Sunday, December 2, 2012

Adventures of Goomba!

Friday I got a phone call from my husband explaining that a coworker of his brought his dog to work and left him in the car.  I missed the part about why this happened.  But the loaded question was, can his dog hang out at our house for the day and half the night while we're at work?  I only have to clean house and be a taxi mom.  Sure, why not provide Nanna with a house guest and buddy?  Then comes the clencher.  His dog is bigger than a good 30 lbs or more.

About an hour later Matt shows up with XXL dog and dog owner.  Nanna barks  and gives up quickly when that doesn't affect huge black dog at all.  Guest dog's name is Goomba.  Good name for a big dog, but "Black Bear"  or just "Bear" may have been more appropriate.  I call my XL dog my little pony for good reason.  Goomba could be called Bear for good reason.  HUGE.  Oh, and did I mention he's a long haired dog?  HUGE, I tell you, HUGE!

So there were many small adventures with Goomba, but one in particular was pretty darn funny.  My biggest concern about Goomba was not letting him get out the front door.  Zack's band members came by to help Zack load his drum set into the van for their Battle of the Bands at the High School that night.  They finally figured out if they kept both dogs IN the house, they could open the side gate and take the drums through the yard to the van.  This relieved my concern of one of the dogs getting out the front door.

Once the drums were loaded I needed to drive them back to the High School.  A few minutes earlier, I had put our cat, Gracy, outside so she wouldn't encounter the Bear, I mean Goomba.  She decided to sit on the front patio chair in front of the big picture window.  Apparently Goomba noticed she was there.  Now I knew Goomba had a thing for chasing cats so I figured it would be safer for the cat to be outside.  With Goomba nearby, I opened the door just a crack to let myself out.  Goomba suddenly pushed past me to chase the cat that was no longer innocently sitting nearby.  Gracy jumped out of her comfortable seat and dashed across to the neighbors yard and up a tree.  I dashed into the house to get Goomba's leash and a dog treat, knowing that Goomba is very motivated by food.

Once outside, I handed the leash and treat to Zack and asked him to follow Goomba since he had seen which way Goomba went.  Zack went around the neighbors house and told us to head around the other side of the house.  Two band members and myself head around the other side in hopes to block the dog from running past us.  Goomba headed our way since he was slowly being followed by Zack from the other direction.  I managed to catch Goomba on his way past, managed to find his collar through his blanket of fur until Zack arrived with the leash and treat.  Goomba laid down and ate half of the treat Zack had offered him.  With the other half still in his hand, Goomba kept bumping into Zack trying to take the rest of the treat, and sliming his with drool in the process.  Zack handed me the treat and I slowly jogged back to the house with Goomba close behind wanting the treat.  

WHEW!  Beast safely back in the house, I took the kids back to the High School.  Never a dull moment.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Eucalyptus Oil

Do you have kids coughing?  So much gunk is going around right now.  It makes me sick (no pun intended) to think about all the germs coming home from the schools.  Ick.

I found a link on Pinterst (have I mentioned lately that I love Pinterest) that is about using the essential oil Eucalyptus on your kids' feet at night so they're not coughing all night long.  I love learning new ways to use my oils!  I learned just in the nick of time.  My youngest got over the flu like symptoms and now has a bit of a cough and sniffly nose.  Because we use essential oils, his flu never got bad and his cough hasn't turned nasty.

On a side note, we use Immune Strength by to fight off any bugs that try to get us.  It doesn't mean we don't get it, but it sure helps us not get the bug as bad.  If you catch it on day 1, you can kick a virus right out the door.  Seriously!  When one of us complains of a sore throat or coughs, I immediately put some Immune Strength on their feet.  One of my kids particularly dislikes the scents from the oils.  When I make him use the oils, I allow him to then put on his socks and shoes so that it does not irritate his nose.  If one of us actually comes down sick, I use the Immune Strength on that person twice a day, then once a day on the rest of us so we don't catch it.  Here's the good news. is going to have a Black Friday sale and Immune Strength will be on sale!!!  As well as several other great oils.  You seriously won't want to miss it.  I stock up on this stuff because it works!

Okay, back to Eucalyptus.  What this lady's blog did not talk about is the fact that there are three different types of Eucalyptus oils.  And they each do something different.  So...I want to tell you about all three of them.  I will quote from the RockyMountainOils website.  I feel that their website is very informative!

Eucalyptus Citriodora

This eucalyptus is a powerful antiseptic. Powerful antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, deodorant, expectorant, insect repellant, purifying. 

Eucalyptus Globulus

Beneficial for burns, blisters, cuts, insect bites, repellant, and as an immune system stimulant.

Eucalyptus Radiata

Beneficial for sinus problems, coughs, sore throat and mouth infections. It is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral.

Amazing?  YES!  So.  If you want to treat a sore throat and cough, buy the Eucalyptus Radiata.  If you or the kids tend to get lung problems, laryngitis, or bronchitis easily, add the Eucalyptus Citriodora to it.  Yup, use them both.  If you want the benefit of the immune boost offered by Eucalyptus Globulus, add it in as well.  I have bought little bottles with roller tops for easy application.  It would be beneficial to mix your Eucalyptus oils into one little bottle.  In fact, I think I'll do that for us!  I need to add one the Citriodora to my oil collection, then I'll have all three.  In the meantime, I'm just using Eucalyptus Radiata and it has helped my 8 year old not cough so much at night.  I forgot to put it on him last night so I put it on him this morning before school.

On an adult, you can apply this oil "neat" which means undiluted.  You only need two drops per foot at most.  Pure oils are very powerful and can send the body into shock if you use too much at once; however, they can be reapplied several times throughout the day if necessary.  For a child, use a carrier oil and dilute the oil about fifty percent.  I have Fractionated Coconut Oil (FCO) and I put about 3-4 drops of that in my hand, then 2-3 drops of the oil with it.  Then I rub it onto my child's feet.  The nice thing about this is I benefit from it too, as the oils soak into my hands as well.  That is, until I switch to a roller bottle.  Recognize my little kids are big.  My youngest is about 85 lbs.  So if your little kids are little, you might only use two drops total with the FCO.

I also buy oils from  Their prices are sometimes cheaper than RMO so I always do comparison pricing.  MRH does not offer oil blends, so I always get those from RMO.  But MRH offers tons of other stuff besides oils, which I believe is why their oil prices are slightly lower.  Information wise, I love RMO for the ease of using their website and amount of information on each oil.

If you have any questions about oils, please feel free to ask!  I'm not certified, but I have learned a TON about essential oils this year and feel strongly that as a culture we can use doctors and pharmacies less and use natural healing more.

The BEST Apple Crisp Ever!

For those of you that don't know, I am a major Pinterest fan.  The coolest part is actually trying new things that other people have posted on their blogs as being good.  I have to admit, a few have been epic failures, but not this recipe!  I love apple crisp.  I also have a box of apples in the kitchen that are on the brink of going bad, so I needed to find something to do with them besides eat them one at a time.  I guess I should have stored them in the cool garage.

Yesterday I took a meal to a friend and she gave me the greatest compliment.  She fell down her front stairs night before last and ended up in the ER to make sure nothing was broken.  After offering to bring her dinner she said to her daughter, "I want to tell Christy not to, but she's the best cook I know, so I'd love to eat her food!"  Wow!  That's a huge compliment.  Sadly, I cook a few things really good and everything else is just average.  Anyway, I did take her a tray of this Apple Crisp for dessert as well as some vanilla bean ice cream to go with it!

Apple Crisp

5 lbs. apples (about 10)
grated zest of 1 orange
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed orange juice
2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 lb. cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9x13 (deep) baking dish or 2 8x8 pans.

