What Ya Gonna Do with a New Year?

Snowy morning - looks cold and quiet out there. Inside my house? Not so quiet...

I'm prepping for the annual Hill Family Fete. What's on my food list this year? Russian teacakes, stuffed mushrooms, habanero jelly w/ cream cheese & crackers, and pizza of course! I'm in charge of making dough for 6 pizzas and then taking whatever other munchies I'm dying for. So I'm going for sweet, savory, and spicy. Sounds like a fabulous mix to me!

Russian Tea Cakes / Mexican Wedding Cookies / Italian Wedding Cookies / Butterballs
1 1/2 c unsalted butter (or use salted butter and omit salt)
3/4 c powdered sugar
3/4 t salt
1 1/2 c chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, or pecans are my favorite)
4 1/2 t vanilla
3 c sifted, all purpose flour
~1/3 c powdered sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 325.
Cream butter & sugar. Beat until light & fluffy. Add nuts and vanilla. Blend in flour gradually. 
Shape dough into balls (about 1 teaspoon in size) and place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 15-20 min. Don't brown.
Cool slightly on wire rack then roll in powdered sugar.
Sounds good eh?
Here's my stuffed mushroom recipe. I use my handy mini food processor when chopping  these ingredients.

Stuffed Mushrooms
Large fresh mushrooms, stems removed (the original recipe only called for 12 large mushrooms - the stuffing fills many more than 12)
1 pkg dry stuffing mix
1 8 oz cream cheese
1/2 pound imitation crab meat (the last package I bought was 12 oz. We used it all and it was just fine)
2 cup butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled & minced
Salt & pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
Shredded parmesan cheese (the real stuff)

Wash mushrooms. Remove stems (twist out) and reserve. Arrange mushroom tops in baking pan - bottoms up.
Prepare stuffing mix according to package directions.
Preheat oven to 350.
Place cream cheese in large bowl. When stuffing is finished immediately add it to bowl on top of cheese - this will soften/melt the cream cheese with little effort on your part.
Melt butter over medium heat and add garlic. Cook until soft (about 5 min).
Chop crab meat and mushroom stems.
Mix stuffing mix, cream cheese, crab meat, and mushroom stems.
Liberally stuff mushrooms (or if you've completely filled your baking pan with mushroom tops, you can spread the mix over the top and push it down so that it fills the mushrooms. It'll be more difficult to get individual mushrooms, but it'll still be ooey goodness.)
Drizzle with garlic butter.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Top with shredded parmesan.
Bake for 15 min (until stuffing is browned).
I've still got to go to the grocery store and get things cooking, so I'd better be headed out the door.

I hope you all have a safe, enjoyable celebration this evening. See you in 2011!


Post Holiday Wrap Up

This morning I awoke to sun streaming through my bedroom blinds and realized that Jon had slipped off to work without waking anyone. So I called him a couple of hours later and was surprised to hear how happy he was that I'd called. I played with his phone a bit over the weekend and linked my photo with my name so it pops up when I call. He said he'd love it even more if I flashed a bit more cleavage (but don't tell him I told you...).

I sat down at my computer with the last of my mom's delicious cream cheese, lime jello, marshmallow, banana and pineapple salad (probably NOT the one you're thinking of. The cream cheese is in little chunks and mixed with partially jelled jello so that's chunky too) Yum Yum Yum. I've now spent a couple of hours catching up on all of the blog posts from the past week or so, and I discovered a fireplace that I am in LOVE with...

I'm not in love with the pink couch and chair, but the blue of that fireplace took my breath away. So I spent the next hour reading about her $7500 treasure (bit more than my budget can handle right now) and looking for tile books at my county library. Let's just see what design ideas I can come up with this week...

Shortly after I figured out that the holiday came and went, and my camera never left its spot on the kitchen counter. Seriously - not a single holiday photo. Gack...

I got to talk to my stepdad about the quilt I made him for Christmas (I was thinking that perhaps I love it more than he did, but that's not necessarily the case...) and to my dear friend, April. I've let too much time pass since I had a good conversation with April, and now I'm missing her so much more. Never fear - I get to spend a weekend with her and all our boys in January!

My home office is a bit of a disaster area - wrapping flotsam here and there. Stuff piled on the dresser, couch, and corner that I don't know where else to put. The broken bunk bed ladder from a wrestling match gone awry is leaning against the closet door, and under that are some vacuum attachments, more wrapping scraps, and the crud that got dumped out of the boys' backpacks the day they came home from school last week.

I'm now officially a teleworker, and I need to box up my cubicle and bring all of that home. I'm dreading trying to find a spot for it in here! Jonny - those shelves would be very helpful right about now. If I do the more cleavage photo will you get it done soon???

Good thing I've got a few days to get things whipped into shape.


Christmas Breakfast

We have a lovely tradition with our next door neighbors where we eat Christmas breakfast together. It's something I did when I grew up. We traded hosting with the Harrises for years, and I love that Jon and I have been able to renew this.

My dear neighbor, Debbie, has the exact same Christmas dishes that I do - and Target sold them YEARS ago. I love that we both fell in love with those silly plates the same year and then didn't discover our similar taste until we moved in next door to each other.

Last year we had pancakes at Deb's house, so this year it's my turn. I usually make a bread casserole that I put together on Christmas Eve day and plop in the oven when we wake up to open presents. Oila! Presents are open, and breakfast is ready. A couple of years ago I found a recipe similar to mine that you do in a crockpot. Yah - won't be trying that again. The eggs just can't take overnight heat plus the time it takes to open gifts. It was a little over done.

This year I'm hoping to make some kind of french toast. I know there's a recipe for pre-assembly that you bake while you open, but can I find it now? NO! I'm craving buttermilk syrup, and it doesn't go so well with egg casserole. I don't want to be standing in front of a griddle. I just want to play and enjoy company. Is that such a bad thing?

How about you - what do you eat for Christmas breakfast?


Home for Christmas

You know I'm the sentimental type, and I'm particularly nostalgic about growing up in Provo (please note that I'm completely proud of myself for not attending university there...) Two of my favorite things about Provo are there no more.

This morning the Provo Tabernacle burned. The roof collapsed at about 6:00 am.

Such a magnificent structure! We used to attend stake conference there, and my seminary graduation was there. In fact, one of my most embarassing moments EVER happened during my seminary graduation.
Back when I graduated from seminary, the entire seminary graduated in the same ceremony. (Apparently stakes in the Salt Lake Valley hold individual graduations for seminary seniors now - is that how it is everywhere?) There were probably about 250 of us graduating. Graduates were presented alphabetically by stake and by ward. My stake was the very last stake, and my ward was the last ward. I was the only graduate from my ward, so that made me the very last graduate. I was wearing a navy blue dress with a cinched waist and large white polka dots (very Princess Di).

The tabernacle had stairs leading up to the pulpit, and we had to climb those stairs, walk across the stand, and then walk down the other side. Our stake president and bishop were supposed to be standing on the downward side, but I remember my bishop running up the stairs to get to his place. See how there are 3 or 4 steps and then a landing? Well I figured I'd just meet him further down, and in my haste I slipped off a landing and tripped down a few steps. My bishop caught me so I don't remember landing on the floor, but all of that grace I'd built in my mind flew right out the window...
I loved that the mother's lounge had a great big window so that the moms could still see who was speaking. I thought that room was where people took their crying children (I wasn't around many nursing moms).  If I remember correctly it was beneath the balcony on the south side of the structure (that's too the left in the photo above).

