Meet The Nat Pack!

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The Nat Pack: The super fashionable, super mod, super hip family consisting of Nat, Pete, Jakob, Brock, Troy, and Ivy. Like The Rat Pack, only younger, cuter, and not as rich or famous.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I Spy

On Sunday I let Jake have free reign of the camera. I usually don't do that, but he wanted a picture of something he made, and I didn't want to stand up to take the picture. Needless to say, he went hog wild! He took a lot of pictures of himself making crazy faces. He also took a lot of pictures of butts. He's definitely a six-year-old boy.

Anyway, a while ago Jake said, "Let's play 'I Spot'". And I said, "You mean 'I Spy'?" So then we were playing, and the other boys wanted to join in. Here's a version of Brock's turn: "I see something with my eye, um, something that is, um, a Buzz Lightyear!" My response: "...Uh, is it Buzz Lightyear?" Brock: "YEAH! You guessed! Good job!" Yep, pretty tricky.

But playing "I Spy" with my kids reminded me of when my sisters and I would play at a movie theatre before the movie started. Back in the day, you had to just sit there; there were no previews before the previews. So we'd pretty much people watch. We'd say, "I spy with my little eye something that is awkward." And then the other person would find the guy that kept trying to put his arm around his date, and she kept edging away. Or "I spy with my little eye something that is mysterious", and it would be the weird-colored "spill" on the ground by our feet. We really kept each other entertained.

So if you ever want to come over, challenge my kids to a rousing game of "I Spy", especially if you're in the mood for winning a game. Or come over if you want a picture of your butt. The Nat Pack aims to please!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Can You Smell What's Cookin'?

I am about to proudly present my project that I've finally finished. And because I'm counting it toward one of my Young Women projects, you get to hear all the nitty gritty details. Lucky you!


Yes, that would be my super organized, super amazing recipe book. Isn't it pretty? But wait, there's more!

Here's the before shot:

At one point I was trying to hand-write all my recipes and keep them in a box. But my writing sucked on some of them, my pen sucked on others (where it smeared or bled all over), and the contact/lamination paper also was not helping things. I also had other recipe books and recipes from Relief Society, etc. I decided I wanted all of my most-used recipes in one spot. So I started typing. I even typed up the recipes that I don't have a written recipe for. That way, someday when my boys start to cook, they can't pull a "I don't know how" excuse on me. (Also someday, when everything I do is electronic, my recipes will already be on my computer.)

After I typed everything up, I categorized them all, but I kept it simple: dinners, breakfasts, desserts/pies/cookies, and sides/salads. I decided to put all my dinners together, but then arrange them so that they are chronological instead of like chicken all together and burger stuff all together. That way, in one week, we'll have a chicken meal, then something with rice, then a pasta meal, then another chicken meal, then a beef meal, etc. (Does that make sense at all?)

I was really surprised when I ended up with about 6 1/2 weeks' worth of dinners that I like and are easy to make. Sure, some things are similar (like burgers and cube steaks), but those things I also spread out as best as I could. I stretched the meal schedule out to 7 weeks, inserting a night here and there where I try out new recipes or we go out to eat somewhere.

I also threw in easy side dishes that can go with that dinner. For example, next to chicken noodle soup, I put "bread", which could mean rolls, or scones, or French bread, or muffins, etc. And not that it's set in stone, but just as suggestions.

After I got all that done, I decided to make a grocery list for each week. I wrote down all the things I need for each meal. Where things repeated I just added them all together (if I need 2 cans of tomato sauce for one meal and one for another, I put down "tomato sauce x 3" for that week). Then I made it all nice and neat, where I mentally walked through the grocery store; so I listed all the meats together, and all the canned goods together, and all the produce together, etc.

Also on my grocery list, I wrote down things to check on. For instance, I might need bread crumbs for one meal, but I don't need to buy a container of bread crumbs every time I go to the store. But I do need to make sure that if I'm getting low, I need to pick it up when I go shopping.

After that, I wrote down things to prepare. Someday, I will get to the point of having a lot of freezer meals added in to this fabulous little system of mine. (Also someday, maybe I'll get breakfasts and lunches rotating and going in here, too.) But until then, it would be nice to at least have a few things done ahead of time, mostly cooking the meat that needs to be cooked. I have a bunch of meals that call for cooked, chunked chicken. If it's already cooked and chunked, then I don't have to spend the time that night doing it; I can just scoop it up and stick it in, or pull a pre-measured bag out of the freezer. Badda bing.

Even though I've still been putting this together this week, I started following my first week's meal plan. I loved not having to think about what I wanted to make/eat for the week. I loved having it all right there. I love the idea of eating something only about 7 times in the whole year. I love that I won't get in a cooking rut. I will love having things pre-cooked, so there's not a rush to get things in the oven or whatever else. And I love that there's still some flexibility with trying new meals, because some of my favorite recipes have been new ones.

Doing this has also helped me realize that I have a lot of really yummy dessert recipes, so I decided that either Sunday night or Monday for Family Home Evening I'm going to make a dessert of some sort.

D&C 109:8-Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.

