Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Don't you love it when you are approaching an intersection in your car and the light is red, but then turns green before you have to even slow down at all? I love it and am so grateful when that happens! :0)

Friday, November 20, 2009


Ok, I love and am grateful for this recipe (THE BEST apple pie ever, other than my Grandma's) and I am so thankful when I try something new and it works well, especially when I am planning on taking it somewhere and sharing it :0). Does anyone else do this? When I think about it realistically, it's not really a smart thing to do (taking something you've never made before when you have to bring food to a public function), but I do it on a regular basis. Why do I do this?

I guess I do it because I think it's fun to try a new recipe, and then if it's awful, my family and I don't have to eat the whole thing :0), and if it is good, then I have a new recipe to add to my stack. Works pretty well and actually, I've never had a food bomb so bad that I couldn't take it (at least not that I remember--maybe I've blocked it out).

But I am grateful when I try something new and it turns out well. And so cute!! Actually this isn't a brand new recipe, but I've only made a full pie from this recipe, never these cute little guys. This is seriously in my opinion the best and easiest apple pie recipe. You may not love it, but as far as pies go, it really is easy. So easy, in fact, that my friend used it with my son's scout group: I dropped my oldest off at her house for scouts one day (several years ago) and saw pie paraphernalia all over the place. I asked her what they were doing and she said, "Oh, we're going to make pies." (this is a very ambitious woman--you are awesome, Wendy!) Pies? With 7 eight-year-old boys? Wow! Then she explained that they are so easy (use this tool to cut the apples, dump them in the crust (I think she used store-bought) pour cinnamon sugar over, and put the topping on & bake), but I still don't think I would ever dare try it with scouts :0)

So here is the regular recipe and my adjustments for the minis:

Apple Crumb Pie--original recipe from Wendy Busacker
5-7 tart apples (she suggested Pink Lady, but we have used Granny Smith and Fuji, so just use your favorite baking apple.)
Slice apples & place in unbaked crust--the apples should be heaped up into a mound
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Mix these together and sprinkle over apples

1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. flour
1/3 c. butter
Mix these until crumbly & sprinkle over the top of the apples

Bake at 400 for 40-45 minutes (may need to cover last 5-10 minutes if the topping ends up getting too dark).

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and milk on the side (my favorite). Enjoy!

Mini Apple Pies--adjustments by me

Make a pie crust for a top and bottom. Roll out pretty thin. Use a 3 inch circle cutter (I used a cup) to cut out as many as you can--I ended up getting 16 circles from a one-crust batch, but it will totally depend on how thin you roll your crust.

Fit the circles into mini muffin tins, shaping them so there are no cracks and the crust goes up to the top of the tins and the pastry is tight against the sides.

Cut your apples with the slicer-cutter-peeler-dealie, then cut the slices into little 1-inch pieces and put them into the tins, fitting as many in as you can.

Sprinkle with about 1/2 tsp. cinnamon sugar and top with about 2 tsp. crumb topping.

Bake 375 for about 45 minutes. Let cool and remove very carefully (I didn't really figure out a great way of doing this, so if you do, let me know).

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Last night I (with one other lady) was in charge of this fun meeting for the women who go to my church. We started planning about a month ago and our theme ended up being gratitude (seems I have that on the brain a lot lately, huh?). We had food (holiday hors d'oeuvres--shouldn't that just be spelled or-derves? It would be a lot easier!), classes on different aspects of gratitude, and we made gratitude journals. Also, we showed this video clip as part of the closing comments. (It's really an awesome clip--only five minutes--go check it out!)

Anyway, it was a great night: good atmosphere, fun people to talk to, great classes, and my sweet husband and oldest son came over to help us clean up afterward (without being asked).

So this morning I am grateful that it went well and that it is over!

I am also so grateful that I didn't have to plan and carry the shindig out all by myself. What a blessing to ask people to help, have them volunteer for a specific part, and then know that it will get done, and not only done well, but in good time!

For instance, our meeting last night had many parts: publicity, food, classes, a craft, a video presentation, set up, take down and clean up. There were people who agreed to teach a class, and other than checking with them once or twice to make sure everything was cool, I didn't do anything other than attend the class! The woman who volunteered to be in charge of the gratitude journals took care of it all and they turned out awesome! And all others who were involved just did their part, followed through to the end and the night turned out great.

