Sunday, August 31, 2008

We Started Young

I have been blog-hopping tonight and came upon quite a few friends whose firstborns started kindergarten or first grade this past week. They are all adorable, and made me feel old! My oldest is 10, and starting 5th grade this year. Then it dawned on me, that I am actually younger than at least half of said friends, and I was simply blessed to have found my Robear sooner than most people get to. I was 18 when we met and 19 when we married (after an interminable 6 month engagement!). Then we were blessed to be pregnant by our 1st anniversary...
And I haven't forgotten that I need to continue my life since High School story, but it is ridiculously late and I have used up my time checking up on you!
I love you guys.

Don't you love the suspense!?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Life Since High School (Wasn't High School Life?), chapter 1

Let us begin during the sunny summer of 1995... High School graduation was long past and I was living with some friends planning my trip to Utah in the fall to attend BYU. I truly had basically no money, but had many Angels taking care of me as well as a new job at Cloth World, so I was doing ok. Early in the summer the family I was living with (the Molen Family) told me they were driving to Utah for the Deaf Symposium at BYU, so I could hitch a ride with them. Subsequently I lived with 2 different families after arriving, as school didn't start for a while and the dorms weren't available. I stayed with Lee, a friend of the Molens, for a couple of weeks, then moved in with Brad and Amy (if I'm remembering the order right). I did have a home when school started, but had to wait until the dorms were available to move in. While I waited, I puttered a lot, until I discovered a Cloth World down the street from where I was (with Brad and Amy; thanks, guys!) and walked over to apply. Meanwhile Christine got to visit, that was fun, and I worked on my tie skirt (that's just for my info and I'll explain if you really want later). Getting the job at Cloth World was really funny and wonderful, b/c I walked in and asked if they had any jobs available and the manager, Jen, asked about my experience and I told her I'd worked at a Cloth World in Houston. She said, "So, you're already trained?" "Yes." "You're hired, come back later and fill out the paperwork." Jen was awesome, I totally loved her. She had a daughter she named Serendipity, and called Seren. How cool of a name is that? I wish I could remember her last name. I worked there for years (Angel took his 1st steps in Cloth World), through several managers, and a buyout by Jo-Ann's, until I got a job on campus in the costume shop (but that's later in the story).
I was fairly set after that as I had the VA benefits my dad set up paying me a monthly stipend after school started. I absolutely loved the dorms. Some people hate them, not me! I wish we could live in dorms always, seriously. My neighborhood in Heaven (provided I make it) will be set up like the dorms! I had a great roommate, Armine, who only spoke Spanish, but we got along really well anyway. In retrospect, that would have been a great year for me to learn Spanish(!), but I was busy with other things. I adored all the girls on my floor and we had so much fun. They even elected me floor president the 1st semester. And Jeanie was the coolest RA in the universe!
Late in October I met Robert. If I remember correctly, we met in the Cafeteria (the dorms we lived in had a cafeteria, no kitchens). I was being my High School exuberant self and invited him to sit with us. I was also being totally myself b/c I figured he was no threat romantically and I didn't have to impress him, b/c (if any of you remember him without the beard) he looked like he was a freshman, so I knew I would not get involved with him, b/c he was P.M.: Pre-Mission. I was not getting involved with a guy, then send him off on his mission while I was lonely for 2 years. Turns out he was Post Mission. Tiffany sat with us and she'll tell you how we hit it off pretty quickly. And as any of you with relationship experience know, it's when you totally let your guard down and are yourself that you tend to impress the guy or girl, as the case may be. A couple of days later, he asked me for my phone number, and we were basically connected at the phone or hip from then on. I regret that I didn't get to become as close with a lot of the girls in my dorm after I met Robert, but I wouldn't do it any differently.

And now EJ is awake, needing a diaper change, and we get to run errands with a friend, so I'll start a new chapter tomorrow or when I get to it. Are you so excited!?

p.s. Robert, feel free to add to the story when you want to. Just highlight what you add or something.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Stuff to Post About: The Shortest Ones (Sorry, Life Since High School Will be Started Soon)

Ringworm... yuck. It hurts! Why has noone told me this before? Would it have made a difference? So, after treating Oliver's sad head for over 2 months now (it started as Ringworm and turned into another infection), I finally got it. At least it is clearly Ringworm. I hate not knowing what is wrong with me. At least I have a name for it, and it's not pretty. Well, I suppose it might be depending on your definition of pretty. It is a quarter sized circle on my upper right arm. It alternately itches, stings, and aches. Now that you know way more that you wanted to, it's time for a subject change...

