Thursday, December 31, 2009

Favorite Food Discoveries of 2009

This year marked a new era for my taste buds. They were ready for something more adventurous. Most things were there all along and I just had to try them. What did the world have to offer?

1. Amazing Grass--this is the only way I know of to get 9 servings of vegetables per day with an added dose of probiotics. Yucky, but worth it.

2. Tandoori Naan--bread Indian-style and so delicious after heating 2 minutes in the oven with hummus or good ole' buttah...

3. Multi-grain sandwich flats

4. Laughing Cow creamy Swiss wedges--Could a snack be any more fun to open? Eat plain, on French bread, crackers, and combined with the above sandwich flats they do wonders for a cold cuts.

5. clementines--tiny oranges packed with juice and flavor.

6. whole, organic, shelled almonds--vitamin E in a delicious crunchy capsule

7. Kookaburra black LIQUORICE--Get a little more Iron in a soft chewable form. I never ate black licorice in my life without gagging until my friend told me to try these. Yum! and all natural ingredients!

8. California Pizza: move over pepperoni these frozen pizzas have all kinds of fun toppings from BBQ chicken to alfredo and spinach.

9. 100 percent tangerine juice:a tangy twist to regular O.J. like the name implies.

10. roasted pine nuts--Ooooh. these bring back memories of Christmases past. They are expensive and only available in the winter harvest. So just get them and definitely roast them--it's worth it.

11. Chocolatier Blue truffles--for a mere $2 a truffle you can experience heaven. Don't eat and drive. You'll want your full attention to savor these. Available at Tony Caputo's deli in Salt Lake in the most exotic and exciting flavor combinations like "passion fruit caramel apple." Aren't they beautiful???

Unfortunately, we were unable to find one of our dear favorites...maybe it has been discontinued this year and if so....we are begging Breyer's to PLEASE PUT IT BACK ON THE SHELVES....

Bubble Yum ice cream.

What are your new favorites?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Gifts for the small-brained.

Was it snowing big beautiful snowflakes today where you live? The kind that make you want to run outside open your arms, twirl, and catch them in your mouth. Or maybe that kind of weather makes you want to stay inside, make gingerbread houses, drink hot chocolate and snuggle...I've been watching "Elf" way too much. We did the former. Today we read a story called "The Tree that Trimmed Itself." It is about a little pine tree that gave gifts of nature to all the animals in the forest. So we bundled up and trekked to the "forest" aka city park to find the perfect tree. We found a bush-y thing, and got busy decorating it. We smeared pinecones with PB and sprinkled on seeds for the squirrels and birds. We also found some very decorative bean pod things which looked like great natural tinsel and put dried berries on them for the mice. How grateful the forest animals will be when they venture out on Christmas morning to find their gifts! Probably as grateful as Santa will be for the fudge we're going to leave for him and for the hay and sugar cubes we have for the reindeer...(if Buddy doesn't get to them first) MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL..young or old, rodent or human!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Before I forget...

Remember all that cleaning I was complaining about? Well, it was worth it. We had a very fun and memorable Thanksgiving weekend. My parents came from SLC as well as my oldest sister, her oldest son Ben and youngest daughter Annie who has a husband and toddler. Not a huge group but one that fit snugly around our table.
Thanks to pop-up timers and turkey oven bags the meal turned out pretty darn delicious--especially the sausage stuffing.
We went to the park and played some football (way) after the meal, which by the way is a very rough game. I think I got a slight concussion when diving for the ball but, I recovered enough to be able to eat pie later and play our new game "Imaginiff" with everyone back at home.
Three generations of women headed for the Black Friday 11am. I passed up that 50- inch plasma T.V. and opted for $3 p.j.'s for the girls. We hiked in the red rocks above town, went swimming at the hotel pool, played more games, and had some Prime Rib at the local steakhouse (which was awesome because I didn't have to cook it or pay for it!)
My niece Annie and her little family stayed and extra day and they were rewarded for it. My very kind neighbor made her dreams come true by taking her and her husband horsebackriding. He only had a couple of extra saddles and well... there is someone who loves horseback riding even more than me.
How do you thank someone for making your niece's dreams come true? Ask if they will make your dreams come true of these days...pretty please... and then add a little card and giftie.
Great food, great family, great fun. I loved Thanksgiving this year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Insanely Domestic

