Sunday, May 31, 2009

Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy?

Are you wondering what I did with my 30 pounds of cherries? Well, we still have some left, but I've been busily pitting and cooking the last few days, and we're down to the last 2 or 3 pounds. A special thanks goes out to Echo who came out and spent the day with me on Thursday to get jam and pies made, despite the fact that she has a month-old baby and three other munchkins. And thanks to Russ for rearranging his schedule to make it possible.

I had never had cherry jam, but this jam turned out especially good. Maybe it's because our cherries are sweet and not sour cherries. I just used the directions that come with the pectin packet, except that I added extra pectin (about a quarter packet for every packet it called for). Echo and I made 7 half-pints and 4 pints of jam (I think) and two pies. She did awesome with the crust, it having been her first time, especially. It was so light and flaky. And it really helped to have her extra experience with the jam because I am pretty flaky.

Here's the pie recipe (sorry, no pics, it got gobbled up too fast). The filling comes from Southern Food, and the crust is Delores Pendleton's recipe (of Grandma Tobler's Bakery). Mmm . . . I think I'll go cut myself another piece.

Cherry Pie
Filling: 4 cups pitted cherries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch

Crust: 2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup shortening
1 egg
1 tbsp vinegar
1/4 cup cold water

In a saucepan, cook cherries in water 10 minutes. Mix together sugar and cornstarch in a bowl; add to cherries. Cook cherry mixture until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside to cool before filling pie shell.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix flour and salt; cut in shortening. In a separate bowl, beat egg and add liquids. Stir liquids into flour mixture until moistened. Form a ball and divide dough in half; roll out halves separately. Place bottom crust into pie pan, then pour cherry filling into shell. Cut vent in top crust. Moisten edge of bottom crust with water; place top crust on pie and press edges to seal. Trim excess with knife.

Bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes, then at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Cool completely before cutting.

Then Friday and Saturday I made 5 dozen cherry muffins to freeze. I was a little nervous when I finished mixing the batter because it was so thick, so I added extra milk. The texture turned out great, kind of a cornbread texture. Adam doesn't love it, but I think it's a matter of preference. They were a little bland, so I doubled the sugar in the second batch. Here's the recipe, with my adjustments:

Cherry Muffins
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup pitted cherries, halved
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift together dry ingredients; add cherries and stir gently to blend. In a separate bowl, beat egg until thick and light in color; stir in milk and melted butter. Quickly stir wet mixture into dry mixture. Grease 12 muffin cups. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin(s). Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, 15-20 if making mini muffins.

Saturday I also made a batch of freezer jam--5 half-pints. I haven't tasted it yet, but it seemed a fairly good texture. Freezer jam is so quick and easy, it makes me happy. In my experience, it doesn't taste as sweet or set up as well as cooked jam, but it seems a bit fresher. At least with strawberries, we'll see with cherries.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A few more fun hairstyles

The instructions for this one can be found at Jess's blog here.

This one is a fun 'do for swimming (but you'll need stronger rubber bands than what I had, they broke, and the 'do came undone).

I parted the hair into four horizontal sections, all from ear to ear. The front row I divided into 5 sections, alternating rubber band colors. Then I divided the next row into four sections. I divided the front sections in half and added them into the second row's sections as I went. Again, I alternated rubber band colors.

I clipped up the third row and divided the bottom row into three sections. I divided the third row into two sections, and then came the tricky part. I divided the second row's sections in half, crossing over the middle two, and divided the center bottom section in half, adding all the sections into the third row's two pigtails.

It sounds a lot more complicated than it really was. But it did take a little while. The hope is to keep it in for more than one day, which you can do with the right rubber bands.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Summer Fun

Do you remember the anticipation for summer? I loved school as a kid, but there was nothing like that last week of school, the anticipation of long, empty, warm days. Days filled with sleeping in, swimming, barbeques, popsicles, sprinklers, and projects. The possibilities were limitless.

We've been out of school for one week already! So far, we've mostly relaxed and treated our time like a long weekend. But this morning the summer fun really began:

I was hoping to post some of the really fun summer project ideas that have captured my imagination, but they are in my current issue of FamilyFun, and I guess they aren't online yet. So you'll just have to wait and see if we get around to doing them.

Here's one fun project I found via Pumpkin Petunia, fabric scrap necklaces, by cakies:

Happy summer, everyone!

