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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

First Birthday Cards of 2018

So far I have only been energetic enough to make birthday cards for the family.  Fourth child will receive this one after his birthday:

Inside is a little medallion with the sentiment on it.  AND under the medallion is a little spring I made by wrapping #26 gauge wire six times around a pencil then taping a one-inch cardstock circle on each end of the spring to then tape to the medallion and the card. I was so thrilled that it actually worked. AND when you open the card the medallion jiggles!!!  So cool.

Of course this is oriented in the wrong direction but as I am writing this I am late getting breakfast made so we will probably be late to the office if I take the time to figure out how to change that.  Anyone who knows how to do that quickly and easily is encouraged to instruct me!  Thanks.

The final grandchild is getting this icky card:

As you can see, it is a pop-up card, sort of.  The puff paint I purchased on Friday morning on my way home from dropping off things at the President's house did sort of work.  It really does take 24 hours to dry, so don't take any shortcuts if you are using puff paint.  The festooned cake is pitiful but I think the recipient might still be happy with it.  This card is a sample of a last-minute card.  Perhaps I should start thinking about next year's cards and get one put together for each person that will be actually attractive and not another "Well, she does mean well." kind of card...

This is the front of the birthday cake card.  It is more attractive, I think.  I used the dragon fly paper to make an envelope which is also aimed to please the recipient.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Mission: Health

Thank you all for your kind concern for my health faux pas a couple of weeks ago.

Really and truly I have made some changes.  Not enough, of course, but hopefully other needed changes are on their way.

What I have found out about eating and low blood sugar:  it does make a difference if you eat regularly.  So I have started doing that. I take carrots, celery, apple slices, and peanut butter to the office to eat at ten and two and four.  Not a lot but some.

Also, vegetable bean soup or a big salad with beans in it is the usual lunch.

One more also:  a couple of days this past week I have avoided the treat counter totally...not so easy since I walk by it ten times a day. Or more.  AND I put a curtain around the candy dish above my desk that we keep for our kind carriers (UPS, FEDEX, USPS, AMAZON) who come into the office every day or most days.  This is a very small give-back for their service to us.  The curtain has kept my fingers away from the candy that the Candy Administrator keeps on hand (actually, Dear One is the person in charge of keeping the treats containers filled).

It is marginally possible that the swim center that is ten minutes from our apartment (and which closed for renovations the day we arrived here in Oregon!) is going to open this week. I hope it is. I hope I have the intestinal fortitude to get up and go swimming before each day gets ahead of me.  If you want to help me, pray for me to have that strength.  Swimming is a wonderful exercise and the least painful one for this body.

More on this soon!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Mission: New Year, Lots Going On!

Christmas, and the heavy mail, is over.  The day after Thanksgiving the real estate people locked up our building.  The day after Christmas and every other week-day since, no such thing!  Even national holidays seem to not be locked-out days.  No problem.  We are here to work.  There is plenty to do.

Last week we received a new Church Service Missionary.  He will work three days a week in the office and will help Dear One with housing, plus he will handle technology issues.  He will also likely be a housing inspector.  The young missionaries have their apartments checked for health and safety issues every month.  So glad OUR apartment is not checked!  I always have too many projects going...

For example, the dining table still has some Christmas cards sitting on it. I have not gotten to sending them out.  There are leavings from making some birthday cards.  One part of the table has a decorating project, but I think I am just going to toss it. (I had purchased some large pine cones from Joann Fabrics and Crafts and put lots of peppermint fragrance on them to cover up the weak wimpy pumpkin pie fragrance.  Mistake.  Serious mistake.  Fortunately the peppermint oil smell went away within a week, but there they still are: sitting there on a sort of funky looking square wrinkled plate.  Of course, the peppermint smell was nowhere NEAR as difficult to handle as the onion fumes coming up from the apartment below.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE onions, but they must be chopping TONS of them.  This has been going on for hours now.  Even Dear One's eyes are tearing up from the blast.)

Besides the projects on the table, there are projects on two of the three counters, then there is the desk/table where I am typing.  This is the library, Spanish language drill center, mission binder area so I can deal with requests for blessings at the various hospitals in the area.  Plus the laminator and a pile of laminating plastic are beside the computer.  Yes, there is room to work, just not attractive.

