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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Temporary New Look

In case anyone has noticed or is wondering, we are temporarily on a new design with the blog. The old design was, well, old. So old in fact that it was not working well with Blogger in displaying many of the older posts on the site. Heather noticed that many of the recipes were no longer displaying on the site and I found it was because of that old template design.

So for now, this is the look. When I can find some time and brainstorm something new I may come up with a new design. No holding your breath though...I can't deal with that pressure ;^)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ruth's bread

This recipe is from my friend Ruth. My kids love this bread. They literally demolish it the day it is made. The recipe says this makes 6 loaves but I have large pans so it only makes 4 for me. We give one away, freeze one, eat one for dinner and one for breakfast!  I again will make a few variations on this, see the bottom.

Ruth's bread - Makes 4-6 loaves depending on time

6 c warm water
2/3 c oil - olive or canola or a mix
2/3 c honey
2 Tbsp sugar
2 TB salt
4 TB dough enhancer
1/3 c vital wheat gluten
3 TB instant SAF yeast
8 c wheat flour
1 c oats
1 c 8 grain cereal or 1/2 c 8 grain cereal and 1/2 c flax seed
2 Tbsp lecithin
4-5 c white flour

Mix the water, sugar and yeast and let sit for 10 minutes. I will usually let it sit while we grind our wheat for the recipe.
Add oil, salt, honey, dough enhancer, gluten, oats, cereal and lecithin and wheat flour. Mix till smooth 5 minutes.
Add white flour till it pulls away from side of mixer. 5-10 minutes. I usually have to pull it out of my mixer, dump the last cup of flour on the counter and knead it smooth for the last bit. The dough just gets too big for my mixer to handle near the end.
Form into loaves and place in greased bread pans. Cover and let rise for up to 1 hour in a warm place.
Cook for 25 - 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Cool for 5 minutes, dump out of pan and rub butter on top.

Often I roll out each loaf into a 9 x 9 shape, sprinkle some cinnamon/nutmeg/sugar mix on and then roll it into a loaf and put it into the pan.  Or I have sprinkled on cinnamon and cinnamon chips (they are wonderful!).  Or I have sprinkled on garlic salt and Parmesan cheese.  The combinations are endless.

This is my favorite summer salad. It makes a ton, 20 servings. But if we half it, it is just right for dinner and leftovers for lunch the next day. I often just get a rotisserie chicken from Costco to tear up instead of cooking chicken. I will make it in the morning and then refrigerate it for the day and adds nuts right before serving it.

Chicken Pasta Salad

16 oz pkg multi-colored bow tie pasta salad
16 oz package spiral noodles
16 oz bottle of Kraft Coleslaw dressing
4-6 c cooked chicken, cubed
1/2 c green onions, chopped
2 c mayonnaise
20 oz can pineapple tidbits, drained
3-4 c sliced grapes
2 c sliced celery
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 c craisens
1 can mandarin oranges
1 c cashews or almonds
Can add 2 apples chopped and soaked in lemon or pineapple juice of you want

Cook pasta and drain and cool. Combine everything but nuts and stir well. Add nuts right before serving.

This is one of the favorites of the males in our household. Usually we only make it when we have ham. Since living in UT I have learned they are often called funeral potatoes as they are often made for family meals after funerals put on by wards. Spencer just calls them cheesey potatoes and Taylor signals more with vigor.

Potato Cassserole

1 onion, chopped
2 lb pkg frozen o'brien hash browns (the hash browns with the peppers)
1/2 c butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 c sour cream
2 c cheddar cheese
1 c bread crumbs
salt and pepper

Saute onions in butter until limp. Add soup and sour cream. Stir till smooth. Add hash browns and cheese. Stir till combined. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Top with bread crumbs and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Take foil off and cook 15 minutes longer.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Dear Family and Friends,

The funniest part of my week, just happened. I asked Robyn if she wanted to call and talk to her cousin Claire. She excitedly agreed but while I grabbed the phone she told me to wait just a minute. A minute later she was back on the other side of the counter holding her hand out for the phone. I handed her the phone and with a very impish grin on her face said, "Claire? Claaaiiree, I'm holding my white kitty cat...." as she brings her stuffed cat that she had hurried to get up to her chin. Long distance taunting. So terrible, it was funny.

