Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The American Red Cross

Image. WWI. American Red Cross Poster.Since 1881 this volunteer run humanitarian organization has been running into disaster, providing emergency relief, teaching dingbats like me CPR, offering shelter, gathering blood products, collecting money at Christmas, giving support to American military families, etc. When you want to talk charity, they are the super charity!  At this time of political unrest, natural disaster, economic uncertainty they are working tirelessly on. Turns out it is really easy to help them.  They have this amazing website.  Two clicks and you can donate money to Japan.  Three clicks and you can donate blood.  Four clicks and you can become a volunteer.  Got to love it.
Haiti Earthquake 2010

Monday, March 28, 2011

Downtown Abbey

Those who truly know me know that I love all things English, especially all things English Mystery.  But sometimes you have to take a break from mysteries.  I've been watching this little gem and it has been delightful.  The family and house staff dynamics, the backbiting, the clothes, the hair, the whole thing has been delightful.  So glad they are doing a second series and so grateful for Masterpiece!  My favorite Characters:  Dowager Countess of Grantham, Anna Smith, and Lady Sybil Crawley.

The Whole Truth...

For anyone who missed it in the previous post we are going to Indianapolis.  Houses are being looked at boxes are being packed.  In less than three months this family will have moved on.  My sister questioned the wisdom of putting the  video of Dr. J up.  She said his initial shock made her want to cry.  I will admit that I briefly debated.  There is a pressure on blogs to keep them positive to almost a fault.  "I love my husband who is the most handsome, smart, hardworking, helpful man alive.  I love my children who are the smartest, most obedient, best looking Gap models, quickest to walk, talk, and learn their ABC's.  I never feel better than when I'm pregnant, nursing, waking up with my triplets fifty times a night.  My photographs are always divine, my cooking sublime, my taste in clothes make me a living shrine!"  I love blogs.  They give me great ideas and inspiration.  I love keeping mine, but it is also my journal.  My life is good and I am happy but that doesn't mean that bad stuff doesn't happen, that life always goes the way I plan, that life doesn't have stress, that I never yell at my children, that my husband and I never disagree, or that I am never disappointed.  As my journal I want my blog to be a true reflection of me and so that's why you got that video nugget.  This is my life and that is the whole truth!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kids versus Zombies

We probably play a little too much Plants versus Zombies.  The kids have invented several real life, real time ways to play the game in our home.  I take comfort in the fact that when a zombie virus spreads over the planet my children will be prepared to fight off the plaque with genetically modified plants.  Real life lessons people, real life lessons!

Crunchy Garlic Chicken

I decided to start with something classic and simple, crunchy chicken, who hasn't made it.  Jamie's recipe, 241, it is quick, easy, and all kids love it.  This particular recipe is delish!  It calls for plain crackers which I just never seem to have around, so I replaced it with a slice of toasted bread.  I mean who doesn't have bread.  You could pan fry or bake, I choose to break.  What was different?  Well for one, fresh parsley and a garlic clove food processed with the bread crumbs.  It made for a great flavor.  I was worried that Captain E would reject the chicken outright because the flecks of green on it.  Nope, instead he said and I quote, "This is the best thing I've ever eaten."  G bear took one bite and said, "Sweet."  Peach said, "Yum, yum."  Total prep with cooking, 30 minutes!  I paired it with a yummy salad.  Jamie does a pick and mix style p. 118, pick a soft, crunchy, herby, veggie, cheese, and topping.  Dressing p. 106, 1/3 cup yogurt, 2 tablespoons of red vinegar, 1 tablespoon virgin olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper...put in the jar, add a lid, and shake.  It isn't ranch but it is simple, decent, and a good use of my homemade yogurt.  Overall it was a yummy meal. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Have I Lost My Mind...

