20 February 2009

The HICCUPotamus - a FABULOUS Children's book

This is one of my favorite kid's books. It is marvelously illustrated, and has terrific rhymes. They may not all be words, but it is fun enough to want to read it over and over again.

I find this book to be perfect for kids of ALL ages (including adult), and love it because hiccups are spontaneous. They come spontaneously, and they leave just as quickly. This book is about a little hippopotamus and his friends and how they discover hiccups. I love the full color illustrations and the fact that each little character has so much personality.

One of my favorite features of this book is the character sketches at the end - I'm sure those are meant for the Adult kids reading this book... they make me laugh every time.

I give this book a 10 - meaning that it was a must have on my shelf to read over and over and over again - from the first time I read it.

The HICCUPotamus, by Aaron Zenz can be found at Scholastic book fairs around the country.

Word of caution: reading the book may very well cause the reader to develop a bad case of the hiccups themselves. Read with caution...

19 February 2009

Another super easy bread recipe

This is one that was given to my by my sister in law. I like it because you only let it rise one time and it goes together really quickly. For those of you who like the smell of fresh bread or love the taste of home made rolls without a lot of time, this is the perfect recipe. I've put rolls on the table from start to finish within 45 minutes (depending on how hot my wood stove is to rise rolls next to...)

Divine Dinner Rolls (also makes really good Cinnamon Rolls)

3 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1 T salt (yes, that really is how much you need)
1/2 c. oil

1 c. warm water
3 T yeast
1 t. sugar

1 c. warm water
3 c. flour
1/2 c. warm water
3 c. flour

Combine the yeast, water and sugar in a small bowl - let soften for 5 minutes. In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, oil, salt and sugar. Blend well. Add the yeast mixture and stir. Add the second cup of water and the first three cups of flour (I have added this as two cups whole wheat flour and one cup of white flour for wheat rolls), blend well. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of water and the remaining flour. Mix again. Dough will be sticky. Let rise until doubled and then knead on the counter - I always add an additional cup (at least) of flour. Roll out immediately and shape into the rolls that you want. If you let this rise again, expect miniature bread loaves instead of rolls with you dinner. Bake at 350 for approximately 15-18 minutes or until rolls are golden brown.


18 February 2009

Wharp Speed Ahead...

No, you're not experiencing a time wharp. I accidentally posted two posts that were supposed to wait until the end of the week. When I re-set the time, they posted today anyway, only with a different date. So... if you want to wait and read them later, feel free. Otherwise, take a break for the next few days, I know I will.

It Went REALLY Fast...

The Write-Away Contest hosted by Scribbit

IT was a maroon color with a white background and a custom paint job. A small bell hung near the front tire, just for luck. The Indian painted on the front inspired countless questions, and the Eagle on the back was lifelike. It was truly a case of love at almost first sight. The Man riding it looked dangerous with his black leather jacket and chaps. His helmet sat - backwards - atop a dirty rag that covered his head to keep it warm. I was intrigued. What kind of a man could own such a machine? And was I willing to jump with both feet into a relationship with him? And then, the invitation.

While I was in love with the idea - A MOTORCYCLE... (and the man), I was also scared to death of it. After all, I had never been on the back of something that could go that fast and didn't require a seatbelt. I stared at it for a long, long time. He assured me that it was perfectly safe and that I wouldn't get hurt - or, worse yet, DIE. Still, I was apprehensive.

Finally, and at the last minute, I agreed to just sit on it. And then, He fired up the engine. That alone was enough to make me want to get off. It was LOUD. And SCARY! And I just knew that I was going to fall off. Still, I strapped on a borrowed helmet and held on for dear life. Slowly (although it seemed like we were going 60 MPH in a 15 MPH zone) we pulled out of the driveway. I held in the scream when the bike suddenly lurched forward with a burst of power. Instantly I felt the exhilaration of the wind blowing across my face... and the pain of a bug slamming at 35 miles per hour into my forehead. I was hooked. I burst into laughter. With sheer joy, I clung to the back of this Man with whom I was rapidly falling deeper and deeper in love. Around the block. Through the streets of the small town. Up the hill around the zoo. Around curves that made my heart leap into my throat. I wanted to close my eyes, but something stopped me. This was too much fun.

