Wednesday, March 30, 2011

amos mcgee

Every morning Amos McGee would get ready for a day of work at the zoo.

He played chess with the elephant and ran races with the tortoise...they were his good friends.

One day Amos woke up with the sniffles so he stayed home. His friends decided to catch the bus...

and come take care of him.

A few weeks ago I read an article about this year's Caldecott winner...can you imagine winning such a big award on your FIRST book? Please let that happen to me, please let that happen to me....

I had to see this book for myself, so I reserved it at the library.

The pictures are sweet with nice little details throughout. The story {written by the illustrator's husband} is just as good as the pictures.

I'm adding this to my wishlist.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

pink poppyseed dressing

I promise you'll like this recipe wayyyy better than yesterday's recipe!

Brita {one of my favorite people on the planet and second-cousin on my dad's side}, invited me and the kids up to her pretty mountainside house for lunch today. It was so nice to get out, especially with the kids being off track from school. The kids built castles and train tracks in the basement while we dished the latest for 3 1/2 hours!

She baked the best homemade mac and cheese {I need the recipe} and made a salad topped with this dressing. She made it from scratch, trying to copy the salad dressing from Kneaders. She brought some home from Kneaders, then tasted it back and forth with her own creation until they tasted exactly the same. She has a real knack for figuring out recipes like that. Anyway, she had a couple big jars of it, so she sent one home with me along with her recipe. Being friends with a cheffy person has such great benefits! :)

Try it on a salad with different lettuces, spinach, sliced strawberries, raspberries, mangoes, parmesan cheese, sunflower seeds, candied nuts, croutons, dried cranberries...just whatever you like best, really!

Brita's Pink Poppyseed Dressing

3/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 red onion, quartered
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 t. dry mustard

Mix these together in a blender.
Then, over 30 seconds time, add the following while blending:

3/4 c. salad oil
3/4 c. corn syrup
1 1/2 Tbsp. poppy seeds

Store in a big jar in the fridge, and then invite me over for lunch, okay?

Monday, March 28, 2011

spaghetti a la olivia

The evidence.

Here's what we had for dinner tonight :)
I hope you like it as much as we did. The house still smells like cinnamon and oregano, an interesting combination.

Spaghetti a la Olivia


1 pot of really good spaghetti, waiting on the stove for everyone to eat
1 two-year-old, unsupervised
one entire bottle of dried oregano
one entire bottle of cinnamon sugar
one entire bottle of almond extract
one large bottle of vanilla extract
{optional...we almost had it in ours, but decided it wasn't a very good idea}

Let the unsupervised two-year-old climb up onto the counter and find the pot of spaghetti on the stove while dad is babysitting for five minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Find something else for dinner.

Friday, March 25, 2011

meet the felt family

"Hey Ma, we better get inside! Them raindrops is bigger than my head!"

"Storm's a-brewin'! Everyone get to shelter!"

"It's almost Easter! When are you going to take down these dang Christmas lights?"

"Stop staring at me."

{Hehe...we ran out of the small googley eyes when we got to this one, poor kid. He's a little self-conscious.}

"Yay for sunshine! Let's run through the hills!"

Isn't it funny, the things kids like to play with? I made this crazy little play set with Ben when he was about 3, back when we could fit all of our toys into one small tidy container, and we were dirt poor. I've come close to throwing it out a few times, but the kids always stop me, "No! Please! I love playing with that!" So we've kept it all these years. Nina has been playing with it lately, setting up different landscapes and weather for this wonky clothespin family.

When Nina piled the whole family onto the house with the bald kid laying down I asked, "Why are they all standing on him?" She said, "They aren't standing on him mom. That's our family, and that's baby Will laying on the floor."

Who knew that something that cost about $3 TOTAL would be such a hit? It makes me want to make some more...although maybe not so weird looking this time!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

birthday date

Clayton took me out tonight for my birthday. I mean, the Pinewood Derby the other night was nice and all, but...

I'd been wanting to go back to the Carl Bloch exhibit at BYU. I went there with my friend Emily in January, but I had all 5 kids with me, so we just kind of blew through it. Tonight we rented the iPad tour and spent some time enjoying all the uplifting and beautiful art of Carl Bloch. If you haven't had a chance to go, you need to go! It runs through May 7th. These paintings are from different churches all over Sweden and Denmark, and this is the first time they've been seen outside of their homes, and all together in one place. It is well worth going. Make your free online reservations before you go.

