I'm ready to put away the Halloween boxes.

They've been in my living room way too long.

It feels like Halloween should be over since I've spent all month thoroughly entertained by 31 days of Halloween costumes featured on my friend's blog.

And because we already went to the coolest Halloween party ever:

I wish I could show you pictures of all of the amazing decorations and activities from the party, but my camera is not-so-good with the indoor pictures. It's the biggest Halloween party I've been to since The Howl. So lets just say it's the biggest Halloween party that attracts people based on the party alone, and not because of scantily clad college girls. (I only fit into that category one year when I agreed to be a peacock with Bridgett and Brooke.)

I wish I would have taken more pictures of all of the great costumes at Jed's party, but this is all I got:

It's too bad you can't see a shot of me in the wet suit. (I was dressed as a triathlete.) Steve was not impressed. He says he gets to pick my costume next time. (He wasn't impressed last year either, when I was a pregnant nun, which, by the way, you shouldn't ever dress up as, unless you are actually pregnant.)

Two more days of Halloween. . . .


The vine in the back of my throat.

Lucy: Mom, what's that hangy down thing right there called?

Me: Your uvula.

Lucy: Hmmm. I just call it the vine in the back of my throat.

P.S. Did you know that Miley Cyrus cut her uvula on a piece of chicken in January?
I just learned that when I googled "uvula" to find this picture.


Sorry, Mike. I'll try not to break anything else.

Last week I broke the disposal in my kitchen sink.

I was busy with some other projects and left it broken for a little while. And then learned the hard way that you shouldn't run your dishwasher when the disposal is broken.

That night I broke the chopper part of Cuisinart Smart Stick blender thing.

The next day was Craft Day with the cousins, and amidst the activity of painting pumpkins, I decided to grill the steaks and the shish kabobs in the fridge without Steve, as he is never actually home for dinner. I've never used the grill; it's just not my deal. I also tried to make mashed potatoes.

Steve has always been the designated mashed potato cook in our family. He is welcome to retain that title.

Apparently, I didn't cook the potatoes long enough and somehow I managed to first trip the circuit breaker and then break the entire Cuisinart blender thing. By the time we (actually, Angie had taken over by this point) got the potatoes blended, they were cold, so she went to put them in the microwave.

It was broken too.

The kids wouldn't touch the "bloody" steaks or eat the cold mashed potatoes, which I inadvertently left the skins on. (Forgot my audience.)

Thank goodness Angie brought bananas. The kids ate them for dinner and then enjoyed pumpkin pie and ice cream for dessert. (Fruit, vegetable, dairy. . . right?)

And thank goodness her husband, Mike, knows how to fix everything. (He had to take apart the entire microwave to locate the tiny little damaged piece: the oven thermostat.) I should add that if you ever need an HVAC guy, you should call him (801-941-1205) because he is really, really good. So very mechanical. (My wonderful husband is so very not.) Steve was sure that broken disposal was going to cost hundreds of dollars. Mike talked me through fixing it, over the phone.

I think this was the second consecutive week that Craft Day ended with crying and a meltdown. But that's a good sign, right?

. . . . . .

I was starting to think we were going to have a repeat of last fall when everything wrong seemed to happen in a matter of weeks. This is what happened last October, as recorded on my electronic Stickie notes. . . the journaling format I used before blogging. Here it goes:

Derrick told us that Jasmine was 6 months pregnant and he believed he was the father. (I cried for two weeks.)

The transmission in our Passat went out ($3000 repair). Same car that had just had $3000 in bodywork done to fix it up after a collision with a deer.

Got a flat tire in the Pilot. (Our only vehicle, at that point.)

Had a break in our water main and endured three long days without running water.

Took the Pilot in for new brakes ($400) and found out we needed additional repairs ($1800).

Finally identified the strange smell in the laundry room. Water had leaked from our shower through the ceiling until it was so soft you could poke your finger through it.

The motor in the dishwasher broke.

Recieved frantic phone call from preschool teacher that Lucy was lost on her first preschool field trip.

Found dozens and dozens of black widows in all of the window wells around the house.

The leak in the shower progressed until water was streaming from the ceiling.

Adam jumped out of his crib for the first time. (And then we watched our sweet little baby transform into a devious little boy.)

Dishwasher leaked all over the floor.

Got two more flat tires in the Pilot.

