August 31, 2012

yes, i am republican.

I am not republican because my parents were republican.
I am not pro-romney because i am Mormon.
Just like you, I THINK and LISTEN and QUESTION and DECIDE for myself.
Last night, I was reminded WHY i will vote republican in the next election.

i believe that it is better to teach a man to fish than to hand him fish.
i believe in free markets.
i believe in small government.
i believe in freedom of religion.
i believe that education is the best way to eliminate poverty.
i believe that the answer to most of our social problems are found in the homes of the people.
Morality and hard work are essential for a thriving economy.
i think debt is destructive.
i believe that America is a great country because we are FREE.
i don't want our country, or our healthcare, to look like Canada, Denmark, Europe, or Russia.
i prefer a democratic republic to a socialist system of "central planners".

sometimes, as a stay at home mother, i feel ignorant about what is going on in the 'real' world.
i hate watching the political news channels because i don't feel like they are NEWS, i feel like they are high school popularity contests.
i hate watching people fight back and forth with stupid one liners.
As i've re-read the speeches from the convention last night, i realized that I do know the issues.
And, I am involved EVERY DAY.
1.  I'm involved with my children's education and active in my local schools.
2.  I work hard to balance my family's budget and avoid debt.  To live within my means.
3.  I spend every moment of my life raising 7 children with faith and love.  
They will be my contribution to society.
4.  I serve my neighbors and my neighbor's children.

I love this country.  I believe the strength of a nation comes from it's families.
Every day, I work to strengthen my borders and secure this nation.

The Republican National Convention was last night.
Did you watch it? 
I saw much of it (on the internet) and I was impressed. 
I LOVED Condaleeza Rice.  LOVE HER. 
(Here is a link to the transcript of her speech.)
These are my favorite parts...

"It has been hard to muster the resources to support fledgling democracies and to intervene on behalf of the most desperate.  The AIDS orphans in Uganda, the refugee fleeing Zimbabwe, the young woman who has been trafficked into the sextrade in Southeast Asia.  It has been hard, yet this assistance together with the compassionate work of private charities,people of conscience and people of faith, has shown the soul of our country.  And I know too -- I know too there is a wariness.I know that it feels as if we have carried these burdens long enough.  But we can only know that there is no choice, becauseone of two things will happen if we don't lead. Either no one will lead and there will be chaos, or someone will fill the vacuum who does not share our values.My fellow Americans, we do not have a choice.  We cannot be reluctant to lead and you cannot lead from behind."

"We have been successful too because Americans have known that one's status of birth is not a permanent condition.  Americans have believed that you might not be able to control
your circumstances but you can control your response to your circumstances.  

And your greatest ally in controlling your response to your circumstances has been a quality education.  But today, today, when I can look at your zip code and I can tell whether you're going to get a good education, can I honestly say it does not matter where you came from, it matters where you are going?  The crisis in K-12 education is a threat to the very fabric of who we are."

Right on!!  
I completely agree with Condaleeza's perspective!  
Marco Rubio spoke from his heart.  He is a good man. 
Here is the transcript of his speech and my favorite part...
My Dad used to tell us: "En este pais, ustedes van a poder lograr todas las cosas que nosotros no pudimos" "In this country, you will be able to accomplish all the things we never could."
A few years ago during a speech, I noticed a bartender behind a portable bar at the back of the ballroom. I remembered my father who had worked for many years as a banquet bartender.

He was grateful for the work he had, but that's not the life he wanted for us.

He stood behind a bar in the back of the room all those years, so one day I could stand behind a podium in the front of a room.
That journey, from behind that bar to behind this podium, goes to the essence of the American miracle — that we're exceptional not because we have more rich people here.
We're special because dreams that are impossible anywhere else, come true here.
That's not just my story. That's your story. That's our story.
Mia Love, the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah was inspiring!
She is a black, republican, Mormon.
i loved her.

"My parents immigrated to this country with ten dollars in their pocket and a hope that the America they heard about really did exist.  When tough times came, they didn't look to Washington.  They looked within.  The America I know is grounded in the determination found in patriots and pioneers, in small businesses with big ideas.  It's found in the farmers who work in the beauty of our landscapes and our heroic military.  It's found in the Olympic athletes and every child who looks at the seemingly impossible and says, "I can do that."  That's the America I know."

"President Obama's version of America is a divided one, often pitting us against each other based on income level, gender, and social status. His policies have failed us. We're not better off than we were four years ago -- and no rhetoric, bumper sticker, or Hollywood campaign ad can change that."

