Tuesday, 29 June 2010

With a few handshakes and smiles, we end our school year.

Carmen's team finished fourth in their league.  They played the finals short handed - Carmen played every minute of that last game.  She showed a lot of heart and really fought to the end.

Steven was recognized for honour roll and citizenship.  I enjoyed a couple of moments to review what a successful year he has had.

Jaclyn enjoyed a few handshakes for Chem 20 AP, Social Studies 30, and Grade 11 Outstanding Female.

Chloe was all smiles winning her final game.  Her league is non-competitive (medals for everyone!) but it was nice to end on a win. (Isn't it always?)

We were all smiling tonight when we went out for dinner to celebrate good report cards.
The waiter taking our picture instructed: "Say Sushi!"

Thursday, 24 June 2010


Carmen played her soccer semi-finals tonight.  There were two highlights to the game: Carmen when she stole the ball from Adam Walker and he hit the dirt (even his mom cheered for that), and then the phone call I got from Chloe towards the end of the game:

Chloe: Mom???

Me:  Hi hon, what's up?

Chloe:  I think I'm home alone!!!!  I called and called Steven and he's not answering.

Me:  Well maybe he went out, but Jaclyn's home.  Go look for her - she's probably in her room. Then call me back.

(We hang up. Chloe calls again.)

Chloe:  She's not there!!!

Me:  Okay, you're fine.  You can watch a little TV and I'll call Jaclyn on her cell phone and tell her to get home.

Chloe:  Okay. (but she's shaky)

(My call to Jaclyn:)

Me:  Where are you?

Jaclyn:  I'm on a date with Ryan.

Me:  I didn't know you had a date.

Jaclyn:  Well, it was a last minute date.

Me:  Chloe's home alone.  Who left the house first, you or Steven?

Jaclyn:  Steven was still home when I left.

Me:  Alright.

(Can't bring myself to tell her to go home even though Steven doesn't have a cell phone for me to reach him on.)

(Steven calls me from home immediately after I finish with Jaclyn.)

Steven:  Hi-mom-sorry.  I forgot about Chloe and went to Mark's house to fix my bike.

Me:  Uh-huh, well it worked out. Chloe was really fine.

Steven:  So Gage and Mitchell want me to go out on our scooters.

Me:  You can't leave her again!!!

Steven:  If it's okay with Chloe can I just go to where I'm supposed to meet them to tell them I can't go?

Me:  No, this is sort of a big deal.

Steven: Can I just tell them I can't come?

Me:  I guess, if it's okay with Chloe.

I know most large families have a story like this, but I've prided myself on the fact that I've never left a kid behind at a gas station or Blockbuster.  (Darn those big kids for ruining our family record.)

(P.S.  This is so much funnier than the story of irresponsibility my big kids pulled yesterday.  I can't share that one - they'd probably feel betrayed.)

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Off-label use

Don't try this at home.

(Though I did.)

(Just I'm not recommending this as a dental professional.)

The thing is, I've been unhappy with my natural finger nail colour.  I feel like they're yellow, particularly at the tips where I would like them to be white.  Possibly this is part of how 'keratinized' I am.  My doctor seems to think I eat too many carrots.

(As if there's such thing as too many carrots.)


I don't even eat carrots every day, and when I do they are part of a complete meal, and don't at all dominate my diet.  So I don't know why I'm so orange.  Whatever.

Anyhow, it turns out that when your kids are old enough to do the dishes and you are left to do nothing but wander your own bedroom and en-suite you get into mischief.

I applied some tooth whitening solution under the tips of my nails.  I let it sit for no more than 5 minutes, and my nail tips are bright white.  (Not french manicure white, but noticeably white.)

It's been half an hour and my nails haven't fallen off yet.

(Keeping my fingers crossed.)

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Secret Ingredient Potluck

The RS Counsellor over weekday meetings had a great idea for refreshments.  She's a nurse, and at the hospital she works at the nurses in her unit occasionally have a *Secret Ingredient Potluck* where everyone brings a favourite recipe that includes the designated "secret" ingredient.  

We're totally adopting that idea for our refreshments at RS meetings.  

This month our not-so-secret ingredient was popcorn. It was fun to try out some different popcorn treats, but I still like carmel popcorn the best.  For my contribution I ground popcorn kernels in my wheat grinder to make cornmeal for this cookie recipe:

Harvest Moon Cookies
1 1/4 c sugar
1/2 c butter
cream together, then:
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
dry ingredients:
1 1/2 c flour
3/4 c cornmeal (ground popcorn kernels)
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
roll dough into 2” balls, toss balls ziploc with:
1/4 c sugar
1 T cinnamon
place on cookie sheet and flatten with a drinking glass to 1/4” thick
bake 10-12 minutes at 350

Well, she's not 9 yet.

But we celebrated it on Friday anyway.  (Better to do the party now before school lets out .)

Jaclyn decorated the top of the cake with the molecular structure of Theobromine (principle alkaloid of chocolate).  Chloe always chooses a chocolate cake with chocolate icing - her nick name *Coco* is both for her initials and her favourite food.

