"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of. but do it in private
and wash your hands afterwards." --Robert Heinlein.

We've moved!

For the next two years (Summer 2014-Summer 2016) I'll be blogging our family's adventures in China at www.chinesemileposts.wordpress.com

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My Top Halloween Candy Favorites

These are my favorite Halloween candies (or candies in general):

* not in any particular order

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween Costumes

Boy was (I guess IS, since Halloween is technically tomorrow/today (depending on when you read this)) a UPS man for Halloween. On the left is his drawing of his Halloween costume. This is only like the third recognizable drawing he's ever done. It's very exciting for me. The scribble that he's holding on the left of his drawing is his package to deliver.

Princess Sparkley is all about Halloween costumes. She picked this out last year, we hunted down a pattern, and Grandma sewed it up for her. (Notice that she's all about posing now... I can't just take her picture, she has to do these weird poses- arms out, legs crossed, etc.)

Here's the whole family the night before Halloween night. I was supposed to be a Ladybug... well, really I was not going to wear a costume at all but Princess Sparkley wanted me to. So I was going to wear her Ladybug antenna headband and wings with a red shirt and black construction paper dots taped on. I ran out of time today to actually cut out black dots. So I wore her butterfly wings and antenna. B is wearing Boy's baby fish costume on his head.

*As you can see in the background, someone actually brought a hearse to our church's trunk or treat and handed out candy from the back.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Red Sox Jig

My mom kept telling us about this Red Sox pitcher, Jonathan Papelbon, who dances after big wins. This is the footage from the Red Sox winning the American League Championship.

Boy does his own dance each morning when I tell him the Red Sox won the game the night before. Here he is.

Vanilla Midgees

This is one of my new favorite candies. I just discovered them last Halloween and apparently they are a Limited Edition, Halloween time only candy. Tootsie Roll's Vanilla Midgees. Yum. I love vanilla flavored anything. People always react oddly when I say my favorite ice cream flavor is vanilla. It is. And milkshake? Vanilla. Mmm. So these are fabulous. And right now at Target, two bags for $4.

the sleepiest Red Sox fan

Boy has been a huge Red Sox fan this week. He calls them the Bostons. He's worn his Halloween costume from last year just about every day (except when I finally talked him into letting me wash it... which is more than my mom did for my dad who has worn the same Red Sox shirt to watch each game, wore it under his Halloween costume to their church party, and has refused to let my mom wash it... talk about superstitions.). He's slept in it, over top of his PJs every night. And when he wore it to the store the other night with B he made B wear his Red Sox shirt from the 2004 World Series... when they got out of the car he asked B why he didn't have Red Sox pants.

So when the Red Sox won the World Series tonight, Boy was fast asleep in bed. Poor kid. He's missed the end of all the games because they've been too late but each morning asks who won. At least they've been winning each night when he's gone to sleep, and each morning we've been able to tell him that they won. Which results in both kids cheering "Yea, Red Sox!" Followed by a wiggle dance by Boy.

Friday, October 26, 2007

More Candy Please

Yesterday I went for my monthly prenatal check-up, this time it involved a glucose tolerance test. For those of you who have never enjoyed this fun test, basically they give you a 10 oz. bottle of orange (or fruit punch) syrupy liquid to drink. An hour later they draw blood. The drink tastes exactly like orange soda to me, but non-carbonated, and way more sugary. Everyone always talks about how bad it tastes. I don't think it's that bad. It's the overdose of sugar coasting through my veins that makes me feel all jittery and unable to focus that I don't like. So I did that blood test, feeling pretty confident that I'd fail and have to take the three hour version of the test. I was borderline gestationally diabetic with my last pregnancy. Which means I shouldn't really eat all the candy and desserts that I eat. But I love candy and desserts. :(

My doctor's office called this morning to inform me that my glucose tolerance bloodwork came back normal. Hoorah! I immediately went to Target and bought our Halloween candy stash. Okay, not immediately, I went to a little Halloween Carnival at church for the little kids first, then the pharmacy to buy an iron supplement (apparently my blood test shows that my hemoglobin levels are low). THEN I went to Target and bought 8 lbs. of candy. Really, 8 lbs. I just weighed myself with it. And of course I only bought the kind of candy that I like. Because that's what you do for one. And for two, because last year we got stuck with 90% of our Halloween candy because Princess Sparkley puked as I was getting her costume on her to go trunk-or-treating and Boy didn't bring in too big of a hall with just he and daddy going to our church's trunk-or-treat, late. And no one... NO ONE came to our house. I couldn't believe it. But I was certainly glad that I always buy my favorite candies and not just the crap candy I don't want to eat.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pumpkin Cookies

image from coppergifts.com

I realize that just about everyone makes pumpkin shaped sugar cookies this time of year, decorates them with orange and green frosting, M&M eyes, a candy corn nose and a licorice smile, but these aren't sugar cookies... these are actually pumpkin cookies. My mom made them for my class parties all through elementary school. The recipe is actually for Pumpkin Cookie Pops, you know, with a wooden stick in them... I'm not that good.