The little side table by the recliner has my mother's knitting bag (or what I think is my mother's bag), my knitting tools bag,   Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac ( a book with a project every month for knitters to do) and a Barbara Walker Dictionary of Knitting Patterns-actually stitch patterns.  There also are a few newspaper ads for next weekend's specials at the closest grocery stores plus my phone and headset.

So, you can see why I would not want housing inspectors to come here.  It is bad enough with Dear One inspecting!  He does virtually all the cleaning, which is really nice of him since he is probably as tired as I am every night when we get home, especially after walking three miles at lunch time nearly every day.  Right now he is a very happy camper since we are almost three weeks into the "credit card month" and only have $236 on the card.  Impressive, what!!!  I have a good mind to get up early tomorrow morning and go to Winco for a mountain of fresh vegetables....BUT I am still trying to use up all the things we have on hand before getting more.

On the subject of Winco and vegetables,  we watched a lot of "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" the other night, a documentary on NetFlix.  Two different men decided to take a real hand in getting their bodies back in order.  They did a juice fast for more than 60 days.  I like the idea but would have to go the smoothie route, (well, smoothie-for-supper route) since I cannot buy into tossing out all the fiber in the fruits and vegetables when you make juice.  I did make a smoothie yesterday...frozen banana, 6 frozen strawberries,  3/4 cup frozen blueberries, half a cup of leftover oatmeal and raisins breakfast cereal, plus 1-2 cups almond milk. It tasted pretty good and was more like fruity ice cream.  I had two bites.  It was good.  I just had already had my fill of other stuff so didn't eat more.  Dear One ate a big cup full yesterday then finished the rest when he got home from Church today.  That gave me a little while to make some pinto bean chili. (Which, by the way, turned out really tasty!)

Did I mention the Book of Mormon "Answers to Life's Questions" project?  Well, it is going well.  We made many many English stickers and a lot of Spanish ones, too.  Missionaries keep coming back to the office to request more stickers.  We had quite a few cases of Books of Mormon in English, Spanish, and Marshallese.  I started putting the stickers in them, then people in the office offered to help, then another missionary couple came up last week and finished them up.  We get more new cases next week, or the week after!  No problem. It is all the same work: serving wherever we are needed.

We have been here almost five months and love the work.  The tough part is when missionaries need to go home early.  It is so sad to see their sorrow.  We have had several go home lately.  There are health issues which need to be handled at home.  Whatever the reason these wonderful young people feel like failures, even though they gave the work their all for however long they were here.  They definitely were NOT failures.  They touched so many lives and made a difference.  I hope the same will be said of Dear One and me when we go home,  though we are expecting to stay our full 23 months.

It is my hope that everyone who reads these posts knows how much we love Our Savior and are so grateful for the opportunity to serve Him full time for these few months.  Whatever your faith, I hope you are giving it all you have and do your best to serve someone else every single day.  The tiniest smile can be such a boon to a struggling soul. Service is the key to a happy life.  Knowing that you are reading these messages makes me smile with love for you all.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Munchie Monday: Old-Fashioned Oatmeal in the Microwave

A new anything is a good time to make improvements in one's life:  a new year, a new month, a new week, a new day, a new job, anything is a good excuse to get it together.

In any case, I decided to get more serious about eating good food.  Well, just about EVERYTHING I eat is good,  just not necessarily  good FOR me!  So today, since I had started a stove-top cleaning project and could not use that triple apple oatmeal cake that I told you about for cereal that I have in the freezer waiting for just such a morning as this, I decided to try oatmeal in the microwave.

This is what I did:

1. In a very large glass bowl I put 2 cups unsweetened almond milk, 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, and a pinch of salt. I stirred it, put on the plastic keep-the-microwave-clean cover that I discovered here in Oregon (why aren't there any of these covers in New England?  Or why did I not see them before?  They are a wonderful gadget that was in the apartment when we arrived.  I immediately got a new one and put it in my closet to wait until we get home. I hope I don't find too many other things to store until we go home or we will have to trade in our car for a truck.  Not a bad idea, actually...!)

