Roy, Sheena, D, K, A, C and L

Roy, Sheena, D, K, A, C and L

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Annual Christmas Tree Adventure

Saturday morning we went out hunting Christmas trees.  Every year, Roy is excited and energetic until about 1/3 of the way through cutting the tree down.
Every year, I'm excited and energetic until I remember who will have to string the lights....  Why don't Christmas trees grow pre-lit?  Every year the kids are excited and energetic until I want to rip my hair out (NO WE WILL NOT BE DECORATING THE TREE YET.)
You'd think with all that Christmas spirit nothing could go wrong.  If you've been reading here long enough you know that's not true.
Innocent Tree Knocker-Downer
We got the lovely home and did our darndest to level the trunk before bringing it in and setting it up.  All seemed to be well for a day or two until we adjusted the tree yet again in an attempt to make it stand up straight.  This was too much for it apparently because it began to lean and just kept leaning.  Luckily Roy and I were both home this time and in the room.  So no only did the tree not actually fall down but it also has not suffered a demoralizing hack job.
After much adjustments, threatenings (at the kids not each other) and discussion we have decided to leave the tree as it is -- which is lit, decorated, propped up with pennies and leaning slightly toward the wall.  We will certainly be in the market for a new tree stand after Christmas though because this one just doesn't want to hold our trees up.  The screws are digging into the trunk and still it leans....
It's not too noticeable.  Right?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Oy Vey

We've had a bit of a crazy week and a half.  On the 14th, Roy received a phone call from the Stake President's secretary.  (A stake president is a spiritual lay leader over a geographical region of the LDS church.)  The SP wanted to meet with Roy and I the following Sunday after church.  That's 4 days of "what does this mean?"  "He could just want to see how things are going with us....."  "Oh man, I know they're planning to reorganize the Bishopric (a group of 3 lay leaders over a smaller geographical area under the umbrella of a stake).  What if you're the new Bishop?"  "Please for the love of Mike let it be Sunday already!"
Sunday finally came and we were able to meet with President B.  He is such a great man and I truly enjoy being in his presence.  He explained that the Lord was asking Roy to serve as 1st Counselor in the new Bishopric that would be announced next Sunday.  Of course, we said yes.
Now started the week long wait until the new changes were announced.  The change in our Bishopric wasn't the only change the stake was making so there was actually going to be a special evening meeting held after church on Sunday, November 18.
As part of Roy's calling to the Bishopric, he needed to be ordained to the priesthood office of High Priest.  So Roy invited his dad up to ordain him.  Much to our pleased surprise, he came!  Grandpa Pyatt flew in Thursday morning (Nov 15).  Grandpa Pyatt hasn't flown in over 20 years so this was BIG deal for him.  He had to change planes at one point which was stressing him out.  However, for anyone who knows my FIL, he likes to talk and so made friends with his seatmates on the first plane who walked him to the gate for his second plane.
We had Grandpa with us for 4 days.  The kids thought this was just great although they missed having Grandma come too.  She recently had knee surgery and it was probably better she didn't try to come up.  Traveling on her knee would probably have not been a good idea.
So last Sunday, we had the special meeting where Roy was sustained by what turned out to be all the adults in the stake (who came to the meeting).  Then after the meeting we waited for the SP to come set the new Bishopric apart.  It was a very spiritual and wonderful meeting.  I have no doubt that Bishop Swanger, Roy and Brother Engstrom are the right men for our ward leadership and this time.
Today was our first Sunday with Roy on the stand.  The kids and I reviewed some ground rules before we went to church.  Such as, no going up on the stand, no tantrums, one wave per meeting and no standing on the bench to wave and shouting, "Hi Daddy!".  These are very important guidelines to make clear for each of them.  Things went smoothly for the most part.  The kids were great.  One of Roy's responsibilities is to raise and lower the lecturn and make sure it is operating properly.  This will take some practice!  But really, I'm so proud of him.  Is that okay to say?  I am.  I'm proud of his dedication and commitment to the Lord.  I know that Roy has the leadership and social talents to help people.  I have no doubt he will do much learning and growing through this experience but I know he's up for the challenge.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Forgotten Carols with a car adventure

