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Sunday, July 25, 2010

BBQ chicken marinade

This recipe is from my neighbor Mayumi. You can use the marinade for any cut of chicken but my kids love it on drum sticks. They will eat as many of these as I can give them. Don't skimp on the marinating time. 2 hours is the minimum and the chicken needs to be fully thawed. And the pepper and garlic powder measurements are for real - you won't regret it.

5 lbs chicken
1 c water
1/4 c sesame oil
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 c soy sauce
1 c oil
1/4 c garlic powder

Combine the chicken with all the marinade ingredients. Marinate at least 2 hours or over night. Broil or BBQ.

This date cake recipe is from my Mom. She used to make it to take to the beach for a picnic. It tastes great warm or cooled. It crumbles easily so to transport it, keep it in the pan until you serve it. If you have it at home, I like to top it with whipped cream or drizzle a mixture of cream cheese, powdered sugar and a little milk over the top.

Combine and cool: 1 c date, 1 tsp soda, 1 1/2 c boiling water

Cream together: 1 c sugar and 3/4 c shortening
Mix the date mixture into the sugar and shortening.
1 1/2 c flour + 2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Pour cake mixture into a 9 x 13 greased pan.
Sprinkle on top of the cake mix:
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c chocolate chips
1/2 c chopped nuts

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes

Zucchini season is starting! This recipe was from one of my Mom's friends Francie McGrath. It is one of Jeremy's favorites. It freezes great and tastes best in the middle of winter. I will do 2 9x9 pans for my family and eat one for dinner and freeze the other. The frozen one can be cooked covered in aluminum foil for 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees and then remove the foil for the last 15 minutes.

6 c chopped zucchini/summer squash
1 chopped onion
1 c chopped carrots
1 16 oz container sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
4 c cooked chicken cubes (3-4 chicken breasts)
1 6 ounce package stuffing
1/2 c melted butter
salt and pepper

Put zucchini, carrots and onions in a large pot. Cover with water and add 1 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, drain. Put vegetables back into pot. Add sour cream, soup, cheese and chicken and stir till combined. In a separate bowl stir together the stuffing and butter. In a 9 x 13 pan spread 1/2 the stuffing mixture. Pour on the zucchini mixture. Top with the other 1/2 of the stuffing mix. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

Dear Family and Friends,

This week has definitely seen a lot of fun and sun. The above picture is from Payson Lakes where we camped this past weekend with Jason and his family and our neighbors the Skaggs. Its around an hour south of our house up Payson canyon. Kids swam, floated and played in the kayaks all day Saturday and enjoyed running wild with cousins. First night reminded us we need to camp more often as kids had a hard time settling down. But second night was bliss as everyone was too tired to do more than lay down and start snoring. Saturday night we broke out our 8 year old dutch oven for the FIRST time to make fudge chocolate cake. It turned out really good despite my messing up the recipe so we will have to try it again. Had some small hiccups like our hot water heater breaking and leaking everywhere but who really needs a hot shower when it is 100 degrees? This was our first family camping trip this year. With scouts and father/son, Jeremy and Spencer have done 4 camp-outs all ready which have eaten up some of our weekends. So in preparation we spent the week cleaning out the trailer and getting everything organized. Every year we get a little better and more efficient at this camping thing.

Allison got up early Sunday to take Rocky for a walk with Jeremy and his camera. She loves her one on one time. She and I floated on an inner tube in the middle of the lake for over an hour as she told me how hard it is to be the middle but that she handles it pretty well she thinks. I had to agree except for the occasional snitty fit.

We took a break from organizing camping stuff Tuesday for Jeremy's work party. This year instead of going to Lagoon they went to Deer Creek Reservoir up Provo Canyon. One of the guys brought his boat and they rented 4 wave runners, got a bunch of snacks and a Mexican catered dinner. Our kids said it was better than Lagoon, which for them is a high compliment. Taylor was the most relaxed riding around on the boat than I have seen him outside of a hot tub! Allison and Robyn were little dare devils who kept saying thumbs up, they wanted to go faster on the inner tube. Jeremy was the patient dad who was the back seat driver as Spencer and Allison showed him how to drive the wave runners around the reservoir. It was a great day and kids were toast by the time we got home. Spencer got up for piano the next morning at 7 and then came home and went back to bed till almost lunch. We had one small hiccup again involving Robyn trying to hold a poop explosion for too long but I am trying to suppress that memory and just hope the bathroom is heavily bleached before another party comes along. Luckily that was at the end of the day.

