Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!!

We had our ward trunk-or-treat last Saturday, so I spent the week hurrying to get the kids costumes done. When I got Max's finished he wanted nothing to do with it. We went to the chili cook off anyway and all he wanted to do was admire all of the pretty princess dresses. I was a little worried that he was going to miss out on trick-or-treating this year, but luckily he is old enough to understand when I tell him that no costume = no trick-or-treating = no candy. I tried to not out and right bribe him, but I think it was a little border line. Of course, once you can get him to wear something once he seems to be fine wearing it again and will often make the once hated item of clothing the now loved ad most worn piece of clothing. I sometimes just don't get his thinking!

I made Max a prince/king costume this year in the hopes that he could use it to play with his cousins when they dress up as princesses. As you can tell by the continued princess dress obsession it isn't really working out that way. Oh well. I'm torn because I don't want to out right tell him, "Boy's don't dress up as princesses." And it's a very big double standard. If he was a girl wanting to dress up as a boy there would be no issue at all. On the other hand, I do believe in gender roles and I don't want to go out and encourage the dress loving.

Max did a pretty good job with the trick-or-treating this year. He seemed to understand the concept pretty well and I could get him to say "trick-or-treat" about half the time and almost always he would say "thank you". I think the holidays get so fun the older your kids get, when they can really understand what is going on and get into the spirit of the holidays.

Emily got to be a carrot because 1. she loves carrots and 2. I already had all the material I needed to make the costume. The face she is making above is her Jeff face. When she makes this face it's a little spooky how much she looks like her dad.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My dreams have been SQUASHED!!

(Ha, ha, ha! The title is one that Jeff threw out when I asked,"What should I title my post?" and we had a good laugh over it so I decided to go ahead and use it.)

Anywho, we brought home several butternut squash from Jeff's parents after the wedding festivities a couple of weeks ago and I have had a wonderful time finding ways to use them. Who ever knew that cooking with squash could be so fun and yummy?!

The first squash I used to make baby food. I have been making my own baby food for Emily, and it is very satisfying and easy. I just cook up a bunch of sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, or whatever vegetable I want to add to her repertoire of food. Then I puree it in our blender, adding some water if needed to get the consistency I like. Then I pour it into ice cube trays. I store them in freezer bags after they're completely frozen. When it's time to feed her I just thaw 3 or 4 cubes in the microwave and viola! She loves her food and I love looking in the freezer at all the pretty colored bags of frozen fruits and veggies. Right now she has squash, carrots, green beans, and pears. (BTW, that one squash made enough to fill that whole freezer bag. We are down probably about a third of what we started out with.)

The next squash I used to make squash soup. Now, Jeff was not too excited about the prospect of squash soup for dinner, but he changed his mind after he tasted it. This was YUMMY!! Here's the recipe:

1 small onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 medium potatoes, cubed
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
32 oz. chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream

Cover the vegetables with chicken stock. (I actually used part stock and part water and bouillon because that's what I had.) Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth. (I actually used our hand wand and blended it right in the pot.) If needed, add more chicken stock to get the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with a dollop of sour cream. (Crackers go really good with this soup.)

The original recipe called for celery, but I didn't have any so I left it out. It also said to saute the vegetables in 2 T. butter first, but I skipped that part. Did I mention that this soup was yummy? It made enough for the four of us for dinner (with both Jeff and I having a second bowl of soup) and three lunches for me and Emily. (My brave little eater Max would not try this soup. He just kept pretending to take a bite and then would say, "I no like it, mommy!") Another thing that was great about this soup was that all the vegetables, minus the carrots, came from Bill's garden. Thanks for a yummy dinner, Bill!!

Yesterday I cooked up our third squash and made "Better Than Pumpkin Pie". Jeff and I both thought this was one of the best "pumpkin" pies we have ever had. Here's the recipe:

1 1/2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 egg, beaten
1 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground allspice
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie shell

Place squash in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and simmer over medium heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, and cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a blender or food processor, combine butternut squash, brown sugar, cornstarch, egg, milk, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. Process until smooth. Pour into the unbaked pie shell. Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes, or until a table knife comes out clean when inserted in the center.

Instead of cooking the squash on the stove, I actually pricked it with a fork several times and baked the entire thing in a 400 degree oven for an hour. Then I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds and blended the squash in our blender. It was a big squash and it was not cooked all the way through, so I ended up cooking some of it in the microwave for a few minutes. I only used 1/4 of the entire squash to make this pie.

Can I just say that I have had so much fun expanding my recipes to include squash! Who knew that I would love cooking with squash so much. I actually have one more butternut squash that I got from a neighbor and I've found a recipe for squash fries that is supposed to be even better than sweet potato fries. I'll let you know how they turn out. In the meantime, Bill and Deanne stopped by today and brought me a big red cabbage. I've already got what looks like a yummy recipe to try for tomorrow night!

(If you are looking for a place to find good recipes, check out Allrecipes. It is AWESOME!!)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Craft Tag

My friend tagged me to post a fun craft idea. (Sorry it's taken me a while to get mine posted, Kathryn!) :) I love this tag, because who can't use some good craft ideas, especially with Christmas coming?!
Anyway here are the rules:
1. Post a project that you have been working on lately or some thing you want to start soon.
2. Include pictures, a few instructions on how to make your fun project/craft idea, or a link to where you found the idea.
3. Then tag a few people to do the same!!

