April 28, 2010

The Best Part

I thought the best part of doing laundry was finding my mail box keys that have been missing for a week. But then I found out that the better part was that when I was moving my clothes from the washer to the dryer that I found my car keys that have been missing for 3 days. But to top that off, my remote to open the car doors, which has been a little fickle of late, didn't get ruined by going through the wash but now is squeaky clean and works like a charm.

But I think the BEST part and biggest relief has been that our rental house really did sell. This has been such a huge blessing and tender mercy. I'm excited that our lives will be just a little less complicated. As a record of this latest journey...

Day 1: House listed. 
Day 2: Two offers submitted. 
Day 3: Negotiation and acceptance of one of the offers. 
Day 7: Inspection. 
Day 8: Appraisal. 
Day 21: Tenant moved out and left the house clean.
Day 25: Papers signed.
Day 28 Deal closed. 
Day 29 Loan funded. 



This was painless. Truly. Such a great experience. Especially considering last time we tried to sell it and failed miserably. And even though we aren't making as much as we had hoped for when the housing market was stronger, at least we're not in the hole. We are actually making just enough to cover our tax liability for 2009 (ugh). Don't even get me started on taxes. The burden is heavy, especially for small business owners.

April 26, 2010

Crumble Bread

I don't think there is any better scent than that of freshly baked bread. Last night I put all the ingredients into my bread maker and set the timer for it to complete at 6:30 this morning. I was not disappointed. As I lay in bed this morning trying to decide whether I wanted to get up or not, it beckoned to me to come and get a slice.


This loaf of bread takes the prize for my bread maker creations. Sorry Bunny Bread!  I was experimenting with my alternative flours and I got a product that just does not work for sandwiches.


Note to self: substituting even a little bit of coconut flour for regular flour, I must supervise the entire process. Perhaps, it would have worked in a smaller quantity. There are three cups of regular flour here and one cup of coconut flour. Maybe 1/2 cup or 1/4 cup would be better...coconut flour has no gluten, which is what holds the bread together. I hypothesized that the end result may be a little crumbly. But I thought the high gluten content of my other flours would override and at least I'd get a real loaf.

Ha ha. Now I'm wondering what I can make with crumbles...maybe it could top a casserole or cobbler. I really like the taste...just not the form.

April 25, 2010

Second Shot

On Wednesday, I got my second low dose allergy therapy shot (LDA). My local reaction on my arm was much better than last time, which I was happy about. Another upside is that the restricted diet the day before, day of and day after the shot helps move me from one weight plateau to the next. I am now officially within 3-5 pounds of my high school weight. Yay! The downside is that every food looks good to me even if I don't particularly even like it regularly. How can something be mouth watering just because I shouldn't have it? That clues me in to how much the brain controls eating. At a certain point, I think the brain can overcome the temptation so it doesn't matter anymore.

Remember that list of my allergy foods that I posted here? Well, it turns out that my body carries antibodies in varying degrees to them and I have the possibility for delayed allergic reactions. My reactions aren't terrible. I've been living with them my entire life. But while I kick my terrible grass allergy, I may as well attack the foods at the same time. So for 3 weeks after my shot, I should avoid these foods as my body rewires my immune system. Phew! That's a relief. Avoiding wheat, gluten, eggs, chicken, yeast, tomato, etc. for 3 weeks isn't near as bad as avoiding them altogether.

Aloha Nu Certified Organic Coconut Flour, 32-Ounce Bag

I must give credit to my family as I experiment with alternative flours. Tonight it was coconut flour, which is tastes delicious and smells divine. The problem is that it doesn't act like regular wheat flour and so cannot be used as a one-to-one substitute for flour in recipes. I'm hoping that in the upcoming weeks/months I will actually learn to cook/bake with a variety of flours and that it'll taste good in its own right and not just as a wheat or gluten-free product. And why aren't there any culinary classes that teach this stuff? I'd like to take an alternative flour cooking class...and maybe combine it with chemistry lessons. I probably would've paid attention in high school chemistry if we were using baking products instead of random chemicals. ha ha ha

April 21, 2010

Please Get Down

Dear Sweet Jocelyn,
Please get down from the counter. You can't be that sneaky when I'm just a few feet away. Did you know I actually put the knives in the cupboard so that they will be out of your sight and reach? It is not okay to dump them out, even though you wanted to help me cook. And while it's cute that you try to help clean up, it's also pretty scary. So when I take the chair away from you, please don't replace it with the stool or push your high chair closer. Dumping out a toy box and turning it upside down to make your own stool isn't funny, either. I know you like to climb and are so clever and creative. BUT, some help on your part (even the tiniest bit) to keep you safe would be appreciated. Otherwise, I'll have to permanently lock you in your high chair. And that would be so sad. :o(
Much love,
Your Mother

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April 20, 2010

First Grade Acceptance

Elliott has been enthralled with books at an early age. For his 3rd birthday, we gave him a packet of 4 books. At 10 pm on that birthday night, Tymon went in to turn out the light and Elliott just held up one hand with a finger raised as if to say, just hold on Dad, and he went back to being engrossed in the book. He slept with at least one of those books every night for several months. I still catch him up reading long after his brothers have fallen asleep.