I had heard this place was really good, so that's where we had dinner. I love trying new places. Clayton, not so much, but he was a good sport since it was my birthday we were celebrating! The atmosphere was casual and fun, but after we were seated and started looking at the menu, we were like, "Hmm, I feel like an idiot...I don't know what half of this stuff is...should we sneak out the door and go somewhere else?" But then our waiter arrived, and we all smiled at each other like we were so excited. I guess we're staying...

You could tell this guy gets a lot of gourmet-challenged customers. He was a pro as he educated us and dumbed down the menu. We had some awesome gnocchi for an appetizer, and then some crazy salad with grapefruit, avocados, and roasted beets that Clayton passed on {fine, more for me!}. The pizza was fired in a big brick oven and was amazing. We both loved it. Our waiter brought a tiny plate with little dried sprigs of oregano and red chiles for crushing onto our pizza. I thought it was fun to go somewhere other than a huge chain restaurant {even though I like those too}. It was kind of an adventure.

The thing about eating out that gets me {no matter how inexpensive or good it is} is when they bring the bill and I feel so ripped off. I think, "Do you know how many groceries I could have bought with that?" Then I get a pit in my stomach. So dumb, I know.

In the end, my favorite part of dinner was the entertainment:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

pasta & chicken with creamy sun-dried tomato sauce

Get ready for a good dinner! This is a keeper I found in the Mary Englebreit Home Companion magazine, probably 5 years ago. I've modified it just slightly.

Pasta & Chicken with Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce

3 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
3-4 chicken breasts, diced into 2-inch pieces
2 T. flour
1 pound penne pasta (or any shape you like)
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1/2 pint cream
1/2 c. oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
{I get them at Costco because they cost less and they are already sliced in the jar}
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil, or 3 tsp. dried basil
salt & pepper
grated parmesan cheese {optional}

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Melt butter and oil together in a large skillet. Toss chicken in the flour, season with salt and pepper, and sear over medium-high heat, until golden brown and just cooked. Transfer to a plate.

Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package directions.

Add onion to the skillet and saute for a couple minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the cream, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil to the skillet, scraping up any bits of chicken. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the sauce thickens. Stir in a good handful of parmesan cheese if you like.

Return the cooked chicken to the skillet to heat through. Salt and pepper to taste.

When pasta is cooked al dente, drain, reserving 1/2 c. pasta water to add to sauce if it needs more liquid, or for added richness, add more cream. Stir the pasta and sauce together in a big pretty bowl and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


It's true.

I'm in my mid-thirties as of today.

{How did that happen?}

Sunday night my mom did a birthday dinner, and after eating we looked through old photo albums. Back in those days my dad had a Justin Bieber hairdo, and my mom had her long wavy hair parted right down the middle. What a cute little couple! I need to scan in a bunch of those photos one of these days, they are priceless. We were laughing at my quilt patterned wallpaper, my Kermit the Frog doll {which is now in my kids' toy basket}, and my fat squishy face. And Jodi, if you're reading, there were some GREAT ones of you! There was even a photo of my childhood bedroom, all pink and baby blue. Hannah thought that was so funny, and I loved being able to show my kids all these pictures.

This photo in particular caught my I know why Olivia is such a handful. It's payback time.


p.s. Look! There by my feet! It's the Mary Poppins book I was telling you about a couple weeks ago. This was taken at my grandparents' house. They were babysitting me the day my sister Cami was born. I was four days short of being two years old.

p.p.s. Guess what I'm doing for my birthday tonight? Pinewood Derby, baby!! Aren't you jealous? Yeah...pretty lame. Clay and I will hopefully go out another night to celebrate my oldness.

Monday, March 21, 2011

we love pippi!

It seems the Mary Poppins fetish has dwindled and been replaced by another favorite...Pippi Longstocking! The 1968 Swedish television series, based on the books by Astrid Lindgren. The shows are dubbed over in English. If you've never seen this, I HIGHLY recommend it. Super, super funny. Clayton and I LOVE it.

Now Olivia asks me, "Can I go to Pippi's house?" and I sing her the theme song all day long, at her request.

Friday, March 18, 2011


In an effort to turn off the noise of the TV, I made a big batch of playdough. At first, Olivia wouldn't touch it with her hands, only with rolling pins, toothpicks, and plastic knives. But then she really got into it and loved it {especially when we made the elephants}. Then the kids came home from school, and they spent 3 hours playing with it at the kitchen table, I was so surprised!

