Monday, January 31, 2011

I've finally lost my Baby Hippo weight!

....and my twin weight, and my 4-year-old boy weight! Woohoo!

Now to lose my honeymoon weight, the one I took five years ago after my wedding to John, my happiness-because-of-being-in-a-new-relationship-with-John weight, and my 8-year-old girl weight....

19 pounds lost, 22 more to go!

So you may have noticed the ticker I've linked at the end of each post, this one.....

Lest there be any confusion about it, let me explain. This ticker is a representation of the weight my sister and I have lost combined. The number on the right is the amount of pounds we would like to lose, combined, and the number in the middle, with the cute little apple above it, is the amount we've lost so far. My sister is a HUGE loser, having lost 77 of the 96 pounds portrayed on the ticker. I've included her on my ticker because she has been hugely instrumental in helping me to lose this weight I've carried for five years. She's my health coach and she came free with the Take Shape For Life program to which she introduced me. Because I've had so much success with TSFL, I've become a health coach, too! As my health coach, Robyn has motivated me, encouraged me, held me accountable, and because we are sisters, even yelled at me when I've overeaten due to stress. Honestly, having a personal coach has been the most beneficial part of the Take Shape For Life plan.

If you are interested in losing weight the way my sister and I have, and would like a free health coach to encourage you and help you on your way, I would love to be a part of your plan as your very own health coach! To learn more about the program, go HERE. Oh, and because of popular demand, I promise to post my before and after pics soon! 

Thanks for listening!

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Homemaker Monday: Crispy Creamy Doughnut Mix!

This post is in progress...


MINE: I put an exclamation point after the title of this post because I'm so excited about baking mixes right now!!!

If you ask anyone who knows me well, they'll tell you that I get really "into" something once I get started. I could name countless things that some believe I've become "obsessed" over, but I'll spare you the boring details. Suffice it to say I'm currently completely engrossed in making everything I currently bake into a convenient mixes, for me, and.... for you!

It's so, so easy to do. Simply quadruple the dry stuff in any baked goods recipe, mix the dry ingredients together, cut in the butter, if so called for, then divide into 4 parts and place into jars or ziploc bags. If there's butter in your mix, it must be refrigerated or frozen, otherwise it will keep on the shelf for months, even years. Make sure to label your mix, and write down which wet ingredients to add and the baking directions, and you're set!

I plan on blogging tons of mixes in the coming days and weeks, but I thought the best one to start off with would be one of my favorites... Crispy Creamy Doughnuts! If you'll remember, I found the original recipe HERE, at, but to make the Crispy Creamy Doughnut mix, I had to mix things up a bit by making a couple of substitutions. And don't worry. I tried out this mix this evening, and these doughnuts were just as delightful as they always are. So here you go.... and you're welcome! :)

Doughnut mix:
20 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons yeast (8 envelopes)
3/4 cup powdered milk
2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons salt
1 1/3 cup butter

Doughnut mix directions:

1. Whisk together all dry ingredients, then cut in butter until small crumbs form.
2. Divide mix into four parts, about 6 cups each, and place into Ziploc bags in the fridge or freezer. Mix will keep for about a month in the fridge and about 3 months in the freezer.

Icing mix:
8 cups powdered sugar
1 1/3 cups butter

Icing mix directions:

1. Cut butter into powdered sugar until mix resembles small crumbs. Divide into four parts, and place in Ziploc bags. Store in fridge or freezer.

To make doughnuts and icing:

For the doughnuts:
1 package Crispy Creamy Doughnut mix
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup warm water (so warm that you can barely hold your hand under it as it comes out of the faucet)

1. In a mixing bowl, combine mix and water, then stir until water cools down. Add eggs. Knead mixture by hand, or in a Kitchen-aid with a dough hook for about 5 minutes. If mix is too sticky, add flour. If it's too firm, add water.

2. Let rise in a greased bowl until doubled in bulk, about an hour.

3. Roll out onto a counter about 1/2 inch thick and cut into desired shapes. For instructions on how to make the shapes pictured above, go HERE. Place doughnuts on greased cookie sheets to rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

4. Fry in hot oil until lightly browned on both sides, then let cool slightly for 5 minutes on a paper-towel-covered cookie sheet. While still warm, dip doughnuts in Crispy Creamy icing, then let cool on racks.

For the icing:
1 package Crispy Creamy icing mix
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup hot water

1. Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Turn off heat when icing begins to simmer.