Peel, core, and cut the apples into large wedges.  A peeler, corer, slicer tool makes this part faster!  Combine apples with the zests, juices, sugar, and spices and mix thoroughly.  Pour into pan of choice.

To make the topping, combine all topping ingredients and mix with an electric mixer on low until it's crumbly and butter is the size of peas.  Scatter evenly over the apples.

Place apple crisp on a sheet pan and bake for one hour until the top is brown and the apples are bubbly.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce (opt.)  SERVES 10.

This recipe is so huge!  I highly recommend using two deep dish 8x8 bakers and splitting the recipe.  It will work great as a freezer meal dessert, so cook half for tonight and stick the other half in the freezer for an other day!

I'm thinking I might add a regular crust underneath and use this recipe as my dutch apple pie with carmel sauce for Thanksgiving dinner.  YUM!  The added citrus in this recipe really gives it the zing that I love.

This recipe was taken from Barefoot Contessa Parties!  blog.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Taco Soup

Hello my favorite people who actually read my blog!  YOU ROCK!  Tonight I had trouble finding my recipe for our family favorite taco soup.  I actually had to look it up online to remember the last ingredient.  And of course I always alter the recipe just a touch!  I'm a rebel like that.

This is a recipe I got from a dear friend a couple years ago and now we eat it all the time.  I cook it and freeze it for freezer meals, but if I put leftovers in the fridge, they don't stay there long.  I especially love this recipe because it's a great food storage recipe.  Except for the meat, everything comes out of a can or could be made from scratch (dry beans).  The meat could come from a can as well, or it would be fine meatless.

Here's the recipe:

Taco Soup

2 lbs. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped

Brown beef and onion in pan and drain grease.

1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can great northern beans
1 can kidney beans

Drain the beans.  In another pot, add some water and boil the beans for maybe five minutes.  This helps boil the farts out!  This step can be skipped, but still drain the beans.

In a big pot or crockpot, dump ground beef, all the beans, and then add:

1 can corn
1 can refried beans (opt. but thickens stew!)
2 cans diced green chilies
2 cans crushed tomatoes
1 packet taco seasoning
1 packet ranch dressing
1 packet zesty italian dressing
1 tsp. fresh pressed garlic
2 cans water (probably 3-4 cups)

On the stove, let it simmer for about an hour.  In the crockpot cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serve with Mexican cheese.  We like to eat it with corn chips.  Other options might be over rice or noodles to help it stretch more or make a leftovers meal a little different.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Brownies PLUS!

I was perusing Pinterest today.  Big surprise, right?  I came across a brownie recipe and wondered why it was a big deal, so I read the description.  Someone said they're the best brownies ever.  I clicked and read the actual blog and thought to myself, "Self, we HAVE to try these brownies."

Tonight Matt saw a brownie mix in the pantry and asked if it was being saved for a special occasion.  Nope!  They can be made anytime.  So Matt opened the box to make them.  I remembered that Pin today and realized we could totally make it!

Here's what you need:

A brownie mix
3 large Symphony Candy Bars (toffee, almond)
9x13 pan

Mix your brownies as directed on the box.  Pour half of the mix into your pan.  Open the candy bars and lay them flat, side by side on the brownie mix.  Then layer the rest of the brownie mix on top.  Oh, yeah!  Seriously.  Bake as directed, then let it cool off a significant amount of time.

Surprise!  The chocolate bars cook into the brownie, leaving small chunks of almond and toffee in the brownies.  YUM!  You are going to love these!

Sorry I didn't have time to take a picture for you, they're gone already!  We only had one symphony bar, so we did it in a 9x9 baker and broke up the candy bar like the directions tell you not to do.  They were amazing!  So rich.  You know you want to try this!  And if you want to read the directions for yourself, find me on Pinterest and go to my "Death by Chocolate" board.  Right now, it's the first one there.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Epic Fail

The past few years I have attempted to make carmel apples with my children.  We have discovered that this is no easy feat.  Last year we decided to try to slice the apples and then dip them, due to the carmel not sticking to the apples the year before.  We found the carmel did not stick to the apple, but only to the peel.  Weird since it didn't do so well the  year before.  I think we didn't let the carmel cool off enough for it to stick to the whole apple two years ago.

This year I started my carmel and then started digging for candy thermometer, only to realize we'd broken it last year after making candy.  Frantically I sent my children to the neighbors to borrow a candy thermometer as I stirred constantly.  Soon a thermometer arrived and we began the watch the temperature rise on our carmel.

Sara came to my rescue and continued stirring while I prepared plates for rolling the dipped apples once the carmel was done.  I had forgotten how long it takes carmel to reach it's final temperature at soft crack.  After getting the plates ready, I helped dry the apples after Zack had washed them, then stuck a stick into each apple.  I turn around to look at the carmel and it's a dark brown.  UGH.  The temperature gauge was still not at soft crack.  Just my luck.  I did not calibrate the candy thermometer to test its accuracy.

We managed to get a few apples covered in the overcooked carmel and rolled in candy.  After letting the carmel cool off, we attempted to cut and eat the candied apples.  Cutting was extremely difficult, and eating was impossible.  *heavy sigh*  So much for our exciting FHE plans.

About this time Zack asks if we have any pretzels.  Why yes we do!  Big pretzel sticks came out of the pantry and Zack proceeded to melt some almond bark, covered them in candy and set them out to dry.  Zack rescued the evening and everyone enjoyed a yummy treat.  In case that wasn't enough, he covered an apple in chocolate, added candy, and then shared it with us!  What a sweet heart.

Maybe we'll try again another day after I have purchased another candy thermometer AND calibrated it....if that's even what it's called.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Pavlovian Electric Can Opener

I've been trying to eat healthier, as well as simplify my life a bit.  I decided I would make tuna or chicken salad for lunches, but I never do anything small.  My kids love both of these options for snacks and often devour the rest after school, so I tend to do either four cans of tuna, or two larger cans of chicken.

In case you are behind the times, we have two cats, a pony--I mean an oversized house dog, and a turtle.  Luckily the turtle is in a fish tank unable to get out.

Back to making lunch.  I pull out my cans and head over to the electric can opener.  As I'm opening the first can, our black cat, Friday, comes and rubs up against my leg, anxious to enjoy some tuna or chicken juices.  Upon opening the second can, my huge white dog, Nanna arrives in the kitchen from where ever she was sleeping and starts drooling all over the floor.  Our third cat is usually outside or sleeping soundly and misses out on the initial treat.

I dump the juices into the first bowl for Friday, but I make Nanna sit and wait.  I don't want her to think she has hierarchy over the cats and it's good to practice her obedience training so she has to "sit" and "stay" while I dump double the amount of juice into a bowl for Nanna.  By the time I give Nanna her bowl, Friday has already been slurping gently for a minute, enjoying his treat.  I set down Nanna's bowl and she waits until I tell her it's ok, then she laps up her treat within about five seconds, then proceeds to lick the bowl incessantly, as if doing so is going to produce more yumminess for her to drink.  When that doesn't work, she licks the floor around the bowl to clean up any drips from being in such a hurry.  Nanna's treat is long gone and she looks longingly at Friday and his bowl of juice that is hardly empty.  I send her away so that she knows she cannot drink his.  A couple minutes later, Friday walks away with his dish still half full of juice, so I put it next to the cat food dish for Gracey to enjoy when she decides to meander in for a bite to eat.  Please note, the cat food dish is in the pantry at the very back in hopes that Nanna will leave it alone, and for the most part she does.