Hoorah for dependable people!! Is that where the term "can-do" came from? Dependable people are those who can & do? Hmmm...I never thought about it. It makes sense, but does anyone know for sure?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Isn't it awful when you wake up in the morning and are just about ready to turn over and go back to sleep, when you look at the clock and you only have seven minutes left until you have to get up? Or three? Or one? Yuck.

On the other hand, I love it when this happens: I am awakened by a noise, or a child, or just my brain being between REM cycles and I look at the clock and I have another whole hour (or several) to sleep! Hoorah!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


We love apples at our house. In fact, we buy them by the box. Yes, the big, 40 pound box. And the amazing thing is--we actually eat them all before they go yucky.

A good apple is almost the perfect food: they are sweet, crunchy, juicy, nutritious, and you can eat the outsides, (or the insides, if you are my Grandmother. She takes the stem off and eats them from the top down, all but the very bottom yucky part. I guess when you lived through the Depression, an apple was a pretty good treat and you didn't want to waste any).

What an awesome food! We love Fujis (pictured) and Jonagolds at our house, and my boys love Granny Smiths as well, although they create a bit too much of a pucker in my mouth :0). I especially love apples when I get the major munchies while I'm making dinner and after I put my kids to bed (anyone else have this problem?).

This is our favorite way to eat them lately--
the boys like apple stars made with this tool.
They think it's pretty cool (you see my 2-year-old
trying to grab one--he seems to want whatever
food I'm trying to take a picture of).

I'm so grateful for such an awesome food!!

What's your favorite kind of apple and how do you eat them?

Monday, November 16, 2009


The other title of this post could be "Close Calls." Have you ever had something happen in your life that just made you terrified of what could have happened, but then also made you so grateful that it didn't? Like you catch your child about to walk into the busy road, or you almost get into a car crash? Or even something less dangerous like you forget a committment but remember just in time to get it done, or you almost say something to someone and then find out later that that would have been a horrible thing to say to them? It totally scares you, but at the same time makes you breathe a huge sigh of relief!

We had a close call last night that could have ended in terrible injury or even death. It gives me chills even thinking about it, but here's what happened. My two-year-old (you knew this was going to be about him, didn't you? What is it about that age that they not only get into trouble so often, but also put their own lives in jeopardy on a regular basis?! It's enough to drive a mother crazy!) saw me put our griddle away (pancakes for dinner :0) and went to the drawer to get this item (pictured above). I didn't think anything of it, as he gets things out of my kitchen drawers all the time and walks away with them. You would think since I'm raising five boys, all of whom have gone through this lovely (aka destructive, dangerous but so cute) two-year-old phase, that I would look at every item in their grubbly little hands as a possible danger, but no...I let him go.

I was talking to my husband and for some reason after a few minutes followed my little guy to see what he was up to. Here's what I saw: he had plugged the cord end into one of the few sockets in our home not covered with a safety outlet cover (items specifically made for two-year-olds, I'm convinced), and was moving the other end (that spikey end plugs into the griddle, so is a live electrical point) towards his mouth. Aaaaaaaghhh!!! You can imagine the shriek that was emitted from my mouth as I swooped down, took the item from him and put it in its new home, one of my highest cabinets. During this, my little guy just looked at me with this blank stare as if to say, "what's the big deal, Mom?"

My husband watched my reaction, but hadn't seen the putting-the-live-element-into-the-mouth part, and when I told him, we both couldn't say anything but, "Wow. That was too close--can you imagine?" Yikes! I don't really want to imagine.

So today I am grateful that I'm sitting here typing this with my little guy standing behind me on my chair, messing up my hair and sticking his knees into my back, and not sitting in the hospital by the bedside of my unconscious and horribly burned and disfigured little guy.

Wow. What a blessing!

Have you had any close calls that made you grateful?

Friday, November 13, 2009


Today I am so grateful for friends who are understanding of other people's circumstances and flexible in their schedules: specifically, my two neighbors. One, I was supposed to watch her children this morning, and since two of my own were up throwing up last night, I didn't think she would be too keen to have her children over at my house this morning. When I called to tell her, there was absolutely no hint of frustration or anger that I was disrupting her plans, but just empathy for my situation.

