Friday, December 14, 2007

Cranberry Orange Vinegar

It's my first solo foray into home canning (aside from freezer jam, which doesn't really count)! I was afraid the whole time that it wouldn't work at all, but in the end all the jars sealed. Aren't they pretty? Next I'm going to try cranberry conserve.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Thanksgiving Eve

We have a tradition (the past few years) of having a "Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" dinner the night before Thanksgiving. We serve the dinner Charlie Brown served his friends and then watch the movie. The kids think it's a blast because they get candy for dinner! I like it because it means I don't have to cook dinner after cooking for Thanksgiving all day. Not very healthy, but I figure once a year isn't going to kill anyone.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving Leftover Shepherds Pie

Need something new to do with all those Thanksgiving leftovers? This shepherds pie is super easy and super good. Make it as big or as small as you want!

Combine in casserole dish:
Leftover turkey, shredded
Leftover stuffing
Leftover veggies (or frozen mixed, heated)
Leftover gravy

Top with:
Leftover mashed potatoes
Cheddar cheese, shredded

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until heated through. If desired, put it under the broiler for 30 seconds to give the cheese a brown, crispy crust. Serve with salad and leftover cranberry sauce.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Homeschooling Humor

Here's a list that was passed through one of the many homeschool groups I belong to. I thought it was funny, in a biting sort of way. Hopefully I never become bitter enough to respond the way it suggests! (Though I have been sorely tempted at times.)

This list is dripping with sarcasm. Read at your own risk!

The Bitter Homeschooler's Wish List
By Deborah Markus, from Secular Homeschooling Magazine, Issue #1, Fall 2007

You can follow the link to read the whole list but here are some of my favorites:

#1 Please stop asking us if it's legal. If it is — and it is — it's insulting to imply that we're criminals. And if we were criminals, would we admit it?

#12 If my kid's only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can possibly teach him what he'd learn in school, please understand that you're calling me an idiot. Don't act shocked if I decide to respond in kind.

#16 Don't ask my kid if she wouldn't rather go to school unless you don't mind if I ask your kid if he wouldn't rather stay home and get some sleep now and then.

#18 If you can remember anything from chemistry or calculus class, you're allowed to ask how we'll teach these subjects to our kids. If you can't, thank you for the reassurance that we couldn't possibly do a worse job than your teachers did, and might even do a better one.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

On walking and friends

In response to two friends, Bekah and Brooke.

I've actually turned my morning walks into morning runs (okay, jogs), mostly because I want to get done faster. Walking alone (with my iPod) for 3 miles seems so much longer than walking and talking with friends. And walking makes me sad because it reminds me of all my good friends that I most likely will never see again.

Maybe if I run long enough I'll catch up with you.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

My new calling!

And I was just starting to enjoy not doing anything. ;) I've been called as the Ward Choir Director. So Becky is the winner! Yay! I'm actually looking forward to it, though I'm not looking forward to putting on a Christmas program with only 8 rehearsals. Oh well, I'm sure it will all work out! I haven't directed anything since just after my older ds was born, so I'll have to spend some time getting the cobwebs out.

In addition I have been subbing as the Primary pianist for the past several weeks and I'll be playing for their Sacrament Meeting Presentation this coming Sunday as well as directing the hymns in sacrament meeting! I guess I spoke too soon when I said the ward had plenty of music talent. They really do, I just think they're happy to have someone new to call on. And I'm really happy to help. I'm pretty comfortable doing anything church music-wise, even playing the organ (if there's a great/bass coupler! and no real organists in the congregation.)

Anyway, thanks to everyone who participated in my little contest. I promise I'll have some more entertaining posts soon!

Join the choir!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Crochet in the news

Here's an article I ran across in the Deseret News. I knew crochet was therapeutic but I had no idea!


SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - Officials at the Salt Lake County Jail are using crocheting in their continuing effort to rehabilitate inmates. Earlier this month, jail officials and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who cosponsor the program, presented Primary Children's Medical Center with a number of crocheted items that female inmates had been working on for the past year.