Last week I decided to make Taco Soup.  This recipe calls for several cans of beans and crushed tomatoes and so the opening of cans begins.  As I'm opening the first can, Friday comes and rubs against my leg, excited for his treat.  Sorry kitty, I don't think you'll like bean juice.  Besides that, we'd have too much fun laughing at a cat with the farts.  Can number two, Nanna arrives and begins drooling.  Can number three, Nanna decides to sit and wait for her bowl to be served.  But the bowl doesn't come.  Can number four, Nanna is drooling so much there's a puddle on the floor.  Friday is getting bored so he finally walks away.  Poor Nanna is left salivating while continue to open several more cans in the process of preparing our crock pot meal.  We don't want Nanna to fart.  When she's had something unusual or unhealthy, her farts peel the paint!

I'm pretty sure this whole situation creates mental confusion for the animals.  Friday must wonder if it's April fools day or some rude Halloween trick and why these days occur so regularly, as well as why the heck his name is Friday and whose idea was that anyway?  Well, it was the in laws idea.  Crazy, I know.  The cats came with the house.  Nanna must be puzzling out how to shut off her automatic drool machine and why does it turn on before she gets her treat, anyway?  All good questions.

In the meantime, the electric can opener gets used regularly and the animals come running, in hopes to feast on something tastier than dry food.  I am always grateful for their entertainment, as that is what having pets is all about.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

"9 to 5" Hale Center Theater

I won tickets!  I love tickets!  So Matt and I went to dinner together and then down to West Valley City to the Hale Center Theater to see the play "9 to 5" based off the movie made in 1979 (if I remember correctly).  After a brief introduction from the cast, they played a small video of Dolly Parton telling us to enjoy the show.  I thought that was a nice touch!

In case you never saw the movie, here's a brief synopsis.  The story takes place in an office scenario in the late 1970's when women were paid less than men and women were not advanced in the work place because it was a "man's world."  The big boss, Mr. Hart, is basically a chauvinistic pig, having affairs with his secretary while his sweet wife is begging him for attention and time.  His current secretary is happily married and dodging his advances, while one of the other secretaries secretly adores him.  The ladies in the office are tired of his belittling them and so they do something about it.  I must stop here, or I'll spoil the show!

Did I mention this play is a musical?  Holy Cow they cast some amazing voices and great character look a-likes to the movie.  The acting was so well done that a couple of the songs really were emotionally touching.  The character was so involved in playing the role that you could feel the intensity of the situation through their music.  The talent and vocals were truly fantastic!

The director added some excellent personal touches to the storyline for comedic effect.  I must say there were several spots that really got me laughing.  I also really like the prop changes.  Some came down from the ceiling, while others were whirled out through attachment to the stage somehow.  The center of the floor did all sorts of cool stuff, too.  There was rarely a need for stage crew to move props around, which is a nice touch.

I felt like there was one loose end that was not neatly tied at the end of the show.  At one point Violet's son comes to visit his mom at the office.  He is told that she's in the break room.  Scene changes to the break room where you see Violet, who is one of the main characters, with a guy from the office who has been trying to get her to go out with them.  It's a great scene, but they never tell you why Violet's son came to the office and he doesn't enter in the break room scene.  When discussing this with Matt, his thoughts were that they just want to show that Violet's son is concerned that his mom is spending too much time at work and he hasn't seen her much, which makes sense with the storyline.

I give this play 4.5 out of 5 stars!  It is very well done, is fast moving, and the acting is awesome.  I highly recommend it to anyone to go see!  While the storyline is a difficult topic, there are no distasteful scenes that would make it inappropriate for children; however, I do believe the theater has an 8 years and up rule.  You'll want to check on that before you buy tickets!  It's was a great date night show to see with my sweet husband.  And in case you wanted to know, the cookies the theater sells are delicious!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cat Tailes: Water Adventures

Every morning, my black cat, Friday, wants to go outside to use the restroom.  He doesn't spend as much time outside as he used to, so I'm always glad to see him go outside for awhile.

Yesterday I let him out and then helped Zack get ready for his drum line rehearsal.  About half an hour later we were about to leave and I saw Friday coming around the side of my neighbor's house.  This would be completely normal, except that the closer he got, the funnier he looked...he looked spiky.  What the heck?

I opened the front door to take a closer look and sure enough, Friday was sopping wet.  LOL!  The only thing I can figure is the sprinklers were on in the back yard and must have changed zones while he was in the middle of the new zone.  By the time he crossed the yard in a single bound, jumping over fences and went around the neighbor's house, he was soaked.

Friday was pretty mad.  As I tried to dry him off with a hand towel, he would have nothing to do with me.  I'm sure it didn't help that I couldn't stop laughing!  Silly kitty!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Be careful what you pray for!

The past few weeks I've been praying for motivation to dejunk and organize the basement.  It's a daunting task that is easily procrastinated.  We simply have too much stuff and it makes it hard to keep bedrooms clean and be organized, so I know that I need to go through it all.  But life keeps me plenty busy without tasks like this waiting in the wings.

Several months ago I bought a used fridge off because I hate having a side by side refrigerator. Matt and I agreed it would be on a trial test to see if we both liked this one, if not we'd put the side by side back.  In the meantime, it's in the garage.  The "new" fridge has the freezer on the bottom and the fridge on top and has an ice maker in the freezer.

Last Wednesday morning I got up at 6am to get Zack out the door for drum line practice and I heard a funny noise coming from the kitchen.  When I walked into the kitchen to see what it was, I found the floor sopping wet and could hear the sound of water running in the freezer, like when it fills up the little ice tray.  The confusing part is that I had the bar up, which signifies the ice tray is off and won't make ice.  For some reason the water turned on during the night and didn't shut off.  It ran all night.  I opened the freezer door and water gushed out everywhere, just in case it wasn't everywhere already.

I woke up Matt and had him shut off the water line to the freezer and in the process of grabbing a ton of towels, woke up Zack to have him get ready to leave.  Thank goodness he is self sufficient, even though he is not a morning person, he got himself ready to go while the rest of the family got up to help deal with the damage.  I sopped up water in the kitchen while Matt and the kids hauled laundry baskets and toy bins out to the back patio from Joshua's room.  The basement bathroom, the hallway, and part of Josh's room were soaked as well.

Never a dull moment at our house.  Once I figured out who our insurance was through and got a claim made, restoration people were out here like white on rice.  They tore out walls, ceilings, and floors, pulled the carpets back and brought in at least a dozen industrial fans as well as two huge dehumidifiers.  The house was suddenly very loud.  After three days of fans running, the fans disappeared and the adjuster came to assess the damage.

The basement has probably the ugliest carpet I've ever seen.  The owner three owners ago had a flood apparently shortly after finishing the basement so they pulled the carpet out, dried it on the driveway, and put it back in.  Well...the carpet shrunk and they never had it stretched back into place.  So, several years later, all the areas where the carpet is supposed to be joined together are shredded and frayed.  The adjuster sees this in the hallway where the water damage was and says it needs to be replaced.  And since it is "continuous" meaning same carpet throughout the basement, it all must be replaced.

HURRAY!  Insert happy dance here.  BUT...since the bedroom door can close, it is not considered "continuous" so they might leave it, even though it was sopping wet.  I strongly mentioned that we have serious allergies and one with asthma and it would not be a good idea to leave a carpet with mold spores.  He searched to see if he could find a spot where the carpet is fraying or coming apart.  Of course it's not, it's in excellent condition.  Just my luck.  I do not yet know the final decision but even if the insurance company won't replace the carpet, we'll tear it out anyway.

In the meantime, I'M GETTING NEW CARPET!  And somebody else is paying for it.  Yes, we paid for the insurance, but we're talking about thousands of dollars that we don't have to do these kind of upgrades on our own dime.  Anyway, this means (grand pause) that everything in the basement has to be removed in order for the carpet to go in.  It looks like I have my work cut out for me, and I think new carpet is a great motivation to get the basement organized.  And since everything has to be moved out, it also has to be moved back.  Well, not everything.  We'll be getting rid of as much as I can.  So once we get everything back into place, it should be nice and neat and organized like a home should be!

