Tuesday, August 17, 2010

An old dog learns a new trick

Last weekend, I found myself YEARNING to do something I never would have guessed would sound appealing to me in the slightest. With the blessing of my sweet husband, who watched the kids, and $12 in my pocket, I went to the movies BY MYSELF.

I went to see Eat, Pray, Love. An appropriate choice for a gal going to the movies alone.

I sat alone in a dark theater. I ate chocolate covered raisins. I didn't talk to anyone. I didn't check my phone. I didn't take anyone to the bathroom. I laughed, I cried, I marveled at Javier Bardem, I craved pizza and I longed for Bali. I was refreshed and replenished.

The movie ended and I went home, hugged my kids, and unloaded the dishwasher. It's amazing how an experience that would have struck terror in my heart as a teenager was exactly what my tired mothering heart needed.

So, to all those moms out there who are going crazy at the end of having a house full of kids all summer, I suggest a solo trip to the movies. Two hours of air-conditioned peace and quiet is bliss.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


We've been enjoying a new hobby this summer... Letterboxing! It's been a great way to get the kids out of the house, enjoy a "treasure hunt" of sorts, find new spots in our own backyard and see old spots in a new way. I was stunned to find that there are over 100 boxes planted within 25 miles of Provo. This little hobby could really keep a gal busy.

Our notebook is filling up with fun and funky hand carved stamps, little pieces of art that reward you at the end of your quest.
The kids have enjoyed deciphering clues, scrambling down paths, searching under rocks, and spending great family time together.

To learn more about the fun, and practically FREE, past-time of Letterboxing, you can visit Atlas Quest or Letterboxing North America.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Thank me now and curse me later

One Sunday a month, my husband's family gets together to celebrate that month's birthdays. With Grandma, Grandpa, aunts, uncles and cousins, we end up with quite a crowd. Last Sunday, we threw the 4th of July into the mix. Our contribution to the party was a fantastic carrot cake. Back in 2005, I found this recipe in InStyle magazine. Everytime I make it I am completely taken aback by how delicious it is. In fact, it is so good that I can only make it once or twice a year. It's the kind of cake you just can't stop picking at. On Sunday, as we cleaned up the kitchen, everyone seemed to keep coming back to take "one last bite."

Because I keep losing the recipe, I'm posting it here so I can always find it. Hope someone out there enjoys it too. (Sorry there's no picture, but by the time I thought about it there was nothing left but crumbs and frosting smears.)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
2 eggs
4 cups grated carrots
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 pkg. (8oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 pkg. (3oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8” cake pans. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into medium bowl. In large bowl beat together sugar, oil and eggs with electric beater on medium, until well blended. Beat flour mixture into egg mixture until just blended. Stir in carrots and coconut (this seems too dry and impossible first, but the more you mix, the more the moisture in the carrots helps the blending and mixing). Evenly divide batter into prepared pans. Bake in heated oven 40-45 minutes, or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pans on wire rack. In medium bowl beat cream cheese and butter until blended with electric beater on medium. Add confectioner’s sugar; beat until mixture is smooth. Add vanilla. Place one cake layer on serving platter. Spread with about ¾ cup frosting. Place second layer on top. Spread top with remaining frosting.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Weekend Edification

This weekend, Meridian School is partnering with the fabulous folks at Pizzeria 712/Communal, to host a film screening and panel discussion about food. (One of my favorite and least favorites topics.) Local chefs and farmers will be there to talk about the nutritionally & environmentally responsible options we have right here in Utah. If you are local, want to come watch a free movie, and hear passionate people talk about what they love, you should stop by.
Go here
or here
for more information. See you there!
Saturday, May 15th, 1-4 p.m.
Meridian School
280 S. 400 E.
Orem UT

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

On Monday, our family sat around the dinner table discussing things that we could each do this week to help the earth. With a 9, 5 and 3 year old, we have lots of willing helpers and eager reminders. Here's the list of things we decided we could do this week.

Dad -- drive his scooter to work, instead of the car. Uses much less gas. Good for the planet and the wallet.

Mom -- remember to actually use all the reusable bags at the grocery store, buy an "eco" dish-soap, walk to school & back 1 time instead of driving, and turn off the temperature control in the house. (Confessions: the walk back and forth to school is a little under 2 miles each way, and there is a really big hill on the way. If it was just me, I might do it more often, but with a stroller and 2 grumpy kids, it's a LONG walk. AND, I turned the heat on this morning. It was snowing and really cold inside. So sue me.)

9 -- be in charge of making sure all the lights are off in rooms that are unoccupied.

5 -- be "The Recycler." (Must be said in "super-hero" voice.) He's been learning about all the things that can be recycled, and even helped Dad take out the big blue recycling can last night.

3 -- make sure the water is turned off after brushing teeth. Can't tell you how many times I find the water running after she brushes her teeth. But not this week.

