Saturday, September 30, 2006

Guanella Pass

Well, this trip was actually taken on the 22nd - Fall Equinox! We (read crazy Erika) did lots of research on what the nice areas were to view the foliage close to Denver. We came up with a list and quite a few mentioned Guanella Pass so we totally prepared ourselves with sack lunches and a lovely plan for a great trip. (Can you tell by my tone you are in for a good story here?)

We got directions online and planned to go west on 285, north on Guanella Pass, and the east on I-70. The route looks like this: [ . Get it? Just picture the vertical bar shorter and the horizontal bars longer. The pass itself is basically the vertical portion of the bracket. It is about 22 miles long and we were told to plan on a couple of hours. So we had the destination and date (an off-Friday) in place and then the forecast starts pooping on us. Snow, snow, snow. I-70 actually closed on Thursday (the day before our adventure). But all these people had just gone the weekend before and RAVED about it. So, off we went.

Hmmm, so it was definitely snowing.
The roads were slick and the visibility sucked. I had visions of all of my foliage pictures ruined by low clouds and snow. Then we turned onto the highway that makes up the pass -
Ah! Why did no one mention this? This is a KEY point! Total washboard. Very narrow. Very snowy/muddy. Yikes.

Still we persevered.
We got higher and higher. Less mud, more compacted snow.
We had to drive around a little sportscar that was reversing down the road. (Still not sure why he was going backwards). We finally reached the top of the pass, where things started sloping downward. We were excited. We topped the crest and began down the other side. And this is what we saw.

My, oh, my. That can't be a road.
That's like a sledding hill. So wussy Erika turned around. Actually I was less than confident after the snowy trip up so I handed the steering wheel to Rick. And he got stuck. And another car slid out of control (the mom jumped out of the car and evactuated her kids - yelling at them to jump out and run up the hill) trying to stop and help us. After many pointless minutes with Rick and other husband pushing we tried the good old standby that Rick had been less than eager to try - the floor mats. And like every other time, it worked like a charm. :~P Well, if you count a long time stuck in the snow and my kids freezing on the side of the road "a charm". We shoulda done it first. Anyway, so much for that trip. Later that night on the news we saw stories about all the people who had gone up to see the fall colors and had a miserable time - lots of snow and clouds and generally yucky conditions. So I guess we weren't the only ones!

More birthday pics...

Here we have the cake
And the girls in the hammock.
And our pin the middle on the flower game.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

OK, here's something to whet the appetite...

Here are the pics from my camera...

This is one of the crafts we made - the leis with paper flowers and straws. The kiddos got REAL bored with this one. They had to string 24 straws and 25 flowers and it was tough to get the string through the flowers so we had to finish a few of them for the girls and send them outside to play before there was a mutiny!

This is us in front of one of the tiki torches we had outside lining the driveway and the front walk. You can see Ashlyn wearing the ribbon skirt that Aimee gave her for her birthday. Man she is in LOVE with it!

This is the "altered composition notebook" that we made. The flowers rectangle and the little red rectangle down the bottom were glued on before they arrived and they picked where to glue on the rectangles with their name on it and also where to glue the flowers. That way they did enough that they felt like they "made" it, but with very little mess or trouble for me! On the left are the "thank you" cards I made with the left over paper scraps I had from the notebooks. Notice the one in the middle - touching the left of the book. I used my last of the flower print to make it and I didn't have enough red paper left over to decorate the card with any more flowers, so I took the corners and edges of the scraps I had already used and cut out pieces of flowers and tried to make it look good. Similar story with the stripe of red on the bottom left card - I didn't want to cut up an extra piece of paper! :~) I know, it's all of .25, but that's me!

And here we have a quick pic of Nathan wearing his lei! These were cheapo ones from the dollar store that I bought for Ashlyn to give to her guests as they arrived. She put them around their necks and said "Aloha!" For the first few she tried giving them a kiss on each cheek - or at least those were her instructions. Basically she just made 2 kissing noises in their direction. And for her first guest she actually just ran out and said "Here, this is yours."