Homemade Playdough

2 cups flour
2 cups water
1/2 cup salt
3 Tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
food coloring of your choice

Mix all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Stir and cook over medium heat until mixture pulls away from sides of pan and becomes doughy in consistency. Knead until cool.

Keeps 3 months unrefrigerated, and longer if it's refrigerated.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

top o' the mornin' to ye!

Those googley eyes kill me every time!

I heard a knock yesterday when the kids were due home from school. I opened the door and there was Nina wearing this leprechaun mask.
"Hello!" she said in her best leprechaun voice. Funniest thing ever!

We had some serious laughs taking turns with it. I emailed these pictures to Clayton, who has been out of town on business {in Nicaragua, of all places!}.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Our rainbow fruit salad {since everyone knows leprechauns hide their gold at the end of the rainbow}. My mom and dad, and my sister Hailey joined us for our Irish dinner, then we watched Waking Ned Devine.

st. patty's artwork

Nina wants you to know this is a girl leprechaun.

And Hannah wants you to know that these leprechauns are getting their groove on!

ben's leprechaun trap

Look what Ben made the other day {all on his own, of course!}. Determined to catch one of those wee folk, he found some boxes and green tissue paper and went to work. Lollipop sticks and toothpicks were glued together for the ladder on the side. He sat it on his bedroom floor so the leprechauns would see it when they came to scatter gold chocolate coins.

A jewel inside to tempt the little guys...

This way, you say?

A-ha! The jewel!

Little do they know about the looming pit hiding beneath the green tissue paper.

Despite Ben's good efforts, I'm sad to say that no leprechauns were caught this year. They are just too smart and quick! They did bring gold chocolates though, and a box of Lucky Charms and green milk. They even turned the toilet water green!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

we have a sitter

Happy 7 Months William!

You are so sweet.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

little miss minty mouth

Oh hi, baby. Your breath smells extra good today! Where did you get the gum? From Olivia, you say? Wow, that was really nice of her to share with you.

Monday, March 14, 2011

wee leprechauns

Look what I pulled out of the spring decorations box, haha! Ben and Hannah made these a few years back, when Nina was just a baby. I need to go buy some more green craft foam so Nina and Olivia can make some too.

Here's the project in case you are feeling both Irish and crafty this week.

P.S. This old Irish potato dish is what we have for dinner on St. Patrick's Day every year, along with a rainbow fruit salad {because everyone knows there's a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow}. Just a big platter of strawberries, oranges or mangoes, bananas, kiwi, blueberries and purple grapes, piled into a rainbow shape. Sometimes we do green veggies and dip too.

We are hoping the leprechauns will bring us gold chocolate coins and Lucky Charms and green milk for breakfast again!


Tonight Nina said that if she found a pot of gold, she would use it to buy gold chocolate coins.

fun with googley eyes

another mess brought to you by olivia

Yes, that IS the entire box of Will's baby cereal.

Nice one.

will's got the moves

Sunday, March 13, 2011

that's what i call a great afternoon

Last Friday, the kids were at school and the babies took a nap at the same time {YES!}. Add Cadbury Mini Eggs, some fun fabric and plans for new projects, a movie that I love, and that's what I call a great afternoon.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

last weekend at the cabin

Those were my snow boots when I was little.

{click on images for a larger view}

We spent last weekend at a the cabin with my family. Plenty of snow to play in, slippery garbage bags to wear while being pulled behind the snowmobile without a sled, homemade Oreos, laughing until there were tears, dance party, cousin bath time, naked 2-year-old zipping down the slide in the playroom, Swedish pancakes with berries and whipped cream, Hawaiian Haystacks for dinner, caramel popcorn, Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie, not enough sleep, tiny snowman, playing on the swings, warming up by the fire, soaking in the hot tub, happy times!

Hawaiian Haystacks
{Perfect for a crowd! Serves about 12 people.}

1/2 c. butter

1/2 c. flour

1/2 tsp. salt

4 c. milk

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can cream of chicken

6 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into pieces

Melt butter in large saucepan. Add flour and salt and stir. Add milk and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Add cream of mushroom soup and chicken. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.

Serve over sticky white rice with any or all of the following toppings:

grated Cheddar cheese

chopped celery

chowmein noodles

pineapple tidbits

sweetened shredded coconut

toasted sliced almonds

chopped green onions

chopped tomatoes

sliced bananas

sliced olives