The roller coaster involved in getting Elliott enrolled has had some major up and down swings.
  • Yay! he got into kindergarten for the '09-'10 school year during registration last March.
  • Boo! that the school realized he was too young the week before school started.
  • Yay! he passed the early entrance test.
  • Boo! They said it didn't matter how smart and socially adjusted he is, he was still too young.
  • Yay! I got him into a pre-K/K class at a Montessori school.
  • Boo! the administrator doesn't think 4 year olds should be in kindergarten, either (but at least they'll teach them at whatever level they're at).
  • Yay! for Elliott. Reading up a storm. Loving school. Learning about plants and the solar system. Writing reports on Africa and it's biomes. Learning the word biome. Incredible.
  • Yay! for registration this year.
  • Boo! for the extra hassle proving that Elliott is capable of first grade work and beyond.
  • Yay! for the letter that awaited me in the mailbox this afternoon saying he could enter first grade.
  • Boo! for the "clarification" that my son is too young to be intellectually stimulated.
  • Yay! the school rarely ever tells an early entrance kid they can't continue.
  • Yay! we will save a bucket load on tuition EVERY month next school year that we aren't paying for private school. 
  • Yay! We can pay off some debts faster.
  • Yay! for persistence!
I'm very curious to know how I will be able to use this experience in the future. Besides running for the school board, there must be something else. Some greater principle I haven't yet grasped. Yes, I have some ideas...but Heavenly Father has unexpected ways of shaping us into who he needs us to be. 

April 17, 2010

Broken Heart

My heart is broken for another family right now. The 5 year old grandson of one of our driving instructors was hit while his father was backing out of the driveway. The tears flow as I think about the devastation this family is experiencing. Their missing and longing. The what if's. The questions. The why me's. Being totally stunned. Disoriented. The same thoughts and feelings I had back then, with Evan, surface now as an extension of my own pain. I ache for their loss as I ache for my own.

Before Evan, I didn't know profound grief. And I definitely didn't react this way when I heard sad stories in the past. My tears shed deeper now. There are very few pivotal points in a person's life. Life changing and defining. Where everything traces back to the before X happened and the after.

I came across this video today. I heard it originally not long after Evan died. Sometimes it takes a little time and space to want to take an eternal perspective...and more time to adopt it. As I listen tonight, I am now (nearly 19 months later) more readily able to
1. learn to laugh,
2. seek for the eternal,
3. understand compensation, and
4. trust in the Father and the Son.

April 15, 2010

Giveaway

Inspired by Andrea who was inspired by this blog and finding it necessary to tidy up the Johns-mobile, I made my own litter bag. Please visit my driving blog for details on how YOU can win one of my hand made organizational beauties. And for all of you wonderful readers outside of the U.S., don't worry. I will mail the prize internationally. Yay!

April 13, 2010

Vancouver Temple

Saturday, I took my kids and met up with my brother and his family for a day trip to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival and to Canada for the Open House of the new temple.






Highlights of the day:
1. Seeing 100 cars illegally parked on the shoulder at the tulip fields.
2. Easily finding a fabulous parking spot on said shoulder.
3. Eating the best sandwiches on the best bread in existance while absorbing the tulips.
4. Touring the new temple in Vancouver (Langley), British Columbia.
5. The boys LOVING the temple.
6. Sun going down and odd lighting for most of our photos.
7. Having dessert (Tim Horton's donuts and hot chocolate) before dinner.

Lowlights of the day:
1. Seeing a cop writing $275 tickets for illegally parking.
2. Having to run across a tulip field to fetch my brother to move the car before we got said tickets.
3. Traffic was a BEAST! It took us one hour to get to the freeway from the tulip fields. (That's 2-3 mile distance.)
4. Dirt in my car.
5. Chasing down a very wiggly Jocelyn in nearly every room of the temple.
6. Chubby Chicken's chicken.
7. Driving home drowsy. (For the full story with scary/humorous part at the end, see my driving blog.)

April 11, 2010

Loss

When I caught up with my husband on Friday evening, he asked me if I knew that my uncle's house had burned down. He had read it on my cousin's Facebook status update. What?! Are you kidding me? I called my mom. We are talking about her brother after all. My mom hadn't heard about it and made some calls. There was something about working on a motorcycle. A gas spill. A spark. Thankfully, no one was hurt. (Video link of the fire filmed by a neighbor.)


My first impression was that it would be terrible to lose everything, but it shifted to thinking about the positive. Now they can build a new dream home. This is an opportunity to start again. They live across the street from a lake and host the family's annual Independence Day BBQ. We have many good memories there with the family and boating, wake-boarding, jet-skiing and other lake activities. Teasing remarks about fire(s) ran through my head. Like this: fortunately, my cousin just moved out. Unfortunately, he left his stuff at the family home. Really, Bridget? Please insert some consideration for them. This is too new for jokes.