If you've ever seen my basement, we have a wall of bookcases creating a "room" for one of the kids.  We figure if we do some of the work ourselves and contract out what we can't do, we might even be able to put up a couple walls so that Elijah can have a real bedroom.  Novel concept, huh?  I haven't heard back from the adjuster yet to find out the break down of money, but I'm a farely frugal person and figure I can make that money stretch to accomplish more than they would have done.  We shall see how it all pans out, but I know I certainly have my work cut out for me.

Moral of the story, be careful what you pray for.  The Lord just might find a way to accomplish what you ask for and it might not be how you expected.  While I dread the months of reconstruction and chaos in my home, I recognize this as a huge blessing and I am excited for the finished product!  In the meantime, I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Using Essential Oils Daily

I've slowly been adding oils to our collection of Essential Oils, as well as books on how to use them.  There is SO much to learn!  I am truly amazed that the things Essential Oils can heal.

First of all, let me share a few basics.  If you are going to use Essential Oils, be sure to take the time to learn about them.  Some oils are "hot" and must be reduced using a carrier oil, such as Fractionated Coconut Oil.  Cinnamon is a hot oil and will actually burn the skin.  There are also "cold" oils.  To some it just tingles, but to others it also feels like it's burning.  Peppermint is an example of a cold oil.  It's a good idea to test it on a small spot to see how your body reacts before using much oil at a time.

There are other oils that cannot be ingested as they are poisonous.  I do not understand how they can be used topically but not internally, but it's important to know.  Other oils should not be used by pregnant women.  All oils should be reduced with a carrier for children, as they don't need to use as much.  Oils can also be used on animals!

In other words, whatever oil you are using, know what cautions there about that oil.  Honestly, compared to the number of oils available for us to use, there are very few cautions that would keep you from using that oil.  If there is a caution that concerns you, there is always another oil that does the same thing.

The best part of using oils for medical treatment is there are no side effects!  A lot of people use oils hand in hand with their current medical treatment.  Modern medicine for the most part cannot go past the blood stream.  Oils can!  Essential Oils can go through the nervous system and actually penetrates the cells!  If you have a chronic disease or something that doctors have not been able to treat, oils can be a great option for you to heal your body!  Yes, oils can heal you, though don't expect it to happen overnight.  It will take time.

One of the most exciting things about Essential Oils is that you can stop a virus!  Seriously!  This is amazing to me. need to treat it at first signs and you need to treat everyone around as well.  For example, you get a sniffly nose and sore throat.  You pull out your Immune Strength (by Rocky Mountain Oils) and rub it onto the bottom of your feet as well as everyone else's that comes in contact with you.  Doing your own feet two or three times a day will kill the virus before it settles into your cells.  Treating everyone else with the oils once a day for a couple days will prevent them from getting it.  This really works!

With all that in mind, I made a list of things I wanted to try to treat using Essential Oils.  Here's a few things on my list of family concerns:  eczema, boils, food allergies, hay fever allergies, depression, bones going out too easily, warts, muscle pain, and viruses.

First we blended German Chamomile with fractionated coconut oil for Matt and Sara's eczema.  We recently learned that it works well to use it with a basic lotion, so Sara is using it on her bad spots and then rubbing it in with Vit. E lotion.  Her eczema has shrunk significantly!  Now if only I could get Matt to remember to use it.

Sara started complaining about her knee and should hurting, so we found that Sandalwood and German Chamomile are supposed to be great for joints.  She is also using that in combination with the Vit. E lotion and her joints haven't hurt as much.  Sara is also using Aligning, which is a blend for bones and helps keep your bones aligned, which I think is also helping the joints.

When I went to Idaho, I bit my cheek so hard I nearly took a chunk off.  Gross, I know, so I won't give you any more details.  That night I was putting lavender on my dad's bug bites to help stop the itching and reduce the swelling (which worked) and decided to put it on my cheek.  So, I put my tongue on the sore spot in my mouth and I rubbed the lavender on the outside of my cheek where my tongue was.  Please remember that oils are soaked into the body, so within a couple minutes I could taste the lavender.  Not the best taste, but it could be worse.  Anyway, the next morning the bite in my cheek was completely healed.  It was smooth.  The spot was still tender, but it was healed!  HOLY COW!  Lavender is an anti-inflammatory, and it regenerates skin cells very quickly, so it can be used on any skin issues such as burns, open cuts, bug bites, acne problems, etc.  And it works!  I was so excited.

A friend of mine told me she is using frankincense for her depression, so I looked it up.  Sure enough, it is one of the best oils for fighting depression. I started using it once a day in the little dent behind my ear lobes.  After about a week I noticed I wasn't so tired, I didn't need a long nap to feel well rested, it is easier to wake up in the morning and I feel better emotionally.  Yahoo!  Spread the word because this is so much better than being medicated.  I will warn that frankincense doesn't smell very good, but the scent fades after about half an hour.  For someone with major depression, I would recommend starting out using it three times a day for the first couple weeks, then going down to twice a day.  There are many other oils that help with depression so if the smell scares you away, try another oil!

Sara has been using Myrrh on her vocal chords to treat vocal nodes.  She just rubs a little into her neck twice a day.  Her vocal nodes are not gone, but I believe it is helping since she hasn't complained as much as she was.  Only time will tell.

Matt dropped a T-bar on his foot a couple weeks ago and it left him in major pain.  I pulled out the Relieve Me blend which is a pain killer.  He said his pain went from an 8 to a 3 within a couple minutes.  We've used the Relieve Me a lot for different aches and pains.

We've experienced a lot of sports pains and so I bought the Tension Release blend, which helps relax the muscle.  I have found that it needs to be used several times for it to completely relax the tense muscle, but after several uses, it makes a big difference.

We have used Immune Strength blend to ward off viruses.  Josh brought home a stomach bug from when we were in Idaho, right before we were to leave on vacation to CO.  I used the Immune Strength on him to help kill the bug and it took about two days.  I used it on the rest of the family as well to prevent us from catching it.  If any of us did get the virus, the strength was greatly reduced.  No one complained about not feeling well while we were on vacation!  We've also used it for sore throats and we have avoided colds that way!

This spring my allergies have been through the roof and even with double meds my allergies are not completely under control.  Breathe Ease blend is amazing!  I can rub it on my sinuses and within a minute or two I can feel relief.  Now when my meds aren't doing a good enough job (especially days that hay is being harvested) the Breathe Ease helps keep me functioning.

Peppermint has helped fight off a couple headaches.  Sara and I have rubbed it on our forehead to reduce a headache and it works.  I didn't feel like it worked when I was fighting a migraine, but it was good for a regular old headache.  I will warn you, it affects the eyes, so unless you use it with a carrier oil, your eyes will water for a couple minutes.

Lavender is also good for fighting insomnia or relaxing someone that is hyper or seriously anxious about something.  I've used it on both my teenagers to help them calm down and sleep and I was amazed that it actually worked!

Zack almost got his nose broken last Saturday night.  His lip was quite swollen with a pool of blood on the inside like a seriously bad bruise.  We used Lavender as an anti-inflammatory and Geranium which helps reduce bruises.  Within a day it had gone down significantly.  Within two days it was hugely better.  I didn't continue use with them as I probably should have, but you know it takes forever for huge bruises to heal and the blood pool to go away.  I was amazed at how fast the Geranium worked.  It's good for breaking up the blood so the body can move it through.

