Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Christmas Trick


Last Christmas something happened that helped me so much with my Christmas shopping that I decided I would post about it this year. I asked Russ to put something into the back of the van in a black outside trash bag, so that the kids wouldn't see it. The bag ended up getting left in the back of the van, and that was the great accident. For the rest of December, anytime I bought something and had it in the van when kids were in there, I would just stash it in the black bag until we got home and I could remove it surreptitiously. (No, I did not know how to spell that without spell-check!) The kids were never interested in what looked like a big bag of trash, and who could blame them. It came in handy several times, and so this year I'm going to put a black trashbag in the back of all of the cars!

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Earring Storage Solution

I love earrings.  I mean, I really really love earrings.  I don't often wear other jewelry, but I wear earrings a lot.  I used to keep them in a jewelry box, but then my collection outgrew the box.  One year we bought Cindy Lynn a nice earring organizer for Christmas.  When she accidentally left it home after she got married I adopted it and have happily used it for several years.  But in the back of my mind I knew that at some point she was going to want it back...and I really wanted a jewelry organizer that didn't need to sit on the bathroom counter.

Several weeks ago I spent some time searching the internet for earring organizers.  I learned that there wasn't much that was new since I bought Cindy Lynn's.  (Which looks like this, in case you're interested.)

After looking and looking I decided that there really weren't any better options.  So today I made my own earring organizer.

I started with a bulletin board that one of the kids wasn't using any more.  I went to my fabric closet (yes, my fabric collection has a closet of it's own!) and picked out a piece of fabric that I liked that didn't have a lot of contrast to it.  Then I grabbed the spray adhesive and some scissors and took it all outside to the porch.

I sprayed the bulletin board with adhesive, then laid my fabric on and smoothed it out.  Initially I'd planned to cut the fabric out but instead I decided to just wrap the fabric around the edges to the back, where I sprayed more adhesive to hold the fabric down.  It's not fancy, but I wasn't after fancy as much as functional.

After everything had dried I took my quilting ruler and used it to put straight pins in the bulletin board.  I put them 1 1/2" apart horizontally, and about 2 1/2" apart vertically.  I made several rows for earrings, and then the last row for necklaces I made about 6" from the bottom.  After I got the spacing right I loaded it up with my earrings.  It look great, it's out of the way, and now Cindy Lynn can have hers back!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Notes

First, the bad news.  My dear computer that has served me well and long (long in the life of a laptop, anyway!) is truly dead.  This is terribly inconvenient timing, since I was planning on "adopting" Jason's laptop next summer when he leaves on his mission, not buying another laptop now.  I haven't shared a computer with my kids for a long time...I guess we'll see how it goes.

Now to the good stuff.  Thanksgiving was great!

I spent the whole day Wednesday cleaning and getting ready for Thanksgiving.  Including making 5 different pie crust recipes.  In the end, I decided that I'm just not a gourmet--they didn't taste that different to me.  Well the one that was only lard did--I wouldn't have used that one on any of my pies.

I don't know why I've never thought to use my food processor before for pie crusts, but I hope to never do it again by hand.  It was so easy!  I ended up having to roll out all of the crusts between sheets of waxed paper; they were too fragile to roll them out without. 



Wednesday night I was sorting through some recipes and found a recipe for Marie Callender's Banana Cream Pie.  I've always loved their pie crusts, so I made that recipe Thursday morning.  Not for a banana cream pie (more about that one in a minute) but to use with an Apple Cream Pie.  The crust was delicious and I will definitely use that recipe in the future.

Russ and the kids love banana cream pie, and I always try to make it from scratch for them.  For the last several years I've made two large pies, and they are always eaten quickly.  This year I had a new strategy.  Instead of making banana cream pies I made a banana cream casserole.  Yep, you read that right.  A casserole.  In a 9x13" casserole dish, with a graham cracker crust.  I regret that I didn't take a picture, because it was curious to behold.  They loved it, and were very happy that there was more of it to eat.

We had a moment of excitement Thursday afternoon when some of the pies were baking.  I'd overstuffed my apple pie (as recommended on the food network website) but didn't realize that if I overstuffed it I needed to put something beneath it to catch the drips.  Instead....


the oven caught on fire.  It was very exciting.

When the fire was out we had to clean the burned stuff out of the bottom of the oven before we could cook another pie--it kept catching on fire again!

