Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We wish you all a Merry Christmas!!! Here are some pictures of our snowy Christmas...

from Jeremy pushing the snow out of our driveway a couple days ago...

to our friends giving us some gifts, including this homemade blanket...

an attempt at growing my first Chia - a Chia Tree (not very impressed yet)...

to our little Christmas tree with presents (basically anything we bought in December we just wrapped and put under the tree) :) But we did do some actual presents, and received some from family. Thank you! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Trunk or Treat'n in Chicago

I am finally getting around to posting pictures of our costumes from our ward's Trunk or Treat 2008. It was last Saturday after a marathon of sewing to get 4 costumes made (though out of fairness, Kelly did all of her "Alice in Wonderland" costume - she just asked for advice and direction a few times). I wasn't quite sure how the two wizzard costumes would turn out, since I gave them to the girls' mom to put in the zipper, hem them, and let the girls do the embellishments. But I was so happy to see them wearing their costumes that turned out so cute! I'm also posting a picture of what was in our trunk with the candy. Next year we will have bigger and better plans for our trunk display, but this worked.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Eeek! A Mouse!

This morning was pretty exciting in our household. It started last night after the debate. I had been grading homework and was sorting the pile by last-name for ease in returning to students. From the corner of my eye, I saw something move by Hayleigh's doll house. It was a mouse!

I called Jake downstairs to help me corner it. Jake was pretty excited to be participating, but didn't really know what I wanted him to do. He sat by the couch looking attentive, but had no clue where the mouse was. So I proceeded to build up some barricades out of boxes to contain the mouse where I might be able to catch it. Unfortunately, the mouse was crouching, whiskers a-quivering, under the couch. I might be able to contain it, but had no chance of capturing it.

So I used a little wooden box that holds board puzzles as part of the wall and decided to try to spook the mouse into using that "shelter" for protection, at which time I would have trapped the mouse inside. (Gleeful chuckle :-) Then, I went to get a broom. I used the handle to direct the mouse toward the corner with the box. But the couch legs got in the way, and I couldn't get it all the way.

As I moved, the mouse darted out from under the couch and back into the kitchen. Now we had Jake's full attention! Off went the mouse. Off went Jake. They both hit the wood floor of the kitchen.

Did you know that a mouse has trouble on wood floors? Did you know a dog has trouble on wood floors? I wish I had a video 'cause it looked like Tom and Jerry with their legs sliding on the floor.

The mouse darted under the door of the pantry. The bottom of our pantry has some big buckets as well as bags of wheat and lots of plastic bags waiting for their turn to be either garbage can liners or recycled. I had a sneaking suspicion that this was HQ for the mouse.

I moved my barricade (or at least one box) from the living room into the kitchen right in front of the door. I didn't want the mouse to make a run while I was removing the hiding places in the closet. One bag at a time and one bucket at a time, I started to clean out the closet. I learned that mice really like macaroni and cheese. Mostly the cheese packets, but plenty of noodles sitting on the floor. Jake liked me cleaning that up -- crunch, crunch. One bag of wheat also had to be disposed of later. When I was down to two buckets, the mouse started scurring about on the wooden floor, but couldn't get past the box.

Until it did.

It jumped on top of the box and landed between my sock-laden feet. I tried to hold my feet together and manage to move my not-quite-as-useful-as-I-thought bottle to catch the mouse, but it hopped over my ankles, through my legs, and into the kitchen. Jake followed in earnest, and I was behind Jake. The mouse hid under the dishwasher.

So I proceeded to use a flashlight to see if I could see it. There was also hole where the drain pipe goes from the dishwasher to under the kitchen sink, so I tried to look under the sink. No mouse in evidence. I moved my barricade into the kitchen. No more escaping! But plenty of places to hide. I knew it could make it under the stove, under the kitchen cupboard, and under the dishwasher. I tried to shove towels and rugs into the holes that I could find. Then I began to disassemble the base of the dishwasher to get a look where we saw the mouse hide.

Four screws later, I had the bottom removed and started to look. The beam of the flashlight scanned back and forth, back and forth. Plenty of bunnies, but no mouse (aw-chew!). Jake found something interesting to lick and probably would have climbed under to explore if he would have fit. But no mouse. We closed up the dishwasher once again, left the barricade in place, and went to bed. Heather was asleep and would have to wait until morning for the exciting news. (Besides, who could sleep knowing a mouse was roaming the kitchen.)

In the morning, Michael came in at 6:30 to look for socks or something. Now that she was awake, I informed Heather of my adventure to explain why the rooms looked different. (Barricades in the kitchen are not really status quo, nor is an emptied pantry on the kitchen table.) Heather went down to help Michael finish getting ready for school. Five minutes later, Michael returned to tell me that Heather was hearing "scritch, scritch, scritch" sounds under the cupboard.