Sort of like this picture ... but with candy decorations.

Halloween Pumpkin Cookies


1 1/3 cup each shortening and butter or margarine

1 ½ cup each packed brown sugar and granulated sugar

4 eggs

4 tsp vanilla

7 cups flour

3 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

5-6 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Assorted candy decorations


Beat together the shortening, butter and sugars until creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until blended. Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice; gradually add to the creamed mixture, beating well to blend. Cover dough and chill until easy to handle.

Roll our dough (a portion at a time) on a floured surface about 3/8 inch thick. Cut with Pumpkin shaped cookie cutters. Transfer cookies to ungreased baking sheet, placing them about 2 inches apart. If dough becomes too soft, wrap and chill.

Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes (10 on stoneware, 9 on darker sheet), or until very lightly browned. Cool. Spread with orange icing and decorate with candy corn eyes/noses, licorice mouths, etc.

Icing: 1 cup powdered sugar and about 3 tsp milk. Tint with orange and green (stems) food coloring. 2 boxes of powdered sugars ices about 35 large cookies.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


It's official. My belly button has become an outie.

Autumn Soup

I love Autumn/Fall. Maybe because growing up in California, I never really saw leaves change color, etc. Due to warmer weather, our leaves changing color have been delayed. So sad. But here is one of my favorite Autumn recipes.

Autumn Soup
(My mom made this for Halloween every year when I was a kid. I guess she figured we needed to get some veggies in with all that candy.)


1 lb. Ground beef

1 cup chopped onions

2 cups hot water

1 lb. 12 oz. Can of chopped, stewed tomatoes

1 cup cut up carrots

1 cup cut up celery

1 cup cut up potatoes

½ tsp. Salt

½ tsp pepper

2 cubes beef bouillon

1 bay leaf

pinch of basil


Brown beef and onions, cook 5 minutes. Add water, tomatoes, vegetables, and seasonings. Mix and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 20-30 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top.

We always serve it with Marie Calendar's cornbread.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hooray for my Red Sox!

For those of you who think baseball is a boring sport (which it seems like most people I talk to), the Boston Red Sox won the American League Championship tonight against the Cleveland Indians. They won game one, lost games two, three and four, and then won three in a row with games five, six and seven. They are the eleventh team to come back from 3-1 to win a 7 game series. The most recent team to do it was themselves in 2004.

This picture is my family's Christmas picture from December of 2004 after the Red Sox won the World Series that year for the first time in 86 years. We are top center.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Christmas Shopping

I'm probably one of the biggest complainers of Christmas showing up in stores in October and November. My rule, because it was my dad's rule, is no Christmas before Thanksgiving. His was more specifically in regards to playing Christmas music. I just want to get past the preceding holiday before I'm bombarded with new holiday stuff.

That being said, I'm a hypocrite because I start my Christmas shopping early. I try to be 90% done by the first week in December, just holding out for those few last minute things I see and have to get. For example, it's not yet Halloween but I've already bought my kids their Christmas PJs and a couple other little things. The first draft of my ideas for what to get people for Christmas is nearly complete, but I'll complain as soon as I walk into a store with Christmas trees and decorations out.

I like buying gifts, what can I say. So here's one of the favorite gifts I got for my kids last year. Stencils from Oriental Trading Company.

My kids love these. The above picture is a huge stencil set for $19.95. They have themed sets of a dozen for $4.95. We got Princess Sparkley the Fairy Tale Fantasy stencil set and for Boy the On the Go! stencil set. They do a great job. I've been super impressed with how well Boy does as his fine motor skills aren't as advanced as Princess Sparkley's. But he's done great. And they both really enjoy it.

Happy shopping!

Book Report: Small Steps by Louis Sachar

You may remember Louis Sachar's books from your own childhood. I remember reading his Sideways stories from Wayside School series and then Holes a few years back. You've probably seen the movie starring Shia LeBeouf of Disney Channel's Even Stevens fame. I read the book aloud to my class when I taught summer school one summer in California.