Is that enough?  Are you bored yet?  Is all that TMI?  I'm sure you really didn't want to know so much about the Barnson's health problems.  So make a list of your own and either get on the Rocky Mountain Oils website and see what their oils treat, or find a book where you can look up specific ailments and see what they recommend!  If you need help finding information or want a second opinion (I often look something up in several places), I will share with you any information I have.  I'm no expert and I have a lot to learn still, but I'm really excited about the amazing things Essential Oils can do for our bodies!

Monday, June 18, 2012

(Almost) A Broken Nose

Saturday night I dropped Zack, 14, off at the Stake Dance.  We noticed our neighbor had just pulled in and decided to ask Zack to get a ride home with him.  I then headed to Walmart to pick up a few groceries.  I added bananas and bread to my cart when my cell phone rang.  Oddly, it was Zack.  When I answered the phone I could hardly understand him.  I managed to hear that he got hit and his nose might be broken.  Zack's girlfriend, Annie had arrived at the dance right after the accident so I called her mom, a nurse practitioner, to turn around and come back to look at his nose for me.  I don't trust doctors much and she is better than most doctors I've met!

It wasn't 'til after I got there that I got the story of what happened.  The neighbor asked Zack to help him do a back flip.  Zack was willing, but I'm betting he'd never helped with this before and was obviously in the way, as the neighbor's knee hit Zack smack in the face, nose and mouth to be specific. Nose bleeding, they headed out to the restrooms and then decided to call me.

Marcy, Annie's mom, told me to take Zack to the ER to have Zack's nose x-rayed.  It looked quite broken.  She told me what normal treatment would be and what to expect.  We headed to the ER at the local hospital.  Surprisingly, they took us right in and got the process started.  I was honestly amazed at what good service they provided and how many people came in to see what they could do to help.  Luckily I thought to give Zack ibuprofen for the pain before we went into the hospital, as they wouldn't give him anything to eat or drink in case they had to do surgery.  Nice precaution, but what an awful thought.

X-rays went well and after sitting there for two and a half hours, it was decided Zack doesn't have a broken nose, it's just the swelling that is making it looks so very broken, and they finally offered him a drink.  They also gave us the number of a plastic surgeon in case we weren't pleased with the diagnosis.  How odd is that?  Anyway, they did give us a prescription for an antibiotic to prevent an infection from the bones having been so rattled.  They don't expect an infection since the nose was not broken; however, it is a precautionary measure.

Our neighbor friend whose knee hit Zack's nose while doing a backflip felt so very bad about hurting Zack so badly that we called him in the middle of the night as we left the hospital to let him know it was not broken.  This young man was very sweet and stopped by to visit Zack before church the next day.

So, in hindsight, the doctor pointed out that helping friends only gets us hurt, so no more helping people.  *heavy sigh*  Luckily we don't do everything doctors say.  That would be a sad day that we quit serving each other.

Besides the antibiotics, I have been treating Zack with essential oils and I am amazed at how quickly he is healing.  Zack's lip was badly hit and quite swollen as well as a huge bruise inside his mouth.  The essential oils have helped reduce the swelling and the bruise is going down quickly!

Somehow after nearly seventeen years of child rearing, we haven't had any broken bones, knock on wood.  I honestly don't know how we've managed that, but this sure was a close call.

Next time you're at a Stake Dance, be very careful.  It's not those gorgeous girls to be careful of or even all those handsome young men.  Watch out for flying knees!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Essential Oils

A lot of my friends are getting into doTerra, which is a Multi Level Marketing company that sells essential oils at in home parties.  Their products are awesome!  I've been hearing the buzz about these oils for over a year now and even declined going to a party due to lack of interest and distance.

Recently a friend signed up as a distributor and started sharing with me the benefits of using essentials oils as part of day to day living.  This took place during a time period when many of us were sick, particularly Sara, who had pneumonia so bad that one of her lungs quit working.  Not that I wanted to replace modern medicine, but I would have liked to treat the problem before it got SO bad.  (A doctor who misdiagnosed didn't help anything.)  I asked for a catalog and started reading through what some of the oils do and how much they cost.  They are EXPENSIVE.  There's no way I can afford the collection of oils I would need to have on hand in order to put together recipes for whatever use we need to treat, so I began my research.

MLM companies mark up their products in order to pay bonuses to the uplines.  This gets seriously expensive.  Having sold Pampered Chef, Discovery Toys, Home Interiors, and having been a wholesale buyer with Avon and Mary Kay, I know very well how it all works.  Considering that essential oils is nothing new, there are lots of companies that sell essential oils.  doTerra teaches the importance of using good oils.  Are they FDA approved?  Were the plants originally grown and pressed in their natural environments around the world?  Has there been anything added to the natural oils?  With these questions in mind I began my research.

First I found essential oils on for dirt cheap.  I was super excited until I researched the company and found that they don't tell you much about where they're getting their oils from.  This is a sure sign that the quality of the oils are not as good as they should be.  Exactly what I want to avoid.  Google provided me with a list of several other companies to research.  One of which was really cool.  They sell essential oils that are talked about in the Bible and they teach you how they were used in the Bible.  Really cool and still very expensive.

After researching a couple other companies, I found Rocky Mountain Oils.  They have a whole slew of information about their oils, where they come from, how they're pressed, and the many uses for each type of oil, as well as several blends to treat specific concerns.  Here I learned that just because an oil has been FDA approved, does not mean it is therapeutic grade.  FDA approved simply means the FDA thinks that oil is safe to ingest.  The FDA has not tested the oil for whether or not it will actually do what it claims to do.  Rocky Mountain Oils tests their oils to see how high the count is for the qualities that oil should contain.  If it's not good enough, they don't sell it!  This company purchases their oils from around the world so that the plants were grown in their natural habitat, providing the oils with the correct therapeutic qualities.  Rocky Mountain Oils has great prices considering they are a high quality oil seller.  A couple differences I have found between doTerra and Rocky Mountain Oils is that Rocky Mountain Oils offers 5 ml bottles for all their oils; whereas, doTerra sells most of their oils in 15 ml bottles.  So retail price comparison, this make doTerra about 50% more.  If you buy into doTerra's wholesale option, it's only 25% more.  I like the option of buying the 5 ml bottles so that I can afford more initially and see what we'll use regularly before I buy the larger bottles.

After writing down my family's typical medical needs, I researched all their products and decided on a handful of oils to begin our journey using essential oils.  We started using them right away!  Sara has been using German Chamomile on her eczema and it helps reduce the inflamation.  We haven't used it long enough to see if we can get it healed, but I am hopeful, even to find something that actually works to reduce the eczema and relieve the pain.  Sara is also using the immune booster (blend) to help her recover from pneumonia.  I also bought oils to treat headaches, warts, boils, and other things.  I plan to keep a journal on what we used it for and how it worked.  I will say that I am going to put together a recipe to treat the eczema since German Chamomile is so expensive.  Plus, the combination of several oils that treat the same thing can increase the desired outcome.

Initially I was skeptical about how essential oils work.  Afterall, they just have you breathe them in or massage a couple drops into a part of your body.  Why do they work?  I've purchased a couple books and have learned that the oils are easily soaked into the body and absorbed by the nervous system, which can carry them to the needed parts to do their job.  For this to work well, one has to learn about where to massage the oils.  At Sara's last doctor visit we discussed essential oils and the doctor explained that essential oils can break the cell barrier to treat the problem at the cell and that modern medicine can only treat whatever is in the blood stream.  WOW!  That is exciting stuff.  Of course there's a whole lot more information about that, but if you want to know it, you should get a book and do the research yourself so that I don't bore everyone reading my blog!  I did see a book on about the science behind essential oils.  Or there's always a supply of great books at the library.