I cleaned the oven today. What a messy thankless task.
I didn't want to kids to have to evacuate with one of those harsh chemically sprays so I researched some practical at-home rememedies. I found one about mixing equal parts baking soda, salt, and water to make a paste. Then I spread it all over those "tough stains." Next I baked it all in at 500 degrees for one hour. Eeek! It looked like the sand dunes in there and I think I saw a statue of Lot's wife.
Turns out I created WAY more of a mess than my oven already was!. Scraping, vacuuming, wiping... Obviously, I don't recommend this method. My advice would be to keep foil liner on the bottom of your oven so you never HAVE to clean it!

Oven-cleaning is just one of the many ridiculous domestic tasks I am doing to prepare for Thanksgiving at our home. I also cleaned out and organized the fridge, the cupboards, the drawers, and the kitchen garbage. Of course, I tried to get the kids to help in this. They were helpful for about 30 minutes and then set about making messes in the rest of the house.

The cleaning out of the cupboards reminds me of another piece of advice. When you are putting away your groceries and your Karo syrup container falls on the floor and gets a crack in it, don't be cheap and try to fix it with duct tape. Just consider it a total loss and throw it away--better to save the hour it will take to CHIP away at the mounds of hardened syrup on the cupboard floor later. I learned too late that melting them with hot water was much quicker.

I really don't like housecleaning but, in honor of the holiday, I'm going to say that I'm THANKFUL that I have a house to clean. And I'm thankful that I have 4 great kids who make it look lived in. I'm also THANKFUL that my family will be coming to help us celebrate. I really do love having company and decorating and cooking for them and having the origami towel animals ready to greet them on their beds (or maybe at least some leftover hotel shampoo samples. ) It's just that housecleaning is a real hang-up...which is why I'm asking for a housekeeper for Christmas.

Do you like cooking or cleaning better? (don't tell me if you like both.) And forgive me for getting ahead of myself with the holidays but what do you want for Christmas? Go ahead and dream big...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mom, Where is my Crocheting?

The latest craze at our house involves a hook and yarn. The girls have been learning to crotch-it (as my mom calls it.) She was able to give them some pointers last week when we stayed with her and my dad at a condo in St. George.

Brynn made this twirly scarf which was supposed to be for her but ended up being a perfect fit for her Julie doll.

To me, St. George is a heaven for shopping (I hit the 3.99 rack at Children's Place Outlet.) And with a couple of National Parks, it is a great place to enjoy nature.
Some of the cool places we visited:

Snow Canyon This place was mountains of fun. We climbed and climbed until we were too hot and tired to climb anymore. Kate thought it would be pretty funny to hide in the bushes while me and Adrie were finding our way down the trail. She jumped out acting like a rabid dog to get a good scare out of us. I should have known...she tries to scare or play pranks on someone in the family at least once a day! I don't get that. Adrie and I don't like being scared so we have made a rule that Kate pays us a quarter each time she scares us. Win win!

Sand Dunes: I wish we could export some of this super-fine sand to our backyard. If we just filled our shoes enough times...

After the seniors and children went to bed, BD and I snuck out in the evenings for some late night ping pong tournaments. We had some good rallies but I still can't seem to win a game! Ever heard of pickle ball? Q and T joined us one night for a double date on the courts. Very fun sport whether you can get the rules down or not!

We had a whole lot of fun with Q/T family at this park where Scandinavia playground technology meets desert. Forget regular old swings and slides, these apparatuses were so much fun; I was just wishing the kids would get off them so I could give them a try. I was able to spin myself sick on the one Adrie is pictured in above. T and T were doing the same in the other photo.
Thanks for another fun visit St. George! See you in the Spring for Sister's Week!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Firsts and Lasts

First snow day of the year!
And great day to celebrate with "snowman juice." Adrie was not amused when she found out that meant a glass of water.

Last day of gymnastics.
That will not stop them from practicing every day in the living room.

