Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chewy Gingersnaps

Is that an oxymoron?  Chewy Gingersnaps?  If you love the crunch of gingersnaps, this recipe is not for you...unless you bake them a lot longer!  But if soft and chewy cookies are what you crave, then whip up a batch of these yummy things and enjoy. 

Chewy Gingersnaps
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, well-beaten
1/2 cup molasses
2 tsp. vinegar
3 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 T. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1.  Cream together butter and sugar.
2.  Stir in eggs, molasses, and vinegar.
3.  Sift and add remaining ingredients.  Mix until blended.
4.  Hand-form into 3/4" balls or use a cookie scoop.
5.  Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet (sprinkle a little coarse sugar on them if you like) and bake at 325ยบ for 10-12 minutes or until barely brown around the edges.

They might not look quite done as they will still appear puffy; they will flatten after you remove them from the oven.  Let cool on the cookie sheet for two minutes before removing them to a rack.  For crispier gingersnaps, add 2-3 minutes to the baking time.  The dough freezes well. 

Note:  I found this recipe on the internet several years ago.  Unfortunately, I didn't save the link so I don't know where I got it.  The only information on the recipe is a generic name, "Unknownchef86."  So, to Unknownchef86, (whoever you are) thanks for a great recipe!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

We're Home!

What a fun week!  While workers were busy refinishing our hardwood floors all week (before and after pictures coming soon), we stayed with friends here in town.  While having eight people descend on anyone for 5 nights, including Thanksgiving, would be daunting, they never once made us feel like we were imposing.  The Randalls are great friends.  Sadie followed 17-year old Miranda around, loving all the attention, not to mention the manicures, hair-do's, and make-overs.  She was in 5-year old heaven.  The boys got their fill of Nerf Gun wars and wii games.  We don't allow sleepovers so Savannah was thrilled to spend 5 nights staying up late and laughing with the girls.  The adults even stayed up late most nights, sharing stories and laughing like kids.

The food was amazing.  The Randalls know how to do Thanksgiving!  I take a lot of shortcuts when I prepare the meal myself, but Paula does it all from scratch.  Everything was so good.  My only regret is that my fridge isn't filled with leftovers this year.  Mmmmm...  Nothing like a cold turkey sandwich after it's all over!  We had way more pie than any of us knew what to do with.  So, so good!

Now we're home.  Our house smells like floor finish.  We have no furniture in the living room.  My feet hurt because there is no place to sit down.  The kids are fighting because being good for a whole week was apparently all they could handle.  But it was worth it!  The floors are beautiful and I can't wait to have everything back to normal.  It's been a great week!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Funny

A lady walked into a boutique and asked the sales lady, "May I try on that cute dress in the window?"

The sales lady replied, "Sure, but wouldn't you be more comfortable in a dressing room?"

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Santa's Underwear

Here's a fun idea for a Christmas gift for a neighbor, student teacher, bus driver, etc.  All you need is a sheet of red felt, a few small buttons, crochet thread or embroidery floss, a cute tag and candy.  Cut the felt into two pieces to look like long underwear - a front and back.  You should have room on the piece to also cut a back flap. (See back view photo below.)  Stitch the buttons and back flap on with the crochet thread.  Then stitch the front and back together, leaving the neck open.  I like the look of the hand stitching, but I guess if you wanted to make a bunch, you could machine stitch them.  Let the kids help!  They don't have to be perfect.  Then stuff it with candy through the open neck and attach a tag that says:

I looked for a stocking
but couldn't find a spare,
so I ended up stuffing
Santa's long red underwear!

I have to thank my friend, Torrie, for this darling idea.  So cute.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Waving Goodbye

Jeff usually walks the three youngest kids to the bus stop each morning.  One day, near the beginning of the school year, I walked with them instead.  Whenever we wave goodbye, we always wave with our hand making the sign language sign for "I love you."  Standing outside the bus on this particular day, I was waving in our usual manner trying to see where the kids were on the bus.  As I looked in each window, I saw one little boy sitting near the front of the bus waving back at me, "I love you" sign and all.  I thought it was so cute!

It must have caught on because yesterday Jeff told me that when he waves to the kids as their bus pulls away, there are always a few other kids already waving their "I love you" to him.  I love it!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Taught By An Apostle

We had Stake Conference this weekend.  As Mormons, we meet weekly with our ward or branch which is a congregation defined by specific geographical boundaries.  Several wards and branches together make up a stake, presided over by a Stake President.  Twice a year we meet together as a stake instead of our regular Sunday meetings.