The other Provo landmark? His name is Jesse Marrott. In my mind he was the bishop when my dad passed away, but that may not have been the case. Regardless, he was my bishop for a long time. He was also my home teacher, and by the time I was in high school he had been ordained the stake patriarch and gave me my blessing. 

For a long time our bus stop was next to the Marrott's home, and I remember walking up the street, past the orchard, and waiting in line on the sidewalk. Jesse would be outside many mornings in his overalls doing something near his truck (I think it was a Dodge). He'd always smile and wave.

I remember his hands being pudgy and rough, but they had softness in them too. I never once doubted that that man loved me. Maybe that's why I loved him right back.
Tomorrow I'll be attending Jesse's funeral, which is being held in the church house that was built in that orchard. The church was built after I left home, but there are so many people who still live in that nieghborhood that I'm fond of. Can't think of a better place to spend a few hours remembering an incredible man.


Are We There Yet?

So - have you reached the point that you realize that if you don't get everything done, the holiday will still happen without it all?

I'm quickly arriving. Just this morning I realized that the big day is two weeks away, and my village still isn't up. My very favorite nativity is still boxed up on the floor in front of the dry sink where I love to set it up most years. You know what? I just may not mess with it.

All 3 trees are out. The garland and wreaths are in place. There are already 5 nativities in my front room. Does it really need more?

I think it might be all right if the china cabinet that I bought specifically to display my village sits empty until 2011. (I took out all the usual display stuff when I boxed up Thanksgiving decor).

I have all of the components of my Christmas cards ready to go, but the surge to get them put together just isn't happening.

I also realized that all of the adorable items I was going to assemble for gifts for my book club are still unassembled. Nice. Book club meets in 39 minutes. Dang.

But really? I'm so ready to just sit back and watch holiday movies, drive around looking at holiday lights, and drink hot cocoa with my guys. I may still find it in me to make some toffee and peanut brittle. Oh and some Mexican wedding cookies (aka Russian tea cakes) and cinnamon rolls - got a couple of weeks to fit all that in.

Yep - I'm thinking I'm ready to just ssssssssssssllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllooooooooowwwwwwwww down. A couple of really cool quilt books showed up in my "hold" cache at the library yesterday. They're about modern quilts, which is something I haven't bought into until recently. So I'm very anxious to look through those books.




Have you seen all the hubbub about advent calendars in the blogosphere? Well,  I'm adding my own to that.

Last night while reading bedtime stories to Griff he asked about our Advent calendar. He wanted to know why we added an ornament to the tree every night. How does that help count down to Christmas? Seriously, dear reader. He has a point. No worries though. He made a paper chain at school and will be removing a link every day. Oh the anticipation!

Boy oh boy did I go overboard on my advent a few years ago - not the number of calendars but the type of things I stuffed in the drawers. Took me a couple month's worth of planning and I ended up hating it and not putting it out the next year.

My boys noticed. OH MAN DID THEY NOTICE, and I had to make some changes to my advent philosophy.
Let's back up a bit. I have a chest advent. It has doors that swing open to reveal 24 drawers of varying sizes. My SIL, Chris, gave this to me one year when she & Mike had me & Jon. As if the chest wasn't a gift in itself, they filled the drawers with miscellaneous items such as candy, small additions to my Christmas Village (I still include that tricycle every year), and numbers that corresponded to larger packages in a separate box. Some of the larger gifts included cake mix, frosting and candles (Jon's b-day is in December), a 12x12 paper keeper, movie passes, a duck call etc. They completely spoiled us!
I wanted to continue this fine feature, but it stressed me out more than any other part of my holiday festivities. So after not getting it out that one year, I picked up a set of small ornaments at Big Lots and placed one in each drawer. The boys get to put an ornament on a small tree every day.
Last year we figured out that the location of the chest was not good for anxious little boys who pull it over and drop all the drawers on the floor, shattering those ornaments on the tile. But don't worry - it was just what we needed to help us all jump out of bed that morning... So - I've picked up some even cheaper ornaments from Dollar Tree (not a glass one in the bunch!).
The advent chest and tree weren't out when the boys left for school this morning, but guess what they're coming home to this afternoon!
I just discovered another reason that I <3 <3 <3 quilting.... See how that shelf is kind of bowed under the weight of the chest? Well, I took the shelf out and couldn't open the doors because of the lip at the bottom of the bookshelf. So I grabbed one of those small phone books that show up on my front step every other month or so (I have a stack of them in my hall closet because they come in handy for cases such as this), topped it with a fabric scrap (I'm SO in love with the project that it's a scrap from) and oila!

Much better. It looks cozier. I didn't think that fabric was Christmasy - more Indian blanketish. But it's perfect!



A Tree Here... A Tree There...

That last post had me thinking about all of the decorating I get to do in the next week or so. I don't always like the decorating process, but I <3 how it looks when it's done.

Today I'm going to talk about the Christmas tree. I do 3 trees (I used to think that was SO overkill, but now I LOVE it!).

One of them is a nativity tree. It's in the front room - or as my friend, B, called it last weekend - the "Grown-Up Room". All of the ornaments have something to do with the nativity. I try to add one to it each year. It makes me very upset how many retailers do not carry nativity ornaments. Last year I couldn't find a single one at Shopko. This year I've looked at Shopko, Smith's Marketplace, and Target. Guess what? NO NATIVITY!!! Shame on you retailers! It's a good thing that I have another trick up my sleeve... This tree has white lights, champagne-colored balls, and strings of pearls. It's where my newly completed tree skirt will be residing from this year forward.

The tree in the kitchen has my collection of Hallmark Nostalgic Houses and Shops. I stopped collecting these a couple of years ago because I have every single ornament and most of the special edition ornaments for the first 25 years of the series. I love the detail on these, but come on! There's only so much commitment I can give to tree decorations... This tree is one of those alpine trees that is prelit. Jon and I have found that it's fairly easy to leave all of the ornaments on this every year, wrap it in tall plastic bags, and carefully carry it to the basement. It's one of the first things I get out each year because it's so easy to just plug it in and have the instant gratification of one of my trees being finished.

The year we moved into our house I was anti-Christmas decor (we moved in the first weekend in December). My mother took pity on her grandsons and brought us the alpine tree. I don't think I've told her how grateful I am that she did that - I really would have gone without, but it's not always about just me...

The third tree is down in the family room - AKA the pit. It's a tree that has all of my annual ornaments (at least the ones before I started the Nostalgic Houses), the ornaments that the boys and Jon get each year, and the ornaments that the boys make. If we get a real tree, this is where it goes. If we borrow one from Jon's parents (like we did in this photo), then it fills the space. (One of these years I'm going to let go of the guilt and just get over feeling that I need to have a real tree. I think it will be much simpler). Anyway - the pit tree gets colored lights. Jon does the lights and then the boys hang the ornaments. I don't even intervene with the ornament hanging process. I just turn on the music, cook dinner, and watch them all at work. The pit tree is the one where Santa leaves the goods.

So - Do you have a real tree or a fake one? Do you have more than one? Where are they and how do you decorate them?


