Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Our Halloween week was a lot of fun.  The girls were Ariel and Sleeping Beauty, and they enjoyed a few nights of unabashed princessing.

Thursday night was the Sentinel School Carnival, where Grandma S works.  The girls spent the night there after the carnival, while Farmboy and I drove in to Phoenix to go to the Mesa Temple and then pick up our sister in law, who was coming to town for a visit.

Sunday was the Primary program, and Pea had two speaking parts.  In the first, she told about how her scripture hero is Queen Esther (who she picked herself), and the second was about how scriptures are 'inspiring messages' written by prophets.  It was hilarious watching her.  She is a natural ham.  Strawberry had a very minor part, as she is in the nursery (not yet being 3).  The nursery kids did get to join in on one song, "I am a child of god."

Finally, today was trick-or-treating.  we drove around the neighborhood, visiting mostly houses of people we knew.  We stayed out about 45 minutes, which was plenty for us.  It's a lot slower with little ones, but they sure had a blast.  They didn't get as much candy as I anticipated, probably because of how slow they walked between houses.  We probably only made it to 8 or so houses, but it's not like they needed more candy anyway.  Everyone told them how cute they were, and they loved it.  The neighbors were "awww" inspired whenever Strawberry would tell them, "I Sweeping Beauty".

What cute girls, and a fun week.

Friday, October 7, 2011

My Trip to Hawaii

I am going to tell you about how wonderful and amazing my trip was, and then you can be jealous.  Heck, I'm even a little jealous, and I was there!  It was just so wonderfully peaceful and beautiful, and we were just feet from the ocean.  I think the best part was that we were in the non-tourist area, so it wasn't really ever crowded or loud.

First of all, our accommodations:
Sunrise, as seen from our balcony
Our condo was in the best imaginable location.  We were on the southernmost point of the island, so both sunrise and sunset were over the ocean.  Our balcony faced east, so we got to see sunrise every morning.

We did some really fun things:
Kevin and I at the Mini Golf Botanical Gardens
I wanted to go to one of the many botanical gardens, but they are fairly expensive as a rule.  We found this garden on the North Shore, and it was a garden with a twist: it's a mini golf course.  As you go from hole 1 to 18, there are plants arranged around the holes that show the botanical history of the island.  Thus, we start at hole 1 with native plants, there before anyone came here, and go through the polynesian, plantation,  asian, and current plants.   I took one picture at every hole, leaving me with a photographic history of the island.  I'll post them in a separate post.

At Kilohana Plantation
Apparently, Kauai used to be a big plantation island.  It isn't so much any more, but there are hundreds of fallow fields all over the island.  Because the island is so mountainous, the plantation owners employed terrace farming, so there are rock walls and overgrown fields in lots of hidden, out of the way places.  A few of the plantations are still open to the public for touring, and we went to Kilohana Plantation to do just that.  It has some shops and a train that goes all around the grounds, but we didn't do the train.  There is also a luau in the evening, but we didn't do that either.  Can we say expensive?  We walked around the grounds on our own, and they had some fields of sugar, papaya, and tapa root.

 Of course, we did other things, like shopping, sight-seeing, and snorkeling, but I don't really have any pictures of that.  I was too busy!

Sunset from our condo
And to top it all off, here is a picture of the sunset from some benches downstairs at our condo.  I love this picture.  It just reminds me of the waves, the cool breeze, and the smell of the ocean.  Aahhh.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Crafty Mamas

We made little stuffed birds today for our Thursday crafternoon.  I made one for Pea, one for Strawberry, and we made several more for the other kiddies.  It was lots of fun and a joint effort.  I think they turned out really cute.  This one is Pea's; Strawberry's is purple, and she wouldn't give it up to have a picture taken.

Danelle was one of the moms over today, and she made this.  She was going to a wedding this weekend and made this as a gift.  The tutorial for how she did it can be found here. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Busy, busy, busy

It has been nothing but crazy over here lately.  I got a cold, which turned into a sinus infection, that I have been battling all week.  I'm definitely on the upside, but I still sound gross and am all snuffly, plus I seem to get worn out somewhat quickly. Then, Emily was sick for one night, miserable with a fever, which I thought was because she had gotten what I had.  Instead, it turned out she was getting four teeth in (all of her canines).  Poor baby.  She's fine now and has a mouthful!

In spite of this, it's been a really busy week.  I have started doing yoga this week, and have done three days thus far (I skipped three due to illness).  It's kind of kicking my butt, but I guess that's a good thing.  As of yesterday, I'm down 2 1/2 pounds.  Not bad, not bad.

Also, I've been cleaning and organizing trying to get my house back into some semblance of order.  Not an easy task, might I add.  Too many vacations and other events where I had stuff packed up and never really unpacked, lots of laundry in piles that I wasn't willing to wash, and a giant explosion of a toy room.  But it's mostly done now, and we can actually *live* in our house again.

And now, some pictures that never got posted during my summer hiatus:

Doorway Puppet Theater
Strawberry hasn't really figured out to keep her head down behind the curtain.