This weekend we were privileged to be taught by one of the 12 apostles, Elder David A. Bednar.  It's pretty rare anymore to have an apostle preside at Stake Conference.  After all, there are only 12 of them and over 3,000 stakes throughout the world.  At the Adult meeting last night, Elder Bednar spoke of agency and how we use our agency to choose to follow God.  Once we make covenants, we have expended our agency.  Then if we do not follow through, we are breaking covenants, not exercising our agency.  They are completely different.  It was some pretty heavy stuff, but it rang true to me and gave me a lot to think about.  At this morning's general session, Elder Bednar spoke of testimony and conversion.  Again, a lot to think about.  I'm looking forward to studying these things further.

Sam and Savannah attended a youth session yesterday morning where he answered questions.  They were pretty excited that they also got to shake his hand. 

It's been a great weekend!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Worth A Try

Our back-up hard drive died.  Looking back, it gave us plenty of warning -- we just didn't recognize the signs.  Of course all our family video footage was stored on there.  But then Jeff came across this tip:  Put the drive in a ziplock bag and put it in the freezer for 12 hours.  Seriously?

Well, it was worth a try.  I mean what did we have to lose?  And what do you know?  It worked!!  As it slowly hummed back to life, Jeff was able to transfer all the files onto a new drive (a 4-5 hour process) and save the day.  Who would have thought? 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Funny

Three lawyers and three engineers are traveling by train to a conference. At the station, each of the three lawyers buys a ticket while the three engineers buy only one ticket.

"How can the three of you travel on one ticket?" asks a lawyer.

"Watch and you'll see," answers an engineer.

Aboard the train the lawyers take their respective seats while all three engineers cram into the restroom and squeeze the door closed behind them.

When the conductor comes around collecting tickets, he knocks on the restroom door and says, "Ticket, please." The door opens a crack and a single arm emerges with a ticket in hand. The conductor takes it and moves on.

The lawyers are impressed with this clever idea. One the way home from the conference, they decide to copy the engineers' technique. At the station, they buy a single ticket for their return trip. To their astonishment, the engineers don't buy a ticket at all!

"How in the heck are you going to pull this off?" asks a lawyer.

"Watch and you'll see," answers an engineer.

They board the train. The three lawyers cram into one restroom and the three engineers cram into the other restroom.

Shortly after the train departs, one of the engineers leaves his restroom and knocks on the other restroom door. "Ticket, please!"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Fossil

Take a look at this bad boy.  This is our awesome cell phone; the only one we've ever owned.  It's pretty obvious that this has not become a major portion of our annual budget, especially when you consider the fact that we put 1000 minutes on it last December and we still have over 250 minutes left.  If we don't use them by December 26, we lose the rest.

In an attempt to use up some minutes, we've been sending it with Savannah to various functions so she can call us when she's ready to come home.  She loves it.  She was okay with it until she attended the basketball game at the middle school last week.  She pulled it out and her friend Dakota said, "Um...Why hasn't that thing fossilized by now?"  Savannah laughed it off, making a crack about her awesome parents and how "in" we are, but I'm pretty sure she just wanted to crawl under the bleachers.  A few other friends threw in their own ancient/antique comments about our amazing phone.  They were just jealous.  I mean, who wouldn't be?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Duck Duck Goose

So what do you do when your 5 year old realizes she hasn't played duck-duck-goose forever and there is just the two of you?  Well, as it turns out, it is possible to play with just two people, a few "friends" and a lot of imagination.  (But it will be a really short game...)
Sadie, Woody, Evan and little plastic elephant ready for the big game!
(Excuse the floor....we're having it refinished next week.  I can't wait!)

Monday, November 15, 2010


It's so fun to win stuff!  A year ago, at a faculty appreciation event, my name was drawn in a raffle for a portable DVD player.  Ours had broken a few months before so I was thrilled to get a new one. 

A couple of months ago, we were attending a free movie on campus as part of "Family Weekend."  The movie is always something that's recently left the theater but hasn't come out on DVD yet.  This year it was Toy Story 3.  They give out prizes each year and this year the big prize was a plush Woody doll and a DVD copy of Toy Story.  My kids were anxiously holding their tickets as the last number was pulled from the hat.  And it was my number.  The kids were thrilled and I was happy to finally be able to retire our old VHS copy of Toy Story. 

Recently, Jeff was asked to fill out a survey about a textbook he uses.  Everyone who participated would be entered in a drawing.  Jeff thought it would be pretty cool to win, but he never wins stuff.  So he filled out the survey and didn't think about it again.

Then he got the e-mail informing him that he was the winner...of an iPad.    Woo Hoo!!!!  Hey Jeff, trade ya!  :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Have you ever heard...

All 24 variations of "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" by Sergei Rachmaninoff?  All in one sitting?  By a live orchestra?  With an amazing pianist?  Who had the entire 24 minutes of it memorized?  And were two of your boys playing violin in the orchestra?  And did variation 18 make you cry?

Yes, to all of the above.  Unforgettable!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dear Sterling,

Has it really been 9 years since I first held you in my arms?  I wondered how I ever lived without you before that moment.