Speaking of changes, did any of you notice that my Valiant Announcements section changed (look to the right sometime, people!)? Sunday morning a member of the Bishopric of our Ward called and asked if he could come over to chat with Robert and I. I was literally out the door to choir, so we decided on 12:30. I got home from choir and immediately had a dress in my lap that Isa was dying to wear to church, but needed serious mending, so I was working (on Sunday!?) on that while scarfing down some dino nuggets, when our sweet Bishopric Brother showed up. We relocated to the living room, and he asked if I would accept a calling to serve as the 2nd counselor in the Relief Society presidency (the Enrichment counselor)(Hey, believe you me, no one was more surprised than me!); Of course, I said yes, then I promptly asked if I would have to stop teaching "my kids." Sadly, he said yes. I am proud to say that my class was unhappy about it also; oh, to be loved by a class full of 11 year olds, how cool is that!? Now I am vacillating (the one SAT word I remember and love to use) between sheer terror at the magnitude of this calling and awe at the trust Heavenly Father has placed in me to do it (even though I know He'll be doing most of the work all along the way). I am also going to miss seeing my kids in class, although I have promised them treats if they will challenge themselves! And for those of you scratching your heads going, "She done started talkin' in Mormon-speak ag'in" (you know I love you and am just teasing, right?), quick translation: Relief Society is the women's organization (or as we like to think of it, the people that really run the church by keeping our sweet men in order and in the loop) in the church, and Enrichment is short for "Personal, Home, and Family Enrichment", which is a quarterly meeting of all the women in our ward (medium-ish group that meets together in an area). We usually have a meal, learn something Enrichment-y, have a spiritual lesson, and generally enjoy our sisterhood for a few hours. While I have you here, let me tell you how much I love Relief Society. I love Relief Society! I really love it! It so nice to feel like a part of a huge family. It's indescribable.

Insert appropriate segue here.
Today's UNFinished Crafts Day was wonderful. We had our 1st Sister not from my ward come (thanks, Megan!), probably b/c I don't really know too many people outside of church yet, but that's neither here nor there. We got lots done, even though I ended up doing mostly stuff my kids wanted (they'd been asking me to mend the snaps on their capes for a while). It's always fun to have a group of women over to share in the creative spirit that haunts me. The bad news is, it ended. Hours after it started, people started going home, until it was just me and my kids again.

And I had an epiphany.

People think I like entertaining, which is true, but the whole truth is -and the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem , right?- it's my drug. I totally get high when people come over or I have a big social gathering to do/go to/plan. Downside is I crash when it's over. So, like those pitiful people on real drugs, I keep having to find bigger and more often social gatherings to plan/attend/do. Sister Johnson has no idea what she's gotten herself into... (insert maniacal laughter here)

And the last thing I wanted to record for posterity and whoever is brave enough to have kept reading to this point is my latest crafty stuff (honestly I did work on a little of my crafts today). I am slowly faux etching the windows in my front entryway. I'm just using painter's tape to create a 1 inch border around each smaller frame and curving the corners a bit. It just takes a little while to get the tape up, then spray paint the "frosting" spray on the window (takes like 10 seconds), then I have to move the ladder so Horatio doesn't climb it, and work on it more later. For those of you who have visited our new home, you know our 1st room is a formal dining area which I use as my office/craft room. It has one wall that is all mirrors from halfway up the wall to the ceiling, and I knew what I wanted to do with it since we moved in. I'm going to do faux etching on it. I created a stencil out of contact paper today, which I will stick on and cut out the letters for, then spray with the "frosting." It says "Have you received His image in your countenance?" and a related scripture from the New Testament. (the pic to the left is my stencil) Perfect, right?

...and here's a shot of what my robear and EJ are doing while I've been blogging
Good night all.