I made this SMU pillowcase for my brother,
who is attending the university  beginning this semester.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Monster Hunter Alpha

Monster Hunter Alpha
by Larry Correia

8 out of 10
Adult Science Fiction / Horror

This is book three in the Monster Hunter series.  Larry Correia does not disappoint.  Incredibly well-written and well-paced.  His books thus far show the promising trend of improving with each new release, leaving readers excited for more.

That was really more of a review of the author than the book itself.  But to be honest, I would read anything Larry Correia puts out and have yet to be disappointed.  Caveat: this is NOT young adult fiction.

That being said, this book didn't receive higher marks for one reason: it was missing my favorite characters.  Learning more about Earl was really awesome, and I agree that showcasing Earl precluded having Owen be the main character.  The fault was neither the author's nor the book's; I think the problem is that I have developed a teensy crush on Z.  Of course, as a glasses-wearing sci-fi fan who likes to imagine herself as being as rockin' as Julie, I suppose it was inevitable.  Now Correia comes along and makes Earl as awesome as Z, and what's a girl to do?

Update! And Invites!

Okay, so much has been going on in my life, and I haven't been blogging at all.

First of all, a status update:
I am NOT teaching at Antelope this year, although I am volunteering in order to help Kurtis out with Calculus.  I have been staying at home, and I somehow seem so much busier!

On Wednesdays, we go to the library for storytime, then our friends who meet us there come back to our house for snacks and some preschool activities.
On Thursdays, we have a Ladies' Craft Day, in which I pick a craft I have been wanting to do (or one of the other ladies suggests), and we get our craft on.
Fridays and Saturdays Kevin is home, so we do family things.  Meanwhile, I also have started a Mary Kay business, and I do a lot of appointments on those days.
Sunday, of course, is church and family day.

Also, I have two activities I would like to invite any of my blog readers to.
1: Online Book of Mormon Book Club - This is going to be a combination discussion group and institute-like class.  I will be using the BoM Institute manual (at least, the one they had back in the day when I took it) as well as some supplementary articles.  It will have an emphasis on Hebrew, historical, and Biblical connections.

2: Artist Trading Card Club - This is not my brainchild, but I read about it and thought it would be a really fun thing to do for kids.  Each Art Trading Card is 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", and they can be decorated in any way imaginable.  Then, cards are traded and collected in much the same way that baseball or other trading cards are (but not sold!)  I think this could be a really fun alternative to penpals, and a great way to keep in touch with other kids, both friends and family.

Note: I am considering an ATC for adults, too: favorite trading cards would make great gift tags or could even be added to the front of a blank card for great handmade cards.

If you're interested in doing any of these activities with us, let me know (comment me!).

As for my writing group, plan on starting back up September 1st!  Summer is over, let's get to work!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Memorial Day

My littlest brother loves the armed forces. His entire room is decorated in camo. He takes it very seriously, though. To him, being a soldier isn't just about shooting people and having fun in battle (which I imagine any real soldier would agree with). He believes it is a duty to protect the people and the nation, and he honors and respects any who put their lives in the way of danger to do so.

This is a picture of the mirror in his bedroom, and I think it says a lot about his personality. I don't know who the trooper is in the picture, but Jared was proud just to be in a picture with a soldier.

I am proud of my brother, and I am so grateful to all the soldiers. I know I'm a little behind on posting, and it's not Memorial Day anymore, but I still want to post my thanks to all the soldiers who have laid their lives on the line to save mine. There is a special place in heaven for these men and women.
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Monday, May 16, 2011

Book Reviews--Children's Edition

We got some new kids' books in the mail this week and had a great time reading together.

Freight Train
by Donald Crews

4 out of 10

In spite of this being a Caldecott honor book as well as a Mulberry book, I didn't really love it.  I didn't particularly dislike it, either, but it was just blah.  We read it once and I feel no great desire to read it again.  It's a train.  Each car is a different color.  The end.  Not so exciting or interactive.

In the Town all Year Round
by  Rotraut Susan Berner

9 out of 10

This is a wonderful look-and-find book.  It's large enough that one girl can sit on each side of me and feel like they have plenty of book to look at.  Many of the characters are named, and my four year old especially likes to make up stories about them.  There are lots of silly things, like a magpie who likes to steal interesting items and hide them in her nest. The pictures follow a pattern, which makes it possible to make up sensible stories with beginning, middle and end.  My two year old gets quite a kick just trying to find some of the funny things, like a penguin hiding by a nun or a motorcyclist who turns out to be Santa.


by Scott M. Fisher 

10 out of 10

This is such a wonderful book.  We love it.  It has a great rhythm and is really fun to read.  The story falls into a pattern, so the girls can guess what is coming up.  They get very excited when it is time to shout, "JUMP!" and, of course, jump up to say it.  There are great sound words, really cute illustrations, and it's just so much fun. There are also a lot of rhyming words, which is something we're working on.  Both my two year old and my four year old love this book. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Flower Garden for You

This is a card inspired at this site, which gives instructions on creating lots of neat things.  I used KR Floral Color Me 2 font to make and print the flowers, which I then cut out and colored with pencil.  The card was made with paper scraps cut according to the very good instructions previously mentioned.  It's been a while since I made a pop-up anything, but I'm really happy with how it turned out.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Stained Glass Tutorial

A few weeks ago, my niece was baptized shortly after her eighth birthday.  I like to make something special to commemorate the occasion, and I stumbled upon the perfect idea a few days before the baptism.  I found this tutorial for making stained glass windows out of glue and acrylic paint.