Read the full article at,5143,695214691,00.html

A great idea, in my opinion. They should have the male inmates do it too. Really, it's okay for guys to crochet! Here's my favorite crochet guy.

Power to the Hooks!

PS In case you were wondering, I still don't have a calling. I'll let you know as soon as I do!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


So we went to Insectropolis and it was really cool! And a little creepy. They had several displays of different varieties of cockroach. Looking at them gave me the heebie-jeebies. But the boys loved it! (Not the cockroaches, but everything else)

After we walked through the displays, we got to the "Zoo" where we got to pet some of the bugs, including a cockroach (shudder), a couple of LARGE millipedes, a tarantula, and a scorpion. I did fine holding the smaller of the two millipedes, but when the big one started to uncurl in my hand I had to hand it off to my dh. I've never thought of myself as the squeamish type, but those big bugs were just too much for me. Maybe next time we go I'll work up the nerve to hold the tarantula.

My younger ds held both the millipedes and petted all the others except the scorpion (understandably) and my older ds (who is afraid of touching most living things) worked up enough courage to pet the tarantula, which he described as "fuzzy".

I hope I never find one of these in my house.

PS That's my dh's hand.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Free Museum Day

When: Saturday, Sept. 29th, 2007
Where: Your participating local museums
Why: Cause it's free!

For more info:

We're planning to go to Insectropolis. Where will you go?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Calling Contest!

Whew! We're here in NJ and mostly unpacked (why do we have so much junk?). AND our records have officially been moved to the Toms River ward. So we are expecting callings quite soon.

What do you think my new calling will be?

Post your vote in the comments!
The winner gets a crocheted washcloth (but only if I know who you are).
I'll give you a helpful hint: They already have a RS pianist, ward organist, and primary pianist that all seem pretty settled.

My dh will be having a similar contest on his blog (which has moved) so check it out if you want.

Ready, Set, Go!

Monday, August 13, 2007


For all of you who have more zucchini than you know what to do with, here are some ideas for using it that I posted last year.

Sad to leave my garden,

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sweet 100

sweet 100, originally uploaded by awsyoung.

Saying goodbye to my garden. Click on the picture to see more.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Another winner!

It's July, which of course means it's time for the OC fair. This year my older ds was old enough to enter the farm and garden competition and get a free ticket. Knowing this, I asked him several months ago what he wanted to enter. Of course, he wanted to enter a giant zucchini. He had planted a zucchini himself earlier, so that was perfect. We entered it last week and when we went to the fair to see it displayed, we discovered it had won first place! He was so excited. Yesterday his journal entry was all about his prize winning zucchini. Unlike last year, we are definitely not going to miss picking up his ribbon.

Green thumbs must be hereditary,

Monday, July 16, 2007

Final CA update!

AAAAA! We're moving in 2 weeks! There's no way I'll get everything packed by then!

Whew, sorry about that, just a little panic setting in.
Here's an update on things.


1. Keep up with my exercise routine.
Slacked off during the Utah vacation, but I'm back walking, sadly without my friend! I hope she is enjoying her stay in Hawaii. Walking is very boring without someone to talk to.

2. Eat more legumes.
This one has kind of gone on the back burner because we've scraped the 4-week rotating menu for these next two weeks in favor of a menu that will use all to food in the fridge and freezer. We'll start again, probably in Sept. when we're finally settled.

3. Write in my journal once a week.
Once again, vacation interfered with this, but I plan to write until we move. After that, who knows!

4. Write in my blog once a month.
Still good here, even more than once a month! I probably won't be posting the first week in Aug. though.

5. De-clutter one room a month.
This month it's the whole house! I hope I can do it!

The compact has been suspended until Sept. 1st in light of our move and the great possibility that we may need to buy new stuff in the process. C'est la vie. On the bright side, it has given me a chance to think about making some purchases with future Compact adherence in mind. For example, I want to buy some cloth shower curtains. They look much nicer than plastic ones, last longer, and when they get dirty, I can throw them in the wash (in my very own washing machine!) instead of in the trash. I also want to try some rechargeable batteries. I've had bad experiences with them in the past, but it's been such a long time ago surely they must have improved. And I'm tired of buying so many batteries, even if we do recycle them.