Allison and Spencer have become quite attached to their goggles. I think they finally realized how much nicer it is to be able to see when they do water activities.

All the other odds and ends of the week don't sound quite as exciting. Girls continue swimming lessons for one more week. Robyn's hair is almost white and despite lots of conditioner is starting to resemble straw. Allison is figuring out flip turns. We painted Robyn's desk chair. The desk and chair come from my Grandpa's basement. It definitely turned out with a homemade feel but Robyn loves it. I am trying to figure out if I should paint the desk too. Thoughts? Robyn is excited to have Allison play school with her in her bedroom now.

Love to you all, Heather

Dear Family and Friends,

This has been the week of sniffles around here. Allison came home early from gymnastics Tuesday with a bad cough and stayed home Wednesday under duress (please, can't I go to school, hack, hack, blow her nose). Spencer came home early Wednesday from school under the weather. Taylor also came home Wednesday sick and was home Thursday. Everyone seems to be back to normal though except for me! Yesterday I thought allergies had really hit. Later that night as I felt worse despite Clariton and got a fever I realized it was just a regular cold. So I have slept a lot today. Kids all let me sleep till almost 9 and then I skipped out after sacrament and went right back to sleep for 2 hours. I think I must have looked a little miserable this morning as Allison came back and asked me what she could do to help as we walked to church and pushed Taylor for me the whole way. But I am hoping it will pass soon, as Moms are not allowed to get sick!

Monday there no school for fall break so we spent the day up at the zoo. First though we made a stop at the dollar cuts place for haircuts. Spencer decided to switch to a short spikey hair cut and Allison had her hair bobbed to her shoulders. Both look very cute. At the zoo, we mostly followed Robyn around as she ran from cage to cage making all the animal sounds. Spencer and Allison took her on the train, which she was thrilled about. The kids loved to watch a monkey family wrestle with their little one. Allison had a friend invite her to see a movie that night so she had a full day.

Jeremy's back kept getting worse so he finally went into a chiropractor and has been in twice now. The first time the pain went way down and stayed down for a day and a half. The second time really didn't help too much. He had a vertebrae and a rib out of place so its mostly just popping those back into place so they stop pinching his nerves until they stay in their right position.

Spencer was very excited Thursday to go to the dentist and get his new retainer and his old on both put back in. He was literally jumping up and down on the chair as we waited. Then they put the retainer in and he realized how hard it was to talk and how it felt very uncomfortable. There were lots of tears as he tried to talk without a lipse. He has gotten much better since then. He also had two gigantic canines pulled. The dentist told him that with roots like that the tooth fairy pays extra. But the tooth fairy has yet to come, showing what a slacker she is - we keep telling him she is on vacation! A big milk shake afterwards helped him forget all the blood and pain. Spencer keeps working hard to bring his math grade up. He if finally caught up on homework and we made him some flashcards to work on his multiplication. He knows his times tables just not quickly without thinking about it.

Friday we had cousin night here. Our kids were so excited for their cousins to come over, they were just pacing the front yard waiting. Pizza, brownies, running around outside, Rocky helping to eat said pizza and brownies, watching Disney halloween movies curled up on the couch, it was a great time. Jeremy with my intermitent help set up the bookshelves in the basement. We just need to anchor them to the walls and I can move the stacks of books out of room - yeah.

Speaking of our basement, we are almost donw. Yeah, I think I have said that before. We had the counter top and sink, toilet etc put in the bathroom and a door for the shower. Tomorrow they come to put in the doors on Jeremy's desk and then its just little touch ups everywhere. And our basement has been officially broken in as Jeremy went downstairs last night to find that while we were gone Rocky had pooped and peed in our basement. Not happy!

Saturday Jeremy had a photo group meeting up at Liberty Park to take portraits. So the kids and I met my parents at the park and had a great day playing on the playground and eating lunch. Jeremy has some great pictures from it I am sure he will post later. Robyn now recognizes my parents which is neat. It was just a beautiful day and kids had a great time and tired themselves out. Allison and Robyn fell asleep on the way home so Spencer, Jeremy and I left them in the car to quickly clean the office while they slept.

