Friday, January 30, 2015

Fun Hats - Family Activity

Princess One thought that over the Christmas break, she would have everyone make an "owl" hat. She brought all the fleece fabric and she got the girls motivated to make hats. The girls picked their colors and designed their own hats. 

Princess One was going to make an owl hat until Prince One started to do a blue hat and it kinda looked like Cookie Monster. 

We joked that he should make it a cookie monster and so he decided he would make his Cookie. 
He was so creative and fast that he then worked on Kermit the Frog hat. I thought it was great that he was willing to do a craft project with the girls. 

We learned a few things. I shared how much easier it is to use Felt to make the face pieces as you don't have to hem or edge them. 

I showed them how to use iron on facing to iron on the felt but I didn't think to put a towel over it so it made steam hole marks on the fleece and iron creases. 

So, if you are making one of these cute hats, make sure to use a damp towel over the fleece and felt if you are using iron on fusing to fuse the felt and fleece together.

As far as the hat foundation goes, there were two types we made. The "green" one has a thin center piece between the front and back. 

The other style is just square with the front and back sewed together. Some of them pinned the corners inside themselves and made it more of a rounded look.

Each of the girls hats turned out a bit different in the style of the hat and then the girls all ended up making an owl hat. 

Once Prince One made the "cookie monster" hat, Princess One decided to make the "kermit" hat for Grand-Princess One and to make herself an "Oscar the grouch" hat. 

Some of them decided to "stitch" around their eyes to make them a bit more decorative, and others just ironed them on and didn't stitch. 
I was so impressed with how cute Princess One's Oscar came out. She was so creative making it. She even sewed a little garbage can lid handle on the top making it look like Oscar was peeking out of the can. She used fleeces sewn into a strip for his eyebrows. 

We just used crochet cotton thread to stitch the garbage can lines, and the decorative lines around the owl eyes etc. 

Princess One looked online for ideas for her hats but she came up with her design on her own. I really was so impressed with her husband and how the both of them just went to it and made such creative hats. 

We made a hem on the bottom of the hats that I forgot to mention. It wasn't a big hem but you can see in the pictures. 

I took a close up of each hat so you could see how cute they look. 

I think it would be a great activity for a church youth group, a young woman's group, or a woman's group.

Princess Four had so much fun that she made two hats. She finished the owl hat just after everyone else did and then she started another hat.

After seeing the Sesame Street hats, she decided to try something other than an owl. She made a "monsters Inc" hat. Didn't it turn out cute? 

It was so much fun to have the whole family doing a project together. I shared how great our Christmas was, it really was. 

Thanks Princess One for planning the activity and bringing home all the stuff for us to make these fun hats.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Home Made French Fries and Fry Sauce

Princess Five and I have been really enjoying making homemade fries lately. I used to make them years ago with the older girls but lost the thought for a few years in the middle there.

I found this nifty little chopper slicer/dicer tool a month or so ago. I used to just cut the fries up using a knife but then there were some larger and some thinner. This tool helped me make them all a uniform size. 
I have used coconut oil to fry them in the past but lately, I have been having a problem with fats so I have been using olive oil. 

I have seen little choppers like this one but what I love about this one is that it has a plastic holder so the items you cut are contained and sealed until you are ready to use them.
Either way you choose to cut the potato it really doesn't matter. 

Make sure whatever type of oil you are are using is heated well enough to fry them well. If the oil isn't hot enough, it will "boil" them rather than fry them. 

You don't need to peel the potatoes but need to scrub them well if you don't.

NEVER leave the hot oil unattended as the potatoes can burn and catch on fire. When I was a teen, my brother was making french fries with his friends and got distracted and started our kitchen on fire. 

IF THE FRIES or ANY Grease STARTS ON FIRE, DON'T POUR WATER ON IT!!!! EVER!!!! Here is a link to a short video which shows what happens if you do put water on a grease fire.

I put water on the fire in our kitchen and was blessed that I had turned. It started things clear across the kitchen on fire. I then used a towel to pound out the mini fires in the kitchen. 

Since then, I never "deep fry" anything. I use just enough oil to cover what I am cooking or frying. 

When you are putting the fries in the oil, don't put the potatoes in the pan with your hand as any residue water on the potatoes can cause the oil to pop and cause small burns on your hands. 

Use tongs to put the potatoes into the oil to keep it from splattering.

Watch the fries and use tongs to flip them over once they are golden.  Keep an eye on them as they will go from golden to burnt in a few minutes.
When they are golden, I put them on a plate lined with about five paper towels on the bottom and then dab them with a few more paper towels from the top.

After dabbing off the excess grease, put some salt on them and flip them and salt again.
One thing to keep the oil from smoking, make sure you get all the little pieces out as they will continue to darken and then start smoking. It can cause your house to fill with smoke within a minute or two. 