A few weeks ago we got a Deseret Book catalog in the mail.  While looking through it I saw an advertisement for The Forgotten Carols.  It showed they would be in Portland.  I showed Roy and told him that someday I would really like to go see the play.  To my surprise he got online and ordered tickets that very night!  What a great husband!  We decided this would be our gift to each other to celebrate our 10th anniversary which is coming up in a couple of weeks.
Last night was the performance.  It was so amazing.  I have seen Michael McLean in concert a few times and really enjoyed him.  This was Roy's first opportunity.  The play was really great.  It is such a good story with beautiful music.  Everyone sounded great and acted well.  After the play, Michael McLean spent probably half an hour playing additional music and talking to the audience.  He has a great stage presence and way of making an audience feel like they are the best audience and really his friends.  I'm so glad we went.  Even better, Roy had a great experience and was glad we went!  I told him, I'm always glad when he has a positive experience doing something I enjoy because it makes it more likely we'll do it again in the future!

There was an element of anxiety mixed into the night though.  We drove down in the car, which has been having some...uh, issues... lately.  It doesn't like to idle.  Like, it would rather die than idle.  Which is bad enough but if it does die, it likely won't start again without a jump and even with a jump there's only about a 50/50 chance it will stay running.  Fun, huh?
Unbeknownst to us, the theater is in the heart of downtown, across of the public square where the huge Portland Christmas tree is set up every year.  Even better, it was the tree lighting ceremony the same time we were trying to find the theater.  You can imagine the crowds of pedestrians and almost stand still traffic.  In a car that shudders and chokes when idling.  Yeah, no pressure.
Luckily we found a parking garage a few blocks away and walked to the theater.  All was well until on the way home.  The car unexpectedly died in neutral.  No, no, neutral is supposed to be safe... except this time.  As luck would have it we died right next to a drop off area for a bar so I hopped in the driver's seat while Roy and a few guys who'd been standing on the curb pushed us off the road.
Miraculously the car started when I tried it and stayed on as long as I had one foot on the gas pedal.  This meant I had the pleasure of driving us home.   It was a great adventure of two foot driving while alternating between drive and neutral until we got on the freeway.  I can't tell you what a sigh of relief it was to get on the freeway and know there would be no more idling until we were almost home.
Famous last words....
There was an accident blocking 2 out of 3 lanes on the freeway.  After another intense round of two foot driving for 15 minutes of so we cleared the accident and made it the rest of the way home without incident.  Even the traffic lights seemed to be in our favor when we got back on surface roads.
So, anyone want to buy a 13 year old chevy car with nearly 170,000 miles?  It is a lovely shade of red-neck-white....

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Wrap Up

I thought I'd follow up on what I did/didn't do, what worked/didn't work.
Turkey into the brine and chilling in the garage
Mashed potatoes made and smoothed into a crockpot
Sweet potatoes made except for topping and put into crockpot
Pumpkin Toffee Cheesecake made
Green Jello Salad made
Honey Butter made (a surprise recipe sent to me by my friend Jenn!)
By and large a busy and successful day!
Turkey seasoned and put in the oven
Mashed potatoes heating in a crock pot
Sweet potatoes heating in a crock pot with topping on
Toss together cabbage salad
Make rolls
Make apple pie
Forget the cranberry sauce (oops!)
Decided to forgo the green beans because we don't need them.
The missionaries came over around 3ish and we sat down to eat probably about 3:30.  Making stuff ahead of time really helped on Thanksgiving day.  It was nice to be able to spend some time outside with Roy and the kids and not feel stressed about getting things done in the kitchen.
The food was great.  The mashed potatoes will definitely be joining the ranks and staying at the feast.  They were GREAT!  The sweet potatoes were a little too sweet- maybe cut some of the sweet and condensed milk or sugar in them.  We don't need 2 pies unless we have family who will be sticking around for a day or two after.  Probably just make the apple pie next year.