Saturday night was Allison and my girl's night out. We went to Cafe Rio, one of Allison's favorites. She always goes the zero nutrition route and goes for nachos, or chips and dip! Then we went to see High School Musical 3 together. As we were waiting in line Allison told me how nice it was to have some quiet time together without the fussy one around. I asked her who the fussy one was and she just got this exasperated look - "you know, the pill, the pain, they pushy one - Robyn!". Allison also has a new habit of just stopping to look at me periodically, hold my hand and say, "mom, you're a really good mom. You do a great job". Not sure where she got it from, but I sure love it.

This week I had 3 Relief Society meetings, two of them at night so Jeremy got stuck with kid detail a lot. We had auxiliary training for all the wards one night and a stake fireside on pornography the other (very scary but informative fireside). I felt badly at auxiliary training because I used the training materials from the previous secretary only to find out that some parts were wrong so I had to contact them all after to recant. I have decided stake callings can be summed up in one word - meetings!

On Thursday I went grocery shopping towing Taylor's wheelchair with Robyn lending a hand. Five minutes into it Robyn decided she was done and it was nonstop tantrums after that. I should have been wiser and just left but I had this do or die attitude. I have never had so many people stop and offer to help me! Robyn fell asleep on the way home, worn out. Reminded me that kids can have dinner without milk periodically and that next time I should just leave when it gets that bad. Jeremy pointed out that Robyn coming up and singing "I'm so pretty" is now a scary experience. Its like what did you do - ruin Allison's play make-up, put on all of Allison's clothes, dump gel all over your head - you just never know!

Spencer trying to show off his retainer. It has white plastic on the front so its hard to see.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

a summer week

Dear Friends and Family,

It seems only a short while ago I was complaining that summer would never arrive. This week it was near 100 degrees every day without cooling down to much at night. Really, really love air conditioning. I think Jeremy was convinced that I never wore make-up or bothered to take my hair out of a ponytail for the week as it would just get all sweaty anyway! Swimming lessons continued this week and we stayed afterward a couple of times with a picnic lunch and spent the afternoon. Everyone passed their levels although Spencer needs to work on flip-turns still. One day we stayed at the pool while Taylor was at summer school. I had no excuse to just lay in the shallow water and watch the chaos. After spending the afternoon tossing dive sticks, being pummeled as kids showed off jumps, water acrobatics etc and being the "horsie" for Robyn I was beat. I now LOVE to take Taylor with us to the pool. Then he is my reason to just sit and relax!

Had our miscellaneous medical visits this week. Spencer got a new retainer made and installed and is back to the occasional lisp and drool. Taylor had 7 warts burned off of his elbow while I pinned his arm and Robyn held his hand. Taylor and Spencer are now both sporting duct tape band-aids in an attempt to kill off the roots of their warts. It really does work!

Friday night Meredith spent a night pampering Taylor. The rest of us packed bags of dinner and treats and went to see Willie Wonka at our outdoor amptitheater. It was awesome. Robyn was just entranced. Everyone got their favorite snow cones while I got a Wonka scrumdiddliumptious bar all to myself and we all had a great night.

For our date Friday I was reminded why Jeremy doesn't always consider our dates "romantic". He helped me prepare and serve dinner to a singles cluster event put on by our stake. Then he was off for a family photo shoot. But we met up for Kneaders dessert and to watch a tv show together. Honestly I thought it was a great date although to describe it as romantic might be a bit of a stretch.

Robyn has been running around singing Taylor Swift songs loudly and off-key with hip shaking dancing if anyone will watch her. Spencer and Allison after re-reading the Harry Potter series have been watching the Harry Potter movies whenever they can convince Robyn to go somewhere else. I finished The Kite Runner which I really - can't say enjoyed - but am glad to have read and was very impressed by. Discovered a wall covered in the kid's bathroom that I have neglected for awhile - it was covered in snot wipes from little fingers. That stuff is like cement! Jeremy has been pulling late nights catching up on photo work and was glad to have a new EQ counselor put in today. And Taylor has been back in summer school for three days this week and is ready to hit the sack by the end of the day.

So a regular, hot, tiring, fun, summer week. Plus The Closer started this week and now I see my family in 3 weeks. So life is good!

love to you all, Heather

Dear Family and Friends,

Happy 7-11 Day! As its Sunday, this year we will be getting our slurpie and celebrating 7-12 day. Doesn't quite have the same ring.