Small Steps
is sort of a sequel to Holes, but not really. Holes was mainly about Stanley Yelnats, but included all the other boys sent to Camp Green Lake. Small Steps takes place a few years later and tells us what two of the characters from Holes, Armpit and X-Ray, are up to.

Basically Armpit is trying to stay out of trouble, make sure he graduates from high school, so that he never gets sent back to any sort of correctional facility/jail. X-Ray, not a bad guy, just has a questionable scheme he needs Armpits backing in.

You get to see a sensitive side to Armpit as he has befriended his ten year old neighbor girl who suffers from Cerebral Palsy and claims that she's helped him more than he's helped her.

Overall the book made me sort of nervous because everything was leading up to Armpit getting in trouble again, when he was trying so hard to not. It was written like a Young Adult novel, which it totally okay, since that is what it is. A real quick, easy read. If you haven't read Holes, read it. And follow it up with this one.

Monday, October 15, 2007

What I miss about cable

So we don't have cable (hence the super high number of pages I've read in the last few years). It isn't so bad. I kind of like not being hooked on the new shows and not knowing what season of Survivor they are on (I seriously thought this show went off the air like five years ago.) We currently have bunny ear antennas on our tv that I bought at few months back. We get ABC wonderfully, but don't watch any shows on ABC. NBC is okay. Mostly I watch CBS, and it comes in pretty bad. I don't really want cable, I know how many hours from my day it sucks away, but there are some things I miss. Here's my list:

The Food Network (especially Food Finds, Unwrapped, The Best of, Good Eats and The Secret of)

Pop-Up Videos

Trading Spaces on TLC

music videos in general (I realized today that there are bands out there that I love and listen to, but I have absolutely no idea what they look like)

I guess I also miss some stuff for my kids: Nogggin, Nick Jr., the Disney Channel, etc.

That's about it. Not really a long enough list to warrant the expense of cable. Or the time wasted.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Go Red Sox!

Most people who know me and my family know we are Boston Red Sox fans. We have no connections to Boston itself, but we're still huge fans. My dad grew up in southern California in the 1940s. The best player in the league at the time was a guy named Ted Williams who played for the Red Sox. Every little boy's hero. So because of Ted Williams my dad is a huge fan. When I say huge, I mean, he's arranged business trips and family vacations around when the Red Sox will be playing wherever he's going to be (ie: when he visited us last in Kansas, it was in August- - extremely high temperatures - - but the Red Sox were playing the Royals the week he was here so we got to go to a game). My dad's last pet dog was named BoSox. I once went through his closet and counted how many Boston shirts and sweatshirts he owned... I don't remember the exact number, but I'm pretty sure it was over 20. His office is decorated in all the Boston paraphernalia a person could buy. For the family Christmas card in 2004 (the year the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years) my dad bought a Red Sox shirt for every family member (16 people) to wear in the family picture. He's like one step away from being Jimmy Fallon's character in Fever Pitch.

So this is a little shout out to my Red Sox who are battling the Cleavland Indians right now in the American League Championship. Go Red Sox!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Parking for Pregos

When we first moved to Kansas the grocery store up the street from where we live had expectant mother parking right there next to the handicap parking. I had never seen this anywhere other than Babies 'R' Us. I thought that was so nice and planned to take full advantage of it when I was pregnant again. Now that I am pregnant, they are gone. I'm not really sure when it happened. I stopped noticing them and then one day they were gone. It's been awhile. So now that I'm pregnant, I'm bitter. Just a little bit. And I plan to be even more bitter when it's December and averaging 20 degrees. Usually I don't fight for an up close parking spot, especially when I am pregnant figuring it's a tiny bit more exercise crammed into my life to walk across the parking lot. But I'm not looking forward to it at 9 months pregnant, in 20 degree weather, with ice and two little kids. And when I was at the mall near my in-laws in St. Louis tonight, they had expectant mother parking and I was reminded that I've been cheated.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's A Small World After All

So, in perusing all the blog links on my friend's blogs, I keep coming up with random connections to other people that I know. So I know the first party, and not the second or third, but the fourth. Strange. I guess the blogging/LDS community is small.