Here are my favorite recipes from Thanksgiving this year:

~~~~~

Apple Cream Pie

Unbaked pie shell

2/3 c. sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 c. finely chopped apples
1/2 t. salt
2 T. flour
1 t. vanilla

Topping: 
1/3 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 c. butter

Bake pie shell for 5 minutes @ 350 degrees.

Combine first 6 ingredients, pour into pie shell.  Combine topping ingredients, cut in butter and sprinkle over top.  Bake at 425 for 25 minutes.


~~~~~

Marie Callender's Crust Recipe

1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. shortening
1 1/4 c. flour
1 T. sugar
1/4 t. salt
1 egg yolk
2 T. ice water
1/2 t. vinegar

Cut the cold butter and cold shortening into the dry ingredients until the mixture has a consistent texture.  Mix egg yolk, ice water, and vinegar into the dough, then form into a ball and refrigerate it for 1 hr so that it will be easier to work with.  

~~~~~

Marie Callender's Banana Cream Pie

2/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/2 t. salt
2 3/4 c. whole milk
4 egg yolks, beaten
1 T. butter
1 t. vanilla
2 ripe bananas, sliced

[Since home-ec in 7th grade I've made my pudding by "tempering" the eggs--beating the eggs separately, then adding the hot milk a little at a time to keep from making the eggs taste cooked.  I was surprised to see that the Marie Callender directions didn't say to make it this way.  I made one batch my way, and one their way, and they both worked fine.  So--it's much less work to do it their way!  As always, I made mine in a big glass bowl in the microwave instead of in a pot on the stove.]

Mix together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Blend the milk and eggs in a medium bowl, the add the mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk together.  Cook, stirring (every 2-3 minutes if you're using the microwave) constantly for 6-8 minutes or until mixture boils and thickens, then cook 1 minute more.

Remove the pudding from the heat and add butter and vanilla.  Put plastic wrap on the top of the pudding while it cools to room temperature.  (The plastic wrap prevents the top of the pudding from becoming hard.)  When pudding has cooled, slice bananas onto pie crust and spoon pudding on top. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Blue Screen of Death

There are all sorts of fascinating and entertaining blog posts rolling around in my head.  Really, there are.

But this morning when I turned on my computer it did this


which worried me

until it did this


and I thought everything would be ok

and then it finished with this.

The dreaded blue screen of death.


So for now I am going to go experiment with new pie crust recipes, some of which include lard.  My kids are grossed out by that but I'm told it makes a flakier crust.  We shall see. 

And hopefully Russ will be able to figure out how to once again extend my poor old laptop's life.  (He's already extended it once, by hooking it into a docking station after the case completely broke!)

Until then, happy eating!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake –Oh My!

November 2010 015

Several weeks ago I posted about making some cheesecakes for a dessert auction at church.  We’ve used two of the recipes I made for many years, but the third was brand new.  When I made it I wasn’t able to eat sugar yet, so I had Russ and the kids taste test the recipe.  They loved it, so I went ahead and took them (both the cheesecakes and the family members) to the auction.

Yesterday I made the recipe again to take with me when I went to Chapel Hill today; we were going to have lunch in between visiting different Relief Society classes and I thought they would be a fun treat.

They did not disappoint.  Yum, yum, yum.  Russ and the kids were right.  This doesn’t really taste like a cheesecake, and doesn’t taste like a pumpkin pie.  It’s a delicious combination.

I found the recipe(s) on allrecipes.com.  As you will see when you look at the recipe, the cheesecake calls for Pumpkin butter (had you ever heard of such a thing??) so I’m also including the recipe for that.

Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake 

1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese,softened 
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup pumpkin butter
1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust

Directions:

1. Combine pecans and 1/4 cup brown sugar; cut in butter or margarine with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

2. Beat cream cheese at high speed of an electric mixer until smooth. Add 1/3 cup brown sugar; beat well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in pumpkin butter. Pour mixture into crust.
3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 40 minutes.

4. Sprinkle pecan mixture over pie. Bake for 5 additional minutes, or until butter or margarine and sugar melt. Cool on a wire rack. Cover, and chill for at least 4 hours.


***My Changes***
I made mini cheesecakes in cupcake liners.  Instead of a graham cracker crust I put 1 gingersnap cookie in the bottom of each cheesecake.  The Kroger gingersnaps were the perfect size and they added a nice zing to the flavor.
The first time I made the recipe I made 15-18 cheesecakes and that was too many—they weren’t full enough.  This time I made 12 and they were just right.
I baked them for 10 minutes at 350, then added the nut topping and baked for 5 more minutes.