Unfortunately, I was out of clear glue (read: I didn't even know they made it).  So I mixed some watercolor paint  with watered down white glue.  That being said, I'm going to tell you how you should do it, because it will turn out better.

Step 1:  Before you get started, prepare your materials.  You will need:
glass and frame (aka cheap photo frame)
white craft glue (elmer's type glue works great)
clear glue (again elmer's clear glue)
acrylic paints in desired colors.  You need black.
White paper and pen/pencil.
Craft knife (you only need this if you're sloppy. I needed it)
Small paintbrush

Step 2: mix black acrylic paint in with your white elmer's glue until it's black.  This is the only color you need white glue for.  It needs to be in the bottle because you will want a fine tip for the black glue.

Step 3: Mix other desired colors in a muffin tin or on disposable plates.

Step 4:  Clean your glass.  You need some clear glass and a suitable frame for it.  I took a dollar-store frame and removed the back for mine.  Perfect.

Step 5:  Get out some white paper and pencil.  Now, draw the line art for your stained glass.  I drew some watery waves, a dove, and some light shining on the water as a representation of baptism.  You could do any number of drawings.  My 4 year old has requested a mermaid stained glass for her birthday.  

Step 6: Now place the glass from the frame over the line art.

Step 7: With the black tinted glue, carefully trace over the lines.  If you make a mistake, don't worry.  You can use a craft knife to clean up any smudges once the glue is dry. Allow to dry completely, preferably over night.

Step 8: With your tinted clear glue,  brush a healthy amount of the tinted colors where desired.  I should have taken a picture of this step, but I was having too much fun.  If you use the clear glue like I didn't, then your finished colors will be more transparent and shinier. I went out and bought clear glue for the mermaid.

Step 9: Again, allow to dry completely, probably overnight again.  Slide the finished product into the frame and glue in place.  Hot glue will probably work, I used E6000.

Step 10: Done!  You can place a suction cup hanger on the back to hang on a window or just prop it against a window.  The type of hanging you do will depend on what kind of frame you choose.
Not bad for a first try, but I'll be trying again.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Tonight was the Academic Awards banquet at the high school.  First of all, I would like to thank whoever came up with the idea of combining awards night with dinner.  Also, I am very proud of all of my students who were honored tonight.

The teachers had reserved seating up front, but I decided to sit next to my friend/aunt whose son was being inducted into the National Honor Society tonight also.

And it's getting late now, so I'll have to post more later.  Night, y'all.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Though your sins be as scarlet

Today I taught the primary lesson for Sharing Time.  We talked about repentance and how the Savior takes away our sins.  I had a glass of water that they could all see.  I added a drop of food coloring, and they watched it swirl until the water was blue.

When you sin, your soul is stained.  As one of the kids said, "It's blue because you're sad."

Then, I added bleach to the water.  The water got lighter, but it was still kind of blue.  So then I talked about the steps of repentance.  When we sin, we feel sorry.  Then we ask for forgiveness and try to make it right.  Finally, we don't do that sin anymore.

I let the kids come up with some examples. "It's like if you accidentally break something your mom really needs, and she comes in and asks, 'who broke this?' And you say, 'not me,' that's lying.  And you should repent.  Because lying makes you sad.  So then you say sorry to your mom and pray 'please forgive me' and then you have to tell your mom the truth.  Because if you lie, then you have to tell the truth.  And don't lie next time."

And Pea offered this insight:  "And if you break the counter on purpose, you should be sorry.  And you'll have to fix it, because that's how you make it right."  I'll remember that next time I feel the desire to break the counter.

By the time the kids were done talking, the water was totally clear.  I held it up and said, "That's right.  Our water was blue from when we sinned, but then we added the bleach, which is like Jesus.  Now, there's no blue left in our water.  It's just like we never put any blue in at all.  When we repent, it's like we never sinned."

And I got an uproar of "that's so cool!"  That's right.  Jesus IS cool.

And when we got home from church, Pea told daddy all about the "Spirit-mint" (experiment) we did today at church.  "Mom put some blue in the water, because when you sin you get sad, and then when you add  (aside to me--what was Jesus again? ) when you add bleach, it goes away!"

I'll take that.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I Don't Want to Kill You

I Don't Want to Kill You
by Dan Wells

9.5 out of 10
YA Fantasy/Horror

From my recent book reviews, you may get the idea that I read a lot of horror.  I don't.  As a matter of fact, these series represent almost the sum total of my horror genre reading, with the notable exceptions of classics such as Frankenstein and Dracula, only one of which I have read in the recent past.

You may also get the idea that I read a lot of fantasy.  That one is true.  I do read other books, but I prefer fantasy.  Young adult, middle grade, adult, military, or post-apocalyptic; if it has fantasy, I'm drawn to it.

This series, of which IDWTKY is book 3, falls in the young adult category.  It's intense, though; not for readers with delicate constitutions.  I remember reading book 1 alone late at night...I had to crawl in bed with my three-year-old.

Amazingly enough, the series gets better with each installment.  By the end of book 3, which is, as far as I understand, the end of the series, I'm ready to read the next twenty books.  It had twists and turns I never saw coming.  John has some real stand-up-and-cheer moments, and as a reader, you just ache for him.