Tonight, we are going to watch The Story of Stuff and eat leftovers in celebration of Earth Day.

Peace out from Nadia, aka green hippie-chick.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Another post about food

I have loved Jamie Oliver, the Naked Chef, for years. How can you not love a guy who calls himself the naked chef, seriously?

Anyway, a few months ago, my husband told me about how Jamie Oliver won the TED prize this year. (My husband is a TED addict, strange but true.) We sat in front of the laptop and watched Jamie's passionate plea for the health of America's children. It was mesmerizing. That's when I first heard about Jamie's new show here in the US, "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution," and signed his petition supporting getting better food into schools and keeping cooking skills alive. How could I object? You could sign it too...

I've really been enjoying my Friday nights over the past few weeks, watching Jamie's show with my kids. It's made them think a little differently about food, and the importance of eating "stuff that's good for you." It's even made them a little more adventurous. (Baby steps.)

So, if you're like me and don't have much to do on a Friday night, head on over to ABC and watch a little Jamie Oliver. If nothing else, his accent is awesome and he has great phrases that you can substitute for your typical American cuss words.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spring Cleaning

There is always something about Spring that makes me want to clean up, clear out and start fresh. It doesn't last long, but while the feeling is in the air, I plan to take advantage of it.
I'll admit that I'm not much of a homemaker. I don't glory in clean toilets, or feel the need to be able to eat off my kitchen floor. I have to give myself small, focused tasks, and hopefully the sum of those tasks will equal a home that is more orderly, organized and pleasant to be in.
My current mini-task is one kitchen drawer. It's the draw that holds all of our kitchen tools. Not the utensils or small appliances, but all the other stuff; peelers, spoons, spatulas, garlic presses, zesters and so forth. Over our marriage, we have amassed quite a collection. My husband and I always end up getting strange little kitchen do-dads for each other's Christmas stockings each year. The drawer had gotten so full that getting it to close was nearly impossible. But, getting rid of anything seems almost impossible too. I need this stuff.
So, here's how I am tackling my over-abundance of kitchen gadgetry. I emptied the entire drawer into a box. Then, I panicked and put the measuring cups and spoons, can opener, peeler, pizza slicer and ice cream scooper back in the drawer.

Everything else remains in the box. Anything that is taken out of the box to be used during the month of April will go back in the drawer. On May 1st, the box and any of it's remaining items will be taken to DI.

Now, off I go to make a meal plan that will require me to use all my stuff.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bullet Post

- It's spring, which means that it's birthday time in our house. We've celebrated two of the three kids birthdays in the last 2 weeks. You know you have birthdays that are close together when you end up throwing away half a birthday cake because everyone is tired of cake. Must remember to post birthday pics and such on the other blog.

- When parents get sick, dad always ends up being the sicker of the two. Never-mind that mom had to clean the house, do mountains of laundry, host a birthday party, teach primary music, and care for a sick three-year old of the most unpleasant kind, all whilst suffering from a sore throat that made eating, speaking and yawning unbearable, running a low-grade fever, and being so exhausted that sitting on the couch immediately led to snoring. No, now that dad is sick, mom's complaints from the last week are paltry compared to the raging fever, bone-wracking chills, and puss encrusted throat that dad is suffering from. Hmph.

- Laundry is a thankless task. Especially now that everyone is potty-trained and changing their own clothes, multiple times a day. (Someone please tell me why, once a child is potty trained, they feel the need to change their pants 6 times a day, even when they are perfectly clean?) Also, now that soccer season is upon us, the coach has twice as much laundry each day. All that being said, laundry has two great perks. (Don't tell my family.)

  1. Everyone else hates to do laundry, so they leave me alone as I sort, load, fold and put away. Blissful time, all by myself.
  2. I claim all treasures I find in the laundry as my own. I can do whatever I want with them. That means all toys, drawings, rocks, paperclips and other such treasures get dumped in the trash. And, all money found in mine. Look at how I cleaned up this week.

$4.12, a hair clip, a tiny key, a pistachio shell (can't figure that one out since we haven't had pistachios in the house since NY), a stack of business cards (anyone want to send their kids to a great little independent school, just call my husband) and a paperclip. Awesome.

- There's nothing like a good romance novel (or 6) to keep stress at bay. Well, that and diet coke. We have a big chair in our master bedroom, next to a sunny window. There's nothing that makes a day seem a little brighter than 20 minutes in that chair with a frosty cold diet coke, a blanket on my lap, and a little romance between a viscount and a governess (for example.)

- I'm thinking of planting a small garden this Spring. Our ward has a garden, and we have a small plot reserved for our use. The kids are jazzed about digging in the dirt and watching things grow, but I'm wondering if planting a garden, with just their help, is a little more than I can handle. As a total gardening novice, will I only end up spending money and time on a piece of dirt that will give forth... nothing? Looking for gardening tips of the most basic variety.

