Monday, November 24, 2014

Remembering my Grandma

Today is my Grandma's birthday. My boys are excited to make donuts tonight for family night to celebrate and remember her. She was the last Grandparent my husband and I had. I am so thankful she was around to meet my four children. I miss her and I am sad she isn't here for important earthly events but I know that she is in a wonderful place. And that she is watching over us.

Just the other day I told Draco that angels must have been keeping baby girl safe and he told me it was Grandma Norma. I love how they think of her and care about her. She was such a good great grandma to them. She had 20 grandchildren and at least 20 great grandchildren. And she was so good about giving them a card for their birthday. She was so good at remembering them. And when she was around she was playing with them, sometimes even on the floor. And she loved to hold my babies. She loved that she would always have babies around. It was hard to get a picture of her looking at the camera because she always wanted to look at her great grandbabies instead.

I am thankful for her love and example. She had a hard life but was so positive. She loved to  share stories and life lessons. And I loved sharing our love for family history together. I loved having her over for dinner. She would visit and talk and never upset if it was running late due to crazy family life. She just loved being around family.

I admire her social nature and her ability to make friends. She moved down to Orange County a couple years ago and I was concerned she was going to miss her great group of friends. But in no time she was playing Bingo at her apartments and doing her visiting teaching and driving others around. She worked in the Newport Beach temple even though it was more of a challenge than her temple service in the Los Angeles Temple. Her old ward (or group of church friends) missed her and threw her such a great party when she left. I think someone even wrote her a song. I know she was a great example to many.

She loved my children dearly. And she loved The Lord dearly. I am thankful for her testimony and great example of service. Just last General Conference I was thinking about her when Elder Callister mentioned  his mother making dinner for the elderly. And he remembered thinking, "You are the elderly." That is what my Grandma did. She visited and made meals for others all the time. Even though some of them were younger than her. That's how I want to be. Busy doing family history work, loving my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. I want to exercise and take care of myself. I want to continue to serve others especially in the temple.

Pictures of my Grandma. Bottom left by Shari Hanson

I love the top right picture. I was pregnant  and had just moved two large bookcases in my boys room thanks to my BBF Julie. I was trying to combine the boys room to get ready for baby girl. And my grandma stopped by to say Hello. She was so sweet to tell me the room would look great. And seeing how tired and focused I was on my task she just played with my sons, who probably needed some attention since I was hard at work. Yoda was trying to get her to play Buzz and Woody and I am pretty sure she didn't know who either of them were. But she was there. And happy to give them her time. It was what they needed. And what I needed.

I am so thankful for my Grandma and for eternal families. Can't wait to find out my kids favorite memories of their Great Grandma are.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Our Family History Traditions: Remembering Jack

Years ago I came across a recipe from my Grandmother that I never made. I decided to make it on her birthday to remember her. And thus one of my favorite traditions was born.

On each of mine and my husbands Grandparents birthdays we celebrate and remember them by making their favorite dessert. It is a great way for our children to feel connected to their Great Grandparents, some of them they have never met. My second son Draco kept talking about my Grandma Happy and how much he loved her. I was kinda surprised because he didn't know her that well and wouldn't kiss her goodbye. (He is my grumpiest child) Then I figured it out!

He loved the dessert we made for her birthday!

Yesterday we talked about my husbands Grandma Jack. We have his picture up in our house. My second son and husband carry his middle name. My kids know him even though only my eldest son has met him when he was a baby. But as we share stories about him over Cherry Cobbler, and I quiz my sons about his life, we feel a connection. And they can develop a love for him and look forward to when they can see him again.

Isn't he handsome?
I love my hubby's grandpa! He was a kind gentle man. He adored his wife and daughters. He was active in his church and loved to play baseball. He loved The Lord and his family. I cherish the time I was able to spend with him. One of my favorite memories was when we were sitting in his living room and I was asking him all kinds of questions he stopped me and said, "You really care, don't you." I assured him that of course I cared, he was family. I knew it touched his heart that I saw value in his life and wanted to know about him. Grandparents are important and aren't here on earth long enough. 