It's an amazing, horrific fantasy full of adventure, psychology, and drama.  Now that all three are out, don't wait.  If you haven't read any, start with I Don't Want to Be a Serial Killer and go on John's journey with him. You'll want to have all three...the wait was a killer.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mmmm...smells good

I decided to try making my own line of Aromatherapy products.  I ordered some essential oils and bath/body bases.  They came when I got home from school today.  Very excited.  After all the other things we had to do today, I opened that box and got started.  I got five different oils, which I tried in various mixes until I had a few recipes I liked.  Then, I got busy making stuff.

The shower gel is in my first scent, which is a fresh, earthy, invigorating blend of citrus and mint.  I'm not spilling my secret recipes on here.  I'm planning on selling my products as I get better at blending them.  So far, so good.

The hand soap is in my second scent, which I'm calling my 'kids' scent.  It's brighter, with a higher ratio of citrus to the other scents.  I think it's a little mintier than I would like for hand soap, but Rebecca likes it.  Next time, less mint.

The shampoo is actually a men's shampoo, with lower notes and only a tiny, tiny hint of the mint.  We'll see tonight if Kevin likes it.

I dabbed on a bit of the oil mixture from the first one to see how I liked the scent, and I really love it.  I think it's very promising as a perfume, but I'm not so sure about it as a soap.  I'm trying it tonight, and I'll report back later.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Okay, so we talked about principles at church today.   The lead-in example was about scuba diving and the principle of buoyancy.  Some things that affect buoyancy are the type of water, your weight, and the weight of your equipment.  How much weight you put on based on your circumstance will affect your dive.  If you have too much weight, you go down too fast, but if you don't have enough, you will not go down at all.

An important principle in the gospel is faith.  When Jesus heals people, it is through faith.  "Go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole." Faith has great power.  We talked about a lot of aspects of faith for a long time.

The thing that struck me, though, was this.  You can know everything there is to know about a principle, but if you don't apply it, it doesn't do you any good.  You can be able to calculate the buoyancy of your suit and weights precisely, but if you don't put it on your dive suit before you jump in, you're not diving.

It's the same with faith.  You can know about other people who have faith.  You can read about the miracles Jesus performed.  If you don't have faith yourself or don't know what to do with it, it's not doing you any good.  Do you know that Jesus is the Christ?  The very Son of God?  That He lives?  That's something you should have faith in.  If you do, what do you do with that faith?  Live like Him.  If you have faith, your life will show it.  You will want to do as Christ taught, which was to be like Him.  Love others, serve others.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Monster Hunter Vendetta

Monster Hunter Vendetta
by Larry Correia

9.5 out of 10

Still not suitable for young persons.  I have recommended this book to some of my seniors, but not to any freshmen.  The violence is a little graphic, though I'm sure they see worse on their video games.  Language and sex are pretty clean, but I wouldn't read this book sitting in a church pew.

Now, if violence scares you off, let me preface this by saying I hate violent movies.  I don't watch horror shows or war movies.  I don't enjoy watching people get hurt.  That being said, the violence in books doesn't bother me as much.  I used to skip battle scenes when I started reading mil SF, but I've come to realize that reading about blood and guns and whatnot just isn't as graphic.  Though props to Larry, it's very well described.

I bought this book recently when I went to a conference in Phoenix.  I wanted to get this book since before it came out, but (if you followed my blog previously, you know this) we were pretty broke.  So I put a hold on book buying, online ordering, and any non-necessities.  Now that we're jobful again (that obviously being the opposite of jobless), it was one of the things on my immediate to-do list.  There was a Borders bookstore right by the restaurant (which as an aside, I am very sad that they are going out of business, but very happy at store-wide clearance), and I told my colleagues as they pulled the car up--"I'll be RIGHT back.  I know exactly what I'm getting."  That was the fastest I've ever been in and out of a bookstore.  Ever.

Anyway, the book was totally worth it.  Larry Correia is my third-favorite author, the first two being John Ringo and Brandon Sanderson, and the order switches around depending on whose book I'm currently reading.

This is a follow-up on my review of Monster Hunters International, the first in this series.

Owen Pitt has become more butt-kicking than ever.  After pissing off a majorly evil multi-dimensional being in book 1, Pitt is now the target of a fanatical cult led by an evil necromancer.  Agent Franks has been assigned to 'keep him safe,' and, as you can probably imagine, nothing remotely safe actually occurs in the course of the book.

My favorite parts:  the zombies and gnomes.  But, as far as I know, no zombie gnomes.  But the best part, most definitely, was the penguin.  I still pick my book up and turn it upside-down every so often just to get a smile.
Least favorite: the troll.  It was a little over the top.  But then, I suppose that trolls are.

I love this book.  There are so many things about it I absolutely loved.  I could go on and on.

I hate telling too much and giving away spoilers.  So, rather than have me tell you the plot, just let me tell you this:  you should read it.  But read book 1 first.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What a Wonderful Weekend

Wonderfully, we went westward where we welcomed warm weather without wandering waifs.

I was just feeling randomly alliterative.  At any rate, we went to San Diego for the weekend sans children.