Please let me know if these directions are confusing. It's late, and I'm tired, but I am willing to make the sacrifice and post this just for you! :) Love ya!

OURS: Okay, let's see what homemaking tips, recipes and how-tos you have to link up today. Can't wait and thank you so much. Have a great Homemaker Monday!

(Linky Tools is currently down....)

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

An Australia Day Miracle

Yesterday was Australia Day, in case you didn't know it, and a miracle was wrought in my life that I must share with you. It has nothing to do with Australia, but it's too late for a Christmas miracle, and too early for a Ground Hog's Day miracle (which happens to be my birthday by the way), so, after a little googling, I can say that it's an Australian Day miracle.

If you read my recent post called "A Little Bed Time Tip", you know what an ordeal it can be to put my 4 four and under to bed. I've simplified it immensely by bribing them with gummy bear vitamins to actually get them into their cribs, but then we have the book reading, which has to consist of the same books every night, each twin insisting on naming each of the sixteen different types of trucks separately, NEVER simultaneously, even though they each speak with the same tone, speed and impedement, then reading the Big Puppy Little Puppy book, again separately, then there's the water-drinking, then the tucking in, with very particular blankets, in just the right order and quantity, then the hand-holding/praying, then the hand-kissing, then the door-opening just right.

You can't imagine the deep breath I take when this is all done each night. And I didn't even mention that Baby Hippo is usually either on my hip, in one of the twin's cribs or, if I'm lucky, playing on the floor in the 4 four and under's room during this routine.

Last night, the night of the Australia Day miracle, I had gotten to the point in the bed-time routine where I was about to start reading the first book, which means I still had a long way to go before I could walk away. As I was retrieving the book, Baby Hippo, as he sat in Twin A's crib, began to cry, and after several minutes, was inconsolable. I knew that I wouldn't be able to do the book-reading over his crying, so in frustration, I said to the 4-year-old boy, "4-year-old boy, I need you to read the twins their books for me, then when you're done, just give them some more books to read in their beds." I thought this would buy me enough time to nurse Baby Hippo to sleep, then be able go to back in and finish the bed-time routine.

Baby Hippo did not share my plan, though, and fussed for about 20 minutes before he actually fell asleep. I had had my back to the 4 four and under's bedroom door, and when I turned around, I was shocked to see that it was dark in their room. My room was dark as well, so I couldn't tell if they had just closed their door, thus making it impossible for me to see the light in their room, or if perhaps they had turned off the light, sneaked out of their rooms and headed to the basement to play air hockey with the older kids.

I carefully crawled out of my bed where I had laid Baby Hippo, and walked to their room, fully expecting to find it empty, then facing the prospect of having to haul the kids back upstairs to finish the bed-time routine.

I stepped inside their room, turned on their light, and was absolutely STUNNED to find that each of them were snuggled comfortably under their correct blankets, sleeping soundly. To this hour, I still don't know how the 4-year-old boy put the twins to bed, throwing away their night-time routine with abandon, and I consider it a true miracle. Perhaps the 4-year-old boy could put them to bed every night from now on. No, I think I'll at least wait until he's five.

Sometimes things just work out better then you could ever hope for. We Mormons call it a "tender mercy". Yeah, I had one last night. Thanks, God. :)

Thanks for listening!

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The 4 Four and Under Paint a Play House!


I don't say this enough to him in person, but John is an amazing, outstanding, patient and loving husband and father. No one I know has ever seen a father so attentive as John is, so totally and completely involved in his children's lives. After recently reading his life history, a document that was buried under dozens of boxes in the basement, I learned that he was taught it from his father, who happens to be pretty much the best man I know.

Among the many things John has done for the kids, he has recently put together a play house/jungle gym for them in the backyard, made largely of salvaged material. Not only is he an accomplished play house designer and architect, but he's also frugal! What more could a girl ask for!

And to top it off, for this project he has let go the everything-has-to-be-perfect side of his psyche and decided to let the 4 four and under paint the play house themselves! I adore taking pics of my darling children, and I love to take pictures of painting activities, because there is so much color, so I probably went overboard, but here's how things are going so far!


Thanks for listening!

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

The Mexican Greeting

To hug, to shake hands, to kiss on the cheek.... As you may remember from a previous post, I'm not an overly affectionate person and I've never been very good at any of these. When it comes to hugging, I never know to whom to do it, when to do it, or for how long. One vibrant young man once said in a talk at church that you should make it a point to be the last to let go in a hug, but if everyone adopted that practice, there would be a lot of long, potentially awkward encounters.