Just a List of Blog Posts I Will be Adding Soon

-Ringworm, yuck.
-Social situations as drugs
-life since High school
-my latest crafts/projects on the house
-changing callings at church

I'm tired now and need to get my family's dinner on the table before 8. Think of me, please.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

He Makes Me Happy

I apologize to all one of you who stalk our blog for being so long in posting again. I stalk many of you and am always disappointed when at least 2 of you don't post something new each day!

Many of you know that Robert and I happily celebrated our 12 Anniversary last Friday (August 15th for those who want to remember to send us an expensive gift next year, a cruise maybe?). This was the 1st year that I have been able to tell Robert to buy me something; you know a nice something. Robert is good at creative, homemade gifts, but when he's not working he's with me, so he has no time to make something without me knowing about it generally! Anyways, who wants to guess what my husband gets me for our 12th Anniversary? Jewelery? Lingerie? Extremely sharp weaponry? OK, so not weaponry in so many words, but extremely sharp, yes! Shun sharp, to be exact. My sweet husband, who knows my great ambition to attend 2 more years of college at the Arts Institute (in the Culinary Arts Program), spent more money than should be spent for pressed steel and bought me a wonderful starter set of knives. Did I mention these are Shun knives, the kind Alton Brown uses? Wanna see? You know you do!

Now isn't that pretty next to the nice bowl my best friend from High School (Christine) gave me forever ago?

It's really only 4 knives, a honing steel, and some kitchen shears (the best kitchen shears ever!), but to a would-be chef it is the gift of knowing that my husband believes in me and wants me to keep learning and honing (pun intended) my talents in whatever venue they may be in.


Now that we've discussed the sordid present details (no, I didn't forget to give Robert his present; I'll tell you about it when it's done: computer problems... and he reads my blog, too, and I don't want to ruin the surprise), I want to record what we did for our anniversary. Robert's sweet cousin Marissa was home for a short time (they live in Baytown), and we got to have her stay with us for 2 whole nights (Thursday and Friday). Isabelle enjoyed immensely Marissa letting her sleep with her. Isa kept saying thank you in her prayers for her "sleepover" with Marissa. It was so cute. Our kids LOVE their cousin Marissa. Possibly b/c we spent so much time with them in Provo. For quite a few months, it wasn't a proper Sunday without Michael, Marissa, Ally, Tim, & Jodie (or some combination thereof) over for dinner, dessert, or games. Our family misses them all very much, and we are glad their parents live close by. Soooo, Marissa babysat Friday morning (you all remember Robert works 10 hour days M-Th, and takes Fridays off, right?) while we got to go to the temple and do some sealings. Other people renew their vows on their anniversary, well, to those of you who are not "Mormon", this is essentially the same idea. The main difference is we were being proxies for someone else who needed that ordinance done. We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to be baptized and sealed to their family for Eternity, but some people die before that can happen. In these cases the family of that person can submit their names and information to the temple and other people can come in and go through the ordinance in their place. You can only submit names of people in your family line generally. The ordinance is exactly the same as when you get married, so in essence we were renewing the sacred covenants we made the day we got married. And, as an added bonus, we had the great privilege of having as a sealer one of the men in my life who is like a father to me, was at our wedding, and helped me a lot when I was getting ready to be baptized. His sweet wife was also there, but she was doing other important work, so we only got to see her briefly. I won't mention names here b/c I don't know how they feel about privacy issues on the web, but it was wonderful. That was definitely the best part of our day. We stayed for almost 3 hours, and enjoyed some quiet, contemplative time in the Celestial room afterwards.

We had planned on only taking about an hour and a halfish in the temple and having lunch "out" before 1:30, but work needed to be done, so we stayed longer than originally planned, and Marissa was gracious enough to watch the kids some more so we could go out to eat. We had a wonderful lunch at Salt Grass Steakhouse (if you go, have the shrimp and chicken embrochette appetizer, YUM!), then went to the mall and got my present at Williams-Sonoma, and headed home from our 5 hour date. I don't think the kids would have noticed we were gone if we hadn't said good-bye before we left. They adore their cousins. Thanks again, Marissa!