I've never been much of an athlete.  I was a chubby, sweaty, uncoordinated kid who during PE spent most of my time trying to hide in the bleachers or the outfield.  During the bi-yearly presidential test I could never run the full mile or do a single chin up.  My proclivity to duck and hide when an object was headed my way made me rubbish at all team sports.  In junior high I had a few years of being a decent basketball player, but that can mainly be chalked up to the fact that I was 5'7'' at 12 and it took both the girls a boys a few years to catch up.  By high school I'd completely quit trying.  I took the one year of required PE in which my coach would spend a significant amount of time yelling at me and my friends to, "get off your a*%&$ and move".  My college required 2 credits of PE which I fulfilled doing an online health class, for which I was required to walk three times a week.  Sports just really weren't my thing.  Then I married an athlete.  My husband took third place in the Utah State Wresting Championships two years in a row. (He's informed me on multiple occasions that he could have easily beat the kid who took second but that's not the way bracketing sports work ; ).  He's the kind of guy who used to take six mile jogs in the afternoon for fun.  He is a gazelle to my hippo.  In our early marriage years he'd encourage me to ride a bike along side him as he ran or to lift weights with him at night while we were watching TV.  Since then I've gotten more into exercise but I'm still not particularly good at it.  That being said, I'm pretty sure I'm going to sign up for a 10K being held in my town April 30th.  The last two years in a row I've watched my friends run Marathons on that day.  It's been exciting and the hype of the event fills the entire town.  Last year I thought, "why haven't I tried to run"....not the Marathon of course because that would be nutso!  To my sister and my friends Bruce, Jason, and Kristin who ran last year.  Congrats!  To my friends Nancy and Kara who are planning to run this year, you are awesome!  But for me personally, THERE IS NO WAY, EVER!!!!  But I still want to participate in the hype, and since they run multiple distance races on the day, six weeks or so ago I thought, why not run the 5K.  So one day at the gym I started to jog.  I made it a mile without dying but thought, "why am I planning on doing this again?".  The next day I went 1.5.  At the end of the week I was up to 2.0.  I called my sister and said, "Hey I ran 7.5 miles this week.  I'm pretty sure that's more than I've run the entire last two years."  The next week I ran 8.  With nine weeks to go I ran 2 on a Monday, 2.5 on a Wednesday, and then 3.0 on a Friday.  It was the moment that I realized it would be totally possible for me to jog my way through a 5K but wondered, "Would it be possible for me, the hippo [graceful in the water, retched on land :)] to do a 10K."  My sister signed my brother in law (my partner in chubby crime) up for a 10K.  Maybe it is possible, and since this year the 5K has to run the night before the marathon it would definitely be more fun.  I went online and found an eight week training sheet for a 10K with a first week that had you run 2, 2, 2.5, and I thought, "Yes this is totally possible."  And so that is how today I find myself having run 3.5 miles the furthest distance that this water loving animal has every gone, which contrary to what I would have imagined feels PRETTY DARN GREAT!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

eShakti Review

Part of being a Mormon is following a certain code of modesty (ie, wearing sleeves, dresses to your knees, neck and back lines that aren't plunging).  The comeback of capris was a lifesaver to Mormon woman but since not all styles off the rack are so forgiving plenty of businesses have grown up to cater to our needs.  We have embraced slips and undershirts to be shown, tiny sweaters to cover arms, and you can find us wearing leggings under our shorts as well as our skirts.  It allows us to follow some of the trends of the time but have a distinct style all our own.  For the most part I'm grateful.  Thank you Shade shirts for letting me wear off the rack dresses and capris for keeping me from burning up in the summer.  That being said sometimes I just want to wear something without having to worry about the extra layers I'm going to use for my "Mormon Problem Areas".  Enter eShakti.  A couple of months ago my friend Nancy mentioned a site that for a nominal fee would allow you to customize your clothing.  I read some mixed reviews about the site but I really need something cute for Dr. J's graduation and so I decided to give try it out on a spring dress, thinking that if that worked I could use them for the graduation attire.  The dress I picked had no sleeves, something normally I'd either not even consider or have to use a Shade to deal with.  This time I just added sleeves when I ordered. 