Shaking hands is something that is easier to manage, although I never know whether the person I'm greeting would like to hug or shake hands. If you go to shake hands, but they would like to hug, again, you end up with an awkward moment where your hand is reaching toward their abdomen area and they are coming toward you with outstretched arms, perhaps already offended that you would chose to give them a mere handshake.

Now we come to the Mexican greeting. It's called a "saludo" and it is done by each party touching right cheeks and making a kissing sound in the air. To repeat, you don't actually kiss the person, you just touch cheeks, pucker, and kiss the air beside them.

As if hugging and hand-shaking weren't confusing enough to me, I've now chosen to live among a people who greet each other in this new (to me) and somewhat personal way.

So here are some of the problems I've had with this. First of all, since our community is made up of both Mexican and American people, I never know if they are going to do the Mexican saludo or the American hug or handshake. I find that I can't give a hug my all if I am wondering if I should be touching cheeks instead. I still remember the first time I was greeted in the Mexican way. I was chosen as one of the moms to serve lunch to the football players the day before game day. The boys were each dressed in white shirts and ties, as they always were on this occasion, and as I was preparing a tray of brownies, one very popular and attractive boy smiled at me, approached me, leaned over me, then pressed his cheek against mine, kissing the air beside my ear. I was stunned and, honestly, a little teensy weensy bit flattered. Later that afternoon, I said to the 15-year-old girl, "Hey 15-year-old girl, you know that really cute popular guy on the football team, the tall one with the curly hair?"

"Yeah," she responded, bored by the conversation already.

"Well, he kissed me today. What do you think that means?"

"It doesn't mean anything, Mom," she answered in her best annoyed inflection. "He just saludared you. Everybody does that. I'm sure he did it to all the other moms, too."

"Oh. Okay."

My mind was reeling with this new revelation. So was I expected to do this to all of the teenage boys who come over to the house with my sons? What about when I see them at church? What about their fathers?

Since then I've learned, more or less, with whom I should share this greeting and with whom I should not. It's too complicated to write about here, so I'll just leave it at that. Except to say that I don't have trouble at all when it comes to teenage girls and women. I feel comfortable hugging, shaking hands or greeting them Mexican-style. The troubles seem to start when teenage boys come into the picture. They're just so awkward and I wouldn't ever want to do anything to make any of them uncomfortable.

If I've known a person for some time, I can learn his greeting technique, which makes things a little easier. For instance, one young man who is often seen in my kitchen enthusiastically gives me the traditional Mexican greeting, then afterwords embraces me American-style, firmly, for an extended period. Fortunately I've grown accustomed to this and can now confidently "saludar" him, then lean back in for the hug.

While at the rodeo this past weekend, I didn't have too much trouble determining whom to greet Mexican-style and whom to greet American-style, but sometimes people just want to shake hands. So I shake their hands, but then wonder if I need to go in for the cheek-touching afterwords or just leave it at the hand shake. It's never as simple as I would hope. As I was leaving the rodeo, I ran into one of the 18-year-old boy's friends, a young man with whom I had had a friendly encounter across the aisles at Walmart a week previously, which meant we were now on friendly terms. I was holding Baby Hippo in my left arm, and in my right hand, a Ziploc bag half-filled with smashed chocolate chip cookie crumbs I had been feeding Baby Hippo. Thus, my hand occupied with the Ziploc bag was also covered in crumbs and chocolate. As the boy approached me, I began to become nervous, wondering if he was going to "saludar" me and if so, what should I do with my hands? As he got closer, he began to extend his hand, and I realized that the greeting would be a simple handshake. I quickly switched the Ziploc bag to my left hand in preparation for the shake, but then remembered that my right hand was covered in cookie. Not knowing what else to do, I tentatively held it out and quickly and apologetically explained that my hand had cookies all over it, so I couldn't shake his. His solution was to smile, then simply grab my wrist where it was cleaner and shake that. I guess I've been in more awkward situations, so I can't complain.

And with that, I shall bid thee "Adios"!


(That's John, and I'm always comfortable giving him any kind of greeting.)

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Homemaker Monday: What Parents Do

Welcome to the 118th weekly edition of...

Thank you for joining us! If you're new to this carnival and would like to enter your post, please check HERE for the rules and regs.