Monday we continued our celebrations with our annual Neighborhood of Fire. The day was spent cleaning the yard and making sure there was nothing in rooms or bathrooms that would gross out any visitor. Every year a different set of friends come although there are a few regulars. Ate a lot, visited, had a watermelon seed spitting contest, chased parachutes, threw water balloons and set off a humongous amount of fireworks. Our 16 year old neighbor Todd has been officially passed the propane torch and all the little boys (and men) help feed his pyrotechnic tendencies. Kids ran around super late eating popsicles and waving glow in the dark bracelets. It was just a lot of fun.

This week there was a lot of good with the occasional "uglies" as my sister-in-law likes to call them popping up. Kids started swimming lessons and since we are the last lesson sometimes we just pack a lunch and stay until the pool opens for public swim 20 minutes after classes. So everyone has been sleeping really well this week. Robyn was in a serious sleep deprivation mode after the weekend and took till Thursday till she could wake up without immediately reverting to full on whine and cry mode. Robyn loves her swimming class and has been busy teaching Taylor and I how to play "Alligator, Alligator, what time is it?" Allison just beams after every class because her teacher tells her how good she is and that she ought to be on swim team. Spencer is convinced his teacher works him harder that he has ever done before (which I am a big fan of) but despite his grin every day at swimming is sticking to his guns that this is his last lesson ever. Next year he is 12 and too old to do anything but swim team or life guard classes.

Taylor has been home all week with us and enjoying the pool and sunshine. I had one day this week where I caught the "uglies" until I could laugh about it. Jeremy had left for the airport. I took some friends and our kids to the pool. Arrived there to find that Taylor had pooped all over his swimsuit so I had to change him in the parking lot. All the kids waited by the pool door so no one could see me trying to do this. It was not a pleasant experience. Great time at the pool. Arrive home to find that Taylor had pooped again, this time all over his seat and suit. As I am showering him and running the sanitary cycle in the laundry I realized that both Taylor and Robyn had peed their beds that morning and I still hadn't finished washing their bedding. All I could think of was "really?!!!" But then I just had to start laughing.

My watch broke a few weeks ago which I think is turning me into a better mother even as my homemaking skills take a dive (really, how clean do bathrooms need to be anyway?). Last night our short bike ride turned into an hour and half. Allison was telling me how all that exercise was burning off our french toast. As we went 3 miles in that hour and a half I didn't have high hopes about the aerobic benefits but kids all went to bed smiling.

We went up to the children's museum yesterday. Allison and her friend and Robyn were loving it while Spencer is realizing that although he is still a little boy inside in many ways he also is outgrowing a lot of the kid stuff. He gets a very long suffering look sometimes - thank goodness for scouts and all those manly activities! (He was so excited Monday to get up and put flags on people's lawns with his scout leader that he got up at 5:45 and out the door all by himself. I just laid in bed and smiled) At the museum some little 6 year old was giving him grief. First he punched him in the stomach when he wanted Spencer to give him a turn causing Spencer to yell at him that he was a brat. Think that would be the end of it? Nope, that 6 year old came up later and started to pull Spencer's short pockets, pulling his shorts down in the process, causing Spencer to yell at him to watch it and walk off. I come around the corner to hear the mother of said 6 year old telling the workers that Spencer shouldn't be unsupervised as he is yelling at the little kids. Probably true. Just wish that when I hear a mother complaining about a child, I didn't immediately suspect that she is complaining about my son. Little case of the uglies on my part again.

Two good things this week though: I got to have a girl's night out with my friend Monica. Saw Eclipse and ate at Kneaders. Can't beat that. And Jeremy and I went to a stake Relief Society social and just got to sit, visit, eat dinner and enjoy some adult time.

Thursday, Jeremy left for Washington for his sister Jonna's wedding. Friday he spent the day touring Poulsbo area where he lived since he was 8 and to eat lunch with a couple of old friends. Said it was a good trip down memory lane. Then Friday night was the rehearsal dinner and Saturday was the wedding. Said he was really glad he was able to be there. He gets back late tonight. And the first thing he gets to do when he gets back is....