A writer in the making

Isaiah is very creative, as you've probably seen here before. But recently he's really taken off with his writing, and it's exciting to see what he comes up with next. Here are a couple of examples.

Yes, we are all loving the new house, but it is a lot bigger and therefore takes more effort to keep clean. So, for family home evening we made a chore chart and got the kids involved in helping keep it clean. Isaiah and Katie both got chores, but I guess that wasn't enough for Isaiah. As I checked the chart one afternoon, I found additions at the bottom for Max:

(You can click on the picture to enlarge, but in case you still can't read Isaiah's phonetic spelling burp, spit, sleep, eat, sit, nothing, learn, and play are Max's chores.) The older kids have had a hard time with their chores, but Max has done his chores every day so far!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A great Mother's Day gift

So, I have the best mom ever. Really! Did your mom give you a Mother's Day gift? Okay, even if she did, I'll bet she didn't tell you that you could give her the same thing. And then invite your mother-in-law to have it, too, essentially letting you off the hook for everyone you were gifting for Mother's Day. Yeah, I have the best mom.

Here's our Mother's Day gift for each other and my sweet mom-in-law:

And then she used her own gift card to take us all out for lunch at Texas Roadhouse. They even line danced for us because we asked :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Millions of cherries

Yesterday we harvested about 30 pounds of cherries off our cherry tree at the old house (no, it hasn't sold yet, but we have our fingers crossed!). Thirty pounds. That's a lot of cherries.

Today we've given away about the equivalent of 3 gallon-sized bags full, and I've pitted about 12 cups worth (another gallon-sized bag full--enough for two pies and a batch of jam). That's probably half the cherries. I'll pit some more tonight and tomorrow for more jam and baking, then freeze some with the pits for snacking or whatever later. But if you live in the St. George area and want some cherries, call me or come by in the next 24 hours and you can have some. I noticed they were $3 a pound at Frei's Fruit Market, so you'd be getting a great deal (and ours look yummier anyway)!

Max - 7 months

7 months

approx. 20 lbs
red hair
blue eyes

Loves: drinking from a cup, playing with Isaiah and Katie, being thrown in the air, bouncing, banging things together to make noise, emptying and scattering baskets full of toys, splashing
Hates: coughing, being ignored, taking naps, messy diapers, waiting to eat
Milestones: rolling front to back, eating crackers and cheerios, signing "all done," bouncing in the johnny jumper, sleeping without being swaddled

Max, you are entertaining yourself more and more as you can get around a little by rolling and turning on your stomach. You're so big! But you're also so strong, and you know what you want. You love to watch Katie and Isaiah, and they love to have you as an audience. They are so proud of you, and I think they'll be your biggest protectors and teachers as you get bigger.

Since you have teeth now, I thought it might be fun to have you try cheerios and soft crackers occasionally. Boy, you love them! You inhale crackers and vanilla cookies so I'm too nervous to give them to you very often, but cheerios are much harder for you to pick up or choke on so we have those frequently. While cleaning out the garage we found the johnny jumper, and Dad hung it up for you to try out. It's now one of your favorite things! Neither of your siblings liked it, but you are a bouncing baby boy for sure. When I need you to play for a few minutes, I know the best way to occupy you is to give you a basket full of toys. It only takes you seconds to empty it and scatter its contents, and then you start banging with a toy on the basket or another toy.

I love spending time with you because most everything delights you. You are a happy baby, full of dimpled smiles, and even as young as you are you hug me every time I pick you up in the morning or after a nap. You love to "give me kisses" (wide-mouth, drooly kisses, but kisses notheless), and I don't know that I've ever willingly submitted to being grabbed and slimed so much by any baby, ever. I have sung "You Are My Sunshine" to all my kids, but you truly are my sunshine.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mother/Daughter Time

Last week our ward had a Mother/Daughter activity for Enrichment night, and it was so fun! It started out with a silly fashion show that had us in stitches--Katie's personal favorite was the "babydoll dress" which featured baby dolls pinned all over the dress of a little girl her age. Then we had a picture taken of the two of us, and we made a frame to put it in. We also each wrote a letter to the other, to be scrapbooked or saved for the future.