------

Pumpkin Butter
 1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin puree
3/4 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    Directions
    1. Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices, and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently.

    ***The first time I made the pumpkin butter I halved the recipe so that I would have just enough for the cheesecake.  This time I made the whole batch and it looks like it will be enough for another cheesecake.  I didn’t have any apple juice so I used orange juice and it was still great.  I made mine in the microwave and just stirred it about every 3 minutes until it started to look thicker and dark—it was probably 12-15 minutes.  Now the rest is in the freezer just waiting for Wednesday!

    -----
    As hard as it may be to believe, the high point of the meal was not the dessert.  (Or the delicious sandwiches.)  We were sitting just past the parking lot in the shade enjoying the beautiful fall day.  It looked a lot like this, except that this is my street instead of the church parking lot.  But you get what I mean—fall in NC is beautiful.

    November 2010 239
    And we were sitting there eating and talking, and then there was this movement.  We looked up, and a huge hawk flew by us—not 10 feet away.  Just glided right by, and into the trees behind us.
     
    And then Diana said, without even missing a beat, “I was waiting for him to bring me a letter!”

    It was awesome!

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    A Week of Movies

    It is a rare week if I see one movie.

    What does that make this week; a week in which I have watched 4 movies???  (And two of them in the theater?!?)

    On Monday for family night we went to Palace Pointe to see Megamind.

     I did not really want to see Megamind.  I did not really want to see any movie.  But, we had coupons for a movie that expired tomorrow.  And being family night, I thought it would be poor form if I told my kids that I would rather stay home and blog. 

    So I went.

    And laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

    Two thumbs up for Megamind!


    Thursday our Netflix movie came in the mail.  The last few have been nature documentaries, but this week's movie was Toy Story 3.  I'd heard great things about this movie when it came out, so I was excited to have a family movie night Friday and watch it together.

    At the last minute I decided that I didn't want to watch Toy Story 3 last night--I decided that I needed to watch Harry Potter 6 again, so that I would be perfectly up to speed for the big movie today.  Sadly, I couldn't persuade my kids (who all just watched Harry Potter 6 with me last weekend) and so we watched Toy Story 3.


    I believe that when Toy Story 3 was in theaters I heard someone say that it made them cry.

    You can add me to that club. Cause I bawled like a baby!

    Two thumbs up for Toy Story 3!!


    As the little kids were getting ready for bed my most wonderful husband grabbed Harry Potter 6 and put it in the player.  What a man--he heard me!

    Then he put his head in my lap and slept while I watched Harry Potter 6 again.  By the end I felt quite ready for the movie today.

    Two thumbs up for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince!!!



    Finally it was time for the main event; the 2.5 hours that we've been building towards for weeks now.  All week I have searched for reviews of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, trying to figure out whether or not we would take the little kids.  They have never seen a Harry Potter movie in the theater before, but now they've listened to all of the books more than once, and we really wanted to do this as a family if we could.

    I finally found some good reviews on Thursday, and based on that information we decided that we would take them.


    Here is our happy and excited group.


    And here are some of us in shock and horror afterwards...


    Actually, the truth was...

    We LOVED it!

    It wasn't nearly as scary as we had expected.  It was dark, but I didn't think it was as dark as HP6 was.  (And, as I have just mentioned, I'm not an authority on HP6!)  The locket scene did bother me, but I think it just grossed my little kids out without scarring them permanently.  I can't wait to see it again, and we are so excited now for July 15th!

    Three thumbs for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!!!!


    This concludes my week full of movies.  Next week I'll be back to my regularly scheduled (boring) program!

    Friday, November 19, 2010

    When the Rational Answer is Not the Right Answer

    I did something today that I’m still not entirely settled about.

    I took our Playstation2 and all it’s associated paraphernalia, and I sold it.

    November 2010 044 For much less than it cost us.

    So that we can buy a different game system for Christmas.

     

    When the child first broached this idea I told him that it was never going to happen.  Russ was even more opposed.

    He’s been persistent, though.  And hasn’t wanted anything else for Christmas.  He even figured out how much money we would get for selling the game system we already had to go towards helping buy the new system.

    I still said no way.

    An odd thing happened that evening when I knelt to say my prayers.  I can’t even remember what I was praying about, but I had the distince impression:

    sell the playstation.

    I was baffled.  Selling the playstation made no sense financially.  It neither prudent nor logical, and I am generally both prudent and logical.  But I could not escape the thought.

    Sell the playstation.

    So I did.

     

    In the end, I realized that this is really just like letting your son shave his head bald for Halloween.  This is about telling this son that we have heard him.  That we care about what he thinks and what he wants.  That he is sometimes more important than financial logic. 

    And in the end, in the years to come, hopefully he’ll look back at this moment.  And he’ll realize what a crazy thing to do this was.  And then he’ll say,

    My mom and dad must really love me.

    Which is certainly more important than either prudence or logic.

    Thursday, November 18, 2010

    Variations on a Theme

    First, there was the Old Spice Man.  The man you want your man to smell like.



    Then there was the BYU Scholar.  The scholar you want your grades to be like.



    Now, thanks to Sesame Street, we have another version! 

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Score!

    I am handy with a paring knife, really I am.  I can cut up veggies with the best of them.  But if you ask me to cut a jack-o-lantern with a paring knife—I’m done.  I become the grinch who stole halloween.

    That is why I was so delighted when they started selling pumpkin carving kits.  Sure, I was happy to have some creative and artistic person make a design for my pumpkin.  But even more than that, I was happy to finally have some APPROPRIATE TOOLS for cutting into said pumpkin!  (Can you tell how strongly I feel about this???)

    I noticed with some sorrow this year that the new pumpkin carving tools seem to have been manufactured with a planned obsolescence of about 7/8 of one large pumpkin.  By the time we finished our four large pumpkins and one small one, all of the little tools were bent and broken.

    So it is with much  happiness that I report that yesterday, at my local CVS, I happened to glance into a bin containing deeply discounted Halloween stuff.  Including these.

    November 2010

    For 10% of their original price!!!

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    My Little Illustrator

    When my older kids were little we had a couple of books they loved to read, written and illustrated by Richard Scarry.  Mr. Scary wasn’t so much of a story teller as he was a picture explainer.  His books were full of detailed drawings, and every little thing was labeled.  Like this.

    RichardScary

    I don’t know that I’ve ever read a Richard Scarry book to my little kids, but it is obvious that one of them is a kindred spirit nonetheless.

    When Jenna was still 6 she made a book that was so cute I scanned it.  I am sure glad now that I did!  It was called “Crs and Trux.”  After I scanned it I typed in the interpretation of her text at the bottom of the page, but it’s not big enough to see on here so I will put it below each picture.

    2

    Fire Station.  When there is a fire, fire fighters are on the way.  Police Station.  Police Men.  When there is a robbery police men are on their way.

    3

    Gas Station.  When people need gas they go to the gas station.  Trash Truck.  Goes next door to next door and gets the trash.

    4

    Come back soon.  Every time it will get funner and funner!

     

    How can you resist a promise like that??

     

    I’m glad to say that Jenna is not done illustrating.  She gave me a very thorough diagram of what she wanted her Halloween costume to be like.

    Jenna Halloween

    I think we came pretty close, although she obviously had a momentary brain freeze while getting shoes. And we did one braid instead of two “pigy tals.”

    October 2010 156

    Last week we rearranged the girls room.  Fortunately for me, Jenna had it all planned out before we even started…

    November 2010 048

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Saving the Planet, One Shower at a Time

    This morning I’ve been trying to make a cd of popular music for Jared’s friend’s birthday.  The problem is the music.  Each song that Jared has heard on the radio and liked has to have the lyrics checked before we can approve it for his friend.  Sometimes I can’t figure out what song he’s talking about and I have to find it on youtube so that I recognize it.

    I was surprised to see that there are now advertisements before “real” (professional) youtube videos.  I know that you and I are both going to be grateful for the advertisement I just saw…

    Made by people concerned about the environment, it suggested that in the morning we skip the toilet and just pee in the shower, thus saving 3.5 gallons of water each and every day!
    clipart_shower
    Happy Showering!!

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Under Different Circumstances

    As you (well) know, I’ve been making a lot of dried apples lately.  Each morning and night my routine is the same; I wash a bunch of apples and dry them off, then cut them with Becky’s super cool apple slicer/corer. 

    November 2010 032

    When all of the apples are sliced & cored (which takes about 55 seconds, seriously) I cut the apple in half and lay the slices on the dehydrator screen.