"The American dream isn't just my story. It isn't just your story. It's our story. It's a story of human struggle, standing up and striving for more. Our story has been told for over 200 years, with small steps and giant leaps. From a woman on a bus, to a man with a dream. From the bravery of the Greatest Generation, to the innovators and entrepreneurs of today. This is our story! This is our America! This is the America we know because: We Built It!"

Clint Eastwood?  He was just a funny, kind of sad, old man.
i like old people.
I liked Ann Romney, I felt like she was real and spoke from her heart.
She is different from me, my nature is more Sarah Palin.
I liked these lines from her speech- transcript here.

I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a “storybook marriage.” Well, in the storybooks I read, there were never long, long, rainy winter afternoons in a house with five boys screaming at once. And those storybooks never seemed to have chapters called MS or breast cancer.
A storybook marriage? No, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage.
I know this good and decent man for what he is — warm and loving and patient.
He has tried to live his life with a set of values centered on family, faith, and love of one’s fellow man. From the time we were first married, I’ve seen him spend countless hours helping others. I’ve seen him drop everything to help a friend in trouble, and been there when late-night calls of panic came from a member of our church whose child had been taken to the hospital.
You may not agree with Mitt’s positions on issues or his politics. Massachusetts is only 13% Republican, so it’s not like that’s a shock.
But let me say this to every American who is thinking about who should be our next president:
No one will work harder. No one will care more. No one will move heaven and earth like Mitt Romney to make this country a better place to live!
I felt like Mitt did a good job portraying who he really is.
I believe that he is a good, ethical, hardworking man.
I AGREE with his vision of America.
I believe that the REAL answer to all of our nation's problems begins in the HOMES of the people!!

My favorite lines from Mitt’s speech (here is the whole transcript)—

“All the laws and legislation in the world will never heal this world like the loving hearts and arms of mothers and fathers. If every child could drift to sleep feeling wrapped in the love of their family – and God's love -- this world would be a far more gentle and better place.

President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY to help you and your family.

You can say what you want about the Romneys.
You might disagree with their politics or their personality.
But, you must know that they are good people.
They are.
And, Romney-Ryan 2012 has my vote!!

August 27, 2012

this little piggy.

anna and the boyz
Pepe, as in peppercorn (jakob's)
and Rico, as in Paprika (anna's)

ellie had birthday money from grandma when we went to the fair.
they were selling baby cavies (guinea pigs) for $3 each.
she said she knew just what she wanted to spend her birthday money on!
the kids begged. 
we LEFT the fair, we thought about it and talked about it and researched...
the kids said they prayed hard...
and, we ended up with FOUR, pedigreed baby guinea pigs.
from a professional breeder up near Portland.
meet Bay.  as in Bay Leaf.
She's Ellie's baby girl.
i'm a grandma-- ellie likes to remind me daily.
meet Ginger, as in Gingersnap.
she's drew's girl.

these little piggies get LOTS of lovin.
two girls.
two boys.

yup.  we do things like that around here.
we're excited to join 4H bunnies and cavies this fall and show them in the fair next summer.
so far, the kids love them.
old cages.
girls in our old bunny cage and boys in a Tupperware.

our new cage-- from Amazon.
for the boyz.
they were SO excited!  you should have seen them hopping and running all around!
so cute.
the kids have schedules for play and exercise and they are still happily cleaning the cages (1 month later).
the girls.
the boys.
did you know guinea pigs make cute sounds?
they squeak. and chirp.  and hop around.
cavies are not very exciting to photograph... 
they are easy to care for and more cuddly than rabbits.
they eat fresh produce.  the ends of our zucchini and peppers and old apples.
i like that.
the life of a guinea pig.
in fact, i really do like these guys.
and... someday soon we may have some babies around here!
so, i bet your family would like one too!!

August 25, 2012

elephant garlic.

have you ever SEEN real elephant garlic?
it is HUGE!
like an elephant!  ha...
i love it.
it makes me happy.
i use it in everything.
it has a VERY mild garlic flavor, so you can use a lot and it isn't overpowering.
i'm growing some more over the winter.
i hear you are supposed to plant garlic in the fall.

August 24, 2012

cooking garden veggies.

don't you think these tomatoes are BEAUTIFUL?
i do... i love that color red with the cute green tops.
(we also planted chocolate tomatoes-- they are the brown ones. and no, they don't taste like chocolate.)
how do you eat your garden?
my summer meals are quick and simple.
i have snapped a few, random pictures... but honestly, nothing fancy here.

Everything Eggs.
(i make these almost every morning.  i LOVE them.  my kids, endure them.)

