Monday, March 2, 2015

Mom's Recipe Experiment - Coconut Diamond Bars

Who doesn't look at all the delicious recipes on Pinterest and make a list of things to try? I know I do!

A month or so ago, my husband knocked over my late mother's recipe box. As I was putting away the recipes, I realized that I did not recognize the majority of them. They might not have been her favorites and made it into her rotation. But I decided that instead of experimenting with strangers' recipes on Pinterest, I ought to try my mom's.

First up, Coconut Diamond Bars. I vaguely remember these from my childhood, so it was a good place to start.

Mix and pat into a 9x13 pan
1/2 c softened butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 c flour

Bake at 350 F for 12-15 minutes

Pour the following ingredients on top of above crust
1 c brown sugar
2 TBL flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 beaten eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 c chopped walnuts
1 1/4 c coconut

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Cool and slice into desired shapes.

My experience:
I cooked the crust for 12 minutes. I reduced the amount of walnuts from 1 cup to 1/2 cup. My mom loved nuts, more than I do, so I reduced the amount. In the end, I feel like I a full cup would've been good.

The bars were overcooked. There is a bit of burnt flavor right at the edge but nowhere else. Right in the middle where they are about right, they taste a lot like an almond roca (hmmm, I wonder if I should find a way to add chocolate...mmmm).

Conclusion: Chewy, buttery, with the warmth of lots of brown sugar. This recipe has potential and is worth trying again to nail down the baking times/temp. I would reduce the temperature to 325 and bake the crust for about 10 minutes and the top for about 18 minutes.

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Unexpected Archaeological Dig of the 2012 Bank Statements

I'm having to re-file my 2012 taxes, and tonight I went through all my bank statements from that year. They are bank statements...deposits, withdrawals, and purchases, yet they are a journal.

The charge at Lagoon - it was Jocelyn's first time. We were uncertain if she was old enough to enjoy it, if it was worth the time and money. It was. It was because she loved it. And it was worth it because we did not know it was our very last weekend as a family of three.

The numerous charges at Popeye's in Arkansas. Memories of adopting Noelle. And seriously, why aren't there any Popeye's in the west? :)

The gas station charge in Yellowstone. We were coming back from Noelle's first trip to Grandma and Grandpa Z's house. Justin and I were in different vehicles, and I was with Noelle. She cried the WHOLE time and I swore we would never take her on a road trip again. My sanity had never been that frazzled.

The charge to the body shop, repairing my father-in-law's truck that we borrowed to go camping. Camping. That camping trip. The camping trip that started it all... There is a chasm that separates things into Before and into After. This camping trip was during the Before, but it was the domino that pushed me into the After. My parents were camping in Island Park for about six weeks and we joined them on several weekends, as much as we could. There were forests fires that summer and the sky was always red. Joci wandered from our campsite and got lost. I had never seen my 79-year-old-father run as fast as he did when we discovered she was missing and he sprinted to the lake shore. Our little family meeting Smokey the Bear. Making memories with "The Aunts." Mom and Joci playing ball. Dad and Joci playing with clothespins. It was during this six week trip that a stool shifted and my mom fell and tore her rotator cuff.

The charge to Tuacahn, taking Joci to her first play. Aladdin. She was enchanted. It was also Noelle's first and last trip to Grandma Normandie's house. And both of my daughters' last time seeing their grandmother alive.

Gas charges in October to St. George--an emergency trip to help my brother who had broken all his limbs in a motorcycle crash. My last time seeing my mom alive.

The charge for the florist in November. For $70. Because it was my mom's 70th birthday. I'd already sent her a present, and the practical part of me said that was enough. But 70! That's a big deal. It wasn't too hard to talk myself into the symbolism of $70 for her 70th year on this earth. And I am so glad I did. The last picture I saw of her was a photo she texted me of her holding those flowers.


My heart jumped into my throat.

These are just numbers. Transactions. Money coming, money going. How can a bank statement affect me so much?

12/7/2012 Defining Line Salon. I was oblivious that Before was turning into After as my hair processed on my lunch break.

And then a charge for a plane ticket. Fast food. Gas stations. Newspaper fees for the obituary. The charge at JCPenney for dresses that my girls and I needed for a funeral that we hadn't packed for.

And then charges a week later. Groceries. Supermarkets. Gas. Toy stores for Christmas presents. The world did not stop at that chasm like it should have. This was the beginning of the After.

