Thursday, February 28, 2013

Rainbow Cookies

While we are on the topic of cookies, my friend Natalie wanted me to share this recipe and idea for rainbow cookies.  And so, here we go again with the cookies.

It all started because I was teaching the letter R to Hallie and Hanna's little group of friends.  Thus, rainbows.

I did the requisite pinterest and google searches, and wasn't coming up with very many activities that I was excited about.  In the car I came up with this idea, and Devin helped me make it work.  I give you, rainbow cookies.

Recipe:

4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Sift dry ingredients into bowl, set aside.  Cream butter and shortening.  Add sugar, mix until smooth.  Add eggs one at a time, beat a little after adding each one.  Add vanilla extract, beat.  Add dry ingredients gradually and blend well.  Divide dough evenly into four bowls.  Add food coloring to make colors. (I did red, blue, yellow and green.) Cover and chill 2 hours.   Break dough into pieces of equal size and roll into balls.  Return dough to fridge until ready to make into rainbows.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

I let the kids do this part.  I gave them each a red cookie dough ball and told them to roll it like playdough into a snake.  Then I gave them a yellow one, then the green, then the blue.  When they had rolled them all into "snakes", I told them to line them up and curl them around like a horseshoe.  Then I carefully put them all on the baking sheet.

Bake on cookie sheet 4-7 minutes, check often to see when cookies stop looking wet on top.




 The kids LOVED doing it themselves, and they thought they were so fun to eat.  Score.





Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cookies

My friend Rachel asked for the recipe for these cookies, and so here it is.



Chocolate Cookies

6 tbsp butter
3/4 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
2 candy canes, crushed

I put the two candy canes in a ziplock bag, unwrapped, and then gave Hallie and Hanna the rolling pin to crush them with.  They did a great job.

Heat oven to 350.  Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until creamy.  Add eggs and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy.  Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; gradually beat into butter mixture.  Stir in white chips.  Drop by rounded teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet.  I actually rolled them into balls in my hands, the dough is greasy but not sticky.

Bake 8 minutes (Do not over bake.  They will puff while baking, then flatten upon cooling.)  Cool slightly, remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.  Cool completely.

Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies.
 
I don't always put the candy canes in, when I did that it was just before Christmas time.  The cookies that I made last week just had the white chocolate chips in them, I think.  But you could put in whatever you think would be delicious, walnuts, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, the possibilities are practically endless!
 
I think I love these cookies more than chocolate chip cookies because these ones have never failed me.  They have never betrayed me.  Give them a try!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Welcome Back

Some of you have expressed concern for me ever since my post about not feeling well.  I really appreciate that, and so I thought I'd let you know that I really, really am feeling better.

And the way I know is, is because I am.  I am feeling, that is.  I am feeling happy, and I am feeling sad, and I am feeling angry, and the thing is that I AM again.

When I wrote that post, for the past month or so I had been living in a strange dark void.  There was a gnawing nothingness that nibbled and nibbled at my soul until I was a hollow shell.  It left my shadow with more substance than my body.  And I didn't care.  I didn't feel happy and I didn't feel sad and I just didn't feel much of anything except that I wanted to be asleep.

I realized the other day just how good it felt to be "feeling" again.  To be "doing" again.  I was making dinner for my family, a thick warm soup, with bread dough rising in a bowl, and cookies in the oven.  The house was (mostly) tidy, the curtains were open and light was streaming in, and probably choirs of angels were singing perched on a cloud above my house.

I mean, you know the feeling, right?  And it felt so good to be taking care of the people I love again. It felt so good to be more than just a husk of a human who peers out at the world from behind her thick blankets only to snarl "go pour yourself your own milk".

Since then I have also made two of the most adorable blankets for a friend who recently had twins - I love them so much I will have a hard time sending them away.  I also finished a cross-stitch that is number two of a three part design.  And I am planning new projects again.  Things to work on and to look forward to!  We've been going out and doing things again - there's a world outside!  A world full of people and trees and sunlight and birds who are starting to come back to make nests in my trees.

Welcome back birds!  Welcome back, me.