Pictured above is that special day when we were able to go to the temple as a family and seal Grandpa and Grandma to each other forever. I believe that marriage can be eternal. That is why temples are so important. Because they enable family relationships perpetuate beyond the grave. I love Jack dearly and look forward to seeing him again someday. I know that if I invest time and teach my sons and daughter about him they will will know him and will gain strength from his good life. I am sure he is looking out for them. And his heart of full as he sees his posterity remember him.

Cherry Cobbler
From "Grandma Suzie"

Made to celebrate Grandpa Jack 

2 Cans of Cherry Pie Filling (I usually put an extra can or two because my family really likes the thicker filling)
2/3 Cup of Water
1 Yellow Cake Mix (any kind, or even white)
1/2 lb. of Melted Butter (not margarine)
(I added a little brown sugar and oats too)
1 Small package of Chopped Pecans (optional; we use 1 1/2 cups.....or even walnuts)
I add 1/4 c of brown sugar and oats

            Pour Cherry Pie Filling into a buttered or "Pammed" pan (9 x 13).   Pour the water over the pie filling.  Sift the cake mix over the top of filling and water.  Pour the melted butter over all.  Cover with the chopped nuts.  Bake for approx. 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. 

We love using this special recipe from my dear friend Suzie! She is a great example and lovely in all things. She is so great at gathering with her family and is always cooking for them. I knew I would love her recipe.

 I leave out the nuts. If you half this recipe and add a 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 cup oats and serve 8 slices you would have about 45 carbs per serving.

Baby girl loves her great grandpa and his favorite dessert 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Hubby's Mashed Potatoes

My favorite food at Thanksgiving is Mashed Potatoes. And my Hubby makes my favorite kind. Not only are they creamy and buttery, but when he makes them himself it's one less thing for me to make. They are pretty rich, but hey, it's Thanksgiving. I did make them more often when I was trying to get baby girl to gain some weight. Surprisingly, she doesn't like them. It must be a texture thing. All my boys love them. They are the only mashed potatoes Draco will eat. And I love that you don't peel them. Yay for less work!

Read ahead to get our family recipe that we have been making for years.

Hubby’s Mashed Potatoes
10 lbs of Yukon Gold potatoes (I will sometimes use red potatoes if they are on sale)
½ cup Heavy Cream (Buy it at Sam’s or Costco, so much cheaper)
1 ¼  Tbsp Kosher Salt
¾ Black Pepper
1 ¾ lb European Butter (richer and creamier)

Wash Potatoes. In a large pot boil unpeeled potatoes after cutting them into big chunks to speed up the cooking time. When fork tender, drain thoroughly. Add potatoes to a large bowl along with the rest of the ingredients. Cube up your butter first to help distribute the butter. Using a hand masher combine everything. Your potatoes should be creamy but still have some lumps. Grab a new spoon and taste. Feel free to add more salt or cream.

Feel free to check out his blog and see movie reviews and podcast on the 3rd hour block lessons.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My Mom's Zesty Green Beans

One of my favorite dishes at Thanksgiving is my Mom's Zesty Green Beans. She started making them when I was in High School and I just love them!!! I think there was mention of not having them one year and I was not happy.  I am not a big fan of "cream of "anything or casseroles. My family never did the Green Bean Casserole that can be popular this time of year. But  I love having vegetables to off set all the potatoes and pie I want to eat. This dish has crispy green beans with lemon and bacon (always a win!).

 My Mom’s Zesty Green Beans

2 lbs green beans
½ C pine nuts
6 slices of bacon, cut into little chunks
1 tsp lemon juice
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 T lemon zest

Cook green beans over medium high about 5 minutes till toasted. (sometimes I will steam them. Be careful not to over steam them. You want them bright green.) Toast the pine nuts in a pan. Remove and set aside. Start cooking your bacon in a pan until they are crisp. Remove bacon and place on a plate with paper towels to absorb extra grease. Add green beans to your bacon grease and pan fry till heated. Remove beans and toss with zest, juice, and salt and pepper. Add toasted pine nuts and bacon and toss.  Enjoy!

