Sunday, February 22, 2009


As a Californian, I was inundated with the "whole foods" craze. Now that I'm connecting with my pioneer roots here in Utah, I find myself doing some real life whole food cooking. The results aren't always what I thought they'd be but I feel good for trying. In addition, I've been attempting to recreate some of our favorite things at home from scratch to be more provident shall we say. Let's just call this process "scratching".

Here are some of my scratching projects...

  • I never buy any premade cookie at the store. Using only whole chocolate chips, and a whole lot of sugar and flour, I make plenty of cookies from scratch.

  • In lieu of premade chocolate milk, we had been using carnation instant breakfast chocolate packets mixed with milk. To bring it down even more, we started buying cans of hot chocolate mix. Then, I found a recipe to make our own hot chocolate mix using cocoa, creamer, powdered milk and powdered sugar so I sent Scott to retrieve me a can of our never used powdered milk from our food storage supply and whipped us up a batch. The jury is still out on whether this is passing muster with the kids. I gave some to Emma this morning who exclaimed, "this tastes we-od".

  • The Creamery on 9th Street makes the yummiest hamburgers. Scott was the cleverest one day and watched how they make them. I got him on the job of making some at home. Using an ice cream scooper, put a scoop of raw and unspiced hamburger on the stove. Cook it for a minute, squash it down with a spatula and salt and pepper. After it's fully cooked, serve on a homemade roll. I used a Rhodes roll from my freezer that I had let raise for the prescribed time and baked. It was perfect!

  • Scott and I have never bought premade maple syrup. We only use mapleine with lots of whole sugar. I don't use Bisquick either. I have the best recipe for waffles and pancakes.

  • Our microwave still is outside because of the popcorn incident which stunk it up big time so everything gets heated on the stove or in the oven these days. It's very wholesome not having any of those micro-waves breaking down plastic or giving us cancer. This may change when it gets warmer outside. I use a lot of whole dishwashing soap to clean all of the extra dishes this requires.

  • Speaking of popcorn, we only pop popcorn on the stove now using whole popcorn kernels and whole melted butter on top.

  • Scott uses only organic grapes homegrown on the vines from our yard (and a whole bunch of sugar) to make jelly. No pesticides people.

  • Sundays are Cinnamon Roll Sundays around here. I usually buy frozen Rhodes cinnamon rolls from Costco but I decided to give it a try myself. This weekend was my third try at the matter. I'm glad to report that the third time is indeed a charm. Thanks to my cousin with a really good (& easy) recipe along with some excellent tips, it finally worked!

  • People, hold onto your hats here but I will confess that I have made my own laundry detergent. I'm obsessed with the Duggar family (the ones with 18 children and now a daughter-in-law...yes I keep track and secretly wish I could live with them or have that many children) and in their book recently released (which I highly recommend), they shared their recipe for homemade laundry detergent. We are still studying whether or not this is an acceptable 'scratching' event for us. The cost savings is so huge I'm very hopeful but I want to be sure that the Jacobs family doesn't smell before I can fully recommend the experience to others. I made the mistake of confessing this to a couple of my California friends--the first laughed so hard she couldn't speak and the second said she needed to get me out of here if I'm going to start doing stuff like that.

  • When we have a true hankering for ice cream, we have homemade it using whole cream, whole milk and pouring melted chocolate chips at the end to make chocolate crackle. It's very wholesome.

Just in case my Weight Watcher friend reads this, please note that just because I make it doesn't mean I always eat it. I do feel it's a major bummer that when eliminating processed foods, I may be healthier but I'm not necessarily skinnier. I still have to eat in moderation. What a jip!

Recently, Scott needed a new picture in order to renew his passport. Remember the days you had to go get your picture taken at like Kinko's or someplace? Not anymore! I took this picture of Scott from scratch.

I'm always up for new "scratching" ideas of anyone wants to share them with me!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Katie Scissorhands

One of the upsides of being the youngest of such a widespread of ages in my family is that I have the coolest nieces that are closer to my age than my siblings that birthed them. Nothing was cooler than being 10 years old when I became an aunt. These cute girls were the little sisters I always hoped and dreamed for. Now, many years later, it is even more fun to have nieces (and nephews too but there aren't so many of those in the Curtis family) who are awesome, interesting, and smart adults and are truly my friends and teach me so much. How lucky am I?

Katie is the oldest child of my big bro Rich. As my oldest brother, Rich is 16 years older than I and oh how I love this guy. He does stuff like sing Happy Birthday to me in Vern-like style on my voicemail. He and I probably look the most alike with our matching chins although not so much anymore because he is getting skinny. I talk to him regularly. He didn't get the least bit rattled when he called recently and caught me in a mini-breakdown and I couldn't help but bawl on the phone when I heard his voice. He has a wife and four girls, he knows what to do with a few tears. Okay, but this isn't about Rich, this is about Katie. Here is a more current picture of her with Papa. Papa was never happier than eating a greasy treat at a fair of some kind. Mixing in a grandchild to the adventure would only make it more pleasurable to him. He adored his grandchildren.

