Monday, November 26, 2012


all baked
sorry for the cell phone photo

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pumpkin Pie from scratch

Okay, well, I didn't grow these pumpkins although I did grow about 2 dozen pumpkins this year. And I didn't grow the grain or potatoes (I'm not even sure how to get the starch out of potatoes). But I did throw all the ingredients together to make the gluten free crust and of course the pumpkin part is just the regular recipe on the can with double the cinnamon.  

This is the best crust I've made so far and you can find the recipe at my new favorite gluten free blog HERE! I will buy her recipe book as soon as I master this one for my parrot.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Thankful Turkey

Maybe he is just thankful to be an ornament and not someone's dinner but he sure has been a fun part of our lives this November.  I cut out maple leaves using my Silhouette Cameo.  I wrote something we were grateful for on each leaf. Each day I would hide it somewhere in the house and my children would search for it and then read the tiny message.  

One day I let me son hide the turkey.  And this day I let my daughter hide the turkey.  This is a great hiding spot all nestled in among the winter garland and snowflakes. It's a fun tradition we'll carry on next year with slightly longer messages per leaf. Now I'm working on a paper scrapbook page (how long has it been???) using my silhouette cameo cutter and THIS for inspiration.  I cut a border and a banner, now I just need to cut a tree.  It's been really inspiring to find a way to preserve our gratitude.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Decorative frozen whipped cream for Hot Cocoa

We still have snow on the ground at house although it is starting to melt fast now.  We had about a week of really cold weather after it snowed which means my husband and children consumed amazing amounts of Stephen Hot Cocoa in Milk Chocolate.  I must use real milk and cocoa and sugar.
 Many of you know that I have a lot of food allergies.  This means I make most everything from scratch and I like time savers whenever possible.  For some reason they add Soy Lecithin or Tocopheral Acetate to the whipped cream that you get in a spray can - that is if you can find the kind made with real cream.  If you find the kind that says Tastes Like Real Cream then it probably has Palm Kernal Oil in it which is a big problem for me.  Sooooo ...  real heavy cream is what we use and whip our own.
 I used the extra large tip and that meant I needed to buy a new coupler.  I only have the kind for cookie decorating.
 I placed the whip cream roses on a silpat on a cookie sheet and then placed them in the freezer.
 After freezing I used my handy dandy cutco spatula and placed them on a piece of parchment in a rubbermaid container and then put them back in the freezer.

Seriously so easy and now they are ready in an instant for any hot cocoa craving that comes our way!

Friday, November 16, 2012

The last First Loose Baby Tooth

This is the last First Loose Baby Tooth we'll have in this household.  I don't remember loosing my first baby tooth.  But I have a photo of my daughter with her first loose tooth.  And we can't have puppies or kittens in our home and well, parrots have beaks and not teeth.  

So this is a big step for my son and for Mom and Dad too. Daddy pulled it out for him.  He really didn't ever want to wiggle it or pull on it.  It scared him. Daddy is his hero! It's a little exciting and a little sad all at the same time.  He's one happy kid!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Making Christmas Amazing

I have been officially invited to be a part of the board for the Cancer Foundation.  I'm really excited.  My husband is on the board and I've been helping him for a few years.  A few people moved and so there were openings.  One of my favorite people was also invited to join the board and I can't wait to learn all I can from her.  

I started working to get Christmas together for some of the families who have children with cancer. A friend of mine is taking care of the gifts for 2 families. And as I got working on it, I found out that one family had an old artificial tree that was falling apart.  So a member of the board purchased this tree for them.  I asked my neighbors for any ornaments they had laying around - Catholics and Mormons came through with the most beautiful red and green ornaments.  I also purchased a few and someone donated money for the star.  Someone else donated the tree skirt.  I couldn't have done this without the help of my wonderful and generous neighbors.

And I don't have photos of the outside of the house but Anderson's Seed and Garden came through and installed Red, Green, and White LED lights on this house too. The mother said over and over again how she has always wanted Christmas lights on her home.  I'm glad someone donated the lights for Anderson's to install.  I told her as I was leaving that even though this is a difficult time, we wanted to add a little light, a little sparkle to their lives.  She was so thankful. Her son has osteosarcoma and has had his leg amputated.