The cost of customizing a dress...7.50.  You can change the neckline, length, and sleeves for that price.  You can order normal sizes, 0-26, or you can specify your actual measurements, my arms are this many inches, my waist is this many, etc.  The dress is sort of a disaster.  I mean seriously, I'm at an all time high in my chunkiness, why did I order something with so much fabric and ruffles, and while I ordered something with color because I'm sick of my entire closet being black and brown, I'm not going to lie, I miss a dark color...that being said, the workmanship was great!  The sleeves look like they were always intended to be part of the dress.  The service was fast.  The cost reasonable.  The amount of choices amazing.  They have tons of great styles on the site and by allowing you to change aspects like sleeves, color, and length they give you access to almost limitless styles.  They also send e-mails each month offering money off new orders.  While there is a disadvantage to not being able to try stuff on (yes that would have probably helped me avoid looking like a cupcake :) I enjoy the option of being able to make decisions from home.  Also returns are easy and if you choose to get a gift card instead of cash back they'll refund you 20% higher than the price of the dress make up for some of the lost cost in shipping.  I've read some reviews of people who didn't like the results but for me it worked and I'll be using them again.

If you want to try them, my referral code CrysSlade51 will get you $20 off your order, plus the first time you customize a dress they'll do it for free waving the normal 7.50 fee.  In full disclosure I get a referral credit if you buy using that code so if that makes you uncomfortable you can usually find other coupon codes online.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Not Even Two...

and she speaks in volumes.  My two oldest children took their time learning the language of their parents.   They reveled in being the baby, having grunts and smiles be answered with more food or drink.  Dislike what your parents are saying, just turn away and act like you never heard.  For months the only world Captain E would use was no.  Gigi was no better.  Painfully, when they couldn't take the misunderstandings any longer they finally began to speak.  Perhaps because there are people living in the house much more fun than mom and dad, Peach is the complete opposite.  There isn't a word that she doesn't imitate.  Size is immaterial to the words she decides to include in her vocabulary.  She likes them all and has been blessed with the ability to understand most of them.  Within weeks of her first word she started trying her hand at sentences.  A bugger on her finger, "Ewww, that's disgusting."  Today she wanted to watch a movie.  She came up to me, "Momma I want to watch a movie."  When I didn't instantly reply she said it again, "I want to watch a movie."  Dr. J and I cracked up.  What happened to the words "movie, movie" with some grunting and frantic hand motions.  I long ago gave up on keeping list of her most recently acquired words but it is still fun to occasionally stop and process how far she's come.  It is of course is a bittersweet pill.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Please Be My Friend...

At Gigi's preschool they occasionally ask us if we'd be willing to let her participate in studies done by the University.  Most recently they contacted us about a study involving me.  In return for a few surveys, stories, and submitting myself to an EEG, all of which took about 2 hours, they'd give me $50.  It seemed like a win.  Dr. J watched the kids and I trucked myself over to the psychology building.  I instantly felt connected to the researcher and her assistant.  They were funny, intelligent, and lively.  The set up of the EEG was tedious and we had plenty of time to chat.  It was invigorating but I found myself stumbling over my words.  What was the research I used to do, my degree, what does my husband study, what was it like to live in Jordan, how do I feel about current conditions in the middle east, where do I want to end up, what books am I currently reading?  No talk about church or children my go to subjects 90% of the time.  After the research was done we took a few minutes to chat about living in our area, the places we grew up, and the oddities of those areas, how much we wish we had a Trader Joe's.  I was finally getting into a groove but at times still found myself puttering around.  It's as if all the workbooks, kids books, joke books, Word World, potty dance talk, reprimands, counting, ABC's, Don't Spill the Beans, Ice Breakers, kids music has turned my mind to mush.  After nine years of marriage my husband has become a master tailor at sewing the pieces of my gobble gook together.  I can give him shreds and he can come out with a full picture quilt.  These woman forced me to put together coherent thoughts, ones that could be understood without a shared history.  As I walked out the door I wanted to turn around and say, "Please be my friend.  I promise I'll work on my conversation skills."  It isn't to say I don't love my children or my church or my church friends for that matter, I desperately do,  but I felt a mental flourish at being forced into conversations outside of that part of my history.  Even moms need space to grow occasionally. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gigi Art