 Hope you enjoy our family favorite! Looking forward to sharing more Thanksgiving recipes soon.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thankful Thursday

I wanted to take a moment each Thursday this month to focus on something I am thankful for. I have been thinking a lot about my best friend's Grandma this last month. Dear Sweet Sister Hinkson, or Grandma, has been in my life for 20 years now. She came to my baptism when I was 11 years old. I had never met her, but she came to support me.

She is always friendly and you can tell she loved to serve others. My BBF"s mom worked so Grandma was usually driving her grand-daughters around to their activities. She could sew, cook, bake. When I was about 12 she taught me and my BFF  Jayne how to sew. I was really horrible. I was always un-picking my stitches and doing it again, while Jayne was able to go on to the next stage. (The seam ripper is still one of my most used tools. I have two just in case.)

Grandma Hinkson showing my oldest her flowes
I would make small things or skirts. Then I was 16 and she made me my first formal dress for me. It was empire waist with pink chiffon and peter pan sleeves. Sometimes I can't believe I asked her to make it for me. I think I may have asked her to help me make it, but I am pretty sure she did most of it. She taught me how to read patterns when sewing.

We have kept in touch through the years and I love seeing her. Especially at fabric stores. I hope she is happy I am still sewing. She taught me something that has blessed my life so much. I went on to sew my own formal dresses. I make my Halloween costumes, baby blessing dresses, home decor, and so much more. This skill has saved me money and has helped me work on my talents. She didn't have to invest that much time in me. I can't tell you how many blonde grandchildren she has. She had a full and busy life. Lots of children and grandchildren. Always callings and responsibilities. Her husband always had lots of callings and responsibilities. But she took time out of her busy life to help me. I am so thankful for that.

Not only did she teach me how to sew, but she is an amazing example of a woman of faith. She shared goodness and her testimony. She was positive and funny. She made lots of yummy treats. And she taught me you only had to wash your hands if the people you were cooking for were there when you were making it. (I am sure she always washed her hands, but that still makes me laugh)

I want to be like her. I want to help and teach others. We should take time out to help our youth and young friends, whatever our talents are. Let us share our talents and passions with those around us. Let us help and uplift each other. Because we never may know our influence.

An extra thankful thought! This morning we were able to get squeezed to see a GI specialist with Phoenix Children's Hospital. Otherwise our appointment would have been in February. I have been keeping a food diary (why I wasn't do this earlier, I have no idea?) so I brought that along with the rest of Baby Girl's medical folder.

She weighs a whopping 18 lbs and 12.6 oz!!!!

And this office told me about a WHO Growth Child chart they use for breastfed babies around the world and she is in the 18% for her weight!!! I wanted to cry that she was even on the chart! And 15% for her height. They told me it was a better way to gauge breastfed kids progress and their percentile.

We have been pushing good fats, especially the last two weeks. French toast every morning. And I don't add milk, just straight heavy whipping cream. And butter. Always butter. And she has been loving hummus as well.

We got to meet with a dietitian. She saw her previous numbers and totally understood our concerns, but thinks she is doing great. We will be meeting with them in 3 months to make sure. And they could call us back to come in sooner if her blood work shows something, but I am thrilled! And so thankful. The dietitian told me we are doing the right things. Here are somethings to help, but keep up the great work. And I really appreciate it because it is stressful. I want her to thrive and do well. Meal time is already complicated enough with my crazy diabetic kid. :)

There is so much to be thankful for!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Remember Remember The 5th of November

Last year my oldest son Gandalf had a fun school report where he had to learn about one of our ancestors. And it had to be someone who was an immigrant. As someone who loves all things Family History, I was so excited for this report. I pulled up all our immigrant relatives and he picked one. George Taylor from England.

He had to learn about him and his travels to America. Then he had to decorate a clothes pin in traditional clothing. One part of his report he had to learn about the country, including holidays.

And that is when we stumbled upon Guy Fawkes Day.

I immediately called one of my besties who is from England herself, to find out more about this holiday. I asked her, "Why haven't we been celebrating this awesome holiday?" She knows how much I love crazy holidays. Currently we have celebrated Shrove Tuesday with her. I love getting in touch with my ancestral roots, and it's fun to see Alex in her element. She is a natural when it comes to flipping pancakes.