Later in the evening we went to Barnes and Noble to find a book Robert really wanted (and found out a new edition is coming out in October, so we're waiting on that), then went to Doneraki for a late dinner. I think we were all disappointed there. Cultural icon yes, good eatery not so much. But it was good time to hang out with Marissa before she goes back to Provo, away from us again. Have I mentioned we love Marissa, Michael, Ally, Tim, & Jodie? They should all move here.

And now I think I will rescue my husband from the sleeping arms of Isa and probably Horatio so I can keep him up to watch a movie with me. If you have any questions, especially about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and temple work, please ask away, and I will answer to the best of my knowledge or point you to a better source.

p.s. UNFinished Crafts Day was another rousing success. If you missed it, come next time, we missed you!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

LDS Church Online Tech Talk

My sweet, albeit computer geeky, husband has asked that I post this on my blog. The church is doing a live streaming video conference tech talk. Follow the link for more info. I believe you need to register for the event and you can submit questions early for it.
Come on guys, we're in the 21st century now. I for one am glad the church is keeping up while maintaining the timeless standards the Lord has set for us.
On another slightly related note, here is a cool site dedicated to helping us to report and manage said reports for our Quorums, Relief Society, and other groups in the church. It's called
I'll do a personal post later.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Month in Pictures: Some Fun Tidbits of Our Life or Stuff I Meant to Post About But Kept Putting Off

I won't worry about dating any of these, except to let you know they are all July and August pics.

I was nursing Eliza-Jane when Mew decided he needed some snuggles. EJ didn't seem to mind, and was even very obliging. Cuddles all around. They both fell asleep this way, and I was lucky enough to have my camera within reach.

Playing in the sprinklers; ah, childhood!

Isa sewing for the first time! She's just sewing some buttons (very badly, I might add) onto some scrap fabric, but I was thrilled she even wanted to. I am a crafty person, so to those of you who are not, think baby's first steps, or even the birth of your first child. To those of you without kids, think about the best thing you've ever accomplished, now imagine teaching that to someone else and imagine/remember the 1st time they "get it". Cool, huh?

Oliver had this weird stuff on his head, so we went to the doctor, got some meds, and he took them for a month -with no change! So, the Doc decided we should take a "sample", which here means scalp my cute 8 year old. He got a little scalpel and scraped some gunk off while Oli waited patiently. Oliver was a very good patient and I was extra proud of him, and never posted about it. So here's a pic of Oli being silly before the scalping and the little sample with hairs still attached! Update: apparently it was a fungus like the Doc thought in the first place, but the meds killed that and left behind an infection which Oliver now gets to take "only" 2 weeks of meds for. We have no idea how he got it in the first place. Oh, the joys of parenthood. Wash your hands!

Horatio slept the whole visit, and was lucky enough to have this monkey to nap with.

"Mommy, won't you please open this even though we are at the Doctor's brand new office, and no food nor drink are allowed...?"

We finally took the Kittens to the Vet for their first shots. Here is a pic of Mew not enjoying getting his ear gunk sampled. We deal in gunk a lot around here. All the Kits did really well.

"They're coming to take me away, HAHA, they're coming to take me away!" Maybe I can get some sleep finally...

A very big, very fuzzy caterpillar I found in the back yard while trimming one of those huge bushes that look like tropical weirdness. When he curls up you can see he has these orange stripes. I'm betting that it's a defense mechanism to scare predators into thinking he's poisonous, but I didn't take any chances and only touched him with gloves on.

The Kittens have grown so much in the monthish we've had them. Aren't they cute deciding that my computer chair is theirs? NOT!

I think we may be overwatering a bit. That, or we have fairies.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I am Disappointed in Stephenie Meyer: Let the Hissing and Booing Begin warning:adult content discussed

*NOTE: I am not a professional writer, nor am I an expert in Literature or the Doctrines of the "Mormon" church. I am someone who has strong opinions and has an easy forum for airing them. So, do you have your grain of salt standing by? Good, then read on...