'DNA Dylan' showed up 5 minutes late for his Mad Science job at our party, which had me a little nervous, but he made up for it by being awesome and very generous with his time once he got here.  He did some cool experiments for the kids and was especially good at being *mad*.

Chloe wore my old lab jacket, and for her friends we made lab jackets a-la Family Fun with plain white mens' t-shirts.  (I don't know why I love dress-up so much at birthday parties.)

After the science stuff was through Chloe wanted to roast hot dogs and marshmallows on the fire pit - I probably could have tied that in to the science thing with carbon and oxygen, but I didn't.

The party guests sang something new at the end of "Happy Birthday" that I haven't heard before - I can't even tell you what it was, all I know is *and many more on channel four* is so last year.  (Three candles left burning still meant three boyfriends - some things haven't changed.)

(Chloe opening her last gift with her teeth.)  

When one mom arrived at the end of the party and looked around at the opened gifts, she told me it looked like we'd had a baby shower.  Darn it, that's what we should have done.  Chloe is very in to playing mommy to her baby dolls these days, and the gifts reflected that.  She got a stroller, preemie diapers, doll clothes . . . a baby shower theme party would have been perfect!

(Although I don't know how well-entertained 9-year-old-girls would be sitting around talking about labour and delivery.)

Monday, 14 June 2010

This week I'm getting ready for Chloe's birthday party coming up on Friday.  She wants a science party since her idol (Jaclyn) adores chemistry.  

(BTW: Jaclyn placed 49th in the country on the Waterloo Chemistry Exam this year written by thousands of students nation wide with the top 200 names being published.)

I've hired Mad Science to come entertain at the party, and Chloe and I have assembled invitations, decorations, and treat bags all with design elements from the periodic table purchased here.  

 (After I purchased the birthday PDF files from etsy, Jaclyn went and made a periodic table of the elements thank-you card for her chemistry teacher all by herself.)

A few weeks ago I tried to get satellite radio installed in Ken's truck while he was in the middle east.  Due to an ordering error by the shop the new technology didn't go in until after Ken came home, but before he made that long drive to Moab and home again, which was really the point.  It was his early Father's Day present and now I have to figure out what to do for actual Father's Day.

Back on May 28th our junior high had their mainstage production.  Once again Steven worked as a tech (the BEST according to the director).  The production this year was a compilation of legends from Africa.  I loved what Miss Shaw wrote in the program:

So often the stories we hear from Africa are heartbreaking, overwhelming accounts of war, famine and disease . . . but Africa is so much more than this.  The people of Africa are filled with strength, beauty, courage and wisdom.  Tonight we are celebrating the stories that remind us that no matter where on the planet we were born, we share so many common experiences and dreams.

Miss Shaw spent last summer in Africa providing inservice for local teachers there, which inspired the school play this year.  In addition to performing the legends of Africa, all proceeds from ticket sales and a silent auction at intermission went to a charity effort initiated by student leadership.  They are trying to raise enough money to build a school in Africa, how great is that?  Never mind bleachers for the gym, they want $30, 000 to help kids on the other side of the world.

Last week student leadership sponsored a fun run/walk-a-thon for the *Building Hope Campaign* as they're calling it.  In the assembly before the walk-a-thon the students were recognized for another charitable effort they've been involved in saving pull-tabs for the Ronald MacDonald House of Southern Alberta.  Our school placed 3rd in the inter-school contest to see who could save the most tabs.  Steven and Carmen both came to the front to accept the certificate and ribbon.  Steven initiated the program in our school two years ago, but Carmen helped this year and is carrying it on next year.  All the students in the school were awarded certificates for MacDonald's Restaurant yogurt parfaits and the school itself was awarded some science materials kits.

As for me, I've been busy with Relief Society weekday meetings.  Carmen came looking for me the other day and asked what I was doing.  "Relief Society," I answered.  She told me I was always doing that, and I reminded her that before this I was always doing Young Womens.  We're trying to have a daytime meeting and an evening meeting every month.  Our daytime meeting this month was all about food - 3 month emergency supply menus & frozen treats for summer.  Our evening meeting this month is all about summer activities with leaders from children and youth auxiliaries speaking on what can be accomplished in Cubbing, Scouting, Personal Progress, Duty to God, and Faith in God during summer months.  Our other class is just for fun stay-cation ideas in and around the city.

At the last minute we added the Summer Bucket List sand pail idea I found here, only we're doing it in vinyl.  The response for this one has been staggering and I think we're going to be short supplies for how many women want to make and fill one of these buckets.  What I'm learning is that we RS Sisters really like a craft.
Now if only I can come up with a craft for the 'Using the Preach My Gospel manual in the Home' class I think we need to do.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Saturday, 5 June 2010

The other day Jaclyn was bemoaning the fact that in a week she will have completed all the french learning that Alberta Education has to offer her, and she still doesn't feel like she can really speak french.  Maybe YouTube would have provided a better education:

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Here's a little Chloe for Ya

Chloe is nothing if not persistent.  She just kept on reminding me that she wanted a chore she could do for money.  It took me a long time to apply myself to finding her a job, but I'm sure she wasn't worried.  She knew she'd have her way eventually.  And now she is policing the rest of the family to keep our garbages from getting so disgusting - that has turned out to be the best part.