According to Wikipedia:

" Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot's failure."

It is celebrated with fireworks and a great bonfire where you burn a fake body of Guy Fawkes. Children (because it's always best to involve them in this kind of celebration) go around and say "A penny for a guy/" and collect funds for the firewood. When my son learned about this his response was "Awesome!" 

I told Alex we have to celebrate this next year and then I had to ruin it all by moving out of state. I was doing my research and I found out there is even Bonfire Toffee because what bonfire burning would be complete with out a special treat. 

We are looking forward to celebrate this new tradition for our family. I will be making Guy Fawkes masks and the toffee below. I don't know if we will have a chance to get fireworks this time. I'll let you know how it goes. Super excited to celebrate our English heritage!!!

Remember Remember the 5th of November...

Bonfire toffee
From the BBC Food Recipes
A real British classic, this jaw-breaking treacle toffee dates back hundreds of years and is really easy to make. You will need a candy thermometer, preferably a digital one.
75g/3oz golden syrup
75g/3oz black treacle
150g/6oz light soft brown sugar
75g/3oz butter
¼ tsp cream of tartar
Preparation method
Line a 15 x 20cm/6 x 8in baking tray with non-stick baking parchment.
Measure all the ingredients into a deep, heavy-based saucepan. Place over a medium heat and stir occasionally until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved.
When the mixture is smooth and well-combined, increase the heat and bring the mixture to a fast boil. When the mixture reaches 140C/285F, pour carefully into the lined tray.
If you want even pieces, wait until the toffee is cool enough to handle, but elastic enough so that a finger pressed in the top leaves a slight indent (about 15-20 minutes depending on the room temperature). Partially cut the toffee into even pieces with an oiled knife. When it has cooled completely, break along these lines. Alternatively let the toffee cool completely, then break into shards with a toffee hammer or rolling pin.

Store in an airtight container, with individual layers of toffee separated by baking parchment. If left exposed to humidity, the toffee will soften and stick together.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November Menu Plan

Our menu plan for November

1 Leftovers
2 Steak Tacos
3 Dinner at a friends house
4 BBQ Pulled Pork
5 Cafe Rio Chicken
6 Chicken Pesto
7 Philly Sandwiches
8 Pesto Sandwiches
9 Baked Flautas ( I don't use beer in my though)
10 Hamburgers
11 Oven Fried Chicken
12 Taco Tuesday with Crock Pot Re-fried Beans
13 Baked Potato Soup
14 Poor Boy's Steak
15 Taco Pizza
16 Thanksgiving Dinner
17 Leftovers
18 Fajitas
19 Baked Rosemary Chicken
20 BBQ Chopped Salad
21 Turkey Soup
22 Lemon Chicken
23 Cafe Rio Soup
24 Leftovers
25 Baked Chicken Parmesan
26 Au Jus Sandwiches
27 Leftovers
28 Thanksgiving
29 Eating Out
30 Salad and Bread

When planning the menu for the month I like to plan our family nights as well. Every Monday night we gather to learn, sing, feel the spirit, and eat some treats together. It's a wonderful tradition that helps our family have more love and peace. It also strengthens family relationships. I invite you to try to have Monday night your family night. Even if you just play a game together or just share dessert.

3rd. Helping out around the House.
Our family always seems to need this one. ;)

10th Brigham Young We are working on studying about our Prophets in these latter days.

17th The 3rd week we review a General Conference Talk. I really enjoyed this one, Are We Not All Beggars? I think it's especially a good listen with Thanksgiving this month.
I would encourage you, no matter what faith you are, to listen to this powerful message. I know it is filled with true and good things. We all can extend kindness and compassion.

24th Preach My Gospel. As we have 3 sons who will someday serve missions we are trying to teach correct principals and truths that will better prepare them to serve others.

Last night I had the opportunity to hear a local church leader give advice on how I can be better as a parent. One of the things I felt I needed to do was invite my children to act. I will try this month to give assignments and encourage my sons to organize a game, share an experience, or teach a scripture. I know this will help them more fully live their faith.