Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Love is... the Hunky Meat Addition

Because those of you that are reading this probably know me, it comes as no surprise that I am not a big fan of meat. Especially meat that still looks like the original animal. If it's looking at me, it doesn't go on my plate. I can't eat pork at Waldo's BBQ. Too many piggies watching me. At a friend's wedding several years ago, one of the courses was lobster. Whole lobsters. The waiter brought out the platter and positioned it with the poor suckers staring right at me. I couldn't eat a bite.

If I were a pioneer, or a farmer, I would probably end up a vegetarian, or starve to death.

I am not a vegetarian, don't get me wrong. I do like to eat meat. I just prefer to distance myself from the actual butchering and preparing as much as possible. I'm wimpy. I admit it.

The point of this long essay is to say I would much rather be going to the dentist than be prepping a big piece of pork. That is what I had to do last night in preparation for tonight's awesome dinner. (Seriously, you will thank me for trying this recipe out from Make it and Love It.) I am frugal, so I decided to buy the bone-in pork shoulder that was on sale for 99 cents a pound. What I didn't realize is that this particular cut still had thick skin and fat (EWW!!) on it.

Because my husband loves me, he took care of the meat prep while I distracted myself with the veggie cutting. He saved me from any potential meat prep trauma. I love this man! He did it without complaining. Love is helping others, even when the job is unpleasant. What a lucky woman I am.

No picture this time. This is a good thing.

Friday, April 17, 2009


This post is a little late, but I figured, better late than never.

Better late than never. That seems to be an unofficial motto of sorts at our house. hmm......

We had a lovely Easter. The boys loved their baskets. (They mostly loved the candy.) We had an awesome dinner at my parents' house. We ate ham and potato salad and asparagus and rolls with some of the homemade jam Mom and I made earlier. Dessert was cheesecake. Wonderful, homemade cheesecake with fresh strawberries. The only thing that would have made it better would have been to spend the day with all of our family. (We love you California and Ohio family!)

The boys had fun hunting for eggs outside. They only had coins inside, not candy, and Ben wasn't very happy about that. Andrew is excited to buy "cool stuff" with his... approximately 50 cents!

Most of all, I loved being with my family, sharing in good traditions and remembering the gift of the Savior's life and atonement and resurrection. Through Him, we can be with our families forever, and that is the best Easter present of all.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Eve

Easter Eve was quite a dramatic day in the usually sunny Mesa. Instead of a slight breeze and sunny skies, we had rain and cold. 50 degree cold and freezing rain. This is not the April I remember. We huddled around the covered ramadas at the Countryside Park, clinging together while eating our pancake breakfast with the ward. No need for the picnic blankets and sunglasses today. I could see my breath, it was that cold.

Because traditions must carry on, even if the weather refuses to cooperate, we sent the little ones out into the rain to gather their candy-filled eggs. It was the fastest Easter egg hunt ever.

Andrew studied out which ones were the most worthy of going into his basket. Ben enjoyed picking the eggs up and throwing them in his basket. Until he discovered the candy inside. Then, he just wanted to get them open.

The other kids around my boys were swooping around, stuffing as many eggs as they could into their containers. A race. Who could gather the most? That is what I would be doing. I looked into Andrew's basket with dismay and said to Mike,"Why didn't you encourage him to grab more?" My wise husband just looked at me and said, "He was happy doing what he was doing."

My boys were happy with the ones they had. They didn't care that they went home with only 6 eggs, instead of dozens. They were enjoying the experience and choosing only what they wanted. They were happy with what they had and they didn't care if anyone else had more than they did. Maybe this is a lesson I need to learn from them. Why is it that my boys are always teaching me? I guess I'm not the only teacher in my family.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Quiet Book

This is the big project I have been working on for several months now. I have been so close to finishing, and so I set a deadline: Easter. I gave it to Ben for Easter because I couldn't bear to keep it from him a minute longer. I started surfing the 'net, looking in Etsy shops and online for ideas/inspiration/tutorials to make a toddler quiet book of my own. Although there were some cute ideas out there, there wasn't one that I really loved. Then I thought, hey, I can just make my own. Being the nerdy teacher I am, I wanted it to have some educational value. Being poor, I needed to make it with cheap or on-hand materials. Being a girl, I needed it to be a little cute, even if it was for a boy. I have to say, this is the project I am most proud of to date. I hope you enjoy it. Ben seems to love it, too, so I couldn't be happier.
The cover. I used some cute patterned flannel for the cover and back. I sandwiched a piece of felt between the flannel to give it a little heft. I bound it with o-rings and tied some coordinating ribbon on the rings.
The dino has taggie spikes along his back.The foam wheels are attached with brads, so the wheels turn.A sweater to button up.Vinyl fish bowl has four felt fish to put inside.Pond is a zippered pocket to pull the ducks out of.Plane flies up and down on page.Each egg has a different animal that hatches from an egg inside.Eight ric rac legs that wiggle.Each barn door has a button farm animal behind it.The scoops snap onto the page, so you can sort them by flavor or make a pattern.