Steve had bronchitis. (Steve is not allowed to get sick.)

But still had to teach Sunday School and Elders Quorum.

While I got to sit through a video on teenage pregnancy and STDs, shown as a direct response to Jasmine's pregnancy, to all the YW and YM at church.

. . . . . .

How did I ever survive? Probably with a lot help from many of you. (Thanks, friends.) I'm hoping we won't top that month for a long, long time. Makes my broken disposal, blender, and microwave seem like a walk in the park. I should probably post some pictures of our last two Craft Days. And get back to ordering a new oven thermostat for the microwave, which Mike says is likely to break soon.

That reminds me. My beloved space heater broke this morning. (If you don't think that's a big deal, you don't know how much I love my space heater.)

I wonder if I can get Mike to take a look at it for me.

Craft Day 10/14: In search of mountain air to get everyone healthy. Adam was searching for his sucker.

Craft Day 10/21: Painting pumpkins and re-learning that kids like to eat macaroni and cheese for dinner.


Swine Flu Hysteria

These pictures show the line of people at the Weber-Morgan Health Department this morning at 8:30 am. Actually, they only show a very small portion of the line. The entire line went from the southwest entrance of the building to the north side of the building, east along the sidewalk to Adams Avenue, south to 24th Street, and then around the corner headed west, halfway to Washington Boulevard.

The H1N1 clinic was supposed to run from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, but this sign went up right at 8:30 am:

My awesome friend, whose identity may need to be concealed to protect her safety and well-being, administered the H1N1 mist to my kids last night. At our house. She said she walked out of work holding the vaccines in her hand, but then got a little nervous that carrying them in plain view might be a little dangerous.

(Thanks again. I feel super lucky.)


Being Evaluated

As many of you know, we are in the middle of Derrick's custody evaluation. I have spent the last week taking written psychological tests (no, I do not hear voices, no, I do not think everyone is out to get me, and no, I do not think anyone in my family has ever been concerned about my drug or alcohol usage), filling out stacks of forms, sorting through really cool records like text messages, audio recordings, and myspace postings, and compiling FOUR binders full of legal papers.

All for this cute little girl. Yes, she is definitely worth it. And the evaluation does seem to be going quite well. (The evaluator did make a mistake putting me, Steve, and Derrick at the same table as we all took the MMPI-2 test. Let's just say there was a lot of giggling.)

I have also managed to find the time (or rather, sacrifice some sleep) to make some grape juice. Have you ever seen anything so pretty? I was kind of disappointed when Steve moved some of them down to the food storage room. I would have liked to leave them all out on the counter so I could admire them for a few days.

I am pretty excited about these bottles I found at Smith & Edwards:

The lids are self-sealing, and I think most people fill them with syrup. I put grape juice in mine so I could have some ready next time we are invited to a quaint little lunch in a location like this. Someday.


No more burned hands

In celebration of grape juicing, which commenced today, I made a couple of very exciting purchases. Here they are.

A jar lifter:

And a magnetic lid lifter:

It's about time, don't you think.


My Granpda: the Gardener, the Fisherman

My grandpa grows the biggest tomato plants around.

He also catches the biggest fish.

His most recent catch was documented in the Herald Journal last week. The lake trout he landed measured 30 inches long and weighed over 12 pounds. The article said he is likely to be the oldest fisherman (he turns 95 next month) to catch a fish that size out of Bear Lake.

My grandpa told me the next fish he caught weighed somewhere between 15-20 pounds, but broke his line.


Big News

Last week, Steve took over as managing partner of Rickenbacker's, an upscale restaurant in Ogden. It all came about pretty fast, and our heads are still spinning.

Adam is excited because of all of the planes. (It's located out by the Ogden airport.)
Lucy is excited because it is a fancy restaurant. (And she thinks she should wear fancy clothes to go there.)
Rachel is excited because they serve cheesecake. (And it's really good.)
I am excited because I've been bored and was looking for some new projects to occupy all of my free time. (Yeah, right.)

Actually, we are all very excited for this great opportunity.

We will be busy making some changes to the restaurant over the next few months. There will be a new logo, a new menu, a new look to the dining room, and new advertising.

Rickenbacker's has been open for about three years, but is kind of tucked away and has remained mostly undiscovered. Go check out the incredible mountain views for yourself. (The lunch menu is very affordable.)