Everything Hashbrowns.
we do the same thing with potatoes that we do with eggs.
i start by baking potatoes in the oven for an hour at 325.
i bake a whole bunch at a time and leave them in the fridge to use for lots of different recipes.
potato soup with baked potatoes is my favorite.
and, i LOVE potato salad with baked potatoes...  as my base, i use 1 cup plain Greek yogurt and 1/2 cup light mayo.  it makes the potato salad so much better than just plain mayonnaise.

Everything hashbrowns are just chopped up baked potatoes (skins and all).
Fried in a skillet with hot olive oil, lots of garlic, onions, peppers and tomatoes.
I usually have real bacon bits in my fridge so i'll add a handful.
I fry them till they brown a bit and seem crispy.
so good!

Zucchini Chips.
because we've eaten A LOT of steamed zucchini, i am always looking for new ways to eat zucchini.
these zucchini chips were really delish.  but they take a long time to cook and not a long time to eat.
if i cook them again, i will cook 4 trays at once.
Just slice your zucchini fairly thin and lay them on a sprayed, foil lined cookie sheet.
Sprinkle the slices with salt and olive oil.
I roasted mine for about 3 hours at 225.
Next time i'll try 325.  I think it would be ok if they burned a little bit.

these were huge zucchini that shrunk as they cooked.
they were SO good we ate them in two minutes.

Fried Stuff.
We also fry things a lot.
Because my kids will eat most anything fried.
I already talked about our Fried Green Tomatoes- here.
these were our fried green tomatoes... with mango salsa and chipolte chicken.
SOO good.
We do fried zucchini a lot.
my father in law suggested dipping them first in canned milk and then bread crumbs.
worked great.
i either do canned milk, or milk with a couple of eggs.
do you fry things?
it's easy and good.
one bowl of flower, one bowl of wet, one bowl of bread crumbs or bread crumbs mixed with corn meal.
dip flour, milk/eggs, then crumbs.
then fry them, flip them, and put them on paper towels to drain.
And, homemade Chicken nuggets.
(make fresh chicken nuggets with the same breading you use for your veggies.)
NOTHING is better than homemade chicken nuggets and mashed potatoes.
although it's not super healthy, it is pretty fun to just start frying things and have a whole fried meal.

Tomato and Cucumber Salad.
i like to pair fried zucchini with a fresh tomato and cucumber salad.
i don't have pictures of that...
it is just thinly sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, very thinly sliced onions, a little bit of vinegar and a little bit of olive oil.
salt and pepper.
easy, fresh and a good way to use your cucumbers and tomatoes.
If i am lazier... i just cute up the veggies and squirt them with italian dressing.

Add Veggies to EVERYTHING.
EVERYTHING i cook i start with sauteed garlic, celery, peppers and some zucchini diced small.
(?sorry for the sideways picture?)
Macaroni and Cheese and Veggies.
do you make homemade mac n cheese?
you should.
it's dreamy.

this is my recipe.
cook a bunch of elbow macaroni.
while it is cooking,
melt 2 Tb. of butter in a big saucepan.
add 2 Tb. of flour and stir to make a paste.
slowly add 2 cups of milk, stir out the lumps.
add 2 cups of grated cheese.

poor the cheese over the macaroni and TAH DAH!!

but, not super healthy.
so-- i always add fresh broccoli to the pasta as it is cooking.
if i'm in a super nice mood, most of my kids just eat mac n cheese and broccoli, like this...
they also love homemade mac n cheese with broccoli and fried Spam.
(they got THAT from their father.)

in a separate pan, i saute veggies.
start with a little bit of olive oil and add what you have...
garlic, onions, peppers, zucchini, broccoli, and tomatoes.
tomatoes are my FAVORITE in mac n cheese.
cheese and tomatoes are really good together.
it's like dipping a grilled cheese sandwich in to tomato soup.

Pasta, Keilbasa and Veggies.
are you noticing a trend to my summer meals?
we also love to saute' together veggies with keilbasa and cabbage and put that over buttery pasta.

my kids do not love all the onions and veggies stuck into our dinners.
i allow them to pick out the veggies that they don't like IF they are not rude about it.
i think kids get used to eating things if they SEE them.
i also imagine that some of the vitamins from the veggies get stuck to the pasta even if they pick out the vegetable parts.  ha!
so, i don't apologize for my vegetable laden fare.
and, my kids are pretty good at eating it!

Fruit Shakes with Hidden Veggies.
We have lots of frozen berries that we blend into shakes.
We do not have a super, vegi-blender that costs $400.
although, i'd love one.
but, our little blender works great.
we start with berries and we add in LOTS of stuff.
carrots, zucchini, kale, spinach...
we fill the blender with water and a few scoops of juice concentrate and we blend.
our kids will drink any fruit smoothie.

one tip--
we freeze stuff that goes in our smoothie.
i have a bag of frozen bananas-- peel them first and put them in a freezer bag if they are going bad.
they are great for smoothies.
i also have a bag of frozen diced zucchini and a bag of frozen, fresh spinach leaves.
i like having the add-ins frozen to keep things colder.