To make the fry sauce, I use one part barbecue sauce and two parts mayonnaise. 

Stir them together and enjoy. You can also add some Tabasco or other hot sauce if you like it to have a kick. Experiment to find your own "special recipe" and if your friends enjoy it, you can give them a bottle for the holidays or other special occasions. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Yams Baked and Frozen For Later

We love yams at our house.When I find them on sale, I try to buy lots of them as they are really expensive most of the time.

I don't like canned yams. I am not a big fan of candied yams. 

We like yams and sweet potatoes. We like them as fries but our favorite way to eat them is roasted with butter, salt and pepper. 
We also like them with coconut butter and a little bit of nutmeg in them.  

I was blessed the other day to get a box of yams from the local food bank. When they get overages, they call me and I help distribute the overages rather than have the food go to waste. 
Yams are similar to potatoes as they can get old and still be used. I don't like letting them get to that point. 

I would rather have them used when they are at their best and then freeze them already cooked so they are ready to use. 

I peel the yams and then roast them at 325 degrees. The amount of time depends on the amount of yams to cook. 
I check them with a fork after about an hour and keep checking every half hour after that.

Once they are soft enough to mash with a fork, I take them out. I let them cool some and then put them into doubled up freezer bags. 
Once they are in the freezer bags, I mash them with my hands and add butter, salt and pepper. Or, at this point, you could add the coconut oil and nutmeg if you try that and like it.
You can put as many in bags as you like. If you are freezing them just for yourself, you can freeze each one individually. 
If you are freezing them for a family, you will probably want to put as many as you can in quart bags. 

It was great that there was enough for me to get six quart bags full. 

Princess Five and I like to just leave a bag in the fridge and eat it for snacks. It is one of my favorite foods. I am so grateful that the food bank had overages. I am so blessed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Family New Year Letter Part Two

Princess Three is attending University living only a few minutes from one of my brothers. She is living in the same housing as her sister did and both have LOVED it. She has settled in nicely now that her first semester is done. She is on academic scholarship and was just chosen to be on the “A” team which is a group of advocates for students at the college. It is a paid position which is VERY nice as it has been hard for her to find a job in a college town. She has been dating lots and we don’t hear from her often as she is so busy and social but love when we get a visit which also isn’t often with the school being on the opposite end of the state. It’s over five hours one way through many mountain passes which makes it hard to come home for the week
end in the winter.

Princess Four is at College. She graduated with Honors and as the Student Body President spoke at graduation. She received many compliments on her great speech. She was also chosen as the Regional Sterling Scholar Runner-Up for Science receiving a cash prize which she used as her spending money for her graduation tour to the Eastern States with many of her friends. She has an academic scholarship and is an ambassador (hosting visiting students recruiting them to the school) as well which adds another scholarship onto the academic which covers her books and fees which allows her to attend school for free other than housing. She recently picked up playing the guitar and is getting good. She became a Certified Nursing Assistant this year. She LOVES college life and is looking at a business degree. She works on campus and has done such a good job that they want to hire her for the summer as well. She enjoys her work and it gives her spending money. She had a scare on a school visit, coming over a mountain pass, hit ice and ended up in a snow bank where they couldn’t open their doors and the wheels were way off the ground. They were rescued after about five hours in the car. We are grateful she didn’t go off the other side as it was a cliff. She laughs about it but one doesn’t think about not having food or a bathroom stuck on a windy cold mountain for the day.

Princess Five is no longer the “Baby” at almost 16 she will be a legal driver soon. She has had her drivers permit for some time now and is getting better at chauffeuring me around. The longer trips have been good for her to get her hours driving in and I look forward to the day she can drive herself to all her activities as she is every bit as busy in High School as her sisters were. She branched out this year doing something new. For 15 years I have had someone in drill team. I am THRILLED to report, I no longer do! She chose to be a cheerleader and I think I can speak for both of us that we LOVE it! No more early morning practices, not one weekend activity in December! That is a first in YEARS. Her first competition for Cheer was last week and they took first in our region. State is this weekend. They perform at every sporting event in the school in teams and then they all attend the major basketball and football games but those will be over in a month or so giving her time to devote to theater. She competed in State with her sister and they did well in the Musical Category. She was selected to represent the school this year in a duet from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as the Music Box singer/dancer. We will get focused on that after Cheer is over. She is also involved in the summer play of Cinderella coming this summer. She is hoping for the part of Cinderella as she was the lead “Lucy” in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” last summer. She keeps me busy for sure. She was also recently selected to attend  “HOBY” which is a worldwide youth leadership summer camp for students going into their Jr. year. She is involved in 4-H as well. She still plays the guitar and got an electric acoustic for Christmas.