Friday, April 10, 2009

More Craftiness

While I feel a bit guilty that Andrew's Easter offerings aren't nearly as elaborate as his brothers, I think he will enjoy them all the same. (Besides, we just celebrated his birthday, and he made out like a bandit then.)

I found the idea for making lacing cards out of foam on one of my favorite crafty sites, Little Birdie Secrets. (Why didn't I think of that?!) I die cut the foam at a scrapbooking store to save Andrew the struggle of trying to figure out just what his mommy was trying to create out of these pieces of foam. Seriously, I am a terrible free-hand sketcher.

I can draw fish, luckily, so I made the fishing game without the help of the trusty die cut machine. My creative mother in law made a similar drawstring bag for a previous birthday gift, so I carefully studied hers and figured out how to make my own. I had leftover ocean fabric, so it was perfect. The fish are two pieces of felt sewn together and the eyes are scrapbooking brads. (I had to find something for the eyes that was magnetic, so I slipped a magnet into my purse, threw my kids in the shopping cart and went all through JoAnn's testing buttons, snaps, brads, etc. to see what would work. I must have looked positively crazy.) The pole is a dowel cut in half and a magnet glued on the end of some twine.

Ben has one more gift that is almost finished. The Big One. The crazy project I have been working on for several months now. I'll post it soon.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Crafty Chick(s)

Easter is just around the corner, so I've been scavenging around my house (and my parents' house) for lonely felt, fabrics, buttons and other crafty supplies that need some new life. Aren't I so kind-hearted to help them out? I found this darling pattern online and decided Ben had to have this cute chicken for Easter. He's really into stuffed animals these days, especially ones that make noises he can imitate.

Because he was made mainly from my mom's great stash of fabrics, I decided this chick needed a sibling to stay at Grammy's house. Andrew isn't really interested in chickens, so he is getting something else. (I'll post my other Easter projects later.)

Oh, how I love to be crafty. Oh, how I love an easy pattern. Oh how I love handmade gifts. This is becoming a passion of mine. We had a largely handmade Christmas this past year and I have to say, it was most enjoyable. I loved sitting and coming up with things I knew my boys would love. I enjoyed having something creative to do late at night. I already have several projects up my sleeve for Christmas this year... I have to say, I'm becoming quite the "crafty chick" if I do say so myself!

Monday, April 6, 2009

First Friday

Last Friday was the first Friday of April. In Phoenix, they have an event called "First Fridays" where basically all the galleries and museums in the downtown area are open on the first Friday of each month for free.

We love free.

We can only afford free right now.

We heard that the Phoenix Children's Museum was open for First Fridays (another reason to love Target, who sponsors this event) so we went. We got there at about 7:30 pm. It started at 6:00. The crowd was HUGE! I had no idea this was so popular. (Sometimes I forget that I'm not the only frugal mom in the world.)

We waited in line and got a number. 144. Oh boy, this was gonna be a long wait. I'm not good at waiting. They warned us it could be up to two hours before we got in. I thought this would be misery.

I was wrong, as usual.

My boys found rocks and sidewalk chalk and lots of other kids to entertain themselves with. Andrew scribbled all over the sidewalk then spent some time running up and down the handicap access ramp. He found some kids to play with, running and laughing. Ben found the landscape rocks and watched them fall out of his hands and onto the sidewalk. He was completely fascinated. Mike and I watched and smiled, realizing that to them, this was just as much fun as a museum.

After an hour, they called our number. We had to pry the boys away from the sidewalk.

Don't get me wrong, the museum was wonderful. Full of crafts and rooms to play and explore in. A total kid paradise. They loved it.

I am just amazed at just how little children need to be happy. They were just as happy playing with rocks as with the creative displays inside. They were just happy being together and sharing family time.

Anything can be fun if you're with the ones you love. Even rocks.

Again, I keep learning that the most important things in life aren't really things.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The True Meaning of Easter

Mike's parents came to visit this week. Andrew was ecstatic. Mike and I were thrilled. Ben is happy to have anyone who wants to dote on him.

We soaked up as much grandparent time as we could in the few days they were here. On Tuesday night, we all went to the Easter Pageant together. Andrew said, "You mean like when we go to the temple and see Jesus and eat fish?" (You have to eat fish and chips at Pete's for the full experience.) Yes, Andrew, and as you get older it will mean even more to you than just good food and seeing Jesus on the stage.

We typically go to the pageant each year. Sometimes it feels more like a habit than something to look forward to. Mike's parents have never seen it. Maybe I was more attentive seeing the pageant through their eyes. Maybe I was able to focus better sitting closer to the stage.

I guess I needed to hear The Message more this year. As I watched the scenes of the Savior's life pass by on the stage, watching miracle after miracle unfold before my eyes, I couldn't help but notice how intensely personal each miracle seemed. It made me think, "That is how the Savior's love and His atonement work for each of us. He forgives us and He provides the miracles we personaly need." What a beautiful message. What hope filled my soul. Life isn't easy, but the Savior is always there. I need to remember that.