Anyway, order number two went in for more oils and I discovered that Rocky Mountain Oils is running a Mother's Day special.  They have three different gift sets, the big one being 20% off!  That set has a couple of the oils I had on my list to get so by golly, I got it!  Happy Mother's Day to me!

So when you're invited to a doTerra party, remember that there are options equivalent to their high quality product for much less money.  If you can afford doTerra, more power to ya!  But when they tell you that no other company makes oils as good as theirs, remember that they have not researched all the companies.  They want you to buy their products, which is okay, just not in my budget.  For the record, Rocky Mountain Oils offers a lot more single oils and a lot more blends than doTerra.  Even so, as I have researched recipes for my oils, I have found oils that even Rocky Mountain Oils does not carry.

If you decide to get into essential oils, let me know and I'll give you the name of the company that sells containers for half the price as doTerra.  I don't have that information handy right now, but you'll need tiny bottles to keep your mixed recipes in.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Getting old(er).

Today is my birthday.  I am celebrating the 9th Anniversary of my 29th birthday.  It is the day every year that reminds me I am, actually, getting older.  Except for my birthday, I tell myself that it is my children that are getting older, not me.  I will always be young at heart and how odd it is to be 29 (again) while my oldest is 16 and my baby is 8.

Up 'til this year my vision has been amazing!  Just last month Matt was telling me how awesome it is that the girls in the family don't wear glasses since all the boys in the family do.  I think he jinxed me!  A couple weeks later I went to my eye doctor because my eyes have been seriously dry in the morning, which is a side effect of my allergy meds I started taking a couple months ago.  Regular eye drops wasn't doing a blessed thing, thus the doctor visit.  Of course the eye doctor insisted on doing an eye exam since I haven't had one done in years.  Much to my chagrin, she informed me that while my vision isn't bad, per se, it isn't as good as it used to be and I would probably like some glasses to see things far away, particularly when driving.  Please note, that I have not noticed anything different up to this point.  But after this point in time, all of a sudden I'm noticing that I need to be closer to read the street signs.  And in church, while practicing with the choir, I looked across the chapel past my music folder to discover that everybody at the back of the room was quite blurry.  It took much longer than usual to focus in.  UGH.

So, needless to say, I am getting glasses.  Choosing the glasses was quite the experience.  I was hoping to go for something cute, blingy, or sassy but discovered that I had to choose my glasses according to size.  Yes ladies and gentlemen, I have a big head.  Not the arrogant type of big head, I have the largeness type of big head.  So all the cute stuff was ruled out and I had to go for practicality.  I still had to be careful.  Some of the glasses were too dramatic looking.  Others were "librarian" style glasses.  You know the type, square on the top, but rounded on the bottom.  If I still had my long hair wrapped up in a huge bun sitting on the top of my head, you could have stereotyped me as a librarian in a heart beat.

Just about every type of frame made me look older.  Therein lies the decision.  Frames make me look older; therefore, we buy glasses without frames.  It took forever to reach this point and the sales lady wasn't helping any.  She wanted me to try everything on whether I liked it or not.  But once this decision was made, I had to try on all the frameless glasses to see which shape of lense I wanted.  Holy Cow!  This was worse than I expected.  In case that was not enough decision making, I then had to decide what color wires I wanted to connect my lenses onto my ears.  Purple it is, that decision wasn't too difficult.

I'm also getting old lady hands.  Don't worry, I won't take three paragraphs to tell you about it.  But I have noticed that without regular hydration, they are getting wrinkly.

So what do we do to compensate for all this oldness?  Well, I'm hoping for your gentle suggestions.  In the meantime, I bought myself a hat covered in bling!  It's my favorite color with a fleur de lei (I have no idea how to spell that), which is covered with black sparkly crystal beads!  I also bought myself a big flashy purse.  I have resigned myself to big purses anyway, after spending much of last year moving up from small purses to medium purses to big purses.  My new purse is light lime green with a huge zebra striped flower on the front of it and zebra striped handles.  I've been wanting one of these for some time now, and finally found a color I liked with a decent price tag on it.  So...Happy Birthday to me!  My kids tease me mercilessly about my purse collection.  I switch purses about every six weeks.  I don't necessarily buy a new purse every six weeks, but I'll go through my collection and find one that suits my mood, or the season, or at least all the stuff I plan to carry.

My memory has also gotten old.  I've been living in the hereafter more than usual.  Yes, that when I get up to go get something, get to where that something is and can't figure out what I'm here after.  Often times if I go back to what I was doing, the thought process will return and I'll get up again to go get it.  Luckily there are some OTC supplements that help with this, so I've started taking them again.  Seriously, brain food is necessary!

My hair is also getting old.  It's coming in white!  Yes, exclamation point.  Why?  Because I like white hair better than gray hair.  My grandma has a head of white hair and it is beautiful.  Someday I hope my hair will be as pretty as hers as I reach those tender old ages.  In the meantime, I have been dying my hair blonde so the white doesn't stand out as much as it did with the browns and reds.  Funny thing is my hair fades to a shade of red no matter what color I dye it...except for those white ones.  So right now I have blondish red hair, a light strawberry blonde, I guess.

When I wake up in the mornings, it takes me a few steps to be able to stand up straight.  I would like to blame it on soreness from exercise; however, lets be honest here people.  It doesn't matter if I'm not sore.  My joints could use some oil.  I'm betting my hearing is going to because it would make perfect sense that my joints creek.  Heaven knows they crack all the time.

So if you see me at church Sunday with a cane, some old lady glasses sitting at the bottom of my nose, white hair, and me crouched over having troubles standing up straight, it's only because I've had another birthday and I'm feeling old.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Easter colors scripture chase

I found this cute handout idea on Pinterest and used it with a bag of jelly beans for the ladies I visit teach. Then I realized this would be a simple family home evening for my children. Please note that my children range from age 8-16, so they are able to help look up scriptures.

Now learn about the colors,
and know what each one means...
the story of our Father's love,
told by some jelly beans.

And then every morning,
take a bean so yummy...
something for the soul and
something for the tummy!

Orange is for Heaven so Bright.
(2 Samuel 22:13-14)
Yellow is for God's perfect Light.
(Revelation 21:23)
Black is for the Sins we've made.
(Romans 3:23)
Red is for the Blood He gave.
(Romans 5:8)
White is for our Cleansing from sin.
(Psalm 51:1-2)
Green is for our New Life in Him.
(Colossians 1:10)
Pink is for His Free Gift to share.
(Matthew 28:19-20)
Purple is for the Crowns we'll wear!
(2 Timothy 4:8)

I know this is not the Easter story, but it is a great little scripture chase to learn of our Heavenly Father's love for us and it ties into the Easter story very well! We sat around the table with our scriptures and a bag of yummy jelly beans to eat as we discussed what each color represents.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Leap Day Blizzard 2012

This winter has been more of a non-winter. We've had several storms that have come through as rain or simply passed us by. The couple of times we've had snow it melted within a few short hours. So when this series of storms was forecast, I'm not sure we believed the weather man. The winds began to blow like crazy from the south, and a huge mass of clouds rolled underneath the existing storm from the north.

A week earlier I had called and schedule our tax appointment for this day. We drive all the way to Grantsville to do our taxes. Yes, that's an hour drive each way. Our tax lady is amazing and she gets us good returns every year. It is well worth my sanity to pay her to do our taxes. As we left the house it began to snow, just little flurries. But the farther north we went, the snow storm got worse and worse. I'm sure lake effect didn't help anything. Magna was pretty yucky and of course the plows weren't out yet. At one point, I had to take the "suicide lane" in the middle of the road to keep from hitting the guy in front of me. Reaching the point of the mountain by the great Salt Lake proved to be harry as well, the I-80 was practically a parking lot. We called our tax lady to warn her we might be a little late. She was willing to reschedule and have us turn around and go home, but we were very determined to get our taxes done.