We Love Logan

Especially in the fall. We drove up yesterday and came home with apples, grapes, plums, and pumpkins. And these pictures.


Why we spent an evening cutting up 500 lbs. of meat

I've had 72 cans of meat on the counter of my kitchen for the last week and, subsequently, I have been asked a few questions about them. Here's the story. The long version.

A few years ago, I was serving as the Stake Home Storage Specialist, so Steve and I had lots of opportunities to work at the cannery. After canning beef chunks, one of my neighbors, Sandy Maurer, asked me if we had bought any. We hadn't. By the time I had seen the process and all of the hands that touched the meat, I wasn't interested in eating any of it.

She told me she was the same way, and that's why she canned her own. Being the super nice lady she is, Sandy invited me to go with her and even gave me a can of her beef to sample. Steve refused to eat it. For weeks. . . maybe even months. He finally broke down one Sunday and we opened it up for dinner. He told me it was better than any roast I had ever cooked. And it really was.

So, that fall, I went to the Preston Area Cannery with Sandy Maurer to can chicken and beef. It requires cutting up lots of raw meat, waking up way too early in the morning, driving to an obscure warehouse in Preston, being so cold you can barely open a cube of bouillon, and working with chicken and beef broth steaming your face.

And it is absolutely worth the effort. My family loves eating it, and I love that we do it ourselves. . . and I love knowing exactly whose hands have touched my meat. I've been back every year, except for 2008. We were busy and didn't get scheduled early enough. I had to ration my meat from the previous year and won't ever skip again.

The next question everyone asks is what you do with canned beef. Calling it "canned meat" is misleading because most people envision some sort of spammish product. You need to just think of pre-made roast because that's what it is. My favorite recipe to make with it is Beef Stroganoff. All you have to do is open up the can and shred the beef, cook the pasta, make your sauce, and dinner is ready. And it is so good. I can hardly stand eating Beef Stroganoff any other way. Our canned beef was also instrumental in feeding our family through my last pregnancies. Steve could make a substantial Sunday meal consisting of canned beef, canned corn, and potato pearls in about five minutes flat, without any help from me.

Since the Preston Area Cannery is somewhat mysterious, here are a few pictures that show that main steps:

1. Push grocery carts carrying heavy coolers full of meat through gravel parking lot to warehouse. Claim your workspace (Sandy is especially good at this) and fill cans with pre-cut meat, onions, and bouillon.

2. Take cans over to the steamer, where they are filled with water and steamed. Remove cans from steamer and seal the lids. (Again, Sandy is especially good at making sure we don't lose our place in line.)

3. Wait for the cans to be pressure-cooked. It takes a long time. (Two-and-a-half hours for beef.) Then the cans go into the ice bath and finally, you get to clean the gunk off of the outside of them. Fun stuff. Can you believe that almost all of the workers at the cannery are volunteers? I'm thinking that's what Sandy should do when she retires. . .

This is me with some of my Nibley friends (Lisa Thomas, Cheri Carroll, Melanie Nichols, and Brenda Arnell) who went with a separate group. For some reason, Kacie, Gloria, and Sandy weren't super eager to have their pictures taken. Maybe it had something to do with only having a couple of hours of sleep. My kind, kind friends from the Nibley group took the 5:00 am time slot so we didn't have to wake up at 2:30 am to make it up from Ogden on time. They also stayed and helped us clean ALL of our cans. They are some seriously nice friends. Thanks everyone!


Eight years ago today

We got married. By my Grandpa. In the Logan Temple.
We had a wedding lunch. In James & Dona's beautiful yard. Attended by our favorite people.
We went on our honeymoon. To Rosehill Cottage in Eden. (Anyone else?) Then hurried back for Steve's rat lab.

And then we went home. To our camper. In the mountains. Where we enjoyed this beautiful view. Until we got snowed out.

Look. I'm wearing Carhartts.


Nature Quiz

Lucy was assigned to collect some items from nature to bring to her kindergarten class. She went on a walk with Grandma Jean and found the others in our backyard. Unfortunately, she got sick and never made it back to school, so the nature collection is still at home.

Ten points for whoever can identify all 13 items. (Mom, I need help with a proper name for #10.) Nevermind, let's up the ante. A ten-dollar gift card to Sonora Grill goes to the first person who gets them all correct. One submission, per person. Ready, set, GO!