Friday we went to Seaport Village, which is a collection of shops on the shoreline that are ridiculously overpriced but very fun to go to.  They have a couple of art galleries, and one of them had the artist painting while we watched.  I particularly liked the paintings there by Walfrido Garcia, but it was neat to get to watch an artist painting.  He was really nice and introduced himself to everyone and stopped to answer questions.   I liked his style, but he does a lot of paintings of buildings, and I prefer landscapes.

Anyway, after the Village, we went to Coronado Beach, which is located on an "island" in the center of the bay. I say "island" because there's a road out to it that they keep build up (and it's not a bridge), so technically it's a peninsula.  With a very skinny isthmus.  The cool part was that on the north side of the island is the Coronado Naval Air Station, and the flight path lines up right over the beach.  It was like going to an air show.  Very cool.

Our hotel was the Sheraton, and it had a really nice pool.  It had lots of other nice things, too, like tennis courts, a gym, and probably lots of other stuff, but we only used the pool.  Also, it was technically a marina, so it did have a walking path right on the edge of the bay where you could rent boats or sign up for a whale-watching tour.

Saturday we went to Balboa park, which is where the San Diego Zoo is.  We did not go to the zoo.  Instead, we went to the Fleet Science Center, which has tons of hands-on science exhibits.  It was one of those places that you go on a field trip, but it was really fun going as an adult, too.  Pea would have enjoyed it, and I couldn't help thinking about that as we were there, but the twinge was only momentary.  Fleeting, as it were.

The best part was the Hubble IMAX show.  Ostensibly, the show was about repairing the Hubble telescope, but it was really an excuse to watch AWESOME images of space on a GIANT screen.  This here is the Orion Nebula, which the Hubble took.  The movie took us inside the cloud, navigating around it and viewing deep inside.

Then, we lazed around the park, going through the gardens and exhibits, watching street musicians and various other entertainers.  We passed three Tarot card readers, one of whom was a very non-mysterious-looking guy, which in and of itself was very mysterious.

Saturday was rather uneventful, but I will say driving in San Diego is  miserable.  The roads go up and down hills, turn suddenly into one-way streets, and are an all-around pain to navigate.  We tried to go to a nearby stake center for the Priesthood session of Conference, but rather than being 5 minutes late, we drove around in circles and were half an hour late.  Oh, well.  It's not like anyone there knew who we were or is ever going to see us again.

We made it home by 1am.  Sunday we went to Grandma's farm to watch the rest of Conference on the TV.  Pea and Strawberry were very good and neither wanted to come home.  Due to a babysitting glitch, Pea is staying with Grandma for the rest of the week.  Strawberry was very upset that she had to go home but Pea got to stay.  She did seem to enjoy the one-on-one attention yesterday, though.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sweet Potato Rolls

When we lived in BYU housing many, many moons ago, I had a neighbor drop by a plate of pumpkin rolls 'just because.'  I don't even remember which neighbor, but I sure do remember those rolls.  They were incredible.  Soft, sweet, and delicious, they were reminiscent of potato rolls and those Hawaiian rolls you get with your Fried Chicken meal at Smith's.  I begged her for the recipe, which she gave, and I promptly lost.

Last week, I developed a craving for those rolls, but the recipe was nowhere to be found.  As previously mentioned, I don't even remember who gave me the rolls in the first place, so I couldn't beg for the recipe again. Undaunted, I searched for the recipe online and found one at Tammy's Recipes that I thought would make a pretty good approximation.

What with it being spring and all, I'm fresh out of pumpkin, both canned and fresh variety.  Still, we were going to town on Tuesday for the fair, so I stopped by the local Wal-Mart with high hopes.  No.  They were out of pumpkin.  I ask you, how are they out of pumpkin?  Who buys canned pumpkin in March? I mean, besides me. I must admit, I was kind of crushed, when my mother-in-law asked, "So, what did you want the pumpkin for, anyway?"  When I explained, she suggested, "You know, you should try canned sweet potato.  It's a pretty good substitute."

And boy, was she right.  I think I like it better than the original.  Ah-mazing.  So, without further ado, here is my modified (both because we were out of pumpkin and because I was making it slightly healthier) version of Tammy's rolls.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups warm milk
¼ cup butter, softened or melted (I warm it with the milk above)
2 cups mashed canned sweet potato (It worked out to be one of the big cans)
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
8-10 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
7 teaspoons dry yeast


1. In large mixing bowl, combine sugar, water, milk, butter, mashed sweet potato, and salt. Mix well.
2. Add whole wheat flour, 5-6 cups of the AP flour, and yeast. Mix, and then continue adding flour and kneading until dough is elastic and not sticky.
3. Place dough in greased bowl; grease top of dough, cover with a towel, and set in a warm place until doubled (about 60-90 minutes).
4. Punch dough down and divide into thirds. Divide each third into 16 pieces and shape into balls.
5. Place on greased baking sheets, and grease tops. (I use two 11x15-inch baking sheets, and put 24 rolls on each.) Cover and let rise until almost doubled, about 30 minutes.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until tops are golden. Remove to wire racks and cover with a towel. Brush tops with butter if desired, as soon as rolls are removed to the wire racks. Serve warm with butter.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ain't Nothin' I Know Of Can Make you Fall in Love...