I started reading the Twilight series maybe a couple of months ago on the encouragement of a very good friend who I consider to be a strong, active member of the church (read: Mormon=Christian). I enjoyed the plot line and characters. I like how the author created an entire new world with all kinds of new "rules" for vampires and people and other mythical creatures. I was slightly put off by what I consider to be a childish and "selfish" writing style; I'll explain what I mean by a "selfish" writer in a bit. I really got into the strength of the love and need the main characters have for each other. I always feel as if the "normal" populace are too complacent about loving and needing other people, and I was drawn in by their passion for each other. I felt like I was warned on the very 1st page of the 1st book, when the main character points out that her favorite shirt is a tank top. But I glossed over it. Many people are not as into modesty as I am, and it seems to be a gray area as to what modesty is anyway. OK, since you asked, I will tell you what I consider modest. If you are a "member" you will know what I mean when I say modesty means covering any part of your body that is covered naturally by your underwear (after you've been to the temple). If you are not a member of my church, this means that you are covered from about your clavicle in front (no cleavage), with sleeves, with your stomach completely covered (even when you reach), and your pants/shorts/skirts go at least to your knees. Also it generally means 1-piece bathing suits, or a 2-piece that looks like a 1-piece, no bikinis. Obviously this means no tank tops. So I figured, "I'm being nitpicky", and I kept reading.

I had no problem with the first or second books. I even glossed over the idea that her boyfriend is sleeping with her (literally, for those of you who haven't read the books), and holding her while she sleeps, because she makes it very clear that she is fully dressed under the covers and he is on top of the covers simply holding her and watching her while she sleeps (vampires don't sleep in this world). I very much enjoyed the 1st 2 books, and read them each in a matter of days. Then I was bored with the writing style, so I wasn't in a hurry to read the 3rd book. Let me define for you now how I define a selfish writer, sometimes I am a selfish writer, but I think I've gotten better (a little). A selfish writer writes to hear themselves write. They may be inspired in their story and/or characters but they insist on using cool words, big words that no one knows the meaning of. And usually those words just don't work. You've all read a book where you had to read through a sentence a few times, b/c it was just so wordy you didn't get what it was saying the first 5 times, right? (I'm sure my blog is like that sometimes, but for me it's more because I write so stream of consciousness, and it runs together, rather than that I am wordy). I often felt like these books are very wordy to be wordy, and they remind me of what your Junior High English teacher told you was wonderful writing, very expressive and used lots of good vocabulary words.

But I digress, I would have kept going despite the wordiness. I would have kept going despite the idea that this girl believes that it is OK to have a best friend of the opposite sex who is not her true love, and sneak away from her true love to go visit her best friend (did I mention he's a guy?!). I would have kept going despite her obvious prejudices against marriage (which really surprised me, b/c we believe (this IS doctrine) that "The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan."). This character is in her own world, and Stephenie Meyer chose that she has no innate morals. She chose to not take this great opportunity to preach to the masses. That was her sad choice.

No, what bothered me was the swearing started in the 3rd book (I guess it's a "Straw the broke the camel's back" thing). Again, I am no expert on doctrine and this is a gray area. Especially since the swear words were of the H and D variety. I winced and glossed over the 1st 2. I paused at the 3rd, b/c I try to tell my self "3 strikes, and that's it" in these situations. But I really wanted to know what happens! Curse these stupid soap operas that are so compelling. And I kept reading... then I got to one part where they were in bed together (every night) and they are getting really passionate and it's very much an analogy for sex. She describes in great detail him grabbing her thigh and pulling it around himself, and I started wondering if I was in the middle of a "romance"(read:sex/pornography) novel. That's when I thought, I can't abide this any more. So I skimmed (b/c, I admit, I wanted to know what happens) and came upon a part where the best friend is hurt badly and she describes his swearing using another character. The character says he was swearing like a sailor basically and then took the name of the Lord in vain. He said it very flippantly. And that's where I gave up on Stephenie Meyer. I cannot tell you how the wind was knocked out of me. Yes, it is rampant is our society today to say, "Oh, my God". But it is neither a prayer nor a call to Him. It is taking His name in vain, and it's one of the original 10 commandments! Hello! People! Those original 10 have not changed. I am sorry I allowed myself to get taken in by the relationships and characters.