Funny experience - she asked me who they return the tree to when the holidays are over.  That thought had never crossed my mind.  Of course I told her it was hers to keep.  I told her she could move any of the ornaments she wanted.  And I showed her how to make the bows and how to place the ornaments on the tree as well as how to remove them.  I wired everything on except the snowflakes.  She said she wasn't going to touch it until the holidays were over.  She just wanted to sit and look at it.  She loved how much light it added to their home.

She had never thought of putting words on the tree. I got the words and the snowflakes and the large ornaments in the center of the tree from Hobby Lobby.

When I was serving as a full time missionary at the age of 21 in Washington D.C. I served there Christmas of 1997 and 1998.  During the Christmas of 1998 we didn't even have a small tree. We taped a strand of lights to our apartment's sliding glass door.  Instead we helped decorate 6 trees for members of other faiths, new members of our congregation, and even some older members too.

John and Neomi's tree was the most fun - at the time they were newly weds just barely expecting their first child.  Sister Howlett and I had so much fun helping them decorate.  John was a brand new member of the church at the time.  He was full of fire and testimony. Their house just glowed with all the lights. Good times.

We also served in the Washington D.C. Temple Visitor's Center and enjoyed the millions of lights and the beautiful Creche displays from all over the world.  There were also trees decorated to celebrate many different cultures.  It was a Christmas I'll never forget.  Julie Marriott gave me a beautiful stationary set with a Mini Mouse Cross pen. Another person at church gave us lotion and the best holiday candy I've ever eaten.  And my mom sent me comfy pajamas - I was returning home soon and didn't need much.

And this tree makes this Christmas one I will never forget.  I had so much fun listening to J's mom and hearing her story.  She was honest and strong and just in need of some time to talk.  She asked about my run in with cancer and we shared the afternoon just decorating and making their home beautiful.

Hope you enjoyed the tree as much as I did!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


I'm letting my parrot grow out his flight feathers.  He still has about 6 that will need to come in.  They butchered his poor wings when they clipped him the day before we purchased him.  It's been fun to have a parrot fly around our house to find us and it's especially fun to have him land on our hand or shoulder.  

I love the color of his flight feathers.  The blue is just gorgeous!
I must admit I am a little nervous about loosing him so we've set up some rules in our house.  But he is so much happier now that he can fly - it will also help keep his weight in check.  And he can wear a harness.  He'd probably stop fussing with it so much if I put it on him every day.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Our homes matter

I am grateful for the voting process and I am grateful for the opportunity I had to vote.  What happens in Washington is very important but what happens in our homes is the most important. This video is 2:32 so it's short but powerful.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Just a reminder

Some of you said to remind you of this when it gets closer to Christmas.  I want to give you enough time to plan it.  So this is what our neighborhood does each year:
Plan a neighborhood party
Do NOT take around neighborhood gifts.
Save your money and donate it to the gift box

The funds are then used to take care of a family in the area that needs items for Christmas. This is so much better than making neighbor gifts, running around in the ice and snow, and having plates of junk food stacked up in your home.  You get to meet and talk with your neighbors in a warm setting, get new soup recipes, and take care of someone in need.

Everyone brings soup
Everyone brings a small dessert 
(this year we had people bring something to dip in the chocolate fountain)

The committee provided the bread and salad 
(we could have lived without the salad - bread was enough)
The committee decorated using stuff from home - that means FREE
The committee provided plasticware, bowls, plates, cups, and napkins
The committee provided the minute to win it games for the children.
We borrowed tablecloths from the church. 
We hand delivered the invites printed on paper.

I provided the marshmallows

We had a great time and everything was super yummy.
Afterward we put everything away, vacuumed, and got the full refund from the community center.

And the best part, let me remind you again, we raised hundreds of dollars to take care of a family in need.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Helping Hands ...

Are you looking for a way to help the victims of Sandy without padding someone's pocketbook?

Two of the reasons to donate through LDS Charities (Humanitarian Aid):

#1) every dollar donated is used to help those in need without regard to race, religion, or ethnic origin
#2) LDS Charities helps people attain self-sufficiency so they can be self-reliant long after Charity departs

The missionaries you see in the above photo are paying their own way to serve as missionaries. They are strong and healthy and hard working.  And right now they are also donating their time to help the relief effort. In fact I did that during my mission.  I served in D.C. and just a few days before I was to return home after 18 months of service, there was a huge messy ice storm that left us without power for 3 days. Check out the article on help after Sandy here.  You can click the Donate Online button at the bottom of the page - so scroll down, it's there!

If you are still worried about donating money but would like to donate item you can purchase and put together here is a great option:  


Hygiene Kits 

Placed in a bag.