Then came the best part of the evening, in Katie's opinion: the ice cream sundae bar. They had everything from Kissables to homemade caramel topping (sooo yummy) to whipped cream. We all brought baby pictures, both of moms and daughters, and they were numbered and posted on a board. Throughout the evening, we were encouraged to try to guess who the baby pictures were. While we enjoyed our treats they read off the answers. Everyone was surprised that both Katie and I had dark hair as babies. The whole evening was such a fun opportunity to spend time with Katie and get to know some of the other moms and daughters in the ward.

As I was unpacking and organizing boxes (a favorite pasttime these days), I came across a picture of my mom and I at an activity like this when I was just about Katie's age (check out the matching handmade sweaters!).

This weekend was the annual fathers and sons campout, so as per tradition, Katie got to pick the fun activities for our girls' night while the boys were gone. She chose to have Grandma Linda come and sleep over, to go "A-maze-ing Golf"ing (a glow-in-the-dark miniature golf course maze), and to make sugar cookies. It was a fun night, and we all stayed up late frosting cookies. In the morning we extended the fun by going to Frei's Fruit Market and Grandma Tobler's Bakery. It was really fun to be with my best girls, my sweet girl and my amazing mom.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A recipe!

When was the last time I posted a recipe?! I haven't cooked more than the bare minimum in ages, but today we were invited to an impromptu Memorial Day barbeque, so I thought I'd try something fun: Couscous Salad. It was really beautiful, but we were running late so I didn't get a picture. And, on top of being beautiful it was really yummy. Adam wasn't too sure since he said all the ingredients were gross, so how could it taste any good? But he liked it! And I got a compliment on it from a neighbor, as well. I was also asked was couscous is, and I didn't know. So I looked it up. It's basically a dish from Israel made of wheat granules, and it cooks up super quick and tastes really fluffy.

Here's my standby sugar cookie recipe, since I made sugar cookies with Katie this weekend. This makes a really small batch, so if you like a lot of cookies, double it.

Sugar Cookies
2/3 cup margarine
2 cups flour
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
dash of salt

Beat margarine, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and beat until thoroughly combined. Place dough in covered container and refrigerate at least one hour, preferrably overnight.

Preheat oven at 375 degrees. Divide dough in half. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface until about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes. Place on cookie sheet and bake in preheated oven for 6-9 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cookies, until they turn golden around the edges.

I use store-bought frosting and sprinkles to make them extra special. To get them super-sprinkled the way we like them, frost one cookie and dip it upside-down in a bowl of sprinkles, immediately after frosting. Repeat with each cookie.

Here's a bonus recipe as I sign off: Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies. Adam made these the other day. I know that he used chocolate chips instead of chopping up the baking chocolate, and it worked fine. They were awesome. Awesome.

My Graduate

Isaiah graduated from Kindergarten last week! The program was so awesome, and Isaiah knew all the songs and sang so well. My favorite song was the last one: "We're great, but no one knows it, no one knows it just yet . . . but they will someday!" I can't believe my little boy is so grown up already. I'm so proud of him and so excited to see him continue to grow and learn.

Isaiah with his teacher, Mrs. Cornwall

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Speaking of hair . . .

It's been a while since I've posted a hairdo, mostly because we've been so busy that Katie is lucky if she gets her hair done. Here's one we tried yesterday:

Here's a close up of those cool braids at the top:

They're "scrunchie braids" I saw over at Girl Hairdos & Ideas, and they're super easy. Jess, who writes that blog, is in my new ward. I walked into Primary on Sunday and saw Isaiah's teacher and thought she looked familiar, and then I saw her little girl up at the front and realized I did "know" her! She was doing a demonstration Friday night for a few moms and invited me to come and learn some new stuff. Be prepared, I'm going to have more cute do's to show off!

Friday, May 15, 2009

And the winner is . . . .


Adam was the one who got the haircut (although he's not the only one who needs one). Here is the before picture of him opening presents on his birthday. One of his presents was new clippers (thanks, Shelli, they work great!).

After I cut his hair, I looked at all the hair on the floor and couldn't believe it came off his head! I had to take a picture because it was so long and dark. Molly's right that hair looks darker on the floor.

Thanks everyone for playing!

P.S. So far, no "little visitors." We're crossing our fingers that they won't make an appearance.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Someone got a haircut today!