After we ate, the Elders had a video about being thankful (check it out here).  It was fun to watch and then we went around and each named three things we are thankful for.  I was glad to have them lead this discussion.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thanksgiving Menu

I'm trying to plan our Thanksgiving menu/cooking schedule for this year.  And by our cooking schedule, I mean my cooking schedule because that's how it's going to roll this year.  We don't have any family coming (unless you want to make some fast plans!) and it is too short of a vacation/too far for us to visit family for the holiday so we are pretty much on our own.  It's really not so bad.  We've been doing it this way since we moved to the great wide north over 7 years ago (7 YEARS? WHAT?!).
So for my sanity and maybe your benefit - maybe not - I'm posting the plan for this year.  It is much the same as last year but hopefully by writing it down in a more permanent location than a spiral notebook it will last.
The Menu:
Sweet Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes
Green Jello
Cabbage Salad
Cranberry Sauce
Green Beans
Crescent Rolls
Apple Pie
Layered Pumpkin Pie Toffee Cheesecake

The Turkey:
I use the turkey brineing method found on OurBestBites it is a bit laborious but totally worth it!  I did it this way last year and have done it a few times since.  Just look at this gorgeous bird.  It is so juicy and flavorful. We really like it.
 The Stuffing:
Don't judge.  It's good enough for us and
there's enough going on with this meal that
making my own stuffing is not a priority!
Sweet Potatoes:
I've never been a fan of sweet potatoes.  Last year I discovered it is actually the traditional way of preparing sweet potatoes - you know, the brown sugar and marshmallows - that I'm not a fan of.  I tried this recipe from OurBestBites last year.  It was a hit!  Definitely the way to make sweet potatoes for my family.
Mashed Potatoes:
I just found a new recipe, Make Ahead Mashed Potoatoes.  What?!  I think I might try these before Thanksgiving just to make sure we like them.  And then again, I might now.  But if it works, these are going on the permanent list.  How fabulous to not make mashed potatoes in the midst of everything else going on!
Green Jello:
This is Roy's favorite jello.  Probably because it is more sugar than jello.  I use a recipe adapted from an obscure cookbook from a small restaurant in Osseo, WI called The Norske Nook
Gladys's Cottage Cheese Salad
1 large can  crushed pineapple and its juice
2 small boxes lime Jello
4 cups mini marshmallows
dash of salt
2 cups cottage cheese
2 cups whipped cream
1 cup chopped nuts
1. Drain the pineapple juice into a 2 cup measuring cup reserving pineapple for later.  Add enough water to make it 2 cups liquid.  Nuke until boiling.  Use this boiling liquid to dissolve the lime Jello in a large bowl.
2. Add the marshmallows and salt.  Stir until the marshmallows are mostly dissolved and really small.
3. Refrigerate until the Jello starts to set but isn't totally gelled yet.  Add the cottage cheese, whipped cream, nuts and crushed pineapple.  Mix well and return to the refrigerator to finish setting.
 Cabbage Salad:
This is my favorite salad which is why we have it.  Roy thinks its okay and the kids don't like it much but I love it.  Since I'm the one doing the planning, shopping, preping and cooking, we have this salad!  It is adapted for many different sources.
1 bag coleslaw mix
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 bags beef Ramen Noodles
handful or two sunflower seeds
handful or two sliced or slivered almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup oil
1/3 cup vinegar
seasoning packets from Ramen noodles
1/2 - 1 tsp pepper
1. Crush the Ramen noodles.  Mix coleslaw mix, green onions, Ramen noodles, sunflower seeds and almonds in a large bowl.
2. Mix dressing ingredients well.  Pour dressing over salad and refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving. (I like the dressing to soak into the salad a bit before eating it.  If you don't, pour the dressing on right before serving.)
Cranberry Sauce:
Not a huge fan of cranberry sauce.  Honestly, we only having it because I have some in the freezer from last year.  I used this recipe from OurBestBites.  It's not bad as far as cranberry sauces go.
Green Beans:
Last year, I made these Bacon-Wrapped Green Bean Bundles.  My FIL really liked them but I felt the bacon was too chewy with no way to get it crispy.  This year I'm going for our favorite green beans.
Crescent Rolls:
This is my standard, go-to roll recipe.  I use it for rolls and cinnamon rolls.  We really like them and it is pretty hard to mess them up.  Just don't add too much flour.  It will seem like you need more flour but really, less is better here.  My dough usually sticks to the side of the bowl even while being "kneaded" in my Bosch mixer.  But that's part of the magic: they are always light a fluffy (even if you don't have much rising time) because there isn't too much flour.    
Apple Pie:
This recipe comes from my mom.  What really sells it is the crumb topping!
1 single pie crust (frozen this year;)
1 cup sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cornstarch (more or less depending on the juiciness of your apples)
6 cups apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp lemon juice
Crumb Topping
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup butter
1. Mix sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cornstarch in small bowl.  Dump lemon juice over apple slices and toss to coat.  Combine apple slices with sugar mixture until apples are coated. Pour apple mixture into unbaked pie crust.  
2. Prepare crumb topping by mixing brown sugar and flour.  Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly and combined (don't beat it - you don't want it smooth).
3. Cover apples with crumb topping.  Bake at 400* F for 30-35 minutes.
*Hint* Place pie tin on baking sheet before putting it in the oven.  That way if any liquid bubbles out from the apples it won't burn on the bottom of your oven for the next 2-4 weeks.
Layered Pumpkin Pie Toffee Cheesecake:
It is starting to feel like this post should be sponsored by OurBestBites with the number of links I've linked you to!  Here's one more.  Again, so worth any effort to make this one.  And compared to making pumpkin pie, this isn't really much more labor intensive but 1,000 times better.  Of course, I don't really like pumpkin pie so.... there's that.
Anyway, there you have it.  Once a year I go all out and crazy making food.  It's great that I don't have to cook for the week following too!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A great day!