Has it really been 8 years since you became our "tornado boy," always looking for something you could empty, climb, or otherwise destroy?  You were my hardest toddler, but your smile and innocence could melt any heart.

Has it really been 7 years since we had an alarm on our front door so we'd know when you escaped?  You've always been so adventurous.

Has it really been 6 years since you taught yourself to ride a two-wheeler?  You are the most determined kid I've ever met. 

Has it really been 5 years since you started preschool, literally kicking and screaming all the way?  It took a few weeks, but then you amazed us all with your caring spirit and all that you learned that year.

Has it really been 4 years since you became obsessed with Legos?  We would have done well to invest in the company back then...

Has it really been 3 years since you asked to take violin lessons?  That "practice run" turned out much better than any of us expected and you are amazing on that thing!

Has it really been 2 years since you started writing and illustrating stories?  You have always been so creative.

Has it really been 1 year since you were baptized?  You've made so many good choices since then.

Happy 9th Birthday, Boog.  I know I told you I'd try not to call you that in public, but since only 3 people read my blog do you think it might be okay just this once?  I love you, buddy.  I'm so glad you're mine!

Friday Funny

It's Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, and a man makes his way to his seat right at center ice. He sits down, noticing that the seat next to him is empty. He leans over and asks his neighbor if someone will be sitting there. 

"No" says the neighbor. "The seat is empty."

"This is incredible," said the man. "Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the Stanley Cup and not use it?"

The neighbor says, "Well, actually, the seat belongs to me. I was supposed to come with my wife, but she passed away. This is the first Stanley Cup we haven't been to together since we got married."

"Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that. That's terrible... But couldn't you find someone else, a friend or relative, or even a neighbor to take the seat?"

The man shakes his head. "No,” he says. “They're all at the funeral."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

T-SGT Leonard R. Hardy

This is my Great Uncle Leonard Hardy.  I've never known much about him other than that he died way too young in WWII in France.  But then last month my aunt and uncle visited France.  They went to the cemetery where Leonard is buried.  If I'm not mistaken, it's the first time in more than 40 years that anyone in the family has been to his grave.  Suddenly he was more than 'Grandma's brother who died in the war.'  He was a real person who had a life. 

He left behind a young wife.  Leonard's death was hard on his father; after all, Leonard's mother had passed away only the year before.  Leonard faced some difficult situations in his life and had suffered much heartache, but he kept getting up when he was down.  I can only imagine the things he must have witnessed in the war.  Yet, apparently, he was willing to take on a special mission after his tour of duty was complete.  It was while piloting this mission that he was shot down.  

Like so many (too many) others, Leonard gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country.  He hasn't been forgotten.  

T-SGT Leonard R. Hardy
Serial Number: 29682373 (US Air Force)
Unit: 454 Bomber Squadron – 323 Bomber Group/Medium
Born: 27 March 1910 in Sterling, Alberta, Canada
Died: 28 September 1944 in Chartres, Eure-et-Loir, France
Decorations: Air Medal with 8 Oak Leaf Clusters
Cemetery: Brittany (France)
Location: B-06-12

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Beware the Bandana Man

A few days ago, Sadie ran in from outside.
"Mom, bad news," she said.  "Whenever I was bringing my watering can back to the house, I saw a red car with a man in it with a bandana!"

I wasn't making a connection so I asked, "Why is that bad?"

"I'm scared.  He might kidnap me," she replied.

"Oh, do kidnappers wear bandanas?"

"Yes," she said, "and they steal stuff."

Who knew?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Daddy's Castle

This is the view as I drive down one of the streets in town several times a week.  The most recognizable building on campus, the kids have called it "Daddy's Castle" since we moved here.  Jeff's office is in a building just around the corner.  During the Christmas season, strings of white lights outline the building.  It's one of my favorite sights; just one of the many things I love about calling my little corner of the world 'Home.'

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Several days ago, Soren was moping around because none of his friends could come over to play.  He was feeling quite sorry for himself when the doorbell rang.  When we answered the door, we found Sterling who said, "Can Soren play?"  Soren didn't see much consolation in this arrangement and refused.  Touched that he would do this for his brother, I regretfully informed Sterling that Soren couldn't play, but maybe later.  About 30 seconds later, the doorbell rang again.  "Can Soren play now?"

I sweetened the deal by saying, "Soren, why don't you invite Sterling in to play wii with you?"  That perked him up and the boys made their way downstairs and spent the better part of the day playing one thing or another together. 

That's definitely a great mom moment to see my kids helping and cheering each other.  I'm so glad these two are buddies!  Thanks, Sterling, for being a great brother.  You saved the day!