How Do You Wrap?

Miranda asked a question about what my wrapping will look like this year (OK she didn't specifically as ME, but play along...), and I started to leave the following as a comment response. It was getting a bit verbose, so I decided to turn it into a post of my own...

My mother's wrapping made Christmas morning look like a scene right out of The Nutcracker. Her bows are BEAUTIFUL!!! She says the trick is using solid color wrapping paper, and she's right. Everything goes better when you use solid colors.

I used to try to duplicate, but then I had boy children and a hubby who grew up with presents wrapped in that green and white stiped dot matrix printer paper (his dad worked for IBM).

One year I wrapped everything in brown paper and tied it all up with rafia... That was our last Christmas in Logan, and I also madeour tree ornaments out of cinnamon sticks, dried oranges, and jute. My tree skirt was a couple of yards of burlap. It was very pretty, but Jon said he was going to take the tree to the elk refuge when we were finished. Did not go well from there.

Now each boy has his own color of wrapping paper. That way I don't have to put tags on anything. They get a gift with their stockings that tells them what their wrap is, and the chaos ensues.

Sometimes I'll fancy wrap stuff that's going to folks outside of my house. Depends how early I get it wrapped and who it's going to. There is just something about an incredibly wrapped package that makes me happy to give the gift.



Hey all - there's a give-a-way happening over at Narrating Life. Guess who's wares are being given...

While you're there, take a minute to peruse. I'm sure you'll find some inspiration. I do. All. The. Time.


Craving Cozy

Evan, Griffin and I were at a local thrift store looking for bundt pans and books on Friday evening. No bundt pans, but I scored in the book dept... They also had the PERFECT reading chair-and-a-half! It was missing the back pillow, and it's in desperate need of TLC and reupholstering, but it was only $15!!! I can't get the silly thing off my mind.

I have a corner in my bedroom that's calling out to be reading nook. I have this unused bay window space that needs some attention. I'd recover that chair, make some pillows out of left over fabric from recovering my cedar chest cushion and my bedspread, refurbish a funky lamp, repaint and relocate a small end table from my computer room (doesn't see much guest use anyway) and Oila!

Can't you just see it?! Go ahead. Imagine with me...

Abigail Aherns living room reading corner eclectic living room
I know that ottoman would DRIVE ME CRAZY, but there's something about it that I love.

I love this green table!

Now if I could only get the chair in the back of the Yukon and hide it somewhere so that I can get to it after Christmas without Jon pontificating about another undone project...


Do You Know Someone on this Ship?

I do!

Our friends, the Tiptons, left Sunday to enjoy a week on board a Mexican Cruise. I have a feeling that they are not enjoying themselves very much right now.

Mr. Mouse - I will take you any day over being stranded at sea with thousands of strangers, 3 cooped up-uncomfortable children, and a stressed out spouse...

Wishing there was a window into the wall...

Dear little mouse that I can hear scratching inside the wall in front of me - please just go away until Jon can get you some delightful Decon. You can eat all you want and then you won't have to tunnel through the walls to find a warm spot. You'll get to be warm all the time. And I can get some work done without feeling like I'm going to kick a whole in the wall.

Because while it really bothers me to hear you, it would bother me even more to see you.

Oh - and please stay out of the dog food in the garage. It really freaks Evan out when he has to feed the dogs.


Thoughts for a Blah Monday

Anyone out there know whether there's a pattern for creating a Wordle cross-stitch?

The recycle company missed picking up my neighbor's recycle can last Thursday. They're out there right now emptying it. Something didn't make it in the truck, and the driver hopped out to pick it up. It's raining and 34 degrees, and he's wearing shorts and a t-shirt! Guess he didn't pay attention to the forecast...

I was completely quilt productive this weekend. I finished 1 quilt (sandwiched, tied, and bound), pieced the top and sandwiched another, pieced a table runner and a square with the last of the fabric from the 2nd quilt and table runner.

My SIL asked me where I find quilt patterns. I told her that I typically wake up with one on my mind. Other times they appear in doodles while I'm on conference calls. Most of the time though, they end up being drawn in the fogged shower glass while I'm just standing under the warm streams of water. Jon's going to love it when he hears that. 

Funny thing is that Griff must pay attention to what the shower stall looks like when he comes to sit in the warm, humidified bathroom once I'm all dried, lotioned, and dressed. I noticed that he's been drawing patterns on the shower glass too. I love that boy.

Evan asked me if I'd take him to the symphony. He said he only gets to go on field trips, and he would like to go another time. I love that boy.

Carson smiled at me from the bottom of the stairs when I walked out into the hall to mumble good bye to him this morning. I wish I'd hugged him. I'll do it as soon as he gets home today. I love that boy.

Jon and I enjoy sleeping under our down comforter with a window open. I didn't love the down comforter when we first go it, but Jon was persistent in asking when we could put it on the bed. Now I'm anxious for nights to get cold enough for it - heck I'll even put it on when it's not cool enough and just cover one leg. Jon wraps up in it with his - wait for it - seven pillows (seriously - 7 - I just went and counted). Guess what - I love that boy.

Happy Rainy, Cold Monday.


9 Degree Tree Skirt

Seriously - WHAT AM I THINKING?! Smack in the middle of That Girl's Quilt Along I've suddenly got it in my brain that this is the year to make my own tree skirt. I have to say that I think I'm crazy, but I think this is going to be fabulous! 

It's got a little more white than I imagined, and there sure isn't very much green...

I've got it sandwiched and pinned and ready to quilt. I'm thinking a stipple pattern. Maybe a meandering loop.

Oh the possibilities!

November 3
Hah! I finished it last night - except I forgot to stitch on ties. I'll post a photo of the finished project as soon as I locate that sneaky battery charger and the camera batteries are working again.

Decided to enter it in the Blogger's Quilt Festival. If you're stopping by from the festival - Hello!

So - here's what I learned while doing this tree skirt:
  • I could have and should have done this much sooner than I did
  • When you have the tools, it's much easier (holy 9 degree ruler! what have I done without you?!)
  • Even my boys are interested in what I'm doing when they hear "CHRISTMAS!"
  • I really had to pay attention to catch all of those corners
  • I need to remind myself that busy patterns don't always work well in small doses
The story of this quilted tree skirt is:

Last year I was making that pizza table topper for my MIL for Christmas (still one of my favorites - ever!), and I decided that there had to be an easier way to make a round table topper. I googled and googled and found Jen. By blog stalking I found out the name of the town where Jen lives. It's a town of about 35-40,000 people. Not small but not huge.

I also enjoy doing family history research, and a few months ago I stumbled across a line of ancestors whose names had been submitted by a woman who lives in the same town as Jen. How funny is that? Reinforces what a small world we live in and that when we're all nice to each other it's a much more enjoyable place to be.

Anyway - Jen was my inspiration, and now that I've finished one tree skirt, I'm thinking I'd like to do a quilt made from some of her quilts on barns series.


No really - Biblical significance

I've been struggling with motivation lately, and it's been catching up with me. I know I need to do better, but I just haven't made myself do it.

Today I had one of those a-ha moments during church. Someone said
When much is given much is expected
My world stopped for a moment.