Friday, February 26, 2010

That's just the way it is

When you get all jazzed up and start feeling cocky about having your youngest child potty-trained, well, just beware. That's the day when your soon-to-be 5 year old will sneak into your bed in the middle of the night, and empty his bladder. Unpleasant, to say the least.

There's nothing like kids to take you down a notch. Off to put the clean sheets on my bed!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Smells like ...

Not too long ago, I was putting myself to bed one night when I caught a whiff of a nasty smell. I stopped, sniffed, and sniffed again. The smell was gone. I sat on the edge of my bed and tried to decide if this was a phantom smell or an actual smell. I suffer from a highly sensitive, yet highly inaccurate, sense of smell.

A trip down memory lane.... When I was six, I was enjoying a lovely afternoon of Barbie playing (undressing, if we're being honest) when a wonderful aroma filled my room. Roasted marshmallows, yum. I sat on my floor, surrounded by teeny-tiny clothes, waiting for my Mom to call me into the kitchen for an afternoon snack of s'mores (this seemed perfectly likely in my six-year-old mind) until I realized that my curtains were ablaze. My nose knew that something was up, but was totally unable to determine that it was my scorched red, gingham curtains and not marshmallows that I was smelling.)

Years later, my nose still behaves in much the same fashion. That evening last week, I sat and smelled ... something. I buried my face in the bedding, I stuck my nose in every corner, I bent close to the toilet in our adjoining bathroom, but could not locate the smell. My husband wandered into the room as I was hyperventilating into our pillow shams. "Do you smell that?" I asked. (Foolish of me, I know. My husband, lovely as he is, can't smell a dirty diaper if it's sitting on him. Hence, all the poopy diapers he avoided for years, until I just starting saying "the baby is poopy, you need to change her.") He shrugged and replied, "maybe, I guess." I did what I could, and scrubbed the toilet before going to bed.

Waking up the next morning, I took a deep breath, and (hallelujah) things smelled fine. I went about my day and thought nothing of it. That evening, I sat on the bed and smelled "it" again. I repeated the whole search process; smelling the bed, smelling the bathroom, looking for dirty diapers (thankfully, didn't find any) and decided that the stench must be coming from the potty chair in our bathroom. The thing had been getting one heck of a work out. (Gotta love potty training!) So, I blasted the thing with Clorox, removed it to the hallway, and then sprayed Lysol around our bathroom. With the pleasant scent of chemicals burning in my nose, I went to bed.

The next day dawned bright, and stinky. I pulled all the linens off the bed and washed them in hot water. ( I never wash in hot water, it hurts my eco-conscience.) I scrubbed garbage cans. I vacuumed. I scoured the toilet (again.) And still, I smelled "it"... at least I thought I did.

I gave up. In the early evening, my darling, oldest girl came downstairs and boldly announced "Mom, your bedroom smells like poo." My sense of validation was enormous.

"I know, I've been trying to figure out what it is for days. I think something must be wrong with the pipes. Maybe there's a dead animal in the walls...." I was a manic, stink-obsessed, conspiracy-theory convinced, crazy woman.

Calmly, my husband challenged our daughter. "I'll give you a dollar if you can figure out what stinks up there."

In less than 3 minutes, she was back with a rotten-milk filled, sippy cup (which had leaked under the trunk at the foot of our bed) demanding her dollar.

And that's reality. There are all sorts of motivating factors in life; good housekeeping, clean air, hygiene, quality of life. But one thing trumps them all... cold, hard cash. After three days of nasal and mental anguish, it all came down to an eight-year-old's desire to earn a buck. Ah, who cares? At least my room doesn't stink anymore.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Moments of Joy

I'll admit to feeling a little "ho-hum" lately, so I thought I'd reflect on some of the things that have made me happy this past week. And so, in no particular order, I present my "moments of joy."

Although I'm not a runner, "Born to Run" makes me wish I was. Christopher McDougall does a fantastic job interweaving the story of "the run" with the back story and research behind endurance running. (I also enjoyed reading it on the Kindle. That's one cool little toy.)

I started watching this Masterpiece Classics version of Emma last Sunday. The setting, costumes, and casting are all delightful. I can't wait to see more tomorrow.
My husband and I joined two other couples for Dinner Club at P712 on Tuesday. The company was fun and the food was amazing. It was particularly cool to have the chance to talk to true food artists, and hear about their philosophy on eating.

We're potty training (again) in our house this week, and nothing makes me happier than hearing the music playing from this little potty. Music = potty success! We've been hearing lots of music, but I've also done a little more laundry than usual. Totally worth it if this means that my diaper changing days are numbered.