    A few days ago I decided I would stop drying the end pieces—the ones that you can see in the picture above that have skin all the way around.  They always come off a bit thicker, and because of this they just don’t dry as reliably.  And the last thing I want is for my stored apples to get moldy, right?!?

    As I cut the sliced apples in half and lay them on the dehydrator screen, I set those end pieces aside.  Usually I take a bite of them as I’m working; this keeps me from eating the already dried apples. 

    Last night I had about 8 small apples and one much larger apple.  When I bit into the end piece from that large apple my thought was “yuck!”  I am a very picky apple eater—I like my apples crisp and juicy, sweet and a bit tart as well.  (My favorite apple is a Cameo; I refuse to eat Red Delicious on general principle.)  This big apple was none of the things I liked.  It was mushy and bland and I couldn’t bring myself to eat another bite of it.

    The next morning I opened the dehydrator and started unloading the pieces. 

    November 2010 029

    The pieces from the big apple were obvious—they were almost twice the size of the pieces from the smaller apples.  Out of curiosity I picked up one of the big dried pieces and ate it.

    It was delicious.  Really, truly amazing.  Yum, yum.  I ate every piece of that big apple, marveling that something  so unappealing while fresh could have transformed into something so tasty once dried.

    As I stood there by the counter, chewing and enjoying the wonderful flavor of this dried apple, the spirit spoke to my heart.  It said, “You never know when something might have great value under different circumstances.”

    I knew instantly what this meant.  It was not just a heavenly commentary on the incredible transformation of my mealy fresh apple into a delicious dried apple.  It was a reminder that I have always been too quick to judge people, and that Heavenly Father has been generous over the years with His gentle reminders that I really have no clue and should not be judging at all.  It was a reminder that I am who I am because I have been given so many choice blessings and so much support in my life. 

    And a reminder that I can never know who someone else would be, under different circumstances.

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    HCG & Me

    I have been on a diet.  A diet that I didn’t tell anyone about except Russ & my kids; I felt kind of dumb talking about it because it sounded so extreme.  A diet that has worked better than my wildest dreams.

    So now I’m going to talk about it!

     

    Several years ago we bought a treadmill.  I worked and watched what I ate and lost some weight and felt pretty good about myself.

    Then, 18 months ago, my doctor decreased my thyroid medicine dose.  At the same time, without announcing it, the medicine manufacturer changed their formulation.  My body did not approve of the change, but between our crazy travel schedule and the slowness of thyroid changes in the body, it was 6 months before I was taking the correct amount of thyroid hormone again.

    Six months and 15 pounds.

    I was so frustrated, and couldn’t motivate myself to work towards losing this weight again.

    I heard about the HCG diet from one of my cousins and another friend at about the same time.  My cousin learned about it from an MD in her ward that was on it; my other friend is a naturopathic doctor.  So I figured it came pretty highly recommended.  Once I read the protocol, written by an Italian doctor about 50 years ago, I decided that it made sense to me and I wanted to give it a try.

    The short version is:  In 5 weeks I lost 22 lbs and lots of inches. 

    October 2010 113

    Please excuse the fact that my black shirt doesn’t match my black skirt.  I was so excited to wear this new skirt that I bought on my shopping trip with Ramona that I didn’t realize that I would need a shirt that could be tucked in to wear with it.  And for the last 22 years I have carefully bought shirts to wear untucked, to cover up the fat in my hips and tummy that I’ve had since being pregnant the first time.  (Sure, the tummy got markedly worse after my last pregnancy.  But the hips were about the same from my first pregnancy, regardless of what I weighed or how I exercised.) 

    So now the long version, if you’re interested.

    Dr. Simeon’s protocol uses the hormone HCG, or Human chorionic gonadotropin.  Normally when you diet you can lose your normal fat reserves (which is good) and your structural fat.  (This is bad, because structural fat is fat your body actually needs.)  Dr. Simeons realized that when a patient was given HCG their stored fat (normally inaccessible) moved to different places on their body.  His theory was that patients taking HCG and eating a restricted calorie diet might be able to burn that stored fat, and that was true.

    I used homeopathic HCG, and it worked great and was very reasonably priced.  Here is how the diet works:

    Phase 2—HCG drops 3x a day (We ignore Phase 1 which was made up by someone else—but everyone calls the starting point of Dr. Simeon’s protocol Phase 2.)

    • first 2 days—eat everything you can, and lots of high fat foods.  This fat loading is to help get through the next 2 days when your body won’t have enough HCG in it yet.