I could hardly wait to get back on after dinner was over. I wanted badly to ride again. To sit back and enjoy the wind cruising past my hair. To lean against the saddlebags and almost - but not quite - fall asleep... this was the life.

This wonderful man who introduced me to the thrill of the road bought me my own set of leathers. It was the ultimate in committment for me - even better than an engagement ring; it meant that he wanted me - and only me - to ride on the back of his most treasured possession with him. We eventually got married. For our first trip together, we rode the bike 500 miles. My seat hurt. To pass the time I counted the little white lines in the road. I sang songs. When it rained, I got wet. Still, I loved it.

We sold that bike less than a year ago. Even though it was just a toy and not something that we needed, I cried. I was surprised at how I was affected by this loss - for to me, it truly was a loss. We may never have THAT BIKE back, but eventually, we'll get another. We'll make more memories together with it. I may never have MY FIRST BIKE again, but I will always have the memories associated with it.

This post brought to you by the writing contest at Scribbit. Check her site out - it's really cool!

16 February 2009


"If you want something done, ask a busy person."

Someone told me that I should record my schedule from the past few weeks - because no one would believe that I could do it. After much thought and retrospect, I've decided to do just that. Because I don't believe that I have survived so well...

Two weeks ago (February 1, 2009), I started working long hours at the Portland Oregon Temple. At the same time, Mr. Snicklebutt started working LONGER hours - also at the Portland Oregon Temple... and times that were NOT the same as mine. He works from 7 am - 5:30 pm. I work from 8 pm - 4:30 am. This means that he leaves our house at 6 am, and I leave the house at 7 pm. In effect, we have 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening with each other. Some may find this wonderful - I find it stinky. I like being able to spend a few minutes (or hours) with my spouse discussing the day and what went well and what didn't and how the children were and why I'm so dang exhausted. We haven't had that time. In a few minutes, I'll explain what this has done for our relationship.

My day begins at 7:30 in the am. And yes, for those of you who are friends with Math, this means that I am getting to bed somewhere around 5:30 am and getting up two hours later. This is not always a pretty sight as one 7-year old can attest. Thankfully, (or should I say, MERCIFULLY) I am able to go back to sleep sometime around 8:30 am. This too is very short lived, as I am more than likely awake again around 11 am. Unfortunately, this is when the day really begins. I do laundry, dishes and play with children. Then, if I'm lucky, they take naps, and so do I. Nap time is ALWAYS over at 2 pm when aforementioned 7-year old is finished with school. Then it's home to help with homework (or the quick trip to the grocery store), and clean the house and then make dinner and maybe get in the shower to prepare for work... then off to work as soon as Mr. Snicklebutt gets home and feeds the animals and we bring wood into the house. Sometimes I make cookies and occasionally I make bread during my few waking hours as well.

Don't add the hours of sleep, you'll get tired too.

How has this affected my relationship with Mr. Snicklebutt? Strangely, it's brought us closer together. We are realizing how important it is for us to spend time daily with each other. We are also realizing how important it is for us to communicate clearly - and the importance of treating each other as if we are the most important part of each other's lives. As I leave a note for Mr. Snicklebutt in his work bucket nightly, I'm finding little ways to tell him that I love him. And I'm finding those notes in his pockets when I do the laundry. This says a lot to me. It tells me that he's paying attention to those notes (except the one that he threw away thinking that someone was just putting garbage in his bucket...); and it tells me that he finds me important enough to want to pay attention to those little notes.

I am eternally grateful that this work is rapidly coming to an end. I'm tired. No, I'm exhausted. On the other hand, I don't want this closeness to end. I don't want these last few weeks of becoming close and paying attention to the little things to come to an end. And as I type this, I realize that it doesn't have to. It is, however, one more thing that I'll find myself doing... and it's all worth it in the end.