I'm sure you've all heard it as many times as I have. You can find the passage both in Luke 12:48 and D&C 82:3:
For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required.
I have an incredible employer. My work place has its own set of office politics, and I don't necessarily "fit in" with most of the people in my work group, but the company itself really is a great one.

My 10th anniversary with CH2M HILL was in September. When I started there in September 2000, I had been working for another environmental consultant and I was able to reduce my work week to 3 days, increase my pay rate by 26% AND work 20 hours per week and while still receiving insurance benefits (it does cost more than if you work full time, but it's still a great thing!)

My workload has varied over these past 10 years, and I'm currently doing things that I absolutely love doing. I'm working from home most of the time, and I've met and worked with people from all over the country. I get to be at home when my boys walk out the door for school in the morning. Most days I'm here when they return. I get to volunteer at school, attend school events, pick my boys up when they need me, and most of all I really get to be HERE where I want to be.

I didn't get to this point all on my own. Sitting there today in church I got it. I've been given much, and I need to act accordingly.



Is That Legal?

I've been trying to jazz up our menu lately, and I thought I had a fabulous idea for this evening's dinner. Years ago I remember having cinnamon roll french toast at some random breakfast place. It was divine. Haven't had anything like that since, and I wanted to make something similar for my guys tonight.

I swung into Dunford Bakers to pick up apple fritters. They didn't have any today, so I got the last 3 cherry fritters and a few pershings.

Dunford Bakers Pershing
I cut these bad boys in half (think glazed hamburger bun), dipped the halves in the egg mix, and grilled them up.

I also made some divine buttermilk syrup (see recipe below) and we sat down to eat.

Evan had taken a couple of bites, and he said
Mom? How many calories do you think are in this?!
You know it's bad when your children are concerned about their caloric intake. Good news is that no one (including me) could eat more than one slice. That was one rich, delectable mouth full!

Griffin concluded our dinner conversation with
Mom? Do they let you feed your kids stuff like this? Can they take you to prison for feeding us doughnuts for dinner?
And for your viewing pleasure... Here is the nutritional information on the pershings.

Buttermilk Syrup
1 1/2 c sugar
3/4 c buttermilk
1/2 c butter
2 T corn syrup
1 t baking soda
2 T vanilla

Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a pan. Bring to a boil. Cook for 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.

Oh YUM!!!

That Girl's Quilt Along

Because I just don't have enough to fill my day, I've decided to join a Quilt Along. The directions were to use one charm pack (Martinique), one coordinating solid, and one neutral solid. So - this is what I went with:
That Girl---That Quilt - Quilt Along Week 1


Adventure Follow-Up

I called and cancelled my Bromacleans subscription.
Never went to whatever website they were promoting, but I cancelled my acess to that too.
Got my 10-day Bromacleans sample, but am completely afraid of using any of it. I don't know what it's supposed to do or what's in it. Apparently it's a 3 pill a day deal, and I really dislike those.
Never got the $100 Walmart Gift Card.
Got to teach my boys what a scam smells like.


It's All About the Adventure - Right?

A couple of nights ago Carson got a text saying that he'd won a $100 Walmart gift card for visiting a website. We called the number provided and were told that we would receive a 10-day free sample of BromaCleanse - some kind of weight loss stuff (and isn't that the least informative website? What is the stuff? What's in it? What does it do? Do you see any links?). AND we'd receive the $100 Walmart card after calling a 1-866 number the following morning to confirm that we'd talked to Harry Hernandez.

Now here's the deal. Harry Hernandez spoke of two separate products. One that's $29.95 per month - I think that one is for website access. The other was $79.95 and is for a 30-day supply of BromaCleanse. Both would be automatically charged to my account (isn't that convenient) unless I called to cancel my subscription. Huh.

I was told that we'd be charged $3.34 for shipping and handling and that I needed to call the 1-866 number the following morning because not very many people actually won the gift card. We went ahead with the order - any $100 before Christmas is great - right?.

I had a gift card with about 4 bucks and change still on it. Hello - I'm not completely naive.

So - now I just need to call another 1-866 number within 10 days to cancel my subscription if I'm not completely satisfied. Now here are my questions:
  1. 10 days from when? The day we made the call? The day they shipped the product? The day we received the product? The day we actually took the product - which I'm thinking may be some kind of diarhea inducing pill, and who would really want that?
  2. Are those 10 days calendar days or business days?
  3. What are the two separate charges? Do I need website access? I don't think I'm going to be going to your website to figure out why I can't get away from my porcelain goddess for more than 10 minutes at a time - I'm fairly sure I'd quit taking the product and then head to my nearest ER if that didn't fix things.
  4. Why did the $3.34 show up in two separate charges? I've got one for $1.56 to DETXHLTH in Salt Lake City and one for $1.78 to CLEANDIET in Riverton.
I'm supposed to get my 10-day sample in 5-7 business days. The gift card is supposed to show up in 3-5 business days. Will they figure out that they can't charge additional $ to that gift card, or have they figured that out already and I'm wasting time trying to figure out if I can get around the scam?


Now Haunting Etsy

I finally did it! I've opened an Etsy shop. You can visit me here.


What if...

The last time I posted was September 25, which would have been my dad's 65th birthday; BUT today is October 4, and it's been 34 years since he died. That's a lot of time.

I've been feeling a bit of competition for Jon's time lately because I love to talk to the man, but so do his sons. I love to hear him tell me that I need to chill out. I love to gross out our boys by kissing in the kitchen. I love to joke around with him. I love having inside secrets. I love to watch him stop what he's doing and make sure that whichever niece is in the room knows that she is his most favorite.

I know that my dad loved to spend time with me. I know that he had a sense of humor. I remember one night when he got home from work a little bit late. I remember hanging on his arm while his hand was in his coat pocket and reaching into the pocket to pull out what he said he got for me. It was a piece of paper. Turns out that it was a speeding ticket, and he told me he got it so that I'd know what one looked like.

My dad died the Monday after General Conference, and my mom said that he decided to stay home from church with me & Cory that last Sunday. I guess that they didn't watch conference on TV or listen to it on the radio then. I don't have any idea what we did that day, but I like to think that he went to sleep content following his last day on earth.

There are a lot of things that would have been different for me if he'd been around. I have to wonder
  • Would I have been nearly as boy insane (that's right, not just boy crazy) if he'd been here?
  • Was I just seeking male attention?
  • Would I know more about cars and what makes them hum?
  • Would I have shot a gun other than at the birds eating my grandma's raspberries?
  • How often would I talk to him on the phone?
  • Would I know his LDS conversion story?
  • What would he have been like as a grandpa?
  • Where would we have lived?
  • Would I still have gone to Utah State and met and married Jon?
  • Would he have put Jon through the wringer?
  • Would I have been better at basketball because he practiced with me?
I am blessed with an incredible father-in-law and stepdad. Both of these men have taught me many things. I'm grateful for the relationship I have with both of them, for the understanding they offer and for the pearls of wisdom even when I think I don't need it. I'm grateful for the experiences they give me. I'm humbled by the times they do little things that only matter to me.

So - I guess tonight I'm meandering between pity party and gratitude. Kind of a somber place to be.


Brewing Napalm

Last year for Christmas my friend, April, sent me a jar of habanero jelly. Boy were my taste buds in for an awakening! I'd never had it before, and April said that I only needed to use a little bit on a cracker covered with cream cheese. I took this to our New Year's Eve fete, and it about knocked my socks off. When April said little, she meant littleOnce we got the hang of it, our one jar didn't last very long.