I'm trying to drink a little less diet coke. Sniff. So, in the few quiet moments of the day when I normally would crack myself open a silver bullet, lately I've been turning on the kettle and steeping myself a lovely cup of peppermint tea. There is something so civilized about the ritual of tea. Shall I learn to make scones and clotted cream?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I bid farewell to Late Night TV

Without Conan tempting me, I guess I'll be going to bed earlier now. I have a hard time feeling like that's a good thing. The adults in our house will be anxious to see what Mr. O'Brien does next.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Old Hag

The year I turned 30 was a pretty rough year. I discovered I was pregnant with baby #3. Nine months later, after bed rest, IVs, zofran pumps and trying to hold down a full-time job, we had a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Through all that, I got old. Grey hairs started popping out, my skin was completely unrecognizable to me, and (thanks to 3 c-sections) my figure was shot.

That was three years ago, and I still feel old. So, now I'm on a quest to recover my youth. Yes, I'll admit that sounds slightly dramatic. Forgive me.

Luckily, my wonderful sister-in-law is great with hair color --goodbye greys! Our treadmill is getting a good deal more use, so hopefully that will help fix the figure (and my energy levels, while I'm at it.) So, I'm left dealing with that alien skin. Since our move to Utah last summer, I've been vigilant with moisturizer and sunblock. But, I need to repair the damage done by a childhood spent under the tropical Indonesian sun. I got myself a product that promises visible results in 14 days. So, here's a picture of day 1. Let's see how I look in 2 weeks.

No, I don't really have an orange stripe in my hair. Fluorescent lights do strange things....

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Fuss About Food

I made a lovely meal plan for the week on Monday morning. I spent a little extra time considering what I had in the cupboards, and made my plan based on things that I already had on hand. Imagine that. After making my shopping list, I got the kids off to school, packed the youngest into the car, and off we headed to the grocery store (the one with the trucks.) I've decided that the fact that the groceries are slightly more expensive is OK with me because the truck shopping-cart makes my time at the store with an obnoxious almost three year old, slightly easier.

We had an ideal trip. I found everything on my list for a week's worth of dinners and we had no melt-downs. We were out of the store in 30 minutes having only spent $48, and having only purchased things that were on my list.

Oh, it all started so well.

We are now on day three of the week, and so far I have made ONE of my planned meals. And the kids hated it. They ate Cheerios for dinner (and I've been finding those crunched up little buggers all over the house ever since.) I'm so tired of fixing meals that three of us will eat, while the other two have peanut butter on bread.

There we have it, my kids are picky eaters. But, not in any normal way. My oldest loves calamari and broccoli, but would rather DIE than eat corn or a hamburger. My boy adores Chinese food and mujhadra (a middle eastern lentil & rice dish) but refuses to sit at the table if macaroni and cheese (even the awesome homemade stuff) is being served. And then there's that littlest one.... she just doesn't eat. Her entire diet consists of yogurt, ham, pirate's booty, bread (but don't you dare toast it or put butter on it) and water. Sometimes, she'll beg me for an apple (cut up, no peels) and after all that effort will look disparagingly at it, and attempt to throw it in the garbage. She's 27 puny pounds of obstinance.

Every once in a while, the stars will align and I'll create a meal that everyone likes. (The last time it was chicken & broccoli stir fry, but that's no assurance that if I make the exact same thing again anyone will eat it.) Even when that miraculous event occurs, I'll be half way through loading up the dishwasher after dinner and someone will come in and utter my two least favorite words in the English language, "I'm hungry." AAAAAAHHHHHH.

I'll admit that from time to time I'll read the blog of another woman who has young children, and I'll hear about them eating salmon or Swiss chard and how much they LOVE it, and I think, "yeah, right."

So, here's my question to the universe at large. How do you feed your children nutritious meals that all of them will actually eat? And then, to make matters all the more complicated, how do you lose weight while doing so? Inquiring minds want to know.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Am I Back in the Saddle?

Let us just ignore the fact that it has been an age since my last post, shall we? My first year with this little blog has been hit and miss, but I do find a certain sense of comfort in knowing that it is here. A little place for my thoughts to rest. Unfortunately, it seems I haven't had many lately.

With the new year upon us, I am optimistic and hopeful that my tiny little corner of the blogosphere will become a more active place. I know that will make my mother happy. (Hi, Mom.)

Like the rest of you out there, I have been contemplating the multitude of possible New Year's Resolutions that I could make for 2010. How much weight to lose? How many books to read? How much to exercise? How much TV to cut out? How to be a better mom? How to be a better wife?

I've decided that my resolutions all boil down to one mega-resolution. For the year 2010, my resolution is ... to pay attention.

I figure that will cover everything from catching my almost 3 year old BEFORE she scribbles all over the couch with a Sharpie again to feeding my kids less fast-food; from hopefully gaining a little control over my health to gaining a little more control over my happiness.

With this resolution firmly in mind, I'm off to start the dishwasher and put myself to bed early. Starting small.