What you must understand is, I watch and hear these things all the time, from "normal" people. I am most disappointed b/c our church has enough trouble being considered Christian and that we are good moral people, and here one of our own is treading the thin line between choosing what is right and good and what is widely accepted as just fine. It's hard setting a good example and feeling like I have to be perfect for my "non-member" friends and family b/c I don't want them to think anything negative about the Gospel b/c of me. But put someone "Mormon" in the spotlight and people are suddenly calling me out the woodwork and going, "Oh, she's Mormon, is that what you believe?" I know there are people out there who believe that any publicity is good publicity (NOT ME). So here's a quick rundown of the basics of what we believe, and our views on family. These are both very short reads, and very concise.

So (I like the word so), to be clear, I know this is a work of fiction, but the potential there to make a clear statement was so great. I can't describe very well how I feel about this. It's so exciting to find an LDS (Mormon, btw) writer b/c you figure you won't be dealing with the smut (yes, I said smut, I'm 80 years old today) that is out there on the Bestseller lists. I am more disappointed b/c the author should know better. And I had to tell my 10 year old he could not finish the book. That was hard.

I'm just glad I read faster than he does.

Let's just hope tomorrow I choose a less controversial topic.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sunday, UNFinished Crafts Beginnings, & Cloverleaf Rolls Recipe

Today was... interesting? I can't sum it up in 1 word, so I'll tell you (or just myself if no one is reading this today). I overslept. I probably got up close to 10, which really isn't a huge deal, except that the kids were up and Robert got up and was feeling haggard. Although Robert would never complain or even feel resentful at taking care of the kids while I sleep, I still feel a bit guilty and lonely waking up without him there. I finish/polish my Primary lesson on Sunday mornings, so I eventually got to that after reading my scriptures (the reading for Primary, of course) and was lost in trying to do that while my stupid Adobe Photo Deluxe (which was not made for Windows Vista) kept being stupid and I kept losing focus b/c I hate studying the war chapters. I don't consider myself a truly Valiant person, but I definitely identify with the Anti-Nephi-Lehis more than any other group in the Book of Mormon. I'm a pacifist at heart. So it's hard for me to read through all the blood and war and death, even though I know there is great symbolism in the history for our Spiritual war we are waging now. This morning flew by as Robert and I both were spectacularly unfocused for some reason and ended up leaving the house just after 2. We plan to leave the house at 1:40 on Sunday afternoons, in order to get there early and set up my class and try to settle everyone in before church starts. And everyone knows you have to get there early to get those choice first-row seats! (*grin) So, even though we weren't late at all, it felt late and I was just off. I had been feeling kind of sick this morning before we left (maybe that's why I was unfocused, and no, I'm not pregnant yet), and about halfway through Sacrament meeting I had to leave and go to the foyer b/c I felt so sick I needed to get up and walk a bit. I took a Dr. Pepper with me and some cinnamon almonds. I figured the sugar and protein would help (usually it's either my iron or sugar that's low). I stayed out there until the end and went back in feeling that if I took more than 10 steps at time I would pass out. A sweet friend of mine noticed I was looking tipsy and offered me her arm to get me back to my family. I went to set up my classroom after that. I like to make the room welcoming and comfortable instead of just an empty blackboard, so I put up 1 or 2 pictures relevant to the lesson and a couple of pictures of Jesus and write a short welcome message on the board. I felt like I hadn't overdone my planning and was prepared for a nice succinct lesson, but I was very scattered. And some of the kids were very distracted by the thunderstorm going on. Overall, I felt practically useless trying to teach, as a couple of my sweet kids kept talking over me, making me feel dumb. I know these kids are amazing. They are smart, talented, fun, and generally actually respectful. But they are all "lifers." They have heard these stories and lessons every year since they were in nursery and I feel like I (who probably doesn't know the stories as well as they do) don't really know how to inspire them. I don't know how to show them how much I love the Gospel. And how wonderful and amazing it is. It's like someone who has grown up with nothing better than McDonald's hamburgers their whole life, suddenly being able to eat steak, really good, juicy, flavorful, tender steak. Then trying to explain to a billionaire, who has never been subjected to anything as base as a cheap burger, how good it tastes. Weird, huh? I know the Spirit leads me every lesson I teach, it's just frustrating walking along in the dark until I'm ready to be taught myself and stop being selfish in what I am doing (i.e. trying to look good and have cool visual aids and treats instead of focus on the scriptures).