Mom is busy with the house, yard and cars. This year I scrubbed and waxed the double garage door, pruned the fifteen trees in our yard. I usually do the fruit trees only but the others were getting out of control. I was doing our HUGE tree in the back alone until one of the branches hit the ground and bounded back splitting the branch and hitting me in the chest on the top of the extension ladder. I had to call her for help as I was holding the saw, the branch which was falling and pushing me off the ladder and holding onto the tree while calling her on the cell. I had a bruise for a week and since then have called for someone to finish the job. We have a good wood pile from what I did get done and hope as soon as the weather warms to get that tree done. I painted all the trim on the house, painted the front door, cleaned out the gutters twice and put up netting to try and keep them from getting so congested. I refinished my trailer last year and this year taking all the windows out, every vent, door etc off and resealing it
and painting the entire frame, undercarriage and bumpers and finished by waxing the entire thing. It took about nine months but it should be good for a long time to come. I fixed up the car that hit the deer doing most of the work myself other than the axle and also the main house and yard maintenance as well. I would think doing all that, I would look and feel great but I am still dealing with some health issues of the thyroid and adrenals as well as back issues. So, I keep doing what I can on the days I feel good and pray at some point I can get everything working well again and start to feel better.

My parents are much the same and I am grateful they are still mostly well. My mother has good and bad days where she doesn’t remember much but with her short term memory loss due to her accident years ago and her Leukemia, I think she does well. I hired a woman to go in twice a week to shower, wash and clean which has been a blessing to us. I hope we will be able to keep my mom living as normal as possible as long as possible. My dad is still VERY active and just helped open a charter school which three of my siblings children attend. It is new age and cutting edge and I think it will do well and be the “School to attend” in a few years as it builds momentum. There are 52 grand-children and now, about 13 great-grand-children. In a few years, I am sure that number will magnify very quickly. It is wonderful to see the amazing things my nieces and nephews are doing in the world. My siblings are also doing things in the community and world.
This year, especially this holiday season, has been my best in years with no surgeries, no family accidents, everyone staying well, no out of town competitions every weekend etc. I LOVED having all the girls, son-in-law and grand baby here for the holiday. It was so much fun playing games, visiting and laughing. I wish every year could be so wonderful. You can search my blog for pictures of the events listed in the news letter.

I hope your holiday and New Year were wonderful.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Family New Year Letter Part One

Happy New Year Friends and Family

This year has been the best in years. Everyone is home, healthy and blessed. We had no surgeries this year and no foreign travel. The biggest issue with home and cars were a little deer incident where the Buck thought he owned the road and just stood in the middle until I hit the brakes and then he decided to back track into my path. Some hammering, spray-paint, plumbers tape on the bumper, a headlight off of eBay, and a trip for a new axle and all is good! I am thrilled that was our biggest adventure this year!

The highlight of the year is Grand-princess One arrived into the world last February and has been the Joy of our existence. I never knew being a grand-mother could be so much fun. They go through the stages of life so fast in the first year but she now has several teeth, walks, “counts” and just makes life a joy for us all. 

 Prince and Princess One – Ages no longer needed here. Prince One is working as a Civil Engineer for a wonderful company. He just had his first year review and they really appreciate his work and gave him a raise as their two man office has the highest income of any starting office in the history of the company. He will be taking a CAD course (his request to the company) to update his architecture side of his Masters in Engineering to make him even more valuable. Princess One is blessed to be able to now stay at home with her daughter as she finished up working for the state foster care system early in the year. She has become a master with fibers. She should visit my good friends in New Zealand as she is constantly making new things with wool. Anything you can do with wool or fibers, she is doing it, spinning, weaving, knitting, crocheting etc. She has made many new friends in their area and both are serving in their local church. They are happy and we LOVED having them come over Christmas and hope we will have many more visits this year.

Princess Two – She is working on a University Campus in the Human Resource dept at the MTC. She really likes her job but isn’t thrilled with having to wear skirts and conservative earrings to work but enjoys the energy and spirit of all the young missionaries and has gotten to see lots of her cousins as they attend the MTC before leaving for various missions around the world. One of the bosses asked her on a walk recently and she thought she may be in trouble for something but was told that she is the friendliest worker there and was given high praise so she is wondering if they may offer her full time soon as she is ¾ time now as many companies won’t high full time with the new health care standards set by the government. 

There are only a few full time employees of the hundreds that work there. She worked at the Provo temple and still volunteers and attends often as she is available. She was just released from her church position as Relief Society President where she was over the women of the congregation helping organize and plan meetings and overseeing to the needs of the women in her area. She isn’t dating anyone specific at the moment but keeps VERY active doing service and dating and is extremely social, planning Murder Mystery parties, etc and has matched up several of her friends with their now spouses.