15 February 2009

Through the Lord's Eyes

A few weeks ago I had an epiphany. All at once, I started seeing a few people differently. Maybe it was because I had been really struggling with some events that were going on in my life (still are, just aren't top priority anymore); maybe it was because I stopped looking at myself so much and started to think about others a little more. Whatever the cause, the effect is that I started to see things a little more like the Lord may see things.

We all know people who may not top the world's "top 10 best list" (whatever that list may be - looks, talent, etc.). Sometimes, as mortals, we make judgements on those people. Personally, I'm guilty. I have come to understand that I am NOT responsible for making a personal "top 10 best" list unless I am making that list for myself.

It all started in December. We had some terrible weather and I started working longer hours. Mr. Snicklebutt stopped working (he's in the construction industry and that particular industry basically ceased to function as a money making scheme) and someone tried to point out to me a few of my faults. No one likes to have their faults pointed out, but with enough love and tact, it can be successfully accomplished without the recipient feeling like a total loser. Not so in my case. I quickly ended the phone call feeling lousy. The odd thing was, nothing of importance was said! The sentence started out "I have a few concerns about..." Immediately I went into defense mode and decided that I did't want to listen anymore. And then, I started to make a list. It was a top ten list - only it was all negative. A list of things that I was feeling. A list that said without saying, "I'll show you!". And for two months I used that list as fodder for how I was feeling.

Until a few weeks ago when I simply stopped caring. Sure, the issue is still there and eventually the Elephant that is standing in my living room is going to need to be invited out. HOWEVER... I am no longer as emotionally attached to said elephant, and I feel that I will be able to invite him to leave. It won't be easy - have you ever tried to get an Elephant through your door??? But I feel that I will be able to address the issue without all the emotion that caused me to so vehemently make a top ten list.

Why the change? I started looking for ways to change. I looked in the mirror and realized that I didn't like myself. I didn't like the way that I was causing myself to feel over something so simple as a comment... "I have a few concerns..." It was literally wearing me out. I was exhausted. I was spiritually, emotionally and mentally exhausted. After all, carrying around an Elephant for that long can be wearing! And, I started to look at the situation through the Lord's eyes.

I was standing in line at the grocery store when I saw a woman who wasn't at all attractive. Not at first. The longer I stared, and yes, I was caught staring, the more I was able to see her for who she really is - a daughter of God. I don't know this woman. I've never seen her. She could have been carrying what seemed to her to be the weight of the world on her shoulders. But in an instant and for an instant, she was absolutely gorgeous. It was an "Ah-ha" moment. I had the distinct impression that I was in the wrong for judging someone else. I may still feel that they are in the wrong for wanting me to change, but it's all a matter of pride.

Am I willing to let my pride go and listen to the thoughts and feelings of another, or do I want to always do things my way? Do I want to see if there are other ways to do something, or do I always have to be right? And what would the Savior do or say? Mr. Snicklebutt suggested to me that we invite the person with whom I have an issue over for dinner. At the time, I wasn't ready to listen to that small prompting from someone who knows me well enough to know that really I want to forgive them and to love them as the Savior does. Perhaps now would be a good time to let go of my pride and extend the invitation.

There are two ways of looking at things. One is through the eyes of the world; with their top ten lists and ways to change other people. The other is through the Lord's eyes where everyone is equal and loved for their differences. My desire is to continue to see through the Lord's eyes... and perhaps then, I'll become the person that He wants me to be.

First Ever! Share the Love...

For the first time, EVER... Just a Thought is going to be participating in this contest that comes to you courtesy of my sis, for whom I am accepting the challenge.... I'm probably NOT the third on her list, but you never know...

For my sis, this was all about Single Awareness Day and for a friend of hers. For me, since I've missed the headline on her blog, I've decided to take this one step farther... SO... Let the games begin!

The first 3 people to leave a comment on this will receive a hand made gift from me during this year. When and what will be a surprise. There's a small catch...You knew there would be didn't you? Post this on your blog then come back and leave a comment, telling me you're in. In other words, you have to participate too.