I was supposed to go with my other neighbor to visit a friend this morning (our church has this awesome program called Visiting Teaching, where all the women are paired up and have a few other friends to visit every month--that way we can make new friends, help each other and, well...visit :0), and when I called her, she was happy to go without me and expressed hope that my kids would feel better soon.

I'm so kind for friends that are kind, helpful, flexible and nonjudgemental! Thank you Debbie and Deidra!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Ok, let me explain this one. I have a two-year-old. All of you who have or who have had or even had contact with a two-year-old know to a certain extent what this means. My toddler has quite a pleasant personality, but just by virtue of the fact that he is two, means that he's always getting into things. Add to that fact that he is the youngest of five boys, and you have some extra factors.

So, last week one day we were at home doing morning things (getting kids up, fed, off to school, etc.) and Mr. Two was having an extreme Get-into-everything day already. I found myself using lots of "don'ts" in my interaction with him. So I started being aware and wrote down all the don'ts that I said to him. Keep in mind that when I realized I was doing it, I even tried to tone it down a bit, but in the first two hours of him being up, here are the negative statements I made to him (these were not the only statements, but still...)

1- Don't suck on batteries

2- Don't use my make-up brush as a duster

3- Don't throw your oatmeal on the floor!

4- Please stop eating my breakfast

5- Don't step in the drawer (which I didn't even finish saying before the drawer shut on his leg)

6- Don't play on the computer

7- Don't whine

8- Don't pull on my arm please

9- Don't suck on the table

Wow!! That's terrible! So, how to turn this around? It seems that when children (or adults, for that matter) are always being told what you don't want them to do, it seems like that is what they do more of. Or is it just me? It's that principle that what you focus on is what you get, good or bad.

So I remembered this parenting technique that my husband and I learned in a class once: to phrase what you want so you are telling the child what to do, not what not to do. So instead of, "Don't suck on batteries," (which he LOVES to do, for some absolutely bizzare reason), I should have said, "can I have those batteries please?" and then taken them from him (with coaxing if needed and tears if necessary) and put them up. Or instead of "please stop eating my breakfast," I could have just moved him to his chair and said, "here's your breakfast," (although at that point he had already thrown his breakfast on the floor...ok, that one wouldn't work, but still, you get the point). Or I guess sometimes you don't even need to say anything--I could have just moved him away from the computer.

Well, I failed that morning, but I did try to do better and I do notice that the days that I phrase what I want to my children in a positive way, we do seem to have a better day.

I'm so grateful for the ability to notice what I'm doing and for the chance to do it better (and that my children aren't totally ruined when I mess up, which is plenty!)

Hoorah for redos!


I could go on and on about the wonderful people who have fought and are fighting to defend our freedoms, but I won't. I just want to say that I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for our veterans.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Friday, November 6, 2009


Ok, so this isn't a food blog, per se. However, what would a blog about gratitude be without food? Just so you know, I LOVE FOOD and am exceedingly grateful for good food! So...grateful for food blog post#1: Pancakes (yes, I realize these pancakes are naked. Bear with me and I'll explain why).

When I was growing up, we pretty much just had cereal for breakfast. And I was pretty much starving by 10:00 every day at school (although I totally understand that cereal is, by far, the easiest breakfast so it makes sense that in a family of 8 children we would have cereal every day). Occasionally on Saturdays we would have Bisquick pancakes, which we all loved, but that was the only type of pancake I knew.

When I was about nine years old, I went to a sleepover and my friend's mom made us pancakes with chocolate chips in them. Wow! I had never conceived such a wonderful thing!

Now that I'm an adult, my love of pancakes has just expanded and I have found all sorts of amazing pancake recipes: Cottage cheese pancakes, white pancakes (as opposed to whole wheat pancakes), blueberry pancakes, pumpkin pancakes, oatmeal pancakes, cornbread pancakes, apple cinnamon pancakes. All of them: yum!

This one, however, is our standard school morning pancake. It's all whole wheat, and sometimes I throw some ground flax in, just to boost the nutrition. It doesn't take that long to make and cook them, and they are quite filling.

Our favorite topping is applesauce and maple syrup or cinnamon-sugar (I know--weird, but yummy).

These are pictured plain just because a) they are pretty this way (look at that golden brown, unadulterated by any toppings! :0) and b) the eater of these particular pancakes wasn't quite ready to eat them and I didn't want to get them all ready for my picture and then have them all soggy for eating after sitting too long (these were the last of the pancakes) and c) these are both just excuses: I was busy dealing with a cranky 2-year-old and chose not to. There you have it.