First time ever for me:
I was on the radio! Our local art gallery had an open house and invited me to be their "live music". While people strolled through, ate refreshments, and bought paintings, they could hear my solo cello playing and fill a hat with $ if they felt so inclined. (I did not know that I would be playing for tips when they originally asked me but that is how it worked out and luckily there was enough generosity to make it worth it)
Anyway the morning before all that, I was interviewed along with 2 of the featured artists on the local radio station. Had I known it would be easy questions like, "What kind of music do you like to play?" I wouldn't have been so nervous. "umm....Classical? and like other cool stuff?" Okay, I didn't really say that--but whatever I said, it was very sophisticated even though Brandon said I sounded young with my high nervous/excited voice.

Along those same lines and another first:
I brought in an income this month--enough to cover a few date nights anyway, and not just from playing for tips but a couple other gigs. It was like having a part time job--a super fun one. How wonderful that even in this down economy some people are still able to hire a string quartet to play for their birthday party:)

Definitely a first and probably a last:
Brandon hit a 450 yard drive on a par 5 hole. For those of you who don't speak golf-- that means he hit the ball really super far--it basically bounced off the pavement walkway and came to rest 30 yards from the hole. His intention that weekend was to go to the temple but, when he got there it was closed for repairs!!! He was able to make lemonade out of lemons by going instead to Palisades golf course.

Annual field trip to the pumpkin patch--

Great time, only the farmer guy made a less than cool decision to yell out profanities about how homeschoolers end up on welfare????!!! I'm still figuring that one out...anyway and Luckily, for him I was not right there to defend us (by throwing a pumpkin). I only found out later from my sweet neighbor who took the brunt of the verbal beating. Technically, we were there with our "online charter school" but sometimes it's easier just to say "homeschool," which is the word my neighbor chose to use. Obviously, it doesn't fly well with some people?? Still trying to figure that one out too...
Maybe that will be the LAST time we patronize that peck of pickled pumpkin patch! Phooey, I'm over it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Accepting Fall

Having had such a wonderful summer and with a beach trip still fresh in my mind, I have had a hard time accepting that Fall is really here. But, I found out today that the best way to cure yourself of the never-wanting-summer-to-enders disease is to drive up into the mountains and enjoy the foliage. It is pretty cool that we live in a place where we get to see Autumn in it's full glory-- fiery red maple leaves and gold and green scrub oak.We packed up some field guides, bags for collecting, and snacks and headed to this little canyon 20 minutes away for some "nature appreciation."
I'm going to get a bit nerdy here and tell you all what we learned in our nature field guide.
You can eat the seeds of those maple trees raw or roasted. You can also tap a spigot 2 cm into the bark in the early winter and boil and eat the syrup that drips out. It's a good source of B vitamins unlike it's storebought counterpart. What? you already knew that?!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Look What Washed in with the Tide

We're back from a wonderful trip to Doheny State Beach in California and guess what? The only souvenirs we came home with were seashells and a boogie board.

I'll try to sum it up:
DAY 3: Drive to a different BEACH
DAY 4: Pack up and say goodbye to BEACH

It is amazing that the beach can offer such all inclusive free entertainment: hours of chasing waves, walking along the shore where the waves break and spill out into bubbly foam, digging sand tunnels, collecting shells, putting on a seaweed fashion show, boogie boarding in the big afternoon waves, and exploring tide pools.

My trip to the library paid off. Getting to CA seemed snappy quick because we were engrossed in our audio CD Witches. Both Brandon and I were able to read on the beach. That is one of the loveliest things to do in the world. At night we read scriptures and stories with the girls around the campfire.
Luckily, BD and I were able to set up our brand new cabin tent. It only took us 3x longer what the reviews said it would. The campground was a mix of RV's and tents. We had campers on all sides of us and were close enough to hear their conversations, so that first night I felt a bit like I was in a refugee camp--except a beautiful one with drinking fountains, bathrooms and pay showers nearby. Had I known I was only 2 quarters away from feeling clean and civilized again I wouldn't have waited 3 days to shower. As it was Brandon had to wake up next to a wife who he lovingly called "Wanda Barzee."