If you can correctly guess who it was based on this picture of the cut hair, I'll send you a virtual prize. Do you think it was:

A. Max

B. Rachel

C. Adam

D. Isaiah

E. Katie

You could be a winner! All you have to do is comment your vote, and if you guess correctly, I'll email you something grand (and of no actual monetary value)!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

I haven't had much time to blog over the last two weeks while we've been settling in to the new house. Hopefully as we get more settled I will have a few free minutes once in a while.

I have had such a great Mother's Day, despite fighting, cranky, poopy children. They made me adorable cards. (You can tell what the latest fight was about with the message in Isaiah's: "I love you! Dij you no Katie dus not no wut 2+2 is?") And Adam made me a delicious breakfast of strawberry-filled crepes, sausage and eggs. I love crepes! (But I'd be surprised if Katie does anymore after the trauma we caused making her wait until breakfast was cooked to eat, and then forcing her to eat even though her crepe kept coming unrolled. The horror!)

I got to open lovely gifts: a new knife set (yesssss!) and chocolate truffles (mmmmm!) and we made it to church before the meeting started despite being five minutes late--it was a Mother's Day miracle! They gave out tulips for the mothers, my favorite flower. And I got a bouquet of cookie flowers because Isaiah's Primary teacher was cute and on the ball. (Oops, the kids in my class didn't make anything for their mothers.) Between the boys there were 4 pairs of poopy pants and two showers this morning, but all is quiet now in the house (I think everyone is asleep, but if not, I don't want to know), and I am enjoying a rare moment of peace and solitude.

And I want to take this opportunity to dedicate this post to my incredible mother.

I came across this picture of her while I was cleaning out boxes this week, and it made me nostalgic. When I think of my mother, this is picture I have in my head. Strangely, this picture was taken in 1988, when I was six, but in my head she is frozen in time. Maybe not just in my head: she is just as beautiful today, but without the 80s 'do and makeup.

I'd like to say that although I was a pain in the butt as a kid, we're now best friends. Instead, we were best friends all my growing up years and now I'm a pain in the butt as an adult daughter. I don't know why she puts up with me, but I sure love her. She's raised me through a lot of tough stuff, and I credit her for every good thing about me. She's sacrificed a lot to be a good mother, and I think she did an amazing job, despite how I turned out.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I love you!

P.S. I can't forget to give a big shout out to the mother of my amazing hubby. She welcomed me into her family with open arms, and continues to make me feel important in her very busy life. She raised eight great children, some of whom are my best friends, and one who is my eternal partner (she did an especially good job with him!). I hope she knows how much we love and appreciate her--just for being her.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Today is Adam's 31st birthday. I can't tell you how much I love this man. He is my world. In the eight years we've known each other he never ceases to amaze me with his kindness, determination, faithfulness, strength, intelligence, and humor. I want to be just like him when I grow up (if I ever do . . .).

Adam, two years ago today

I love you sweetheart! Have a wonderful day.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Max - 6 months

6 months

19 lbs 8 oz
28.5 inches
red hair
blue eyes

Loves: grabbing and pulling (especially hair), tasting, drinks of water, peek-a-boo (especially with Katie and Isaiah), being thrown in the air by Dad, the aquarium crib toy
Hates: being fed slowly, being left in a messy diaper, not having someone's attention (anyone in the room), being left too long in the exersaucer
Milestones: playing peek-a-boo, drinking from sippy cup, sitting alone, first two teeth, moving to a new house

You are growing up by leaps and bounds! It seems like you always have a new milestone. You started playing peek-a-boo using your elephant while I was changing you one day, and it is a new favorite game with the whole family. You are starting to like solid foods, and you're noticing when we eat and seem to want to join in. You love drinking water from a cup, but make a huge mess no matter the cup. The week we were moving, you were extremely fussy and didn't sleep. Two days before moving day, Daddy discovered a tooth poking through your gums and then we understood why! Less than a week later, the second tooth appeared.

You are so big and strong that you started sitting easily and balance for long periods of time. When you're tired or want to reach a toy, you deftly roll onto your tummy. It's amazing! And it makes you so much happier and independent. You like to play in the exersaucer for short periods, especially when someone is watching you and reacting to your motions. You are so social, and love to study new people and smile at them. They love to play with you, too, until you get close enough to grab their face, neck, hair, or clothing, and then they are happy to smile at you from a distance.

Sitting up on your half birthday