    • next 21-40 days—very low calorie diet.  This sounds extreme and people were just horrified when they heard about it, but I promise after the first 2 1/2 days it wasn’t bad at all.  I had to figure out where during each day it was best for me to eat (the protocol recommends skipping breakfast but my body needs a little protein in the morning) but aside from that it was not a problem.  The HCG definitely keeps you from being hungry—I remember thinking about phase 3 and wondering how I would ever be able to eat 1500 calories a day! 
    • last 3 days—stop taking the HCG but do 3 more low calorie days so that the HCG is out of your system.

    Phase 3—No carbs and no sugars for 3 weeks, but whatever else you want.  This is to help your body’s fat burning mechanism reset so that when the diet is done your don’t store an abnormal amount of fat again.  I’m almost done with this phase and my weight has stayed just the same.  In fact I’ve had to increase what I’m eating some days to keep from losing any more.  (Phase 3 is to stabilize, not to lose more.)

    Phase 4—The last phase is where you gradually reintroduce regular food into your diet, weighing each morning to check your body’s response to the new food.  This way you’ll know what your trouble foods are and be able to be careful eating them.  From everything I’ve heard and read, if you’re moderately active and eat a relatively healthy diet, you are able to maintain this weigh loss. 

    I can’t tell you how excited I am about this.  Having most of my wardrobe not fit has never been such fun!

    Has Harry Potter Been Watching Too Much Glee??

    Last year a rumor sprang up on the internet that there would be sex and nudity in the final Harry Potter movie.  But then, as quickly as it started it died.  Cindy Lynn and I each looked for more info this summer as we became more excited about the upcoming movie, but could only find references from early December, 2009.

    And so we relaxed, stopped worrying about it, and started making plans to go and see Harry Potter 7(a).

    Perhaps a little too soon.

    One of my friends just called with the info that she had heard on a local talk show that the new movie has nudity and is "very sexy."   So back to google I went.

    Here's what I've been able to find.

    First, that Lindsay Lohan is apparently naked everywhere.

    From IMDB:  Other issues include an unusual sequence in which we see a vision, conjured by Voldemort in order to taunt Ron, of an apparently naked Harry and Hermione embracing and kissing. Any detail of nudity is carefully concealed by angles and by the swirling mists of the vision but nudity is strongly implied. This sequence is containable at '12A' where the Guidelines state that 'nudity is allowed, but in a sexual context must be brief and discreet'.

    And from this review in the UK, where the movie opens today:  Now, all of a sudden, Harry’s dancing with Hermoine, and Ron’s jealous, particularly when he has to witness a fantasy (topless!) clinch between his two best friends.


    I could see when I finished the book this weekend just where such a scene would be--but there was no need to include nudity or sex, in my (incredibly humble) opinion.  It just makes me sick.  We have been planning for weeks a family outing to see the movie, and had finally decided that Rachel, Jenna & Jared could come see it with us.  We didn't let them see any of the other movies in the theater, and didn't let them see 5 until this summer after they'd read it with Russ because it was so dark.  But we thought that since they've listened to all of the books now, and they're a little older, they would be ok.

    Guess not.  And it's also quite possible that we won't be buying this one either.

    We'll know more tomorrow, after people in the UK start talking about what really is in the movie.  I'm just sick at this point--hating Hollywood more than ever.  And a little irritated with JK Rowling for not protecting her movie better...

    Does anyone want to trade babysitting while we go preview this movie??

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Blogging Necessities

    I’ve been having a harder time blogging lately, and I think I’ve finally figured out why.  In order to blog, I have to have

    • time enough to write (and I am not a fast writer)
    • an idea
    • mental energy enough to put it all together.

    I’m not sure why, but having the first three all at the same time has been difficult in the last few weeks. 

    It might be because I have really been concentrating on doing the most important things first this fall.  I’m happy to report that 50 % of the time I am 50% successful, which is about 300% better than before! 

    I’ve also been trying to use my time effectively to go through my house, getting rid of things we no longer need and organizing the things we do need.  I’m happy to offer pictures of my newly organized pantry as proof that I have succeeded at (and, more importantly, finished!) least one project.

    November 2010 019 This reorganization was prompted by an awesome sale that enabled me to by 3 dozen cans of Campbells Cream of Chicken soup for 49 cents a can.  (And I’m sorry, I buy a lot of store brands but I don’t care what they say—the campbells soup is better!)  Once I bought the soup and looked in the pantry to see where to put it I realized that

    • there was no room
    • anyone in the pantry during a tornado or earthquake was going to die.