Yesterday, I stopped by their business to see if any of their driving school cars had been in the fire. We got him started in the driving school business several years ago and work together. Is their business still operational? If we could help with a spare instruction vehicle or two while new cars were being bought/equipped. No one was there and I drove by their house. My heart dropped and tears came to my eyes as I pulled up the driveway. The weight of the destruction hit me and I experienced a small portion of the suffocating emotions that come from loss. I am devastated for them. I hope they had their photos backed up on another computer. I hope that the beautiful photo slide presentation they just made for my cousin's wedding a few weeks ago was in my cousin's new place. I also hope they are coping well together. That there isn't anger and blame. Tragedy can bind us together or tear us apart.


We are hardly ever totally prepared for each disaster that hits our families. We take our losses and we move forward. The best we can. And that's hard.

April 9, 2010

Welcome Home!

Our Jojo (pronounced yoyo) just got her visa to come to her second home (ours) to visit. And it's good for 3 years. Yay!!! She got her plane ticket and will arrive on June 9th. I am SO excited!

April 8, 2010

Sumptuous-ness

Yesterday at the grocery store, I came across a strange root that I'd never seen before. Not that it wasn't there. I just didn't notice it before now.


I found the label and was astonished that read it was horseradish. It never occurred to me that the horseradish sauce in the store actually came from a root. Let alone this one. I bought it. Tymon asked me what it was when I was putting the groceries away. I told him to guess. He couldn't really tell and I encouraged him to bite it. Deeper. "Wasabi?" Nope. Horseradish, but good job.

I prepared it this evening. Basically you just peel it and put it in the blender (warning: it will clear your sinuses and make you cry) and add vinegar until it's spreadable. It can last for a few months in your refrigerator like this. I decided to use it in a salad dressing I found in a recipe book. I changed it a little to match the ingredients I had. And seriously, this is the best salad dressing ever. Tymon thinks the flavor was distinct and delicious and that I could market and sell it. Ha ha. For now, I'll be satisfied eating a lot of salad for the next little while.

Ingredients: 1 tsp. salt mixed with 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar. Add 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. grape oil and 1/4 whipping cream. Add 2 Tbsp. prepared horseradish. Combine well (shake it up in a closed Tupperware container). Enjoy!

April 4, 2010

Bitter Sweet


Last night we made Easter cookies with the boys. Each ingredient has a scripture attached to it, which related it to part of the story of Christ's crucifixion. We put the cookies in a hot oven and turned it off and waited until morning to get them out. We put one of them on Evan's grave. They are hollow in the middle. Just like the tomb Jesus was laid in was empty 3 days after he was placed there.

So what is the resurrection to me? The greatest gift. Ever. A gift of love. Christ suffered for me. For my family. For you and yours. He is an integral part of Heavenly Father's plan of happiness. Our happiness. He conquered the beast, Death. And through Him, we can, too.

We wouldn't know sweet without the bitter. I know just enough about bitter to understand that when we are reunited with our boy some day, it will be the sweetest event of my life. Families can be together forever.
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Super Egg Hunt

My cousin Cheri puts on an Easter Egg Hunt each year the Saturday before Easter. It's pretty much the best hunt ever. Little kids find eggs hidden low. Big kids find eggs hidden high. Like as in up in trees and in the middle of sticker bushes and on the tops of sheds and playground structures.

Jocelyn loved it. Truly. She understood how to get eggs and put them in her bag. And she definitely knew that there was candy to be found inside.



The food was so good. I mean really good. And I ate whatever I wanted. Allergies be damned. And lots of candy. And my sugar levels were in normal range. I don't get it. Was my pre-diabetic scare just the insentive I needed to lose a few pounds? I lost 12 or 13. It depends on the day what the final count is.






April 2, 2010

Delightful!

Every so often, one of the healthy recipes is great in it's own right and not just because it is supposed to be good for you. So, if you want to have pancakes for dinner, these ones made with potatoes and topped with herb butter are delightful. They are simple to make, too. And the great thing about pancakes is that they are pretty forgiving if you want to substitute any of the ingredients for ones you actually have in your cupboard. Over the past little while I've been buying alternative flours and actually had these on hand. BUT I'm sure they'd be good with whatever kind of flour you had in the pantry.


Mix together (but not too much)
  • 3/4 cup yogurt, 
  • 1 and 1/4 cup water, 
  • 2 eggs, 
  • 1 and 1/2 cup mashed potatoes (leftovers work great, mine were 1/2 white and 1/2 sweet), 
  • 1 cup brown rice flour, 
  • 1 cup kamut flour, 
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt


Cook like you would a pancake. The recipe makes 20 2-inch pancakes and maybe 14 or 15 3-inch ones.

Top with herb butter.
Melt 4 Tbsp. butter.
Add a clove of garlic.

Turn off heat and add 3/4 cup fresh herbs (chopped). I used cilantro because that's all I had. But I'm pretty sure basil and chives would have been excellent choices, as well.
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