So... pass this site on to all you know, and good luck!

11 February 2009

Tasty Honey Wheat

And that's putting it mildly...

Now, I know that there are some out there who are still making bread. Maybe not Fiona, because she's so incredibly busy, but I wouldn't put it past her with all the talent that she has... this may just be one of her hidden ones.

Anyway... I got a wonderful bread recipe from my sister, and then played with it because I found that I didn't have some of the ingredients that her recipe required. The end result was a divine Honey Wheat Bread that you can actually taste the honey in!

It's really simple and makes wonderful sandwich bread.

My Sister's Wheat Bread - Modified

2 T dry yeast
2 c. warm water (warm being if you run it over your forearm it's not hot and it's not cold...)
3/4 c. honey
1/3 c. melted butter
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. whole wheat flour (no, I did NOT grind this myself...)
3-4 c. bread flour

Dissolve the yeast in the water (I sometimes add 1 T. sugar) and let it sit for 5 minutes. Add the honey, butter and salt and blend well. Stir in the Whole Wheat Flour. Add the Bread flour one cup at a time until you have a stiff dough (I did this by hand, and used all 4 cups of flour). Let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Turn out onto a floured counter and knead the dough for 10 minutes, adding in flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to anything. (I added up to 1 additional cup of flour). If you are fortunate enough to have a Bosch food mixer, just add all the bread flour at once and let your mixer do the kneading for 8 minutes or so. ( I tried this with my Kitchenaid, but it made it really hot, and I had to stand there to keep it from bouncing off the counter. I'd rather knead by hand.)

Place in a greased bowl and turn to grease the top. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled (anywhere from 1/2 to 1.5 hours, depending on the warm spot). You can tell if it's all ready to mold into bread if you place your two first fingers in the dough and it leaves an indentation.

Mold into two loves, place in loaf pans, cover and let rise again. Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes. Bread should sound hollow when tapped.

Give it a try! I dare you.

10 February 2009

The Memory Keeper's Daughter - fiction

It has been said that the average millionaire reads 1 non-fiction book every month. I'm not sure I have that kind of time. (Evidenced by the fact that I am still NOT a millionaire...) It has, in fact, taken me nearly 3 months to read the one non-fiction book that I started out to do a book review on. In that time, I have decided that I would like to do four book reviews a month. This is the first. The other three will include a children's book (for those who still read them), a young adult book (because I still read them - they seem to be nearly without smut...), and a non-fiction book (which will, probably be the last in the monthly series).

It took me two weeks to read The Memory Keeper's Daughter. Not that it wasn't a good book, it just wasn't as riveting as I thought it might be when I first picked it up. This book was written for adults (no, there aren't any steamy scenes in it) and is based on the story of two families who are linked by one girl.

It starts on a snowy night with the birth of twins. One, a perfect little boy. The other, a little girl with Down Syndrome. This is the story of her parents. Her birth parents, and the Mother who found herself with a baby that the father didn't want. What I found interesting about this particular situation is that the father was the doctor who delivered the twins, and the birth mother was told that the little girl had died. Through a series of events, the father was rendered unable to fix his lie. This is the story of how that lie eventually destroyed their marriage.

It is also the story of how a little girl was fought for. How she succeeded in life despite her challenges and difficulties. It is also the story of a nurse who found herself with a difficult decision to make and who chose one that, in my opinion, was the right one. A mother who found love - eventually, and learned to forgive the mistake that she had not had the choice to decline.

In the end, it is the story of a family who is re-united, though not in the way that I expected, and, probably, not to the satisfaction of many who will read this book.

I found this to be a well writen book - somewhat slow in parts, but a good read none-the-less. While I would not give this above an 8 (that would mean that I HAVE to have it on my bookshelf for additional reading again and again), I would score it as a 7.9. It was good enough to finish and I would recommend it to people.

If you are so inclined to read this book, you can find it at your local library. The Memory Keeper's Daughter, by Kim Edwards.