This morning was preschool at our house.  That's always fun.  No, really, that wasn't even sarcasm!  A is always so excited to have her friends come.  She loves to help me set stuff up.  She kept asking me for jobs to do to get ready.
After preschool, I was cleaning up the kitchen when K came to the front door.  If you recall, the bus can sometimes be a difficult place to retrieve children from.  However, the regular bus driver knows us and my neighbor was out with her son so the bus driver let K off the bus to come home even though I wasn't out there.  And why wasn't I out there you ask?  Because the bus was nearly 20 minutes early!  That's a good thing too!  I actually really like our regular bus driver, I just have to be patient when it is a sub.  Unfortunately, patience and I are not on close terms right now.
The girls and I had a delicious lunch of "macmaroni and cheese sauce" before we went to D's school for an election party.  They have been doing a unit about elections where the kids were in groups.  Each group had a presidential candidate and running mate as well as a speech writer and campaign manager.  They campaigned, gave speeches, had a primary election and finished with an election yesterday.  Then today the parents were invited in the afternoon to hear the chosen president give his acceptance speech and sing patriotic songs.
Swearing in the president on the student handbook
D and some girls from his class were in the front of the room leading the songs (sort of - the teacher was leading but the students were examples I guess).  It was particularly inspiring to sing God Bless the USA.  I was impressed with the small sampling of the next generation of leaders in that room.
After school I helped distribute cookie dough with the PTA.  I always feel like I'm doing my school duties when I help the PTA with something (even though I'm not actually a member at either school!).  The kids played hard and had a good time waiting for me.
Tonight we had a very pleasant evening at home.  Roy brought home donuts from work (Krispie Kreme!) that I ate too many of but my Dr. did tell me to start gaining weight.....  K went to play with her friend for a few minutes so D read stories to A.  The girl hadn't had a nap today so....
All's well that ends well, right?  When K got home she snuggled on the couch with Roy while I folded laundry.  We all talked about personal safety and taking care of each other.  It was a great bit of family time. Everyone was being kind to each other.  D and K were not competing to be "FIRST!" or "BEST!", we just talked while A snored away in the rocking chair.  It's days and nights like these that make it great to be the mom!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Does this shirt make me look piratical?

A says it makes me look like a pirate.

I don't see it.....