There it is! I can't guarantee that I will blog again this month, so if not....

See you in NJ!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Baby Steps

I was very excited to see the article "Natural Methods Offer Pill Alternative" in Sunday's Salt Lake Tribune. I'm a big fan of Natural Family Planning (NFP) and it's always exciting to see something positive about it in print. However, after reading the article I was disappointed with the information presented.

The insert "Natural Family Planning: How it works" presents CycleBeads as THE method of NFP. Actually, this is probably the least effective method of NFP available, being only slightly better than the old "rhythm method". And though the other, more effective methods are mentioned in the article, no details are given on how they work or where to find more info about them.

I am glad that, at least in Utah, health care professionals are beginning to take more notice of NFP, even if they are still woefully uninformed. At least they are willing to re-examine their ideas about why women don't use hormonal birth control and are willing to offer alternatives. As mentioned in the article, NFP isn't a good sell for pharmaceutical companies! The companies who do support NFP don't have the commercial clout of pharmaceutical companies, so they get drowned out by ads for hormonal birth control.

I hope that the trend started here will continue, and hopefully grow to embrace more effective methods of NFP as well. Though a small step, it is a step in the right direction!

For more information on other methods of NFP see these websites:


Thursday, June 07, 2007

We're Moving!

A call came to my dh's phone this morning at about 8:45. I thought, no one calls this early unless they live on the east coast. Well they did! My husband got the Professor of Political Science job at Ocean County College in New Jersey! So we will be leaving sunny SoCal sometime in mid-August. I am very happy for this job, but I'm very sad to be leaving all our friends here and the beautiful weather. And my garden.

Here's my dh's post on the topic.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Sorry, this is a boring post. It's for my own record, but feel free to read it if you like. I have more interesting stuff to post, but it will have to wait until later!

Resolution Update:

1. Keep up with my exercise routine.
So far so good, but I lose my walking partner next month! :(

2. Eat more legumes.
Good. I have succeeded in adding legumes to all the soups on the menu and I even cooked some in the crock pot and froze them for later. It was so cheap and easy, why didn't I do it sooner?!

3. Write in my journal once a week.
Not as good but not terrible. My Sunday's tend to get swallowed up in primary stuff. I do think journal writing is important, though, so I plan to keep trying to keep my resolution.

4. Write in my blog once a month.
Still good, though my first post this month was a recipe, not really content rich. But, hey, it still counts!

5. De-clutter one room a month.
So the porch didn't go so well. No one on Freecycle wanted my trike or shop light! And I kind of lost my momentum after that. Oh well. I did finally Freecycle the gigantic bookcase that was eating up all the space in my bedroom though! Yay! It looks so much nicer! For May (which is already half over) the de-clutter room is the kitchen. It shouldn't be too bad. As part of the de-clutter, I would like to find a place to put some water storage.

Compact Update:
I can't seem to get my dh or dss to sit down and help me make up an exception list for the compact! We're still following it, it just would be nice to have it in writing so it's not so easy to forget (or cheat). We probably also need a specific 'forbidden' list for things that might qualify, but really shouldn't.

Here's my rough draft of our exceptions (so I don't lose it!):

Food ;)
Underwear/socks (non-fancy)
School supplies
Craft supplies (ie markers and paper for the boys)
Fabric and notions (but only if I can't use what I've got)
NOT yarn!
Clothes for the boys (mostly my older ds)
Running Shoes
1 (maybe 2) articles of clothing for the adults
Option of 1 new item per person at Christmas
Health and Safety purchases (ie medicine and tires for car and bikes etc.)

This is not really part of the compact, but we're also trying a "no out-of-pocket spending" streak. So far our longest stretch is 6 days in a row! After 20 days (not necessarily consecutive) we will go out to eat. We're up to 9 days. It's been fun and challenging so far. I think it will help keep our expenses down by keeping us from being "nickled and dimed to death".