 My little helper.
 The only cookie that might be better than chocolate chip.
 My other "helpers"
 This became breadsticks.
 Listen, I made fresh bread!
  And cookies!
  And I just used this as a base, and then added a bunch of other ingredients to make it 
extra more specially delicious.
Yum.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Quiet Book

Dear Momma -

I thought maybe you'd want to see how the quiet book you gave me to make for Heather turned out. I was really happy with it, and the girls (even Hallie and Hanna) love it!

 These pretty little flowers can be buttoned and unbuttoned, obviously great for small motor skills. I added the little flower pot at the bottom because I thought it looked strange without one.

 This is easily the favorite page.  The little doggie has a leash from his collar that allows him to come out of the dog house and go on short walks.  He is so loved that he has already been freed from his leash, but after a stern talking to, and being re-attached to his dog house, he is now ready to play again.  As long as he doesn't go too far.
 This momma bird is sitting on some eggs.  Pull away her nest and count how many she has!
 This one was the trickiest to make, and even now I am not at all sure that I followed the instructions correctly, but they didn't make any sense to me, so finally I just did what I thought did make sense, and it works. So! Learn to tie your shoes, here.
 This one was fun, unzip the corn husk and zip it up again!  Zip zip!
 And, last but not least, PEEK A BOO.

It was a lot of fun making this, so again, thanks mom!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lazy Mornings

Hallie is a month and a half into being 5.  And there is a little voice in the back of my head that whispers at me all day long that she will be going to kindergarten in just a few months.  Going to kindergarten. 

I've been thinking about her entering the big world, her first time truly out of my reach - I don't know the kids in her class, I don't know their parents, I don't know the lunch ladies, I don't know the teacher, I don't know anything.

I know nothing.

And she will know it all.  She will spend more waking hours there in a few months than she will at home, with me.

Ah, that's not what this post was supposed to be about.  So I'm cutting that train of thought off, right now.  Cut.

Let's try this again.  I decided it was time Hallie knew how to use a computer, you know, the simple basics.  So I taught her how to click a mouse, what it does, and a friend recommended a nice website called abcmouse where they can do little lessons and activities and I love it, and she is coming along pretty well with the mouse. 

Last week she also discovered the camera, and started taking pictures.  It's kind of like an unedited, raw glimpse into our little daily lives.  So, here's what we look like on a cloudy, lazy winter morning.


 I heard her tell Hanna: "Sit in that bumbo, Hanna. It will look so cutie. Everyone will love it." Also, Michelle, that's your bumbo, do you want it back? Yes?










 This is Hanna's favorite place, the dishwasher, and her favorite thing to do, emptying it.  Note: Never leave the sharp knives in the dishwasher.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Because

If you hate poetry, skip this post.  If you don't generally hate poetry, but you do hate it when I write poetry, skip this post.  Thanks!

When Heather was about a week old, I wrote two poems.  You can find one of them here.  I saved this one for her birthday.  Happy Birthday, baby girl.

In my mind
    my brain
    my center of control
I love you, because
my body worked
    long shifts         
    late nights         
    and double overtime
making sure
your body had
    kneecaps check
    eyelids check
    spleen check
    duodenum check
I love you because
    You are mine.

In my heart
    my main frame
    my center of emotion
I love you, because
     you pucker your mouth
     in a perfect little ‘o’.
You have chubby cheeks
     and scrawny chicken legs.
Your hair is a mystery
     I may never solve.
Someday you will have
     hopes and dreams
     plans and arrangements
some include me,
and some do not.
I love you because
You are you.

In my gut
    my core
    my center of existence
I love you, because
     you hold my finger tight.
It seems my body
     was created
     in perfect dimensions
     for the sole purpose
     of holding yours.
There will come a
     day when I will hear
     your little voice
     call me “mommy” and
I love you because
I am yours.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Voicemail

Well, another round of Three Minute Fiction has come and gone.  I was not as happy with the theme for this round, nor was I at all pleased with my own efforts.  The theme was voicemail - and anyone who has ever heard me leave a voicemail probably knows why I didn't love this theme* - but here is what I came up with, anyway.

