"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

Sunday, May 29, 2011

YA Lit.

So, my goal of reading more classics isn't happening.  Even my goal of reading more adult novels isn't happening.  I've read 37 books so far this year, and more than half of them are young adult lit.  And even some of the books that I've grouped as adult literature still have teen protagonists.  But I like them.  I started reading Toni Morrison's Beloved on our camping trip and decided after one chapter that I needed the Cliff's Notes to go with it, and then I checked out a stack of YA books from the library that I'm quickly working my way through.  You can see my recently read in my sidebar, or here.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Yearly Photos

I have always been really good about the kids' doctor check-ups and yearly photos.  But now I've slacked.  Princess Sparkley turns nine in August and we still haven't gone in for her eight year old check-up.  Buddy turned seven last month, and I'm hoping I remember to schedule him a seven year old check up soon.  Little Guy is luckily still little enough, and gives us reason for a little bit of worry, that he doesn't miss check-ups... yet.

As for photos, Rachel took our family picture and some great photos of the kids in June of 2009 just before we left Kansas.  Princess Sparkley's and Buddy's that she took are still their most recent, professional pictures.  I took Little Guy in to JCPenney for his two year old picture (again, he's still little and the difference between 18 months and two is huge where as seven to eight is not so much).  But Little Guy turned three in January and I just haven't gotten around to it.  Jed told me I need to just take one myself (the free route) so while we were out exploring with Jed's family when they were in town for his graduation, I snapped some pictures of the kids. 

Little Guy had his lip out and for whatever reason, refused to look at the camera.  Buddy did wonderfully.  I actually got a few good pictures of him.  Princess Sparkley is just looking at me with attitude.  And really, I think she's looking over my shoulder, waiting for me to be done taking the picture so she can move on with her life.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Greatest Sugar Cookie: Cookie 9 and a review

Using these that Princess Sparkley gave Buddy for his birthday last month and using this recipe, I made a batch of Star Wars sugar cookies. 

I dyed the dough rather than trying to intricately frost them, like on the Williams-Sonoma website.  I even dyed dough black.  I think next time, I'll use a chocolate roll out cookie recipe for Darth Vader rather than black food dye. 

Little Guy direct quote: "When I grow up, I going to be Darth Vader."      

The cookies were really good.  Soft, which I like, but a little too easily crumbled for this recipe.  We took a bag to some friends and most of the Yodas were without ears by the time the cookies reached our friends.  I didn't love this cookie, so I'm giving it 4 stars.  Jed really liked it, if this was his blog, he'd probably give it 4.5 or 5 stars.  But this isn't his blog, so it's getting a 4. 

As for the cookie cutter review.  I've never used a cookie cutter like this, with an imprint made and a little springy button.  I liked it.  I especially liked that the design made it so I didn't need to frost them.  My only complaint is that the dough needed to be really to not stick in the cookie cutter design.  I actually started flouring it a bit in between each cut which helped a lot.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I need to plan better.  First, I just looked at the clock and saw it was 5 PM.  We're normally 5 PM dinner eaters because Little Guy's bedtime is 7PM.  So it's dinner time, and about 5 minutes ago I let the boys have granola bars for a snack.  I had no idea it was that late.  And second, what I had planned for dinner tonight is this salad.  But Jed won't be home for dinner tonight so of the four people who will be here, only Buddy and I will eat salad.  And saying he'll eat salad is a stretch.  He'll have a tiny scoop.  Princess Sparkley will stick out her chin, roll her eyes and look annoyed, then start crying about how lettuce makes her gag.  Little Guy will demand clean noodles or pizza.  So you can see why, instead of making dinner right now, I'm avoiding it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


"Remember [Princess Sparkley], lots of Grandma's books don't make sense because they are missing pages because they are like thousands of years old."  [Buddy] to [PS] while she reads them a Star Wars book from [Jed]'s childhood.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

First Drawings

Little Guy mostly just scribbles stuff.  Sometimes, after the fact he'll tell me what it is based on what it now looks like to him.  For Mother's Day the kids all drew pictures for their grandmas.  He told me he wanted to draw an owl.  Rather than draw an owl for him, I just pointed and told him what shape to draw where.  Result... he drew an owl!  Then, all on his own, he drew a baby owl.  And a few hours later, he tracked me down and told me he felt like drawing more owls.  Now I just have to convince him he can draw more than owls.  But aren't they cute?