Like a Night at the County Fair

Pea and Strawberry and I went with Grandma and some of Grandma's neighbors to the county fair today.  It was lots of fun.  There were lots of displays, some of which were even from my students.  Nice cake, Jordan!

Pea's favorite animals were the Nigerian Dwarf goats.  There were pigs, goats, sheep, and cows there, beut we couldn't tear her away from those tiny goats.  The goats even had babies, which were the size of puppies.  They were so unbelievably adorable!  Pea asked me if she could get a goat.  Um, no.

Both of them really liked the kid corner, which had a fake cow you could milk and some straw you could push around with little rakes.  Their favorite part?  The sandbox that was full of corn kernels instead of sand.  We stayed there for at least 30 minutes just playing in the corn.

There was a weird pink clown who hosted a tortilla-throwing contest, which this three-year-old kid won.  He chucked that think all the way out of the stands.  Pea just had fun throwing food off the stage and getting a sucker for trying.

She went on a ride that had little jets going around a center pole for a while.  We had cotton candy and kettle corn, and I got friendship bracelets for Pea and the little girl who came with the neighbors.  I think that covers our fair adventure.

I did have to shower as soon as I got home.  It's a sweaty, smelly, hot, sticky experience.  I feel much better now.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Bronte

9 out of 10
Gothic Romance

I loved this book.  It isn't the first time I've read it, and I've seen the movie, albeit a while ago.  It was wonderful a second time through, and I admit I missed a lot when I read it the first time.

Jane is raised by her aunt, who hates her, and finally sent off to a charity boarding school.  Upon leaving the school, she takes a position as a governess and promptly falls in love with the master.  This book has far beyond a love triangle; it's more like a love pentagon.  A loves B, who flirts with C to make A jealous but is married to D, at which point E enters the picture and proposes to A.  I hope that's intriguing enough while being nonspecific enough to qualify as spoiler-free.

The language is a little dense for the general reader, but I think it is worth it.  I would recommend this book for readers 14 and older.  I may have been younger on my first read-through because I remember having no idea what a 'mistress' was and assumed it was a girlfriend.

Sunday Share

Yesterday (which was Sunday) was a day of fasting, which we generally call Fast Sunday, as we do it once a month as a church.  On these Sundays, the whole ward is asked to fast for whatever purpose they choose and to donate an offering based on what they would have spent on food to be given to the poor.  During the meeting, members of the congregation are invited up to share their testimony.

Pea loves Fast Sundays.  She asks every Sunday morning: "Is it Fast Sunday?"  If I answer no, she replies, "Oh.  It's a slow Sunday."

Yesterday when I said that yes, it was Fast Sunday, she jumped up and down saying, "yay! I get to bear my testimony!"  She was very bored several months ago watching members of the congregation go up to bear their testimonies, and she asked why they got to go up there and she didn't.  When she found out that she could go up if she wanted,  her outlook changed.  Now, she gets to go up in front of everyone and use the microphone and say anything she wants.  We've had to practice some with making sure she's saying "things about Jesus," but I've been amazed at how much she has grown in her ability to do so already.

Her first testimony went something like this:  "I'm thankful for dinner, and lunch, and dessert.  And snacks."
Yesterday she said it with no help from me at all, and I wasn't even standing next to her.  "I'm thankful for Jesus, because he is the Lord and the Savior."  I didn't tell her what to say, I just reminded her that testimonies are about Jesus or church.

Of course, this means I get to go up EVERY Fast Sunday, too.  For those of you who aren't privileged to hear my testimony every month, I want you to know that Jesus is real.  He is the Christ, the Savior of Mankind.  He was born of Mary, the Son of God, and He died to save us from our sins.  Because of His sacrifice, we can live again.

Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and saw Jesus and Heavenly Father in a grove of trees.  He was directed by an angel to find and translate the plates which would later become the Book of Mormon.  He was directed to restore the gospel to the earth as it has been in ancient days, from the time of Adam.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Shoot 'Em Up

We had lots of fun things going on this weekend.

Saturday one of the girls from the high school babysat Pea and Strawberry so that Farmboy and I could have a date. I picked the date, and I was very excited about it.  We went to the local indoor gun range.  I had really wanted to try shooting a handgun, so we rented a Glock 19 and used it there.  I'm not quite ready to own a gun, so renting works very well for me.  I really enjoyed shooting it, and I even managed to get a target in which I got all my shots on it.   We have yet to tally up our scores to see who won (between Farmboy and I), but I think there are good odds he scored higher.  I think I did pretty well, though.  Watch out, bad guys.

After our date, we went up to Grandma's farm to celebrate a birthday for Farmboy's sister.  She drove down and we had the neighbors over for dinner and cheesecake.  Pea got to go out and feed a baby calf whose mom died.  She held that bottle while the calf tried to run off with it.  The calf, of course, was bigger than Pea.

I know there was other stuff, but I can't remember right now.  Suffice it to say that it was a good weekend.  Oh, and this week?  Spring Break.  Love that.

Weekly Weigh-In

This was supposed to post on Friday, but my internet was having issues.