You know those rocks that geologists love that show layers upon layers of rock that eventually form a mountain? That's what time does. My hurt and my grief haven't gone anywhere. 2013 put down a layer over that chasm, a thin, useless patch over a bottomless hole. Another layer came from 2014. 2015 adds a little more dust every day. The bank statements I read today were like an archaeologist that dug through the protective layers that time had so painstakingly placed over my grief, resurrecting it and putting it on display. And I wasn't in the After anymore, but lost in the chasm once again.

Today I have one more reason to hate the IRS.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thankful feathers 2014

This year we did a turkey with daily (well, almost) thankful feathers. I just took him down today but wanted to document the things we put on our feathers.

Mom - books
Dad - people who are helpful
Noelle - music
Mom - GPS
Mom - friends
Noelle - Minnie Mouse stuffed toy
Mom - a wonderful husband
Noelle - Fishy
Joci - seeing Olaf at Disneyland
Noelle - her friend Phillip and pizza
Dad - that he's a daddy
Joci - to almost get earrings
Joci - for being Lalasa's friend
Noelle - binkies
Joci - seeing mommy
Mom - the internet
Noelle - binkies (again)
Joci - that she got to do cheerleading camp
Mom - dance parties in the kitchen
Joci - Christmas
Noelle - for coloring
Joci - for staying home
Joci - for singing
Noelle - apples
Mom - percocet
Dad - family
Dad - modern medical care for Mommy
Mom - sunsets
Joci - for seeing Grandma and Grandpa
Noelle - weekends
Noelle - for sissy
Joci - Christmas and Santa (again)
Mom - pets
Noelle - chocolate
Joci - for Princess Belle
Mom - modern conveniences
Dad - a reliable car
Mom - the gospel, Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ
Dad - his raise
Joci - going to Grandma and Grandpa's house
Noelle - baby dolls

Saturday, November 29, 2014

24 Days 'Til Christmas

Ever since I was a girl, my family had a homemade book called Twenty-Four Days 'Til Christmas. It's a type of Christmas countdown with a scripture, carol, and story for the 24 days leading up until Christmas. I've had requests to share. You can always use these PDFs, but if you're ambitious, print them out and have them bound in a special family book (see the link for instructions for more details).

I apologize for any errors in the PDFs.

24 Days 'til Christmas book instructions


Christmas carols

Christmas stories

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Joci's World 3

A couple weeks after Christmas, Joci couldn't find a few of her favorite books. She found her toy cell phone and "made a call."

"Hi, Santa. It's Joci. My princess books are lost. Can you bring me some?"


Joci: What is God's last name?

Me: He doesn't have one.

Joci: Why not?

Me:...uh, I guess he doesn't need one.

She was not satisfied with that answer at all.


I was combing Joci's hair after a bath and she was complaining about all the snarls and snags. "Stop it, Mom. You're making me bald!"


I was changing Noelle's diaper and singing "Na na na na, don't play with my heart."
Joci repeated me (with a whole new melody of course), "Na na na na, don't play with Mommy's heart."
I laughed. Then she asked me what color my heart was. "Red," I answered.
"Just like Nathan's mom. My heart is pink."


Sometimes in the morning Joci finds my cans of Diet Coke that are four-fifths of the way gone and will finish them off because I am bad and forget to throw them away. After drinking some Diet Coke on morning she said, "Pop makes magic in my tummy! And a kitty in my..." she thought for awhile, then proudly finished, "throat!"


After a particularly "fun" day of stubbornness on both our parts, she said her evening prayers. "I know moms and dads get mad at kids sometimes. I don't like it. And I'm sorry for being sassy. But sometimes kids are sassy."


As her fourth birthday approached, if I upset her by requesting she eat her dinner or pick up  her toys or take a bath, she would glare at me and say, "You don't get any birthday cake."


Once when the moon was covered and distorted by a gauzy haze of clouds, Joci said, "Someone bashed the moon in!" 


Joci's first testimony in primary: I would like to bare my testimony because I am smart.

After her picking her up from Sunday school.
Joci: Today I learned about testimonies.
Me: Oh, that's great. What do you have a testimony about?
Joci: Cavities


In church last week, Joci whispered to me, "If this is God's house, where is His bed?"


As she was taking off her pants to get her pajamas on, she got frustrated that her underwear came off with them. "Ah! Why do my underwear always come off? I need underwear that doesn't come off. Does yours come off?"

I was close to making some comment about how my big derriere keeps my underwear up, but thought better of it. I never want to bash my body in front of my kids. So instead I said, "Mine stays on. I think it has more to do with the types of pants you have. Or maybe the shape of your bottom."