Hello all! Well, today was the big party! And it all went very well, I'm happy to say. :~) (I learned that from Lori - looks much nicer on the typed page don't-cha think?) I'll put pics up later, as soon as I get them. A friend of ours saved my bacon today by helping me out with my first "drop of your rascals and leave me to fend for myself" party - part of her service was taking pictures for me on her WAAAYYY better-than-mine camera. Mine's fine for Ebay stuff but for family pictures we really need something better! (So if your rich great uncle dies and you have no use for the cash yourself - we'd love a camera for Christmas!) So anyway... the pictures will be coming! If you're good I'll even get some developed and send you some! :~) Ashlyn literally spent every possible moment playing with her new gifts. Her friends were so generous! She got a My Little Pony unicorn w/DVD; a 12 Dancing Princess doll (Her name is Jasmine - not the Aladdin one. And by the way, it literally took an engineer to figure this one out - I suppose I shouldn't have been so quick to throw away the package.); Dora, Tico, and Boots figures with accessories; a backpack that looks like a jean jacket (with flashy pink jeweled accents) completely filled with lip gloss, makeup, and other assorted girly things; and 3 dress up skirts - handmade by the mommy! A sheer ribbon skirt with attached shiny stars, an apron with individual pocket all around the hem to hold crayons, and a pink Barbie one. Now my girl has dress up clothes! I've been thinking about trying to sew her some skirts but I've never gotten farther than the thinking part. What a fun day! We then went to a ward activity and had dinner, now we're doing the bedtime routine and off to bed!

Mystery Crop revealed!


Thanks to all 2 of you who guessed - 1/2 of you were correct! :)

Thursday, September 14, 2006


I thought I'd share a great recipe - I had a turkey one in mind since turkey is on sale this week at Alberston's for a buck a pound, but maybe I'll do that one later. In the meantime, here is one I got online for Chicken Cannelloni. It is supposed to taste like the dish from Macaroni Grill. I ended up making it as a lasagna since I didn't have the pasta they called for. We had friends over that night and a week or so later they actually ate the same thing at the MG and said that mine tasted better!

  • 8 oz. chicken breast (about 2), cooked
  • 1 oz. fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 oz. sundried tomatoes
  • 16 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 3 oz. mozarella, shredded
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 12 lasagna noodles 5 x 6" sheets


  • 16 oz Asiago sauce
  • 16 oz tomato based pasta sauce
  • 3 oz parmesan, grated

Once the chicken is cooked, cool to 45 degrees. Dice into 1/2" pieces and place in a large bowl. Add filling stuff and mix.

Arrange pasta sheets on cutting board and place 2 or 3 rounded Tbs of filling down center and roll up. Place into baking dish. Mix sauces and pour over top. Sprinkle with cheese.

Cover and bake at 350 for 20 min.
Remove foil, cook 20 more min. or until temp reaches 165 degrees.
Garnish with tomatoe and basil.

Serves 6.

I have to say I ended up with a lot of changes b/c I had nothing I needed. I already mentioned that I had to make it a lasagna, since I didn't have the sheets or actual canneloni. I also used a whole pkg of frozen spinach since I didn't have fresh. I used cottage cheese I needed to get rid of instead of ricotta, I used a jar of alfredo and I had no red sauce so I subbed 2 cans of tomato sauce and a jar of diced tomatoes and added Italian seasoning. :) But it tasted great!

So... guess who's 30! and other excitements

Yeah, you all already know. :) Not much is different - still no gray hairs and wrinkles. Still have 2 kids and a hubby and a cute 1/2-way done house. :) I appreciated the phone calls/cards/gifts/promises of gifts. (That's for you mom!) Even Coverwear sent me a present! I was shocked! They did cute cute Christmas gifts too - they must have an uber-crafty soul that works there! We are going out to a fondue restaurant tomorrow for my b-day. Things were busy last week so everything was postponed for Ashlyn and myself until this weekend. I've heard that the food is very yummy and incredibly expensive, but we've got entertainment $$ in the budget - it'll just all be going toward one thing this month! :) Actually it's pretty much the same next month - the circus is coming to town and we have 3 tickets! Woo-hoo! Hopefully the kids won't be scared!

New things about the kids...

Nathan seems to be learning new words every single day - kiss, circle, thank you (used when he's saying thank you or when he thinks you should be thanking him), moon, play, haka (cuz Uncle Dan came home from New Zealand and danced one for him), hurt, pooh-pooh (usually right before he make one), fish, look, help me (used when he'd like help or when he's just helped you), yes, Ashlyn, bless you (used when you or he sneezes or coughs), milk, etc. - just about anything you say he'll attempt to copy.

And with regards to the "pooh pooh" - he totally knows when he has to go, he doesn't just tell you after he's messed his pants. But when you ask if he'd like to go on the toilet - no thanks. This kid is not interested.