Through Cristin's blog (whose husband my husband and I grew up with) I found Jamie's blog.
I grew up with Jamie (sort of, more her older brother). I realized the other day that the last two times I've seen Jamie have been at our bridal showers. I had just moved from Provo to California when I got engaged and so I had a tiny little shower for friends and old roommates, etc. in Utah. Jamie showed up with some family friends from California (my old Beehive adviser). And when I was pregO with Princess Sparkley, my mom received an invitation to Jamie's bridal shower and I tagged along for the fun. Through Jamie's blog I found a link to Tangled and True. Browsing around on that I found a link to another crafty person's blog, Marta. I recognized her name. She is married to a good friend and former next door neighbor at BYU who fell off the face of the planet after he got married. Through her blog there were links to other people that I sort of knew, without really knowing through her husband. Including Ashley who is apparently living in Boston now. While looking at Ashley's list of favorite blogs I came across some other person I didn't know, whose blog I'd seen before, Sarah. Sarah's blog I had linked to previously from Rachel's blog, a friend we met in Kansas who has since moved back to New Mexico where she grew up. Before on Sarah's blog I'd already discovered someone else that I sort of knew, but not really. A few years ago when we were still living in Camarillo, Marcie was in our ward. I also recognized her from being an English teaching major at BYU with me. We didn't know each other then or now. But I did confirm that she was in fact a graduate in English teaching from BYU. That's the extent of our relationship. And at Thanksgiving time I make her Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe from the Relief Society cookbook from that Camarillo ward. Back to Sarah, also on her blog is a link to her photography site. On her photography site is an engagement picture of two people I knew at BYU. Actually, the husband of which was a roommate to Marta's husband before he was her husband at BYU.

Okay, back to Marta. Do you ever type in people's names into a google search or a google blog search just to see if you can track people you used to know down? I do sometimes when I'm bored. I've started trying to come up with people I know who have unusual names or names with unusual spellings. So I looked up this kid that used to live next door to me (he was actually Marta's husband's roommate) because he had a sort of unusual last name. I came across his sister or sister-in-law's blog. Then, the other day when I was reading comments on Marta's blog, this sister/sister-in-law had commented on her blog. It cracked me up that they have no idea how they are sort of connected. That's one's brother/brother-in-law used to live with the other's husband. Funny small world.

Okay, back to the beginning with Cristin. Her blog linked me to some girl named Tara the other day. Tara had posted pictures from her wedding... which I'd already seen on a photography blog. So I linked to her photographer's blog and it's someone that my friend Rachel (already mentioned) links to on her blog.

I think that's it... so far. Is it this crazy for everyone else?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Book Report: Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland

Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland

For my book club here in Kansas (as opposed to my blogging world book club which seems to have died), I recently read a short story by Susan Vreeland called "Cradle Song" from a collection of stories titled Life Studies. I enjoyed the story enough (I'm not really such a fan of short stories in general), and was looking for something else to read, so I checked out this book.

I really enjoyed the whole set up for it. One of the reading group questions was, is this a novel or a collection of short stories. It was both. It was a collection of short stories, all of which could have probably stood on their own, but together, they told a much greater story.

It starts with a man in more modern times trying to prove that the painting he's cherished his whole life is a Vermeer (you know, the Dutchman who painted The Girl with the Pearl Earring... also an excellent book by Tracy Chevalier). In the case of this story, it's a fictional painting, not a real Vermeer. As for the story, you'll have to read it to find out if the painting was really (read: fictionally) painted by Vermeer or not.

Anyways, I got off subject. The first story is the more modern times man in possession of the painting. He tells of how his father obtained the painting. The next story is that family that the first man described as the family from whom his father came to possess the painting. Then the next story is how that family got the painting. And so forth, until we get to the painter. Was it Vermeer or not? I will not tell. I really fell in love with how the big story was told through all the little stories. Plus it was much more satisfying to me, someone who isn't a fan of short stories because they always seem to end too soon when it's a disappointment, to know the whole story.

My only caution in recommending this book is there are some scenes that, although very vague, unclear and sometimes old fashioned in description, were in fact describing intimate moments between man and woman.

I guess I have one more caution, if you read her short story collection, Life Studies, the painting on the cover is a naked woman. So beware when checking it out from your library to avoid embarrassment.

Finally, someone else who will replace the toilet paper roll when it runs out

For as long as I can remember, I'm the only person I've ever lived with (other than my dad, but we never shared a bathroom) that would put on a new roll of toilet paper when the old one ran out. (In college, I was also the one who stocked up on all the toilet paper for my entire house. I'm sure I supplied 80% of the toilet paper even though at one point, I lived in a house with 9 other girls.) On occasion, I've lived with people who will put a new roll on, but only once or twice, not regularly. Mostly it's just left there. Sometimes a new roll is set there on top of the old roll. Or on the toilet's back. But I am finally living with someone who is as obsessed with replacing the toilet paper rolls as I am. My daughter! And she'll be living with me for at least 13 more years, and will only get better and better at this as she gets older. (I hope.)