YOURS: This week's "YOURS" goes to Suzy over at Suzy's Artsy Craftsy Sitcom! She shows how to make an absolutely gorgeous faux stained glass window hanging. Not only does this tutorial sound fun and not-all-too-difficult, I am super-impressed with Suzy's creative skills. She's a fantastic artist! Just look...


So Suzy, thank you so much for linking up! I'm looking forward to making some time to try this. And don't forget to feel free to grab the "I Was Featured" button from my left sidebar! We'll look forward to hearing from you again! For Suzy's tutorial, click HERE.

MINE: So John and I had a list of things we were going to get done on Saturday. I was going to catch up on laundry, get the kids clothes ironed for church, organize our loft, and bake desserts for Sunday. John was going to spend some time working on a jungle gym he's building for the kids, plan our summer vacation, ready the garden for spring planting and accomplish myriad other tasks.

Here's what we did instead....

6:30: Wake up and make breakfast for the two opposing JV Girls basketball teams who slept over at our house.

7:30: Clean up said breadfast.

8:30: Drive said teams to the high school gym.

9:00: Put cookie bars in the preheated oven to bake for the rodeo grade school fundraiser. Drop off the 10- and 8-year-olds at said rodeo.

9:30: Remove cookies from oven, individually package them, then leave to watch the 15-year-old girl's basketball game.

10:30: Still at the basketball game.

11:00: Arrive at the rodeo with the 4 four and under. Stay there for much longer than hoped for.

1:30: Return home to warm up the soup and corn bread for the missionary's lunch at 2:00.

2:15: Greet the missionaries and eat lunch with them.

3:00: Head back to the rodeo to see where the four oldest are.

4:30 onward: The day after this became a blur. One lovely lady brought us dinner, as a gesture of gratitude for a favor John did, we had several unexpected visitors, which is always fun, and I'm not being sarcastic this time, it really is, then we did the whole bedtime routine, which seems to take from 45 minutes to an hour. We really need to shave that down.

So no, John and I didn't get a thing crossed off our lists, and my laundry is piled nearly to the ceiling, but we did something way more important. We were parents and we did what parents do. We went to our kids' games and took them to the rodeo and laid on the floor and built train tracks with them and nursed them and put them to bed. A day well spent....


And here are more pictures from the day!


OURS: Okay, now it's your turn! What homemaking/parenting tips do you have for us today? If it's your first time here, feel free to dig in your archives and link up! Thank you so much and have a great Homemaker Monday!

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Neat Way to Feed a Baby a Banana

And when I say neat, I mean that you are only left with a spoon to wash when you are finished. I was introduced to this method by my babysitter, this lovely lady...


(This photo was taken about a year ago.)

It's so simple, I am puzzled as to why I had never thought of it before. I guess I can't think of everything. So here's what you do.

1. Grab a banana.
2. Cut it in half with a sharp knife.
3. With a baby spoon, scoop out tiny pieces of the banana directly from the banana skin, like so...


4. Feed it to a super-cute baby, like so...


This is all the mess you'll have left when you're done...


I don't know why I think this is so fascinating, but I do. And I have even found the older kids walking around the house eating a banana out of it's skin with a spoon. Perhaps this is what happens when one doesn't get TV.

Anyways, you're welcome!

Oh, and don't forget that you only have like 7 hours if you want to get the $20 Amazon gift care for only $10! Go HERE and good luck!

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Buy a $20 Amazon Gift Certificate For Only $10!!!!

The deal is HERE, and it ends in less than one day. So cool! (Due to huge traffic levels, the link takes a while to load. Just be patient!)

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

YouTube Message From Stephanie Nielsen of The NieNie Dialogues

If you blog, you are almost assuredly familiar with The Nienie Dialogues. In 2008, Stephanie Nielsen, author of The NieNie Dialogues, and her husband were severely burned in a near-fatal plane crash. We've gotten to know her through her writings, and now we can catch a glimpse of her amazing spirit through video. I hope you enjoy this moving interview as much as I have.

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

11 Parent Preparation Lessons

The following Parent Preparation lessons were written by Barrett Lemmons and sent to my email yesterday. This had me laughing hysterically through the entire reading. As they say, it's better to laugh than to cry. If you know someone who is considering having children, you might want to share this with them. (Or maybe not?) See if you find it as hilarious as I did....