One of the best things about art projects that you don't have to clean up after :)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Pop Culture First Grade Style

Captain E was playing Mario Brothers, the level that has the beavers that pop out of the walls.  Out of the blue he says, "I'm going to get you Justin Beavers."  Dr. J who happened to be sitting downstairs asked, "You call them Justin Beavers?"  E says, "Yeah I call them Justin Beavers because there really is a person whose name is Justin Beavers and Gloria thinks he's real hot and she's only in first grade."  We got a good laugh over that.  Then Captain E came up stairs and when I pulled up the picture on the left I said, "here is the guy Gloria thinks is cute."  E gives me an incredulous look and says, "No she doesn't say he's cute, she says he's hot.  That's what you say when you want marry someone mom."  How true my son, how true :)

*picture stolen from

Friday, March 4, 2011

Hot-Pink Breakfast Smoothie

For my nieces birthday....little A wants a drink that is pink and her mom wants one that healthy.  This is Robyn Openshaw's, the Green Smoothie Girls recipe.

1 1/2 cup coconut liquid
1 large carrot, cleaned and cut into 3 pieces (or 5-6 baby carrots)
1/4 or a medium beet, raw, peeled
1/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup chopped dates
2 tsp. vanilla
12 frozen strawberries

optional: 1-2 tbs. hemp protein or Sun Warrior brand fermented brown rice protein powder
optional: 2 Tbsp. kefir or yogurt

Puree all ingredients except the strawberries and hemp protein in your high-power blender for 90 seconds.  Add the strawberries and puree on high until smooth.  Add the hemp protein for the last 5 seconds.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Jamie and Me

My personal life revolves around hunger.  I wake each morning with an empty stomach because my three baby birds are squawking to be fed.  I climb out of bed and feed them.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, planning, buying, preparing, eating, cleaning up after...FOOD RULES MY LIFE!  There was a time when I actual enjoyed food, but nine years of being the major procurer and preparer in my home has left me in a lurch.  Peanut butter and jelly, quesadillas, pancakes, green smoothies, spaghetti, tacos, cereal, stir fry, salad, hummus, pizza.  We eat the same seven or eight things almost constantly.  If I ask the kids what they want their answers will be pizza, chicken nuggets, or eggs.  If I ask Dr. J, ninety percent of the time he will say stir fry or pasta.  WE NEED AN INTERVENTION!  I tried making dhal and naan using some online recipes I found.  At best you could describe my attempts as bland.  A friend suggested I grab Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.  Today I picked it up and found three new recipes I'm willing to try this week and so here it is, Jamie and Me, a blatant rip off of The Julie and Julia Project only much simpler because let's face it I'm never going to be up to Julia Child's cooking caliber or for that matter Julie Powell's writing and daily blog prowess .  Also only three people are ever going to read it.  You guys know who you are!  I need a lift though and I'm hoping Jamie can bring it. 

What I need from a cookbook:
-Food affordability.  There is only a certain amount of money to spend each month.
-Quality ingredients and Health.  Whole food, home prepared, lots of veggies, fruits, variety, and organic are important to me.
-Easy.  I hate when cookbooks are hard to follow.
-Availability of ingredients.  Three kids mean I only want to shop once a week at one store.  If they don't have what I need them I'm out of luck.  Recipes that take too many fancy ingredients or fancy equipment aren't for me. 
-Limited prep and cook time.  Who wants to be in the kitchen forever?
-Taste.  Who wants to eat something that taste like hud.  I don't and there is no way I could force my three baby birds to either!

Jamie save me!  Take this stay at home mom out of her rut!  Interested in his movement, check it out here.  Thanks to April, who is a cooking and cook book fiend, for cluing me in.


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