Newborn Kits

And school kits

Medical Modules and new Quilts are also accepted.

Completed items may also be taken to the nearest Deseret Industries store or bishops’ storehouse. Locations of Deseret Industries stores and bishops’ storehouses may be found by calling (801) 240-5954

We all have to give up something we want in order to help.
Take my daughter for example.  Instead of asking for gifts for her birthday, she asked the kids to bring the items needed to make hygiene kits.  

It was her birthday and she wanted to help.  Just look at that smile! Best birthday ever.  And it was all her idea too! In fact, I was a little worried about how to pull this off but we did it. And her friends had a blast.  We had pizza and cake and ice cream and decorations, and I supplied any items that were missing. 

We also made the Infant Humanitarian Kits.  Some of us ladies at church sewed the blankets in the cultural hall (church gym) and the cute little gowns.  Many people donated supplies like the 2 gallon zip bags, diaper pins, socks, etc. And the children spent the morning assembling the kits.  

So if you have any questions on how to get started see the GUIDE and where to ship them.  If you'd like to know more about what we did just leave me a comment.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

A wonderful Halloween

This was a wonderful Halloween.  Last year I was home with a kidney infection.  This year I spent the morning at the school helping check 1st Grade homework and then I headed off to a class on Abraham of the Old Testament - quite interesting.  I loved Sister Welch's comment.

 I ran home for lunch and picked up everything for the Room Mom Halloween parties.   They were short on help and I wasn't about to leave Kiwi alone with my son and a bunch of 6 year olds. Kiwi made it into the Herald Journal! Check him out in the Nov 1st issue.

Out at a relative's house for trick-or-treating.

My son as a pirate with his real parrot Kiwi - I sewed the shirt, the pants, and the sash. Grandma V provided the hat.  I purchased the sword, the eye patch, and the earring.

I love this little face!

Helping out at the Halloween program for his class.

Check out his teacher's awesome costume. 

 Yes, this is his teacher the very next day.  She said she'd had enough of the makeup.  She is a wonderful woman and fabulous teacher.  When one little girl showed up without a costume, she called her mom to see if it was okay to provide a costume for her (you never just want to throw a costume on a kid who has religious reasons for not wearing one). She even hand stitched something to fix it and when that little girl came over for me to check her homework she said dragging the most important word, "I'm a p-r-i-n-c-e-s-s" and she just glowed.  I almost cried.  She was darling and she felt special.  Some teachers are just amazing through and through.

 Getting into the act.

 Enjoying a ride on Grandpa and Grandma V's train! A neighbor who always spoils our kids for Halloween described it perfectly last night, "First there were 2 or 3 carts.  Now there are 6.  Then some of them were spray painted.  Now the carts have their own costumes.  It's been so exciting to watch the transformation." I agree.
My daughter only let me put the make-up on once. 

I purchased the ring for $5 and the flower pick in the Christmas section at Michael's for $0.99

She is a ballerina anyway so making this skirt was perfect.  I purchased 16 yards for the blue tulle with the glitter on it and then 8 yards of the purple tulle.  We folded it over and then using my rotary cutter we cut 6" wide pieces.  I sewed together the elastic and then we tied the tulle over it.  

I purchased the wings at JoAnns.  I don't love the felt they used to attach them together, but I do love the glitter.  There is glitter all over my house and I LOVE IT! It's was so fun to put together this costume.

We even found earrings in swarovski crystal that started off silver, fade to blue, and last to purple.  Wish I had a close-up. 

The straps are not the greatest and will need to be replaced soon.

I made and laminated this game - it's like Cooties except it's Skeletons.  His teacher had all the dice.  The children loved trying to roll doubles.

One of the Room Moms brought "Don't eat Pete!" and I'd never played before.  So the children asked me to take a turn.  I actually won!!!  I stood out in the hall while they picked one and then I had to pick an m&m off each spot.  The very last one was "Pete" and so I won.  I can't eat m&ms (soy) so I shared 2 with each child at the table.  It was so cute and they loved getting the m&m's even though I won.

For FHE ( family home evening) we carved pumpkins.  Usually my husband doesn't participate except to help our children a bit but this year I found an easy template at BHG. He was all for it.  Super simple.  

My children used corn on the cob holders to poke holes in their designs to transfer the designs to the pumpkins so I could cut them out.

We even tried this cool trick I learned on pinterest.  Much easier to scrape clean this way and add candles.