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Broccoli Cheese Soup

So no regular post yet, but I thought I'd better play catch-up since there are a few loose ends in my blog to tie up. So, here's my recipe for broccoli cheese soup, finally! (Sorry Becky!)

Broccoli Cheese Soup

In large saucepan, bring to boiling:
3 cans (14 ½ oz each) chicken broth

2 packages (16 oz. each) frozen cut broccoli
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp bottled minced garlic (or 1 clove fresh garlic, minced)

Return to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until broccoli is tender. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Transfer half (or so) of vegetable-broth mixture to blender or food processor; cover. Blend until desired consistency. Return to saucepan. Or if you have a hand blender, like I do, just stick it in the pot and blend away! Don't get carried away though, you still want some identifiable broccoli pieces left.

Stir into soup:
1 ½ cups dry milk (could also substitute potato pearls or pureed cooked green garbanzo beans for some of the milk)
¼ cup all-purpose flour (if you are afraid of lumps, add the flour to the blended mixture)
Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Stir over low heat until melted. Sprinkle with additional cheese. Serves 6.

Stay tuned for my 'real' post!


Monday, April 30, 2007

Cooking Beans the easy way

As per Amy's request, here's the recipe for cooking beans in the crock pot. So easy!

1 (16-oz.) package of dried beans, rinsed and picked over
5 cups very hot tap water

1. In a 3-1/2 quart crock pot, combine the beans and hot water.
2. Cover and cook on the high heat setting 3 to 4 hours (or on low heat for 5 to 7 hours), until the beans are tender but not falling apart.
3. Drain the beans into a colander and rinse with cold water. Drain well before using.

The cooking time can vary depending on the size and age of the beans.

If you don't want to use the cooked beans all at once, you can put them in ziploc bags and store them in the freezer. Then just pull them out and toss them in your soups, salads, whatever!

There you have it! I'll post a regular update soon, but until then you can read my dh's blog and find out about our CRAZY weekend!


Friday, April 27, 2007

Deaf Video

This youtube video is awesome! I think even people who don't know ASL would appreciate it.
Let me know.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Monday, April 02, 2007

Life in SoCal

It's the season of vacationers! My dh's sister and her family visited us last week and some of my family are visiting us this week. Whew! And I'm sure our primary will have many visitors on Sunday, though not as many as if we were still at the 11am block. And, of course, our dizzyland passes are blacked out for the next two weeks because of vacationers. So it seems that everyone is on vacation except us! Actually, I don't want a vacation so much as I want to MOVE..... but that's a post for another day.

We actually took our vacation a month ago to Utah, and while we were there my bil asked about my favorite bread recipes. I thought I'd post my favorite here. It's for my bread maker and he doesn't use one so I'll just post the ingredients without instructions.

"Bran Bread"
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. butter
3 3/4 flour (divided however. I like 2 cups whole wheat, 1 3/4 cup white or white whole wheat)
1 1/4 cups bran flakes cereal (Kashi "Good Friends" or AllBran "Buds" have the most fiber)
2 Tbsp dry milk
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast OR 2 tsp. bread machine yeast
I also like to add a 1/4 cup or so of flax seed meal for flavor and texture.

For more great bread recipes visit and join the "Bread Brigade"! Once a month they'll send you an email with four recipes to try, one for each week.

Resolution Update:

1. Keep up with my exercise routine
I did okay. I missed several days due to visitors, but that's pretty typical of my routine. ;)

2. Eat more legumes.
Great! I added beans to all the soups and they were very good. The best was the green garbanzos in the broccoli cheese soup. They thickened the soup nicely and added a vibrant green color. I am right now cooking some garbanzos in the slow cooker to freeze and add to soups later. Next I want to find this book so I can hide beans in my meals and the kids will actually eat them.

3. Write in my journal once a week.
Very bad! I missed three weeks in a row! But I did write yesterday, so this month is starting off right.

4. Write in my blog once a month.
Perfect! I even had an extra post last month.

5. De-clutter one room a month.
Last month's room was easy. I cleaned and organized the cupboards under the sinks and even found some stuff to get rid of. I've started Freecycling it too. For April I'll be organizing the porch. Yikes! It's a mess out there. But it's a good time since I've been thinking about using my grow light to start some seeds and it's sitting out there. There are also two of my younger ds' old bikes out there that need to be freecycled. Unless any of you want them!