Taken a couple of years ago, but I love their cheesy faces

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Past Forward: My Life On Stage

I used to attend a memoir writing group called "Past Forward" sponsored by our County Arts Council.  It was fun to write and share with the group.  Some of the other members of the group would write about their lives during WWII and before.  I enjoyed listening to their stories.  For the past year or so I've had a conflict which keeps me from attending the monthly meetings, but I ran into Janet, the director of Past Forward, at the post office several weeks ago.  She informed me that the little theater group here in town had scheduled 3 weekend shows of "Past-Forward:  Memoirs of Local Residents, a staged reading."  She asked if I wanted to participate so I told her she was welcome to choose one of my pieces to submit if she'd like.  The local paper wrote up a story about the event and there were even a couple of people in town who stopped me and told me they thought it was exciting that I was a part of this.  I had to submit a short "bio" and a photo of me.  I was feeling like quite the celebrity!  Okay, not really, but I was curious.

I attended the opening last night.  The theater is small, only a few rows of seating, but they filled it up.  The pieces were diverse, from war stories to pet stories to life in general.  The piece Janet selected for me was "Cars," written a couple of years ago about the cars I drove - or, in the case of the car pictured above, wouldn't drive - growing up.  Phyllis was the reader of my piece.  She has a dynamic voice, sort of a cross between a Chicago and New York accent.  It went over well, even got a few laughs.  I'm glad I had a small part in it.  It's probably the closest I'll ever get to seeing my life on stage.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Funny

A guy is sitting at home when he hears a knock at the door. He opens the door and sees a snail on the porch. He picks up the snail and throws it as far as he can. Three years later, there’s a knock on the door. He opens it and sees the same snail. The snail says, "What was that all about?"

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How To: Sour Creams

Aren't these cute?  They are like the containers that sour cream sometimes comes in when you order a baked potato at a restaurant.  Only these are better because they are filled with chocolate! They are perfect for saying 'thank you,' 'thinking of you,' or just to say 'hi.'  Read on to find out how to make them.

Here's what you will need:
  • Cute paper - 4.25" x 5.5" (that's 1/4 of an 8.5" x 11" sheet.)  Hint:  Cardstock doesn't work well because it's too thick.
  • Double sided tape.
  • Paper crimper (optional)
  • Hershey kisses or other small treats.

Here's what you do:

1.  For each sour cream, you need 3 pieces of double sided tape:  One that is 4.25" and two that are 2.75".  Position them on the reverse side of the paper as shown in the photo (left).

2.  Remove the backing on all of the tape and roll into a tube, overlapping the ends.  Apply pressure to make sure the tape has a firm hold.  Just to be clear, you are rolling it so that the short sides will roll towards each other and you seal it with the longer piece of tape.  It will be about the size of a toilet paper roll.
3.  Seal one end of the tube, lining up the tape strip on that end.  (See photo below.)

4.  Fill with candy.  I can't tell you how many times I've forgotten this step and ended up with an empty 'sour cream!'  About 5 or 6 hershey kisses seems just about right.
 5.  Seal up the other end in the opposite (perpendicular) direction from the first.  The tape should be lined up just right to make the seal.
6.  You can stop here if you don't have a crimper.  But for a finishing touch, crimp both ends by rolling it through a paper crimper.  It only takes a few seconds and makes it look a little less homemade.  :) 

After you make one or two, you'll see they are super easy and well received by kids, teachers, friends...  Please share your ideas of what to put in them or what you're using them for in the comments.  Have fun!! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Keeping Sterling Warm

Sterling's 3rd grade class traveled 2 hours to our state capitol last week.  The weather had been fairly mild earlier in the week, but on field trip day it was windy and really cold.  In the excitement and rush of getting ready, Sterling left home without his coat.  Having begged for a ride to school that morning, I doubt Sterling even thought about his coat since he didn't have to wait at the cold bus stop.  As I watched him get out of the van in his short-sleeved t-shirt, my heart dropped as I realized there was nothing I could do.  His bus was leaving within 10 minutes and I couldn't make it home and back in time.  I worried about him all day.

I didn't feel any better after calling the school hotline that evening to see what time they would be home.  The message his teacher left said they had a great day, although eating lunch outside was really cold.   I was gearing myself up for a miserable little boy when I picked him up at the school that evening.

But Sterling was all smiles.  He had a great time and one of the girls in his class let him borrow a jacket.  A purple jacket.  He was just glad to have something!  But then he told me that his teacher bought a sweatshirt in the museum gift shop for her nephew and told Sterling he could wear it the rest of the day.  Now, I don't know if she bought that sweatshirt for her nephew or not, but that one gesture brought tears to my eyes.  Maybe I'm making too much of this, but every time I think about it I am so grateful to a wonderful teacher for keeping Sterling warm.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I spoke too soon

So much for motion sensor lights.  Here's a glimpse of what we came home to the other night...

The culprits did a thorough job, decorating the front and backyard.  It made us laugh so it's not all bad!