Chloe helped me set the table on Sunday, and then insisted that everyone wait on the side of the kitchen to be *seen to their table*.   Someone pointed out that the chef doesn't see people to the table. Why do older siblings have to do that?

This is the level of intensity on the soccer field.

I don't really known why Chloe was given a penalty kick, and she couldn't remember later.  I do like Carmen's camera angle on this shot.  I relaxed (see me waaaay at the back of this shot) while Carmen ran around taking pictures wherever the action was.  Older siblings don't have to do that, but I'm glad they do.

Ken's Home from Saudi and Abu Dhabi

Or at least, he was.  And then he turned around and went right back out the door (with Steven this time) and left for a bike trip to Moab.  The little girls were a little unhappy about it - Carmen even asked: "Why do you have to go again??? Can't mom take Steven to Moab?"

While Ken was away he missed some weird & wonderful cooking.  Carmen took this picture of Kelly's Lemon Meringue Cake (wonderful).  She also managed to capture our Donvier ice cream maker which is out from making Avocado Ice Cream (weird), and the lemons I canned (weird or wonderful?) as a first step to a Moroccan Chicken recipe I want to try after the lemons pickle for a month.

Kelly's blog is private so I can't link you there, but here is the recipe copied from her blog:

Lemon Meringue Cake

This recipe originally came from Martha Stewart in the mid-90's, but you can't find this exact one on her website any more (what up, Martha?), so I'm just going to put it here in it's entirety.  I still have the print out from the 90's, and so I'm happy to have it in a more permanent form.  
Make the lemon curd first. 
Lemon Curd Filling
(Makes 1 1/2 cups)
4 large egg yolks
2 large whole eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (this is roughly 2 large lemons)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, cut into small pieces
Zest of 2 lemons (how handy!)
1.  In a small, heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, eggs, sugar, and lemon juice.  Place over low heat (medium, maybe depending on your stove), and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon.  (You will know -- all of the sudden it's just thick.)  Remove pan from heat, and stir to cool slightly.
2.  Strain curd through a sieve set over a small bowl.  (Do not skip this step, or you will have bits of cooked egg in your lemon curd.  Unseemly.)  Add butter, a piece at a time, stirring until smooth after each addition.  Stir in lemon zest, and let cool completely. 
Lemon Meringue Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter, room temperature, plus a bit more to butter the cake pans.
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus a bit more to dust your cake pans.
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Zest of 2 lemons
Lemon Curd Filling (recipe above)
Swiss Meringue (recipe below)
1.  Heat oven to 350•.  Butter two round 8-by-2 inch cake pans.  Line the bottoms with parchment paper.  Dust bottoms and sides of pans with flour, making sure to coat pans evenly.  Tap to remove any excess.  Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
2.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until light and fluffy.  Gradually add sugar, and beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes (don't skimp).  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until batter is no longer slick, about 5 minutes; scrape down sides.
3.  Reduce mixer speed to low.  Slowly add sifted flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk a little at a time, starting and ending with the flour mixture.  Beat in vanilla and lemon zest.
4.  Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans.  Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes.  Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes.  Remove cakes from pans, and return to wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.  (if you have the time, it wouldn't be a bad idea to put them in the freezer before the next step -- it will make cutting them easier!)
5.  To assemble, turn cakes upside-down onto cardboard cake rounds and remove parchment paper.  Using a serrated knife, slice each cake in half horizontally.  You will have four layers.  (Martha is a bit overly explanatory, no?)
6.  Spread 1/3 of the lemon curd filling over the bottom layer.  Top with the second cake layer, and spread with 1/3 more of the filling.  Remove the cake round from second cake.  Top with third cake layer.  Spread with remaining filling.  Top with fourth cake layer.  Chill assembled cake until set, at least one hour, or overnight is fine, too.
7.  Heat oven to 400•.  Using an offset spatula, spread the Swiss Meringue all over the cake, making decorative swirls.  Place cake, still on cake round, on a Silpat lined baking sheet (you could also use Parchment paper, Martha, please.)  Transfer to oven.  Bake, watching carefully, until meringue has browned around edges and begins to brown elsewhere, 3 to 5 minutes.  (You could also use a blow torch if you have one.)  Transfer cake, on round, to a serving plate.  (This is tricky!)  When slicing cake, run a knife under hot water, then wipe dry, and cut.  Repeat with hot water between slices.
Swiss Meringue
6 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1.  Combine the egg whites, sugar, and vanilla in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer.  Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved and whites are hot to the touch, 5 to 7 minutes.
2.  Transfer the bowl ot the electric mixer.  Using the whisk attachment, mix on low speed, gradually increasing to high speed, until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes.  Use immediately.

The cake turned out so pretty. Jaclyn thinks it could be inspiration for a wedding cake, though she would do chocolate cake beneath the meringue - the lemon cake tasted too much like my lemon bread recipe (not special enough).

I really, really loved the Swiss Meringue. Heating the ingredients before whipping changed the texture significantly. I'll never do *regular* meringue again.