* Who leaves a three minute voicemail? Seriously, sit down and time yourself trying to talk to yourself for three minutes. It is a ridiculous long time.


"Look, I know I was a jerk, and I’ve been thinking a lot about it, and I just, well of course I owe you an apology.  I know it is really late at night, and you’re probably sleeping, and I guess I should be sleeping too, except that I just couldn’t sleep without calling to tell you how sorry I am, even though I knew you wouldn’t answer because, well, I guess you’re asleep.  

So now it’s just me, and your voicemail, and you... whenever you listen to this, waiting for my apology.  You are still listening, aren’t you? You’re going to hear my apology, right?  You have to hear it.  You have to, so that I can know that I am forgiven.  You have to forgive me, because...

I know I was a jerk, and I know I overreacted.  It’s just, when I saw you

kissing him

that stupid dumbface hat-rack-brain who thinks he can call himself your boyfriend, who does he think he is?

But what I mean is, I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have punched him.  I should have walked away and

but did you think it was as funny as I did?  I know you looked at me like I was crazy when I was laughing, but inside, didn’t you want to laugh too?  At the bright blood dripping from his nose - who knew that it would start coming out so fast?  And the tears in the corners of his eyes.  Him, such a big baby!  Did you laugh, later?

Alright, well, I’ve apologized now.  I’ll say it again, I’m sorry.  I really am, even if he did deserve it and it was funny.  He shouldn’t be kissing you, not when everyone knows you’re still with me.  You are still with me, aren’t you?

...

I have this feeling that if I hang up, that means you’re not still with me.  That I have to keep talking and talking into this voicemail until I see you again, and then you’ll smile and tell me you did laugh at all the blood he stores in his nose, and you’ll tell me how repulsive it was to be kissing him.  I know it must have been repulsive.  Right?

I can’t hang up, because I don’t know how to say goodbye to you without ten minutes of “I-love-you-more’s”.  As long as I keep talking, I can pretend that you are on the other end, twirling your hair around your finger, doodling on a little notepad on your desk.  I can see you, nodding your head as you listen to me, that smile on your face.

You’re awfully quiet tonight.  Are you drawing a picture of me, climbing the tree outside your window?  I still do that, at night, you know.  I know you don’t mind, just like I know you thought it was as funny as I did to see all the blood coming out of his face.

Well, I’ll see you at school tomorrow.  I’ll save you a seat in Geometry.

I love you.



No, I love you more.



No, really, I love you more."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

LOVE Books

updated: with links to goodreads!

I find myself in two camps of reading: The Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen camp, and the Twilight Stephenie Meyer camp.

So sue me, I love them both.

In case you're looking for a great read for Valentine's Day (what? you don't read on Valentine's Day?)  consider the following:

Mrs Mike by Benedict Freedman
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
Persuasion by Jane Austen (her best.  I get chills at the end, when she's reading the note?  CHILLS.)
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter
The Pioneer Woman: From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond (funny, funny, funny)
When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin (must have tissues)
Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen (simply adorable)
Hannah's Dream by Diane Hammond (if you love elephants)
Kissed by An Angel Elizabeth Chandler (my favorite book in high school)
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (the book that taught me what love is)
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (also, the first psychological thriller ever written)
The Host by Stephenie Meyer (as a mother, this book breaks my heart every time)
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo (if you love horses)
Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo (if you love your brother)
Wish You Well by David Baldacci (if you love your family)
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (if you love bunnies)
 Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (if you love dogs)
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (just... one of the best books I've ever read)

Also, for children:


Guess How Much I Love You
Love You Forever
Someday
Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You
On The Night You Were Born
You Are My I Love You
The Kissing Hand


Any books you LOVE to read about LOVE?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Which One?

Look, I know I ask for your help a lot, but you guys are just so good at being helpful, and I am so bad at making decisions.

I have about ten posts that I have wanted to write, but I spent a ridiculously silly amount of time on these pictures instead, and now I can't decide which is better.  That's your cue to step up and say you'd love to help, so that I can free up my brain to tell you all the other things I've been wanting to tell you. (Oreos are involved, so get excited.)