To kill the ugly in our entry way. For a few days I thought our kids were having bloody noses in our entry way. Then I looked up and realized some "thing" was either pooping or dripping blood from its victims down our wall. Yesterday it made an egg sac up there. If it didn't require our extension ladder I would break out the bug spray myself. But it does, so we all decided this is a definite dad job!

Other odds and ends. I booked our hotel for the Saturday night in August when we go out to CA to see my family! Yeah!!! Reading The Kiterunner and had to take a break. I literally almost threw up reading it at the hate and violence it talks about. I had read his other book "A thousand suns" and was really disturbed by it as well but not as much as this book. I think its because I have an 11 year old son.

Love to you all and hope you get your slurpie for the holiday!


P.S. Having a problem loading pictures but did get one video.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Classic Brownies and Hot Fudge Sauce

This hot fudge sauce if from my neighbor Raquel. I could and have eaten it with a spoon and have had the tummy-aches to prove it. It is great over anything but my favorite is over brownies and ice cream. The brownies are just adapted from the Lion House book.

Hot Fudge

Mix until very smooth:
2 c sugar
4 Tbsp cocoa
4 Tbsp flour (You can increase this to 5 Tbsp if you want a thicker sauce)

Melt in a pan:
1/2 c butter
1 can evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla

Stir the sugar mixture into the butter mixture and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Store in refrigerator or you can even freeze it. Reheat in a microwave till pouring consistency when you are ready to use it.

Classic Brownies

1 c plus 5 Tbsp butter
1 c cocoa
2 2/3 c sugar
6 large eggs
2 2/3 c flour
1 c chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray a 9x13 pan. In a large saucepan, melt butter and cocoa over low heat. Stir in all but the chocolate chips till smooth. Add chocolate chips and stir. Pour into pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes - for me 23 minutes is just right. It will look a little underdone but will set up as it cools. To check to see if it is done, push in the middle with your finger gently and it should slightly spring back.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th!

Dear Family and Friends,

With the 4th of July falling on a Sunday this years it seems like the celebrations have increased. Thank goodness for naps and Sunday morning sleeping in! Friday we went to the pool with some friends in tow and then went off to a baseball game followed by fireworks. Robyn was more interested in the churros and the playground but everyone else enjoyed the game. Then Saturday we rousted out of bed at 5:30 to go down to Provo to see their hot air balloon festival. Jeremy was in photographer heaven as with Spencer and Allison in tow he got to go inside a balloon as it was being inflated and help with the set up and take down. Because of wind there were many false starts and only 3 balloons ended up launching. But it was still a lot of fun followed by french toast at the nearby Kneaders. Then everyone came home and crashed with naps.

Jeremy had a long photo shoot with a friend's extended family up in the canyon Saturday evening. The kids and I camped out at a nearby field for the city's fireworks show. Then we all met up to lay on the grass, eat popcorn and ooh and aww together. Tomorrow we are doing our Neighborhood of Fire so our kids will definitely get more than their fair share of fireworks this year. Tonight is just stuffing ourselves with BBQ food (BBQ peaches and vanilla ice cream - wow) with Jason and family and having kids run around and swim in the hot tub. Life is pretty dang good.

Lots of summer activities this week with friends coming along for the ride most days. Taylor had 3 days of school this week including a dance which I heard he loved. Robyn had her two last games of t-ball. Thank goodness for a patient coach as the parents just laugh at the kids and visit while he runs herd on the chaos. Got my hair done and Allison informed me that it didn't look any different! Guess that is a good thing. I give Jeremy a hard time about his gray hairs and he points out that I wouldn't even know if I had any as they are just colored over!

We took our annual kids outing to BYU this week. Kids ate a picnic on the quad, tramped all over the art museum (Spencer's favorite) and the Bean animal museum and then ended up at the creamery for ice cream cones. Always a favorite excursion.

Monday night Robyn was determined to have her training wheels off. Allison and her friend Alena were all set to help her and cheer her on. Things were going great except for a tendency to steer towards the curb when three little girls scream and run away from our yard, yelling "snake!". Spencer runs towards the snake yelling "cool". A very boy vs. girl moment. It turned out to be a garter snake, "Vincent" who has taken up residence in our front yard. Kids spent a long time with a patient Jeremy teaching them to get over their phobias and they all thought it was very cool. We have seen Vincent a few times since, hopefully eating all our bugs and spiders for us.

Love to you all and hope you enjoyed some fireworks and BBQ too!