This week alternated between snow and freezing to shorts and Robyn and Luke treating our hot tub like a personal pool. Often this happened in the same day. Spring in Utah, always a little crazy.

This has been a week were I keep reminding myself of my choices. ie. I chose to plant a large lawn, so its my choice to mow it. I chose a large dog, so its my choice to clean out his poop filled crate when he didn't feel well. I chose to have four kids, so its my choice to do an enormous pile of laundry. I chose to accept all the Relief Society assignments so its my choice to spend the day making handouts. You get the idea.

Jeremy this week took bridal shots for Mimi's sister Coley. They went down for the evening to the Utah State Mental hospital who happens to have amazing orchards and a castle like building. By coincidence a bunch of photographers he knew were also there practicing taking shots. And then tonight he met up for a short class by his friend on posing people which he said he learned a lot at. So is photography schedule is staying as a hobby but full.

Robyn and I were able to help Allison with a class party this week. We got to tell them to run in circles playing musical chairs, hop like frogs etc and then look silly with a parachute. All followed with plenty of cake and ice cream. Allison this week has been experimenting with her hair. Often this results in tears at 7:30 in the morning as its time to leave and with me pulling it into pig tails for her because she thinks it looks "dumb". Cannot believe hair angst is already setting in.

Thursday night was our Stake auxiliary training. All my work this time was before the event as I didn't need to talk this time. So I got to just sit and enjoy - made for a pleasant if late evening. I did my first two a day run this week. I was sort of scoffing at how the training schedule started you at 2 miles in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. Then in the afternoon when my leg muscles were all sore and stiff I realized that its harder than it seems to run twice in one day. I have a month left till the ragnar relay so I am hoping I can get in better shape before then.

On Friday I took Luke, his younger brother Jake and Robyn up to the Children's Museum for the day. They had a great time running around in that mad house. Came home tuckered out asking when we were going again. Luke pointed out that Robyn needs to take him every time because she isn't as lucky as he is because her sister and brother aren't home to play with her.

Friday, Jeremy and Spencer headed off to camp in the snow for their 11 year old camp out. The week was full of excitement as Spencer read what he needed to pack and brought his pack in for inspection and to plan a menu with the other boys. He loves scouts. We learned though that he cannot take his evening pills in the morning. He forgot to take his pills at night with the s'mores and late night stories. He remembered in the morning and took his evening pills which is a much higher dosage than his morning pills. This led to a grumpy, tired Spencer who came home and took a 4 1/2 hour nap. And had to be forced awake causing him to by hyper emotional the rest of the evening till bed time. He does so well most of the time you forget what an influence his medication has. It did make for a very peaceful afternoon around here though.

With Spencer and Jeremy gone, we enjoyed a girls weekend with Taylor in tow. We had Allison's friend Andra come over to make mini-pizzas. Then we met up with Jason's family at an indoor pool to celebrate Brynn's 3rd birthday. Ended with cupcakes and tired girls going to bed later than usual. Taylor was so happy to be back in warm clothes and his warm bed he wouldn't stop chirping. I celebrated my quiet house with a bubble bath, a cup of hot chocolate and finishing a book my friend loaned me. Then at 4 a.m. I had Allison join me after a bad nightmare and ten minutes later Robyn joined me because she peed in her bed (nights in underwear are getting better, we will have 2 or 3 nights in a row without accidents not, so we are sticking it out). As they kicked and snuggled with me till the alarm went off, I was unexpectedly not annoyed but more treasuring this moment of us three girls being all together. That won't last too much longer where they are this little.