I'm such a chicken when it comes to heat that I really hadn't planned on falling in love with this concoction, but I've had this stuff on my mind for many months. So - while preparing or fall food preservation, I decided to make some of my own. I couldn't get a hold of April at first, so I used a recipe I found online for Napalm Jelly. There is another recipe, which is very similar to the recipe April uses. This morning I made 2 more batches. Today's batches were my last attempt at making this delectable stuff. I've done 4 other batches, and there's little to nil heat. I apologize for the science project format of this post, but I think i just did my own little project. Go figure.

Just in case you're wondering, one batch only does about 7 half pint jars - so it's not a HUGE storage commitment.

1 1/2 c Vinegar
Green or red bell peppers (April's recipe calls for 3; Napalm recipe only has 1)
Jalapenos or Habaneros (April's = 12; Napalm = 2) - both say to remove stems, seeds & membranes
Sugar (April's = 7 cup; Napalm = 6 cup)
Liquid pectin (April's = 9 oz; Napalm = 3 oz; Surejell = 6 oz)
Non-Corrosive pan
Cheesecloth (April's you pour through into a 2nd non-corrosive pan; Napalm = no cheesecloth)
Jars, Lids & Bands

Experiment 1: Jalapenos + green bell peppers
Used the Napalm Jelly recipe I found online. Only have to boil for one minute, add pectin, and boil for one more minute. This recipe didn't tell me to pour it through cheese cloth, so the jelly is very opaque. Not much light shining through the jar... Only used one 3 oz liquid pectin. This one had nothing in the heat arena. Set just fine. Labeled it Sweet Pepper Jelly.

Experiment 2: Half jalapeno/half habanero + green bell peppers
Used Napalm Jelly recipe. April said she strained hers through a cheesecloth, so I did this. I like the translucency after this sets. Used one 3 oz liquid pectin. Set just fine. This batch helped me figure out that I like the flavor of habanero better - it's a little smoky, but it still didn't cut it heatwise. Labeled this Not So Napalm.

Experiment 3: Habanero + red
Used April's recipe for Habanero Jelly. I <3 <3 <3 the way this looks and the way it set. It cleared my sinus right out while it was boiling, so I was so excited about it. I doubled the ingredients (so it counts as 2 batches, right?), so there is lots of sweet goodness to go around. You boil this one for 20 minutes before adding the sugar. April said this calls for 9 oz of  pectin, but that set too firm for me. Guess what? Not so hot... Yummy yes, scorching no. Labeled this one Not So Hab.

Experiment 4: Jalapeno/Habanero + red
I used 3 red bells, 4 jalapenos (stemmed and seeded), and 4 habaneros. I stemmed and seeded 3 of the habaneros - one of them I just removed the stem and tossed it in whole. This one confirmed that I like the color using red bells. I happened to look at the menus included in the pectin box, and their jalapeno jelly calls for 2 3-oz pectins. I boiled for 10 minutes, added the 2nd pectin, and boiled for one more minute. I don't think I had the jars hot enough, and I forgot to boil the lids so that the glue would soften. I'm a little nervous about the seal on this batch. I'm also getting anxious because this is not setting. I don't know if I let some of the pulp slip out of the cheese cloth or if jalapenos just make the difference in color, but this is a bit redder than before. Currently nameless orange jelly

Experiment 5: Jalapeno/Hab + green
Today's 2nd batch. Until now I still haven't gotten to April's heat, so I decided to just go for it with this one. I used 3 green bells, 2 jalapenos (stemmed and seeded), and 6 habaneros. I left the seeds in 4 of the habaneros. Boiled for 10 minutes, added 2nd pectin and boiled for one more minute - then I strained through the cheesecloth and boiled the juice for one more minute. I tried a bit of the spillage after I had ladled this batch into the jars. I didn't get the punch of burn, but my mouth was warm for quite a while afterward. Same with this batch on the setting - it's not jelling. Getting anxious...  Currently nameless green jelly

So here's what I have to wonder:
  1. Why are you supposed to use more pectin for this type of jelly than other fruit jellies?
  2. Does boiling for 20 minutes extract more of the heat from the jalapenos and habaneros?
  3. Would I be OK with the heat from long-boiled jalapeno or do I crave the flavor and a little bit of heat from the habanero?
  4. Do I <3 this jelly enough to start planting my own habanero plants each spring?
  5. Does the 1 cup sugar difference (7 in April's, 6 in Napalm) matter when we're basically talking one cup per half-pint jar?
  6. Was my pectin expired?
  7. How do I decide which jars to keep for us and which to share?
My SIL, Shaunna, used Not So Napalm (because I did share a jar of that with her) to make Monte Cristo sandwiches (except they used fried egg on the sandwich instead of coating the sandwich French-toast-style and cooking both sides of the sandwich). I'm thinking that would be an excellent use of this jelly.


Drop Kicked to the Wolves

Last night I got a phone call from the Utah Democratic party regarding the environmental practices of the Republican party in the state. The caller read from a script about missile testing in the west desert and power plant development in pristine wilderness. I don't know how long he pontificated (probably less than one minute), but that was enough.

I stopped him and informed him that I'm an environmental engineer who works on permitting projects in every arena that he had just discussed. I went on to say that for the good of my own personal financial livelihood, I was inclined to side with the Republicans on environmental practices within the state of Utah.

I'm fairly certain that my response was not on his list of "here's what to say when the public says this..." I was granted moments of silence. In fact if it hadn't been for the murmurings of other callers in the background I'm fairly certain I would have heard those darn crickets. He eventually thanked me for my time and ended the call.

I hung up the phone and tried to decide if I had ever or would ever have a strong enough political conviction that I would interrupt the public's evening with such a phone call. I still don't know what the real purpose for the call was (although I suspect it was a fundraising effort), but decided that I regularly back away from confrontation and would not be able to do it.

Then I thought about a lunch conversation this week with a coworker and a client. We were discussing the merits (or lack thereof) of wolf hunting. Again, I did not dive in and express a firm opinion. What if I had to back it up? What if I had to explain? Do I really have a preference on this topic? I definitely do - it's just that I prefer to keep that opinion to myself. I'm pretty friendly with this coworker and client, and I still was not comfortable confidently discussing the topic.

So - I'm sitting here on a lovely Saturday morning thinking about my lack of backbone. Is the issue that I don't have an opinion, that I'm afraid of conflict, or that I'm uninformed? I do a lot of reading, but do I need to read more about such topics and solidify my point of view?

I think I just like living in my little bubble where everyone inside this solitary shelter holds my same beliefs. I don't have to disagree or be uncomfortable if no one gets to share opinions other than my own. But then I just put this on a public blog, and I'm sure there are people out there who would slaughter what I've written.

I did it to myself - I broke my bubble for a moment, and I'm curious if anything's going to happen...


I Smell Trouble

Griffin is the oldest of a group of 6 boy cousins that were all born within 9 months of each other. We call this group the Sinister 6. When they all get together we try to get photos of them. Not always an easy task. Here's this year's version...

No really...


Bake at 350

Bam! One day of pleasant 70 degree weather, and I've got thoughts of fall decor, harvest baking, and food preservation in my head.