My kids even like them plain or if any are left over, toasted with butter and sugar for an after-school snack. You see my 2-year-old trying to take a pinch.

Whole Wheat Pancakes (this was originally a recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook, but I've changed it a bit)
2 c. milk
2 T. vinegar
(This just makes a nice sour milk to start out with, which seems to make the pancakes lighter. I never seem to have buttermilk around and this is a good shortcut)
Let the milk sit for a minute, maybe while you get the dry ingredients together.
2 eggs
3 T. oil
Mix all these wet ingredients together well

2 c. whole wheat flour
2 T. white sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
Mix all these together and add to the wet ingredients

Add flour or milk to get your desired consistency and mix with a whisk until blended, but don't overdo the mixing. Pour on hot griddle (about 325 degrees) and flip when you see bubbles, or when the underside is golden brown. Makes about 20 six-inch pancakes.

Here's a yummy but not-so-nutritious variation: sometimes (usually on a weekend) I will make these with whole milk and part or all white flour (my boys beg for these pancakes! they call them "white pancakes") and they turn out so fluffy and delicious.

Ok, if you insist: here is a picture of whole wheat pancakes in the double-decker way we like to eat them. Start with pancake, then applesauce, another pancake, topped with butter and syrup. Yum!

I am so grateful for whole wheat pancakes!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Have you ever gone camping and gone without a shower for a few days (or four or five)? Hmmm...I guess that happens after you have a baby too--you go days without a shower, just because sleep is SO much more important than being clean. But still, that feeling is gross.

You know the feeling I'm talking about, right? The one where your skin and hair are greasy and you can smell yourself and um...it's not a good smell?

Can you imagine living like that?(Not to mention wearing the same clothes every day) I mean, 100 years ago, they bathed once a week and it was a huge ordeal!

Have you ever read the Little House on the Praire books? Whenever I read those books, it makes me so grateful I live now and not 100 years ago. Here's what getting yourself clean was like a hundred years ago (at least in the Ingalls family): in the summer they hauled water from the spring bucket by bucket and warmed it on the stove, then filled a big tub with water and the first person bathed (I'm guessing that process took at least an hour, most likely closer to two). No separate room, so they had to bathe behind a screen made of a blanket in the main room. In the winter, they took snow, warmed it on the stove and went through the same routine. After they were done, the water was dirty, so they dumped it and started all over again for each person who had to bathe. (I got this information in the first book, Little House in the Big Woods, in the chapter entitled 'Sundays')

Wow. It would take all day to take a bath! No wonder they only did it once a week!

I can get up in the morning, turn on the shower (automatic warm water) and be clean (with nice-smelling, foaming soap instead of a nasty-smelling brick that was like trying to get clean using a rock) in ten minutes (well, probably closer to fifteen :0).

I love and am so grateful for my shower!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Hmmm...the first post. What am I grateful for right now? Well, I love this blue patterned background that I found here and I pretty much just love blue. I love colors, so it's really hard to chose one favorite. Anyone else out there have a true-blue (no pun intended), same-since-second-grade favorite color? Or are you more the different favorite every day kind?

That being said, if I HAD to choose a favorite color, it would probably be blue. Why? Well, my mother loves blue and often (I'd say probably four days a week) wears blue. In fact, my second son, when he was about 4-years-old, started calling her "the grandma in the blue suit." And we all know how our mother's preferences tend to ingrain in our pscyches.

Or maybe because blue is very soothing. When my husband and I were first married, I worked in an nursing home. During my years there, the Alzheimer's wing was redone and guess what color they painted the walls? Yup, soft blues and greens. Apparently, those colors actually affect the brain in a soothing way, helpful for people who might be confused, or agitated, or combative. (Except when there was a full moon. Seriously--I never wanted to work on that wing during a full moon. Craziness.)

And seriously, there are SO many different kinds of blue. I guess you could say that about any color, but blue, to me, seems to have so many shades: cobalt, sky blue, indigo, royal blue, periwinkle, etc.

Ok, I'm done. I guess you can tell that I'm grateful for blue. What about you? What's your favorite kind of blue? Or other color: what color makes you happy? Aren't you grateful the world isn't black and white? How boring!