One day we drove along Pacific Coast Highway to explore some other beaches. Laguna was my favorite. We parked and walked down to spend the day at one of the most beautiful beaches. The water was as blue as Adria's eyes. There were sealions barking from a rock in the distance.
Kate observed that I was the only woman wearing a one piece swimsuit--and that was with a skirt. To really fit in one needed a bikini and a tattoo. (beach body not required)

We stopped at a taco stand and the rest of the week ate out once or twice. Around the campfire we had hot chocolate, cereal for breakfast. The girls were almost as excited about the the snacks I packed as they were for the trip.

It was nice to take a break from being me: I didn't think about the yard or the house or school once while we were gone. If Cannon spilled his cereal after I poured it? Oh well, just rub it into the dirt. If the girls went to bed and didn't brush their teeth? Oh well. If Cannon shoved a sand-encrusted cheeto in his mouth? Big deal. We didn't even have to have the dreaded bedtime routine. The girls were so exhausted by the end of the day they actually PUT THEMSELVES TO BED! Yup, they would just walk right into the tent and fall down asleep in their bag... a true vacation for me.

Well, it was a good time for all. Driving home we stopped in Riverside and visited one of my college roommates. She didn't seem to mind that we smelled of campfire and sea salt. I heard the malls calling to me from the sides of the freeway but again, Brandon kindly reminded me that the only way I would fit in there is if I were lugging around my belongings in a shopping cart. When we passed Vegas, Brynn said she wanted to live there because it had so many tall buildings and airplanes. Of course there were many other things to see that we hoped they wouldn't. Kate read a billboard outloud and said to us "Adult Super Store? UGH! That must be the boringest store ever! It only has stuff for grown ups!"
We will definitely do this trip again. Maybe explore a different state park. What would I bring next time? An umbrella for shade (we got pretty unavoidably tan) I know, it's hard to believe I could be tan. Also a GPS would have been stinkin' awesome and a CELL PHONE.
All this for $25 a night. Who's up for the next road trip?

Saturday, September 19, 2009


The excitement is mounting at our house. Kate can't even fall asleep thinking about it. We have spent the weekend packing, cleaning, and preparing for it. Monday we'll be waking up early for it. It's finally here...our BEACH trip.

Friday I went to the library. What could be better to read on the beach than my childhood favorite, Island of the Blue Dolphins. I also checked out Life of Pi for Brandon, although I'm tempted to read it again too. And how about Harry Potter and Roald Dahl's Witches on audio-CD for some listening excitement in the car.

I bought enough FOOD at Wmart to last us a month (in case we serendipitously get stranded there)

We also purchased our first TENT.

The house is CLEAN. (by my standards)

I did all the LAUNDRY, our swimwear is packed, along with some sweatshirts for around the campfire.

The CAR is filled it with gas and the oil changed.

We're ready to get our fill of sand and sun.

Would this be your idea of a vacation? No TV, no computer, no phone, no shower, no make-up, no school, no housework?

Friday, September 4, 2009

I really should be...

Why am I sitting here at the computer when I really should be...

  • packing for a weekend trip
  • getting my eyebrows waxed before Brandon's 20 yr. high school reunion tonight
  • cleaning so I can come home to a nice house
  • making zucchini bread out of the produce our friend generously donated
  • leveling our dirt with a backhoe so we can get a yard in before fall
  • planning a Sunday lesson (I'm substituting in Primary)
  • delivering a little gift for my neighbor's birthday
  • spending my birthday money
  • reading one of the 4 books I've started on the nightstand
  • moving around so I can at least have excercised more than once this week
  • finding out which house in the neighborhood my kids ended up at

The clock is ticking. I better get to at least a couple of these and that will at least count as excercising right?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Weekend: part deux

What else happened while Dad was away...
Our neighborhood rented this and Buddy got into this

Way to refresh on a hot day! We all chipped in $15 for some splashy fun. Even I couldn't resist --and let me tell you-- that angle produces some serious SPEED!

Moving on...Buddy was actually feet up flailing, head down in the 5 gallon flour bucket. Yikes! Those ALERT "Children can fall and drown" warnings on the buckets are for real. Luckily this was flour and not water and so his cries were only slightly muffled.

Welcome Home Dad! Everything was under control while you were away...really....