As far as "The Compact" is concerned; I still haven't completed our official exception list but we have done very well at not buying "stuff", even things that could be considered exceptions. It has not been easy, but it's easier then I thought it would be. And actually liberating! But then I don't like shopping in the first place. I may actually buy some stuff this week. The boys are growing out of their Sunday clothes and I figure sales will be good for Easter. (Kids clothes are on the exception list, within reason of course.)

And finally whale watching pics! They are still sitting on my camera! Sorry! Maybe I'll do a mid-month post....

It's all good,

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

It's official!

My older ds has learned to ride his bike! A few days ago, we removed his training wheels and his pedals so he could learn to balance without the added difficulty of pedaling. Yesterday he told us that he had learned to balance and that he wanted his pedals back on. I though no way did he learn to balance so quickly, but we put the pedals back on for him anyway. Well, he just took off! Today he's riding like a pro! I think my greatest joy as a parent comes as I watch my children learn new things.

I just had to share!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Here there be whales!

Hello March! So far it's come in like a Lamb. Does that mean it will leave like a lion? I actually hope so; we could use some extra rain.

Resolutions Update: (really, this is mostly for me so if you find it boring, feel free to skip it!)

1. Keep up with my exercise routine
We actually went walking in the rain one day. Now that's dedication! (In SoCal anyway, in UT it would have to be snow.)

2. No buying sugary snacks.
Okay, story time. I decided that this resolution was setting up a bad relationship with food for me. Have you ever tried to NOT think of something? Try it. It's like when someone says "Don't look!" what's the first thing you do? Look, of course! So I found with the no buying sugary snacks resolution, I spent more time thinking about snacks so I actually ate more. Therefore, I'm scrapping this one. However, I will replace it with another. I seem to respond better to positive goals, so this one will be changed to "Eat more legumes." Right now we have two dishes with beans in our menu rotation, hearty vegetarian chili and minestrone soup. So to begin with, I will add beans to two more dishes, making one dish a week that includes legumes. I could easily add beans to the chicken and salsa soup and I could use pureed green garbanzos to thicken the broccoli cheese soup. For ease in starting off, everything will be from cans (except the lentils and the frozen green garbanzos) but once the menu is established, I'll start cooking dry beans in the crock pot and freezing them for later use. So there it is. I'm actually pretty excited about this change!

3. Write in my journal once a week.
This month was great! I wrote every week on Sunday. The difficulty will come next week when I'm in Utah. I think maybe I'll give myself a vacation.

4. Write in my blog once a month.
Not as good as last month, but still within the first week!

5. De-clutter one room a month.
I did awesome with this one! I'm so happy with how the boys room is organized now, and it stays much cleaner. I should post a picture! I moved all my stuff to the less accessible side of the closet and put the boys craft shelf inside the closet. Then I added another small bookcase for all their games and I got more plastic storage for some of their new Christmas stuff. The only things left to do are to get rid of the pink plastic Ikea chairs and the gigantic bookcase that is sitting in our room (sighhhh). This month I'll organize the bathroom. That will mostly involve clearing out the cabinets under the sinks and throwing all the old stuff away. Hopefully not too difficult.

Whew! Not bad. Of course if we end up moving, it's all off!

I've decided it would be better to have a specific list of exceptions for the compact rather than a few all purpose, free for all exceptions. I don't have a good list made up yet, so I'll have to post it later, but it will definitely include HP7!

Tomorrow we are all going on a two hour whale watching excursion on a tall ship! I'm so excited!! I'll post pics next month.

Hope no one falls overboard...

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Resolutions Revisited

Yay! I'm actually keeping my blogging resolution! Here's an update on my 2007 resolutions so far:

1. Keep up with my exercise routine.
No sweat. But that's only because it's too cold! (haha) This is my easiest resolution ever! Though I could probably stand to add another 1/2 mile or so to my walk.