Oh, right, right...this is about Katie. Here are a few fun things about her:

  • Katie can scrapbook like nobody's business. She runs circles around me and is my sounding board for all scrapping projects. She is so creative, organized and so caught up that she does albums for other people. I'm glad she will still speak to me even though I've gone mostly digital. She is a truist and must touch the paper still.
  • One time I e-mailed a recipe to Katie per her request and by accident I made a typo on the oven temperature. It took her HOURS to bake the cheesecake bars. Oooh, I felt bad!
  • She is the adopted mother to my parent's dog, Toby. He is crazy and she deserves an award for taking him on. This is the same dog who under my watch nearly drowned in my parent's pool. She dresses him up for the holidays and everything.
  • Not only do Katie and I talk about and analyze books we read, we are really good at talking about blogs and blogwriting as we all know it's just another kind of reading material.
  • Katie is a school teacher along with five of my other nieces. I would pay a million dollars if any of our kids could have one of them for a teacher. Teaching just runs in their veins.
  • Katie has a great sense of humor. She has put up with many of our family dinners which can resemble attending a circus. I remember laughing so hard once with her that we could hardly catch our breath. I wish I knew what was so funny that time.
  • Nobody can pinch a penny like Katie can. I've never seen such restraint. She can seriously go into a store and if it's not exactly what she is looking for at the price she will pay, forget about it!
  • Katie is so smart plus she is nice enough to not use very many big words that I can't understand. That would make me feel bad. She is so considerate that way.
  • I love that Katie (along with my other nieces as well) is very talented musically. I love that Granny has left a little bit of her talent and love for music with each of them.
This is not an all-inclusive list but suffice it to say that I think Katie is pretty darn cool. This has been so much fun for me, maybe I'll make this an ongoing series...I could write volumes on my appreciation and love for all of my nieces (and nephews too, of course.).

Friday, February 06, 2009

Go, Dog. Go!

Many of you (particularly with kids) have heard of the children's book titled Go, Dog. Go! by P. D. Eastman and may have even read it. It is a quick read--

Regardless BYU's theater department presented an adaptation of the book on stage. I took the three older kids and had a fun time. The program consisted of simple sets and six actors. They played Red Dog, Blue Dog, Green Dog, Yellow Dog, Hattie/Spotted Dog, and MC Dog. There was a lot of running, singing, dancing and howling in harmony. The dogs were working, driving, running, eating, sleeping, and of course singing. We had lots of fun-- the kids and dad loved it and had a good time out on the town (if the HFAC is out on the town.) For the non-BYU-Alum the HFAC is the Harris Fine Arts Center. I am continually amazed how many events are available and affordable on campus. We have decided to try to take more advantage of the enriching activities on campus in the short time we are here at BYU. After the show we waited around and got to meet the "Dogs" on stage. The kids thought it was fun to meet the actors-- however having spent their growing up years in the Theater (Thanks to Pam and DCMT (Danville Children's Musical Theater)) and Nancy's involvement with the theater, being on stage was a familiar feeling for them. If you may be wondering about the "dogs" in the picture, they just came from a "Dog Party" so they are all wearing party hats with their ears pointing up, or hanging down. Thanks BYU theater department for a fun night out.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

School Volunteer

I've logged a number of hours volunteering in the school classroom. It's not my absolute favorite thing to do but my sense of duty (thank you Gilbert & Sullivan) helps me to feel rewarded in this endeavor.

I kind of had a "hall pass" for the last 18 months since Grace was born. It's a well-known fact that if you have a newborn, you are absolved of classroom volunteering responsibilities. Does 18 months classify as a newborn still? I guess not. Time to get busy on that but in the meantime, I got caught in a teacher's snare. Before the holidays, Ben's teacher called and said, "were your the parent that was asking about volunteering opportunities in the classroom?" "Ummmm, well...[what in the heck do I say to that? If I say, 'nope, not me' I sound like a jerk. This is a trap, people.] I would be happy to volunteer if you need. What are you looking for exactly?" I took the bait.

(By the way, I have been volunteering at the school for the second grade team. I just am not in the classroom but I exchange books for the kids. My brother said that in California, they call that the library but this is something different I assure you.)

So, simply ignoring the assignment did not work. Indeed the parent I am to share with called me up in January and confirmed we are sharing every other week. Today I went for the first time. I begged and pleaded with Scott to come home and stay with the little girls as they are not invited to help.

It was reading centers. Ack! Please start removing my fingernails one by one to alleviate the torture. The kids are split up into groups, they either go with the teacher or a BYU volunteer (could you not find another one???) whilst I wander the room awaiting a hand to go up or more importantly, I police the children so that they will actually do their work independently.

Wander, wander.. Look like you are doing something. Oh good, a hand goes up. In whispered tones, "Hi. What can I help you with?" "What did Albert Einstein do?" "Well, he was super smart. Umm, he didn't invent the lightbulb. I know that was Edison." Luckily a kid pipes up, "he cured the common cold." Did he really? Well, what do you know. Not but a few minutes later, "How do you spell Donatello? Like the artist? [dumbhead]" Luckily I can spell. Why can't these kids ask me the main characters of Jane Austen's classics? Or how about talk about each of the Bronte sister novels? It's my current fettish. How about Elizabeth Gaskell? Let's talk about her. Any music question? Whatever.

So, then I go about my wandering and notice a child not doing anything. "May I see your treasure journal?" "No." "Ummmm....please may I see your treasure journal." "No, you wouldn't understand it." Probably not, kid. This wasn't the first kid that refused to let me see their written work. After a discussion with the teacher afterwards, I realized this was their number one tactic for getting out of doing anything. Perfect. The highlight was of course seeing handsome Ben who has no qualms about showing his enthusiasm for me being there. That's why I do it.

I can't wait until two weeks!