    When I reorganized I went through and checked all of the dates.  Ouch.  After the infamous Ice Storm of 2002 I realized that we really needed to have some food that was edible straight from the can, that didn’t need to be made or baked or messed with other than heating.  So I bought lots of soup and stew and chili…we were ready for another power outage, indeed we were.  It just didn’t happen, and because we don’t normally eat those things (from cans) we never did…and yesterday they went the way of all the earth…(which means into the garbage truck.)

    [Just a note for anyone who, like my sister, is astounded that I threw away food…The chili was at least 8 years out of date—purchased after the ice storm in 2002.  The salad dressing bottles were brown instead of red.  And the stew was bought to be prepared for Y2K!!!]

    As I put things back into the pantry I was careful to put lighter things on the top shelves and the canned foods on the lower shelves.  Hopefully now anyone stuck in there in a tornado will emerge full and alive.

    The pantry reorganization took me more than two days, and taught me again that painful lesson—that the road to organization is sometimes enormously messy.

    November 2010 017 Thankfully Russ and the kids were super good sports about the disaster that was our kitchen for the better part of 2 days!

    Another thing that kept me from blogging recently was baking.  Our ward had a dessert auction last week to help raise money for a sweet man who needs a heart transplant.  I couldn’t figure out at first what to make, and I finally decided to make a trio of cheesecakes:

    A Raspberry Crumb Topped Cheesecake for breakfast,

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    Mini Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecakes for lunch,

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    and a Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake for dinner.

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    I had lots of fun baking but I was sure tired by the time I was done.

    On other fronts, the dehydrator runs day and night, drying apples.  And I eat half of them as soon as they are cool!  I have a solution, though.  I’m going to borrow another dehydrator, so that I can dry twice as many at once.  That way I’ll have some to save and some to eat as well.  (It’ll practically be like having my cake and eating it too…except much more nutritious.)

    Hope you are all enjoying the beautiful fall!

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    Harry, Harry, Harry...


    I finished reading HP7 yesterday, while I was home from church with sick Jared.  I broke my own rule in doing it; normally I only read church stuff on Sunday.  But I had put the book down at 11:30 the night before in the middle of the last battle, knowing I couldn't sleep in late because I had a meeting.  And I just couldn't wait until today to finish it.  Call me weak if you want...it's the truth.

    The ending was more painful and wonderful than I remembered.  (Not that I remembered much, other than the general outcome.)  It was so good that today I've been re-reading the last 200 pages to make up for reading so fast yesterday.

    Saturday night we started our celebration of the upcoming release of HP7(a) with the beginning of our HP movie maratho--HP1.  I had forgotten how perfectly awful (and I do mean perfect!) the Dursley's were, how cute everyone's British accents are, and it was much better than I remembered.  Tonight for family night we're watching #2, and by Saturday we will be watching #6.

    I watched all of the movies over again in preparation for going to see #6 in the theater; most I had only seen once before.  I love being so completely immersed in the world of Harry Potter.  I love the continuity of reading all of the books in a very short time, of watching all of the movies one right after another.  (Though Jared is so disappointed we can't do a Lord of the Rings type marathon and watch all day long--darn school and jobs!)  I love the story of friendship and the triumph of good over evil, even with the sad reminder that that triumph was never achieved without great personal cost.

    I just love Harry Potter!  When are you going to see the new movie???

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    The Other Life I Might Have Had

    Today, in a meeting I attended, a woman shared her personal story. She told of meeting the missionaries when she was 14 and joining the church, and of being the only member of her family in the church.

    “Ah,” I thought, “like my mother.”

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    She told of her love for the gospel, and I thought, “Ah, like my mother.”

    But then her tale diverged from my mother’s.  As adults, her children are not active in the church, a choice she attributes to the fact that their father was not a member of the LDS church.

    In that moment I saw with clarity how different my life could have been.

    If my mother had not been willing to leave her family and go to college with little money, in a place where she knew no one.

    If my mother had not insisted on marrying someone who was also a member of the church, and doing it in the temple; even though this meant that no member of her family could come to the wedding.

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    The results of my mother’s choices and sacrifices are amazing to me.

    6 sons, all returned missionaries.

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    10 kids, active in the church.