My weekly weigh-in (of which this is the first because I am a slacker): 183.6

This is good.  Actually, Way Awesome.  I'm down from 197 at Christmas.  My goal was 183.4, and I am very close; so close, in fact, that I need to set a new goal.  That may seem like an odd number for a goal, but it was based on BMI rather than weight.  I am officially no longer in the obese category.  It is, of course, more than a little depressing that I was there in the first place, but I am just glad to not be there any more.

I am trying to lose on average 1 pound every week so that it will stay off.  Crash diets don't work for me.

Goal:  178 by May 1

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A day of Suckage

So, dinner kind of sucked last night.  The sweet potato soup was pretty good, but not that filling.  The vegetables I made were weird and didn't complement the soup.  The whole-wheat biscuits?  Tasted a lot like sawdust.

We didn't have a Daily Adventure with the girls because they were in Big Trouble.  According to the sitter, they were 'the worst they have ever been' and would not mind.  When I got them in the car, Pea would not stop whining, and it was clear they were having a very off day.  So, they got naps when we got home, and when they got up, they had to stay in their rooms until dinner.  It wasn't too terrible, since they play pretty well together, but they didn't get to watch any shows or play outside until after dinner.

In spite of all this, after dinner they behaved pretty well.  I think they didn't want any more Big Trouble.  Pea made me special pen-carrying pocket complete with purple ribbon to bring with me to my Primary Presidency meeting that night.  Very thoughtful.

Farmboy was in charge of putting them to bed, but apparently Strawberry had a rash and needed to run around diaperless for a while.  Within 30 seconds of my getting home and getting diaper rash cream and a diaper to put on her, Strawberry peed on the carpet.  Farmboy says to me, "you took to long looking for the diaper cream." Yep, my fault.  Oh, wait, I'm not the one who had an un-potty-trained toddler running around diaperless.

They went to bed pretty well, but for some reason, Strawberry decided she didn't want to sleep from about midnight until 4 or so.  Farmboy, luckily for him (and not so luckily for me) can sleep right through her crying. And so today is a slow, tired one in which I am only awake by the grace of caffeine.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Did I fall off the face of the earth?

No, I did not.  My computer did. 

I'm currently switching over everything to the laptop that I may only have for 6 more weeks.  I did, thankfully, have a lot backed up, but lost some pictures.  Mostly, they were Trixie's pictures.  Sorry about that.

In the interest of full disclosure, I've fallen down on my job this week.  No weekly meal plan yet.  But we're having sweet potato soup for dinner tonight.  With fresh homemade bread that I have yet to make.

Also, didn't take pictures or do my weekly weigh-in.  So I'll do that too. 

Had to write a test for my precalculus class last night and grade a bajillion papers, so I was up forever doing that.  No rest for the teachers.  Also, I like to watch Missing on Netflix.  Our internet is slow, so I do grading and stuff while it buffers.  It's a good excuse, anyway. 

On the subject of spiritual stuff, I don't have anything new since Sunday, except that our class won the trivia question of the day today: Whose wife was turned to a pillar of salt in the bible?  (It was Lot's wife, Lot being the brother of Abraham.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Share

We had Stake Conference this weekend, which is basically when a large group of LDS churches in the area who share a leader come together and hear the leaders speak.  This conference, we were reorganized and got a new leader, so there were General Authorities (leaders over the whole church) who came down to do interviews before they decided who the new leaders would be. 

Anyway, one of the General Authorities (Elder Ringwood of the First Quorum of the Seventies, I believe) was speaking about the tests and trials that we go through, and it got me to thinking about something in particular.  Think about Abraham being required to sacrifice his son Isaac and what a terrible requirement that would be.  Why would God require that?  I think that question can elicit some important thoughts about the way God works.

Abraham had very nearly been sacrificed to an idol by his own father and was saved by Jehovah on the altar.  He must have had some serious concerns about human sacrifice.  Still, his faith was such that when God required, he did as he was asked.  We know God spared Isaac and did not require his death, instead providing a ram.  If He wasn't going to require Isaac's death, why would he require Abraham to do that?

One answer is this: God needed to know that Abraham would do it.  That's possible, but I think God already knew.  He knows the intents of our hearts.  He knew that if He asked it, Abraham would obey.  So why would He ask it?

Another answer that satisfied me until recently was this: God wanted Abraham to know it.  This is probably true.  God knew that Abraham would obey, even sacrificing the cherished son he had waited all his life to have if God asked it of him.  Abraham, though, needed to know that he would obey God in all things, even the hard things; especially the hard things.  That's a good answer, and I think a true answer, but I think not the whole answer.

Yesterday at conference, my thoughts were directed to the passage in Alma in which the wicked are casting the wives and children of the believers into a fire:

10  And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.

11  But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.

Alma and Amulek had the power of God, and God could have stopped this tragedy, but He did not.  Again, many ask why God allows such wickedness to occur.  I know it pains God to watch His children suffer and to watch his children cause suffering.  Sometimes, though, God allows the wicked to perform wickedness so that they may be held accountable for their crimes. 

Similarly, I think God must allow people to overcome great trials and show great faith.  In his willingness to sacrifice his greatest treasure to the Lord, Abraham shows his faith in the Lord.  Just like the wicked who burned the women and children will be punished, Abraham now has the opportunity to be blessed.  He will be rewarded for his faith and obedience.