So I went downstairs and opened the cupboard under the sink where the sound was louder. Yessirree, that mouse had stuck the night out under the kitchen sink. We soon realized it had gone into the box of our very old bread mixer. I put duct tape over the hole (no more escaping little Ralph!) pulled the box out and set it down inside of a large Rubbermaid container (about the size of a big cooler). But the container was too small to open the lid of the box and still keep the mouse guaranteed to stay inside the big container.

I grabbed my pocketknife and cut away one of the sides of the box. Silence. I started to remove parts one at a time. Silence. After a few items, the mouse scurried about. I had it! I turned the box upside down and shook that mouse down into the Rubbermaid container. The problem was contained! It tried to jump but could only reach halfway up.

The easiest, most sanitary disposal method was upstairs --- a snake. But Michael had to go to school, so I put the lid on the bucket and the mouse would be on death row until the afternoon. Just at that moment, Nathaniel, Hayleigh and Zachary announced their awakening and entered the room. Since everyone was awake, we called Michael back from the bus stop and decided to shorten the mouse's wait.

I caught the mouse from the box with a glass jar and we headed upstairs. Moving the snake's terrarium to the middle of the room so everyone had a good view, we dropped the mouse and started to watch. At first the snake seemed asleep. Until the mouse started running around and jumping. Then the snake started looking around and smelling. It made a few bad lunges, grabbing onto itself while the mouse was already at the other side.

The mouse started to bury itself in the woodchips, and we thought it would stay hidden from the snake. So I took Michael off to school. But evidently, the mouse had made a fatal mistake. The snake scooted over the top of where the mouse was hiding and proceeded to constrict on top of the mouse. The mouse was at the least unconscious when the snake turned and gobbled it up.

Everyone was pretty excited. Jake wanted his chance at getting the mouse and could barely keep away from the glass. I'm sure the kids will have had a fun day telling this story at school!

Sorry. No pictures -- who thinks about pictures at a time like this?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom/Grandma!!!

Happy 60th Birthday! We all wanted to make something special and give you a big hand for all that you've done for us.

The attached photo will have to serve as a miniature version of what is in the mail and should arrive shortly.

We love you. Three cheers for Mom/Grandma!

Heather, Brian, Michael, Nathaniel, Hayleigh, Zachary
Stephanie, Dallan, Amelia, Lucy,
Kim, Jeremy,
Chris, Regina, and Gregory

(This was copied from Heather's email.)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Cake Flour Substitute

So I just remembered that I didn't use cake flour. I had looked up a substitute and after doing the measurements that it said (subtract 2 Tbsp flour from each cup of flour and replace with corn starch), I used 2 cups flour and 1/4 cup corn starch for the chocolate cake.

Also, the first time I made the cake I used an angel food cake pan. It worked just fine, it just didn't have the decorative top that a bundt pan has. The second time I made the cake I bought a bundt pan and thought I greased it well, but I did have to scrape off the top of the cake from the pan and "mold" it back in place on top of the cake. Next time I'll either grease it better or try not flouring the greased pan. If you do flour the pan, adding the cocoa really does color the flour so the cake stays chocolately brown.

Enjoy! We're going to make it this weekend...

Really GOOD Chocolate Cake!!!

Here's a recipe for a really easy chocolate cake, we love it! :)

Featherlight Chocolate Cake

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), plus more for the pan
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour, plus more for the pan
1/2 cup good-quality cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups ice water

Serving suggestion: Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve with milk

Arrange a rack in the upper 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour a bundt pan or tube pan. (You can use a mixture of cocoa powder and flour instead of flour, to prevent white spots on the cake.)

In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or using a hand mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the sugar. One at a time, mix in the eggs, then the vanilla, occasionally scraping down the mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, in another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture; then 1/3 of the ice water. Repeat, mixing after each addition.

Transfer the batter to the pan and bake until springy and dry, about 40 to 45 minutes.

Let cool in the pan on a rack, then carefully turn the cake out. Just before serving, sift confectioners' sugar over the top. Serve with very cold milk!

(courtesy of Food Network,,FOOD_9936_23846,00.html)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Midwest Earthquake

In case you heard the news and were wondering, yes there was an earthquake here in Illinois yesterday! Crazy, huh? I had no idea there was a fault line in our state. But sure enough, it shifted and Jeremy actually felt it! He was up doing work stuff early in the morning and felt the shaking. One of my coworkers said she thought someone was shaking her bed (she lives alone) and she was afraid to open her eyes! I slept right through it, so I still have to say I have never felt an earthquake. But no worries, we are safe and sound.