After scary roads and crazy traffic, we arrived on time! We finished our taxes in less than an hour, record time, I think, and headed to Tooele to have dinner at our favorite Tooele restaurant, then pick up our oranges from a friend whose kids were doing a fundraiser. With the blizzard still raging, we ascended into Tooele. We reached a point in the elevation change that changed the roads from driveable to, maybe we shouldn't be here. With a continued prayer in my heart we slowly made it to the restaurant where we ate a scrumptious meal at Hunan Village.

Matt and I both left the house in our Vibrams, so when we get out of the van to go eat and then left the restaurant to get back into the van, our feet got soaked. When we arrived at the home where we needed to pick up the oranges, I called my friend and asked her if she could send someone out with the oranges so I didn't have to get my feet wet again. After all, that's what teenagers are for, right? Tall teenage boy comes outside with no shoes and no coat, tromping through several inches of snow to deliver a huge case of oranges! Okay, he did have flip flops on, but a lot of good those did him!

I texted Sara to let her know we were in a blizzard and to pray for us and go ahead and put the kids to bed. I figured since we took the time to eat the plows should have had time to get through the major roads and Matt's suggestion was to take freeways all the way home. Of course it was several miles before we hit the freeway. One of my headlights was out and the snow was turning to ice on the car. Eventually the build up of ice on the wipers was enough that I couldn't see well, so we stopped at the truck stop to clear the car. After smacking the ice off the wipers, we discovered half an inch of ice built up on the headlights. Have you ever scraped your headlights before? It's kinda funny! Once we reached the freeway, the roads were much safer to drive on and we were able to make progress in our journey; although it was still slower than usual. I-80 to beltway 215 to I-15, which is the long way home. Better safe than sorry! When we reached our exit, the roads were yucky again, but nowhere near as bad as the Tooele roads.

We got home at about 9:30 pm. Prayers had been said and little boys were in bed, but when they heard us come in they came running up the stairs to give us big hugs. Elijah, 9, said, "Mom, we made plans in case you both died. Sara helped us." I couldn't help but laugh. It was a distinct possibility we could get stuck somewhere, but I had not felt that my life was on the line. Anyway, the kids gave us huge hugs. Zack's hug was much tighter than usual which is a reminder that he loves me! All of my kids love me!

It is now March 1st and we finally have snow on the ground. So crazy! Next week we'll reach a high of 55 and it'll feel like spring. I'm thinking mother nature is a little pschizophrenic. Oh well. My boys finally get to use the cool new sledding hill at the park before spring settles in.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Ornery Old Women

As I run my errands around town I watch people. Yes, I am a people watcher. I have recently noticed that older women seem very unhappy. Now I'm not talking about OLD ladies. I'm talking about women in their fifties. I try to smile at strangers to see if they'll smile back and this age group of women tend not to. In fact, it looks as though their face is permanently shaped into a scowl or a frown. Only occasionally do I find a woman in this age group that will smile back at me.

In the process of observing this phenomenon, I began to ponder the reasons for why these women are not happy. Many thoughts have come to mind. Maybe they're widowed or divorced and alone. Maybe they're husbands are recently retired and they're suddenly spending more time with their life long companion than they want to. Maybe their children are having children and are stressing out these women as they try to figure out how to deal with their posterity's problems. Maybe their children wore them down beyond repair. Maybe their bodies are beginning to age to the point that they are in constant pain and so they aren't enjoying life anymore. Maybe I should stop using the word maybe, it's bugging me.

In the meantime, I've got to figure out why these women are ornery so that I can prevent this from happening to me. I want to be a happy and fulfilled older woman. If you have any insights on how not to be an ornery older woman, I'd love to hear about it!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cream of Mushroom & Bow Ties

Sara has spent the last few years learning how to cook. This past year Sara watched cooking shows and tried A LOT of new recipes. Hurray! She will not starve when she leaves home and anyone who hangs out with her will be thrilled to have her as a roommate/missionary companion/date/friend/wife!

On Sara's assigned dinner night many months ago, Sara decided to be creative and create her own recipe. I gave her a couple tips for seasonings that would work and this is what she came up with. I know there's an official name for it similar to other recipes, but I can't remember what it is, so we call it Cream of Mushroom & Bow Ties. Sara made it several times last year and it became a family favorite, so I decided to write down the ingredients as best I could considering everything Sara did was estimate. Here it is:

Cream of Mushroom & Bow Ties:

Prepare a pot of water to boil for the noodles. To feed six of us, I use 8 handfuls of bow tie noodles.

In a large skillet:

2 lbs. meat (sausage or meatballs work great)
1/2 onion, chopped

Brown the meat and the onions together, then drain the grease. If you're using premade meatballs, don't add them until the sauce is made. Then add:

1 tsp minced garlic
1 container sliced mushrooms

Let the mushrooms cook for a minute or two then add:

2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 can water
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1/4 tsp. pepper

Simmer the sauce until the noodles are done. Drain the noodles and combine them with the sauce and mix together gently. Enjoy!

This was such a hit tonight that I didn't even have to put away left overs! Which for me, is cause for celebration!

If you know the real name of this dish, please tell me!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New Allowance System for the Kids

Every once in awhile we have to change things up a bit to get the kids motivated to do their chores. In the past, the kids have received $1 per year of age each payday as their allowance. As they get older, their chores get harder and more involved. This has been how I'd done it for years.

Recently I have felt the kids only do a few of their chores and expect a full allowance. I started docking their allowance if it was particularly bad, but it didn't seem to re-motivate for very long before chores were being skipped again. So I started to brain storm. Matt and I are all about solutions rather than focusing on the problem, so the solution needed to be something that would be positive for the children.

After mulling it over in my head for a good month, I decided I liked the idea of paying the kids immediately per chore. The money would go as coins into their individual jars and they wouldn't be able to spend it until payday when I cashed out the coins for bills. This would help the kids see how much they were making and allow them to make more than usual if they're doing all their chores and less than usual if they're not completing their chores. In discussing these thoughts with Matt, he liked the basic idea, but wanted to find something else to use rather than coins so they don't get lost, which would in the end cost us extra. We decided to go with chips was the only kind of game chips I could find, but any type of game chips would do in abundance. Raffle tickets could work but they'd wear out and I'd have to replace them regularly. Poker chips it is.

We got paid a couple days early because payday landed on a Sunday, but I figured that was fine, we'd close out the kids usual allowance and start a couple days early with the new plan! At first the kids were not enthusiastic until they figured out that if they do their chores, they'll be making more than before. Then the lights started turning on. Not only are they ready to do their usual chores, but they're asking what else they can do and how much can they earn. They're seeing big $$$ in their future; in fact, Joshua said he is going to be rich! Elijah is actually talking about saving his money instead of spending it as soon as he gets it! Zack has expensive hobbies he would like to support and Sara is thrilled that if the boys don't do their chores, she can do them and actually get paid for it!

This new method does require that I have chips in my pocket ready to be handed out to the diligent workers. It also means I have to check their work and make sure they are being thorough and not doing just half the job. While these take a little more effort on my part, I think it will work out fine!

The chore chart is the same as it has been for awhile. We have a large dry erase sticker on the wall with the days of the week across the top and children by age down the side. The kids look at what day it is to know what chores they need to do. As changes are needed I am able to erase one or two things and make a change without it being a big deal or a start over. We have a second large dry erase sticker below that one for extra chores that can be done or notes to each other.