And because I've rediscovered some fabulous recipes, here are a couple that I'd like to share:

1 cup celery, sliced (2 stalks)
1 cup carrots, chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 Tbl. Flour
¼ tsp. pepper
3 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup water
1 can condensed chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
1/3 cup slivered almonds, if desired
1 Tbl. Parsley

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook celery, carrot, onion, and green pepper in the butter about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Stir in flour and pepper, wild rice, water, and broth. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in half-and-half, almonds, and parsley. Heat just until hot. (Do not boil or soup may curdle.) May also stir in 2 cups cooked chicken with the half-and-half.

Mmmm, so yummy, and so easy!

TEXAS BROWNIE SHEET CAKECombine 2 cups flour and 2 cups sugar in a bowl.
Boil: ½ cup butter, 3 Tbl. Cocoa, 1 cup water. Stir into sugar and flour while warm. Add ½ cup buttermilk, 2 eggs, 1 tsp. baking soda, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Pour mix into cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

For frosting: Combine ½ cup butter, 3 Tbl. Cocoa, 6 Tbl. Milk.Bring to a boil. Add 3 ½ cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 1 cup chopped nuts (if desired). Spread on cake while frosting is still hot.

Oh, how I love you, Texas sheet cake.

And one more, for good measure:

LIME JELLO COTTAGE CHEESE SALAD1 6-oz. package lime jello (or other flavor, if preferred)
1 20-oz. can pineapple tidbits, drained (or other fruit, if preferred)
1 24-oz. carton cottage cheese
1 12-oz. Cool Whip

Mix dry jello into drained fruit. Add cottage cheese and fold in Cool Whip; chill. Add 2 cups of marshmallows, if desired.

This week I made this cottage cheese salad with strawberry jello instead of lime, and I put in fresh cut-up strawberries instead of pineapple. I also did not add the marshmallows. Oh, it was SOOOO good! Yum.

So there you have it. The thing that's been keeping me away from the internet. But aren't you so glad that I shared my tidbits of wisdom and yummy goodies with you?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jelly Belly

No, one of my New Year's Resolutions was NOT to blog less. It's just been kind of crazy around here, and I simply haven't had time. (I know, a pretty blasphemous thing to say.)

So my boys all got balloons from their Grandma, and one night while I was making dinner they decided to play "Fat Tummy". That's what they called it, anyway. It pretty much consists of them putting the balloon in their shirts and running into each other. Huh, it's kind of like Sumo Wrestling.

I've actually been working on a project, and I'm thisclose to finishing it, but I wanted to have it actually done before blogging about it.

My boys would yell "FAT TUMMY!!" before running into each other. After impact, they'd explode into a fit of giggles.

Yesterday for Troy's preschool, we took the kids to Craigo's. The pizza guy showed them how they make the dough, and they each got to pick toppings for their own pizza. The guy also made a big pizza for the moms there, and also brought out a dessert pizza and drinks. All for free. It's one of the best field trips I've been on, ever! SO yummy.

Oh, and did I mention...


(I love this action shot-Troy's face running right into Jake's balloon.)

And yesterday, just because Pete loves me, he got me a dozen roses. He asked for a dozen red, but the lady said they didn't have a dozen red ones, so he did half red and half lilac-colored. (I personally think she's lying; I think they're keeping all the red ones for V-day coming up. But I really like the mixture, probably even more so than all red.) How stinking sweet is that? I don't know if I've ever gotten flowers, just because.


I taught a lesson on Sunday in Young Women's. I was so worried about it, but I think it turned out really well. I've also been reading (slowly but surely) Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage. I've been loving it! And-


I just-


(I promise, I'll blog about my project soon.)
(Fat tummy.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Reluctantly Plodding into the 21st Century

Well, I've officially become "normal". (At least in the tech-y area of my life; other areas...different post for a different day.)

Behold, a cell phone. That happens to be mine. That took over my land line number. That I now have to carry on my person. (*Sigh* about that one.)

I didn't think that I needed a cell phone, but Pete did. Remember that time when Ivy cut her lip and needed stitches? Yeah, I was at the church when it happened, and Pete had no way of reaching me, so he had to leave our bleeding child at home with three other freaked out kids to come and get me and the minivan.

And that is exactly why Pete got me a cell phone for Christmas. For injured children. For when I've been gone running errands for 3 hours and he has no idea when I'm planning to come home. That kind of thing.

Thus far, I haven't had to use it, because our land line was still working. Until today, when my mom tried calling me about 80 times, and the phone was in my purse, or on vibrate, or something, and I didn't hear it. And my voice mail wasn't set up so I couldn't receive messages. When she came banging on my door wondering if I was still alive, I figured I should set up my voice mail, etc. And then the battery died on me. (I haven't been using it, remember? So, it's been sitting in my purse-turned on, because I didn't know how to turn it off. I'm cool that way.)

So if you try calling me, and I don't answer, it's not because I don't love you. It's because I'll be trying to find and/or figure out how to answer the dang thing. But NOW you could leave a message, and I may or may not be able to get that, either.