After the boys left this morning I swept the front porch, rearranged the trunk and flowers and imagined the mums that I'm hoping to use again this year. Griff is already talking about Halloween, but that's the next step.

I think I'm ready to do peaches. I can feel that macintosh apple fixation coming on (looking forward to apple sauce and more apple pie filling!). My cousin posted a pesto recipe today that has my mouth watering. Funny that she should mention gnocchi in her post - I've got some waiting for me to whip up some bolognaise - a good recipe for which confounds me. Do you think gnocchi would work as dumplings for a thick, beef stew? I'm salivating over hot pepper jelly with cream cheese on triscuits. I'm just waiting for April to send me the hot pepper jelly recipe...

So - all I need is a day off, some cooler weather so I can heat up my kitchen, unoccupied counter space, clean pans and canning supplies and the peppers, peaches and apples to preserve. Hmmm...


Dating Advice for Preteen Boys

Here's the deal. My dear Evan would absolutely dig a hole and crawl into it for the remainder of his days if he knew I'd posted this, but HELLO I'm a mom and a blogger. I can't make this stuff up, and it must be shared.

So Evan has captured the heart of one of his classmates. He's had her heart since 3rd grade, but really who's counting. Anyway. This year the girl has found herself, and she knows that Evan is what she wants. Please note that they've only been in school for one week - AND - his devotion has never wavered. Evan accepts things as they are, and this thing just was. In his world she and he are and would always be...

Last year they weren't in the same class, but the spark was still there. I guess she needed reaffirmation of his devotion, and she's had the gusto to extract him from his posse during recess to draw the line. My poor boy is clueless in the love department (and I hope he remains so for the next 10 or so years), and he had to ask his resident expert (me!) what most of it meant.
Are you still into me?
Can I call you after school? I think we should discuss this without anyone else around.
Unh. We're through!
This was at 3 separate recesses all on the same day. My poor Evan came home from school and wanted to transfer classes. He was baffled!  With the "into me" comment, he squeezed her shoulder and told her she was a really good friend. She responded by huffing off and stomping across the playground. He guessed correctly that he had not given her the answer she wanted. But to Evan's credit - he wanted to know how he could have responded any differently.
Because if I was "into her" what would we do about it? WE'RE IN 5TH GRADE!!!
He didn't get the "we're through!" and I explained that he'd been dumped. His response?
Shouldn't I be sad?
I told him that if he wasn't then it was OK. He was very nervous about going to school the next day - apparently rightly so. She apparently wasn't serious about breaking things off and spent her after school hours writing him a love song (on the piano!). Words cannot explain his exasperated expression when he came in the door and held the crumpled note up in the air and asked his brothers to leave the room.

Later I told him to tell her that he just wanted to be her friend, but his dad overheard me.

So now I give you dating advice according to Jon Hill. (As shared with me by Evan's older brother - this occurred while dove hunting - a trip attended by Evan, Carson, Jon, and 3 of  Jon's brothers - do you see where this is headed?)

According to Jon, telling a girl that you just want to be her friend is the worst possible thing you can say. This is the part that really gets me. Then Jon referenced The Simpsons (Season 4, Episode 8 to be exact) where Bart has a crush on his older next door neighbor, who trance-literally rips his heart out, throws it against a wall, and watches it drop into the trash, when she tells Bart that she has a boyfriend. I was choking too hard to hear what Jon's advice for fixing the situation is, but I'm sure that all that testosterone offered something...

We all are fond of this girl at our house. She's adorable, and I'm in love with her for identifying Evan as the target of her affections so early. I always have thought that Evan would be the boy who would find one girl and stick with her (he's just that loyal) - I just didn't think it would happen before he was 10. She's just got to realize that she is pouring it on a little thick - you just need to take it as it is with Evan. He'll eventually catch on and react appropriately. It just has to be on his time - and he's not one for pressure so you may be in for the long haul. Be patient - he's so worth it.


The Happy Door

Do you have one of these?

I know I haven't gone very far in the post, but I need to back up and start over.

I love my house - inside and out. I've talked a bit about indoor features, but I'm not so good about singing the praises of the outdoor spaces.

I don't love the weeds that overwhelm my yard, but that's something that in a good year I could fix. I love the mint that grows under the maple that Jon planted. I love the rocks that have been transplanted both from my back yard and from Michelle's yard. I love the daisies that came from Aimee's house. I love the lily and Russian Sage from Elaine. I love Griffin's strawberry patch that he lovingly weeds and waters.

There are just some characters in need of pruning. The burning bush (which is Jon's favorite) is taller than me. The Rose of Sharon and other beast on the corner? Those things are OUT OF CONTROL. I seriously think they're over 12 feet tall. They scratch on the house when the wind blows and that drives me CrAzY !!! I used to try to prune the corner shrubs/bushes, but they grow too much in one season and Jon attacks them with the trimmer - not even worrying about my angled cuts. So each spring there are lots of dead ends that result from his straight, ill-placed cuts. When they grow as fast and the thorns get as large as these do - Oh Well!

We've installed new light fixtures on the garage. I have my hanging basket on the porch. Jon's working on repairing the porch railing - while I'm dreaming of new, wider, angled steps that fan into the yard. A couple of years ago Jon painted our garage doors. I love that they aren't white, but they are taupe. It's a nice color, but there just isn't any punch.

Our front door was painted in Smokehouse (SW7040 - see swatch at right - if your monitor even does it justice - looks REALLY gray on mine). It was SUCH an improvement over the tired, sun bleached blue that was there before, but I have already grown tired of the monotone facade. So I got out my paint deck and started looking for color. I found one that immediately made me smile.

It's a close cousin for the shades of geraniums in my porch baskets. It's a shade that's going to liven up my winter. It's named for one of my favorite flowers - which does not currently reside in my yard... You ready?
Here she is: Coral Bells (SW6593)...

This photo shows Smokehouse (which is still the color of the trim) and our Coral Bells door.

My dear Jon said that it's a slap-your-face-pink, and I adore it. Know what else I adore? The names of the other colors on the strip -

Alyssum, Loveable, Amaryllis, Grenadine, Poinsettia.

Jon said I could keep Coral until after Christmas and then he'd need to change it. I'm thinking Poinsettia may be in order.

But for now Coral Bells makes me smile, and I think she says

Come on in!

Please do!



Yesterday was the first day of school at my house. This morning I'm thinking that I should be elated that the house is all mine - no one is here.

Instead I'm online in blogland reading an alarming number of posts that describe a situation that is so similar to mine. There isn't a single bed made, stuff piled in every single room, bathrooms in need of serious attention, and I just want to curl up in a ball and pull the covers over my head. I find myself angry - that's right absolutely angry - that the boys aren't cleaning up after themselves, but I have no motivation to do anything about it myself either.

I'm mad that Jon wants to go to sleep before 11:00, but I'm also mad if he stays downstairs and watches TV until after I've gone to sleep. The guy must be walking on egg shells trying to figure out what to do with me, and I have no idea what to tell him.

And it's supposed to rain today.

Really isn't looking good for me. Perhaps a walk on the treadmill would help - except I've already showered. Wouldn't want to have to do that twice...


Jeff - Take Two

Jeffrey Roy Hasara was the first addition to the extended Hill family following me & Jon's July 1993 wedding. So - whether Jeff knew it or not, I always had a soft spot for him.