All of us have trials and tests that we must overcome in our lives.  Few of us will be asked to sacrifice our children, but our tests will be personal and difficult.  Instead of asking how God could allow this to happen, remember that there are great rewards in store for us when we overcome.  Follow the example of Job, never giving in and cursing God in his great trials.  Once he made it through to the other side of his test, the Lord blessed him more than he was able to imagine.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Your Puter a Splode

That's what Homestar Runner would say about what happened last night. 

My computer restarted for no fathomable reason while I was in the middle of doing something.  Then, after I let it reboot, it did it again.  This time, though, it would only load in safe mode.  Then, it did it again.  This time it wouldn't start up at all.  Finally, it refused to turn on any more.  So, I'm short a desktop.  This doesn't make me as upset as it should, because I have been a part of a writing group.  All of the work I've done thus far on my novels has been emailed out to my group every week.  Thanks to the wonderful properties of Gmail, I have copies of my works at every chapter. 

I've also uploaded all of my pictures to Picasa, so I didn't lose them either.  I did lose about 500 words on two separate novels, but I can handle that.  If I'd lost the whole novel thus far, I think I might have a heart attack.  So thanks, Writing Group, for making me back my work up.

I read Anthem by Ayn Rand yesterday.  It's pretty short, only 100 ish pages of a paperback.  It took me less than an hour, but it was very good.  If you haven't read it, I recommend it.

 I've also read The Fountainhead by the same author, which has similar themes.  Ayn Rand writes about collectivism and why it destroys your soul.  Her religious views are very different than mine, but I find it interesting that our moral and political stances are very similar.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Well, I was able to teach at school today with my actual voice, so plus.
By the end of the day, I had a killer migraine.  Minus.

In the end, I think the minus was bigger.  I laid on the couch all afternoon trying not to die while still watching my kids.  They were not happy at trying so hard to be quiet, and I was miserable because the littlest noise was like a drill in my skull.  So, didn't make great food today, didn't have a daily adventure, and didn't bother getting dressed into decent clothes.  Although, we did make s'mores in the microwave as 'dessert' tonight.  Real healthy, I know.  At least that part was fun.

Meanwhile, I have to go do some laundry to prevent going to work tomorrow naked.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Soccer and Dune

Well, first things first.
I managed to stick to the meal plan pretty well, but I never did get around to making cookies.  I did the dishes and picked up some laundry.  I felt like I did a lot of cleaning, but I guess it wasn't that much.
Our Daily Adventure today was playing soccer.  Strawberry did not understand that you don't pick up the ball in soccer.  Pea was not happy about this.

Tonight was Family Night, and we played a round of Rummikub, or Number Squares as Pea calls it.
Farmboy got to ride in a helicopter at work, and he told Pea all about his adventures.  She can't wait until she grows up so she can ride in a helicopter, too.
My voice is slowly but surely coming back.
We sang verse 2 of Nephi's Courage and read about Nephi building a boat.

Ah, yes. I have also started reading Dune by Frank Herbert.  Review to follow in the next week or two.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What I'm cooking this week

Okay, Round One of What We're Eating:

Here is my menu for the week:

We shall see how this goes this week!

Sunday Share

Today Farmboy and I read from several sections that were about charity.  We stopped for a while to talk about Paul's comments in 1 Corinthians 13.  

3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the apoor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

We're pretty familiar with the treatment on charity later in the chapter, but verse three is interesting in its own right.  If you were to ask 10 random people what 'charity' means, probably at least 8 or 9 would say 'giving things to people who are poor' or something to that effect.  Paul clearly states here, though, that giving things to people is not charity.

You can give all your goods to the poor, you can sacrifice your life for someone, but if you don't have charity, then it doesn't matter.  

What a statement.  If that isn't good enough, then what is?

The answer is found in  Moroni 7:47:
But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
Charity is the pure love of Christ.  We must love others the way Christ does.  Not the way we love ourselves, not the way we want to be loved, but the way that Christ loves them.  That is a tall order, friends. 
I pray that I may and each of you may be able to love those around us the way that Christ loves.

This is MY story

This is MY story, and I'm the best one to tell it.

Middle-of-Nowhere, Arizona, near Yuma.

Liz - Mother of two, wife, high school teacher, writer
Farmboy - Engineer, raised to a farming family
Pea - 4 year old princess whose brain runs a mile a minute
Strawberry - Almost 2 year old

I've decided to make some changes in my life and think this would be a great place to document them.

The way we eat:  We eat way too much junk food.  Unhealthy, fatty, sugary foods.  Eating out because we're too tired to cook.  Well, this is going to change.  Sundays I'll post my goal menu, each day I'll post what we actually did.

The way I look:  I don't always take time to make myself look decent.  Therefore, I'll be taking a picture of myself every day so that I can make sure I put forth some effort.

My organization and cleanliness:  For those of you who have seen my house, it's a disaster zone.  If you haven't seen it, I promise you don't want to.  Wednesday will be the weekly report on the house.

Learning activities:  I have a tendency to let the girls watch TV instead of interacting with them.  We are going to have a Daily Adventure, whether big or small, that is just me and the girls doing something together.

Spirituality:  I often put off my spiritual development.  No longer.  Expect a daily thought about something I've read or learned that day.