Then the alarm went off and we packed up to run a 5k race for Allison's school. Allison and 2 friends "ran" together, finishing 50 minutes later. Getting 2,3,4 places as hand in hand they crossed the finish line. Most 8 year olds weren't brave enough to attempt 3.2 miles. I ran pushing Taylor and Robyn in our trek stroller and realized how much more of a work out that is. Considering the hills, the stops to check on Allison and Robyn I was quite proud of my 32 minutes! Robyn knew just what to do The whole race you heard her high pitched voice yelling "faster Mommy! They are beating us, run faster!" Made the people around us laugh.

To finish off our week Jeremy indulged me in a very girly date. Picnic at the park, trolling the Mac counter for new eyeliner (yes Mimi I love that liquid kind now!) and getting cheesecake.

Love to you all and below you will find a video of Allison playing the piano. She is quite proud of her new song. She and Spencer keep wanting to quit to do a different instrument but I am so enjoying that they are getting good now that I don't want them to stop!

love Heather

Monday, April 19, 2010

April by Allison Hall

April showers
bring my flowers
To bloom
and show
Light and sunshine
Till it starts

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Utah does its part to cheer me up

Dear Family and Friends,

This week I have tried really hard to not eat sugar and failed dismally. I could make it a day or two and then succumb. That combined with snow and cold for the first few days made for a not very nice mom. But then Utah decided to help me out. The sun came out, the trees bloomed, Robyn didn't wake me up for a night or two and my smile returned. Most of this week was spent playing catch-up. Emptied out my in box, got our taxes finished up (I thought they were all done two weeks ago but our accountant had another idea - no payment, no e-file - so a quick dash over to their office on the 15th put everything to rights), got laundry done, bathrooms finally cleaned up and spent a bunch of time on my calling.

This week was our multi-stake luncheon for the 55+ sisters. It was fun to do. I have never made 150 servings of spinach salad before. We stirred it together in a large storage box! My neighbors who work in Haiti several times a year came and did a presentation about what they have seen and their efforts. I always feel extremely young when I attend these events as I am the age of most of these sisters' daughters or even grand-daughters.

Allison returned to school with a big smile on her face, eager to see all her friends again. She has had a bunch of play dates to catch up with friends and a birthday party Saturday. If she doesn't have dance, piano or activity days she and her friends are off doing some project together or she is holed up with the latest book. She has my schedule memorized. Monday she looks for clean clothes, Wednesday she goes to claim the best library books first, Thursday she runs in to see if there are new popsicles or granola bars from the store. He life is quite orderly, busy and very happy.

Spencer and I reluctantly returned to doing math homework together every afternoon. I hope they give us an answer book for parents in the next few years as I am having a hard time remembering how to do everything. Spencer has his first camp-out this week and is very stoked. He has been anxiously reading all the camping sections in the scout handbook. This is the year Jeremy gets to go with him, so Jeremy has been shopping for a small tent, pads etc. Spencer gets his pack inspected Thursday night and is loving the beginning of his young men adventures.

Taylor has had some rough days this week with seizures. I used up my last versed Friday to knock him out. But he is loving the sunshine. They tried him on an adapted trike at school and to everyone's surprise he loved it. They just let him go in the parking lot by himself. It won't move unless you peddle and he just slowly moves around quite happy. His teacher sent me a picture:

Jeremy has managed to fit some photo work in this week. He has been helping a college student at work with her photography finals. Taking her on a photo walk and then helping her work on her pictures one night. He has had 3 photo shoots - one baby and two graduates. Plus he was able to take a lunch break with his camera one day. So photo work and the fact that he can ride his motorcycle again has made for a happy week for him.

Friday night we had ward dinner groups. So three other couples came over for dinner and we all got to know each other better. Its a fun way to interact with people you wouldn't usually think to ask over.