Ashlyn is well into preschool now and is doing a lot of review - they're doing the cowboy unit now and working on recognizing a handful of letters each month. They're doing a little mini-program on the last 10 minutes of class to sing their cowboy songs at the end of the month so if you're in the neighborhood and want to come just let me know! I'm thinking they're learning to write too as Ashlyn has come home chanting "down, dot, letter 'i' " (repeat this a number of times in your head as this always stated with multiple repititions).

Within the next few days we should be receiving our "high altitude conversion kit" for our new furnace so that will be in soon and then we can frame. This is what Rick said (he knows better than I do) in a recent email to a friend.
I am finishing my basement very slowly. I will be finishing putting in a new furnace this month before the cold really decides to sink its teeth in. After that, I can finish framing and move on to wiring, then to fire breaks and insulation, then to the dry wall mess, and finally the finish work. I have re-routed water and sewage lines and a large portion has been framed with one circuit put in and another mostly put in
and moved gas lines and put in a new water heater in a new location.

Sounds good, eh?

I think I should be more ready than I am for Saturday - I'm not sure what to do so today I just tidied up in preparation for a bunch of people seeing my house. I thought I would share some of what we're doing so if you have to miss her party (and since no family is coming that would be all of you!) you can still feel like you were part of the fun!

You know it's a luau theme. We have some tiki torches that we are lining the walk up to the front door with (I know that sentence is gramatically terrible - that "with" is split from the rest of its clause but I don't know where it goes!). We'll tie some balloons to them I think. The cake is a dolly varden style, but the cake will be green (and hopefully I'll find a way to add some texture - maybe run a fork down it) to be like a grass skirt. I still need to go to the dollar store and find a barbie for it. As far as activities - they'll be pinning the monkey on the tree (still have to make that too). Then they're strining leis with flowers punched from my paper scraps and inch long sections of straw (need to punch flowers and cut straws and get string). Then they are glueing decorations to composition notebooks to make personalized sticker books or coloring/doodling books or whatever they want to use it for. If you search for "altered composition notebook" you'll see what we're doing. Basically putting cute paper and "stuff" over the top of the notebook to make it cute. Then it's roast pig (hot dogs), cake, tropical fruit and opening presents. Hopefully that will take up 2 hours. If not, I'm sure they'll love playing on the swings and things in the yard. Or maybe I'll have them limbo. Who knows! :) Should be fun.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Here's the REAL party!

And yes, of course - you're all invited!

The real invitation is on white cardstock, then then a punched out flower is attached with an eyelet. And a strip of the Hawaiian print paper is glued to the side. Forgive all the covered up parts - you can't be too careful! :) You all know the missing pieces anyway!

And boo-hoo the wussy ward canceled the campout due to not yummy weather expected tomorrow. It's camping people! Rain and cold are half the fun! Who hasn't camped with tarps and little rivulets of water running past their noses whilst they sleep and icicles forming on their eyelashes? :) That's OK, Ashlyn and Rick will camp at Olivia's (in the backyard) and still get all the fun of s'mores and campfires and dutch oven cooking. At least that's the plan!
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Birthday cont.

Ok, here is the last post - scoot down to the first post about her birthday to get the story in order!

Here is a cutie patootie one of Ashlyn - she loves stuffed animals!

And here we have Nathan modeling Ashlyn's bike after we tricked it out.

A close up of the license plate and the little balls that slide around on her spokes.

And now for the rest of our story. I'll keep this short cuz my hands are tired of typing and fighting with Blogger. We went to the park to try out her bike. It was terrible she cried and screamed about being too scared nearly the whole time. People were staring and either giving us commisserating looks or "you're a bad parent" looks all the way around the lake trail. Here is a picture of Ashlyn as we neared the end. It was dark and the lighting isn't that great, but oh well. I'm not sure why she is smiling - I swear to you she was screaming both before and after we took the picture. I know I keep telling you my kids love to cry (like Nathan's photo shoot) but the pictures don't seem to back up my story. I just delete all the yucky ones. I'll have to take a picture of a good tantrum so you all will believe me!

More presents!

Ok, Blogger doesn't like me posting so many pics so here we go...

1. Grandpa's card (college $ included!) had lots of sparkles - yay!

2. Aunt Holly's addition to our Little People collection "oooo, a castle"

And Nathan has been trying to steal this "wagon" AAAAAAALL day. We've had kickings and fightings galore - I'm gonna get you Aunt Holly!

3. And from Grandma - the softest horse ever and a B of M cassette tape (little kids' stories and songs)
4. And from Oma, lots and lots of school workbooks - practice with letters, numbers, shapes colors and much more! She's in love with them (and again Nathan too - we already have some nicely graffitied pages after Nathan took his hand to them).

