP 3: Make Some Signs.

Here is a shot of the "entrance" to the backyard. You can never have too much bunting. I know the truck sort of ruins the effect, but what are you gonna do?


Here is a close up of the sign I made:


I bought the banner art, and then filled it in with words and had it printed at a local print shop. Then I taped it to a big piece of felt because that is what I had. It DID NOT work well. Paper and fabric are not great friends when you stick them in the wind together. Faralee also spent some time making some rag bunting, which had a very nice effect, but I don't have a decent picture of it.

Then there is this, cuz why not? Cardstock glued to cardboard, just like in ye olden times.


Why did I write some of the words in all caps and some not? I couldn't tell you.

We also needed a sign on the food tent. I found images of blank wooden signs and added the words. They are just printed on card stock (two pieces that I taped together so they were sturdier and could be read from both sides.)


STEP 4: Make Lots and Lots and Lots of Food.
As you can see we served Meat on a Stick (Brats stuck on a skewer), Chicken Legs, Cobbler, homemade icecream and my sister Faemarie's phenomenal peach pie. We also had corn on the cob, grapes, cheese and crackers and probably some other stuff that I can't remember. I really wish I had a picture, but we ate it too fast.

The chicken was way too much work. It shouldn't have been, but it took forever to cook, and lots of us spent the first half of the party in the kitchen. So figure out something more crowd friendly when you have your own Ren Faire.

STEP 5: Make and Set up Games. Ie.

Nine Men's Morris



I haven't the slightest idea how to play this. Faralee made this too, so I just don't know what to tell you.

We also set up some logs for the kids to stand on and hit each other with sticks.


Whoever stays on longest wins!

And then we had face painting which some of the nieces were more than happy to oversee.


STEP 9 (I lost count. What number are we on?): Invite a Whole Bunch of People!

When my whole family gets together there are about 40 of us, so we're a decent group all on our own. But we also made sure to invite all of my parents siblings who live close enough to come, and some of my parent's good friends.

We told people to dress up if they wanted to.


Some did, some didn't. Harrison put on some church clothes and Colin put on his SWAT costume and it was all fine, and fun and wonderful.

STEP 10: Don't forget to invite the Guests of Honor. Otherwise all your effort will be wasted.

STEP 11: Let the magic happen!

At some point, you must sit back, and let your hasty and inexpensive efforts come to fruition. So you can just enjoy being together. We were fortunate enough that a bunch of nieces and nephews wrote and performed a play, all without any prompting from the adults.





One of the little girls kept calling out from the stage "I'm doing a great job, Mom!"


We all did a great job. In fact, all in all we had so much fun that we talked about doing it again. Maybe every single year.

That was two years ago, and we haven't done it since, but my parents 52nd anniversary is coming up in July. Will this be the year we have another Renaissance Faire? Or will we decide once again that laying around eating Popsicle is a better use of our time? Who knows? Join us in two more years to find out!

Books

To Read Immediately

May 25, 2019

My To Read Immediately list is getting a little out of hand.


Actually, no. Most of the books on the left I have read already. I pulled them out for research. The book I'm writing now has a 3rd person omniscient narrator and I wanted to see how it is done in books I love.

So here is my research stack;


And HERE is my To Read Immediately stack:


I stuck them up on my nightstand so I don't forget about them.

I feel I need to distinguish here between a "To Read" list, and a "To Read Immediately" list. The key here is the word immediately. You may not be familiar with it. It is a word meaning AT ONCE, INSTANTLY. It is a self imposed, fast approaching deadline. Which means I really need to be reading these before I do anything else. And honestly it is stressing me out. But what can I do? They are on my nightstand. Books on a nightstand are a binding contract.

And this doesn't even include the the books on my phone I have to finish for my bookclub, and the ones I checked out from Overdrive. Ah!

Let's look at each one shall we? Why not? Do you have somewhere else to be?

  • Lovestruck by Kate Watson (who also happens to be my cousin-in-law, which you have to admit is very awesome.)
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (Just finished his masterclass, and decided I should probably get around to reading a few more of his books.)
  • Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve (The audiobook is fantastic. I'm about halfway through, but I always struggle to find time to listen.)
  • Christmas Jars by Jason Wright. (Yeah. I've never read it. Have you?)
  • Minnie Kim: Vampire Girl by Ali Cross (Winner of  the Whitney Award for YA Speculative Fiction)
  • A Monster Like Me by Wendy Swore (I picked up this book based solely on the title and the cover. Which, um, I don't have a picture of. Sorry.)
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. (Birthday present from my fantastic friend Jeri.)
  • Douglas Adams' Shada by Gareth Roberts (I still intend to do reviews of all the books on my book shelf, and this is the next one in line. I stuck it with the rest of my Douglas Adams books, but I THINK it is a book based on a Doctor Who episode written by Douglas Adams? Maybe? I'll let you know after I read it.)
  • The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle (The book the 80's cartoon was based on. Recommended by my niece Emily.)
  • Shattered Snow by Rachel Huffmire (I met Rachel at a class at Storymakers. She told me about her book and, boom! It magically appeared in my to read pile!)
  • Legion by Brandon Sanderson (cuz, obviously)
  • The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by Eugene Yelchin (saw this on overdrive. Checked it out-after a long wait- listened to a bit and loved it so much I had to hold that book in my hands. It has pictures!)

Thanks for stopping by for some informative pictures of books! Until next time.