The last part of this week I have been trying to tackle the yard again. Got the lawn done - vacuumed and trimmed might be a more accurate description. As I mowed puffs of dirt clods filled the air from when we aerated. Got a few buckets of weeds out and cleaned out the waterfall so we could restart it. The amount and quality of muck, dead vegetation and worms etc that I dug out of the waterfall defied belief. I finally got my hands to smell normal several hours and several soaps and lotions later. We even got all the outdoor furniture out. So it is beginning to look like spring. And when I run I don't have to carry a flashlight anymore. It is so much easier to get up and going when the stars aren't out. I am out of practice of spending the day in the sunshine though because I am wiped out at the end of the day. Need to build up my endurance!

Robyn has been joined at the hip with Luke and Raquel this week. The last half of this week has been Luke and Robyn running around outside with scooters or just dancing for the birds and enjoying the sunshine. We told Robyn that when we got back from Arizona that she couldn't wear pull-ups at night any more. I think she is old enough to wake up and use the bathroom now. So every night except for one she has woken me up. Half the time to tell me she had wet her bed and the other half to tell me she needs to go to the bathroom. So she will get it eventually. I just hope she figures out she can wake up, go potty and go back to bed without every waking up her mom! I have gotten used to my 7-8 hours of straight sleep!

Friday I was able to go to lunch with two of my friends, Brenda and Angie with their daughters Mia and Raquel. All of our daughters were born within a year of each other and it is amazing to see them play now. It was Angie's birthday which always gives us a fun excuse to visit. Forget parties and presents, meals out with friends are my favorite part of birthdays.

Trying to do more of garden from seeds this year. Not doing so great presently but figure its a learning process.

Love to you all and hope you are enjoying this spring. Heather

We got this recipe from my sister-in-law Katherine several years ago. It has become our favorite way to eat salmon, either grilled or broiled. Just sprinkle the salmon heavily with the rub, let sit for 30 minutes and then grill or broil to desired doneness. It can also be used on chicken or pork or other fish. We mix up a batch and just keep it on hand in a jar for whenever fish goes on sale.

1/4 c sugar
1/4 c chili powder
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp cumin
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp cocoa
2 tsp pepper
dash of cinnamon

Sunday, April 11, 2010

It stinks to come back from vacation

Dear Family and Friends,

Last night I decided that returning from vacation just stinks. Sometimes I return from a trip excited to dive back into projects and real life. But not this time, nope, no way. Last night we got up at the unearthly hour of 3 am to drive back from Arizona. Between long pit stops, 2 road closures and having to retrieve Jeremy's truck from the airport we didn't arrive home till 6 p.m. Utah time. Taylor was so grateful that Meredith was there waiting for him. She took him for a walk, laid on his swing with him, fed him, gave him a bath and tucked him in - all while he smiled away. The rest of us cleaned out the van discovering just what Robyn had been doing with her crayons and markers in the back seat. Jeremy broke out the cleaners and vacuum and attacked the debris. I ran to the grocery store for Benedryl to combat the allergic reaction Robyn had break out all over her body from eating said markers and crayons. Then while Meredith tucked in some grumpy kids Jeremy and I went over to clean the office. We didn't think taking our kids to learn that jobs don't take care of themselves was worth the tantrums that would entail. Then we ate cereal for dinner and crawled into bed. It was sort of a long day. I don't think kids thought it was so bad. Spencer informed me that long road trips were very relaxing. You get to read books, watch movies and eat lots of snacks and junk food. I had to agree that when you put it like that it really doesn't sound bad.

This post is picture heavy so be for-warned. Two weeks ago was mostly spent getting ready to go. We planted our peas and potatoes and did all the laundry. Robyn and I ran over to BYU for some ranch dressing for Mimi and we decided that it was worth the trip. Think it will become a regular thing. Especially as Robyn discovered the creamery doesn't just sell salad dressing:

Jeremy drove down with us to Phoenix last Saturday. He had set up his phone so we could hear conference. We heard the morning session but by the afternoon we were in a no cell coverage zone. We drove down through Las Vegas so we got to see the Hoover Dam which was very cool. They are devising a new road across that looks extremely precarious. Arrived in time to head to a park with Daniel, Mimi, Claire and Sam to play and have a BBQ. It was just what we needed and even brain dead as we were, it was wonderful. Claire running through the water sprayers at the park. It seemed that almost every park we went to had a water feature.