Joci said, "I have a circle shape. What shape do you have?"

Whenever I am not sure how to answer something, I think it's best to let kids answer their own questions. "What shape do you think I have?"

She stared at my behind for a very long time. "It's square."


Joci's prayer tonight: Bless that the blessings will be good. That we'll die when we're supposed to. That babies come out when their supposed to.


Today, I told all my friends about Satan!


It was past Joci's bedtime but she wanted to sleep in my bed. I was watching a television show that would not have been appropriate for a 5 year old. But we made a deal - I would put on headphones if she stayed quiet. She wouldn't stay quiet so I kept shushing her, which upset her. She finally said, "When I'm a mom, I will NEVER watch bad shows that say bad words. I will only watch good shows. And my husband won't either. I will have the best husband ever."

making a chocolate sandwich because why not?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Goodbye, Seraphina; a Family Milestone

About 18 months ago, this pretty gray cat started coming around our house. It was winter and she seemed hungry. I would pet her and she was very friendly and sweet. After a couple weeks, she was still hanging around and super skinny, so we fed her. And she became our cat. Joci named her Seraphina. She was a total sweetie. She had been declawed. She had definitely been someone's pet once upon a time and I hoped I wasn't kidnapping her. 

She loved coming inside but our other cat didn't like that idea so much. And Seraphina wasn't so great about the whole litter box thing. So she lived in the garage. 

Last week, I noticed she had lost an extreme amount of weight. She wasn't eating. She would disappear for long periods of time. I knew what was going to happen. 

We tried to make her final days happy and comfortable. My kids got the chance to say goodbye. We treated her with roast beef and tuna fish (though she wouldn't eat). 

Seraphina died yesterday lying in the cool grass under the lilac tree in our front yard. Joci and I put together a box lined with batting and a towel and decorated by Joci with markers. She did pretty well until we closed the box and buried the cat. It broke my heart to see my child cry so. I know she was drawing upon her memories of her grandma's death - and I was too. It was pretty traumatic and sad. 

We survived it, though, and as we laid the flowers on her grave, I felt like we had passed a family milestone. Our first pet death and having a pet buried in the backyard. It doesn't get more real than that. We love and miss you Seraphina. We know Grandma Normandie is up there taking care of you now. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

B is for Books

I love me some books.

In second grade, my elementary had a contest to read one million minutes. I was the highest reader in my class. I still read almost every day.

There's this whole paper book versus traditional book debate going on that I think is pretty ridiculous. I love all books and I think books are good for people and for society. I don't really think it matters how you read books, just that you read! (And I have never heard anyone get into an audio book versus paper book debate, so why the big deal about ebooks?)

I read both and just wanted to list out my personal opinions of each.

The smell. The feel.
You can look down and see how much of the book is left
Never worry about running out of batteries or having to turn it off during parts of a flight.
Easier to read the ending (I love to flip to the back of the book and read ahead)
Easy to flip through, scan back to something you read before, etc.
Gorgeous on shelves!

E-BOOK PROS (I have and love a Kindle Touch)
So portable. And pages won't get bent in my bag.
An entire bookstore in one small device. No need to pack multiple books on trips.
I have no problem highlighting passages and making notes (I won't mark up my paper books)
So much easier to read massive tomes
Searchable, so that can be nice.
One-handed reading can be super convenient at the gym, feeding the baby, etc.
Storage space for your books is never an issue

I read way more e-books but if I love an e-book particularly, I'll buy it in paper for my personal library too. I don't care what your read or how you read, just read!

As such, both of my books are available as e-books as in paperback. ;) (Shameless plug)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A is for Arabesque

I have not been a very good blogger this past year. I want to get better at it. So to get me out of my rut, I am going to blog through the alphabet, using each letter for inspiration for whatever topic comes to mind. I can't promise that the posts will be amazing or life changing, but at least there will be something new to read. :)

A for Arabesque

Joci has always loved to dance. In November, she began her first official dance class. It was mostly geared toward ballet, which she loves best. It was fun to hear her come home using words like "arabesque" and "plie" and "sashay."

I was quite impressed when I saw her review. She had no performance anxiety at all. She was so excited. The song was "Here Comes Suzy Snowflake." And she danced really well, doing the choreography pretty darn well for a four-year-old. By the second song, she was content to do her own thing and just run around the room and look at herself dance in the mirrors. :)

Here comes Suzy Snowflake!

The girl next to her was frozen the entire time. :(

Lalala...time to do my own thing...

An official certificate!


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