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Birthday cont.

Here we are opening Grandma's present. I love it because you can see how Nathan was - all in the action!

And here is Ashlyn snuggling the oh-so-soft pony! (Oma's present is on the way)

And this one is an awesome one of Nathan! Cheese ball! (and Ashlyn is working on Aunt Holly's present.

Ashlyn's Birthday!

Alrighty - I know you've all been waiting for this one! Here are the pics of Ashlyn's little "just our family" party. She went to preschool the morning of her birthday and then came home and had some PB&J with the fam. Then she had a special treat - a movie (her very first motion picture in the theater I might add) with Daddy at the cheap-o theater. They saw "Cars." Cool huh?

Then she got to pick a cake flavor from downstairs. She took a look at all the boxed mixes and decided on Blueberry Muffins. :) They were right next to the cake mixes. Hey - it's her birthday! So muffins it is! She watched a video while mama went to go to the DMV (that's a whole other story - if I have the energy I'll try and post about that a little later). Then we picked up her birthday dinner - pizza. Pizza with pepperoni and black olives. (Apparently it was supposed to be pepperoni and mushrooms, but I guess Daddy misunderstood when he called it in.)

So we had pizza for dinner and muffins (with candles) for dessert. Yummy.

Then we got the best part - the presents!

We are having her party for friends on the 16th so that we can do it on a Saturday around lunch time. (This weekend is the Daddy/Daughter campout - leaving on my 30th birthday I might add! Totally rude! :) ) So Ashlyn got to open all her presents from family on her ACTUAL birthday.

Ok, so I know you are all dying to know all about when she opened YOUR specific present so I will do my best to remember all the appropriate comments! She loved everything so rest assured!

Ok, she chose to open the present from all of us immediate family members first. Cuz our wrapping paper was cooler than yours! :P Just kidding! (Remember you can click on all the pictures in the blog for a full-size version).
Nathan got her a Winnie the Pooh workbook (you know, working on numbers and letters, Pre-K stuff).
Mom and Dad got her bike accessories! Streamers, a basket, beads and covers for her spokes and a license plate (that's down the bottom below the basket).

And here we have Nathan! I had to put this in here because he was not having anything to with Ashlyn being in the spotlight for a day. He was hovering around, trying to play with everything, trying to get in every single picture and saying "Cheese" whenever he saw that I might be about to take a picture. So funny!

Now Blogger is throwing fits - so I'm going to break this into multiple posts so I don't have too many pics in one entry!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mission Impossible: Rice Krispies Treats

I think I've failed the test of being a true blue American - I cannot make Rice Krispies treats. (This is similar to my failing of the test to be a true Mormon - I can't play volleyball worth a darn.)

Ashlyn's 4th birthday is coming up and she's bringing treats to preschool tomorrow for a little celebration. I decided to make Rice Krispie treats. Bad idea.

How does anyone make these things? It seems an impossible task to me, but I look around me and see that all of these people with no particular talent can make them. Surely I can! This is similar to the logic I used when pregnant and having some misgivings about going through labor. I would just look around at church and see all of these moms and give myself a little peptalk. "They've all done it," I'd say to myself. "Women have dropped babies in the fields for thousands of years." "You're at least as capable as they are. You can do it." Oh no I can't! Not when it comes to these sticky treats.

First, it is impossible to stir the marshmallows and butter - truly impossible. I tried. My spoon got all stickied up. So I used another spoon to push off the goo back into the bowl. Now I just have 2 spoons stuck in the mire. Oh man. Seriously - how do you do it?

I also didn't happen to have any Rice Krispies (poor planning on my part) but I had intended on making them with Fruity Pebbles, in fact I bought these on sale because I was told they made awesome Rice Krispie treats. Then I thought I remembered someone saying that they were too sweet and to mix them in with regular Rice Kripies. But I had already started and didn't feel like going all the way to the store while my marshmallow goo cooled down and became even more impossible.

So - (racking brain) didn't I hear you could make these with just about any cereal? Corn flakes? Cheerios? Downstairs we go to the cereal stockpile (we're at about 50 boxes now) to grab some Cheerios. Back upstairs with said Cheerios. Dump into marshmallow mixture. Stirring is a joke. The directions said to use a buttered spatula. Sure it doesn't stick to the stuff, but it doesn't stir it either. It just bends upon contact. Lame. So buttered hands it is. (By this time I'm frustrated almost to tears and Rick is doing the squishing - you know how I get when all my hopes and expectations are crushed).