Easter we spent enjoying an amazing brunch while watching conference. I use watching loosely but there were moments of quiet where talks were heard. Then we were able to join with Mimi's family for an outdoor Easter picnic and egg hunt. Our kids and us had a wonderful time. Fred and Robyn even had put together a basket of goodies for our kids. Jeremy was able to stay for the food and hunt and even to snap a few pictures but then he was off for the airport to fly back to snow and coldness.
Monday Claire was under the weather. So the kids and I headed off for the Phoenix Science center. It was more geared towards older kids and our kids explored all afternoon. They laid on a bed of nails, dissected a cow's eye, learned how to make a fire ball 6 foot tall and took part in an interactive hurricane where rain pelted them in the face.
Tuesday we spent the day at the zoo enjoying the warm weather and all the animals. The Phoenix zoo is very spread out so you walk a lot. Ended up with some very happy but tired people by the end. Taylor didn't feel so well the first half of the vacation but by half way through he was soaking up the sun and was happy with life.

Wednesday we went to Claire's gymnastics class where Robyn and Allison got to join in on the fun. Then we went off to a train park to eat lunch, play on the playground, and write a little kiddie train around the park. Then the kids and I went off for a few hours of playing at a nearby park and stocking up at Trader Joes while the girlies and Taylor took a siesta. Spencer felt a little odd man out this trip surrounded by so many little girls. But he was able to retreat with a good book and to the hammock whenever he needed a break.
Thursday we went to the Children's museum. It was more for little kids and Spencer was at a loss for the first part. Then he managed to shift his thinking and took over restocking the grocery shelves and building a tree fort that would be strong enough etc. To cap off the day we visited Mimi's favorite frozen yogurt shop. The kids licked their cups clean.

Then after a break back at Mimi's house we set off for something pretty amazing. Daniel and Mimi (and Fred and Robyn) had arranged for Jeremy and I to stay at a nearby resort overnight. So Thursday night we all went swimming in their pools (yes there were 6!! pools) and ate nachos. Then Daniel and Mimi bravely drove all the kids home while I went to the airport to pick up Jeremy. We had a wonderful, relaxing time and Daniel and Mimi managed all our kids so graciously. They came back to meet us Friday mid-day and we spent the day at the pool. 87 degrees has never felt so good. Taylor laid with me in the shallow end, happy as a clam. Allison taught Robyn how to swim so she can move through the water now. Can't breathe yet - but baby steps. For Easter Spencer and Allison got prescription goggles. It sure makes a big difference in their confidence, especially Allison. When you wave her over, she can actually see you now. None of us wanted the day to end so we stayed till sunburn and shadows started to form. Then we returned to pack and have a last BBQ.

It was a perfect spring break. I won't mention the grumpies that occurred at times because that is just life and I conveniently try to forget them. I will remember: running on the deseret hills by Daniel's house and loving the low altitude; eating so many yummy goodies that I need to restrict my diet for a LONG time now; Robyn teasing Claire with a big smile on her face ("Can you hide my kitty so Claire can't get it? Nope, put it on top of the bookcase, really high." turns to Claire a few minutes later "Claaaaireee, what's on top of the bookcase Claire? Can you see it?" all done in this teasing syrupy sweet voice); Robyn and Claire getting ready for bed tonight and Mimi looking for giraffes in their ears and blow drying their hair; staying up too late to watch New Moon with Mimi; and just having a fun time with my kids and family. It was great.

Did I mention that my kids and I really loved playing with Sam?:

And that Mimi taught Allison to make the best ever chocolate dipped strawberries?:

Thank you Daniel, Mimi, Claire and Sam. We had a wonderful time, Heather