I'm doing my post on fabric covered buttons. If you haven't seen these before, they are so fun and so easy! You don't really need instructions - you'll find them on the package of buttons and they are super easy to make. The fun thing about these is that you can then turn them into magnets, push pins, pony tail holders, etc. The button part is removable, so you can take it out really easily with some pliers to make the magnets and push pins. (The ones I bought online had the option of a flat back or a button loop on the back.) I'm thinking of stamping little images on some plain muslin for some cute holiday magnets (probably for gifts) and am planning on also using them for embelishments on scrapbook pages and cards. You can buy them at the fabric store or online, which is actually cheaper if you want to buy more than just a few, and they come in about five different sizes. I'm tagging Erin, Shelly, Shannan, Tiffany, Meghan, Ines and anyone else who has a fun project or craft idea they want to share.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

For Time and all Eternity

Curtis and Alese were married yesterday in the Logan Temple. It was such a beautiful ceremony, one of the most beautiful I've ever been to. Because they got married two days before our fifth anniversary, in the same temple we did, it really made me think back to my own perfect wedding day. As the sealer was talking about the covenants we make when we get married and the blessings that come from a celestial marriage, I sat next to Jeff with his arm around me and felt such gratitude for our marriage and our two beautiful children. I often wonder why I have been so blessed and am so grateful for my little family that I love so much. Even though Max was running all over the flower beds and being a little stinker about pictures after the ceremony, I still felt like I had a sense of gratitude that stuck with me the rest of the day.

Curtis and Alese had decided not to have a reception, so after the wedding lunch we went out to Jeff's parents house. It was such a perfect fall day, a little chilly, but bright and sunny with some fall leaves on the ground. We spent the day talking, laughing, and enjoying each others company. It was so great to have a day in the middle of the week to spend with family. And, of course Bill's garden is still blessing the whole family. We brought home Max and Emily's pumpkins, several squash and a couple of bags of potatoes. Yum!! Max was so excited this morning to see his pumpkin and has been looking at and carrying the pumpkins around the house all day. I feel blessed in so many ways and happy to be a part of my own little eternal family!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Those Silly, Quirky Kids!

I've been tagged twice in the last little while to post seven quirky things about myself, and try as I might I cannot think of one single thing to write. I am sure that I have some quirky things that I do, but my brain will just not function to help me recall them. Instead I've decided to write some quirky things about my two little squirts. Here goes:

- One of Emily's bum cheeks is bigger than the other one. (related side note: Emily has the cutest, chubby bum which is a little out of place on her not chubby body and I think I'm a little obsessed with how cute it is.)

- Max has become very particular about what he is wearing to the point that he has even begun to outright refuse to wear one particular orange stripped shirt anymore. If his outfit looks a little strange it's because he picked it out himself. This is one battle I'm choosing not to fight.

- Emily doesn't really laugh very often. Instead she does a kind of "huffing" sound when she's excited about something.

- Max dips his vitamin in whatever we are having for breakfast that day, whether it's eggs, oatmeal, pancakes, etc.

- Sometimes when Emily cries she blows raspberries at the same time.

- Max really likes to use his utensils, so if he is having a hard time spearing food with his fork, he'll pick it up with his hands and stick it on his fork instead of just putting it in his mouth.

- I'm not sure if all kids do this, but both of my kids like to get in this position when they are in the crawling phase. I like to say they are doing their yoga.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The First Snow

Today we woke up to a snow covered world. I love the first snow of the year! I asked Jeff if he would let me wake Max up today. (He normally gets him up on Sundays while I get ready for church.) I brought his stepping stool into his room and opened the blinds for him so that he could look outside and see the beautiful, snow covered yard. He was very excited and kept talking about building a snow man.
After dinner we all bundled up and went for a Sunday walk. I have to admit I was singing Fall's praises to Jeff the whole time even though I was a little cold because I didn't wear a warm enough jacket. When we got home, Max and I drank some yummy hot chocolate to warm up. (Jeff's going without sugar again right now, so he didn't participate.)
For me it was a beautiful, magical day! Sorry, I forgot to take pictures I was so excited about the snow!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

FALL !!!

Fall is here!! There are so many things that I love about this time of year. I love getting out my sweaters and warm clothes - I love sweaters! I love the crisp, cool air and the changing of the leaves. I love the anticipation of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. I love it when the heater kicks on and you feel all nice and cozy inside your warm house when it's stormy and cold outside. I love that snow is coming. I even love the nights getting longer with the changing of the seasons. It's just my most favorite time of the year!

Monday, October 6, 2008

In the last few days...

I had about eight inches cut off my hair. I've been in need of a haircut for a while and have been wanting to go short again but kept putting it off. With family pictures this weekend and Curtis getting married next week I finally got motivated to get it done. Now I just have to figure out how to get my bangs to look all cute like the lady at the salon did. I'm open to tips or recommendations.

Emily figured out how to pull herself up onto her feet! After spending several weeks getting up to her knees she finally had success. When I walked in her room and saw her standing she had such a proud and excited look on her face.

We had an unexpected visit from Veronica and Victoria Rojas. Jeff (and his missionary companion Steve) taught and baptized the Rojas family about thirteen years ago while serving his mission in Tacoma, Washington. It was so fun to get to spend a few hours catching up with them. I love getting a glimpse into what his life was like for the two years that he was on his mission.

Max played dress up for the first time. I guess it was inevitable with all of his girl cousins that Max would catch the princess fever. The last two times we have gone to the DI he has wanted to hold a princess dress from the costume rack while we are wandering the isles. (We go there about once a week to look for books, puzzles, etc. - it's a cheap way for us to kill a little time.) Well, when we went to my mom's this Sunday for Conference, Ellie had brought her Snow White dress down with her and Max wanted to wear it, too. I think maybe it's time to invest in some boyish play clothes for him.