Lesson 1

1. Go to the grocery store.
2. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office.
3. Go home.
4. Pick up the paper.
5. Read it for the last time.

Lesson 2

Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who already are parents and berate them about their...
1. Methods of discipline.
2. Lack of patience.
3. Appallingly low tolerance levels.
4. Allowing their children to run wild.
5. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's breastfeeding, sleep habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior.
Enjoy it because it will be the last time in your life you will have all the answers.

Lesson 3

A really good way to discover how the nights might feel...
1. Get home from work and immediately begin walking around the living room from 5PM to 10PM carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly. (Eat cold food with one hand for dinner)
2. At 10PM, put the bag gently down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep.
3. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1AM.
4. Set the alarm for 3AM.
5. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2AM and make a drink and watch an infomercial.
6. Go to bed at 2:45AM.
7. Get up at 3AM when the alarm goes off.
8. Sing songs quietly in the dark until 4AM.
9. Get up. Make breakfast. Get ready for work and go to work (work hard and be productive)

Repeat steps 1-9 each night. Keep this up for 3-5 years. Look cheerful and together.

Lesson 4

Can you stand the mess children make? T o find out...
1. Smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains.
2. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
3. Stick your fingers in the flower bed.
4. Then rub them on the clean walls.
5. Take your favorite book, photo album, etc. Wreck it.
6. Spill milk on your new pillows. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

Lesson 5

Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems.
1. Buy an octopus and a small bag made out of loose mesh.
2. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out.

Time allowed for this - all morning.

Lesson 6

Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that.
1. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there.
2. Get a dime. Stick it in the CD player.
3. Take a family size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seat. Sprinkle cheerios all over the floor, then smash them with your foot.
4. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.

Lesson 7

Go to the local grocery store. Take with you the closest thing you can find to a pre-school child. (A full-grown goat is an excellent choice). If you intend to have more than one child, then definitely take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys. Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

Lesson 8

1. Hollow out a melon.
2. Make a small hole in the side.
3. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.
4. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane.
5. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone.
6. Tip half into your lap. The other half, just throw up in the air.

You are now ready to feed a nine- month-old baby.

Lesson 9

Learn the names of every character from Sesame Street , Barney, Disney, the Teletubbies, and Pokemon. Watch nothing else on TV but PBS, the Disney channel or Noggin for at least five years. (I know, you're thinking What's 'Noggin'?) Exactly the point.

Lesson 10

Make a recording of Fran Drescher saying 'mommy' repeatedly. (Important: no more than a four second delay between each 'mommy'; occasional crescendo to the level of a supersonic jet is required). Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for the next four years. You are now ready to take a long trip with a toddler.

Lesson 11

Start talking to an adult of your choice. Have someone else continually tug on your skirt hem, shirt- sleeve, or elbow while playing the 'mommy' tape made from Lesson 10 above. You are now ready to have a conversation with an adult while there is a child in the room.

This is all very tongue in cheek; anyone who is parent will say 'it's all worth it!' Share it with your friends, both those who do and don't have kids. I guarantee they'll get a chuckle out of it. Remember, a sense of humor is one of the most important things you'll need when you become a parent!

~Barrett Lemmons

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)

Homemaker Monday $100 Gift Certificate Giveaway!

Last week, I was honored to gain my 500th follower! Thus, I thought there'd be no better way to show my appreciation to you, my BFFs, than to giveaway another $100 gift certificate on Homemaker Monday!

Can I just tell you how much I adore Especially their kitchen and dining department! I could spend literally hours browsing their dish collections, Le Creuset cookware, counter height stools, food processors, and even aprons!

As you know, I love to cook, and for this giveaway, I'd like to show you some of the products I've used or would love to have to make some of my favorite recipes, things like veggie burgers...


...homemade strawberry ice cream....


...cranberry salsa....


....or one of my most googled recipes of all time, manna bread...


To come see some great products and to enter the giveaway, come on over to my giveaway blog HERE.

Thank you so much, again, for your support of my blog by your daily visits, your clicks and your purchases! 100% of the proceeds from this blog go to the support of a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and he thanks you, too!

Okay, now it's time for you to link up your Homemaker Monday tip of the week! If this is your first time, feel free to dig through your archives and link anything homemaking! Thanks so much and have a great Homemaker Monday!

P.S. If you've already entered your thumbnail link and it's a little blurry, you might want to try to reenter it, as I enlarged the thumbnail size. Thank you!

P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)