Today is Sunday and I normally only ask the kids for help with the basics on Sunday: dinner, table, dishes, kitchen garbage. But the kids are amazed at how fast they can earn money and they're cleaning like crazy. Maybe I'm a bad mom for letting them work on Sunday, but it's a nice change for them to be asking, "What else can I do, mom?" Mentally I'm jumping for joy! I know the newness will wear off and there will be paydays in the future when the kids will ask why they didn't make very much money. The answer will be simple, "You didn't do your chores."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Duvet covers

My husband and I enjoy shopping together. Let me clarify that. I enjoy shopping, and my husband has learned to think of shopping as a social opportunity; time with Christy! Last week I had $10 Kohl's cash. Those of you that shop at Kohl's know that Kohl's cash expires. It's a gimmick, you see, to get you back into the store to spend more money...AND it works. You bet I'm going to spend my Kohl's cash; afterall, I earned it, right? By spending money at Kohl's in the first place. I will tell you that I love a good deal and shop very carefully.

The difficult part about this trip is that there was nothing in particular that I was shopping for. I often use my Kohl's cash on shoes or clearance clothing for the kids to grow into. This means it took a little more time than usual to spend my whopping $10. I did find a wallet that I really like, but Matt and I decided to look around to see what else we could find. In our passing conversation, Matt mentioned that he's tired of our bedspread. It snags easily so there are snags all over it. I've been feeling the same way, but hadn't even thought about replacing it. After Matt's suggestion, we headed to the bedding section. I made sure to tell him that bedding here is VERY expensive. But it would certainly be fun to look around and see what they have.

After talking about a couple different bed spreads, we came across one that we both seemed to like. It was in the color scheme we already have set up for our bedroom so it would be easy to replace what we have with this one. About that time, Matt takes off his vibram, which has velcro on it and begins dragging it on the beautiful bedspread. My brain registers what he is doing and I quietly yell (if that's possible), "No, don't....." but it was too late. Matt was trying to see if the velcro would snag the bed spread and it DIDN'T! I was relieved and he was excited, "This one passes the test," he said as he put his shoe back on. Then we looked at the price. The set was on sale for $143 or something like that. OUCH! That's a lot of money. A lady nearby commented to us that she has had this bed spread for a couple years and it hasn't snagged at all and maybe we should look at getting a duvet cover instead of the set. Afterall, we already have matching pillows at home. Matt says, "What's a duvet cover?" In case you don't know, you put your old blanket into the cover, just like a pillow sham. So Matt's definition of a duvet is a great big sham! LOL!

Then the problem was, what size is our blanket at home? Is it queen size like the bed? Or did I buy a king size set last time? I was doubting that, but we came to the conclusion to buy both sizes and return the other. Brilliant! Regular price for the duvet cover was $180 for the queen and $20 more than that for the king. But of course they were on sale, on clearance in fact for 60% off, making the queen size duvet $72. At the register I used my Kohl's cash AND my 20% off coupon that came in my email. Woohoo! My total for both duvets was less than $100, which means when I return the king size, my duvet cost me less than $50!!!

Needless to say, I'm thrilled to pieces. I never would have thought to shop for a new bed spread, let alone a duvet cover and we found one that is really high quality for a decent price. Yahoo! Now to get that other duvet cover back to the store.

By the way, it is really easy to put your duvet cover on your old blanket with TWO people! Luckily I had Matt around and I didn't have to do it the hard way.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In Review: Salsa Leedo's Mexican Grill

My favorite Mexican Restaurant has closed. For some reason this seems to happen on a regular basis. I'd love to hear if any of you have a favorite Mexican Restaurant still in business that you could refer me to! In the meantime, I found a coupon in our local circular for Buy one Entre get one Entre 50% off. That works for me! So Matt and I decided to have a lunch date. I love that Matt works from home relatively often, allowing us to have lunch dates!

The restaurant is pretty big. This particular building used to be an Italian restaurant owned by the same local whose Mexican restaurant recently went under. :'-( I'd never been to that restaurant so I don't know how it was set up; however, I LOVE the ambience they've created in Salsa Leedos Mexican Grill. Other large restaurants I've been in that don't have walls built up everywhere become very loud when the restaurant is busy. This drives me nuts! I don't want to feel like I'm having my meal during a clown party. This restaurant has lots of walls and nooks built in, breaking up areas for privacy. The extra walls everywhere really help reduce the noise level during the lunch rush. Matt and I were seated in a back area where there were only two other tables nearby. It was wonderful! The other thing I noticed are the awesome colors on the walls. Being a Mexican restaurant, they have a lot of bright colors that look good together! Something else I noticed is they have a large party table.

Now for the menu. A friend of mine warned me that their food used to be amazing, but the last couples times they've eaten here is was just okay. With a coupon in hand, I was still willing to give it a try. For Matt, the Carne Esada (if the restaurant makes it at all) is the tell for how good the restaurant is. For me, it's the fajitas. If the fajitas aren't great, it's just an okay restaurant at best. So...Matt order his usual Carne Esada burrito and I ordered the mixed fajita platter with beef and chicken. First thing I noticed is their prices are higher than most other Mexican restaurants. Quite frankly, that sucks. Apparently there's a price for the ambience. The other thing I noticed right away was that the service was awesome. Diana was our server and she did a great job to check on us regularly, but not be there too much or too little. Woohoo! As it turned out, we ordered our drinks and our meals at the same time, since we knew what we wanted.

Just like all other Mexican restaurants, we were provided with freshly made chips and salsa. They were good, but not great. As we were running low, our server Diana, offered us more, so we asked for pico de gallo instead of the regular salsa. We were quite surprised to find the pico de gallo was very large chunks. I love chunky salsa, but this was a bit over the top in my opinion. Maybe somebody was trying to save time. Who knows? We decided to mix the salsa with the pico de gallo and it was pretty darn good; however, there was occasionally an extra spicy bite since the chunks of jalapeno were bigger than I would have liked.

Our meals came basically right after our chips were gone. I could hear my fajitas coming! I love how they sizzle! My hot platter was clear full and my plate of extras was huge! It felt like my food took up half the table. I told Matt, "Next time we can share an order of fajitas." Normally I use the plate and mix everything up into a big fajita salad and not even use the tortillas. Yes, already know I'm weird. But today I knew I couldn't eat nearly half of what they served me, so I decided to stick to the small tortillas. Everything looked so good!

Matt was taking his first bites while I was stacking my tortilla with food. He began singing his praises of the carne esada. Hurray! This was great news. Especially since the burrito was $11. Matt liked that the burrito was not full of beans and rice. It was meat, onions, green peppers, and cheese. About this time I finally started to eat my fajitas. First couple bites were okay, but nothing to write home about. There was a couple flavors I couldn't figure out that didn't taste right. I mentioned it to Matt and continued to eat. After my first tortilla I was full. Funny part is I'd only put a dent in my meal. When Matt finished his burrito I offered him some of mine and he tried it happily. His assessment was that they used curry on the meat. No wonder why I wasn't thrilled with it. I'm not a curry fan. He also mentioned that something tasted like pumpkin. That would be the zucchini and squash in the stir fry. Matt's comment was, "Indian food and Mexican food don't mix. You don't see Indians mixing curry with beef, Mexicans shouldn't, either." That pretty much sums it up. While the presentation was beautiful, I was disappointed in my fajitas.

Since the carne esada was a hit, I'm betting we'll return again for another date or two. Although I did not try it, the server said they do have fried ice cream, which is a favorite of mine! Next time we go, I'll have to try something else on the menu in hopes they don't use curry on everything. Matt rated his meal an 8 out of 10. I'd probably rate my meal a 3 out of 10.

In the meantime, what is your favorite restaurant? I miss my old favorite dive. *heavy sigh*