Last week the toilet paper was out and I sent her downstairs to get more toilet paper from our downstairs bathroom. When she returned upstairs, she insisted on putting it on herself because she'd done it before and knew she could. (Don't you love that age of independence?) Then, the other day she came downstairs first thing after going potty in the morning and informed me that the upstairs bathroom was out of toilet paper. How great is that? Usually it is just ignored until someone (ie: me) is sitting on the toilet and needs it.

Now I just have to teach her to put it on the way I like it, with the toilet paper falling over the top, not hanging down the back and I'll be set.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Cutest Halloween Costumes Ever... AND ON SALE

Okay, so for Princess Sparkley's first Halloween (age 2 1/2 months) she was a sweet pea. Boy was a fish for his first Halloween (age 6 months). The Mystery Baby or Baby X as my kids have been calling Baby # 3 (depending on which kid you speak to) will be 9 months old... unfortunately too big to fit in either of those costumes). I got both of their costumes at BabyStyle. And right now, they have a lot of their costumes on sale for $14.99 and under, $2.00 flat rate shipping. I wish they made costumes for bigger too. Their sizes only go up to 3T. So if you have a kid that fits in anything 3T or smaller, go check this site out. I love it and the costumes are a really high quality.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

a new look

Thanks Cristin for posting the links for how to get cool new layouts. They were actually directions I could understand and follow. Now I just have to figure out if I like it and what I lost.

Monday, October 01, 2007

What to cook for dinner?

My husband will be home from work in one hour. Our car is in the shop today and when I called to see if it was ready, I was on hold, on my cell phone, for 15 minutes. I haven't called back yet. I made super yummy, rich brownies last night so we finished off our milk. We have only a few eggs, that expired like 5 days ago (breakfast for dinner is usually my last minute, I don't know what we should eat tonight solution). We've recently had spaghetti, my other thrown together meal. And we're out of bread. Hmmm... I didn't plan this car going into the shop thing very well. I should have done some grocery shopping Saturday to prepare. So what do you make when your cupboards are rather bare... at least of meal-making ingredients? They are technically over-flowing. But I'm a recipe person, not a throw all the canned things I have together in a pot and cook it kind of person. Some people can pull that off. I would end up with a pot full of completely inedible stuff and no canned goods on my shelf.

These are the ingredients that I don't have on hand, that are necessary when I am planning a last minute thrown together meal.

sour cream

With these, I could come up with several meals. Breakfast for dinner. French toast. Sandwiches. Any variety of chicken casseroles. Tacos. Enchiladas. A giant salad. Etc. Etc. But alas, we may be eating canned soups for dinner.

Taffy Apple Pizza

I realize that all I seem to post are dessert recipes. I can't help it. They are my favorite. They are the recipes that I am the most excited about. So, other than a salad or meatballs or a soup here and there, mostly the recipes that you'll find here are for desserts. Indulge yourself every once in awhile.

This is a fun dessert to make in the Autumn. Plus it seems a tiny bit healthy. (Okay, not healthy, but healthier for a dessert.) And it's always been a big hit whenever I've made it.

Taffy Apple Pizza
a The Pampered Chef recipe


1 pkg. (18 oz.) refrigerated sugar cookie dough

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

½ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup creamy peanut butter

½ tsp vanilla

2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled/cored/sliced

¼ cup caramel ice cream topping

½ cup peanuts, chopped


Preheat oven to 350. Roll sugar cookie dough into a ball, place on round baking stone/cookie sheet and roll out to an 14 in. circle. Bake 16-18 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool ten minutes. Loosen from baking stone; cool completely.

Combine cream cheese, brown sugar, peanut butter and vanilla until smooth. Spread on cookie.

Arrange apple slices on top of cream cheese mixture. (To keep apples from getting brown, dip them in lemon juice, or lemon-lime carbonated soda.)

Microwave caramel topping for 30-45 seconds until warm; drizzle over apples. Sprinkle chopped peanuts on top.

Cut into wedges. Serves 16.

Nutrients per serving: Calories 300, Total Fat 17 g, Saturated Fat 5 g, Cholesterol 25 mg, Carbohydrate 36 g, Protein 5 g, Sodium 270 mg, Fiber 1 g

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