You are supposed to put it into a jelly rolly/cookie sheet. Our glob barely covers half. I can't see how this is going to work at all. So we get another pan dirty - a 9x13. Rick tries to convince me to do a 9x9 but this has to feed like 15 people! So now I'm writing this and our creation awaits the kiddos tomorrow morning. This should be fun. I should've bought doughnuts.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Silver and Gold...

Or just silver! :) I wanted to invite you to take a look at the new item on the sidebar. It's a link to a site that allows you to buy silver jewlery for $5.99. (They say it's for free, but $5.99 is the shipping and handling). I bought a few pieces last year and they are totally legit, and very pretty! Just make sure you read the description so you know how big stuff is (the pictures are big so you can see detail, but the item may just be 1.3" or something) and also know that the pendants are just that - no chain.

There are gals that keep this site up all day at work (they rotate the pieces that are available every few minutes so it's always different stuff) so they can never miss a deal. I admit, I used to keep a window up occasionally too - they really have such cute stuff!

The site has become somewhat of a craze online. There are actually websites that list what items will be next, or at what time a certain piece of jewlery will come up, etc. Like people actually have time to watch it and record what stuff is up? And then figure out the schedule? Good for them! :)

Anyway, I put up a link so I can get credit in case I see anything I like - I have a feeling it won't be much, (like pennies) but it's cool that the item you see is current you know one of the four things currently up. I have to say out of the things I have ordered I love my toe ring the best - it's awesome!

Boxtops Sale at Albertsons!

This is an easy one for people who are new to this because you can find so many printables! The sale prices are effective 9/6 - 9/12.

All products 10/$10 when you buy in groups of 10. (10/$15 - $5 instant savings). For every 10 you buy, you will get a catalina for 20 bonus box tops for your school.
  • General Mills Cereal
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch 14 oz.
  • Cocoa Puffs 13.75 oz.
  • Cookie Crisp 12.25 oz
  • French Toast Crunch 13.6 oz.
  • Golden Grahams 13 oz.
  • Honey Nut Cheerios 14 oz.
  • Multi Grain Cheerios 16 oz.
  • Trix 12 oz.
  • Pillsbury Sweet Rolls 12.4 - 13.9 oz, Select Varieties
  • Nature Valley Fruit, Grain or Trail Mix Bars, General Mills Cereal Bars, or Caribou Coffee Granola Bars 2.5 - 17.8 oz., Select Varieties
  • Pillsbury Toaster Strudels or Scrambles 10-18.8 oz., Select Varieties
  • 8th Continent Soy Milk or Refreshers 48-64 oz. Select Varieties
  • Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 3-pack, 9-10.5 oz., Select Varieties
  • Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks 4.5 - 9 oz., Select Varieties
  • Progresso Traditional Soup, 18.5 - 19 oz., Select Varieties
  • Hamburger Helper Microwaveable Singles 6.3 - 7.4 oz., Select Varieties
  • Progresso Reduced Sodium Soup 16.74 - 19 oz., Select Varieties
  • Yoplait Trix, Go-Gurts (way good frozen) or Multi pack Yogurt 8-pack, 2.25 oz., Go-Gurts or 6-pack, 4 oz. Multi Pack, Select Varieties
  • Pillsbury Pie Crusts, 15 oz.
  • Betty Crocker Muffin Mix, 15.2 - 19.6 oz., Select Varieties
  • Betty Crocker Cookie Pouches 17.5 oz., Select Varieties
  • Betty Crocker Warm Delights Dessert Mixes 2.9 - 3.6 oz., Select Varieties
  • Betty Crocker Supreme Brownies 19.8 - 26.7 oz., Select Varieties
  • Pillsbury Ready to Bake Cookies 13 - 18 oz., Select Varieties
  • Pillsbury Chub Cookies 16.5 oz
  • Pillsbury Crescent Rolls 8 - 10.1 oz., Select Varieties (remember you can freeze these - they taste fine! And they are so nice for pigs-in-a-blanket, chicken pillows etc.)
  • Bisquick Shake n Pour 10.6 oz.

It will be a great sale so remember to print out those coupons (you can find a nice list of sites here) and search through the inserts!

Free Chocolate from Nestle

You sign up (you can choose not to get emails) and then sign in once they send you a password. The idea is that you tell all your friends about it and everyone who signs up in September gets a coupon for their new baking chocolates. Looks yummy!
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