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    10 kids, married in the temple.

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    What a legacy she has given us.

     

    Please don’t misunderstand me.  I understand completely that not all temple marriages between LDS people have the same outcome.  I understand that different people get different trials and challenges.  But I also understand that her choices gave us the best chance to become who we are today.  And I saw this morning, sitting in that meeting, how different her life; and by extension, my life, could have been.

     

    It is no wonder that “her children arise up and call her blessed…”

     

    (The pictures were taken after my brother Jeremy’s wedding in 2007.  It was the first time since our mom’s illness in 1998 that we were all together.  Child #2, Margaret, was at the wedding in Washington DC but not able to come to the reception.  And I can’t seem to find any pictures from the wedding…)

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Bye-Bye, Pretty Toes

    I just love summer toes.  Bright and fun, they seem to epitomize the carefree feeling of pool and beach and vacation.

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    I really miss them once it starts to get cold.

    Because once it gets cold they disappear, not to be seen again until well into the spring.

    As much as I love summer toes, I hate cold feet even more.  And so they must be covered.

    Not even in cute socks, which would make it more bearable.

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    But cute socks are not nearly warm enough.  It must be serious socks.  Socks that are thicker and cover the ankle too.

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    And usually, if the truth is to be told, those socks are covered too.  By nice warm slippers.

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    As you can tell, in the winter style pretty much goes out the window too.  It’s all about warm.

    Can I just tell you how glad I am that at least there’s a warm and stylish option for church???

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    (No, they’re not comfortable enough to wear around the house.  Plus they don’t really go with my sweats.)

     

    So, until next summer, goodbye pretty toes.  Stay warm!

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    Looks Like an Addict, Acts Like an Addict, Eats Like an Addict…it’s official, I’m an Addict!

    A few weeks ago Cindy Lynn blogged about dehydrating apples.  I decided that maybe we should try it too, and borrowed an apple slicer/corer and dehydrator from Becky.

    How could I have known the mayhem that would ensue? 

    My name is Cindy, and I am ADDICTED to dried apples.

    I like them with cinnamon, and without.

    I don’t like to eat Gala apples, but I sure like them dried!

    And it turns out my favorite Cameo apples are pretty delish when they’re dried.

    I got curious, and bought a few of every kind of apple.  (Ok, it wasn’t every kind…it was just a lot of kinds!)  Then I put my children to work slicing.  (Just so you know, they beg to slice the apples.)

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    We labeled plates with the type of apples and set them out along the counter for tasting.

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    Everyone liked the Fuji and Braeburn apples.  I was the only one who liked the Honeycrisp apples.  Then we loaded the dehydrator and marked the trays so we’d know which kind was which.

    In the end, I loved all of the dried apples.  The sweet Gala.  The sweet-tart Cameo.  The less tart but still interesting Fuji and Braeburn.  The Staymen that were almost strong enough to knock your socks off. 

    All delicious.

    Yum, yum, yum.

    (Did you know that if you eat too many dried apple pieces you get a mouthful of canker sores??  Yep.  Quite painful, actually.)

     

    P.S.  Yesterday we took a field trip to the farmer’s market to get some more apples.  They had so many varieties!  We bought some Pink Ladies to dry, and also a variety that I’ve not heard of before.  It’s called Candycrisp, and is so sweet and juicy it’s almost to good to be good for you.  Guess what we’re drying today?!?

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    2267 Down, 1831 to Go

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    After thinking about it for the last 3 months (and deciding I didn’t have enough time) I decided 3 weeks ago that I really did want to read all of the Harry Potter books before the new movie comes out.   Fortunately I had already read last months book club book and this month’s as well, so I just dove right in.

    Right now I’m halfway through book 5.  I’d forgotten how much I hate (loathe, despise, detest, get the picture) Delores Umbrage!

    My brain is struggling a little.  Right after Russ finished reading the last HP book to the little kids, Jared started listening to them on cd.  He finished listening to book 6 last week and is on book 7 now.  Quite often he’s listening around me, so I have snatches of his 6 and 7 mixed in with my 4 and 5…

    Oh well, it will all be so much fresher when we watch the new movie!  And oh my goodness, what a treat to just read straight through them without having to wait another year for the next to come out!!