2. No buying sugary snacks.
Not as good. I messed up in the first week by buying doughnuts because I forgot! But since then I've been really good. Of course I allow myself the exception of ice cream as long as I eat it at the store. I just can't give up my Stricklands! (I don't get it that often, especially in the winter.)

3. Write in my journal once a week.
I started out alright, but then I started forgetting. Last week I forgot to write on Sunday, but remembered on Monday. So far this week I haven't written, but I hope to remedy that tonight! You'd think this wouldn't be so hard! Trouble is I try to do all my Primary stuff on Sunday so I have the rest of the week for my kids, and it overruns journal writing time. Plus I can never seem to get it all done on Sunday so it spills into the week anyway. Sighhhhh. I think once I get used to the journal writing schedule, it will be easier to remember.

4. Write on my blog once a month.
100%! Wahooo! On the first day even!

5. Declutter one room a month.
I made a really good effort on this one, but I think I choose a bad room to start with. My room is the repository for everything that doesn't have a place, so no matter how hard I try it never seems to 'declutter'. Oh well, I'll get another chance later this year! On to the boys room! I think this one will be easier because everything HAS to have a place or it won't get put away. Since Christmas, there are some new toys and things without places so it has been very hard for them to keep it clean. But I have a plan that I hope will help! Hmmm, I'd better write it down someplace...

There it is! Not too bad, if I say so myself.

In other news, Harry Potter 7 has a release date! Finally! I'm severely tempted to preorder it from Amazon. We'll see what my dh says.

I almost forgot! February marks the beginning of a year long consumer "fast" for us. I got the idea from a group called "The Compact". Basically you refrain from buying anything new for a whole year. Of course there are exceptions, like food and shampoo. To get items you need you borrow, barter, or buy used. (You can read the details here.) We probably won't be as strict as the original folks (they probably didn't have kids!) but we're going to make our best attempt! Today is our 'kick-off' day. I'll let you know next month how it's going!

Here's hoping nothing big breaks this year!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Hi everyone who is still checking my blog in the hopes that I will post (all one of you). To you I say, sorry! I was/am so overwhelmed with Primary stuff, I had to let some things go, and this was it. But I think I may be able post again to a limited degree. Plus, it's 2007!

So with that in mind, here are my 2007 Resolutions:
1. Keep up with my exercise routine.
2. No buying sugary snacks.
3. Write in my journal once a week.
4. Write on my blog once a month.
5. Declutter one room a month.

I usually don't make resolutions because they are so hard to keep and why resolve to do something you know you won't! But I think these are ones I can keep. Besides, I plan to give myself a lot of leeway, and if I happen to mess up, that doesn't mean I get to throw them out. I'll just pick it up the next time around.

Here's my plan in more detail:
1. I go walking most every weekday morning at 7am with a couple of friends in the ward who also live in my housing complex. The key is someone else is counting on me to show up, so it's harder for me to flake. It's worked well for over a year now, so I resolve to keep it up! (I know, it smacks of cheating, but at least I have one resolution I know I'll keep!)
2. This doesn't mean I can't eat sugary snacks, I just can't buy them. And if I do get a craving for, say, chocolate, I have to make it from scratch, which will be healthier anyway. So homemade snacks like cookies etc. are okay. I think this one will be the hardest to keep!
3. I don't write at all now. I know, terrible! But setting a goal of writing every day seems impossible to me right now, so I figured if I could get to the point where I write once a week, on Sunday, it would be doable.
4. I'll post at the beginning of each month, within the first week. If I happen to miss a month, I'll post the next! No pressure!
5. I go crazy if I have a cluttered house. Really. But I live in a small apartment with two kids and a husband and not enough storage. This resolution is for my sanity, so I this is the one I most want to keep. I'll start with my bedroom (jan), then the boys room (feb), the bathroom (mar), the porch (apr), the kitchen (may), and the living room (jun). July I'll take a break then start over. Anything that hasn't been used in the past year goes to DI or freecycle.

There it is. I'll use my monthly blog to review my progress. And thank you to my one reader for sticking with my through this long post!

Happy New Year!