2. Let the microwave cook for 2 minutes, then stirred. Nowhere near ready.

3.  Let cook for 2 more minutes.  Stirred.  Added 1/2 cup raisins and stirred again.

4.  Let cook for 2 more minutes.  Stirred. STILL not ready.

5.  Let cook for 2 MORE minutes.  FINALLY it was ready.

After stirring well, I put 1 cup or a tad more into each of two bowls.  I broke up about 2 Tablespoons walnuts onto the top of the cereal the added 1 Tablespoon ground flax seed.  At this point I got out the  jar of cinnamon honey paste I made last week. I put a small teaspoon on mine and stirred it it.  I won't say how much Dear One stirred into his bowl!  But it was enough.

This was really good.  If you have a higher-grade microwave, it probably won't take your oatmeal 8 minutes to cook.  Also if you are only making one serving, it won't take as long, but I would check every 2 minutes.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

A Word of Warning

Without any preamble, let me say that taking care of our health is very important, starting not next month, or after that party next weekend, or the next birthday, or any other time than right now.  There are consequences for every action.  Sometimes they are immediate.  Sometimes they don't show up for days, years or decades, but there are always consequences.  Some of them are good, yay!  Some of them are not good at all.  We can change the outcomes by changing the actions which happens by changing our attitudes.  Thinking: just this once won't hurt, or this time I will not keep to the plan, etc.  In the long, and sometimes short, run, this is not good.  We need to change our attitudes in a good direction.

SO...I am committing myself to myself, and anyone who cares, that I will take better care of my health.  Having had a health scare yesterday I have been thinking a lot about what I can do.  I was reading in the Book of Mormon in Alma 10: 5-6 last night and was struck to the heart.  Amulek said, "I was called many times and I would not hear;" and then he goes on to say the date when his attention was caught and he made a change.  I hope I have "heard: now.  I hope my change is of this moment.

Some things I have had "called" many times but I "would not hear" are these:  plan to be healthy by--eating small "meals" every couple of hours (not three big meals a day...plan the day's food and divide it up); 
move your body every hour at least; 
eat your calories, and drink water; 
eat food as close to its natural state as possible, i.e. whole fresh foods prepared simply;
get to bed at the same (and early) time each night; 
get up at the same time every morning; 
spend time in meditation/prayer at least daily or better yet, have your heart filled with prayer at all times; 
be kind, loving, thoughtful; 
look around you and see who you can help in ways that work with your own skills, abilities, and talents;
be grateful and show that gratitude;
don't compare yourself to others, just do what you can do today. Tomorrow you may be able to do more.

In my view, these are actually do-able things, we just have to do them.

NOTE:  The scare was not a heart attack or anything like that.  We were out grocery shopping and out of the blue I started perspiring profusely, shaking, felt dizzy, and had a headache develop.  I tried to think why this was happening and realized that I had had a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and half an apple around 2 PM.  This was about 5:30.  Yikes!  No wonder.  When these things happen you know you have to have some rescue food.  I was not thinking straight so I got a chicken roll-up and cracked into it immediately, eating it as I struggled along holding tightly to the shopping cart.  We got to the car and I just sat limply in the seat until well after we got home.  Thankfully, Dear One carried in all the bags and I just sat there until I felt able to walk upstairs safely.  After a while I investigated online what better rescue foods I can carry with me in case I don't do what I have mentioned above.  You know, just in case...

Friday, January 5, 2018

Food Friday: At Last, Really Soft Sugar Cookies

Dear One likes soft cookies.  Almost everything I make turns out not to be soft.  Finally I have found a recipe that actually lives up to its billing.  This recipe is from Monica at The Yummy Life.  You WILL want to go to her website!  She has created KIND nut bar copycats.  I spent ages there looking at those recipes, and so many others!

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies Cut-Outs

  5-1/2 cups  flour
  1 teaspoon baking soda
  3/4 teaspoon salt (1/2 teaspoon if using salted butter)
  1 cup sour cream, room temperature
  1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  2 cups sugar
  2 eggs
  1 teaspoon vanilla
  FOR FROSTING (makes 1.5 cups of frosting):
  3 cups powdered sugar
  3 tablespoons butter, softened
  1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  4-6 tablespoons canned evaporated milk
  food coloring (optional)