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Little Guy and I went grocery shopping yesterday and all on his own he was super interested in everyone with flowers and wanted to buy some white ones. So he picked out a bundle of white carnations for me for Mother's Day. Princess Sparkley made me a felt corsage and a candy flower bucket. Buddy created a Lego corsage, and some giant Lego flowers for me. And right now, I'm baking myself this cake.
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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Too Much Celebration

Easter was the end of April this year only four days before Buddy's birthday and Jed and my anniversary.  Then Cinco de Mayo/my dad's birthday.  And Sunday is Mother's Day.  All super squished together this year.  I blame it all on the late Easter.  Coming up quickly is Father's Day, which, this year, is the day before my birthday.  And in the middle of all this, Jed graduates with his Masters degree.  Fun and exciting but I'm running out of fun ideas.

Monday, May 02, 2011


I should note that all of these recipes are new to me, except Sunday's dinner and rolls which I've made before.  Both are yummy and the rolls are super easy.

Sunday- Chicken Spaghetti
              Magleby's Rolls
              Raspberry Ice Cream Cake
(All yummy!)

Monday- leftovers

Tuesday- Foil dinner with Kielbasa (sort of like this, but I'll make it up as I go)

Wednesday- Garlic Parmesan Chicken and Noodles
     (A lot of work, especially if you hate pulling chicken off the bone.  I would use regular chicken next time, and a jar of Alfredo sauce.  It was very similar to this recipe, which is much better.)

Cinco de Mayo:
Thursday- Slow-cooker carne guisada
                Churros or Mexican Chocolate Cream Pie
(Carne guisada was pretty good.  Nothing special though.  Churros were good, but a little too eggy for me.  I don't like being able to taste the egg in stuff.  We didn't make the chocolate sauce, just sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar a la Disneyland.)

Friday- Homemade Pizza Pockets
    (I made up my own insides to the pockets, just spaghetti sauce, cheese and sausage or pepperoni.  I didn't add enough sauce this time.  And only one of my calzones actually looked like a calzone.  The dough was soft and sweet.  I liked it.  But the recipe says 18 servings and my family of five finished off all the calzones.)

Saturday- Sweet and Sour Pork and Baked Brown Rice
Mother's Day:
Sunday- Blueberry Cheesecake Flapjacks
       Dessert: California Fresh Orange Cake
 (The cake was delicious!  It totally stuck to the pan though.  Use parchment paper on the bottom of your pan, or this tip, except I put my cake pan in a shallow pan of HOT water, worked for me.)

Monday- Steak and New Potato Toss
   (Yummy, except the raw garlic in the vinaigrette was a little strong for me.  But this was sort of a healthy take on meat and potatoes.)

Trying soon:
Breakfast Casserole
Chantilly Potatoes
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Chicken and Black Bean Green Enchilada Rice Bake

Summer Dessert

Recipe here

This looks super fancy but is very simple and yummy.  The downside: both pound cake* and raspberries are expensive.  Although, you could use a cheaper fruit.  Strawberries or blueberries would be yummy.  I actually made two of these, one with a frozen Sara Lee pound cake, one with a Target bakery pound cake.  Both similarly priced (just under $4). The frozen pound cake sliced better so my actual dessert slices looked like the one above.  I don't recommend letting it thaw for 30 minutes before eating.  That just made the ice cream melt more and it fall apart more.  And the raspberries, while tasty, are still frozen solid, even with the 30 minute thaw.  This makes it sound like a bad recipe, I liked it.  I just ate another slice for my lunch dessert.  But I wish there was some special formula to keep the raspberries soft while the ice cream stays frozen.

*Wendy pointed out that I could buy a pound cake mix.  I did look at the store and didn't see one but they do exist.  There are also a lot of recipes for pound cake online.  Next time I think I'll try this recipe or this one or this one.


Jed and I are going camping, without the kids, later this month as a cheap way to get away and celebrate our anniversary.  Throughout our marriage, we slowly started acquiring camping stuff.  But we sort of stalled after sleeping bags and a tent.  We do own one mess kit/cooking set and a hot dog fork, but that's basically so Jed and Buddy (and now Little Guy) can survive a Father/Son Campout.  We've never actually gone camping as a family.  Girl's Camp aside, I don't think I've ever gone camping.  My family owned a tiny motor home when I was a kid and we usually just trekked up to our primitive cabin with a gas stove, etc.  This camping trip will be sort of a dry run without the kids to figure out what we're doing.  I was sort of liking the idea of snacking for breakfast and lunch and then after one night of hot dogs, finding a restaurant somewhere for dinner on the other nights.  But then I sort of got excited about camping meals (it doesn't take much to get me excited about new recipes, and this is an area I've never tackled).

I've found tin foil dinner recipes (this one with a hint about potatoes), camping steak, omelet in a bag (which I've made before at home and are delicious, but then I read that boiling the plastic bag isn't good... but for a campfire meal, I think I'll let that slide), and I grew up making grilled cheese sandwiches in a pie iron in our kitchen.

What other camping tips do all you experts have for me?
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