How do you eat your garden??
summer cooking makes me happy.
i LOVE the color!!

August 23, 2012

levels of lazy.

I am not lazy.
I work hard.
I strive.
I have a large family that forces me forward... 
breakfast, lunch, dinner, chores, friends, fun, bath time, bedtime.
I’m up early and to bed late.

i have a great plan...
3 days of housework/order/discipline/laundry and then the end of the week for field trips, friends and fun.
my plan works well... IF i do it.

IF i actually fix breakfast and clean it up, my kitchen is clean and lovely all day.
IF i let my kids graze for themselves all day-- i spend the whole day with a messy kitchen.
my kids are great workers... IF i remind them and encourage them.
Work before Play is GRAND.
some days i just HATE being the adult enforcer of this adage.
some days i wish i had a boss that was holding me accountable.

i used to feel like my life was a BULL RIDE.
i used to crave the gentle trail ride.
i THINK i'm riding a trail ride these days.
i don't feel the fast, frenzied bucking bronco days that i used to feel.
BUT-- i feel like there are days when i am walking the trail or lounging on the side of the trail, instead of keeping a nice, even lope.  
(lope?  is that the right word?  it's not a gallop, and not a bouncy trot?)

I can FEEL the battle that I have with my own laziness.
And, it bothers me.
I’m ready to move to the next level—conquer the laziness.
Stop the mental whining.

Do you know anyone that is a really hard worker?
A great athlete?
I have a few people that I see and want to be more like...
Todd’s grandmother, my friend Ines, and basically anyone who can exercise regularly without dreading it.

I remember as we were experiencing one of our greatest trials, when anna fell into a campfire and severely burnt her hands, I read a scripture that said, “it will begin to be delicious to you.”
I had in my mind that someday, although this trial would always be a terrible tragedy, it would be a great lesson that we would cherish—instead of a recurring nightmare that would wake me up in the night crying.
That happened.
Today, I am so grateful for all we’ve learned from that experience.
Both for me and for Anna.

Today I am BURNING up my laziness.
I want it to be delicious to me.
Instead of craving time on the couch to read and sit... I want to crave a RUN.
I want to enjoy a late night house straightening like I enjoy a late night OREO dipping.

I LOVE to sit and visit.
I want to LOVE to serve so others can sit and visit.
Or, to visit and serve at the same time.

I am disciplined. 
Sort of.
I want to be so disciplined that I get my CHORES done FIRST and THEN read the end of my book.
(hypothetically speaking, of course.)
I have NO DISCIPLINE when it comes to reading. 
I just can’t read a few chapters... once the book hooks me in, i find myself hiding in the bathroom ALL MORNING LONG, trying to finish it.
Or, I just “choose” to read with a feeling of guilt.
I have told myself for years—it’s ok, just read, you’re not doing anything wrong...
But, I can’t ignore the feeling I get.
The feeling that says, do what you need to do FIRST and then take the afternoon to really enjoy your book.
I am the one that determines my to do list for the day... I CAN be the one that actually follows through on it.

Today I have 20 lbs of baby weight AND 20 lbs of laziness that is still holding on.
I am not LAZY.  But, I am lazy.
There are levels to laziness.
And—I’m ready to move up a grade.

trying again today.
i signed myself up for piano lessons and i'm recommitting myself to regular exercise.
i plan the night before what i want to do the next day.
and... school starting.
school makes it easier for me to stay scheduled.
(not to mention the fact that having my kids out of the house makes it 100 times easier for me to accomplish my personal goals.)

i'm certain that once i figure out this next level of laziness-- i'll find another one to conquer.

August 22, 2012

fried green tomatoes.

we have LOTS of green tomatoes.
and, i've seen the movie, "Fried, Green Tomatoes."

so, i thought i'd give it a try!
used this recipe- because it's the BEST Fried Green Tomato recipe.

4 large green tomatoes

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 quart vegetable oil for frying

They were SOO good!
i didn't take a picture till the bottom of the pile.
these might not look crisp and yummy, but they were.
Fried Green Tomatoes are not mushy, they're firm and a bit tangy.
Even my non-tomato eating kids LOVED fried green tomatoes.
"Mickey likes it!"
what a fun, new garden tradition!

August 21, 2012

strike a pose.

Lily is three, almost four.
she loves to pose for pictures.

cute girl.

i love three.
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