Jeff was born November 24, 1993 in Okinawa, Japan while the family was stationed there with the US Air Force (my BIL, Mark, flew tankers - KC-135s). I don't know how old Jeff was when I first met him, but I remember walking up the stairs into the kitchen at Mom & Dad's house and having Jeff's older sister, Rachel, jump into my arms yelling, "Aunt Staci!" That was awesome - and an incredible way to be welcomed - and from what I've come to love about Rachel, not completely typical behavior.

Jeff got to come stay for extended visits at Grandma & Grandpa Hill's house fairly often. (The majority of the Hasara family actually came for these visits, but this post is about Jeff.) Hill family summer fun typically involved this boy. This photo shows the beginning of Moon Lake memories when Carson was my only boy. Jeff is sitting on the fence next to Carson.

My boys learned so many things from Jeff (the least of which was tantrum throwing - don't really want to dwell on that, but Jeff was a master at expressing irritation when he was younger...).  

  • Jeff was good about including my boys - making them feel accepted even though they were younger than him. He made a point to single each of them out to say hello, give a hug, or high five.

  • As he got older he encouraged them to listen to me and to do nice things for me.

  • He was a game player - board, card, computer, outdoor etc. My SIL, Shauna, and I got to play Ticket to Ride with him this summer - just the 3 of us. What 16 year old boy plays a board game with 2 aunts? I sure hope mine will.

  • He was a good brother. He was particularly close to his brother, Ryan, but he loved his brothers, John and Travis. My boys often talk about how their cousins interact with each other-they definitely pay attention.

  • He knew that when the entire family left him at that gas station in Evanston Wyoming 8 years ago that he just needed to pray, and we'd be back. He demonstrated that praying was a necessity.

  • He was hopeful. When Jeff was diagnosed last summer, he was ever optimistic about being healed.

  • He honored his priesthood, trusted Heavenly Father, actively strengthened his testimony, and encouraged my boys to do the same.
We were blessed to have Jeff in our family these few years. I'm grateful that I can call him mine.


Fair Fare

When I was growing up, my mom always made a big deal about being in Burley for Fair Weekend. We'd go into town to watch my cousin, Miranda, primp her 4H steer (with glitter on the tail folks! Have you seen what cows do with their tales?! I have! And let me tell you that sparkled tails don't look any prettier than a regular tail does when it's got poop on it), and then walk it through the ring at the auction.

We'd also get to watch the rodeo. I seem to remember watching all sorts of injuries, but those just didn't happen this year. Dang lucky cowboys!

We spent this year's fair weekend in Burley with my grandpa. I always worry about what the boys are going to do to his house, but I think they were OK this time.

It really was a great weekend. We left Friday afternoon and got to stop at Maddox on our way north. If you haven't tried Maddox's fried chicken, I suggest you take a drive and enjoy some of the stuff. That is some good eatin!

Friday night we got to Grandpa's and ran around outside for a while. My boys marvelled at the size of the horse chestnut tree, and I missed the maple. Then we headed over to my Aunt & Uncle's house to let the boys jump on the trampoline and run through the feedlot. What? You've never done that either? Well - that's not necessarily something I'd suggest jumping in your car to go do. There's an odor problem. And sometimes you carry it home with you. Seriously - it seeps into your clothes, and  you're treated to wisps of eau de bovine...

Saturday morning we got up, ate porridge (AKA germade) that Grandpa so kindly makes for us each time we visit (it's one of the things my boys look forward to - I make it at home, but there's just something about Grandpa's porridge...), and we went back to my Aunt & Uncle's house to stress out my cousin Miranda while she prepared for a brunch she was hosting.

We realized that we didn't have jackets for Saturday night's rodeo, so we drove into town to remedy the situation, drove in the face of danger by ignoring road construction signs and turning where we weren't supposed to turn, picked up a couple of hoodies, and shopped the clearance racks and propane supplies at CAL Ranch. Boy were we having a grand time.  No really.

Evan asked if we could go see my grandma's headstone - it was something I wanted to do, but he asked if we could go before I'd even brought it up. I love that kid! So I got to demonstrate my Burley geographical prowess and navigate my guys through Heyburn and across the other bridge across the Snake River (which Carson still doesn't believe is the same Snake River he whitewatered on last summer in Jackson Hole). Spent time looking at headstones and leaving our mark in the cemetery - I want it on record that I disagreed with Jon doing it, but I am curious to see what happens...

Went swimming at the Burley pool where Griff surprised us all by passing the swim test (swimming across the pool and back without touching the bottom and raising your arms out of the water) so that he could jump off the diving board. Go G!

I went back to Grandpa's to shower and visit, and Jon took the boys to ride 4-wheelers at the feed lot. I don't know what happened, but Evan says he'll never ride a 4-wheeler with Carson again. It can't be as bad as watching my brother crash our uncle's 3-wheeler into one of the apple trees in the pasture 20+ years ago...

Finally - took my guys into the fair for dinner and the rodeo. The boys got Falls Brand foot-long hotdogs and Dutch oven ribs. I thought I'd try some taco salad, and was COMPLETELY disappointed. Here's my food tip: if you're at the fair, go with dutch oven or with a burger from one of the church-worked booths. I promise. My poor taco salad was from a lemonade trailer and was basically tossed salad dumped on top of round tortilla chips. Just not what I was looking for.

My boys are not at all familiar with rodeo events, so Miranda's husband, Nate, filled Carson in on the goings on. Griffin worried about the calves during team roping and especially bulldogging (although I've caught him pretending to bulldog since we got back. Scares me a bit).

Sunday morning my Aunt Connie came to visit, and then we drove through the smoke-filled air to our lovely metropolis.

One of those weekends that felt much longer than it really was. Wonderful!


I Think It's the Battery

Things have been pretty somber at our house for the past couple of days. Yesterday Griff threw the mother of all tantrums over a silly sausage biscuit that he couldn't get at McDonalds because they were no longer serving breakfast. Honestly - think chicken nugget woman except in your own home. Wasn't pretty - and wasn't as bad as her.

Shortly before lunch time (a mere one hour later) Griff walked up to me, tapped me on the sore shoulder (that's right - it's still burned...) and said, "Jeff wouldn't want us to sit around at home all day. Jeff got really tired of sitting." I looked at Griff, realized I'd played so much Bejeweled Blitz that I was mentally trying to slide his nose up between his eyes, and decided that he was oh-so-right.

Took a quick shower, got dressed, texted Carson, and we were off!

Or not.

The Yukon would not start. No problemo! Sent Evan back in the house to get the keys to Jon's work van. We're all loaded, sweltering in the heat, and I quickly figure out that even though Jon didn't drive to work, he still managed to take the keys with him. Hunh.

Is there anything worse than being trapped at home? Even when about 20 minutes earlier you would have been content to sit and be a vidiot (it's a term Jon applies to the boys [or me] when we've been in front of a TV, video game, or computer too long).

So - time for my own tantrum - except my neighbors pulled up in their driveway and looked at me funny when I has yelling at Jon. I'm so sorry Jonny! Anyway - I walked back in the house with my head held high - only to discover that I'd left my keys inside and the front door was locked.

Yep - that kind of a day.