What I do is I take pictures that represent the words of the song I am teaching and then I hold up the page for the line and they (hopefully) remember the words and know what to sing, until they have the song memorized. I do this because about half the kids are too young to read, or read very well. 

Now you know what I do at church on Sunday.

The line of the song in question that I have to teach the kids is "for all His creations of which I'm a part".  Originally I just took four pictures, one for each season, and put them around a picture of the Earth.  Nice.

Then I thought maybe I should emphasize more "of which I'm a part".  So I went back and found pictures of the seasons with kids in them.  And, as I said, I spent a ridiculous amount of time sizing the pictures to make them fit nicely on the page together.  Because in addition to not being able to make decisions, I also am not able to use computer programs like someone my age should be able to*. 

Your task is to pretend you are a four year old.  Which picture would you rather look at, and which one more says, "of all His creations of which I'm a part" to you?  Thanks for all your help.  Really.  What would I do without you guys?  When I asked Devin he said, "they both look fine."  Whatever you do, don't say that to me.



You should  be very, very, very impressed that I figured out how to make these into .jpg's.  And that I know what a .jpg is.  Sort of, I mean, I sort of know what one is.

This will be printed on a regular size page, and held up in front of about 30 children, so also take into account which one would be easier to see.

*But I type fast, so that helps me feel good about myself.

All photos are from lds.org

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Last week both Heather and Hanna wanted to go to bed by 6.  Hallie did not quite want to go to bed that early, so she and Devin made caramel sauce.

Of course, as soon as I next went to the store, I bought ice cream.

Tonight after dinner I made milk shakes, poured some caramel sauce in, and dropped in a few pink m&m's for good measure.  I served Hallie and Hanna their little cups full of creamy smoothness, and I sat down to share mine with Heather.

She really laps that stuff up, her tiny mouth opening like a bird anticipating a delicious meal of... well, you know what baby birds eat.  I could hardly keep up with her demands her little fists flying when the spoon did not reappear fast enough.

Which, frequently it did not reappear fast enough, because this was my milkshake too, right, so I wanted to have a bite now and then.  During these lapses, after her initial protestations went completely ignored, she went looking for something else to put in her mouth.  And so, in with the half swallowed vanilla and caramel, she'd stuff celery.  Yes, a raw celery stick that Devin had given her during dinner.

And that's how we keep that crazy little thing called love alive around here.  I give the girls milkshakes, he gives them celery.  And they eat both.

I teach Hallie and Hanna how to write their names, and draw pictures of flowers and people, and he teaches them how to bake bread and make caramel sauce.

He has never once eaten the last cookie, or the last piece of cake, and I have never told him he could not go running*.  He expands the girls' cultural horizons by making things like keema alu, or tandoori chicken, or stroganoff.  I teach them about the comforts of home by making macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or chicken and vegetable soup.

Every night we put the girls to bed together, putting on jammies, brushing teeth, reading stories, then scriptures, then prayer - it's a family event.  I'm not saying my family is perfect, and there are plenty of tears at any given time, but if you could have seen the smile on her face, mouth half full of ice cream, half full of celery, you'd see - we're a happy little family.


*For those who might scoff and think that "letting" him go running is no sacrifice, you've never trained for an ultra-marathon, or been married to someone who has.  If you have, you'll know what I mean.

Friday, February 1, 2013

This Is My Family


I can't make decisions.  So, tell me what pictures to print and put on my wall.  Thanks.

Also, if you are a parent, grandparent, or great grandparent reading this, and you would like me to print a copy of one (or more) (or all) of these pictures for you, please email me and let me know which ones.  Thanks.

If you aren't reading this on my actual blog, click here to vote in the poll.

Hallie
Picture #1
Picture #2
Picture #3

Hanna
Picture #1
Picture #2

Picture #3

Heather
Picture #1
Picture #2




Picture #4

Picture #3
CUTIE!

Family
Picture #1
Picture #2

Picture #3
Picture #4
Picture #5

Picture #6

Picture #7

Picture #8
Picture #9