On a total tangent I promised a girlfriend I would tell the story of how UNFinished Craft Days got started and how they all go, and write down my recipe for Dinner rolls, which -in all truthfulness- is not my recipe. I got it from my Family Meal Management class at BYU, where I also got the tip on how to make them brown and serve, which I will also share.

A few weeks ago, my sweet friend, Ginger, was supposed to be teaching a sewing class at the church. Well, the times got mixed up and apparently Ginger wanted it to be in the morning, but it was scheduled for the evening. She called me to see if I was going, and I said I would, even though it was on simple curtains and I honestly have been sewing "since my foot could reach the pedal" (is what I tell everyone), but I wanted to socialize and figured I could pick up some tips, too. Turned out that Ginger, her daughter, and I (along with all the younger kids and Robert in tow) were the only ones there. So we all just worked on the small sewing projects we had brought with us, and we chatted. And eventually one of us said, "You know, we ought to have a time when we women just get together like this and do whatever projects we're working on. We always have so many unfinished crafts laying around from service projects or Relief Society meetings." Well, it just sparked with me and I ran with it. I declared the next Tuesday "UNFinished Crafts Day" at my house (what else did I buy a house for, except to have people come over and use it?!)(btw, the UNF is capitalized b/c it looks good, maybe I will make it into a partial acronym sometime; any ideas?). I told people to bring the kids, a lunch, a snack to share, and their projects (anything from sewing to crocheting to jewelry making and more). I have moved it around each week just to see different people, and this week I'm going to do it Thursday night about 9, just to see if we can get stuff done without the kids around and make a girls night of it (Anne of Green Gables, anyone?). So that's it.

Here's the roll recipe, which also works for cinnamon rolls or fruit filled rolls, but doesn't work so well as loaf bread so far.

Basic Sweet and Dinner Rolls (Cloverleaf)
2 T yeast
1/3 C sugar (up to 1/2 c for sweet rolls)
2 t salt
6-8 c all purpose flour
2 1/2 c milk, scalded (brought to 110º-120º) in microwave
1/2 c shortening
2 eggs, beaten

*You'll note I do this using the dry method for this recipe, meaning I mix the dry ingredients together and make sure my liquid is the right temp, so I don't have to bloom the yeast.
Preheat the oven to 300º (if you want to freeze them and make them brown and serve) or 400º (if you want them that night, or as soon as one hourish). Mix yeast, sugar, salt, and 3 c. flour in your mixing bowl. Add shortening and mix until well-blended. Add milk slowly, and beat until smooth. Beat in eggs. Add remaining flour (possibly more than I say depending on your taste and your climate) to make a soft dough (but not sticky). Knead well: about 5-10 minutes in the mixer, or 15 minutes by hand (I do this in my machine, but you can do it by hand if you don't trust yours). Get it out of the bowl, and roll it into a large ball. Spray the bowl with Pam (or whatever) and put it back into the bowl. Spray the top of it with more Pam, cover loosely with plastic wrap and a towel, and let rise about 45 minutes or until doubled in size. Shape into small balls and put 3-4 (about the size of a quarter in diameter) on the bottom of each cup of a muffin pan (You can actually shape them anyway you like, I just love to pull them apart). I usually get about 4 dozen rolls out of this recipe (just cover the dough with the plastic wrap between batches), which is why I freeze most of them for later. Bake at 300º for about 8-10 minutes (they'll sound hollow when you tap them when they are done, but they'll still be white). Then freeze them on your cooling rack or a pan (so they don't stick together), then throw them in a freezer bag until you want them. This way you can bake 1 or 2 in the toaster oven (you don't have to use the muffin pan after the initial baking) or you can do a whole dozen or more for dinner. To brown, just bake at 400º for 8-10 minutes then brush the tops with butter (or else they get hard and crusty outside) right as they come out of the oven. You can skip the 300º cooking if you want them all right away; it's just like par-boiling, instead it's "par-baking".

I love these rolls. There is nothing that can compare with the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the house! I have fond memories of living in Wymount Terrace and baking these over and over with a girlfriend of mine. She never did them brown and serve b/c her family would eat the whole batch in one go.

and now it is late and Robert is trying to keep Horatio and EJ distracted (b/c H won't go to bed yet), while I finish here. Isn't he wonderful? Yes, I know. Let me know if you have any questions.