Today will be better. Jon charged the battery over night, and guess what didn't work... I've now been instructed on how to start the Yukon with the battery charger and have been directed to drive ONLY to the nearest Sams Club to pick up a new battery. My husband knows me so well. I can indulge in some retail therapy while someone else fixes my car. I love that guy.

Both Jon and the one who will fix my car.

AND I'll get to hear my name over the loud speaker - kind of like being called forward when you win an Oscar. That is pure motivation to get cleaned up and get out of my house today.


Jeffrey Roy Hasara

I got one of those calls that we're never prepared to receive today. My nephew, Jeff, passed away. Not too many details yet. Just lots of emotion.

There are all sorts of thoughts swimming in my mind, and I just can't collect any of them yet.

I know you are in a better place, Jeff, and I know that they love you there just as much as we do here.

I just didn't know how heart broken I'd be when you were gone.


Summer Slump

Do you get into a summer slump? I'm in the middle of one, and the pity party is absolutely raging. I'm even feeling left out that I didn't get to go to girl's camp this year - and I haven't gone to girl's camp since before I was a mom!

Gotta get out of this.

Baby steps.

Set some achievable goals - today that means answer the phone, shower, and make at least one bed. I get to help with Webelos this afternoon, so that will get me out of the house.

Ooo - how about one more goal - post the Hill cousin gift rotation on the family blog. That one I can check off!

I feel much (well maybe just a pinch) better already.


Fried Spam, Cheese and Baloney!!!

My missing oldest child returned from scout camp today. I spent the afternoon hugging the boy and kissing his sweet cheeks. How did I forget how tall he is?

While I was figuring out which questions to ask so that I would receive more than one word answers, I stumbled across this little tidbit:

Me: So - what was your favorite meal?

Him: French Toast and sausage.

insert crickets chirping here

Me: Did you eat anything that you typically wouldn't?(This is based on me knowing that male scout leaders would not cater to the whims of picky eaters)

Him: Um, ya know, fried spam was not as bad as I thought it would be.

insert crickets chirping here - this time from me because I'm completely flummoxed.

They freaking fed my son fried spam!!!

Dear future daughter-in-law - I just want you to know that fried spam has never been something I have prepared for this darling boy to eat. He did that all on his own.


Is a Weed a Weed?

This morning I was reading a blog post about sunflowers because my dear friend, Debbie, has been gone since Friday. She's in Phoenix because her grandson, Kody, was born yesterday. Even though I don't see her every day when she is home, I miss knowing that Debbie is right next door. Debbie LOVES sunflowers.

That post indicates that some sunflowers are weeds. I imagine those are the kind that grow in my back yard. How can something so happy looking be a weed? That led me to thinking about Dalmation Toadflax.

My friend, Jen, recently got married at Red Butte Garden. While I was wandering around, I found a noxious weed display that had samples of each species. There was Dalmation Toadflax. There's a colony of this species that we monitor on one of my work projects. I've never seen it in bloom, so I was completely surprised to find this:

Really?! Something that looks like my beloved snapdragon is a noxious weed?! And then I started thinking, what exactly is a noxious weed? Well, my friends, here is your educational tidbit for today. According to wikipedia:
A noxious weed is an invasive plant species that has been designated by county, state or provincial, or national agricultural authorities that is injurious to agricultural and/or horticultural crops, natural habitats and/or ecosystems, and/or humans or livestock. Most noxious weeds are introduced species (non-native) and have been introduced into an ecosystem by ignorance, mismanagement, or accident. Typically they are plants that grow aggressively, multiply quickly without natural controls (native herbivores, soil chemistry, etc.), and adversely affect native habitats, croplands, and/or are injurious to humans, native fauna, and livestock through contact or ingestion.
Those are some nasty buggers!

But really - suppose I had a hedge of those growing along my fence. Suppose I added sunflowers. Every single hot summer day would be full of minimally watered, golden yellow, blooming smiles! And maybe the glare from my neighbor's white vinyl fence would be tempered and I would avoid a migraine or 7.

I don't have any livestock to worry about (other than my completely intelligent, non-weed eating black lab, Kona) - and if that bulldog next door that bit the nice, young, pretty neighbor girl and left her with an ugly scar on her thigh decided to chomp away to aid his digestive issues, would I really be responsible?

Notice that I didn't mention my own not-so-intelligent, weed eating chocolate lab... I like Hilo, but he is just missing a brick sometimes. He's really good with my boys, and he's stopped chewing on things - except for the cable and the tube between the propane tank and the BBQ grill. Propane doesn't taste good. I keep telling you that! Silly animal...


I Think I Want One

I'm hoping to become a 100% teleworker in the near future, and I'm seriously looking for ways to turn the $ I've been spending on fuel and lunches into weight loss. I saw this this morning and thought that I just may have found my first toy...


Griffin's Sunday Afternoon Question

I'm thinking I may come up with a new feature here on Consider My Monkeys. Something that offers Griffin's inquisitive wisdom.

Yesterday evening we were driving across town to say goodbye to the last of the family visitors. Griffin says,
Mom, are you the kind of mom that has a boy who ran away?
I said that no I am not.
Hunh - so I don't have any missing brothers?


Best Primary Lesson - Ever!

Last Sunday I was asking the boys what they'd learned in church.

I was all sorts of KO'd. I'd given my Relief Society lesson AND I spoke in sacrament meeting. Jon also taught (the deacons - and it was one of those lessons) AND spoke.

It took me a few minutes to catch on to what Griff was saying.

He was all sorts of excited and said:
Mom! We learned about the ten leopards! They tear skin off of people!
I had to stop what I was doing and ask him to repeat himself.

Yep - leopards.

There are 5 6-year-old boys in his class. I can just imagine all of them sitting on the edge of their seats, eyes wide. Griff is ecstatic to go back to class next week.


Creative Capitalism

My nephew Kendan is spending a day or so with us before he returns home to Michigan. The boys have played Risk, Heroscape, and Xbox. They made their own breakfast and pizza roll snack. I contributed the lunch portion of their day. Things started getting a bit rowdy this afternoon, so I sent them all outside.

They asked if they could sell lemonade. We didn't have any, so they mixed up some Kool-Aid. They made signs, got a table and camp stools, and even asked for a tablecloth. I gave them a festive starred & striped one. It's sure to get noticed.

On their way out the door they mentioned that some other neighbors were selling liquid refreshment for $0.50 a cup. My industrious boys decided to underprice them and go for $0.25.

Evan came back a few minutes later to make another sign. Apparently the competition got wise and lowered their price. Forced the Hills to offer the "Most Rock Bottom Price Ever" - $0.10!!!

They'd been gone for about 30 minutes when Griff came walking in the door. He said they hadn't sold anything, and I'm confident that more than his share of the profit resides in that stache on his upper lip or in the confines of his belly.

Now here's the real creativity. Griff starts raiding the first aid box in the kitchen. He exclaims, "YES!!"
and runs toward the front door. He wasn't headed straight out, so I peered down the stairs to see what was going on. He was wrapping his arm with an Ace bandage.

 I asked what happened.

He replied,
"Nothing. I just think we might sell more if I look like I'm hurt."
I think I feel a lesson about integrity coming on.

But really - if you're in the area - humor the kid. You won't be able to avoid his puppy dog eyes anyway. And the arm will just add to the experience.


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