 In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, & salt; set aside. In second large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream the sour cream and butter at low speed; add sugar, eggs, and vanilla & mix until combined. (It's okay if it's a little lumpy as long as no butter chunks are visible.) Gradually add the flour mixture to the sour cream mixture, mixing until well combined. Dough will be sticky. (If cookie dough is too thick for your mixture to handle, you can stir it by hand with a wooden spoon.) Divide dough onto two pieces of plastic wrap; flatten dough, wrap tightly, and refrigerate until chilled, 1-2 hours. (Make ahead tip: Dough may be made to this point and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)
Big, fat, SOFT sugar cookies!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.  Generously flour your counter or work surface to prevent dough from sticking. Rub flour on the rolling pin. Put one of the chilled pieces of dough on top of the floured surface and sprinkle the top of the dough with more flour. Starting at the center, roll the dough out to one edge; return to the center and roll to the opposite edge. Continue rolling until dough is an even 1/4" thick all over, sprinkling with additional flour, if needed, to avoid sticking. Dip cookie cutter in flour and cut out dough shapes. Transfer dough shapes to baking sheets. Continue rolling dough, cutting shapes, and adding to baking sheets until they are filled.  Bake 2 sheets at a time for 8-10 minutes, rotating and switching pans half way through cooking time. Bake them just until they are baked all the way through but haven't started browning on the bottom. If a soft textured cookie is desired, it's very important not to over bake them.  Transfer hot cookies to a baking rack to cool completely. 

Combine powdered sugar, softened butter, vanilla, and half of the evaporated milk in a large bowl. Use an electric mixer to combine ingredients on a low speed until its' a thick paste consistency and all of the lumps are gone. Gradually add remaining milk and continue mixing on medium speed until frosting is a smooth, silky, spreadable consistency. If it's still too thick, add more milk 1/2 teaspoon at a time until it's desired consistency. Mix in food coloring, if desired.

People really liked the frosted cookies.

This recipe makes a lot of cookies!  I did not count them but there were at least 50 cookies I am sure.  I used a washed-out soup can for the cookie cutter...then remembered I had purchased a cookie cutter.  Oh well.  It will turn up soon I am sure, since I am on an organization/clean-up kick.  At least I was this morning before coming to the office. I might have run out of steam by the time we get home though...

Thursday, January 4, 2018

New Year, New Kitchen Gadgets!

Some things really tickle me!  I just love kitchen gadgets and when some kind person sends you some unexpectedly in the mail, it really makes your day.  In this case it was my sister.  She is so generous and kind. And thoughtful/thinking beyond anything I could ever pull off, but then, comparing oneself to others is not a good use of mental energy.  One almost always comes out the loser in one's own mind when comparing.  So I will just be grateful for the gifts, and knowing my sister.

The first thing she sent was a Cuisinart stick blender.  She had read this blog some time ago and "heard" me noting that my stick blender was at home in Vermont and that I used a fork to mush up some soup vegetables.  Which did work, but now I can have really really smooth soups!  Thank you!
Notice the lovely growing green onions in the background and the not-so-lovely drag ends of a toll house pie I made on  New Year's Day. And the washed-out tin can I use for a cookie and biscuit cutter.

Yesterday another box came to the office.  Totally out of the blue.  I do order things from Amazon but had not done so in some time so I was surprised.  In the package was a Ninja Express Chop.  After our phone conversation this evening  with my sister I immediately opened the box.  Since I am doing "the garlic cure",  I smashed five cloves of garlic, removed the paper, put them in the Express Chop and pressed the button about three times.  Instantly there was wonderful finely chopped garlic.  Yay!  So easy and no garlic smell on my hands.

Since we are trying to eat up everything in the refrigerator before buying more, we are down to a head of romaine lettuce and a few mini carrots.  I remembered the wonderful carrot salad Rudi Sordes used to make with I was living with him and his family in Toulouse, France while studying abroad back in the 90's.  I thought I would see if I could chop carrots.  Rudi had grated them but I almost always grate my fingers because I go too far or too fast when grating.  WELL...I put in four small carrots, pressed the button about five times and voilá, instant carrot salad carrots!  I did not stop to make the vinaigrette Rudi used to make but put on a dab of mayonnaise and ate up a lovely fresh salad.  I see a lot of that in the future!

Thank you, dear Sister, for the new gadget!  It works like a charm and is my new favorite kitchen tool!