Friday, August 21, 2009

Surviving without Dad

The girls reminded me yesterday that when Dad goes on his annual brothers camping trip it is time for us to have some extra girly fun: movies, shopping, and salon treatment.
Last night we kicked off the party with carameled popcorn and a movie, "Princess Protection Program" It was oozing with girlyness. We loved it.

I was excited for the chance to sleep diagonally on the bed (which is my preferred sleeping position) but I got little bit scared of all the noises after 10pm and so I carried Princess Adrie in with me. Even in her sleeping stupor I felt confident she would protect me from the monsters under the bed and she did! She woke up quite pleased to be in Daddy's spot.

This morning the girls received salon treatment at the local beauty college. Buddy was really WOWED by the results as you can see. While they were getting their hair princess-styled he spent a good time in the lobby knocking over shampoo displays while I rearranged them. After, we went on a shopping spree at the local thrift store (D.I.) where you can get a book AND a toy for under $1. This was Kate's idea. She is our thrifty princess and so she was excited to find a strapping Hercules doll to marry one of her Barbies. Their new-to-them toys have already provided hours of good cheap fun.

Later we'll probably watch another girly movie and paint our nails or something. With all the kicks our wiggly princess Adrie gave me last night I might be brave enough to sleep alone tonight!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Organ donation

We were recently the lucky recipients of an ORGAN, a healthy wooden musical giant organ.
Our neighbors said they wasn't usin' it none (they really don't talk like that I was just thinking of that scene in "Oh Brother" when he sold his soul to the devil.) Like the guitar guy, they were happy to get rid of it.
Anyway, yeah, it's in the garage until it can have a special place in the basement which should be finished sometime this year. Like maybe before family comes for Thanksgiving.

What are we going to do with it?
Take lessons from somebody...? I've always wanted to be the ward organist. Maybe our girls will want to give it a try. We had an organ in the living room when I was growing up. My mom taught organ lessons on it. Guess she's the somebody that will have to come down and teach us! Could you blame me for not passing up a free musical instrument?

Just when we thought our summer couldn't get more exciting......we planned a camping trip...on the BEACH! (Desperation is a great teacher) If I had not been going through 3 years of beach withdrawals I might never have found out that you can camp there for as little as $25 a night! We don't own any camping gear, unless you count princess sleeping bags and our van. But, I have never been more excited to get some! Afterall, this will be a lifetime investment. If waking up on the beach and going to sleep on the beach and spending all day on the beach is that easy I'm going to want to do it often. So, our trip is planned for mid-September and I am feeling like I have a great life. We can work on the yard, finish our basement, and still afford a beach vacation!
Camping rocks!...organs are cool too.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Africa Unite!

We have a new person to add to our nightly prayers. "Please bless Sami in Africa." My awesome niece Sami is with a group of BYU students volunteering in UGANDA, Africa. She has been wonderful to set up a blog and keep us posted on her adventures.
It has been a good opportunity for our family to learn about that part of the world and realize how much we have!!!

If anyone wants to share in the adventure check out:

Also, this is a great cause to DONATE to. The students aren't allowed to give money to people but they use money to help buy commodities or supplies to train villagers how to be able to get out of poverty (like building campstoves)
I'm usually pretty stingy with my $ but after reading about Africa I feel a call to serve. A little of our money goes a long way there. Brynn is giving one of her $2 and Kate is giving $3.

For more info or to give go to click on DONATE NOW and dedicate any amt. under the name Samantha Lynch. She would really use the funds to be able to help the people there.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Start a Revolution

These are not ordinary kids playing on an ordinary playground. NO Sireeee! This is actually a revolution... a French revolution. This week was Bastille Day (July 14). Don't tell me you've never celebrated before?!

Fireworks, picnics, parades--this is big stuff in France. We are always looking for a partay! So we invited some fellow partiers to join us at the park for this one.

Here you see the angry bourgouise storming the Bastille and shouting, "LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY." That'll show King Louis XVI !

Marie Antoinette's response to the starving oppressed French people, "Let them eat Cake!"

A fellow Parisian doing just that.

And how about a little "Tour de France" anyone?
Get out your picnic blanket and a spread of french bread, cheese, fruit, and a little bubbly...who wouldn't want to celebrate!